Last Sunday, Scott and I participated in the Bermuda Triangle Challenge. Every year, since I started running marathons, I have done a destination race. In 2011, it was Prague. In 2012, the Bahamas. After reading Beth's race reports from Bermuda, last year, I thought that it would be a nice place to visit in 2013. So here is my long report.
I was not interested in doing the challenge itself (three races in three days. The winner is the runner with the lowest number after adding up all three finish times). I just wanted to sign up for the marathon and run it as a long and hilly training run, in preparation for Boston. Scott, who trains only on occasion, and with very low mileage, just wanted to do the one mile race. He had never done more than 5ks, and his long runs never went past 6 miles... But we found out that to be allowed to run the one mile race, we had to register for all three races. Oh well... I had to run a few miles the days prior to the marathon anyway. Scott was still unconvinced that he could run a 10k and the half-marathon was out of the question for him. But I am good at convincing and I assured him that with my help, he would do a good 10k and that the half-marathon could be treated as a long hike, while he enjoyed the scenery and took pictures along the way. He grudgingly agreed. MY TRAININGThis was my 7th marathon in 14 months. One marathon every two months on average. My weeks have been nothing but peaks, tapers, races and recoveries. Not high mileage, just consistent running.
MY GOALSLike I said, I was not interested in the first two races. I figured that if I ran the mile at tempo effort, it would not hurt me too much. The race was Friday night, and my marathon was Sunday morning. For the 10k, the next morning, I would be pacing Scott and I figured that again, the pace would be easy enough and not really a threat to the marathon. I had forgotten the warning on the website regarding the difficult course for the 10k. Extremely hilly, with two major hills at miles 5 and 6... For the marathon, I checked last year's results. The winner in my AG (40-49) had finished in 3:38. I thought that I could do that and still call it a training run. But a week before race day, I was sent a list of all the participants and after some detective work, I concluded that at least 4 women in my AG were much faster than me. My heart sank. Without the incentive of an AG award, I didn't know what to do. Should I try killing myself on the hilly course by aiming for a PR? But then I have Boston coming up in April... Should I just take it really easy and finish 20 minutes slower than my PR? I was confused once again, in typical me fashion... I decided not to think about it and I trusted that on race morning, my guts would tell me what to do.
SCOTT'S GOALSScott had decided he would try hard in the one mile, do his best in the 10k (but he had very little confidence in his ability to tackle the distance) and simply do the half as a tourist, with a camera. We did discuss different strategies, such as run for as long as you can, then run/walk. Or run/walk from the start. Or just walk. Whatever you do, just don't die and you'll be ok. :-) He asked me what I thought he could do in the best circumstances and oddly, I said 2:10 (after some quick calculations in my head). He said what if he walked? I told him that there would still be many people left on the course after 3 hours and that he should not worry about it... We arrived at our little cottage on the evening of Thursday. I had packed a suitcase with food from Canada, knowing how expensive everything is on the island. We ate some canned soup and tuna sandwiches and went to bed early. The next day, we bought bus passes which we used extensively to visit the island during our 5 day stay. A cold front had moved over Bermuda and would stay with us until we left. It was actually not so cold for us, 65-70F, but always with a threat of rain, high humidity and a clouded sky. We never went to the beach, but we did explore a lot and the temperature was perfect for that. We totally fell in love with the people of the island. Beth had told me how warm and friendly they were, but I had not imagined just how true her words were. The support we received during that race weekend was simply incredible.
