Santa Barbara Wine Half

-edited to add photos at the end of the post-

Oh my goodness, we had so much fun! Before I get to all that though a few thank you’s. Dad for gifting me the registration, Mark/Jan and Gentry for making sure Sky was taken care of while I was gone for 4 days!, Michelle for committing to going with me, Bob for supporting her in training and being single Dad for 4 days, Kim (and boys) for sharing your living space with us, and making us feel welcome, and Amy for hosting the gang on the farm while Michelle and I were running our hearts out!

It was funny to me, but a blessing really, that it was overcast and cool the whole time we were in Santa Barbara, but it was sunny and 80 back home. Thankfully we like running in cool weather so it worked out perfectly.

The race itself, and Destination Races in general were pretty great. The second half of the race is where all the hills are, and the majority of the elevation gain is between miles 6 and 7. Like, almost all the elevation gain is on crazy steep mile long hill right at mile 6. That sucked, but it is what it is. We got it done and we finished, and Michelle got a big PR out of it, so that’s awesome! I had trouble with the heat towards the end (it cleared up and the sun came out), and tummy trouble after accidentally taking in nuun instead of water. But, I stuck with it and got my 2nd best half time, so I’m happy with that.

Finisher medal and commemorative bottle of wine, that we had to drink before flying home since you can’t carry one wine. BTW – that medal caused security issues at the airport. It was mildly amusing.
I don’t have any before, during, or after pics of us because I didn’t run with my phone. Michelle took some, but blogger doesn’t like the download of them, so unless you want to follow her on IG or twitter you won’t get to see them.
The race actually isn’t anywhere near Santa Barbara. It’s up in farm country near Solvang, a Bavarian town in the Santa Ynez Valley. Beautiful vineyards, orchards, and farms from start to finish. It made for scenic running, and plenty of distraction which was nice. I can’t speak highly enough of Destination Races and how spoiled they made us feel.
While this was the most expensive race I’ve ever done, it’s easy to see what that money gets you. I could get used to running like that! The best part was the emails they sent letting you know you started the race, your 6 mile split, and your finish time. It was really nice to have an instant email with our finishing time rather than having to wait to look it up later. The expo, shuttle to the start, finish line/wine tasting area were all well done, well marked, and so much fun. From start to finish we felt pampered and like every penny had been well spent.
Enjoying our celebratory glass of wine in the wine garden.


 For once it’s a race shirt that fits, and I love the grape cluster bib!
While I have a few things to work on/figure out before running any more half’s I’m already planning on saving my money and registering for the Woodinville Wine Half Sep 2016. I’d love to run with Destination Races again, and it’s only a few hours away rather than a few states away. 🙂
The rest of our time was spent visiting with Kim, and enjoying Santa Barbara.
 Enjoying a walk on the beach that evening. 
Easily the most active I’ve been post half and you know, I think it works. The leg and knee pain was gone fairly quickly, and while my legs were still tired, they were not all that sore.
 Sweet little flower growing up through the cracks.
 Not a bad way to enjoy our last lunch in Cali. Kim was able to get away from work for a bit for a walk on the beach before we flew out.


 I now have dreams of stepping out my back door and picking fresh lemons off my lemon tree. So fresh.


 Mimosas the day after, and the best pulled pork nachos I’ve ever had, not to mention the prices were similar to Tacoma, and that’s saying something if you know how pricey SB is!. Santa Barbara Brewing Company

I was so hungry after this race. I usually am after every race, but I was ready to eat full meals every 30 to 45 minutes this time around. And, the funny thing is my taste buds were a mess. None of the wine at the wine tasting was good, I dumped it all, and believe me when I say I don’t dump wine. We went to an Irish pub for lunch after and I ordered a Ruben sandwich, my all time favorite, and I hardly ate any of it because it didn’t taste good. The beer was good, and oddly enough the asparagus pasta Kim made us…I don’t really care for asparagus or tomatoes, this pasta had both, and I LOVED it! I mean, I could have eaten it all by myself! It was sort of crazy really. I don’t crave sweets either, but we felt the need to go get cake at a GF/Vegan bakery we found. It was perfect.

