What an amazingly memorable (and tiring) Sunday! Yesterday, I ran the Big Sur International Marathon for the first time. It was my third marathon so for, and I was bubbling with excitement because I heard the course was beautiful.
I knew ahead of time that I would not be PR-ing this course. It was actually scheduled in as one of my “long runs”.
Anyways, I’ll just show you some of the eats on Saturday. I ate brunch with Joe, loading up on them carbs at Country Inn (note: don’t order the waffles. I can’t believe that little thing cost nine bucks).
And I had dinner in Cannery Row with some Running Addicts. It looks so very romantical:
I don’t know why I ordered the Cioppino. So much seafood, and no pasta! But at least I was able to eat like eight pieces of bread with it, hehe.
Fast forward to Sunday morning. We start getting up around 2:30 am. We each got ready and headed out the door by 3:30 am. Caught the bus which took us to the start. It took about an hour, and I think I dosed off for the second half of it.
Once we got to the starting area, we sat between some cars, which kept us pretty warm by blocking off the early morning breeze.
They had hot coffee and plenty of porta-potties there, and so we were all able to take care of the “pre-race runner business”.
The race started at 6:45 am, and I had some plans to follow Tammy (but she is insanely fast, so I wasn’t going to beat myself up if I couldn’t keep up):
Also, if it hadn’t been for Tammy, I would have been freezing. Like a noob, I didn’t bring gloves or throwaway clothes or trash bags or anything!
The race started, and Tammy was pretty much gone in the first mile. HAHA. So I decided to just stick around with the 3:45 pacer:
It looked to me like he was really experienced… and he also looked like he was jogging. Anyways, the first 6 miles are all downhill. The BSIM guide said that most people go out super fast and then have to make up for it in the later miles. I would be totally guilty of that. Then again, I knew I wasn’t going to PR, and I brought my camera along to take pictures for when my quads would be trashed and I would have to walk a bunch.
Mile 1-6: 8:30, 8:16, 8:02, 8:10, 8:24, 8:18. <— I didn’t look at my watch much. I just ran however I wanted.
Hey, look. Cows:
The first several miles were kind of a blur. I do remember getting excited about seeing the ocean and the uphills ahead.
Miles 7 to 9: 8:29, 8:45, 8:45. We were starting to climb. Pinocchio lied to me:
This was where we would start climbing up to Hurricane Point. Everyone always talks about this huge climb when I ask them about Big Sur Marathon. You can kind of see how it is a steady uphill… but this is from like a mile away, so that uphill was going to be loooong:
Come toward the beginning part of the ascent:
You know you’re about to climb when you see the iconic taiko drummers:
And here is the view as we were climbing:
Miles 10 through 12: 8:07, 10:04, 9:41.
I made it through without walking. I just slowed the pace and kept climbing at a comfortable pace. And the downhill was oh, so sweet!
Around this time is when I started talking to a lady who was climbing the giant hill with ease. We started talking on the downhill that followed Hurricane Point, and came up to some more iconic BSIM checkpoints.
The Bixby Bridge:
And the piano guy who plays at the half marathon mark:
^Isn’t it funny that people were lining up to take pictures with him?
Anyways, the lady, who I got to run around 8 miles together with, is an incredible woman. Her name is Cheryl and she swam the English Channel in the 90’s!
I now understand why some marathons prefer no music/MP3 players while running. If I had my music with me, I would not have gotten to talking to anyone, and I would have missed out on an opportunity to learn about Cheryl. She and I were totally enjoying the beauty of this course:
^I love these signs!
Miles 13 through 18: 8:27, 8:30, 9:02, 8:55, 8:19, 9:03.
It was all rollers from there, and though I did not look at my watch very often, I now see that I did okay on them, considering that I did ZERO HILL TRAINING, haha.
Also, I stopped and walked at every single aid station. I wasn’t going to PR, so there was no point in spilling all the Gatorade on myself like I usually do.
Miles 20 through 23: 9:11, 9:15, 10:02, 9:42.
At this point, there were a couple more rollers and other people started walking on the uphills and jogging down the downhills (actually, that started around mile 21 or 22). My quads felt shredded, especially around my hip flexors. I didn’t really push myself, too hard. I jogged up when I could and power-walked when I needed to.
Since it was just my muscles that were hurting and not my breathing, I was able to thank all the volunteers (pretty much during the whole race. They were all so awesome!):
^OMG, the race was almost done. I chuckled at this sign, hehe.
Miles 24 and 25: 10:06 and 9:28.
Even in the last mile, I just felt like walking a good portion of it, so I didn’t pick up the pace. Up to mile 26, the pace was 9:55.
As soon as I saw this sign, I picked up the pace:
And here I am drawing near to the finish (I could hear the crowd going wild!):
Last quarter of the mile: 7:54.
How did I do overall?
3:55 and some change. I guess I made the course a tiny bit longer than needed (running on the outer edge? I dunno). Anyways, it was an average pace below 9:00, which I was really surprised about!
I refueled with some chocolate milk and a bag of fruit as I drove back up to San Jose for church. OMG, it was such an amazing race!
Okay. Here is a REVIEW of the race with some of the key points:
Course: Spectacular views! If you’re a picture-taker, you should just run this for fun and be snapping photos the whole time. It’s gorgeous! Of course, it would be good to train on some hills so your body can get used to not only the uphills, but the DOWNHILLS. Those were really killer at the end of the race.
Organization: Very well organized! It started right on time (6:45 am), I never felt like an aid station was too far away, the bus rides to the start and the bus back to where we parked were all run very smoothly, and the entertainment throughout the course was all great.
Weather: It was around mid-to-high 40’s at the start and in the 50’s as the race progressed. There were some parts that would have been cold without my long-sleeved tech-t (which I took off in the last couple of miles). There were only a few segments where the winds were gusting so hard that I started hyperventilating. I don’t know why those gusts make me incredibly nervous like that. There were also some headwinds as we were climbing. Messed up, I know. Luckily, it was not the whole time.
Volunteers/Spectators: There were locals who were out and cheering, and there were LOTS of volunteers! They were all great supporters/cheerleaders and very friendly :). The race would not be possible without them.
Post-race: They had bags with lots of fruits and chocolate milk to pick up on the way out of the finish area. I didn’t actually stay very long to see all of the vendors, but there were a lot of tents set up. I know they also offered massages and stuff, which would have been much-needed after a race like that!
Swag/expo: They did a virtual race bag, which I didn’t check out. Also, I got to the expo about 20 minutes before it closed, so I don’t have much to say about these categories. Oops. But I heard that their expo is really great, with lots and lots of vendors.
What makes this race unique: They had their own touches of fun from the very beginning of the race. I’m talking about putting funny notes on the porta-johns that said things like, “For cat-lovers only”, “8:00-pace changing room only”, “Bonus airline miles in this stall”. And you got to see some of the signs on the mile markers. Instead of a simple number, they had something funny on each of them!
This would have to be my favorite marathon so far… then again, the only other one I’ve done is CIM, so this might not be saying much.
ANYWAYS, if you love courses like this, DOOOOOO IT. But make sure you register as soon as they open for registration. This is one of those races that sells out super fast (like… in less than a day). I know they offered other distances, such as 21-mile, 9-mile, 5-mile? And also a relay, if you want to take baby steps toward completing this whole course.
Long recap, yeah? Hope you enjoyed it 🙂