Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Kona Half Marathon Training Run- Running around Lava, Inspired by Ironman athletes, and a new record

Hello All,

 June is upon us and that means the Kona Marathon/Half Marathon is just a few weeks away. The Big Island Running Company decided to host a training run on the beautiful Waikaloa resort, the race course . 

Provided with water (very, very cold water..yum) and great attitudes, a group of 10-15 runners set out to run the course around 6am (hey it's Hawaiian time, no worries).

We had different plans for our objective today. Most were participating in the Marathon while another lady and I were signed up for the half marathon. I had been lightly following the Ironman sub 2 hour run plan and it called for a 14 mile run. I was slightly nervous but, knew if I broke it up , I would be fine. 

Mile 1 begins at the first right turn once you enter into the resort. You then climb up a hill and turn right onto a long straight away (Miles 1 and 2)

I originally set out to make this a "slow/easy" run for myself just to learn the course. However, as I was going up the hill (about .50 mile in) I realize I felt decent, the heat wasn't strong, and the wind made it quite comfortable, so why not push it.
I decided to maintain just under a 9:15 pace . As I went up the hill and turned right, I realize HOLY WIND. It was like I was back in Oxnard California again with 20mph hour winds. I felt like I was STILL climbing that hill., YUUUCCKKKK....I tried to keep my pace around or just under 9:15 but it felt like I was running on sand. GEEZ

When I got to the turn around it was like I was finally out of the sand and I was SAILING...
wow wee. WHAT a difference having the wind on your back!
I mentally told myself to maintain a sub 9:15 until Mile 4 but when I looked down at my watch I noticed I was running a 8:35 pace. I slightly freaked out.".should I hold on to this? no way, this is WAY to early to be running an 8:35! " I did a body scan, my legs felt good, my breathing was effortless, and my energy felt great, I decided my body feels great, "let's kick it!' So, instead of holding back, I opened up and my body responded.

Miles 3 and 4 were wonderful. I had shade, a slight decline, and felt great. I was getting faster and faster. My average lap pace was a 9:01,  (mile 2) , 8:41 (mile 3) and 8:48 (mile 4)

By Mile 4.5  I was coming up on the water the BIRC had placed for us (the starting point) at the queens market place. I saw the runners in front of me pull over for a bathroom break. I looked at my water and saw I had enough for about 4 more miles. So I kept going and decided I would run out to the lava field portion and back before refueling. I refueled on my strawberry flavored Gu Blocks (MY FAVORITE choice of nutrition on a run) and felt great.  However, I was back in the headwind, fighting for every step and my pace for mile 5 slowed to a 9:02. I was so thankful when I flanked right , out of the resort and onto the lava fields on the Queen K Highway. I instantly had wind at my back.

 I instantly thought of all the legends that had biked this course during the Ironman (the Ironman run course does not go this far ) and felt SO inspired. I was running the same bike area as Chrissie Wellington (my favorite) Mirinda Carfrae , Chris McCormmack, and Lindsey Corbin, the greats, the amazing Ironman Athletes who are so amazing. I have ran the last portion of the Ironman run course a few weeks ago, now I was running on the crazy, heat and wind crazed bike course. 

My legs were flying and by mile 6 and 7 I ran a 8:38 and a 8:25! Of course at the turn around I drank some water and had to take a picture. I believe Mauna Loa even got in the shot.

 I knew I had to take it in and push hard back, again facing the oncoming headwind. I looked down at my watch (LOVE LOVE LOVE My Garmin Forerunner!) and saw my pace steadily slowing. I felt like I was putting the effort in to run an 8:15 but was only running 8:45. I decided to keep myself from burning out, I would try as hard to average an 8:45. 

