Sunday, August 28, 2011

Santa Rosa Marathon Race Report

My 4th Marathon is done. I ran it in Snoopy's home town, Santa Rosa CA, on Sunday in 4:06:18. I'd been hoping to go sub-4 but instead I'll take the 8 minute PR! Here is my recap of the weekend.

Santa Rosa is 460 miles from where I live. I decided to drive there instead of fly so I only worked half day on Friday to drive up there. I thought I might run into traffic when I got to Oakland so I was going to do the drive in two stages. But I didn't really have any traffic so I drove all the way to Santa Rosa on Friday. 8 hours on the road (two stops). That was a long, long drive.

I got a little lost looking for the hotel and arrived at 8:30. And when I went to check in they said they were having a problem with their key machine. But I eventually got into my room. I was pretty tired.

On Saturday morning, I went to the hotel's cafe for their pancake breakfast. This was probably the only carbo loading I did for the race and I think that came back to bite me on race-day. After that, I went to pick up my race packet. It was a very small expo so I didn't spend much time there at all. Just got my bib, chip, and shirt and then talked to Marshall Ullrich for a little bit (he signed his book for me!). I think I was out of there in 20 minutes. After that, I got a pedicure (green toes!), had a sandwich for lunch, and then went back to the hotel and made like a spud.

I was still tired on Saturday night and I fell asleep around 8:30. But then some party revelers returned to the room next door to me at 1 am and I couldn't go back to sleep. I tried just resting my eyes and I think I got about another 45 minutes of sleep because the alarm woke me at 4 am.

Race Morning
So, I woke up at 4 and had a banana, 2 mini bagels, and 20 oz of Gu Brew. I could tell I was nervous because my stomach was a little upset but it soon settled down. I got my food and drink ready for the race, packed a bag for after, and then got dressed. Then I listened to some Daft Punk and Austra while I studied the course map and waited til it was time to leave. At 5:30, I headed over to the race start which was only a few miles away. I drank another 12 ounces of water on the way.

When I got there, I went into the Church of One Tree (The church was built using just one redwood tree! It's pretty small but it still must have been a big tree!) where the 5K registration was to wait and use the restroom. After that, I downed a Gu and had one last gulp of water, did a short warm-up, and it was time to head to the start line! I got into the section for 9 min miles and waited. I wasn't nervous at the start and spent most of my time looking at the shoes everyone was wearing. I didn't see any barefoot runners or minimalist shoes which I thought was weird. I thought about that later during the marathon.

The Race
The gun went off at 7 sharp and we were off! The start was narrow to string us out because the river trail was pretty narrow so it was a little crowded. This kept me from going out too fast and my first mile was 9:01, a little faster than the 9:08 planned but not too much. I thought I did pretty good.

The course was a double out and back along the river and it was really pretty and quiet. There wasn't a lot of people along the route cheering but I kind of liked it that way. Once again, I was surprised by how many people ran with headphones so I didn't really get to talk to anyone. The miles passed pretty quickly. Just me and my thoughts and the scenery - river, trees, vineyards, fields with horses. Plenty to keep me occupied. :) The only thing I didn't like about it was that half of the course was dirt and a little uneven in places. I only tripped once though. Which is good for me. Anyway, part of the trail was gravely and I figured that might be why I didn't see any barefooters or VFFers running.

Soon enough, I was at the turnaround (6.5 miles). My Garmin was beeping a little earlier than the mile markers (about .10 of a mile) and I realized I wasn't doing a good job of running the tangents. Darn it. After that, I really tried to run them but the path was winding and it was hard. I didn't lose much more distance getting back to the start for the halfway point so I was at least doing better. I realized that with the extra distance I'd run, I would be cutting it close to 4 hours but at the time I was feeling pretty good and had visions of picking up the pace for the last few miles (ha!). When I got to the turnaround at 19.6, I was .16 miles ahead of the mile markers so I'd lost a little bit to the tangents again but at least not as much.

I was still feeling good all the way thru mile 21 and I'd averaged 9:08 for all those miles and then bam!... I started slowing. :( Mile 22 was 9:24, mile 23 was 9:42, mile 24 was 9:57, and mile 25 was 9:59! I don't know what the last mile and change was because my Garmin lost the satellite during the last mile! But it was probably around 10:20, I think. Those miles felt a lot slower than the actual pace and it was so frustrating! I kept telling myself to pick up the pace but my legs chose to ignore me and do their own thing. I mean, come on! Who's the boss here? Apparently, not me.

