Upping the Distance – Val Nolasco 1/2 Marathon

Start time: 5:30 a.m.

Temperature at Start: 77℉.

First wave runners line up for 5:30 start

It must be a race in Hawaii, and the first race of any size since races closed down in March 2020 at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. The field was limited to 500 runners. All were required to show proof of immunization in order to pick up race packets. Social distancing was encouraged and with the smaller than usual field of runners a comfortable distance on the wide course was easy.

Then the rest of us mid-to-back of packers

What wasn’t easy was running in the heat. Thank goodness for the early start. The first mile or two the fresh tradewinds (or “the trades” as they are called here) blowing across my face felt great. Even running into the wind was refreshing.

I had a goal pace in mind (so far off it is embarrassing to mention) that by mile 4, I knew was out of the question. Around mile 6 and 7, daylight was breaking. I braced myself for the full-fledged sun shining down, but mercifully there was sufficient cloud cover to keep it tolerable.

Around the turnaround just short of the 7-mile mark, I could feel that I had lost core and upper body strength. My legs were doing all the work. I have slacked off on body fitness the last month or so and it was evident.

Mile 11 up Diamond Head Road was a slugfest. It is always a mental pickup at the crest of this hill to quickly glance over the cliff at the early morning surfers.

Mile 13 was a lovely downhill, then a flat couple of blocks to the welcome finish sign. Time: 2:36:27. Pace 10:35.

I’ve run other races while visiting Hawaii, but never the Val Nolasco 1/2. It is a well-run race with a strong history. No big frills, just a great scenic course, plenty of water on the course and at the finish, a banana and a packet of Teddy Grahams shared with my always ravenous grandson.

Even the age-group awards were low-key but a welcome change from the traditional medal, a micro towel useful for a quick cleanup after a workout.

The location of the race was convenient for me, just a couple of miles from where I am staying. Had it not been deep night when I left for the race, I would have run it as a warmup. As it was, family slept in and I took an Uber for the short ride. Another plus this year is the designation of the race as one of the RRCA Championship Race Series.

Post race, I began walking up Montsarrat Avenue planning to meet my husband a couple blocks from the race and beach congestion. I popped into the Diamond Head Market and Grill to pick up a cold drink. Upon entering I was admonished for not wearing a mask. I quickly pulled my mask from my shorts pocket. Chock this oversight up to post-race brain. I got my drink, but was eyeing the gorgeous bakery items they make here. Oh, my. I will be back for those another day.

Rendez-vous with husband in the parking lot, home for a nap, then some great family time.

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