Half Marathons: Definitely NOT Half the Work!

I am of the opinion that anyone contemplating attempting a full marathon might want to try a half marathon first. On Sunday I attempted and completed a half marathon, the first annual Hibiscus half marathon, but not without a lot of thinking and decision making. Am I glad I did it? Yes. Will I do it again? Probably. Am I going to attempt the Honolulu Marathon? Hell no!

I like joining in the fight for a worthy cause. This one was for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – Hawaii. I am very proud of them for taking on this challenge!

Timed results

As some people checked for their finish times, I continued to berate myself for letting this opportunity pass without giving it a little more effort in the way of preparation. A lot of the things that led to this decision were my own fault. I didn’t prepare myself enough, I didn’t know a few small details about foot care, and there were too many other issues in my life at the time that made focusing on the run difficult. You need to be focused, you need to prepare, and you need to know what can happen to your poor tootsies if you’re not careful!

I called Runners HI after the race was over and asked them some things and I will share the answers here because I thought they were good ones. The conversation went something like this:

“Why did my left leg give out on me?” This happened at about the midpoint of the race.

“There are many things that could have caused that. Did you prepare and train for the half marathon?”
“Not really, my fault.” (NOTE: His point was that doing the minimum amount of preparation, or less, to complete an 8-mile course doesn’t help at all when headed for one that’s 13 miles.) Then I asked, “Why do you get blisters between your toes? I’ve never had that happen to me before.”

“You need to keep your feet dry. When you approach the water stations don’t go to the first person with the water. Aim for further down the line or towards the end of the line where it is drier and avoid the puddles. Don’t pour water over your head to cool yourself off because it goes right down to your feet.”
“You mean like I did?” I said with a sigh.

He laughed and congratulated me for finishing. I said thank you, but I was very disappointed in my own performance and I’m still picking on myself about it. But, I was happy to share with him that I did not loose any toe nails this time, thanks to the shoes they sold me the last time I was there. We’ll talk about the Runners HI and the brand of shoes in a later post, I promise.

Now, while keeping in mind that I have been extremely spoiled by the Great Aloha Run, I have to say that everything to follow will have to be compared to that and I really don’t think many events will come close. But, I think it’s useful for the race organizers to hear feedback — good and bad. The biggest problem with these things is that they are designed to raise money for a worthy charity so money is always a problem since they are trying to make money, not spend it.

Where do I feel things didn’t work?

  • No shuttle to transport people from the parking area to the starting point of the race, or to return them to their car at the end of the race. They needed one or the other. Preferably from parking to starting line. Or, have the run start and end at the same place.
  • No posters in the hotels. As I passed the Ilikai Hotel, one employee asked another what the run was for and the other shrugged his shoulders and said, “I dunno.” All the hotels we passed should have had flyers in their lobby.
  • Poorly marked at the last stretch of the run — no cones and no signs; you were just supposed to know I guess. At that point you should not have to worry if you’re going the right way. To have the person who was giving instructions at the beginning of the race say things like, “the Honolulu Marathon ending” does not leave a good taste in your mouth when you don’t know what the heck he’s talking about. In a crowd that size you’re too far away from him to say anything in response. Someone giving instructions needs to be a little more specific than that and not just assume everyone knows what you’re talking about. So, that was a double bad thing at the start and the finish. Fortunately I have participated in other charity events that ended here before.
  • There was not nearly enough food left at the end of the run — only Fritos Corn Chips. If you were one of the, say last 100 or so runners, there would have been nothing left. Besides, while pastry is nice, bananas would have been more appropriate than concentrated sugar. Besides, bananas and Fritos go well together. The fluids offered were in cups rather than bottled water. Surely some water company would have liked to support this worthy charity? Most of the liquid, aside from having everyone breathing on it,was not even cold. Another runner commented to me, after gasping when I told her about it, “What?!? You NEED something at the end of a race like that!” I was fine, but others were left with just warm water and (*choke*) warm Gatorade. They knew how many participants they had so that excuse won’t fly. It’s like a slap in the face for your supporters who aren’t as fast as the others.

What was good?

