Thursday, September 29, 2011

Maui 1/2 Marathon Race Report

Last Sunday I ran my first half-marathon in 10 years!  I was pleased with my (somewhat limited) training going in, having only missed one easy 3 mile day and one long run during the 12 weeks leading up to the race.  And really, I didn't totally miss the long run...I was supposed to run 12 miles that Sunday and ended up racing a 10K instead.  I just didn't have it in me that day to run back to the start (it was a point-to-point race) for the full 12.  I'm OK with that.

Everything felt good going into race weekend.  I felt physically ready, the feet were cooperating, and I was calm.  After all, it was only a half-marathon, not a triathlon for Pete's sake!

It was the usual stuff - line everything up and check everything off my list.  For just a running race I sure had a lot of crap to deal with:
  • Charge the Garmin and make sure I had the HR strap
  • Put the race number on the race belt, attach timing chip to shoe
  • Pack "after-race" bag with bathing suit, towel and slippers (BTW, I ended up forgetting the towel and slippers anyway)
  • Get coffee pot ready
  • Prep smoothie without protein powder (to be mixed in in the morning, since I wouldn't run the Vita-Mix at 3:00 a.m.!)
  • Prep cooler bag with post-race recovery brew and snacks
  • Fill bottles (2) with water
  • Find my Nathan belt and store gels (2) in zip compartment
  • Get race clothing together
  • Make final race shoe decision (Zoot Ultras or Mizuno trainers - still worried about the feet even though they felt fine - went with Zoots)
I told my husband that I couldn't remember going to all this trouble 10 years ago for my last 13.1.  It was get dressed, pin on the number and live off the course.  When did I become so high maintenance?!?

A very early wake-up - 3:00 a.m. - since the race start was 5:30 a.m. and it was about an hour drive.  I had 30 minutes to do my business, eat and get out the door.

Everything worked out fine, despite the precious few extra minutes I took standing in the closet, on the verge of a meltdown, wanting to completely change everything I was going to wear at the last minute.  What's up with that?!?  I just kept repeating "nothing new on race day" over and over and I ended up OK.

I mixed up my pre-race smoothie and poured a cup a coffee and was out the door by 3:30, and the ride over to the race was uneventful.  I picked up my co-worker, Malia, on the way and we got to the race start by 4:30, which was good because we got to park right there and didn't have to take a shuttle.  Plenty of time to shed extra clothes (it was 80 degrees by race start!!), wash down gel #1 hit the Porta-Johns and GO!  And I just have to say, there is something delicious about an apple cinnamon Hammer Gel at 5:00 a.m.!

This was my first "big" race - meaning, more than 100 people.  In fact, there were just over A THOUSAND runners!  It was fun at the starting line, but crowded in the chute.  Unfortunately, there was no line up by pace time, so the beginning of the race was a free-for-all.  Malia and I tried to get closer to the front, but it was shoulder-to-shoulder so we had to start about 3/4 of the way back.  Note to self - next year, get to the starting line EARLIER and get closer to the front.

At the gun, we were off!  It was super cool because the race starts pretty much in the dark along the resort road.  Both Malia and I noticed and commented afterwards that it was so quiet.  All you could hear were feet hitting the ground and breathing.  Virtually no one was talking.  It was pretty neat.

It took some time weaving through the slower runners and walkers to get up to cruising speed.  Everyone thinned out by the first mile marker.  It was good because I really wanted to practice pacing with this race and it kept me pretty slow.  I planned to run 10 min miles for the first half, then sub-10 the second.  Just a glance at my Garmin from time to time kept me in range and I felt GOOD!

This is a VERY FUN race.  There are a lot of aid stations and many have music or entertainment.  Each one was staffed with LOTS of volunteers and plenty of supplies.  I also enjoyed running down Front Street in Lahaina - it's funky and scenic and FLAT!

Just before the turnaround (it's an out-and-back course) I ate Gel #2 - Espresso Hammer Gel this time, for a little caffeine kick.  The timing was perfect because I hit the aid station and water right then and everything went down smoothly.  The only thing I forgot was to hit my lap button for the split!

I'm proud to say I ran the entire course with the exception of about 2 aid stations where I walked to get a drink of water.  My plan was to get back onto Front Street before the sun came up over the West Maui Mountains (and the heat turned up!) and I almost made it - just passing Puamana.

My legs started to get a little sore (and my hip flared up a little) toward mile 10, but didn't get any worse, so I pushed on and finished strong!  Very happy with my 2:12 time.

During the last mile or two I had the realization that yes, with training, I completely capable of doing a full marathon.  So that's what's on tap for January 2012!

I really enjoyed the race.  I could have pushed harder, but this was really a test of how well my feet were going to hold up, and to get the voodoo thoughts out of my head (the last 1/2 I ran ended in tendonitis and the end of running for a LONG TIME).


