My Big Sur Race Experience

Big Sur International Marathon is one of the most prestigious marathons in the country. It’s mentioned in the same category as the BIG names; Boston, New York and Chicago.

Known for its gorgeous views and it’s multitude of hills. Taking place 2 weeks after Boston, it even has a special Boston 2 Big Sur option for those lucky runners who are registered for Boston in the same year.

To get into Big Sur, you must enter a lottery in which only 4-5,000 are accepted. There is also a strict 6hr time limit for the marathon, due to needing to reopen the road to the public.

I had heard of Big Sur in the past, but knowing I never wanted to run another marathon, I just wrote it off as one I’d never experience. Last year, I was following the race announcer (the amazing Fitz Koehler) and learned that there were other race distances available. In addition to the marathon, there is a 21 miler, 11 miler, 12k, 5k, and marathon relay.

After researching the different courses, I realized if I wanted to run over the Bixby bridge (one of the course highlights), I would need to run the 21 miler. It might sound crazy, but this sounded more manageable to me then the full marathon. It wasn’t that much shorter, but my training runs would not have to be in the 20s, which was a huge mental stressor for me when thinking about running a full.

Bixby Bridge

Leading up to the race, I packed my schedule full of training races, because if I was needing to run 13 miles or more, I needed a medal for it. Traveling to Kentucky for a race, was particularly helpful in training me for how I wanted to prepare for the hills.
While I was getting through my training runs, my body really started feeling burnt out. My muscles weren’t recovering the way they should and I went from a great race in KY, to an awful race in GA the next week. I was trying everything I could to keep my body together (foam rolling, grastin with the chiropractor, cupping, acupuncture, and massage), and just hoped I could hold on long enough to get through my BIG race!

Leading up to the race, I was really nervous I wouldn’t be able to finish because my body just wouldn’t hold out. I told myself that it would be ok to stop if I was in pain, and just do what is best for me, it’s only a race. Knowing this, I knew that I had 6.5 hours to finish, and to walk up as many of the hills as I needed to.

All of the races are on the same point to point race, they just start at different points on the course. The 21 miler starts at about mile 5.2 of the full marathon course.

Starting the race was the worst part for me. You have to get bused out to the start at 4:15am (for a 6:30 start) due to how far the start is from the parking, and the windy, dark road. I was on the first bus (never get on the first bus), and our driver missed the start line and was driving us to the full start. He tried to turn around twice, on a narrow, windy, dark road! Just a little scary! Finally, I got to the start line and they had coffee, bagels, water, and yoga (which was a little too hippie for me). They start you at the bottom of a steep driveway type road, in this big holding area, yet the timing mat is on top of the steep hill. Once I got to the timing mat, I was so out of breath, I had to wait a minute or two before I crossed to start the race!

For the 21 miler, our first 4 miles are slightly uphill, with the big Hurricane Point starting around mile 7. I took it easy for the most part, and just kept a steady pace. the road is very windy, so you can’t always see what is coming next. There is nothing between you and the ocean other than a cliff and rocks. Most areas do not have a guard rail. I tend to run on the left side, and let me tell you that more then once, I needed to move over from the edge because it was just a little too close for comfort!

One of the more generous road to cliff ratios

This was before we got to Hurricane Point

The mile markers were definitely a highlight of the race. Something to look forward to each mile, was what was the next one going to say. They were all distanced for the full marathon, which I did and didn’t like. I wish there were markers specific to my race, but having to do math kept me occupied for a few seconds if not a minute later on in the race.

About mile 6-6.5, you get to the top of a small hill and start to see Hurricane Point. From here is doesn’t look too bad. I was thinking “ok, that’s better then I thought, this should be fine.” The closer you get to the top, the more you can see that you go down hill pretty far before you start that climb for Hurricane Point! This realization just washes over you of “oh, it really is going to suck!” This was about the time that the lead full marathoners caught me.

The downhill before Hurricane Point

Hurricane Point is a 500’+ incline that lasts about 2 miles. It’s pretty steep and goes on forever! I was perfectly happy to walk this whole time, and just take in all of the amazing views! I had one person ask how I was doing at this point, and I just smiled and said “oh I’m fine! Just walking up this hill!” I felt so happy that I was here and doing it, and felt good! A lot better then I thought! A cool part of the uphill climb, is that they had these female drummers, that echoed through the valley! It was a great cadence to keep and keep spirits high.

Getting to the top of that hill was so amazing! I knew the hardest part was behind me, and I literally got to run downhill for a few miles! Being so high up gave you even more access to the views!

