Monday, December 5, 2011

Ultra WO Man number 14 with the La'amaomao God!!

I could hardly believe it, here I was on this  beautiful mystical Island of Hawaii I had to pinch myself to make sure I was awake! But it was true after months of wondering if I would be able to make the start line this year it had happened, and before I can even begin my journey I must acknowledge Hammer Nutrition, Ocean Potion Suncare, Brooks USA, Polar USA and Williams Wheels for their generosity in getting me here as well as my husband Al.
This is the beginning of a new day the Hawaiian God KU is responsible for the sunrise.
 In the few weeks I had leading up to Ultraman World Championships I was able to experience the Ohana (family) Kokua (help) and the Aloha (love). I was extremely grateful to my friend Chett Glenn for letting me stay in his beautiful home and for the time spent with a few of the other athletes who had arrived early too.

Probably the highlight of my pre race was going with Amber, Gary, Miro, and Marti to Captain Cooks to swim 2 miles for training. As soon as we entered the Ocean there was something magical happening and you only need put your face in the water to understand. We were surrounded by pods of spinner dolphins there were everywhere friendly faces and clicking sounds! Forget about the swimming this was a gift from the sea God known as Kanaloa they were spinning and leaping out of the water and there was also baby dolphins too! 90 minutes past very quickly!

 These were the famous spinner dolphins of Kealake'akua Bay! and they allowed us to swim and free dive with them!
The Hawaiian name for dolphins is Nai'i and this is one of the few places in the World were you can swim with wild dolphins!

Another part of my journey was teaming up with Cory Foulk and Laurie Beers we headed out to Hapuna Beach and did a swim with no shark sightings it was a beautiful day.
Suzy, Cory and Laurie
Hapuna Beach is a wonderful white sandy beach were the surf can get quite high and tiger sharks have been known to come pretty close to shore, there is also a breate taking view of the Mauna Loa which can be snow capped in the winter months.

 Here I am with Laurie and Cory after climbing the 11 mile Waikoloa road. Just a great training ride with good friends.

The Ohana of the athletes is close knit and everyone is very friendly there are many activites organized by the athletes and race organizers. In the first week there a few of us went down to the Keauhou Canoe club and we had the incredible experience to catch a lift with the out rigger canoes and were put in the Ocean 2 miles from the finish line and we all swam back together.

 Here I am with Gary, Marti. Amber and Mike after our Ocean swim.

 I felt relaxed and certainly enjoyed the hospitality of the Island I scuba dived, rode my bike visited friends, had a good time with my husband and drank LOTS of Kona 100% coffee!

 The Honu is seen on almost every swim and scuba dive. You must observe the Honu and not chase or harass them just like the dolphins we are visitors in their home.

 I dived with my good friends Janine and Chuck and also dived with Al when he arrived on the island.

new four legged friends Kermit and ELmo

 Thanksgiving Day was suddenly upon us, and this is the day when all the athletes and crew meet go over the race briefing and have breakfast together.

My crew consisted of AL my husband, best friend and crew chief extraordinaire with Jimmy Stilley a good friend and student of Hilo University not forgetting my Puerto Rican Kayaker Raffa who has Kayaked me to safety since 2001.

 After Al and Jimmy had packed the crew car and all my gear was ready for Race day we headed over to my friend Janine who had invited us to join her family and close friends to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Race Day
I slept well, in total oblivion as to what the Hawaiian Gods had in store for me on this incredible journey called Ultraman. I am always nervous about Day 1 with the 6.2 mile swim and the 90 mile bike ride. Typically I get all jitterybuggery about the swim, however you look at it 6.2 mile Ocean swim is a long way at least through my eyes I think to sweeten the deal I should be allowed to scuba it!
All smiles before the start of the event.

 We headed to the start of the swim, there were no TV cameras or thousands of people trying to see the pro race begin, Nope just 40 athletes and crews donning their wetsuits and making last minute race plans with their crews. I put on my Aquaman wetsuit and chatted with a few friends then it was talk to Raffa get the race plan right and get into the ocean! Entering the Ocean a calmness took over soon the sound of a conch shell made way for the start of the race the journey had begun...

A final fair well, and I was putting one arm in front of the other, about 25 mins into the swim I felt nauseous I could taste my coffee I had drank a few hours ago this was not good, I stopped to drink some plain water but I still kept burping up coffee I kept on swimming I thought to my self how ridiculous in all the time I have swam never encountered this problem. Raffa was great every 30 minutes he would stop me and I would re fuel with Hammer gel and Hammer endurolytes. There were no dolphins and about 4.5 miles into the swim Raffa guided me closer to the shore where I could focus on the little blue church St Peter and actually see the lava and coral and reef fishes. as always the tide begins to change as the end draws nearer, tired I know have to dig deep to keep moving forward, finally I see the turn around buoy into the finish, I had drank a little of the sea water and was certainly not feeling my normal woopy do self. Then I saw a Honu (Turtle) and some beautiful butterfly fish I thanked the Hawaiian God Kanaloa for the safe ocean, no jelly fish encountered and had been a solid crossing.
Once I was able to get myself up on my feet AL was right there with my flip flops and helped me through the finish line of the swim it had been a long 4 hours and 12 minutes but the job was done!

