Sunday, December 13, 2009

Honolulu Marathon Mania!

Today, December 13, 2009 was the 37th annual Honolulu Marathon. Let me say right up front, a big mahalo nui to all the people who have supported me through Plurk, Twitter, or Facebook Status updates. You don't know how much it means to me. Even Jeff on his trip to Tokyo checked in. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

This unemployment "thing" has allowed me to do some things that I've wanted to do but hadn't. I've done the marathon twice before but walked the course in 2005 and 2006. With a thanks to Trace over at the Disney Dudes podcast, he clued me into the Couch to 5K program. Long story short, with the program I am able to run 5K or just over three miles in about 35 minutes.

The game plan for the marathon was to run one mile, walk one mile then repeat the last two steps until course is complete. The target time was 6.5 hours. That's what I was hoping to do! Ahh the Dream!

So night before the race, I headed to bed at 7pm in order to get 8 hours sleep. Unfortunately, I was woken twice by some one in the neighborhood shooting of aerial fireworks. Hawaii does allow fire works, but only for the Fourth of July and New Years but aerials are as they say in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Right Out!

The alarm went off at 3am. Got up and walked down to the course. I wish I could get credit for that walking. It's 1.25 miles from The Apartment in Paradise to the starting area. Arrived at 4:15am. The Hawaii Kai Jaycees help with the starting line and I know them. It was then I realized that I had forgotten my bus pass to either 1) allow me to get a bus off the course if I didn't complete or 2) take the bus from the finish line. Mahalo to my friend Peggy who loaned me three bucks!

The starters gun when off and the fireworks that they use to start the marathon immediately followed. It happened at 5am but it took me almost 19 minutes to get across the starting mats with almost 24,000 entrants. Thank god for chip technology! I clicked the i-pod to kick off the Nike+ to record the event and provide music.

Everything was going well. Down Ala Moana blvd, up Nuuanu onto King, turn onto Piikoi back onto Ala Moana Blvd then Kalakaua Ave which is the main drag through Waikiki. One of the parts that I like about this walk is heading past all the buildings in the downtown area that are decorated for the Christmas season. I love watching all the tourists, especially Japanese tourists stop to take pictures of the sights.

At the end of main section of Kalakaua Ave is Kapiolani Park where the marathon ends. For those people doing the Marathon walk, they left at this point and the rest of us heading up Monsarrat Ave and turned right onto Paki Ave. From Paki Ave, participants turn left to head up Diamond Head Road. By the time I had got to this point, the winner had already crossed the finish line. I still had 20 miles to go. At this point, I discovered, while I had music from the i-pod, it wasn't recording the run data. DANG it! Diamond Head Road has the steepest incline and highest elevation, about 125 feet above sea level for this course. Everything is on track except for the i-pod mix up.

At mile 8 and 9 is where my problems started. I slowed down to grab Gatorade and water. I then tried to start running again and my outside of my knees were giving me issues. When I started down the slope of 18th Ave, I could really feel the pain on the outside of the joints. UGH!

Onto Kilauea Ave and then Kalanianaole Hwy.

I hit the wall in that I was sort of like a car in idol that wouldn't shift into gear. I couldn't get my body to bend the knees high enough to get into a running mode. Well, I could keep walking anyway. By this time the sun was high and my coconut woven hat was providing protection from the sun.

The only thing that is really giving me an issue at this point is the knees. The feet seem to be OK and the new Under Armor shorts are doing their thing. Energy gels are being consumed and no need for that biological break. Along the way I'm taking a few pictures and video and tweeting them up to the Internet.

Four more miles and I'm heading into Hawaii Kai. My fingers are starting to swell. Part of running a marathon for the time that I'm on the course.

I realize at this point as I go by the 30K timer (about 16 miles) that I am WAY off pace and that dream of 6.5 hours to finish is not going to happen. My fingers become sausages and I really can't bend them anymore to send text messages or push buttons.

Travel around Hawaii Kai and then back out to Kalanianaole Hwy for the return trip. As I'm approaching the Waialea Country Club and Kealaolu I'm thinking that I'm not going to be able to beat my last time and maybe not even the time for the first marathon. Crap!

