Here was my grand idea: Work hard, run a marathon, then go sit on the beach and do nothing like a normal person. This is something that I have never done. Every trip seems to be planned around running. I find myself in these incredible locations only to feel like I need to go to bed early, eat responsibly and get up early to torture myself in the morning. I cannot count how many exotic places I have raced but felt like I never had the opportunity to enjoy the area. So for the Virgin Islands, I was going to try something new. I was going to take a vacation.
This was going well until three weeks before my marathon, I strained my hamstring. It wasn’t one of those injuries that was just a nagging pain. I couldn’t run faster than a stroll without tearing pain. I hobbled along until I gave up on the idea of running the Pittsburgh Marathon; but having put in months of work and desperately wanting a miraculous recovery, I thought maybe I could rebound for another marathon 5-6 weeks later. The only problem with this is that my trip to the Virgin Islands sat in the middle. So I dutifully packed my running gear and committed to continuing my training through my vacation once again.
The island is stereotypical Caribbean gorgeous with crystal clear water lapping onto white sand beaches. It had once been completely cleared of its forest to produce sugar cane but Mother Nature rolled her eyes and has reclaimed the land. Hidden beneath a dense forest are endless stone ruins of a once bustling island. The place looks like it should be haunted.
I quickly discovered the reason people do nothing but sit around and drink pina coladas is that if you get any ideas of doing something with effort, that perfect weather will instantly feel absolutely miserable. The weather was a steady 80 degrees and 80% humidity. Since it is exactly the same temperature at 6AM and noon, the idea of getting up early to run in the “cool” part of the day was irrelevant. To compound the problem, the island’s trails and roads are nearly vertical. My attempts to run were comical. In other words, there was really no reason to get out of bed at all. Each passing day made a marathon seem like a ridiculously bad idea.
Instead I worked on my tan lines and snorkeled with turtles. I slept in. I stayed up late. I drank “pain killers” even though I didn’t have any pain to kill. I ate fish so fresh I watched it carted in through the door. I allowed myself to be coated in sand and didn’t mind. For the first time in a long time, I took a vacation and it was good. I might just have to try that again.