Costco, at least the Costco on Maui, sells a very delicious “Bean Hamburger.” It’s the size and consistency of a beef hamburger, looks like a beef hamburger, cooks like a beef hamburger, but tastes better.
Just don’t eat one the night before running the Maui Half-Marathon.
Definitely don’t eat two.
The Maui Half Marathon starts in the dark at 5:30 a.m. on the southwest coast of the island. It finishes where it begins, 26.2 miles from the starting line for the Marathon, which also sets off at 5:30 a.m. The Half Marathon course is the last 6.6 miles of the Marathon course, heading south from the Kaanapali Resort area, through the picturesque town of Lahaina down to the turn around point at Launiupoko Park. It’s a very flat course. I don’t think there’s more than a 50 foot change in elevation through the entire route. If you can’t see the ocean at any point, you can certainly hear it and smell it.
A very curious thing about the half way point. I felt quite strong as I approached from about a mile away and was even passing other runners on the slight uphill incline. I was really looking forward to reaching the turnaround and coasting downhill for about a mile or so, probably passing even more runners. But an odd thing happened - I made the turnaround and the course was now uphill the OTHER WAY!! Weird, huh? I don’t think I’ll ever figure that one out.
Discouraged, yes, but undaunted. My previously sprained ankle was not acting up, my form was good, my pace was consistent, my insides were a mess. (See Bean Hamburgers, above.) Them and the Clif Bars.
I had trained with the Clif Bars, but I’d never consumed more than one on a training run. By the turnaround I’d consumed two and a half. Those things are heavier in your stomach than in your pockets, if you can believe it.
Out and back courses are a mixed bag. On the one hand, the return leg offers familiar landmarks by which to gauge your progress. On the other hand, those same landmarks can lead to impatience and that uncomfortable and unproductive desire to want everything be just be over. You are no longer in the moment, but yearning for the finish line.
I was able to shake those yearnings and get back on my game, fortunately. The lady in the yellow jersey helped by refusing to let me pass. This was about four miles from the finish line. Whenever I drew even with her, she put on a burst and pulled ahead. Then she’d slow, even walk, until I caught up and she’d take the lead again. After about ten minutes of this I caught her, looked at her and said “One of us has to go first, or else we cross the line together.” She smiled and gave a little laugh. I picked up the pace (you might say I applied some gas, literally) and never saw her again.
About two miles later a guy and a bike came up from behind tooting on a whistle and telling everyone to move to the left because “the marathoners are coming.” Whoop-de-do. Move over for the big shot marathoners. Next thing I know I’m being passed by a guy who is finishing a 26.2 mile run faster than I ran half the distance.
I moved over.
And was greeted by a cheering section at the finish line. My wife, my sister, her partner and two of her friends who happened to be in the area. Cheering sections are infectious, it turns out, because that small section inspired a dozen or so others to call my name and scream for me and help me set another PR.
I’m resigned to the fact that as I age my PR’s grow longer instead of shorter, as they do for most others. In this, my fourth half, I finished in 2:49:11, my longest time ever. 805 out of 1082. 38th out of 51 in my age division (50-54).
As for the numbers that count.
When I woke up two hours before the starting gun I was at 275. It was either the beanburgers or anxiety, but not unusual for the morning before a long race. I ate a bowl of oatmeal and a ripe banana, cut my bolus in half then reduced my basal rate to 50%. The effect of this was that I was at 376 just before the start!
WTF!?? Holy crap. Should I even start?
Well, of course I should. Is there any question? No. Half an hour later I was at 129. 200 points down. No, 250 points. In thirty minutes. Time for a Cliff Bar. Those things do not go down easily without water, so I ate it in small bites. Thirty minutes later I was feeling great at 68. Odd how 68 feels great but spells trouble. It was clear to me that was going to continue dropping. Time to choke down another Cliff Bar. Twenty minutes later, near the half-way point - 73. Okay, up a little but take another Cliff bar for maintenance. I could only eat half of it. I carried the other half in my hand the rest of the way and finished at 157.
1. The Runner’s World Smartcoach is a pretty good plan, but I need to do the weekday long runs to work on my endurance and practice keeping my BG up before it drops under 80.
2. If you’re using Cliff bars, carry your own water instead of relying on the course supply. Timing matters. That or add some variety to my carb stash.
3. Try again next year. Maui’s a great place. The course is easy. My sister lives there.
Next race - Carlsbad Half Marathon- January 23, 2011. I’ll be running with the Insulindependence guys. Great bunch of people.