Tuesday, October 24, 2017

In the HURT box... Peacock 55.

Photo mahalos to Johnny Lingao

Done.  Check that one off the bucket list, "Complete something harder than childbirth."  Saturday I got to run (play, hike, crawl, jog, cry, tumble, walk, vomit a lot) in my first ever ultra marathon over rocks & roots & what-nots.  It was an experience that will not soon be forgotten, ever.  I went into it having done all I could control, like my long runs, night runs, hungry runs, no sleep runs, tired runs, back to back to back runs, you name it I attempted it.  But the things you can't control, the unknowns, were much bigger than I had anticipated.  Ironman has nothing on a 55+ mile trail run as far as I'm concerned. In my 30 Ironmans I think I only have 3 over 10 hours, so I knew I'd be venturing into unknown territory out there on the Waianae Mountain Range.  But I just felt so ready... so, so, so ready.  AND excited.  I have fallen madly in love with trail running (massive shocker if you knew me as a triathlete!)

So how in the world did it go?

Photo mahalos to Kana Yamamoto

The Peacock Challenge is a 2 loop course, roughly 55-57 miles depending on who's Garmin you look at (insert who didn't get lost or take a big detour to use the restroom in the bushes).  The year I had my great IM Louisville (a two loop bike & run course) my friend Pablo gave me a great piece of advice, "Don't be a first loop superhero." It was incredible advice back then and I used it as incredible advice again for Peacock... DON'T BE A FIRST LOOP SUPERHERO, BREE.  Luckily for me the first few miles are straight up and everyone sort of began them together in a single file line.  This was amazing, it was like running with 70 of your closest trail run friends.  I was able to cast my gaze out to the ocean as we climbed higher and higher, make new friends with Patty from Kauai who's run Western States (a secret bucket list goal of mine), and daydream...

Then we got to the runable section.  This is when the fun began for me.  Patrick and I sort of planned the first loop together, I've shared more miles with him than anyone so I figured we'd get along fine and the pace would be familiar.  We had 12 guys in front of us (give or take) and soon formed a little posse of 6.  It was seriously one of those moments you just hold back yet slowly release tears of joy.  Doing something you love, surrounded by inspirational people, among some of the best views running has to offer.  We kept it calm and cool as our little posse soon became just the two of us.  By the first big check point (Long Road, mile 17) we were in 3/4th place.  We weren't really concerned about placing, ultimately the goal was to finish...but I do have a confession I'll share in just a minute.

We just did our thing, talked our stories (I mean I talked his ear off), made sure to eat a bunch, and keep patient.  Then we got to the giant down hill (the hill we climbed up in the beginning).  I told Pat to go ahead, because I know if we stay together I'll try and keep up and land on my face.  Pat's biggest secret weapon in trail running is his downhill.  I mean it's insane, think flying.  Uphill and flats I can cruise around the trail with him okay, but downhill there isn't really a chance in hell for me or anyone I've ever met on planet Earth.  We came into the Start/Finish line aid station (roughly mile 27) in 1st/2nd place.  I was having a small asthma/panic attack.  I'm not really sure why the downhills scare me like they do but they do, I just picture myself flying over the side of a mountain or busting my face into a rock.  Even in triathlon I feared downhills on my bike and that same fear (since a bike crash down a hill) has never really left me.  Back to my story, Mikey was there with my inhaler that was empty.  I was sort of a mess but he kissed me goodbye and Pat and I took off for loop #2 together.  I was doing everything I could to get my chest and lungs to calm down, I didn't tell Mikey my inhaler was empty because he's a firefighter and I know he'd never let me out of there without calming my lungs.  Up the hill we went...

Pat and I did the check-in we do a little while later..."How you feeling, honestly?" Good as gold.  And he went on to win the thing in course record fashion. My legs felt strong, my mind was willing & able, but my lungs weren't too happy with me. By now it was getting really hard to eat anything because I felt as if I was trying to eat, drink, swallow, and breathe through just a coffee stirring straw.  I just began to cry up there on that mountain top by myself.  I had a pity party for one.  "All my hard work, my legs feel so good, why me?  Why are these my lungs?".  It was down right pathetic to think about it now that it's over.  I try really hard to never take life for granted or have reasons to be angry with God, especially when I'm actually super healthy compared to so many people all over the world.  I peed in the bushes, peeked out over the edge to a gorgeous ocean in the distance, and forced myself to get it together.  There was no doubt in my mind that I'd find a way to finish, but ultimately I wanted to find a way to feel better.  Okay, I know, I know...a 55 mile run, it's not supposed to feel pretty.  But I was in a dark place like I'd never been before.  And I was angry, really truly angry and sad.  Sad because my legs wanted to run, they had done all the work and felt so good.  And angry that I wasn't thinking straight on how to get a grip.  I decided to try a few things.

1) I forced in a bunch of calories on the side of the trail thinking that might help.  It absolutely back fired.  From about mile 45 on it was just a big puke fest.  2) I did some yogi breathing thing.  Trust me, I felt dorky and hoped nobody was looking.  I pretended to be my little sister Brooke (a yoga instructor) and do some breathing moves, some lion thing I learned in one of her classes, another pose to open my chest, I even did those arms to chest moves that I laugh at when I see yogi girls doing them.  I don't think that worked for me either.  3) I prayed.  My mom always told me to just pray.  Just pray away.  So I prayed all kinds of things and thanked God for all kinds of things.  4) Just keep moving forward.  Number 3 & 4 worked for me because I did indeed tick off the last 10-12 miles.  Once back to Long Road (about 10 miles from the finish) I saw Mikey and just began crying.  I ran those 3 miles (wait, change that to slow jogged those 3 miles) all the way to him.  I told him I needed a hug.  In that moment I found out what kind of Ultra Runner I'll be to my crew!  Of course you've seen or heard horror stories of athletes yelling at their crews and being all shades of mean out there.  I am happy go lucky right into a crybaby, not a giving up crybaby, just one who can't control her passion and sometimes the fire comes out in the form of tears.
Photo mahalos to Mikey Brown

