For the craziness leading up to this point see Part 1 here.
The race website had suggested getting there early to get on a shuttle. Having learned the hard way about pushing the envelope with time, I didn’t want to take any chances. To fix the bib issue, I figured we would need to get down there around 4 a.m. I set my watch for 3:15 and my phone alarm for 3:20, to get enough time to get ready and leave around 3:45. Kelly had set her phone alarm for 3:40, but I wanted to get up earlier. I am pretty sure I didn’t fall asleep until close to 2 a.m. I fell asleep pretty hard though because for the first time ever, I slept through my alarms!!* We didn’t wake until Kelly’s phone went off at 3:40. Not a good start to the morning!!
We rushed like crazy women to get dressed and get all our stuff together. I usually like to sit and drink my Zip Fizz, eat my Luna Bar and get ready for a race. Not that morning. We rushed down to the car, met Kelly’s friend, Suzy, who was running her first marathon also. We had an easy drive down to the finish area where we needed to catch a shuttle to the start.
We were looking for race staff. We needed to talk to a man (or woman) about a bib. We asked a volunteer directing traffic where we should go and he told us to take the bus up to the start and someone could help us up there. Contact with volunteer #1 gets a thumbs up.
The shuttle dropped us off and we had to walk a half mile or so. That was a bit strange, since we were walking on a wide street to a high school. Apparently, they had issues the year before and didn’t want the buses going all the way up to the school. We made our way to the racer staging area, which was the gymnasium of the high school, There, right by the entrance [I think I heard angels singing] was a table with two volunteers and boxes of race envelopes. Even though they did not have race day pick up, there they were with bibs and chips. Kelly and I immediately went into our sad story of a lost bib/chip. The volunteer smiled and acted as if it were no big deal. No big deal to her, maybe, but it had been a big deal to us. She was going to issue me a new chip and looked for me on the master list. As we were having trouble finding my name, the other volunteer produced an envelope. It had several hand-written notes on it, including “left at expo at 4 p.m.” and my contact information.** Kelly and I were visibly relieved. I think she was more relieved than I was because I had already been fine with running without a bib. The day was definitely looking up.
We then had close to two hours to kill. I just have to say that when you have to wait for a race start, a school gymnasium is the way to go! It was warm, lit, and had flushing toilets and running water. Since I hadn’t really used the restroom yet, we decided to get in line. This is where we would spend our time until the race started. I learned many races ago, that once you are done using the restroom, go and get back in line again. The first time I suggested this, Kelly thought I was crazy. “But I don’t have to go again.” “You will.” And she did. The line was relatively slow, since there were only four stalls. By the time we waited through it, we had to go again. We were standing around anyway, so we might as well be in line. They announced that they would be starting the race late. There were several groans. I merely saw it as another opportunity to use the potty. LOL. The second announcement, however, that told us that it was delayed even more, didn’t sit quite as well with me. We parked our car just after 4:15. Now the race wasn’t going to start until 7. That is a long time to wait for a race. At least we weren’t outside.
Racers waiting patiently in the gym for the race to start.
Kelly and I are all smiles after getting my bib. No sleep? No problem!
Us with Kelly’s old friend (and my new one) Suzy. She was running her first marathon too!Finally, they called us all out to the starting line. On our way to the starting line were a dozen garbage boxes with bib numbers on them. You just dropped your bag (marked with your bib number) into the appropriate box and it was waiting near the finish line. So simple! I am sure that a few empty Gu packets and water bottles ended up in the boxes as well, but they worked great!
I was planning on staying with Kelly the entire time. However, I had never run a marathon without music. I didn’t know if I might need some tunes in the later miles to keep me going. I went to get my iPod set up to a playlist and….nothing. It wouldn’t turn on.*** At this point, I had to laugh. Of course my iPod didn’t work. Would my Garmin stay charged? I was ready for whatever the universe would throw at me at this point. We were getting ready to start and I was in a great mood. Bring it on.
They finally started the race at 7 a.m. Kelly had to retie her shoe a couple of times, so we crossed the mat (gotta love chip timing!) around 7:02. And we were off!!
I had made a couple of signs for us to wear. I had Kelly wear a sign pinned to her back that said, “I am running my first marathon!” And I wore one that said, “My friend is running her first marathon.” This turned out to be such a great thing. So many people came up and asked how it was going.
I also had a little homage to my alma mater, which was a nice conversation starter. Between these things and our good moods, it was the most social race I have ever run!
The first miles went by so fast! We chatted and laughed. We thanked spectators and volunteers. Kelly cheered every time a spectator cheered for us. She said that she would rather feel worn out from cheering than running. LOL. We met a ton of runners. We ran with Adam, a local guy in his twenties who didn’t train much and even asked us what kind of fuel the race handed out. He was completely unprepared. He ran with us for several miles before he started falling further and further behind. We met Greg, a 3:28 marathoner who was running with his friend in her first marathon. They were all from Irvine, so we had an Orange County connection. We went back and forth with them throughout the race, until we passed them for good around mile 20. We ran for a while with Nikki, a mother of five, running her first marathon with her brother. Her brother ran with her until the half way point and then took off.**** We went back and forth with Nikki throughout the race as well. We chatted with “Stanford” and his girlfriend, who was a local. I never got their names, but we talked about college football, the Pac-10 as well as the race itself.
Before I left for Santa Barbara, Kelly’s husband told me that he was going to drive up with their daughters to surprise Kelly at the race. I told him that I would text him so he would know when to expect us. About mile 8, I let Kelly go ahead of me a bit while I texted Richard our location and pace. He replied that they were at mile 14. I was so excited. I used that opportunity to sprint to catch up with Kelly and Suzy. It felt good to move my legs a bit. At one point, fast guy Greg joined me and we called it intervals. We were really having fun.
