It was weird going to a race in the middle of the week. It felt like a weekend. I was planning on running the Pozo 5K in Pozo until my neighbor, Peggy, talked about this 15K. She is training for her second half-marathon in San Francisco, and is using this 15K as a tune up race. I tagged along because it is the 4th of July, and frankly since this is a new course for me, I was curious to see what it's like to run this distance.
Shortly before the race our very own SLDC newsletter editor Stan Rosenfield gave me some fascinating historical tidbit of information about this long time 4th of July race. Looking at the results from forty years ago, in 1972, there were only 2 women runners who finished this race out of 105 (Today there were 348.) Joyce Rowley (1:12:20) and Mary Carman (1:15:10), finished 86th and 96th place, respectively. Both these women are fast! They are my heroes!
The night before I went through my race routine and laid everything I would need for the race. It felt weird doing this and it's not for a marathon. It's a 15K, yet I was nervous just the same.
The race was put on by Santa Barbara Athletic Association. We left at 4:30 am. (That meant I had to get up at 3 to eat my breakfast and allow plenty of time for other stuff). The race started at 8 am and it was prompt. Peggy and I got to the location at around 6:30ish. We wanted to scope out the course and pay respect to the dreaded Cathedral Hill. After seeing the hill for ourselves, it was a great relief. It was not as bad as we thought. I vaguely remember running a portion of this hill when I ran the Inaugural Santa Barbara Marathon in 2009, but what I couldn't remember was the slope. It should have dawned on me, that if the grade didn't make that much of an impression on me back then, then I had nothing to worry about. Seeing it again, was not a bad idea. It settled down whatever doubts we had that day.
The race was well organized. It had no frills and all business. We got to the packet pickup at San Marcos High School in plenty of time. Fetching our bib numbers, t-shirt and pins took less than five minutes. We got back to the car and drove to the start which was about 1/2 mile further, just around the corner from the high school. We found out that the start had no porta potties so we made sure we got our business taken cared of at the school. This was a very important tid-bit of information and runners appreciate this.
|Peggy getting her gear on prior to her 15K PR!|
Peggy and I noticed that this race for some reason drew so many athletic, beautiful people around (Sorry, no pictures to prove my point.) I mean, usually for weekend races, you see a lot different kinds of body types, as in all runners. I thought we crashed an elite party or something--talk about Ripped abs, sun-kissed-tanned bodies, muscular legs, you name it, they got it. Among these lean women, I recognized the winner of the Bull Canyon 10K I ran in May. Later I would find out that this was a USATF Road Championship Series, so no wonder it attracted out of town competitors. The men's winner crossed at 48:57 while the women's winner at 57:11!
The course wove its way around Santa Barbara. We started 1/2 mile from the high school on San Simeon, then off to San Marcos Road, Cathedral Oaks, Cambridge looping around the neighborhoods around Kellogg School. The last 4 miles was on the bike path which reminded me so much of the Ojai Marathon. The finish was at Turnpike Road at San Marcos High School.
The weather was misty all the way from start to finish. It couldn't have been any more perfect.
One thing that wasn't perfect however was my pacing plans. I was a little unsure of how to pace myself with this new distance. It was a last minute race entry so there was not much I could do to prepare. I jumped into this race with the thought of pacing myself as in 8 milers that I've ran in the past as in the Thanksgiving Hunger Run and the Castle Coast 8.2 miler. My pace ended up being slower, which equaled to my 1/2 marathon pace. Nonetheless, I was satisfied that I kept it under 9 minute pace. The last 1.5 miles was where I slowed down dramatically. I blame it on my 3 a.m. breakfast. Although I had a bagel an hour and half before the race, my fuel was wearing off. I thought that since its only a 15K, not a marathon, I wouldn't need Gu. Luckily I packed 2 honey packets to keep from bonking, however that was still not enough, as 2 packets was the equivalent of 1/2 of a Gu. I will note this for next time: a 15K is ran a little bit faster than a half marathon, therefore, I will need more fuel. Once I was past the 9 mile mark, I felt great. I managed to pickup my feet a little bit and tried to pass one last gal.
|(Picture courtesy of Raul Merino.) |
Right at your heels girl..
|(Picture courtesy of Raul Merino.)|
I'm closing the gap...
I almost did. I ran past her and just as I thought I had it in my pocket, I notice the crowd got louder. No wonder! She was trying to gain on me, but my reaction was too late. I ran out of real estate. Just before I crossed the finish line she swooped in front of me at 1:22:57. She beat me by one second. That sprint to the finish was so much fun. I thanked her in the end, told her "Great job!" That goes to show me it ain't over until it's over! Kick all the way to the end Cota!
|Thank you for the pictures Raul!|
|Happy to see evidence that I've finally learned to run on my forefoot.|
I'm so glad that I did this race. It was something new and it was exciting. I was a little unnerved about my pacing at first, but so what? Just go with it. I will definitely do this again next year, now that I am armed with this experience. By the way, my neighbor, Peggy? She kicked ass! She came in 4th in her age-group, coming in at 1:19! Go Peggy!