Race Recap: Santa Barbara Red Rock Trail Run – Marathon

The race recap blitz continues…

Mid-October to November was busy with a lot of travel & a lot of racing so originally we were going to just stay home and chill for Thanksgiving.  But it was Sean’s birthday weekend so when I asked him what he wanted to do, he said, “I just saw that the Santa Barbara Red Rock 50 & Marathon is on Saturday.”

We were interested in this race last year but couldn’t make it work.  So this year after we found out it was on Saturday, not Sunday, we were like let’s do it so the Monday before, we checked on hotels and went to ultrasignup.com and got registered.

We drove up to Santa Barbara on Friday, we were planning to leave around 11am but ended up leaving a bit after noon.  There was a bit of traffic around LA of course but we made it there around 5ish.  Checked into our hotel and then hit the boardwalk for a quick 4 mile shakeout run.

A nice dinner at an Italian restaurant nearby and a flat Jenny photo and we were headed to bed.

The race started at 6am and it was about a half hour from our hotel.  The weather was calling for rain most of the day so we had a lot of extra gear to accommodate for that.

The start of the race was at the same place as Santa Barbara 100 so we knew exactly where to go.  It wasn’t easy to find a parking spot this time thought since there were a lot of campers.

And it was 35 degrees so we were freezing!  I was originally going to wear shorts but ended up changing into a pair of capri’s.  I wore my North Face Thermoball jacket and a long sleeve shirt with a buff over my ears.

As usual with an ultra, there is a bit of a chat and then you’re off.  With this race, they were really specific about the fact that we all had to check-in with Jean Ho at the finish no matter what.  After Luis told us that about 4x we were off.

I started the race chatting with Gisele, the female marathon winner and Lori, the 50 miler female winner.  Gisele is super fast and I knew there was no way I would be able to keep up with her, lol, so after a few minutes I slowed a little.

This race had a number of water crossings, with the first one about a mile into the race.  As we got to it I saw a bunch of people off to the side taking their shoes & socks off.  I was like I just don’t want to deal with that so I just walked right through.  I decided to wear my Altra Superior 2.0s because of the issues I had with caking mud & my Olympus 2.0s and they were amazing!  I had absolutely no issues with caking except in the areas that I was skiing in the mud.

I knew I had 2 more races coming up the following week and I was considering attempting a PR at CIM so I didn’t want to go too hard.  And since Sean was going to be out there for quite a few more hours I had a lot of time to just enjoy myself out there.

As the sun came up, it was absolutely gorgeous out.  Bright blue skies, a beautiful sunrise, absolutely beautiful single track and crisp cool temps.  I kept my jacket on the whole race except for about a mile in the middle of the race.

I also, couldn’t fit my headlamp in my pack so I ended up wearing it the whole race, lol.

There were 2 aid stations on this out and back course, one at mile 7/22 and then another at mile 12/17.  After the mile 7 aid station there was a stretch on the road.  I recall this road from when I was crewing for Sean at SB100.  We ran on the road for about 2ish miles before heading up the mountain.  During this section there were a few more water crossings.

It was nice, peaceful and so beautiful.  I hiked the uphill before running down a nice downhill that was reminiscent of the never-ending downhill we did at Kodiak back in September.

Another steep climb and I made it to the 12 mile aid station.  The volunteers there were so nice, I got some orange slices before heading out to the turn-around.

This was a pretty hilly course and it felt like it took forever to get to the halfway point, which was actually about 14.5 miles out.  I was so ready to be at the turn-around.  There wasn’t a aid station at the turn around, but it was really obvious it was the halfway point.

I took a bunch of runfies while hiking up the hills, of all the things I brought with me, I forgot my sunglasses so I’m a bit squinty in all the photos, but I was having fun, at this point at least.

Once I got to the turn around, I felt so much better and was flying down the trail.  I didn’t realize that it was as uphill as it was on the way out but it was so much easier on the return.

I swear it took me no time at all to get to the aid station again.  When I got to the top, I told them that it was so much easier on the way back, to which they responded no one else had said that, they all were like it was uphill both ways, which it was, but it seemed easier to me lol.

I refilled my Orange Mud ultra pack and had a few more orange slices before heading down the hill.  I knew I had to head back up the never-ending hill I went down earlier.  I just kept pushing on, as the weather started to turn.

I had been hoping with the bright blue skies that we had earlier would continue, but alas, that was not the case.  Almost as soon as it was 11:00am, the rain started.

I was heading down the hill back to the road and the first/last aid station when it started raining.  It wasn’t too bad at first so I waited until I got to the campground to use the bathroom and put on my water proof jacket.  I still had about 2 miles to get to the last aid station so I made my way up the road to the aid station.

I finally got there and it was starting to really come down by this point.  I stopped to get some more water and get my poles out.  This section I knew was going to be interesting with all the rain.

I headed up the hill, at first it wasn’t too bad.  But not long after that, things started getting really slippery.  This was the longest 7 miles I have ever done, let me tell you.

I was cursing Luis saying who’s bright idea was it it make a marathon 29 miles yada, yada, yada ;).   It took me forever to do this section.  It was cold, it was wet and I should have just run through the stream of water down the main section of the trail (in some sections) but my feet were getting so cold.

There were some sections where it was so slippery and we were on the side of the mountain, I just was trying not to fall off, lol.  I kept thinking that no matter how long it was taking me, (there were times when I would look at my watch and be like seriously, I still have 5 miles to go?) at least I got to do this in the daylight, Sean & the other 50 milers were going to have to do this section in the dark.

I was cold, wet, hungry and not having a whole lot of fun during this section.  I eventually ate a peanut butter filled clif bar.  These are seriously the best – I love them and am always excited when a trail race says they will have clif products because they normally have these.  Anyways after eating a little, I felt a little better.

Eventually I got off the single-track and on to a fire road where I could run or in some cases ski down the trail.  As I was running down this section, I happened to see what looked like a random swimming pool, it was really odd to me, but I guess there was a house that was off the trail.

I finally got back to the first water crossing and by this point, it was over my knees, it was under my knees the first time I went through.  I sucked it up and through the water I went.  And oooh was it chilly.  My feet and legs were tingling for a few minutes after I got out. But I was a mile out from the finish and the rain had stopped for a bit so off I was excited that I was almost done.

Not too much later, I saw the gate at the end of the street and I knew I was almost to the finish line! I saw my friend Jen – she cheered me to the finish and there were a few others who started cheering as I got closer which was nice.

I crossed the line, got a nice medallion, Luis doesn’t give out traditional medals at his races, instead they are give custom finishers medallions.  They are different for everyone.

I got a photo with Jean and then headed immediately over to get some hot soup.  I was so freezing! And let me tell you, the chili, was amazing!  I had 2 bowls.

After my first bowl of chili, I had to get changed, I was so so cold.  Fortunately they have decent sized bathrooms at the camp-ground so I was able to get changed, carefully, since the floor was wet.  I got a 2nd bowl of chili and settled into the car to wait for Sean.

This was by far the hardest “marathon” I’ve ever done, it was fun for the first 22ish miles but that last 7 miles (or more specifically) miles 22 – 26 were super challenging due to the rain.  I would like to run this race again in better weather conditions, without mud.  I didn’t even mind the water crossings, it was the mud that I didn’t enjoy.

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