Friday, April 30, 2010

Observations from Big Sur

The whole Big Sur Marathon process runs like a well oiled machine. From the race expo, to the early morning buses, to all of the volunteers, you can tell they’ve been doing this for many years and things run very efficiently.

The volunteers were great and very helpful.

I liked not having too many spectators, but also wish there could have been more out on the course.

There are some serious runners out there. And just because you’re serious, doesn’t mean you’re fast. Beth and I are always amazed at the different types of people we see at races. Beth and I enjoy running a lot, but never take ourselves that serious. We don’t have all the latest gear and we don’t run a marathon every weekend(or any race for that matter). We run maybe 3 or 4 races a year. With that being said, we still finished in the top 15% of all runners. Pretty decent for our first marathon if you ask me.

People were taking energy gels a mile into the race. If you need an energy gel after only one mile, you’re in trouble.

I wasn’t too impressed with the food after the race. After running 26.2 miles, you had to go into a small crowded tent and go through a food line. I would have liked to sit down for a second and then get food, but that wasn’t an option. Once you left the tent, you couldn't go back in. They also had no water in the food tent which meant if you were really thirsty(like we were), you had to hurry out of the tent to get water. They had no bottled water, which is great for all the “let’s go green” folks, but not good when you’re literally dying of thirst and you have to take 3 oz. shots of water multiple times.

In N Out Burger is the best post-race meal.(I had a 3 by 3 and fries….3 by 3 is 3 hamburger patties and 3 pieces of cheese of pure goodness)

I don’t think Beth and I have ever been this sore after a run. In fact, yesterday was our first run since the marathon and it was tough! We only ran 3 miles.

Monterey/Carmel, California is a great place. Beth and I will definitely go back. If you’re ever there, stay at the Spindrift Inn on Cannery Row. You won’t regret it.

Will we do this race again? Probably not. Are we glad we did it? ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Big Sur Marathon Recap Part 2

After crossing the Bixby Bridge and feeling really good, I started thinking that we may be able to come close to matching our time from the first half of the marathon. In fact, the next few miles went by rather easily although the hills were still there. In the back of my mind I kept thinking that because Hurricane Point was so hard, maybe there just wouldn’t be many hills left on the second half of the race. Man was I wrong. Beth and I both thought the second half of the course was tougher than the first. The hills didn’t seem as steep, but they definitely seemed longer. And just when you had gotten to the top of one hill, there’d be another waiting for you.

Around mile 18 is when Beth started to not feel too well. The constant incline of the hills was starting to wear her out pretty good. Unlike the parts of Houston where we used to run, Oklahoma actually has hills. And we trained on the hills to an extent. But looking back now, our training prepared us for the hills about as well as 10 minutes of studying before the BAR Exam would help you. Hardly at all.

We slowed down considerably from Mile 18 on. Beth even took a bathroom break in one of the bazillion porta potties they had on the course.

Around Mile 19 is when I got a severe cramp on the right side of my stomach. It lasted for nearly a mile and it kept me from being able to take full breaths. And just when I thought it was gone, it came back again.

Luckily the cramp was gone just in time for us to see the following sign:

“The Wall”

And it felt like we were hitting a wall. At this point, all I kept thinking about was that we only had a 10K left. A 10K is nothing. Beth and I can run a 10K without breaking a sweat or even breathing hard. I kind of forgot to realize that running a 10K after running 20 miles is a little bit tougher.

Miles 21-25 are kind of a blur. Beth and I felt horrible. Running down the hills became very difficult. I didn’t feel like I was even running at that point. It felt more like a fast walk although we were running 9-10 minute miles. I’ve never gotten a leg cramp before while running, but my calves nearly brought me to a complete stop while going down a hill. The Mile 25 marker was this sign:

And after looking at it, I really thought that my life may hit its end before the marathon did.

Luckily though we pushed through Mile 25, even going up one last hill of death before finally coming to Mile 26 and seeing this sign:

After passing Mile 26, we knew we had made it. We were in the middle of all the spectators cheering and we looked over and saw Beth’s Mom cheering for us.

