Training Season Begins, Uncertainly

IMG_5483Man, these are uncertain times. We have a worldwide pandemic, economic shutdown, and mandatory 14-day quarantine for all incoming visitors to Hawaii. This means that, in essence, we are trapped on our little island in the sun. We have less than 600 square miles we can roam around in, with no means of travel outside of flight. On the bright side, our 600 square miles are jam-packed with trailed mountain peaks and wave-trimmed beaches. We do have our perks.

I wasn’t planning on running any big races this year, especially in the wake of COVID-19. But this entire pandemic has brought an unprecedented level of stress and lack of control into our neatly-tucked lives. We’re small business owners that should be ramping up for summer, and instead we are praying each day to just make it through to the next, and hopeful that there will  be  a summer to ramp up for.

I started running again a few weeks ago for my mental health, which has been tough to hold on to during this crisis. Last week, though, I decided to download a training plan, get my training-meal staples, and make it happen. I slugged through one decent and two terrible, challenging runs that I somehow managed to finish. Yet today, I woke up on rest day anxious to hit the road again as soon as I can.

IMG_5446Since this is a tough year anyway, I figured my next race should be tougher, too. I’m tired of hot, flat, mundane race courses that all wind along the HNL Marathon’s out-and-back model. I’ve ran the same race 100 times under different names and distances, and have started to get into the trails.

I’ve chosen H.U.R.T. Hawaii’s Tantalus Triple Trek, a grueling, arguably vertical 30-mile trail race in September, as my dream race this year. It’s a small pool of runners, but I’m hoping to snag a registration and be able to race one of my favorite trails this fall. It’ll be my first trail race longer than a half marathon, and my very first ultra. But if there’s any year to do it, it’s this one.

 

Week 1 of Marathon Training!

marathon memeAs always, marathon training did not exactly get off to a smooth start this year (suspiciously, just like every year so far) but hopes are still high. I kicked off the first of my 12-week training plan to get ready for the fabulous Honolulu Marathon on December 10th. I’m all about supporting my city and running on my own turf, through a course I know all too well by the time race day rolls around.

This marathon will be lucky number 5, and I’ve got myself on a pretty fun plan of preparatory races leading up to the big day. I’ve got my absolute favorite – the Xterra Gunstock Trails Half Marathon – at the end of October, as well as the Val Nolasco Half Marathon – which mimics the final leg of the real deal – in November.


I’m coming off a sprained ankle a few weeks back, so I’m treading carefully and doing my super boring ankle exercises when I actually remember to do them. On the bright side, my first long run – eight hot & steamy miles around Honolulu – went by super quick & easy. So, there’s that.

Anyways, I’m using this super flexible plan from He and She Eat Clean to train. I chose it because it’s 12 weeks (sweet!) and works in tons of cross-training, which is the only way I can mentally handle preparing for a marathon.

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Honolulu Marathon 2016!

This past Sunday I woke up bright & early to take on the Honolulu Marathon. The start line was a quick ten minute drive from my apartment, I didn’t have to hop on a plane, and I know the course all too well. The Chinatown – Waikiki – Kapiolani Park – Kahala Loop is the favored long run course for anyone and everyone on the island training for any and every marathon. I know the hills, the heat, the downhills and ebb and flow of the concrete jungle the course winds through. However, I still didn’t exactly feel ready – or all that enthused – the night before.


I trained hard and heavy for the first three months in preparation for my Marine Corps Marathon I did in October. Since then, I’ve barely even hit the pavement aside from a ten mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving and a few easy paced five and seven milers here and there. And because I didn’t really care, and figured I’d struggle anyways, I decided that going wine tasting with some friends in Kailua and then downing a few beers at my boyfriend’s office Christmas party was a great idea, because f*ck it – why not?!


Well, surprisingly, it all worked out fine. The race was totally ok, albeit a bit painful. I’ve been extremely lucky in that my other marathons just flew by in a blur. Miles blended together and I felt like I flew through them in batches of five relatively unscathed.


