2017 Big Sur International Marathon Race Recap

2017 Big Sur International Marathon Race Recap

I did it!  Successfully (mostly) completed my fourth full marathon.  I am currently recovering from a hard effort.  I’ll have a separate post about our time in Carmel that is unrelated to the actual marathon itself.

Let’s start with the race expo.  We drove down from Sac on Friday late morning and went straight to the Portola Hotel, where the race expo was being held.  We had the dog with us so I didn’t get to explore the expo too much on Friday but went back Saturday morning to get a better idea.  I had read on other blogs that the expo is typically fairly small for a major marathon and they were correct.  Packet pickup was very smooth.  The organizers were great in sending out emails prior to the weekend letting me know my bib number since that was what you needed to get your bib.  Because there is only one way to get to the race start, I also had to pick up a bus ticket (free) from my pickup location (which was in the heart of Carmel).  There were about 4-5 different areas of pickup for the full marathon.  After grabbing my bib and bus ticket, I got my shirt and gear check bag and the helpful volunteer put everything into the bag for me.  The following morning I walked through the expo.  There were a few of the usual booths for various races as well as a few gear booths selling everything from gels to water bottles to clothes.  The largest merchandise area belonged to Asics, who is one of the big sponsors.  Overall it was a nice little expo area but nothing to write home about.  I did find my name on the Big Sur poster that is comprised of every runner.

I had all intentions of a breakout run on Saturday morning but that fell threw just because I was doing enough walking around with the wife.  The day before the race, we did drive down Highway 1 to Big Sur because my wife had never been.  Essentially we drove the course backwards on our way down and then in the proper direction on our return trip back to Carmel.  The drive really showed me just how non-flat the course actually is.  When you look at the elevation chart of the race, you go “okay, there are a few major hills and few minor ones,” but when you’re actually driving the course you realize the entire thing is essentially either “up” or “down.”  There aren’t actually many flat spots to the course.


The drive is when I really did start to worry about my race and my training.  I knew that my trip to Japan as well as my illness didn’t hep matters but I wasn’t that worried about it.  After driving the course, I started to wonder a bit.  I had an “A” and “B” goal for this race.  The “A” goal was to PR the race, which I know is a challenge given the above regarding elevation changes.  My “B” goal was to finish under the 6 hour course time limit, which given that I was overall physically okay I figured I should be able to do.  Honestly I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt but knew that I had signed up, gotten in the lottery, and trained for it so I might as well give it a shot.  Outwardly of course I didn’t reveal my concerns to my wife. Continue reading “2017 Big Sur International Marathon Race Recap”


2016 Running Summary

I finished off 2016 with a nice 4.5 mile run.  Honestly it felt like the best run I’ve done in the last week or so.

The end of 2016 is upon us.  It’s been a good running year for me.  I managed to go the entire year without any major injuries.  I definitely chalk this up to my newer rotation of shoes – 3 different shoes of all different types – and no aggressive changes to my mileage.  My goal going into the year was to hit 70 miles per month (an arbitrary goal but one that was more ambitious compared to anything I’d done previously).  A few years ago I had attempted to do 50 miles per month but that was derailed with injury about 4-5 months into the year.

I’m happy to report that I hit my 70 miles/month goal and also have a new PR for total yearly mileage.  The breakdown of my monthly totals is as follows:

  • January – 75.87
  • February – 71.24
  • March – 77.05
  • April – 74.36
  • May – 70.45
  • June – 72.08
  • July – 71.56
  • August – 71.74
  • September – 70.89
  • October – 71.43
  • November – 70.16
  • December – 75.8

Total yearly mileage – 872.6 (183 runs)

My previous highest yearly mileage came in 2013 with 718.7 miles.  I chalk up the previous few years of much fewer miles (500-600) due to injuries.  This past year I only ran 2 races.  My goal was to have an injury-free year of running, which I accomplished.  I’m pretty proud of the 70 miles/month goal.  I’ll admit there were a few months where I had concerns about not making it.

This year I also added a GPS running watch to my aresenal.  I bought the Garmin Forerunner 225 in January and have been using it consistently for most of my runs.  I don’t obsessively look at it on every run as I know many running coaches suggest having at least a few runs with no GPS watches/phones/etc to just enjoy the run.  I, luckily, am able to do those runs even with my watch on without looking to see how far I’ve gone or how fast I’m running.  My phone GPS also hadn’t been terribly accurate so I was glad to have something a little more reliable.

