This afternoon I arrived in Grenada for the start of my short, but intense, run through the Caribbean. Since I planned my Run-the Caribbean 2.0 itinerary, the goals for this journey haven't changed. Over the next week, I will be traveling to six island nations that I have not visited in the past. During five of the days, I have runs planned to cross islands from shore to shore.
From my prior travels through smaller countries and my earlier contacts in the Caribbean, I was aware that it would be a long shot to identify Parkinson's support groups on any of the islands. This has proven to be the case. Whether hidden from me or, more likely, not yet established - it's clear I won't have any such groups to partner with over the next week. On the other hand, I have been fortunate to become acquainted with a few journalists and have tentative plans for some broadcast interviews. Over the past year, I have had a number of chance connections facilitated by media spots that have led to fruitful relationships to help further Parkinson's awareness - so I'm hopeful this will also be the case in the islands that I visit.
Running solo - is not necessarily a negative to me. It adds one more element to the challenge. A challenge that is totally under my control. The goals are clearly established. Start and finish points are set for each island. Dates and times of day for each run are determined. Now it is just a matter of completing each run. The distances will be challenging, ranging from 6 to 14 miles. The topography will require a few "mountain climbs". The weather will, of course, be hot and humid. But the most concerning for me is my compact timeline. At nearly 50 years-old, running an average of 10 miles/day for 5 straight dates will certainly result in some knee pain, tendon and muscle soreness and generalized fatigue. In addition, my attempts to do some sight-seeing will limit the time for rest and recovery. However, it is each of these factors that adds to the challenge and makes me more excited about the endeavor. Hopefully I will be able to finish the running challenge successfully and then look back on how each of these factors made completing the journey even more satisfying.
Amidst the attempts to contact those with Parkinson's and media outlets, planning the travel logistics, and setting up and preparing for the running challenge - I have relegated the tourist activities to the backseat. Although my time is limited to an overnight on each island this week, I'm trying to insure that I satisfy my travel bug too- by creating a list with a single "must see site" for each island:
- Grenada: Underwater Sculpture Park
- St. Vincent: Fort Charlotte
- St. Lucia: Soufriere
- St. Kitts: Brimstone Hill Fortress
- Dominica: Emerald Pool
- Antigua: Nelson's Dockyard
As night sets in St. Georges, Grenada - with my physical challenge defined, my limited local contacts arranged and my tourist activities outlined - I'm ready to begin a journey that will hopefully allow me to: prove to myself and others with Parkinson's what one person with Parkinson's can do, allow me to see a little bit more of the world, and in some small way bring more awareness of the needs of those with Parkinson's.