Friday, December 13, 2013

Marathon Day Summary

The Honolulu Marathon has come and gone now.  

It was only six weeks ago I decided that I would actually do the marathon.  You see, 2013 was one where I have experienced many health problems - a liver that decided not to work, a kidney that is solidifying and a pancreas that that it could help them so it was working too hard.  To top it off, I am officially in menopause when means all essential feel good hormones were well below a normal mark. With my experience in the health and wellness area, if understand that running a marathon causes a chemical side affect which would be extra stress on my organs and on my muscular system. I didn't want to take any risks or chances.  It was only after a lengthy process of paying attention to everything and understanding all the signs, I decided to take a risk.  Yes, doing a marathon is always a risk.

So here was my plan..........there was no time limit so why rush?  My plan was to run 10k and then walk the rest of the marathon, which was 32.2k.  Just how hard could this be, I said to myself.  Let the journey begin............

Selfie #1 - Sheena, Lynda, Michele

We all wake up at 2:00 am (5:00 am) to gather ourselves together and get ready.  At 3:00 am we collect all our buddies together and walk 1.3 km to the start line buses.  Race day temperatures 82F (28C).  The buses were so organized!  We found a line up and within 15 minutes we were being taken to the start line.  Just a little before 4:00 am we arrive at the start line.  The official start time is 5:00 am.  Well, our bus drops us off up front of the race, by the start line.  We all scatter around the park finding the least crowded port-a-potty.  No shortage there!  

We all hang out in the 2:00 - 3:00 coral.  They don't enforce them here and believe me, this is one race you don't want to be in the back.  We danced, did some crazy photo bombing and most of all, people watched.  There are all shapes, sizes, nationalities, hair color, clothing style, shoe style, with shirts and without shirts.  It did make me realize that this is one sport where we can never judge a book by it's cover.

The race begins with the wheelchair participants being brought up the middle of the runners by police escort.  The applause sounds like a ripple affect as they approach. A beautiful voice signs the USA National anthem and then we assume it was the Japan anthem, but since we don't know it, I didn't recognize it.  It did notice that most of the Japanese runners stood quietly while the song played. This race is 75% Japanese.  Then the moment that I love.......Fireworks!  Because we were so close to the start line, they were amazing as they rained over our heads.   At that moment, the race began!  Here we go on our journey of 42.2 kms over Oahu.

Through the darkness, I run through the streets of Honolulu.  I remember the first 10k being beautiful with the city lights, so I ran with the intentions of "seeing" everything instead of being a sheep and just following. I wanted to go on a self-guided tour of Hawaii.  Through the darkness we go.  I made mental notes of the smells or the ocean, the small and beautiful lights, then we came to my favorite part, the Hawaiian Palace.  It is always so beautifully decorated. It's funny, the other three times I was here I wanted to see the palace, but I had seen it before.  I had always thought the palace was their city hall, but it wasn't.  Lesson number 1.

As I ran by certain landmarks, I would recall things from our first marathon in 2004 and think about our friends Cindy Thiessen, Tracey Ross, Shelley and Kevin Berwick and some others.  Then our 2006 trip with Deb Zelez and Natasha Weinheimer.  All fond memories shared with these people.  

I reach the main part of Waikiki and recalled the changing point of my life where I read a sign which was held up by a total stranger "You are strong, You are confident and You can do it". Yes, each time I run a race or doubt myself, I see this stranger holding up a piece of cardboard, no bigger than a cereal box and it was scribbled in pen.  I remember that sign clear as a bell and plain as day.  This year, she was not there holding a sign but a wonderful smiling face was standing there - Neil Stark!  I pulled over to hug Neil.  We chatted for a little bit and I said, I have to go now as I was to get to the top of Diamond Head to watch the sunrise. Off I went. 

As I climbed this hill, I thanked all of the volunteers along the way.  The hill was line with over 50 volunteers holding a tape to divide the road.  These volunteers were kids.  They were awesome!  They cheered, smiled, high 5'd and encouraged everyone as we climbed to the top of the hill.  I felt like a rock star and I felt so strong.  As I got to the top of the point, the sun was shining and the ocean was waving at us.  Breathtaking!

