Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pride of Ownership

My husband and I have now been living in our house for 6 months.  Of course, we have an overwhelming list of things we want and need to do.  I’ll admit that of all the things on our list, I have been most anxious to start renovating the inside.  Thanks to Pinterest and Houzz, I have a variety of grandiose ideas for ‘beach cottage style’ cabinetry, tile work, paint colors, lighting fixtures, etc.  Naturally, I immediately started calling contractors to get estimates on the price to take on these projects.  My goal was to get estimates from contractors by September and begin work in October.  Ha!  That’s not happening.

By the end of July I had reached out to 5 contractors.  Spoiler alert!  None of them have worked out.  The first contractor came right over, looked at the place and shot out a very quick, arbitrary and unreliable number for pricing.  Disqualified.  The second contractor was too busy to take on another job.  The third contractor came over, spent a good deal of time looking at the place, emailed me back and forth a couple of times, then went radio silent.  The fourth contractor came over, appeared to really want to work with us, took the blue prints of our house for measurements and never came back (with, or without our blueprints).  We are still trying to track him down.  The fifth contractor was also too busy, but said he wanted to help by referring some really good workers to us.  I’ve still not received any of his ‘referrals’.  Needless to say, we have reached a standstill and have put this project on hold.

Meanwhile, we have been working with a couple of solar companies to get pricing to install solar power.  If you’re local, or if you’re a regular follower of this blog, you probably know by now how expensive power is here, so we thought that if we could supplement the cost with solar, we would be doing ourselves a favor.  Talk about a roller-coaster of very unclear and mixed information with regards to setting this system up!  Without getting into too many details, the local power company, which is government run for the most part, has been less and less willing to work with new solar customers.  Luckily we received our permit to install panels prior to their cut-off date.  So, we are moving forward with this.  In fact, we have some guys doing work on the roof right now, and soon the solar panels will go on.  Progress.  Yay!
These guys have been working tirelessly to get our roof ready for solar!

Next up is the yard.  Our lot is probably ¾ of an acre and the prior owner was using the house as a rental property, so he did the minimum with regards to landscaping.  The entire lawn was pretty over grown and needed some serious manicuring.  My husband, along with 2 different teams of landscapers, and our brand new chainsaw, have worked countless, backbreaking hours in the Caribbean sun to clear off our lot and plant new trees, flowers and bushes.  We have gotten to know the entire staff at our local nursery, as we go there weekly.  However, things thrive down here, and as soon as everything is in order…it rains.  A few days later everything needs to be trimmed back, and, again, there’s Kevin out there sun burnt and sweating as he trims everything down.  So, the lawn is a work in progress, but it’s coming along nicely. 
Kevin planted this glorious hibiscus for me.  Now, isn't that nice?

Of course, we’ve run into a variety of other chores and issues that typically take a bit more time to fix than if we lived in the states.  I’ve had to call the gate guy, the pool guy, the generator guy and the refrigerator guy (several times).   Islanders, please enlighten me, why is it that you can’t simply make an appointment with repairmen and have them show up at the scheduled time?  Why do I always feel like I’m inconveniencing them, or that they are doing me a favor by doing work for me?  They do know that I will pay them, right?!  Every time I call a repairman I get the same reply….call me tomorrow, or okay I’ll call you tomorrow (doesn’t happen), or I’ll be in that area the day after tomorrow, so call me then.  Even if you do make an appointment, they don’t always show up. 

Last week, I called a pool guy to come out to take a look at a chip in the diamond bright of our pool.  When he answered (bonus!) he told me that he’d be in my area the next day, and asked me to text message him my name, number and location.  I told him I would be around in the afternoon, and I  promptly texted him all of my information.  I never heard from him.  So, I called him again first thing in the morning, 2 days later.  He apologized and said he would re-work his schedule for me that day to come out and take a look.  I didn’t hear from him until after 2:30, at which point I wasn’t home.  This is a normal course of events, so it winds up taking longer than necessary for anyone to simply come out and look at the issue, let alone fix it.  I’m starting to realize why most of my friends that have lived here for any significant amount of time have become quite handy on their own.

Maybe it’s good that we didn’t start renovating this house right away because there are so many other things that we need to do to get the house in order that I can see the budget for cabinetry and tile getting lower and lower.  The other day, I was showing our friend, who is currently staying with us, around our downstairs apartment.  I kept catching myself saying, in as much a surprised tone as it was prideful, ‘…and, everything works!’  I proceeded by turning on all the lights, the fan and the air conditioning units.

