Wednesday, September 30, 2015

2015 Maui Marathon Review

2015 Maui Marathon
Sunday, September, 2015
Lahaina, Hawaii
29th State Completed
Runners: 537 (281 men, 256 women)
Start Time: 5:00 a.m. HAST (Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time)
Course: Rolling, climbing hills the first half ... flat second half ... about 550 ft of elevation, but it feels like quite a bit more than that
Weather: 85 degrees & 88% humidity at times during the race, nearing 90 degrees at the end ... incredibly hot and humid
SWAG: Short sleeve dry-fit shirt
Race Organization: Very good
Crowd Support: None until the finishing chute
Volunteer Support: Exceptionally good, very kind & helpful
Water Stops: Really well organized and often
Food: Bananas, oranges, and gels along the course, with typical post race food
Age: 46
Finishing Time: 3:47:55
Average Pace: 8:41
Place: 40th/537 Overall, 5th/45 45-49 AG
Total Experience ... 1  2  3  4  5

I was dumping cups of water on my head to cool my body down at Mile 4 of the 45th Annual Maui Marathon.  It was raining, and completely dark like the middle of the night, and the narrow shoulder of Honoapiilani Highway, which served as as our race course for most of the race, was lit only by the headlights of oncoming cars.  I'd planned on pacing much slower than normal because of the brutal 80 degree & 88% humidity conditions at the starting line that would only intensify, but I quickly found myself out of control and running way too fast for this early in the race.  I knew before too long I would crash ... and probably crash hard, but I was going to push it as long as possible.  And after 31 previous marathons, this would prove to be though toughest, but most beautiful race, I had ever finished.
Full marathon participants received an orange t-shirt
with the race logo on the front and sponsors on the back,
I also bought this shirt that had the race logo on the front,
but also the names of all the runners of both races
encrypted on the back as part of the design ... cool!

I probably won't have as many race details with this marathon review as normal.  Also, I'll try not to bore everyone with every experience and all of the fascinating history we learned about Hawaii during our visit.  Instead, I'll mostly share some of the photos of the amazing Maui landscape that captured during our visit.

As far as the marathon,  I obviously didn't run the race I'd planned, but still finished with a respectable time considering the conditions ... and walking most of the last three miles. I also was "forced" into making my first ever Aid-Station Tent visit after crossing the finish line.  I just needed a little time to sit there and recover, but apparently I looked like I was going to die so overly cautious heads prevailed.

But our 10-Year Anniversary trip to Maui was way more than either Michael or I could have dreamed, and accordingly, the race took it's proper place as simply one of many activities we enjoyed while in the island paradise.  The race actually took place on the second full day we were in Maui, so we both had plenty of time to recover while enjoying an amazing vacation.  Honestly, I'm not much of a "vacation guy", but I could've stayed in Hawaii much longer, and can't wait until our next trip back. It was our second trip to Maui, but this time I definitely fell in love with the beauty of the island.
One of about a thousand absolutely perfect sunset pictures we took at the end of almost every day.
I love this woman more than anything and words can't adequately describe the amazing time we shared in Maui

(yes ... I'm well aware that my lovely wife is waaaaay out of my league ... but I'm obviously charming!!!)
The convenience of this race couldn't have been any better.  Our hotel location at the Sheraton was only about three hotels down the beach, and about a ten minute walk, from the race expo and finish line at the Marriott at Ka'anapali Beach in Lahaina.  To be honest, we'd booked our hotel months before we knew the location of the race festivities, so this was a mere stroke of luck.
Black Sand Beach, maybe the most beautiful place we visited on the island, it was simply breath taking
There aren't enough photos to adequately show the beauty of Black Sand Beach located just outside of 
the town of Hana at Waianapanapa State Park
The black sand, rocks, and cliffs are actually cooled lava.  The dark gray and black color set against the lush
green vegetation makes for seemingly unending picturesque views
A view from one of the many cliffs at Black Sand Beach
There were only about 500 runners in the Maui Marathon, so the Race Expo was appropriately small, and held in one of the meeting rooms of the Marriott.  The start and finish line for the half-marathon were located immediately outside the hotel on Ka'anapali Parkway at the base of the West Maui Forest Reserve and mountain range.  The full marathon also finished here, but started 26.2 miles away in Kahului at the shopping center.
Resort life ... we stayed at the beautiful Maui Sheraton at Black Rock on Ka'anapali Beach
Early morning walk with Michael on the beach at Black Rock
(not entirely sure if I had authorization to post this pic ... forgiveness is easier than permission)
Ka'anapali Beach is one of the busier destinations on Maui, 
but it's not too crowded for every to enjoy the warm sun and powerful surf
My friend, Bobby, and me at the Maui Marathon

