We ended up very close to the front of the pack when the cannon boomed so we hung to the side and enjoyed the fireworks as the speedy people went by (we still weren't close enough to see the elites start - darn!!). Our chip time was only 2 minutes off the gun time so you can see how close we were to the front. We headed out slowly. The first few miles of this marathon are fun because you go through downtown Honolulu, Chinatown, and past all the Christmas decorations the city has put up - it's really nice.
This is of course taken in daylight so you can see it :)
From downtown you circle around into Waikiki and that's fun because the entire length of Kalakaua Ave. is lined with people cheering and screaming - very inspiring. You then run over Diamond Head and we usually hit there for the sunrise, then it's out into Hawaii Kai (which is long and boring and hot) and back over Diamond Head to the finish at Kapiolani Park.
Okay, my race. It started off really good. We were going slow (which is really all you can do for the first few miles anyway) and were just enjoying the pagentry of it all. They marked both miles and kilometers and they were just clicking away. We were literally coming up on milage signs quicker than we thought we should. We decided that was a good thing. When we hit the 10k mark and I was 45 minutes off my normal 10k time I was a little concerned with how slow we were going, but the goal was to finish not to get a time. As we were coming up Diamond Head the winner, Jimmy Muindi, was coming by so we got to see him - that was cool. We took Diamond Head like it was flat. We were doing just great. I was following my nutrition plan and really feeling incredible. Around mile 9 or 10 I stopped at the aid station to take a gel. Up to this point I had been taking Cliff Shot Blox but I wanted something different. I took the gel with a cup of water and was on my way. After about 10 minutes I started to feel not so hot. I kept running but couldn't quite figure out what was going on. After a couple of minutes I realized it felt like my bloodsugar was off. (Note: I do have a small problem with my blood sugar and have to be careful about not eating too much refined sugar). I slowed down and just tried to walk it off. After about 10 minutes I started to feel a little better and thought I would be okay. I started running again and caught up with my group (who had stopped to stretch) and off we went.
Mile 11, mile 12, feeling okay, not great but hanging in there. Mile 13 was looming and it hit me like a wall. I could hardly move. Every single thing hurt. My blood sugar was freaking again; I was having trouble regulating my breathing; my feet were killing me; my legs were aching; and I thought to myself - I'm not going to be able to finish. Right around this time I passed the halfway point and thought, "Sh*t, I'm halfway there can't I make the whole distance?" I had a friend at mile 15 with a mini aid station so I decided to make it to there. I had rides available at mile 17 and back at mile 11 so I figured at mile 15 I'd decide where to go and what to do. When I got to mile 15 Linda immediately had me sit down and gave me a coke. I sat there chatting with her and someone else who stopped by for probably 15 minutes sipping my coke. I stood up and felt pretty good. Told Linda I was going to go on and see how I felt. I walked off and within minutes was running again. I felt just awesome. I did 3 miles in 40 minutes (that's much faster than I started at) and was just feeling like a champ. I got back to Linda and told her how good I felt and was going on. She handed me another coke to carry and off I went. I tried not to push it but I felt so good I couldn't help it.
Around mile 19 I started to develop what I thought was a stitch in my side but I kept going. At 19.5 I stopped to walk to try to get rid of the stitch. I would walk to mile 20 then run to mile 21 and just take it like that, 1 mile at a time. I was still feeling pretty good except for this "stitch." I got to mile 20 and started to run only to literally scream in pain after about 20 steps; okay, I can walk a little further. The "stitch" continued to increase in pain and to shoot through my body from back to front. I did notice that if I walked with good posture it didn't hurt but as soon as I started to slouch the pain would return. So I stood up tall and starting walking like crazy. At this point I was still feeling good, really good. I was walking and passing people and fairly confident I could make it to the end. I was really feeling great except for that stitch. I kept trying to run and kept screaming in pain. You should have seen the Japanese around jump and turn when I would scream. It would hurt so bad, even though I was prepared for it, I couldn't help but scream like a little girl.
Mile 22 another friend was waiting and I took a break again and drank my other coke. My stomach was starting to get queasy but I was only 4.2 miles from the finish so I was going to continue. Mile 22 - great, mile 23 - awesome, mile 24 - still going strong, mile 25 - the top of Diamond Head. It was at this point I knew without a doubt I was going to make it and I started to get a little weepy. 10 miles ago I was sure I couldn't go on yet here I was 1.2 miles from the finish. I really wanted to run in but everytime I started to run I would scream in pain from my "stitch." So I walked - fast. Once you hit Kapiolani Park both sides of the road are just lined with people sometimes 3 deep, cheering and clapping, it was awesome. I crossed the finish line and never felt prouder of myself or happier for completing something.
The clock said 7:43. Way, way longer than I wanted to be but at that point I was just glad I finished. Official time was 7:42:09. Much more important then the time is what did this teach me??
This year was the first year I actually devoted to racing as a serious pursuit and it was eye-opening and enlightening.
- At the beginning of the year I was following my own program and was running about a 10:30 mile consistently. Towards the end of the year when I joined my marathon group my pace slowed considerably. I'm going to go back to my own program. I know the coach looked at me and thought I was slow, but inspite of my size I can run at a decent pace.
- My dance with sprained ankles was a serious problems and injuries have got to be taken seriously. I am completely healed now and plan to stay that way. I know how to avoid injuries, things like yoga and pilates keep me limber and weigths keep me strong.
- I need to work on my nutrition if I have any plans of going further. My stomach does not handle distance well and I need to find something that will work for me.
- I want to be faster. I think I'm going to delay Honu one year and work on racing. This year it's been all about just finishing things, now I'm ready to race. If I can get faster at the shorter stuff I'll stand a better chance of making the cutoff times when I go longer.
- I generally work better alone. I think I'll find some folks to hook up with once or twice a week but group training is out.
Well, there you have it. Not my best race but I'm so glad I managed to dig and find the strength to finish. As a side note, I am going to the doctor later this week to check on my blood sugar issues (diabetes run rampant in my family) and the stitch in my side turned out to be a deep muscle cramp and is finally gone.
Thanks everyone for your support and sharing all your knowledge with me. I've learned a lot from all the bloggers out there and I look forward to a really great 2006!!!
P.S. The batteries in my camera died and since the nearest store is 10 miles away I decided to post the medal pictures later.