Honolulu Marathon pt. 4 - RACE DAY
honolulu marathon hawaii running

Honolulu Marathon pt. 4 - RACE DAY

Ryan Leary

My alarm was set for 3 am, but I woke up around 2:30 amped. This isn't anything new - when I have something big going the next day I always wake up far too early (we had a 4am start time to climb Mt. Shasta, I was up at midnight anxious with nerves).

3AM was earlier than needed, but I wanted an hour to eat/drink coffee and attend to bio needs before heading to the start line.

Coffee, papaya and oats down the hatch. Body glide applied. More body glide applied. Not much happening mentally, I was really out of it, but needed to wake up and get going.  Around 4:15 I poppped down, hopped on a biki bike, and road the 1.5 miles to the start line. I figured I'd get there around 4:30, stretch a little, final bathroom break, and get a good spot where I wasn't stuck behind too many people.

This is more my speed

I was READY.

The start line

After parking the bike and quickly saying hi to a serious runner friend who was actually prepping to try and run this fast I wandered over to the start. I didn't want to be too far back, and found myself lined up right behind the serious African competitors.

The most surprising part was the lack of excitement in the air. While Pharell blasted over the speakers, everyone was moping around. Very few dance moves happening. It was 4:40am....but wow excitement was low. Costumes were the highlight.


I really had to pee. Badly. How did they not have some bathrooms setup near the start for people to use as we waited?! Weird. Well, I know all the bushes and nooks and crannies in this neighborhood at least!

I really appreciated the emcees - trying to get people hyped up, spitting all sorts of facts, and telling us there were 2 (I think?) people that had run all 50 Honolulu marathons running today. Savages.

At 4:50 I ate a couple Strawberry shot blocks (the best flavor) and really got ready.  You can see in the photos...people look...not excited.

Get set, Go!

The Course

Miles 1-5

Right at 5AM Katy Perry's Firework blasted and the huge fireworks show began as we all started running. Many filmed it as they started, I left my phone packed away (much regret) and just got running. It was VERY crowded and some people were near sprinting. I got over to the sideway to got my 10 min / mile pace (and search for a bathroom). People were going SO fast. WTF. I know I started at the front, but damn it was slow.

I kept running by side streets I'd normally be able to relieve myself, but there were police posted everywhere! At mile 1 I thought about running into my building, but didn't want to stop yet. Stephanie was at the corner cheering me on, and shortly after passing I found a hidden spot and decided I was already warm enough that I didn't need the tank top. We're going topless from here on out.

The first few miles wound through downtown. I really liked seeing that the Irish pub was open and people were on the sidewalk with Guinness and irish coffees in hand to cheer us on.

Crisis at mile 2.5. Strava on my watch had decided I finished my run. WHAT. How long had it been truned off? I had to stop and mess with the stupid Apple watch to get it to start recording again. I was really annoyed I was back at 0. This meant I'd spend the ENTIRE rest of the race looking at mile markers to figure out how far I had to go and cross referencing to reading on my watch. It took me a while to realize it didn't really matter, I was planning to run the whole damn thing anyways.

Stephanie laughed that the thank top had already come off around mile 3 when I passed her a second time. I intended it to be a sweat rag anyways, but made sure to show off my race number to any photographers so I always held it that way.

Mile 4.5 was the first water station. It was a disaster. Wind blew paper cups everywhere. The street was soaking wet. It was jogging through a long massive puddle in the road. I skipped this stop completely, still had plenty of water in my bottle.

No airpods the first few miles, it was too crowded and lots of people to avoid.

Miles 5-10

It finally started to thin out around mile 5 as we hit Waikiki. It was so cool just running down the middle of the street vs on the sidewalk in all my training runs. People watching/listening was great. There was a couple running togeter right in front of me with matching tshirts - "Just Married Crossfitters/Bodybuilders". The newlywed wife proclaimed "This pace is too fast. We must be with the 10k people." This gave me hope, but when we passed the 10k point I only saw one person peel off from the crowd.

The 10k turn off had this bright light shining right in the face of all the runners. WTF was that for? Trying to blind us? This is hard enough, we're 1/4 into the race, why are you blasting me in the face.

The climb up Diamonhead went pretty smooth! I was surprised to see people walking up and really slowing down with the incline. As I descended the other side, the sun was rising and many stopped to talk photos. I kept cruising, I'd run this section many times and seen this exact sunrise. I enjoyed the guy vlogging the experience "HEY GUYS WE'RE AT MILE 8 and the SUN JUST ROSE!! IT'S REALLY EPIC AND I'M RUNNING! WOOO!" He kept going for a bit until he tripped and fell and dropped his phone. Oops.

Mile 10 had a nice little water and rest stop where I decided to take my first "break" and see what could happen in a porta potty. I'm glad I did. This was also a great time to put in the headphones, start the All In podcast (my regular long Saturday run listening) and crank out the more boring part of the course) out to Hawaii Kai and back.

Miles 10-17

The out and back grind. Just after beginning the out and back a woman came running the OTHER way. She was ~10 miles ahead and ended up winning first place for women. WOW she was fast.

This part of the race was kind of boring. This episode of the all in pod was definitely the worst in months and that was annoying. I stopped at every water spigot to refill my bottle. Those little self-serve spigots were awesome and I was drinking a LOT of water to keep hydrated.

