Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Journey to a 50K!

Photo on the left is me and Amber - to the right is from the Rock & Roll Marathon

The last 2 ½ years for me have been an amazing journey.  I have lost over 75 lbs. without dieting; I am stronger than I have ever been; and I am now an Ultra Runner!  All of this is great, but here is the rest of the story……

Running my first Marathon with Amber

Sticker next to my desk at home

In December 2012, when I was at the Dallas Marathon Expo, I ran into a few Ultra runners.  We spoke for a bit and they made it sound easy to do an Ultra!  I then purchased a 50K sticker at a booth thinking I had to put this on my bucket list of running things to do!  I posted the sticker next to my desk in my home office and I saw it every single day! 

So, since then some amazing things have happened.  When you decide to run an Ultra - you cannot do it alone - you need help.  I started to listen to podcasts, read more books on endurance athletes, and got more engaged online with fitness groups and other elite/endurance athletes.

The amazing part of the journey has been all the new friends I have made and the opportunities I have had to help other people.  When you make big lifestyle changes that people can see, or read about on Facebook, you get a lot of questions.  I started my personal blog to journal some of my activities and I created a Health and Fitness Facebook page.  I was asked to be a guest on America’s Angriest Trainer podcast with Vinnie Tortorich andAnna Vocino.  I simply had some questions for Vinnie and he wanted to interview me on his show to discuss them.  Shortly after the podcast, I joined a few others and started the Plant Powered No Sugar No Grains Facebookgroup.  Here we discuss living the NSNG lifestyle while avoiding animal products.  Locally I become more involved in our Waxahachie Runners Club.  There I was able to meet up with other local runners and train with some new running friends.

After I ran the March Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Dallas, I transitioned my training to become a “fat-adapted” athlete.  This meant slowing down my long runs and staying in Zone 2 heart rate training.  I also eliminated sugar from my fueling and started using bananas and nut butters.

In April I signed up for marathon training - again with the Jeff Galloway group in Dallas - but I already had the itch to run a summer marathon.  I found a small race in San Antonio that was occurring in early July.  I ran the “I Ran Marathon” on July 2nd.  I PR’ed it by 30 minutes and got first place (I will admit I was the youngest of 20 or so runners that day)!

Shortly after the race, I signed up for three more races:  the San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon, the Dallas Marathon (formally White Rock), and the Fort Worth Cowtown 50K Ultra.  It is best to sign up early to get the best pricing and to get these races on your calendar.  I wanted to break the four hour time on my marathon and I figured having two races on the calendar would provide options.  I then heard about this little club called the Marathon Maniacs (thanks to Angie on Marathon Training Academy Podcast).  This is a group of runners that call themselves Marathon Maniacs after completing a set of qualifying marathons.  The minimum requirement is running three marathons in 90 days.  Since my Ultra was over 90 days past the first marathon, I needed another race.  I found that Allen (a small town north of Dallas) was hosting a marathon on New Year’s Eve and another one on New Year’s Day.  So I signed up for the New Year’s Eve race!

Allen Double Medal and Shirt

Training was going as planned and I was a guest two more times on the Angriest Trainer Podcast.  At this point I was very active in helping others with their health and fitness goals.  I ran the Dallas Running Club’s half marathon in early November with a PR time of 1:50.  This confirmed that I was ready to run a four hour Marathon!  I was so excited.

San Antonio Race week arrived.  I scheduled a few days in San Antonio prior to the race for business, and then enjoyed two restful days at the well-known Menger Hotel.  Race Day arrived and I was ready; however, Mother Nature had different plans for us runners.  The race started out very warm and humid, but the clouds were holding back the intense heat.  However, at mile 19 the sun popped out of the clouds and it reached 85 degrees.  The race entered into an open area near the river and there was NO protection from the heat.  I knew then that I was done.  All I could do was finish the race, not get hurt, and look ahead at Dallas.  While I was disappointed in the weather, I did clock my 2nd fastest marathon time! 

