Wheeler Bay, Maine

Sept 24, 2015
Wheeler Bay, ME

At the end of summer (literally, since it included the equinox) I took another trip that prevented me from running. Instead of lame excuses about long work hours, dangerous conditions, or bad weather, I have a good one. I wasn’t on land.

For a week I shared a 30-foot pulling boat with Hurricane Island Outward Bound on a trip given for free to veterans thanks to the generous donations of private citizens. I spent about six hours on land for the week and there was no room to run around the boat like I did on the Statendam. Even by myself I couldn’t run; there were seven other people to complicate it.

Pulling Boat Convoy

From Ben Hodgman on Flickr. This is the same sort of boat.

I won’t bore you with all the amazing sailing stories, fantastic vistas, and breathtaking sunsets. You don’t need to hear abou the Lobster Tracks ice cream from Giffords that I had in Vinalhaven, or the fresh local lobsters had for pennies. This is about running, not having fun.

The Outward Bound staff give students a “personal challenge” at the end of the course. You may think, like I did, that Outward Bound is for trouble youth. Surely it is, but that’s not all it is. Still, the personal challenge is geared for a different audience. The challenge was to run for 30 minutes.

Challenge accepted. The time is the challenge, not the distance. I can run for 30 minutes. I can run slow and cover two miles, or run fast and get a bit over four, and maybe near five, on a good day. I haven’t been running much this summer so I didn’t know how hard I could push it.

The personal challenge started at first light on the last day. During the week we’d been getting up at first light to jump in the 50 F water. This would be a bit warmer.


We were given a one mile loop. In 30 minutes I could certainly get three done even at a moderate pace. I set my goal to finish three laps with enough time to start the fourth. If I got past the start they’d have to let me finish the last one.

I didn’t know who my competition might be. Maybe there’d be a speed demon among the group. I didn’t want to be in the lead but I also didn’t want to be too far behind.

At the start I took off at a moderate jog and saw that even that was much faster than the field. That pushed me a bit harder because I wanted to be out of sight. I didn’t want anyone close to me and I didn’t want them to see me in the distance. I wanted to get far enough ahead that no one would know where I was. I pushed it for the first lap.


The non-running crowd isn’t used to the pain and suffering of the first few minutes of such a run and they give up quickly. After running for a long time, I know that my body will catch up and I can back off slightly to keep myself under the red line.

I have no idea how fast I ran, but I started to lap people on my second lap. Before three miles I’d passed half the field. I was running well considering I hadn’t really been on land for the last week. No one was catching me.

I finished the first 5k around 25 minutes, which is slow, but enough to start my fourth lap. Challenge accomplished.


But that wasn’t the end of the challenge. After the run we had to jump into the water and swim for a bit. For that I was a bit behind. Many people had stopped when they wouldn’t have had time left in 30 minutes to complete another lap, meaning most people did two laps. I’d done four and gone over 30 minutes.

This wasn’t a race, but my legs were a bit dead. I remembered my runs at the Minneapolis Duathlon where I couldn’t even feel my legs after a transition. I know swimming is supposed to be arms, but I’m an awful swimmer.

All this angst for about 300 meters of swimming in 50 F water. Some of those non-runners where really good swimmers. But, that’s not running, so it’s very boring. I survived.

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