With enough time (9 weeks) between Chicago and Honolulu, I decided shortly before running Chicago that I would also race Honolulu.  A few weeks after coming back from Chicago I offered to pace my Sunday morning running friend, Richard, to a sub-3:00 marathon attempt.  Richard and I had been placing very comparable results in the Honolulu Marathon Readiness Series races, so it seemed to make a lot of sense.

The Training

After a couple recovery weeks, I got my weekly mileage back up to 65 to 75 miles, kept running the Sunday morning long runs with the guys, and threw in a few tempo and track workouts.  Definitely a little load to manage, as Chicago was the “A” race of the year.  So I took it easy, enjoy all of my runs, and kept things very light and casual.

Richard and I agreed on a positive split strategy, having us cross the half as early as 1:27:30 to make room for an expected fade through Kahala and back up Diamond Head.  We were going to run the flat miles slightly faster than goal pace (6:49/mile), slow down on the uphill, and pick up a bit on the downhill.


Darin, Yuki’s boyfriend, drove us down to the start the morning of the race, and we met up with Richard 30 minutes prior to 5:00AM start time.  30,000+ runners at the start (40th anniversary of the Honolulu Marathon so the highest attendance ever!), so it was very congested, and we only had time to snake up to the start, find a bush and take care of business, then the fire works were going off and we were officially on our way.  I was carrying a water bottle and 4 Peanut Butter GU gels for the ride.

Mile 1 -3 (6:49, 6:44, 6:41)

We were concerned the first couple of miles would be slow, but we elbowed are way up to the very front moments prior to the gun going off, so we actually did not have too bad of a time getting into a stride.  We’re focused on hitting our splits, and given that the first 8 miles or so are quite flat, we decide to run a little faster.  By mile 3 we’re on Kapiolani Blvd heading back towards the mall.

Mile 4 – 6 (6:38, 6:37, 6:30)

Some fast miles here because we want to save some time prior to getting to Kapiolani Park and Diamond Head.  Winds are picking up and it’s not nice heading out through Waikiki I remember.  Also quite upsetting how few water stations there are on the course so far.  Either way, Richard is breathing well, we’re both laser-focused at the task at hand, and trucking along very smoothly.

Mile 7 – 9 (6:44, 7:06, 6:44)

Heading back through the park and up Diamond Head (hence the slower mile 8) then back down and up through Kilauea Avenue.  I do notice the wind again and it’s concerning for sure.  Humidity is not bad as expected, but I’m quite the sweater and I’m sweating quite heavily already.  So I concentrate on taking in a lot of water, take my first gel somewhere in here.  Pace is still good, and we’re on track for a good first half split.

Mile 10 – 12 (6:41, 7:44, 6:37)

A good mile 10, then in mile 11 I need to make a pit stop so I tell Richard to keep going and I’ll catch up with him.  Mile 12 is faster in order to make up some of the time I lost.  Still haven’t caught up with Richard, which is a good thing, and I hope that he’s still feeling strong/confident.  Definitely difficult to pick up the pace much faster than 6:30ish given the strong head winds blowing around 35 mph!!

Mile 13 – 15 (6:41, 6:50, 7:05)

Pace starts to drop in this stretch as we’re running right into the wind.  I remember really feeling gas-ed at this point in the race and being concerned that I would not be able to catch up with Richard and bring him home under 3 hours.  I look around and several other runners are struggling to get through the wind.  We do our best drafting one another, sharing in the responsibility, but we’re all fairly off pace (one going too fast and another going too slow) so I end up running a lot of this by myself (cursing my luck throughout).  I crossed the half way mark right at 1:30:00 and think to myself there is no way I can do another one of these if things continue on the way they are currently going.

