Showing posts with label Big Sur marathon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Big Sur marathon. Show all posts

Friday, February 7, 2020

My Favorite Race Medal

I really should have titled this post: "My Medal Rack is Full". At the end of 2018, I realized that there was no more room on my medal rack. I thought about ordering a new one, but I had the thought that maybe I didn't need one anymore, that maybe I wasn't going to run so many races, and then there was the never-ending flare of 2019 which threatened to put the kibosh on any races at all.

In spite of all that, I accumulated a few medals last year. They've been hanging on the very end of the rack while I figured out what I was going to do. Last month while scrolling through Instagram, an ad for Groupon popped up. The deal was serendipitously for a medal rack. I have this conspiracy theory that Google, and maybe Facebook too, is always listening to us, although I don't recall discussing my medal rack situation. Anyhoo, I clicked on the ad and found the deal. The medal rack was 65% off the normal price. You could customize it--oh the pressure! and there were several size options.

It was a sign. I made an impulsive decision to buy the Groupon. I optimistically chose the largest rack and ordered it. It arrived yesterday. While I put all the medals from last year on one tier, I had the opportunity to take a trip back with a look at all my past medals.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

8 of Best Things I've Seen at a Race

I've run a lot of races and they are all memorable, not just for my own experiences but for what I've seen during the race. I've been passed by lots of superheroes and costumed runners. I saw Dr Dribble, a guy known for dribbling a basketball for entire marathons. I always push the power button on those signs and I high five all the little kids. These spectacles and sightings help keep things light and take my mind off my own misery, especially during a marathon.

Since a marathon is 26.2 miles, runners have plenty of time to take in the sights. If you've never run a big city marathon, it's an experience unlike any other. Besides the running, the entire experience is entertaining. I've run all the distances, but for some reason, it's my marathon experiences that stay with me the most.

Today I'm sharing some of the best things I've seen while running races. Thanks to Tuesdays on the Run for this great writing prompt that gave me a fun ride down memory lane.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

4 Reasons You Should Reward Yourself With a Destination Race

Unless you live in a warm, tropical climate, you've probably grown tired of winter. Although our winter this year hasn't been bad, the gray and browns are wearing on my senses. I continue to run outside, knowing that spring will come and I'll be rewarded with that pop of color that comes with the change of seasons.

I'm not a patient person and so I like to do some traveling in the spring. I like to tie in a race with my trips if I can. It's fun to run in a new place! I look at it as my reward for training through the toughest time of year to run.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016: The Year in Numbers

Happy New Year!

Wow. Can you believe it's the start of the new year? 2016 was a tumultuous year for many of us. You probably know how my year ended. I'm looking forward to the fresh start that the new year promises.

But it wouldn't be the new year without the yearly rewind! Because this is a running blog, I'm going to rewind my year in running! I've already recapped my year in bling. Today's post is all about the numbers. I'm also going to review the goals I set a year ago at this time. On Wednesday, I'll share my goals for 2017.

I was fairly surprised when I added up my miles for the year! So close to my yearly goal of hitting 1000 miles! That made me super happy. How did I do with the rest of my goals?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Decorated Runner: 2016 The Year in Bling

Most of us are recapping our year of running in a variety of posts, and for today's Wednesday Word prompt, decorate, I decided that I'd recap my year in bling! We as runners are a very decorated group when it comes to bling. Some of us run for the bling and some don't. I'd say I'm in the latter group, but I won't deny that I like getting a medal after a hard run race! Lucky for you, I didn't race a whole lot this year so there won't be a ton of medals in this post. But what I can say is that the races I ran were all special and meaningful for one reason or another. This was a tough year for me, both on and off the road, but I'm proud of what I brought to each and every starting line.

You know the saying: Earned, never given.

Friday, December 9, 2016

5 Things Running Has Taught Me This Year

It's that time of year when all of us reflect back on the past 12 months--did we meet our goals? How was the year for us? Are we ready to wipe the slate clean and start the new year afresh?

In preparation for that, I've been reflecting on all that running has taught me over the past year. Even though I've been a runner for 25+ years, I would never consider myself an expert. As my most recent half marathon showed me, you can prepare for everything (tummy troubles) and the road will throw something at you that you didn't expect (like a side stitch!)

Tuesdays on the Run had this topic for the week's linkup: What has running taught you this year? As with every year, I've learned a lot. Before year's end, I'll evaluate the goals I set for myself back in January. It's also time to set new goals for 2017.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Lessons Learned: Big Sur Marathon

After every marathon I've run, I like to evaluate my performance and my training. What went right? What went wrong? What did I learn?

