What a whirlwind of a weekend!
For my first race of the year, I had the great blessing of flying out to beautiful Bermuda to run the KPMG Bermuda Front Street Road Mile. As with any first race of the year, I had some trepidation about where my fitness level was at, and how I would feel in this 'rust-buster' race.
The one thing that bolstered my confidence, however, was that I got to start out on the roads, where I experienced so much positive momentum as I closed out the 2012 racing season. Adding to the fun was the fact that I got to fly away from chilly MN (*where the current temperature 'feels like -31 degrees...gross*) to a warmer, tropical, beautiful climate, AND the race took place in the eve of my 26th birthday!
First, just because I felt like I knew NOTHING about Bermuda before I came, I thought it would be cool to share some fun facts I learned about the island while I was there:
The entire island has a surface area of 20.6 miles, population of about 64,000 REALLY FRIENDLY and awesome people.
Our taxi driver informed us that pretty much everyone knows everyone, which we noted as we were driving from the airport to our hotel, it seemed every other car and moped that rode by would send a friendly honk in our direction! (Most people own mopeds, rather than cars!)
Currency= The Bermudian Dollar, which conveniently translates to 1 US dollar, so we didn't have to exchange money, and you could pay with either form of money anywhere. One thing to note if you decide to head out there, however, is things don't come cheap! I was amazed at how expensive things were, for example, I saw a normal sized container of blueberries at the grocery store (something I usually get for $2-$2.50) priced at 9 dollars!!
Homes in Bermuda are impressive for many reasons...they have really strict building codes to make sure they will hold up against hurricanes. We saw one in the process of being built- essentially they're concrete and limestone. After work is complete, they paint all the building various shades of vibrant colors that make the landscape incredibly cool! And, if you decide you would like to own one of these homes, good luck, they'll run you at least a million dollars, no joke.
Back to the race a little more, the mile was just the first of three races taking place on the island for runners of all ages and experience levels throughout the Bermuda Race Weekend. Following the mile on Friday night, they had a 10k on Saturday morning, and either a half or full marathon option on Sunday morning. I was impressed to learn that many runners come out to do the full "Bermuda Triangle" (meaning they run all three races!). This year was the 25th year of this tradition!
As is common practice for a lot of road miles, the elite women's and men's fields took place after an evening of earlier community events. They started with the "Triangle" wave (meaning those who were competing in all three events), then boys and girls Primary School aged, boys and girls Middle School aged, boys and girls High School, men and women local, and then it was us! What was less common about this race was the course: we basically started in one direction for 200m, took a quick 180 degree turn around what everyone was referring to as a 'birdcage' (see below), then we passed through the start line, ran out about 600m more, and turned around again to finish almost exactly where we started. This course worked out well to keep fans engaged in the action, but it did make for a more tactical race! Haha, I remember emailing my coach about how I thought I should tackle this race, and he wrote back in agreement, "Yes, run all the non-birdcage parts of the race fast....wow, those are words I never thought I'd use in coaching..." :)
So when it came time to race, we got out pretty conservatively as I anticipated, we took our loop around the bird cage and started our way towards the other turnaround point. Through the half mile, I think I saw 2:27 or so on the clock, which is pretty slow for an elite field, thus we were all pretty bunched still at this point. I decided that I would be leaving a little bit too much up to pure luck and a strong kick, so after the halfway point, I moved to the front with Sarah Brown, and she and I started pulling the race along a little faster.
With about 300m to go, I felt that itch that it was time to take off, I put in a surge that Sarah covered very well, and even shot ahead of me by a few steps. For a fleeting moment I thought to myself, 'oh no, is my road mile reign over?' Quickly, I changed my mental talk to: 'The race isn't over until it's over', and made an effort to stay as close to her as possible. With maybe 100m to go, I started to feel myself gaining on her, and then passed her just before crossing the tape for the win!
Almost immediately after the race, we got to jump up on the awards stand to be recognized by the energetic Bermudian crowd. It was such a fun atmosphere, and the two girls I'm standing next to are not only pretty awesome runners, but really awesome people too!
After the race, I got selected for drug testing, so I spent the rest of the night sipping on water and hoping to pee 90ml quickly so I didn't have to ring in my birthday with the anti-doping people (who were actually super nice and cool too!). It took about two hours, and unfortunately I didn't quite succeed on my mission, I left the drug testing building at 12:06am on January the 19th.
At a much more decent hour that morning, Phoebe Wright (who placed third in our race) and I walked out the hotel door to do our long run. We passed by Stan, the doorman of our hotel, who asked how the race went the day before. Phoebe quickly told him we both had podium finishes, and that I had won. "And, it's her birthday!", she added. Stan immediately broke into song, singing me happy birthday, only pausing to allow Phoebe to insert my name. It was so funny and nice to be sung to by a perfect stranger. AND THEN, when we arrived back from the run, he was waiting for me with a hand-drawn hilarious "birthday card", a copy of the local newspaper from my win the night before, and two magnets he picked up for me at the gift shop! What a guy!
The Bermuda Royal Gazette Article on my race:
I spent the rest of my birthday with a few of the other athletes, got some great breakfast at a french restaurant, walked around the city, I read a book by the water until I got too cold (sadly, it wasn't the warmest of days), and then we went to dinner at the home of one of the athletes' friends who now lives and works in Bermuda. They even made me brownies and home-made ice cream for a birthday dessert, and we lit a match as a candle that I blew out having no idea what else to wish for!
Come Sunday, it was time to go home. I flew from Bermuda to Atlanta, then Atlanta back to Minneapolis. I sort of had this inkling that maybe Ben would have a birthday surprise for me when I returned home, but when I called to get him to come pick me up, it sounded like maybe I was overestimating his thoughtfulness. We drove home, and as I was walking in the door, the lights in the house flash on, and like 15 of some of my best friends were at the house for a SURPRISE 26th BIRTHDAY PARTY! I was totally shocked! Apparently our roommate Brittany and Ben came up with the idea this past Wednesday, and put everything together quite quickly/quietly. SO IMPRESSED, and SO THANKFUL. It's incredible how loved I felt when I walked into our house.
God is good, and life doesn't get much better than this, my friends. Here's to hoping the blessings abound for you today, and every day!
Race Video Coverage: