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 Recap: Seattle Craft Classic Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Seattle Craft Classic 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 Seattle Craft Classic Half Marathon. Overall, I had an enjoyable time and the race day weather held up.

Expo
I got my bib on Friday at Road Runner Sports Seattle in the Green Lake Neighborhood. There was no real expo just a few tables set up for packet pickup and an Adidas sales rep who was showing off the new Boost shoes. Road Runner Sports did give out a 25% off coupon for VIPs to use right there in the store. I didn’t end up buying anything but it was a nice they gave those out. The swag was great- there were mens and womens specific shirts, and a Red Hook pint glass. The bib was pretty cool minus for the large typo on the date, but I do like how the bib was customized for Woodinville.

A post shared by amanda lee (@amandakl) on

 Race Day

Getting to the race was pretty was easy. My boyfriend drove me to Redmond. There was a lot of free parking and once we found the start line there plenty of port-a-potties. I ended up getting a coffee at a café across the street in an attempt to stay warm. The weather was a bit chilly before the start. I walked over 15 minutes before and was surprised by how few people were racing. There was also a 5k that started and ended at the old Red Hook Brewery.

I found the 2:15 pacers before the start and figured I would ty to stay with them and make this race my long run. We started right on time and headed out onto the Sammamish River Trail. As we started running I realized the pacer was running fast for the first couple miles of the race. At mile 3 I looked at my watch and realized I needed to tone it back to stay with in a 2:15 to 2:20 half marathon pace.

The weather did not get too hot as the miles went on which was great! I love running in early fall in Washington. You can still wear shorts and a tank and not overheat. At mile 8 I started to feel a little off and I think it was from starting off fast the first few miles. The volunteers at the water stops were FABULOUS! They made sure everyone in the race got water and cheered as we passed. At mile 10 I was not happy and was ready for the race to be over, I was very happy to see the last water stop which mean there was less than a half mile to the finish.

The course is an open public running and cycling path. It is a super highway on Sunday mornings. I was anticipating some traffic but at times I did feel very uncomfortable, having a few close calls with cyclists. I feel like there should have been signs up warning the public that the event was happening so that everyone was aware of what was going on. The race did do a good job of putting out signs for the participants warning them to stay right before narrow parts of the course. The last 100 yards or so of course were shared with runners and spectators headed back to their cars. It was narrow and honestly frustrating for me because I was ready for my race to be done and did not want to doge people on the path.

I will say the free beer and socks at the end did help me feel a bit better after not having the best run ever.

A post shared by amanda lee (@amandakl) on

Race Communication

There were many small oversights when it came to this race but I am happy Craft Classic and Orca Running emailed participants when it major events occurred. The first was the bib typo- they did email late Friday afternoon to apologize for the typo which was very gracious of them. The second was the finisher medal. There were no finisher medals given out at the end of the races. They received the wrong shipment of medals the Friday before the race. They said at the race and in an email that all finishers would receive a medal within 10 business days. When I get my medal, I will update this post!

**UPDATE 9/23/17**
I did receive my medal in the mail in within the 10 business day time frame. Thank you Craft Classic!

Seattle Craft Classic Half Marathon was pretty good. If you want to run a fast and flat half marathon and don’t mind a shared course I would run this race for your next PR attempt.

Race Recap: Seawheeze 2017

Oh my gosh, Seawheeze was amazing! This was my first time attending and it did not disappoint!

I drove up on Thursday and went straight to my hotel to check in. The border took 2o minutes and the traffic into Vancouver was not bad at all! I quickly changed into my running gear and went over to the Kitsilano neighborhood to explore. I went to the original Lululemon and bought a sweet Kitsilano tank! I was able to get a Seawheeze reusable bag which are BEAUTIFUL this year.

I then met up with my fellow BibRave Pro Jeannie and we went on a group run with Frontrunners. The smog was bad so I had to apologize for running so slow and hacking up a lung. But the view at the end of the beach was beautiful and it was wonderful to see Jeannie again!

