Posts Tagged ‘Santa Barbara International Marathon’

It’s been a full week since the Santa Barbara International Marathon and the race has taken on a surreal quality in my mind. Did that really happen? Did I really have so much fun running 26.2 miles?! Indeed I did! I give high marks to the race and definitely recommend it.

Expo: Packet pick-up at the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara was convenient and easy with lots of parking available. There weren’t any goodie bags (aside from the virtual online goodie bag offers) but I am happy with the white v-neck technical tee. Plenty of vendors — the kind you’d expect to see with all types of running gear but also local groups like the pet shelter that tried really hard to send my kids home with a dog. 😉

Tip: If you’re driving up from Los Angeles on Friday night for packet pick-up, be sure to leave long before rush hour. We left Orange County at 4 p.m. on Thursday and didn’t arrive in Santa Barbara until 4 hours and 30 minutes later (the drive should have taken just over 2 hours). You really want to be driving through downtown LA by 3:30 or sooner or make arrangements with someone else to pick up your packet with a copy of your photo ID because you won’t make it in time.

Race day shuttles and drop-off: I opted to have my family drop me off at Dos Pueblos High School for the full marathon start and the drop-off was smooth and convenient. Plan to walk a few blocks to the high school.

I felt sorry for the people who opted to take the shuttles and even arrived plenty early to do so. They ran into a bit of a snafu with too many people waiting for too few shuttles from the UCSB parking lot. Race organizers have acknowledged the issue, apologized and vowed to plan better for next year. I think the race is still growing and on top of that, they picked up a bunch of runners who were planning to run the New York City Marathon before it was cancelled. Kudos to the organizers for offering those runners a discount registration!

Pre-race: I’ve never been to a better race starting area. Getting to wait inside the high school on a cold morning, and use the indoor restrooms, was a treat. There were plenty of porta-potties outside too.

The course: The race starts out at the high school in Goleta and makes a loop around the suburbs and through Isla Vista by some UCSB off-campus housing. Tip: Plan to bank some extra time in the first 13.1 miles to account for the hill you’ll hit at mile 23. The first half of the course has some nice downhills and flat sections and the views of the Santa Ynez mountains are gorgeous. Around mile 15 you head onto a bike path. It worried me a bit that it might be crowded on the narrow path but at that point it was not a problem. With just 1,375 marathoners the pack had spread out by then. The path is pretty and the support from spectators along the way is great. Shortly after mile 19 you are back out on the roads again. Take advantage of the downhill at mile 22 to prepare yourself for the 0.4-mile climb at mile 23. It’s not terribly steep but many runners opted to walk. The reward at the top is 2.2 miles of downhill with spectacular views of the ocean.

Mile 24 Santa Barbara

Peekaboo ocean! It’s all downhill from here to the finish!

Plus the last mile was lined with American flags, an inspirational sight for Veteran’s Day weekend. Best of all, some military members in uniform came out to cheer the runners on at the home stretch (gentlemen, were you trying to make me cry?! Thank you for your service to our country and your support!) The race finishes on the track at Santa Barbara City College. I found I liked sprinting to the finish on the track — it gave me a bit of a boost at the end.

The finish line expo: At the finish I received my medal and was offered an ice bag (nice touch!) In hindsight I should have taken advantage of the offer to tape the bags to my legs. I kept walking though and made my way to the refreshments. I had a banana, Sun Chips and a Clif bar, and water. I didn’t see the Fluid replacement table although I hear there was a booth around the corner.

Ways to improve the race: There’s always room for improvement at any race. (1) Shuttles — I have faith that will improve next year. (2) Responsiveness from the organizers. As the race got closer and closer I sensed some frustration from people trying to get into contact with the organizers either through the Facebook page or email. (3) I would have loved to see more food options at the finish line — orange slices and muffins would have added a nice touch to the bananas, chips and protein bars at the finish. Also offer the electrolytes at the same table.