I was a little wobbly and my stomach was gurgling up a storm but this was race day there was no sitting in a warm car being pampered it was time to ride 90 miles to Kilauea Volcano home of the fire Goddess Pele, I applied Ocean Potion Suncare and sprayed my legs with Kool n Fit. I traded my swim goggles & cap for my Rudy Project glasses and Rudy Helmet and I was off!!

As soon as I take off on the bike there is an immediate climb of 1000 feet in 3 miles, which was not too bad I used the climb to regain a little strength. Al and Jimmy would leap frog me every few miles every hour I would get a new bottle of perpetuem and my Hammer mix of Anti Fatigue caps, Endurolytes, Endurance amino and race cap supremes. The weather never became what I would call hot but it did become wet and drizzle like, I swear had I closed my eyes (not a good idea on the bike) I could have been in England! I passed coffee farms, and at one point could see Captain Cooks  I kept on passing lush greenery and lots of bright red poinsettia, I was soon following the mile markers on Highway 11 passing Macadamia nut orchards etc.

I could feel my body telling me it was tired I was still battling stomach problems with the salt water. I took some ginger chews and soon I was turning right onto South Point Road it was well marked by fellow um athlete CJ and his wife Clar! South Point is in the Kau District it is said that it is the doorway to the other side and is a kind of power vortex and UFO s have been reported, as I cycled through the KAU district I certainly did not feel the power or the Vortex I felt my energy draining!! a very quick down hill a left turn on to a gradual incline back onto the highway.

I knew I was so close yet so far from the camp grounds. I am at mile 60 almost at sea level and I have 30 miles left 27 climbing back to 4000 feet. I kept on going forward always amazed at the beautiful scenery of the rugged coast line. My feet were giving me problems with the tips of my toes blue and cramping. I asked for a foot rub and passed the Volcano park sign, gosh only 8 miles to go,
My crew are all smiles but I am barely turning over the pedals due to the pain in my feet, I start singing songs to myself and plodding forward and it seemed a life time but soon I was making the left turn into Namakani Paio camp grounds and passing the finish chute. It was certainly not my best time but I had finished and I could get out of my bike shoes and seek warmth.
We stayed in a beautifully furnished room at the Volcano Inn, plenty of hot water hot blankets a fire place etc.. made it very inviting to sleep in and watch the sun rise over the volcano! But we all know that was not the plan!
Al and Jimmy work on the bike
Day 2 started out with a rear flat tire (The first of 3 flats I would get before mile marker 15) Al was super fast at changing it and we found a staple in my tire, We signed in and I went to the start line while my crew would not see me until mile 24.
Susan and I brace ourselves for the cold descent

Time to ride!
Not sure but I think the God Kapua was feeling in a mischievous way as soon as the count down was finished and we started descending 3,400 feet I felt the rumble of the road I did not like this as experience was telling me I had another flat tire so not cool, rain early morning and cold no one around as a no feed zone I fixed the front tire and was in the process of the rear wheel when tech support from Bike Works appeared he was like a vision and I was so grateful. Vern soon my bike in tip top working order and I took off down the road to my dismay there was no athlete in sight I was so far back it was a  little depressing! In fact they were waiting to take the signs down as I approached the 24 mile turn! I never gave up and kept on cycling forward every now and again I would glance at my Polar CS600 I was not going that slow and soon I saw a cyclist that lifted my spirits I was no longer alone!

AT that moment the rain stopped and the sun appeared just as I was to enter the Red Road at Kalapana this has to be my favorite part of the event, unfortunately the crews do not get to follow and I am riding in Paradise alone for the next 15 miles, it no longer resembles the Red Road which had Red Cinders in the original paving as it is now black asphalt!
I love the Red Road and hearing Steve Kings voice as he makes every athlete chuckle as they pass him standing surrounded by ancient lava flows telling the red road our positions!!

After the Red Road it was full steam ahead to Hilo I was trying to be up beat and positive. As usual the traffic lights turned red as I approached 5 of them! I also wondered if I would see the Naha Stone which weighed 7000 pounds! it was prophesied by a great Kahuna that a man who moved that stone would be the greatest King Hawaii had ever 14 years old Kamehameha did just that and went on to be the greatest leader of the Hawaiian People. With that thought I made it onto the Hamakua Coast line on Rt 19 with 57 miles of beautiful scenery water falls dramatic drop offs and farm lands,
hoping for a wee bit of sunshine...

