Monday, November 10, 2014

Santa Barbara Veterans Half Marathon

So you know how there's Chinatown. Little Haiti. Korea town. Little Italy.
We've heard of these nooks wedged in big cities, right?
Well, I think of Santa Barbara as Little Kauai.
There's a flavor of the islands there that reminds me of my favorite vacation spot. 
And since I've yet to race in Kauai, Little Kauai is a great runner up.

First off, last week's running sched went a little something like this:
Monday: 5.5 miles 
Tuesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 2.3 miles
Saturday: GAME DAY!

Last Sunday night, I started coming down with something. I wasn't sure if it was a cough or a cold or if I was paranoid and hallucinating. Unfortunately, the latter wasn't the case. I guess it was just a cold/congestion of some strain because I never felt absolutely horribly, I've just yet to feel 100%. I was very short on energy and pretty congested the whole week.

Monday's run was fine. Tuesday I couldn't breathe very well but my run went ok. I thought that was weird (that I couldn't breathe well but still ran ok) but for surely wasn't complaining about it. Thursday I would have liked to run longer but I waited til 4:00 to run and that always causes issues. First thing in the morning running is my jam-- no excuses, interruptions, or emergencies happen at 5:30 am.
So, anyway, leading up to the race I was in a pretty good place mentally. I had just read this article where everything went wrong to make everything go right. My take away from the article was I wasn't about to throw in the towel and chalk this race up as a bad one because of a cold. I didn't make any predictions to what effect my congestion would have on game day. I was bound and determined to let life run it's course and not close any avenues before I needed to.


Kady picked me up at 5:30 for the 45 minute drive to SB.
I ate a mini bagel and banana at some point before the race.
At 7:15 the gun went off. Thankfully, they did the start in waves. My bib number was 4593 and I saw some in the 5000's. It was very nice not starting all at once. Kady and I started about 8 minutes after the gun. Mile 1 was effortless and fast, 7:52. I don't know any splits after that. I do know that Mile 3 disappeared. I literally thought there was no way another mile had passed, but sure enough we were onto the next. I evened out pace wise after mile 3 or so and was a little surprised that I was only keeping an 8:25-8:30 pace. I'm still not sure how to approach game day strategy but my approach was more of an effort level. I wanted to be comfortably uncomfortable and be mindful of the fact that I still had x more miles to go. I turned music on at mile 5 but I think I only listened for 2 miles. I {think. I can barely remember all the details now} felt pretty good going into mile 10. That's where the big hill was. Thankfully, it was shorter than I anticipated- only .5 or .6 compared to the .85  was expecting. But it kicked my butt. That's when my cold/congestion/breathing issue was very apparent. I couldn't get the deep breaths that I needed and it was just hard. I did 2 minute run/30 second walk cycles until I reached the top. At the mile 11 aid station I took a minute and gathered myself. I did a teeny stretch and wanted to regroup so that I could start from 0 and find a decent pace. At some point pretty soon after that, I looked down at my Garmin and it read 1:34. That freaked me out because I knew I only had 16 minutes left to meet my goal and in that moment it felt absolutely impossible and pressure is always a detonator rather than a motivator for me. I told myself not to worry about the time and to just run hard for a minute. That was when I went back to my training tactics and told myself to stay focused in the moment instead of getting ahead of myself and feeling overwhelmed because of it. Because of that mini panic, I didn't look at my Garmin much more and have no idea what my pace was those last miles. Although I am very curious to know what they were. I will say I was LOUD the last miles. My breathing never recovered from the hill and I was breathing outwardly and loudly. Aaaaaaaaannnnnndddd my pep talks may have been out loud as well. Lo siento.

At mile 13 I saw Anneli and Chelsi and may have gotten just a bit emotional. It's weird, but through out this training cycle there have been a couple of times where the tears come. Little moments ignite a sense of accomplishment and remind me how far I've come as a runner and I guess tears are the natural reaction.

And then I crossed the finish line!
Official time 1:49:11.
About 1:30 ahead of my goal!
I got it done and it felt pretty amazing!

I used Gu chomp for fuel and started fueling at mile 4. Then I think 6, 9, and 11.
I walked through almost every water station. It was hot- sunny and mid 70's- and I wanted to make sure I stayed hydrated.

For someone who has always considered herself a 10 minute/mile runner, it's un poco surreal to see my pace creeping down in the 8's. I love it! It makes me question what I'm capable of. I appreciate where I am and am excited to keep moving forward.

I love the half marathon distance. It is a perfect balance of training hard without completely monopolizing my life. I'm ready to sign up for a couple more.

Oh and another PS…
I'm not feeling at all burned out on running. Usually after a half, I'm over the running sitch. Granted I'm saying that without having run a single time since the race so……
vamos a ver.

And last PS…
I have great friends.
Running is fun.
Life is fun.
But I really don't like doing either of those alone.
It was great to have Kady to drive up to the race with and so awesome to have Chels and Anneli waiting at the finish line and then go enjoy an amazing brunch together.
These girls are the best and I just feel lucky to have my people.
And now the pics.
Consider yourself warned…some are straight up ugly of me.
Apparently I cry ugly, exhaust ugly, and candid ugly.
Except for one.
Which I'll make sure I blow up extra big.
Insert wink emoji.
went with the BELIEVE sports bra and tank top

mile 13. Chelsi behind the camera on these shots.
And yes, I stuff my bra.

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