Monday, January 30, 2012

Hawaii Marathon - State #19 on my Goal to 50

Sunrise view at the summit of Haleakala
     Hawaii was my 19th state marathon, which I decided to run on the beautiful island of Maui.  I arrived in Maui a few days before the marathon, and continued to prepare for the likely higher temperatures I would be running in by drinking plenty of water and avoiding too much sun.

     Race morning I woke up at the lovely 2am hour, got ready and left for my 40 minute drive to the finish line to hop onto a shuttle bus to the start.
The Maui Ocean Front Marathon is a bit smaller, they started out by reading out a few stats and giving props to some marathon veterans who were at the race.  Then they had a Hawaiian blessing for us and the race, with individuals dressed in native attire blowing Conch shell's and then some singing in the Hawaiian language.  Then they took us to the start which was just fire lit tiki torches lining the road, then I believe a Conch shell was blown to signify the start of the race.

West Coastal View
     Then we were off, started off down some steady downhill.  I had to pace myself to keep from going out too fast, because I don't usually warm up before a marathon, I like my first few miles to be the warm up period...
By mile 2 we were right next to the coast, and even though it was completely pitch black dark it was neat listening to the crashing waves on the shoreline.  I was worried about tripping because I couldn't see the road at all, thankfully the roads were great and no problems there.
The first few water stops were okay, but I noticed right off that the less than 1/2 an inch of water in the cup they were handing me wasn't enough.  I knew I may not feel the need for the water at that point, but knew I would need it later when the sun came up.  So by the 3rd water stop I began grabbing two cups instead of one.  Unfortunately, even with two cups with so little water in them it wasn't much.  Then there were a few stops that they were out of water, and I had to drink some other drink that left a nasty after taste (in my opinion).

Waterfall in the National Park
     Around mile 7 running past the central part of the island, the wind kicked up something fierce and of course we had to be running into it head strong.  Man, this took SO much out of me I cannot even tell you.  I had to run just over two miles in this and the only good thing at this point is the sun hadn't quite came up over the mountain just yet.
By the time I rounded the corner I was exhausted but loving the fact that I now had the crazy strong wind at my back, and running downhill felt effortless and then coming into mile 10 the gradual uphill felt flat because the wind was as a helping hand pushing me up.  I was still really enjoying the run.  The sun was up, and the Ocean was turning from gray to those several shades of blue, it was absolutely beautiful.
Waterfall at the National Park

    This was one of those times where all good things have to come to an end.  As I approached the several miles of the climbing up the coastal cliffs, the fierce wind kicked up and was again right into my face.  It was like running into a wall, at one point it almost stopped me right in my step.  Tucking my head down to avoid dirt from getting in my eyes, I pushed on.  The water stops, had continued to either be out of water/cups all together or not handing out much...  I guess the officials just didn't plan ahead for cups, and the volunteers not filling them well, wasn't helping.  If I was taking two cups to get by at some, I know I wasn't the only one.  So because of that, it makes sense why they ran out.
By the time I made it to the half way point I was still okay, but I could feel that something wasn't right but couldn't quite put my finger on it.  So I just pushed the thought out of my mind and watched the ocean and the jumping humpback whales in the distance.
Hiking through a bamboo forest
     This marathon, instead of listing the miles starting at 1.  The race started with the .2 and then counted down from 26.  So near 10 miles to go, things were not going well, and I could feel myself slipping.  It was the oddest feeling, something I had never experienced before.
I pushed on, but could feel my body wanting to just shut down.  It was weird, almost like I knew my body could handle pushing it more, but it just wouldn't react and nothing I could do would change it.

     Shortly after that, that is when things went from bad to worse.  Frankly, I don't remember much of those last 10 miles, only bits and pieces.  I literally lost my mind, and I think it was my subconscious which was making my body continue on.
I was having a hard time keeping upright, and I am pretty sure I wasn't running/walking at this point in a straight line.  I believe this went on for a few miles, I seriously don't remember much.
Somewhere between miles 8 and 7 to go, I saw and heard an ambulance rush by me, then another and another, I think I counted five and that is when I came too a little and realized I was in BIG trouble.  More than anything I didn't want that to be me getting taken from the race and I just wanted to finish.
Lava Sea Cave at a black sand beach

    I remember praying, a lot...  And then somehow I had these moments in-between the loss of my mind that made me alert enough to do what I needed to do.  By now, when I would get to a water stop, I drank the water because I knew I needed it, but I remember having to force it down me.  I had slight stomach cramps which may have been the reason I didn't want to drink it...  At this point hate to admit it, but I was pretty out of it.
The sun was beating hot now on me and had been for a couple of hours, and hitting me straight in the back with 85+ degree heat.   The only good thing, I remember the wind at some point was no longer quite as strong as it was before.

