Race Recap: Big Sur 21 Miler 2018

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to 2018 Big Sur 21 Miler as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

After a very long week at work I can finally sit down and write about my Big Sur experience. I will say I had a few hiccups in my training with getting sick a few weeks ago but I will say I finished one very very hard and scenic race.

Big Sur 21 Miler Medal

Expo
We flew into San Jose and then drove to Carmel super late on Friday. We managed to wake up early enough to make it to the expo by 9:30am on Saturday. Bib pickup was super quick and even though there was a sign saying no transfer and all distances sold out, my boyfriend was able to register for the 5k! We went back to the expo hall and got our shirts and gear bags. I love the shirt I got, the heather purple is great! The 5k shirt was a super soft cotton, by boyfriend will definitely wear it.

Big Sur 21 miler shirt and merch

Race day outfit

The expo is small but there was plenty to do. Hoka One One had a huge booth and I learned more about shoes and what I should try next. The local lululemon was there screenprinting shirts. I love mine and it was worth the wait! The Big Sur merchandise was awesome. I got a custom BOCO Gear beanie, socks, and an enamel pin. I will say all the volunteers at the expo were stellar. During bib pick up they gave us directions and advice on where to park on race day, which was super helpful.

We left around 11:30am, drove to lululemon Monterrey to see what the surprise was if you showed your Big Sur bib. Both me and my boyfriend got pint glasses and a free beer after the race at a local brewery.  We headed back to the hotel for a nap and some exploring in Carmel. Before dinner we explored Carmel Beach and downtown Carmel. We headed to bed around 9pm since we had an early morning ahead of us.

Carmel Beach

Race Day

Big Sur 21 Miler Start

I did not sleep well the night before the race. The elevation and the distance freaked me out. I woke up a few times which meant the 3:15am wake up was brutal. I did eat something as we headed off to the parking lot to drop me off.

The buses were a bit disorganized, they finally arrived at 4:25am and we took off. My bus along with a few others passed the 21 Miler start line and kept going to Big Sur. This was terrifying since none of us on the bus had cell phone reception and kept telling the driver to turn around and go back. We finally made it to the start around 5:40am. Luckily for me there was no line for the port-a-potties and I grabbed a cup of coffee to stay warm.  Thankfully, we started right at 6:30am and had to walk up a steep hill before we reached the timing mat. The weather was perfect, 55 degrees and overcast. I was still a bit cold but we started running up a hill right from the start so I warmed up pretty quick.

The first five miles were long rolling hills that had amazing views of the coast. I was feeling good and knew that Hurricane Point was coming up and needed to save energy. The view leading up to Hurricane Point was gorgeous! Even though the next 2.5 miles of hill were visible in the distance, the view was well worth it for the run downhill into the valley.

Taiko Drummers at Hurricane Point

By the time, I got to Hurricane Point I decided I was going to speed walk up much of hill. Since I’ve started tail running I’m used to ‘hiking’ up long steep inclines at a consistent pace. Hiking this section of the course allowed me to take in the view and keep my heart rate down so I could conserve energy.

There were taiko drummers at the base of the climb which was great entertainment and kept me going into the first part of the climb. Another fun feature of was the mile markers. Every mile of Big Sur has a cartoon mile marker and the ones up Hurricane Point here funny. “Hang in there” was the theme of the three and they made me laugh and take my mind off the hill. About a half mile from the top I was passed by a bunch of official marathon vehicles and then the lead pack of marathoners. Major props to them for racing one very hilly course.

Part way up Hurricane Point

Running downhill after the 2.5 miles of Hurricane Point felt amazing and the view of Bixby Bridge was also a welcome sight. The Piano Player right after the bridge is the halfway mark of the full marathon which mean there were 13.1 long miles ahead of me. I took a few photos and kept my run/walk going up and down the ‘rolling hills’.

Mile marker 11 of Big Sur

Around mile 14 I took a quick pit stop and as I was exiting it started to rain. It wasn’t that much rain but the rain caused my entire body to get cold and cramp over the course of the next mile and the last 6.2 miles were painful. Running up hills were almost impossible entering the Carmel Highlands. I kept telling myself I was going to finish and that walking up each hill was ok as long as I ran the descents.

Bixby Bridge

 

Piano Player at 13.1

The Carmel Highlands are beautiful! I was not bored at all run/walking the last 4 miles and there were plenty of locals and volunteers cheering too. There was a local group that every year gives out fresh strawberries around mile 24 of the marathon and that was the fuel I needed to finish the race.

