Wednesday, May 21, 2014

North Shore Marathon

Debra and I have finally completed our long 5 month long training schedule, completing the North Shore Marathon. 

Sharing the marathon review finally drafted and published:

This was a fantastic race course, starting at Haleiwa to Kaena point, routed along Farrington Highway on the North side of Oahu. The race started at 5AM with crisp chilly winds. I enjoyed the first two hours of the course. We ran two loops around Haleiwa town and most of the runners were together. Two hours in, I could feel the heat creeping up as the sun started rising. Runners then started spacing out. At hour 3, it was scorching hot! About half of the time, I was running without any other runner in sight. Hour 4 came and I wanted to be done, done, done, son!

Training for this race was rather difficult. As everyone enjoyed their holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s… I was on a training schedule. The training schedule meant early Saturday long runs, watching my diet intake of certain food groups and increasing other food groups, leaving parties early and going to bed early each evening. Five months later, the work paid off as I came to check out this local’s race and its amazing course. What I found special to this race was the way the race took care of their runners. Everything was over the top: from the beautifully designed race bibs, to the food at the finish line, the hydration stations and finally, to the commentary finisher items.

What makes this race great:
1) A flat course, no hills.
2) A beautiful scenic view of Mokuleia Beach for miles along the route
3) Beautifully designed finisher medal, beautiful tech men and women’s fit finisher shirts, a commentary finisher glass
4) Great hydration and food along the course. The food was provided by Yama’s Fishmarket, treating all finishers to a choice of beef or vegetarian chili and rice.

What you may not enjoy about this race:
1) Hour 3 into the run usually gets pretty hot.
2) An early start on the North side of Oahu, and the drive there is even earlier.

Zara’s tips for a successful run:

1) Drink more water than you normally. Once 8AM hits, you will dehydrate quick.
2) Pace yourself, you got 26.2 miles!
3) Plan your arrival on race day with extra cushion. The drive is farther than you think.

As published in the May 2014 issue of Hawaii Sport mag:

Honolulu Triathlon - Completed!

What is it like to complete your first Olympic distance triathlon? I feel accomplished!

Triathlon review:
I have heard a lot of interesting perspectives about this race and the course, coming into the race and after having completed this race. Some were negative, some were neutral and a few were positive. As a newbie to the sport and as an endurance athlete that races almost every other weekend, I feel that races appeal to different people for different reasons. A great race should be fun so that people want to come back year after year. A great race will appeal to the majority. At the end of the day, races are a business and businesses need to make a profit. This race does not appeal to everyone, but I feel that it does appeal to a good number of people. This is why this race had over 1500 participants. Tinman Triathlon caps out at 900, Lanikai Triathlon caps out at 300. You can see the numbers here that 1500 participants is on the higher side when compared to other local triathlons on Oahu.

My observation is that this is a wonderful and well laid out course for the newbie, for the out of towner and especially for the long time triathlete that just wants to have fun and be fit with friends. Furthermore, the location allows for a large number of participants, over 1500 participants a year usually.

The swim portion was the main reason for me to sign up for this course. It is a long 1500m, but the water at Ala Moana Beach Park is flat. As coral surrounds this area, the water is protected from waves and certain ocean critters. This makes it great for the newbie to try out a triathlon of this distance. The swim portion of this race is a straight line, out and back. We started from Magic Island and then swam almost the end of the park water and then back. The water here is a relatively decent size, capable of fitting a large number of swimmers. 

The bike portion of this race was relatively easy. The road is a flat out and back. With the exception of a slight incline on the way out to Aloha Stadium, it was relatively flat. Flats are my strengths, so the course was in my favor. 

The run portion was a bit confusing but yet nice for spectators. Since the park is a bit small, participants had to run around the park twice. On the second loop, participants had to make sure to get a band and place it on the right wrist. This could have been a bit confusing for participants. The nice thing about running around in a loop was that spectators did not have to move around to watch participants. 

