The Santa Barbara Half Marathon was November 7, 2015. So exactly one month later I’ll offer a bit of a recap.
First, this was a very hilly course – for me at least. Second, I ran this race exactly two weeks after another half marathon and so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly wasn’t expecting to run faster.
The Wednesday before the race I asked our running club coach for advice on running this race. He seemed to have more confidence in my abilities that me because he said that I should plan on a 9:50-10:00 pace per mile. He also said that I should try to stay around 11:00-11:30 on the hills, but that 12:00 was a possibility on the big hill at mile 10.
I finished the Lexus LaceUp half marathon in 2:13:01 so I decided to line up halfway between the 2:10:00 and 2:15:00 pacers. When the race actually started I quickly found myself running very close to the 2:10:00 pacer. At first I was a bit freaked out and thought that I was going to die on the hills that would come later. At the same time I felt pretty good and I was running at the recommended pace.
The course was beautiful but crowded as it consisted mostly of bike trails that linked various neighborhood located between UC Santa Barbara and the beach. One thing about trying to navigate through this crowded course, time passed very quickly.
At around the 7th mile we encountered a long gradual hill. I momentarily fell behind the 2:10:00 pacer, but he was never out of sight. I was able to catch up with him on the downhill… I’ve discovered that I absolutely love running down hill. It’s faster, but also a time to rest, and my legs get a nice stretch.
Before long I hit 10 miles. I remember thinking, “only three miles and one big-ass hill to go.” I felt really good, amazingly so! Then I hit the hill and it seemed to just go up and up and up. My goal at this point was not to walk, however my pace was so slow that a fast walker could have probably passed me. My average pace for that mile was 11:30.
Once I made it to the top I saw the 2:10 pacer really far ahead. Wondering if I could catch up once again, I let gravity give me a boost and took off down the hill. I was tired but it felt wonderful to be moving so much faster. I caught up with the pacer with about a half mile left…passed him, and finished in 2:09:09. This was 4 minute improvement over a much easier course two weeks earlier. Amazing!
My average pace per mile was 9:55. For comparison purposes, I ran a 5k June 3rd and the average pace for this race was 10:09. I’m incredibly happy with this improvement. I credit it to hard work combined with the excellent coaching/training plan/track workouts from the running club that I joined in May.