I’ve been itching for a long run here on Kauai and in fact I’ve been scoping out the possibilities since day one. But getting there has been a process. Running at sea level has made breathing seem effortless in one respect. The humidity however brings other challenges; overheating, being slick with sweat, and running on different surfaces are complications that have slowed me down over the last several days. Not to mention the downpour of rain that I’ve been lucky enough to encounter on each and every run. (It seems to come at 6:15, like clockwork, and lasts for 2-5 minutes and varies from gentle steady drops to an outright deluge.) While rain is refreshing on a run, issues like slippery substrate, chaffing, and increased chances of malfunctioning technology (I always run with my phone and it doesn’t like to get wet), can complicate things. So I’ve built my endurance on this island by degrees this week. We landed on Sunday, being exhausted from travel, I was happy to take short strolls and do some restorative yoga. Monday and Wednesday we spent some time in the fitness room at the resort and I ran an exploratory mile on Monday and two miles on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday I was ready to push it three miles but I was frustrated that I was still running at a slower pace than my usual and wondered how I would ever find the strength for a long run on Kauai.
After we toured Waimea Canyon on Wednesday (which is ridiculously beautiful), by Thursday, after days of touring the island we were both rather tuckered out. We spent the day at the pool and enjoyed a meal close to home. (Highlights of our meal at Josselin’s Tapas were furikake crusted Ono with wasabi aioli and ponzu, tempura rock shrimp served on a bubbling dry ice platter, and cocktails from our bar artist like the Lychee Sangria and the Island Old Fashioned made with an infusion of apple, rosemary, ginger juice with kimchee paste). Having taken it fairly easy on the touristy activities yesterday with the exception of our indulgent supper, we had a little energy after dinner to explore the grounds of the Hyatt. We tried to count how many pools they had and failed. One flows into the next then trickles down a waterfall into a lazy river, whoever designed these water features was a genius!
Perhaps all I needed to stock pile energy for a long run was a day off from my vacation, strange as that sounds. Because when I woke up this morning, I was ready to try for 5 miles, my usual 7 seemed a bit out of reach but I felt ready to leave this little neighborhood of manicured greenbelts and strolling sidewalks and run to the next town to the north, Koloa. About 2 miles in I realized I had forgotten to plan for water but I was approaching a familiar mini mall where we bought our yogurt at the health food store all week. I remembered seeing public bathrooms there and sometimes near the public restrooms there is a water fountain. I made a detour past the deserted shops and was rewarded with ice cold water from the fountain across from the ice cream store around the corner from the bathrooms. Back on the road this route was sometimes on sidewalk, sometimes a red dirt trail, and other times just the shoulder of the highway. A half-mile of trail was punctuated with large snails crossing in droves, so my concentration shifted to not crushing them as I planned my footfalls.
Finally I made it to the cows, a countryside pasture just outside of old town Koloa which I had scoped out on our first drive around the area on Sunday. I thought to myself this Koloa farm is probably only 3 or 4 miles from our condo, I could make it here. (Granted that was before I had tried running on this island.) It seems my estimation was accurate, the cows landed me at 3.5 miles, meaning that when I turned around to run home, I would make my 7 mile long run status. Thrilled that I had finally scored my long run on Kauai, I stopped to snap photos of the cows and chat with them for a moment. This big black cow tossed her head in annoyance and mooed at me which I translated as , “Stop flapping your gums Haole, we’ve got grass to eat here.” Knowing I had overstayed my welcome with the bovine ladies of Koloa, I turned tail and ran home. Back past the snails, shoes smeared in brick red mud, views of the ocean and the green hills, pausing at the drinking fountain to hydrate, back up the hill (which I hadn’t noticed was so much of a hill on the way out), I made it home a little after 7:00 am with 7 miles under my belt and was confronted with a different sort of a challenge.
As Greg, who was up making the coffee, heralded me as looking sporty, I realized I was drenched in sweat and rain, slippery as one of those snails on the trail. Yesterday during our down time, I had done a load of laundry and all of my previously spent running gear was ready to be packed into the suitcase with all of my clean clothes. I realized that packing these disgusting garments, even wrapped in a plastic bag would probably befoul the rest of my clothing. I didn’t want to do a load of laundry to wash 1 pair of jogging shorts, 1 pair of socks, a t-shirt, and a sports bra, that seemed like a waste of water, energy, and time. Greg, ever the problem solver, suggested I just wear them into the shower, give them a good scrub with shower gel and let them dry throughout the day. Thus I did laundry and took a shower in the same breath. What a time saver! I doubt that I’ll make a habit of this back at home, but this is a great travel trick for runners who don’t want to stink up their suitcase as they move from one location to the next.