At this point in the race we are allowed to have a pacer join us. I didn't have one (don't worry, I will for HURT100), so it was okay for Mikey to walk along side me.  He did for about 15 minutes.  Here is where it got complicated.  He wanted me to stop.  To just rest. He could see I wasn't good and thought if I just stop my lungs would chill out and I'd be okay.  But what he forgets and I drive him nuts about is my inability to stop.  When I stop my anxiety rises and that makes my lungs worse.  I admit my anxiousness is a problem, I'm working on it.  I was having flashbacks of Ironman Malaysia at this point. I had an asthma attack on the bike and fell over on the side of the road.  I sat there for 40 minutes and the medic said I could only finish if I ride with someone to make sure I'm safe.  So yes, I biked side-by-side totally illegal in racing to the bike finish and with that same person all marathon long just to be allowed to finish an Ironman.  Mikey and I went up that hill laughing and smiling, I needed him so much in that moment and realized how wonderful it will be during HURT100 to have a good pacer to help you through the loops of hell and out of the hurt box.  Then Mikey decides he's going to just finish the final 10 miles with me.  No.  Absolutely no.  I mean, I love him and all but there was no way I was going to trust someone who hasn't been training to get up that hill and over that mountain then down the backside.  I told him once we got to that pink flower (there was a flower bush up the road) then I was going on my own.  And off I went...

It was sheer hell.  Coming into the race I had visions of winning it.  Since quitting triathlon I pretty much let go of all goals to win things and lose things.  I just wanted to do things and experience things-pressure free.  But there was something about this race that I wanted to accomplish and it was to take on a challenge greater than one I'd ever known.  Hence the reason I now cross "doing something more difficult than childbirth" off my bucket list.  This was the biggest thing I'd ever set out to do.  I put my heart and soul into preparing for it and enjoyed every single moment of the journey towards it.  Not to mention Freddy has been an absolute source of encouragement to me.  He has been so kind to me since my first trail race, welcoming me into the HURT ohana, and when I went off course at Triple Trek he was the one that told me it's not a big deal, to let it go, I have Peacock.  I wanted to win it to express my gratitude, as if his kindness and belief in me meant something.

I got to the final aid station (6 or 7 miles from the finish), told them I was in a world of hurt and they knew, I guess everyone it at that point?  I asked how my friend Pat was doing, I just kept hoping he was still holding that beautiful lead and enjoying his run.  They told me he is flying home to the finish.  That gave me comfort.  Then I told them I hadn't been able to eat or drink for the last hour.  A man name Steve (I'll call him my guardian angel) told me it's okay. He said this is so normal, our metabolism shuts down at this point in the run in order for the blood to carry oxygen to our muscles and not so much for digesting.  *Note, it went something like that.  I dried a sip, threw it up,  tried a bite, threw it up.  I asked if I take absolutely nothing else the entire rest of the way to the finish would I be okay?  He assured me, yes.  Of course, yes.  Then he road his mountain bike along side me to the next turn off just to make sure I don't get lost (does everyone in the trail running community know of my horrible sense of directions out on the trails?).  I smiled at him, I was so thankful for him, for the 5 minutes of company but mostly for the reassurance that I would be fine 6 miles with nothing in my belly.  My legs still felt really good, I decided the last 6 miles I'd just count blessings and focus on the good stuff...starting with my legs.  My legs were making it 55 miles feeling this well, that's good news on the way towards my first 100.
Photo mahalos to Johnny Lingao

I finally got to that big down hill.  I stood at the top, looked out over the edge, smiled and took a big deep breath...let it out...then went down.  I tried not to entertain falling thoughts to keep my anxiety from making me a worse mess.  My lungs were still pretty tight but I knew I was so close now, if I could just get to the finish Mikey would be there and CPR or whatever else would happen.  It's nothing new for me at finish lines, but I had to get there.  With about a mile to go I was passed by racer #66.  I kept seeing him out there, he always had a big smile.  He passed me and told me he saw no girls coming.  I closed my eyes for a second. I cried.  Maybe I could still win the thing.  Then I shut that out of my mind.  I know anything, anything, anything is possible at any point in a race.  Even finish line passes.  And both girls near me (Amanda and Shelby) are amazing runners and they certainly looked better than I felt when I saw them out there.  I opened my eyes and there was Mikey.  I'm not making this up!  He was there.  I know most girls would be all, "Ahh, so sweet!!".  Not me, I was annoyed.  He clearly came to find me, worried as all heck.  That I appreciate because he knows me better than anyone how stubborn I am to the point of stupid.  Back to be annoyed, I told him, "Mikey, I literally have just enough left in me to make it to the finish, if you fall in those slippers I don't even have the strength to carry you down this mountain and I'm not waiting up for you.".  He took like a champ, just cheering me on, "Go, baby go".  And down I went that final mile with him not too far behind me.
Photo mahalo to Johnny Lingao

Running into the finish line was so amazing  High fives all around, the stars were just peeking out, and the HURT ohana and Freddy was there to welcome.  A tear stained face, first girl across the line and 4th overall, I ran right into Pat, he had won, I was so happy for him, to see my training partners work totally pay off.  We both just hugged and cried like we did on the finish line of our first big race (Hilo to Volcano) back in January when we began this entire HURT100 dream. It is all becoming so real that 100 miles is about to happen.  I'm ever so thankful for this moment in my life.  It really is the time of my life I'll cherish forever.
Mikey Brown capturing our racing-must-haves...

Mahalos to Mikey for being the greatest support crew for Pat, Justin, and I over the weekend.  You truly saved our lives (when the car nearly crashed into us!), you were like a dream house wife with your cooking, grocery shopping, and crew support at the aid stations.  And thank you above and beyond for understanding my goals & dreams then believing with me (even if that means you run down a mountain in slippers behind me). To Patrick, I can't thank you enough for letting me chase you on so many miles and always showing up when I need some motivation, you're always so appreciative of the places we get to run and it reminds me to never take any of this for granted.  To Bike Works for constantly being a source of support in every mile we need to tackle.  I am so thankful to have you part of my HURT100 crew!!  To Jesse for making my psoas feel better and keeping my legs happy to run.  To Kainoa for sharing miles on the bike next to me and loving me like only a son can.  To Brooke for watching Kainoa when I need help for this super long runs that I used to tease you about...I love you, sis.  To Pro Compression socks and SOS rehydrate, the two must haves I take on every single run.

