Half Mary Anniversary

It seems like just yesterday that I ran my first half marathon...Okay, well maybe it wasn't yesterday, but it was a year ago that I ran 13.1 miles in the Santa Cruz Half Marathon. The weather conditions were that of rain, high winds, and hail. It was my first mary, and I was naive. I stopped at every water stop, stood in line to use the restroom, walked the hills. I finished with a time of 2:35.

Honoring my one year anniversary, and my fourth half marathon, I decided to participate yet again in the 2011 Santa Cruz Half Marathon. Such a wonderful race to be a part of. With spectacular ocean views, a well organized event, what's not to love! As always, I was excited yet nervous. I always seem to get nervous before a big race. 

When I woke up at 4:30 the morning of the race something was slightly off....Something was very off!!! The downfall of being a chick - I had very bad cramps! I know this doesn't mean much to you men out there, but trust me when I say that it hurts! Time seemed to freeze as I quickly panicked. What do I do? Do I throw in the towel and not run the race? Take medicine? Everything after that moment was a blur, maybe because it was 4:30am and being such the morning person (insert sarcasm here) I went through my race morning routine. I made breakfast which consisted of coffee, cereal with soy milk and a hard boiled egg. I also made my EmergenC drink which consists of Smart water, EmergenC of course, and Chia seeds. I then got dressed, stretched my body out and was out the door to meet my friends for the drive over the 17 highway to Santa Cruz. Cramps and all! I chose not to take any medicine. I was just going to run and push through, and be the best that I could be for that moment.

And I am so glad I did. As we (my friend Shannon who was also running the half and my friend Keri who was running the 10k which was her first organized race) drove into Santa Cruz, I couldn't have asked for a better day! The sun was shining and a slight breeze. Not cold, and not too hot, but just right - No I am not rewriting the Goldilocks story...this blog post anyway! Waiting at the starting line, I had my jacket on, but took it off and stuffed it into my Natahan Hydration Intensity Pack. I knew I should have left it in the car. The jacket not the backpack that is. We had time to take a couple of pre race pictures as it was announced that 22 states were being represented. Amazing! Who would have thought that so many people would fly out to the little beach town that I have come to call my 2nd home. The time passed quickly and soon I was running through the start line beginning my journey.

Pre race - Shannon blue hat, Keri in the Black hat, and I w/ no hat

The line up for the Half

The first mile seemed to fly by so, that I questioned if it was accurate. Actually the first six miles went by with no effort at all. I felt proud that I was able to run strong despite the default of pain I was feeling. I kept a consistent pace of 8:19 which was my goal. My goal finishing time was a 1:49 and I was hopeful that I might accomplish this feat. Mile eight and nine however proved to test my will as I slowed down considerably. The pain was starting to get at me, and my body was getting tired. I decided I needed an up boost. Thanks to my fabulous Nathan Hydration Intensity Pack I was able to skip all the water stations which helped with my time. I still have to yet to master the eating and running task, so I slowed to a walk and grabbed for a gel.
Picture not so clear but the course started at Beach and Main streets and out up along the coast,  past Natural Bridges State Beach to Highway 1. Looped around Wilder Ranch State Park and returned back down the coast to the finish line at Cowell Beach.

A friend of mine Jon Vizena who is doing an awesome and inspiring Bike Across the States to raise awareness for the Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center told me about Hammer Gels. I had taken GU in previous races, but it always seemed to mess up my stomach. With Hammer Gels the flavor is light and digestible and holds no after crash from the natural sugars. I decided to try Hammer a week before the race and liked it so much despite not training with it, I used it for the half. I was amazed at how effective even taking partial of this gel could be. I immediately got my groove back and was back running at a quicker pace. On a random side note; The race was sponsored by Hammer Nutrition, yet they passed out Gu on the course...Still scratching my head on that one!

The rest of the race was a bit of a push, but I kept telling myself to just keep riding the wave and enjoy the journey. And I did. The Mile 10 marker sign was such a beautiful sight not to mention the crashing waves underneath the 70 degree sun. I Finished strong and happy. While I didn’t meet my goal time, I did finish at 1:54:55. And I am perfectly happy with that. I still PR’d over my three other half marathons. I ran in pain and still came in under two hours and for that I am pleased!

The race went by far too fast and I regret not taking more gorgeous pictures of the beautiful scenery. But then that would have slowed my time down so I really can’t complain.


Overall, I highly recommend the Santa Cruz Half Marathon. While the course does hold hills, they are certainly manageable. While I don’t like crowded races, the Santa Cruz Half held over 4,500 runners, yet it didn’t seem crowded at all!
I love this race and will definitely do it again next year. My only complaint about the Santa Cruz Half Marathon are the shirts. While the designs are always creative and artistic, the shirts are cotton and in men sizes. Perhaps a note to all organized races - If you want the shirts to be worn, please make them with quick drying material and in women sizes! Love the medal though and love the adventure - Cramps and all! 

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