Looking back at what I had just accomplished


Coming down the hill, you see Bixby Bridge in the distance. This is the main reason I did this distance, was to be able to see Bixby Bridge. There is always a grand piano on the other side of the bridge, and the music just echos through the valley. I felt so free crossing this bridge, being so close to nature (again, no guard rails). Those who are close to me, know that I not a very emotional person. This moment however, was so incredibly emotional! Standing at the other side of the bridge, listening to the music, and looking back up at the massive Hurricane Point, was such an emotional feeling of peace and accomplishment! Words really can not explain how amazing that moment was.

A few miles later, I hit the halfway point. I was very confused at this point looking at my watch and trying to do the math. I was WAY ahead of pace. If I kept this up, I would finish in about 5 hours, which couldn’t be right, because I thought I was going to be lucky in 5:45. After a minute of being totally confused and trying to recalculate, I realized that I was doing a lot better then I had planned. Walking up the big hill, didn’t slow me down as much as I thought, because instead of doing my normal intervals, I ran pretty much the whole way down. It was here that I realized that I really was going to do this!

Another aha moment for me, was getting to mile 21 of the marathon course, mile 16 for me. This is the strict cut off spot, in which you will be picked up if you are not here by a certain time. I looked at the clock and again got emotional. I was doing so much better then I thought I would be and was so overwhelmed with excitement, pride, and being grateful. I felt strong, like another 5 miles would be nothing.

Weather wise, it stayed cloudy for the whole race, with it drizzling/raining on us twice. It was in the low 50s, so I kept my jacket on for the majority of the time to stay warm. Being right on the water, we had some strong wind gusts, and wind going against us for at least half of the race.

Something that the race tells you in the race guide, is that cell reception is extremely spotty on the race course. You are basically in the middle of no where, so it’s to be expected. I knew people were tracking me, but I wasn’t able to send or receive any messages to tell people how I was doing, which I normally do during races (on my walk breaks of course).

No cell reception also affected the motigo app that was partnering with the race. This app allows friends and family to leave you recorded messages that will play at whatever mile they select. I had put out a request that people leave me a message since I was so nervous about this race. I knew there would be a handful of people that would do this, just based on their personalities and always being there to motivate me. The app lets you know how many messages you have recorded for the race, but doesn’t tell you who they are until they’re playing.

I was able to get the app working about mile 16, with my first messages being at 17. The first message was from someone that I assumed would leave me a message (and I think he left me about 7 messages to keep me motivated throughout the race). It was no less special, and was exactly what I needed, but the second message is what really touched me. It was from someone I would’ve never guessed would’ve left me a message, and to know that even more people believed in me, and wanted to support my success, was such an amazing feeling. A tear or two might’ve been shed at this point. Since the miles weren’t lined up, I was able to listen to all messages when I was back in the room, and it was one of the best parts of the experience. If a race you do ever partners with Motigo, use it, you won’t regret it!

Back to the race! I kept waiting for my calf to seize up, or my hips, or anything really considering all the hills. Surprisingly, that never happened. Cell reception came back about mile 22, so my 17, and I was able to check in with people. I messaged a few key people to tell them I felt great and was going to finish early! Passed by my hotel at mile 23 (If you’re ever able to, stay at the Tickle Pink Inn, you won’t regret it!), and knew that I would be done soon! This was the only part of the race course that I had driven on, so I knew what to expect.

With 2 miles to go, I was still feeling great, but decided to walk the rest of the way. I had nothing to prove, and was just soaking in the experience, as well as hoping my friends doing the marathon would catch up to me.

With one last hill on the last mile, I knew that I was almost there. Fitz Koehler was the finish line announcer, and I got the BIGGEST welcome into the finish line (the race actually sends you a finish line video once you’re done, which is so awesome)! It was such an amazing feeling to be done! I felt great, better then I have felt after some of my halfs.

My body knew that this was the end of my journey and just totally relaxed. I can’t really explain it. Seeing my chiropractor after, she confirmed that my body was better after the race then before (makes no sense, I know).

The medal is super unique, and is hard carved by clay every year. I love that the 21 miler was purple this year, and our shirts were purple to match.

This race is so special, and I highly recommend it to anyone. If you are worried about the full time limit, the 21 miler is a total win. You get the majority of the course, with a bigger time cushion. The views are just so unbelievable, that it’s no wonder this race is one that people talk about as one of the best in the country.

If you are unable to do the race, but would love to see the amazing views, take a drive on HWY 1 from Carmel down to Big Sur. You really won’t regret it.

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Another Sarasota DNS

DNS in the running world is a did not show. This is the second time I’ve done this for the First Watch Sarasota half marathon. The first time was due to moving to Orlando, and this time was just because I wasn’t feeling it. 

