Hapalua: Hawaii’s Half Marathon – 2015
You may think we’re crazy. Complete a half marathon with three young kids? What kind of parents do that to their children? Well, we do. And only because they asked.
After James and I ran the Honolulu Marathon in December (the Hapalua’s sister event), they decided they wanted to do a big race. Since moving to Hawai’i, we’d done both The Color Run & Glow Bash 5k as a family. But this was a little bit different. Obviously.
After seeing that this race was similar to the full in that there was no time limit, we knew it’d be perfect for our family. So we signed up a few months back, and we decided our training would really just consist of long hikes. We played around with the idea of running some, but we really wanted to enjoy ourselves. And after just purchasing a new home, we didn’t have it in us to make the whole thing a huge deal.
But that didn’t mean we weren’t excited! We were super pumped to go pick up our packets on Saturday at the convention center.
We grabbed our bibs, tote bags, and shirts (which are way cool). Audra looked over the course map, and we explained how it differed from our marathon route.
Then they had this big sign that listed all of the participants’ names on it. The kids loved seeing their names in print. Towels depicting this same artwork are now for sale in the Hapalua Marketplace.
On the morning of the event, we woke up at 3am, and got the kids ready to go. They were surprisingly chipper given the lack of sleep. We made the 45 minute drive to downtown, and decided to park at a local church and take the available shuttle. It was cold, so the boys helped Audra stay warm.
The shuttle process was a little weird – there only seemed to be two buses, and there were 10-15 minute gaps between their appearances. We parked at 4:45, joined the then-fairly-small line, and we didn’t board a bus until 5:30. That was when they had previously stated that the shuttle service was shutting down, and there was still a huge line behind us. Those people did make it to the race, but some didn’t get to start until 20 or 30 minutes late.
We thankfully made it there with plenty of time – 6am was the official start. We used the restroom, and then hung around and got jazzed about the upcoming experience. It was a lot different than the marathon (and the first half marathon James and I did) in that it wasn’t super crowded. Five thousand people compared to thirty thousand people will do that. And I was really thankful for it, because it could have been overwhelming for the kids.
I decided to capture individual images of them pre-race so they could have them later in life. (Of course, I forgot to do that at the end, so….)
This gives you a good indication of the starting line. There were plenty of people behind us, but we tried to hang back. We knew we’d be walking and it didn’t make sense to pack ourselves into the running crowd. And then we were off! And fairly quickly, it started to get lighter out. We set a few ground rules: they had to keep up with us if they wanted to make the shuttle back to the van. Otherwise, we’d be walking another few miles at the end of the race if we missed the time cutoff. Also, complaining was only allowed at the mile markers. They were called “Complaint Stations”. When we reached those bad boys, they could throw a total fit. But in between, we had to keep a positive spirit about the experience. After all, they wanted to do this.
And no, the kilometer markers did not count.
I decided to really absorb the experience, so I occasionally ran around to get images of the scenery. I’m obsessed with this capture of the Ala Wai Canal.
This guy is my favorite. Normally, we wouldn’t carry a day pack on a race, but we wanted to have sunglasses, snacks, and sunscreen on hand. So James offered to be the pack mule for the family (as usual). He even carried my camera for me half the time, and pretended not to be annoyed when I asked for it 62 times.
I think it was around this time (mile 2 or 3?) that we decided to run a bit. The kids were enjoying it, and we wanted to maybe push ourselves further. We were figuring a 4:30 finish time if we walked it all, but we were hoping for something a little faster. But without proper training, we knew the kids wouldn’t be up for much. So we jogged just under a mile, and then walked again. And to explain how well the running went, I’ll say this: the following Complaint Station served its purpose well. Then we ran half a mile, and walked some more. (This happened a few times.)
And by here – halfway through, we’d given up on running altogether. The kids’ enjoyment level took a huge dive, and I realized it made no sense to make ourselves miserable for the sake of a faster race time.
As we were walking, we met up with a mom and her daughter. Her daughter was loving the race about as much as our kids were by that point. (Which is to say, not at all.) The mom graciously offered to snap our picture, and I couldn’t be more pleased with it.
