Time for a Margarita Half Marathon

I definitely did not feel like having a margarita after this run. The heat really knocked the snot out of me and booze was the last thing I wanted.

The Margarita Half Marathon was originally scheduled for May 3rd in New Hampshire.

Due to COVID-19 the Margarita Half Marathon and 5K were turned into virtual races. I ran my half marathon on July 10th.

May is a great time to run a half marathon in New Hampshire, July is not such a great time to run a half marathon in the Greater Boston Area (GBA).

Running the Margarita Half Marathon 2020

This was my second half marathon in 14 days. On June 27th I ran The Great Bay Half which was postponed from April 5th to a virtual half.

I had Friday off and decided it would be a good day for a half. No matter how  unfit I was or how hot it was, I was going to do it.

At 8:56 AM I set off from Medford headed to somewhere in Cambridge. I had a general idea of where I was going. My sole criteria for a turn around point was the mile 6 mark.

It’s easier to add on distance on the way back. In May I ran a half and ended up walking almost a mile so I could stop my watch at 13.1 miles for my official distance.

Sometimes I learn from my mistakes.

Garmin lists the temperature at 73° F, but that must have been at 8:56 when I started my watch.

As I ran down my street I actually felt pretty good. And that’s unusual. Usually a knee or an ankle makes a few grumbles.

I should have recalled that when things start out well, they often do not end well.

The First Six Miles

I knew it was going to be warm, hot even. Over the past few months my training has been poor.

My only goal was to finish the race through an honest effort. There’s no cheating in virtual racing. At least not for me.

The first two miles got me to the Somerville side of the Mystic River bridge.

This segment, along the Fellsway, was mostly in full sun.

Margarita Half Marathon, virtual halfAfter the bridge I took a right onto Shore Drive towards Blessing of The Bay Boat House. They had the crew of summer work kids out front for their morning brief.

I was glad to see that at least some kids were getting the opportunity to earn a few dollars and learn how to work this summer.

I went under the Rt. 93 bridge and headed south on Mystic Ave/Rt. 38. The on-coming traffic kept me very focused as the sidewalk is narrow here and folks like to fly down this road.

I found a break in traffic and crossed Mystic Ave to run the back side of Foss Park. The pool was full, but the facility was closed.

I chose this route for a little shade.

To avoid the bridge over the rail tracks I went down Broadway to Cross Street and ran through East Somerville up to Washington Street.

I hit Mile 4 just before I crossed The McGrath Highway and headed for East Cambridge.

Eventually I ended up in Kendall Square and headed down Broadway to find my turn around spot.

Margarita Half 2020, Kendall Square
Broadway in Kendall Square

On my way down Broadway I passed a Starbucks. I wasn’t at mile 6 yet but one water bottle was almost empty and I wasn’t even half way yet.

I ordered a Trenta iced coffee on my phone and turned back to Starbucks.

As I approached the door I stopped my Garmin and then stepped into the dark coolness. My drink was being made as I approached the counter, so I only had a minute or so to cool off.

I grabbed a straw and stepped back into the heat.

The Long Road Home

I was now on my way home and short on distance. My watch hit mile six as I walked down Broadway drinking my coffee. Man it was good!

I took a leisurely jog back through Kendall and The Canal District down to Lechemere Station.

My shorts were so wet from sweat and water dripping off of my coffee that for a moment I thought I had a problem!

When it’s  hot and you are sweating, that is a good thing.

I found a trash can on Cambridge Street and tossed in my empty cup. It only took about a mile and 12 minutes to drink the entire cup. And all of the ice had melted.

I pretty much took the same route back to Washington Street and then took a left into the neighborhood.

At this point my quads were exhausted and I was beginning to feel altered.

I checked my running belt for a salt pill, but I didn’t have one. That was a crucial error on a day like this.

My sports drink had some sodium, but I was dripping sweat.

I got back onto Broadway and ran the same route back to Blessing of the Bay Boat House.

Fortunately they had a porta-potty on the grass next to their parking lot.

It was like an oven in there,  but I meant business!

I continued on the bike path next to Rt. 93 and headed for Medford.

I didn’t hit mile 11 until I had crossed The Mystic Valley Parkway and was less than a mile from home.

At this point I was doing a fair amount of walking and experiencing the worse part of what I had anticipated.

