Monday, April 27, 2009

Big Sur Marathon Race Report

Here's the recap for those who wants the short and sweet version. Hubby and I ran the Big Sur International Marathon on Sunday and did our personal worst: 5:35:28 marathon finish. But, we had a lot of fun overall and look forward to our next race. :-)

Now, for those of you who wants to hear the rest of the details (that would be oh about 3 of you, maybe)... here we go.

The weekend started off great, weather was great and we both felt good about the race. Originally, it was just me racing on Sunday. But via Twitter and Bart Yasso (@bartyasso), I was able to snag a comp entry for Duane. I was thrilled, we could experience Big Sur together. I knew it was going to be a tough race for Duane since he didn't train. But the last few half marathons he ran, he didn't train and still pulled out a sub 2 hour finish! So I thought he could do it. I was concerned, though. We've all heard of men who die on marathon courses? Well, he's in that age category. So we told ourselves that we were going to take it easy and just have fun. No need to push hard.

Half way down the trip to Big Sur, which is about 2 hours away... we ran out of gas. Literally. We knew we were low on gas but we had so much fun talking that we totally forgot. (Note to Duane: See? If I was on Twitter and tweeting, you might have remembered to get gas!!)

Thankfully, we rolled to a stop about 200 yard away from a gas station as we tried to glide off the exit ramp... And quickly, D was able to get a gallon of gas.

Duane in action!

We were on our way again! Yay!! We got go the marathon expo in time to meet up with our pals Shelly, Michael, RoadBunner and Dennis... Although, I only remembered to get pic with Shelly! The expo was packed, there were supposedly about 10,000+ runners that were doing the marathon, relay and various other distances. We picked up our bibs, shirts and shuttle passes and checked into our hotel.

Shelly & me at the Expo
Shelly, who just ran the Boston Marathon 6 days before is a champ. She could down beers the night before and still pull out sub 8 min avg pace marathons. Craaazy. She's my hero.

Dinner was awesome! Really yummy food at Cantinetta Luca in Carmel. I just have to remember that their pasta portions are TINY! I was content but... when Shelly said she was meeting her friend Greg at the Knuckles bar at our hotel, I couldn't say no!

And, of course, we had to go for round 2... With our beers and the Texas Fries! Did I mention our shuttle to the starting line was at 3:45 AM??

Oh yes, the famous Texas Fries at Knuckle's Bar @ the Hyatt! More carbo loading!
D and I finally went to bed around 10:30pm ... and totally Zzzzz'd.

Next morning, or rather 4 hours later, we were up and at it. Here's my race outfit... Although, it was so cold, I ended up running with my long sleeve the entire race. Btw, I found some great deals on for the Hyatt at Monterey... for about $130 a night. They normally go for $350+! Needless to say, I was very happy with the deal and the beautiful hotel.

Here's me at 3:30 am all gussied up for the marathon!

Big Sur International Marathon is a point to point race, starting from the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park running along the scenic Highway 1 and finishes in Carmel. Now, in order to bus the thousands of runners the race shuttle starts at butt crack of dawn. We caught the 4am bus to the windy Highway 1 freeway. One perk (if you call it that) of waiting for the race to start is that they have coffee, hot chocolate and bagels for the runners. It was SO cold, I regretted wearing shorts!! Brrr.

Dennis at the start line!
And the gang! Don't they awfully look happy and excited??
Duane and me!Can you feel the excitement??

So the race started at 6:45am and we crossed the start line a few moments after. We started with the 3:40 pace group because Shelly and Dennis are fast! But soon after, the 4:10 pace group caught up to us. We stayed with the 4:10 pace group until about mile 10 when I *had* to go to the bathroom. Apparently, I didn't finish all the business before the start!!!!

