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.

Wai`anae Kai

Summary: Wai`anae is home to the Wai`anae Kai Forest Preserve, that stretches from near Poka`i Bay all the way up to Mount Kaʻala, the islands highest point.  While a number of trails will take hikers up to Mount Ka’ala, leg-strong runners can make a good dent in running Wai`anae Kai – a history and ancient trail that heads up to a saddle just below Mount Ka’ala.

The Good:  You will be alone on this trip.  Unlike other trails down near Honolulu or even over near Kailua,   few seem to venture up these trails.  It’s not that they’re bad trails, they’re just off the beaten path.  All the better, I say.  If you head out there in the morning, you’ll likely get some shade from the mountains themselves.  Being leeward, the odds of getting soaked are much lower, too.  Oh, and the views.  My goodness — the views.  Splendid views — you’ll want to stop from time to time, just to soak up the views.  Lastly, the trails are well marked; painted bottle caps (Gatorade, from the looks of them) adorn the route, color coded to keep the various routes straight.

The Bad:  Bring your thighs.  From the parking area, it’s up.  Parking is at about 600 feet of elevation, and the power lines in the saddle are at about 2800 feet of elevation.  2200 feet of ascent, in about 2.25 miles.  If you’ve got legs, you can probably run the first 2 miles, and hike / hot air balloon up the last quarter mile.  How steep?  The paved road at the bottom has markings from what appears to be tracked vehicles — you know, the types of tracks yo see on tanks, snow cats, etc.  Crazy steep.  But it does have splendid views — you’ll likely need to stop from time to time, just to soak up the views and to keep your thigh muscles from actually exiting the skin.  I don’t really see this as a bad thing, but it merits mentioning — yes, it’s a hunting area.  So, yes, you may encounter hunters and dogs (though in all my encounters around the island, I’ve never had an issue with hunters or dogs).

The Ugly:  Cattle.  Granted, I have cattle issues already, but they are sometimes out there in small numbers.  Yes, bulls, too.  No water, no restrooms, no rangers wandering about.  It’ll be just you and a steep run.

Type of route:  Steep trail.  It starts paved, becomes a dirt road for just a little bit, and then becomes trail.
Good to run in the rain? Wow.  I’m going to say no.  You’d likely slip and slide all over the place.

Length:  4.5 miles, round trip.

Options for the route: For running?  Maybe start at Poka`i Bay and run up instead of driving up.  Running higher up on the ridgeline just isn’t possible, though there is great hiking to be had there.

Elevation change on the run:  From 600 feet to 2800 feet .
Water used: 2 liters going up, almost none coming down.

Where to start:  At the end of Wai`anae Valley Road.
Where to park: Same
Point your car’s GPS towards: Waianae Valley Rd, Waianae, Honolulu, HI 96792

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Nope.
Toilets? Nope.
Medical care? Nope.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.
Picnic areas? Yes, actually.  Here.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.

Rewards in the area:  Poka`i Bay, of course.  Stop in for a dip, maybe something to drink.  It’s a great beach for just sitting.

You’d run this route when….  you’re training for the TransRockies Run.  When your thighs need a good reminded of who’s the boss.  When just running 4.5 miles is enough.

My rating:  7.  It’s good, but it’s a lot.

Music:  Stuff from the late 70’s.  Black Sabbath.  Iron Maiden.  When I ran into the bulls, I had Johnny Rotten piping into my ears, and that was followed by some classic Rolling Stones.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here. Flickr: here and here. More photos: here State Park Info: None — it’s forest land, not state park.

KoleKole Pass

Summary: Kolekole Pass is a well known running route, but one that today sees many fewer runners than it once did.  In this post-9/11 world, access to Schofield Barracks, Lualualei Naval Reservation, and this historic road is restricted.  While it has historically been best known as shortcut across the Wai’anae range, these days it is a nice, quiet, and steep place to run.

The Good:  There’s little traffic on this road.  In fact, at during some parts of the day, there’s no through traffic at all, with only military vehicles heading to and from various ranges.  And it’s a nice little climb; the grade is steep enough to strain the legs, but not so severe as to bring you to your knees.  Also, the road is well maintained, and the side grass is regularly cut and cared for; for an out-of-the-way little side road, it’s in remarkably good shape.  Lastly, the road up has both great shade and a wonderful breeze, keeping the temp down during the hardest of times.  Time it right, and you can duck right into the showers at Richardson pool to clean up, before swimming a few laps.

The Bad:  Run what you brung; there’s no water along the way, no fountains, and a single porta-potty (that is actually pretty clean and regularly serviced).  While there are cars that transit the road pass, there are also large military trucks and commercial trucks; all of them do drive slow and are very good about making way for runners (and soldiers on ruck marches, etc).

The Ugly:Well, it’s not really that ugly, but there’s really nothing on the side of the road.  There are sidewalks for a good part of the way up through the military sections of Schofield Barracks, but that ends with the last of the motor pools.  From there on out, you’re running on the edge of the road; it shouldn’t be an issue.

Type of route: Road
Good to run in the rain? Fantastic to run in the rain.

Length: 9.5 miles, from the Inn, up Trimble to the pass, and back down Lymen Road and the cemetery.

Options for the route:I’d love to tell you that there’s still an option to run over the pass, down the other side and on to the ocean.  In the old days, the military use to have organized run to do just that.  I have not heard of it being done recently, or of plans to let anyone do it (though, if a guard would ever give me the chance, I’d surely do it).  Also, there’s a longer (11.5 mile) route that loops more to the northern point of the post, before looping around and back to Trimble.

Elevation change on the run:I’m not really sure (I’ve been running up there without my Garmin) .
Water used:   None.  That being said, I should add that I run in the morning, and I often run in the rain in the morning.  It would be easy to go through 2 liters running up the pass and back, if not three liters of water.

Where to start: The Inn at Schofield Barracks
Where to parkHere (library parking lot, across the street)
Point your car’s GPS towards:  The Inn.

My Google Maps link: here
My Garmin file: None

Facilities
Water? Not on the route
Toilets? One posta-potty along the way
Medical care? Oh, yes.  Get injured, and just about everyone stops to ask what’s wrong.  Army docs are plentiful, and all are quick to call for an ambulance.
Ranger / park folks? Nope, not in a traditional sense.  The closest thing is probably the Tropic Lightning Museum.
Picnic areas? Yes, at Bowen Field and also adjacent to both Richardson Pool and the Inn.
A place to change afterwards? Yes — Richardson pool (0600-0900 during the week, but weekends it opens at 1100).

Rewards in the area:  There’s a Baskin-Robbins over at the PX, but really, there’s no super-secret bonus for running up this route.

You’d run this route when….it’s raining and the run is coming up.  Or when you’re wanting a harder 10 mile run; this hill is a very good one.

My rating:  8.  I really like this one.  It’s not all that picturesque in some parts, but running across the post and up the hill is a great, great thing.

Music: Military cadence.  No matter what time you run this, no matter the day of the week that you run it, you’re going to pass soldiers coming or going from the pass.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here Flickr: here and hereMore photos: here.   State Park Info: none