I started the year off with The Hangover Classic 10K in Salisbury, MA. Over the past 10 years, I’ve run this race seven times. One year I ran the 5K with my daughter, another year I ran another race.
Getting 6.2 miles under your belt on January 1st is a great way to start the year.
There are a few races I run almost every year like The Hangover Classic, but I like to mix things up.
A few times in 2019 I gave away my registration due to unforeseen conflicts. Over the years I’ve been the recipient of such generosity.
A few years ago I had to pass on to a colleague a Boston Marathon charity bib with the fundraising obligation covered! That’s like a Willie Wonka golden ticket! Who hasn’t seen an Umpa-Loopa somewhere out there on Comm. Ave?
BAA 10K Running Streak
The BAA 10K is my only streak race. I’ve run each one since they added this race in 2011. My goal is to keep running this race until I can’t run anymore.
It’s a great 10K that starts on The Boston Common, runs out Comm Ave to the BU Agganis Arena and turns around.
Held the 3rd Sunday in June, it’s usually hot. Sometimes blazing hot. A few years ago in poured cats and dogs right up until the race started and then turned into a sauna. Steam was rising off of the pavement!
It’s a massive race with well over 5,000 runners. There are so many runners that they start the race in waves. I’m not sure if they did this early on but the race has become very popular.
Two Marathons for 2019
I was fortunate enough to get a 2019 Boston Marathon charity bib again. This was my ninth time running Boston over the past 17 years.
Between work and laziness I didn’t do all of the training that I should have. My training went pretty well and I had a decent 20 mile long-run. Better than some of my previous year’s 20 milers.
I ran Boston on April 15th and finished in 4:14:56. Excepting for 2018, this was my slowest Boston in five years. 2018 was 4:46:20 but we had horizontal rain the entire way and no one set any world records that year.
In November I traveled to Philadelphia with two friends to run The Philadelphia Marathon. While not my first destination marathon it felt like it.
Leading up to Philly I ran five half marathons for training. All of them felt pretty good and were well under two hours. The relative success of these comfortable halfs had lulled me into complacency.
But experience kept reminding me to respect the distance and that you get back what you put in.
Philly is a great marathon and I’d encourage anyone to run it. It is a big city marathon but doesn’t feel as big or produced as Boston.
The weather was cold, it rained the last hour of my run and I did not execute well.
My finish time was 4:21:09. I had hoped for 4 but deserved nothing better than 4:30. So no complaints on my finish time.
2019 was the third year in a row that I’ve run two marathons. I hope to keep that streak alive in 2020.
Goals set and Goals missed
The closest I’ve come to running 1,000 miles was in 2014. I ran 977.82 miles over 123 runs including three marathons.
When you have three marathons on your calendar you do a lot of training. By the time my third marathon came around, The Baystate Marathon, a certain amount of joy of the run was missing. I ran my 2nd fastest marathon at Baystate – 3:49, two minutes off my previous year’s finish.
That same year I ran one of my most magical races, The Bay Of Fundy International Marathon. I went with my oldest sister and we ran into friends of hers, went to the runner’s dinner and met a physics student from Heidelberg. He had hitch-hiked from Boston and was Air BnBing on someone’s couch. Everyone in town knew him!
He didn’t have a ride back to Boston, so I drove him. We spent the night at my sister’s and I think he had a great experience with us Americans. I dropped him off at North Station so he could get to Syracuse University for some physics experiments.
2019 was my 2nd highest miles run. So having a goal, even without three marathons, helped me.
Over the past seventeen years, I’ve had a variety of injuries. These effected the number of miles I ran and my speed.
Runners are always learning and avoiding injury and recovery is probably the most important lesson to learn.
My knees bothered me so much in 2018 that I consulted with an orthopedist and had PT. By the end of the year I was well enough to run Honolulu and improve my finish there by almost eleven minutes.
In the past, if I had inflammation I’d take the maximum dose of ibuprofen. And I’d do this for months at a time.
In 2018 I stopped that and began to use spices with anti-inflammatory properties. It may sound crazy but I ran Honolulu in December 2018 and didn’t have any significant running issues in 2019.
Looking back on 2019 that seems pretty remarkable to me. I probably took 5 ibuprofen all year and those were for headaches.
Food as medicine is real.
In 2018 my sister also turned me onto Arenica gel. It’s a topical anti-inflammatory and it seems to work. When ever my knees or IT bands are sore I rub that gel on and the pain and tightness goes away.
You can get in at any pharmacy and it’s relatively inexpensive. Best of all, it doesn’t mess with your liver or kidneys.
The biggest lesson that I’ve learned over the past 17 years is consistency.
It’s better to run shorter distances five times a week instead of two long runs. You’re more likely to get injured running two long runs. And the ease of shorter runs helps keep the motivation level up.
When setting a goal such as 1,000 miles or 3 miles per day, consistency is also important.
I was within 50 miles of my goal early in December. I could have pushed hard and hit my goal but I would have risked injury. I had too many other obligations and I just had to let it go.
This is similar to running a race. There is always a point in a race where I question how much I want it. I tell my self I didn’t train for this race, didn’t train enough period. I’m just running for fun.
Those moments of doubt and hesitation can be the difference between a PR or achieving an incremental goal and just another finish.
Large goals like 1,000 or 1,095 miles need to be chunked and each chunk needs to be met. Otherwise, you end up in December with the goal within sight but out of reach.
I didn’t reach my goal for 2019 but I learned a few things, and I’ll take that.
The 2019 Philadelphia Marathon was a destination race for me. State number six of 50! It was cold and wet, but not as bad as Boston in 2018!
The Philadelphia Marathon was a destination marathon for me.
At age 55 I still hold onto the dream of running a marathon in all 50 states. Pennsylvania was my sixth state.