The one bright spot during that time was Dan from Sacramento. We were running about the same pace and I was a little behind him. The back of his shirt said "Why do you run marathons?" so as I came up to him during mile 20, I told him "I run marathons for pancakes". He laughed and we started talking. We ran together until the last couple miles and he pulled me along. He asked me what my goal was and I told him 4 hours and he said he would help me and he kept giving me encouragement and pushing me. He kept me from walking and slowing down even more. Finally, I told him to go ahead since he was doing better than I was but I kept him in my sights and that helped keep me running and lessened the disappointment once I saw I wasn't going to hit 4. He finished about 1 1/2 minutes ahead of me and met me at the finish line. I am so grateful for his encouragement out there. Thank you Dan! I wish I'd remembered to thank you when I saw you at the finish. (bad Lisa!)

The Finish and Beyond
This marathon definitely hurt more than the Lost Dutchman in February. I was hot, covered with salt, and my legs were super tight. When I crossed the finish line, I was more concerned about getting water than my medal (pretty cool though, eh?) and I had to keep moving because both hamstrings and calves were trying to cramp. But I also really needed to sit and rest so I was just wandering around trying to decide what to do. Finally, I just stretched out in the grass and drank lots of water. When I felt I could get up without my legs cramping, I made my way over to the pancakes and wolfed 'em down. Hey, a girl's got to have her priorities! Let me tell you, they tasted delicious. I could have eaten another one but I thought I better let that settle. So I went over to the results to see my official time since my Garmin had gone bonkers. 4:06:18. An 8 minute PR! Frankly, I wasn't even sure if I was going to get that! But I did it. I finished my 4th marathon and got a PR out of it. :) Thank God, I didn't walk. Thank God for Dan!

After getting my results, I walked back to my car but I didn't think it would be wise to drive yet. Instead, I grabbed my gear bag and went into the mall (where the race parking was), changed, did a little shopping, and got a Turkey & Avocado sandwich,pretzels, and a peanut butter cookie. I sometimes have trouble keeping food in after a long run so again I didn't want to eat too much. My celebratory meal would have to wait until dinner.

Once I ate, I felt like a normal human being again and that I would be able to drive back to the hotel. So I went back to the hotel to put my feet up for a little bit. But only a tiny little bit because I wanted to go to the Charles Schulz Museum and Sunday afternoon was my only chance. Luckily, it's not too big and wasn't too far away. There's no way I could go to Santa Rosa and not go there! Have I mentioned that my nickname is Snoopy? And that I have Snoopy tattoo (pic on the right) on my ankle? I'm glad I went. Although my wallet may not be because well, I bought a few souvenirs. Okay, more than a few. ;)

I went back to the hotel and then went over to Applebee's for my celebratory dinner. I had tortilla soup, steak, garlic mashed potatoes, veggies, and a hot fudge sundae! I made sure I wore my medal so if anyone saw me chowing down, they'd know I earned it!

And then my adventure was over and I drove home yesterday. My legs were still stiff so I went for a ride when I got home and then got a massage later. Both helped. I actually felt pretty good. Not tired or drained so I think I'm recovering pretty well. My left foot hurt a little on the outside and my left knee was a little sore from the trail being concatenated, I think. Also, my arms/shoulders were sore which is weird. Never had that before. At least, I don't think. I guess it has been long enough since the last one to forget how much it hurts! ;)

Overall, I would say this was a successful trip. I ran a marathon along a beautiful river, visited Snoopy's home town, met some great people, and got an 8 minute PR! What more could a girl ask for?

P.S. I'll post a Random Thoughts blog tomorrow about the Santa Rosa and it will have my thoughts on what I think went wrong. Because I still think I had a 4 hr marathon in me. It just wasn't meant to be at the Santa Rosa Marathon.


  1. An 8 minute PR in Snoopy's home town, that's a win! You didn't tell me you were covered in salt, so I'm sure the heat affected you more than you thought the last few miles. We'll get your marathon time to start with a 3 soon!

  2. Lisa! You are amazing! I'm so excited for you. I ran a sub 8 for 3 miles this morning and wanted to cry. You are so awesome!

  3. Hi Lisa,

    I'm thinking of signing up for Santa Rosa Marathon for 2012. Just a quick question, did looping the course twice for the full marathon boring?

  4. No, not really. It was pretty along the river. It was kind of nice because the second time, you knew where you were and it gave you hope that you were close! :)

  5. Just did the 2012 Santa Rosa Marathon this past weekend and liked the fast flat course. It was not boring at all. Thanks for answering my question back in Jan 6, 2012.