Tuesday, February 22, 2011

GAR 2011

Monday February 21st was by my count, my 10th Great Aloha Run. A run/walk that goes from Aloha Tower to Aloha Stadium, it's in it's 27th year and this year attracted over 27,000 runners. I have been doing it on and off for the last 18 years, and am back on track with my second in a row. I like this event for several reasons.

First I enjoy these mass participation events for the single minded purpose of everyone doing the same thing, each to their ability or preference. It's like being part of a larger "whole", even though we all are doing an individual effort. These events also bring a ease & good nature to a large group that's intoxicating. The good vibes and endorphins can be felt by even the most casual person.

Another thing you can't help but see is the wide variety of people who do this event. You have everything from fine tuned athletes to couch potatoes and everything in between. You see some going for personal bests, you see some just cruising taking in the atmosphere. Some do it with ease. Some truly suffer. But everyone, even the ones suffering, seem to be enjoying it. I know some avid runners who swear they will never do it because of the mixed crowd, which causes them to run the race like an obstacle course, weaving in and out of the slower runners & walkers. I personally think with a few adjustments they could have a great time (line up closer to the front, cruise for the first half mile to break through the congestion and then light the fires).

I see this run in three segments of similar length. From Aloha Tower to Sand Island it's fairly crowded and people are maneuvering around a lot. The sun is not yet fully up so it is cooler. The next section is the Nimitz viaduct. Shade, a very off camber road, and lots of water stations. When you reach the end there's a flatbed trailer with several Taiko drummers to spur you on to the next section. Finally the last section, from the end of the viaduct to the playing surface of Aloha Stadium. To this point the route has been flat. The final section is best described as rolling. Not big steep hills, but big enough to remind you it's not flat. This is where the sun begins to sting, as it is now up and ready to finely steam you in your own sweat.

My experience this year was a mixed bag. I took in all the good vibes and was having a great go of it until the 5 mile mark where I could feel the string of a huge blister on the ball of my right foot. It got worse & worse and became quite painful by the end. I finished, collected the mixed bag of goodies (water, Pog "Energy Drink", sugar bomb pastries, & a banana), stood in line for my finisher t-shirt, and headed for the parking lot. I was sure of one thing, that if I stopped moving, my feet would hurt even more...perhaps too much. I got to my truck and plopped into my seat. That was perhaps the most satisfying "sit" I've felt in a long time. My feet continued to be problematic the rest of the day, but a couple Advil bombs and elevating my feet went a long way to making it tolerable. Still sore today, but nothing like yesterday. I envy those who felt so good after the run that they doubled back on the course to run back to the start (nut jobs).

The only gripe I had was the traffic in the morning. I made it to the Aiea exit area on the H1 at 4:45am. It took over an hour to get to the stadium parking lot a mere mile away. at 5:45 I even saw people jumping out of cars and running down the highway to the stadium and the buses that we are told will leave at 6am no exceptions. I made it to my parking space at 5:52am and hustled to the bus lines. BTW, the bus I was on left at 6:05am...pfffffft!!! Next year I'm telling the teen to catch a ride to school (he ran with his NJROTC unit) so I can get there earlier.