The first two days were spent wandering the island and catching up with friends. When we landed, Shiho picked us up from the airport, and we were welcomed with fresh leis. We were ushered to her apartment where she and Ronnie had set up a delicious backyard BBQ. (The backyard was more like a Japanese garden complete with pond, temple-like structures and wandering wildlife!) The twelve hour flight made us hungry, so we really appreciated the home cooked dinner of burgers and Hawaiian punch. I was also very happy to see Daniel, whom I have not seen since forever. (By the end of the night, I was delirious because I was up for a total of 24+ hours with only a 2 hour nap during the second leg of the flight.) After dinner, we all took a joy ride to drop Daniel off at his military hotel.
The next day, the only "must do" on my list was bib pick up. So Shiho, Ronnie, Chris and I went to the expo, but not before we were able to get a dozen fresh, hot malasadas for breakfast! The expo was super fun! Probably one of the most enjoyable ones because the exhibitors were really enthusiastic. (I swear it's like a Japanese thing, but it made sense because it was sponsored by JAL.) We all took photos with the mascots, and received free prints. There were place to write signs, and the three non-runners wrote funny messages to me and the booth vendors took photos.
After all that, we headed to the mall where Chris and I were to do a little last minute search of clothing to wear for our scheduled photo shoot. (I booked a shoot for the day since we were also celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary.) Shiho drove us to our shoot, and waited for us, something which we were really thankful for, and then we met up with Daniel and caught the Friday night fireworks at the beach. Afterwards we had dinner, and called it a night.
The day before the marathon, we went on an early morning hike at the Makapu'u Summit. It was a very short two mile hike, and we caught a beautiful sunrise since it was out on the east side of the island. (Actually, all the sunrises and sunsets were indescribably beautiful.) The views were just incredible! After the hike, we headed back to the apartment and enjoyed a few laps in the pool. Shiho, knowing I was thinking of spam musubi, actually made us a spam musubi lunch poolside. (If you ever go to Oahu, there are several things that you must eat, and this is one of them! And of course, malasadas! And shaved ice... and loco moco... and kailua pig... omg just eat all the things! Seriously!)
Views on the Trail to Makapu'u Summit
During lunch, I finally connected with my airbnb host, who gave me the access code to the condo we would be staying in during the next few days. By that time, it was already late afternoon, so we decided on dinner. Daniel made a valiant effort to find us an Italian joint to help me with carbo loading, but alas, everyone had the same idea, (we're talking 3 hour wait!) so we ended up in Chinatown, which was a delicious, and more time-sensible alternative. Right before dinner, we drove up to the Punchbowl Cemetery, which had some more amazing views of the island.
After dinner, Shiho drove us to our condo, and we hugged and parted ways for the weekend. I immediately unpacked and spread out my gear, set up breakfast, and set my three alarms for a 3am wake up call. Bedtime was 10am, but with all the excitement I really didn't get a good night's sleep. (I mean, come on, I'm in Honolulu!)
The alarm came fast, I got up, downed a couple of King's Hawaiian rolls with some amazing coconut peanut butter that Shiho gave me. (So sad they confiscated my stash at the airport! Apparently peanut butter counts as cream!...) Downed a cup of coffee on the balcony where I could see tiny specks of runners heading towards the Zoo where the shuttles were. At 3:20, I grabbed a banana, and headed out the door. Once I walked out the elevator, I just headed east and followed the steady stream of runners. Found the shortest possible line and queued up for the ten minute bus ride to the start. I could have walked it, but the fact that I already hiked and swam the day before, adding an additional two miles may have been pushing it.
When I arrived to the start, I started looking for FB folks who said they were running. Some of the 50 staters members said they were going to meet up in a certain area, so I waited for them figuring I could introduce myself to folks I sorta talked to during the past several months. But long story short, the meet up was awkward as hell. The person that set up the meet up neglected to mention that the folks he was referring to were Marathon Maniacs even though he posted in the 50 states group, and since I wasn't a member, I just slowly moved along as they all gathered for a group pic. (I tried to strike up a convo with someone else since the main guy who set up the meet up pretty much just blew me off.) After shaking that weird encounter off, I found my way to the porta potties. When I got on line, I saw that they separated the men and women stalls. At first I thought that would suck, but there were 3x as many stalls for women than there were for men. I'm telling you it was a game changer!
Finally, it was go time. Someone sang the national anthem, then I guess it was the Japanese anthem. Did I mention there were a LOT of Japanese people who flew in to run this thing? And I'm talking ALL ages. Kids, seniors with walking canes and wheel chairs, you name it they were there! Then at 5am the horns blasted, and the fireworks started, and off we went! Let me tell you, running under fireworks gets your heart racing!
The first several miles were in town. It felt really warm and muggy, and I did my best to move along. Starting temps were at 72º. It went through Ala Moana (shopping district), and the Downtown Honolulu area, and there was this stretch that had a lot of Christmas decorations. Then the route made a U turn and we headed back east, along the main stretch towards Waikiki. I was half hoping to see Chris there, but heck it was crazy early. I don't even think he tracked me this time around. Finally around mile 6 we were back at the zoo and headed towards Diamond Head where the first major uphill came near the volcano crater. For some reason, I started to develop a blister as well, and decided against checking it out until later on if it got too bad. Anyway, the steady rise was met with a lot of slow runners. With the course taking up only one side of the highway, there was really no point in trying to run since everyone around me just walked. I looked at the people next to me and I was literally walking as fast as they were trying to run uphill. So, I took in the pre-dawn beauty of the crater, the beautiful clear sky with twinkling planets afar, and the gorgeous coastline and rocky shore. (I'm telling you, I had several moments where I saw so much beauty I wanted to cry.) Earlier before the uphill, I stopped for vaseline when I started to feel the blister, but since I decided not to check it out, smeared it on my leg in hopes of using it later. Bad idea. The entire thing melted and left a greasy river of vaseline juice down my leg. Then I guess because of how slippery everything was, I ended up dropping my phone. Some runner dude came up beside me and asked me if I had dropped it. I didn't even notice! Totally owed him everything because my phone was like, my only connection to anything! (Thank you, fellow runner dude!)
Around mile 10, the route opens up again to a lot of the suburban parts of the area. Lots of beautiful homes on steep mountains. I saw my first glimpse of the eastern sunrise, and even on the road, it was just breathtaking. Stopped several times to snap some sunrise photos. After another couple of miles, I realize that it was getting warm. Like, really warm. At this point, I knew it was just a matter of time before things get crazy. I hadn't run in this type of weather since August. I also didn't put on sunscreen, figuring I would be done before noon. That decision would come back to burn me. Literally.
Unintended mantra on the left that was repeated in my head:
East Halemaumau, where the f*cks the turnaround?
East Halemaumau, where the f*cks the turnaround?
Around mile 15 the sun was fairly high in the sky, and it started getting HOT. By the time I reached the inland waterway (where I stopped and waited for the photo station person for a beautiful inland waterway photo), I knew I was in trouble. I was getting that familiar feeling of not wanting anything in my stomach, and started getting a cup of gatorade to drink at every stop, as well as one cup of water to throw down my back and neck. I felt myself overheat, and I did what I could to stop it. The water sponges were not enough. I thought there would be more water sprinklers, but apparently there were only people who lived along the route who would turn on their hoses for relief. The stretch from mile 18-24 really provided almost no relief whatsoever as it was mainly highway. There were a few areas where people had open bags of ice. I grabbed a few and stuffed it down my shirt. (At this point there was no shame in my game.) I recall passing a lot of folks sitting on the side walking as close to the walls as possible to cover themselves from the sun. Some lady must have fainted and face planted, and may have knocked some of her teeth out. She was being helped by some volunteers off the course, but not before leaving a bloody, gutted mess to run around. There were a few people in tents lying down on stretchers downed by the heat. I felt my left shoulder and ear burning, but couldn't do much but just continue. And as much as I wanted to run this portion of the course, my self-preservation mode kicked in. I felt my head and neck overheat, so I just walked as fast as I could, and slowed at the aid stations to cool down. I knew it was tough when I saw people running 3-4 hour paces were stopping and walking.
I fought thoughts of running straight into the ocean.
Finally, the familiar surroundings of Diamond Head came back into view. I sped up as much as my blister would allow and painfully wound my way back down the side of the crater, and half walked half shuffled my way to the finish. There was a water cool down station set up after the finish, and I cooled down and got my medal. Then hobbled over to get my malasada and finisher's shirt. Once I found a cool spot under a tree, I took my socks off and found a gigantic bloody blister under my left arch. (Lovely, I know. But I was actually kinda proud it didn't burst!) Texted Chris and told him to bring some towels and come collect me. After we met up, we headed directly over to this little beach nearby called Kaimana Beach where I took a ten minute dip in the ocean to cool down. That was probably the best post race soak ever!
An actual race pic that I don't hate.
Will run for donuts! (Malasadas, in this case!)
Beats an ice bath any day!
All in all, it was a pretty but tough course. It was my third slowest marathon on record, the first time in years that I clocked over the six hour mark. But that doesn't even matter because it's not like I was here to prove anything. I reached my goal of completing my 8th full, 6th state, and did it while enjoying the view. I mean, what a way to see the island! Can't beat that!