The end of the year

My year of running on Oahu comes to a close this weekend.  I’ve been back from Iraq for a year, and I’m about to get on a plane to head back there for another year.  It’s time, though, to talk about the year.

  • I really did average ~40 miles per week of running.  That does kinda blow my mind.  I’ve only taken to running because a) I’m in the Army, and b) someone told me a while ago that I could run but just not very far.  40 miles in a week seems like a lot, but 40 miles on average per week, for an entire year, seems bonkers.
  • I really did do a 300 mile month.  July as crazy.  Averaging 10 miles per day was tough.  I’m very glad I did it.
  • I really have quit Nike.  Loved ya, but it just didn’t work out.  And no, I’m not considering getting back together.
  • Yes, on a whim, I went and did an Olympic-class Tri.  On a whim.  In my surf shorts, with my waterproof camera in my hand while I swam.  And yes, riding a 20-year old Trek mountain bike that sports mud tires.

I am very pleased with how this blog turned out.  It doesn’t have the number of runs I wish it would have, but it sure has the depth.  I do love the consistent range of things that I covered.  I do love the inclusion of the photos.  I do love that I made Garmin and Google Earth files for the routes, even when it meant I had to go back to do it again.  This is the blog I wish I had found when I had moved to the island.

My favorite runs from the year are:

  1. The 50km run I did up Kolekole Pass.  i did not blog this one, I just quietly did it one night.  I’ve done marathons, but never anything farther.  I did not train for it, I did not prep for it, and in fact, I really didn’t decide to do it until that afternoon (I ran into the night).  Of the runs I did this year, it is the one I will likely brag about the most, only because of the distance and randomness of the decision to do it.
  2. The running story I have told the most this year is the long and sordid tale of my near-fatal run in Tucson in May.  I was doing a 1/2 marathon-distanced run across Catalina State Park and out onto the 50 Year Trail, and I was chased and almost killed by a HUGE bull.  I wrote it up as a pretty funny email that I titled, “How I was almost raped by an angry adult bull” and sent it to friends along with some photos of said bull, as proof.  I’ve also told the story in person to a lot of people, maybe because it’s damn funny but also because there are a lot of good lessons to be learned from it.  The story has changed some with different tellings, to support the key points I want to make, but the humor is probably more of what people remember about it.  I will never forget that run.
  3. If I could go run right now, I’d go run the Poamoho Ridge Trail.  If I were to take you on a run, I’d ask you if you’re ready to try the Poamoho Ridge Trail.  The best trail I ran this year, the best run I had this year, the most fun I had this year, was on the Poamoho Ridge Trail.
  4. The Old Pali Highway.  I tell people that there’s nothing flat about this island, that everything here involves elevation change.  Running the Old Pali Highway demonstrates this well.  But it also shows well the hidden treasures that litter this island, if you’re willing to explore some.  I love the old road surface.  I love the trees and the canopy cover they offer.  I love the cool air and the gentle breezes.  And I love the views it offers.
  5. My other go-to run is a 10km out-and-back on the Manana Trail.  If bacon is the gateway drug that brings vegetarians back to eating meat, the lower Manana Trail run is the one that brings runners back out to the trail.  It’s a long, slow climb, but it’s gradual and on a good trail, and offers some kick ass views.  It’s a good run on a sunny day or in the rain.
  6. My run is the Big Schofield Loop.  Let’s face it — I’m a Soldier, I’m assigned to Schofield, and I’ve also spent the the year running around Schofield.  A ~16 mile loop is a good, good run distance, and to see the old post, and all her best sides, and to also blaze up the KoleKole Pass is as big part of my memories of the year.  I still remember clearly making my first ascent up the pass, and thinking I was likely going to die.  I did it again this morning, and it felt as comfortable to me as running down the street to the store.  It’s not a run for everyone, and it’s certainly not a run you’d go out of your way to run.  It just happens to be my run.
  7. The Tiki Trail run up Wai`anae Kai is the run I never thought I’d do.  And a year ago, if someone had suggested that I add it to the list, I’d have laughed.  It’s a psychotic run — 2.25 mile straight up.  It’s inhuman.  It’s not even a pleasant hike — it’s a mean-spirited hike.  But I sure loved it .
  8. And it’s not Oahu, but I loved the Thumb Butte run I did in Prescott.  They dropped me off at a lake, and I ran across the desert to the butte, zigzagging my way through the Prescott National Forrest on their awesome hiking trails.  It was just a half-marathon, but the trails were great, the views stunning, the distance spot-on, and the solitude remarkable.
  9. I have mixed feelings putting the Kamananui Valley Road run on this list.  I loved the trail.  I loved the isolation.  I loved the quiet beauty of the run.  I hate, hate, hate that the valley was, for far too long, the private property for an estate that dated back to the plantation days.  Making it publicly accessible land represents all of te hard work that has had to be done, and continued to be needed, to right some of the tragic wrongs that befell the people of these islands.  It is a guilty run, but it’s also the place I tell everyone about in the hopes that they’ll go there (it’s only been open to the public for a couple of years now).
  10. And last, but certainly not least, is the small trail that runs from the parking lot out to Pele’s Chair.  It isn’t very long, but for some reason, it always makes me smile.

I’ll still be around, virtually that is.  By all means, drop me a note or leave a comment if you have questions about what you find here.  I hope you enjoy the site and the information as much as I had collecting and posting it.

Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail

Summary: The Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail is a 2.25 mile trail that rises almost 1800 feet, before peaking on the spine of the Ko`olau Ridge.  It’s a tough run, for it is steep, but it is very run-able and offers a great reward in the form of spectacular views.  The locals say that you’re suppose to run to the top, come back down to the picnic table, and then run back to the top again.

