The Big Sur Human Spectrum: Intimidation to Love

I could probably write about Big Sur until the cows come home.  I have so many thoughts and somanyfeelings it’s kind of obnoxious and I’m getting sick of hearing myself talk about it — I can’t imagine how over it you are.

There are two things that need to be discussed however:  the intimidation factor of this race and the balance of amazingly sweet, caring people you’ll meet while you’re there.

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And funny.  Apparently very funny people.

The intimidation started on the tiny puddle hopping plane we took from Phoenix to Monterrey.  After MB and I were settled in the front row, the long line of bright orange jackets started shuffling by us.  All these people had run Boston.  Normally when I see people in a Boston jacket I beam at them like an idiot, congratulate the heartily and ask how it went.  I had never, up to this point, seen a literal herd of them anywhere, never mind getting on an airplane.  And I panicked a little.  These were really serious racers getting on the airplane to go to the race I was running.

That panic did not abate at all until I was well positioned with the 5:30 pace group and with my people at the back of the pack.  From the hotel lobby, to the expo, to the bus ride there, the seriousserious marathoners were everywhere, talking about Boston to Big Sur, BQs, time goals for the race {never over 4 hours, JUST FYI} and that is what sent me into a doubting Debby tailspin.  I don’t belong here.  This is their race, not mine.

I felt that way allll the way up to the first aid station at mile 2.1 when this enormous mass of people seemed to appear out of nowhere, clapping, hooting and handing out water and Gatorade.  GREAT JOB!  Looking GOOD!  Way to GO!  Trust your training!  They shouted at me and the people after me, just as I know they shouted at the runners who had come before me.  My spirits were lifted.  I glanced down at the inside of my left wrist.  I had run 400 miles in training.  I deserved to be here, too.  I mean a whole aid station of people wouldn’t be cheering for a loser who stumbled onto the course by accident, right?

The loving nature of the people who volunteer but that also run Big Sur was evident especially after the wheels fell off for me and the my legs gave out.  From my beautiful friend Marcela, to the other runners that were also hobbling along the course with me.  Everyone I passed or that passed me would stop, put their hand on my shoulder and talk me through the next steps, feet, or miles.  It was amazing.  I have never felt so cared for and loved at a race.  Ever.  {well until I ran Pittsburgh the next Sunday, but that’s a whole different thing entirely}

I met a group of marathon relayers who were walking back to the finish after getting done with their legs of the race because it was easier and faster than walking to the bus.  I was sobbing at this point and they kept talking to me, telling me that I could do it, that it was OK to cry and that I would make it.

The nurse at the aid station at mile 22 was amazing.  She was sweet and caring genuinely concerned about me.  The strawberry lady at mile 23 who made sure that everyone got a strawberry this year for the first time ever.  The men who rode in with me as the final participant — everyone was SO. KIND.

I get a lot of wary looks when I tell people I run, never mind run marathons.  Most people ask me the ever-present WHY.  I run for a lot of reasons but in this instance, during those 6.5 hours, I ran to see the best in humanity.  To see people being kind not because they were obligated to but because they wanted to.  I don’t encounter this genuine kindness of strangers often and if I have to fly to CA, pay hundreds of dollars and run the most excruciating race of my life — it would be worth it every time.

And, as it turns out, a little healthy intimidation and the chance to rub shoulders with the real marathoners really will get a fire lit under you.  You should always meet your heroes.

Do you find people to be intimidating or super kind when you race?

2 thoughts on “The Big Sur Human Spectrum: Intimidation to Love

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