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Race Recap: Santa Barbara Half Marathon

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

I signed up for the Santa Barbara half marathon over the summer when I realized my running motivation was somewhat dwindling and I needed something to pick me up.  The Santa Barbara Half sounded like the perfect race for me to bust out of my running rut.  For one, I LOVE Santa Barbara.  We visit two to three times a year so I figured making a trip out of this race would be perfect. The hubby went to UCSB and tells me about once a week that he wants to move back there.We have great friends in Santa Barbara that we always have the best time when we visit and get together.   And Santa Barbara itself is just so amazingly clean, refreshing, and beautiful (and full of delicious wine).

Beach at Santa Barbara

 

Sporting my first non Villanova sweatshirt. Go Wildca ... err Gauchos!

 

On UCSB's campus

The price for this race was fantastic – 50 dollars.  Just a race should be.  I still can’t believe when I shovel out 1oo+ dollars for a race.  Ridiculous!  It of course doesn’t stop me, but I still thing that’s crazy!  I initially started my training for this race about 12 weeks out.  I began by following my training plan that I used for my first half marathon.  My first half still had my PR so I figured by going back to that plan I would hopefully be a little faster than I was at Carlsbad.  Speed and time were still not my priority, but I’m not going to lie when I say I wanted to improvw at least a little bit from my 12:00 mile pace at my last race.  The first couple of weeks I stuck pretty closely to the training plan.  This time however, I added doing a ton of yoga a week as well as weekly strength training sessions with my trainer.  Weight and strength training have always been my weak point and something I would never like to do on my own.  You can imagine how surprised I was after doing my first long run (8+) miles that I felt so good when I finished.  I didn’t notice a big increase in my time, but my legs felt strong and I didn’t feel tired after my long runs were finished.  I distinctly remember during my training for my last two halfs how much I dreaded long runs and how I would rejoice when they were done!

As the weeks went on, my work schedule got a little crazier and I found that I had to cut down on my number of training runs per week.  I would still make it go to yoga 3-4 times a week, but I was no longer sticking to my original training plan.  I would still do one long run per week, along with a speed workout and then a shorter run.  The longest run I did before actual race day was 10.5 miles three weeks before.  I kept mind tripping my self after the long runs. My pace was still about a 10:00-11:00 min/mile, butI would feel so unnaturally good after them that I didn’t want to keep doing them because I was afraid something would change!

The Sunday before the race I ran in a Race for the Cure 5k in San Diego.  I just did it for fun and was planning on running my usual pace.  I had competed in a 5k back in April and finished with a time around 29:00 minutes so I figured I would be finishing in about the same about time.  Imagine my shock when I clocked in at 8:42 for the first mile!  I have not trained at this pace in years so I was in complete shock when I was running this pace with seemingly no extra exerted effort.  I finished the 5k in about 27:00 minutes.  I was happy with the time, but worried I had exhausted my little running legs and would fall apart by race day!  I didn’t run the rest of that week!

Weather plays a huge factor in my motivation to run.  I’m pretty lucky living in San Diego and having pretty much perfect running weather all year.  I never run when it is super hot outside or when it is cold and rainy. I don’t like it. My body doesn’t like it. So I just don’t do it.  So you can imagine how thrilled I was when the weather forecast was calling for rain that whole weekend!

We drove up to Santa Barbara Friday morning the day before the race.  I had a strength training session that morning where I basically did low weight, high reps, and lots of stretching.  The weather forcast had me majorly stressed about what I was going to wear on race day.  We stopped at Target on the way up to get some throw away clothes.  No way was I going to freeze my butt off waiting an hour+ at the start line in the cold rain!  Literally the moment we hit Santa Barbara the rain drops started falling.  We headed to the expo to pick up our packets.  It was quick and efficient and overwhelming crowded when we arrived.  I picked up some gu at the expo, as well as some compression socks and arm warmers.  I was still thorougly confused about what to wear the next day so I pretty much bought everything I could for every possible weather condition.

