Thursday, September 19, 2013

New Favorite Run

I've done this run a handful of times in the past, but now since I live less than 5 miles away, I think it's going to become a go-to weekday, after-work kind of run.  It's hilly, there's no traffic, it's peaceful, it's hilly, it's beautiful and it's the botanical gardens. Who wouldn't want to run when you can run in a place like this!? It's gorgeous!

It's the "off-season" now, at least for swimbikerun-ing. Living in Hawaii it's hard to find an off-season since it's nice year round and unless you set an off-season for yourself, I think you run the risk (unless you are careful, have knowledge about what you are doing and why, have a coach, etc) of training hard year round and running yourself into the ground, digging yourself into a hole and having a tough time getting out, just my own thoughts. So now, for me, it's time to build strength, rest and get ready for the marathon...nice off-season right!? I think so. 

Anyways, back to my new favorite run. I think I might have blogged about it before, but I can't find it and it's not worth looking since I know Michelle has. She's got some pictures in her post, but actually being there and running that road is what makes it such an incredible run. I have yet to make it down/up, not really sure, to this little lake that is tucked back in the gardens somewhere, but I will make it there soon! Doesn't just seeing these pictures make you want to get out there and going for a run!? I sure want to and I was just there last night.

If you ever find yourself on Oahu and want a nice place to run, off the roads, away from the congestion that is Waikiki, I highly recommend checking out Ho'omaulhia Botanical Gardens on the Windward Side.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hana Relay

I've been in Hawaii for almost 5 years and have heard about this little race that happens over on Maui in September...the Hana Relay. I've always been intrigued, but never actually thought about putting a team together to do the race. It's kind of similar to the Ragnar Relay series that happens on the mainland, but it's not an overnight relay and it's on Maui.
The relay is a 52-mile journey you get to complete with 5 of your friends (even if you haven't met some of them before race morning). The route takes you along Hana Highway, with designated exchange points, from the airport to Hana Park at the end of the road. Along this route we went over 56 bridges and around 617 curves!
Just pulled this from the internet
to give a little more perspective

A few months ago Rachel sent me a message asking me if I wanted to be part of her team for Hana Realy. My first thoughts were, Me? Are you sure you're asking the right person? You can change your mind in case you sent this message to the wrong person by accident, I won't be offended at all. She assured me that in fact, she did mean to ask me to join Chuck's Chicks and I was beyond flattered. I would be joining an amazing group of talented, fast, supportive, strong ladies to complete this 52 mile journey.

I got up at the crack of dawn, well probably a little earlier than that to get to the airport and catch a 5am flight over to Maui. 4 of us were on that flight and Rachel and Ingrid were at the start at 5:30. I had no idea what our plan was, I was just along for the ride, you tell me to run and I'll run.

Rachel and Ingrid took care of the first three legs of the course (there were 18 total legs (everyone gets 3) ranging from 1.7ish to 3.4ish (that's what the course directions said, but I beg to leg was bordering on close to 4 miles....just sayin') and we met up with them on the road. Ingrid and Scott (Chuck) had everything all planned out, who was running when, all the hand-offs, drinks, snacks, etc., they took care of it all. All we had to do was run!

The course is a hilly one, even when the descriptions say flat, or rolling hills, expect hills, the entire way. Mariane told me before one of my legs, "It's not a hill, it only looks like a hill." If you keep telling yourself that while you're running, it kind of helps! :-)

I was informed that I was going to be the "lucky" one that gets to run leg 13...apparently you don't want to be the one that has to run that leg, the description reads, "2.1 miles uphill. A tough leg. Put the guy/gal you don't like on this leg." Since Ingrid was in charge of everything, I'd never run Hana and we'd never met before Saturday, I was slated to complete that portion of the course. However, lucky for me,Mariane was running out of her mind and a last minute decision put her on that leg instead. An excellent decision in my professional opinion.

being first team on the road has it's benefits.
Fresh Coconuts!

