-Seeing is believing-
Let that be a lesson to me. Donna Troyna, Grizzled Vet of 22 Big Sur marathons, told me exactly how to race the course. "Go out slow and save it for the Carmel Highlands", she said. Her advice only reiterated the advice in the Monterey Herald. Some lessons have to be learned the hard way and this is one of those lessons.
Big Sur is a hilly course. There is little or no flat terrain in the race. I had read this prior to the start but I didn't internalize it until I was experiencing it.
I went out much too fast. 6:10-6:40 for the first six miles. I somehow developed an inflated view of my fitness in the last month. I didn't understand the correlation between my long tempo & progression runs and marathon race pace. I ran 7:05 pace for 24 miles at Crystal Springs which was very close to a race effort. With hindsight I should have tried to run 7:00-7:05 pace at Big Sur. The effect of added competition on race day is consumed by the difficulty of the course.
By Hurricane point (the highest point of the race) I had stomach cramps and was having difficulty taking food. The gatorade I drank probably contributed to this. I've gotten really bad at drinking from cups. I poured more water over me than in my mouth. I found drinking water helped to alleviate the stomach cramps but when I took another GU I cramped again. This was the same feeling I had years ago in the Boston Marathon when I went out too fast and suffered through cramps and shortness of breath for the second half. I basically struggled to the finish with stomach cramps coming and going.
*Drinking from cups - I need to practice this (how sad is that?) or carry water with me.
*Race strategy - Need to correlate key workouts like 24 mile tempo at Crystal Springs or half marathon race to a negative split marathon strategy. I need to develop the discipline to negative split so that I can finish strong. I can always speed up in the last 10K if I feel I've left too much in reserve.
*Mileage - I averaged less than 50 miles a week from February through April with a max of 90 miles. Need to average 90 miles a week although it will take a long time to build to this level.
*Course Specific knowledge - if I want to run fast on the course I need to run it (at least half).
*Orthotics - no problems during the race and only minor blisters under the arch by the finish. This is a huge victory because I've dealt with everything from shin splints to IT band problems during the buildup to Big Sur. I am wearing the orthotics full time now. I made changes to the orthotics, adding EVA slices and duct tape, up until the day before the race and it paid off with a pain free run.
*Yoga/stretching - I was loose and 'even' for the whole race. I didn't have any particular muscle problems.