Yep, these are just a few of the statements people yell at me on a daily basis. The first two statements: “Very Nihhce!”… The third one: “Not so mahch!”
This time, however, all three statements were being shrieked at me for an entirely different reason. The reason: I survived 26.2 miles that is the Honolulu Marathon.
Now before you start complimenting or cursing me – depending on your level of anger management – I’m here today to tell you that “running” (and I use that term loosely) a marathon is nothing really you yourself can’t accomplish.
Just send me 4 easy installments of $19.95 and follow my plan of attack, step-by-step, and you’ll be on your way to millions. Woops, wrong infomercial. Follow my blueprint for success below and you’ll be right on pace to compete in the December 9, 2007 Honolulu Marathon.
Before I set you on your 12 month regime, let’s give you a little background on my physical condition prior to the 2006 marathon to help you gauge where you’re at.
I am a *cough* 30 *cough* something year old male in fairly decent condition. Not too skinny, not too heavy. I’m your typical office employee at an 8+ hour a day sit-down job, being fed birthday cakes every once in a while. I play sports regularly, but keep in mind that this conditioning is a lot different from long distance running conditioning. If you don’t play team sports or move your body out of your recliner at least every once in a while, then I would definitely recommend getting out and being more active. There’s no need to become the next Olympic champion, but definitely jog or walk a few miles here and there. At the bare minimum, you’ll live a longer, healthier life. Now, on with the 12 months of madness!
With the holiday season in the rear view mirror, it’s time to get off your lazy behinds and shed some of that holiday weight.
Start off slow. If this is your first exposure to moving your legs in a quick moving motion, you definitely want to get your heart and legs accustomed to the coming year of BonBon-less training. Walk for a mile or 10 minutes at your local gym or around your neighborhood. Set goals. Don’t be too hasty and attempt 10 miles on your first day. We’ve got 11 more months of this torture yo.
January or February-ish is also about the time they announce the early bird registration for us locals so keep your ears open for that. It usually requires a visit to the Niketown store in Waikiki and about $15. The great thing about this early bird registration, aside from the large break in the entry fee and free T-shirt, is that you’re officially committed to run. There’s no more excuses from that point on. Circle the Sunday, December 9th date on your calendar and cross off the days until then…
For more information about the early bird registration, contact:
Honolulu Marathon Office
3435 Waialae Ave., #208, Honolulu, HI 96816
TEL: 808-734-7200 / FAX: 808-732-7057
Continue your slow, but sure training. Work on getting your cardio up to par. We should still be in baby steps phase. One mile here, 2 miles there, 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there. Nothing crazy just yet. If you’re starting from scratch, we should still be walking and not jogging full time yet.
Again, either January or February is when they’ll announce the early bird registration so if they have not announced it yet, listen up for that in February.
Alright troops, we’re three months into the new year and less than 9 months away from the 35th Annual Honolulu Marathon. Nervous? Don’t be. Still get choke time! The main thing is that we’re active and moving and not being lazy sloths. Going cold turkey with good physical conditioning is one thing, but going cold turkey with no work is an invitation for disaster.
You should be up to at least 5-10 miles now… Running, walking, or otherwise and it should be non-stop. If you’re struggling with the distance, then make goals for time. Remember, you’ll be running/walking/crawling for about 5-12+ hours throughout the day on 9th of December, so you’ll want your body to be ready.
Midway point check. You should be up past 13.1 miles now, as we’re half way there (half of 26.2 is 13.1 for those of you who missed math class in elementary school). Continue to work towards attaining your personal goals, while making sure that you’re on pace for your December debut.
This might be a good time to get outside and do a bit of your training in the sun. July & August is traditionally the hot/humid part of year so if you can handle a touch of these conditions, the weather in December should be a piece of cake.
Hopefully you’ve already done this by now, but if not, be sure that your equipment is ready, set and good to go. Don’t make the mistake of buying a new pair of shoes late in the game and expecting to break them in in time for the big dance. Be sure that you’ve got the shoes and clothes that you’ll be running in, set and broken into. You might want to jog with your fancy threads a few times beforehand to make sure that there is no unnecessary chafing going on.
Now let’s be honest. How many of you actually followed my schedule and trained for the last 10 months? I’m really hoping that you printed this article out in January and pinned it on your wall for inspiration (cue Eye of the Tiger music)… But if you’re anything like me, you probably waited until now to start training, or at least think about training. If you’re just rolling out of your recliner now, then I would recommend shooting for the 2008 (Sunday, December 14th) or 2009 (Sunday, December 13th) marathons. I personally know two guys who attempted the run cold turkey last year and could not make it. I don’t want to embarrass them so I won’t mention their names, but in Pig Latin, they were Randonbay and Ysontay. *grin*
All kidding aside, don’t be crazy. Twenty-six point two miles in hot, Hawaii weather is no joke and should not be taken lightly. If you are not in any kind of condition to at least run/walk 10 miles with ease, don’t push it.