Next thing you know, we were crossing the finish line of our first marathon. And if we hadn’t been so miserable, we may have actually enjoyed it. Beth and I got our medals and took a finish line picture.

We finished the marathon in 3:49:11 officially although my Garmin watch had us finishing one second sooner.

Here's a breakdown of all the finishers of the marathon.

Here’s our overall stats:

Here’s our mileage breakdown for the second half of the marathon:

Mile 14: 7:55

Mile 15: 8:26

Mile 16: 8:15

Mile 17: 8:11

Mile 18: 8:58

Mile 19: 8:37

Mile 20: 9:08

Mile 21: 9:09

Mile 22: 9:42

Mile 23: 10:21

Mile 24: 10:19

Mile 25: 9:58

Mile 26: 10:48

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Big Sur Race Recap Part 1

Our bus tickets that we got at the race expo were for the 4:30 a.m. bus to the start line. The drive to the start line takes nearly an hour so they have to make sure everyone is at the start line and off Highway 1, well before the race begins. The lady who gave us the bus tickets told us to be there by 4:15 at the latest. So Beth and I decided to get up at 2:45 a.m. to eat breakfast and slowly get ready to go and then at 3:50 we’d walk over to Carol’s hotel and she would take us to the bus drop-off. So we were taking our sweet time until we realized time had flown by and we only had 10 minutes before we needed to leave. So we scrambled to make sure we had everything and then headed to meet Carol.

Here we are getting dropped off for the bus at 4 a.m.

After Carol dropped us off for the bus, we got in a long line that took about 15 minutes for us to finally get through and onto a bus. Because you drive the course in reverse to get to the start line, I tried not to pay attention to the hills and the curves(although it was hard not to). When we got to the start, there were already hundreds(if not more) people waiting around. There were over 300 porta-potties at the start and even with that many, there were still lines everywhere. Beth and I decided to go to the bathroom first and walked to the porta-potties the furthest away from everyone so we didn’t have to wait in line. I’m not quite sure why other people didn’t do this too.

They also provided water, coffee, fruit and bagels at the start although Beth and I brought some Clif Bars to eat instead. So we sat around for a while and then before you know it, it was time to start lining up. We threw all of our stuff that we weren’t running with, into our “sweats bag” and went to line up. The “sweats bag” got thrown into the back of a truck and we were supposed to pick it up after the race was finished. Our intention was never to even have a sweats bag but to just drop stuff on the ground(everything thrown on the ground goes to charity). Well we ended up throwing our stuff in a sweats bag and then after the marathon we forgot to pick it up. Oops. Oh well. None of the stuff we put in the bag was important to us at all. Plus we at least know that it’ll go to charity.

The race got started a few minutes late due to congestion getting everyone to the start area(thus why the busses leave so early). After the national anthem(which was really good) and the release of doves, it was time to start. I got super nervous, Beth got a little emotional, and combined, we were a wreck! And then the gun sounded and there was no more time to think about anything, we were off! 16 weeks of training was over and it was time to run.

Our goal time all along was anything under 4 hours. We had read different places to add anywhere from 10-20 minutes onto your normal marathon time for Big Sur due to the significant amount of hills. Since Beth and I had never run a marathon before, we didn’t really know what to expect, but we figured that surely we could run a marathon under four hours.

Here’s a chart of the elevation of the course

The hardest part for me in any race is to pace myself. In other races that Beth and I have run in, I normally make us take off right from the start. I hate going slow at the start and I especially hate when people pass me. This mentality doesn’t work for marathons. You’re going to get passed. The good news is, you have 26.2 miles to make up ground and catch up to some of those people who passed you at the beginning.

Our first few miles were nice and easy. We were getting warmed up and just getting into the groove of things. Not knowing exactly how we’d feel, I wanted to run the first miles around 8 minutes. I knew at some point we’d have to slow down especially as the hills got tougher and the miles wore on.

Beth and I did some talking at the beginning and around mile 3, we even met a girl from Maine who had run the marathon before. She told us to just relax now because it was only going to get tougher. The first time she ran the race, it took her 4 hours and 28 minutes and she was hoping for something under 4 hours this time. She ended up meeting her goal and finished in 3 hours and 57 minutes.