THE ONE MILE RACEHERSThere were 6 waves, 100 runners per wave, 4 minutes between starts. I was in the first wave, Scott in the 5th. I lined up at the back, to make sure that I would not start too fast. I was intent on running this no faster than tempo pace. At some point, I spotted a woman in front of me with the cutest skirt ever and I had a feeling of deja vu... Then we were off. It took about 10 seconds for us to cross the start line (it was a very narrow corridor), then another 10 seconds for me to weave between people, before I could settle into tempo pace. After 150 meters, I would say, there was a sharp 180* turn and we were back running in the direction of the start line. We passed it and continued down the street. A lot of spectators were sitting at tables on the second floors of the many pubs lining up Front Street, downtown Hamilton. Bermudians love their one mile race and they were waiting for the elite race, after ours, and also the invitational one miler (where international guests had been invited to run. Mostly past winners, old famous runners, etc...). They also held races for the local schools and I was later amazed to see 12 to 15 year old girls run their mile in 5:20 to 6:00 time. Wow! Bermudians take their running very seriously and they are very good at it. After the first 800 meters, I noticed the cute skirt lady a bit ahead of me. We were running the same pace. Suddenly, she put some distance between us and I let her go, always trying to stay within tempo effort. Another sharp 180* turn and we were back running in the direction of the start/finish line. Weird course... Almost 100 meters before the finish line, I started having regrets about not racing this event. The medal would not mean much... Why had I agreed to do this if I were not racing it as it deserved? I hate regrets. Then I spotted again Lady Fashionista and I decided that trying to pass her would be my own little race within a race. I changed gear and forced my legs to move faster. I felt my face straining under the effort. I passed the lady just before the finish line and I finished in 7:18 gun time. She finished in 7:19. We were not given a chip time, unlike the other two races later. Is that normal for a one mile race? I was happy that I had maintained a tempo effort and that I had passed Lady Fashionista. Mission accomplished! HISScott also positioned himself at the back of his wave. He had no idea what he could do and thought it would be safer this way. I saw him go by twice (because of the turn) and saw that he was working hard. He crossed in 7:02, feeling sick. I was very proud of him. At 50, with very little miles in his legs and almost no interval workouts ever, he had just done a sub-7:02 chip time one mile! He was disappointed about not going sub-7:00, but I explained about the lost seconds before reaching the start line and those lost to weaving between slower runners. With a chip time, he definitely had his sub-7:00. I was very proud of him.
THE 10K RACEThe 10k was the next morning. Another sky full of promises of rain, but only high humidity in the air. There were 1200 runners for this event and the start/finish was in the National Sports Stadium.
I told Scott that we would try to maintain a 8:20 pace, but if he needed to walk up the hills, to just tell me. Of course, I was lying, unintentionally. We ran the first mile at 8:00, the pace my body is most familiar with... The second mile was 7:35, because... I suck at pacing? Then, after checking my Garmin, I put on the breaks and hoped it wasn't too late for Scott. We finished the first 3.1 miles in 25:30, which is usually his 5k time. And he still had another 3.1 miles to do, in the brutal hills! He was hanging on, but we were slowing down. In the hill at mile 5, he started walking. I turned around and yelled "What are you doing? We only have 1 mile to go before the finish! You're NOT going to walk now. RUN!" How mean is that? I walked parts of the last three miles in my last marathon and I totally hated everyone who urged me to start running again, when I knew that I simply could not. And there I was telling Scott to pick up his feet and run, after completely burning him with the first fast miles. He would only smile, patient as an angel, and would say to me "Please, don't wait for me, go ahead... I just can't do more..." Then, he would turn to the spectators on the sides and say "My wife is trying to kill me." LOL... In between hill 5 and 6, he resumed his running, and then he did a little sprint to the finish. We crossed in 53:50 and you know what? I am so damn proud of him. I know how difficult this was for him. Again, considering his lack of real training, he had done amazingly well.
We returned to the cottage, changed, ate and finished the day hopping from one bus to another, visiting the tiny, but gorgeous, island of Bermuda. Bermuda feels very European (like Ireland or the English countryside) in architecture and social structure. Before the arrival of the British on the island, in the 17th century, there were no inhabitants there. So the country really was established from scratch. Being so small, it is easy to control and it does not face the problems that our larger countries in North America are facing today. But it offers all of the positive sides of a North American country (with a feel of Europe).
THE MARATHONMy big day had come! So now that I had done the 10k in the hills, I had a better idea of what real hills are. They wreck havoc with your pace and your concentration going up, and then they wreck your legs going down. I decided that a PR at this point would be suicidal for the rest of my training. But I felt that an 8:15 pace would still keep me within a LR training pace range, but be hard enough to give me a taste of Boston. I drank a cup of coffee and ate half a bagel at 6:30 am. The race was at 8:00 am. This was a mistake. I usually eat and drink at least 2 hours before the start. At the start line, back on Front Street, I lined up three times for the bathroom. But 3 minutes before the gun, I felt that familiar sensation once again. Grrr.... I have the most stupidest ever bladder. I drink a cup and I need to urinate 50 thousand times! But it was too late now, the gun would go off in a minute or two. Scott hugged me and told me everything would be alright. I knew he was right and I wished him the same. I still did not know what his intentions were for the half-marathon.