Runner’s World magazine had an article talking about decluttering as it pertains to running gear (clothes, shoes, hats, accessories, etc).  Growing up I was in an environment where we kept things.  By things I mean “everything.”  You never know when you’re going to need something.  My wife is the complete opposite and tries to keep material things to a minimum.  I have slowly been trying to be more minimalist as the years have gone by.  After reading the article, in which the author professes to having way too much running gear, I thought I should probably join in this movement and start slowly culling running shirts.  I have collected quite a few tech t shirts from various races.  I profess to never having actually purchased a tech t-shirt since I have obtained them all through race registrations.  My cubby that I keep my shirts in was over-stuffed and some of the shirts I have are 6 years old.  So far I’m retiring the following two shirts (my wife looked into places where I can actually recycle these shirts rather than going into a landfill somewhere).

The meteor martian was my first and only 10K race to date.  I still can’t believe I ran it as quickly as I did (52.75 minutes).  The AFC 5K was my first race in SD, which culminated in the RnR SD Marathon in 2011.  Both shirts served me well in many many runs in the last 6 years.

Next up are my running goals for 2017.

Happy New Years!!


Silly dog


On today’s warm run, I had some thoughts (whether they’re good and/or interesting is up for debate but I wanted to remember them) I wanted to jot down.

  1. Warm weather running sucks.  I had already known that running in hot weather was not fun.  Today’s run confirmed my previous thoughts further.  I’ve alway said that my favorite temperatures to run in are the high 40s F (for long runs) and 50s F.  Due to a morning work function, I had to push my run back until after this meeting.  I ended up starting my run around 11:30 am and the ambient air temperature was 81 F.  Not too bad you say? Well it isn’t if you’re just walking or standing around.  However, once you start running, your body temperature goes up and your body starts working hard to cool itself.  Luckily for me I had a relatively short run on the schedule (I don’t really have a schedule right now, just running to get in decent miles and hit my 70 miles/month goal for 2016).  One thing I noticed is that my heart rate is consistently higher when putting out less effort (i.e. running slower) when the outside temperature is higher.  As an example, on today’s run I put in 4 miles at a relatively relaxed pace and saw that my HR hovered around 156-158 bpm.  Typically when I run at a casual pace my HR is 144-148 bpm.  This definitely tells me that the warmer weather is more taxing on my body.  I also know not to push it.  Coincidentally this article from Runner’s World showed up on my Facebook feed after I finished my run today:  Warm weather running
  2. Garmin 225 GPS / HR watch:  As I just mentioned I was monitoring my heart rate while on my run.  Earlier this year I purchased the Garmin 225 GPS/HR running watch.  I’ve been running with it regularly since I bought it.  I have been very happy with it thus far and it also frees me up from needing to wear a running belt on a lot of my runs.  Before I had the watch, I would run with my phone in a running belt.  Originally I ran with the HTC Incredible 2 (from around 2011 to 2014).  I’d use the GPS function on the phone tied to Runkeeper to keep track of my distance/time.  I also used it to gauge how far I needed to run.  Naturally I upgraded my phone in the fall of 2014 and after about 1 month  noticed that my times were recorded as a lot slower on Runkeeper and the distances were shorter (for runs that I had been doing and knew the distance).  I read up on GPS in phones and accuracy of running apps and found that there is a lot of variation between GPS readings and actual distance based on the phone and GPS chip in the phones.  I started using web sites to track (geodistance) to look at my distances.  I found that my new phone was under-measuring how far I had actually run.  When I looked at the tracking on Runkeeper, the phone would cut off corners (going through houses) in neighborhoods.  It was relatively accurate if I was doing runs that were just long straight runs.  When I ran in the neighborhood and did a lot of turns winding through various streets, it would leave off a lot more distance.  A big reason I chose to get a GPS watch was to have more accurate ways of measuring my distance.  Also with the information on my wrist, I could more easily look at how far I’d run, my pace (and whether I should speed up or slow down) and also track my heart rate.  Since this is getting long I’ll probably do a post just about the watch and its pros and cons.
  3. Grilling.  I purchased a grill sometime in 2014-2015.  I had used it sparingly over the last few years.  I’ve decided that I need to use it more regularly.  So I’ve been doing some grilling here and there.  Yesterday evening I grilled up some chicken drumsticks (I marinaded it in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, honey, red wine vinegar, fresh garlic, a little sesame oil and olive oil).  I had some freshly made tortillas (well I had made them earlier in the week for lunches) that I put on the grill along with a crooked neck squash my coworker had grown in his garden.  I paired that with a salad for dinner.  Good stuff!