How I personally felt:
My swim sucked. I thought I was gonna get killed everytime the next wave of people swam towards me and then eventually passed me!! But I made it out of the water without any lifeguard assistance. (Haha, pun intended.) I swam much, much, much slower than in training, about 9 minutes slower. I was just super nervous about not making it out of the swim, cramping up, swallowing too much salt water, just everything really... So I went into my "safe and comfortable" zone, breathing on every stroke. It made me relax and comfortable but also super slow. That put me waaaaaayyyyyyyy behind everyone. By the time I got out of the water, I was just glad to have finished (Try Fitness support crew was there cheering me on and that felt so good). But then I looked at my watch and felt like crap. I saw that I took waaayyyy too long. I ran to the transition and it was basically empty! There were almost no bikes left! I could only assume that they were all riding already...

Took my bike out and paced myself but totally knew I had to make up time. About 100 people later that I passed, I finally made it back to the transition area. The good news was that no one passed me on the bike. The road was almost clear as I passed people on the right. My watch showed that I had gone faster than my goal time on the bike, so I was pleased. But later, the official time showed that I was about a minute over my goal time (goal was 75 minutes, official time was 76 minutes). My goal time is a bit on the higher end for a female newbie to the sport, so I am not disappointed, I'll take it. 

Returning to the transition area, the IT&B tent was gone! I had used it as my point of reference to where my items were. After using up a good 5 seconds to locate my transition area, I put my bike back and then set off on the run. I paced myself on the run knowing that I had 6 miles to go. I saw a lot of people that I knew coming back to the finish and on their second loop. It felt really nice and it was very different for me to see so many familiar faces. I usually run races knowing very few other participants. I finished the 6.2 miles in 58 minutes (longer than my goal, but oh well, I'll take it).

Overall, I wanted to do a whole lot better. But I know it was primarily my swim that put me so behind. My bike was great, run wasn't bad and my transition time was pretty good. There were so many people from Try Fitness cheering me on throughout the race, when I came out of the swim, along the bike and several times on the run, it felt super motivating and encouraging. 

But I'm glad I finished. Most of all, proud that I finished my swim. When I signed up early last year (9 months ago for the super early Kama'aina discount), I didn't even know if I could swim 1500m... At the time, I could barely swim 50m in the pool! So, I can't be too hard on myself. But you know, my competitive spirit wished I did better.

Coming up:
Right now, I am on a break from training. I have been training on my swim for 11 months, biking for 5 months and running for 7 months (started with a training schedule for the North Shore Marathon). Some things come easier for me and other things are harder. My strengths are definitely on the bike and run. My swim has been a constant effort weekly to train and get in the water. At the end of the day, it has progressed much slower than the other events. The only thing I can do is keep working on it. 

I will be commuting to work on my bike, to get some miles in...about 5.5 miles each way. And secondly, to save some money on gas expense. I have an international trip coming up in two weeks. When I come back in mid June, it will be back to training for the next event. Because, that's my job, Hawaii Sport mag keeps me busy! :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ready for Honolulu Triathlon

After spending 8 weeks training with Try Fitness, 4 months cycling training with Try Fitness, 7 months of running training and 11 months of swimming training, I feel ready!

I might be the last one out of the water, I might have to fight my way on the bike and I might have to hustle on the run... but I know I can do this!

Good luck all participants.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

7 days until Honolulu Triathlon 2014

Today I feel tired and "done". Well, it started on Friday. Friday, I felt done, done with training, done with dieting, done with early morning workouts, done with early nights in, done with a schedule and done. I think it is the accumulation of many things: stuff happening at work, the past 7 months of training, the "moving house" and all the related things I had to deal with in the past 1.5 months, Kona trip 2 weeks ago, upcoming trip to Thailand and upcoming trips to Hilo and Kauai.

There are 7 days left until the big day: Honolulu Triathlon. At this time, I just have to believe that the training I have done is enough, 10 months of swim training, 7 months of run training, 4 months of cycle training... Nothing done in this past week and in this upcoming week will help... Nor will it hurt... but this is it, 7 days!!

Excited, nervous, ready.

Awesome video from last year: Honolulu Triathlon 2014 Video

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Happy May Day 2014 - Update

A monthly update, here I go... This post is a bit overdue.

