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Posts tagged ‘Big Sur 21-miler’

A tough training 21: Part II

My alarm clock at the motel hit close to 3 a.m. and i knew it was time to wake up.

I knew if I fell back asleep I’d wake up tired. I knew if I tried to even hit snooze at 3 a.m. I would make it to the bus. So I rolled out of bed and headed to shower. I’m one of those strange runners who actually showers in the morning before my runs. Just a quick one. And I usually don’t do my hair or anything.

I went to the bathroom. I hit the shower. And I got dressed.

I’m going to be real for a minute: I hate not knowing when I can next go to the bathroom. It’s likely a side effect of taking medication for high blood sugar for three years, but I don’t like not knowing where the closest bathroom is. That makes this next part important.

I ALWAYS get really nervous before my runs. To the point that I have to go. ALL THE TIME. And I was worried, severely worried, about the 45-minute bus ride up the coast. I didn’t know what kind of bus I’d be on. I didn’t know if we’d be stopping anywhere (we weren’t). I was extremely worried.

I know this might be TMI, but this is a real issue for runners.

By the time Thomas dropped me off at the Monterey Marriott at about 4:20 a.m., the buses were lined up.

The volunteers were all really, really helpful. The marathoners were still boarding there buses, so we waited until the 21-milers were allowed to load. I headed into the Monterey Marriott and there was a bathroom right in the lobby. (WOOOOOO!)

Then I realized that we’d be boarding the tour buses, which also have bathrooms on board.

I was THRILLED. It’s hard to explain how thrilled I was. My husband swears up and down I have issues with going to the bathroom too much. He’s also become quite accustomed to it. Others don’t understand though.

I briefly chatted with the woman next to me. Really just to ask her if I could turn off the light. And we were off.

Into the night.

It looked all black.

Seriously. Everything.

We drove quietly up Highway 1. I wanted to sleep, but I couldn’t. All I could see were taillights of the buses in front of us. I vaguely could make out the waves off the coast. It was eerie.

I read somewhere that the bus ride is disorienting. It is. Very much so. And you think the entire way as you are driving: “I have to run all this to get back to where I started.” It’s kind of daunting.

We made it to the staging area and there weren’t a ton of people there.

And it was still dark.

I opened my bag and pulled out an apple and part of a Luna bar. That was my breakfast. I jumped in a portable toilet right when I got there too. (Never did have to use the one of the bus, which made me really glad.)

And I got some stretching done too.

So I’m actually on a rock. Apparently it was a really popular rock. People kept walking all over me. I wasn’t even in the way.

There were bananas, apples and other fruits. And coffee and water. I don’t drink coffee, but I took down a couple cups of water. I felt a little dehydrated.

As it began to get lighter, a yoga session started. I didn’t partake, instead doing my own stretches. A lot of people did.

At about 6:40 a.m. we were lined up near the bottom of the driveway at Andrew Molera State Park. The road in front of us was 21 miles to Carmel.

The timing mat was actually at the top of the hill. I power walked up it instead of running.

Then things started moving. We took off right at 6:45 a.m.

And just as quickly as I started, I realized this wasn’t going to be easy. I wasn’t doing it for time as much as experience. And it wasn’t an easy path.

All uphill at the beginning, a nice downhill, a huge uphill and rolling hills (and banked streets) the rest of the way. Wow. A nice, easy Sunday run? I think not.

And then there were the headwinds. Yes, headwinds. On Hurricane Point (the tallest peak on the elevation chart) I was battered back and forth across the road. It sucked. My glasses were covered in dew. My long-sleeve shirt was wet at one point. I didn’t even bother taking if off until about three miles before the finish.

I battled. In certain places it looked, in my Garmin data, like I was moving very, very slowly. But I kept going.

Because I was treating it like a training run, I stopped and went to the bathroom whenever I need to. That added more than 10 minutes on to my time.

But it was cold. Damp. Windy. And my head was raging the first eight miles.

