Saturday, September 08, 2012

Race Report--Kauai Marathon: Marathon #24/State #23

Quick 'n dirty: Kauai Marathon, Sunday, Sept 2, 2012.  6:55:53, marathon #24, state #23

OMG. If you like hills, heat, hills, humidity, trade winds, hills, pop-up showers, beautiful scenery, hills, feral chickens, hills, Dean Karnazes, hills, counting smooshed frogs on the road, hula girls, tribal drummers, and big-ass friggin' HILLS, this is the race for you!

After doing tourist stuff in Honolulu (one island over, for those unfamiliar with Hawaiian geography,) wandering around Waimea Canyon, the Kauai Coffee plantation, Kilauea Point (not to be confused with the volcano on the Big Island,) and hanging out at beaches looking for sea turtles (saw 5 swimming around) and monk seals (saw one snoozing on the beach in the middle of dozens of people,) lunch with Maniacs, and dinner with Penguin/Dead Larry James and his wife, we had to take a break from honeymoonin' to get up and run a marathon (half-marathon for Ron. He's not as dumb as I am.) We were bused a couple of miles down to the shopping center that served as the start line. After standing around for a while (they had a great spread there: coffee, sports drink, water, bagles and shmear,) Ron and I separated to our respective places in the pack. I found one of the new Maniac/Fanatic friends I'd met the afternoon before at lunch, Maureen, who decided she would get me to the turnoff point, which was mile 10.8. Those miles went the fastest out of my whole day. Our first ginormous hill came between miles 5 and 6. Ron's Garmin said it was at 13% grade. We got our first of two rain showers of the day around the same time Maureen and I hit this hill. It rained moderately hard for about half an hour. Wet socks aren't fun for me. We went into the Tunnel of Trees, which would have been nice to block the sun if we had needed it. It kept a little bit of the rain off of us for a mile or so.

The next big hill I specifically remember was a bit after 10 miles. At about 10.5, Maureen, who chats with everyone when she runs, asked a random girl if she was doing the half or the full. The girl replied, "The half. We're ALL halfers--the full marathon turned off up the road." Ummm, NO. She insisted it was so. Luckily, I had stuffed a copy of the course map/directions in my waist pack, and it confirmed that I was still on course, after finding out what road I was on from a local. Panic receded, heart rate returned to normal. I sadly turned right as Maureen turned left at the split, and proceeded to climb another big ass hill that went on for about half a mile. I got to see the fast people, including the lead female, coming down the same hill as I was going up since this was part of the out-and-back (with a lollipop in the middle.) Everyone was awesome, giving us thumbs up. I mostly walked that hill. Had a nice downhill around mile 13ish, when I heard in front of me, "Go Maniac!! All right!!" It was Dean Karnazes, one of the race ambassadors. So I hollered, "Go Dean!! Wooo hooo!" because I am a dork :) Some more downhill, and then came Mile 15, the start of the lollipop section.

I honestly did not think I was going to make it up Mile 15, mentally or physically. It. Just. Kept. Going. Up. It was long. It was steep. It was painful. I gave up any pretense of running and walked up. I stopped a few times to stretch out my back and my hamstrings and calves. I squatted down a couple of times to stretch my quads and catch my breath. I ended up sitting on a guard rail for about 5 minutes, trying to regroup and convince myself that I COULD finish this marathon, that I HAD TO finish this marathon. I can't exactly just go back to Hawaii whenever, pick up another race. Failure was not an option. I had a little over 4 hours left. I took a hit of albuterol and pushed myself off the guard rail and continued to climb Mount Mile 15. I made it to mile 16. My mile split time: 23:52. At least I got to go down the way I came up. My legs were hurting kind of everywhere by mile 20, and by mile 21, I decided just to walk the rest of the course, testing a run every once in a while. Nope. Of course, then I had to climb another big uphill at mile 21. I just wanted to sit down again. There was no guard rail here along the side of the highway. At 21.5, I noticed an abandoned aid station. They had left Heed (nasty stuff that made me feel like I was going to barf every time I drank it before running,) on two folding chairs. I moved all the cups over to one chair and sat down for another 5 minutes or so. And then the second rain shower hit, this one for about 20 minutes or so. I wanted to cry. But the rain quit, and the sun came out full-force, and I got to the top of the hill, and before me lay the gorgeous Pacific Ocean in all its glory, and I felt like it was going to be all right after that. I asked 8 lb, 6 oz Baby Jesus (points for reference!) to help me finish the last f*&%ing 4.2 miles, and set off at a trot down the hill, which hurt like a mother, so I decided to just walk really fast. Support from the people driving the other way down the highway, honking and cheering out their windows, helped a LOT.

I managed to power walk my way to the aid station at mile 25.5ish, got high-fives from the medical staff, and promptly got a charley horse-type cramp in my right hamstring, just above the knee. I'm pretty sure I dropped an F-Bomb or three as I tried to walk. Really?? Less than a mile from the finish and THIS?? I tried to stretch it out, and it hurt more. A medical person ran over t see if I was okay. She pushed and massaged the back of my thigh until I felt like I could walk again without feeling like a hot knife was being shoved into my leg. They offered me a bag of ice, but I declined. I just wanted to be done. Lost another 3-5 minutes messing with that. I limped on down the road, stopping to take a picture of some pretty yellow hibiscus flowers, turned down a road indicated to me by the most adorable little boy (I asked for a high-five, and he took a running start and JUMPED into it, lol,) and Behold! The finish line!! The ocean was to my right, and some beach-goers were very supportive (Ohmigosh! You're soooo close! How are you feeling?" "I feel like I'm gonna barf." "Go ahead and barf--you've earned it!!") In front of the finish line, I see Ron and my Fanatic friends Maureen and Eric, who are waiting for me and another Maniac friend, Ed, who was about half an hour behind me. Ron wants a finishing picture, so I stuck my tongue out at him :)  Some local high school cheerleaders are dancing and cheering, so I danced with them for a few seconds and got even more high fives. Got my medal, a cold wash rag, and a bottle of water, and collapsed in the shade.

By far the hardest course I've done, but one of the most beautiful.

And I lost count of the smooshed frogs (bufo) on the course at 33 :-P

Hey, Remember Me??

If anybody is still out there, I'm baaaaaaack!! I figure I'd restart this blog mainly to post race reports so I don't have to post big long ones to Facebook, since there are a few people on there who don't care about my races.