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.

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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”

Marathon Training Week 12, 13, 14

Hello!

It’s been awhile since my last post and that is because I’ve been on vacation.  My wife and I had planned a trip to Japan during Cherry Blossom season and so we traveled halfway around the world and visited the beautiful country for a few weeks.  I realized after booking the trip that the timing of the trip would interfere with my training for the Big Sur Marathon, but it’s Japan!  I had also read an article on Runner’s World about how a marathoner stopped being so stringent and strict about sticking to the training plan especially when on vacation.  They went on to say that their overall race times didn’t suffer and they were less stressed because they didn’t constantly worry about missing certain workouts.

Of course I had good intentions of doing some runs while on my trip to Japan.  I packed a few sets of running clothes and also planned on doing some laundry while over there.  Just prior to leaving, I managed to get in a very short run during week 12.  This turned out to my only run of week 12.

3/28 – 2 miles

Once we arrived in Japan, we did the normal touristy thing and did a TON of walking.  My wife’s phone provided us with an indication that we were walking anywhere from 5-10 miles per day.  A lot of this involved going up and down stairs so I count that as my workouts of the day.  I still did want to at least get some actual running in and managed to get a treadmill run done at the Park Hyatt Tokyo.  The neat thing about the gym/pool at the hotel is that it is located on the 47th floor.  If you’ve seen the movie Lost in Translation, you’ll know the pool.  The treadmills sit on one side of the building with full-length windows overlooking the city.  It’s a fantastic view.  Here’s a link to some views (pictures are not allowed in the gym): pictures.

4/4 – 4.25 miles

I figured that I’d get in a few runs (maybe 2) in Kyoto and call it a day for runs on vacation.  Of course the night before my first planned in Kyoto, I woke up at midnight with chills, fever, and diarrhea.  This went on to afflict me the rest of the trip and so now running was to be had.  I barely ate anything for 2 days while sick and was overall sick.  We returned to the States this past week and after getting on some medications I’m doing better, though not 100%.  While at work, my co-worker pointed out that I only have 2 more weeks until the Big Sur Marathon.  I know that I’m in my taper but since I barely have done any running for for almost 2 weeks I decided to jump back into it.

Thursday – 4 miles

Saturday – 6 miles

Sunday – 4.44 miles

Total – 14.44 miles

While not an ideal total for 2 weeks from race day, I’ll accept it.  Like I said, I’m still not 100% and my GI is still having some re-structuring issues.  Hopefully it irons itself out over this next week.  Overall I’m still happy with where I am and still look forward to the race.  I’m not dreading it yet.

Happy Easter!

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-StewsCat

Marathon Training Week 10

I got back on track with my running in week 10.  I also changed up my training schedule to try to make it better with my new work schedule.  Rather than running Tuesday/Thursday, I switched it up to Monday/Wednesday.  This also allows me to have a rest day before my long run day (Friday).  This week was a drop-back week for my long run.  I again did a mixed effort run where I did the middle 4 miles of the 10 miler at a quicker pace.  Sadly my “quicker” pace these days is actually not all that fast.  I’m not sure if it is due to the high mileage I’ve been putting in causing me to be more fatigued and slower or if it is age-related (diet-related, weight-related, etc).  I definitely feel okay though know that with the increased days and miles, I’m putting a lot more stress on my body than I have before.  I certainly am quite cognizant of how my body is feeling because I have much experience with injuries in the past.  I definitely do NOT want to hurt myself before this marathon like I did with the last one (that was not a fun experience).   Wednesday’s treadmill run happened after I had dinner and surprisingly wasn’t too bad – considering I did it about 30 minutes after finishing my dinner.  Saturday’s 7 miler also was on the treadmill and I did some long incline walks/runs to try to build some hill mileage into my training.  I probably should be doing more hill type stuff but we’ll see what happens.

Here’s a summary of last week’s running.

( ) = # of miles on my plan

Monday – 4.5 (3)

Wednesday – 4.1 (6)

Friday – 10.03 (10)

Saturday – 7 (8)

Sunday –  4.25 (5)

Weekly Total – 29.88 miles (32)

We’ve not had any rain for a while so things have dried out a bit and all the previous wet weather has caused a lot of plants to blossom early.  It is quite pretty out although my allergies have been driving me nuts as of late.

 

 

My long run also took me through some interesting neighborhoods along with a small park that I like because they have an actual restroom (yes I do plan many runs around where I can make pit stops).

Other fun things that happened this week included making some bread for a work potluck.  One of my coworkers has some health issues so we were all trying to come up with low-fat recipes to bring.  I figured I could just make some bread since I already had some dough sitting in the fridge just waiting for me.  I had made the dough for sandwiches but decided to switch it up and use it for dinner rolls.

I really find it fascinating how yeast works.  I just love watching how bread rises and gets so big!

