Thursday, May 1, 2014

2014 Big Sur International Marathon Part 2 - Race Recap

Oh BSIM how I love you! This is the third year that I've ran this race but this time was hands down my favorite.  It was by far and away a PW for me but also without question one of my happiest races to date.  I'm going to try my very best to keep this as short as possible but I have to warn you that this is going to be one picture heavy post.  Sorry but I'm not sorry.  Ready? Here we go....

It was a super early wake-up call on race morning.  3:00 AM to be exact!  After hemming and hawing I switched out my shorts and compression socks for capris, a decision I would later regret.  I headed out the door at 3:45 AM to get to the shuttles but it was way too early for me to get any food into my system so I took it with me.  I met up with 5 other RFRC'ers and by 4:15 AM the shuttle was on it's way to the start line.  Despite the early time, there was a lot of chatter on the shuttle (I'm guessing everyone had some nervous or excited energy to get out).  I passed the time trying to choke down my banana and bagel with almond butter and chatting with my friends.  Before we knew it, we were at the starting line area.

We all hopped off the shuttle and immediately headed for the porta potties (hooray for no lines!) then searched for the rest of our RFRC crew.  Thankfully, we found them pretty easily near the Runner's World Challenge flag.  We chatted with everyone and we all mentioned how unusually warm it was.  It was a preview of the weather to come!  After a while a few of us broke away for one more potty stop before the race started.  We got back just in time to take a group pic and head over to the start line.

Some of the RFRC crew

RFRC selfie at the start line

Once at the start line we listened to the National Anthem, heard a few words from our race announcers and Deena Kastor and then we were off!  Big Sur's first 10 miles are dangerous because they're mostly downhill so it's easy for runners to go faster than they should.  I made sure to hold back my pace and took the first 10 miles nice and easy.  But man was it warm!  There wasn't even a cooling breeze like there usually was.  I was sweating within the first mile and I instantly regretted switching out my shorts for capris.  Nevertheless, I was able keep my pace exactly where I wanted it at about a 10:30 min/mile.

Running selfie with Kelly

Then I hit the base of Hurricane Point, right before mile 10, where the taiko drums were sending everyone off for their two mile climb.  I made a quick stop at the drums and helped send a few runners up the hill.  So much fun!

A little further up the hill was the mile 10 marker. 2 miles up!

At the mile 10 marker I ran into my friend Danni and we tackled Hurricane Point together.  Having someone to chat with definitely made the uphill climb go a lot faster.  We reached the summit of Hurricane Point and could hear the lovely sound of the grand piano.  I took a quick look behind me to marvel at beauty of the hill we just conquered and then turned forward to take in the the magnificent Bixby Bridge.

We then started on the one mile downhill towards towards the halfway point on Bixby Bridge.  Danni is a phenomenal downhill runner and charged but I wanted to save my quads for the downhills on the second half of the course so I took a more conservative pace.  Of course, I had to stop and take a selfie with the grand piano and Michael Martinez in the background.

Caught taking pics

 After Bixby is where the course starts to get interesting.  You're treated to gorgeous views but also non-stop rolling hills.  You're either going up or going down.  Needless to say by this point I was quite content to take it nice and easy and I didn't hesitate to stop and take a picture along the way when I felt the need (I haven't mastered the whole running and taking pictures with my iPhone thing yet).

I ran across the highway just to grab a pic with these two cuties

As I was stopped on the side of the highway taking a picture a little past the mile 18 marker, my friend Michele caught up to me.  Michele was having a tough race and was in pain thanks to the relentless hills so I decided to stick with her for the rest of the race.  We kept moving forward, chatting along the way and walking when Michele needed to.  I think the camber in the road at this point was really starting to affect our running.  If you're not careful you can really hurt yourself trying to run on that angle but we both made sure to either run in the middle of the road or towards the sides where it was flatter.  I also played race paparazzi and would either stop to take a pic then run to catch up with Michele or I would run forward to take a pic then wait for Michele to catch up.  As you'll see below, I took a whole lot of pics (these are just a choice few):  

 Mile 23 marked one of my favorite parts of the race: the strawberry tables!  I had been raving about how delicious the strawberries were and how much I couldn't wait to have some since mile 20 so once the tables were in sight I left Michele's side and sprinted towards them (sorry Michele!).  They were sooo good and refreshing!


This little girl was in charge.  I asked for a sassy pose and she did this.

After a quick wave and thank you to all of the volunteers, I reluctantly left the strawberry tables and rejoined Michele to finish the course.  We passed Point Lobos chatting with our fellow runners, some from other states and one who chose to run Big Sur as her very first marathon!

Point Lobos

Soon we were at mile 25 and face to face with the last real hill in the race.  It's funny how quickly people who were chatting happily only moments before suddenly become angry cursing individuals when faced with a mile that they need to run up at mile 25.  We got up and over and started speeding up towards the finish.  Once we hit the mile 26 marker we turned on the speed and sprinted in for the last .2 and across the finish line.

That's exactly how I felt too.  Stupid hill at mile 25!

I was apparently too focused on the finish to notice our friend with the camera

Official finisher!

As soon as we crossed that finish line, we grabbed our box of post-race grub and headed straight for the recovery zone at the Treadmill where we met up with the rest of the RFRC group.  One of the perks of this race is the recovery zone set up with an ice bath pool, recovery drink station, ice cream cart and every kind of roller known to man.  I immediately gulped down some C12 Recovery and grabbed some ice cream while Michele dunked herself in the ice bath pool.  We then proceeded to chat with everyone about their race experiences and happily munched on the goodies from our grub box.  Once everyone had eaten, ice bathed and rolled we all shuffled over to the shuttles that would take us back into Monterey.

Happy marathoners

I love this medal

I loved this race experience so much.  I had so much fun and there was no time pressure so I truly got to enjoy everything BSIM had to offer.  Sure, a part of me wonders what I could have done had I actually tried to truly push pace and "race" but I have no regrets.  I wouldn't change how I ran this race for a second. 

There are some races that are meant to be run fast, to truly be raced, so that we can see to what limits our bodies can be pushed.  This was not one of those races.  This race was meant to be enjoyed, to savor each step and each moment.  This race was a journey and epic adventure.  And I can't wait to run it again next year!

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