Virtual Margarita Half Finish, Virtual HalfWhen I got back into my neighborhood I started going up and down the side streets to get in my distance.

So close to home and I felt like I was running laps!

I managed to jog down my street and stopped my watch before I got to my house.

I was DONE!

I don’t think everyone has run and reported their results yet. But as of my run I was 131 out of 138!

Have you run any virtual races this year? How do you feel about them?

Run well my Friends!

Andy

2019 Race Directory Updates

2019 Race Directory Updates are on-going. Be sure to check back for updates and additions as the year goes on. Have a great 2019 running year and run well my Friends!

As we roll into 2019 I’ll be making Race Directory updates with new dates and hopefully a few new races.

The most popular race directory that I keep is the New England Marathons Fall. I started tracking these marathons in 2015 and last year the post just took off.

Now that winter is officially here I’ll be changing the name to New England Marathons Fall 2019 this week. Not to worry, I will keep the same URL for the blog post. If you have it book marked you won’t have to make any changes.

I’m glad that the Fall Marathons directory became popular and not the Summer Marathons post. Fall has enough marathons in New England to keep things interesting without it becoming a full time job for me.

5K Race Directory Updates

I will also continue to update the 5K race directories for local cities and towns. Just like for the marathon listings, I’ll keep the same URL and change the title only.

Unlike most directories published by the big web sites, I will not inundate you with ads and pop ups. I will mention the My First 5K medal on occasion. Many 5Ks only award the top three runners over all and often age-group winners.

Unlike the corporate web sites, I often speak with the race director. This lets me get dates listed quicker and get the latest updates.

Without all of the ads and clutter, it is much easier to find a race in your town on my directories. Here are two popular listings that I will be updating shortly:

Somerville 5K Race Directory

Cambridge 5K Race Directory

GBA St. Patrick’s Day Races

Most other cities and towns only have a handful of races, so it’s hard to put together much of a listing. I may consolidate some of these other directories into regional directories.

Boston Marathon 2018 Race Weekend

Boston Marathon 2018 Race Weekend

As a GBA local I got to have an entire Boston Marathon weekend experience. On Friday afternoon I got to go to the Boston Marathon Expo and be among the first few thousand people to walk the floor. The vendors were generous with samples and the crowd was just trickling in.

I picked up my race packet and shirt and walked the Expo floor. One of the first vendors I saw was “KT Tape.” There was a small line of people and someone was sitting in the booth talking to people. I thought I recognized the guy.

Meb Keflezighi, Boston Marathon 2018As I looked a second time I saw that he was signing autographs and that it was Meb Keflezighi! He won Boston in 2014, the year after the bombing. He became an instant American hero!

I almost kept walking, but I noticed that the line wasn’t long. It was cool standing in line and watching Meb talk to everyone. He was patient and seemed genuine as he spoke with each person.

Everyone was excited to meet him and had a story to tell. I felt star-struck. When it was my turn to sit with him I tried to explain that I ran in 2014 when he won. When I crossed the finish line they said an American had won, but I didn’t find out who for almost an hour.

I asked if he would sign my Marathon bib, and he wrote a nice note. I was so happy to meet my marathon idol!

BAA 5K

On Saturday I ran the BAA 5K. Nineteen people from my running club also ran. My buddy Derm Cahill dropped his car at my house and we parked at my office in Cambridge. It’s a quick walk across The Longfellow bridge to The Boston Common and Charles Street.

There wasn’t a whole lot to do before the race so we picked up our shirts, went to the bag drop and then to the porta-potty line.

The lines weren’t too bad and moved along quickly. It was a beautiful spring day in Boston and everyone was in a good mood. As we headed to the start area we ran into fellow Melrose Running Club member Regina Curran. She was in line so we spoke briefly and headed towards the start area.

Derm is recovering from a really messed up shoulder injury from last fall! He though he just broke ribs but recently had to get treatment for his shoulder. I had the Marathon on Monday, so neither of us were looking to PR.

As we walked up the sidewalk to a slower corral we kept seeing people moving forward. Many of them did not look like 6:00 pace 5K runners, but that’s where they were heading. We didn’t wait too long before they played The National Anthem and we all stood silently. There were plenty of American flags to look at.

We were in the 9:00 pace group and planned to take it easy. The first group took off and our group began to move up. Instead of stopping us at the line, we just crossed the start as we got there.

