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.

 

5 Keys to Happy, Healthy Travel

Whether your flight is early, late, short or long, it takes a lot out of us. Every time i see a plane land at the airport, it unleashes a hoard of tired, hungry, cranky, and dehydrated zombie-like humans that look effing miserable. If you’re trying to sustain a healthy lifestyle, flying can be even more daunting.

I’ve done my fair share of travel, and standby travel at that – so I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way. These 5 steps are easy, cheap, and help you stay happy and healthy no matter where you’re headed to.

1. BYOB

I know this one seems obvious, but it’s sooo easy to forget to byob when it’s 5am and you’re headed to the airport. Plus, airlines seem to barely even hand out water these days. I bring a full water and chug it on the way through security, then fill it back up and sip on that sizzard throughout the flight.

2. Bring Electrolytes

Not only do I bring a water bottle, I also bring an empty shaker bottle with an electrolyte packet to drink. Depending on how long the flight is, you might want to bring more than one. My personal rule is one packet per 5 hours of flight.

3. Snacks on SNACKS

Back in the good ole days, the airlines used to feed you. While they’re forced to feed you on international flights, you’re lucky if you get more than a packet of five mini-pretzels and 4 oz of water flying domestic. So, I keep myself stacked with items that won’t get taken away at security. My faves are fruits, veggies, hummus packs, Lara bars, protein packets, and nuts. I would not recommend bringing any nut butter – mine always gets taken away. Sad.

4. Melatonin is LIFE

I used to have the hardest time sleeping on planes, but was scared to take any sleep aid because most of them give me terrifying nightmares. Which, naturally, I don’t want to experience in the air.

However, personally, melatonin is my bestie during times of travel. On a 12-hour flight to china, I spaced them out so nicely that I slept for eight beautiful hours straight. For long flights, I like to take two 3-5mg tablets at first, and then take 1 every 4 or 5 hours as the flight goes on.

5. Bring a Book/Journal/Planner

I’m not sure why, but traveling – even en route – brings about a lot of clarity. There’s been many, many times when my electronics die or I’ve exhausted my playlists or the movie selection is lame (or not free) and I’ve wished I brought a damn book. Flights are a great place to plan out your day/week/trip/life, or catch up on a great book. BRING IT ALL.

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.

NB Marathon

Coconut Chase 8K & Injured Struggles


I had an awesome time at the Coconut Chase 8K last weekend, where I breezed through two easy, beautiful loops along Sand Island’s beautiful coast. Locals tend to think of Sand Island as the greasy, industrial peninsula that is is, for the most part. Unbeknownst to me, there’s a picturesque recreation area that runs along the southern tip that’s a runner’s idyllic dream.


I felt very on pace that day and watched the revived few miles fly by. Since the race was so short, I never had the deep sense of panic that surfaces during the early miles of half and full marathons. This was my first 8K and I felt strong, sexy and fast.

After I got my results, I was ecstatic to learn I placed 11th in my age/gender group and hit between an 8:30-8:57 mile pace the whole time. For me, that’s huge. I’m a naturally slower paced runner, clocking in 9:30-10 minute miles with pride and effort. So, I’m definitely doing my happy dance over this one 🙂


However, said happy dance is difficult given the injury that occurred very shortly after crossing the finish line. In typical all-or-nothing fashion, I went to play soccer and totally rolled my ankle. So much that I missed work and found it warm, buzzing, and swollen since that fateful wrong step.

I’ve spent the last few days going crazy not being able to run. I have another short but sweet 4.4-miler on Old Pali Road coming up on September 10th, followed quickly by my favorite race on the island – the XTerra Gunstock Ranch Trail Half Marathon in October. SO, I have a lot of healing and training to figure out in the very limited meantime.

My plan is to replace my runs with swimming and stationary bike workouts, coupled with physical therapy and weight lifting. Hopefully, I’ll be able to have more happy finish line moments in the next few months!

Happy Healing,
Nicole

Half Marathon Training & Coconut Chase 8K!

As all runners know, the onset of fall means one thing, and one thing only: RACE SEASON. The marathon organizers were kind enough to at least schedule most of them in the fall, during the cooler, breezier, and run-friendly weather that autumn brings. Not to mention the magical experience of running through a cacophony of swirling red, orange and yellow leaves. Even here on the island, where the leaves don’t change, the weather sure does. It’s cooler and windier and way less intense than the terrible month of August. Ugh.

Normally, I’m gearing up for the Marine Corps Marathon, which I’ve sadly decided to forgo this year. In January, I suffered a difficult back injury that kept recurring due to my refusal to stop playing soccer and rest. So, as injuries tend to do, I ended up unable to do anything for quite some time, and missed the critical buildup period for my MCM training plan 😦

Instead, I’ve spent the summer building back up to my normal strength and speed and have signed up for a litany of fun, short-distance races throughout the fall. The first being the Coconut Chase 8K along Sand Island, which kicks off this Sunday (yay!). It will be followed by a buildup of races each month, ending at the Honolulu Marathon in December:

  • Coconut Chase 8K (August)
  • Old Pali Road 5-miler (September)
  • XTerra Gunstock Trails Half Marathon (October)
  • Val Nolasco Half Marathon (November)
  • Honolulu Marathon (December)

I’m thrilled to test out the short-distance waters and build my confidence back up after being set back by such a tough injury. I’m prepping right now for this weekend, which will be my first short-distance race I’ve ever done. Surprisingly, I’ve stuck to full and half marathons and not really dabbled in anything less. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve started to consider smaller races and shorter distances.

