Running with Santa’s Elves

This past year, its been no secret to anyone I know that joining the Santa Cruz Endurance running team has been one of the best decisions I made in 2012.  The team members (runners & triathletes, men & women of all ages) are incredible, inspiring, caring and all around wonderful individuals.  In December I got a taste of just how wonderful they all really are.

On December 9, I ran the Jingle Bell Rock 5k with Meg, and Leslie, Laura and Rebecca (three of our other team members) volunteered, took photos and cheered us on (we got high kicks and everything).

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Leslie, Rebecca, Me & Meg

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Meg & I before the race

While there were no records broken, I ran a race just 27 seconds shy of my PR (from November), with a time of 22:50, and was just happy to be out there supporting Toys for Tots, the local community, Finish Line Production, and just running with friends and family.

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Meg, Me, Laura, Michelle & Margaret (M & M are honorary SCE Members in my book)

You can see the complete SCE race recap here.

Just a week later on December 16, I ran the Silicoln Valley Santa Run 5k with Meg, Leslie and Gaylia.  We originally signed up for this race as a fun run, but after the difficult fall I had with health issues, including but not limited to tearing my arch and ruining my plans to run CIM in an attempt to BQ, the ladies decided it would be fun to help pace me to a PR.  When they asked me what I wanted, my only response “anything with a 21:xx.”  The unanimous response?  “Done.”

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Then December 13/14 rolled around and I started wondering what in the world I had gotten myself into…I didn’t think it was going to be possible.  Luckily I am surrounded by wonderful women who were/are more confident in my abilities than I am.  So, December 16 we piled into the car at 2:30pm and headed over the hill to San Jose to run the 4pm 5k. I was off in search of a PR with my Pacing Santa’s Elves (what they dubbed themselves).

We had a pitiful warmup, about .35 miles since we were in search of port-a-potties, but could not find them…they were at the finishline (supposedly), but to be honest I don’t remember seeing them at the finish…I could have been delusional, though.  So we ended up asking very nicely to use the facilities at a hotel near the start line.  We were the ‘last runners’ allowed to use them. Phew!  Cuz that was needed.

Anyway, we lined up, probably the only 4 people NOT in holiday garb or Santa suits (they’re vying to break the record for the most running Santas in the next few years), and at 4pm sharp, we took off.  I opted to turn on my Garmin and then not look at it for the rest of the race, or at least that was the plan (clearly I follow things well).  And I listened to Leslie, the pacing queen, for cues on slowing down and speeding up.  And, quickly the miles ticked by, as I was flanked in front and on my sides by my Pacing Santa’s Elves.

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(L to R) Gaylia, Leslie, Me and Meg

I asked to not hear about mileage until the halfway point, when I knew I would really be needed help.  So we ran, mostly in silence due to the hard pace for me, and ran in solidarity.  At the half way point, Leslie started giving me cues, and we started talking about my status.  I was doing okay still by the 2 mile mark, but shortly thereafter, things began getting harder.  Apparently there is a wall in a 3 mile race when you’re running faster for that distance than you ever have in your life.  With about 4 1/2-5 minutes left, the words “I duno if I can do this…” and “I have to puke” and so on, started coming out of my mouth.  Luckily for me, Gaylia and Leslie kept spitting positive things back at me, making me repeat them.

Unfortunately by this point we had lost Meg due to stomach issues, but I was assured she was just behind us (I became concerned, because it allowed me to not focus on my personal pain), but we had to keep trudging on.  As we turned the corner for the final .4, my body wanted to give up, but as I got the reassurance from the ladies that “the PR is yours to take” and “you’ve got a PR, now you decide how much” is what kept me going.

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Leslie, Me & Gaylia headed toward the finish.

And by golly if I didn’t cross that finish line in pain, but with a 31 second PR: 21:52!

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Happy and exhausted at the finish

We walked back to the car, and headed back to Santa Cruz, not thinking about anything else other than the fact I had achieved my goal, surrounded by wonderful friends.  And then the results were posted later, and we found out we had all age placed!  I was 2nd in my AG and 7th woman OA (what?!)!  Meg was 3rd, Leslie was 2nd and Gaylia was 1st in each of their AG, respectively.  What a fabulous surprise and way to finish out the 2012 racing season (I still have one more on Xmas Day, but that’s not what counts right now)!  Oh, and I hear we have Sports Basement Gift Certificates on the way…

I couldn’t be more thankful to the ladies who ran with me on December 16 for reminding me I was strong enough and fast enough to get the time I wanted, and for helping me end 2012 on a positive note.  This fall hasn’t been easy on a number of levels, and I definitely felt like I still had some good things going for me when I crossed that finish line with a shiney new PR, under the 22 minute barrier.  It definitely took a lot of energy not to cry after I finished, but even though 2012 hasn’t been an easy one, at least I was surrounded by a group of positive individuals that have definitely had a great impact on my life.  You helped me achieve this:

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Sheer Happiness (and a major PR)

How did you end your 2012 racing season?  How are you starting 2013? I still have one more 5k in cold & snowy MN on Xmas Day, and SCE has a 5-6 mile fun run on New Years Day at 01:01:13 (yes, in the afternoon, we’re not that crazy).

***Most of these pictures were ‘stolen’ from PrintRoom Photography.  Please read Meg’s post “An Open Letter to Race Photography Companies” to help jump start the movement towards cheaper downloads of race photos.***

7 thoughts on “Running with Santa’s Elves

  1. Congratulations on such a great race!!!! I am glad that you made the decision to join your running team because it looks like you have had a lot of fun and have had great training partners. I ended up 2012 racing season with a good 5K, but no PR. It’s okay though because I overcame compartment syndrome and that is the most important thing. I might run a 5K in the 3rd week of January to start off the new year. Happy Holidays!

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