The first time I ran the SB Wine Country half marathon there were no mile markers. This time there were markers but they did not appear to be accurately placed.
My GPS watch is not the most accurate device itself. It is often off by 1%, rarely by 2%, but it is not off by 8%. According to it the full course was 13.1 miles so I’m inclined to think it was fairly accurate today. However it claimed the first mile marker was at 1.08miles. It took me 7 minutes to get there when I was trying to run 6:35. That’s a huge error. If I had been equipped with nothing more than a stopwatch (as I was 5 years ago) I should have been dismayed to see myself running so slowly. I might have picked up the pace and ended up running a 6:10 or something similar on the next mile, which probably would have destroyed any chance of doing well.
I didn’t do well, but I can’t blame it on the first mile marker, much as I wish I could. I was looking at my GPS generated pace and knew I was running somewhere around 6:30 (not 7min).
The last few weeks have not gone well for me (from a running standpoint). My tempo runs have been about 5 secs/mile too slow, and I’ve been getting increasingly bad shin splints. This week the splintered shins were the worst they’ve been — it was even painful to walk yesterday. But this morning they were not bad; and although I felt a few slight twinges during the race they continued not to be bad (until I stopped. Now they are awful again). So I can’t blame my problems on them either.
Anyway, I got to Santa Ynez, cautiously optimistic. I found the race start had moved slightly from 5 years ago. Not too surprising. I lined up near the front, behind Drea and Ricky. Drea pointed out another woman in the front row (“She ran a 1:18!”, so that’s Drea’s competition sorted).
There’s a moment of silence for the Boston victims.
And we’re off. Round the corner and down the hill. We fly. I glance at my watch, but my eyes don’t focus, I think I’m running 6:40. Round another corner and up a hill. This time the watch says 5:45 pace. Whoops. I don’t need to be that excited. There are lots of small rolling hills at the beginning. I can’t always take as much advantage of the downhills as I’d like — some are so steep that I hang back a bit fearing what sprinting down would do to my shins…
Santa Ynez is in fog, but once we get to the outskirts (and that’s happens pretty quickly in Santa Ynez) the fog fades, vanishes and we are in full sun. As we are for the rest of the race. (The picture here, indeed all the pictures in this post were taken on earlier visits)
At about half a mile things have settled down a bit. The lead men are out of sight and I get to watch the lead women. Drea has been running right behind Maria, and continues to do so for a long as I can see them. A third woman is some distance back. I often count everyone ahead of me, but I can’t today the men are too fast and I’m too slow. But I can keep track of the women…
Around 3/4 of a mile another woman passes me, but she doesn’t last long and I pass her back after a bit.
I’m relieved to see the 1 mile mark when it shows up (Yay! it’s there! I guess the others will be too!). My watch claims my pace for the last mile was 6:30. I was supposed to go out at 6:40 to warm up; but 6:30 is a reasonable pace. If I’m optimistic I’m shooting for that pace as the average for the race as a whole. If I’m more realistic I’m expecting 6:35.
We come to the first water station, and I have a bad hand-off and most of the water ends up on my shirt rather than inside me. Oh well.
We come up to mile 3 (where was mile 2?). My watch says I’m doing 6:34s. Okay that’s basically what I was expecting. No problems.
We’re now on a long slow uphill grind to Los Olivos (with the occasionally small hill thrown in to slow us down). At mile 4 there’s another water stand (I wish they wouldn’t do that. I can’t click my watch if I’m reaching for water, so I miss the split). This time I get a couple of sips.
At mile 5 I see I’ve slowed to a 6:40 pace. That’s not so good, but I console myself with the fact that it’s uphill. There’s a long downhill section ahead to counterbalance it.
Five years ago the edge of a field here was covered with California Poppies, but this year the edge has been plowed and there’s nothing but a few foxgloves. Which aren’t native.
I was expecting trouble from my shins, but it’s my quads which are grumbling. And I’m not halfway done yet.
I pass through Los Olivos. I don’t see it. I see the guy in front. I see the chip mat. Then a flat section.
And then the hill. Here we climb about 200 feet in half a mile. I slow. Considerably. No one passes me (they slowed too, good). I’m disappointed to see that someone has mown the verge here, and the wild flowers which were blooming three weeks ago are gone. But there are some magpies, don’t often see magpies. I know this hill, but even so I keep hoping the next bend will reveal the end. Finally it does end. The top is as close as we’ll get to a halfway point too. The view is spectacular (or it would be if I were looking at something other than the guy ahead).
There’s a vinyard to my left and a winery at the bottom of the hill to the right. The last time I was up here there was a buzzard sitting on a fence post with wings extended as if waiting for a runner to collapse.
I ran 7:30s going up the hill. Not unexpected, but not good either, and then did a 6 minute pace briefly on the downhill (not enough to cancel out the uphill though).
This is the last time I see the number 3 woman, she’s way down at the bottom of the hill when I crest the top.
The next two miles are about 6:32. That’s OK, but I’d hoped to go faster. This is a nice downhill stretch. Two people pass me.
There is a bison by the side of the road (luckily not in the road).
Just running through the fields
Then things start to get bad. The next mile (mile 10) is at a 6:52 pace and it’s very much a downhill mile. More people pass me. Dan Rudd passes me. The next mile, also downhill, is even worse 6:55. The #4 woman passes me. (5 years ago the #2 woman passed me about here).
But the chick lupines are still in bloom!
Then there comes the next big hill. Even though half the mile is downhill, I run it at a 7:42 pace. The final mile at a 7:03. The elevation profile shows it is mostly downhill with a small hill right at the end.
I do manage to pick up the pace slightly for the last tenth of a mile. My watch says I sprinted to the finish at a 5:34 pace for that last bit. I don’t believe it, but I do think I sped up. I was probably inspired by the clock, which I saw ticking down to 1:30:00. I would have felt terribly ashamed to be over 1:30, so I tried really hard, and finished with 1:29:51.
Which is pretty bad.
I do get a bottle of wine
Trying to figure out what went wrong… I don’t think it was the shins. I simply payed no attention to the mile splits, choosing to go by the mile paces shown on the watch; so it wasn’t mismeasured miles. Other people complained about the temperature, but I didn’t notice it. What I did notice was that my mouth was dry and gummy. I think I dehydrated again. And, yeah, my heart rate reflects that. It was pretty constant at about 89% effort from mile 3 to 10, and then it started to climb, reaching 95% for the final sprint.
Heart rate (as a percentage of max), Speed and Elevation all on one graph. Speed hovers around 9mph for most of the race, heart rate just below 90%. Both react to elevation changes for the first 10 miles or so.