Alex and I ran the Big Sur Half Marathon (http://www.bigsurhalfmarathon.com) this morning down in Monterey, California. Because they are about two miles away, we stayed closer to the event last night. I was a procrastinator, and managed to miss out on rooms in Monterey, so we stayed in Salinas, about 20 miles away.
Monterey holds a big marathon event in April, but they broke out the half-marathon and it is offered as a standalone event in the fall. This was the second annual event, so it's still new, but the organizers did a GREAT job (probably because they're already used to doing the full in the spring).
Unlike larger events like Walt Disney World marathon/half-marathon in January where they want you in the queue 60 minutes beforehand, this was much more casual. Most people didn't line into the starting area until about 15 minutes before the event.
Alex hadn't really trained. And although I hadn't done a lot of long runs, I've been running 5 miles a day, including speed work, as well as lifting weights. It took us about two minutes to get past the starting line once the event started, and off I went! I got a kiss from hubby, who knew he was going to go slower than me.
It was a tad bit chilly, but not too cold. The route goes through Cannery Row in Monterey, and then it starts going along the shoreline. It was misty but still pretty scenic. The course is an out and back, but the turnaround is at 7.5 miles or so, instead of exactly halfway. The fastest runner passed me on his way back when I was just past mile 6. It did "rain" a bit -- it wasn't that bad; it was mostly strong mist. But I was glad I was wearing a visor so my face was protected.
They had GU at the aid station near the turnaround. Although I normally don't eat sugar, I had a packet of chocolate-flavored GU because I knew I could use the energy. Well, with my body not being used to pure sugar, it really got a big boost! All of a sudden, my legs weren't really tired or sore at all, and I got a good rush.
There were timers at every mile marker, and I discovered that I was running faster than I thought. Although my last 3 miles were slower than the earlier miles, I managed to finish at 2:11:21, which is the FASTEST I've ever done a half marathon! Having good, cool weather and a fairly flat course helped a lot.
Not only did we get a nice long-sleeve finisher's shirt (which isn't really a "finisher's shirt" but a "I registered" shirt since they gave it to us at our bib pick-up), finishers got a really nice ceramic medallion on a leather thong. Very nice!
At the finish area, they gave us space blankets, and then they put us through the food tent, where we got free apples, bananas, big cookies, muffins, energy bars, fruit cups, raisins, grapes, and fruit juice. They even gave us a box to hold all the food in! And then we walked out to the award stage area, and they were giving away more stuff! Cups of hot minestrone soup (not bad, and pretty good when you just ran 13 miles and you're kind of cold), and free dark beer! You had to have your bib on, but how cool is that?
All in all, an excellent event. I would recommend it heartily for anyone wanting to do a fun half-marathon. They even have an official walkers' division for those who want to racewalk the event. Monterey is a beautiful little town and it would make a wonderful little weekend trip!