I once read that when you’re feeling challenged, or frustrated you should ask yourself what this situation is teaching you.  What are you learning from this experience?  It's abundantly clear to me that I’m learning patience, but I wouldn’t simply apply this lesson to my house.  I’d apply it to the entire experience living on an island!

Now, I must go call the exterminator.  The landscapers just knocked down a termite nest!

The enemy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Even Paradise Has Mosquitoes

I often get asked by my stateside friends how long I plan on living down in the Caribbean.  More specifically, they want to know if I’m planning on living here forever.  I find it rather baffling that this is where their mind goes, as the world is getting more and more transient, so I don’t typically expect anyone to commit to one home for the rest of their life.  Regardless, I usually respond by explaining that forever is a long time, but since we just bought a house here, I can say with certainty that we won’t be moving back to the states in the foreseeable future.  Although, if I have to be perfectly honest, I don’t see myself living in St. Thomas forever, and there is one main reason for this.  September.

I know that I have complained before about the heat and the bugs and the mugginess that this time of year brings.  Frankly, I don't feel like I have a right to complain, because I don’t have much to complain about.  My life is good.  Really good.  However, the month of September is terrible on this island, and it brings with it a general sense of overall discomfort every year.  Allow me a chance to indulge in some catharsis because this month, of all the months, is when I miss Chicago the most.

First, let’s start with the heat.  This morning, I was out the door for a run at 6:30 am.  Before leaving, my husband asked me if I was going to “push it” and do 2 laps, rather than 1 on our usual course.  I responded by saying that I was “pushing it” by simply getting up and doing the run.  I have nothing to prove.  “Pushing it” for me these days is a 10 minute mile, maybe even 10 ½ minutes.  Seriously, I can go back to the states and run mile after blissful mile at a pace that is at least 1 ½ minute faster.  A cool breeze, a flat surface and one of those fancy sidewalks, and I could actually be 2 minutes per mile faster!

To put this in perspective, during the USA vs. Portugal game at the World Cup this year, they had the players take an unprecedented water break during the game because the weather was so warm.  These were professional, well-conditioned, world renowned athletes.  FIFA had NEVER allowed a mid-game timeout for water before, but they granted an exception because the game was being played in the Amazon.  In fact, a Brazilian court ordered that timeouts should be granted when it's 89.6 degrees or warmer.  I made a mental note of this.  Flash forward to today.  The heat index today in St. Thomas is 97 degrees.  So, I’m not even being sarcastic when I tell my friends that I’m running in Amazon like conditions. 

I’d like to summarize this point by relaying the notes I made from my run this morning, via the Run Keeper app, which I highly recommend.  They were, ‘Brutal. Humidity is extreme.  Muggy nasty day.’

Let’s move onto the bugs.  I’m scratching my ankles as I write this because I’m covered in bug bites.  I’m also covered in scars from 3 years of getting these vicious bites.  I truly cannot think of anything that I loath more than biting bugs. 

Given the humidity, the rain, the still air and the heat, the bugs are out in droves right now.  It’s not just mosquitoes, but it’s also those stealthy no-see-ums, or sand fleas.  What kills me about the bug situation is that I’m getting bit inside my own home.  Last night, while trying to watch TV, Kevin got bit so badly by the bugs that this morning his back was completely covered with bites.  He has literally painted his body pink with calamine lotion.

Unfortunately, there is no escaping them.  This is because here in beautiful, sunny St. Thomas we don’t use central air.  It’s too expensive.  Instead, we leave our homes open to the elements year-round.  I refer to it as ‘camping inside’.  In fact, Kevin went to Home Depot over the weekend, looking for a thermostat for our non-central air, bedroom only unit (long story), and they don’t even carry them.  We have to order one on-line. 

How I haven’t gotten dengue fever is utterly perplexing.  With all the bites I’ve gotten, I expect to contract it any day now.  Last week, I read in the Wall Street Journal that Japan had diagnosed 2 cases of dengue - 2.  They immediately responded by sending out a crew of people to spray the streets for mosquitoes.  I find this to be a perfectly appropriate reaction.  Like the Japanese, we too should be in full panic mode. 

