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!!).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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…
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!).
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.
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.
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.