Hawaii: A Story of Two Visits

I’ve recently returned from my second trip ever to the state of Hawaii. While a lot of Hawaii reminds me of other tropical places in the the world, it is unique to me in also being a volcanic island. The hiking bug in me is activated as soon as I see the miles of beach coast and inland trails to explore these natural features. My ability to indulge in those sorts of activities has changed a bit however.

In 2013 I had the pleasure of being able to visit Hawaii for a week. I didn’t have grand expectations for the visit beyond what I would expect from any other warm vacation destination. I expected to be able to indulge in a lot of good food, to see a lot of beautiful sites, and to indulge in relaxing by the ocean. Coming from the east coast of the United States I’m used to engaging in a lot of those activities at local beach destinations, but it’s taken to another level when you have mountainous islands straight across the waterway from you and a volcanic geological scape. I did indulge all of those relaxing things, but I was also in marathon training and I sorely needed to get my training in. I had some indoor workouts but I also got a few runs in at the same time. One of those is up there as my favorite runs of all time.

Towards the end of our stay I decided to bang out my first attempt to break 13 miles in my training (only the second time ever I would have run that far). I went into the Run Keeper website and mapped out a course that went along the coastline. My hotel was right on the coast and it had a running trail that would go for a few miles in either direction, but if I took it south then I had the opportunity to go into a lava field (obviously dormant, this isn’t some cheesy George Lucas movie after all). It was a lot more aggressive from an elevation change perspective, but it sounded absolutely perfect. The run was grueling since the heat even by mid morning was very high and the breeze was non-existant, but I got to run in a land that looked straight out of Pandora (sorry for a duplicate movie reference in one paragraph). I took several pictures and journaled about the run. I still think back on that entire experience and put it really high up on my list.

This year’s trip was a bit different. We were there for about the same amount of time, but there weren’t any runs to be had. There weren’t even any workouts. I did pack some workout gear but I just didn’t feel up for doing it. I did get my good eats and relaxing times in, but that’s about it. There was obviously no running, but what is most disappointing of all is that I couldn’t have done it even if I wanted to. We did get a little bit of hiking in at Volcano National Park but unfortunately didn’t really have time to do some of the longer hikes that I like to take in. As I researched some of the hikes that were really tempting to me I realized that they were pretty aggressive in elevation change, heat, and distance. It may have let us get to an active lava flow (maybe not though) but even if I had all the time in the world there was a very strong chance that it would be a foolish idea to try for these hikes. That’s in stark contrast to running many miles into and out of a lava field just two years before.

I had a great time on both trips. I’m not going to let my lament take away from that. However I can’t help but frown upon this degradation in ability. If this was something that came about due to an illness or the unavoidable ravages of aging over decades then I’d just reflect on the moment and let it pass. That’s not why I am where I am though. I’m here through my own actions (and lack of actions). Whether I train for or run a marathon again isn’t directly relevant. The daily fitness and health lifestyle that I need to maintain to live a vibrant life into my later decades has just been neglected too much and instead sloth, gluttony, and apathy have creeped in. This isn’t a new revelation. The six week challenge from the summer was my most recent “come to Jesus” moment in this area. However this experience is a sharp reminder of why it’s important for me to figure out how to get things back on track and keep it there.