Friday, December 16, 2011

Honolulu Marathon 2011

Well, it looks like another marathon has come and gone, but fortunately I am able to look forward to the next one already. It’s crazy how slow time goes while waiting for a race and then how quickly it is over. Right now am writing the blog on Kuhio st. at a Starbucks in Waikiki and it is pretty wild here.

I kind of signed up for Honolulu marathon compulsively while at the library working on my summer research paper. With the previous summers me spending in Japan and working with kids, the research environment was not working out to well for me. Luckily, I had support from my advisor and a couple friends Lily and John to get me through at the time. Anyhow, while I was at the library I had been contemplating quitting the research program, but deciding if I signed up for Honolulu it would be my mental escape allowing me to sit in the library longer, knowing I would be going to paradise to visit my sis and run. So anyhow, signed up for the marathon, booked a flight and about $1100 later and deciding to miss almost 2 weeks of school, I was able to finish my research requirements for that summer

Initially, I just planned on running Honolulu as a fun run because of the busy race schedule I had in the summer/fall.
From that spring I did:
Eau Claire M
Superior Trail 50k
Grandma’s M
Voyageur Trail M
Chisago half-tri
Superior 50 mile
Twin Cities M

Intuitively, with not being used to doing this many races in 1 summer, trying to get a PR at Honolulu would have seem pretty ridiculous to a person who can think on logic, but with not being able to do moderation very well, I asked Chris Lundstrom to throw together a training schedule for me, and had a sub-3 hour marathon cemented in my head.

