This morning we ran the fifth and last Honolulu Marathon Readiness Series race, the Mizuno Val Nolasco Half Marathon, starting at Kapiolani Park and covering the exact second half of the marathon course.

First race for me since Chicago (6 weeks ago).  I’ve been slowly building back up my mileage each week and taking my time getting back into training.  As such, I definitely did not have high expectations for this race.  I did decide to race it, but largely to see where my fitness was at.  The result here would give me a good idea of what I could expect in the marathon three weeks from now.

Quick note on what I ate for my last meal (2 hours prior to the race): I followed the advice I got from several runners who recommended I eat less to avoid stomach issues during the race (most recently at Chicago) and did exactly that.  2 cups of coffee, half a bagel and a small scoop of apple sauce was it for me.  And because of it, I definitely felt lighter and less bloater toeing the line.

Mile 1 – 3 (6:00, 6:16, 6:11):

Fast first mile, but many runners take this first mile fast because the first Diamond Head climb hits you at around mile 2.  Between mile 2 and 3 on the downhill I picked up the pace, going on even effort (slowing a bit on the uphill and going faster on the downhill).  There a lead group of five of us at this point and we’re taking turns heeding the head winds that are picking up.  Night running; sun does start to peak out until I believe mile 5 or 6.

Mile 4 – 6 (6:00, 6:06, 6:11):

This stretch you snake around Diamond Head,  cut through Kahala via Kileaua Avenue and hop on to the highway going east bound towards Hawaii Kai.  I remember getting comfortable in this stretch, breathing a little more relaxed (was struggling getting up that hill after you turn left on Triangle Park).  A veteran runner, Jonathan Lyau and I take turns drafting each other and keeping the pace honest.  We pass #2 runner during this stretch so we’re starting to fight it out for the second position here.

Mile 7 – 9 (6:16, 5:58, 6:05):

We turn around shortly after the mile 7 marker.  I always get a boost of energy seeing fellow runners cheering us on (probably speaks for the sub-6 mile here).  Jonathan and I are still going at it; my legs feel good – slight fatigue starting to kick in, but nothing unmanageable here.  Light rain drizzles us throughout the race, by the way – which I welcomed (anything to keep cool).  We take the turn off of the highway back through Kahala at mile 9.

Mile 10 – 13.1 (6:07, 6:31, 6:17, 6:02):

Shortly prior to getting off of the highway my chip band that I have around my ankle loosens and I need to quickly stop and strap it back on.  Jonathan opened up the lead, which was probably a good thing for me, because as soon as I stopped I felt my body starting to slow, get heavier (lactate build up!) and the stomach starts to turn a bit.  Mile 11 – stretch through Kahala is my slowest, as I try to get my stomach in check.  Legs suddenly are feeling heavy and slow; turn over speed is decreasing dramatically.  I can tell I’ve lost some fitness since Chicago, particularly since I haven’t been doing much speed work or tempo runs.

Anyway, at this point I’m just trying to finish this thing in 3rd place, which is something I definitely want.  The Diamond Head hill through mile 11 and 12 is cruel, especially if your stomach is hurting and your legs feel like they’re filled with lead!  Somehow I get over the hill and blast on the downhill to avoid getting picked off my the 4th and 5th place finishers (New Zealand runner/friend of mine, Richard Pender, finished in 5th and helped me with those last two 6:17 and 6:02 miles!).

Finish time (chip)1:20:40 (6:09 average pace)

Came in 3rd overall (amongst 1,100 or so runners) and a nice, sub-1:21 PR in the half marathon, which I’m very happy with.  My more experienced marathon friends have all told me that a sub-1:21 half marathon time is a pretty good indication that a sub-2:50 marathon is definitely possible.  Since that’s the goal for Boston, I feel like I gained a very positive experience, which will ultimately help prepare me for a fun day in Boston in April.

As far as the Honolulu Marathon, I think I’m still going to go out for a sub-3.  Hopefully that won’t be too difficult.  I like my chances now.

If interested, my Garmin log can be seen here.