Interested in hearing what goes on in the mind of a life coach/aerobics instructor? While it can be a bizarre place, it's always entertaining...mostly at my expense. Witness my struggle/dance/frustration/celebration with change as I stray out of my comfort zone and encounter other brave and interesting souls along the way.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Yikes! Such a Long Time Away

Yeah, I'm not even going to attempt to give any explanations or excuses. suffice it to say that I'm back and committed to posting several times a week.

Enough said.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Odyssey--Perplexing

As I make my way through Kahala and prepare myself for the return trip around Diamond Head and the final 2 miles of this journey, I am struggling a bit physically and a lot mentally. I actually had to pull over to the side of the road at one point to stretch my quadriceps thinking that would relieve some of my pain. (It didn't.)

You might be wondering, "Geez, did this woman actually train for this event? Why was she so unprepared?"

But that's the perplexing thing--I did train. In fact, less than a month before the marathon, I ran 24 miles without the benefit of aid stations and cheering sections and I felt fine. I was barely sore the next day!

And because I had so carefully carbo-loaded, I wasn't bonking as I had done on my 22 mile training run back in October. I had enough fuel in my body.

I really do blame that descent on the backside of Diamond Head. In the pale grey light just before dawn, it looked deceptively shallow. And now I was paying for it.

And here was Diamond Head Road once more, looming in the distance. It wasn't going uphill that I feared, but heading down really worried me. At least I had the consolation of knowing that, once at the bottom, the finish line would only be a mile away.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Odyssey--Kahala

At Mile 22, I finally got off the brutal Kalanianaole Highway and turned down Kealaolu Road into Kahala. As I slowed to a walk at the aid station to grab a cup of water from a volunteer, I must have had the most dejected look on my face. As I locked eyes with the guy holding out the water, he stared back and then said fervently, "C'mon, you can do it! Don't give up!" It must have been written all over my face. All I could think about was giving up.

Buoyed by his encouragement, I managed to get back on track. As I ran down Kahala Avenue, past the multi-million dollar homes, I began to bribe myself with all sorts of rewards (mostly food) if only I could finish the race. At one point, I jogged past a house whose inhabitants set up tables out front with cups. They yelled out, "Free beer!" The guys I was running near and I managed a weak laugh. One of them said, "I wish!" I thought it was a joke. Turns out that my brother, who was a few miles behind me, verified that they weren't lying. Not only were they handing out Dixie cups of beer, people were taking them up on their offer and empty cups littered the ground.

Only 3 miles left, but it seemed more like 100.

Here I am in the white tank top, with my best smile of the moment.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Odyssey--Mile 18

After cruising past the Mile 13 marker on the Kalanianaole Highway, I was feeling pretty optimistic. My half marathon time was 2:04 and I thought, "Wow, I can do it! The start was so slow that if I pick up my pace a little bit, I'm sure I can make up the 4 minutes and come in under 4 hours." Haha, how naive and hopeful I was! I had no idea the toll that Diamond Head, miles behind me, would take before the finish.

At the turn around point, I started to feel quads. Just a little tight at first and then actual pain as I began the return trip towards Honolulu against a slight headwind. Tip sheets had advised against taking the run down Diamond Head road too quickly and I thought I had played it conservatively. But by Mile 18 I was having serious doubts about even finishing. The pounding that my legs took on the way downhill had done it's damage and the end was no where in sight. I had to stop looking at the faces of the runners going in the opposite direction towards Hawaii Kai because so many of them revealed the pain and dismay that I was feeling inside. Thank goodness I had my mp3 player to console me with soothing tunes, picked to keep me calm.

Still with more than 8 miles left to go and a reunion with Diamond Head looming ahead of me, my giddy dreams of running a sub-4 marathon flew out the window.

Please, I prayed, let me finish.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Odyssey--Darth Vader, Santa Claus, & That Japanese Eggplant

What amazed me was that my brother and I took pains to make sure we had the lightest, most comfortable running gear and yet I was running next to people in some of the most bizarre costumes. The playboy bunny that I ran with for a while got lots of attention, believe me. My brother said that he ran next to the giant Japanese eggplant that we saw at the start. His sightings also included men dressed in full Darth Vader and Yoda costumes, complete with capes and masks. I saw various incarnations of Santa Claus as well as someone dressed as Pikachu, two Japanese men wearing what looked like sort of cloth diapers that left nothing to the imagination as far as their posteriors were concerned, and the Statue of Liberty.

