Searching for Tolerable Training

Hawaii 005 We headed to the North Shore of Oahu just before Christmas. I was hoping for a week in the “country” with some nice cycling and running through the woods, but by December 26th I was nearly in tears with frustration over poor training opportunities. It seemed to me that, contrary to what one would expect, the kelly-green bumper stickers pleading “keep the country country” and the black and white ones claiming “HE>I” were sure signs of people who would gladly commit vehicular homicide just to chase cyclists off their precious, traffic-ridden, pothole-speckled, shoulder-less highway. The park and cane haul roads I used to run on when I was living at my uncle’s house are now cluttered with “no trespassing” signs and some jerk in a big van drives around threatening people with $500 fines if they pass the gates. And lastly, the pool was closed for lap swim for the entire four day weekend while the ocean was plagued with 40ft waves. For a guy who likes to train all day, life sucked.

[above: My K-Swiss Keahou’s started off sparkling clean before this run…]

In my last post, I mentioned a run… I spent Christmas Day with my cousin 11 miles down the road from Sunset Beach and decided to ignore a few “no trespassing” signs (which became increasingly threatening – “trespassers will be prosecuted” to “Explosives, stay away”, to “if you come in, we’ll shoot you.” – but who would kill me on Christmas?). Shortly after that last sign the road curved into thick Hawaiian jungle with flora so thick I could only see 10 meters max in any direction. All around me were the sounds of a living forest: birds, bugs, wild pigs, and all the delicate rustling of millions of plants dancing in the breeze.

I found a dirt bike trail that wound its way up the side of a mountain, and I figured it would be nice to get away from civilization and let myself relax for a bit. It was a Christmas present to myself. I ran up, and up, and up, and then up some more – stopping at every opening in the thick green jungle to admire the breathtaking views. My Garmin 310xt told me that I was around 1000 ft above sea level, climbing up a ridge into the Hauula Forest Reserve. At one point I was on a portion of the ridge with cliffs on both sides and no trees nearby when a helicopter came right towards me. “Oh man, if they sent a helicopter I must be in really deep trouble,” I thought. It went right over the top of me, then turned around and came right back to me before flying off into the distance. Figuring that if they were looking for me I was already screwed, I kept climbing, unsure of how far the ridge would take me. I was covered in mud from scrambling up dirt cliffs, and slipping down a few gnarly sections of “trail”, and my legs were scratched from pushing through some knee high shrubs, but for the most part it looked like someone had actually cleaned the trail quite recently. Just when I thought there was no possible way for a dirt bike to get through the technical section behind me I saw fresh motorcycle tracks cut into the red dirt. I kept running, and scrambling upwards until the trail suddenly disappeared. A few more strides and I found out why – there was a 200ft vertical drop directly in front of me and on both sides. The next ridge over had a path that kept going into the forest, but there was no way to get to the next ridge without going all the way back down. I was 3.5 miles in, and it had taken me 45 hard minutes to get there – this would have to be the end of my journey.

The helicopter must have been an island tour, because I never saw a single person during my run. Also, on the way out I was determined to find a route to the forest that didn’t involve disobeying so many signs. I took a few random turns, and used the GPS “bread-crumb” feature of my Garmin Forerunner 310xt to make sure I was headed in the right direction (a few times I got completely turned around – it’s really hard to find your way through thick rain-forest like that). Eventually I succeeded. I ended up coming out of a the trail right behind a Mormon church just a couple miles down from my cousin’s house. I immediately downloaded the route to Garmin Connect to show my cousin, then spent a while trying figure out how to embed the Google map into my blog. Apparently that feature will be in the February update of Garmin Connect, which is probably good because posting a map of where I was trespassing onto the internet is not necessarily a great idea.

With this little adventure under my belt, I headed back to the North Shore with a new determination to find my way off the beaten path – those adventures will be the subject of my next few posts.

Published by Ben

Ben Collins Professional Triathlete

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