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.

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