Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas on Kaua'i

I've been enjoying the post-marathon recovery time before we/I start to get going with IMCdA training.  Dave and I were fortunate enough to be able to hop on over to another island for Christmas. Since we've been in Hawaii for the past three years, we have always talked about vacationing to Kauai so we could hike and see the beautiful Na Pail Coast. Well, we finally got the opportunity and we were off to Kauai! We spent the long weekend hiking, exploring and seeing all that Kauai has to offer. I'm sure we missed a bunch of important things, but the weekend was jam packed with super fun activities. 

We arrived on Christmas eve morning and had a helicopter tour of the island scheduled. I know we were both pumped for this. I had never been on a helicopter before and was excited to get a birds eye view of the island so we could plan the rest of our trip. The flight started off calm enough and then our pilot asked if we wanted to take the bumpy route (more scenic) or the smooth route.  Well, Dave and the other couple on the helicopter voted for the more scenic route, read more bumpy and likely that Lectie gets sick route, so who was I to say no and "ruin" everyone's experience. I can tough it out for an hour, it won't be that bumpy.  That probably wasn't the best idea I've ever had. The helicopter tour was amazing for the first 35 minutes. The most gorgeous views and scenery I've probably ever seen. It was a bit bumpy (the helicopter would drop 10-15 feet at a time and I might have felt like we were going to fall out of the sky) as we were flying through clouds and a little rain and after about 30-40 minutes of that my body did not agree with what I was doing. Now, a helicopter isn't like a plane, obviously, you can't just get up and walk to the bathroom and splash some water on your face to make yourself feel better, you are trapped! I was still taking in the scenery and enjoying that part of the trip, but I was also seriously trying to keep myself from being sick (which didn't happen) and ruining the tour for everyone else involved. After my little episode, i felt much better and was able to enjoy, again, the last 10 minutes or so of the ride.

After the ride, we were gonna camp it for the night, wake up early on Christmas and start our hike. Before that we did a little exploring and found some pretty cool caves.

The plan was to do the 11 mile hike, camp at the end and hike back out the next day. We started early enough, the views and the trail were amazing; it was super, super muddy and slippery, probably a good idea that we decided to wear our five fingers because of all the river crossings there were. We made it to the first beach, took a little break, had a snack and then continued on our way. 

We went about a mile further than the first beach and the hike started to go up...and up...and up...and up....and it just kept going. We were climbing which wasn't physically intense, but I'm not so good with heights and we were right on the edge of the mountain/cliff and the ocean was directly on our left with no protection. I was getting a little uneasy and I think at that point Dave and I psyched ourselves out and decided to turn around and hike to the waterfall. (In retrospect we should have just kept going, we would have been fine and we were just being babies, oh well, next time). 

 We hiked the mile back and then hiked another 2.5 miles in to the waterfall, great decision, the waterfall was awesome. We had a great time! After the waterfall we decided to hike back out (at the end of the day we totaled closed to 11 miles of hiking for the day, not to shabby) and find somewhere to stay for the night. We got a place at the cute little Inn in Hanalei.

Got up the next morning, had some Cinnamon Buns from Java Kai in Hanalei, did a little more sightseeing and stayed at a hotel in Leihue the next evening.
Sunset from our hotel room
 Drove out to Waimea and saw Waimea Canyon, it's supposed to be the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Well worth the hour + drive to get there. I've never been to the Grand Canyon, but if it's anything like this, I sure want to check it out! While we were driving up to the Canyon, approximately 3400ft above sea level, we saw this crazy dude riding his bike up there! If you want practice climbing, this is the place to go for sure! It looked fun in a miserable sort of way.

 After the Canyon, we wanted to go find the "tree tunnel."  We saw it from the helicopter and thought it would be pretty cool to drive through. Apparently it used to be a 3-mile long road lined with trees that forms a tunnel.  It's only a mile now and it is pretty cool. It would be a nice place to run 1-mile repeats (if there was a better shoulder), ha.

  Then, we headed to the airport for our flight back to Oahu and back to reality...

