santa to the sea half-marathon recap.

19 Dec

Alternate title: PR City, Population 1.

On Sunday, December 8th, I ran my 13th half-marathon (Number 5 for 2013), the Santa to the Sea Half in Oxnard.

TL;DR version? I PR’d by two minutes.  [1:36:58]. I sort of joked when I crossed the finish line that I would never run that fast again.


I loved this race.  I knew that this where SR had her PR, and I thought I *might* have a chance of PR’ing as well.  I did not go into the race expecting it though.  My training was minimal — I ran 9 miles on Thanksgiving but beyond that hadn’t seen anything over 7 since October.

My parents’ house is a little more than half-way between where I live and the race, so I slept there on Saturday night and got my Invisible Gillian ready to go.


At the starting line, there is a HUGE Santa figure (hence the race name) and everyone is encouraged to bring a toy to donate for Toys for Tots.  I had never heard of “Doc McStuffins” but I liked the fact that she is a doctor.  Even if she’s a doctor for stuffed animals.



My parents dropped me off at the start.  My mom was running the 5k, as was my friend Bryan, so we all carpooled. The 5k start and finish was close to the 13.1 finish, so it worked out well.  It was uncharacteristically COLD on race day, so I brought a throw-away sweatshirt to wear while I waited to start the race.

I loved the announcer and the fun, cheeky Christmas songs they played while we waited to start. My new absolute fav Christmas song is “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses. So 80’s and so awesome. I talked to a couple of fellow runners and seeded myself in the 1:35-1:50 pace group area. I thought I’d run between 1:45-1:40 depending on feel.

The race started and I went out FAST — 7:17 first mile.  My hands were cold but the rest of me felt fine. The course is a point-to-point and the steepest section is a freeway overpass.  We ran through different parts of Oxnard — agricultural areas, a business park, downtown, historic homes, and then the marina/harbor area where the finish was. I tried to see how long I could hang at that 7:17ish pace.

Mile 1 – 7:17

Mile 2 – 7:06

Mile 3 – 7:17

Mile 4 – 7:18

Mile 5- 7:24

Mile 6 – 7:19

Another thing I loved about this race was how everyone dressed up — and it was such a community event.  There were five high schools out there cheering with signs (some even had their bands there). Post-race, we got a survey to vote for our favorite. Loved that cute touch.

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 7.30.02 PM

This photo was taken at about the half-way point — Plaza Park. The crowd was so festive and energetic at this point!

The course was fun — the only thing I didn’t love was that we were running streets that were not completely closed off.  I never had to stop to let a car pass, but a couple of times it seemed like I might — just a weird thought to have while busting out 13 miles.

I realized I was holding a pace right around 7:20 for the first 5 miles.  My goal at this point became to hold this until I hit the half-way point, at which time I could re-evaluate, since I knew this pace was clear PR territory.  I still felt good at the half-way mark, so I decided to try and hold the pace til the 10 mile marker.

Mile 7 – 7:28

Mile 8 – 7:22

Mile 9 – 7:19

Mile 10 – 7:27

After mile 10, I thought, I could drop to 8 minute miles and still bring home a PR.

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 7.29.37 PM

Mile 11 – 7:33

Mile 12 – 7:38

Mile 13 – 7:28

I slowed down those last few miles, but managed to never dip below 8:00. Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 7.29.17 PM

As I approached the finish, I saw my parents and my friends Bryan, Jenn, and Jenn’s bf Daniel.


The clock time said 1:37:xx, which I was THRILLED with, but then I remembered I started a few seconds after the gun went off.  My official time was 1:36:58, which comes out to about 7:23/mile pace. I was thrilled with such a huge PR. The take-away for me is more mileage does not equal faster times. Strength and cross-training has been KEY for me.

Bryan ROCKED his first 5k ever in 24:51 (8:01 pace//4th in his age group) and Jenn and Daniel also did really well and had fun out there.  It was really a great day.


My mom may not have PR’d but she won the “most festive” family member award (she made a Christmas headband and a scrunchie — so cute).  My Dad is nursing a foot injury and didn’t run, but 2014 will be his comeback year. *Older sister comment ahead* –>  My brother doesn’t exercise, so here’s hoping 2014 is his year as well.


I knew SR and Monica were there — but unfortunately I didn’t see them. Bummer! I did, however, spot a girl I remembered racing against in high school.  Only I would remember someone from their running form alone.

As we were driving home, I got the worst charley horse in my right calf, ever. I couldn’t straighten my leg fully, so I had to pull over to the side of the road in Newbury Park and walk around to get it to come back to life.  It did not feel fine until Wednesday/Thursday of the following week. ROUGH.

Anyway, I loved this race want to make it a Christmas tradition.  I am especially lucky and grateful for my parents for running/supporting me, and for my roommate Jenn for her constant gung-ho approach to either racing with me or spectating at my races.

[Side-note: I am a total Lulu convert. Running skirts = the most comfy thing, ever. I also liked this top — broke my “nothing new on race day” mantra, and the ProCompression socks worked out well too].

Have you done/are you doing a holiday-themed race?

15 Responses to “santa to the sea half-marathon recap.”

  1. readaholic31 December 20, 2013 at 2:52 am #

    Wow, that is an awesome time! I’m hoping to do my first half marathon next year but I’m just looking to survive it in one piece at this point! 🙂

    • gillian December 20, 2013 at 11:12 am #

      Thank you!! You will rock your first half!

      • readaholic31 December 21, 2013 at 1:55 am #

        Thanks, I hope so! 🙂

  2. Running Hutch December 20, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    YOU ARE SO FAST!!!! Well done! What a great time and so exciting your family was there. And if you like running skirts you should try on one from I used to LIVE in those skirts. Lol! Thanks for letting me live vicariously through your race recap! 😀

    • gillian December 20, 2013 at 10:54 am #

      Aww, Thanks Tiffany! You are way too sweet. 🙂

  3. Katy December 20, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    This is amazing! Congratulations on a stellar time! This looked like a fun race (minus the streets not being completely closed off…I agree, that’s weird).

  4. katymarie5 December 20, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    You are amazing! Congratulations on a stellar time. This looks like a fun race (aside from the streets not being completely shut down…I agree, that’s weird).

    • Gillian @ That's G December 24, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

      Thank you, Katy!! Yes it was totally a fun race and a great morning 🙂

  5. mburton0214 December 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    You are damned fast! Love that you gave some 80’s music some love too!

    • Gillian @ That's G December 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

      Thank you! And yes I LOVE that song (may or may not be listening to it right now…)

  6. FLRunnerBoy September 19, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Doc Mcstuffins is awesome!! lol 🙂


  1. 2013 – the year in running. | That's G - December 20, 2013

    […] Half-Marathons: 5 (Surf City – 1:45, OC Half -1:39:56, Long Beach-1:40:40, Rock n Roll LA-1:42:42, and Santa to the Sea 1:36:58) […]

  2. christmas 2 give 5k with BoMFLA [recap]. | That's G - December 25, 2013

    […] the cause — and they both ran strong races on the tough course.  They were repping’ Santa to the Sea in full force.  I so appreciate their willingness to let me drag them to all of my race […]

  3. mmxiii music. | That's G - January 5, 2014

    […] some old song from the 80s? Well, I heard this song for the first time ever at the starting line of Santa to the Sea and became obsessed. I also became obsessed with that course because I PR’d (1:36:58).  I […]

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