I was probably right at the cusp of readiness. Though I was physically ok with the sports conditioning (with the exception of a bothersome ankle injury), I was coming off two weeks of travel where I did nothing but stuff my face. On top of that, I lacked true, long distance conditioning. I was lucky if I got 5 miles of non-stop jogging. Don’t make the mistake I did… TRAIN!
It’s showtime! You’ve (supposedly) trained all year for this. You must be excited. A few housekeeping items to be sure to take care of:
Your race packets (including bib number and timing chip) will NOT be mailed to you. You will have to physically pick it up at the Hawaii Convention Center the week leading up to the marathon. Check your mail in late November for the details on the dates and times and be sure to bring in the confirmation card that comes in the mail.
While you’re picking up your packet, why not check out the Honolulu Marathon Expo that is running concurrently with the packet pickup? You can view and purchase various products and marathon related memorabilia as well as get information about the race itself. This past year, Hollywood actress Kelly Hu was in attendance signing autographs for her fans. She seemed really genuine and “real”, and is apparently an avid runner herself, as she completed the marathon with an incredible chip time of 4:56:19!
If being a part of the weeklong festivities is your bag, you can buy tickets to the concert/luau that they have the Friday before the race. Last year, it was held at the Waikiki Shell and included an All-You-Can-Eat Carbo loading party, with music from Gavin DeGraw and Jake Shimabukuro.
Checklist for Race Day (Sunday, December 9, 2007):
- Pound Da Carbs: As they say, load up on carbohydrates. Pasta, rice, bread, etc. During the race, you won’t have any time to eat. Power bars and gels at best, so eating right the night before is key.
- Be a Sleeping Beauty: I can’t stress how important a good night’s rest is the night before the race. The gun goes off at 5AM so you’ll be waking up at least 3:30AM to get ready. Sacrifice the Clubbing, Internet browsing and/or DVR watching for just one night… Your body will thank you for it.
- Ring the Alarm: You’ve trained all year for this so you definitely don’t want to oversleep! Set your loudest alarm or two or three and make sure that it’s far away so you have to physically get up to turn it off.
- Break Fast: Fill up a bit in the morning as well, but not too much as you don’t want to get side pain during the race.
- O2 Clothing: As the day progresses, the sun will make its presence known so you want to be sure that you don’t overheat. Wear cool clothing that breathes.
- Comfy Kicks: Wear comfortable shoes that are pre-broken into. Blisters are your worst enemy.
- Lather Up: You’ll be out in the sun for a good 4+ hours. Be sure to cover your exposed areas with suntan lotion with a minimum of SPF 35.
- Lube Up: Vaseline the areas that you think may chafe with your clothing.
- Bum a Ride: Parking will be a nightmare near the starting and finishing lines. If you can get dropped off and picked up, that would be ideal. (! – Get dropped off as far south on Pensacola Street as possible. You’ll have to walk a bit towards the staring line near Borders and IBM and P.F. Chang’s near Ward Center on Queen Street, but you’ll be at the front of the line, right up there with the speedsters from Africa!)
- Make Like a Limo and…: Stretch! You will undoubtedly cramp up at some point during your run, but with proper stretching, you’ll save yourself a bit of agony.
- Know your role: As long as you go in with the mindset that you are not in it to win it, you’ll be ok. The second you start to compete with the children and senior citizens whizzing by you, you’re in trouble. Just take your time and don’t overwork yourself. If you’re tired, rest. If you’re exhausted rest some more. Know and recognize your limits and stay within those boundaries. There is no rush. The Honolulu Marathon is one of the few marathons that waits for every single participant to finish, no matter how long, so take your time.
- The Mr. Burns Factor: Prepare yourself to morph into a geriatric overnight. Immediately following your finish, your legs will feel like jelly and your posture and walk will be very Burns-like. Don’t expect to take on activities for at least a week.
Things to pack with you while running:
- Band-Aids: Pack more than a few of these fo’ sho. This will save you. I used 4 Band-Aids and had to pick up 2 more from the aid station (which are few and far between). Don’t let the blisters get the best of you.
- External Analgesics: Cramps are a part of the fun. You should’ve stretched by now, but you will still cramp. Applying products like Satohap pads, or soothing lotions or sprays will help tremendously. (! – You may want to consider the sprays or lotions as the pads do not stick to your suntan lotion skin very well.)