Because the beginning of the race is slightly downhill, the first few miles went by pretty easy. Around mile 5 or 6 is when we started getting out close to the ocean. We even passed a pasture with cows in it. I remember telling Beth that those cows have the best views of any cows in the world. Before we knew it, we were running right alongside the Pacific Ocean. The scenery was truly amazing!

Everything was going smoothly. Our pace was anywhere from 7:45 to 8:15 min/mile depending on the slope of the hill we were running on and we were moving right along. At mile 10 is when things kind of changed. It was first real hill of the race. Mile 10 is the start of the ascent up to Hurricane Point. It’s a 520 feet incline stretched out over two miles of winding roads. The first mile of our ascent was our slowest mile yet. It took us 8 minutes and 55 seconds. The second mile up to Hurricane Point was actually faster which is surprising considering it was right in the middle of the incline. We did that mile in 8 minutes and 33 seconds.

The mile marker at the start to Hurricane Point(I think we’re going up)

A Picture from Hurricane Point

After reaching Hurricane Point, the next mile was a sizeable descent. And after running two straight miles uphill, it felt great to run downhill. And our time showed. We ran mile 13 in 7 minutes and 54 seconds. The halfway point of the race is on the Bixby Bridge and every year there is someone at the bridge playing the piano. As we were coming down the hill to the bridge, over a half mile away, we could hear the music coming from the piano.

Bixby Bridge

Piano Man

Once we reached the halfway point, I remember thinking that things were going great, maybe even better than expected. Our time at the halfway point(13.1 miles) was 1 hour 46 minutes. This means that if we ran the second half at the same pace as the first half, we’d finish in a time around 3 hours 32 minutes. I knew this wasn’t going to happen, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking maybe we could run a sub 3:40 marathon. I didn’t realize what the course had left for us.

Here are our times for each mile for the first half of the marathon:

Mile 1: 8:14

Mile 2: 7:56

Mile 3: 7:45

Mile 4: 7:58

Mile 5: 8:02

Mile 6: 7:59

Mile 7: 8:07

Mile 8: 8:05

Mile 9: 8:11

Mile 10: 7:32

Mile 11:(beginning of Hurricane Point Ascent): 8:55

Mile 12: 8:33

Mile 13(Downhill from Hurricane Point): 7:54

Halfway Point 13.1 Miles: 1 hour 46 minutes

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Big Sur Marathon Race Expo

After breakfast, we headed to Monterey. The drive was just over an hour long and we drove through lots of farming areas where they were growing strawberries, lettuce, artichokes, etc. Before we knew it, we were in Monterey and walking into the race expo.

The race expo was just okay. Although my only experience with an expo is the Houston Marathon expo which is held in a space about 5 times larger than the Big Sur expo. We picked up our race bibs, our bus passes, race t-shirts, and tons of free stuff. Beth and I also picked up a couple of Asics technical running t's that will be great for running this summer.

Here are some pics from the race expo:

Some of stuff we picked up at the expo:

After the race expo, we headed to our hotel to check-in and relax for a few minutes before heading out to check things out.

Our Hotel

"Cannery Row" in front of our hotel

The view from our hotel

We did a little sightseeing on Saturday but headed to dinner early at California Pizza Kitchen and then Beth and I decided to head to bed around 8 p.m. We had a 2:45 a.m. wake up call on Sunday morning so we could catch the bus to the starting line of our first marathon!

San Jose Trip Recap

We got to San Jose around 7:45 p.m. on Friday evening(thanks United for being 30 minutes early). Carol(Beth’s Mom) was waiting for us at baggage claim and we headed over to the rental car counter to pick up our car. Originally I had rented a convertible for the weekend, thinking it would be fun for Beth and I to drive down the coast in a convertible(even though I really don’t like convertibles). But with three people, a convertible would be a little tight. I asked the Avis guy if he had anything else that was comparable. So he searched around in his computer before telling me, “you’re going to a nice place, so you need a nice car. How about a Cadillac CTS?” I told him that’d be great if it didn’t cost 5 times more than what I was already paying. He said that he would change the rate code around for me and it would end up being five bucks more a day. I was sold. Next thing you know, we were cruising to dinner in our brand new Cadillac joking that we were about 35 years too young to be driving a car like that.

