Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Big Sur-The Last 6.3

So I left off at mile 13.7. I was baffled by the sign, what is the significance of 13.7? I had no idea. Despite the pain I was in the miles were rolling by. Before I knew it I was at mile 14! Oh yeah, it was only .3 miles away from the LAST marker....but still.

You can't really read it but it says, "In my country we call that walking." Yeah, we call it walking here too...or maybe dragging, or even crawling. There was certainly no running happening at this point for me.


I kept doing the math in my head and realized I was on track for a very slow finish, if I were to finish at all. My mind was racing with all sorts of thoughts, do I even want to finish if it's a 7 hour finish? I mean, really my pace was between 14 and 17+ min per mile. Up to mile 10 I was doing pretty well, staying between 9:30 and 11:00 min/mile. But it all went downhill as I physically traveled UP hill.

At least the course was beautiful and there was fun stuff to see along the way as far as support. Like these strange, hip hoppy alien dudes....with their turn tables.

They made me smile, but as I got closer I kind wish I was able to run a little faster by them instead of gimping by at a snails pace. They were kind of creepy, in a funny weird train wreck kind of way.


I continued on. Making a plan in my head, trying to decide what to do. Pretending I was not really hurting that bad. I looked behind me at one point to see if I was last. Not yet.


It is so hard when you feel good, when your muscles are aching to run and your mind wants to run, it was like my mind was saying "Come on! Run! What are you doing?" And I would give in and try to run but stop immediately. Mile 14 is where I knew there would be no more running. I tried to walk fast, I tried mall walking. It was painful.


I came up on Mile 15. It was disheartening to know the finish line was still 11 miles away. That is pretty far when you know there is no more running. When you are moving sometimes at a 17 min/mile pace.

I kind of stopped taking pictures around mile 15. I was disappointed. People would ask me as they ran by if I was ok, if I needed anything, or if I wanted them to send a bike, medic, or course official back. I always declined, insisted I was ok, only suffering from a bruised ego and shattered pride. One very nice couple leap frogged with me for a while. They were in no hurry, they would run ahead, stop and stare and admire the beautiful scenery, I'd gimp on by, then they would pass me by again. The husband asked me if I was ok at one point when I was leaning over, head down, hands on my knees and tears in my eyes. I looked up and he said to me, with such empathy I was shocked, almost mesmerized, like he could look into my soul, "Just enjoy the course. You're here, it's beautiful. If you're going to be stuck on a course for hours it might as well be this one. It doesn't get better than this." He was right. I was looking at the stupid ground when the world around me was beautiful. The hills were green, the ocean was crystal blue with white caps, the rocks were a stark contrast as the waves rushed up and out. It can't get better than that. I thanked him and he and his wife eventually disappeared from view.

With my new attitude I resolved to walking. Mile 16 came up and I just kept wondering if I could make it 10 more miles.

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Then came Mile 17.

I stopped shortly after the 17 mile mark at the aid station, for the first time. I asked the lady if she had any icy hot and she rubbed my leg down with muscle rub. I couldn't feel a thing, it was numb from shin to thigh. It didn't help. I asked her where the next aid station was. Mile 20. Ok. Three more miles. I could make it three more miles. I thought. I hobbled on through the water stop and continued down the road.

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Mile 17 was uneventful, but beautiful....except for the early 20 something's standing out in front of their jillion dollar home offering shots of whiskey, jager, and whatever else. I considered taking a shot, with the hopes it would numb the pain, like in the cowboy days when they would take a shot of whiskey before digging out a bullet or an arrow. But I gimped on by as a guy in front of me circled back for seconds....

And then there was mile 18...

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That's all I got for mile 18. And then Mile 19....and 20. I don't really remember mile 19 at all except for the fact that I knew I was going to call it quits at 20. I also thought maybe, hopefully it was mile 20 where they give out "The Most Delicious Strawberries in the World".  I knew I needed to get to the finish so I wouldn't miss J-Ninja and her SIL who had to catch a flight out of SFO later on in the day. I accepted the fact that there was no use in hobbling on to the finish. 6 more miles never seemed so far in my life.

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When I got to 20 there were no strawberries. They were at Mile 23.....I then asked the aid station if there was a shag wagon. To my disappointment they said no but one would roll by in the next hour or so. I figured if I had to wait an hour I might as well be hobbling. So I hobbled on...then discouraged because I had mentally prepared myself to quit. If I hobbled on to mile 23 I may as well go on to 26.2....but I was hurting. Who knew quitting would be so hard?

I came up on about 6 bikers, what were they?Course officials? Medics? I guess. They were circled up in the other lane talking and I hobbled over to a female who was only partially participating in the biker banter. She looked at me and asked if I needed help. I denied needing real medical attention, after all I just just gimped 10 miles, I wasn't bleeding or dying. I just asked her about a shag wagon. There happened to be a Fire Rescue pickup cruising by at that moment. She flagged them down and after some confusion and clarification they decided they could in fact transport me on up to the next shag wagon that was at mile 23. As I climbed into the back of the Fire Rescue truck I felt sad, disappointed, and defeated. The fire(wo)men were very nice. They asked me questions about the run, the pain, how many marathons had I done, where was I from....when I told them NC they immediately understood my disapointment. Neither one of them were runners, one had been and proceeded to tell me how her doctor told her to stop running if she wanted to be mobile in her older age. I mentally scoffed at her doctor's ignorance....or jerky attitude anyway. Either way her story was not helping my worry about my injury.

As we creeped along I told them I was looking out for my friends and sure enough around mile 22.5 we saw them! I yelled out "There they are!" The driver asked, "Do you want out!?" Uh....YES? No really, I seriously wanted out! I knew it wouldn't be right if I got out and finished after riding for 2.5 miles! I said, "Sure, take my D-Tag and I'll go from here." But the other lady said no...which was actually fine by me. I couldn't have stuck with them for 3.5 miles anyway. It made me happy to see them still plugging along, looking good, and doing it! I was proud and happy for them!

As we rolled up on Mile 23 the Fire Rescue Truck stopped and told me I had to transfer to the shag wagon, a big old white passenger van. As I went to get out of the truck my knee completely buckled and I fell, catching myself by the shoulder strap of the seat belt. Humiliating. The driver of the Shag Wagon got out and helped me into the van. A fire man gave me a space blanket because I was shivering. He asked me if I needed anything, which I didn't really, just needed to get to the finish.

We started to make our way to the finish but first had to pick up a girl who had completely passed out. This is the last picture I took...Me in the Shag Wagon heading to the finish line.

As we came to the finish line there were people EVERYWHERE. I wanted to disappear, to melt into the seat, put the space blanket over my head. The guy in the Hawaiian shirt had to get out and part the crowd so they could get me closer to the medical tent. They tried really hard to get me to accept a wheelchair....UGH. No way on earth would they catch me in a wheelchair unless a bone was sticking out of my skin. They handed me off to a PT in the med tent and the rest is history. Two Ibuprofen, bags of ice saran wrapped to my leg, no medal....hobble of shame to the finish area to beg for my fair share of post run refueling food.

I didn't have to wait too long for J-Ninja and her SIL to come rolling in. They looked good and accomplished. Of course they were bummed for me and SIL held back her own empathetic tears. She had been in the same DNF boat only two weeks before in TN. She understood. But she came back and finished a tough marathon on this day. J-Ninja too had fought a battle on the course. Beginning at Mile 20 her IT Band flared up and wiped out months of PT to get her to the point where she could run pain free. Big Sur was a battle ground on this day and I surrendered. But I must say I am proud of my effort because I know I could not have done anything more, or different, or better. On top of the pain and injury it was a tough course with weather and hills. I would say this the most technical marathon I have attempted to date and I am already strategizing for my re-match....

So here are the Garmin Stats:

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So, there you have it. My complete Big Sur race recap....

I did go to the doctor today about my knee. It's not great news but it's not terrible either. But this has been long enough and I'll fill you in on that next time....


  1. Hugs to you. Sorry about your DNF. Totally understand the not wanting the wheelchair unless the bone is breaking thru skin.
    I really hope your knee gets better soon.
    You will bounce back from this DNF with an awesome marathon time as soon as that knee heals up. I'd suggest Seattle RnR but that might be too soon. If you ever want to take a trip to Idaho we have a few fall marathons :)

  2. So sorry about the DNF but you did the right thing and your knee will heal and you will run it again! Your strong, and you should be proud of what you did accomplish!

  3. You gave it all you got. And I know you made the smart decision. Sucks, but now you'll be able to come back stronger and now you know what you're up against!

  4. Heart wrenching to read this. You can tell through your words what fight you had, and that you left absolutely everything you had on that course. And you should be so damn proud of that.

    Get yourself healed up, and I just know you'll be back kicking ass soon. Lots of love..

  5. My eyes teared up several times reading this. I can't imagine how hard it was for you to make the final decision. Good luck in healing your knee and getting back out there running soon.

  6. Sorry about the DNF but sounds like it was the right decision with the pain you were in during the race. Hope the news about the knee is OK.

  7. My GOD that mile 10-12 hill is big!! No wonder they had the mountain climber on the mile sign.

    It'll feel better next year when you annihilate the course!! Until then, heal up!! I mean it.

  8. I have driven that highway and I wasn't sure our truck and camper would make it! It's beyond tough. I think you're very brave to make the right call and share your story with us. Just remember that you're awesome, okay?

  9. The pics look like a beautiful course. Too bad it turned into a sufferfest. Take time to rest.

  10. Big hugs! I am sure this was hard to write, but it's good that you did. Whether you know it or not, you were SUPER tough out there and kept going long after many would have quit. But stopping when you did was the smart thing for your long term health and long term running. I am so sorry about your knee and hope that it heals quickly. Hang in there! There will be more races, more medals, and more victories and they will be that much sweeter after this experience.

  11. You are strong and REAL! Thanks for writing this. Sometimes in bloggy world we try to push through but listening to your body and being will to get back up again is HUGE! HUGS and HEALING!

  12. Sending big hugs your way girl, what a race! :( I'm so sorry the day played out the way it did.

  13. I'm over from healthy strides. I cried reading this post. I did the big sur half in november and seeing the photos brought me right back. I'm soooo sorry that you got hurt and couldn't finish. I think you are invredibly awesome -what an extremely difficult decision to do what was right for your body but so hard for your heart. Hugs and healing!


You're pretty much awesome!!


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