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 11

Never mind, can I have week 10 back?

Who knew that it would look good by comparison.  😛

This week was a step back week but I had a specific way it was going to go down.  Run Monday and Wednesday after work, 8 miles on Friday since I had the day off due to a tennis thing and then a local half marathon on Sunday.

I hit a minor stumbling block on Monday but wasn’t worried as I still had the rest of the week to catch up.   The tennis trip was canceled due to rain so I debated canceling my vacation day too but decided to keep it after Wednesday night into Thursday morning turned into pure misery.  My stomach hurt so bad, I just wanted to cry.  Thursday morning saw me sitting on the floor by my closet talking myself into getting dressed and forcing myself to go to work.   Things didn’t get much better from there.

Monday- Rest Planned on running but a sudden trip to another work location at the end of the day put a pin in those plans.   Actually I would be at this location for the next 2 days.

Tuesday- Rest Pouring rain and working in the other location kept me from running.  The drive to work was sketchy enough, I wanted to get home and off the road as soon as possible.

Wednesday- 3.30 miles Once again at the other location which meant the only running option was changing ad heading back to home town.  I hit up the river path and hoped to break in my new Altra’s.   While I had no real break in period for the Torin’s, that is not going to be true for these Intuition’s.   My calves and achilles were super tight so I kept stopping to stretch them out.  Which gave me more time to enjoy the sunset.  😊  I also made my last mile a bit speedier than my past few runs.  I think I’ve made the run/ walk intervals a crutch.  They were only supposed to be for long runs for Big Sur practice but they’ve become more of an every run thing.  Oops.

Thursday- 2.3 miles The start of the pain days.  I headed to the lake path after work hoping that a few miles would help make things better.  I figured the path was a good idea because if things went south, the car was never that far away and there are bathrooms there if needed.  It wasn’t a miserable run but it wasn’t marvelous either.  Nor did it seem to help the pain or make it worse.  Just to be on the safe side, I called it at just shy of 2 laps of the lake.

Which was probably a good idea as that night I was in so much pain, I damn near went to the ER.

Friday- Rest Less pain than the day before.   I had the day off from work due to the now canceled tennis trip but I knew I wasn’t getting in my 8 miles like planned.  In fact, I knew I was barely going to do anything.  I was also beginning to question the likelihood of me running the half marathon on Sunday.   This was further reinforced by another epic bout of pain that evening, this one my mother happened to witness and she was volunteering to drive me to the ER.

Saturday- Rest Less pain but I was still on the fence about the race.  I went to packet pickup and picked up my bib and shirt.  I’d never down graded a race before but I also didn’t think I had a DNF in me if it came to that.  If you’ve been following me for a while, then you may recall that I have a proclivity for running races when I shouldn’t or finishing them when I know I shouldn’t.   My mother was lecturing me and I was texting Kate who was trying to talk me down.  In our Squadrunner channel, James and Dorothea were also trying to talk some sense into me.   I went to bed mostly decided to drop to the 5K but still thinking about the half.  I love this half and it would be half #30.

Sunday- Wine Country Run 5K  Holy crap, I did something smart.  😛  Race recap to come but damn it was cold!

8.71 miles for the week.  Sunday evening was actually the best my stomach has felt in days so fingers crossed that stays.  The coming week has tons of rain and a 19 miler on the schedule.

As for my stomach- my gastroenterologist can’t see me until the middle of May.  So either I get lucky and snag a cancellation or I wait it out.  Otherwise another round like this week may send me to the ER before then.

So, someone tell me something good!

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!

Rambling On 29

Let’s ramble on a Thursday.

I had to drive on my spare tire on Monday.  Crap, that thing was squirrelly.  So, FYI, if you have an Escape- the spare is creepy.

On Tuesday, I ripped my pants.  In a very inappropriate place.   I work 45 minutes away from home and work town doesn’t really have any clothing stores.  Well, crap, now what?  Well, I have amazing co-workers who literally give you the skirt they were wearing.   😯  And don’t worry, she was still good as there was something in our donation pile that fit her.  Which was actually some clothes of mine I don’t fit into anymore but let’s not got there.

