It felt strange to carry on with our film screening despite all the craziness with the fire, but the showing was sponsored by my friends at Destination Races, so the decision was made to go through with it. Before the screening we had a booth at the mini expo - my roommate was none other the famed Bart Yasso! Pretty cool.
We screened "Running for my Father" to an audience of 40-50 people, mostly locals (some of who had to leave right after the film, getting calls to evacuate!) It was a bittersweet night as I think most of out minds were on the flames. I probably did my crappiest Q&A yet (!) On our way back home we realized the flames had really erupted. Scary times. One of our friends house had already burned, several more in danger. Luckily my mom's house was pretty far from this:
Friday morning we went up to the expo in Buellton, which is about 25 miles North from Santa Barbara - far from the flames. I was pleased (and shocked) that the air quality in the Santa Ynez Valley was pristine. No ash to be seen. It looked like the race might actually NOT be cancelled! Picked up the packet and headed back to SB where I met Billy (larunner - duh!) his girl Sara and my girl Julia who drove up with them.
We took a walk at my favorite place in SB, Ellwood and then headed out to dinner at the famous E-Bar. Soon we were all packed up and ready to go to bed.
And FINALLY...race day. 5:30 AM wakeup call. We were out the door by 6. I didn't know what to expect. The fire was going better, but if there was ash in the air my plan was to DNF. No sense in ruining my lungs. I was hoping to stick to my plan as much as I could: 8:40 miles 1-7, take it slow up the climb near mile 7, then book it in. Definitely wanted to break 2, hoping for a sub 1:55 and a sub 1:50 would be A+ for me.
After the walk to the start we were off.
First off, Billy is freaking FAST. Don't let him tell you otherwise. He's got serious skillz. I remember hearing him say "I'll take the first mile as a warm up." He was out of sight by the 100 meter mark...Sheesh.
The first miles were really beautiful. I was trying to find my groove and remember settling in somewhere around mile 2. By mile 5 I remember thinking...hmmm...8:30-40 for another 8 miles? I don't think so. I tried to convince myself the race would be over by the big climb near mile 7. That kept me going.
The air quality seemed great, and it definitely wasn't as hot as I anticipated. (Yes, this is my debut in a sleeveless, or don't we call them "singlets?" We headed through the town of Los Olivos at around mile 5 and it was probably my favorite part - tons of crowd support there. :)
Just around the corner was the biggest hill in the race. I remember last year when I paced Julia through her half we totally walked it. I was pretty hell bent on running. Man it went on awhile! But after the crest there was a great downhill - which, btw, normally I hate, but I had to make up the time. Miles 8-10 were a gradual downhill so I tried to pick it up as planned. By the 11 marker I knew I was in position to possibly break 1:50 if I could hold onto my faster kick.
I love the feeling when you're close - you can taste it. BUT...it's tough when a hill gets in the way. I'm not scared of hills after Big Sur...but I still loose time! And the horribly placed hill just before mile 12 was definitely NOT helping my cause. I somehow made it up - checking my watch at the mile marker - it read something like 1:41:0x. 9:00ish to do 1.1 should be ok, right?
I knew I still had a shot so I gave it all I possibly could. Finally to the 13 mile marker in the town of Solvang I went into an all out sprint. I knew it'd be close. I rounded the corner thinking the finish line would be right there. (?!) Uh...this was seeming a bit more like ".2" WTF?! I held on to my ridiculous sprint and made it across the line. The time on my Garmin, and my eventual chip time: 1:50:00.8
Damn. 8/10 of a second! Still a huge PR of almost 13 minutes, but those numbers hurt a bit. It's all good though. This race was nearly cancelled! And it's not like I "lost" the race by a fraction of a second - my goal was definitely reached in a big way. Billy, despite what he'll say in his blog is a total badass. 1:40:xx. I can't even fathom that! :)
(Julia and Henry in the car at the start of the race - she was there for the finish!)
m1 - 8:35 / HR 164
m2 - 8:39 / HR 168
m3 - 8:29 / HR 170
m4 - 8:35 / HR 174
m5 - 8:29 / HR 174
m6- 8:52 / HR 175
m7 - 9:13 / HR 178
m8 - 8:03 / HR 177
m9 - 7:44 / HR 177
m10 - 7:55 / HR 182
m11 - 7:53 / HR 187
m12 - 8:24 / HR 188
m13 - 7:40 / HR 193
.1 (should be .1 but Garmin says .23 and 6:11 pace?!) 1:24 / HR 200 (!)
Overall: 1:50:00 ; 8:19/mile ; HR=177
Age Group 41/110 Overall 271/1956