Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Race Report: Big Sur International Marathon

Holy hills batman!  That pretty much sums up the entire race!  This was a difficult race for me, as I had no idea what kind of toll running two marathons within 6 days of each other would do to me.  I felt pretty rested all week and was even able to go for a nice recovery 5 mile run on Friday where my legs felt pretty darn good.  They were not exactly springy but they didn't feel like I wouldn't make it to the finish!  Boy, was I wrong!

I went and picked up my bib and packet on Friday with my little sister Erin.  Monterey is only about 50 mins away from my house.  I didn't want the stress of the expo on Saturday so this made much more sense.  The weather was beautiful and it was predicted to be the same on Sunday.  Saturday I slept in, attempted to carb up and just rest.  My appetite wasn't all that great.  During the week I was a bottomless pit, but by the end of the week I was not!  I think everything just caught up to me.  Saturday Ari had to work so when he got home that evening we loaded up the car and headed down.  I found a really nice Indian food restaurant on Yelp! and was not disappointed.  I was able to get a decent size meal down and we were back to the hotel hitting the sack by 8 pm.  I set my alarm for 2:45 am, as the buses were picking up the runners between 3:45 and 4:00 am!  That was rough!  When the alarm went off, I seriously thought of just calling it off! 

I had plans to meet Aron and her friends Sandra and Jessica to ride the bus together.  It was early, but surprisingly it wasn't that cold out.  Right away that made me nervous.  The Monterey coast is famous for being foggy and cold.  It was not at all.  I was wearing shorts, my long sleeve race shirt and a sweat jacket and was fine.  I had brought my heat blanket but really didn't need it.  The bus ride to the start is quite daunting.  It is along the race course so even though it is pitch black out and you can't see a thing, you are definitely aware of the ups and downs of the road/race course.  I attempted not to think about it too much.  I was riding with Aron's friend Sandra who had ran the race last year and she described the miles and course as we drove.  This little head's up was actually quite helpful.  She warned me of a giant hill at mile 25 and that was a super helpful.

When we got off the bus it was packed with runners and we went right to the potties.  No real probs there since there were plenty of potties to go around.  We were able to go a few times and then all of a sudden, (again!) they said five mins to the start!  We quickly stripped of our warm up clothes and threw our seat bags into a giant pile and hoped they would be at the finish!  Aron and I had similar ideas of how we wanted to run so we decided to start together.  This was really helpful to me mentally.  We run pretty well together and do well checking in with one another.  At the start line we stood right next to Dean Karnazes!  He is a lot smaller in person, ha!  After a really beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, we were off!

The first couple of miles are all down hill and they warn you not to go out too fast.  Aron and I kept it in the 8:15-8:30 range I think and were cruising along really well.  This part of the course is through all the pretty Redwood trees and it smells sooooo good!  It was a pretty large pack around us and we just chatted and enjoyed the miles.  By about mile 3 I had to go potty.  It made me mad.  With such an early start I wasn't able to go before hand and I knew it was going to, excuse the expression, "rear it's ugly head," at some point.  I didn't want to leave Aron but I had to go!  By mile 6 there was a potty and I sped off leaving Aron in hopes of catching up to her again.  There was a line!  I waited almost 3 mins before I got to go!  And by the time I hit the course again I was off by 5 mins!  I was mad, but I thought I might have a chance to pick it up and maybe meet up with Aron in the future.  With that monkey off my back, I felt really good.  I picked up the pace in here since it was quite flat.  You could see the beautiful ocean in the distance and I was so enjoying the race.  In here I ran two miles both in the 7:45 range.  It was also already getting warm and by mile 9 the shirt was off! Hahahaha!

Then, in the middle of mile 9 the first big climb started.  It was the beginning of Hurricane Point.  This lasts until just after the half way point.  I decided to run this conservatively, keeping my paces slow.  It was hard!  And and I was feeling it.  Around the 11 mile mark my stomach started feeling sick.  I had taken in two Gu's by this point and quite a bit of fluids.  But for some reason my stomach was not happy.  I decided to just turn up my tunes and try to keep plugging away.  Another really rough part of this course is that it is all along the highway.  And you are running on the banked turns.  This means that, a LOT OF THE TIME the road is at an angle.  It really tears your ankles and calves up and is mean to your knees.  So not only are you climbing but you are dealing with the banked road.  I would try to find level ground on either side of the road but most times it just didn't help and you end up using more energy bouncing from one side to the other.