Um, of course, I picked the Port-a-Potties near the Taiko drummers and it felt really odd. I could feel the drum beats while I was "going"! Oh and did I mention how windy it was? I was scared the Port-a-Potty was going to tip over!!
The Taiko Drummers (Pretty cool!)
Immediately after this, Hurricane Point faced us. Look at this elevation chart for the big elevation change. (Click on the chart for a bigger version.)
We went from 100 ft to 600 ft of HILL, over 2 miles! Talk about a tough climb. Up until this point, we were doing ok. Even with Duane's non-training we were still able to pull out a 2:20 half marathon split time. If it wasn't for the darn Hurricane Point, we would have a much more decent half split time. We thought he might even PR! Anyway, this is where things stated to go downhill for Duane. Literally. His knees started to hurt and so did his old Achilles Heel injury. The downhills hurt his knee so bad, he had to walk gingery most of the time... Poor guy. I thought he was being a wimp and I got mad at him. Oops.

Hurricane Point
Bart Yasso once said that if you do one marathon in your life time, it should be Big Sur. (Or something like that...) Anyway, I could see why that is so. The course is breathtakingly beautiful, with the beatiful Pacific Ocean to the left hugging the coast of Big Sur! But then, it's a super challenging course, with lots of hills and elevation change of 600 feet!

How do you think I got up this high??
Right around the half way point is the famous Bixby Bridge piano player... You can hear it from about a mile away and it's the most beautiful sound! Although, I've anticipating getting to this point for so long that it was a bit anticlamatic when we walked by this guy...

So pretty!! Seriously, worth the pain. Duane and I walked a lot. We stopped a lot, too. We definitely took our time and enjoyed the scenery. And took pictures, too. Lots of them!
We tried taking lots of our own... but as you can see above, it didn't always come out well. A nice couple that we ran with for a while (who were also walking) offered to take our photo! So nice. :-)

Too bad something got in the way!
Around mile 16, Duane was wiped out. The no-training was starting to really show it's ugly head. We got passed up by the 4:30 pace group a while back and even the 5:00 pace group. *sigh* Soon after, another pace group caught up with us. Jeff Galloway's pace group. I overheard people saying Galloway promised a 5 hour-ish finish, if you followed his 1:1 method. Run 1 minute and walk 1 minute. I've heard of the Galloway method before but never really understood. Michael is a die-hard Gallway runner and you can read more about his adventures on his blog. We were really excited about the opportunity to run with the famous marathoner, Olympian and author! I was too shy to ask for a photo with him but I definitely got a pic of his back. LOL!

We ran with Jeff Galloway's group for a long time. For a good 4 miles anyway. I definitely noticed that it was easier to walk and run! Duane's knee on the other hand, didn't like the stopping and starting again... So we walked. Starting mile from about mile 21 we walked, all the way to the finish. I thought about going ahead and leaving Duane behind but misery loves company and he wouldn't have been in that misery if it wasn't me. I felt responsible and well, at that point, I had kissed a sub 5 hour finish good bye. Might as well stick together, right? And, honestly, I was happy to walk, too. Marathons are no joke. I don't know why I never remember the painful parts of the marathon when I sign up for these!

Cool mile markers!
This elderly couple passed us a few times... for the last time around mile 24! At this point, I was hoping to finish under the alotted 6 hour time for the race.My Big Sur International Marathon experience was ... definitely long. We finally crossed the finish line at 5:35:28. And painful, too. Because of the downhill runs, I ended up gripping my toes and the balls of my feet against the shoe soles too much. And ended up with some gnarly blisters again. And I realized no matter how slow we ran or walked, 26.2 miles is just LONG time to be on your feet. I was so tired!

Here's our medal. It's made out of ceramic!
Yeah, so it wasn't my best marathon. But with my 8th marathon under my belt, I'm glad for the experience. You know what they say, a marathon humbles you. Well, not only did the Big Sur Marathon humble me but it totally kicked my butt. Duane and I talked about what a tough course it was but so unique and beautiful. We will definitely be back. Next year, I am going to conquer Hurricane Point!


