Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chicago Marathon 2014



Sometimes I want to write it all down quickly, and sometimes I just want to digest. Today, I will write it all down quickly. The short version: I went 3:00:17. A bit of a painful time. But at the same time, my second-fastest marathon ever.

The long version: I messed up a little bit here and there with the prep. I forgot to buy pre-race standard breakfast of a Clif Bar, so winged it with Trader Joes' PB cups and half a banana (gag). Then I listened to a volunteer, who told me that in spite of what all the literature said, I just had to go south on Lake Shore Drive to get to the corrals and they'd let me through. I wound up having to circumnavigate Grant Park, running 3+ miles before the start, because walking would have cost me not getting to the start in time.

Brigitte, Todd, Katherine and I started together at the front - the American Development wave is lovely.

Here's a breakdown:
  • Mile 1: 7:00 - perfect. Better too slow than too fast. 
  • Miles 2-6: We ran four across and 6:45 pace was enjoyable. The temperature was perfect.
  • Miles 6-9: We lost Brig & Todd when we ran a few 6:39s in a row.
  • Miles 10-13: Headwind, but we drafted a little and held steady at 6:45.
  • Half: 1:28 high, just like last time.
  • Miles 13-16: There was a pause for immodium, and we had a couple 6:55s. We noted that 6:45 started to feel like a sprint or 10k pace. Easy was over.
  • Miles 16-19: I was crampy, and I have zero experience with cramping. I shortened my stride to keep my hamstring from stopping me. I begun to lose KN a bit, then surge to catch up. 
  • 30k: 2:06, still on pace (ave: 6:47/mi) and same as last time.
  • 19-20: I let KN go. She was strong and I was sprinting to hold 6:50. 
  • 20-25: I struggled, but fought hard. I ran as fast as I possible could, and that was giving me 7 - 7:15. I said it all: you are not a girl who gives up and just misses sub-3, you will fight until you fall down, you will not let this go, the-faster-you-run-the-sooner-you're-done, faster, faster, faster.
  • But for the last 5k, I ran 7:15s. 
  • Mile 25: I did the math and knew it was going to be really close. I could still see KN from time to time, up ahead. I saw my parents. I ran as hard as I possibly could.
  • Mile 26.1: I turned the corner and watched the clock tick from 2:59:45 through 3:00, sprinting, but it was too far a distance to cover. 
  • Miles 26.1-26.2: Cruise control, because it's either sub-3, or whatever, I didn't care about the seconds.


The best part? KN went 2:59:19. She did it! It was so great that I don't care that I didn't. It's all good - for 20 miles, I got to be a part of her goal-accomplishing day!

Brig PR'd in 3:03 with zero speedwork and finished strong. Candes PR'd in 3:13. All around, a great day.



Monday, April 21, 2014

Boston 2014

Boston Marathon Recap:

In short: Went for sub-3 or bust, but 6:45 - 6:50 felt like a sprint today. At mile 9, I dropped off to 7:00, which felt pretty manageable. KN held the 6:50s and took off. On the back half, I was able to give it a little more effort through the hills, and after Heartbreak, I looked down the hill and spotted KN off in the distance. I caught her at the 22 mile mark and we ran to the finish together. We finished in 3:04.

Honestly, I think I need flat and cold to run sub-3. All the stars need to align perfectly. Good thing we all just signed up for Chicago.

The start was emotional - I doubt there were many dry eyes during the Star Spangled Banner. It was different than years past: police lined the course the entire way, National Guard were everywhere, and four blackhawks flew over the start line as we began. The spectators were amazing - ten deep in places.

It's crowded the whole way in Boston, and it's hilly the whole way. Every year I forget how hard the crowd and hills are. You constantly have to dodge people and find a path to try to hold your pace. 6:50s were miserable today, but 7:00s were fine. I felt light and quick at 7:00. Miles 8 - 12 were the hardest, because I was already tired and the end was so far off. Once I get over the half and can start counting miles down, I get moving.

At one of the lonely points, around mile 11, TriGirlPink came out of nowhere and surprised me with a big glittery R and lots of cheers:

I felt good in the big hills (16-17 is way tougher than heartbreak, in my opinion) and started thinking about working hard to find Katherine. At the crest of heartbreak I looked out at the sea of bodies and spotted her pony tail way off in the distance. And I started racing to get to her. I caught her at the aid station after mile 22. We hit mile 23 at 2:40, and I knew we weren't running an 18-something 5k+, so sub-3 was out the window. So we just ran it in as fast as we could. KN was struggling with some leg pain, so I gave her my advil stash, and that must've done the trick, because she nearly dropped me on Boylston in the last 0.2 miles. There's nothing like that last stretch - I told KN to look up, stop dropping me, and smile because we are so lucky to be here.

(home stretch)

KN's place is just off Boston Common, so it was less than a mile walk home. David had protein smoothies and burgers from the Ritz waiting. I was on the floor pretty quickly.


