Pushing my comfort zone…

My daily inspiration.....given to me by Amy!

My daily inspiration…..given to me by my sister Amy.

I just completed week 5 of my ultra training and am I am feeling very accomplished. I am more determined than ever to nail this race.

My snow/ice trek to get in my CrossFit home WOD with Kathryn.

My snow/ice trek to get in my CrossFit home WOD  work out in with buddy  Kathryn.

I have nailed every workout on my training plan and am committed! I have never nailed every work out on any previous training effort. Why is this different? I am not really sure other than the fact I don’t like to fail. My first ultra attempt was a FAIL! I am stubborn, hardheaded, and I don’t like to fail.  While nobody has ever question my ability, for me… the successful completion of this ultra is 100% personal. I have a score to settle with myself.

This weekend I exceeded my personal distance record by running 31 miles. Prior to Saturday, my longest run was 28 miles ( my 1st ultra attempt). In prep for Saturday’s training run I was mentally, physically, and logistically prepared.  I knew I could conquer the distance.

My recruiting map.  I love planning routes..my running buddies think I am crazy

My recruiting map. I love planning routes..my running buddies think I am crazy

I rallied my non injured running peeps and they eagerly signed up to join me along my route! It was amazing it made the miles go by so quickly. I honestly could not have gotten through this without the company.  I only ran 3.5 miles alone( 15.5-19)! . Thanks BRF’s!

Our first stop mile 6 to pick up Kate!

Our first stop mile 6 to pick up Kate! Super shout out to Lizzy and Syd ( on ends) College Sophomores training for their first marathon, started with me at 6.45am for their 18 mile run! Impressive…I never did that in college.

I felt good the entire run. Don’t get my wrong… around mile 20 I was certainly tired and my hamstrings were screaming at me but I listened to my body and threw in some longer walking sessions. I know I will have to walk much more on race day.

Kayla joined me at mile 19-31! She chatted me up the entire way! Thanks Kayla

Kayla joined me at mile 19-31! She chatted me up the entire way! Thanks Kayla

My fueling, every 45 minutes, was right on! Thanks Byron Powell, author of Relentless Forward Progress for the awesome tips.  Byron’s book has equipped me with so much knowledge and confidence.  Back to fueling…while at times my fueling alarm seemed too often, I made my self eat, take my salt stick tabs, and flush it down with my strawberry lemonade Nuun. I also tested out my homemade protein balls which were super yummy. They will be a new race day staple.  My consistent fueling and hydration effort paid off.

As Kayla and I ran the final .25 up the HILL to my house,  Kayla was determined to conquer the  the hill as it defeated her several weeks prior. I joined her pursuit and powered to the  finish.   I was pretty darn excited to be almost done.

Finish Line Posse!

Finish Line Posse!

As we crested the hill, I spotted a car in front of my house. Out popped out Kate ( who ran 7 miles with me) and Kathryn ( who trashed her knee on the trail run the week prior) they were there to greet me and congratulate me on my 31 mile accomplishment!

I was blown away! The support and encouragement from my friends through out the day moved me to tears. Tears of joy and tears of celebration!  They presented me with a homemade personalized medal! #SUPERBLING  I will cherish it forever! It is happily displayed on my medal rack. It is my #1 all time favorite!

 

imageSo here is to a great week of training and most of all great friends! Friends make seemingly impossible task doable!

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Inaugural SNOW RUN!

Snow is an EVENT in the south.  It happens so infrequently, we southerners just get excited! Its rather comical. But hey its all in fun! We are like a bunch of kids…have you met a kid yet that did not like snow?

Our precious foster boy Emmett enjoying his first snow!

Our precious foster boy Emmett enjoying his first snow!

Headed out for SNOW run!

Headed out for SNOW run!

I was super excited to have my first ever snow run today with my buddy Kate from the “MITTEN” ( Michigan transplant) .No fancy Yaktrax just our good ole running shoes.  I did opt for my Brooks Adrenaline trail shoes  which kept my feet nice and dry.Thanks TheRUNNERBOX for my awesome neck gator.  It kept me warm and was an awesome tissue for my runny nose!

The run was a success as neither of us busted our a$$ on the ice patches.  We had some great laughs, got in a great workout ( #1 of the day…..we hit the afternoon Crossfit class).  We had a Blast!

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Excited for more snow miles tomorrow!

Finish & Enjoy…Big Sur Marathon Plan

8th State, 13th Marathon, and my #1 all time favorite!

Big Sur International Marathon, April 28, 2013!

