Personal Best: 30 Honolulu Marathons

Jonathan Lyau running the 2014 Honolulu Marathon PHOTO COURTESY HAWAII SPORT MAG

Jonathan Lyau running the 2014 Honolulu Marathon

After the 2012 Honolulu Marathon, Jonathan Lyau announced he was retiring from running it. So many were surprised when they saw him on the 26.2-mile course Dec. 14, finishing with a time of 2 hours and 57 minutes.

“I did it for personal reasons,” says Lyau, a candy and snack wholesale distributor. “Last year, my aunty (Dora Kop) passed away, and she was the one who introduced me to the Honolulu Marathon clinic in 1979. I was still playing basketball (at the time), but because she started taking me to these clinics once a week, I ended up running cross country and entered my first marathon at 15 years old in 1979. So, I thought I should run one in honor of her.

“Then I looked at my running records and saw I did 29 Honolulu Marathons, so I thought I should do one more and make it (an even) 30.

“(In addition), my wife, Kelli, was entered and we haven’t done a marathon together (in a long time) because of the kids, so in the back of my mind I wished I could do the marathon so I could do it with her. Also, I’m an assistant coach for Iolani’s girls cross-country team, and this year they went on to win the ILH championships. These girls were very inspiring and motivated me to train a little more.”

Lyau also looked at some of his other records, and realized he broke 3 hours in the marathon as a teenager, as well as in his 20s, 30s and 40s. He turned 50 this past June, and thought he might as well shoot for another sub-3 (hours).

“That would be the fifth different decade of my life,” he says. “So, all these factors put together, and I decided in October, OK, I’m going to run.”

In total, Lyau has completed 38 marathons with his personal best at 2 hours, 29 minutes and 25 seconds in Chicago. As for his marathon future: “I don’t know. It’s hard because our lives revolve around the kids’ schedule now,” he explains. “That’s the priority. Right now, running is for fun and to stay in shape, stay healthy and to set an example for my kids (Spencer, 8; and Sierra, who turns 11 on Dec. 27).”

As for his secret to longevity, Lyau says it’s staying healthy and being consistent. “Even if it’s twice a week, at least you’re consistent,” he says. “I’d rather see somebody running twice a week the whole year, than four times a week half a year and nothing the rest of the year.

“It’s easy to make excuses, but think of it more as a habit because once you get out there it feels good.”

These days, Lyau logs 40 to 50 miles a week. He says it helps that he and Kelli are supportive of each other’s running goals. “What’s been working is we tag team, so I’ll run to a location where she’s watching the kids (such as baseball or soccer practice), and when I get there, she runs back home,” he says. “Every week, we’re looking at the calendar and figuring out our days and times to run.”

Lyau also still coaches his free Personal Best running group every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Ala Moana Beach Park, which he has been doing since the late 1990s. The group meets on the diamondhead, mauka side of the tennis courts. For more information, visit Lyau’s Facebook page at Personal Best Training by Jonathan Lyau or