Monday, January 9, 2012

Homecoming/ Wrap it Up!

The flight home wasn't as long as the flight to Hawaii in August.  As we touched down in Chicago, I got a little misty-eyed.  It was finally real that my time in Hawaii was over.  It was finally real that I was going to see my family soon.  It was finally real that I was home.  I was more excited than I was sad or upset.

Tawni and I walked through O'Hare in the direction of baggage claim.  We surprisingly didn't get lost (although it is a pretty fool-proof system, ya know, 'cuz there are signs everywhere telling you where to go.  Even an idiot like myself didn't get confused).

My family came into view as I was coming down the escalator.  I probably squealed and yelled some inappropriate comment, but whatever, I'm over it.  My mom, dad, sass-ter, and cousin Michelle were all there to meet me!  Brother had school so he couldn't come.  Sass-ter had made me a lei out of fabric to welcome me home, which was really sweet.  Tawni's parents were there to greet us as well, with flowers for Tawni.  We all hugged excitedly.

We got our bags and made our way to the parking lot.  It.  Was.  So.  Cold.  Thankfully my family came prepared with my winter coat.  It was so bulgy.  It felt unnatural.  Too many layers.  Closed toed shoes.  WTF.  And there wasn't even snow on the ground!!  It was a little disappointing.

All of us huddled into the equally cold van and headed off for home, making pit stops for lunch and to my aunt's house who lives near Chicago.  It was strange seeing billboards and squirrels and flat, brown, dead land.  I missed my Hawaii scenery of lush green mountains and sunsets in the ocean.

It got dark at like 4pm!  Which actually helped with my jetlag I think, because I didn't really feel any at all.  We dropped Michelle off at the Oasis where they my parents had met her and I passed out in the car for the rest of the way home.

I was dreading getting to my house.  I knew that Hannah wasn't going to be there and it was going to be awful.  Although it was glad to see my house again, there was a huge pit in my stomach knowing the sadness that accompanied being home.  I lugged my suitcase up the garage steps.  The first thing I noticed was that Hannah's bell she rang to go outside wasn't there.  I immediately broke down and burst into tears.  I cried on and off the rest of the night.

Bittersweet homecoming, indeed.

Brother gave me her ashes, and we decided to put them in Sister's room, because that was her favorite spot in the house.  She was always on her bed looking out the window and watching over us and the house.  And that's where she'll stay.

Even now, 3 weeks later, I still anticipate her being there when I come through the door, or when I get out of the shower, or when I wake up.  It's still sad, but it's just become a reality of life.  I can now talk about her without crying.  It just doesn't seem like she's gone.  I keep forgetting.  Even yesterday some friends were talking about taking their dogs to the park and I was like, "Oh!  That sounds fun!  Can I come?  I'll bring ... oh wait ... nevermind."  I just miss my fatty-fat-fat.

To prevent this from turning into another memorial post for my dead dog, I'll turn the conversation in a different direction.  Winter break is now coming to an end.  I have seen all my friends and family, tried picking up where I've left off with everything, and started preparing for this upcoming semester at Illinois.  I'm so excited to get back down to Champaign and see all my friends there.  This past weekend we moved my stuff into the apartment that I'll be living in this semester (but have been paying rent for it since August... I don't wanna talk about it).  Anyway, here's my room!

I'm friggen pumped!

Well, Hawaii and post-Hawaii adjustments are complete.  The rest of my college career and life awaits me out there somewhere.  I doubt I'll be able to study away again and be able to graduate on time, so I'm very thankful that I had this opportunity and took advantage of it.  I would recommend everyone during their college career travel somewhere, anywhere.  Just get out there and explore.  Because you will never get the opportunity again to live in another part of the world for a brief period of time (unless you're a nomad traveling with no purpose in life... but that would be kinda cool too).

Big mahalos first and foremost to my family for being so supportive throughout this whole process and making me feel less homesick than I probably could have been.  Mahalo also to Tawni for everything.  If it wasn't for her, I would not have gone to Hawaii in the first place, wouldn't have even thought about it.  She played the most essential role in me even going.  Also to Kelsey and Janelle, and everyone else I met and became friends with during those four magical months.  Without my roommates, especially Kelsey, my time in Hawaii wouldn't have been half as exciting as it turned out to be.  All my great memories involved Kels, and I can't thank you enough for that, Babygirl.  She made every experience enjoyable, and I am so grateful to have found a friend like her.  She was a crucial part of my happiness on the island.  We'll all stay in touch with Skype and roadtrips, which I couldn't be more excited about!  Room 603 will never be forgotten.

With that, my semester in Hawaii and blog are officially pau.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Last Weekend in Hawaii

My last weekend in Hawaii.  Do I still even remember it?

Of course I do.

Friday was sad when Janelle left us.  Her room was all packed up and she said goodbye to us and then left us to fend for ourselves.  Right now she's probably getting ready to hop on a plane and go back to UH to start spring semester... lucky bitch.

Just kidding.  Love you Janelia!

Friday night was full of shenanigans.  Finals were done and it was the beginning of the end for my time in Hawaii.  Enough said.

Saturday - TATTOOOOOOOO.  I was really really pumped about this.  I had wanted a sea turtle with a hibiscus flower in the shell for an eternity or so.  Even before I even thought about spending a semester in Hawaii.  Don't ask questions, I really don't know why it got stuck in my head.

After it hit me in the summer that I was really going, I looked up different tattoo shops to find credible artists and all that jazzy jazz.  I may have been a little too excited.  The tattoo symbolized me taking risks and being spontaneous, just living life because it's so short, and taking advantage of opportunities.  Plus, the tribal turtle and hibiscus flower are essentially symbols of Hawaii, which made it even more perfect.

As the semester went by and I thought more about it, my tattoo had another meaning.  Sea turtles lay their eggs on the same beach where they hatched  themselves.  No matter where they travel to, they always come back for their family.  It's their instinct.  And that's so amazing.  For me, this tattoo is a reminder to always come home, always come back to my family, no matter where life takes me.

I had made the appointment in like October, and made sure to get it on one of my last days on the island because I wouldn't be able to swim in the ocean or a pool or lay out on the beach and tan.

Sidestory.  On the bus ride to my appointment, a woman with a very large dog got on and sat right by us.

He was a mastiff/great dane mix.  HUGE dog.  Woof.

I had spoken with my artist, Alex, a week beforehand to explain what I wanted.  So Saturday when I showed up, he already had an idea on paper for me.  I didn't like his original drawing, so I changed a bunch of things and made the poor guy redo it.  But hey, it needed to be done how I wanted.

Waiting for the final sketch!

As Kelsey and Jimmy, another friend who wanted to come with, waited alongside me for the final sketch, we saw a couple about in their late 20's who were also getting tattoos.  I overheard the woman explaining what she wanted, and she had the same idea as me, a turtle with a hibiscus flower in the shell on the back of her right hip.  Same.  Exact.  Tat.

I wasn't really surprised though, because girls get this tattoo all the time.  It didn't really bother me.

Alex called me back to get started.  We figured out where the stencil should go and got straight to business.  He wore a headlamp!  Here:
He was supercool.

The whole thing didn't take very long.  I'd say it was like a half hour.  The part that hurt the worst was the outline, but it was bearable.

In the middle of my tattoo, the young couple from before came in to start their tattoos.  I then told the woman that we were getting the same thing.  They were really nice and we all started talking.  Turns out they had ran the marathon too!  That was their whole reasoning behind their tattoos.  The man was actually getting the marathon warrior man whatever from the logo, which was pretty cool.  It was both of their  first tattoos, and they were really sweet.  We then realized that both of us had gone to the north shore on the same day to watch Pipemasters.

Same tattoo, marathon, Pipemasters.  How crazy of a coincidence was this??

Anyway, here's the final product of my day:

Love it!

Healing it over these past few weeks has been a bit of a challenge because I turned out to be allergic to the moisturizer I used on it, which resulted in tiny red bumps everywhere around the tattoo.  It looked hideously disgusting.  I was so concerned I even thought about going to the doctor to get it checked out.  But it's healing now and I'm still in love.

