Thursday, January 23, 2014

The final state- Hawaii 5-0 Recap

The Race: 

State #50

Official time: Leisurely 1:54:03

I have to say I've been thinking about this day for a long, l-o-n-g time. From day one I always knew I wanted to finish in Hawaii with a bang and have my parents there to help celebrate. I had 2 requirements:

  1.  Per parents suggestion, the race couldn't be in O'ahu as they have already been to that Island and it felt more like a big city than a tropical paradise. 
  2. Once I started planning my 2013 races I realized it was possible to fit in Hawaii (if available.) Route 66 1/2 was going to be my OK and #49, so it had to be after that date- Nov 24. 
Then it was just a matter of choosing something in December / January time frame so I didn't have to wait too long between 49 and 50, thus not dragging it out.  The Maui Oceanfront Marathon fit everything I was looking for, and as an added bonus, race bestie Kim ran it 2 years ago with Alma and she gave her stamp of approval.

Everything about this race was fabulous (minus the heat and lack of shade, but come on, you're in Maui).  I truly cannot believe how special this race was to me, and there are a million different ways to recap it, so below is my best breakdown...

The Day Before
  •  When registering for the race there was a section where it said "tell us something unique to announce about you as you cross the finish line"... SERIOUSLY?? In all my races I have never seen that. Naturally I put that I would be finishing my quest- and apparently so did the 1 other guy competing his half journey and the 12 marathoners doing the same. The race director sent all race participants an email publicly congratulating each by name and that he would give each of us bib #50 so we could identify one another, as well as have a neat memento. How fitting that this is my most gorgeous bib and I plan on framing it! 
  • There were several options for packet pickup, however due to prior activities planned, I had to go to the one held in Lahaina near the race start. Parking was hard to come by for the Pioneer Inn (where it was held), so dad dropped us off and found a spot 8 blocks away. We enjoyed views of the ocean until he met up. 
  • Next door to packet pick up there was a giant art fair held at the town Banyan Tree. Turns out the artist who created our bibs, shirts, and race posters was there signing any of our race gear if we wanted. Since this is a milestone race I gladly shelled out the $5 for the poster (another item I will frame) and I asked him to sign it for me! 

"Congratulations on State #50 Hawaii! Michael Stark - Maui 2014"
  • After we were done browsing the art fair, we had a quick lunch and checked out the shops on front street (voted in the "Top 10 Best Streets" according to American Planning Association- I assume because its waterfront and there are a ton of artists / shops.) Most people would rest the day before a big race, but I had zero time goals so we made a pit stop at Maui Brewing Company and took a scenic 3-4 hour drive around the island which involved a lot  exploring / climbing--- separate recaps of adventures in Hawaii to come. 
  • Half marathon start was at 6:30- we were staying about 40 minutes from the area in Wailea (marathon start was actually RIGHT next door to our hotel) - the drive + limited parking meant we had to be out the door by 5, thus an early start at 4am.  Once I laid out my race outfit, exhaustion swept over me so I had no problems getting to bed (and falling asleep) at a decent hour. 
    • My outfit: I had the tank made at a local shop and it turned out so well. "wonder woman" skirt was from Gypsy runner. I've never worn anything from them, but saw it at the Route 66 expo and knew it would be perfect for my final state. It worked out GREAT and as an added bonus, many knew just by skirt I was one of the 50 staters and it was a great conversation piece. 

Morning of
  • As I was getting ready in the morning my mom called my dad into the bathroom and they emerged doing a little chant and dance. I look up to see them wearing personalized shirts for this special occasion. It reminded me of high school all over again and having my biggest cheerleaders by my side truly set the tone for the rest of the day
  • Between my parents shirts, my outfit, and the fact that I was wearing bib #50, I felt like a local celebrity with runners coming up to me congratulating me on what was bound to be my most memorable race to come.  I'm told while I was running my folks got stopped a few times to ask about the shirts... proud parents gushing about their child's accomplishments are always a favorite past time. (I kid) 
  • I was fortunate to be able to cycle through bathrooms twice (nerves), however others were not as lucky to get done before race start- only 7 bathrooms for roughly 1,000 runners = winding lines (half marathon + 10k + 15k combined)
  • With t-minus 10 minutes I lined up and just kind of zoned out. Everything was surreal, I was actually here about to do this. Between my mom continually taking photos of me standing there, and some random lady since she saw my shirt, I now know what it's like to be bombarded by paparazzi - I'd really like to see the poses I did for the lady, but sadly, no idea who she was. 