To top it off, this is hurricane season, and tourism is at a lull.  Many of the business owners close up shop and head up to the states.  Kevin and I literally had to try 3 restaurants in St. John this weekend before we found one that was open.  These shop owners are escaping the heat and the low season by visiting lovely, quaint places that serve fudge and have American Flags hanging from them.  Places that have perfectly manicured lawns that smell like freshly cut grass.  Places where the AC endlessly flows to the point where you can blow dry your hair and put on fresh makeup without breaking a sweat.  Places where you don’t have to cake yourself with a chemical, whether it be sunscreen or bug spray, in order to head outside.  A place where one shower per day will suffice, and where you can wear blue jeans every day.

But, I digress.  My point is, I can typically take the hassle of living on this island.  I have accepted that the power goes out sporadically, that it’s insanely expensive to live here, that the crime rate is high and that the local people don’t always make me feel welcome. 

But, the fact that there is a bug biting the back of my neck right now, while I sweat through my clothes to write this blog?  No.  That’s just not okay!     

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

We Bought a House!

Yes, it’s true.  In April, my husband and I signed the paperwork that officially made us homeowners in beautiful St. Thomas.  There’s no turning back now!  I’ve formally bound myself to dealing with the everyday craziness that St. Thomas offers.  Some of which includes…

1)      People’s failure to understand how a line works (Hint: the person in front of you goes before you).

2)      A general break-down in, or lack of communication.

3)      The prolonged length of time everything takes (How many hours do I need to get to the airport ahead of time during spring break season???).

4)      Safari buses randomly stopping in the middle of the road (Yes, yes it’s a pretty view, now let’s go!).  Side note:  a 'safari bus' is actually a pick-up truck with benches drilled into the back of the truck.  Proceed with caution!
This one's pretty fancy!

5)      General un-responsiveness (What? I haven’t heard back on a business deal because my contact is sailing in a local regatta?  My other contact is on vacation on another continent for 3 weeks?  My back-up to the back-up contact is in the states for the rest of the week?)

6)      The Internal Revenue Bureau - no further comment necessary.

The list goes on and on, and I am the first to admit that this decision did not come easily and was not taken lightly.  There was a lot of thought, sleepless nights and time put into deciding to establish a permanent residence on the island.  In fact, we almost bailed on the deal several times before finally committing ourselves – to the house, that is. 

However, we truly enjoy our life down in the islands.  With all the sunshine and warm weather that it offers, it’s a very happy place to live.  In addition, I am starting to gain some ground with my job, and we have made great friends and memories.  Of course, after moving 7 times in the last 9 years (the move to St. Thomas being a real doozy,) getting married and changing jobs 3 times in the last 5 years, I felt the need to settle down.  I’m all set with change at this point.

Naturally, buying the house created a whirlwind of activity for us this past spring.  First, we closed on our house, which could have been a complete Caribbean shit-show had we not hired an attorney that proved to be a strong advocate for us (thanks, Leigh Goldman!).  I’m not kidding, I’ve heard of closings that last months (by months, I mean it could potentially be over a year) because an easement wasn’t filed (which could also mean the paperwork was lost) when the house sold to the current seller several years prior.  This was constantly on our mind prior to closing, as our lease was about to run out.

We then proceeded to move, which shouldn’t have been a rough task since we were renting a furnished home before moving into our new house.  However, as most of us know, it’s amazing how much stuff you can accumulate over a very short period of time.  So, we borrowed our friend's pickup truck, and we jam it full of odds and ends.  We then proceeded to make countless trips back and forth, hoping that our stuff didn't fly out of the back of the truck. 

To top it off, we shipped a container full of our beloved belongings from storage in Chicago to St. Thomas.  Now, THAT was a fun little project for me.  Try keeping your patience after you’ve told the shipping company the pick-up address of your stuff at least 4 times.  Then, try finding a moving company to load your stuff into the container 5 days prior to the move date during the busiest moving time of the year because the shipping company just told you that they don’t load their own trucks. Instead, apparently, their driver simply sits in the warmth of their cab, smoking cigarettes, while you pay to have someone else move your things into the container.  I could provide multiple other examples of all the chaos this created, but suffice it to say that if you’re seeking employment, you should try logistics.  They will hire anyone!
Our container...actually this is 1/2 a container.

Anyway, I was shocked when the movers and truck arrived on time and everything went smoothly.  However, when the container (finally) arrived at our house in St. Thomas, about 6 weeks later, I hardly recognized a thing.  The movers were constantly asking me ‘Where do you want this?’, and I would reply with ‘What is that?’.  After all, these items had been in storage for 3 years.  How was I supposed to know what we put in all those boxes?

