Ho. Ho. Ho. Merry Christmas from Santa’s Twilight 5k Run on Honeymoon Island!
I try to do at least one holiday-themed 5k a year, so when Mary forwarded the link to the inaugural Santa’s Twilight Run I immediately signed up. It was a small race run by a local company with the promise of a finisher’s medal, cute shirt, and exotic location (island = exotic, right?). Throw in a stellar price and a group of good friends to run with and I was sold.
Bonus points for an excuse to wear my Target holiday socks again in a race.
(The shoes are the new Brooks PureConnects 2. I’ll have a review up soon!)
I met the gang (Bill, Stephanie, Mary, and Marcus) at a central location, then rode with them to Honeymoon Island for the race. We left with PLENTY of time to spare before the start (about two hours worth) and arrived just in time to see the last glimmer of the sun setting in the far distance.
Turns out we didn’t need that much time. There were no problems with traffic, parking was a breeze, and packet pick-up took all of 5 minutes. Still, it’s always better to be super early than super late.
LOVED the Santa bibs! This might be my favorite bib of all time.
The shirts were plain ole cotton, which I expected from the low registration fee. Cute graphic though.
Do you like our headbands? Stephanie found them at the dollar store – I thought they were adorable.
It was a little chilly waiting outside for the race to start. The race takes place on Honeymoon Island, which is a gorgeous state park. Being so close to the water, with no buildings to block the wind, made for a little bit of a chill in the air. Nothing worth bundling up for, but enough to warrant waiting out the hour+ we had until the start in the heated car. We killed an hour listening to music and playing “DrawSomething” on my phone (we had fun passing the phone around and all trying to draw “fart” for the game against my brother).
Since there was such a small field (we guessed around 300 runners based on Bill’s last minute bib number), we joked that Mary could easily win the race. Mary is crazy fast and this would not have been the first race she’s taken first place home at. Mary considered it, then said she would just run it for fun. We all made a semi-pact to run the race together and not turn competitive about it (ha! foreshadowing).
We left the car and walked over to the start about 10 minutes before go time. They were handing out glow-in-the dark necklaces that would quite literally become our guiding lights during the race.
Steph, ” Look! A Christmas tree!”
Mary and Meghann, “Where?!” (looking around for a real Christmas tree)
Steph, ” The guy with the star on his head.”
Ha! Love it! The tree ended up winning the costume contest. The lights lit up and everything.
At 7:00pm the race kicked off with a bit of an anti-climatic start. We were all joking about on thing or another and – bam! – all of a sudden everyone was running. Time to start!
The Twilight 5K course is a cool concept. The race is at night on an empty island with very limited lighting. As soon as we turned the first corner, our surroundings went pitch black. I could no longer see my fellow runners around me, all I saw were a couple of hundred glow-in-the dark necklaces heading in what I was only assuming was the right direction.
The course was marked with hundreds and hundreds of luminaries that twisted and curved around Honeymoon Island.
Don’t worry, the luminaries were safe – no real fires were used in the making of this race course, only glow sticks.
It took a while for my eyes to adjust the darkness. I’m pretty sure the blind leading were the blind out there. I followed the moving glow necklaces and just assumed they knew were they were going. I was surrounded by a big group of necklaces the first half mile, but the deeper we got into the race, the more it thinned out.
The first half a mile of the race we stuck together as a group. Then Bill and Marcus took off and I realized pretty quickly I couldn’t keep up with their speedier pace. Mary followed them, leaving Stephanie and I as a running duo. We ran together until the halfway point, then I started to slow down and fall farther behind.
I am not in running shape at all. 10 months ago I ran a half marathon at an 8:00 min/mi pace, tonight I couldn’t hold that for three miles. Ha! I could give you a million excuses, but what it came down to is that I simply can’t run a fast race at this point and time. I’m 100% fine with that. If I were training, that would be a different story, but for right now it is was it is.
In the final mile, I stopped and walked for a bit, then attempted to pick up the pace. It was so dark out that I could barely make out the volunteers directing runners. There were some confusing twists and turns towards the end that really threw me off, I second guessed myself at one turn, then saw a glowing necklace in the distance and knew I was in the right spot.
I made the final turn towards the finish line and sprinted to the end.
Final time: 26:39
Oddly enough, a good enough time to land me the second place spot in my age group ( out of 10).
The beauty of small races, you’re almost guaranteed to place. Woo hoo! Not my speediest run ever, but still monumental with that shiny second place prize in my collection.
Oh, and remember when Mary was saying how she was just doing this race for run? Umm.. yeah. She accidentally won the whole thing and took first female overall. That girl is fast without even trying! Go Mary!!
The finish line had water and cookies for the finishers.
Good cookies, too! They were all homemade and delicious looking. I had the pretzel/ Hershey Kiss/ and M&Ms cookie and it was AMAZING..
However, there was something missing. Oh, yeah, that cool medal we were promised. Whoops! There was a mess up in Orlando that put the medals on a delay. They were on their way, but it would be a while. We tried waiting it out for the medals and award ceremony, but had to give up after over an hour of waiting around.
No biggie. The race director promised they would send the medals to all of the finishers this week. *fingers crossed!* Medal or not, we still had a blast. The race has a few quirks to work out, but I really liked the concept of running on Honeymoon Island at night.. maybe they just need to figure out another way to light the course so you’re not afraid of tripping or falling with every step? Just a thought.
We also have some costume ideas for next year. Picture this: Marcus as Santa and the four of us as reindeer pulling sleigh. Think about it.
After we left the race site, we headed straight to Ozona Pig for a much-anticipated BBQ dinner.
At 9:00pm, we were their only customers. This small town sure knows how to party hard on a Saturday night.
Our table started with chips and salsa and some BBQ hot tamales.
The three girls all ordered the same thing for dinner: three sliders (two with pork and one with beef), coleslaw, and a side of fries.
The BBQ was okay, but the fries were what really had my attention. The fresh cut fries tasted just like Five Guys fabulous fries. I ate almost the entire basket. Sooooo good!
I arrived home full, tired, and grinning ear-to-ear. Such a fun night!
Now I am so ready for bed.
Are you running a holiday-themed race this year? Did you dress up?