Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments and understanding regarding my bloggy break. It was great to disconnect for a little while, although kind of hard at first. For awhile now, I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed by trying to keep up with the social networking whirl (in addition to the craziness of life in general): Twitter + Facebook + social networking sites + blog reading + blog commenting + oh, yeah, guess I'd better update my own blog once in awhile...oh my. Definitely need to scale back a bit. So when my iPhone had zero service during the first few days of vacation, I felt it was a sign that I really needed to completely disconnect and pay attention to my family and to enjoying our vacation.
Yep, you read that right! We went to the beautiful island of Kauai! We are total Hawaiian island addicts. When I'm getting a blood draw or having my blood pressure taken or trying to fall asleep at night, I retreat to my happy place: I see the swaying palm trees and blue-green water; hear the trees rattle, the waves splash, and doves coo-ing; smell the breeze with its scent of plumeria and sea; feel the balmy air; taste a fruity rum drink. (When I'm in spin class or on the treadmill, though, it's the opposite: I envision the aptly named "a'a" lava fields on the Big Island on the road between Kailua-Kona and Hawi. ;-) I might even chant "Ko-NA! Ko-NA" under my breath. Thank goodness spin class has really LOUD music.) We try to get out there every couple of years or so. It had been almost two years since our last trip, so we were more than ready. And to think, before my first trip nearly 20 years ago, I scoffed at Hawaii as being too touristy and overrated. I stood utterly and humbly corrected from day 1. Yes, it has its touristy parts. But, for me, it nearly always lives up to its reputation of being a place of beauty, wonder, and the most fun ever. Well, there was one exception: on a trip 10 years ago, we did have one miserable night wandering around Kona in the heat and vog (fog+volcanic fumes), having elected to bump our flight in lieu of first class tickets on the red-eye later that evening.
So anyhow, here are a few scenes from our trip this time. Hurray for our kids' school district for scheduling a week of vacation at a time when all the other schools in the nation are having only Presidents Day!
View from the patio of the hotel snack bar, overlooking the Hikinaakala Heiau (sacred site, dedicated to the rising sun) and the beach at Lydgate Park.
Thing 1 enjoying the sun and sand at Tunnels Beach, on the north shore (where the surf is beautiful but generally much too rough for swimming during the winter months)...
...likewise Thing 2... ("South Pacific" was filmed in Kauai. Did she just wash that man right outta her hair?)
...and Mr. Handsome-and-Handy and myself! (I'll be keeping this man in my hair, thank you very much!)
Our hotel was ideally situated, right next door to the beach and the large playground. The main buildings are a bit old, but the duplex cottages were just right for us. We fixed our own food for most meals, eating out about once per day. It's not the sort of place we'd have stayed at without kids, but it was perfect for a family vacation.
The weather there was cooler than we're used to in Hawaii, but compared to just about anywhere else in the country, the 70s were looking pretty inviting. It wasn't too cold to swim, although the ocean water was warmer than the hotel pool! We did lots of swimming at the beach at Lydgate: it has a boulder-enclosed pool of ocean water, refreshed by surf breaking over the rocks. This time, it was 4' at its deepest, and it still had lots of fish. (Not quite the variety I saw last time, but it was a different time of year.) Things 1 & 2 are much better swimmers now, so they finally got to see what Mom's enthusiasm was about regarding snorkeling. Thing 2 didn't take to it much, but Thing 1 enjoyed herding the fish.
We took a little trip up to the north shore, which gets more rain and is typically more tropical-looking than the rest of the island. The beaches are reputed to have pounding surf in the winter, and this year was no exception. We saw a surfer go out at Tunnels and come back with a broken board. Crazy. We enjoyed the sand and had fun exploring the dry cave across the road. (Got a brief peek at the wet cave further down the road; the lot was packed with cars.) For swim time that day, we chose Anini Beach. It's supposed to have great snorkeling and the surf breaks way out on the reef, so the beach doesn't have a lot of wave action, but there was this wicked current parallel to the shore. It was like trying to swim against a quickly moving river. Humbling, because I consider myself to be a strong (if not fast) swimmer. Thank goodness it was shallow enough to stand up and walk through, and it was going parallel to shore rather pulling people out to sea. I only saw one shy little pufferfish lurking in the rocks, but they're my favorites, so that worked.
Health-wise, I did pretty good. I didn't track foods and ate a little more than usual, but I also moved around quite a lot. I did have a few bites of totally worthy items my family was eating: Hula pie, Lappert's ice cream, some ridiculously fudgey cake, bakery macadamia chocolate chip cookie. (At restaurants we shared desserts, because they served such enormous portions.) Overall, my blood glucose numbers were generally good and my weight stayed the same, so I'm content. (Today's a1c will provide a good summary of how the last three months went overall; the meter provides valuable "snapshots" in time, but the a1c provides a more accurate picture of the average.)
