We are almost to Tahiti. We are almost to Tahiti! I find this so hard to believe, as Tahiti has been a bit of a distant dream for these past three years, despite our active plan to get there. The number of miles left to run has remained in the 4 digit area code for what feels like so long.
I truly can’t believe it but we collectively have less than 800 miles to run. Less than 800 miles to white sandy beaches, crystalline waters, sea creatures, tropical cocktails, and exotic adventures. Less than 800 miles to our Honeymoon!
That 800 miles will fly by. How do I know this? Because we’ve created a built-in carrot to insure that we keep on track for this final stretch. It’s called the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 11. If Brad and I stick to our training schedule, which we simply must if we have any hope of finishing our first marathon, we will arrive running on the shores of Tahiti the week of December 15. Just in time for Christmas. Happy Christmas to us! We won’t actually make travel plans and get there until sometime in the spring, but this Christmas you can bet our hearts will be in French Polynesia.
The road has been paved with literal blood, sweat, and tears. As well as vomit, panic attacks, dirt, chaffed skin, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, and sunburns. Amidst the injuries and struggles we’ve also had joy, laughs, adventures, and some of the best memories in our 7 years together so far. That’s what running is all about. The incredible beauty in the challenge.
After Tahiti Brad will likely scale back on mileage and FINALLY get rid of the pesky plantar fasciitis that plagues him. I see a bicycle and a swim cap in Brad’s future. Me? I think I’ll stick with running for awhile. It’s become a very important part of me. Running makes me feel strong, sane, and grounded. As long as I’m injury free (knock on wood) I think I’ll always be running somewhere. The question is, where should we run to next?
I have some very exciting news to announce everyone! Although we haven’t quite stayed on track in terms of the timing of our journey to Tahiti (we originally planned a schedule that would get us there by Spring 2013, which, as you can see, didn’t happen at all), we are definitely still on our way. Very much so. We’ve been “running in the Pacific” a bit longer than expected, but hey, the water is warm and there have been lots of interesting stories to collect along the way. So what is the news?
As of July 2013, Brad and I are halfway to Tahiti!!
Now, that may sound pretty lame considering I just reminded you that we originally hoped to be there 5 months ago, but reserve your judgement and join us in the celebration. There are nuggets of wisdom here.
Goals matter. They drive us. They make us DO things, and not just dream about doing them. I read a really sharp article last year on Cracked.com that has stuck with me for a long time. To sum up, the writer illustrates in several different ways the uselessness of the well-intentioned, and the power of action. Being a good person, caring about the less fortunate, having dreams and aspirations. None of it means squat if you don’t DO anything about it. It’s a simple concept but somehow this article laid down a few metaphors that really hit the message home.
In thinking about the thesis mentioned in the previous paragraph, I can honestly say that I’m proud of us. We rock. Yes we’re only halfway to Tahiti by the date we intended to be ON Tahiti; but that only means one thing to me, WE’RE HALFWAY TO TAHITI!!! We’ve run 2,054 miles between the two of us and saved as much money. We rock.
Nothing goes as planned. If you have an example of a goal or life event that went EXACTLY as planned, by all means, share in the comments. Prove me wrong. In my experience, life always mixes things up a bit. The trick is to not let life’s minor or major detours derail you completely from what is truly important to you. So yes, it has been harder than expected to meet our weekly mileage goals. We could have let that discourage us and we could have turned around and headed back to shore. Nope. When my stint on the AMC took up two years of my life, when Brad’s massive understudying gig at the Geffen made running time impossible, when we got colds or flus or injuries, or when we fell during a race and and sprained our ankle for a month, you know what we did?
Nobody said it would be an easy run. We didn’t give up.
And here’s the final nugget of wisdom I take from this milestone. We’ve come too far to turn back. Once you pass that halfway point, the cost benefit becomes more worthwhile to just keep heading towards your goal instead of turning around and going back. We are stuck out in the middle of the Pacific surrounded by sharks and jellyfish, and it’s literally going to hurt just as much to MAKE it to our destination as it would to give up and go home, which makes the choice pretty clear. That’s an exciting feeling, and it motivates me to keep going until we get there. Do or die. I can’t help but feel that all goals, even ones that don’t involve running to a tropical island, have a similar halfway point. I think it’s just harder to determine what that point is. Mileage between point A and point B provides tangible and quantifiable benchmarks for progress. The halfway mark to becoming a successful artist, or starting your own business, or writing a novel, or becoming an astronaut, or ANY dream, may be harder to pinpoint, but I believe it’s there. I believe we reach a point in all of our endeavors where it’s easier to finish than it is to give up. This running goal, Running to Tahiti, has taught me to believe in that; to believe that by putting one foot in front of the other, we first begin, then we get a 1/3 of the way out, then we’re halfway there, then we see the goal in sight, then we reach for it it, and touch it, and smell it, and love it, and dance with it, and sing about it, and we HAVE it. We did it.
We can’t see the shore yet, but from this moment on, we know we are closer to Tahiti than we are to Los Angeles. We’ll be there soon, and we’ll send you a postcard.
