Monday, February 12, 2018

Iwaki Sunshine City Marathon...

Current Mood:  Moved.

Life is so different for me doing a sport I love for no money at all (If you're a new reader of my long winded posts I used to race triathlon, often getting fortunate enough to earn some bling).  Have you ever tried to simply do anything without a string attached?  Like give a gift and expect nothing in return?  I think that's how you know you really love something.  You can do it often, everyday, rain or shine, happy or sad, get nothing or everything in return, and still care about it...and for me, still be moved.

I'm home now from Japan and once again, as I always am, better for leaving home & having an experience.  Let me rephrase that, "share an experience."  As I get older life is showing me how precious the people around us are and how much they enrich all that we do.  In this case, the wonderful crew at The Kauai Marathon and Iwaki Sunshine City Marathon,  what a bunch of beautiful people. Oh, add to that the Aussie runners from the other "Sister City" of Townsville!

What exactly just happened?  Let's rewind to September 2017.  I ran and got super lucky with the win at the Kauai Marathon, on a whim, on a mission to collect lots of miles for HURT100 (the 100 mile race I was training for).  Every single mile I ran had the sole purpose of moving me towards my dream of becoming an ultrarunner and finishing HURT100.  I've always considered running the Kauai Marathon (mostly because I like hills & heat).  It came the day after a 50k race and smack in the middle of a 70 mile week, so why not go get humbled...and that I did.  Kauai itself is a must-do for any runner living in Hawaii as it is truly island style, from the chickens parading the streets, to the locals all up in your face while running telling you, "Get it girl, come on now, just bust this thing out, mmm girl, get it", to the food *you know Hawaii loves food!, to the race directors making sure you are welcomed like family, and finally to every single runner in the race "experiencing" it together-I kid you not!  It's the only road race I have ever run that felt like a trail race because everyone supported each other so strongly.  Back to that winning part, I'm not trying to brag, I'm just trying to loudly share that this race GIVES THE WINNER AN ALL EXPENSE PAID TRIP TO JAPAN TO RUN THE IWAKI SUNSHINE CITY MARATHON!  Did you hear me?  Actually, Michael Wardian won but had prior race obligations elsewhere so the trip went over to the female winner.  *Note: Every other year they send female then male, ect. As for the Sister City part, Townsville, Australia and Iwaki Japan are all united with Kauai because of a buoy that came loose over in Japan during a storm years ago and landed in the waters off the coast of Kauai... I bet I just butchered that story as my Japanese is no bueno.  Just take to heart the 3 cities are family and each year they each send runners from their races to the Sister Cities to share a marathon together...unique if you ask me.

Now for the run/fun part!  Iwaki took hold of my heart, held it super close, then set me free, unapologetically afraid to experience every single opportunity for all that it is worth.  The moment we stepped off the plane we were greeted to the most welcoming embraces by two gorgeous Japanese women, Satomi &Akari, who became friends before the trip was over.  They showed us the town where the 2011 tsunami took out most the village including some of their loved ones, they gave us a lesson in culture that could never be learned in a book, they shared with us history that we don't learn in school, and they allowed me the freedom to ask every question under the sun (you know I am so curious about everything!) without judgement or making it a racial thing.  We shared more meals, hours upon hours of driving & laughter, an aquarium visit, a hula show, meeting the mayor and a giant welcome dinner (all eaten while standing!), and my personal favorite-a trip to the temple.



If you know me, I LOVE seeing temples, churches, any place where God is praised and people give worship to something/someone higher than themselves.  It just moves me to learn about and hear about how others go through life.  Maybe because I know we all experience highs and lows and without my faith I know I'd never make it through my own personal battles.  I wanted to see how they deal.  I spent some time wiping tears that's for sure.  I asked a lot of questions, dug deep into the hearts of my new Japanese friends, and tried to do more listening than usual...forgive my big mouth.  At the end of it all I got to reach in and grab a trinket with my 2018 fortune.  As a firm believer in fortune cookies-just kidding, but I do find sheer entertainment in them, I was pretty excited about having a for real Japanese fortune read for me.  Everything Akari read to me was pretty enough I allowed myself to be entertained just enough I'd put a bit of pep in my step that 2018 is gonna be a good year.  In Japan they have this tradition that if you don't like your fortune you don't have to be "tied to it."  For real, I loved that!  I respected that!  We aren't defined by what it says about us.  So...if you don't like it you can tie it in a bow on a tree and walk away from it believing bigger and better for your life.  Ah... refreshing. Take note dear reader, we are not defined by what anyone says about us.  If they call you a name or hurt you, tie it in a pretty bow on the tree and walk away believing there is a greater blessing to your life than the hurts that you just opened.