The start was still crowded but so much better than starting in Copley Square. There were still people walking three and four abreast. The same people we saw walking forward to the faster corrals. I tried not to get pissed, but I did say a few things mostly under my breath.

We ran out Comm Ave to Charles Gate West and turned around. One of the coolest parts of this race is that we got to take a right onto Hereford and a left onto Boylston Street. As we ran towards the Boston Marathon finish line I could feel my excitement building!

There were very few people around but it was still cool to cross the freshly painted finish line.

As much as we tried to hold back, we failed. Mile one came in at 8:56 which was mostly due to the crowding. Mile two came in at 8:22 and mile three came in at 8:00. Our race average pace was 8:26. Nothing crazy but still faster than we needed to run. The BAA timed us at 8:35 pace and 26:37 total time. Pretty close.

After we got our medals and walked along we found another MRC runner, Michele DiAngelo. We missed just about everyone else.

As we were heading out we met the Tysall family. Charlotte Tysall ran a 20:28 race and she is only 14! She was disappointed not to break the 20 minute barrier. I’m sure she will soon.

Boston Marathon Expo Volunteering

The Melrose Running Club had about twenty people volunteer at The Expo. Most of us did number packet or shirt distribution. Mike Quigley and I volunteered to give directions and information.

We stood a few feet away from the shirt distribution tables, the last required stop before runners headed for The Expo. Since I had walked The Expo on Friday, I was somewhat familiar with the vendors. The also gave us a map and directory.

I think I only sent a few people across the hall to the wrong place. I felt bad but I was a volunteer with a crash course where everything was. Sorry folks!

It was a lot of fun talking to people from all over the world. Some people just needed directions but a few people were asking for running advice.

One guy from California was really concerned with what to wear. I must have talked to him and his wife for ten minutes. Lots of people were looking for any vendor who still had gloves, sleeves or anything water proof.

As I took a walk around the Expo floor to stretch my legs I checked in with a few vendors. The guys at Brooks said they brought everything they had, but the winter season is over so they didn’t have much to sell. Everyone else was sold out also. I found one booth selling headbands. That was it.

The lady who was managing our group of volunteers told us to grab a drop bag. She said that near the end of the Expo many vendors will be looking to get rid of any food items they had left over. She wasn’t kidding.

The Expo ended at 6 PM, but by 4 PM the crowd hid thinned considerably. So around 5 PM I took a walk about. It was like Halloween for a runner. Almost all of the vendors were opening cases and putting out bottles and bars and other samples for us to take. One vendor saw my volunteer credentials and gave me a box of breakfast bars.

Before we left we had to check out and receive our volunteer pin. It was a nice silver BAA logo pin. I had so much stuff to carry that I almost forgot my jacket! They gave us volunteer jackets so a jacket really wasn’t on my mind.

A fellow “information desk” volunteer Wey gave me a ride back to Cambridge to pick up my car. That was awesome as I wasn’t looking forward to the T ride back to Cambridge. He was driving one of the new Teslas. It’s weird not hearing an engine start or run.

A great Boston Marathon 2018 weekend Experience

I had a great time helping out at the Expo, like I always do. If felt great to help runners who were probably a little nervous. To talk to a local person who’s run the race seven times probably helped ease their nerves. I know it would make me feel better to talk to someone who knew a little bit about the race and how things worked.

I also had a great time running the BAA 5K with Derm and running into some of our friends.

With those great experiences I was feeling great and looking forward to Monday. We started following the weather over a week before the race. It didn’t start well and it kept getting worse!

Friday at work we were seeing a 100% chance of rain. Possible gusts up to 40 mph and on-shore winds. On-shore winds come off of The Atlantic and are colder than off-shore winds.

I kept checking the weather on Saturday. It said temperatures would be in the 40’s and maybe 50’s. But the rain was still coming and the on-shore winds were still predicted to gust up to 30-40 mph.

Of course, the weather started getting worse Sunday night.

Check back for my 2018 Boston Marathon recap hopefully tomorrow.

Run well my Friends!

Andy

Medford Long Run

The Melrose Running Club has a Sunday Long Run program for spring and fall marathon runners. In 2017 my marathon was in December and well after the Sunday Long Run program ended.

Without an organized program I had to come up with my own runs and one was the Medford Long Run.

