The pre-race meeting was pretty straight to the point and stated the information needed. There was some quick introductions of some great runners and the do's and don'ts of the course. Dez and I then took a short look around at the starting bridge and just a few yards up the trail.
After getting the lay of the land and parking situation it was time to head back to the hotel and prepare last minute details for the morning.
Race Day: The alarm went off at 3:30am and I jumped out of bed and walked down to Denny's from some pancakes, coffee, and eggs as the last real food for 30+ hours. It was quite funny walking the couple of block in Waikiki to the Denny's simply because all the party goers were just coming from the bars and most were slammin' drunk. The Denny's was quite packed but I was able to get in and out without any problems. I was back at the hotel, dressed and ready to go by 4:50am. I have to admit that driving to the Nature Center start was nerve racking and I was a bit on edge as Dez drove. Finally we arrived and had about 30 mins to get the show on the road. I got my drop bags situated, lights, and my bottles and nutrition all ready to go. The RD stated 10 minutes till start time so lets all head over to the bridge. I said my finally thank yous, kissed Dez and off I went to get in line over the bridge. It was super dark and many headlamps were lighting up the area. The RD was on the far end of the bridge with a ipad that had a count down timer on it and just held it up as the time ticked away. There was a brief Hawaiian prayer said and then the count down. 4, 3, 2, 1... and the sound of the Hawaiian Hula Pu Conch shell blew.. we all started to head out on the trail. I was excited, I was happy to finally be out on this trail.
As we headed out on the trail lit up but the headlamps of all the runners pretty much everyone stated in groups until the first aid station and the sun came up. I wasn't to sure how fast to go so I just watched how fast we were going as a group and stated with them, besides it was pretty hard to pass for the first 2.5 miles because it was seriously dark, and seriously rocky and massive roots. I soon realized I was in a group of 5 runners with Monica Scholz, who just set the world record for the most 100 mile races in a year (25), and being as she knows how to do these races and HURT I decided to stay behind her for a while. This was good simply because she gave insights to the course as we ran but as I kept a watch on time/pace I was not comfortable with the slower pace but again it was Monica and I didn't want to go out too fast so I stayed put behind her. As the Sun started to break through and now I could see the trail and surrounding I was completely in Awe. Once reached the top of the 2.5 miles and started heading down we went through some serious awesome bamboo areas and muddy sections. I was a great time taking in all the sights and the course and taking mental notes.
The first section from the start/finish of the Nature Center, (Makiki) to Paradise aid station (Manoa) is 7.3 miles and course marked with white tape. Somewhere around the 5 mile mark our little group was descending on the trail and we were in a rock big boulder section. As we were all setting down and over some of these boulders I took my turn and stepped over one with my right leg leading. I realized that I had to step down a little farther than expected and in order to do that I had to twist my body sideways, almost in a splits fashion, to make the step. This all happened in a split second and just as soon as I turned sideways my left knee whacked into the boulder!! Bam!! I hit it good and quickly jumped over and up. I looked at my knee, rubbed it and said Shit!! that hurt. The runner behind me quickly asked if I was Okay. She said you hit hard are you sure you're okay? Yeah I said I'm good and continued to run. I actually knew it was one of those hits that is most likely going to come back and show it's teeth later on but for now I was okay. I could feel it throbbing and some pain but again I had just hit it so I expected it. As I made my way into Paradise aid I was quickly in and out, refuel all my water bottles because I was completely empty drinking them down the last 1/4 mile as I came in. I wanted to make sure I was staying hydrated as I was sweating pretty darn good but I did have my InknBurn shirt and then UnderArmor compression shirt on. As I made my way back out of Paradise, Monica was next to me and said nice quick transition that's the way to do it. The group all quickly reassembled and we started to make our way back up the long descent we just came down. This is a double back on the down side of the trail we just came on.
