Journey to the finish line

A Disaster I’m Glad Happened

Sean Gleason, Print Design Co-Editor

The 40th Annual Honolulu Marathon was a disaster I’m glad happened. My goal was 4 hours and my time was a disappointing 7 hours and 51 minutes. What happened to my goal isn’t important. What’s important is that in the midst of disaster there’s hope, reconstruction and lessons learned… the hard way.

I had a top-notch strategy for the Honolulu Marathon I’d prepared years in advance. First to 13th mile, run 9 minutes and 50 seconds per mile and the 13th to 20th mile at 9 minutes per mile. Lastly, run the 20th mile to the finish at 8 minutes and 30 seconds per mile, which-if, my math is correct-, should mean I come in at about 4 hours.

“Dad! Dad! We’ve got to go!”


Did you remember to put your number on son?” asked my dad.

“Nope, thanks for reminding me!”

Shortly after pinning my number to my shirt, we were on our way to Ala Moana Boulevard. Upon arrival at the roadblock, it was time to say goodbye to my dad.

“Thanks for waking up early, dad.”

“No problem… Good luck, son, and I love you.”

“Thanks, dad, I’m going to need it. I love you, too!” I happily said

With that, my dad departed and I couldn’t help but think of all the support, emotional and financial, my mom and dad have given me over the years for my running.

As I walked towards my designated start line in the cold morning, my thoughts strayed away from my strategy and onto the journey I’ve been on to get to this moment.

“4 years… 4 years of training for this day,” I contemplated. “I still remember the day I started running. It was the best decision I had ever made. I’ve seen myself go from not being able to run a mile in sixth grade, winning my first 1st place age division medal in 7th, preparing for my first Great Aloha Run in eighth and finally to planning for the Olympics here in 10th grade.”

After reaching my starting line, I warmed up and stretched well. Soon, more and more people started to show up. Ala Moana Boulevard, as well as Ala Moana Beach Park, started to fill up.  It was starting to become increasingly harder to suppress doubts. You’re not good enough; you won’t finish; no Gleason has ever been a successful athlete; no one will ever recognize your abilities; you’ll never compete in the Olympics.

“The 40th Annual Honolulu Marathon will be beginning in less than 30 minutes!” proclaimed the announcer

Mentally, I went through my Honolulu Marathon strategy again, tied my shoelaces well and before I knew it, the fireworks started. The 40th Annual Honolulu Marathon had begun.

The first 12 miles went swimmingly for the most part, pace perfect, hydration swell, running form superb, and breathing well.

The 13th mile mark is where I just couldn’t hold pace anymore. Sort of similar to how a car is when it’s battery is dead. That mile was the worst mile I’ve ever experienced in my life. All of the emotions of disbelief, shame, melancholy entered my mind. I just lost the will to fight and I literally didn’t know what to do. I had thoughts of quitting, of getting on a bus and just going home…of crying.

“How could this happen?” I thought.

Even the happiness and confidence I had for the future vanished. However, depression and self-criticism had never gotten the best of me before and around the 18th mile- as I continued to walk- I tried to look for a logical, fundamental, positive, and analytical answer to my question. My mood also started to get better as I began to focus on how I’d gotten myself in this predicament.

As I walked, I thought about the year 2012 as a whole to look for a possible solution and, at around the 23rd, I finally put the pieces of the puzzle together! Before my sophomore year during the summer, I had run a marathon, which was my first marathon. I had gotten caught up in my confidence and it blinded me from the marathon-training program I’d made for myself. I figured I had enough time in between the summer and the Honolulu Marathon to recover. However, I was very wrong. I had injured myself in that first marathon and never was able to gradually work my way back to marathon-ready.

“That has to be it,” I said in confidence. “If I hadn’t run that marathon this summer, I never would’ve gotten injured and I would’ve been more than ready to complete the Honolulu Marathon in 4 hours… Man, I sure am audacious.”

At that moment I looked to my left and noticed the gorgeous view Diamond Head offered, the view that I usually ignore when I run around on my own.

“Wow,” I thought, “I could use a little break.” I walked off of Diamond Head Road and onto the sidewalk. At first, I couldn’t believe what I was doing!

“Am I stopping during a race to take in the scenery?” I questioned myself. “Yes, yes I am, and I’m loving it,” I proclaimed to my thoughts.

At this point it didn’t really matter what time I came in, as long as I finished, so I decided to rest for a while and enjoy the view of the ocean

After walking across the finish line at 7 hours and 51 minutes and eating a malasada or two- or four- I contemplated how can I prevent all of this from happening again? First, I’d take time to give my legs some rest and then get back to marathon training as if nothing had happened. Thankfully, the injuries I’d sustained were pretty minor… some sores in my right calf and left thigh, but other than that nothing serious. Second, I’d join the cross country team. I’m glad I joined cross country for their 2012 season. It helped me improve my pace greatly. I’d be a fool not to join again for my Junior and Senior year, also considering the amount of fun I had. Last but not least, I’d continue to participate in the Honolulu Marathon as long as I can. As long there is breath in my lungs, I will run the Honolulu Marathon every single time.

“Dad! Dad! over here!” I yelled.

As I approached my dad, I could feel a tinge of uncertainty come over me as I remembered my time and wondered what my dad would think of me.

“Hey, how long were you waiting for me?” I asked.

“That doesn’t matter,” said my dad. “I’m proud of you.”

(sigh) “It doesn’t feel like a victory; it feels more of a loss.” I said

“What happened ,son?” asked my dad.

It’s a long story, Lets head for home. Well, now that I think about it, I guess today wasn’t a total loss I suppose,” I said. “I sure did learn from it.”

“What did you learn from it son?”

“I learned you need to be prepared, that you can’t let your confidence get the better of you. I learned that the only way we can be ready for the future is to plan ahead. I learned that there’s always a bright side and, of course, hope. Hope that whatever may bar your way, you can and will surpass it.

“So what are you going to do next?” asked my dad.

“I’m going to take it easy for the next week or two and get back to running, maybe on the week of New Years.”

“Only two weeks?” he questioned.

“Yeah, well I’m hurting but I’m not completely dying! Besides, the Great Aloha Run is only weeks away.”

With that we neared home. The following evening wasn’t very eventful. Just me relaxing, bathing in ice water, going over my plan as a runner for 2013…, and homework.