Tag Archives: Honolulu Marathon

Happy Hapalua!

Today was a great day to run a half-marathon! We awoke to cool breezes that promised to keep the air temperature down, and, although we were promised VOG and high humidity, by the time our group finished running the race, the weather was still holding out.

Ready to Race!

While I did not achieve my goal of running the race in less than 2 hours, I did take a few minutes off last year’s time and ran it in 2:02:31. I am happy with how I ran the race; for the first half, each time I looked at my watch, I was running faster than a 9:00 mile, which for a slow-poke like me, is quite fast. I’m not sure I’ve ever kept a pace like that up for such a long distance, and I ran my fastest 10k in 57:55; remember two years ago when I worked so hard to run a 10k in 75 minutes? Yeah, I sure do, and it felt really good to know that I could easily accomplish 6.2 miles in less than an hour today.

The finish line is in sight…

I would never have dreamed, that just two years later, I would be running distances far beyond 6.2 miles and doing an adequately mediocre job of it! It might seem to you that I’m selling myself short, but I’m not, and nor am I disappointed to have attained the status of being an adequately mediocre runner. I have no delusions of grandeur; I’m not going to be selected for any sort of competitive running event (hello Olympic pasta-eating team!) and I’m never going to be the winner of a race (unless I design another race of one, but then I’m both first and last place, and what is the point of that?), but to have gone from somebody who would rather lie down on a treadmill and get belt-burn on her chin than run one goddamn step to someone who signs up to run (when not being chased by a predator) kinda far for fun is pretty remarkable.

In thinking back over my race, I am happy with my pace, and I think the only way I could have saved a little time (aside from running faster, obviously) would have been to skip some of the water stations. Because I carry my water with me (on my back, like a two-legged camel), I usually don’t stop at every aid station, but, because we were warned about high-humidity and VOG, I was worried about dehydrating and stopped, briefly, at each station. I don’t know if it would have saved me three minutes to skip an aid station or two, and I’m not all that concerned about it. I’m happy with my results and now have something to work on for next year- getting faster!

We have a brief break from serious training until August when marathon season begins again. In the meantime, I’m going focus on getting stronger and faster, and, in general, fitter. I’m hoping to jump in on some longer training runs with friends who are going to run a 100 mile run around (literally, around) the Big Island of Hawaii. I’m DEFINITELY not running 100 miles… not today, not tomorrow, not ever… but I am hoping to go beyond the 26.2 mile marathon distance. We’ll see what kind of stuff I’m made of!

The happy finishers.

Put Your Muscles Where Your Mouth Is

Yesterday my six week CrossFit challenge came to a close. It was a bittersweet day because, although we were happy to have made it all the way through the course, we were sad about our weekly meetings coming to an end. Much as I suspected, I am not the only one who enjoyed working with the same group of ladies each time I went to class.

The six weeks went by quickly and, as I looked around the gym while we were doing our last WOD (Workout of the Day) together, I was surprised and impressed by how far we had all come in such a short amount of time. Everybody looked stronger, we knew the names of the movements we were supposed to be doing (a big improvement for sure; at many times during the six weeks I felt sorry for our instructors- it must have felt like herding cats trying to get us all going the right direction!), and, most impressive of all, nobody was complaining. Having a group of women, who two months ago would not have described themselves as particularly fit or at all CrossFit savvy, working together on a hot, Hawaiian Saturday afternoon and not hearing any complaints about the aches, pains, and sweat is a big accomplishment!

Our final WOD; do you hear the Eye of the Tiger theme from ‘Rocky’ playing?

Our final workout was a team workout, so, while we didn’t do all of the movements on our own, we did all do the 2 burpees every minute on the minute, and that counts for something, right? As a team, we managed to get through almost three rounds (we had just goblet squats and burpees left to power through, c’est la vie) and, I’m ashamed to admit, that when I first looked at the whiteboard and saw the 20 minute cap, I was concerned we wouldn’t make it through one entire round. Essentially what I am trying to tell you is that this group of ladies and I are a bunch of badass mofos and, when there are tacos at stake, we don’t play around.

Our final WOD was followed by a Taco Tuesday (on Saturday) themed fiesta, and it was well-deserved. No matter where we started from, we all worked hard to make ourselves just a little bit better each time we stepped into the gym. Using the guidance provided through the daily emails, we each tried to find a way to eat more healthfully, and, even from day to day, I could see physical improvement in all of us. There were ladies who couldn’t run the entire 400 m warm-up run on day one, and, by the time we were up to running a mile, Coach Gil said it was the first time he had ever had all participants in the New You group finish in under thirteen minutes. Progress! The first time I tried to do an overhead squat holding just the light PVC practice bar, my shoulders and hips were so stiff I almost fell over, and now I can do them, tentatively, with 25 lbs of total weight. Tentative progress, but progress all the same!