There was this lady, I called her the blond in the blue dress lady.  She had been cheering along the entire course.  At first I just figured she had a runner behind me, and she would ride her little motorcycle ahead a few miles and wait, and this was the reason I kept seeing her.  Sometimes she handed out  boxes of chocolates, and others she just smiled and cheered and said really nice things to all of us runners.  You would have thought she was there to cheer you on, so I eventually remember looking forward to seeing her along the way, and having a short chat.  Eventually I learned she didn't even have a runner in the race, she was just out there to support our group of runners.  (Wonder if they had people do that along the entire course, for all the different paces???)  However, I thought it was nice.
Even when I was losing my mind, I made sure to try and smile at her and say something to her...  Even though I was out of it, even I knew deep down if people see you doing badly they can alert officials and have you pulled from the race.
As bad as I was, I didn't want that to happen.
Even when for the first time EVER in all my 26 marathon history I wondered HOW in the heck I was ever going to finish.
Couple of Spinner Dolphins

     It was very bad, I "Hit the Wall" for the first time "for real".  I thought I hit it once several years ago.  I may have a little, but now I know what it really means...  It means you are done, finished, your body is exhausted beyond your control and there is little you can do about it.
Even though I was pretty out of it, during my coherent moments I would remember what to do, how to get my body to go.  Dug deep and pushed my stride a little more. (Of course that is what I think I remember doing or telling myself to do, the reality may have been a bit different.. I just don't really know for sure.)
I remember having to do a stride change it in short burst increments, and I did this for I remember vaguely the last 6 miles of the race.  Other than that, and remembering the heat I don't remember almost anything else of those miles.
View from a south beach

     Finally I do remember seeing the 1 mile to go marker, and there is just something about that point, you know you will make it even if you have to crawl.  (thankfully I didn't have to crawl:)  But I am sure I was a pathetic sight as I trudged along.
As I crossed the finish line who was there to congratulate and greet me?  Well the blond in the blue dress lady.  They must have been talking about me over the intercom system and about my marathon's because I remember her saying "Oh my gosh you have ran 26 of these?"  I wanted to be nice to her, but I seriously didn't know how much longer I could stay standing.  I remember thanking her, and telling her I enjoyed her cheering along the way.  Someone else put the medal around my neck, I don't even think I looked at them..
I feel bad now, because I really like to thank the volunteers who assist, but oh well...
Sunset Beach View

   I was REALLY glad at that point I had decided to wake up earlier and drive my rental car to the finish, because if I had, had to walk and take the public bus system...  Well I doubt I would have made it.
When I did reach my car, I was in no shape to drive and even totally out of it, I knew that.  I seriously had no idea how I was going to find my hotel, strange sort of feeling of being out of control with your mind.  It's like being drugged or something, I hated it.
I took a while to just sit and regroup, and then figured if I used the GPS and had someone (thing) telling me where to go (even as simple as it was to get back) I could drive.
Now, I don't recommend driving as I did, I was probably a hazard to myself and others.  But what can I say I did it...  I just remember every time the fog started to come in my head I did as I would just shake it off, and tell myself don't drive off the cliff and stay between the lines...  It was crazy, I remember nothing else other than I passed a group of dolphins, at least I think I did...
Iao Needle State Park

     Well that was it, now as to what happened.  Well it took me a few hours after I got back to the hotel I passed out a for a bit, then woke up and started drinking water again then more rest, then more water...  Well after a phone call to my dad, he knew right away what happened to me.  I of course was a bit dehydrated, but I also had early stage heat exhaustion...  All my symptoms and crazy thinking fit....

By evening I was doing much better, and was doing everything I needed to, to get the kidney's functioning normal again... Of course it took well into the 2nd day to get rid of the horrible headache..  But other than a very sore body all was good!

