Race Report on the 2012 Big Island International Marathon by Charlie Nelson
With 48 states and Washington DC complete I need only Hawaii and Wyoming to complete a marathon in each state under 4 hours. Hawaii is always humid and no matter which marathon you choose it will be a tough run all 12 months of the year. After a 4hr 8min marathon in Kona 12 years ago I resigned to the fact between the expense to go back and the humidity that I would never accomplish a sub 4 hour marathon in Hawaii. Recently I have been running well and so I analyzed every marathon in Hawaii. Hilo is the rainiest city in the world with over 125-140 inches of rain each year and tends to be 5 degrees cooler than all other locations in Hawaii. The course also has a net loss of 500 feet in the first 10 miles and is pancake flat the last 16.2 miles. No doubt the first 10 miles are the charm and beauty of the race as you travel through the rain forest and along the shoreline from high above sea level watching the hundreds of surfers effortlessly riding smooth 6-8 foot rolling waves. Also you cross bridges and see the waterfalls and water racing ever downwards. Don’t be fooled totally by the 500 foot loss as there are reversals and probably 400 or so feet of climbing mixed in the race. The last 16.2 miles brings you along some shoreline but mostly out onto a main road and much travel around the Hilo airport.
It’s been 12 years but I am not only ready but anxious to race Hawaii by race morning. I acclimated to heat over the past 2 weeks by turning my thermostat to 90 and putting on sweatpants, 2 sweatshirts, gloves and stocking hat and did some 60-90 minutes at a fast walk on my treadmill. Also the long runs and speed workouts have been spot on. Time to fly out to Hilo on Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday a couple of 5 milers with some up-tempo on Wednesday and easy Thursday. Friday was an 18 minute walk. Basically the rest of Friday and Saturday was rest and keep off of the feet.
The pasta and welcome party is held downstairs of the host hotel on Friday with Hawaiian music and hula shows. I sit with the locals who will be running. They tell me everything I should know about the course and their Hilo community. The race director Wayne “Big Dog” Joseph treats each and everyone like his best friend and personally put Hawaiian beads around all our necks. Sunday will be the 15th running and this is about Big Dog’s 8th year as race director. Before being director Big Dog use to run the marathon and in the range of 3 hours 30 minutes. I win a raffle at the dinner and walk away with a nice $30 jersey. Also at the dinner and running tomorrow are Marie, David, DJ Binn and Cowman A Moo-Ha. These four participants will all complete tomorrows race as they have each done each of the last 14 previous years. Also, Marie is one hell of a hula dancer and appears to have more energy than any of us and maintains a happy smile at all times.
As usual the forecast calls for showers at the 6 am start and sunshine by 7 am. In Hilo you just don’t know and we luck out as the showers basically never stop and the sun never shows itself for the duration of the entire race. The temperatures began at 66 degrees and rose to about 73 by noon. Sure there is some humidity but today weatherwise for a marathoner this is as good as it gets in Hawaii. Thank you WEATHER GODS. Running with wet racing shoes is a piece of cake compared with total humidity and sunshine.
My timed training runs, diet, weight etc etc tells me I should be in peak marathon condition. All of these variables certainly gives the runner that positive mental strength. I’m as ready as can be and itching for the start. A black coffee, banana, and bagel 3 hours before the run. Hydration begins 2 hours before the marathon for 1 hour. A vespa supplement 45 minutes before the start. During my last 2 marathons I struggled over the last 6 miles so today I take 3 concentrated vespas at miles 3, 10, and 16. Also salt tablets at mile 4, 11, and 16 miles(and not a single cramp in the humidity all run). Finally 3 roctane energy gu’s along with mostly water and some powerade along the way.
This solo trip has cost me close to $2,000.00 so if I am to miss the 4 hour goal I can’t blame myself for not giving it my best chance.
I will let gravity do its thing but not push the downhills and shorten my stride and chug the uphills with no forcing the pace. On the flats maintain that comfortable on the edge pace and try and hold it for just under 4 hours. This is how each of the first 5 mile increments broke down and finally the last 1.2 miles.
0-5 miles 44 minutes 00 seconds
5-10 miles 42 minutes 45 seconds total 1 hour 26 minutes 45 seconds
10-15 miles 43 minutes 10 seconds total 2 hours 9 minutes 55 seconds
15-20 miles 42 minutes 05 seconds total 2 hours 52 minutes 00 seconds
20-25 miles 44 minutes 40 seconds total 3 hours 36 minutes 40 seconds
25-26.2 miles 10 minutes 52 seconds total 3 hours 47 minutes 32 seconds
The name Big Island International Marathon fits perfectly. The race has the home town feel of the Big Island with many locals yet runners enter this race from all over the planet. I was able to run with a fireman from Australia and a vacationer from Japan. Many others from Europe and lots of the different states were represented. Also Ernie Chatman from Florida who is a strong 62 year old runner and will usually finish in the 3:30 to 3:50 range. Sometimes things go wrong and Ernie shows up with a chest cough and didn’t sound well but his worse problem is his hamstring. Recently he ran a 1 hour 34 minute 13.1 mile race and when I passed him at 5 miles he told me he had to hold it back. I had a hamstring tear last summer and bing when it is wrecked it can take months to heal completely if you are lucky. Ernie has all the states under 4 hours but Hawaii. Heal Ernie, and it will be rewarding when you tear up the next Hawaiian marathon and complete your goal. Again, you just never know what will happen in a marathon.
The volunteers are everywhere for this race and as race director Wayne “Big Dog” Joseph tells us he only coordinates as everyone else does all the work. Partially true but Wayne was working everyday I was there from Tuesday through Sunday.
The men’s 60-64 division had 21 competitors and it was a privilege to have raced with them plus the other 206 marathoners who crossed the line. I had a super race and it would have been an extra bonus to say I was the Big Island’s 60-64 champ but that deservingly goes to Kurt Mueller from Nebraska who crossed the line 15 minutes quicker than myself and I happily accept runner-up. Keith Campbell from Honolulu takes 3rd and he is overly excited as this is this 60 year old mans first ever marathon. All division winners are put on a podium box with the winner on the upper box top and the 2nd and 3rd stand on the lower box tops to his left and right and the young hula girls in front as the photographer takes a photo. Overall I will finish 36th of 227 finishers and feel like a 30 year old. Going to work today after flying for 24 hours I felt like a 90 year old must feel like.
The race is made for all to have a good race and a fun time which includes anyone involved. Mission accomplished!!!
In Hawaii if you are looking for your fastest marathon and a run through a rain forest choose this race and you will be happy. If you are a sun worshiper you might have to pick your spots as the rains and clouds love Hilo.
In closing I have to thank my wife Kathy who has been working almost every day sometimes 7 days a week as she does taxes and is busy busy.
Kathy encourages me to try and achieve a goal as I go play in Hawaii. Kathy, you are the best!!!