The only real highlight was seeing my friend from earlier about 4 miles ahead of me around mile 14 or 15. She was quick and even though I cheered super loud GO REBECCA she was clearly pushing for speed and grimaced back. LOL.

Miles 17-22

Now for the back part of the out and back. At 17.5 you get a very quick glimpse of Diamonhead. WHY DOES IT LOOK SO SMALL AND SO FAR AWAY? UGH. I took a quick little break at mile 17 to drink water, fill up elecrolytes, eat another Gu, and get something better to listen to than that shitty episode of All In. David Goggins had recently been on Joe Rogan, I bet that will be fun to listen to.

It wasn't. After 30 minutes of talking about how jacked up his knee was from running I shut him off too and just went for music.

You could really see people starting to slow down along this section. Cramping up, pulling to the side. I ran this section once in training, so I knew what to expect and just trudged along. The local highschool and some cheerleaders out cheering which was funny.

My leg was starting to hurt a little but nothing that bad. I was really motivated seeing all the people BEHIND me doing the out part of the out and back. Especially those kitted out in compression socks and all sorts of agressive running gear. Woah....I was doing well! I saw a friend walking the course right around mile 19 who cheered super loud for me. That felt awesome.

Miles 22-Finish.

At mile 22 I felt good enough and confident I'd finish. This was the furthest I'd run and my legs were sore, getting more sore every step, but still felt like they'd move. Every 1/2 mile I'd stop to stretch a little and then continue on, but at mile 24 that stop and stretch seemed more likely to create a massive cramp so I figured from there on it it was no stopping just finish.

Many thanks to the woman with the hose spraying people down at mile 23. That felt heavenly.

Right before the climb up the back of diamondhead a DJ was BLASTING EDM. I'm sure the Kahala residents loved it, but  was a nice and necessary boost. Just before it a guy in front of me was weaving all over the course and someone ran out from the aid station to make him sit down.

It was time to claim some souls. Everyone on the climb was walking up Diamondhead, and I kept running. It was no fast pace, but I passed SO many people on this section. Once I heard the Taiko drums at the top of Diamondhead I picked up the pace even more. OMG. I am going to finish...and those drums sound amazing! I saw the people handing out beers...it was awfully tempting, but given how horribly Keegan said those were, I pushed on.

The descent was quick and "easy". I was going to make it! About 1/2 mile from the finish I heard GO RYAN GOOOO and Stephanie had made it out to cheer me on. I stopped to put my tank top back on (wanted the finish photo with it on) and take out my airpods, which I dropped 2-3 times trying to put them away.

The last 4/10 of a mile was long, you could see the finish, and I laughed at Stephanie who kept running beside me and cheering but thats a long time to cheer. As I ran I passed a woman in Olympics level running outfit passed out on the ground with medical staff helping her with an IV. I could see the timer said 4:40 and really wanted to finished before 4:45, so I hit the gas and crossed at 4:43:something.

Woah. I just ran a marathon.


I grabbed my medal (Nice and hefty! Must be solid GOLD) I walked into the showers and took a full rinse. Heavenly. Suddenly I realized HOW hungry I was. I needed real food.

Full of myself.

I ate a banana as quick as possible (nearly forgot to unwrap it), devoured the malasada, and chugged a coconut water. So good. I wanted to sit down for a minute, which Stephanie seemed worried I wouldn't be able to get up after, but wanted toe exhausted photo.

We walked a little ways, I changed into some less sweaty shorts right in the middle of the street, and Ubered back home. Sorry for the sweat Uber driver...I tried to change!

It was so cool to see that Annie had been following my GPS in the marathon app.

After a shower I actually felt...great. We drove to the brewery where a beer and many mimosas were had. And a fried chicken sandwich and fries. Yum. Some other marathon runners with the tshirt came in to, but let the record show I was the first one to show up there that day. Some runner friends were amazed I finished under 5 hours. "Woah...my first one took me 6!! Congrats!". That felt good.

I think we spent the rest of the day watching White Lotus, theragunning, and napping. I sent friends walking messages of encouragement. Back to dinner at Moku for some more strawberry cream pie before taking Stephanie to the airport.

As I crawled into bed I saw that the last finishers crossed the line at 17hours. Wow, that may have been harder than running it.

Can I walk?

Recovery went well. I was a little sore Monday and Tuesday but nothing out of the ordinary. By Wednesday I felt 95%, which is kind of standard for any given day.

Ego Soaring.

Keep running?

Well, it's February now, and I've gone on 2 runs since, both around 4 miles. I don't really have the marathon itch, but who knows, maybe it'll strike again. For now...time to enjoy ski season and get back into surfing.

I'm thrilled with how the marathon went but damn...

  • running in humidity is hard.
  • it takes a LOT of time to train for a marathon. So much running.
  • Make sure the podcast you are going to listen to is actually good on the race day.
  • Real food tastes better than GUs.

So hey runner friends, I did a marathon. Sub 5 hours, and ran the whole thing. Can confirm, running is overrated....but I do miss lacing them up a bit. I really enjoyed the dedication needed for training and being so focused. I hit my goals - run the whole damn thing without walking and be able to walk that week. Now that I did a full I can do the more reasonable half without being ashamed, and maybe an Ironman is actually doable. A half ironman for sure, but it does have half in the name...