Honolulu Marathon Recap

Saucony 26 Strong | happyfitmama.com

Stronger together.

That’s the best way I can sum up the unbelievable experience of running the Honolulu Marathon with my Saucony 26 Strong Cadet, Kailey.

I thought about breaking this up into multiple posts but then I decided to just let it all out in one. This is long so grab some coffee and snacks, you are going to be here for awhile.

Let’s start from the beginning.

Dark and early, Friday morning, Kailey and I along Ron, started our 12+ hour journey to Hawaii. You guys, 11 hours on a plane is a long ass time. Definitely not the most ideal situation when you’ll be running a marathon in 1 1/2 days, going through 5 time zones and a completely different climate. But, we were going to freakin’ Hawaii so it was all good. Kailey’s flight probably felt A LOT longer since she was stuck next to a guy who talked non-stop for hours.

Surprisingly, I didn’t feel too bad once we landed in Honolulu. A little dazed and confused, but my legs were fine. I crashed hard later that night after meeting all the other Saucony 26 Strong teams and our peeps from Saucony (Brandon and Sean) and Competitor Magazine (Erin). After months and months of emails, it was so amazing to actually put faces and voices to the names. We also got some sweet 26 Strong gear and two new yet to be released pairs of shoes (both quickly became my new favs while walking all over Oahu after the race).

Saturday morning we all met up again for photos, a shake out run and breakfast. The first thing we noticed – it was hot! Kailey and I both commented that we were sweating even before we ran.

shake out run  happyfitmama.com

Our first indicator that this was going to be a very, very interesting race was at the expo. Walking into the expo was like being on a Japanese game show. Everything was written and spoken in Japanese. Anime characters were everywhere. Just a precursor to what was to come race day. I spent the rest of the day hanging out on the beach with my feet up.

beach | happyfitmama.com

Race day!

I was up before my alarm at 2:45. The first thing I heard? The wind. And then I saw the rain. My rainy marathon streak continues!

We got dressed, ate horribly dry bagels with almond butter and made our way downstairs to meet our teammates. Before we knew it, we were off in the dark, windy rain for a 1.5 mile walk to the starting line.

It was mass disorganization the closer we got to the starting line. There were people everywhere. Maybe I was just sleep deprived and didn’t notice but all the signs I saw were in Japanese. I had not idea where the starting line was or where the pace groups were. I just followed the crowd. We lost everyone in our group pretty quickly. Kailey needed to use the port-a-potty before we lined up so we started off toward the field where it looked like there were massive lines and not a whole lot of bathrooms. Before we could get to the field we had to cross a canal. A canal that had two bridges and as we soon found out – an entrance and an exit. We were at the exit. We backtracked against the crowd to the entrance. I tried to convince Kailey to just go behind a tree. I did and eventually Kailey tried to with no success. Race day nerves were running high for Kailey.

prehnlmarathonOur shirts are soaked and we haven’t even run yet! (photo courtesy of Kailey)

We went across the correct exit of the park and tried to find the starting line. I somehow got behind a guy who had the same idea so we tagged along. We got up pretty close to the front which did us no good. Once the fireworks went off signaling the start, almost everyone around us was too busy taking videos of the fireworks to actually run or move for that matter. So we trotted for who knows how long. Runners (walkers?) were tripping over barricades and on the wet pavement. Pandemonium. Surprisingly, it cleared out relatively quickly.

The first 5 miles flew by as we ran through the empty streets of Honolulu and Waikiki. Christmas decorations were out in full force. It seemed out of place since we were running in tanks and shorts. It felt more like August! The rain and wind were still coming down. At times it was a mist which was nice. Others, it was pelting us in the face and hurtful. Thankfully, at least the temps were warm.

There were so many people dressed up in characters that it felt like we were running  a Disney race. Nothing was off limits – including running with a stuffed pig on your head or wearing a giant cat costume complete with matching head. A group of Japanese high school boys also kept us entertained for those early miles. They had so much energy and excitement. I’m not sure they realized they had 20+ more miles to cover!


I was feeling really good for the first 16 miles. Kailey was not. Her nerves were still in high gear. She kept telling me to leave her, but there was no way. We were a team. That meant stopping for bathroom breaks as needed, walking through water stops and just keeping it easy. Just as Kailey was beginning to feel better, I started to feel nauseous. It wasn’t in my stomach but more up high in my throat, like I was ready to throw up at any second. And then the calf cramps started around mile 20. It was the kind where my calf would just tighten up and not release. We ended up run/walking quite a bit the last 6 miles. I begged Kailey to leave me and to finish the race strong. But she refused. We were in this together!

After walking (and literally being pulled by Kailey) up Diamond Head at mile 24, it was time for a sweet downhill to the finish. At that time the sun came out too. I told myself DO NOT WALK till the finish line. Just as we were about to enjoy the downhill, we saw Erin, Brandon and Sean cheering us on. Nothing is better than seeing  familiar faces to get you out of a funk.

Honolulu Marathon mile 25 | happyfitmama.comThe last 2 miles were long. Like really long. Finally the finish line appeared. We crossed the finish line and I told Kailey – YOU ARE A MARATHONER!

Finish time – 4:33

I’m so proud of Kailey for not giving up and pushing through. She didn’t give up on me either. I had a number in my head about what our finishing time would be. If everything had gone as planned, I truly believe we would have reached it. But things happen. Plans change. We did the best we could with what we had. And I think that’s pretty marvelous.

What followed after the finish was more mass confusion. It didn’t help that I still wasn’t feeling the greatest. Thankfully, Ron found us relatively quickly. After that we were shuttled to the finisher’s area where we were handed a cup of water. Yes, one small cup. I was still nauseous so Kailey went to find us food as I sat down with my head between my knees.