The Good:  The trail is in very good shape.  Unlike a lot of other trails that go mauka on the Ko`olau Ridge, this one is wide and easily navigable all the way to the end.  There are no ropes, there’s no forced hiking; you can run as hard and as long as your legs can handle.  Being steep, there’s some erosion, but it’s been well addressed and should hold up well for a long time.  And the views — wow, the views.  Fantastic.  From Diamond Head, all the way around to the Makapu`u Lighthouse and on to Kaneoha Bay, standing at the top of the trail lets you see everything from Honolulu to the Kona Brewing Company restaurant in Hawaii Kai.  And the foliage is awesome; like the website says,

The trail traverses through an assortment of exotic vegetation typical of arid areas: Christmas berry, haole koa, formosa koa, ironwood, Norfolk pine and guava. Beyond the shelter and the guava forest, the trail breaks out of the canopy and into uluhe-o`hia-koa-lama forest.

The Bad:  Are you OK with ascending about 1800 feet of elevation, in 2.25 miles?  Because you’re going to do that.  Are you happy only running on bike trails?  This ascent features rocks and roots and stairs and all kinds of things that will make you question your footing, and question your sanity on the way down.  Now, I happen to like that stuff, but hey, that’s me.  And remember — this is an active hunting area, so be careful on the weekends.

The Ugly: Nothing.

Type of route: Trail
Good to run in the rain? It’s be a tough one, especially the last little bit.

Length: 2.25 miles to the top.
Options for the route
: Run to the top, come back down to the picnic area, then re-assault the top — that’s 10km once you get back to the car.

Elevation change on the run:  300 feet up to 2100 feet, and back down.
Water used: I used 1.5 liters, but could have / would have used more.

Where to start: Kalaau Pl, Honolulu, Hawaii 96821S
Where to park: Same.  The very end of the street is marked no parking, and that seems to be enforced.  Get there early, or your parking options won’t be close to the trail head.
Point your car’s GPS towardshere.

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Nope.
Toilets? Nope.
Medical care? Nope.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.
Picnic areas? One.  Mid way up, about 1.5 miles from the trail head and .7 miles from the top.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.

Rewards in the area:  The truly stunning view.  That, and the Kona Brewing Company restaurant.

You’d run this route when….it’s not actually raining Windward, and you want a nice view.  When the skies are clear, and you think you can get up there for the sunrise.  When you’re training for the DipSea.  When old ladies call you out.

My rating:  9

Music: Some classic 80’s tunes.  That is, assuming no one is close enough to you on the trails to actually hear what you’re listening to.  If that’s the case, go with NWA.

Weather / Trail warnings (yes) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here. Flickr: here and here. More photos: hereState Park Info: here and here

Manana Trail

Summary: The Manana Trail is a state / country trail in the Pearl Ridge area, that heads mauka (towards the mountains) up the Koʻolau Range.  While it’s close to six miles to hike all the way to the ridge, the lower first few miles of the trail make for some great running.  It offers easy access, great views, rolling ascent and wide, safe paths.

The Good:  The first three miles of this trail is good.   It’s a nice, rolling climb from about 1000 feet of elevation, up to about 1600 feet of elevation.  Nice wide trails, the route is well marked and easy to follow.  It mixes lots of shade with open areas of panoramic views.  And on a nice and sunny day, this is a beautiful place to go run.  Mid way up, there’s even a camping area — a nice place to stop for a sit, though there’s no water or anything other than the clearing.

The Bad:  There are a few stretches of the trail that are narrow, with a drop off on both sides.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing – it’s probably just not for everyone.  Also, parking is at the end of a residential street — I always feel guilty, parking in front of someone’s house when I head out running (though I do try and police up the trash in the area, and leave it better than I found it).  Did I mention dog poop?  Yep — some of them, unfortunately. Did I mention pig hunting? I don’t see it as a problem — I’ve never had a bad experience with hunters on the trails. But it is a hunting area.

The Ugly:  Have you noticed that I’ve been talking about the first three miles of this trail?  Well, after the three mile  mark is stops being running and turns into hiking.  Or mountain climbing.  If you’re wanting a run longer than 6 miles round trip, this isn’t it.  If you want to run to the top, this isn’t the trail for you.

Type of route: Trail run
Good to run in the rain? Yes, for the first 3 miles.  After that, no.

Length: 6 to 12 miles; I recommend just the 6.

Options for the route:  Yes — one.  There’s a split off, to go down to the Waimano Pool.  Take caution, though — it’s a steep hike down, and a mean hike back up.  If it’s raining, or been raining, it’ll be slick.  More info, here.

Elevation change on the run: Three miles will be about 600 feet of elevation gain.
Water used: A solid two liters.

Where to start:  At the end of Komo Mai Drive
Where to park:  Same.  be sure not to block the circle at the end — emergency vehicle access, so you’ll get a ticket / towed.
Point your car’s GPS towards:  Komo Mai Drive, Pearl City, HI 96782 (here)

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? No
Toilets? No
Medical care? No
Ranger / park folks? No.
Picnic areas? Yes (via).  Mid way up, at the camp site.
A place to change afterwards? No.  Which is a bit awkward — doing a deck change outside someone’s house is, well, awkward.

Rewards in the area:Try Miki’s (1001 Lehua Avenue, Pearl City, HI 96782-3334) for some grinds.

You’d run this route when….it’s a sunny, sunny day with some clouds that are mauka.

My rating:  8.  I look forward to running this one a few more times.

Music:  It needs to be something older, like the Squeeze (try this).

Weather / Trail warnings (yes) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here (great website).  Flickr: hereMore photos: here State Park Info: here