Honolulu Marathon - Race Day

Have you ever read a marathon recap where someone stated it was the best every step of the way? That they felt wonderful? I have a few times and to be honest, I felt bugged by it as I couldn't relate. Really? Feeling good for 26.2 miles? Seems wrong. So I will apologize ahead of time since on race day I really did feel good and enjoy every step. But don't get me wrong....I did still have moments of "weakness". Here's my story. I really did try to keep it short and focused on Race Day Nutrition, The Race Itself, and Blessings. The Day After and Recovery will come later.

Race Day Nutrition
Since the marathon started at 5:00 am I woke up at 3:00 am to eat my breakfast. I usually do waffles but that wasn't going to work in our hotel room. So I replaced the two waffles with two graham crackers, topped them with peanut butter, and half a banana. I did have one cup of coffee and drank 8 oz of coconut water to get a wee bit of extra hydration. About 20 minutes before the start, I drank a Gatorade Prime.

During the race I consumed 5 vanilla GU gels (about every four miles), ate some mini pretzels offered along the course, and had a cherry lifesaver. I drank about 12 oz of orange Gatorade by mile 7ish, swapped bottles with a new one from dear hubby, and continued on. I can't tell you how much I consumed from then on as I did top off with water and refill with the course offered Lemon Lime Gatorade. Not my favorite and I knew it was the flavor the marathon was offering. However, I still opted to train and start the race with my preferred flavor, orange.

Post race I drank two Muscle Milk lights, drank lots of water, and ate real food a few hours later. I do not do well taking in solids post run.

The Race Itself
We got to the race start with about 20 minutes to spare and I really needed one final pit stop. There were TONS of porta potties but the lines were crazy long. Fortunately, I knew the park had some towards the back and dear hubby held my place in one line when I went to check out the other facilities. Score! Shorter line for more stalls! I texted dear hubby all was good back here and after my final pit stop, we made our way, slowly, to my race coral. I placed myself midway in the 4-5 hour coral. Just where I should be. And then I tried to focus on my pre-run prayers and mantras. Dear hubby tried to take pictures but my point and shoot camera does awful in the dark and really hates the zoom feature for anything with any type of action.

To announce the start, the Honolulu Marathon has a fireworks display. It was quite awesome and dragged out long enough to keep me distracted entertained while I  made the very slow approximate 12-minute walk to the actual start. Yes, I actually did look at my clock a few times so I would have an idea of what to subtract at the finish line.

To my surprise, once we hit the starting mat we were able to space out a wee bit and actually run. Trust me, the walk to the start was very cozy and tight with a few bumps here and there. I knew the first few miles would be tight, and perhaps slower, but didn't realize the number of runners would keep the course pretty much the same way throughout. Really, I was passing and zigzagging around runners from start to finish.

On the bright side, I had to be so focused on moving around runners, dodging those that stopped, and other road hazards that I got to the one mile mark in no time. Okay, it was over 12 minutes of running time and perhaps my slowest mile. No worries, I worked to increase my pace a wee bit but knew I was still aiming to keep it slower due to my cough. You can read more about that in my The Day Before post.

Shortly after mile 2 my breathe was taken away by the beautiful Christmas lights to the extent that I had to find a street sign so I could make sure the whole family checked them out later that night. Here are some pictures from then.

And I focused on hydration knowing I may see dear hubby near mile 6-7 with a new orange Gatorade. We had a plan for me to stay right and look for him and I only got stuck in water station craziness a couple of times until I learned to avoid that side when running by. I also noted that the ground was awfully wet and littered with paper cups. I slowed my pace through each station to avoid slipping. And yes, volunteers rocked the boat and were trying to clear as much cups away as possible but really could only do so at the edges.

After switching bottles with dear hubby I began my run through Diamond Head. There was an incline here I was a bit concerned about, mainly on the return, but in all reality, I didn't notice it much in the first pass because of the runner congestion. Really, I pretty much made it to the highest point before realizing I was running uphill. Imagine about 31,000 runners that were in 4-6 street lanes of running squeezed into one lane. Volunteers were in the middle of the street with yellow caution tape keeping us on the left so the wheel chair participants, who had an early start, could have the right side. The volunteers rocked the boat as all cheered and many gave high fives. And there were LOTS of them as they were about 6-10 body widths apart. We were running elbow to elbow or shoulder to shoulder and those who stopped to walk caused me to have to squeeze, swerve, and really focus. It was nice once the course "opened" up some more. By the way, when I talked to a 3:15 finisher later she didn't have as much congestion problems here but said it was DARK. Really dark. Hardly could see dark. I guess we each have our own "hurdles".

The next notable section would be the approximate 5 miles of highway running to Hawaii Kai. It was open, sunny, and windy. We were fighting a headwind pretty much the whole time. I was prepared for this as a runner who ran this race years ago gave me a heads up. I also had false hopes of the wonderful tailwind on the return. Yep, that never really does work out. This section was long but I was still happy. I think my pace juggled a bit here but overall, I kept running at a level comfortable to me. I wasn't hurting. I wasn't coughing too much. Honestly, I only coughed when taking in nutrition. I passed a wheelchair participant and was completely awed by how strong his arm muscles must be. We also were able to see the elite and fast runners on their return. That was awesome! The lady who finished first looked like she was feeling it. It was rejuvenated to know running can be hard for everyone. I am glad she cinched first place. Many runners cheered for them. I tried to woo-hoo but my voice was a mess. I decided to stop trying.