Wish me luck on my race this weekend! It’ll be along the beautiful shoreline of Sand Island, an easy, hot, and flat terrain.

Happy Running!
Nicole

Half Marathon Training!


It’s that time of year again – when the island weather is cool, soccer is in full swing, and my life is filled with short, beautiful runs to get ready for half marathon season. Half Marathon training is my very favorite, because the runs are short and easy and don’t totally disrupt my life or turn me into a nap queen the way marathon training does.

My next race is the Hapalua Half Marathon, an awesome event that kicks off in downtown Honolulu and winds its way around diamond head and ends at Kapiolani Park. It’s one of my fave races here in Hawaii. It’s on April 30, 2017, so I have about 12 beautiful weeks to train!

Here’s my training plan:

training-plan

After sending my plan to some friends that are also in training, they all asked the same question: why are you using a beginner’s training program?

My answer: because LIFE is hard. A beginner’s plan like this one is easy, flexible, and – most importantly – it works. I can control how fast or slow I run, where to incorporate intervals, and it’s simple enough for it to work in with my soccer schedule.


I encourage everyone, honestly, to stick with an easy, simple, open, adjustable, and flexible training plan, regardless of what race or event its for. Why? Because if it’s not easy, simple, open, adjustable and flexible, it won’t work with your unique schedule, circumstances & life.

Keep it simple, folks! It does work.

Anyways, I’m very excited to be back on a training plan  and on the road and trails. It’s been beautiful having a break, but I’m more than ready to be in racing shape 🙂

Happy training!

Nikki

 

 

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

Healthy Holidays: RW RunStreak!


The holidays are my absolute favorite time of year. Forget summer & spring – I’m all about fall and winter. That’s probably because ‘fall and winter’ here on the islands means nothing more than bigger waves, more rainfall, and cooler breezes. Heck, it might even dip below 70 degrees – time to bring out my only pair of sweatpants and curl up with my pup for some hot chocolate & chill.

Speaking of hot chocolate, the highlight and pitfall of the holiday season is the food. It’s an overwhelming thirty nine day span between Thanksgiving and New Year’s that’s chock-full of eating, drinking, and spending tons of time with friends and family. While that’s great, it’s also tough on the training plan of any runner or fit chick that works hard to stay healthy and happy year round.

This year, I’m committed to eating whatever I desire during the holidays. To achieve that balance and battle the stress and anxiety of letting loose, though, I’m doing the Runner’s World Run StreakRunner’s World Run StreakRunner’s World Run Streak! I’ll be running at least a mile a day, every day, during that pivotal time frame between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Which means I can start the year healthy, happy, strong, and in food freedomland.


To join the run streak, just run a mile each day for 39 days and tag your posts with #RWRunStreak. Your mileage can be just a slow, single mile, or a brutal HIIT mile, or a six-miler done at race pace uphill. Totally up to you.

Happy Healthy Holidays!

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!

Marine Corps Marathon – Part 1!


Last weekend, my dad and I flew out to Washington, D.C. for the Marine Corps Marathon. In 2015, we completed the MCM as our very first marathon ever – both individually and together. It was one of the coolest and most touching thing we’ve ever done. So when registration for 2016 rolled around, my dad hopped on it immediately and bought us two kickass VIP registrations.

These beauties include two registrations, a 5k run and brunch the day before, a pasta carbo-load dinner the night before, a VIP bus to the start line and – my very favorite – VIP PORTA POTTYS. Nope, this is not a drill!


We both started training hard from the start, logging or pace and miles and always checking in on each other. Sadly, about halfway through my dad totally blew out his knee. I mean, possible surgery status.

We patiently waited for his knee to heal, but it just didn’t 😦 my dad was devastated, and we were both unsure if the race would even happen. It was our special thing, and it didn’t look like it was going to occur.

However, after tons of back and forth, we chose to DO IT. I was running, dad was supporting, and we were going to make the best of it. (or, as my dad said, he’d be at the bar until I crossed the finish line).


Let me say – WE HAD A TOTAL BLAST! My dad is always so much fun to travel with, and we made the most of our trip. We flew in to D.C. and hit the 5k and brunch in the morning.

One of the major perks of our VIP status was staying in the super swanky Gaylord Resort right on the Potomac River. All glossed floors, marble and gold, the place gleams from top to bottom. The coolest part is the 19-story atrium, that houses the u-shaped hotel and boasts a small village at its ground floor. Yep, you read that right – a brick road that winds down from the lobby into a cute little village of cottage-like shops, bars and cafes.


The next morning, I absolutely loved the 5K! It was a really fun, gorgeous run along the Potomac in perfect weather. The air was golden and green and crisp, and I made some friends along the route. It was a great way to stretch out my legs before the marathon.


The real treat was brunch, though – we heard an awesome speech from Bart Yasso, the Chief Running Officer at Runner’s World! I definitely freaked out a little – I’ve been reading his articles for years.



We took some time to run around D.C. and explore the city. I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my Dad, so it was really sweet to just walk around and catch up on everything going on in our lives.


The night before the race, we headed back to the hotel just in time for our carbo-load dinner. We dined on big plates of salad and gluten free pasta and cookies and bananas. We met some other runners and heard an incredible, touching, moving speech from Native American activist and Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Mills.


It was the perfect speech before a race – especially a notoriously hilly & challenging one. I went to sleep more than ready to tackle the course 🙂