I headed back to my hotel and took a nap before meeting my friends in line at the showcase store. We were there by 1:30am and the line wasn’t too bad. But as the night went out the line got longer and louder so sleep didn’t really happen. I was able to find a 24 hour Tim Hortons at 4am which saved us. Lululemon had a bunch of stilt performers walking by the line which were super cool. I would say we ended up in the first 300-400 people in the showcase!

The showcase store

The showcase store was laid out in a strange way. The reflective clothes I really wanted were in the middle of the showcase and the line for them kept growing. By the time I was in the roped part of the line there was nothing left which was a bummer. We kept searching and I was able to find a few things but there were not a lot of size 10 or 12 shorts. I was disappointed because I wanted speed but there were not a lot of prints left just solid colors. I ended up with two pairs of tights, a cropped cool racer back and a pair of tracker shorts. I found a pair of tights and a skirt for my mom too.

My showcase haul!

After checking out we went to packet pickup which was pretty quick. We got a spike bag, tube of nuun, a coupon for a free JJ Bean coffee, and a water bottle. The nice part of Seawheeze is there are no bibs! All you have to do is put a timing chip on your shoe. Personally, it makes life easier for me and I don’t have to worry that my bib is not on straight in the morning.

We then checked out the Prerace Party and there was so much to do! There were free tattoos, free water, a bunch of cool booths like Nuun and Vega who were offering samples. I volunteered to meet with the Lululemon design team and run on a treadmill then answer a few questions about my sports bra. I learned a lot about sports bras and what goes into the design process. They even gave me a free set of mala beads!

I headed back to my hotel napped and worked for a bit then met up with a bunch of Oiselle Volee for dinner. I also had a chance to explore some cool art near Gastown and found this awesome alley.

Race Day!

The race was pretty easy for me to get to. I met up with Jeannie in front of my hotel and we walked over together. We found a bunch of our fellow BibRave Pros, Mai and Bradley, for a pre-race photo and I met up with a bunch of Oiselle Volee for a team photo too! I headed to the corrals with Bradley and Jeannie and we somehow ended up close to the front. Seawheeze is self seeding so we were far ahead of most people.

My overall goal for the race was to finish since I was coming off of a sprained ankle and did not want to re-injure the pulled tendons. The start was quite quick and we started running through Gastown and Chinatown.

Head up, wings out!

In the first few kilometers there was a spin class on the overpass cheering runners on for about 100 meters. It was a huge rush of energy and was super fun to cheer them on as they were riding. There were a bunch of random number 5s hanging from the overpass and I am not quite sure why. It threw me off a bit since I knew we were not 3 miles/5 kilometers in.

The course quickly took off toward the Seawall and then to the Burrard Street bridge. There was a lot of entertainment which made the Seawall a lot more interesting. The bridge was hard but there was so much going on that I forgot about the long hill. The cool part of the bridge is we passed Lululemon HQ! There were a lot of people cheering as we got off the bridge and onto the last part of the course.

The Seawall was beautiful and narrow. I had a to walk a few times because of the heat and it was so hard to stay out of the way. A lot of people were not considerate of others which made it frustrating. The north part of Stanley Park is just beautiful. So much to see and thankfully the smog had cleared a bit too! Lululemon put a lot of entertainment- a retro DJ with dancing inflatable fish, a bunch of hippy Canadian, people on SUPS cowbelling, mermaids, Firemen and Police men with squirt-guns, and the Vega Hydration stop with a huge misting station.

The last mile of the race was partly shaded which was so nice! I ended up catching a few of my friends at the end which made the last part much more fun. I did not run this for time and I am glad I did. I had a lot of fun taking in the view and enjoying the on course entertainment.

The finish chute was crowded. We ended up waiting in line for almost 40 min to reach the front of the runners brunch. In line we got our beautiful finisher’s medal which triples as a bottle open, statue and medal (!!), finisher’s sunglasses, water, a Vega protein bar and a cooling cloth. The Breakfast was great even though I heard people were made there weren’t waffles. Lululemon even had a special dairy and partially soy-free brunch box which made it even better! After exiting Saje gave away free runner’s reward samples. I hung around and waited for my friends to finish then headed over to the Nuun at Nuun Ambassador meet-up.

