Saturday, December 28, 2013

Big Hills and Boston

I started the day early in order to get the Nail Bay loop in with a friend before a couple meetings and getting myself to Tortola. Confirming your running date at the bar the night before, like I did last night, is always a dangerous move and our start time went from 6:45 to 7:30 by the time we both got home. It is worth running early around here, before it heats up, and we got through the first half of the run with a few dry spots to wipe the sweat from our eyes left on our shirts. In the second half, the hilly part, I didn’t have a dry spot on me anywhere! The last hill up to Hog Heaven was a killer. It starts at sea level and just keeps going. Once you reach the bar it is smooth sailing on a flat road followed by a big down hill to home. Even though I have run it before and know it is a bigger hill than it appears, when we came around the corner that feels like it should the top we could see Hog Heaven another mile up and both of our strides faltered a little. We made it through, of course, and rewarded ourselves with a stretch break at the top. “Stretching” is really just an excuse to take in the view, and it is a good one! We finished the run and I had about 45 minutes to make the ferry for my meeting. I chugged some water, jumped in the shower and made it out the door in time to flag a lift down the hill from a local chef. It’s a pretty small community in Virgin Gorda, especially the North Sound area, so it pays to be friendly and respectful to everyone you meet since you never know when you will meet them again, usually right about the time you need a ride!
On the run up the hill Phil and I were discussing how a really hard run makes you feel pretty invincible for the rest of the day. If you’ve run 10k uphill before breakfast, think of what else you could do! With this in mind I went to a meeting to discuss a potential job. I was sweaty and flustered with my duffel bag on my back when I arrived at the meeting. Thankfully the manager was a bit flustered himself and was running late. I managed to cool off and stop sweating before he arrived! The meeting went really well which is all I’m going to say at the moment, to prevent any chicken counting jinxing. The best part of the meeting was that the manager was headed to Tortola afterwards and offered to give me a lift, saving me a taxi across the island, a ferry ride, and about $40!
Arriving in Tortola brought me back to an island version of reality. I hate Tortola. Ok ok, I should say I dislike Tortola, it’s not St. Maarten after all.  I know the North Sound is a special bubble to live in, but it is hard to leave. Once in Tortola I walked down the dock with my bag on my back looking forward to a Dockmaster’s sandwich. But in true Tortola fashion they were closed so I walked down the street and into a restaurant that used to be quite good and ordered a sandwich. The restaurant is no longer that good, and it’s overpriced. Then I tried to hitch or catch the bus out of town, neither of which was proving to be a successful endeavor so I hailed a taxi and paid through the teeth to go 3 miles. Now I’m sitting at a bar, with a Painkiller in front of me so I guess all is well that ends well, and it’s really not that bad.

Just like running at different times in the day can make a difference in how you run, how you feel afterwards and how your day goes, my blogs are affected by when I sit down and write them. Since I had such a hectic morning I didn’t get a chance to write until now, now being after I viewed a short film about the One Run for Boston Relay, and it has completely changed the direction I was going to go with in today’s blog.
I am sitting at this bar, drinking a Painkiller because I needed some Wifi in order to view a video documentary a friend made. Robin has started his own small production company and does a lot of short films on endurance sports. He has recently been asked to make a film about last years One Run for Boston Relay that went from LA to Boston. I hadn’t heard about the relay but encourage everyone to look it up and participate in some way if it is in your state. Robin was one of the first people I ran into last year after the Marathon Bombing and when he extended his condolences I could barely hold back tears. I had  found out about the bombing via text message the night before and still didn’t know much when I saw him on the dock. I am fully on board with the texting phenomenon that my generation is obsessed with, but finding out bad news in a two line text is pretty harsh. I had been sailing from St. Barths to Antigua and was arriving in Antigua pretty late. The bars were still open and a friend was arranging picking up the crew from our boat to go ashore when she told me as a BTW that “some shit went down in Boston during the race.” When I told the captain that something bad had happened and that I wanted to go ashore to find out more he sternly told us that we were not to get off of the boat that night for immigration reasons. (He hadn’t been to Antigua and didn’t understand that they are pretty lax with boats clearing in immediately.) I had quite a few friends participating in last year’s race and know a lot of people who were watching on the sidelines. One of my best friends lives in an apartment on the block where the bomb went off so I was extremely anxious to get some news. I texted Alex since phone calls from international phones roaming in another country aren’t cheap and it was the easiest way to know immediately that at least all of my friends were safe, if not shaken up. I am incredibly sorry for the damage and injury that was caused by the bomb thankful that it didn’t do more damage to more people’s lives but am still in shock that it happened in my back yard. And to runners. Who would want to hurt a runner? We inflict enough pain on ourselves! And it’s running! It must be the most benign sport to exist, even curling has more drama. There are no sides, no beliefs, nothing you can even be against. You can be against Nike’s use of child labor or TechWick Tees that don’t biodegrade, but you really can’t be against running.
As the story unfolded I was offshore again and only caught bits and pieces of the news. 24 hour news creates drama where there isn’t any, and in a case where there is plenty of drama, it adds smoky fuel to the fire. I was happy to get the news on my own terms, when we were close enough to a port to get internet signal, and happy to find out that they caught the men who did it, but I will never understand how a group of people running a marathon could be a target for any violent act. There is not a single Deity or religion that preaches violence and killing. Please don’t tell me you are acting in the name of your God, at least take responsibility for your own ignorance, hate and anger.
Though I have looked around and find that I am pretty spiritual, especially when sailing offshore, the closest I have come to a religion is running. It is something that is with me at all different points in my life. It is demanding and rewarding and it makes me live in a way that allows me to get up and go again tomorrow.
Here is my little running prayer for you;
May your feet always find new pavement and may your hamstrings never be tight.

