6 Reasons Why You Should Run the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon

I am SO excited to be running the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon for the second time next month!! It’s the first and only half marathon I ever trained for and run so it definitely holds a special place in my heart.

This will be Matt’s first half marathon!! It has been so fun to train with him and I can’t wait to run this race with him.

Here are 6 reasons why I think you should join me and run on May 9th:

1. The Scenery

You can’t beat running by lavender fields, vineyards, golden hills, and through the beautiful towns of Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, and Solvang. It feels like running through a movie set!

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(picture courtesy Destination Races) 

2. Mother’s Day Weekend

While running, I kept thinking of my babies. At the halfway point, Matt met me with them at the flagpole in Los Olivos and it energized me! I thought, “If they can see their mom doing something this hard, then they will believe they can do it too.” I can’t wait until they are old enough to run it with me! Matt lifted Ada over the fence and she crossed the finish line with me…talk about a wave of emotions!! It is the perfect race to have on the Saturday of Mother’s Day Weekend to celebrate mothers, women, and daughters. Oh, and the wonderful men in our lives that made us mothers :)

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Many of the Destination Races offer a full weekend of exciting activities, like the Welcome Reception at the new Alma Rosa tasting room in Buellton! I can’t wait to go and check it out.

3. The Medal

You know some people say they just run races for the bling? Well this race is for them. It has a really nice medal and it feels good to have around your neck after 13.1 miles! It’s large enough to be a coaster for a wine glass, so there you go. The medal is different every year, so I’m excited to see what it’s like this year!

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4. The Quirks

Is there another race where you get to run by a buffalo mama and her baby?! Residents yelling “God Bless America” while waving a giant American flag at the end of their driveway?

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5. The Volunteers

At every water station, volunteers called us by name. It was so motivating to hear people say, “Go Kara! Good job Kara!” as I ran by.

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6. Location, location, location!

Santa Barbara County is one of the most beautiful places on earth! Yes, I know I am biased because I grew up here and reside here now. We have it all: temperate climate, beaches, hiking, great food, history, friendly people…come visit, run with us, and see for yourself!!

Destination Races provided me with two discounted registrations. As always, all opinions are 100% mine.

Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon 2013 Recap

On the year anniversary of my first marathon, I’ll post my recap of last year’s Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon. Congratulations to all of you who ran it today! I am insanely jealous & hope that I’ll be running it again next year. It just wasn’t in the budget this year and I have a pinched nerve in my back right now. Lovely :)

Last Saturday, I ran my first half marathon ever! It was amazing. It was a gorgeous course running from Santa Ynez to Solvang (30 min. from my hometown). I ran with my cousin & friend, and we stuck together the whole time! I keep thinking that when my children look back on this picture, it will be neat to see the gas prices waaaaay back in 2013!
Rach forgot her bib in her mom’s car, so she got a random bib 2 minutes before start time! It was so funny to hear people at the aid stations give us water and say, “Great job, Kara! Go Roxanna!” It’s her sexy running alter-ego :)

Before the race & scenery along the way:

We got stuck in the porta potty cube of death before the race! There was a big square lined with potties on three sides. People were lined up in all directions, it was madness. We ended up in a line that was actually 4 lines merging into two. There were probably 200 runners waiting, and we all were saying there was no way the race would start on time because there were so many of us still waiting. WRONG. They started anyway. And we still had to check our bags because we didn’t want to lose our spot in line! So here I am crossing the start line, running while putting my phone in my armband and hooking up headphones!
The residents along the course were AMAZING! We saw a woman walking a turkey, people sitting in lawn chairs cheering us on, but the best were these people:

Sitting at the end of their property, in the back of their pickup truck with their dogs, waving an American flag. They said, “God Bless America!” as we ran by and I was so happy to be home. You just don’t see or hear that sort of thing in Santa Cruz!

Lindsay, Matt, & the girls met us at about the halfway point in Los Olivos. I could see the big flagpole for about a half mile, and it really gave me a burst of energy knowing that they were there waiting for us!

