Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Water Cycle

Marathon training is in full swing, and since humidity levels have settled around the “Must Possess Gills to Breathe this Air” mark for the past week or two, hydration has become one of the most important parts of training. Having grown up in New England and spent my young adulthood mainly in the Northeast, I had never experienced a tropical summer before moving to Hawaii and could not have imagined how sticky and hot it is. As I settled in to my new island life, my hydration belt quickly became one of my favorite pieces of equipment.

Belt

I bought my hydration belt earlier this summer at Be Fit Kailua. I had stopped by the store merely to browse, but as I turned the belt over in my hand, I realized that I had been using the heat and threat of dehydration as an excuse to keep my runs short, so I bought it. The belt I have is made by FuelBelt and is fastened around my waist with velcro. Two small water bottles (maybe 6 ounces?) sit behind me, one on each of my love handles, and a small zippered pouch sits, easily accessible, on my hip. The bottles rest in a holster and can be slid out and replaced easily so that I can continue running while I sip.

Bottle

Wearing the belt took a little getting used to. At first, I found the bouncing of the water bottles annoying and, even now, I occasionally think I hear someone or something coming up behind me when I’m actually just hearing the sound of water sloshing. Any issues I have with the FuelBelt are erased by the benefits of wearing it. The obvious benefit is that, like a camel, I have a source of easily accessed, guaranteed fresh and clean water with me at all times. I watch others in my running group struggle with hydration- will there be water fountains? Can I find a good place to stash my water bottle when I get tired of carrying it? Will someone think my stashed water bottle is an orphan and will it be adopted by the time I return for it?- and I’m glad I’ve eliminated this from my list of marathon training worries.

Pouch

I saw somebody with a backpack style hydration pack, but I like that the belt covers very little surface area so that I can catch whatever breeze is available. A few people have the hand grip water bottle which features a strap you put your hand through so that you aren’t actually carrying your bottle, but it is firmly attached to you, but I like that my hands are free for more important things like wiping sweat from my brow, picking wedgies, and clasping together, raising them to the sky, and pleading with whichever deity sees fit to end my suffering.

This week, our Tuesday run focused on building endurance with hills and Thursday’s run was geared toward increasing our speed. Each run was a little less than 4 miles long, but, as they both focused on things I am neither particularly fond of nor excel at, I found them just as challenging as the longer runs. Today’s long run was grueling but fantastic. We met at the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden in nearby Kaneohe and ran through the garden, to the Ko’olau Golf Club and back again. Although the hills were more difficult than I thought they would be and the 7.5ish miles make this my longest run to date (!), the scenery was so green, so lush, so indisputably tropical that I really enjoyed today’s run. I need to go back and take some photos (the zippered pouch on my FuelBelt has space for keys, chapstick and money, but not the iPhone 6) to share with you, but imagine a place where a non-animated version of the movie Fern Gully could be filmed, and you’ve captured the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden perfectly.

I Must Confess….

Yes!

I’ve been holding out on you guys. I’ve had a big announcement to make, but I didn’t make it and didn’t even create a preamble that would lead you to believe that I had a big announcement to make because I thought that I’d eventually come to my senses and didn’t want to be answering questions about the big announcement that was not to be. The time has come, though, to let you in on my dirty little secret: I have decided to train for a marathon.

You are probably wondering, as you have every right to wonder, why? I’m afraid I can’t give you a really good answer. I wasn’t possessed by the spirit of goodwill to run in honor of some charitable organization, I didn’t lose a bet, and I most certainly did not, suddenly, become a speedy and graceful runner. Honestly, I received an email with the subject line “Are you a runner?” thought to myself “Nope,” opened it anyway, and, instead of deleting it, forwarded it to Don, who, upon receiving it, incredulously asked “You want to run a marathon????” to which I replied “Ummmm, no. Probably not.” But here we are, preparing to run a marathon.

The contents of that email (which I should have deleted as was my first instinct! Let this be a reminder to you all to TRUST your instincts!) detailed a marathon training clinic organized by a group called Windward Endurance Training and a local restaurant, the Kalapawai Cafe. The program they offer consists of three weekly group runs, video stride and running analysis, workout recommendations, discounts from the Be Fit Kailua shoe store and the Planet Sun sun care store, a post-race massage, and, best of all, free snacks at the Kalapawai Cafe after our Sunday morning runs. Free snacks go far in motivating me to do things I otherwise would avoid, but snacks alone do not a marathon make.

