Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The beauty of Hawaii

Vacation isn't truly over until the pictures have been developed and shared. Below are some of those pictures (I took over 300+ pictures. The wonders of digital photography). Also, some random thoughts of things I will remember from this trip.
**The Hilton Hawaiian Village on Waikiki Beach. We booked this through our travel agent and they upgraded us to VIP clients for free. We wound up on the 22nd floor with two oceanview balconies. (Previous blog shows view of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach. (Also, pictured below from the beach) Pictured above is the view of harbor and downtown Honolulu from other balcony). Lesson learned is always ask for 'best available'. It doesn't hurt) I truly didn't want to leave that place. It was fun just walking around the shops, which make up the village, at night.

**Our Honolulu day trip to Iolani Palace (only royal palace in US), lunch in Chinatown and a trip to the Bishop Museum. In the trolley, on the way back to the HHV, the driver pointed out the hotel where the opening scene of 'Hawaii Five-O' happens. You know the scene. The one where McGarrett is standing on a balcony with the camera zooming in.

**Manna, the stuffed penguin.

**The beauty of the rest of Oahu, outside of Honolulu.

**The beauty of the Hawaiian language with greetings of Aloha and Mahalo (thank you).

**Seeing the 'Southern Cross' for the first time, in the sky over Waikiki Beach. I always thought you could only see this constellation south of the equator. We learned that you could see it in Hawaii from our tour at the planetarium in the Bishop Museum.

**Our day trip to Polynesian Cultural Center. Our Samoan tour guide, 'cousin' Leon Jr. It's customary to call everyone 'cousin' as we are all one big family. Walking around was a lot of fun especially throwing spears and watching my wife take hula lessons. The night show was absolutely fabulous. Worth the trip.

**Fresh tropical fruit and fresh fish almost every day we were there. There is a HUGE difference here and what we get on the mainland. We ate fish that we have no idea what it was and couldn't order it again if we tried. But, it was great.

**Surfing lessons on Waikiki Beach. Checking that off the 'bucket list'. And, being called 'Pops' by the surfing instructors. Who were as old as me. Ouch! That hit home. I can't say I was the greatest surfer in the world. But, I did ride a wave once. What a thrill! My new hero is Duke Kahanamoku, Olympic champion and the 'king' of surfers.

**Realizing the 'evil' of television. I admit, most days I will plop myself in front of TV for a few hours before bed and flip through channels. But, the only thing I watched in Hawaii was the local news at 10p. Doing that made me calmer. Because, flipping through channels at home, creates tension from all the 'political wonks' screaming and spewing hate (both sides) and making our elections and issues a sport and an 'entertainment'. The American public deserves better than that.

**(Pictured above is our view from the Marriot Hotel overlooking Kalapaki Bay in Kauai.)

**Sitting on the balcony in the morning, drinking Kona/Kauai coffee, reading the Honolulu Advertiser, looking out over the ocean. (I was surprised to read that Hawaii's unemployment rate was 3.5%. I don't know why I was surprised but I was).

**Always wondering what EXACTLY I stepped on in the ocean that put a hole in my foot.

**Watching the koi feeding at 9a at the Kauai Marriott. Those fish will do ANYTHING to get some fish food.

**Now knowing why they call Kauai, the Garden Isle.

**Eating lunch at Scotty's and the great oceanview they had at the restaurant.

**The 15 minute 'monsoons' in Kauai, where it would just pour down rain for brief periods.

**(Pictured below is Wailua Falls, about a 20 minute drive from our hotel and easy to get to by car.)

**(Pictured below is 'Spouting Horn', a old lava tube where, when the waves break, creates a geyser effect.) Also, seeing the 'green sea turtles swimming in this area.

**Seeing the Fern Grotto. A little disappointing as there aren't that many ferns anymore because of some shifts in the rock formations around the grotto. But, it was a nice tour of the Wailua River and the surprise of seeing the place where they filmed the beginning of the first 'Indiana Jones' film where he is escaping across a field to a waiting seaplane. (Field is pictured below) **Our discussion of which is better--the Kauai cookie company or the Honolulu Cookie company. It took us many cookies to decide.

**Red Dirt Shirts. The T-shirt company was almost wiped out in the '90s due to hurricanes at that time. They got an idea to dye their T-shirts in Hawaiian red dirt (also in Hawaiian coral blue and black lava rock). Of course, I got one. Then noticing HOW MUCH red dirt there is on Kauai.

**Our visit to the Kauai Coffee company. I don't what it is, but, Hawaii does have the best coffee I ever tasted. It was true 20 years ago and its true now.

**Chickens everywhere. I mean, everywhere. They are as prevalent as Canada geese in the Northeast. Except they are not called wild chickens. They are called Jungle Fowl.

**Our drive up Waimea Canyon Drive, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. The picture below doesn't do it justice.

**Seeing one of the most beautiful spots on earth. At the top of Waimea Canyon Drive, I took the picture below. It was a bit foggy and a little chilly so my wife didn't have a sweater on. She wanted to go back to the car. I wanted to just stare at this scene. I've seen this picture before. But, I was there and it was breathtaking.