  • The finish line! What a welcome sight! I was tired, I’ll admit it, I took on more than I was prepared for. My bad!
  • Officers of the Honolulu Police Department were all along the route promising safety from moving traffic and a sense of security if you should decide to collapse on the side of the road somewhere.
  • The weather was beautiful and starting that early in the morning certainly helped to ease the heat fatigue.
  • The surfers were out this early and the ocean was nice to admire as we ran or walked by.
  • Dragonfly over poolThis neat metal dragonfly on the right (I think that’s what it is) that was hovering over one of the pools at Kapiolani Park was an interesting thing. I guess after your body has exhausted itself and your mind has suffered self-inflicted chastisement, you seek out things that appear serene, cool and relaxing. This little guy helped me get to the car with a smile on my face.

Finish Line

The finish line was at Kapiolani Park — at the same place where a lot of the runs end these days, and now I know this includes the Honolulu Marathon. Kapiolani Park is a nice place to have tents set up with drinks and food for participants crossing the finish line, as long as you don’t run out.

Liquid refreshment at the end

I’m sure I’ll attempt this again and I hope that the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will forgive my critique! I actually hope it helps a little. Will I still support them? Of course I will! In fact, I will now urge readers to follow the link and contact them to make a donation! Cancer of anything is worth fighting against and I myself am rather fond of healthy blood!

T-Shirt and Logo Bag

All of this just goes to show that, for both the organizers and the participants, Half Marathons are definitely NOT half the work!

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42 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tom O'leary // Jun 22, 2007 at 7:44 pm


    I like a good, honest, balanced race review. Too many people try to tell us that everything is fine when realistically some parts of some races could do with some improvement.

    Just because it was a fund raiser, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be able to put on a professional show. Especially, little things like plenty of food and drinks at the finish line are very, very important for all of the participants.

    I hope the organizers take your criticism constructively and make the changes they need to make it an even better race

    Thanks for writing up the race.

  • 2 Evelyn // Jun 22, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    Thank you, Tom. That means a lot coming from someone with your running experience. I will be talking to them just to be sure I have not missed something that I should have picked up on and/or overstated something — that was definitely not my intent. Thanks again!

  • 3 What makes a good running road race? // Jun 26, 2007 at 3:01 am

    […] Evelyn at Homespun Honolulu has written a very balanced review of the 1st Annual Hibiscus Half Marathon in Honolulu.  Her report is a mixture of satisfaction and constructive criticism (check it out for yourself).  […]

  • 4 Michael Rodriguez // Aug 7, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    It was just too bad, that the Honolulu Police Officers providing traffic control along the Route were stiffed their pay for their services by Ron Pate and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Not one cent has been payed for their Special Duty Services

  • 5 Evelyn // Aug 7, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Thank you, Michael. Do I start screaming now or later?!? I will follow up.

  • 6 Michael Rodriguez // Aug 14, 2007 at 9:11 am

    HPD officers were paid , today by TIME LINE. Thank You , TIME LINE.

  • 7 Evelyn // Aug 14, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Thank you for that update! I’m thinking that Time Line is the company that timed the event? Since I’m not sure and since I couldn’t get anyone to confirm, I’m just glad the officers were paid!

  • 8 Anne // May 5, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    As someone who has signed up for the 2009 Hibiscus Half Marathon (my first race longer than 5k), I appreciate your candid review!
    Just to clarify, you did not train? Are you a runner by nature? You must have been in fairly good physical shape to finish without training (did you run/jog the whole way?). I ask because I am training (though it is challenging everyday)…and I want to have an idea of what to anticipate on race day. It’s okay if there will still be pain…I just want to know ahead of time. Oh, the anticipation!

  • 9 Evelyn // May 5, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Hi Anne! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for asking! I did not train as I should but I also had other health issues pending that I didn’t know about. I found out after the fact. Since then I have learned how to deal with those and will be trying a half marathon again, just not right away.

    You’ll be okay! I ran what I could and walked the rest. No training again, see? Tsk! You’re going to be very proud of yourself! Besides, the year I did it was their first year; I’m sure they’re better prepared now! Please come back and tell us how you did!?! Have fun!

