Hawaii was the most difficult marathon thus far. The morning started off in a painful sort of way, with a blood draw. We’re conducting an investigative research study to examine the physiological impact of intensive and prolonged endurance activities. I’m happy to make a contribution to this scientific body of knowledge, though giving blood before running a marathon is rough.
But meeting the eight other runners at the starting line was uplifting. They were a solid and dynamic bunch. Even so, there was less celebration at the starting line than usual, as though we all new this was going to be a challenging day. And that it was.
Temperatures warmed quickly, the tropical sun radiating through the clouds, thickening the humid air around us as we ran. Although the course paralleled the water, the road was busy and you needed to remain focused on the traffic ahead. Only with a cautious glace could you take in the beauty of the setting.
The runners hung tough. In the group today were some amazing stories. Two had flown in from California, another from Colorado, one had come all the way from Italy, and this was his first marathon, there was a Fireman in the group who had his three boys along in a support vehicle, and one incredible runner who had flown in from Japan (and that’s only part of the story). He had rearranged his wedding plans to correspond with today’s marathon, exchanging vows on Maui yesterday, and running with us today.
We kept up a steady pace, and by mile 20 it hurt. The pavement was scorching and every step took its toll. I can’t say enough about the strength of the group today. These guys were solid to the core, each holding strong despite the demanding conditions. At mile 21 we came across my friend Chris Lieto, who was in Maui training for the upcoming Hawaii Ironman. Talking with Chris, who was on a training ride, put some life back into me. Chris looked great, and is a top contender this year. It was really cool for him to ride alongside the group for a while, and we’ll all be pulling for him in Kona.
After passing through Lahaina at mile 24, the gravitational pull of the finish line started reeling us in. The excitement and momentum built as we made the final turn and saw the finishing tape stretched out before for us. It had been a hard fought battle, and crossing the line together was an incredibly rewarding feeling.
Waiting at the finish were friends and family members of the group, and a new bride. She was so proud of her husband and his accomplishment that she broke down in tears. Hugs and handshakes were exchanged, and despite my haggard state, I was smiling from cheek-to-cheek. My legs hurt, my feet hurt, my arm where the needle had been stuck throbbed. The upcoming plane ride to Arizona was not going to be fun, but at the moment, that was the last thing on my mind. For now, I felt nothing but joy.
Maui no ka oi (Maui is the best),