Skip to content

🏃🏻‍♀️ Letter 85: Kailua-Kona Half Marathon Reflections, Diving With Manta Ray Ghosts, Vagabond

7 min

How would my life look differently without an Internet connection?

Aloha fellow learn-it-all

Greetings from Diamond Head, Hawai'i 🌺

This past weekend was one of the most high intensity emotional adventures I've ever had. I'm back from a solo trip on the Big Island that turned into a ladies weekend. I’m filled with joy and overflowing with gratitude for life. Below is a glimpse of the fishies I got to swim with.

If you are new here or missed last week's edition, you can catch up on the past letters here. If you are reading this for the first time, I’d love you to sign up below to join the other learn-it-alls:

More to continue on my studies of the sea while scuba diving at the end of this letter. But first, exciting news of a new achievement to add to my life resume.

Now, let’s dive into letter 85 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!

Kailua-Kona Half Marathon 🏃🏻‍♀️

I ran my first half-marathon on Ali'i Drive at the "end of the world"!

I still can’t believe I did it.

The morning after I looked in the mirror and I felt relief that it was over, satisfaction for the months of training that enabled me to complete it and most of all strength in my body and mind. I feel more courageous to do something for myself.

I woke at 3AM to drive over the course for some dynamic stretch, chug some caffeine and get warmed up. The drive over was serene with only billy goats and darkness. the black cement road next to black volcanic rock next to the twinkly sky. I felt the butterflies as if I was ten years old going off to a swim meet before the sun rose.

Nausea, drowsiness, tension, excitement and anxiety were all felt at once.

I feel silly saying this but my favorite part of the race was the one mile warm up I did before everyone else came. It was so quiet. I felt loose and calm and ready. Running a mile used to be my full workout. Now that's just my warm up... what the heck?!

Before last year, I could not fathom being able to push the limits of my body to such a distance.

When I started running during the pandemic, it was the first time that I started to enjoy running in my life. I did it for me, my mind and it made me feel good. Running helped me get out of bed on days when it felt pointless to. It was the only thing that felt good to do when the world was in a darker place.

Running has helped me to be more present and have an active conversation between the self-talk in my mind and how I am feeling in my body. My resistance comes out everyday of training to tell me I’m not good enough and can’t be a runner. But with this race against myself, it is more proof to be courageous in my life and not let those thoughts cloud my potential.

The first 3 miles felt like a breeze. Fastest 5K I’ve ever run. I had to dampen the inner child high within me jazzed with adrenaline and excitement as I crossed the starting line.

I'm not going to lie that the the 200 foot ascent and descent twice in the course were brutal. The last 2 miles were absolutely painful and the semi-hill at the end nearly toppled me off my goal of no walking or stopping.

2 hours and 20 minutes later, I completed the race.

My ultimate goal was completion with the stretch goal of 2 hours and 18 minutes. Two minutes shy— I'll take that!

I’m grateful for my feet and each stride they made and the inner cheerleader I’ve created up in my head to do hard things.

🔎 Word to define

Vagabond: Moving from place to place without a settled habitation; wandering.

Floating about without any certain direction; driven to and fro; strolling and idle or vicious.

One who wanders from place to place, having no fixed dwelling, or not abiding in it, and usually without the means of honest livelihood; a vagrant; a tramp; hence, a worthless person; a rascal.

The term vagabond carries the connotation of a simultaneously carefree and careless person. While it is usually not desirable to be a vagabond, the word does carry a romantic idea of living outside of the rat race. *

Below I have included the different uses of the word being an adjective versus a noun. I found that interesting how the meanings are so different.

Etymology being used as an adjective

early 15c. (earlier vacabond, c. 1400), from Old French vagabond, vacabond "wandering, unsteady" (14c.), from Late Latin vagabundus "wandering, strolling about," from Latin vagari "wander"

Etymology being used as a noun

c. 1400, earlier wagabund (in a criminal indictment from 1311); Despite the earliest use, in Middle English often merely "one who is without a settled home, a vagrant" but not necessarily in a bad sense. Notion of "idle, disreputable person" predominated from 17c.


Vagabonds choose to see the world as their oyster even though others may see them as homeless.

I see home as a feeling of comfort with myself and who is around me rather than a distinct location I am in. I 'feel' at home rather than am at home. This subtle nuance is one I have gradually changed since independently traveling away at age 18 from where I grew up in Michigan.

🌟 Quote to inspire

“A writer—and, I believe, generally all persons—must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.” - Jorge Luis Borges

My interpretation of quote: Use all experiences as a piece to our mosaic puzzle of life. Whether you see it as a success or failure, every moment in time is defining who you are.

❓ Question to think about

How would my life look differently without an Internet connection?

📷 Photos of the Week

What a beautiful sight right?!

I was overwhelmed with emotion. It was so simultaneously epic, beautiful, scary, numbing, exotic and calming. They looked like beautiful ghosts. Or even like Darth Vader starship as it lands with the wings coming down.

I had this moment where I felt terrified sitting on the bottom of the ocean in the dark. I was initially hyperventilating shivering from sitting watching and then my breathing slowed so much as I became entranced with the creatures. Similar to when I swam with a shark in letter 72, as I started to see myself as a fish I could calm myself down.

These manta ray creatures are majestic. I had the pleasure of watching a manta-train take place which is a mating ritual of having a male chase the female. They swam over the heads of me and my friends. Coming from someone who used to be terribly claustrophobic and afraid of the darkness within the unknown, I feel a lot braver.

Prior to seeing the manta rays, I did a dive during the daylight down to 95 feet. I later found out the feeling I felt of getting all giddy and high is a phenomenon called nitrogen narcosis that happened me near the bottom. I thought it was from being high on life of doing so many of my favorite things at once of being with friends while swimming and exploring.

It’s also called the Martini effect. Happy to now know I had the self-awareness of taking control of my breath and nearly meditating to get level headed again while so far away from the surface.

For a better shot of pre-saltiness and in awe of the animals we saw here are my friends I met while surfing and on that funky Bumble Bff app. I couldn’t have done this dive without these buddies. They helped me conquer my fears.

🙏 Shoutouts

I appreciate you reading this! If certain ideas resonated or you have feedback to improve my future newsletters, I’d love you to leave a comment, reply to this email, or send me a message on Twitter @JenVermet. If you want to learn more about who I am, I welcome you to visit my online home.

Never stop learning 😁

Mahalo 🌺


👣 Footnotes

If you’re reading this because someone shared this newsletter with you or you clicked a link somewhere, welcome! I’d love it if you subscribed below to receive future updates:


Subscribe to receive the latest posts in your inbox.