Friday, May 31, 2013

My way or the highway in Hawaii

On June 9, I will resume my role as a committee member for the 103rd running of the Dipsea – the Greatest Race – a 7.5 mile trail run from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach.

This year’s Dipsea race has attracted competitors from 28 states, including Maine, where I grew up, to Hawaii, where last week I had a scheduled engagement. My business took me to Maui where I stumbled upon a 2.5 mile beachwalk that runs from the Honua Kai to Whaler’s Village, a magnificent flat stretch of boards and concrete that zig-zags between pristine golden sand of Kaanapali Beach and assorted luxury resorts and condominiums.  To nature lovers, this the equivalent of the garden of Eden.

I rose at dawn to walk the beachwalk, to clearly hear waves rolling into the shore and exotic birds chirping. I could feel the gentle island sea breeze. I could feel the warmth of the rising sun beaming down from the mountains to the west. Finally, my destination produced my destiny: Relaxation!

However, by 6 a.m., I felt trapped. This serene beachwalk suddenly transformed into the Kaanapali 5K. It’s like the night of the living dead suddenly produced a new species of zombies -- morning people equipped with running shoes and a mission to huff and puff up and down the board gazing straight ahead with ear phones from iPods tuned to music. They were completely oblivious to all the wonderful sights and sounds that surrounded them that, I assume, lured them to paradise in the first place.

C’mon, people … Look. Listen. Enjoy. It’s Hawaii!

My space, my sanctity, was interrupted by dozens of runners who were determined to exercise by running on a path designed for walking, maneuvering around a two-lane easement by weaving in and out of foot traffic. I get that they want to be fit, but a leisurely stroll on a five-foot wide beachwalk quickly took on the look and feel of NASCAR going three wide at Talledaga Speedway. I was an everyday Joe going for a spin and they were Ricky Bobby on fire.

I walked this beachwalk for seven consecutive mornings and each day brought more of a challenge. I was forced off the walk by runners running in tandem when single file was more appropriate. The last day I was pushed off the path, veering away a woman who was running behind a stroller stuffed with twin kids. I assumed these were her children unless she was the mother of all nannies.  My kids, when they were that age, were begging me to take them to the pool first thing in the morning, not participate in a car pool for running enthusiasts.

Not once did any of those runners alert me with a voice warning that they were about to pass me before they startled me. Fortunately, I heard them coming. They were sucking wind and pounding the path with shoes that sounded like the Clydesdales clopping down main street. None of them were smiling, another tip-off that they were so focused on moving forward that they ignored all the natural, God-given beauty around them.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is. In my younger days, before lower back problems detoured me to low impact exercise, I may have been running up and down that beachwalk, too.
But when I go to Hawaii I do so with the idea of escaping the stress of everyday life, a vacation where I can jump off the treadmill of reality to relish the relaxation that comes as a reward for the hard work I put in. 

I put on my running shoes and walk, taking time to absorb and appreciate my surroundings without having to work up a sweat.

I like my way better than the highway.


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