19.6 miles at 8:26 average.

This run doesn’t look all that impressive on paper, but it is one run that I am more proud of than any I can remember. While I have training runs or workouts that I am happy with or excited about throughout any normal training cycle, it is rare that I would say that I am truly PROUD of a training run.

What makes this one different?

As I mentioned in my weekly recap, I had anxiety about running in Jamaica. Especially when I found out I was scheduled for the longest run of the training cycle while I was there. And even more when a scheduled day off on Monday meant that I would be doing this run on Sunday before we left. And then BEYOND when I learned that we would need to leave the hotel for the airport at 8 am Sunday. That meant starting the run no later than 4:45. In Jamaica. In the dark.

I briefly considered waiting until we got back to Chicago to run. But that meant starting a 20-mile run at 6 pm after traveling all day. And since I needed to unpack, do laundry and repack to leave for Germany the next day…I just didn’t see it as an option.

If there had been a treadmill at the hotel, it would have been a no-brainer. Sure, the outdoor portion would be hot as hell and miserable but I would run the first 5 miles on the TM then head outside when it was daylight. But I was at a boutique hotel with no gym and no treadmill. So outside it was.

We went to bed early Saturday night and I easily fell asleep by 10. I slept well for about 2.5 hours then slept like absolute shit between 12:30 and 4, when I finally decided to just get up. My nose was stuffed up and I was having bizarre dreams, undoubtedly related to the run. I decked myself out with a headlamp, reflective vest, blinky lights and a water belt then headed to the hotel gate at 4:45. When the front desk guy unlocked it for me, he was both baffled by my desire to run at that stupid hour and impressed by all my gear.

I had decided that I was going to stay within a 1/2 mile of the hotel until it was light out. I went back and forth for about an hour…0.5 miles in one direction and 0.25 miles in the other. I ran slow-ish for those miles (8:30+) and was on high alert for anything that could be suspicious. The only thing of note was a guy sitting in the dark in front of a house across from my hotel, smoking weed and asking me questions every time I came by (“Where are you from?” “Oh American girl!” “How far you going?” “Oh, you are fit…still running!”) and sometimes just mumbling things that were completely unintelligible. I was mildly nervous by his presence but the hotel was right there, so I figured I would be fine.

After what seemed like forever, the sun came up and I was able to drop the night gear at the hotel. I was so grateful for daylight and felt so much lighter without all of the gear. As I took off for the longest out and back section, I realized that I since I had been so anxious about safety, I hadn’t spent any time considering whether I would be able to actually run for 2 hours and 45 minutes in that heat and humidity. I had started slowly on purpose but the heat was already affecting me and I wasn’t even in double digits yet.

On my way toward downtown Negril I came up on a house whose gate was being protected by a pack of dogs. I had seen them earlier, but this time, as I attempted to pass the house, they came charging at me. Everything I know about how you should react in this situation went out the window as I instinctively turned around and tried to run from the dogs (dumb.) I was expecting one to bite me just as a man popped his head over the stone wall of the house and screamed at all of them. They quickly retreated and he yelled to me to “throw stones at them next time.”

My heart was racing from the sprint, but I realized that the shot of adrenaline actually made me feel the best I had all day. The next several miles to the turn around were uneventful and I hit mile 10 feeling decent, reminding myself to take it one section at a time. At this point, my shoes were already soaked with sweat and white foam was squishing out with every step I took.

I ran out of water at 12.5 so the 1.5 miles to get back to the hotel felt really long. I refilled with cold water and Nuun and drank half a coke from the refrigerator. {I knew that was going to be either be brilliant or the dumbest move ever}. It tasted delicious and the extra calories meant I wouldn’t have to choke down a 3rd Gu. I felt like a new person and set out to finish. I had broken the run in small chunks and at that point, it was the only thing keeping me moving. I told myself “2 out (opposite direction of the dogs) and 2 back to get to 18.”. I celebrated every single mile after that. 16…yes! 17…good job! 18…awesome!

When I got to 18, I was running short on time so I knew I wouldn’t get 20. I decided to go 7 min out and back and then 2:45 and DONE! I took my chances and went toward the dogs since they were gone on my last trip by. When I went by on the way out, one came out. I bent over to pick up a rock and he scurried off quickly. But on the way back they were out. ALL of them. I had rocks and threw them but only a few were even phased. They ran toward me again but this time I kept running in the same direction, which for some reason, made them less aggressive. They chased for a few steps, then stopped. Thanks to the dogs, it was my fastest split of the day…7:58.

I was absolutely exhausted, more sweaty than I ever have been after a run but also so, so proud of getting through it. I am sure some of you will think what I did was stupid. And I get that. I respect that running in the dark in a place like that is not something everyone would do or thinks is okay. But I definitely understood the risks and to be honest, I just hoped for the best. I am really happy with the decision in the end and also feel like this was a good mental toughness training for Chicago.

About Corey

I am a 30-something swim, bike, run addict married to my best friend and in love with my two schnoodle doggies.
This entry was posted in friends, Goals, running, training, Travel, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Proud

  1. I probably would have quit after being chased by dogs. Nice job!

  2. erin says:

    You are dedicated! Way to get it done on vacation – and, at a solid pace, too! I ran on vacation last year in the Bahamas (on the tiny island of Bimini) and had the bf not ran with me, I would have been anxious, too. You are ready to rock Chicago! Have a great weekend 🙂

  3. elizabeth says:

    people always think i’m nuts for running on vacation-but i’m of the same mindset as you- find a way to get it in. I would’ve freaked out by the dogs and the dark and the man (given my past) but you figured it all out. At least the dude was entertaining? So glad you were able to get it in. And I swear, sometimes I feel more safe in an unknown place. Is that odd?

  4. Pingback: NYCM Training Week 14

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