Mile 25 of Big Sur

The last big hill is at mile 25 and this year Hoka One One had their huge arch up and pump-up music blasting. A few of the Big Sur International Marathon employees were out cheering and saying congrats to all of the runners. Even though Monastery Beach was beautiful – that last hill sucked. I was so happy to see the last downhill and the finish line even though I was barely running at the finish.

Post-Race

The finish chute was very organized, I was not a huge of the Marathonfoto photographers who kept pulling me aside for a photo. If anything it made it harder for me to enjoy all of the amazing volunteers and food at the finish line. The post-race food was perfect- local produce, a cookie (it was AMAZING!), chips, Dole juice, gummy bears and a banana. I was given a heat sheet and finally found my boyfriend and was ready for a shower.

I finished!!

After a shower, we explored Monterrey. Grabbed brunch at Alvarado Street Brewery and walked around cannery row. I was happy I could walk even though my quads and calves were very unhappy. I did survive the car ride back to San Jose and the flight home to Seattle.

While we were waiting for our flight home, I was able to jump on Athlinks.com and claim my race results. You can check out how I did it here, and while you’re at it, jump on and make an account too. Don’t forget to add me as a friend so we can go head-to-head in future races!

Me running into the finish line

I am not going to lie – Big Sur 21 Miler was the hardest race I’ve ever run. The views and the volunteers made every mile worth it. If you’ve never run in Northern California and are looking for a bucket list race, Big Sur is well worth it. Both Carmel and Monterrey are beautiful and are worth the visit.

 

Race Review: Rock ‘N’ Roll San Francisco

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock ‘N’ Roll San Francisco half marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

This past weekend I ran the Rock ‘N’ Roll San Francisco half marathon with my fellow BibRave Pro Jeannine. It was a lot of fun and well worth the trip.

Expo

Even though I got in super late (12:30am), we headed to the expo first thing in the morning. We took MUNI from our hotel to the Embarcadero, got Philz Coffee and walked down to Pier 35.

There was a small line but once the doors opened it took us less than five minutes to get our bibs. Right after bib and t-shirt pickup there was the official merchandise section.  One of the coolest things Rock ‘N’ Roll does is put participant names on the shirt. There was a life-size banner where you could find your name which was fun.

The rest of the expo was small but it made it a lot more manageable. Toyota was there and was giving away a portable battery to Toyota owners and you could play games for more prizes. I played against Jeannine in a run in place challenge. There was a how much can you fit into corolla game too. The title sponsor United Airlines was giving away headbands/neck warmers and free Illy espresso. Illy espresso is now served on all United Airlines flights. We stopped by St. Jude, Rock ‘N’ Roll, a few other booths before we headed out for a full day of sight seeing in San Francisco. 

We walked down to Pier 39 saw the sea loins, Boudin bakery, and then took the cable car back to our hotel near Union Square. It was super fun hanging off the cable car and taking in the city. Jeannine took some awesome photos. We dropped our bibs off at the room and then headed out to the Mission District to go see all of the amazing murals. Found some artisan s’mores, more art, and then some beer at Anchorship Public Taps. Dinner was yummy Japanese food then we went to bed super early since we had a 6:15am start for the race.

Race Day

After an early wake up call we got a Lyft to the start line. It was freezing, I should have brought throwaway clothing with me. We found my friend Kristie and then headed into Pier 39 to stay warm and out of the wind. The race however did not start on time. We waited at least 10-15 minutes before we started, they never specified what was the delay.

The race course was an abbreviated out and back starting at Pier 39 and ending at Ghirardelli Square with the turnaround at the end of the Golden Gate Bridge. In total we run about 4 miles on the Golden Gate Bridge, 4 miles on city streets, and the rest on the paved tails of the Presidio.

Once we were off we ran along the water and up a few hills to get to the Presidio. Coming from Seattle the hills were steep but nothing I wasn’t used to. The weather was a bit chilly until we hit mile 4. Once we got onto the bridge the weather cleared and it was BEAUTIFUL! Since we weren’t running for time we stopped and took photos along the bridge and I am so happy we did. Running the downhill turnaround was fun since it was trail with a huge hill. I ended up hiking it to save my energy for the last few hills we had left. I will say, we did not run on the actual car lanes, we ran on the pedestrian/bike path that was quite narrow. There were a few points where I did run into other runners and it wasn’t avoidable. But the views were well worth the narrow course.

After the bridge we turned onto the Presidio paths and got up close and personal with the waves which was fun. It was a bit boring running along the path since the Golden Gate Bridge was behind us so there wasn’t much view.  I started to not feel so great around mile 11 even though I ate almost all of my fuel. With Kristie’s help I was able to persevere and getup the hill near Fort Mason at mile 12.5 and then down a hill to the finish.

