At mile 15, or something like that, you make a turn into the dreaded Energy Lab portion of the course. It’s a downhill section into a slight ocean breeze. You would think “yaaa downhill” but as most runners will tell you, a downhill section on already trashed legs feels awful. It’s like your quads have to brake for every stride and the shock sent through your legs is painful. And it’s interesting because I’ve been told, and I’ve told people, on downhills you open up your stride a bit and run over the ground, landing on your forefoot as not to “brake” with each stride. While good in theory, sometimes your legs just cannot do that. The next two and a half miles are right around 9 minute pace as I reach the turn around and head back up the hill. Going uphill isn’t any better than going downhill and my calves seized up again so I try to stretch them out for a few seconds. In this situation the only real thoughts are, “I just want to be done. This sucks. Why am I doing this? I want to quit and walk it in.” Yes that crossed my mind several times during the miserable survival run/jog. There were many moments where I felt like I was on the verge of implosion and would have to walk, but I just continued to put one foot in front of the other.
Back out on the highway you could see Kona in the distance but it seemed so far away. I was basically a running zombie and everyone just wanted it to be over. Without dragging this out to much longer it was basically mile to mile, aid station to aid station, with legs of death for each step and questionable looks at every aid station. I’m sure they were all wondering how these insane people do this to themselves. When you’re doing this your mind has to wander a little bit to try to not think about how much pain you’re in. In between one of those aid stations out there I was thinking about my finish and what to do for my picture. I needed something original so somehow I decided pointing to Petoskey on the Michigan Mitten with my hand would be cool.
I finally hit mile 24 and there was a long gradual climb up to Palani which then turns right and descends into Kona toward the finish. The only way I had gotten this far was to take the run a section at a time and I told myself to just get to the top of this hill and then you’ll have a nice downhill. Going down Palani was not fun for the same reason the energy lab hill isn’t fun, only Palani is steeper. Mile 25 came by and I was just thinking, “One mile that’s a piece of cake.” There were people cheering now, but you don’t really notice them specifically in your zombie like state. As I turned onto Alii drive I felt like the horse headed for the barn and was able to pick it up slightly. I didn’t want to do this any more. I wanted to be at the finish NOW! Again there were tons of people and banners and music and Mike Riley announcing but I didn’t really notice any specifics. I slowed down to allow the guy in front of me to have his time at the finish and so I could have mine as well. As I walked up the ramp I heard my name announced and I pumped my arms and then held up my hand in the “Michigan Mitten” and pointed to Petoskey; smiling and relieved it was over. My finishing time was 9:52.45.