Friday, May 3, 2013

Race Report: Big Sur Marathon

Last weekend I ran the Big Sur Marathon and it was AMAZING.  This was hands down my favorite race (of any distance) ever.  It helps that I PR'd (which is nuts for Big Sur) with a marathon time of 3:19:54. 

The morning of the race at 5am (when we started getting ready at the Big Sur starting line) the coordinators said the weather was "Goldie Locks weather" - not too hot, and not too cold.  They were right, it was perfect.  Climbing up one of the hills, though, I got hit with a gust of freezing wind but at the time it felt great.  The morning and the prep were a little rough, but fun at the same time.  I had to get up at 3:30am to get on a 4am bus for a 1-hour ride from Carmel (where my mom and I were staying) to Big Sur (the race start).  On the bus I sat next to a woman from San Jose and we chatted about the course and running the entire time - there's always something to talk about with a fellow runner.  At the starting line area the thousands of us running had to wait for about an hour for the proper start.  The coordinators spoke about the tragedy in Boston from the week before, and many runners at Big Sur had run Boston as well.  It was an interesting mix of sorrow and paying tribute to the runners and fans there.  Then it was time ...

First - the course: the course was breathtaking running along highway 1 with no cars.  Prior to the race I was nervous because part of running a long race is having people cheering, it keeps the motivation up.  My mom came with me to Big Sur but she wasn't able to get on the course because the entire stretch of highway was closed off.  Turns out there was nothing to be scared of - the ocean was a great running partner.  Along the course there were some incredible volunteers every 2 miles or so.  Also, there were people playing music - my favorites were a group of drummers right before a big hill climb, and a man playing a grand piano next to the Big Sur bridge over the crashing waves.  The cliffs and beaches were pretty astounding, too.  I am not a religious
person but I seriously felt like God was on the course - or something incredible - I was in awe of nature's beauty here. 

The course really was hilly throughout, here's an elevation glance from my watch:

Second - my boogie man: when I run I tend to go out too fast, then have an internal voice pipe in at around mile 10 or 13 saying "it's OK to slow down, no-one will ever know."  Marathons are LONG and give plenty of time for head games.  The night before Big Sur I read an article about positive reinforcement while running.  At the starting line I promised myself to be positive - no excuses.  I went out at a 7:25 pace; instead of saying "too fast!" I said "it's OK - this is good, I can do this."  Throughout the race I kept an internal mantra going "I feel good, I'm doing good," and it helped!  There were a couple times when the little voice would pipe in "you're going to get tired" and I'd put my positive voice on loud internally yelling "I FEEL GOOD, I'M DOING GOOD."  Do I sound crazy with all the internal voices?  :) 

Third - the gear: I felt more prepared with the best setup for this race.  I ran in my Oiselle pink tank, my favorite Newton shoes (trail shoes - at the end of the race a shoe store owner was shocked I had run so fast in trail kicks), Lululemon capris, a Saucony running jacket, and my new Garmin Forerunner 10 watch (which I am now in love with). 
Big Sur marathon essentials

I have to say, finishing the race and seeing my time I felt pretty darn good.  I blew past my marathon PR by 15min.  I got to see my mom right at the finish which was awesome (and she looked like a complete paparazzi).  After getting my medal (or clay creation) and some water, I made my way to the massage tent where I could have just fallen asleep.

Building up to Big Sur, I promised myself this was my last marathon ever.  Now I want to do it again next year ...

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