12ks of Christmas, “TMH,” and Taper-Fail

Overstated yet necessary proclamation of the day:

I’m seriously over how dark it is.

I feel the darkness seeping into my overall outlook on life and happiness. No, not really…but kinda, right? I’m done with it…I’m ready for the sun to be up and blaring in my eyes at 5 am again.

Moving on…hello! How’s it going? I feel like everyone is wavering between glaring at a to-do list and planning all the possible sweets they can bake and consume before the Christmas excuse is over. Does this sound like you? If so, YAY WE’RE TWINS! Seriously though, my shopping is about 98% done, and aside from a few loose ends to tie up by the end of the day on Friday, I am ready to get my Christmas in Colorado on.

This weekend, BF and I participated in the 12ks of Christmas race—the first 12k for both of us. Hooray for automatic PRs!

We woke up alert and peppy on Sunday morning and got all decked in our Christmasified race gear:

all races should require costumes

I was really into the candy cane socks (props to BF for selecting them!) and the antlers were wonderful, although they had to come off for the run.

As you might remember from my Running Wish List, my goal for this race was to run the 7.45 miles in under an hour. I was nervous, but I felt like I would be able to pull it off. So although the nerves were there, going into the race I wasn’t entirely focused on the task at hand.

Now, before I go into details of the race, let me preface it all with the final result:

my "Garmin"

Huzzah! This was the time I clocked myself, and in the end my chip time was 56:52. Better than I’d hoped, and I was psyched to see my final stats.

Robyn Broker

bib number:116

overall place:139 out of 1423

division place:10 out of 210

gender place:34 out of 907


In a nutshell, this was actually perhaps the worst race I’ve ever run. I’m very proud of my time and happy I was able to push through to the end, but I have actually never faced tougher miles than those in this little cutesy Christmas race.If this was the bottom line, then I would say I was delighted with this race. And technically, the final results are the bottom line when it comes to racing. However, for me, numbers aren’t what it’s all about, and unfortunately I’m having a hard time blocking out everything else that came out of this race—as in, everything but the final result.

So, to recap why this race—well, sucked:

– About 100 feet after the start line, we went straight uphill. My brain: “Wait, what? Really? Did I check an elevation chart?” In other words, FREAK OUT. Not that I can’t handle a hill, but a right-off-the-bat surprise hill is seriously not cool.

[To all race directors: Give your runners at least 1/2 mile before you send them uphill]

– Due to my slight panic, I was immediately winded. WTF? I have not been winded since running 400 meter repeats in high school track. I’m talking like wheezy winded—not normal for someone who runs regularly, especially IN THE FIRST MILE.

– Mile marker 1: Look down at my watch to see 8:32 looking back at me.

Not. Good.

First of all, when I do my easy pace long runs I average 8:30 miles…easily. I was feeling like crap at this point and no where near the 8 min/mile average I needed to reach my goal. Brain: “Shit.”

– So despite my oxygen-less lungs and lead legs, I picked up my pace. I was mostly bogged down by my brain at this point: “Why is this happening? You always run on Sunday mornings and never have these problems, what’s wrong with you?” Looking back, my brain was perhaps my biggest barrier in this race. Funny how that organ can immediately overpower all previously conceived notions.

– Mile 2-3, another LONG hill. It was a little funny at this point…not only had I not even considered to look at an elevation map for this little 12k, but it had successfully already been harder than anything I’ve done recently. In an everyday run, it ususally takes me about 3 miles to really hit my feel-good stride, so I was praying this would be the case in this race. And then the hill just kept going…

-After climbing a ways, we finally leveled off, and I began to regain some brain control. There was a water station midway through the race, and although under normal race circumstances I probably wouldn’t have bothered, it was a saving grace in this race. It gave me a brief moment of nerve settling and refocusing my logic. We thankfully hit some big downhills (about time!), and I made up some serious time in my attempts to hurl down those stretches as fast as possible.

-I finally settled down and felt great at mile 5, and although I was still so bewildered at how much of a newbie I felt like, I continued at a strong pace and ran to the finish line feeling pretty good.

