21 Miles in Big Sur. Am I Crazy?

In two weeks, a good friend of mine and I will board a plane and head to Monterey, Calif., to run in the 21-mile race at the Big Sur Marathon. This should be interesting.

It’s been at least a decade since I have run this far in a race — as readers of this site probably know well, I’ve been sticking to the half marathon distance since the middle of the 2000s, and haven’t run a full marathon since 2001′s Rock & Roll Marathon in San Diego. So why, exactly, am I doing this, you might ask?

It sure sounded like a great idea when I signed up for the race back in November. I’ve had visions of running past the waves crashing against the Pacific coastline, gorgeous views looking out onto the ocean and the mists floating in the air ever since then, and have had the best of intentions with regards to training for the race. But to be honest, my training has fallen far short of what it should have been for this race, due to a number of personal factors, including adopting a Golden Retriever puppy (and learning that he prefers to walk, not run, especially when he was really little — though as he grows up, he’s learning to like running more and more).

Still, I’m planning on pressing ahead and going out to California to run the race. After all, the plane tickets have been paid for and the hotel rooms have been booked. And honestly I am really looking forward to being on the course, and running along the Pacific Coast Highway (the Big Sur race is one of those that Runner’s World‘s Bart Yasso has said you should do at least once in your life).

It’s just that with this race, I’m really going to have to reach down deep and find something within myself to finish those 21 miles. Because they are going to be a CHALLENGE with a capital “C.” Maybe that’s what running — and life — really are all about sometimes. Occasionally, we do need to break out of our comfort zones — which, in my case, has been the 13.1-mile distance — and reach for something we think we can’t really do.

Well, I’m about to find out whether I can do it or not. I’ll keep you posted on how things turn out in Monterey. Have any of you ever set a goal you weren’t sure you could reach, whether it was with your running or anything else?

Want to run a Wine Country Half Marathon?

The past few years have seen the rise of the destination race in a big way, whether it’s to places like Hawaii for the Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon or to South Africa for the Big Five Marathon & Half Marathon, which takes runners through the wilds of the African savannah.

Closer to home, one of the most popular racing trends has been the many marathon and half marathon races that run through the California and Oregon wine country. Many of these sell out quickly each year, which is no surprise of course given the scenery you get to run through mile after mile.

Here’s a list of the wine country races scheduled for 2012: