The 2014 Big Sur Marathon Recap

16 electric chainsaw  

Okay. The month of April is over. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little sad. The month was epic. It was a month of dreams coming true. It was a month of finally getting the opportunity to do the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge that a year ago I thought I was never going to get the chance to do.

I’m convinced no dream is too big if you believe in your heart that you can do it and it’s meant to be. It’s all about figuring out how bad you really want it.

I REALLY wanted this and by God’s grace and a lot of hard work and sacrifice (not just by me, but my family and friends as well) I got to live my dream.

Let’s recap it, shall we?

Here we go with the Big Sur Marathon recap.

 

I woke up right on time for a chance at 3:00 am. Yeah, that was fun. Luckily I had fueled the right way the night before with an entire no cheese pizza and had already gotten my race outfit ready.

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Handful bra, Mizuno Akemi singlet tank, Mizuno Jasmyn Sunset Skirt, Spibelt, Pro Compression arm sleeves, Pro Compression chevron marathon socks, Asics tech gloves, Mizuno Wave Sayonara shoes and cheap handwarmers. Not pictured was my Halo visor and BIC Bands headband.

Oh wait, there’s my headband.

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Ha.

Finding the bus pick up location at 4:00 am in Carmel was pretty easy. The streets were quiet, but luckily I saw a guy running to catch the shuttle so I just followed him.

The only way to get to the start is on the shuttles and they have to leave really early because it takes awhile to get to the start. Then they have to close down the entire Highway 1 for the race.

I didn’t have any coffee for the trip, but I did have my banana, NuttZo and PocketFuel.

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In full disclosure, I keep carrying around an emergency PocketFuel pack, but haven’t tried them yet. I didn’t want to do anything new right before the race, but had it just in case I needed a little caffeine kick and there wasn’t coffee at the start.

I also had a random wheat roll I bought at a deli the day before in my bag.

The shuttle ride was long and dark.

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There was barely any cell phone reception and it was about 10 minutes into the hour long ride that I realized my GPS was still at the hotel charging. Lovely. It actually was kind of a nice feeling. Almost a relief in a way. One less thing to worry about. I wanted to run to just enjoy the course anyway.

I had heard that it was going to be cold waiting up at the start and knew that once we got there we still had over an hour before the race actually started.

I was very thankful for those cheap hand warmers. I was also thankful that there was hot coffee even though the line was a little long.

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It was all about double fisting.

They also had bagels and bananas, but I was too busy trying to balance my coffee to check those out.

There were people everywhere and not that many places to sit or get situated.

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I found a corner of a supply table they had set up with Vaseline and sunscreen and such for the runners to make a little pre race sandwich.

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Don’t mind me. That wheat roll I bought by the way, not good. I ate it anyway, but was not impressed. At least I had some Peanut Free NuttZo to doctor it up a bit.

The lines for the port-a-potties were LONG.

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I have this thing for always choosing the slowest moving line. I guess it’s a gift. Ha. Standing in line for over 30 minutes did have it’s benefits though as I met the cute Cassandra.

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This was her first marathon since having her daughter who just turned one year old.

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And why yes, we were still in that same line when the sun came up. Seriously, we were there awhile.

Finally it was time to shed a layer and check my gear.

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I kept my jacket on as a throw away, but checked my gloves, pants and cool Boston poncho.

Then I made my way up the hill to the start line.

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We had to walk up and around as the race started facing the other way. So we got to walk past my buddies Bart Yasso and Rudy and do the whole “oh hey, hi, I know you” and wave thing.

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They had pacers with signs lined up in different waves. It was all on the honor system. You lined up and stood with the group that had the same projected finish time.

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I wasn’t quite sure how the race would go, so I stood up where the 3:25 pacer was standing. I actually never run with pacers, but I figured if I stayed ahead of him I’s be good to go.

It was so different from Boston as there weren’t very many people right where I was standing and things were pretty quite.

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They kept warning people over the microphone about the poison oak that was everywhere in the bushes on the side of the road.

Obviously everyone took the warnings very seriously.

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And yes, that happens at every race. There are always men doing their thing on the side of the road.

