Glass City To Big Sur!

April ended up being a big month for running!  Both in total miles covered and two of the finest races of the year for me.  I ran 120 miles in the month of April and did my last full marathon ever.  I swore years ago that I’d never put myself through everything it takes to do a full marathon.  Then…Big Sur International Marathon happened!  18155864_10209150280216097_4137739708225761934_o

The ultimate in bucket list races on the planet…really!  If you have the desire to run at least a 21 mile race, the Big Sur is an absolute must for any runner!  The course is drop dead gorgeous from start to finish!

Calling it challenging is truly an understatement.  Rolling hills and the ever-changing tilt of the road will make any runner question whether they’ll make it the full distance.  This race has you waking up at a crazy early hour to catch a bus at about 3:30 a.m.  From there you’re hauled the entire course from Carmel, CA all the way to Big Sur for the starting line.  Once there you get yourself comfortable on a slab of ground, finish hydrating, snacking, etc and then just wait (and wait) for the gun to go off.  It’s kind of a runner’s village.  Bodies are all over the place – eating, stretching and chit-chatting.  Potties are all around the village…lol!  This is always a welcome sight when you’ve had your “runner’s routine” thrown off by the early hours.  The first call for Wave 3 to line up comes at about 6:15 a.m. and from there they go down to the super fast people and the “Elite” runners.  Once everyone is bunched together, they start rolling out the waves every 5 minutes.  Karla and I went out in wave number 2 and I have to tell you…I thought my heart was going to explode with excitement!  So many things were running through my head.  Could I make the full distance?… Would I beat the sweepers who pull you off the course with a cut off time of 6 hours?… And most importantly, did I train enough to handle the beating my body was about to take?  All those questions and more seemed to just fade away as the views of the course started to catch you.  I was lost in the beauty of the California coastline from the word go!  There were people in all areas of the course to cheer you on, feed you, make sure you had enough water or Gatorade plus the all important first aid areas if you had any issues.  Bands playing, guitars cranking, a huge group of people playing drums and at the half way point…a gentleman playing a Grand Piano!  Yeah…a piano! 18157979_10211196024370111_1813955384630513255_n Breathtaking!  I have never enjoyed a race so much in my entire 32 years of running!

By mile 19 I had developed a stomach issue caused by GU.  I know better than to use the stuff for high mileage races but for some reason grabbed one at an aid station anyway.  By mile 21 it seemed to have faded away and by mile 21.2, Karla and I knew that we had enough time in the bank that we could walk the rest of the way in and beat the cut off time. 18157190_10211196028570216_3846343117360549278_n So for “most” of the last few miles we walked and just enjoyed everything that this course had to offer.  We did pick up and cross-country shuffle on a few of the down hills and of course towards the end when you could hear them calling out names.  I took my bride by the hand and we crossed the finish together!  Strong and happy!

I fell in love with this race and Carmel, CA in general.  I will try to return and run the 21 miler or one of the other numerous distances they have to offer.  I will absolutely return to Carmel, CA as I believe Karla and I have some unfinished adventures awaiting us there.

Now to back track a touch…  The Sunday prior to leaving for California we ran in the Glass City Half Marathon.  It fit into our training schedule and hey… it’s home turf!  The expo and packet pick-up were super fun!  Lots of running goodies to be had and maybe even a few running friends there to chat with.

While Toledo is a smaller market, they put on one hell of a race!  Quality shirts, beautiful bling, race tracking/timing… you name it and they’ve thought of it!  The race runs through some fun neighborhoods with loads of people out cheering you on.  If you go the distance and do the full marathon, it takes you through Wildwood park and out into the Sylvania area.  The course is well thought out and executed to perfection!  Toledo RoadRunners (the local running club) is an awesome group of people who want to make sure everyone has a great experience.  Attention to detail is what sets them apart from other races and it shows.  I just can’t say enough good things about my RoadRunner’s club.  I’m proud to be a part of this group!

I’ll continue to run throughout the Summer and into Fall of course.  I’m done with the 26.2 mileage for good.  I have no regrets in saying that I’m done with marathons.  My distance of choice has always been 13.1 or the Half Marathon.  I’ll be running with a team in the Market to Market Relay in September this year and can’t wait to share that experience with you all as well!  We’ll be running as a team of six and will cover some 76 miles with 19 exchanges.  It’ll start in Cincinnati Ohio and travel back to Dayton for the Finish.  Kind of like the Ragnar Relay but with a shorter distance to cover (and hopefully a less “aromatic” van life ;-).

I’ll be running the 419 Series starting this month and ending in October.  I’ve listed the races below.

Long Track
WTOL River Run 10K
Muddy Mini Half Marathon
OH/MI 8K
Boy Scout Half Marathon
MacQueens 10K

I’m staying with my promise to run at least a 10 mile race each month of the 2017 running season.  I’m doing this because I love running…duh!  I’m also doing this to raise more funds for BlackJack Animal Rescue.  I ask on a regular basis for anyone to share a few bucks with this worthwhile organization and save the lives of fur babies.  BlackJack works tirelessly to make sure they save as many dogs as possible.  They’re based out of the Tennessee area but stretch all over the country with fosters and other fine people who do everything for the dogs.  I ask also that you Like and Follow them on Facebook.  This will give you first hand knowledge of which dogs are available for adoption and also the stories on how they’ve come to find some of these special creatures.  I’m humbled by the amount of work that they do and proud to wear the BlackJack logo on the back of my race shirts!  Please go to http://blackjackrescue.org/ and donate.  They even do a $5.00 Friday each week!  You might be the difference maker in a dog’s life and that…is priceless!mikesraceshirt

Summer is sneaking up on us and I know that I’m in need of cleaning up my eating habits.  I have volleyball to think about and I absolutely need to focus on my core strength.  I want to be the healthiest and most fit I can be at 50 years old.  I’m also asking that you make a change in your life too.  Go out and take a walk each day or go for a bike ride.  Take up running… it’s never too late!  Can I just tell you that the oldest runner at the Big Sur Marathon was 80 years young!  Think about that for a moment – 80 years old and doing a 26.2 mile marathon.  Just throwing that out there because people like that inspire me to keep going and keep moving.  You don’t have to be a runner to stay active, you just need to go out and play!  Turn the child inside of you loose for a while and see what happens.  Who knows… you just might find yourself lined up at the next Glass City Marathon or out in California doing the Big Sur!  Never say never!

I’ll see you on the road!

~Zombie~

 

 

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