12.10.2013

Honolulu Marathon: Race Day

It is so hard to sit still and type this because all I want to do is jump up and down and say, "I did it! I did it! I did it!" I am still super amped and excited and grateful and just so darn happy that I achieved my big goal to break a 4:20 marathon. That goal has been tucked in my mind since my very first marathon, although it bloomed bigger and bigger as time progressed. This year it became a terrible itch I had to scratch. This year after the Maui Marathon I got a coach since I knew I was going to, I had to, I wanted to, take you pick, break a 4:20 marathon in 2013. I wanted it that bad and I knew my training was aligned for it to be the right time. I knew it would happen when it should. I wanted it to happen now.

I had the confidence I knew I needed to succeed but I always had doubts, concerns, worries. To keep this post nice for all genders to read let's just say, Mother Nature tossed me a ball I didn't ever want to deal with on race day and now I had to. I was grumpy with that fact when I woke up race morning. I knew I put in the work to achieve my goal and I didn't want some normal fact of life to stand in my way. Minutes mattered. I didn't have minutes to waste. Or so I thought.

I packed my running skirt with supplies, I packed my vest with fuel, I ate my pre-race meal shortly after 3:00 am. Yes, I even hopped in the shower to rinse off. It helps me wake up and relax on race mornings to take a quick, warm shower. I dressed and dear hubby and I headed out the door to the start. It was a nice walk and a crowded walk. The people seemed to overwhelm dear hubby. To me they didn't matter much. I knew this race was crowded but I was determined to stay in my head and my race. After one final pit stop we made our way to my corral, said our goodbyes, and he moved forward to his. There wasn't long until race start and I liked that.

At 5:00 am the fireworks started and they were awesome. At times the boom, boom, boom could be felt deeply in my chest. I was teary eyed as ever at race starts. I had said my prayers of thanks for this day. I was savoring the journey so far and I put myself and my running into higher hands. I had my faith. I still believed this was my day for my dreams to come true even though I felt doubtful a mere two hours ago. My faith was back.

It took me about 7 minutes to get to the start mat and off I went. It was a weaving course the first mile to get around those who were walking or running much slower than my goal pace. I am sorry I don't know my splits as I had my GPS off (it won't last 26.2 miles) but I do know that my first mile was indeed my slowest at around 11 minutes or so. My pace might have been faster since I was going left, right, left, right, left, right...well, you get the picture.

In the second mile I was slowly getting into my personal zone but still had some weaving here and there. I moved over to the left side of the course knowing aid stations were on the right, I didn't need them with my vest, and this way I could avoid those crowds and a lot of the water and cups. I stayed on this side until shortly after mile 6 when I started to move to the right. I wanted to be far right when we ran up Diamond Head. This was the super crowded section last year and I wanted that yellow tape wiggle room to pass people if I chose to. I did. I passed people left and right. I high fived volunteers as they love to do this along this section. And I ran happy. Towards the end a volunteer commented that I was passing everyone. Well, yes, I was passing people left and right but not everyone. Some others were moving well with me. I followed in their wake at times for clear passage but the thought did run through my mind that "I eat hills for lunch!". I have trained on tougher hills. This was nothing serious. And yes, this course has a couple other minor uphill climbs here and there but for me, nothing too serious.

Mentally I was checking in on my pace here and there but not too often. I knew where I should be at each 5 mile mark and I knew I was ahead of the ball with my race plan. Therefore, I adjusted. I knew I was to be running 9'50" at the start and I feel I was faster than that so I didn't pick up the pace when I was supposed to either. I figured I was closer to that faster pace of 9'30" to 9'40" already so I told myself to maintain my pace.

I don't want to give the impression that this race was easy. It wasn't. I do realize my happiness with my results may be making things look really cool right now but there were tough elements. Boring elements. Long elements. I knew the course map. Dear hubby and I drove it the day before. I knew the boring segments and took the attitude that "it is just 4 miles, I can do anything for 4 miles." I stayed in the moment, in the segment, I was in. City Start. Christmas lights. Waikiki stretch. Zoo. Diamond Head. Highway. Hawaii Kai. Highway. Kahala. Diamond Head. Finish. I feel that made the length easier to digest and miles ticked by nicely.

I had my fueling plan and I was sticking to it. A gel or applesauce every four miles. I started with a gel at mile 4, applesauce at mile 8, gel at mile 12, gel at mile 16, applesauce at mile 20. I had one applesauce I didn't use. I also had my salt tabs, four of them, that I would take based on feel. I knew that head feeling I get when I need the added salt. I took 3 tablets somewhere around mile 7, mile 14, and mile 20. Don't quote me on those since I was taking based on feel. I had diluted sports drink in my vest.