Kettlebell swings. To demonstrate how much I’ve learned, I knew to ask if we were supposed to be doing American or Russian style swings.

I’m excited to see how CrossFit will influence my running (yeah, I signed up to continue. That’s how it is with me, I guess; I sign up for things like this thinking it will be a fun, one-off experiment and I’ll have a funny story to tell about that time I trained for a marathon or that time I did several weeks of CrossFit, but then I really enjoy what I’m doing and see changes in myself that I really like and I’m hooked.) In the short-term, the workouts have made me very tired, but I think that is to be expected as my body adjusts to being challenged in a new way (challenged, tortured, po-tay-to, po-tah-to). I think CrossFit will be good at countering the stiffness that running, just by the nature of the fact that your body is always moving the same way, inherently creates. This must be why so many runners I know also like to compete in triathlons because the swimming and the biking force you to do something a little different, but I’m afraid of sharks and I don’t like to put my face in public pools because they are gross, so triathlons seem to be out for me. Also I think that people would laugh at my cruiser if I tried to ride it in a race. So, CrossFit it is, for now.

I think, in the long run, it will help my running. With a stronger core and more balanced strength, I predict that my endurance will increase and I will maybe even become a little faster. Time will tell. I don’t know if I will see these kinds of results in the upcoming Hapalua half-marathon (ummmm…..it’s next Sunday! One week!) because I am so flippin’ tired, but, I am going to take it a bit easier this week to allow my muscles some rest. Of course, it’s also time to start eating some extra carbohydrates- music to my ears; bring on the pasta! Last year I ran this race in about 2:05, and this year I hope to run it in under 2:00. After my fantastic marathon, I thought that this was a pretty achievable goal, but I’m starting to have doubts. I will be happy to knock any time off of last year’s race, and ultimately hope that I don’t add time, but if I’ve learned anything from having trained for two marathons and, now, three half-marathons, it’s that every day is different, and you’ve got to run the best you can in the moment. Here’s hoping my newly-found CrossFit muscles feel revived and ready to help power me on after a week of rest!

CrossFit: it’ll put hair on your lip!

Run Together, Fun Together

group
Some of us, post race; smiles of victory!

The 2016 Honolulu Marathon has come and gone, and, for our running group, it was a great success! Mother Nature, once again, blessed us with a mostly overcast, cool day and, best of all NO RAIN! Thank you, Mother Nature.

As the fireworks sounded the beginning of the race and we shuffled toward the starting line alongside 30,000 other runners, Don and I each had specific goals in mind for our race. After running last year’s marathon in a respectable 5:02:51, I hoped to run this year’s in less than 5 hours. I had in mind a goal of 4:45, but didn’t expect to knock the more than 15 minutes off of my time to make that goal; it was more of a guideline to help me stay under 5 hours.

Starting the race in the dark of early morning is kind of exciting, and the couple of hours before the sun is fully up feel kind of like a head start. I got a little caught up in the spirit of the moment and kept finding myself going above my pace for the first several miles and needing to slow myself down (at one point my watch said I was running a pace of 8:45, who was I kidding?). We wound our way around Waikiki and past the Honolulu City Lights; it was fun to see them lit up for Christmas without crowds of people milling around them, but my favorite part of the whole course was the first trip up Diamondhead. The race crew there was a group of enthusiastic high school kids cheering and high-fiveing every runner who passed by. Their enthusiasm was contagious and lifted the spirits of us runners as we trudged up the hill in the dark. It’s one thing to be up that early on a cold Sunday morning because you’re stupid ambitious enough to want to run a marathon, but it’s another to be up early on a cold Sunday morning just to support people who are crazy enough to run that far. It was great to see their smiling faces and their cheers made it easier to charge up the hill.

I had hoped to be up the hill near Diamondhead by the time the sun was up, and I managed to do it. I felt pretty good, buoyed by the many miles logged in training and the enthusiasm of the onlookers, until about mile 15 when I started to fade. Last year I didn’t eat enough during the race, and it caught up to me by mile 18 where I began to do a lot of

Li Hing Mui: salty, sweet, sour, looks kind of illegal.
Li Hing Mui: salty, sweet, sour, looks kind of illegal.

walking. I didn’t want to do that again this year, so I made the plan to start eating gels earlier and to eat more of them. It’s hard to know exactly what does the trick nutrition-wise (it’s so much easier to know what doesn’t do the trick), but I think having some extra nutrition along the way helped keep the fade from becoming a full-fledged walking spree. I still swear by the lemonade flavored Huma energy gels; they have the least booger-like consistency and the best flavor of any gels I have tried thus far. A friend who is a veteran marathon runner recommended something called Li Hing Mui, which is dried plum with lots of salt, for cramping. I don’t usually get muscle cramps while running (knock on wood), but I do sometimes feel like I need more salt, so I took a couple Li Hing Mui from him the night before the race. They taste really good, kind of sweet, sour, salty and earthy all at once, and at about mile 18, where I really began to flag last year, I had a couple of nibbles to perk myself up.

