Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Big Sur International Marathon - The Beauty AND The Beast

Six days after running The Boston Marathon I took on the challenge of running The Big Sur International Marathon. Prior to being accepted into the Boston Marathon I signed up as a marathon participant for Big Sur. After being accepted as a charity runner, I confirmed my participation for the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge (presented by ASICS). That brought me to Saturday morning, the lovely 5 hour drive to Monterey on the central California coast. Jason was kind enough to drive me up and back over the weekend so I got to rest and try to catch up on some much needed sleep on the drive. I've been pretty exhausted since returning from Boston (I can't imagine why) so I've been staying hydrated and partaking in EnergyBits to keep myself healthy.

We arrived in Monterey around 1 PM on Saturday. The expo was pretty small compared to other expos and that was perfectly fine with me. Coming off of the Boston expo, a small expo was much appreciated. I went upstairs to Boston 2 Big Sur packet pick up which was very exciting. Now...a perk of being one of four hundred people that participates in the challenge is not only the bonus medal you receive, but an awesome ASICS track jacket that displays your Boston 2 Big Sur accomplishment. Well...due to an unforseen circumstance, the jackets were not ready. I was WAY bummed out. But the folks at the marathon and ASICS were not only apologetic, they helped to make it right. ASICS gave the B2B runners a gift certificate to mail in for a free pair of ASICS shoes of our choosing. THAT was really awesome. I didn't expect that. Our jackets will be delivered in the coming weeks along with the shoes we select. So, thanks ASICS! I then picked up my bus ticket for Sunday morning. The race itself starts at Big Sur station in the mountains. The roads are closed to private vehicles and the only way up is by bus and it takes an hour to get up there. I received a 4AM bus loading time...what's another early morning right?

After that I made my way down to the expo and did some light shopping. I mean what could I possibly need, I bought everything in Boston! I found some awesome ASICS gloves that I fell in love with and new nifty pouch I can use to store my fuel from the lovely folks at Roo Sports! I will review that later in the week. I picked up some throw away garments for the start line because in my sleep deprived state I didn't bring anything to bundle up in at the start area.

After some shopping and wandering I met up with my good buddy Bart Yasso at the Runner's World booth. Now some of you may be aware that Bart said he would treat me to coffee in Boston. We even have a hashtag #CoffeeWithBart! Well, due to both of our schedules being CRAZY we just couldn't link up...Bart made really good on his promise and treated me and awesome follower Sarah to Starbucks across the street. That was really fun! In case you didn't know, Bart is the best story teller.

After that we went and checked into the hotel, grabbed some lunch/dinner and winded down pretty early. I took a bath to help relax and prepped myself for the next day. I fell asleep and woke up at 3AM (joy.) I boarded the bus with my english muffin with peanut butter (NOMS), and took a window seat. Before I knew it I was asleep...again. I didn't realize how much I enjoyed sleep until last week. An hour later we arrived at Big Sur Station, the start of the marathon. It was still dark, and there was no cellular service. So I took a seat on the curb with the other participants and continued to think warm thoughts...and I think I took another nap.

When the sun started to come up, my my what a beautiful sight. I'm not the camping type...I prefer the spa but nature is so amazing first thing in the morning. Don't get me wrong I LOVE being out in nature and running in it, sitting in it, picnicking in it...I just don't wanna sleep in it lol. We all started to line up and get ready to get the marathon underway. The weather conditions couldn't have been better. No rain, a lovely cloud cover, heaven. I lined up with the 4:45 pace group. I did this knowing I wouldn't finish with them but to keep a consistent pace the first 10 miles of the course. The race began and the first 5 miles of the course were gradually downhill. We maintained a very comfortable pace, as to not blow out before the huge mountain we would have to climb for two miles at mile ten. The scenery was just break taking.

Redwoods and other familiar trees and plants surrounded us. Open rolling hills covered in lush green plants, grazing cows, crashing waves on the cliffs in the distance. This is probably the most scenic marathon I've ever run. Now she is a beauty of a course, but don't let her fabulous appearance fool you...she is a BEAST!

Arriving at mile 10 is where I took a big gulp and went for the awesome two mile climb to Hurricane Point. You are greeted by Japanese drummers (who were AWESOME) and they absolutely get you pumped up in preparation for the climb. This climb is the highest elevation gain and fastest gain on the course...you will feel this climb and it isn't nice. I stayed focused and walked/ran the hill the best I could. I knew I had 13 miles following this hill so I needed some muscle and stamina to finish this race. I eventually made it to the top of the hill and took a minute to just appreciate not only the breathtaking views but looking behind me to see what I just accomplished. I was so happy. In front of me was the race famous Bixby Bridge. Of course I touched the mile 13 marker and made my way across the bridge. My Garmin told me I was around 2:26 at the half way mark so I was pretty pleased with myself at this point. What I thought was cool was the really kick ass pianist that you could hear as you ran across the Bixby Bridge. Really a special moment on the course.

The remainder of the course was pretty much the same. Rolling hills and lovely views for the next 13 miles as I continued my quest toward Carmel. Along the way I saw some awesome homes along the cliffs, met some great runners who were working their hardest to beat the clock, and conversed with the course support (which was amazing). This race was all about the views. That's what makes her a beauty to behold. You can't see awesome coastal views like this on just any course. This course is special! There were points where I got chills just looking at the colors of the rock formations and ocean foam.

What makes this course a beast is the constant hills and elevation change. If you aren't used to that you will struggle here. This course does not hold back. For what you get in delicious candy for your eye you pay for on the hills and inclines.

All in all this course is FANTASTIC! It truly is a treat. No wonder the race sold out in under an hour! I crossed the finish line after giving Bart Yasso a high five at 5:44. I took it easy the last 5 miles. I was definitely feeling the fatigue and needed to save some juice for OC Marathon. I was already pushing it with this marathon 6 days after Boston.

I felt pretty good crossing the finish line but also had a lot of time to think while I was out on the route which is always a good thing. I find my mind is the clearest and most honest when I am running a race. Combine that with lovely sights of the central California coast and that creates a storm in my head. I have so much more to say about those thoughts and some of those I will share in a later post, others I will have to process on my own.

I hope you guys enjoyed the journey through the Big Sur marathon. I as always appreciate all of the encouragement and congratulations along the way. I try to respond to as many as I can so know you guys are absolutely appreciated and I can't do this without you...well I could but it would suck...so you guys are 100% important to me! Thanks! Next up, OC Marathon and my Runnerversary on Sunday!


  1. Congrats on this race buddy! It's on my list for sure!

  2. Way cool. You're a BEAST for doing 2 marathons 6 days apart but I'm so jealous of your experience. Epic!

  3. Loved the recap as usual! Congrats on finishing Boston and Big Sur with so little time off in between. Hopefully, I'll get to see you at the OC Marathon this weekend. I'm running the OC Half for the first time as part of the Beach Cities Challenge.

    Even though I know I'm not the first person to tell you this, but I've nominated you for a Liebster Award. So, if you have some time, come by my blog http://whyirundisney.com/2014/04/30/the-post-about-the-liebster-award/ and check it out.

  4. Has anyone received their Asics shoes yet?