This past weekend, I ran in Madison's annual "Run Santa, Run" around the Capitol square. I dressed up as an elf (yes, you read that right) and ran the 3.1-mile loop alongside my best friend. The two of us had a great time getting into the holiday spirit during this Christmas 5k. 

When my best friend asked me if I would want to run a themed race with her last month, I enthusiastically agreed before she even had the chance to finish her question.

I had never run an organized race before, but this just made every aspect of participating even more fun. The first step was to commit and sign up.

Upon sign up, I had to decide if I wanted to run as a Santa, an elf or an Abominable Snowman. This was no easy decision because I truly love all things Christmas. But I decided I was too young to be Santa and too short to be an Abominable Snowman, so I settled on an elf.

The next thing I had to do was pick up my racing packet the day before the Christmas 5k. This included my elf shirt, festive hat and bib.

Lilly Zoller

Now that I had all the necessary clothing, it was finally time for the race. The weather was just about as perfect as a Madison day in December will get. My friend and I eagerly headed to the Capitol where we met hundreds of other runners with holiday spirit just about as strong as ours. After taking some photos, we gathered at the starting line and waited for the announcer to kick off the race. I put my headphones in and pressed play on my favorite Christmas playlist. Seconds later, we began our run. 

Lilly Zoller

About a mile in, we reached the first station. Smiling volunteers passed out Hershey's Kisses at the "kissing booth." Mistletoe hung from a string under which runners posed for photos with their loved ones. I couldn't stop though. My favorite Christmas song, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" was blasting and I was smiling from ear to ear. 

At the next mile marker, we reached the second station. Yet again, cheery helpers passed out sugar cookies to tired runners. We enjoyed this sweet treat as we continued toward the finish line.

Lilly Zoller

At the top of a hill just 0.1 miles away from the end, my friend and I grabbed a candy cane from the next station. Finally, we could see the finish line and we were thrilled. We sprinted to the end where we were met with photographers and screaming community members.

Lilly Zoller

My friend and I posed for a few final pictures as we congratulated one another for finishing the race in under 30 minutes.

I'm so glad I ran this Christmas 5k this holiday season. I may not have finished with the most impressive time, but I look back on the race and feel a sense of pride that I accomplished something new. I also had the opportunity to get into the holiday spirit with my best friend...and what's better than that?