{A pro-looking runner man congratulated my ‘strong kick’ at the end. This made me happy.}

I waited for a few minutes at the finish line and then saw BF fly around the corner to finish in 62 minutes, three minutes below his goal time! The first words out of his mouth:


No interpretation needed for me, as I knew he meant, “Too many hills.”

So, despite the TMH and the mental ass kicking, I was and am happy with my time. I did, surprisingly, learn a lot from this race—and I’m actually happy that these lessons came in the form of a small 12k race instead of a half or a full marathon.

Lesson #1) Tapering is not just for long races

I realize I’m going to sound like a huge fool when I admit this, and you’ll probably be all, “No shit you felt like hell Robyn.” Warranted, but I can explain: You see, because I took a day off on Thursday, I decided to do a longer, 13 mile run on Friday. On Saturday, I did my typical double spin class. Therefore, I was really anything but rested. Honestly, I figured that because I always do my mega long runs on Sundays, I could whip out 7.45 without changing my regular routine.

Mistake. Next time, no matter the distance, I’ll take my tapering more seriously—especially if I have a goal time in mind.

Lesson #2) Warm up

Honestly, I’ve never been one of those people running around before races start. I’m not great at warming up, and I’d rather just get going. Warming up sends my nerves a-flutter, and I always would rather save my energy for the race itself. However, that’s not to say that starting a race cold is all fine and dandy. Quite the opposite, in fact. When BF and I stepped into the corral, we had both been standing still in the cold misty rain—with very little movement or even stretching. Problematic.

Rookie mistake. Even if you don’t run around before a race, make sure to at least keeping moving and stretching.

Lesson #3) If you let your brain speak louder than your body, it will always win.

One of my favorite mantras/quotes from an old basketball coach is:

“Your body is a lot stronger than your brain gives it credit for.”

In other words, your brain is the greatest barrier you will face when it comes to challenging and pushing yourself. This goes for people who are just starting to run all the way to Olympic athletes. And in all honesty, I actually hadn’t really felt this truth for a while until this race, and it was humbling. For the most part, I typically feel confident in my abilities to push out a strong performance, but perhaps I need to make sure that I don’t get overconfident in my confidence.

In other words, I need to remember that our brains are funny little devils—and given the opportunity they can easily trump all our better knowledge.

Lesson #4: Learn to strap on head apparel tight enough to run in.

I was seriously jealous of the people who managed to run with their sweet santa hats, antlers, halos, etc. I must learn their tricks!

So there you have it, the story of the 12ks of Christmas. I think the most important thing I realized from this race was that a great finish time doesn’t always mean a great race, and in the same regard a not-so-good finish time doesn’t always mean a bad race. I’m really happy with my final time, but I also would have been happy feeling strong and solid throughout the race—as opposed to feeling like my 6th grade-self who loathed distance running with every spec of my being.

In the end, it was truly a great way to start the final week of Christmas season, and the bagels and coffee afterward were delectable.

BF thinks he looks hungover in this photo, I say he looks like a post-race runner!

Also, I want to say just how incredibly proud and impressed I am with BF’s racing and running ventures. He was never a runner until very recently, and the fact that he has now finished 4 races since July (including a half marathon) is really quite inspiring. I love being able to share running with him, and hopefully we’re just getting started 🙂 I know he’s planning the day he’ll beat me in a race, I say….bring it on boy.

So couple-y. Whatever.

I hope your week has started off magically, and if not I suggest buttery cookies and watching Love Actually.

What lessons have you learned from races that went different than you expected? Have you ever done a race in a costume? If so, and you wore a headpiece, how do you secure it???

2 thoughts on “12ks of Christmas, “TMH,” and Taper-Fail

  1. sweetmaddy

    I agree on the darkness thing! When I wake up here at 7, it is PITCH black, and it doesn’t get truly light until around 8:30! I will appreciate spring and summer soooo much more now. Great job on the race, I LOVE your blog, it’s very inspiring! (Btw this is Maddy B from college in case you are like whotf is sweetmady?) ❤

    1. runbirdierun Post author

      Maddy! Of course I know it’s you 🙂 I’m so happy you read it, seriously your comments have both made my day. Please have a croissant for me soon. xoxo


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