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Monday, March 12, 2012

Running with Kenyans...

I, Bree Wee, got to run with Kenyans. The Hapalua Half Marathon experience will forever and ever remain etched in my memory and heart as one of the greatest opportunities of my life. In my sporting career I take nothing for granted, you just cant measure the duration of how long you will be part of such a unique journey, that said, you embrace and treasure all the moments that matter and touch your life in a way that wouldn't happen should you be on a different path...
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My heart and soul were poured into this race, it was the first time in a handful of races that I toed the line believing without a doubt what I was capable of. It baffles me how we fear dreaming all because of the outcome not unfolding the way we envision it. Well, the outcome of this race did not unfold exactly as I envisioned but the journey, the race, and the goals worked for did not land me in disappointment.
The day before the start I stood at the start line eyes closed envisioning 13.1 x 6. All the training, all the pacing, all of my heart BELIEVED I had 13.1x6 in me. I knew it was there because the work for that pace had been done, the rest to make it happened had been done, and I wanted to hurt for it. The way the Hapalua Chase was set up it also gave me a really good chance at winning. I did believe in winning but mostly believed in myself and was ready to let the outcome unfold as it would. More of the actual race in just a minute...
Masuda came over to Oahu with me, he has been along this Hapalua journey of mine since Jonathon (the race director) first sent me an invitation. He was part of my sadness when the season began and my 6's was struggled, he was part of the adventures at the track with the fast boys where I would chase them with all my heart landing in hope, and he believed even when I forgot. We ran my final run together Saturday night and jumped in the Pacific after, the ocean always puts me at ease and I had to be in it before the race...
Then we ate a lot of rice and shoyu chicken...
The morning began with a 4:40 phone call from my older sister. She just finished a half marathon in Florida and was telling me all about it moments before I would line up for mine. My mom and sisters have always been my pre-race chitchats, they keep the "family" in my career and remind me of all that matters. Coach also makes sure to get his 2-sense in prerace, he told me "Bree, I have never heard you sound so prepared for a race, go get it"...
Prepared without a doubt. I was last to arrive on the island of Oahu for the race, last to pick up my race bib, and last girl to the start line (I was on the beach finding a restroom). I didn't mean to be last for all of those, I just never stressed the balance in my life, I had mom things to do.
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The start line was awesome. 12 invited women from the state of Hawaii given the chance to beat world class Kenyans to the finish line of a half marathon. We got 18 minutes on them, 9 minutes on the 12 fastest men from the state. Doing the Math it was a pretty fair situation, us girls needed a 1:20, the Island boys needed 1:11, and the Kenyans needed 1:02. Those times had the race directors hoping it would be a finish line sprint and spectator frenzy. My 6's had me full on "game on" Kenyan & Island boys, chase just like in grade school!!
The race began and Cindy Anderson of Oahu and I took off in the morning dark together. It was brilliant. We had the pace car (sadly it wouldn't let us close enough to block the hurricane, believe me I tried), each other, and nobody in front. I was totally enjoying this and continued to see 5:57 over and over the first few miles. Perfect start, she helped me hold back my usual "off too fast" and I was dialed in for an hour and 18+ minutes of running.
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Sometime around mile 5 Cindy let me go and that made running even easier, just me and my own pace to focus on. Soon after I reached the turn where we would get our only glimpse of the race unfolding. First I saw the Hawaii boys, then the Kenyans. The Kenyans gave me chicken skin, it was unreal. Totally awesome in a way no words can express to see them striding out a pace that hurts for a single mile. It was really neat being in front too. Thousands of other runners in the race then started to come into view, so many cheering me on, thank you for that. Then the volunteers, big local men passing out water began to cheer me on, "Beat the Kenyans Hawaii girl, you got this". It was such a sense of pride for our island to have them racing here and such a sense of pride for me to represent Big Island and Hawaii.
As you know, the Kenyans run 1:01 and 1:02 fast, so of course if we all started on the same line at the same time they would win, hands down. But this race was set to unfold knowing those men are the best and the Hawaii boys are better than us Hawaii girls, that said, make it exciting with the staggered start. It was so exciting leading a race, till this moment...(see above).
My 6 pace was pretty awesome till mile 9. At mile 9 we land a mile uphill climb that I was sadly ran a 7:10 up. Regaining those precious 70 seconds I thought would happen down the hill. Instead we ran into 40mph headwind in the middle of a wind storm that gave Oahu a tornado and closed schools. I know, it sounds like an excuse, anyways, the headwind and I only ran 6:25 pace down a darn hill, slower than on the flats, and there went my 6's just as easy as they came.
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I fought so hard to get them back, when the race winner, Tom Puzey ran me down here around mile 11 he encouraged me to hang on to him, I tried with all I had, grunting and groaning and everything else you can imagine, but like all girls know, NEVER GIVE UP TILL IT'S OVER IN ALL THINGS LIFE, LOVE, AND SPORT! So I moved my okole as fast as it would go...
I looked back and no Kenyans, phew...but...I got passed one more time by a local boy who also ran a 1:10 and landed 3rd in the chase. Of course I'm stoked on being first girl, of course I am thankful for the race experience, and without a doubt I will try again for those 6's-even in a windstorm up a hill...
Top 10 from right to left in the Chase. The Kenyan men ran 1:05's in case you are wondering. During warm down they told me that race was one of the hardest ran, that wind and those 12 boys, and us 12 girls being chased. I think we all were a little off on the PR this day but EVERYONE got to run in a race with Kenyans and that made it so, so exciting...
A HUGE mahalo to Masuda, Kainoa, my family, and friends for always being part of my sport life. To Coconut Girls for rubbing my tired legs down, to The Club in Kona for the treadmill usage, to Braswell, Salmi, and Tanimoto for the great training group we made for this race. To Coach Jimmy for helping me believe in the beauty of a dream and be okay with myself when the dream is taking my patience. To Jonathon L for inviting me to be part of the Hapalua Chase, it was incredible, to the athletes in the race for pushing me and to Cindy for the first few miles together, I am thankful for your company.
A very WIDE SMILED moment for me! Seriously, running with Kenyans, this does not happen to a girl from an island everyday!
The Big Island Bunch! Tanimoto took 4th girl, Braswell 2nd in his division, Salmi won his division, and Masuda and Henderson looking out for us and all the great photos (thank you!!). By the way, Sal and I ran the exact same time down to the second in this race! I suppose that is what happens when you train with someone, you share times!!
...And Kainoa, another medal for you my love. I am so happy you enjoyed all that breakfast while I was running. Next time save me some!Once the boys were all together again life fell back into routine and my Kenyan dream drifted off into a near distant memory. Tomorrow it's off to Costa Rica for a triathlon, Kainoa to his dads for Spring Break, Masuda to Maui for work, and his boys to their moms for Spring Break. Above and beyond thankful to have a family to call home, sport to help make ends meet, and another swimbikerun on the horizon...
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Bree



