…a three hour tour…
While vacationing on the beach, I love to sneak away for some solitude with a run on the beach. Running along the shore as the waves run back and forth beside me is my ideal moment next to a good meal or watching the sunset. For my first morning in Sanibel, I felt like a short 3 mile run to seize some solitude and serenity.
Since Sanibel has a trail that runs the length of the island parallel to the preserve, I decided to take advantage of the trail for at least part of my run. I left my hotel and ran about half a mile when the trail bent and a scary sign emerged that read, “Alligator Habitat. Proceed with caution”. On an island that doesn’t permit firearms, I didn’t even want to find out how large the alligators could get. So, I proceeded with caution by turning back and running in the direction from which I came.
When I reached my hotel, I had only run a mile therefore I continued along the trail for another half mile until I reached the footpath for the public beach access. When I hit the beach, I already ran about a mile and a half. Now, I just needed to run another 1.5 mile back to my hotel and I felt confident that I would recognize my hotel by the bright yellow cabanas on the beach.
At three miles, I hadn’t spotted the yellow cabanas but it could have been that I was distracted by the turtle nests, piles of pen shells and egg casings on the beach.
So I ran further down the beach. At four miles, I still hadn’t spotted my hotel. “Well, it couldn’t be much farther?” I thought to myself at which I turned off the timer on my Garmin and walked a bit farther. As I walked on, nothing looked familiar. On this stretch of the beach, I noticed large beach houses that I hadn’t seen before. Now, I knew I needed to either turn back or cut through to the main road so I could get my bearings.
Tired and dehydrated, I finished the last of my water bottle as I cut through on a private beach path to a housing development. Overgrown trees and shrubs shaded the limestone roads that winded through the development. The tune of Dueling Banjos played in my head and hysteria began to set in. “If I am killed back here, no one will find my body because my killer will have fed me to the alligators and they’ll never recover my body. God, I just want to get back to my family. I was only going to be gone 30 minutes. They’ll be worried about me.”
As I kicked myself for not carrying a cell phone, I spotted a man on a recumbent bicycle and prayed he wasn’t stalking me like a shark circling its kill. There was no way I could out run a cyclist, even one who looks as though he’s lying down. As paranoid as I was about the cyclist, he somewhat led me into the direction of the main road, which is when I realized where I was and how far I had gone. I found myself on Sanibel-Captiva Road about 3 miles from my hotel. With no cell phone and no money, walking back was my only option. My serene moment had become a surreal moment.
I desperately tried to stay calm. “As soon as I see a public place, I’ll stop and ask to use their phone,” I told myself. About half a mile later, I spotted a walk-in clinic but I decided to keep walking for fear they would stick me with an IV in an attempt to rehydrate me. Another half mile, I spotted the Sanibel Recreation Center and Sanibel School, the destination from which I would call my family.
After several failed attempts to contact Allan at the hotel, the school’s secretary graciously offered to give me a lift back. “You know it’s only a couple mile from here. You could walk it,” she said. I explained to the sweet, kind secretary that if I wasn’t so tired and dehydrated, I would. (After all, I’ve completed three half marathons already this year!) Two miles and two minutes later, I was back in the comfort of my cool A/C hotel room with a fresh bottle of cold water in both hands.
4.92 Miles (clocked by Garmin, but really 8 miles)
54:41 (time clocked by Garmin but really 3 hours)
Ave Pace 11:06
Max Pace 8:03
I rested the next day after my long run. The day after that, I went for a real 3 mile run along this beach. Although I left with no money or cell phone again, I took a photo of my starting point so I wouldn’t lose my place or my mind again.
Octopus marks the spot.
Ave Pace 11:13
Max Pace 8:34
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