About two years ago, I gave Vibrams a try. I really liked them for about 6 weeks; then one day I was on a run when my foot started hurting very bad. When things didn’t get better the next day I made a doctors appointment, diagnosis tendonitis. Once I recovered I gave up the Vibrams and stuck to ‘normal’ running shoes, until yesterday…
We took a ferry to Water Island, which is about 10 mins from St. Thomas. I spent most of the day snorkeling and we decided we would catch the last ferry back to St. Thomas which left at 2100 hrs. Around 1800 hrs. I decided I didn’t want to run really late back on St. Thomas and that I would run here. I asked the shuttle driver how far it was to the dock, he told me it was .7 of a mile. I didn’t bring my running shoes with me, he asked what I was going to run in. I told him I’d go barefoot. I knew it was going to be a challenge, especially the hills. I started running and quickly realized it was going to be a bit harder than I had thought, loose gravel and asphalt really hurt my feet. When I got to smooth areas it was such a relief. After running for a while I realized I was lost. I know you really can’t get lost on an island, but I didn’t know where the dock was and my feet were really starting to hurt. I ran down a road that said private drive, hoping to run into someone! A jeep was driving up the road and I waved at them to stop. I asked them which way it was back to Dinghy’s? They said they didn’t know and remarked I had forgotten my shoes. I told them I didn’t I was just running barefoot. Since they were not any help I kept running. The asphalt road ended and a rocky dirt road started, I decided to turn around my feet weren’t going to be able to handle it. Finally I came across someone who gave me directions back to Dinghy’s. I descended the steep hill and ran across the beach and right into the water to sooth my feet and cool off. I had been running for about 30-35 mins, I estimate I went about 2.5 miles. Some areas I had to walk because of the loose gravel. When I got out of the water it felt like I had a blister, I looked at the bottom of my foot and sure enough. I had a blister on my left foot, a blood blister about the size of a half dollar coin. My foot is still sore today and perhaps running barefoot wasn’t the best idea, but you have to do what you have to do to keep the run streak alive! 286 Days!!!
The first few weeks of running had been going well for both the run streak and as a vegetarian. The cleanse had not been as difficult as I thought it would be, though by day 17 or 18 I had to stop taking the vitamin pills you are suppose to. There were just to many and they were to big. It was hard to swallow them and my throat was getting sore. I had also learned a few lessons about how I would need to run to make sure the streak would keep going. First, if you think you are going out in the evening, run in the morning or afternoon. There were a few times I was pounding the pavement at 1 or 2 in the morning to keep the streak alive…not the best idea. Second, I would need to make sure to ‘rest’ a few times a week by only running one mile. Third, make sure that I stayed hydrated.
With those lessons in hand, I was off to Mexico!
Two of my friends were getting married and having a destination wedding. I had met them through running about a year and a half earlier and became really good friends with them. I met Cat first, at City Sports Run Club, and through her Eric (he doesn’t run). It was a great opportunity to go to the wedding and take a vacation for a week. On day #23 of the run streak I landed in Cancun, Mexico! It was the perfect time to go, the weather in Baltimore had started turning colder, so running in warmer weather would be nice.
After checking in at the resort, which was all inclusive, and having a welcome drink it was time to run. I looked at the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort map and planned out a loop that would be about 2 miles and I was out the door and running. I ran along the roadway around the resort and along the beach for a little while and back to the hotel lobby. Just as I was getting back Cat and Eric were walking out to begin greeting other guest, it was a welcomed surprise to see them. I hadn’t seen them in over a month since they had been busy with wedding planning. We chatted briefly and Cat informed me of the wedding theme #kittyfunk and the dinner plans. We were going to a steakhouse. Cat was worried I wouldn’t be able to find anything I could eat on the menu, but I assured her I would be able to.
After showering I met up with everyone at the hotel bar and we went to the steakhouse, which was included in the resort package. All-inclusive resorts are amazing! After looking at the menu, I quickly realized there wasn’t an option for vegetarians and not much I could eat. When the waiter came I told him, I would just be eating the bread. He asked why and I explained, he left, went to the kitchen I assumed, and came back and said the chef would be able to prepare a plate of steamed veggies for me! Yes veggiefuel! Most of the week was like that when we went to dinner, for the rest of the meals it was buffet-style so things weren’t an issue.