When we saw Kelly’s family, it gave us all a huge boost. They were at mile 14 and again at mile 19. Not only was Kelly surprised and excited to see them, but everyone around us enjoyed it. The girls ran with us for a few hundred feet and it was awesome! Kelly was in tears and it really gave her a boost.
I loved the sign Kelly’s kids made! It says, “Kelly wins the race!” I am sure you parents out there have heard from your kids, “Mom, did you win the race?” My daughter is convinced that I win almost every race I run because I come home with a medal. Out of dozens of medals that I have, only two of them were from actual age group awards.
This race was pretty hilly. Most of the hills were nice rollers. I am convinced that I prefer rolling hills over pancake flat. The uphills, save one, weren’t very difficult and the downhills were fun. Around mile 15, we went onto a bike path where someone wrote in chalk, “weeeeeeeeeee.” We ran down the slope and said, “weeeeeeee.” We were having a great time! Kelly is really good running downhill. Once upon a time, I told her about letting gravity help her find “free speed” on the hills. She loves to fly down the hills. I had a hard time keeping up with her. Perhaps the student had become the master? She often is heard saying, “the heavier they are, the faster they fall.” LOL. Often, I would let her sprint ahead on the hill and catch her on the flat or uphill.
Around mile 18-19, Suzy started slowing down a bit. We had run with her the majority of the race with her and weren’t going to leave her. At mile 19, she had to stop at a porta potty. She told us to go ahead and we would see her at the finish. We were torn. Kelly was still feeling good, but didn’t want to leave our friend at the toughest part of the race. Kelly’s sister-in-law (pictured above holding Kelly’s sign) had decided to run the last seven miles with us. At this point she told us to go on and she would run with Suzy. It was perfect. She really helped make the difference for all of this. She motivated Suzy to keep going and allowed Kelly to finish the race strong.
The weather for the entire race was absolutely perfect. During the first half, it was in the 50’s and overcast. I was in a tank top and never felt cold and never felt hot. I had to remind myself to drink because I didn’t seem to be sweating much. Around mile 18, it started to rain lightly. It never rained more than a drizzle; more of a fine mist. It was the kind of rain that you don’t need to put your windshield wipers on. The sun came out at the end. We felt a bit hot right during that last mile, but I don’t think any weather would have felt good at that point. It was sure nice to have the sun out after finishing.
I kept checking in with Kelly, to see how she was feeling. She was hurting (as was I) but still feeling good. We ran most of the first miles right around 10:15. The latter miles, save one, were under 10:00! The latter splits were: 9:26(mile 22), 9:33 (mile 23), 11:36 (the big hill at mile 24), 8:57!! (mile 25), 9:26 (mile 26) I am not sure exactly what our pace was for the last .2 because I forgot to turn my Garmin off right away and I had run a bit extra during the race during my pacing duties.**** Keeping it nice and easy in the beginning allowed Kelly to pick it up at the end. We passed so many runners that we had seen earlier in the race and it felt great. I was so impressed with Kelly. In fact, in those last few miles, I had to switch it into another gear to keep up with her.
The final 300 yards of the race were on a nice all-weather track at the Santa Barbara City College. I wish EVERY race ended on a track like this. It felt SO great on my tired feet. It felt like running on a cloud. It is exciting to be able to see the finish line and sprint toward it. The only bad part of the finish was getting to the track. We had to wind around a maze in the parking lot. It was a bit annoying.
I gave Kelly the choice of running across the finish on her own or holding hands. She wanted to finish together as we had run the entire race. I can’t wait to see the official race photos!
After the race, we went along the track to cheer for Suzy, as well as some of our buddies we met along the way. Then we went into the infield and Jen led us in some stretching. It was the first time I had done a full stretching regime after a race and I think it made a huge difference.
We went back to the hotel, took a quick shower and then went to lunch. I have never been super hungry after a marathon. This time was different. I was FAMISHED. I had a hard time ordering, because I wanted one of everything. In the end, I chose Eggs Benedict, which completely hit the spot. That might be my post-race meal from now on!
Kelly and I after we were showered and fed. Happy Marathoners!!!Three weeks prior, I had done everything right (training, food, rest etc.) and came away with a disappointing and painful race. Saturday I feel like I did everything I’m not supposed to do: I didn’t get sleep, I barely ate the night before (just some snacking in the car), I had been basically tapering since Long Beach, I was stressed out right before the race,. I came away from Santa Barbara with one of the most enjoyable races I have ever run. I had a great time and recovered better than any previous marathon. I know, more than ever, that marathons are an unpredictable animal. I have learned so much from every single one.
I am very grateful to Kelly for giving me the opportunity to run this race with her. It was just what I needed to make me realize why I have really come to love running so much. It is the people that running has brought into my life that really make it worthwhile.
Thanks for reading my long tale. Happy running…
*I discovered later this week that in my haste and tiredness, I actually set my phone alarm for 5:20 instead of 3:15. I had my watch set correctly, but I sometimes turn that off without even thinking when it starts beeping.
**note to self: change contact information on Active.com. They had my old e-mail address and phone number from San Diego. As a quick side note…while they did write down this information no one called my cell phone (which was correct). Also, during our panic the night before, I e-mailed the race people with my problem. They never did respond to that e-mail, even after the fact. I didn’t really expect a response, but I was hoping.
***Operator error again! I later discovered that my iPod was on “lock.” I think it was a blessing in disguise. I really enjoyed running without the music and really focused on the social aspect of this race.
****We passed Nikki’s brother around mile 22 or 23!
*****My Garmin shows that I ran 26.48 miles.