Post-Race

The finishers chute was short and highly organized. I was able to get my medal, water, electrolytes and Ghirardelli chocolate quickly. Where the finish line was located made it easy for us call and Lyft.

When I got back to the hotel after the race, I was able to jump on Athlinks.com and claim my race results. You can check out how I did it here, and while you’re at it, jump on and make an account too. Don’t forget to add me as a friend so we can go head-to-head in future races!

We had more time to sightsee so we grabbed bottomless dim sum brunch at Chubby Noodle to celebrate then explored Chinatown before we headed to the airport.

Overall race thoughts

Overall, this was a great race weekend. If you haven’t been to San Francisco or it’s been a while since your last visit, it is well worth a trip. Rock ‘N’ Roll puts on a great race that’s well worth it!

Shoe Review: Brand New Under Armour HOVR Sonic

Disclaimer: I received a free pair of  Under Armour HOVR Sonic shoes as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! 

I had the pleasure to test the BRAND NEW Under Armour HOVR Sonic shoes!

The UA HOVR Sonic is a neutral cushion shoe that comes in five different color ways in both connected and unconnected versions.The HOVR Sonic is the first of it’s kind and can digitally connect to MapMyRun or MapMyFitness phone apps. HOVR Sonic is a great speed work shoe that fits great in the heel and toe box. I have wide feet but not wide enough for a wide shoe in most brands so I wear men’s shoes. The HOVR Sonic is just wide enough in the toe box that they fit perfectly and are not too tight at all. I love the seamless upper and that it is super breathable.

UA HOVR Sonic shoes in white after a run

The UA HOVR Sonic is a great speed work shoe. They are lightweight and I do feel an extra spring in my step from the HOVR cushioning. The compression-like feel of the seamless upper also makes my feet feel like they are not wearing shoes. I wore them during My Better Half 10k this past weekend and they held up great. My feet did not feel as tired as they normally do halfway through the 10k.

 

Look at the seamless upper!

Quick facts about the UA HOVR Sonic:

  • Neutral cushioning
  • 8mm offset with a 21mm heel and a 13mm forefoot
  • Midsole is the new HOVR Cushioning with a 60% energy return
  • Outsole is a solid rubber forefoot and a carbon rubber heel
  • Compression-like fit
  • Quick-drying and breathable microthread upper
  • Comes in connected and non-connected versions

Training Data

Overall shoes stats from MapMyRun

The UA HOVR Sonic gives you stride length and cadence with and without MapMyRun GPS. It even measures how far you run without needing to use the MapMyRun app! The stride length is my favorite part of the shoe training data because it really shows how much my gate changes as I get tired over my run.

Overview from a run in MapMyRun with the UA HOVR Sonic

The MapMyRun interface for the training data is great. The overview of each run is super easy to read and the graphs are a cool way to see how your cadence and stride length change during a run. The other nice feature of the connected shoe is that it tells you approximately how many miles are on the shoe. For someone who knows once my shoes hit 300 miles I need new ones knowing exactly how many miles are on them each time I sync the app is helpful.

Overview from a run in MapMyRun with the UA HOVR Sonic

The other great part of the connected shoe is that you do not need to always use the MapMyRun app while you run. You can simply sync the shoes after your run to see your training stats. I’ve run with MapMyRun and without and I prefer to sync the shoes after in order to save my phone battery. If you run on a treadmill or an indoor track there’s no need to turn on a GPS, the HOVR Sonic will tell you how far you’ve run based on your stride length.

I do have two concerns about this shoe. First, the tread. This tread was not made for running on wet pavement. I am a mid foot striker and I slipped a few times during wet and rainy runs especially going up and down hills. I did wear the HOVR Sonic on a rainy commute to work and I the shoes did slip a bit going up and down the steep hill I walk every day to my office. Hopefully that will change on the next iteration of the shoe.

The other bothersome part of these shoes is that the toe box gets dirty quickly.  After one two mile run in slightly damp conditions my shoes were stained. I figured out a way to clean them but they still have a small stain on them. I am hoping the next version of this shoe will have a bigger splash guard.

Overall, I recommend this shoe for people who want a great lightweight shoe for the treadmill or dry climates. The training data is a great addition for people who really want to understand their run. This shoe is a game changer for running industry and I hope other companies will start to incorporate technology into shoes in the future.

Check out the what my fellow BibRave Pros has to say about the brand new Under Armour HOVR Sonic: