Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Surfer's Path Marathon Race Recap


Honestly, I was thinking I could just write those four little words and be done with the post (seeing as those are probably the MOST IMPORTANT four words of this post), but I know I would regret not recapping the weekend and race (especially when I look back in a few weeks/ months/ years and have forgotten all about the details of it - THANKS A LOT Fibro Fog). So instead of a 4 word post {WARNING} I am sure it will turn into a SUPER LONG one...

The weekend started Thursday evening. We decided to start our journey north (Santa Cruz is about 430 miles north of us and takes about 7 hours to drive - depending on traffic and time of day) seeing as the fires and crazy temperatures were making it pretty scary around us. We drove about 4 hours Thursday night and stopped at a Motel 6 for the night (I think we were near Coalinga, CA). We woke up Friday morning and drove the last 3 hours of the way (stopping at a gas station for about a half an hour so that Ryan could try to get Coachella tickets for next year).

Ford Focus SELFIE!

When we got to our hotel, we were told we would have to come back in an hour or so (since our room wasn't ready), so we went to grab some lunch. We hit up Saturn Cafe (a DELICIOUS vegetarian restaurant, which has vegan and gluten free options as well). If you ever have the chance to go to one of their restaurants (they have one in Santa Cruz and one in Berkeley) - DO IT!

I got the avocado and cheese sandwich, but EVERYTHING looked BOMB!

Once we finished chowing down on our scrum-didly-umptious foods we went back to the hotel and checked in. We hung out in the hotel for a little bit and then went downtown to walk around a bit and check out some shops. Ryan grabbed a couple records from the music shop and we also picked up a car charger for our phones. We got some lack luster Mexican food (if you could even call it that) for dinner and then made the AMAZING decision to grab some ice cream from The Penny Ice Creamery (I got the recommendation from a Twitter friend). It was AMAZE-BALLS!

Oh yeah, we also went down to the beach for the "sunset" before our dessert. Silly me, I figured that since the sun sets in the West and since we were on the coast I assumed we would see the sunset over the water. Well, with the way Santa Cruz sits, that is NOT the case. We still were able to take a couple pictures and enjoy the beauty around us.

Saturday morning came and Ryan and I went for a easy 2 mile shake out run (and then finished with our free continental breakfast of course).

After taking our showers and getting ready we headed over to Capitola to pick up my bib. I wouldn't necessarily call it an "expo", it was more of a bib pick-up with a couple tents for vendors. I grabbed my bib (lucky number 216), tech tee (I think it is SUPER ugly), and were on our way back to the hotel within a matter of maybe 15 minutes.

I'm not in focus, but at least you can see the banner a little better. 

The reason I originally signed up for this race (since I normally don't drive 7 hours for them) was because a friend of Ryan's that he grew up with, Meg, was planning on running it and asked me to do it as well. We don't see each other nearly enough (especially since she is now living in California - up in Sacramento), so we made sure to spend lots of time together. They got into Santa Cruz Saturday afternoon, so after Ryan grabbed a coffee from Verve (where his best bud Kevin used to work as a designer), we went down to the Boardwalk to hang out and catch up. We watched a funny Stomp-ish type drum line perform for a bit and then we walked the pier to grab some lunch. Of course we had to stop to see the sea lions first though - THEY ARE HUGE!

We went back to our hotel for a little bit to recharge and then met back up with Meg and Jeff to watch another concert on the beach - this time it was Y&T. We weren't really feeling it, so we decided to peace out and go grab some food before the big day. We hit up 99 Bottles for drinks and dinner, then it was back to the hotel to get out my stuff for the race and hit the hay.

It was nice that the race didn't start until 7am, which meant we could sleep in a bit. Our hotel was a little less than a mile from the start, so we decided to walk down there around 6am, giving me a little time for a port-o-potty break and grab a few pictures. On the way down I had half of a Honey Stinger Vanilla Waffle, but due to nerves I couldn't force myself to eat the whole thing.

This wasn't a huge race (from the results it looked like there were 416 people in the marathon, 1,356 people in the half marathon, and 78 in the half marathon relay - so 1,850 finishers in all), so the pre-race festivities were a recorded version of the National Anthem and someone counting down from 10 on a blow horn and then WE WERE OFF (maybe it was better that way, less time for me to get nervous, ha).

