Big Sur Half Marathon this past Sunday was a total blast and a complete success! Not only did I PR by knocking off 6 minutes, but I also got to run one of the most beautiful courses ever, on "the edge of the western world".
I left for Monterey early Saturday morning and met up with my mom, who was driving down from Sacramento to spend the weekend with me and be my personal cheerleader. After checking into our hotel we headed to the expo to pick up my race packet. It wasn't the most impressive expo, but it had some cool vendors. I got a shirt on sale to wear for the race and an entire box of GU...that should last me like 6 months! The official race shirts were long sleeve tech t's, which I love. I also got some new socks, because I seem to lose one of a pair every time I do laundry : /
After the expo we headed to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I have to admit I was almost more excited for the Aquarium than the race! The exhibits were absolutely incredible, especially the jellyfish, my personal favorite. They also had a special exhibit called "The Secret Lives of Seahorses" which was absolutely fascinating. After a couple hours of walking around I was beginning to fade, so we finished up at the Aquarium and headed to an Italian restaurant to carbo load on some pasta. Finally we made it back to the hotel and man was I exhausted! Definitely wasn't looking forward to my early morning alarm...
I got ready in a daze Sunday morning and then we headed to the start near the wharf. It was absolutely freezing! So much so that I actually just wanted to start running to warm up! We only waited about 20 minutes til the gun went off, then I handed my jacket to my mom and made my way to the start line. The first couple miles I felt really good, other than not being able to feel my hands. I started out with a 10 min/mi pace, and actually felt like I could keep it up. Around mile 3 we ran down Cannery Row while being serenaded by a piano player. This was just one of many moments during this race that brought a smile to my face. Mile 4 brought us into the beautiful neighborhood of Pacific Grove where we encountered our first "rolling hills" of the race. Finally by mile 5 we were along the craggy edge of the Monterey Bay, with waves crashing and birds squawking. at mile 6 I saw my mom, but despite my yelling in her face, she somehow missed me! It was an out-and-back course though, so I saw her again at mile 9 : ) Speaking of, this was my first race that wasn't run point-to-point, and I loved seeing the elites fly past me on mile 10 while I was only at mile 5!
I started to get a little tired around mile 7, and my pace had dropped to about 10:30ish. No big deal, but I still wanted to be consistent and finish strong. We finally reached the turnaround at 8 miles (I love that it was more than halfway!) and at mile 9 I saw my mom again, and this time she was ready for me. As I passed her I yelled back that I was ahead of schedule so she hurried off to the finish line. The course entertainment was really cool, with drummers and jazz bands adding a unique element to the race. On the way back I had a quick chat with another runner who was a local and annual runner of the half, and she told me "as soon as you see the big pink building along the wharf, you're there!". So I kept my eyes peeled for pink from that point on. The last few miles were pretty tough. I knew I was going to PR, but I wanted to knock off as much time as possible. I focused on one foot at a time, and when we reached Cannery Row for the second time, I knew I was close. The last mile was the hardest, but as soon as I saw that finish line the adrenaline kicked in and I was suddenly sprinting! I saw my mom on the side and fought not to collapse as I staggered through the finish chute. But I had done it! Official finish time of 2:17:50, averaging 10:30 per mile.
I was pretty exhausted afterward and had to lay down for a bit. As soon as a I felt better I took some finisher pics in front of the gorgeous wharf with my sweet new ceramic medal, designed by a local artist. Then my mom and I headed back to our hotel so I could shower and get ready. After checking out, we headed down to Cannery Row for some lunch and some shopping. I was still pretty tired so we only stayed for a couple hours, but I loved it! Monterey is an absolutely gorgeous little town, I would love to come back sometime to visit longer. But since we both had a 3 1/2 hour drive back we cut our afternoon short and started the long drive back. Overall it was a really great weekend. Every time I race I'm reminded how much I love to run and how wonderful the running community is. And I loved being able to spend the weekend with my mom, too. So now only 3 more weeks til SBIM! This weekend will be our 20 miler then 2 weeks of taper before the big day!