Friends have run Philly and had good things to say about it, so why not? I’m not getting any younger!
The 25th Philadelphia Marathon for 12,985 registered runners. The official results show that 10,061 runners completed the course.
At the Expo Bart Yasso mentioned that he had run the marathon in the 80’s. It had either been discontinued for a few years or held in a different location for a few years. We didn’t get the details on that.
Philadelphia Marathon Weekend
Like all big city marathons, Philadelphia makes it a weekend event.
The Expo opened on Friday with meet and greats with Meb Keflezighi and Desiree Linden. Meb and Desi also participated in discussions moderated by Bart Yasso on Friday and Saturday.
Bart and Bill Rodgers also spoke on Friday and Saturday on “Marathon Running Over the Years.”
Three Olympians with six Boston Marathon wins between them!
I registered for the Philly Marathon on June 10th and planned to go with Durm Cahill and Mike Sikkema.
We made hotel reservations and bought train tickets. Then about four months ago Durm got broke.
On one of his long runs he torqued his hip and barely ran all summer. Everything was paid for, including the marathon and he had to take a pass. It just wasn’t going to happen.
About two weeks before the race another friend Jose Viveiros heard us talking about the marathon and Durm offered him his number. It was totally last minute.
Jose has had his own health issues over the summer and wasn’t really in marathon shape. He’s more of an Utra guy and I guess those are quite different than a marathon.
We met at South Station in Boston for the six-hour Amtrak ride to Philly.
Mike put in some good training over the summer but didn’t feel fully prepared. I ran most of the Sunday Long Runs and then used half marathons on most weekends for my long run training. Jose hadn’t really done much distance training in a few months.
Mike was shooting for a 3:05 finish but didn’t feel like that was going to happen. Jose just wanted to finish before the six-hour cut-off. I was hoping for four-hours but knew that 4:30 was more likely.
We had fun talking and watching the cities and towns go by. It was a very comfortable ride.
We stayed at The Notary which was only about five minutes from Union Station. The building was the former City Hall Annex which was built in 1926 and turned into a hotel in 1986(?) by Marriott. In the deal with the city Marriott kept many of the historic details.
It was a great location and not just another hotel.
Hanging and Chillin in Philly
Mike lived in Philadelphia for a few years and Jose had hoped to do some sight seeing.
We arrived in Philly late in the afternoon and took a short cab ride to our hotel.
I made the reservation for three adults and requested a roll-away bed. When we arrived the roll-away was not on the reservation and it took several hours and two requests to get it delivered.
While the guys waited in the room, I got in a much needed 3.2 mile treadmill run. My taper had been quite severe!
After I showered and changed and the bed arrived we headed out for dinner. We were up for an adventure, but needed to save our legs. We ended up eating at a sports bar down the street from the hotel. The food was really good. I had one beer and helped Jose finish his.
On the way back we stopped at a 7-11 for some food for the room.
We got to bed around 10PM but Mike and I woke early. Mike went out for a five mile run and I took a shower. Jose got up after Mike showered and we headed for the Expo after Jose showered.
Philly Marathon Expo
Saturday morning we headed for the Expo. Durm and I had paid the $20 fee to have our packet mailed to us. When we registered travel arrangements were unknown. Mike needed to get his packet.
It was a short walk to the Convention Center in the crisp fall air. Mike got his packet quickly and we started walking around.
The Boston Marathon Expo is packed. Those vendors pay a small fortune to be there and they get about 40,000 runners and friends looking for cool stuff.
The Philadelphia Marathon Expo was more like the Honolulu Marathon Expo. Honolulu had about a third of the vendors of Boston. Philly had about the same space as Honolulu, but there were empty booths!
We got there around 10AM so all vendors should have been in place. The vendors that were there didn’t have many hand-outs. We all love free samples.
We did stumble upon Meb Keflezighi and Desiree Linden’s presentation at 10:35. I really wanted to see them speak and it turned out to be worth it.
Both of them are so humble and normal and they have both reached the highest heights of our sport.
Meb talked about growing up literally dirt poor in Eritrea. No running water or electricity and they ate dirt sometimes. Just to survive.
In six months he learned Italian when they finally made it to Italy. Eventually they made it to The United States and pursued The American Dream.
One day in gym class the gym teacher had them run a mile. The winner got a t-shirt and a medal. Meb ran something like a 5:20 mile and the gym teacher told him that he was going to The Olympics!
Meb didn’t know what The Olympics were, but he wanted that t-shirt and the medal!
Desi talked about loosing The Boston Marathon by two seconds! Instead of being defeated, she used that memory to win the 2018 Boston Marathon.
She told us how she almost dropped out of the 2018 Boston Marathon because she didn’t feel it that day. We all felt the pride when she won the race less than two hours after that moment of doubt!
I have to tell you that when Meb was telling his story, my eyes were not dry! He has such gratitude for what this country has given him. And he gave us Boston in 2014.
The three of us loved their talk.
After the Expo we headed to Reading Market for lunch. We tried to get in Friday night, but they closed at 6PM.
Mike got a Philly Cheese Steak and I got some of the best ribs eva! Jose got a smoothy. We headed back to the hotel to eat and hang out.
When room service showed up we were laying on the beds watching TV with our feet up. We had to explain that we only needed more coffee.
Later we went to Mariano’s for dinner and then went to 7-11 and Dunkin Donuts for race day supplies.
Running The Philadelphia Marathon
We got to bed around 10PM but we all woke up several times during the night. Around 3AM I gave up and started checking my email and the weather.
It looked like the rain would hold off until after or late into the race.
By 5AM we were all dressed and ready to run. Since we were so close to the start, Mike and I didn’t leave until 6AM. Jose headed over after us.
