|Boys and Husband at the Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.|
|Watch out, Big Sur, we've got our duck face on and we're coming for you!|
|Don't we look happy? We were warm and the race hadn't started yet.|
|Still warm. Still happy.|
|There's a lighthouse on that island behind me. You can hardly see the demarcation between the horizon and the sky because it was so gray and misty.|
|We had so much time, he said, "Let's take a picture!" The view behind us doesn't look as impressive as it should, this was the highest elevation in the race.|
|Gorgeous Big Sur behind us as we cross the Bixby Bridge. We could still muster up smiles for the photographer at this point, because we'd just gotten to run downhill for a mile.|
We crossed the bridge and went up again for a bit, and I was feeling great at this point. "I don't want to get cocky," I said, "but I feel great!" "Don't get cocky," The Husband told me, "we've got a half marathon to go." And he was right. I'm amazed how fast I went from feeling great to feeling like it was a slog. From the beginning I knew that the second half of the race was going to be the wildcard, because I felt like Hurricane Point so dominated the first half and had no good idea what to expect in the second half. I knew it was "rolling hills," but I was unsure what exactly that was going to mean when we were tired. Still, the weather was great, the scenery was beautiful, and my hip didn't hurt *that* bad. My knee, which had bothered me while I was training, still felt ok, my feet felt ok, and we were still well under pace. We were still solidly in healthy PR territory.
In talking about the race afterwards, mile 21 is where things really started to go south. The sun came out, the scenery got a lot less interesting as we began to turn a bit more inland (and there was more vehicle traffic on the course, which was annoying), and we started going up. And up. And up. "Rolling hills" implies that you go up, you go down. This was more like you go up, then you go down slightly, then up some more. It was hell. My mental game collapsed on me, I could see the hills and just thought, "I can't do this." My hip was hurting and I couldn't get a good stretch (though I did stop and try at one point). I'd walk for a bit and The Husband would jog ahead, always making sure I could catch up. We had thought "well, only 5 more miles," but it became clear that those 5 miles were going to really be the marathon. It had been ridiculously doable to that point. The exhaustion, the heat, and the seemingly endless up hill was just too much. Around mile 23 I started to pull ahead of The Husband, who was really hurting. He'd been going slower and slower up the hills. Around mile 24 he gave me the Garmin (his had died and he'd been using mine to pace us) and told me to go on ahead, I could still come in around our goal. I shouted profanities at him and refused it, but took it about a half mile later. I didn't see him again until after I crossed the finish line.
|Yup, there was walking.|
I was close to the end, so people were walking the course and shouting encouragement. "There's one more small hill, then it's all downhill!" someone called. "I don't believe you!" I yelled back. When I saw the "small hill" my heart sank. It might as well have been Mt Everest, it looked steep and long and hellacious. I had been jogging, but I started to walk. And I wasn't alone. It was like the walking wounded all around me, and we were not happy about it. Everyone grumbled about the course, couples shouted encouragement to one another and cursed each other, and we walked. At the top, someone shouted that it was "all downhill from here." "Lies!" I yelled. "Lying liars and the lies they tell!" A woman near me laughed and agreed, but we started to trot nonetheless. With a mile to go, someone asked me what time I had and I realized that I might, amazingly, still be able to PR this race. Thank god for my under-performance in previous races. I took one more brief walk break when it just was too hot (I ran out of water in mile 24), and then ran to the finish. I could see the flags at the finish line and saw that I still could do it, I hadn't lost all my time yet, and I sprinted to the finish line.
|Personifying the idea of "run ugly" as I sprinted to the finish.|
I raced my own clock to the finish line and finished in 4:50:45, taking over a minute off my previous best time. Doesn't sound like much, and I'd hoped for more, but given how much more challenging this course was than my previous PR (which was Pittsburgh in 2011, and Big Sur makes it look pancake flat), I'm extremely proud of myself. The Husband crossed a few minutes behind me, crying from the pain in his quads. We staggered into the Runner's World Challenge tent and sat glassy eyed and ill for quite a while, until we mustered up the strength to find the shuttles back into Monterey. It looked like Day of the Dead back in Monterey, runners shuffled around town trying to find their hotels. The locals laughed at us. We made a stop at a restaurant called Rosine's, which seems to be famous for having slices of cake the size of your head (seriously, I love my cake, but it took me 4 days to finish that piece of cake!) and then just had time to rest and eat before we had to head back to Mountain View to relieve my mom. "Never again," we both said. However, that quickly turned to talking strategy for next year, so who knows. It was an amazing experience. I'm not entirely sure what we could have done differently to not have had such a hard time in those last 5 miles. We could have taken it easier going up to Hurricane Point (or I could have, anyway, The Husband kept fine time), but we ended up needing that time, so I'm not sure. I do know I didn't fuel enough, as has been a problem of mine, and there's no excuse for it since we had plenty of time to eat. More hill work might have helped, too, but I think it was just a matter of needing to work on my mental game and getting better at just pushing through when it really sucks. I would have loved to have come in under 4:50, but now I just have a goal for the next time. And I still get bragging rights to say I PR'ed on the most insane course I've ever run.
|This is what a PR looks like! Sweaty and exhausted and happy as hell.|