Friday, November 9, 2012

2012 Santa Clarita Half Marathon Race Report

This past Sunday, November 4, The Boyfriend and I competed in his first half marathon – my thirtieth.  He lived out in the Los Angeles area for ten years and his family is still calling it home.  So, we decided to venture out for a quick visit, have our first real vacation together, and participate in a race while we were out there.  We found that the Santa Clarita Half Marathon (HERE) was running right in Valencia, where his family lives – the race actually went right through their back yard.  We arrived late-Saturday afternoon – missing packet pick-up.  So, his stepmom was nice enough to venture out to her first race expo and pick up our nicely fit technical tees (different fit for men and women), swag bag and race posters.
This would be the seventeenth year running of the Santa Clarita Marathon and Half Marathon.  This was the first year they would be using the newly open trails along the San Francisquito Creek.  Paved miles of path through the valley, surrounded by miles of white fencing and mountains.
With a two hour time difference – and then the time change with daylight savings ending – we were a little off with our sleep.  We went to bed early and woke up at 5:30 – with plans to head out by 6:15 for the 7:00 start.  We went out to the kitchen and had a huge “runner’s breakfast” waiting for us.  His step mom had laid everything out that would keep us carb-loaded and hydrated for the morning.  All of the fun notes – including on the clock, due to the time change that was making us nervous about waking up too early or too late – made us laugh and even more excited about the race.  We ate, got ready and headed down to the startline.  The Boyfriend had a taste of pre-race jitters, when he forgot his gum at home.  So, we stopped at a gas station quick – so that he could keep his mouth from getting dry – and his nerves at bay.
We started our 13.1 mile journey together - in a sea of marathoners, half marathoners and 5K runners.  It was crowded.  A nice-sized event – a few thousand.  A group of four young ladies sang the National Anthem beautifully and we were off.  We darted along the right side of the street, so that The Boyfriend’s dad could snap photos.   Trying to get to the startline, The Boyfriend suddenly tugged me towards the center of the group.  Huh??!!  I looked down and there were groups of balloons, corralling runners to the center of the road, across the start line … and the mat.  I totally would’ve missed it … and my chip wouldn’t have started.  Many, many, MANY runners must have missed this … because the results say that there were 383 full marathon participants; 1265 half marathoners.  Based on previous years’ attendance, there were surely more participants in both events.  And I know that the crowds were much more.
The plan:  to start together – to finish together.  This was his first half, but I knew that he has more speed than I.  We both hoped to finish around two hours. 

We headed up a large hill – some people were already walking.  I was confused.  We stayed together, along the route, darting people and maneuvering our way through the large clusters of runners and informal pace groups that were forming.  What goes up, must go down – and it did.  We headed down the hill and all I could see was mountains surrounding me.  Awesome – I was running near mountains!  First time ever.  The first mile was slow, due to the crowds.  The second mile seemed much faster and the third even quicker.  My right ankle was bugging me and I had to complain once.  The first few water stations only had water, so I didn’t stop. I sipped out of my handheld water bottle.  Later, I ended up taking lemon-lime (dislike!) Gatorade at each water station.  But it helped me.  Around mile four, my tummy started acting up.  I could tell I’ve gained some weight in the post-marathon (lack of) running  I’ve been doing.  And, that all of the mini candy bars I’ve been swiping since Halloween were slowing me down.  Not good.  I instantly regretted every bite I took.  Note to self. Note to self.  Note to self.

The Boyfriend was naturally running slightly in front of me.  His sweet-self would then look back and run back or slow down, to stay with me.  He had much more in the tank than I did.  I attempted to push myself, in order to keep up with him. We were moving at a decent clip as we zig-zagged oddly through a rental complex and then onto some path and then to a business park.  My tummy and my nose did not like the smell of pizza at a local bakery in the industrial park.  I was slowing down … but we were still keeping a great pace of 8:42 min/mile pace - at mile 5.5 we were at 47:46. 
Around mile 6, we headed out on the beautiful trail and were ahead of the 4:00 full marathon pacer.  I knew his family’s home was ahead and so would our spectators.  We stuck together as I expressed my gut ache and slowed down.  They snapped some photos and cheered us on.  Soon after 7.5 miles, the 4:00 pacer passed us, with their orange balloons floating above.  I saw them going, going, gone … and I couldn’t keep up.  I told him to go – go get that sub-2:00 half.  I didn’t want to be selfish and keep him from his goals.  That was completely unfair of me – even if I had dreams of crossing the finish line together – holding our hands, clasped in the air – smiles on our faces, as the clock read 1:59-and some change.  Not fair at all.  I’ve learned anything about my running journey – it’s that each journey is our own.  Mine is mine.  His is his.  And, if I’ve learned anything about relationships – it’s that compromise and support mean everything.  There is no room for selfishness.  He asked me about a half dozen times if I was sure and then went on – after those orange balloons.

Oddly, over the next mile I readjusted my attitude on the race, as well as my pace.  I slowed down.  I took some deep breaths.  I played “California Love” three times in a row – because, well, I was in California people!  I looked at the gorgeous California scenery, the mountains, the beautiful path I was running on.  And you know what??!!  I suddenly felt better.  And my paced increased and continued to increase.  At mile 9 I felt great as we headed in the opposite direction.  I saw the family on the bridge overhead as I got “intense” and wanted to finish strong – instead of slacking off like I usually do.  I was picking up lots of time and cranking the tunes.  I got some great comments on my yellow socks and was actually starting to pass people – instead of them passing me.  Many runners were walking as it was really warm (in the 90’s that afternoon). 
With a half mile to go, I saw a young gal walking and holding her sides.  I tapped her on the shoulder and said “Come on – we’ll finish together”.  And she started running again as we took a turn and crossed the bridge.  “Over the river and through the woods to the finish line, right?”, she said.  I asked her where she was from and she said far away … doubt she was as far as me!! I told her I was from Wisconsin and she nodded – I don’t think she had any clue where that was!  She told me this was her fifth half marathon and we were going to finish this together.  We saw the crowd at the finish line and I encouraged her to pick up the pace and that you should always finish with a smile on your face.  We turned the corner and raced to the finish line with smiles on our faces.  We crossed the finish line in 2:02:13 – a 9:20 pace.  Not my best – but not my worst.  We finished with one high five, and then another.
The Boyfriend ended up finishing in 1:56:45.  I can only imagine what he had done, if he hadn’t stuck with me the first 7.5 miles!  He came in 270/655 in his age group and 364/1265 overall.  And, he says he never hit a wall or struggled.  First half marathon.  Amazing.
I ended up not finishing too bad myself.  Love our matching medals.

494 / 1265 Overall
151 / 610 Females
31 / 91 Age Group (30-34F)


  1. Well done both of you that is fantastic. I love the words "each journey is our own" totally agree :-)

  2. Congrats on a great race - I'd love to run near the mountains! Wish you could have been in Lake Mills, but we'll make up for it in Kenosha! :)

  3. Congrat to you both. And for the realization that being together means sometimes letting each other go. We each have our own race.

  4. congrats
    great way to let each of you experience your own journey to the finish,and way to encourage the woman you crossed the line with
    you rock

  5. Congratulations to you both on such a great race! And I just want to add that you take the most amazing race photos! I always look ill in mine!! :)

  6. Great job! My husband runs with me and I always wonder how he'd do if I didn't pull him back! I think I should let him fly next year!

  7. You look fabulous in those pictures! I had the same thought about halloween candy in my race today. I should have laid off the kit kats.:(