The security seemed tighter than Boston. We had to take off our stuff and walk through a metal detector. I used magnets to hold my bib on and they didn’t set off the machine.
The entire start area was dark and chaotic. We made our way through a lawn of mud to UPS trucks for the bag drop. Good idea for the trucks, poor idea for their location.
Then we looked for porta-potties inside the perimeter, but most of them were outside of the start area! WTF! What genius decided to separate runners from the porta-potties?
We managed to find about 10 tucked off to a side. Fortunately the line moved along. As we got our shot, Mike had five minutes to his start. I was a few corrals back and had an extra 10 minutes.
I didn’t see Mike until I got back to the hotel!
I headed for my corral through the sea of chaos. I found an opening in the barricades and made my way to my group. About five minutes before the start I started my watch.
As the group before us left, we moved up and then they started us. It was freakin cold!
I was on the wrong side of the road, but Meb was on the announcers platform giving high-fives as runners went by! How awesome is that!
The first two miles were packed and wound through the historic district. We passed the US Mint and close by the National Constitution Center. At about 2.5 mile we turned right to run along the river at “Race Street Pier.”
We ran along the water front for about a mile and turned right near the US Coast Guard Station. We looped back and ran about half a mile to “Head House Square” where we turned left onto South Street.
South turned right onto 6th Street. As we ran passed the Mother Bethel AME Church I heard this pumping, gospel, R&B, funk music pulsing through the air.
I was waiting for “Cool and The Gang” to break into “Celebrate Good Times” but it was the church choir with a drum kit and a popping bass line that made me want to dance! They kept repeating “God is in you”.
I don’t know about god, but that popping beat got the groove into me! It was awesome.
Just past the church we hit mile five and my average pace was 8:50. Just where I wanted to be.
At about 5.25 miles we turned left onto Chestnut Street and began an almost two mile run to cross the Schuylkill river. We hit mile seven just before the bridge and my average pace was 8:41. A little too fast.
After we crossed the river we started to hit the hills. Mile eight gained 67 feet and mile ten gained 100.
Mile eight ran through The University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. We hit mile nine in The Philadelphia Zoo.
In Honolulu we ran past the zoo but the Philly Zoo had a much stronger odor. And we spent more time in proximity.
After The Zoo we ran through The Central District and hit those 100 feet of elevation gain. It was beginning to feel like a run!
Miles 11 and 12 wound through Fairmount Park. I had finished one of my bottles and was dipping into the second one. I began to take water at the stops and was happy to get a gel out here.
After mile twelve we ran along the river again until we reached the MLK Bridge to cross the river at mile 14.
At mile 13.1 they had a timing mat, but no special signs or anything.
My goal was to hold onto a 9:00 minute pace until the half-way mark and my watch said I still had that pace as I crossed the mat.
I knew that this was an overly ambitious pace and I knew it was going to slip away from this mile on. It was beginning to feel like survival time!
A marathon doesn’t really begin until twenty miles have been run. But on this day 13.1 was where my race began. The care-free tourist miles were behind me. It was time to get down to work.
I had done what training I could and was now paying for too much time at my desk and not enough long runs.
After we crossed the MLK Jr Bridge we headed up the north shore of the Schuylkill River towards the hair-pin turn around. For some reason I thought it was a mile or so up to the turn.
It turned out to be about seven miles! When you think something is a mile away and it turns out to be seven miles away and can really mess you up!
Over those seven miles we had about 200 feet of elevation gain and 140 feet decline. Lots of rolling hills.
I was enjoying the scenery as much as possible. Pennsylvania is different than Massachusetts. The houses, businesses and names on those businesses often are different than what I see daily.
When you run somewhere new you should take in as much as you can. Running is a great way to see a lot of an area, even if your feet hurt!
All the way out to Manayunk, PA I took water and often Gatorade at the stops. I even did some walking!
I tried to keep running until the turn but I wasn’t sure where the hell it was.
At some point the lead runners started passing us and then the lead of the heard started passing us on their way back.
I knew that if I saw Mike he was having a rough day and if I saw Jose, I was having a rough day. I didn’t see anyone!
About a mile before the turn I saw a house under construction with a porta-potty out front. The official ones were blue. This one was brown and white.
The official ones always had a line and for some reason I felt waiting in line would kill my time!
I ran to the left side of the road, saw that the handle was green and went in. It was reasonably clean but I was a stinking mess anyway.
As I sat there I heard people yelling and it seemed like someone pulled on the door. But it was the gusting wind trying to pry the door open.
I pulled myself together and managed to avoid dropping anything. Unlatching the door, I ran back into the race like nothing had happened. I never even noticed if anyone said anything or even looked my way. I was on a mission.
The Second Half of Philly
We hit the turn around in Manayunk at about 20.5 miles. There was a small crowd at this turn. Not as many as I expected. But what was I expecting?
Mike said a guy in front of him had slipped on a man hole cover at the turn and he grabbed a-hold of a sign post to swing himself around!
I just did a sloppy turn and felt grateful to be heading east. Philly was somewhere down that freakin road.
As I ran along I realized that we were now past mile twenty and there was less than a 10K to run. But could I?
I was out of juice. Nothing hurt beyond what one would expect from running over three and a half hours.
I had fueled properly, but it wasn’t enough. My cardio conditioning just wasn’t up to par.
Even though I did not need them, earlier in the race I had been taking deep breathes. When I am out of shape sometimes I experience shortness of breathe.
To avoid this, I do deep breathing.
Now it was an essential part of my finishing this race. The last thing I wanted was to visit a medic station or to get hauled off of the course. A fate worse than death!
I jogged, walked and ran the best I could the rest of the race.
My four-hour race was out of the question. Now it was just a question of getting in under 4:30.
I felt that it was possible, but I had to be careful and manage every step.