I’m trying to cut down on my half marathons, and doing 3 race weekends in a row was not something I was looking forward to. I have never been to Sarasota and really want to go and explore, but this did not feel like the right time. 

I had an offer to stay with an amazing friend (thanks Krissy), but chose a weekend home with my family instead. 

I did a few responsible things like my taxes, cleaning the house, and working in the yard that was long overdue.

I did also did things I enjoy like taking Hudson to the dog park, running with him, dinner and a movie date night, and some alone time at Disney. 

Overall it was a productive and relaxing weekend that I used to just recharge. 

Am I sad I didn’t run? I do have major being envy right now. I andlso do want to run this race one year and explore Sarasota. 

Maybe next year will be the year!

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2016…What a Year! 

What a year! 2016 had many ups and downs for me, but overall I’m grateful for what this year has taught me. 

Professionally – I started a new job and started a new career path. Everyday is a new challenge and I am truly loving it! I love what I do, I love what I’m learning about myself, and I love the people I work with. 

Personally – I also saw a lot of growth. As I’ve gotten older, I am focusing more on myself, and who and what makes me happy. I was able to travel more, get closer to amazing friends, and even knocking a few bucket list things off my list (some I didn’t know were on there)!

I have always wanted to pet a baby tiger. Swimming with one was amazing!!

Meeting a Beluga Whale


Fitness – Running was not my friend, and really hasn’t been since I started training for my first marathon a year and a half ago. I was still able to run half marathons in 3 states and finish my first triathlon! 

Tinkerbell Half Marathon in Disneyland

My first Tri!


This was also my first full year with Hudson, and I can honestly say he is such an amazing part of my life. He is my running and cuddle buddy, and I look forward to days we get to hang out together. I always thought people were a little crazy when they said they were dog moms, but I truly understand that now! I love going to the dog park and watching him play. The little things he does cracks me up getting to see his little personality. I can’t wait to have more adventures with him in 2017! 

Such a happy dog


I wish everyone the best of luck and happiness in 2017!!

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To Run or Not to Run

To run or not to run…that always seems to be the question. 

The past few months, my body has not been my friend. From constant fatigue, to unbearable hip pain, plantar faciaitis, my body is just rebelling. I’ve tried to take it easy, which doesn’t seem to help. I’ve tried to run through it which is sometimes ok, sometimes not. I’ve gone to the chiropractor, gotten massages, iced, stretched, you name it. 


Unfortunately, its race season in Florida, meaning all the races I signed up for while I was healthy, are happening now. 

Perfect example was this weekend. It was a race I signed up for back in May/June and was really looking forward to…Clay Roads 15k. 

The Clay Roads is this really cool local running trail that is rolling hills made of clay. We don’t have many hills in Florida, but these are pretty serious hills. A lot of my running groups have occasional excursions to this trail for hill work. I have always wanted to see/experience it, so I thought the race would be cool. 

As race day approached, I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle the 9 miles of hills, especially with a half marathon scheduled for next weekend. I thought maybe I’ll switch down to the 5k instead. 

The night before the race I was feeling lazy and somewhat scared of the pain that I would feel after finishing the race. Then I thought “well am I just being lazy? Or am I actually in pain?” 

Decided to skip the race and first thing in the morning felt a little disappointed. Was that really the right call? As the day progressed, my hips hurt more and more. At about lunch time, I was in so much pain, I started calling all of my massage therapists to see who could fit me in. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened had I tried to do the race. 

So that leaves the rest of the season…

I know I will be finishing the Space Coast Half Marathon this weekend, as it is flat, with a 7 HR time limit, and injured friends that will be walking with me. Future races though are up in the air. 

Hopefully, things will be on the upswing soon! 

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The Great Chocolate Race Orlando Review 

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but running the Great Chocolate Race yesterday, all I could think about was doing a review! 

I didn’t get into Disney’s Wine and Dine and knew I needed 10 training miles this weekend, so why not run a 10 mile race? AND it’s themed to chocolate? Can’t get much more perfect then that. 

Well I was wrong…

The race seemed to spend a lot of money on advertising as everytime I was on Facebook I saw an ad for it, I just wish they had spent that money on other things…like runner safety 😔

Here are my thoughts:

1. Proof read your race emails – obviously copying and pasting from an earlier email without removing redundant info makes you look like you don’t care. 

2. Make sure the info in your emails matches what’s on the website. If the website says the 5k starts at 7:15 but the email says 7:05, which one is it? 