We should be out on the town tonight, but David brought wine and Veuve and we can't move, so it's been a quiet recovery night. Maybe tomorrow!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Honolulu Marathon 2013

So, that didn't go according to plan. But marathons rarely do - I feel like the longer the event, the more you must be prepared to adapt. I dragged HK out of bed at 3 for the 5 am start. He had a huge project this weekend, and worked 15 hours laying tile Saturday, then got 4 hours of sleep - he was not too excited and flashed his typical pre-marathon or track workout face at me:



As we waited at the start, I tried to come up with a goal. I didn't have one. Goal-less races never go well for me - in Boston I had no goal and ran 3:03 on a day when I really could have done better, had I gone after it. I tried to jump on board with sub-3:10, but I couldn't make myself care. And then the gun went off. I ran with the Dooder, fresh off of pacing Hillary to her Ultraman World Championships, and Stacky and Mariane for the first mile or so. Easa was going to run with me, but I could tell from step one it wasn't a PR day - my quads always warn me. I told him to go race for the Kamaaina win instead of wasting his time with me, and off he went. I decided to set up a good day anyway, running 6:50 - 7 for the first 10k, because you never know how things might turn around. It was doable, but not great. Then the hills hit (8-9) and suddenly, I felt great. I booked it on the flat till mile 11, thinking I might just be able to escape all the things I had going against me, like: 
  • the fact that I have work-dream/nightmares all night every night that wake me up every hour worrying I forgot something, so I'm more sleep-deprived than usual
  • the unshakeable feeling that I can't do anything right lately - eat, work, parent, budget, and so on 
  • the feeling I had when I woke up, same as every day: please just let me survive today
  • the eight extra pounds I never dropped after paddling season
  • the two speed workouts in three months
  • the limited mileage/skipped runs due to utter exhaustion
It turns out that no, I couldn't escape it. And as usual, I could fake it for 10-11 miles. Around mile 11, I stopped being optimistic and fell into the negative pit of my mind. I suck at everything. Nothing I do is ever good enough. I can't possibly run fast when I had to go buy new shorts, a size bigger, yesterday. Look at all the skinny little people, gliding along effortlessly because they weigh 100 lbs. I can't do it all. You name it, I thought it. I ran a 7:50 for mile 13, in case anyone needs proof that you can only be as good as you think you are at any given moment.

HK wanted to break 4 hours. We had a contingency plan: if I was hurting or staring down a 3:15+, I would stop and wait for him, and pace him to his goal instead. So I ran to the half (1:34) and stopped to wait for him. It never occurred to me that by waiting for him, I would risk not finishing. I talked to friends and cheered until the 2:00 mark came. And went. And then suddenly it was 2:20, and I realized he wasn't coming. Something must have gone wrong. At that point, I was worried. And I'd been standing still for 45 minutes and didn't want to bother with the additional 7 miles of the Hawaii Kai loop without a hat in the sun and the crowds, so I just started to walk back along the sidewalk.

Then along came my friend Candes on her way back from Hawaii Kai,. We've been friends since high school.  She's a great athlete who helped introduce me to triathlon. She came up as I was walking somewhere between mile 20-21 (I skipped the out-and-back to Hawaii Kai, so I'd been waiting at the 13/20 mile mark) and asked me to run her in. I wasn't sure I could start up fast again after being still for nearly an hour, but she said Please - I just need to run 7:30s! so I jumped in. I'm so glad I did. The rest had done wonders for me, and I felt like I was starting fresh. We ran a couple of miles together and she was working really hard. At the 22 mile-mark, I did the math and realized she was headed for 3:15 - 3:16, and I knew her PR was in the low 3:20s. It was game on. I ran a step ahead, chattered, and told her all the mental tricks that I've learned to carry me through the really hard last miles. We caught some great runners. She was maxed out - because that's what a PR takes - but still managed to smile for the camera: 



In the end, she ran 3:16, taking the Kamaaina win and setting a 5 minute PR. I ducked out just before the finish line, since I hadn't run the whole course, and found HK in the grass. He had pulled or torn his calf at mile 9 and hobbled back. He can't walk, so I'm worried it's badly hurt. It's not even the one that bothered him last year.  So there you have it - just call us Team DNF. It sucked not to finish, but it was so great to watch Candes kick ass and set a new PR that it completely made up for it. 

It's amazing the difference between 26 miles fast and 19-20 miles fast: I'm a little achy today, but nothing like after running an entire marathon. I woke up wanting to run (I didn't, though) and I also woke up motivated to make some changes - I don't want to just survive each day. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hana Relays 2013

In my first year of running competitively, 2006 - I met Stacky and he invited me to the Hana Relays. It was a gorgeous 52-mile run done as a 6-person relay. Everyone ran three legs of 2.5 - 3.5 miles. For years, I've tried to make it back, but something always got in the way. 

Seven years later, we went back. This time, as an all girls' team with some of the fastest women I know.   We put our husbands/significant others all on a team, too, along with Stacky. It went like this:

Friday evening, Ikaika and I flew over to Maui to stay with these two, up in Kula. Ben put his costume together, and it involved some extra hair and a bad stache.


Since some of the girls were flying in on the first flight, and the race started at 5:30 am, I ran the first two legs. Keeping it under 6:45 is now officially hard to do for 5 miles. I have not been training. I have been working right through my runs. It showed. I was pretty jealous when everyone else had someone to hand the baton to at 2.5 miles in. We have a lot of pictures of 5 out of 6 of us:

Candes, me, Lectie, Mariane & Katherine at Hookipa (while Ingrid ran)

The thing about Hana is it's ALWAYS a hill. Even when the description of the leg said it was flat. Nope, up, down, gorgeous views - that's the road to Hana. We had a lot of laughs and a lot of photo ops along the way:

Katherine somewhere in between Paia and Hana.

Candes flying down the road, both feet off the ground.

