Normally, when preparing for a 62-mile foot race in the desert, one would run. A lot.
Agnes Largo had a different approach.
The Lihue woman ran one day a week getting ready for the longest race of her life, Javelina Jundred at McDowell Mountain Regional Park north of Fountain Hills, Arizona. That’s right. Just one, Saturdays.
The rest of the time?
Crossfit five days week, and Bikram yoga one day.
And she stays relaxed. She does not stress over mega mileage.
“I like to save my knees,” Largo said. “Save your knees, save your body.”
The 46-year-old completed the 100K race on Oct. 29 and 30 in 17 hours, 24 minutes, good for 69th out of 127 finishers. And just finishing was something, as about 50 runners who started failed to complete the three-loop, trail course.
“It was hot. It was really hot out there,” Largo said. “At least 100 degrees. It was dry heat.”
While it was tough, it didn’t stop Agnes from being back in class at Crossfit on Kauai just a few days later.
“There wasn’t any hardest point. I just wanted to keep on and just finish,” she said.
That she did, with the help of her husband, James, an Ironman who paced his wife through the third and final loop in the dark.
“I was afraid my light would burn out and it would be pitch black,” Agnes said.
But James kept the light on and led the way as he urged and called on his wife to stay strong. He wanted her to finish in under 20 hours, which she did, with hours to spare.
“The hardest for her was listening to me telling her to hurry up,” James said, laughing. “She was struggling, so I had to wait for her.”
James and Agnes have been married 25 years and have a son. They took up running in 2009 when the Kauai Marathon was born. Agnes ran the half marathon the first two years, and the marathon every year since. She has twice completed the American River 50 mile run in California and plans to compete there again next April. This weekend, she and James are headed to Las Vegas for a half marathon.
James has three half Ironmans to his credit, along with finishing Ironman Maryland, and runs strong.
They do some training together on Kauai, but it’s not a main topic of conversation at home. As for food, they try to keep it healthy. Agnes does the cooking and likes to serve chicken breasts and vegetables, but they aren’t fanatic about their diet.
“We gotta eat what we gotta eat,” James said.
When it comes to getting the work done, there was no shortcuts for this couple.
Agnes prepared wisely for the Javelina Jundred. No North Shore long runs, where it was likely to be rainy. She went to the Westside to prepare for Arizona’s heat. Her training runs included Hanapepe to Mana, from Kekaha to Mana, out to Polihale, and up Waimea Canyon toward Kokee State Park.
Come race day, though, “it was a different kind of hot.”
The first loop of Javelina took about five hours and she felt fine. The second, a little longer. The third, in the dark, over six hours, was perhaps the most challenging because it involved running in the dark, worrying about coyotes (which they heard) and rattle snakes and tarantulas (which they saw). So they slowed down to avoid any encounters with wildlife.
“I was more worried about that instead of the run,” Agnes said.
The four aid stations on the course helped see them through, but James said it was Agnes and her perseverance that deserve the credit.
“She has a strong mind,” James said. “Her strength is her mind, her determination.”
Agnes said she tries to keep a smooth, steady pace and rarely checks her watch.
“I just go out and have fun. I just go with the flow,” Agnes said. “I wear a watch on weekends because I have to make it in time for Bikram,” she added, laughing.
She credited Samantha Lockwood at Bikram Yoga in Kapaa for tuning and toning her 4-11, 100-pound body, and praised the Divas and Dudes for their encouragement. Her Crossfirt class in Lihue offers hard work and motivation.
“I appreciate all their help,” she said.
Asked if she bikes or swims, Agnes said, no — which is OK with James.
“I don’t want her to learn how to swim or bike because she would be spending all his money doing Ironmans going all over the place,” he said, smiling.
Agnes stands by her training regimen and plans to return to Javelina Jundred next year
“You need to Crossfit, and the hot yoga,” she said. “And one long run each week.”