Honolulu Marathon. A goal race, a race that up until that Tuesday evening on Twitter in May when BibRave announced they would be giving away two entries to the 2017 Honolulu Marathon, I didn’t know I wanted to nor would score the opportunity to run. However, my gifs and charismatic conversation skills paid off and I was one of two runners who won an opportunity to do just that. (Side note: BibRave is a website where you post your full reviews of any and all races you participate in. They also do a weekly Tuesday night #BibChat that consists of about 5 questions focused around fitness and running. If you are on twitter I highly recommend looking them up and participating in the next BibChat).
As excited as I was and honestly in disbelief until race day arrived, I knew it was something that was going to be more expensive than probably any other race I would participate in. Plus it is in December, you know what else is in December? Christmas. This was not going to be an easy trip to make happen. But by the grace of God and the love and support of my parents, we made it happen. I mean, how could you not right? It was a free entry to the fucken Honolulu Marathon!
Training was what you would expect training to be. I learned a lot about myself during my first marathon training experience. I learned I could do it, I can go out and achieve what ever I push myself to do. I also learned that no matter how much you eat you will still be starving after that 18 mile long run. I fell in love with running, I fell out of love with running and pushed myself past limits I did not know I had. I was constantly sore and yoga became my best friend. Sleep became my best friend and coffee my saving grace.
Travel day had come. I could not believe it was here. I was actually going to be flying to Honolulu and actually rocking this race. Or so I thought…there was a speed bump before we even took off. There was a threat sent over WiFi and a fellow passenger picked it up. We were all told to evacuate the plane but not given a reason. Once we stepped off the plane we knew. We were greeted by the Air Marshall, police, SWAT, bomb sniffing police dogs and were left wondering for a hour and 15 minutes if were ever going to get to beautiful Hawaii. And if we even wanted to get back on the plane after everything. We did get back on the plane…a little, okay a lot scared but also with the reassurance knowing they did everything they could possibly humanly do to make sure our 5 hour flight over water would be safe and we would arrive at our destination in one piece. We even received a free cocktail but you know I had to have a few more to make that flight bearable since we did not have any access to any wifi or television. The staff was great, super sweet and tried so hard to make sure it was a smooth flight. I am not one to clap and cheer when the plane lands but after this flight, everyone was cheering and celebrating. I cannot imagine a time when I was so happy to be off a damn flight.
The trip itself was perfect. Hawaii has a way of taking away your worries and making you be in the moment. We snorkeled looking for turtles, attended the annual North Shore Pipe Masters surf competition (another item crossed off the bucket list), had amazing food, shopped, made some new friends and lived it up. Now I highly recommend doing this but also remember you are there to race and your body needs rest. Between making sure I got a run in every day, not the best move when one is supposed to be tapering, and staying busy with exploring everything the island had to offer, I was tired come expo day.
Once you walk through those expo doors you realize its all happening and you’re in this large space with hundreds of other people from all over the world who is wanting to complete the same goal as you, to complete this amazing race. Picking up the bib for my very first marathon was on another level. Something I have had in the back of my mind but was not sure I was ever going to achieve. I almost got emotional but I saved that for crossing the finish line. I honestly cannot remember much about the expo, I do recall over 1000+ booths, hundreds of people and getting blessed for race day.
The night before the race included pasta at The Cheesecake Factory with a pre race celebratory drink and plenty of KT Tape. I made the mistake of taping practically my entire body without shaving any of it beforehand. It hurt so bad to take off the next day. Imagine for a minute your skin is covered with one big band aid and you are sweaty, drenched from the rain and now you have to rip this tape off and ouuuccchhh. I lost so much hair when I did this, it was horrible. Anyway, I set my flat lay out, set about 10 alarms because 3:00am was coming quick. I was so worried about not waking up in time (this has happened sadly, but I will save that for another post)that I almost didn’t sleep. Thank goodness I was able to get some rest and was up before my alarm. All ready to go walk less than a mile to the shuttle which was right down the street from my hotel.
Eagerness, excitement, anxiousness, tiredness but ready. The shuttle was full of all of it and then some. Plenty of chatter and flashes from selfies and group shots and people sitting quietly taking it all in. This was the short ride to the starting line. No turning back. It was happening. The starting line location was abuzz with eager runners setting their watches, finding that perfect song to get them pumped to run 26.2 miles at 5:30 in the morning and frantically trying to find their correct corral and pacers.