  • 10 Jim // May 7, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    I just signed up to run the Hibiscus Half Marathon today. I just started running last November and my first race was the Aloha Run. I’ve been training and will be happy just to finish. 5 more weeks to go.

  • 11 Evelyn // May 8, 2009 at 6:06 am

    You’ll finish, Jim. Don’t worry! Just stay focused, enjoy the morning air, and remember the passion that made you sign up to begin with!

    You guys are making me feel so bad that I haven’t been able to do the same recently. Tendonitis is a curse, I swear. Grrr!

    Just have fun and share the aloha with your fellow runners. 🙂 Please come back and tell me all about it!

  • 12 jim // Jun 15, 2009 at 4:03 am

    Well, I actually ran it and finished yesterday! My time was slow at 3:13. And, I hit the wall at 11 mile mark going up Diamond Head the second time. I had to walk/run the final two miles. I’ve got to put in some more training to be able to finish that race running the whole way.

    I did have trouble training for the last 3 weeks. I got sick for and I had tendonitis in my right achilles tendon from an old sports injury. Fortunately, I found a good therapist/specialty chiropractor who helped me work it out enough to run the race.

    I am going to try another half marathon later this summer. It was fun. After running that race, I don’t see how a marathon is even possible

  • 13 Evelyn // Jun 15, 2009 at 6:32 am

    Thank you, Jim, for coming back and sharing that! I agree with you about the marathon thing. I just remember saying to myself, “What was I thinking?!?” 🙂 I too want to run another but I have a lot of training and recovery to do (tendonitis as well) before that happens. Congratulations, my friend, I admire your perseverance!

  • 14 jim // Jun 15, 2009 at 6:44 am

    By the way, here is some more information about the race. There were about 900 runners split between a 5k, 15k and 1/2 marathon. The course seems to be about the same as you described it. The path was very well marked. We had no trouble with directions, so they clearly fixed that problem.

    Also, there was plenty of water, gatorade and even gels they handed out at all the aid stations. That was very nice. And, at the finish line, they had lots of water, bananas, beef jerky, power bars, etc. Lots more than you described.

    This race was very different from the Aloha Run. The Aloha Run had almost 20000 people with bands and 50 yard water stations. This one was much more laid back and the racers were much more serious. Once we got going, the runners spread out nicely so there wasn’t a whole lot of passing. Not many walkers except near the end. In the Aloha, we passed walkers from the beginning all the way until the end of the race.

  • 15 Evelyn // Jun 15, 2009 at 7:03 am

    Yep, yep. Aloha Run is just that — sharing the aloha in the community. It’s more of a play day.

    I noticed exactly what you say — this race (as I’m sure it is with the marathon) is less about community and more the run — focused and serious.

    GAR does tend to spoil you. I like being left alone during a run but I like the before and after stuff too. I don’t expect bands at a 1/2 marathon or anything like that — but I do admit to enjoying the beneficial boosts they give. But, that’s me — maybe others don’t find as much encouragement from them. I just love music and tend to get lost in it. IPOD is not good for me — too distracting.

    I am SO glad they provided stuff at the end of the event! Between that and the course being well marked, it sounds like they’ve come a long way. I’m very proud of them!

    Hope to “run” into you at a 1/2 sometime! Perhaps next year’s Hibiscus? 🙂

  • 16 Anne // Jun 15, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Aloha Jim & Evelyn,
    I also finished the half marathon yesterday, just behind Jim at 3:15…what a small island! Jim, I bet we ran past each other a few times yesterday (I was alternating running and walking).
    I was just thrilled to finish. After an injury and a bout of sickness – my training also tapered over the last few weeks. I, too, plan to run another one this year.
    Congrats to all the finishers…

  • 17 jim // Jun 15, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Wow, what a small world, Anne. I am sure we passed each other several times. There were a lot of walk/runners who kept passing me.

    I plan to train a lot more this summer. I’ll probably be running a lot of 6-8 mile training runs at Kapiolani Park on the weekends. If you need a running partner, let me know. Since our pace is about the same, it should work out.