The Actual Race:
  • As mentioned above, I had zero time goals for this race. I knew I wanted to soak in that I was racing in Hawaii, but also take my time to fully enjoy the final stage in my quest. My first mile I was on such a high that it was somewhere in the 7:30s- I immediately dialed back for the rest of the race. 
  • If you want an exact execution of the race, I suggest you check Kim's recap- aside from us starting 15 minutes earlier, everything is still just as accurate. *It should be noted that there is talk of next year having the half start 1 hour earlier at 5:30 am and the marathon at 4:30am.
  • As far as the course goes, it's an out and back on Honoapiilani  highway that starts and finishes in Kamehameha Iki Park  The ocean is prevalent most of the way with maybe a grand total of 1/2 mile of shade provided by some Banyan Trees (national tree of India). Not ideal for runners in the heat and sunshine, but great for photos and taking it easy! 
sun starting to rise 

rocks and beach 

rows of miniature banyan trees- aka the limited shade

standard view most of the course 

stopped where the 5k will start and had a runner waiting around to take this photo (mile 10ish for me) 
  • To be honest, the race is a bit of a blur- first mile the theme was "oh shit I can't believe I'm running my last state, I'm on cloud 9 la la la la, all smiles etc etc."  Last mile was "oh shit I can't believe I'm almost done, I don't think I'm ready, can I drag this out even longer, lets walk some more etc etc."
  • Rumor has it when you have a near death experience your life flashes before your eyes... spoiler alert, I didn't almost die but I did have that simliar scenario with all my races. I thought about all the people I met through racing, the challenges, injuries, achievements- the places I've been the things I've learned. All this and more came flooding in full force the last few minutes of the race and I just LOST IT.
  •  I always knew I would cry when this day came, however I didn't think it would be the deep in the gut heart wrenching kind that makes it difficult to breathe. When I turned the corner and saw the finish line I thought I was going to hyperventilate- this photo stands alone as the perfect way to depict bitter sweet. I can't help but tear up everytime I look at this..

  • I was done. No words can describe the elation, emptiness, relief, sorrow, exhaustion that I felt- had I been solo on this race I would have just sat there collecting my thoughts, but since my folks were waiting I collected myself, wiped my face, and proceeded to get my medal and enjoy the celebration 

The Aftermath:
  • Bet you can't guess just 2 minutes prior I was balling my eyes out... or maybe you can tell??
  • Mom was the first to shower me with hugs- I felt bad since I was so sweaty, but it felt nice to have someone there who truly understood what a pivotal / emotional moment I was having 

  • While talking with my dad my fellow 50 stater Brian came up to me (I was looking for a 50 bib all morning!) We were both on a high so it was hard to have coherent conversation so unfortunately the only thing I took away from the conversation was that he was from Minnesota and he finished a few minutes before me. No idea how long his quest took or why he started etc- fail on my part. 
  • After obligatory family photo the first thing I wanted to do was go in the ocean and cool down 
  • Parents had a better idea- celebrating with champagne.... twist my arm 

  • After many cheers and congratulations from strangers I was finally able to make my way to the ocean- celebrate and just relax 

  • When I emerged the parents thought it was a good idea to finish champagne solo--- great at the time- felt it later with lack of water, heat, and sun 

  • I think we stayed by the ocean for maybe 30 minutes- obviously we attracted a lot of attention which was neat / overwhelming. Eventually we made our way to the car and it was a very silent car ride home 
  • Since I have a love affiliation with bacon, mom got me 50 shades of bacon cookbook as well as a fifty states completer sticker to add to my car- how fitting .

  • The rest of the day was spent pool side, gorging on food, napping, then a celebratory dinner. I had a few conversations with my folks about the whole notion of "what's next" and how right now, there is nothing that can top this feeling so why try to beat it? For now, its just nice to be able to HAVE NO GOALS, and when the time is right, I'm sure I'll seek out something on a MUCH smaller scale. 