The climb back up and over to aid station Jackass Ginger (Nuuanu) 5.5 miles away and marked with green tape, was again a 2.5-ish mile climb up to and through the bamboo and roots area, which is now really nice and muddy from all the runners going through. Once there we take a right turn and head over and down to the aid station but along the way we get some some areas of the trail that are actually runnable and on this ledge that has great views to both sides of the mountain. The top of this ledge is really only about 5-6 ft wide and then drops on both sides so its pretty intense. As I start heading down the group coming up as pretty much spread out and I have caught up to a couple of other runners. We head down the last mile section of the trail and this part is seriously steep, steep enough on the way back up that you could almost reach out and touch the ground in front of you, it reminds me of the trail at Headlands course. There are also a couple of sections where there are ropes anchored to the rocks and you have to hold on to them to aid you in crossing the steep sections of the trail that are on the sides of the rocks, Crazy but fun! Then when you finally make it down through all that you have to cross the river where there is another rope tied across and you have to rock hop-balance to cross. Once in the aid station I have to stop and check my right foot as I have been noticing a hot spot and wanted to make sure its not going to be a problem. I take off my shoe/sock, muddy as all hell, slightly cramp my right hamstring while doing this and quickly tend to my foot. I used some BlisterShield, powder in the sock and put everything back on. It was great that the aid station workers helped me with my bag and refilled all my water bottles at this time. They also asked me if I needed anything else, which I quickly grabbed some snacks, succeed drink and off I went back across the rocks. I was hoping to see Dez here but I missed her simply because the aid station peeps didn't realize was in and out pretty fast when she asked where I was. Luckily, I had cell phone reception most of the course and I text her saying I was heading back to Nature Center.
Many thoughts go through your mind at times like these, I mean, I had came all the way from Vegas! I had been training, I spent a lot of money, etc. and to what, stop at 27 miles! Are you freakn' serious!!! I kept doing check in's with my knee and how I was feeling and realized I was not getting any better but only worse and slower. Now bending my knee past 30* was more painful but the good news was I was no longer Cramping! haha. As I made my way down into the aid station I realized I was not going to be able to continue like this. I made the decision about 1.5 out that I was going to stop. I text Dez and told her to be at Paradise. The last mile and half I took pictures, enjoyed the amazing trails and experienced a sense of disappointment in the fact that I got injured but what I will call a lack of guard on the trail. I have ran long enough to know that I shouldn't have twisted my body out of balance with the way my motion was moving thus resulting in me whacking my knee. As I said when it happened I knew it was the type of hit that could come back and get me and it did. The HURT course has no mercy and takes no prisoners! By the time I got to Paradise the aid station peeps were happy to see me and again were great in asking me what I needed but I quickly told them I was not going to continue on as I had hurt my knee earlier and it was becoming difficult to move. The Aid station captain came over to talk to me and make sure I really wanted to stop. He gave me some food and told me to take a few more minutes before he pulled me. I ate the food and moved around but I knew I was done. He came back to talk to me again and telling me his record with HURT, 0-5 with the last one 2 years ago and him dropping at mile 92! That's how unforgiving this course is.
He officially signed off on my bib number and I was officially out of the race at mile 27.3 in 10 hours 23 mins after the start which was a 1 mins 13 seconds off the minimum pace. As I said I was on the line as I knew that is not really off such early in the race but with a injured body part it makes it seem like a huge difference. I got my drop bags together and we returned to the hotel. By now my knee was swollen and just throbbing. A shower, food and sleep ended the day while checking in on the web cast.
The couple of days after my knee stayed swollen as well as my lower left leg and my right leg was sore freakn' sore! I guess from all the work it was doing. My pride was hurt and I felt depressed for a couple of days. I just felt lost in wondering what to feel. Should I have kept going? Did I do the right thing in stopping before I got any more injured? Overall, I did the right thing in stopping and not becoming more injured as the course just doesn't allow weakness and putting myself back out there I was increasing my chance of getting more injured. Yes I spent money, yes, I spent a lot of money but probably not as much as I have on Ironmans other than this being a destination event. I was happy to spend the week following in Maui and with Dez and just enjoying the experiences together as this is what life is really about, the HURT is just a piece of the pie.
I will be apply again for HURT2012 and I hope to go back because I have unfinished business there!