Onto Kahala Ave and I start to feel some things. The Under Armor has done its best but between the sweat, heat on my back and the time, the chaffing starts. I can also start to feel a blister on my foot. I have four miles to go. Heading up the slow incline to Diamond Head I feel argh-y (for lack of a better term). Two kilometers and I'm heading down the steeper incline. My knees are screaming at me and I feel a blister on my right foot and toe. I'm beating myself up because my grand plan to better my time hasn't worked out the way I had hoped.

As I entered Kapiolani Park, there are some people on the side cheering runners onto the finish line. I wanted to try to run the last part of the marathon, but my knees would not cooperate. As I approached the finish line, my coconut hat got noticed by the announcers. They thought I was someone else, a local businessman that created the "Live Aloha" bumper sticker, but they finally looked at the roster and got my name and announce it. I crossed the finish line at 8:34:13 which was 9 seconds shorter than my chip time from my first race. The chip time brought it down to 8:15:31. Almost two hours longer than I had hoped.

I took my winner shot and then hobbled off the course and out into the park. I wasn't able to get a winner t-shirt as I was late coming in and they ran out of 2XL. But I did get my winner medal. And an apple! And some oatmeal cookies! I'm not worried about the t-shirt as I'm not a t-shirt type of person with the opu (stomach) that I carry. I headed to the bus stop to go home. I then tried to text message but the fingers were still fat so I said "swollen fingers...can't txt" in a tweet. Easier to tweet when you're not walking and waiting on a bench. It was painful going up the bus stairs and the driver was kind enough to only have me pay $2.00 since I didn't have $0.25 in change, only another dollar bill. I couldn't wait to get home to clean up and start treating my body.

It took me 25 minutes to get from the bus stop to The Apartment in Paradise. Normally when I'm not in pain it is a four minute walk. I had to thank the drivers on the second side of the road for waiting for me while I was still crossing and they had the green light after I had received the white walking guy and then the flashing red hand.

Once home I took inventory of the body. I learned on my first marathon, don't remove the shoes. The feet swell and the blisters form. Leave them alone until you want to take off the shoes and not put them back on because trying to stuff swollen blistered fee back in there creates more pain. I love looking at the kaleidoscope of colors the feet turn. I have blisters on the side of the ball of each foot. Left foot, small toe blister on the inside between toes. Left foot big toe fine, but toe next door, blister under the toe nail. On the right foot, blister under the big toe nail and all around the toe nail next door as well as the small toe. No blisters on the bottom of the feet. All the toe nails that have blisters around them, will probably fall out. First time it happened was freaky, but I know what to expect now.

Knees are stiff, but better than during the race. Under Armor did as good as it could. Forearms, slightly sunburned as well as the side of the neck. My back is fine as well as my neck. I've learned to keep upright during the marathon. But, I didn't relax my shoulders and they are sore. On my inside right upper arm and left chest under the arm I do have some chaffing there from the seams of the shirt. I should be back to normal in less than a week for all but the toe nail issues. With walking and stand being difficult, I ordered pizza and chicken wings for dinner.

To the people who serve Hawaii by volunteering to hand out sponges, spray water, give out drinks, man the starting line, helping at the first aid stations and finish line or just cheer along the course encouraging people, a Big Mahalo Nui to all of you.

The students at Hawaii Pacific University say that the marathon has over a $100,000,000 economic impact to the State of Hawaii. I don't think you know how much your smiles, cups of cold water, sticks of Vaseline (no they are not serving energy gel on a stick at the aid stations), shaka signs or other words of encouragement mean to the people on the course.

Lastly, part of the marathon experience in Hawaii is the way that people dress to run. We have Maori and Hawaiian warriors, brides and grooms, regular and sexy Santas with accompanying elves, and a plethora of animated characters including Pikachu and Dragon Ball Z denizens. One person that amazes me is Geta Man. He runs with the traditional Japanese wooden sandals (see example here). In the past I couldn't imagine what it does to his feet. Well, today I could. He was sitting down in the area leading up to the finish line. The place where the velvet straps cover his foot was rubbed raw and looked nasty. But he still does it every year. Hope to see him there next year!


Lorien said...

Wow! Congratulations on finishing! Take care of those feet, that sounds incredibly painful.