Monday, November 12, 2012

Santa Barbara International Marathon 2012

FYI:  I am not quite ready for a reflective race post, so this is just a straightforward race recap.

Race day began with a wake-up call of 6 a.m.   Not bad at all!  I dressed, pinned on my bib, had a few bites of a bagel and PB and hit the road.  Angela dropped me off at the start so I didn't have to deal with all of that shuttle business.  She decided she'd bike around the course so she could see me multiple times.  It was the perfect plan and I highly recommend it to any spectators of this race.  She got in a good 30 mile bike ride and was able to enjoy some amazing views and snap photos of the course.  It was a win-win.

Does it get any more beautiful than this?
I started out with the 3:30 pace group and was pretty sure I could hang.  In fact, I wanted to book it at the end and get in under 3:30.  That was the plan.  Well, things don't always go as planned, especially with marathons.  I've been dealing with some nasty Plantar Fasciitis but I've still been running (obviously).  I was concerned about how my PF would react to 26.2 miles.  Despite the pain, I was able to keep up a good pace for the first 20 miles.  I lost the pace group at a water stop early on but my pace was still right on target.  I could feel something happening with my left big toe (what else is new?) and I knew I made a poor choice with my socks.  They felt way too thick and my toe was not having it.

There I go! I wore my Brooks jersey, so I was impossible to miss.
The first 10 miles flew by and I felt pretty good despite the foot pain.  At mile 13, I saw Ang and she shouted "you're right on pace!" which reminded me that I was in good shape time-wise.  I wasn't feeling so hot though.  I kept up my pace until about mile 20.   My running form was awful because of the issues with my big toe.  I was landing on the outside of my right foot and I couldn't correct it.  I felt as though my left leg and foot were doing all of the work and my right foot was being dragged along for the ride.  It felt pretty awful to be completely honest.

Ang snapped a picture of my terrible landing.  Eek.
The course is a series of rolling hills with a bitch of a hill at mile 23.  I tried desperately to mentally prepare for that monster hill.  I reminded myself that I could do it and it was all downhill after that.  I used mantras the entire race.  I'm pretty sure my positive thinking was the only thing that kept me moving.

My thoughts during the race:

"you don't have to do this, you get to do this"
"remember the 4 other marathons you trained for and missed due to injury? this is your chance!"
"this is nothing compared to some people's daily struggles."
"you are stronger than you think you are"
"left, right, left, right"
"just. keep. running. just. keep. running."
"you've got this"
"the sooner you finish, the sooner you get to nap"

and best of all..

"you don't want to have to post an embarrassing finish time.  move your ass!"

This is the first race where I've ever wanted to quit.  I genuinely wanted to just throw in the towel.  My right foot was completely done, I felt slightly dizzy, I couldn't eat my Clif Bloks because the thought of them made me nauseous, and I felt weak.  I have way too much pride to quit so I kept trucking along instead.  I could not stop thinking about our ridiculously comfortable hotel bed and how badly I wanted to curl up and sleep in it.  Usually I am motivated by food, but this time it was all about the nap.  

Despite all of the aches and pains, I still enjoyed the beauty of this course.  I soaked up all of the incredible views and felt grateful to be out there. 

This was right before the huge hill.
At this point we were passing half marathoners who started later.
I so badly wanted to be one of them at this point.
So, mile 23 came along and I completely failed.  It was such a steep hill and I so badly wanted to be done.  I tried running it.  I told myself I could go as slow as I needed as long as I was running.  My defiant self decided she was going to walk this hill.  Screw positive thinking.  I hated this hill and I was going to walk.  So I did.  People passed me.  It was pretty demoralizing.  I knew I was adding minutes to my finish time but in the moment, I didn't even care.  Of course I care now.  I wish I could go back in time and drag my ass up that hill.  But it is what it is.  

the final .25 miles
After that beast of a hill it is all downhill to the finish.  I flew down the hills and came in looking strong but definitely not feeling so.  I wanted to die.  My foot was throbbing and burning but I wanted to be done so badly that I sprinted through the finish at 3:37.  In the moment I was super disappointed in my finish time.  Always our worst critics, right?  I know some people would kill for a sub 4, but race times are all relative.   

wondering where that darn finish line is
Then I took of my shoe and saw that I wasn't being dramatic about my foot pain.  All of that burning and throbbing was for good reason.  No wonder I was just dragging my right foot along.

