Ms. Mar loves to tell stories about when she made the adventurous move from a small town in northern Minnesota to a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – Hawaii – way back in 1974. Of course, this was long before I was ever thought of, or my mother was thought of, or her mother . . . you get the gist. I was not yet in existence when this move occurred so I can only tell her stories.
While she intended to stay in Hawaii only for a year until she figured out what she wanted to do “when she grew up,” Ms. Mar ended up staying for 25 years and during that time had many great adventures. Over the next few weeks, I’ll tell you some of her stories.
First up, running a marathon. What on earth would possess anyone to voluntarily run 26.2 miles???? The only reason for me to run is if one of my brother’s is picking on me, a dog is chasing me, or it’s feeding time. But to run just for the fun of running, well, that’s just crazy. But Ms. Mar decided it was something she had to do. When I asked her what made her decide to run a marathon, she said it was seeing the look on the faces of the finishers one year when she was watching the news. It was that look of triumph combined with pain. It was that “I did it” look. Never one to turn down a challenge, she decided then and there she was going to run a marathon.
It takes a lot of time and training to prepare for a marathon. Prior to this epiphany, Ms. Mar had never run more than a mile at a time and that was under protest when she was playing basketball in college. But she was determined to run a marathon.
Since Thomas Square in downtown Honolulu was close to her apartment she decided to make that her training ground. It is a quaint little park that encompasses an entire city block with a large fountain in the middle. First it was walking, then walk-run and finally the day came when she was able to run the entire distance. She persevered and eventually I ran around it till she got enough stamina to do it till she got dizzy, then sought a bigger venue. Ala Moana Park was three miles around and filled with other runners. That became her home track.
From there she graduated to the Honolulu Marathon Clinic, a clinic started by Dr. Jack Scaff, a local cardiologist. Dr. Scaff started the marathon clinic in 1974 to help cardiac patients get back to a productive life. The clinic starts in March each year and end with the running of the Honolulu Marathon in December each year. Every Sunday morning she would get up at 6:00 a.m. and take the bus to Kapiolani Park to attend the clinic. Every week she increased my mileage until she was running 70-80 miles per week. Now that IS crazy.
I don’t want you to think it was all work and no play. During her training, she met many other wonderful and interesting people from all walks of life. Among the people she met was Mr. C. They became a part of a group of runners who called themselves the Congenial Defects (see Mr. C’s blog) and while training for the marathon the Defects would run other races and events throughout the island.
Now I need to preface this by saying I was not there. All of this is hearsay. I’ll let Ms. Mar tell the story. Wait. Go get a warm cup of milk and a blanket because Mrs. Mar is gearing up to drift into the past (a long, long time ago) and she can be a little long-winded . . .
I think Ms. Mar thought I was not paying attention because I was purring out loud. So I moved to show here that I was not sleeping. But I was not convincing since my pretty green eyes kept rolling back and my eyelids kept closing like our garage door. But the dutiful cat that I am, I sat and listened:
“Honolulu is a great place to train for a marathon. The weather is warm all the time and even if it’s raining its warm enough to run. After our Friday runs, a group of us would have a barbecue on the beach, go out for a pizza, or have some type of social gathering. Our logic was that after running 10 or 12 miles, we deserved it.
“As the time got closer for the marathon, the training became more intense. Our Sunday runs became 18-22 mile runs and weekday runs ranged from 5-12 miles. By November it was a matter of maintaining and staying healthy. “A week before the marathon, the common practice in those days was to carbo-load. We would do our last “depletion” run on Sunday and then eat only protein for several days. Without carbohydrates to fuel us, our energy levels would wane and by mid-week it would be difficult to run even 2-3 miles. It’s a little unnerving to not have the energy to run just four days before the marathon, but I was assured that once I packed on the carbs, I would be ready for the long run. Wednesday before the marathon, we would start eating lots and lots of carbs. Pasta was a staple for those few days. By Sunday, we were sated and ready to run.
“If you are ever planning to run a marathon, Honolulu is a great place to start. It is called the “people’s marathon” for a reason. It is open to everyone and people from all over the world travel to Honolulu to run this marathon.
“Race morning finally arrives. I arrive at Aloha Tower, the starting place. It is still dark and thousands of people are milling around. The nervous energy and excitement is palpable. Like me, most of the people are running their first marathon. My mind is spinning with the craziness of it all. I have to a find a bathroom. As the start time approaches, the bull horn is shouting out instructions. I have prepared for this and I am ready. I find the area set for the 10 minute mile runners. One of the first things they instructed us at the clinic was to not start out too fast. The goal is to preserve your energy so you can run the second half of the race faster than the first half. I am in the middle of a sea of humanity. Then the countdown begins . . . 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, . . .”
to be continued . . .
See you next week for the conclusion of the marathon.