Raging. I couldn’t shake the headache.

I just kept moving, hoping it would go away. And it did after about my second Vanilla Bean Gu.

By the way, my savior of the day was the Gu. I wouldn’t have made it without the Gu.

My overall average was 13:14 miles.

The steepest hills were the longest miles. I’m not proud that I took that long. But it happened. I’ll own it.

Thomas was expecting me about the 4:30 time mark.

I came in at 4:42 and he was yelling for me nonetheless. My feet had blisters. My ankles, after running through the banked road in the Carmel Highlands, were now cankles. I’m not even kidding, my ankles were so inflamed I can still not bend them properly.

And my IT band, which seemed to hold out pretty good during the run, started throbbing the moment I stopped. It was kind of like it just knew. It knew I was over. It was pissed. Two days later I’m still dealing with the aftermath of that.

Big Sur isn’t an easy run. And it’s definitely not a true “training run.” But it was beautiful. I didn’t take a lot of photos, obviously, because I was too enraptured in enjoying the beauty in general.

The finish line was crazy busy. I sat down for a good twenty minutes and then realized if I didn’t start walking around, I likely wouldn’t be able to. So I got up and lost Thomas. I realized suddenly that  I had checked a bag with a sweater. I went and grabbed that too. And then Thomas and I decided it was time to leave. I come for the run. I don’t often stay after.

So we started walking off, but not before he shot a last photo of me near the finish.

And I was happy with how it all came together. Sure, I didn’t have the best time. But I got through a very tough training run. I knew that the only way out was through. That’s what I focused on. The good thing about living close to Monterey, only within three hours, is that we hopped back in the car and made our way home after the race.

By 3:30 p.m., I was home on the couch resting my legs with ice.

When it comes down to it, there were likely better ways to get my longest run of the training cycle in. I know that. But I think Big Sur offered a nice challenge. I faced nearly every weather condition on the run and still came out OK. And stronger for it.

Next up? An 18-miler closer to home on May 12. Then Bay to Breakers before the end of this marathon training cycle.

I’m not 100 percent confident in my marathon conditioning so far, but I’m feeling a little more prepared after the Big Sur 21-miler.

A tough training 21: Part I

Let it be known that I’m crazy sometimes. I often expect a surprising positive results when I know the situation will not dictate it. This is usually the case at work. They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Therefore, sometimes, I’m insane.

Signing up for a 21-mile run along the California coast where two miles of it, near the beginning nonetheless, are straight uphill when my training consists of running small rolling hills is definitely a sign that something is very wrong with me.

“It could be fun,” I thought when signing up for the run last December. It was my “I just ran a marathon” gift to myself. Yeah, I used to buy shoes, now I sign up for other runs. I’m crafty like that.

So as the weeks rolled down and I was unable to get in my 15-mile training run preceding the event this weekend, I only started to worry slightly. It was a training run, after all. I was using it as a training run.

Except my husband came along. And we stayed overnight. Thank God too, since my wake-up was at 3 a.m. And we ate a nice dinner. It was very much like my marathon more than six months ago (wow, it’s been that long!).

So we packed up some overnight goods and headed to the Monterey Peninsula for the Big Sur 21-miler.

It was, for the most part, a nice drive. We headed through the Bay Area, on Highway 101. It was about a two hour plus drive. No stops. That’s surprising for me, since I usually have to go to the bathroom on long drives.

We headed up Highway 17 near Santa Cruz, then to Highway 1. The same Highway 1 that leads from Carmel to Big Sur, but we didn’t get that far. We stopped in Monterey where the sun was shining and it was warm.

Oh hey ocean! I’ve missed the open water so much since I left Oakland in 2007. I used to be able to see the San Francisco Bay everyday from the campus at University of California, Berkeley where I earned my masters degree in journalism.

We hit up the expo first thing once getting into town.

