I’ve wanted to get to Santa Barbara for a few months now, and the Run Local Santa Barbara Half Marathon seemed like a perfect excuse. As many people know, the last few years of running have not been great for me. Being quite frank, I just haven’t run well and haven’t been able to get out of the plateau I’ve been in since 2018.
I’ve often wondered, “will I ever run under 1:30 again”? Technically my time at the San Francisco Half Marathon was under 1:30, but we went the wrong way, and I ended up with a 1:31. That didn’t help the cause, and it felt like the harder I trained, the further I got from 1:30.
Before the Race:
Anyway, I arrived at the Run Local Santa Barbara Half Marathon the night before. The drive from the Mojave Desert to Santa Barbara is about 2.5 hours and more enjoyable than going through Los Angeles. There wasn’t much of a note. I picked up my race packet and got dinner with Mary.
Because hotels were over $400 (most around $800), I opted to stay in Ventura, roughly 30 minutes away. Thankfully, we got an extra hour’s sleep with daylight savings time, and I was up anyway. I left the hotel around 5:30 and got a parking spot around 6. I walked the half-mile to the Run Local Santa Barbara Half Marathon start, used the bathroom, and got into the corral. We ended up starting about 10 minutes late.
The Run Local Santa Barbara Half Marathon Race:
At the start, I saw the 1:30 pacers and decided to hang with them. I rarely run with pacers because I don’t think they ever run how I want to run a race. Truthfully this time was no different. We hit the first mile of the Run Local Santa Barbara Half Marathon in 6:44. Breaking 1:30 means running a 6:49 pace, and 6:44 was aggressive. To me, that isn’t “right on pace.” The website said there were only 10 feet of elevation, but I quickly learned that wouldn’t be the case.
At mile 2 of the Run Local Santa Barbara Half Marathon, the pacers began talking about the giant hill we were coming upon. What? How could there be a giant hill at the race with 10 feet of elevation gain? I asked, and they said there was no way that was accurate, and the race had at least 400 feet of elevation gain. LOL…great, I just read the website. I am fairly good at uphills (not downhills, LOL), but they still slow you down.
The following two miles went without note. We ran a 6:42 and 6:42. They were chatting and said their plan was to bank time for the hill. This isn’t my usual racing cup of tea, in fact, I usually complain about this with pacers, but I felt moderately ok and went with it. I would rather run with a group than in no man’s land. Somewhere during the 3rd mile, there was a Gatorade Stop, but I was too boxed in to grab some. I knew missing fluids was not ideal, but I just told myself, “it would be ok.”
Mile 4 turned around and came back where we could. I ran a 6:37 and 6:39. I thought, wow, these are some of my fastest half marathon miles in a while. It wasn’t even as if I felt great. I was just kind of left foot, right foot in front of the other. I saw my husband at mile 5, then shortly after, found a water stop. I wish more of the stops had Gatorade, and I could only get Gatorade at one stop. After looking back, most of the stops were supposed to have Gatorade and just didn’t.
Somewhere during mile 5, we began climbing. They warmed me this was “the hardest climb,” and it was a mile of climbing. I found myself powering up the hills. I think I’m a fairly strong hill runner and just kept telling myself: don’t let it take too much out of you. I kept my heart rate as low as possible. I ran mile 7 of the Run Local Santa Barbara Half Marathon in 7:03, and I was fairly happy. It was a challenging hill, but I also found myself on the heels of some of the pack.
Then we turned around and headed back down the climb. I didn’t realize how challenging the climb was until we were going back down. I ran a 6:40 and 6:43 pace downhill. Truthfully if I hadn’t been with a pack, I might have run faster downhill, but I decided to run smart versus run like a chicken with its head cut off because it was downhill. It wasn’t like we were almost done with the race. I didn’t want to run 6:10, tire myself out, and regret it at the second hill around mile 11.
Since I knew we had an eventual second hill towards the end of the race. I didn’t particularly want to mess up what I had going on with running too fast in the middle. Around mile 10 was another water stop. Again, I wish instead of so many gels, they had more Gatorade. At that stop, I got separated from the group and found myself front running. I didn’t want that either, especially with 3 miles to go. I realized for about 2 minutes how hard it was to run alone when I had been running with a group.
The last 3 miles is where the Run Local Santa Barbara Half Marathon got challenging and slightly dangerous. We met up with the 5kers around mile 11 of the Run Local Santa Barbara Half Marathon. It was dangerous. The amount of space was not enough, and despite trying to go around people, I collided with someone. While neither of us fell, it caused me to lose about 5 seconds. Mile 11 of any half marathon is always the worst, let alone when you are in a crowded area. 5kers don’t want to run with half marathoners, and half marathoners don’t want to run with 5kers. I wish no race did this.
Finally, we got to the top of the climb and headed the other way. By this point, the half marathon pacers had put about 15 seconds on me. I thought will this be another race I can’t log under 1:30? Thankfully the last 1.5 miles went back downhill.
Somewhere around mile 12 of the Run Local Santa Barbara Half Marathon, two of the half marathon pacers saw me and came back. We were weaving in and around 5kers, and I thought I may fall over someone again. By the time in the half marathon, everyone in the 1:30 pace group ran their race, and the pacers were left in no man’s land. I was the next closest person around.
They dragged me to the finish, and I ran a 6:27 last mile. I crossed the Run Local Santa Barbara Half Marathon at 1:29.12.
Run Local Santa Barbara Half Marathon Thoughts:
I did it. I finally ran under 1:30 again. Despite running a 1:22 in 2018, it feels like I’ve been battling to run back under 1:30. I didn’t feel great or like I was running my faster ever, so hopefully, this is a sign of getting back into 1:22 shape. It was also my first time running in the Next% in a few years and I don’t think I liked them as much as other shoes. There were enough little things that didn’t go well for me including not getting enough electrolytes as well as just not feeling good, that I do think I have more in me.
I think on a flat course; I would be able to run a 1:28 or so. Who knows. I do know I run faster and stronger during races so I’m glad they are back.
Questions for you:
What barrier are you trying to work through right now?
What is the hilliest race you’ve done?