Since the race started at 5:00 a.m., we had to be at the shuttle bus location at the finish line by 3:00 a.m.  I'm not joking.  This meant waking up at about 1:30 a.m.  I met my friend Bobby at the bus, who was also vacationing with his wife in Maui.  I met Bobby several years ago at the Myrtle Beach Marathon, where we instantly became friends.  He's a great guy who I always enjoy hanging out with, but unfortunately since he lives in North Carolina, I don't get to see very often.  He's a great runner who is also running a marathon in every State, but is going to finish way before me.

On the way to the starting line, we chatted and caught up a little, but also noted the hot and humid conditions outside.  It was the middle of the night and literally over 80 degrees, with a sweltering 88% humidity.  All of the locals kept commenting on how it was the hottest stretch they could ever remember.

While we were waiting at the staring line, we noticed what seemed to be an inordinately high number of Japanese runners compared to most races.  But the race was sponsored by the Japanese Travel Bureau (JTB), and judging by the perfectly synchronized warm up aerobics they were all doing, it was obviously a large group traveling together.  Shortly after their techno-music fueled dance with words neither of us could understand, it started raining.  Typically rain will break intense humidity a little, but I remember thinking to myself that the conditions weren't getting better, and now my shoes were soaking wet.  Plus the rain apparently cancelled the fire dancer ... bummer!
Hundreds of Japanese runners warming up with synchronized dancing before the Maui Marathon
After the national anthems of both the United States and Japan, we walked about a quarter mile in the intensifying rain to the starting line.  It was pitch black.  And after the starter counted us down from ten, we were off into the darkness.  We quickly ran out of the cover of street lights and took our place along the side of the highway where we would spend most of the race.  Separating us from traffic were orange cones, whose reflective bands would occasionally be illuminated by the headlights of oncoming speeding cars ... but other than that, you could barely see the hand in front of your face.  We ran like this for about an hour.  In the dark.  In the rain.
Probably the thing Michael was most excited about was seeing real-life wild sea turtles sunning themselves at Ho'okipa State Beach Park.  They were simply amazing ... and HUGE!!!  Green sea turtles are a symbol of good luck on the island, and are thought to live between 80-100 years.  A fact I found fascinating is that when they are first born, they feed on small fish, but as they age, their diet turns to strictly seaweed.  They convert from carnivores to herbivores.  
We watched as three turtles slowly made their was from water to the shore.  Apparently Pacific Ocean sea turtles are the only ones that come out of the water to sun themselves.  
The North side of the island is really known more for surfing, but we found a few surfers near our hotel, especially with active surf almost every day we were there.  A few folks asked me if I tried surfing.
My response is an emphatic %*&# NO ... I'd break my neck!!!
The oft cloud covered West Maui Forest Reserve mountain range, on the non-ocean side of our resort
Summers in Kansas City are incredibly hot and humid.  If you ask folks from the Southeast portion of the United States who visit, or have moved there, they'll tell you it's almost like being in Florida, Georgia, or Louisiana during the Summer.  For some odd meteorological reason, it just gets warmer in KC than a lot of places.  And while I knew that the Maui Marathon would offer it's own sultry challenge, I had no idea just how bad it would be.  After Mile 4, I was dumping cold water on my head at every water stop ... which bye the way, featured incredibly helpful and supportive volunteers.  The course was also a little hillier than I had anticipated.  To be honest, the course and conditions flat out kicked my butt!
We had the opportunity go to the Old Lahaina Luau, the oldest and most authentic Luau in Hawaii.  We watched and listen as the entertainers shared stories about their rich Polynesian heritage.  It was simply beautiful!
One thing that was kind of funny was when missionaries first visited the islands, they set up sugar cane manufacturing, but also banned the Hula Dance and made the island natives cover up with more clothing ...ha!
Apparently fire knife dancers and twirlers are not part of traditional Luaus, but have become a custom over the years.  The Old Lahaina Luau did not feature fire dancers, but the smaller Luau at our resort a few nights later did
Included in the price of admission were all the drinks, including Mai Tai Cocktails, that you could handle ... we had to cut Michael off after seven!
Since it was much hotter than most marathons I've ran, I planned on starting around 8:30/mile for first few miles.  I also planned on taking it easy until I got out of the worst of the hills, that ended sometime around Mile 14.  I didn't think a Boston Qualification was most likely possible, but I was going to go for it.  And until Mile 21, I was right on pace.  But like many marathons in the past, this Dummy started way too fast.  I averaged a 7:55/mile over the first six, which in those conditions was probably more like a 7:30 on a normal day.  Way too fast for that early.
