The plan was good, maybe even excellent! Basically I split the race into 3 parts: A steady first 10 miles in 1 hour 34 (9:24 pace), a slightly faster 10 miles in 1 hour 31 (9:06 pace) and then a fast 10k to finish in 55 minutes (8:51 pace) - total time 3:59:59 (9:09 pace).
The First 10 Miles.....
After a long & restless night the alarm went off at 2:30am. Got down to the start about 3:45 and lined up for the restroom for 25 minutes (25,000 people, 200 restrooms - you do the math). Spent 45 minutes sneakily edging my way to the front of the 2-3 hour section along with everyone else who had absolutely no chance of achieving that time. At 5am we set off under a huge firework display. Not sure how smart that is as 25,000 people start running thru dowtown in the dark and no-one is looking where they are going because they are all staring at the fireworks - saw a few people trip over curbs etc but I managed to avoid most of the mess. After a mile I was running on pace, and in the clear, but was already drenched in sweat, so I knew this was going to be a rough race. Things go well except for the pit stop behind a bush in downtown Honolulu at mile 2...(that cost me 30 seconds, but it was worth it), and at mile 8 we get to Diamond Head. It's not too bad and I keep on pace as we go over the hill for the first time. As I cross the 10 mile marker at the bottom I'm at 1:34, right on pace and feeling really good.
The Second 10 Miles...
At mile 11 we hit the highway for a boring 4 mile stretch . On the left it's miles 11-15, on the right it's miles 18-22. We get to see the elite athletes and the wheelchair racers zip by, barely sweating and looking very relaxed. It's always cool to see them go by but it's a little humbling to think that they are going at about a 5 minute pace. The highway stretch is into a reasonably strong headwind and it's tough. I look around for someone big to follow and realize I'm probably the tallest person in the race. Slogging on thru the wind I cross the halfway point at 2:03:20 (74 seconds behind plan). Then the sun came up and we move from hot and humid, to hotter and humider. At mile 15 we thankfully leave the highway, and the headwind and loop around the neighborhood for a few miles. At mile 18 we get back on the highway and this time I'm the fast guy passing the slower people coming out on the other side. However, what should have been a tailwind still seemed to be a headwind and it's now about 120 degrees. But I keep going and cross the 20 mile mark at 3:07:55, which was 2:59 behind pace. The wind and heat had really slowed me and I was feeling pretty tired with 6.2 miles (10k to go).
The Final 10k....
This is the final stretch - you reach this point after a 20 mile warmup run feeling fresh and ready to kick it into gear for the final 10k. Nice theory. Doing the math in my head I realized that to hit 4 hours I needed to run a 52 minute 10k, including going over Diamond Head. They say that great racers have the ability to change their race strategy on the fly to account for raceday conditions. I'm certainly no great racer but I sure as hell knew that I wasn't going to be turning in a 52 minute 10k right then, so I switched to plan B. Unfortunately there really wasn't a plan B so the "Marathon Voices" started whispering..... "it's hot, you can walk, you can't beat 4 hours so why are you still running., take a quick break, slow down....". I am determined to fight the urge to walk and remain strong and try to hold to a 9:30 pace which would get me in about 4:05. This goes on for a while getting worse and worse as the voices get louder and louder. Eventually, after about 150 yards the voices win and I'm taking a walk break, but just a quick one. Of course, that's the time I see my marathon coach, who is patrolling miles 20-22 helping all the AidsMarathon runners. Our program is a run/walk program, meaning you run for 5-6 minutes, then walk for a minute. I hate the walk part so I always skip that, so she is surprised to see me walking. She asks me what run/walk ratio I'm on and I tell her it's the run 20 miles, walk 6 miles plan! At this point I'm seriously considering walking the last 6 but I was also looking around for a bus. I walk for about 2-3 miles, only running when I pass a camera, and then get bored of it and start running again. By then I'm about 25 minutes behind plan but manage to get going again. I cover the last 3 miles at about a 9 mile pace, including up and over Diamond Head. I finish feeling OK, at 4:26:11 a good minute per mile behind the planned pace, but I managed to smile for the cameras and pass a few people on the home stretch. The rest of my running pace group comes in between 4:41 and 5:23 so it wasn't just me finding it tough. Even the winner was 8 minutes behind the world record, and he didn't have to run in the sun!
26.2 miles is a long way.
I beat Oprah twice, not once.
I got beaten by a 10 year old girl.
I crushed the 7 year old girl by almost 2 hours.
Nobody over 77 years old beat me.
Hawaii is hot, and it gets worse when the sun comes up.
I was the top AidsMarathon fundraiser in the country, raising over $17,000
I'm now a runner.
thanks for your support - Alan