Onto the race!  By the time we actually got to the start line I admit to being equal parts very excited and equal parts exhausted.  Liz, the Aussie runner gave me a wonderful nugget of advice, "We aren't here for a PR but an experience."  I did my best to believe that and was refreshed just embracing my opportunity to be in Japan.  Except, you know me, and perhaps the Japanese culture, too, everything has an intention and strong purpose.  You will give your all.  So... I lined up with my goal of busting out a sub 2:55 and did not get it, at all. I ran a 3:05, 3rd place female, and felt proud of my efforts.  That was all that I had on the day.  As for the course it was windy, hilly, and chilly.  The streets were lined in some areas as if a parade was going on and other areas were silent except for your thoughts of what happened here, at least for me it was.  I kept thinking about the tsunami as we ran where the wave once covered the street.  I tried to feel for the people and tried to keep moving the way the town had only that choice, too, to keep moving.  My favorite part of the course is how they call the finish line the "goal".  I LOVE that.  From now on I am crossing goals!  Because isn't that so true?!  It's a goal, we make it to the goal...but we aren't really finished.  We always have more and more and more...

During the race my favorite part was running with one of the local girls.  We stayed together for about half the race.  She was a crowd favorite for sure, while I can't translate just what words were being cheered for her I could understand that they wanted her to be stronger and come out victorious.  I understand.  We had a few elbows at the start and some exchanges of position, but after a couple miles we became teammates.  We shared "we got this" and "we can do this" and "sugoi" and "gambate" and thumbs up.  I think that that point it made the spectators happy seeing the local girl and white girl "running peacefully".  Our world is such a mess I too embraced this point of the race more than any other.  After the half way point she began to fall behind a little, I kept looking back for her and motioning for her to stay with me.  On an out and back we smiled and cheered each other on.  For me, it was as beautiful as the sunrise Japan is known for, having peace with people and yourself.

Crossing the finish line I was more tired than HURT100.  It took so much for me to press on and dig when emotionally it had been a couple days of just feeling so much.  I'm one of those people that can handle physically taxing things more than emotionally taxing things.  Not sure why travel does that to me, but it does and I'm thankful for it because I love having life enriched like it gets all because my mind is opened.  Anyways, it was incredible, all of it.  A gift given to me from the team at Kauai Marathon and Iwaki Sunshine City Marathon that will forever bless me, be remembered for a long, long time, and something I can't repay...a for real gift. 











Thursday, January 18, 2018

HURT100...

Let me begin by saying everything I'm about to say is made entirely possible due in large part to my crew. They absolutely had my back (and Tiffany may have had my butt a time or two) every single step of the way.  Going into HURT100 the only thing that I didn't feel prepared for was having a crew.  Coming from Ironman I was not used to it, I packed my own bike, flew solo most all trips, prepared my own fuel, and then loaded my bike & I up on our own after the races.  No fuss, no clutter.  I didn't know how to depend on people nor did I know how to ask for help, now here I was about to tackle 100 miles with people at my side.  The thing I did have going for me heading to the start line is that each person I asked to be part of my day said "yes" without any reservations. Instant yeses.  Being a single mom, 1st Grade teacher, I also didn't have a bunch of money to offer to buy their flights so that made me really nervous-but they all arrived on Oahu to be there for me and I'm now a HURT100 finisher because they showed up in ways I could never repay them... so to my CREW, I love you and thank you beyond words.  As for the race, it was 31+ hours long.  I landed 5th place female & first virgin (um, not that kind) first 100 mile attempt virgin, across the line.  That sums it up...it was rocky, rooty, hot, cold, I loved every painful minute of it, and I caught two sunrises.  If you want to know more read on...