  1. What a great race report, and congrat to you both for gutting out a finish!

  2. It's great that you stuck with Duane and finished with him; plus you got some awesome pictures too. Way to run.

    PS: I use the Galloway Run/Walk system all the time - it really does work.

  3. Congrats on completing your 8th marathon! It's so great that you and Duane could experiecne this beautiful race together even though it was a tough one! you're guys are awesome! :)

  4. Great report!

    We actually ran (er jogged) together on-and-off during miles 18 through 24. I love this course but it is a killer. My ankles still hurt. Our race reports share some similar stuff too - funny!

    Take care

  5. I ran thanks to Bart Yasso as well. Man...tough course and conditions. Anyone who finishes this one is good and TOUGH in my books. Good job!

  6. Yayaayayayay glad you finished yet another one. :) Those pictures are great and you and duane could win the cutest couple ever award :) Congrats to you both!

  7. So awesome to experience this with your hubby! You still beat my marathon PR =). Sigh, I'm slow! I'm not sure I could ever run Big Sur, not sure I could finish in 6 hours. If you guys did it in 5:35, don't think there is anyway.

    I love all the pictures. I think this race is all about stopping and smelling the roses, lots of pictures and enjoying the course.

    Great job on #8! #9 isn't all that far off.

  8. Congrats on #8!!

    Breathtaking course! And love the medal :)

  9. Loved this post and enjoyed all the pictures! Good Job girl!

  10. Awesome job on marathon 8!! That is amazing. I am glad you and your husband were able to do it together too - how fun! What a beautiful course. Glad you got to take so many fun pretty pics!

  11. if my 1st marathon doesn't kill me, i'd love to do that one next year. it looks so pretty!

  12. It totally looks like a fun one and I love the medal! Liked reading the report and looking at the pics!! I could have NEVER ran another marathon this weekend. Shelley is crazy!!

  13. Loved your race report! Nice work on #8. I also loved all the photos....that course is beautiful.

  14. I just loved your "smell the roses" approach to this marathon... and especially that you got to finish with the hub unit.

    Fun, fun photos. Always proud of ya.

  15. Awesome race report chica! Wow it looks sooo beautiful! At least you had a good time AND took a lot of beautiful pics. If you guys were running fast you couldn't have done that, now could you? ;-)

  16. DUDE! We soooo need to get our act together. I can't believe that we missed each other AGAIN! I got to run with RoadBunner for a while until she hippy hopped away (too darn fast for me).

    Big Sur is gorgeous course and I will definitely be back next year. So worth it.

    Unfortunately, that is my last marathon before IMCdA. Coaches orders. But I am doing San Fran in July, which I know is your alma mater, so we should meet up there.

  17. Lovely pics, great job on another marathon, when are you going for maniac? Love that you took it easy, and enjoyed the moment with Duane!

  18. Congrats to you and Duane on the finish!! What a fun experience to do it together and enjoy the scenery. Well done out there. :) Love the medal!

  19. I love the drummers! That was a great race report! You are a sweet wife!

  20. C'mon girl, 5:30 is nothing to be mad about. You did a freakin' marathon! Good for you for sticking with Duane. Your a good girl. It's good you were able to expereince it with him. Looked like some breathtaking views. I'v driven that before and it is a climb. Way to conquer it.

  21. Of all marathons to take a longer time on at least you did it on one with some awesome scenery. Sounds like a tough course though.

  22. Oh man I can't believe you got to run with THE Jeff Galloway! So cool. Way to go on sticking with your hubby until the end! I'm jealous that you've run 8 marathons!

  23. Thanks for taking all those pictures. You and Duane are adorable--can't wait to meet up with you in Chicago and take cute, winking photos! ;-)

    Big Sur looks awesome. At the running store yesterday, we were all talking about how it'd be fun to run it. One day, I'll do it, and you can accompany me up and down the big hills, Mwahhaha.

