I had been looking forward to the Honolulu Marathon (12/9/12) all year, knowing that I would be there celebrating my friends Steven and Hideki as they complete their 50-state marathon journey. Both of them were completing the feat of running one marathon in every state, then finishing their journey in paradise! A group of about 12 of us made the trip from New York City to run or cheer, and I traveled with a smaller group that included my friends Wams, Jackie, Michelle and Donald. It was my first time in Hawaii and I wanted to do as much as I could, in addition to running the marathon. I was in a group of active people, so interestingly enough our trip didn’t include much beach time, mostly hiking and running! The Honolulu Marathon is also my first major race wearing my new Team Refuel gear so I was excited!
On our first night, Thursday, we landed in Waikiki after 11 hours of flying and were in search of some good food. We went to Roy’s, a great Hawaiian fusion restaurant that had seafood and fantastic desserts. I ordered the sea scallops with grapes—so good!
On Friday, Wams, Jackie, Michelle and I woke up early for a 2-mile jog uphill from Waikiki Beach to Diamond Head State Park for a hike. The hike was gorgeous, with amazing vistas of the ocean and the beach. It was medium-strenuous—there was only one clear path and it was paved, with handrails. We did have to climb a lot of hills though. I made sure to stay well-hydrated with water and PowerAde, then I bought some low-fat chocolate milk after the hike to make sure my muscles recovered for the race! The perfect blend of carbs and protein in low-fat chocolate milk allows me to jump this high:
Plus, it was refreshing to drink an ice-cold beverage that also tastes good! (Read more about the benefits of refueling with chocolate milk on the Got Chocolate Milk site.)
After the hike, we went to the Honolulu Marathon expo, where we met up with my friend and fellow Marathon Maniac Club members Harvey and Steve. Harvey presented us ladies with beautiful orchid leis and kukui nut leis as gifts. Thank you so much for the warm welcome, Harvey! He also got me a bright pink running singlet from the Big Island that said “Run Big” on it. I can’t wait to wear it! Thanks also to my friend Mohan, who got me a Penang Marathon singlet too!
I picked up my bib number and got really excited for the Honolulu Marathon—it would be my 12th marathon of the year and I just wanted it to be an enjoyable experience. Next, we headed to the Ala Moana shopping center where Michelle and I got 100% Kona coffee. It was delicious!
That night, the whole group headed to the Marathon Maniacs official dinner (at Buca di Beppo) where we got to meet fellow club members from all around the world that were also running the Honolulu marathon. There must have been at least 50 of us sitting down eating dinner! The organizer, Les, made it a really fun experience for everyone by getting everyone to mingle and handing out door prizes.
Saturday was filled with more hiking, and then a dolphin excursion on Waianae. We saw many pods of dolphins, put on our snorkeling gear, and got to jump off the boat to swim with the dolphins! I was about ten feet away from a pod of dolphins at one point—truly a magical experience. We even saw a humpback whale breaching several times near the end of our journey! I was in awe. Pictures don’t really do it justice.
On Sunday, my friends and I woke up at 3:00am to prepare for the 5:00am Honolulu Marathon start! Why so early? It gets really hot and humid in Hawaii even in December, so the earlier the runners start, the better. I also learned that the Honolulu Marathon keeps its finish line open until the very last finisher crosses, which is an incredible thing for the staff to do (sometimes it takes more than 14 hrs, 30 minutes). We posed for some pictures before getting on the bus to the start line:
Here’s one of me and my friends, 50-state soon-to-be-finishers Steve (left) and Hideki. I’m proudly sporting my Team Refuel gear. We took a big group photo with the Marathon Maniacs club, then headed to the start at 4:50. Ten minutes later, the sky lit up with fireworks and we were off!!
We ran past beautiful Christmas lights in downtown Honolulu, then Waikiki. There weren’t a ton of spectators at first, but the ones that showed up were super enthusiastic. I took it easy in the early miles, knowing that I needed to save my energy.
We got to watch the beautiful sunrise over the tree tops.
Right as we crested a hill near mile 7, a bunch of teenage volunteers cheered really loudly for all the runners! One could always use a little motivation, right?
Around mile 8, I started to feel the hills and the previous days’ hikes on my legs, but I kept reminding myself that I trained and hydrated well, so I had nothing to worry about. I started seeing my speedier friends like Benny and Steve a couple miles ahead of me, having passed the turnaround point. It was cool seeing them for extra motivation.
When the sun rose higher in the sky, I started sweating a lot more. I gladly took soaked sponges from the volunteers, and took Powergels from the aid stations (they even had Kona Punch-flavored gels!).
As we neared the finish line at Kapiolani Park, we first had to negotiate an incline near Diamond Head. Knowing that I hiked that trail a few days earlier gave me confidence. Nothing was going to stop me now, especially not at mile 24! I was so happy to be in Hawaii that I soaked up all the joy of the experience in the final miles. I crossed the finish line in 5:14:01 (7,398th out of 24,152 finishers). I am glad I stuck to my plan of listening to my body—I needed to give my body a break after running 12 marathons and ultramarathons in 12 months! I had a big smile on my face when I finished—and I was already thinking of my ice cold chocolate milk waiting for me back at the hotel!
But first, I had to find my friends at the end. I found Hideki, Derrick, and Tatsunori (a friend of Hideki’s who also finished his 50th state marathon) at the finish, then I bumped into Michelle and Jackie later on. We got our finishers’ shell leis, then walked to the festival area to get our official finishers’ t-shirts (nice tech tees) and our medals.
We took some photos, got a free shiatsu massage, and then grabbed some lunch for back at the hotel.
(Hawaiians use the hand signal for “aloha”)
For lunch, we went to Musubi Iyasume, an amazing place that sells spam musubi (it’s a traditional Hawaiian snack—sticky rice balls usually topped with Spam and wrapped in nori, or seaweed). So for lunch, I had spam musubi, miso soup, and a refreshing bottle of low-fat chocolate milk! The chocolate milk helps in my recovery—I know my muscles need replenishing as soon as possible. The high-quality protein found in low-fat chocolate milk helps my muscles rebuild after strenuous exercise, so I can recover for my next workout! It really works, as I found out the next day that as long as I took walk breaks during the 9-hour flight back to NYC, I had reduced soreness.
This was a truly special trip, made more meaningful because I got to celebrate Hideki and Steve’s special milestone of finishing their 50th state marathon in Hawaii. That night, we had a celebratory dinner with about 30 guests at Uncle Bo’s. The month before, I spearheaded a project to create two surprise scrapbooks with the help of my friends who contributed photos from the various marathons they have run worldwide. It was meant to be presented to them at dinner, in front of everybody. They were completely surprised! We also passed it around at the party so that people could add their signatures and well-wishes. Congratulations, Hideki and Steve!
I’m grateful to Team Refuel for sponsoring me—I’m proud to wear our team colors! Thanks also to all my friends who traveled with me, and my Hawaiian friends for giving me a big welcome to Hawaii. Mahalo!