Big Sur Marathon Race Recap Part 2

Marathon #2
State #8

I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm was set to go off at 3:15.  I was very glad I had set all of my things out the night before–I had just enough time to eat my usual peanut butter and bagel and then headed downstairs to meet the TEAM for a group picture before our walk to the shuttle buses.  Our bus was set to leave at 4:15.  It. Was. Cold.  The ride was literally 15 minutes and we waited 2 hours for the race to start.  I had on my TNT singlet, arm sleeves, throwaway jacket and gloves.  I also put on the 4:30 Race to Remember pace band (wanted to enjoy the race but still have a goal).

I will say that that the race waiting area was really nice.  There were more porta-potties than I have ever seen at a race.  I literally got to use a clean one (got to tear the TP out of the wrapper) and they were so nice!  Seat covers, TP, hand cleaner, and paper towels.  In addition to the “bathrooms” they had coffee, gatorade, bananas and bagels while you waited.  I had already eaten and was prepared but for those who wanted a little more this was a very nice treat!  The start time was 6:45 so we headed to to bag drop around 6:15 and then to the back of Corral B (Only 3 Corrals total I believe).  I also took my salt packet at this point (literally a little salt packet from a fast food place).  Our team has trained together for the entire season and we wanted to start the race together.  After seeing the course the day before I had decided I would stop whenever I wanted for a picture.  When else would I get the chance to run something so beautiful?  Not too mention I knew the hills would be really hard.

Me & Ashley-one of my “mentees”.  My lips were purple from being so cold!
Start Line

 Mile 1-8
It didn’t take long to hit the first hill or to realize that there was a grade in the road.  Not only would I be running on this the way out, but since the course changed, I knew I would hit it again at the end….and I knew my legs would be tired.  I made sure to check my pace and pace band early–I knew I couldn’t start out too fast with a course like this.

I took off my “throw away” jacket at the end of mile 1 and my gloves around mile 2.  It was chilly, but once I started moving I was better.  Most of the team was together at this point.  We were all chatty and enjoying the scenery–especially the entertaining mile stop signs.  Each mile had a different theme, quote, picture, etc.  Running the out and back also meant we got to see the music and talent along the course twice.  We passed several bands, drummers, and the grand piano.  I took my first GU after an hour in.  I also “popped in” the sports beans whenever I felt like it…these are quickly becoming a new fav!

Katie in front of Mile 6 sign
Katie, drummer, Me, Sherry

Mile 9-16
Still feeling great.  Katie, Matt, Sherry, Ryan and myself were all still together and stopping to take pictures along the way.  It was like any other group run except that there were more people and entertainment.  I believe the turn around was at mile 12 or so and the uphill battle seemed a little worse.  I took another GU after 2 hours into the race.

Mile 10 I think.  We were definitely “going up”
At the turn around point-Me, Matt, Katie, Sherry
Along the course
Ryan, Katie, Sherry, Myself, and Matt
One of my favs–And there was a lot of walking on this course
Just look to the left of the pic at the uphill climb…
What we found at the top of the hill

Mile 17-21
Oh holy hell.  I hit the wall early.  The bottoms of my feet and my hips were really hurting.  The “why the F did you sign up for this again” and the “WTF am I doing this for” and “you will never do this again” were all running through my head.  I was so thankful to be running with teammates (we lost Ryan at a bathroom stop) because they kept me going.  Matt knew what to say and what to do to keep me in it–he has run more marathons than I have and is used to “wall.”  I also wanted to stay positive for Katie-this was her first marathon and I knew I needed to put on a happy face to keep her motivated.  
All I could think about was finding the drummers again.  Once we passed those I focused on the strawberries.  I heard they had the most amazing strawberries on the course as a treat.  I have seriously never had a strawberry that tasted so good.  If it didn’t mean more miles I would have totally turned back around for more!!  We starting walking the waterstops at this point to make sure we were getting enough fluids and to give our legs a little break.  I would occasionally check in with the pace band and realized we were still right on point for a finish under 4:30.
Sherry, Dan, Me, Matt, Katie
Seeing the drummers on the way back
I hit it and pushed through it!
Sherry “hitting the wall” at mile 20

Mile 21-another fav.  My thoughts exactly.  Notice the walkers…
Heaven on Earth.  I’ve never tasted anything so delicious!
Mile 22-26.2
I had taken a GU and jelly beans and I had plenty of fluids but I was still feeling weak–I knew it must be a salt issue (happened in Seattle too).  So I downed another salt packet.  It did the trick.  Don’t get me wrong–I was still hurting in my hips and feet but Mile 24-26.2 were awesome for me.  Katie on the other hand, was struggling.  We had all stuck together for 24 miles and we weren’t splitting up now. I decided to do whatever she needed us to do to finish with her.  A short walk break and we were able to get her through it.  Even with her struggle I was amazed at how well we were all doing.  We continued to pass people on the hills of the course.  We were all very well trained.  

