Santa Barbara 100K
Santa Barbara 100K Race Recap:
When I first signed up for this race back in May it scared me a lot, I wasn’t entirely sure that I’d be able to finish, but that’s why I wanted to try. When my Fleet Feet coach first gave me the mileage I should be doing I thought, “wow, I can’t do that!” My first 20 mile trail run had me sore for days, and the thought of doing a long run of 20 miles and then 20 miles again the next day seemed impossible, but I just put in the work each week and by the time July came around a 20 mile run seemed pretty normal during the weekends. I even did one self-supported 50k around my neighborhood, and had just run 15 trail miles the day before. I started to believe I could do this 100k and that I could do it really well, and that is half the battle – believing that you can!
My family and I drove down to Santa Barbara from Sacramento Thursday afternoon and just had fun shopping and hanging out until Friday. After checking into the race and eating my normal pre-race dinner of vegetable pizza and salad, I tried to get to bed early.
I had my drop-bags ready and my race outfit all laid out with my Camelback full of water and food as well. I was up at 4:30 am so I could be down in the hotel lobby to meet my friend and her crew for the ride out to the start about 30 minutes away from our hotel. We arrived at the start and waited for 45 minutes, tried not to be too nervous, used the restrooms about 5 times (that’s what I do when I’m nervous), and then lined up at the start area. It was cool, and the sunrise was beautiful coming up over the big mountains surrounding us. About 35-40 people lined up, the horn blew and off we went! I couldn’t believe this was happening!
We took off down the trail, there were a few small climbs and I just tried to settle my nerves and run easy. My friend, Teresa, and I had planned to run together, but told each other not to feel obligated to sticking together. We were running with a few other people around us down the trail to the first aid station 5 miles away where I got a few bites to eat and refilled my water. The first miles were 9:54, 10:51, 12:09, 14:56, 13:52.
There were some small hills, but I just tried to stay relaxed and easy and keep going to the next aid station about another 5 miles away. I ran a 13:35, 12:32, 11:55, 11:52, 10:31 for the next 5 miles. These times may seem slow to those that aren’t used to trails, but these all included aid stops and lots of hill climbs, and I was doing my best to conserve energy early on and not go too fast as I started to see some people do. I refueled at the aid station, got more water, and headed out with Teresa again to the next one 7 miles away.
The hills were starting to get bigger and I decided to walk a bit and take it easy on these, so I fell behind Teresa for a few miles. I ran/walked and tried to enjoy how beautiful if all was, I felt great! I sent my kids a picture at the 13 mile mark since I had cell phone service and didn’t’ know when that would happen again. I caught up to Teresa right before the next aid station. I got some potatoes they were making and coconut water from my drop-bag. Soon after eating we took off down the paved road until it connected to the trail again….12:24, 12:52, 14:26, 13:59, 14:19, 12:31, 13:27 … The next aid station was 5-6 more miles.
This is where we realized we were going to take over the first and second spots for female leaders in the 100K. As the 20 mile mark approached and the hills were getting steeper and seemed never-ending. Teresa passed the first woman leader and kept going, she wasn’t looking so great and even told me she had probably started too fast. I decided to walk/run a bit up the hills and try to conserve energy until at least the halfway point. I talked with her for a few miles until the next aid station where I refilled my water, got some fruit, and used the restroom. It was getting warm and these had been some steep miles. The next 8 miles to the aid station at the turn around point was supposedly the hardest part. My mile times were 14:34, 11:24, 14:40, 13:02, 13:04, 19:14. Just keep moving forward!
It was just so beautiful out here, I tried to enjoy every minute! I passed a small lake, an abandoned barn, some small trickles of water crossed the trail, some parts had trees and shade, but mostly it was desert with lots of bushes to walk through, and a lot of loose trail that filled my shoes with dirt. I passed a few runners and saw a few of the lead 100 milers coming back from their long night on the trail. I felt really good and just kept drinking water. It was getting warm and I was really sweating. It was beautiful, more green than before and a little creek was flowing. The hills were getting really steep; it was then I realized I was going to run out of water. Just keep moving forward, that’s what I told myself. I was beginning to feel dizzy and had to really slow down my pace and walk. I had 2 miles to go. I dumped a whole bag of sport jelly beans into my mouth to try and get me enough energy to get up these trails to my family waiting at the aid station. I was so thirsty! I prayed to God to help me not be dizzy and give me strength. I just kept moving forward. I tried my phone and had service! So I texted my family that I was only about a mile away, but it was steep and I needed water. I was very slow at this point. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other up this steep climb, and then I saw my daughter with coconut water and some trail mix for me!!!
I had made it to the halfway point at mile 31! We were at the very top of a mountain with amazing views. The volunteers all cheer when you came in, it was amazing! I was starting to feel better already, I got cold water, a peanut butter bagel, some fruit, and lots of other food that was there. I took a picture with my kids and headed back down the trail with some extra water, 8 miles to the aid station again. I ran these extremely difficult miles in 15:00, 13:45, 17:39, 15:37, 15:35, 26:50, 27:15, and 24:24.