 

Medford Long Run Destination Unknown

I’ve lived in Medford for about 15 years and know the area fairly well.

I also know most of the Melrose long run routes by heart. The challenge for me is stringing the two together. Starting from a different place and running to a familiar space can be disorienting.

I like to visualize my run before I go out. But when I change things up I can find it difficult to string things together. If I imagine one intersection incorrectly I could have an extra long run!

Where was I and how did I get there?

How many times have you been driving and suddenly realize you’ve arrived but don’t recall the journey?

While running it’s easy to focus on your shoes and not notice the surroundings. This is especially true on a long, difficult run. And just like driving, you can finish a run and not recall the turns. Some of this is from the shoe thing and some is from runner’s amnesia. Exhaustion and pain tend to make the mind focus inwardly and blur the world.

Sometimes a landmark gets torn down or painted. Its amazing how differently a street can look from the opposite direction. It’s amazing how different a street looks from your car as apposed to running.

I tend to notice these things more when I’m running, but only if I’m tuned in. It can be disorienting to suddenly realize that some building is gone but not be sure what had been there.

Starting from a different place, I felt disoriented trying to visualize the entire route. I was not entirely sure where I was going!

I was running into the unknown.

Starting the Medford Long Run

Medford-Long-Run, marathon trainingI left from my front door step, ran past the Crystal Campbell Memorial on Riverside Ave and through Medford Square.

From the Square I ran up High Street past the library and St. Joseph’s. At the rotary I stayed left and continued to West Medford down High Street.

In West Medford I crossed the Commuter Train tracks and passed St. Raphael’s.

A lot of West Medford seems out of the 1950’s. The square is full of small shops, there is a train stop and the houses are large early 1900’s style and look to be mostly single family still.

So far so good, I knew exactly where I was.

Medford Long Run Mystic Valley Parkway

At the rotary below the Lower Mystic Lake I took a right onto the Mystic Valley Parkway. As I approached the turn I saw several cyclist turn up the Parkway. This is a great road for cyclists and runners. On the lake side of the road there is a gravel path which isn’t too dangerous to run on.

Just before the turn my watch chimed 3 miles. My average pace was 8:50. I told my self that I would get in at least a 6 mile run now. It was beginning to feel like a run but my pace was still good.

As I ran up the Mystic Valley Parkway I met other runners and several walkers. It was nice to see so much activity in my home town. I even saw an un-manned water stop for The Tufts Marathon Team.

As I got to the end of the Parkway I crossed the street near the Wedgemere commuter rail station and took a right onto Bacon Street.

I was still on my mental map!

Into the Wilderness

I’ve run this area many times and knew where I was. But I was having difficulty visualizing the next turn. I knew how to get home from here, but I wanted to get in more miles before heading home.

At the next rotary I recognized Symmes Corner and knew that I wanted to turn left onto Main Street. However, I still could not visualize my next turn. I took it on faith that I would know which way to go when I got there.

When Main Street split into Main and Washington Street, I went down Washington. I saw a sign for Rt. 38 and knew that went to Medford. It felt like dead reckoning.

At mile 7 I was in the Winchester Highlands. I’ve been here many times and recalled that I never recall the street to turn right onto. Each corner looks the same to me: houses and maybe a business of some kind. As generic as a Florida intersection.

Instead of turning right onto Forrest Street I continued into the Montvale section of Woburn. This is the southern edge of Woburn but the farthest distance from my house. I did not want to get turned around here! While running down this road I saw a sign for Tyngsboro! That caught my attention. Tyngsboro is on the New Hampshire border.

Around mile 7 I took my single gel. At the corner of Washington Street and Montvale Ave I found a Wendy’s and put my empty gel packet into a trash can.

While wandering across the parking lot like a zombie I took out my phone and checked my map. I wasn’t too far off of the beaten path, but I had missed that turn onto Forrest Street. It was time to find the most direct way home. I noticed that my water was well over half gone, but it never occurred to me to go into Wendy’s and get a drink. Too focused on that map!

Medford Long Run Home

All I had to do was turn right onto Montvale Avenue and head for the Stone Zoo. Going down Montvale I had to cross the ramps for Rt. 93, both north and south bound. Fortunately traffic wasn’t too bad and I never feared for my life!