 Raspberry lemon and Berry patch cake…amazing! Lilac Patisserie
Legs up and enjoying 805 Blonde at Fitzpatricks Irish Tavern in Solvang. At this point we’d been up since 4 am (7 hours) and finished the half…I was ready to fall asleep.
The pillow cocoon Michelle built. Easily the best sleep I’ve had with all the pillows and comfy bed, plus no munchkin waking me up.
Racing aside, it was refreshing to get away for a few days. Enjoy my own schedule and whims, and have time to spend with Kim without the distraction of being Mommy. Everyone needs a reset and this was exactly that. I came home feeling refreshed, rested, and ready to get back to “real” life.
Next up Rainier 2 Ruston Relay in a few weeks. Another bucket list race!

Got the photos to work…thank you Michelle for sharing!

 Start Line.
 Finish line!
Yummy asparagus pasta and wine…I think I had 4 bowls of it!


Race For A Soldier Re-Cap

My mind is a little bit all over the place with this race…lot’s of emotions and excitement about finishing and reaching my goal!

The facts:
-Well organized.
-Supports an awesome cause (PTSD treatment for soldiers).
-Challenging yet fun course.
-Plenty of bathrooms.
-While it didn’t start on time it wasn’t their fault…it was mother nature.  There was a downed big shrub/tree thing on the course that had to be cleared away.
-We totally got lucky with the weather, only a little bit of rain and only a few windy spots.  Was ready for it to be so much worse!
-Amazing community support with spectators and groups cheering you along the majority of the route.
-Parking is no fun, but that is the case with most races around here.
-Early bird registration is a reasonable price, even though I don’t remember what it was I remember feeling good about it.
-Free pacers.
-Love the heavy dog tag medal.

-This is a run every year race for me.  While it’s a really challenging course with one killer hill, and lot’s of other not so fun ones thrown in, the community support and beauty of running in Gig Harbor make it totally worth it!

Staying warm with throw-away shirt and blanket before the start.  Yes I know I look like a hobo.
It’s emotional because running a 1/2 is a still a big deal for me (actually running any race is a big deal still!).  It takes so much effort and determination to train, run the race, and finish that it feels like a major accomplishment.  Finishing this race was a double accomplishment because not only was I crossing the race finish line, but I was crossing the finish line of my running goal for the year…Half Fanatics!  
It’s official…registration fee paid and the sticker is on my car to prove it!  
The biggest reason I was near tears multiple times though is because I got to run all three races (and almost all the training runs) with Michelle!  Not very many people would go from “I’m going to run my first half and see if I like it or not” to “I’ll run 3 half marathons with my friend and be a Half Fanatic with her” at the drop of a hat!  Who does that?!  Michelle that’s who! 
It’s still amazing to me that we only started running a few years ago, and back then we only wanted to do 5K’s.  Running more than 3 miles was such a big deal that we would leave her car at one end of our training route and mine at the other, so we wouldn’t have to run an extra half mile or mile to get back to the car once we hit our 3 miles.  Now, we run 1/2 marathons!!!
The best part about yesterdays race was we went into it relaxed with the only goal being to finish.  Time/pace was a non-factor.  This last race was primarily about qualifying for Half Fanatics, and not about the race itself.  Totally took all the pressure off.  It was really nice to have fun, enjoy the course and the support, and accomplish a goal with my best friend.   
Thank you Michelle for being such an awesome friend and running partner.  2013 will forever be our summer of running!   
A big shout out to Elya who ran 30+ weeks pregnant!  Girl you inspire me.  I’m so proud of you pushing yourself to get through this one!  Now, rest and relax…Whidbey Island 1/2 training starts before you know it!  🙂
To keep this from getting too long and emotional Thank You to Mark, Bob, the kiddos, Dad, Fleet Feet Sports Tacoma, the Stroller Running Group, Yannick (was waiting near the finish with my 1/2 fanatic window sticker for my car…he is an awesome run supporter!), Amy, Jodi, Mom, Elya, Eleanor, Skinny Runner (perfect advice on how to handle the short time between race #1 and #2), everyone who posts on FB/Instagram/sends text messages/emails/calls offering support/encouragement/good luck.  It all helps get me to the start of each race and carries me through to the finish!   
Enjoying a rest day today…knees are a bit sore from all the hills…and then tomorrow starts a few 30 day challenges.  More on that tomorrow though.  🙂
P.S. This is so silly I probably shouldn’t even share it…I got to do two things I have always wanted to do at a race 1. Rip clothing off and toss it aside as I warmed up, and 2.  We got the silver space blanket things as we finished…totally made me feel like a “real” runner wrapped up in my silver blanket…because running a 1/2 isn’t real runner enough.  🙂

