Boston 2 Big Sur: Challenge Complete

May 6th, 2012 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts

I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve written, because it has, and it’s taken me a bit to get over the blahs post-Big Sur and because I’ve been traveling like a maniac. I took the red-eye back from San Francisco on Sunday night post-race, flew to Idaho on Wednesday morning for work and then straight to Boulder on Friday afternoon for work. I’m wiped but will make this hour count while I’m waiting for my flight here in Denver.

The Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge: I did it!

3:09 & 3:24. 2nd woman in the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge (missed 1st by 3!!!!!! seconds)

And to be honest, it was one of the hardest things I’ve done. Combining a 85+ degree Boston marathon with 26.2 miles of crazy coastal hills and (reported) 40 mph headwinds only 13 days later was brutal. Duh, that’s why it’s a challenge and that’s why I signed up. I loved Boston and wanted to love Big Sur just as much– I wanted the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge to be one of the most memorable things I’ve done.

Spoiler: it wasn’t. I hated it. Okay, maybe ‘hated’ is extreme, but it just wasn’t the blissful race I anticipated. I hate, hate, hate to say that about such a beautiful & well organized race..but here’s why:

After Boston, I took it extremely easy. I glowed, riding my runner’s high for as long as I could. I rested, slept, drank & celebrated with friends, and ran about 20 minutes (no more!) three times in before Big Sur. Slowly but surely, the soreness in my legs subsided and my running gait returned to normal. I felt kinda rested and ready to tackle the marathon! But, I also felt really out of shape when I ran- an easy 3 week taper followed by 2 weeks of next-to-nothing really isn’t conducive to maintaining fitness. Surprise!

Since I had no intentions of racing Big Sur, I took my pre-race prep far less seriously. Since I was visiting my sister in San Francisco before heading down to Monterey on Saturday, I took advantage of actually being able to go out with her on Friday night. We drank until after 2, and I woke up with a massive hangover. So bad, I had to make her stop and pull over to get sick in the car on the way to lunch…and after lunch. I couldn’t stomach food until dinner on Saturday night. Seems I can’t hang with the college kids, but I blame the shots.

And onto Big Sur!

I drove down to Monterey on Saturday afternoon, once my stomach settled, and met Alex & her fiancé Steve at the hotel– we went to the expo and out to dinner, and were in bed around 9:30. Party! We woke at 3:15 a.m. (!!!!) as the buses left at 4 to take us to the start. It was dark and cold, but at least I finally had a use for the throwaway sweats Ali originally gave me for Boston.

Once the sun rose, we headed to the start– the first “corral” was under 3:45…so we hopped right in towards the front. Loved how open it was!

And since I loved how Page and Aron did this for Boston 2 Big Sur last year, we pinned our Boston bibs on the back. What a great idea!

I felt great the first few miles– it was cool, shady, flat/downhill, and we were clicking off miles quite comfortably. I was happy and just felt like I was heading off for a nice long run– exactly what I wanted the day to be.

Yep– I brought my camera to take pictures during the “race”. It was sunny but crisp and cool, and we wandered through fields and the views were spectacular. It was so peaceful and I couldn’t wait until we neared the coast. Until around the 10K, a massive headwind hit as we started to go uphill. It got extremely foggy and dark– it was like we entered a totally different climate.

I can’t even begin to describe how strong the wind was as we worked up the hills. It was the type of wind that blows back/puffs up your jacket and turns your umbrellas upside down. I think I read it was up to 40 mph at points– of course always a headwind. And it only seemed to hit when we were going up the hills. It took so much energy out of me, and while we didn’t care about our time, it was a bit discouraging to see 8:30s start to click off.

Finally, we made it to the 13.1 mile mark- the famous Bixby Bridge- the gorgeous bridge that draw me into the race and that I was so looking forward to. However…the view was a bit obstructed.

I promise this is much more beautiful on a clear, sunny day.

Around this point, I started to feel my IT/Piriformis pain acting up…which really confused me as I hadn’t felt even the slightest twinge there all Boston training cycle. I’ve always had bouts of IT pain that usually flare up for a few weeks pretty intensely, but clears up after ART/Graston while rolling the shiz out of it with a baseball. It’s bothered me at some point while training for both NYC ’10 and ’11, but never while training for Boston this year.

While it started as a bit of tightness around mile 8, it turned into stabbing pain around mile 14 or so. It was the type of pain that would normally cause me to stop and cut a normal run short– the intensity of the pain wouldn’t be worth running through on a normal day, as I knew each mile was just re-aggravating it even further.