Was able to get to Hyland every Friday for the loop which was always fun. Also Brando and I would do the early morning what we called “Lundo Runs” starting on Summit and E river road. With these runs being approx. 7.5 and 12 miles respectively, I was able to build a bigger base than I have in the past for previous marathon. Not being a person who has ever put in a lot of miles for a training schedule, it was giving me confidence to be able to get in some moderate distant runs during the week. On top of that, it was what I would look forward to every week. I have vivid memories of Brando and I rolling to Hyland early in the morning and bumpin’ some Foster the People. About a month out from the race Brando headed out to Cali to ski instruct and Cody and I were able to get in some rockin tempo runs on Sunday. 4 weeks out we did a slow 22 and 3 weeks out we did an 18 with 12 at MP. That last long run was pretty tough with the winter conditions not really allowing for a 6:50 pace but we had a good idea what 6:50 effort was.
Then leading up a little bit closer to the race, was a stressful time, trying to finish up all of the academic work, and also the CA position work that Vall and I had to finish before both of us going outta town for winter break. With the thought of going out to Honolulu on the mind, was able to get through and before I knew it, was on the plane heading back out to Hawaii for the 5th time.
With the taper leaving me over-energized and anxious the planeride was a bit stressful. I ended up standing for nearly 2 hours from LAX->HNL from how anxious I was getting. Once getting to Hawaii, it was pretty hectic with the race less than 2 days away. I still had to pick up the race packet and get mentally prepared. Scootered to the expo on Saturday and couldn’t believe how crazy it was Met Honda-san for the first time there.
We had met on the Honolulu Facebook page and both running had no problem connecting as both of us were running the marathon. So many Japanese people walking inside into the the convention center. Inside of the Honolulu Convention Center, it felt like I was in Japan, with nearly all of the booth’s information in Japanese and also the people working there were Japanese. Took a quick photo with the JTB Santa Claus
It was completely overwhelming being at a marathon expo with almost everything in Japanese. With my overall energy up from tapering combined with so many things in Japanese, it was a recipe for sensory overload. We walked around talking about each others training leading up to that point, and ate curry rice at the convention center. mmMh. After eating wonderful curry rice, met up with Aunty Sharon, Uncle Randy, Andrea, and Bella and Aunty Share gave me some of the peanut butter Mochi which I had been craving for months. After meeting briefly, we split up and Hondasan and I headed back to Kayla’s apartment. After being stopped by the police for riding 2 people on the moped, we made it to Kaylas without a ticket. We had all been planning on having our carb loading night there so we were beginning to prepare for that. After de-alcoholizing and cleaning her apartment, we greeted Hondasan’s roommate Sakamoto-san over. It was a little awkward hanging out there with Sakamotosan because he was a little bit older and didn’t speak much English, but with both of us having running as a common interest, that’s enough to beat any language barrier. Aunty Share and the crew came over and we ate delicious pizza and pasta from a restaurant and Aunty Share and Andrea cooked up some awesome pasta. After eating and hanging out for a bit, they left and then my anxiousness really picked up. I was just 1 “sleep” away from running the race that I had occupied my mind for the past 3 or so months. The race started at 5am so set the alarm for about 3:30am. Got to sleep at around 12 or so and was a little worried from the lack of sleep I got the night before. Anyhow, woke up at 3:30am and despite being a little sleep deprived, felt more awake than I had anytime in the last 3 months. Felt my thoughts narrowed into the marathon and had the prerace jitters going on. Kyle moped’ed me over to pretty much the start of the race and the experience was about to begin. There were thousands and thousands of people (mainly Japanese) all over town who were getting ready for the marathon as well (many first timers). It was super energizing and I tried to run around some of the sidestreets for a warmup. I can feel my heartrate pick up as I write this part. After doing some warmups and drills, I hopped one of the fences where the startline was and found a spot. Even though they put up marathon pace signs, it seemed that people didn’t really follow that and there were many people who just wanted to start up front. With this being semi-understandable for me, I also though it would be semi-understandable if I just hopped one of the fences to get a spot where I wouldn't be stuck behind a bunch of people. I ended up randomly bumping into another person wearing a TC RUN CO shirt and he was a older guy on the race team. We talked for a bit at the start, he gave me some of his Gatorade before he tossed it, and after standing around herded into the start shoot for almost 10+ anxious minutes the race started.
The start of the race was accompanied with a firework show to our left. This definitely didn’t help for me and my problem with starting out to fast.
For some reason I had a symbolic experience while we were all running the race in the dark with fireworks going on. It kind of reminded me of WWII and all the tragedies that happened, however it was very unifying to be running together on this play run, with American and Japanese running together with a common goal. It was one of those goosebump moments for me and probably was a factor to hitting a couple of 6:25min/pace miles. It was a little confusing at the start too because there wasn’t mile markers at the first few miles, however they were marked in kilometers every few of them. However with this confusion, I tried to dial into the 6:52 pace that I had been training for for the past few months. It was too awesome running past the large groups of people (mainly Japanese) with the screaming ganbare!