I have been neglectful and I owe you guys a few race recaps from some March races I did. But since this one was MUCH more exciting and fun to write I did this race first even though it was the most recent :):)
I went to Hawaii last week and ran the Hapalua Half Marathon in Honolulu. I PRed (got my best time at that distance) by a minute and a half, beating my time from my first half marathon 6 months ago. My official time was 2:20:16. I was ecstatic!!!!
I also had pretty even splits, generally maintaining a pace in the low 10:30s-high 10:20s with the exception of 3 miles: the 2 times I took GU and used the bathroom, and an entire mile of uphill. Overall very happy with my race performance and…..it was in HAWAII so even if I bombed the race I would have still been happy, so win-win!
Warning: VERY long….. includes stuff from the 2 days before the race (both NRR and running related), a ton of race pics, and then a small summary of the rest of my week post-race in Hawaii, with pics. If you are interested, bear with me. If you only want the running stuff, scroll to the section that says “The Race.”
So, this race has been in the works for a long time. My brother moved in Honolulu in August of 2012 to go to graduate school at Hawaii Pacific University. Which is the same month I began training for my first 5K. The “running thing” stuck, and an idea began to form about going to visit my brother and running a race there. I kept my ears and eyes peeled for any awesome sounding races there, that also happened to correspond with one of my breaks from work (I work at a year round school, and we have 8 weeks off per year and are not allowed to take any significant chunks of time off that is not during those breaks. This summer, the stars aligned when I found out that The Hapalua in Honolulu, which is put on by the same people who do the Honolulu Marathon in the fall, would be held on April 13th, which happened to correspond to my spring break. I started planning for it, and my parents decided to make it a family trip. I registered for it in October, and the countdown began!
This was my third half marathon in the past 6 months, I ran my first October 12th, and second December 8th. As most of you know, training didn’t go as planned, because I woke up the morning after my second half marathon in December and couldn’t put any weight on my left foot without excruciating pain. The doctor put me in a soft cast and walking boot, assuming a stress fracture. I was not allowed to work for several days, and I was put on limited activity. Nothing other than essential walking, in the boot. After and X-Ray and MRI it was eventually revealed that there was no fracture, but instead a bone contusion on my talus bone with synovial fluid swelling, tendon inflammation, and ligament scarring in that area. I wore the boot for 5 weeks, no running for 6 weeks, and then added back mileage verrrry slowly according to doctor’s orders.
I had originally planned to follow a Running Wizard plan, but had to scrap it. I decided that I could handle the 12 week Hal Higdon Novice 1 Half Marathon plan. I knew it was a pretty bare bones plan, but it added mileage slowly, and that is what I needed. I adjusted my expectations for the race to be just crossing the finish line. I was nervous I wouldn’t even get to do that. The original plan I had dictated that I run 12-15 mile long runs every weekend, so I had registered for several half marathons to run during the winter as supported training runs, but I decided to DNS (“did not start”) every race I was registered for that was over 4 miles long, and just focus on staying healthy for Hawaii and getting across that finish line in one piece.
A further bump in the road came the last week of February when I came down with a stomach virus, recovered and then got it AGAIN (or a different one) the next week, and THEN as I was recovering from that I came down with a head cold and laryngitis. The whole ordeal lasted 3 weeks, and while I did get runs in here and there, my mileage was significantly reduced during those weeks.
My Half Marathon PR (personal record, best time at that distance) was set during my first HM, the Baltimore Half on October 12th, and it was 2:21:47. Originally I had hoped to PR in Hawaii, but throughout training for obvious reasons I adjusted my expectation to just finishing and enjoying myself. Although I wasn’t able to put in the kind of mileage and speed-work I had wanted to for the race, the running I did do felt really good. My speed and endurance came back fairly quickly after injury, and it seemed my fitness was pretty much what it was before injury. I debated between trying to PR in Hawaii or just running it at a very easy pace. It was a race day decision, but I decided to go for it. I wouldn’t do anything reckless, but I would run the strongest I was capable of and play it by ear.
The race was Sunday, April 13th. I had off work the next week after for my school’s Spring Break. I took a personal day on Friday, April 11th to fly to Honolulu with my parents, not wanting to spend the entire day before the race travelling. Met my parents at LaGuardia Airport early Friday morning for a 7:30am flight from NYC, connecting in Dallas/Ft. Worth, then on to Honolulu. It was a long day with a 4.5 hour flight to Dallas, a 2 hour layover, and then an 8.5 hour flight from Dallas to Honolulu. We arrived in Honolulu around 4:00pm Hawaii time, which is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Rented a car, checked into our hotel, the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, and then after my brother finished his Friday evening class he came to our hotel and met us for dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Off to Hawaii!