I ran up and saw Ada cheering, “Go Mommy, you can do it Mommy!” And Lola didn’t know what was going on until I kissed her cheek :)
I didn’t think I was going to be in the picture below…

I was feeling pretty amazing after scaling Corkscrew Hill to Josh Groban’s Awake. I felt like I was in a movie! The golden rolling hills, the oak trees, the green lines of vineyards…it was so beautiful. I absolutely loved running with Jessica and Rachel. It was so good to know that when one of us was weak, another would be strong and lift the others up!
So there was this bison, a very protective mama! She charged Rach when she went in for a picture, and it was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen! She moved SO fast and everyone running was cracking up. I wish I had a video!

I LOVED miles 4-9. I was in my groove and my calves had loosened up. By mile 10, I needed a potty break and so did Rach. We stopped and then continued on, my hips and pelvis hurting more with each step. I’ve worked so hard since having Lola to get my shifty hips tight again, and I feel like all of my hard work held up until mile 10. My body was exhausted, and I had eaten all of my Skittles & Shot Bloks. It felt like all of my ligaments just relaxed and I could feel my bones moving and rubbing against each other.
At the 11.5 mile mark, I saw a sign with a hot pink shirt on it. I thought, “Hey, I have a shirt like that.” Then I realized that Rachel’s pic was on the poster next to it! It was my awesome sister-in-law, Kandie! She made a poster and came at the point where I wanted to quit. If it weren’t for her at the bottom of that hill, I probably would’ve walked up it instead of run! Sorry for the big sweaty hug, but I was so happy that you came out and surprised us…we needed it at that point!
I wasn’t mentally prepared for the hills at the end. I looked at the elevation map and thought once I made it past Corkscrew Hill, I was home free. Do not discount those rolling hills those last 3 miles! They may look small but they are no joke. I was getting goosebumps and felt like my legs were going to give out at the tops.
I kept saying to myself, “You run 2 miles in your sleep. You run 2 miles in your sleep.”
When I finally rounded the last half-mile (worst of my life), I could hear people cheering and knew the finish line was close. I first saw my Nana & Bobba, which was a surprise because they were driving up from a long week of serving at the Los Angeles Temple! I know they were tired and it meant so much to see them there! I almost burst into tears. Then Matt lifted Ada over the railing and she ran across the finish line with me.

What a perfect way to end a race. See Bobba in the background? :)

She was smiling and waving at everyone cheering us on. I have a future race buddy on my hands!
She loved wearing my medal & almost snatched one of her own!

The three of us, after completing our first half marathon together! My hot pink compression socks saved my calves…and made me stick out in a crowd. Matt said he was looking for my socks! They are miracle workers.

Afterward, Rach & I took advantage of the free massage booth. That should be a part of every race…best feeling ever! I walked (slowly) away with a bruise on the top of my left foot, and my right pinky toe is still numb. My knees and ankles are starting to feel back to normal.

Ada wanted to ice her feet along with Rach :)


Then we headed to Kay’s Country Kitchen in Old Orcutt for the best breakfast food in the West. Seriously. Matt and I split the BAGS Omelette and Texas French Toast. I ate my full halves of everything. Matt says he doesn’t like me running half marathons because I eat all of the food he was planning on finishing for me!
I finally got my big Dr. Pepper that I was dreaming of the whole run.

Our gun time was off because of the porta potty debacle, but my official chip time was 2:57:27.5. I am happy with that because I wasn’t out to set a record, I was out to push myself to finish and never stop. Not bad for having surgery 44 days previous! I feel so empowered and strong after finishing this race. I am so grateful for a strong body and for a will to push forward and work hard. I am so grateful for a Father in Heaven who gave me this body, this beautiful Earth to enjoy, and these wonderful people I get to call family to support me in all of my endeavors along the way.

We decided that this needs to be a Mother’s Day Weekend tradition, so I am excited to run it again next year with more friends and with this experience under my belt! Thanks for a wonderful time Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon!