I spent a great weekend in Kona. Landed on Saturday and swam a mile at Hapuna beach, then a 60 mile ride, then an awesome 4 mile run. On Sunday, we rode an easy 28 miles. Then, we enjoyed the rest of the day. Aleisha and I even discovered a secret pond. That will remain a secret.

Despite a few set backs this past week (like my bike not arriving via Aloha Air Cargo, yes they somehow forgot to ship it and my carbon aero bars cracking and having to find $200+ to replace it), the weekend was spectacular. I got an opportunity to rent and ride the Specialized Shiv bike. Although it was bigger than my current bike (size 49cm being the smallest it came in, and I ride a 47cm women's geometry), the Shiv is an incredible bike. I loved it so much, I might have to buy one myself!!

Riding to Hawi... Oh, how do I describe this experience. There was a wind advisory... and team Boca did NOT ride on Saturday. But we did. And I got blown over from the shoulder lane to the road almost 5x! I thought I was going to die that day, literally!! How I did not even fall over, is beyond me. Thank you God!

I had an amazing time with some of the ladies of team Try Fitness in Kona. An incredible and unforgettable ride, an awesome weekend.

Having started my training since last year (by myself and not realizing it) until this past month (April) with team Try Fitness, I have come quite a long way. With that, I can feel myself getting a little exhausted and worn out. After the North Shore Marathon (April 6, 2014), the day after, I felt completely fine, but I somehow wanted to give myself an extra few days to rest. Now, after Kona, I am feeling the same. Despite the former roommates finally moving out and having to help them get some things finalized: cleaning, moving the rest of my things, etc., it has been a busy and long week. I cannot believe May is here. There are 2 more weeks until the Olympic distance Hon Triathlon. I looked back at when I signed up for this race, 10 months ago... Never would I have imagined myself coming this far along in becoming a triathlete. I never thought I could be this person. The reason I signed up was for the pure cheap price. I signed up hoping that I could and hoping that I will somehow manage the incredibly (long at the time) swim of 1500 meters. Although this swim is still long to me, it is much more manageable. I set a goal for myself to swim in 55 minutes for the race. During one of the Try Fitness training, we had to perform a sort of time trial of this distance. To my surprise, I finished in under 50 minutes. This has given me the much needed confidence for race day. Now, I know you cannot predict what will happen on race day, but if I can come in under 55 minutes, I will be so happy. 11 months ago, I could not swim. I could not float. I was scared of the water. 10 1/2 months ago, I took my first swim class. 12 months ago, I bought this carbon Scott Bike! 15 months ago, I clipped into my clipless pedals for the first time. The rest as they say, is history!

BTW - Scott CR Carbon, his name is Bruce Wayne. Yes, like Batman ;)

Wow, my second marathon. It has been an incredible 5 month journey training with the ever incredible and driven Debra! Team Zebra! That's what we called ourselves. I spent the last 5 months waking up every Saturday at around 430AM and meeting Debra for our weekly Saturday early morning runs. It has been an incredible journey. That discipline was incredibly and took everything I had, I think... I still cannot believe I did it. I am proud of this accomplishment. I am proud of Team Zebra. We did this together.

The North Shore Marathon shirt - definitely is one of my favorite finisher shirts: women's fit, dryfit, a great design and an awesome memory of my training and experiences with Debra.

LOONEY LAGOON 5K - Easter Egg Hunt race
I placed 3rd in my age category. Ecstatic! Training is really finally showing results :)

Team Hawaii Sport Reports - doing work, son!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Everything is awesome

The only thing I am allowed to say right now is that Life is amazing and Everything is awesome!

I saw the Lego movie not too long ago. The thing that really stuck out for me from that movie is that everything is perception. An ordinary person can make a difference, create his own life and get the girl he wants, if he really wants it and if he goes for it! So, let's want it bad enough and let's go for it!

This is the thought process that I have been borrowing for a few months now and it seems to be working amazingly!

Let's break it down. To start: Work.

