Monday, May 6, 2013

Big Sur Race Report

Two weekends ago I ran the Big Sur Marathon & I suppose I should say something about it. This was marathon #12 after all, and, as with my previous Big Sur experience, this was basically another non-marathon-turned-marathon. It seems like maybe I was keeping this race a secret, but I promise I was not -- I really had no plan to run it.

For the second time in my long life, I was signed up for the Big Sur 21-mile race. My plan was to walk the 21-mile course until Courtney, who was running the full, caught up to me, and then finish her race with her. And for the second time, I somehow magically got upgraded to the sold-out full (in 2011, I upgraded 12 days before the race, and last weekend I upgraded the day before the race). Both times I ran the marathon not really prepared to, but with a solid base of fitness under my belt, and both times having a really magical time.

This marathon fell in a peak week of my San Francisco Marathon training plan, and in my mind, the more miles I got, the merrier I'd feel. (Well, that's what I thought until I hit the extra 5.2.) After a massive week of big miles (for me) and a shake-out run before the race, Courtney and I headed down to Monterey, CA, for really crappy pizza, a solid 3 hours of sleep, and arguably the prettiest marathon in the world.

We sat on a fart-laden bus for about an hour, then sat in the cold for another 2 hours. Then we ran a marathon.

Since this race wasn't a "race" for either of us, we took our time, took pictures, took videos, stopped, stretched, and sat in awe of where we were in that exact moment. I wish all the pictures we took did the background of this race some justice -- so I will say instead, just once in your life, go run this race & see what everyone raves about for yourself. 

I know last year it was shrouded in a cold, miserable fog, but this year we had decent temps, prettttttttty minimal headwind (we were definitely smacked by wind from all 4 directions most of the time, but I can only think of a few seconds where I hated life), and really beautiful views the whole way. 

It's soooo pretty!

You'd think these views only come from vacations. NO. They come from marathons, too. Soooo pretty.

When I ran Big Sur in 2011, there was a weird Hwy 1-falling-into-the-ocean accident and the course was rerouted to an out-and-back for safety's sake. As a result, I never got to run the famous Hurricane Point -- a 2-mile uphill portion with super strong headwinds -- or across the gorgeous Bixby Bridge. I was so excited this year that I actually got to do it! Courtney & I powered up the hill, toward our sweet Bixby Bridge reward at the end of the climb. 

It was hands down my favorite part of the course. Slowest, definitely. But the best best best.

Photo courtesy of Kristen

At the end of Bixby Bridge is Michael Martinez, Big Sur grand pianist extraordinaire. I saw this kid at the expo and like a weird fan, I screamed, "Can't wait to see you tomorrow!" giddily. I ran away in embarrassment before he could respond to me.

And like an awkward teenage girl, I was too afraid to approach him at the race. I would have loved a pic with him, but he was too busy HOLDING CONVERSATIONS AND KEEPING RHYTHM AT THE SAME TIME.

He was playing "Hallelujah" as we ran by, and if I weren't so dehydrated, I would have actually shed some tears while I cried. Instead, I had a few weird dry-sob moments, where I exclaimed "This sh!t is so f#ck!ng beautiful, I can't stand it." I got a couple looks. :|

The course is SOOOO FRIGGIN' PRETTY. Pics aren't conveying this here. :(

Courtney & I ran together for the first 20 miles. She was having some major IT band issues and needed to stop and stretch quite a bit. She was gracious enough to send me off, as the stopping & starting on the hills was killlling my quads. Instead of getting injured myself, I pulled the ultimate dick move & left my friend. Thank you, Courtney, for not holding this against me. ;)

(I am a terrible person for leaving the friend who's stuck by me through so much, and will probably never be invited to run a marathon with her ever again.)

These tiny specs on the left are cows. THE LUCKIEST GOD DAMN COWS IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD. The course is so pretty and those cows just LIVE THERE! On the edge of the country! By the ocean and off the cliffs!


Coming into Monterey, CA, toward the finish, just as it was getting pretty toasty out. The course is so, so pretty.

I finished my marathon-lengthed training run, immediately hopped into the massage tent, ate some cookies and beer like a good little runner-bee, and tracked down Courtney before heading back to SF. It was a wonderful, simply divine weekend. (Especially when I went to sleep at like 8p.m. that night.) 

Seeing that we were around the 4:30 pace group when I ditched out on my marathon buddy at mile 20, I'm pleasantly shocked at how much time I made up on a dead legged/peak week, hard course, not marathon-ready, casual run.

Big Sur is a very Boston-runner-friendly race, thanks to the Boston-2-Big Sur Challenge. We saw lots of Boston runners, supporters, and colors. <3

Marathon #12 proooooobably couldn't have been any better, and I friggin' loved it. LOVED it. It's soooo pretty. 

The end.