Posted by: forgingahead | August 31, 2008

Santa Barbara Triathlon – Part 3 – The Run

You were sitting around on this glorious holiday weekend checking my blog every hour or so to see if Part 3 had been published yet. Right?

Oh, you weren’t? I’m crushed. Well let’s get to it!

So T2 was even slower that T1 for me…I ate a banana, changed my shorts, changed my socks, reapplied sunscreen. 13 minutes baby! Take that.

The volunteers continued to be incredibly encouraging as they waved us onto the course. They also hid their bewilderment really well as it slowly dawned on them that we were STARTING the run as the majority of the competitors were finishing it. I appreciated that 🙂

Running is Allison’s strong suit and she started coaching me right away, checking her Garmin to monitor our pace, etc. We went out a little fast (10 minute mile) from pure adrenaline but she ratcheted us back to a more comfortable 12 minute mile pace soon enough.

The run in Santa Barbara is gorgeous. It follows the coast the whole way beginning along East Beach which is lined with sand on one side and lovely palm trees on the other. Because we were starting relatively late (around 11?) the tourists were out in full force and we had to do a bit of dodging people who were taking in the sights and not expecting exhausted runners to be tripping by them. It kept things interesting.

We were tired. I know, you’re shocked. How could we possibly be tired after swimming 42 minutes and cycling 2 hours and 38 minutes? Our legs were feeling a little muddy. But we had a plan! One Allison had used on her Marathon. We would jog to each water station and then walk a bit once we arrived. The event had kindly set up these little jewels of heaven at each mile mark so it broke the run up nicely.

We were SO happy to see the first water station. It’s that old 15 minute rule whereby the brain tries like mad to talk the body into STOPPING for goodness sake. My body was SUPER happy to be walking at the first water station. Then we started jogging again.

The first couple of miles are flat as they follow the beach and then there’s a slight incline (some might call it a hill) up to a mesa which turns into a lovely park. The hill was surprisingly easy though I did walk the last 100 feet or so. The park offered a bit of shade and some cool air coming off all the grass. After we hit our third water station we turned into a heavily shaded neighborhood. It was super quiet and peaceful.

As with the bike ride, we had most of the run to ourselves. Sure at the beginning there were quite a few folks finishing their runs and they had words of encouragement for us. “Good job” and “you go” and “keep going” and other variations were whispered to us between the breathes of runners on the last mile or so of their runs. The fact that they had the wherewithal to even acknowledge us was impressive and the fact that they offered encouragement was heartwarming.

The course is a loop so we knew when we arrived at the halfway point. The turnaround was at the bottom of hill which we ran down with arms dangling at our sides and letting our momentum carry us along. As we reached the orange cone that said “turnaround point” Allison sat down on the curb and pulled out a band aid. She was sporting a serious blister. “You’ve been running with THAT?” I asked in astonishment. My friend and coach has some super high pain tolerance. I would have been whining the WHOLE way. She hadn’t said a word.

So bandaged up and on our way back up the hill, the euphoria of having made it halfway carried me right up that hill. The water stations were still there but most of the volunteers were gone so we served ourselves and started dumping cups of water on our heads. The sun was out and the humidity was climbing.

I’d only run 5 miles prior to this event so every mile past that seemed like a big ‘ol accomplishment to moi. Miles 6 and 7 seemed manageable (just) but by Mile 8 I was definitely slowing down. I started running behind Allison and tilted the brim of my hat down so all I could see was her feet. Just follow her feet I told myself.

By Mile 9 I was walking every few minutes. The heat and bright reflection off the sandy beach was turning my insides to mush. This is where the mental part of things really kick in. I spent the last mile imaging I was riding Now Voyager at the canter in the arena at home with my trainer Anke in the middle of the circle telling me to go faster. This nifty bit of visualization helped keep me going (thanks Anke!).

Allison really carried me through the run. She walk with me each time I slowed down and negotiated where we’d start running again. I simply would not have finished this triathlon without her. So the last time we walked she said, “ok, but then we’re going to run to the end.” And we did!

Here we are moments after crossing the finish line…

And look, we still have energy to pose for the camera!

And a big SHOUT OUT to our men who were there to greet us and shower us with hugs and congrats!

The whole event was an amazing experience and I’m pretty pleased that I accomplished my goal. Healthy. Finish. Hugs to Allison my amazing coach who kickstarted this journey for me 9 months ago in Mexico when she talked me into swimming from the local beach cafe back to the house.

Life is good,



  1. Actually, I have been sitting (and doing a bit of running) on pins and needles all weekend awaiting the grand finale. What an amazing adventure! I’m going to refrain from asking ‘what’s next?’ because my guess is you’ve already heard (or thought) that. XOXOXO

  2. How fun it has been to read your perspective of this wonderful day! It was an amazing experience. We stepped out of our comfort zones and accomplished a great milestone!

    YOU are truly amazing in keeping your cool despite the temptation to stop. You never did. That’s the wonderful thing about partnership – we just kept going.

    I’m looking forward to what’s next too! Life sure is an adventure!

  3. I really enjoyed reading about your whole experience and think you two are amazing. Let me know when the next one is and just maybe I will be around haha.

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