Monday, November 14, 2011

Marathon Monday - Week 9 of 18

"I'm at the half-way mark!" I realized, as I typed the title for today's post.  So far, so good.

I missed posting last Monday because I was on vacation, here, at home.  My mom came to visit from California and we had a great time together.  I stuck with my run training (minus one 3-miler), but swimming, biking and blogging all kind of fell by the wayside.  It was a good mental break for me. Today, though, it's back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I ran a fun race on Saturday - the 20th anniversary of the Maui Harbor-to-Harbor race.  It clocked in at a little over 10 miles (10.55 according to my Garmin) and I was thrilled with my average pace of 9:28!  Running more is paying off!  I felt good the entire race and incorporated some new mental tricks to keep me going in the later miles: keeping focused, staying positive and checking in on my body and how it was performing.  Run tall.  Hold your core. Smile. There was no swearing involved, unlike Xterra.

With a little more than a mile to go, a younger woman passed me.  Usually this is not a big deal, because people pass me a lot, but for some reason I could not let this one go.   I remembered something I read recently, that if someone passes you near the end of the race, do not let them get too far ahead.  Her pace wasn't much faster than mine at the time, so I hung on around 25 yards back.  We got inside that last mile and I knew if I didn't pick up the pace she would think she had it in the bag.  I remembered how Mirinda Carfrae tried to chase down Chrissie Wellington in Kona.  We hit a slight downhill and I lengthened my stride a bit, gradually catching up, then I dug down deep and pushed enough to get past her.  I figured she would push it and pass me again, but I stayed strong and finished just ahead of her.  She came up to me at the water station after the race and congratulated me on the finish, which was really nice of her to do.  I thanked her and told her I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to catch her and told her she set a good pace.

I went into the race with the intention of racing strong and trying to sustain a 9:30 pace.  It was a hard effort, but it also reassured me that I can run faster than I think!

The race was an exchange for my long run for that weekend, scheduled for 10 miles.  I know I'm supposed to get my long runs in slower, and I won't be doing any more "racing" throughout my marathon training, but this was a really good check-in for me and a great confidence booster.

I promise to take it slow at the Turkey Trot next week!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Xterra Kapalua 10K Race Report

Run - 10k
Total Time = 1h 17m 13s
Overall Rank = 260/338
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 8/19

Shoes: Asics Gel-Trabuco

The 9:00 a.m. start left plenty of time for breakfast so I had a smoothie: fresh coconut milk, pineapple, OJ, banana, ice and egg white protein. Filled coffee and left the house – it was a little over an hour drive to the race site and I still needed to pick up my packet. 

Got to the race shortly after 7:00 a.m.  It was nice to get there early – I got a great parking spot and had plenty of time to check in and relax before the start. 

The check-in area was quite a walk uphill to the center of the hotel.  I had pre-registered via fax, but they didn’t have any record for me.  Thankfully, I brought my form and fax confirmation.  The Xterra staff made it smooth and hassle-free, which was nice.  I got my bag and number (lucky #300 ) and walked back to my truck.  Turned out I got the wrong size shirt, so I walked back up to registration and they exchanged it for me.  I should have checked before I left, but I just considered it a pretty good warm up.  By the time I got back to my truck the second time, I had worked up a pretty good sweat.  It was going to be a HOT ONE!

Nutrition:  Prepped HEED in water bottle and sipped up until 30 minutes prior to race, then apple cinnamon* Hammer gel 15 minutes prior with water.  *I really like this flavor in the morning!

Everyone gathered at the start.  One of the first things I noticed was that the race was seriously UPHILL BOTH WAYS (meaning at the start AND at the finish).  I was chatting with some other racers then BOOM – off went the start cannon.  Talk about a hit to the adrenalin!

The runners streamed out along the golf course and across a wide maintenance road for the first part of the course.  I was near the middle of the pack and the pace was good – I only had to maneuver around a few runners to get into gear.  We hit the tunnel under the highway (funny course sighting – right about this time I looked down and saw someone had dropped the remainder of what appeared to be a joint just outside the tunnel) then the real trail started and that’s when the trouble began.
I thought that starting mid-pack was a good idea pace-wise, however, when we hit the start of the trail everyone slowed to a walk.  It was a single-track section and there was quite a traffic jam.  I lost a lot of time and momentum here and it was a little frustrating.  Next time I will know – get up front, start fast, hit the single-track, then slow the pace once the trail widens and people can pass.
We finally hit some wider trails and it was a go, then HELL hit us square in the face!  Yes, I already knew:

·         Xterra trail runs were notorious for being XXX strenuous!
·         That the old Kapalua Village course was practically a vertical climb, even on the cart paths!

I knew both of these things when I signed up, but you tell yourself, “Hey, it can’t be that bad.  After all, it’s only a 10K!”  Right.  On several of the climbs I was reduced to absolutely trudging my way up the trail, grasping onto every tree branch I could reach as I went to haul my ass up.  Thankfully, I was in good company with many other runners who had also underestimated the effort required of this course.  I found myself swearing under my breath on several occasions. 

I stayed hydrated through the aid stations because it was freakin’ HOT out there and knew how important it was to stay cool.  Props to the Xterra volunteers – there was a good amount of aid stations on the course and even one guy handing out GU at the last one (SMART!).  I took one, but did not eat it – instead saved it to try later – nothing new on race day.  It was bad enough that I grabbed a cup of Gatorade on the course – I thought it would be OK (I train with HEED and haven’t had any high fructose corn syrup since March), but it tweaked my stomach a little bit.  I thought about bringing my own hydration belt, which I do for longer races, but decided water on the course would be fine.  Next year I will bring it anyway – it would have been nice to have HEED on me for whenever I wanted it.

So, it was climb, climb, climb, climb, climb, then the wonderful and really fun downhill started.  They threw in a lot of obstacles with ducks and jumps here and there, which was a lot of fun for me.  I passed a LOT of people on the downhill, then the course ran along a narrow single track and you could see the beach and the hotel so we knew we were close.  We dropped down into a dry riverbed with lots of potentially ankle-breaking stones, but I stuck to the piles of pine needles and picked my way down to the beach.  The beach run was the first of two heart breakers…it was blazing hot, full sun, and so hard to slog through that sand!  I was really feeling my energy starting to sap, so I half walked, half jogged down the compressed part of the sand as much as I could, then hit Heartbreak Hill.

The last 200 yards or so of the race were up a steep hill on the grass between the hotel and the beach.  As much as I wanted to run to the finish, I just couldn’t do it.  Half way up the hill I almost threw up (and I almost NEVER throw up – it’s a thing) and I willed myself to keep it down because I was in the wide open with the course barrier on one side (behind which were a bunch of spectators) and a huge hedge on the other, so there was no where to go and no way to be discreet.

At the top of the hill the course turns and hits the finish line – so I at least ran that!

I would liken this to what some women say about childbirth - when they are in the middle of it, they are asking themselves "what the hell was I thinking when I signed up for this?!" But after it's all done you say to yourself, "Hey, that wasn't too bad. When can we do it again?!"

I had only been running/training on flat courses, so I was not in good shape for a difficult trail run. More trail running, more hill training, and starting up front would have probably resulted in a better time/performance.  We’ll have to see next year!

Xterra does a great job running races - this was a great day for those with families, too, because they had 10K, 5K and Keiki (child) races. Lots of volunteers. I will do it again!