There were six staring waves. We were in the first wave, and were out front on our own by the third leg. It was quiet, and we had to find the markers on the road for each hand off. 

Chuck's Chicks at one of the hand-off points.

At leg 15 (of 18), the great Toddicus and his team (Running of the Bulls) came up on us at a hand off. They had started 30 minutes back, so technically, they were way ahead of us. Both our teams wanted to get to the finish line in Hana Park first. It was a battle. In leg 17, Ben passed Mariane to take the lead. KN was our final runner. At the start of the final leg, she was about a minute back. The road was winding, and from the car, we could tell she was gaining on the men's final runner. But we weren't sure if she knew it. The last leg is only 1.9 miles. I told our team - if she sees him, he's toast. KN doesn't lose. We were all looking out the back window of our van when the road opened up enough for her to spot him. We drove ahead to the park and waited so we could all run in together. We could only see a few hundred yards down the road... and suddenly, KN came around the corner in first. She had made the pass! She had to run up an awful hill on very tired legs to get to the park, and then we all ran in together, first across the line.

Chuck's Chicks and the Running of the Bulls

With Chuck (a.k.a Scott)

We ran 52 miles in 5:41, average pace 6:33 per mile. 29 minutes later, a womens crew from Maui that had started 30 minutes behind us came in for the win. We wound up 6th overall, 2nd women's team.

The rest of the day was spent enjoying Hana - eating, drinking, jumping off cliffs, and catching up with friends.






Ikaika was barefoot and holding a beer for his team finish. Surprise, surprise.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Kaena Firecracker Race Report

The trail around Kaena Point is actually a dirt road that connects the north shore to the west shore of Oahu. Kaena is a gorgeous, hot, dry point with views of glassy seas and killer mountains. It's a little like the trails I used to run in the Berkeley Hills in college - a rocky 4WD road, not a typical Hawaii mountain mud and root-filled trail. And much easier on the newbie trail runner! This was my third trail race, and each one has gotten a little bit easier. Still harder than any road race I've ever competed in, but that's part of the appeal. Did I mention that it's hot out there? No shade, and very little breeze. Even with the 7 am start, I was melting. Check out the gorgeous course:
 
 
I started out with Stacky, even though I wasn't confident I could hang. Keeping up with him is always a good goal. In my head I knew I was at the end of a 75-mile week, a significant increase for me, and not a time when I'd normally choose to race, but I tried to forget it and race as if my legs were fresh and happy. The pace was quick and I was out of breath right off the bat. Two girls (speedy Kailuans Susie and Toney) were off the front, and I didn't worry about keeping them in sight. For some reason, it's much easier for me to let the competitive neurosis go off-road. I worked on keeping up with Stacky, not rolling an ankle (or both), and occasionally looking up to enjoy the view. We had to carry our own water (at least 20 oz. was required) and this made me extra-uncoordinated. I don't know how to run and carry something at the same time!
 
Stacky got away from me by the turn-around, but waited for me at the aid station while I had a gu and drank my entire 20 oz. coconut water so I didn't have to carry that thing back. I was in no hurry to leave that aid station and tackle the remaining 5 miles, so I took my time, but Stacky was ready to chase down the top women. After trying to hang for oh, a quarter-mile, I told him to ditch me. I didn't have any fight, I wanted to run comfortably fast and get to the finish happy. I made a goal at the turn around (39 minutes) to come in under 1:20, or 8 min/mi pace, which is a little new and funny. Had it been a road race, I'd have been looking for 1:05 - 1:07, 6:30 - 6:45/mi. Dirt is slow! Or maybe I'm just slow in dirt.
 
I picked my way through the rocks and tried not to be a nervous nelly on the way home, mostly solo. I saw an albatross sitting there watching us like we were the goonies. I chatted with some boys I caught up to towards the end about the pros and cons of getting chicked, and said hello to the gate-keepers at the sanctuary. In the end, the heat was wearing me down, and I could feel my form starting to crumble as I climbed the last few rolling hills towards Mokuleia. I could see Toney just ahead in 2nd place, but she was making it look easy, so I didn't go after her. In the end, I finished in 1:17, 3rd female. It was so hot, and hard at times, but it was also fun, every step of the way.  
 

 
As usual, the HURT family was wonderful at the end. Everyone waited around the finish area to cheer the rest in. I made some new friends who were warm (sweaty) and welcoming. We went for a cool-down run that didn't really cool us down at all, but helped me not to be too sore to throw in a long run on Sunday morning.

 
Top 5 ladies.

 
Kelly, Tanya, and I showing off our prizes.
 
The next race in the HURT series is the 22-miler in Maunawili on August 3. The same day as paddling State Championships in Hanalei. I can't do both, so I'll have to wait for next year to try the Run with the Pigs, unfortunately.
 
Next up: a fall-back/recovery week, with some running in my old stomping grounds. We're off to Berkeley for a long weekend to attend my youngest brother's wedding. I told HK we're running the Fire Trail in Strawberry Canyon. I didn't tell him about the Connector or the mountain lions, though. Can't wait to see these views again:
 
 
 
 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boston.

I am rarely at a loss for words. Seriously - this almost never happens.  But I'm posting a week after my race because until now I didn't even consider sitting down to write. I didn't have it in me. Not because I have some major trauma or anything. Nothing happened to me. I am one of the lucky ones. What do I say? Do I write about the race? About the child that died watching his father race? About all the limbs lost and lives forever changed? About my inability to sleep Monday night, because every time I drifted off I dreamed I was searching for my children at the finish line? 

