12 weeks seemed to fly by, even though when I started it seemed like I had forever to train. The two days before the race were spent wandering around the central coast area trying to figure out what to do and where to eat.
We ended up at the beach in Avila and shopping there on the boardwalk. Then we walked around downtown SLO and did some more shopping. I found my husband and my dog some traveling presents and bought too many things to bring back in my bags, including some coffee cups from SLO and St. Louis and a large, breakable gift for a friend’s wedding coming up this fall. The eating was also very good, we went to two popular haunts on Saturday by starting with Breakfast at Apple Farm and then Lunch at Firestone. It’s been too long since I’ve had a Tri-Tip sandwich and it was sooooo good!! Sadly I only realized after I posted to my Snapchat story that autocorrect butchered my caption, so here is a sad, generic picture of it where you can only see bread and no cool geofilter =(.
But on to the race!!
It was hot. It was hilly. It was very brutal. I finished a lot slower than I wanted to, but considering everything I think I did the best I could have hoped for. A week of travel leading to very little sleep most nights and doing nothing but eating is probably not the best race prep. I also walked around in flip flops the day before until the point where I got a blister and got a pedicure that may have removed necessary callouses. All in all, I did everything that you aren’t supposed to do.
Race morning: Got up, had some coffee and a pretty good chocolate chip espresso scone that we found at whole foods. Not quite the same as the ones I had all through training, but pretty close. Sadly that place is now closed or I would have seriously bought one ahead of time and packed it around all week!! We got dropped off near the start line by my brother, so it was just a few minutes of a walk to the starting line, which we found with no problem and I headed to two porta-potties that only had one person in line, only to be told not to panic people by forming a line there and that I had to go to the 50 or so around the curve in the parking lot. So after standing in those lines forever we headed to the starting line a few minutes before the race was supposed to start. I had intended to try to follow the 2:30 pacer, but I could not find them in the crowd so I just went.
Miles 1-3: I held my pace right where I wanted to for the first three miles, which weren’t bad. It was mostly through town and I ran past all the stores and places that I had shopped at the day before, so that was cool. The first mile had a slight decline and the second had a slight incline, but they both felt flat and I was in the zone so I just plodded right through them. Mile 3 was cardiac hill, but I forced myself to keep going consistently up it, and then used the downhill on the other side to make up a little time.
Miles 4-6: Right about here I was coming off of cardiac hill and trying to make up some time, which worked ok because it was a little downhill. Then we turned the corner and headed down the out and back portion and it started to get hot. I started off in a long sleeve shirt, because it had been cold the previous two days and the morning was a little chilly. Also by a turn of events, I did not end up having sunscreen to put on. So I told myself I would make it to mile 8 with it on. That was way too ambitious, it started to get really warm really fast. Also not helping was the fact that the second aid station didn’t have any cups for the water, so I decided not to waterfall out of a pitcher and skipped it all together. Big mistake. I can always tell when I am dehydrated because my back starts to cramp up in certain spots, and for the first time while running, my back started to cramp up because I was that dehydrated. No bueno. At this point I also started with my walk breaks. The first stop was technically to take a picture of this curious guy:
Then on top of the water/heat issue was THE HILLS!!! There is a pretty decent hill right before the turnaround, and no shade to be found and the water is at the top so it was a struggle to get there. Once I did get to water I asked for two cups at every station from here on out, and the cramping went away so I think it helped a bit.
Miles 7-10: I made it to the turnaround before deciding to ditch the long sleeves, so I walked through the Clif shot arches and moved my bib to my shirt, then there was blissfully some downhills and it really was really pretty. Then by some stroke of luck I passed my mom as she was headed the other direction and I pawned off my shirt because she offered to take it, which made the rest of the run very comfortable, even with the other issues. I knew I was hot but I kept getting chills and felt a little light headed so I kept asking for extra water and by the time I finished I felt a lot better.
Miles 11-13.1: Honestly I only remember parts of these miles. I know we came back into town and headed along the train tracks. There was some shade and I tried to keep running as much as possible, but my feet felt like one big blister. I don’t know if the pedicure was a bad idea or if bringing my new shoes that I previously thought were broke in was the mistake. Either way, I was in pain. Then we had to go up and over the freeway, so we had to go up a loop-de-loop, over a shaky bridge and then down another loop-de-loop. My IT band (I think) felt tight on the inclines so I hobbled up, and then because of the hurting feet I hobbled back down again. From this point it was honestly not that far, but it felt like an eternity. There was one final steep climb before the descent to the finish line. It was short but felt super steep at the time. Then I forced myself to run the long, straight, descent to the finish that honestly felt like it would go forever and ever.
Finish: I crossed the finish line and got my cowbell (super cool, I LOVE it!!) and was very confused at what was happening. I could not find water, which was all I wanted. I made my way to the food tent and wandered around asking people where they were getting their water, but no one answered so I just called my brother and told him to pick me up. Luckily he had just parked about as close as you can park so I hobbled over there and got a ride back to shower quickly before having to check out of the hotel. Since I failed at getting a picture of my metal, here instead is a picture of my feet up recovering. Though the pedicure may have been my downfall, I was still glad I did it because of how pretty my toes were afterwards while I was staring at them like this.
You can’t see it but I was also wearing my cowbell at the time.
After my mom finished and showered we headed the 5 hours back up north to the hotel and to where my dad was waiting. He was able to leave the cows for one night and came down to see me before I left. Then we had dinner at Red Robin, which was good because I was ravenous and wanted endless fries. Then stayed ONE MORE night in a hotel before having a pretty decent breakfast of a waffle, bacon and a banana. Then I finally headed back home after what seemed like the longest trip away from home ever.
All in all it was a hard race, but a really fun weekend. Part of the reason I chose this race was just because I wanted to visit the area, so it was fun all around. I probably won’t do it next year because I am in a wedding in California about two weeks after the race, and that’s too long to stay out the whole time but too short to make two different trips. I did make a compromise with A that I would stop pestering him about going to Europe if he would take me to the central coast every year for my birthday or so, SO I’m really looking forward to going on those trips in the future!!