These are pictures from when a group of us ran the BAA half on 10/10/10. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Baths

This morning I ran to The Baths National Park from the house. The one way run is just under 7 miles and goes along the main road in Virgin Gorda. The start is the same as all of the other runs here, up up up! This time on the down hill I let myself go a little faster but still held back a lot. I'm constantly worried that I will develop tendonitis again or another knee problem and running down these hills could be a sure fire way to blow a knee out. I got a later start than usual and it was pretty hot by the time I reached Spainish Town and the flat parts of the run. I ran through town and out to the parks. When I arrived at the Baths I immediately grabbed a Ting to quench the thirst I had worked up. It was a really good run and a little faster than the past few. Every little bit helps!

Here's a little Christmas present for everyone. I found a cute list of Rules of the Road for enjoying your runs. It's a good list for all runners, from new runners who are finding getting out the door difficult to experienced runners who forget to enjoy themselves in the midst of training hard.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Coming, Let's be Merry! Christmas Coming, Drink Guavaberry!

It's Christmas! A lot of people wonder how I spend major holidays away from my family. All of my jobs have been in providing holiday experiences for other people and people like to go on holiday during, well, the holidays! Though missing Christmas at home is incredibly hard, all of us who work in this industry have developed a pretty good coping mechanism. If you can't be with family the second best thing to do is be with a big group of people who also can't be with family. The third best thing to do is to work, that way you don't think about it so much. I have been incredibly lucky to spend the past Christmases with some really excellent friends whether I was working or not on the day doesn't end up mattering. 
Yesterday was Christmas Eve and in the Caribbean the big party is Christmas Eve night. I woke up and met a friend for a run up to Hog Heaven. It was really nice to have someone to run with, even though I was still aching from my long run the day before, and my knee was still pretty stiff from when I fell on it. We did about 4 miles round trip. The wind has died down almost completely so it was good we went early, the days are heating up a lot with no breeze. In the afternoon Ben and I joined in for the Beer Can Racing at BEYC. There were 8 Hobie Cats out racing around the cans, and grabbing beers from the committee between starts. The hardest part of the racing is grabbing an open beer from the RC without crashing your boat into them or getting completely stuck in irons! I sailed by myself on a Hobie Wave, which has just a main sail, and raced 4 other boats. It was great to be back on the Wave again. It's a silly resort version of a faster beach catamaran but it is a load of fun! My results were pretty good and I managed to drink one beer while driving and trimming the sail. On the final race to the beach a major weather front was about to roll through and it kicked up some pretty big gusts. I flew one hull for a few solid minutes on the final reach to the beach. If I can't go skiing I suppose sailing is a pretty good second! 
As the front passed through and pelted us with rain we hid out in the Pub just as everyone was starting to get excited about Christmas Eve. We had a few Christmas cheers and wondered if the weather would clear through in time to have the Christmas Boat Parade. Thankfully the weather cleared a little and Santa came down the dock to get on the boat, the Caribbean version of a sleigh! Through the ran we drove around the harbor, rocking Caribbean Christmas tunes and wishing everyone a merry Christmas. A few smaller boats joined in to the parade, decked out in all sorts of twinkle light arrangements. My favorite part of Christmas in the Caribbean is the selection of Christmas Carols. Being that all the traditional songs are about snow and pine trees, some people in the Caribbean have written songs about their own traditions. My favorite is How Will Santa Get Here.  The big question is without reindeer, snow or chimneys, everyone is wondering how Santa will deliver the gifts to the kids. All of the songs are set to a fast Soca beat or played with steel drums. If you get a chance to hear Little Drummer Boy played on steel drums, you'll know how fun it can be. 