Saturday morning April 12th my race sponsored a special event. Before I go into it though, a little background. The Hapalua does something involving elite runners that is very different than any other race I have heard of before. They do something called “The Chase”. They get together the fastest runners in Hawaii to make up Team Hawaii. Members of the Team get a head start on the Kenyan professional runners. Each Team Hawaii member starts at a different time based on their PRs, ranging from a 21 minute jump on the Kenyan men to a 4:30 minute start on the Kenyan men. Then the Kenyan woman starts, Isabella Ochichi, then the Kenyan men, Patrick Makau (58:52 PR, 8 sub-60 HMs to his credit), and Peter Kirui (won the 2012 NYC Half with his PR time of 59:39 and holds the 30K World Record). The first person to cross the finish line (not the fastest chip time) gets the prize money! (Explanation of “The Chase” here, with more details about the Team Hawaii and Kenyan runners: http://thehapalua.com/2014-chase-runners/).
Anyway….. Saturday morning at 8:00am my race sponsored a Meet and Greet in Kapiolani Park with the 3 Kenyan runners, and a “slow, easy paced” social run with them. I attended excitedly with my dad, who took pictures. Listened to them answer some questions, then we were off running! They started at about a 10:00 minute mile pace but quickly got down into the high 8s, which is faster than my 5K PR. I felt like it was a bad idea to try and keep pace like that the day before my half, so I let the pack go after hanging with them for about a mile, and fell to my easy pace to complete the first lap of the park, and then hung out with a group of other slower runners who had also let the pack go, and waited for them to loop around again and take pictures after. They ran the second loop at 7:00 minute miles, and a handful of people held on the whole time. My dad urged me to jump back in at the very end so he could get a picture of me running next to the Kenyans, and I did, hahaha. I swear I was running with them the whole time (*whistles and looks around casually*…lol)! Here is a really good blog post with videos on the Social Run with the Kenyans event done by one of the Team Hawaii runners, Matt Holton: http://www.mauirunner.com/2014/04/running-with-kenyans-in-kapiolani-park.html
Pics my dad and I took at the Social Run with the Kenyans:
I am in the blue skirt:
After the running with the Kenyans event, my dad and I walked along Waikiki Beach for a bit and had breakfast by the beach (carb loaded with some delicious French Toast and fruit):
Then my dad went back to the hotel and I went to the race expo!
There I got my race packet and bought a Hapalua visor, that I ended up wearing quite frequently the rest of the trip. Then went back to the hotel so I could shower, and met up with my parents down at the beach to hang out around the hotel and have a low key late morning/early afternoon. I continued my carbo loading at lunch at the Tropics, which was one of our hotel’s restaurants with my parents and brother, with a Blue Hawaiian drink, and a stir fry for lunch. Mmmm.
Afterwards my brother took us on a drive out of Honolulu to see some other parts of the Island of O’ahu that are his favorite places that he has discovered in his almost 2 years living there. After sightseeing a little we posted up on this beautiful but little known beach for a bit and he played ukulele for us (something he has picked up living in Hawaii).
Then he took us to see his golf course that is the home course for Hawaii Pacific University (beautiful course, and apparently the most difficult in the country!) and then we went to dinner at Duke’s inside the Outrigger Hotel where I had fish, rice and vegetables, and a Long Board Lager (carbs!) Then laid out my race outfit and early to bed!
The morning of the race I woke up at 4:00am for a 6:00am race start. I had bought my traditional race breakfast of a bagel, peanut butter, banana and Gatorade in a store the night before, and prepared it in my hotel room plus a cup of coffee, and enjoyed it sitting on my balcony. Then I got dressed in my race clothes, and debated way too long about using a handheld water bottle before deciding I would be happier without it. At 5:15, I headed out of my room and walked myself the mile down Waikiki Beach to the race start, in front of the Duke Kahanamoku statue. I used the mile walk as a warmup, power-walking the first quarter mile and then lightly jogging the rest of the way. Hit the bathroom, did some dynamic stretching while watching the Team Hawaii runners begin in waves, had someone take my picture by the statue like every other runner there, listened to the National Anthem and Hawaiian Anthem, and then it was go time!
Gun went off at 6:00am. Temperature at the start was about 70 degrees as the sun came up, and partially cloudy with a chance of rain. Crossed the start line about 3 minutes after the gun. We headed west on Kalakaua Ave which travels along Waikiki Beach. Much of the course is an out and back from Waikiki to Downtown Honolulu, a lollipop around and then back along the same course, but then a big loop all the way around Diamond Head (a large mountain/extinct Volcano) before the finish. Here is the race map:
Course was very flat until just after the Mile 9 marker where we start going around Diamond Head. Most of the 10th mile uphill, we get a decent downhill for much of the 11th mile, and then another climb around the front of Diamond Head in the 12th mile before it is downhill to the finish.