Somewhere along the way I was notified about the hardware being given away at the Allen Double Marathon if you ran the race on both days!  I was excited and knew I must have that big medal, so I added the half marathon race to my schedule for New Year’s Day.  This meant I got the big medal and only had to run an additional 13 miles.  This sounded like a great idea and I knew could handle this!

Mid-December came and it was time for the Dallas Marathon; however, Mother Nature decided to hit Dallas with a crippling ice storm!  Everyone was on pins and needles.  The problem was people like me -  we would run the race whether it was safe or not.  We are just wired to not have any reasonable senses when it comes to our races.  Luckily the race was officially cancelled - it was the right thing do to.  So in a panic, I still had to get my three marathons in within 90 days.  I sent an email to the Allen Double Marathon Director that Friday and my upgrade to a Double Full Marathon was accepted.  Good news, right?  Well, kind of - I had never trained to run an Ultra event; I have never even run any long runs back-to-back.  Heck - I never did anything to prepare for this type of event!  First I had to come to terms with not breaking the four hour goal this season.  It did not make sense to try and run two marathons in two days while setting PR’s.  I had to respect the race and my own capacities.

So race day arrived!  My goal was to run a decent pace the first day, stay strong and not push too hard.  The second day was sort of a gamble - I was not sure what to expect.  I had only put in a few double runs and nothing to really count on.  The goal the second day was to finish in less than five hours.  I accomplished both goals, got the big medal, and really enjoyed the experience.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.  I was now Marathon Maniac #8433 and not only did I meet the minimum requirements - but because I ran back-to-back Marathons - I qualified as an Iridium Maniac (level 4 out of 8)!

Completing the Allen Double!!

Now I had seven weeks to prepare for the 50K (31.07 mile) Ultra.  I had the base mileage in the tank and now it was planning the ultra race strategy.  I ended up running a 31 mile training run just before my one week vacation in Maui - this was four weeks before the race.  Looking back, I should have only run 25 to 28 miles - 31 was too much.  I had some minor knee issues crop up and just never felt fully recovered from the Allen Double and this training run. 

During this period I was also a guest co-host for two episodes of Plant Run Family with Stephen Baldridge.  This is a fun podcast about training, being plant-powered, and raising a family.  It was a great experience and I really enjoyed it.  I was also a guest on the Ben Greenfield podcast.  Ben is an Endurance Athlete and Trainer and he is very well known in the Endurance sport community.

Then it was time to race the Ultra!  While I was not worried about the distance, I was worried about my goals and expectations.  It is only five more miles right?  However, you must accept the fact that the race is not the same as a marathon; this is where a runner has to reach inside himself to overcome the mental challenges.  My race plan went off without a hitch.  I completed the race five minutes over my goal and - given that it was fairly warm and sunny - I was pleased.  Recovery (as I write this) has been a little harder than I expected.  I have been to the gym a few times to work things out and I expect to close to 100% in a few days.

In the past 14 months I have logged over 1,674 miles, been going to the gym consistently four days a week, and started going to Hot Yoga once a week about eight months ago.  It is not hard when you work up to the training; my nutrition has been very critical to my success.  If you do not fuel your body to handle the load - it will break down.

What’s next…

Rest……but not too much!  I have been marathon training for over 20 months now.  I need to take some time off from the distance running to reset the body a bit and rest up.  I am not sure what races I will do yet.  I still plan to break four hours or less on my marathon time this season.  I may do another ultra event, but I will try something different - like the Capital to Coast relay.  It is 223 miles from Austin to Corpus Christi in 6 or 12 person relays.  I will do one or two marathons this year for sure.

Post Script – Here is my Ultra Race Report if you want to see the details of the experience.

