There is an up and down to training for larger races. I was advised by Manager John ( http://www.gagthemanager.libsyn.com/ ) to “Do my hill training” for this event. He ran the Big Sur Marathon earlier in the year. I took his words to task, but not enough.

The training was fairly typical for a half-marathon. I worked my way through a training schedule developed by Hal Higdon ( http://www.halhigdon.com/training/51312/Half-Marathon-Novice-2-Training-Program ). The miles under my feet began to increase about half way through as I usually run 18 to 20 miles a week. I picked hilly routes around my house which just happens to be at the top of a hill. It wasn’t enough hill training.

I had been watching the weather for at least a week beforehand. It wasn’t looking good. Rain was predicted and expected. On the morning of the race, I got out of be and looked outside. It was raining, misting actually. I wasn’t looking forward to running in the rain. The next time I looked out, the rain had stopped. Now that was a good thing!

As a group, we met at the San Jose airport. I flew in with Tom Martin, a friend from Denver; and we met Don, Nancy, Julia and Mitch there. Don is Tom’s brother. Our group run races together. We rented a minivan. We piled in and headed for the Monterey area.

Monterey, California is a great place to visit. A scenic city with seashore, a bay, a marina, a fisherman’s wharf, and all sorts of restaurants and hotels. After we attended and participated in the excitement of the Expo, we took in the sights of the fisherman’s wharf area. They were preparing the start and finish lines, as well as setting up some of the after race venues. We also explored, including a photowalk with Mitch, the marina and Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf.

The smells, the tastes, the restaurants, the shops, the colors, the people all made for a great time. There were seals in the harbor and sea lions in residence in the marina. We had talked about dinner on Fisherman’s Wharf, but decided to head for our hotel in Marina, CA. The hotel was the Best Western Beach Dunes. If you get a chance, stay there. Close to the beach, comfortable and amiable. They even opened early so we could get some food before the race, and let us stay later than the check out time so we could shower afterward.

Nancy was kind enough to drive us to a shuttle parking lot. We stayed warm in the car as long as we could. We did need to board a bus and head to the start line. We did. The weather continued to improve. It was a cool morning, but we were ready for fair weather. All of us stayed in this old man’s corral so we could start the race together. Time for our start got closer and closer. The corral made the start line and the gun went off! We were on the run for the tenth annual presentation of the Big Sur Half-Marathon!

The Start Line

I’ve always thought that the coast line would be fast and flat. Not this course. We would run up, then run down, run up and then run down. No one rise was overly large but as a combined total, there were quite a few.

If you want to run a scenic event, then this one is one for you to experience. There were waves breaking against the shore. There were birds of all kinds on the land and over the ocean. We noticed harbor seals lounging in the sand along the shore.

We ran through Cannery Row made famous by John Steinbeck. We ran by Lover’s Point Park. We ran by the famous light house in Pacific Grove. We ran by Esplanade Park in Ocean View. We ran by many, many, sights and scenes. We ran quite a bit of Ocean View Boulevard. Amazing!

At 7 1/2 miles along, Don, Tom and Julia passed me. Of course, they passed me in the lane returning from the turn around point that I was still on my way to. I figured at that point they were two miles ahead of me. They only increased that distance.

I made the turn around point still feeling good. I felt really good, when I passed the 2:45 pace group still headed toward the turn around point. The race did start to wear on me, though. The way back had us running on the Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail. Very beautiful.

I was disappointed when I turned the corner and approached the 11 mile mark. There was supposed to be a water station there. There wasn’t! At the cost of this ‘presentation,’ they should move heaven and earth to make sure the runners, also known as participants, are hydrated and in good condition. Closing a water station prior to the end of the race should not happen!

I have to admit that I really tried to run the entire race. I didn’t though.  By mile 11, some of those rises were such that my hamstrings and quads were starting to bark like junkyard dogs! Walking was necessary. I tried to run, but this course defeated me for parts of it.

I did get a little frustrated when that same 2:45 pace group passed me in the 12th mile.

Eventually, I saw masts of ships in the marina. I was going to finish this thing! From mile 11 on, there were spectators all along the course. They were encouraging us on.  I’m not sure if people understand how much spectator participation encourages runners. These people were great!

Soon, I turned a corner and saw the chute. The chute is a marked off area that channels the runners toward the finish line. I saw them setting it up the day before, so I knew how long it was. Just before I crossed the finish line, I heard my name announced. I was there!

I slowed down, and took in the sights of the finish area. First thing I looked for was that distinct piece of ceramic that I earned. Yes! That finisher’s medal!

The Ceramic

A young lady handed me my medal. I asked her if I could get a hug. She told me yes! So far, I have received a hug from every person that has handed me a finisher’s medal.

This was my thirteenth 13.1 mile race. It is one that I will remember, but I may not run this one again!

Julia did great on this run. She placed 2nd  in her age group!

After? We went back to the hotel, got cleaned up, then came back for a delicious dinner at Cannery Row!