Correction- we were running. Yes, this past weekend my two friends and I ran the Big Sur Marathon in Monterey, CA, and my other two friends ran the 10.6-miler. We’re awesome! Why on earth would anyone do such a thing? Well, I have a few reasons. Some of them are similar to my blog friend Kasey‘s.

  • I can
  • Someday I probably won’t be able to
  • Bragging rights
  • I wanted to see if I could do it
  • I sit at a desk all day
  • I needed a goal
  • I wanted to get a six-pack and run the race in a hott midriff-baring outfit. Heh heh (hint: that didn’t happen).
  • Some more reasons I can’t think of right now

So after some 468 miles of training (or something like that), we finally boarded a plane to Oakland, did some sight-seeing in San Fran, and made the last 26.2 miles happen! Side note- it may not be a good idea to walk around all day for two days in a row right before you run a marathon. Live and learn.

We picked up our bibs on Saturday

And that night, we prepared by taking some Tylenol PM to try and force ourselves asleep at 9pm. Nervous laughter and giggles filled our hotel room until the grumpiest one at the moment (love you Carrie!) complained until we all shut up. I labeled my banana so no one would eat it.

3am was merciless as all three of our alarms went off. We got dressed and trudged to the bus stop. An hour’s bus ride later, we were enjoying life (not!) downing bagels, Clif bars, and warm beverages at the starting line.

Carrie, Kristin, please don’t kill me. 🙂

We waited for the potties

Stretched a bit

And were off!

I felt really good during the first few miles. They were pleasantly downhill and through gorgeous redwoods, and the sun was just warming things up. I remembered the advice I had been given to take it easy at first, even though I really wanted to push it.

The woods opened up around mile 5, and we were suddenly running next to cow fields and the ocean. By this point I had sweated off pretty much all of my sunscreen, and I decided that I probably looked beautiful so I should take a picture of myself.

Here’s one of the first hills. We ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

The mile markers were fun. Some of them were funny, and some of them really teed me off (like the 20-mile with a picture of a guy running into a brick wall). Each mile marker had two people: one to tell you how long you’d been running, and the other to tell you your pace and projected finish time.

Here’s Pinocchio telling us that it’s all downhill from here! Notice his nose growing…

In reality, we were coming up on this beast!

Okay to be fair, I took all these pictures while in the act of running, so I think the camera was slightly tilted for that one, making the hill seem a little exaggerated. But what matters is that this stretch, mile 10-12, averaged a 6.6% incline. So yeah.

Fortunately these awesome peeps were drumming up a storm at the bottom of Hurricane Hill, and they got me really amped.

Unfortunately, I had been developing a blister right in my left arch for a couple of miles now, and I was procrastinating stopping for a band-aid. Visions of a sopping bloody sock and bloody footprints started filling my brain. At the top of the hill, some official race marshals rode by on their bikes. When they stopped, I decided it was time to approach them and ask for help.

“Do you guys have any mole skin?” My voice surprised me by cracking. Before I knew it, I was well on my way to crying. No! I can’t cry yet! They sympathetically told me no, but there was a first aid station coming up. I stopped to walk because trying to suppress crying while you’re running is exhausting, and my throat was starting to turn on me and close up. Once I pulled myself together, I took off again and bolted down the hill. I saw the welcoming view of a red shirt with a white cross on it, and the kind lady directed me to a chair. Then a kind man cut a nice big piece of mole skin for me, and I took off my shoe and sock. No bloody sock greeted me, and I laughed. What a boob I am sometimes.

It’s still a good thing I stopped, as there really was a pretty good-sized blister growing.

Onward!

The blister hurt just as much as before, but with no more visions of bloody footprints trailing behind me, I was able to block it out and just keep running on it.

Almost to Bixby Bridge, which is halfway!

I was leaning over Bixby Bridge puking when I took this picture.

Just kidding.

Isn’t it nice of a concert pianist to dress up in a tux on this warm sunny day and come play for us? I thought so.

Let’s talk about goals for a sec. Did I have one? Not really. I ran last year’s half marathon in about 1:59, but I knew better than to expect to just be able to double the time. A marathon requires more than a half. It requires eating. Real food, not just Clif shot blocks and other weird athlete food. It requires walking a bit, especially at aid stations. It requires at least one potty break. Plus, it’s just freakin’ long.

Also, not to make excuses for myself, but I simply did not train as hard for the marathon as I had for the half. I also gained a bunch of weight because “I was training for a marathon and could therefore eat whatever I wanted”. Bad logic, by the way. So I was thinking 4:30 would be fantastic, but probably not really attainable.

There were these fantastic people running the marathon who were serving as pacers. If you followed the 5:30 guy, you’d finish in 5 hours and 30 minutes. There was also a 5:00 guy, a 4:30 guy, and a 4:00 guy. Each one of them was holding a bunch of red and white balloons. I had passed the 5:30 guy a while back, and each mile marker announcer after that was telling me my projected finishing times of 5:16… 5:14… 5:14…

I didn’t really have expectations of catching up to the- wait, what is that?!?!?

Could it be? Is it he??

Baaaa!!! It’s the 5 hour guy! Have I ever been this happy? I could have leapt for joy, and I would have had I not contained myself. I did, however, make friends with people around me and excitedly proclaim how happy I was that I had passed the 5-hour guy.

I even made friends with this barefoot guy:

“Just stay ahead of the 5-hour guy” I told myself, “and you’ll have a 4 in front of your finishing time.”

That was my new goal. Is mile 15 too late to come up with a goal for your marathon? What did I care?

The hills didn’t stop after the dreaded Hurricane Hill. The second half of the race had many more rolling hills, like this one.

As I said before, the 20-mile marker kind of made me mad. I had almost forgotten about the “wall”, when this jerk had to remind me of it.

Half of the game is 90% mental or whatever, so this is the point at which I started to enjoy it less. Yes, let’s say that: enjoy it less. That’s why I don’t really have any pictures of the next 5 miles. It was one foot in front of the other, stare at my shadow, pick a person nearby and keep up with them… any tactic I could think of to keep myself going.

And remember my under 5 hour goal? Even though I had passed the 5-hour guy, the mile marker announcers were still telling me 5:02… 5:04… 5:02… 5:04…

I knew I had left a minute or two after the gun, so I could take a minute or two off those times, but I was cutting it too close.

Mile 23 gave  me strawberries from a local farm. I grabbed a handful and shoved them in my mouth as I ran by. I had also been shoving orange slices in my face at the aid stations, and eating shot blocks, and a granola bar. There was a sign shortly after mile 23 that said “Only 3 miles to go!” That might not sound like much compared to the 23 you’ve already run, but believe me, those 3 miles sound like a marathon in and of themselves. (Please pardon my melodrama.)

Somehow, I came upon mile 25. The end is near! But before you get there, you have to go up another huge hill. Thanks a lot.

Hallelujah, mile 26!

But I still have .2 to go, and I don’t see the finish line yet… where are my friends… I want to walk so bad but I can’t cross the finish line walking… I can’t let JP and Wendy see me walking… where is the finish line??

Around the corner, and there it was.

I crossed at 5:00:14. No 4 😦

Just kidding! Since I had actually left a whopping 5 minutes after the gun, my official time was 4:55:01! Half-assed goal accomplished! I hobbled through the food tent practicing my heaviest breathing and pseudo-crying, gathering up cookies and juice and fruit.

Here are my awesome friends and I with our cool medals.

Sigh… what a day.

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