If I was a cat and had nine lives, I would live in Hawaii with one of those lives. I am so intrigued on whether or not I would truly enjoy living there. Through tourist's eyes it is so different than the day-to-day existence there. When I was running with FL and TB, I kept asking, 'what's it like? Don't you ever grow tired living on an island'? But they kept on telling me how much they enjoy living there. I felt I was cut off from the rest of the world, at least the rest of the States. I mean, baseball games at 1 o'clock in the afternoon? And, they were live from the east coast.
It was hard to leave. But, then again, it would be hard to stay. It is a special place in my life.
(Notes: Foot is feeling better but not great. I ran two miles on it Sunday and was feeling better as time went on. I plan on participating in the Tex-Mex race in North Wales, PA tonight. Participate, not run for time. I noticed that my foot will slightly roll when I am running on it, which, in time, will cause another injury. I wanted to pick out my fall marathon and start training but can't until I'm fully healed. Right now, the most I could probably do is around 4 miles. Also, the Steve/Joe Falmouth duel is off this year. Seems that Steve didn't get into the race this year (entries are by lottery). I guess they only want the good runners this year. :-)
I haven't decided whether or not to go myself now. Right now, I am planning on driving up now but, in truth, won't be the same.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Running in Hawaii (but not always)

There is so much to talk about from my vacation in Hawaii. I had a great time. One of the best vacations I ever had. But, this entry will be about my running experiences while I was there. Next week I will share some of the pictures I took which, I hope, shows the beauty of these islands. On this trip, I went to two islands--Oahu (Honolulu) and Kauai.

To paraphrase Charles Dickens--it was the best of times and the worst of times. First the best:

My wife and I spent four nights on Waikiki Beach. On three of those mornings, we would wake up and run a few miles along side the beach. Weather was great. Temps were in the 70's in the morning with a cool ocean breeze. It was a few miles to get our mornings going. Just a nice relaxing run.

I also had an opportunity to run with some friends. Whom I never met. Nor, ever spoken to before. But I considered them friends. I met up with someone who I knew well through her blog. (

Through e-mail, we agreed that Frayed Laces and The Boyfriend were to pick me up at my hotel on Monday at 5:30p. I knew her through her blog. She knew my voice through Steve's podcast. As I waited for them at the hotel, I thought this was crazy. What if they didn't like me? What if they didn't understand my deadpan sense of humor? I'm basically shy so what if I fumble looking for something to talk about?

They drove up to the hotel entrance and waved. Funny, but we knew each other by site though we never met. Frayed Laces got out of the car, yelled, 'Aloha!' and gave me a hug. Instantly, I felt at ease, got in the car, and we drove off to Diamond Head.

We talked as if we were just catching up after not seeing each other for awhile. I asked whether or not they liked living in Hawaii. Frayed Laces said, 'yes, except for the tourists.' Trying to be funny, I replied, 'don't worry, I'll be leaving on Thursday.' To which FL said, 'you're not a tourist, you're a friend.' Such is the running community via the internet, we are all friends.

(pictured above is the view from our hotel room overlooking Waikiki Beach with Diamond Head in the background.)

We got to the park and started towards the beach. FL and TB gave me a tour of the area, places they like to run and the area where they run part of the Honolulu marathon. After about a mile and half, (I know this as we ran 5 miles, I clocked 3.5 as I forgot to turn on my Garmin and this was the point I started my watch) we started to climb the road that goes around the volcano mountain.

(Pictured above is Diamond Head and the area we started in. )

The views were gorgeous. I thought about bringing my mini-cam but knew the battery would wear out and wouldn't be able to download it when I got home. When we got to the top of the hill, we stopped to soak in the scene. FL pointed out the island of Molaki off in the distance. She also pointed to the million dollar homes by the ocean where she likes to run. We continued on, and talked about their lives there on the island, what it was like living in New England before, people that we both knew, Falmouth, New York, etc. Time went fast. It seemed like as soon as we started, we had finished.

I did bring my (maxi?) camera and took some pictures to prove I was there. (See below) We laughed saying this only proves that I was THERE but doesn't necessarily prove I ran. (I need FL and TB as witnesses).

After our run, they drove me back to the hotel. I got out of the car, we said our good-byes, and I started walking and thinking as I went back to my room. Twenty years ago, when I first visited Hawaii, nothing like this could have ever happened. How do you 'know' someone without ever talking or meeting them? And, yet, feel so comfortable now as if you have known them throughout your life? I wonder if, 50 years from now, this type of experience will be more commonplace? Or is it now and I just don't know about it? In any case, thank you, FL and TB, for taking me in as a friend. It was a run I'll never forget.

The worst:

I had intentions of running in Kauai. I was so looking forward to running in Kauai. The hotel, we were staying in, had this road from the main road that was about a mile long. In the shade. It was going to be perfect. But, I had to go into the ocean first.

So, when we got into our room, first thing Ihad to do was get into my bathing suit and head for the ocean. I went in and felt, at my feet, what I thought were long shells. So, I moved away. But, they were still there. I looked around and no one else seem to be bothered about them.

