Friday, December 16, 2011

Honolulu Marathon Recap

Last weekend was the Honolulu Marathon, the largest road race in Hawaii, with over 20,000 runners. Jason ran it last year, but I just spectated and provided support.  This year, however, we were both running in it, and it was going to (finally!) be my first marathon.
Massive start (Photo by Penn Henderson)
 We flew over to Honolulu on Friday evening and checked into our hotel to get a good night's sleep.  We were up early the next morning and headed over to the expo when it opened.  We ran into some other Big Island runners, but overall got through the expo pretty quickly, since they didn't have a whole lot of vendors.  From there we took the trolley to Kapiolani Park to check clothes for after the race the next day.  That turned out to be a lifesaver, since Jason had to wait around at the finish for me to cross and then I knew I was going to be soaking wet and likely freezing once I stopped.

After a long walk back to the hotel, we basically did nothing the rest of the day.  Plenty of resting for us! We watched the Ironman 2011 on TV and saw lots of our Big Island friends featured in the coverage. And we also watched every single weather forecast between Friday night and Saturday night. Predictions were for rain, rain and more rain, with some wind mixed in.  We were definitely worried, especially when it started downpouring in the middle of our dinner. 

I think the rain continued pretty much all night, but by the time we headed to the start line, it had cleared up.  And it didn't rain at all while we were still running, although I think it did rain on some of the later finishers. Jason ditched us at the start line to head up behind the elites, while Chitwin San Tun and I stayed at the start of the 3-4 hour corral.  But, as everyone had warned us, that didn't mean much since our first mile was definitely above 10 minute/mile pace. 

Obviously since we were running we didn't get to take any pictures, but Penn Henderson took some great shots that he passed along to us. 
Wheelchair Start (Photo by Penn Henderson)
Fireworks at start (Photo by Penn Henderson)

Leaders near the start (Photo by Penn Henderson)
Everything settled down after the first few miles but I still never ended up hitting the pace that I expected.  But for my first marathon, that was ok, since I had no idea what to expect in the later miles of the race.  And for a lot of the race, we were running into a pretty serious headwind. 

Around mile 13, I saw the leaders heading back into Waikiki.
Leaders (Photo by Penn Henderson)

Women's leaders (Photo by Penn Henderson)
A little while after that I saw Jason.  He was looking strong and focused. Behind him I saw some other Big Islanders - Sal Salmi, Alan Ryan, and Rani Tanimoto - everyone was looking good.

Jason on the course (Photo by Penn Henderson)

He looks like someone's chasing him! (Photo by Hawaii Sport Mag)
Sal, always smiling (Photo by Penn Henderson)
Lyman Perry (Photo by Penn Henderson)

As I found out when I crossed the finish line, Jason was the first Big Island finisher with his time of 2:53:28.  Sal wasn't too far behind him, winning his entire age group!  Rani was the first Big Island woman finisher, as well.

After seeing everyone come back the other way, it was my turn to head back into town.  At this point I was definitely getting tired of running.  My pace slowed in the later miles of the race, but I never felt truly awful. But I was wondering why I had wanted to do this for so long, and then I was consoling myself that I never had to do another one.  Right after getting to the top of Diamond Head on the way back in, I looked over and saw Chitwin again, who I had gotten separated from in the first couple of miles of the race.  He pushed me to really move on the downhill, since we knew a sub-4 hour finish was in sight.  I managed to keep pretty good pace to the finish and crossed the line in just under 4 hours on the clock and at 3:58:19 according to my chip.

Marathon finisher! (Photo by Honolulu Marathon)
But the craziest thing happened when I crossed the finish line. There was a guy there who was waiting for me. Luckily he had a big smile on his face, otherwise I would have thought something terrible had happened.  On Saturday, Jason and I had entered a contest on Facebook to guess the winning time of the men's marathon.  The winner would get a lifetime of free entries to the Honolulu Marathon and the new Honolulu Half Marathon.  Jason and I both put in guesses, but actually thought our times were too fast with the predicted rainy weather.  But it never rained and I got lucky! The winner crossed in 2:14:55, one second faster than my guess of 2:14:56.  They took me away from the finish chute over to a special VIP area where they took my information and asked some questions.  Later that day I was the top story on the Honolulu Marathon website!  It also made the Honolulu Advertiser the next day and some Honolulu radio stations! The photo above is one they took just after I finished. Looks like I'll be doing the Honolulu Marathon again next year!

Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to hang out long in the VIP area, since I had to meet up with Jason and I didn't want him to think I had a medical emergency.  But I found him at our designated meeting spot and we walked to get my finisher's shirt and, of course, a malasada for each of us.  It was delicious! After chatting with some other Big Island finishers, we started the long walk back to the hotel.  It was only about a mile, but it felt like forever!

Happy to be done! (Photo by Penn Henderson)

After another day of resting (and a little shopping), we met up with a bunch of friends for pizza and beer Sunday night.  It was a great time, and everyone seemed pretty happy with their races. Congratulations to all of the finishers! We'll see you again next year!

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