After the turn around the thought popped into my head, “I took a dump in Many-yunk” I laughed out loud with the little breathe I had to spare. That pit stop was a necessity and it kept me laughing!
At several places people had Dixie cups of beer. Even just a little beer seems to give me lead legs.
At mile twenty-five my legs were beyond lead. A group of Canadians were giving out beer, so I took one. It only had two swallows in it, but it was some of the best beer I’ve ever had.
The beer didn’t effect me at all.
I was aware of my muscles contracting and swelling with each step. Each step forced more blood into my muscles and my legs felt like they were bulging.
Getting to mile twenty-three was a relief. We only had 5K to go. Anyone can run 5K even a guy whose legs felt like plump sausages could do it.
I just had to do it. I walked some, I ran some and I jogged some.
The world closed in around me and I didn’t pay much attention to anyone or anything. All I wanted to do was put one foot in front of the other and hope that the back foot would continue to come off of the ground and land in front of the other. That’s all I wanted. Simple stuff.
It seemed like all of a sudden the crowd grew and I could hear the finish line announcer. Even though I now knew that the turn around was seven miles out, it still hadn’t clicked that this meant there were only five miles to run to the finish line.
And I had run almost all of them. I was coming to the finish line!
Somewhere near the finish my friend Courtney Koschei took this photo.
When you are this close to a finish, you have to run.
I ran 26.55 miles somehow and my last 0.55 mile was at a 10:25 pace.
Nothing special, but better than the previous six miles!
I just really flamed-out the last five or six miles.
Running so many half marathons lulled me into complacency. There is a reason that half marathons are the most popular distance.
I can probably run a half marathon every weekend for a year and feel pretty good during the week.
As I crossed the finish line, I didn’t feel pretty good. It had been raining the last hour or so, it was getting colder and the wind had picked up. Conditions deteriorated considerably.
A guy rolled out a Mylar sheet for me and helped me get it over my shoulders. A few steps further on a lady put the medal around my neck. Even before this someone gave me a 500ml of water which I sucked down in three guzzles.
I made a B-line for the UPS trucks and got my drop bag. All it had was my fleece which I promptly put on. Then I headed for the Deitz & Watson tent for a hot sausage. They were all out! WTF!
They were a major sponsor of the race and they ran out of food? I was far from the last person to cross the line. I felt bad for the 5,6 and 7 hour runners.
The weather was getting bad and the hot food was gone. Brilliant.
I asked about the beer tent and immediately decided it wasn’t worth the effort.
At this point I looked for a way out of the finish area and headed for my hotel.
Not exactly a festive finish area. I’d say it was more than a bit of a let down. Boston is stingy with their post race food, but this was beyond the pale. A bottle of water? Come on!
As I hobbled back to the hotel the rain turned into wet snow! This went on for about ten minutes, all the way back to the hotel.
Apre Philadelphia Marathon
When I got to the hotel, Mike had already showered and packed. Before I headed for the shower Jose showed up. He ran much better than the six hours he had expected.
We didn’t have a lot of time to be tourists or even get something to eat.
We were checked out by 2:30 and in a cab to the train station.
Normally I can eat and drink all kinds of beer after a race. This time I just wasn’t hungry and had to force my self to drink water.
The train wasn’t full so we had room to get our own double seats and stretch out a bit. Being able to walk around on the train was nice also.
When we got to South Station I called an Uber and the guys headed for The Red line. As I was headed for my Uber they came out of the Red Line. They needed to take a shuttle bus to the ext station. Gotta love The T!
Philly had a few issues in the start/finish area, but I would recommend this race if you are looking for a Pennsylvania marathon.
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:
It’s time for the 2018 year end review and a look towards 2019.
Well, it’s that time of year again. I’ve seen a few 2018 End of The Year reviews by other bloggers and thought I better get mine written before we start talking about spring marathons!
2018 Running Review
I actually ran fewer racing miles in 2018 than I did in 2017. 186.4 vs 203.2 miles.
It seemed like a busy year and I didn’t expect to see fewer miles at the end of 2018. On a few occasions people would say, “didn’t I see you at a race yesterday” or “didn’t you just post on Facebook at another race” or “do you run every weekend?”
Usually the answer to those questions was yes!
In April I ran the BAA 5K on April 14th and The Boston Marathon on April 16th. I ran 5Ks on both April 21 and 22. I ran a 5K on Saturday and then a Half-Marathon on Sunday on September 29/30 and October 27/28.
On September 3rd on Labor Day Weekend I ran the A Run For Gratitude Mr 8K in Boston and then drove to Malden and ran Irish American 10K. It was blazing hot that day and I had a touch of heat stroke that weekend. Not fun.
I posted from The Boston Garden about the Martin Richard 8K and when I got to Malden a few people asked if I was just in Boston. Even with the heat stroke, that was a fun day.
Over several stretches I raced every weekend for three weeks in a row. Several times I ran two races on those weekends also.
Then I didn’t race from July 15th to September 3rd. I do a lot of events for my job over the summer which makes racing difficult.
It seemed like a busy running year, but I was busy with work and family also.
Injury and Recovery
In 2017 my injuries didn’t act up until The Eastern States 20 Miler in March. I felt a twinge in my left knee in the first five steps of that race. By the end of the race my knee was okay but I was totally wiped out.
Throughout the rest of 2017 my knee bothered me but I was able to work through it. For many 5K and 10K races I was able to run under an 8 minute pace.
I developed swelling on the inside of my left knee. I got checked by an orthopedist and my PCP and neither one thought it was anything to be concerned with. I was able to run and an x-ray didn’t show any problems.
The swollen area didn’t hurt and what ever was under the skin was solid. I never did see my x-ray but the doc said I didn’t have anything to worry about.