We had rain and sun a little breeze I was just wanting to finish, I knew I was getting nearer to Waimea as I saw Parkers Ranch.

Before long I was turning right towards Parker School I had to stop here while Al addressed my foot issue which was excruciating, we decided on my Brooks running shoes
 I knew I had time to go over the Kohalas and  set off full throttle....I was very quickly stopped in my tracks when I started to climb the sound of the wind was horrendous and I was immediately blown across the road into the opposite lane and I had not even done two hundred yards!
Here Belinda Herd helps me with a pep talk
Kamakani O Kohala (The winds of the Kohalas ) had been unleashed! I visioned Laamaomao the lesser wind God opening the gourd which held all the Hawaiian winds and sent the winds to play in the Kohalas just as I was to ascend them via a bike! It was spooky and eerie I refused to quit. I started to walk and had a hard time getting my bike not to go airborn like a kite! After a mile of walking I felt so sad this was the worst I have experienced the Kohalas I am usually descending them at this time, but here I was walking my bike up this road I thought of the Night Marchers in mythical Hawaiian Folklore, they were ghost warriors of high ranks to welcome new warriors, or they march to old battle grounds, Sometimes you do not see them but you hear them as they pound drums, carry torches and chant, They also permit no interference from Mortals! And my did I feel like a mere mortal as I was tossed around like a piece of paper as the winds reached 55 miles per hour gusts. The sky was also doing weird things as well as the deafening sound of the wind; the sky was an artists palette of the most amazing hues while black clouds crossed like ships in the night and the trees did the hula, all the while I struggled to get to the top of the Kohalas, I did get on my bike a few times but never stayed more than a few seconds on the right side of the road before I was dancing across the road into the opposite lane.
Here is the work of the Goddess Hina.
Al came out to walk with me and after a few words of wisdom we decided that with 10 miles to go it was not safe to continue and it was better to be smart and quit while we were winning than to brave the descent and probably end up in a nasty accident.

Here I am after talking with Al as there comes a time when safety becomes more important than finishing an event.
So I finally climbed into the crew vehicle, a mixture of relief and disappointment! But as soon as we started to drive down the back side I knew we had made the right decision as there would have been no way I would have been able to handle the side winds.
We had a nice evening at the Hawi Hotel ate and chatted with a few other athletes. I was not up set I knew my limits and they had been met with the winds. But I intended to wake up the next morning and finish the event.

Kimmie and I at the beginning of the run
  Day 3 started in utter darkness, we always form 2 circles one of athletes and then the crews form another around the athletes a shell is blown north south east and west for safe passage an Hawaiian Chant is shared the the run begins.
a rainbow appears
Soon the sun is making an appearance and the ocean is full of white caps! must be pretty windy out there!
Al made sure I was on top of the nutrition
 I had a great run, did not have ANY stomach issues and kept to Hammer Bars and gels with every hour taking my Hammer Nutrition supplements I was joined different friends along the way of this incredible journey.
Belinda ran with me for 14 miles.

Opposite is Eddie Herd who was also medical director and he ran with me for a good 12 miles.

I felt like Forrest Gump just keep running and running and running My new Brooks Launch had a nice springy feeling to them too, mentally it was pretty intense and I was so grateful to all the pacers who turned out to support me, as deciding not to finish Day 2 with the finish line so close had been a very difficult thing to do and now I was running on Day 3 and was overcome with the amount of love and help I had along the road.
Jennifer Nottage joined me and kept me laughing for another good 10 miles, It was really really windy and it made for an interesting run. My Al & Jimmy did a great job of applying Ocean Potion to my face and arms, and made sure everyone that ran with me had water and food.

Soon I am on the final stretch of the Queen K and new athletes have joined me to run too, the Old Airport is in sight I can smell the food, everyone rallies around me to the finish chute, this is it!
happy to have finished
What a great land crew a HUGE MAHALO to Al and Jimmy for putting up with me for 3 days!!

Thanks Polar
John a new running Hawaiian friend. Mahalo

another die hard Hammer Nutrition fan Dan and Suzy

Thanks Hammer Nutrition and Ocean Potion

Awe Eddie and Belinda Herd thanks guys.

Another new friend "Mr Blue" Mahalo

my husband my number one fan!
I would also like to thank all the companies that helped me live my dream in Hawaii they would be
Hammer Nutrition, Ocean Potion sun care, Williams Wheels, Polar USA, Brooks running gear, Rudy Project USA, Kool n Fit, Aquaman Wetsuits, William Wheels, Triall3sport cases, Serfas Tires, ID4Sport tags, Profile- Design, Fuel Belt, Covina Aquatics, Hammer my mini pin and of course Al!
It had been a long journey and I hope to return in 2012 and officially finish for the 13th time.

