Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Santa to the Sea Half Marathon (third time's a charm)

I always look forward to Santa to the Sea half marathon. It has become a Christmas tradition for me and it doesn’t feel like the Christmas season till I’ve run it (it takes place at the beginning of December). Daddio and I ran it together in 2011 as my first half marathon and it’s always felt like a special race. It was also my half marathon PR race until mid 2013.

Beautiful morning, but cold!
 My boyfriend won a free entry for the race and decided, due to a foot injury, to run the 5k. Daddio also wanted to run it, but due to continual injuries, he also opted for the 5k option. I unfortunately didn’t get to the see the 5k race since the half marathon was taking place at the same time, but I got to hear all about it afterwards. Daddio placed first in his age group! Way to go Dad! He won a nice Santa to the Sea sweatshirt. My boyfriend set a new 5k PR! Not bad for two injured dudes!

Dad and Aldous getting ready for some 5k action
My race started out cold! Since Daddio needed to get to the start of his race, I got dropped off at the start of mine an hour early. I didn’t want to deal with a drop bag, so I left my sweats and jacket in the car (stupid idea). It took just a few minutes of standing in shorts and a long sleeve tech shirt for the cold to really set in. Apparently it was 36°, a little cold for a southern Cali girl!
I’d been saying all year that I was aiming to PR at this race, but I’d just set two new PR’s in my last two half marathons and I didn’t think I had another one in me. My boyfriend told me that I was race faced the week before and I probably was! I didn’t know how I managed to set my last PR and wasn’t sure I’d be able to break it anytime soon.
I did a little warm up and then lined up at the start. I stood in the sub two hour section feeling optimistic. The race started and as usual I dodged walkers who had lined up in the front. Things were crowded and the road was torn up due to work, so everyone was being careful of their steps. Thankfully at this race, people get spread out pretty early on.
I felt rough right from the start. You know, some days running feels amazing and other days it is work. This race was work every step of the way. I had planned on doing intervals of 14 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking starting at mile 5, but I started it up at mile 3 instead. Like last time, I didn’t carry water, so I had some quick stops at aid stations.
I enjoyed the spectators, the decorations, high fives and the abundant amount of holiday costumes. I believe there were even more runners in costume this year than in the past! I played Christmas music on my headphones and stayed pretty focused. I was working hard, but not hurting.
Since I’ve run this race two other times, I know the course pretty well. I know a lot of the twists and turns and when an aid station is coming up. Strategically, this makes for a great PR race, since I can plan where to stop and predict if I can skip an aid station. The route is basically flat except for a couple overpasses, so I can plan my walk breaks to take place on the hills or at the aid stations.
Around mile 6, I chatted with a guy that caught me walking up an overpass. He joked about how we had been playing tag for the majority of the race and seemed curious why I was intervaling. Some people are completely against intervaling races, I personally have no problem with it. Eventually I would like to move away from it, but right now I am having more success setting long distance PR’s intervaling then I am when I run flat out. It is hard to be seen walking, but I do what I have to in order to get the best results. When I started pulling away, the guy called after me “See you next mile”, but he never caught up to me again!
A mile and a half from the finish, my boyfriend joined me. I was excited to see a familiar face and he got to experience a different side of me. I can sometimes get a little intense at the end of the race and I admit that I got a little cranky with him when he asked innocent questions. My brain function was pretty low at that point and my tank was almost on empty, but I was on course for another decent sized PR. I think I mostly kept mumbling about needing to keep the pace.
Aldous to the rescue!
Finish line smile or grimace...
The hardest thing about Santa to the Sea Half Marathon is that you can hear the finish line from over a mile away. It makes you want to push through, but it also seems like you will never get there! Eventually I did get there, setting a new half marathon PR of 1:54:17! Daddio and Mom were at the finish, ready to congratulate me and my boyfriend pulled out air freshener bling for the three of us that had run. It was a really fun morning!
Two pieces of bling!
I always recommend this race and will continue to do so! Santa to the Sea is a wonderful Christmas themed race and it is always a lot of fun! I’m already signed up for 2014! Since this post is coming up late, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and a safe New Year!

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year's Resolution 5k

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year and are off and ‘running’ with their New Year resolutions! I started the new year exactly how I wanted too…. setting a new 5k PR! I ran the Santa Barbara New Year’s Resolution 5k bright and early on the 1st. I ran this race two years ago, with Daddio and really loved it even though I had a rough run. This year went much better and did not disappoint!

I set out with the crowd at an intimidating pace (intimidating for me!). I held an 8:04 average pace for the first mile. It was hurting, but nothing like the Thanksgiving 4 Miler. I backed off around mile 2, only hitting an average pace of 8:15. At that point, I had half convinced myself that I was out there ‘just for fun’ and that any good pace would beat my previously held PR. The size of the crowd also had me convinced that I wouldn’t be able to place in my age group.

Can't beat Santa Barbara running!
During mile three, I saw my boyfriend who was all decked out in his biking gear and had his camera up and ready for some pictures of me. He followed me to the finish, stopping to take several pictures of me (I’m a spoiled girl). I picked up the pace and averaged 8:01 for the mile. With about a quarter of a mile to go, I saw one of my boyfriend’s running friends ahead of me, and I picked up speed. She was looking strong and the distance between us was daunting, but I knew she was close to my age and probably in my age group, so I grabbed on to the budding motivation.

I caught her right at the finishing stretch. I hesitated just a second, feeling a little guilty about blowing by her, but my competitive nature won out and I finished strong. I finished with the time of 25:02, beating my previous PR by 1 minute, 22 seconds and surprisingly placing 4th in my age group. And it’s a good thing I did push past! She ended up signing up for the 2014 Grand Prix season and she is in my age group for the season! Bring on the competition! It will be fun to run against someone I know this year.

I survived!
Daddio and I sharing some smiles after the race.