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Wow, is all I can say.  Everything about the Big Sur Marathon weekend exceeded my expectations.  Big Sur, is sitting pretty in my number #1 best overall marathon in every category.  I have often pondered keeping a running ranking of my marathon adventures and this just might inspire me to do that.

For anyone who asked about my experience I explained that Big Sur is the only marathon I have ever run that I enjoyed almost every single mile. If it weren’t for the uphill on mile 25, I would say I enjoyed EVERY mile. The pain of mile 25 was brief, just generally not appreciated so late in the race.

2, 765 miles!

2, 765 miles!

So what made the Big Sur miles so much more enjoyable than the previous 316.4? (12 x 26.2 + extra two miles on my ultra attempt) .  I am not exactly sure, but I will attribute it to  having just one single goal – Finish & Enjoy!

MY BIG SUR MARATHON PLAN! 

( taken directly from pre-race communication)

This is a difficult course and you should plan on adding extra minutes to your usual marathon time. Walk if necessary, Enjoy the spectacular music and scenery along the course and don’t worry about your time!

 I took the pre-race communications to heart and put them to action. The last thing I wanted to do was travel 2,765 miles and beat myself up over a missed PR. A mere 13 days after the attacks on Boston, just being able to run, in honor of those who cannot was a gift in itself.  

Despite Big Sur being my all time favorite marathon, I have struggled to feel inspired to put it into words.  (Hence,the delay of the race recap).  So I thought I would let my pictures tell the story

View from terrace

View from terrace

Lodging– Hotel Pacific, located right next to the expo, and block away from marathon transportation was fabulous.  Our room was huge and full of amenities.  It included a sitting area with gas fireplace, small dinning area with fridge, bathroom perfect for sharing with two showers etc  We loved it and felt like we were in a honeymoon suite.

http://www.hotelpacific.com/

courtyard view from room

Pre Marathon Relaxation

Pre Marathon Relaxation, while listening to Big Sur “Grand Piano Man” Michael Martinez

Our Bibs! Way to go Laura on Boston 2 Big Sur!

Our Bibs! Way to go Laura on Boston 2 Big Sur!

Race Expo- Monterey Conference Center. Was easy to navigate, staffed with super friendly volunteers, and hosted lots of great vendors.  We typically breeze through the expos(you’ve seen one you have seen them all) but this one we took our time to enjoy! My highlight was officially meeting Runners World, Chief Running Officer, Bart Yasso! I was giddy with excitement and was able to contain myself! The previous November, Bart gave me a “fist bump” during the Richmond, VA Marathon when I spotted him on the sidelines.  I am a huge fan!  His book My Life On The Run, is a great running read.

Bart Man!

Me and Bart Man!

Expo continued…the support for Boston was everywhere!

Runners signed banners in support of Boston and were able to contribute to The One Fund

Runners signed banners in support of Boston and were able to contribute to The One Fund

We met Michael Martinez, Big Sur “Grand Piano Man” who famously sits at mile 13.1 and plays his  Grand Piano. We purchased his CD.

Laura and i with David

Laura and I with Michael

No pictures of the expo massages but they were awesome and well worth $1 a minute!

Our weekend wheels! Fiat

Our weekend wheels! Fiat

Saturdays Highway 1 adventures – We drove through Monterrey Cannery Row. Although fabulous, and the best aquarium I have ever seen, we skipped visiting the  Monterrey Bay Aquarium in an effort to stay off our feet. Instead, we drove the 17-mile drive,  lunched in Carmel-by-the-Sea, and then headed down Highway 1 to Big Sur.

The Lone Cypress, one of the sights on the 17 mile drive

Lone Cypress- Americas most photographed Tree

Lone Cypress- Americas most photographed Tree

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Lunch at Hogs Breath Inn!

Total tourist shot after lunch at Hogs Breath Inn. Thanks Uncle Zeke for recommendation...your hat is on its way!

Total tourist shot after lunch at Hogs Breath Inn. Thanks Uncle Zeke for recommendation…your hat is on its way!

Laura at Big Sur Bakery...too full to partake

Laura at Big Sur Bakery…too full to partake

ahhh...the view.  Gotta love Big Sur

ahhh…the view. Gotta love Big Sur

Bixby Bridge mile 13.1

Bixby Bridge mile 13.1

amazing coastal  views....

amazing coastal views….

starting line coffee

starting line coffee

Marathon Day- Early start as we loaded the buses to Big Sur at 4:15am.  Luckily, we only had to walk a block from our hotel. Its an early start, but its a major effort on the event organizers to transport runners 26.2 miles down two laned Highway 1.  In addition to the marathon Big Sur offers a Relay, 21, 10.6, 9, and 5k mile option.