Prerace:
I was as calm as can be. I'm one of those people that do a pretty good job of taking care of everything within my control, the training, the recovery, the work.  And I've been fortunate to see a lot of sour moments turn around for the good so I stay optimistically calm in situations out of my control.  Mostly I was just really excited.  My dream run day finally arrived!  Holding my bib it felt as if I was about to open a gift that would change me forever-for better.  A couple goals lingered here and there but I tried not to entertain them too deeply for this super ultra distance is so unknown to me and keeping humble was the only surefire way I felt I'd be able to guarantee a finish (my ultimate goal).


Loop 1.
HURT100 is 5x20 mile loops (not really loops, more like fallopian tube looking trails).  But I'll call them loops as I always do because I like loops & we repeat the same 20 mile "loopy thing" 5x.  If you dislike loops you will truly be annoyed in this race.  Pat (my Big Island run partner) and I ran together, mostly because we like to share miles, it would help us pace calm, and its a nice way to keep the mind relaxed before we'd be depending on it just to take a single step forward.  The start was so amazing, under a starlit sky I was about to live my "wish upon a star".  We started in the very back with every intention to just cruise.  And that we did.  Slowly we passed the people who we maybe should have started in front of, but never entertained any placings or frustrations.  It was sheer fun, a lot of, "Can you believe we are finally here?!" This course is by far one of my favorite places in the world.  While it's known for being brutal I still find it unapologetically gorgeous and fun-yes fun.  My loop 1 was about 4 and a half hours, exactly where I wanted to be.  My strategy going into this was probably not one for the faint of heart or realistic people...but it made great sense to me and I know me better than anyone.  Hey, my average heart rate was 105 so that tells me it was chill, too. You see, I have this crazy thing where I fall asleep as soon as its dark out. So I wanted to be strong for as long as I could before sunset then hope to not pass out in the dark-in other words-move in the sunlight! 


The good:  Nicely paced, relaxed, in control, ate and drank well, wide awake, WIDE awake, peed (nicely hydrated), no hallucinations, no rolled ankles, ran with friends, good hair control (that matters to me!)  I have a mop for hair.
The bad:  Nothing yet.


Loop2:
Hot damn we are really doing this!  Seriously, I was like a kid in a candy store.  Just loving it so much.  I may have skipped out of transition to begin loop2.  The first climb is Hogs Back, an absolute beast of a climb that I've yet to figure out the best path to take up it-left, right, middle?  Before starting the race I made myself promise myself that I would walk Hogs Back every loop no matter how amazing I felt.  By doing so I figured it would keep me calm, allow for some eating and drinking, totally avoid using an inhaler, and put at least 3 rolled ankles out of chance.  I came into the first aid station like a little fireball!  See above! It was a lot of "whoooop whooop, do you believe we are doing this!?"  It was a minute or 2 faster than the previous 20 miles so I knew I was being smart with my pacing.  And the fact energy levels were off the charts I knew I was nailing my Spring Energy calories.  Yes sir... off we go!  From Paradise Park to Nu'uanu is just over 5 miles, my favorite 5 miles of the course!  Judd Trail just makes me feel like a girl on her wedding day or something, its beyond beautiful and the climb reminds me that only people willing to work really hard will ever get to experience it, that's enough to make me appreciate good health!  I got into the second aid station still feeling pretty awesome, except this is where Pat left me.  He was going off on a mission and I wanted to keep "my pace".  I still felt like I could run all day long-bye, bye, Stover!



Off I went, all excited to get back to my crew at the Nature Center.  The entire 7 something miles back I was thinking of just what to say when I saw them...I was seeing and experiencing so much I just had to tell them all about it.  EXCEPT... I left without taking any calories!  Ooops.  So as you can imagine, I was a little nervous.  I got over there about 15 minutes slower pace than my first loop so the day was still pretty much rockstar for me.  Except I panicked and ran into the aid station like a complete tool, so not calm under fire.  There went my something cool to tell my crew, I blurted out, "Grant, help me.  Can you help me.  What do I do? Did I blow my race?  I didn't eat or drink anything for however long.  I'm so sorry guys, so sorry I messed up." Clearly I'm not used to having a crew and the start of "I'm sorry" had just begun.  I think they counted 2,482 "I am sorrys."  It was super hard for me to feel like I was letting anyone down.  Grant gave me two Spring Energy's and I instantly felt back in the game. He reminded me it's better to be under than over so this is salvageable. 200ish calories (my goal is 200 an hour).   He was so right, I could breathe again, I was happy again, let's go...