Monday, September 12, 2011

Paleo "Spaghetti"

Earlier this year I read about Psuedo Paleo "Spaghetti" on Nell Stephenson's blog.  As a lover of zucchini and an owner of a mandolin, this has been a favorite go-to side dish for several months, simply prepared as in her post.

I told some visiting family that we were having "zucchini spaghetti" for dinner last night with our grilled beef filet and purple sweet potatoes and left it at that.  I had fully intended on making the plain version, but decided something a little more special was in order for company so I made this:

Here's the recipe:

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 Tsp red chili flakes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 medium zucchini, julienned in long strips (I used one green and one yellow)
Freshly ground black pepper

Warm olive oil in large skillet.  Saute onion and bell pepper until soft.  Add garlic and chili flakes and cook for 2 minutes.  Add cherry tomatoes and cook for approximately 5 minutes, until tomatoes are soft.  Add zucchini and cook until "al dente" - don't cook too long or it will get soggy.  Serve hot.  Finish with fresh cracked pepper.  Makes approximately 6 servings.

FYI, the measurements are approximate - you can add more or less to taste.

It came out so pretty, here's the serving pic:

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Missing Pictures and Random Thoughts

While running the Sugarcane 10K last Saturday, I wished my iPhone had been more convenient to grab for a couple of pictures.
  1. The incredible views - Haleakala to my left, the West Maui Mountains to my right, sugarcane tall and blowing in the light breeze.  This is my favorite time of the year - September and October - when our temps are cooler and the skies are absolutely clear and beautiful.
  2. The cherry tomato plant growing on one of the bridges - anchored in a crack between the wall and the pavement, HUGE, with about 10 ripe cherry tomatoes waiting to be picked.  Too bad I wasn't hungry.  And really, I can't say I've ever thought "Ooh, I could sure go for a cherry tomato right now," while on a run.
  3. Me, in my new purple Athleta running skirt.  I never thought it would be so much fun to get dressed up for a race.  It was kind of like the first day of school when all my clothes were new.  Silly, I know, but it still felt good!
I wore my new Nathan Elite 1 water carrier again for this race.  Seems silly for a 10K, but I really like having my HEED handy whenever I want it, and it's good practice for the upcoming 1/2 marathon.  Unfortunately, the pocket is not large enough for my iPhone, so I wrapped it in a bandana and stuck it in the gel flask holder.  That worked well for transport purposes, but not for access purposes - hence my inability to take photos during the race.  I may have to come up with something else.

I could have stopped, but I was trying too hard to maintain my pace.  Plus I didn't want to look silly.  It was a race after all!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Training, Sugarcane 10K, Etc.

The Maui 1/2 Marathon is in two weeks.  My longest long run to date is 10 miles.  I know I can do the distance and I'm not worried, but I'm not as happy with my progress as I thought I would be at this point.

This year marks the 10 anniversary of the last 1/2 marathon I did.  I have not run more than a 10K since then (and there were many years in between of NO exercise at all).  Since I plan to enter the Honu 1/2 Ironman next June, I thought it would be a good time to concentrate on running.

I was a runner before I was a triathlete.  While training for triathlons the last two years, I focused more on cycling and swimming, especially swimming, and really took running for granted.  If I was going to miss a training session, running would be the first to go.   I knew running would always be there, patiently waiting in the background like an understudy waits in the wings.  

Now that I've been focused more on running, I realize what a mistake that was and plan to keep an eye on my run training through the fall and definitely when I start to train for Honu.  I need to run a LOT MORE and want to really be comfortable running 15-20 mile distances.  Perhaps even a January marathon.  We'll see.

I ran the inaugural Sugarcane 10K yesterday.  Early start (7:00 a.m.), along the Mokulele bike path, a slight uphill at the start, then a gradual downhill most of the way to the finish.  There were about 50 runners and, surprisingly, no one under the age of 20!  I hoped to run sub-10-minute miles, and the Garmin reported an average pace of about 9:30, so I was pleased.  

From about mile 2-4, another woman was running at my right shoulder and just behind me, pacing me.  It was good in some ways...I pushed closer to nine minute miles during that time because the competitor in me did not want her to pass (and by her labored breath I could tell she was working hard), but I slowed down after a bit because I realized I was not running my own race, and I really needed to stick closer to 9:45-10:00 in accordance with my training schedule.  It made me realize that a sub-9-minute pace is possible for me, but at some point in the future.  I just can't sustain that over longer distances right now, but I have hope!

I also realized that, despite the push, I do not like people pacing or drafting me in a race.  It's distracting and takes my concentration away from MY race.  My husband says it's because I have personal space issues, which is true.  If you stay 6+ feet away from me, I'm fine, but get inside that 3' bubble and it makes me nuts (but that's a whole other story).

The feet are cooperating and I feel good.  Still have a little twinge in my right hip, but yoga is helping, and I plan to go to the chiropractor on Wednesday to see if that will help a little bit more.

Hope you had a race or fun event this Labor Day weekend!