General Discussion Race Reports! » Santa Barbara International Marathon Rss Feed  
Moderators: k9car363, alicefoeller Reply

Santa Barbara International Marathon - RunMarathon

View Member's Race Log View other race reports
Santa Barbara, California
United States
Total Time = 4h 11m 22s
Overall Rank = 771/1686
Age Group = 30-39
Age Group Rank = 79/221
Pre-race routine:

I basically started training for this race in April, by slowly building up my weekly mileage so that I'd be able to tackle Pfitzinger's 18/55 plan. My goal was a sub-4 marathon, which would have meant 10 minutes off of my first marathon last December. I handled the training really well, mentally and physically. But I failed to PR in any of my lead-up races (two half marathons and a 5k). While I felt like I nailed the training, I wasn't at all convinced I could go sub-4 this time around. But I was going to give it a good shot.

I flew down to my parents' house in Thousand Oaks on Friday night. I went for an easy run on Saturday then drove up to Santa Barbara that afternoon. My friends Shizu, Annie and Michael all drove down from Berkeley (a six-hour drive!) to stay at the hotel with me the night before. I didn't get much sleep -- maybe three hours? I woke up at 4 a.m. and ate about three-quarters of a bagel with peanut butter and jelly. We left the hotel at 5 a.m. and I drank some coffee on the drive to the start. I'd brought along a banana to eat while waiting for the start, but it just didn't sound good so I left it with my friends.
Event warmup:

It's a marathon! No warmup for me. We did have a pretty good walk from the parking area to the start line. Then I wandered around trying to keep warm and visited the portapotties a couple of times. The race ended up being delayed 30 minutes because of a traffic accident on the freeway, which I'm assuming tied up some of the streets we'd be running on. That worked out all right because it was fully light when we finally started, plus it had warmed up enough that I didn't mind leaving my sweatshirt with my friends.
  • 4h 11m 22s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 35s  min/mile

I started off with the 4:00 pace group. The race starts with a very gentle climb and then a nice downhill, but when we hit the first mile marker and I glanced at my Garmin I was still surprised to see we'd run an 8:30 mile. Yikes. That could not continue. I thought maybe the pacer had just gotten caught up in the start, or was taking advantage of the downhill, but halfway through the second mile we were still at an 8:30 pace so I said screw that and fell back. The next mile or two were focused on staying slow. I found my comfy marathon pace around mile four, and stuck with that pretty well for quite some time. The first 12 or 13 miles flew by. I saw Shizu, Annie and Michael at about mile 5 and again at mile 7 or 8. They had pompoms and were the loudest people cheering by far. I heard Shizu yelling before I saw her, and she was cheering for *everyone*.

Unfortunately, somewhere around the halfway point I realized I was struggling, and I was running just a little too slow, and it was too early to be "toughing it out." I passed the 13.1 marker at 1:59 and change, which meant I'd have to run a 2:01 for the second half and...I really didn't think I could pull that off. Man, writing it now I'm kind of mad at myself for basically giving up, but that's pretty much what happened. Frankly, I was already feeling off my game and I just didn't want to be hurting and miserable for 13 more miles.

So I let go and allowed myself to run at whatever pace felt sustainable, without looking at my Garmin and trying to force a pace. I felt 100 percent OK with this decision. I passed by my friends again shortly after I "gave up," and I saw my parents for the first time and my mom was madly waving her cowbell and my dad was taking photos and my friends were screaming and I felt great.

What's funny is that, like, a mile later (mile 16?) I hit a water station and glanced up and saw the 4:00 pace leader. I'd caught up! I literally hadn't seen the guy since 1.5 miles into the race and there I was right on his tail. I toyed around with the idea of sticking with the group but we were on a long incline and I just didn't have it in me. Somewhere around this time I started feeling really, really hungry. I'd kept up with my nutrition just fine -- one Shot Blok every two miles, with water at every aid station (I ran all but one of the aid stations) -- so I think I probably just needed a bigger breakfast. I should've eaten that banana!

Around mile 19 or 20 I realized I needed a pee break. I ran by some portapotties but there was a line and it wasn't too bad so I kept going. The course hit an off-road bike/pedestrian path around this point, which was a nice change of scenery. We crossed a pedestrian bridge that was kind of bouncy, which felt really, really weird on super-tired legs. By the time I hit mile 22 or so I had to pee pretty badly. If I'd still been running with a time goal I would've just said HTFU, but since my only goal now was to "enjoy" the marathon (and not walk), I wanted the potty break! Fortunately I found one. I think it added about 30 seconds to my time but I felt sooooooo much better.

I saw my support crew one more time at about mile 23. Shizu had planned it (per my request) to come right before the monster hill. From there all the runners seemed to be on the lookout for the hill, which it turned out was kind of hidden -- you're on a long, steady downhill, then you turn a corner and yikes. You can't even really see the top of the hill. There was a group of drummers at the bottom of the hill and they were awesome. They kept this great, steady drumbeat that was perfect for getting started on the hill. And the slog began. Most people were walking but I was determined to run the whole thing. A few folks (who looked way too chipper for a major hill at mile 23 -- I'm going to assume they were relay runners) flew by me, but mostly I passed a lot of people. Along the way supporters and volunteers kept chanting "almost there" and "it's all downhill from the top." One volunteer kept it simple and just told everyone there was water at the top. Yay!

