It’s been at least since grade school since I could get away with a report title like that. I hope you enjoyed it. Now, for the report, from Nathan, the adult…
Let’s clear this up, right away- I don’t race on Sundays. I’m a stick-in-the-mud, LDS, sabbath-conservative, who feels that Sundays are best left for me in the service of the Lord, with families, or (of course) at church. Ok, ok…and if there’s a Sharks game on, that night…But generally, I try not to run, race or compete for anything more than pew bench space (you only think I’m kidding) on the Sabbath.
But Wendy and I were in Hawaii, celebrating our tenth anniversary. In Hawaii. We were ALREADY THERE, in Hawaii, when the race was going on. I’ve never been to Hawaii. How could I resist? When else would I be able to obtain a pin in the map of places of I’ve run or raced (coming soon)? But there was a more important question at hand- how could I justify running this race on Sunday?
Didn’t Joseph Smith stick-wrestle and broad-jump on the Sabbath? I know that this race wasn’t an ox-in-the-mire type of situation. Or was it? I was pretty sure that we didn’t have home-teaching on the docket for this particular day, so I decided to run this race. What else was I going to do at 7AM in the morning? Rest? Well, ok. You may have a point there.
Irregardless, I found myself at the starting line of The Hapalua 1/2 Marathon in Waikiki, downtown Honolulu, in some pretty warm weather. It was 5:45 AM. As I looked around, I started counting the number of people who were wearing garbage bags over their running attire. Having just arrived from Utah in less than warm conditions, I stifled a superior chuckle (It was, after all, Sunday) at my “soft” Hawaiian neighbors as they shivered under their thin plastic quilts, yammering about “wind chill”.
I will say this, however. There was a lot of wind. A lot of headwind, to be more descriptive. We would be running straight into the wind. This would present a couple of problems. First, the obvious: Wind sucks for races and screws you up when going for a PR. Secondly, we had church at 11 AM in Makiki (about an hour away, if traffic is kind.) I needed to be done with this race in about 2 hours if we were to have time to shower, get ready and head over for sacrament meeting.
At 5:53 AM, an voice came over the speakers, informing us that a 93 year-old woman was in the field (woah) and that there were 2,693 in contention. But not really “contention.” “Congregated” is probably what he meant, since we were gathered together on the Holy Day.
The start was announced with a gun and we were off- scattered like chaff before the wind, sifted as wheat around orange cones and water stations, and tossed like waves upon a sea (he that hath ears to hear…)
Somehow I managed to keep a 9:08 minute pace, through this entire race (give or take…) I felt good, strong, and relaxed as I covered those 13.1 miles. But the wind made it interesting. We would relax when we ran between buildings, but know that as soon as we hit open space, we’d get smacked with gusts of wind.
And that’s where the Hawaiians had an edge. My Hawaiian running mates were strong in the wind. Sure, I might have elevation training in me, but I wasn’t prepared for the wind. I managed to stay up with most of the 9 minute pack, but I was struggling toward the end. Some knee and hip pain was introduced at mile 9 and it got a little uncomfortable. So I took off my shoes at mile 10. I’m sort of an elite runner, now (a very special and slow type of elite runner.) I’m sponsored by my feet and am obligated to show all ten toes at some point during a race.
Here’s the paragraph that makes the barefoot community squeal and the Nike crowd groan. The pain definitely subsided when I removed my shoes. I felt MUCH better and was able to finish strong in my bare feet for the last 3 miles.
And I’ll be honest…I tried to make this race different from the other Saturday 1/2 marathons I’ve run. I thought about how blessed I am to have a healthy body that can run when I want to. I thought about my family and friends- I have great family and friends. My wife is second to none (which makes the next sentence a little confusing.) My children are first, second and third, respectively (and they’re awesome.) I even thanked God that I had the opportunity to run on a beautiful Sabbath morning with the wonderful people of Hawaii.
As I neared the end, the announcer said something about the guy “with no shoes on” over the microphone and continued to announce names and congratulations. Exhausted, I crossed the finish line, placing my shoes (which contained my race timing chip) on each mat to make sure that my time counted.
Crowds clapped and cheered as we received our finishers medals and were guided to our place of rest and replenishment- as sheep to the shepherd, as chicks under a hen’s wings, as tired runners to the fold on a beautiful Sabbath morning.
It was time to get ready for church.