We actually only saw a handful of other similarly-aged kids out there the entire morning, so I think that made our three feel pretty special. I know for certain I wouldn’t have been interested in a 13.1 mile race at their age.
We came across a row of empty port-o-johns around mile 8 (9?), and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to run in and get our business done. There are some definite perks to being at the back of the pack. Then we hit the hill near Diamond Head. It wasn’t really too bad actually. By mile 10, we were all hot, tired, and cranky. And poor Audra’s feet were mildly swelling, and she already needs new shoes so that was a bad combination. So I asked the kids to act out their frustrations for the camera at the Complaint Station. But then we got closer to the end, and our moods lifted as we realized it was almost over. We actually ran a bit again here and there because the truck came by and removed the cones so normal traffic could resume. We were relegated to the sidewalk, and we were worried they’d remove the mile markers if we didn’t speed up and get ahead of the truck. There was that moment of panic where we wondered if we’d know where to go. (They didn’t remove the markers though, so the fear was all for naught.) I understand that traffic can’t be held up forever because of the race, but man it makes you feel slow when you realize they’re beginning to close up shop while you’re still walking.
But the volunteers were still there cheering us on throughout the last couple of miles, and that was hugely encouraging. They also had ample water available as well, so that was helpful. I felt great about our progress – we were finishing this thing regardless of the time it took.
And walking along the ocean didn’t hurt either.
Neither did the fact that a passerby saw my shirt and said, “I love your blog!” Talk about a day made. A week, maybe.
As we walked down the final stretch, we were all full of excitement. It was hot and sticky, but we were so proud. I never doubted the kids’ ability to complete all 13 miles, but I was really impressed with their attitude throughout.
And although we were ready to cross that finish line, there’s always time for a selfie. We encountered our first photographer in the stretch just before the finish line, but I didn’t purchase that image. So this is the only “official” photograph I have from the race, but man do I love it. Our finish time was 4:03:30. Nearly 30 minutes faster than we’d first calculated. Pretty awesome.
And I definitely teared up as they placed the medals around our necks. I realized how far we’ve come – how much we’ve grown as a family – and I can’t put into words how proud I am of the five of us.
First stop after receiving our medals: the food tent. This girl got her malasada. From the beginning, it was about the sweet fried goodness that are these things for her. They were also offering shave ice (my fave), but it was all out by the time we finished. The awards ceremony was happening while we stood around and ate, but then I looked up and saw this screen showing the finish line on a delay. So I was able to watch our family cross. And we had an amazing woman capture us with our medals. We had seen her periodically throughout the race, and she’d always say “IT’S MY FAMILY!” She said her own family completed in various races throughout the years together, and that inspired me for the future. We could be our own Ragnar team! Before long, we headed to the shuttle stop and loaded up on the bus. We’d made it in time and avoided the two mile walk back to the parking lot. Have you ever seen a cooler trio of kids? They’re struttin’ their stuff while proudly displaying their medals. I feel like this should be a slow-motion video instead of a picture. Sorry to let you down. We’d promised the kids frozen yogurt (with aaaaaaaaall the toppings) if they kept both up with our pace and the complaining to a minimum. I wouldn’t say either went perfectly, but we still came through. And this kid took full advantage of our offer. (And take a gander at that awesome medal!)
That night (after the adults enjoyed a long nap), we had to make a grocery store run, so James and I decided to wear our t-shirts. We were a lot more sore and exhausted than we anticipated, so the shirt would hopefully explain that to onlookers. And for the record, the kids came home and were perfectly energetic until their normal bedtime. It’s really not fair.
Overall, we had a really great experience. The race staff was nice and encouraging from my first email contact with them all the way to the finish line. Audra decided that we should do this race every year. But then she said maybe a 10k. By tomorrow, she’ll say we should just stick to our evening neighborhood walks. The boys are ambivalent about it all, but I know Austin had a great time – at least until about halfway through. This is just not Aidan’s gig, but I’m proud of him for sucking it up and hopefully he won’t need too much therapy later in life.