The knee pain and swelling lingered into 2018. I ran The Great Stew Chase 15K in January at a 10:36 pace. In April I ran the Boston Marathon at a 10:55 pace even in the wind and rain.
As 2018 progressed my knee hurt less and by October the swelling started to go away. I’m not sure what happened. I didn’t take anything for it or change my routine very much. But the swelling is almost all gone now.
Even with the recovery I didn’t run many 5Ks at a less than 8:00 pace. For most of the year I felt slow and out of shape.
Finishing 2018 on a High Note
On September 30th I ran my first of three half marathons in 2018. I hadn’t trained very much and still felt like a walking box of lard. But something happened during that race.
I started slow and planned to take it easy. The early miles went well and I fueled early and hydrated well. By mile eight I hooked up with another runner and we killed the last five miles.
Our pace increased each of the last three miles and we basically sprinted the last two miles. I’ve never finished a half marathon feeling so strong. It was The Smuttynose Rockfest Halfwhich I’ve run before and always felt destroyed at the finish line.
My time was 2:00:29 which was faster than my 2017 time, but not particularly fast for me.
What was so great is that I felt in control. I always try to have a plan and run the plan, but this time I blew away the plan and ran very well. It still makes me feel good just thinking about that race.
The next weekend I ran the BAA Half, ran my plan and had a good race. Three weeks later I ran The Howling Wolf Half at an 8:55 pace on a more challenging course.
I wasn’t sure what was going on but I felt healthy and I was running strong.
On December 9th I ran The Honolulu Marathon for the second time. In 2017 I crashed and burned on this course. My pace was 10:34 due to five pit stops and plenty of walking late in the race. My knees were bothering me after 18 miles or so. Everything just went wrong.
I had prepared to run in the Hawaii heat, but apparently not enough.
For 2018 I didn’t train particularly hard. October and November were both about 70 mile months. Nothing crazy.
But during those late year half-marathons I started fueling early. I also started paying a lot more attention to my pace. I always like to be in control, but I was on top of it now. I had my shit in tight little baggies aka I got my shit together!
When I got to Honolulu I wasn’t sure if this was going to work. I prepped last year and still fell apart.
In 2018 I really discovered how important it is to know the course. I knew the first hills came about the 10K mark. I knew not to push the early hills and I kind of knew where the hills were.
I ended up making one pit stop because my pre-race routine got screwed up. At one time I tried to walk but my legs wouldn’t let me.
I ran all of the hills on the way back and cruised down the last hill to the finish.
After the race, besides chaffing, nothing really hurt. My sister even said she could hardly tell that I’d just run a marathon. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that good after a marathon.
My finish time was 4:26:42 or a 10:10 pace. They only give you a finisher’s medal for that time, but I beat my 2017 time by almost 11 minutes!
I have no idea what is going on. I feel good and I’m running well.
2018 is ending on a high note and I have no explanation.
2018 Year End Review Numbers
What running year end review would be complete without a few numbers?
Total Races Run – 26 Total Racing Miles – 186.4 Total Runs – 121 Total Miles – 789
My total runs and miles were up a bit from 2017, but not by a lot.
My only PR was a new Hawaii Marathon PR by 11 minutes. I’m hoping to set a 10K or half-marathon PR in 2019.
I set goals, I don’t set resolutions.
My first goal is to run 12 half-marathons in 2019. I’ve already signed up for seven, so I’m well on my way.
My second goal is to run a total of 1,000 miles both training and racing. I did a few training runs from my house in 2018. If I can do this more frequently in 2019, 1,000 miles should be achievable.
My third goal is to add another state where I’ve run a marathon. Running Boston again would be great, but I’m not counting on it.
What are your goals for 2019?
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Run well my Friends!
The 2018 Honolulu Marathon was a great run on the beautiful island of Oahu. Coming from a cold climate, there can be challenges running in the Hawaiian heat. Read my full race recap.
I can’t believe that I’ve run The Honolulu Marathon twice! When I ran this race in 2017 I thought it was a once in a life time experience. Much like my first time running The Boston Marathon.
It was my great fortune to have the opportunity to stay with my sister and her family in Honolulu again, and run this tropical marathon two years in a row.
The Road to Honolulu
After October, organized marathon training pretty much ends in my area. For those of us running a November or December marathon, we are pretty much on our own as far as training goes. Occasionally a small group will get together for a Sunday long run, but not often enough.
In 2017 I ran four half-marathons between October 1st and November 19th as part of my training program. It’s much easier to run that distance and push hard when it’s a race. In 2017 I felt like I needed more training and this year I felt the same.
In 2018 I only managed to get three half-marathons into my schedule. All summer and into the fall I felt out of shape and unmotivated. Then I ran the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon on September 30th.
My plan was to run 9:30 splits and see what happened. It wasn’t until about the 10K mark that I began to feel confident and began to push myself.
I ended up running 8:45 and 7:38 the last two miles and crossed the finish line feeling great. My finish time was just over two hours but I felt like I had won the race! I’ve never accelerated my pace at the end of a race like that.
My average pace ended up being 9:11 which was much better than I had hoped for. After the race I drove to the airport and attended a conference for the next week.
When I returned, I ran the BAA Half Marathon and finished in 1:58 or a 9:04 pace. The BAA course is much more challenging than The Smuttynose, so I was further encouraged.
Three weeks later I ran The Howling Wolf Half and did pretty well also. This course is even more challenging than the BAA course and I ran the first six miles with a friend who was not feeling well.
My finish time ended up being slower than my 2017 time, but I knew why. There weren’t any surprises and there wasn’t anything to fix.
In 2017 the hills in Honolulu knocked me out. The elevation gain was only about 100 feet for each hill, but I was running in 80° heat. After adjusting to the cold of Boston, my body was not prepared for that type of heat.
