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!

Monday, April 13, 2009

I’m Famous! (Ok, not really…)

Since I’ve started fundraising for the Hope Runs 777 challenge, I have been blown away by friends and strangers coming out of the woodworks to help me. Not just financially (which is great and still need more), but also in ways to promote my cause!

Here are two great examples…

Chris Russell (also @cyktrussell) from RunRunLive offered to interview me on his famous running podcast! I was totally nervous about my first live interview for a podcast but everything seemed to fall into place. (Even if I did bumble up a few times… *sigh*) Maybe good practive for live TV one day? Well, one can only hope! If you’re interested in checking out the podcast, you can either click here OR search in the iTunes Store for “RunRunLive” and download episode 63. Let me know if you listen to it one day. Again, I can’t thank Chris enough for willing to feature me. Wow!

Ethan Austin from Give Foward (an innovative giving/fundraising site) and Play City (where you can use sports to make a positive impact on our local and global communities), who offered to interview me on their Play City blog. Ethan has not only been fantastic in giving me fundraising tips and ideas but providing really great emotional support. My interview with Ethan just went live today and you can check it out here. There are pictures of me on the blog post.

Most of all, thank you ALL for being part of my adventure. I love my social network/community on my running blog, Twitter and Facebook. You make me feel like I’m not doing this alone!

Oh, a quick question... I'm totally new to the running podcast thing. Do you listen to them while you run? And if you DO listen to running podcasts, what are they? I'm looking for recommendations! ;-)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Race for Roses Half Marathon Report

Sunday was a perfect day for a half marathon in Portland! Last time I met up with the Portland Bloggers and Joggers (PB&J) gals, they convinced me I needed to run the Races to Roses half marathon. I'm a sucker for running races so it really didn't take much for me to be convinced. Especially it only cost $40 and also the proceeds were going to Albertina Kerr Center, a local Portland non-profit that "works with children who have emotional or mental health challenges, individuals with developmental disabilities, and their families".

Race for Roses wasn't just ANY half marathon for me. It was my first race as a pacer and for Alisa. I was a bit concerned because my hip has been bothering me for a few weeks now... Not sure if it's my IT band or sciatica nerve or the hip socket. Sometimes, it feels like all 3 of them hurt at the same time. Last Sunday, I had planned on a very hilly 18 miler and around my 10th mile, my hip flared up so badly, I had to tell my hubby who was out riding his bike on my run to go back and get the car. It was that painful. Discouraged, I had taken the whole week off and only went out on Saturday to make sure I could even run! Fortunately, Saturday's 6 miler proved I could indeed run. I took it easy and ran 6 miles at about 9:10 pace. It felt good to run after a week off.

I flew up pretty late Saturday night and when I got to their guest bedroom, my awesome race shirt and bib was sitting on the bed! (Hello, a small tech shirt? I love this race!! I normally wear a medium or sometimes large. Ugh!)

The next morning around 5am, we downed some toast with peanut butter and yummy French press coffee (the best way to drink coffee ever) and headed out to the race. One thing I really loved about this race is that the race starts right outside the Portland convention center so you can actually wait inside the center. The weather was perfect but still, a little chilly at 6:30am...

Here's Alisa and me. Yeah, she's tall. And well, I'm short. Her new nickname is Giraffe. I'll tell you in a little bit.
I was told the route would be pretty flat... but, it wasn't! There were couple of challenging hills but that also meant fast downhills. So, granted the hills in Portland are nothing like the hills in SF but a hill is a hill, nonetheless!

Oh, we also ran (literally) into Cindy around mile 4... She was doing the half marathon as part of her training run for her Vancouver Marathon in a few weeks. She was going to run another 7 miles after the race! Yes, she really does have sexy legs in real life! ;-)

Alisa did super well for the first half... she went out strong and ran it faster than her normal pace. But of course, I know first hand what a fast start does to you... She did slow down in the second half but she pulled off a strong race. I definitely had to pull a drill sargent act once or twice but Alisa was definitely motivated to PR on Sunday. She definitely didn't give up. I admire you spirit Alisa. I know another huge PR is waiting for you around the corner. Maybe RnR SD?? :-)

I told Alisa I would make her sprint near the finish... and she did. When the finish line was in sight, she took thoses long long legs and sprinted past me. It was like a giraffe graces whizzed by me. I had no chance. I was the hippopotamus!!! So that's how she got her new nickname on Sunday. The Giraffe.

Oh, btw, she did PR. By 11 minutes! Alisa's official half marathon finish time is 2:27:04!!! I came in a second later according to the official chip time. I know I was there to encourage Alisa for those 13.1 miles but really, it was ALL Alisa. Congrats on your PR, Alisa. You totally deserve it!!

Here's our group photo... Sarah, Mr. Pi (aka Alisa's hubby who drove us to the race and cheered for us, what a sweetie), Alisa, Amy, Emily and moi.

Here's the PB&J girls all cleaned up! You can read more Race for Roses race reports on their blog, too! They all ran excellent races on Sunday!
Amy, Jen, Alisa, Emily and me. Sarah was running a little late. :-)
This is how *I* celebrated after the race!
And then some more!

Here is my favorite photo from the race... The Hippo and the Giraffe.

One last thing, I also ran my half marathon for Tim and Jeannine Oberholzer. Jeanine passed away on Saturday from Cystic Fibrosis... Here's my finisher rose from the race and the medal that I dedicate to them.