  • 18 Evelyn // Jun 15, 2009 at 8:58 am

    This is so cool — Anne came back too! You guys are the best! I’m so very proud of everyone! 🙂

    You guys have me drooling now. There’s a guy I see all the time who runs down Nuuanu — it always inspires me to see people who are so dedicated. I have to find out who that guy is! He would blow me away I’m sure, as would the two of you. But, that’s my incentive, right?

    Big hugs and congratulations again. What a great way to start a Monday!

  • 19 Anne // Jun 15, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Well, Evelyn…perhaps Jim & I will see you at next year’s half marathon?
    Okay Jim, I have to ask – did you accidentally spit on two girls yesterday at the race? My friend and I were accidently spit on by a man who finished just a couple of minutes ahead of us (I swear, it was an accident). Wouldn’t it be hilarious if it was you who accidently spit on us?!?! I just had to ask…

  • 20 jim // Jun 15, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    OMG, I hope it wasn’t me. That would be too embarassing. Well, I don’t really spit much, so I doubt it was me, especially since I was so worried about dehydration. I am a chinese guy and I was wearing a red shirt. I was running with a tall skinny haole guy. We ran together.

    There were two ladies who were running together who we passed a few times, but they finished ahead of us by a couple of minutes. Was that you?

  • 21 Evelyn // Jun 15, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    You guys are too funny! I guess we all have to be careful of the direction the wind is blowing, huh? 🙂

  • 22 Anne // Jun 16, 2009 at 7:01 am

    Oh, you definitely didn’t spit on us (too bad, that would have been hilariously ironic)!
    I do remember you and your running partner. I am a blond haole girl (was wearing black bottoms with an orange top) and my friend is brunette haole. I think we were back and forth through the whole race (we did a lot of alternating running and walking).
    Again, congrats on finishing (a huge accomplishment!).
    Hopefully we will ‘run’ into each other in a few future races…and maybe Evelyn too?!?!

  • 23 jim // Jun 16, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Well that’s a relief to find it wasn’t me. I’m pretty sure I remember you, too. It’s a small world.

    My legs are still tired today. I think I need to run a mile to get rid of the lactic acid I feel in them. I got a massage yesterday at the Massage Specialists. That didn’t really help at all.

  • 24 jim // Aug 15, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Okay. Here’s an update. I just finished running the Hickam 1/2 marathon. I am very pleased with my time of 2:40. Shaved off 33 minutes from the Hibiscus 1/2 marathon.

    After the Hibiscus, I decided I was going to run another 1/2 and I also decided to give the honolulu marathon a try.

    I bought a new pair of shoes which solved my tendonitis problem and I joined the Honolulu Marathon Clinic which meets every Sunday at 7:30 am. It’s a really fun group. It has 8 or so levels of runners, so you can always find a bunch of people who run at your pace.

    I’ve learned so much in just the last 2 months that the Marathon seems doable now. I am up to 30 miles per week running. I never thought it would be possible. But, it is when you have the right people helping you to train.

  • 25 Evelyn // Aug 15, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Oh my goodness, Jim! You have made unbelievable strides! Okay, tell me what you changed your shoes to. What brand did you buy? And, tell me what you WERE wearing. I have a tendon problem too and can’t see to shake it. Irritating!

    I am so very proud of you and your determination! Thank you so much for sharing your updates. This is awesome. I want to do another half eventually… the full scares me. 🙂

    So, you have to keep us posted! Please do tell us about the shoe switch! Everyone is different so my horror may be another’s perfect fit. Please share — I’m open to anything!

    Congratulations on your progress!!!

  • 26 jim // Aug 16, 2009 at 9:05 am

    My new running shoe is a New Balance 850. I was running with an Asics TN804 which is actually just a cross trainer shoe.

    What caused my tendonitis is my feet pronate when I run, so I need inside arch support. When I went to the New Balance Store in Ward Center, Lexi was able to measure my foot, watch me walk and pick the shoe for me. The relief on the inside of my ankle was immediate. It’s amazing what the right shoe will do for your ankles and knees.

