Follow the Penguins to reach a goal
DO you ever think about running the Honolulu Marathon? No, of course not. Me, neither. This is because we are not insane.
But many people do think about it. Normal, everyday non-athlete people. In fact, many of them -- thousands -- actually enter the marathon, and run it, and make it all the way through to the finish line. Regular, non-athlete people. This tells us something about ourselves as human beings: It tells us there are a lot of crazy people out there.
But also, that we can do anything, in sports and in life, if we put our minds to the task.
This is what the Orange Hat Penguins running club -- five everyday non-athlete ladies who somehow found it within themselves to run their first marathons last December -- found out. They can do it. Anyone can do it. They did it.
"When our family and friends found out that we were training for the Honolulu Marathon they pretty much all had the same look of disbelief," head Penguin Stephanie Mew said.
Of course. That's how any non-crazy person would look.
But they did it. How? Well, there is a great Honolulu Marathon training clinic. And there are hundreds of running books out there. But mostly, it was their Penguin secrets to "reaching an incredibly, ridiculously insane goal."
» Be naive and surround yourself with others just as naive as you.
(Incidentally, Jerry Glanville says this is the essence of coaching.)
"Last year I read an article in the paper one week before my 41st birthday about a woman, a couch potato, who had never done any exercise or athletic activity in her life training to run a marathon," Mew said. " 'Oh! I could do that.' "
Well, maybe. But if she could get her sister and a few friends to join her, they could definitely do it together.
» In training, tricking your buddies is good for them.
"The first week of training we could barely jog for 10 seconds. I had the stopwatch and we were going to run for 15 seconds. But secretly I set it for 20, and didn't tell them," Mew said.
"It was good for us."
» Denial works.
"When family and friends found out that our Penguin Iris was running the marathon and told her that it was 26.2 miles," Mew said, "she said, 'Oh, no. That's the OTHER Honolulu Marathon.' "
(Have you noticed a pattern here?)
» Make sure you can be seen.
They got these snazzy orange hats on sale, so the Penguins wouldn't get lost in the crowd.
"Or in case we needed to be picked up by the ambulance," Mew said.
» Don't be too focused.
It was time. Training was going great. Time to take that next step, going to one of those "in" sporting-goods stores for all the right marathon equipment. "And more importantly," Mew said, "the right underwear." (Hey, it's 26.2 miles.)
They were in the moment. "We felt like athletes. We smelled like athletes," Mew said. "We just finished a run."
She was asking all the right marathon-underwear questions about "fit" and "breatheability."
"But strangely the sales girl kept referring to her auntie, and what her auntie would wear," Mew said.
It was minutes later that she finally looked up and realized she was so "in the zone" she'd been asking all these questions of ... a guy.
"But he was still very helpful," she said. "And he must talk to his auntie a lot."
» Make final preparations.
"We got a massage, we got the best hotel, we had enough energy food for four marathons," Mew said. "We had dinner reservations, which we pondered over for about three weeks about where we were going to eat (after the race).
"We walked over to Kapiolani Park, did more shopping at the marathon tent, and most important of all, took pictures of ourselves crossing the finish line. Just in case the unthinkable happened."
» In the end, you're in it alone. (But not really.)
"The whole reason for the orange hats was so we find one another in a sea of 30,000," Mew said. "But to our shock it was the color of the marathon. Their souvenir hats were orange, too." Everyone had orange hats. They were pushed apart, separated, lost. So much for running as a team.
"I saw some people wearing some really funky outfits, and I thought, 'No way that man in the Mickey Mouse outfit is going to pass me,' " Mew said. "Well, he did."
And so did the guy with the two metal legs. And the 7-year-old kid. And the old lady.
But they were all in it together, having a great time.
» The back of the pack does have its perks.
In the Honolulu Marathon now you can order photos and a DVD of yourself running the race.
"We got the greatest clearest most awesome shots and footage of ourselves. Nobody was blocking us, not a head, not a shoulder. You could clearly see that it was us," Mew said. "And of course it was because 26,000 people had gone by."
Sure. But who had the great photo?
» Find inspiration in others.
Where did you think their club name came from? "We saw the movie 'March of the Penguins,' " Mew said. "And we compared ourselves to them. We looked just like them, waddling along. And we told ourselves if they could walk for three months in the freezing cold we could keep going for 6 hours in the sun."
If you think you can't undertake something like this, look around.
"If he can do it, so can I. If she can run 13 marathons I can do one. I think that's what makes our Orange Hat Penguins so appealing to others."
If they can do this, so can any of us.
Well, you know. The crazy ones.