Sunday, April 27, 2008

Big Sur

We flew into San Jose Friday afternoon, rented some kind of cool car that Eric is in love with and headed for Monterey. We ran into a lot of traffic, so eventually pulled off for dinner. By the time we were back on the road, traffic was clear. We got into Monterey at dusk and had time for a quick walk along the beach. Saturday morning we slept in, then made our way to the packet pick up. We picked up a couple "I survived Hurricane Point" official finishers shirts, some gu for Eric and a new pair of sunglasses for me. After that we searched and searched for a Starbucks so I could get a rice krispy treat to carry in the race. We decided a drive of the course in the cool car was in order. Sure seemed like a long way to drive, much less run! We followed that up with a search for Cannery Row, where we ran into Darrell and his son Tyler. We chatted for a while, then Eric and I left to find some groceries.

Later, we headed over to a great pasta place to meet up with Darrell, Tyler, Dori and Donald. Dori spotted us right away, and a few minutes later, Donald walked up, followed shortly by Darrell. We took pictures (all picture posting will have to wait till we are home). Once we were seated, Donald threw out a challenge. To find out what it was, you'll have to wait for Eric to post, because it was his challenge. I will just say that it was fun and hilarious. We had a great evening with everyone - a big thanks to Donald for hosting us! It is amazing how easy it is to talk to bloggers when we meet - the talk soon turns to running, and it's like we've known each other for ever.

Race morning rolled around early - 3 am. We had to be on a 4:15 bus (one of the later ones) and we had decided to walk the half mile to the pick-up point. As we walked over, we saw lots of buses going by. School buses, short buses and luxury buses. Can you guess which we got to ride on? The short bus! After an hour drive, we were at the start. We got off the bus to find that it was amazingly warm. Warm enough that we waited in our singlets with a garbage bag over. No coats, no gloves. I was actually a little worried about it, but Eric assured me we were in a protected spot, and once the wind hit us, we'd stay cool. Eric and I got in side-by-side porta-potty lines, where Eric proceeded to trash-talk me about getting to the potty first. The people around us thought we were hysterical. I think it is possible that the young man in front of Eric will never look at old married couples the same again.

Finally it was time to start. They lined us up by estimated finish time, so I went out first and walked way, way back. They had a cool start, with the national anthem, and releasing a flock of doves. Once started, it took me four minutes to cross the mat. Here is what I have to say about Big Sur - fabulous scenery, beautiful weather (this year) and lots of hills. The course went something like this: up, up, up, down, down, down, repeat for 26.2 miles. I felt great starting out - running my 5/1 regularly, up hill and down. I chatted with other runners and kept a steady pace. There was a big long hill at about mile eight, where the wind was blowing so hard and cold that I thought maybe I was mistaken about where Hurricane Ridge was. I knew it wasn't Hurricane Ridge when I got to the top though - I knew it was two miles long and I thought it came at mile 11. It actually came at 10. I kept moving up, alternating running and walking on a shorter cycle. I loved the drummers at the bottom they were incredible. Once at the top, I really enjoyed the downhill. I'm not sure where it was exactly, but I saw Tyler, Darrell's son during a walk break. He ran a relay leg and was cheering us on from the side.

A guy running beside me told me he liked my pace. We chatted a minute, then he left me on my walk break. A while later I caught him, and he asked if he could run with me. This was his first marathon and he was struggling a bit. We ran together for about four miles. I coaxed him up the hills and hopefully, kept him distracted with stories. He had to break for the potties and I left him behind. It was kind of hard to leave him, but I also wanted to keep moving. I never saw him again.

I started worrying about making the cut-off for mile 22. I was pretty sure I was good, but I wanted to be sure. I made it with 20 minutes to spare. Right at 22, I stepped on a rock and laid my ankle on it's side. I almost fell, but caught my balance. For about four steps, I wasn't sure it was going to support me, but it held, and after a minute or two did not hurt at all. At mile 23 I thought to myself that if I could just run my normal week day pace, I could be done in 39 minutes...however, I was not quite at my weekday pace - I was about a minute over. I was watching for Eric from about 24 on, and found him about a mile from the finish. He walked up the last big hill with me, then I ran it in. I forgot to turn off my Garmin till well after I finished, but I looked it up and my chip time was 5:35 and change. I feel really good about that - it was warm, it was hilly, the race info said to add 20 minutes to your expected time, and I turned in my regular time!

We wrapped it up and got on the bus for Monterey. The route back took us right in front of the hotel, and the bus stopped at the stop light. Another runner asked if she could get off there, and the driver let her, so Eric and I hopped off too - saving us a half-mile walk (much appreciated).


We had a great meal on Cannery Row, and a Starbucks, and a double chocolate Dove ice cream bar. I think I'm recovered. In about an hour, we're off to meet Dori and her husband for coffee. All in all, an excellent day.

I re-blistered all my blisters from Yakima. That's three toes worth. And, once again, I have that weird bright red rash on my feet, from toes to ankles. I guess it has to do with heat, though doesn't look like a typical heat rash. These are the same socks I've run in forever, so who knows?
I liked this course - it is stunning. I didn't like the sharp camber of the road (for those who've run Yakima, this is worse). Donald - the only thing I missed was the strawberries - they were gone when I got to the aid station, and gone when I got to the finish. As for how it compares to others - it's tough. Your hills are relentless hills. I enjoyed it all!

