Its official, I completed my longest race to date on Sunday, the Big Sur 9 miler! Not only was the weather perfect for running, but I got to run alongside a few of the top marathon finishers, get interviewed by local news and survived even with the tail end of my cold!
So, my day got off to a slow start since I had trouble sleeping the night before. I woke up thinking, “am I really going to do this today, CAN I really do this today”. Under normal circumstances the answer would be a resounding yes, I mean I did a 7.2 mi run/walk the week before (in memory of Boston), and was barely even sore the next day. Except this time was different, I got sick Mon/Tues with a cold and was at the tail end of it by Sunday morning. While eating my peanut butter oatmeal breakfast, I just said “You CAN do this” and that gave me the focus to get out the door and start the race off with a positive attitude.
Since I am a ‘local’ I got to the event about an hour early and I SCORED a LUCKY parking spot near Marathon Village. The Crossroads shopping center parking lot was already pretty packed, some people had to drive around and around….I just happened to turn down an area where someone was leaving (yay me!). To kill the hour, I walked around, jogged a bit, stretched, peed about 3 times from nerves and eyed all the amazing food for pre-race even though I didn’t eat anything. Bagels and muffins were free, and starbucks had a little booth nearby! It was chilly walking around, so I was very thankful to myself for bringing an extra layer to wear for the race and my jacket for warming up. I loved and used the “Sweats” area by Marathon Village, where you could put your before/after clothes in a bag, detach your top of bib “Sweats” sticker and pick your stuff up after the race.
The race started at 7:40am, a good 5 minutes early (thankfully) since we lined up at 7:30 and were getting antsy! The first three miles went pretty smoothly, we headed south on Hwy 1, passed a charismatic band, turned off onto a residential street, headed down an ocean viewing trail (see banner image at top), and the racers split when we got back to Hwy 1: 5k turned L to head to finish line and 9miler headed R to go to Pt. Lobos State Park. It was here that the first 10.9 miler runners passed in the opposite direction, many smiling (they were almost done!) and one guy was so stoked that he was singing “Its a beautiful day in the neighborhood”. So inspiring! I wanted to make sure I was smiling at the end of my race!
The first mile was up a long hill, which was fine since it wasn’t too steep, but I could feel myself getting a bit winded on the second hill just before mile 3. I stopped and walked a bit to recover, then kept running until mile 4. During this time I ran by a few live bands, a guy dressed kind of like a leprechaun in Pt. Lobos Park (redwood area) who was playing a pipe or flute. Then I ran by a park ranger who was kind enough to cheer us on and leave his car door open to play some classical music as we ran by. Check out some of the pictures I took from Pt. Lobos below, it was beautiful!!!
By the time I hit mile 6 I was almost out of Pt. Lobos State Park. The course was basically an ‘out and back’ trail, with the turnaround around mile 4.5. Again, I walked as needed, but around mile 7 I decided to just run the rest of the way. It was at this time that a few biking Course Marshalls told us to move to the far left. Pretty soon a convertible Jaguar official Pace Car was passing us on the right (in the center of the road we were running on the L side of the Hwy 1 back to finish line) and I thought, hm that’s weird, what’s a pace car doing in the middle of the 9 miler?
Soon after Marathon runner #1, Adam Roach (local) blew by me! Then another marathon runner not 50 yds behind Roach, Matthew Laye, blew by me too! I overheard a pace kid with a clock shout to Laye “looking good, you’re at a 5:40 pace! HOLY MOLY! Here I am running twice as slow as this guy and a distance 2.5 times shorter. I WAS AWESTRUCK having these guys pass me! Had I walked more or chosen a different event to race, I would have missed this opportunity of a lifetime!! It was SO COOL!!!! And this inspired me to keep running up the last hill, pick up my pace at mile marker 26 and sprint across the finish line with arms in air and a huge smile on my face!
I only sort of kept track of my time with my phone (when taking picture) and I estimated my time around 1hr 40 which was pretty close to my official time 1:37:54! My goal before I was sick was to be sub 1:45 and with being sick, just to finish! So I’m super happy with my accomplishment! By default this is a PR, but really I feel like I’ve gone through my rite of passage into distance running 🙂