Race Recap: Santa Rosa Half Marathon

The Santa Rosa Marathon. According to the big bold letters on the website there was NO RACE DAY PICKUP. So on Saturday I asked to move my schedule to work 1-9:45, that way I could drive the 1 1/2 hours it took to get my bib and shirt. Then drive the 1 1/2 hours back to make it to work on time. I was definitely UNDERWHELMED by the “expo”.

It was held at the Flamingo hotel, thank goodness I actually knew where that was.


I found it pretty easily, and was greeted by lots of snoopy characters.


Evidently Charles Schultz lived and wrote the Snoopy comics in Santa Rosa. There’s a museum and everything. I’m from Napa, close enough not to be a tourist or a native, which (in my mind) gives me rights to be oblivious.

Moving on, I guess Snoopy ran the race already, since he already had his medal.


Lucky dog.

This was pretty much it as far as the Expo goes.




The awards were ginormous! A full 2 feet and then some. These gigantic metal squares made by a local artist. Too bad there wasn’t an award for people who PR’d, because then I would have gotten one.

There was also a few random vendors like Macy’s, a shoe store, and a couple of race booth’s. I really wanted to sign up for the Napa Valley one, but I have to wait before I do. If registration is still open when I can, then it’s meant to be.

The race bags were nice.


It had a clif bar, another couple of goodies, coupons for local businesses, and Macy’s gave us the string back packs. The shirts were pretty nice. They felt like higher than normal quality race shirts. They even have a zipper pocket!


I had registered for a women’s XL, and I had to trade it (race day morning) for a L which was kind of awesome.

The night before the race I packed a bag with a change of clothes and snacks.


The shirt in the top right corner is what they were selling at the Expo. I liked it since it was blue and the print was in blue. It makes it hard for anyone I REALLY know what it says. It just looks like a cool graphic. It is made of high quality material and they were selling them for $12. A steal! (They were also selling sweat shirts, pants, jackets, long sleeved shirts etc.)

I also laid out my clothes for the morning of the race.


Shoes, capris, shirt, socks, bra, undies, race bib, safety pins, gu’s, hat, sunglasses, hair tie, headphones, and my arm band. I felt very prepared. I put my bib, headphones, arm band, sunglasses, and gu’s in a very large ziplock bag. That way I could put it on top of my change of clothes and could access it easily right before the race. I put all that stuff on once I arrived to the race.

It was a long drive by myself. Hubs was supposed to be my pit crew, however he got called into work for that day. I was definitely stressing about locking my keys in my car, or some other catastrophic disaster of some sort. However I’m glad that I know that I can run a race and be completely self reliant, and do what I love, for myself.


Once I arrived I found parking very easily. There were several garages offering free parking, and they were only about a block from the park. The first table I saw was this.


RACE DAY PICK UP!!!!! I asked one of the volunteers, and they confirmed it. I told them I drove over 3 hours on Saturday to get my bib. She said not enough people picked up their bibs, and they HAD to have race day pick ups. I was so angry about this situation. I kind of feel like I was punished for doing the right thing. Whatever, I’m writing the race directors a letter, the end.

Other than that, I really wanted to swap my shirt. I had planned on swapping, then sweat checking my sweatshirt and my race shirt. However they were only doing “bag checks”. The difference being you have to provide your own bag. In other races, the race would provide a white bag, and they would write your name or bib number on it. I didn’t have a bag, so I walked back to my car to put away my sweatshirt and race shirt away. I looked all over the website and their Facebook page for any type of details about the “bag check”. It’s just one of those things that should be included on a “FAQ” page on their website.

I made it to the starting line with about 15 minutes to spare. Whew!


And I lined up near this time.


Once I found a good “spot” to stand, I saw all the runners coupled up (running buddies) chatting away. I looked around for solo runners or anyone I knew. Nope, nobody. NBD, but it would have been nice to have that. I decided to just focus on the race and enjoy myself. But it did make me think I need to start going to that Saturday running group and make some friends. Who knows? Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.

The race started on time! Another redeeming factor! Three cheers to the race directors for being prompt. I started out pretty steady. My first mile was around 10:10. I felt good, I wasn’t pushing too hard, and felt like I could keep this pace for a very long time. The beginning of the race was rolling hills under bridges. I think there were about 6 give or take. When I was reading other people’s race recaps I was expecting really difficult hills. These were not. I have done a ton of hill work, and these seemed so EASY PEASY. They only lasted about 1 mile, maybe less. After that you have a mile or two of flat pavement, then the rest is a flat hard packed trail. The entire race was pretty wide. 3-4 runners wide is very wide for a race on a trial. As long as you stayed on the hard packed parts, it was very even. There were some uneven spots, but not many.

I noticed I was keeping pace with the 4:30 pacer.


