I was out the door by 4:30am and at the starting area within only a few minutes waiting for the 5:30 start. The start was only 3 miles down the street from our hotel which was on the race course. If you reserve a room earlier than I did, you can stay at the host hotel at the start/finish area.
There were only 305 marathon participants - the smallest marathon I've ever run. I never had to swerve around people because there was plenty of room. We had one lane blocked off for runners or ran on a wide shoulder and that worked out fine. There were people at corners and the turn-around to direct us. There were many encouraging volunteers and spectators.
We drove the route beforehand and when I saw the energy plant in the far distance during the race, I knew that was where we would turn off the road we were running up and be almost to the half-way point. That was a big pick-me-up as I ran up the long hill before the turn.
I loved that they had ice at the water stops. From mile 14 on, I took cups of ice and stuffed my mouth and both hands with it.
I liked the out and back course. I was able to see so many runners and we encouraged each other. At the halfway point, I told myself that all I had to do was run back to the start - it felt shorter that way. Also, I knew what was coming up after the halfway mark, even more so than from driving the course the day before.
There were a number of hills on the course, but most of them weren't very steep. I ran up all of them! I had done hillwork on the treadmill and a short bridge back at home. In the last couple of miles, seeing the runners ahead of me climbing the hills without stopping was encouraging.
I kept an eye on the temperature before the race. At 4:45AM, it was about 80° with 62% humidity and the heat index was 76° so I ran under the water misters set up on the course. In Houston, the humidity has been in the high 80's so I could barely feel the humidity at the start even though I heard other runners complaining about it. This made me glad (for the moment!) that I train in humid Houston.
To be continued at Kona Marathon Race Recap Part 2.
Here's my quick update posted just after finishing the Kona marathon.