From the top of the hill it's about 2.5 miles to the finish, and aside from one very, very short climb it really is all downhill. Which isn't exactly good news at the very end of a marathon. My quads were not happy. But on the other hand, it felt good to be able to pick up the pace, and the ocean views were incredible. This was an inaugral marathon but for the most part you'd never know it because everything was so well organized. One telling sign, however, was how many supporters and volunteers were yelling "almost there!" at the 24-mile mark. No! Almost there is *not* 2.2 miles to go! The last mile felt particularly long (probably in part because my Garmin told me I ran 26.46 miles), but the finish line was wonderful. I saw my friends and my mom cheering, and I heard the announcer say my name, and then my dad was right there taking pictures again. As soon as I finished I walked over to him and gave him a big hug.
What would you do differently?:

I suppose there are lots of little things I could have done differently -- eaten a little more for breakfast, slept more in the week leading up, done every single one of my training runs instead of, like, 90 percent of them. Obviously I could have pushed harder in this race, but I made a calculated decision to back off and I'm OK with that.

Going into this race, my only goal was sub-4. I'd decided that if I hit that goal, I'd seriously consider attempting a BQ in 2010. If I didn't hit that goal, I'd pick a few marathons to run for fun in 2010. So it was basically a win-win for me! My plan for 2010 is to focus on fun races that don't have anything to do with PRs -- Big Sur, for example. That race sounds so cool! It'll be nice to train without the pressure of meeting a time goal. One thing I realized from following a fairly aggressive marathon plan was that I can handle the miles and the time commitment just fine -- in fact, I really enjoyed the training, overall. But time goals stress me out. I put a lot of pressure on myself and that takes away from my simple joy of running. During the race I ran for about a mile with a woman who was in her early 50s and doing her 21st marathon. I asked her if she had a time goal and she said nope, she just enjoys running marathons, and her finish time is whatever her legs can do. I won't say I fully embrace that attitude (for me -- good for her if she wants to run marathons for fun!), but I totally get it. I still want to get that sub-4, and I might even try it in 2010. And I'd love to BQ someday, of course. But at the end of the day I do this running thing because I enjoy it, and sometimes that means easing up on the race pressure.
Post race
Warm down:

I met my friends and family and hugged everyone like crazy. My mom was very impressed with the blood on my shoe, from where a blood blister had popped and bled through the mesh. Yum! I seriously considered just sending on of my friends back to check out of the hotel while I went down to the ocean for my "ice bath," but then I decided I really wanted a shower before the long drive back to Berkeley. So we didn't really linger at the finish line. I thought the drive back would be torture but Shizu and I stopped almost every hour to stretch so it was fine.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Seriously, I don't even know. I suspect it's partly (mostly?) mental with me and the solution might be to just push myself out of my comfort zone more often. I need to sign up for a lot more races in 2010.

Event comments:

This was the inaugral Santa Barbara Marathon and they did a really great job with it. There were some very minor communication glitches, but everything was resolved quickly, and the organizers were very good about responding to questions (at least, from what I saw on their Facebook page). There were tons of volunteers and the spectator support was impressive considering this was the first year. The course wasn't *amazing*, but it was pretty and peaceful. I thought the loop in the first half would be annoying but it wasn't bad at all. The last two miles of the course really are spectacular (even if most of us runners were in too much pain to appreciate it) and the finish is beautiful, right on the beach.

Last updated: 2009-09-19 12:00 AM
04:11:22 | 26.2 miles | 09m 35s  min/mile
Age Group: 79/221
Overall: 771/1686
Performance: Average
Splits: 8:31, 8:43, 8:47, 8:59, 9:05, 9:06, 9:14, 9:18, 9:12, 9:15, 9:05, 9:11, 9:10, 9:15, 9:24, 9:32, 9:43, 9:15, 9:37, 10:12, 10:26, 10:27, 9:28, 11:19, 10:09, 9:30, 4:09
Course: The start is in Goleta. The first half is a loop on quiet residential streets and rural-ish roads, then it heads south into Santa Barbara. Except for one major climb at about mile 23 the hills are pretty tame, but some of them go on for a long time (like a mile). After the big climb the last two miles are a pretty comfortable downhill with beautiful views of the ocean.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2009-12-08 3:07 AM

User image

Berkeley, Calif.
Subject: Santa Barbara International Marathon

2009-12-10 12:51 PM
in reply to: #2547416

User image

Pacific Northwest
Subject: RE: Santa Barbara International Marathon

Congratulations to you!!!  I think you did awesome, and that next year you will BQ and reach all of your goals.  I am thinking of Portland, too.....hmmmm......


2009-12-11 2:07 PM
in reply to: #2547416

User image

Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Santa Barbara International Marathon
Congratulations Erin! I don't think "give up" is quite right.  While we do have particular goals for races, IMHO the bottom line is that this stuff is supposed to be fun. Sounds like you had a blast and you did fantastic - 4:11 is freaking AWESOME and you ran the whole time. Beautiful race and I love how the family and friends came to cheer....that's the best! 
General Discussion-> Race Reports!
General Discussion Race Reports! » Santa Barbara International Marathon Rss Feed