Hawaii Kai was hotter but wonderful. It wasn't as hot as the Maui Marathon final miles so I felt fine. I did take a couple of sponges because I felt I should, not because I felt like death. The residents rocked the boat! So many were out cheering and providing runners with additional treats. This is how I got some mini pretzels along the course. I also saw candy, fruit loops, oranges, and bananas. I stuck with the mini pretzels since I trained with them in my final runs and loved them during my 20-mile run on the treadmill.

On the return the tailwind didn't bring much relief and I was seeing more and more runners down. Seriously down. I heard more ambulances in this race than any other but then, there were more runners. I saw a wife leave her husband in the safe hands of a medic. I continued to run smart not knowing the full impact my cough could have even though I was already pass the midpoint. I continued to not let myself worry too much about time and accept what I end up with. I was tracking it here and there, but not really changing my pace to hit a target end time. I just continued to run happy and resist any temptation to increase my pace. I also had my hidden secret, that I would allow myself to pick up the pace in the final 2-3 miles.

I did have two walk breaks, if you want to call them that. The first was through a water station where I stopped to have my bottle refilled after dumping out the remnants of the orange flavor. Have I told you that the volunteers rocked? They were beyond awesome and were really great with topping off my water bottle. I also loved the hydration guns they had instead of pitchers or cooler nozzles. Really cool. They were working their butts off to keep cups on the tables. Anyhow, back to walking. I walked a few paces to put the lid tight back on my bottle and quickly returned to running. The next break was when I wanted the lifesaver from my back pocket. It was shortly after mile 22 and I needed a bit of a lift energy-wise. Really, I eat every 3 hours or so during the day (or eat five small meals) and need constant nutrition on a run. And with my GU gel plan, my last one was taken at mile 20 and I still had 6.2 to go. I wasn't dying but figured, I had the candy so why not take it now and finish strong. I walked to open it, was walking a bit more thinking I would start running in about 10 steps. Then an "angel" ran by and commented that I was close to the end and could do it. I started running and thanked him for the kick in the butt. And I knew my time. And I knew I could potentially match my last marathon time if I kept going. And I knew I was allowed to push myself.

I passed the final water station that was really maybe a mile or so from the end. Ironically, it was the only one loaded with cups and yes, my bottle was empty but I knew I was fine. Okay, the tables were loaded at the start too. I knew my pace. I knew my time. And now my competitive side was taking over. I really could PR if I continue to run strong and keep my negative splits at play. I was shocked and amazed since I did start slow and zigzagged a lot along the course. I walked twice. I had a cough. And perhaps a PR? I felt blessed and ran with all I had.

I saw/heard dear hubby near the end, pretty sure I waved, and continued to run side-by-side some guy to the finish. I wasn't going to let him pass me. He seemed to be finishing strong and I let him pace me and not let me slow down. And I did it. I PR'd. My time was 4:33:28. In September my time was 4:36:16.

  • The volunteers. They were awesome!
  • The weather. The vog that had been around was clearing up before the race. There was a wind but not the worst. Humidity didn't seem too bad either, or perhaps I am getting better used to it and how to hydrate on O'ahu.
  • My family. That they were there for me and did the bottle hand off early in the race.
  • Running. This race was all about being thankful for the ability to run and to trust in God. I had an amazing experience. I loved the race. And P.S., I recovered really quickly.
Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the great running community.
Daily Affirmation: I have hidden greatness inside of me that I can tap into and discover.


  1. Woohoo! Congrats on your PR and I am glad you felt great the whole time:)

  2. Yay! Great report! I'm glad you PR'd it, too. You've really ran well this year! I've been greatly inspired by your dedication. And that brings me to this question (and maybe one for a post): are you going to continue with your runstreak after the year is out? ;) Have to ask!!

  3. Anonymous2:06 PM

    Way to go!!! Congrats on the new PR time :)

  4. Fantastic job! Congrats on a new pr, and feeling so good- you've obviously nailed your nutrition and training.

  5. Once again, congratulations on the new PR.....and your vivid report made me feel like I was right there with you. I may never get the chance to run in Hawaii, but at least I can see it in my mind now....thanks!

  6. YAY! Coongrats on a great race, I hope I feel that way about a marathon someday. Glad it was such a good one, I loved reading your recap.

  7. Congrats on your great race and your PR! I love the Honolulu marathon! It was my first marathon and I came back another five times. I loved reading your report because I could imagine every location. Nice job!

  8. Congratulations on your PR and for finishing strong! I am completely inspired by your posts since I will be running my 1st marathon in May! I look forward to reading more posts from you!

  9. What a great recap! (I'm seriously lacking in blog world, sorry) Your race sounds like it was a great experience and a PR too. Doesn't get much sweeter than that.

    1. I am so glad I am not the only one behind in blog world. :)

  10. Anonymous4:17 PM

    thanks for sharing.

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