Saturday, December 15, 2007

The End of the Beginning!

As Mom and Dad have posted previously...I finished the 2007 Honolulu Marathon. Not in record time, and definitely not in the time I had hoped to finish. An hour over what I had hoped to finish it in, actually. But granted, there were factors contributing to my late finish-time and reflecting back on those, I say, "I freaking did it! I finished and that's ALL that matters!" And, of course, that's one more state crossed off my list of marathons to run before I die. If nothing else, it just gives me something to look forward to on working and improving as I prepare for each race after this.
I woke early on Saturday morning in order to fit in a quick two-mile jog to keep my muscles warmed up and limber. I finished packing up my gear and my roommate Sherry and I made our way to the Kaua'i airport. The entire time I was anxious and stressed due to jumpy nerves, a lot of butterflies and sick feelings in my stomach...and poor Sherry had to put up with my irritableness!

We had an enjoyable trip to Oahu regardless. After landing in the busy city of Honolulu, and finding out that a single taxi ride to the Hawaii Convention Center would cost us a mere $32...just the one ride, yes, and we had several stops we had to make...we decided to check out how much a rental would cost for a day. We arrived at the Dollar Rent-A-Car, and I asked the lady at the counter, "What's the cheapest ride you got?" She replied: "Well, ma'am...hmmm...let's see...we've got a convertible for $40.00." So I slammed my fist on the counter with a great big grin and said, "We'll take it!" A bit of paperwork, and not long after I had keys in my hand that belonged to a silver Chrysler Sebring. Naturally, I HAD to call Mom up and let her know. :)

We somehow managed to make our way to the Hawaii Convention Center, through heavy island traffic and a few wrong turns, where the marathon expo was located so I could pick up my running bib and timing chip. We spent some time looking at the booths that were set up and I got myself a pink Nike sweatshirt that has the 2007 Honolulu Marathon logo on it (I had to get a souvenir...and I only brought one sweatshirt with me to Kaua'i, not knowing it actually DOES get chilly here!) Sherry and I had a go at swinging around some Poi balls. It's harder than it looks, but I didn't hit myself with them as much as Sherry did. :)




We decided that we would drive around to see if we could find the Cheesecake Factory and the International Marketplace. I've been to both...Sherry had been to neither. I was a fan of both, so off we went driving the streets of Waikiki in search of the goods. I was so happy to be in a city, with highways and everything! Kaua'i has ONE highway that goes all the way around the island. Not a fan. With my innate sense of direction (maybe the girls in the family have the great sense of direction that you may lack, Natch? Eh? Mah ha! JK, JK....) we found the Cheesecake Factory AND the International Marketplace! So off we went to find a parking garage...
We tried pulling into one but gasped when the toll booth attendent guy told us it would probably cost us over $15 to park for just a few HOURS, so I smiled sweetly and asked, "Where would YOU recommend we park?" I batted my lashes a few times, and I could tell that even though he was sitting, his knees knocked together and he reluctantly pointed us in the direction of a parking garage that charged only $8 for a full 24 hours. So we made our way down the street to the Waikiki Banyon Hotel, parked our sweet ride, and walked down to the boardwalk of Waikiki Beach. We stopped in a few of the high-end stores, like Coach and Chanel, but that cheesecake was calling our names.
Despite the hoards of people standing around the restaurant, we only waited a few minutes before having a chance to sit down, relax, and enjoy a good meal. What did I have as my pre-race dinner? The Bang-Bang Chicken! YUM. And for dessert? Caramel Macadamia Nut Cheesecake. Only half, cause I didn't want a tummy-ache for the race. I just couldn't resist. Like YOU could. Geez. :)
After dinner, we walked over to the International Marketplace to get our bargain shopping on. I just bought a silver plumeria flower bracelet because the one I bought four years ago when I was there broke and I was oh-so-sad. Now I am oh-so-happy.
After Sherry finished up some bargaining with an old Asian lady, I called up our friend Marty so we could find the Del Sol store in Waikiki so we could meet up with him. We were lucky to have our Del Sol University buddies Marty and Eivind welcome us to Oahu and let us stay with them for the night so we wouldn't have to shell out hundreds of dollars for a one-night stay in a hotel. Yes, we stayed with BOYS. Dun dun dun! Hahaha! They were perfect gentlemen, and they let us sleep in the bedroom while they slept on the hide-a-bed and couch in the other room. And get THIS...with my innate sense of direction, we parked at the hotel the lived at! I'm so good.
We stayed up talking until midnight, and I had to get up at 3am. It felt as though my head had just barely hit the pillow when my alarm went off. I rolled out of bed, got myself ready, ate some breakfast, got a "good luck!" from Sherry, then was on my way. I had to meet the busses at the Honolulu Zoo that were taking the racers to the starting line, and it worked out that the zoo was a short two block walk from the hotel. Of course, I didn't take into account that it is the rainy season, so two seconds after I set foot outside of the hotel, it starts to downpour. In Hawaii, it doesn't sprinkle. It doesn't mist. It pours. And pours. I was soaked as I climbed onto the bus, and was relishing the warm heaters that were blowing. Soon after, they dropped us off at the park where we would begin the race.
I didn't know where I was going exactly, but I figured if I just followed everyone else, I'd get to where I needed to go. During my short walk to the starting line, I passed groups and groups of Japanese, all wearing the same t-shirts and chanting things in Japanese. All I could think was, "Those Asians are cah-razy!" :)
I found my way to the sign that read "Estimated Finish Time 4-5 Hours." I stood there, huddled with all the other runners, stretching and getting ready for the gun to shoot off. The rain had subsided by that time, and soon fireworks were being shot into the sky.