Tomorrow, Eric is going to makes some work-related calls in the area, and I am hanging out in Monterey, then we head home Tuesday. I've got one day at home, where I expect a 12 hour day, then I am off to a two day retreat. I'm gonna enjoy this break while it lasts!

31 comments:

Laura H said...

Nice report! And hope that ankle is fine too. I'm so envious you get to spend some extra time down there - the rain here continues as I type! Have a great break and enjoy the heck out of it!

robtherunner said...

Congratulations! Sounds like it was worth the trip. Enjoy your day tomorrow.

Donald said...

Hooray! I looked up your time online and was glad to see you way under the cutoff. That's an awfully quick race report you made!

Sorry you didn't get the strawberries! Eric can tell you all about them - he and I were there together this morning. I'll post a picture of them later, too.

It was great to meet you, and I'm glad you had a good race experience. Hopefully I can return the visit in WA someday.

craig said...

Gald you enjoyed the run Michelle. I enjoyed the report.

Sarah Elaine said...

Well done! We are blister buddies this weekend, that's for sure.

I can NOT imagine running in that heat. I think I'd melt away and you'd be scraping up off the pavement. Nice job.

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

Glad you had a good marathon. Great time for all those hills! Isn't Monterey/Carmel Beautiful? Paul and I were there once, LOVED it and would enjoy going back!
Jenny

Makita said...

Another great race - another enjoyable race report! Congrats on the great time with those coastal hills! :D

Randy - Maniac #788 said...

Great report and great race Michelle, even with all the hills, much better than my showing yesterday at the OKC Marathon, but I did finish and I know that is what is important.

JustRun said...

Great report! I'm glad you guys are enjoying yourselves.

King Arthur said...

Great race Michelle. That sounds like my kinda course. I'll have to put it on my "must run someday when the kids are all grown up" list.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

yay! what fun. you got to run near where I grew up! hope the ankle is ok :)

Jon said...

Ouch-a-ma-gouch-a! Hope your ankle is doing better. Big Sur sounds like a Stevie Ray course (roly poly) with the way you described it.

Sunshine said...

Oh, the marathon I most want to and will never get to run! Loved reading about it. Thanks.

I like driving the course the day before a marathon.. and it always seems so long, I can't believe we can run it. And why can't they have enough strawberries so they don't run out.

Blessings for the ankle and the blisters and the quiet time.
And a million congratulations.

E-Speed said...

I've heard that is a beautiful but tough course. Glad you had a good performance out there! Hope that ankle is okay!

Meghan said...

Michelle,

But I'm still waiting to find out who made it into the porta potties first!

Oh it sounds like a lovely day! My Montana friend was there and she said it was so hot and she's sunburned but it was great. Congratulations on yet another great race. You have what you call off races here and there, but you put up so many good ones it's almost unfair! ;)

Take care of those blisters. Oh, and I get a heat rash under my socks, too.

Meghan

Sarah said...

Sounds like a fun race! And congrats on a great time on a tough course. I think you have this running thing down. : )

Juls said...

I am glad that you loved it, and that your ankle let you finish. I ran Big Sur as my 3rd marathon and loved it (hills and all). Congrats!

Jack said...

Congratulations, sounds like a great place to race, and you sure did a good job! Emjoy your retreat!

Thomas said...

I'm sorry you missed out on the strawberries. They're the second best thing about Big Sur, apparently, after the scenery.

With your marathon history I'm not at all surprised you recover so quickly. It gets a little bit easier each time.

Darrell said...

Woohoo! I'm so glad you made the whole thing. It was amazing wasn't it?

Tyler and I drove the course after dinner Saturday. The views were fabuluous. Not running was difficult but I had a lot of fun cheering on the runners at the finish line. I saw Eric and Donald and most of my CA Cruiser running buddies.

It was really nice to get a chance to hang out with you guys again. Congrats on another race run well.

Smithposts said...

Congrats on a great race! The ankle thing had me grabbing for my own for a moment, ouch! I am glad the discomfort went away and you were able to finish. Enjoy the retreat!

olga said...

Michelle, you're awesome! Where did all this speed and strength come from? From your training, of course!!! Go, girl!

Mama said...

It sounds like a wonderful time was had by all. I want to know what kind of car you rented.

See you next Monday.
Lorri

Trevor said...

Congrats on completing one of your dreams and finishing it well! Especially with the double chocolate dove bar. Whew! On to the next one, eh?

mtnrunR said...

from all the pictures that i have seen of the course i can see why people say that is a "must do" marathon. glad you had fun. i think eric should have foot duty after you run. you know, rub them with lotion to get that reddness to go away. and that is after EVERY run he should do that.

cheers, great report.

Steve S said...

Fast time on a hilly course, sounds like you have been sand bagging it lately. ;-)

Joe said...

"Old married couple"???? Ha!!! You guys are great!

Congrats on finishing a tough course so very well!

Cool you saw Darrell and Tyler...he's a terrific guy, as you have learned.

Enjoy your break!!!

Annette said...

Don't you just love Monterey? Great place! Sounds like a good race - but some serious climbing, huh? Nice work!

runliarun said...

This was tough and beautiful, as you are.

Anne said...

I thought for sure that ankle roll was going to be a show stopper. Glad it wasn't and that you survived one of the most beautiful but challenging marathons out there. Of course, look who I'm saying this to -- a true maniac.

Dori said...

Well done, Michelle! I can't believe you wrote such an awesome report just hours after finishing the race. I was sleeping while you were writing.