Auntie Linds Visits & Other Fun Things

I took this picture of Ada for Joyschool. She wanted her sweater with the flower, all buttoned up. And her heart necklace, princess bracelet, and sparkly red headband. I love the way she accessorizes :)

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Matt & I went for a run by the Elks’ Rodeo grounds. I love the rodeo! Can’t wait for it in June.

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Matt went for a run with a friend and came home to Mav sitting on top of him. I think he missed him just a little bit!

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Poor Lola doesn’t get a nap on Sundays because we go from 11:30-2:30 this year. I was looking for her after church and found her like this on the couch!

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Ragnar SoCal 2012 Recap

This weekend is Ragnar SoCal and I wish I was running, so I wanted to take a trip down memory lane to my first Ragnar experience! Here is my recap from April 2012:

I ran the SoCal Ragnar Relay! While nursing! It’s one of the most incredible things I have ever done. It is a 200-mile relay race from Huntington Beach to Coronado Island. You are on a team of 12, in two giant vans, and one member of your team is running at all times! You have 3 different legs, and my legs added up to a total of 14.5 miles.

I drove down to Santa Maria on Thursday to drop my girls off at my mom’s house. Thank you Mommy!! I was so stressed out by many things…I had a stress (ha) fracture on the top of my right foot that wasn’t completely healed, I had to pack all of my girls’ things to leave at my mom’s, then pack all of my things separately for the race to take down to Huntington Beach. Matt had just graduated and was in the middle of interviews and work so stayed up in Santa Cruz. I ended up with a stiff neck and am grateful for Rach and Tiana for rubbing it so I could run! I made granola bars and we had lots of good snacks for the road. We spent the night at one of Elise’s friend’s house…thank you friends!! Tiana, Rach, & I ended up sleeping in a closet converted into a bedroom with Bob Marley flags and a bong in it. It was comical :) I had to pump in the bathroom during the night and people kept asking, “What’s that noise?” haha  

Here is beautiful Tiana, ready to run her first leg. Our team name was Run Like an Egyptian, hence the flashy costumes. It was already really hot at this point in the morning!

Here is my gorgeous cousin Rach, who ran right before me. It was SO HOT here! We were resting up in the shade. She had a really rough time, and I was worried when she wasn’t at the exchange in the amount of time she told us she’d be there. There was a saint of a man who helped her along, and she finally made it through the 110 degree heat and to hand off the bracelet to me.

Game face on. Nobody recognized me without my smile :)

Cousins!

What happened during my run was the worst run of my entire life. It was 110 degrees out, in the middle of Corona, CA. There was a heat advisory, and I was running 5.65 miles straight up a canyon! I could feel the asphalt burning my skin. It felt like a giant griddle on high heat under my feet. See the CamelPak I’m wearing in the picture above? I ripped it off my back and gave it to my teammates around mile 2 because it was BOILING. I went for a sip and it was so hot I just spit it out.

The only thing that kept me going up that cursed canyon was knowing that I would see that big white van pulled over, with my team cheering me on. Bringing me water, pouring it down my face to have it dry seconds later, and offering words of encouragement. 

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Napa Ragnar 2013 Recap

In September, I ran my second Ragnar Relay and my very first as a Team Captain! We were the Wet Bandits and had a team made up of 12 awesome family members & friends. This was my 2nd with Rach, Jared had done at least one before, and I think it was everyone else’s first! I am SO proud of my team!!

Jared, Rachel, Lindsay, me, Matt, & Casey – Van 1 at the start line in Golden Gate Park, SF!

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I was runner 2 and was completely unprepared for how fast Lindsay was going to run! I was sitting in the van at 10 AM when she rounded the corner and had to scramble to get my stuff together. I was running and trying to pin my number on. haha She talked the whole time before about how slow she’d be and how she’d take forever…not the case! I am so proud of my little sis!! 

My first leg was just unreal! The scenery was breathtaking and the hills were killer. It was 5.84 miles with a total climb of 1,023 feet. 

