Completing the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge ( Big Sur Marathon 2013)

I am back from California and ready to share my experience at the Big Sur Marathon!

Wednesday April 24- Travel day for me .

Thursday April 25- Up bright an early and ready for a run.  Ran along Pacific Grove Peninsula. The weather was great and the run was peaceful. I saw many tourist taking pictures and walking along the beach.

I was invited to attend the Carmel Chamber reception for the new Big Sur Race Director and kick off for race weekend later that evening.  The reception was held at Homescapes, which was owned by the president of the Carmel Chamber of Commerce who also works hospitality and VIP functions for race weekend. This was a social event where I got to meet the famous “Piano Player”, listen to the Race Director speak, and was introduced to other board members and staff, and the caterer who provided the spread! There was also a model of the famous Bixby bridge that we would be running across on race day.  

big sur piano player
1. Me in front of the model of the Bixby bridge. 2.The piano player, Michael Martinez, that would be playing along
 the course at the half way point. 3. President of the Carmel Chamber of Commerce, Thompson Lang.
Rooftop terrace at Vesuvio
Later that night I was invited to go to dinner at Vesuvio. 
 If you ever get a chance to visit Carmel California, I highly recommend this restaurant. The staff was friendly, the service was great, and we got right in with no wait! The atmosphere was very warm and inviting. We were seated on the rooftop terrace amongst the glow of the fire pit and deck lighting.  We started with a shrimp and avocado salad, the gnocchi, and then a goat cheese, basil, and pine nut pizza.  Absolutely delicious!!!!  After all that food, it was time to call it a night!

Friday April 25- Another morning up early and went for an easy run along pebble beach.  On my way there I was amazed to see the deer freely running along the same path I was.  They seemed so peaceful and not scared. I thought this was a beautiful sight because where I’m from, you don’t see this much. People always want to shoot deer, not let them roam carefree.
Later in the afternoon I went to the race expo. I helped out at the Big Sur booth that was accepting donations for the Boston tribute shirts and pins.  A Boston tribute banner was created here as well. To see how Big Sur was paying tribute to Boston, see my other post here…………..
Big Sur Marathon pays tribute to Boston
lacey balliet
Also at the expo I picked up my race packet and pasta party ticket. This expo was not as big as the Boston expo, but I would say it was a little bigger than Disney.  It was two floors. The large size of the expo may be attributed to how many races were going on that weekend.  In addition to the Big Sur Marathon there was also a marathon relay, a 21 miler, a 10.6 miler, a 9 miler, 5K and a 3K kids run. It was nice to see all these race options available for all ability levels.  
I shopped first at the Big Sur merchandise area. I bought a cool pink Big Sur shirt, a white zipper down, and a pair of socks!  The stand also sold some great Christmas ornaments with the Big Sur scenery.

This was the Runner's World Challenge area.

                                                                  They had a massage booth.

                                                            And some tasty Big Sur wine!
After the expo on Friday, I did a little shopping in downtown Carmel.  I stopped at a cute little wine shop and had a tasting. 
Along my way I ran into this little guy. Being a dog lover myself, I couldn’t resist taking a picture. His owner said he was exhausted from a long walk earlier. It made me miss my Labrador back home.
Saturday April 27

I went back to the expo today and spent all day at the different clinics that were offered.

Clinic title: What are your questions?:  This clinic was a panel discussion featuring Big Sur runners who answered questions on how to tackle the Big Sur course.  The race director showed us a video of the course and told us what to expect and where to take caution. Other racers asked questions about attire and weather conditions.

Clinic title: Bart Yasso: Bart is the chief running officer of Runner’s World.  He spoke to us about his years of experience running Big Sur and how we can improve our time and still enjoy the race. Bart has run on all seven continents. He recognized all the B2B challenge participants by inviting us up on stage.

jeff galloway

Clinic title: Jeff Galloway: I particularly wanted to go to this clinic because as you probably already know, Jeff is the official trainer for the Run Disney events.  That’s where I first met Jeff.  I was able to meet him again before the clinic and got some individual running advice. During the clinic, he spoke a lot about his Run-Walk method. He mentioned that “tough” courses don’t have to be “tough” if you tackle it the right way. One of my favorite sayings that he said was “I’ll help you to run until you’re 100 years old.  After that, you’re on your own!”

Clinic title: Boston 2 Big Sur with Dean Karnazes: ( my buddy!) I was so excited to see Dean again after meeting him in Boston. He told some crazy stories such as the times he runs a marathon before getting his kids off to school, then doing speed work in the afternoon!   He was a bit late for one of the earlier clinics because his flight was delayed. He had mentioned that if he would have just ran instead of taking the plane, he would have arrived on time!  It’s not unusual for Dean to run hundreds of miles at one time. Crazy right? ( or is this dedication?)   Topics Dean spoke about included how to stay injury free by cross training and how to have a clean diet.  Near the close of the clinic he also recognized those of us who ran the Boston Marathon.  He asked us all to come up on stage.          
After the clinics, I got to speak with Amby Burfoot.  Amby was the winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon and editor of Runner’s World. He was interested in hearing stories from the individuals who also ran Boston.  It was nice to sit down with him one on one and share my Boston experience.  He made me feel very comfortable while talking about this emotional time.  He even requested that I send him a picture of me at the Boston finish line.