After I ran that gauntlet I decided to check my map again. I recalled seeing a street that cut off some distance, but didn’t recall the name. Fortunately I was on the right corner and turned down Maple Street.

Maple started out okay and then turned into a bitch of a hill. I went up 100 feet in less than half a mile. I wasn’t even sure where I was going and this hill was kicking my ass! What a waste if I got it wrong!

Fortunately Maple ended at Main Street in Stoneham which is also Rt. 28 which goes to Medford. I was feeling a little better.

When I got to the corner I recognized the area and knew to turn right and head south. I didn’t really recognize anything running down Main Street. Then I got to the four-way intersection of Main Street, North Border Road, South Street and Fellsway West.

I saw the Friendly’s on the corner and the Fellsway West right in front of me. I knew where to go.

The Fellsway West has several long slow hills that just burn you up. They’re not steep, they just go on for ever. I knew where I was but had to figure out how to get home.

Normally we take a left at Elm Street off of the Fellsway and hit the last water stop before heading back to Melrose.

I did not want to go to Melrose this time!

As I passed my usual turn I entered very familiar territory. I was now in the Fulton Heights section of Medford and running past St. Francis. This was our parish when my kids were in elementary school.

The Fellsway West comes around the back side of Spot Pond and passes in front of St. Francis. Shortly after passing Fulton Street, mile 13 chimed in at 9:01! Not bad for being this deep into a greater Medford long run.

I wasn’t sure how much further I had to go distance wise, but I knew exactly where I was going. As I made my way down Spring Street mile 14 approached. I was spent and decided to walk after mile 14.

I never planned to run this far in the first place! Just before the turn onto my street mile 14 chimed in at 9:12. Still very good.

I walked the last quarter mile and lengthened my stride to stretch my muscles a little bit. I felt a little funny walking past the neighbors homes in my running kit and, well walking! My shirt was so thoroughly sweat through that the entire shirt was now several shades darker. The uniformity of color probably looked like I hadn’t even broken a sweat.

This was a great run for my training for The Honolulu Marathon and my memory turned out to be much better than I thought.

Run Well my Friends!

Andy

Honolulu Marathon 2017

Hawai’i Dreamin!

On occasion I’ve written about destination races. In 2017 I finally signed up for and ran my first official destination marathon: The Honolulu Marathon!

Hawai’i always seemed too far to travel and has a reputation for being expensive. Lucky for me, my sister recently moved to Hawai’i and I was able to book a reasonably priced flight. So the Honolulu Marathon turned out to be relatively inexpensive. Relatively.

Honolulu Marathon Training

I’ve run enough marathons to respect the distance. You can’t just will your self to complete a marathon. It will break you both physically and mentally. Grown men have been known to cry and I’ve seen more than a few runners hauled off in an ambulance.

As I was starting my training for the Honolulu Marathon the Sunday Long Run (SLR) program was winding down. The last one was October 15th.

Knowing that I wouldn’t have an organized long run each week, my plan was to run half marathons as often as I could.

The last of the SLR runs were 22 and 14.8 miles. One of my top goals was avoiding injury so I skipped those runs and ran the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon on October 1st and the BAA Half Marathon and on the 8th. I ran the last SLR on the 15th and it was 14.05 miles.

Then on October 22nd I did a 14.26 mile run from my house. Getting out of the house by my self was the real challenge for that run.

Four good long runs over four weekends, I was off to a good start.

Then I didn’t run further than 6.6 miles at a time until the Howling Wolf Half on November 12th. That was the first long-distance race of 2017 where I ran under 9 minute miles. Running a 1:53 Half and not being beat up was the confirmation of my fitness level that I needed.

Just the week before, I face-planted at the Friends of the Fells 10K. During the Howling Wolf Half my right hand and wrist still hurt and I had a massive shiner under my right eye. The fact that I was able to run that half marathon confirmed that everything was okay.

On November 19th I ran The Cambridge Half Marathon at 1:56. That race didn’t beat me up too much either and the crowds kept me from going out too fast.

I ran most of the Sunday Long Runs over the summer so picking up my training for a marathon wasn’t that difficult. I was a little heavier than I wanted to be but in fairly good shape.

To avoid injury, I didn’t push my self too hard. I managed just over 100 miles in October and just under 86 miles for November. The first week of December I managed two short runs.

