The Unfinished Marathon
December 27, 2008, 9:47 am
Filed under: Life, Running | Tags: , , , ,

5:12am, December 14, 2008–somewhere into Mile 2 of my third official Honolulu Marathon (I’ve crashed one before without a bib number) in heavy downpour, I realized this fact:  the culmination of my smarter, faster, more dedicated training this entire year will be logged on the time chip that’s on my shoe right now, but it will only have the start time–damn. Two days prior to the marathon, I went back for a doctor’s visit, and my surgeon said that I can now live as if I have never had surgery. When I asked if I am allowed to run the marathon, she looked at me with curious eyes before saying “sure.” The curiosity, I interpreted, was “you’ve been training?”–a rhetorical question…

I started on a training plan early in the year, upped my weekly mileage, added in more speed workouts, for which I have to really psyche myself up the night before, I even started a two-women running club, which, to this day, remains a two-women running club–all for a PR.  Little did I know how much life had prepared to intervene this year.

Friends were surprised that I decided to run the marathon after the surgery, even parts of it; I didn’t think it was an option not to run it, it was only a matter of how much.  Waking up at 3:30am the morning of Marathon Day, I still haven’t decided how much I could run.  I have, after all, run but a total of 4 miles in the last six weeks, I didn’t know the mileage my legs could handle.

I was excited and ready to go. I put on my new, expensive Titanium socks that I bought from the marathon expo.  The titanium powder in the socks is said to regulate the body’s natural electric current through cell ionization, enhancing blow flow and muscle relaxation.  I’m not sure what that means, but no pain surly sounds enticing.img_00014 a.m. Ivy and I met up with my friend Liz and her running buddy, Rosie.  Our goal time is sub-4:30, so we inched our way up to the projected 3-4 hrs start area.


The rain, which has been mercilessly generous in the days prior was holding back at this time. Minutes before the 5 a.m. start gun shot (fired by President-Elect Obama’s sister), the fireworks lit the still pitch black sky.


As soon as we passed the start line, the rain first cheered us on with a slight sprinkle, crescendoing into a grand congratulatory downpour.  I am normally loathe running in the rain, but this day the thick drops felt extra refreshing on the skin. Ivy said her socks were completely soaked by mile 4, it took my titanium socks another two miles before they were saturated with water. I give them a thumbs up!img_0041

Just like previous years, the Honolulu Marathon has a high percentage of runners flow in from Japan just for the event. There were clearly a huge decrease in foreign runners this year, but the ones who ran still showcased entertaining costumes. Somewhere along mile six, Ivy and I spotted this sumo-runner, it was raining hard, but I had to get a picture.

img_0001_2 Running in proximity of such sour eye candy propelled us to run a little faster.  Into the next mile, we came up behind a blue and white superhero.img_0003_2We were not sure if it’s who we thought it was, so we ran ahead of him/her to verify.img_0002_2It was nonetheless my childhood hero, Doraemon! I ran close to him and yelled with my very limited Japanese, “ganbatte, Doraemon!” He responded in typical spirited Japanese fashion, “HAI!” and I continued my quest to find more iconic runners. Other notable runners included Yoda, Darth Vader, and King Kamehameha, all of whom I had outrun.

Before I knew it, I have already run past mile 7 and 9, two of my three mile marker options to stop and call my friend for pick up. Just then, I looked at my phone to see the time and saw that I had received a text message from my cheerleader of the day, Hideki, a fellow runner friend. I had told him of my goals of running at least 7, 9, or 11 miles, but seeing his text, and I was already at mile 9, I was inspired to go all the way to 13.1 so my feet can touch down on the next time chip mat. Having declared new goal, I tucked my camera away and really started the race.

My favorite part of the marathon course is a downhill stretch between mile 9 and 10. In previous years of running the race, when I got to to top of the hill, I would see a sea of runners below me with the sun starting its climb over them–part of the thrill of a big race. The glorious view was not to be on this cloudy day.

img_0007_2Running past mile 11, the lack of training for the last six weeks evidenced itself in my legs.  I started to feel tightness in my hamstrings. My little toe started to blister, my knees started crackling. I wanted to walk, but Ivy still had her sub 4:30 goal to meet, so I kept running. The last mile was difficult as my body started to slow down. When the body starts to give in, the only thing to do is keep thinking inspiring thoughts, and for me, thoughts that can inspire during a run are either elated or angry ones. “The stupid lump,” I thought,”had caused me so much stressed, anxiety, pain, and it had kept me from running for so long, I’ll be damned if I don’t show it who has won the battle.”

Mile 13.1.  I hugged Ivy goodbye, and sent her onto her PR. We took a minute to take a momentous photo.


An on-duty Mr. Policeman took another photo for me. It is very important to note that the time shown is not my time because it has been minutes since I had stepped on the mat. img_0012_3

Mr. Policeman suggested that I get a ride from the Marathon Medical van to get back to where I need to go if I am to stop now.  I happily obliged, especially knowing that I don’t have to feign dying to be eligible for pick up. But when I got in the van and asked to be dropped off at the nearby mall where I was to be picked up, I got a less than runner-friendly response of “this is not taxi-service, we’re not supposed to leave our zone” from one of the red-capped Marathon personnel.


They eventually took me to my destination with a smile. I ran to meet my gracious friend Tabitha, who graciously agreed to wake up early to pick me up from my unfinished marathon. Even though I desperately wished I could keep going, I was wildly happy about my accomplishment.

The running high lingered all day. Tabitha noticed that I was still smiling when we met for dinner. The day ended with a huge meal high in protein, carbs, and fat. It’s great to be a runner, you really can eat all you can.


My official time for the half split was much better than I had expected considering how under-trained I was.

It is all just numbers, but on the rare occasion, certain numbers bear the significance that no words can adequately represent.