Big Sur International Marathon and 21 Miler
“I am so not ready. I am so not ready. I am so not ready.”
While making the drive on Friday, I couldn’t help but think to myself how sorely under trained I am for this race. If you’ve been following along, you know I’m still a “walk-runner” and ultimately I’m just out to have fun while out there. The entire drive up to Big Sur from Vegas, I try amazingly hard to distract myself to keep from thinking about how much I don’t feel ready to complete 21 Miles. 21 MILES! My longest mileage prior to this was a half marathon. I intended to use the beginning of the year to increase my mileage, but early pregnancy exhaustion kept me from maintaining that goal.
It also didn’t help that as we drove up to the hotel, we were driving up the course and had a full view of what was to come. Hubs likes to see/review the course and elevation so he has an idea what to expect. Personally, I just like to know where it’s flat, downhill, rolling hills, very hilly, etc. When I SEE the course beforehand, I usually get just a little more anxious about it. This would probably go away if I were to feel like I actually got GOOD training in. One of these days…
So, we drove Friday and checked into the hotel. Ground level, corner room with hallway access to the parking lot and sidewalk. It had a cute little patio out the slider, too – but we didn’t get any use out of it. Saturday morning we woke up and walked around a bit. We hit up the expo for packet pick-up, picked out a handful of items for purchase, had lunch and relaxed until dinner. We went out for a quick dinner not too far of a walk from the hotel and called it a night right after so we could get some rest before the big day.
Since Hubs had a different start time/location than I did, he had to get up a bit earlier. He got himself ready and kissed me goodbye before heading out to the shuttle. Shortly after that, I got up to get myself ready. Let’s face it, I had to pee anyway. 14 weeks into pregnancy and it’s already creating an overactive bladder! I caught the shuttle to the start line, kept as warm as I could and mingled some before the official start.
The first couple of miles I was struggling. I get this weird burning sensation in the front of my shins (not shin splints, I am VERY familiar with that pain!) and I began to feel my feet go a little numb. I pushed my way through that as best I could, but I was definitely feeling it and had to walk quite a bit. I knew if I was going to manage to complete 21 miles, I was going to have to remain positive and just think about the elation I would feel at the completion of this race. My first 21 miler. Just have fun. Just have fun. Just keep moving!
Hubs caught up to me – I think around mile 5 or 6. He did a run-by selfie and was off to keep his pace. We usually always check in with each other when we are completing the same races like this. Usually, though, it’s me completing a half marathon and he passes me between miles 8 and 10, depending. Once he was off, I kept focused on enjoying the scenery and the people.
Eventually, I spotted a couple of women who appeared to be walk-running as well and we played leap frog a couple times – passing each other during our running bouts. Eventually, at one of the times I caught up to them, I said hello and struck up a conversation. We talked about our respective running, goals, lives. I mentioned pregnancy and we talked about that some. That I had already completed a 5K and 2 half marathons with more on the horizon. At this point, my new friend I would later learn is Haritha, stated she would like to remain with me through the rest of the course. Her friend, Elaine, readily agreed and we had a great time walk-running together. We chatted away the miles, which really seemed to help them fly by, even though I was really feeling it. We seemed to be pretty well matched in terms of endurance, so that helped a lot. We also knew when to push-encourage and when to hold it back some.
We enjoyed nearly all the aid stations which were filled with exuberant and encouraging volunteers! There was music being played along the course, shouts of positivity coming from every direction, amazing – and I mean AMAZING!! – oranges at every aid station and I just couldn’t get enough. I passed up most of the bananas and other foods for the oranges every time. Throughout the entire course with Haritha and Elaine they were mentioning the strawberry aid station, I was definitely looking forward to that! As the race (and hills) progressed, we began walking more of the uphills and running the downhills. I eventually had to stop at some porta potties (that dang kid resting square on my bladder!) and my new friends were amazing to wait for me each time. We continued like this for a majority of the race and although it was taking a while, it also seemed to be moving much faster than I think it would have if I was alone. We started to smell the wonderful, and long awaited, aroma of fresh strawberries. We could probably smell them at least a quarter mile away! We rounded a corner as we were met with the intensified wall of strawberry scent… and the table was empty. EMPTY! Not a soul in sight, mere scraps discarded or dropped on the ground. Sad Panda.
