Tag Archives: Perspiration

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.
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Stayin’ Alive

 

View from the gym. Makes it easier to play through the pain when you’re looking at this.

Yes! More than halfway through my CrossFit ‘experiment’ and I’m still standing.

I’m really enjoying the class and am learning quite a bit about CrossFit. Mostly I’m learning that it really IS as hard as it looks and that I really like working out with only ladies. There is something so liberating about showing up at the gym and knowing that nobody is going to be impatiently waiting for me to relinquish the barbell or be silently judging the (lack of) weight I’m lifting; these ladies, like me, have nothing to prove. I’ve heard the same sentiment expressed by others in our group; we’d all like to continue with the ‘ole XFit (is that a thing? like Xtina?), but we’d like to continue with just ladies. Can it be ladies night every night, please?

This CrossFit program has us meeting three or four days a week for an hour long estrogen-fueled sweat sesh. Most days, we start with a short run to warm-up (ahem, I ran my fastest mile on Saturday, 7:35, no big deal [brushes off shoulders]) which everybody but me seems to dread, but I like it because it’s the only part of the class where I feel like I know what I’m doing. Then, we move on to going over the day’s class goal which is usually learning some new movement, like a clean or toes to bar, etc., and we finish the day with a Workout of the Day (WOD for short, CrossFit is so hip that even the workouts get nicknames) that focuses on whatever the day’s skill was. It’s a pretty simple format.

We’re learning the correct form for lots of types of lifts and movements; they all look pretty straightforward when I watch the coaches demonstrate, but, man, I’ve never felt so uncoordinated as when I’m trying to follow their lead. It’s kind of like dancing, which I’m also not very good at, but I don’t let my lack of natural talent stop me from enjoying myself. So far we’ve learned how to jerk, snatch, clean, squat, toes to bar, pull-up, and burpee. Soooooo….many…..burpeeeeesssss.

We burpee if we show up to class late. We burpee if someone misses class. We burpee if we forget someone’s name. We burpee if we row under or over our rowing goal. We burpee if we’re bored. We burpee if we’re tired. We burpee if we’re hungry. Essentially, we burpee for the heck of it. It seems that, much like my parents’ telling me to “go play outside” whenever I started to annoy them as a child, the coaches instruct us to burpee as a diversion technique. I will admit it is pretty effective and they say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but I’m not sure if “they” ever did a burpee.

I’m not supposed to eat this.

Part of this program focuses on our diet. We are supposed to be eliminating processed sugar (even maple syrup,  which, since I’m from VT, is essentially a food group) and eating more protein and healthy fats. While I haven’t cut out sugar completely, I have almost done so (as an aside, tea without honey is hardly worth drinking), and I am surprised by the difference I see and feel. Swapping sugars for more protein and healthy fats has made me less inclined to snack throughout the day, and I feel like I have more energy in general. I’ll admit that, as a vegetarian, I’ve found it nearly impossible to completely forgo bread and I’m probably eating more starchy grains, like rice, than I’m supposed to be eating, but, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to maintain her sanity

The first week of the program, I cut sugar out completely, and, after a mini-meltdown when Don asked if I wanted to grab lunch at our favorite restaurant, which serves mainly sandwiches, decided that it wasn’t going to be possible for me to both completely eliminate sugar and maintain my status as a functioning member of society. By the end of the week, tired of hard boiled eggs and avocados, I found myself spinning around the kitchen like a whirling dervish trying to find an afternoon snack, cursing my vegetarianism as I imagined my classmates eating grilled chicken. I was probably one paleo recipe away from spending my afternoons crying into a bag of marshmallows; at Don’s recommendation, I began to allow myself the simple luxury of bread and feel much better now.

So far, this has been a great experience, and I’d like to continue pursuing my dreams of CrossFit competency after the New You program ends. I get a good vibe from the other gym goers and the coaching staff is friendly, knowledgeable and chill. My personal favorite is a gal named Coach Tiff because her whole “thang” is essentially my life goal. She seems really happy to be at the gym, even if she is spending much of her time helping a bunch of sweaty newbies adjust their form, and she is so fit that she looks like how I imagine look when I’m dreaming. That level of fitness takes a lot of dedication, and I admire that. I’m sure, since I’m doing this program and all, that I’ll look like Coach Tiff in a few weeks; thats how this fitness thing works, right?

