Race Report: Santa Hustle Half Marathon


I am a little behind in my race reports.  Sorry about that! On December 16th, I participated in a really fun race... the Santa Hustle Half in Indianapolis, IN.  This was an unplanned race that I found out about via the Groupon service.  A Half Marathon for only $30!  Well, I couldn't pass that up!  And, there were a lot of friends from the Half Fanatics planning on running the race as well, particularly my friends Jen and Michael, so I knew the race would be fun!

The first interesting thing about the race was its organizer, the Adrenaline Sports Management.  When I registered, I realized that ASM is located about 10 minutes from my house in Illinois!  So I contacted them to ask if I could pick up my race packet from their offices rather than having to go to Packet Pickup in Indy.  They agreed!  That was a real help to me because I didn't have to add in the travel time to Packet Pickup on Saturday afternoon.

One of the cool things about this race, other than its cool medal, was that each participant received a Santa costume to wear: a technical shirt that looked like Santa's coat, a Santa hat, and a Santa beard!  This was going to be the first time that I ran a race wearing the race shirt because it was expected.  How fun!


My friend with whom I ran the Indianapolis Monumental Half, Kipp, offered to let me stay at his place on the Saturday before the race which was very nice of him and much appreciated.  I arrived at his place on Saturday evening, and headed out to dinner.  It was great to talk and share stories over a good meal.  Then we went back to the house to watch Christmas movies until I had to get some sleep before the race the next day.

On Sunday morning, I got up, ate my pre-race breakfast, and got all my gear together.  I wished Kipp was running with me but the race was full when he tried to register.  So I drove to downtown and found a free parking space about a five minute walk from the race start.  It was 50F so practically summer weather for me!  I got there about an hour before race start and went looking for my Half Fanatic friends -- I didn't want to miss out on the group photo this time!


I found my friends, took the group photos, and took a warm-up job down the race route.  The race started along the same route I ran during the summer when I was in Indy for the Episcopal General Convention so that was kinda cool.

Then it was time for the race to start.  It was so cool to see hundreds of "Santas" all standing and waiting for the race to start.  Imagine what it looked like as the race began and all these Santas took off down the path.  At about 1/2 mile, we left the river path and hit the streets.  It must have been a sight to see by all the cars and pedestrians.

I was having a great time!  I felt really good out there and although I was treating this race as a training run, my energy levels were high as were my spirits.  So my pace was bit faster than my usual Long Run pace.  There were a fair number of race supporters along the major roads and that was cool.  Race support was good too -- decent number of water/sports drink stations, aid stations, and 'cookie' stations!  I did not take any of the cookies though (nothing new on race day).


I brought my own fuel as well as my water belt, but I decided not to use my water bottle and stick with race-provided water/sports drink.  I have been testing out running races without my own water supplies.  It has worked in recent races so I am encouraged that I might have one less item to wear during races.

At about mile 5.5, I ran into my friends Michael Hoyt and Jen Leugers, Half Fanatics and Marathon Maniacs, who live in Indiana.  They are great runners and I have been lucky to cultivate friendships with them.  We ran together for about a mile before they  headed off at a faster pace than I was prepared to maintain.  I just kept moving forward.

I was doing pretty well with the course, which is mostly flat.  I did hit one hill around Mile 7 or 8 which I decided to walk up rather than run because of my heart rate.  But other than that, I ran the inclines in the course and felt pretty proud that I was able to do that.  I pretty much 'ran' the race, only walking when I reached water stations.


At about Mile 10, I was walking through a water station, eating a GU and drinking, when another runner came by and encouragingly said "Keep going!  You can do this!"  I had to smile,  Even though I felt fine, the encouragement was appreciated.  So I kept running behind her for the remainder of the race.

When we got to Mile 11, we were back on the running path that I was familiar with from my summer training in Indy.  That gave me some more energy, knowing that I was both familiar with where I was and that I was getting close to the Finish.  I picked up my pace somewhat.

When I got to the last 1/2 mile, I was really focused and excited!  I felt strong so I pushed hard to the Finish Line.  I finished with a time of 2:21:17 which is my second fastest Half Marathon time this year!  Since I was not really trying for a PR and did not have a finish goal in mind, I was very pleased with this result!  Later, I found out that I had passed my friends Jen and Connie on that sprint to the Finish, but I didn't even know it (they called out but I never heard them).


What a fun race!  Nothing like seeing all those Santas running!  I am so glad that I got to run this race!  Afterwards, I was able to go back to Kipp's place to shower and get cleaned up before driving back to Illinois.  Kipp, THANK YOU for your awesome hospitality!

On the 4-hour drive back to Illinois, I had a fun little experience at a gas station.  I was wearing my medal, my Indy Monumental tech shirt, shorts, and a pair of lime green recovery socks (my W.I.S.H. socks).  As I was walking from my car to get something to eat, a woman yelled at me to complement my 'festive socks'.  Then she walked with me to go inside.  I just thought how funny I must look to everyone.

I drove home listening to the Bears lose their game on the radio.  Ugh!!!  Oh well.  I arrived home safely, sporting my medal and a smile.  All was good as I completed my 20th race for 2012.  The next weekend from this race will be my 20-miler -- my culminating training run for the Goofy Challenge in January.

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