Santa Hustle – Smokies Half Marathon

In a sharp contrast to my previously self-proclaimed “Best Race Ever!” I think it’s safe to say this was my worst. I did finish, with a time that I would have been perfectly happy with about 4 months ago – but barely. And coming off my high from the Secret City Half made my worse than mediocre performance that much harder to swallow.

I’m being a bit dramatic, I know. But it was dramatic for me. And emotionally taxing, and painful. So painful…

To the recap we go!


Race: Santa Hustle – Smokies Half Marathon

Where: Sevierville, TN

Date & Time: December 9th 2012, 8:00 AM

Weather: Unseasonably beautiful. We are in the middle of December here folks, so when the weather was predicting highs in the low 70’s I was more than a bit surprised. The weather was wonderful when we first started off – sunny and cool. But as the morning progressed, and the incessant sun beat down on me, I was ready for some snow.

Race Time: 2:08:16. Not my worst time by any means. But a far cry (about 15 minutes far) from my previous race time of 1:54. It hurts just to type that…

Worst Mile: Every mile after mile 4. Let’s talk about this for a second shall we? So I wore my new shoes. My shoes that I have run a grand total of just over 7 miles in. Turns out, you should probably break your shoes in first before you go run a race that doubles the mileage you’ve put on them. Also, my complete lack of training during the last 3 weeks was pitiful at best. I’ve done absolutely no strength training whatsoever in months and I honestly think that the combination of it just got to me and I broke. Not literally, but my knee started acting up at mile 4 and got increasingly worse as the miles wore on. You do the math – that’s 9 miles of increasing pain that began to work its way up to my hip leaving me limping and whimpering throughout the remainder of the race.

As a result, I was forced to stop and stretch about twice a mile, walking a bit, only to start running again and have the pain immediately return, screaming for me to stop. Stop, stretch, walk, run for a bit and repeat. This happened all the way through mile 12 and only the fact that I knew my parents and J were at the finish line helped me run the last through the last .1 mile.

Fuel: Banana, peanut butter Power Bar, and coffee

How did I feel: When I first started, pretty good. The weather was cool and refreshing and I felt ready to push myself. By the end however, I was in the worst shape I’ve ever been during a race.

Best part of the race (besides the finish): Having my parents be there. This was my first race they have ever come to and it was awesome to see them at the finish line cheering me on.

The Swans

The parents. That’s my mom in the ‘Mom’ sweater in case you were confused. That’s me in the middle in case the sweet beard was throwing you off.

Worst part of the race: I saw John as I came around the bend towards the finish line and I cracked. Thankfully he was not with my parents because I started crying. Running, crying, and snorting to him how my knee hurt in front of 100 other spectators. Thankfully I managed to pull myself together by the time I saw my parents.

If you look real close, you can see my distorted and ugly cry face. Go. Me.

If you look real close, you can see my distorted and ugly cry face. Go. Me.

Weirdest thing I saw: The fact that they give you a Santa beard, hat, and shirt to run it created a sea of Santas that was really quite awesome to see. SantasAlas, the warm weather hindered me from wearing the various Santa paraphernalia as I knew I would be too hot in a long-sleeved shirt and hat and faux beards are quite itchy. Also, there was a guy without a shirt on running in the beard and some fashionable holiday themed boxer shorts that was quite charming.

Hardware: Santa Medal

Final Thoughts: This race was one of the more well-organized that I’ve been too. Although race-day parking was a bit of a cluster, packet pick-up was easy, the aid stations were plentiful and frequent, and the volunteers were all very sweet and encouraging.

I just sucked. You may think I’m being a bit hard on myself because, hey, you can PR them all and something was obviously wrong with my knee. But I can’t help but feel that there were several preventative measures that could have been taken that could have made this race awesome for me. So really, I feel pretty strongly that it’s mostly my fault. Lack of proper training, and the stupid mistake of running in shoes that are more or less right out of the box.

So I sit here and type this, drugged up on ibuprofen icing my knee, and being bitter. But I really can’t be all that sad, because I finished. I finished with my parents and J waiting for me at the finish line offering their praises &support and giving me some much-needed love.

I actually had a wonderful weekend, more on that to come. No – there was no bling-blinding jewelry after this race like last time (I suppose you can’t get engaged after every race…) but I was able to clock some good family time in and that’s always nice.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend as well! Happy Monday!


10 thoughts on “Santa Hustle – Smokies Half Marathon

  1. I am not looking forward to the heat of Summer, its painful to think about but you just reminded me how thankful I am for 70 degrees or less. Anyway, sorry to hear your race didn’t meet expectations but you are right to blame yourself… =). I love that you snuck in your engagement in your post again, I look for it…it’s like a game of where’s Engagedo. You reserve the right to mention it in every post until your wedding! I hope the knee feel better, RICE it up.

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