Third Annual Capitola Half Marathon

The weekend of May 17 and 18, I was lucky enough to be in Santa Cruz, California, and to once again be a part of the Surfer’s Path Marathon and Capitola Half Marathon & Relay.  I have been involved with the race since its inaugural year, and have loved watching the race grow and transform into what is becoming a “must do” race for the Santa Cruz area (recaps of years 1 & 2).  This year, I participated only as a runner but was SO happy to be able to add the race into my race schedule – especially knowing it meant I would get to race with some of the best runners around!

[Full disclosure: my race entry was comped for my contributions to the race from the first two years, but all opinions are my own.]

Race weekend started early Saturday morning with a 4 mile shakeout jog w/ Meg & Rebecca.  Then, after breakfast and showering, Meg (who ran the relay w/ Leslie & won the women’s division – check out her recap here) & I headed down to the expo to pick up our packets and meet up with Alisyn for the tweet-up (which ended up just being the three of us, but that just means there is lots of room for improvement next year!!).

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Alisyn, me and Meg at the Expo

At the Expo we also hung out at the SCE tent, and chatted for a bit before I headed off to meet a good friend for the rest of the afternoon.

SCE at the Expo

SCE at the Expo

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Spent the afternoon enjoying the Santa Cruz coast – and surfers!

After burgers + sweet potato fries for lunch, an afternoon chocolate sorbet and a poke bowl for dinner, I figured I was all carbo-loaded up and hit the hay to get ready for race day.

Sunday morning came all too fast.  Even though the race started extremely close to where I was staying at Meg’s, I woke up at 4am to pop 2 immodium (you can never be too safe) so that I didn’t have the same problem as the time I spent FAR too much time in the bathroom when I ran this race in 2012.  I went back to bed and woke up again at 5:00am to eat breakfast, pack a little and get dressed. Around 6:30, Meg, Hillary and I headed to the start line, where I popped another immodium (seriously, I was worried.  I mean, did you see what I ate on Saturday?!).  And before I knew it, it was go time.

Happiness at the start line

Happiness at the start line

I had made plans with Gaylia and Charmin, two absolutely incredible, sweet and talented ladies, to start out at about a 7:15-7:20 pace, and we all had the goal of finishing in the 1:35-1:38 time range.  Of course, I forgot to turn on my watch, so I only had a vague idea of “current” pace as we were running and what miles 2-13.1 were, since mile 1 was way off.

Running with those two ladies was seriously the greatest gift and experience I could’ve asked for.  They just made the day that much more fun.  And before we knew it, we checked in at the 4-mile mark right on at a 7:15 page.  This was thanks in large part to Gaylia keeping us all honest and not letting us pick up the pace too early, and Charmin for making sure we were all feeling good and knocking it out together.  We saw Rebecca around this point too, who had made it out after her morning run to cheer us all on!  Such a delightful surprise!

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Around mile 5 I took my first gu and shortly thereafter I saw my good friend who had woken up to cheer – it was kind of a surprise since he’s not necessarily an early morning riser, but it was fun and wonderful to see another friendly face on the course.  And we frequently saw Bob on the course with his bike & camera, and I have him to thank for most of these fantastic photos he took for SCE.

Synchronized running

Synchronized running

At about mile 6, you fly down the downhill into Capitola to the around point of the race where the relay has its hand off. I saw Meg who had just handed off the baton to Leslie who ran and started screaming at me about PRs of some sort (she PRed her 10k unofficially in the first half the relay!!, so we’re pretty sure thats what it was all about) and I screamed back at her something about pace, probably getting myself a PR and other sorts of nonsense.  I love that girl and our insanity.

And then it was back up and out of Capitola with Gaylia and Charmin – where the motto was “keep it relaxed and easy” because that hill is a beast.  This is also where we met up with speedster Jenn, who was a sweetheart and got up super early to come run in the last six miles of the race with us.  And Benoit joined us for a “cooldown” mile or two at the easy pace of about a 7:10…during miles 7 and 8.

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Jenn joining the ranks!

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The ladies + Benoit!

The miles flew by, and our paced jockeyed between a 7:03 and a 7:10, and suddenly we were at mile 11, which is on a short but pretty steep hill.  I took my second gu here, and came out of the hill with Jenn just ahead of Gaylia and Charmin.  I didn’t want to leave them since we had been running together the whole race, and it had been going perfectly, but when we turned back to look they waved me on, so I took off with Jenn.  When we got to mile 12 I told Jenn I didn’t want to know the splits.  Thankfully, she kept her mouth shut (we were running sub-7s) b/c otherwise I probably would’ve freaked out.  She just kept telling me to charge on, and so charge I did.