    From a training point of view, I feel like I have the right balance of encouragement/support, diet, weekly mileage, stretching /rolling, rest, shoes and cross training to continue improving my distance and endurance. I am travelling for 5 weeks starting next week, so I hope I can keep my routine. If I do, I feel pretty confident about finishing the marathon.

  • 27 jim // Aug 16, 2009 at 9:26 am

    By the way, what I would do is stop by Kapiolani Park on a Sunday morning at 7:30 am on the Mauka side of the park to check out the Honolulu Marathon Clinic. It’s free. Dr. Jack Scaff gives a nice talk every morning. There are about 100-150 runners there every Sunday of all levels from beginner to advanced to train for the race.

    Sign up, it’s free. And, as a member, you get a 20% discount off of New Balance store merchandise along with many other running stores.

    The group starts up in March of every year. It’s a great place to learn how to train for a marathon. They start with very low mileage and increase it every month until the marathon. Beginners are now at 12 miles on Sunday and 30 miles per week. That’s a bit much to do now to start. But believe it or not, there are many people who are doing it.

    On the runs, there is a break about every mile or so with lots of bathrooms and water fountains. So, it’s not a strenuous if you keep up with the “homework” which is basically getting your mileage in for the week. The key thing I learned about long distance training is to go slow and long. And, if you take breaks, it doens’t really matter. You just need to get the mileage in.

    In the beginner group, there are some folks who just walk the whole time. It works out pretty well for everyone involved.

  • 28 Evelyn // Aug 16, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Another runner I ran into not too long ago also spoke highly of the New Balance shoes. Interesting. I do have a pair and don’t really have much complaint but softer and more arch support is always welcome for me!

    I have to get men’s shoes ’cause the women’s are always too narrow and just not right somehow. Hey, I’m born and raised here and spent most of my youth barefoot or darn close to it! 🙂

    Thanks for the tips on the training, etc. Sounds good!

  • 29 Jim // Oct 26, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Here’s another update. Yesterday, I ran in the PF Chang 30k (18.64 miles). It took me over 4 hours to finish, but I did it. I had a stronger finish that I did for the Hibiscus Half marathon. But, I am pretty sore right now. My training was going extremely well until about 3 weeks ago. I ended up injuring my left ankle this time and lost a couple weeks of training.

    It’s been a long haul. Lots of training. Lots of rehab. I am pretty sure I’ll finish as long as I don’t exacerbate this ankle injury.

    7 more weeks to go to the Marathon. 4 week

  • 30 Evelyn // Oct 31, 2009 at 7:04 am

    Good job, Jim! My goodness! Hang in there and do be very mindful of your injuries! Thanks to the brilliance of the Sports Medicine doctor at Kaiser, I may actually be able to work through my tendonitis by Aloha Run time!

    Be careful but stay focused! You’re awesome! I’m so proud of you and I will be thinking of you during the marathon — ankle and all! 🙂

  • 31 Jim // Dec 14, 2009 at 12:12 am

    Well, I did it. I ran the Honolulu Marathon today! It was the culmination of an entire year’s worth of training and a commitment to the most insane physical torture ever created by humans for humans.

    My legs are dead, but my spirits are high. The race took me a bit over 7 hours with a healthy dose of walking and running. The first half of the race was actually quite easy through Hawaii Kai. In fact, it wasn’t too bad until about the 20 mile mark where the real race began. Each mile seemed double in length as just about everyone was walking by that time. After each passing mile marker, I had to keep telling myself that it would be over in a short while… That I’ve run this route dozens of times and I just needed to do it one more time. Kahala Ave from mile 23-25 up diamond head has to be the single most evil obstacle perfectly placed for maximum torture. Everyone was walking at that point.

    Once I made it to the top of Diamond head, I knew I would finish. I just had to keep going. My legs were cramping. My head hurt. I was dehyrdated and sunburnt. I just kept telling myself not to keel over. I’ve come too far. I was very dismayed when I found the last aid station was out of water as we made the final turn toward the finish. But, at that point, I didn’t care. I picked up my running pace as I usually do at this point in the race. When I saw the finish line, I focused my eyes on the words “FINISH” and I would not take them off. I just kept putting one leg in front of the other increasing the length of my stride. I was running as if it were the beginning of the race. I ignored any pain I was feeling because all I could think of was finishing. I put my hands up in the air and I crossed the finish line.

