Love letter to: the island

Puerto Rico,

You have so many different kinds of beauty. I do what I love in a very special place. One of your most amazing running routes goes along the coast, starting in a part of San Juan called Isla Verde and stretching all the way to El Morro, a historic fort. I run with the hotels on one side and the beach on the other so I can connect with your waters.

Once or twice a month, I go to your mountains, a spot called Cayey. They’re green, full of trees. One trail reaches higher, where I can see the water beyond your southern edge, while another winds lower and deeper through the forest. I get lost in you and find new things, spots I didn’t even know existed. I explore, and that enhances my running experience.

Your forests give me a break from the city; in your urban heat, it can feel like I’m burning from the inside. I have to work much harder to stay hydrated. At this height, you’re cooler, sometimes by 20 degrees. I feel fresh, energized. It’s quiet, away from all the cars and people. I can focus and think.

After the hurricane, all the routes I ran were destroyed. There were power lines in the streets of San Juan, it was very hot because all the trees were gone, and it was hard to get things like food or water. Everything felt more extreme and challenging and I had to figure out a new routine.

I stayed so I could finish training for the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon—but also because I wanted to show the world you would rise again. Plus, the climate is changing. We have to respect that. We need to know how to handle all the problems that come with a natural disaster. Through our story, maybe people will learn.

When I could finally go into the mountains again, it was sad at first. You looked completely different. Now, so much of your life has grown back and been restored. You, Mother Nature, have done it all on your own. You set an example of resilience.

You’re beautiful, but you make training very difficult. Thanks to you, I always feel more prepared to race. Thanks to you, I say to myself, “You’re strong, no matter the conditions.”

Love, Beverly

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