We started off my running next to the Boardwalk

Ryan cut through a side street and caught me again!

It was a little chilly so I had some RunnerBox gloves on for the first 3 or so miles

Yep, the hills started early and were OFTEN!

The course was HILLY. As you can see, there wasn't much flat ground... Although there weren't BIG hills, we were going UP and DOWN for the majority of the course.


But TALK ABOUT A BEAUTIFUL COURSE! I mean do you see how much coast line we covered?! ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!


Unfortunately, with all the hills, different terrain (at points we were running on two tracks in the woods, loose gravel, sand, large rocks, you name it - we had it) and LONG MILES my body didn't not feel 100%. I could tell by about mile 3 that my ankle was aching. It felt like the tendon running on the inside of my leg was rubbing back and forth over my ankle bone - NOT FUN. I think it might have been from the different slopes and angles that the muscles were just being pulled in ways and directions they weren't used to. The bummer thing was, the ache never went away. I was hoping that it would ease up once I got loose, but no such luck. You can train with ideal conditions all you want, but you never know what will get thrown at you on race day.

As you saw from the numbers of runners, the half marathon was definitely the most popular race of the three. All three races started at the same time. They all ran the same course until mile 13 when the half marathoners and relay racers (which had their hand off about half way through the half marathon course in Capitola where we turned around) went towards the finish and the full marathoners continued on. The half marathon course was well manned. Lots of volunteers, police officers, cones, etc to line the course and keep everyone else off (or at least in a safe area on the course). Once the half marathoners turned off towards the finish, the rest of the marathon course was... um... well... open. It was more like going out for a Sunday morning run in Santa Cruz. The course wasn't closed - we were dodging bicycles, strollers, other runners, and even segways. Once we got down to UC Santa Cruz's campus, we were actually running trails for the majority of the time. Don't get me wrong, it was beautiful, and I wasn't expecting to see horses, lambs, sheep, goats, and chickens on the course, but I guess I just wasn't prepared. It was like the first half of the race was a hilly road race and the second half was a hilly trail race.

Selfie on the trails

Horse photobomb! And yes, you had to watch your step for horse poop all along the trails... 

I'm telling you, it was gorgeous, but TOUGH!

The coastline we ran along

I took two walk breaks (one around mile 20 and one around mile 22 - both for probably 30-60 seconds a piece), but knew if I stopped again I probably wouldn't be able to start up, so kept on trucking (even if my running felt sluggish at points). I used Clif Shot Bloks for fuel along the course (Strawberry flavor) - 3 Bloks at mile 6, 3 Bloks at mile 12, 2 Bloks at mile 18, and another 2 Bloks at mile 24. Around mile 16 there was a water station that had bananas, so I grabbed a small piece of one (especially since Megan from Running Toward The Prize told me the day before the potassium would help and even looked on the race information to see they were handing them out). Other than that I just used the water from my Nathan Performance Intensity Race Vest every mile or so (at the beginning of the race it was probably closer to every 1.5 miles and at the end when it was warming up quickly it was probably closer to every .5 mile).

I had a couple people ask me why I decided on capris instead of shorts, especially ones that I originally bought for an 80s run. Well first, they are BANGING! And I got TONS of compliments on them. "Hot pants for a hot mama" "Love the leggings" "Those pants are AWESOME-SAUCE" (And let me tell you, after running hills for 20+ miles, a comment like that really helps push you along!) But also because it helped Ryan pick me out of the crowd :)

I have been told - don't have a goal time in mind for your first marathon. You want to be able to enjoy the experience and not be disappointed. I mean first off - YOU ARE RUNNING 26.2 MILES, THAT IS A FEAT IN ITSELF and secondly - it is your first time, it is an automatic PR (personal record). I had an idea in my head of what I would have loved to be at (slightly under 4 hours, since I was trying to train for a 9 minute pace) and what I thought realistically I should have run at (closer to 4:22, which would have me at 10 minute miles) - and actually landed in-between them at 4:13.

