Thursday, May 2, 2019

Big Sur Marathon 2019 Race Re-Cap

With all the time that seemed to lay unfurled, like a red carpet leading me to some far off destination, I can't believe it's now come and gone. There's no more carpet, hills, self-doubts, or worries this week. There's also no more waiting in excited anticipation when time seems to slow down and you don't really know if you should worry or feel like a kid in a candy store. If you've ever anticipated anything with equal parts excitement and trepidation, you know the feeling - the one where an hour glass seems to take five hours to empty, no matter how hard you try to ignore it. You go about your day and your motions out of habit, knowing that soon you will test yourself in a different way than ever before. For so long this one moment, this one point in time, was my future. Now in a heartbeat it's become the past, leaving only sore legs and memories in its place. It's a strange feeling, but to rip off the master playwright, "this, too, shall pass". It's now time to sit down with paper and pen in earnest and make a list of my next goals, since goals are funny that way.

But first, race re-cap! 

I don't know what sane person would be ecstatic that they "won" the lottery to run 26.2 miles, but here I am and here we all are, so here's my take on the race. 

I love to read other blogs, and other race re-caps along with them. However, to save you from reading an entire book length post I won't talk about what to expect at every mile (there are PLENTY of re-caps discussing this - and even a You Tube video where you can watch an entire drive through of the route, not that a video will really prepare you...).

Pre Race

With my matcha green tea frapp w/coconut milk (yum!) waiting for the plane. 
I got here early to avoid traffic on a Friday morning.
On Thursday, April 25th I flew in to San Jose where I met my boyfriend at the airport (we are long distance, and always have been, so we fly in from different parts of the country).

We got our rental car (he was super excited since it was a Jeep), checked into our hotel and found a hot pot place close by for lunch. Hot pot is amazing, and ever since he introduced me to it in San Francisco I've been loving it. You basically sit in front of a table with a burner on it, choose your broth type or a split and your ingredients. They bring you a pot of broth, put it on the burner, and as soon as it's all nice and bubbly you start putting things in a little at a time and cooking them. I highly recommend trying a hot pot place if you haven't.

Our Hot Pot destination a la Silicon Valley!
The COOLEST gas station chain ever lol!

Our hot pot soup base (spicy), before it started bubbling. It smelled amazing. 
After hot pot we got bubble teas and checked out a little more of Silicon Valley.

The weather was AMAZING there and everything was so beautiful. I LOVED how the houses were all different and the yards on most were amazing. It's very different from seeing the same boxes everywhere.


On Friday we got up early and made the hour and a half drive to Monterey, CA to check into our hotel and pick up our race packets at the expo. The Expo was really cool- it's located closer in town so parking was difficult, but that's to be expected. There were so many people there in their Boston Marathon regalia, it was so cool to see since I've never been to Boston.

When you don't realize half you shirt isn't tucked in. Photoshop? lol

It's not the biggest expo I've seen but not the smallest either. There were some fun vendors there, and it was awesome to look around. Traveling with a backpack did wonders for my wallet however, as it limited me in my purchases. No post-race icy treatment cream for me, thank you. We took some pictures, looked around, got our packets and even shopped for some pretty expensive Big Sur merch, which neither of us normally does, but this was a special race. 😃 There were also Lululemon capris for sale that looked so thick and amazing, but I can't justify the $110 price tag. No judgement to anyone who has shelled out this type of cash- they're amazing clothes, but for me, I feel like I can run just as fast in $40 capris. Maybe one day. #goalleggings

There were lots of photo ops
***Just a note if you are running this race - the women's shirts run SUPER TINY. I got a small, which I normally am in everything, and it might- MIGHT- have fit a little kid. But no worries, at 5pm we were allowed to come back and exchange it for whatever size we wanted, so I did that while my bf circled the block a few times in the Jeep. From there my bf found an AMAZING place to eat lunch. Let me just say this- I used to think a sandwich was just a sandwich, but it most definitely is not. He is so talented at finding some of the best places to eat, and this was no exception. I might talk about it in a future blog, but since you're probably not here to read about food I'll keep this to the race. 😋

Check out this view tho 😍
Monterey, CA

Heading back with our sandwiches to find a place to sit outside and eat.

We found a beach park a mile down the road! Picnic time!!

Watching scuba practice
This beach is THE place in central California for learning to scuba dive. 
The last of the classes were out and about.

Because I'm "center-pin-bib" challenged. He helped me out 😁

 Race Day

It's race day!!!!

On race day we woke up bright n' early at 3:00 am. We got ready, headed downstairs with other like-minded groggy runners to eat oatmeal and bananas provided by the hotel for this race - THANK YOU Hilton Garden Inn! You guys are the BEST!-, and walked the half mile to the college to catch our bus to the location. Since the location won't allow for parking or cars of any kind on race day, everyone was on the bus. The college entrance was even turning away cars, so we were glad we didn't try to drive to the parking lot there. At the expo we were given bus passes and told that if we didn't have them we wouldn't have bus access, but no one checked any passes going or coming. I guess they figured the only people crazy enough to wake up at 3 AM and get on a bus would be the runners. They did have a race official step onto each bus and make sure we all knew which distance bus we were on.

The bus dropped us off right at the starting line.

The trip out by bus took a little over an hour. When we got off it was about 50 degrees, and we made a B-line for the port-o-potty's since we knew those would be in high demand later. They also had a spread of bagels and coffee which was awesome.

The race had several waves, and we were in wave B. I've read past race re-caps talking about the issues with a small starting area, but I feel the opposite. To me, the starting line felt like any other smaller race. This year they did change the beginning portion of the route, so it may be because of that, but we had no issues whatsoever.