26-2-miles-of-alohaIt wasn’t until mile 23 that I had to start talking myself out of walking for the rest of the race- five miles farther along than last year! Small victories!- and, as usual, when I started to think about walking, I also started to remind myself that, after this race was over, I NEVER HAVE TO RUN ANOTHER STEP FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. Unless, of course, if I want to. People often tell me that they could never run a marathon, that they could never run even 3 miles, and they’re probably right. The hard thing to master about running isn’t the actual putting one foot in front of the other part, it’s the mental part. The talking yourself into doing something that’s hard for increasingly longer distances and amounts of time. The ability to identify a desire to stop versus a need to stop- I wanted to walk at mile 23, I wanted it more than anything on Sunday, but did I need to? Nope. When I finally made it in sight of the finish line, I had to dig down deep to find the power for a strong finish, but I managed to find it partly because I just wanted to cross that goddamn finish line and be DONE with this already and partly because I refused to look as fatigued as I felt.

It was a long, tough race, but it was also a fun race. I worked harder this year than I did last year when my only goal was to survive. It is amazing how much I have learned about running and about myself in the past year; one of the most important things I have learned  how to do is to pace myself so that I don’t go out so strong that I can’t finish my planned route. For this marathon, I had hoped to shave a few minutes off of my time and finish under the 5 hour mark. Despite the fact that I ran the first 10k faster than I’d planned, I still managed to conserve enough energy to finish with a time of….. wait for it….. 4:39:48!

I call this look the "Get outta my way, I see free malasadas" look
I call this look the “Get outta my way, I see free malasadas” look

I really can’t believe that I managed to shave almost 23 minutes off my time, but it made me so grateful that I didn’t walk the last three miles. I think there were a lot of factors that went into making this year’s race more successful than last year’s. The weather was extremely helpful, so were my shoes. As much as I love the lightweight Topos, they just weren’t enough shoe for such a long distance and the Newtons proved to be more cushiony without being too much shoe. I think having had the experience before was also helpful; it’s a lot easier to build on a foundation than it is to start from ground zero, and it’s easier to talk yourself into pushing through the fatigue when you’ve been there before. As always, the running group was instrumental in getting me both to the starting line and the finish line. Misery loves company (which I think should be our group motto since the slogan is already “we run for the hill of it”), and it was great to run into group members out on the course and be reminded that we were all suffering and we were in it together.

While I am glad that the race is behind me, I am sad that the group is on hold for the next couple of months. We’ll start training again in February for the Hapalua half, but it was strange to not get an email with this week’s running workouts on Sunday night, and I felt a bit lonely as I laced up my sneakers (now dry but still smelly) for a short recovery run this afternoon. I’m going to take this break to focus again on making my core and legs a little stronger (read: more ab and leg days at the gym, insert eye-rolling emoji here), do more yoga to increase my flexibility (going for more ballet-dancer and less Tin Man), and sleep in past o’dark thirty on a Sunday morning.

medal

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like….

Marathon time!

fuel

We are just one week away from the big day; by this time Sunday, the marathon will be a fond (hopefully) memory. Yesterday, Don and I walked to the local running store to stock up on last minute supplies and now our kitchen counter looks like a repository for space food.

The group had its final long run on Sunday morning, and we got lucky with the weather. We had a beautiful 10 mile jaunt over hill and dale under cloudy but dry skies with temps only in the low 70s. Hopefully Mother Nature was giving us a sneak peak of what is to come next Sunday (pretty please?).

I was texting with a friend after our run and she asked what it was I loved about running, and I had a hard time coming up with an answer. There are the obvious benefits- better health, better sleep, better looking physique- but, as you well know, I’m not sure I would call my relationship to running one that embodies love.

It’s much easier to identify the things I HATE about running: I hate the sweat, I hate the sore muscles, I hate the chafing, I hate the burning sensation in my lungs as I start up yet another hill, and I hate the sweat (which I know I mentioned once before, but I really don’t like it, so I think it is worth mentioning again).

The things I love about running are harder to pin down because they are more mental. I love that running is something I can do anywhere at any time as long as I have a pair of sneakers, I love the last quarter mile of every run when my destination is in sight and I know that soon I can STOP, I love getting to explore the less traveled roads, and I love that twinge of pride I feel when someone looks at me in disbelief when I tell them that I have run a marathon and am planning to run another one- I look less like someone who runs and more like someone who loafs; like I’m better acquainted with the ins and outs of the La-Z-Boy than I am with every back road on the Windward side of Oahu.

I guess I like pretty much everything about running… except maybe for the actual running part! This weekend it will all come down to trusting in my training and finding the resolve to talk myself into pushing a little bit harder for just a little longer. Until then, I will enjoy having the license to eat every carb in sight (a license that expires on Monday) and enjoy the fact that, regardless of how Sunday goes, I am once again the fittest I’ve ever been.

