Sunday, May 1, 2016

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap

Even before I ever ran a marathon, I wanted to run the Big Sur Marathon. My husband and I honeymooned in this area of California almost 28 years ago, and the idea of running in such a breathtakingly beautiful place really appealed to me. 

So last summer, when the lottery entrance date was approaching, I broached the subject. My husband surprisingly told me to go ahead and put my name in. I've never run a race with someone before, but Big Sur seemed like the kind of race that would be fun to do with a friend. Even though we'd never met in real life, my fellow Facebook page admin Kristina was up for it, and we were both ecstatic when we secured spots. We texted frequently over the next 9 months, exchanging messages more often as the day grew closer. As much I was looking forward to running my bucket list race, I was really looking forward to meeting my friend!

This was truly the experience of a lifetime.

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap

My husband and I arrived in Monterey California on the Friday before the race. We ate lunch at Fishermans Wharf and spotted the expo tents nearby. After lunch, we went to pick up my bib. The expo was split into 2 different tents, one for check in and one for merchandise. Check in was easy. I'd hoped to run into Bart Yasso, but no luck. There were a ton of Boston to Big Sur runners, easily identifiable by their teal and pink jackets. I wore my most recent Chicago Marathon shirt but felt a little intimidated. What can I say? As far as the expo goes, the merchandise tent was underwhelming. I picked up a few race shirts and we left.

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap

The following morning was bright and sunny. I texted Kristina and we made plans to meet on the beach for some yoga. There were hugs, tears, laughs, and yep, some yoga. Meeting her for the first time made me really excited for the race!

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
Kristina and me

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
Partner plank
Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
Partner headstand
Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
My absolute favorite picture. Look at our smiles!
I wanted to check out the course and my husband and I drove south along the coast to Big Sur. The ride was as beautiful as I remembered from our previous trip. We stopped for lunch at Rocky Point Restaurant and ate on the patio, soaking in the views. We drove the rest of the way to Big Sur and stopped at the "general store". Judging by the people we saw there, it looked the 1960s called and stayed. I was somber on the return trip as I contemplated the inclines. I knew it was going to be tough, but coming from the flatlands of suburban Chicago, I naively didn't imagine hills like that! What was I thinking?

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
Rocky Point. And yes, we would be running down that hill in the background behind me.
Kristina and her husband met us for dinner at a pizza place. Pizza is my pre-race meal and I was happy she indulged me. We talked a little about the race but mostly made small talk. I felt pretty relaxed after dinner and easily fell asleep after laying out my clothes and gear. Unfortunately, I woke up in the middle of the night in a sheer panic and spent the rest of the night trying to calm myself down.  What had I gotten myself into?

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
Pre-race pizza!
The next morning we met at 3:45 to get on the buses that would take us to Big Sur for the start of the race. The volunteers quickly moved the racers onto the buses and we were on our way to the start line. After an hour school bus ride, we waited in a parking lot surrounded by portapotties. There were funny signs on the doors. I was cold and nervous and the parking lot soon became packed with runners. There were so many people that it became hard to move around. Kristina wanted to meet up with her fellow Inknburn ambassadors, so we headed out of the crowd to their meeting spot near the start line. I was grateful for the distraction! 

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
Pre-race, pre-dawn in the holding area

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
Did you know Hulk Hogan ran Big Sur?
There weren't many costumed runners, which surprised this guy from England! 
Being a relatively small race with 4000 runners, there were 3 waves. We lined up with wave 2. The sun came up and with all the people, it was starting to feel warmer so I removed my throwaway sweatshirt. I attempted to toss it over the crowd but instead it landed on some guy's head. He looked surprised and I tried to apologize. Kristina just shook her head and I started laughing. The national anthem was sung and 5 minutes after wave 1, we were off!

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
It's really happening!
Kristina and I had planned to just enjoy the experience of running in Big Sur and not try to push our pace. We decided to go out at about 10 minutes per mile and with stops for pictures and refilling our Tailwind bottles, figured on about a 5 hour finish time. The first 6 miles or so were run through the piney woods of Big Sur, with a net downhill. Knowing what was to come, we made a conscious effort to hold back while the rest of the runners flew by. 
Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
My Garmin shows the true story. This is up to mile 23, after which my battery ran out. There was one more climb at mile 25.
Taking it easy at the start was a wise decision. We started climbing uphill shortly after mile 6 as we headed up a steep ascent for about 2 miles. It was also at this point that we were hit with an icy blast off the Pacific. This wind, which we later learned was 30+ mph,  would be with us for the rest of the race. As we headed up the hills, I was reminded of my training with Becky, specifically when she had me pulling the sled loaded with plates. I kept hearing her voice telling me to drive forward and as I put my head down, that is what I did. We got to the top of that hill and started running down. Naively, we thought that was as bad as it would get. 

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
After that first climb.
"That wasn't so bad!"
But no. About 2 miles later, as we came around the corner, we saw what was waiting for us. With its 500 foot climb over 2 miles, it was the famed Hurricane Point. We heard the beating of the Japanese Taiko drums strategically positioned at the base of the hill. The drummers invited us to join in. Up, up, up. The headwinds continued blowing at us. This climb is what everyone talks about when they talk about Big Sur. And it's no joke. 

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
They invited us to join in!
At mile 11 or so we began to descend. Although I had been told to train for the downhills, nothing prepared me for the sheer effort I would feel in my quads. My right knee started to tug, a new sensation for me, and we slowed to a walk. We stopped to take in the breathtaking view. We could see the iconic Bixby bridge, the halfway point of the race, in the distance. We could hear the music from the pianist who was located at the far end of the bridge. Combined with the view, it felt surreal. 
Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
Bixby Bridge
Big Sur Marathon Race Recap

We started running again, downhill. We knew that rest of the course would be rolling hills. We also had to contend with that wind. Kristina called out the miles as they ticked off on her Garmin. I started to feel nauseous, and I asked her if we could walk while I sorted it out. We ran/walked the next couple of miles and at mile 17, I told her to go ahead without me. I felt so sick that I wanted to cry. Kristina refused to leave me and told me we were going in together. I did not want to ruin her race. Because I have a tendency to feel nauseous on long runs, I pulled out my secret weapon, an anti-nausea medicine I prescribe in the office. I sucked on the tablet and waited for the magic to happen. Meanwhile, we continued to run/walk. At mile 18, we saw a woman on the side, being attended to by medical personnel. She was crying. Oh hell no, I thought to myself. We pressed forward. 

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap

Mile 20 came up and we passed the sign with a picture of a brick wall. I was feeling much better by then--thank you Zofran!-- and I smiled as we passed it. If mile 17 was my wall, I had climbed over it. Our run/walk intervals became less frequent as I got a second wind. The uphills continued to feel fine for me, but the downhills were really painful in my quads and knee. Kristina commented that it was pretty funny that I had no trouble running up but wanted to rest on the downhills. And my foot? Not a whisper. I felt very grateful at this point as I realized I was going to finish this thing.

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
These funny signs were at every mile!
We kept running. At mile 25, Kristina asked if I wanted to walk one last time. We walked briefly and picked up the pace as we headed towards the finish line. One last climb and then downhill the rest of the way. She grabbed my hand and we crossed the finish line, holding hands, high in the air. We threw our arms around each other and I started to cry.

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
Big Sur Marathon Race Recap

Crossing the finish line of a marathon is always an emotional experience. This finish line was a big one for me. A bucket list race, battling injury during my training, and getting to run with one of my very best virtual running friends made this an experience of a lifetime. Pushing through those tough miles and hills, while running on the most beautiful course was an incredible experience. As I write this and look through my photos, I cannot believe it really happened. 

Big Sur Marathon Race Recap
Hearing people calling my name throughout the race really helped me keep moving forward!
Even one week after the race, I'm having trouble putting into words exactly how this experience has made me feel. I have so many emotions after accomplishing such a big goal! This was the hardest race I've ever run. This was the most beautiful race I've ever run. How often do we get to chase our dreams? 

