We got into Monterey on Friday night and the race was on Sunday. This gave us a lot of time to explore the area which is so beautiful.
We spent Saturday at the expo, which had a good number of booths (loved chatting with the folks from Raw Threads! LOVE their clothing!). Once we were finished, we decided to go buy our new Samsung Galaxy S4 phones. It was a really good distraction to not get into my head too much before the race.
The one thing I struggled with with this race was since I was competing in the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge, whether I wanted to set some goals. I talked about this a bit before the race, but I really didn’t know what to expect. But of course, the competitor in me wanted to go for a PR…
Anyways, we had to get up bright and early on Sunday to catch the bus at 4 a.m.
The Athlete’s Village was much smaller than Boston (only 4,000 or so people run this race):
…but they had TONS of port-a-potties, and the best was all of the signs that they posted on them:
Everyone got a good laugh about them (sorry about the bad picture, it’s kind of creepy to take pictures of port-a-potties ha).
Before long, it was time to line up at the start… and I managed to be in the third row back from the actually line.
What in the world…? I’ve never been that close up front and was a little nervous. It was during these last few minutes that I figured out my strategy: just RUN. The course is super hilly so just go with it… don’t fight the downhills, battle when going uphill and most of all — enjoy the views.
The first few miles were foggy and downhill.
I think I was averaging 7:30s (which almost gave my fans at home a heart attack when they saw my splits, ha). Then we started to hit the hills around five or six. At the same moment, the fog started to lift… opening up for BEAUTIFUL views.
Seriously, the views along the course are breathtaking. I’ve never seen any so incredible.
The miles continued to tick by and suddenly we were approaching Hurricane Point. Before going up this 2 mile hill (yes, 2 MILES!), you pass a group of drummers who are AMAZING.
So then the hill is on you.
(the start of Hurricane Point)
This is where I started to lose time… I think I averaged a 9 minute pace as I went up the hill but I didn’t mind — I was pushing as hard as I could and enjoying the views at the same time.
Finally we were at the top… and our reward was to hear the awesome piano music. There is a man who plays the grand piano after you cross Bixby Bridge (the huge bridge way up in the air… don’t look down). It was a great reward to hear this music.
At this point, I was battling with the 3:35 pace group and finally passed them again, and overheard the pacer say the race was mostly downhill from now on out, with bigger hills at 16 and 24 (and a couple little “bumps” along the way).
Um, those definitely weren’t “little bumps.” Those were hills. Thank goodness for awesome views because I they were a great distraction.
Around mile 17, I decided to put the camera away and focus. Which was fine, because we started to go into more civilized areas around mile 21-ish. A few miles down, we also got the delicious strawberries that a family hands out… definitely an amazing treat at 23.5.
In the last mile, I started thinking about everything that happened at Boston — especially those people who weren’t able to finish their last mile of the race that they worked so hard to get to. This made me start crying, and when I crossed the finish line at 3:38.19, I was bawling. My bib distinguished me as a Boston 2 Big Sur Finisher, and I was greeted by representatives from Boston and Big Sur. I ended up giving the guy from Boston a huge sweaty hug, which made me feel so much better.
In all, Big Sur Marathon was an amazing and incredible experience. It is definitely a race that I will run again someday.
What to know about Big Sur
- If you want to run the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge, it fills up quickly. Registration for it opens when registration opens for Boston.
- Take your camera! This is the one marathon where I saw a TON of people stop to take the pictures. (I took all of mine while running.)
- Oh, the hills. There are TONS of hills. If you can’t handle a lot of hills, this may not be the race for you.
- It’s a small race with little spectator support… but the views and funny mile markers make up for it!
- Bottom line: You’ll love it.
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