For this recipe, I did an egg wash on the dough and baked it for ~23 minutes (internal temp hit around 205F).  The small cast iron was a tester for my wife to make sure it tasted okay.

I got her approval and took it to work and it was a big hit.

This past week we also hit up one of the local Korean BBQ places, Blue House Restaurant.  We had been once not too long after they opened last year.  They have an “All-You-Can-Eat” option.  I noticed they added a lot more cuts of meat to their selection and as they started bringing meat out I realized they changed up how they were serving it.  When we first came, each meat order came as a large plate of meat.  This time they only brought out essentially a one to two person portion.  This is smart because it allows us as patrons to try more types of meats rather than getting full on just one type.  I definitely went to town and had the Kalbi, Bulgogi, octopus, pork bulgogi, shrimp, chicken.  It was all very good and we cooked it up right at the table.  I’m always a fan of Korean BBQ.  The banchan (“side dishes”) were only okay at this place and not as plentiful as it is at other Korean establishments we’ve visited.

Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, we had stopped by a local micro brew, Sactown Union Brewery, for a few beers before dinner.  I had a Nitro Stout that they just released on that very day called Big Fella and then the Carpe Noctem (a coffee oatmeal stout).  At Blue House, we shared an OB (Korean beer) and a bottle of their Pomegranate soju.   The soju was a bit too sweet for our tastes.

Overall a pretty good week for both running and eating.

-StewsCat

Marathon Training Week 7

Marathon Training Week 7

The 7th week of training has come to a close and I completed what I’d consider my first true long run (16 miles).  At the outset of my training I told myself that I wouldn’t be a slave to the plan and I’ve by and large kept up with that sentiment.  As you can see below, I skipped a moderate length run on Thursday.  This past week was my first week working on Thursdays again in a long time.  I thought at least I’d get some miles in after work but after eating dinner, the motivation never materialized.  I still managed to get out and do 16 the next day so it wasn’t all a failure.

Here’s a summary of last week’s running.

( ) = # of miles on my plan

Tuesday – 3.1 (3)

Thursday – 0 (6)

Friday – 16.02 (16)

Saturday – 3.07 (4)

Sunday –  5.05 (3)

Weekly Total – 27.24 miles (32)

The rain has subsided for now so I was able to get outside for all my runs.  Tuesday’s run was a fairly quick one that I did after work in the dark.  I enjoy running in the dark on occasion as it is a whole different feeling.

I decided to head upstream on the American River Parkway for my 16 miler.  The day turned out to be beautiful if not a bit chilly.  I think it was around 38 F when I headed out in the morning but it warmed up into the 40s and was perfect for a long slow run on the bike trail.  Because of the previous rains, there were a ton of people on the trail either walking, biking, running.  At one point I found myself either being passed or watching these fast ladies speed down the pathway.  I have suspicions they were either from the nearby Sac State college team or possibly from the NorCal Distance Project.  These ladies were fast and definitely in awesome shape.  It was fun to see how quick they were.  I had a guy jogging in the opposite direction of me joking if I had fallen off pace (after some ladies had passed me).  I just laughed as I was going probably as slow as he was.

It was interesting to see what the recent weather had done to the trail and all the stuff around it.  There were quite a few trees that were downed.

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Near this tree there were a few of the orange traffic cones.  I ran by one and noticed that there were some keys sitting on the top just randomly out.  Of course I didn’t touch it but needed to grab a pic of such a strange occurrence.

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I do wonder what those keys may open.

Lots of wildlife were out enjoy the beautiful day as well.  First I noticed some of these turtles sunning themselves on a log in the river.  Now I do know there are quite a few invasive turtles (mostly red-eared sliders) but I don’t know if there are native turtles on the American River.

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And then there were some turkeys.  They were making quite a ruckus with all their “gobbling.”  The male also puffed its tail feathers at me at one point warning me off his lady friends.

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And then further down the trail there are some larger areas of quieter water where lots of different water fowl were hanging out.

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I made it to my turnaround point at William Pond Park.  This is the same park that hosts the Run The Parkway Half Marathon that I did last fall.   This was a good place to use the restroom and get some water and take my first gel.

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I then headed back downstream.

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Overall the run was good.  I felt like it was a much bigger struggle to do my long run from the previous week, which was only 10 miles.  I definitely started feeling sore and tired in my legs as I passed the 12 mile mark.  But I soldiered on and completed the task.

After getting home, I definitely stretched and foam rolled.  For the rest of the day, my legs were fairly sore.  Even the next morning my legs were very tired.  I managed to do a slow 3 that next day and then the day after did 5.  I will say that while I was still sore for my Sunday 5, the legs started feeling better midway through the run even if I wasn’t going too fast.  And today (Monday), my legs feel completely fine.  I think that semi-sticking to my training plan is actually getting my body accustomed to the mileage.