Saturday afternoon-ish, Serious Rob wanted to take me out on his motorcycle around the island.  I happily complied.  It was so breathtaking getting one last glance of the windward (east) coast on the back of a motorcycle, during sunset no less.  As we were on one of the major roads, I realized that I had traveled that road by car, by foot (marathon) and now by motorcycle, which was cool to me.  After a few hours it started to get dark and chilly so we made our way back home.

Kelsey and I decided we wanted to check out this huge Christmas display that was set up in downtown Honolulu.  We also wanted to make a video of us dancing around idiotically, so naturally we went to Goodwill and bought flamboyantly annoying Hawaiian shirts to wear.

A combination of pouring rain and getting lost trying to find the display led us straight to Jack in the Box, which I had never been before.  So our shitty night ended with fast food.  It was absolutely delicious.  I don't know how I had never encountered this tasty establishment before that moment.  It also may have been due to the fact that I had almost eaten zero fast food in the last four months, and I forgot how good it was.  So bad... but so good.

Nope.  Not kidding.

Sunday morning Kelsey and I finally made it to the Christmas display and filmed our shenanigans just how we wanted.  Then we met up with Tawni and whoever else was left on the island and beached it all day.  I even got some sand volleyball in, which made me oh-so-happy.  I made sure to cover my tat, though.   We watched the sunset and I went shopping for Christmas gifts for everyone and it was a successful day.

Monday morning Kelsey, Jimmy, and I ate at Eggs N Things, a yummy little place that we had been wanting to eat at for a while.  Then we beached it up some more.  Spent my final moments at Fort DeRussy beach and made my peace with the ocean.  Then I had to go home and finish packing and leave for the airport.

I had to say goodbye to Kelsey earlier than I thought, because she had to go pick up her brother at the airport.  We cried and hugged and promised to Skype (which we did!) and said our goodbyes.  Which really aren't goodbyes, because I plan on visiting her at Haverford sometime during this next semester!

I managed to fit all my shit in my suitcases without having to use the vacuum bags I needed when I flew here.  Even better news?  I didn't have to spend $90 for an overweight suitcase, also unlike when I got there in August.  Boo-ya!

Sitting in the terminal waiting to board the flight was surreal.  I didn't want to go.  But I knew I had to.  And I was excited to see my family and all my friends back home.  It was the most bittersweet feeling ever.

Tawni and I boarded, popped a Nyquil, took off into the air, and dozed off as we made our way back to the mainland.


Friday, December 23, 2011

School's Out

It's so weird typing this from home, but blogging about my semester in Hawaii is not yet complete.  A couple more blog posts will top it off.

So finals week came and went quickly, as did every other week on this island.  I don't know what it is about time here and it absolutely flying,  but it sure happened.

I had my microbiology lab final the week before finals week (and the marathon).  I calculated my grade before I started studying, figured I was fine, and half-assed preparing for the exam.  It was fine, I felt like I maintained an A, was relieved after it was over, and started thinking about my other exams.

The Monday after the marathon at 7:30 in the morning (ouch... literally) I had my Hawaiian studies final presentation, which was absolute cake, since that class may have actually been kindergarten.

I opted to take my microbiology lecture exam early, so my finals schedule was then
Wednesday - microbiology
Thursday - genetics
Friday - animal sciences

Tuesday I started reading the scientific article I needed to know for my genetics final since it was going to be ridiculously impossible, but Kelsey and my mother convinced me to read at the beach.  And so I did.  And it felt good.

The rest of Tuesday after the beach I studied for microbiology.  I calculated my grade in that class too, and the same thing happened there as my microbiology lab, so I felt fine.  The only part that had me worried was the prof screwed up the exams and the people with my form had an entire page missing, so we had 10 questions less than everyone else, all questions were old questions taken straight from our previous tests.  So he said he was going to weigh our tests differently, and I thought it was going to be an unfair advantage.  But again, I wasn't too worried about it.

Thursday's genetics final absolutely sucked.  It was 2 hours of straight essay writing over technical information from the paper we had to read.  Some of us took longer, and I think I was the very last one to leave (which isn't saying much because there were only like 22 kids in the class that could have had 40).  It took me two and a half hours to do this damn thing.  Afterwards I just felt relieved that it was over.  I didn't want to think about the grade I was going to get in that class.