We settled into our hotel late Friday afternoon and headed out to meet our friends for dinner.  I enjoyed ONE glass of wine (self control!) and had some yummy pasta.  I don’t really believe in overly carbo loading the night before, but since the weekend was also somewhat of a mini get away weekend, I decided to enjoy myself!  We got to bed that night at a decent hour and fell asleep to the sound of raining buckets outside.  I was so apprehensive about the weather the next morning, but still slept well.

Our alarm went off at 5:30 so we could get ready and make it to the start line by 7:00 (race time starting at 7:45).  I refused to look outside until we finally stepped foot outside.  And by some miracle, there was no rain!  I saw the sun coming up in the distance and the sky looked clear and gorgeous.  I couldn’t have been happier.  We took a cab to the start line and waited around about an hour before we were told to line up.  I was the perfect temperature in my throw away sweats and the hour flew by.

perfect weather!

This was the first half I have done that at the start line I was actually excited and not nervous the course.  I felt strong and I knew how beautiful Santa Barbara is and I was looking forward to seeing this course!  The half started in 3 waves.  We started out in the back based off of my time from Carlsbad.  I really had no expectations of this race so I really could care less which corral I started in.  The race started right on time at 7:45AM. The beginning of the course was great.  It took us through neighborhoods and bike trails.  The first water station wasn’t until mile 4 which is alot later than I am used to seeing them, but they increased in frequency after that.  The course got a little cramped on the bike bath towards the beginning before all the runners spaced out but it was still manageable. There weren’t a crazy amount of spectators, but there were motivataional signs placed every where along the course so that was nice to see.   The biggest motivation was seeing the marathon leaders pass us around mile 7.  Their speed amazes me! The mile markers were alot closer to the ground than I was used to in previous races, so I actually missed the first one and when I looked at my watch I thought I was going wayyy slower than I felt.  It wasn’t until I reached mile 2 at 18:20 I realized I once again was running way faster than what I had been training out.

The whole race I had an eternal battle about whether I was running too fast for my own good or if this was actually my new standard pace and I just had to accept it!  My biggest fear in races is always bottoming out and not being able to finish or feeling like complete crap at the end!  I decided just to go with my body and what felt good at the moment and if I needed to slow down, I would.  I knew there was a big coming up at mile 10 (the worst point in the race I feel for a hill!) so I was also trying to conserve some energy for that.  I completed 6 miles in just under an hour and kept going at a 9:00 -10:00 minute mile pace.  I successfully ran mile 9 a minute faster than the last two miles to allow some time to be added when I got to the hill.  It was adverstised to by .7 miles long, which is LONG after you have already ran 9+ miles of flat and downhill roads.  As soon as I started inclining, I tuned in to my favorite songs on my ipod, took a GU, and just went for it.  I honestly was expecting way worse and felt like it flattened out quicker than .7 miles into it.  Once we reached the top, our reward was a 2 mile downhill stretch to the finish along the ocean.  It was heavenly.

Downhill views

More downhill beautifulness

As the miles kept going by, it became more and more apparent that I may come close to finishing around my PR of 2:14.  As I approached mile 8-9, I started to think that I might be able to finish before 2:14.  As I got to mile 11, I suddenly realized that I could possibly finish before 2:10!  I couldn’t believe what was unfolding before me. The last two miles were a blur as I ran through my favorite parts of Santa Barbara and my PR became more and more clear.   On the last bit of downhill you could clearly see the finish line and I just took off! The hubby and I finished together at the track at Santa Barbara City College.

Finish Area

I finished 13.1 miles in 2:06 minutes.

Yay for PR's!

I just ran fast so I deserve all these snacks!

37 minutes faster than Carlsbad.  And 8 minutes faster than my PR.

Did that really just happened?

My legs were on complete fire when I finished.  But it was amazing.

PR's for both of us!

My training plan that eventually evolved over the course of training for this race – more yoga, less running – proved to be the perfect plan for my body.  I am looking forward to continuing this trend for my next half in 8 weeks in Arizona!

Let's Go Eat!

Race: Santa Barbara Half Marathon November 12th, 2011

Distance: 13.l miles

Time: 2:06

Average Pace: 9:38/mile

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