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All through the Presidio, along Land’s End…

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On the beach where we had family pictures taken…that sand was deep and my ankles felt it afterward. Also what no make-up and no sleep plus 4 miles looks like! I am wearing lipgloss, but that’s it. Can’t run without it!

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Across the Golden Gate Bridge! I’ve now walked and run across this bridge.

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The fog made it look like the cables plugged into the clouds. It was so beautiful!

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After my first leg I handed off to Rachel! Whose then-boyfriend-now-husband Jared was very protective of and made sure we stopped exactly where she wanted us to :)

We borrowed my Aunt Liz’s megaphone and had way too much fun with that thing! A definite must for every future Ragnar!

Melissa, our 12th runner in van 2, handing off to Lindsay, runner 1! I love the intensity in this pic. Go Meliss!!!

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All lit up for my night run at 8:40 PM! Safety first. 

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This run was through Petaluma and stunk to high heaven (literally). I was running through cow farms, the road wasn’t lit at all, and when oncoming traffic came, their lights temporarily blinded me. Plus I only saw one other runner out there! Scary stuff. Bushes and random things snuck up on me because it was so dark and kept making me jump. One time when a car blinded me, I thought the white on the road was the shoulder line. Wrong – it was the dirt. So I rolled my left ankle and hobbled on. I got a little rain toward the end but nothing too bad. Needless to say, I was happy to be done with the 4.71 miles! I was really surprised by this because during Ragnar SoCal my night run at 3AM was my best and most favorite run.  

I sat in the van and iced my ankle, cheering on my teammates and trying to rest. Sometime after my run, during Casey’s leg, it started to torrentially rain! It was a downpour like I’ve only seen in the tropics! The forecast hadn’t called for rain, we were all expecting heat. Poor Matt was already soaked while waiting for Casey and was doing pushups to stay warm. It was freezing out there!

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The handoff from Casey to Matt. We passed Casey in a forest and he looked like a Cullen! The words machine, robot, and speed demon were all used as we passed him. He was flying through that  pouring rain!

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After Matt’s run we had a minor hiccup with the other van not being there in time and he was calling but his phone was so wet that we couldn’t hear him. So he waited at the exchange for a bit and he totally killed his mile time. Something about the rain at night made both of those guys fly! We took showers at the college and it was open-style…worse than Girls Camp! Good thing we can laugh about everything :) We tried our best to sleep, and most did. Thanks to Jared & Rach who found a spot to sleep outside so that the rest of us could stretch out on a bench! I barely slept because I was so paranoid about missing Melissa and sleeping through the text that she was almost there! 

The van 2 to van 1 handoff!  

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As I was getting ready for my longest run, I couldn’t find my hat. I went into panic mode because we saw a hat that looked exactly like mine in the showers the night before. After about 5 minutes of searching our filthy van, I finally found it at the bottom of my bag just in time to get the bracelet from Lindsay and go! 

At 7:41 AM I started my third and final leg. It was 8.41 miles with a total climb of 555 feet. I ran from just east of Sonoma to a bit south of Napa. Van 2 took this pic of me moving verrry slowly (my ankle was swollen & bruised but my compression socks helped)! I saw lots of roadkill on this one. 

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The vineyards were stunning! I took this picture right before the rain started. It rained. And hailed. And rained some more.

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I ended up on a freeway for a good portion of the run, and there was so much runoff coming down at me that I’d lose my footing a bit and water would wash over my feet! My shoes felt like big sponges and I was soaked to the core.

I decided about mile 4 that I was just going to go crazy and have fun amidst the cars and trucks splashing me with mud and water. So I danced/ran my little heart out to Van Halen’s “Jump” and every other song on my playlist and made every big rig honk as they drove by! Boy was I grateful for my hat and glasses with all of that rain coming down.

Finally made it, and we realized that our team name was literal. We were all SO WET!! Casey designed the awesome decals for our vans and Stacy made them out of vinyl! They looked so good and really helped while running because you could spot your team so easily.  People LOVED our name! Credit goes to Lindsay for the 2AM stroke of genius :) 

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We were all STARVING and hit up Napa’s In-n-Out. Casey was stoked:

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A burger and fries have never tasted so good!