Best things about the race: It’s a manageable size with only 1,375 full marathoners in 2012. The course is gorgeous and it makes for a lovely destination race. I have to give a shout-out to the official pacers. Craig Prater did an amazing job in the weeks leading up to the race by making his presence known on the Facebook page and posting answers to questions and uploading inspiring photos from various points on the race course. Jill Christ was the 4-hour pacer and while I wasn’t running with her (I ran ahead for the first 5 miles, stayed right behind her until mile 21 and lost her as she kept on pace for the 4:00 mark) I could tell she did an excellent job.

I didn’t stay at the host hotel but I negotiated a 20% discount with a high-end hotel (Spanish Garden Inn) and absolutely loved it. We spent a 4-day weekend in Santa Barbara and it made for a nice weekend for my whole family.

I recommend this race for: anyone who likes a scenic course that has some downhills, flats and one significant uphill. It’s not necessarily the course I would choose for a beginner like me but I love a small(er) race and a destination race and it was great for me. I didn’t get the sub-4 I wanted but I achieved four of five of my marathon goals and I had a blast (you can read my race recap here). If you’re going for a PR you need to make sure you plan your pace well — train for some hills and as I said, bank some time early in the race for the hill at mile 23. Monica at Run Eat Repeat chose to run Santa Barbara after the NYC marathon was canceled and she PR’d with a 3:53!

Did you run this race in 2012 or have you run it in past years? What’s your opinion? What’s your favorite marathon course?

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Right after the marathon on Saturday I made sure to keep walking for about 15 minutes to help my legs recover. Once I stopped walking I wasn’t sure I would be able to start again! Back at the hotel I took an ice bath for 10 minutes. My husband did not quite understand why I would torture myself that way and offered to whip me with a sharp stick if I thought that would help too. I declined. 😉

My family was actually very sweet and thoughtful as I recovered from the race. They met me on the track with hugs and kisses, and walked me to get some food. They carried anything I wasn’t nibbling on. My husband retrieved my gear bag for me and bought me my favorite post-race drink — hot chocolate (great on a chilly day; on a hot day I like a fruit smoothie). The kids could hardly wait to tell me about the surprises they’d gotten for me: a People magazine to read in the bath and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to munch on since I’d been eyeing the kids’ Halloween candy for two weeks but resisted indulging in my favorite chocolate-peanut butter goodness before the marathon.


No worse for the wear!

After the ice bath I took a nice hot shower, dried off and then slathered on some arnica gel for my sore muscles.

I got to choose lunch — pizza, naturally — and we walked to the restaurant from the hotel. I ought to have given in and taken some Advil for my legs but I toughed it out for a long, slow walk/hobble/marathon shuffle. We took a cab back to the hotel!

I slept OK Saturday night but the soreness surprised me every time I tried to roll over or get up to go to the bathroom. On Sunday I gave in and took two Advil. I could walk much better then, and we spent a lovely afternoon at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

So, that brings me to day 2 of post-marathon recovery. Let’s break it down from the feet on up. I don’t have any plantar fasciitis pain in my feet and I’m so thrilled that I trained through it and used the KT Tape Pro for the race. Worked like a charm. I do have two blisters on my second (index) toes. My second toes are not taller than my big toes but they must hit the toe box of my Brooks Adrenaline 12s. My calves are sore, especially the shin splints on my left inner calf. I did use KT Tape for that and it felt OK during the race (tolerable discomfort) but it worsened as expected after I stopped running. My thighs are sore, along with my hips and buttocks. My lower back is also slightly sore. I’ve got a line of chafing on my chest from my favorite Champion running bra, in spite of my liberal application of Bodyglide. The Bodyglide did spare me any chafing under my arms (which I had experienced in training). Lastly, my trapezius muscles (between the shoulders and neck) are sore, probably from my hunchback running form when I get tired!

All in all, I feel about as I expected and no worse off than before I ran the marathon. I mean, sore for sure, but not injured. Stairs are a particular (comical, really) challenge, as is sitting or getting up from sitting. I limp when I walk unless I have some pain medication on board. Today I plan to go in search of more Advil, then walk through the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. I’m still glowing from the whole marathon experience and I wear my sore muscles like a badge of honor!

