Mary Jean Yon
Eight days at sea. Eight days of gorgeous scenery in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Eight challenging, if not treacherous, runs! I couldn’t help but think of Gary Griffin’s words from a Sunday run a couple of weeks before when he struck up a conversation about trips he had made where running was difficult, if not entirely impossible. And yet here I was, touring the BVI in a sailboat with your Past-Prez, his doctor and the doctor’s favorite nurse and somehow knowing we were about to challenge the running gods themselves!
It started with the good Doctor’s comment that all we really needed to do was run 30 minutes a day and we would be able to maintain our fitness level. Whether the Doc or the Past-Prez could take on that fast little Irish girl upon their return was not discussed. At any rate, the first run of the trip was indeed 30 minutes for me and took place along the streets of Roadtown on the Island of Tortola where cars drive at a suicidal pace on the wrong side of the road and sidewalks are at a premium! One run like that and we were all glad to board the boat! Run #2 was our first tip that things weren’t going to be easy on this trip! We explored hilly Peter Island in the heat of the mid-day sun and enjoyed some breathtaking vistas along the way. Unfortunately, I think the heat threw some sort of switch in you Past-Prez’s head. It soon became obvious that he wasn’t buying into this 30-minute theory and the next morning he extended Run #3 to include extra hills while the rest of us were content to repeat the previous day’s effort.
Runs ## 4 and 5 brought more heat and hills, but this time on Virgin Gorda. We survived. It was after this point that things got really ugly – figuratively speaking! Run #6 took us to Anegada Island where somebody had the bright idea to run the 5 miles back to the boat after snorkeling. The nurse was the only one smart enough to pass on this and we watched her leave on the shuttle wondering why she was grinning so slyly. This was the first place I experienced that inner ear confusion (while running) that keeps the rocking motion of the sea going long after you’ve set foot on land. Picture the scene. I am running down a dirt road, sun blazing on me, temperatures surely in the 90’s, and I am rocking so bad I am convinced I am going to fall over – sideways. Relief has never seemed sweeter as when that run was over.
The next day we changed sufferers and rotated to the Past-Prez. Run #7 took place at Sage Mountain National Park on the other side of Tortola. We thought we were so smart. We had found a park with forested trails and elevations high enough to invoke a little coolness. What we didn’t count on was the difficulty of the footing. I stopped my watch every time I got nervous and only emerged with 20 minutes of running time. The Past-Prez listened to the call of the wild and ran off and left all of us. When he returned, we noticed a slight limp and that night on the boat, the nurse broke out her first aid kit and attended to his purple toe and swollen foot. Ouch! But do let it be known that the purple toe did not stop him from dancing later that night at Quito’s!
Run #8 took place on an island named Jost Van Dyke and seemed relatively sane; perhaps out of respect for the heat or maybe more because of those outrageous hills. Or just maybe it was “the toe?” Who knows, who cares? All I know is the end of the trip was at hand and we all seemed to have survived in good spirits. After returning to the boat, we took one last little jaunt along the back streets of Tortola and then returned to our hotel to wait for the rocking to stop. On the flight home, I found myself agreeing with Gary, that there certainly are trips where running is difficult, but that such challenges just add spice to an already enjoyable outing.