I’ve been so focused on Disneyland Half Marathon training and Running for Wonderlust that I almost lost sight of where we’re going… Tahiti! If you’ve been following our journey from the beginning, you’ll recall that Brad and I got the idea to run to Tahiti because of a mini getaway to Petaluma last year. We were training for the D-Land half marathon at the time and had to get a 6 mile run in while in the bay area. Brad took us on a gorgeous 6 mile route through dairy farm country. It was so pleasant and peaceful. As I neared the culmination of The Happiest Runner on Earth, I wanted a new idea for a running blog. This trip to Petaluma provided the inspiration. Running and traveling. Running truly is a wonderful, if not perfect way to experience a new land. You have the earth beneath your feet, the wind in your face, the sun at your back, and you just soak up the local life through your pores. The added experience of not really knowing exactly where you are, or where you’ll end up, provides the perfect tinge of adventure that one should always have when traveling the globe.
Yesterday Brad and I took a mini-holiday to San Diego for the day. I’ll admit that I have mixed feelings about San Diego as a region. I’ll just say this, throughout our entire afternoon in La Jolla I saw maybe one person who wasn’t white. They need a diversity club. To live, I find San Diego a bit too homogeneous and manicured for my taste. It is however a beautiful place to visit. Absolutely gorgeous! There are a million fun things to do and see in San Diego so don’t get me wrong, I think you all should take a trip. Spend some time in “America’s Finest City.” (Everyone kept calling it that. I’m not sure why, but I’ll go with it).
I never understood the hub-bub about San Diego beaches. I figured, how can they be so great? We’ve got Malibu and Point Dume here in L.A. That’s enough. Oh, no no no. Malibu, Point Dume? Sorry but you ain’t got nothing on San Diego. The beaches are pristine, gorgeous. They remind me of the Mediterranean. Actually, you know what’s funny? The beach in La Jolla reminded me of the Northern California coast. Now hold on, before you say I’m crazy, let me explain. The clean sand, the dramatic cliffs, beautiful shoreline parks, rugged beach rocks, ocean peppered with dozens upon dozens of seals, huge surf, great white sharks. All things you find in NorCal. Only thing missing is the sun. If you just turn the sun up to level 10 up north, you’d have San Diego. Am I right?
Brad and I did our last training run along a white sandy beach in La Jolla, CA with the seals barking below and the sun glimmering on the water. We traversed rocks that looked like a moonscape, dug our feet in the clean white sand and stood in awe as dozens of surfers took on 10 foot swells in shark infested waters. Yes I said infested. There were 5 great white shark sightings in San Diego just in the day and a half we were down there. 2 sightings being in La Jolla cove, exactly where we found ourselves. One shark spotted in what they call the “children’s pool.” Oh shark, have you no decency? Needless to say Brad could not convince me to go snorkeling.
The afternoon reminded me that we are on a path. An adventure to paradise. We’re on this path together, and I couldn’t be happier. I love exploring new lands with you Brad Light. I cannot wait to get to Tahiti, and I cannot wait to find a beautiful running route once we get there!!
I like to indulge in a little Tahitian research while on my breaks at work. While browsing the interwebs today (by using GoodSearch for Theatre of NOTE!) I’m feeling overwhelmed by many things. First, the abundance of islands, atolls, lagoons, and archipelagos (what even IS an archipelago?) that make up French Polynesia. Look at the first sentence of the Wikipedia entry for Tahiti and you’ll quickly understand my fluster.
That’s a whole mess of groups and sub-groups. I clearly have a lot of research to do in order to get a handle on this whole Tahiti thing. See my problem is this; I’m the type of person who has to weigh every single option before I make a decision. It’s a curse. I cannot pick an ice cream flavor until I’ve carefully considered every single flavor available in the store. If I ever get married, I will be the god-awful bride that has to try on a thousand dresses before she can make a purchase. I’m just always worried that the next option I see will be better than the last. I mean how do you know it won’t be? How do you know??! I’ve never been good at that whole leap of faith thing. I realize how neurotic this is and I do actively try to engage my gut instinct and follow it blindly. That tactic has been successful at times, but I often revert back to my indecisive self. Which is why I now feel like I’m going to have to do extensive research on over 130 tropical islands before I can make travel plans.
130 islands! Yes, we’re going to running to Tahiti as our primary stop, but we want to venture to at least one other island. Out of 130, holy atoll batman, how do we decide???
More on the islands later, but if you are one of the lucky people in the world who has actually been to French Polynesia, can you help a beleaguered traveler out and send me some personal recommendations? These are the major questions on the table:
Which islands are best for diving/snorkeling?
How much time does one REALLY need in French Polynesia? In my dreams I’m hoping for a 2-week vacation but we’d have to bump the savings up to $2 per mile to make that happen. Will we be satisfied with 1 week?
Should we stay on an overwater bungalow or are they really bad for the local flora and fauna?
Which island should we visit besides Tahiti?
How much spending money do we need daily?
Should we use a travel agent? Even asking that question is antiquated in this day and age, but I’m seriously overwhelmed and might just need someone to hold my hand when I press the Purchase Tickets button
Which island is the least populated, yet still accessible to clueless American tourists?
Where can I find a zip-line in French Polynesia. I want to zip-line!
Whew! So many questions, but that is a good start. I’m glad I’ve got two years to plan this vacation. Yes yes, I know there are plenty of websites and travel books out there that I could read, and I will, but honestly there is nothing in the world like a personal referral. So if you have any advice, please do send it my way by leaving a comment on this post. I would love to hear your juicy Tahiti stories!
In lighter news, this is where we’re going. So purdy. Now if only I knew exactly which island this was: