The 21st running of the Big Sur International Marathon is this Sunday. The two of us tend to be very competitive on race day, but in the spirit of sportsmanship, we’ve compiled some advice for our out of town competitors who may be new to the Big Sur course. So if you plan on beating us, just follow these simple guidelines.
Worry a lot about the weather: The fog can be so thick you might lose your way. It might rain the entire morning. And the wind! When it’s not blowing directly in your face, it can potentially blow you right off the road. There are so many conditions beyond your control, the only thing you can do is lie awake worrying about them.
Squeeze in one last run: We know you’re unsure if all of your training was enough. Go reassure yourself by doing a hard workout on Saturday. Try a long run along the coast or a shorter run at race speed. Now you’re ready for sure.
Enjoy a great Monterey restaurant: Take an opportunity on Saturday night to savor some world-class Monterey Peninsula dining. Make a reservation at about 10:00 PM to avoid the dinnertime crowds. Eat a heavy, fattening dinner and consume a bottle or two of our great Monterey County wine. Finish off dinner with some tiramisu, a cheese plate, a B-52 Latte, and a good cigar. You’re worth it!
Liven up the morning bus ride: Drink as much as you can before getting on the bus ride to the start. The 75-minute ride really doesn’t seem that long, and school buses are a lot less bumpy than they used to be. Keep hydrating like crazy on the bus ride. When in doubt – take another drink!
Also, make sure you learn as much as possible about the person next to you on the bus. Talk incessantly and be nosy. You never know, you might find your soulmate.
Best to overdress: Don’t bother with the sweats check in the morning – just wear your warmest clothes for the whole marathon. Don’t believe the hype about moisture-wicking fabrics. You’re better off in a cotton long sleeve shirt, sweatshirt and sweatpants. Wear a rain hat over your stocking cap, so you’ll be ready for cold or rain. Remember: fear the weather!
Experiment a lot: Just because something works for you in training doesn’t mean you should stick with it on race day. Why be boring? Try something different on Sunday. Buy some fancy new clothes at the race expo and wear them in the race. Never had sport beans before? What better time to try them than race day! Break out those new lightweight racing flats you’ve been waiting to wear for the first time.
Fight for position: Line up as close to the start line as possible, so nobody gets in your way. All those people lining up behind the elites are suckers. Of course, when you’re up that far, remember to…
Blast off the start line: The first 4 miles are the easiest on the course. Take advantage and cut as much time as possible off your target pace – it’s like putting money in the bank! Who knows, all that adrenaline and excitement might carry you through the entire race. Run those early miles as fast as you possibly can, because the course gets hillier and harder later. Pacing yourself is for chumps.
Keep your eyes on the yellow line: Remember, your only goal is to run fast. Block out all the beautiful scenery around you – it will only distract from your task. If you want to see the ocean and cliffs and cows, come back another day and drive the road like everybody else does. Don’t even listen to the music. Stay focused on the line in the middle of the road. The race is all that matters
Hurricane Point is bad: Hurricane Point is 2 miles of horrible climbing. It’s best to get it over with as quickly as possible. Charge forward and pass everyone ahead of you. All the walkers will think you’re a total stud (or studette) that way. Those people won’t see you later in the race, so go for it!
Run really fast on the downhills: The best way to make up time from all the uphills is to hammer the downhill sections. Regain any lost time as quickly as you can. All the minutes you lose going up Hurricane Point can be made up by flying wildly down the backside. Run like a maniac!
Embrace the camber of the road: The hardest part of the Big Sur Marathon is miles 21 to 24 through the steep hills of Carmel Highlands. Lucky for you the road starts to slant a lot in this section also. Don’t bother with the flatter portions in the middle of the road - always take the most cambered part on the tangents to save a few extra seconds. Your legs will deal with it later.
Spend some time on D-minor hill at D-major time: The last hill on the course is a slope from Monastery Beach to Carmel Meadows at the beginning of mile 26. It’s such a tough climb that you might as well just sit by the side of the road and cry. On the plus side, there are belly dancers there to keep you company.
Enjoy the ride to the finish: Not many people get to cross the finish line in the “Meat Wagon” – so if this happens, consider yourself one of the lucky ones! Once you’re released from the medical tent, make sure you come up and thank us for our great advice.
Good luck to everyone who is running on Sunday- we wish all of you a wonderful day. We want to hear your stories- good, bad, and unusual- from race day. E-mail us and tell us how you did!