At this point on Christmas Eve the libations are flowing and people are getting pretty cheery, even with the rain. I made it back from the parade in time to catch the ferry back to the main part of the island. I am staying with a couple of good friends and we had a couple more people over for pizza and wine while we waited for the real party to start up the hill. There is a neighborhood (or street corner really) half way up the big hill called The Bond, or just Up The Hill, where everyone congregates late on Christmas Eve. There are a few local bars all congregated in a 1/4 mile stretch that serve rum and beer and lots of fried or barbecued chicken. There is just nothing better when you've had a few drinks than Caribbean barbecued chicken and a johnny cake! We had a great time and stumbled down the hill and into our beds. Almost everyone who lives around here works at a resort or on charter yachts so everyone has to work Christmas Day. Most resort guests are pretty understanding if service is a little slow on Christmas. 
Take it from me, if you have to miss Christmas with your family spending it with a group of good friends and a little champagne and rum isn't so terrible. Spirit and traditions make Christmas what it is, not the snow or the trees, and we have a lot of both down here!
Happy Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 23, 2013

O Holy Hills

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

I didn't run yesterday but had a big kite session instead. I suppose kiting is pretty good cross training, my legs and core get a pretty good work out anyways. I was on the water for 2 hours or so and went for a bit of an exploratory kite further upwind than we usually bother going. There is a break in the reef about a mile up and you can get some big waves by heading up there. It was fun to play in the deep water and even more fun to have a killer downwind run to the beach afterwards.
This morning I got back to it. I set out of the house intending to do a 6 mile loop that involves some pretty serious hills. I included the elevation map with my MapMyRun though my legs seem to disagree with what it says. This run starts by going up and then up some more then dooooown (like with a Cher accent). Usually hill runs end up with a pretty good overall average pace because I get going pretty fast on the down hills. Not in this run. The hills here are so steep it is hard and scary to run down them quickly. It has also been raining a lot and if the roads stay wet they get covered in a slick algae that got me on my first step out of the driveway. Yup, clicked the watch on, stepped forward and Bang! I'm on the ground. This is not a good way to start a run, but I got up and continued up the hill.
After the big dooooown hill to the beach the run turns onto the new road that turns the run into a loop. This is very exciting because the road didn't exist when I lived here and it is always nicer to run a loop than out and back. The road goes up and down a lot within the Mango Bay and Nail Bay resorts. I was looking for the newest road that takes you up over the mountain instead of running all the way through Nail Bay and ended up taking a few extra hills in my search for the shortcut! I never found the road that I could see on my satellite map and I think it is actually just a powerline road.
My 6 mile run turned into a 9.5 mile run/walk/hike. It is nice to get some distance in, even unintentionally, and my watch did a song and dance when I finished with my biggest distance yet. (That is actually not true, but I had to replace my Nike+ earlier this year and quite a few of my longer runs never got stored).
My legs are tired and my knee is stiff from falling on it, but it was a nice day for a run. The wind is keeping the temperature down so it wasn't too hot even on the big hills. When I finally reached the last ascent I got buffeted with 25knots in the face. The Christmas Winds are definitely here!
Tune in tomorrow for how we do Christmas with no snow.

