Big Sur Int’l Marathon: The Beauty and the Beast

Anytime I think of this gorgeous place, I get tears in my eyes. Words and pictures truly cannot express its majesty. It is a place of breathtaking views that one must truly appreciate and just be in its presence.  (I know I’m cheesy!)

At the start of the race, the race director of Boston spoke, we had a moment of silence for the victims for that horrendous act, and sang the national anthem. I saw many runners with tears in their eyes, as this hits home for us as marathoners.  Therefore, the first 5 miles of the race were solemn like a quiet summer morning, full of dew, birds singing, leaves rustling, and a coolness still hanging in the air.  There was a calmness in the midst of all of the nerves and adrenaline that is the beginning of a marathon.

As we emerged from that forest we turned around and saw this:

It is no secret that I did not PR this race.  In fact I was 30 minutes slower than my first marathon….but it’s all good.  I enjoyed it.  I took stopped and took pictures.  I ate “the world’s best strawberries.”  I took even pictures of fellow runners. 

I met one beautiful runner who ran alongside me for the hardest miles of this run.  She was with me all the way up Hurricane Point after she stopped to take a picture for me and I took one of her…

You can’t make this stuff up.

She blessed me with her presence, her encouragement, and her enjoyment of the course.  We crossed Bixby Bridge together and took our pictures with the grand piano player.  Soon after that, I felt my knee beginning to snap, crackle, and pop (or whatever it was doing).  I told sweet Julie to go on.  I didn’t want to hold her up in her race. 

Before we began the trek up Hurricane Point we were serenaded by the Taiko drummers.  I was lucid enough at that point to take a video.  I wish I had taken a longer one but I was still trying to run at this point 😉

As you can imagine, Hurricane Point gets it name for a reason.  We had been keeping up with the weather for race day because Big Sur is known for it’s unpredictability.  The forecast had mild winds at our backs…the forecast was wrong.  Going up that 560 foot climb… 
If you look closely you can see the runners climbing that mountain.

I kept thinking this is not what was predicted.  It’s not hard enough that we are going up at a 5% grade for 2 miles but we also have strong winds to face.  At times, it was hard to breathe.  The air just felt thick.  You can see the fog in my pictures.  I think one of the greatest feelings in that race was when we topped it and runners were yelling and whooping!  There was a huge sign that said “You survived Hurricane Point!”  It was an amazing feeling with the wind still whipping furiously around us and volunteers handing out water and Gatorade cheering us on.  Then…we got a downhill!  Woohoo!  Well deserved but just as hard on the legs.  As we were racing downhill we could just hear the song of the grand piano.  It was beautiful.  As we rounded a corner and saw the bridge I was so happy. 

On our way downhill, hearing the piano.

View from the bridge
Looking back at where we had just ran.

I took 40 some pictures throughout the race and they are all just as amazing as the next.  The volunteers and the other runners were so helpful and friendly.  I did not feel like I was racing all of these people.  I felt like we were all friends out sightseeing.  We just happened to be running 26.2 miles in the process. 
As we neared the finish line, we were running by the beaches of Carmel, CA.  I knew we were near when I could hear the announcer calling out the names of people finishing.  As I ran up, the song “Beautiful Day” by U2 was playing.  How fitting!  Throughout this marathon, I went from hot, sunny weather to cold, damp, windy, then, back to hot and sunny by the end.  You know what?  I loved every single minute of it!  I can honestly say that I ran most of these miles with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes.  I feel so lucky to be able to do this. 
This is most definitely a race I would do again.  I would not ever expect a PR on this course.  I would go solely for the soul-cleansing experience. 
This was just the marathon to make you stop and smell the roses.  Don’t let life pass you by.  Live it to the fullest each and every day.  Don’t take things for granted.  Enjoy. 
❤ Niki
My sweet friends and I after we got our race medals 🙂