Upon unpacking these boxes I realized how much my life has changed in such a short of a period of time.  I couldn’t believe all of the items that our container had brought.  They proved to be things from another life - Stuart Weitzman high-heels, suede boots from BananaRepublic, Elie Tahari suits, cashmere sweaters from JCrew, countless hats, gloves, scarves and coats.  The list goes on and on.  These days, the closest I get to heels is a pair of wedge sandals and my ‘suit’ consists of white capri pants and a loose-fitting, sleeveless blouse.  Hell, if it’s too hot I can hardly wear a bra!

Anyway, I digress.  Since the house we bought was furnished, and we had just moved a bunch of our own furniture, we had a lot of shuffling around to do.  My husband killed himself moving furniture from here, to there, while I succeeded in selling a record amount of items on Craigslist.  As a side, Craigslist was a huge success for us, and I’d like to think the same for the buyers of our stuff!

Alas, we had gotten everything where we wanted it.  I can’t tell you how nice it is to finally have our furniture from our home in Chicago.  After living in what felt like someone else’s house for 3 years, we finally have a place of our own here in the Caribbean.  There is something very calming and comfortable in knowing that this house is ours to do with as we like. 

Kevin and I realize that with the harsh elements that this island provides, we will probably always be working on the house in some way.  And, we understand that it will cost us a small fortune to renovate this home, which now looks like a flash back to 1984 on the inside.  This is illustrated by the tile in our bedroom...all 4 corners of the individual tiles collectively make a daisy!  In addition, the walls in our kitchen and living room are neon green, orange and yellow because the prior owner wanted the house to look ‘tropical’.  But, I really don’t care because I look forward to the many memories that living here will bring.
I have a lot of dreams for this house.
The O'Neil's - Moving Day!
The House

Monday, June 23, 2014

No. I am NOT on vacation.

I should probably start this blog by apologizing for completely neglecting my blog for the last several months.  Between buying a new house, traveling back and forth to the states (it’s wedding season!) and moving, I’ve been busier these last 3 months than a one armed bricklayer in Baghdad.

Of course, with all that’s been going on, there are numerous topics that I could blog about right now. 

However, what I really want to blog about has to do with the conversations I’ve had with people during all of my visits back to the states.  These exchanges are usually the same.  When people find out that I live in the Caribbean, they love asking me a plethora of dreamy questions.  Honestly, this doesn’t bother me.  I’m happy to talk about what it’s like to live down here, and I’d probably do the same thing if I was living in the states and came across an islander. 

But, it does get to be a bit extreme sometimes.  In fact, my friend Julie (You can read her blog here for proof that I’m not the only one doing unconventional things with my life.), who was at most of the same destinations as me these last few months, and therefore has experienced this conversation with me first-hand, jokingly recommended that I print a flyer or brochure of sorts, including answers to the most common ‘island’ questions.  I won’t go that far, but I will address the most common question that I get from people, which is…

“Does living in the islands make you feel like you’re on vacation all the time?” 


I understand that I live at a tourist destination, but I think people romanticize living in the islands a bit.  I hate to disappoint you, but life down here can be very similar on a day-to-day basis as it is up in the states.  Yes, I have a gorgeous view right outside my window, and it is warm here 365 days a year.  In fact, right now there is a tropical breeze blowing right through my office.  But, people here work full-time jobs, have bills to pay, raise families, go to the grocery store, visit the movie theater, get take-out pizza, etc. 

If you think about it, this question is kind of reminiscent of those silly pages in US Weekly that show pictures of famous people doing ordinary things.  I mean, really...THIS is what we pay to read?  Oh…there’s Jennifer Aniston getting a traffic ticket! Or, here’s Lindsay Lohan feeding a parking meter. Or, isn’t that Gwenth Paltrow reading the back of a food label? Or, Heidi Klum picking up her kids from school!

Why is this interesting to people?  Folks, reality is reality.  You cannot run and hide from it whether you’re rich and famous, or living in the Caribbean.  I’m sorry to be the one to shatter these fantasies.

To better illustrate what my life is like, I will walk you through what I did last weekend…

Friday after work I had some girlfriends over to my house for pizza and wine.  We gossiped and got a good buzz on while my dogs freaked out that we had visitors over.  We then proceeded to go over to another friend’s house to hang out with a few more ladies.  This is where we continued to eat a significant amount of junk, talked a lot and drank more wine.  I was home by 11:30 pm. 