Photo mahalo to Johnny Lingao

Finally, last but certainly not least... far from least...Freddy.  Mahalo Freddy for putting on a beautiful race, so full of opportunity to face your biggest fears, biggest challenges, yourself, and yet experience something so awesome.  All of your volunteers made this experience one to remember as well.  SO MANY good people out there when we were needing them in our corner.  And to Shelby and Amanda, thank you for sharing your trail life with me and the podium.  I have admired you from a distance (across the Pacific) and can't wait to take on HURT100 with you...

Happy Running,
Bree xo

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sunrise from the Summit...

I'm writing this right now on an hour of sleep and a deep fuzz thanks to a sucker punch from
elevation.  The thing is, if I don't write while everything is fresh the moment will pass me by, like our recent "Sea to Summit" run that ran away because I was too fuzzy to jot it down.  I owe it to myself to recall & record my HURT100 adventures as a reminder that I get to live out a dream very soon and it should be enjoyed on the way to the start line. 

At midnight, under a black sky cluttered with stars Kawika, Pat, Justin, and I began our trek from Saddle Road to the tippy top of Mauna Kea.  I think that's about 6,000ft to13,677ft or 23 miles. I'm not exactly sure where I got my incredible sense of climate knowledge from but it sucks.  The guys had on pants and I had on shorts not much bigger than my underwear.  We all froze, but I froze more.  32* pretty much became my giant.  Every single run I force myself to face a giant of some sort on my way to HURT100.  While I don't know exactly what to expect over a single 100 mile run I do know to expect the unexpected so I'm preparing like any blonde runner from Big Island would do, I find ways to get comfortable being uncomfortable.  

The first 17 miles was pretty runable, I mean joggable.  We slowly gained some elevation and slowly began to lose our minds.  Once we got to the jagged lava rocks that blended in so nicely with the night sky everything felt surreal.  I mean, shooting stars were dancing, smiles were parading on our faces despite the icicles hanging from our noses, and we knew a sunrise would be happening once we reach the top.  Mauna Loa is the world's largest active volcano and we certainly got to feel her charm.  She's just beautiful!  I haven't been on top of Mauna Loa in 7 years because the last trip was in the snow, during a blizzard, and I declared "once was enough" to poor Kawika during that 6am sunrise.  Except everything has changed now that I'm in HURT100, I have to face giants, remember? So we returned and I managed to become much more appreciative because of it.  

This trip was cool (even without snow this year) because we found the ice cave!  Maybe you haven't heard of if, that's alright, you're not supposed to know about it because Scientists are trying to keep people away from it as it is the world's most isolated ice cave.  If people explore it too much (other than it being dangerous) we have the potential to create heat in there and Scientists won't be able to further study the environmental issues of the islands.  Also...little microbial communities are hiding in there.  I've known about it for awhile now, the adventurer in me can't help but to "explore more" and I convinced Kawika that we should find it one day.  Well...today we did.  And we went in just enough to know that was the spot by the markers with green tape labeled "ice cave".  I wanted to cry, as it was always a bucket list goal of mine to find it!  Kawika is born and raised Hawaii who adopted me as his Hanai sister 15 years ago and has been making sure I know every drop of the island as well as he does, so if he thinks it's okay to go-I go. Honestly I can't thank him enough

for every single mile we have covered all over Big Island, he's just such great family, he's even the one who taught my little sister to drive stick! I have a feeling he's also the one Mikey trusts most to keep me safe on the edge of volcanoes when he's stuck at work...

The entire Mauna Loa experience, from the company, to the shooting stars, has me just so thankful that I get to call Hawaii home.  It really is the most beautiful place I know, it has a way of tugging at my heart strings and reminding me to never let life just pass me by.  And I love better because of living here and having these incredible experiences, they let my heart stay wild.  

Before I end this summit sunrise I better make a quick note about our sea to summit two weekends ago.  Yes, that was another summit right across the street from Mauna Loa. We ran 46 miles from Coconut Island in Hilo to the tippy top of Mauna Kea, the world's tallest sea mountain.  That one was another night practicing with my headlamp.  I pretty much want to throw those things after about 3 minutes with them, but I'm learning to appreciate lamps on my head as if I'm a unicorn shining out a light stick.  We began at 3am (talk about getting my sleep deprived training on!) and stumbled to the summit about 10 hours and 45 minutes later.  While Mauna Loa wasn't freezing thanks to arriving in the afternoon, the elevation did a number on me.  Two of the miles at the end were the closest to delirious I have ever been.

  Ranger Bruce kept a close eye on us which gave me comfort should the sign holding me up actually fall over and I roll down the mountain.  I'd never run that far ever in my entire lifetime, so my giant that day was definitely the distance. Sincerely, these moments have become the reasons I fear becoming complacent in life, should I miss them it would surely be the death of my wild at heart.

Run Happy,
Bree xo

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Collecting Beautiful Moments

Let me just get straight to the heart of this post- I got into HURT100!  All those miles (far from aimless) finally got to resonate purpose and direction.  A 100 miler is in my near future getting nearer and nearer and nearer...YAY! More than ever before I am discovering that attitude is everything and trails don't discriminate how dang strong you are or how many miles you can run in a week-your MIND is your greatest tool.

A hurricane is covering Florida right now with the worst of it about to land on my family. I can just picture my poor little mom hiding in the closet hugging her Bible like it's nobody's business.  While they did everything they could do to prepare I know the waiting is the hardest part. Back in college our parents would let all of our International and out of state friends stay with us for hurricane evacuations.  They always made the dangerous conditions a bit less scary and still today they have opened their home to let a few other families stay with them to wait it out.  But I know my mom, she's scared and the thought of her in a closet hiding out caused me to write this post...she needs something to read.  So momma, this one is for you while you try to take your mind off the storms of life...

Life has been a bit of a whirlwind lately. Perhaps growing up in Florida I am used to everything swirling around me, a touch of chaos, and windblown at all times.  So once again I threw myself into full motion taking on the challenge of getting my masters degree while braving First Grade yet again this year, (3rd Grade was so much easier for me-but hey, easy has never been my style), while holding up my favorite job of motherhood to a middle schooler, and then I went and threw the ultimate dream of running 100 miles into it all...and got in! Needless to say, my parents taught me well just how to keep calm in chaos, prepare for everything, take on help if you need it, give help because you can, and no matter what don't you dare quit-hide in a closet if you must, but keep going.  I can honestly say, everything is pleasantly beautiful at the moment, am I in the eye of the hurricane right now?  I ran and ran and ran all Summer long as if the 1 in 130 chance I'd get into HURT100 was my destiny.  I was #125 by the way, obviously I cried and peed my pants at the same time.

