Monday, September 20, 2010

Hop to Maui for the Weekend and a Race

I've been to Maui just one other time, when my late husband Frank and I took Jeremy there as a high school graduation present. One thing we started to do, but aborted due to rain and tough road conditions, was drive to Hana. So this trip I plan check that off my list of things to do.

By 9:30 AM I was in my rental car and heading out of the airport and onto route 36 which becomes Hana Road. It starts out tame and finishes with a flourish of switch-backs and one-car-wide little bridges.


With a moderate amount of putzing and stopping for photos, I arrived in the teeny, tiny little town of Hana at 11:30 AM. I had read somewhere that the best plan is to have lunch at Hana Ranch Restaurant. It sits across the tiny little dead-end street that is the center of Hana. The restaurant is a beautiful mix of indoor and outdoor seating, historic old architecture and quaint island-style patios.


My lunch was a Teriyaki burger but that was simply decorum and prelude to the main attraction: Macadamia nut pie, topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. Oh my!!

Full and satisfied, I browsed a bit in the two tiny little shops that comprise Hana, buying a couple of postcards, sitting outside under a large tree to write notes and address them, then stepping into the tiny little post office to mail them.


Now it was time to reverse my route, tackle the Hana road from the opposite, scarier, i.e. on the cliff side of the road, direction and head back toward Kahului then south on 380 then west toward Lahaina and then Kaanapali.


When I drove the road toward Hana, there was hardly any traffic coming the other way...a very good thing. It allowed me to drive at or below the posted speed limits (mostly 15 mph) and to enjoy the scenery, slow down when I wanted to gawk, and take photos while underway or pull over suddenly if I spied a good view.

Now, heading back west, the oncoming traffic was heavy and nervewracking. Large pickup trucks hogged much of the two lanes, cars and trucks took blind right-handed curves wide, causing me to slam on my brakes, drivers failed to obey the yield signs when approaching the one-lane bridges and section of road. So I took my time, yielded even when I had the right-of-way, and pulled over when someone was tailgating me. I let a motorcycle go ahead of me, because I knew he could take the curves much faster than I could and would be able to share the road with oncoming traffic in the sections where the road was only 1 1/2 lanes wide. I was in no hurry!

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I had snagged an unbelievably good rate at the very luxurious Hyatt Regency hotel in Kaanapali, a senior rate that included the full breakfast buffet each morning. It was located an easy walk to the start line of the Maui Half Marathon, in a row of luxury hotels along the beach in Kaanapali.

Once checked in, I took a walk over to Whaler's Village, an upscale shopping and restaurant complex next to the Westin Hotel where the pre-marathon fitness expo was being held. Here is where I picked up my race packet (racing bib and other info), bought a Maui marathon t-shirt and running cap and chatted with a very interesting woman who was selling cute t-shirts to benefit children's advocacy programs and would be in Houston for the fitness expo prior to Houston's marathon. I promised her I'd find her and say hi again.

Now it was time to kick back and "chill" a bit. The resort was spectacular! Several open-air restaurants to choose from, a terrific bistro for sunset viewing, and lush, lush grounds filled with all sorts of exotic birds. I savored a glass of wine while sitting in front of the fire pit at the little bistro, while watching the sun go down.



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Saturday I partook of the killer breakfast buffet at the Swan Court restaurant at the Hyatt (all included in my room rate). But afterward I was restless, even though I needed to stay off my feet as much as possible and stay hydrated. So in the morning I walked back over to Whaler's Village and did some shopping for kids and grandkids, and did a little people-watching for a while.

I went back to the hotel, put on a swimsuit and sun dress and walked over to the poolside restaurant Umil to have lunch: Goat cheese with roasted garlic and a bowl of chicken quesadilla soup. I wanted to keep it as light as possible and this was the best I could find on the menu. Everything looks so good, so rich, there is nothing "budget" or "no-frill" at this hotel!! And that includes the food!

With a book in hand, I spent some time on my room balcony reading, but got so heavy-lidded I had to go inside and take a nap! But this is a good thing! Feet elevated, a few zzz's the day before a long race.

I noticed at lunch that they had a sushi bar at that same poolside restaurant so I went down and ordered an ahi tuna roll and, from the little deli area, picked up a container of fresh strawberries and made a dinner out of it.

