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. 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. 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