                    Create Maps or search from 80 million at MapMyRun

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fear and Failure

Wednesday afternoon I finally got back in the water with my kite gear. It has been a long time since I have had the opportunity to go kiting. Being in the North Sound is kind of like kiting heaven. You can walk or dinghy to the kite beach, the breeze is side on, and there is a big reef to windward that keeps the chop down. Though the kiting is great in Antigua and other islands it can be a mission to get to the launch spots so the ease of getting there and rigging up makes BEYC an awesome spot to kite from. Kiting is still a new sport for me and every time I launch my heart beats a little faster. There is a lot of power behind the kite and bad things can happen if you're not careful. Kitemares, as they're called, can happen to everyone, even seasoned kiters. Getting caught in a squall, losing the wind and not having enough power to get back upwind, breaking a line or ripping a kite can all be really scary. I have been lucky, and cautious, and haven't ended up in any serious situations.
 I was out on the water by 1pm and had a great session whipping back and forth, reaching on the breeze. Though all my muscles were screaming, being kite fit takes some time on the water, I kept going for the illusive one more run. I got a little greedy and stayed out a little too long. There is a lull in the wind as the water and land heat up and it drops in pressure around 2:30 or 3 everyday for about an hour. Alas on my last run I didn't make it back to the beach and ended up too far downwind, without enough power to get back up to the beach. I tried and tried to tack my way back upwind but ended up further down wind on the beach on Prickly Pear Island. Slipping below the line of the beach instantly instills fear into my gut. Not making it back to the beach is a big fat failure to me, even though it happens to everyone once in a while. I don't know where it comes from but failing at things really bugs me. Eventually a dinghy came by and offered to give me a ride back to the beach. Though it really hurts my pride to get rescued by a dinghy, it's nice to know that people are generally willing to help someone out.
When I woke up yesterday morning it seemed like my whole body ached. I decided not to run and to go kiting again in the afternoon. My kite has 4 lateral inflatable struts that help it hold it shape when it is flying. While flying it on Wednesday I realized one of my struts had deflated. Thankfully, my kite is pretty small and having that one strut out didn't effect it too much. I tried to re-glue the inflate valve that had come off with some PVC glue that has had good results on a lot of the kites here. Unfortunately, my kite is also pretty old and they were using a different polymer to make the tubes in '09, one that doesn't stand up to PVC glue and cleaner. The glue ate through the plastic and made the problem worse. I was bummed out for a while until Ben pointed out that the kite had flown fine the day before with the strut totally deflated, and that I should give it another go. I pumped up my kite and rigged up my lines and headed back out. I had a great day on the water. Though I came in after less than an hour, being tired, I decided after a little break that I wanted to fly some more. I have been trying to learn how to jump with my kite. If you have seen any photos of videos of professional kiters you will see them jump and do tricks in the air. Having the kite in the air allows you to jump really high and, if you know how to use the kite, allows you to land pretty softly. I am not at big airs stage. I am still learning how to use the kite to lift me off the water and get pretty excited when I feel my board lift just inches above the water. Though I know how to move the kite, and how to jump and land on a board I find the primary factor that keeps me from flying through the air is fear. Fear of losing control of my landing, or the kite dragging me into something downwind leaves me timidly moving my kite into the power position and just kissing the tops of the waves. I rode for awhile longer and came in when the final big blast of breeze was filling in at the end of the day. All around I had a good feeling about being on the water and having the skills and knowledge to control my kite. The thing that was lacking was the fearlessness that we all grow out of all too quickly. If we weren't scared of failing, what kinds of things would we be able to do?
I was offered a potential job this week moving a boat further then I have every sailed in one go. It would also be a boat that I would be skippering. Though I've sailed more miles this year than some yachties do in their careers, I realized that these two factors still make me very nervous. Surely it would just be another delivery, but with me in charge? What about squalls? What about things breaking? I know what to do in most situations, and can figure my way through the rest, but the big F factor still stands. Fear and Failure or Fear of Failure? That is a lot of F's.
All of this was in my mind this morning as I woke up early to run to Oil Nut Bay. My legs felt stiff from kiting and my body felt tired again. Though it has been almost 2 weeks since arriving in St. Lucia, I'm still struggling with any kind of speed of fluidity. I know that feeling of running free and loose is just a few runs away, but right now I am standing at the bottom of a really steep hill wondering if I can get up it. Is this 30 mile thing a crazy-doomed-for-failure-attempt-at-a-good-blog-title? At dinner last night my friend pointed out that 30 miles is an awful lot and that I should probably "go european" on the whole thing and try for 30 km instead. I laughed last night but had a serious thought about it this morning as my pace showed 9:40. There are a couple big hills on the run to ONB that the big construction trucks have trouble getting up and I ended up walking up some of the second one.
My pace picked up after I turned around to head back to the beach. I know stamina and speed will come back, it's just not there yet.
So tomorrow I'll run again, and if the squalls clear up today I'll go back out with my kite and try to jump a little higher. And if this delivery offer goes through I'll step up into those Dubarry boots. All the time hoping I don't have to share a big fat failure with you all. But I will. My friend Meredith once commented that you can't have really great, high on life moments, if you don't also feel the low ones. The feeling of being invincible isn't as strong if you don't also know how failure feels.
Go do something today that scares you.

