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Hot, Humid & Headwinds in Honolulu

Although my alarm was set for 2:00am on race day, I woke up at 1:47am. It’s like my body knew to get up and get going before the obnoxious alarm woke me from my slumber. All marathoners know the feeling when you first wake up (in complete panic mode) on race day. You immediately think, “Did I miss the start of the race?!?” You jolt out of bed as if you just heard a fire alarm and your heart starts beating like crazy. (I swear my heart rate goes from 45 bpm to 75 bpm in those few short seconds. I will need to confirm this with my FitBit data.) Your body is like, “OK people, it’s Showtime! Today is the day I am going the distance. 26.2 freaking miles!” Then you feel this intense need to hurry up, get ready and get out the door because you can’t be late! As I’m bopping around the hotel room getting ready, my sister was snoring and fast asleep. She told me not to worry about waking her up as she can sleep through anything. Yes, she was right!

I left our room around 2:50am and walked to the Honolulu Zoo (0.6 miles east of our hotel) to then take a bus to the start line. I could have walked about 2 miles west straight to the start line, but I was trying to conserve energy if I could. It was funny to me because most runners were walking the long way to the start line. I kind of felt like an odd ball but I knew that was the wiser move to make. It was already 73 degrees at 3am. There was a warm wind blowing but I felt fine only wearing a tank top. I put my throwaway shirt on while waiting in line for the bus because the breeze picked up quite a bit. Once I got on the bus, I sat with a young woman from Japan. This was her 3rd marathon and she seemed stunned when I told her this was my 19th marathon. I do kind of feel like an old pro. I just go out and do it. I have my routine and my body knows exactly what to do each time and it is always equally exciting and I am never worried about not being able to finish a race. Once we arrived at the start line, I enjoyed the craziness. It was only 3:30am and the place was hopping. I love all these other crazy marathoners like me. I’m with my kind, so how can you NOT love it? I went to the port-a-potty while the lines were not busy and continued eating my snacks up until race time. I wanted to make sure fuel-wise, my gas tank was topped off and ready to go. We had to cross the man-made canal to get to Ala Moana Boulevard so there were no bathrooms on that side of the canal (so I had to wait until I was in the race to go again!) and apparently nowhere to throw away trash either. I kind of felt bad just tossing my throwaway shirt near a tree, but I was left with no choice. The bridge was so packed that I couldn’t get back to the other side if I wanted to and I wanted to make sure I was at the front of the Blue Corral. I wanted to minimize the amount of people ahead of me. Before the race, fireworks went off and it was great and then we started running with the masses!