Friday's animal sciences final was just like microbiology.  Calculated grade, figured I was fine, yada yada yada.

Final results you ask?

Microbiology lab - A
Hawaiian studies - A+
Microbiology lecture - A
Animal Sciences - A
Genetics - A-


That was the best news ever!  I was in the best mood the night I checked my grades, and my parents were really proud of me.  The glory from that class is still with me.

Hey, guess what?  I spent a semester in Hawaii, did some of the coolest things I've ever done in my life, had an absolute blast, and still managed to get straight A's.

Am I a star or what??


Random Tidbits/What I've Learned

I started making this list when I got to the island, and this is what I've come up with.  Enjoy!

The number one rule on the island is to bring an umbrella with you no matter where you go.  It could be perfectly sunny outside and then randomly start raining or misting.  It rains almost every day in the mountains (where campus is), but a light sprinkle and for like 20 minutes if I'm exaggerating.  It's not too bad.  On really hot days, I don't even mind it.

Rule number 2: Wear a swimsuit wherever you go.  You never know if you'll end up on the beach, and chances are good that you will.  It never hurts to be prepared.

Grass here is not grass.  It's mutant.  It feels like the grass on turf fields and therefore not real.  But it is real.... I don't understand.

I have more problems with sand in my bed than bugs.  Although cockroaches are not my favorite insect to find in my apartment.  Tiny lizards aren't ideal, either.  Technically I guess they're geckos.

If you don't get to class by skateboard/longboard or moped, you're not part of the norm.  Mopeds are actually cool and useful to have here.  Crazy, right?!

There are wild chickens and roosters that run amok around campus and the island.  Mongooses/mongeese (I have no idea of the plural word for them.  Also, is a bunch of mongooses/mongeese called a gaggle?  Something to think about.)  There is also a huge problem with feral cats, too.

A traditional Hawaiian meal consists of 3 things: meat (usually pork or chicken), rice, and mac salad.  Mac salad just means macaroni salad which I didn't know for a really long time, and then I looked like an idiot for not knowing what mac salad was.

Hawaii does not observe Daylight Savings Time.  How neat.

In the Hawaiian language, no two consonants are ever right next to each other.  There is always a vowel in between every consonant.

The reason the water is so clear and blue here is because there are no rivers washing out sediment and other things that would make the water all icky.

Within the entire four months of my stay here, I did not once encounter a drinking fountain that spewed Hawaiian punch.  I'm not sure if people actually think this myth/legend is true (or if this is even a plausible thought), but to the dismay of many enthusiast punch-drinkers, this is a fable.

There are no bilboards anywhere on the island.  They were banned because people wanted to be able to admire the beauty of the island, not stare at ads everywhere they drove.

That's the island life for you.


What I'm Not Going to Miss

So I wanted to write a post about everything I was going to miss here in Hawaii, but I figured that would take 10 and 2/3 hours and be 2354 pages long so I thought it'd be easier to make a list of things I'm not going to miss here on the island.

Don't take it as me being a negative Nancy and think that I hated Hawaii, because the exact opposite is true.  I realize this much more clearly now that I'm two hours away from leaving this paradise.

The first thing I hated: pigeons.  Damn pigeons were everywhere!  As well as signs saying "Don't feed the birds", but you knew those spazzy high schoolers outside the Burger king were going to dump their fries on the sidewalk anyway.  And then the birds would flock.  And shit on your head.  And get just a little too close for comfort.  There were also a bunch of stumpy pigeons with deformed feet.  What's that about?  And their beedy little eyes.  So disgusting.  So much disgustion.

Second thing I hated: lack of bathrooms everywhere.  Since Honolulu is such a touristy place and also has a lot of the homeless, businesses either weren't available to the public or weren't there at all.  Those poor employees at Taco Bell probably have to run who knows how far just to take a pee.  That's inconvenient.  I stress out over not knowing my restroom options.  I am also a freak (but you already knew that).

Third thing I hated: having to shave all the damn time.  At least during the winter back home in Illinois I can go a couple extra days with the 24/7 pants-wearing buffer.  But here in Hawaii it's always shorts and swimsuits, which have no give for hairy legs.  I had to always be on top of my game.  Not to mention the number of disposable razors I went through.  It was almost a nightmare and turned into such a chore.  Am I just that lazy?

