Sunday, March 10, 2019

Bermuda Triangle Challenge 2019

In January Tanya and I traveled to Bermuda to participate in the Bermuda Marathon Weekend. The weekend consists of four races. The first of the three is on Friday night "The Front Street Mile", the second is Saturday morning which is the "Bermuda 10K run and Walk", and the third and fourth race is held Sunday morning which are the "Bermuda Half and Full Marathon". If you are up for a challenge the organizers also offer the "Bermuda Triangle Challenge" which includes the Front Street Mile, the Bermuda 10K ,and either the Bermuda Half marathon or the Full Marathon. Three days of running bliss. Of course Tanya and I signed up for the challenge. We did opt for the Half Marathon challenge, maybe a few years ago we would have run the Marathon but not this time! We arrived on the Island Wednesday afternoon the 16th, this gave us sometime to settle;see and spend a little time with family.
Race headquarters was at the Hamilton Princess which is located in town. Check in was held Friday I believe it was noon to 6 pm. The Front Street Mile start was walking distance from the hotel and was set to begin at 7 pm. Tanya and I arrived at the hotel around 4:00 to pickup our bibs and our t-shirt, we planned to hang out there and walk to the start. The atmosphere was buzzing with energy. Everyone was smiling and happy I could just tell is was going to be a fun weekend. The pick up was well organised and went smoothly,they had plenty of signs and helpful people. To our surprise we received four t-shirts each; one for each race plus a Triangle challenge shirt, all quality running shirts. I thought that was awesome!
Race time! Beyond having a great time and finishing the challenge, we had time goals for each event. For the mile we wanted to go under eight minutes, the 10K under one hour and the 1/2 marathon under two hours.
The Front Street Mile is such and awesome event!, I think the entire Island comes out to support the runners. Throughout the year they have qualifying across the island for the local runners which include primary, middle, and senior school students; local adults male and female categories and invited elite runners.  Tanya and I have witnessed the fun in the past as spectators but never participated. 

What a fun and organised family event, the challenge has exploded into a popular draw. The runners were separated into color coded corrals, I believe they we done randomly. Fist race done, first goal achieved Tanya ran 7 minutes and 29 seconds and I ran 7 minutes and 14 seconds. Time to eat and hydrate we would be back at it in only a few hours. The finish medal was beautiful.

Saturday morning came quickly, the 10K start and finish was at the National Stadium and sports centre. Paula and Zina made sure we got there on time and would be our personal cheering section. What a beautiful morning it was.We were about to find out if our training was enough, back to back training runs are on thing but back to back races are another. It was quickly apparent it was going to be a very warm on this run. The Bermuda sun was shining and the humidity was rising, but Tanya and I persevered.

Second day, second race finished, second goal achieved! I finished the 10K in 56 minutes and 44 seconds and Tanya finished in 56 minutes and 35 seconds. She dropped me on that final hill climbing back to the National Stadium. A second beautiful medal received. Another well organized and supported event, the participant numbers were high, and the scenery along the course was outstanding. 

Back home to rest and hydrate. Later in the evening Sherry's house was to be the location of the Pasta Party. We needed to replenish our glycogen storage centers with a great carbohydrate heavy meal. A little red wine to relax the mind and body might help also; but just a little.  
After the party we made it another early night, and the morning came quickly, we can't thank Zina enough for being our transportation throughout the weekend challenge. The 1/2 marathon start and finish were in Hamilton and on Front Street once again.

Day three, third and final race of the Bermuda Triangle Challenge. Tanya and I were feeling good, it was another beautiful Bermuda morning. Having run the full marathon previously Tanya and I knew what we were in for; an absolutely beautiful but challenging course.   Our plan was to start at a moderate pace and try to run a negative split. I think any day you are able to get out and run is a good day; and it was. The energy was fantastic, everyone seemed to be happy and enjoying themselves, the course was full of spectators which added to the excitement. We had family cheering for us at multiple locations along the course! The way the course is designed they were able to move to multiple mile markers and keep us energized and on purpose. Sherry, Pam, Paula, Zina, Kenisha, Mahtorrie, and other family and friends we can't thank enough for supporting and encouraging us throughout the entire weekend!
Fast forward to the finish, third race done, third goal not achieved. Early on we were on pace to run a sub two hour time, but as the miles increased by so did our pace. In the end I finished in 2 hours and 9 minutes and Tanya finished in 2 hours and 8 minutes. Goal not achieved but that didn't diminish the fun we had running and experiencing the beautiful landscape and beautiful people of Bermuda!