Work is hard.
But it is going awesome! Our office space is the penthouse of a 22 story building. But life in the penthouse is not always incredible, although the views are! We have had our ups and downs with our department staff in the last 8-10 months, confusion with other growing departments in the company and late nights getting things done by deadlines. As an example, we have more than doubled my department since last summer. By last summer, I mean LATE last summer. If you can do the math, that is a 200% increase. It is amazing. What comes with new staff is training and new procedures and much, much more. As our department has not been the only one expanding, the entire company is, every department is also having the same issues we are. But, everyday, we work at it with our team and we get one thing at a time done, one deadline at a time. Lots will be coming this late March and April will be crazy. This includes the office blessing of our expanded office, Suite 136 on the ground level. Exciting stuff...

Weekday training is a daily battle.
It starts early in the morning from getting up at 430/5AM to getting out the door for a run, bike, swim, to minimizing my shower and get-ready routine, to remembering to pack the right things for my after work training. I have been consistently running at least 2x/weekday in the early mornings before work since late last year. In addition, fitting in at least one swim session/week. It has been going fantastic. Just this week, after giving daylight savings time a warmup, I am adding more weekday morning workouts. I have started to run and then swim 1000m right after this past Monday. The water was not as cold as I had imagined and the swim was hard after my 5 mile run, but it was absolutely fantastic! I finished and was absolutely proud of myself. You should be proud of me too. Today, I attempted a ride up Tantalus. The ride took longer than I had predicted, which lead me to getting back to my apartment later than I had estimated. But all in all, I did a quick shower and drove to the office within 15 minutes. That is definitely a world record for a girl!!! PS I did not wash my hair! Ha! I will definitely continue with my increased weekday workout days, as long as work allows me to do so!

Weekends are usually always awesome!
My Saturday 5AM runs with Team Zebra has been amazing! We started tapering with 13 miles this past Saturday. The run felt extremely easy to me. I think that is how it is supposed to feel? This upcoming Saturday, we will continue to taper with 10 miles. I also hope a few individuals can join us. As much as running with Team Zebra has been amazing, I want to share our love for the sport, our knowledge and passion with others. Only two Saturdays left to train until our big North Shore Marathon. I am super excited but nervous at the same time...

Sundays in January and February has been these amazing 2-4 hour long rides with Team Try Fitness. This group of ladies has really surprised and surpassed my expectations. I joined the group to learn how to cycle better but really, to just have people to cycle with. I have finished the clinic with such an extremely comfortable level of cycling skills and knowledge, lots of friends and lots of fun memories. I have started their triathlon training clinic last week and I cannot wait to see what unfolds. My Sundays for the rest of March, April and most of May will be dedicated to brick workouts (run, bike and/or swim) with the team and I cannot wait. So far, I have learned to be a better and more comfortable swimmer. Currently, I think my cycling is decent and my run is decent. However, both can still be much improved upon. But what I am most excited about is my swimming. I cannot wait to see how much farther my swimming gets developed in the next two months.

Hawaii Sport Mag
Working with Hawaii Sport Mag has definitely opened doors and provided me with incredible knowledge and information within the Hawaii running, cycling, swimming and triathlon community. I have started to even branch out and am receiving a few testing apparel from mainland companies. I am continuing to grow the magazine's social media, running team, review column (with my amazing running team) and the magazine overall. Overall, as a magazine, we had substantial growth and major accomplishments in 2013. I cannot wait to see the magazine's growth in 2014. It is all very exciting.

Sharon's Run 10K 2014
Almost forgot: 2nd place age group! Yippee.

I have to leave now and get some shut eye. Tomorrow morning, I am taking a break from a morning workout to hopefully get to the office early. Got a few deadlines to meet. But the afternoon will be given to Team Try Fitness.

Will update again soon.

PS - this is the Lego movie's theme song: EVERYTHING IS AWESOME! Lego Movie Theme Song

Saturday, February 15, 2014

President's Day weekend update

Happy President's Day weekend!

For the past 5 years, President's Day weekend for me meant a few things:

- Missing the GAR
- Coming in to the office to work 12+ hours
- Seeing everyone post about the GAR
- Feeling super duper depressed about missing the GAR

Last year, I was unemployed, so President's Day was great! It was the first year I ran the GAR without having to worry about work afterwards. Overall, it was my second time running the GAR.