These next two had nothing to do with the island itself, but the university here.

Four: genetics class.  I can't even begin to describe my hatrid of this class.  Plus I could go on and on for a thousand paragraphs of rage.

"Katie, no you could not.  That's way too many paragraphs.  That is an exaggeration.  I don't like a girl that exaggerates."

Reference?  Anyone?  Okay so maybe not a thousand paragraphs, but this class was ridiculous.  No textbook, no powerpoint slides.  Just a very Chinese professor who had us read scientific articles and attempt to extract their information to add to our wealth of knowledge.  Also, it's a 4-hour class, but only meets 2x a week, and there's no lab.  Also also, there were only 100 points total we could earn in the class.  I swear if I make it out of here with a B I'm going to cry with joy and then perhaps do something very dangerous and life-threatening, just to make sure I'm still alive.  Sound good?

Five: the cafeteria.  My excitement for being done with dorm food is through the roof.  Not that the food was bad; just the opposite.  The food was absolutely delicious, which made it even more frightening.  Endless amounts of food do not go over well with me.  The staple here in Hawaii is rice.  A carb.  A nice, big, fat, carb.  I want to throw up just thinking about the slices of pizza and bowls of cereal I consumed over the course of the semester.  Ew, ew, ew.  Hopefully marathon training balanced out the eating of the food (which it probably didn't).  But this brings me to my next point...

Six: marathon training.  So I used to like running.  I would go out with my dog all the time and run like 2 miles and come back and feel so accomplished.  After training for this marathon (specifically between Thanksgiving and the marathon itself) I realized I did not like running.  Or more, the thought of getting ready to go spend three hours running was not a fun idea whatsoever.  The aftermath of this whole thing is that now, 2 miles will never again be enough to a decent workout for me.  If I don't spend at least 2 and a half or 3 hours running I will not be satisfied.  And that's not okay.

I think I'm going to end this post with my favorite number, good-ole 7.  Although the content is not as happy and lucky.
The seventh thing that I am not going to miss in Hawaii, is the feeling I experienced while my dog was sick and eventually passed.  I'm not going to drag on about how sad and depressing it was, because you already know about it,  but it still was the worst feeling knowing I was so far away and couldn't do anything about it, much less say goodbye to my best friend.

On that awful note, I will be boarding a plane in a few hours to come back home!  I'll still post another blog post or two after I land.  But my time in Hawaii is pau.  It's sad, but I can't wait to see everyone back home!


UPDATE!  Don't know how I forgot to mention a few little gems.

Cockroaches were absolutely disgusting while I was in Hawaii, and shall not be missed back home.  Also, back to the topic of school-related issues, the maintenence men/people at UH were way more concerned with the outer appearance of the campus as opposed to things that actually need work done, like toilets that had been out of order since September and nobody got around to it.  I get that it's a beautiful campus and all,  but come on people, get your priorities together.  Don't spend your time raking a few stray leaves on the ground.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Honolulu Marathon Part 2

First let me tell you a little about the run.  The marathon started in the middle of town on Ala Moana boulevard (which you don't even know where that is but it's fine).  We ran through town for the first seven or so miles was through downtown.  The eighth and ninth miles took us around Diamond Head Crater (the only hilly part, thank the Lord).  Then we were basically on a long stretch of road that ended with a loop at mile 17 and then we made our way back the same long stretch, back down Diamond Head, and finished at Kapiolani Park (but you don't know where that is either).

If you really want to know the exact route, click here.

Right after the gun went off, a display of fireworks was set off.  Mind you this marathon started at five in the morning to avoid the heat of the day.  Those fireworks were spectacular and it just set the entire mood for the whole run.  It was as if I had never seen fireworks go off before in my life, and got me so excited for the run!

The fireworks went off for about the first half mile.  During that time, people were taking pictures of them with their phones (I was surprised people even ran with that kind of stuff. I was so naked compared to these people carrying phones, credit cards, water bottles, and Gu).