Overall this was the PERFECT ending to a great journey. For all those out there racing the states, I HIGHLY recommend you make your last state a special vacation and that you have your loved ones there to help share in that special moment. I cannot think of anything else that tops the moment I crossed the finish line, and that is all that I could ask for .

Although I'm done racing the states, I'm not done running altogether. There will be a lot less halfs in my schedule as I focus more on local races, but eventually I'll find my love again for the distance and even train to get that elusive sub 1:40. 

Thanks again to everyone for sharing in my journey, it's been a wild ride, but I'm glad to close the chapter and switch gears for awhile. 


  1. I love this whole post! What a great journey you have been on. Love that they gave you the number 50, love your finisher photo. Great job!

  2. Is it normal that I started crying reading this?! I seriously would have been doing the ugly cry if it was me!!! You have been on such a journey Lisa!!! Amazing!!! I LOVE the personal notes of the race giving you a special bib and I LOVE your parents!!! They are clearly so proud!!!

    1. I have to say that I also teared up!

      Congrats Lisa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. What an amazing time Lisa! Congrats on 50:) I love that your parents were there to support you and be there to cheer you on. My parents haven't been to a single one of my races so you have something special in them:) I love the picture of you crying, perfect!

  4. What an awesome race recap and I did tear up as well reading it! So awesome that you made a vacation out of it as well as having your parents there. Loved the shirts they had made to wear while watching you! And loved your outfit as well. Congrats on accomplishing such a goal!

  5. (Sniffling) That finish picture of you is perfect. What an amazing journey. So thrilled that you had champagne and a jump in the ocean post race, the two things I wish we had done too.
    Your skirt! Your arms! Your #50 race bib! Love it all. Love.

  6. I've been wanting to run the Maui half for several years now, and the special attention the RD gave to you and the other 50 state completers just cements it for me. Big, big congratulations on such an amazing accomplishment! I started tearing up when your parents came out dancing in their shirts and you really got me at the very happy that this turned out to be everything, and more, that you'd hoped for!

  7. Congratulations!!! I have followed your journey from the beginning (randomly found your blog through a friend's and was interested in your quest) and I have to say it is truly inspiring what you have accomplished! What a great way to cap off your quest and I hope to potentially do the same in the future!

  8. Woot! Woot!! CONGRATS Lisa! So happy I was able to meetup with you along this journey. And somewhat selfishly, I'm sad you're done... :( Everything seems just perfect about this race - so happy for you!! And when you're done with that star skirt, I want it! hahaha

  9. legit teared up reading this!!! SOOO happy for you. I think it will take me another 3-5 years? to finish the quest. THIS will be my race.

  10. BRAVO!!!!!! I love this post!!! All of it!!! Congratulations!!! This is awesome!!! Love the shirt your parents cute!!! Love the pic of you crossing the need to make a memory book with all your race posts.

  11. Oh my goodness just reading this makes me emotional!! It is so hard to believe your journey is over especially since I've followed you for so long. Doesn't seem like it should be ending. Congrats on a fantastic journey and for doing something not too many people can say they have done. Love so much that your parents were there to support you in so many ways! And your finishing picture is GORGEOUS!!!

  12. LOVE this post. i seriously teared up. love that they gave you all the number 50, love that your parents are so dang supportive and that you got to share this with them.

  13. This post gave me goose bumps, wow! What a huge and special accomplishment! Love the fact that you got a special bib and number, perfect!!

  14. Can't even express how freakin' amazing this is. I LOVED this post and almost teared up reading it. The pic of you crossing the finish line is so inspirational. I also love the pic of your shoes, champaign and other goodies. So many congrats!

  15. Absolutely love the post and so proud/happy for you. It was hard getting through it without tearing up. Congrats on your journey and love that you finished in Hawaii. Tell the parents I said hi and hope to talk to you soon. -Jennifer

  16. Wow! Congrats and I loved reading your recap. Great photo of you as you finished your race. I am on state #29 and can't wait to plan for my 49th and 50th state.