Twin Falls on the Road To Hana.  This pair of water falls is normally much smaller, but the unseasonable recent rains made it a rushing river
Michael and me in front of the banyan tree at Lahaina Banyan Court Park.  This single tree was planted in 1873, and has grown so large that it's branches have actually grown down through the ground and sprouted back up, giving the appearance of several trees - but they're all connected as one ... really cool!
One of the beautiful mountains in Iao Valley State Park in Wailuki
As the clouded morning sun began to finally brighten the sky, the rain gradually ceased as well, and a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean seemed to appear out of nowhere.  It was amazing!  There were lush, green mountains on our right... and powerful white waves crashing against the rocks on our left.  I'd never experienced such a beautiful view in a race before.  The incredible surroundings helped to somewhat take my mind off of the concern that was building from the amount of fluids I was losing.  At about Mile 7, we began to climb rolling hills that frankly were a little tougher than I thought they'd be.  I managed to keep good energy through the ups and downs, but I was burning a lot of calories and fuel.  I could feel my pace inexplicably quickening a little and averaged a 7:37/mile from Miles 8-16 ... with a pair of 7:19's along the way.  I was way below my goal pace of 7:50/mile during the toughest race I've ever ran ... what in the world was I doing?
The Keanae Peninsula is one of iconic views on the Road To Hana
We both took a little detour from our diets while in Maui.  After losing almost 20 pounds for our trip, Michael enjoyed some gelato for the first time in a while ... her eyes looked like a crack-addict during her first relapse after rehab!
Michael and me at our favorite hangout on Ka'anapali Beach ... Hula Grill
What would a trip to Maui be without plenty of island-grown pineapple
At Mile 17 I knew it probably wasn't going to be my day, and my pace began to grind to a halt over the next few miles.  The splits were 7:36, 7:36, 8:00, 8:09, 9:26, 9:56, 10:15, 11:42, 13:55, 14:23.   I actually was still under my BQ pace until the middle of Mile 22, until I finally had to mix in walking and running, which finally gave way to mostly walking.  I was spent.  I'd crashed in marathons before, but never like this.  I actually bent over to adjust my shoe in Mile 25, and when I stood up, literally just about passed out.  It was so hot ... probably close to 90 degrees with no shade at that point. I literally kept chanting under my breath "Don't pass out!  Don't pass out!",  as tunnel vision narrowed like I was going backwards down a long tube.  I literally thought it was going to happen.
Receiving my finisher medal at the 2015 Maui Marathon ... not a great time,
but I was really pleased that I didn't pass out or give up ... and even more happy that it was over!
And that's when the authorities showed up ... I felt like I just needed a little time to sit and recover, but after unending prodding from the medical staff and my loving wife, I made my first ever trip to the post-race infirmary.  It was embarrassing.  Not because I was there, but because Michael kept laughing and taking pictures of me while I was on death's door!
Runners were passing me at a rapid rate during those last few miles, but I managed to finish with a 3:47, which placed me 40th overall, and 5th in my age group.  But as I sat, trying to recover after the race, I couldn't seem to slow my heart rate.  I never felt nauseated, I just couldn't get my body to cool down.  I don't ever remember being that over-heated.  A girl from the medical staff kept asking me if I was okay, and I kept brushing her well-intended but annoying questions aside.  But when my wife and in-laws, who were also traveling with us, joined in on her badgering, I finally gave up and went to the medical tent.  While I rested on a cot, they took vital signs and even a blood sample to measure my electrolytes or blood sugar or something ... all which checked out perfectly fine ... DUH!  And as quickly as I could move without cramping, we made our way back to the hotel to get some rest.
Michael and me, with our traveling companions, Kyle & Tracee ... GREAT PEOPLE!!!
We had a really fun time with them.   (Tracee is Michael's oldest sister)
Beautiful cobalt blue Maui sky under swaying palms
Another "post-card" location at Makena Beach State Park on the South side of  Maui
The end of another perfect day, with another perfect sunset with my wife on best friend at our favorite place in the world ... I've been truly blessed in my life and couldn't ask for more!
After the race I wasn't necessarily that disappointed with my time, but more the was I managed my race.  I'd once again, after 31 previous marathons, went out way too fast and crashed at the end.  Who knows, maybe with marathon 33 I'll learn my lesson ... but I doubt it.  But the disappointment of the race quickly faded as we melted into perfect sunset after perfect sunset, and enjoyed every second of our time in Maui.  It was truly an amazing trip, and on top of everything else ... I got to check one more State off the map in my quest for 50 after 40.
... Be Great Today!