By the end of hurricane point, or as the sign read at the top, "huri-pain point" my stomach was mad!  I through up everything I had in me - my breakfast and my Gu's!  Oh God was all I could think!  Right away I felt a ton better but I knew that would not last long.  It was warm, I had lost all my nutrition and I had half a marathon left.  At the next aid station I drank two cups of water and kept running.  By now my pace had slipped in even the flat parts to the 9:00 mi pace.  But that was okay with me.  Even though I wanted a sub 4, I also had to remind myself that I had just run Boston, that I just got over the flu, and I was on a really difficult course.  I just kept plugging away, attempting to get up the hills and take in the beautiful scenery.  All around me the runners were complaining of the awful road conditions.  The road at an angle was really hard.  I don't think anyone, including me, thought this would be a factor. 

My stomach was starting to act up again around mile 16, but I thought maybe a Gu would help.  So I attempted to swallow one down and that was not happening!  I spit it out and just tried to get the water down.  Oh, did I mention that it was LEMON LIME GATORADE on the damn course!!!  Ugh!  I had hoped never to taste that shit again!  And I didn't! Ha!  So water it was and I kept plugging away.  By mile 17.5 my legs stared to cramp.  My glute which was giving me trouble since Boston was hurting so I decided to sit down and try to stretch out which had really helped in Boston.  After the stretch I stood up probably a little too fast and puked again!  Aaaaa!  This time I was near an aid station I think and the medic lady came over.  I told her I was fine but she really wanted me to come over.  I told her I just needed some water and I would be fine.  Really, I felt okay after I puked, but the stopping was making my legs angry.  So I chugged a cup of water and kept going.  I stopped looking at my watch as I saw a sub 4 melt away.  And I was fine with that!  It was so pretty out there!  The waves crashing, the sun shinning, it was a perfect day for running on one of the most beautiful courses in the world and I was still enjoying it all!

Around the 20 mile mark I ran in to Sarah Bowen Shea who was attempting to BQ with a 4 hour marathon.  She was looking tired but strong when I met her.  We chatted for a second and off I went.  I was feeling so so, my butt was hurting but I wanted to keep going.  At the mile 23 mark, I sat down again to stretch.  It was hot and I was done.  It was only 3 miles left but I still had the big hill at mile 25.  My legs felt a ton better but again, when I stood up, I threw up again!  I was really done at this point.  I sat there for a few and gathered myself.  I couldn't believe I was having this happen.  But I really tried to stay positive.  I wanted to finish.  I started running again but super slow.  The hills were still rolling but it was still really pretty out.  I was hot and dehydrated, I had cotton mouth!  At the next aid station I stopped and drank two cups of water and then saw Sarah pass me.  She looked good and was on track for the four hour goal.  I cheered her on, she waved and I watched her cruise by.  I was back to running again and soaking it all up.  Everyone around me looked spent.

There was a guy I kept playing leap frog with.  He was wearing a bright yellow shirt and every time we would pass one another we would high five and encourage one another.  That was fun, it felt good to have some comrade out there.  By mile 25 and the big hill my legs were done!  I was out of energy.  I started to walk the hill.  I wanted to cry but I didn't.  I was walking through beautiful trees and views and I was enjoying myself.  The yellow shirt guy passed me and tried to get me running but I told him to keep going.  I made it up the hill and attempted to start running.  My legs cramped!  They cramped bad!  And at mile 25.7 I saw Ari and decided to walk.  I was hurting so bad at this point.  It was awful, so close to the finish.  Ari gave me some water and attempted to encourage me.  I was in sooo much pain!  It was Boston all over again!  That last half mile took me almost 15 mins.  I had to keep stopping to stretch and collect myself. 

Ari got this shot of me walking!

Finally at the 26 mile mark, Ari told me to run and I did.  I didn't want to walk into the finish!  So I picked myself up and ran in.  I crossed the line in 4:20 and change and right away when I stopped my legs cramped up so bad I collapsed!  A cute marine and a medic picked me up and took me to the medic tent.  They were so nice to me!  They let me stop and get my medal first :)  In the tent I got some Advil and a massage and lots of water.  It felt so good to stop running!  Then they sent me to the ice swimming pool where I dipped my feet and calves.  Oh so good!  I also ate a banana right away and with in about 10 mins my legs were fine!  I think I was so depleted of potassium and electrolytes that I had really done a number on myself. 

