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Yesterday, someone asked what my plans were for the weekend.  I shrugged & said I was running a half marathon.  I realized later how strange that sounded, even to my ears.

Because once, a half marathon seemed like an impossible distance.  And although I won’t be running the entire half this weekend (my training has been sporadic at best), the allure of running thirteen miles has diminished.  Don’t get me wrong: I have many improvements to make at this distance.  But the scary part – the impossible part – is no longer there.

What makes this weekend better:

1. buttahcup will be running her first full marathon.  I can’t wait to congratulate her on joining an even smaller number of people who run this distance.  (Something crazy like the 1% of the 1%.)

2. The infamous Robby K is running his first half marathon this weekend & has a goal time of 85 minutes.  For those non-math wiz’s – that is a 6:45 minute mile!  For 13.1 miles!  This race is big for several reasons – one reason which he thinks is not as important.  He is not a planner.  All his past races, his modus operandi is to sign up the morning of the race.  So, for him to sign up months in advance and put in the training is a bigger accomplishment than just crossing the finish line.  He has his eye on a BQ this year (in his 1st or 2nd marathon).

I can’t wait to hear their stories!

3. A few of my TNT girls are heading to Portland this weekend to run the inaugural Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon.  Part of me wishes I was joining them because these girls are top notch & really, some of the most inspirational girls I know.

Wishing everyone swift feet & great weather this weekend!  And if you’re not running, I’ll wish you fair skies.

I was really excited to travel to Big Sur.  Not because there was a race in Big Sur, even if that race is touted as the marathon you should run, if you run only one.  But because I had some beatnik vision of what Big Sur was all about plus a little nonsense about the mystical properties of the area.

What we’ve learned about moi: I am easily influenced by books.

And seriously, when you come across a view like this, how can you not be inspired?

But I digress.  Due to things that sound like excuses (coaching, lack of rest, etc), I opted out of the full marathon.  I had a few feelings about it.  Even though I paid the extra money to be a part of the Runner’s World Challenge, I felt unworthy of taking any part of their service (I think mostly the after race tent & festivities).

Tail between my legs, grabbed my number for the 9 mile race & left the expo.  Even avoiding the runner man extraordinaire, Bart Yasso, who I have wanted to meet since I signed up with Team in Training last spring!  (Maybe he’ll come to the Seattle Marathon in November & I can make up for my blunder!)

And now, for the race…

Standing at the starting line, I wondered why I was there.  I mean, I’d run 7.5 miles two weeks before the race and 13.1 miles a month before that.  I wasn’t training.  In fact, I had done the opposite of train & only played volleyball.

The horn blew & I started to run.  The first mile is always the hardest and this mile was no different.  Reaching a small hill, I stopped to walk as we entered into a neighborhood and the milepost 1 sign.  At the end of the neighborhood, we took a right onto a sandy path with the following view opening up.

GOR-GEOUS!

I ran a little on the sandy path, stopping to take photos here & there.  I finally gave up & decided it wasn’t worth running anymore.  By that, I was stopping so often to take photos, I decided it was better to enjoy the scenery along this course & worry nothing about the race.

The moment I decided to enjoy the view…

After the first milepost, I didn’t see another until I was back on the marathon course and I’m a bit hesitant to believe I walked a nine mile course.  Mostly, because it was the fastest nine miles I ever experienced.  Or maybe, this is what happens when you enjoy the scenery & focus none on the run.

We entered Point Lobos State Park (worth the park admission to see the view!!), was serenaded by an Irish flutist (??) followed by a Scottish bagpiper.  All the while, wondering when I was going to see the next mile marker (I was wearing one day old new shoes).  Point Lobos has been referred as “the greatest meeting of land & water in the world” by landscape artist Francis McComas.  I am not sure I agree 100% but it is not the first time I’ve been intrigued to check out a place based on what someone else said.   (Milford Sound, New Zealand & Rudyard Kipling declaring it the “eighth Wonder of the World” may ring a bell.)

Point Lobos

More Pt Lobos

After the turn around & following my footsteps out of the park, I came face to face with those rare creatures – the marathon runner.  For the last 2-3 miles, I walked along the road as marathoners ran past me.  The runners passing me were in the 3:25:00 – 3:40:00 range.  I was impressed.  Running a hilly course (there is a 2.2 mile hill in the middle), these runners looked so strong.  No shuffling steps.  No ragged breathing.  Minus one leg cramp, they looked as if they had just run one mile.

After seeing the course, I think I may have been a bit premature thinking it was a good first marathon.  And maybe it would have been – who knows.  I do know, I’ll be back.

I was all set to write a race recap on Big Sur & as I started going through the photos I wanted to add, I saw my jellyfish photos from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  And all thoughts of running & races vanished.

The timing is good because I have been planning (and non-stop daydreaming) my trip to Honduras to learn to scuba dive.  October cannot get here fast enough!

Back to the aquarium.  I love them.  My favorite to date is still the Atlanta Aquarium.  Also interesting, because they have whale sharks – the very animal I am praying to bump into in Honduras.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is currently housing a traveling jellyfish exhibit.  Really, the only reason I wanted to go – some of the jellyfish are fascinating.  Who knew there were so many different types?

Garden variety aquarium jellyfish resident

Another common jellyfish

Now for the exotic jellyfish…

I have about seven photography apps on my phone – most have remained dormant.  If Chicago was all about the retro camera, then Big Sur was all about the panorama.  But really, when you have rock strewn coast lines & an ocean that never quits, how can you capture even a remote portion of that without a panoramic view?  (Also, totally unsure how they will look formatted here… but click on them for a bigger view.)

17 MILE DRIVE

Between China & Bird Rock

Bird Rock

Fanshell Overlook

POINT LOBOS

Between Sand Hill & China Cove (across from the Mound Meadow)

Closer to China Cove

And finally, a very foggy look at Bixby Bridge.  You can see a vague sliver of coast line.  So much for seeing the famous bridge (except in bits & pieces).

Bixby Bridge

Anyone interested in a trip down the California coast?

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on the road

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