BIG SUR MARATHON

 

Big Sur Marathon | April 26th 2015
7th Marathon | 4th Big Sur Marathon
Weather: 50s-60s, Strong Headwind
Time: 3:25:59 | Average Pace: 7:51
First Half: 1:46:09 | Second Half: 1:39:50
Previous Course PR: 3:30:31

 

 “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” 

From The Mountains of California by John Muir
 

Big Sur is such a treat. I am in love with this place, and this race holds a special place in my heart with it being my first marathon back in 2012. I’ve done it every year since as well as tackling the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge each year starting in 2013.

Coming off of Boston I was still pretty elated. With Big Sur's course profile and it being 6 days after Boston, I wasn’t expecting another PR or anything but I’m competitive and still wanted to see what I could do on the course. I had another strong race, with a negative split, and a personal best on the course. Here’s to a solid week of racing. It’s an incredible opportunity to take on this epic stretch of Highway 1 to celebrate the sport and incredible coastline that is Big Sur.

Big Sur blows me away every time, this year a bit more literally because it was incredibly windy. Other years have had wind, mainly on Hurricane Point, but this year it was more than ever, and started as soon as we hit the open stretch out of the woods in the beginning. Thankfully it seemed to dissipate a bit in the second half. Wind is crazy, and kind of the coolest thing out there. Where does it come from, and how does it even work, and it’s so powerful! The elements are definitely awesome. On the other hand, running against a gnarly headwind is not my favorite thing in the world. In a way you get used to it though, and as John Muir said, "the winds will blow their own freshness into you." When you’re running in Big Sur it’s hard to not have the most stellar time. Seriously though, you may be battling every element Mother Nature wants to throw at you that day, but you just look around and none of that matters because you are in this incredible place and become part of each element while covering those 26.2 miles. I guess that goes for every race and run really, it’s a connection to the earth and elements unlike any other.

When I’m running in Big Sur I am fueled by the sights. I remember from my first marathon, there was a moment as we exited the forest and the sun was just rising, painting the hills, fields, and ocean in the most incredible golden hue. I could hardly contain myself. I felt like shouting out my excitement and sharing it with the world, while at the same time sitting peacefully by myself in that field, letting the ocean air dance across my face. I felt like giving the earth a huge hug and high-five. I felt like running. Luckily I had three or so more hours to do so and share that with the land. Each time I return to the Big Sur Marathon those feelings permeate the run and propel me forward.

From the dense trees to the ragged cliffs and blue ocean, to the happy California cows cheering us on, to the grand piano on the Bixby Bridge, this race is so special and I am still in awe and grateful that I am able to experience one of my favorite places through one of my favorite means of travel. 


Images are from the photo series of my first marathon in Big Sur, see the full collection here.

 

BOSTON MARATHON

Boston Marathon | April 20th, 2015
6th Marathon | 3rd Boston Marathon
Weather: Mid 40s, Rainy, 20mph wind
Time: 3:18:37 | Average Pace: 7:35
First Half: 1:41:22 | Second Half: 1:37:15
Previous PR 3:23:17

 

“Somewhere in its running, whether by the speed of its running, or by splashing its way into a river, or by way of a ray of sunlight or moonlight hitting it right in the side, the wolf is suddenly transformed into a laughing woman who runs free toward the horizon.”

From Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
 

Boston for me this year was about patience, confidence, and gratitude. It was about embracing 119 years of history that we were running upon and dancing with the earth and the elements.

Sticking to the race plan, I kept the beginning miles relaxed. I had to remind myself to be patient with the race and not get caught up in the initial downhill and excitement.  I trusted the plan and my training. Now was time to enjoy the ride. It was raining and I couldn’t stop smiling, I was the laughing woman, running free toward the horizon. I high-fived the kids and laughed as some spectators joked saying, “Almost there! Only 25 miles to go!”

Gloves are awesome. My hands were actually warm. For someone with notoriously cold hands, and with the weather being below fifty and rainy, this was a big deal. The gloves were a cheap pair, a few sizes too big, and a last minute buy that I am so grateful for. They stuck with me until mile 16 when they finally reversed their benefits, becoming cold, wet, and heavy. After I tossed them I must have been clenching my hands pretty tight because my forearms were the most notably sore spot on Monday evening.

The last few times I ran Boston, I didn’t really mentally prepare for the hills of Newton. I’d run Big Sur before so I figured they were nothing compared to the climb to Hurricane Point, right? WRONG. They come later in the race, and at that point just seemed endless. This year I was ready for it. After getting through the hills hardly even noticing them and still feeling strong, I knew I was ready to bust out an incredibly solid last 10k. With six miles to go I started to pick up the pace. The second half of this race was a negative split, and, according to Strava, the last seven miles were all negative splits.

I turned onto Boylston, mentally waving to myself on the banners (still can’t get over that) and finished with a five minute PR of 3:18:37. I was ecstatic and couldn’t stop smiling. I was also incredibly thankful that the volunteers helped open the water bottles and bananas after the finish since my hands couldn't.

When racing Boston I'm always blown away by the spectators. It’s an incredible energy that’s hard to put into words. I always tell my parents that I wish they could just be on the course to experience it because my futile explanations don’t do it justice. What an awesome celebration it is. For 26.2 miles, we get to run with 30,000 others, getting after a goal we’ve put in so many miles for, cheered on by spectators lining the entire course, on a course run by thousands before us for the last 119 years. How incredible is that? With each step we become part of that history, and I want to embrace those steps. 

So here's to splashing our way into the rivers (or puddles), because all we really can do is embrace what comes our way, and laugh as we run free into the horizon.