Race: Big Sur International Marathon
Date & Time: Sunday, April 27, 2014 @ 6:45 a.m.
Where: Big Sur to Carmel, CA
As you can see from the map, the Big Sur Marathon course starts in Big Sur and winds up the coast to Carmel via Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway. Much like Oakland, there’s a huge climb (Hurricane Point) about halfway through the course. However, from what I’ve read and heard, the most difficult part of the course is the last 6 miles, through the rolling hills and canted roadways of Carmel. In particular, I’ve read in many recaps that the hill at mile 25 seems ginormous because your legs are really beat up by that point.
Big Sur is known as one of the most beautiful marathon courses in the world. Part and parcel with that its remoteness, and as a consequence, the only spectators for a majority of the race will be the aid station volunteers. Maybe I’ll be lucky and make a new running friend. I might pack my earbuds too, just in case I get tired of the amazing views. Ha!
(If this description leaves you wanting, here’s a comprehensive video tour of the course on the race website.)
It’s looking mighty fine! High of 63F and low of 47F, with a mix of sun and clouds. Winds at 8 mph — which is a relief, because headwind has been a serious obstacle in years past. Hopefully there won’t be much fog obscuring the view.
As far as time goals go, it would be nice to PR (4:32:39, CIM ’12). Having just run the Oakland Marathon in 4:46, I feel confident that I can come in at least 10 minutes faster at Big Sur as long as I don’t cramp up or have any other significant issues. So my A-goal is to PR and my B-goal is to finish in 4:36.
My other major goal is to take time to enjoy the scenery. Having driven down this stretch of highway before, I can only imagine how awesome it will be to savor the view without worrying about driving off the road or getting car sick.
I plan on going out very, very slowly in the first 2-3 miles, which will be difficult since it is downhill. The idea is to ease into the race and not attack the climb up to Hurricane Point too hard. My goal is to stay behind the 4:30 pace group at least until the halfway point. I think that’s where I went wrong at Oakland – I went out too hard (for the course) and used up all of my energy on the climb up to Montclair.
UPDATE: from the comments that have been made so far, I think I need to clarify what I meant by starting out “very, very slowly”. I’m telling myself that because I don’t want to go out too fast — as I have a tendency to do. I don’t plan on braking just to maintain a “slow” pace — my approach will be to coast down the hill without much effort. If I pass the 4:30 group, so be it. As for the first miles of downhill, here’s what Big Sur veteran Dennis had to say:
OK, back to our regularly scheduled program…
My general strategy is to be fairly chill during the first 20 miles and then really try to race the last 6.2. For Oakland, I focused a lot on enjoying the race, which meant that when things got hard, I gave up rather easily. However, for Big Sur, I’m ready to embrace the hurt and leave it all out on the course. I want to have my cake (“enjoy the course!”) and eat it too (PR!).
So that’s the preview! Anyone else out there running Big Sur on Sunday? I’d love to meet up or say hi. If you’ve run Big Sur before – any tips or advice?