Latest reviews by Christopher McManus
First off I love destination races! They are so fun because you get to travel to somewhere where there are new things to experience all the time. So I was pretty excited when getting to Honolulu, although my gut would tell you otherwise. I headed straight to the Hawaii Convention Center from the airport. I was really impressed to see the expo still in full swing, even though it was the last day and only a few hours left. It was definitely one of the best expos that I've been to. So many vendors and different products it was like heaven for a runner. I was also impressed that shirts were only given out once you finished the race. Not sure if this is standard for big races or not, but this was the first race that I have run that did that, which made the shirt feel extra rewarding.
Race morning had arrived, not that I slept much. I was staying with a friend who lived pretty much across the street from the start line which was convenient. The corrals were pretty casual which I was happy for. I had signed up 12 months before the race and guessed my finishing time which after completing my first marathon just a few months before I knew that what I guessed and what I actually would run were different. So it was easy enough for me to change corrals.
The race started with a stunning firework show, something Disney would be impressed with. What made it even better was that they kept shooting them off for at least a solid 20 minutes so that all the runners in the back corrals would be able to start the race off with a bang (#sorrynotsorry for the people in the nearby hotels).
The race started at Ala Moana Beach park and went westward for just about 2 miles before we looped back to the east. I remember at this point feeling cold (living in Hawaii gives you zero tolerance for chilly weather) but the air was humid like it had just finished raining. The route took us past several buildings that were decorated for the Holidays with lights and decorations, which was hard to resist taking pictures of.
Then we made it back to Ala Moana Blvd heading into Waikiki. This was probably my favorite part of the race as we were running by all the big name hotels down the Avenue, which it was still super early at this point so it was barren of the usual amount of people roaming around. It was a pretty cool sight. Just after mile 6 we turned at went down a road through Kapiolani Regional Park. The park was so lush right before sunrise that for a second I actually forgot I was still in the middle of a city. The our journey took us up Diamond Head. It was probably a good mile climb up the hill but we were rewarded with a glorious view of sunrise of the coast.
Now started the downhill trek down Diamond Head and continued down past Kaimuki Middle School. I witnessed another incredible view from the top of the street looking down past Diamond Head Memorial Park where the entire street was just filled with runners. (Running on Maui I'm not used to so many runner so it was a spectacular sight to me to see some many people enjoying running all at the same time).
At Mile 11 the course took us on the highway for a 4 mile cruise down to the residential neighborhood on Hawaii Kai Dr. I remember at this point there were lots of families outside their houses watching us and handing out snacks and water, so awesome of them! Hawaii Kai Dr was about a 2.5 mile loop back to the highway. I remember getting back to the point where we originally turned onto Hawaii Kai Dr and seeing the endless crowd of people just getting there, and I felt a little bad for them.
On the 4 miles back up the highway was when my legs started getting super tight, but I continued to truck along. Then at mile 22 when we got off the highway I hit the wall. The next 1.5 miles were not the fun and I tried to stretch and get my legs going again. But right before mile 24 I got through the wall and was back on track running faster than before. Little did I realize that this was the point where we went back up Diamond Head again. I was expecting my legs to cramp up again during the climb but I was relieved when they didn't. From the top it was all downhill to the finish. The finish was on the other side of Kapilani Regional Park from what we ran on previously.
The final leg into the finish was about half a mile long, and all along that stretch were people cheering us on. The energy was contagious and I ended up sprinting into the finish. I did not PR but I wasn't bummed about that at all. I had much more fun this time so I considered it a victory in my book! Then getting that awesome medal and finishers shirt was icing on the cake. There were huge post race festivities like pictures with hula dancers, food, and such. I couldn't stay and enjoy them as I had to get back and get ready for my return flight. Cannot wait to run this race again in 2016! I highly recommend it to everyone!
As the saying/cliche goes, you never forget your first, which I think is even truer for Marathons. It was a memorable experience that I will always reflect upon. I was stoked when I found out that the Expo would be at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa, as that is right next to where I work. Therefore I was able to sneak over on my lunch break and check it out. It was very organized with lots of variety, however the only reason for the missing star was that it felt very claustrophobic with so many vendors packed into the ballroom.
Race morning I had not a worry on my mind, only anticipation. It was finally race morning, and all this training was going to pay off when I crossed the finish line. The race provided shuttles to the race start on the other side of the island, so awesome of them since I live on the finish side of the island and wouldn't have to worry about leaving my car anywhere.
I ended up with 45 minutes before race start so I took that time to center myself and really stretch everything out. Our MC for the race start had a local Zumba group lead everyone in some warm up moves, which looked like so much fun. But to me was a bit to intense to do right before running for 4+ hours.
Some light sprinkles greeted us at the start and throughout the first mile, which really kept us cool with the gentle breeze. I was keeping my pace conservative, as my friends warned me not to start too fast due to race excitement. Once we turned on to Kuihelani Highway it was total cruise mode on the 6 mile stretch. This was one of the best views during the race; we were in the valley between the mountains and got to watch the sun rise over the east mountains.
At mile 9 things got a little interesting. We were entering what we call the Pali, which is the single lane zig zagging road that takes you to the west side. The Pali not only zig zags left and right but up and down, aka tons of little hills. The wind was really whipping at this point, nearly stealing my hat. It was a joyous sight once we hit Ukumehame Beach. I knew it would be relatively flat for the remainder of the race.
From miles 12 through 22 was another challenge entirely. The wind had come to a halt and the sun was beating down hard on us. I trained in these conditions so I continued trucking along. Then at mile 22 we turned down Front Street which was totally shut down just for us. Then it happened, the unthinkable, I hit the wall and bonked so hard. For the remaining miles I struggled between jogging, walking, and trying to get my leg muscles to work again. Although I was exhausted and legs barely working I was proud that I finished. My best friend and running buddy, Alicia was waiting for me at the finish with a celebratory lei, which really made my day! My goal was somewhere close to 4 hours and I finished in 5+ hours. Somehow I placed second in my age division which I don't think was deserving at all haha.
Thinking about the race as a whole it was a lot of fun, and a great experience. Will I run it again? Heck yes, I need to come back with a vengeance especially on my home turf!