More than anything, I'm feeling grateful. Grateful that I am married to a guy who indulges my dreams. Grateful to my parents for holding down the fort and staying with my boys while we traveled to California. Grateful to Kristina for agreeing to run with me and staying with me the whole way. Grateful to my coach Becky for modifying my training when injury threatened to derail the dream but pushing me hard to get ready for those hills. Grateful to my doctor for telling me she would get me to the start line and helping me find alternative ways to train to take the load off my foot. Grateful to my friends for all their support, especially Marcia, who offered me expertise and talked me off the cliff more than once. And grateful to my body for holding it together after my PF battle and my bike crash, throughout the race, and afterward so I could enjoy the rest of my "not a second honeymoon" with my husband. We hiked Yosemite and those hills of San Francisco. Our first trip away together since we had the boys, we completely relaxed and enjoyed every minute of our vacation.

Not my fastest marathon by any means. But my favorite.
This is what it's all about. Running down a dream. Life is indeed very good.

Have you ever accomplished a big goal or realized a big dream? 

I'm linking this recap up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap.



140 comments :

  1. This reminds me a little bit of how I felt after I ran MCM--because of the injury that had plagued me during the last 2 months of training, I was so unsure that I would finish, and then to be able to finish was just a dream. I am so proud of you for fighting through this, and so happy that you had Kristin to help you make it through! Big Sur is a tough marathon, period, and to do it while feeling so sick is truly an accomplishment. CONGRATULATIONS!

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    1. Thankfully I only felt sick for a couple of miles until my magic medicine kicked in. I need to figure out why that happens to me. Should I dilute my fuel more? Drink more water? It's always a learning experience!

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  2. Congrats!!!! I got teary eyed when you talked about being ill but Kristina said she was not leaving you! I think you've made a friend for life right there! So glad that your foot behaved!

    As you know, my sister ran Big Sur several times and she said those head winds are no joke! I couldn't even imagine!!! Congrats again on such a great accomplishment!

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    1. This really was the hardest thing I've ever done, which is what made it so worthwhile. Not discounting the beauty of the surroundings at all! In fact, I'm feeling a little lost right now as to what's next!

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  3. I love that you went after your dream and pushed through your challenges to finish strong! What a great memory to have with your friend!

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    1. It really was the experience of a lifetime!

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  4. Well this was a FUN read. I can't even imagine how hard this course was. Congratulations, Wendy! I am so happy you and Kristen got to run it together. I'm so happy you got to live out a dream!! And thanks for all the awesome pictures. :)

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    1. Oh my gosh, I don't think I'll ever run a race this hard again! I had no idea it was going to be so tough. I was totally taken in by the views...

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  5. So awesome Wendy! Felt like I was right there with you both on the race course. Minus the beautiful scenery and minus the climbing and downhill. So proud of you ! You made your dream a reality and pushed through a tough one. Much love to you my friend ! Congratulations:)

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    1. Thanks Liz! It was totally worth all the pain. I loved every minute of it, except for the nausea. Thankfully it passed.

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  6. Huge congrats to you my friend. It's been a trip for me being along on this journey with you as your cliff-whisperer and I couldn't be happier about how it all panned out. These tough races bring out one's true essence and you've got so much to be proud of. Cheers to a bucket list race well executed!

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    1. Thank you for everything! Next up...our trip to PCB!

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  7. Wendy I have been waiting for this race recap. You did a wonderful job incorporating all the feelings that happen during a marathon and the difficulty when you can't train the way you expect. Completing Big Sur was an amazing accomplishment and I know you are so proud of that medal and your race day. Having the guts to take on such a difficult marathon shows exactly what you are made of and the adversity that challenged you during the training cycle makes the finish all the sweeter. I can't wait to read about your next adventures! So excited and happy for you!

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    1. Thank you so much!! I had no idea really how hard this course would be. Ignorance is truly bliss. I was pleased to see how well my alternative training worked out. I wouldn't recommend training for a marathon like that but having marathon experience sure paid off during those tough miles!