Do you do this?

This marathon was particularly challenging for me. I knew going into the Big Sur Marathon that I would need to prepare myself for hills. Lots of hills, uphills and downhills. Living in the Chicago area, there just isn't a lot of opportunity for hill training. With my coach Becky, we worked on a solid training plan that would get me ready.

And then a major flare up of plantar fasciitis. So painful, I couldn't walk, much less run. I was forced to alter my training plan significantly. Along with my mileage, my confidence took a nose dive. Was I going to have to DNS this bucket list race? And if I was able to get there, would I have to DNF? I had to dig deep to get myself to the start line. Could I put my fears aside and run? Would my desire, determination, and past experience with the distance be enough?

Lessons Learned: Big Sur Marathon

You all know the outcome of my marathon. If you haven't read my recap, you can read that here. Still feeling so grateful, I've started easing into running again while I continue to recover. I've had plenty of time to reflect on this training cycle and my race. I'm proud that I didn't shy away from the challenge ahead of me. It would have been so much easier to DNS than it was to continue to train through injury. But I don't give up easily. Fortunately this was an injury I could train with. I was determined to run this thing, even if it meant training with time off the road and in the pool. Putting all my doubts and fears aside, I crossed the finish line triumphantly.

What did I learn from this experience? I learned that all those mantras we lean on have a lot of significance.

It's not about finish times, it's about finish lines.

Lessons Learned: Big Sur Marathon

Technically, Big Sur is a tough course. That's why you don't see any world elites here--there won't be any world records set at Big Sur! Believe it or not, this course is a Boston qualifier. For me, this isn't the course I'd want to push for a BQ. Besides the technical difficulty of this very hilly course and the famed headwinds, there is the beauty of running in one of the most amazing places on earth. Who wants to breeze by all that is Big Sur? In addition, I was running this marathon on sub-optimal training. I was just happy to be there and wanted to savor every moment of my bucket list race.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

Lessons Learned: Big Sur Marathon

I do 99% of my training solo. Races too. This was the first time I ran a race with a friend. When Kristina and I decided to run together, we knew we were going to make lots of stops for pictures and to take it all in. When my PF flared, she told me she'd carry me across the finish line on her back if I needed it. Thankfully I didn't need that, but she gave me the emotional support I did need in those tough middle miles.

If your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough. 

Lessons Learned: Big Sur Marathon
Pre-dawn pre-race
In my recap, I wrote about that pre-race panic attack I had in the middle of the night. I always have a little pre-race anxiety but I've had nothing like that since my first Chicago marathon. I could have skipped the race, right? And let Kristina down? Let my husband down? And me? I talked myself down. I reminded myself of how badly I wanted this dream to come true and how bad I'd feel if I bailed. When it was go time, I put on my big girl panties and got on that bus to the start line.

Step outside of your comfort zone. Nothing good ever happens there.

Lessons Learned: Big Sur Marathon
This is hill training when you have no hills to train on...
Once injury struck, I was determined to get to the start line. My revised training plan was so outside of my comfort zone that I just figured I had nothing to lose. After I was forced to take time off the road, I had to get comfortable training in the pool. I felt really foolish when I first started "jogging" around the diving well, so much so that I had to explain to the lifeguards what I was doing. When I crashed my bike on a training ride, I sucked it up and got right back on the horse, because what else could I do? It's not like I could run, right? After a couple of weeks, my foot felt better and I was able to try running, slowly, and was pleasantly surprised how much fitness I had retained through my cross training. This helped my confidence going into the final weeks of marathon prep. I learned that you can prepare for a marathon without a lot of running, but it isn't something I'd recommend.

Never limit where running can take you.

Lessons Learned: Big Sur Marathon
Or yoga. Warrior 2 on the rocks of Big Sur.
Destination races present a whole new set of challenges for the runner. There's all the travel logistics, getting there, where to stay, and navigating an unfamiliar locale. But to me, the rewards of running in a new place far outweigh the challenges. That's really the beauty of running. You just put on your shoes and run.

I can do hard things.

Lessons Learned: Big Sur Marathon

This was the most technically challenging race I've ever run. Let's just say it. It was really hard. But thanks to Becky's ingenious training, I was much better prepared for the hills than I realized. For me, dealing with that nausea in the middle of the race was tougher than any of the physical challenges this race presented. Mentally, I had to dig deep to push through those miles while feeling sick. Even though I entertained the idea of quitting, I would never have done that. What would be the point? So I kept moving forward. I can draw on this experience in the future, both on and off the road.

