This race had been on our radar for 3 years, but Rick or I or both of us had been injured at decision time in each case. This year, Ferrell is in blazing running form. Me, I had just gone over the bars on a ride 2 weeks earlier and had a couple of cracked ribs that were healing pretty slow. Also a nagging issue with my left IT band, but not a deal-killer. Rick had made a bargain with Jake - the race director - to roll over his entry from 3 years ago each of the past few years and figured it was now or never. I signed on the night before; I'd give it a go, although I was concerned about breathing hard going nothing but steep uphill for 13 miles, with my bad ribs. By the numbers, it was easily the toughest run of my post-surgery racing. 13.1 mile half marathon starting at the surf and sand of Santa Barbara, running up State Street to the Mission, and then winding up steep single lane roads for 4,100 ft of climbing to end at the tippy top of La Cumbre Peak, the high point of the dramatic skyline above Santa Barbara. Uphill is tough on my IT band and psoas around my operated hip. Ferrell was fresh off of the Pikes Peak Half Marathon in Colorado, doing well, and was fit and ready.

Ferrell was designated driver this time.

Trying to make hotel reservations earlier proved futile. We arrived in Santa Barbara on Labor Day Weekend friday without a hotel room, counting on last minute cancellations to save us. For an hour and a half we hit every hotel between the beach and 3 miles up town. The very last hotel before running into residential neighborhoods had one room left. We took it.

It's not a race unless Mr. Coffee is along

An adequate dinner at Rudy's Mexican place. Fish tacos, black beans and rice, and hot salsa w/ chips. Don't we look satisfied?

I did a 30 minute walk around town at sunset, to test out how I might feel tomorrow. Rick, meanwhile, caught up on the paper, and watched a special on Neil Armstrong, who'd passed away this week.

A little roller work on my illiotibial band and left glutes was a good way to prep for a relaxing night's sleep.

At the market, we picked up some milk, and I got some Sleep Aid naturals. A first for me - getting up at 4:45am required a good nights sleep, like I did not get the night before. The mattresses were hard as rocks! I gave in. Actually, they worked OK. I slept well.

Morning. Time for a nice ripe banana to fuel up. That, a couple of hard boiled eggs and an ibuprofen.

Fueled, packed, ready to roll the 3 miles down to the wharf for the 6:30am race start

We snagged a parking spot just a few hundred yards from the start, right on the beach boulevard. Ferrell starts his stretches.

Quad stretches were definitely in order for this one


Ferrell puts on his game face

About 400 showed up for this crazy home-grown race

Santa Barbara - home of the Beautiful People.

We're off! I stuffed my Lumix pocket camera in with my energy bars so I could bring it along.

First mile was up State Street, then dogleg and continue up Santa Barbara Street. Our destination mountain top is off the frame, to the left

About mile 4, the gentle uphill is over, and it's pretty steep from here on out. First, some very pricey neighborhoods in the hills above the mission.

Mile 5. I've started nursing my little bottle of 5hr Energy, and a gooey energy chew from the swag bag. We're getting above the marine layer just a bit here.

Starting to get a bit warm here, now up about 1800 ft elevation I'd guess. I commiserated with the gal back there from Florida for a few miles. She was amazed with the views. Her comment: "In Florida, the only mountains are made of trash".

Ant-like runners on the switchbacks above.

Mile ~7 aid station and bathroom. I had a major situation here, and admit I stopped my race watch for it. Over 6 minutes worth!

Wow. That's a long ways down.

Asphalt encouragement - let's minimize the sarcasm, please.

Mile 9 or so; our first downhill. It was only about 1% grade down, and only lasted about 50 yards, to a creek crossing.

I drank at least two cups of water at every aid station. Maybe 3 here for these cuties

This little detour out/back gave us our only significant downhill; about 180 ft of drop over a half mile, near mile 10.

This is just before the last mile and a half, which is about the steepest of the race.

Just a half mile to go. The start is just behind the bill of my cap.

The finish line area was a beautiful spot; pine trees, crags, spectacular views.

My watch clocked me at 3:37:01. How great it felt to have finally run out of uphill! The elevation of this point is 3,985 ft, but the downhill section dropped 180 ft, so the total climbing was about 4170 ft.

Race director Jake, mans the T-shirt desk, leaning against the truck.

Everyone wanted to enjoy the summit for a while before thinking about heading down.

This 68 year old guy, Gordon, just radiated positivity - a darn good race walker and beat me to the top. I ended up riding back down to the wharf with him.

It was a very long wait at the top before the vans arrived. Gordon and I hitched a ride with a kind local, and met Rick back down at the start, on the lawn on the beach.

We offered to take a fellow racer, Nick, back to Goleta - his race buddies had apparently driven off w/o him at the start. Bummer!

Rick, downloading splits off his watch. His time was 2:05:01 - exactly the time he predicted he'd do the night before. It was good enough for 2nd place in his age group.

De rigor was a stop at The Apple Farm in San Luis Obispo, for sweets and things for the family.

A pure chocolate muffin, to be saved for tomorrow's long ride

We arrived back in Aptos at 5pm, and I stopped over at the DeLucchi's to join their Labor Day BBQ. That burger hit the spot - I do love red meat but only after a tough race, not at other times. Next morning I felt OK, and joined the gang for a ride out Hwy 1 up to Davenport and the Swanton Valley loop. The soreness will hit me tomorrow, no doubt.

Thanks, Rick - for getting this one on our calendar. It's already a lot of fun to look back on! Some great moments, and an accomplishment to savor.