Forgive me runners, for I have sinned.
It’s been three weeks since my last real run, a five-miler with Steve and a dear runner-friend in California on March 24. I managed one easy downhill jog on our last full day in Hawaii on April 8 (it was so short, we didn’t even time it) and one 30-minute slog around Travis Air Force Base while waiting for a flight back to D.C. on Wednesday night. All told, I went two and a half weeks without running.
I would like to blame it all on the fact that an early-trip, post-beach-day hike led to the most insane blood blisters I’ve ever experienced on both feet, making running prohibitively painful (public health announcement: be really, really certain you’ve wiped all the sand off your feet before lacing up your hiking boots).
But the truth is, I’ve been worshipping other gods, those of cross-training. I did not let the blisters prevent me from donning hiking boots again to journey through a volcanic crater in Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park, or along the unpopulated tip of the North Shore of Oahu, or to the remote green-sand beach at the southernmost point of the United States, or on a number of other incredible hikes we did.
The blisters also didn’t stop me from squeezing my feet into flippers to snorkel in Hanouma Bay Wildlife Preserve, or from wearing sand-filled water shoes for hours on end to SUP in Waikiki, Pulilau, Bellows and pretty much everywhere else we went. (I might be a little obsessed with stand-up paddleboarding now.)
As you can see, I wasn’t exactly laying around—just not running.
I swam, unafraid to be the only cap-and-goggle-wearing geek at posh, tourist-filled Waikiki (and believe me: I was definitely the only cap-and-goggle-wearing geek at Waikiki).
I paddled, skipping a potential blister-free run day early in the trip trying to keep up with a canoe full of Marines who invited us along on their Polynesian-style paddling journey around Kaneohe Bay.
I surfed, catching a few waves in the shadow of Diamond Head.
And I spent a lot of time staring at the water, letting the 25-foot waves on Oahu’s North Shore and the gentle swells on the island’s leeward side lull me into a deep, meditative state. I could spend the rest of my life watching waves pound against volcanic rock on the Big Island, shown below.
Was I subconsciously trying to sabotage my training for the New Jersey Half Marathon on May 5, which I’ve been cramming for thanks to my broken-elbow-rehab hiatus in February? Maybe. I still haven’t given up on the idea of the race, and think I’ll at least commit to running it until the 6.5-mile point, the relay changeup point (does it still count as a relay leg if I don’t pass the baton to anybody else?).
Or maybe I was subconsciously trying to boost my elbow rehab. All that stand-up paddleboarding and swimming had a completely amazing effect on my elbow—though it felt incredibly sore and swollen immediately after each workout, I woke up each day with more strength and mobility. As of today, my last post-op doctor appointment, I’m happy to say that my mobility is back to 100 percent, with my strength not far behind.
Or maybe I was just giving my heart what it needed: A period of calm to rebound from the pain and chaos of the past few months (or past few years, for that matter). In that sense, the trip was a big, beautiful success.
If you have the chance to go to Hawaii, go. Before this trip, I understood its Technicolor beauty and aloha spirit only in the most cartoonish form. Now that I know how gorgeous and rugged the islands are, and how kind and loving its residents are, and how amazingly delicious the pineapple, coffee, chocolate and fresh fish are, I’m amazed I found the willpower to actually get on a plane to head home.
But here I am. I’m ready to get back to regular showers (did I mention that we camped on the beach for large parts of the trip?) and working at desks rather than C-17s (did I mention that we took advantage of the military’s Space-A flights to get there and back?). I’m ready to start again.