This is my friend Eric. Not me. 

                    Create Maps or search from 80 million at MapMyRun

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Back at the BEYC

Sailing got in the way of running this weekend. I ran to Shirley Heights on Sunday morning. Ben and I were getting Dorade ready to sail to Virgin Gorda with a plan to leave around midday and sail overnight. As boating often goes, we had a bit more to do than we thought and ended up leaving the dock around 4pm. The sail to Virgin Gorda is approximately 170 nm from English Harbor, and we estimated 24 hours to arrive at The Bitter End. It is a reef protected harbor and we wanted to ensure we arrived in well before dark the next day. The wind had been up for over a week and had kicked up a big swell with a pretty big period. Our rhumb line course had us at 130 degrees off the wind, which is actually ideal for Dorade in big wave surfing conditions. We had a great sail overnight, the moon was almost full and we had plenty of light to see by. It was just Ben and I on board so we took turns at the tiller, driving for as long as we could before we started nodding off or getting tired. The helm on Dorade is a very heavy tiller, and you feel it in your arms and back pretty quickly. With big waves behind us it was important to keep an eye on the wind angle and not get stuck in a wave, ending up too close to a jibe. It was a beautiful night and we had a fast sail past the lights of St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Barths and St. Maarten. The sun came up on the last leg between St. Maarten and Virgin Gorda. With a few big squalls and a few jibes we made it into the North Sound exactly 24 hours later, and tied up at the BEYC dock.
I love coming back to the Bitter End. It is a resort in the BVI that I worked at after college. Many of the same people are still working here and it always feels a little like coming home. I was also very excited for the opportunity to show off a place that I love to Ben. He and I haven’t spent any time together in the BVI and we have a couple days before his boss arrives to get the boat ready. People often wonder how we could live on such a small island without getting bored, but somehow there is always plenty to do, I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to blog!
After we got tied up and washed down we headed to the Pub for a drink and to see who we would see. My week was made when I ran into Jerome and he mentioned that the next night was Full Moon Sail!! Full Moon Sailing is my all time favorite tradition. I might like it even more than Christmas! Every month the staff at the Bitter End get together and take out the Hobie Cats for a sail under the moon light. In the past we sailed up wind inside the reef to Oil Nut Bay and had a bonfire on the beach there. With new developments and construction Oil Nut Bay is off limits to us now. Thankfully Jerome had asked for permission to land on Sandy Spit, a little spit of sand on the edge of Necker Reef.
We didn’t last very long Monday night, even with Mashup happening at the pub. With a full work day ahead of us and a long night sail behind us, we made our way back to the boat to pass out. I slept in on Tuesday and we got into getting the boat ready for guests.
Last night we met at the watersports center to have our skippers briefing about where we were sailing to and how to get through the reef. We managed to get all 10 Hobies full and out sailing! The weather cleared up after being squally all day and we set off from the beach with a big beautiful moon and clear skies. It was blowing 20 knots and we had an awesome sail upwind and reaching through the reef! After the cut in the reef it was down wind and surfing to get below the reef on Sandy Spit. There isn’t a great way to describe full moon sailing in any way that does it justice. A big bright moon and lots of wind, sailing through big waves, it’s just an amazing feeling. I’ll include a few pictures that also don’t do it justice.
I got up this morning and ran before the yoga that is put on by the resort. There is a new road for the construction at Oil Nut Bay, which is a really nice place to run mostly because it is not straight up hill. These islands are steeper than Antigua because they are a lot smaller, and there are not a whole lot of options for running. Especially at the BEYC, which isn’t actually connected to any roads! Rob was nice enough to hold onto my running watch after I left it on Tenacity, and he returned it yesterday. I guess it’s time to start focusing on speed and goal setting. Right now it seems like a pretty daunting task, but I’m looking forward to getting my pace back down around 8 and really pushing myself again. But that will all start tomorrow, today we are going Kiting!!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Adventure day