Just after 13 miles, Jenn turned around to go bring Gaylia & Charmin in and as I turned left to run down onto the beach to the finishline, my eyes caught the timer and it read “1:32:xx” and my mind just went “f*&p %s#s jd&*#” because I had no idea that was where I was at.  I mean, Kelley had told me after Cherry Blossom that I could do that, but I didn’t fully believe her…

Running onto the beach finishline

Running onto the beach finishline

Alisyn's instagram immediately following my finish - so fun to see her as soon as I crossed the finishline

Post-finish afterglow w/ Alisyn

And then the PR glow aftermath started settling in.  My official time was 1:32:23, a 12 minute PR from December…  My mind is still a little blown.

After the race, I hung out and celebrated with SCE and the running wives.  We grabbed some coffee, ate some post-race food (which comes from New Leaf and in AWESOME paper grocery bags – you just pick a bag up and you’re on your way!).

Post-race bliss w/ Jenn

Post-race bliss w/ Jenn

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We waited around for the awards, because SCE pretty much cleaned house.  SCE took top place in all the relays categories (open men, women and mixed) and there were AG takings and PRs flying all over the place.  I even managed to snag 3rd in my AG, which was definitely a nice bonus, but really all that mattered to me was that PR.

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It was seriously the perfect race day, with my favorite runners and in one of my favorite places in the world.  I couldn’t have asked for a better end to the most wonderful week.

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The best team in all the land

Actually I could have had a better end to my week in Santa Cruz – not having to run back to Meg’s, shower, pack and head to the airport would’ve been better…  At least I’ll be back in August.

I seriously love the Capitola Half Marathon and have heard wonderful things about the marathon course as well, though its definitely a half-marathon dominated race.  The course is well marked, the water stations are well manned and the volunteers are great at cheering, there are post race massages, lots of good food and a free ice bath called the ocean (which I wish I had taken advantage of.  And the location seriously can’t be beat.  While there are lots of rolling hills making it not a challenging course, the views are pretty hard to beat.  You bet your buns I’ll try to be back again next year.

Running my way through California

Its no secret here on the blog – or to anyone in my life – that I miss all my friends in Santa Cruz, like a lot.  So much so that half the time I day dream about quitting law school, selling all my stuff, and hopping on a plane and inviting myself to live in one of my friends’ spare bedrooms.  And trust me, there were a few times it was so close to happening I’m almost surprised it didn’t.

But, as luck would have it I was able to find my way back to Santa Cruz in mid-May after second semester finals were over, AND will be finding myself back there in August – and I’m pretty sure that’s what allowed me to get back on the plane last Sunday was knowing I would be going back…

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There’s no place like home…or Leslie’s home for a get together :)

Of course, in true runner form, the first thing I did when Meg picked me up from the Airport May 10, well after catching up of course, was head out with her and another one of the running wives for a few miles of my long run.  I finished it out solo b/c Meg had already run a 10k race that morning, and I needed to get 10 on the books on the Santa Cruz rollers to boost my confidence for Capitola Half Marathon on May 18.  And then we had Verve coffee…because we had to.

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Later, we headed out for delicious dinner + drinks downtown.

Meg & Me

Meg & Me

Sunday morning we had a late morning run with some of the running wives on the hills of Santa Cruz and a new-to-me path. We refueled in the evening with some delicious BBQ foods later a la casa de Leslie – who, btw, throws the best house parties around!

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Some of my running wives at the BBQ

w/ Claudia & Laura at the BBQ

w/ Claudia & Laura at the BBQ

I will admit the fact that I was in California, running in some of my favorite places made taking the rest days I was supposed to take very very difficult.  So difficult, in fact, that I wasn’t sure that my half marathon race was going to go well?  Usually I like to have 2-3 rest days during race week – and like to be about 10ish miles total shorter (including the race – w/ the exception of a marathon race week) of my previous few weeks’ total mileage.  But that quickly went out the window.

Monday I did take a rest day, and just hung out in Santa Cruz with the pups at Meg’s house while she taught or something ridiculous like that – I mean, what’s work?

Sami.

Sami.

And Monday night I got to have tacos (we don’t have real tacos in Virginia/DC) with a good friend, and see the Santa Cruz sunset. I had forgotten how beautiful it was.

