Big Sur Marathon Race Report

On Sunday, April 29th I ran the Big Sur Marathon. It was a bucket list race for me. You have to qualify or get in through the lottery. The race starts at Big Sur National Park and ends in Carmel. I stayed in Monterey and was bused to the start at 4 am. This is a medium size race with about 4500 runners. There is also a 21 miler and relay.

The bus ride was about 75 minutes and I sat with another runner from North Carolina. We chatted the whole way. The start was a bit crowded but had plenty of porta potties. They also had tables with bananas, bagels, water, coffee and hot chocolate. I started in wave 2 at about 6:50. The first few miles were great and down hill. After that the uphill starts. This course is HARD. There is no flat, you are either going up or down. I trained for the hills, but what I did not expect was the brutal headwind for 26 miles and the cambered road. But it was the most beautiful course I have run, with amazing views of the ocean. The water stops were every 2/3 miles apart so I carried a handheld, which I had never done before, but was glad to have water with me.

The volunteers were fantastic! From the expo to the finish line they were helpful, friendly and enthusiast.

I was very happy to finish. At the finish you were given a box that had apple juice, apple, chips, gummy bears. There were also tables with strawberries, cookies, chips.

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This is a one and done for me. The course is tough. My quads were angry for a few days.

 

Next up climbing Kilimanjaro! Anyone have any tips or advise?

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Machu Picchu!

The morning of our final day of hiking, heading to Machu Picchu, we got our wake up call at 3:30. Yes, it’s the middle of the night. We had coffee and a small breakfast before heading to the line. The national park does not open until 5:30, all 200 hikers were waiting for the park to open.

We had about an hour hike to the Sun Gate, which is your first look at Machu Picchu. Right before the Sun Gate there are 50 very steep stairs called the Gringo Killer. At the top it was majestic! We were lucky to have a near perfect view.

 

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We had about a 45 minute hike down to Machu Picchu. We then toured the Inca grounds. The scale is amazing and these pictures do not show how big it is.

 

After our tour we headed to Aguas Calientes for lunch, then a train and van back to Cusco.

This was an amazing trip. I highly recommend it to anyone in decent shape. The hike is no joke. Anyone interested in Kilimanjaro in June?

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Hiking the Inca Trail!!!!!

It was finally hiking day and it was raining. I think we were all prepared for some rain on the trail, so why not get it over with. We left our hotel for a 45 minute drive to km 82, the start of the Inca Trail. After going thru the check point we were off.

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This was the easiest day of hiking. The rain stopped about mid morning and we had our first taste of the amazing food we would have on the trail. The views were breathtaking!

I spent my first night ever in a tent. It was okay. I should have had a few swigs of beer before bed. I’m not a camper, this was so far out of my comfort zone. I knew the no cell coverage, no shower, no real toilet, no bed, would be tough, but I wanted this experience more than those comforts. And I have NO regrets about being a stinky mess for 4 days!

The second day was the hardest hiking. We would go over 2 mountain passes to a high of 13,769 feet elevation at Dead Women’s Pass. I have never been that high. This was a very hard day. I would put it on par with running a marathon. Rob, Jordan, Jim and Jonathan went ahead of the group to the summit. When I could hear them I tried to pick up the pace but it was not happening. There was no air up there. Even when I could see them it was 5 steps then stop. I finally made it to the top and was super happy.

The rest of the way to camp was all down. We were walking on large stones for most of the trail, which is harder than hiking on dirt. At camp it was nap time then another great dinner. I’m not sure which meal these are from, most of my food pics were too dark.

On the third hiking day we had a lot of ground to cover and 2 more mountain passes between 12,100 and 13,100 feet elevation. I did not notice the lack of air as much on this day of hiking. It was long put the views were amazing along the way.

Tomorrow we hike to Machu Picchu!!!!

 

 

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Lima, Cusco and Ollantaytambo

Last month I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This has been on my bucket list since I saw Matt Lauer ( yes, creep now) there in 2001. I found a cheap flight to Lima and booked the trip about a month before leaving.

We, I went with a friend, Laine, landed in Lima at midnight and went straight to the hotel in Miraflores. The next day we explored Lima and then had a meeting with G Adventures, the tour group we booked for this trip. We meet most of the group we would be spent the week with and had a great dinner with Jim from NYC, and Jordan and Jane from the UK.

The next morning we met in the lobby at 6 am for a van to the airport. Our flight was delayed hours. By the time we arrived in Cusco we all needed food. The Plaza De Armas is beautiful! Cusco is at 11,000 feet of elevation and I was short of breath walking up the hills in the city.

After eating we went to the G Adventures office for a meeting about what to expect the next few days and to rent our sleeping bag, mats and poles. The porters are allowed to carry 6 kilos or our personal items. The sleeping bag and mat are about 2.5 kilos. We were given a duffel bag for our stuff. I had to down size much of what I thought I could bring. We would be leaving all our luggage in Cusco and not returning there until after the hike. This was a day longer than I had anticipated. You need 5 days of trail clothes, not 4.