Mile 16 – 18 (6:58, 6:43, 6:47)

Going through Hawaii Kai at this point, and getting off of the highway and on Hawaii Kai Drive is a blessing, no more wind!  I usually hate this loop but this time it feels amazing, comfortable, and significantly easier than the head wind!  I’m also feeling much better and feel like I’ve gotten a second wind (no pun intended).  Splits show some recovery in pace.  Still no sign of Richard and I think wow he must be jamming. I’m really excited for him and the thought of trying to catch up to him.

Mile 19 – 21 (6:47, 6:52, 6:53)

Probably the most comfortable and enjoyable stretch of the entire marathon.  Tail winds on us (no complaints) but also seeing all of the other runners cheering us on gives me a nice boost of much needed energy.  Still can’t see Richard, but I’m ok with that because I know he must be doing well.  I see several familiar faces, including my sister, and everyone is smiling and enjoying themselves out there.  Super awesome to be a part of it all.  One mile more and we’re off of the highway, heading back through Kahala for the final home stretch!  Legs are definitely feeling fatigued.  And my stomach is still wonky and all over the place (need to fix this – help!).  But I’m relaxed, enjoying the moment, and continuing to push.

Mile 22 – 24 (6:56, 6:42, 7:04)

I just trying to keep an average goal marathon pace at this point.  Always tough going back through Kahala on that last, long stretch.  My legs are pretty shot at this point, the sun is starting to creep out, and I’m starting to really not like this run anymore 🙂 Between mile 23 and 24, on the uphill climb I see Richard’s girlfriend and ask her how far ahead Richard is ahead of me. She has a puzzled look on her face and tells me she hasn’t seen Richard yet!  I’m so confused and don’t know what to do, so I sprint up the hill looking for Richard.  Don’t see him, so I drink some water, use the porter potty, and wait about 30 or so seconds for him.  Still not 100% confident that he’s behind me, I decide to keep going forward.

Mile 25 – 26.2 (8:24, 6:09)

I jam down Diamond Head, figure I might as well finish as hard as I can. I can’t do math at this point, so I’m still pushing to see if I can squeeze in just under 3 hours (hence the reason for 6:09 for mile 26!!).  At the last turn on the home stretch I realize there is no way, so I ease up significantly, relax and take it easy through the final 100m down the shoot.

Finish time – 3:01:40

  • 8th marathon complete
  • Boston Qualifying finish time
  • First (fairly unsuccessful) pacing job complete

Richard crossed the finish at 3:05:xx a couple minutes behind me.  What ended up happening was he jumped into a porter potty around mile 17 or 18 and I passed him without knowing it.  It was unfortunate but really unavoidable.  I felt terrible for leaving him out there, not to mention finish the race before him.  But thank goodness he had a good sense of humor about it.  We both enjoyed ourselves out there and had no regrets about any of it.

The Analysis

Another good marathon experience for me (my Garmin splits can be seen here.  Probably will be the last time I race Honolulu.  I’ll probably run it again, but never again for time or really pushing it.  It just isn’t a well-organized and support race for serious runners.  It’s unfortunate but it’s a reality with this one.

I ran with compression socks (never do) and I think they actually helped in the second half.  Not sure I’ll race with them again, but definitely interested.  The compression tights I wore actually really did help and I’ll probably pick that up for Boston.  The Peanut Butter GU gels, unfortunately (because I LOVE, LOVE the taste of them) I think are too thick and might be upsetting my stomach a bit.  I’m going back to the Hammer Gels for Boston training and will race Boston with them.  Definitely need to stabilize the stomach before Boston.  Think it’s the food intake, as well as timing of when I’m eating.  Need to practice on my runs, particularly the long runs.  Might need to take less water breaks during these runs and simulate actual race day conditions more, because my stomach seems to turn like clock work shortly after the 10k mark.  Even this time around I ate significantly less the morning of (half a bagel, apple juice, two cups of coffee) but still had to go.

I’m looking forward to getting ready for Boston shortly after the new year!  Until then, hoping to not put on too much weight, spend time with family and friends, and work on building a good base of miles.  Will check back in later!  Thanks always for your time and support!