3. If you’re going to have the first 3 miles be the same for both races, make sure the fast runners start together, or spread out the start times enough that makes it safe for everyone. The 5k started about 4 minutes after I did, on the narrowest part of the course, meaning the fast runners for the 5k ran into oncoming traffic so they could run around the big crowd of 10 milers. 

4. Deliver what you say you will. If your email says you will have 6 water stations, but only set up 4, that’s an issue. Runners plan out these things as part of their race strategy. Luckily it wasn’t too hot and I brought a bottle of water. Not sure if volunteers just didn’t show up to man the other 2, but I much would’ve rather had those setup then the extra volunteers on the course cheering. 



5. To continue on that – we were told there would be hot chocolate afterward. It was very nice for them to email us last night to apologize for their vendor not coming through, but in 70+ degree weather I would’ve appreciated an apology for not enough water stations as opposed to no hot chocolate. 

6. It was great that there were cones everywhere to guide the cars, but with no signs, I saw at least 3 cars go into either the runner lane, or into oncoming traffic. Not safe! 

7. Before the start please have lights so runners aren’t walking around in pitch black! I stood next to the curb for about 5 minutes and saw 4 people trip. Luckily they just stumbled and weren’t hurt. 

8. If you’re going to have that much brick, please prepare people! I thought the OUC course was bad, geez! A photographer tried to point out to me that the course was on the bricks not the sidewalk…too bad! 

9. Some areas we ran through were kinda sketchy, but some were nice. 



10. Cops were everywhere! This was a huge plus!! 

11. The bling was huge! Getting a mug was an extra unexpected bonus. Was a little disappointed that the 5k medal was the same as the 10 miler. 


12. Priced way too high! I think with the early discount it was still $55-$60. Not worth it. 

13. A sign or people directing traffic to leave would’ve been nice. After I did a full loop in the grass lot, I followed some other people onto the road about 10ft from where the runners were finishing. Again, runner safety should be re-evaluated for next year. 

14. Supposedly free pictures are coming. That will be nice. 

Overall, this was one of the worst races I’ve ever done. If I ever do it again, it would be the 5k for fun with friends. They would really need to address runner safety and changes they make for future races for me to ever consider this one again. 

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Celebration Half Marathon

A few weekends ago I ran my third Celebration Half Marathon. Although my times keep increasing for this race, the fun never decreases.

This year I really tried to reflect on the race since its inception. While it’s only been over the course of 2 years, my life has changed so much and can be seen a lot through this race.


The first year – 2014 was its inception year. I was still living in Jupiter, dreaming of moving to Celebration and actually paid attention to each neighborhood to try and get my barings and see where I might see myself. I also was introduced to some PBRC friends that I have to this day. Meeting them encouraged me to be more outspoken with the groups and go to meet ups during princess where I met some more friends 😊. This was my 5th half marathon and my qualifier to be a Half Fanatic. Because this is also a marathon, I spent at least 2 hours after I finished watching the marathoners finish. I was so inspired that I decided next year I would do a full marathon at Disney.


Year two – I had been living in Celebration for 10 months and had just signed a lease for a new place to move into 2 months later. I got to run through both neighbors and loved that it was literally my hometown race.
 Even more friends participated which was so fun to see everyone on the course and after at the after party. This race felt amazing as it was 2 weeks after goofy and I was well trained and focused on helping a friend finish her 2nd half marathon.


 This year was a different story! I have not recovered well from the marathon (wasn’t well trained in the first place) and this race hurt! My hips, feet, knees, just everything was sore. I also no longer live in Celebration so it was a little sad running through it wishing I had taken better advantage of the beauty while I did live there.


The course is beautiful, after party great, and always fun to see so many people that I know. I’m going to continue to do this race of course and hope that next year I’m a lot better trained!


Let me also add…they have the BEST signs!!

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2016 Goals

This year is going to be even better than last year. I want to focus on more time for me and doing what makes me happy.


Fitness:

I need to lose the weight I’ve gained since moving to Orlando. It’s not going to be fun but I need to get it off.


I want to start liking running again. It’s felt like such an obligation because of all of the races that it’s lost some of the joy. Making time to run with friends and not feel guilty about taking a week off will help a lot.

One I like running again I’d like to do some speed work to get back on track for some time goals.

Life:

I want to declutter my life. This includes people and things I don’t need. I don’t want extra stuff around getting in my way. – I started decluttering the house and it has felt great!


With decluttering I would also like to be more fiscally responsible. Eat out less, save more, not buy random or excessive stuff.

I want to travel more. Little one day or weekend trips. Hopefully some places I can take Hudson to like the beach.


This year I want to focus on me and doing things that make me happy.

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