Honolulu Marathon, Ready Or Not, Here I Come

Fall Running Schedule: Halves & Relays & Marathons, Oh My!

The Honolulu Marathon (Photo: Honolulu Marathon Association)

Ready or not, Hawai’i here I come!

It’s almost time for the fifth race on my fall running schedule: the Honolulu Marathon on Sunday, December 13.

The Honolulu Marathon has been on my bucket list since I realized that marathons would be a permanent fixture in my life. I’m mildly obsessed with Hawai’i (just ask my husband). I’d been a few times as a child, when I had two cousins living in the islands.

I’ve been to Honolulu just once, more than 20 years ago. It’s high time I returned, and what better reason than a race?

Ready Or Not For Honolulu Marathon

(Photo: Honolulu Marathon Association)

After all, the Kaua’i Marathon & Half Marathon, which I tackled in 2013, is one of my all time favorite races.

And Hawai’i is one of my all time favorite places—and I’ve been to 35 countries on 6 continents.

Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon

After the Kaua’i Half Marathon. (Photo: Sport Photo)

So I’m heading out to the Aloha state early for a 16-night mega tour of Hawai’i Island, Maui, O’ahu, and Kaua’i. The Hawai’i Visitors and Convention Bureau at GoHawaii.com helped me plan the trip so I can experience active Hawai’i at its best.

On the itinerary? Swimming, SUPing, surfing, sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, and, of course, running.

Ready Or Not For Honolulu Marathon

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Phil Hospod)

You can follow along on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I’ll be posting photos and updates as long as cell service co-operates.

How excited am I for this trip? I bought a potted hibiscus and have managed to keep it alive for 25 weeks! That’s no small feat in New York City.

Ready Or Not For Honolulu Marathon

My hibiscus (RunKarlaRun.com)

Honolulu Marathon Training

But, Karla, you’re thinking. You haven’t been training for a marathon. Yes, you would be right. No, I have not.

I had every intention of doing all the proper marathon prep. I started the season right, kicking things off with the Fjord Norway Half Marathon near Bergen, Norway. Then I ramped it up with the New Balance Reach The Beach Relay.

But shortly after that my training was derailed by a flu, then nagging plantar fasciitis that struck in October.

I hobbled through the Runner’s World Half & Festival, finishing the trail race, 5K and 10K before dropping out of the half-marathon before it even started.

After a grand total of 16 days off, it was touch and go for a while. My foot was still bothering me, so I dialed back the mileage and upped the icing, stretching, night splint, anti-inflammatories, the works.

By the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon on November 22 (exactly three weeks before Honolulu), I felt well enough to give the race a go.

Kauai Half Marathon, half marathon

Running the Kaua’i Half Marathon (Photo: Sport Photo)

But the wind and my body—not quite conditioned to long runs—had other ideas. I ran a solid race, but my performance showed that my endurance is lacking.

I made up for it a week later by running my second fastest 5K ever at the Trot Off Your Turkey 5K on November 28. My foot felt great, my speed was there, and I threw down. Buoyed by that performance, I head into the Honolulu Marathon.

But Karla, you’re thinking. How are you going to run a marathon when your longest run was a half-marathon, not a 20-miler? That’s a great question. The answer is simple. I’m not going to. I’m going to walk a marathon.

I’m “pacing” my best friend of 30 years through her first 26.2. Unfortunately, she’s missed the last 8 weeks of training thanks to hip pain. She’s been swimming and riding the elliptical in lieu of running. But her doctor has cleared her to do the race…at a walk. So walk it, we will. There’s no way we are missing this one! We’ve been registered since January!

I also turned to legendary coach Jack Daniels and the Run SMART Project for solace about going into a marathon so unprepared. I’ve done enough of them—seven—to know that the distance deserves respect. I’ve been using a (complimentary) custom training plan from Run SMART, which comes with a great online training log with videos by Daniels talking about the key workouts on your plan. Honestly, I have Run SMART to thank for my speedy 5K despite missing so much training.