A Saturday morning run probably means different things to me than most runners. Since my job is at the whim of the millionaires I work for, weekends and holidays don't mean a whole lot. Unless you actually end up with the day off, then they mean everything!
This morning I woke up late and had a slow motion move out the door. Waiting too long to run in the Caribbean is asking for trouble, but it is nice to have a slow morning sometimes. I left the house around 9:30 for my 6 mile run to St. James Place. It is a nice run with a gradual incline that is 3 out and 3 back without a whole lot of drama. There are a couple hills but nothing to make you go breathless. I have to admit that from the get go I was feeling sluggish, slow and unmotivated. I was rocking out to my old college music but it wasn't helping all that much. I didn't seriously think about cutting it short until I got to mile 2. I paused at the top of the biggest hill, had a stretch and decided to continue down to the resort. The problem with pausing on top of the hill is that you then have to run down the other side and back up. I figured with my slow pace and lackluster start, it couldn't hurt to put a few more hills in. I ran down and back and finished at home feeling pretty underwhelmed. I showered and headed to the harbor to give Ben a hand on his boat, we are supposed to be leaving to sail to the BVI tomorrow and I had a few things to tie up. After I finished with my job list on the boat, I realized Ben had quite a bit more work to do and I was just being a distraction. A few friends had mentioned having a beach BBQ at Rendezvous Beach,  at a beach you can only get to by dinghy or 4X4. It's pretty breezy right now in Antigua and the dinghy option wasn't a great one, getting back from the beach, upwind, at the end of the day, can be uncomfortable, wet and dangerous. We don't have a car here unless we borrow one, and most people don't want to lend you their car to go to Rendezvous because the road is so bad. All in all I decided I would run to the beach and join the beach party, sure to be able to thumb a ride back by water or road. I packed my Adventure Bag (a small backpack with good straps that I bought in Mallorca in order to go mountain biking and good for general adventuring use) with my waterbottle, a bikini, towel and change of clothes. I headed out for the 4 mile trip, knowing it was a pretty short distance but that it went up a few very big hills in order to get over the pass and head back down to the beach. It was also 1:30 in the afternoon, so it was hot.
I arrived at the beach party and  had  a great afternoon swimming and hanging out on the beach. Everyone is getting ready to leave for their Christmas charters or boss trips, so it's a last chance to have a solid weekend off.
As the sun started setting a couple of our friends, who have a 4 month old baby girl, said they were leaving and had space if I wanted a ride back. We left before most people, it was the baby's bed time I think. As we drove slowly up the very rutted track we hit a bump particularly hard. Thinking nothing of it we continued up the next hill. The car slowed down and we cursed automatics as we dropped it down into 1st gear to try to get it up the hill. As we gave it lower gears and more gas we realized the transmission wasn't responding appropriately. A quick look outside the car confirmed our suspicion that we had, in fact, punctured the gear box and all our transmission fluid had drained out. That car was not going to get us up and over the hill, or anywhere at all.
Deserted beaches are fantastic places for beach BBQs, hikes, and boozy afternoons. They are not great for cell service. Leaving my two friends and the baby behind to wait for the other people who would be leaving the beach as soon as the sun set, I hiked up the hill until I was able to make a cell call. I'm pretty lucky that my roommate is a taxi driver from Antigua, and knows his way around better than anyone. He immediately left the house to find us, and take us back to the harbor. By the time I ran back down the hill, a few cars had passed my friends and offered to take mom and baby up the hill. Dad was to stay behind and attach the broken car to the back of a war era Land Rover that happened to have a hitching strop and a driver that was willing to attempt a tow.
All in all everyone was safe and happy, although I haven't heard the outcome of returning the borrowed car, that had earlier this week been rear ended by a bus heading to town. Sometimes island life can be a pain in the butt.
As for me, after a subpar run this morning, I'm happy I went out again. I didn't do any kind of amazing pace or time, but it felt really good to finish a hard, hot run with a swim in the sea and a cold beer. I know most of you can't appreciate this, since, according to Facebook, it is snowing quite a bit at home but finishing a run in the sea is free therapy that cannot be under stated!