The Cowtown Ultra Race Report, Running a 50K
5:19 Finishing Time
19th out of 46 in my age division
131st out of 250 in the overall Male division

For my first 50K Ultra, my original goal was to just finish the race.  I bought a 50K sticker back in Dec 2012 before I even ran my first marathon, after a 14 year hiatus.  I knew then I wanted to do something more than just run a marathon.   As the race got closer, and after a successful back-to-back marathon, I figured I could complete the run in 5:10 to 5:15.  Given the temperature and humidity, I was not far off the goal.  I am also sure that I was not fully recovered from the double marathon seven weeks prior.

Race morning was very typical for me - coffee with coconut crème and a banana.  I brought a 2nd coffee for the car ride and added some coconut oil to it.

For the race, I had my daughter Amber meet me along the path with my fuel.  I hate carrying a belt!!!

During the first part of the race I seemed a little sluggish.  I wondered if I ate too early or not enough because I got to the race 1 1/2 hours early and it was a one hour drive.  The course had some hills and a few road hazards, but I really enjoyed the course.  Fort Worth is full of history and the crowds were great.

The other cool part of the experience was wearing an “Ultra” sign.  Along the way I was singled out from the other runners with additional cheers and waves from the spectators.  I even ran to all the kiddos along the way giving out high fives!  You just can’t pass up the opportunity to thank the little ones out there cheering us all on.

Fueling the race:

I drank 2-3 cups of water at each water station during the race (about every 2 miles).

I took two salt sticks around mile 8/9.

I met Amber at mile 15, ate my first banana and grabbed two more salt sticks.  I also took a nut butter with me and ate it around mile 20.

I had some more banana quarters at the aid stations at mile 19 and 21.  I did refuse the beer at mile 22….and the smell was awful!

I met back up with Amber at 23.  I had just two more salt sticks to eat on the spot and a Honey Stinger to finish the race.  I won’t debate if honey is vegan or not, but it is sure healthier than GU….LOL!  I knew I would not see her again so I also traded out my Bluetooth headset.  I refused to have mine die towards the end of the race.  She asked “is that it? is that all your taking?”  I confirmed and took off!

Finishing the race:

At mile 25 the Ultra runners split off to do an out-and-back to add the additional five miles to the race.  This part of the course was different because there was hardly anyone there but the runners.  It was a path that ran along the river.  I kept a decent pace going and added in a few extra walking breaks since we were now in direct sunlight and it had reached 70 degrees.  Overall I felt pretty good and all of us on this part of the race were cheering each other on - we were part of the Ultra group!  I took the Honey Stinger around mile 27 at the water station.  I probably should have taken it sooner, but I wanted to make sure I finished strong and had water to wash it down.

At mile 30 we rejoined the other runners finishing the marathon.  I was amazed at how strong I felt compared to the other runners.  I may have had two or three people pass me, but I was passing a lot of runners along the way.  As I approached the last half-mile and could see the end, I turned it on and went blazing in to the finish.  Blazing is a relative term after running 31 miles….. This is what building a solid base will do for a runner.

In the end I have no regrets.  It has been amazing journey.  I never thought after deciding to run an ultra a year ago that I would end up running four marathons in between.  Going fat-adapted and being plant-powered has made a huge difference in my racing and I am ready for the next challenge.  Most people cannot believe it is possible to run such long distances on so little food!  This year I will be focused on speed, but don’t rule out another ultra-event….I have a few ideas I am entertaining right now.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Are we being conditioned to accept obesity?

As a person who has lost a lot of weight and one that has been on both sides of the fence - I feel we are being misled by the “feel good” motivators out there and society as whole.  I struggle with some of the messaging I hear and I want dive in to this a little deeper to get your thoughts.

I am a very self-motivated person and have always felt you should accept yourself for who you are; you should always have a positive attitude and reflect an air of confidence in everything that you do!  Nowadays though, as our society grows larger and gains more weight, we are being told it is "ok" to be overweight - we just need accept ourselves for who we are and not worry about it.  I think this is a very dangerous attitude because it fails to address the real challenge. 