Have you ever been so sore from a workout or race that you had to hobble around? What do you find is the best way to recover from sore muscles?

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I am still processing what an amazing morning I had racing the Santa Barbara International Marathon, but I’ll do my best to put it into words (and pictures!) In retrospect, there are four things that made my first marathon go well: (1) the beautiful setting for a small(er) race, (2) a carefully planned fueling strategy for before and during the race, (3) proper pacing, and (4) the supportive people of Goleta and Santa Barbara who came out to cheer along the course.

Pre-Race Nutrition

I paid attention to my carbohydrate intake about three days before the race. There’s lots of debate about whether carbo-loading is helpful, especially for women, but I wasn’t taking any chances after hitting the wall on my 20-mile training run. The day before the race I tried not to eat too much fiber, got a little extra salt, and had a carbohydrate-rich dinner with some lean protein (pasta with marinara sauce and chicken).

In spite of my race jitters I managed to get about six hours of sleep, one of the best night’s sleep I’ve ever gotten before a race. I woke up at 4:15, about half an hour before my alarm was set to go off, and just continued to rest until it was time to get up. At 4:45 I got up and flipped the switch on the hotel teapot for hot water for coffee and oatmeal. I realized I hadn’t packed a spoon (oops) and was about to eat my oatmeal with the clean end of my toothbrush as a scooper (true story) but then I remembered I was staying at a nice hotel that probably had a spoon for the mini bar (it did). I ate 3/4 of a banana and a cup of oatmeal, timed to precision about two and a half hours before the scheduled 7:30 race start (I say scheduled because there ended up being a 15-minute delay). Two hours before the race I drank 3 cups of water. Half an hour before the race I drank two more cups of water and took a Green Apple PowerGel for the extra calories and tiny bit of caffeine. I planned to take in a little less than four 23.6-ounce bottles of Fluid electrolyte drink on the course, based on the calorie calculations I made with the instructions from 4 Steps to Perfect Marathon Fueling.

Race Start

My husband and kids woke up at 5:45 to take me to the race start. We left the hotel in Santa Barbara at 6:15 and arrived at the race drop-off location at 6:30, plenty of time to walk a few blocks to Dos Pueblos High School for the start of the race. On the drive over, a beautiful white egret flew over the road. Long-time readers might remember that on my training runs I often saw egrets along the Santa Ana River Trail, and right before my first half marathon an egret flew off the roof of my house. I love good omens!

There were tons of porta potties in the race start parking lot but even better there were two bathrooms in the nice warm high school. Over the course of an hour I went to the bathroom three times, not so much because I had to but to entertain myself and give myself the best possible race I could have. On the way to my last pit stop in the girls’ locker room I spotted a penny on the ground and picked it up for good luck. When another women commented on my luck, I pointed out one for her to pick up too! 🙂

At about 7 a.m. the race organizers announced a 15-minute delay (I never heard why there was a delay but people posted on Facebook that the shuttles from the remote parking area were backed up with long lines of people). I texted my husband about the delay, and loaned my phone to two other women so they could make calls to their husbands.

Dos Pueblos High School gym

We all sat around in the warm high school gym until the announcer said it was time to head to the start. I dropped my bag off at gear-drop and took my place just before the 4:00 pacer. I gave silent thanks for the gorgeous race weather. High 40s to low 50s, sunny and clear. The forecast had threatened a 20-30% chance of rain and while I don’t mind running in the rain, I do mind RACING in the rain. There were high winds at times on the course but generally it was a tailwind and I never felt I was fighting the wind.

Marathon Miles 1-10

The starting horn sounded and everyone took off in an orderly manner. Love, love, love a smaller race (1,375 full marathoners). Goleta is beautiful with an interesting mix of mountain and ocean feel.