Good:  My outfit was still working for me, no blisters or chaffing, reset myself after a hiccup, great hair day (as in I have my hair ties!) and I peed again!  Success.
Bad:  Skipped fuel and drinks, ran too long without anything.


Loop 3:
Walked up Hogs Back, my heart was so happy, my day was still going well and I was about to have a pacer!  The next stop I'd get to pick up JD!  I tried the ipod for a song or two and felt all my country music take me back to memories of my long solo runs.  It was wonderful, I was just so damn happy!  Like the kind of happy you don't think happens to a girl like you.  I wasn't worried about my placing or time, I just wanted to remain feeling good throughout my race, this day I worked so hard for, I promised myself to enjoy it, every bit of it.  With that I decided to take SO MUCH SALT (I won't mention the brand or what not 'cause its a good product) but I literally drank two packs of it thinking that will ensure I am full of electrolytes and replacing what I lost from that 2hr period I ran out of fuel.  SO here I blew it a bit.  I'm no scientist (clearly!) so my thinking (clearly!) was not factual.  All of a sudden I got bloated and could no longer take my calories.  Everything went dizzy.  I told myself to just get to the aid station!  I was coming into the aid station about 25 minutes after the first place girl (again I was not thinking about "racing" this) but it made me think I'm not totally blowing the day to be that near the front of the race, but then again everyone told me the race doesn't begin till the dark happens...

I got into the aid station and pretty much faked "feeling fine".  My crew knew I wasn't my ballistic self and that I was going to really need their help getting through this.  Not to mention it was now dark...I like to sleep in the dark.  Loop 3 completely went to hell for me.  Hell.  Right into hell.   Bring on JD!  (Whom I sadly have no photos with because his phone went over the valley during our run!).  Loop 3 was my longest loop of the entire race. It went like this...

Wahhhhh, crying.  More crying. Puke.  More puke.  Lay in the middle of the trail.  Puke.  Take off my pukey shirt because the smell of puke was making me puke.  Tell JD I am sorry (408 times!)  Try to run.  Try to hike.  Puke.  Lay in the middle of the trail again.  Meet Matt at the top of Judd Trail taking a nap, he tells JD and I he set his phone alarm so he will indeed wake back up, I insist we lay down, too!  So I nap with Matt (JD my pacer does not look happy with my plan).  Now let me tell you, JD is the sweetest guy in the universe, he would never tell me no or go or hurry.  He is so patient but I can tell he wants me to keep moving.  SO I get up and make Matt get up (cause strength in numbers!).  It's past midnight now and I keep puking.  The guys are so good to me and totally helpful while puke covers my hair, face, and body.  I am still loving HURT100 though and beg JD to help me, to help me turn it around.  We both don't know what to do.  He breaks out my picture of Kainoa at some point and it gives me more courage than I've ever had.  So I begin to play match maker and tell Matt all about my loop 4 pacer, Malia.  How she's this bombshell and they will just adore each other and he has to do loop 4 with us! The I throw up again but this time it tastes like blood because I have no more food in me and my throat hurts from stomach acid.  I'm having a super good time though with these two guys, laughing and making jokes, but my body is so angry at me.  I can finally see the end of loop 3 and begin to run!  Malia, Malia, Malia I found your future husband!  Matt, Matt, where are you Matt (I dropped Matt), he came into the aid station and I tried to set them up.  Then I threw up...Wendy changed my clothes and socks, my crew made a game plan to get me going, I threw up so much in the grass that it worried me there was nothing left in me, every time I tried to take anything I'd just puke.  Instantly.  And I wanted to sleep so desperately.  Mikey knows my heart better than anyone so he tried to have a conversation with me, I cried to him telling him how sad I was that my legs felt so amazing and all my hard work was being wasted because I can't even take water at this point!  The puddle of puke was so big, I just looked at Mikey, looked at him, then made a fist and smacked the puke puddle in my sadness. It splattered up at Mikey, he kissed my pukey face, and I have no idea what he said.  But I got up, got a grip, and decided to trust my crew...
The good:  Keeping positive, having incredible laughter with JD, still no blisters, chaffing, or injuries, seeing stars, not falling off the edge of any valley
The bad:  So much puke, all those salts, JD's phone falling off the edge of the valley, spending too much time laying down (made me more dizzy).


