Monday, March 18, 2019

Marta Mixa on Revel Kulia: Most Beautiful, Most Challening

The most beautiful marathon course I've ever run was also my most challenging.

March 9, 2019 was a cold, but gorgeous morning for a race in Hawaii.

I was excited and a little nervous as usual.

The day before I prepared with a breakfast of champions; a stack of pancakes and a vegetable omelet.

My coach Leanne Rosser and my family and friends and I drove the race course.  

It was absolutely beautiful.

Leanne Rosser, Marta and Gabby Brockett display the post-race swag a day after the race.
(Photo courtesy of Jack Mixa)
We were aware of a stretch of about five miles of hills, so that was not a surprise for us.

As usual, we took pictures of the course.

The night of the race I had done my typical preparation, which included laying out my running outfit and gear.

I went to bed excited with anticipation, but ready to take the challenge that would face me the next day.

Ten days before the race, though, I had the flu.

On February 28th, I went to the doctor right after school and had a temperature of 104.

When I got home, I went straight to bed. 

Needless to say, I missed work the next day and I skipped running my last long run, which was going to be a half-marathon race in The Woodlands.

I was upset that this had happened so close to my "A" race.

I rested all weekend and was ready to go to work for the following week.

On Wednesday before our flight to Hawaii, I was still not feeling one hundred percent; yet, I felt confident that I would be better by race day.

In the meantime, I was weighing six pounds under my ideal weight. “No problem,” I said to myself, “I will put them back in a couple of days.”

At 4:30 a.m. race day, the buses were ready to take the runners to the start about 30 miles from where we were staying.

I ate my pita with peanut butter on the bus and had my hydration drink. Leanne and I took a selfie, and we chit-chatted during the ride.

It was cold as we got off the bus. We wrapped ourselves in a thermal blanket.

A native Hawaiian gave a blessing on the race by singing a beautiful song followed by the Star-Spangled Banner.

The runners were starting to line up by the starting line.

Leanne and I desperately looked for the 4:20 pacer whom we had met the day before at the Expo.

We found him, and he told Leanne he would take care of me.

She gave me a hug and said, “You know what you need to do!”  I nodded affirmatively. 

The race began and I settled at a nice comfortable pace with my new-found friend, Tom.

He kept me from not going too fast.  When we encountered hills he would say,” slow down, relax…”
We went for 11 solid miles between 9:00 to 9:15 pace.

Who knew Layton Gill made the trip to Hawai'i with us? :-)
(Photo courtesy of Run Revel)
A group of runners joined us who were aiming for the same time as me.

I could hear their conversations and laughter through my music that I listen to when I race.

At around mile 12 I felt some wheezing in my chest, and my heart began to beat harder than usual for a race.

My breathing became shallow even after using my inhaler.

I slowed down the pace.

I knew my pacer needed to keep going, so with reluctance, I fell back from his sight.

At the half point, 13.1 miles, I made the decision to get medical help.

I thought maybe they would check me over, and in a few minutes, I would be back on the course.

I was wrong about the time. They kept me in the ambulance for 45 minutes until a doctor could arrive and check me over.

My vitals were cleared, and I begged them to let me get back in the race.

I signed a consent form and off I went back on the course. I was excited to be running again.

By the time I got to mile 20, the winds were too much for my small frame.

At times it would push me onto the left side of the far shoulder almost into the bushes along the edge of the road.

My quads began to feel the effects of the downhill pounding.

There were some more unexpected hills, which I had to walk/jog at times.

Marta was clearly happy to be running again in the last quarter part of the course.
(Photo courtesy of Run Revel)
By now, I was no longer on my target pace, and I just wanted to finish the race standing up.

I cried and asked my Creator to give me the strength to finish what I had started.

I passed a few runners, and at mile 23 I had a burst of energy that lasted for about two miles.

My last 1.2 mile was a struggle until I saw the finish arch.

My legs took off, and I had the energy to give one last kick and cross the line. I managed to smile as they put the lei and medal on my neck.

Marta was happy to be done!
(Photo courtesy of Run Revel)
Then the most significant thing happened, I saw my husband in the distance, and we met, and I cried on his shoulder for what seemed like a minute before he and Leanne’s husband, Jim, assisted me to the vehicle and drove us back to the resort.

Post-race laurels.
(Photo courtesy of Jack Mixa)
Wow!  I just finished the toughest race of my life!