My husband is not like me at all when it comes to making things simple. He had to find a place to park that was free. When I was with my mom for the Big Sur Half Marathon last fall, I parked in the first garage I found. Bam. It was $6. Simple and easy. No worry about getting a ticket.

Thomas dropped me off. He went and found a free spot blocks and blocks away.

I’ve blogged about my tired little legs as of late. I didn’t want to walk those blocks. Especially if I knew I’d be running 21 miles the next day. But that’s how he is. (Also note that he is likely one of the most patient men in the world, I do appreciate that too.)

The expo was much more packed than the half was last November.

This was my one clear photo from the shirt pickup.

I went upstairs and found the single line for the 21-miler. It appears only 675 people finished it, so I understand the need for only one line. I just happened to be behind three air-head type women. I’m sorry, I usually don’t call out other people, but these chicks not only didn’t bring their bib numbers to the counter. Then they let another woman get in line with them. Then they asked why they couldn’t pick up their bus tickets right there (it was a three foot walk, seriously). Then they had to stop and take a photo right in front of me. COME ON. Get your stuff and be done.

So I got my bib after all that.

And, more importantly, my bus ticket.

I’ve never felt so much like Charlie from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

I was lucky enough to score a late boarding ticket. “Brown ticket” for “Monterey Marriott Loading.” That meant I was on one of nearly the last buses heading up the coast. Score. I could sleep in.

Little did I know I wouldn’t get to. (THANKS INSOMNIA!)

I went downstairs for my awesome Big Sur 21-miler shirt. It’s light blue, with purple writing. I love it as much as I love my Half Marathon shirt from last November.

Confession: I used to think the Big Sur shirts were so cheesy. I don’t anymore. Big Sur International Marathon has a classic sense to its designs. Nothing frilly. Nothing too fancy. Basic, yet beautiful. Always with some part of the Bixby Bridge on the marathon-style gear.

Thomas caught up to me down at the expo. I was checking out booths. I was hoping to score some new compression sleeves. No go. I didn’t even find anything else other than my race shirt saying “21-miler.” This was like the Nike Women’s Half where everything says Nike Women’s Marathon. Yeah, it’s the event name. I get it.

We did a little expo wine tasting. I even bought a bottle of $20 chardonnay with the marathon logo on it. It was a commemoration bottle. Nice.

But I found chocolate.

A very fancy, expensive chocolate store.

And I partook. Yes, yes I did.

They were expensive. I needed a disclaimer. I still have some left. I’m good at restraint. Not really, though. I ate too much today. Way too much. I promise to be better tomorrow and go back to the diet.

Then we headed to the motel. It was nice. Not too fancy. Not the Hyatt my mom and I stayed at either. Thomas, again, doesn’t like spending a lot on things. He booked one of the cheapest, albeit nicest hotels he could find. It was OK. I always bring a comfort blanket, a tip I got before the marathon, to help me sleep.

On suggestion from one of the Big Sur volunteers, we took some free appetizer coupons and headed to Fisherman’s Wharf where a bunch of marathoners, 21-milers and other event savvy types were headed.

We selected Isabella’s. Our free appetizer was fried artichokes. So good. We opted to eat outside. It wasn’t cold at all. And they were going to seat us in a corner in the actual restaurant. I didn’t really want to sit in a corner when the advertisement said: “All seats are ocean view.” Yeah, not so much.

We were greeted by a seagull who wanted to get all up in our business. He was kind of funny, so he didn’t bother us too much. Thomas even wanted to pose with the seagull. I called him “Buff.” He seemed like a combination between our dog Beau and our duck Duff, so Buff seemed appropriate.

I ordered a margarita. Between tired legs and nerves, I thought it was necessary. And I didn’t drink so much it would be detrimental to the run.

And I ordered beef. A steak. I usually order chicken. Or something lean.

But something caught my eye on the menu.

Rib Eye with a baked potato. And butternut squash risotto. Yes please.

It was delicious.

Then we walked the beach for a little bit and headed back to the hotel.