Here's a pic of our Cadillac:

We went to dinner at a place called The Counter in Santana Row. A high school friend of mine lives in San Jose and recommended it. When you sit down, they hand you a clipboard with tons of burger options on it. You basically go through and build your burger(or chicken sandwich in Beth’s case). It’s a pretty cool idea and Beth was happy because they had sweet potato fries(her new obsession).

Here's a pic of what the menu looks like:

After dinner, we were all three really tired so we headed to the hotel. I booked us a room at a brand new Courtyard on the south side of San Jose. It was really nice! Probably the nicest Courtyard I had ever stayed at.

Saturday morning we got up and headed to breakfast at a place called Bill’s Diner. I found it online and it had good reviews so we decided to check it out.

After breakfast, it was time to head to Monterey to pick up our race bibs at the race expo.

Monday, April 26, 2010

We're Back

And here's where we've been:

Race/Mini-Vacation Recap to come tomorrow.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Marathon Time!

We are leaving tomorrow for the marathon! I can't believe it's here aready. It seems like yesterday that we started our training and 16 weeks seemed so far away. Now we are finally to the weekend. Now, how sweet is this...three girls from my class made a little goodie bag for me for the marathon!

I think you can pretty much see everything that they got, but they got a magazine for the airplane, Advil, lip gloss, deodorant, foot creams, Clif bars, Gatorade, Snickers, Icy Hot Patches, fuzzy socks, etc. It was so thoughtful of them, and it made my day that they thought about all of that stuff.

If you want to see how we did before we get home to post on here, you can go to the Big Sur website and find our results. I'm sure all of 2 people will do that, but I wanted to throw it out there for family or whoever else has listened to us talk for the last 4 months about this! Haha.

Wish us luck in our FIRST MARATHON...I'm sure it will be painful and great all at the same time. Maybe the great will just come after we are done! We will do our best to enjoy the experience and think back to all the hard work we've done to get there.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

One Week Until.........

We just got back from our longest run until the marathon. We were supposed to run 8 miles but ended up running 9. The weather here today is actually pretty nice other than the mist in the air. The temperature is about 55 degrees and overcast. Last weekend when I ran, it was 75 degrees and sunny and it's amazing how much of a difference it makes being 20 degrees cooler and cloudy this weekend. In a perfect world, it'd be about 40 degrees next weekend when we start the marathon. The best runs that Beth and I have had during our training have been the ones where we are cold when we start and gradually warm up. Keep your fingers crossed for "cold" weather next weekend!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Past Week

We've been pretty busy since Easter weekend. We went to the Tim McGraw and Lady Antebellum concert here in Tulsa at the BOK Center last Thursday.

We had a good time going on a little mini-date during the week. We went to a place called Leon's in the Brookside area. I've heard its good from a co-worker, and it didn't disappoint. It was a little pricey, but the food was good. American food - pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, etc. The concert was also really good. Our seats however, were not! We were in the almost last row on the side. So we decided to relocate to the last row more at the front of the stage so we could see better. Both Tim and Lady Antebellum were really great! Tim McGraw also recorded the video from his new CD at the concert. He sang the song twice in a row so they could get all the filming. Not cool to hear a song twice in a row, but cool that it was being taped.

On Friday after work I went to Houston for the weekend while Tony stayed in Tulsa. I went for my friend, Alyssa's bachelorette party. I was able to hang out with my parents and Janet and her bf, Kelly from Atlanta, while I was there. Got to have some Mexican food and Black Walnut too! It was kind of hectic just because there was so much I wanted to do and not enough time. The bachelorette party was Saturday night in Houston, and I was able to see two of my best friends and hang out with them which is always entertaining and a fun time. Tony spent the weekend watching the Masters and doing a little bit of yard work. Our grass is finally starting to turn green, so we have to get rid of some weeds to make it look better.

The running over the past week has slowed down quite a bit. We each ran our 12 miles this past weekend and have 8 coming up this weekend, but that's pretty much it for the long runs. Hopefully we'll be ready to go in less than two weeks now!

