20 February 2006

If it’s President’s Day it must be time for:

This race is near and dear to my heart. It is an 8.15 mile run from Aloha Tower to Aloha Stadium. Along the way there are bands and radio stations and it is a giant party.

This race is 22 years old and I've been doing it for 10 years. Today's race was kind of bittersweet for me. In a way it was like I'd come full circle.

10 years ago, when my daughter graduated high school, I took a step back and said, whew, what do I want to do with my life now. I came up with 2 answers, I wanted to go back to school and study science, and I wanted to be an athlete.

In pursuit of the athlete goal, the Great Aloha Run was the first race I signed up for. It was the first road race I had ever done. Talk about scarenervousous, anxious, you name it. I've done it every year since and it's by far my favorite race. It's huge, like 23,000, and all the ceremony and pageantry are great, I love it.

This is not a race for "real" athletes even though there is a pretty good purse. This is a race for the people. You see overweight people; people with little kids; old people; handicapped people; people of every shape and size and with all kinds of ambitions.

So today was the day.


This actually started last night. I got all my stuff ready and was eating dinner when the rain started. It rained pretty hard for hours. Around 8 p.m. we heard that the stream about 4 miles from us had overflowed and the road was closed. When my husband came to bed at 10:30 p.m. he said it was still raining hard and the road was still closed, this was not good.

The alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. I could hear it raining but not as hard. I got up and got ready because if there was a way through I was going ; this was my race.

4:30 a.m. I'm out the door and on my way. The roads are open and I make great time getting to Aloha Stadium. Once there we board buses that take us to Aloha Tower and the start line. We get there at 5:45 there and thre race starts at 7:00 a.m. Lots of time to kill.

As I was wondering around I was people watching, one of my favorite things. And this is where I got real melancholy. I realized this was my 10th race and started thinking how far I'd come in 10 years.

I looked around at the people there. There is an overweight woman who looks very anxious and nervous. Clearly her first race. I've been her. There was a woman apparently on the road to fitness. She's done this a couple of times and is trying to better her time. I've been her. Over there is a woman a little further along the fitness road. Her goal today is to run the entire course. I've been her. And over there is a woman who clearly is an athlete. She has legs of steel and a very hard body. I'm not her, but I will be soon. As I looked around I saw myself at every stage of my journey and I saw myself as I was today.

My plan for today was to treat it as a long training run. I did not plan on pushing it, just a nice easy run. I kept thinking to myself , "Ah, it's only 8 miles. Piece of cake." I wore my HRM just so I could see whadidn'ts going on. I didn't really pay attention to it while I was running I mainly wanted to see what it said after it was all over.


First thing, there is a minister who administers a prayer. I love it because they invoke the name of God and Jesus and everyone says Amen. It's wonderful just because it's sooooo politically incorrect.

Next, a local entertainer sings the national anthem and the Hawaii state song.

The wheelchair division starts first with a fire boat water send off (It's weird, I know!) Next is the military with a silent start. This is, I believe, the largest running of military in formation of any race in the country. Almost all the military units that are in town run as a unit. They carry the unit flags and run the entire race in formation. Some of the really hardcore units also sing cadence while they run. It's really inspiring to see all these guys and girls. Everyone applauds as they go by, it's really nice.

Finally itÂ’s our turn and the gun goes off. I'm actually in the 2nd wave so my start was 7:05. The first gun went off at 7 a.m. and we began moving towards the start mats. I did not cross the mats until 7:09. For the 1st mile or so it was almost impossible to run there were just too many people. Finally it started to break up and I broke into a trot. I was hoping to get in under 2 hours but secretly I was hoping to make 1:45.

I started off slow, at 2 miles I was at 28 minutes., and I just kept it slow and easy. Around mile 3 I started to pick up speed but still felt really good. I hit mile 4 at 48 minutes - woohooo!!! I was doing pretty good.

At the aid station just after mile 4 I ran into a friend. She was recovering from a cold so was running pretty slow. I ran with her for about 10 minutes then took off. I passed mile 5 at 1:05. I walked through every aid station for 2 reasons, a) to drink water and b) to not fall on all the cups and water on the ground. Right around mile 5.5 I developed a, how shall I put it, intestinal problem. I had just passed the bathrooms and wondered if it'd be weird if I turned around and ran back. I started walking hoping the feeling would pass. This lead to a whole train of thought regarding bodily functions and races, I'll spare you the details but I'm sure it's something you've all encountered.

After about 3 minutes the feeling passed and I was off again. I was now at 6 miles and 1: 19. I wondered if I could make my dream goal of 1:45. I picked it up a little and decided to push myself just a bit. I have discovered that I can determine exactly how much I am exerting myself by my stomach. I pushed mysenauseousere I was just getting nauseaos. I figured it was only 2 miles and I could push myself that much.

The next 2 mile flew by. I was feeling great and doing really well. Walking through all the aid stations and taking short walks when needed. God, I felt great. Before I knew it I was inside Aloha Stadium parking lot heading towards the finish line.

Now, this is a problem I have. I tend to slow down towards the end so today I turned on the afterburners. I flew through the parking lot and around the stadium. I was feeling so incredibly awesome and strong. I turned into the stadium and crossed the finish line at 1:58 on the clock. My watch time was 1:49. I felt so absolutely awesome and incredible you would not believe it.
As they cut the chip off my shoe all I could think of was how far I'd come in 10 years.

Today was not a PR of this race by any means, but it was one of the best races I've ever had. I think it's finally sunk in - I am an athlete!!!!


Nancy Toby said...

Woo, what a great day! That sounds like a very fun race. Thanks for taking us along!!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Sounds like you ran a great race and it is wonderful that you can look back at all the various versions of yourself through the years. Being an athlete...something to aspire to and something attained. Thanks for this post.

Backofpack said...

Whoo-hoo! You rock! We have a local race (my husband calls it the "gut buster" called the Sound to Narrows. It's a 12k. Though it is not as large as what you describe, it too, is THE local race to run. The first mile is down hill, the rest of the course is very hilly, then the finish is back up that first mile. Anyway, the reason I bring it up is that the military has an early start and has a big turn out. They run in their units, some call cadence, they carry flags and some even run in full combat gear and pack. It's awesome.

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