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

 

Core Power Yogaaaaaaaaa! YOU get to Sweat! And YOU get to Sweat!

Don and I were feeling the burn last week when we took our local Core Power Yoga studio up on its offer of a free week trial. Yeah, thats right an entire WEEK of FREE yoga! What could be better?

Neither Don nor I had ever done yoga in any serious sort of setting. I occasionally do some yoga here at home, mostly Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube,  on days when I just can’t get it together to do any other sort of exercise or on days when I’m feeling particularly stiff and sore and old. I think the closest Don has come to going yoga is his post-run stretching. Neither of us is very flexible, and we both hope to become a little more bendy by conscientiously reminding our bodies to streeeetch and move in ways that do not involve running or lifting (or sitting or lying down peacefully in a hammock).

We started on a Monday evening, and, unfortunately for those of us who like a nice early bedtime on a work night, the only beginner’s class that fit into our schedule began at 8:45 that night. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was a little nervous to be doing yoga in public with others around to witness, but I thought that a yoga session right before bed sounded like a very relaxing thing. We were greeted by a yoga instructor named Leah who is quite possibly the most enthusiastic person I have ever met and she seemed overjoyed that she got to be our very first yoga instructor in the very first yoga class of our lives. If she hadn’t seemed so genuinely happy and upbeat, I would have rolled my eyes at her, but, you guys, this girl is the real deal. Just being in the same room with her made me see everything through rose-colored lenses; her sweat should probably be bottled and sold as an antidepressant.

As the class began, it seemed like Leah was trying to tell us what she had for dinner (Chana Masala?) or that she has obscure taste in music (Chaka Kahn?) or maybe she had made a really good point about something and wanted to drop the mic on her way out (BOOM shakala!). It turns out that the series of movements we complete to get from one pose to another in yoga (essentially going from standing to a high plank, to low plank, to an upward facing dog) is called a chaturanga dandasana. Say that one five times real fast. The class began with a brief demonstration of the movements, a lesson in how to breathe, and advice to do what we can, and, if we needed to check in with our breath at any time, to get back into child’s pose and take a minute.

I loved the yoga. I loved it so incredibly much. This is how the studio gets people to join; they offer you a free week, you get hooked, and then you crave that awesome feeling. On our first two days of the trial, we attended level 1 classes which, according to the CPY literature, is great for people without yoga experience (ME!). On day three, the only class we could attend was a level 2 class that CPY recommends you have some yoga experience for (2 days is ‘some’ right?), and this was a reach for both of us; Don actually spent a good portion of the hour in child’s pose “checking in with his breath.” Over the weekend, we tried some of the Yoga Sculpt classes that combine yoga with some lifting of light weights with a lot of repetitions, and I think I got the best workouts I’ve had in a while in these classes.

I thought the yoga would be a little bit of a workout and very relaxing, and I completely underestimated the physical challenges that would present themselves. At one point when I was bending forward to hang my torso in rag doll pose, my sweat started trickling into my nostrils; I was literally drowning in my own sweat.

By the time Sunday, the last day of our trial, rolled around, I was all chaturanga’d out. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea, as someone who had never done yoga in an instructional setting, to go every day for a week without a break, but the frugal New Englander in me just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a FREE class. My Dad once told me that I should never turn down a free meal (solid advice, for sure) and I’ve taken that sage wisdom and applied it to… everything. I love free, and I loved the yoga, so it only seemed appropriate that I yoga until I couldn’t yoga anymore.

While I struggled to lift my arms at the end of the week (shoulders, so sore), and hold the chair pose for any length of time (quads, so sore), each day I could feel my hamstrings lengthen and my body become more flexible overall. I will definitely try yoga-ing again, I definitely can’t afford to go every day (even though I really REALLY want to), but I should be able to swing a couple of classes a month. Don seemed just as pleased with his yoga experience. He, the fitness freak that he is, particularly enjoyed the challenging yoga sculpt classes (in one, we burned almost 500 calories in an hour according to our FitBits) and even purchased his very own yoga mat, so I know he plans on going back.

Child’s Pose, aka Downward Facing Don

Hill, yeah!