There was one year in which I took a half day off from work to run the GAR. In retrospect, it was the worst decision ever! I came back to the office exhausted after the run (came back after lunch) to find myself with a stack 2 feet high of work! It took nearly a week to catch up. At the end of that week, I decided that I could never run the GAR again as long as I was in the same profession. Last year, I left my profession and then ran the GAR under a friend's number (who was injured by the GAR date). I ran the GAR and spent the rest of my day guilt free and relaxed.

This year, I will not be completing the GAR. Instead, I will spend the day working on my personal tax consulting business to get a few things completed.

On the bright side, here's how my training is going thus far:

Team Zebra (Zara and Debra) just completed our second 17 mile run. It was a hard run. We started from Kailua Beach (not our usual route), ran towards Lanikai, back to Kailua beach, then down towards Kbay, around Kbay and then back. The ground was filled with huge wet puddles, the grass was muddy and wet, in addition, there was rain and extremely strong wind which blew towards us on our way to Lanikai, all this made the start of our run quite lousy. It got better when the rain stopped but tons of puddles on the ground left our shoes soaking wet throughout the entire run. I could tell Debra was having a hard time completing the last two miles at both of our 17 mile runs. But she is definitely strong in will. Both times, her will and determination pushed through and both times, we completed 17 miles as planned and finished together. We ended our last 1.5 miles running barefoot in the sand at Kailua Beach. It was to help soften the pain on our foot. It worked very well as the cold water refreshed my mentality giving me something you might call, a spring in my step!

We missed our long run last weekend. I went to cycling camp (more below) and she participated in the Stomp Romp at the Marine Corp Base in Kaneohe. Needless to say, our weekend was over before we could catch our breaths and Monday had began. Next week, we start our first 20 miler together. Soon, it will be time to taper and in a short two months, we will be participating in the North Shore Marathon! I am extremely nervous and excited at the same time. I know that the only thing we can do, is to have fun preparing for this.

Training with team Try Fitness has been incredible so far. Last weekend, we spent the weekend at Camp Erdman. We rode 42 miles on Saturday morning including Pineapple Hill, came back for lunch, foam rolled for 30 minutes, had margaritas, started dinner and hung out at the camp fire. On Sunday, we rode for 30 miles easy as four separate groups. Unfortunately, our group of four had two flats! What are the odds of that?? After the ride, we completed the workout with an easy 20 minute run. Then we had lunch, packed and drove back to town leaving behind wonderful memories of our cycling camping weekend together. It was a great weekend with great food (that everyone chipped in) and the riding was awesome. What I love about this group is that they make it fun! Fitness and cycling being fun? I was not sure if I could find that from this sport. Fortunately, I have become 5x more comfortable with riding through the skills and drills we have been taught during training practice sessions. There are about two more weeks and it can only get better.

The weather in January and during this month, February, so far has been terrible! If it is not rainy, it is just extremely cold! I have tried going in the water after the long runs (around 9AM) before cooling off for too long but still feeling extremely freezing cold in the water. With only a top and bottom bikini, often times, my body cold not take the temperature. I am lucky if I can fit in a swim session during these months. It is definitely putting me behind in my training!

I have also been trying to hit the pool Monday nights and that has been a hit and miss. I would say a hit two times a month! And a miss the other two times of the month. January and February has not been kind! I hope March will be a warmer month so that I can get in the water more often.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

New Year, New Zara

New Year, New Zara!

This year's goals are:

1. Complete my second marathon: North Shore Marathon - April 6, 2014
2. Complete my first Olympic distance Triathlon: Honolulu Triathlon - May 18, 2014
3. Complete the hardest marathon (and will be my third marathon) on any of the islands in Hawaii: Kauai Marathon - August 31, 2014.

