A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 10; 23rd Edition
302.1 miles run; 16 miles biked; 800 meters swam in 2015 races
Race: Santa Barbara Veteran's Day Half Marathon
Place: Santa Barbara, CA
Miles from home: 943
Weather: 50s; Dry; Sunny
though I surged hard in the second half of the Milwaukee Running
Festival 13.1 last weekend, I was still not pleased with how I did
overall. I felt good for the race and even with a tough course, felt I
could have easily run a 1:25. As such, I was hoping for a little
redemption at the Santa Barbara Half Marathon.
third year I have run carrying the US Flag. I have only run with the flag on one other occasion and that was on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
It is a wonderful feeling to have people cheer when you run by with the
flag. However, I have limited running with it to those rare occasions
because doing so feels, well, a bit unsavory. I am not a veteran
(although my brother and grandfathers are and were) and running with the
flag seems not exactly patriotic but a rather little pandering. This
isn't saying others can't do it for their own reasons. Just for me,
there has to be a special particular reason for me to carry Old Glory.
run in conjunction with a marathon, the half was a standalone event due
to the cancellation of its bigger brother this year. About a month
prior to the race, it appears that it would not be a fiscal possibility
to put on the race so the organizers gave those who were registered
three solid options: refund, deferment to another year or switching to
the half. It seems while there was some grumbling, most understood how
things happen and moved on. Those who don't, well, I would suggest you
try putting on a race yourself. You get all kinds of understanding after
you have stood in those running shoes.
There was also a
small course change to the half but the last 10 miles or so were
unchanged. This meant the infamous Cliff Drive hill and its little
sister hills earlier in the race remained. So, if I happened to hit my
goal of setting a new personal best while carrying a flag, I wouldn't
have to add an asterisk because it was an easier course.
As usual, I had an excellent time at the expo, meeting people running their first or hundredth race or everywhere in between. Each expo is always an opportunity for me to observe the human condition in way that I never find unfascinating. Predictable in many ways, but still fascinating. Was happy to talk to people about my accomplishments, listen to their goals and go into detail about products I use such as ASEA. Runners are never short of curiosity when it comes to find ways to shave just a few more seconds off of their time.
got to the race with just a few minutes to spare. I was fortunate
enough to be greeted by a woman who purchased my book the previous day.
She was pleasantly surprised I remembered her name. We chatted for a bit
while I stood in the portapotty line. CJ was her name and she was kind
enough to hold my flag for me while I powdered my nose. Then there as
just enough time to head to the start, hear an amazing rendition of the
Star-Spangled Banner (I have to find out if that was an actual live
performance) and virtually right on time, away we went.
First Four Miles:
The entirety of this first section was new.
It also gave the race a beach to beach feel it had been missing
previously. I have now run the race six times and haven't run the same
course twice. This is no knock on the race. I have run the Marine Corps
Marathon five separate times and am pretty sure I haven't run the same
course there either. But these changes might be the best ones yet and I
hope they keep them for the future.
goal for the race was simple: run the fastest time I have ever run on
this course carrying the flag. This new section here in the first few
miles, while beautiful, may have been mildly more difficult than the
course. I felt up to the challenge.
quick twists and turns took us from the UCSB campus out onto the
highway and then onto a nice tree-lined parking lot. By the second mile,
I was curious if my pace was off as the 1:30 pace group rocketed past
me. (He would go on to run a 1:28:30 which if not, if you are scoring
alone, a very good pacing job.) But a quick check on my watch had me
going right where I needed to be.
I wasn't paying as much attention to my surroundings as I was during last week's Milwaukee Running Festival as I was doing what I could to run hard and not get in anyone's way with my flapping flag.
We turned out of this parking lot and onto the Obern Trail.
Four miles in, I was still on pace to go under 1:30 for the race. But
this is not the race course upon which to guess your finish time on how
well you run the first third.
To Mile Nine:
noticed immediately as we got onto the trail this this was the coolest
temperature of all six of the races I had run here in Santa Barbara.
