Monterey, CA- Big Sur Marathon! 

I am beyond pumped to share this post about the epic marathon weekend! I didn’t mention the marathon too much on my blog leading up to it because I didn’t know if I would be able to run the race with the new job’s schedule (we work a ton of weekends). BUT I was able to get race day off and lemme tell ya, I’m forever grateful for the beautiful memories that elapsed in that small time frame. I needed this weekend too- as ya’ll know I’ve never been more exhausted or stressed physically and emotionally than this last month-so this was pure therapy.

Last minute my mom (Momma Jill) arranged to fly in for the weekend since DJ couldn’t go to the marathon with his work schedule. However, the day before she flew out she was in the hospital diagnosed with a fractured foot. I insisted  that I would be fine going alone, but I’m selfishly pretty darn glad she was adamant about coming! After all, she is my good luck charm at races! She is one tough cookie, I tell ya what. (shhhhh she isn’t wearing her boot in a lot of pictures- I may not have been the best nurse by allowing that one).

When she arrived Friday evening we headed to Rootstock Wine Bar on Main Street Cupertino.

img_2360img_4948img_4946img_4947img_4950

We ordered some bruschetta to share and a couple glasses of wine. The last time she was here, Main Street Cupertino was still entirely under construction. She was blown away by how much it had evolved! We stopped into 85-degree bakery to visually digest the exotic, massive, and drool-worthy desserts before heading back to the apartment. I will try the calamari ink roll one of these days!

img_4945

We were both pooped and fell asleep pretty early (after some ice cream, of course). DJ had some time in the morning before he had to head into work so we went to Bill’s. Surprise, surprise! It’s basically becoming a weekly tradition. You can read all my reviews about it here, here, or here.

img_5009img_4955img_4954img_4953img_4957img_4956

After a fantastic breakfast, DJ zipped to work and we began our trek to Monterey for the marathon!!!! (I kept thinking back to my and DJ’s our anniversary celebration and it made me miss him lots! During the actual race I passed the place we stayed which was pretty fun).

 

One of my favorite parts about races is the Expo! There is always an exorbitant amount of energy and excitement (plus the SWAG is pretty great too).

img_5015

This expo was pretty small, held at the Portola Hotel and Spa. There were limited vendors, but with the expo’s location there was plenty to enjoy outside anyway. I laughed because in typical Northern California style they had wine samples rather than the CLIF Bar samples you would see at most! For those that want to run this marathon in the future, make sure you stop by the Expo to pick up your Bib #, a bus ticket for the hotel you are staying to the race starting line (there is no access otherwise), and your T-shirt, of course!

img_4961img_4960img_5014

After strolling the expo, my mom and I walked around downtown Old Monterey. This town is so sleepy and quaint, even with all the commotion of the race.

img_4973img_5013img_4979img_4977img_4980

We decided to follow this sign to go to the water. We were quickly drawn into the downtown boardwalk with colorful storefronts, tourist landmarks, and each passing restaurant passing out samples of their individualized “claim-to-fame” recipe of clam chowder. My mom and I sampled all of them and were shocked at, first, how delicious they all were, and second, how different each one tasted!

img_4982img_4983img_4985

I hadn’t seen the show Big Little Lies at this point, but my friend, Kelsey, is obsessed. I started watching it this week with a free month HBO trial and cannot stop. It’s so good.

img_4460img_4987img_4981img_5020img_4988img_4995img_5019img_5018img_4993

They call me ‘The Bird Whisperer’ in these parts

img_4992img_4994img_4986

Around 3 pm we were able to check into the hotel we were staying for the evening- Monterey Tides. I found this place pretty last minute (with not being SURtain if I could make the race) and chose it because it was one of the cheapest I could find on a booking site. We were blown away by how gorgeous this place was- I kept thinking there was some mix up because this honestly underpriced!

img_4998img_4996img_5039img_4997

The hotel attendant said that it may be a couple minutes, so we decided to enjoy some drinks while overlooking the sparkling Monterey waters. My mom and I even saw our first whale!!! It was quite SURendipitious that we were staying at this majestic place!

img_5001img_4999img_5021img_5002

The room was super nice with a beachy feel- Definitely what you would expect from a place named “Monterey Tides”.

img_4672

After dropping our stuff off it was time to head to dinner. In order to not fight driving and parking, we decided to uber to the famous Mediterranean Oasis, Epsilon.

img_5025img_5024img_5027img_5028

From the decor, to the friendly staff, to the unbeatable Greek cuisine- this place was superb on every.single. level.

img_5032img_5030

ATTENTION ALL CARB LOVERS: You need to hear this. I was fascinated with their bread and dip combo. The waitress explained the way they make their dip is by actually putting sourdough bread into a food processor with olive oil, garlic, and salt (perhaps a few other secret ingredients too). Right before she walked away she said, “Just dip that bread into that bread!”. I may have to try making this at home. Talk about a fantastic pre-race carb-load meal!

img_5029

And their hummus…. hands down, no questions asked- the BEST hummus I have ever had. My mom took the first bite and I could tell by the look on her face that it was going to be just that. It was smooth and creamy- absolute perfection.

img_5034

And whenever there is octopus on the menu……

img_5035

Marco Prime’s is still forever my favorite, but this was satiating. It had a grilled flavor and almost tasted like steak. MMMM mm.