My mom keeps calling to ask if I'm ok. If I'm sleeping. If I have PTSD. I'm fine, I tell her. I am, because really, I feel nothing but fortunate. I cried a lot on Monday. I can't tell you how many times I have cried for the family that lost their 8-year old son. I can't tell you how badly I want a rewind button, or psychic powers, or some instinct that could have gotten everyone away from those bombs. 

I can't think of anything better to do or say, so I'll just write about my day.

In Boston, Ikaika and I stayed with David (a.k.a. KN's husband) and he was a wonderful host. He knew where we should be, when. He took us out to an amazing pre-race steak dinner, and got Ikaika to the half-way point to see me go by during the run. The Davids were the best support crew a girl could ask for. I slept well and woke up happy on race-day, with little anxiety or stress about the race. I reminded myself that it was just a catered long run, and that 26 miles is really not that big of a deal. In a way, it was nice that I had no real goal. I was worried my sore ankle might keep me from running, and that in itself made finishing the goal, instead of that sub-3 I tend to chase. 

Ikaika, David and I picked up my friend Kelly and drove down to the start. She was also injured, but she was optimistic. We said good-bye to the Davids at the Hawaii House, and Kelly and I hung out there, about 200 ft from the start line, warm, safe, and happy, for a while, then did a mile warm-up run. My ankle was sore, but functional, and it hurt less as I warmed up.

I found my friend Corina in corral 3 a few minutes before 10 am, but not Andrew and Scott, who I had hoped to run with. The gun at Boston in surreal. It's hard to believe you're really there. It takes a minute to get to the start line, even when you get a good seed up front. Corina and I ran 6:30s through the first 5k. Too fast, for me, really, but what the hell did I care? At mile 3 I stopped for a moment on the side of the road and told myself to commit to some plan. I felt like I was all over the place - scatterbrained. I had a plan, but no commitment. I decided to stick with running the first half at under 1:30, then see how I felt, with sub-3 as the goal. At mile 8, my legs got tired, but I didn't feel like I had to stop. I thought it was too early for the level of fatigue in my quads, but really, there's not much I could do about it. I settled into a 6:45 minute mile pace, but it wasn't easy. I found my friend Scott at mile 12 and we talked to the half, where I saw Ikaika and David on the left side of the road. I stopped running, kissed Ikaika and said I'm fine, but I really don't feel like running sub-3 today. I will finish though - see you there. It was such a lovely mental break to see them. I'm not all alone in the world! Something about running without music, without a partner, in a big sea of fast people, made me feel so lonely. I have never felt more alone in a race. I'm not sure why I stopped, except maybe that I needed to just talk to them.

This is the biggest crowd I've ever been in while running sub-3 pace, which makes it a little funny that I felt so lonely. David took this photo, and if you click on it, you can find me (waldo in yellow) and see just how packed the course was. You can also see why I was surprised by the course, even though I've been here before. In my mind, net downhill meant flats and downhills. Nope, this is not downhill.

 

I went through the half at 1:28 something - faster than I did in Chicago. Really, sub-3 was within reach. But I didn't go after it. It wasn't in me. I decided to run comfortably for the back half, with all the hills, and enjoy the sights, and tried to back off to 7:15 - 7:30 pace. But 7:30 pace felt harder than 6:45 did. So I picked it back up, and started racing up the hills. Miles 17-21 are insane. Straight down, or straight up. There really is nothing else. I hated the ups. I hated the downs. The spectators were too loud with their shrieks and cowbells, so I covered my ears as I ran. I wasn't totally grumpy or a raging bitch or anything. I was happy for the most part, and grateful that I didn't hurt. I remember thinking to myself sometimes I'm so lucky to be in this race. Ikaika, David, Toby, and Noah surprised me at mile 21, most of the way up Heartbreak Hill, and that motivated me to check my form, smile, wave, and be happy.

From miles 22-26.2, I just wanted to be done. I felt surprisingly good, and went from running 7+ to running 6:45 per mile again. I passed hundreds of people who'd run up the hills too hard. I started thinking about the finish, Ikaika there waiting, the burger at Four Seasons, and all that stuff. My quads were ruined from the hills, and every step killed. I dodged people the way you fly through cars on the highway changing lanes because I was in a hurry to just be done. Really, the race flew by in spite of the pain. Suddenly I was turning on to Boylston and the finish line was 1/4 mile away. I glanced at my watch and decided I didn't want to run another 3:04 at Boston, so I picked it up a bit. I crossed the line in 3:03 high. 

I wasn't happy about the time and I wasn't sad about the time. I got out what I put in. I think I shrugged and thought good enough. Had I focused, I might have done better, but my mind was all over the place. My fitness showed up last Monday, but my brain didn't. 

There were people 20-deep cheering on either side of the road all along Boylston. That last stretch is like no other race. Even Alii Drive in Kona. I smiled the whole way. Once you finish, you hit a traffic jam. I tried to climb over the fence to get out, but volunteers screamed at me that I had to keep walking down the line. So I ran along the curb outside of the crowd and hopped off of planters and dodged volunteers with icky food while we all were herded through the blankets and stuff. I just wanted Ikaika, my burger, my jacket, and a place to sit down.  Other runners were swaying and puking and a few said that I hadn't run hard enough if I could still jog. I didn't care, I just wanted out of there. I jogged along until I found a cop, then asked him for directions to the Four Seasons - our meeting place.

