Saturday morning of race weekend started off calmly enough. After a brief run for Jason and Erica, we drove the back half of the marathon course and grabbed some breakfast at Ken's House of Pancakes. We filled up on pancakes because we figured we might not get a chance to eat lunch. It's a good thing we did, because about the only thing I managed to eat between breakfast and dinner was some pretzels around 5 p.m.
The doors to the expo opened up for set-up at 11 a.m. and the expo was supposed to begin at noon. Unfortunately, the hotel front desk started telling people the expo started at 11, so people started coming through pretty early. We only had a little over an hour to set everything up and it was quite an undertaking. Jason took care of the computer and cash register, I tried to set up shoes, Jason's dad brought loads and loads in from the van, while his sister and mom set up the apparel and everything else that we brought.
Even with all the help, we still didn't have everything set up by noon. And little did we know that everyone would decide to come to the expo between noon and one and our booth was right next to the door where everyone stopped first.
So the first hour of the expo is a complete blur in my mind. We were still throwing things on the table for people to buy; the credit card processing wasn't working, so Jason's dad and I started taking cash and trying to keep track of what people bought; Erica tried to help people with shoes. It was completely chaotic. But thankfully everyone was very patient with us - people are always in such an understanding mood in Hawaii! :)
After the first hour, things slowed down a little bit and we had some time to catch our breath, but we were still busy all throughout the day. People seemed to really like the "Run Big" and Big Island Running Company shirts and hats.
Others needed to stock up on their nutritional products or get a FuelBelt for the race. We started packing up a little before six and were able to have the van completely packed by 6:55. By then we were all exhausted (and stinky) and ready to put our feet up for awhile before grabbing another pre-race pasta dinner.
Overall, the expo was a great experience. We learned a lot and hopefully will be a little more efficient if we get the chance to do it again next year.
Race morning started nice and early. Since the course started outside of town, we had to leave around 5:15 a.m. to drive to the start. Jason's parents dropped us off and snapped some pictures of the starting area, before beginning their ride around the course.
As you can see, the race started in the dark, so those glimmers of light in the last photo are all the reflective gear on the runners! The sun started coming up shortly after the start, so we didn't have to run too long in the dark. And after all our worries about the weather, the morning was perfect for running! A little overcast, cool and no rain early in the day, although there were some showers about two hours into the race.
As I mentioned yesterday, the first 8 miles were beautiful and hilly. Since I was running just a *tad* bit slower than Jason, I didn't get to see much of his race, so anything I can include here I heard from others. Apparently eventual marathon winner Billy Barnett got off to a really fast start during those hilly miles. Jason tried to stay controlled on the hills and save up some energy for the flat portions through Hilo, so he didn't see Billy for a long time. But he did run a good portion of the race with third-place finisher Andrew Taylor.
Cemetery around mile 8
I was quite a bit further back running my own race and trying to enjoy the scenery, which is a lot harder than it sounds. At one point I noticed that the guy in front of me had turned his head towards the ocean and I had to remind myself to look around then, too. As far as my time, I realized that the first portion of the course would be very inconsistent as far as times went. And it was true - my splits in those miles ranged from 7:20 to 9:00. But once we got out of the major hilly sections, I was able to hold onto a pretty consistent pace. I think this was where all my training really paid off. This was the first time I've run a half marathon where my times didn't completely die towards the end.
The course crosses past the finish line around mile 11 and then heads out on Banyan Drive for a loop before heading back to the finish again. The picture above was taken on my first pass through the finish area. I'm glad I knew about the last loop because it would take quite a toll on you if you weren't expecting it! Even knowing about it, the last half mile stretched on forever. As I was heading into the finish, I knew that I was a bit slower than I was hoping for, but also still in a good PR range, so I wasn't paying too much attention to my actual time. However, as I got closer, I saw that the clock was rapidly approaching 1:46 and a sprint just might get me under it. Unfortunately I made that decision about 2 seconds too late and ended up finishing at 1:46:01 - a little frustrating, but still a PR by almost two minutes. In the end I was very happy with my performance.
Then it was time to wait for Jason to come through the finish. Jason's parents were there at the finish line when I crossed, but then Jason's dad and Erica headed back out on the course to watch the end of his race. Unfortunately they took off before I could really talk to them, so I had no good idea of how his race was shaking out. At one point, Billy was about 4 minutes up on Jason, but eventually began slowing down. Jason stayed strong through about mile 20, including holding off a surge by Andrew Taylor, but said the pounding on his legs from the early hills began to take its toll. His last few miles were also a little slower than the early miles, but he was still gaining on Billy.
I camped out about 1/2 mile from the finish, not knowing who was going to be first one coming through. Some of the half marathoners were still finishing, so I had to keep my eyes peeled for someone passing those runners. Eventually I saw Billy coming over the hill by the Suisan bridge. Jason followed a little way behind him. I hurried back to the finish line and saw Billy cross in 2:50:20. Jason had made up some time and came in at 2:51:29, still looking pretty good:
Jason and Billy talking to Randee Joseph
Jason and Erica post-race
After Jason got some fluids and finished an interview with the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, it was time for the half marathon awards ceremony. I finished second in my age group and got to go up on the podium!
After the half marathon awards, we all got showers and headed to Ken's House of Pancakes (again) before the marathon awards. After a delicious breakfast, we headed back to the finish area to watch some of the later finishers come in. We got some great pictures of Jason's mom with Team B*tch (or the men in pink skirts) and of Marie Kuramoto finishing with her grandchildren.
In the women's race, Reka Batai of Hungary finished in first place in a time of 2:53:13, breaking the old course record. Yoko Yamazawa of Japan finished second with a time of 3:18:01 and Akemi Ueda of Honolulu was third in 3:23:06.
And for the men, Billy Barnett was first in 2:50:20, Jason second at 2:51:29 and Andrew Taylor of Honolulu was third in 2:52:49. Full results from all races are available here.
All in all, it was a fantastic race. The crowd support and volunteers were amazing. All of the activities ran smoothly and everyone had a great time. Mahalo again to Wayne Joseph, the Braswells, and all the volunteers who made this such a wonderful race!