- Gels: Light, portable, convenient and easy. These are some of the advantages of carrying products like PowerBar’s Gel. The only chance you have to eat during the day is your light snack in the morning. Having these handy treats in your pocket or fanny pack will save you when you get hungry in the middle of the day.
- Fluids: This is a matter of personal preference. I, personally would not carry my own bottle(s) as there are drinking stations every 2-3 miles. Do, however, make sure you take in enough fluids to replenish those you lose (blood, sweat & tears) during your run. I drank at least one cup of water or energy drink at every single liquid station. You should do the same.
- Shades: The hot, Hawaiian sun will be blazin’ by early afternoon, so you would want a pair of your ultra-violet (preferably polarized) spectacles on to save your peepers.
- Mental Toughness: I tell everyone that finishing the marathon is mostly mental. Once you get past the slight aches and pains of your physical being, mental toughness takes over and will help you cross that finish line.
- Camera: I would not recommend this to most, but if you’re a picture nut like me and are running for the experience of the event as much as for running itself, then the digicam is a must-have. I opted not to carry a fanny pack because the up and down bouncing action on my bum became annoying in a practice run. So, like an imbecile, I carried my camera in my hand throughout the entire 26.2 miles… And not a single drop! 🙂
Now that you’re all prepped and ready to go now, all that’s left is for the race to start. It’s a madhouse. The streets are lined with racers ready to go and you can just taste the anticipation in the air.
We’re close now, so let’s listen in to what Mayor Mufi Hanneman has to say to us runners right before the gun goes off.
Mufi Hanneman before the start of the 2006 Honolulu Marathon
And we’re off!
It’ll probably be difficult, but try to remember to pace yourself. In both of my experiences, I bolted out of the gates like a mad man because of the adrenaline I had coursing through my veins. From the starting gun to the fireworks to just the whole experience of it all, it’s just plain exciting. By mile 3 though, I was spent, which, thankfully, provided a good time to break for a photo opp.
Remember what the Carpenters preached…
Before the rising sun we fly,
So many roads to choose
We start our walking and learn to run.
And yes, we’ve just begun.
Mile 5 races through the streets of Waiks. Admiring the beauty of the Christmas lights and sounds of the ocean crashing the shore take your mind off of the race itself.
By now, you’ve probably noticed, and appreciated those who are lined up along the streets to cheer you on. They probably had to get up just as early as you in order to root for you. As the sound of your heavy breathing takes over your eardrums, you hang onto every positive morsel they send your way.
“Go get ’em!”
“Way to go!”
“We’re proud of you!”
Before you know it, you’ve racked up miles 6, 7, and 8 and are passing mile 9 near Diamond Head.
(! – A little note about miles 6-8-ish… Most of the Honolulu Marathon is flat, but at about this time is when you’ll hit one of the two uphill climbs of the entire course. On this occasion, you’re going up on Diamond Head Road – from Kapiolani Park towards the Kahala area – so save your energy for this one. Also along this path is where they start to narrow the running area with ropes. This is so that the finishers coming in the other direction have some room to run, but this also means less room for you. With thousands of people trying to cram into one lane of the road, things will slow down and get quite cramped. Be aware of this situation and don’t get frustrated. Claustrophobians – you’ve been warned.)
Once you pass the mile 9 marker, you’ll quickly approach the downhill slope of 18th Ave. If you brought your camera, this is the time to bust da buggah out because of the picturesque photo opps here.
Depending on your timing, turning right onto Kilauea Ave may be a good shot too, as you could catch the morning sunrise.
And before you know it, you’ll be passing mile 10. I passed this mark at 2:07:33, just a tad before the time when Ethiopia’s Ambesse Tolossa crossed the finish line. D’oh!
Miles 10-11 is a brisk stroll through Kahala and as you turn onto Kalanianaole Highway, you’ll see the sign for mile 11. Kalanianaole Highway is, in my opinion, probably the most grueling on the course. It’s long and seemingly endless and you’ll constantly find yourself getting frustrated at seeing the runners (who actually trained for this stinkin’ marathon) making the return path home on the same highway. Try to refrain from cursing at them or cheating by jumping into their lane. Remain calm and maintain your own leisure pace and you’ll be just fine.
If you’re built like me, this is about the time when the wheels start to fall off as far as running is concerned. We’re at about the midway point and everything is starting to cramp up. Take stretching breaks and fluid breaks (both in and out) and keep on a truckin’. Your cramps will eventually go away (at least in your mind) and your brisk walk will come back to form.