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I didn’t know my friend Deena Kastor was going to be there, but sure enough she popped up on stage and gave everyone a little pep talk.

They always have the Star Spangled Banner at the beginning of every race. It always gives me chill and makes me tear up a bit. This one had a male soloist sing it and with the setting and the atmosphere, it was just magical. (Thanks Sandra for reminding me.)

Soon afterwards, everyone inched their way up and we were off.

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This was the one and only picture I took along the way.

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Nice one, huh? My darn ziploc case.

I thought about taking it really easy the whole course and taking pictures as it really was the most beautiful course I have ever run in my entire life, but I figured I was forced to do that last year when I hobbled my way through the 10.6 miler so this was my year to see what I could do.

My legs were pretty tired right off the bat. I wasn’t sure how that would end up either, but other than just being a bit tired I felt pretty good.

No tummy issues, just a little pain on the top of my right foot and a bit of a head cold. Things could have definitely been worse.

The weather was perfect running weather. Chilly, but not too cold. It was overcast for the majority of the run so it was nice. I’d heard the wind sometimes picks up, but we got lucky and there was barely any wind.

Since I didn’t have my GPS, I had my Nike+ phone app on my iPhone so it could tell me my pace and so I could listen to music in one ear.

I started out around a 7:17 pace and felt fine so just kind of went with it. I anticipated slowing down at some point as there were some hills coming my way.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the course.

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[source]

I can’t even tell you how beautiful and awesome it was. Hills and all.

It was quiet a lot of the time. You’re just out there in nature running one of the most amazing marathons in the world. No big deal. Seriously, I kept wanting to pinch myself.

The hills sneak up on you though. I was feeling really great still at mile 10, but that’s when those darn hills start.

Yeah, especially that big hill there up to Hurricane Point, that’s no joke. You climb that monster for awhile. Holy smokes was I glad I took my first GU at the bottom of that bad boy.

Crossing the Bixby Bridge was one heck of an amazing feeling. I’d only seen it in pictures before (like this one),

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but actually being able to run over that was remarkable. And then to see the famous Michael Martinez playing the grand piano at the end, well, there are no words. Lots of people were taking pictures with him. I was tempted, but kept on trucking.

I have to say one of the really cool things about this race is that you see so many different people out on the course though. Runners, walkers, people doing the relay, the 10.6 miler, the 21 miler, the 9.2 miler, the 5K, etc. Everyone is out there just doing his or her own thing.

Some are racing like they mean business and others are just walking, chatting, enjoying the course and taking pictures all along the way.

It’s definitely a race for anyone to enjoy.

 

I took my Vega Gel at mile 16 or so I think. And then a half of another GU (they were handing them out at two of the aid stations) around mile 21. I’m not totally sure.

The famous strawberries at mile 23 looked delicious, but I got to stop and hang out there a while last year so I just waved and passed them up this time.

The last few miles I was still feeling good. My GPS on my phone stopped at mile 23 so I had no music and no idea what my pace was from then one. It was nice though. It really didn’t matter and was almost refreshing to just be in quiet the last few miles of a race. I got in a lot of self talk.

Around mile 24 I stopped for water and my friend Jeff (Runner’s World Gear Guy) ran on by with his buddy and gave me a little “Let’s go Kristin” shout out.

It was exactly what I needed. I saw them speed by and kept them in my sights for a bit. I never caught up with them, but that extra little cheer helped.

A lot of others were cheering too as you passed them. The walkers who were doing the shorter distances were all so nice as the marathoners ran by. 

After that mile 25 sign it was all good. Oh and by the way, every single mile marker sign is hand painted and hilarious. I took pictures of all of them last year. I didn’t get to this year though. Best mile marker signs ever at a race though.

All I could think about was crossing that finish line with the biggest smile ever on my face and hugging Andrew. It meant so much to me that he was there at the end of this race. The thought of seeing him pushed me through.

And then………

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I was done!

I was a Big Sur Marathon finisher. No idea what my time was, I knew it was better than Boston and was thinking it was under 3:20, but I wasn’t even thinking about that. In fact, I didn’t even look at the official clock. Weird.

