Off the grid: Running on Manitoulin Island

Running on Manitoulin Island near Fred's CampLast week, my family made their annual pilgrimage to Manitoulin Island, the largest fresh water island in the world. For the past 14 years, we have spent a week in the summer in a rustic cabin at a place on Lake Kagawong called Fred’s Camp. Usually the week is filled with a lot of swimming, lounging, boating and eating. This year was pretty much the same, except the weather really let us down. Instead of the lovely 25 degree sunshine we’re used to, we had some pretty cool, fall-like days.

So what’s a girl to do when you can’t lounge lake-side sipping a frosty cocktail? Run, of course! And with a half marathon on the calendar, this was the perfect opportunity to get in some mileage.

Last year, I got very used to long runs on city streets in the sweltering heat, so the cool air and the quiet country roads of Manitoulin Island were a welcome change. Over the course of the week, we ran three times, racking up a total mileage of 18K. Nothing too crazy. We were on vacation after all.

Running on the island is exactly what you might think. Lots of lovely country roads along the waterfront, varied terrain, very little traffic, and even fewer runners. I never encountered another one in all my 18 kilometres. This was a pretty drastic contrast from my recent run in NYC! And despite the fact that Manitoulin Island is really off the beaten path, I was still able to get a GPS signal with my Nike+ watch so I could track my (pathetic) pace and distance.

I’d like to say the runs were glorious and fast and that I felt great. The truth is, I felt sluggish and slow. It was actually pretty frustrating considering this time last year, I was averaging a half marathon or more weekly in terms of my long runs. I just couldn’t get into that zone. You know the one. That state where you find a great average pace and feel like you could run forever. Every step was tough. I felt like my breathing was laboured and I was running out of steam so quickly. If you can’t have a great run in a place like Manitoulin Island, running a road in Toronto is going to be a tough go.

I blame it on all the fresh air. I’m not used to spending the majority of my day in natural lighting! It can be very exhausting apparently.  I’m sure my daily spicy Caesar and the 4L box of Pinot Grigio I drank over the course of the week didn’t help.

I’m now back in Toronto and ready to tackle my half marathon training with enthusiasm. I’m hitting the road tomorrow and I’m hopeful that I’ll have a more inspiring run. I’ll miss the quiet streets of Manitoulin, but hopefully, I’ll find my groove again. Otherwise, the next couple of weeks are going to be rough.

Running on Manitoulin Island near Fred's Camp

Some pictures taken while out on our various runs.

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