Sunset Festival

The sunset festival was cool. There was free yoga that I missed due to dinner which is ok. I poked around the merchandise and didn’t see anything I liked. However, the Obligatory Victory Beer was pretty good and it wasn’t super expensive. We found a spot in front of the stage and listened to Cold War Kids and Young the Giant for a bit. This was a great way to finish a fun filled weekend.

Overall, I really enjoyed Seawheeze and the weekend festivities. Lululemon did a great job informing us about the weather and all other event related activities without being annoying. Their social media was on point- I got so many likes and replies it really meant a lot to see a brand interact with to many of their fans on a regular basis from registration to race day. I also loved all of the positivity throughout the weekend. It wasn’t about winning the race it was about experiencing the half marathon and staying in the now.

I will definitely run this race again. It is pricey but you do get a pair of $58-$65 CAD running shorts and plenty of race day swag and food. Next year’s race is in September which makes it much nicer running weather. I didn’t pay too much for transportation since I drove up and will probably do that as well.

Thanks for a wonderful weekend Lululemon! I can’t wait to do it again!

Race Recap: 2017 Rock N Roll Seattle Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock N Roll Seattle 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! 

I’m going to be honest- this is a local race for me so I might be a bit more bias than most. I am very happy I trained on most of the race course this year so I had some idea of what to expect when it came to the course and the hills.

Expo:
I left work a bit early and arrived at the expo around 5:30pm. There was Warped Tour going on so the normal walk from the International District took much longer than normal. When I got to CenturyLink Event Center there was no one there. I am not joking, there was no one at bib check in or waiting in line. I got my bib in five minutes and then headed over to the Brooks merchandise. There wasn’t much so I headed into the expo. Walked around a bit got some free sunglasses from Visit Seattle and got some free body glide from Westin. Besides the Nuun booth there wasn’t much else to see. I felt pummeled by Rock N Roll merchandise. All in all I spent an hour tops at the expo.

Saturday 5K:
I opted to run the 5k for the remix challenge. Honestly, it was alright. The corrals were small and cramped and the course was an out and back. I am glad I ran it but might skip it next year.

Sunday – race day!
Let’s just say I did not get any final information from Rock N Roll until Wednesday. They also changed the start time for the race from 7 to 6:30am. I understand their reasons but it made taking a bus to the start not possible, my options were to buy a shuttle ticket, bus to downtown then take the light rail, or bum a ride/take an uber. I decided to take an Uber with a friend from my place to get to the start line. This ended up changing Sunday morning.

I woke up Sunday morning to no Ubers in my area even though I scheduled one. So my amazing boyfriend ended up driving me and my friend to the start. Yes, he wins boyfriend of the year. We finally got to the starting area around 5:40 and holy crap it was not the standard Rock N Roll start. There weren’t defined corrals and the gear check was so far we had to walk a good distance to get to it. After gear check we got in the bathroom line then headed to the corrals to find a few of our friends from Fleet Feet Seattle.

The actual start took forever. I was in a front corral and even though corrals were starting we did not move for 10 plus minutes. I also realized I was not in an actual corral, even though I was between two fences. Not a great way to start the race.

Once we finally started the course was narrow. I prefer the older courses of this race. I was dodging people much of the time I was running. The first six miles were quite scenic and hilly. I was so happy I trained on most of the course so I knew what I was expecting. At mile 8 is where I got into trouble. I did not realize there was a steep hill and I started to cramp due to the humidity. Oh well… I kept running along Rainier Avenue South toward the finish line. I will say these miles were dull. I was so happy to get to the mile 11 aid station and see my friends from Fleet Feet Seattle. It was a great pick me up for the last hill which was the on ramp that gets to the finish.

I was clearly not thinking straight

The finish line was standard, the medal this year was great! I love it! I found my boyfriend and we set off to find my Remix Challenge medal. I had a hard time finding the medal tent and the gear check. They were far apart and part of it was that I was tired. I did get a pair of flip flops from Toyota because we have a corral which was nice! Surprise finish line swag is always nice.

