Way back in January I set some fitness goals including the Santa Barbara half marathon. I have been doggedly training with that goal in mind. In the meantime, I decided to try out a few running events (I’m reluctant to call them races, since that implies winners and losers…call me politically correct, but I feel like a “winner” if I finish the course and get a t-shirt–even if I come in last place! No losers here!)
So, I signed up for the recent Santa Barbara Chardonnay 5k.
I had some reservations about the event. Amongst my fears was that I would be trailing the pack and have the safety van on my tail the whole way.
SIDEBAR: Years ago, in Canada, I worked for a couple of Olympic level triathletes. They encouraged me to participate in a “fun” bike ride. I said, “I’m not much of a cyclist”…my bike looks very much like Mary Poppins’ bike, complete with basket and streamers on the handlebars. “Don’t be silly, this is a FUN event! It’ll be good for you!”…Reluctantly I signed up. I showed up on the Fun Morning, dismayed to find myself in the middle of a large group of people wearing tiny bike shorts, streamlined helmets, clicky bike shoes (I don’t even know what they’re really called), ultra light bikes, shaved legs, watch/timers, etc. Further, there was a starting line, with a large digital clock and official timers. I was beginning to realize that “fun” was a very relative term. Within seconds of the start gun (!), I was alone on the road…well, alone except for the safety van that was trailing me. I frantically waved him ahead…he shouted that he was legally obligated to follow the slowest cyclist for safety reasons. Fun! Pffff!
Before long, the peloton had more than lapped me…I found myself navigating forward through a throng of cycles coming straight at me. At this point, I ripped off my bib and declared that I was finished with this #%^$*
fun bike ride! The safety van driver appeared to be relieved as well!
The local newspaper published results from the FUN event, and beside my name was DNF (did not finish)…yeah, so much fun…
Back to the 5K…
With this back story in mind, I was worried…I also really wanted to run the whole distance–no walking.
Having no experience in organized running events, it was all unknown. But really, how bad could it be?
Race morning, Prepared Girl and I carpooled to the start area and met Debbie and Kathleen, our running mates. We milled around, stretched a little, and moved toward the start. A moving rendition of the national anthem…and then the 10 milers were off!
Our posse’s strategy was to start midpack. Suddenly we were under way. Prepared Girl (PG) and I each had our Runkeeper app open to check on distance and pace. I am pace-challenged. If I start daydreaming or listen to a great song, my pace increases (unsustainably)…the Runkeeper helps me to regulate. PG and I have a similar stamina and pace, so we ran the whole distance together.
It was a beautiful course–along the Santa Barbara waterfront. Nice and flat, breathtaking scenery, perfect temperature and a gentle sea breeze to keep us cool. Perfect, really.
Before we knew it we were approaching the finish line, nary a safety van in sight!
PG and I finished 7 & 8 in our age category (there were 19 runners in our group). Our pace was just over 10 minute miles. We were delighted with the event.
After some water and food, we returned the finish zone to cheer on the rest of the runners, including some impressive 10 milers who sprinted down the homestretch–my hair actually blew back from their speed! So inspiring, Chelsea and Sarinna!
And, because it’s California and it was the Chardonnay 5k, there was wine tasting to follow! A little weird to have wine at 9am, but it seemed the thing to do…
Debbie and Kathleen finished well too! Well done ladies!
To summarize, my first event was a success! I met my goals. I had fun. AND, I got a t-shirt! More importantly, looking back to the first few weeks of training where I struggled to run 30 seconds, I realize 5k is a huge achievement. It’s good to reflect on the successes along the way.
Next race is the Lakes of Love: a fundraiser for cancer research. PG and I will be attempting a 4miler without walking…I think we can do it!
How have your New Year’s Resolutions been going? Any successes to report?