By the time we were at hand-off #5 we were basically running the course all by ourselves. Rachel and Ingrid had opened up a gap on the rest of the teams from the start and we were in one of the first waves (maybe the 1st). At each hand-off we saw the van for a high-school cross country team that was about 7 minutes back from us almost the entire race, they started 15 minutes behind us so really they were beating us, but we wanted to be the first team to officially cross the finish line at Hana Park so our goal was to run fast and stay ahead of those boys. Well around hand-off 16 or 17, I think, Todd's team caught up to us and made the pass (they started 30 minutes behind us) and just like those high school boys, we wanted to stay ahead of them so we could cross the finish line first. We were passed, but that didn't ruin our spirits. We still had some fast ladies ahead and could possibly catch up to them again to cross first. The last leg was 1.9 miles I think and we had Katherine running that leg, Rachel said she's a ringer and if she saw the guy in front of her on the road she would do everything in her power to catch and pass him. If you are ever in a race with her and it comes down to the finish, she's going to win, she's fit, fast and mentally tough, she has an exceptionally strong mind and body and won't back down! Well when she saw the guy in front of her, she must have kicked it into high gear (as though she wasn't already there!) and made the pass. We were waiting for her right before the finish and when we saw her round the corner after having made the pass, with one final steep uphill, we knew we were going to be able to run it in to the finish together, as a team, crossing the line 1st!

We ended up being the 2nd women's team by less than a minute and 6th team overall when all was said and done! Averaging 6:33 pace for 52-miles...not too shabby!

Thanks so much for letting me join in on this journey surrounded by a great group of ladies and an amazing support team! Thanks JACO rehab, Scott (Chucks Steakhouse) and lululemon for sponsoring us on this ride....hopefully we will be back next year for redemption!

Friday, September 13, 2013

What happens in Vegas...

I guess I could have been a little more creative when coming up with a post title, but this just seems so fitting...What happens in Vegas never really stays in Vegas anyways so here goes...

The three days leading up to the race were stiflingly (is that a word?) hot! They were every bit as hot as I expected it to be and maybe just a little bit more. I did everything I could to stay hydrated and off my feet. Typical race week assembly, shake out runs, rides and swims, bike check-in, bag check-in, athlete meeting, you know the drill.

Success #1 of the trip was getting my bike assembled and put together all by myself! There's a first time for everything and what a way to start with my first solo bike assembly than at a pretty big race. It was successful and I was pretty proud of myself!

Anyways race morning we wake up and it's least it won't be hot!

We managed to get to the Westin and find parking relatively easily, I got transition set up and then it was time to take cover so we didn't continue to get soaked all morning waiting for my start (~1:40 back of the first age groupers...we all know how I feel about wave starts, but I'll get to that soon).

After watching wave, after wave, after wave, after wave, after wave start the race (I was wave 15!!!!) it was finally my turn. I went down to the corral about 10 minutes before my start and embraced the rain (thank goodness for no lightning, which would have canceled the swim and been a HUGE bummer). We got in the water and swam out to the start, there are always aggressive people in the swim and this was no different, at least before the cannon (horn) went off. There were girls pushing and pulling and kicking and just yelling at each other. No one would give anyone any room. I tried to tell everyone to "swim with Aloha"
doesn't that water look nice!
cause that's what Aaron does and it usually works, but these girls would have none of that. Finally the cannon went off and I took off. I had clear water within 10 seconds...wooo00hooooo! That's always nice. The swim was a typical rectangle, clockwise swim and by the time I hit the third buoy I was catching the stragglers in the group that started 4 minutes ahead of us, at the 4th buoy it began to be chaos and I was swimming in, out and around people just making my way through the swim. Lake swimming has been pretty good to me this year, although the water wasn't crystal clear, beautiful ocean water, the water was still fast. I think I ended up 2nd amateur women out of the water (by 2 seconds!) and 12th woman overall. The run out of the water and into transition was quite long, up and downhill and muddy, muddy, muddy and slippery. I had no idea my swim time because I forgot to start my watch, whoops. But I felt super confident and happy with how my swim went and was able to start the bike happy! 1 down 2 to go!

Side note on the wave starts...I usually HATE wave starts, but the last two races I've done, Lake Stevens and Vegas both had multiple wave, wave starts and they were both super successful and less aggressive/crowded/chaotic than a strictly pro wave, men wave and women wave. I'm still not sold on wave starts, but splitting the waves and having many different waves seems like a pretty good way to do least it worked well for theses races...and it's just my opinion anyways so it doesn't really matter at all.

