Meredith Kuba
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Growing up, my parents used to tell me I was a “kotonk,” because I was born in New York City. My brother and I were both born in Manhattan because my dad was working there at the time. We all moved back to Hawai‘i when I was 6 months old, so I’ve essentially lived here all my life. My first photos of my mom cradling me in her arms as a newborn were taken at Mount Sinai Hospital, under the blue canopy of the hospital entrance that fronts snowy Central Park. This past November, 38 years later, I ran past that exact same spot on my way to the finish line of the New York City Marathon.

Photo of Duane Tamashiro and Meredith Kuba at the New York City Marathon
Duane Tamashiro and Meredith Kuba show off their New York City Marathon race numbers at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. (Photos courtesy Meredith Kuba)

It took me over a year to get to that race. The NYC Marathon is the world’s largest. Most of the 50,000 runners gain entry through a lottery or by raising money for charities. Another way of qualifying is by running a recognized marathon or half-marathon under a specified time. Historically, the Boston Marathon is the race that many avid runners include on their bucket list because the only way one can qualify to run it is by completing a recognized marathon under a certain time.

Qualifying for the NYC Marathon is much more difficult because the required time is 20 minutes faster than the Boston Marathon. Realistically, I knew that running a marathon under 3 hours and 15 minutes was out of reach for me, but qualifying for the NYC with a half-marathon time of under 1 hour and 34 minutes was a possibility. So, I started a regimented training plan in April 2015, just a month after I qualified for the 2016 Boston Marathon by completing the Big Island International Marathon in Hilo. Although I was tired from the four months of training I had put in for that race, I was riding a wave of good running and confidence, so I pushed myself harder.

In August 2015, I ran a half-marathon in Vancouver in 1 hour, 32 minutes, which qualified me for the 2016 New York City Marathon by two minutes!

Photo of Meredith's boyfriend, Franz Juola, posing with Meredith at the finish line
Meredith’s boyfriend Franz Juola traveled to New York to cheer on Meredith and their running buddy, Duane Tamashiro. He is pictured here with Meredith following her finish.

My entire 2016 year was filled with training and running. In April, I ran my first Boston Marathon, which was an incredibly memorable experience, although a disappointing finish time motivated my seeking redemption at the NYC Marathon. There were many early bedtimes and predawn alarms during the 18 weeks of training, which started in July. I ran six days a week and, except for a couple weeks when I was sidelined with a foot injury, did not miss a day of training.

After logging over 700 miles of training, I was ready for New York! My boyfriend Frans Juola and I arrived the Friday before the Sunday marathon and met up with my training buddy and dentist, Duane Tamashiro. Like me, Duane was running his first NYC Marathon, and Frans was there to support both of us. After checking into our Airbnb apartment, which was just 10 minutes from Times Square, we walked over to the expo at the Jacob Javits Convention Center to pick up our race numbers. We took lots of pictures with our numbers and basked in the glory of having qualified after all the months of hard training we had put in to get there, and because we didn’t know when we would run it again. The expo was packed with tons of vendors selling all kinds of running gear, nutrition products and souvenirs. As we made our way through the aisles, it was great to see the diversity of participants who had come from over 130 countries.

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Photo of Meredith and her boyfriend, Franz, at the observation deck of the Empire State Building
With the race behind her, Meredith, Franz and Duane (not pictured) took in the sights of New York City, including the Statue of Liberty . . . and the city from the observation deck of the Empire State Building.
Photo of Meredith and her boyfriend, Franz, posing in front of the Statue of Liberty
Photo of Meredith and her boyfriend, Franz, posing in front of the Statue of Liberty


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