Hope everyone had a great Christmas

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Down Time

It's been just over a week since the marathon and I've been using that time to recover. It's been....interesting. To quote Michelle, "Marathon recovery takes a while... especially if you had to dig super deep (which in the last 6 miles I sure did)! Be patient and go easy for a while and you'll be back to being springy in another week or two. Push workouts that are too hard too early and you might feel fine for a day or two but then those efforts come back to bite you in the ass like a week later."

Recovery and down time are tricky things for me. I know it's a necessary part of training, it's the time your body needs to rebuild and rejuveniate after all the stress we've put on it for such a long period of time, but actually doing that proves difficult sometimes. While in the middle of long, hard training blocks, I look forward to this period of time when I can do what I want, when I want. A time in which I don't need to be so rigid or hard on myself if I miss a workout or just don't feel like doing it at that particular time. But when it comes down to it, do I dare say it, I really do love training and racing. It's sometimes hard to balance recovery and hard training, but it's something everyone needs to learn how to do in order to maxamize their training and get the results we all work so hard for.

I'm definitely not ready for the hard workouts to start just quite yet, I mean it's only been a week, but I do miss the consistency. A week or so more of some low key workouts and down time and I'll be ready to get back into it and start preparing for CdA!

Something fun that happened on Sunday since I didn't have to go on a 3 hour run or 3+ hour bike ride....Dave and I had a day of non swimbikerun fun. One of our friends brought us to Dim Sum (small bite-sized or individual portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Dim sum is also well known for the unique way it is served in some restaurants, wherein fully cooked and ready-to-serve dim sum dishes are carted around the restaurant for customers to choose their orders while seated at their tables), something we've talked about doing for a really long time, but never had the time/never made the time because of workouts and such. And it was delicious and wicked inexpensive, I think the three of us ate (a ton) for less than $30! I'll definitely be back.

After Dim Sum we decided to go try Bubble Drinks. I've heard about these bubble drinks ever since we've been in Hawaii, but have never tried them. Well, I don't know if it's a good or a bad thing that I haven't tried them before because it was mmmm mmmmm good. If you don't know what a bubble drink is or you've never had it....try it! Bubble drinks are usually a cool, refreshing sweet drink with tapioca pearls sitting on the bottom of a clear cup.  If you are a texture person, you might not enjoy this drink, but I'm a fan.  I've heard there are good places to go to enjoy these drinks and there are no so good locations, I can't remember what the place we went to was called, but it was in China town.

After that excursion we did a little Christmas shopping and headed home, it was a great day and some wonderful down time. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Honolulu Marathon 2011

Pretty much sums up how I was feeling the last 5 miles

This might be a little lengthy....

First and foremost…I did it! I wanted to BQ and PR and at the end of the day, well morning, that’s what happened. Maybe I didn’t get there exactly as planned, but I got there. One of these days, I promise I will be able to stick to the plan throughout the entire race.

 “Nobody said it was going to be easy, they just promised it would be worth it”
Definitely a marathon/long distance racing quote, at least in my mind.

Dave and I decided to get a hotel room for Saturday night to avoid having to wake up at 1am, eat, get ready, drive the 30 minutes into town, find parking and huff it to the race start.  I thought this would alleviate some stress….we ended up getting caught in traffic for 90 minutes on our way to the hotel, great, just what I wanted to be doing, sitting in a car instead of laying in bed resting.  We decided to take a break and get out of the traffic for a while, so we grabbed an early dinner and then headed over to the hotel. We got upgraded, no big deal….

Checked in, went to the shoppette to get a few more supplies because what I already had packed just didn’t seem like it was enough.  It had been pouring ALL day on Saturday and the weather forecast called for rain all day Sunday, so we bought some ponchos. My plan was to wear the poncho to the start so I could stay dry for as long as possible and then as soon as the race started ditch it and deal with the rain. (at least it wouldn’t be hot if it was raining right?). Anyways, supplies purchased, up to the hotel room, bags unpacked and laid out for the morning so I wouldn’t have to think about anything, compression socks on and feet up.  The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and doing some last minute mental prep (maybe some words with friends thrown in there as well, because honestly, who can fall asleep at 8pm).