Marathon course

Gorgeous lemon orchards with a backdrop of the Santa Ynez Mountains

I restrained myself from going out at too fast a pace. I kept it at 9:06, my marathon goal pace, only going faster on the downhills. I think that was the main thing that allowed me to enjoy this race from start to finish. When I did the half marathon, I’d burned out by mile 5 and questioned why I ever signed up for a half. That never happened to me over the course of 26.2 miles.

The main feeling I had over the first five miles or so was: “I am so lucky to be here.” Cheesy as it sounds, I was grateful to be well enough to run the race, and to get to run in a spectacular new location. After training for six months, I was tired of running in the same old places, and here I was getting to run down the middle of the road along the coast on a gorgeous fall day.

Santa Barbara Marathon Mile 7

A peek at the Pacific Ocean at Mile 7

Mike and the girls met me around mile 6 to hand off a replacement bottle of Fluid. The course then wound through Isla Vista, back to the high school, to the mile 10 mark. Another runner asked what time I had on my Garmin and when I replied 1:31 he checked his pace chart and said we were one minute ahead of a 4-hour pace. That was perfect as many of the official pacers for the race recommended banking some time in the first 13.1 to make up for the .4-mile hill at mile 23.

Marathon Miles 10-18

Mike met me again at mile 12 with another 24-ounce bottle. My oldest daughter ran along the sidewalk next to me for a while and told me she loved me. Such a nice way to boost me along on the race! At the 13.1 halfway point my gun time was 1:59.32. I felt strong.

This is a good time to talk about the course support from all the locals. I wish I could personally thank each person along the way who cheered for me and the other racers (while I didn’t have the voice to do that as I was running, I did give everyone a thumbs-up). The best was when people read my name from my race bib and cheered for me specifically. Each time I’d feel a little rush of energy, a renewed surge to keep me going. My favorite race sign showed a picture of eagle wings and said “Touch for Power.” You better believe I touched it, and totally felt the power! I also high-fived a clown (pretty sure I didn’t hallucinate that) and passed a giant yellow chicken. I also loved all the unofficial bands that set up camp along the course. Violins, banjos, drums. Loved and appreciated them all.

Marathon Miles 18-26.2

My 10-year-old passed me the last Fluid replacement bottle at mile 18. By mile 21 I could no longer keep up with the 4:00 pacer but still felt good and set my mind to push to keep the pace under 9:30 except on the big hill at mile 23. At mile 22 my legs felt tired and to entertain myself, I started counting the number of people I passed (while ignoring the people who passed me ’cause who needs to focus on that!) By the end of the race I’d passed 101 runners! There was a nice long downhill at mile 22 and the hill at 23 was tough but totally doable. I took a Green Apple PowerGel (the only gel I took on the course), not so much for the calories but for the caffeine boost. That turned out to be a smart decision. It helped. I didn’t walk on the hill and just kept on chugging and before I knew it I was at the top and ready for 2.2 miles of gorgeous downhill that included an amazing oceanside mile.

Santa Barbara Marathon beach view

How’s that for an inspiring view for the last mile and a half?!

I thought that after the ocean views it might be a little anti-climactic to run to the finish on the track at Santa Barbara City College, but I actually loved hitting the track and sprinting to the finish. It helped that I finally passed that lady in the purple right at the finish! 😉 That never happens to me. I usually have no gas left in the tank at the end of a race. This time I felt fantastic and was just so thrilled to come in at 4:02:39.5. The McMillan Running Calculator had predicted that based on my half marathon time of 1:55:10, I could train to finish the marathon at 4:02:22. I was just 17.5 seconds off from that! Now that’s a darn good pace predictor, and a good indicator that I trained adequately for the race.

Overall I was 511th of 1,375 marathoners (top 37%) and 31st out of 99 (top 31%) in my 40-44 age group (I’m 41). I surprised myself with how thoroughly I enjoyed my first marathon. I expected it to be like the half marathon, where I questioned why I ever wanted to put myself through that. Instead, I enjoyed the view, took energy from the fantastic people along the course, pushed through the last hard 4.2 miles, and finished with a huge smile on my face.

marathon finish

Feeling strong and happy at the finish!

Have you run a marathon before? What was your experience like? Are you training for a marathon now?

