Sunday, June 10, 2007

It H.U.R.T.ed A Lot

Since the Hawaiian Half Marathon this past weekend was cancelled, I signed up for the only other race going on in town. It was an informal race, sponsored by the aptly named Hawaiian Ultra Running Team (H.U.R.T.), and yes it did.

The Mango Madness 10+ Mile Run is a trail run on the outskirts of Honolulu. I'd never done a trail run before, and now I know why. There were 30+ runners last year, and about double that this year. We started at a small innocent looking park, about half the size of a football field, set within a residential neighborhood.

As we waited for the 7:00 am start, it rained. After a few wise cracks from the race director Mike (shown above, photo courtesy of co-director Pete) about how the rain was providing ideal race conditions, there was a quick 3-2-1 and we were sent off.

We ran gently uphill on a paved road for about a half mile, and then we entered the Makiki Valley Trail. What started as a nice trail of small evenly crushed rock eventually got narrower, muddier, steeper, wildly uneven, overgrown with tree roots, and liberally plastered with rocks of all shapes and sizes. I had done 2 back-to-back 7+ mile runs earlier in the week, from Waikiki to Diamond Head, encircling Diamond Head crater and going back, but it didn't prepare me one bit for trail running. After 5 mins of this trail, most of it only 2-3 feet wide, I was breathing heavily and moving slowly. After 50 minutes of straight uphill, I finally broke out of the trail and onto a real paved road again.

Then it got worse. The next 15 minutes was on something the locals affectionately call "The Concretes". It's basically a poorly paved road that goes steeply straight up forever and ever and ever. No one around me ran it. We all walked it, and even that was difficult. I was managing about one and a half foot lengths with each stride, it was that bad. Did I mention it had rained several times since we started?

Anyway, an hour and change after the start, I finally reached the top of The Concretes and the midpoint of the run. From there, I entered another trail and it was all downhill, but not simpler. It was just as narrow, steeply declining, muddy etc. for a first time trail runner like me. I eventually finished the darn thing in 2:06, good for very close to the bottom of the barrel, but not rock bottom :-)

My vacation is over and I'm in transit in LAX on my way back to Dallas. The family units are staying a few more days in Hawaii. My calves and quads still hurt going up and down stairs, just like when I ran my first marathon. I've got some new found respect for trail runners, and I'm happy to stick to road running for now.


David said...

I admire your foolishness. That was definitely a race.

Anne said...

I'm just catching up after my own vacation, which suddenly doesn't sound nearly as fun or strenuous or even scenic. It sounds like that last trail run was brutal no matter how hard you run. Rocks, roots and other rough's amazing you didn't do a face plant.

Runner Susan said...

Wow, I bet that did HURT! Great job though, even if you are in Hawaii . . . on vacation . . . sipping drinks on the beach . . . i don't have too much sympathy for ya! : )

peter said...

The hills on your vacation sound even worse than the hills on my vacation at the Lake Tahoe Relay, altho Brian and Kristin, then Bex, then a couple of other runners on our team had worse (monstrous) hills than me. Hills are character builders. Hills are bad. Way to hang in there all the way through.

jeanne said...

boo hoo, i'm cryin' for ya.

That's about my 10 mile time when the planets are aligned and there's plenty of water stops, free gu, cheering crowds, and foot massages!


Deene said...

welcome to trail running, it doesn't get better without the rain. :)

Rae said...

Fun times!! I love the adventure of the trails. My best moment was at the end of a 12 or 14 milers where I was so proud that I didn't trip and then I slid right down on my behind. Brent got a huge laugh outta that one!

Josh said...

The H.U.R.T club! Ha! That is awesome.

Sounds like a very difficult course and long too but well worth it for the finish line. Well done!

Bex said...

Wow! I'm impressed. I have so much to catch up on. Will read all of your Hawaii posts this weekend. I want to go back to Hawaii!