Like most runners, I care about my time. Not enough to invest in fancy technology, but enough to consult my analogue wrist-watch when I start out and when I get back. Given the elevations of my island runs, I expect to have slower times compared to my flat mainland runs. But as it turns out, it’s not just the uphill challenges slowing me down.

Going for a run on my rock always ends up being more like an attempt at an American Ninja Warrior obstacle course than a well-paced trot through the woods. To illustrate, allow me give you a play-by-play:

Announcer 1, Pat: Alright ladies and gentlemen, today we have a forty-two year old runner out of Coral Bay who will be starting halfway down the hill. As you can see, she’s already stumbling on the loose rocks in her driveway as she climbs to the start line.

Announcer 2, Murray: Well Pat, that does not bode well given at least 3/4 of her course today is unpaved. Hopefully she can figure out some better footing or we’re going to be seeing a lot of bloody palms and knees.

Pat: Not to mention the screams. Oh, here we go Murray!  She’s taken off downhill at a very, umm… cautious pace. It will be interesting to see how she navigates the road when it narrows up ahead, especially with that large utility truck barreling towards her.

Murray: Oh, she went for the muddy ditch! Well, that was one option. Okay, now things are leveling out and we’re getting near the paved road. Wait Pat, is that what I think it is?

mud run

Pat: Sure is, Murray! A pitbull off-leash barking and chasing her around the corner. Boy, has her pace picked up. Alright, out on the paved street now. Looks like she’s hitting all the obligatory waves to passing cars and people in their yards. You like to see that kind of hand position-palm out, fingers straight. Hold up, what’s going on here?

Murray: Looks like one of her neighbors driving by stopped to chat, Pat. Seems like this might take some time. Her jog-in-place is starting to slow down.

Pat: And there it is. The full stop. You just really hate to see that in a timed event. But oh look, the neighbor’s finally pulling away…

Murray: That’s right, Pat! And she’s headed into a more isolated neighborhood so maybe she can start to pick up some speed. Good side to side work avoiding those muddy ruts.

Pat: I agree Murray. Doesn’t look like it’s her first time leaping over potholes. Uh oh, there’s some trouble ahead…

Murray: You said it, Pat. A group of donkeys spread out across the road. And they don’t give way for anybody. She’s going to have to go off to the side.

Pat: And she does Murray. Right into the Catch and Keep! Look at those arms flailing back and forth. A real display of range of motion. Okay, now she’s headed back up another hill.

Murray: Yeah Pat, and here’s really where it becomes a game of inches. You can see she’s moving just a few inches a minute.

Pat: Well, at least it gives us time to break for the Halftime Show. Plants in Paradise brings you the lifespan of the Century plant in real time! Back after the break.

View of Coral Bay and Hurricane Hole

Pat: Okay we’re back and she’s just crested the hill.

Murray: Here’s really where I’d like to see her make up some time. But wait, who’s in that truck slowing down to talk to her? That’s not a neighbor…

Pat: It sure isn’t, Murray. It’s a young man drinking a beer while driving at 10am fulfilling his island duty by flirting with her. We’ve seen this before. There’s the friendly banter and the flattery-induced laugh. Okay, he’s pulling away now.

Murray: Yes Pat, and we are headed into the final uphill stretch. That joking around really seems to have taxed our athlete’s cardiovascular fitness.

Pat: Yeah, you just really hate to see a runner gasping for air so desperately like that. Good thing she only has to climb a 1,000 feet over the next half-mile, avoid a herd of rutting goats, watch out for the roaming pitbull, and talk to at least three more neighbors before she crosses the finish line.

Murray: You think she’ll beat her previous time, Pat?

Pat: I sure hope so, Murray. Otherwise it’s going to be a long morning.

–   –   –

Suffice it to say, when I check my Swatch at the end of my runs, I’m not too disappointed my times are so slow. I might not be improving as a runner while on this island, but I’ve always got a story to tell when I get home.

Written By:

Current Rock of Residence:

St. John, USVI

Island Girl Since:

February 2015

Originally Hails From:


Jennifer, her girlfriend, and their two French bulldogs decided to move to St. John after significant soul searching, careful financial consideration, and impeccable planning. As if! Instead, they made a crazy offer on a house while on vacation, were shocked when the mortgage came through, and left everything behind to come to a 7-mile long rock in the middle of the Caribbean with no plan. They still have no plan, but all the intoxicated people Jennifer keeps meeting assure her she’ll figure something out. In the meantime, she’ll be transcribing her adventures in island life where previously mundane activities – like going to get the mail – can have the dramatic arc of a great Russian novel. To follow more of her adventures, check out her blog, Detached and Amused.

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