Countdown…one hour until go time…30 minutes…20…10…5…1…and then BOOM…FIREWORKS! Have you ever experienced fireworks at 5:30 in the morning with thousands of other people who are all there with you for the same goal? It was something I never thought I would ever experience and something I would never forget.
The race had begun. It was warm, really warm, people were covered in sweat by mile 3. However, running down downtown Honolulu with locals and tourists sidelined with music, signs and cheering you on makes you forget about all that. The spectators came out in a big way. There was food, drinks, music and plenty of support the entire race. Luckily for me, I went into this race without a goal time, without thinking about Boston or landing a certain time. Did I want to do well? Fuck yeah but my main goal was to take it all in and enjoy the race and my surroundings. I stopped and took in the views, the smells, the scenery and a rainbow that appeared when it started raining hard and fast around mile 10, talk about a cool down. It was refreshing in a way where we were all sweating but also not welcoming because we were all soaked and so was everything we had with us. Then you remember where you are at and realize you got this absolutely amazing once in a lifetime opportunity to run this beautiful race and there is no reason to be upset.
Until there was. Mile 24. Heartbreak hill. Almost done. Almost there and I could officially call myself a marathoner. One problem. I under fueled. Gels were not doing the trick. I was getting a headache, but not a normal one. It was an ocular headache. My vision in my left eye was going, this was the wall. I had told myself I did not hit the wall but I did and this was the moment. I could give up now and I knew if I stopped at the aid station they probably wouldn’t let me continue on. Okay keep going, shit walk if you have to. Just get over this hill, try and laugh at the college guys who are handing out beer at the top of the hill. Yes, you are at the top of the hill. It is all downhill from here. Good. You can see the finish line, hear everyone cheering. There is your dad. Go hug him now. Don’t cry, not yet. Focus. Almost there. You can do it. Just keep going. And finish line. Hands in the air like you just don’t care because you are a fucken marathoner. Head ache is getting worse. Get your medal, let the tears fall, which is very weird when you are having one of these migraines. There are the ladies with the medals, awe, she is so sweet, telling me its okay and that I did it. I did do it. Now to find my parents, get my malasade, I have been thinking of this donut since mile 25, and my t shirt. Okay got my donut, omg this is so damn good where has this been my whole life? Now my T-shirt, why is the t shirt booth all the way in the back. Ok but where are my parents? My phone is almost dead. Shit. Ah finally my parents, hug my dad, don’t cry don’t cry next is my mom, don’t cry don’t cry. All I could think of was a Jamba Juice acai bowl for the time being. Something healthy. This hit the spot, runners everywhere, I had mascara down my cheeks but I didn’t care. Photos on the beach with my medal because when in Hawaii it is a must. Now back to the hotel for food. Sleep. Get called to go to the hotel pool. Finally, a celebratory beer. I’ve earned it. And food. and ahhhh it’s done.
Honestly, the rest of the day was a blur. I do remember some overpriced Mexican food that did not live up to the hype. After dinner, I rested in the hotel while my parents went to check out the city. There was no way I was going to go for a long walk after the day I had. In fact, I don’t think I posted on social media until hours later, I was that drained.
The rest of the trip was a blast. Spent Monday beachside with my medal of course because you know how much us runners love to brag! Had the best burger and smoothie and just enjoyed some time to myself to soak in everything that happened the day before. Unfortunately, on Tuesday, our last day there, while at the outlets, it rained. It rained so much our luau was cancelled. This was a blessing in disguise I think because we landed a table overlooking the sun setting on the water at a rooftop hotel with the best food and drinks. I was not ready to go home, I was so sad and heartbroken to leave paradise, I almost cried while waiting in the lobby on our last day while waiting for our taxi.
This flight went so much smoother than our previous flight, although we were separated, I was fortunate enough to sit by a really cool Bay Area guy who kept me pretty entertained the entire flight.
Back to the cold December valley weather and reality of real life. Looking back on the trip, I would not change a single thing, well, perhaps, the under fueling during the race, but other than that not one single thing. It was the perfect trip and I could not thank BibRave and the Honolulu Marathon enough for this experience.
Oh and I ran a 5:22:24 with an average pace of 12:18!!!