Tomorrow is the big day- Hapalua Half-Marathon day, and while it kind of snuck up on me (as in when a co-worker and I were looking at our calendars to schedule something and she said “Well, next Monday is the 11th…” my response was “That means this Sunday is the 10th; I think I’m running a half-marathon on Sunday.”), I feel ready for it.

I’m even fitter and faster than I was before I lined up for the start of the marathon, and the shorter distance makes me fee like I might be able to push myself a little harder to go a little faster. My ultimate goal is to finish the 13.1 miles in about 2:15, but I would be happy with anything under 2:30. My running cohorts tell me that this is totally possible, but they can’t hear the voice of dissension that creeps into my head and gets louder with every bead of sweat that I wipe from my brow.

I think I’ve worked hard enough to be able to trust in my training and ignore all of the “I can’ts” and the “I won’ts” and the “I’m dyings” that pop into my brain to try to steer me off course. While we didn’t cover as much distance training for the half as we did for the full marathon (and why would we need to, the race is only half as long- for many of us it will be over by 8:30!), we did train on an awful lot of hills- big hills, little hills, medium hills, long slow hills, short steep hills, long steep hills, hills that seemed friendly the first time we ran up them and then we ran up them again and again, hills where people were cooking breakfast or dinner and the smell of food wafted over us, hills where fathers were helping their sons train for football season, hills where bicyclists dismounted to walk up, downhills we sang the praises of in one direction that became uphills we cursed on the way home; there was no shortage of hills for the Windward Endurance training group.  This is a really good thing because, while there is only one real hill on the race course, it is a pretty big one and it happens around mile 10.

The Hapalua has a fun challenge called Team Hawaii vs. the World where the best local runners compete against a few professional runners from other countries. The local runners get a head start and the professional runners chase them to the finish line. When I went to pick up my race packet yesterday, I spotted two of the professional runners taking a breather.

Takin' a load off before the big day.
Takin’ a load off before the big day.

Don is sitting this race out because he has been too busy to train, but he and a friend who’s husband is running will be at mile 8 and at the finish line cheering us on. I’m enjoying my pre-race diet of carbs and ice cream (if eating ice cream before a race isn’t a thing, I vow to make it one) and am looking forward to this time tomorrow when I will have finished my run. Wish me luck, I’m going to take a cue from the pros and spend some time stretched out on the floor!

 

Back on Track

I’ve been a little lazy, lately.

The past few weeks have involved more desk-sitting and excuse-making than suck-it-up-ing and stick-to-my-plan-ing and I feel guilty about it. Part of my problem is that I’ve been pretty busy at work, and sometimes at the end of the day I can’t muster the energy to tie my sneakers and drive to the gym. Another part of my problem is that my upcoming half marathon isn’t scaring me enough.

Leading up to the marathon in December, I was terrified of having a mid-race disaster. Now that I’ve run the entire 26.2 miles without losing a foot or pooping my pants, I’m afraid I’m not giving the 13.1 miles the respect they deserve. Even though it is only half the distance of the marathon, 13.1 miles is still much farther than anybody needs to run in one go.

Trail with a view.
Trail with a view.

Last week I had a houseguest who helped me get back on track a little bit. While we didn’t go running together- because she adamantly maintained that 3 miles is the farthest distance she needs to run and only if they are three scenic miles, otherwise she’s sticking with the treadmill- we did a few challenging hikes and logged many miles of walking. Not only did the hikes keep me from being glued to the couch in my down time, but, as I struggled not to barf  while ascending Koko Head Crater in the hot mid-day sun, I was reminded of the importance of maintaining my level of fitness and taking my half-marathon training seriously.

Tonight I happily rejoined my running group for some rough and rolling hills. While I was slow and felt tired and achy after a day of sitting in front of the computer, it was refreshing to be running “for reals” and back among the company of my running buddies. I dragged myself to the gym last night even though I left work much later than planned and only had time for a quick workout- some is better than none, right?- and I’ll do the same tomorrow, and, although the plan for Thursday’s group run is speed work (which I hate!), I’m oddly looking forward to it.

So I’m officially back in the saddle again, back on track, getting my groove back, whatever you want to call it. With the half marathon only about six weeks away, I’m buckling down not a moment too soon. My goals for now are to keep making time for fitness and to try a little harder- run a little faster, do one extra pull-up, crank the resistance on the elliptical a little higher- so that I’m making the most of my time even when it is limited.

