Going Big For My 5th Running Anniversary

I'm one of those obnoxious people who finds meaning in almost any (seemingly random) numbers, but especially dates. Part of the reason I've kept some type of blog/journal/diary for most of my adult life is so that I can look back on any given date and find out what life was like for me a year ago, or two, or three, etc. My husband, not exactly he sentimental type, usually rolls his eyes when I find meaning in dates and numbers, but fortunately I've found camaraderie in my sister-in-law and my blog BFF, who understand that things like Bane and my childhood dog/love of my life sharing a birthday are TOTALLY significant and meaningful. 

My 5th running anniversary isn't until next April, but I've known for a while that I wanted to do something big to celebrate it. Five years really isn't long at all compared to how long I hope my running career will be, but it's an eternity compared to how long I ever thought I'd actually stick with it in my early Couch25k days. Of course I need to run a race to commemorate the occasion, so I've been keeping an eye out for any special ones that might fit the bill. My initial searches came up short and I really hadn't given it much more thought recently. But, just like running found me seemingly out of nowhere, the perfect race hit me like a ton of bricks.

A few hints:

I'll get to check an item off of both my Race Bucket List and my Honorable Mentions List

It's a BIG race.

It will SURely require a lot of hill training.

I'll be running for charity to raise money for an INTERNATIONAL organization.

It will be my 4th MARATHON.

Yes, adept readers, on April 24, 2016 I will board a 4am shuttle that will drive me, in the dark, down the winding Pacific Coast Highway, to the starting line of the Big Sur International Marathon. It's probably not surprising that I got this idea when I was in Big Sur last month. As we drove down Highway 1, my thoughts naturally turned to the Big Sur Marathon, and the gears started turning. I knew that Big Sur is always a week after Boston, and I knew that Boston is in mid-April, which, I reasoned, could very possibly put Big Sur the weekend of my running anniversary, April 23. I frantically started tapping in my iPhone, with its limited cell service in Big Sur, willing the page to load so I could confirm my calculations. When it finally did, and I saw the official date - April 24, 2016 - my fate was basically sealed.

...and then my balloon quickly deflated when I realized I had just missed the window for the registration lottery.

But, if running has taught me anything, it's this: where there's a will, there's a way. My chances of getting into the race via conventional means may have been gone, but all was not lost. Several charities partner with the marathon and, although many of those spots had already been filled and the light kept getting dimmer and dimmer, eventually it reignited when I reached out to a few organizations to inquire about running for them - and got the word that yes, they had spots, and yes, they'd be happy for me to join the team. 

And that's how, while eating continental breakfast in the dining room of a Holiday In Express in Woodland Hills, two days after the inception of this plan, I became a participant in the 2016 Big Sur International Marathon. 

My race count is somewhere in the 50s now, and I've run 3 previous marathons, but this is still WAY outside of the realm of anything I've ever done. I've never traveled so far for a race. I've never even had to take a plane to a race, let alone fly across the country and through three time zones. I've never run a marathon that was anything other than pancake flat, and this is one of the hilliest, most challenging ones out there. I've never fundraised before and I've made a commitment to raise a fairly large sum. To say I'm already nervous is an understatement.

So I have to leave the east coast, but that's because we just don't have any races that compare. The race course is entirely on Highway 1 and after driving through Big Sur, I had an overwhelming feeling that no less spectacular views would do for my 5th running anniversary race. I've wanted to run the Big Sur Marathon for a while now, but after being there I felt liked I needed to run it. 

And I have to raise quite a bit of money, but I've been saying I'd run for charity for a while now without actually acting on it. By the time I got the idea to run Big Sur, which has a limited number of entries that are available via lottery, this was my best shot (and very likely my only shot) of getting into the race. I had always hoped to make my charity run for an organization I deeply believed in (ideally I'd run for a mental health/depression advocacy group, like my first 5k), but none of the charities selected by Big Sur 2016 fell into that category. Of the 15 or so charities that are partnering with Big Sur in 2016, a few piqued my interest more than others but most of my top choice organizations had already filled their spots. I emailed a few to ask if they had any spots left, with a heavy feeling in my heart, wondering if I was doing the right thing or if I was taking advantage by nabbing a spot from a charity I knew nothing about. But when Edouard, president of Children of Peru sent me an enthusiastic, personalized reply that they still had spots and would be happy for me to join them, I decided to go for it. In my head, my choice to run for charity involved me carefully choosing a charity for a cause I deeply believed in, but like many things in my running career, things didn't go like I had planned them. Instead of me choosing a charity, this charity chose me. I don't know why the Universe presented me with the opportunity to run for Children of Peru, but I can't wait to find out. The bottom line is that although each charity has a different focus, they all have one goal: to help people. I'm honored to have to privilege to celebrate the sport that's changed my life by using it to help change someone else's life. 