In the span of 10 weeks I managed to do 8 races of all distances from 22 mile trail to road marathon.  It was like a dream of a Summer for a girl like me. I've always been so passionate about sport and find the very moment we are thrown into that place where it's you vs you life changes for us. Back in my triathlon days there is no way I'd race that much, it would be absurd, landing you lackluster results or worse-injury.  But now that my bike is hung and goggles are lost I get to run my life the way I want, for the sheer purpose of enjoyment, free of a payday, pressure, or results.  This is the for real #runhappy!  I've told myself I can have a rest (taper) before Peacock 55 miler and HURT100 as both those races will be my longest ever and I know will require way more respect to the distance than what I've been running through.  Last weekend was my race #8 in 10 weeks, the Kauai Marathon.  I picked this race out at the beginning of the year with a goal to grab my Boston qualifying time-clearly I am just working on my bucket list goals at the moment.  Like finally getting around to that masters 15 years after college graduation!  Well... Kauai it would be.
 I was up to the challenge like never before!  And having the sole goal being HURT100 I want and invite all the challenges I can get my legs into.  In fact, I've come to truly enjoy taking no rest from training to prepare for races, you completely avoid all kinds of pressure that come with putting all you have into a single day. Saturday was Triple Trek on Oahu-three trail loops.  It was the race I was least looking forward to (Maunawili 22 miler was my favorite and ended up being my favorite yet!).  I still need some work on my down hills over crazy roots and rocks and admit to only enjoying the uphill of that course.
Turns out-I got lost.  Completely lost and only managed to make 17 miles of the race.  Part of me wanted to go finish it just for much needed practice climbing down things (I was of course disqualified for not knowing how to even get back on course where I got off) and part of me shrugged it off.  Not that I didn't care, I am just so far removed from results defining me since I quit racing triathlon. I don't get hung up on times and places strung next to my name anymore, only miles these days all on the way to making it through HURT100.
 After collecting my thoughts I didn't punish myself with the last loop "just for fun", besides I needed to catch a plane.  Yes, shortly after we jumped on a plane to Kauai.  Kauai is one of my most favorite places to be on Earth and instantly refreshed the mess of me I made on Oahu.  Immediately I let go of my DNF and focused just on tomorrows 26.2 miles awaiting me. Once again, never ever would I go run a marathon the day after running 17 trail miles and to top off a 70+ mile week, but times have changed and what better way to collect miles towards your dream than in a marathon with hundreds of other people around to motivate you and aid stations!  All my trail miles have me appreciating aid stations by the way.

Sunday morning came and the ankles were a bit stiff from rolling them the day before over some
down hill attempts at not going slower than my grandma.  A deep breath on the start line, a big kiss to Mikey, and a reminder that I have got to learn to be strong when my legs and mind are most tired is the only way I'll make it through the HURT100.  I started out super easy, sitting in as 6th place girl and just kept repeating, "Be patient, be humble, be kind".  Over and over.  Every single mile I'd ask myself if I'm being patient, "Keep calm, just breathe, take your time".  Are you being humble?  26.2 miles no longer feels far to me but I always want to remember the days when it did, to respect that the distance still takes a lot out of a body.  Are you being kind?  My big goal was to truly appreciate the other runners around me, I was in some small way using them as motivation after the long miles of the week and the run the day before.  For me, both are big feats.  I'd never run back to back bigish distances nor long mile weeks before races.  So I wanted to cheer on everyone I passed, thank every single person who handed me drinks, and love the heck out of Mikey when I saw him standing at mile 11 of the run.

Mile 11 is when things really began to get good.  We begin the hills, the kind of hills that if we were in a trail race everyone would be walking.  (I say this because the day before everyone was walking up the big hills over those crazy roots and rocks), again this is something I am learning-power hike!! Well, for the road runner in me I tossed out the idea of walking and promised myself I'd run all 26.2 miles no matter what, it would be practice for my final miles of the HURT100 when everything is just sort of hanging on for dear life into the finish line.  Mikey told me there was now just one girl ahead of me.  I admit to fighting the old me, "Go get her!" and had to remind myself, "Be patient, be humble, be kind." My day was all about HURT100, just collecting miles and learning to run tired as @#$&!  Have I ever got a story for you, I did indeed catch her about mile 14, up a hill, my favorite!  Then she pulled ahead down a hill, my least favorite no thanks to my thunder thighs pounding pavement.  Being Kauai we got another long uphill where I caught her and kept my goal of being kind, "Good job, we got this, almost home." And just stayed next to her, thinking we could run together.  Well, well, well, she was not about that at all and elbowed me in the ribs.  I was so shocked I didn't really believe it was real.  Then she did it again and ran right into my little space on the road causing me to run into the shoulder.  By now I was taking all the deep breaths and saying "Be patient, be humble, be kind" over and over till I was annoying myself and decided to let her go.  I literally just dropped back behind her and let go.  The best part was we were approaching an aid station (uphill) so they got to witness all of this and were totally enjoying the show, like fist pumping in the air and hoots and hollers.  I didn't feel like a total wuss for backing off, I felt like I passed the test for being patient that might come in handy for HURT100.  Sure enough...coming down a hill I see her hurled over and throwing up.  I put my hand on her back and try to encourage her to keep at it.

Of course I'm a little scared and feel as if she will come up running behind me down the hill, never have I wanted an uphill more in my life!  About 2 miles to go and I still feel super strong.  I'm not setting any PR's here but man it felt so good to just run patient and strong and never hit the wall, I just kept wanting to run more and more, like 55 miles or something!  haha.  Getting to the finish line they announce I was 2nd overall behind Mike Wardian.  What!? WHAT?!  It was cool winning my second marathon of the Summer and all but Mike Wardian was here on Kauai!  He's one of my favorite ultra runners to follow because he just collects miles, too, so joyfully!  Anyways, I ended up grabbing my Boston Qualifying slot by 25 minutes on the hilliest, hardest, least Boston Qualifying course I've ever run.  The people of Kauai and the views kind of set into motion all the reasons why running is so special to me.  Of course, without a doubt,
having Mikey along for the ride has made all the difference, too.  He doesn't always understand my full-plated life or wild at heart ways but he is always willing to be part of it in any way he can.

