Category Archives: Races

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!

hnlmarathon

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!

Race Week Thoughts

Last 20 miler | happyfitmama.comKailey’s last 20 miler of this training cycle.

Race week is here!

In two days, we’ll be flying the friendly skies for a (very) long time before landing in Hawaii, where it will be sunny (hopefully) and warm (but hopefully not too warm).

My mind is kind of all over the place. Right now, I’m mostly focused on what needs to get done before we leave. So many things especially since it’s the first time Ron and I are vacationing sans kids. My absolutely wonderful parents, are flying in tonight and will be hanging out with the kids while we are gone for the next week.

Since I’ve been preoccupied with all the logistics with that, I really haven’t thought too much about the marathon.

The big question that everyone asks and that is hanging over my head:

Am I ready?

I’m really not sure.

I am not completely in marathon shape. This I know is true. After having to take all of October off from running because of my Achilles and back injuries, I just started to slowly build up my mileage again in November. My Achilles is absolutely fine when I am running. It does feel “pinched” afterwards and other random times. My back is also good. No problems at all. The farthest distance I’ve covered since returning is 16 miles. I felt great during it and felt like I could do more. I’m hoping my body will remember the two 20 milers and one 21.5 miler I did prior to October.

Even though it’s not what I pictured, it’s still going to be an amazing race.

My goal is to enjoy. Enjoy the scenery. Enjoy the movement of running. Enjoy helping a friend reach her goal.

My number one priority is to make sure my cadet, Kailey, crosses the finish line of her first marathon. This isn’t my race. It’s hers. She’s put in the miles, done exactly as I prescribed for her. She worked really hard while training and I am so very, very proud of her!

If you are interested in tracking us, it’s available through the Honolulu Marathon website. My bib # is 14604.

It’s going to be a crazy, good time. I’m ready to be on the plane already. I’m ready to meet the other teams from Saucony 26 Strong that are running Honolulu.

I’m ready to run.

Six03 Great Pumpkin 10k Relay Recap

Six03 Great Pumpkin 10k Relay | happyfitmama.com

You guys, I ran a race over the weekend.

I know what you are all thinking…WHAT? Aren’t you injured?

So here’s the thing. I ran twice last week and with every run, I saw progress in my injuries. I was able to run further with less discomfort. My plan was to try for at least 3 miles on Saturday. However, I was already registered for the Six03 Great Pumpkin 10k Relay with Kailey. The way the relay was set up was Runner #1 ran 1.5 miles and then handed off the baton pumpkin to Runner #2 for their 1.5 mile loop. Then it was all repeated again for a total of 6 miles or 3 miles for each runner. I didn’t want to have another DNS, but I knew there was no way I was going to actually race. Kailey was cool with me taking it easy so it was decided – I was running!

The race was located at Flag Hill Winery on the trails behind the vineyard. It was a chilly 41 degrees and sprinkling rain at the start. As with any trail race, the atmosphere is way different than a road race. It was a smaller crowd, no bibs, no timing chips. And very chill. Since it was a Halloween themed race, there were a few costumes. The most memorable being the Baywatch inspired team with the large man wearing a blonde wig, a stuffed tank ala Pam Anderson and complete with lifeguard float. The only race requirement? A mini pumpkin that had the team number that each runner carried during their leg.

Kailey started Team Pumpkin Pushers off while I tried to stay warm. We had done a 10 minute light warm up run before the start. I actually was very surprised how well all my aches were feeling even during that. Before I knew it, I saw Kailey trucking across the field. We had decided on wearing all black as our team uniform, but thankfully she wore her bright orange Saucony shoes. I could clearly pick her out!

Thoughts from my sections of the run:

  • I’m running!
  • I’m getting passed. Speed up. No! YOU ARE NOT RACING!
  • I love running on trails! A bed of soft pine needles and dirt feels so much better than pavement. I need to run more trails.
  • AGHHHHHHHHH!!!! Creepy old doll randomly in the woods propped up against a tree!
  • Holy steep, muddy downhill. Slow. Slow. Slow.
  • That guy has a dirty butt. I guess he didn’t slow down the steep hill.
  • Watch out for that tree.
  • I’m running!
  • Why don’t I run trails more?
  • I’m so happy I’m going to cry!

Six03 Great Pumpkin Relay  happyfitmama.comPhoto courtesy of Kailey.

Such a fun race! Even though we didn’t technically race it, we still did quite well – 38/80 with a time of 50:23. I was just unbelievably happy to be back to running relatively pain free. My Achilles felt great. My SI/L5 weren’t too bad. I definitely could tell I’m still not 100%. It just felt like I didn’t have as much strength on my right side as compared to the left. I was a little sore later in the day, but overall all good.

I’m happy to be back in my running shoes again! And that is simply marvelous.

How was your weekend? Run long? Run a race?