How to Complete The Honolulu Marathon…

Bucket list – Complete Honolulu Marathon = Check! In my Celtic Hoops, tears in my eyes, smile on my face, feet bloody and sore – think walking on jagged glass sore, with a skip and a hop – I did it – 8 hours, 2 minutes, 28 seconds after I started… my first, last and only marathon has been completed…

I am very glad that I did the marathon, but I have no inclination to do another! It’s just too far…so punishing on the body, (my hands were swollen for days) couldn’t go for a massage after due to the skin chafing/bruising/blisters, and the training takes so much time; you actually put on weight because your body is holding onto your fat stores as reserves for long distance training – that’s something the books don’t mention! There was no red bikini wearing on this trip! I wouldn’t rule out a half-marathon in the future, but a full one – no.

How it all went down: Well before dawn, pre-3 am, had to walk a mile to the zoo, quite fitting actually, to join hundreds of people lining up to get on yellow school-buses, which took us to the vicinity of the start line, actually about a half-mile off, (they don’t mention all the messing about and extra mileage you put in when you sign up for a marathon – it’s not land on the start line 5 minutes before kick-off, start running, keep tight margins on the turns, do 26.2 miles, then magically land in your bed! Not even close!)

I joined the masses milling about – over 29,000 had signed up – not being the best morning person, I was very cranky and not having fun – being up at that time in Vegas, that’s fun; this wasn’t. The air of sleepy anticipation around me morphed into nervous anxiety around 4 30am, when we were encouraged to get it in place, so we could stand about for another 40 minutes! With the comfort level of Pamploma bulls waiting to burst upon the city, we waited…and waited and waited until it was almost time. At 5am, the Star Spangled banner was sung and fireworks exploded across the sky. That made me wish I was at Disneyland, not about to embark on an epic amble around the island…

In the inky-blackness of pre-dawn Honolulu, sometime after 5, we shuffled forward until we crossed the START line – then we all took off – at a slow walk – it was hard to find a natural pace with so many people crammed in such tight formation as snaked our way through the narrow streets of the old city. Despite the dark skies, all the Christmas lights and decorations made it very cheerful and fun. All the fast people peeled off within the first mile, then I was in my pace group – the cool bunch, who stopped to take pictures and high-five and wave to the spectators. There was such a lovely atmosphere of love and joy and action; everyone was pulling for the same goal – to finish!

About 4 miles in, I stopped for the first time to stretch at Waikiki Beach – that was the light – no photoshop or filters…so peaceful…I could have lingered longer but I had a race to finish!

Dawn over Waikiki Beach, Honolulu

About a mile later, we passed behind the Kapiolani Park/finish line, and start the climb up to Diamond Head; that was the most depressing bit – on our the way up, as the sun was rising to greet us, all the winners, with police escorts, passed us on the way down in their last mile. They were very focused and didn’t look too happy but, they were almost done; we had 20 miles to go.

I loved my group of people – many of whom were in costume – we knew we weren’t going to be breaking any records – we were slow and steady, having fun, and enjoying the experience. So many more had pushed themselves too hard and looked miserable as they sat shell-shocked on the curb; I pitied them – why bother doing it if you’re not going to enjoy it? I had my music – from Sinatra, to The Killers, to Broadway/Disney tunes and Lady Gaga – my hat, my new sunglasses and my lip gloss; I was happy.

The middle section was tough – the 13 to 22 mile mark – it was so hot and steamy, not a whisper of a wind. A huge thank you to all the people who hosed us down as we went past, and the Japanese team with the magic spray – they saved me at the 14 and 24 mile mark. The support from the volunteers, the teams of fans, the people of Honolulu, was phenomenal – so appreciate their love and encouragement – I was truly touched and tried to acknowledge as many of them as I could with waves and high-fives…and the Aloha/hang loose signs – see photos above!

The course was evil at the last – they made us go up hill for what felt like forever with a couple of miles to go – this is me digging in, summoning every ounce of fight I had left in me…so tired, feet killing me, so hot, hands swollen like clay, so jealous of the people in deckchairs drinking beer in their front gardens, as they cheered us on!

Finally, as I passed my hotel, I knew I’d a half-mile to go, I could see the FINISH line ahead; as tears rolled down my face, Streisand ironically sang, ‘As the parade passes by’-(“I’m ready to move out in front, I’ve had enough of just passing by life…I’m going to hold my head up high…” on my ipod, I was in the final stretch…so honored that so many of the finishers hung around and waved us on…I broke into a skip for the last hundred yards and crossed the line…since it took me 16 minutes to cross the start, my official time was 8h 2m 28s..

I could have been faster, but I’ve no regrets – the next day, my muscles were sore, like after a big session at the gym, but I was able to hike several miles on a tour of the island – I was in more pain from my blisters, chafed skin and bloody toenails – my shoes were soaked in blood and my baby nails are black…have to wear very dark purple nail polish so nobody can tell!!!

Anyway, once you finish, the bastards make you walk another half-mile(!) to get your medal and shirt….then, I couldn’t walk across the course, so I had another mile and a half to go up and around to get back to my hotel. A huge thank you to Brian from Aloha foods for my green juice, healthy snacks, and big hug; there’s nothing like a familiar, welcoming face to give you a jolt of life. By that point I was bowed over, and by turns, whimpering, cursing, and talking out-loud – “Almost there…breathe…more…just wee bit more…you’ve got this” until I collapsed on my bed, before enduring an agonizing tepid bath, then crashed for several hours…before enjoying a glorious sunset over Waikiki Beach…

Orange sunset over Waikiki Beach

Lesson Learned: Never give up! If you want something bad enough, and you put in the work, you will triumph…but you have to really want it and dig down, hard, to see it through, all the way to the finish. There were weeks that I doubted myself, my body, and my ability…feared that I’d never be able to pull it off…but I did…thank you, my beautiful body – you were magnificent!

Question Left Behind: What have you really wanted to do, but let fear and doubt stand in your way? Do you still have that dream? What would it take from you to make it happen?

I will be doing a whole article on the Oahu trip itself – coming soon-ish!
For now – I wish you the best for 2014, enjoy your life, spend time with people who make you feel most like you, do stuff you love, dream on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone….



I am Scottish by design - citizen of the world by choice...I am a storyteller, who loves to entertain, enlighten and inspire....I believe that sometimes the only mode of transportation is a leap of faith.... I know we are all striving to be the best version of ourselves, that sometimes it's difficult to even get out of bed in the morning, but you have to keep moving, keep trusting, keeping believing.... Walk on with hope, joy, and love in your heart and you'll never walk alone....

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