  1. It's like reliving the entire trip :) Great recap babe! Makes me want to go to about next week?

    FYI, the race started at 5 am....didn't it?

    1. Oops, good catch. FYI - you have to go to Richmond next week or I'd be in!

    2. Hello Michael, sure wish you guys would!! Another trip, more sunsets, & quality time. Oh, & a little run thrown in there as well. Mr Jim, Huge Congrats!! The photos are amazing, the recap rocked it, & nothing like hanging out with beached turtles for awhile. Proud of the both of you & look forward to reading about more adventures together in the future. Stay Strong, Travel Safe, & Seek The Best Possible Outcome.


  2. I've been enjoying all your beautiful pictures! I've never considered going to Hawaii, but your photos are making me reconsider.
    The marathon sounds terrible. I've run some hot ones, but I think that beats them all. And you're conditioned for it - I feel bad for the runners from cooler climates suffering through that!

  3. My husband and I did many of the destinations you made during our honeymoon many, many years ago. It's just about time to go back and throw in a race for good measure.


  4. Your race sounds a bit like mine. It is amazing how much heat / sun can wipe you out. I am glad you decided to dial it back. I know your training has indicated you would finish faster but 3:47 is a fantastic time considering the circumstances. The medical tent thing does happen and yes for us guys it is embarrassing but I know what it feels like to be overexerted and over heating.

    I love your pictures. I still remember my Hawaiian vacation fondly.

  5. Great recap, makes me want to go back to Maui soon. Congrats on another marathon finish!

  6. My wife and I stayed at the Sheraton Maui on our honeymoon! The snorkeling around Black Rock was amazing. Although it sounds like a tough one, I'd love to do that marathon one day. Congrats man!

  7. Conditions sound brutal but if you're going to have to crash and burn in a race it might as well be one with beautiful scenery.

  8. Sorry you had a bad go.Can't wait to run in Hawaii, my sister and her husband live there. Henny is Hawaiin Japanese - their daughter is beautiful! She was recently on the cover of Hawaiin Magazine. Mauii is quite beautiful. I was there several years ago. Congratulations on finishing marathon #32!

  9. Ive been waiting for this recap! it sounded brutal but at least you had an amazing view!( You did look rough at the med tent I have to admit!)
    congrats on being able to cross off another marathon in another state,even though I know it wasn't the time you were shooting for-
    Glad you were able to enjoy the rest of your trip!
    so whats next on your agenda?????
    (LOVED all the pictures, Your wife is beautiful!!!!!!!!!!)

  10. Thinking Of You 2day As Its Game 5 AND A HOME GAME!!! Stay Strong Brother Jim & Go KC!!! And the good news is that The Padres Didn't Lose 2day…...


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