Kelsey took off like a bullet and started weaving in and out of people like it was her job.  I stayed back to try to gauge my pace.  It was really hard trying to figure out how fast I should go with a sea of people around me.  I was constantly comparing my pace with others, judging them to determine if I should run faster than them.  Old, fat people?  Go faster.  Anyone skinny or moderately in shape?  Try to lag a little bit.  Intense marathon runners?  Well those people weren't even in sight so I didn't have a problem with them.

It was strange how even before we came up to the first mile marker, people were already walking.  You people paid $150 to do this marathon, why not break a sweat?  No?  Okay, I'll pass by you and have an actual victory at the finish line.

I remember distinctly passing the one kilometer marker.  I was curious for a bit, then realized the people around me were all Japanese and use the metric system.  Silly me and my American ways.  However, I did not know that I should have probably learned how many kilometers were in 26.2 miles, as I found that there were more signs that were in kilometers than miles.  By the time I was at 35 kilometers I was thinking Jesus Christ how much more do I need to run?!?! And then five minutes later I'd pass the mileage sign, and it would make me very sad that I still had a lot farther to run than I thought.

Those first 8 or 9 miles were absolutely spectacular.  The atmosphere was incredible, it was great that there were some people already lined up along the route at 5am to cheer us on.  When I came upon the first water station, I felt like the coolest person ever (when I'm really such a dork).  It was tough trying to drink water while running and not choking on it, but I made it work.  Hey, I said I was running this entire marathon, there was no time for stopping for water breaks.  Shenanigans.  I felt the coolest when I got to crunch up my cup and throw it to the side of the street.  The only time I've ever not felt bad for littering, 'cuz I knew it was going to get picked up.

We passed Kapiolani Park (where we were going to finish) at mile 6, and I couldn't help but think we will meet again.  I will be back.  I really truly am such a goof.

It was a little annoying those first miles when a lot of people were passing me, yet I wasn't really passing anyone at all.  Of course, I hadn't trained much at all for this thing, and people have probably been running for six months preparing, but the competitive person inside me was just pissed off that I wasn't passing anyone, and all these other people were just passing the shit out of me.

Right around mile 9, I ran into Kelsey, which was so bizarre, because running in a huge mess of people I thought I'd never see her again.  We both freaked out and screamed out of pure surprise and excitement to see each other.  We may have also shouted out a few Chee-Hoo's as well.  But our paces were too off to stay and chat much, so I continued on.

The next few miles were a little difficult.  I just kept thinking how I wasn't even halfway done yet which made me a little distraught.  But actually running the  distance wasn't bad.  I had run 13 miles multiple times (well like twice) so physically I was perfectly fine, it was just mentally challenging.  But when I commit to a challenge that's important to me, I will stick to it or die trying.  So I kept on trekking.

A mile or two before I got up to the halfway point, a pack of 4 Kenyans were already passing me going the opposite direction.  There was nobody even remotely close behind them.  That was both amazing but also pissed me off because I knew that they were almost done, as were people that were eventually going to be passing by going the other way.  I couldn't wait to finish the loop and start heading back.

After completing the 13.1 miles, I felt a lot better.  Nothing really exciting happened between then and mile 17 when I started the return trip, besides a large poo building up.  It had been there since about mile 5 or so, and I was determined to finish this race without stopping, even to poo.  I went almost fifteen miles with a full colon, but right before mile 20, I had no choice but to stop or it would've ended badly with me having to throw my pants out.

You have no idea how fast you're able to run when you're playing beat the clock.  I literally picked up my pace so much I was passing people left and right.  By the time I saw the porta-potties I was in a full-out sprint like it was the finish line.  It was a successful poo, didn't take too much time waiting in line, and I got right back in my groove.  I'm actually surprised I was able to get back to my pace easily since I had heard that once you stop it's hard to start back up again.  But I was on a mission.

I had bought a Gu pack, which is an energy gel of sorts that you eat when you do really long, physically demanding, dumb stupid things like run a marathon.  It seemed like a good idea to eat it at mile 20, since that's when everyone says you hit the "wall" where you want to stop and die.  The Gu actually helped, and I felt a lot more energetic.  But that lasted about 2 miles, all the while my stomach trying to argue with me about taking it.  The flavor - mint chocolate.  It was either that, citrus, or "original" flavor (and I didn't want to find out what original gel Gu tasted like).