Moment of zen at the Heeia Pier
Moment of zen at the Heeia Pier

there-should

For Thanksgiving, this year, I opted for a non-traditional dessert. Since it was just going to be the two of us, I tried a recipe I had found online for Chocolate Stout Pumpkin Brownies, and I’m not going to bother to link to the recipe because it was a total bust.

I guess, judging from the title of the recipe I should have known it was going to be a bust- I mean, there is a lot going on there: chocolate, stout, and pumpkin? Kinda wild- but I had high hopes for this dessert. Even though they are relatively simple to make, I hardly ever make brownies from scratch because 1. I need a pan of brownies on the kitchen counter calling to me every time I walk past like I need a hole in the head, and, 2. I hate chopping chocolate; it is unsatisfying and makes a big mess.

I have a trusty brownie recipe that I’ve made in the past when an occasion called for not-from-the-box brownies and it’s this one from SmittenKitchen (or it might be this one, but either way you can’t go wrong. Or better yet make BOTH and have a taste-off), but I stumbled across this other recipe when I was looking, a couple of weeks ago, for recipes that called for beer (it’s a long story… actually it’s not: we are part of a home brewing club and for a recent pot-luck meeting it was decided that we all would try to make food that featured beer as an ingredient). I saved this recipe that called for a cup of stout beer as the liquid and featured a festive cream cheese/pumpkin swirl because I thought it sounded like the perfect finale to our small Thanksgiving feast. It was not.

The texture of the brownies is good- cakey and crumbly without being greasy- and they smell delicious, but they taste like a  square of baking chocolate. Bitter and bland. It’s been a huge bummer in our house; never has an 8×8 pan of brownies lasted for so long. I knew they were as bad as I’d imagined when I returned from work yesterday to find that my husband, who had the day off, had not yet helped himself to another brownie. Normally he would have helped himself to half of the pan- especially since he cleaned the house while I was at work and deserved a reward.

We bought a tub of frosting to see if we could salvage them, but I find that now I’m just eating spoonfuls of frosting instead of the brownies, and I need to be eating spoonfuls of frosting like I need a hole in the head! I’ve thrown in the towel, but Don has vowed to give the brownies just one more chance with the frosting, and then it looks like they are headed for the trash bin. I hate wasting things like this- the ingredients and the time it took to make the damn things- but it also seems just as silly to waste calories eating something that should taste yummy but does not. Life is too short to eat a bad brownie, am I right?

Luckily we are still in the midst of marathon training to offset some of those lost calories. Last Sunday we had our longest training run, the 20 miler affectionately known as the Motherf&@#er, and I felt pretty good at the end of it (that’s a lie, I felt terrible at the end of it, but I felt pretty good after a shower and some stretching. The stretching is key).

I ran it in about 3.5 hours which, while not fast for our group of over-achievers, is pretty incredible for me. I think that I could run the remaining 6.2 miles in about an hour (plus a few minutes), so it seems like I’m in good shape for my goal of running the marathon in less than 5 hours. I’m aiming for 4:45, but I would be satisfied with any time of 4:59 or less.

At this point, it is really mind over matter and all depends on whether I can talk myself into pushing just a little harder for just a little longer and ignoring the fact that my legs hurt and my armpits are raw. We’re fit and we’ve trained as much as our bodies will allow, so now it comes down to grit. For now, I’m enjoying our taper time and looking forward to the fact that tomorrow’s long run is only 7 miles through the picturesque (and hilly) Ho’omaluhia gardens. These few weeks of rest and food will hopefully help give us time to restore for the big day. One thing not on my pre-race fuel menu? Chocolate Stout Pumpkin Brownies.

 

You Get What You Get…and You Don’t Get Upset

In this case, I guess its more like “you get what you give, and you don’t get upset.”

Today’s run was a very picturesque and very slow 14ish miles along the Kaiwi coastline. I’d been having a great season of training until the last week or so when things started to come apart at the seams for me. My trouble started with a Thursday night hill workout that began with a steep uphill climb and never really seemed to end. Normally I enjoy the challenge of a hill workout and can chip away at them by simply being determined, but that night I couldn’t really get into it and I had a lackluster run.

kaiwi
View of the coast from the Makapu’u lighthouse

My streak continued when I managed my time poorly while on vacation in Maui last weekend and only ended up putting in 6.5 slow, sweaty miles in the middle of the day instead of the 8 I had intended to run during the cool, morning hours. While in Maui, I managed to catch a cold which not only took me out of commission for this week’s training runs, but had the added insult of nobody feeling sorry for a person who catches a cold on beautiful Maui!

