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2003 Kolekole Pass Half Marathon

My goal for the 2003 Kolekole Pass Half Marathon was to beat my 2002 time. to finish in under 90 minutes, and I squeaked in, finishing in 1:29:05. I came in 20th overall. This is the first real race I was in where I won something--I was 3rd in my age division.

Complete results are online here.

Here is my journal entry for Aug. 2, 2003:

I woke up at 3:09 this morning, ate a banana and a glass of juice, went to the bathroom, got dressed and headed out the door by 4. I made a couple of "pre-race" CDs to get me in the racing mood that I listened to while driving to Schofield Barracks. There was hardly anyone on the road. I got to the race site with about an hour to spare, so I listened to some more music, put on all my lotions, Vaseline, Icy-Hot, etc., went to the bathroom twice more (with my own toilet paper in case there was none left; I've learned from experience), stretched, and got to the starting line with 10 minutes to go. I continued stretching as I nervously awaited the start with about 3,000 other people.

I usually try to be close to the front of the pack when a race starts so I start quick and keep a faster-than-normal pace for at least a little. This morning I was even tempted to bolt to the front for the first 100 yards or so, just so I could say that I was in 1st place, at least for 5 seconds--but I didn't. The pre-race tension at the starting line is interesting. It's usually kind of quiet, with people taking surreptitious glances around them at the competition. There is at least one guy who compensates for his nervousness by being a loud-mouthed yuckster, braying not-so-funny jokes like an amateur donkey on open mike night at the comedy club. There are lots of kids, most of whom want to be up front just so they could say they were in 1st place, at least for 5 seconds or so.

Anyway, with about 10 seconds to go, everyone assumes the same position--one foot in front of the other, legs tense, the watch arm out straight with the other hand on the button ready to hit the start of the stop watch at the sound of the horn/cannon/gun shot. Today it was a horn.

My goal this year was to finish under an hour and a half. Straight 7 minute miles will get you there in a shade over 1:31, so I was hoping to start quickly, burn up the extra time on the hills, and cruise home. Last year I finished in 1:34:19.8, 31st overall and 4th in my age division (30-34). I was also hoping to move up to 3rd in my age division, if possible.

Last year I hadn't trained for uphill racing. The half marathon starts with a gentle uphill slope for the first 4 miles. The next 2 miles are brutal--I need to find a topographic map to see how quickly the elevation rises. Those 2 miles killed me last year. One of the problems of training in Laie, though, is that it's relatively flat. To run uphill, I had to run in the mountains on dirt/mud paths. But I did more of that this year as I trained, so I was hoping to do a little better.

The first 2 miles I ran in 12:18, which was pretty quick for me. The next mile I ran in about 6:10, so I was looking at 18:30 at the 3 mile mark--meaning I had an extra 2:30 to waste if I wanted to finish in under an hour and 30 minutes. Actually, since the race is 13.1 miles, I figured I needed an extra minute or so for that extra .1 miles, so I had a minute and a half to waste.

Last year I spent a lot of time looking around and enjoying the scenery. It's quite a beautiful area, and there are signs on the side of the road you don't see every day: "Caution: Ammo Truck Crossing" and "Do Not Enter: Live Ordnance Field." This year, I didn't look around so much, maybe because I had already been there, but also because I was a little more determined.

The next mile was a little slower because of the incline. If I remember right, I hit 4 miles at 25:30, meaning exactly a 7-minute mile. There was a water station at that mile marker, but the 2 cups I grabbed were almost completely full of ice and I didn't get much water.

From that point to the next water station at 6.8 miles, it was hard uphill running. I usually try to keep someone right in front of me and follow their pace, but the guy I was tailing kept on chugging like a train and I lost him. I did pass 2 people, which didn't happen at all last year, so I felt relatively good about that. But I still didn't do very good. However, I hit that point at about 48 minutes, which was just a little slower than I wanted to be.

From that water station to the next one, at mile 10.2, the road goes DOWN. We're talking switchbacks, steep slopes, and more switchbacks. It's brutal for runners, because you either decide to just let gravity do all the work and try to stay on your feet, letting your knees and feet just get hammered, or you spend a lot of energy fighting the gravity, letting your knees and feet get hammered, but not quite as much. Last year, I spent a couple of minutes trying to fight gravity, but as 2 or 3 guys whooshed by me I decided to just fly down the mountain.

This year, I just flew from the beginning. I immediately got a very painful sideache in my left shoulder, which I hardly ever get, so I tried to breathe better. I hit the 10.2 mile mark at something like 1:08, which meant I went almost 3 1/2 miles in 20 minutes--which is pretty quick.

By that time, we runners were in the midst of all the walkers. Besides the half-marathon, there's a 6-mile run/walk that people do. Buses take them to the summit of the pass to start, so it's almost all downhill. The winner this year was like 39:40, which is kind of slow for a 6-mile race; maybe that's what I'll do next year!

Anyway, the last 3 miles are pretty hard. The sun is out, there are some rolling mini hills, it's hot, and you're tired. You have to dodge some walkers, but at the same time you have an appreciative audience that often claps and encourages you on. (That's what I like about running the Deseret News 10k--you spend about half the course along the parade route, so people are encouraging you on and applauding.)

I hit the 12-mile mark at about 1:23, so I knew I had to hurry--I only had 7 minutes to run 1.1 miles. There was one other guy I was trying to follow during this time, but he kept getting farther away. I was happy though, because after the first couple of miles only about 4 people had passed me during the whole race.

I turned a corner and a guy said, "Quarter of a mile to go," so I started kicking pretty good. I hit the finish line at 1:29:05, 55 seconds faster than anticipated. I was pretty tired, but pleased. I spent some time eating bananas, pineapple, oranges, and bagels at the finish line (fruit REALLY tastes good after you've been running for 90 minutes), and walked around.

This is the third race I've been in now where I wore a computer chip on my shoe for timing. As you cross the finish line, a mat records your chip and then the results are pretty much instantly available. I wandered over to the board where the results were printed, and they had the first 15 finishers listed. I wasn't on the list yet, but there was only 1 person in my age group who had finished, so I was hopeful. The first person to finish did so in 1:12--way fast.

After a couple of minutes, they posted the next list, and there I was--20th overall, and third in my age division. Plus, I beat all the women racers (grin).

So after some stretching and a quick outdoor shower, I headed over to the buses to take us back to the start where our cars were. On the way I talked to a guy who had had prostate cancer about 10 months ago, and had done the 6-mile walk.

When I got back to the car, I headed to Wal-Mart for what is now my annual post-race tradition--buy a package of Pop Tarts and a pint of milk to snarf down on the drive home. I got home, and the kids were excited to see....the Pop Tarts.

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This page was last manipulated Tuesday, February 17, 2004 16:46