Saturday, July 28, 2007


"If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you have won your race. Your goal can be to come in first, to improve your performance, or just to finish the race - it's up to you."
~Dave Scott

Just finished my Wilderness marathon! Talk about rough. There were more hills in the last 7 miles than I could even begin to describe in a short offering. Instead, I will post my results:

23/185 overall

2/7 in my age group

My first ever placing in a marathon---and what a marathon in which to do that!!

Soon my pictures will be developed (I took a disposable camera with me) and will post those.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Chi Hawaiian Running

"Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts."
~Steve Prefontaine

Sunday I am racing the Wilderness Marathon, not shown in the picture above... thats Jan's Dad running with me on the "Sugar Cane Road" between Honaunau and Kaelakakua. A fun 4 mile jog over rolling hills through a battlefield desert in the lava. Super cool, super hawaiian thing to do if you are a runner.

Lava java on Ali'i drive has wireless internet for the customers!!

Hawaii is an incredible place if you know how to take advantage of what it offers--and understand how its offering it. This sounds weird, I suppose, but the truth is its not "touristy" in the way you might consider Mexican resorts or the Caribbean. You are best off getting a car or having sturdy cycling legs and getting OUT. Just follow a road and inevitably, without exception, you are in for a super adventure/treat. Everywhere here has its own story, even the trees. Every bay has a drama, every wind you feel is thoroughly ensconced in local lore, every time it rains it has a special name. How can I write a feeble blog entry to encompass this sort of depth? Its impossible. In lieu of this I will write my stupid little diary-esque vacation entry for Sunday.

Sorry; this is incredible poor writing.

The morning is like awakening in a cool greenhouse; the mist delivers a bouquet of aromas just as you might expect in a flower shop, but with the softest feeling air anywhere on earth. My earthly experiences are rather limited, however, but this has been corroborated by much more well traveled individuals than I. The air is soft. Its easy to breathe. In Seattle, the air is cool and not soft. Its difficult. And the rain is hard and cold, the air smells not of a flower shop; perhaps the cheap Vietnamese restaurant next door. I like Seattle, but Hawaii is truly a place to live.

Saturday. Dinner with Lee and Wendy Maxwell.

Saturday we went out to dinner with, of all people, a man who worked for my grandfather in the mill he owned 30-40 years ago. This was on Oahu, of all places on earth. It turns out that he and Jan's dad have been friends since high school, where they both went to the same high school I went to. Again, its a small planet. We sat on the Honolulu port eating dinner and drinking good beer and watched the cruise ship load up with passengers and watched tugs of all shapes and sizes motoring in and out with their barges. Some container ships floated in and the tugs maneuvered them deftly into place as if they were toys of a few dollars weighing a few pounds, not the hundreds of thousands of ton 400 foot long million dollar behemoths they indeed truly are.

Sunday: fly to big island

Jan's ankle is doing so well that she was hobbling without the aid of the unsightly and gangly metal crutches. She is doing really well, in fact, given the previous entry to this. WAILING in PAIN in the middle of a rugged mountain trail, if I remember accurately. Today, Monday, much better. Smiling and hobbling. So well, in fact, that we went snorkeling yesterday. I helped her into the water and even thought of a nifty little way to keep her footses from sinking toward the coral below--water wings around the ankles. Yep, floaties of yellow which, when inflated around her ankles, allow her to effortlessly snorkel without the pain and potential of further injury from fins. And a double bonus--in the snorkel-busy waters of Kona, its easy to spot her in a crowd.

My first Hawaiian snorkeling adventure was splendid, replete with wildlife to the tune of my first in-person green sea turtle swim. He just floated along there with me, looking at me over his shoulder, flying underwater with those little hydro-wings. So cool. Unbelievably cool. I laughed like a little kid as I clumsily splashed along trying to keep up. I had a great time until I got kind of chilly.

After we were finished snorkeling, finishing up with our run to meet Jan and the car at the marine preserve Kealakakua or something like that, we ended up at the place known as "The Coffee Shack" pictured above. Seriously cool place!! Stand at the edge of the lenai and look out over the coast below, where we just came from. You can see a line through the desert and lava that is the Sugar Cane Road, and its so far down there its hard to believe thats where you just were. The railing of The Coffee Shack sports those small Jam containers like they serve you at Denny's with your toast. They are all open and the geckos line up on those railings and eat the jam out of them like funny little dogs. Its hilarious to see these WILD animals behaving like this. Truly unique--where else on earth would you see this? This place also has heavenly pies and Kona Coffee right off the bush.

Its interesting in Hawaii; everyone in this particular area seems to have a coffee plantation, regardless of whether its 100 acres or 3 coffee plants. I could go into business, here. Damn the government and their tax laws!!!