Loop 4:
Malia is my lucky loop 4 girl.  She is one of Hawaii's absolute best and fastest runners so I knew she'd be amazing for me-not because speed is needed in HURT100, at least not for me at this point!  But I believe in order to be as talented as her it takes a strong mind, a strong mind is what I needed more than anything right now.  Off we went, hiked up my shirt, new socks on, fixed my hair, Tiffany washed my face, I was ready to introduce Malia and Matt!  hehehe.  All the way up Hogs Back we girl talked, about weddings, men, sex, food, running, work, children, you know-all your typical slumber party stuff!  This was a runber party!  I was starting to feel a little better so I began some calories...barf.  This was going to be a loooooong night.  Malia sat me down at one point and told me I won't make it through to the finish if I try to keep going with no water and no food.  I just didn't know what to do anymore.  My mood was good, laughter was at an all time high, and my legs felt so amazing, they kept begging to run.  We had such a blast barfing our way through the night and meeting so many cool people!  We had lots of them tell us how funny we were and how loud we were, hearing us miles away!  But I couldn't figure out what to do.  We made it to the first aid station and one of the "Pirates" told me to literally stop eating and drinking, that I could go 3hrs without anything!  I thought I was hallucinating but decided to trust him anyways.  SO my plan was nothing all the way to the next aid station.  Well.... wouldn't you believe it!  Good thing I had one of the best runners in Hawaii with me, we were eventually running!  We moved so well to the next aid station, totally awake and fired up!  I had to hug Freddy (the race director for Peacock 55 miler) and the aid station leader, he was so supportive of me on my sick loops, just reminding me how strong I am and that it will come back to me.  He was so right, it came back and my legs got to run.
Homeward bound Malia and I went with Matt hot on our heels.  Now that my superpowers were back (or forward moving progress as some call it) I had to finish playing "dating show of the trails".  I told Matt I was going to be running with Grant loop 5 and he can have Malia if he wants for his loop 5...hehehe.  I am sure my friends were totally embarrassed,  but I'm a sucker for all things love and romance!  Malia and I flew into our final aid station, now it was about 6am...I was back on my regular fueling plan that worked for my first two loops and the sun was about to rise!

The good:  Malia. Staying so insanely determined.  Peeing on a frog.  Getting back my nutrition game. My crew taking great care of me, so much so that I never felt anything but happy and appreciative despite the puke I was going through.  My outfit again being on point- as far as chaffing goes cause I was not using any Vaseline! (Seriously! Was I going to make it through my first 100 in one piece?!)
The bad:  I don't know if it was bad or not, just a lot of learning, rookie mistakes with nutrition for a race this long, first one, clueless when to force calories and when to remain empty.

Loop 5.  Say what!?  80 miles down, one to go, got my Hawaiian Ola and my Spring Energy, no more salt stuff and no more "other things"...ready!  It felt like my first loop... we ran out of there.  And we just kept cruising until Hogs Back where we began to walk...
The sun was just about to rise, it was hot pink!  I was so in love with my day (and night) and new day that I was now tears of joy all over again.  I told myself loop 5 was all about soaking everything of my first 100 up!  Last 20 miles I wanted to run, er race!  I felt that good.  But I was reminded that 20 miles is still 20 miles, so you know-cruise.  Grant and I totally cruised.  We were less than 30 minutes off the pace it took me to get to the first aid station on loop 1!  And that was like 80 miles ago!  It felt so nice to run happy again and with Grant, one of my best Big Island training partners.  It felt like just another day on the trails like we always have.
It was also so good sharing the day with Wendy, she definitely did not go out on the course to pace me, she hates running more than anyone I know. But she she stood at my side every single aid station making sure I could run if she could help it.  Anyways, Grant and I clicked away the miles...

I have never loved running more than I did during HURT100.  It was so special to me, to learn just how resilient the body is, how strong the mind is, and more importantly how grateful it is to have people to share it with.  My crew played such a huge role in my day, Mikey, Wendy, Grant, Janet, Malia, JD, and Tiffany, I could not have done this without you.  I needed you more than I have ever relied on anyone to get me through to the other side of a dark place.  At no time did I ever entertain the idea of quitting or wanting it to be over, in fact I wasn't ready to be done, I loved every single puke covered minute of HURT100. The guys made sure my head and heart were always aligned, they had my dream gripped firmly in the palms of their hands as if it were their's too. I am so sincerely blessed. 