What goes up, must come down.
What goes up, must come down.

Say it aint’ so! Ten miles is a long way to go!

Tomorrow Don and I will embark on our first 10 mile run.

I am both terrified and excited about the prospect of our first double-digit distance. It seems like such an important benchmark in running, and, while I know it will be hot and tiring and hard, I think I can do it. Had I considered the prospect even two months ago, I think I would have felt otherwise. Joining the running group has not only given me more insight into training, but it also provides me with a support system for when I feel like I couldn’t possibly take another step even if there was a yellow cake with chocolate frosting sitting juuuust out of reach.

So much of running, for me, is mental, and if I can talk myself out of taking too many walking breaks or ducking out early into the sanctuary of my air-conditioned car, I can claim victory. Seeing the other runners in our group struggling (or not struggling) with these same things puts my fatigue into perspective and makes it easier for me to talk myself out of quitting. The people who I draw the most inspiration from are Terry, a man who just celebrated his 70th birthday on Monday (yup, 70, as in seven decades of life!), and the handful of “real” runners who make running look like a breeze but offer the same complaints- being tired and out of breath at the end of a run, dreading the big hill in the middle of the run, and really looking forward to seeing Cheryl’s car along the way- as I do.*

Terry is living proof that a life of physical activity keeps you young and healthy (I would have guessed he was in his early 60s), and those “real” runners remind me that even when you train hard and are super fit, running still kinda sucks. While this may not seem all that inspirational, it puts into perspective that the burning in my legs and lungs and the sweat blinding my eyes are simply a part of running and I can either let them deter me from accomplishing a goal I have set or I can power through and make it to the end.

The old saying misery loves company has never been more true than when applied to a running group. The camaraderie that develops between people who are sharing the same pain on the way to a common goal is essential to our success as a group and individually. Some of our stronger runners, including our fearless leaders Mike and Kelly, will be absent from our 10 miler this weekend because they are competing at the Hana Relay on Maui (a 52 mile relay race- yikes! I’d join if a team could have 52 runners, but, sadly, a team is only allowed 6). At first, I was worried this would mean that it would just be Don and I doing our 10 miles together- which would really mean that it would be the two of us for about a mile, and then I wouldn’t see him again until I made it back to the car- but the rest of us have banded together to make sure we don’t have to go it alone.

My plan for tomorrow is slow and steady (when isn’t this my plan? It has been my life mantra since I first formed a coherent thought!). With all of the training we have done, my pace has been picking up a bit, but with the help of my heart rate monitor, I’m going to find a pace that seems maintainable (driving my car with the AC on full blast seems the most maintainable, but I think my teammates would frown upon that… unless I offered them a ride), and not worry about time. Don is hoping to finish in time to catch the Chargers game, so I’ll do what I can, but he could always pick me up after the game since it might take me that long to run ten miles!

Our long run last Sunday was about 7 miles (although there were discrepancies between the various gps and pedometer devices some of us use, so it was somewhere in between 6 and 7 miles and since I like to err on the side of giving myself more credit than I deserve, I’m calling it 7). We ran a loop that gave us beautiful views of Kaneohe Bay and the mountains surrounding it and then out to He’eia Pier for some more beautiful views of mountains and water. I need to find a way to bring my phone with me on runs so that I can capture some of the spectacular scenery that makes them extra worthwhile. Mike seems to be especially adept at finding scenic routes for our long runs, and this, many of us have agreed, allows us a little distraction from the heat and fatigue we feel along the way.

Sunday’s run was not my best. Don and I had some friends from Germany visiting, so, instead of eating a balanced dinner, drinking extra water and having an early bedtime, we ate guacamole by the fistful, washed it down with some beers, and stayed out later than we intended to on Saturday night. I knew that I would not be at the top of my game, but the important thing is that I still completed my run. It was definitely a “mind over matter” situation with the hardest part being when we ran past our cars on the way out to the pier- There they sat! Little metal boxes promising climate control and an escape from our suffering!- but the extra work required to make it to the end made victory that much sweeter.

Wish me luck on tomorrow’s 10 miler! I’m certainly going to need it!

