Sunday, January 30, 2011

Harold Chapson 8K: Honolulu, HI 1/23/2011

getting ready to start the Harold Chapson 8k
I got the idea of running in a race while I was in Hawaii as soon as Hiroko brought up the subject of going to her friends wedding.  Since the wedding would be on Saturday, I didn't think that I would be able to make it work.  I am crazy about running, but I wouldn't dream of running in a race the day of the wedding.  Luckily enough, I was able to find on race on Oahu during our stay, and it just so happened to be on Sunday the 23rd, which would be the day after the wedding.  I signed up for the race right after we finalized our travel plans.  At first, Hiroko was not very keen on the idea, but as time went on ,she warmed to the idea and even decided that she would run the race with me, which was shocking because she has never run in any races longer than a 5k.  But, she said that it would be boring just to stand around and wait for me, so she may as well run too.  I was excited when she told me that she wanted to run too and signed her up that day before she could change her mind.
Not what we wear to races in Jan. in NC

The Harold Chapson 8k is the middle race in the Aloha Readiness Series.  It was proceeded by Bob & Ron's 5k that was held on January 7th and is followed by the Johnny Faerber 10k on February 6th.  The Series is put on by the Mid-Pacific Road Runner Club to help runners prepare for the Great Aloha Run on February 21st, which is a 8.5 miler.  Which kind of explains why there wasn't a great deal of information about the THC 8K on the web and the website itself was rather sparse.  I don't think that the organizers gave much thought to people for outside of Oahu taking part in the race, and I can't say that I fault them.  Also, everything about where the race was help and the packet pickup was really easy to find.  I do wish that there had been a course map on the website rather than just a description, but part of me is a little glad that I didn't realize that I would be running up Diamond Head until the day before the race.  The pre-race packet pickup was held at The Running Room: a nice little running store just a few blocks away from Waikiki Beach.  If you are in Hawaii and in need of running supplies or need information about running in the area I would start with them. 
Hiroko and I as the race starts

The morning of the race Hiroko and I got a little bit of a late start, and I had a bit of a minor freak out because I didn't think that we were going to make it in time for the race, but we did and everything was fine.  There were a few things about the Harold Chapson 8k that were new to me.  One was that most of the roads were going to be open while we were running.  There would be some cones, police stopping traffic at crossroads, and some guides, but the streets were very much still in use by cars.  In fact as we ran up Diamond Head we were told to stay on the sidewalk as much as possible and not run in the street.  These directions weren't strictly followed for most of the runners on the return leg of the race because you could run facing traffic, but on the outward leg of the race most everyone stayed on the side walk.  Also, Diamond Head is a very popular place for people to run in the morning because the view is just stunning, so there were a lot of people running with the racers, who were not actually in the race, which made things interesting as well.  At first, I was a little taken aback by these thing because I have recently taken part in a race that was poorly organized and went of course in mid-race, but I could see that these things didn't seem to bother anyone and thought why should I get my panties in bunch . . . it is Hawaii and I am doing what I want to do, so I should just enjoy myself. 
Sharing the road

The race was an out and back course beginning in Kapiolani Park and going up Diamond Head Rd. to Triangle Park, around the park, and back down Diamond Head Rd to the Honolulu Marathon finish line at Kapiolani Park.  They did have a timing chip for the finish, but the start was a gun start with no timing mat at the beginning of the course, which wasn't important because there were only around 240 participants.  The race began at 7am just before sunrise, which was around 7:11am and meant that if you ran a good first mile you would be ascending Diamond Head right at sunrise and getting one of the greatest views that any race has to offer. 

The first mile view of Diamond Head
The first mile was fairly flat and took us from the park on to Kalakaua Ave. and ended just before we turned onto Diamond Head Rd.  Hiro and I took turns passing our camera back and forth and taking pictures as we ran.  Our plan was for Hiroko to carry the camera, but she fell behind me at about 3/4 of a mile while I was holding the camera, so I kept it hoping that I could pass it back to her as we passed each other at the beginning of my back portion and the end of her outward, but this wouldn't happen.   I was running pretty well during the first mile and most of the fear that I felt about not being able to run the entire race was quickly fading.  I didn't know how difficult the assent of Diamond Head was going to be but I was feeling solid and enjoying my run along the beach.  Also, once we turned off of Monsarrat Ave. we weren't having to run with cars in the road, which made me relax for most of the mile.  I did the first mile in 8:59.17 which was right on my goal pace of 9:00 mins.

