Monday, January 18, 2016

Bermuda Marathon Weekend: Race Report

I decided to not blog while I was in Bermuda to savor every moment and to be present and to have time to sift and sort through the epic adventure Team McManus experienced this weekend.

I'm sure everyone is excited and eager to hear our race report so I'll start at the end and then share other incredibly magical experiences from the weekend. My friend Kathleen on Facebook suggested that I go back to the low point I experienced one year ago for those who may have forgotten or those who may not have been reading my blog at that time.

In December I experienced a knee injury. MRI showed degeneration of the knee joint, torn cartilage, bone spurs, a fatty lipoma, an atrophied gastroc muscle and changes due to a history of 5 previous knee surgeries including reconstructive leg surgery.

I went the traditional medical model route initially and then fired everybody. I was led to a healer chiropractor, Ryan J. Means.

Team McManus' first race was the Finish at the 50 5K. It was a real confidence builder and it was at that race that we met Anthony Raynor, Race Director and Clarence "Stoker" Smith aka Smitty or just Smith, assistant race director. The Bermuda Marathon Weekend was on my bucket list for about 3 years and then it wasn't anymore. On 7/3 it was put back on my bucket list! Air and hotel arrangements quickly fell into place.

We woke up at 5:45am on race day. The Rosedon Hotel, our home away from home, had a continental breakfast starting at 6:30. They usually don't serve breakfast until 7:00 but as happened throughout the weekend, everything we needed was set before us.

There was wonderful energy in the main house as runners were getting ready to walk down to the starting line. This was our first international race and our first destination race yet one that we had imagined over and over and over again while we trained.

We saw the sunrise over Hamilton Harbor

and felt the excitement of race day!

The Town Crier (pictured above after we received our medals) made a proclamation for the race to begin blessing the runners and saying God Save the Queen and gave us high fives as we took off.

We had our race plan and went out nice and easy. We met a Bermudian and a New Yorker and two women who were doing the Bermuda Triangle Challenge at the back of the pack. Before we knew it we were at mile 1. We paused to take a sip of water staying true to our training plan and then easily tackled the first hill. I was enjoying the company of the women in the back of the pack but I needed to run my own race so Tom and I picked up the pace for our race pace.

Now you have to understand that running the Bermuda Half Marathon is unlike any other race you will ever experience. At water stops volunteers tell you to enjoy the views. The portapotties are pink and green with little white roofs. It's one big party from start to finish where Bermudians line the streets, play music and celebrate their beautiful Island.

At first I wanted to finish at 3:30 but I let that go as we stopped to take photos and videos and chat with the locals. Enjoying every footstep and the beautiful vistas quickly became my number one goal while being fully present in my mind, body and soul.

We had our names on our bibs so everyone cheers you along and everyone wishes you an enjoyable race.

Each view seemed to be more spectacular than the one before. Whenever I'd been to Bermuda before I was always in a car, a bus or a ferry. To experience the Island on foot is an unparalleled experience. Here is a sampling of what we saw along the way including the locals who were out there cheering us on having water and orange slices:

The miles seemed to fly by. It was a glorious sunny day and there was shade and cooling breezes when we needed it. We could not have asked for more perfect weather especially given the monsoon like conditions the day before.

We paced ourselves and commented how along one stretch of the course it was just as we imagined it when we trained last summer near U Mass Boston. Of course it was even more magnificent and breathtaking than we could have imagined.

I remember when I cheered on runners at the Cape Cod Marathon at mile 10, the excitement I would feel when I hit mile 10 in Bermuda.

Tom had to hold me back a little to leave plenty in the tank for the finish but told me once we got to mile 11 I could begin to open it up.

The scene unfolded just as we imagined it coming down the hill toward Front Street passing in front of the Rosedon.

I cried and I poured it on despite having just run 12 miles.

Mile 13 -- only .1 to go

We poured it on and came running down to the finish holding hands with hands held high.

Through every training run we imagined hearing the announcer say, "And here they come to the finish. Tom and Mary McManus from Boston Massachusetts. Welcome back to Bermuda!" In fact the announcer said, "And here comes Tom and Mary McManus of Chestnut Hill Massachusetts. Welcome to Bermuda." He said something about our running together and people came up to us saying what a cute couple we were.

It was exactly as we imagined it and more. We trained hard and we trained well so that we were able to sail through those miles pacing ourselves, eating up the hills and being mindful of the down hills.

We claimed what we went to Bermuda for - to send a message of healing, hope and possibility; that the body achieves what the mind believes and of course for the beautiful bling!

I feel triumphant that I did not allow others to dictate what was possible for me. I set goals not limits. And what a thrill to cross the finish line of the 2016 Bermuda Half Marathon. It's been an amazing journey.... more to come about the epic Bermuda Marathon Weekend....

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