Saturday, April 26, 2014

Guest Post: Mira's Race Report from The Hapalua, Hawaii's Half-Marathon

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If you missed Mira's first Guest Post telling her weight loss story, you can find it here. And below, you'll find her Race Report from The Hapalua, Hawaii's Half-Marathon. Thanks for sharing your report Mira!

Back in November of 2013, before I had even run my first half-marathon, I received a notice of a half-marathon happening in April in Honolulu. My husband and I always take a trip around our anniversary so I texted him “how about heading to Hawaii for our trip and I can do a half-marathon on the same trip?” Naturally he agreed to go to Hawaii for pretty much any reason. After I struggled my way through the Berkeley half-marathon in November 2012, I decided to hire a running coach. I was really catching this running bug and even though I was still slow and feeling like it was a lot of work, I was starting to find the joy in it. I would look forward to the long runs on the weekends like it was some special event. 

The trainer I hired made it all more scientific. I started doing tempo runs, fartleks, and intervals and measuring my heart rate and even learning how to actually run slow on a recovery run. I could feel my running getting stronger and started to understand how to better listen to my body's signals without having to look at the watch measuring me. I also got challenged to run faster than I thought I could. That was eye opening. Before I left for Hawaii, we went through every mile of the race deciding on pace, when to take the water or Gatorade offered by the race, and when to take my own Gu packet and especially, how to tackle that crazy hill at mile 10. I felt like I had a plan.

I planned my plane trip so that I would arrive with two days to acclimate and unkink my muscles from the flight. I also planned to have almost two days to recover after the race before I had to get back on the plane. The weather in Oahu was beautiful. 

View from our room with a rainbow omen
Our resort was amazing and I immediately began relaxing in a way I can’t around my kids. Friday was the expo and you were required to pick up your packet there because you couldn’t get it mailed or pick it up on the day of. Our hotel was an hour from the race location, so it was good practice for what was going to be an early day on Sunday. The expo was small but I managed to spend some money on new squishy “recovery” flip flops and some warming packs for muscles that intrigued me. 

Got my bib!
We then drove part of the course that went up the crater to see how big the hill I was facing really was. I can tell you it looked like nothing from the car.

I did my 10 minute run on the Saturday before the race, giggling all the way. Running 10 minutes used to be such a challenge, now it was barely worth strapping on shoes for. I then laid out all my gear, the spibelt to hold my gu and phone, the socks and shoes, hat, two choices of clothing and I had to decide between, watches, and so on. It starts feeling real when you start trying to remember all the things you need. 

We woke up Sunday morning at 3am and I had a packet of instant oatmeal, a yogurt and a cup of coffee before we left which was a pretty close approximation of my usual breakfast. 

This is what 3am looks like. Ouch!
I prepped my two pre-race drinks and we hit the road. On the way to the race I drank my water with electrolytes in it (nuun or something like it) because one of the greatest issues we were concerned about was dehydration in the hot, humid weather there. Once I got there my husband went off to park somewhere and take a nap and I took in the scene. There was a statue of someone known as the Duke draped in fresh leis, lots of people taking pictures in front of him and someone on a sound system telling us there were over 4600 people racing today! 

Duke Kahanamoku. And look, still dark out!
Unfortunately there were no honor corrals, where you sort by the speed you claim to be so that the faster people can start without weaving through walkers and slower runners. I placed myself pretty far back knowing I wasn’t a fast runner, but it seemed many people did not. 

Almost time to go!
About 30 minutes before the race start I drank my GenerationUcan pre-exercise sports drink. It isn’t the most amazing lemonade you’ll ever try, but it seems that it can extend my need for additional nutrition during the race to about an hour-and-a-half in, where before I was taking Gu around 30-40 min into a race. I went to the porta potties twice before the race but I will always regret not doing a very last minute one because when I started running I knew I wouldn’t make it without a bathroom stop. 

And we're off!
We started down the easy straightaway between all the fancy shops on Waikiki’s luxury row. It began raining off and on almost immediately but it was 70+ degrees outside so it didn’t feel too uncomfortable. The plan was to run the first two miles pretty slowly to warm up my legs, around 12-13 minute mile pace. There was a lot to look at and funny people to interact with and I remembered that the night before I had made it my first priority to remember to have fun, so I did. Very quickly we started witnessing the professional runners coming back from the first loop and we all cheered for them as some of them were local athletes. There was a water station around mile 1, water and Gatorade around mile 2.5, water and Gatorade around mile 4 but I was feeling so good I only took water one time. 

My husband was hanging out around mile 4 to cheer me on, which was fantastic. I was feeling strong and was starting to speed up a bit, trying to stay in the 11:15-11:40 minute per mile pace range. The weather was kooky but it just kept things entertaining. I finally had to stop to pee around mile 6 and was really frustrated to stand in line for 4 whole minutes just for that. It was going to be hard to forgive myself for that loss of time. I jumped back into the race and tried to keep myself from sprinting to make up time. I ran mostly in the 11:15 zone and around mile 7 I took a Gu to gear myself up for the climb up the crater. Around mile 9 the climb began just after I'd had another round of half-a-cup of Gatorade and a whole cup of water. I tell you, Gatorade is AWFUL tasting. Blech.

I soon noticed that I was the only one still running up that hill. The grade wasn’t steep but it went on for a full mile, and apparently no one else was determined to kick its butt like I was. I chugged up that hill slowly but surely, accomplishing that mile in 12:40. From there it was mostly downhill. The mental challenge was over, I relaxed and sped up to around 10-10:30 minute per mile pace. As I rounded the last curve up high on the crater we saw the ocean and an amazing rainbow encouraging us on the last two miles. For all of the downhill part I felt pretty good and speedy, but the final stretch to the finish line did not go as I imagined. My legs turned to lead. I surely intended to sprint to the end but I realized I had nothing left. It’s funny how your brain works because I was still running around 10:40 but it felt like I was dragging. I ran as hard as I could through the finish line...

...and straight to the porta potties to enjoy an uncomfortable intestinal experience that I blame entirely on Gatorade.  

My time wasn’t exciting, it was ok. In retrospect, the most important part is that the miles seemed to go by so quickly. I never felt like I had been running for 2.5 hours. I had no dreadful “I can't do this” moments like I had in other races. That is fantastic because I can approach the next half-marathon with the confidence that the miles might just melt away again. That’s very exciting!


  1. Congrats Mira!!!

  2. Wow! Congratulations! Great race :)

  3. Awesome race, Mira! I laughed out loud at your comment re: Gatorade... I learned the hard way (in a short, 5-mile race in terrificly hot weather) that I can NOT EVER drink Gatorade! I feel your pain. Sounds like a fantastic experience!

  4. Congratulations on such a blissful run, Mira! Gatorade on a race? Never again!

  5. congrats mira, you look beautiful too :)


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