I was finally able to walk okay and we headed over to the B2B tent where I got my other medal and jacket :) 

I was really proud of myself.  I didn't have the race I wanted but I enjoyed it none the less.  Even when I was puking my guts out on the side of Highway 1, I was realizing that I was accomplishing something most people only dream of.  I really need to figure out my nutrition.  I think I am done with Gu's.  I know I don't do well in the heat, and they may have contributed, but I can't let it stop me all summer.  This race is one to put on your list.  It is so well organized, so beautiful and so worth it!  As you can see, I still had a smile on my face.

Two medals.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to run this race.  I was cursing the difficult course out there the whole time, but it was worth it.  The beauty and the sense of accomplishment is so worth it.  I learned a lot about myself in the last six days.  I learned that I really am a strong runner.  That when I put my head down and focus on the task ahead of me, the possibilities are endless.  I know that next year I will be back!  I will take on the B2B challenge again!  I want my redemption!  I could look at my 4:20 time and even my 4:30 time and really get down on myself since I know I am a stronger and better runner than that.  But you know what?  I did it with less than I ideal conditions.  I ran 2 marathons in 6 days, one while recovering from the flu and the other on a hard course.  I saw two beautiful parts of the country, I ran two beautiful courses some only dream about.  I know I have talked a lot about soaking it all up and I did again on Sunday!  I can remember every mile, and even though I felt like poo for the second half, I enjoyed it!  I love to run, I think that is what I learned this week.

My plans are already in the works.  I have the Relay this weekend which I am SUPER EXCITED about!  And, I am switching to the SF full Marathon in July.  The next two months are going to be filled with more hill training, more core training and more speed work.  I know what I need to do and I can't wait!  I will say though, I am so done with the 26.2 mile distance for a while!  I know by July I will be itching again, but for now I am happy and proud and will bask in the glow of a hard 6 days :)
My two medals :) I also got a really NICE jacket that I forgot to take a pic of!  I will tonight and post it soon!

Thank you to all of you for your on going support and encouragement.  I really appreciate it.  I hope that I have inspired some of you to tackle something you never thought possible.  I may not have ran my fastest marathons, but I definitely ran the marathon's of my life.  I enjoyed every second of it, and I hope that is what you take from this.  Running can be easy at times and we take it for granted.  But it isn't always flowers and sunshine.  The marathon distance is long and hard and I always attempt to enjoy every second of it, even when it doesn't turn out the way you planned or hoped for :)

Thanks again for reading, I'm back to work today and now off to try to catch up with all of you!!
Happy Running peeps!


Staci Dombroski said...

Sorry to hear it did not go as planned. I am happy to hear that you enjoyed it though!!! I hope you have a great day ;)

Katie said...

You are one tough cookie!!!! It's awesome that you can put such a positive spin on a tough race. And yuk about the puking - I don't know if I could go on after that!!

shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama said...

Such a great accomplishment! When you are a runner there a lots of things that you do that make others question why we do it, peeing at unconvential places, bandaging blisters only to put running shoes on over them, getting up in the wee hours (or going out in the middle of the night), puking and then running some more. That all may sound odd to some people but not us runners. It's all part of the experince. I am so glad that you pushed yourself and were amazed at what you could accomplish!

Great great job!

Teamarcia said...

Be very proud, Katie of an awesome accomplishment! I love your upbeat attitude about the whole thing. Way to stick it out and get er done!

Christy said...

Katie, this post is SUCH an inspiration! I'm SO glad I got to meet you in Boston and can't wait to read more about your running and hopefully run with you sometime!

Hope you're feeling better after Big Sur!

XOXO Christy

aron said...

you did great out there katie!! yikes i just cant imagine pushing through TWO races where your body is not happy, you should definitely be proud of yourself! it was so fun to spend some time with you and run the beginning of the race together! congrats again on the b2b - next year its 13 days between so extra recovery :)

teacherwoman said...

Congrats on completing two marathons in one week! You're a rockstar!


You are amazing! Sorry it didn't go exactly to plan but be proud! You constantly inspire me to go longer and harder!

LPT said...