I got to kiss the sign and ring the bell!  It was a year long goal that all of a sudden happened.  Just like that, 31 hours and 41 minutes felt like a single breath and I was a HURT100 mile finisher.  The team at HURT is beyond words, beautiful.  Each every person truly makes this race the best race I have ever been part of.  So much love and passion was evident from the way everyone cared for us like family to the way they kept the event true to the core of what running really is...one foot in front of the other.  Yes, I already know I want to do it again and again.  I want to try and do it better.  But mostly I want to continue to be part of something that is bringing so much life to my life.  
Oh!  Loop 5, the Good: I finished! No blisters, no chaffing, all 10 toe nails. The bad:  I lost my hair tie crossing the river (I had back ups!)
Pat made it, too.  About 20 minutes before me.  This is probably where I should thank all the people who shared miles with me.  The men from my first for real long run, Mikey, Pat, Billy, JE, and Tyler, I am so grateful you all took me out on that 42 miler and set in motion the entire year of long running for me.  To Billy and Mike Sullivan for the most difficult run, Hilo to top of Mauna Kea, that was the mental workout I needed that got me through my puke moments!  To Kawika, Pat, and Justin for my mid night Mauna Loa run, oh my stars how that run came into play during HURT hurting!  To Justin, Pat, Patrick, Joe, Lindsay, JE, Amy for the Saddle Road day, it was by far the most fun run bucket list run EVER!  Kainoa, all those rides on your bike next to me.  Mikey, all those Kaloko runs as dates, always my favorite date!  Pat, for every single Waimanu mission that made us HURT strong.  Grant, for showing me that getting lost doesn't always mean your lost, you're just adding mileage!  hahaha...more laughter than I knew possible.  So many people shared so many runs with me and I can't even begin to thank them all...
Now for you, Mikey...
The love of my life.  I think we may have run each other into the ground during my HURT100 year, not because running ever got in the way or took up too much time, it was because we run so different.  My pace is set to the beats of my heart and your pace is set to what your head tells you.  I think we dropped each other here and there but what I realized is that, "When you want to go far, go together.  When you want to go fast, go alone." We are so in this for the long haul that if I have to wait up for you (hehehehe) I will. And if you have to get out of your head to run with me, you will.  Thank you for that, for always being by my side, weather it was 100 miles a month, 100 miles a week, or 100 miles a race...ps... I may have picked another 100 I want to do... you ready to run with me?
I am a very happy girl, happy to have experienced what I got to do, happy that John and PJ (the awesome race director seen above) let me into their race, happy that my parents came out to watch Kainoa while I ran far on Oahu, and happy that this is just the beginning for me...

Also thanks to Bike Works Kona for continuing to lavish support on me, Jesse for the body work, Spring Energy for the fuel, Hawaiian Ola for the noni goodness, Shane for my super pretty compression socks, the Nelsons for helping with Kainoa, Dr. Traub for being in my corner last minute with my health, Coach Steve for still giving me chit chats when I need them most, Becky Prater for finish line cupcakes (hehehe), Amy and Jeff on Oahu for opening your homes to my crew and I so we had places to rest and feel welcome, the Club in Kona for letting be use and abuse your treadmills before school when I needed to run, and a million other people that did little and big things for me, I counted every one of them as fuel when my body physically ran out. I felt so loved and supported out there... hey, WE DID IT!  

Bree xo

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Miles.

The above photo best describes my year as a runner, possibly my entire 2017. A former coach once told me I thrive in chaos, it was a compliment (I think) and that sort of became comfortable for me.  I like to call my life, "a touch of chaos." I am all over the place and usually lost but always find my way and it must go nonstop except to stop (I embrace my moments of rest).  To me, this is the diamond in the rough of life.  It gets hit and beat and undergoes its chaos all to become what it is meant to be...