The next morning we drove by van to The Inca Sacred Valley. We spent the drive getting to know each other. The valley is breath-taking.

We also stopped at a women’s weaving community that is supported by G Adventures. I purchased a beautiful scarf here.

We then traveled to the Inca Pisac ruins. These ruins were amazing.

We stopped for lunch at another G Adventure supported restaurant and the food was excellent.

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We then made our way to Ollantaytambo, where we would spent our last night in a bed. Sorry for the long post. Tomorrow we start the TRAIL!

 

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Hong Kong, Siem Reap, Chiang Mai

A few weeks ago I went to three amazing places. We started in Hong Kong. The weather was perfect sunny and about 80. Hong Kong is a big city and we had a few must sees in 2 days. We took a ferry, whet to the Museum of Natural History, which had a great toy exhibit. And the highlight was the Big Buddha.

 

Next stop was Siem Reap, Cambodia. We headed here to see the largest complex of temples in the world, Angkor Wat. This place was beautiful. Cambodia was hot! 95/100 with 100% humidity. We had some great food here in small local restaurants.

Last stop was Chiang Mai, Thailand. We saw many beautiful temples here.

But the highlight was the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. This was one of the top ten days of my life. We got to feed, bathe and play with ELEPHANTS! They were not smelly and were gentle and fun.

 

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My trip to Japan!

I had an amazing week in Japan. Here are my highlights including the food.

I saw Mount Fuji! My first day I took a bus tour to Hakone and Mount Fuji. It was in the 40’s and clear blue sky. Mount Fuji was amazing. I made a promise to myself that I will be back to climb it one day.

On day two I went back to my favorite temple, Senso-Ji. It was early morning and it was pretty empty.

I also went to Meiji Shrine. The tori gates at this shrine are huge.

I had some amazing food. I went by yelp and if there was a line outside the restaurant I got in line.

On Saturday I went to a onsen, which is a Japanese hot springs bath house. This experience will get it own post, but it was very relaxing. It helped that I did not know anyone,  nor will I see these people again.

Tokyo, you did not disappoint! This was a top ten week for me. Can’t wait to go back and climb Fuji-san.

 

 

 

 

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Tokyo Marathon Race Recap

On Sunday I ran the Tokyo Marathon! It was an amazing experience. And although I did not have the time (4:27) I wanted I had fun and enjoyed the race.

The Expo was at a convention center on the out skirts of town. I went on Thursday afternoon and did not have to wait in any lines. I stopped taking brochures when I realized nothing was n English. Most of the vendors were Japanese. Asics was the only retailer with clothing options. I was very disappointed when I saw that the race shirt was unisex and I ordered a large, with no chance to swap it out.

Sunday morning I left my apartment about 7 for a 9:20 am start. It was only about a 15 minute walk but due to closed streets it was more like 25. I quickly got through security and bag drop, then waited and waited for a porta-potty. This was a low point for organization. I waited 40 minutes for a squat porta-potty. I then headed to my coral and chatted with 2 Canadian women. The race started promptly at 9:10 and I crossed the start line at 9:16. It was about 50 and full sun. I don’t love running in the sun. The next 5 pictures are courtesy of a Facebook friend, Kevin Murphy. Thank you Kevin!

The race course was great. Pretty flat, with a few little hills. The volunteers and spectators were great. Many with signs that said “Fight” and a Westerner that said “Your feet hurt because you are kicking ass!”Many people were yelling “Ganbatte” which means do your best. It was warm for me with the sun. The water stops were a bit of an issue. The tables were long, but everyone wanted to stop at the first few. I was taking Pocari Sweat, yes that is the name of the drink, and water at each stop. It was very crowded the whole race. One of my favorite parts of the race, was when a speaker had the YMCA song playing and seeing thousands of runners making the hand movements, priceless!

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A few things I found different than US races. The Japanese runners had clear plastic coats for throw away clothes. And they were all over the ground at the start and for the first mile. Most runners used the boxes for cups and did not throw them on the ground. They gave out tomatoes and bread as fuel. There were volunteers every few hundred feet with plastic bags to take your trash.

After the finish we had to walk about .5 mile to get a drink. Then they slowly handed out your towel, blanket, water, banana, bread and medal. We were slowly walking during this time. Then we had to walk about another mile to get our clothes. Then more walking to get to the changing area. This was a new finish line area and by far the longest I had to walk after a race.

I had to walk more to get to the subway and back to my unit. I had amazing ramen and dumplings for dinner.

I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to run this race. It was a great experience. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped me along the way, and to the amazing spectators cheering on the course. This is a first class race in an amazing city.

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