1st race I have even participated in that offered water, coffee and food at the start!  Super bonus points for that!

Huddled to stay warm with fellow runners!

Huddled to stay warm with fellow runners!

Starting line

Starting line

Two Thumbs up from Bart Yasso prior to the start!

Pre-start Bart Sighting

Pre-start Bart Sighting

6:45am and we were off and running!  As part of my Finish & Enjoy Marathon Plan, I brought my phone to take pictures along the way.  The official description describes Big Sur Marathon  as a Point to point, moderately difficult, with live entertainment on the course. Featuring rolling hills, Big Sur is the largest rural marathon in the world, winding through redwoods, paralleling ranches, and offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

BigsurElevation

I often stopped to catch a glace of where I had come from.  The view looking back is just as good as the views ahead.  It is 360 degrees of sheer beauty.

Mile 5 9 guess, looking back

Mile 5 (best guess), looking back

Just when I thought we might escape the famous headwinds, the course opened up and so did the wind. It was wicked but manageable.  Even the cows ran for cover….I was not as fortunate

Cows retreating from the winds

Cows retreating from the winds

If the winds were not enough , we soon caught the first glimpses of Hurricane Point (550 foot climb over 2 miles) starting at mile 10. I am proud to say I slayed Hurricane Point by running the entire way.  I was determined not to stop!

1st views of Hurricane Point

1st views of Hurricane Point

Way before you could see the Bixby Bridge, which famously signifies the halfway point on the marathon course, you could hear the the tones  from the Grand Piano.  It was absolutely surreal and uplifting. One of my favorite memories.  As  I approached the Bixby Bridge,  I found myself overcome with emotion and fought back unexpected tears. My best guess is they were tears of shear joy as i was having an awesome run! I attempted a short video that really does it no justice at all

The mile markers, each 7 foot tall, where the BEST, I have ever seen. They ranged from completely stupid, funny, to inspiring.  They had a unique way of telling a story and really personalizing the marathon to the region, local runners,  and area. Take a look for yourself- Big Sur Mile Marker Project.

13.1 Mile Marker

13.1 Mile Marker

attempt at picture with Michael Martinez...this makes me laugh

attempt at picture with Michael Martinez…this makes me laugh

Windy shot taken by a fellow runner.  My skirt looks like I was about to take flight.

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The end was in view, first glimpses of CarmelIMG-20130428-00192

Fresh strawberries at mile 24! Yummy!

Mile 24 treat!

Mile 24 treat!

The description for mile marker 25 says it all, about my only UNenjoyable mile of the entire course.  This “Doomsayer” needs to lighten up! You may be feeling a bit down at this point, but with the finish just over a mile away, the end to your race is just over the next hill. 

Doom uphill Mile!

Doom uphill Mile!

Finally, 26.2! The race Directors and organizers, donned in their BSIM Blue blazers, shook the hands of participants as they cross the finish!  Total class act! This years finish line included  the Boston Marathon Executive Director who personally shook the hands of EVERY Boston 2 Big Sur participant. It was amazing to watch as . Emotions were still very raw and many were moved to tears.

My bonus was a congratulations hug from Bart Yasso! Promise I am a fan and not a stalker!

With Laura, being a Boston 2 Big Sur participant, we enjoyed the awesome finishers tent that overlooked the finish line. I only joined her after I partook in the free 10 minute massage.

We did it!

We did it!

Laura’s Medals

Boston 2 Big Sur Bling

Boston 2 Big Sur Bling

It was amazing! Pleased with my 4:54:47 finish, which included 2 pit stops, and numerous video and  photo ops. It was not my fastest, nor my slowest but was my STRONGEST physical and mental FINISH.  My Finish & Enjoy Marathon Plan carried me through.  My only expectation was to enjoy and take it all in.  I accomplished that an much more!

I do have to credit Raleigh CrossFit, which I included in the last month of my training plan. I feel a new addiction brewing! #RaleighStrong!

Traditional post marathon margarita, overlooking Monterey Bay!

Traditional post marathon margarita, overlooking Monterey Bay!

035One and done in California! Big Sur International  Marathon was an excellent choice! This race should be on every Marathon bucket list!

Mark you calendars registration for 2014 opens July 15th.  It typically sells out in a matter of days so don’t delay. Register, train, and Finish & Enjoy!

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