It’s a Bermuda-ful Day: Bermuda Half Marathon Race Recap

Last year, my friend Jen suggested a bunch of us do the Bermuda Triangle Challenge for our birthdays (a milestone year for a few of us). I’m not sure whether she really expected anyone to take her up on the idea, but eight of us ended up making the trip this past weekend–four members of Springfield Moms RUN This Town; another running/triathlon friend, Marianne; and three spouses, including Robert. Four of us went for the full challenge, which is a one mile run, 10K run, and half marathon on successive days.

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Two of us ran the half marathon only: Sophie, who is currently 18 weeks pregnant, and yours truly, whose body continues to reward me for not running two days in a row (exception made for Ragnar Relays). Plus, I wanted some sleeping-in mornings. Marianne was going to do the full challenge but her knee was talking to her after the 10K, so she wisely took it easy and went swimming instead. I told you she was a triathlete!

We all had a blast, and if you have the inclination and means to do an international race, this is one for your bucket list.

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We did not throw away our shot!

I blame the song “Kokomo” for my ignorance of Bermuda’s location–it is nowhere near the Caribbean, nor any other island, really. But it’s super accessible from the East Coast. Bermuda is an easy country to visit and navigate. The people are warm and helpful and buses and taxis are plentiful. Businesses take US currency, so logistics are a breeze, and even in the off season, there’s plenty of stuff to do, or beaches on which to lounge and stroll if you don’t want to do much. Robert was super bummed that he was not able to scuba with Jen’s husband Fred because of some fleeting chest congestion. But the guys all went snorkeling on Sunday and on Monday and saw tons of colorful fish, old cannons, and a gigantic elusive grouper fish that became the inside joke of the weekend.

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Some people have strange reactions to so-called runcations. Why would you want to run on a trip like this? Why exert yourself so much? Sounds stressful. Just lie on the beach!  

My favorite kind of foot photo.

My favorite kind of foot photo.

Well… People should do what makes them happy. But I think runcations can be more relaxing than trips in which you cram a bunch of sightseeing into a few days. Our group was up early each morning to run, which meant afternoons were for relaxing, and evenings were festive but finished up relatively early.

On a runcation, you may end up at the grocery store for a favorite pre-race snack or sunscreen, which gives you a glimpse of a place’s local culture. And hey. Running burns calories, so you can indulge in food and beverages without coming home with 10 extra pounds. (More like 5.)

Most importantly, there’s nothing quite like seeing a place through the power of your own two feet. No, you can’t tick off as many sites as you do from a bus or on a hectic tour, but you see them in a deeper way. You see and smell flowers:

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You get a good look at real local living, like homes…

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Businesses… (I’ve always loved this verse)

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Architecture…

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Even cemeteries. Running by cemeteries always reminds me to embrace the experience of running as the gift it is. I get to do this:

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Better to be running past it than buried in it!

And you get a flavor for the local population, at water stops and along the course. The crowd support was fantastic all weekend. People sat in lawn chairs in their front yards, clapped, and offered high fives and many a “Well done!,” my new favorite term of encouragement. I love when races put the runners’ names on the bibs, and here, people actually used them. There’s something powerful about total strangers cheering for you by name.

As for the half marathon–it was an excellent race. Spectacular course, excellent support, great logistics (mostly).

We stayed at the official run hotel, which meant we ran into legend Bart Yasso the morning of the race. He complimented us on our skirts. But really, how could he not:

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These are Sparkle Skirts, and I do believe we sold a few out on the course.

The start/finish line was modest but with all the amenities, including actual flush toilets (and soft drinks at the end, along with the traditional Gatorade and water–our group was elated). I had plenty of time to pee twice before the race, which is about right for me.

It was a beautiful morning:

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Sporting our MRTT “Be Amazing” shirts! We got a lot of attention for them.

Had time for a photo with the town crier, who also led us in a moment of silence for a fallen runner whose name I didn’t catch.

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Then we were off!

This is my fifth half marathon, and I wasn’t running for time. I’m trying for a personal best (PR) at the Rock n Roll DC in March, but for this one we all wanted to be leisurely, take in the scenery and get lots of pictures:

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Lots of mirrors for driveway visibility on these little streets. Couldn’t resist this one.

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Temps were in the 60s, but the ocean breeze kept things pretty comfortable. There was also a good bit of shade.

Here was the moment I knew I’d never forget. Crashing surf and party music:

The marathon is a double loop of the half marathon course, and we laughingly wondered when the leader would lap us. It was at mile 10. Mile 10!

I’m notorious for fading out in the latter miles of long races, which is something I’ve been working on. So around mile 11 I decided to take off and see if I could pick up the pace. I was assisted by a nice downhill in that! When I had about .2 left I stopped and waited for the group so we could cross the finish line together. They were only a couple minutes behind me.

At that point our stomachs were all growling. An 8 a.m. start is very civilized–and the 10K the day before started at 9!–but brunch was definitely calling. We passed a froyo place with just a tenth of a mile to go, and I’m now kicking myself that we didn’t go in to get some, because that would have been an awesome finish line photo. But it was still pretty wonderful. (And there’s video!)