Back to that map!  One of our runs was supposed to be a couple hours, maybe 3.  But we took something like 7 and ran out of food, water, and slowly daylight.  It was a trail that had us crawling on all fours and scaling tree tops.  We retraced and retraced our steps just looking for a way out only to find our best bet was to make our way through the unknown to "that tree".  All year I have been slowly making my way to "that tree."  My tree is HURT100 and today we are a day less than 2 weeks away. All year has been just a single step at a time in that direction for me and it's been the most humbling, chaotic, sometimes easy, most beautiful path I have ever taken.  

I'll spare you the reading of race results for the 24 races I did this season, yes 24.  I call it passion with a twist of purpose, I've been whispered it was stupid.  But that's what you do when you have one goal for the year and it's bigger than any other goal you ever attempted, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, left right, left right, all the way till you get there.  Often not a straight line or a pretty one.  If you grew up at all country bumpkin you can relate, "chop wood", you just keep chopping.  Or if you're a Karate Kid at heart, "wax on, wax off", you just do that till Mr. Miyagi says to stop...

Focusing on one run for an entire year was so much easier than anticipated-I just picked a bunch of pretty places to run or places close to my heart and put them on a giant list, then ran them when I had time.  Motherhood, Mikey, working towards my masters, and full time 1st Grade Teacher all weaved themselves together so nicely despite piles of miles.  I find myself resting here at the end of a year seeing the reflection of a beautiful quilt...it all just came together. And it's strong. I will always be one of those girls that bites off more than I can chew and often lose my breath in the process, but let me tell you, I have never been left wondering, "what if?" nor do I end up with what my momma calls, "the crumbs of life".

So here we are on the brink of 2018, I shall reflect on the runs that meant the most to me over the course of a year...in no fancy order...here are the days that will fuel my heart and soul when I need it most during HURT100...



Maunawili 22 mile trail race on Oahu... This was my first "long run" on a trail, 22 miles, I felt like a free bird.  Also my first trail win.  Not that I ever set into motion goals of winning this year, it was more about collecting miles and experience.  Perhaps racing with no pressure or expectations after years and years of fighting for paydays all summed up by a finish line it felt good to cross the line with a course record and a cookie as the reward.
Kauai Marathon...ran a 70 mile week, decided to toe the line and see what happens.  Landed my Boston Qualifier and a trip to Japan for the Iwaki City Marathon!
So incredibly lost.  On this day I knew Grant Miller would become one of my HURT100 pacers.
Billy Barnett, Michael Sullivan, and I ran from Hilo (Coconut Island) to the top of Mauna Kea. It was unbelievable.  So many miles, so much laughter, and ridiculous amounts of head games to overcome.  Another 40+ mile run in a single day for me...

Mauna Loa summit.  In the dark.  All the way.  Freezing.  Arrived at the top for sunrise. Freezing.

Grant and Pat teaching me to run down hills, Kaloko to be exact.  Impact lessons 101. 
Ka'u Half Marathon...Kainoa ran, too.  ALWAYS the best run when shared with family.
Peacock 55 miler.  Pat (My HURT100 training partner from day 1) and I got to share the first loop together and never looked back.  It was my "more difficult than childbirth" run. 
Waimanu.  So many Waimanu loops.  My favorite run on the island.  It was my first hike years and years ago.  Kawika took me in slippers, it took all day long.  I ran here as much as I could, at least once a month because it is my heaven on Earth.
Waimanu-again.  This time it was my first solo run into the valley.  Mikey took me here on a date and said I can go run all by myself (he never prefers me to run alone in places with cliffs and mudslides).  He waited with his camera for me.  I ran sub 5 and came running to him with pride, thinking it would be possible to break 4hours...hmmm...then he took me to dinner.  Best date I've ever had. Ps...the next weekend Pat and I returned to Waimanu and made that sub 4 Waipio to Waimanu.

Pure Kona Half Marathon with the Big Island Ultra guys.  I was so tired, we all promised not to rest for this day.  I was getting my bum kicked and didn't really mind.  After all this season was all about running and not results.  But the lead female pacer and friend, Dan Gampon rode back to me and said, "HURT now or HURT never."  I dug so deep and took the lead for girls, it hurt like a pain in the you know what-boobs? Balls? I just wasn't fit for speed but it felt amazing to make the mind stronger than the body.  This day will for sure be one for the low places of HURT100.
Saddle Road, all of it.  I have always dreamed of running from Hilo to Kona.  Even more now that I drive it for my Masters on Wednesday nights.  I'd imagine what it would be like...50 miles.  NOW I KNOW!  The guys let me tag along and gave me one of the best runs of my entire lifetime. Ever.
Wobble Gobble.  I won.  I know, I just bragged! I'm so sorry. But this race is the Thanksgiving Day pride and joy of running and I never, ever won it, ever.  My sister has the #1 turkey trucker and let me borrow it once.  I'd always get second here to some girl just much stronger on an uphill/downhill 6.2 miler.  This year I wanted the hat more than I have ever wanted any piece of jewelry, shoes, or purse! (and I'm a girl).