I won't even show you what the actual foot looked like because it is just plain nasty.  I think I've shown you enough disgusting foot photos on this blog to last a lifetime.  :)  Everyone around me was gasping as I did the big reveal and pulled the sock off.  It was pretty hilarious, actually.  Everyone advised me to go to the medical tent so I did.  They were incredibly nice and treated me like I was dying.  Haven't they seen layers of skin fall of a foot before?  Guess not.  There were three adorable little kids standing nearby with their jaws dropped staring at my foot.  Ang and I were laughing hysterically at that point.  One of the little girls came over and tapped me on the shoulder to ask what was wrong with me.  Kids are just too cute.

I waited for about 20 minutes to get a FREE massage.  It was heavenly.  I am so grateful for all of the massage therapists that gave up their Saturdays to rub sweaty, smelly runners.  They are the ones that deserve medals!

This was an amazing race.  The course was breathtaking, the volunteers were great, there were plenty of port-a-pottties, and the post-race amenities were fabulous.  I would have liked to see more water and fuel stops but I realize this isn't Chicago or NYC so resources are limited.  

It is now two days post-race.  My thoughts have shifted on the outcome.  While I was initially disappointed in myself for not reaching my goal, I have changed my tune.  I overcame a lot to run this race.  I really should be proud of just finishing as I was dealing with a lot of pain.  I could have quit.  I could have used my PF and bloody foot as an excuse to call it quits, but I didn't.  I kept going, and I am proud of that. 

Sub 3:30 was totally within reach had I not been dealing with other issues.  Physically,  I know I had it.  I was trained for it.  If I can kick this annoying plantar fasciitis and figure out a way to not lose all of the skin on my foot, then I will be golden.  After the race, I said I was done with marathons.  Today, I am looking up my training plan for Boston and getting super excited.

Marathons are painful.  Even excruciating at times.  They suck the life out of you.  And then 2 days later, you want to do it all over again.  Runners are crazy funny like that.  

A big congratulations to Monica who PR'ed!  It was so great to meet her at the start.  Neither of us had any idea what was in store for the day, and she ended up having one of those magical race days.  So happy for her!

I will be posting more about Santa Barbara because it is one of my favorite places.  We had the best time and enjoyed some seriously delicious food.


  1. Your poor feet. lol Congratulations on another 26.2, even if it wasn't where you wanted it to be.

  2. You should be proud! It is those tough races (and the decision to carry on despite the pain and the lost time) that grow us -- as both a runner and a person. Love that your excited about Boston training.

  3. Kate! I am so sorry you didn't get the time you wanted to, but I am still way impressed by your awesome time... especially given your issues! PF is a total b*tch and I am so sorry you are dealing with it. It's such a nasty injury! You poor feet have been through a lot! It's so great that you have such a nice lady like Ang in your life to support you. :) Congrats and take care of those feetsies!

  4. Um...anytime you finish a race and hobble to the medical tent where they treat you like you may die is a good enough reason to be SO PROUD that you got yourself through that race! And walking one hill 23 miles into it is totally justified! Good work! I am one of those that aspire for a sub-4 marathon soon, but I totally understand the disappointment of expectations that you know you can do better. Now go ahead and let that toe heal!

  5. You are my hero!!! I cannot believe you ran on that bloody mess of a foot. It reminds me of my ballet days. Shudder. I know you're disappointed, but I think you did a fantastic job! Congratulations :)

    1. Ballerinas and runners definitely have the nastiest feet of anyone.

  6. Hi Kate! I'm sorry I missed you at the race. I looked for you and Monica. Have you tried KT Tape Pro for the plantar fasciitis? That has saved me completely (that and not riding the indoor spin bike anymore!)

    1. I have not tried KT tape for my PF! Thanks for the recommendation. I can't wait to read your recap. Heading over there now...

    2. Hi again Kate -- I wrote a full post today on how to recover from plantar fasciitis (based on my experience). I thought it might help you:

  7. Congrats on the race, besides the PF and the bloody toe! Sounds like overall you ran a great race, if your injuries heal up you definitely have 3:30 in the bag. Santa Barbara does seem like a gorgeous course to run.