Scott took a few pictures and then the gun went off. We ran the first mile together and then he wished me good luck and I did the same. After two or three miles, I spotted Lady Fashionista once again. We were meant to run together. I saw her place her music to her ears and she started humming a song. That is when it clicked in my brain! I recognized her from the marathon last year, in the Bahamas. In Nassau, I had run behind her, sometimes ahead, for the first 20 miles. In the last 6 miles, I faded, but she didn't. She finished 2 or 3 minutes ahead of me and she won 1st place in her AG (40-44). I won 1st place in mine (45-49). No hard feelings. :-) I knew that she was a better runner than me and that I should not try to challenge her. Still, I just couldn't put up with her humming. So irritating when people do this... Why can't they suffer in silence, like I do? sigh... I had to pass her for that reason alone. I wasn't prepared to slow down my pace just because of her singing... After that, I was not to see her again until mile 21. :-) At mile 8, the evil voices in my head appeared. "What are you doing here, you fool? You're on vacation and look at yourself, so pathetic in your little running outfit, desperately moving your sad little legs to try to keep up with the real runners... " 'SHUT UP!" I told them. "Yes, I may be crazy, but I can do this. My body knows it. My body is my friend and from now on, I will only listen to it, not you, evil and weak brain..". Did I ever mention how training on a TM year round makes someone a little sick in the head? Anyway... the voices died and I was able to maintain the pace that I wanted. Speaking of pace. I have my very own strategy, which I like to explain every time I write a race report. Here I go again: My guru, Mr Pfitz, says it's ok for me to have a 2 to 3 minute deficit in the second half (page 125, Advanced Marathoning). I do not drink at all in the first half, because it breaks my initial momentum. I like to keep going for as long as is reasonable, without ever stopping. I don't drink while running, because I can't. So, for my personal medical health, I have to force myself to stop at the water stations in the second half. I do this 4 or 5 times. For water and 2 gels. I lose about 2 minutes because of this. Two minutes plus the normal two or three minute fade means that a four to five minute positive split is normal for me. So, taking this into account means that running the first half at 8:05 pace was necessary for my goal. I crossed the half point in 1:46:07, 8:06 average. By then, we were being pounded by heavy rain and it was difficult for me to see through my glasses (I can't stand water in my eyes). We were all miserable and I looked at the half-marathoners entering the chute with envy. I thought about the second loop that I had to do... The nasty hill I would see again three miles down the road... And the next one, and the one after that... My socks were bunching up in my shoes. My shoes were speaking a language I was unfamiliar with. Like I said, I felt miserable. "Should I call this a day?" I thought. "Isn't a HM finish time of 1:46:07, on a difficult course, a respectable time for a woman my age? And isn't this a vacation, damn it?!" But of course, my body had no idea what I was talking about, it was trained to continue. So I continued. I learned later that many marathon runners decided to stop at the 13.1 point and they were given a medal and an official half-marathon time. I also met people who had finished the half-marathon they had signed up for and they did not receive a medal because the race had run out of them. Some people were crying at the finish line because of it (A little excessive, I know. Don't ever take the bling from a tired and emotional woman! ). I think it was wrong of the organizers to allow the marathon runners to switch to the HM at mid-point like this. If you enter the race with me, you must compete with me to the very end. No switching, or else no time and no medal. We may have good reasons to DNF, sometimes, and even saying you don't like rain is ok. No one is forced to do these things if they are not wanting to. But a DNF should not be turned into something it is not... Anyway, they promised that they would mail the medals to those who did not receive them. I'm sure they will.
Some pictures that Scott took while doing his half-marathon run.
