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Sunday, March 24 , 2019, 10:56 am | Partly Cloudy 59º

Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank

Lift the Veil for the Kiss: Musings of a Marathoner

Reflecting on a race well-run brings appreciation for life lessons well-learned.


How many of the 365 days of the year will we vividly recount in years to come? How many moments are emotionally and physically charged enough to really be unforgettable? In actuality, “life” can be so encompassing that I fail to remember a great deal, but a veil was lifted from my eyes at the Santa Barbara Half Marathon, and the clarity of that vision, I will not forget.

Throughout the entire course on that misty morning, I saw encouraging crowds. People were everywhere — standing, sitting, cheering as they were driving (thanks Maggie), waving and smiling. I heard heartfelt support as we ran uphill, downhill and around windy turns.

With 12 miles behind me,  I was digging deep for the final stretch of the race with the spectators and announcer calling out names and last-moment shouts of “Go, go, go!” I felt a surge of energy in the joy of running, the love of people in the beautiful air of Santa Barbara paradise and the thrill of obtaining a precious goal.

After I finished, cooled down, and walked around, (oh, can’t forget that rubdown by an awesome masseur), I went back to the final strip where the runners were coming in feeling that deep satisfaction I’d just felt.  I saw finishers of all ages, all fitness levels and all body types. What I witnessed was a boundless determination on faces of people, all sorts of people that perhaps wouldn’t appear to be strong embodiments of athletic greatness. At that snapshot, photo-memory moment, the hackneyed cliché, “don’t judge a book by its cover,”  redefined itself to me in a language of permanent truth. Just like an unexpected flutter of the heart when blessings abound, my mind told me that by no means can we ever see someone’s pure heroism by a mere glance.

The world of running brings out the best in people. No calendar days truly unite all people. On Christmas, some aren’t Christian. On birthdays, some are Jehovah’s Witness and don’t celebrate. Yet magically, on race day, everyone supports everyone.

Sometimes in life, we are too focused on the end result and don’t savor the process. Thankfully, for me, every bit of the training was a reward in itself and the race was the wedding reception. What had made it so rewarding? The people, the passion, and the surprise realization that transformed a wave of my thinking! Each and every person who ran the Santa Barbara Half Marathon, that 13.1 miles, has a will to fulfill!

The Santa Barbara Half taught me to consider everyone capable of greatness.  Just looking at someone, we have no idea the possibilities that lie within them.  Appearance is often a fog … just like the wedding veil that needs lifting before the kiss.

Desa Marie Mandarino is a local teacher, coach, mother and athlete.

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