Me at Rendezvous Beach

Rendezvous Beach

Rum in the coconut.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Foto Friday

Happy Friday, everyone. 
I ran my 3 Peaks trail run today. I named this run after the 3 Peaks challenge in Wales, where you run over 3 mountains and sail in between them. I've never participated in the challenge but it sounds pretty cool. My run in English Harbor is a lot shorter than theirs, and actually includes 5 hills, but I like the name. The run takes me up over Crack Alley, through Falmouth Harbor, up the hill behind Abra's, up and down the Goat Trail path to Pigeon Beach, up the new road at Windward Beach, back to the harbor and finally over the North Sails Hill. I'm sure all of these roads have actual names, but no one knows them. A few years ago there was a crime committed on Crack Alley (other than the selling of crack) and in the official investigation interviews with police they referenced it as Crack Alley, none of the officers knew the real street name. It is actually a very pretty road with a big church, a few local BBQs and some guys who jam on electric guitars at night. 
It was a really good run, right at sunset so it was nice and cool. The sky was on fire with pink clouds. I finally felt like I had some speed in my legs and felt strong on the hills. Hills are definitely the best way to get back into shape after a long time at sea. 

I'm going to keep it pretty short today and give you a little glimpse of where I live in Antigua.
This is the view from the top of the goat trail (peak 3 of 5)

 A mango stand on Fig Tree Drive

 Maracas the locals make and paint and sell to tourists

Boys playing soccer at Pigeon Beach

 A sign at the Life Bar. In honor of Friday night

Sunset at Falmouth Harbor

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ain't nothin' gonna break my stride I'm running and I won't touch ground Oh-no, I got to keep on movin'

This morning I headed out of the house with my iPod shuffle. Though I don't always run with music, it definitely helps get me down the road sometimes. When we were running in middle school I had a yellow waterproof Walkman, remember those? In high school my mom bought me a Diskman and a neoprene belt that you could wear around your waist so it wouldn't bounce and skip or scratch the disk. The invention of the iPod made it a lot less awkward to run with music, and the introduction of the white ear buds made it easier for everyone to know how cool I was to be running with an iPod. Recently, my father managed to get all the music off of my first iPod before it died completely. Listening to albums and artists that I haven't thought about in years is great and I'm going to spend a serious amount of time making up some new play lists. I was a lot cooler in college than I am now, or at least a lot more hip to what music was around. Though I used to pride myself on my ability to make a solid mix, now, more often than not, I put my iPod on shuffle or download a pre made mix. Rock My Run is a great website with all kinds of mixes. Today I ran to a mix they released to support Breast Cancer Awareness. It is a 45 minute mix of classic motivational songs like Eye of the Tiger, I Won't Back Down, Survivor and Break My Stride. All the songs are on the slow side but this week I am focusing on getting miles on my feet, no thoughts to pace or speed.
I did my Turtle Bay Run today and can't seem to get the map to show up here. (Does anyone know a good gadget to add so I can show you the maps of where I run?)
The run to Turtle Bay is a flat run, and those can be hard to find on volcanic islands. There is one big hill (or two if you run down the back side and back up) at the turn around with a view of the harbor. My favorite part of the run is the middle section. I turn off the main road that leaves the harbor and head onto the quiet road that leads to Turtle Bay. There are hardly any cars on this road, more commonly I see people riding donkeys or horses. Most days I don't see anyone at all, though, and it is really peaceful.