Wow, this is getting Jason long... let's speed up a bit. More rain, more hills, more misery. Then at mile 21, my bladder starts yelling at me "Goddammit, take care of me, will you? Or I will take care of business myself and you will regret ignoring me..." "Okay, okay, I'll do the right thing, won't ignore you anymore, just stop whining, please..." I looked around and saw a porta-potty. Do you know how difficult it is to roll down a wet skirt and wet panties, on wet legs, and then bring everything up again and make sense of the whole mess? It's about 90 seconds to 2 minutes difficult. That's how difficult it is... After I join the runners again, who did I then see just in front of me? Yes! How did you guess? It was Lady Fashionista herself... With 5 miles to go, if I could hang on to her, I was all good to the finish line. I stopped to drink when she would stop and I made sure that she was running a pace I was in agreement with. I think I had been doing about 8:20 by then, in between the water stops. I wanted badly to slow down, but this time, I wouldn't let her out of my sight. This time, I too would have a strong finish. I ran behind until the 25th mile. At that point, a man on the sidewalk yelled to her "You are 6th woman overall!". And then pointed to me and said "You are 7th!". This is the second time that this happens in a race. You cannot imagine the mental boost I got each time from hearing those words. I realized at this point that maybe I had a chance after all at placing somewhere in my AG. And she was standing in the way, at 43... No longer an ally, but an enemy... It sounds bad, doesn't it? But that was my state of mind at that moment. We started climbing the last hill before entering the streets of the capital. She was really slowing down. Like 9:00 pace. I had a good 8:30 in me, even at mid-hill, so I passed her. Once I reached the top, I was so scared that she would come zooming by me, with only about 600 meters to go. I concentrated hard to keep pace. Not a sprint, no, too tired for that. But still an 8:15 pace... I crossed the finish line and she came in one full minute after me. :-) In truth, I am so immensely grateful to her. She really was a great runner, because she had done a much better 10k than me the day before. Bart Yasso himself came to shake my hand and congratulated me. He is a regular guest of the whole event. I thanked him, but I did not tell him that I knew who he was. Too shy for that... I waited for Lady F. and I thanked her for her great pacing. I asked if she had run Nassau the year before. She had. :-) I had been right all along... This time, she took second place in the 40-49 AG, behind me. I was so happy about that. Sorry for her, but so proud of myself. Is it bad to have such feelings? Sometimes I feel guilty about it... THE NUMBERS10th marathon since 201010th BQ (BQ-16)7th marathon in the last 14 monthsFirst one in hills and hard rainFirst woman in AG (17 total in AG)6th woman overall on 66 What else? I ended the second half with a 6 minute positive split. Two minutes or so off my goal, but with the pee break, still acceptable. Many of the top runners had much greater positive splits. The winner had a 2 minute positive split. #2 had a 4 minute positive split and #3 had a 12 minute positive split. All were from Africa and in the elite category. The winning female was an elite from Ukraine.
The winner, Richard Kessio, 38, 2:27:08. He had a pacer with him, is that normal?
After I finished, I was invited to a gala in the evening, where all of the top three AG winners, in all of the races, plus the top winners overall, received a plaque from the hands of the Ministers of Tourism, Sports, etc... Bart Yasso was also present. Every first place AG winners also received $100. WOO HOO! I made money running! The letter announcing that I had won a prize stipulated that the money would not be disbursed until a drug test proved negative. I said to Scott "What the heck? They want to check my urine? For a 3:38 time? Are they crazy?" But after inquiring with a race organizer, it turned out that the wording was not very clear and only the top winner (whose prize I imagine was more than $100) needed to be tested. Not the rest of us, little people. They don't want to see our pee.
The gala was a big affair, with over 100 people, photographers, etc... I was glad I had brought a little black dress and pearl earrings. I did not think that I would need them for such an event, though. The lady with the very short hair is Lady F. :-)
The female winner of the Full Challenge (the three races) was the lady who finished 3rd in my AG (the woman with a blue/green shirt in the picture above). I finished #4 (on 45), only three minutes behind the #2, Lady F. I take pride in the fact that out of the first 4 top females, 3 were in their 40ies and only one in her 20ies... If I were to do this challenge again, without a Spring marathon on the horizon, I would take it much more seriously. I never had imagined that I could end up so close to the top... Of course, there was a very small number of participants. I would have no chance at any awards with more participants...
AND WHAT ABOUT SCOTT?