All I could think about was that I did it. It was even more incredible than I thought it would be. I felt great, God gave me the gift to work my bootie off and get to not only the starting line, but over that finish line as well.

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It was the greatest feeling ever.

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Just wanting something so badly, working for it, dreaming about it and then having it actually happen even after people and doctors doubted it.

And…

being able to share that moment with someone I love and who has been there for me through it all even though he did not sign up for this racing business,

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well, I can’t even put that into words.

This guy, one of the first things he said to me was that he missed me crossing the finish line. He got these two pictures though. They’re close enough, right?

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He was there on time for a change, but somehow missed me. He claimed he was reading the blog. He also claimed he had shin splints from the long walk (about a mile) from the hotel to the finish festival.

It really didn’t matter. Props to him for being there and for visiting the blog once a month or so. Ha.

Love this guy.

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As promised, my man Bart was there to give me a big hug at the finish line too.

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I’m actually pretty sure he gave hugs to the majority of finishers that day. He is just the nicest guy ever.

Andrew attempted to make up for missing my finish by getting some shots of my finish line shenanigans with Bart and Rudy. Bart even took a selfie of us. I felt pretty special.

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Oh yeah, there’s my girl Pam finishing in the background.

Two weekends in a row racing with this amazing lady. All the way across the country from Boston to Big Sur.

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I had to take one more picture of my hard earned medal,

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then I finally made my way to the special Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge finishers tent.

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They had a nice private tent for us and a good spread of food.

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They also had Michelob Ultra. A certain someone was happy about that. It helped numb the shin splint pain a bit.

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He had beer, I had my Vega recovery accelerator that he so kindly brought for me along with my jacket.

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I found my girl Shirley for a hug and my special Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge medal.

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I got a little chilly (I always do after races) so left the tent to pick up my gear. It was the easiest gear pick up ever.

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Then I went back through the Marathon Village

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and found the results tent so I could find out what my actual time was.

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What do you know. I got a PR by 2 seconds.

I’ll take that.

One quick side note, everything about the Bug Sur Marathon is green. Love that they focus on taking care of our environment with everything they do. These were set up everywhere.

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Back at our special tent, Pam, Nicole and I got to hang out for a bit with our families.

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Then it was time for awards.

I made sure to stock up on some strawberries since I missed them on the course.

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Best strawberries and best bagel I’ve ever had by the way.

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The awards ceremony was pretty quick. I had no idea what I was getting or how I placed, but Rudy told me not to go anywhere so I figured I was getting something.

My first award was 5th place in the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge.

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The top five finishers (both men and women) with combined times from Boston and Big Sur get this award.

My combined times of the two marathons just 6 days apart was 6:39:57.

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For age group awards I got 2nd place for the 35-39 female group.

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That gal by me, Amy Gordan, she’s fast and passed me up around mile 23 or so I think. I couldn’t keep up with her. We got to chat a bit during awards though and she was so nice. We both agreed that even though we’re getting older we still feel like we have some big PRs in us.

And, I could not pass up this photo opportunity before we headed out to find a shuttle back to Carmel.

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Anyone know who this is? I don’t, but feel like I should. Hmm….

 

And friends, if you’re still here and you just read this novel of a recap post, I thank you.

For more than just reading this, for being there with me along this crazy journey. For letting me share the ups and the downs in running, racing and just in life. For your encouragement and for helping me get up again and again after I stumble.

I don’t deserve any of this, but I am a true believer that no dream is too big. If you want something bad enough, you can and you WILL make it happen.

People are going to doubt you and try to knock you down, that’s just how life works, but you use that as extra motivation. You know, show them who’s boss and what you’re really made of.

Get out there and find out just how great life can be if you step out of your comfort zone and go for something you really want.

DO IT!

This race lit a new fire in me. One that makes me want to go for something even bigger and see what else is out there. To see if maybe, just maybe, I was made for even more.

If not, that’s okay, but heck I’m going to make some new goals, give it my all and find out.

You know, after I had such a tough marathon in March, I had some doubts about what I could do. Well, the past two weeks have helped me kick those doubts to the curb. Tough times and tough races are all part of life.

