Friday, January 27, 2012

Race Recap: Maui Oceanfront (Impromptu) Marathon

Let's cut to the chase here: I haven't been feeling like blogging much lately.

I don't know what it is -- lack of motivation to write, not much to write about, not feeling like my training or my racing is going anywhere grand at the moment, all of the above... and, to be brutally honest, after returning from 5 nights & 6 days in sleepy-ass, lazy town (aka Lahaina, Maui), I'm feeling unmotivated & don't even want to write about A MARATHON I RAN THERE.

But, for you loyal little loves out there, I will.

Sooooooo, a really really really really really long time ago, Courtney & I stumbled onto a great non-stop flight special to Maui. I haven't been on a "real" vacation in quite some time, I have never been to Hawai'i, and I have never traveled with a close friend. This vacation was already shaping out to be a great one, but of course when you have two runners traveling together, one thought entered our minds:

If we were going on vacation, duh, we wanted to come home with some bling.

The Maui Oceanfront Marathon, Half Marathon, 15k, and 5k fell within our flight's dates, which may or may not have been planned. After buying our flights and booking our hotel, Courtney and I found ourselves registering for the half marathon.

Banner outside our hotel

Once we got to Maui, though, a maniacal thought entered my head: We should just run the full marathon. Sure, we hadn't trained. Sure, we didn't bring the necessary stuff runners need to run a marathon. Sure, it was hot and humid and non-ideal conditions for a distance race.

Just as quickly as the thought entered my head, it disappeared. I want to race the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon again, the race that holds my current half PR, in two weeks. Running a marathon I hadn't prepared for could ruin any true shot I have for that.

Then, I waffled some more. And then some more. After a 28-mile bike ride down Haleakala, I realized I had seen a good chunk of Maui in a very unusually fashion and I liked it. The ever-thoughtful Courtney gave me a list of pros and cons for running either race as we were being shuttled back to our hotel from the bike tour. I made up my mind: I agreed to the run the full. At the expo, we paid a few bucks to upgrade and our decision became real. In just a few hours, I'd be running my sixth marathon & Courtney would be running her fourth.

The bustling expo where they accepted full-bodied red wine in exchange for an upgraded race.

The Maui Oceanfront Half is a 6.5-mile out & back that started and ended at our hotel. While this would have been an ideal option for sleeping in, walking to the start, going for a quick run, collecting our bling, and leaving, it suddenly wasn't seeming as impressive. Sure, most people don't run half marathons on vacations... but who in their right mind would run a full marathon on their vacation?

I had to do it.

Waking up at 3:30am, catching a bus for the 45-minute drive from Lahaina to Wailea, and running all the way back to our hotel seemed to fit the bill of seeing the island in another unusual way.

And I am so, so, so glad we did it.

Once our bus dropped us off in Wailea on Sunday morning, we were greeted by a traditional Hawaiian ceremony. Conch shells were played, chants were spoken, and we all held on to one another in a morning prayer-type ritual.

Pre-race marathon chants

The only way Courtney and I were going to survive this race was to take our sweet time. We had no desire to run fast, but we both agreed to get as many miles as we could under our belt before the sun rose. After the sun was up, we knew it would be a death march.

During this race, the mile markers count DOWN, which is AWESOME!! (Imagine how mentally draining it is to see the number 20 when you're hitting the wall. Then imagine how different it is to see the number 6. It's an entirely different mental game -- one I really enjoyed, especially in these conditions.)

At the 10k mark, still before sunrise.

Around mile 11, the sun peaked over the Maui Mountains. While our battle against the sun was about to begin, this was a perfect way to witness a Maui sunrise.

Maui mountain sunrise

After running on N. Kihei Rd and fighting some of the harshest winds I've been in, we hit an endless panoramic view of the ocean and began climbing a number of steady hills. There was very little shade, and these miles became hard. One redeeming factor: GETTING TO SEE HUMPBACK WHALES JUMPING IN THE OCEAN!!! Who gets to do that during a race?!?

Honoapi'ilani Highway -- endless beauty

I wanted to make it to mile 16 before stopping to walk, which we pretty much did. This section of the race reminded me a bit of Big Sur and I felt really happy despite the heat. We took our time through the water stops, reapplied sunscreen, stopped to stretch our legs and snap some photos, and enjoyed all of our surroundings.

Honoapi'ilani Highway

The final portion of the race was run with tiny beach towns and the ocean on one side of us, and the mountains on the other.

Papalaua Wayside State Park. Perfection.

Taking a dance break at Mile 20. Why the hell not. We still had hours to go before the race cut-off time. ;)

Usually seeing Mile 1 is kind of a bummer... but not when it's saying you only have 1 mile left!