Best of all is a man my brother saw who ran the entire marathon in traditional Hawaiian garb, carrying a huge wooden paddle, and barefoot. I never saw him, but he must have passed me at some point because I saw his picture in the paper the next morning along with his finishing time. He beat me by five minutes. Hmm, maybe next time I'll have to try training barefoot...

The Odyssey--Mile 13

My good friend Mary called me the day before the race to give me some advice. As someone who had run a few marathons herself, I had asked her opinion numerous times during my months of training.

On December 11th, she said to me, "Remember, when you get to Mile 13 say to yourself, 'Only 13 miles left to run.'"

I replied, "You mean say, 'Hey, this is great...only 13 miles left!' instead of 'Ohmigod, I still have 13 miles left!' right?"

"That's it. You're ready."

By the time I caught a glimpse of the the Mile 13 marker, I had run around Diamond Head, seem the sun rise from Kahala, and cheered for the women who led the race and were already coming back from the turnaround point in Hawaii Kai.

Even so, I said to myself, "Wow, only 13 miles left!"

And I actually meant it.

The Odyssey--Thirst Aid

The crowd started to spread out around Mile 2 and finally there was some room to run. Race day conditions were fantastic. Running legend, Alberto Salazar, would later say that these were the best conditions he had ever seen for this race. The temperatures were in the high 60s and the humidity was relatively low for Hawaii. This had been a major concern of mine--how to keep from getting dehydrated during the 4 hours of running? Back in California's winter I had learned to carry water with me and had even invested in a nerdy, but necessary, runner's belt which held a water bottle and a gel bottle. But I knew that Hawaiian winters were very different and that when the sun rose around 6:45am, the heat would rise and take its toll.

At Mile 3 I noticed people suddenly veering to either the left or the right. And for the first time I saw one of the Aid Stations that would sustain me for the next few hours. A rulebook had advised moving to the last table of the aid stations to get water and to keep moving. This was easier said than done as it was still dark and bodies moved in a random fashion. Discarded paper cups littered the ground along with a considerable amount of spilt water. (The women's defending champion would fall navigating through an aid station and finish the race in second place, bloody and bruised.)

I got in and out of the first station rather awkwardly but safe and felt a boost of energy from the cold water. These stations popped up every 2 miles or so and I began to search for them on the horizon just so I could have an excuse to walk a few yards while sipping water or the Japanese sports drink they handed out, Amino Value. Later stations also had my favorite ammenity: huge sponges soaked in trashcans filled with ice water. What a blessing those were! I also saw dip sticks with a glob of Vaseline at some stations for those experiencing the chafing that comes from too many hours spent doing such a repetitive motion.

Literally 1000s of volunteers stood along the route at these aid stations and they always had an encouraging word. The race could not happen without them.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The Odyssey--Mile 1

We were running, but barely. The street was so densely packed with runners and walkers that I had difficulty maneuvering through the crowd. Somehow, even though we were supposed to line up according to our projected total marathon time (ie-less than 3 hours, 3-4, etc.) there were people who had lined up near the front who were clearly not elite runners. Some of them were even walking half a mile into it! These walkers would create a log jam of bodies and often I had to slow to a walk myself to keep from crashing into someone else.

Pretty chaotic but no time to panic and no use wasting energy getting annoyed.

I did enjoy running through the normally hustling city streets of downtown Honolulu with not a car in sight. And massive amount of the Christmas lights glowed from every building as if to light our way.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Odyssey--The Drums of Doom

The air was electric with anticipation. Someone, somewhere on a microphone started the countdown...5, 4, 3, 2, 1! BANG! Huge fireworks went off over our heads. The booms and crackles were so loud and the glittering, popping stars were so beautiful that I got goose bumps, or as they say in Hawaii, chicken skin. Immediately, the throng began moving forward.

As we walked towards the starting line, which at this point we couldn't even see, we heard the deep, resounding throb of someone beating enormous taiko drums. My brother looked at me and said, "Kind of sounds like the drums of doom." Indeed it felt a bit like we were inching towards Mount Doom in the Land of Mordor.

Then as we rapidly moved forward, still at a walk, I saw two huge towers (Two Towers?) erected at the starting line. From the top of one of the towers, a tiny Japanese woman was waving and yelling into a microphone, something in Japanese. (Remember, over 60% of the runners are from Japan.) I realized the woman was Mizuki Noguchi, winner of the women's marathon at the Olympics in Athens. Two nights ago we had seen her get mobbed like a rock star at the marathon luau. Her bodyguards had to whisk her away. What an inspiration to hear her encouraging us.

Someone else with a microphone said, "Safe journey, everyone" just before we crossed the starting line and began to run.

We were on our way.