Oh, and at one restaurant in Kapaa that has one wall of the building completely open air and facing the beach, we saw whales in the distance. Mostly little puffs from their blowholes, but we also saw them breaching! I've always wanted to see that, and I wished we'd brought the binoculars, so that we could have seen them more closely.
Race Report: Captain Cook Caper - the 5K that turned into 10K! (2/20/2010)
Isn't it funny? While I fully enjoyed the delights of the week, one of my favorite parts of vacation was the opportunity to run a 5K race in Kauai. I had packed my running gear, and idly hoped that there was some sort of running race during our trip out there. Lo and behold, when I cracked open the Hawaiian Airlines magazine during our flight and perused the events in Kauai, sure enough, there it was: a fun run! The "Captain Cook Caper." (Don't you just love that name?) 2K, 5K, and 10K distances! Hurray!!!
Next time, though, I should wish a little more specifically for the race to be closer: the race was an hour's drive, and on-site registration opened at 5:30 a.m. YAWN!!! I was up at 4:30, got dressed and slathered on bug repellent and some sunscreen, and headed down to Waimea. Driving in Kauai at that hour can be a little maddening...well, at any hour really; you really have to watch the speed limit signs, because they seem to change from 25 mph to 50 mph and points in between every half mile or so. Not much scenery at that hour, either. But I made it to Waimea Plantation Cottages and paid my registration for the 5K. I decided to run the 5K instead of the 10K because I had a sprint triathlon the following weekend. I received my 2nd most treasured race t-shirt*...and oh, thank goodness: there was coffee, and lots of it! It was an incredibly starry morning...I wandered around and enjoyed the view upward until it was time to go. (*What's my most treasured race shirt? I was wearing it: my See Jane Run 5K's "I Run for Chocolate and Champagne" technical shirt...it's a great conversation starter at races, and so functional.)
Race organizers 'fessed up that there were more on-site registrations than they had expected, and there was not enough shuttle bus space to the starting lines. They mentioned something about driving people to their cars after the race, so I figured as one of the latecomers, I should do my part and drive myself out there.
I arrived a few minutes before the start, just enough time to snap a few photos. And then, it was ON! The race was along the highway, which bordered a beautiful stretch of beach most of the way. The sun rose as we ran. Lots of families and friends ran together, talking and laughing along the way, so fun to see and hear. I felt so strong in this race, and incredibly grateful to be racing! In Kauai! On a beautiful day! Does life get any better?
I kept pace behind this one fast guy for probably the first mile, then he started pulling ahead. I passed people, got passed, chugged along. I think it was around mile 2 when it started seeming like we'd never get to the finish. But then, we neared the grounds of the resort. I wasn't sure how much to pour it on, not knowing exactly where the finish line was. I kind of wished I'd kicked it up a few notches when we got to the grassy area. Some people stopped running when we got to the driveway, but I kept running until I passed a guy that said, "Walk! This is the finish!" Oh. Okay. I'm glad I tracked it with my RunKeeper app; when I stopped it after the finish, it was 31:56. My best time (post-age 40) was 31:55 in the See Jane Run 5K last spring, so this was at least equal, if not better by a second or two. Either way, I felt fantastic. And hungry! It had been several hours since I had eaten. Luckily, the resort restaurant was having a race day special breakfast buffet. I ate an embarrassing amount of bacon and these little spicy sausages, along with some eggs (meh) and a dab of hashbrowns (meh) and some fruit (oh holy yum, it tasted so sweet and good).
So I waited around after breakfast for results, but it turns out they were planning to post them at the festival around noon that day, and I wasn't going to be around. The race officials said that the results would also be posted on the West Kauai Business and Professional Association web site; I'm a little bummed that they haven't been posted there. (Silly of me, I know, because it was a fun race and I know I ran well, for me. I'm just racing geek enough to be into the results.)
After awhile of waiting around some more for the awards announcements, which were running late, I started feeling antsy to get going back. The race staff was busy and I felt kind of silly to ask about getting a ride to the car, actually, since it was a lovely morning and the car was only 3 miles away. Plus, I had eaten a breakfast worthy of a full day of manual labor. Definitely had to move some more. So I hoofed it back, a combination of jogging and walking, which took about 40 minutes, and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery back to Kapaa.
At the 5K starting line.
Sun not quite up yet...much of our run was along the road, with a view of this beautiful beach.
The race finish was at the Waimea Plantation Cottages, on these beautiful grounds. The lobby is that building in the distance.
"Um, excuse us, did you say something about a sprint triathlon?"
Yes. Yes I did. I completed the 2010 Stanford Treeathlon last Sunday (2/28). Unfortunately, I don't have time at the moment to do justice to that thrilling tale. So stay tuned for the race report later this week!