When I finished the Big Sur Marathon last year the words “never again” definitely came out of my mouth. It was a tough, humbling marathon, but it’s beauty will definitely draw you back in.
As I sat there in my post marathon haze, I looked around at all the runners in their Boston 2 Big Sur jackets and double medals, and definitely got a little swag envy. My “never again” phrase turned into “I’ll think about it.” A few months later I was registered.
Since Big Sur was my only spring marathon the year before, I ran it and put a good effort out, so didn’t have as much fun on the course as I wished. Since I just completed the Boston Marathon 13 days ago, I had zero expectations for this race, even a PW (personal worst) was expected. I have never ran marathons this close together, and although I felt pretty recovered from Boston, I had no idea what my body would do.
Marathon Eve & The Expo
This also turned into a very fun girls weekend with 8 of us going for various race distances. I was very excited to get to spend some time with the girls and just have a fun relaxing weekend. The fun began early Saturday morning as I picked up Susan who flew in from NYC for the race from the Bart station, grabbed Tara from her apartment, and headed south to pick up Page before being on our way to Monterey!
We made it to Monterey around 12 and headed to the expo for our first trip. This expo is definitely not like Boston, but I still like small less crowded expos. We were all kind of in denial that we were actually running a race the next day, but we had fun cruising around and chatting with Bart Yasso.
The rest of our crew (Jessica, Roadbunner, Alyssa, and Kristen) eventually arrived to the hotel and we all headed out for pizza. We were back in our room at a decent time with all our stuff set out and the alarms set for a very early wake up call – 3:15am.
The alarm went off at 3:15 and I jumped out of bed and got into marathon mode. I actually slept really good the night before which was exciting. I showered, got dressed, had my coffee and started eating my breakfast, and we were all ready with time to spare. At 4:20am we started walking over to the bus pickup next door and everything was going very smoothly.
This year the course was also going to be different from the normal course that starts in Big Sur and runs north to Carmel on Highway 1 since a big portion of Highway 1 collapsed into the ocean a few weeks ago. The course started at the finish line and ran 12+ miles out, before we turned around and ran back with a little add on around mile 24. So instead of the standard long bus ride out to Big Sur, we had a much shorter bus ride to Carmel, but it still left very early.
We made it to the start line and it was pretty chilly out so we just found a spot to huddle together for a while.
Pretty soon we heard rumors how runners were taking over the Safeway since it was open 24 hours and we decided to go check it out for ourselves. Sure enough, there were hundreds, if not thousands of runners hanging out in Safeway keeping warm before the race. We located ourselves in the wine aisle and sat there keeping warm until the race got closer. It was pretty hilarious.
Pretty soon it was time to hit the porta potties and check our bags and before we knew it we were off the start line! Page and I got separated from the rest of them, but I was happy to have a buddy with me at the start line. It was fun to be taking the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge with her and we definitely matched for the occasion. We wore our Boston bibs on our backs as well.
The gun went off and we were off! It still hadn’t quite sunk in that I was running another marathon and my 10th not at that, but I felt good, the temperature was perfect and I was excited to just run for fun.
Page and I stuck together for a mile or 2, but I knew I needed to back off and just cruise and let my body warm up. I knew this was going to be a tough course and I just wanted to have fun and try not to die on all the hills. The new course was going to be tougher than last year, since I think the 2nd half of the course is harder than the first and we were doing the 2nd half twice. The hills started right away and I just cruised along, taking in everything around me.
I decided to change up my fueling strategy a little bit and taking some shot blocks in addition to Gu. I love eating the chewy fuel, but typically don’t when I am “racing” so this was a great way to break it up. I ate a my first pack of shot blocks starting around mile 3 and continuing through mile 8 which was 200 calories since I typically take 2 Gus by mile 8. I carried my handheld and drank water frequently.
Mile 1 – 8:51, Mile 2 – 8:48, Mile 3 – 9:05, Mile 4 – 9:32, Mile 5 – 9:04
I was continuing to cruise along enjoying everything around me and loving the cool air. I knew it was going to get a lot warmer the second half of the race so I was happy to have the cool air for the time being. Since I was running the race backwards to what I had run before, it was fun to see the course from a different angle.
The beautiful coast line came into view and I just was soaking in everything around me and taking pictures and just happy to be out there running the course again. The miles were flying by and I was having a blast!
Mile 6 – 9:19, Mile 7 – 9:22, Mile 8 – 9:04, Mile 9 – 9:12, Mile 10 – 9:00
It continued to be absolutely beautiful and there were runners from the different length races coming back the other way the last few miles as well. I knew to start looking for the leaders of the marathon and my speedy friends! Alyssa came running by at this point and I said hi to her… I knew she was going to have a good day.
