Posted by: Sarah | June 12, 2010

Until the sun goes down over Santa Monica Boulevard…

Cali was amazing, no doubt about that. Having so many close friends out there with me for a week and a half softened the blow of leaving New York. I have such an incredible support network, people who make me laugh, inspire me, make me believe in myself…both in terms of running and the crazy path that I have set forth on this summer.

The San Diego Marathon was everything that I could have hoped and more. Although I knew that my training over the past six months indicated I should run a crazy PR, I was still incredibly nervous that I would not be able to pull it off, that I would disappoint the high expectations of myself and others around me.

The temperatures skyrocketed early on race day.  I enjoy running in the heat and still had a tough time staying hydrated and keeping my breathing under control. There were miles that blended together in deliriousness, where I vaguely saw the scenery around me, but was mostly waging an internal argument with myself, telling my legs not to stop running, not to give up on the hard work I had put in leading up to this day.

I drew motivation from Carola, who I ran alongside for the first 22 miles of the race; Peter, who told me at mile 18 I was the third girl he had seen so far from our NYC team pass by; Elyssa, who ran with me from miles 21-25; my other coaches who were spread out around the tough miles of Fiesta Island. I don’t think a single runner out there found that island to be any kind of party, by the way…

I went out there to take my running to a new level, to see how strong I was, to push myself to the limits, to test just how much I had to give.  When I crossed the finish line in 3:51, more than an hour faster than I had run Philly less than 7 months ago, I can honestly say that I did just that. I left it all out on the course. No complaints, no regrets.

I spent the rest of my time in Cali exploring an incredibly beautiful state and bonding with my teammates. We drove up the Pacific Coast Highway, which fully exceeded my expectations. Our road trip led us through Carlsbad to Los Angeles and Hermosa Beach; through Santa Monica and Malibu to Santa Barbara; beach-hopping at Butterfly Beach and Pismo Beach; camping out in Big Sur before we concluded our journey in San Francisco.

Traveling in good company made the trip even more unforgettable than the natural beauty of the places we visited. With minimal planning, we pulled everything off better than we could have hoped. I already miss The Entourage, as our car was dubbed. We played road trip games, listened to a ridiculous amount of 90s music, stopped for burritos on the beach, took tons of pictures, crashed at friends’ houses along the way.

The drive from Santa Barbara to Big Sur was the most beautiful stretch of the PCH. Breathtaking, stunning, gorgeous…there really are no words that can do justice to the beauty we saw out there. The sight of the waves beating against the cliffs never got old. The 11 of us had our hearts set on camping out in Big Sur, and we managed to find two cabins at a campground that worked out perfectly. We spent the last night all together chilling by the campfire, roasting hot dogs, making s’mores, shotgunning beers, Bros Icing Bros, stargazing.

Friday came all too fast.  We spent the afternoon hiking around Big Sur and said our good-byes before we parted ways for San Fran. Y ahora, el paso siguiente. The next step. Another early wake up call, another long day of traveling. Guatemala, here I come.

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