Saturday, January 31, 2015

Maui on my mind

We currently have over a foot of snow on the ground here in CT, and the local weather forecast for the coming week predicts up to another foot is on the way. When the cold and snow and ice come in for the winter, my outdoor running halts, and I become a treadmiller. But that doesn’t bother me, at least not this year, as I just returned from a wonderful week away in Maui where I was able to take advantage of some lovely outdoor running. 
Present landscape at home
I ran 5 out of 7 days in Maui, three of those days along a main road fronting large hotels and resorts and shops lined with gorgeous flowers and trees in 70 degree temps in the early morning. Not too shabby. The other two days, I had the extreme privilege of running along the beach path running between Wailea Beach and the resorts, which I am convinced, is one of the most stunning places on the planet. 

Infinity pool just above running path at Four Seasons Wailea
The beach path isn’t very extensive, only about a mile and a half long, but along that strip there is ocean as far as you can see with a few smaller islands in the background, whales playing and spouting, gorgeous plants and if you are lucky a rainbow off in the distance. It really doesn’t get better than that. I felt as if I could have run forever on that path. Seriously, you don’t tire of it one bit. Those feelings and memories warm my insides now that we are back home, and they are sustaining me (for now anyway) amidst this blast of cold. 

Selfie running along the beach path
View at dawn on beach path
My husband and I made the trip to Maui as part of a work trip with his colleagues. We were so incredibly fortunate to have that gift given to us, and we were also lucky to share the experience with an amazing group of colleagues and spouses from the company where my husband works. Lots of laughs and fun were had by all, and plenty of conversations were exchanged about locations of future marathons for me, possibly with some new friends joining in. Just what I love about this whole half marathon journey I’m on.

As if that wasn’t enough, we were also treated to some over-the-top excursions including viewing the sunrise from the top of the Haleakala volcano followed by biking down the volcano. What an incredible experience. The landscape on top of the volcano looked almost lunar, and since we arrived there in the dark, it wasn’t hard to imagine being in space. The sunrise was like nothing in this world. My pictures don’t do it justice, but it was spectacular in every way. 

Sunrise at Haleakala
Observation area at the summit of the volcano

Another day we joined in the excursion zip-lining through the forested area near the volcano. That was a blast, too. Talk about an adrenaline rush! Our final zip-line of the day left my body shaking for several minutes, not so much out of fear as from the adrenaline pumping through my veins. Wow! 
Just before my first zip
On the line
View from the last zip...highest and longest and scariest!
Zip-lining gang
While we were on the island, we also took the time to drive out to where the Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon route runs. Hawaii will be my 50th and final state half marathon (sometime seven years or so from now), so I thought I’d get a sneak peek of it while we were there. It is a stunningly beautiful out and back course from Lahaina that winds entirely along the main beach route there. It is flat and largely shaded. What more can one ask for? I also read on the race website that any runners who are running the race as their 50th state receive a bib number in the 50’s range and are given the honor of toeing the line with the front runners. How AWESOME is that???!!! I wish I could run a half marathon every weekend just to get back to Maui sooner! Talk about a major incentive to keep my motivation in motion! 
Banyan tree at the finish line area in Lahaina
For now, I will keep on the treadmill and keep those miles moving under my feet. The warmth of Maui is in my soul helping me to shake off the cold and sharpen my focus on the future. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

On being a holiday streaker

Whew! It has been a fast and fun holiday season for our family, and amongst all the usual revelry I managed to streak from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. Some time before Thanksgiving, Runner's World magazine issued a challenge to readers to run every day from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. Here's a fun article from Marc Parent on the topic. A streak is considered at least one mile a day for as many consecutive days as possible. The idea here is to make sure your activity level doesn't get completely sidelined in favor of all the holiday food, parties and general hustle and bustle. It sounded like a good idea to me, so I decided to do it.
I started my streaking the day after Thanksgiving. I wanted to get in a run on Thanksgiving morning, but my roasted vegetables took precedence and time ran short. I was bummed about that, but jumped in with great determination the following day. My usual running schedule is to get in 4-5 runs per week plus other workouts (mostly from the P90/X suite), so running every day seemed like it might be tough to do. What I discovered from the streak was that it really wasn't hard to do, and in fact, it reinvigorated me about my running. 
After my last race in Oklahoma, I returned home feeling accomplished for this past year, but really weary. Everything ached, and I knew I needed some rest. Enter the streak. I wasn't sure how my body would feel, but once I started I was amazed as how good I felt and how motivated I was to continue. Instead of doing longer runs fewer times per week, I was running shorter distances every day. Turns out running those short distances is really fun...and completely achievable! 
My shortest runs during the streak were 1.7 milers on a quick little route right around my neighborhood. These runs were reserved for days like Christmas Day when things were hectic and I just needed to continue the streak. My longest runs in the streak were only 7 miles long, and I saved those for days following great revelry and food sins. Just to get my butt back in gear. Most of the workouts during the streak were in the 5 mile range, nice and easy and completely enjoyable. Best of all, my body has stayed active and doesn't feel like I've been pounding on it. 
That said, my P90 workouts have been put aside for now, and I can see and feel the difference in my muscles. I'll be jumping back in to those very soon (probably once everyone goes back to school), but I may keep my streak going as long as I can, just for fun. These shorter runs were a great way to end the running year and begin 2015 on a healthy note. Jump in! You can be a streaker, too! Happy New Year!