Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Herondo 14.11 Mile Orbit

While on Maui my long runs shifted to Wednesdays...a trend I have continued on my first week home. From this point forward I may start increasing my distances, probably adding a mile or so to my long run every other week. By summer, half marathons should replace 10 miles as my short "long run" during weeks I do not seek to increase mileage.

Incidentally, I ran 42 miles (at an average pace of 8:44/mile) while on the island...obviously not as many as I accumulated during my marathon visit, but still keeping my average per week over 20.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Not L.A. Marathon

I am back from Maui just in time to do the L.A. Marathon, but there's only one problem: I ran last year's Palos Verdes Half Marathon in May. Despite featuring a course overlooking the coast, PV's event fell on an unusually hot day...and I suffered a near total meltdown! A Memorial Day Weekend 26.2 mile race ending in downtown sounds like a recipe for disaster. Plus there are concerns over the recent change of ownership. Would the event run smoothly? Would there be enough water / cooling stations?

Instead, I decide to run an easy 10km orbit...including the first mile I have run on PenHi's track. The morning marine layer is keeping temperatures close to ideal. Heck, I am averaging sub-8 per mile without pushing myself.

As I return home in time to watch (on TV) Wesley Korir shatter the course record, I realize I very well could have run this year's event. Heck, I put up with humid temperatures rising into the 80's for the Maui Marathon. I cannot let anticipated weather dictate which races I should and should not enter. I should have run this year's Palos Verdes Half Marathon as well!

Next year, L.A. Marathon celebrates its 25th Anniversary and promises to not only return to early March, but also feature a course that starts at Dodger Stadium and reaches the sea. If I do not get injured while running the Long Beach Marathon this October, I will run in next year's event!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Upper to Lower Honoapi'ilani Orbit

Since I ran north last week, I figure I should try running as far south as I feel up to. Though I have not logged many running miles this week, I have hiked 8.5 miles and spent a good amount of time in the water....and my body IS feeling it. Running south gives me several opportunities to turn back earlier without going back the way I came, but my goal is to at least run to where the Highway and Lower Honoapi'lani Road converge.

That point is not nearly as far as I expected, nor is the run south along the highway nearly as interesting as heading north. The intersection is not even five miles from the hotel, but, figuring that the return trip will still be longer due to twists and turns, I decide to turn on to the lower road.

Shortly after starting north, I see a sign to my left for Coastline Access just before I reach the Ka'anapali Beach Club. I follow the access road south and west and reach the beach. A walking path continues to the south towards Black Rock, but I see that I am now over 5 miles into my need to extend it further.

I return to Lower Hoanapi'ilani Road and run north through Honokowai. When I reach Kahana, I stop briefly to check out the Sands of Kahana, the first place I ever stayed on Maui decades ago. I do not think it has changed much.

Just north of the Sands of Kahana, I meet up with the stretch of the lower road I have previously run a few times before. Looking at my watch, I realize this run will be much shorter than last week's 13+ miler. Having hiked the Kapalua Coastline Trail on Sunday, I know I can extend the distance by taking a scenic detour.

The southern trailhead is at Kapalua Bay, just below Merriman's. The initial path is a concrete sidewalk, but it eventually transitions to gravel and even turns on to a peninsula of lava rock. From there, the path is not as clearly marked with an uneven rocky surface. My pace drops as I cross the rugged terrain...and even moreso as I come to a series of descending rock steps. The trail continues along a raised wooden platform that ends at a staircase leading back up to Lower Hoanapi'ilani Road. I rejoin the road very close to its intersection with Office Road and my final destination, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.

This nearly mile-and-a-half detour brings the total distance of this orbit to a respectable 11.5 miles. Time for pancakes!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Maui Revisited

Something about running here brings a smile to my face. Okay, this sense of being is not specifically linked to running, but certainly helps me endure long distances in the high temperatures and even higher humidity.

With no plans to run this year's Maui Marathon, I have no real pressure on me to run long. My next scheduled marathon is not until October. Instead, curiosity drives me to attempt another run to the northern tip of the island. I have yet to see it in person, but came close during a ten miler last I am understandably interested in pushing beyond that. Besides, thanks to the Revlon Run/Walk, I have not done a 10+ mile run in over a week, so such a run is overdue.

Unlike last year, I have made no attempts to acclimate to the warm weather leading up to this trip. If anything, I have been adjusting my schedule to run when it has been cool. So I decide to head outside before sunrise. Only problem is that I did not realize how early the sun comes up in Maui this time of the year. I start my run just after 5:45am and the sky is already quite bright. The sun is already hitting clouds over island neighbor Molokai when it first comes into view as I continue north and east along the highway.

I reach last year's turn around spot. From here, the highway winds its way around Honokohau Bay as it descends towards sea level. I previously decided against pushing past this point because, with the marathon less than a week away, I did not actually need to run as far as I already had, nor did I really want another ascent in my workout. I have no such limitations today.

Shortly after starting down the hill, I am treated to a spectacular view of the West Maui Mountains. At the bottom, I cross a bridge over Honokohau Stream, another a picturesque setting. As I continue, the road begins a quick ascent, at least as steep as the stretch of road I run I must run to leave or return to my house. Halfway up the hill, I briefly consider turning back, but I remind myself that I may not always have such opportunities (or be in as good physical condition) to attempt such a run in the future. I continue up, stepping into the sunlight just as my watch indicates I have reached seven miles in just over one hour and two minutes. The sun has been up for nearly 45 minutes, but I have been fortunate that the road has, for hte most part, stayed within shadow until now.

The road continues to the right and starts to crest. As I come to an opening, I see a point that looks like the northern tip of Maui. Figuring I have reached as far north as I can go on the pavement, I decide to turn back. I do not want to be out here much longer for fear the temperature will soon rise to uncomfortable levels.

