Welcome to another sunny day in California! After coming out in March to preview the Santa Barbara Wine Country race course and tell you a bit about why Santa Barbara and Solvang are a perfect weekend getaway, I was super excited to comeback for a true racecation!
First up, I was so impressed by the number of people who took advantage of the timing to make this a great Mother’s Day weekend! They’d run, sip wine and share a little getaway creating memories together.
Second, while I don’t drink, I was thoroughly impressed by the medal and the wine provided for all those who do LOVE the wine life! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves….the race!
Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon Review
While the race also has the option for a relay, I ran the half, so I can’t give you my perspective on the relay. But I can say that it sounds like the smart way to do a girls weekend..especially if you get the second half of the course and you’ll see why!
Oh buddy, the beauty and the hill. I plugged the course in to MapMyRun the week prior to the race and found myself a bit surprised at the elevation.
I thought the Santa Barbara Half marathon elevation would look like rolling hills and one big hill (yes I even drove the course in March!). But it’s actually a 1.5% incline from about mile 1 through mile 7 where you get to do the BIG hill.
Technically the big hill is very short, just steep and it tops out at the best freaking views ever!! From there the second half of the race flows downhill, wohooo. I mean serious downhill for one of the best negative split races I’ve seen in a long time.
Please note my map is just a wee bit short because I probably didn’t mark the finish point, but the overall course map is correct.
As a smaller race, they keep the expo pretty tight. You’ll get to sample from the vendors of the race like Zevia, Nuun, Smirnoff Seltzer and check out how things are going to be set up in the morning for the race. But the rain kept things flowing pretty quickly through.
This is not an expo to plan on picking up the things you forgot, like gels. In fact, even one of the top sponsors Honey Stinger wasn’t present at the expo or finish line, which shocked me. Plus I wanted a darn waffle! :)
This is really what’s drawing so many people to the race, so it deserves it’s own section!
- Free yoga sessions (Fri 1:30 and 4:30 and Sat at 5:30 before the race)
- Good Seed Coffee Boutique (local spot in Solvang) opened early at 6 a.m. race morning.
- Mortensen’s Danish Bakery… originally started in 1975 and over forty years later, provided a couple butter coookes at the finish line!
- Post Race grab your wine glass and get to sipping! With a stage for music and tons of local wineries, this is how you spend a sunny California day (unless like me you don’t drink, then you just enjoy the music and sun!).
If location, location, location is the key to real estate, it’s the selling point for this race too. I don’t even understand how Napa to Sonoma sells out and this doesn’t. I mean FREAKING GORGEOUS.
- Beautiful course
- Incredibly pretty course
- Did I mention the views?
- Small field means plenty of room to maneuver
- Relay means you can share the experience with a friend (especially mom for Mother’s Day)
- No slanted roads (super hard on the IT Band when there are)
- Medal is a high quality wine stopper (checkout photo)
- Finisher shirt doesn’t have logos all over the back and is super soft, men and women specific sizing
- Fabulous weather
- Plenty of porta potties
- Second half is almost entirely a noticeable downhill
- Starts and finishes in the cute town of Solvang
TIP: We stayed at the Hotel Corque which was maybe a 5 minute walk to the start line! No need to hang out for porta potties or be chilly, just get ready and go run!
I don’t have a ton in this case.
- One large hill at mile 7 that makes you want to punch someone, but the downhill that follows is glorious
- Road had a lot of cracks and small pot holes, so just needed to be aware
- Small expo?
- Not a ton of crowd support, but the views made up for it through the second half
- Extra fee for race morning bib pick up
SB Wine Recap
And now for posterity as always, I share my personal race recap. Some of you find it really helpful in planning for your own race and for me it’s a great way to look back and compare races!
Leading up to the race I was doing all Low Heart Rate training with a focus on building mileage, so most runs were a 10:10 and my race average was 8:36.
- 13.25 miles on my watch
- 1:52:58 official race time
- no knee pain!
- 68th female
- 172nd out of 1157 finishers
- 14 out of 137 in my division
- Officially another post surgery PR
Clearly if you’re looking for a small race to come out and podium, this is a good option if you can handle some hills.
Breakfast: slice of sourdough and almond butter packet, 1/3 of a pre-workout drink + 1/2 scoop Vega protein
During: 1/3 Verb energy bar, sipped another 1/2 of my pre-workout
Never ran out of energy, this was plenty for me.
Post race: Vegan donut and 1/2 Koia plant based protein drink
For weeks I’ve been saying this was just a practice race. I knew the first part was uphill, I knew about the big freaking hill and I mostly wanted to practice finding that line of pushing hard without going so hard you blow up.
Mile 1: I actually laughed as people went zipping by me on the down because immediately we turned up hill and I knew I’d catch them in the coming miles…my favorite.
Miles 2-6: It’s a very slight flat to uphill all the way, but nothing that doesn’t feel manageable. The views here are good…but nothing compared to what’s coming. My goal was to stay at a perceived effort of around 6 through here.
Mile 7-8: The corkscrew hill has a boatload of false tops. I didn’t walk, but just slowed down, increasing my foot turn over and shortening my stride. The focus was on maintaining a 6-7 perceived effort.Mile 9: Now you’ve reached the AWESOME part of the race which is first a massive downhill after that trek up and then continues to flow mostly downhill for the remainder of the race.
For this race I veered from my standard 3 song only playlist and had 5, OMG. Ha. But the last 3 miles, I kept tapping my earbuds to go back and listen to P!nk on repeat.
Miles 10-13: Mostly I was smiling a ridiculous amount. Saying thank you to every officer, waving at anyone out cheering and just knowing I was darn close to my previous post surgery PR on a completely downhill course without pain, without feeling like I was going to collapse.
Goal in this portion of the race was to hold a 7-8 RPE, until the last mile and then if I needed to hit 9 I was on it…I don’t think I ever did, but I couldn’t have gotten my legs to go any faster either.
I mean if this finish wasn’t the epitome of a runner’s high, I don’t know what is.
Santa Barbara Half Marathon Discount
They are offering a discount on early registration until May 19th!! It’s going to be $80 for the half and your pass to drink all the wine. This is such a good deal, I can’t even give you and extra discount code.
1000% a MUST DO race. A girls weekend. A race vacation. A beautiful course just for fun.
Have you ever done a race through wine country??
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I did receive a comped entry to this race, but all opinions are my own.