City to the Sea 1/2 Marathon

Picture 1

On Sunday I ran my second half marathon.  This one went from San Luis Obispo to Pismo Beach.  It’s a beautiful place to run this time of year but I imagine that’s true just about anytime.  Barbara accompanied me and we took the opportunity of being so close to Megan (daughter attending UC Santa Cruz) that we made a 6 hour round trip detour to see her.  It was a very relaxing Saturday afternoon and kind of a perfect way to prep for the race.  I was “forced” to sit down and just relax as the miles ticked off the odometer.

Rodeway Inn, San Luis Obispo

We arrived at our hotel/motel around 9:30pm and walked around the corner to Burger King for a Whopper, fries and chocolate shake.  Not exactly a pasta dinner but I figured it was carb loaded and might help in the morning.  The cell phone alarm went off at 6am but the usual jarring beeps of the phone were a welcome relief as they signaled the end of a long night.  The place we were in was like a dorm room with lots of banging doors, late night revelers laughter and what seemed to be a 300 pound gorilla walking around in the room above us.  Boom, Boom, Boom the footsteps pounded across the floor, stopped for ten seconds then Boom, Boom, Boom back to side of the room they started.  Who ever it was, was pacing or playing some form of table tennis.  It was one of those nights where the blackness of sleep creeps in and is within reach, then BOOM, BOOM, BOOM the ceiling rattles above you followed by a woman’s cackle outside the door.  You sit up or roll over and try to find that door to the blackness again but it’s blocked by a pound gorilla.  Did I say it was a long night?

I was very drowsy but made the water bottle potions, took the prerace energy pills and mixed the Pinole for drinking about 15 minutes prior to the gun.  The morning air was a crisp 60 something degrees as we fumbled out to the car and made our way to the registration area near the staring line.  Unlike the Bix or the San Diego race the gang in San Luis Obispo seemed very low key – not very many street barriers.  In fact, the streets were still open and traffic was rolling through the starting area.  There were hand written signs directing us to the sign-in room.  I was a little worried but once inside the bib numbers and shoe cards were layed out and ready for pick-up.  Very efficient.  I grabbed my t-shirt (given to each registered runner) and we found a coffee shop directly across the street from the starting line to wait.

Barbara drank here chai-tea-latte and I put on my bib and shoe card and we watched at the 937 other racers gathered near the starting line.  Some of them joined us in the coffee shop and it was great fun to watch families, couples etc. wish their racer good luck and then leave to find a position for the start of the race.  About 15 minutes prior to the start the police shut down the road and the race promoters layed out the electronic starting gate (no time for testing here!).  Barb and I made our way over and I gave her my sweatshirt, kissed her goodbye (she was going to the finish line with the car) and stood in the cold for about 5 minutes waiting for the gun to go off.

The first two miles of the race are downhill and I ran them at an 8 minute pace – a little fast for me!  By mile 3 I had to back-off knowing I had some challenges ahead.  Earlier this year I drove the City to the Sea course and knew there were some really challenging hills around miles nine through eleven but it’s not until you’re in the race that those kinds of revelations ring true.  I felt really good through mile 8 and at mile 9 I hit the first of the hills.  At this point of the race the course takes you into some farmland and the road narrows to a single lane as it winds up and down the curvature of the surrounding mountain.  So as you run up, you come down then up and down, it’s kind of like interval training.  Push up the hill, let loose on the downhill side.  I found it exhausting but was able to keep a 9 minute pace.  Eventually these roads dump you back onto the frontage road and it’s pretty much downhill to Pismo Beach.


One other note about this race.  There were only 937 entrants and that made for a very fast pace.  During the last two races I’ve passed a lot of people but in this one, the crowd was younger and I got passed pretty much the whole way – even by the only 12 year-old in the race!  I found it a little humbling.  It was only the last mile that I began to pass people.  As I rounded the corner for the finish line a woman who’d passed me back around mile 10 was in my sites.  I pushed hard and passed her right before crossing.

It was a great race and I ran it almost 20 minutes faster than San Diego getting me in under two hours!!  I’m still nervous about NY but I think I’m ready…


tom lowe photo, llc

tacoma, wa 98406


Follow Us

Follow our activity on the web and get to know us.