Posted by: pointlenana | May 22, 2014

Boston to Big Sur – April 2014

Catching up, and posting things out of order.

Janet and I did Boston to Big Sur again this year – my 4th time, her 3rd.  Janet ran Big Sur with me the first year too, but that was her “first and last” marathon, except she ran fast enough to qualify for Boston and it went downhill from there.

I documented Boston (exhaustively and exhaustingly) in my Academy Award-winning (not) video of the day.

To add a few things about Boston:

After heat in 2012 and bombs in 2013, Janet’s main goal was to have a good day.  She’d like to break 4 hours again at some point, so that’s always her A goal but she’d had an injury during training she went into this thinking she’d be happy with breaking 4:15.  My goal was simply to run with Janet and enjoy what promised to be a great, special day.  We made it through the half on 4 hour pace in spite of one portapotty break.  It was a warm day though and Janet does much better when it’s cool.  Around the 23 mile mark she cramped up and had to stop, and again a mile or so later.  In spite of the cramping, she (and I) did manage to finish in 4:08+, which requalifies her for Boston by a small margin.  Performance-wise it was a good day for her all things considered.

The social part of the weekend was great.  We got to hang out with a college friend of mine and his girlfriend.  We saw a school friend of Janet’s.  Sunday morning Janet and I got to meet some of my “virtual friends” from the RWOL in person at brunch.  After the run, we dropped by an annual gathering of some of the Marathon Maniacs old-timers and learned how tightly knit the group was at the beginning.

The video might capture it, but the energy throughout the race was incredible.  There were more spectators and they seemed to be more than twice as loud (the video definitely does not capture how LOUD it is to run in-between the two sidelines towards the end).  Everyone seemed to be having a good time.  I’m sure there were some fast people at front suffering through great races, but the runners we were around seemed to be happy.  The day turned out as everyone had hoped – a great race, a great town, great spectators.  Oh, and the performances by Meb and the women (including Shalane Flanagan).  Wow.

Big Sur

After having decent results at Boston, I wore the GoPro for a second time at Big Sur the next weekend.  A completely different kind of race, but no less spectacular.  My Big Sur movie is shorter than the Boston one though.

The Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge is meant to be a physical challenge – 2 marathons in 7 to 14 days (this was the first year it was 7 days for me).  I run with Janet though, and at this point I can do a 4-ish hour marathon on fairly short notice so for me it wasn’t a huge challenge.  For Janet though, this was her first time doing two in 7 days and she had run Boston at nearly-max effort.  We went into the run just trying to have fun.  The start is downhill, Janet is a good downhill runner, and we’ve always started too fast.  We lined up slightly ahead of the 4:30 pace group, thinking that’s how we might finish.  This year, we actually controlled ourselves and managed to keep the first mile at 9:50-ish pace (she ran Boston around 9:20/mile).  From there we just ran based on how she was feeling and didn’t stress out much about things like portapotty stops.  No walking and no cramping though.  Near the end I started doing pace math in my head, but Janet didn’t want to hear anything about it so I kept silent.  Around mile 25 though I couldn’t help myself and told her that she had a chance to go under 4:10 and a slight chance to beat her Boston time.  She’s quite good at ignoring implied challenges like that though, and there’s one last hill at mile 25 so she just plugged her way up that and didn’t even bother with her usual sprint down the backside.  When we finished my watch read 4:08 – just like Boston – and when I looked at the results it turned out she had run Big Sur (which is hillier) about 15 seconds faster than Boston 7 days earlier.  Nice job!

I’m not sure we’ll go back to Big Sur after this year – the day was too perfect and I can’t imagine it ever being that good again.  Cloud cover kept it from being too warm.  There were wisps of fog around the lighthouse to make it even more beautiful but not so much that the views were obscured.  Most importantly, there was no wind.  Or possibly even a tailwind.  Hurricane Point is aptly named on some days but this year it felt like there was a slight breeze pushing us uphill.  The race seemed even more excellently organized in the past.  There were only a couple brief car convoys and otherwise we had Highway 1 and the Pacific Coast to foot traffic only.  I can’t think of one thing that could have been better.

As the video “shows”, Deena Kastor announced the start of the race (that’s her in the purple-ish jacket on the grandstand at the start – get your magnifying glass out).  The day after the race, Janet and I did a 6 mile recovery run along the shore of Pacific Grove.  As we were starting back from the turnaround and just about to get back on the narrow trail, we noticed a woman coming towards us.  There wasn’t room to pass and she seemed to be moving along, so we stepped aside and waited for her.  As she passed, I couldn’t help myself and blurted out “Are you Deena Kastor?”  Um, yes.  She stopped briefly and we talked about the great day and two great weekends (she was in Boston as well).  A very nice ending to a great weekend.

Although B2BS is intended as a physical challenge, the real reason to do it is that there are 2 spectacular runs that happen to be in the same timeframe and it’s hard to pass on either one.


  1. Great videos, especially the Big Sur stuff, wow, the views! And the music chosen for the Big Sur video was spot on,

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