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  8. Love the pictures, it truly looks gorgeous. Wow, sounds really hard. The ending of your post, filled with all that gratitude, is really touching and wonderful. I loved following your training. You did it ! But I knew you would...I never worried for a second that you wouldn't ! Congrats !

    Nothing I hate more than running down hill, I know how your quads could have felt.

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    1. This was hard. But it was worth it--the experience of running along that most beautiful California coast was something I will never forget!

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  9. Congratulations! This sounds like an incredible experience and I am so glad you enjoyed yourself. I know this was a tough training cycle for you but I am so glad you made it to the start and finish lines! It sounds like it was totally worth it!

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    1. If it were a different race, I might have DNS'd. Then again, I might not. I'm not a quitter and I like to think that I would do the same thing again.

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  10. I am so happy reading this. So happy that the race was *almost* everything you wanted it to be.So happy that you ran it with Kristina. So happy that your foot didn't bother you (during).

    Congrats on pushing through everything & chasing your dream!

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    1. Thank you! I'm so happy everything turned out well. There was just so much to love about the whole experience!

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  11. amazing. loved reading this and i'm so happy for you. and jealous - big sur is definitely a bucket list race. what a wonderful recap! did you get a picture of the piano guy?

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    1. I did get a picture of the piano guy but it didn't turn out so well...I may have to poach Kristina's photo!

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  12. Congratulations!! You did it!! I am so glad that your foot didn't give you any trouble! It sounds like such a difficult course and you did great! It sounds like we had similar experiences in our races. I got sick as well, but I never got a second wind. I battled it the whole time. I'm glad you were able climb over the wall! I wish you could have run into Bart Yasso! That would have been awesome!

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    1. It really was an amazing experience!

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  13. Congratulations, my friend! Well done. Bravo to you. You are exceptional and such inspiration. I'm lucky to have you in my world. Xo

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  14. Wow Wendy. This race report made me cry! (Or maybe it's the wine I am drinking :) What a great experience. I think it's so cool that you met through the love of running and shared such awesome experiences. Good on you ...

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    1. Oh, I keep tearing up as I read this over and over! But this is what running is all about. Friends and finish lines. It was amazing.

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  15. You look so happy in all of your pics and that is so wonderful to see. It has been so cool to follow along on your journey. I'm so happy for you that you got to run your dream race. Take care of yourself and rest now. Congrats!

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    1. Thanks! I'm sad that it's over but I'm looking forward to some "easy" runs for a while.

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  16. Stunning. Strong. Emotional. Uplifting. Beautiful. Spiritual. I could go on and on. That was one hell of a impressive race, Sista. So happy you got to meet your friend Kristina. She sounds wonderful. Congrats on conquering Big Sur in a big way! Take THAT PF! Thanks for linking with us Wendy!

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    1. I've read that running Big Sur is life changing, and I was skeptical. Until I ran it. Now I know. It was an amazing experience. Running it with Kristina? That much better. Life is good!

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  17. Loved your recap! Such a stunning course and so nice that you got to cross it off your bucket list. I can only imagine the difficulty of that course! So much fun you finally got to meet your virtual running friend!!

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    1. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. Would I do it again? It a heart beat. But only with my friend...

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  18. I am so thrilled for you! I love everything about this - your husband's support, your friend's encouragement, your perseverance, the beautiful scenery, the challenging course -- your story touches on every thing great about running!

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    1. This really was the race of a lifetime! I feel like nothing will compare. Which is ok! No pressure after this, right?

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  19. I love this recap so much. How wonderful to get through this race and really enjoy it after all that PF pain.
    It is awesome you had a friend to run with and that you stayed together. That was a great way to take in the experience and really make the most of it.
    The beauty is astounding...it is great you and hubby got to have some fun before you went home.
    Your yoga pictures are amazing...panther plank is some serious stuff.
    Congratulations Wendy! I am glad you had a great trip.
    Every time I read a recap like this, it makes me want to get that marathon distance checked off! I hope I get the chance, just once.