2:45am came quickly. Got up, looked outside (not raining yet, excellent), ate my breakfast (banana, Luna bar, dry cheerios (I tried to eat them with peanut butter, but I can’t stomach peanut butter, I know I’m weird, but I just don’t like it) and some EFS) and got my race gear on and ready to go.  By the time 4am rolled around Dave and I were out the door and on our way to the start. We planned on meeting our friends, right at the race start, but apparently it takes a bit longer to walk to the start than anticipated, whoops. We got there, used the restroom, saw a couple of friends, the fireworks started and we were off (the start this year was much more anticlimactic than it was last year, partly because we didn’t have much time to sit around and wait)!

Dave and I found Aaron right away, awesome, great start. Kissed Dave bye and Good Luck and then we took off (After the race Dave informed me that we really did just take off, sorry, but you gotta do what you gotta do). I don’t really have anything significant to report for the first 12 miles (although, right at the beginning of the race, the course takes you through downtown Honolulu and you run past the Honolulu City Lights, which is Oahu’s Christmas light display, it’s super cool to see and since it’s still o’dark thirty, it’s fun for the 2 minutes you are running past). These first miles absolutely flew by, as I knew they would and I wanted to make sure I was controlling my effort and keeping it super easy because a marathon is a LONG way to go and I didn't want to get ahead of myself too early. I was pretty consistent: Average  7:57/mi. Perfect right on track, just as planned. Feeling great, staying positive, the miles are flying by at this point.

By this point the race has turned on to a 4-mile stretch on Kalanianaole Highway and we hit a wall of 20-30mph winds (no joke, seriously they were that strong!). I did the best I could at ducking behind people, but it’s hard when most of the people that are running around you are tiny. I saw Joy and she blocked the wind for me for a few miles. Thanks, that was great! Then it was a little Hawaii Kai loop, it definitely seemed much shorter this year than last year, which is a good thing. At the end of the loop I saw Michelle which was super helpful as well. She was wearing a “be relentlessly positive” shirt and that’s exactly what I needed to see at that point in time. She and her shirt are what got be back down Kalanianaole to the gas station. Pace update: Mile 13-21: Average: 7:44/mi (maybe a bit fast, but the plan was to work in 10ks and increase the effort as the race progresses, in retrospect I probably dropped the pace a little too quickly, lesson learned) And this is where it gets interesting….

I made it to 21 and started feeling it, by the time mile 22 and the gas station came, you could taste the finish line, but there was still A LOT of work to be done (mainly climbing back up DiamondHead…yippee!). Some lady that had been running near me for the past few miles had a friend/family member/spectator hand her a coke at the gas station and I seriously almost asked her for a sip of it, coke would have been awesome at this point in time. Note to self: next time you do a marathon, bring a little water bottle of coke so you can have it at the end when you need to dig deep, it’ll be just want you want/need to give you that extra push that’s totally necessary at this point in the race. I digressed.

From the gas station there’s about a mile in Kahala (torture) before you start the climb (even worse), at this point I had yet to stop, I was running through all the aid stations wanting to get as far as possible before I walked an aid station (maybe that was part of the problem, probably not though??). I get to the base of the climb, with a wicked cramp (it might have started at the gas station and I tried to ignore it and concentrate on my breathing and form hoping that would help, no dice). At the base of the climb, I spotted a point in the road ahead and told myself to run to that point then I could take a 20 second walk break, well I made it there and then saw the sign for water up ahead, now just get to the sign and the aid station will be there and you can walk the entire aid station. When you get to this point in the marathon you, well at least I have to start playing tricks on myself to keep the feet moving.