Hmmm...so what's next?  Well...I'll run a trail race here on Big Island in a couple weeks but the day I am more excited about is the Peacock 55 miler in 6wks.  I already know it'll be brutal and beautiful at the same time.  Till then, I'll just be running through First Grade.  Ps... my parents just informed me the hurricane is calming down so I can end this post so my mom doesn't have an entire novel to read in her closet. The biggest mahalos of course to God above, seriously I am always counting blessings these days for the way my life is turning out.  And of course to Mikey and Kainoa for literally loving the hell out of me and giving me so many reasons to keep on going through life with purpose.  Bike Works has truly been generous in still keeping me chasing goals despite not being at triathlete any more and I know being a school teacher back in college I'd be on the struggle bus without them!  To Kalani Pascual & Augus To, I am so thankful for all your pretty pictures out on the trails, they are becoming beautiful memories of my first 100 mile journey. Finally, my run friends...I just love every single mile with you.

Bree xo

Saturday, July 15, 2017

HURT100 Practice

At least, bare minimum, 100 thoughts happened during my loop of the HURT100 course.  I'd heard stories and tales about what happens on that trail, similar to how Madam Pele rules Big Island...you don't get to just go where you want anytime you want.  Some of us have never felt her wrath on a run over the volcanoes, I'd like to think it's because she's cool with me being there and only leaving my footprints all the while having massive respect for where I'm at.  But Oahu trails I have ZERO experience or knowledge of, only the stories that precede them.  Scary ones.  Beautiful ones.  All kinds.  So let's just say I approached the trail in complete darkness, doing my best to let go and undo the thoughts in my mind that others had me entertaining.  Except one, "The trails just call some people."

Let me back up...
Friday a group of us from Big Island flew over for a weekend of "Eating Mountains for Breakfast". The Mango Madness 10 miler (put on by the HURT100 family) was about to become my first for real experience of racing a trail.  It felt similar to my first for real triathlon, including the finish line, "Am I real trail runner now!?"
I think it took me 6 triathlons to be able to call myself a triathlete, I was awkward, wearing t-shirts on my bike rides and bikini tops as sports bras.  Back to the Mango Madness.  Melanie and Jacque put on the most down to Earth race I have ever been part of!  It was very humble in production, very welcoming during the bib pick-up, and even more accepting and embracing upon finishing.  It began really grass-rootsy, I think they said the race would be between 10-13 miles long, follow the white ribbons out, green ribbons back, never the blue ones, have fun, and start in 5 seconds-GO!  I never heard 1-4, I just remember going really hard from the start. We began in a park, then up a paved road, right into the entrance of the infamous HURT100 trail.  I clung to my friend Stover like I do on all our training runs and was way up front.  That is until the trail began and being a road runner would never, ever,
not even close, help me.  At all.  We started up a big climb which is cool because I love climbing...but then a million roots were exposed, rocks were hanging out everywhere in no particular fashion that could be followed, and potholes sprinkled in from the rain (I think! or pigs).  I didn't really know how to not fall on my face but worse was not knowing how to navigate it quickly.  I mean, I could get up and over, but it was more like an eager girl stepping onto the beach for her first time in a bikini.  It was intimidating. Malory (the absolute Queen of trail running for the state of Hawaii) blew by me up a hill.  It wasn't running, it wasn't walking, I don't even know what it was-hiking?  Dancing in trail shoes with hands on your thighs? So I just copied her up the hill.  That worked really good until the down hill.  Where I never saw her again.  She was like those ninjas that gently place a foot on something then spring off it like a flying squirrel, fast and light.  I tried so hard to run fast, so fast I went off course!  Twice in fact.  Perhaps that's why the mileage would be between 10-13?  I ran 11.5.  Throughout the entire morning I was having the time of my life.  I couldn't ever run fast enough to get tired, I got better on the uphills and worked myself back near some packs I could follow around to stay on track, but absolutely got
humbled down every single hill. In fact, I was passed by a total of 13 people down the hills, some I caught back on the flats or ups, others just buried me in laughter, like the time I had to take a down hill sitting to get off a ledge and one man jumped right over my head while doing a 360* all while telling me I would be better down a hill if I'd quit blinking.  What? 

When all was said and done I was covered in happiness and mud from head to toe.  I landed 2nd to Malory which meant way, way more to me than winning Hawaii 70.3 the week before.  I actually trained for this race and poured my heart into it. It meant something to me that has been fueling my life for several months now.  I can't explain, I was just really happy.  Stover was waiting at the finish line, he took 2nd male and spit out some of the funnest words I had ever heard, "I'm going for HURT100!" He was on the fence about committing to HURT100 until he actually tasted it in the race and felt that same flood of adventure and joy that I got (Now we have to fight over Mikey for #1 crew).  But it was what Melanie told us afterwards, "The trails just call some people", that solidified the answers to WHY?  The trails just call some people.  The rest of the Kona crew sprinkled in, Mikey, Grant, Sara, and Janet.  We all wore smiles and had
experiences that would fill the rest of the weekend conversations.  I can't thank Janet & Grant from Bike Works enough for taking a little crew of us over to be part of Oahu trail running. Even bigger is how supportive they have been (are) of my dream of HURT100 since day1.  I guess after leaving triathlon I'd just assume I'd take on all my goals solo, but they are still at my side like they were when I was a girl on a bike.

Now... HURT100!!  Has this post run too long to write all 100 thoughts that happened?  Mikey, the absolute most selfless person I have ever known agreed to go an entire loop of the HURT100 course with me. HURT100 is five 20 mile loops, I just wanted to experience 1 loop so I could return to Big Island knowing a little more of what I'd be in for!  No matter how much people had been telling me about the race or their experience words can only mean so much while experience would mean infinity more.  Sunday morning finally arrived, the legs felt pretty good even after Mango Madness, Sara, Mikey, Grant and I would begin together...

