Aloha! (Sorry, I had to). Buckle up kids: it’s a long one. If you want the short version: Hawaii is beautiful and I’m officially a marathoner. If you want the long version: grab a mug of tea and keep reading – I think it’s a good story…
I headed to the airport on Friday morning with my last minute travel companion (my aunt, Marion) and gave my Dad a big hug (I was way too sad they weren’t coming) before beginning the journey. We were faced with tons of people, massive lines and significant flight delays. Keep calm, Amy, keep calm. After a very aggravating customs line (they even took away some of my food, which has never happened before!), a ridiculous security line, five billion new friends later, we made it to our gate for our first flight to Atlanta. Well I’ll save you most of the details but our plane door broke so we took off over an hour and a half late, which did not bode well for making our connection to Honolulu.
We stayed calm, realized it was out of our control and sought to problem solve. After arriving in Atlanta, the airline actually problem solved for us! What a relief. Delta re-booked us on a flight to Los Angeles then another flight to Honolulu. Wiz Khalifa was on our flight to LA (so was an annoying baby behind me). But after a long day/night, we finally arrived at our hotel, showered and crawled into bed. I already felt like I ran a marathon.
On Saturday morning, the group met up for a 1.5-mile shakeout run and breakfast. It was so wonderful to meet everyone and put true faces and voices to social media interactions! Unfortunately, Morganne was still en route – I missed my coach but everyone was so awesome!
Afterwards we headed to the race expo (I felt like I walked onto the set of a Japanese game show – it was hilarious) and made a Whole Foods run. I definitely wanted to ensure I had everything I needed and make “safe” food choices prior to the race. Plus I knew I’d be indulging post-race anyways – balanced travel, as usual.
After a bit of relaxing on the beach and eating my goodies from Whole Foods, it was time to get some rest and get ready for the big day!
My alarm was set for 3am but my eyes flew open at 2:30. Nerves, excitement, more nerves, more excitement. I got ready and headed down to meet the group in the lobby for 3:45am. My stomach was in knots and the weather outside looked daunting – hello wind and rain. But it didn’t matter: mother nature is out of our control and we were running regardless.
The amount of people and disorganization at the starting line was insane. There were 32,000 runners and NO corrals. Craziness. Morganne and I made our way as close to the start as possible and were befriended by a bunch of Japanese high school boys.
A little after 5am, we were off. The first 6 miles were pretty uneventful. But I did think I had to pee but that feeling went away. Other than being really wet (the spitting rain was whipping because of the wind) and feeling a bit of a bleeding blister, it was easy. At mile 8, I had my first fuel pouch – I used the baby food, as per my training. I kept it, my phone and water/coconut water in a new belt I bough (this one) and also ditched my long sleeve. Anyways, that’s also when we approached “Diamond Head” – the volcano we were running around. Aka, our first hill. Other than the mass amounts of people, it was fine.
At mile 11, our cheering squad was waiting for us! It was so good to see Morganne’s husband Matt and Marion on the sidelines. We said hi, then we pushed on. Those next miles reallyyyy sucked: the wind was seriously picking up and it was getting hard to move forward. But by mile 16, I caught a second wind and was feeling great, which was surprising because 16 miles was the furthest I ran during training – silly injuries.
I was determined not to think negatively, I had another pouch of baby food and we continued along. By mile 21, I started to feel kinda crappy. I don’t think I hit “the wall” but my knees were hurting and I was ready to be done. Thankfully we saw Marion and Matt at mile 22 which propelled me for a bit until I started feeling pretty bad again. Like just wanting the pain to be over. I kept telling Morganne: “do NOT let me walk, if I walk, I won’t start running again.” So we ran. And ran. And ran some more. Earlier I thought I could finish at 4:15ish but at that point I didn’t care about my time because I was so miserable.
Those last 4 miles felt like an eternity. I couldn’t have done it without Morganne by my side. Oh and at mile 24, we had to go back up friggin Diamond Head. I couldn’t even appreciate that the sun was starting to shine and there was a rainbow in the sky with that hill of death. Keep going, don’t stop, you got this, breathe.
With half a mile to go, I could see the finish line ahead but it still felt so far away. I was fighting back tears of pain but when I saw Marion on the side jumping up and down I stopped fighting them back and let them flow – tears of joy.
I am almost there. WE are almost there. WE are doing it.
And we did. In 4 hours, 26 minutes and 57 seconds. Not too shabby.
I cannot really put into words how I feel. I am proud, tired, sore and relieved. Running a marathon is no joke. There are highs and lows and times you want to roll over and quit. But it truly is an incredible thing. I especially feel so fortunate for running this race as a part of the amazing 26 Strong program with Saucony. The adventure was amazing.
Now that these 26.2 miles are behind me, I think it’s time to take a step back from running and get back to it being a stress reliever rather than a stress inducer. My body needs a break. My mind needs to focus on some other things. I plan on enjoying some much needed rest and recovery; then I’ll see how I feel in order to do what is best for myself, my body and my health. Hey, half-marathons are still pretty great races :)
I also want to put into writing how incredibly thankful I am to so many people. Firstly, for all the connections I have made through this blog. Thank you for reading and supporting me. Morganne – I cannot even put it into words. Megan and Nicole – thank you for your continual guidance and words of wisdom. Michele – thank you for you inspiring me to keep going.
I especially want to thank my family and friends for all of their support on this endeavor. This blog post would go on forever if I listed everyone but I must thank my amazing parents and sister for putting up with all of my craziness and their love and support (sorry Les – so cheesy, I know); Marion for being the best travel buddy, roomie and race fan; Kathy, Theresa, Bonnie, Albert, Adam, Kevin; Auntie Gail & Julie; Uncle Ken; Grandma and Papa; everyone at CrossFit Metric… thank you for listening to my constant (and I’ll bet annoying) marathon talk and encouraging me every step of the journey. I love you all. Am I accepting an Oscar or something? Drops mic.
Well… that is that! Now it’s time to get on a plane and head back to Toronto. Mahalo!
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