Captain Cook 5x.  This was one of the first ever trails I've been on.  It used to always take me an hour down and an hour up.  In slippers.  Then in run shoes.  But this year in trail shoes I went from an hour to 44 minutes.  It's the trail closest to my home so I call it my backyard loop.  5 loops here = a HURT loop in vert.  Plus its hot, rocky, lava-y, and full of goats, I LOVE GOATS.
Hilo to Volcano.  My very first Ultra Marathon.  It's next weekend...We aren't running as it's a week before HURT100.  What a gorgeous day with 2 of my best run friends and people in my life.  This began our entire dream of long runs...
Mana Road.  A handful of guys decided they would run Mana Road from Saddle Road all the way over to Waimea.  Haha.  I still pinch myself at this.  We camped overnight in the snow (it wasn't snowing but felt like it!) and begun in the dark.  I am forever grateful they let me come along.  I was such a newbie nerd then, still am, but worse then.  It was my first pair of trail shoes, 42 miles, my longest run, and I packed too much food and not enough water.  Best lessons, best memories, and best way to come full circle back to where I met Mikey...on the same hill, almost 8 years ago.
Hapalua-always an honor to run this and represent Hawaii.  Always.  And this year I met Malia, my HURT100 pacer and new friend.
Mango Madness.  OUR FIRST TRAIL RACE!   I was second but felt like I won the lottery!

SO many runs with Kainoa on his bike this year, so many.  We had the best talks, he will be with me all 100 miles of HURT100.  He told me I'm crazy but to have fun...
My first time on the HURT loop, you never forget your first...hehe.  Mikey and I fought the entire loop. But I learned exactly what it means to love somebody this day...you put their heart above your own just to see them smile.  He did that for me, long story, but I'll remember him on this loop suffering for me, just so I could experience a dream...He will be my head crew for HURT100, not running, hehe...
Waimanu at 1am.  After Kona Marathon I hung out with the family, ate, then met up with Kawika to experience running at night.  It was awesome, even the wild pigs that nearly caused me to run off the edge of the valleys.  It was my first time being awake 24+ hours, major learning experience for the big dance...
 Oh the places...

My first 100 mile week... I made 3 of them in the lead up to HURT100
HURT100 loop practice, the one time I didn't get lost.  Or cry.  Or get hurt...
Running in the snow on Mauna Kea with Pat...this was our "mental challenge" day.  Who can breathe up there?  Or stay warm?  Such good practice for the mind...suffer but don't surrender...
Pololuu with Kainoa and Mikey...I needed several family hike days this year. Kainoa was not impressed with the trails, but he did enjoy the food afterwards...
Meeting Sage.  Learning from the Ultra Legend.  Xterra World Champs, humble pie.

Mikey and Brooke meeting up with me on the HURT loop after Honolulu Marathon.  This is the first aid station of the course.  Now I'll have memories of them waiting for me every loop...
Honolulu Marathon.  I won't share with you the events leading up to this race.  It was ugly.  It belongs snug in my journal where I poured it all out.  Not all days are pretty ones even for a girl on an island saturated in rainbows.  The entire run I kept saying, "He Who is in me is greater than my situation." It was the only thing that got me through.  I fought tears and just wanted to cross the line so I could let some healing begin in the quiet places of my heart.  I ran a sub 3, for me that was the final reminder leading into HURT100 that it will be ugly, difficult, and sometimes just plain painful, but you can and you will get through it...



HURT100 is just days away now. I am beyond gracious for this opportunity as it has given me more than any race I have ever done, and I've yet attempt it.  The journey alone made for some of the best, most unforgettable days of my life.  2017, cheers to miles and miles in the direction of everything I have ever wanted for my life...

Happy Running,
Bree xo