July 25, 2012

Wharf to Wharf (Race Report)

This was definitely more of a run than a race, but I had a great time and would definitely do it again. As I've mentioned before, this has been a race my dad and I have been wanting to do or a while. We vacation in Santa Cruz every summer but have never been here for race weekend. This year we made sure to book our house for the third weekend in July and signed up before it sold out. My friend Courtney decided to come with us to Santa Cruz for a few days and joined us for the race as well.

Our house is actually a block away from the course around mile 3 so we just had a short drive to the start down by the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. We got there with plenty of time to spare and just hung out and people watched, Courtney and I playing a game of "name that shoe" (this is what happens when you work in a running store!). There were a ton of people, from seasoned runners warming up and stretching to those out to have fun, wearing tutus and questionable shoes. It was perfect running weather with the typical Santa Cruz fog and cool, fresh air.

As it got closer to the start we lined up around the 9 minute mile pace sign. When the gun went off, it took us nearly 10 minutes just to reach the start line. That's what happens when 15,000 people are funneled up a two lane street! The first couple miles were slow, as to be expected, and we did a lot of dodging. What irritated me, however, is how many walkers we had to run around! Now I more than welcome walkers out there, and it is definitely a walker-friendly race. But, it was clearly said to start in the back if you planned to walk the race, and there was even a pace sign specifically for walkers. It was also clearly announced (not to mention simple race etiquette) to stay to the side if you stop to walk. Not only was it difficult to dodge these people, but it can also be dangerous in such a crowded environment. Ok, end rant : ) Despite the crowding, it was a great race. In fact, it was probably a good thing there were so many people because it forced me to keep my pace nice and easy. As a result I actually felt pretty good for the whole race!

The course was also fantastic with enough hills to keep things interesting without being too challenging, and killer views along the beachfront. Locals were out in full force to cheer us on and bands were interspersed along the way to provide entertainment. The miles ticked by pretty quickly and before we knew it we were halfway, running by our house and waving to my mom and pup who'd come out to cheer! Around mile 4 we hit a bike path that winds above some beachfront cliffs overlooking the ocean. Talk about an awesome view!
 nearly came to a standstill on most hills
the best section of the race

The last half mile was a nice downhill to the finish in Capitola. I wasn't expecting it so soon, but was glad to see the balloon arch and be done. The course is just under 10k, and we came in around 1:02, which I'm happy with considering how crowded the course was. We were herded along with the rest of the runners toward the beach to pick up our race shirts, which were unfortunately cotton : / Still, this is a race you run for the experience, not for the swag.
 the final "wharf" in Capitola!

Courtney and I both planned on adding on some more miles after the race. She has a marathon in September and had 16 on deck; I was hoping to run a few more and see how I felt. We headed out of Capitola through some back streets and then plotted a route back to the house that avoided the race course. I actually felt pretty good except for some tightness in my hip, which got better as I warmed back up. We made it back to the house with 9 miles, and while I thought about calling it a day, I liked the idea of double digits, so I did one more easy mile to cool-down. I was definitely tired when I finished, but I was also happy to get in my first "long" run since Ironman.

All in all it was a fun way to get in some miles and enjoy some of the amazing views Santa Cruz has to offer. It was also great to share the experience with my dad and Courtney. I don't usually run an entire race with others, but I really enjoyed having the company. I'm sure I'll be back for this one in the future!


  1. I'm in awe of your motivation. You just finished IMCDA and you're already training for a marathon. You are truly amazing.

  2. Santa Cruz is such a great place in general, and this race seems like a good way to combine vacation with training for you.
    I have become a shirt snob and don't understand cotton when it's a race t-shirt!

  3. Looks beautiful! Grrrrr.... crowded races drive me crazy!