As I headed down the same brutal 8 miles back to the next aid station I saw Teresa looking strong and in the lead!! But I was also seeing runners that didn’t look very good, they were out of water and barely moving. I gave a few of them some water from my extra bottle and told them to keep going. I saw the leader that we had passed and she said she was dropping out at the 50k mark because she couldn’t keep food down. I felt a little bad that I felt so great, but I just tried to be positive when I passed someone. I was starting to pass a lot of the 100 milers that were heading back too, and just kept moving forward and tried to enjoy it all. I was pretty much by myself and just prayed and thanked God for being able to do this. My quads were getting achy and it was hard to do the downhills fast, but I kept moving….20:31, 17:29, 21:07, 20:58, 15:40, 17:08, 14:45, 14:49.
I made it to the aid station at mile 39 where they got me more water (which I had just barely run out of), some more food, and sponged me with cold water. The third place woman came up too and headed out before me looking really strong down the hills. I headed out, I couldn’t let her get too far ahead. I wasn’t trying to be too competitive, but I had to at least try and keep my second place. I passed her again on an uphill and we came into the next aid station around mile 45 almost at the same time. I was so happy to see my kids, they helped me get more coconut water, another peanut butter bagel, and a few other things. My son, Jack, told me not to let her beat me. So I tried to be quick and headed back out. I ran these miles at 21:49, 13:17, 15:22, 12:21, 13:02, 16:54.
The hill out of the aid station was steep, I had just caught up to the third place woman again so I walked with her and we talked for a couple miles up the big hills about our kids. Then she told me to go ahead if I wanted, so I took off. It was mostly rolling hills with some flatter parts. I was so motivated to get to the next aid station because my daughter was running with me from there. My body was getting tired. My neck was starting to ache, but I couldn’t believe I felt good enough to keep a decent pace on this easier section. My goal became getting to my daughter before it got too late. It was just so incredible to think how far I had run already, and I was trying to enjoy everything around me, the course was beautiful!! My mile times were 21:20, 16:10, 16:18, 15:53, 11:06, 14:02, 16:23.
I got to the 52 mile mark around 8:15 pm and wanted to make it quick because I wasn’t sure how far behind me the next woman was. I got water, potato pancakes the race volunteers made, a bagel, and some other snacks. I headed down the trail with my daughter, Caitlyn, just as the sun was setting. I was so happy to have her with me! I was very tired and I didn’t want to have to look for trail markers in the dark by myself. We had our flashlights on and kept moving. It was slow-going because it was dark and steep for the next 5 miles to the final aid station. Caitlyn stayed positive when I started to fall apart on the hills and just kept me going. We saw scorpions, beetles, and a tarantula on the trail in our flashlights – it was kind of creepy! The stars were beautiful and bright, and the orange crescent moon was unbelievable! I was tired, but so thankful I could do this. Finally, at the top of the hill we could see the lights of the aid station and they were cheering for us as we neared them. I only had 5 more miles to go!! They got us water and we were on our way. I ran these miles at a pace of 12:40, 18:21, 18:07, 18:21, 17:33.
It was very dark and our goal was just to find the next trail marker hanging from the trees or bush. I was so thankful to have Caitlyn to talk to and get me through these final miles. I felt fairly good, and we just kept moving. I remember her telling me I only had a 5k left. We came through the campground that I remembered passing at the beginning, and then the trail that led to the road to the finish. We were getting so close! I was still trying to enjoy this moment – the stars, the moon, the smell of the campfire, the crickets chirping around us, it was all so great! We made it to the asphalt road that I knew lead to the parking lot and to the finish. It was still so dark and I just wanted to stop, then I saw the lights and the car. The finish line was up ahead! I could hear my family cheering and a few others cheering too! I crossed the finish line and they told me I got second female, and Teresa got first! I couldn’t believe I did it. All of my hard work had paid off, I had just run 62 miles, for 16 hours, through some of the toughest hills I had ever climbed! My son and my daughters hugged me. I got my medal, my belt buckle, took some pictures, and that was it. We got in the car and drove back to the hotel while I laid in the back and just looked at pictures and talked to my family. Final miles – 15:42, 14:52, 16:48, 12:58, 13:25.
I will never forget this race! It was so beautiful and challenging. Having my family there watching, and having Teresa to share this with was amazing. I just made it my goal to get to the next aid station and that’s how I broke it up in my mind. I enjoyed every minute and will forever be grateful that I am able to run and able to experience this. I wouldn’t have made it the last 10 miles without Caitlyn to keep me going and help look for the trail. I wouldn’t have made it without my other kids and husband waiting at the next aid stations for me. I am thankful to God for giving me this ability to endure and do it well.
Always keep dreaming big and keep working hard!