Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm back in the saddle again!!! Marathon 2 in sight...

Yes Aerosmith's Back in the Saddle Again is blaring through my head writing this post.  But, I feel like it's time.  I had a full week of running, 25+ miles, and then ran a 5k after walk/jogging a 5k the day before in under 8:00/mi pace this past weekend and have felt hardly any pain or none over the last 3 weeks.  My knee used to be tender to the touch even with a couple days off and now I don't even feel pain when poking and prodding it, so I've decided it's time to set some running goals.

  • First and foremost, I plan on running the ADT (American Discovery Trail) Marathon in Colorado Springs on Labor Day. 
  • I will be doing a half.  I found one that runs along Big Dry Creek in Westy (which I run frequently) called the Dog Days 5k, 10k and Half and believe that is as good of a place to start since I know that area.  I honestly don't care what time I get on that course being as it is narrow and I don't know what the set up will be probably trying for a 1:50 so I can set a personal best and to try to prove to myself I can run a 3:45 marathon or better a little over a month later.
  • Break the 3:45 mark.
  • Run more in the morning and late night.  Only tough part of mornings is getting back before 6:15 so I can make sure I am home before Andi.  I guess I will just have to wake up and get out of bed with a purpose.
  • Run my long runs earlier and different routes so I avoid the heat and to explore the Reunion area more though I have ran many of the roads east of Highway 2 and west of Tower between 88th and 120th.
I ran 11 miles yesterday.  It was in the low to mid 80s.  I felt alright though I wasn't trying to set the world on fire.  A few things I can take from it.  I need many more miles on my legs to get back into Myrtle Beach shape.  I need to get back to 160 to feel comfortable on those long runs and to start running shirtless more.  Under 160 I feel good running and running without a shirt off.  I FEEL those 5-7 extra lbs. otherwise.  My fast/feast diet needs to be implemented twice a week and over the course of a month to get those results.

I am excited to get back to running and that I haven't felt my injury bug.  Let's hope it keeps up.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hawaii gets me running & Aulani Disney Review...

Aloha.  First, a few reasons due to lack of blogging, my knee had kept me from committing to running since the marathon far too often and second, Hawaii was coming up so life was hectic and third I had to enjoy Hawaii before talking about it.  So here it goes:

Well, I went on vacation with my family (which includes my wife, daughter, brother-in-law and his family, other brother-in-law, mother-in-law and her sister) to Hawaii last week May 3-11.  I have found the one state I could live in other than Colorado.  And I am told that the other islands are even more beautiful.  Oh paradise is right!!!  The 9 of us got in on Friday May 3rd around 5:00 HI time.  That night was a whirlwind of grocery shopping (pricy!!!) and just getting unpacked.  We didn't even have time to do more than say wow, this is a gorgeous resort.  Add to that the worse traffic I have been in for a 5 mile stretch and my first impression was eh... we'll see.

I awoke early Saturday and decided to get a run in.  Magical is a good word for the views from my 4-5 mile run that morning.  These are the highlighted views near our resort I got from that run.

 
Yes, isn't that brutal?! 
 
Running wise the good news is my knee felt great (and did the whole trip).  I ran 12 miles on Friday before we left and a total of about 25 miles during the week with a lot of swimming and walking around.  I feel like I am ready to finally jump full steam into training for a marathon and believe ADT on Labor Day is the one I will shoot for.  That said, that is all my running talk for this blog.  The time we had as a family and the sites we saw.  That is what I want to highlight as well as a full Aulani Review.
 
After this site, we enjoyed a day of pool and beach cove near Aulani.  To put into words how well done these two things are is difficult.  They have a great lazy river and kids pool (unfortunately construction was being done at the bigger pool area) as well as kids park and two big kids slides as Sophie would put it.  Our first drinks and family fun was that day.

Unfortunately Sunday was rainy and just not much happened because there was no sunshine throughout the day so we had a relax day to get over some early sun burns for some.

On Monday I visited an area that will live in infamy and rightfully so.  Pearl Harbor is a beautiful place but one of the most significant places in American History.  We were all kind of in awe as most people are the first time they have visited.  My Grandpa Ventura joined the military shortly after that day and I wish he was around still to talk about that day and if it was one of the reasons he joined.  My Grandpa taught many of the men that flew in World War II from home and never saw action across seas but my Great Uncle Bart was in World War II.  World War II is one of the historic events that have fascinated me, Pearl Harbor's significance in the whole thing never really struck my fully until being there.  The site at the USS Arizona Memorial and the live footage and other information around the area was amazing.  My favorite part was seeing the massiveness of a battleship by going onto the USS Missouri and it made me think of my Navy Man Uncle Tim being at the Persian Gulf War when the USS Missouri was used for military use another time.
The wall at the USS Arizona Memorial.  If you look at the left and right, the two little boxes
are names of those that have chose to be buried at sea with their family they lost that fateful day.