The Four Seasons is 3-4 blocks from the finish. I'd tell you something more specific, but really, I don't think my brain works for at least 6 hours after a marathon. Ikaika, David, and David's sons were right there in the street, waiting for me by the hotel. I wanted food, and a place to sit, now. They'd already gotten a table. I had a burger so big that I had to use a fork and knife to eat it. The boys had snickers bars. I texted my mom, and talked to my dad on the phone, and stretched and iced. Everything was perfect. We finished eating, went out front and waited for the valet to bring David's car around, and then the boys asked David what the boom they'd heard was. I didn't notice the sound, amidst all the noise of the crowds, until they pointed it out. The car came, we got in, and started heading out of the city towards David's house. I saw two women in race blankets running and crying and thought to myself, they must've had bad races. I saw people hailing cabs frantically and thought they must be cold. Then my phone started getting texts - over 70 texts in 20 minutes, all asking if we were ok. I didn't know what had happened, I just started replying Yes, we're fine, we're in a car heading out of the city now. The texts came so fast that I had to cut and paste my response. Finally, someone told me there were bombs going off at the finish line. I called my parents, my ex-husband Ramsey, and my kids' schools, to make sure no one would be worried about me when they heard the news. 

We watched the news all evening. I cried this weird grateful cry that I am not a person who can afford to fly my children to the finish line. I cried some guilty tears for being the reason that Ikaika, David, and his two sons were anywhere near that finish line because of me. I held onto Ikaika for dear life, because it was the spectators, the supporters, the race-lovers, that were killed and broken. Mostly, I feel like we were blessed.

We left town for NYC the following morning. I'll post the happy stuff - vacation, photos, and stories, sometime soon.


Monday, February 18, 2013

GAR 2013

It's that time of the year: the annual Great Aloha Run (GAR) vs. the size of my ass (SOMA) graph. I should probably be driving to the start already. But it's cold and gusting up to 30 mph outside. My pole house is rocking. 

I started charting in 2009. Here's that graph, if you don't want to click around:


A tradition was born. Is something still considered a tradition if it's stupid?

I'm not sure if I skipped the race in 2010 or if I just skipped blogging. I'm too lazy to search results.

Here's the post from 2011. I remember being really happy about my 52:50, because coming in at just a hair under 6:30/mile with all those hills at the end seemed like all I could really ask for, given that I wasn't very fit. Then one day, in early 2012, I realized what had happened in 2011. It was race-day magic. I wasn't very fit, I just got lucky. Here's the mathematical proof of race-day magic:


And the hollow blue dot was my predicted 2012 finish time, based on the SOMA. The theory was spot-on:


(no race-day magic in 2012, unfortunately).

The point of all this non-math and non-science, is that the SOMA is definitely in the 52-53 minute range. However, the fitness does not seem to be correlating. At all. I can't even blame the SOMA. I'm not going to draw a graph. Well, maybe I'll just draw a graph of something else. Like the correlation between the number of reece's cups I ingest in the course of a workday vs. the boringness of what ever project I'm working on. But that's too obvious.

I'm full of dread/excitement about the first race of the year. Just call me dreaxcited. It's going to be fun to see everyone and race and push hard, until it's not fun, somewhere under the Nimitz overpass, as we start climbing into Aiea, and then it's going to suck.

I signed up for the Women's 10k March 3, because I haven't run a 10k in a couple of years, I think. I haven't run a 5k since 2009 (except off the bike), so I think I'm going to try to find one for March as well, to really cover all the distances. Four weeks until the Hapalua Half Marathon! The mileage is climbing, and I don't feel great yet, but there are slow improvements. I snuck in a mid-week 10-miler, and a Friday morning 15-miler this week, which makes me feel a little like the old, runner version of myself.







Monday, December 10, 2012

Honolulu Marathon 2012

Before the race report - I have to share the sad news. Killer didn't make it. We tried and we tried, and she hung on for a week, but we were just watching her die before our eyes. In the end, she couldn't hold any food, was a boney little shell of her former self, and she started having seizures. She'd sleep if I held her, but her breathing was slow and labored. On Saturday afternoon, we took her in, and there was nothing anyone could do, so we said goodbye and let her suffering stop. It was so abrupt. She was a fireball a week ago, and then she was gone. We're very sad without her. This is the last photo I have.
 
 
We spent much of that day just keeping busy, and trying not to stop and think, because if I did, I cried. Sunday was the same. The marathon kept my mind off of Killer for the most part. Thank you everyone who emailed, commented, and tweeted messages wishing her well and sending us love.
 
Onto the happier parts of the weekend:
 
 
Saturday morning run with Team Kailua: Todd, Brig, and Joel in front, HK, Mark, and Steve in the back.
 
It turns out that if I were a man, I would be the kind of man who gains 50 pounds during his wife's pregnancy. I carbo-loaded right along with HK on Saturday as if I had a marathon to run on Sunday. I can't say he was excited about the race. I think, had he not been injured, he would have been less full of dread. But the calf hurt even on his 2 mile Saturday shake out run.
 
I dropped him off for the 5 am start in a Freaky-Friday role reversal:
Todd & I coerced him into compression socks to hold off the calf pain, if possible.
 