Bermuda Triangle Challenge finished, a third and fourth beautiful medal received! One for the 1/2 marathon and one for finishing the Triangle challenge. If you run for the medals, this is the race weekend for you!
Until next time, thanks for reading and we will see you out there on the roads and trails.
Marc and Tanya

Monday, June 25, 2018

Riding Horseback in Paradise

Back on Monday May 28th; (Memorial Day in the USA), three days after we ran the Bermuda Marathon Derby.  Sherry, Paula (my sister-in-laws), Tanya and I woke up at sunrise to drive to Warwick, Bermuda. We were headed to the Watson's Stables.  The trails and the surf awaited us Bermuda Cowgirls and Cowboys!  The anticipation was reeling Tanya and I hadn't ridden in years! Possibly the last time we rode together was in Bermuda over 10 years ago. Sherry is a regular at Watson's Stables and Paula; I don't think has ever ridden a horse in her life! We were in for a blast!

I am always amazed at what you can find tucked away in Bermuda, when we turned off of middle road, it looked like we were turning into a residential neighbor hood. As we climbed a short incline the road narrowed and off to the left what looked like a former small Bermuda rock quarry; there was the stable. It was perfectly sunken from the road and nestled away, if you didn't know it was there you would easily pass by.

Tanya her sisters and Mike went way back, no introductions necessary, but not I; so we made fast friends and got ready to ride. Come to find out Mike Watson is a former Bermuda Marathon Derby Champion in 84',85',87',and 91'. He also represented Bermuda in the 1988 Olympics Summer games in Seoul Korea! Awesome!

Mike was very efficient and ordered, within minutes he had five horses quickly saddled and rigged. Before we new it we were each in the saddle walking around the ring getting acquainted with our new horse friends. Paula mounted her horse like a real pro, after a few minutes of coaching from Mike and told what to expect we were ready to hit the trails. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and the waves were waiting, giddy up! Let's hit those trails!

 The majority of the ride would take place on the Bermuda Railway Trails and Tribe Roads. Mikes knowledge of this trail system; and the history of it was impressive. If I had the opportunity it would be great to just sit and talk to him about Bermuda history. Seeing the landscape on horse back was amazing, being seven feet or more in the air on horseback changes the perspective. I had a constant feeling of awe and slight anxiety. Though the reins give you the feeling of control you are on the back of a large amazing and incredibly strong thinking independent animal. They deserve our respect.

In those 2 hours we climbed up trails, down trails, through abandoned overgrown bridle paths dating back to 1800's and old historic homes. The climax was reaching and riding out on Warwick Long Beach. I was just something about the beautiful blue water, the pink sand beach and trotting on horseback through the waves. It was fairy tale like, an incredible majestic experience.

A day to remember, sharing this experience with Tanya and my sister-in-laws was a bonding experience; I won't soon forget. If you want to make memories that last, not only visit Bermuda; but while there look up Watson's Stables you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Bermuda Day Marathon Derby 2018

It was that time of year again for Tanya and I to make our annual pilgrimage to Bermuda to run the Bermuda Day Marathon Derby; well almost an annual pilgrimage. We didn't run in 2017. For over 100 years the race which is actually a half marathon was run on the 24th of May, but starting this year, the race will be run on the Friday or I assume the Monday that is closest to the actual day. Allowing for a 3 day weekend. If you haven't visited Bermuda, going at this time of the year will give you a great experience of what Bermuda is about. The atmosphere is electric, the entire Island come out to support the cyclist and the runners; which is followed by a parade through Hamilton with representatives from all of the parishes Gombey's group dances, traditional Bermuda bands, dance trucks, musicians, floats, pageant queens, community groups. Color, food, music, and fun!

 The race always finishes in Hamilton but switches starting locations between Sandy's parish and St. George each year. This year began in Sandy's. We decided to take the ferry to the start line this year, in years past family usually takes us to the start. We love riding the island ferry's to various locations such as Dockyard, Hamilton, and St George; so we decided lets give it a try this year. The ride was awesome, all traffic was avoided, and the family was able to begin post race festivities setup early, so plus's all the way around. We were joined on the ferry by our nephew Coolidge who also is a annual participant.

