It's been 2 weeks since I ran the Wahine Half-Marathon in Honolulu. It wasn't an "A" race, or even a "B" race; it was a more a "C" race, "C" being for "convenience." My cousin Becki, who lives on O'ahu, recently started running and signed up for this race a long time ago. I didn't plan to visit Hawai'i until early February, and when we booked our flights, I realized that I would be there for this race and decided to run it with her.
On the Friday evening before race day, we picked up our bibs and race packet at the expo that was held at the ING Cafe in Waikiki.
It was a tiny little expo but there were some cute items for sale. I got a singlet, jacket, Headsweats hat and a cowbell.
The next day my Mom's side of the family had a picnic at Ala Moana Beach Park. The signs were already out to close the park for the race on Sunday. One of my brilliant aunts moved these signs from the curbs to the streets to save parking spaces for the family.
Little did I know that where we picnicked was the exact area that the race would start at. I spent that day in the blazing sun at the beach. I tried to stay hydrated but it was probably not the best thing to do the day before a race. I also didn't get much sleep that evening and painfully dragged myself out of bed at 4:30 am on Sunday morning.
Continuing with the "ill-prepared" theme, I ate a slice of bread for breakfast (not the best pre-race meal) and then set out running down the dark streets of Waikiki, 2-miles to the Start area. I've always said that it's safe to run in the dark in the early mornings because the "bad people" aren't out at that hour, but I think Waikiki is the exception. There were some sketchy people out there - I swear I ran by a drug deal going down between 2 dudes on bicycles. It's a good thing there were a few other ladies also running to the start and we stayed within close proximity to each other.
When I got to the Start area, it was still dark, but the air was already feeling thick. And there weren’t any port-a-potties, at least I didn't see any. With a few thousand female runners, you'd think they would be somewhat visible. Also, I have never seen a race with more tutus. Seriously, tutus were so 2010 - can they just be retired already?
I met up with Becki and her friend Joyce and we chatted for a few minutes before going into our respective pace groups.
The race organizers announced some pre-race instructions, complete with Japanese translation since a lot of the runners were Japanese tourists. Then they played the National Anthem - a recording of a Jennifer Hudson performance. Then they kept talking some more. All this hoopla made the race start late and all I could think about was that every minute they kept prolonging the start was another minute I would be suffering in the heat at the end.
We finally got started and as soon as we did, I had to pee. So half a mile in I veered off course and ran into one of the public restrooms in Ala Moana Beach Park. Lucky for me, there was no line to wait in, but when I came out, a long line had accumulated.
I tried to make up some time lost from the bathroom break but the shin splints that I'd been having all week came back and so I limped along for the first 3 miles. Miraculously it disappeared along Mile 4, but by that time the sun had risen and it turned out to be a hot and muggy day. I kept repeating to myself, "You're running in Hawai'i - this is FUN!" and just tried to enjoy the experience.
The first 3 miles of the course looped around the park, then ran along Ala Moana Boulevard, at some points also along the south shore. It was calming and relaxing to see the ocean swells (so unlike Ocean Beach in SF!) which made the humidity a bit more tolerable. Also, the race was well staffed with lots of aid stations, enthusiastic volunteers and cheer groups. I stopped at every one, double-fisting the water cups as well as refilling my handheld.
The turnaround was on Mile 7 at the Fishing Village pier and on the way back we ran into the sun with no shade. I melted a few times but had a pick-me-up when I saw Becki passing by.
One of my favorite moments of the race was running under the Aloha Tower. I have always been fascinated with the history of Honolulu during its glamour days in the 1920's and 30's when the Aloha Tower opened.
Although my legs and lungs felt good, the heat wore me down and I just couldn't get going. I walked A LOT and so did everyone else around me. It's a little hard to muster up the energy when everyone else around you is walking too. I chatted with a lady who had been running near me the entire race. She was also visiting Hawai'i from the mainland and told me she is normally a sub-1:50 half-marathoner but was just hoping to "finish" that day.
I managed to put together several run bursts and soon enough found myself at Mile 12. This race being part of the "Run Like a Diva" series, handed out pink boas and tiaras to all the runners on this mile. I thought it was weird to do that before the Finish Line. Some of the ladies stopped to put it on, but I was so hot that I didn't want anything else on me.
The Boa/Tiara station was right next to the Finish area, yet we still had to make one final loop around the park. The final stretch of the race ended on grass. That was kinda a surprise. As soon as we crossed the Finish Line we were given our medals, an anthurium flower and led to a line for Finisher photos.
I walked through the food line to collect some water, bananas, oranges and bagels, then sat on the grass, stretched and waited to see Becki make the final loop of the park. She finished strong and then joined me while we waited for Joyce to finish!
I can't really say what my time was for this race. I didn't run with my Garmin and the race site has posted 2 vastly different times for me, both of which are different from what the clock said when I crossed it. But I don’t really care what my time was. I wasn't going for a PR and all 3 of the times were faster than my PW so I'm satisfied with that.
It was a good experience, and I enjoyed myself. Yes, it was hot, humid and muggy, but it was expected. Having a race while on vacation motivated me to complete all of my workout that were on my schedule for the week which I bet I wouldn’t have done had it not been for the race.
I'm also glad I got to complete a race in my home state, but I'm pretty sure that it will be my one and only Hawaiian race experience. San Francisco weather has spoiled me.
And since my race photos are once again hideous, here's a photo of a true "diva" modeling the tiara and boa..