I like to think that running the Big Sur Marathon has made me a little more fearless. Every race I run makes me stronger. I never want to go through life afraid of a challenge. I don't want my life to be limited by my fears. I want to be strong. I want to be brave. I want to be confident.

I can do hard things.

It's a work in progress. I still need to figure out that middle of the marathon nausea thing..

What lessons have you learned from a race? Do you think running makes you more fearless?

I'm linking up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word. Today's word is fearless. Check out what makes all the other bloggers fearless!

Also linking up with Coaches' Corner! When the Suz asks, you don't say no! Check out posts hosted by Suzlyfe, Coach Debbie Runs, Running on Happy, and Crazy Running Girl!

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.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies

In case you didn't know, I'm running a marathon this weekend. Not just any marathon, but the Big Sur Marathon! My training is wrapped up and I'm hoping that what I did is enough to get me across the finish line. After all, there was very little running the last 6 weeks. Thank you very much, plantar fasciitis! I'm feeling a little restless without having much training on the plan this final week. I've got all this nervous energy and I've been buzzing around the house like the energizer bunny! I won't lie, even though I'm anxious, it feels good to have more time in my day to focus on other things besides training.

And yes, my wacky sense of humor has returned. Is it because I'm glad to be done with training or is it the taper crazies?

5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies

What to do with all that nervous energy besides worry? What's a runner to do?

You sing out loud on your final training runs. Because they are shorter. Because there are no paces to hit. Because you just get to run. But then you worry that you aren't running enough. You remind yourself to trust your training. You remember all those deadlifts and squats Becky had you do and that is what will power you up those hills. You remember how much you love running. Your runs feel easy right now. You think maybe you didn't do enough to get ready. You remind yourself that you did enough to get ready. You try to forget that you still have to run 26.2 miles.
5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
KB swings
You text wacky selfies to your friend who is running Boston alone. The selfies have all the marathon signs that drove you crazy the last time you ran one. But secretly, you hope to see some of these signs at your race. Because even though they sometimes annoy you, you appreciate the efforts. And they always make you smile. And smiling makes running feel a little bit easier.
5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
I know it's a lion, but that's all I had at work.
5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
Headstand? Running a marathon? Growing out your bangs?
5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
Yes, they do. BQ, baby.
You eat all the food. Including these yummy cupcakes that I won from another blogger, Sana. Oh yes, that happened. It's probably the best prize I've ever won from a blog giveaway. No hemp hearts in these babies. Just sugar, butter, and yummy goodness. I won't lie, though. I shared them with my boys. Because otherwise, I'm just a glutton.

5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
From Georgetown Cupcakes
You obsess about hurting yourself or becoming ill before the marathon. Washing your hands becomes more than hygiene, it becomes a mission. You avoid sidewalk cracks, not only because you are superstitious but also because you don't want to trip. You also avoid any people who look sick. Which is kind of hard to do when you work in the medical profession. Your mind screams with possibilities. Every sneeze is potential for pneumonia. Every creak, every niggle, every twinge is a potential DNS.

5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies

You read all the information you can find about your race and review the course map so much that you feel that you've already run the race. You know every mile marker, every uphill and downhill. You anticipate the guy playing the grand piano at mile 13. That big hill that starts at mile 9 and ends at mile 11. You start stalking the weather. Maybe you have more than one weather app on your phone. Maybe you have 4 weather apps and you check them all, favoring the app that has the best forecast. Every day the forecast changes and you imagine the worst. Looks like it's going to be windy. There's been plenty of wind here in Chicago. I can do this!

5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
And away I go! This isn't my first marathon, but it's my first destination marathon! Funny thing, even after 3 marathons, I still get nervous and excited. I can't wait to start and I can't wait to be done. It's all part of the process. No matter what, I wouldn't miss it for the world. I won't be blogging the rest of the week. I'll be taking a little time off this week to enjoy my time away with my husband. You can stalk me on my Facebook Page or Instagram for race updates. My race recap will be up next Sunday.

How about you? What happens to you during your taper? Do you go crazy? Do you have a ton of nervous energy? What do you do to burn it off?

Thanks to everyone for following me through my training, my injury, and everything else. It really does take a village to train a marathoner. I will run with all of you in my heart!

I'm linking up with Deb Runs for Wednesday Word. Today's word is energetic. Who me?