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    1. I can only say that I think there is nothing like running a full marathon. Every time I've crossed the finish line, I feel so emotional. Don't get me wrong, I love the half distance. But it just isn't the same as running 26.2. This one was so hard and I had so many challenges pre race that it made the finish all that much sweeter.

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  20. What a beautiful race and a great race recap. Congrats on accomplishing one of your dreams! This is a bucket list race for me too - one that I have to admit I am a bit afraid of at this point... hills are my nemesis! But definitely some day!

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    1. You will never regret running your bucket list race, no matter how hard it is. In fact, finishing it will feel that much sweeter! I'm still on a high!

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  21. Your recaps always bring me to tears!

    Congrats on great race. You are so lucky to run with a friend.

    CA is on the bucket list along with a half a dozen places. Just need time and money!

    Can't wait to meet you in Dec!

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    1. This was epic. I feel lucky on so many fronts!

      I am looking forward to our race in December as well!

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  22. Congrats! I loved reading this recap and it's motivating for me as I train for my first full marathon with some knee pain now creeping in!

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    1. No to the knee pain! I hope it's nothing serious. What marathon are you training for?

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  23. Congrats on your race. You must feel so proud of your self. i love big sur and I can only imagine how beautiful but also painful the race must have been. So glad that your PR did not act up. Thanks for the awesome recap

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    1. I don't know about proud but I'm sure feeling satisfied!

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  24. Even though I've already read every word and marveled over ever photograph that you and Kristina posted since the Big Sur marathon was completed, I bawled my eyes out reading this recap. Knowing of the major setbacks you experiences these last months since you and Kristina got word that your would be running Big Sure, knowing of your anxieties these road blocks caused you, yet knowing too, that you are a force of Nature who never, ever gives up, who faces each difficulty with grace, dignity, fortitude and resilience, it is such a joy to read of your triumph, your joy, your closeness with Kristina.
    I wish only I could have been at that finish line in person to cheer your success. And hug both of you, not virtually, but really.
    Some day, my friend. Some day.
    I am so happy that even beyond the marathon, the trip was wonderful for you and your supportive husband.
    Isn't live grand?

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    1. I feel like you were at our finish line! You've been with us every step of the way, cheering us on. Thank you for all your love and support, Connie! <3

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  25. Congrats! I loved reading this. I'm so sad I wasn't able to participate but hopefully another year I will! During my first marathon, I was doing great until we came down a big hill. Then everything hurt so I definitely understand!

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    1. I hope you get the chance to run this. But for sure, prepare for those downhills!

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  26. Congratulations! Such a great recap. Sounds like you had a great race and I'm glad you were able to do it even though you had issues with training. Way to go!

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    1. I'm so glad I got to run this! There were a few weeks during my training where I told myself I was going to run but it really was in doubt.

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  27. When I finished my goal is 2015 I was like now what? Congrats on chasing down a dream race and overcoming all the challenges through training and on race day. Just reading about it sounds like a super tough course but gorgeous!

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    1. The views were definitely the reward for what will most likely be the toughest race I've ever run!

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  28. Although my first marathon was an absolute great race (unlike some of the frustrations you had at Big Sur), it was every bit as fabulous and surreal. That first marathon was a life goal for me (and I still cannot believe I did it, or that I've done a few more 26.2's since). This is such a beautiful story of perseverance, commitment, and friendship..... everything that embodies us runners ;-)

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    1. My first marathon was not a life goal for me--in fact, I felt pressure to do it because I wouldn't be a 'real' runner if I didn't do one. This was so different because it was a life goal but having those 3 previous marathons made it totally doable even though I wasn't optimally prepared!

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  29. Wow Wendy! Way to go! You are so inspiring and I'm so happy for you! Way to kick that injury in the butt! Nice recap!

