Friday, May 6, 2011

The Big Sur Marathon and adventure May 2011

Big Sur Coastline
I just returned to Hawaii after a fantastic marathon adventure! I met my friend Sabine in San Francisco and we embarked on a road trip down Hwy 1 to Monterey for the Big Sur Marathon. This was a unique year due to the fact that the marathon course had to be changed from a point to point to an out and back race as a bridge along the marathon route had been damaged in a storm. We arrived at Monterey and explored this seaside town with it's history made immortal in a book written by John Steinbeck (Cannery Row).
Fisherman's Wharf

We visited Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row and had a wonderful evening in the neighboring town of Carmel which was the start and finish of the race. Clint Eastwood was the mayor of Carmel-by-the-sea from 1986-1988. It's a quaint and gorgeous little village with interesting alley ways and shops as well as an abundance of art galleries and restaurants. We took in the sunset on the beach and watched as surfers clad in thick rubber from head to toe caught very small waves while the last glimmers of the sun shimmered on the golden hued ocean.

Marathon Maniacs

The Marathon: The morning of the marathon was excruciatingly cold for someone like me coming from a tropical climate... it turned out many of the other runners felt the same as at least 100 of us lined the floors of the local Safeway seeking warmth before the start of the race. A big thank you to the management and staff of the store for being so accommodating. The temperature was in the lower 40's degrees F, but we braved the elements and stripped off the layers to run in our Marathon Maniacs tops which turned out to be a great idea because we felt part of the "Maniacs Family" during the race. All the other maniacs out there in their running shirts acknowledged us en route and at the finisher's tent. As the day and the race progressed the weather turned perfect hitting a high in the mid 70's degrees F. I was on fine form due to the cooler weather and found the very hilly course to be easy, the natural beauty to be motivating and the catering to be the best I'd ever experienced in a race. All the way I felt completely stoked and was grinning from ear to ear. It was only at mile 23/37km that my plantar faciitis really flared up to the point of me slowing down quite significantly, but I knew that I only had 3 miles to go and so "bit the bullet" so to speak and ended with a personal best time of 4:20:01. After receiving our unique Big Sur marathon medals we made our way back to Monterey, caught up with my friends Cathi and Fred who had driven their RV up from San Diego so that she could also run the marathon. They had previously done a trip across the USA from west to east coast where Fred cycled the entire distance on his bicycle and Cathi had been the support crew in the RV. We ended the day with a fabulous dinner with them.

Carmel running vistas
 Marathon Highlights:
~ this is one of the most beautiful courses I've ever run a marathon on
~ everytime I looked seaward I was in awe of the beauty and of how lucky I was to be running this particular 26miles/42km
~this race had the most aide stations I've ever encountered on  race. Before I got thirsty another row of water, gatorade, GU, fruit, portapotties without long waiting lines were available with friendly volunteers.
~Music and entertainment along the course was fun with a variety of different bands and a solo Grand pianist playing on the edge of a cliff looking seaward with sweeping views ahead
~mother nature was kind and provided us with absolutely perfect weather
~farm fresh, delicious strawberries were given to us at around mile 20
~the post marathon goodie box of food was the best I've ever had after a race

China Beach, Point Lobos Reserve

Big Sur road trip: The next day we embarked on a road trip along Big Sur. This is one of my favorite places in the world. I had discovered the beauty and tranquility of these magnificent hills covered with their majestic Redwood forests with sheer cliffs plummeting into the Pacific Ocean on a previous camping trip and was once again in heaven being there. Big Sur was the one time home to authors Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac and draws many to her undeveloped serenity for different reasons. From Nephente, boasting a large wood carved Phoenix we gazed upon the spectacular views and drove further to visit the "Secret Garden" art gallery with exotic statues, carvings and 'tree nests' woven from branches, followed by a blissful hike through a Redwood forest. It is a beautiful world we live in!

View from Nephente, Big Sur

San Francisco: I rounded off the marathon adventure with 3 more days in San Francisco which included "Boot Camp" in Golden Gate Park ~ a fun way to keep fit in the city which involved running through the park and doing interval weight training.

The Marin headlands, a perfect place for trail running

 Sabine took me to her favorite trail running areas in the Marin Headlands, a spectacular place across the bay over Golden Gate bridge, very unspoilt and a world away from the concrete jungle of the city ending with a walk through Muir Woods which made my soul feel completely happy and content. The giant and majestic Redwoods in the forest have a very powerful presence and I could not help but feel gratitude towards John Muir, environmental activist in the early 1900's. This is one of my favorite John Muir quotes:
" Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."

Family tree circle ~ Muir Woods

I also explored the fascinating city of San Francisco from Haight Street to China Town an ended my whole experience by dancing Argentine Tango to nuevo tango music and a live band at a venue called Cellspace in the Mission district. What a brilliant end to another epic adventure!!!

"Live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"~ Henry David Thoreau


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