It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

September 30, 2015

JTB Maui Half Marathon Review

This must be just like running in paradise.....oh yes, it,hot paradise!
Pre-race fuel?  Ha, no, fuel for the road to Hana

I would just like to start with - I love Maui!!  This was my second trip to this beautiful island and I am truly in love with this place.  It is beyond magical and Jim and I had the trip of a lifetime.  It's hard to do a race recap without also sharing some of our wonderful experiences...but let's talk about the race first.

We headed out of Kansas City on Thursday and spent the night in LA.  The next morning we boarded a plane for Maui.  We left early, and with the time difference we were actually in Maui by mid morning on Friday.  We got off the plane and I was immediately HOT.  Like so hot.  We had heard they were having record high temps and it was definitely hot and humid. We picked up the rental car and drove the 45 mins to the hotel and checked in to the Sheraton right on the gorgeous Ka'anapali Beach. We headed almost immediately to the race expo after checking in.  
Sea Turtles sunning on Ho'okipa Beach

The expo was small, but they had lots of race specific merchandise for sale, which was good, because I have to say I hated the race shirt.  First, it was not gender specific, which is always a bummer for most women I think.  The shirts are boxy and just do not fit well.  The sleeves literally go down past my I'll never wear the race shirt, but I did pick up a tank and visor that I love!  Jim also got a t-shirt, but we were still in and out of the expo in 15-20 minutes.  

It was difficult to be in Maui and on vacation, but not be able to do or eat much.  We wanted to be very careful not to be sunburned or just too tired, and we really had to watch what we ate through Sat. So that first day and a half we really didn't do much.  My sister and her husband were actually coming to Maui as well because it was her husband's 50th Birthday.  So they arrived Sat night and were there to watch us at the finish line on Sun which was awesome.

We went to be early Sat, which was pretty easy to do since by 8pm in Maui it was like 1 am at home.  It was good we weren't too used to the time change yet because it was an early wake up call for both of us, but Jim even more than me.  The race started at 5 am, but my start was just .4 miles from the hotel. Jim had to be at the shuttle by 3:15-3;45 since he started in a totally different location.
The Black Sand Beach

I left the hotel about 4:15 and headed to the race start.  I expected to see lots of people walking around and was really surprised when I saw no one.  It was a little surreal and even creepy to be walking along an unlit beach board walk at that time of the morning with no one around.  Once I finally reached Whalers Village where the race start was there were plenty of people...tho not as many as I expected.  I hadn't realized how small the race was until just that moment.

I headed straight to the porta potty line, and by the time I got through it, it was time to start.  Let me just say that at 5 am it is dark!  Once we left the dim lights of the hotel area and headed for the highway it was pitch black.  There were no street lights.  You could barely see your hand in front of your face.  This is not a closed course either.  There are 3 lanes of traffic and only one lane was coned off.  So the only occasional light you got was from a car coming up from up on you from behind.  It was actually kind of scary.  I stayed as far to the right as I could, so I wasn't close to the cars, but I was always worried I was going to go off the side of the road and not realize it.  I was worried about potholes or running into the person in front of me.  Yes, it was that dark.  Lots of people were tripping over the cones and the reflectors in the street which you couldn't see at all.  It was also very crowded.  With just one narrow lane to run, you really didn't have room to move around much, so you just ended up going the pace of the other runners for the first mile or 2.
Swimming in a waterfall
Even at 5 am and in the dark it was hot.  I checked the weather at 4 am and it was already 80 degrees with 88% humidity.  It was tough race conditions, and I knew it would only get hotter once that intense morning sun came up.  We had a hot and humid summer in KC, so I think I felt "prepared" to race in hot and humid conditions.  I don't know if it was the cooler weather a few weeks prior to the race, or just simply the intense sun, but the conditions ended up being even more difficult than I thought.
Running along the ocean

It wasn't terrible before the sun came up, but once it was up even a little it seemed like the temps began to climb quickly.  I was completely drenched within just a few miles.  By 6 am the sun was coming up and you could at least see.  By 6:30 it was pretty much daylight.  The course was an out and back so there were a ton of water stops.  There was a water stop about every mile, so over the course of the half I think there were 13 or 14....which was needed.  I never passed up a water stop! The volunteers were great!  They were very enthusiastic and cheered everyone on.