This marathon was different. For the first time, I felt each and every mile. I felt like I actually did run a full 26.2, exactly, to the step and second. For the most part, I hated it. I never bonked or hit a wall, but I never soared through a single stretch of the race either. It was slow, grueling, and packed with people. It was hot and muggy without even a semblance of a breeze. I spent the majority of the race bobbing and weaving through a thick crowd since the Honolulu Marathon apparently doesn’t believe in corrals. I spent quite a bit of it biting my tounge as well, and keeping my temper in check as I was cut off, stepped on, and physically pushed by cute little old ladies and their sharp, bony elbows.


Regardless of all of these facts, I had a fantastic time. I realize it makes no sense, but blame it on the runner’s high – no matter how miserable the race, we always want more. It’s the feeling at the end of the marathon that runners remember most vividly, even though it’s a teeny fraction of the time we spent suffering to get there.

The Honolulu Marathon will never be my favorite race, and I really wouldn’t recommend it. However, it’s in my city and on my turf and it’s impossible not to do it each year I’m still on the island. So, most likely, I’ll do it next  year with the same lackluster attitude and general ambivalence and inability to simply stay away.


Plus, the medals are pretty cool 🙂

Happy racing!

Nikki

Marine Corps Marathon – Part 2!


I woke up the morning of my second Marine Corps Marathon well rested, hungry, and a teensy bit nervous. I had only gotten about two-thirds of the way through my training plan, I hadn’t gotten over 16 miles on my long runs, and I hadn’t ran much in the past few months. Soccer games and hikes? Yes, ma’am! Running, though? Not so much.


I was so antsy and anxious at the start line the previous year, but this time around it was more like, meh – hopefully I finish without a major injury. My no-effs given mentality was totally freeing and, as it turned out, effective 🙂


I hung out with my dad in the VIP runner tent for about an hour. The tent had a glorious buffet of energy gels, Clif Bars, bagels, cream cheese, bananas, apples and coffee. As in normal life, I stuck to banana, half a bagel, and some coffee to hold me over till the start.

I made a friend at the bar the night before (pro tip: beer has electrolytes!) and we met up at the start line. We expected to be around the same pace, so we linked up and took off together. We stuck for the hilly first eight miles, but I wanted to go slower and he wanted to speed up. This wasn’t my first rodeo, and I’ve made the mistake of starting out too fast – no Bueno.


Despite my lack of training, the miles flew by quickly. The crowd was awesome as always, with especially riveting signs rooted in the craziness of the current election. There were rock and jazz bands, spectators in full costumes, and – best of ALL – a female firefighter running the entire marathon in her full gear. GIRL POWER, YEA!

I kept seeing my dad with his awesome sign at regular intervals, cheering me on and telling me I was getting close to the bridge. The bridge is the cutoff at mile 19, which you have to reach in four hours or else get kicked off the course and ride home on the loser bus with a drill sergeant. I’m not sure if that’s actually true, but my dad swears that’s the case 🙂


Finally, I got to the bridge. I was so excited that I ran up and hugged my dad and almost cried. I was DOING IT. Without fancy gear or trackers, without anyone to run with, and despite the fact that I had every excuse in the book to opt out or quit – here I was. Proudly pushing through.


The rest of the race I ran simply because I wanted to be DONE. I let myself walk for 30 seconds at every mile marker, and found myself weaving through a sea of walkers for the last 5 miles. I hit the wall – the biggest, baddest, meanest wall I’ve ever encountered – right at mile 25. Shit.

I’ve gotten lucky in that I’ve never really bonked. I’ve gotten tired, or bored, or was in pain, but I never got to the point where I felt like I couldn’t continue. That last mile felt like hell on earth. It was the longest and worst part of the entire thing.
By the time I rolled around to the VERY UPHILL finish line (who did that???) I was totally gassed. It was an immense accomplishment and relief to finish. Plus, I found out that I hit a PR – 5:15:05. HELL YEA!


I am so happy and blessed to participate in this kickass event for a great, wonderful cause that I wholeheartedly believe in.