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  30. Ah.... so great... I've been so looking forward to reading this, and Iw as out of town for the weekend and just got back and this is what I wanted to do ....read this.... I love that you guys stuck together.... I love the picture of you hunting at the end... I love that it's not your best time, yet your favorite marathon.... another race for me to add to the bucket list... If not the full, then maybe the half or the 10-miler..... congrats!!!!

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    1. I'm glad I didn't know there were other options besides the full. I'm glad I got to experience the whole thing.

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  31. AHHHH!!!! So so incredibly happy for you! You freakin' DID IT!!!!! I'm grateful you write this blog and motivate and inspire everyone who reads it, including me!!!! So incredibly amazing and I love that you just "get it" and know how lucky you are to be able to literally run down your dreams. Fantastic!!!

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    1. Awww Allie, thank you! I had a hard time getting my head around a slow finish time until I ran this. And now I know that yes, it isn't always about finish times! What an incredible experience.

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  32. WHat an awesome recap, looks like the whole thing was a great adventure. SO fun you got to meet Kristina and I love love love all the fun pictures you guys took together. Congrats on finishing a tough marathon and having a great time and yay for zofran!

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    1. You have no idea how glad I was that I brought that little magic pill along...

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  33. What a recap! I soaked up every word of this!!!! I am so amazed of what you fought through to get to the start line. Such an inspiration. I love that you guys really experienced this race and lived it up. Some races are about the experience and not the time and this is one for you. Loved following your journey.

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    1. Thank you Julie! This one taught me a lot about running and that it isn't always about finish times. I don't think I'll come down from this one for a while.

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  34. Just wow. Such an awesome experience for you. I heard how windy it was, which makes a tough course even more challenging. Great job on your finish. You both look great, by the way. Can't tell by the pictures you were having a hard time.

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    1. I can't speak for Kristina--she seemed fine the entire time! Thank goodness for that--she kept me going!

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  35. this is so cool! You are right, what a dream run, trip and experience! Thank you for sharing it with us! Congrats- you are one tough cookie! Your pictures are fantastic!

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    1. Thank you! It was an amazing day...actually an amazing week!

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  36. Oh Wendy, I'm so happy for you! Despite all the obstacles you faced during training, you ran such a great race! And you got to run it with a friend and take everything in together. I can only imagine how emotional that hug was at the finish line!

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    1. I get emotional thinking about that finish. I loved every minute of this race. Except the nausea...

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  37. WAY TO GO! Loved the finish line hug photo. Also totally love your skirt!

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    1. Thank you! Kristina is an Inknburn ambassador, so I had to represent, right? No pressure from her tho!

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  38. YAY! I have been in the area many many times as Monterrey is my husband's favorite place in the U.S. and yes, it always feels like a trip down memory lane to the 60s. Glad you had such a great time!

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  39. Great job!! I've been looking out for this recap to see how the race went :) I love Monterey and think it would be gorgeous to run it. I'm sure I'll get emotional if I have a good race this Saturday.

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    1. It's probably one of the most beautiful places in the US!

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  40. Wow! What a crazy beautiful course! Congrats on powering through even when things got rough. Agree that the downhills are harder on me (and my shins) than the uphills. That hill in the middle looks so killer on the elevation charts! Congrats again!!

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    1. Tougher than I thought. I mean the only thing I could compare it to was the Door County (Wisconsin) Half Marathon, which I also naively ran as my first half marathon. Crazy hilly!

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  41. Congrats! Just found your blog and love the style of your recap - awesome job with this race!

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  42. I'm so proud of you!! I know you didn't train for this race as you usually do, and you did such a great job! It looks like you had a wonderful time despite the bout of nausea, and I find running with a friend helps SO much. Big big congrats to you!!!

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    1. Thank you Nicole! For sure I'll be running with a friend in the future. This was just a blast!

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  43. Congratulations!! This looks like an amazing race! I missed your post, but I knew you were having an amazing time in Big Sur!

    Welcome back!

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    1. Thank you! I'll be heading over to check out your recap as well!

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  44. Congrats, Wendy. Your recap had me in tears. Way to push through. xo

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    1. I was in tears as I wrote it! What an amazing experience!