By the time you made it to the turn around it was daylight and you could finally see the gorgeous ocean that you had been running alongside for the first half.  It was really beautiful!!  There is something magical about being able to run and see the ocean.  I was having a great time, but I was really starting to feel the conditions.  I know myself and I do not do well with heat.  I had made my decision before I even started training for this race that it would be a run/walk race for me.  I knew that would be the only way I would get through it.  I had trained all summer with a 2 min run/30 sec walk recovery.  I was keeping this ratio with no problem, but by mile 7 I could feel myself starting to slow down some.  For the first 6 miles I averaged about an 11;45 pace.  At mile 7, I had my first 12 min mil (12:10) and I could feel the heat was starting to get to me.  It was about this time that  lady ran beside me and said "have you ever heard of the Jeff Galloway method?".  I said, yes that's basically what I'm doing.  She asked me my pace, and said oh ok, you are going faster than me.  But for the next mile I found that we would just pass each other back and forth.  During one of these passes, I said what are you doing and she said 1:15/30.  So I was like do you want company?  She said sure.  So we walked/ran together for the rest of the race.  It was great to have someone to chat with.
Pre-race cool and comfortable lol

She was awesome!  She was in her early 60s and this was only her 2nd half marathon ever!!  She was definitely helping me stick with my plan.  She had been in Maui for about 10 days or so prior to the maybe that helped her acclimate a little better because she was from CA and she sure couldn't have been used to that heat and humidity.  We chatted and took a few pics along the way. There was a small rainbow out over the ocean at one point.  She kept saying how much I was helping her..and I was like you are totally helping I guess we were helping each other.  It made the 2nd half of the race go by in a flash.  Before I knew it we were making the last turn and my pace was back down in the 11s.  We were on pace to finish around 2:30ish.  Cheri's first half marathon had been 2;44 - she was going to have  PR in Maui!  We had about half a mile to go and Cheri, said "I'm going to try to run the rest of it out".  Not long after that I had to stop to walk and told her to go on, but she said "no we are in this together" and she stopped and walked with me for a few seconds.  We could finally see the finish line, and then she saw her husband who was cheering her on - and he was so happy for her.  I yelled "she's killing it----she's going to PR".  As we got close to the finish, Cheri still had a lot and took off ahead of me and finished.  She did awesome!

As I crossed the finish line I heard my sister and brother in law yelling for me!  That was really cool!! It was nice to have someone there at the end....especially when you are so far away from home.  The announcer said my name as I crossed the finish line and said I was from  Apparently he didn't know that MO does not mean Montana, but Missouri!

Mile 13 ended up being my fastest of the race at a 10:59 pace...pretty impressive.  Maui also ended up being my fastest half of 2015 with a 2:32 finish.  It was my 6th half this year.  Considering the heat I was shocked.  I figured I would finish around 2:45.  I had been working really, really hard since June to lose weight and get  in better shape and it definitely paid off!!

I found Cheri at the end and we even had pics taken together with our medals.  We exchanged numbers and said our goodbyes.  I then found my sister and waited for Jim to finish the full marathon.  Within 30 minutes of finishing, the heat got even more intense as the sun really came out. I was feeling for everyone still on the course, and was thanking my lucky stars I hadn't been doing the full.  I knew it was going to be difficult for everyone, including Jim.

He ended up finishing slower than his normal time, but that wasn't surprising at all!  He was still 40th overall!  I thought he did amazing!!

After the race we spent 6 more magical days in Maui.  We swam, we sunned, we did the road to Hana, we went to a luau.  We saw the black sand beach, I snorkeled with sea turtles, I swam in a was just the best, most amazing trip ever!  If you ever get the chance and you want a fabulous racecation  - I would highly recommend it!