I tried to talk him into dropping out at 10k if it hurt, then giving it another go next year. I told him that marathons hurt even when you're perfectly healthy. But he wanted to get it done. At 10k, he stopped and told me it was hurting, but manageable. He was already off his pace a little, but wasn't unhappy. And off to Hawaii Kai he ran.
 
In Hawaii Kai, around mile 15, the calf stopped him. Fortunately, Jeff Kent had a beer aid station:
 
 
This was beer #1 of what would become the 26miles/26beers marathon challenge.
 
 
After 16, he ran as much as he could, but his calf caused his leg to buckle, and he wound up walking some. In the end, he finished in 5:09. About an hour off his goal pace. He said he never felt too tired, but his calf hurt from the second step on.
 
***Edited to add HK's race report, which just came in via text: "Calf cramp is the entire race report. I was happy to see you. I was happy to have bud lite. Other than that I'm just glad it's over."***
 
Brigitte was a star, as expected, taking the first kamaaina award again this year, in 3:05. Pretty in pink: 
KN kept her company for the last miles, and I waited for them at the finish.
 
The rest of Team Kailua did well, as far as I know. Joel PR'd with a 2:52. Mark ran just over 3h, which is not the day he'd hoped for at all, but still an amazing run. Dave, the super pacer you may remember from last year, finished just ahead of Joel in 2:52 as well. He's from Kailua, so he's honorary team member (says the girl who lives in town.) Steve is MIA. We're not sure where he went.
 
We spent the rest of marathon Sunday at Outrigger, where the bench your marathon time challenge was quickly replaced with the 26miles/26beers challenge. I didn't participate. HK was the only one who won the challene - if you call this winning:
 
 
It's noon on Monday, and he might still be asleep with his face on my couch.

 
(This is kind of how the challenge went. Somewhere around beer 18, HK and Dave started wrestling.)
 
After the finish, before the debauchery.
 
I'm proud of HK for running. Although I'm impressed by his athleticism regularly, I think I'm more impressed by his open mind. When we met, he couldn't run two miles. For the first year or two, he mumbled have fun when I'd head out to run, then fell back asleep. Then he started coming to track workouts and joining me and my friends for evening runs. Then I signed him up for the marathon, just to see what he'd do. And he did the marathon, even though it wasn't really one of his life's goals, just to see what he could do. I wonder what I should sign him up for next year?
 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chicago Marathon Race Story (.08 KN Version)

Five distinct thoughts came to me during the mind-altering experience that is the marathon:

1. As RR pulled away in the commotion of an aid station around mile 10, I watched her glide ahead with that silly, massive wool hat — pom pom and tassels flopping: I can't believe she's still wearing that thing! She looks like a gazelle disguised as a hobo. 

2. During the second half, as my gastrointestinal distress increased and sent me to the restroom multiple times: I'm guessing nobody will ask me for nutrition advice.

3. When I surmised RR might be at mile 22: I wish she could text me and let me know how she is doing. Right now.

4. I hope David is having a better day than I am.

5. I am really lucky to be here.

It was truly thrilling to be part of the event with RR and my David, who also broke a barrier of his own: the 4-hour mark, which remained elusive after his first two efforts in Vegas and Boston.


When he met me, he had never run any kind of race. Rather than giving him the opportunity to do, say, a 5K, I threw him into the Honu half-ironman in Hawaii — because, hey, why not start with one of the most grueling, humbling, sweltering races in the world? In Chicago, he paced himself perfectly, completing the second half several minutes faster, smashing his goal in 3:42. And to think we almost didn't make the trip!

A while back: With superstars Beth Gerdes Walsh and RR at the Vegas Marathon, where we all placed in the top 10 women and Beth broke 3 hours for the first time. I wore the same outfit (including Beth's clever Target socks serving as disposable arm warmers) in Chicago. Needless to say,  I didn't throw them away in either race.
The back story: 
Four weeks before Chicago race day, RR and I finished our longest long run ever, and we both felt encouraged. The next day, my daughter caught the flu. I followed. Lungs, sinuses, muscle aches, stomach, 103-degree fever...if it was miserable, it came our way. After a week in bed and three prescriptions from the doctor, I could not run 6 miles, much less 26. About 8 days before the race, I ran a short test workout with RR, who encouraged but did not push me. Somewhere along the way, David had tripped on some stairs and hurt his foot. The prospect of skipping the race did not upset him in the least. Basically, we were a mess. 

In a rush of optimism and FOMO, we decided to go and bought tickets on Tuesday for the Sunday event. 

Trying to stay warm outside the expo in Chicago. 

Friends (including Brigitte, whom we missed!) said four weeks of rest might surprise me. Sure enough, the first half was a relatively evenly paced (not to be confused with easy) 1:30-low. But along the way my lungs rebelled, and my intestines were tying themselves into knots. An overall deterioration and two major bathroom stops in the second half brought me in at 3:14. Even though it was 7 minutes slower than I've run relatively recently and 15 minutes slower than I wanted to go, it felt like an accomplishment — a good effort. Heading back to base camp, I thanked the amazing volunteers. 

Aside from running beside RR during the first part of the race, seeing her leaping toward me at the finish was my favorite moment. 

"Did you do it?" I asked, teeth chattering, body shaking uncontrollably. Her body language told me everything, but I wanted the numbers.

She grinned and nodded. "2:58!" 

We hugged, and I congratulated her. Then her mom gave me $20 for a cab back to the hotel because I had no money, could barely walk, and thought I might lie down and die right there in the cold. (Lucy, I owe you!) 