I found my friend and we walked to the bus on 3rd Ave. We didn’t have to wait too long which was fantastic considering all of the traffic chaos caused by the race course closures. Once I was home, I ended up spending the rest of the day resting. I think Joey was concerned I spent a long time with my legs up the wall while watching TV.

My recommendation to Rock N Roll is to start at CenturyLink and finish at Seattle Center if they are going to do a point to point course. I know there is a lot of construction in Seattle but the current finish is brutal ending at CenturyLink Field. I know a lot of people who live in Seattle had a hard time getting to the start line on time due to the start time change AND the location of the start line.

Overall if you live in the Greater Seattle Area, I would run this race. It may be hilly but it’s a great course to challenge yourself on.

Race Recap: 2017 North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to North Olympic Discovery 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 North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon in Port Angeles! I went into it with high expectations that I quickly realized were wishful thinking.

The Friday before I summited Mount Saint Helens. It was over 5,000 feet of elevation and a very long trek to the top. On the glissade down I ended up face planting due to the snow conditions and tore my pants in the process. When I woke up on Saturday to leave for Port Angeles my right leg was covered in ice-burn and I have two deep purple bruises from my ice axe. Let’s just say, my legs were not feeling so good. The drive north was beautiful and we arrive to Port Angeles in good time.

Expo:
The race expo was held on Saturday only from noon to 6pm. The bib pickup was pretty organized, but due to a name mix up I had to go back and get the correct bib. I was very happy the long sleeve half zip was a womens cut! That was a wonderful surprise. We also received a reusable  gear check bag that had a place to write your bib on with a bunch of paper flyers. There weren’t many vendors at the expo, mainly local running races.

We checked into our hotel then found an early dinner. I highly recommend Barhop Brewing, their pizza and beer was great! We also swung by the natural food market for some snacks. I opted for fresh guacamole, hummus and chips which seemed to help my stomach instead of hinder it on race day.

Race Day:
Getting to the race day shuttles was a quick walk from my hotel. NODM did a great job organizing the start times for the Half and Full marathons so that it was easy to get on a shuttle to the start. The volunteers loading runners on to the shuttles were wonderful too!

After a 20 minute shuttle ride we arrived at the start line. It was an open soccer field. There was a marching band and a small shelter that had cups of water. There were also plenty of porta-potties! The lines were never too long for them which was wonderful.  I did find my fellow BibRave Pros Bradley and Jeremy  before the start! It’s always wonderful to meet fellow pros.

 

 

The start was pretty organized considering there were less than 1,000 runners. The course is relatively flat but the hills are pretty steep. I ran with someone from my Fleet Feet Seattle training program for the first 6 miles before I started to really feel my legs. By mile 10 I was not a happy camper and was having issues keeping water and my shotblocks down. I knew after mile 6 that my goal of running a small PR was a no go. I will admit, at mile 10 I did phone my BRF to have her kick my ass into gear and finish. Cassidy- you are the best BRF a girl can have. I even called my boyfriend and asked him to have a coke ready for me at the finish. Yes, coke somehow helps me intake some sugar after I finish a race, not sure why it’s the easiest thing for me to stomach but it is.

Even if the last 3.1 miles suck they were beautiful! The last 4 miles look out over the Puget Sound and are on a very flat trail. All of the volunteers on the course were wonderful too. They were super enthusiastic and did a great job giving everyone directions. I was very happy to see that finish line even though I was in a lot of pain.

The finish line was pretty well organized. I quickly got my finishers medal, a gatorade and my gear check back. There was plenty of post race food too. I didn’t really eat any of it until I got back to my hotel, I was trying to drink as much liquid as I could since I was dehydrated.

Overall I would recommend this race to anyone looking for a relatively fast course and some sweet swag. If I were to run it again, I would definitely not summit a mountain two days before. Onward to Rock n Roll Seattle Half for a PR attempt!