when gumbyhead announced that her next race was going to be the santa barbara marathon, i immediately offered to head up for the weekend and join her for the race. i started working some longer road runs into my training and planned a weekend with our good friends, kevin & lesley. since i ran my first race in support of someone [warren], i have found that i REALLY enjoy running the marathon distance as a pacer or as company for someone who could use the support. so, the plans were set and i’d be at gh’s side trying to pace her for the sub four hour bq that she sought. nothing special, nothing crazy, just encouraging words and a consistent pace.
and then we got to santa barbara.
kevin & lesley [and their kids, loganzilla and madisonasaurus] are THE. BEST. CREW. FAMILY. EVER. they’ve supported me at several half marathons, triathlons and other distance races. they never fail to be all over the course in expected and unexpected places with the support and encouragement that makes for highly memorable races. in addition, the second kevin and i reconnect, we begin a downward spiral of humor.
the climax for this weekend was on saturday night.
kevin had pulled out the christmas boxes from the attic and we had uncovered a tub full of santa hats. somehow, they had ended up with almost a dozen of santa hats with white braids. odd, yes, but functional. my head was cold, so i jokingly donned one to keep my noggin warm. through dinner, we started joking about running the race with it on. i lamented only having a day glow green running shirt and tights to accompany the hat and that’s when lesley disappeared from the dining table.
only to return with a red skirt from her high school days in drill team.
kevin then disappeared and returned with a plain white technical shirt for me to use. and, before i knew it, i had signed up to run as ms. claus the following morning. i debated stuffing a sports bra, but thought better of it, seeing as how it might cause significant chaffing. i called gumbyhead after dinner and let her know i had something up my sleeve for the following day. she seemed apprehensive, but willing.
at the race the next morning, i carried the skirt with me until just before the start [i had fleece pants on to keep warm]. as i put the skirt on, the looks began. the double takes. the triple takes. the laughs. the eye-rolls. both mark and gumbyhead were laughing at the reactions they were seeing.
we toed the line shortly thereafter and headed on our way.
this wasn’t really my race, so i had the simple task of running a consistent pace, playing sherpa for gumbyhead by grabbing stuff from the aid stations and giving words of encouragement. that gave me much freedom and energy to ham it up for the crowds. as i ran along in my cute red skirt and white braids, the reaction from the crowd was one of two things; either they would notice the skirt from a ways off an shout something comical or they would see the hat, yell for ‘santa’ and then amend their statement as they noticed the skirt once i passed. the reactions were a constant source of humor for me and i made a point of waving to everyone that interacted with me. this gave me an endless fount of energy and kept a smile on my face for the entire run.
gumbyhead and i were fortunate to have drew show up around mile 3 or 4 and hang out with us for a bit. he took a pit stop at one point, but we again bumped into him for several miles around his house and then again at the finish. it was a real pleasure to meet up with him and to have him participate in our goofiness.
the race went really well for the most part, with us nailing a pace right around 9min/mile. i was confident that gumbyhead would have her sub 4 bq. but i failed her in one respect. i didn’t bring a watch. i REALLY should have had one and not relied on her garmin. i would have known better when we started dropping time and how much we needed to pick back up. as we approached the later miles of the race, gumbyhead had to make a pit-stop and waiting at the honey buckets for one to free up ate into our already tenuous time. once we got going again we were playing catch up, but i was still confident that we’d be able to make up the time. what i didn’t know, though, was just how bad the two final hills would take their toll on gh. don’t get me wrong, she pushed hard and dug deeper than i’ve seen many people attempt in the marathon. she gutted it out even when she doubted she was going to get her bq.
in the end, though, the bq slipped out of our reach, but gh STILL turned in a blistering fast last two miles to cross the line in 4:06. the great thing about this race, aside from the camaraderie, scenery and weather [duh] was that gh had the opportunity to really dig and see what she’s capable of when things get really hard and bleak. i’m confident that with a good training cycle where all the long runs are completed and a decent amount of speedwork is accomplished, she’ll see her goal. i’m crossing my fingers that with the new job under her belt, that training cycle will finally materialize.
oh, and one last groovy thing was smsmh and tc were at the finish cheering for us as we came down the finishing chute. it is always great to see them come out and support my craziness. this time, though, smsmh had plopped one of those silly white-braid santa hats on tc’s head so we matched. as i spotted them in the crowd, i circled back around, picked up tc and trotted across the finish line with him in my arms. i got a great reaction out of the crowd and from the announcer who said something along the lines of “oh! what’s this! it’s two santas! or, wait! it’s ms claus and her helper!” i was laughing, tc was laughing and the crowd was having a blast with it.
i can’t think of anything that would have made this race more enjoyable. well, maybe a shave and wax.
|soundtrack for this post|
|Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus? (Non-Album Track)
Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus?