And it was amazing to see in person! The pacific coast greets you with the sound of waves crashing around you. The gorgeous green mountains and jagged rocky cliffs cascading into the sea - it's as if you're running through a painting! Just purely breathtaking. Combine all those views with the fresh, spring smells of juniper trees also. Just awesome! As beautiful as the race was, it was also brutal. I'm actually glad we "only" had to run the 21 miles! Those hills were brutal...and non-stop! And...this was Michael's longest run plus a challenging course to boot! I'm so proud of him!
We flew into Monterey on Friday afternoon and stayed at the Merritt Inn, a family-owned B&B. It was so cute and quaint. I was so glad that my fellow MRTT runner, Jacy, discovered this place! Jacy and her husband were staying there as well. We were completely within walking distance of everything! After checking in, Michael and I walked around the neighborhood and grabbed a bite to eat at Alvarado Street Brewery and ran into other fellow Savannahians - Michael and Leann. So crazy to travel across the United States and still run into folks from your hometown! After dinner, we found an old dive bar (recommended by our waitress), Alfredo's, and had a few drinks before calling it a night. We love a good dive bar!
The next morning, Michael and I went over to the expo to grab our race packets and I was able to meet up with a fellow Instagram and run blogger friend, Gregg (@nycsweat). It was so cool to finally meet "instabuddies" in person! Wished we could've hung out more! We'll have to hook up in November for the NYC Marathon!
After the expo, Michael and I killed some more time exploring Monterey before my friend Stephanie, flew in from Austin, to stay with us. She came in around the same time as Jacy and her husband, Joel. They were all running the marathon. We also met up with another friend running the marathon, Thomas, who used to live in Savannah and is now in Salt Lake City. It was like a mini Savannah reunion! We had lunch on the historic fisherman's wharf and then walked over to a British pub, Crown & Anchor, for a few beers before calling it an early night to prepare for the race.
We got back to our rooms and set our alarms. Stephanie, Jacy, and Joel had to leave a tad bit earlier because the marathon and 21-milers had separate shuttles to the start. Once we got to the start (4:30 am), Michael and I huddled around trying to stay warm. The temps were in the 40s, but the wind had quite a bite! We had a mini yoga session before the race start and then we were off! The 21-milers started 15 minutes earlier (6:30) at the marathoner's 5-mile mark.
As the race began, we made our trek on the Pacific Highway. I was like a kid in a candy shop - I couldn't get enough of the scenery and views! It was sensory overload! Luckily my friend, Chris, let me borrow his GoPro battery extender and selfie stick. I'm so happy to have used it for this race! There were so many captivating "Kodak" moments and for once, Michael agreed that I should stop to take pictures!
It was so peaceful seeing all the green foliage and cows in pastures with the Pacific Ocean in the background. I can't even describe all of its beauty. You have to experience it yourself! The waves violently crashing into rugged cliffs jutting out from the earth. The sun hitting certain parts of the mountaintops. I was in awe. As we continued running, I started to anticipate Hurricane Point's incline, a 2-mile long up a 550-ft ascent. I was counting down the mile markers and knew it would be our 5th mile. Surprisingly, it ended up being windy versus one long climb. The sound of the synchronized Taiko drummers helped us with our momentum up the hill. Once we survived those brutal 2 miles. we were rewarded with the glorious historic Bixby Bridge. I was anxiously awaiting this part of the run as the website teased us with pictures after pictures of the course. I was going to witness it in real life - FINALLY! I was surprised that it was actually shorter than I thought. Michael and I got a great selfie shot with Bixby Bridge and the ocean in the backdrop! I also got the cutest picture with Michael Melendez, the guy who plays the baby grand piano, right after you pass Bixby! It was so cool!
We passed so many beautiful homes graced on these cliffs. All I could think about was how lucky these people are (and rich) to be able to have a place with such spectacular views! Residents came out to cheer us on as we admired their beautiful homes.
Then...it got to a point where I stopped looking at scenery and was just ready for us to cross the finish line. It was cool to see the elites pass us by and some of the marathoners were starting to pass us too. I could feel that we were pushing ourselves a little faster. After another onset of hills and more hills, Michael was running out of gas and we were both tired of running up all these hills that seemed to never stop. We started our mantras and encouraged each other to get to the finish. Our bibs had our names on them so it was nice to hear the volunteers cheer us on. It gave us that extra push!
We were so happy to finally see the finish line arch and before we knew it, we were running through the chute and had medals around our necks! FINALLY! We ran Big Sur!!
It was an amazing experience and by far the most gorgeous race I've done to date. I'm so proud of Michael for getting it done! I would totally recommend you sign up for next year's lottery and get in if you can! It's super organized and one that needs to be at the top of your race bucket list!