Vandy Montana and I got up at 2:45 and immediately started getting things ready for the race. We packed a huge ass bag of random crap*: bananas, yogurts, gatorade, zingers (obviously for Vandy Montana, not me), etc. We had planned to eat our breakfast on the long shuttle ride to the start of the race.
Which brings me to this point about Big Sur... If you're not a morning person... you probably wouldn't like this race, logistically. You have to be shuttled to the start. Which is... 26.2 miles away (actually a little further than that, because the shuttle pick-up isn't at the finish line...). The first shuttle picks up at 3:45 and the last shuttle leaves at like 5:00 or something. Being the always anal about being early people that we are (probably one reason Vandy Montana and I are such good friends) we were standing outside waiting to be picked up by the shuttle at 3:40.
We got on the school bus. And we got the HUMP seat. You remember the hump seat, right? It's the seat with a wheel under it. Ugh. so, yeah, I had to ride bitch-style for an hour before a marathon. Meanwhile, we sat there eating our yogurts (without spoons), bananas, Vandy Montana ate his zingers. And we chit-chatted and talked loudly the entire ride, obnoxiously keeping anyone in the back of the bus awake. Totally my style, of course.
Once we got to the start it was still dark and about 5am. We still had almost 2 hours to kill. We decided to hit up the porta potties first and on the way, I attempted to throw away the yogurt cups and got chastised by a recycling nazi. Hey, it's not my fault it's 5am in the morning, and so dark that I can't read the various instructions on each can you've got there. I mean... you're standing there... isn't that your job to tell me where it's supposed to go instead of watch me throw it away and THEN make me feel guilty??
I told him I was from Mississippi, shrugged and ran away. And then avoided him like the plague on the walk back from the porta potties, afraid that his eco-conscience eyes would burn holes in my soul if he laid eyes on me again.
We chit chatted with some various folks until it was time to start lining up.
The sun was coming up... the weather was warm-ish and the was little wind and no fog to speak of. A RARE race start for Big Sur's 25th running.
Contrary to what most of you are probably thinking right now.. I actually had a plan for this marathon. And more than just a plan to PR... I had a plan to start the first few miles slow and then to accelerate after Hurricane Point (a hill of about 4% grade and about 2 miles long). When it finished at mile 10, I was going to smoke it on that downhill and bust my ass the rest of the way and PR like a rockstar.
So, I started out with the 4:30 group.
Like most races these days, the beginning of the race was CROWDED.
My first mile was 10:00. It was at this point, after listening to the 4:30 pacer yell at the group about "saving it on the downhills till later" and other really annoying bits of advice constantly I decided to ditch those guys.
I took off and eventually caught up to the 4:15 group.
All was good. The first few miles were kinda boring... but as we got out of the forest and started seeing the coast line, I started to get exhiliarated.
People were stopping along the way, to take photos... I was starting to tell that this was going to be a FUN race. Not just a beautiful one.
By the time you got to mile 7, you came around a corner and down a hill and you could see Hurricane Point looming ahead and as soon as I caught a glimpse of it, I laughed out loud. The thing looks massive. And at it's base was a group of women playing some huge ass drums..
It was awesome... the deep, bass-tones of the drums were so foreboding... and it gave you a simultaneously great and creepy feeling as you started up the hill. It was my understanding that this was really the only major hill on the course and that after it, it was pretty much flat or downhill. (I REALLY need to learn how to read those elevation maps, apparently). So, I just slowed down a little and chugged up the hill.
To be honest? I didn't really think anything of it. I never cracked a 10:00/mile pace while climbing... and I do that all the time in Percy Warner Park. So... once we got to the downhill, I was feeling awesome. Like I could really PR that day.
I stopped at a porta potty at top of the hill and then took off again... I was feeling good and loving the views... (I totally wish I took my camera with me.. but who has time to snap pictures when you're trying to PR? All these pics were stolen from their site and are from 2009's race. My race was REALLY sunny).
I was really enjoying the race at this point and by the time I hit the half-way point at Bixby Bridge, I clocked an 8:57 mile for the downhill.
As I rounded the corner and could see the bridge I immediately heard the sounds of the Rocky theme song wafting through the air...
It was awesome. This was the race I was hoping for.
For the next couple of miles I knew that it was time to start picking it up, but everytime I tried, there would be another hill or a windy part of the course. I didn't panic yet though.. there was still time and my legs were feeling fresh.
Now, let me tell you about someone that was running around the same pace as me... from about mile 5 through the finish there was this one guy running the same pace as me.. I would pass him on the uphills and he'd pass me at the water stations... it was a constant ying and yang. Back and forth. And this guy was your typical annoying race guy.
You know the type... Mister I've Ran 100 Marathons and I'm Going to Flirt with Every Girl and Crack a Joke with every Guy and be a General A-Hole for the Entire 26.2 miles.
Yeah. That guy. Ever girl he encountered (including me the first time) he sidled up to them and tried to chit chat his way into their running shorts and when he'd finally get the hint that the girl was Soooo not interested, because A. it was a freaking RACE and B. Clearly the dude's a total D-bag, he'd go annoy some dude who had stopped to walk..."Are you okay???" Dude. Get a Grip. People take walk-breaks in marathons. Not everyone needs your immediate attention.