My expectations were low for today’s run, and, until I reached the mile 7 turnaround point, I wasn’t sure if I was going to actually run the entire distance. I went out with the plan to take it easy and take it slowly, and that is exactly what I did. I grew tired earlier than normal and didn’t have any gas left in the tank at the end of the run, but the run was pleasant with beautiful ocean views and a nice breeze most of the way, and, after a week and a half of putting in barely mediocre training runs, being slow and tired was to be expected. I’m glad I was able to complete the run and hope that it is the reset I need to kick things back into gear because the marathon is now only about a month and a half away!

Two weeks ago, I ran my longest distance since the marathon, 15 miles, and had a great run. This was one in a series of marathon prep races I signed up for, and I was happy with the pace I was able to maintain for most of the 15 miles. At the end of the race, I was disappointed in my time, but, I realize that, if I was happy with my pace and not happy with my time, I must have made an arithmetic error somewhere (not surprising really, I’ve never been great with numbers), so i’ve decided to just be happy with my pace and forget about the time for now. There’s time for math later.

Running is a funny sport. A really good run can come out of nowhere- and that is probably the foundation of many superstitions “let’s see, I had my fastest time at this distance that time I ate three and a half pieces of pizza and slept in unicorn pajamas the night before, so I guess pizza and pajamas it is for life!”- but most bad runs can be linked to a lack of preparation. You really do get out of running what you put into it; it’s something to keep in mind when I’m feeling a little frustrated with myself for being slow after a week of resting on my laurels.

Sunday Runday

Chinaman's Hat in beautiful Kaneohe Bay
Chinaman’s Hat in beautiful Kaneohe Bay

Our running group just wrapped up week 4 of marathon training and, if I do say so myself, we are looking pretty good.

It feels great to be reunited with this bunch of like-minded freakazoids who’s idea of a relaxing Sunday morning is lacing up their sneakers for miles of sweating. I really missed the camaraderie of the group over the summer; it is a lot harder to push yourself to go a little farther and a little faster when there isn’t any one else holding you accountable, and it’s also a lot less fun.

Last weekend I skipped the group run for the second of the BioAstin Marathon Readiness Series races. This was a 20k (or 12.4ish mile) race that consisted of three laps of a 4+ mile loop. It was hot and a little boring, and overall I felt tired and was disappointed with my time of 2:02. I had hoped to run it in less than two hours, but I guess I should have run a little faster. I’m still working on moderating my pace early in the run so that I can finish strong instead of dwindling to a sluggish stagger at the end. Today, I suffered a similar fate.

We gathered this morning at the Kualoa Beach park for a 10 mile out and back along the coast. This is a run I have done a few times before and, while it is a lovely run with ocean views, it can be quite hot as there is little shade. Today we got lucky and there were some tradewinds blowing, but it was still warm. Although I enjoy this run because it is quite scenic, I kind of always sputter out at the end; there is something about an out and back or a repeated loop that psychs me out.

I think the spontaneity of an unfamiliar route helps keep me engaged when I run; I can’t fall into the trap of remembering that I was going a little faster when I passed that stump the first time, or, I wasn’t quite so hot and sweaty when I saw that dead bird before. I get mentally bogged down by having “been there and done that” already, and it is a habit I need to break. Today, I ran a little above my pace on the way out, and, as I left the safe harbor of the aid station at the turn around point, I felt my legs protest when I began to run.

My gut instinct, when my legs feel rubbery and I’m hot, tired and can’t breathe, is to get discouraged. It is easy to look at the backs of the faster runners receding into the distance and think ” you guys have it made,” but, honestly, running sucks for everyone. This is important to remember. It doesn’t matter if you’re fast or slow. If you’re running 10 miles or 5; running sucks (although, yes, it’s safe to say that there is twice as much suck if you are running 10 miles compared to 5). Running sucks, and it isn’t easy.

I reminded myself of this as I started on the second half of our run. My legs felt heavy and rubbery, my lungs had collapsed, and I was leaving a trail of sweat droplets in my wake. I saw the pair of ladies who had left the aid station after me pass me and then surge off over the horizon, and, just as I started to think “it’s easier for them,” I caught myself and instead thought “you go girls.”

As soon as I let go of that discouraging thought, I felt better. So what if it was hot out and I was running at a 12 minute pace, at least I was running. And so what if those ladies, who I am normally ahead of, were having a great day and I couldn’t keep up; good for them. They were just as hot as I was, they were breathing the same humid air, and they were working at least as hard as the rest of us. Kudos to them.

I allowed myself the luxury of plodding along for a couple of miles and then felt rested enough to try for a strong finish for the last three. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I was running along the sparkling ocean; another great day to be alive. Next time, I will remember to slow down at the beginning of the run and not try to keep up with those who are feeling fresh and fast if I’m not also feeling it. You’ve got to run on the legs you have and not the ones you wish you had, and some days are better than others.

kaaawa

 

Nailed it.