It’s funny, I love and hate big races. I loved knowing that I was part of such a huge race, with all these other crazy marathoners but the downside is that you never run a fast race when you are running with such a big crowd. I spent the first 3-4 miles just weaving in and out of people. This race reminded me SO MUCH of the Disney Marathon because of that. It was dark, warm and lots of slow runners ahead of me. It was very frustrating. I knew that I shouldn’t waste energy weaving around people but I had no choice. I knew that when I reached the first water stop and I felt like I could drink a gallon of Gatorade, that this race was going to be a B! Just before mile 2, my left foot fell into a pothole and I turned my ankle sideways. It hurt for a bit – as a quick sharp pain – but I knew I was not going to quit. I have done this before in other marathons and you deal with it. I could still run, so that I did! I couldn’t even see the numbers on my watch it was so damn dark! And because I was weaving around slower runners, I was just feeling pissed and telling myself to keep running and not care about the time. I knew Honolulu was not going to be a fast race for me. It was virtually impossible by the sheer number of people running. I also knew that at the first water stop when I desperately wanted to chug all of the Gatorade, that it was going to be a thirsty day! It was very warm, a touch humid and although some gusty winds, at least the gusty winds promptly dried the sweat off of me. Since I hadn’t emptied my bladder just prior to the start of the race (as I normally like to do), I knew that I had to go again and soon, but I don’t like to wait in line. Around mile 5 or so, I saw a guy run off to the side to what appeared to be a bathroom area, so I decided to see for myself and jackpot, the women’s room was on the other side. A real bathroom!!! It was a quick in and out of there and I felt better and could focus again. I didn’t really know what my splits were. I think I crossed the 10K mark at exactly one hour and that’s a crappy time for me, but I know that was the clock time, not my chip time. After the race, I figured out my chip time was 3 minutes less than the clock time. So that’s a 57 minute 10K. Not my best, but again, it’s a HUGE race and I already had an early pit stop! As we ran through the course, I could see where the 10K finish was (for the 10K runners who started at the same time as the marathoners) and then noticed where the marathon finish was … for later! It was still very dark until about 6:45am, but I was glad for that as I knew the sun would be difficult to bear. The trek around Diamondhead was hilly and beautiful and you could see the ocean on the right with the sky brightening. It was gorgeous. I would have taken a picture but there was really no opportunity to do so. Throughout the race, I was just doing all of the things I normally do (intake of energy gels, electrolyte salt, Gatorade) and trying to stay as hydrated as possible. This was the hottest temperature race I had ever done. I finished the Rock N’ Roll New Orleans race with the temperature at 75 degrees and sunny but Honolulu ended at 79 degrees and sunny. Eventually, I no longer had to weave around runners and run on my own, but I was feeling like the heat was an extra weight and burden on me. I literally felt like I was running with a weighted vest and it was holding me back and making it more difficult overall. It was such a stark contrast from the Niagara Falls Marathon where I was breathing in cool, crisp 45 degree air and I felt strong and light on my feet and as if I could run forever. Honolulu was tougher, more labored and the air was warm, heavy and not refreshing to my lungs. The sun rose at 7am and it was a little while after that when the rays of the sun had a direct impact on the race. I estimate I was at mile 15 at that time when I ran into the path of the rising sun and I was wishing I was further ahead in the race. We ran through some neighborhoods and waved to the nice Hawaiian people cheering the runners on. Since I knew this wasn’t going to be my best race, I decided to have fun with it and even did a Facebook Live post (LOL, I told my family I would try it) at mile 17 and then I texted them on-the-go at mile 21. Once we turned around at mile 16-17, the ocean was now on our left and it was beautiful. Some of the great things about the race was the water was ice cold and during the second half of the race, they gave out sponges to cool the runners off. There were even a few hoses spraying water on those who wanted it! They also gave out GU quite frequently. Only 1 time did I have to use my own and it just seemed very handy to have them handing it to you instead of trying to unzip your pouch and take one out without dropping the rest of them. I stopped for a quick bathroom break again at mile 21 because I felt like I had to drink a lot more to finish the race. I was no longer caring about my time. I already blew that in the first 5K! I was so thirsty during the race, I could have chugged multiple Gatorades at every stop. The race was a total grind that way. It was hard to run in the heat as I was used to running in 20-30 degree temperatures at home. As the race progressed, I was desperate for shade whenever I could find it and was just trying to keep the faith and finish the race. With 2 miles left, I knew I would finish but in a way, it couldn’t come soon enough. I felt drained. With one mile left, I tried to pick up the pace and give it all that I had. I videotaped running to the finish line for my family since they were not there with me in Hawaii and I crossed the finish line at 4:20.1 but my actual race time was 4:17 on my watch. It wasn’t the worst marathon time ever and considering the heat and I actually think it is pretty good that I was able to maintain under a 10 minute per mile pace overall. Mostly, I am happy another race is done. I did enjoy it – as much as it was a complete grind – but every marathon is different. That’s why I absolutely love all of them and I never want to run the same one twice. They are all equally challenging in different ways. The weather and course has such a huge impact on how you run and it’s how you overcome the adversity that determines your success (and sometimes success simply means finishing it!). Some races too, you need to lower your expectations for and that’s ok. To even be able to successfully finish a marathon, no matter what your time is, is an incredible achievement to be celebrated. Hawaii DONE!!! No major injuries after this one. Sore like usual for a few days. A few toes on my left foot hurt the most. Amazingly, no blisters which really surprised me. After visiting Oahu and Honolulu (which was my 2nd visit), we flew over to the Kona side on the Big Island and explored that island. The Big Island is beautiful and and reminds me of Maui with the addition of the volcanic rock. Originally, I was debating running the Kona Marathon but that is in June and it is much hotter then and I did not want to risk missing my son's graduation (because I wasn't quite sure of the dates yet). Now, I am onto the next race (in a few months) and I can't wait! I will run a few local races and hope to get a PR next week in a 1 mile race. My previous best was 6:24 in 2015 (I believe) and I want to crush that. It will be a warmer 45 degrees on race day and I would love to break 6:15 if I can. I would love it even more if I ran it under 6 minutes. Has marathon training made me a better sprinter and short distance runner? I definitely think so. I want to take all of that power that I use for 26.2 miles and explode with speed for 1 mile.

POST RACE: Well, that mile wasn't so great for me. It was a mere 6:35 pace. I am not sure why I couldn't run it faster. LOL, maybe because I ran a full marathon only 3 weeks and 2 days ago? I am so happy for Stephanie who ran it in 6:03 and Pat ran it in a blazing 5:42!! :)

In 2019, I'm hoping to run the Four Corners Quad. I have already run a marathon in Arizona so I think I will attempt to run 3 marathons in 3 consecutive days (Utah, Colorado, New Mexico). I believe it can be done if you don't race them. I sure want to try it as it would be an awesome physical and mental challenge that I want to achieve. It brings me deep satisfaction to know that I am physically and mentally stronger than I have ever been in my life. Who says you get older and fall apart?! No way. Not me. Not ever. I will do this as long as my body holds up and when I can no longer run marathons, I will walk them. Once I complete the 50 states for marathons, I might then tackle half marathons in all 50 states. I actually think I would be a better half-marathoner and love that race, but I run the marathon because it's longer and harder. #livefullyandpassionately

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