... my journey from ballerina to triathlete

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Five Mile Marathon

The past few days have been interesting. 

Cool mountain. Too many hills.
Following the bidding of the All-Powerful Training Schedule, my running time increased over the last week from 25 minutes to 35 minutes, bumping the distance up by about a mile. Suddenly my previous routes are insufficient, and I feel as though I am going through awkward running puberty in which my run routes can no longer fit into training bras but don't quite fill out a normal one either. I tried to add a few loops and detours but it wasn't increasing the time enough and so, armed with my GPS tracker and way too much optimism, I decided to run from my house up and around Diamond Head (that's a MOUNTAIN, in case you are not familiar with Oahu's topography), down to Kapiolani Park and back home. To get an idea of how stupid this was, check out the gorgeous aerial photo of Diamond Head that I've included- but keep in mind that an aerial photo does not show the horrendously hilly nature of this path. As I left home I had mental images of the sunset over the water as I came down the mountain, the flowers along the road, and I imagined the thrill of running a new route; I conveniently estimated the distance at around three miles- exactly what I've been looking for!
As I trudged up the first (extremely long) hill, I was feeling good. I made it to the top with only one short speed-walking break and took off running the first downhill. As I came around the curve and faced the second hill I was still feeling strong, and in fact I made it almost all the way up before stopping to walk again. When I checked my GPS, however, I knew I was in trouble. I was already at three miles, and Diamond Head was parked squarely between me and home. Determined and holding on to my faltering optimism, I trudged on. I focused on my surroundings- the waves speckled with surfers far below the road, the light playing off the water as the sun dipped toward the horizon, and the paper-thin blossoms of Hawaiian bourgainvillea (see photo) lining my path. 

Bourgainvillea nestled in the greenery
I made it all the way down the mountain, around the park, and up one last hill before walking again, this time as I turned toward home. As I picked up my legs to run the final stretch, I realized that I could hardly feel anything in my legs at all- very little strength but also very little pain. As I gimped into my driveway I pulled out my GPS tracker and sure enough, I had been running for an hour. What felt like  a marathon was only five miles, but since I was at it for nearly twice the time my schedule called for, I felt pretty proud. 

Although this run was a little excessive (and trust me, I paid for it the next day) it taught me a valuable training tool. The hardest part of a run for me seems to be the first five minutes, during which my muscles are in shock and my lungs are trying to asphyxiate me. If I can win the battle with my body and wait it out, it gets significantly better, at least for twenty minutes or so. After that, I hit wall number two and once again feel like I'm dying. What the multiple starts and stops on this run, followed by the numbness in my legs taught me is that if I can push through that horrible first few minutes several times, eventually I can hit a new level in which I feel much less pain. Although it isn't pleasant, it's a discovery that I find interesting. 

So lesson learned. This route can be filed away under "50-minute-or-longer" and saved for the day when I am a little further along in my training. At some point, I have faith, five miles will no longer feel like a marathon.


  1. Crystal, I'm enjoying reading about your training! You'll be running 5 miles easily in no time.

    I wanted to pass along a good resource for planning out runs beforehand: http://www.usatf.org/routes/map -- just put in your zip code and start clicking around to see how long it is to run the route you have in mind. That is, if you want to take the fun out of it by knowing how long you're going!

    1. Thank you! I had seen that site before, long before I decided to start training for the triathlon, but couldn't remember what it was or find it once I starred running. Thanks so much for sharing it! And of course, thanks for reading!