At last! I have obtained enough pictures from MarathonFoto and running buddies to do a recap of the 2011 Big Sur International Marathon.
Race morning began nice and early, around 4:30 a.m. I had it relatively easy – since I did the race as part of the Runner’s World Challenge, I got to take a VIP bus of sorts that didn’t leave the hotel until 5:15 a.m. Most people were taking buses that left at 4:15 a.m. for a 6:45 a.m. start. Yikes!
It was in the 40s and super breezy once we got to the RW Challenge tent, so I spent the time before the race eating pieces of bagel and shivering. (What kind of idiot doesn’t pack even one pair of sweatpants when going to northern California in late April? This kind of idiot.) I ended up getting down to my tank top, shorts, and arm-warmers for the start, which was unpleasant while we were waiting. (I didn’t even bring a garbage bag to hang out in! Have I forgotten all the pre-marathon tricks since last fall?)
I lined up with Meleah, one of the RW Challengers who was coming off a PR performance in Boston. We intended to do 9:30s for the first 10 miles, 9:15s for the second 10, and then whatever we felt like for the last 10K. We hovered closer to 9s for the first five or six miles, and then we lost each other during pitstops. (Meleah went on to finish in 3:49. Amazing, especially so close to a 3:40 in Boston!)
Almost immediately after my pitstop at mile 8, a group of guys from RW caught me. I went by them a few times during the race – since it was an out-and-back with a loop through a park – and it was great to have people on the course yelling “GO LOFTUS.” (They finished around 3:38. Nick ran the exact same time he ran in Boston, down to the second. Bizarre.)
Also around mile 8, I started talking to a guy named Jason from Washington, D.C. It was his first marathon and he was aiming to finish around four hours, just like I was. We fell into a rhythm and managed to hit pretty even splits all the way in to the finish. And I am terrible at even splits! Apparently, somewhere between 9:00 and 9:15 per mile is about what I will do if I am chatting while racing.
The weather ended up being nice, if a little hot for the last 10K or so. The hills were just as brutal as everyone said they’d be – 13 on the way out, 13 on the way back – though the camber of the road bothered me more than the hills. The strawberries they gave out between 21 and 22 were the best strawberries I have ever consumed in my life. And the scenery could not really be captured in pictures, but Jason tried:
I never felt completely awful, and I was able to finish relatively strong. It helped that Bart Yasso was announcing as I finished, and he gave me a really enthusiastic shoutout: “AND HERE’S MEGHAN LOFTUS FROM RUNNER’S WORLD!” That might have been the only time I’ve ever smiled as I crossed the finish line, and unfortunately, there’s no shot of it from MarathonFoto. At least I got a nice post-race shot with my medal and my running buddy!
My official finish time was 3:56:46, and Jason’s a few minutes faster. (He started in the second wave.) Definitely not too shabby, considering the difficulty of the course. It was the fastest-feeling marathon I’ve run, since I was too busy chatting about the episode of How I Met Your Mother in which Barney runs the marathon and loses the ability to get off the subway to notice how far I was running. It was like an extra-long training run for the Pocono Marathon on the 15th, and I didn’t even know it!