Coming from California I am always concerned with the the islands humidity. I am accustomed to running in heat; but heat and high humidity adds a challenging element. We knew we were in for one of those days because as race time approached it was already sunny, warm and sticky!  

Race preparation and always time for a selfie.

Tanya and I decided to run the race together this year and just have fun interacting with the crowd; Tanya seeing and even stopping to hugs friends along the race route. But we also said if one was having a better day it was okay to split, just let our legs decide.  

The race started right on time at 9:00 am sharp! That was the last time we saw Coolidge for the rest of the race. He is a fast starter. Tanya and I tend to cruise the first few miles with the intention of running a negative split. I'm not sure but the race entrants seemed to be much lower than past runs. Usually there is an ocean of people leaving from the start, but not this year. I wonder if changing the run date had anything to do with? 

As I have stated in the past, of all the races and places I have run; this one is my favorite. Not only because it takes place on one of the most beautiful islands and places on earth; but because! No disrespect to my caucasian brothers and sisters, but seeing so many brown and black faces running and lining the course cheering their hearts out is so uplifting to me! I just LOVE it!  

First mile down in 9:15:00 on track to run a sub two hour time. That was today's objective  cruise have fun, but have a finishing goal in mind. As time and the miles passed the temperature began to rise and so did the humidity. The first half of the race went by fast; we both felt strong and had a good rhythm going each taking turns setting the pace.  We saw family, friends and the energy of the crowd made the miles just flow; it was great!  But Harbor Road can be a drag and around mile 8 I started falling off the pace and feeling just plainly uncomfortable. I hung on for another mile hoping to push through it, but by mile 9 just before Lovers Lane a said to Tanya "Roll on baby", I wasn't feeling it. I wanted her to finish strong and maybe reel back in that sub 2 hour goal. We had fallen off pace.  I slowed my pace, walked through a water stop at Aberfeldy Nursery drank a few cups of water ate some sour gummy bears and just like that the energy came back. Time to finish strong! The crowds on Front Street will energize the weakest of runners and that they did! Just awesome. But the finish is no walk in the park; you still have,  short but steep hills to go over through Hamilton; enough to drain the energy of the strongest runner. But one step at a time and soon you will be crossing the finish line in Bernard Park. But not until we get our last burst of energy from the family who are set up on Marsh Folly Road just under a half mile to the finish. It is like a party when we come around that corner! Cheers, screams, horns, mayhem, pure energy! If your feeling down, not for long they are going to pick you up and help you finish strong!  Tanya crossed the line in 2:06:00 and I in 2:09:00; big props to Coolidge who crossed in 1:59:00 just getting under that two hour mark. 

Sporting our Medals

Family Support always helps!

The Francis Sisters

Time to get cleaned up then head to the family tent to enjoy the parade, festivities, and family fun. If you get a chance, visit Bermuda! Its a special place. 
Cool Runnings. MJ

Sunday, January 7, 2018

2018 Trail Running in Claremont

The first weekend of 2018 is almost over. I'm writing this on a lazy Sunday; but yesterday was not a lazy day we were up at the crack of dawn! Up early to knock down some trail miles in the foothills of Claremont CA. I mapped out a 7 mile loop the day before that would combine a mix of road, trail, and paved trail. We have a few new fitness goals for 2018, but the first step to achieving them is to put in the work.  As the sun rose we began the first climb, too steep to run so power walk it would be. What's the ultra running saying " Run the flats and the downhills, and power walk the hills"; this has served us well through the years! By the time we reached top of the first climb our bodies were nice and warm and ready to hit the first trails running in Johnson's Pasture.

As we rolled through Johnson's Pasture, it was nice to run into a few other early risers already enjoying the beautiful morning and trekking along. After a few miles the trail linked to the Claremont Wilderness Park system. All of the climbing was over, time to open our strides a little and roll downhill for a few miles. 

Feeling Good

2018 BABY!

After we left the Claremont Wilderness Park our loop continued on Mills Avenue to the Thompson's Creek Trail; then it was smooth sailing back to our starting point. The loop was 7.02 miles, done in just over an hour. Nice Mon! Time to head home for some citrus. 

Fresh Picked and Cut Citrus

Ruby Red Grapefruit and Navel Oranges are great to help recovery after training. They both contain simple natural sugars which are easy to absorb; plus plenty of Vitamin C an antioxidant which has countless benefits. Thank you for reading and can't wait to see you on the trails.