The hills just kept coming!
We reached a point where I just had to stop again, and I was sure how long this porta stop was going to last, so I said goodbye to my new friends and I encouraged them to continue without me. I assured them I would see them at the finish and I ducked into the porta one more time. I pushed myself as much as I could, thinking I might actually catch up to my friends, but it didn’t happen. I developed some pretty amazing blisters that I was nursing most of the time I was running with them and I just couldn’t do it anymore. My walk had slowed some and I started having shorter running turns. I was definitely feeling the lack of training, the blisters, and the temperature starting to rise. The weather had been amazing the entire race! There was some light drizzle, maybe even just sea mist, from time to time, but it was generally amazing. Oh, but amazing with high winds! It was quite the windy race – we later learned one of the highest wind years.
Time seemed to slow down as I struggled through the remaining few miles. I was getting texts from Hubs wondering where I was, how I was doing. There were guys on bikes (volunteers, etc) checking on runners and making sure we were alright. The temps were causing some discomfort for some people and they needed to be provided water right away. I was doing well with my trusty Orange Mud Hydra Quiver Double Barrel* pack. Whew. What a mouthful! But, I take this thing with me everywhere! I love it!
One of the cyclists checked on me numerous times, as I had told him I was doing amazing considering I am 14 weeks pregnant! He was surprised, and very encouraging. He kept me updated with the status of the SAG wagon and course closure deadline (I was cutting it close). He was amazing in the last 2 miles as he kept doubling back and encouraging me to finish before being swept. He knew my goal was to finish and have an amazing time, and he made sure of that in the end! I never thought to ask his name or anything, I was way too focused on making the cutoff time, but he made a big difference in the final leg of my race.
Hubs kept an eye out for me and caught me crossing the finish line. He would have come up the last mile to get me, but the race officials had asked participants not to do that – though numerous people still did. I’m glad he followed the rules, though, and it was even more amazing to cross that finish line TO him, rather than WITH him. It might not make any sense, since I did have company during the race, but it felt pretty major to me that I completed the race on my own (without Hubs to push me) for my first 21 miler. At this point, I feel like I could pull off a decent marathon in August, even though I will be much more pregnant. Just have to train more!
After the completion of the race, we mingled some and I found my new friends again. The finish line was pretty uncrowded as I just barely made the cut off and most of the participants were waiting for the shuttle back to the pick up site. I got some fruit (more oranges!), snagged a photo with the ladies, and Hubs and I made our way back to the shuttle. We took the short trip back to the pick up site and made the short (but agonizingly slow) walk back up to the hotel. We showered and passed out for a couple hours. Hubs went for a walk to get some lunch while I slept more in the room. We went out for dinner later on after I had time to rest and stretch some. I made him drive to dinner!
That night I tossed and turned in bed, waking more than normal each time, as I was feeling some major pain in my hips while trying to turn/move. I made it through the night somehow with only a couple of trips to the bathroom and we woke between 9 – 10 the next morning. We packed up, making sure to not leave anything behind and headed back to Vegas. I had messaged the event coordinator to ask about where they got their oranges (seriously, AMAZING), but never heard back from them. I was super bummed, as I would have probably bought a case to bring home. You just don’t get good produce in the desert!
All-in-all, AMAZING experience, great trip, and a ton of fun. I am SO glad I signed up for this race and didn’t bail/chicken out due to the training or pregnancy!
Race Stats: Finish Time: 6:27:25 Pace: 18:26 min/mi Crossing that finish line never felt so good!
Me with the ladies (and more oranges!) at the finish line!