The Unfinished Marathon
December 27, 2008, 9:47 am
Filed under: Life, Running | Tags: , , , ,

5:12am, December 14, 2008–somewhere into Mile 2 of my third official Honolulu Marathon (I’ve crashed one before without a bib number) in heavy downpour, I realized this fact:  the culmination of my smarter, faster, more dedicated training this entire year will be logged on the time chip that’s on my shoe right now, but it will only have the start time–damn. Two days prior to the marathon, I went back for a doctor’s visit, and my surgeon said that I can now live as if I have never had surgery. When I asked if I am allowed to run the marathon, she looked at me with curious eyes before saying “sure.” The curiosity, I interpreted, was “you’ve been training?”–a rhetorical question…

I started on a training plan early in the year, upped my weekly mileage, added in more speed workouts, for which I have to really psyche myself up the night before, I even started a two-women running club, which, to this day, remains a two-women running club–all for a PR.  Little did I know how much life had prepared to intervene this year.

Friends were surprised that I decided to run the marathon after the surgery, even parts of it; I didn’t think it was an option not to run it, it was only a matter of how much.  Waking up at 3:30am the morning of Marathon Day, I still haven’t decided how much I could run.  I have, after all, run but a total of 4 miles in the last six weeks, I didn’t know the mileage my legs could handle.

I was excited and ready to go. I put on my new, expensive Titanium socks that I bought from the marathon expo.  The titanium powder in the socks is said to regulate the body’s natural electric current through cell ionization, enhancing blow flow and muscle relaxation.  I’m not sure what that means, but no pain surly sounds enticing.img_00014 a.m. Ivy and I met up with my friend Liz and her running buddy, Rosie.  Our goal time is sub-4:30, so we inched our way up to the projected 3-4 hrs start area.


The rain, which has been mercilessly generous in the days prior was holding back at this time. Minutes before the 5 a.m. start gun shot (fired by President-Elect Obama’s sister), the fireworks lit the still pitch black sky.


As soon as we passed the start line, the rain first cheered us on with a slight sprinkle, crescendoing into a grand congratulatory downpour.  I am normally loathe running in the rain, but this day the thick drops felt extra refreshing on the skin. Ivy said her socks were completely soaked by mile 4, it took my titanium socks another two miles before they were saturated with water. I give them a thumbs up!img_0041

Just like previous years, the Honolulu Marathon has a high percentage of runners flow in from Japan just for the event. There were clearly a huge decrease in foreign runners this year, but the ones who ran still showcased entertaining costumes. Somewhere along mile six, Ivy and I spotted this sumo-runner, it was raining hard, but I had to get a picture.

img_0001_2 Running in proximity of such sour eye candy propelled us to run a little faster.  Into the next mile, we came up behind a blue and white superhero.img_0003_2We were not sure if it’s who we thought it was, so we ran ahead of him/her to verify.img_0002_2It was nonetheless my childhood hero, Doraemon! I ran close to him and yelled with my very limited Japanese, “ganbatte, Doraemon!” He responded in typical spirited Japanese fashion, “HAI!” and I continued my quest to find more iconic runners. Other notable runners included Yoda, Darth Vader, and King Kamehameha, all of whom I had outrun.

Before I knew it, I have already run past mile 7 and 9, two of my three mile marker options to stop and call my friend for pick up. Just then, I looked at my phone to see the time and saw that I had received a text message from my cheerleader of the day, Hideki, a fellow runner friend. I had told him of my goals of running at least 7, 9, or 11 miles, but seeing his text, and I was already at mile 9, I was inspired to go all the way to 13.1 so my feet can touch down on the next time chip mat. Having declared new goal, I tucked my camera away and really started the race.

My favorite part of the marathon course is a downhill stretch between mile 9 and 10. In previous years of running the race, when I got to to top of the hill, I would see a sea of runners below me with the sun starting its climb over them–part of the thrill of a big race. The glorious view was not to be on this cloudy day.

img_0007_2Running past mile 11, the lack of training for the last six weeks evidenced itself in my legs.  I started to feel tightness in my hamstrings. My little toe started to blister, my knees started crackling. I wanted to walk, but Ivy still had her sub 4:30 goal to meet, so I kept running. The last mile was difficult as my body started to slow down. When the body starts to give in, the only thing to do is keep thinking inspiring thoughts, and for me, thoughts that can inspire during a run are either elated or angry ones. “The stupid lump,” I thought,”had caused me so much stressed, anxiety, pain, and it had kept me from running for so long, I’ll be damned if I don’t show it who has won the battle.”

Mile 13.1.  I hugged Ivy goodbye, and sent her onto her PR. We took a minute to take a momentous photo.


