Saturday, December 28, 2013

Big Hills and Boston

I started the day early in order to get the Nail Bay loop in with a friend before a couple meetings and getting myself to Tortola. Confirming your running date at the bar the night before, like I did last night, is always a dangerous move and our start time went from 6:45 to 7:30 by the time we both got home. It is worth running early around here, before it heats up, and we got through the first half of the run with a few dry spots to wipe the sweat from our eyes left on our shirts. In the second half, the hilly part, I didn’t have a dry spot on me anywhere! The last hill up to Hog Heaven was a killer. It starts at sea level and just keeps going. Once you reach the bar it is smooth sailing on a flat road followed by a big down hill to home. Even though I have run it before and know it is a bigger hill than it appears, when we came around the corner that feels like it should the top we could see Hog Heaven another mile up and both of our strides faltered a little. We made it through, of course, and rewarded ourselves with a stretch break at the top. “Stretching” is really just an excuse to take in the view, and it is a good one! We finished the run and I had about 45 minutes to make the ferry for my meeting. I chugged some water, jumped in the shower and made it out the door in time to flag a lift down the hill from a local chef. It’s a pretty small community in Virgin Gorda, especially the North Sound area, so it pays to be friendly and respectful to everyone you meet since you never know when you will meet them again, usually right about the time you need a ride!
On the run up the hill Phil and I were discussing how a really hard run makes you feel pretty invincible for the rest of the day. If you’ve run 10k uphill before breakfast, think of what else you could do! With this in mind I went to a meeting to discuss a potential job. I was sweaty and flustered with my duffel bag on my back when I arrived at the meeting. Thankfully the manager was a bit flustered himself and was running late. I managed to cool off and stop sweating before he arrived! The meeting went really well which is all I’m going to say at the moment, to prevent any chicken counting jinxing. The best part of the meeting was that the manager was headed to Tortola afterwards and offered to give me a lift, saving me a taxi across the island, a ferry ride, and about $40!
Arriving in Tortola brought me back to an island version of reality. I hate Tortola. Ok ok, I should say I dislike Tortola, it’s not St. Maarten after all.  I know the North Sound is a special bubble to live in, but it is hard to leave. Once in Tortola I walked down the dock with my bag on my back looking forward to a Dockmaster’s sandwich. But in true Tortola fashion they were closed so I walked down the street and into a restaurant that used to be quite good and ordered a sandwich. The restaurant is no longer that good, and it’s overpriced. Then I tried to hitch or catch the bus out of town, neither of which was proving to be a successful endeavor so I hailed a taxi and paid through the teeth to go 3 miles. Now I’m sitting at a bar, with a Painkiller in front of me so I guess all is well that ends well, and it’s really not that bad.

Just like running at different times in the day can make a difference in how you run, how you feel afterwards and how your day goes, my blogs are affected by when I sit down and write them. Since I had such a hectic morning I didn’t get a chance to write until now, now being after I viewed a short film about the One Run for Boston Relay, and it has completely changed the direction I was going to go with in today’s blog.
I am sitting at this bar, drinking a Painkiller because I needed some Wifi in order to view a video documentary a friend made. Robin has started his own small production company and does a lot of short films on endurance sports. He has recently been asked to make a film about last years One Run for Boston Relay that went from LA to Boston. I hadn’t heard about the relay but encourage everyone to look it up and participate in some way if it is in your state. Robin was one of the first people I ran into last year after the Marathon Bombing and when he extended his condolences I could barely hold back tears. I had  found out about the bombing via text message the night before and still didn’t know much when I saw him on the dock. I am fully on board with the texting phenomenon that my generation is obsessed with, but finding out bad news in a two line text is pretty harsh. I had been sailing from St. Barths to Antigua and was arriving in Antigua pretty late. The bars were still open and a friend was arranging picking up the crew from our boat to go ashore when she told me as a BTW that “some shit went down in Boston during the race.” When I told the captain that something bad had happened and that I wanted to go ashore to find out more he sternly told us that we were not to get off of the boat that night for immigration reasons. (He hadn’t been to Antigua and didn’t understand that they are pretty lax with boats clearing in immediately.) I had quite a few friends participating in last year’s race and know a lot of people who were watching on the sidelines. One of my best friends lives in an apartment on the block where the bomb went off so I was extremely anxious to get some news. I texted Alex since phone calls from international phones roaming in another country aren’t cheap and it was the easiest way to know immediately that at least all of my friends were safe, if not shaken up. I am incredibly sorry for the damage and injury that was caused by the bomb thankful that it didn’t do more damage to more people’s lives but am still in shock that it happened in my back yard. And to runners. Who would want to hurt a runner? We inflict enough pain on ourselves! And it’s running! It must be the most benign sport to exist, even curling has more drama. There are no sides, no beliefs, nothing you can even be against. You can be against Nike’s use of child labor or TechWick Tees that don’t biodegrade, but you really can’t be against running.
As the story unfolded I was offshore again and only caught bits and pieces of the news. 24 hour news creates drama where there isn’t any, and in a case where there is plenty of drama, it adds smoky fuel to the fire. I was happy to get the news on my own terms, when we were close enough to a port to get internet signal, and happy to find out that they caught the men who did it, but I will never understand how a group of people running a marathon could be a target for any violent act. There is not a single Deity or religion that preaches violence and killing. Please don’t tell me you are acting in the name of your God, at least take responsibility for your own ignorance, hate and anger.
Though I have looked around and find that I am pretty spiritual, especially when sailing offshore, the closest I have come to a religion is running. It is something that is with me at all different points in my life. It is demanding and rewarding and it makes me live in a way that allows me to get up and go again tomorrow.
Here is my little running prayer for you;
May your feet always find new pavement and may your hamstrings never be tight.

These are pictures from when a group of us ran the BAA half on 10/10/10. 

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