This isn't so bad, just like yesterday, I've seen this part before.
Why is Grant starting so fast?!
I'm going to take this like I saw Malory take this part yesterday.  
I wish I could run this with all the Oahu trail girls!
I like the view from the edge better.  I bet this is scary in the dark. Get off the edge Bree.
Trail map.
Bye Sara and Grant, have fun on the hike to the waterfall!
Just Mikey and me, yay.  Like a date on the trail!
Mikey, I can't read a map, I'll just follow.
Maybe I should tell him I can read a map I just don't want to argue 'cause I think I'm right.
Woooooo down hill! Weeeee!  Not wee.  Faking weeeeeee. DO NOT FALL.
I need to pee.
Mikey, are you okay?  
I am going to name this part of the course rooty.  
So many roots!  So many roots.  It's like a fallen ladder of roots!
This is the worst date ever. He is ignoring me.
Bree quit being so damn happy on a trail, you're annoying him.
Why do people run injured?  
This is going to be the longest day ever if we walk the entire thing 'cause he's injured.
This is going to be the longest day ever if we don't talk the entire thing.
I feel like running.
I want to run.
I'll run all the run-able parts, hike the crazy parts, and not fall down the hills.
Everybody out here hiking is so happy. 
Just keep fueling like it's an Ironman. Good girl. Eat more. 
Will he be mad if I run ahead of him?
This is wrong, all wrong, pretty sure we are off course, Bree DO NOT argue, just go this way.
Yep, off course, he figured it out. Just smile. Just smile. He looks so upset.
Why do men get upset about directions, maps, and navigational skills so easily?
I don't care if we got off course, I am having the best time.
What's 2 extra miles?
Mikey Brown quit being grumpy! 
I don't care if we went off course, I did twice yesterday and still had fun! 
Oh, but he's injured, every moment extra out here is just more pain for him.
I'm naming this part stair master. 
When I get home I'm going to learn to love the stair master and do it all day one day!
He looks so miserable. Don't look. Don't look. Don't let him see you looking at him.
Now I feel so bad. He's out here for me and I'm not even talking to him,
Go tell him how much this means to you.
What guy on Earth would suffer this trail for a girl?!
Hey, I love you. Do you need drinks or anything?  I have lots.
Bamboo forest! Is this for real! The BEST wind chimes in the world.
Wow! The view.  This view.  And him. He kind of looks cute being a pain in my ass.
I wonder if he knows I love him even though I don't like him right now.
Nearly to the waterfalls!  Seriously, this just keeps getting better!
Slippery. Don't fall Bree.  I fell.  
I think I broke my knee, stop exaggerating Bree.  Big girls don't cry.
Mikey just walked right around me, leaving me on the trail on my knees, my broken knee!
YOU'RE fired Mikey Brown!  You can't crew for me being a butthead!
Wait, I'm the butthead, he is out here for me!  He doesn't have to be.
Pick yourself up and run. Go catch back up to him.
And he is leaving me in the dust! RUUUUUUUUUUUUN.
I hope we get a rainbow.  
Oh my gosh!  This is the prettiest view I have ever seen!  I want a picnic here!
If I was a guy I'd propose to my girl right here!  This place is so beautiful!
I'm going to run, run fast, it's okay if he can't keep up, I'm running!
I wonder if Madam Pele ever rules these trails like she does back home.
Mikey, I am running down this trail and back up solo, you can wait here and rest your knee.
Is that mean?  No. That's nice.  He won't make it worse doing this super steep section.
I'm a good girlfriend letting him rest the knee.
I'm the worst girlfriend ever.  Ugh.  What's a girl to do!
Wow, this is my new favorite part of the course!  
I have never seen anything like this in my life!
I feel like an explorer finding paradise!  Hard to get to paradise.
Okay, do I slide down this rock on my butt or what?!
I'm totally sliding on my butt, please don't rip shorts, please do not rip!
This is probably dangerous being down here by myself, nah, he knows where I am.
Okay, this must be where aid station #2 is.  Cool.  Not lost at all.
No wonder the finisher rate for this is like 40% or something.
Keep humble Bree.  Keep patient.  Keep kind.
I still can't believe this is my life.  SO THANKFUL.
Up. up. up. up. up.  Hey, there's Mikey!
I am so happy to share this with him. I wonder if he's having fun. I hope. Nope. 
Hey, let's run this part! It's straight up like nothing I have ever been up!
I am totally taking a picture of this.  It's like a wall.  Do the girls walk this or run this or crawl this?
How do people do loops 4 and 5 in the dark?!  
I'm going to pee again.  Hydration game on point. And Mikey just took off.
Only 8 miles to go!  
I'm kind of sad this is almost over.
Not really, 8 trail miles is not like 8 road miles... plenty to go.
5ish miles to go.  Now I'm really sad.  I'm not ready to get off the trails.
Oh, he's running strong now!  Yay!  He totally did not make his injury worse.
Cool, back to being a great date! 
1.8 miles to go. Really not ready for it to be over, I feel like going as fast as I can.
I wonder if I'd eat it if I just let lose and ran carefree?
Nah, be mindful.  Don't risk falling this close to the finish.
I want to hug and kiss him!  Mikey we did it!
And...one loop done!  I would like 4 more, please.
I know he'd never punch me but he looks like he could punch me.
Did I just give him the world's worst 20 something mile experience?
Well, at least if he hated it he won't want to race it and will crew for me. 
I secretly enjoy being covered in mud. And these shoes are amazing.
Don't tell anyone but that was funner than Ironman.
I am so glad to not be a triathlete anymore.
Can I call myself a trail runner yet?  I'll run a few more first, for now I'm just covered in dirt.

That's what I can remember of the day.  So many thoughts, so many emotions.  I hear stories of couples and best friends
throwing away relationships out on that trail.  I surely ran through a million thoughts of my own out there, mostly all pleasant, entirely desiring to be part of HURT100, yet also reminded of how fortunate I am to not be taking on the trail dream alone.  Despite everything that went on out there I was so thankful to share it with someone who I know will stick with me through the highs and lows of being support crew. Yeah, even after announcing somewhere over looking a gorgeous valley that Mikey was fired as my support crew (we had a good chuckle) both of us are enjoying these days on trails and just figuring it out as we go.  We don't find out till August if we are in and I'm still entirely okay pouring so much of myself into this while not losing myself, that's what makes the unknowns so special-going despite knowing.

What's next...?  I'll play in the Kona Marathon next weekend. I've never had the chance to run it because I was always doing an Ironman somewhere far away or saving my legs. I'm totally looking forward to banking up some miles in a race I've yet to run through my backyard...