Here is the Elevation profile:
First Mile: I started at a comfortable pace, faster than my easy pace but nothing crazy. Just before the Mile 1 marker we run past the entrance to our hotel, where my parents were waiting to see me go by. I was very excited to see them, and they nabbed a few pictures. My Garmin must have beeped for the first mile at some point when I was passing them and waving and saying hi, because I never even heard it, and when I looked down at my Garmin it was at 1.08 or something so I had to try to ballpark what my first split was, and didn’t see the actual time til after the race.
Mile 1: 10:41
Miles 2-4: Lovely run along the coastline Was keeping a nice and steady pace that felt good. Not TOO easy, but definitely not a struggle. Slowed to grab a sip water at the water stations around mile markers 2 and 4. Considered stopping at the first porta potties along the course at the 4 Mile marker, but the line was too long and I blew it off. It spritzed rain on and off, nothing major, just a few passing clouds that had a little rain in them, sunny otherwise, so the passing spritzes actually felt really good. Somewhere between miles 3 and 4 the first Team Hawaii and Kenyan Chasers passed us going the other way. Isabella was beasting it and had already passed several Hawaiians. The Kenyan men were still behind all but maybe 1 or 2 Team Hawaii members, but were looking strong. It was a highlight of the race for me to see them all out on the course.
Mile 2: 10:22
Mile 3: 10:33
Mile 4: 10:06 (I sped up a bit at the end of this mile because I knew at the water station right after the Mile 5 marker I was going to pause to take a GU and was realizing that I needed to stop at the porta potty there no matter what the line looked like cuz I definitely needed to pee! So I think I was compensating in anticipation of a lengthier pit stop at mile 5 water station).
Fifth Mile: We did the lollipop loop here and then headed back along the same course. As anticipated, I paused to take a Salted Caramel GU here and a full glass of water, and then waited in a 2 person line for a 4 block of porta potties. I then fell back into a slightly increased pace, trying to compensate for the pit stop, but not recklessly so. While running I was maintaining a pace in the low 10s, but with the stop it was my second slowest mile split of the race.
Miles 6-8: Continued back along the race course going back the way we came. It rained on and off, a few times pretty heavily but since it was warm out I didn’t mind much, it felt good. Maintained a steady, comfortable pace through these miles. Brief pauses for water at 6.5 and 7.5. Passed the hotel again right after the mile 7 marker, where my parents were waiting to cheer for me, which gave me a huge boost because I was feeling a tad fatigued. They got another picture of me. During this time, I was trying to do math in my head I knew I was maintaining a pace faster than my current PR, and even had a little cushion and if I kept it up I would PR for sure. However, the pace I had been maintaining comfortably for basically the whole race was feeling a little harder, and I knew the last 4 miles of the course were the hills, so I just kept trucking along.
Mile 7: 10:27
Mile 8: 10:34
Ninth Mile: Just after the 8th mile marker we passed the starting line again, with a TON of porta potties and no line. It wasn’t an emergency, but I decided to take a quick pit stop in fear of it being more urgent later and requiring me to wait in line. Just before the 9th mile marker I paused to take my 2nd Salted Caramel GU and a full cup of water at the water station. So, although my overall running pace was about what I had been running, the split is a bit slower.
Mile 9: 11:13
Tenth Mile:This is where the real work began. Just after the mile 9 marker began THE HILL going around Diamond Head. About 175 feet elevation gain over a mile. Not the biggest hill in race history, but after a flat first 9 miles in a half marathon, it definitely posed a mental and physical challenge. Grinded my way up. Pace slowed down quite a bit, and I was trying to do some math to figure out if the cushion I had built up over the previous 9 miles was enough to slow down on that hill and still PR. This mile was tough, and my pace showed it.
Mile 10: 12:00 even (yikes!)
Eleventh Mile: Hit the crest of the hill just a tiny bit after the 10th mile marker and then thankfully a huge downhill started. I just let my legs go, without much effort, with 100 feet of elevation decline this mile, and hoping to make up some of the time lost during the big hill.
