Friday, December 30, 2016

Hawaii running!

I am guessing that for many people, the image of a December vacation in Hawaii consists of lounging by the pool or on the beach. Or going to a luau. I did go to a luau on our recent winter break trip there, but you can guess what I did a lot of ... that's right, running!

We spent one night on the Big Island to go check out Volcanoes National Park. This is what one of the vents looked like at night:

Glowing steam from a volcano!

The photo doesn't come anywhere close to doing it justice due to the limitations of my smartphone camera and night-time lighting conditions. Unfortunately, as cool as it would have been to have gone running in the national park, it was way too dark at night to do so safely, and the next morning was pretty busy with hiking short trails.

Later that day, we caught a flight to Maui, where we spent several more nights. Having not gone running for the past two days, I was itching to get in some miles after we checked in, but I hadn't brought a headlamp, and the path along the beach was unlit. Fortunately, the fitness center was open 24/7, so I brought my Kindle Fire and watched another episode of "The Last Ship" (season 2) while I ran on the treadmill.

The next morning was Friday. I got up and announced to my wife that I was going running. "Didn't you run last night?" she asked.

"That was last night," I said. "This is today!"

That's a real rainbow!

We were stay north of Ka'anapali in a new development that has tried to claim the Ka'anapali name as well, but as I understand it, true Ka'anapali ends at the Sheraton Maui and the black rock. Still, it was possible to run entirely on a footpath from our development to southern tip of Ka'anapali, where the luscious Hyatt Regency sits. That was the route that I ran, except that I started off heading north.It worked out to be an 8 mile round trip. The stretch from the Sheraton to the Hyatt was gorgeous but crowded, so even though I was running easy, it had brief moments where I had to speed up to take advantage of a gap in the crowd.

Yes, the beach is nice, but I stayed on the path

I am nothing if not a creature of habit, and the next day called for getting in some faster running. Given the relative heat - sure, it was just in the high 70s in the morning, but after the Pacific Northwest fall, I was acclimated to running in 40-50 degree weather - I had initially planned on doing my tempo run on the treadmill.

But hey, I was in Hawaii! I could use the treadmill anywhere. So I charged out toward the Hyatt, going at something slower than my usual tempo pace in deference to the heat, humidity, and crowd. I took a slightly longer route out, and a shorter one coming back, totally 6 miles in all.

I took the next day off. I had intended to go to the gym and lift weights, but instead I just goofed off. I was on vacation, after all.

The day after my rest day was the scheduled luau, so I went out for a long run in the morning. It was slightly misty, as it had been in the mornings, but still warm. I decide to take a different route and head north, away from Ka'anapali. Once you get away from the resort area, the neighborhood looks more sedate. There were still lots of smaller condos and apartment complexes on the beach side of the road, but they looked like they could've been in any beach town. Well, any beach town with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70s in late December....

The peacefulness of the surroundings was in stark contrast to Black Hawk Down, which I was listening to. I'd read the book twice before, but it's one of those works where the audiobook creates a fully immersive experience. I was about two-thirds of the way through at the beginning of the trip, so I was heavily into the carnage and brutal violence. I've found that, for some reason, when I'm running, I feel the emotional impact of TV scenes more strongly than usual, and that was definitely the case with this book - the sequence where the medic is trying to save Corporal Jamie Smith by digging into his leg to try to grab the end of the severed femoral artery to pinch it off was harrowing.

The view from the luau

That ended up being my long run of the trip, my usual 10 miles (10.5, to be precise). I had some thoughts of continuing on past where we were staying, but I didn't want to be too selfish about taking too much "alone time." As it turned out, my dad had gone out running later than I did, and I could've gone another 2-3 miles without disrupting things. Over the rest of the day, I had occasional regrets about not having gone the extra distance.

The luau at the Hyatt was okay - great food, decent performance. During the downtime between the eating time and show time, when it was already dark, I looked up and was surprised at how clearly I could see Venus. Despite the large number of resorts on the island, Maui is kept quite dark at night - probably because of the big telescopes atop Mount Haleakala.

That bright dot in the middle is Venus

The day after the luau was our last full day in Hawaii. I really had been meaning to get to the gym to lift some weights, but other than that first night, I never did make it back. I knew my wife wanted to tour the beachwalk in Ka'anapali while hunting Pokemon Go stops with my sons, but I figured I wouldn't get sick of the locale, so I made my last run of the trip back to the Hyatt. As a concession to variety, I went out along the road instead of the beachwalk, though I returned the usual way.

I used to feel a degree on melancholy on the last full day of vacation in a resort location, but that feeling has lessened in recent years to the point of being more or less non-existent now. Some of it is due to the fact that with winter break, I have exam grading hanging over my head, and I'm rarely in a position to grade before leaving for vacation. And I'm one of those people who can't fully enjoy themselves when there's work left to be done.

Some of it is also that I've developed a strong interest - obsession, even - in board games,* and I can't bring more than a fraction of my small but growing collection on a trip. Indeed, we spent much of our evenings playing Lords of Waterdeep.

* I could even rename this blog TV, Treadmills, and Tabletops!

Without that melancholia, I ran free and relaxed on that last day. Plus, I reached the end of the story in Black Hawk Down and was into the author's post-mortem. After I got back, my wife and kids were hunting local Pokemons. I cleaned up, and then we all went out to a nice lunch on the beach.

And that is the summary of my running in Hawaii...

The view from Ka'anapali, in front of the Hyatt - Lanai is the island to the left, and Molokai is to the right

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