(fight, do you best) to us. Think the Japanese fans were mainly screaming at the Japanese runners, so strategically, I tried to pace with one of them, for the increased superficial support. A few miles into it, was realized that I was sweating a lot more than I should be, and was a little getting pretty warm. During the race, it was my first time getting in hot conditions for more than a few miles. Prior to going to Hawaii, I was trying to get in some warm training runs i.e. running with a long sleeve indoors with a hat on at the metrodome, and putting on extra layers outside, but with the Minnesota weather around 0 degrees when I left, it definitely felt like I was more adapt to the cold weather. Having long hair and sporting a TC RUN CO hat, got pretty warm and gave the hat to Kayla at around my 7. She handed me a gu, ran with me for a few minutes, and wished me well as I was off. It felt surprisingly more cool with the hat off and now I just would have needed more aid stations to stay cool and hydrated. I popped an S-tab and about every half hour, depending where the aid stations were. I was a little surprised that there was not many aid stations at the beginning of the race and found myself waiting for a few miles sometimes just to get some water. The later aid stations had water and sponges which helped get all the salt off the head and arms and was just overall refreshing. Ended up sticking behind some American guy for a while and we right at a 3 hour pace. Early on the race, I felt pretty confident that I could sustain that pace for the rest of the race, but as I got into the later miles, that started to change. I remember at mile 13 thinking only 10 more miles to go, imagining that all I needed to do was run to the Ford Bridge and back from Middlebrook, but realizing my stupid mistake, had to wait until mile 16 until I could reimagine that in my head. Was getting pretty warm throughout the race, but would cool off at the aid-stations and would try to rehydrate with 1 or 2 gatorades/water at each aid station. Legs were starting to fatigue and was getting nervous if I could keep the pace as I snuck up on the later miles. I ended up getting with a group of 4+ runners and stuck with them for prob 5+ miles. The gusting winds made it tough to stick to the pace, but the benefit of running with the group was at least an artificial feeling of using less energy. It’s crazy how much of a mental game running is. Another problem that I attribute to mental fatigue is my stomach was getting a little upset and had the feeling of needing to use the bathroom coming up. I think because of the fact that I was beginning to think that I couldn’t keep pace much longer, I might have allowed myself to succumb to this feeling. Added on to being fatigued, that might have expedited how quick I actually needed to use the bathroom and since I was on exact pace of what I needed to hit, I knew if I stopped to go to the bathroom, it was goodbye to a sub 3. Holding on to not going to the bathroom for as long as possible, I decided to just go. It was pretty frustrating knowing that my goal that I had shot out for and thought about so much the past few months was out the window, but also realizing that I didn't have much control over it at this point, I didn't let it overwhelm me, or ruin the rest of the race experience for me. Hopped outa the biffy and was happy to have an aid station not long after that to wash off after sitting in a sauna-like biffy for some time. I was back on the road and was just running at whatever pace I thought I could sustain until the end. It was a bummer though I lost the people who I used to pace throughout the beginning of the race. Having to readjust to the new runners around me, I tried to just tried in a groove. It was so so cool running along the busy road with the other runners on the other side of the road running towards us. There was just thousands of runners running by and they would just stare at (at least my) zombie like body stumbling around at around mile 20. Despite taking 3 S-tabs, as always around this time, my calfs were starting to cramp if I took too long of strides or pushed off too hard so just tried to keep it conservative and see how fast I could go without a cramp sneaking up on me. Seeing the other runners was pretty entertaining with many of them wearing costumes and doing other silly things, but all this stimulation was kind of overwhelming at that point. I would try to close my eyes and run for 5+ seconds just to take a break from it. Next time I do Honolulu, for sure I will be costuming it. It was cool to get the ganbares (goodlucks, keep goings) from the older Japanese ladies too, because even though they knew I didn’t understand it, the tone of them saying it was enough to express their feeling for the non-Japanese speakers. Seen Uncle Randy and Kyle at around mile 25 and was a little shameful to come into them at a later time that expected, but with their unconditional support, was excited to finish the last mile of the race. There surprisingly weren’t too many people on the course the last mile of the race which is completely different than the crowd at Twin Cities. At later in mile 25, I saw Andrea and she cruised me into final shoot. Here there was tons of people but with just hyperfocused on the finish, I only saw the finish line mats. After finishing, walked around for a bit trying to find the finish shirts area and after doing that I went and got a shiatsu massage from a Jlady who works on the island. After getting an awesome massage I tried to stand up and both my calf and my quad cramped up, and had to have her actively get the cramps out. Being a little greedy I went to another guy giving the massages and got another. Walked back over to the finish and met up with the supporters who had been overly gracious to me the whole time. It was too emotional for me to sit with all the family and friends so I went further towards the finish line so I could cheer on the finishers by myself. It is one of the coolest feelings in the world for me watching people come in at the end of the marathon. Seeing their relief to be finishing what had just been torturing them for hours is pretty cool. Usually being a nut for getting in calories after a run, I just found myself staying there wanted to cheer on all the people who were finishing all day. The people who would run by also seemed to appreciate the support, which made me want to stay even more. It was cool seeing the large running groups that came over from Japan, such as the JTB runners, Konami Sports Club, and even a few highschool groups! I couldn't believe how fun of an idea it would be to train a group of highschoolers and fly them to another country for a marathon(although not sure how safe). I think I remember the school’s names were Kokoku highschool and also Tohoku highschool. I would try to yell out for them ad they always seemed surprised to hear a foreigner supporting their group. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see Hondasan run past me to the finish but he came and found me after the race. Congrats to him for his first marathon! After heading out of the marathon wanting to stay even longer, we got a ride back to Kayla’s apartment from Uncle Randy and Kayla gave me a couple of cold beers. mmMm. Again, it was sad how fast the race came and went and I am kind of bummed to be sitting here after the race, wishing it could happen again tomorrow. It was sadistically pleasing for me for some reason to see almost the whole town of Waikiki limping around everywhere the following days after the marathon. Wish I could interact with more people around here. I am always grateful to be hanging out with other runners. Overall, a great race. Kind of wish I would have got a better time but wharves.
Now I am just hanging out in Hawaii until mid-Jan when I will pace Adam Schwartz Lowe for the HURT 100 mile race. Really looking forward to that. Need to try and get good nutrition and recovery runs to get back on schedule. Next race is probably Boston. Thinking of sporting a costume for that because don’t think I will be trying to throw down a quick time in the middle of training for the tri. Better hop in the ocean today and learn to swim! Excited to spend time on the big island pretty soon and start swimming/biking. Get to hike Koko head soon too!

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