  24. you go, girl! number 8!! so it wasn't a pr, you did it with your man and it looked beautiful. i just love that you ran out of gas because u were having so much fun talking to each other. i think that is so cute!

  25. Wow, pics are great. I love the medal, too!! I think it's so great that you guys had fun with that marathon and stuck together. Really sweet.

  26. Wow, what an incredible (and challenging!) experience. It definitely looks like the views were worth it - breath-taking! Congratulations! I am amazed that Duane could do that without training!

  27. Just found your blog as reccommended through my Gooogle Reader. Congrats - it looks like a beautiful race!

  28. What an adventure for you guys. The pictures are amazing! Congrats on another successful finish!

  29. Great recap.

    I think the only time goal for Big Sur is to have a great time.

    It is so beautiful there.


  30. Great job finishing a tough race! This is the third Big Sur RR I've read and I am just kicking myself for not having gotten into running races when I was living in Monterey. I really missed out.

    Thanks for all the lovely photos!!

  31. awesome race and report girl!!! so fun to finish with D :) you were a very good wife that day!

    this is definitely on my list of marathons to do esp after seeing all these amazing pics!!!!

    CONGRATS on ANOTHER marathon!!!

  32. Sounds like you had lots of fun running the marathon with Dune! I'm so excited to run with you guys in Chicago!!! It looks like Big Sur was beautiful. I was talking to a patient at work and their brother was out running it too!!!

  33. I've got a signed book of Jeff Galloway's and have ran a 5k with him!! I love his run/walk method!

  34. Congrats on sticking by the hubby (quite handsome he is too!) and making it through a tough course. Mine waits for me, and I take it as a sign of patience and love. Maybe next year you can get him to train!

    Maybe we'll see you at SF.


  35. Congrats on the finish! Good job toughing it out!

    I've thought about doing the Galloway method, just to see if it cuts down on injuries.

  36. Congrats to you and especially Duane for finishing this beautiful race & thanks for the story and pictures.

    Running out of gas before the race is an hilarious way to start the day ;)

  37. I found you from someone else's blogroll. (Can't remember who.)

    Great race report and way to go on sticking through to the finish. I'll have to look into this marathon for a future year. The course looks beautiful and I love the idea of the piano player.

    Also, the 777 Challenge sounds incredible. Good luck on your fundraising goals. I look forward to reading about your adventures.

  38. Such a beautiful course! I think that's great you and your husband did it together. :)

  39. wow that looks like an amazing course to run. I can't imagine getting D to run with me, but it would be a really wonderful and amazing thing if I could :)

  40. Great recap, pictures and race!! Congratulations to you and training? Hardcore, dude!

    I loved all the pictures and will definitely be putting this course on my to-do list. Congrats on another marathon complete, and you better take care of those blisterd, girl! 31 days to SD and a 4:20 or better finish! Yay running buddies!

  41. From all the pictures it looks like you had a great time! That marathon looks pretty cool with all the nice views! Congrats on finishing another marathon!

  42. Great race report! Congrats on #8! I love the pics and the fact that you guys ran together. You are a very cute couple!

  43. Loved the race report and pictures too! The medal is so unique and cool. Great job out there, looks like you enjoyed the whole experience.

    Sweet deal on the hotel too.

  44. Congrats on finishing the race, and thanks for a great report! I loved seeing all the pictures.

  45. Hi! New reader thanks to Aron...

    This looks like a beautiful race! Despite the massive hill. I may have to consider this one for myself. Glad you enjoyed yourself! What a sweet medal!


  46. Nice job! And what great pictures, I have driven a couple of times maybe one I will run it?

  47. I love the silly mile markers! Yay for personal worsts...that MUST mean you had fun :)


  48. Congratulations! Sounds like a tough course. You got to run it together and with the breathtaking views, I am sure it was worth the run/walk!

  49. I'm glad you had fun! Looks like a great time from the pictures!

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