This year, to prepare for those hills I ran the Middlesex Fells Way hills twice. And I ran them in both directions. The first run was about 8 miles and my second run was around 12. I think that these hill runs helped me with The Howling Wolf Half and in Honolulu this year.
My last run before Honolulu was our Tuesday Night Club Run. It was only about 6.2 miles. After the run I felt like the run had been too short, my training too lax and I felt very confident in my ability to run The Honolulu Marathon. Go figure!
I arrived in Honolulu two days before the race. Walking through the airport I could feel the heat and humidity. I hoped that I had packed the right gear to run in these conditions.
While I had avoided any weight gain over Thanksgiving and was close to my goal weight, I still felt like a walking box of lard. There were moments when I thought I was going to do a tourist run for the fun of it. I was in Hawai’i, there was no turning back now.
Running The Honolulu Marathon
I awoke around 2:45 or 7:45 Eastern time. I was dressed already and doing a final gear check when my sister and brother-in-law got up at 3AM. I had a quick cup of cold coffee and part of a rice bowl I had saved from the day I arrived. For some reason I seem to run better on rice than I do on any other carbohydrate.
They dropped me off around 3:30AM and I walked down the street to the start area on Ala Moana Boulevard.
Since I ran the race in 2017, I assumed I knew where things were. Last year there were all kinds of porta-potties on the island side of the canal in Ala Moana Park and not a lot of runners hanging around at 3:30AM. This year all of the porta-potties were on the ocean side of the canal.
After walking all the way to the last bridge over the canal, race volunteers told us we could not go over that bridge. No explanation and the people with me did not speak English. I turned around and hustled to the next bridge cursing the race organizers the entire way. Not only were the facilities not where they should have been, but I couldn’t even get to them in their maximally inconvenient location. I was pissed and it wasn’t even 4AM yet!
When I got to the next bridge I encountered yet another cluster fuck. The bridge was too narrow to accommodate runners trying to move in both directions. As I made my way across the bridge something inside me jumped around as the lines came into view. Lines! WFT! There weren’t any lines last year at this time when the porta-potties were where they were supposed to be. Why the hell had they changed this?
My plan hinged on getting into one of these dark closets at least once and preferably twice before the race. Now I wasn’t sure I’d get through the line once.
My pre-race routine is very specific and any disruption can really screw me up.
When the door finally opened for me I saw a disgusting mess like I’d never seen before. The urinal was almost full and I could see toilet paper piled up in the toilet. What The Fuck! And when the door closed I had to deal with this shit in the dark.
The lines were too long to try another porta-potty. We only had about 20 minutes to the start, so I had to go with it.
I carefully took a seat and realized that both rolls of TP were empty! Let me say it again, WTF! This is not how I wanted to start my day. Fortunately there was half a roll sitting next to the toilet.
When I went to use it I could see in the faint light brown splotches on the roll. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me, I thought as I unraveled a large wad in an attempt to avoid the shit. How bad could it be, right? I’m on a goddamned mission here!
After I left the porta-potty I had to make my way across the tiny bridge again. Last year I remember them telling people in the park to come to the start area as the bridges were too small for everyone to move at the last-minute. They were not kidding!
I tried to chill and not be pushy, but I was pissed and getting impatient.
When I finally made it across the bridge I headed to my corral. I had a blue bib which meant I was in the second corral after the pro runners. I’d never get close to this position in Boston!
I was in this corral last year and watched civilians walk up to the first corral after the elites. That pissed me off also because I knew they would be walking within the first mile and getting in my way.
This year my corral was almost empty and I didn’t see people from further back corrals making their way to the front. The situation seemed odd, but at least it would work better for me.
When they made the final call to the corrals, we moved forward and my corral filled in. They played the National Anthem and told us to get ready for the start. While the National Anthem was playing I had to re-start my Garmin.
At 5AM they gave us the start and the crowd surged forward and then stopped. We walked for a bit and then picked up to a jog. As we approached the start line our pace increased and we broke into a slow run just after crossing the starting mats.
As soon as they started the race, they also let loose with the fireworks. How many races have fireworks? As we approached the start line I was able to check them out. It was pretty cool!
After the start I had to pay attention to the pot holes in Ala Moana Boulevard, other runners and walkers! When I began to almost run into walkers I checked my watch and it was just about at the 1K mark, or 0.65 miles!
There were walkers last year, but I watched those idiots walk to the start. I didn’t see the hoard of civilians this year. They must have walked onto the course from the park.
After the porta-potty fiasco my patience were running thin. I did swear out loud several times as I passed people walking. I even put my hand on a few shoulders as I passed to make sure I didn’t knock anyone down.
I just couldn’t believe it. I thought I might run the race as a tourist? These people were already tourists!
The crowd thinned a bit by the one-mile mark and I was able to make my way around the walkers and started to run my race. Mile one came in around 10:15, but I was okay with that. A slow first mile isn’t unusual and generally is a good idea.
As we ran through the shopping district I looked around as much as I could. There were all kinds of high-end brands like Gucci and Mercedes along the way. Many nice high-rise buildings with great views of the ocean.
On The Road in Honolulu
As we ran through town I enjoyed the view and started to get a feel for how things might go. I had decided not to stretch before the race because I’ve been reading about how it can reduce muscle strength. This was a new thing to try which is not a good idea before a marathon.
We made our first big u-turn just before mile two. Runners were thinning out a bit and there were fewer walkers to deal with. Mile two came in under 10 minutes and I was beginning to hit my stride.
Some buildings and condo towers had Christmas lights. There were tropical trees with lights wrapped around their trunks and branches and we passed more high-end stores.
As we ran along we passed some spectators who seemed to be mostly Japanese. They were very enthusiastic and seemed to be part of a team or tour group.