Those last 4.2 miles dragged on forever.  Seriously.  I felt like I had been running for like 15 minutes and had to have gone at least a mile, but the signs never appeared.  I'm convinced those last miles were actually at least 10 miles, that's how much it sucked.  Also, those damn kilometer signs didn't help when I was trying to  gauge how much further I needed to go.

Once I got back to Diamond head, the mileage signs were starting to have clocks on them telling us how much time had passed by.  I thought maybe I could make it under 4 hours and 30 minutes.  The original time I had in mind before training was 4 hours, because I heard it was really impressive, and hey, I wanted to be impressive.  But given the time I had to train and the amount I actually trained, there was no way in hell that was happening.  Kelsey said she'd be excited if she was under 5 hours, but I thought that was too easy of a feat, so I set my bar at 4:30.

I knew I was cutting it close to my time, so I knew I had to pick up my pace.  If I had finished with a time of 4:31 or even 4:30:01 I would have been incredibly mad at myself.  I also would have blamed the poo stop for my finishing time, which would not have gone over well with me at all.  So down the Diamond Head hill I picked it up my pace hardcore, without realizing I still had a mile and a half to go.  But hell, that was the home stretch for this long-ass run, so I thought I could handle it.  Plus it was a hill, so I took advantage of it and flew by people towards the finish line.

Finally, I had come into sight of the huge Finish banner and final clock.  It was a long straight stretch, absolutely lined with people cheering and an announcer and all kinds of exciting stuff.  But I was too tired from sprinting down the hill (and the accumulation of just running 26 miles in general) to really look around and enjoy it.  I was excited, of course, but I was just more determined to finish this race in my time goal.  When I thought I could see the time clock, I thought it read 4:31:something and I was absolutely pissed.  I even shouted out "Dammit!".  But I never stopped running.  When I got closer, I saw it was actually 4:28:something, which made me so so so so happy I cannot even explain.

I cruised into the finish line with my hands in the air and a huge smile on my face.  I had just run 26.2 miles without walking, and that was a huge accomplishment itself.

Final time - 4:27:08

My time started when my Championchip crossed the starting line, so I was actually under what I thought it was.  I was officially under 4:30, and I was absolutely ecstatic.  I wanted to go hug a random stranger.

Some of our friends were at the finish line waiting for us, and I was really happy to see them!  I was really glad that they wanted to come out and see us finish this marathon.  It was great.

I thought about sitting down to stretch, but as I began to move to sit, my body said "NO!" and that was that.  I figured I'd be less sore if I stayed up and moving around anyway.  So I got some food at the finisher's table and went to watch Kelsey finish.

Kels came in right after 5:15, so she didn't reach her secondary goal of time, but she ran the whole thing, which was her first and most important goal, and I was so proud of her!!  It was great to have somebody to go through something like this with, and she helped me so much.

We even got lei's when we finished!

We thanked everyone for coming out to watch us, and then went to go get our free massages that were absolutely deserved.

Throughout this whole run, I saw some really crazy and funny things.  People were wearing costumes.  On separate occasions, I saw old Japanese men, one in a Minnie-Mouse costume, and one dressed as Wonder Woman.  People also wore wigs and santa hats and other crazy outfits.  I even saw a man carrying a full-sized American flag on a pole.  Like WTF?!  I also saw some pretty funny signs, like "You're going the wrong way" and "Because 26.3 miles would be crazy".  There were also some really encouraging signs that were adorable.  But it was the funny people and funny signs that made this marathon a lot more enjoyable.

People asked me if I was going to come back next year for the run.  And that answer would be a no.  Because flying to Hawaii just to run a marathon is ridiculously expensive, plus this time of the year is when finals are, and I don't have time to be horsing around running marathons.  But if I'm going to run another marathon ever, I'm not sure about that answer.  It would be great to run a marathon under 4 hours, but I was so proud of this accomplishment, I may just be retired for good.  I don't really understand how running marathons can become addictive like people say they can.

But overall, running this marathon was one of the best  decisions I've ever made.  It's just such a big accomplishment for me, something I can be proud of for the rest of my life, and that is just an absolutely incredible feeling.

And then I got a Happy Meal from McDonald's to top it all off.