Thursday, March 20, 2014

Marathon 2.0

We have all figured out by now that some of J’s crazy has been rubbing off on me lately. Well, it turns out that the El Paso Marathon was scheduled for one month after the MOM. I decided, a week before the race, that I was going to do it. J did, too.

I hadn’t done any real long runs since returning from Maui, but felt pretty good. Once again we were getting up super early so we could ride a school bus to the marathon start. This time, we started at the highest point, the top of Transmountain. The sun was on it’s way up when we started, and I was glad to have my sun glasses. The first 6 miles were downhill, and I probably went faster than I should have.

It flattened out after that and stayed mostly flat the rest of the race. It was hot and sunny. I had to carry fuel with me since the water stations weren’t supplied with food stuffs (some volunteers supplied their own food for us). There weren’t many highlights for this race.

Before the halfway point, I was running a very flat, very straight stretch through desert and past a landfill, when I really started to miss Maui. I had known this would be nothing like the MOM, but it was rather depressing at this point. I kept going. I made the halfway. I made it 2 more miles, and “the wall” was in sight. Uh oh.

I hit that wall around mile 16. It wasn’t fun. I started to wonder if I was going to finish. I was already walking more than just at the water stations. I was hot and tired and thirsty. I started drinking 2 cups of water or drink mix at each water station, which was every mile at this point. I knew I had to get to mile 20 at the very least.

At mile 17, I set my watch for 1 minute timer. I ran for a minute, then walked a minute. Then I ran 2 minutes and walked a minute. Run 3 minutes, walk a minute. Then start over. It started working, and I was doing ok. At the mile 20 water station, some of my Army Wife friends were set up to cheer everyone on. They wrote on the street in chalk for me. They had signs for me. They had frozen Gatorade, which I never would have guessed would taste so amazing. They had skittles. One friend even ran with me for a few feet. They really saved me at this point, and I decided I could finish this.

I kept my minute-to-minute pattern up, and trudged along. It was painful. I was so damn thirsty. I knew I wasn’t going to beat my Maui time. But I did have to finish. I finally got downtown and had the finish in sight. I was glaring at people without realizing I was glaring. I was exhausted, but I kept moving. Just keep moving.
 
I made it to Wyoming (Avenue)!
They announced me as I approached the finish, and got my name right (one thing I will miss about the southwest). I came in at 5 hours 30 minutes. J was right there, again. He was still worn out from running his best marathon ever, so we hobbled over to the free beer.

They were out of chocolate milk, and burritos, so I had a beer and a banana. Not the greatest combo, but it didn’t matter at that point. J was pretty beat up from his run, and we were both hungry. I drove us, yes, after my second marathon, I drove us to Sonic for a burger and tots. And cherry limeade. It was super delicious. Then we both napped.
 
BEER!
The El Paso Marathon was crap, really, and we only did it because we are getting ready to leave here (finally). However, I feel that after finishing 2 marathons I can officially call myself a marathoner. I even got a tshirt. It says “26.2 some runners go all the way.” It’s amazingly comfy and I want to wear it all the time.
 
Yes, it's the bathroom mirror, and that's the tag in my armpit
This post is much shorter than the last one, but I just really don’t have much to say about this race. I finished, and that’s as good as it gets this time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

OMG! MAUI!

My husband has become a much better blogger than me. This is a good thing, since he is making a move in his job that requires writing skills, so he’s getting his practice in.

This afternoon I’m filling in at the Harvest Box pick-up location, which is the perfect time to force myself to get some writing done. I am behind. Waaaaaaaaaay behind.

So in January, J and I went to the island of Maui, Hawaii. We had been to Hawaii 7 years ago with J’s family, staying on Oahu. This time was just us. We stayed in the little town of Lahaina at a gorgeous little B&B, the Garden GateBed & Breakfast. They served breakfasts of baked goods, fresh fruit, yogurt with local granola, coffee and POG (pineapple, orange, guava) juice. We knew it was time to go down to eat when IZ would play on the garden speakers. Yes, we ate in the garden. It is the Garden Gate B&B, after all. The resident pets greeted us most every time we came back to our room.

the view

We had a view of the ocean from our lanai, and drove along a coastal highway to get anywhere.  January is prime whale watching season, but I remembered our “whale watching” cruise 7 years earlier, when all I saw was a glimpse of whale back. This was completely different.

You could watch whales breaching while stuck in traffic. You could see spouts while turning a corner. There’s a turn-off where you can talk to a whale specialist and they chart the whale sightings. It was amazing. I love whales. We saw whales EVERY DAY.

One of the first adventures was a trip to a local public beach. The B&B owner recommended one to us, and we borrowed some snorkeling gear from their storage room (that’s what it’s there for!).  We snorkeled just off the beach where everyone was playing in the water. There’s actually a reef right there. Fish, sea urchins, even an eel.

snorkel-rific

But then… Oh, then…. Then we saw the sea turtle. Someone was trying to point him out to us, but I couldn’t find him. J was the one who spotted him, and tugged on my arm while pointing excitedly at the guy. Sea turtle. He looked so cool, so calm, so relaxed. He barely seemed to move his flippers to glide through the water. I followed him for quite a ways, even after J had to take a break. He knew I was enthralled and just watched me from above.