A Day In Seattle/See Jane Event Review

It’s a long post, but trying to get all the race talk out at once so I don’t bore the non-running readers.

Our Day In Seattle:
Race weekend started with us heading up to Seattle Saturday afternoon.  Our plan was to hit the expo, get keys and parking pass from the friends we were staying with, shop a little, and get manicures.  I hardly ever get to Seattle so to have half a day to enjoy the sun in the city was really nice.  Challenging not to walk too much the day before running a 1/2, but we had fun regardless.  

Big shout out to Ben and Alicia for letting us crash at their place.  Their apartment is a few blocks from the Seattle Center so we were able to walk there and take the monorail downtown to the expo and shopping.  Plus, the nail place we got our manicures was only a block away from the apartment.  It really was perfect! 

We hit the expo for all of about 5 minutes (more on that later) got our bags and bibs and then headed to Nordstrom and Lululemon to get ourselves something as a memento/reward for making it to race day.  I’m a big fan of getting something running related that will be useful or make running fun when it’s a “big deal” race.  

We hit the pre-anniversary sale at Nordstrom to check out the Zella gear.  Very similar to Lululemon but a little less $$, not much less though.  Neither one of us found anything so headed to Lululemon and we both scored new running skirts! 

Purple pleats with ice blue color blocks around the waist.  Just like the one I wore race day but different colors.  I say if it works then get it in every color possible!
Michelle got the same skirt in black, and she ended up wearing it the next day for the race.  Since she already test ran mine we figured it was safe to go ahead and race in it. 
After shopping we headed back towards “home” for our manicures and dinner at the Rock.  I’m going to be honest it was so hard not ordering beer with that dinner.  After being alcohol free for a week I was really craving an ice cold beer on a hot day.  But we were good and stuck to our water with Nuun added to it. 
After that we went back to the apartment (Ben and Alicia funnily enough were at a wedding in Lakewood that evening) watched the Sounders game and enjoyed the view of the space needle at sunset from their living room window.  The couches were super comfortable as well, so we both slept pretty great! 
Event Review:
The Good 
 -Registration – I don’t remember what opening day registration was, but I do remember thinking I got a steal of a deal.
-The course is for the most part really pretty.
-Swag bags were pretty ok.  Better than some not as good as others.  The tech shirt is nice because it’s a tech shirt, but the color is pretty bad.  I like the bag itself along with the words of strength printed on it…
Our favorite is “Blisters heal.  Muscles recover.  Friendships last a lifetime.”  Lots of great inspiration on the bag!
-Finishers medals are cool and I love that they are strung on shoe strings!
 -Champagne and chocolate at the finish line!  I’m not a fan of drinking right after crossing the finish line, not even a few hours after, but once I got my stomach settled the champagne was pretty great!  
-There were several sponsored runners from Oiselle, Power Bar, and a few others I don’t remember, and that was fun to see.  I haven’t run a race that had so many sponsored runners before.
-The See Jane Run gear at the expo and at the event was really nice.  Sine there isn’t a store near us it was nice to shop it in person.  But, the sizes were limited and every time I found something I liked they didn’t have it in a size that worked.  It seemed like they were clearing out old stock and getting rid of less popular sizes.
-The course volunteers were great.  There were actually very few, and not very noticeable, course markers, but they did a good job of stationing a volunteer at every point a runner could go astray.
-It was also nice that they had police on hand to manage the busy intersection crossings, not once did we have to slow down or stop because of cars.
The Bad
The expo was very small, and not at all as cool as I had heard it would be.  You could stand in one spot and turn in a small circle and see all there was to see.  Hence the heading to Lululemon to get running gear!
-The porta potty lines got really long, but I don’t think it’s possible to have enough bathrooms for a ladies only (for the most part…think I saw three guys running) event. 
