Winter Road Trip: Do the [Santa]hustle
Did Santa pause in his around the world road trip and make it by yesterday? If he didn’t, it may be because he got lost in a sea of Santas in Tennessee! Just in time after the holidays, I wanted to get this post up. I love going on running road trips with friends. So when the Bluegrass Runners (an awesome running club!) picked the Santa Hustle Smokies race for its winter road trip, I was one of the first club members to sign up. How can you go wrong with a race description like this . . .
“If you are a Christmas lover, enjoy overplayed holiday music, and devouring candy and cookies, then grab your favorite friends and family and register for the 2017 Santa Hustle® Smokies 5k and Half Marathon!”
and a course description like this . . .
“This is a mainly flat course on paved roads. Both the 5K and half marathon are out and back courses. If you would like an elevation map for the half marathon please contact us.”
A caravan of Bluegrass Runners hit the road to Sevierville, TN. Mark had taken care of lodging: a cabin with enough room for everyone going on the trip! After unloading our vehicles, the first order of business was getting food for the weekend. Mark, David, and Ernie headed off to the grocery store. When the guys returned they attempted to get a fire going, which was definitely a group effort. After a wonderful dinner prepared by the guys, we spent the rest of the evening playing games and eating lots of cookies!
Everyone had a shakeout run to do in the morning. The group hit the trails for 5-6 miles.
I only had a 20 minute run on the schedule, so I stayed close to the cabin for a solo run on the road.
After running I was off to packet pickup. There wasn’t an expo, so there was nothing to look at or purchase. The race swag included a Santa Hat, Santa Beard, Santa Shirt, and Candy Cane Socks.
The rest of the day was spent eating, watching basketball/football, trying and failing to get the fireplace started again, and obsessing about race day weather. We were all concerned about racing when the temperature was predicted to be in the 20’s with a “feel like” temperature of 13 degrees. Yikes! Thankfully my wonderful coach had already talked to me about what I should wear.
Speaking of what to wear on race day . . . I decided to skip the Santa outfit and wear my new Pro compression snowflake socks and an outfit that matched my socks and my beautiful new Ponya Band (The pattern is called “Miss Peacock Plays the Blues” – how cute is that?). Everyone on the trip was strongly encouraging me to wear the Santa outfit. I sent a picture of both outfits to the Skortaholics, and they told me to stay strong and wear my blue outfit!
Sunday (Race Day):
Getting to the race start was a breeze with lots of parking near the start of the race. Our group had somehow gotten separated on the drive to the race, but we had arrived in plenty of time to gather for a group picture. It was not as cold as was predicted, but it was still really cold. The race starts and finishes at the Wilderness at the Smokies Hotel and Waterpark Resort, so we had a warm place to hang out before the race started.
I handed my winter coat to my husband at the start line. Oh my, I was really cold. I began to rethink my decision of wearing 2 long sleeve shirts and no jacket. I was so worried about freezing the entire 13 miles. Not good thoughts to have just before a race starts. The race started on time, so I didn’t have a lot of time to obsess about not wearing a jacket. (For anyone wondering, I didn’t get cold. I think one shirt would have been ok.) The course is on open roads with cones separating the runners and traffic. There were plenty of water/gatorade, candy, and cookie stations. It is an out and back course, but it is not mainly flat as stated on the race website. According to Strava, the elevation gain for this race was 508 feet. Most (if not all) of the elevation gain was from miles 3 to mile 10. The elevation gain made this a tough race for me and several of the Bluegrass Runners.
After the race there was bananas, water, snack bars, toasted muffins, cookies, and plain milk. I was confused about the plain milk. Was the race was going for the milk and cookie theme for Santa? Regardless, I think a better choice for a recovery drink would have been chocolate milk.
This was a really fun running road trip. Spending time with friends in the cabin was definitely the highlight of the weekend. The race swag and finisher medal were nice. The Christmas themed outfits made for a colorful race. (But, I think the race director should change the course description from “mainly flat” to “hilly”!)
So, if you are up for a few hills and lots of Santa fun, see you next year at the Santa Hustle! Happy Holidays!