The Unexpected- Monterey Bay Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Holiday Half 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!

When I last left you, I had just received the email that had changed the course of my weekend.

If you are unaware- California is currently on fire, North and South of me; the largest of the fires currently being the Camp Fire and the Woolsey Fire.  Thoughts and prayers to all the victims and first responders.   I knew Woolsey was sending smoke our way but I admit I am bad about geography or maybe I was just naively hopeful when it came to the Camp Fire and Monterey Bay.    

When the wind shifts, it shifts, which is what happened on Saturday.   As a person with asthma who has been known to do stupid things (you’ve read about them here) I appreciate BSIM Events making the tough and smart decision for the safety of not only the runners but the volunteers and everyone else involved on race day. 

Within an hour, I had more emails regarding the race cancellation.  For those doing race day bib pick up, runners could still do so for their shirts and bibs at the predetermined location.  Medals would be given out to runners at the finish line festival starting at 7 if runners in the area wanted to come pick them up.  The beer tent was already up so it would start serving beer at 8AM.    You couldn’t run, but you could have a little fun.

I live 2+ hours away and one of the reasons I was doing race day pickup was because I was going to have the dog with me.   My mom was going to hang with her during the race but I wasn’t going to drag either of them 4+ hours just to pick up a shirt.  I felt a little weird picking up a medal for miles that I hadn’t put in but I appreciated the offer.

Then I got an email this week with more post race information.  I have to say that I am really impressed with how BSIM Events is handling this cancellation-

Deferral options???


And it got better-

They donated the food!

I loved this race before for the views, the organization and the on course support but the organizers themselves are class acts- I’ve run Monterey Bay, the Big Sur Marathon and Salinas Valley Half and loved them all.  

Race day may not have gone according to anyone’s plan but I will be back one day.  I waited 3 years, I can wait a little longer, it’s worth it. 

Ever had your race canceled?

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.

Big Sur Marathon Training-Week 17

Just like that, it was race week.

I swear that was the quickest 17 weeks ever.  Shouldn’t it still February?

With the race being just a few days away, I was being very careful with how I planned out my runs and the week.

Monday- Rest I forgot what else I did other than work.

Tuesday- 2.5 miles This was actually supposed to be 5K but I wore different shoes and I could that my legs were not happy with that decision.  So, I decided the smarter choice was just to make the run a little shorter.   Aren’t legs supposed to feel peppy during the days leading up to race day?

Wednesday- Rest No back to back running days this week.

Thursday- Rest I thought about running but I decided to get in a few last minute errands instead.

Friday- 2 miles I took the day off work to pack and get things ready to travel the next day.  I headed out for my shakeout run in the afternoon.  I almost skipped it, I just wasn’t feeling it.  Mother Nature had brought me a lovely visitor. 😒 However I made myself get out the door and get it done and it wasn’t bad at all.  I was glad I followed through.

Saturday- Travel day!  Monterey is not that far away even if I have to take the roundabout way due to Highway 1 being blocked by a large landslide so I was able to sleep in a bit before heading that way.   Packet pick up was about the only thing that went smoothly that day.  We somehow skipped lunch and couldn’t find anywhere to eat.  Then there was the hotel.  I swear I Map Quested it and it was with in walking distance of the race morning bus pickups.  Ummm, no. It was over 4 miles away, not traversible by foot and in a sketchy part of town.   To top it off, it sounded like a herd of elephants was staying in the room upstairs. 😒

Sunday- Big Sur Marathon Did I pull it off? Can I walk now?  Recap to follow.

31.02 miles for the week.

How was your week?

Nerves on the Rises

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!

And I spoke too soon.

The nerves came a callin’.  Ok, they came slamming in.   My sleep patterns have gotten worse, if that’s possible  My heart rates jumps at random moments- I really need to stop looking at my watch.  Oh lord, what was I thinking??

Don’t get me wrong, I am excited for this weekend but right now the anxiety is winning.  I mean I was slower than planned in San Francisco, am I going to pull this off?