-There is very little parking that isn’t located on the streets up some not so fun to walk up after having run a half hills.  But it was free so that was nice.
-The mile markers were off.  Mile marker 6 was at 5.54 and my GPS has the race at 12.89, not 13.1.  I read a few other posts from bloggers that ran and all their GPS watches showed it being short and that the mile markers were off.  Not only that, some of the markers were double marked for the 1/2 and the 5K.  One said 2 or 4 miles and honestly with them being as off as they were it was sort of hard to tell where you were at.  I trust my watch, but I trust race organizers more so was thrown off by that until I heard others around us talking about it. 
-The aid stations seemed oddly placed as well.  Another reason the 2 or 4 miles on the mile marker sign was confusing.  The first aid station was super early, under 2 miles, and the 2nd one was only a mile past that I think…that is not normal for a 1/2 marathon!  The issue was the first two were on the first out and back stretch (I think they intended people to hit the first aid station on the way back) but it was also part of the 5K course, so the 2 stations were servicing two different groups of runners.  Because it was out and back you had people running at it from both directions and it just got confusing and messy.  As for the rest of the stations they always seemed to be about .5 miles past when we needed them. 
-The route was pretty when you were right next to the lake, but a lot of it was open with no shade, and running through parking lots and over busy bridges.
-The out and back sections were narrow paths, and open to the public.  There were non registered runners with dogs, bikes galore and it was really hard to get around anyone.  Every time we needed to get around someone there would be an oncoming runner headed at us.  I feel like if they are going to make narrow stretches out and back then it needs to be closed to the public period.  Especially for an event that lends itself to groups of girl friends running together.  You get a group of 3 to 5 people shoulder to shoulder and that narrow out and back path was not a lot of fun to navigate.
-Wave enforcement, I know this is a hard one, but if the race course is going to be as narrow as it was then you can’t have walkers starting in the 9-11 minute wave.  Not only that the 9-11 minute wave had enough people in it that it should have been broken up.  Way too many people onto the course at once and we had a fun time getting around the walkers that decided to start in that wave.  It’s one thing to end up having to walk, but starting out walking from the start line…no way you should be in the 9-11 minute pace wave!  
-Running past the farmers market/festival thing on the last out and back was awful.  While I know the food is amazing the smell of it at the end of a race is just not good.  I got to me, and Michelle, who was having a strong day, said it got to her as well. 
-Start time…started at 8 and honestly I think a 7 am start would be better.  Especially for a summer race, and we would maybe be off the course before the market/festival started, so no food smells to run through.   
I don’t know if I would do this one again.  While I loved our day in Seattle and Ben and Alicia made it super easy for us I don’t like “traveling” for a race.  It throws my stomach off and I just don’t get to do what I need to GI wise to be ready.  I for sure wouldn’t do it back to back years.  It may be fun to do again if we skip a year or two, especially if the course doesn’t change. 
Overall, even though it was a hard one for me, and I have a fair list of complaints, I had fun.  I enjoyed the girl power that See Jane promotes and I loved the “we are strong” atmosphere of the race.  This event will always hold a special place in my heart because it was Michelle’s first half.  It is pretty flat and I think on a cooler day it would be much more enjoyable! 
Back to regularly scheduled posting tomorrow…that means Sky pics!     


Post Race Report

I will do a much better post tomorrow with pictures and everything…right now I’m just too darn tired.

We finished, two minutes faster than the goal Michelle had in her head, and fast enough for me to have a new half PR. 

Crossed the finish line in 2:18 and I’m assuming change.  That was my gps watch time, still waiting for official times to be posted.

It was fun.  It was hot.  It was hard, really hard, but we did it. 

More tomorrow.