By .5 miles into the turnaround I got worried. I could see the entrance to Waikaloa and worried if I had calculated my mileage wrong. I thought I went 2 miles out? So, that means I should have to run 2 miles back? But Waikaloa looks so close?!..That's the thing about the lava fields, they're deceiving. I was right, I did run 2 miles out and had 1.5 miles left to run. I used my hill tactic and kept my eyes below the rim of my cap, trying to not let the mental fatigue set in. Every now and then I would sight (look up and check the entrance) and it never seemed like it was getting closer. I'd look at my watch and realized, I still had a mile of this horrible wind left. EEK , time to get lost in my music. 

The actual course passes the entrance and continues up the highway up to the dead end turn around. However, I needed water and to replenish with another Gu Block, so I turned into the resort (the wind was suddenly at my back), drank 3 cups of water and refilled my handheld water bottle . I run with an Amphipod Hand held water bottle , It's great! It holds 12 oz of water and it can even hold my Gu's. I can't stand stuff bouncing on my back or hip when I run so this is easily accessible and great to run with.

I was at Mile 9.5 when I headed back out and made the turn back onto the resort loop. I decided I wanted to simulate the actual course so instead of heading back out to the long stretch of road (mile 2 and 3) I turned left at the top of the hill again "mile 11" and decided if I needed to, I'll just turn around later and make a reverse loop to get all my mileage in. 

Miles 10  and 11 were the back of the resort and were great , filled with downhill and shade. I averaged a 8:21 and a 8:07. I wasn't hurting too bad yet but the heat was finally getting to me. The sun was completely up and I had to tell myself at mile 11, all I had was a 5K left. 

I got to 11.5 and at the queens market I realized I had to turn around if I wanted to get to 14. So, I turned around and ran up the hills I had just flown down and dealt with more headwind.

During mile 12, I imagined how i would feel on race day. Being tired, hot, getting hungry and, sore, I was climbing up a stupid hill and just wanted to stop. I was averaging around an 8:17 and couldn't believe how well the run has gone. Instead of listening to my watch or my head I listened to my body and pushed the pace, a lesson well learned. I saw my current over time being around 1 hour and 40 minutes and couldn't believe how far into my run I was at this pace. Usually during races I'm here at around mile 10 and 11, never 12. I knew if I wanted to maintain a sub 2 hour pace during race day I had to average a 9:09. With the hills and the wind I didn't know if I had done it? Did all the pushing pay off?

When my watch beeped at mile 13 I didn't want to stop, I had the .1 to complete. I pushed it up one more hill and kept watching...13.06....13.07...13.09...13.10!!! 13.1 miles!
I stopped and moved to a spot shaded by a median palm tree. 13.1 under 2 hours. I did it. I wished there were others around to high five or celebrate with me, but I stood there knowing that it was all me, I did it. 
I took a picture to make sure I could remember the time and pace. The bad thing was, I wasn't done lol. I knew I still had to run back to the starting point, having set a goal for 14 miles, my run wasn't done yet.

I pushed and pushed up a hill and finally got to a turn I knew that ended with a down hill stretch. I turned right on the main road and headed, to what I imagined, was the big blow up finish line mark (for today's run anyway). I sprinted to the water and laid down in the grass. It was over. I had ran the farthest I had ran , that morning, in a year. 

I finished
Got some ice water
then after I cooled down, a banana and chocolate protein milk..nom nom nom :)

My overall distance was 14.21 (whoops)
Average Pace : 8:36
Elevation Gain: 246 feet

Watch: Garmin Forerunner 220 (Purple)
Shoes: Asic Kayanos (My Cinderella shoes)

I couldn't have been happier with this run. I've been saying since last year I want to break 2 and it's eluded me every half marathon.

I've had a 2:07, a 2:05, and 2:03 even

This time around I've incorporated Crossfit at (Hilo Health Co-Op) into my training and seen massive results. In March I ran the Hilo Half Marathon at a 2:03. After I finally finished battling health issues and attending crossfit 3-5 times a week my times have improved IMMENSELY!
I can handle hills easier and my lung capacity seems to no longer be a huge issue . 

It was a great day. I just hope I can maintain my condition and keep the muscles ready for the race in 2 weeks :)

Thanks for reading!

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