At dinner these little peppers came with some of the meals. The waiter told us they were very hot and spicy. Someone tried a small bite and confirmed they were hot. I decided I would eat the whole pepper at once…what a bad idea! My whole face was burning from the inside out, I could feel the heat inside my ear canals. I couldn’t believe how hot it was, everyone had a good laugh, even the waiter who eventually brought me some milk and bread to tone down the heat. Oddly the milk is served warm in Mexico, but I was glad to have it! (I laughed too once I didn’t feel like my face was when on fire)
It was a great first day in Mexico and the rest of the week was shaping up to be the same way, I was going scuba diving (I have been a diver for over 20 years), the wedding party had rented a catamaran, the wedding itself, a week of relaxation, and of course running! After dinner we went to the hotel bar and had a few drinks and those of us who run agreed to meet up the next morning and run together. We pretty much did that every day of the trip, we would all run different distances and stop when we wanted to, if running can be relaxing, that is how we were running. I always got my mile in and most days I ran 3.
On day #26 my legs were really starting to hurt, they were aching all over and when I would get up after sitting I would need to wait a few seconds before walking or I would be hobbling the first few steps. I think my legs were trying to tell me running that many days in a row was not a good idea and they wanted to rest. There was a spa at the resort and I thought about getting a massage, except I don’t like massages (or at least I thought I didn’t). I’d never had one before and I don’t like strangers touching me, just a weird quirk. So after asking tons of questions to my friends who have had them and another day of aching legs and running I decided to make an appointment at the spa. I was really nervous, I wasn’t sure what to expect even though everyone had told me what to expect and that I would enjoy it. I arrived at the spa and explained I wanted a Sports Massage, whatever that meant, it sounded like what I needed after all I was running everyday. They explained that a Sports Massage stretches the muscles and helps you relax, so it was what I needed. They escorted me to the locker room and told me to put my clothes in a locker, where I would find a robe and then meet them back in the hallway. I was feeling more tense now that I was actually going through with this, but trying to be optimistic. After getting ready, I was escorted to the ‘relaxation’ room. Basically a waiting room before the massage, it is dimly lit, incense is burning, soft music playing. It actually did relax me, but it seemed like I was in there forever, which annoyed me. Then another person came in, I didn’t know whether it was okay to talk in the relaxation room so I chose not to say anything to them. Finally the masseuse came to get me, after explaining the massage and going over the aching areas she left the room so I could get under the covers. She came back in and started the massage, after a few tense minutes I started to relax and realize…this was awesome!!! The 60 minutes had gone by really quickly and I was bummed I didn’t go for a 90 minute massage or longer! When the massage was over my legs felt rejuvenated and ready to go! My advice to anyone who is unsure about a massage is find a reputable place and get one!!! The way I look at it is, that it is a medical procedure and there isn’t anything to be nervous about. Since that first massage, I’ve gotten several more to help keep my legs and muscles relaxed. I actually became a member at Massage Envy and go once a month, it has really helped. Getting a massage is one thing I wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t for the run streak, thank goodness for the run streak and trying new things!
On day #28 Cat and Eric got married in the afternoon on the beach, it was beautiful ceremony! Between the ceremony and the reception there was about 2 hours, so I got my run in! I had gone scuba diving earlier in the day, so this was a great time to fit it in. At the reception when dinner came they brought me chicken, I had RSVP’d before becoming a vegetarian. I didn’t think I would be able to eat, but once again the hotel staff and chef were very understanding and prepared a vegetarian meal for me. After dinner music was playing, tequila was flowing, we were all dancing, we danced for hours, and at the end of the night Cat and Eric changed into ‘wedding’ bathing suits and jumped in the pool, pretty much everyone followed fully clothed. We had a blast! One of the most fun weddings I have been too!
On day #30 it was time to head back to Baltimore. I ran that morning, the last time I would be able to run in nice weather until the spring. While running I tried to soak in the whole week, it was a great week, just spending time with new and old friends, scuba diving, sailing on a catamaran, and being on the beach. A great destination and a great way to round out the first month of the running streak!