They are predicting rain for this weekend and next weekend.  Seriously?!?! Do you how many miles are on the schedule?  Nope, not going to think about it.

I finally tested out the lake path for the first time this year.  It was short due to some odd feeling in my leg but it was nice to be there.

And super random- why is Matthew McConaughey doing Carl’s Jr. commercials??? I don’t know why I’m weirded out by that but I am.😂

Share something random!

Big Sur Marathon Training-Week 9

Week 9… how is that possible?

Yikes.

Last week was odd.   I had to cover another location for a few hours on Monday, and my tire pressure light was on.  Not cool when you’re driving all over the county and it’s raining.  Oh and I had all my tires checked, rotated balanced the previous week.  Grrrr.   I was supposed to have 2 vacation days due to a tennis trip but it was canceled due to projected rain so I canceled of those vacation days.   The weather was hard to get a handle on as no app or meteorologist could it get it right.  There were other things that added to a very scattered feeling week.    I still feel like I am forgetting something.

Oh and after getting my air checked on Monday, my tires were fine until Sunday when the damn light came on again.  There’s a stinkin’ nail in my tire.

The Plan-

week 9.PNG

Life-

Monday -Wednesday- No Running There should have been but there wasn’t and right now I can’t remember if any of the reasons were actually really good reasons for not running.  I know one day work ran really late but as for the others?

Thursday– The vacation day I gave back. Boo.

Friday- 6 miles  The vacation day I kept as a kind of mental health day.  I slept in and headed out for a run in the afternoon.   It looked clear on the weather app but it lied.  It rained off and on the whole run.   I wanted 7-8 miles but I was so damn cold I couldn’t. 6 rainy miles were good for me.

Saturday- 6 AM miles, 11 PM miles-17 miles total  Hit the snooze button a few too many times and I knew I was splitting my run but it wasn’t supposed to be like this.  It was supposed to be 13 AM and 4 PM.  However, again the weather app lied.

I headed out in the AM planning for 13 but my legs were feeling a little sluggish and my stomach was a little off in a weird way.    At mile 4, I rerouted and reversed my middle loop so I would hit the park with the bathrooms around mile 6 instead of mile 10.  All hell broke loose just after mile 5.  It started with a few drops of rain followed by a few more then the skies opened and just dumped buckets of rain and hail.   Girls running a track race down the street past me started screaming, I tried to run for cover as hail was bouncing off cars.   My shoes were drenched with moments as well as both pairs of socks.    I had a choice to make- try to push on or bail.  It was the shoes that decided it for me.  I don’t want a blister with only 8 weeks of training left.  I also knew I’d passed the high school a mile back and my mother had a tennis practice that she was probably canceling too.  I had a small window to hitch a ride.   I called her as I ran for cover under some solar panels dodging giant puddles.

After lunch and a short nap, I headed out to finish my run.  Oh good lord, my legs were not on board.  This was struggle bus from start to finish.  The sun was out but half the miles were in a flippin’ wind tunnel and the other half had zero air movement.  It was a slog.  Nothing hurt, my legs just didn’t want to work and my little break had let me figure out what was wrong with my stomach, a surprise visit of the hormone variety, so my stomach was still not right and I was feeling more fatigue than usual so I just let it ride.   I basically crawled 11 miles.  Ok, it wasn’t that bad it just felt like it.   But I finished it.

Sunday – 3.5 mile trails  Took my shakeout run to the rails.  Went for elevation gain over pace.   Which was my original thought process back when I created my training plan but considering this is week 9 and it’s the first time I got my butt up a mountain- oops.  Every time I’m out on the trails, I remember how much I love getting my shoes dirty.

26.59 miles for the week.   So now if I could just figure out how to get the beginning of the weeks on track. 😛

How was your week?