We took a few turns and headed towards Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. It was still before sunrise but already warm. Before mile one a guy in front of me was sweating profusely.
Just after mile five I could see the ocean off of Waikiki Beach. I could also see Diamond Head and knew that our first hill was coming up.
At the 10K mark we took a left to go around The Honolulu Zoo. I remembered from 2017 that this road was a hill and that I did not want to power up it. It was too early in the race to expend that much energy.
As I tried to control my pace lots of runners went past me. Some of the volunteers holding the tape down the middle of the road held out their hands for high 5’s. It was a good distraction for me from all of the runners passing me. I could smell the zoo, but it didn’t seem as strong this time.
At mile seven our first real hill started. From studying the map I knew the rise was about 100ft over the next mile or so. It’s only a 2% incline but it sure feels a lot steeper. At almost exactly mile eight we crested the hill.
I lost some time on the hill but this year I ran down the back side and made up some time. It was pretty steep and I tried to run like I was on egg shells. At mile nine the next hill began.
This hill was about 60ft, then a decline and then another 40ft or so hill within a half mile. By 9.75 miles we were on another steep downhill. More egg-shell running.
The ocean had been in view for all of these hills and I could see the horizon. Unlike last year, there were no clouds on the horizon. That meant that when the sun rose we were going to get the full force of the sun.
Without the clouds the sky was also getting bright sooner than it did last year. We were still kind of in the dark at this point last year. I worried about the temperature rising faster than it did last year and how I had hoped to get to the half-way mark before the sun came up.
With the clouds it pretty much worked last year. But in 2018 it would be day light well before the 13.1 marker.
After Diamond Head we took a left at about 8.5 miles and ran through some neighborhoods. There were parks and schools and people standing in front of their homes cheering us on. Not a lot of people, but there were some.
The Long and Winding Road
We were now leaving Honolulu and at mile twelve the ocean came back into view between hills and homes. It was a beautiful sight!
It was now getting close to 7AM and the sun was peeking over the horizon. All along the coast there had been on-shore breezes but with the sun rising the breeze turned into wind on occasion. It was still very comfortable though.
As the miles passed, I noticed that my watch clocked in about 0.15 miles before the official marker. As I approached the half marathon marker my watch chimed in early also.
As I approached the half marathon mark I noticed that it was just another mile marker sign. Nothing special. Often there are race officials and some spectators since it is a major milestone in the race. I didn’t see timing mats, but I did get a time at the 21K mark. My time was 2:10:57. Just about 10 minute miles on the nose.
I was just where I wanted to be.
The road continued along the shore and was mainly flat or low rolling hills.
At about 15.25 miles we took a left onto Hawaii Kai Drive into a valley community created by and named for billionaire industrialist Henry J. Kaiser. The course through residential Hawaii Kai loops around an inland waterway. Looking up from the road you can see Koko Head, a volcanic crater eroded on one side by the ocean into the popular snorkel spot, Hanauma Bay. At about 17.5 miles we took a left back onto Kalanianiole Highway at Maunalua Bay Beach Park.
This is a man-made community not one that evolved over time like all of the other communities we ran through. The inland waterway looks like a Florida lagoon created to provide water access for residents.
It did look like a great area to live in, but it seemed to lack the soul of the other communities we ran through.
In 2017 this is where the wheels came off the bus. Where we turned into the development there was a row of porta-potties. As we looped back on the main road and passed that row, I made my first of probably five stops. Each time I started to run my legs were stiffer than the previous stop.
I was out of juice and my hips and quads were sore. The last eight miles were some of the most painful that I’ve ever run.
This year I was better prepared. I fueled early and was pretty good at managing my hydration. I still had to stop for a pee at this stop.
I could tell I was in danger of becoming dehydrated but my bladder was full. It’s challenging to drink cold water when you gotta go like a race horse!
So I copped a quick squat and got under way in about a minute. Almost as good as Shalane Flanagan.
I was relieved a second time when it didn’t hurt to start running again!
On Our Way Home!
We were now less than eight miles to the finish! That’s still a long way to go but I made it past the point of last year’s disaster.
I was happy to get a cup of ice water or Gatorade at many stops on the way home. It was great knowing I could drink as much as I want and not worry about it.
At each mile, familiar landmark or intersection I reflected on how I felt at that point the year before. I was doing great!
I was still on track to run a 4:30 marathon.
Before mile twenty-two we hit a 40ft hill. I was running tight to the right side of the road to stay in as much shade as I could. As I pushed up the hill I passed quite a few people walking up the hill. I was really surprising my self. At this point last year I was walking also.
At some point around mile 23 or so I had a moment of weakness and decided to walk for a bit. I don’t know why. But then something funny happened.
Usually each time I walk it gets harder to start running again. After my pit stop I didn’t have any problems getting back up to speed. This time when I started walking, it was like my legs were wound up with elastic bands. While I tried to walk my legs wanted to keep on running! It was like I had lost control of my legs and they wouldn’t stop running. That was a clear sign that I had no business walking!
At mile twenty-two we turned left onto Kealaolu Avenue along the Waialae Country Club. This road ends and the route turns right onto Kahala Avenue, a neighborhood of luxury homes fronting Kahala Beach and Black Point. Kahala Avenue merges into Diamond Head Road at mile 24, circling back around Diamond Head crater.
At about 23.5 miles we began our last series of climbs. The first climb was from about sea level to 50ft in about a quarter-mile. After a short flat we ascended about 65ft in about a mile.
From about 115ft we descended back to sea level in about a mile. At this point last year I couldn’t even make my self run. I bargained with my self that I would walk the down hill and then run into the park for the finish. I was barely able to even do that.
This year I pushed up the hills and ran the twisting down hill to the zoo. I could hardly believe how good I felt.