In the end, watching two people I care so much about delight in their accomplishments perfected the whole experience for me. I'm so happy I didn't miss it. 

[Mini bonus for anyone who cares about these details: Of 37,455 finishers, RR and I both placed in the top 10 in our respective age groups. Hooray for age groups!]







Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chicago Marathon Race Story (1.0, RR Version)

I chose that title optimistically, hoping that KN will write her story for us, too! And her David's, as well, because he did great, too.

It was 40 degrees this morning. My hands froze into useless crab-claws after the first aid station and didn't unfreeze until 1 pm. After a ridiculously drawn out internal debate, I chose to wear shorts, like the Chicagoans would, so I didn't look like a sissy from Hawaii. 

Let me start by saying that the elite development tent at the race start was the equivalent of the Four Seasons for marathons. KN and I met this morning at 6:30 for our 7:30 am start. I had on a tank and shorts and a long sleeved tee and a wool sweater and a down coat and sweatpants and compression socks and a wool beanie. I waddled in like the Michelin Man. I entered the tent and immediately stopped shaking. It was HEATED. I didn't even know you could heat tents, I figured they'd melt. KN and I chatted and peeled off layers, and then the whole group traveled to the start corral 15 minutes prior to the start. The start was 6 lanes wide, and they opened half up just as we got there. So we took front row spots. I'm in the bottom right corner of this photo from the Chicago Tribune, still wearing my Goodwill hobo sweater and hat, and black knee socks. KN is off my left shoulder, but I'm blocking her. I have always said that I have football player shoulders - see how good I am at blocking? 


We ran the first few miles pretty conservatively at 6:50 - 7:00/mile. I would get caught up and go too fast, and KN would reign me in (she had a gps, I did not). Thank goodness! The course was packed with runners. The small japanese man who races Honolulu dressed at Minnie Mouse every year passed me at mile four and I vowed to beat that happy little bastard (he always, always beats me in Honolulu. I'm a little bitter.) By 10k, we were hitting 6:45-:6:48 every mile. And freezing. And I was worried, because at 10k, the pace should feel easy. It was anything but easy. 6:45/mi is beyond my comfort zone, and if I let my mind wander, I would lose the pace. I had to focus every step. We talked about how hard it felt, and decided not to slow down, just to hold it here for as many miles as we could. I focused on making it to the next mile marker, starting at mile 9. Somewhere after mile 11 or 12, KN and I split up at an aid station, and never found our way back together. I knew she was behind me, and hoped she'd catch up, but when I looked back I couldn't see her. I just kept focusing on the next mile. I'd repeat just find 12, find 12, find 12, and then just find 13, find 13... I saw my parents and aunt and cousin at the half-way mark, and passed 13.1 in 1:29. I had no confidence at this point. I was working too hard to possibly run another 1:29 half. But then, the mile markers started coming really quickly. I would look up and be surprised to see the next mile already. I ran a couple of 6:38 and 6:39s in there. At mile 16, I started passing girls that were blowing up, and made it a little goal to catch one per mile. I hit 30k at 2:06 and realized I'd just PR'd that distance. At 32k, I looked at my watch, did some terrible race math, and asked the guy next to me: So, we have 10k to go, so if we run 7s... and he said: We'll still break 3. Finally, I started to believe.

My hands were non-functional for the second half, so I didn't eat. I drank very little, because the water was too cold anyway. At 23 miles, as we headed back north into the city, we hit a strong headwind. I tried to tuck behind men. I tried to pass girls. I tried to keep the pace under 7. I did, all of it, but barely. My last 5k I was running 6:55-6:58, but I was pretty sure I had enough time in the bank. At mile 25, I passed Minnie Mouse and said (quietly) Suck it, Minnie. The hill with 400 meters to go is evil, evil, evil. Sure, it's 24 feet. It felt like Diamond Head. Or K2. But as soon as I rounded the corner, I could see the finish line, and the clock that read 2:58. I was light-headed and gasping from the hill, and focused more on staying upright than on my pace. I remembered Dave telling me in the final miles of Honolulu last year that PRs aren't fun. PR's hurt. It hurt. But it was a 5 minute PR - 2:58:38.

KN came in a little behind me after struggling in the latter half with some illness. Her David PR'd by 20 minutes. I'll let her tell you the stories.

I stopped running, and started shaking. The volunteers gave me water, but my hands wouldn't even hold it, it kept slipping through. They opened the water for me and if I held on as tight as I could, I could drink some. I shook uncontrollably from the cold as I walked back to the elite tent with three other girls - all of whom had broken 3 hours for the first time, too. We joked that four demented post-marathon brains should be able to team up to navigate us back to the tent, but really, we were totally lost until a volunteer led us. 

It's a little surreal. Ikaika always tells me that I can't do it unless I believe I can do it. I didn't really believe I could do it. I figured, after 16 marathons, that I'm just not a sub-3 runner. But I was determined to try my damnedest. I thought of Brigitte, who always drops my lame ass on the back half of races, and I told myself to be tough like her. I thought of Beth, who just ran sub-3 off the bike in IM Wisconsin like it was easy. I thought of the tons of friends who'd sent messages and emails and tweets wishing me well, and fought to not let them down. I thought about my kids, and how proud they would be (turns out 2/3 forgot I was running a marathon today, so, clearly, they're very proud), and I thought of Ikaika (proud, for real, texting his support and love from Molokai).

