Big Sur Marathon Recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry into Big Sur International Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Race morning began dark and early.  Seriously, setting my alarm for 2:45 the night before had made me want to cry.  But, truthfully, I had slept so poorly, that I was awake before my alarm went off.   I got up and got ready, popped a Dramamine and we were out the door by 3:40.  Thanks to my hotel snafu, my mother had to get up early too and drive me to the bus pick up.   Thanks mom!

My bus ticket was pretty specific about the buses leaving by 4:15 but I was in line for almost 30 minutes and didn’t even board a bus until after 4:30.   While I was waiting in line, a guy in front of me mowed down a bagel and then a cookie.  I realize I am odd in that I don’t eat before races but I still questioned his choices knowing the road we were about to drive on.  Once on the bus, I somehow was (un)lucky enough to snag a sit with a wheel well so my knees were in my chest the whole ride.  Then I closed my eyes and tried to doze off in an effort to fight off any potential car sickness.  I know how windy Highway 1 is, combine that with a school bus and I wasn’t taking any chances.   Unlike the man who was chowing down in line who almost lost his cookies 30 minutes into the drive.   Once we arrived, we had to walk a ways up the highway to get to the starting area.  By the time I tossed my gear bag to the volunteers (literally), used the porta-potties and seeded myself in the corrals, my Garmin showed that I had walked 1.5 miles.

Being so unsure how this race would go and so nervous about the cut off, I admit I did something I never have before.  I seeded myself in Wave 2- which was for runners hoping to finish under 4:45.  I mentally needed those extra 5 minutes! I did put myself all the way to the back though because I felt guilty.   Then listening to a few runners talk about about their average times (4:00’s) and how they were just hoping to finish after driving the course and seeing all the hills the day before didn’t help calm the nerves.  But after the National Anthem- it was go time.  I was running my second marathon.  Little did I know the next hours would see both a PR attempt and my first almost DNF.

Miles 1-10- 10:19, 10:41, 10:17, 10:56, 11:23, 11:35, 12:00, 12:14, 12:27, 10:38

I was not watching my watch so I had no idea what my pace was.  I focused on keeping it comfortable.  I was enjoying the woodsy feel of running through Big Sur with all the trees along the Highway.  I was very surprised by how many people were using the port-a-potties 100 yards from the start line.   There were also a ton of guys peeling off into the woods to relieve themselves.  No fair.  As you can see by my splits, I wasn’t feeling a lot of the hills.  They were there but I didn’t walk until mile 6 and that was only because I told myself to not be stupid and tire myself out as I still had 20 miles to go.

We could now see the ocean to our left which was awesome.  I was taking water at each aid station as well as drinking from the 2 bottles I had in my pack.  I also had to pee. Crap.  But the lines were so long at all aid stations! Not only that, there were music spots set along the highway and each performer had their own port a potty too and runners were lined up at those! I didn’t want to stop yet so I just kept going.   I knew the BIG hill was coming and that could make or break the race.   We were climbing a hill in mile 8 and I heard a woman ask if this was the worst one- I was wondering if she had looked at the course map- but a man responded- yeah no.

Miles 11-12 15:04, 14:12 The Climb

You could see it coming for over a mile. Runners were sprinkled like confetti as they wound around and up.  I was torn between trying to run it and conserving energy.  As my mile splits show, I walked 98% of these miles. I had checked my overall average pace before starting the hill and it was at 11:20, these miles dropped it to 11:3something.  My Garmin says we gained 600 feet, but my Garmin is also a little screwy as it says the overall elevation gain for the race was 3000.  Strava does agree with these 2 miles though.   I just put my head down and power walked my way to the top.  The drummers almost at the top made me smile.  It also rained these miles with crazy winds- why had I tossed my gloves back at mile 5??

Miles 13-16 10:10, 11:05, 13:32, 12:59

What goes up must come down but it was a shorter downhill than I would have liked and led us right into another hill.  Smile, Fallon, you like hills.  13 also brought us to Bixby Bridge.  The day was overcast but the bridge was still pretty and I made myself slow down and take pictures- partially to prove I didn’t freak out.  😛  A camera crew and piano player were stationed on the other side of the bridge.