Before you know it, you’ll be passing mile 15 and hitting Hawaii Kai with style. Eastsiiiide!
From a mental standpoint, this is huge. You’re more than halfway done and you know that once you get through Hawaii Kai, you’ll be past the “turnaround point” and heading back on Kalanianaole Highway towards the goal! You’ll actually take the time to appreciate things, including the many characters you’ll find along the way.
Between miles 16 & 17 is when I started to get hungry. I was seriously considering stopping by Safeway or Longs or Costco to grab a bite. I chose not to and decided instead, to take a breather at beautiful Maunalua Bay Beach Park near Roy’s Restaurant (on the corner of Keahole Street and Kalanianaole Highway past mile 17). This is also where they conveniently had another liquid station, so I grabbed a drink, leaned up against a breezy palm tree, pulled out a PowerBar gel from my pocket and rested my weary bones. In the distance, you could hear the band playing beautiful music on stage. Much love, Honolulu Marathon organizers… Much love!
My view from the palm tree at Maunalua Bay Beach Park
Back on Kalanianaole Highway going west. Woo hoo! Try to refrain from mocking or doing a wop-yo-jaw at those slow-pokes going in the opposite direction. Them bums are doing their best. *evil grin*
Sure, miles 18 near Kuliouou and 19 near Halemaumau street are great accomplishments, but you really have your breakthrough when you hit the 20s in mile marker sightings. You’ll pass this blessed event right next to Aina Haina Shoppnig Center. Feel free to do a little dance, make a little love and get down tonight.
Much of the torture continues through mile 21, but when you make that turn past Waialae Country Club onto Kealaolu Avenue and pass mile 22, you’re well on your way.
Those sneaky buggahs from MarathoFoto will be along this road, so if you’re vain, you might want to fix your hair and come up with a pose before they capture you for eternity. Or, you can make like me and find someone you know to have a “prepared” shot taken. Here’s my ugly, exhausted mug at mile 23.
Miles 23-24 continues on Kahala Ave as you head towards the treacherous Diamond Head Road hill. You’ll continue to get greeted by those cheering you on, spraying you with their lawn hoses, or, if you’re lucky enough, live slack key from the likes of Makana.
Makana at the 2006 Honolulu Marathon
Miles 24-25 is sheer madness, but you’re so excited that you’re almost pau that you forget that it’s a crazy uphill climb. Once you’re in the 20s, you’re looking and praying for anything that resembles the next mile marker. No such luck here.
Another character along the course was this dude on Diamond Head Road. He made me laugh, and, get inspired all at the same time. Not sure who he was with or what he was doing there, but he held a sign that said, “Mou sugu gooru da, Ganbare!”, which essentially means, the goal is pretty soon, keep it up! Thanks for the inspiration weird man!
Once you start going downhill, you’ll hit the real 25 mile marker. Pay no attention to the time. I, uh, actually got this photo from a little girl who, uh, took this long to get to mile 25. Yeah, that’s it!
This is when you really start getting excited. Passing Kapiolani Park down Kalakaua Ave is the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen… that day. The crowd is roaring and your adrenaline is pumping. Your legs are mush, but you “make like” and start jogging like you’ve been doing it for the past 26 miles with ease.
But don’t get too ahead of yourself. There is still a 0.2 to go after the 26 mile marker. And lemme tell you, that 0.2 is not easy in your dilapidated condition.
But then you see it. The goal you’ve been begging for since mile 1. What a sight to behold. I think I’m in love…
Again, pay no attention to the time. Damn, that girl was slow…
My results for the day?
Hawaii Kai: 4:05:39
Diamond Head: 6:52:45
Place Overall: 20372
Place Men: 11292
Place Men 30 – 34: 1492
Just 20,371 places behind the winner… Don’t hate.
The results of the runners you are actually interested in?
Ambesse Tolossa 02:13:42
Jimmy Muindi 02:14:39
Eric Wainana 02:16:08
Araya Haregot 02:16:59
Eric Nzoiki 02:17:10
Lyubov Denisova 02:27:19
Alevtina Biktimirova 02:29:42
Eri Hayakawa 02:32:31
Olesya Nurgalieva 02:36:02
Albina Ivanova 02:39:44
So you see, running a marathon ain’t no thang but a chicken wang. With a clean bill of health and decent physical conditioning, combined with proper training, even YOU can prevent forest fires, er finish a marathon. And before long, your friends and family members will be calling you “impressive” and “crazy”…
For all of my pics from the day, go to my gallery.
Mahalos to Chris and his boys for editing this video from the day’s events!