20 Comments:

Blogger Christi said...

Great job Bree! You are a rock star!

March 12, 2012 at 7:54 AM

 
Blogger CoachLiz said...

You are a Rock Star!!! Sure enough, you ran with your cheeks hanging out and you were having too much fun and going too fast to care. Safe travels to Costa Rica, Chica!

March 12, 2012 at 8:26 AM

 
Blogger SSB said...

Nice race yesterday. That wind was BRUTAL. Especially going up Monsarat. I think I could have walked up it faster than I was 'running'.

March 12, 2012 at 8:57 AM

 
Blogger Jennifer Harrison said...

LOVED this post, Bree, You seem SO HAPPY..nice to read about the fun race, the boys but feel how happy you are!!!! congrats!

March 12, 2012 at 9:01 AM

 
Blogger MissFancyPants said...

This is just awesome! what a great experience - congrats!

March 12, 2012 at 9:02 AM

 
Blogger Lucy Francis said...

what a great result and experience. Reading your report transported me to the island, I Imagined the wind, the tough miles and the relief at the end.
so cool to run with Kenyans! they run quite a few races here, if you ever fancy running the London Marathon...let me know :-) lots of Kenyans in that one too

March 12, 2012 at 9:37 AM

 
Blogger Nat said...

Awesome job Bree! Way to represent Hawaii and the Big Island! My hubby and I were yelling at you from the sidewalk on Ala Moana Blvd! Congrats on being the first female finisher!

March 12, 2012 at 10:09 AM

 
Blogger britni said...

You are a serious runner! Even I believed you would do it - you could just tell from reading your posts that your head was seriously into it!! Good job! Way to represent from the ironman community!
Britni bakk

March 12, 2012 at 1:04 PM

 
Blogger ONEHOURIRONMAN said...

That has to be the most fun I have ever seen!! What a great idea to have Kenyans chasing..
Have fun in CR!
Cheers

March 12, 2012 at 1:27 PM

 
Blogger Haley Cooper-Scott said...

Weeeeee. I had to check in to see how it went. Frustratingly close but awesome work in those conditions! Go get 'em in Costa Rica chica.

March 12, 2012 at 4:17 PM

 
Blogger Whitney said...

Congrats Bree!!! What an awesome experience. Good luck in Costa Rica.

March 12, 2012 at 4:33 PM

 
Blogger marian said...

you are awesome! what a great run.

now on to the next race! safe travels and fast racing.

March 12, 2012 at 5:17 PM

 
Blogger Jennifer said...

what an awesome race report... you gave me goosebumps!! Super excited for you. You're going to rock it at Costa Rica!

March 12, 2012 at 6:27 PM

 
Blogger Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

Great write up, Bree. Hope you have an equally successful race in Costa Rica.

March 12, 2012 at 6:52 PM

 
Blogger rileygirl said...

I got to see you come in at the Finish Line. You are amazing. Thank you for this recount. I got chicken skin!!!

March 12, 2012 at 9:18 PM

 
Blogger Beth said...

Congrats on an awesome race Bree!!! What a cool experience. Safe travels and best of luck in Costa Rica!

March 12, 2012 at 11:13 PM

 
OpenID lavagal.net said...

I saw you run to the starting lineup and thought it was a kick that you were the last girl there but the first girl to finish! What a great download. People compare the running of Kenyans to soundless spirits who barely touch the ground when they run. It must take your breath away to see that.

March 13, 2012 at 6:57 AM

 
Blogger johnny808 said...

Awesome job Bree! Don't mean to burst your bubble, but the last elite woman to the starting line was Kim Kuëhnert. She missed the start by about a minute and change. Great performance.

March 13, 2012 at 7:51 AM

 
Blogger Tina Marie Parker said...

Super Girl! Amazing Job! Hawaii count down for us :) Big party LuLu's Monday night.

March 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM

 
Blogger Journey said...

Awesome! Love u. ~banana :)

March 15, 2012 at 5:27 PM

 

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