The cannons on the USS Missouri

Those things are like hotels on sea with their size and amount of people they can hold, but obviously they had a much more important significance.  The day was long and exhausting but to end at the flight museum was pretty amazing.  Thinking of what happened there and the fact my Grandpa actually flew a few of the planes those men did in war was a nice exclamation.  I ran a quick and sweaty 3 miles with barely any sunlight and chlorine filled eyes.  I was spent.

Tuesday we started with breakfast with our Disney friends at the Makahiki Buffet and it was amazing food and a great morning.  Especially for Sophie who was all atwitter about Goofy and Minnie and Mickey encounters.
Sophie with her friend Mickey before breakfast

We enjoyed another day at the Cove and swimming pool.  This is when our worse sun burns hit the group (I had minor ones that just turned into a good tan and very light peeling throughout so I got lucky, no blisters for me!) so Wednesday we relaxed and hung out around the pool some more and in the shade.  We watched Cinderella from the patios of my brother-in-laws rooms and ended the night with a great couple rounds of drinks with my brother-in-law Barry, (and former CU Buff football player), and his friend Sam that played with him at CU for 3 of the 5 years he was there.  Anyone that has played team sports and really embraced it knows the family atmosphere they have and I have seen through my brother-in-law that when you really bust your ass at the next level that camaraderie and family atmosphere is even better.  It was fun listening to stories of their friends from the team and life experiences.  Sam is a native to Oahu and as I saw with almost all of the natives and have experienced with the couple encounters I've had with some I met here through Barry's CU playing days, they are loving, friendly and exude a positive way of life with electrifying smiles and warmness.
Barry, Sam and Barry's son Jayden

Thursday was... you'll see.  I awoke pretty tired from not getting to bed until close to midnight.  We got out on the road around 8:45 and maybe it was for the better because we avoid the traffic of the heart of Oahu.  We drove to North Shore to start the day.  It felt like we were in a new world suddenly.  It was desolate, the industrial/commercialized Honolulu was not in site and it was like driving through the most beautiful mountains and vegetation that I've ever seen.  It was an amazing rainforest.  We saw some of the coolest pine tries that I have ever seen.  I wish I was running that route instead of driving it so I could have taken in its beauty and got some pictures of it.  It was magical.  North Shore matched it's majestic views.  There was small waves due to the time of year but they were the most powerful waves I have ever seen or been in.  The shore lines were as high as 40 feet elevation gain I'd say and maybe more on Sunset Beach closest to the Pipeline.  Here is a view from Laniakea Beach/aka Turtle Beach.
At the far left you can see some of the cliffs near the Northwest of Oahu and some of the strong waves and vastness of ocean across to a nice little group of palm trees for this beach cove.



Some of the best views of the ocean but of the valleys towards the mountains of Oahu was from the curve near Waimea Bay Beach.  I saw one of the coolest views that was like that out of some fantasy movie where the image sticks in my head in slow motion with these immense wind turbines spinning.  I don't even want to put a picture here for fear you won't get the vibe I am describing.  If I find a picture in the other cameras people were using I'll put it on here later.

After Waimea Beach was a no go (due to parking), it was on to Waikiki.  This was the only time during vacation that the family had one of our meltdowns.  The drive in sucked because we took Hwy 92 in and had to go through 30 minutes of stop and go lights.  Sophie had to pee and we could not find a public parking place anywhere.  It was brutal!  I couldn't find a place after looping a few blocks and decided rather than any more issues I'd let the ladies find a place on the beach.  Only problem was, the other half of our group was 2 miles the other way on the west side of Waikiki Beach.  So we all had to walk a mile plus to meet up in the middle.  It was hot, there were a ton of people and we were all frustrated with not being able to find a place to park.  I had no idea where the  other half parked so I parked another half mile away from them.  Fortunately we all cooled down once we met up and even though none of us were big fans of Waikiki Beach, we all just got along after that.  Then we went back to the vehicles and changed so we could have dinner at the last place my in-laws had dinner at in Waikiki and a Kunkel family staple for vacation, Margaritaville!  After an hour of shopping and walking the mile to Margaritaville, we waited for sunset that I missed due to Sophie needing a bathroom break and then went to dinner. Waikiki continued to give us issues.  It was an uncomfortable heat for the first time all vacation, it was loud with a live band and two of the people got sick and we all felt like shit.  The 3 men decided to hike back to the cars rather than all of us.  It was a nightmare.  I compare it to a Tokyo mixed with Las Vegas.  It was uncomfortable.  Then after getting to our cars and having a dead phone, the night was starting to get interesting.  I was lost and so were my brother-in-laws.  Fortunately I found the street I was on BARELY in the corner of a zoomed in area of Waikiki and managed us back to where the rest of our party waited.  I was relieved to be on the road, but Waikiki threw another punch of detours for the direct routes to where we needed to exit.  We got in past 10 sometime, all exhausted and wanting to just be in bed.  No offense to anyone that loves Waikiki but the beaches and the congestion of that area is awful and none of us were fans of it.  Maybe if we were staying there and had a hotel nearby, but after seeing many better beaches that day and during other vacations, I rate the pigeon infested, dirty beaches of Waikiki as my least favorite ever.