Being overweight is not healthy!  We are not designed be fat!  I know there is that 1-2% that has a medical condition and cannot control some of their weight gain; however, for the other 60% of Americans fighting obesity I think “acceptance” may lead us to thinking being overweight is normal because we know there is nothing you can do about.  They say to accept yourself for who you are and be happy.

I also think the medical profession is not helping us either.  When I went to the doctor while overweight, they never told me I was headed for trouble or discussed my weight.  Are they afraid of losing patients because they call us out on it?  Should they simply prescribe a pill and say “good luck, see you in a few months”?  What doctors should be saying is - we must change your ways, drugs only mask the symptoms and will not cure you and they only prolong the inevitable!  Part of the challenge here is doctors know very little about nutrition and food’s effect on the body.

My two cents is this: be happy and be confident, but do not give in to this attitude that being heavy is ok!  That is like telling an alcoholic it is ok to have a drink because we know you cannot change.  You can live a full life and maintain a healthy weight if you choose to do so.  The problem is food companies are lying to us and our food supply is being corrupted.  We are being misled to eat unhealthy foods thinking we are doing our bodies a favor by eating these manipulated food.  Our government subsidizes these foods making it even worse.  Something is very wrong when you can buy three tacos or a burger for a dollar, but you can only get one or two apples for the same dollar.

As a society, if we accept being overweight as normal because everyone else is overweight, then we overlook the underlying problem.  People are dying every day because of their food and lifestyle choices.  I think we should hold the line of what it means to be healthy and everyone should strive to reach optimal health.  Why not?  If we live healthier lives we will be happier, we will live longer, and we can do more things that require some level of fitness like walking, hiking, cycling, or even playing with our kids and grandkids.

Seeing the benefits of a healthy lifestyle gives me a new perspective.  I will do all I can to fight obesity being called “normal” or “accepted”.  We should not make others feel bad about their weight, but offer encouragement to change!  Fat-shaming will never work, but people must also take personal responsibility for themselves.  That is also part of having a healthy self-image and the right attitude.  There is not a day that goes by that I do not try to help someone else.

While I was overweight for over 12 years I was still a high energy person, very motivated, and fairly positive.  I was never happy with my weight, but I was not in enough pain to do something about it.  I always said “next month”, “next year”, or “maybe in a few weeks”.  Well, the days and weeks turned into years and years.  Stop right now and take an honest assessment of where you are with your health!  

Only you can do this, only you can decide what your next ten years will look like.  At 45 I often wonder where I would be if I had kept running and not let life happen to me.  I regret the decisions I made back then but I do not dwell on them.  I am blessed to have gotten a spark to change my life.  This time will be different because I will not go back to that old self again.
Stop letting society dictate your health and take control and responsibility for your own well-being.

Maui - our best vacation ever!

Lahaina Welcome Sign

Maui….the ultimate Anniversary Vacation!

Amy and I went to Maui in late January to celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary!  This was a surprise Christmas gift I gave to Amy.  She has been wanting to go to Hawaii since our 20th Anniversary and we were finally in a place to take the trip.

Flight Out
So on Tuesday, January 28th, Amy and I got on a noon flight to Maui.  The flight is eight hours, and there is a four hour time difference between Maui and Dallas.  We arrived just after 4 pm local time to a wet and rainy afternoon.  We got our luggage and our jeep rental, and we were off to the Westin Resort just outside of Lahaina on the west side of the island.

Wind Mills along the mountain

The drive is a beautiful scenic trip along Highway 30.  It is a slow drive with the ocean on your left and the mountains on your right.  I was surprised to see all wind generators along one of the mountains, I did not think they would want to change the view like that! 

As we got closer to our hotel, you could see the signs of civilization as we got into Lahaina.  It is a six red light town!  The resort was nestled among seven or eight other resorts, with a beautiful golf course shared in the middle.

The resort entryway is beautiful - with a waterfall, a pond full of fish and a few flamingos.  Our recently renovated room was cozy and had a view of the pond and palm trees.  We could sneak a peak of the ocean, but our room was a bit too low to see a full ocean view.  We took a short walk along the seashore and grabbed a quick bite at the local shopping center and called it a night.

Flamingo's in the Hotel Pond
Pool Area

View from our room

Wednesday began with a wonderful breakfast at the hotel.  They had a huge spread at the buffet.  Amy had the traditional eggs, bacon and pancakes, and I fell in love with all the local fruit!  I discovered papayas and I was in love!  I do not think I have ever had them before.  I must have eaten a pound of them! 

After breakfast we headed to downtown Lahaina where we had reservations for a whale-watching tour with Pacific Whale Foundation!  The docks are right behind the famous Banyan tree. 


This is a very old tree that spreads itself across the entire park.  


As soon as we began we immediately saw whales playing all around, blowing water out their spout, and showing off their jumping and splashing capabilities.  

Spinner Dolphins

The boat captain found a spot with dolphins.  We saw a large group of spinner dolphins - there must have been 30 or 40 of them playing in the sea.  I have never heard of them, but they like to jump straight up out of the water and spin around.  They swam along the side of the boat and in front of the bow - diving in and out of the water.  The fascinating site was seeing the dolphins swim on their backs since they had very light colored bellies.  It was amazing to see the various colors.  

We got our fill of whale sightings and certainly got our money’s worth.  We took over 200 pictures of whales and dolphins trying to capture the action of the great animals.

After the tour we spent some time checking out the local shops.  We got a bite to eat at a local diner and then found some great macadamia nut ice cream!  

Amy on the Waterfront in Lahaina

Later that afternoon it started to rain which is common on the island in the winter.  We saw several rainbows - there were double rainbows and in the mountains you could see a complete rainbow end-to-end.  It was a beautiful site.

Dinner was a nice relaxing meal at the Lahaina Fish Company overlooking the ocean.  Most of the restaurants were open air - the weather was just perfect night or day.  This was a nice relaxing dinner with a quiet romantic atmosphere.

Thursday started out with a traditional breakfast at another resort restaurant called Cast Away.  It was a small restaurant with a few more affordable options.  I had more local fruit and Amy got some pancakes.  Our plan was to take a ride on the Sugar Train.  It is a local train that runs 8-10 miles with three stops.  After sharing our plans with the hostess - she said we should save our money and take a drive along the west side of the island.  She gave us a map, pointed out a few key stops, and we were off!

 So we headed out in the jeep and took the top off.  We had to be back for our reservation at 5:00, so we have plenty of time to just drive.  The drive was simply amazing - we went through Kaanapali and then Kapalua.  The drive was on a small, windy road with lots of scenic stops.  We found one area filled with surfers trying to catch waves and other areas of beaches that were so remote no one was on them.

We discovered that we drove past the famous “blow hole” in Kapalua so we had to backtrack to find it.  The blow hole was a hole in the rock just off the beach.  As the waves came in, it created pressure along the rock and then the water blew straight up like a geyser.  We did not venture all the way down the hill to stand on the rock, but we did get some great pictures.

After that we got back on the road where the signs that say falling rock were - very true!  We saw rocks in the road that could have stopped a car in its tracks if you were not paying attention.  Construction crews were out removing the larger fallen rocks from the roads.  Many of the bridges were one lane and you had to be careful driving around the blind corners and tight turns.  As we made our way to Kahakuloa the roads narrowed down to one lane only.  

Kahakuloa from Above
We were told we had to stop by and see Aunt Lorraine.  This was a great suggestion.  She had an assortment of homemade pies, banana bread and handmade coconut chips.  We had some of the coconut pie and it was the best I had ever had.  Nice and cool with coconut chips in every bite.  We also had some of her famous banana bread and it was also very good.  

One of the cyclists we saw on the road had also stopped in to take a break.  He was a nice guy from Washington State who was also planning to make the whole trip around the same path we were on.

One lane roads......
With our fill of desserts we got back to the road, stopping at more scenic turnouts and taking more pictures.  We stopped at a local fruit stand and learned about the Mendoza family in Waihee - a very rich family who owned a large piece of property on that side of the island.  The proprietor of the fruit stand was making fresh coconut candy and I picked up some fresh cut papayas to take along the route. 

Civilization started to show back up as we ventured into Wailuku on the way to Kahului.  Fortunately the roads got better and wider.  We went on back to the airport and traded in the jeep for a silver convertible mustang.  The jeep had a funny smell from someone else leaving seashells in the car and the heat of the sun made the smell even worse!  The mustang was certainly a nice change given our next adventure.

We got back to the hotel and cleaned up for our dinner cruise.  The cruise was out of Lahaina and it began with a peaceful ride along the shoreline.  

Dinner Sunset View

The sunset was beautiful as it started to hide behind the other island.  We met Tom and Laura from Houston; they were recently married and he owned a house on the island.  They had some great stories to share and they gave us some ideas for the next day’s trip.  Dinner was served as the sky turned dark.  

The boat turned around just in front of our hotel and the night started to turn cool and breezy on the boat. The ride back was filled with a one-man band singing classic songs for everyone to sing along with, or you could dance up on the bow of the boat. We headed back to the hotel, watched a movie and called it a day.

First Sunrise
Friday began with an early 5 am departure from the hotel heading up to Haleakala Summit.  It is not very far away but the drive is very slow.  Mount Haleakala is where the sun rises up through the clouds at 10,000 feet.  The temperature was about 40 degrees at that height.  The drive was along the side of the mountain with many tight turns and steep inclines.  It was dark, so we could not really see anything but the road ahead and the city lights far below us.

Second Sunrise
The sunrise was well worth the early morning drive.  We shared the view with about 100 other tourists.  The sunrise is different because we were above the clouds, so instead of the seeing the sunrise above the earth, it was a sunrise above the clouds.  We got a bonus because as the sun rose, it went back into the clouds and reappeared again as it rose above the second set of clouds.  They called this a double sunrise. 

The local park guide sang the morning praises as the sun began to rise.  This is a local tradition done to give thanks.  We did not opt to take the bikes down the mountain as many tourists do.  I hear it is a really fun excursion but we chose to take off to Hana.

As we headed down the mountain we decided to take the back way around the island to Hana.  It started out on Highway 31 towards the southern remote part of the island.  After the local winery there was nothing but ocean views on our right, mountains on the left, lots of cattle crossing guards and some very treacherous roads that need some attention. 

We saw a lot of "One Lane Bridge" signs

We needed the jeep!

The area was very isolated - there we very few homes and no businesses.  We only saw a handful of cars and a few farm trucks.  The roads progressively got worse and turned to dirt as you got farther and farther away from civilization. 

Black Beach

As we got close to Kipahulu civilization began to return.  We were at the end of the traditional “Road to Hana” so this is where our adventure began.  We made multiple stops as we saw lots of waterfalls, steep cliffs, and beautiful mountain views.  We saw the black beaches on the southern side of the island.  It is obvious why this area is so sparse.  There is not much to do but enjoy the drive and there weren’t any beaches.  We did see the red beaches just before Hana and some of the locals were out enjoying the day there.

Red Beach

Coconut Ice Cream Stand - all plant based!
We stopped in Hana, ate at the local restaurant and rested for a bit.  We got back on the road and saw more waterfalls and scenic stops.  We did stop at a few of the local shops and stands along the way.  The best stop was the coconut ice cream stand.  There we got a bowl of vegan coconut ice cream.  This was a delicious treat - it was served in a real coconut shell with a wooden spoon.

Conquering the Mountain.....well of, the rock!

The road to Hana also had many one lane bridges and blind turns.  You could tell when the locals were driving because they went very fast and had little time for us tourists blocking their way!

The weather started to turn to light rain so we limited our stops.  As we got closer to Kahului the sun came back out.  We stopped near Pauwela where we walked the beach and saw some surfers.  We got a little wet when an unexpected wave hit the rock and splashed up on the beach.  This was funny to the locals as they laughed with us. It was like the funny videos you see on TV where the tourist gets surprised by the unexpected waves coming in. 

We headed back to the hotel, grabbed some pizza, and watched a movie.  It was a long day so early bedtime was in order.

Saturday was a peaceful day back at Lahaina.  We started the day with a couple’s massage.  We visited more shops and that is where we found our matching outfits for the Luau that evening.  I know it is quirky to have matching outfits - but we loved it.  We went back to the hotel, cleaned up, got our matching outfits on and headed to the Old Lahaina Luau.  We weren’t sure if there was going to be a Luau though.  It rained hard for a few hours beforehand, but as the gates started to open - the rain moved on. We had a beautiful evening before us.

At the luau there was a pig in the ground cooking, coconut opening demonstrations, and fishing net lessons. The luau was a series of local dancing and stories.  The dancers were great and it was very educational to hear the old stories.  The food was good and there were plenty of desserts to eat.

Running Path 

Sunday started out with a nice eight mile run for me into town.  It was great running along the ocean trail and - because it was early - it was very quiet and peaceful.  

When I returned, we headed to town for a quick breakfast and then Mass at the downtown Maria Lanakila Catholic Church.  

The church had tall vaulted ceilings, their windows open and the priest even wore a Lei.  The church was beautifully filled with local artistry, statues and paintings

We then drove over to Kihei where there were lots of beach parks and shops.  We ended up stopping in Makena and eating at Cheese Burger in Paradise.  They had the “big game” on and we enjoyed the upbeat game atmosphere, although we soon lost interest in the game.  After the halftime show, we drove back towards the hotel - making several stops on the highway to view the active whales in the ocean.  We did stop at Leoda’s pie shop just before Lahaina and we had coconut pie and peanut butter chocolate pie.  Although I am not a big dessert fan anymore - these where simply irresistible delicacies!

Full breach whale splash

This was off Hwy 30

After we got back to the resort we headed down to the Jacuzzi.  Just one problem, ours was broken!  So we ventured over to the neighboring hotel to use theirs - we snuck in quietly and found it!  We met some folks from Denver and they were crying over the game.  We had some great laughs with them.  That evening we ate a light meal on the beach near the hotel.

Monday was our last day of the trip.  We decided to head to the beach in front of the resort.  We had yet to spend time on the beach just laying around and soaking up the sun.  I got brave and ventured i to the cold water.  If you have never been on a Pacific Ocean beach you are in for a huge shock.  The waves are very strong, nothing like the Gulf of Mexico.  The waves can knock you over in an instant, and the currents can cause you to quickly lose your footing. 

Braving the waters....

Looking for shells was a challenge.  You had to go waist-deep in the water to find them and then fight the waves as they try and pound you into the sand.  The waves won a few times, but I did find some great shells and coral fragments to bring home. 

We cleaned up and packed our bags, then headed back to Lahaina for lunch.  Before we left we bought a few photographs from a local photographer on the beach.  He had some great photos for us to hang on the walls at the house to remind us of the great memories made on the island.  In Lahaina, we stopped and had some deep dish pizza at Lahaina pizza.   We also met an old friend of mine from our hometown of Jacksonville, TX.  I had not seen Kathy in over 28 years, but it was just like old times.  We left Lahaina and slowly made our way back to the airport making a few last minute stops along the way.

Last Night at Hotel

The airport was bustling as the last few flights were leaving the island.  It was a long flight back and the plane was not very sleep-friendly, but none of that mattered because we had the trip of a lifetime!