Honolulu Marathon Post | happyfitmama.com

I tried to choke down a bagel but couldn’t do it. And then I started to get really cold. My soaking wet clothes were now making me shiver, my teeth chatter and my fingernails turn blue. I pulled on my cotton finisher’s tee just to get a little warmer as we started our 1.5 mile walk back to the hotel. I finally started to feel a little normal during our very, very slow shuffle.

Later that night, Saucony and Competitor put together a great post race dinner for the whole team. It was fun to hang out, relax, enjoy celebratory drinks (a margarita never tasted so good!) and reflect on this amazing experience.

Saucony and Competitor Peeps  happyfitmama.com

I can’t thank Saucony and Competitor enough for this opportunity. Words can’t even begin to describe my gratitude. My mind is officially blown. I was a fan before I was even asked to participate in 26 Strong, but now, you’ve got me for life.THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!

Going into this, I was unsure of why I was asked to be involved as a coach. My marathon experience isn’t like the other coaches – I had only done one prior. And it was a really horrible experience. I didn’t feel like I could give a whole lot of words of wisdom to a newbie. But after this, I know that one thing is sure. No matter how many marathons you’ve done, one thing stays the same.

Marathons are freaking hard!

Icebreaker Holiday Gift Guide

Icebreaker  happyfitmama.com

This post is sponsored by Icebreaker. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

When the temperature drops, I live in wool. Nothing keeps me warmer. Gone are the days of the scratchy material. Now it’s all merino wool that is soft just like your favorite cotton tee.

I was recently asked to create my own gift guide from Icebreaker. I had never heard of the brand before but was very interested once I took a peek at their super cute fitness and daily wear clothes.

Icebreaker has a holiday gift guide for every person on your list. From The Minimalist to The Fitness Fanatic, they’ve got you covered. I chose a combination of The Globe Trotter and The Glamper.

Icebreaker outfit | happyfitmama.com

Immediately when I saw the Iris Long Sleeve Tunic, I loved it. It just screamed comfort. And it definitely is that. I wore it on our 20 hour trip home from Hawaii. It’s lightweight and naturally odor-resistant. It’s also very packable – no wrinkling!

As soon as I put on the Villa Leggings, I felt like I was in my PJ’s. Not only are these the softest leggings I’ve ever own, they are also versatile. I can dress it up a bit with a nice shirt and boots or I could wear them as a base layer under my snow pants for any winter activity. The only complaint I have is that I wish I would have ordered a smaller size so they’d be just a little more snug. Other than that, I can honestly say I’ll be living in these leggings all winter long.

Check out the Icebreaker Gift Guide where you can find gifts for every nature.

How to Be a Winter Warrior During a Polar Vortex

 A HUGE thanks to my friend Johanna, who is here today to spread the winter running love. The perfect thing to talk about while I’m basking in the warm Hawaiian sunshine. 

There’s no need to hibernate – get out there!

winter running guest post

Cooler temperatures. Impending polar vortex. Frostbite on the plants I forgot to bring inside. And the Farmer’s Almanac predicting the 2014 – 2015 winter as one during which we won’t only be cold, but we’ll exist as a “Refriger-nation.”

Who’s ready to lace up their sneaks and run outside with me?

Winter weather (unless you live in Florida) offers two stark options for runners.

1. Dusting off the treadmill (or the “dreadmill” as I lovingly call it) and start logging miles which catching up with Scandal and Downtown Abbey.


2. Learning how to layer up, to stay safe and to find motivation to run outside.

Without a doubt,  I’ll opt for layers, safety and motivation over the treadmill any day of the week.

Last year, I consistently ran outside 4x week, logging about 75-85 miles/month. Believe it or not, some of my favorite, treasured runs happened during blizzards and snowstorms.

Sure, my friends thought I was a bit (entirely) nutty for running outside in less than ideal weather.

Between you and me, I love running in the winter. In fact, when I look back over my training notebook for last winter, I ran the most consistently and frequently in the cooler, winter months.

Right now you may just be wondering “How did she motivate to do that? What did she wear? And how did she stay safe? It’s scary to run in the snow, ice and darker, shorter days!”

You’ve got questions about how to be a winter warrior and I’ve got your answers.

When dressing to run outside in the winter, here’s what you need to know.

  • Cover your head.
  • It’s all about the base (layers), no tricky cotton (Angela did a great post on this already.)
  • Protect your hands
  • Dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer outside.

Once you’re dressed and ready to go out the door, safety has to be at the forefront of your mind. Always make sure you can:

  • See (headlamps are a great addition to your winter warrior wardrobe)
  • Be seen (brighter colors and reflective gear, vests and blinky lights are a must)
  • Be like ET and carry a phone to call home if need be
  • Screw your sneaks. Seriously, make DIY YakTrax and put screws into your sneakers (Learn more HERE.)

winter running guest post 2

So you’ve gotten yourself outside a few times. Rightfully so, you’re quite proud for braving the elements and getting your sweat on. But now it’s week two of cold, dark, dreary weather and your motivation is starting to wane. What’s a girl to do to stay running?

  • Sign up for a late winter or early spring race. That will light a fire under you for sure.
  • Find a running buddy. It’s the sole (get it?!) reason I consistently ran as much as I did last year.
  • Change your mindset. Winter running isn’t about PRs and tempo work. It’s about maintenance mileage.
  • And my favorite, channel your inner badass.

How do you plan to stay warm, safe and motivated this winter to keep up your mileage?

For weekly running motivation, insight and training tips, come visit me at www.johannavoss.com