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I mentioned that the logistics were mostly great. The big buzzkill was that they ran out of half marathon medals. That was a bummer. We were all looking forward to medal photos on the beach. And Jen, Stephanie and Todd (Sophie’s husband) had completed three races and were supposed to receive four medals, and we’d been laughing about wanting to get a picture of all of them on the “medal rack” in the hotel room (OK it was a tie rack, but still). I never did hear what happened, but they’ll be mailing them to us. Ah well.

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Stephanie and Jen are holding teeny pics of our friends Sara and Tish, who were with us in spirit.

Finally, I need to say a big thank you to my mother, who kept the three amigos safe and entertained so Robert and I could get away. We couldn’t have done it without you.

All in all, an unforgettable weekend!

5 thoughts on “It’s a Bermuda-ful Day: Bermuda Half Marathon Race Recap

  1. Lynne Garvey-Hodge

    MaryAnn – It is a joy to read about your joy! Everyone enjoyed a full, complete & healthy time! The pics are wonderful & I love the Hebrews verse…so appropriate for now. Thank you for sharing – & btw, you all look so gosh darn YOUTHFUL!! 🙂

    Reply
  2. Mamala

    I had a great time this past weekend. I always enjoy your children. Highlights:
    1. Jamesy participating in all activities without complaints and especially how much he religiously carries his dishes to the sink after every meal.
    2. Margaret caring for Baxter and taking over that piece of meal prep. Also, seeing her make and eat “burrito pizza’ for several (probably 4) meals in a row.
    3. Taking Caroline to a party with friends and hearing about her fun time with them (also, her practicing various musical instruments, including her voice, for musical tryouts coming up).
    4. Seeing Hidden Figures with them on MLK Day…especially meaningful.
    5. Walking the Lake Anne trail and visiting the adoptable kitties at Just Cats.

    Reply
  3. Jen Allard

    Here are my thoughts about our trip, for anyone considering a visit (for racing or otherwise!): 1. Bermuda is a great place to visit. It’s a nice combo of seeing another country, but with the comforts of home. They use US dollars, have American TV channels, and import a lot of US foods. Everyone speaks English. But it doesn’t look like anywhere I’ve been in the US, they drive on the left side of the road, and you can see a lot of the British influences as well. The people are so nice, from cab drivers and hotel employees to random people on the street and the bus. They seem to truly love their home and are happy to show it off. I definitely want to go back.
    2. The marathon weekend makes a nice racecation. While the challenge was HARD, I’m really glad I did all three races (with no time goals!). They were all different — the mile was downtown, with a huge crowd, at night! The 10k started and ended at the national stadium and was a bit hilly but gorgeous. The half had only about 2 miles on a road that was part of the 10k course and circled the entire island. There were only a few places on the course that weren’t postcard beautiful, and even then, compared to the Pentagon parking lot, I have no complaints!
    3. Both the 10k and the half are great races for back-of-packers. The 10k has an official “walk” category, and the marathon course is 2 loops (with start at the same time), so even if you are DFL, you aren’t actually the last one finishing. Even though there weren’t other runners around us when we finished the half, the finish line was still hopping, lots of people still out cheering, etc. There was plenty of food (bags of chips, cut up oranges and bananas), Gatorade, water, and soda when we finished. The only drawback was the medal issue, which we hope they will make right (and they had run out way before we got there, so it wasn’t strictly a slower runner issue).
    4. The Fairmont Southampton is a nice hotel, but not the most convenient for racing purposes even if it was the race hotel. We got a pretty good deal b/c January is off-season. It has a heated pool and access to the beach, multiple dining options, and a free ferry to Hamilton. Fair warning — Fred and I did not pay for the upgraded view (we could see the water over the trees and overlooked the golf course), and were fine with that until we discovered that our room was above the air conditioning units, so we did not want to be out on the balcony or even have the door open b/c it was loud 24-7.
    5. Things were not as expensive as I expected, except the cab rides. Food and drink prices were comparable to going out in DC or NYC. Other things were reasonable, as long as you stayed away from the minibar in the hotel. We mostly took buses, which cost $2.75 per trip with a token. Cab rides were $25+ each it seemed, no matter where we were going — fine with 6-7 people stuffed in the car, but it would add up with a smaller group.
    6. January is off-season there. It was about 65 degrees the entire time, so we were happy and comfortable in our short sleeves and even went swimming. But the locals were all bundled up in jackets and boots. Lots of places were closed or had reduced hours. I don’t feel like we missed anything at all, but just something to be aware of. I still don’t think I would go back in the summer, but maybe for spring break or something?
    And now we will shut up about it, unless anyone asks of course.

    Reply
  4. Byron Wade

    Hey MaryAnn,

    Nice post and glad you had a great run and visit to Bermuda. My wife and I had our honeymoon on the island and your pics brought back some great memories.

    Thanks again,
    Byron

    Reply

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