The first time I ever crossed the finish line to a marathon was in 2012, I was fresh to the island of Oahu and signed up for the infamous Honolulu Marathon two days before the big race.
Everyone thought I was small kine crazy for taking on a daunting challenge with zero training, but no one really knew me (and if we are being honest here, at the time I didn’t even know myself).
However, I did know that running was the one thing in my life that remained consistent throughout the year. So by the time December rolled around I figured what better way to put my passion to the test than by conquering this 26.2 mile challenge in my new home of Hawaii?!
Although it was pretty insane of me to just go for it, I never doubted my ability. I fully trusted in my strength to push though that finish line, and after 5 hours and 50 minutes, I did just that.
Now I don’t know if it was the epic runner’s high or the free malasadas, but I continued running that race every single December until my move back to the mainland. It became my own personal tradition to reflect on the past, manifest a new beginning, and check-in with how much I’ve grown throughout the year.
Every race I finished stronger, hitting a new personal best, until (what I thought would be) my final race in 2015. I remember cruising the course feeling sort of like a hamster on a wheel. I was stuck in this loop, running my heart out but feeling like I was getting no where.
I crossed the finish line at 4:53, which ironically was the SAME EXACT time I finished the year prior.
Deep down in my heart I knew I hit a plateau, not just with my running game, but in my home of Hawaii. It became my comfort zone and if I was going to do any kind of growing, I knew I needed to make a major change in my life.
Fast forward to this year’s race.
Remember that dramatic promise to 2017?!
You know, the one where I shared my heartfelt intention to spend this year doing more of the shit that makes me happy.
Well shortly after I published that epic post, I actually signed up for this years race. Partly to lock in the $30 early-bird Kama’aina rate, but mainly to have just in case I felt the urge to run come December.
I’m not going to lie, part of me dreamed of having this Moana moment with “How Far You’ll Go” blasting from my headphones as I cross the finish line of my beloved race. However, I didn’t really know how this year was going to play out.
With each new day I focused on living my 2017 promise true by running, writing, and soaking up the sunset every chance I got. Then before I knew it, December was here and it was time to decide if I was going back to Hawaii for my annual tradition, or if I was going to stay in California and allow the FOMO to eat me alive, while wondering “what if.”
Thanks to Instagrams new feature, I took a poll asking my supporters what the hell I should do?! And in a unanimous vote, everyone encouraged me to nike up and just do it.
I booked a last minute trip back to the aina and made the choice to celebrate my year the best way I know how, with a 26.2 mile run – OBVIOUSLY.
As I geared up to take the starting line I was scared shitless.
I started to suffocate myself with expectations and questioned if I even had that kind of distance in me anymore. I knew I did some major growing this year, but I wasn’t really sure if I grew stronger or weaker.
Clearly, there was only one way to find out, so I began to put one foot in front of the other and embarked on my long ass journey to the finish line.
While most people lose themselves on a run, I like to think I found myself.
Being back on that course reminded me of my strength, my drive, my ambition, and my passion for running. I remembered the 23-year-old Gennah who set out on this personal quest with no doubts, no fears, and no expectations other than doing my best.
I focused on reconnecting with that carefree spirit by celebrating every mile of the race and next thing you know, it was time to kick it into high gear for that final .2 push to the finish line.
So did I grow stronger since leaving Hawaii and set a new personal best for myself?
Well I’m glad you asked, because you bet your ass I did!
I clocked in at 4:37:01 and that :01 second means everything to me because right before my sprint to the finish line, I stopped for a second to take it all in (with the Moana soundtrack blasting through my headphones, of course).
Letting go of Hawaii has been a serious struggle, but this race has shown me my move to the mainland was one of the best things I could have ever done for myself. Although it didn’t really seem like it, I’ve done some major growing this year. My time off island has challenged me to live my truth, while teaching me quite possibly the greatest lesson in life — Happiness isn’t about where you are, it’s about what you do.
So as you gear up to conquer another year of life, take the time to do more of the shit that makes you happy, push through your plateaus by making a change and simply trust in the process of growth.
See you next December Honolulu.
xx Fins & Kisses,