I was happy with 100 miles in October but wanted to get in 100 miles for November also.

For many runners, 100 miles a month is taking it easy. For a casual runner like me it took planning to hit those numbers.

The lesson I learned from this training cycle is that half marathons are a great way to train. While they never go beyond 13.1 miles, I always run harder at a race and I never stop for water or a bite to eat.

The next time I have an off-cycle marathon I plan to run a half marathon each weekend if I can. Four halfs was pretty good, but with better planning I could do a lot more.

Honolulu Marathon Morning

I flew into Honolulu on December 6th. This gave me a few days to acclimate and adjust for the 5 hour time difference.

My sister and I had a few days to tour Oahu and catch up. We haven’t lived in the same time zone for quite a few years.

Honolulu Marathon 2017, Hawaii marathonDecember 7th turned out to be a low key day. To see any of the ceremonies at Pearl Harbor, you had to be at the stadium by 5 AM to be shuttled to any of the ceremonies. While I really wanted to see a Pearl Harbor Day, I was there to run a marathon.

On Marathon day my sister and brother-in-law drove me into town and dropped me off near the start line around 3:15 AM.

The marathon starts at 5 AM and it was supposed to be in the 60s before the race, so I wore an old shirt to keep the “chill” off.

The temperature turned out to be quite comfortable even though I was wearing running shorts and a singlet under that old dress shirt.

The humidity wasn’t bad either. Reports on December 9th predicted a cooler than usual day for the race and possible rain. They also predicted a record finish for the race as well.

I really expected it to be much warmer. It was Hawaii and the race web site had all kinds of warnings about the heat. They even cautioned veteran runners. I guess I was expecting jungle conditions. Starting at 5 AM before sunrise didn’t hurt.

The Honolulu Marathon starts on Ala Moana Boulevard, which in Hawaiian means “path by the ocean.” This phrase is an appropriate description for the entire race course. At the Starting Line is Ala Moana Beach Park, a local recreation area encompassing over 100 acres of park, beaches, swimming and surfing spots.

Honolulu Marathon 2017. Oahu MarathonsMost people took a bus from the Honolulu Zoo to the Ala Moana Park near the start. When I showed up most of those people were still in the park. I found a place to sit on a low cement wall and waited for the start.

The MCs for the event were the anchor from the local TV station and a Japanese woman making the same announcements for the Japanese runners.

As I sat on that wall waiting for the race to start I joked around with the runners next to me. They just smiled and nodded. Before long it dawned on me that they were Japanese and didn’t speak English.

For the past 30 years, Japanese runners have been more than 50% of Honolulu Marathon runners on average. In 1991, 70% of runners were from Japan.

Japan Airlines is the primary sponsor. I am guessing that they sell a travel package to Hawaii that includes the marathon.

Honolulu Marathon 2017, Porta PottiesThis was the 45th running of this race and they were well organized. There were plenty of porta potties and they assigned waves based on self reported finish times.

I was in the third wave behind the elites and the first wave. While I was in a good position near the front of my wave, runners from other waves kept walking past me to the front.

I guess there is no honor among runners with the honor system of self seeding!

As 5 AM approached the announcers kept calling the runners from the park to the start area. It took a long time for the area to fill up. Around 4:15 the announcers told us to clear the road so the wheel chair atheletes could get to the starting line. Around 10 atheletes made their way through the crowd.

Running Honolulu Marathon

Around 4:30 I got in line for the porta-potties one last time. The line was short and moved quickly. I was starting to make my way to my wave as they played The National Anthem. I walked across the grass median to the right side of the road. Somewhere in all the announcements I heard them say the Moana (ocean) side was for the 10K runners and the other side was for the marathon.

While there were a lot of runners in front of me, there must have been 30,000 behind me. The announcer said this was the 4th or 5th largest marathon in America. And I was in the 3rd wave! I’d never get this in Boston!

At 5 AM they announced the start with a volley of fireworks! The elite runners took off and we began to walk forward.

It took about four minutes to cross the start line. Like most big races, it was very congested at the start. A lot of those people walking to the front were not supposed to be there and some of them were walking already.

While Hawaii may be a chill California, I’m from Boston. I tried not to run into anyone but did brush a few shoulders as I squeezed between runners and walkers. I kept my comments mostly under my breath.