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  45. I have been waiting to read this recap! I can feel your emotion in this post as it brings me to happy tears for you! So glad that you made your dream come true!

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    1. I think out of everything I feel, that is what is the most overwhelming to me! I am still having trouble putting into words how exactly I feel.

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  46. Congrats Wendy! I loved reading this! Your recap is great! So awesome to finish such a tough race and so great that Kristina stayed with you the whole time. Your pictures capture the race really well. I definitely want to do this one some time. Also glad that you got to enjoy Yosemite and SF with your husband.

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    1. Thank you Sharon! This is a must do race. Hard but oh so rewarding. In so many ways!

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  47. Oh goodness, I feel like I'm at a loss for words.
    What a wonderful recap of an amazing race! It really shows that running is about far more than just your race time <3

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    1. And that's my subject for Wednesday's post...

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  48. Love your recap! You are amazing and did awesome!! Congrats!! So cool that Kristina was there for you the whole way. Love your pics!

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    1. Thank you! It was an amazing experience!

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  49. I am in tears as I try and type this. There is so much emotion in what I just read and it is so hard to put into words. I did not run this race but dang I sure felt like I've trained with you these last months leading up to it. I've thought about you more than just when I read blogs. You were on my mind in Montgomery, Destin and again in Nashville as I ran.
    About the only thing I can come up with is how happy I am you had a great experience and thank God for Kristina and how special it was for the two of you to be together! A memory that will never be forgotten! My heart is smiling for you Wendy!

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    1. Awww...You are so kind! It was a tough training cycle and I did drag a lot of you along with me, didn't I? Thank God for friends. I cannot wait until our turn in December!

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  50. Loved reading your recap - well done on a tough race! That course seems very daunting. How lovely to be able those 26.2 miles with a friend!

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    1. I've never run a race with a friend before and now I can see why it is so wonderful!

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  51. Congrats on running well on such a challenging course! I love all of the pictures and it sounds like you had a wonderful time the whole trip.

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    1. Truly the best vacation I've ever been on!

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  52. Oh, I have goosebumps!!!! What a great and triumphant story! I am so glad you and Kristine came through so beautifully, and that your foot cooperated the whole time. Proud of you!!!

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    1. Thank you! I'm on such a high--I don't want to come down to reality!

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  53. Wendy I love everything about this! I love that you never gave up on this dream despite all of the challenges thrown at you. Huge congrats to you!!

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    1. There was no way I wasn't doing this race! So glad everything fell into place!

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  54. Congratulations, Wendy! I loved this recap. I could feel the emotion and know how much it meant to you. I'm so happy for you!

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    1. Thank you! I'm so sad that it's over but on such a high that I got to realize one of my dreams!

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  55. Omgosh Congratulations Wendy! I have loved every minute of following this marathon journey and I can not imagine how much this race meant to you!! I can't imagine those winds...but your pics are breathtaking and you look great!!

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    1. I read on another recap that you had to earn these views, and you know what, that really sums it up! It was an amazing experience and I'm so glad I got to do it!

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  56. I teared up reading your race recap, Wendy. SO PROUD OF YOU and SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!! Those hills were truly monstrous but you didn't let them get in your way - you just kept persevering, like the champion that you are!!! And those pictures!!! You look SO STRONG and SO POWERFUL. Simply magnificent!!! This is TRULY the experience of a lifetime and I am thrilled beyond belief that you got to achieve such an amazing goal!!! BIG HUGS!!!

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes, it was the experience of a lifetime. I'm so glad all of you came along on the ride with me!

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  57. Wendy- Congrats on running this beautiful race. Congrats on conquering the uphill and the icy winds and big Congrats on your decision to run this race just to enjoy it! So many great memories you get to take home with you. Yes, running a Marathon makes you indeed very grateful for all the support you have in your life.
    What a beautiful recap, and the the pics are gorgeous! Now I want to run it, too!

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    1. It was really fun running this just to enjoy! Actually for me, that was the perfect way to run Big Sur.