15 was where the pain started.  My back was hurting pretty badly but I was hoping a run/ walk strategy would loosen it up.   At 16, I checked my time and thought if I could hold onto 12:00-12:15 miles, I had a solid PR in my grasp, my back just needed to cooperate. In retrospect, that was naive and I probably jinxed myself.

Miles 17-21 13:50, 13:41, 13:39, 14:19, 14:11

I damn near quit.  The course was gorgeous, I wasn’t tired but my back hurt.  The more my back hurt, the more I walked.  The more I walked, the more my hips tightened up and my knees started to hurt.  WTH?!  I stopped twice and tried to stretch out my back.  Each time a SAG wagon drove by, I considered flagging them down.   But I kept going.  Cell service was horrible out there but occasionally texts from my mom and Kate were getting though and those were so needed.  I had also turned my music on in an effort to block out my doubts and thoughts.

Miles 22-26 14:50, 13:11, 14:47, 14:37, 14:15

They say if you don’t reach mile 21.2 by 11:50, you are not allowed to continue and are swept from the course.  To back this up, there were 3 school buses parked at mile 21.2.  I hit 21.2 at 11:15.    I’d made it this far, I was damn well going to finish.   My back was still hurting, my hips were squawking and now my feet hurt.  Around 24, I briefly considered tossing my shoes and finishing in my socks.  Couldn’t hurt any worse, right?   The course was still full of hills but in a way I think I that helped me.  I think a flat last 10 miles would have broken me, the constant up and down was at least letting me use different muscles.   However every single picture of me is from the last half of the course when I’m struggling and walking.  Thanks guys.   There was a photographer who had a sign warning that they were ahead so runners could smile- or in my case, run- so I picked it up to hobble run past him only to round a small corner and see the finish line.  RUN!

Finish- 5:36:52

Give me my medal and someone take these shoes!  Just kidding, I didn’t say that.   I thanked the volunteer for the medal-which is awesome- and smiled (grimaced?) for pictures before getting all the food treats and meeting up with my mom.

Some say that you should expect to add a minute per mile to your marathon time at Big Sur, I was only about 30 seconds each mile.   It wasn’t the race I had hoped for but it also wasn’t the race I had feared either.  I also proved to myself that first one wasn’t a fluke.   I can do hard things, just need to stop breaking myself along the way.

Maybe I’ll you see you again one day, Big Sur.

Run to the Music 9

Big Sur Edition 🙂

Oh, for crying out loud, I haven’t shared a music post since June 21??? How the flip did that happen?  Also, I started these posts when I was training for San Francisco in 2016 and I am only on 9? Slacker.

Well, it’s a good thing I have 2 songs today then.

Shinedown- Devil

I went to grab this video for this post and fell down a YouTube hole watching ALL the Shinedown videos.   I could spend a long time there.

Ok, back to the post- I love this band, this band has got me through training and with be with me on race day and if I have my way, I will see them in concert in August. 🤞 I’ve been a fan for years and can find a song to fit any purpose.  If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have seen me reference them in a #tbt post last week.  And FYI, they have the best cover of Simple Man from Lynyrd Skynyrd ever, actually it might be the best version ever.  Yes, I said that.

I loved this song when it first came out just because it was awesome, seriously, I’m hard pressed to think of one of their songs I don’t like- but then I watched a behind the scenes about the meaning of the song.   The “devil” being referred to is the thing that scares you whatever that may be.  So for me right now that could be the miles, the hills, my leg, my side- I have so many options!   So, yeah, I will playing this when things are getting heavy… like my legs.  😛

  • Side note- love the band, love the song but the video is a little odd.  I could have done with the baby bird moment.  Chew your own damn food.🤣

Papa Roach- Born for Greatness

On the other hand, this video is awesome if you stick around to the end.   I’ve shared this song before actually- last April with only a lyric video- but it hasn’t left ANY of my playlists since.  In fact it spawned my motto for the year- Sound the Alarm.  However I never hit publish on that post so surprise!   This song reminds me that we can be better and do better if we only wake up.     And I try not to whine too much when I think about the fact that they are on tour in CA this year but it either doesn’t fit my schedule or is in a town I won’t go to at night.  😢

I have another song that helps get me up hills these days but I’ll save that for another day.

What’s in your ear these days?