My watch had the course a little short, but I will still count it :)

My first 13.1 miles took me 2:03, which means the second half was 2:10. I would have LOVED to say I got faster as the race went on, but with the temperatures rising, the hills getting a little steeper, and my body wearing down, that was NOT in the cards for me.

Even still, can you believe that I came in 18th (out of 64) in my division [F20-29]?! And that I came in 152nd (out of 419) overall?!


Ryan waited around mile 25.75 for me and even ran a ways with me towards the finish line. He took a little video (sorry if it feels like Blair Witch, he had to run next to me, seeing as I wasn't stopping... I wanted to cross that finish line as quickly as possible) .


The finish was on the beach (how cruel to make us run through MORE sand - but thankfully at least it was a bit of a downhill finish). OF COURSE I had to run in with my hands up, celebrating my HUGE accomplishment! I am surprised I didn't have tears streaming down my face! {PS Rather than having to scroll through the 11 pictures of me crossing the finish line, Ry made an animated gif from them :)}

Carlee_Finishing_26_2 on Make A Gif

Earlier in the week, one of my Twitter friends had posted about her weekend plans falling through and possibly running the half marathon. She was sweet enough to wait around for me to finish the full AND EVEN MADE ME A SIGN! I was BEYOND excited to see Elizabeth standing at the finish line for me - AMAZING! {Isn't is great when your "digital friends" become friends IRL?!}

You can't tell in the picture, but the sign is made of Superman tape. She said she tried to find Batman (since that is the outfit I am wearing in my Twitter picture), but she couldn't find any. HOW AMAZING IS THIS?! 

I made sure Ryan took a couple pictures of me (of course my parents were dying to get the news back in Michigan, so we needed proof I DID IT :)), and somehow I even had the energy to jump in the air...

We waited for a bit and watched Meg finish. She did AMAZING! She even knocked over 20 minutes off her previous marathon time!

The ladies! 
Tastes like OLYMPIC GOLD!

Me and my #1 cheerleader (he even sent me texts through the race to pump me up)

After a few pictures and grabbing our goodie bags (which I LOVED that they were in PAPER bags, rather than all the wasteful plastic bags you normally get) it was time to hit the road back to SoCal. (By the way, I would NOT recommend sitting in a car for 7+ hours after running your first marathon, but thankfully we stopped every 1.5-2 hours so I could stretch, use the potty, and get some food.)

So, the big question, will I do another one? Well, I know for sure I will do at least one, since the WDW Marathon is part of the Dopey Challenge I will be participating in this January, but I am not sure when I will put another full on my calendar after that. This distance is NOT one to take lightly. The training is grueling, the miles are long, and the commitment is intense, but I ran away a MARATHONER, and that is something NO ONE will ever be able to take away from me!


Unknown said...

WAY TO GO MARATHONER! It's so tough but worth that medal at the end! Your pants are SO CUTE!!

EB said...

Awesome job Carlee!!! Congrats on your first Marathon! :) Your husband is such a rock star and MVP supporter!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your first marathon!! Great race recap and job! You looked great too! :)

Juliana said...

Congrats!! Completing your first marathon is such a great feeling. and like you my second marathon will be during Dopey! hopefully I'll see you there!

Kimberley@Black Dog Runs the World said...

Total awesomeness Carlee! I hope I'm smiling like that when I finish my first! :)

Anonymous said...


Rick Stiles said...

What a fantastic accomplishment, and a fantastic blog post! Hard course or not, you were flying! The marathon in January probably won't be a PR because the course is crowed. But with the time you just ran, you'll be in one of the earlier corrals so maybe it won't be so bad. The WDW course is very flat, but there are occasional short steep dips and climbs, and an on ramp that's long.

Congrats on your MARATHON! You KILLED it!

Jess said...

GOOD JOB!! I agree - I didn't want to put another marathon on the calendar either and still don't want to in the near future!! :)

Kristin said...

Way to go!!!! Totally inspiring!

Unknown said...

woowwwwww congratulations!!!! great time!!!!! I really like this blog and the way you tell us your experience. See you on WDW!!!!!

Jesica @rUnladylike said...

Congrats on being a marathoner!!! What a great race you had for your first and your recap and all the pictures are awesome. I love the pants too :) Enjoy your race high! Awesome job!!! xoxo