 Below is a U Tube video shot by Gary Trowbridge of my finish at 2011 Ultraman Hawaii Mahalo Gary.

My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua Hawai`i

    by Bill Cogswell, Tommy Harrison & Johnny Noble

 I want to go back to little grass shack
In Kealakekua, Hawai`i
I want to be with all the kanes and wahines
That I used to know long ago

 I can hear the old guitars playing
On the beach at Hônaunau
I can hear the old Hawaiians saying
Komo mai no kâua i ka hale welakahao

 It won't be long till my ship will be sailing
Back to Kona
A grand old place
That's always fair to see, you're telling me

 I'm just a little Hawaiian
A homesick island boy
I want to go back to my fish and poi

 I want to go back to my little grass shack
In Kealakekua, Hawai`i
Where the humuhumunukunukuâpua`a
Go swimming by

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Endure the Bear 50km trail run September 10th

So it is a Friday evening and I am with Al and the kids at Big Bear Village CA; thanks to Paul Romero and Karen Lundgren two VERY accomplished adventure racers. The event a wee 50km trail run up in the mountains of Big Bear...mmm did I mention Altitude..
On the evening we stayed in a nice lodge and slept well, despite loud thunder and rain which the dogs did not gel well with!

Race morning came very quickly and as the Endure the Bear is extremely well organized by Elite Adventure racers there is not much to worry about, as there are so many aid stations a need for a back pack in not necessary, I opt for my fuel belt and have enough Hammer gels, endurolytes and perpetuem to get me through the 50km, I soak my insoles of my cascadia running shoes with kool n fit, and make a few final checks I am as ready as I can be!

I was super happy to see the event well sponsored by Hammer Nutrition and did not have to carry all my race nutrition as there was ample Hammer products at all aid stations.

The race began, I started out conservatively as Kurt Madden who has won the ultraman Hawaii event several times in the 80s, told me the altitude once it starts to affect you thats it! So start the race easy so as not to over load my muscles and keep very hydrated.

Without a doubt this is one of the most beautiful trail runs I have ever experienced, the views were spectacular, the trails well kept and the slogan Reduce, Reuse & Recycle kept playing through my mind!

 Here I was running and as the Open Air Big Bear site says:

"This is high altitude alpine trail running at its best!

I was all smiles for the first 20km and ran most of the event with a new running friend John Arnold. Yet even though I had been duly warned about the altitude and taken well the advice I would soon fall prey to altitude sickness making my final 15 km a very miserable affair indeed! All my knowledge and professionalism would help me ENDURE the BEAR! I was besieged by headaches, nausea, vomiting and bathroom malfunctions, my fingers were swollen and tingling yet I never stopped taking in liquid nutrition and hydrating as I knew how important these things were, I am not sure how high we were I think around 7000 feet but next year...yes I said next year I will get some high altitude training in to adjust to the thinner air!

As I kept on plodding forward my thoughts went to the beginning of the venue when we had all sung the American National Anthem and had a moments silence in remembering 9/11, I then thought of the women and men who are suffering from Breast Cancer a cause which I run for through the AVON Crusade of Puerto Rico and I kept on putting one foot in front of the other.

The view of big Bear lake and seeing other runners on the course helped me over come the feeling to quit (which really was never an option) And soon I was running down a long down hill, my momentum was off and I was not going as fast as I would have liked, my head was still pounding but a glance at my Polar RCX5 told me I was less than 2 miles from the finish line and that meant I could stop running or jogging...depending on how you defined my pull through this gait, and I would see my family at the line,

Turning the corner onto the asphalt I could suddenly see the finish my youngest step daughter Montana was running up to me with Hammer my running mini pin, this was it the finish line was insight and Hammer was bringing his human momma home full stride!

It was not my fastest time and managed a third place female in 7 hours and 15 minutes, considering the amount of walking I had had to do with overcoming the altitude I was really pleased to have finished. I was so pleased with the medal and the bling made it all worth it! and I also raised dollars towards the Crusade Against Breast Cancer for AVON.

A huge shout out to Hammer Nutrition, Brooks USA, Polar Monitors USA, Rudy Project, Fuel Belt, Kool n Fit and to Ocean Potion and Polar USA for giving great products for the podium finishers.
A very special thank you to my husband Al Wiscovitch for all the driving and support he gave me during the race day.
It was truly a family affair as my two step daughters Cheyenne and Montana also volunteered at the race helping with registration.

So next September 2012 I most likely will return to Open Air Big Bear and tackle the 50 km run again this time with a little better preparation for altitude running!! The race directors Paul and Karen deserve a huge shout out for their dedication and well run events.