Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kailua Beach Day

My trip to Hawaii is nearly over and we haven't been to the beach yet! So last night I suggested ot Christina that we take the kids to the beach in the morning, spend all morning, get them good and tired, have lunch, then let them nap. And that's exactly what we did!

We loaded the two kids, towels, tent, chair, and headed to the beach.


Christina and Trevor headed down to the waterfront and I put Marissa into this cool little pup-tent under a tree to see if she'd nap.


Of course she didn't so she and I went down to the water to play, as well. I dipped her toes into the Pacific Ocean.

A little bit of playing around and Marissa started looking sleepy so Christina sat with her, see if she'd take a little nap, which she did.


Trevor and I played in the gentle waves, wrote letters in the sand, dug a hole to see if we could find Texas.

This is such a gorgeous beach park in Kailua, and it's only steps away from my son's house.


A young Japanese couple were playing in the waves nearby. They spent an inordinate amount of time setting their camera up on self-timer and trying to catch themselves in a mid-air leap. It took them several attempts to catch both of them in the air at the same time. Meanwhile, in the comfort of my beach chair, I was able to get a good shot, plus all of the miss-timed shots made for amusing entertainment for me and them!

Some "chillin'" time with Marissa and Trevor:

At one point, while Christina and Trevor were out in the water, a large sea turtle swam up behind them. I got Christina's attention and pointed the turtle out to her. She and Trevor were able to walk along side the turtle for quite a distance as it swam parallel to the beach.


Trip to Hawaii and visit with son and his family is almost over. Tomorrow evening I fly back to Texas. But it's been a really great visit: Plenty of time with Christina, Trevor, and Marissa, not enough time with son Jeremy, though.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hop to Maui for the Weekend and a Race

I've been to Maui just one other time, when my late husband Frank and I took Jeremy there as a high school graduation present. One thing we started to do, but aborted due to rain and tough road conditions, was drive to Hana. So this trip I plan check that off my list of things to do.

By 9:30 AM I was in my rental car and heading out of the airport and onto route 36 which becomes Hana Road. It starts out tame and finishes with a flourish of switch-backs and one-car-wide little bridges.


With a moderate amount of putzing and stopping for photos, I arrived in the teeny, tiny little town of Hana at 11:30 AM. I had read somewhere that the best plan is to have lunch at Hana Ranch Restaurant. It sits across the tiny little dead-end street that is the center of Hana. The restaurant is a beautiful mix of indoor and outdoor seating, historic old architecture and quaint island-style patios.


My lunch was a Teriyaki burger but that was simply decorum and prelude to the main attraction: Macadamia nut pie, topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. Oh my!!

Full and satisfied, I browsed a bit in the two tiny little shops that comprise Hana, buying a couple of postcards, sitting outside under a large tree to write notes and address them, then stepping into the tiny little post office to mail them.


Now it was time to reverse my route, tackle the Hana road from the opposite, scarier, i.e. on the cliff side of the road, direction and head back toward Kahului then south on 380 then west toward Lahaina and then Kaanapali.


When I drove the road toward Hana, there was hardly any traffic coming the other way...a very good thing. It allowed me to drive at or below the posted speed limits (mostly 15 mph) and to enjoy the scenery, slow down when I wanted to gawk, and take photos while underway or pull over suddenly if I spied a good view.

Now, heading back west, the oncoming traffic was heavy and nervewracking. Large pickup trucks hogged much of the two lanes, cars and trucks took blind right-handed curves wide, causing me to slam on my brakes, drivers failed to obey the yield signs when approaching the one-lane bridges and section of road. So I took my time, yielded even when I had the right-of-way, and pulled over when someone was tailgating me. I let a motorcycle go ahead of me, because I knew he could take the curves much faster than I could and would be able to share the road with oncoming traffic in the sections where the road was only 1 1/2 lanes wide. I was in no hurry!

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I had snagged an unbelievably good rate at the very luxurious Hyatt Regency hotel in Kaanapali, a senior rate that included the full breakfast buffet each morning. It was located an easy walk to the start line of the Maui Half Marathon, in a row of luxury hotels along the beach in Kaanapali.