Honolulu Marathon Starting Loop

As we ran through downtown Honolulu the fire works continued. We were well into the loop back before they stopped.

In many ways downtown looked like any other downtown. They even had a few pot holes to look out for.

Even at 5 AM there were people cheering us on. Everywhere I looked there was something new to see. Running is a great way to tour a city!

The temperature and humidity were mild, but by mile two I was sweating. I had a 500ml bottle of water with me and took the occasional swig and avoided all of the early water stops.

To keep my self from over-heating even before the sun came up I took off my hat a few times. Occassionally we got a nice breeze off of the ocean. It felt so good!

As we crossed the Ala Wai canal into the Waikiki neighborhood I started to think about sun rise. How hot would it get? Would it rain?

As we approached Diamond Head we took a left onto Monsarrat Ave and passed the Honolulu Zoo. It was a unique experience to be running up that hill in the dark in the warm musky air. We had some elevation gain in mile two in downtown, but at mile 7.5 we climbed 131 feet in about a half mile on Monsarrat Ave.

We only had the left side of the road and volunteers held yellow tape to keep us on one side. I stayed to the right of the pack and managed to keep up with everyone.

Mile 8 came in at 9:24. All my previous miles were in the 8:40 range. I was doing good.

Doesn’t that diagram look frightening? The first big hill is that 131 foot climb around Diamond Head. It was a good climb but I felt very comfortable. Then we had about a mile of downhill with a net loss of 60 feet. The hill at mile 9, after Diamond Head, looks killer also but was actually a net loss of 50 feet. Miles nine and ten came in at 9:00 and 9:04 respectively.

Honolulu Marathon, hawaii, elevation map

Diamond Head, Honolulu MarathonOn the way out we took a left and stayed on Diamond Head Road. This took us behind the extinct volcano and back into residential neighborhoods. Then we took two consecutive rights and went through the Waialae Kahala neighborhood and headed for the H1.

I had envisioned seeing the sunrise as I crested Diamond Head and hearing “Let The Sun Shine” blasting from my internal boom box. Alas, it was all a romantic notion.

We ran around Diamond Head in the dark. When the sun came up around mile 12 there was a bank of clouds on the horizon shielding us from the full fury of the morning sun. It turned out to be a blessing from the cloud gods.

At this point in the race I was carrying my singlet and my shorts were totally drenched with sweat.  While I had two 9 oz bottles with Hammer Head mix on my belt, I was now taking water at the stops. I also took my first kit of salt capsules and Hyland cramp tablets.

When we hit the half marathon mark it was daylight, getting warmer and beginning to feel like a race.

I felt okay and my energy level was still good. I had five Honey Stinger Gold gels with me and had taken two before the half-way mark. It’s always better to fuel early then to hit the wall early.

The H1 just ends and turns into the Kalanianaole Highway. Starting around 11.5 miles, the Kalanianaole Highway ran along the Maunalua Bay. The funny thing about Hawaii is that you can’t smell the ocean even when you are right next to it.

I could see water once in a while, but as we approached the half-way mark I was more focused on my running. Even with a relatively flat course my pace was dropping. My average pace was now around 9 minutes and I was getting worried about hitting my goal.

Honolulu Marathon 2017, destination marathons

Around mile 15 we took a left onto Hawaii Kai Drive which took us through a development that looked like Florida. Lots of water ways, docks and boats. As we made the turn I noticed the line of porta potties.

As we ran through the development my stomach began to really act up. I kept taking water and a little Gatorade once in a while.

My left knee was also acting up and I had to walk some. Mile 17 came in at 9:45. Not good. When we got back to the intersection where the porta potties were, I had to make a stop. Mile 18 came in at 11 minutes even. I told my self I lost two minutes in the porta pottie.

When ever I walk late in a race my muscles always tighten up. I know this and try to avoid stopping. But I had to stop this time. Some things just cannot be avoided.

Between my knee and tightened muscles, mile 19 came in at 10:04.

As we made our way back down Kalanianaole Highway it was now daylight. It had been raining for a while now and it felt good.

I had wrapped my toes in tape to prevent blisters, but something was going on in my right shoe. It felt like something was loose in my sock. Had the tape slipped off? Had I lost a toenail? As I ran I watched the water fling out the front of my shoe and waited for it to turn color. Thankfully it never did.