Pasta Party (Saturday evening)
The Big Sur pasta party was held at the Monterey Marriott. I met some great people at my table that were also participating in the B2B challenge. They told me their heartwarming stories about how close they came to the finish line in Boston but were unable to finish.  In addition to a great meal of pasta, chicken, salad, and cake, we heard some pep talks through board members and directors.

Sunday April 28
lacey balliet
Race Day!  For days prior to the race I was debating on what I wanted to wear. I heard that it might get warm mid race but in the morning it would be chilly. I also heard that when you get around Hurricane point it gets windy, so don’t discard that long sleeve shirt quite yet.   While talking about attire at the clinic, it was suggested that arm sleeves would be a good choice. Unfortunately I left mine at home and I was too dang cheap to buy myself a new pair! So a long sleeve shirt would have to do. I wore the long sleeves in hopes that I would throw it away somewhere along my run once I became warm enough to just run in my tank top.  I also had a sweatshirt that I would wear and toss at the starting line.  At my previous marathons I have always taken my own water bottle so I don’t have to stop at the water station. In my mind, I think this is my time to pass runners who end up stopping.  After recently reading a book about running and hearing about other runner’s hydration plan, I heard that it doesn’t take as much time to stop for water as I thought.  Since I wasn’t doing this race for time and I knew there were plenty of water stops along the way, I thought I would try this method out. Besides, I was told to enjoy the scenery on this course. So this meant I either had room for the camera or the water bottle. The camera won!

Shortly after being escorted to the start the national anthem played, we held a moment of silence for Boston, and then we were on our way!  Having been proud of myself for my good time in Boston, I did not think that I would do as well on this course because of the many hills and change in elevation. I was told just like Boston, to hold back a bit the first half. Eventhough with all the hills, if we tackled this course smart, it didn't have to be so tough. Know when to take it easy uphill, then take advantage of the downhill parts.

 By the time I got to mile 5 I was getting pretty warm so I took my long sleeve shirt off, but I was hesitant to throw it because I remembered what I heard at the expo the day before and though I should save it in case it got breezy at hurricane point.   Happy I kept it because by the 10K point I was putting it back on.  I was in such a hurry to put the shirt back on that I accidentally put it on inside out. I didn't bother to fix it because I figured I would be taking it off again soon anyway.  As it turned out, I ran the remaining 20 miles with the shirt on inside out.
This was the first race that I ever took pictures during the run. I figured I wasn't going for a PR so I might as well enjoy the scenery.
The farmer who owned this land sat out on his property to make sure none of the runners made a "pit stop"
26 miles to the Monterey Peninsula, 71 miles to Santa Cruz, 143 miles to San Francisco.
Started to get chilly here, so put my long sleeve shirt back on.
mile markers
Of course Pinocchio is lying, this was NOT the last hill! 
big sur marathon
Taiko Drummers around mile 10.
On my way to hurricane point! ( and they don't call it that for nothing, very windy!) 
The piano player played the baby grand at the halfway point.
Crossing the Bixby Bridge.
After mile 19 I was hoping I didn't run into that "imaginary wall".  I was still feeling good so I thought it may be time for me to stop taking pictures along the course and pick up my speed a little.
I crossed the finish 3:51. ( I'm standing under the B2B banner)
 With my B2B sweatshirt that was given to all participants doing the challenge and both medals. One for Big Sur and one for doing Big Sur AND Boston. 

Back of Big Sur sweatshirt.
B2B post race tent.
Wine at the VIP tent.
big sur marathon
With race founder Bill Burleigh and Monterey County Sherriff. 
lacey balliet
Later that evening  I was invited to the Big Sur Marathon's Post Race Party.
I definitely think this race should be on every runner's bucket list.  Even though the course was challenging, the scenery made up for it.  I want to thank the Race Director and all the volunteers for putting on such a great race and the events associated with it.
Thanks for reading.  Until next race, L


  1. GREAT job!!! I would love to do this race- I love Carmel, CA. I lived in Monterey for 2 years when I was younger and have missed it so I need an excuse to go back and visit :)

  2. Oh Yes Lauren, You definitely need to do it. Especially if you use to live there.
    Thanks for reading!

  3. It looks so gorgeous! I used to trek around Monterey as a kid during family vacations. I'm definitely thinking about the smaller distances - I'm not ready to commit to a full marathon yet.