I didn't even hear the gun go off, but soon the herd began to move, people started shouting, and not long did I cross the start line. And so it began! I was feeling great, excited even. Within the first mile, however, it started to rain again. Pour, I mean. Puddles were everywhere, and it made me laugh when runners tried to avoid them so as to not get their feet wet. Well, when it's raining that much and that hard, I don't know how you can keep your feet DRY! I was worried my camera, phone, and iPod would be ruined, but I tucked them safely into my Camelbak and prayed they'd make it out okay. :)
Things were going great, and I was running up until around mile eight. Then all of a sudden, I began feeling intense pain above my left knee. Knowing how things have gone in the past, I knew it wasn't going to go away and if anything, it was going to get worse. And it did. So I sent text messages out to my cheering squads, and got lots of wonderful encouragement back. I wanted to give in so badly, I wanted to quit. Everytime an ambulance passed by, I wanted to put up my thumb and hitch a ride. But alas, I decided I had come this far, I needed to finish. So with all of your help and endless encouragement, I pressed on. And I thank you all for that! I kept up, well, at least kept GOING. I stopped to take a few pictures during the course.

I walked a lot, but even had I felt great with no pain, it would have been hard to achieve a PR with so many people running. It was like a bottleneck the entire race...usually it just happens at the very beginning of a race. I was dodging people left and right, all the way up until the end. As I came to mile 25, my friend Marty texted me to tell him when I got there. I didn't have service, but all of a sudden I see this guy running UP the hill. And it was him!

He came to run the last mile with me, and he encouraged me the rest of the way to finish strong. I had to stop to walk a few times, but I sprinted with him across the finish...and then it was over! I was congratulated with a shell lei, and stumbled to the showers to rinse myself off. Standing still, my muscles were spasing out, so Marty walked with me to find Sherry and Eivind, and he went in search of water, gatorade, and nourishment for me. I got my t-shirt and finisher's medal, and we all walked back to the apartment so I could shower off and rest for a bit. As I was cleaning up, Marty proceeded to wash my shoes - by hand - of all the dirt and mud that had accumulated on them during and after the race. Eivind was sick, and yet he was still there to cheer me on at the race. These are what I would call "top-shelf" guys!
We couldn't stay long - our rental car was due back and so we said our thank-yous and goodbyes and went on our merry way back to the airport. We managed to find an earlier flight back to Kaua'i, and I passed out on the short half hour flight back to the little rock.
I was stiff for a few days after, but now I'm feeling great and ready to put my running shoes on again. I think my knees and muscles are fine, so when I get back to the mainland it's time for training again. Next race? Fort Collins, CO Marathon, May 4th 2008!
Thanks again for all your love and support. I couldn't have done it without you!

2 comments:

Marti said...

You ROCK, girl!! We are all so proud of you! I just can't imagine what that would be like. Congratulations for finishing in a very difficult race.

cameron said...

Way to go Sis, I'm proud of you. Way to finish another hard race!