Friday, November 23, 2012

Big Sur Half Marathon Race Recap

The Big Sur Half Marathon is probably my favorite half marathon ever.  First of all, the weather in California in November is PERFECT and far better than the cold in Chicago.  Second, the course is amazing.  I ran this race last year and spent time with my family in Salinas, which is close to the race.

Image Credit  For more information on the race click here.  The course is nice as well - it is fairly flat, but there are some rolling hills, which makes it a bit challenging as well.

My results:

I am so proud of myself for actually finishing this race!  I really was worried that I wouldn't finish because I really have not been training like I should.

I'm still getting over the lazy bug that I developed post-marathon (see post below for more on that).  I ran 2 miles 9 days after the marathon.  I ran 8 miles on November 2nd and then ran only 9.5 miles from November 2nd to November 14th.  I think I ran maybe 3 times and all the runs were on the treadmill during work.  The runs were capped out at 4 miles since that was all I could fit in during my break at work.  I was going to run on Thursday with my dad, but I got super sick after the flight so I rested instead.  I ran 5 miles on the treadmill Friday and it went OK.

However, the course totally kicked my ass.  I dominated it last year and almost got a PR, but that was not the story this year.

First, I violated my rule of not eating too much fiber in the days before the race.  One of my aunts ordered this delicious pasta that was served with a salad with an awesome dressing, which I gobbled up.  I most certainly regretted the fiber choice the following morning.  So yeah, note to self: no high fiber foods before the race!!

I was super worried and nervous before the start since my stomach was churning.  Also, I felt super unprepared for the race.  It's funny because I really didn't feel that nervous for the Chicago Marathon at all.  Then again, I had my running buddy Cindy with me most of the time so I had something to distract me and take my mind off running.

This was not the case with Big Sur.  My dad ran the race as well, but he started way back in Corral J whereas I was up in Corral C.  My goal was simply just to finish.  A PR was definitely not going to happen since I haven't been training for speed.  Also, I've been running half marathons around 2:11 and 2:15 while training for the full.  So, I figured that ever going sub 2 would be a bit of a stretch.  So, I'm happy with the 2:02.

Jim, Dad and I got to Monterey a little bit before 6:00.  We parked the car and walked on over to the McDonalds which is right by the start.  I figured using an indoor bathroom would be better than using an outdoor one.  The McDonalds is always packed and the seats were full, but at least the line to the can was short.  At this point, my stomach was in absolute knots.  Things were not looking good at all.  I love how my stomach and nerves can literally give me the shits.  TMI, I know, but this is what I was dealing with before the race started.  I blame my lazy self for undertraining, but there was really no turning back at that point.

I wanted to go again, but got distacted talking to a group of runners about the Chicago Marathon since I was rocking my shirt.  One of the ladies was originally from Chicago so she got it when I mentioned points I had run to along the marathon course. 

The lines to the bathroom were long and I was cutting it close to 6:45 so I decided to forgo the bathroom and get into my corral.  I was super nervous, cold and trying to do my best not to shit my pants. :(  Not a good way to start off a race whatsoever...

Miles 1 through 4:  These went by OK and I was still running at a sub 9 pace.  We ran through a tunnel that seemed to have a little incline, which killed me big time.  By the time we reached the hill in Pacific Grove I was pretty much dying and wondering why the hell I was even out there.  My lazy bug was tempting me to drop out and go back to bed.  But, I forced myself to keep on running.

Miles 4 to 7:  I pretty much had a shit fit at this point.  Mentally, I just wasn't feeling it and I really wanted to stop.  My body wasn't really hurting - I was just mentally out of it.  At this point, I passed Lovers Point and was running up to the turnaround at Alsolimar State Beach.  Also, I started spotting bathrooms and I was debating whether to use one and lose time or try to hold it through the finish.  There were bathrooms right past 7 miles so I pulled off to use one.  I felt so much better after my short break and returned to the course with some energy.  Also, I decided to take off my headphones and enjoy the atmosphere.  If you listen closely enough, you can hear the waves, which is nice.  The scenery is pretty amazing.

Mile 7 to Mile 11:  My pace slowed from slightly under 9 to around 9:15 - not too bad, I suppose.  I felt much better having taken a break and taken off my headphones.  I willed myself to keep on going and reminded myself to take deep breaths and focus on finishing.

Miles 11 to 13.1:  I lost it again here and slowed down some more.  A woman at Mile 11 yelled out 1:53.  I started 9 minutes back so that put me at 1:44.  I did a little mental math and figured out that a sub 2 would not be happening since there was no way in hell I was going to run 2.1 miles in 16 minutes.  So, I accepted that my run would be over 2 hours.  The 2 hour pace group also caught up to me a little bit past Mile 12.  I knew I had to keep them in my sites and if I finished in front of them that I would be finishing sub 2:03 since they were in the corral behind me.

On the home stretch, I passed the 2 hour pace group leader so I knew I went sub 2:03.  I felt like complete crap afterwards and my lovely stomach decided to act up again, which made me super cranky.  And, Jim decided to wait by the hotel as opposed to in this plaza area where the runners were being filed into after the race so I was not thrilled about having to walk over there.

We waited a bit for my Dad to finish (2:41 for Dad - he struggled @ the end and cramped up in the final stretch) and then went back to Salinas.

If you are looking for an awesome race to do in November, I highly recommend Big Sur!  Oh, and there are no clocks along the way so if you want to know your time, have your watch with you!


  1. Pete, you definitely should! I just checked out your blog and you are FAST! You've love it - it's relatively flat with a few gentle rolling hills (not as bad as the Big Sur Marathon I've heard) and it's relatively small - capped out at 9,000 runners. It's pretty popular through so sign up early to get it at a cheaper rate. Totally worth it. Plus, if you can take time off, you can enjoy the awesome bay area and take advantage of better scenery and weather! :)