Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bermuda Marathon Weekend: Arrival - Welcome Back!

We arrived at Logan Airport early and were whisked through security because Delta had selected us for a TSA pre check. When we didn't have to take off our shoes or take out the laptop or iPad and avoided the long lines at security we asked TSA what happened. They explained to us that we were randomly selected by Delta. And so the adventure began....

Traveling in winter in Boston can be rather dicey as we learned on our return flight but at the gate we saw that our flight was on time.

Geoffrey Smith, Boston Marathon Champion and the record holder for the Bermuda 10K arrived shortly followed by Shawn Whalen and Mona Bisson, close friends of Geoff. Whenever runners get together it's like the instant oatmeal of friendship - two minutes is all it takes!

So some of you may be wondering - what's the big deal about all of this. What makes this blog newsworthy?

Eight years ago when I boarded a plane for Bermuda I had priority boarding; I was wheeled onto the plane in a wheelchair.

We arrived at our seats and Tom and I were deciding whether or not I should have the window seat since I might have to get up and go the ladies room. The gentleman on the aisle said, "And I'll let you get up and go."

"Are you running?" we asked.

"No I am the race concierge," he said.

"My wife back there - she is running."

She smiled and said hello.

I decided to go the ladies room before we took off and I had a moment where I cried tears of gratitude and joy overwhelmed by my journey of the past 8 years and the past 6 months that led me right to that moment in the bathroom on Delta FL 561 heading to Bermuda for Bermuda Marathon Weekend.

It was a smooth and fast flight; 1 hour and 40 minutes from take off to wheels down.

As we began our decent over Bermuda I got very emotional struck by the beauty and knowing how far I had traveled from when I last landed in Bermuda.

And then I saw the stairs:

The stairs that 8 years ago I could barely descend and at the bottom of the stairs they had a wheelchair waiting for me.

I bounded joyfully down the stairs breathing in the sweet sensuous scent that is uniquely Bermuda.

I took in every detail and savored every moment of going through Customs, retrieving our bag and heading out to meet Clarence "Stoker" Smith who enticed us, along with Anthony Raynor, Race Director, on 7/3 to come run the Bermuda Half Marathon.

Clarence warmly embraced us and we organized who was going where and with whom and off we went to the Rosedon.

God bless Clarence. He drove along the Marathon course letting us know about turns and reminding us that the water is always on your right. He was incredibly loving and reassuring about how well organized the race was. As he dropped us off he said, "You are invited to the reception for the sponsors at Bacardi Headquarters. Be my guest. The elite athletes will be there and you'll be served appetizers and there is an open bar. "How should we dress?" We asked knowing that there is a dress code in Bermuda. "Don't worry about it. You're dressed," he told us.

We arrived at the Rosedon and my breath caught. It looked exactly as it had when we visited 8 years ago. A card from Muriel Richardson, the General Manager and award winning hotelier saying Welcome Back and a bottle of champagne with two servings of chocolate chip cookies were the first thing we saw when we opened the door to our room:

After unpacking and getting our bearings getting reacquainted with our home away from home, we went up for tea time.

"Oh my goodness...looks who's here?" Muriel Richardson announced greeting us in Bermudian style on the Rosedon porch.

"How are you? You look amazing."

We got caught up on what was happening in our lives and she was absolutely stunned that I was going to run the Bermuda Half Marathon.

"I will try to get out there to cheer you on to the finish," she said....just as we had imagined so many times on our long runs.

I was mindful of fueling but also not eating any of the fabulous sweet treats until after I crossed that finish line. It's always tricky to figure out timing of meals on a travel day and this was the first time that I was fueling for a half marathon in Bermuda! We decided to go with tea sandwiches and forego appetizers at the reception and enjoy our dinner at the Pickled Onion.

We put our feet up by the pool and meditated:

and then off to the reception at Bacardi Headquarters.

What you need to realize is that the last time I was in Bermuda I was wearing a leg brace and could barely negotiate the stairs up and down to the main house. We were on the 2nd floor and I had to conserve energy and plan my trips to the pool. I'd been up since 4:30am and still going strong! What a journey!!!

After hearing welcoming remarks, mingling with the elite athletes, finding Geoff, Shawn and Mona and having a photo op for Bermudiana magazine, we walked down to The Pickled Onion overlooking Front Street having arrived in time to watch a beautiful sunset:

I was sporting my Boston Marathon jacket and Altra running shoes. Quite a contrast from 8 years ago.

We were warmly welcomed by the manager Stephanie and the service and food were impeccable. Tom ordered the Bermuda Seafood Chowder. I knew it would be too spicy and too filling for me as an appetizer but I did use the warm rolls to dip and savor the chowder. I opted for a Caesar salad for an appetizer. My body felt well fed on the salmon, brown rice and string beans:

We fell asleep to the sound of tree frogs and a gentle tropical breeze.

When I woke up I realized that we needed to cancel our dinner reservations at the other restaurants and make reservations at the Pickled Onion. This body needed the salmon, brown rice and string beans to go the distance!

To be continued...

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