Big Sur Marathon Training-Week 15

I may have taken week 1 of taper a little too far.  And you know what?  I am ok with that.

At this point, cramming all the miles in isn’t going to help me come race day, in fact with this groin/leg issue, it could actually hinder me.  Maybe that’s just something I told myself as I embraced the Slacker in me but I’m still ok with it.

Work was busy in odd ways, time moved quicker than I needed it to and things didn’t always work out.  I threw my pen in the air a few times.   Bad habit, I know but I always make sure there are no customers around when I do it.  😛

I crossed some things off my to do list and went to the movies and saw Rampage.  It’s pretty good but then it’s rare that I dislike a movie with The Rock in it so I was kind of biased.

So how about the running?

Monday/ Tuesday- PT exercises & stretching I had planned on taking these 2 days off from running after my last long run.   I made sure to stretch really well and focused on my PT exercises each night.

Wednesday- Rest w/ some stretching.  I was going to run but I decided to give the leg one more day.  There was also something else but I can’t remember what it is.  Oops.

Thursday- 3.26 miles I headed to the river path after work a little nervous about my leg.  It was a little sore at the start but it loosened up and the run was pretty good.  However it was way too fast.  I told myself to keep all my miles in the 12’s this week to give my leg a break and my brain too.  Plus with how I’ve been feeling, I didn’t think that would be too hard.   However these were in the 10’s and a negative split at that.  Oops.

Friday- Nada Open to close, my brain was mentally fried and I was just done.  I picked up a pizza on the way home.

Saturday- 4.53 miles I headed out in the afternoon for a few easy miles except once again I was moving way too fast.  I obviously had no control over myself last week.  Luckily I knew my mother was out for a walk on the same roads so I had built in excuses to walk when my route met up with hers.  So my running portions may have been too fast but my overall pace looks perfectly slow.  😜

Sunday- Rest.  I’m not going to say oops.  When my alarm went off in the morning for my long run, I had a pounding migraine.  It was the throbbing kind and I can’t run through those, I slapped the phone off, pulled the covers over my head and tried to hide from everything.   The pain eased by mid afternoon and I could have headed out for my run but honestly, I didn’t want to.  My leg was sore, my head still hurt and overall I was concerned that doing the miles for the sake of the miles would actually do more harm than good.  Maybe that’s just something I told myself but I’m still good with it.   Besides I wasn’t completely lazy- I did clean my car- well the inside, and trust me that was quite the work out.

7.79 miles for the week.   I should be mad or feel guilty about that but I don’t.   Whether I regret this later remains to be seen.

How was your week?

Big Sur Marathon Training-Week 14

Don’t freak out, don’t freak out.

My leg is giving me grief.  My back is putting up a fight.  I feel like I am barely running any miles and I am falling apart.  What gives?!  I really should be sleeping more.   How do I become less of an night owl??

Oh my gawd, I made it to taper.  Even though my whole training cycle has been another runner’s taper, haha.   Last week was a rather pitiful peak week but it’s done.

Monday- 2.62 miles  The irony of the mileage of this run is not lost on me.  My leg was not on board.  In fact it protested something fierce.  Fierce to the point of pain and I decided that rest days after long runs were going to have to become a thing during the next few weeks of this training cycle.   I turned around fairly soon into the run and headed back to the car trying not to be alarmed.

Tuesday- Nada I could feel my leg every time I moved.  From the car to work.  Every time I got off my chair or stood still too long.  Boo.

Wednesday-More of the same.

Thursday- 2.3 miles I headed for the lake path hoping the dirt path would be friendly to me and that I could get in a good 4-5 miles.   But that did not happen.  I managed 2 laps of the lake before I threw in the towel.  I may have pushed for more but with this weekend being my last chance to get in 20 miles I figured that was more important.

Friday- Rest I took a vacation day for a once again canceled tennis trip -rain, so I spent the day attempting to catch up on sleep and rest my leg.

