Sunday, December 13, 2009
"Ya Gotta Beat Santa!"
Gail needed a Marathon in December to keep her streak going. (She has run a marathon or longer the last 30 months.) So at the last minute we decided to run the Santa Barbara International Marathon, the first one in fact. Gail had never been to SB so the fact we both had the weekend off it seemed like a good fit. Gail emailed the RD and asked if we could pick up our bibs on race morning rather than attend the expo. (Did I tell you I hate expo's!) He was great and said sure. He was very prompt at answering all of Gail's last minute questions.
We flew into Burbank rather than SB due to the timing of the flights. It was an easy drive of just 90 minutes to our hotel in Goleta, a SB suburb. We got to our hotel about 8:30 Saturday night. Got some food for the next morning and took a quick 5 hour nap.
Our 4 am wake up call came early. We had to drive to the finish line, park, take a bus back to the start line. It all worked out pretty good but you have to get up so dang early to do races like this. The bus driver messed up and took a wrong exit and some anal police officer made us walk a mile to the start line in the dark. But the nice part was the race started at an elementary school and they had opened up the classrooms and bathrooms for us. It was so sweet to be in a nice warm room for over an hour rather than standing out in 40 degree weather.
That throw away jacket has lasted for years
Just wondering around at the start
The race was delayed for a half hour due to a bad accident on the local freeway. We talked with Maniac #2 Hollywood for a while as we passed the time. Soon the sun was coming up and out to the start line the pushed us. The crowd was probably 1500 to 2000. A nice size as its not too big. They had a 4 leg relay going on at the same time too so that added to a bit of excitement in the crowd. The announcer was going crazy trying to get us all "pumped up" for the race. It was good for a laugh.
The kids at the start
A just the right size marathon
Off we went. The course started with an 8 mile loop back to the start then you reran 3 of the loop miles before heading out on new ground. I ran the first few miles with Gail and threaded our way through the usual crowds at the start. I always worry I am going to get tripped in this part. There were some rollers in the first loop but overall was pretty flat. Weather was perfect as the sun came into view and temps hit the upper 40's. I wasn't sure how I was going to run this race. I had a goal of sub 4:10 but was happy just to be running in a race. I just ran comfortable with no real pushing. Most of the first 15 miles I ran around 8:45 or so.
Typical course section
My legs started to ache a bit around the half way point so I took some IB tabs. I was wearing a water belt this race so I could easily carry my camera and take some pix. The last marathon my upper back really hurt as I did the handheld bottle thing. The belt was nice as it left my hands free.
Somewhere in the mid teens
The course had a few good climbs but nothing drastic. At around mile 18 we got on a nice little bike path through the trees. This was my favorite part of the course. Soon we were back on residential neighborhood streets widing our way to the finish. I was tired by mile 21 but never enough to have to walk. I had no major pains either which was nice for a change.
Great bike path
Nice city streets to run on
The slope of the big streets is a pain to run on
At mile 23 or so we had this big climb. It was steep for sure. Everyone was walking but I was determined to run the entire section. I am a Ultra runner you know...this is a dinky little hill for us! Ha! I was barely moving but I was running. Every body I passed I thought they would be thinking. "Wow look at that 50 year old guy running up this hill". That was my motivation to keep going. So I guess getting old does have some benefit!
Fat Boyee around mile 20. Probably got Ted Nugent Cranked up!
At the top of the hill we dropped back off big streets to locals. We now were up on a bluff looking at the Pacific Ocean. As we meandered back and forth I always run the tangents of the turns. I am still amazed how people just stay on one side of the street and don't think about taking the legal short cut. You know when they measure the courses they do it via the tangents. So why not run a that route?
Now we came upon a park with about a mile and a half to go. It was really nice out. Mostly blue sky and 55 degrees or so. The beach and bay were all in view. The last mile was a great cruise downhill. My legs were pretty tired and didn't have any speed left in them, so a ton of sprinters were passing me. The had a nice crowd at the finish and I do have to admit that I like that. I crossed the finish in 4:10. A tad over what I wanted but much better than the last race.
Last mile or so along the coast
The finish line food was a joke. A cup of water, a banana and a Odwalla bar. Give me a break! $135 entry fee and that's all you get? What were they thinking? They did have a nice set up on the football field. With expo like booths set up. The one that cracked me up was some guy that had this booth bragging about how he was going to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks. Like what is the big deal with that? Tons of Maniacs have done way more than that in a year.
Across the street from the finish
Well I walked around with the plan of not sitting down for over an hour after the race. Lisa B.'s comment about the fact your legs are blood pumps and if you sit your bp will drop as the pumps quit pumping. I always crash after a race so I am really trying to keep moving so I feel better. I walked over to the beach. A woman was in getting her ice bath. I almost did it myself. I walked to the cafe on the beach and got a huge coffee, my recovery drink of choice. I decided to walk back to the finish line area. I didn't think Gail would be done yet as she was quite nervous about his run. She had only run like 3 times in the last 3 weeks since our previous marathon. I figured she would finish somewhere just under 5 hours.
As I got to about 50 yards from the finish I enjoyed watching the folks run in. I like to cheer for everyone as I know what they have just accomplished. Some are happy some are just barely hanging on.
Well guess what? Here comes a guy dressed in this plastic like Santa outfit. He is trotting down the chute waving at all the kids. That is pretty cool but you would never see me run 26 miles in some crazy outfit. Well then guess who is about 30 yards behind Santa? Yep its Detour. She is gonna have a great time. This is so cool. I yell "Go Gail Go Gail!" She finally sees me over the roar of the crowd. We make eye contact as she passes me. I yell at the top of my lungs, "Ya gotta beat Santa! Ya gotta beat Santa!!" So guess what? She just takes off. Full blown sprint to catch Santa. I lean around to see if she does it. Dang, I can't see because of the crowds. So I make my way to the finish area. I see the big beautiful Gail smile. I ask "Did you beat Santa?" "Yeah I did" she replies. I say "are you kidding me? you beat Santa?". "Well you told me to" Gail says. "Oh man are you gonna get coal in your stocking this Christmas" I say.
Here comes Santa!
In her best Forest Gump voice Gail says
"I gotta beat Santa!"
Later she tells me how she is just blowing by Santa at the finish as he is just jogging and waiving to all the kids. This has to be one of the funniest things we have done in a race. Gail smokes Santa in a photo finish.
Gail finishes in an awesome time of 4:42, almost 20 minutes faster than the San Antonio marathon. With only a few training runs between races Detour once again states that "Training is overrated." Actually she had a ton of personal issues come up during this time. It was truly amazing that she could do this race.
Well we walk a mile or so back to our car. We have a late check out so we can shower before our drive back to Burbank. We hit the road and once again traffic is just fine. At the airport we get our seats for our flight home. Soon one our pilots informs me that his family is with him and they won't be able to get on the flight unless I ride in the jumpseat in the cockpit for the flight home. He has his wife and two young kids with him. I say "sure" and change my ticket. Now you have to understand the jumpseat in this plane is just basically a 2 x 2 flat board with some padding on it. Your back is straight up against the door. Your legs hang straight down and can only move left to right about six inches. To say the least it is a very confined space. The flight takes two hours but I know both the pilots so we have a good conversation on the flight. The First Officer just ran his first marathon in Portland in October.
Soon we are back in our own car driving home. The entire trip only took us about 27 hours. Which is perfect for both Gail and I. I get race 62 in and Gail gets number 41. We are very happy we decided to do this race. I might even do it again sometime. It wasn't great but it was one of the better ones.
On the beach after the race