Somewhere around mile 23 or mile 24 I felt some heaviness in my chest. It lasted a split second and my response was to ease up a bit on pace, take a deep breath, and relax. I knew I had this race. I never felt it again even when I picked up the pace again and I really did pick up the pace some more in the final stretch. The end was in sight. I was so happy. I knew I was slamming my goal and getting very close to an unbelievable 4:10. I was grinning ear to ear. I wasn't sure how close I was to 4:10 until I crossed the finish and got my official time. 4:10:18. Thank you God!

I saw a friend, we chatted a moment, and I headed to the showers to grab some water to toss on my face and run down my arms. Other runners were standing or sitting under them. I just took a splash and kept my eyes out for dear hubby. I grabbed a Gatorade and a water and downed the Gatorade immediately. My body always craves sugar right after a long run. A soda would have been Heavenly but no, I didn't have one. Don't get me wrong, I would have grabbed one if they had one. I checked my Honolulu Marathon app and knew dear hubby had finished not too long before me at 3:56. I was slowly moving my way through the runners only area to the exit. He was there and we slowly moved to get our finisher shirts and medals. We stopped by the food and grabbed mini bagels. I took a teeny bite and knew I wouldn't be able to eat it. He didn't like his either and grabbed a malasada. As much as I craved sugar just looking at that sugary donut made me sick to my stomach. I don't tolerate solid foods well after running. I drank water.

After a pit stop and another quick clean up we grabbed some more water and started the walk back to our hotel. That warm down walk I feel is a blessing and a great aid to recovery. I never sat down. Dear hubby did during my pit stop. I kept moving. I know that is best for me. During the walk I remembered I had one last applesauce. I ate it and finished my walk. That was my post-run fueling until we were back at the hotel room. Dear hubby went and grabbed me a coconut water while I showered. I remembered my lilikoi gel treat and savored that with my coconut water and chilled out in bed, warm and happy, until we went for lunch around 1:00pm. I devoured my fruit and turkey sandwich....the fruit was on the side.

It was a beautiful day and I am so thankful for every step of my journey. I feel by working so hard to achieve my goal that it makes victory so much sweeter. I thank God for the gift He gave me. I am thankful for my Dad and his never ending presence whenever I call out to him. I feel he gives me the words of wisdom just when I need them such as "I am here. Just relax. You got this. Keep this pace. No, I am not carrying you, you are just relaxed now." I don't know how to explain it but yes, he is with me running. And so are many of you. I think of you. I think of your comments. I think of your support. And I know I am blessed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this journey with me and for sharing your journeys with me. It is that sharing of information that makes each one of us stronger and more complete. Thank you for being you.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the many blessings in my life.
Daily Affirmation: I am blessed.

12 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Erica!
    I've been reading your blog for sometime, but never commented. You are an inspiration! We have been living in Honolulu since January so I was at the marathon on Sunday. What an amazing crowd! My only regret was not training and running it myself ;)

    My husband was on the cycling team that escorted the wheelchair racers - a highlight of the year for him!

    All in all it was a fabulous race to watch. Congrats on your amazing PR!!

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  2. Congratulations!! You KILLED it!! :)

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  3. Nice job! Running skirt in the winter. Nice!

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  4. Congratulations. I'm so glad you broke your PB. You earned that wwith all your hard work.

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  5. Congrats!!! You have worked so hard! Awesome job. Congrats on shattering your goal!

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  6. Sounds like they were some great views along the route. Congrats on beating your 4:20 goal!

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  7. Congratulations! Hope you're still glowing from the experience.

    Doesn't vanquishing a demon (of sorts) feel great?

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  8. Erica, congrats, what an outstanding job both you and John did. I love how you kept The faith! Love, Yolanda

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  9. Congrats on the awesome PR!!

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  10. Hey chica! any other feedback you have on this race? was it a beautiful course? good expo, post race?

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    1. The expo is big in terms of what I am use to for local races. There are tons of vendors but since we usually fly in the day before the race I don't spend much time walking around checking it out. The course I love! It starts dark with fireworks and after running through the city some you get to run by Christmas lights. The highway portion is long and less aesthetic..just being honest. Once you get to Hawaii Kai it turns a bit more scenic with a residential area but then the highway again. Going back to Diamond Head take 2 is nice with a change of scenery. Maui Marathon may be more beautiful just for the scenery and the highway you run there is not a "highway" per se but I like the Honolulu course better. Post race is confusing your first year if you don't know what to do. You have a long walk from the finish to exit the runners area and make your way across the park to the t-shirts and medals. There are lots of volunteers though to guide you. And for those who love them - the Hawaii favorite malasadas are there to eat. :) And there is entertainment. I will shoot you an email too!

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