I mean- no big deal, right?

Elevation

And most people would be worried about the part in the red circle.  But nope, I’m worried about the blue circle.  That flat is going to hurt.  I’m not a fan of flat.  But then this may make me change my mind about hills.

Oh and have I ever mentioned that I have a thing about bridges?  I don’t like them. Nope.  You may be thinking- but wait- Fallon, you ran 2 races across the Golden Gate Bridge. Yup and it was so damn fogged over with marine layer both times I could lie to myself about the whole bridge part.  And no, it’s not the heights part- it’s the bridge.   This bridge is gorgeous but I am a little anxious.

However, let’s focus on the positive- Mai, Aly, Martin and Diane will be there.  Other BibRave Pros I haven’t met will be there.  The views off of Highway 1 are amazing- I drove home via my tiny portion of it tonight just to calm myself down.   The Monterey Half remains one of my favorite races, if Big Sur is anything like that, I will be so happy.  I will need to carry an extra battery for my phone which I need to figure out but it’s worth it.

I have a tentative strategy for the race but it’s kind of crazy so I won’t even type it.

Wish me luck.

Any tips to help me calm down????

Big Sur Marathon Training-Week 16

And with the end of week 16, there’s only 7 days to go.   And yet, I’m still waiting for the freak out.

If you were reading this blog when I was training for San Francisco then you may remember that I was hot mess for the entire month of July leading to the race.   I was breaking things, tripping, my heart rate was spiking all the time and I was having panic attacks.   So far, that hasn’t happened yet.  I am sure it will happen at one point and time.   I mean I have leg issues, doubts and oh, according to my app, I am supposed to be on my period.  Thanks Mother Nature.  😒 But until then the penny is still in the air.

So let’s get to last week.  I was still giving my leg some space so my mileage is once again super low.   I also came to an interesting theory- which may be me grasping at straws but hey plot twist- last minute shoe change!  Because that seems like a great idea right?

Monday- 1.12 miles/ PT exercises So this was not supposed to be this short but I was having a big wardrobe malfunction.  My pants kept sliding down.  I don’t mean they needed a slight adjustment, I mean they falling down and taking my underwear with them.  😛  After the 5th time in the space of a mile, I gave up.   It may be time to retire those crops.   Except when it came time to do laundry- I washed them instead of tossing them.

Tuesday- PT exercises I had a super early DR appointment so it seemed like a very long day.

Wednesday- 3.11 miles/ PT exercises I was dressed much more appropriately.   This run went pretty well.  Maybe too well as I ran too fast.   Why do I keep doing that??   I mean what business do I have running a 9 minute mile this close to race day?  This isn’t 3 years ago!  That’s now how I roll these days.  But it was kind of fun.

Thursday- PT exercises  I am sure something else happened but I can’t remember what.

Friday- PT Exercises Who am I???? But my leg was feeling better so yay!

Saturday- Nada I had planned on running in the morning as I was volunteering at a silent auction for Habitat for Humanity that evening.  However my mother and I had talked about doing an 8 mile trail on Sunday instead so I passed on the run and got a little more sleep and ran some errands before heading to the SLO Airport for my shift.  Where I proceeded to get lost trying to figure out where to park.   A couple hours into my shift, I knew boots were a very bad idea.  Bad idea.  After 6 hours of that, I was fried.  I let my mother know that the trail was no longer likely.

Sunday- 5.29 miles The trail might have been cooler.  Instead I headed out in the afternoon and it was around 86*.  Yeah, I’m not acclimated yet.  It was a little rough.  Plus, once again I had moments where I was running too fast.  Stupid.  Trust me, the warmth got to me and I slowed way down.  Wanted more miles but I was beat.

9.53 miles for week.  I miscounted!  I really meant to at least be over 10 miles but I screwed up the math.  How do I do that with only 3 runs??  Oops.

7 days people. 7 days.

How was your week?