This race was my first Big Sur Marathon and first Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge.

It will definitely NOT be my last.

I’m hooked. I love absolutely everything about this race. The course, the people, the California coast, the hometown feeling and yes, even the hills.

I’m already planning on it next year. Yes, yes I am.

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I’m also already planning on the Big Sur Half Marathon in November. That’s a really fun one too.

 

Okay.

Done.

Let’s get out there and be remarkable friends.

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You can do ANYTHING you want!

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And you really should put the Big Sur Marathon (or any of the other races they offer the same weekend) on your bucket list. Hmm… in fact, I’m going to have to tell my parents that they just might be doing the Big Sur 5K next year. Yep, I just decided for them. Can’t wait to share the news.

Smile

 

gamecube chainsaw controller Tell me your dream you’re going to go for. I know you have one.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Kathy says:

    Dang girl this recap rocked and so do you!!!

    As soon as I figure out my dream I will let you know….I don’t know what’s worse….not having a dream(one major goal in life) or having so many little ones that we don’t tackle any. ;(

  2. 2
    Michelle Kim says:

    A 2 second PR on THAT course??? You are a rockstar!
    Ran Big Sur last year and totally loved it :) . So gorgeous, and all of the mile marker signs were hilarious!

  3. 3
    Janet says:

    Sniffle… this is an amazing recap, thank you so much Kristin! But I do not agree with something you said… you DO DESERVE this!!! And much more, as you are an incredible inspiration to me and many others… keep on truckin! Hugs!

  4. 4
    sandra burke says:

    Love your blog recap and congratulations. This was a dream marathon for me too. Wanted to do it in the year I turn 50. Your now have me thinking about B2B. You forgot to mention one other beautiful thing about this marathon – the male solo rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner in such beautiful surroundings before the start. Breath taking.

  5. 5
    Laura P says:

    I love your race recaps–they are so thorough! Congrats again on your two amazing races.

  6. 6
    Meg G. says:

    Great post! I love the Big Sur Marathon, it was my first one!! Congrats on Boston 2 Big Sur :)

  7. 7
    Kim says:

    Awesome recap and super awesome job on both of those races. To get a PR just 6 days after racing another marathon?! You are truly amazing!!! Can’t wait to see what your next goals are!!

  8. 8

    I am going to qualify for Boston! Most people think i am crazy because of how far I have to go but I bound and determined!

  9. 9
    Pam says:

    wonderful re-cap Kristin!! I loved reading all of your words. you really did so soo well!!! congrats on your new PR as well. :)

    I enjoyed getting more acquainted with you. Spending the weekend with you & Sarah will be memories that I’ll treasure always! we’re getting older but, no plans on slowing down!! let’s keep enjoying the lives we’re living, our families & our passion for running. It never gets old!!! love ya friend & see you next year in Boston & Big Sur. Big Sur quickly shot up to my favorite marathon. looking forward to next year already!! xoxo

  10. 10
    Tracy Carson says:

    Great recap! Congratulations, this is a HUGE accomplishment, you are SO speedy, it’s awesome! And you know what else is awesome? The fact that you took a picture of the men relieving themselves in the Forrest with dangerous poison oak…and blogged about it as part of your recap! That is what makes you awesome.

  11. 11
    Courtney says:

    i’m so proud of you! i love that your man was there at the end. and i love how you balance everything in your life!

  12. 12
    Jen says:

    You are such an inspiration! I am so excited FOR you :) Congratulations, you deserved this, girl!

  13. 13

    I ran this marathon in 2010 and it’s one of my favorites! I spent most of the race looking at the beautiful scenery instead of the road like you do in most road races. Congrats on your fast time, PR and award!

  14. 14
    Cassandra says:

    Love the recap Kristin! I’m so happy that you PRd on those super hard hills but even more thrilled to have met you. I think you helped put a little pep in my step because I did so much better than I thought I would! I hope to chat with you again in the near future and maybe you’ll give me some of those PR vibes, haha! Cheers to a great race!!!

