Thursday, May 28, 2015

BIG SUR Race Recap

April 26th, 2015 we ran the famous Big Sur Marathon

Leading up to the marathon we learned that my Aunt Rita was not doing very well so I picked hot pink as well as a headband that said "Save them all big and small" to run in her honor. My first marathon was run in Packy's honor so it made sense to honor Aunt Rita. Big Sur was on my list after my friend Marci mentioned it in 2014 about the time registration was already sold out. We knew that 2015 was going to be our year and had alerts set for the 4 different days they would allow a couple hundred spots. 
I signed up for this race while wearing a boot and unsure when I would be allowed to run.  Smart? eh probably not but I REALLY wanted to go see California for the first time and it seemed so far away time wise. Coming towards the race I wasn't allowed to run in January as expected and the weeks faded away faster than my tan lines (let's face it my bike tan lines will NEVER fade).  ANYWAY my longest run pre-marathon was 10 miles, recommended? NO. But hey who likes to follow things like recommendations. 
I left to San Fran with the express orders to enjoy, take selfies and not over do it. 

How could I not stop and enjoy the view!?

The race starts at 6:40am and you have to take a bus to the start, the buses leave at 3am because they have to drive the whole course and make it back before the roads close. I woke up at 2:30am to have my hot cereal and then packed a bagel and my prerace Ucan in a throw away bag.  It was chilly and I really should  have taken advantage of the bag check or brought a throw away shirt but I didn't think how cold it would be. The bus ride was pitch black and it was kind of eerie to drive the course and know the long downhills would equate to LONG uphills on the run later.

We had fun waiting and reading silly signs on porta potties and talking to other runners and then suddenly it was time! As the sun started to rise I realized we were by a HUGE mountain and the view was breathtaking to think it had been there in the darkness the whole time. The race started with a nice rolling downhill and I tried to keep to a good consistent pace. I knew that the 600 foot elevation climb starting mile 10 and ending mile 12 was going to be my prime opportunity to walk and take my second Ucan dose so I tried to keep consistent running until then with one bathroom break.

If I am speaking honestly my foot/ankle started bothering me about mile 6ish but nothing horrible that made me think I should stop.  Was this a smart call? Maybe not but hey we each make our own journey and on this day I thought about my Aunt and how she had been facing immense pain and still going to work daily. The incline at mile 10 proved even greater than I had imagined and it was a fabulous time to take my ucan and reflect. My half marathon split was 2:38 which give the elevation gain was very respectable.

The wheels kind of came off a bit after that and I slowed for sure as my foot bothered me a bit more. By mile 20 I took advil from a delightful runner I had met who was completing a marathon in her 49th state.  Wow the people you meet can be so inspiring during these things. About mile 21 which was near a cut off I met two girls who were doing their first marathon and the one was near tears convinced she wasn't going to finish.  At that point I decided doing a run walk with them to encourage them through the wall was my purpose.

At mile 23 I had the most amazing strawberry I have EVER tasted in my entire life coupled with some fabulous cheering and ponies in tutus.  The crowd support was amazing considering there was no real way to get to the course unless you live along the Pacific Coast Highway. The view were amazing, nature is so powerful and beautiful and it was the perfect setting for the introspection that I needed to do.

I ran my heart out across that finish line, all the pain from my ankles was gone and I threw my hands up in the air and I had an even greater feeling than my first.  About 2200 feet of total elevation gain is no joke, I knew I was undertrained, I knew I just wanted to finish and I did.  It gave me a lot of confidence going into the ironman that I can gut out a marathon even when everything hurts. My Ucan worked very well, I started to get a bit hungry towards the end but it took me a bit longer than I had planned. Still working on the overall Ironman nutrition plan but feeling pretty dialed in.
Probably the coolest medal ever. 
I HIGHLY recommend Big Sur but HILL TRAIN.  The elevation is no joke but the view and people totally make up for it.  The road is very slanted and at times will probably cause some hip issues, especially toward the end.  The down hill grades can be very steep and I believe caused my ankle issues.  I think starting next year they are turning it into a total lottery but sign on up, I highly recommend it if you like a spring marathon!

My videographer and support!
I called after the race to tell my aunt that I finished and she passed away a few hours later. I know I honored her and continue to honor her by not slacking and never giving up, just the way she lived.


  1. That is such an amazing story. I am so glad you got to tell your aunt. What a tribute. You are pretty inspiring yourself.. Did those two girls finish?

    1. Yes they did! I ran ahead so they could each get a finish line photo alone. We took one picture together at the end. :)