  8. You kicked some major ass considering your were hauling around a shoe full up blood.

    1. Haha!! My shoe was pretty bloody. Is it weird that I still have the blood soaked sock?

  9. And the Beast of the Santa Monica Marathon award goes to Bloody Kate! You did the '85 Bears proud. :)

    1. Bloody Kate! Hah, I really hope that nickname doesn't stick! Thank you, my fellow Chicagoan... :)

  10. Bloody hell, Kate!
    I hope your foot heals soon!

    1. Thanks, Beth!! Me too! I think I am about to lose my pinky toenail while I'm at it. Yikes. I think I earned the Nastiest Foot award.

  11. Your poor toe! Yike! So glad you made it through the end. It is SO hard to keep running when you don't want to, but you're a tough cookie! That's still a pretty good time you had there. Good job!

  12. Wow, you did great. I really admire you for pushing through it, to the end! Hope your foot heals quickly!

  13. You are a beast, not that hill! Way to go--3:37 is a fantastic time. It is all the more fantastic when you look at that foot. You are so tough!

    Be proud. Relax. Take some downtime. Then when you are ready, come back and blow through that 3:30--I know you can.

    1. You always say the best things. :) I'm feeling hopeful for that next marathon...

  14. I just saw a video about plantar fascia, seems like one of the main causes is too tight calf muscles or muscles connecting to the feet. I also saw a comment a while back you had on Chicago Runner Girl about your heel not touching the ground fully when you run, I'm no stride expert but you should probably allow your entire foot to completely touch the ground when you run (even if you midfoot strike), otherwise this seems like it would put insane pressure on your heel since the load would be fully absorbed by the heel.

    1. Thank you so much for this! I have extremely tight calf and hamstring muscles.

  15. Congratulations on a great race!!! I realize the time wasn't what you wanted but you are one amazingly tough girl to run a 3:37 marathon with a bloody foot! I was just thinking today about how absolutely atrocious my feet are. I have the worst, most beat-up toenails imaginable. But then I realized that I can easily cover my feet in the summer (close-toed shoes, anyone?) while there is now way I could cover up the size of my ass if I didn't run as much as I do! Ha! I will take my ugly feet any day over not running. :)

    So excited that we are both starting our Boston training at the same time. I'm going to be so jealous in the middle of winter when you are heading out on your long runs in the beautiful San Diego winter while I'm slogging through cold, rainy days in Portland! We'll have to run together when you are in town in December.

    Congrats again! It looks like a beautiful course!

  16. So sorry about your foot! Owch! But what a great time! Mentally tough races stink but you learn a lot from them. Feel better soon! It was a beautiful day though wasnt it? I kept feeling blessed for just being able to run in the sun on a bright fall day. I thought it was a great race- nice size and support too. Glad you had fun in SB! Great job!

  17. Holy foot! Hope it's feeling better. Forget all the other swag -- I'm all about the free massage at the end of a race. Heaven. I'm so sorry that you were hurting for so much of this race, but if you can manage a 3:37 with that, you will be unstoppable on a good day. And I felt the exact same "i'll never do this again" at the end of my last race, but I'm already so excited about my next one. It definitely took a few days to get over the disappointment.

  18. Aw, congrats girl! Loved reading this. Love the pictures. Love that you pushed past the pain and finished. That sub 3:30 is next for you! You rock Kate!

  19. ugh i remember training on that hill and doing it in the marathon...and i definitely walked it, too! great job, even if it wasn't quite what you wanted. a marathon is always a huge accomplishment, no matter what the finish time.

  20. OMG your foot!! You must keep the bloody sock, hang it next to your medal! ;) I can't believe your time, you're incredible. Especially with a shoe filled with blood plus plantar fasciitis. Don't you know any good PTs? ;) Seriously though, let me know if you need help with any exercises for foot strengthening/calf stretching. I'm happy to help. I think the key is really to strengthen your foot as much as possible so that the intrinsic muscles start doing the work and the plantar fascia doesn't have to take up the slack, making it inflamed and unhappy. If it's really been going on for a while, you'll probably need some deep tissue work in the PF and lower legs to break up scarred down tissue and increase blood flow/healing to the area. If you know any good deep tissue massage therapists or rolfers, they should be able to help you in that department. Nothing like a good hour or hour and a half beating from those guys!

  21. Congratulations! I know it's not the time you were hoping for, but you overcame quite a lot this race and finished strong. That's something to be proud of!

    And holy crap, your poor foot!! Take care of it and heal well!

  22. You look beautiful in your running photos!! Like such a natural.

    Congrats for pushing through the tough parts of the marathon, running a race like that is 100% more difficult than running the race that you'd trained for.

    I can't wait to run with you in the spring at Boston :)

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