I’m not done with my February running (probably will do one more run tomorrow), but I’ve already surpassed 100 miles for the month.  And (*knock on wood*) my body seems to be holding up okay so far.  I had just a little bit of right knee soreness after the long run but nothing that stayed.

Here’s my uber slow 16 miler:

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-StewsCat

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Marathon Training Week 6

Marathon Training Week 6

Week 6 of training is in the books.  Overall I felt like this was a decent week.  I had a few aches and pains along the way.  My 7 miles on Thursday was done on the treadmill and I definitely pushed it (averaging less than a 10 min/mile pace, which is pretty quick for me).  And then following that the next day with a long run was a good test for my body/legs.  On Saturday morning I felt the result of the previous two days and woke up sore all over.  I still managed to get out and do my 5 miles though, which was again a good test of running on tired legs.  I’ve been trying to do some foam rolling after my runs since I’ve increased my mileage a fair amount compared to previously.  Last year I probably averaged between 15 and 22 miles per week.  So far I’ve been averaging in the mid to high 20s this training cycle.

Here’s a summary of last week’s running.

( ) = # of miles on my plan

Tuesday – 3 (3)

Thursday – 7 (7)

Friday – 10.05 (10)

Saturday – 5 (5)

Sunday – 4 (4)

Weekly Total – 29.05 miles (29)

We were hit with another round of rain this past week.  More importantly or impactful, we had some strong winds.  This resulted in a power outage on Friday from 2:15 pm (I know since I was in the midst of catching up on some of my shows) that lasted until 10:30 pm that night.  I had received a phone call from the power company at 4 pm saying power would be out until the following day at 12 pm, so it was a nice surprise that it came on later that night.  Apparently a tree fell on some power lines on the nearby train tracks, which required some specialized equipment to remove the tree, lines and then replace the lines. With the power out, it gave me no choice but to complete  my chores before it got too dark.  We then went out to dinner and watched a movie (luckily my wife’s laptop had a full battery charge).  Then it was lights out early (we were asleep when the power came back).  I had unplugged the power supply to the TV since I knew that it would turn on once power was restored and figured that might be in the middle of the night.  My wife had previously purchased some candle-less candles that came in very handy.

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It was raining a decent amount on Friday morning but I decided to head out and do my long run anyway.  I elected to go down by the river trail to see what it looked like.  We had had a few days of dry weather and I wanted to see what the river levels looked like.  The river had receded and you could actually run on the bike trails (that were previously under water).  The receding water had left a thin layer of dirt/mud on the trails so it felt a little strange underfoot – not like running on a smooth surface.  There was a section that was really muddy and forced me to climb the berm and run on top of it.  The rain wasn’t so bad but the wind was biting at times and made me question why I was doing it.  As you can imagine there weren’t many people out.  A few other brave souls were out running though and one guy gave me a thumbs up from afar as you and I both kept on our runs.

I rewarded myself post long run with some bad for me food. Fish and chips and fried clams to boot.  There’s a small local fish and chips shop run by Koreans that I like to go to (and I like supporting local businesses).  So I stopped in and picked up their daily special.

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With the large amounts of rain that we’ve been getting, a lot of the area trees and plants have started blossoming early.  Since Saturday’s run stayed dry (looked like looming rains), I managed to get some shots of some trees.  One of the trees has these really cool looking purple-pink and white flowers.  The flowers are extremely short-lived on the tree and fall off relatively quickly – especially with the strong winds.

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There are a number of them in our neighborhood and I really like purple so it helps.

Another tree that has bloomed is the one that has a very distinct smell.  The flowers give off the odor of a certain bodily fluid (aka semen).  It’s very strange.

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Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana)
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And there are a ton of Camelia trees in our neighborhood (including a few on our property).  I like them because of the various colors that exist.  These also tend to make a mess when they drop their flowers.

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Camelia

And finally one of our bare Chinese Pistache trees and one of our lavenders.  I’m just glad the lavenders have survived this long (we had previously tried to plant them in years past and they’ve all died).

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Chinese Pistache
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Lavender

I also broke in two new pairs of shoes in the last week or so.  I haven’t run in Mizuno shoes previously and so am trying my first pair with the Mizuno Wave Catalyst.  I’ve only done one run in them but so far they seem all right.  I also did my first run in a shoe I’ve previously run in, the Altra Repetition.  My original pair is getting towards the end of its life with close to 450 miles on it so I’ve started in on its replacement (same shoe, different color).

I think the Repetition is billed as a trail running shoe (it is a maximalist zero drop shoe), I’ve found it to be a great road shoe.   I’ve done a half marathon in my previous pair as well as a decent amount of long runs.  I’ve been a fan of Altra now for a few years and also run in the Altra Provision 2.0 currently  as well.  As I’ve said before, the diversity in shoes that I use in training I think helps to keep me from getting injured (*knocks on wood*).

-StewsCat

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