I continued on my marathon way.  The sun got brighter and hotter by the second.  We always knew it was a hot marathon but normally the wonderful trade winds of Hawaii are there to cool you.  This year, the trade winds decided not to come to help us.  It was extra hot and humid as Hawaii had just experienced some flooding and lots of rainfall right up to the day we had arrived.  Oh well.....that is part of the marathon that we have zero control over......the weather.

I continued to run feeling pretty good, considering my initial plan for the race.  My plan was to only run 10k and then walk the rest.  I scheduled my watch to alarm every 15 minutes.  I was drinking water and coconut water every 15 minutes.  The key to surviving a hot race is to hydrate constantly with an electrolyte prior to being thirsty.  I stopped 3x to pee during the race and 2x to, well you know what, so I believe I was adequately hydrated, so I thought.

I got to about 18 - 20K and started to notice that my fingers wouldn't bend and all.  Yikes!  I held my hands in the air to help with circulation. That usually helps, but this time it didn't. What did this mean?  When in doubt, ask!  The next medical tent I stopped to ask them.  The lady I spoke with said, you're not drinking enough water, then I told her what I drank.  "Oh", she said.  Them she said, "you aren't having enough salt". I told her about the coconut water I had.   "Oh", she said.  Then she said, your body isn't doing something right.  Hmmmmmm........and I carried on.

At 18k, I came across the cutest puppy, Pocko, the 3 month old French bull dog who looked like a mini Moe.  I am in Love!

I continue on and remembered there was a 7-11 up the road.  I had taken a bus ride the day prior to see the road we would be running on so I knew it was there.  My plan, was to stop and buy an ice cold coconut water.  Here's my proof!  Did you know that Hawaii does not have lottery tickets?  I wanted to buy one when I stopped and the girl at 7-11 had no idea what a lottery was.  She had never been off the island and worked there instead of going to high school.  Anyhow, I filled my fuel belt with coconut water and then I drank one.  It was cold and refreshing!  That would have been about 8:00 am and it was getting really hot!

Off I go down the highway.  I wanted to do more running but noticed it was not only my fingers swelling but also my arms.  I was now unable to do a Bicep curl because of the swelling in my body.  The thought that went through my head, what else is swelling that I don't see or feel.  I can tell you, the road was getting harder, slower, hotter and mentally tougher by the minute.  I wanted to stop, but my pride wouldn't let me stop.  As the time ticked to 5:00, I knew that Kevin would be more likely done.  I had thought I would be about 6:00 at a good walking pace, but each step, my body started to ache and swell more.  I get a text from Kevin letting me know he's done.  I was happy he was safe.  I started to think about everyone else and hoped they were all safe.  Then I heard from Michele. She was safe and done.  I was so happy to here from her!  At 38k I honestly thought I couldn't do it.  I knew it was so close but by them my ankles, feet, arms and face were so swollen.  The only thing helping now was holding bags of ice in my hands.

I sent Kevin a text for encouragement and as always, Kevin knew the right things to say.  "You're strong my dear", said his text.  My reply was, I don't think I can do it.  His reply, "you can do this.  I love you so much!"  The power of gave me energy.  Michele's text said "look for the light house", which meant there was only 2k left.  

I saw the light house!  As I walked by, there were tons of people struggling.  I said come on guys, let's do this!  They got up, and started down the road with me.  Total strangers who stopped at the side of the road, in pain, and doubted themselves, but a total stranger (me), gave them strength.

The drums....I heard the kabuki drums.  The beat was loud, solid and strong!  They gave me more strength and suddenly, I knew I would finish.  I sent Kevin a text.  2k left!  Then I sent him a picture of where I was.  Here I am.....

Kevin's next note was that everyone was waiting for me at the 26 mile marker.  I came around the corner down the finish line, and I could see Kevin.  Left foot, right foot..........repeat.  I got to everyone and stopped.  We chatted and finally Kevin said, you still have to cross the finish line.  At this point, an extra 5 minutes doesn't matter.  It looked as though the heat of Hawaii got all of us just a little bit in one way or another.  

The gang headed back to the condo as Kevin met me as I crossed the finished line.  I got my medal, finishers shirt and the satisfaction of completing one more marathon.

This marathon kicked my ass in many ways!  

Things I learned:
1.  Never under-estimate the distance!
2.  Respect the distance and the body!
3.  The power of friendship and love can tump all hardships!
4.  It's more than a medal and a tshirt, it is personal pride!

Now to rest and recover......Hawaii is the perfect place!

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