Friday, December 11, 2015

Up and Running: Jamaica Reggae Marathon

We arrived in Jamaica on December 2, 2015 with great anticipation! Not only were we going to run the Reggae Marathon on December 5, but I was finally visiting the Island birthplace of my favorite musical artist; the Iconic Robert Nesta Marley! I was feeling Irie Mon! We wanted to experience the "real" Jamaica so we didn’t book our accommodations at the many beach resorts, we instead found a home to rent  in the hills above Negril. Turned out to be exactly what we wanted. Peartree Hill Estate 

The house was a traditional Jamaican home set upon a hill with a majestic view of the valley below and the mountains to the East.

The house featured a wrap around porch facing east which gave view to the most beautiful sunrise. 

The house attendant and landscaper David was the best. Each morning as we exited onto the porch he greeted us with just pulled from the tree coconuts. With a machete he chopped and then drained the coconut  water and also treated us to freshly chopped sugarcane. We chewed and sucked the stalks to our hearts content. Pure natural sugar tastes so good. It was incredible! 

And don’t let me forget brother Bam the property manager, and our driver. When he picked us up from the Montego Bay airport I knew we were in good hands; what ever you needed Bam would  make it happen!  “Up and Running, Ya Mon”! Bam’s favorite saying. 

Fast forward to Friday night; the Reggae Marathons infamous Pasta Party! I heard rave reviews! All I’m going to say is "Chaos" their was no structure at all!  People going in and out of line; and I use the word line loosely. People reaching plates over and between people, people pushing in and out. Crazy! Glad I experienced it but, if I come back, I will eat else where the night before the race.  A little order would make it a great experience, because the food was pretty good; the little bit I had to fight to get! The possibly great culinary experience was lessened because of the chaos.

Saturday morning race day. The race start time was 5:15 am so we had to be up extra early because the road through Negril was going to be closed to all traffic from 4 am until noon. Thanks to Bam we were made it to the start line just before  4:00 am. We didn’t have to worry about catching one of the many shuttles that were leaving from hotels. The events of the morning consisted of a 10K, ½ marathon, and marathon. The early start was because the Jamaican sun as I found out later in the morning is no joke!
The race started right on time, in total darkness, the only light which was very cool; were young children lining each side of the road for about 100 yard with torches.
OK to my walker friends out there! And I know I speak for the runners/joggers out there,
Line up in the back! There is nothing more frustrating and dangerous than at the beginning of a running race when you are shoulder to shoulder and then you have to weave in and out of bodies because a group of walkers are slowly moving amongst the fury of the start. A little race etiquette would be appreciated!
The course was a flat double loop of 13.1 miles, my goal was to go under 5 hours; by mile 3 I quickly realized why the race start was at 5:15 am. I was soaked from perspiration due to early morning humidity and heat within the first two miles. Tanya and I planned to run the first half together and then let pace naturally do the rest. My breathing was hindered early so by mile 4 I had let her go. The race volunteers and the water stops were great, nice and cold water bags and electrolyte drink at each. The music was awesome and later in the race it is what kept me chugging along. The rhythmic tunes of Bob Marley floated through the air; situated every couple of miles Jamming from local motorist cars and DJ set ups. I finished loop one in 2:14:00 right where I wanted to be to run a sub 5 so I thought.  I quickly saw the majority of the people did not come to run the marathon, from the ½ way point it was just you the road plus the few souls who came to challenge the Jamaica heat and sun!  By this time the sun was in full blaze and my walk breaks began to increase, not because I was tired or weak I felt strong; but every time I tried to increase my pace; It felt like to Sun was saying "Oh no you don’t"  A few times the sun felt almost unbearable; and I wasn’t the only one looking for any type of shade. Myself and the few other’s darted for the trees lining the road when we could. I trudged on I didn’t think the second loop would ever end! If it wasn’t for Robert Nesta Marley jamming and his sounds floating through the air keeping me moving to the beat and singing my heart out I may not have made it. I finally crossed the finish line around 10:45 am in the time of 5:33 and some change. I believe my slowest marathon on record! To my dismay I wasn’t that upset with my slow finishing time! I was upset that they had run out of Red Stripe! and the post race party which was advertised to last until noon was being pack up! What the Hell! The ice cold beer I had been dreaming about for the last 6 miles was a No! And the band was packing up the stage! What a fraud finish line party, I mean it is called the “Reggae Marathon”, every participant especially the marathoners should be given a little more respect! Tanya finished in 4:55:00 and there was no beer or music playing then either! The people who suffered the most, and believe me the marathoners were suffering in the heat; got the least amount of love at the finish. Step up your game “Reggae Marathon”!

The ocean water was a nice refresher from the last 5+ hours. We swam and relaxed for a while and cheered in a few more runners; then it was off to the house and the rest of our vacation!
Would I run the Reggae Marathon again? Maybe but more likely the half! But I will be back to Jamaica definitely! Soon Come Mon!

Monday, June 8, 2015

2015 Appleby Bermuda Half Marathon Derby

Two Mondays ago Tanya and I ran the Appleby Bermuda Half Marathon. I have stated before this is our favorite race to run; but this year was very special. It was special because after 37 years the race started in St. George's and not Somerset. St. Georges is Tanya's hometown. There was an awesome buzz and excitement in the air because of this special occasion. There was a new record set on entrants to the race, and the East end'ers  came out in the thousands to line course and cheer the runners. The weather was perfect, partly 

cloudy skies, mild temps, medium humidity, and a steady breeze from the east. The race began in historic St. George's and headed west to finish in Hamilton. Running from this direction was challenging because of the many hills along the course. The course from Somerset includes the infamous "Burnt House Hill" which is a butt kicker, but this course had many, many hills one right after the other.  I think this  will spark the interest of many more Bermudians to run in the upcoming years; alternating the course each year will create goals to run PR's from each direction. Having Family and Friends all along the course, calling our names and encouraging us to go go go is so special; and what makes this race so special to us.Tanya and I had a great time competing with our fellow runners; and look forward to many,many more years of running this race.