Stepping off the plane in Maui I felt a rush of warm air hit my skin. The tropical smell engulfed all of my senses. I could hear the pulse of the waves along with the silence of a secluded island. I knew my three month journey on this island was going to be a once in a lifetime experience. I went to Maui to farm. A new experience for me. I also was going to Maui with every intention to start marathon training. Prior to moving to Maui I had done the majority of my training runs either on a trail or the flat city streets near my college. The routes became comfortable; kind of routine. Though my miles were getting faster; I didn’t feel like I was growing as a runner as much as I had hoped.
Moving my training to Maui, however, truly changed the game. It took me a while to gain the confidence to start running in Maui. Where I was located I didn’t have the luxury of beach runs or an awesome trail to climb over roots and run under the covers of trees. My home was right along Haleakala Highway. Though the scenery was unreal it didn’t leave much room for trail runs. I had to swallow my pride and take to the highway.
My Maui training was different in many different ways. To start I had to get used to the harshness of concrete on my body. I am a trail runner through and through. Like I’m assuming any other avid trail runner the first time you run on the concrete after sticking to mostly dirt trails you truly feel the difference. There were so many people I met along my runs who lived for the long highway runs. Taking them from one part of the island to the other in the matter of hours.
Something I didn’t consider when making the transition from my trail runs in the midwest to the mountains of Maui was the elevation. An oversight that I did not think would be that big of a deal. I was able to crush the hills at home no problem. Maui, however, was a completely different story. Though at the time it did not seem like mountains the slow and steady incline took its toll over time. I discovered my miles were getting slower and it was difficult to do my normal mileage. It was discouraging to say the least. The mountain landscape combined with the odd climate which consisted of cold mornings, hot afternoons, and potential rain showers everyday made it difficult to gage what my runs would be like. They varied each day. Some days I would run 4 miles up the mountain no problem and other days a simple 2 miles seemed to take ages. In my mind my year’s worth of training might have gone down the drain. After a while I realized that it was just a different atmosphere. A completely different vibe. I realized I had to give up on comparing each run to the next. Yes, some runs were going to be easier than others. Some runs will push me to my limits even if I am in the best shape of my life.
Maui taught me more about running than I had ever anticipated. I learned to be patient with my progress. I learned to acknowledge different styles of runs. I learned to appreciate non trail runs; even though it still pains me to admit it. Maui has provided some truly amazing runs. I was able to spend my miles looking at some pretty amazing scenery. On either side I’d look I saw either mountains or the ocean. It changed my perspective on what I would consider progress. Progress is inpart getting faster with each mile, but I have also found that progress can be found in being able to log more miles than the day before. Maui provided the perfect place to become more confidant in my running. It is a place that had all the positive vibes for me to realize the importance of running to my health and mentality. This is the beauty of being a runner who travels, you have the opportunity to try many different routes. You are able to see the world through runs. It allows you to take it all in. Thanks Maui, for the miles.