Family traditions are important, especially around seasonal holidays like Christmas. This year’s brand-new family tradition coincided with the inaugural Santa Hustle Daytona Beach 5K and Half Marathon. In the spirit of family, I ‘encouraged’ my nephew, Nick to run the 5K with me. After a few weeks of (his occasional) and some anxiety, the big day had finally arrived. I was sick to my stomach. Don’t ask me why but terror gripped my heart and I actually wished there was a way to get out of the race. However, this was Nick’s very first race, so I took a deep breath and laced up my Mizunos. It was time to get our hustle on! We arrived at the Ocean Center, Daytona Beach with more than enough time to spare. The atmosphere was very festive with Christmas music blaring and Santas all over the place. Dunkin Donuts provided hot beverages and baked goods. However, I hardly gave their tent a look because I’d already had breakfast and a sugar jolt wouldn’t have been the smartest pre-race move. We took in the area’s areas sights and sounds as I hoped that it would calm his nerves a bit. His friend Zack soon arrived and the youths set off to explore, while the band of relatives hung out together. It was a lovely time and I even got a chance to say hello to Megan Wood. She’s the mind behind the fabulous I Run for Wine blog and this was her first half-marathon. Her start time was 9:00 am, while ours was half an hour later.
As we watched the three hundred half-marathoners assemble for their start, it was time to get ready for ours. I stored our little bag with the Gear Check and saw that there were extra safety pins and zip ties. There’s nothing worse than the panic over lost/misplaced safety pins on race day. The deejay turned up the music as we assembled and even waved for a snapshot taken by TRC Photo. With my Nike+ running app set and the young dudes to my left, it was time to go. Oh wait, there was a little speech by the race’s founder…and then we were off! Police stopped traffic as we crossed the main intersection before heading up to Ocean Avenue. I noticed some folks recording video and looking on bemusedly at this mob of five hundred and thirty-five Santas, with a few reindeer and elves in there too. We turned down Main Street to the exit and there it was: Daytona Beach in all its glory. Except for some rough patches that forced us to walk or risk twisted ankles, the sand was compacted so running was a challenge but not an impossible one. For the past week, I’ve been planning my outfit for this race. I knew about the Santa hat and shirt, but lately the mornings had been rather crisp and the beach is usually pretty windy. I experimented with various tops and trackies that would help me to comfortably withstand wind. It never occurred to me that there on this morning, there would be no wind whatsoever.
None whatsoever! There were a few bewildered tourists, little birds and even a bit of fog but no wind. Nick and Zack had taken off ahead of me, but eventually I caught up with them…and passed them. In fact, I passed a number of people and probably should have started closer to the front of the start area; but the first-timers preferred to be in the back. Like a good auntie, I obliged them but it’s good to know that I’m definitely a bit faster than the last time. I ran the first mile and found the water station before our turning point to head back down the beach. Now the sun was in my face and the sand had many more rough patches. The heat beat me like I owed it money and it felt like all the moisture had been sucked out of my body. Thankfully and shamelessly, I got water a second time and then dug in deep for the rest of the course. I saw the boys as I headed down and gave them a thumbs-up as I ran along. The Santa hat started to cook my head, so I took it off until we were back on asphalt. I remembered Megan’s warning about that extra layer but it was way too late for that now. Seeing the Ferris wheel in the distance, I walked here and there to conserve energy for the final push. Zack blew past me as I approached the final corner and I knew that Nick wasn’t far behind him. That was when I decided to book it. Some runners who’d already finished were on the sidewalks as I ran across the intersection towards the start/finish line. Phew, it was over! I’d completed my second 5K in under an hour. Now, I just had to get out of this undershirt.
I found my nephew after emerging from the washroom. He was with his Dad, who had been on the beach to take photos and give support. We all met up with Zack and his family in the Ocean Center’s ballroom to cool down in the air condition and take in some of the awards. Everybody had a really good time. We guzzled water and took even more photos to commemorate our achievement. Adrenaline Sports Management had made good use of the front area of the building. There were large tubs with bottled water, bananas and protein bars, in addition to Gatorade for participants and their supporters. The Information and Gear Check tents were clearly visible, with extra. There were a number of portable toilets and the Ocean Center allowed runners to use their washroom facilities. Trust me; a last-minute toilet stop is imperative before any race, especially if you drank a bottle of water like I did. Before we left, I grabbed some of the free food items and even shopped at a local retailer who had set up a stall there. You see, the most valuable lesson I learned that day was that my clothes felt all wrong because they didn’t fit properly. The Santa shirt was too big and my pants were too baggy. I was really uncomfortable and wished to just take it all off. Ah, so that’s why some people run in skimpy outfits! Good grief, am I one of those people? We’ll see next year. For now, I’ll just go back to Small-ville from Medium-ville and happily so, I might add.
At BJ’s Restaurant for lunch, we saw some other Santa Hustlers who were there to celebrate as well. It was a really good day and my nephew thanked me for ‘dragging him’ into it. He’s looking forward to another race with more of his friends while I’ve still got my eye on the Daytona 5K, Saturday January 26th 2013. I know that it’s going to be tough because of the weather; but this is the one I decided to do while standing on the Superstretch at the washed out Daytona 500. As my friend Nakia reminded me recently, this race is the reason I started running in the first place. It’s the big kahuna and I can’t let it pass me by. I’d even go so far as to say that I’d never forgive myself for wimping out on the Speedway race. I mean really, how often do you get to run a lap of an internationally renowned auto racing circuit? My friends, I simply must. The next five weeks will be about building up, tearing down and getting ready for that race; in addition to a lot of other things that I’ll hopefully be able to tell you about very soon. All I can say for now is that 2013 is going to be one heck of a year for me. That is of course, once I survive Christmas. No retreat, no surrender and no excuses! This was My Fitness Revolution: Day 408.