We wrapped it up, drove back to the hotel/rooms and washed up, ready to head out for dinner. Dinner produced another fine culinary treat dispensed by Hawaiian favorite, the marvelous L&L Drive in. Loco moco, anyone? No, this time I dined on fried Mahi. Yumm-o.

We ended the long day at Island Lava Java on Ali'i drive, sitting out on the famous Ironman Triathlon street reminiscing about past races and Jan and her dad talked about their previous times in Hawaii. They have been here so often and know it so well, its amazing. For me, its a hugely steep learning curve as I try to assimilate and remember and enjoy everything I can in this short vacation. The coffee was delish and the free muffin basket came around at 10 pm, of which we all partook. That was our morning snack today, Monday.

So I am finishing this up on Tuesday night, unfortunately. I wish I could both express the activities we enjoyed or didn't enjoy in both an informative and well written way, but now, I am on vacation, and the attitude seems to have enveloped even my blogging. How it is. Enjoy.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Aloha, mainlanders! Now break a leg!

"A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths.
~Steven Wright

That is not a random quote, mind you.

On a narrow trail with slippery clay instead of dirt and twisting, tangling, gnarled roots every single step--width is very important if you are carrying a 140 pound sweaty person on your back. You might not think 140 pounds is very heavy until you have to carry it a few miles after already having run that few miles in 85 degree temperatures up hills and down slopes, looking down to the left at a hundred foot cliff. No pressure.

Its not always you run into serious trouble, but vacation is as good a time as any. The first day of this vacation I was fortunate enough to be tested in basic wilderness survival. Garnett and I were running up ahead maybe 100 yards over an extremely rugged trail that was, indeed, clay/soil. At one particular overlook, from where you can see two distant jungle ridges of the mountains of Oahu, I heard a yelp, and then what I thought was laughter. I hoped it was laughter. I turned and walked toward the noise. Not laughter. Crying. WAILING. SERIOUS, PAINFUL WAILING!!! Oh shit, I kept thinking. Oh shit, not out here in the middle of this crazy trail. Not out here where there is no road, no help.

Yes. Out here in the middle of nowhere it happened. There was Jan, frozen in pain ad in tears, me sprinting as fast as I could over the treacherous muck and roots toward her. The adventure was about to begin, and it taught me a lot.

Over the next hour and some, I learned the value of keeping cool in a very, very dangerous situation. I learned how valuable resourcefulness is. I learned the value of being fit. And I learned that I am capable of pretty amazing stuff. BESIDES Ironman.
Jan was going into shock, most likely as a result of the stress of the situation combined with the extreme pain she was experiencing and the fear of where it happened and its ramifications. She was unable to walk or even hop. It means she must be carried. I was the only one strong enough to carry her. So piggy back she went, for a long distance back toward the car. When I got really tired (I was doing a quick pace with 140 pounds on my back) Garnett (Jan's father) and I used a large stick on which Jan set and put her arms around our shoulders. We carried her along in sitting position until our hands and arms were so tired we needed a rest. Then we would do piggy back on me for a while. At one point Jan got dizzy and said she felt sick, and wanted to pass out and throw up. Maybe not in that order. She turned pale greenish and her pupils were different sizes. Aaron survival tip #1 : Don't let the patient pass out in shock while stranded in middle of nowhere. Only thing worse than a sweaty, slippery person who can't walk is a sweaty, slippery person who can't walk and is unable to hold on. Or even talk or breathe for that matter.

At the very beginning my main mission was to make sure Jan was calm and she focused on staying positive and on completing the task, which was getting back to the car. I didn't have any clever solution and I was sort of counting on Garnett to come up with some way to get us out of this jam while I used my ninja calming skills to quiet the injured girl. Poor thing; she was in a pathetic scared place.

We got out, never fear. We got out and my arms and legs hurt like never before. I think this may have been more difficult than Ironman because not only was it physically the most difficult thing I have ever done, but instead of having to tame the demons of my own head, it was the demons in Jan's head. That's a horse of a whole different color.

We spent 3 or more hours in the emergency room on our first day in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. The girl sprained her ankle but it wasn't too serious. We all know how crucial our legs are for silly things like walking, so needless to say its not going to be an easy vacation. And Jan won't be able to run next weekend in the crater race she registered for.

Thats life. Its actually Saturday now, when I finish this, and Jan is hobbling around on her own, with crutches. In the house she manages without them, which makes me a little nervous...

We went swimming today, also. It was at a really interesting beach whose name escapes me. I will post pictures about that later but the long and short is I seriously want more beach time. Hawaii is beautiful, especially when you get out of the car long enough to sit and enjoy it.