Running has been such a BIG part of my life since I was a youngster. When I was in high school, I ran cross country and track, and I had an awesome coach named Mr. Chun. I don’t believe that he ever ran a day in his life, but he coached my teammates and I well!
My most memorable run ever, was during the summer before the start of my junior year! After much planning, fund raising, and begging our parents, Mr. Chun was able to plan an elaborate week for our cross country team on the island of Molokai, Hawaii!!!
I lived on the island of Oahu, so it was a short plane flight over to Molokai. First class flight on my first commuter plane! Wow! It took several planes to get our team to Molokai, and it was fun to see my teammates in the air as I would see them driving on the freeway! Somehow, Mr. Chun was able to get us five star accomodations at Molokai High School’s gymnasium! With Mr. Chun as the chapparone for the boys team, and his wife as the chapparone for the girls team, we set up our sleeping bags on the gym floor and set up camp! Too much fun!!!
Our days were packed with various workouts – morning runs, afternoon runs, weight training, core training, callestenics, stretching. It wasn’t all about running and working out though. He had planned hikes, beach trips, sight seeing, mule rides, and barbecues which were integrated with a workout in mind!!! Beach trip? Sure, let’s make it a beach run! Hike? Uh huh, let’s run up hills and do a trail run! Mule ride to the bottom of the mountain, but you gotta run back up it! It never seemed like “working” out to me though. I was with my best friends, and I was doing what I loved – what more could I ask for?
The island of Molokai, if you have never been there, is the 5th largest island of Hawaii. It’s beautiful. When I went many moons ago, it was not as populated or commercialized as it is now, I’m sure. The beaches were empty. It was a pineapple plantation, and Molokai was home to the last Leper Colony.
Our last run, on the afternoon before we left, was a scheduled relay run thru the island! We had been divided into teams – mixed boys and girls. It was an amazing run for me! It was so long ago, but I distinctly remember running alongside one of my best friends, Frank, on the empty highway. I remember that Frank talked me through that long stretch. He could have easily left me behind, but our team was not like that. We actually cared about one another, and we had a Semper Fi mentality. When I wavered, he talked me through it, encouraging me. He reminded me to keep my head up, and to look at my surroundings. My surroundings were beautiful: lush greenery, clear, blue skies, perfect Hawaii weather, the sound of waves crashing, and the scent of pineapples! As we ran, I relaxed into the run, and just ran as my teammates cheered us on. That’s the run that is the most memorable for me.
It’s been a LONG time, but to this day, when I smell pineapples, I think of that run. I think of Molokai, and of my friends. I think of how wonderful it would be if I could go back and visit. I do go back and visit though, albeit in my dreams, or when I’m running and I waver. I bring my mind back to that time and place, and I once again hear Frank talking to me, and my teammates encouraging me on, reminding me that I CAN do it …
(Originally posted on http://Minirowrow.blogspot.com on 04/03/2010)