This week we had our state testing at school, so it's been pretty low key since all we do during the day is test. Not much teaching going on. Last night we had one of our almost weekly specials, pizza! We've stopped buying the frozen since the dough its pretty easy to make and the pizza tastes better.

We have a few plans for this week/weekend. Tony's parents are in town for the next few weeks, so we are planning on seeing them, going to Tony's brother (Sean's) play at TU, going to a wedding on Saturday, and doing some more planting/yard work. Hopefully we'll update more this week...we've kind of been slackers again.

Monday, April 5, 2010


After church on Easter, we came home and Beth made some donut muffins that my sister had made a few weeks ago. They tasted like a combination of less dense version of a cake donut and coffee cake. Overall, they were pretty good. Here's a pic of Beth the Baker and her finished product:

After breakfast/lunch, we went and ran some errands. We made a trip to Whole Foods and also went by my work so I could show Beth my new office. I changed jobs a few weeks ago and even though I'm still on the same floor, I'm in a different area and also have a new office.

On the way home, we stopped at Lowe's and picked up some plants. We still have a lot of planting left to do, but here are a few pics:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Today's Run

Today was the last of our long training runs. Our third 20 miles. It ended up that we had to do 20 two weeks in a row because of going to Las Vegas and then the snow we got. It wasn't too bad doing them back to back. I really wasn't any more tired than normal. We decided to try a different path for this run since we've done so many at the Riverside trails and they started doing construction where we like to finish our runs. We did an almost point to point run on the Creek Turnpike path. We started where the path begins at NSU Broken Arrow, about 10 min or less from our house. We finished at a parking area for the path at Sheridan in Jenks (close to where I work). Between the two it's about 12 miles, but we picked up a few miles before in the NSU parking lot and then ran past the car for a few miles and then flipped back around to finish. Logistically, it's a little annoying to run point to point because we had to take another car to the finish and then drive back to the start, but I thought it was kind of cool to not have the turn around or be waiting for that last turn to the last 6 miles at Riverside. I don't think Tony really like it though. The downside with today's run was that it was warm by running standards. We prefer cool and cloudy and we got neither today. The plus was that there was little wind (it was bearable), but it was 74 degrees and sunny. We actually got a little sunburn. I also decided to lose the tshirt and run in a sports bra, which I don't do very often! The stomach is a little white and it kind of makes you a little self conscious about not having a 6 pack! But regardless, I was too hot and just went for it. We also didn't have enough water (we had an extra bottle at the car) so we had to prolong our last shotbloks until mile 17 which wasn't very cool either. We ended up doing two packs of shotbloks, both strawberry, because we didn't love the GU flavor we had last time.

For some reason it never seems like we both have a good run on the same day. Last week my 20 miles was like crap. I got these crazy stomach pains in the last 4 or 5 miles and was feeling dizzy. I'm thinking I could have been dehydrated, didn't eat enough for breakfast, or had low iron (found online that low iron causes those things too). Today, I made sure to eat enough. We still didn't have enough water, but I felt pretty good. Of course you get tired, but I felt pretty strong throughout and didn't mentally lose it! Haha. Tony didn't have that good of a run today. Of course he's tougher than me and didn't really say anything until the last 3 miles, but he wasn't having a good time and was feeling a little dehydrated himself.

The marathon is 3 weeks from tomorrow, so our next two weeks we start to shorten our long runs, but still do the interval/pace run during the week. Next weekend is only 12 miles on Saturday. It's a good thing because I'm going to Houston for one of my best friends, Alyssa's bachelorette party, and I'm going to have to do the run by myself. I'm excited to run in The Woodlands though. I love the trails there and they are mostly shaded. No driving to find a nice running path, just right out the door and off you go.

If you're a numbers person, like we are (We've started keeping a running journal of our miles, times, etc.) here's where we stand for the week, month, and year. PS- this is the most I've run in a long time, if not ever. I don't remember if I ran this much when I did cross country and track in my younger days.

This week - 36 miles (two 6 miles, one 4 mile, and a 20 mile)
Month of March-133 miles for Beth and 138 miles for Tony
2010-362 miles for Beth and 388 miles for Tony

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