This is where it gets bad, once I started walking, I didn’t want to run again and the cramp just kept getting worse and worse. I kept getting passed by more and more people. It’s not fun. I’m not quite sure how, but eventually I made it to the top of DiamondHead and mile 25, I did not stay “relentlessly positive” (that’s something I’m going to need to work on for sure), I wasn’t in a good mental place, at this point, all I could think about was coke, wanting to walk, coke, why people do marathons anyways, they are not fun, coke and really just wanting to be done. I’m not sure how I willed myself to make it to the top given the mental state I was in, but I did.

At this point, my quads were on fire, I had one mile to go and I just wanted to finish. I wasn’t about to walk down DiamondHead so I started running. Maybe I can make up a bit of time I lost run/walking up the mountain. Once I got to the bottom of DiamondHead there was less than a mile to go and it was close to being the longest 1200 meters I’ve ever run. I finally made it to the home stretch, the last turn into Kapiolani Park; I hadn’t looked at my watch in a while because it was just discouraging. I saw that I had a little less than 5 minutes to make it to the finish which was less than a ½ mile away. I can run 800 meters in 5 minutes, I know I can, I’ve done it a million times (well maybe not a million, not even close, but enough times to know I can do it). That last stretch of road was miserable, long and painful. I could see the clock and the finish and I knew I could and would do it. All the training and time I’d put in, I wasn’t about to give up, “Nobody said it was going to be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.” I crossed the finish line in 3:34:07. A PR by 11 minutes and BQ!

That was my second marathon and I thought the second one would be easier than the first, but I should have known better. I had no expectations last year, it was my first marathon and I just wanted to finish happy. This year I had more to think about and more I wanted to accomplish, I think I did a pretty good job, but I also don’t think I will ever be 100% satisfied with any performance.  Even when you have the “perfect” race/game/performance there is always something that you can work on to make yourself that much better and that’s what I like about sports and that's what keeps us pushing to make ourselves better.

Dave also finished! He completed his first marathon!! So proud!

Thanks for everyone that was out there cheering all day, running with friends for a while, handing off snacks and drinks and helping get everyone to the finish line. It really was a great day and I’m super happy with how it turned out. I can finally walk like a semi-normal person (I might even attempt a short run tonight), but that’s a marathon for you and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Marathon Prep

Everything I might  need tomorrow all packed up and ready to go.
Yes, it's a mess and it's driving me nuts, it will be cleaned up and organized VERY soon.
5:00am tomorrow.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Race Week

I can't believe it's Friday of race week already! Only two more sleeps until the marathon. :-)  It seems like yesterday, it was August and the Marathon Readiness Races were just beginning.

Last week was a typical taper week: antsy, agitated, starving, grumpy, tired, sore, etc. Nothing I did felt good, but that's typical, at least for me, if I didn't feel that way I would be worried.  So, when this week rolled around I was hoping I would feel a little better than last week and I did/do to an extent, it's getting better by the day and that's good because the race is getting closer by the day! Today is a rest day and I think it will be just the trick to get me totally ready for Sunday morning at 5am!

Monday night was the Readiness Dinner they have every year after the series (5 races, 111k) is complete. It was a nice distraction from the restlessness I was experiencing. Check it out Rachel was 1st female overall! Great fast running lady, I sense a sub-3 marathon for you! Kim was 4th overall, can't wait to see what Sunday has in store for you! And I ended up 2nd overall. 

Wednesday was the obligatory 4x400m sprints, race week speed workout. It went famously!  Was super happy with where I was at and getting pumped for the race on Sunday.

Thursday night massages, also a standard race week activity. Much needed. Who ever complains about a massage anyways? Not this girl!

Rest Day Friday

Saturday, packet pick up and last minute race prep

5am Sunday Morning....GO TIME!

As my college swim coach used to say, "The hay is in the barn!" Let's do this!

I'm so ready for this race, I've done a lot more preparation this year than I did for the marathon last year (I had a much stronger training base going into marathon prep this time around which I'm pretty sure helped some) and can't wait to see what happens on Sunday. I've got my race plan all set and ready to go, picking up my packet tomorrow, then it's game time!

Marathon #2, here I come...