Duke

Last Sunday was a beautiful day for a run. We gathered near the statue of Duke Kahanamoku in the early hours of the morning; the tiki torches were lit, the ABC stores were just starting to open, and the sun was peeking over the horizon as the Hapalua Half Marathon began.

I rode to the race with a friend and we arrived early enough that we were pretty close to the starting line when the race began. It was cool to see Team Hawaii start; their running looked absolutely effortless as they sped away from us. I like to think that I look like that too, but unfortunately I’ve seen photos and it isn’t true.

When the race started for the rest of us, I got caught up in the excitement and ran a little above my pace for a few miles. I was with the other Liz from the running group for the first 5k, and she informed me after the race that we ran our first mile in 8:50. Far too fast for me. I managed to keep a pretty good pace up for the first 10k, and then I started to get tired. And hot. And cranky.

Runners getting their snacks after finishing.
Runners getting their snacks after finishing.

BY the time I saw Don and my friend Rosie, who was there to cheer her husband on, at mile 8, I had slowed considerably. There weren’t many spectators along the course like there had been for the marathon, and I was glad to see them and the cold bottles of Gatorade they had brought to share.

While I was running, I felt terrible. I was hot and tired, every time I took a drink of water, I seemed to forget how to swallow and did that awful thing where you aspirate the water and then spend the next three minutes coughing like you have emphysema, and I felt like I was moving in slow motion. Every step was painful, and I thought my lungs were going to spontaneously combust as I slogged up the long hill on Monserrat Ave.

BannerThe one downfall of my FitBit is that it doesn’t give a good idea of your pace while you are running. I often gauge how hard I am working by my heart rate, but I try not to look at my watch a lot while I am running. I like to use it more for data analysis after a run; I worry that I will become obsessed with it while running if I rely on it too much. Instead, I usually listen to my body to tell me when I am going too fast, but I ignored it last weekend because I thought I was being wimpy. I wasn’t- I was actually going pretty fast.

Guys, as predicted by my friend Mel on Facebook, my final time was 2:05:10.

Lemme say it again: 2:05:10. Yes, that is a full ten minutes faster than my goal time of 2:15, and I said I would have been happy with any time under 2:30 (and I meant it!). I was ecstatic when I saw the race clock as I neared the finish line. It’s not a time any serious runner would brag about, but for me, well, I might as well hang up my sneakers and call it a day, because that is about as good as it gets.

At one point during the race, when I felt like death and was worried I was going to vomit or poop my pants (I did neither, by the way), I had resigned myself to accepting a slower time and being happy that I improved on my 10k time (it went from 73 minutes in my personal 10k race about a year ago to 56 minutes. This is a pretty good accomplishment in itself and shows what a year of dedication and training with people who like to run and know how to prepare for an event like this can do; I shaved almost 20 minutes off my 10k time! What I didn’t know at the time I was resigning myself to a slower half marathon than I’d hoped for was that I was actually working pretty hard. I guess the saying “no pain, no gain” rang extra true last Sunday.

My new shoes held up well under the pressure of their longest run since their un-boxing. I did get a blister on the ball of one foot, but I think that was more a function of me not allowing the shoes enough time to break in than the fault of the shoe. I like the way they break over and I felt like I had more between me and the road than with my Topos. This runner gives the Newton Gravity V two enthusiastic thumbs up.

The results tell me that I ran an average pace of 9:34 which is in line with what our group had been running in training. My overall pace for the full marathon in December was 11:34, but I’m not sure the two are equally comparable since in order to survive that longer distance, I’d have to slow down, but it’s nice to think that perhaps, if I keep training and trying to improve, I might run a slightly faster marathon this year. Time will tell. I looked up the results of the friend who I rode to the race with, and he ran an average pace of 9:13. I’m not surprised, he’s a million feet tall, but I am slightly aggravated because when he loped past me after we met up with our spouses at the 8th mile, he looked like he wasn’t even trying. I’m sure he was in as much pain as I was though. The one thing I’ve learned about running is that everybody suffers from ‘Fiery-lung Sweaty eyeball Dear-god-why-am-I-doing-this?’ syndrome.

2:05:10. BABY!
2:05:10. BABY!

I have another half marathon, the Hibiscus Half Marathon, coming up at the end of May, and I’m already starting to wonder if I could run it in under 5 hours. The way I felt running the Hapalua, my body says “No, you cannot. And don’t push your luck, lady,” but the part of my brain that doesn’t seem to understand that running sucks and is painful and should be avoided at all possible costs when sitting on the couch is a viable alternative keeps saying “Well, but maybe…”

I should thank that part of my brain. It’s the part that made me lace up my sneaks for a Seallonely solo run this week, and it’s the part that keeps signing me up for these damn races. I think it is strongly linked to the ‘self-preservation center’ of my brain as it works very hard to ensure I do not become fused with the couch and that my diet does not consist entirely of frosting and bagels.