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Santa Cruz sunset at Pleasure Point

Tuesday morning, it was back to running with Meg & Leslie before heading to San Jose to meet my nephew and hang out with my family for a few days.  Got in a couple solid runs, spent plenty of time loving on my niece and nephew and helping out my brother and sister-in-law and got to even go to the Giants game with my brother, sister and niece!

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Cutest little man in the world (I’m biased)

Hanging with my niece

Hanging with my niece

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Melting at the Giants game w/ my sister

Then it was back to Santa Cruz to hang out with PhD friends and run/eat some more good food on Thursday.

Drinks w/ PhD friends

Drinks w/ PhD friends

I also got to experience RecoveryPump…

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RecoveryPump insanity.

Friday it was more miles along the coast with the girls, chased with an evening of sushi and wine for girl’s night out!

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All the ladies – fancy and not.

The fancy ladies

The fancy ladies

After what felt like a solid week of eating, drinking and running nonstop, it was time to start getting mentally ready for the half marathon on Sunday…but since this post is already like longer than any post I’ve ever written, I’ll leave it here for now.  I’ll leave it on a high note from all the friendship, family fun, food, wine, and of course running that happened over my post-finals week in California.  It was easily the best week of 2014 so far.  And it finished with a wonderful race weekend at Capitola Half Marathon…

What is your best week of 2014 so far?  Or best day?

SJ Giant Race

Last week, after some convincing by my good friend Leslie, Meg, Hillary and I found ourselves signed up for the SJ Giant Race on Saturday, June 1.  Yes, my first race in over two months (the last one was when I PRed at the 5k before giving in to my injury.)  With all of two days to mentally and physically prepare myself, my goal was to run hard, to see where my fitness was at.

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Race morning came and we met at 6am, and headed over the hill to San Jose.  We arrived and parked with only about 25 minutes to spare, and by the time we hit the bathroom, Leslie and I only had about 5 minutes to warmup for our 5k before we had to make our way to the front of the pack.  Hillary and Meg were running the five mile race as a progression run, so I did not get to run with them.

I started off really strong in the race.

Mile 1: 6:40

I felt good, and heading into the second mile I was still running strong.  But then, then it hit me.  The stomach of death.  And I started feeling crappy, and slowing down.

Mile 2: 7:01

By the time I was running the third mile, my body was dragging, my stomach was winning, and then we hit some grassy portions and cobblestones that made me watch my step as I was running.

Mile 3: 7:24

Then I saw the mile 3 sign and I started picking up pace — just .1 to go!  Oh wait, it was really like .2 to go.  Though I did love how we finished by running into the outfield of the SJ Giants stadium.

Time: 21:30

Hillary, Meg, Me, Leslie post-race

Hillary, Meg, Me, Leslie post-race

Though it wasn’t my best race, it was a fun one for sure.  I loved spending the morning at a race with my favorite SFM ambassador Meg, and two of my favorite SCE ladies, Hillary and Leslie (who won the 5k with a time of 19:40!!).  And officially meeting another fabulous Santa Cruz runner, Trinity, who took second in the 5k!

Meg, Leslie, Trinity, Me, Hillary post-race

Meg, Leslie, Trinity, Me, Hillary post-race

Once the results were posted, I was surprised to find out that my 21:30 got me 5th woman OA and 1st in my AG!  Nice surprise for a not-feeling-so-well race.  Yay!

Fellow SFM Ambassador Meg & I post-race

Fellow SFM Ambassador Meg & I post-race

I don’t want to downplay this, I know that I have become much faster and a better runner over the past year. I mean a year ago I was excited to run a 22:50 5k.  And now a 21:30 is ‘not-so-good’ race.  I know that I have come a long way, and am so proud and happy of my accomplishments.  But, I’m working hard for — and am really trying — to become stronger and faster.  I’m not disappointed in my performance, I’d just like to (for once) not have a stomach problems and perform to the best of my ability.  One thing is for certain: I need to figure out what the heck is up with my stomach these days.  I even took 2 immodium at 5:30am, and the only thing that did was make me constipated for the next two days.  TMI, you’re welcome.

What’s up next?  The Fabulous 5k at the SF Marathon on June 16, 2013.  And then, I’m headed south to Peru for a month, where I’m trying to find a road race, but will otherwise be focused on crosstraining sightseeing and getting in short runs when I can.

Will you be there SFM weekend?  If so, come look for me and all the other ambassadors at the Expo Friday & Saturday — and on the course, race day!