Lush coastal lava area
     If you had asked me at the end of the marathon if I was going to do another, I am not sure what I would have told you.  But thankfully now, I am 100% back and ready to continue with my goal.
I now have 19 states completed and 31 plus D.C. to go and I am excited to continue on!!!!   This race was an experience, one I have never gone through before and lets be honest, one I hope to NEVER have to go through again!
So all I can say to the next state, Bring it On!!!
Black Sand Beach

     Maui is a beautiful place and I couldn't help explore it, hike it and discover some of it's hidden treasures.  So for fun I have included several of my favorites from some of the pictures I took.
In addition to the Marathon, I woke up at before dawn to visit Haleakala National Park and watch the sunrise.  Such a beautiful experience!!!
I went diving in a Coral Reef at the Molakini Crater, and visited the beautiful red cliff Island Lana'i and became surrounded by pods of spinner dolphins.
I saw dozen's and dozens of humpback whales, both up close and in the distance.  I even got to see a bunch of green sea turtles swimming.
I went Hiking in Haleakala National Park to see beautiful Waterfalls.  Took the drive on the long road to Hana, to see the breathtaking coastal views and walk on black sand beaches.  Explored coastal lava caves, and hiked to blow holes.
Lana'i Island Cliffs (Dolphin hang out here by the dozens during the day)
I had sunset picnic's at the beach many evenings, while I would sit and watch the hundred's of humpback whales playing around in the ocean.  Just to name a few of the things I did while spending 13 days in Maui.  Of and of course I came back with a great dark tan:)
Sunset

2 comments :

  1. Hi! I loved this post! Kelli McFall is my co worker and she sent me your blog. I have never run a marathon in my life, but for my 30th birthday, running the 2013 maui marathon is my goal. After reading your post I am kind of scared. Was it the course that made it difficult? The lack of water? Do you have any tips that I could use to help me go from a non marathon runner, to someone able to finish a marathon? I have 11 months. Thanks so much for sharing. You are pretty amazing!

    Stef

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    Replies
    1. Hi Stef,
      Thank you!
      Oh, no please don't let this post scare you to run a Marathon! Running a marathon, especially your first is an amazing experience if you train properly.

      What happened to me this particular race was a little dehydration, and I got early state heat exhaustion.
      I know several runners in this race had this problem, but that is something that was complained on, and you'll be lucky because next year (their 5th) they will make sure not to have these problems.
      It was an issue with the volunteers near the start, they were not handing out more than a swallow or two in a cup, so people were taking 2-4 cups to get what they needed. This resulted in lack of cups, which then forced you to skip water stops.

      Most people run 1 or 2-3 marathon's a year.
      I am running a marathon every couple of weeks while working on my goal. I do not give my body time to recover from one marathon to the next.
      On top of that I have an injury, Hip Bursitis, which I am also trying to run with/and recover from... It's insane and I probably a little on the crazy side to be attempting.
      So you throw into the fact that my body is already tired, and then the lack of water early on in the race, and the headstrong winds which took a little more out of me than it would most... By the time the hot temps set it, I was just basically a disaster waiting to happen.. Guess you could say:)

      It won't happen to you. You should read some of my other marathon blog posts, in 26 marathons, this is the first time this has happened.
      If you are interested, read my New York City Marathon post, I put up back in November last year, that will get you excited!

      As for tips... For your first marathon and coming from being a non-runner. Make your goal to finish, and leave it at that.

      Even though you have 11 months, start running now. You'll want to for the next 5 months work up to running 6 miles on any given day comfortably.
      Take these months to just get your body used to running, whether it's 1 mile or more.. More important, take your time and get your body and mind to LOVE to run!!!

      In 5-6 months before you start building mileage, it totally helps if you already love to run:)

      Another tip, it's a myth, you do NOT need to run a 26 mile training run.. It's better you don't..
      So in 8-9 months you can start getting in your your long runs.
      18-20 miles is the max you need to do. I used to do 3-5 18 milers, and try for 1 20 miler..

      Last tip, I used to say running a marathon is 50/50 mind and body.
      I changed my mind last year..
      Running a marathon is 40/60 and sometimes 30/70...
      Lower number being body, higher number mind.
      As you can probably guess after reading my Maui post, my body gave up.. Although I lost my mind a little, if I hadn't already had the love for running and drive to finish made up in my mind ahead of time I probably would have dropped out.
      There comes a point in almost every marathon, and likely it will happen to you.. That you will need to rely on your mind more than your body to get you through the tough points.. especially mile 23.. LOL... (That laugh will make sense to you in about 11 months)

      If you don't know anyone else who runs marathons to help you out, if you need some help or advise feel free to reach out to me, I love to help runners when I can.
      You can grab my email from my blog profile...

      Also, I try to motivate and share my stories. I have a lot of runners who follow my blog. So if you are interested, feel free to check back frequently. I am going to be attempting to run 17-19 marathon states this year.. (Fingers crossed) and you might enjoy the stories, or grab some tips from them:)

      Good Luck, great 30th birthday idea!!

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