Prepping for the Hibiscus will be harder since I don’t have the group to rely on to make sure I do the work that gets me to the finish line, but it’s not all that long of a time to maintain my fitness. Now that I know how hard I had to work to run 13.1 miles and beat my goal, I am inspired to see if I can push even harder and make that time a little faster next time. I let myself rest a little this week and ran only a short, slow three miles once. Tomorrow it is time to get back to work!

And, yeah, just in case you missed it earlier: my half marathon time was 2:05:10. Not that I think it matters or anything; I just wanted you to know.*

To the victors go the... shave ice!
To the victors go the… shave ice!

*JK. It totally matters. I’m an effing rockstar, you guys.

I RAN A MARATHON

In case you hadn’t heard, last Sunday I RAN A MARATHON.

Yes indeed-y, I- the girl who not even a year ago, would rather have walked ten miles barefoot in the snow than run three miles wearing comfortable sneakers in a climate-controlled gym, the girl who could only run if there was a piece of cake in front of her and a rabid panther behind her, the girl who’s face used to get so red and breathing so labored after just a short bit of light jogging that people stopped her to make sure she was “ok”- ran 26.2 miles and lived to tell the tale.

Finish
Packet pick-up on the Wednesday before the race.

After making our way to the starting area and standing in line for far too long waiting to use some Porta-Potties, Don and I joined the mob of runners lining up in the early morning darkness of downtown Waikiki to await the official start of the race. The elite runners wereName Flag directly in front of the mass of commoners in a roped off holding area of their own, and, although I was not close enough to see, I presume they were off like a pack of jackrabbits as soon as the starting shot sounded. Don and I got to enjoy a little bit of the fireworks show that marked the start of the race because, even though we lined up pretty close to the front, it was still another 5 minutes before the crowd thinned out enough so that we could actually started running.

It's 0330, do you know where your sneakers are?
It’s 0330, do you know where your sneakers are?

We wound our way through Chinatown, past the Honolulu City Lights all lit up for Christmas, and out of Waikiki, and I struggled to find a space of my own. I had intended not to waste a lot of energy zigging and zagging around other runners, but in order to avoid running into people who were stopping to take pictures of the fireworks, the Christmas lights, other runners in costumes, etc., I had to do a little bit of maneuvering. My right knee, which had been giving me trouble since the 20 mile run but had been feeling good the week leading up to the race, started to twinge around the 5k mark, and I worried that it was going to make my run a miserable one. Fortunately, the twinge remained only a twinge for the duration of the race.

As we made our way up the hill near Diamondhead, I braced myself for some hard running because all summer long, people who had run the marathon before would mention the “dreaded Diamondhead hill.” I’m not sure if it was the excitement of running the race, the cheerful enthusiasm of the high school-aged volunteers holding the lane markers on that stretch of road, or the training on essentially every hill that could be found on the Windward side of the island that helped me out, but I was up and over before I knew it. It was probably a combination of excitement, cheer and training that got me to the other side wondering if that really truly was the “dreaded Diamondhead hill” or only a small precursor of something more hill-like to come.

The excitement of the day got me to the halfway-mark before I even knew what was happening and I felt great. Because I had water with me and I had trained all summer, I was able to skip the first several aid stations and get out of the crowd to find a space of my own. At the 13 mile marker, my FitBit timer showed 2:30 exactly, and I knew then that, because I would get more tired and likely slower the longer I ran, I probably wouldn’t make my goal of running the entire race in less than 5 hours, but my goal didn’t seem all that important in the moment. What did seem important was that there were volunteers who had dragged themselves out of bed just as early as I had in order to stand in first a light drizzle and then the hot sun to hand me a cup of cold gatorade or give me a high five, also important were the families in Hawaii Kai who, because our route went through their neighborhood, were trapped at home and instead of grumbling about the inconvenience stood on their lawns to offer us oranges, pretzels, candy, and a spritz with the garden hose; seeing the first elite lady-runner flying up the hill in the opposite lane felt pretty important as did hearing the cheers of “you’ve got this!” “you guys are amazing” and “keep smiling” and reading the cleverly-crafted signs- my favorites were the ones that read “Go, Random Stranger, Go!” and “Run like Kanye is going to give your medal to Beyoncé” and, of course, “Beer in 10 miles!”