We also had to delve into their greek salad, because duh

img_5033

My mom and I split the vegetarian combo plate. Combo plates were created for the indecisive individuals in this world, like myself, so I was ecstatic to see everything we were wanting to try coming on one plate. It had imam byaldi (the “priest fainted” vegetarian eggplant dish), falafel, and dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves with rice and herbs). It all surpassed any greek food I have ever had, but the eggplant dish was particularly out of this world!

img_5036img_5031

And one can never end a mediterranean feast without baklava. Ya’ll know I am a strong believer on having a sugar-laden dessert the night before a race. Good Heavens, I can’t even explain…

img_5037

We headed back to the hotel to watch the peaceful, perfect sunset.

img_4670img_5099img_5042

We were in bed by 8:30 pm and fell asleep almost instantly.

3:30 AM my alarm went off and it was time to race! I was giddy and energized. I downed a cup of coffee and grabbed my No-Cow bar and Boom Chicka pop bag for the bus ride to the race. My mom drove me to the drop off point to pick up the bus shuttle at Embassy Suites (only a couple miles from Monterey Tides).

img_5043-1img_5095

The bus ride was about forty-five minutes- 30 miles south from Embassy Suites to the starting line. The race was a straight shot back north for 26.2 miles. I made some friends during the ride, everyone swapped race stories, goal times, jobs, and hometowns. The camaraderie of the Big Sur runners was unlike other races I have been. We laughed about the fact that this bus ride felt super long and yet we were about to be retracing the trek in just a couple hours. The scenery was kept secret by the dark nightly veil of mother nature, so even if you tried to get a peak of the views out the bus window all you could see was piercing black.

When we finally arrived, we still had about a mile and a half walk to the start. I had no clue where I was, but I just followed the masses of people as they unloaded off the buses.

img_5044

Finally! The starting line came into view.

img_5045

It was crowded. I get it- the forest isn’t exactly conducive to ten-million porta-potties and 4,000 people, but holy smokes, I really felt like a sardine!

img_5097

People lined the paths with coffee in one hand and a banana in the other. I love races for the people too- racing brings together all types. #peoplewatching

They provided fruit, coffee, tea, and water at varying stations around the starting line. They also have a truck for you to drop your bag with warm up clothes or anything else you need before the race that they then drive to the finish line. I loved this system!!! You just put a sticker provided with your bib number in the bag. After the race it was clear where to pick up your belongings and overall a super smooth process.

Now, if you are a runner, you know the STRUGGLE of trying to time the bathroom appropriately with the start time. You don’t want to go too early, but you don’t want to be anxiously waiting too long when everyone else is lined up at the start.

img_5046-1

And then it was time to begin!!! My heart swelled with excitement, my stomach filled with butterflies, and after taking the last couple days off running I was biting at the bit to get going. Considering I hadn’t trained much for this one compared to my other marathons I was hoping to at least finish without an injury.

img_5047-3

We started out in three separate waves, I ran in the second; the weather was pleasantly cool and the air smelled like pine and cinnamon. If there wasn’t enough adrenaline already, Highway One greeted us with the most intoxicating views at every turn. Each picturesque scene of the landscape had a way of taking your breath away while simultaneously giving you a second wind.

img_5051img_5058

I’m quite SURtain this is one of the most magnificent places that exists on planet earth.

img_5054img_5057

During these races is when I feel most myself, where I feel that all is right in the world, and all my cares dissipate with every step.

We embarked the renowned Big Sur bridge at the halfway mark .

img_5053img_5055

They even had a pianist playing whimsical tunes dressed in full performance garb!

img_5056-1img_5049img_5050

Around mile 15 I like to start using Gu Gel (they provide it twice during the race). I have half a packet at about mile 15, 18, 22, and then 24. It works!

img_4725-2img_5052-1

To avoid the head winds, I drafted a few different people throughout the race. Drafting works well, but you have to be pretty secretive about it, or you’ll creep the person you are following the heck out. Let’s chat if you’ve never heard of this. It’s essential for this race and saves SO much energy!

img_5060-1

YesSUR!

img_5059-1

At mile 23 they handed out the best strawberries I have ever had. It was similar to eating pure sugar! I wish I had snagged a picture!

img_5061-1

All done!

img_5062img_4777img_5101

Thank you, Aunt Terry, for the congratulatory beads all the way from New Orleans!!!!

Race Results!

img_5098

This was far off my PR of 3:38, but they say to add 20 minutes to your PR time with how challenging the course is (13th most challenging in the world), so I’ll take it. Plus without training for it and the stops for photo ops, I was happy to break 4 hours!