I can’t wait till next year 🙂

OORAH!

I’m (Virtually) Running the United Relay!

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I’m flattered to be joining my SweatPink sisters for the United Relay of America, in association with AfterShokz Headphones! One of the biggest coast-to-coast relays in the country, the relay is broken up into three teams – Red, White & Bluerom Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles and ‘relay’ across the U.S. and end in New York City!

Since I’m in Hawaii, I’ll be virtually joining the race from the beautiful island of Oahu for the second stage of the Blue Team, taking off from Pallisades Park in Santa Monica to Hancock Park in Los Angeles, near my hometown. Go Blue Team!!

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I will be watching the relay from here on Sunday, May 8th and take off for the 1o-mile loop when my mainland coutnerparts do. I’m stoked to participate in such a big event that supports a breadth of wonderful charities and spreads awareness about health, fitness and generosity nationwide.

Help me raise money for Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles by clicking here!

The United Relay is not your average race – it truly brings people together and talking about what we can do to make our country better 🙂 I am so blessed to be able to participate in this event through Aftershokz! If you’d like to run, receive 30% OFF your entry fee with this link!

http://www.unitedrelay.org/?p=30

Happy Running!!

 

Hapalua Half Marathon Recap!

Toeing the line of the Hapalua Half Marathon last Sunday, I was   convinced that this was not going to be a good race. I was coming back from being sick; I hadn’t really trained; I just wasn’t feeling too confident. I’m starting to get used to the dreary, early-morning excitement of race days, but this wasn’t one of them. Instead of normal butterflies and focus, I had a heavy, distracted sense of dread.

As the race kicked off towards the iconic statue of Duke Hahanamoku, my steps got a little lighter and easier. I was so distracted by my bad attitude I didn’t even realize until mile 5 that I was going faster than my normal pace and was almost halfway done. Say what?!! I started to do the math between my watch and mileage and recognize the fact that I might even p.r. – and I wasn’t even tyring. I was plodding along while mentally complaining at a pace faster than I’d ever ran a half before.

  
After the halfway mark I enjoyed every step. I even picked up my pace until I hit the hill of death that was, for some terrible, awful, unknown reason, at mile NINE. Everyone was staggering and walking their way up the hill, but I hit short steps & breaths and powered through the crowd and caught the tail end of the next group. I sailed down Diamond Head and ran the last mile hard. Nestled between Diamond Head and the crowded Waikiki Beach, I finished the Hapalua at a 2:15:05 – a pace of about 10:20 (according to my results!)

  
I’m stoked and slightly shocked that I clocked a new p.r. without much training, confidence, or optimism. I guess it means, if anything, that staying healthy and fit does make a big difference in your performance. I have another half along the same course at the end of May, so I’m shooting to train and come in under two hours. As a slightly slow (and former very slow) runner, a sub-two hour time would mean the w o r l d to me and my thick, soccer legs.
Happy racing!

Nikki

 

Marine Corps Marathon 2016!

  

 I’m stoked to announce that my father and I will be running the Marine Corps Marathon 2016 for the second year in a row! Last year, we embarked on our very first marathon for each of us and ran into every wall imaginable. Mental, emotional, physical, spiritual – you name it, we faced it. Needless to say, we learned a lot of lessons along the way.

This year, we’ll be lacing up wiser, stronger and better trained. We’re drafting a pre-training plan to build up miles slowly and smartly before we toe the start line on October 30th. After last year, we promised we would NOT be doing this again next year. Yet here we are, beyond excited to train together and run together in one of the best races in the country. Plus, I’ll be running with one of my favorite people on this planet.

  
I’m also excited to get back into a solid training plan. I’ve been playing a lot of soccer and running and working out on my own, but I love the changes my life and body take on as I tackle a training plan for months on end. I feel strong, sexy, happy and healthy – and find myself loving healthy food choices even more than usual.

I’m in a new apartment with a brand-spanking-new city to run in. So, congrats to everyone around the world that made it into the MCM Lottery – happy running!