    After over 1000 miles training, suffering tendonitis early in the year and massive shin splints for the past 2 months, running in the Great Aloha Run, the Hibiscus Half, the Hickam Half and the PF Chang 30K, it has been an extremely gratifying year for this 46 year old. I am so happy that I committed myself to this goal and actually accomplished it. To steal a phrase from Adam Richman in his man v. food show, “today, in the battle of man v. marathon. man won.”

    Now that I’ve done it. Would I do it again?…..

    Hell yeah. I am ready to sign up for it again. I’m hooked.

  • 32 Evelyn // Dec 15, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    I am so damn proud of you, Jim! Maybe someday I can emulate your conviction! As I was reading through your comment I was feeling it every step of the way! That FINISH must have seemed oh so far! Congratulations my friend — you are an example for us all! Wow! YOU DID IT!

  • 33 Karen // Feb 9, 2010 at 6:26 am

    I signed up for the Hibiscus half yesterday. I will be vacationing in Hawaii. I am doing a half in every state. HI will be my 15 state and my fifth half this year. Thanks for all the comments and am looking forward to the race. I follow a run/walk schedule for my halfs and stick to it the whole way through. See you in June and ALOHA!!!

  • 34 Evelyn // Feb 9, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Hi Karen! It’s great to hear that you’ve got yourself all signed up. Enjoy your stay and happy running! 🙂

  • 35 Jim // Feb 10, 2010 at 3:59 am

    Hope to see you at the start, Karen. I’m running it again. It’s fun. You will be running on the same path as the Honolulu Marathon. You’ll get to experience that wonderful 2 mile stretch up Diamond head near the end of the race.

    On Monday, I’m running the Great Aloha Run. My two older boys are running with me, too. I can’t wait.

    Also, I bought a road bike and I am taking swim lessons. Training for the Tinman in July….

  • 36 Evelyn // Feb 10, 2010 at 5:54 am

    I’ll be there on Monday too, Jim, although I’m sure I will not be able to do as well as you! I don’t know how I would be able to pick you guys out of a crowd of more than 20,000 but I’ll be sure and talk about it on this blog and we can all move this wonderful, ongoing conversation to a more recent article.

    I seriously love that you keep sharing your accomplishments with us! You’re a serious inspiration my friend!

    I’ve been thinking of trying the hibiscus run again but I need to prepare myself a little better. At least a little. 😉

  • 37 Gayle // Feb 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Looking forward to the Hibiscus Half! I’ll be on vacation too- I can’t imagine having a better time =)
    Hopefully there will be something left at the finish for me.

  • 38 Evelyn // Feb 6, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks for leaving a comment, Gayle! This will be, if I’m not mistaken, their 5th year. I attempted their 1st. I’m sure they’ve gotten better about such things since then! 🙂 Good luck and please check back and let us know how you did!

  • 39 Dianne // Feb 16, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    I’m thinking about signing up for this year’s run. I heard there are no aid stations or porta potties on this one. Is that right???

  • 40 Marcia // May 31, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    I just completed my 2nd 10k yesterday (68:38) and have decided to train for my first 1/2 marathon. I have searched various places/races and came across the Hibiscus half and would love to combine it with a race/vacation. What I want to know has it improved since I believe this will be the 6th annual (2012). Thanks for any comments.

  • 41 Evelyn // Jun 5, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I haven’t tried it again since this time, Marcia, but I’m gonna go with, “I’m sure it has improved!” 🙂

  • 42 Kalee // Apr 14, 2016 at 6:24 am

    I am seriously thinking of signing up for this year’s Hibiscus. I ran the Great Aloha Run in February and that’s the longest distance I’ve gone so far. I know I still have some time to prepare and that I can always walk if I need to, but for some reason, the 4 hour time limit scares me. Logically, I know I can finish in that time. I’m definitely not a fast runner, so my only goal would be to finish the race.

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