As for the race itself...I don't live anywhere with terrain quite like Big Sur, but I do live somewhere hilly. More often that not I let that get me down, and last year I even wimped out on hill training as much as possible since I was training for a flat marathon. This year, I'm cautiously optimistic about training through the winter, on hills, for a challenging race. I do prefer winter training to summer training, no doubt, but the freezing temperatures inevitably get me down eventually. I hope that dreaming of the California coast will be enough to get me through those numb runs. I am quite confident that it won't be a PR and may very well end up being my worst marathon time ever, but regardless of my time I don't think it will be possible to leave Big Sur feeling disappointed.

I've officially committed to a fundraising goal of $1000 but I've made a personal goal of raising $1829 - one dollar for every day I will have been a runner on race day - which will go toward meeting the medical and educational needs of underprivileged children in Peru. If you would like to support me, you can do so by visiting my fundraising page or my Big Sur Marathon 2016 page, located at the top of this site, at any time between now and April. In the meantime, I'll be using this space to periodically share some of Children of Peru's projects, so you'll have lots of opportunities in the coming months to be reminded (and maybe influenced, if I'm being honest) about how you can give a donation. Your financial support would be much appreciated, but as always, I'm so grateful for the never-ending emotional support you all have shown me over the last year and a half that I've been writing here!

Go big or go home, right?


  1. how amazing!!!! hill training, while it sucks during the whole thing, is so important and totally pays off. i also remember how much i hated it and dreaded it during training, too. when we were training for mudder, we knew the hills were going to be brutal (the event was at a ski resort) and we would have to run the hills multiple times so we hit our local trails and did hill training for 8 weeks. most of those 8 weeks since we ran it in all kinds of weather (rain, cold, wind, humid and hot weather etc) because with toronto weather, you never know what you'll get!

  2. This is so awesome!! My first half marathon was in San Diego and it was so so so hilly, but the views were worth it. I imagine you will have a similar experience. I'm so glad you were able to join a team and I can't wait to hear more about Children of Peru!

  3. I love your fundraising goal! Big Sur is so beautiful and what a way to celebrate your running anniversary!

  4. THIS IS SO EXCITING! I'll definitely done SOMETHING at some point when I'm not at work on my lunch break. Ha. I love that it's a bucket list race, an anniversary race, and a charitable cause. Three big wins in my book. Can't wait to hear about the training and the trip itself!

    Also, I totally agree. The fact that Bane and your childhood dog have the same birthday TOTALLY means something. My childhood dog and best friend had the same birthday, and I always thought that meant something super important.

  5. Go big or go home! How exciting! Congrats on making the decision to run Big Sur, and even more so for running with a charity. I've got some great hill workouts if you need inspiration!

  6. So excited for you!! What a great choice for year #5 :)

  7. That is awesome!! Congrats! I am doing a 22 mile hike for Cystic Fibrosis in October and we have to raise $2500! For raising money I would just reach out to businesses and friends and family! Maybe partner with a restaurant and see if they will donate some of the proceeds from that night to your charity! Thats what I did!

  8. Okay so I did a little haphazard research and was wondering if you know for sure that it's 1g/person and that it's a full team of marathoners... because I may have been looking at the wrong information but it sort of looked to me like it was a marathon relay team thing? Either way, I just want you to know that I just booked the venue for my cousins shower in the spring deliberately avoiding this weekend because whether I'm racing beside you (well, not beside you, but probably something like 5 miles behind you) or waiting at the finish, we're going to Big Sur together next year. <3

  9. gahhhh!!!! how exciting! congrats girl and you will totally raise tons of money and meet your goal.

  10. Ah! That is so exciting! And what a beautiful course that will be. So cool to run with a charity and get into a big race like that. Can't wait to hear about it!

  11. I read this on my phone and just realized I didn't comment! I'M SO EXCITED FOR YOU! It's going to be amazing. Hard but AMAZING! My step-dad ran Big Sur and always raves about it though how could you not! I can't wait to hear all about it and see the pictures! Of course I will be donating to your charity - I love that you're doing one even if you didn't have any direct links to it!

  12. !!!!!!!!! Tracy this is so amazing! How cool that you were visiting there and the timing of the race lined up so perfectly? I'm so glad you were able to linkup with a charity-- and even if it wasn't the one you thought it would be, you're so right that it's still a cause that is helping people. So cool!


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