Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Going the Distance: Bermuda Half Marathon Race Report: Part I

It was a gorgeous morning in Bermuda. I am still wrapping my heart and head around the fact that I ran my second CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon given my state of affairs 10 years ago with the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome and two years ago with an MRI that indicated I should stop running or at the very least limit my running and to look forward to a total knee replacement in the not too distant future.

Once again we were treated to see the beautiful sunrise over Hamilton Harbor:

I experienced the thrill of supporting Tom in his Bermuda Triangle Half Challenge (more on that in another blog) and now Team McManus was ready to take on my second CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon. I was stronger and trained harder. I remembered to be mindful as I ate my breakfast and we had our breakfast earlier than last year to give me time to digest it before the start. We left for the start later than we had last year. Unlike last year, I felt pure joy before gun time. I was blessed to meet Natalie Dyrli in person. We became Facebook friends. She is a social media maven sharing the joys of running with Bermuda's running group, "The Weekenders."

Thomas Glave decided to take on the Bermuda Triangle Half Challenge this year after running the Half last year. He was also a guest at The Rosedon. His eyes filled with tears as he told me how much I inspire him. "If I hit a rough patch during the race, I am going to use the mantra, "Remember Mary Remember Mary and all she's been through.

"Hi Mary. It's Glenda from last year. You were kind enough to send me the photos from the start last year. I looked you up and was so inspired by you that I'm taking on the Half Challenge this year," she said as she proudly showed me her bib.

We found fellow Merrimack Valley Striders, Diane and John Jannetti and captured this fun moment at the start:

A few more photos from the start:

A moment of silence, the proclamation from the Town Crier and we were off on our 13.1 mile journey. Thomas asked if he could join us for the first few miles to warm up. Tom was concerned that I went out too fast (and in retrospect I had) but I felt so amazing in my body and did not feel that I was pushing my pace in any way. I'm usually struggling a little at the beginning of the race but not on Sunday. We paused at mile 1 to take a sip of water and then took the first hill. We were chatting and sailing through the first 6 miles taking in the uniquely Bermudian landscapes and after mile 5 the magnificent seascape. The conversation and the run were delightful except when cars went whizzing by us.

I had no pain anywhere in my body. The water stops seemed fewer and farther between than last year. We made sure to stop at the water stops.

"Hi Mary. I told you I'd be here," said a Bermudian woman who I met while cheering on Tom at the Front Street Mile. She used to be a runner despite having a foot that turned inward but she was injured and unable to run. We had a lovely chat at the Front Street Mile. That's how Bermuda is ... strangers quickly become friends. She embraced me knowing my story and told me to take plenty of water and have an orange slice. "Hello Mary's husband," she said to Tom.

We saw some spectators who lined the route last year and they remembered us. The reggae music was the accompaniment to the magnificent views of the Island and it was a dance party along parts of the route.

I was anticipating a smooth and easy run but as any endurance runner can tell you, things can often go south when you least expect them to. I had trained well on hills and asphalt this year. I incorporated more cardio into my training using the Arc Trainer and Bike and worked hard in my strength training on land.

Unlike last year and my hunch is because the America's Cup is coming to Bermuda in June, there was a lot of traffic on the roads. On the narrow streets of Bermuda, we had to hug into the left side of the road where the road had uneven pavement. I could feel that my gait and pace were off. Team McManus stuck to our hydration and fueling plan and fortunately, in addition to our two water running water bottles, we had brought along a bottle of Fuji water. Thomas said goodbye to us at some point along the way saying he was ready to run his own race and he would see us later. Tom and I shrugged off the fact that there seemed to be more traffic this year and focused on enjoying the race despite the extra challenges.

"Are you favoring your left side?" Tom asked me with some concern when we got to mile 9. "It's from the road angle," I said. "I'm doing fine. I'm not in any pain." The long hill between mile 9 and 10 with the sun getting hot was challenging for me and the right side of my back went into spasm. I massaged the spasm and reminded myself how confident and comfortable in my body embracing what was happening in my body. By mile 10, I felt a release and said a prayer of gratitude that the tightness was gone.

Between mile 10 and mile 11, I could feel the toll that the heat, the hills and having to negotiate traffic was beginning to take on my body. I harnessed the power of my mind to think, in the words of Dr. Joe Dispenza, greater than my circumstances and observed my body rather than embody what was happening which could have certainly sent off a sense of panic within me.

We stopped and stretched and made sure we had plenty of hydration. While I would experience moments of relief, I could sense that something untoward was happening in my body and so I harnessed the power of the mantra that I have used before in my runs if a part of my body was experiencing pain or swelling, "I created this so I can uncreate it."

To be continued....

To your health and wellness,

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