Big Sur Half Marathon

I am the type of person who, every once in a while, decides that he needs to challenge himself in some way, simply for the feeling of accomplishment.  Usually, this involves finding various ways to torture myself.  My most recent adventure was no exception.

Early in the year I decided that I was going to run a half marathon.  This was an interesting choice, as I usually list running somewhere just above being waterboarded in my desirable activities.  For some reason, that made the goal much more interesting for me to select something that I had historically hated so much.  On the recommendations of my cousins Justin and Erika, I signed up for the Big Sur Half Marathon (which actually takes place in Monterey, not in Big Sur).  They promised that the course was both beautiful and relatively flat.

Luckily, Justin (who has completed several marathons, triathlons and various other superman-like feats) was interested in doing the event as well, so he was nice enough to do some training with me.  Though I wouldn’t say I trained as much as I should have (I was a pretty big slacker on the days that I ran by myself), Justin and I hit the trail together at least once a week.

The event took place this last weekend so, on Saturday, Katie and I headed down to Monterey.  Everything started out terribly wrong.  I was extremely nervous about the race, so I was irritable and didn’t allow myself to enjoy any of the beauty that Monterey always has to offer.  My lungs were starting to build up congestion and I knew that I was going to wake up the next morning with a full-fledged cold.  It rained all day Saturday and was forecasted to rain Sunday as well.  Everything was in place for the experience to be a complete bust.

To my surprise, I wasn’t sick when I awoke on Sunday morning.  In fact, I felt great.  When we got to the start line that morning, it was cold, but it wasn’t raining.  In fact, by the time the starting gun fired, the sun was starting to come out.  Since I signed up for the event before I started running on a semi-regular basis, I was very conservative in my estimated finishing time.  This meant that my starting position was pretty far back, and I started a full half-hour behind the initial release.  Being a nice cousin, Justin joined me all the way back in corral J.  The downside of this was that our first mile or two was slowed down by the fact that we were zigzagging around the groups of people that wanted to run or walk at a much slower pace than us.  The upside was that it put us in a position to be passing people throughout the entire run (which makes you feel really fast, if slightly obnoxious).

Once I was running, my nervousness was released and I started to have fun.   The run itself, which passes through Cannery Row before snaking along the coast and back, is full of breathtaking views (I came very close to trampling a couple of people who stopped unexpectedly in front of me to take pictures).  It really is a beautiful course, and I highly recommend it to anyone (especially anyone thinking of doing their first).  I was surprised to find that I was in better shape for the race than I had expected.  Though my main goal was to just finish the thing while running the whole time, I did have a goal time in my head that I was hoping I could get close to.  Not only was I able to run the entire time, but I had enough energy in the tank to finish the last half-mile at a partial sprint to try to make up any time lost in the beginning.

With my super supportive wife at the finish line.

All in all, I would say the experience was a great success, as I ended up beating that goal time by ten minutes, far exceeding my expectations.   I don’t think I am willing to commit to the training time involved in running a full-length marathon, but I’m definitely already thinking about when my next half-marathon will be.  I still hate running, but my feelings toward it have softened.  I would no longer go to the extreme of comparing it to waterboarding but, on my personal enjoyment scale, it still lingers somewhere just above sitting through community musical theater.

With Justin at after party.


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