Mile 11: 10:07
Twelfth Mile: Just after the 11th mile marker is another hill. Not as big or as long, about 50 feet elevation gain over a half mile, but was tough. A Workout Mix version of Britney Spears’ “Work B****” came on my iPod, and for some reason that was just what I needed to hear. Odd the things that get you through a hill in the 12th mile of a half marathon. Britney was telling me to “Now Get to Work!” So I did, grinding HARD up that hill. “Don’t stop now, just be the champion; Work it hard, like it’s your profession; Watch out now, cause here it comes; Here comes the smasher, here comes the master; Here comes the big beat, big beat disaster; No time to quit now, just time to get it now!” Best timed lyrics! At that I reached the top of the hill!! The top of the hill offered a beautiful view of the ocean, and over it, a giant rainbow!!! I glanced at my Garmin, and knowing it was all downhill from there I realized that I was likely going to PR, and with the top of the hill and the rainbow I will admit I got a little teary eyed. Tried to get a pic of the rainbow but it came out kinda dark.
Here’s one someone posted to the Hapalua facebook page:
The rest of that mile was a pretty significant downhill. Yay!
Mile 12: 10:19
Thirteenth Mile (+.1… well .2 according to Garmin): Time to finish this thing! Finished the loop around Diamond Head and then the finish line was in Kapolani Park. I was feeling TIRED by this point. It was all mental, just pushing myself along, and trying to enjoy the last few minutes of a great race!
Mile 13: 10:26
.2: 9:26 pace
Dad got a pic of me headed for the finish:
Garmin Finish Time: 2:20:19.6
Official Finish Time: 2:20:16
A NEW PR BY A MINUTE AND A HALF!!!!!!!!!!
Pro Pictures along the course (Finisher Pix did a great job and even included the pics with my race time in the photo package):
Overall Place: 1456/3350
Age Group (W 25-29) Place: 118/299
Post Race: My parents were at the finish line to cheer me on, and take lots of pics, shown above . I walked around a little, stretched, and then enjoyed the post race treats of shave ice and malasadas (a really yummy Hawaiian pastry) plus Gatorade, water and banana. Listened to a live Hawaiian band play on the band stand by the finish line with my parents, then headed to breakfast.
The shave ice:
Showered, and then spent the next several hours laying by the pool and drinking some fruity cocktails.
Then, back into beast mode. We hiked up Diamond Head at 4:30pm, the last time you are allowed to. Don’t know how I found the energy!
At the top of Diamond Head:
Then a leisurely dinner with my parents, brother and his roommate in Waikiki.
Shirt, medal and bib, with the visor I bought at the expo:
Back of the shirt:
We also got a nice blue bag with the race logo, the kind like reusable shopping bags:
Overall Impressions of the Race:I found the event to be very well organized and well put on. I appreciated a lot of advanced communication through their facebook site and through email, especially since I was unfamiliar with the race and the area. Their website was user friendly. Packet pickup was efficient with no lines. I absolutely LOVED the social run with the Kenyans. What an amazing idea and great event! The race course was beautiful. They had enough porta potties at the start, enough water on the course. Maybe could have used a few more porta potties on the course. The concept of The Chase was cool and exciting. The post-race party was great with good food and live music! The swag was great loved the shirt! My only small disappointment was the medal. It was really tiny. Bling isn’t my biggest priority, but an awesome medal is always a huge bonus, and this one was only so-so. However, overall I absolutely LOVED this event!! I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to run a Half in Hawaii, and I would love to return some day and run it again!
The Rest of the Vacation: Race stuff is over, but for those interested, I was in Hawaii for another 6 days. Monday morning my parents, brother and I flew to the Big Island. We stayed a night in Kona, and that day we ate lunch and had some beer samples at the Kona Brewery, then toured a Kona Coffee plantation. That night we did a night snorkel expedition to see the Manta Sting Rays up close and personal (as in inches away)! So cool!
Tuesday we drove to the other side of the island and had a 6 hour guided hike through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We stayed in a cabin in the rainforest that night!
The next day we explored the Hilo area including Rainbow Falls and then flew to Kaua’i!
We stayed at the Grand Hyatt for 2 nights, which was GORGEOUS! We ate at the hotel that night at a nice seafood restaurant.
The next day we went hiking by Wimea Canyon and took a helicopter tour with the doors off (amazing!). Then relaxed by the pool for a few hours.
Friday we headed back to O’ahu for one more night, this time we stayed at Turtle Bay on the North Shore. Before going to the hotel, though, we went to Pearl Harbor for a few hours and visited the USS Arizona Memorial, and then the Dole Plantation.
Checked into the hotel and hung out for a little, then went to Sunset Beach nearby (right by the famous Pipeline Beach) to watch sunset and surfers.
On our last morning my brother and dad golfed 9 holes, and my mom and I went horseback riding.
Then we hung around the hotel til it was time to catch out 6:50 pm flight. It was an AMAZING trip!!!
Thanks for reading!!! Oh and if you are interested in what happened with “The Chase” here is an article with AWESOME pics: