My two running goals for 2013 were to chase down my Dad’s City2Surf PB and to run sub 90 minute in the Blackmores half marathon. After my fractured foot meant I didn’t finish the City2Surf and couldn’t run Blackmores, I looked to the Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon as the event to finally break the 90 minute mark.
For someone who loves to travel and loves to run, a half marathon in Hawaii seemed like the perfect combination.
The two and a bit months leading up to the event were somewhat of a mixed bag. A 5km PB in my first few weeks back to running was followed by a tougher than expected 10km at the end of November.
But with the major focus being Canberra marathon in April, starting a long run program made it easy to look at the half as another training run.
Arriving in Hawaii, I was more interested in the list of things I wanted to do than running. Diamond Head, Pearl Harbour, the Oahu North Shore and the Road to Hana were the things I was determined to fit in while I was there.
After fitting in two in the first couple of days, we flew to Maui where the trip really started to get interesting. The house we were staying didn’t look great on the outside, but the inside provided that familiar hostel feeling – communal kitchen, large dorm, wifi not working – so I didn’t think we would have too many issues. The first hint that this might not be entirely accurate was the pig named Lulu who was living in the garden.
Lulu looked less like Babe and more like this:
She was gone later that afternoon, but the fun didn’t end there. Our only big night out in Hawaii happening in Maui, and a vomit incident in the dorm led to a couple of us sleeping in the lounge room. The following morning, I couldn’t find my phone, and assumed I had left in the bar the previous night. A trip back there to find it was unsuccessful, so I tried not to be disappointed and went to collect my race bib before a group of us left for a full day road trip along the Road to Hana.
The long, winding road along the Maui coastline was slow, but offered beautiful scenery before we find made it to our destination – the Pools of Oheo.
With our races the next day, an early night was on the agenda. We arrived back to the hostel around 7pm to find everyone standing out the front. It was obvious that something wasn’t quite right, my feeling was that we had been robbed.
My guess couldn’t have been further from the truth. The ceiling in the living room had collapsed, where I had slept the previous night! The good news was, that in cleaning up the mess, my phone had been found. The bad news, we had to move to a new hotel. With the marathon on, there were limited options available, and nothing in a similar price range to what we had been paying. Before long, we were moving from the “falling apart” hostel to living it up at the Hyatt.
By the time we arrived and checked in, the marathoners didn’t have a lot of time to sleep before their 3am wake up. I was a little luckier, only having to be up around 5am. It was still dark when we arrived at the race start. Some quick thinking when we saw how long the bathroom line was had us jogging back to the hostel (where we knew the door wouldn’t be locked and we were still paying for accommodation) to use their bathroom.
Making it back to the start line not long before the gun went off, it was finally time to go after the sub 90 minutes goal. Running the first few kilometers in the dark, I relaxed and enjoyed the early stages on the race, trying to make sure I didn’t go out too hard. I held a comfortable pace, around 4.18, as the sun started to rise. I found myself gaining on runners in front of me, and made it my goal to catch them. After passing two, I found myself running alone with no others runners in sight, and focused on maintaining my pace.
Getting closer to the turnaround, I could see runners coming back and counted two women in front of me. It vaguely occurred to me that the turn seemed quite close to when my watched beeped for 10km, but I was enjoying the run and didn’t think much of it.
The way back was slightly uphill, though I didn’t notice it being particularly downhill on the way out. At around 14km, I noticed myself starting to feel tired, and was spurred on briefly by seeing people from my club waiting to start the 5km event. It didn’t last long, and not long after I felt like my pace was dropping and was starting to wonder how I would hold on.
I had been reading Paula Radcliffe’s book on the plane, and remembered reading that she counted to 100 three times in a row, in which time she would run approximately a mile in marathon. Obviously I wouldn’t get anywhere near that far in the same amount of time, but I decided to try it as a distraction.
Not longer after I heard my watch beep for 19km, I reached the turn off point that took us off the highway and back towards the finish. I couldn’t remember exactly how far back it was, and thought the 12 mile marker I had just seen must be slightly out since I still had 2km to go.
In my excitement (desperation) to finish, I pushed towards the finish line, holding 3rd place female and was surprised to see a time of 1.26.55. After getting some water and looking closer at my watch, it turned out I had only run 20.5km. I was well under sub 90, on a short course! After a little bit of initial frustration passed, I decided it still counted as a sub 90 as I knew I could have done the extra 600m in less than 3 minutes.
The funniest part about this, is that I am writing this many months later and remembering how hard it felt holding on to 4.15 pace in the last 5km of that run. At the time, I thought my half marathon PB would be impossible to beat since it was so fast due to the short course. I wouldn’t have believed anyone who told me at the time that in 8 months time I would be able to run almost that same pace for a full marathon.
As the day warmed up, we waited for the other half marathoners, 5km runners and marathoners to finish. It got warm as the marathoners battled through, especially after their short sleep the night before.
The reward we had waiting for us after a hard mornings running effort? A relaxing afternoon with drinks by the pool and this amazing view. Maybe I should run in Hawaii more often!