An on-duty Mr. Policeman took another photo for me. It is very important to note that the time shown is not my time because it has been minutes since I had stepped on the mat. img_0012_3

Mr. Policeman suggested that I get a ride from the Marathon Medical van to get back to where I need to go if I am to stop now.  I happily obliged, especially knowing that I don’t have to feign dying to be eligible for pick up. But when I got in the van and asked to be dropped off at the nearby mall where I was to be picked up, I got a less than runner-friendly response of “this is not taxi-service, we’re not supposed to leave our zone” from one of the red-capped Marathon personnel.


They eventually took me to my destination with a smile. I ran to meet my gracious friend Tabitha, who graciously agreed to wake up early to pick me up from my unfinished marathon. Even though I desperately wished I could keep going, I was wildly happy about my accomplishment.

The running high lingered all day. Tabitha noticed that I was still smiling when we met for dinner. The day ended with a huge meal high in protein, carbs, and fat. It’s great to be a runner, you really can eat all you can.


My official time for the half split was much better than I had expected considering how under-trained I was.

It is all just numbers, but on the rare occasion, certain numbers bear the significance that no words can adequately represent.



thanksgiving 2008
November 30, 2008, 5:50 am
Filed under: Cooking/Food, just life | Tags: , ,

Sights and smell of the holiday season which has just begun.

Thanksgiving brunch with Ivy, lots of good coffee, cooking with Amy and Nevo and Tosca (who is camera shy), mashed potatoes, green bean casserole–Alton Brown style, Thanksgiving Dinner at Jackie’s (forgot my camera), more cooking the next day with Amy, cranberry orange relish, orange glazed yams, brussels sprouts, tree lighting–all done with spritely christmas music.  I love this time of the year.

Best race I’ve run
October 27, 2008, 7:31 am
Filed under: Running | Tags: , ,

Having consistently, though recreationally, trained, run, and race for about three years, I’ve never heard of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure until now–until I am a direct beneficiary of the race.

The cost of my upcoming surgery will be covered by my local hospital’s High Risk Breast Cancer Program, which applies for grants from the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. As soon as I realized the connection, I registered (on the last day of registration) to run the race myself. Aside from sponsoring Ivy for her run, I raised about $500 for my run, thanks to supportive friends and family.

Admittedly, I feel slightly guilty for using the funds of the program when there are many other women who may be in the same, or worse, predicament who are in more desperate financial needs even though the program director assured me that they are able, and happy, to cover my costs.

I ran the race last Sunday, October 19, 2008. Seeing the sea of men and women runners, many of whom bore the names of loved ones who have either lost their battles or are in the midst of fighting cancer, made me a little emotional. Momentarily, however, I became infuriated by certain people cheating in the race, even though it’s not a timed race or an awarded one. There was a 1-mile run/walk those people could have signed up for, WHY join a 5-K and cheat the distance?? Why bother to wake up so early on a Sunday morning if you are not in for it? I know it doesn’t hurt anyone that they didn’t go the distance, but it’s nonetheless disconcerting. Principle, principle, principle! Or maybe they are ‘objectivists.’ …now I’m digressing.

I ran the race well, despite very tired legs from running a 14-miler the day before. This is one race I will always remember, one that I will continue to support even if, God forbids, I can no longer run it myself.

To find a race in your city, or to donate to the cause, please visit

gotta keep runnin’
July 20, 2008, 6:25 am
Filed under: Running | Tags: ,

With the anticipation of Ivy going on a week-long trip, I pushed myself to run our club run alone today (Ivy fell sick). In the past, when one of us is away, the other consider it vacation from running too. This year, it has to be different. With our running club, we have to depend on the other members to get us out there. But hopefully, our running club will soon have more than two regular members. 🙂

I ran our club route again today, and even though my legs didn’t experience the same pump of strength like last week (I didn’t have a ‘haute’ dog last night), I managed to shave another 3 minutes off! That’s a whopping near-6 minutes from the inaugural run!! I’m ecstatic. I felt so strong that I even ran an extra cool down mile.

After Ivy’s trip, then it’ll be my turn to take off for a month. I hope I can still run. I will.

Inaugural Run
June 29, 2008, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Running | Tags: ,

The inaugural run of the 6@6 Club took place yesterday as scheduled. Including Ivy and me, five runners laced up and ran. We even took on an ambassadorial role of showing our guest runner from CA the beautiful land on which we get to run everyday.

5 runners at our 1st run

We watched as Tabitha took more than a few tries to parallel park. She was tired. 🙂

Despite the minor hiccup of not finding the mile-8 marker of the HM route as our starting point, we had a perfect run. The weather was nice, our legs strong, our pace conversational. Three of us ran the whole six miles; two ran four. We finished just before nightfall, and enjoyed the view of the great Pacific with some post-run Maui Gold pineapples.

Post run fuel–I clearly needed some from the way I took this photo.

