Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Brandie's Santa Cruz Half Marathon Report

Submitted by Brandie Garcia @BrandieCakez

Santa Cruz Half Marathon, Sunday April 7th, 2013

I’m woken up by my boyfriend Mike bright and early at 5 am and the first thing he does is kiss me and say “Happy Birthday-Eve,” roll over and cuddle him for “just FIVE MORE minutes,” like I begged of him until he pushed me out of bed and urged me to get a move on it. I hadn’t had a chance to get to packet pick up before the race, so we had to head to Santa Cruz early in order to make sure I had enough time to get my packet. Happy Birthday Eve to MEEEEE

It didn’t take very long to get out the door, but we did have to stop off before we got on high way 17, the freeway that connects the city I live in to the beaches, to get gas (I knew I had forgotten something). We enjoyed the drive there and talked about what we would do after, Mike told me that he would enjoy some breakfast and catch up on some reading while he waited for me. He also asked me about how long I thought that it would take me to cross the finish line and I replied “3 hours.” It’s a really good thing that I’m basically mapquest in a person (thanks to my mom who started teaching me directions at a very early age of “from the minute you could start talking,” because if I wasn’t such a beach bum and didn’t know my way around I probably wouldn’t have made it to packet pick up or the start of the race on time.

For those of you who have never been to the Beach Board Walk in Santa Cruz California, there is one road in and one road out, unless you are from the area and know how to navigate the traffic to get to and from all the surrounding beaches. Thankfully, I did! There was so much traffic and congestion of cars piling up trying to get into the Board Walk Area to find parking that we literally didn’t move for 20 minutes. Once we got over the bridge into the area, I was able to take side streets up to Cowells Beach and find parking right up front by the start and finish line! Mike and I enjoyed the walk over to packet pick up, and I started to get ready for the race. This would be my first race of the year running it completely alone, I knew absolutely no one there but I put on my #run3rd shirt and enjoyed what time left I had with my wonderful boyfriends company (how many guys would get up bright and early on his last weekend day off to make sure his girlfriend got to her run on time, and is willing to wait the 3 hours for her to finish? Not many, and I’m very lucky and blessed and THANKFUL above all else to have such an amazing person in my life).

I went into this race with my dedications in my pocket and one thought on my mind, to enjoy the scenery of the beach (because there are a LOT of people who have never even seen the beach before in their lives) and that once I crossed the finish line, I would take my shoes off and sink them right into the sand then walk over to my favorite restaurant on the beach and have lunch with Mike. He was such a good sport, he stayed by my side until a minute before the race was going to start and we listened to the announcers pump up all the runners for the race. One thing that I didn’t know and that was new to the Santa Cruz half was that they had official pacers running the entire race, and they were in 5-10 minute increments. We were advised to find the runner with the time we believed would be our closest timing and to stick with them through out the race.

Well, I decided I was going to start with the fastest runners, even though I’m not. But I was alone, and hadn’t really challenged myself in a while and thought “I might as well start off faster and try to stick with them as long as I could,” if I couldn’t keep pace, I would back track to the next pace runner. Before I knew it the start happened, and we were off running directly uphill. I picked a guy and stuck to him like glue! After we reached the top of the hill I loved the mist and breeze and smell of the ocean, and I was wishing that I could just jump in and go swim the 13.1 miles instead of run- I think I should have been a mermaid. The scenery and houses that we ran by were indescribable; I don’t think any words I could say would justify just how breathtakingly beautiful these homes and their views of the Pacific Ocean were. All the owners were out on their baloneys with their families and a fresh cup of coffee and breakfast waving and cheering us on as we went by!

I kept imaging what it would be like to live in any one of those houses, I contemplated asking them if I could come in and join them for breakfast and watch the runners go by, and before I knew it we were turning and running through a park that was covered in eucalyptus trees (which I’m deathly allergic too) so I sprinted past them just as fast as my legs would carry me. Then, we were on this old dirt path that looked like it was a horse trail, we turned another corner and I felt like I was in a completely different country. It looked like a little cottage that Snow White may have lived her whole life, it was the CUTEST community that I’ve ever seen and I just couldn’t get enough of it. The race wrapped around the entire village and went back the route we came in and literally before I knew it we were back at the beach and I was still keeping pace with the 1h 45 min pacer! I was shocked! I didn’t even realize until I saw a board with a number 10 on the side of the road and I asked the guy next to me what it was for… “That’s the mile marker for the 10th mile,” he replied and my jaw hit the floor.

I swear it felt like I had only ran about 3 maybe 4 miles! I couldn’t believe that I was almost done! I’m not sure what happened but on those last three miles everyone else seemed to have a second wind and I felt like everyone was flying by me. It felt as if I was running on a moving side walk you find at the air port, but I was going the wrong direction. I saw the 2 hour pacer pass me, and then the 210, then 215, then 220 all run by with a group of people. I thought for sure that I was on time for 3 hours. I ran down a hill and had to take a hard right to round a corner, all the sudden I heard the most familiar voice in the world to me yell out my name it was my dad! Growing up and playing soccer, it never failed that my dad never had to yell a thing all he had to do was speak a simple command like “cut, pass, turn, shoot,” and I would hear his voice. My father had a stroke this past November and is still on the mend, I did not expect him to come out to my race- let alone pick me out in a crowd of 10 thousand people but there he was!

Then I saw my mom! Quicker than that I crossed the finish line and I heard my sister scream out my
name! I looked up at the official race clock and it said 2 hours 20 minutes! Holy COW did I just do that? I for sure thought that I was falling behind in the stretch but come to find out that all those pacers were a head of schedule and running at 1:50! I was ecstatic! I not only PRd, but I achieved my goal of getting under three hours, and I killed it! I couldn’t believe that my family was there to see it, and I was greeted by them all instantly and Mike gave me the biggest hug and kiss. My sister had tears in her eyes and said that she was so inspired by me and so proud! That just made my day, I love having her look up to me. I got my medal, my shirt, and took my shoes off and squished my feet right into the sand.

The Santa Cruz half marathon is my best run to date (it’s amazing how much faster I go when there aren’t Disney Characters and landmarks to distract me). It was the most breath taking and beautiful runs and I feel very blessed to have been able to have been a part of it. I hope you ALL get a chance to run next to the beach up here in NorCal it’s definitely worth it! It was an amazing start to my birthday eve, I felt like I could run another 13.1 miles!

No comments:

Post a Comment