Once checked in, I took a walk over to Whaler's Village, an upscale shopping and restaurant complex next to the Westin Hotel where the pre-marathon fitness expo was being held. Here is where I picked up my race packet (racing bib and other info), bought a Maui marathon t-shirt and running cap and chatted with a very interesting woman who was selling cute t-shirts to benefit children's advocacy programs and would be in Houston for the fitness expo prior to Houston's marathon. I promised her I'd find her and say hi again.

Now it was time to kick back and "chill" a bit. The resort was spectacular! Several open-air restaurants to choose from, a terrific bistro for sunset viewing, and lush, lush grounds filled with all sorts of exotic birds. I savored a glass of wine while sitting in front of the fire pit at the little bistro, while watching the sun go down.



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Saturday I partook of the killer breakfast buffet at the Swan Court restaurant at the Hyatt (all included in my room rate). But afterward I was restless, even though I needed to stay off my feet as much as possible and stay hydrated. So in the morning I walked back over to Whaler's Village and did some shopping for kids and grandkids, and did a little people-watching for a while.

I went back to the hotel, put on a swimsuit and sun dress and walked over to the poolside restaurant Umil to have lunch: Goat cheese with roasted garlic and a bowl of chicken quesadilla soup. I wanted to keep it as light as possible and this was the best I could find on the menu. Everything looks so good, so rich, there is nothing "budget" or "no-frill" at this hotel!! And that includes the food!

With a book in hand, I spent some time on my room balcony reading, but got so heavy-lidded I had to go inside and take a nap! But this is a good thing! Feet elevated, a few zzz's the day before a long race.

I noticed at lunch that they had a sushi bar at that same poolside restaurant so I went down and ordered an ahi tuna roll and, from the little deli area, picked up a container of fresh strawberries and made a dinner out of it.

Alarm set for 4:30 AM, I settled in with the book until I could no longer keep my eyes open.

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Race day!! I was easily awake before the alarm went off (since I'm still a little stuck on CDT 8 days later). I'd laid out my running clothes and everything I'd need the night before so I didn't have to think too much, just work my way through the pile until nothing remained.

Out of my room and into the hushed stillness of the atrium and to the elevator. Outside it was pitch black, except for the small lights high up in the trees, sending down their faint illumination onto the stone walkway that took me off the Hyatt grounds and toward Whaler's Village and the start line.

It's a small race - 3,500 participant cap between the full and half marathons. The full marathon start line is on the north side of West Maui, near Kahului. The runners would come down 380 to 30 and north to finish in Kaanapali. The last 6.5 miles of their route covers the same ground as the half-marathon route, which is an out-and-back loop down highway 30, through Lahaina to Ukumehame Beach State Park. Here we turn around and then head back north to Kaanapali and the finish line.

So the field of half marathon runners is very small. The whole event had that home-town, home-grown feel about it. No racing chips, just old-fashioned tear-off bib tabs and a stop-watch would mark our official ending time. No hoopla before the start, except a Hawaiian fire dance and then next thing I knew, we were off running!

The first couple of miles were run in the dark, but then the skies began to lighten up and we could start to make out the ocean on our immediate right. Temperatures were comfortably pleasant but there was barely a breeze.

The route then headed off of the highway and into historic Lahaina Town, past the little homes and shops that hug the narrow little road. Tiny little pocket parks were tucked in between the buildings, offering fleeting glimpses of the water. Once south of Lahaina, the race route rejoined highway 30 south for another 3 miles to the turn-around point.

It was a slight downhill grade the entire way from Kaanapali to this turnaround point. On the return leg between this point and Lahaina, I was surprising myself with the ease by which I was running up this grade. I have no opportunity to do hill work at home. However, the sun was getting high in the sky and temperatures were soaring.

As we passed back through Lahaina Town, I savored what little shade there was. The last leg - between Lahaina and Kaanapali was open and shadeless as it ran along the ocean for those last 3 or so miles to the finish line. Along this stretch my legs began to give out. I knew that I'd used up much of them in that first return leg of uphill running. I stopped running, but kept up a good walking pace, still reeling in walkers and runners ahead of me.

