A month ago, yes a month ago, I went to California with some of my best running friends to run the Big Sur Marathon. Physically, it was the most difficult run I’ve ever done. But the views and the company were worth all the blood, sweat and tears that were shed. And let’s not forget about my sunburned calves. I’m still sporting the farmer’s tan.
Unfortunately before we even got to the starting corrals I lost most of my friends in the crowd. My friend Vicky and I stopped to snap this picture and when were turned around everyone had already been sucked into the crowd of runners. After that it was just Vicky and me for the entire 26.2 miles.
I was coming off 3 weeks of sickness with the flu and then some secondary infections (double ear infection and bronchitis), so I wasn’t able to run for almost the entire 3 weeks of taper. There was a time mid sickness when I was convinced I was going to have to cancel the entire trip because I felt so awful with no end in sight. I was only able to run twice in the week before the race. One of those runs (5 miles) I had to stop and walk the last half mile home. Needless to say I was a little worried about how this race was going to go.
Vicky stuck with me and my pathetically slow pace the entire time. She never complained when I insisted on starting slow or even when I had to walk, which was a lot. We ran the first 5 miles at an almost 11:00 min/mile pace. This stretch of the marathon was down hill beginning in Big Sur National Park. I thought starting off slow would help us save energy for the rest of the race. Hindsight I’m laughing at myself about how unaware I was about what was to come. It’s hilly they said. Mother of god, it was hills, hills and more hills. Long hills that were miles long too. But the toughness could never out shine the beauty that lined the course. There was beautiful scenery after beautiful scenery. Every bend offered a more beautiful sight than the bend before.
Miles 5 through 23 were so difficult not only because of the hills but the headwind was super strong and never ending. I seriously felt like I was running into the wind, up a hill and despite my best efforts making no forward progress. I figured it took less energy to walk. I was forced to do a walk run and Vicky was happy (I think) to oblige. We walked all the uphills and ran the downhills. Of course we had to stop and take a bajillion pictures too. At mile 23 we passed Jeff Galloway and his harem (they were walk running in 15 second intervals for the entire marathon!!). After passing our good friend Jeff we met a guy named Dave from Florida who chatted us up and kept us entertained for the remaining 3 miles, which we actually ran.
This race was an amazing experience. There were many times when I was felt like I’d been out on the course for way too long and I started to feel defeated. There was also the time that I cried filled with gratitude at the halfway point when we made it to the Bixby bridge where the concert pianist played. And there was the finish when I was so glad that I had run this race for fun instead of for time.
I took so many pictures. Below are some highlights.
Do you have a bucket list race you’re itching to run?