Sunday, January 24, 2010

Maui Oceanfront Marathon -- 3:08:21

Many months ago, Jennifer and I were trying to think of a good place to go for a family vacation and for me to run a marathon. I think it was Jennifer who found the Maui Oceanfront Marathon and eventually we agreed that the schedule worked and I went ahead and signed up for it.

This would be the 9th road marathon for me. My goals were as follows, in order:
1. To run fast and do my best!
2. To set a personal record for this distance which meant to go faster than 2:59:36 that I did in the California International Marathon in 2007.
3. To have a guaranteed entry into the New York City Marathon, bypassing their lottery system. This required 2:55:00 for the marathon or 1:23:00 for the half marathon. Thanks to my recent Pillar Point Half Marathon time of 1:21:05, I was in theory already set, but that marathon is small and poorly organized in terms of their online presence. They still haven't posted the correct results yet, for example.

My training had gone well. I felt strong. The weather was beautiful, although much warmer and more humid than I was accustomed to. Looking the course elevation profile, I had concerns about all of the short hills. It was looking as if the cumulative elevation gain was just as much as San Francisco Marathon, for example. This might not be a fast marathon and my goals might be too ambitious. Well, that's always part of the excitement, to run a new course for the first time.

Race day! I woke up at 3:05am and got ready and met the bus at 4:05am. The course is point-to-point, so the buses were available to transport us runners from near the finish line all the way to the start line. As usual, I tried not to think about how long the bus ride is, knowing that I was going to have to return all this distance on foot!

The marathon began at 5:45am following what we were told was a traditional Hawaiian good-luck sing-along, complete with a conch shell starter-gun. The course began at the top of a somewhat steep road, so running slow at the beginning was practically impossible. After the initial downhill, I began monitoring my heart rate regularly. I was feeling good, the air was cool, and given my ambitious goals, I decided to take a risk and let my heart rate climb to 160 early on. In the previous couple of marathons, I mostly stayed around 155 beats per minute for the first half. Well, I ran mile 2 in about 6 minutes flat, so I think in hindsight, going solely by heart rate here was a mistake! My fastest goal pace was 6:40 per mile, so starting off with a 6 minute mile was way too fast.

I was on pace for 2:50:00 for the first 6 miles or so. By the half-way point I was on pace for 2:55:00 which was my original goal. Somewhere around here I saw a whale come to the surface of the ocean on my left. Nice! There was a nearly constant onrush of cars on the main highway and they created a head wind in addition to being noisy and occasionally foul-smelling. The hills were surprisingly long and noticeable and they slowed me down, of course.

I was in 2nd place until mile 15 or 16. I had probably already started slowing down and a runner passed me. But at mile 18 I started falling apart badly and my 6:40 per mile average pace fell to 8 minutes per mile. The heat really hit me. I was having difficulty breathing and had developed a side cramp. I decided to stop and walk for 30 seconds to try to get my breathing under control. I never fully recovered, and I pretty much stayed at 8 minutes per mile to the finish. I ran by Claire and Jennifer in the last couple miles. They cheered me on as Claire was finishing her 5K. Thank you, Claire! Finally, finally, I crossed the finish line with a time of 3 hours 8 minutes 21 seconds (7:11 pace) and I came in 4th of 225 entrants and 189 finishers. The results are here.

Rylan ran really well in the 5K and came in 1st in the 19-and-under division with a time of about 27 minutes. (8:56 pace or 8:58 pace, I think.) There were 131 finishers in the 5K and 5 boys in his division. Here's a photo of him at the podium, next to a tall skinny teenager who towers over him.

Lisa did super well with a time of 26:32. (8:31 pace, if I recall correctly.)

Jennifer ran with a heavy backpack from the finish line for 2 miles, met Claire, then ran with Claire to the finish. Claire came in 6th of 10 in her age group (females, 19 and under), but didn't receive a trophy because only the top 2 runners in that age category receive trophies. Claire averaged about 12 minutes a mile.

All the races had the same finish line, but different starting points. There was the marathon, half-marathon, 15K, and 5K.

Random notes:
  • My weight 4 days before: 162.8 lbs
  • My weight 2 days after: 162.0 lbs
  • I ate an energy gel every 30 minutes, which might have been just a tad too much. I sometimes didn't feel like eating it.
  • For this marathon, I did not take any salt capsules because I have doubts that they can actually prevent cramps for this kind of race. An ultramarathon is much different and I intend to still take salt capsules for those.
  • We splurged and I got a nice massage a few hours after the race. I think it helped. I was sore for a few days afterwards, but I never felt injured or super-stiff.