The first few miles were all downhill and surrounded by Redwoods and what I consider forest, and after those first few when the coastline begins to show its face the elevation also begins to get steadily higher. The views were out of this world though! There were some pretty hardcore times when I felt completely defeated, then I would turn a corner hoping the elevation would drop only to see runners curving their way steadily up onto higher and higher twists and turns. It reminded me of this famous artist whom I had loved as a kid. This artist drew black and white renderings of cars in impossible situations on roads - driving on loop the loops, ascending impossibly high bridges, dropping off roads that ended on cliffs into nowhere, etc. I used to have a calendar of this artist who I can't remember, and I loved staring at that art. Being in Big Sur made me feel like I was in that calendar.

I must say that being from Oklahoma and then Texas I never knew what a real hill was, even when I was going to school in San Marcos and later in Madrid. What I thought were tough hills until last weekend had been replaced by a true version of a hill. We call them mountains in Texas. This is what we ran over and over, accented by roads that (smartly for water drainage purposes but not so much for running) weren't level 90% of the time. The level of difficulty just in that regard was extremely high.

My favorite part of this race were the mile markers. Each mile marker was a funny picture, person doing something or saying. My favorite was the mile marker that had two Kenyans saying, "In my country we call that walking." I would have loved to snap a photo of every mile marker but I definitely wouldn't have finished lol!

Feeling defeated on my first "real" hill. 

Second wind? Somewhere lol
Another bunch of favorites during the race were the Taiko Drummers; you can hear them for at least a half mile before you see them drumming away. Another was the piano player in the tux playing music on the grand piano out over the cliffs at about mile 13. When we got there and took a few pictures he was playing a beautiful song that my boyfriend said was from Forrest Gump when they throw the flowers.

The first part of the race had the giant uphill climbs, while the second half had the gently rolling hills. Since almost no part of the road in either was flat under foot, both halves were equally challenging. I now understand the importance of not stopping during a race, even if I have to slow down to a shuffle. We implemented this in the second portion of our race and I think that honestly saved us. I could tell my bf wanted us to go faster, but I was in hill shock and getting more and more frustrated by the mile. The gently rolling second half made me feel a bit better.

Mile 25 has a giant blue blow up portion you go under that resembles a finish line (but you KNOW by your watch that it's NOT), telling you that you only have the 1.2 miles left, which by that time meant that the entire lower portion of my body would not have to be on fire for much longer (while running at least). There was a sign from the race sponsor, Hoka, that read "You could be running on marshmallows right now.", and boy did I wish I was running on marshmallows. I had a blood blister that was at the time a random pinch, and feet that felt like they were going over hot pokers. That marketing at mile 25 was a winner. Hoka is now on my mind. We ended up coming in at 6 hours and 1 minute. We got our medals and photos, and a new found determination to get a better time in this race at some point. Overall, I can't wait to run this race again and after thinking through the challenges, I feel inspired to continue to press on. I didn't think my body would be capable of something like this and - UM, WOAH - it WAS! My world still remains shocked and rocked by the knowledge that I can get better at something I thought was entirely impossible. Mentality can be everything, ya'll.

Overall - I HIGHLY recommend this race. I would NEVER have dreamed of wanting to run it again at miles 8-26, but give it a few minutes after hitting the finish line and we both want a repeat!

After the Race

After we finished and got our medals, photos and food we realized that the last bus was about to leave to take us back to the college. We unfortunately had to skip the beer garden and hobble as fast as we could to the busses. We got on, rode the 20 or so minutes back to the college and awkwardly lunged (luckily on mostly flat sidewalk) like people whose legs were on fire back to the hotel to take a shower, go back to our newfound sandwich shop for sandwiches, pear ale and a GIANT piece of chocolate oreo cake to share, drove back to the room and filled a big bag up with the cold stuff and iced our legs till the cows came home while watching a movie and eating. It was the perfect race ending if you ask me.

Celebrating with Pear Ale and Oreo double chocolate cake! YUM! 
(And I couldn't even finish half lol!) 

Going Home

I was secretly worried that I would be the only one hobbling around at the airport, and not able to easily take off my shoes at security, but when we arrived back to San Jose the next day to turn in the rental and catch our flight, that was definitely not the case. At the gas station a woman in extreme pain was getting in and out of her car, and inside the airport (we got lucky and had gates next to each other), there were SO many people wearing Big Sur or Boston gear, so it was pretty cool.

On the plane ride back I sat next to a family who, based on the husband's top, ran this race. Their kid was sitting next to me. He was nice and well behaved and his parents kept him satiated by giving him an assortment of airplane purchased kid-friendly junk food. I could have done without seeing him play with the boogers he picked out of his nose though. I looked away from my book for a split second and saw it. He actually had one in EACH hand that he was rolling back and forth like it was play dough. GROSS. I wanted to throw up and was so happy to de-plane at the end that I willed my legs to work as fast as they could. I saw them again at baggage claim as I was walking out to my shuttle, and again as they boarded the exact same shuttle lol!

Aside from that last little part I would definitely recommend this race to anyone willing to tackle a hill (or two, or three...). I came away from this with a newfound love of hills (it's a bit of a love/hate thing, but mostly love), inspiration and determination to push myself more, and the knowledge that if you and your boyfriend/girlfriend can run a tough marathon together and still be cool at the end, nothing can stop you. 😍😎

Now get out there and push yourselves!!!!! Oh- and have a great rest of your week. 😊

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