(Courtney was asleep at this point.)


Post-race fresh fruit hand-fanned by locals. Mmm mmm.

Settling in for a great post-race massage under the downtown Banyan tree.

Finished with #6 and ready to begin the rest of vacation!
Even though this race is coming in at a close second for my personal worst marathon in terms of finishing time, it's truly vying for a spot as one of my favorites. We never would have experienced any of the beautiful sites, smells, and scenes had we run the half. And getting to do this while on vacation with a great friend is truly unforgettable for me.

Most people ask "How did you do?" when you finish a marathon; and for the first time in a long time, the numbers on the clock had truly no meaning to either of us -- the only time that mattered was that we were having a good one.

And I'm 100% sure we accomplished that.

Aloha & mahalo, Maui Oceanfront Marathon!

The bling we traveled so far for!


  1. Reading this totally brought a smile to my face!!! I'm jealous! I'm glad you girls had a great time!!

  2. This is really just too cool! What a beautiful setting and I LOVE the idea of numbers going down. So glad you jumped in and did it.

  3. Ahhhh! I'm so happy for you guys. Sounds like it was the experience of a lifetime. Congrats and glad you had so much fun!

  4. So very very very amazing! I love it! and you both! Running is so FREAKING amazing, there is NOTHING like it.!

  5. That is awesome you had a great time, what a great place to run a marathon. I was in Maui in 2010 and ran few times (the heat is tough), great views.

  6. Wow. thanks 4 sharing. i think i have my new top bucket list race! love the pineapple at the end! fantastic effort and fun!

  7. Nice photos! You definitely got more scenery than the half course -love that the mile markers counted down, too. How are you legs feeling for that half coming up?

  8. Sounds like you girls had a blast running! I'm so jealous of the whale sighting! (I have an obsession with seeing whales in the ocean). Congrats on a great run!

  9. Sooooo very cool that you are able to just run a marathon on a whim. And in Maui, no less! Glad you had such a great time! :)

  10. So so so super cool! So glad you two had a great time!

  11. Brilliant, inspiring storytelling! I've taken 13 charity teams to Hawaii Marathons, but it's now been nearly 7 years since I last traveled to the islands. Tears came as I celebrated the final lines of your aloha running story. Thanks! I do have the Maui Oceanfront Marathon on my recommended list of Great Destination Events for the coming year. Here's hoping that your fresh story about your marvelous experiences in Maui will help me recruit a traveling team next January. Keep running happy!

  12. Brilliant, inspiring storytelling! I've taken 13 charity teams to Hawaii Marathons, but it's now been nearly 7 years since I last traveled to the islands. Tears came as I celebrated the final lines of your aloha running story. Thanks! I do have the Maui Oceanfront Marathon on my recommended list of Great Destination Events for the coming year. Here's hoping that your fresh story about your marvelous experiences in Maui will help me recruit a traveling team next January. Keep running happy!

  13. Running a race is a great way to kick-start a vacation. Don't all runners take 'running vacations' ??? :-)

  14. WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! i am soosososo glad I got to share this with you! MOM!!!

    seriously though. epic.

  15. congratulations! just making it to the start line was an accomplishment - running 26.2 on VACATION is amazing! love the photo of you on the podium!

  16. You guys are awesome :) so glad you had so much fun in the marathon AND on vacation!

  17. It sounds like you had a fantastic trip! :)

  18. LOVE this. Glad you had a good time!

  19. Any marathon that involves whales and dancing is a good marathon. I can't quite believe you did the full marathon in the humidity, but I think it was the best decision! Congratulations!!

  20. That's such a perfect story. I loved reading it! Congratulations on finishing your #6!

  21. Sounds like is was a great time! What better way to see Maui than by doing a marathon! And seeing whales while on the run must have been awesome!

  22. That sounds like so much fun and you make running sound easy! id like to do the Maui half on vacay sometime. Next year Im def. going to the Crystal Springs trail race you wrote about!

  23. Love the pictures- it looks like you had so much fun. Congrats!

    PS- I also just tagged you in my 11 questions post :-)

  24. A marathon on a whim! That's awesome. Great read!

  25. I don't know why I haven't commented on this yet. IT LOOKS SO FREAKING AMAZING!! So pretty. So much fun. You look awesome with a flower in your hair, and mid-race dance parties should be standard. (Unless you're chasing a PR...that might add a few seconds to your time.) Congrats on the surprise marathon and enjoying it!

    PS I want all marathons to count DOWN the miles. That would mentally be so much easier.

  26. That sounds so fun! I need more friends who are willing to impromptu run a marathon. You guys rock!