It was such a beautiful day. The wharf was close to our motel. The dinner was good. Overall, a nice night. We went back to the motel and ate the chocolate and I drank a lot of water. No Diet Coke even. Too bad that didn’t help me fall asleep.

Then I did what I typically do the night before a run.

I put everything out to make getting ready in the morning, at this point 3 a.m., easy for the next morning.

I put my head down at 9 p.m. I thought I’d fall asleep fast based on the fact that I was tired from the drive and seemed to be drowsy. I took a couple Ibuprofens because of a slight headache and laid down. Thomas watched television for a while then went and hung out in the bathroom to let me sleep. He watched Netflix in the bathroom. See, a patient man.

At 10 p.m. I looked at the clock. I still wasn’t sleeping. I tossed and turned. I took another Ibuprofen. I couldn’t sleep. Thomas crawled in bed sometime after 11 p.m. and I kept falling asleep a little, then waking up.

I must have collectively slept for two hours when I looked at my phone and noticed it said 2:52 a.m.

I’m up, I thought. Let’s do this.

And with two hours of sleep and the headache that didn’t seem to be disappearing, I started getting ready for my longest and most difficult training run ever.


21 on the California coast

After a night without sleep thanks to my insomnia kicking back up, a 3 a.m. wake up alarm, an hour-plus bus ride down the California coast in the dark, a Golden delicious apple and two bathroom stops, I was off this morning at 6:45 a.m.

The Big Sur 21-miler was the most challenging run I’ve ever done (hills, inclement and ever changing weather and  a constantly banked surface), but it was beautiful and memorable. And my legs didn’t give out. Not once. It was only after I walked across the finish line that I started to experience some illiotibial band issues in my left leg.

Total time: 4:42:23

And I kept moving, even when the bottoms of my feet were on fire and blisters were for certain.

My longest training run on my San Diego marathon path is now done.

Full race report coming when I can get my bearings back and my leg doesn’t need constant ice.

Big Sur 21-miler prep

We made it!

I have my bib and my bus ticket! I know what time at ‘o dark thirty I’m waking up! I’m ready, I think, to go!

I’m still more than a little scared, though.

This isn’t an easy marathon. It’s not flat. Crossing my fingers for a good run tomorrow!

The will without the energy

Ever felt this way? All you want to do is go home and run five miles. Then you come home and look at the time and say: “There’s just no way.”

That’s kind of my life over the past four or five weeks. Between my full time job and my part time job, I work about 10 hours a day, sometimes 12. On days when news breaks or big things happen, it sometimes stretches into the evening.

I’m fatigued. And my legs are giving me problems now.

For the past three days, my legs have been so heavy I haven’t wanted to do anything. Yesterday, I wanted to run five miles. Instead I pulled out my Reebok step and did 30 minutes of step aerobics. Just so I could move. Just so I could feel like I did something. (Now, on second thought, this would have been a good chance for me to mount the bike I’ve been sorely neglecting.)

I forgot how much step can make me sweat.

That’s an “after” shot. You can’t really see all the sweat, but it’s there.

I took two Ibuprofens last night. Then I spent about 45 minutes to an hour massaging my legs. I slept in compression socks. I woke up feeling better, but by the end of my lab with my students, I knew my legs weren’t 100 percent. And they wouldn’t be. Unless I took action.

I called Massage Envy, where I have a membership, and scheduled a hot/cold massage for my body, with particular attention to my legs. It will cost me $60 because it’s outside of my membership time. But my legs need it.

Especially because the 21 miler in Big Sur this weekend is now seeming very, very scary. I’m really worried about how this is all going to go. I’m worried about my training. I’m worried about nutrition. I’m worried about whether or not I can make it.

I have the will. I don’t have the energy. I’m not sure I can make it through.

Hopefully the rub out will do the trick. It kind of has to. I can’t show up to the start line with legs that just say no. It’s not a 10K. It’s 21 miles.