What really got Don and I giving some serious thought to drinking the kool-aid was that the program sounds like the most sure-fire way to get someone to the start and finish lines of a marathon. If I decided to train for a marathon on my own, I’d likely be tempted to give up around mile 10. “10 miles is a perfectly respectable distance to run,” I’d reason, “and my feet hurt, so why press on?” Now, I’m part of a group of people (including a few who are in their 60’s and a lady who is several months pregnant) who will be disappointed if I give up halfway through the training, and I can draw on the collective knowledge of the group to make my marathon experience better and more likely to succeed. The discounts and free snacks certainly don’t hurt either!

This morning was our second training session, a little under 6.5 miles, and while I was at first overwhelmed by the distances we are already running (if you’ll recall, the longest distance I’d run prior to today was 6.2 miles), I’m finding that, despite the heat and despite feeling a little inadequate in my abilities (most of these people have run at least one marathon already), I’m struggling along just fine- I only contemplated running headlong into traffic to end my misery once on today’s run! Don would want me to mention that he had the fastest time this morning (I will own up to the fact that I was second to slowest), which I must admit is a feat since he was away for work all week and didn’t exercise at all.

We’ve got our eye on the Honolulu Marathon on December 13th. So far, I’ve been given some training tips from folks who have been there before; my brother, Andrew, recommended I invest in high quality socks because he said he wore holes in his when training for a race last summer, and the guy running the clinic, Mike Flaherty, suggested that people can psych themselves out when they put a marathon on a pedestal- it is, after all, only a run. I’m open to more advice, if you have it! Stay tuned here for some new equipment reviews as we go along, and wish me luck, I’m going to need it for the training alone!

SUP?

It has been so hot and humid lately that I break into a sweat simply walking to the refrigerator  to refill my glass of gatorade, and my dog absolutely refuses to go on a walk with me if I try to take him after 8:00 am and before 7:00 pm. It has become increasingly hard to drag myself from our hot and humid house, get into my car with the broken AC, and work out next to a crowd of other over-heated, sweaty people, so I was more than happy to try something new when Don suggested we try Stand Up Paddleboarding.

This was taken the next morning when the wind picked up so we had to abort our last excursion and opted for a photo shoot instead.
This was taken the next morning when the wind picked up so we had to abort our last excursion and opted for a photo shoot instead.

A few weeks ago, we took a SUP (Stand Up Paddle board) lesson at a local shop that offers rentals and lessons for tourists and we had a blast getting the hang of using the boards. Our instructor and guide, Toby of Kailua Beach Adventures, took us out to a small island in Kailua Bay and gave us a little local history lesson. We saw some sea turtles on our way out, which was pretty exciting, and also saw some Wedgetailed Shearwaters (a kind of sea bird that lays its eggs here in Hawaii). I am happy to report that I took to SUPing like a fish to water (I keep insisting to Don that Hawaii is my natural habitat).

We had such a great time in our lesson that last weekend we rented some paddleboards and headed out to a new beach to try our luck by ourselves. Once again, I proved more the natural than Don (I can’t help but brag, he is usually better than me in athletic endeavors), but he spent more time on the board and less time in the water as the day went on. We were blessed with a brilliantly sunny day and as we made our way through the waves, sea turtles popped their heads out of the water to investigate us. We spent the day alternating between gliding across the Pacific swell on our boards, watching the turtles surface and swim, and donning our masks and snorkels to take in the beautiful underwater landscape. What I like most about being on the paddle board are the moments when the breeze lulls and the sun starts to become overwhelming, and suddenly, the water sloshes over your feet. The water is a delicious temperature- not cold but cooling, not warm but comforting- and unexpectedly feeling it splash your hot feet is a sensation akin to petting a cat’s belly. It’s quite a treat.

DonSUP

It was easy to lose track of time while we were out on the water with the trade winds blowing and the sunshine shining, and after several hours of fun, my shoulders were aching and my legs were tired. The really great thing about paddle boarding, aside from the fresh air, a chance to work on my tan, and having turtles bobbing around you, is that it is a full body workout; shoulders propel you along, your core muscles keep you upright, and your legs and butt help to stabilize you. If you are going to give SUPing a try, I’d like to make one recommendation: reapply your sunscreen more frequently than you think you should. While we were discovering a refreshing alternative to the traditional gym workout, Don and I underestimated the strength of the sun and we got a burn as a keepsake to remind us of our fun weekend!

landscape