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Amberly McAteer, our reluctant runner, jogged along the Gulf of Papagayo in Costa Rica. (Noah Vardon for The Globe and Mail/Noah Vardon for The Globe and Mail)
Amberly McAteer, our reluctant runner, jogged along the Gulf of Papagayo in Costa Rica. (Noah Vardon for The Globe and Mail/Noah Vardon for The Globe and Mail)

Dos cervezas, por favor: Finding motivation to run in paradise Add to ...

This is the point where my running regime usually falls apart. Three times now, I've started the same program, committed to training 10 weeks for a 10K and even pictured myself (smiling, sweat-free and svelte, of course) crossing the finish line.

But when there's any deviation from that plan, when a change from the ordinary happens - like the week-long vacation in Costa Rica I'm currently enjoying - my training goes sailing out the window.

It's a trip I've talked about for ages with my oldest friend - an adventure in Central America, a celebration of 15 years of friendship, and an escape from the Canadian cold.

I was nervous, however (as were my friends, family and colleagues, I might add). Once transported into a world of black sand, turquoise ocean and beating sun, would that pesky little race even enter my mind?

I won't lie: As I write this, there's a pina colada within arm's reach. A waiter in a straw hat and a questionable palm-tree T-shirt ensures my glass is never empty for long.

Lunch is 90 per cent guacamole, and dinner buffets dare me not to make a return trip (I never win).

But for the first time in my life, I packed gym shoes on a vacation. I printed the training program and placed it on my hotel nightstand.

I'll be honest, the first day I was supposed to complete a "35-minute run at a conversational pace" I opted instead to venture to a magical beach town called Coco with new Canadian friends. We danced into the early hours (I tried to convince myself it was a form of cardio).

But I have run three times in six days - once in the morning, along the coast (even at 7 a.m.), and twice at the hotel's gym, where Spanish treadmills take siestas, randomly stopping after 10 minutes.

Cross-training hasn't happened unless you'd count horseback riding through the rain forest, or zip-lining down a volcanic mountain.

Physically, I'm more than a little behind on the program. But mentally, I haven't given up.

I'm accountable now - because I'm writing it all down (the good, the bad and the embarrassing). I can see how far I've come, and how far I need to go (daunting, but not impossible).

I can't ignore the fact that May 1 is just six weeks away. So this time, I won't be derailed by the blips - even the slushy, coconut-flavoured ones with tiny umbrellas.



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