Pretty soon I saw Susan coming the other way and she looked awesome! We cheered for each other and tried to get a pic but it didn’t work out too well. They positioned the turn around just before the famous Bixby Bridge and although we didn’t get to run on it at least we got to see it! I was still feeling pretty good, but my legs were tired and I knew I had a lot of hills on the way back.
There wasn’t a half marathon marker but I was pretty close to 2:00 for the half which I was really happy with. I had no intentions of breaking 4 hours in this race, and honestly didn’t expect much of my time at all so I was pleasantly surprised to see my time. The 4:00 pace group passed me around Mile 14/15 and I was actually a little relieved so I didn’t have to think about keeping it under 4.
Mile 11 – 9:08, Mile 12 – 9:16, Mile 13 – 9:16, Mile 14 – 9:14, Mile 15 – 8:55
The hills kept on coming and the sun was coming out definitely making it warm. I was getting tired but just trying to have a good time and enjoy the course. Somewhere in these miles Jessica caught up to me and we ran together for a while. We talked a little bit, but it was just nice to have someone to run with when I started wanting to walk. I kept up with my fueling plan and kept on taking pictures!
Mile 16 – 9:32, Mile 17 – 9:07, Mile 18 – 9:19, Mile 19 – 9:19, Mile 20 – 9:13
I had been doing a pretty good job of keeping my pace consistent but mile 21 I just lost it. I needed to refill my water bottle and my legs were just tired, I was hot and didn’t want to run any more hills! So I walked through the stop and told Jess to go ahead. Right after the water stop was a giant hill and I just did not have it in me at that moment and let myself walk up part of the hill. I was tired but knew the end was getting close!
Mile 21 – 10:40, Mile 22 – 9:24
I composed myself after that mile and kept on running. The road gets really cambered along these miles and it was not feeling good, but I just tried to find the flattest part of the road I could. Pretty soon we had the ~2 mile add on into Point Lobos which I was not the biggest fan of. I wished we would have had the little add on at the beginning because it was a little rough mentally going out for that loop. I did get to see Page and Alyssa again though and I caught up to Jess again so that made it worth it.
There was a short steep hill in this section that I had to walk up again, but after that I got a little boost of energy and told myself no more walking! Every time we passed a mile marker they would say what marathon time you were on pace for and I kept fluctuating between 4:02 and 4:05. I tend to develop random time goals towards the end of races and this one suddenly became to beat my first marathon time (my personal worst of marathons I have raced).
Mile 23 – 9:11, Mile 24 – 9:36
My legs were so tired at this point and I was very warm, but I kept telling myself I would kick myself later if I slowed down too much and came in after 4:04. I checked in at each mile knowing I would have it if I stayed in the 9-9:30 range. There is a stupid big hill at mile 25 that I clearly remembered from last year and it definitely wasn’t any easier this year. I just shortened my stride and chugged up that thing. I was getting a little woozy, so I slowed down as much as I could but was still running! FINALLY I was at the top of the hills with less than a mile to go.
Mile 25 – 8:59
I was baking in the sun at this point but knew the finish line was close. Finally I could see it in the distance and I gave it what I had to get over that finish line.
Mile 26 – 9:12, Last .31 (per Garmin) – 2:40 (8:24 avg)
Garmin: 26.31 miles/4:03:29/9:15 avg pace
26.2 miles/4:03:29/9:18 avg pace
Overall: 980 out of 3218
Women: 328 out of 1548
F 25-29: 58 out of 224
I was so happy to be done! I found Jess and then I made my way to the Boston 2 Big Sur tent where I found Page. After getting our second medal, awesome jacket and some food and beer we made our way out to find the rest of the crew. Everyone did so amazing and it was so fun to recap all the races including a couple awesome PRs on a very tough course!
We celebrated after with a lot of food and beer and walked around Monterey a bit, including making sure Susan touched the Pacific Ocean. We had grand plans of staying out late, but were all wiped out from the race.
After a great night of sleep we had a yummy breakfast and then headed back home. It was such a fun weekend with the girls and I feel so blessed to have such amazing friends, both new and old, in my life.
Marathon #10 is done! I am so happy with how I did, only 5 minutes slower than last year, not a personal worst, a pretty evening paced race on a very tough course AND only 13 days after a marathon. This race is so amazing, so beautiful and well organized and just hard to explain. I can’t wait to go back and run the normal course again!