Onto the bike... The rainy, wet, scary bike...Maybe next year I'll be better and more confident since we moved to the rainy part of the island and I foresee more rainy rides in my near future. Anyways, I was really looking forward to this ride, it was hilly, it was supposed to be hot and it was supposed to be windy, perfect conditions for someone used to riding in those conditions. We got the hills and we got the rain and slick roads, but missed out on the hot and windy.
The ride was pretty uneventful, I didn't really get to see the beautiful scenery in the national park, I was focused on the rain pelting me in the face (think little needles stabbing you for 2+ hours every time you go downhill), trying to see with the rain in my face (I chose to not wear glasses on the bike, which I'm not sure was the best choice, but had I had glasses on, I wouldn't have been able to see anyways because of the fogginess factor and the rain..not sure if I made the right choice or not? hard to say), not crashing when crazies were passing me at 40+mph going downhill on super wet, twisty roads and just trying to go as fast as I could. 4 girls and myself were flip-flopping back and forth almost the entire ride, I would pass them all on the uphills and they would blow by me on the descents...I seriously need to learn how to ride my bike downhill! The ride went by fast, I never really got grumpy, which is a step in the right direction for me, I think I'm getting close to understanding what and when my body needs to take in calories. The last 17 miles of the bike were basically all downhill with a few rollers, this is when it kind of stopped raining and I could really put in some not scared efforts and get back to transition and start running!

Side note...the race directors, or whomever is in charge of setting the course, had some sick idea that putting a hill in the last 2 miles of the bike to get back into transition was a good idea....thanks!

Onto the run..three loops....I wasn't sure how I felt about a three loop run course. On one hand, it was three loops, you could break the run into manageable sections and one loop wasn't much longer than 4 miles and how many times have I run 4 miles...plenty. On the other hand it was three loops, you get to see the good,
the bad and the ugly each loop, as well as other people, AND every time you passed the finishers shoot you could hear people's names being announced that they were done and you had to keep going (downside of starting ~1:40 back from the first group of age-groupers)....and repeat it two more times!

Each loop of the run has two, long gradual, one-mile hills, nothing steep, nothing daunting, just loooong and gradual. As well as some looooong gradual downhills. There was no finding a rhythm on this run course, up and down and up and down, repeat 3x. The first loop of the run went by in a flash, before I knew it I only had two more loops to go, I remember thinking these hills aren't that bad, just long and gradual, nothing I can't do 2 more times and be happy about. Start loop 2...these hills are getting a little more challenging, but it wasn't hot out, I was eating and drinking and icing and feeling pretty darn good. The start of the third loop (and the second loop) is all downhill for close to 2 miles (pounding on the!), when I made that turn to go back uphill (with only 2 more uphills and a downhill to the finish to go) I felt it, I wanted nothing to do with running up that hill, but kept one foot in front of the other and kept running at a pretty consistent pace. I didn't slow down too awful much, but ANOTHER hill 10.5 miles in was tough. I knew all I had to do was get to the top of the next hill and then it was all downhill into the finish. Finally I made it to the top, made the turn to head home and got a major side
stitch, I knew I had less than a mile to go and it was all downhill, but I slowed for maybe 45 seconds (what was I thinking?!), had a mini pity party for myself (seriously Lectie, you have less than 1/2 a mile to go, this is the 70.3 World Champs and it's ALL downhill, are you crazy...GO don't slow down!!) and then I pulled myself together and took off. I rounded the corner into the finisher shoot and was flying.  I don't think I've ever had a more exciting finishers shoot, not emotional, or sappy, just exciting. I ended up crossing the finish line (we tied, after 70.3 miles, and 5:04.34, we tied) with a friend who used to live here and now lives in Colorado.

All-in-all I'm super happy with how the race went, obviously I wish I would have/could have done some things differently and made for a faster stronger day. But that's racing, I don't think anyone ever has a 100% perfect race, there's always room for improvement. I learned A LOT from this race, I think I've been learning a lot racing this year in general and I won't bore you all with all of those details, but I'm super excited to start to put all those new lessons to good use and be able to see what will happen next year and in the future. There's still plenty of racing to be done, adventures to be had and life to enjoy!

Thanks for everyone who supported me and stood by my side through these past few months of training and racing, you know who you are. I couldn't have done this on my own without the love and support of family, friends, coaches, etc.

Post Race Shenanigans:

The Spa at Lakeside 2.0