You guys. I swam with a wild sea turtle. Seriously. A. SEA. TURTLE. I was just a little excited. I think that really was my favorite part of the whole trip.

So, we also rented some road bikes. J had this crazy idea to ride up to the peak of the volcano Haleakala. There’s paved road the whole way and a national park at the top. This means he went from toes-in-the-ocean sea level up to the 10,000 foot peak. On a bike. I drove the car. I actually had my bike as well, but didn’t find any stretch of that road I was confident enough to ride. J made it, and made it back down as well. The down trip took only 15 minutes longer than me in the car. Yeah.

view from the top

Then we road together along the coastal highway. The same highway we would run on later. We road from Lahaina to Kihei, ate lunch, and rode back. They have amazing bike lanes along both sides of the highway, and the drivers were so nice compared to what we’re used to! We were confused when a bunch of people started pulling over to the shoulder, blocking the bike lane, but then realized why. Whales. More whales.
 
lunch!
We did some running, too, of course. A trail run up the mountain behind the town gave us a great view of Lahaina and the ocean. You could see some of the other Islands on a clear day. Hell, you could see them from our lanai! We ate out, of course, but found some amazing food. Seafood, burgers, pizza, beer. We did a luau that claimed to be the most traditional luau on the island. It was pretty amazing. Open bar (small drinks), lots of dancing and storytelling, and buffet. We sat at the traditional seating, on the ground at low tables.

Now let’s get to the whole reason we were there in the first place. The Maui OceanfrontMarathon, or MOM. J and I trained up for this and were eager to do it. We got up super early on marathon day so we could take a school bus down the start point, 26 miles away. It was still dark when we started the run.

We ran from Wailea, through the town of Kihei, past the wharf in Maalaea, along the highway where I saw whales yet again, and into Lahaina. The race finished downtown at an oceanfront park. Twenty-six point two miles. That’s 26.2 for those who don’t like to read.

This was my first marathon. I did the 20 mile training run (on a very windy day, no less) and felt well prepared. The MOM had regular water stations with food, so we didn’t worry too much about carrying fuel or water. I watched the moon setting over the ocean, and reflected on it. It was too dark to get a clear picture, but I don’t know if I will ever forget that view. My phone started going wacky with 15 miles to go. Siri kept coming on and asking me what I wanted. I chewed her out and finally restarted my phone. While running.

The water station at the halfway point had otter pops, and it tasted amazing. With the sun up, I was getting pretty hot. It had been in the 70s to 80s all week, and being on the ocean gave us humidity that my body had been loving up to this point. There was a tunnel carved out of the mountain that we ran through. We ran down back sea level and finally got some shade from the monkey pod trees. There are small beach parks along the highway leading into Lahaina, and they were full of people.

Tunnel!!

At mile 20, 6.2 miles left to go, I hit “the wall.” I expected this since I had only trained to 20 miles. I was hot, sweaty, and tired, but had to keep going. I hurried up a bit whenever I saw shade coming. I made sure to stop at every water station and drink at least 1 cup of fluids, and eat something at most of them. I told the people with watermelon chunks that they were my heros. My running hat got put on backwards to cover my neck, which was getting rather uncomfortably hot from the sun. I walked quite a bit.

Finally, I got a text from J. He was done and waiting on me. He asked me to let him know when I hit the last mile, so I sent him a quick picture of the 1 mile marker (the markers counted down) when I reached it. Just 1 more mile to survive. I tried to run a little more in this last mile, and although it was hard, I managed to finish at a run. They were announcing finishers as we approached and the announcer called me Charles. The lady next to him corrected him at the same time as I was yelling my name at him. He apologized.  I didn’t care. I was done.  I finished in 5 hours and 26 minutes.
 
such a welcome sight
J was waiting for me. He had gone to the car to fetch our bags so I would have my post-race stuff. He handed me water and hugged me. He took my pic at the finish line. He took me to get food (bananas, cookies) and even let me prop my feet on his shoulders when I lay down to put my feet up. We were both sore, and very tired, but hungry, so we walked/hobbled down the street a few blocks to the burger joint. A big burger, good beer, and French fries really hit the spot.
 
the finish area - note the exhaustion in my face
That evening, after a nice shower and nap, we took a sunset dinner cruise with other marathoners and their families. The whales were happy to see us, and got so close that you could hear them breathing. It was the perfect finish to that day.
 
WHALE!!
The next day was recovery. We went to the beach. We lay in the sun and the shade. We played in the ocean and looked at fish. It was amazing, and we felt much better heading back to our room that night.


I am in love with Maui, although I have yet to see the other islands (except Oahu). We would love to visit there regularly, drink the local coffee, eat the local fruits and vegetables with our seafood, and play in the ocean. We will definitely be back.
Coffee fields!