Saturday I was up at about 7:30.  I had a cup of coffee, then did an hour of yoga while Kevin went to Home Depot – yes, there’s a Home Depot here (but, no Bed Bath and Beyond).  After that Kevin and I worked in the yard until the late afternoon.  What can I say, we have some serious yard work to do!  We then took a nap, had dinner and closed out the evening by watching several episodes of Newsroom.  Side note, Newsroom is one of those shows that you want to like, but it’s really not that good.  I think I fell asleep at about 9:00 pm (could have been earlier, but I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that). 

Sunday, I woke up at 5:45, had a cup of coffee then was out the door by 6:30 for a run.  We had a lazy morning because Kevin has been battling a virus, but since it was our anniversary, he rallied and we ventured out by noon for brunch, where I had some delicious French toast and 2 mimosas.  We then went to the beach for a few hours.  I read and snorkeled around a bit.  After the beach, we stopped for ice cream on our way to the grocery store where we got some chicken to throw on the grill.  We ate dinner in front of the TV, while watching the USA vs. Portugal World Cup game, which proved to be gut-wrenching for us and traumatic for our dogs, who couldn’t figure out why I kept screaming.  We wrapped up the weekend with a thrilling episode of 60 Minutes.  I was asleep by 9:00 pm. 

How boring are we?

Of course, we do have weekends that are a lot more fun, and less like the ones we had when we were back in the states.  Mainly, when we go boating around the islands with friends, that is when I feel like I’m in paradise the most.  Those types of weekends are even more treasured when it’s January and sub-arctic in Chicago.  However, to my chagrin, I have to admit that more times than not, our lives are very similar to the lives we led when we lived in the Midwest.  It’s just that when we get the chance to enjoy ourselves, we can do so to a greater degree (to us) than we did when we had free time in Chicago.

Does that help? 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

8 Tuff Miles

As small as they are, our little islands don’t have many road races for those of us that are island runners.  However, once a year in St. John there is a race called 8 Tuff Miles that is well known for being one of the toughest runs you can do down here.  The first 5 miles of the run include an incline that is the equivalent of climbing to the top of the Empire State Building.  Then, the last 3 miles are all downhill.  Basically, you’re running from one bay, up across the island, down to another bay.  It’s a popular run and a huge community affair.  Since I knew I’d be ‘on-island’ for it this year, I committed to training for it. 

I have to say that training for this run was no easy task.  I’ve been running for 20 years, so I’d like to consider myself an experienced runner.  “It’s only 8 miles” I told myself.  "How bad could it be?" However, running long distances in the islands can pose for quite the challenge. 

First you have the issue of where to run.  St. Thomas isn’t exactly ‘runner friendly’.  There are no evenly paved sidewalks (or, roads for that matter), or nicely wooded suburban trails.  In fact, there aren’t even shoulders on the road that you can run on.  So, you have to run on the actual road.  This would be safer if the road was nice and straight, but the roads down here are about as straight as Ricky Martin, so safety is out the window. 

Then, there’s the issue of which side of the road you should run on.  Of course, the rule is to run against traffic, which down here would be on the right side since we drive on the left.  However, when you’re running in the road, up a hill, approaching a 90 degree turn you don’t want to be on the inside of the hill/turn – that’s called having a death wish because the one thing that the islanders do fast (the only thing as far as I can tell) is driving.  So, this is the exception to the rule.  Except, some of the roads are so curvy that you can’t avoid this issue.  This is when you have to get creative.  Upon approaching a sharp, blind turn, on a very curvy road I tend to run out in the road more and sometimes even flail my arms out in a semi-panicky state with the hopes that the oncoming driver will see me.  So far, this has worked. 

Then you have the issue of stray dogs.  I’m a huge dog lover, and I’ve never been afraid of dogs, but the locals here don’t necessarily have the same affection for dogs that I do.  Unfortunately, this means that dogs here live a bit more on the wild side.  So, recently I’ve developed this fear of being attacked by a dog while out on a run.  I should probably carry mace or something, because at different moments throughout my runs I often find myself coming up with a ‘back-up’ plan for what I would do if an island dog attacked me.  Seriously, I look around for parked cars I could hop up on, or utility poles I may be able to climb.  In addition, I periodically look behind me to be sure I’m not being chased.  It’s not good, but it does distract me from the pain I’m typically feeling at the time.

