Thursday, November 12, 2015

Santa Barbara Veteran's Day Half Marathon

Last Saturday was the Santa Barbara Veterans Day half marathon. Somehow I had in my mind that Veterans Day was late November, although I'm at a loss as to where that notion came from, what with Thanksgiving falling at the end of the month and all. Suffice it to say that the race snuck up on me and I wasn't ready, which is a growing trend that I need to buck. 

Packet pick-up never felt so patriotic!

This was the first time I spent less than $5 at a fitness expo. I picked up two Gu for race day (Espresso Love and a new flavor that involved salted caramel) for $3...only to set them down and forget them at the t-shirt table. Whoops-a-daisy! 

Not only was I untrained for this race, but it was mentally one of the toughest events I've showed up for. From the moment I woke up at 4:40 AM to the moment I stepped onto the course, there was negative dialogue going off in my head:

'I should just go back to bed.' 

'I'm too old.' 

'I hope I don't bump into anyone I know; they'll be shocked at how much weight I've gained.' 

'I should quit running.' 

Yikes! That's just a small taste of the negative self-talk that dogged my entire morning. We frequently talk about taking contrary action in the recovery community. If it were up to my head, I would have stayed home...but I knew I would feel even worse scratching the race for no good reason. Honestly, it was almost a relief to start running. 

The one thing that pulled me out of the hate-spiral was my bracelet. My mom gave me a slender silver bracelet about 7 years ago that I never take off. It has a small stamped sentiment on it, 'I always believe in you.'  It occurred to me that this doesn't mean, 'I always believe in you...except when you're overweight,' or 'I always believe in you...except if you run slower than a 9-minute mile.' Always means ALWAYS. It was the tiny blessing that I needed to get out the door and on with my race.

My game plan for the race was to follow the Galloway half marathon training method: 3 minute intervals of running followed by one minute of walking. This proved to be a good strategy for the first 5 miles...until the wheels fell off, so to speak. I was banking on muscle memory to get me through the first 10k, which was unrealistic. 
'My muscles have lost so much muscle memory, there's nothing left to remember.' Ba-dum bum!
A polite and chatty crowd right before our start. There was a man 
that wore a giant foam cowboy hat and looked exactly like Stinky Pete 
from Toy Story. It still kills me that I didn't get a photo of him. 
A quick snapchat to my daughter before
I started running. Emoji are life.
Part of my race ritual is determining what I'm going to wear and what I'm going to bring during my run. The night before the race, I convinced myself it would be a good idea to wear underwear with my running skort. Prior to my weight gain, I was all about #teamcommando. However, since I'm the heaviest I've ever weighed, it's not a so much a matter of whether or not I'll chafe as it is where: neck, underarms, around the elastic band of my sports bra, etc. 

I'm sure you see where this is going. 

Despite being generous around potential trouble spots with Glide, wearing underwear was a bad call. I'll just leave it at that. Suffice it to say that once things started going south, so to speak, I switched my run/walk ratio from 3:1 to 1:3. It was bad. 

Thank you for saying so! About a dozen of these hand-drawn posters 
appeared after the wretched switchback onto Las Positas Road.
The timing couldn't have been more perfect.
Despite being served a slice of humble pie -- in 2011, I PR'd my half marathon time by running this same event 85 minutes faster than last Saturday's effort -- it was a gorgeous day and a great course. The displays of patriotism reminded me of how fortunate I am to live where I do, and how grateful I am to my dad and all the veterans for their service to our country.
This gentleman saw us off safely and agreed to a selfie.
Thank you for your service, sir!
The man in front of me wore last year's 
race shirt. What an incredible sentiment! 
I dedicated the final mile of my race to three veterans: my father Joe,
my incredible SIL Michele, and my friend Bob Trimble. 
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!
The last half mile was stunning and all downhill.
My race review: The organizers changed things up significantly this year by moving the start location onto the university campus. Although I was disappointed not to pick up the Obern trail right at the bird refuge, it was a spectacular course. It was also a nice change of pace, if you'll forgive the pun. Most local races begin and end in the same location, essentially making for an identical course over and over. This new change was well received. Variety is the spice of life, right? 

A month before the event, the organizers did away with the full marathon completely. I'm sure many people who were registered to run 26.2 miles were disappointed by this decision. The race officials offered full marathon participants three options which I thought were fair: a full refund, entry to the half marathon and a refund of the cost difference, or reduced fee for the half marathon in 2016. This race has been called three different names in the 5 times I've run it, and I'm certain putting on a road race is an expensive endeavor. I am sure eliminating the full marathon was a decision the officials did not take lightly. I was pleased with the new route, the volunteers were fantastic and the water/aid stations were plentiful. There was a good afterparty that included food trucks and a beer garden, and the morning concluded with an incredible airshow. I'm grateful to have such a prestigious race in my own backyard.  

No comments:

Post a Comment