In years past, I’ve written about my running adventures while on vacation--beachfront runs in Australia, stumbling upon a marathon in Argentina and treadmill workouts in India. Running on vacation, or sight-running, as I like to call it, is one of my favorite ways to see a new place. There’s no better way to get to know a new city or patch of countryside than to run it.
So what do you do when your vacation seems to be in an anti-running destination? What do you do when there’s nowhere to run?
I write you now from the island of Qamea in Fiji, where I am enjoying my honeymoon. The resort I’m staying at is perched beside the most beautiful blue lagoon and small white sand beach. But beyond the resort lies an impenetrable rain forest that shoots straight up a mountainside. While this makes for the type of secluded honeymoon that dreams are made of, in a setting perfect for any hollywood film shooting a movie set in paradise, it isn’t so great for running. The beach abruptly ends after a quarter of a mile in jagged rocks and cliffs. The small gym, which boasts an ergometer and free weights, has no treadmill. Even the resort manager apologizes sheepishly that there is really nowhere to run.
In preparation for the trip, I told myself I’d take two weeks off from training for the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov. 18. I’d let myself enjoy a slothful two weeks of fish and fruit fueled indulgence, relying on snorkeling and swimming to substitute for exercise. In a bold effort to stay true to this promise, I didn’t even pack my sneakers. Gasp!
Easier said than done. There is a rub, and the rub is: I’m addicted to running.
On just the second day of the trip, my legs began feeling that familiar twitch, the twitch that says, “take me for a spin!”
What was I to tell my legs? A cruel, “No! Island honeymoons are not the time and place for a run”?
So I did what any other person inflicted with the running bug would do. I ran anyway, forging a .70-mile loop (my best guess–along with my sneakers, I left my GPS watch at home) around the resort. The loop includes the sandy stretch of beach, a grass patch past the restaurant and main office to a service path behind the buildings and thatched huts that house guests, across a chicken wire covered bridge to the spa in the jungle and back again.
In my bare feet, I blazed this trail with both guests and staff members heckling me in a friendly manner as I ran loop after loop, winching as I ran across the chicken wire, digging deep to make it across the shifting sand, and drilling hard on the soft, feels-so-good grass.
I’ve done three resort runs now, trying to best myself on each consecutive loop or running intervals on a quarter mile patch of path.
The funny thing about running in a place where there is nowhere to run are the conversations it strikes up. Other guests and staff have asked me about my strange running habit– do I run a lot, how many miles at a time do I run, do I normally run barefoot, what type of running do I do, things like that. I’ve never answered so many questions about my running habits in my life, nor have this many people ever seemed so interested in the strange person who is literally running circles around them.
I know I’m supposed to be here relaxing and enjoying a rare break from the trappings of my city life. But the thing is, running helps me relax.
So here’s to another island run. My afternoon snorkel will be that much more deserved and feel that much more refreshing.
See you all in another week!