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First I was able to finagle a deal with the Hertz Rental Car place and get a Nissan 350Z sports car for the trip. I had fun with it and Michelle will get over being mad at me sometime.
Michelle and I hit the expo on Saturday and picked up our bibs and purchased our finisher shirts. We then went south and drove the course. I think that's when I first upset Michelle as I drove the 350Z car along the twisty roads along the coast. It sure seemed like a long drive to Big Sur where the race started. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and touring Cannery Row.
We met for dinner with Donald, Dori, Dave - Dori's husband, Darrell, and Tyler - Darrell's son. After being seated Donald responding to a challenge I put up to him on his recent Nuun posting broke out a tube of Nuun tablets and passed them out to Darrell, Tyler, and myself. The challenge asked if Donald was tough enough to let a Nuun tablet dissolve on his tongue. Well apparently he is. Darrell, Tyler, and yes me are also in the ranks of dumb ass runners who have let a Nuun tablet dissolve on their tongue. We should start a club. Dave, Michelle and Dori were witness to and also intelligent enough to decline the challenge. I'm not so sure we had the right tablets to compliment the pasta but our meal was great! Perhaps it was the company. Dori, Michelle, and I were running the marathon. Tyler and Donald were running in the marathon relay. Darrell is on the last bit of recovery from a stress fracture of his tibia, and Dave was the only sane person who has not allowed running to permeate his soul.
We had a good nights sleep and bounced out of bed at 3:00AM to get ready and go catch the 4:15 bus to the Big Sur starting line. To prove that this was a special weekend we were loaded on a Short Bus to the start. Little did I know how appropriate this was based on my race performance. It was a clear morning without any fog. Donald being the local and resident guide told me that the weather does not get any better for this race as it was that day. Having to sit for two hours waiting for the start was not something I was looking forward to but surprisingly it was warm enough that we all sat outside with comfort. Ahhhh California! It was a bit of a panic at the start because it seemed like they didn't start lining everyone up on time. People continued to pour from the waiting area onto the course start as the 6:15 hour quickly approached. Buzzards circled overhead. We didn't miss the official start time by very much if at all. The start was preceded by the National Anthem sung by a local entertainer who while a bit cabaret showed his ability to go from the low ranges to the high ranges. He made the song his own. His second song, no wait he didn't sing a second song... I'm so confused!
The course was beautiful. There were sections with wind but I tucked behind some of the taller runners and drafted through these sections. The drummers at the start of the Hurricane Point two mile climb where awesome and inspiring. The views were stupendous, and I was stupid. Looking back I ran several 7:10 - 7:15 pace miles. I ran a 7:30 the first mile up Hurricane Point and a 7:20 the second mile. I continued to goe fast on the downhills (declines for those in Canada). As we headed to the bridge I looked ahead and saw a runner with a pack on. This guys muscle definition in his legs was incredible. As I caught up to him I realized it was Dean Karnaze the author of Ultramarathon Man. I ran with Dean for a couple of miles. He had run from the finish line to the start the same morning of the race and was now running back to the finish for a round trip with 26.2 extra credit miles for his training. He is getting ready to run the Gobi Desert race series. He asked me what I had coming up and I said the Death Race. I was feeling OK during this time so I left Dean in my wake and continued toward the finish line. Unfortunately I soon started to feel "adult onset marathon cramping" in my legs. I met up with Donald at some point before the strawberry aid station where they served chilled fresh strawberries. Yum Yum! Donald pushed me when I didn't have much left. He's fast, in shape and totally ready for Miwok! We were probably going way too fast but I'm certain in the end it really didn't have much effect on my overall outcome. In fact it probably helped keep me from starting my slowdown sooner. I started going through a very difficult time fighting cramps in my inner thighs from the road camber and calf cramps. I had to start a run walk routine that lasted much longer than I would have liked. Donald went back to find another friend that was behind us to run him in as it seemed I was destined to do a death march. While I was running and walking I started eating Gu and downed to more S-Caps. It didn't take very long and I was able to do a fairly quick shuffle instead of the run walk. I managed to finish within my "A" plan time with three min. to spare at 3:47. BTW, DK passed me in the last couple of miles.
The finishing medals are unique and appear to be cast from some sort of thermosetting urethane with a leather neck strap. The finishing area was well stocked with food when I came in but apparently got depleted before Michelle was able to finish. There was a beer garden at the finish but I chose not to partake. At the five hour mark I started back up the course to meet with Michelle. As I walked up the course I cheered the runners on and promised them that there were no more hills! I had a lot of fun and enjoyed encouraging the runners and congratulating them on a job well done. I was surprised to meet up with Michelle just a mile and a half from the finish. She really crushed the course when you consider she ran one of her better times on this tough hilly course. We ran in together until we got into the controlled finish area and I went around to meet her at the finish line food area.
We met a few new Marathon Maniacs from Canada and other parts of the US at the race but there was not a major presence. The MM jersey's are a great way to meet new people with similar interests.
Michelle and I caught a bus back to Monterey and were lucky enough to have it drop us off at our hotel rather than walking the half mile from the pickup and drop off point downtown. We got cleaned up and went on a mission to find a good burger and fries. We found a place on Cannery Row and had an early dinner. We met up with Dori and Dave at the local Peet's Coffee later in the evening and enjoyed a cup and some conversation.
I left Michelle on her own in Monterey on Monday and made some sales calls to some prospective customers I had researched on the Internet. It was a fairly productive day and I was able to avoid any major traffic issues and get back to Michelle around 6:00 PM. Tuesday was dedicated to travel which started with a really great breakfast in downtown Monterey.
It's good to be home but we sure had a great time at this Marathon. I would encourage you to consider this race if you have not had the chance to run it before. It's not a PR course but it truly is one of the most beautiful courses I've ever run.
Thanks for reading!