NYC Sweat
Nov 19

Big Sur Half Marathon 2013: Listen to your Coach

Official Race Results: 13.1 miles 1.43. 28/7.53


Let me preface this race recap with a note for any new runners out there. Or some not so new runners who are looking to take it up a notch. Whether you run an 8, 9, 10 or above minute mile pace, with hard work, dedication and a proper race-plan, you can do anything. Trust me. A proper race-plan being the most important. It keeps you healthy. It keeps you focused. There are so many smart coaches out there. If you ever need any help or guidance, just ask. I’ll point you in the right direction. Now on to the greatly anticipated by my tens of fans Big Sur Half Marthon recap.

Remember that scene in Days of Thunder. Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall) makes a deal with  Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise). Run 50 laps Harry’s way (Harry is the coach) and then Tom Cruise’s way (the driver), then check the tires to see which has more damage. After the 50 laps driven both ways, the tires driven like Cruise typically drives is far more worn than when he drove carefully. Lesson? Listen to the coach!


This was my goal race for 2013. On many levels. Ever since seeing the medal on Pavement Runner’s Top 10 favorite medals list, Big Sur has been on my brain more often than not. Originally the plan was to run Malibu on November 10th with Big Sur the following week on the 17th. Foot got hurt back in August, plan modified. Big Sur was last man standing. Or woman standing since 65% of the Big Sur field is female.


Toronto was a month ago. The race I DID NOT follow the plan Jess had in store for me. It was my first race back from injury, the blood was flowing, I started out way too fast for the first five or so miles and hit a massive wall. We PRed that race with a 1.46/8.05 but it was horribly run on my part. Not this time. This time I promised myself and Jess I would stick to the plan. Along with the numerous texts from various people the night prior to FOLLOW THE PLAN. Listen to Jess. Listen to Jess. Listen to Jess


If you have not had the chance to get to Monterey, CA, this race should be on your life-list. I can only imagine the Northeast shoreline races in Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island etc. looking somewhat like what I saw during my stay in Monterey but there is something spiritual about running along the Pacific Ocean. Along those cliffs. This was the most beautiful course I have come across yet. It makes me want to make this race a yearly occurrence. A part of me even wants to make sure I do the full marathon in April! I can’t, I know. I have Surf City in February but hey, 2015 possibly!? Roadtrip!


I arrived Friday night so I would have all day Saturday to check out the expo, get in a 20 minute shakeout run and relax. I was also determined to keep east coast hours for this trip. I hate jet lag with a passion.


The 20 minute shakeout run was fun for one very specific reason. Seals sing to you while you run the coast along Fisherman’s wharf. “Arf Arf Arf My lips are sealed” Name the movie?


Look ma, Seals!


Scared of Seals

Scared of Seals

Dinner the evening prior consisted of a monster plate of possibly vegetarian meatballs and spaghetti #nomnomnom along with the obligatory one and a half beers. I always leave half for the running gods. Yes, I’m very superstitious.


Speaking of superstitions, I thought this race was going to be a train wreck from the second I arrived. I somehow dropped my #SweatingForAli wristband along the way. I have yet to workout or run without that wristband. So sad.


The race plan Jess drew up:

Miles 0-3: 8.05

Miles 3.-7: 7.50-8

Miles 7-10: 7.45-7.55

Miles 10-13.1: Race! Take each mile as it comes. An uncomfortable pace but not all out effort.

Miles 12-13.1: Empty the gas tank but maintain the pace for a mile.


The first three miles were going to make or break this race for me. I had to do everything in my power to not start out too fast and follow the plan. So not easy. I start out all my races at 7.30. Same happened with this race. I let the flow of mile one just take me with the crowds but staring at my watch I made sure to keep the pace to around 8. Which felt so slow at the start of a race with all that adrenaline flowing. One of the really cool things about this race were live bands every couple of miles or so. And the cheerleaders from various high schools were out in full force. And I swear I saw some two year old holding up a poster that read “Run like a zombie.” Too cute.


There was something else different about this race vs. my others. It was challenging. Rolling hills every couple miles or so. I had thought there was going to be one hill between mile 2 and 3 but there were plenty more mini hills to keep runners honest. Toronto and Boston were relatively flat races. Fast races. This course was by no means flat! The worst was the down stretch mile I believe was right after 12 as you headed towards the finish. That one crushed me.


