While running in Scotland, I decided it would be fun to try a half marathon over the summer. Last summer, I started off the vacation running in a triathlon (I ran, my brother swam, my dad biked) and it felt like a good way to start what are sometimes considered the lazy days. So, on my second weekend back home this year (I did a 50 mile horse ride my first weekend back), I ran the San Lorenzo half marathon, put on by Coastal Trail Runs, with my dad.
The event was on Saturday morning. The Friday before, my whole family drove up to Santa Cruz to camp so that we wouldn't have to drive up the morning of the race. We got there in the afternoon, set up camp, and hung out for the night. The next morning, my dad and I woke up early and headed to the start.
I'd never done a half marathon before. In fact, to be very honest, after going to Sweden following the end of the semester, I slacked off on my training and didn't even work up to running more than 10 miles (the 1/2 marathon is 13.1). I wasn't really too nervous about the run, but I knew I would be taking it slow. We set off with the other 163 runners doing the 1/2 (yes, 163!) and immediately headed up a hill. I guess I was more nervous than I realized, or maybe I had eaten breakfast too close to race time, because about five minutes into the run I started feeling a little weird. I figured I would just run it off - I wasn't about the stop running five minutes in, that would be embarrassing, especially seeing as the other runners were close behind and in front of me on the single track and would definitely notice if I stopped running already. So I kept going, and not two minutes later I was doubled over on the side of the trail. Yep. Being sick. Great start. Luckily, I don't think too many people saw, and I tried to discreetly get back in the line of runners afterwards. Following that glitch, the rest of the run went smoothly.
The trails around Santa Cruz are excellent for running. Mostly good footing, dirt single tracks with a few fire roads, long hills to slog up followed by great hills to bomb down, and, thanks to the river, green everywhere. The giant redwoods framing the trails act almost as blinders, keeping you focused on the trail in front of you, and the few roots and rocks on the hills are fun to leap over as you cruise down the trail. The route was an out and back, and halfway through the out section, there is a thigh deep river you have to cross. The water is cool but not freezing, and it was a great refresher to dunk my head in the clear running water before heading out the other side. Strategically located along the course were volunteers handing out water, and at the halfway mark more volunteers had water, cyatomax drinks, orange slices, energy bars, pretzels... anything you might need as a pick-me-up before heading off to conquer the second half. This was a very well put on run, and a great first half marathon.
I found out later that I had placed second in my age group and 55th out of 163 runners, and was very happy with that. It was a great run overall. I definitely want to sign up for more runs, and half marathon seems like a good distance for me. After the run, my family and I drove down to Davenport beach and James and Dill and I jumped in the waves a bit. The water was freezing, of course, but lots of fun!