Sunday, January 22, 2017

Race Report: Aloha Series, Day 4

Today was the fourth and final day of the Aloha Series.  For today’s race, we returned to Smith Family Gardens to run the same course we ran on Thursday.

I didn’t get as much sleep as I wanted last night.  During the night, I made a trip to the bathroom and stubbed my toe.  It hurt for the rest of the night.  When I finally got up, I saw a blood blister on the tip of that toe.  That’s not what you want to see on the morning of a race.

Today’s weather once again included strong winds.  This course provides more shelter from the wind, and we never had to run into it for very long.  The forecast called for intermittent showers, but they never materialized.

I made a race day decision to switch from the marathon to the 50K race.  I was originally registered to run marathons all four days, so I had to pay the difference between the marathon entry fee and the 50K entry fee.  To run a 50K, I had to do three extra laps, for a total of 19.  Basically, I was paying $10 to drag myself through three more laps when I was already tired from running a marathon.  When you put it that way, it doesn’t sound that appealing.

My inspiration to switch to the 50K came on Friday, when I ran a lap with a local runner named Ray.  Ray was excited about the opportunity to run a 50K on Kaua’i since there never used to be any 50K races on this island.  It occurred to me that I’ve never run an ultramarathon in Hawaii, and it would be nice to do one while I’m already here.  I waited until the last day of the series, so I wouldn’t have to worry about wearing myself out for the remaining races.

I expected to take walking breaks at some point, but I started out running. I wanted to run the first eight laps.  That’s the number of laps I expected to complete before there was enough light to see without a headlamp.

Today, I found it much easier to run this course in the dark.  I ran enough laps on Thursday that I knew my way around the course.  I was thankful that we had a dry course today.  Yesterday’s conditions would have been difficult.

Right off the bat, I felt tired.  I think that was from lack of sleep.  I didn’t have any soreness in my legs.  I also wasn’t bothered by my toe.  I could feel it, but it didn’t hurt any more while running than it did the rest of the time.  After a lap or two, I put it out of my mind.

By the time I ran four or five laps, I felt like I was struggling.  I started out tired, and that feeling just got worse.  Still, I forced myself to keep running at a slow steady pace for the first eight laps.

When I finished my eighth lap, I was at the half marathon mark.  I immediately focused on getting to 25K without walking.  I needed to run another lap and a half.

Midway through my ninth lap, I could see the pink and orange hues of the sunrise.  Our view of the sunrise was partially obstructed by trees, but it must have looked beautiful from the coast.

I reached the 25K mark in about 2:54.  After that, I took it one lap at a time.  On one lap, I carried a camera and took pictures.  On another lap, I made a bathroom stop.  Other than that, I just kept running.  After my bathroom stop, my legs were stiff, and it was hard to get back into running.  From that point on, my pace was slower.

Most people think running multiple laps on the same short loop would be boring.  On some courses it can be, but not here.  This course has so much to see, that you can discover new sights on every loop.  For example, several times peacocks crossed my path.

Today’s theme for running apparel was super heroes.  Here are a few of the outfits I saw today.

By the time I got to 13 laps, I could finally count down the remaining laps to get to the marathon mark.  I needed three more.  I was getting increasingly tired, but my resolve to keep running grew with each lap.  I eventually reached the marathon mark in 5:03:56.  Then I refocused on doing three more laps to get to 50K.

Those last three laps were hot.  Because I was on the course longer today, the sun was getting higher in the sky.  At this point, I would have really welcomed some rain.  I could have managed the heat with a few walking breaks, but I wanted to press on and finish as soon as I could.

By now, the course was getting lonely.  All the half marathon runners were done.  Some of the marathon runners were also done, and more finished with each passing lap.  By the time I finished, the only other runners on the course were the other 50K runners and the marathoners who needed more than six hours to finish.

I toughed out those last three laps and finished in 6:03:29.  That turned out to be good enough for first place in the 50K.  I came to Hawaii expecting to finish a quadzilla.  I did that, but I also finished an ultra and won a race.  Maybe switching to the 50K wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

I got three new pieces to add to my chain of medals.  The first was today’s finisher medal, which had a volcano design.  The second piece indicates today’s medal was for the 50K rather than the marathon.  The third piece is a special medal for runners who finished all four days of the series.

The complete chain now looks like this.

Race statistics:
Distance:  50 kilometers
Time:  6:03:29
Average Pace:  11:42 per mile
Lifetime Marathons/Ultras:  327

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