Friday I awoke wanting to forget the hectic nature of the day before.  I woke around 6 and was ready to try out my knee and do my first run in double digits since Myrtle Beach Marathon and first run over 5 miles.  I ran it smart and slow and went 12 miles without a problem.  If there was a trail that ran along the west side of Oahu, I would have explored that but there was enough trail and beautiful sites in the Ko Olina (name of little area Aulani sits in) and along the coves of Ko Olina to get 12 miles.  It was a great way to start the last full day there.  The rest of the day was beach and poolside to get our last major sun.  It was a great day finished with beautiful pictures around sunset at the Cove we spent so much time and then dinner at the buffet.  I pigged out after not eating much that day and after my long run, I figured I hardly go to buffets and especially ones with fresh pineapple and so many delicious choices.  I learned I can only handle raw fish that has rice around it and that oysters taste like the saltwater they live in and are not my thing.



  

 



 


Saturday was depressing.  It is the first time I have left a place and was so sad to go.  I hate leaving Florida when we go because I enjoy it but I am exhausted.  This felt like a vacation with all the relaxing we did and not running around.  I wish we had seen more of Oahu and had a chance to visit the less populated islands but hopefully that can be done another time.  We needed a vacation to relax after every one being so go-go-go in life, it was nice to relax at one of the most well done resorts I have ever seen.  That review will follow shortly.  The drive to the airport worked out well on Saturday and we had a smooth 7 hour flight back.  We all crashed when we finally made it home and the four hour time change is brutal.  I'd hate to live in the Eastern time zone and have to come back.

Overall, it was a magical place to visit.  It was paradise.  It was tropical.  It was gorgeous.  It left us saying we have to come here again.  CU plays Hawaii in 2.5 years and I am hoping we can go again.  We are all blessed my mother-in-law Julie took us on such a vacation.  We all couldn't afford it at this time and she didn't make us pay for much and tried to pay for everything.  She does a lot for our family and I am appreciative of it immensely.  I also thought many times how this vacation may have not happened or been years down the road if my father-in-law Zane was still around.  That made me pretty sad.  On the other side, Zane always wanted to see his family happy and enjoying themselves and loved the vacations we had.  I am sure he was smiling heavily upon us and I am thankful to him as well.  I feel blessed. 

My favorite part of vacation was watching Sophie and her excitement meeting the Disney characters and her on the slides.  She did a great job on the plane rides and is a total thrill seeker like her dad.  The 3 of us got to relax a little bit and I enjoyed spending a week in paradise with Andi and Sophie with all of our family.

  


 


Tanned on North Shore


Showing some sun
Not tan at the first day


My beautiful wife on our last night at Disney
 
It would not be fair to not give the Aulani Disney Resort some major props.  I saw all of the surrounding resorts and while they were beautiful and had their own cool things like the JW Marriott next door having hammerhead shark and Sting Ray pools next door, the total amenities at Aulani and the look and feel made you feel part of the culture.  From the natives that I met or heard conversations of, they have major props that they give the resort.  Disney perfected this place to give it a tie to the culture of Hawaii's native people.  The only way you knew you were in a Disney resort is seeing Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Stitch and Chip and Dale hanging around.  The swimming area is relaxing, but super fun.  The beach cove is super laid back but also ocean feeling enough with it's deep waters and solid, but not immense currents.  I did not find anything to complain about.  The view was amazing, the lazy river was amazing.  The slides were fun.  The kids park was a blast for the little ones.  And it was simply GORGEOUS!



 
 

 
We all miss you Aulani!!!