The spirit of the moment kept me feeling pretty good until about mile 18 where some volunteers affiliated with our running group had parked themselves with an aid station just for us. I stopped at the aid station to take some more Advil, have a little soda (Coke is surprisingly satisfying while running) and do a bit of stretching. I maybe stopped for too long because as I started again I noticed that my LEFT knee was starting to ache and feel quite stiff. Until I paused at mile 18, I had only taken short power walking breaks through the aid stations and I made myself power on again until mile 20. At mile 20, I took a longer walking break which was bittersweet because it felt good to rest for a few minutes but I find that the longer I walk the harder it is to start back up again. I made it to mile 24 before I allowed myself another short break and then soldiered on to the end. When I finally saw the finish line up ahead, I felt relief like I’d never felt before. I imagine it is the same kind of relief that a parent who has lost a child in a crowded mall feels when the child is finally spotted tearing the leaves off a plant near the fountain or the relief that my friend, Kath,  who was charged with watching my beloved escape-artist puppy on my wedding day, felt when she finally caught him after he slithered out of the office and ran amok around the North Country for a few hours (an escapade I learned of years later but which explained why she was hours late to the reception!). As soon as the finish line was in sight, I found my third or fourth wind and sped up. I started passing people and was once again zigging and zagging to get through the crowd with only one thought on my mind: the sooner I get there the sooner I can STOP EFF-ING RUNNING 

Thanks to Mike's (center) training, we did it!
Thanks to Mike’s (center) training, we did it!

My final time was 5:02:51 which I’m pretty happy with considering that fact that I used to hate running and 26.2 miles is an obscene distance to attempt to run. After being adorned with my medal, I found Don still in the finisher’s area lying on some bags of ice. I knelt upon those bags for a few minutes, refilled my water bottle, and we went in search of our running group and our friends who not only baby-sat Jack for us the night before (no escaping this time! What a difference 7 years makes.) but also got out of bed early enough and hung around the race long enough to cheer us on both in Hawaii Kai and at the Finish Line.

I’m still pretty impressed with myself. Not only did I run a MARATHON and not only did I finish within breathing distance of my goal, but I kind of had a good time. This week was

Post-race compression stockings = recovery
Post-race compression stockings = recovery

tough; when I awoke Monday morning the only parts of my body that weren’t stiff or sore were my fingers. Everything else hurt. I spent all day alternately looking for food to satisfy my ravenous hunger and wishing people would leave me alone so that I could take a nap at my desk. The creakiness improved throughout the week but when I went for a short “recovery run” (as recommended by Mike) on Thursday, I felt like a bucket of bolts and both knees threatened to fall onto the ground and stay there. As often happens when someone has been working toward a special event and has successfully completed that special event I now find myself plagued with some sort of sinus infection/cold type illness. It doesn’t really matter though, because I am a badass who ran a marathon.

I learned a few things during the race: everyone says that the final 10k of a marathon are the hardest- and they’re right, a good solid training regime with lots of stupid hills will get you to the finish line, and the kindness of volunteers and spectators (for what has to be the most boring sport to watch) can really make a gal feel good when she is deliriously wondering if this is all just a terrible nightmare in which the mile markers continuously reset to 20 and she is trapped in a Sisyphean cycle and will never see the finish line.

I imagine that running a marathon is sort of like childbirth; people say they forget how painful it is and that is how they end up doing it more than once. I hope so because I think I’d like to do it again. I’ve signed up for the Hapalua half-marathon in April, but for now I will let my running muscles recover and focus, once again, on my weight lifting and HIIT training because I know that having a strong core is as helpful to being successful as a runner as running up all of those god-damned hills is.

Thank you to everyone who sent me wishes of luck, playlist suggestions, and all-around good thoughts, thank you to the Windward Endurance Training group for accompanying me on this journey and dragging me along when necessary, thank you to Don for agreeing to this madness (although he has forbidden me from signing up for any more restaurant newsletters since this is how we got involved to begin with), thank you to Dave and Rosie who perfectly executed both dog duty and cheerleading, and thank you to the organizers and volunteers of the Honolulu Marathon- I never went thirsty and my spirits didn’t have the opportunity to flag.

The view from the Royal Hawaiian- our digs on Marathon Eve.
The view from the Royal Hawaiian- our digs on Marathon Eve.

Happy Marathon Eve!

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‘Twas the night before marathon and all through the town not a single runner could be seen wandering around in a nightgown, ‘for the Big Day was tomorrow and on marathon eve all runners are sleeping- dreaming of finishing with ease.

They are tucked into beds in hotels and their homes while they dream of finish lines and hitting their heartrate target zones.

The carbs have been eaten, sore muscles foam-rolled, all that remains to be determined is in Mother Nature’s control.

Will the day dawn clear, bright, dry, and breezy in order to make their epic run easy-peasy?

Or will there be hot sun or- even worse!- a pounding rain to make their long slog even more of a pain.

Whatever the weather, these runners are well prepared; they’ve logged many miles jogging to and fro, here and there.

They’ve run up and over hills and down into the valleys, on wide, clean sidewalks and through cluttered back alleys. They’ve run morn and night, in rain and sunshine, and now are prepared to kick some behind.

So, rest easy, little runners, and build up your strength because tomorrow brings a run of considerable length. But know that you’re ready, it’s your time to shine, just take it easy and get to that finish line.