Alarm set for 4:30 AM, I settled in with the book until I could no longer keep my eyes open.

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Race day!! I was easily awake before the alarm went off (since I'm still a little stuck on CDT 8 days later). I'd laid out my running clothes and everything I'd need the night before so I didn't have to think too much, just work my way through the pile until nothing remained.

Out of my room and into the hushed stillness of the atrium and to the elevator. Outside it was pitch black, except for the small lights high up in the trees, sending down their faint illumination onto the stone walkway that took me off the Hyatt grounds and toward Whaler's Village and the start line.

It's a small race - 3,500 participant cap between the full and half marathons. The full marathon start line is on the north side of West Maui, near Kahului. The runners would come down 380 to 30 and north to finish in Kaanapali. The last 6.5 miles of their route covers the same ground as the half-marathon route, which is an out-and-back loop down highway 30, through Lahaina to Ukumehame Beach State Park. Here we turn around and then head back north to Kaanapali and the finish line.

So the field of half marathon runners is very small. The whole event had that home-town, home-grown feel about it. No racing chips, just old-fashioned tear-off bib tabs and a stop-watch would mark our official ending time. No hoopla before the start, except a Hawaiian fire dance and then next thing I knew, we were off running!

The first couple of miles were run in the dark, but then the skies began to lighten up and we could start to make out the ocean on our immediate right. Temperatures were comfortably pleasant but there was barely a breeze.

The route then headed off of the highway and into historic Lahaina Town, past the little homes and shops that hug the narrow little road. Tiny little pocket parks were tucked in between the buildings, offering fleeting glimpses of the water. Once south of Lahaina, the race route rejoined highway 30 south for another 3 miles to the turn-around point.

It was a slight downhill grade the entire way from Kaanapali to this turnaround point. On the return leg between this point and Lahaina, I was surprising myself with the ease by which I was running up this grade. I have no opportunity to do hill work at home. However, the sun was getting high in the sky and temperatures were soaring.

As we passed back through Lahaina Town, I savored what little shade there was. The last leg - between Lahaina and Kaanapali was open and shadeless as it ran along the ocean for those last 3 or so miles to the finish line. Along this stretch my legs began to give out. I knew that I'd used up much of them in that first return leg of uphill running. I stopped running, but kept up a good walking pace, still reeling in walkers and runners ahead of me.

I knew that my walking pace was only a couple of minutes per mile slower than my running pace, so I knew it wouldn't hurt my time too much if I didn't do too much of it. But I found it hard to get going again once I'd stopped running and started walking. Not until I made that last turn into Kaanapali and was about 1 mile from the finish line was I able to resume running again. By now I could tell the temperatures were well into the 80's, made only worse by the fact that there was absolutely no breeze. Having been training in these kinds of temps, I have acquired a bit of a built-in thermometer. So I knew it was getting hot!!


I crossed the finish line at 2:52 by my watch, a minute or two shorter than the official race clock time. That difference is attributed to the length of time it took for the pack of runners to get across the start line...and I always position myself near the back of the pack at races. It keeps me from getting "run over" by other runners and lets me find my own "groove" without undue and dangerous influence from other runners near me to start out too quickly.

Given the heat and humidity, I'm happy with this time...it's only 3 minutes slower than my 2010 Houston half-marathon time or, in other words, only a 13 second per mile slower pace, and I did some walking in this race, something I didn't do in the Houston event. I felt strong for the better part of the race - more than 10 miles or so - and let myself give in a little to the heat and uphill only in a couple of the last 3 miles.



This afternoon I get back on a plane to return to Oahu and my son's family. Maybe we'll stop on the way home from the airport, pick up some poke and some wine to celebrate!

2 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great time Barb. Congrats on a great run!
    Sean

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  2. Awesome - your write-up made me miss Maui just a bit more (we lived there for four years while working at Haleakala NP). If you didn't get to on this trip, next time you're in Hana you have to go to Hasegawa's General Store, a famous spot in "downtown" Hana. And, despite what the rental car places will tell you, the groomed dirt road continuing out of Hana is good and will take you around to Kula... another beautiful spot.
    Now you've got me thinking about running a race on Maui... THANKS!

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