Our fuel

Our view

till next week…

The run was sheer exhilaration. I must admit that having worked a long day prior to our run, the fleeting thought of bailing out, though fleeted, entered my mind. I am glad I did not succumb to my inner loafer because I am certain that somewhere along the 5th mile up the hill, I experienced the elusive runner’s high. Whether it was the thrill of running with new legs, or the anticipation of a carb-loaded post-run meal, it was a moment of perfect euphoria.

June 23, 2008, 1:06 am
Filed under: Running | Tags: ,

One day after announcing the 6@6 Clubtm to some friends,

the responses have been either “six miles? what?,” or “6 a.m.? what?”

So to mitigate their fears of running too much too early,we’ll attempt to adjust a little for our first club run without compromising our name–

6 (or less) miles at 6 P.M.
Saturday, 6/28

We’ll run/jog/walk along parts of the HM (Hono marathon) route.
-Start at mile 8 (of the HM route) up on Diamond Hd Rd, park along the lookout
-Continue on DH Rd, passing mile 9
down onto 18th Ave
down onto Kilauea Ave, passing mile 10 (in front of the mint-lawn house)
-Reach Aloha gas station across from Kahala Mall(that’s near mile 11)

-Return to start

For those of you who haven’t run this route before, I promise you that this will be a fun run. This chunk of the HM route is, in my opinion, the best part because
1) our starting point has a gorgeous view of the expansive ocean, a community garden right on the slope, and plentiful eye-candy (surfer dudes and Japanese girls in skimpy bikinis, whichever you’re into),
2) as soon as we start, we go downhill,
3) after the road levels for a bit, we go downhill again until mile 10,

4) the mile 10 mark lies right by a house with a mint-lawn, and with a little breeze, your senses are energized by a whiff of minty freshness.

Now yes, if there are all those downhills, we will have to go UP in the reverse, but by then your quads will be all warmed and ready to try out those hills.

To make our club more legit, I’ll have fresh refreshing fruits ready as post-run fuel. And we can all go grab a bite or a beer afterwards. Nothing builds camaraderie faster than an inadvertant exchange of pheromones and smelly sweat.

Drop me a note if you might show up. Plan to be parked by 5:50pm so that we’ll have a few moments to stretch. And if no one shows up, Ivy and I will still be running, but I’ll just save the same fresh fruits for next week. ;}

June 20, 2008, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Running | Tags: ,

It’s been 8 months since I signed up for this blog space. At the time I felt a need to jot down my thoughts on running and my thoughts during running, hence the blog name. But almost immediately after I signed up for the space, named my blog, and selected a vibrantly verdant template, all thoughts ran away. I had nothing to say.

Between then and now, my running partner, Ivy, and i went through a rather lacking season of marathon training. We were both under-trained for the event. I crashed the local marathon, running the first 11 miles of it then headed for the car which I had strategically parked at 3 a.m. that morning. Ivy hit the wall or pulled something by mile 20, and ran her slowest marathon.

Since the beginning of 2008, she has run two races, I, just one. The 10-K Pineapple Run back in May proved to be a fruitful race. We ran a rather satisfying time, I made fried rice and dessert with my pineapple, and my eagerness for training was renewed.

Despite the reinvigorated gusto for pavement pounding, life intervened, and we just couldn’t seem to get our routine down. It’s been months since we’ve done any interval runs at the track or tempo runs. I feel embarrassed each time I log my runs in the training log that it is another “easy” run of two times around the park.
Our long runs on Saturdays are no more than the 4.6 mile Kahala loop.

As an eternal optimist, I learn from past failures and anticipate a stronger, faster training season.

A self-diagnosis of our failed season revealed several issues:
1) our faltering dedication to training on our own when the other is out of town, and in the past two years of training together, one of us always go on these long trips right before the marathon,
2) bad timing for vacations,
3) our faltering dedication to training when it rains,
4) our faltering dedication to training when one of us simply doesn’t feel like running that morning.

A typical scenario of #3 & #4, which happens much more frequently than #1 and #2, goes something like this:

Background– 5:45 a.m. is the normal time for Ivy to call Winnie to say that she’s leaving her apartment to pick her up.
On a #3 or #4 faltering dedication day, Ivy calls at 5:15 a.m.
“Hello, Ivy,” answers W in a husky voice.
“Is it raining on your side?” asks I, clearly still in a supine position.
“Hmmm, the ground is wet, but it’s not raining at the moment,” says W without opening her eyes.
“Oh,” I replies in a disappointed tone, “are there clouds?” I asks hopefully.
“well, yes, there are always clouds, but yea, they look pretty dark!” W says smilingly still with eyes closed.
“okay, tomorrow then,” I says with relief.
“tomorrow then,” W hangs up before she finishes the sentence.

We need to join a running group.