I decided to do some body surfing. A wave was coming, I pushed off to start swimming. OUCH!!! WHAT THE !&@#$#????? I stepped on something sharp. At the bottom of my arch of my left foot. I was going to stay in in the ocean, thinking it was only a scratch but decided I better look.

As I sat on the beach, I noticed an X cut on my foot. And, it was bleeding. Having seen Jaws a number of years ago, I knew that blood and the ocean don't mix. I hobbled back to the hotel as there were no lifeguards in the area. I asked for First Aid. They came and cleaned the wound. Unfortunately, it still hurt, it was puffy and black and blue all around the cut.

I went back to my room, cursing my luck. I thought, 'ok, I can live with this for a day. I'll try running tomorrow.' But, I couldn't as I could barely walk. As my time there went by, it was getting better but the cut and bruise is at a spot on my foot that I can't comfortably put a lot of pressure on it. So, I never ran in Kauai.

I've been home for a few days now and still can't run on it. I feel more comfortable barefoot than with shoes on. But, when I do put my running shoes on, I can't even WALK on uneven surfaces and the pounding of a light jog gets me limping. So, the best thing to do is to rest until it heals.

I am half-convinced that vacations are dangerous for you.

Next week: I will be sharing some pictures of my trip. I hope you enjoy! (And, yes, I did change the format of the blog. I may change it from time to time to see which template I like best.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Where it all began

If you look to the right of this blog, you will see a history of my races. Checking closely, you will notice I have listed my first race being in 2001. That's not entirely accurate. You see, I actually started my 5k+ career somewhere in the late 80's. It was running the Corporate Challenge series of 3.5 mile races. Two weeks ago, I was in NYC on business and, before I left for home, I had an opportunity to run the course where it all started for me. It all started in Central Park.

(Above: Typical Central Park scene. Runner on the bike path with horse and carriage in front of the runner.)

(Above: Around the reservoir in Central Park. This is seen in a number of movies throughout the years. The one I remember the most is Marathon Man with Dustin Hoffman.)

(Above: The tall building you see, in this picture, is the Dakota. It is where John Lennon lived and Yoko Ono continues to live.)

(Above: Tavern on the Green was the start and finish line of the Corporate Challenge I remember most back in the late 80's/early 90's. After leaving my job in Manhattan, I ran the CC again, in the mid-90's, but they had changed the course by then. It was a shame because I liked the original course.)

(Above: The two pictures above are typical shots from Central Park showing parts of the Manhattan skyline through the trees.)

For a couple of years, when I first got married, I lived in northern Jersey and worked in Manhattan. I remember, one day, leaving work and heading to the bus to go home and seeing all these people in the streets, wearing numbers on their shirts, heading up to Central Park. Why? I asked someone what that was all about and he responded, 'That's the Corporate Challenge. It's the last race of the year but you should try it next year.' It looked like a lot of fun. But, to run 3.5 miles? Without stopping? Why would someone who thinks a 440 is taxing do anything crazy like that?
But that winter and spring, I kept on thinking about it. The company captain was named Ralph (I wish I can remember his last name) and he convinced me I could do it. So, I trained. Boy, did I train. I must have been out there for a good six weeks before the race. Mind you, not every day. But, out there enough to know that I would't die running 3.5 miles.
To this day, that first race was one of the most exciting experiences I ever had. I remember being towards the back of the pack and seeing 10,000+ people starting. It was like a wave coming towards you as people's heads started to bob up and down in front of me and it got closer and closer and closer.
I don't remember the details of the race itself other than remembering the last small hill at the finish. It felt like I was climbing a mountain. I also remember the cheering crowds the last 1/2 mile. Cheering for everyone. Cheering for me. Pulling me along to the end. The absolute rush I got hearing them. It was thrilling. I was hooked.
After a few years, I changed jobs and no longer worked in Manhattan. I became captain of our team and convinced others to do the Corporate Challenge. We went back to Central Park a few times but also did CCs in Morristown, NJ, Princeton, NJ and Philadelphia, PA. After awhile, the company discouraged our participation. We went one more time to Central Park, but, because the train was late getting us up there, we missed the start of the race. It was beginning not to be fun anymore so we didn't do it again.
Those were the days before the internet so I can't look up any of my times in the races. I do remember that my best time was 29:45 for the 3.5 mile race. After that, I ran sparingly doing a few miles at a time. But, no more races. It wasn't until I met up with Steve again, a few years later and him convincing me I could do a marathon, did I take up running once more.
Running the Central Park course once more was a lot of fun. It brought back a lot of great memories. I ran up that small hill at the finish. I finished my run at Tavern on the Green just once more. I stood there looking around and remembering the feeling I had when I had finished my first long distance race. And, wished I could do it just one more time.
(Note: When blogs collide!
I will be off to Hawaii for a week and a half so won't be able to blog for a few weeks. For the past few weeks, I have been asking around where can I realistically run in Hawaii? Well, Frayed Laces ( and the Boyfriend have graciously offered to take me out for a 5-6 miler in Honolulu next week. I am very excited about this and can't wait to meet up with them. Hopefully, some great pictures will soon follow.
In the meantime, Aloha!)