I did all that, and it was awesome. But slow. Very, very slow.
The race started at 7 am, and I wasn't quite so prepared for my 4 am wakeup call. It was dark. It was kind of chilly. And there was no sweats check. Seriously, I had to ask about that, because I got my bag all ready and was going to bring an extra layer. But checking sweat pants and warm layers is really not necessary in Honolulu in February. Or probably ever. Maggs offered me an old shirt to toss at the start, but I decided a little chill might be good motivation. And by the time I finally got to the start, I was nice and warm.
The race advertised 25,000 participants, and I think we were the only ones who carpooled. Traffic getting into the stadium was surprising, but then I take the bus to all my races. After some challenges finding parking, we made it on one of the last buses to the starting line. I didn't think to take any early morning photos, but Frayed Laces did.
We made our way through downtown with only minutes to spare before the race started. I didn't think 25,000 people would be so crowded, but the lines for the portapotties were huge. We finally kind of cut in the middle when we realized that a lot of people didn't know how to navigate the lines. If you're planning your first race for sometime this year, please note that the line isn't just for ONE portable toilet, but rather for the few closest to you.
We made our way to the starting area, and my two running friends and I split up. They wanted to position themselves closer to the starting line, and I wanted to stay back far enough to not get run over. In retrospect, I should have stuck with them and pushed my way closer to the front. I crossed the starting mats about 20 minutes after the race started.
And there were no serious walkers that far back in the pack. I had to dodge thousands of people who were out for a nice early morning stroll. But the view was nice and I got to watch the sun rise over Honolulu.
I knew within the first half mile that I wouldn't be moving too fast. The crowd was difficult to navigate and it was hot out. Really hot. Much hotter than I'd expected for that early in the morning. Thankfully, a large portion of the race is run under the freeway, so I was well protected from the sun. And my legs were still tired from the half marathon. I had enough vacation time left that I decided not to push it, and I spent several miles enjoying the scenery and watching the crowd.
I saw a bunch of nordic walkers, a couple running with their dog in a stroller - seriously, I tried to get photos but they moved a little too fast - and a group of Benedictine nuns and brothers running for vocations. They were the walking contingent of their group, and we chatted for a while. I picked up speed when they invited me to visit their monastery for a weekend. I cheered on some Team-in-Training walkers and watched whole families chat as they walked. Most of the participants I encountered weren't out to race, but just wanted to be outside and spend some time with family and friends. Maybe my perspective would have been different if I'd started closer to the front of the pack, but I liked what I saw.
As we approached the final mile I tried to pick up the pace, and ended up finishing in slightly less than two hours. I didn't quite make my goal, and my splits were consistently about 15 seconds slower than my pace the weekend before, but overall I'm pretty happy with the race.
We hung out in the stadium for awhile, listening to the post-race band and hoping to win some really cool prizes, but we came away emptyhanded. Really, though, what could I have done with round-trip airfare for two? Signed up for next year's race and planned a return trip? I did get a discounted registration offer in an email last week.