Running to a mix dedicated to those who have dealt with Breast Cancer got me thinking about charity runs. Last night at Scully's I ran into a couple of friends and while were were sipping our expresso martinis another friend mentioned that IYC is setting up a crew marathon in St. Maarten in January. I have never participated in a fundraising run. Many of the races I enter donate a portion to a charity but don't have a fundraising stipulation for running the race. I know many of you have teamed up with Team in Training or even started your own groups like Epic Man. How has it affected your running? After reading my posts yesterday, Seth reminded me that the annual Epic Man is in April in conjunction with the Boston Marathon, and with all that training I'm going to be doing, I should finally join the team. Though I can't make it up to Boston that week, it always falls in the middle of the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, I will try to brainstorm 3 epic activities that I can do here in Antigua that day. Perhaps it should involve a paddleboard....
With a crew marathon in January, 8 Tuff miles in February and an Antigua Epic in April the Caribbean is finally beefing up it's race calendar. I never know my work schedule ahead of time but I like to keep events on my calendar so when some free time comes up I can jump into a race. As for now I'm going to go jump into the sea, did I mention that it is hot here?!
Have a good run

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Here Goes

I have set out to accomplish a goal of running 30 miles on my 30th birthday in May. I am going to use this blog as a way of keeping myself motivated and sharing some stories, music, training plans and pictures on the way. The only way to start training for any significant distance is to run a couple of steps, in blogging you have to start with the first post so here it goes.

I have been sailing a lot this year. By some rough calculations and sailors math, I am pretty close to having sailed over 20,000 nm since January 2013. That's a lot, even in yachting world. Sailing that man miles is good for a variety of things.
-Reading all those books you never quite finished.
-Watching that TV series that everyone was obsessed with, even if it's already off the air.
-Thinking up incredibly complex plans to change your life or save the world, only to forget them by the time your watch is over at 3am.
Unfortunately, sailing around on boats from 50' to 120' is not particularly good for any kind of cardiovascular exercise. You can do sit ups and push ups until your abs are so sore you can't laugh without being in pain and your arms fall off, but the minute you step onto terra firma you are reminded that you haven't walked more than 25 feet over the last 2 weeks.
My most recent trip was on a catamaran that was crossing from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, (off the coast of Africa) to St. Lucia in the Caribbean. The trip took a full 14 days. Though I had been running pretty hard right before we left, when I woke up in St. Lucia and headed out at sunup my legs were screaming at me. Every step felt like running through cement. As I mentioned earlier, making big plans and setting lofty goals can be an occupational hazard when you are drifting through a very dark night, on watch by yourself. So I ran for about an hour, secretly happy that I had left my running watch on another boat and won't be getting it back until next week. No one wants to see their first-day-back pace. Getting the legs moving and rebuilding those muscles are the only goals for the first week back. Speed, endurance, distance, runner's high.... those are all very far from your mind on day 1.
I ran for about an hour, stopping to stretch here and there. I had left the marina and turned right to run into the small island town of Rodney Bay. I ran out and back and stopped to stretch at the marina gate. The security guard recognized me and asked how far I had gone. Not having a watch or gps I had no idea and didn't really want to think about it. I asked him what time it was and did some math. Hoping I was running under a 10 minute pace (I had been running 8s when I left Spain), I estimated I had gone for 4 miles. Chatting and joking with the guards gave me a boost of energy and, since it was still very early, I decided to go a bit more, this time turning left out of the gate. I'm glad I went for the second session and ended back at the marina tired and sore but feeling pretty happy. I flew out of St. Lucia later that night to join Ben in Antigua and settle into our apartment for the winter. I got in late and woke up early (getting off of your watch schedule is also a pain for the first few days on land) but didn't end up running yesterday. This morning I managed to sleep for a pretty normal amount of time and headed out the door as Ben went to work. There is a big hill called Shirley Heights at the end of the road we live on. It is a historical site with a few crumbling buildings from Nelson's British Navy along the way. Up and back ends up being 5 miles with a big elevation gain in the middle. The top flattens out a bit and rolls a little higher to the main lookout over the harbor. No matter how hard a run it is to the top, the view is always worth it, and there is usually some breeze coming up the hill ( it's Hot in Antigua, so any breeze helps!).

 Again I was running without a watch and glad to be doing it, but I think it was a good, albeit slow, effort. I was also breaking in my new shoes. I have been running in Merrel minimal trail shoes for about 6 months and really enjoying the freedom. I bought a pair of Asics that are pretty light weight but have a trail running sole and a lot more cushion than the Merrels. I will still use my Merrels to do short, fast runs and speed training, but my knee is a constant worry for me, so I feel pretty good about having a little more support.
Ok, first blog and second run done! I'm very excited about this winter! Here goes!!