Yesterday I accomplished a big goal. I ran all the way to Turtle Bay and back. That's twelve miles!
Usually I run before the sun comes up. It's cooler in the morning, fewer people and distractions too. Unfortunately I slept in on Saturday and didn't hit the pavement until 7:53am. I was determined however to get this run in, my last long run before next week's race.
The first mile is always the hardest. I always feel so uncoordinated. My knees knock together, my arms flail, my feet slap the ground and my breathing isn't under control yet. I have to really concentrate during that first mile to align my body leaning forward slightly. I imagine I am a running robot with a metal bar between my knees (so they don't knock). I stiffen up my legs and concentrate on landing not too far forward on my toes and not on my heels but in the sweet spot in the middle of my foot. I try to swing my arms symetrically, relaxing my hands so that they scoop the air towards my hip with each swing.
By the second mile my breathing has become consistent and my heart and lungs have caught up with the new load I am putting on them. During this mile I am typically concentrating on my pace. Am I going to fast to maintain for the full distance? Do I shorten my stride or slow down my cadence? If I am not able to hum along to the music on my phone then I have to slow down.
I make sure to say "Good Morning" to everyone I pass on the path. I do this for two reasons. First, if I'm too winded to offer a simple "Good Morning" and wave to people then I am probably going to fast. Also I feel safer, especially in dimness of early morning, when I can strongly say something to whoever is approaching me. I feel kinda like I am letting them know that I am not too tired to run faster or scream or fight if they try to give me trouble. Most everyone also says something back to me so I have gotten to know the regulars and we watch out for each other. I haven't ever heard of anyone having trouble around here but always better to be safe.
Lately by the time I get to the fifth mile I usually end up with a little stomach distress or need to use a restroom. There are a few port a potties along the path's I use. Fortunately yesterday I had no problems!! Hurray!! I was really careful to avoid taking any Excedrin this week for my headaches. Caffeine seems to really leave my stomach in a lurch during exercise. I also was sure to not eat too much on Friday night and I avoided fresh fruit, except bananas, all day on Friday. It seemed to help this time.
As I approached mile 6 a familiar truck came driving down the Freeway towards me. Dave and Heath had been out surfing at Freddy's and were on their way home an hour earlier than expected. The surf was no good so they were going to pick up the rest of the family and take them out to a Keiki (little kids) spot. They asked if I wanted a ride home.
I was so tempted. Very tempted to get in that car. I was tired. My feet were hurting. I had been alternating my running with bouts of walking and that was becoming more and more frequent. Dave said he'd be glad to wait for me to finish the run before taking everyone to the beach. He knew I didn't want to miss out on the beach day. Then he suggested that I finish at least to my halfway point, another 1/2 mile, the entrance to the Turtle Bay Resort. I took his advice and continued to the entrance while debating whether on not I'd get in the truck.
As I ran back towards the truck I realized I was being really stupid to even consider quitting. I'd run 6 miles a lot of times. Running the 6 miles to Turtle Bay was no big deal. The big deal, the challenge, was getting back. I approached his window and declared my decision and begged for some water. He gave me a half empty water bottle from a few days earlier. I swished some water around in my mouth, swallowed a few small glugs and was back on my way. The truck pulled out behind me, passed and disappeared around the bend. I was all alone again. 5.5 miles to go.
The sips of water helped and I was glad I didn't drink more because the sloshing from just that little bit was really annoying. I walked for about a 1/2 mile until it absorbed and I could handle running again. I switched to the other side of the road to run in the shade. It was getting hot.
I don't remember much of the run from mile 7 to mile 10. I had been counting bicyclists all morning to pass the time and 68 cyclists passed me. I had also been counting people running beyond the Maleakahana path. There were 2 runners and 2 walkers. The two walkers were together and I cam across them about mile 8. They were walking along by the shrimp farms. The two runners were friends of mine and I passed them around mile 3. So there was a lot of lonely running. I didn't really mind. Lots of time to think about things and zone out.
I do remember mile 10. As I approached Kahuku high school, past which I have run countless times, I started to feel like giving up. I was getting so thirsty. My feet were starting to hurt. I pushed myself to run 4 minutes and promised myself 4 minutes of walking in return. That got me through to the bike path where my feet were hurting so bad I had to take off my shoes for a bit. I was getting blisters on the top of my toes right next to my toe nail. I walked bare foot for a while but the path was hot so I put my socks on and walked a little longer. I decided it was time to run again so I sat down and put on my shoes. While I was down I did a little stretching.
I got up and ran. I ran as far as I could and then walked again. I thought I would have to walk the last mile. I started thinking about what I wanted to eat when I got home. I was getting really hungry. I hadn't eaten anything before leaving because I didn't want to upset my stomach. I wasn't hungry then anyways; I was hungry now. I decided I would have a protein drink. Then I thought I'd have two. Then I remembered there was some leftover strawberry smoothie in the fridge. I would have that first and then the protein drink. After a minute of walking I decided I could run some more. It would get me home faster. I finished the last mile repeating the same scenario, running, walking, thinking about food. I decided on the smoothie, a protein drink, a big spoonful of peanut butter and a glass of cold water. I ran hard the last block home.
Today, Sunday, I am not sore at all. Yesterday I was a little sore and a little tired but I went to the beach with the family and made dinner and was up until 11pm watching a movie. I felt a lot better than I expected I would. I am very proud of myself for accomplishing this goal and look forward to doing it again.
Next week Monday I will be running the Great Aloha Run with a couple of friends. It is just over 8 miles and mostly flat. It starts early in the morning and runs through the streets of Honolulu. I think it will be fun and am really looking forward to it. My goal is to finish it in under 90 minutes but really I will be happy with anything under 2 hours. I have never run in a crowd as big as this and don't know how setting a pace will work surrounded by so many people.