Stunning Yard along the second mile
The second mile began the climb up Diamond Head Rd. and had us running along the sidewalk, which was a bit cramped at time, especially for taller runners like myself when low hanging tree branches from the houses along the road force you to duck or move over to one side.  But, the sidewalk just wasn't that big of an issue when you consider the stunning views that made this the least difficult hill that I have ever climbed even though in reality it was the steepest.  The houses were amazing and Diamond Head itself was incredible.  By the time we moved past the houses and ran along Diamond Head Beach Park, we were facing one of the most jaw dropping-ly stunning sunrise on this big blue world that we all call home.  I couldn't stop taking pictures or looking at the sunrise.  I truly had no problems with this hill at all.  I ran the 9:52.11, which was much faster than I had expected.

Sunrise at Diamond Head Beach Park
The third mile took us over the crest of Diamond Head Road down the other side a little bit, into and around Triangle (or Fort Ruger) Park, and back up to the crest that we had just crossed.  I had hoped to meet up with Hiroko after coming through the park and starting back up the hillside, but she wasn't too far behind me and I could see her entering the park as I was running along the backside of the triangle, which meant that or paths wouldn't cross, and I wouldn't see her again until the finish.  Climbing back up Diamond Head was more difficult than it had been the first time even though we hardly had to climb anything compared to the way up.  But I found it difficult because I wasn't focused on the view as much as I had been the first time.  The water station had been in the park, but I hadn't drank.  Instead, I just swished it around in my mouth to avoid drying out.  Most of the runners were now running in the street along with the oncoming traffic.  And, I have to say that the drivers seemed very polite.  I have been cussed and yelled at several races in Raleigh by drivers as we ran by even when the roads were coned off and traffic was being directed by police.  There were some police at this event but they were mainly working the intersections, and along the ascent and descent of Diamond Hear the runner were on their own, but no one seemed put out in the least, and I was impressed that everyone just took this a part of the routine.  I did my third mile in 9:07.72

Front runners heading back
Mile four was a dream!  We finished of the climb for the return part of the race and headed into the downhill just in time for me.  I was starting to feel the climbs and really need the downhill to take make up some time.  I was still taking pictures and trying to enjoy the sights, but for the first time I began to think about this as a race and focused more on my running.  I ran mostly in the street, but did duck onto the sidewalk a couple of times.  My ankle sprain became a little noticeable on the downhill but wasn't a problem as a whole. I did the fourth mile in 9:10.12

One last view from Diamond Head before the downhill
Mile five was just a thrill!  I was hurting, but was determined to finish strong, and once we turned off of Diamond Head Rd and on to the straight stretch along Kalakua Ave. I picked up my pace and tried to turn in the best time that I could.  I legged out the last .2ths of a mile and managed to pass several runners who had passed my earlier on the straight stretch.  I finished the race in a full sprint and did my last mile in 8:34 flat, which made it my fastest mile of the race.  I felt really good about the race and walked back to find Hiroko and run with her to the finish line.  She wasn't to far behind and finished really strong for her first 8k.  She had gotten a stitch in her side at the turn around but had managed it well.  I finished the race in 45:41 and Hiro Finish not long after in 48:25

Hiro at the finish
After the race we hung around, took some pictures, and went over to the beach to look at the ocean.  Afterward we broused throught the Flea Market that was being held in the park.  Eventually we decided to grab some quick showers, a bite to eat and return to the Flea Market to do a little shopping.  We were both thrilled to have done the race, and really happy that we signed up for it.  If you like running and go to Hawaii adding a race into you plans is a great addition to your agenda and a whole different way to experience the islands!
Post-race walk on the beach

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