I don't have any other pictures, because really, I looked like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man, and after the race KN and I were shaking so badly that the photos would have been blurry. After it was done, my parents and I relaxed at their condo, and I didn't get sick after a marathon for the first time ever. Maybe I should always run in the freezing ass cold with crab claws.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kukio Challenge 2012

Because why go to the Big Island for one race when you can go to the Big Island for two races, right?

Sunday morning I woke up with stiff ankles and achy lats, but otherwise feeling pretty good - I guess that's the up side of running 15 min slower than your last half-marathon.

Officially, I go to the Big Island each June to race Hawaii 70.3. But really, it's Kukio I'm looking forward to. KN couldn't make it this year, and it wasn't the same without her. It was another beautiful Kukio morning: 


The marble cake looked like a butterfly! So I had to eat it, of course.

I wasn't the only one silly enough to want to race again the day after a half ironman:

Bree & I, pre-race. She and Masuda raced in one-man canoes, and HK and I raced paddleboards - prone for me, stand up for him.

HK lost a bet. When we saw the wind Saturday morning, we made a wager. If I beat 4:58 (half-way between my usual time and my worst time ever) at HI 70.3, he would race Kukio. Keep in mind, this is not a stretch for him. When I met him, he didn't run or swim ever, unless his leash broke. Now he swims 2-3 mornings a week and runs track and a long run weekly. I won the bet due to that elusive cycling race-day magic. HK was not especially excited about his first multi-sport event:

Those other people behind him are drinking the beer already. He has FOMO. 
And no, he doesn't manscape. He's just Chinese.

He cheers up when I smoosh myself up against him.

The race is a 1/2 mile swim, 5k run, and then you choose: 2 mile paddleboard or 4 mile one-man canoe.  It's the original race, the one the Kahala Challenge is based on, and this was its 11th year. Our very generous friend Mike Field, a talented waterman and artist, brought us paddleboards once again so that we could race. There were 130 athletes, a mix of local paddlers and swimmers, Kukio residents, and a handful of triathletes. It's rare that HK swims 800 straight without stopping at the wall because we swim in a pool, so he was a little bit nervous about the swim. As we waited for the start, the wind started picking up. Here we go again!

The swim was a big, beautiful triangle in the bay. Makani swam next to me, and he has a great long reach/pause that I tried to emulate as we rounded the buoys. Swimming with 129 other people is so much nicer than swimming with 1800 other people. It was a lovely 13 minute swim. HK did it in 15 minutes - no problem.

Then we were  helped out of the water by the amazing volunteers and sent to T1, where wading pools and lounge chairs awaited. On to the run course for the up up up to the turn around, and Wee was way ahead, of course, and leading the entire race. I ran all out for the long 1.5 miles up to the turn in spite of my heavy legs. Bree was a minute or two up at the turn around, and on the way home I just looked for HK and focused on not putting on the brakes on the downhill. HK came up the path well in the first half of the pack, looking peeved to be running, but strong. He high-fived me (postitive!) and shook his head at me (as in damn you! - not positive) at the same time. I ran 21, a minute faster than previous years. Chasing Wee makes me go faster!

At T2 Mike had my paddleboard in the water waiting for me. It's the same beautiful red and yellow stock (12') board every year. I love paddleboarding (once a year)! I found my balance and headed out around the first buoy. Once I turned down towards Kua Bay, it was surf/paddle/surf the whole way, with the wind and swells at my back. I found the right angle and was able to drop in to some bumps and rest as I rode the waves. I had no idea how windy it was or how big the swells were until I made the 180 degree turn to head back to Kukio. Oh my. I couldn't look forward because every wave broke over the nose and sprayed me in the face. But my arms found a rhythm and no longer burned and we must've had the current with us, because the trip home felt fast. HK cruised by on his way out looking like it was a walk in the park. Makani rolled by on hid way out to the turn around using only one arm, for some reason. I rounded the final buoy and fought the wind to shore, then ran up the beach. The paddleboard course is much shorter than the one-man course that Bree took on, and in that wind, the prone board was likely the fastest vessel. So, only two men beat me to the line. 

Beth and Tati were waiting on the beach with Sian, and we chatted while watching for HK. He passed a lot of people out there and cruised across the line in 10th place for the paddleboarders. And then, he got brunch, and a beer, and finally, he was happy:

Is it nerdy that our shirts match?

The podium. The wind was still crazy. That guy's baby almost blew away.

Not only is MF the kind of guy who will bring his friends his personal boards down to the race site to use, he's also the guy who gives you the hat off his head when you compliment it. Camouflage, Mike's art, shredded edges, and extra straps sewn on above the ear to make sure your shades don't fall in the ocean when  you slide them up on top of your brim. What's not to love? 

This photo was taken in the Kona Airport Cafeteria, at the spot that he claims counts as our first date, because I bummed a couple of french fries off his plate here the day we met. A couple of french fries is not a date.


My third framed Kukio print now needs to find a patch of wall. Kukio served an amazing brunch, all the beer HK could drink, and a lovely day at one of the prettiest beaches I've ever seen. 

And you know, I think my body feels better for having raced. It's as if I flushed out all the tired. HK is snoring, though, and was snoring on the plane, and is generally wiped out. I don't think he's going to become a triathlete any time soon, but I bet he'll do this one again. He said each individual event felt do-able, but he had no idea how hard it was to put it all together. I'm constantly impressed by all the new things he's willing to try, and how well he does.