Let’s talk more about the pain because running to me is on par with pain.  After all the years I’ve been running, I’d like to think that if I ever got kidnapped and tortured, I’d be able to dig into my ‘bag of running tricks' to deal with the pain because I have a whole slew of them.  I’ve ran through broken toes, shin splints, countless (and I mean countless) side stitches.  I’ve ran with colds, with the flu, while hyperventilating (usually from crying), and - the best one to date - with a fractured femur (yes, Kevin, I’m still milking that one).  As a side, I didn’t know I had a fractured femur at the time.  However, I’ve never in my life experienced the types of challenges I now face, running in the tropics.  It’s intense.  The heat is intense.  The hills are intense.  The humidity is intense.  The good news is that I’m typically so concerned about getting hit by a car, or bit by a dog that I don’t really notice the heat or hills much anymore.  In fact, running in fear is a phenomenon that I think should be studied at length.  It’s worked well for me.

Anyway, for the last couple of months I’ve been sticking to my training plan, and all things considered the training went pretty well.  I felt myself getting stronger and stronger, and even did a few runs over in St. John to prepare.  Considering that the Midwest, where I come from, is flat as a board, I can honestly say that after training for this run I’m in the best shape of my life.  I was psyched.

Until, I got the flu. 

I didn’t have the type of flu that could potentially be confused with a bad cold.  No, this flu came out and told me loud and clear "I'M THE FLU".  This was the type of flu where you turn on the TV and stare blankly at it without any sound coming out for hours.  The type that you wear an eye shade over your eyes while lying in bed during the day because you just want it to be dark.  The kind where going to the doctor proves to take all of your allotted energy for the day.  I can honestly say that I have never felt body aches like that.  At one point it was so bad that I thought I had dengue fever, which is like malaria in the Caribbean.  I was a pathetic mess. 

I will say that being sick this time of year in the Caribbean isn’t like being sick in the winter in Chicago.  When you’re sick during the dead of winter in Chicago, it kind of makes sense.  It’s cold, damp, grey and miserable, so when you get sick there, it goes along with the general theme of gloom you’re already experiencing.  However, when you’re sick in the Caribbean the warm tropical sun still comes out as if to say, ‘What’s your problem?’  So, it’s harder to feel sorry for yourself when you’re sick in the Caribbean, which is probably a good thing.   

Anyway, I went to the doctor and got on some meds.  She cleared me to run on Saturday if I felt up for it, which I translated to mean that I had no excuse not to run this race.  So, I got up early on Saturday morning, hopped on the ferry from St. Thomas to St. John and took off on my ascent up to the top of the island with about 1,100 other people.  As I climbed up the hills of St. John, the cold medicine I was taking kicked in heavily and my mind removed itself from my body.  I now understand this to be called disassociation.  It was weird, but there seemed to be a disconnect between what I was doing physically and where I was mentally.  This is how I coped with getting up the first big hill, which was about 1.5 miles long.  It wasn’t until the torrential downpours came at Miles 2 and 3 that my mind and body came back together, and I started focusing on the fact that I was destined to get mononucleosis. 

I have to confess that I did have to walk a few times uphill, which is every runners most demoralizing moment, but I always picked it back up as soon as I could.  I pushed as much as I could.  Finally, I reached the damn summit and started on my decline, I was on my way to the end.  Thank God.  Then, I got a raging side-stitch on my way down, and I’m now certain that I know what it’s like to get stabbed.  Yes, I was reaching hard to keep with this run, but I finally made it towards the last mile of the race and felt that I may be able to pick it up some to finish strong.  However, all the rain had made things really muddy.  So, as a final slap in the face, the last 100 meters of the run to the finish line was a complete mudslide.  I was lucky that I didn’t fall on my face at the end, but alas I had completed my run and all the pain I had just experience subsided. 

I’m not sure why I put myself through all of this, but I guess it’s kind of like childbirth.  I’ve never had a child, so maybe this isn’t a fair comparison.  However, it seems the same in that you go through so much for this special accomplishment, then you achieve it, and all that pain and time and effort are totally forgotten.  Then you think to yourself, ‘I can do that again’ or ‘I want to try that again’.  It’s demented, but these are the things we do for glory.

So after taking some time to reflect, here is what I learned from 8 Tuff Miles this year…when running try to distract yourself with as much as possible including, wild dogs, fear of head-on collision with car, cold medicine, extreme weather, the flu, a stabbing feeling in your side and trying not to slip in the mud.  If you can do this, then you can make it through this run – no problem.

I’m going do it again next year. 

Me, finishing 8 Tuff Miles.  Please make note of that giant hill behind me.