*Cheryl is Terry’s wife, and she parks somewhere along the route of our longer runs and lugs around a cooler filled with ice-cold water and Gatorade. I’ve never seen a more beautiful site than the open hatch of Cheryl’s trunk, and Cheryl, arm extended, offering a cold jewel-in-beverage-form to us tired runners from her treasure chest.

The Water Cycle

Marathon training is in full swing, and since humidity levels have settled around the “Must Possess Gills to Breathe this Air” mark for the past week or two, hydration has become one of the most important parts of training. Having grown up in New England and spent my young adulthood mainly in the Northeast, I had never experienced a tropical summer before moving to Hawaii and could not have imagined how sticky and hot it is. As I settled in to my new island life, my hydration belt quickly became one of my favorite pieces of equipment.

Belt

I bought my hydration belt earlier this summer at Be Fit Kailua. I had stopped by the store merely to browse, but as I turned the belt over in my hand, I realized that I had been using the heat and threat of dehydration as an excuse to keep my runs short, so I bought it. The belt I have is made by FuelBelt and is fastened around my waist with velcro. Two small water bottles (maybe 6 ounces?) sit behind me, one on each of my love handles, and a small zippered pouch sits, easily accessible, on my hip. The bottles rest in a holster and can be slid out and replaced easily so that I can continue running while I sip.

Bottle

Wearing the belt took a little getting used to. At first, I found the bouncing of the water bottles annoying and, even now, I occasionally think I hear someone or something coming up behind me when I’m actually just hearing the sound of water sloshing. Any issues I have with the FuelBelt are erased by the benefits of wearing it. The obvious benefit is that, like a camel, I have a source of easily accessed, guaranteed fresh and clean water with me at all times. I watch others in my running group struggle with hydration- will there be water fountains? Can I find a good place to stash my water bottle when I get tired of carrying it? Will someone think my stashed water bottle is an orphan and will it be adopted by the time I return for it?- and I’m glad I’ve eliminated this from my list of marathon training worries.

Pouch

I saw somebody with a backpack style hydration pack, but I like that the belt covers very little surface area so that I can catch whatever breeze is available. A few people have the hand grip water bottle which features a strap you put your hand through so that you aren’t actually carrying your bottle, but it is firmly attached to you, but I like that my hands are free for more important things like wiping sweat from my brow, picking wedgies, and clasping together, raising them to the sky, and pleading with whichever deity sees fit to end my suffering.

This week, our Tuesday run focused on building endurance with hills and Thursday’s run was geared toward increasing our speed. Each run was a little less than 4 miles long, but, as they both focused on things I am neither particularly fond of nor excel at, I found them just as challenging as the longer runs. Today’s long run was grueling but fantastic. We met at the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden in nearby Kaneohe and ran through the garden, to the Ko’olau Golf Club and back again. Although the hills were more difficult than I thought they would be and the 7.5ish miles make this my longest run to date (!), the scenery was so green, so lush, so indisputably tropical that I really enjoyed today’s run. I need to go back and take some photos (the zippered pouch on my FuelBelt has space for keys, chapstick and money, but not the iPhone 6) to share with you, but imagine a place where a non-animated version of the movie Fern Gully could be filmed, and you’ve captured the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden perfectly.

I Must Confess….

Yes!

I’ve been holding out on you guys. I’ve had a big announcement to make, but I didn’t make it and didn’t even create a preamble that would lead you to believe that I had a big announcement to make because I thought that I’d eventually come to my senses and didn’t want to be answering questions about the big announcement that was not to be. The time has come, though, to let you in on my dirty little secret: I have decided to train for a marathon.

You are probably wondering, as you have every right to wonder, why? I’m afraid I can’t give you a really good answer. I wasn’t possessed by the spirit of goodwill to run in honor of some charitable organization, I didn’t lose a bet, and I most certainly did not, suddenly, become a speedy and graceful runner. Honestly, I received an email with the subject line “Are you a runner?” thought to myself “Nope,” opened it anyway, and, instead of deleting it, forwarded it to Don, who, upon receiving it, incredulously asked “You want to run a marathon????” to which I replied “Ummmm, no. Probably not.” But here we are, preparing to run a marathon.

