Tales from the Tropics continues with my return to the island of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos after 15 years. Once upon a time this was a quiet, relatively unknown paradise with an amazing stretch of beach that went on for miles and miles with a few resorts and beach front homes sporadically situated along it shores. The roads were few and the paved ones were fewer but it had all that was needed for an island getaway. On top of that it had some of the best wall diving anywhere. Things change in 15 years. The beach is still beautiful, the water has not changed from its caribbean hues of teal green and blue, and the locals are as friendly as ever BUT development has hit the island. Now there are resorts and private condos along much of the beach and roads weave through many of the corners of the island. Still it maintains it’s quiet, peaceful existence. It’s no Cancun…luckily!
15 years of time and lots of new development for me means one thing, time to explore and get re-acquainted. When I go to a new place I like to drop my stuff in the room and head out the front door and arbitrarily choose right or left then go explore not really having a plan or a map. This time I thought I would do it running style. In fact I had an even better idea. I am training for a spring half marathon and so often when people go on vacation their training, whether for an event like a half marathon, or for their ongoing thriving health, takes a back burner to the relaxed lifestyle the tropics invites. I was going keep running and even push my pace a bit to stay on track with my training.
I love to run in the tropics. I love to run on the beach too. Here on Provo the beach is really quite good for running. I arise not long after the sun and head to the beach. It’s pretty secluded at this time of day. I love it! Right or left? Day 1, right (east). At this time of day the tide is coming in so the water is high. For most of this stretch of beach I run on the hard pack of the sand near the water. It is on a bit of a slope as most beaches are but it isn’t too steep. After a few hundred metres I look back and see the distinct zig zag pattern of my tracks as I headed away from the waves each time they came ashore. That alone had to add 10% more distance to my run. As the beach became shorter and shorter with the tide rolling in I hopped up on a flat ledge where the sand was dry and hard packed. It was like running on a nature trail back home and perfect for stability and cushioning. On I went.
Eventually the beach was getting less and less developed and less and less hospitable for runners. Choice number two. Turn back and do and out and back or head inland and find a road back. This run was about exploration so inland I went. I headed on what looked to be a path but I was not sure where. I was going to trust my inner compass and figure out my way back. Ah, a road. Following it I went past two homes, either abandoned or still under construction. It was hard to tell. Keeping going I got to a round about (traffic circle for you Edmontonians) and the reassurance I was on a main road. The question was which one. Based on earlier exploration it was either the one going right back the condo or one a bit more inland. I DID know I had to go right (west) to get home.
Now for the pace work. Each time there was a road to the right, back towards the beach, I needed to determine if it was the road back to the condo or a dead end to some other property. Signage was not great. I figured this was a perfect time for an interval pick up for a couple of hundred metres. Down road one. Nope, someone’s home. Casually back to the main road and onward west. Road two. Nope, the Club Med marketplace. Back to the main road. This went on a few more times until I got to a casino and a cafe/bakery across the road called Fresh. I had heard of these. I gotta be close. Off I went at a good clip down the side road. As the sites became familiar I knew this one was it. I slowed into my cool down pace for a few more minutes then walked back to the condo. Great run, good variety of pace, and fun exploration and re-acquaintance of an island I once knew.
Tomorrow it’s off to the beach again just after sunrise and left it will be. Another adventure, another re-acquaintance with my old friend Provo.
Yours in health,
Brent’s Tips for Running in the Tropics
Tip # 1 – Go early as it gets hot QUICKLY.
Tip #2 – Begin with an easier pace than back home as heat and humidity both sap your energy.
Tip #3 – Go both directions on the beach to balance the stress on your body caused by the slope of the beach (could be on alternating days)
Tip #4. Wear running shoes unless your feet are used to running barefoot. Gradually progress to barefoot running if you choose.
Tip #5. Take water, lots of water!!!