To do this, I am determined to:

1. Practice my swimming, increase my swim distance to swimming 1500m comfortably.
    Action: Swim at least 2x a week, each month progressing in distance. I do not think I ever want to be a pro at swimming. Right now, I am so uncomfortable swimming that I just want to be able to swim a mile and not feel like I might die soon!
2. Get faster and stronger on the bike. Also, learn more about my bike and how to care for it.
    Action: Join Try Fitness Cycling program. Cycling on my own is fine. However, I do not push myself. I also do not ride for longer than one hour. This limits my growth.
3. Get back to my running pace, be able to run a marathon again.
    Action: Weekly long runs with great friend, Debra! Also, schedule at least four runs a week on my calendar. Schedule at least one tempo run a week. This should increase my distance, pacing and cardio weekly.
4. Be Triathlon ready.
    Action: Join a triathlon training group. As determined and self-disciplined as I am or as people know that I am, triathlon is a completely different and very mentally intense sport. Training with a group should help me to learn and progress faster, give myself some competition and keep me motivated.

The new year is all about goal setting... or at least that is what I am told! But I think what is actually more important is, how realistic are your goals?

This is probably the only year so far that all this will be possible. The reason being, a change in my profession. My current profession has definitely allowed me the time to make this commitment. It is amazing how a change in jobs and consequently, environment, that has enabled me to change my life, and lifestyle. This is pretty much what I have always wanted, but it was a dark tunnel for me to get here. I have finally arrived. And the sun is bright!

2nd place age group for me and 3rd place age group for Debra at Bosetti 10K - Jan 1, 2014. Go team Zebra! First time at podium! Whoohoo!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

My second Rock n Roll race, in Vegas!

The Rock 'n' Roll series is known for a ridiculously fun race filled with loud and familiar rock music played by live bands along the course and ending the race at the finish line with a spectacular free concert (for runners) by a well-known big liner band and/or artist.

Members of Hawaii Sport and I thought it would be a good idea to check out our fifth island, Las Vegas, and the RocknRoll Half Marathon this year, 2013.

The Rock 'n' Roll series is always a fun race for me. This was my second Rock 'n' Roll race and it was exactly what I had expected from my experience at the first race in the series.

As far as organization went, they have it down to the T. The series organizes more than 50 races a year, both across the nation and including their expansion internationally now. Tons of email reminders and information were sent to participants on: what to bring to packet pick-up, information on parking, shuttles, portal potties, maps of the race start and finish, discounts on hotels and attractions for participants.

Packet pick-up
The packet pick up flowed like salmons swimming downstream.
Signs included: 1) bib pick up, according to your number, 2) shirt and swag pick up, 3) official Rock n Roll souvenirs for purchase, 4) vendors.

With over 30,000 participants combined for the half and the full marathon, things flowed by butter.

In addition, on Saturday, the team and I had the chance to listen in on Allyson Felix, Olympic Gold Medalist - 200m, on stage interviewing.

Bag drop-off
The bag drop off was also incredibly well organized. About 10 or 15 UPS trucks lined up alphabetized by participant's last names and volunteers took in participant's bags. Later, the same UPS trucks lined up at the finish line for bag pick up. It was definitely a good idea for me to to check in a jacket to wear after the race. Coming from Hawaii, somehow 70 degrees Vegas weather felt like the Arctic, especially when my body had cooled down after the race.

Pre-race concert
Usually, the Rock 'n' Roll series throws an after race concert, but it seemed like due to the limitations of the race being put on at night, a pre-race concert was a better idea. Otherwise, the concert would not start until 9 or 10PM, which might cut into the night clubbing scene. And it worked. The All-American Rejects performed in a packed parking lot and they were fantastic. The walk to the race start was a bit dull and long. But their concert really got my blood flowing and excited to start the run.

Run the strip
Lights, camera, action! I felt like a movie star running down the Las Vegas Uptown strip -- met with tons of photographers, a loud cheering crowd and live bands playing great rock music along the way. One of the bands was KISS! Next up on the half marathon course was Las Vegas Downtown. This was a darker part of the race and was not quite as loud and exciting as the Uptown portion. The good thing was that my adrenaline was already up and high. Some parts of Downtown was dark and not well lit. I think the organizers could have placed one or two more lights in these parts of the course. But overall, I do not think anyone got injured from the lack of lights. At mile 10, I saw the sign which forked the half marathon and the full marathon runners apart. Excited to know that I was almost done, I picked up the pace.

