Hiya pals! Sorry for the delay in getting to this post. I traveled to Chicago for part of last week for work (and then stayed for the weekend to hang out with friends), and didn’t bring my personal laptop. I have carried two laptops through security before and it is NOT fun. And it’s super heavy. I decided not to do that to myself just for the off chance that I would have time to get to this lovely little race recap.
(Tangent: When you think about it, having to bring a work computer with you everywhere you go comparatively disadvantages women a lot more than men. When you account for your computer bag and your purse, your carry-on allotment is already used up! You either have to stuff your purse into your suitcase, thereby sacrificing quite a bit of valuable luggage space, or you have to check a bag. Either way it’s not ideal, it’s costly and it’s something men don’t have to worry about. #FEMINISM).
So anyway, back to the half marathon. It was terrible. I’ve already talked about how great of a time I had on the trip, overall. And I’ve mentioned how much I loooovveee Northern California. So when I say the half marathon was terrible, I’m literally only talking about the actual running of the half marathon.
I also understand that saying that running a half marathon was not fun is not a radical or surprising statement. It’s especially not surprising to hear that *I* didn’t enjoy running a half marathon because I’ve been very vocal about how much I hate running. So even by these already low standards, it sucked.
Let me start at the beginning. On Saturday, we went to the race expo to pick up our bibs and shirts. The expo was tiny. I have run three half marathons prior to the Big Sur half marathon, but they were all bigger ones. The Flying Pig had over 35,000 participants! The Big Sur half only had 9,000, so by comparison, it was really small. The expo was nice; unfortunately, though, I have gotten used to seeing really huge expos that have tons and tons of really nice merchandise and I usually learn about a new product or see a lot of cute workout clothes I want to buy. Nothing at this expo really caught my eye, so we were in and out in about 10 minutes.
We spent the rest of Saturday having a great time in Big Sur and carbo loading for Sunday’s race (you can read a recap of Saturday here). Before going to bed Saturday night, we set our alarms for 5:30 am (never a pleasant time to wake up on a Sunday morning…), chugged lots of water and applied some flash tats to get in the racing mood!
Sunday morning, we woke up, chugged some more water, applied some more flash tats (seriously, we got a little bit carried away with these), donned our matching outfits, and headed to the starting line.
That was when the fun ended.
For some reason, Big Sur was just not my race. Obviously, the first half marathon I did was pretty painful. That stemmed from being incredibly out of shape overall and not really training appropriately (or really at all) for it. Ever since that one, though, each race has gotten better and significantly less painful. Until Big Sur.
From mile one, I was just uncomfortable. Mistake number one was putting on my usual daily moisturizer right before walking out the door. In my mind, it was important to put some SPF on before spending 2.5 hours out in the sun (I’ve gotten sunburned on long runs enough times to know this is important). Unfortunately, what I didn’t consider was that my daily moisturizer is not waterproof or sweatproof. The non-waterproofness ended up creating some issues. During the first few miles, as I began to sweat, my face started to feel greasy and my skin was feeling suffocated. It basically felt like there was warm goop all over me that I couldn’t get off. That was distracting and unpleasant but not the end of the world. At the same time, though, I was feeling winded and crampy. Not a great way to start a 13 mile run.
I tried to distract myself by focusing on my surroundings, but I couldn’t help but notice that I was already struggling. In the second and third half marathons that I did, the first few miles completely fly by. There is so much to look at and think about – the people around you, the spectators, the scenery, etc. As I was struggling along the course, I noticed an increasing sense of dread as I realized that I hadn’t even gone one mile and I already felt uncomfortable. I couldn’t get my head into the race.
The beginning of this course is also by far the least pretty so that didn’t help matters. We began in Monterey and wove through the town a bit. We ran through a couple streets with shops, cafes and restaurants. We ran through some residential areas. Then we got to Cannery Row.
I told myself, “Hey, you love Steinbeck! Think about how awesome this is and how lucky you are. Think about that so you stop thinking about your stupid skin!” Unfortunately, this little mind game didn’t really work. I mean, I thought about those things for like 30 seconds and it was great and I did feel lucky. But then I went back to feeling a stitch in my side and pain in my hip.
After Cannery Row, the course got far more beautiful. The route took us out 7 miles down the Monterey Peninsula and then back 6. Some people don’t like out and back courses. I; however, tend to think they’re great. Compared to a lot of people who run these races, I’m pretty slow. So the out and back course is kind of fun for me because I get to watch a bunch of fast people race by me. Some people probably find this depressing, but I like it because it gives me something to watch and think about and makes the time go by a bit faster. Since I knew Jamie was ahead of me, I spent a long time searching for her in the sea of faces on the other side of the street. I also spent a lot of time just trying to take in the scenery. I honestly can’t imagine a more gorgeous place to run a half marathon than the Monterey Peninsula. I mean, I literally saw a seal sunning itself on a rock! I was looking for whales but didn’t see any.
I won’t get into the entire play-by-play (or should I say mile-by-mile) breakdown of the race. Suffice it to say that despite how absolutely gorgeous the setting was, I just wasn’t feeling it. I’ll also mention the fact that this is now the second half-marathon I’ve run where my extremely subpar math skills have created some issues. In this race and in the Nike Women’s Half I did in April, I have gotten to mile 7 and been so relieved because (in my mind), I only have five miles left. Five miles is a significant milestone for me because I know that takes me about an hour to run that far. I start telling myself, “Only an hour left. That’s not bad. You can do anything for an hour. If people survive in Guantanamo Bay for years, you can jog along the coast for an hour.” (If you can’t tell, my inner dialogue is a somewhat major part of running for me. Trust me when I say that you do not want to be alone in my head for 2.5 hours of running). *Note: I realized after posting this that most people would consider the voices in their head to be an “inner monologue.” I’m leaving it as is, though, because I think it’s more descriptive of how I actually feel at any given time. #CRAZY.
Anyway, by now my more astute readers will have picked up on the fact that 7+5 ≠ 13.1. Inevitably, I come to mile 8 and think “YES! Only five miles left…WAIT…A…MINUTE!” And then I’m crushed. I realize that I am not running at a miraculous pace and that I still have another whole hour left and that I’m stupid. It’s honestly a soul-shattering experience.
By mile 12, I was on the brink of tears. I wanted to stop so badly. But how lame would it be to quit on mile 12 of a 13 mile run? Also, our hotel happened to be on the other side of the finish line so I knew I would have to get across it one way or another. Anything I could do to expedite that process was a plus. So onward I went. I started to notice a pain in my right foot. I tried to put it out of my mind. It was NOT the only part of my body that hurt at that point, so I kept trudging along, wincing with every step.
Finally, I saw the finish line! Only .1 miles away. That .1 mile was the longest .1 mile I have ever seen in my life. I was honestly not even happy when I crossed the finish line. I was in pain and all I could think about was getting back to the hotel.
Unfortunately, the post finish line area was highly disorganized. I got my medal, which I was kind of disappointed by, and continued on to find Jamie. They had a line where you could pick up some free food and drinks. Unfortunately, the selection was not all that great. I grabbed a quarter of a bagel, some Baked Lays (um what is the point of running 13 miles if you can’t even eat real fried potato chips afterward…), three loose strawberries and a banana. The line took quite a while to get through and as I stood there, I just kept feeling worse. I realized how badly my feet were hurting and I was just all around miserable.
I finally found Jamie and we snapped a few photos (not my most flattering, obviously…) and we began hobbling back to the hotel.
I realize I sound like a complete Debbie Downer right now, which is annoying. I oddly finished this race with my best time ever and once I realized that, I was pretty proud (and surprised). It was an absolutely amazing course and I loved being able to run along the ocean in such a gorgeous setting for a few hours. My issues with this race were mostly my own and I don’t really understand why this race was so hard for me. I guess some days you’re just off.
Regardless of my personal struggle, I would absolutely recommend the Big Sur Half Marathon to anyone looking for a half marathon to do. The course is flat and, as I already said a million times, amazingly beautiful. It’s a smaller event, so that’s something to consider. I think a lot of people prefer to run in smaller events. I actually kind of liked the size, but there were aspects of it that were just different than what I’ve come to expect.
Phew, sorry this post is so long! Probably very few people actually care to know this much detail about my Big Sur Half experience. The long and short of it is that I flew across the country for it, ran it, hated it, hobbled around for the next two weeks and haven’t run since. Literally.
But I did get to take a great trip to one of my favorite places in the world, and because of that, I’m very, very grateful.