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  58. Congrats on the finish and even more so I love the feeling of a lifetime feeling. Wonderful recap. Run friends are the best kind of friends.

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    1. I like your term "lifetime feeling". That really sums it up!

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  59. What a course! Congrats on the strong finish!!

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    1. It's crazy hard, which of course, I never considered! But absolutely worth it.

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  60. Reading your recap brought back such fun memories from when my husband and I ran Big Sur in 2001. I felt like I was running along side of you as I read along. In fact, I just found my recap and reread it to compare my experience to yours. It truly is one of the most beautiful marathons. Congrats on a job well done! I'm so happy for you, Wendy!

    I love that the drummers invited you to join them. We could hear the drums for miles, and it wasn't until they were in sight that we realized how cool they were.

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    1. Wow, 2001? 15 years ago? Have you ever thought about doing it again?

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  61. This looks like an amazing race and I love that you got to meet up with one of your virtual friends. Love the yoga partner pose photos.

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    1. Thank you! It was an amazing experience!

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  62. A huge congratulations to you! Big Sur is not an easy marathon course and even with feeling sick and having a rough training cycle you owned it - and enjoyed it!

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    1. I'm so glad I didn't have a time goal for this race. This was all about the ride and yep...it was incredible!

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  63. OMG I'm crying reading this. I know this feeling OH SO WELL. Congrats Wendy, what an amazing experience! You totally owned that day and clearly enjoyed every second of it!

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    1. You know that sometimes it's all about the experience! I'm so glad I got to run. It was an experience of a lifetime.

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  64. Wow, amazing!! There is nothing like nailing a big goal like that. I've heard that's such a gorgeous race... just obviously a tough course. Congrats!!

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    1. So tough, in fact today I was comparing it to Chicago and really, there is no comparison. This one's all about the experience.

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  65. Thanks for taking us along for the experience! You did great, that was a challenging course and with your PF and altered training plan, I have nothing but applause for how you made it through everything!

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    1. Thank you! I couldn't be happier with how everything worked out!

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  66. I am so behind on my reading but no way I was going to miss your Big Sur recap. First of all, you're amazing! You never gave up on making it to this race despite the hurdles. Your friend Kristina is amazing as well as she stayed with you the entire time and you provided support for each other. Big Sur is as beautiful as ever and you got to experience it the entire way. Thanks for also sharing all the beautiful scenic photos of your trip after the race.

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    1. Thanks, friend! So many lessons learned from this one, and it was all good.

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  67. Congratulations, Wendy!!! I'm so glad you were able to complete the race pain-free! Those views are absolutely stunning, I would love to run this race one day. You did an amazing job!

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    1. Thank you! This should be on every runner's bucket list! Wow!

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  68. Congratulations, Wendy! Big Sur has always been on my bucket list since I found out about road marathons and I would love to run it someday. The course looks SO beautiful. That medal is really cool, too. I actually said 'oh my' out loud when I saw that Hulk picture! It's good that you had Kristina by your side to help keep you calm pre-race, and to keep you going during the race. That's awesome that y'all got to meet up AND run the whole race together! I was also kind of laughing about your first in-person meet up and the yoga on the beach. You know what they say.... there's no better way to get to know a "stranger" from the Internet than a partner plank! ;-)

    Way to go, chica!

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    1. Haha! Yoga was a good icebreaker but you know what? It felt like we'd known each other for years! Gotta love runners.

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  69. Oh my gosh, how did I miss your race recap? Congratulations on such a wonderful race. It sounds like a wonderful dream of a race and vacation, and I'm so happy that you not only got the the start line, but earned such a great finish line. :)

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    1. It truly was one of the best experiences of my life!

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  70. Wendy, although I follow you on Social Media I totally missed that you ran Big Sur Marathon too. Actually you crossed the finish line within a minute of me. I had a tough race injury wise. Congratulations, that was an amazing course :-)

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    1. I didn't know you did this one either! Wouldn't that have been fun to meet up? Glad you finished in spite of injury. What an amazing race!

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