Keeping with Jess’s plan I was pounding out mile after mile sub 8. And I was not getting tired this time. I felt like I could even run faster but didn’t want to push it. There was plenty to keep me pre-occupied with this race though. Mainly the views were as pretty as I have ever seen. The waves crashing against rocks the entire race. Endless views of the ocean. I wish I had Google Glass for this race to have properly captured what I’m trying to describe. Just gorgeous. I took my iPhone out to take a pic or two but found my pace slowing when I did so vowed no more pics after just a couple.


I realized at mile 8 I was definitely going to hit my goal of 1.44. I just felt too good and my paces were all around 7.45 at that point ex a hill climb or two. For a second 1.40 even crossed my mind. At mile 13? Victory!


Now for the annoying part. I think I may have over-ran the course by .1. My watch and the official time did not match up. Since I have the mile splits on my watch we’ll just use the 1.42 for now but that’s unfortunately an unofficial time by a minute.


Either way I crossed the finish line under my goal time of 1.44. I had not run a sub 8.00 race yet. When I first started with Jess I believe I was at around a 1.52 13.1. So to get down to under 1.44 in six months took a lot of dedication and hard work but we did it! She’ll say I did it but if Toronto proved anything, without a proper plan I really don’t think I could have ran a sub 8.00 race. Sucks for Jess because now I want to run a 1.39 half! That’s the new half goal. And yes, I will get to that 1.39. I want it. I’ll get it.


New Balance 890 V4s rock!

The medal. Oh what a beautiful medal. I think one of the things non-runners make fun of runners for is we love our medals. I dunno. To me they represent many many months of hard work. To some it is a symbol the impossible is possible. To some it is a symbol of overcoming a tough week, month or year. Pavement Runner was right, albeit just a half, this medal is so cool to look at.  And while years from now it may be in some storage unit somewhere, to me it will always symbolize my first race where one of my true goals was met head on.


I would like to thank all those who continue to inspire and motivate me. I’m trying to do my part in passing along to others my new found love of running. A couple of my friends just started and have decided to run half marathons sooner vs. later. They want to now. My response to that is they’ve already won half the battle. Wanting to and knowing you can. That is the secret sauce. And while many ups and downs come with the territory, you learn so much about yourself as a person. May each and every one of you find your awesome.

Run Strong Run Fast Run Free #RunnerStrong

Courtesy of

Courtesy of


  1. Coach Jess

    November 19, 2013


    YOU did it! I want to print this out and frame it! I’m so proud of you and admire your dedication.

    As for that video, I’m definitely using it in the future.


    • Gregg

      November 19, 2013


      Best coach ever!

  2. Steph

    November 19, 2013


    Great job!!! A serious congrats on an amazing time! It can be hard following a plan, you get so excited and the adrenaline takes over.

    Nice work, you’ve totally got a 1:39 in you!

    • Gregg

      November 19, 2013


      Thanks! I can not wait to cheer you on for you race in December!

  3. Dori

    November 19, 2013


    Congrats!! Isn’t wanting to improve addicting?

    • Kara

      November 19, 2013


      I second this – it really is!

  4. Kara

    November 19, 2013


    WOW!! Your improvements are incredible!!! I am so beyond excited for you…much deserved. Your dedication and hard work are each so inspiring!

  5. Beth

    November 21, 2013


    Amazing race! Amazing recap! You definitely have a 1:39 in you. “Wanting to and knowing you can. That is the secret sauce.” I LOVE THIS. I’m so proud of you, GB! Can’t wait to see what you do at Surf City. Keep up the amazing work!

    • Gregg

      November 22, 2013


      Thank you Thank you Miss Marathoner!

  6. Meggie

    November 21, 2013


    Great race! And, sad news – overrunning the course by 0.1 is pretty good! I always expect to overrun the course – the measure it by perfect tangents, which is impossible to do hwen there are people to weave through and such! Great job!

    • Gregg

      November 22, 2013


      Thanks Dr. Awesome! Looking forward to your next race!

Leave a comment