I knew that my walking pace was only a couple of minutes per mile slower than my running pace, so I knew it wouldn't hurt my time too much if I didn't do too much of it. But I found it hard to get going again once I'd stopped running and started walking. Not until I made that last turn into Kaanapali and was about 1 mile from the finish line was I able to resume running again. By now I could tell the temperatures were well into the 80's, made only worse by the fact that there was absolutely no breeze. Having been training in these kinds of temps, I have acquired a bit of a built-in thermometer. So I knew it was getting hot!!


I crossed the finish line at 2:52 by my watch, a minute or two shorter than the official race clock time. That difference is attributed to the length of time it took for the pack of runners to get across the start line...and I always position myself near the back of the pack at races. It keeps me from getting "run over" by other runners and lets me find my own "groove" without undue and dangerous influence from other runners near me to start out too quickly.

Given the heat and humidity, I'm happy with this time...it's only 3 minutes slower than my 2010 Houston half-marathon time or, in other words, only a 13 second per mile slower pace, and I did some walking in this race, something I didn't do in the Houston event. I felt strong for the better part of the race - more than 10 miles or so - and let myself give in a little to the heat and uphill only in a couple of the last 3 miles.



This afternoon I get back on a plane to return to Oahu and my son's family. Maybe we'll stop on the way home from the airport, pick up some poke and some wine to celebrate!

Arriving on Oah'u to visit family

It's a tough job but someone's got to do it! Visiting son and family on the island of Oah'u for 12 days...such a tough life!

Actually, the hardest part, for me anyway, is the dreadfully long flight over there from Houston. 8 1/2 hours if there's not much headwind, as much as 11 hours if the headwind is strong. I find it really hard to sit in one place for that long!! Even with a first-class seat on Continental.



But - finally - the wheels touched down in Honolulu and son and granddaughter were in the baggage claim area to greet me. Finally! I got to meet my precious little granddaughter for the first time! She is just a little doll!

My daughter-in-law Christina and grandson Trevor were awaiting my arrival back at their house. Hooray! Let the visiting and grandchild spoiling begin!

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Son Jeremy would be working while I'm here, so we had to make the most of the only weekend day we'd have together. Christina had some school work she needed to finish up, so we left her alone and packed the little ones up and headed to the north shore of Oah'u to visit Waimea Beach Park - a beautiful botanical gardens park and waterfall. It was a good opportunity for Trevor to run around a bit and to enjoy the flowers, the koi in the pond, and the peacocks on the grounds.





We then continued on to Haleiwa on Waialua Bay for lunch. It was a funky and tiny little shop with walk-up counter and shaded picnic tables out front. Jeremy and I had Ahi tuna sandwiches while Trevor had a hot dog. We had a visiting feral chicken come check us out, particularly little Marissa who was in her car seat which we'd set on the ground next to us.




Along the route between the park and lunch, we drove past a beach known for its large sea turtles. Traffic was crawling along as we all gawked at the beach. We could tell where the turtles were by the groups of people standing on the beach.

After lunch we took an in-land route back to Kailua so that Jeremy could show me the pineapple farms that fill the high plateau between the mountains. It was a pleasant drive and soon we were back in Kailua. A long day, but very pleasant, and long enough to let Christina finish writing her paper for class and to study for her final exam.

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The next few days drifted and lazed along, with the only structure given to it by the needs and wants of the two grandkids. One day it was a trip to the commissary, another it was over to the Pearl Harbor area for a haircut for Trevor. In between were feedings, naps, story time, and meals. All very laid-back. One day, while Trevor was in pre-school, we three girls took the opportunity to go out for lunch at a recommended sushi place. When we picked Trevor up after pre-school, we took him to his favorite playground for some "romping" time.





Soon it was Thursday evening, and the next day Jeremy would drop me off at the airport on his way to work so that I could fly to Maui for the weekend. I'd hoped they could all come with me, spend a nice long weekend built around my running the Maui Half Marathon, but it wasn't to be. Jeremy was unable to get away from work. So with money committed to the marathon entrance fee and hotel and air reservations already made, I went alone.

Tomorrow: Hop over to Maui for a weekend of sightseeing and racing

Friday, September 10, 2010

Precious grandchildren

Before too very long I'll have my arms around my precious new granddaughter, my adorable grandson, and my much-loved son and daughter-in-law...

Far too many miles separate us but I'm going to take care of that obstacle tomorrow.