Race Report – 2011 Big Sur Half Marathon

The 9th presentation of the Big Sur Half Marathon took place on Sunday, 20 October 2011. It was my 9th time running the Big Sur Half Marathon.

The weather was a bit of concern for people commenting on the Big Sur Marathon’s Facebook page but I was looking forward to rain as long as it wasn’t a huge downpour. As it turned out, the storm passed through overnight and we were left with some residual clouds and the occasional shower.

I left my car at about 0640 to head to the start line because the race day instructions said to be in our corrals by 0645. The corrals seemed to be half full and that made sense when they announced that the start time would be 0705 – instead of 0700 as the race day instructions had said – and that the corrals would go off in waves 3 minutes apart.

The opening festivities were okay. One of the speakers told the runners that we needed to hurt as badly as we’ve ever hurt during the race and that would give us an idea of how our military members felt when they were overseas protecting the United States. I thought it was a silly thing to say because race pain is quite different from the pain of being shot or having limbs blown off by IEDs. That aside, I always get choked up by the National Anthem unless the rendition is particularly horrible, which it wasn’t. I suppose it doesn’t surprise me that there are a lot of people – both men and women – who don’t take their hats off for the singing of the National Anthem. It bothers me but it doesn’t surprise me.

In theory, the wave start made some sense to prevent the congestion in the early miles. In practice, the wave start needs some work. When the gun went off, the volunteers in our corral immediately took down the barrier in front of us and so, of course, we all moved up to the corral in front of us. When my corral reached the start line, we stopped because we knew that our wave hadn’t been called. But the announcer told us to get moving so we started running. We had barely taken 10 steps when the announcer greeted our corral. Disorganized.

The main thing that I didn’t like about the wave start is that I missed seeing the elite runners on their way to the finish line. But I did enjoy having people with me throughout the race, especially at the end.

The race unveiled new mile markers for the race and they were amusing. I missed a couple of the mile markers but saw the majority of them. It certainly gave me something to look at – besides the gorgeous scenery – and to look forward to during the run. I like them much better than the old cello mile markers that the race has used in the past.

The bands that came out to play were really good sports to be out there despite the threat of rain. There seemed to be a lot more spectators cheering us along. The drum band just after the Aquarium is always upbeat and comes at a great time – just after a little hill on the way out and just before the same hill on the way back – but I think they were missing a member or two. The taiko drummers right before the turnaround were not present and that’s too bad. I love the sound of drums when I’m running. I definitely appreciate all of the bands that stayed out there for us slower runners and all of the volunteers who manned the aid stations for us slower runners.

My last couple of miles were run in a light rain. I heard runners around me cursing the rain but my mom has always told me that rain is God’s blessing so I have a very positive view of rain. I really think that the weather was perfect for the half-marathon.

2011 Big Sur Half Marathon Finishers Medal

All of the volunteers on the course were great – big smiles and lots of encouragement. The Team-in-Training coaches who were on the course were very different from the ones at the Nike Women’s Marathon because they offered encouragement to everyone, not just the Team-in-Training participants.

This year, the food tent was very organized because instead of having food that we had to put into boxes, the volunteers had already packed up goodie bags that contained fruit, a cookie, and a juice. Bagel halves were handed out at the rear of the tent. I will say that I missed having bottles of water to pick up because the cups of water are cumbersome to carry through the crowds.

I tried to get a cup of soup because I thought a cup of hot soup would perfectly counteract the coldness from the rain shower but the soup line was long and there was only one soup tent. So I chose not to get soup or beer and instead headed off to the parking garage to make my way home to a well-deserved warm shower and rest.

I look forward to this race every year. I hope that next year the race director will have something special planned for those of us who have run in all ten presentations!

Happy running!

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