At the end of the race they handed out boxes of muffins, pretzels, cookies, minestrone soup and Sierra Nevada Beer. After races I’m not very hungry for about an hour- so we walked around a bit, basked in the sun, and then decided to head out. At this point I decided I was starting to feel my stomach growl. Warning: Once the post-marathon hunger begins, it’s insatiable for about three days!

img_5065-1

My mom suggested we go back to the hotel we stayed at the night before for Brunch (it was only about 11 am at this point!). She had breakfast there in the morning after doing yoga and said they had a great menu.

img_5066img_4821

She did not lead us astray! Multigrain avocado toast with poached eggs and a watermelon feta salad helped refuel the carbs, protein, and was still light enough to not upset my somewhat turbulent stomach.

And of course, mimosas are necessary after every long race.

img_5067img_5069img_5070-1

We headed back to the apartment and eagerly awaited DJ to come home so we could go out for a Mother’s Day dinner, since we wouldn’t actually be able to celebrate on the day of!

I was SURprised that I was actually feeling pretty decent after the race. I usually am zonked out for about two days after, but I had that adrenaline still running through my veins!

We decided to go to LB Steakhouse on the Row. I had never been, but DJ said it was delish. We looked over the menu and both agreed it looked like a great place to dine!

img_5074img_5078-1

I’ve walked past LB a trillion times while on the row, and their faux cow skin lined chairs always grab my eyes!

img_5079-1img_5080-1

Isn’t she lovely?!

img_5109

My love ❤

We started with their Spanish octopus, which seemed harmless, until Mama J took a big bite of that pepper right on top…

img_5082-1

Her face went from surprise to a twisted, tortured expression in seconds. She was not just startled by the spiciness of the pepper, but rather in literal pain. I was confused by her reaction because she loves spicy food and can tolerate spice more than most people. (We ask for the “hot” food at Indian restaurants- if that gives you an idea). She flagged down the waiter and could barely talk. She reached for anything on the table to calm the fire overwhelming her mouth. He brought out milk and she said it was helping. I felt horrible, and jokingly said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”. I was also so confused how something they could serve could be that horrendously spicy. I picked up what was left of the pepper and out of curiosity touched it to my tongue. The small portion that I had touched to my tongue felt as though it blistered my tongue (and she ate the ENTIRE pepper). I can do spice with the rest of them, and this was not edible. It turned out there was a mix up- the restaurant meant to order the sweet haberneros, but rather served one of the hottest variations in the world. Let’s just say, this was something we laughed and literally cried about. I think I will forever have trust issues with peppers after this experience.

But the rest of the octopus was great! It sorta reminded me of pasta salad!

DJ ordered lobster bisque- not our favorite (‘Cause naturally I stole a couple sips), but it was still good.

img_5081-1

My mom ordered the seared scallops with misty artichokes and sweet harvest orange butter. I swapped her some of my salmon for a scallop (we classy), and not kidding- one of the greatest scallops ever. I think the only ones I have personally had that has topped it were Farallon’s!

img_5083-1

Steak and appropriately spicy pepper for Deeeej.

img_5084-1

Salmon for me. This really hit the spot. The salmon was perfection and nearly melted in my mouth.

img_5085-1img_5077-1img_5076-1img_4833

After dinner, well I guess more during dinner, we decided Cheesecake Factory’s cheesecake sounded like a perfect finish to a great weekend. We headed across the street and all put in our orders for cheesecake to go- Original for Mama J., Oreo Dream Xtreme for DJ, and Chocolate Hazelnut for myself. I was feeling adventurous and for some reason this flavor sounded so good. I can officially say it may be my new favorite. I can’t believe it doesn’t get more love! It has such a nice moosey texture mixed with the fudgey chocolate and sprinkles of coated hazelnut. I will be getting this one again!

img_5086

After savoring our Cheesecake, we headed to sleep. Monday, Mom J. had to leave at 4 am for the airport, and I was up at 5 for work. I was supposed to have Tuesday off (which I was looking forward to rest my legs), but I ended up having to work Monday-Wednesday. I think it’s by the grace of God I SURvived because I do not know how I made it through those shifts at work!

But I do have to mention- I worked with lumbar drains this week and it was one of my favorite days yet. I am getting more in the groove of actually being a neuroSURgical nurse, and while the learning curve is steeper than the hills of Big Sur, I am feeling more competent. I also passed the EKG exam I have been studying for the last couple weeks!!!! Hence, I was able to care for my first tele patient this week and loved it! This also means I am officially done studying in all my free time and I can catch up on your blogs- watch out- I’m about to blow up ya’lls notifications and I cannot wait… I can’t thank you all for your encouragement through this crazy adjustment in life.

Last- if anyone has any questions about the race feel free to leave a comment or contact me. I know lots of you are runners!

Oh, oh, oh! AND major congratulations to my other blog ladies- Tara at Runandlivehappy and Taralynn at SimplyTaralynn for both annihilating their half marathons!!!! ❤

Blog Birthdays in May:

Kimberlee at anotetohugette

Katy at katyslifestory

I absolutely adore these two lovely ladies. Their writing and stories are inspirational, and they have the kindest hearts. I hope you two have wonderful birthdays this month!

xo ❤

signature-1