|Look how overjoyed I am! Look how Ryan...is not.|
Since we got back from Hilo, everyday (& the whole week before) has been filled with renovation work. Even though my father (who once again, has been asked to served as our unpaid superintendent/contractor/plumber/electrician/painter/carpet tacking installer/Lowe's & Home Depot gopher) has done 95% of the actual work, we've all been insanely busy. I don't know that I've mentioned it here before, but we recently bought a small condo. The hope is that it will one day give us the option of downsizing and selling our other house in about 15-20 years (the proceeds of which can be used to supplement our retirement and help shore up Ryan's college fund). It's a bit of a stretch for us financially, which has been more than a little nerve wracking. I've spent a few nights biting my fingernails, going through receipts and freaking out about our dwindling savings. It's no secret that we had to pay through the nose on two other properties we sold over the last 3 years...but I don't want to cower in fear forever, so we're tentatively dipping our toes back into the market. Ultimately, we still think real estate is a relatively safe, rewarding investment (when done with advance planning/budgeting)...and lets face it- we have to be a little creative/gutsy with our estate planning since I'm no longer working F/T.
But enough about that...on to the race report!
The day before the race we drove out to Hilo to bunk at the glamorous and swanky hotel that is the Hilo Seaside (and yes, I am being sarcastic...but if you bully your two senior aged parents into each registering for a room with their AARP discount, the rooms are only $80 a night incl tax). Though Ryan spent the night next door with my parents, I got about the same amount of sleep I did the night before the Hilo Marathon last March, that is to say- about 3.5 hours. And that was after downing three Benadryls to try and make myself sleepy (clearly someone needs some horse-pill sized Xanax).
Rich and I woke up around 4:30am so I had time to get dressed and stuff a banana & Luna bar down my throat (I gagged the whole time because it's so hard to eat that early & when you're sleep deprived). We met my friend Karen at the starting line and took off at 5:30am, since anyone who anticipated taking longer than 6 hours to complete the race was permitted to start earlier. Here's a summary of how the mileage went down:
Miles 1-3: My flashlight conks out before we've even run 1/2 a mile...which would have been disastrous since it's pitch black. Thankfully, Karen shares her head lamp with me and we run huddled together for the next hour (and yes, like you, I am pretty sure she orchestrated the whole thing in order to snuggle with me...I am tough to resist when wearing a traffic safety vest). We haven't started the elevation climb yet, but its cool and pleasant, so Karen and I get to chat with each other and another runner. It's all quite pleasant, as running with Karen eases my anxiety and it feels like an ordinary Sunday run.
Miles 4-10: Once the sun rises, I am able to shed the increasingly warm, slightly embarrassing (required) reflective vest. But from about mile 4 on, reality quickly sets in, and there is nothing but hills, hills, hills. Well, as a spectator pointed out, technically, it's just one hill. ;-) But the volcano is a massive, unrelenting hill that just doesn't seem to end. I nearly weep when we see our first green elevation sign, because I was positive we had climbed 1,000 feet, but it only reads '500 feet.' Which means we're only 1/8 of the way there in elevation...very, very depressing.
Miles 11-15: Karen and I have stopped chatting as we labor up the hill. Normally, fifteen miles pass by quickly when I run with Karen. But not today. I notice for the first time (in the history of my running), that my hamstrings are super duper tight, and at mile 13, I start to panic when I get a painful, jarring and shooting pain in my right hip (which went away within a half mile).
Mile 16: At the point (roughly halfway), I'd run about 16 miles and covered around 2,000 feet in elevation. Because I'd done a pretty good job of conserving my energy for the grueling second half, I actually felt pretty optimistic as I bid Karen a fond Aloha since its her turn to crew for her husband.
[Sidenote: Rich was AWESOME from the minute the race started. He met me every 2 miles (individual runners were permitted to have their support crew stop at every odd-numbered mileage marker), ready with refilled water bottles, gels and occasionally, my salt pills and sunscreen. Not a fun job for anyone, for sure!]
Miles 17-26: The next 2,000 feet were covered in over 9 miles, vs. covering the same amount of elevation in over 16 miles for the first half. So the hills looked and felt steeper. Thankfully, I was psychologically prepared for them, but around mile 20- I was really starting to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the never ending hills. Even though my head and heart were in the right place, my legs just felt so heavy and dead. Negativity started to creep in at that point, and I made my first negative comment to Rich about "not having any juice left" and possibly having to just walk the rest of it in. I even calculated a new estimated finish time (7 hours) based on my exhaustion level. Without a doubt, miles 20-26 were the worst for me.
Miles 26-30: The course finally flattens out, but my legs still didn't register the difference for a mile or so and it was soooo depressing to have to pass by the finish line and know that I still had 4-5 miles left to run. :'( But around mile 29, I unexpectedly caught a second wind (first time ever!) and felt strong enough to pick up my pace to the finish.
Mile 31: From a few hundred feet away, I could see my sad, tearful exhausted little boy in my father's arms (he had spent the whole morning at the Kaiser clinic from a high fever the night before). My family warned me that he might not want to run the last hundred feet with me as planned since he had just been woken up (and then thrown up), but when I offer to carry him in, he leans toward me and we finish together. :-) Yay. 31.1 miles. 6 hours and 37 minutes. Not a time to brag about, but I'm thrilled- I am officially an ultra-marathoner! :-)
Lessons learned over 31 miles?
- A little more training makes a big difference.
- I have serious pre-race sleeping issues.
- Cool weather running = less sweating/chafing = no screaming in the shower.
- Blood blisters are not sexy.
- The ostrich did not win. Take that you beady-eyed beast!
That's all the wisdom I can impart for now... ;-)
PS- Huge thanks to the Big Island Road Runners Club for putting on this awesome event for our little island!