Mile 20 and 21 came in at 10:54 each. At mile 21 my time was 3:17 and I had 5.2 miles to go. There was no way I was going to run 8 minutes miles to the finish and get my four hour marathon.

Between mile 21 and the finish I had to make two more porta pottie stops. I used my second kit of salt capsules and cramp tablets, but they didn’t seem to help.

My knee hurt, my bowels were in full revolt and I even had stomach cramps. My energy level was typical for this stage of a marathon. This is the time when a runner normally has to muster their courage and inner strength to push on and give their best effort.

When your body has pain that cannot be ingnored and you are worried about shitting your shorts, there isn’t much you can do. Will power cannot over come these issues. I wasn’t going for a gold medal or a big check, so I wasn’t willing or sufficiantly motivated to be that guy running to the finish with shit running down his leg.

Finishing the Honolulu Marathon

I walked most of the hills on the way back. Normally I would have dug deep and passed a lot of runners on those last hills. I’m a pretty good hill runner. My knee was so bad that I even walked some of the down hill. The pounding was just too much.

I did my best to avoid injury while training, but something is going on with my left knee. I knew this when I signed up for this marathon. I used all the tricks I know to minimize issues with my knee, but in the end it wasn’t enough.

I’ve walked a lot of the last few miles of the Boston Marathon before in great pain. Over the years I’ve figured out how to eliminate those pains. This knee pain was something new and something I need to have checked out.

When we hit mile 25, I was that guy walking. So close to the finish, but no way to make a go of it. Every time I started to run I could barely lift my feet and the pain was unbearable.

I made up my mind to walk to mile 26 and then jog to the finish line come hell or high water.

As we entered the Kapiolani Park I started jogging and looking for the finish line. As I got closer I could hear the finish line announcer. We were running along Waikiki Beach, one of the most famous beaches in the world, and I couldn’t have cared less.

The clock had something like 4:43 on it, but I knew that I had crossed the starting matt atleast four minutes after the clock started. I had finished the Honolulu Marathon with my dignity, but I had missed my goal by a wide margin.

I managed to get a cold bottle of water and found the finishers medals and people giving us shell necklaces. The area had lots of temporary fencing, so you had to walk a laborynth to get to the shirts and malasadas.

One of the many cool features of this marathon is that you did not get a finisher’s shirt untill you finished the race. Why give shirts to people who havn’t even crossed the starting line?

The malasadas are a local donut and sometimes have a fillling.The one I got was hot, greasey and covered in granulated sugar. Perfect! I could have gone back for another but there wasn’t any filling and I was worried about how the grease would effect my stomach.

It was one of the best damed donuts I’ve ever eaten. But I knew better. When I was making my final approach I was thinking more about finding a porta pottie than I was about getting water. I even worried about throwing up. It was that bad.

I knew that my sister and her family were somewhere in the park, but I was too busy to check my phone. I finally wandered out of the park and ended up sitting on a bench in front of the Starbucks at Waikiki Beach. When I tried to tell her where I was the street names looked the same to me and I couldn’t make them sound different when I read them outloud. It was like I was totally hammered.

I was on the corner of Kalakaua Ave and Kapahulu Ave. I just couldn’t make those words sound different when I said them.

I finally told her I was in front of the Starbucks. Soon enough I could see them walking towards me.

They had parked in a garage just a block or so away and the walking was good for me. I still didn’t have a shirt on and I didn’t really care. I wasn’t bleeding and that was the important thing.

Honolulu Marathon, Waiola Shaved Ice, Hawaii Five-0We drove to Waiola Shaved Ice which is supposed to be the best one on Oahu. It’s so popular that the show Hawaii Five-0 actually shoots street scenes there.

The owner told us that he had run the Honolulu Marathon a few years ago. We had a few laughs but no comp for my shaved ice on ice cream.

It was delicious and cold.

Hopefully I didn’t horrify my nieces with my flabby middle-aged gut.

Out of 20,350 finishers, I came in 3,038. In the Mens 50-54 group I came in 277th out of 1,204. All things considered, that’s not a bad finish. FULL RESULTS.

4,283 runners finished the 10K. Nine athletes completed the wheelchair division marathon.

I could write another 5,000 words about my trip to Hawaii and my time with my sister’s family. I will always have so many great memories from this trip. It was a moment in time.

Mahalo and run well my Friends!

Andy