The contents of that email (which I should have deleted as was my first instinct! Let this be a reminder to you all to TRUST your instincts!) detailed a marathon training clinic organized by a group called Windward Endurance Training and a local restaurant, the Kalapawai Cafe. The program they offer consists of three weekly group runs, video stride and running analysis, workout recommendations, discounts from the Be Fit Kailua shoe store and the Planet Sun sun care store, a post-race massage, and, best of all, free snacks at the Kalapawai Cafe after our Sunday morning runs. Free snacks go far in motivating me to do things I otherwise would avoid, but snacks alone do not a marathon make.

What really got Don and I giving some serious thought to drinking the kool-aid was that the program sounds like the most sure-fire way to get someone to the start and finish lines of a marathon. If I decided to train for a marathon on my own, I’d likely be tempted to give up around mile 10. “10 miles is a perfectly respectable distance to run,” I’d reason, “and my feet hurt, so why press on?” Now, I’m part of a group of people (including a few who are in their 60’s and a lady who is several months pregnant) who will be disappointed if I give up halfway through the training, and I can draw on the collective knowledge of the group to make my marathon experience better and more likely to succeed. The discounts and free snacks certainly don’t hurt either!

This morning was our second training session, a little under 6.5 miles, and while I was at first overwhelmed by the distances we are already running (if you’ll recall, the longest distance I’d run prior to today was 6.2 miles), I’m finding that, despite the heat and despite feeling a little inadequate in my abilities (most of these people have run at least one marathon already), I’m struggling along just fine- I only contemplated running headlong into traffic to end my misery once on today’s run! Don would want me to mention that he had the fastest time this morning (I will own up to the fact that I was second to slowest), which I must admit is a feat since he was away for work all week and didn’t exercise at all.

We’ve got our eye on the Honolulu Marathon on December 13th. So far, I’ve been given some training tips from folks who have been there before; my brother, Andrew, recommended I invest in high quality socks because he said he wore holes in his when training for a race last summer, and the guy running the clinic, Mike Flaherty, suggested that people can psych themselves out when they put a marathon on a pedestal- it is, after all, only a run. I’m open to more advice, if you have it! Stay tuned here for some new equipment reviews as we go along, and wish me luck, I’m going to need it for the training alone!

Another Day, Another 5K

View of Pearl Harbor from the finish line
View of Pearl Harbor from the finish line

I’ve just now recovered enough from Saturday’s 5K to write about it. When we first signed up for this race, the fact that it was called ‘The Grueler’ and featured a trail portion- where the world was NOT guaranteed to be flat- gave me pause, but I figured, and was backed up by others with whom I discussed the matter, how grueling could a 5k be?

The answer, turns out, to be relative.

If you enjoy running up endless hills under the hot Polynesian sun, ‘The Grueler’ was probably not all that grueling, but if you don’t enjoy running up hills and actually haven’t seen a hill since you moved to Hawaii almost three months ago, then the run was very grueling. When we picked up our race packets on Friday, I learned that the course, unlike the 5K on Independence Day, would feature several hills… Ick.

medalThe first half of the race was almost entirely uphill with an occasional small plateau. After about a mile, the course wound through the woods on a narrow, single-file-only, trail. It turned out to be pretty great that the trail was so narrow because it provided for the occasional walk break when I got stuck behind someone else who was walking! About halfway through the run, I was cursing myself for not seeking out some hills to practice on, and I was figuring that Don must feel pretty smug about going in early to work every now and again so that he could practice on the enormous hill atop which his work sits. After the course came out of the woods, it was all downhill.    Thank god.

Even with practice, Don still found the course pretty tough and admitted that he walked inDon a few places too. He managed to run well enough to get a medal for third in his age group with a time of 27:29. I didn’t get a medal, but was pretty happy to finish with a time of 35:13. We were both slower than in the last 5K, but those hills meant business! There was a group of local high schoolers who are part of a cross country running team and who ran the race as practice. Their coach, who ran the race with them, said that the course was hard enough to add 7 minutes to their average 5K running time- which is 15 minutes, yes, FIFTEEN minutes- so that is a good indicator of how tough it was. I was relieved to know that it wasn’t all in my head, and I was even more relieved to cross the finish line. I’m still in love with my Topo sneakers and Don is falling more in love with his Hoka sneakers every time he wears them. He said the extra cushioning was great for the steep downhill after the trail. I don’t see any more 5Ks on the horizon in the near future, but you never know when they’ll pop up!

"Stretching" after my run.
“Stretching” after my run.