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After eating, we passed through Napa and cheered Katie on and some of our other runners in Van 2. There were vineyards, fields of flowers, and Eric running barefoot! I was glad that the rain bypassed them for the most part. 

We then headed to the finish line and waited for our final runner!  

It was so fun to run across the finish line as a team! I cannot believe what a huge feat an event like this is and had such a blast. My first Ragnar was 110 degrees and my second was freezing rain. Talk about two extremes! Both times I have come away with such a sense of accomplishment. When and where will you get the opportunity to run with your friends and have them cheer you on in the night/rain/crazy terrain?! Not to mention how you realize what your body is capable of.  

Cousins/sisters :)

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Bandit with bling! I wish they’d give out the Gold Rush medal no matter what year you ran SoCal & Napa :)

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Got a massage that felt like heaven after all of that running!

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We drove our vans to church the next day :)

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Thank you to all of my awesome teammates: Lindsay, Rachel, Jared, Matt, Casey, Stacy, Maddy, Katie, Eric, Amy, & Melissa!!! You guys amazed me and it was so much fun to run with you! Also our incredible volunteer – Devon. He got soaked setting up and worked through the night for us so THANK YOU! And our driver, my dad. He got out of the van to meet Matt when the rest of us stayed in the van to stay dry, harassed us while running with the megaphone, and stayed up all through the night to drive! Not to mention the fact that our van was broken into in SF and his laptop and everything was stolen. It was a crazy ride! 

I’m ready for another one…who’s up for it? Or a Ragnar Trail? 

Le Weekender

Saturday morning, Matt & I dropped the girls off with my mom and went for a run on Orcutt Hill.

At the top! Nice & sweaty.

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I won a Jetflow Hydration pack from Hungry Runner Girl. Thanks Jenae! It is awesome! You put a water bottle in it (or soda, Gatorade, etc.) so there isn’t a rubber part to wash out.

Plus a storage area for fuel, phone, keys. I love it!

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We started running off the marked trail and found this welcoming sign:

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Oops…

Matt requested French Onion Soup for his birthday dinner, so I happily (tearfully while slicing the onions) made it! Mmm…

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Topped with toasted Trader Joe’s Country Bread & Gruyere cheese:

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Ada asking for more cake please :)

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Sweet sisters before bedtime!

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My sister subbed in Nursery for my aunt today (have I mentioned how much I LOVE being near my family again?!)

When I went to pick Lola up, she was snuggled in Auntie’s lap reading a story! They didn’t even notice me taking pictures :)

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My mom made the best pasta for dinner! She made it up after having a similar dish at Pascucci in Santa Barbara. So good!!

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How was your weekend?

What’s your favorite kind of soup?

Shhh…It’s Church!

Lola has figured out how to climb on the storage container in the backyard and harass me from the kitchen window :)

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While I was making breakfast, Ada was sitting on the couch singing. I snuck up on her and captured this gem:

Then we went to the park and talked and played with friends. I love that my girls & I both have so many good friends here!

I decided to run the 2.6 miles there, knowing that I’d have to run the 2.6 back even though I didn’t want to! It was so hot today (80 degrees) and I felt it on those uphills home!

On the way there I averaged 10:27/mi. while pushing a double stroller! Yeah! The way back – 14:11. Woof! I ran the sunny spots and walked the shady parts.

There was loose gravel flying up from construction…I’m glad we didn’t get hit with any! And thanks to the man in the red van cheering me on up the hill by Pacific Christian – you made my day!

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The stroller felt SO heavy and one point on the way home and I looked down to see if the brake was on. Nope, just Lola pushing her leg on the tire, dirtying up her leggings in the process. Thanks for the extra calories burned, love :)

Hot day, have to make sure and stay hydrated!

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Did you work out today?

What’s your favorite hymn? I can’t decide between Praise to the Man or The Spirit of God.