  15. 15
    Shannon says:

    This is random but have you tried purple sweet potato ice cream. I saw a recipe today and thought of you….
    All you do is steam the potato, peel, puree with milk, and then freeze or put in ice cream maker. Worth a try :)
    And you are amazing and so inspiring.

  16. 16

    Looks like a gorgeous race. Congratulations on the challenge and your time, wow, so impressive and so motivating!
    PS: I guess peeing is much more important than avoiding poison oak?

  17. 17
    Jennifer mykytiuk says:

    Thanks for the recap- you took me down memory lane of my first marathon- big sur! Loved every minute of it! Except we had a lot of wind up hurricane point! I really is the most beautiful marathon ever! Nd so well organizd! Every year we run this we have nothing but good experiences! Congrats on your medals and awards! You are awesome!!

  18. 18
    Sasha says:

    I love this and am SO happy for you! Amazing.

  19. 19
    Tess says:

    Fantastic, inspiring, memorable…….I’m in AWE!

  20. 20
    patrick voo says:

    AMAZING job kristin – i’m totally inspired! thanks for sharing this amazing journey with us all!

  21. 21

    You are awesome.
    This course is awesome.
    The medal is awesome.
    The new Mizuno gear is awesome….
    are you noticing a theme???

    I would love to do a half out there, but living in a lace that is totally flat do not know if I could do the full. My grandma actually lives pretty near by, just a bit North near the 1 in Monterey.

    • 21.1
      Julie says:

      Hey Abby,
      Hope you come out for the half marathon. Did you know that it’s NOT on the marathon course, but a much FLATTER course along the beautiful Monterey Bay. Definitely DOable and ATTAINABLE. Hope to see you in Monterey in November!

  22. 22

    Congrats on your PR and such an amazing accomplishment! I remember last year you were so bummed when Boston didn’t happen and then Big Sur. So happy to see you do it this year! Awesome and great photos!

  23. 23
    Kristine says:

    You are amazing! Now I am a bit sorry that I chickened out on Big Sur after running Boston this year despite having an entry. I will definitely have to think about actually doing B2B next year…

  24. 24

    Congratulations! I’m so happy for you that you have done such amazing things after you were told you couldn’t run – it has to feel great! And I love that you have such great family support too!

    I want to run a marathon. Now I just have to find one and find the time to train for it!

  25. 25

    I never know where to start or what to say in these posts of yours that amaze the crap out of me! You are friggin amazing!!!!!!! So cute & fun too!!!!!!

    I always wondered about the peeing thing with men & women… maybe send me a personal note to let me know.. I can barely do my outside Sunday run & not have to stop in to pee before I ever finish & the older I get the worse it gets! ;)

    HUGE CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Yes, I was born in Boston but lived about 20 minutes outside of there.

  26. 26

    PS: The Boston has nothing to do with this post but your comment on the Boston one – ;)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Stuft Mama blogger ran the Big Sur Marathon (CA) in 3:17:43 and earned herself a PR on the tough course after running the Boston Marathon six days before! [...]

  2. [...] won’t be chatty this evening. I’m still a little drained from the 2014 Big Sur Marathon recap post, as I’m sure you are also from reading that lengthy [...]

  3. [...] that’s me he’s talking about. I’m the “swerver”. I said in my recap post that my friend cheered for me around mile 25 or so. This was him. Funny that I was struggling and [...]

  4. [...] another race recap. This won’t be as lengthy as my Big Sur Marathon recap and there aren’t any races coming up in the near future besides Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego [...]

  5. [...] Roll San Diego Marathon which seems kind of funny as I only did two longer training runs since the 2014 Big Sur Marathon. There hasn’t been much time in between, but it made me think about long runs a bit. I thought [...]

  6. [...] and the glorious Pam (we both did the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge). [...]

  7. [...] are. Honestly my dream for a long time was to complete the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge and I got to live out that dream just a couple months [...]

  8. [...] Challenge Round Two here I come. It was a huge highlight of this year and I can’t wait to see what 2015 [...]

  9. [...] year’s race recap is here. Just in case I thought I’d [...]

  10. [...] don’t know how in the heck I got my current PR on this course two years ago. [...]

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