Every Race Official that we ran past he'd make some joke like.. "I thought this was supposed to be a flat course." Or... "Where are the hills everyone keeps talking about.?."
Ugh. This guy was the bane of my existance for 21 miles. I heard all his cheesy pick-up lines and jokes about 30 times. It was awful. And everytime I thought I'd lost him for good, he'd sneak up and pass me at a water station. I mean, what the hell? Doesn't all that talking make you thirsty? I mean, you've got to be kidding.. not only is he an asshole, but he's a camel, too?? Jeez. Just my luck he runs my freaking pace.
Around mile 17 I was starting to get worried. There was a hill after a hill after a hill. I mean... it was constant and I still wasn't able to consistenly pick up my pace and then the side stitch from hell showed up. I've gotten this particular side stitch a few times before and I think it's usually from a weird combination and water, gatorade, and shot blox. It's not a side stitch really.. it's more of a full stomach stitch. The pain goes directly across my belly and while I can still run with it, it's impossible to accelerate any on the downhills.
I had a couple of 11 minute miles because of that pesky side stitch and eventually the side stitch turned into a stomach cramp and I had to duck into a porta potty for a few minutes at mile 22.
I realized that PRing wasn't going to happen. But, I knew that I could still come in under 4:30 and that became my new goal.
The last 5 miles are so aren't nearly as scenic as the middle of the race, so I started to struggle a little. But, was still trying to pick it up a little.. hoping that maybe I could even come in under 4:25. It wasn't happening though...
Until... I heard a familiar voice coming up behind me...
"Just remember..." she yelled...
"Lance Armstrong...who's battled cancer and won the tour de france multiple times... ran the new york city marathon..."
Ohhhhhhhh shit. I thought to myself.
"... and when he finished" she continued "he said that running a marathon was the hardest thing he's ever done."
Yes, folks. It was that annoying 4:30 pacer again.
I immediately heard the people around me groan and grumble... "Are you kidding me?" one guy asked me. I just shrugged my shoulders and said... "well, at least we've got motivation to get the hell away from her." and thats when I picked it up. I pushed it the last 2 miles... I didn't want to hear her bits of wisdom (for the record, I understand.. some people running their first marathons need that. they like the motivation, etc... but for me, thats the most annoying thing I could ever hear. I couldn't imagine putting up with that for 26.2 miles).
The last two miles were awesome and they were a blur. I ran my heart out... I was sweating (it was hot now) and as the busses of volunteers drove past us, they were hanging out of the windows cheering us on. It was awesome. I flew through mile 26 with a 9:27 mile.
As I approached the finish line I pushed it even harder and I heard Vandy-Montana yelling my name and I kicked it up like I was running to the finish line in a 5k.
I crossed the finish line in 4:26 for my second best marathon time. It wasn't a PR, but I was damn happy about it anyway.
I felt like I was going to puke at the finish line, but meandered my way through the food and caught up to Vandy Montana. I was anxious to hear his finish time. When I realized how hilly the race was, I knew instinctively that he was going to kill it that day. And kill it he did. 3:26. A huge PR for him and I was thrilled for him. (More thrilled than he was, I think. Haha).
Apparently... this is the pre-race fuel of champions:
We found the shuttles and after feeling still puke-like we boarded the shuttles and made our way back to the car.
Big Sur was over and we both nailed it, if I do say so myself.
All in all. I would definitely recommend this race. The course is challenging (although the 20 minute handicap is a bit of a stretch, I'd say 10 minutes is probably a better number), but it's gorgeous and it's fun! I mean, I dont think I'll ever run a race where so many people are smiling and happy and stopping and taking pictures. It was incredible. The race is also incredibly well managed. Great asics short sleeve tech tees (women and men sized) and awesome medals. The only thing that sucked was the after race grub. I mean. REALLY sucked. You were only allowed ONE cookie and then had like bananas and bagels and CUPS of water. (they're trying to get green certifed so they didn't give out bottled water. Arg!).
The course had entertainment along the way... bands, singers, piano, harpist, etc and the volunteers were great and enthusiastic. A classy race.
And now it was time to head back to San Francisco and celebrate!!!!
Mile 1- 10:00
Mile 2- 9:34
Mile 3- 8:42
Mile 4- 9:36
Mile 5- 9:20
Mile 6- 9:25
Mile 7- 9:14
Mile 8- 9:39
Mile 9- 9:52
Mile 10- 9:38
Mile 11- 12:38 (Porta potty)
Mile 12- 10:41 (long water stop, shot blox, etc)
Mile 13- 8:57
Mile 14- 9:35
Mile 15- 9:36
Mile 16- 10:14
Mile 17- 9:15
Mile 18- 10:00
Mile 19- 10:04
Mile 20- 11:02
Mile 21- 11:14
Mile 22- 13:33 (potty sto)
Mile 23- 12:00 (no idea)
Mile 24- 11:22
Mile 25- 9:50
Mile 26- 9:27
* So, my mom told me to try to scale back on the cussing on the blog... That "crap" was for you, mom. Otherwise I would have said, shit. :)