Running on Vacation

I recently returned from a vacation to Japan and Hawaii to visit family. I almost didn’t bring my running shoes, but at the last minute decided to throw them in the suitcase (along with socks, shorts, and a shirt). I didn’t know if I would have a chance to do any running on vacation but I really wanted to try, plus my running gear is so light and takes up hardly any space, so I didn’t have much of an excuse not to bring it. Honestly, my primary motivation for bringing my gear was that I thought it would be cool to add some new data to my Runkeeper and Strava profile (gotta expand my running outside of Texas!), but it turned out to be so much more rewarding than just recording the data!

Osaka Castle Manhole Cover
Osaka Castle Manhole Cover

When I arrived in Japan, I suffered from a bit of jet lag and woke up at about 4:30am – an hour earlier than usual. The sun rises pretty early in Japan as compared to Texas so I was able to get out the door and start running around 5am, but I usually decided to wait until around 6 to hit the streets. I didn’t do any research as to what route I would take on that first day but I just wandered around the neighborhood and let the route decide itself. Surprisingly, I saw a few runners out there on the city streets with me! I noticed however that my neon green tank top was really different from the more conservative running t-shirts that everyone else was wearing. I was a little embarrassed, but whatever – I was on vacation! 🙂 I ended up running over 3 miles that day, and when I returned home everyone was still sleeping so I could enjoy a nice long shower and then relax on the balcony.

Yodogawa River
Yodogawa River

I told Mariko about where I ran, and she suggested I run along the Yodogawa River and that I should be able to make it to the sea if I kept running that way. So for my next outing I traveled along the river and had a nice 2-mile run along the water. The path is popular with other runners, walkers, bicyclists, and people walking their dogs so it was always interesting looking at others (and their dogs). A lot of elderly people walk on that route too and they are usually very friendly offering a “Ohayogozaimasu” (good morning) as I pass by. This route would be my regular morning run while in Japan, and I eventually extended it to an 8.7 mile run to the sea! Actually, it didn’t really look like the sea because it is very industrialized, but still, I went just about as far as I could.

I modified my route a little bit to bypass one large intersection where I got delayed by a passing train that first day, and this alternate route was so cool because I got to see a sports field where people were playing gate ball, got to run through a tiny tunnel, ran on top of a wall right next to trees filled with cicadas (I had to cover my ears it was so loud!), and saw a bunch of cool scooters and motorbikes. That’s one fun thing about running – it’s easy to explore new places and see new things.

Every time I returned home from my morning run I felt so good and energized and ready for the day’s activities which included a lot of sightseeing and plenty of good food. The morning exercise really kept me going!

The next leg of our trip was in Hawaii where we stayed with my brother on the island of Oahu. His house is on the side of a steep hill which made the morning run very interesting. I actually only ran twice, but the first run was so memorable and one of the highlights of my trip. The first day in Hawaii, we went to the farmers market at Kapiolani Community College and picked up some fruit and had lunch. I saw a bunch of runners and my cousin Taylor said that many people run around Diamond Head and that it was probably the most popular run on the island. Well, that piqued my interest! So right then I decided I wanted to do that run, but I didn’t know if I needed to drive and park somewhere near the beginning of the run.

Diamond Head Crater Sign
Diamond Head Crater Sign

A couple of days later, though, I woke up before everyone else and went for a run down the hill and headed towards Diamond Head. Before long, I was at the community college we visited before, so I decided to try to run around Diamond Head. I stopped a few times to check Google maps to make sure I was going the right way but eventually I found myself running along with several others going east on Diamond Head road and completing the loop around the crater, then I headed back towards the house. I was on cloud nine! When I reached the steep hill I had to walk up it, but was still in a really happy state and that set the mood for the rest of the day, if not the rest of the trip!

If you like to exercise and like to travel, I highly recommend taking along some gear on your next vacation. Running gear is usually pretty light so it’s easy to pack, and running in a new environment is super fun and interesting. You’ll also have plenty of energy because the newness of the environment is so invigorating!

By the way, I ended up buying a more conservative short-sleeve running shirt while in Japan, so I didn’t have to wear my neon green tank!

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