Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ha'ena to Hanalei Race

On June 2nd, Conor and I ran an annual North Shore race. I ran the 8 mile run, a one-way route from Ha’ena to Hanalei. The course travels along the beautiful coastal highway, with the Pacific Ocean to the right and the mountains to the left. It was reminiscent of the Big Sur Marathon in California, which I ran 6 years ago. Except with a tropical twist. Conor ran the 5K course, which was an out-and-back through Hanalei.

As with everything, racing is different here on Kauai. Our running readership should be able to appreciate these differences. First of all, we went to pick up our packet the day before the race. Inside the packet was our race number, and a shirt. That’s it. No course map or directions. And certainly no electronic timing chip.

They shuttled the 8 mile runners to the starting line. Once there, I realized there was no real start line, per se. Just a big area where everyone was hanging out and waiting to start. Then, all of the sudden, I hear someone shout ‘GO!’, and everyone starts running. I wasn’t really prepared, so I fumbled to start my watch. Although, with no real line, I wasn’t exactly sure where to start timing anyway so it was more sort of an estimate. And there were no pacing corals at the start. I guess the faster folks just shoved their way up front.

The main road is a curvy, hilly, two-lane road. There are a number of one-lane bridges, where one side of traffic must stop and yield to the other. I had assumed that the road would be shut down for the race, like every other race I’ve ever run. But this is Kauai, so no. Instead, the cars just kind of slowed down and waited for the runners to go to the side of the road. At least there were a couple guys on bikes that sort of let you know to get over. On the one lane bridges, you only had enough room to run single file behind the other runners if there were cars on the bridge. Which makes it hard to pass during those points.

You’d think that mile markers are an essential element of a road race, but not here. Who needs them when you can just sort of guess where the miles are by using the tiny, barely visible highwaymile markers that run backwards on the other side of the road? Forget about timing your splits. I felt lucky to get water stops.

After what seemed like an eternal last mile, I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Just as I’m approaching the finish, I notice Conor cheering on the sidelines. And I see a huge red pick-up truck driving right in front of the finish line. I had to run around the truck to cross into the finish zone. In all the races I’ve run, on both east and west coasts, that was a first.

I ended up doing ok, considering I hadn’t trained hard and my advancing age. My time was 1:08, an 8:30 pace. I placed 48 out of 190 overall, and 9 out of 92 females. My main concern was my age group. I was fairly certain that I was the oldest runner in the 20-29 female division, considering I only had two days left to qualify in it. And I wanted to go out with a bang. I finished 2 out of 14 in my division, which wasn’t too shabby for this old lady. The woman who got first won the entire race. So I guess I can settle for second.

Conor did very well, especially considering that this is his second race ever and his 'training' consisted of going out for an occasional leisurely 3 mile jog in the weeks preceding the race. He finished in 25:22, an 8:10 pace. He placed 12th out of 77 overall, and 10th out of 30 males. But most excitingly, he placed first in his division!!! He completely blew away that other guy in the 20-29 males division and placed 1 out of 2.

No one should be awake when the moon is still out.

The sun rising over Hanalei Bay. This was the first and only time we've seen the Bay in the early morning light. Beautiful, but not worth waking up at 5:30am for. Luckily, we'll always have these pictures to look at during a more reasonable hour.

The finish line area, with the mountains as a backdrop.

About to cross the finish, just after taking a detour around that red pick-up truck.

Happily on our way to the free pancake breakfast.

1 comment:

Emma said...

Way to run J&C! FYI: Conor - I will never, ever, as long as I live, let you forget this picture. I'm sure your neighbors in Sterling, VA will enjoy seeing you prance around in this little outfit. Later, I'm off to join PFLAG.