I tried to let the views distract me, but I was just in so much pain it was pretty miserable. Luckily (or not so luckily) Alex was having stomach pains and felt nauseous, so we were content to just take it easy. Around mile 17, I started wishing away the miles and wondering why I even signed up for this. I was frustrated that I wasn’t having a great time because this was supposed to be the culmination of such a great journey. I was frustrated that my leg hurt so badly that I was just about limping. I was on the verge of tears for most of the 2nd half of the race and had to continuously tell myself to pull it together.

This was supposed to be fun. Why was I so miserable?! Finally at mile 22, I told Alex I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to go 4 more miles. My body felt like it was going to break down and my right leg was going to fall off. This wasn’t normal “oh, of course my legs hurt, I’m running a marathon” pain. This was “you’re injured and your body is telling you to stop now” pain. But, since I’m stubborn, we kept on running. At least I’m happy we didn’t walk a single step.

I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see a finish line. I wanted it to be over about 16 miles earlier.

Here’s how the race played out for a 3:24: finish.

At least our the Boston 2 Big Sur jacket and medal was pretty sweet. After all, wasn’t the swag what reeled me in in the first place?

Would I do this race ever again? Probably not. I think my first experience was just tarnished a bit by the ridiculous headwinds, the weird fog that made the views less-than-stellar, and the incredibly sharp piriformis pain that made me want to cry and die.

Boston 2 Big Sur, I’m glad I did you, but more glad that you’re over.

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17 Responses

  • I am sorry you were in pain! Those pictures are gorgeous though and coming in 2nd for that challenge is amazing!! It kills me (can’t imagine how you feel!) that you missed first by a few seconds….that is wild. Congrats on a very cool accomplishment!

  • Freddie says:

    It may not have been the best race but you did it and you also made it look beautiful :)
    Not to many people can say they have done that race which is the most important part. Soon you will have no more goals on your list since you are kicking some major A$$. Keep up the good work!

  • Page says:

    Oh no! I’m so sorry that it wasn’t all that you had hoped it to be – breaks my lil’ heart. The good news is that 3:24 in those conditions is STILL SMOKING FAST and your black jackets are way cuter than our white ones last year. Hang in there and still congrats!

  • sofia says:

    damn, lindsay. i’m sorry part two of boston 2 big sur was so trying… it sounds like you definitely refused to give up, though, and that’s awesome. you should be proud! and vow to never torture yourself in such a way again! ;) ha.

    PS second place? by three seconds? whoa.

  • Ali says:

    Hot damn, speedy, you are amazing. SECOND PLACE BOSTON TO BIG SUR!!! I love the bib pinning on the front and back. Super cute.

    Sorry Big Sur was tough, but way to stick it out and finish smiling (and looking pretty). Congratulations on getting through two tough fall marathons. Time to enjoy the recovery and rest up (with me, beer and cheese). You’re a beast. Can’t wait to see what you do this fall!

  • Christine says:

    congrats, lindsay!

    what an amazing accomplishment you conquered – first boston in 90-degree weather and then big sur with all of the challenges you faced. if there’s anyoneee in the blog world or in real life who is an inspiration for me, it’s you! i love your style, not just with running but with enjoying life and having fun and appreciating a nice drunken night every once and awhile. :-)

    hope to see you when i’m in the city for the mini, but in the meantime, hope you are celebrating/resting lots&lots before your training for chicago starts! already too excited to see what you’ll do there!

  • Jenn says:


    Where is that pink tank from!?! Its so cute!

  • Caroline says:

    Congratulations! I know this race wasn’t what you hoped, but that’s even more impressive that you pushed through the pain and weather and came in 2nd place in the challenge!
    I’m having a lot of trouble with my piriformis at the moment, do you have any recommendations for exercises or stretches that especially help? Besides rolling it out 24/7?

  • Meggie says:

    You’re basically a bad-ass. My hero. Two marathons in two weeks. That’s awesome.

    I can’t even fathom running one marathon right now.

    Hope that piriformis/hip isn’t bothering you anymore!

  • I’m so sorry you didn’t love Big Sur as much as you hoped, but it seems like you didn’t have the best of conditions for both Boston AND Big Sur! My day at Big Sur was so perfect, I’m sorry the weather and your IT band didn’t agree. Congrats on getting second (that’s amaaaaazing!), and I can’t wait to see what you can do in better conditions!

  • Elyssa says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of BIg Sur! I really, really wanted to love this race. However, those headwinds and lack of views certainly didn’t help:/ Congrats on the 2nd place finish!

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  • jamie says:

    So late to the game in this comment. Was just reading your recap of brooklyn last year to get myself pumped and realized I needed to catch up on everything.
    OH.MY.GOSH. Congrats Lindsay! You continue to amaze me more and more every day. We really need to meet up and recap our lives.

    Hope you’re enjoying your little running breather :-)

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