About five minutes after I crossed the finish line, Scott was by my side. He had been waiting for me in one of the pubs, watching the street from the second floor. He said that he had been talking to a man who was also waiting for his wife to finish. He was anxious, hoping that I would come in first, before the man's wife. I asked him how he did and guess what his time was? 2:10! Exactly my best estimate for him! I was so happy for him. He told me that he ran the first 7 miles, and then he did a run/walk, about 9 minute run and one minute walk. His shins were, and still are, hurting... :-( Isn't 2:10 a fantastic time for someone so unprepared for the distance? It took a lot of guts for him to do this and I am so grateful to him for accompanying me through this fabulous race weekend. Thank you, Scott!
My best friend, my hero.
Thank you for reading!
PRs: Boston Marathon, 3:27, April 15th 2013
Cornwall Half-Marathon, 1:35, April 27th 2013
4 years racing, 15 marathons, 15 BQs
Julie, I never ever ever ever EVER again want to hear you talk about how you're slow or a bad runner. SHEESH, WOMAN. Damn fine running. Congrats on your AG award! The pictures are beautiful (and you are beautiful) and it sounds like you had an amazing vacation.
Huh, I have a blog?
No more marathons
Best Sunday read with a cup of coffee. Gave me the incentive to go for my long run today.
Congrats to you and you DH.
I race in SparkleSkirts
What a FANTASTIC race report, Lily! I really enjoyed reading this. Love the pictures! Sounds like you and Scott had a wonderful time there! Congrats on the AG awards, especially winning your AG for the marathon in the rain, with the hills, and edging out "Lady F"!!! Congrats to Scott, too! That's a great finish time! I don't even hope for that for my first half! (but I'm really slow). Thanks for sharing!
PRs: 5K- 28:16 (5/5/13) 10K- 1:00:13 (10/27/13) 4M- 41:43 (9/7/13) 15K- 1:34:25 (8/17/13) 10M- 1:56:30 (4/6/14) HM- 2:20:16 (4/13/14)
I started a blog about running :) Check it out if you care to
Lily, congrats on a great set of races!! I truly enjoyed your RR!! Not only do you run beautifully, but you write fabulously - I felt like I was right there with you and Lady F. Love the pics! Thanks for sharing!
But The Smile That I Sent Out Returned With You.
I knew there would be a fantastic story behind yours and Scott's times and places when I looked them up. You didn't disappoint me.
2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race
I loved reading your whole race report! Congrats on a fantastic 10th marathon and on your 1st place AG award! How amazing!
Up next: Front Runners New York LGBT Pride 5-mile 06/28 | NYRR Team Championships: Women (5M) 08/02
Goal race: NYCRUNS Haunted Island 10K 10/25
Goddess of the Cuisine
You're definitely a forum pro now. Congrats, Lily!
Ms Chenandler Bong
Loved it, loved it, loved it!! You are so speedy! Those brain demons need to leave us alone, don't they? Glad you told yours to shut up.
I want your running life- traveling, running fast, looking so thin and fab. Yup, I'm envious.
Training for NC24. Not sure why.
Lily what a wonderful race and race report as always!! All the memories came rushing back reading your
I am so so happy you and Scott had a good time. I would feel really awful if I recommended a destination race
to someone and they didn't enjoy it.
I did mention the hills on the 10k and the full route didnt I??? and the humidity?
Scott did an amazing job. As did you of course! Congrats on your win!
Grats to both of you on great performances in the midst of what was surely a wonderful life experience.
Wow, Julie, congratulations on a great bunch of races and a fantastic trip!!!! You handled the hills and the rain like a champ and still finished with a great time and an AG award in the marathon: how amazing are you??? Well done!! I love all the pics and your SO did an incredible job in his own right. You two are quite the team! Thanks for the report!
I don't even know what to say. You and Scott did great. You're a rockstar. I laughed when you described telling him to run after you ran him faster than he thought for the first three miles. It's so hard for me to imagine someone as fast as you having such bad voices of negativity in their head
Wow! Just wow. Your reports always impress me with your humility. Congrats on a strong finish in bad conditions, congrats on the 1st place, winning money, and yay for no drug tests. Great stuff!
Take Charge. Train Harder. Suck Less. No Excuses.
Congratulations to both of you. Great RR. Thank you.