Happy running!
Bree xo

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hawaii 70.3

It is officially Summer (sort of!).   I have 3 days this week of some Professional Development training on using Thinking Maps in the class to make AMAZING readers and writers, doubt you care, let me carry on...
The final school bell did in deed ring, wrapping up my return to the classroom with a big girl job of 40+ hours a week, a real payday, and actually understanding what Friyay truly means. Admittedly, it feels nice being able to relate to all my friends who did not spend all day most days outside in their bathing suits, on bikes, or chasing dolphins. Other than sobbing like a baby when I hugged all my little First Graders goodbye, another something special happened at the little school by the beach-Kainoa finished up his years at Kahakai Elementary and celebrated his middle school promotion.  That boy has been going to Kahakai since his days in my belly!  I used to throw up my morning sickness in the rubbish just because I could never make it to the restroom on time.  This momma is now a mother to a middle schooler-yikes. Wow. Cool. I think...

Other than that I have spent every single spare moment running.  Mostly on trails. More running than I ever thought possible for a regular two-legged girl.  I've now had a couple 70 mile weeks, an 80 mile week, and 3 weeks ago a back-to-back weekend of marathons!  I know!  I'll refrain from the profanities I used to think about the people I've become like.  But I did that stuff, ran that stuff!  A marathon Saturday on top of Mauna Kea and the good 'ol marathon Sunday in sun-kissed Kona. I'm pouring my heart and soul into this pretty (often muddy) little-big dream to join the HURT100 family.  It's truly ambitious and humbling to go after a dream you have minimal control over. It really doesn't matter how much you train, how qualified you are, or if you win or lose races.  They don't care, nobody cares.  That's part of why I have fallen deeply in love with Ultrarunning.  It's a family of support that does not judge you, hold you on any kind of podium, or belittle you.  You get to be you.  BUT you have to put in the work and be more disciplined than I've ever been before.  Because...just in case your name gets called in August you have to be knee (or maybe its waist deep) in your mileage by then.  I'm not entirely sure as I've never run that far or done anything like this.  I just know you can't fake it till you make it like I've been known to do far too many times to admit in triathlon.  It's been maybe one of the biggest gifts to my life to become an ultrarunner.  The journey alone is a lot all my old travel experiences.  So very rich and rewarding. This is just happening more often and without having to fly around the world.  Back to that fake it till you make it stuff... 

Part of increasing my run miles included this plan to swim twice a week and ride twice a week January-June, to avoid injury and cross train. Some weeks it worked rather well and I made it to the pool or threw in a local bike race for one of my rides.  Other weeks school was just too demanding and motherhood needed me far more than training.  I never skipped my runs but I had no problem missing swim or bike.  My heart truly doesn't feel the same passion for it that it once did and I'm okay with that.  Other weeks I was actually motivated to swim or ride but the pool was closed, shark sighting and closed beaches for ocean, or my bike tire was flat (insert excuses that I didn't mind having). Somewhere
along the lines of committing to this swim/bike thing I signed up for Hawaii 70.3, actually it was Mikey's fault.  He was racing, we could do it together, I know, so cute. Under The Bodhi tree signed me up, payed my way, I could not say no. A sincere MAHALO to them for the kindness, the opportunity, and helping me afford it.  About a month before the race school got busy with tests, report cards, helping Kainoa learn/understand everything for his giant test, and I just lacked time to ride.  The weekend before Honu I promised I'd go ride with the Saturday group, they would whoop me into shape, remind me how to suffer, and connect to my bike.  Except 40 minutes into the ride our group had a horrible crash leaving 3 men down.  Broken rib on one, broken clavicle on another, and road rash on all three.  It was absolutely enough to get me away from my bike till Honu.  I didn't really care if a race was coming, it was scary to see friends injured and nearly miss being part of the pile up (I was hit but stayed upright).  The next day my friend Staci encouraged me to ride with her, we rode 2.5 hours and I was convinced that was now more than enough.  Race week I rode 30 minutes and left it at that.  I did swim more race week than I probably swam all year though.  5 days! While everyone else was tapering I was cramming in my yards...awesome!!  Honu, finally arrived! Insert excitement.
However, Mikey was no longer racing.  Believe me, aside from feeling sad he was side-lined I was poking my eyes out that I would still be out there suffering, because of him! I could have spent the day on top of Mauna Kea running (I have spent almost every Saturday for the last few weeks up there).  Well, if anything I figured the race would be great mental practice to push hard (ultra running is teaching me to take it patient) and I could use the experience running exhausted.  The coolest news happened the night before the race, I got an email that I had been selected to run the Peacock 55 miler!  Like HURT100 you are on a waiting list and wait.  Kainoa and I did what any passionate mother runner would do, we went for a run!  He hopped on his bike and paced me along, it was awesome!  I'd never, ever, ever just go take an evening run the night before a triathlon back when I was a for real triathlete.  No way would I deviate from a plan and stop my chillaxing.  But we did.  Kainoa has come to truly enjoying riding his bike so I never miss a moment to share miles with him.  Back to Honu.  It was great to catch up with everyone, smack talk as usual, wipe my blue face zinc on, and be part of something kind of unknown.  As with all races you just don't know what the body is going to do...but you do it anyway. Hawaii 70.3 has changed a bit since I last raced it.  Having no expectations I never found room to
complain or even entertain much about any outcomes.  I'm super goal oriented so I of course had a couple for the day.  #1 was to enjoy with no pressure.  I made myself promise not to get mad about anything out there.  That was an easy one.  The 35-39 girls wave start was awesome!  Loads of fun women.  A lot of laughter, plenty of "good lucks" and "have funs".  Kind people.  The difference was we had waves, unlike previous years I've known. Our wave was 42 minutes after the first wave, which meant we had heaps of people all over in the water to navigate through.  I absolutely loved it!  It kept me motivated, focused, and entertained.  I never punched, hit, or blacked eyed anyone! Very different than the pro waves I remember.  A few ladies in the 65-69 year wave that I caught did however breast kick me pretty good, but it never phased me.  I knew then this day really would be mostly rainbows and butterflies.  Having Kainoa, Mikey, and Stover on the sidelines made it really fun, too.  They were everywhere and had all sorts of cheesy faces and cheers.  Onto the bike my goal #2 was to ride for Josiah.  He was the boy who took the worst of the spill last weekend.  I marked his initials real big where I could see them on my arm and just put my head down for him. I also begged and thanked Madam
Pele for the winds.  Having minimal bike fitness I knew an easy day of winds would never help a girl like me.  I wanted it scary and wild.  The kind that having a strong mind could possibly trump having lots of bike miles.  She provided.  I loved the ride!  It was so much more fair than I'd ever seen this course! Coming from way behind I just pedaled along saying "hi" to all my Kona friends and others I'd met over the years going up to Hawi.  I figured I was riding strong because I was passing people but had no idea since part of the plan was no Garmin or watts or heart rate.  Hills have always been my favorites so that may have helped, too.  The downhill was pretty lousy.  It was the only time I got passed.  My crank is way too small for me but I refuse to invest in anything for triathon, so I just spun out like a little rodent in a wheel.  Again, thankfully the winds were out by the time our wave hit Hawi, they probably helped me a little bit being familiar with them.  Once I jumped off the bike I figured no matter how horrible I felt I'd at least be running.  Yay.  All I felt like doing.  Except I didn't feeling like it.  My lower back hurt so bad from sighting so much the entire swim and my neck had me in tears from looking up from my aero bars.  Perhaps I was now being humbled to tears for thinking I could just go out and do this with years and years of muscle memory.
The legs, lungs, and fitness were just fine.  But the parts of the body specific to swim/bike were not.  Stover was in transition waiting to tag his biker for the run.  I looked at him and said I don't think I can run.  I train on the trails with him more than anyone so I figured he would have something to say.  I don't think he said anything because I heard nothing.  So I said, "Catch me if you can" and took off running.  Jogging.  Slow poking right into this guy name Ben.  As luck would have it, he's an ultra runner and his coach has actually won HURT100!  Forget Honu (even though I was currently 57.2 miles into it!) We ran an entire loop together. I told him I just got into Peacock 55 last night, want to run HURT100, and a bunch of other stuff that probably bored him-except he never ran away from me.  He kept reminding me that how I feel is how I'll be feeling at the end of my ultras, to embrace this, and work through it.  Honestly, my back and neck never hurt so bad.  It was making me want to throw up.  The pain was insane. But the legs-handled like champs. As if they could indeed run 100 miles.  The second loop I was on my own with Nell ahead of me.  I truly had no idea where anyone was.
With 45 minutes of women spread out you just don't know.  I tried to catch her, I cheered her on when we'd pass the out and backs *had to stay true to my ENJOY the day & be nice plan.  I saw Mikey and Kainoa, they told me she was in a wave that started a few waves in front of me.  SO I spit out some smart mouth remark, "Oh, who cares then." because the Math told me my finish time if I kept it up would be faster than hers.  They yelled at me, not sure what it was, I think it was, "What a wimp, you're not even going to try!".  SO I put my head down and reeled her in.  We ran together for a little bit, I asked her to stay with me and run in together, using each other for company, but she let me go ahead.  She is one of my most respected and favorite women to race with.  Women like her remind me of some of the wonderful of the sport.  Crossing the finish line was obviously a very, very welcoming sight.  Everything never quit hurting.  My neck and back are still super angry at me, but the legs are only reminding me that they are right where they need to be with this super long running stuff.  I was expecting a laughable swim/bike combo and an amazing run split but got nearly the opposite out there.  Everything else went according to plan, I enjoyed the day, rode for Josiah, and took good note of those on the side lines and volunteers who really helped move me (all of us) along out there. I had a few mention I should return to triathlon but my heart is just not there and Honu reminded me of that.  The ultra running scene is so much more my style these days.  It's so embracing.  And nobody is calling me out that I don't belong because I'm en ex pro triathlete.  Yes, I was shamed by a few women (I'll call them girls because where I come from women throw compliments and support around like glitter) for being out there.

