Friday, May 11, 2012

Na Holo Wahine 5K Race Report

                The Na Holo Wahine is one of the only 5Ks I regularly run, since I generally prefer 10K and ½ marathon distances for a stand-alone race.  I never ran track in school, outside of mandatory PE, and my recollections of running the 100-yard dash are vague.  Let’s just say I’m an endurance junkie, in it for the long haul, and sprinting (aka speed) has never really been my thing.  Until recently.
                When I began running in my 30’s, I never incorporated speedwork into any of my training.  I didn’t know anyone else who ran, did all of my training by myself, and learned what I could from reading Runner’s World and Hal Higdon’s Marathon Training Guide.  They all recommended speedwork and track sessions, but the track intimidated me and I felt like the workout descriptions were written in Greek.  Besides, like many new runners, I figured I didn’t need to work on speed since I was in it to enjoy running and finish each distance on my feet…not win.  I had simple time goals – mostly wanting to finish with what I thought was a “respectable time.”  I didn’t want to be a 10-hour marathoner.
                Fast forward 10 years and that mindset was OK until I start racing, and reading the results, and comparing my rank to those in my age group.  The more I trained, the faster I got (albeit slowly) and I was inching closer to the FOP (front-of-pack) runners.  Suddenly, it wasn’t enough to just “finish respectably.”  I wanted to WIN!
         I still hadn’t actually incorporated any track workouts or serious speedwork into my training outside of the occasional interval session.  I just followed the mantra of one regular BT forum poster who advocates “run lots...mostly slow…sometimes fast."  Well, it's paying off!

        Race start wasn't until 8:00 a.m., so I didn't have to get up early.  I had half a smoothie and a cup of coffee for breakfast.  Didn't see any reason to pop a gel prior to the race, but did take along my new Nathan Quickshot to carry HEED with me on the course.  I also made a new playlist since I was going to run with music this race.

        I thought about riding my bike for about an hour prior to the race as a warm-up.  I've been doing a lot of bike/run bricks and my legs have been responding well, but I thought it might rain and that was an extra factor I just didn't want to deal with.  My plan was to do a little light running drills instead, but I ran into a friend of mine and we started chatting to catch up, then all of a sudden it was time to race!

        I fumbled with my iPhone trying to get it set up to play, but I have a very awkward carrier for it and can't access any of the settings once it started playing (note to self: get a new armband!).  No wonder I don't usually run with music!

        I moved up to the front of the pack to avoid the bobbing and weaving - I wanted a quick start - and we were off!  The first stretch of the race is a gradual downhill for about a 1/2 mile, so it was easy to stretch out and get ahead.  I just kept my eye on the leaders and tried not to get too far behind.  I planned to open up and run this race as fast as I could sustain.  At about the 1/2 way point on an up-hill stretch I realized how freakin' hard it is to run a 5K!  My exact thought was, "I am NO SPRINTER. No wonder I am an endurance runner!"  But I kept at it.  I never really lost sight of the leaders and only one woman passed me the entire race.  Toward the end I heard footsteps closing in behind me, but that just spurred me on to the finish.  I was determined not to be caught.

        My first surprise was at the finish line - the top 15-20 (I'm not sure the exact number) got ti leaf leis - at #13 I was thrilled.  Something so simple yet so meaningful - I've never been in the front before.  I already felt like a winner.  Then they started announcing the age group winners and I came in 3rd in the 40-44 AG!!  WHOO HOO!!  It was my first ever podium finish!!

        I was in good company, too.  Several of the women who are part of a triathlon training group I just joined also placed in their respective divisions.  We are all racing in the upcoming South Maui Triathlon in June and I hope we can create the same picture in the winners circle there as well.  It was a great day - beautiful weather, new friends, and great finishes.  I can't wait until next year!

        I looked at my results for the past four races:
  • 2008:  35:28  53/83 overall
  • 2010:  31:21  35/76 overall
  • 2011:  29:23  35/104 overall
  • 2012:  26:07  13/72 overal, 3rd place 40-44 (AG results not available)
I'm going to shoot for sub-25 my next 5K or next year, whichever comes first!