My BFF Bart Yasso sending encouraging words
The sign speaks for itself.  

I have never had such a cool finish line experience.  Matt, Katie, Sherry and I all joined hands and crossed together.  I vaguely remember hearing the announcer say and “here come the folks from TNT.”  I crossed the finish line in 4:23:09.  I am very,very happy with this.  This was by far the hardest course I have (and will probably ever) run.  To put it into perspective-the female winner won in 3:05 (the male in 2:31).  I don’t know if I have ever been more excited to get a medal.  We each got ours and headed for a group picture.

Sherry’s mom captured this from behind.  LOVE it.  GO TEAM!

Garmin and Official Results

very, very happy with this!!

oh holy hills

Post Race
We were herded along to the food tent–and I must say it was awesome!  The basket has fruit, half a muffin, granola bar, raisins and juice.  Quite the treat.  Only downside?  No water bottles or sports drink bottles….Big Sur is a “green” race and they are very environmentally friendly so you had to fill up the small race cups for fluids.  It was a pain but I know now what to do for next year (yes, next year).  Luckily I brought my endurox powder in big water bottle and was able to fill it and drink it.  After attempting to walk around to keep my legs loose I gave in and sat down because I was starting to feel sick.  Matt and Mike came to my rescue-I think I was dehydrated.  I had several more cups of water and gatorade and snacked on some pretzels and started to feel better.  It had all gone away by the time the rest of the team was finishing.

Post race goodie box

We all hung out until the last TNTer finished.  Sherry and Robert walked over to the grocery store where they had mini-ice bags so we all iced and lounged around.

We took our group shot and then we were on the bus back to Monterey.  Instead of an actual ice bath, we took our bath in the Ocean.  It was freezing!  But it did the trick.  We had just enough time to go back to the hotel and shower before our TNT post race celebration.  We walked a fair amount that afternoon and that really helped keep my legs loose.  By the end of the night, I wasn’t nearly as sore as I was after the race (Big improvement from Seattle).
The Team all smiles!!
FREEZING while icing.  Much better than an actual bath.

The course (out and back meant entertainment twice!)
Running & Finishing with friends
The medal
The volunteers
The race organizers
The course entertainment
The strawberries
Green Initiative
The scenery
I could go on and on…

Not so Much:
Only thing is water cups at post race & I even feel bad for putting that in the “not so much”

The Bling
Pretty sure it doesn’t get better than this. A handmade Clay medal.  Each year it is very similar just with different colors for the lettering.

I think the purple was just for us 🙂
I knew the course would be hard.  I should’ve known it would have been harder than the original when the race coordinators added 30 minutes to the allowed finishing time (from 6 hours to 6:30).  I loved every moment of it even when I was cursing up the hills.  Yes, lots of hills.  But I felt fully prepared for them training in Atlanta. 
I loved my TNT group.  I don’t know if there will ever be a team as great as this one.  They rock.  
I was still thrilled with my time.  I was able to finish only 5 minutes slower than my first marathon on a much tougher course and I stopped and took pictures.  I feel very good about the runner I have become over the past year.  I am getting better and will continue to do so.  
There are just so many positives about this experience I don’t feel like I can express it they way I truly want to in words.  I hope the pictures helped.  
Bottom Line???
Big Sur.  I will be back.  NEXT YEAR.  
FYI-Registration for 2012 is on July 15th.  Want to join me?
Wordless Wednesday will be the photos from MarathonFoto.  Thanks for putting up with an incredibly long race recap.  I know it was a lot to read and I appreciate you doing so!!

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  • Those signs were FANTASTIC. From Elsie and Midge to that rude Kenyan to the Are We There Yet kids to the wall and Hallelujah! I would do that race based on the signs alone! The route looks just gorgeous, too!

    Next year? Possibly…

  • Great race Elizabeth! I love those mile markers – why don't all races have those to make us laugh at each mile that goes by? CONGRATULATIONS!

  • That looks like such an amazing race. I would love to do Big Sure one day, but I'd have to do a ton of hill work because Florida is flat as a pancake.

    PS – thanks for your sweet comment. Blogger ate a bunch of comments for me, so it's disappeared off my blog, but I did get to read it and thank you. 🙂

  • I ran Big Sur this year as well. I wanted to congratulate you on your race and give you a special THANK YOU for running for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2007 and received aid through the LLS's generous programs. It always gives me a lift to see TNT purple at my races. Thank you for running for us.

  • AH!! Loved reading this and to be honest it brought tears to my eyes! I love a good effort and an amazing finish! Lisa J pointed me to this post since I just posted about my plan for Big Sur coming up. I wonder if the course has has changed? Was your point to point? It sounds like you had some out and back….
    Still, very good recap and awesome job!!!!

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