I start feeling the heat around mile 10. I can tell my pace is starting to fade. There is only one shortcut back to the hotel via DT Flemming Beach, but it only reduces the return trip by a mile. I reach Honolua Bay around mile 11. Soon there will be no shade for the rest of the run. The temperature has probably risen into the 80's. I am dripping sweat, have almost emptied my water bottle, and will soon consume my last Shot Blok.

I reach the Waihua Spa in just under two hours. My watch logged 13.3 miles. Not a bad time in this heat, especially because I was not at all trying to maintain a decent half marathon pace (a way better time than I ran my first Palos Verdes Half Marathon, which was also in hot weather). My thoughts immediately turn to breakfast...Gazebo here I come!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Revlon Run/Walk 5K

Today Valerie and I join Team Jane in the fight against women's cancer. Jane was recently diagnosed with the unfortunately all too common breast variety. Most of the team is walking to show their support, but Valerie, Raquel, Jose (with Hailey in stroller), and I are going to run the full 5Km course.

The days leading up to the race have been very hot, so I am relieved to see the marine layer still looms over the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as we advance to the start line. 3.1 miles may seem like nothing compared to distances I usually run, but sustaining a faster pace than I am used to for this full length is not going to be easy.

8:45am race time approaches and passes...I had thought runners would be let out of the gate separately from the walkers, but that looks less likely now. I just hope the dense crowd in front of me are indeed running. The announcer introduces celebrity hosts Miley Cyrus (and her mom) and Carrie Ann Inaba of Dancing With the Stars (and Austin Powers) fame, and points out the Bo Dereck is running. I am eager to get going...would like to finish running before the sun pokes through.

At 8:58, the confetti flies. As the herd slowly makes its way through the starting gate, I try and fail to find openings to advance. To achieve a running pace, I must weave from one side of Figueroa to the other for much of the first half mile. I can barely even glance at USC as I run by it. I never even get a chance to look back and see where my friends are.

Despite the challenging start, I manage to complete my first mile in 7:02 as per my pre-race strategy. My goal is to run faster than 7:30 during the first mile, just under 7:00 over the second, and 6:30 for the third...hoping to complete three miles in under 21 minutes.

Why are people trying to hand bags to runners as 30th Street becomes McClintock? I do not expect anyone running would grab one, but apparently far more people walk than run at this event. I pass Cardinal Gardens, the apartment complex where Valerie and I met. No time to get nostalgic now. Must focus on task at hand.

I complete the second mile in 6:49. I am doing even better than expected, but perhaps have pushed too hard too early. Is there a slight incline on Jefferson or is it just me? I feel my pace continue to drop off on Vermont, but soon find a rabbit to hang with. He is pushing much harder as we turn down Menlo towards the Coliseum. I try to keep pace.

I complete the third mile in 6:51...slightly slower than I had hoped since I expected to do negative splits. That said, I still have met my goal of under 21 minutes for three miles. Only catch is I still have a tenth of a mile further to go...and was hoping I could finish in 21. I turn enter the Coliseum through the tunnel and start my final sprint.

When I emerge, I cross a timing mat in 22:29, but, anticipating another mat closer to the finish line, continue running as strongly as I can until I see that there is no mat at the gate. My time is slightly slower than I expected, but still would be better than many of my high school cross country times.

I doubt I will ever be as fast as I was during my high school cross country years but at least I am now within the ballpark of my peak (sophomore) season's slowest times and faster than many of my runs in other seasons. And, to make myself feel better, I just remind myself how much farther I can and do run now on a regular basis.

After grabbing my post-race water and snack bag, I head back to the finish chute to try and photograph my teammates. I completely miss Raquel, my only photo of Valerie turns out blurry, Jose almost gets by the camera. I miss Jane because I expect to see her walking, but she made a last minute decision to run the whole course. Go Jane! And then it seems like an eternity before our captain finally arrives with our team sign...

Official time: 22:29
Official pace: 07:14

Uncertain which mats were relevant for timing, I started my GPS watch just before I crossed the start, but stopped it way after crossing the finish (what looked like the finish line was actually far from the final timing it looks like I ran more than a 5K)...and entering the tunnel into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum messes with the GPS just before we cross the finish line (my pace was not THAT fast)

Valerie's data:

Official time: 32:54
Official pace: 10:36

Impressive considering that she has not run at all over the past few weeks!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

One Week Before 5K

On Saturday, I will be participating in a 5K race, my first since high school. I am not sure what to expect since I have not focused on improving my pace over shorter distances (no speed intervals either).

I keep saying that I'll try to switch things up by running 3 miles per day rather than doing 5+ miles every-other-day, but, when I am out there, I have a hard time justifying the shorter distances. Strange. I continue to average more than 20 miles per week, with at least one 10+ miler over the weekend.

I did not set out to run a fast half marathon today, but managed to keep under 8 minutes per mile for 9 miles and finished in under 1:50. My heart rate only averaged 150 beats per minute (considerably less than what my heart averaged during the Chesebro Half Marathon)!

Friday, May 1, 2009

K1 Speed Torrance

I am happy to report that the South Bay finally has a local indoor go-kart racing facility...brand new and located on the border of Gardena (i.e. within striking distance of good Japanese food). They feature the same electric karts used at other K1 Speed locations, so those familiar with them should know what to expect (quick accelerating with uncomfortable non-adjustable seats).

I dropped by for an arrive-and-drive....$15 for a single race during opening weekend...and finished third with a best lap of 33.11. I know I could have gotten into the 32's, but I started lapping people, getting stuck behind some slower movers who refused to leave me space to pass.
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