Now granted, feeling good at the end of a marathon is in relative terms. I was dehydrated, my legs and feet were tired and I was slightly altered. If I felt like this on a Tuesday afternoon while sitting at my desk at work, I’d ask someone to call an ambulance for me! No kidding.
As I pushed up the hill and ran the down hill I passed a lot of people. Most were running like I was running last year. It was shear will power propelling these people towards the finish line. I knew exactly how they felt.
Aloha Kapiolani Park
Finally the winding road arrived at Kalakaua Avenue and we entered Kapiolani Park. The road was finally flat again and I began to look for the finish line. Soon after getting onto Kalakaua Avenue the finish line came into view! It looked like it was a mile away and kept getting further away.
I had the same sensation you get running towards the finish line on Boylston Street. It’s like a dream where you keep running or walking but you never get any closer to the finish.
I was exhausted by this point in the race. It was basically the last 0.2 miles of the marathon. Somehow I was able to scrape together another shovel full of coal and toss it into the old furnace.
I haven’t downloaded my Garmin data yet, but I was able to muster some sort of a kick at the end. I passed a few people and kept up with a few.
The clock said something like 4:29 as I approached the finish line. I knew I crossed the start line a minute or two after the start of the race, so I might get under 4:30!
I went under the race archway, but there weren’t any timing mats. I looked down the road a bit and saw that they were about 10 yards further. I kept up the effort and crossed the finish line a little out of breath.
I saw a guy with medals and hobbled towards him. He saw me walking funny and we both grinned as we made eye contact. He put the medal over my head and I said “Mahalo!” then a young lady put a seashell necklace around my neck. It was all really cool.
I knew they had showers at the finish line and wondered how that worked. Did they have a tent area for us? Oh no. They had a series of shower heads set up about three feet apart. A few people were standing there fully clothed taking a shower. Somehow this struck me as a good idea.
I took off my running belt with my phone in it and clipped it to the nearby barricade. I never considered that someone would take it. Without a thought about the water temperature I walked into a shower of ice-cold water. Holy shit! It was like jumping into the Atlantic on New Year’s Day.
I wasn’t self-conscious at all with my strange sounds from the shock of ice-cold water running down my over heated body. As the shock wore off the cold water began to actually feel good.
I was probably in there for a minute, just like an ocean dip, but it felt much longer.
After I got out of the shower and gathered my gear I hobbled towards the tent with the finisher’s shirts. I wasn’t sure where it was but someone pointed me in the right direction.
This is the only race that gives you a finisher’s shirt when you actually finish the race. I like that.
On the way I texted my sister to let her know that I had finished and where I was. Eventually we spoke and she said they could not find a place to park.
My sister and her family didn’t get to spend much time in the park after the race last year and I wanted to make sure the kids had a chance to wander around and maybe get a malasada.
My sister said to do my thing and head for Waikiki Beach where they would pick me up.
I found the malasadas which were hot and covered in sugar. When a young lady asked if I wanted two, how could I refuse!
As I walked away and ate my first one, it sank in my stomach like a rock. What was I going to do with the other one?
On my way from the malasada tent I noticed that they were actually frying the donuts in the tents! Wow. I thought the shop was nearby, but these people set up a donut shop in the park to feed about 25,000 runners. That’s a major operation. I was impressed.
With my shirt over my shoulder and a hot malasada in my hand I headed towards Waikiki Beach to link up. I wasn’t moving quickly and I could feel some major chafing.
I texted my sister and told her I was sitting under the statue of a surfer by the beach. She called me back and said they still couldn’t find parking, so I started walking down the street.
As I looked down the street I spotted their car about three back from the intersection. A cop was holding traffic so I hobbled faster to get there before he let traffic go.
As I approached I could see Liz waving in the window. Just before I got to the car the cop let traffic go and I told them to sit tight. I knew the cop would let me walk through traffic if I needed to, and he did.
As he waved to my brother-in-law to make the turn I yelled out that they were my ride. He said “all right” and let me jump into the car. Marathoners get a lot of latitude on marathon day. It’s amazing what you can get away with when you have a meddle around your neck.
Shave Ice and the Road Home
Just like last year, we headed for the best shave ice shop in Honolulu, Waiola Shave Ice. It’s so good that the TV show Hawaii 5-0 shoots scenes there.
It turns out that the owner had run the marathon years ago and we had a nice chat about the race and how big the medals were getting.
We had a similar conversation last year. But he’s had a million customers since then.
It’s not shaved ice or snow cones. In Hawai’i it’s “Shave Ice.” As I ate mine I got that heart attack feeling in my chest. I was putting ice into an over-heated body and it hurt like hell. I knew I wasn’t having a heart attack, so I just stopped eating for a bit.
We had a short ride home to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. After we arrived, my goal was a shower a cold beer.
It was a hot race and I had sweat a lot. As a result I had a lot of chafing in the shorts area. When the hot water first hit that sensitive skin, I’m pretty sure the family heard me gasping and howling a bit. Fortunately the pain subsided quickly and I was able to clean up.
My sister had a foam roller and I made use of that soon after getting dressed.
I thought I had run about a 4:30 race, maybe 4:28. My official time came in at 4:26:42 at a 10:11 average pace. Last year my time was 4:37. I set a Hawaii PR and beat any expectations I had.
If you are looking for a good excuse to visit Hawai’i this marathon is a good one. There were a few issues at the start, but the on-course support was awesome and everyone was full of the Aloha spirit. Surprisingly you can find hotel rooms near the race start for under $200/night.
Flights are expensive and very long from the east coast. Hawaiian Airlines offers direct flights from Boston now for about the same price I paid for one stop. But this is the fifth largest marathon in the US and the farthest west and south. Put it on your bucket list!