Katie, I am sooo proud of you! You have proven that even if the going gets tough (or in this case, you were a Pukey McGee), you can plow through and finish! AND not only that, this was an extremely difficult marathon and you did TWO in back-to-back weekends! Yowza! You're definitely an inspiration to me, and I'm glad that I met you in Boston... can't wait to hear about your relay, mine is this weekend, too!!!

Jamoosh said...

Fantastic job! Of course, since you beat my seven days, I'll have to go run two marathons in five days... Just kidding. Glad you felt it was worth it!

L.B. said...

You are an effing superstar!! Saying you are a strong runner is like saying it gets a little warm here in SoCal during the summer.

You're a total inspiration, Katie. I'd be happy with being half the runner you are.

By the way, we'll be running the same marathon on July 25. I said "eff it" and signed up for San Fran. I would say we could run part of it together but I'm too slow to keep up with you :)

Sarah said...

WOW you are a freaking animal woman! I am so proud of you finishing two hard marathons in one week, you are my running idol! LOVE YOU :)

PS WOOHOO San Francisco!! I can't wait!!

RunKathyRun said...

Unbelievable accomplishment, with a little blood, sweat and tears mixed in - you are amazing.

Angela and David Kidd said...

You are a rockstar! Each of those races alone is incredibly tough and you did them both following the flu. Next year you should be able to blow your times out of the water.

And you eat Indian food the night before? Damn, you must have a stomach of steal. That would have me puking or crapping my pants in the first mile.

Jo Lynn said...

Wow! That is so awesome that you completed those two races in six days. Very respectable times as well (for us mortals).
I remember when I threw up at an ultra-marathon last June. It's a horrible feeling to do that on the side of a course.
You look great in the hotel room with the medals around your neck.
Good luck with the Relay - that should be lots of fun. ;)

MCM Mama said...

I'm sorry it didn't go as planned for you, but way to stick it out. Your time was still better than I expect mine to be when I run in a few weeks!

Glad you still had fun!

RoadBunner said...

It was great to meet you!!

Sorry to hear that the race didn't go as well as you had planned. But you know, I think you did SO awesome for having done Boston and being sick and Big Sur being such a tough course.

I will be there next year to see you do the Boston 2 Big Sur again! I will probably also hit you up for more Fresno info later on. Are you planning on doing the race again?

p.s. Email me at roadbunner at gmail so I can invite you to see the photo album of the pre-race and race photos I took.

Denise said...

I think i have a new hero.

boston to big sur is now on my list!

Marathonman101108 said...

2 tortuous marathons in 6 days?! You are to be congratulated, especially since you were still battling the after-affects of the flu. Sorry I missed seeing you in Boston, but if you decide to run it in 2011, I'll see you then. Nice swag by the way.

Sunflower Kisses said...

You inspire.

Heather said...

Congratulations on a huge week of running - you are amazing!

Tara said...

I seriously cannot believe you ran two marathons in 6 days. Girl you are awesome! Congrats on both races, you are an inspiration to me on my first marathon.

BTW-Sorry you are back to work. Bummer. Blah!

Ewa said...

2nd marathon in a week after being sick, difficult course, stomach issues and you are complaining about your 4:20? Girl, you are AMAZING! Pat yourself on the back and feel great. Gosh, this marathon is famous for testing people if not with the hills, then wind, unpredictable weather and always that nasty camber in the road.
Now that you know how tough you are, and boy, you are tough, you know you can handle anything.
Congratulations and pat yourself on the back from me.
Oh, couldn't those medics give you some kind of excuse from work? :)

Anonymous said...

Great job pushing through two back to back races!!! I love playing Leap Frog with runners!

Bethany + Ryan said...

WOW. you are tough as nails! way to stick it out! congratulations on completing both marathons! i dont think i could do that! thats amazing and crazy all in one. it was h ard to read your race recap bc i felt so bad for you! how many ppl did both? did u get a special bib number or anyhting to make u stand out? great job. i bet you are glad its all over! whats next? get some rest!

Jess said...

Congrats on such a great finish despite all the obstacles! I can't imagine resuming running after throwing up. I threw up everything at the Chicago Marathon in 2007, and I was done!

Steel Springs said...

Wow! Congratulations and great job on two marathons back to back! I'm sorry that you had to deal with the flu and everything, but you really hung in there and have a great attitude about it. It's very inspiring!

Fattie Fatterton said...

Reading this was awesome. So inspirational!!

Thank you for sharing this!