Monday, January 27, 2014

Bahamas Half Marathon and Vacation!

I have a hard time calling this a "race report" because there was no racing to be had.  The purpose of this half marathon was to take in the sights and just have fun, mission accomplished!  So how did this all come about?  In September of 2013 Brandon and I were having a conversation about me turning 30.  He wanted to make sure my birthday was extra special so after a little researching and conversation, Operation See The World on Foot was going to make another stop and he booked our trip to the Bahamas and registered us for the Bahamas Half Marathon!  Not only would this be my first international race, but it would also be knocking off one of my bucket list races.  Is there a better way to kick off your 30's?!  I think not.....

On Friday we made our way to the airport and hopped on our 5:45 am flight (yawn) and were on our way!  Ironically on both of our flights there, we were seated next to a really nice young lady named Ann who was also on her way to the Bahamas for the race!  She was headed their to run her first FULL marathon and you could tell she was so excited but equally as nervous.  It made for some fun conversation!  After one connecting flight, sitting through the customs line for almost an hour, and being one giant wad of "I hate the airport" stress we finally made it to the Bahamas!  Our taxi driver was unaware that the marathon was going on that weekend which was a little odd.  You mean on this tiny island you have no idea that the roads are being closed for what is becoming one of your biggest sporting events?  (Note to the marathon marketing department, might want to step it up a notch.)  We got all checked in at Breezes and headed up to our room, when they say oceanfront room they aren't kidding:

I'm pretty sure that an all-inclusive resort is a runners only way to travel.  Unlimited food and drinks, yes please.  The only downside for us was that the tap water was awful.  For two people who drink a ridiculous amount of water every day, this was a little annoying.  We fired up Google to see if the water was safe to drink to which the response was, "While the water in the Bahamas is safe to drink, the taste is repulsive."  Let me start by saying I am not a water snob, I don't care if it has cute shaped bottle or an exotic name, as long as it tastes good I'm fine.  I sipped a little out of the tap and holy moly, that was awful.  It was basically diluted salt water, no thank you.  As someone who almost died from drinking the water in Mexico (not intentionally) I wasn't taking any chances.  Luckily we found a tap of filtered water down in the main dining area that the wait staff used.  We emptied it out at least once a day and pretty sure the staff hated us.  Sorry folks, all inclusive right? :)  The stress of the day started to melt away after seeing the beach and then it was time to grab a beverage and park it on the beach for the rest of the day.  The weather on Friday was a little breezy and a little cloudy in the afternoon, didn't stop us though. 

On Saturday we were up bright and early and took our appetites down to the breakfast buffet before heading out to the beach.  The french toast they served was hands down the best I've ever had, we ate it every day.  We snagged a couple of extra bagels so that we'd have them race morning when breakfast wouldn't be served yet.  Once you've run a few destination races you start to learn a few tricks of the trade!  We spent most of the day lounging on the beach and then showered up to head over to the expo for the race.  The expo was at the Wyndham which was about a .25 mile walk along the beach so it made for a nice little outing.  I guess I've been accustomed to large expos here in the US because the expo was more or less just packet pick up with some booths set up.  I honestly didn't have high expectations but I was at least expecting that they would have a little more than two boxes of GU available to sell...not an exaggeration.  Regardless, we got what we came for: t-shirts and bibs!
We got to bed fairly early and were up bright and early on Sunday!  The shuttle picked us up at our hotel and we were off to the start line!  It was really neat to be on the bus with so many people from around the world.  So many stories and accents, shapes and sizes, ages and experience levels.  One of the things I love most about runners is how we can all accomplish the same goal very differently and because of that, we're all equals and there's a mutual respect amongst every one.  We made it to the start line long before the sun ever came up, and at 6am we were off!

At the start line
In all of the races we've run over the years, this was the first race that Brandon and I have actually run together-together.  My speedster of a husband slowed it down to my super easy pace and we cruised through the 13.1 miles together!  Along the way we took in the sights, shared a lot of laughs, stopped for pictures, and never once thought about time.  In fact, we didn't even have our Garmins turned on.  A few pictures from along the course....

The lady in the yellow tank next to me is Lee.  She and her husband were staying at our resort and we became pretty good friends throughout the trip.  Ron was her cheerleader and we saw him along the course, very sweet couple.
Rare occasion!  Race photo taken of us together!  Love this photo.
This was around mile 10.  Gorgeous, just gorgeous views.  The ocean, not me ;)

Such a handsome husband I have.

Thank you to the sweet lady who stopped and offered to take our picture!  Runners are the best.

*A funny tidbit that fellow runners would appreciate.  At the halfway point of the race you know where they usually have a timing chip mat that you must cross to verify that you ran the whole distance?  Not in the Bahamas!  They have a man with a megaphone calling out your number as you pass to a lady with a clipboard to write it down and they verify later.  Fancy, eh?*

The weather felt great the entire race but by mile 12 that Bahamas sunshine was upon us and it started to heat up!  Not too long after we crossed the finish line with a cruising time of 2:25:07!  By far the most beautiful backdrop for a finish line I've ever seen:

Best. Birthday. Present. EVER.

 We have an ongoing joke that we always see a marching band during the wee hours of the morning at every vacation we go on.  Well, the tradition continued in the Bahamas:

These guys were definitely unique finish line entertainment and they were awesome!

So much fun at the finish line!  I like races that are smaller because you really get to relax after a race and just take it all in without fighting crazy crowds.

  After enjoying a cold Kalik at the finish line, we headed back to the hotel for a day on the beach!  This was definitely the most relaxing "post race" afternoon I've ever gotten to enjoy.  I wish every race ended with a beach and beers a pina-colada with coconut rum!

Perfect way to end such a great race day.

On Monday our laziness continued and we spent all day at the beach just laying around and doing nothing.  Our jobs and regular life back home is go-go-go so doing nothing is glorious.  Tuesday it was back home to Dallas and to see our pups who we missed dearly.  Thank you to my husband for truly making this a trip I will never forget.  I can't imagine taking these adventures with anyone else!  

My 30th birthday is fast approaching and it's shaping up to be incredible.  Bring on more adventures!  Next stop: Portland!

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