I am beyond fortunate to live in a land where we have freedom to travel and explore. This thought of feeling fortunate stokes a memory of a former runner I coached during my time at Clark College when he was pulled over for running in his native hometown of Oaxaca, Mexico. The authorities thought he was a “crazy man” running the streets and they couldn’t imagine why anyone would run for fun.
Personally, running new areas allows me to explore cultures more intimately. Running streets that have been in place before the turn of the 20th century, communicating with the locals through running when I don’t speak their native language, learning their values when reading the signs along the roadway to abide by the local rules, all further my passion for sustaining the ability to perform something so easy, yet so hard – running.
Yesterday, after planning with Kaci to pick me up after my point-to-point run, I ran 17 miles along the NW side of Maui along Highway 30 & 340. The humidity and heat were getting the best of me, even though I departed at 6am. Ill-prepared, I trudged along, checking Life360 regularly to see if Kaci had left our condo to pick me up. In addition to the tropical feel, the hills were relentless. As a columnist once wrote in an article on ESPN.com about the Newton Hills of the Boston Marathon, the hills of Maui were similar in that they truly are a “steady dose of middle fingers,” or something to that effect. Thankfully, at around mile 15, a native man on the side of the road was setting up a roadside canopy to sell dried fruit and water. Talk about timing, this was literally in the middle of nowhere along a mostly deserted road. I approached his booth, and in retrospect, I may have looked like the crazy man running, similar to Manuel in Oaxaca. No matter, the generous man encouraged me to try his dried fruit, and even offered me a water. Feeling sufficiently refreshed, estimating Kaci was roughly 30-minutes away at this point, I marched on for another few miles, continuing to be amazing by the beautiful views the Pacific Ocean off the north coast of Maui. On cue, Kaci picked me up at 17.4 miles, and along the way home, I stopped by the booth for an abundance of dried fruit, and to, again, express my gratitude toward a stranger who trusted a crazy man who said, “I promise to come back and buy some dried fruit!”
In addition to the 17-mile long run, in the days since our arrival in Lahaina, I’ve ran 7 miles south, 4 miles east, and I even had the privilege to run a few miles with Lauren, who was staying in a resort in Wailea. Exploring these regions, smelling the countless aromas, hearing the different languages, and feeling the variations in the pathways and roadways, provides a break from my traditional running, where it’s always a grind, always timed, always measured, always assessed. Running should have seasons of volume and intensity, ebbs and flows, and even vacations. Vacation running as a break from typical running I suppose. And on that note, it’s time for a run, albeit of the vacation sort.