Saturday- More of the same. Another rainy day.  I had started reorganizing my closet on Friday and it turned into the never ending project.  🤣

Sunday- 18.25 miles I overslept and started a little later than planned, oops.  I was also running in what I hoped would be my race day outfit to see how it worked out.  With my leg being fussy all week, I wanted to keep the run slow and steady and walk whenever I needed.  And things were actually good for the first 10-12 miles.  The temp was pleasant, my leg was cooperating and I wasn’t tired.  My clothing was another story.  My tank was riding up into a crop top, the shorties under my skirt kept moving around, my pack was shifting down my back, I had to put BodyGlide on at mile 6.  I don’t usually have to use BodyGlide when I wear skirts.  Grrr.   And my shoes were starting to hurt my feet.

The problem arose around mile 14- my back started to hurt.  And I slowed way down.  So much so, that I knew I was going to have a problem keeping my lunch plans with my mother.  Hence the 18.25.  My lower back was super cranky, I think part of the problem was the bladder of water in the back of my pack.  I stopped carrying water on my back due to back pain a few months back and stupidly forgot about it. Silly Slacker.  So another lesson learned- no bladder in the pack on race day- bottles in the front only.

When I mentioned how much slower I had gotten towards the end of the run during the lunch, my mother asked what the minimum pace was before being swept at Big Sur.  Thanks Mom.

23.17 miles for the week.  Not the 20 miler I was hoping for but not horrible.  I am trying to think positive… or maybe I am just in denial.

How was your week?

Big Sur Marathon Training-Week 10

Oh, week 10, why you gotta play me like that?

If I ever train for another marathon, I swear I may skip week 10.  Just go from week 9 to week 11, you know like they skip floor 13 for some high rises?  Week 10 is cursed to be a hot mess.  During San Francisco training, week 10 was the breaking point with Hanson’s and I spent the last weeks just trying to hang on and get through the race without making my leg worse.

This time- I managed to hurt everything.   Right shin. Left shin.   Pulled a left groin muscle.  Popped/ pulled something on the right side of my back.   Oh and had a panic attack on the side of the road.    As for running?  I pulled off a whopping, crawling 15.75 miles last week.

So let’s whine talk about what I managed to do-

Tuesday- 1.54 miles I headed to lake path after work, looking forward to bringing it back into play.  The path being back means speed work is an option again and I was looking forward to going back to 4 days a week.  However my legs didn’t get the memo.  I knew right away something was wrong but I was hoping it would go away after a lap of the lake.  My left shin hurt but the scary part was my right shin.  I felt like something was loose under the skin- kind of like the muscle was pulling away from the bone.   It wasn’t getting better, getting worse in fact so I called if after a lap.  Grrr.

Saturday- Rain What do runners in denial of injuries do?  Buy new kicks.

Sunday-   12.55 run/ 1.66 walk The plan called for 18 and that’s what I set out to do.  However between all the rain of the week and all the pains I had been feeling, I was tired and not feeling it but I told myself to get over it.  I forgot my pepper spray and had to turn around to get it.   I had to change my route less than 1/4 mile in as there was a funeral at the cemetery and I try to not run past when there are actual services.   I started out slow and it never got any faster.  I was dragging around mile 7 when a passer-by leaned out their car window and yelled “good job” with a thumbs up.  It gave me a second wind for about 5 minutes but also made me wonder if I looked as rough as I felt.

My legs were aching, my feet felt like they were swelling.  It was 70+* and I was hot.   I was so damn thirsty and I had 2 bottles of water in my pack.  I stopped for a bathroom break around mile 10 and doused my hat and Buff in water.  I kept trying to move faster but I just kept moving through quicksand.  I couldn’t catch my breath and it just got worse.  By mile 11 I was sitting on the side of the road having a freaking panic attack, crying.

I somewhat pulled myself together, ha, called my mom and asked her if she wanted to join me for my last miles so I would have some company.  She said no and told me I should quit and she would come get me and give me a ride.  I was stubborn and said no.   I tried to suck it up and run on.  At mile 12.55, I knew I was being stupid.  My pace was in the toilet and my head still wasn’t right.   I stopped my watch and decided to walk a shorter way home.   That was still almost another 3 miles.  I didn’t make it.  I ended up calling for that ride.

I was so damn irritated with myself for not finishing 18 but I also knew that pushing on would have done more harm than good.  As it was, I was limping, dehydrated and exhausted.  I was done.

Now starts week 11… and I am filled with doubt and lingering muscle pain.  Oh boy.

How was your week?  Tell me something good!