What's up next?  Mango Madness 10 miler this weekend.  I know, soon.  But that's okay.  I'm no stranger to being humbled and I have to, for me.  It will be my first for real trail race over on Oahu. A bunch of us from Kona are going over and plan to spend the following day on the HURT100 trail-you know, just in case I get in.  Not living over there where HURT100 happens we are maximizing our moment on Oahu.  I seriously am beyond excited!  Never would I have imagined putting on a Camelbak and some big 'ol Hoka trail shoes would be so cool!  But for me it really is!  I used to tease the crap out of both the packs and the shoes and now they are like my two dearest friends every weekend.

I guess that's all I have to report on.  I've already forgotten how to keep up with this blog.  Maybe over Summer it will get better being as I'll be outside more and at the run races often.  Massive mahalos to Bike Works Kona for always, always being there since my first ever bike.  To my brother n' law at Velofix Hawaii for clearing the cobwebs off my bike and making it like new every time I bring it to him.  To Under The Bodhi Tree for putting me in Honu, it was wonderful practice for suffering on a run that I thought would come so easily.  For SOS Rehydrate, you are pretty much the only drink that works in Kona heat.  Hoka, for my pretty hot pink and neon green tracers.  Kona Aquatics
for letting me jump back in the pool here and there as if I never left the team, you are truly the best crew to swim with.  The FOMO FB training group.  It was rather annoying most days getting daily workouts that you all were doing but I couldn't make, although I always appreciated the invites! You all at the very least made me feel in good company and motivated.  Pat & Billy, all the run miles. Mikey, for signing up for Honu-if it weren't for you I wouldn't have.  Also, for my hot pink saddle.  There is no way I could have ridden that far without it. And mostly just for being okay with all these ideas I come up with that hardly ever make sense to anyone but me. And Kainoa, everything is always because of you.  I just want to be the one in your life who reminds you to always see the bright side and go do things, whatever they may be-live purposefully and with all your heart.  I dedicated this race to my 2016-2017 First Graders...They had to deal with me on the daily pushing them to never be wasting time, wasting kindness, or wasting their gifts.  I would get so angry when they wouldn't try, I hope they remember that and will always be tryers (I may have made that word up).  They made me work hard on Saturday to not waist my time, my kindness (I would have liked to yank the woman who breaststroke kicked me), waist my gifts, but more importantly-try. Like try to run down Nell... Ps... thank you again, Nell!

See you all on the trails.
Bree xx