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I had a fantastic time at the Santa Barbara International Marathon this morning. Perfect racing weather, a gorgeous setting, and lots of support from the locals along the route.

Marathon finisher

26.2 miles later, I am one happy runner!

Everything came together for me and I finished at 4:02:39.5 for my first marathon! Best of all, I finished with a smile on my face. No matter that now I’m doing the “marathon shuffle” and could use a walker to help me get around on my sore legs. I am too happy to care about that!

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First and foremost, my heart goes out to all those affected by Hurricane Sandy. It’s hard for me to imagine the physical, emotional and financial toll the storm has taken.

NYC Marathon Cancellation and Donation Drive

I was pleased to see that the NYC Marathon resources and materials are being diverted to the recovery effort wherever possible, and that the New York Road Runners are leading a “Race to Recover” donation drive.

Race to Recover

The Race to Recover charity drive explains:

NYRR, in partnership with the Rudin Family and the ING Foundation, has established the “Race to Recover” Marathon Fund to aid New Yorkers impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Over $2.6 million has been raised, including a $1 million donation by NYRR. We are asking you to join us by making a $26.20 donation, or whatever you can afford, to help bring recovery and hope to those communities and families most affected. Proceeds will go to Hurricane Sandy Relief, administered by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. You can also donate to the relief effort through NYRR’s fundraising platform, CrowdRise, which includes the American Red Cross and other charities. From your mobile phone, text “redcross” to 90999 to donate $10 through your wireless carrier.

I’ll be donating to the Red Cross through my husband’s employer’s matching program.

That said, my heart also goes out to the 47,000+ runners who were slated to run the marathon tomorrow, November 4. The ING NYC Marathon is such an iconic race and a difficult one to gain entry to. Furthermore, with my first marathon coming up on November 10, I know how hard those runners have trained to run the race and how disappointing it must be to miss it. Let’s keep in mind, it is possible for the runners to feel complete empathy and compassion for the people living and working in the hurricane-affected areas and yet at the same time feel the different yet still significant feelings of their own loss in light of the marathon cancellation.

Some Good News

Runners who are looking for an alternative to the canceled marathon have some options for racing a substitute marathon. The Santa Barbara International Marathon, scheduled for Saturday November 10, 2012, is offering a discount registration for registered NY Marathon participants. Email the race director for more details.

The Tucson Marathon is offering an $85 entry fee to its December 9th event. Enter the discount code NYC2012 when checking out and the organizers will donate $10 per entry to relief efforts in the New York/NJ area. Proof of NYC Marathon registration will be required at packet pickup.

ETA: SkinnyRunner and her readers shared some more discount registration opportunities: (1) The BCS Marathon on December 9 in Bryan/College Station, Texas is offering marathon and half marathon registration for just $25. (2) The Dallas Running Club provides a reduced registration fee of $60 for its half on November 4. (3) An article regarding the November 11th Malibu International Marathon says “MIM will offer early bird prices using the Malibu4NYC code and 25 percent of the proceeds from each race entry will go back to the AmeriCares Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund.” (4) The Rock ‘n’ Roll series states, “Thus we would like to extend a 20% discount to any 2012 ING NYC Marathon entrant who would like to run either our Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon & ½ Marathon on Sunday, November 11 or our Zappos.com Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon & ½ Marathon on Sunday, December 2, and we will also make an additional matching 20% donation to Hurricane Sandy Relief from each entry.” (5) The Soldier Marathon on November 10 in Columbus, Georgia is offering FREE transferability of NYC Marathon registration.

Here’s a partial list of other fall marathons to investigate (whether or not they offer a registration discount).

How to Adjust Training for a Marathon Race Plan B

That’s all well and good you say, but you’ve already tapered for the NYC Marathon. How are you supposed to train for another race that is one, two, three or four weeks out from now? Coach Jenny Hadfield at Runner’s World magazine laid out four alternative marathon race plans just for you.

What do you think of the decision to cancel the NYC Marathon? Do you know of any other race registration discounts?

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