Finish line
The finish line tunnel was extremely long. What was probably only two blocks long felt like an entire mile. Medals, water, the usual items were handled out to us. In additional, black plastic bags with the Rock 'n' Roll logo were also handled to us to keep warm as our body temperatures went back to normal. Bonus, at the end, we were treated to free beer by Ultra. Beer felt great after a long, nice run... Especially FREE beer. 

The rest of our stay
We ended the night with a great buffet dinner at Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. It was a block away from the Bellagio, where the end of the finish line tunnel lead. Most of all, it conveniently close. We were all exhausted and COLD. The temperature dropped from 75 degrees F when we started to about 60 degrees F when we crossed the finish line. In addition, our internal body temperatures were also dropping at a dramatically quick pace. To our surprise, it was not an original idea as we were comforted by the familiar crouching backs and slow steps of other runners who also wanted to end their night with a grand buffet. 

We enjoyed the rest of our stay in Vegas with lots of shopping, drinking, and fun fun fun! 

I am sorry, but what happens in Vegas.............. stays in Vegas!!!!!

This review was also published in the December 2013 digital issue of Hawaii Sport Magazine:

Saturday, November 30, 2013

My second Xterra 21K

Every year, the Xterra World Championships off-road trail running race for me means the end of the year's running, the accumulation of my accomplishments, my training and the end of the calendar year. Realistically, my running always trails off in December with all the holiday parties and gatherings and the preparation for these events. So, after a few years kicking, screaming and denying the fact that I do not train during the month of December, I am now wise enough to admit that the end of November is the end of my training for the year but not necessary the accumulation of my training of the year. I find the revelation of acknowledging that Xterra is my last race for the year is great for my body because it allows me to rest from running and training. This month taken to rest just makes me more energized and motivated to start again in January when the 1st of the month starts.

The Xterra World Championship off-road trail running 21K is one of the hardest 13.1 mile races of my running career (a short one still)! Nov 24, 2013, was my second time against this monster trail and it was not easier than my first time, two year ago. The 21K consists of running around Ka'a'awa Valley twice before returning to the start/end. The trail started with a teaser hill where most runners were unaware of and sprint through only to find halfway, their legs and lungs not cooperating with their mental state originally to tackle the hill. I knew to pace myself this time. Perhaps a little too well because after the hill, I had too much energy. Voom! At the fork of the 5K route and the 10K route laid my final, final decision to continue with the 21K. Surprisingly, it does cross my mind each year to continue or to take the easy way out. But the 21K was what I signed up for so, I reminded myself to suck it up and that my training should have been adequate to get me through. After this next mile, runners get to a narrow trail, usually identifiable with a long line of other runners waiting to attack. This is probably the one part of the trail that I think can be improved upon. Perhaps widen the trail to allow enough room for two people? It delayed my time by a few minutes and not something I would like if I was trying to make PR.

Once runners got pass the narrow trail, the next obstacle came at mile 6. Along the route, on mile 6, runners approach another hill, this time, I would describe this as probably being 3x more massive than the first hill. This second hill sort of made the first hill seem a bit silly and even underrated. Assuming that you have not yet passed out from this hill, the next few miles are great. Nice greenery forest. Then you slowly approach your next nightmare, a hill even steeper than the hill at mile 6. Welcome mile 10. Here was when I saw most runners giving up the determination to attack and just walked it up. Sometimes, you just have to know when to buckle, I suppose.

After attacking this hill, I knew I was almost home, almost at the finish line. I slowly regained my energy and picked up my pace. Only two miles left! Another mile, and I could hear voices from the microphone at the finish line. With excitement, I cheered on every runner that I passed.

"WHOOO, almost there!"

Afterall, didn't we tackle three hills together?

The finish line within sight! Almost done, I told myself! Wait, teammates taking photos to the right?? That was the best surprise to my extensive adventure!

What I love most about running the Xterra?
  • Scenery, lush greens of Ka'a'awa Valley.
  • Tackling impossible hills, one after another.
  • Buckets and buckets of sweat equaling my preparation, hard work and determination.
  • The finish line and the medal that has so much sweat on it!

Note: This review of the Xterra was edited and published in the January 2014 issue of Hawaii Sport Magazine. Online copies can be found here: