Let me start by setting the stage for the Big Sur ½ Marathon..
Since running my last ½ Marathon in the Luberon I had:
- Started a new job.
- Started a new job where they stock the kitchen like it’s a 7-Eleven.
- Traveled to New York not once but twice for the new job.
- Traveled some 6000+ miles to Buenos Airies for a friend’s 40th Birthday extravaganza
And last but not least…
- Organized a going away party for my beloved Husband as he took off on his year long journey around the Pacific on our 31’ sailboat Murre
Needless to say, there wasn’t much running going on and there was MUCH drinking and eating happening. All those rumors you’ve heard about the wine and steaks in Argentina are ALL true. I got back from that gluttonous trip a mere four days before I was due to run my November race.
My goal was to finish. ANY time would be good. I must admit, I was a tad worried.
What added a sheen of loveliness to the entire event, was that Randall (the husband mentioned above) had plotted a course to meet me in Monterey and cheer me on as I tackled ½ marathon number five.
This was a pretty big deal as; while he’s participated in a couple of my races (realistically 3-4 years ago), he hasn’t been there to cheer me on since my first race the Nike Women’s Marathon in 2005. It was fun to have a supporter there. It was even more fun for Randall as the race start and finish was a mere 500 yards from the Marina so while I was out pounding the pavement he got to sit on the boat and watch the world go by.
Anyway, enough about him let me get on with the race.
Surprisingly, while this is called the Big Sur ½ Marathon the race doesn’t actually go into the hills of Big Sur. THANK GOODNESS! The race was a simple out and back from Monterey along the coastline. We pretty much kept the ocean to one side the entire route which certainly made for a lovely scenic route.
What wasn’t so lovely about the race was the crowded course and the hill I wasn’t expecting. Let me explain about the crowds first.
When you line up for most races they line you up by your estimated finish time. The faster runners get to be in front, with the slower runners bringing up the rear. The idea being that the faster runners would have a clear path in front of them. What inevitably happens is batches of people (you know who you are) park themselves at the beginning of the pack and then proceed to walk four abreast down the street. This requires even the slowest of joggers to have to maneuver around them to pass. Let me ask you…have you been on the highway when there’s some dolt going super slowly? Traffic slowdown across the board. The same thing happens on running courses. I don’t like to drive slowly either.
I’ve never run a race where this hasn’t been an issue. However, usually by mile 4 or 5 the pack of runners has spread out and you’re in with your pace group. Weirdly this didn’t happen until more like mile 11 on the Monterey course. Maybe that’s because I’m actually getting in the top 50th percentile of finishers so there’s just more of us running. I don’t know, all I do know is I ran a full 2/10ths of a mile further than I needed to.
The other unexpected item was a hill. I’d looked at the course elevation map. After the Los Gatos course surprise this is a “must do”. To my untrained eye it looked relatively flat. I’d also run along the path about a year ago and didn’t remember going up any hills. We did, and it was a hill that went on for what seemed like eight miles. The eight mile point was where I turned around to head back to the finish line. Ok, so it wasn’t a big hill by any standards. But when you’re expecting “as flat as a pancake” a gentle up is annoying.
With all the nonsense above the Big Sur ½ Marathon ended up being a pretty good race. I ran the first eight miles (that turn around point had a timing mat) at a 10:08 pace which is pretty darn fast for me. Frankly that statistic makes me happier than anything. Due to my appalling lack of training and enormous levels of gluttony prior to the race I did slow down pretty significantly on the way back. I ended up finishing in a modest 2:20 right on the nose. Not shabby for a slacker.
I created another video of the race. If you can’t see it just click here.
I’m off to Viva Las Vegas next weekend for the annual running of the Las Vegas Rock N’ Roll ½ Marathon. I’ve got thirteen friends joining me on the course this year so it should be fun.
Until next time…