Daniels thinks the idea that you need to run 20 miles to prepare for a marathon is hooey, especially for folks running 4+ hour marathons. Sure, if you’re an elite gunning for a fast time, you need to do a long run of 2 to 2.5 hours, and that will be 20+ miles at a fast clip, he argues. But slower runners should also aim for long runs of 2 to 2.5 hours, and that means covering less mileage. (MinneapolisRunning.com breaks this argument down well.)

Does an ultra marathoner tackling a 100-mile race complete a 75-mile long run in training? Nope. Daniels thinks the marathon isn’t any different. If you can finish 13 miles in training, he says, you can finish 26.2 in a race—finish, being the key word. And that’s all Stephanie and I want to do!

Ready Or Not For Honolulu Marathon

Finishing is the goal! (Photo: Honolulu Marathon Association))

So here goes something! I’m really excited for Hawai’i and the Honolulu Marathon. The course takes runners through the heart of the city and along the shore. What a magical way to take it in—as a run-walking tourist on foot.


Ready Or Not For Honolulu Marathon

5 am start (Photo: Honolulu Marathon Association)

As mentioned above, GoHawaii.com is sponsoring much of my trip to Hawai’i, though I paid my race registration fee myself. As always, all opinions are purely my own. Seriously. For more information, read my disclosure policy.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


12 2015

10 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Yup! There’s a big difference between finishing a marathon and racing one. You’re in shape to finish one. Have fun with your friend!

    I wish my work trips were as nice as yours. Totally jealous. Take lots of photos and put them on Instagram so I can stare lustfully at them while I’m shivering in NY.

    BTW, Ben and I will be going to Mt. Kilimanjaro in a few weeks. If I recall correctly, you’ve done this, right? Any recommendations or tips?
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    • Karla Bruning

      Yes! I did Kilimanjaro in 2009. It’s incredible! So excited for you. I’m sure I have lots of tips. I think I put together an e-mail with lots of tips for a friend who was doing it. Let me see if I can find it. Did you already book your hike or are you looking for a guide?
      Karla Bruning recently posted..Honolulu Marathon, Ready Or Not, Here I ComeMy Profile

  2. Pam #

    Have an absolute blast in Hawaii. The islands are so beautiful and walking the marathon with a dear friend will be just as much fun as racing the marathon on your own. What continent are you missing? I finally reached all 7 when we traveled to Asia….hard to believe we hit Antarctica before that one, but Tom beat me since he traveled internationally for work. I’m very competitive!
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    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Pam! Looking forward to the experience of walking a marathon. I’m sure it will be very different! No matter what, it’ll be fun! I’m missing Antarctica! No plans for that one in the foreseeable future, but you never know! Impressed you’ve hit all 7!
      Karla Bruning recently posted..Honolulu Marathon, Ready Or Not, Here I ComeMy Profile

  3. 5

    How amazing!! I do love Hawaii. Last time I was in Honolulu, I did a training run that was along part of the marathon course (I think – at least that’s what I was told! :) ) and the views were absolutely gorgeous!! I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to see your pics and hear about your trip!

    And I’m so impressed that you kept a hibiscus alive. I have the complete opposite of a green thumb.

    • Karla Bruning

      So great to hear! I’ve only met one person who’s done the Honolulu Marathon, but she had great things to say about it. I wouldn’t say I have a green thumb. I’ve killed my fair share of plants, but this hibiscus is hearty!
      Karla Bruning recently posted..Honolulu Marathon, Ready Or Not, Here I ComeMy Profile

  4. Ron #

    Great Hawaii trip/run! What an awesome new achievement for you. Hope I can get and set my feet there too!
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  5. 9

    I’m so jealous! I love Hawaii! I’ll have to do a race there (my husband will totally roll his eyes, but maybe I can find a running race when the Rough Water Swim happens and we can both be happy). I can’t wait to see your pictures. Have a blast!!!
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