I ran behind her for about 7 miles. She was great at reminding everyone to drink at water stations. I didn’t bring a water bottle, and I drank at every station. They had them spaced out every 1-2 miles. She also kept cheering us on, when there was no crowd support. I love that. At one point I was running next to her, and she told me “you’re doing great!” and offered me a margarita shot blok. I declined, since I didn’t want to upset my stomach. This was around mile 6, and I also told her that I was JUST doing the half. She started. Cheering and said, “you’re half way there then, great job!” she was awesome! Thanks Kim Cooke for your motivation on this race! You rock!

Most of the race looked like this.


Once Kim cheered me on, I felt really pumped to go a little bit faster. At this point my miles were pretty consistent around 9:50’s. I took a Gu around mile 7, and felt awesome. I went a little faster I crept over into the 9:40’s for a mile or 2 for mile 9 and 10. Then I took another Gu at 10, which was a bad idea. I started cramping. The last 3 miles were hard. I just kept pumping those arms and was clocking even 10:00’s. And maybe even a 10:10. I just kept thinking “ok pass one more person, now pass one more person”. So I bunny hopped all the way to the end.

It was a down and back loop, so those same rolling bridge hills reared their ugly heads. I saw them and was passing people on them as I gained speed. I felt so pumped to finish under 2:15. I was repeating that number in my head when I lost focus. 2:15, 2:15, 2:15. You got this. Come on Tiff! 2:15!!

I passed the finish line and it said 2:14:20. I was ELATED! I caught my breath, and immediately started wondering what was the “official” time, since I started a min or 2 behind the start line.


I am still completely amazed with myself. That’s a full 8 minutes off my last PR. It makes me believe I can crush even the 2:12 time, if I work hard enough! And I really believe the last 3 weeks of Insanity really helped get me to that time. It really focuses on those same muscle groups you use for running. Amazing.

Post race there was a pancake breakfast, but the line was ridiculous. And I waited in it for about 10 minutes and didn’t move. I had snacks in mu car and ate some fresh fruit while I walked around. Then I went looking for the free beer. None to be found. I saw them setting up what looked like a beer garden. But it was far from being set up. Often times they can’t start pouring until after 10 or 11am. Which I think is so stupid. You finish the race, and you want a beer. Who cares what time it is. Stupid city ordinances.

The cool thing they did have after the race, was Whole Foods was sponsoring a veggie market. So you picked up a bag when you finished and they had buckets of fresh fruits and veggies. I grabbed big handfuls of everything. I might have been slightly unconscious, but I knew that stuff was free, and I wanted my share.


The bags were cool, they had this on the front.


I also picked up a few bags of pop chips, a 5 hour energy, and tasted some amazing kombacha (sp). I wish I would have taken a pic to remember what that kombacha looked like. The tangerine was to die for! I’m going to stop by Whole Foods tomorrow and try to pick some up.

And I saw Snoopy on the way out.


Overall Pro’s

The race was well organized.

There were plenty of port-o-potties (at the beginning and on the course) and volunteers.

The weather was absolutely perfect. It didn’t get above 65 degrees. I think that definitely attributed to my great time.

The race shirts were nice.

Great vendors at the end of the race.

The race itself was flat and fast. Perfect course for a PR.

The course was absolutely breathtaking.

The pacers were all amazing. I read lots of other shout outs about other pacers.

The crow support was great. It was on a trail, and they had schools come out and dress up and cheer us on. Very cool.


If the website says NO RACE DAY PICKUPS. Make that a thing. Don’t make exceptions. I’m still really pissed about this.

Have more info on their website about things like “bag checks”. I would have brought a bag, had I known.

Make the Expo more worth my time with better vendors.

My experience was an amazing one. And everything happens for a reason. I’m so excited about my new PR, and I can’t wait until my next half marathon. I think it will be at the end of October.



Oops I completely forgot to post a pic of the medal. Which was awesome! Super heavy and it spins! Love it!


13 thoughts on “Race Recap: Santa Rosa Half Marathon

  1. trikatykid says:

    OK so I haven’t been able to read this yet (at work) but I scrolled through photos. It’s exciting and I can’t wait to get a chance to read it later tonight!! Great job!!

  2. lslclr says:

    Great job on your PR! The race day pick up is such a pain — frustrating that they told you there wouldn’t be any, but as someone who missed pick up before a race and was completely denied pickup that day (so sad when you train so hard!) — I understand why they decided to have it! And it sounds like the after-race treats cancelled out the bad expo!! I’ve never seen pancakes OR whole foods!!

  3. The Landy says:

    Awesome effort, pity about the beer tent though. In the Coast to Coast race across New Zealand they hand you a beer as you cross the finish line. I wasn’t sure whether I’d want to drink it or not, I think I had three, okay I lost count after three!

    You lining up again soon!!

  4. Liz @ Run Fat Chick Run! says:

    Other than the whole “race day pick up snafu” it sounds like a fantastic event, although I might have been inclined to open a can of whoop ass on the lack of beer availability. Really, I think after a race like that beer and pancakes are essential. 😉 Congratulations on the new PR. That is absolutely fantastic!!!

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