Two months ago I ran the Big Sur Half Marathon on the Monterey Bay…and I’m only now getting around to write it since I’ve been SO BUSY trying to finish my Master’s Thesis and defense presentation (long story). While I’ve still got work to do to finish my Master’s, this and future blog posts have been written during my vacation to Keystone and/or during thesis editing breaks. Oh and Happy 2014 everyone!
Getting to the Race
Monterey itself has very limited parking, so for all of Big Sur’s events (in both April and November), runners have the option to park at Monterey Peninsula College for free and take a shuttle to the starting line. I got there around 5:45 and found plenty of parking and shuttles (I was able to just walk on since one was waiting and we left within a minute of boarding). Even though the race started at 7am (for elite corrals etc…), I’m the type who likes to get there plenty early just in case. So to kill time, I wandered around the corral areas, walked along the pier, watched the sun rise, droped my belongings off at the Sweats Bag Drop Off, warmed up and actually started the race (I was in corral K) just before 7:30. And in case you were wondering, there were about 100 port-a-potties along the start/end area, plus a couple real bathrooms next to the beach.
The course is an out and back loop, the turn around being just before mile 8. For the first few miles, we ran around Monterey: through El Estero Park and through a tunnel (with a bag piper playing) to travel down to Cannery Row where we were greeted by numerous cheering Monterey Bay Aquarium staff. Once we hit the Monterey Coastal Trail, we saw some of the elite runners rounding the corner of mile 11 (since they were on their way back) and cheered them on as we ran by. Then to add some extra distance, Big Sur had us weave through some residential areas along the border between Monterey/Pacific Grove…with nice short steep hills. Fortunately we headed back down to the Ocean View Blvd along the coastline after.
It was definitely a scenic route; blue skies, light breeze, waves crashing near us, dolphins jumping in the distance, sea lions barking…how many runs exist where you can experience all of these things at one time? Probably not many. I was mostly in my own head during this race, didn’t have any real issues with my body, I just ran. Oh and if you think you can be sneaky and cut back before the turnaround, let me just tell you that Big Sur had one of chip tracker stations AT the turnaround junction for this very purpose! Not that I would have been one of those people, but I did wonder how they would prevent cheating on an out and back loop.
The sun was getting higher in the sky, so I was getting a bit warm (didn’t help that I was in a black long sleeve….), but it was NOTHING like the unbearable heat and humidity during the final few miles of my Disneyland Half Marathon. My legs were getting a bit stiff around mile 8/9 (slower pace during that time while I walked more to loosen legs up), but I did manage some negative splits toward the end 🙂 I was having some issues with MapMyRun pausing when I took photos so I thought I was going at a faster pace than I really was….so in my head I thought I was TOTALLY going to beat my previous goal of 2:30. However, I was 39 seconds, yes THIRTY-NINE seconds shy of making my 2:30 goal….ugh! At least I beat my previous half time by almost a couple minutes, so new PR, yay!
After going through the confusing and never ending maze (not sure why the exit chutes have to be so long, same issue with Disneyland Half), I picked up a box of food (they do offer a good spread with bagels, muffins, bananas, grapes, strawberries, cookies and more that I’ve forgotten). Its real food, not just food-in-a-bag type snacks. Carrying my box of food and bottle of water, I managed to pick up my Sweats Bag and headed over to a nearby restroom to change into my post race attire (and freshen up!). It was nice to end my race experience on the beach: stretch on my towel, hydrate, fuel, and enjoy the Monterey Bay ocean one last time. I knew that I probably wouldn’t be back to that area for quite some time since I was hoping to finish my thesis by the end of that semester.
Well, for REAL finish my thesis and my give my defense, even though I have moved back to So Cal. I’ll be making one or two trips up there to give my defense and turn my thesis into the library (hopefully during February). Maybe in 10 years when the situation no longer matters, I’ll explain what I’ve been going through (mentally) and the events around trying to finish. But in the meantime, I have had a couple job interviews and will be running AND volunteering in the upcoming Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend! FYI I’m not doing the half, I’m volunteering for that but I am participating in the other events 🙂
*Virtual Turkey Trot 10k
*Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend (5k, 10k, & Volunteer Half)
*Full Medal Runs Medals/Summary of Virtual Events
*Fuel Strips Review
How have you all been? I’ve followed some of you on FB/Instagram, not blog (sorry!), but feel free to write an essay if you feel so inclined 🙂