Week four of my marathon training was the week that I officially crossed over to the other side. It was the week that I transitioned to one of those crazy people who rearrange their vacation itineraries to make room for long runs. For fun.
Honestly, I didn’t really think that I had it in me.
Summer vacation this year took us to Hawaii. That state, and the island of Maui in particular, has a special hold over our family. It is a place where we feel completely relaxed, and where we quickly meld into the easy, loose pace of island life. We take off watches upon landing and do not put them on again until take off. We eat when we are hungry, we sleep when we are tired, we read, we chill, we explore, we swim, we lie in hammocks. We definitely do not over-exert ourselves while on island retreat.
And with that background, you will understand my severe apprehension about this vacation. As evidenced by the fact that the first things I packed were water bottles and Gu, my mind mostly was on the need to complete 6 and 10 mile runs the first weekend, and 7 and 11 mile runs the second weekend, with varying workouts in between. I had no idea how the runs would fit into the grand scheme of island leisure and, as a practical matter, I had no idea where I would run to get in the miles. Running back and forth on the Kaanapali beach walk thirteen times dodging tourists with boogie boards hardly seemed like a viable option. And then there was the mental element: Could I summon the will to run, and run hard, when my body and mind are checked out and in full vacation mode?
And so it was that on the first day of vacation I found myself running past couples settling down in their lounges with paperbacks and entertainment magazines, drinking their morning coffee, and lazing in the sun. Yep, that was me before. And now I was one of those annoying exercise people who MUST get their runs in before they are able to relax.
I am not going to lie: Do not underestimate the gravitational pull of a poolside, ocean view lounge chair. It is real. I almost turned around.
But I didn’t.
Instead, I found my way to a gorgeous path along the ocean through a public beach park, running by local residents setting up bounce houses, picnics, and seaside church services. Other runs found me trekking past the shops and through the neighborhoods of Lahaina, where other runners and shopkeepers would spot my NYC Marathon training shirt (worn both with pride and for sympathy) and shoot me a smile or a shakka in encouragement. My long runs with my husband gave me time with him, to enjoy scenes, beaches, and views that we have seen a hundred times before but have never experienced in the same way as when we were running by them together. It was beautiful. Running on Maui is an experience not to be missed, and I am only now discovering a small taste of it.
We will remember this as the last vacation before our daughter leaves for college and our son starts high school, when they were both craving their independence but still wanting, and enjoying, time with our family. We will remember the beach and the snorkel trip, time together and time with friends, dining outside by sunset and at our favorite local restaurants. But now I can add one more memory to the mix. God willing, when we are truly old, my husband and I will still be able to go on a jog or a walk together along that beach, and as we set out we will smile to each other and say: “remember when we ran 10 miles to Lahaina for the first time? That was awesome ...”