Note I don't say it was cool or even chilly, but I was more than happy
to not be sweating buckets. I don't recall being as much of a heavy
sweater growing up or even playing sports in college. I am unsure if
running has increased my sweat output or if I just became aware of it
more given I hardy ever moved for over an hour continuously until I
started running. But here as I pushed along I could tell it was going to
be a good weather day.
This past week I posted my
recaps of my previous races and I noticed a theme. I constantly spoke
about how bicycle paths, like the one we were on here on the Obern
Trail, always seem to give me a hard time. I have yet to really figure
out what it is about them that slows me so. In fact, even in my
marathon PR at the Ogden Marathon, the last three miles had me slowing
greatly on a bicycle path. Part of it was by design but part was forced.
this day, however, I ran one of my better efforts on this path as I
passed a few people who were in front of me and used the energy of a few
who tried to pass me to help propel me forward. One young fella who
had been out way in front came to a stop on the side of the path. I had
guessed he might have gone out way too fast but was hoping he was
another prodigy as I seem to be running into them left and right this year. I offered some encouragement as I passed and he seemed to be at
least in good spirits. I assumed he would be up and running any second
again and thought he may just pass me.
One runner in this
race, who was definitely younger but hardly a child, I had met at the
expo the previous day. Peter from Denmark, now living in Santa Barbara,
had asked me about the course. I told him I had heard a few friends set a
PR on it but it might be tough. He told me about his race results
rather generally and I predicted a 1:19 for him. He ended up running a
1:18:05 for 10th place overall. Kudos Peter!
bit on this trail we were finally spit out onto the back streets of a
neighborhood that I feel like I know so well after so many repeated
running of this race. I was happy to be out from the skinny bicycle
trail and could roam a bit more freely. This neighborhood area starts a
slight uphill portion which becomes full blown in less than a mile.
While many know of the Cliff Drive hill coming up later, this portion
here can make or break your race.
it appeared I had lost all chance to break 1:30, I was still well under
the pace I needed to best my two previous times of running this race
holding a flag (1:32: 57 and 1:32:35.)
a turn off of Modoc Road on a short but steep hill, I knew we had
approximately 1.5 miles of gradual downhill to shakeout our my legs. I
expected to do better on this downhill than I did. As I mentioned
above, I used to be able to shred downhills. Perhaps I was saving myself
a but as I knew that Cliff Drive awaited. I know I didn't feel
strained at all which was reassuring. while this section is normally
I took a deep breathe and
began to climb Cliff Drive. For some reason, even though this hill has
almost made me walk sometimes, and has made me walk others, I felt
strong today. I powered up it with my eyes held high. I am not ready to
say "before I knew it I was at the top" as it is assuredly a hill that
makes its presence known. But 3/4 of mile later I was on the top and
breathed a sigh of relief. I knew a couple of turns through some
neighborhoods and a small uphill was all that stood between me and the
long beautiful downhill home.
Again I played cat
and mouse with a some runners and again I was able to pull past them on
the uphill. We made the turn and the Pacific Ocean exploded on our
right. Soon thereafter, the mile of flags began with members of our
military there to hand out small postcard-sized flags to everyone to
carry to the finish. I politely declined as my hands were already full..
I also noticed that because I had run Cliff Drive far faster than I
expected. I had an outside chance to run under 1:30. I would have never
thought that possible a few miles earlier but wanted to give it a go. It
would requite a 6:00 mile in this last mile, unfortunately. I lowered
my head, and began to run.
trip me three times.)
now done this event six times in one form or another I think it might
be time for me to move onto a different race. I love coming here in
November but with only so many weekends in a year and only so many miles
in my legs, I want to see more of this country and world. I am
presently accepting invitations from all races.
that time, however, my heartfelt thanks goes out to all veterans. By
doing what you do, I am able to choose to go run around on weekend's
knowing I live under the blanket of security you help provide.