Last year, my friend Jen suggested a bunch of us do the Bermuda Triangle Challenge for our birthdays (a milestone year for a few of us). I'm not sure whether she really expected anyone to take her up on the idea, but eight of us ended up making the trip this past weekend--four members of Springfield Moms RUN This Town; another running/triathlon friend, Marianne; and three spouses, including Robert. Four of us went for the full challenge, which is a one mile run, 10K run, and half marathon on successive days.
Two of us ran the half marathon only: Sophie, who is currently 18 weeks pregnant, and yours truly, whose body continues to reward me for not running two days in a row (exception made for Ragnar Relays). Plus, I wanted some sleeping-in mornings. Marianne was going to do the full challenge but her knee was talking to her after the 10K, so she wisely took it easy and went swimming instead. I told you she was a triathlete!
We all had a blast, and if you have the inclination and means to do an international race, this is one for your bucket list.
I blame the song "Kokomo" for my ignorance of Bermuda's location--it is nowhere near the Caribbean, nor any other island, really. But it's super accessible from the East Coast. Bermuda is an easy country to visit and navigate. The people are warm and helpful and buses and taxis are plentiful. Businesses take US currency, so logistics are a breeze, and even in the off season, there's plenty of stuff to do, or beaches on which to lounge and stroll if you don't want to do much. Robert was super bummed that he was not able to scuba with Jen's husband Fred because of some fleeting chest congestion. But the guys all went snorkeling on Sunday and on Monday and saw tons of colorful fish, old cannons, and a gigantic elusive grouper fish that became the inside joke of the weekend.
Some people have strange reactions to so-called runcations. Why would you want to run on a trip like this? Why exert yourself so much? Sounds stressful. Just lie on the beach!
Well... People should do what makes them happy. But I think runcations can be more relaxing than trips in which you cram a bunch of sightseeing into a few days. Our group was up early each morning to run, which meant afternoons were for relaxing, and evenings were festive but finished up relatively early.
On a runcation, you may end up at the grocery store for a favorite pre-race snack or sunscreen, which gives you a glimpse of a place's local culture. And hey. Running burns calories, so you can indulge in food and beverages without coming home with 10 extra pounds. (More like 5.)
Most importantly, there's nothing quite like seeing a place through the power of your own two feet. No, you can't tick off as many sites as you do from a bus or on a hectic tour, but you see them in a deeper way. You see and smell flowers:
You get a good look at real local living, like homes...
Businesses... (I've always loved this verse)
Even cemeteries. Running by cemeteries always reminds me to embrace the experience of running as the gift it is. I get to do this:
And you get a flavor for the local population, at water stops and along the course. The crowd support was fantastic all weekend. People sat in lawn chairs in their front yards, clapped, and offered high fives and many a "Well done!," my new favorite term of encouragement. I love when races put the runners' names on the bibs, and here, people actually used them. There's something powerful about total strangers cheering for you by name.
As for the half marathon--it was an excellent race. Spectacular course, excellent support, great logistics (mostly).
We stayed at the official run hotel, which meant we ran into legend Bart Yasso the morning of the race. He complimented us on our skirts. But really, how could he not:
The start/finish line was modest but with all the amenities, including actual flush toilets (and soft drinks at the end, along with the traditional Gatorade and water--our group was elated). I had plenty of time to pee twice before the race, which is about right for me.
It was a beautiful morning:
Had time for a photo with the town crier, who also led us in a moment of silence for a fallen runner whose name I didn't catch.
Then we were off!
This is my fifth half marathon, and I wasn't running for time. I'm trying for a personal best (PR) at the Rock n Roll DC in March, but for this one we all wanted to be leisurely, take in the scenery and get lots of pictures:
Temps were in the 60s, but the ocean breeze kept things pretty comfortable. There was also a good bit of shade.
Here was the moment I knew I'd never forget. Crashing surf and party music:
The marathon is a double loop of the half marathon course, and we laughingly wondered when the leader would lap us. It was at mile 10. Mile 10!
I'm notorious for fading out in the latter miles of long races, which is something I've been working on. So around mile 11 I decided to take off and see if I could pick up the pace. I was assisted by a nice downhill in that! When I had about .2 left I stopped and waited for the group so we could cross the finish line together. They were only a couple minutes behind me.
At that point our stomachs were all growling. An 8 a.m. start is very civilized--and the 10K the day before started at 9!--but brunch was definitely calling. We passed a froyo place with just a tenth of a mile to go, and I'm now kicking myself that we didn't go in to get some, because that would have been an awesome finish line photo. But it was still pretty wonderful. (And there's video!)
I mentioned that the logistics were mostly great. The big buzzkill was that they ran out of half marathon medals. That was a bummer. We were all looking forward to medal photos on the beach. And Jen, Stephanie and Todd (Sophie's husband) had completed three races and were supposed to receive four medals, and we'd been laughing about wanting to get a picture of all of them on the "medal rack" in the hotel room (OK it was a tie rack, but still). I never did hear what happened, but they'll be mailing them to us. Ah well.
Finally, I need to say a big thank you to my mother, who kept the three amigos safe and entertained so Robert and I could get away. We couldn't have done it without you.
All in all, an unforgettable weekend!