Tag: Caribbean

Fitness Swellness: Barbados Half-marathon 2016 race recap

 

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Last Sunday, I ran the Barbados Half-marathon for the first time and I still haven’t looked up my official time. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did check that same day and they weren’t posted yet. I guess when I’m not aiming to PB the time isn’t so important for me to know, and I had a general sense of my finish time.

That lackadaisical approach, though, was very much troubling me in the hours before the race kicked off at 5 a.m. on Sunday, December 4th. I slept very little that night, awake til 1 a.m. and afraid to oversleep, I lay awake for much of those wee hours of the “morning” (really, it was nighttime). I’d always planned to do this race as a easy run. It’s in fact the least I’ve “trained” for a race, if you can even call the handful of runs I did training. I added this race to my schedule about a month ago, knowing my body is capable of running 21.1k but not racing it.

But as I lay there sleepless the morning of the race, I found myself feeling a little annoyed with myself. 21.1k is not a short distance, and to run it without a serious desire or passion or goal, it was dawning on me that I was going to have a rough time getting through 21.1k in 29 degree heat and humidity.

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My vague plan: run it comfortably, walking as much as I wished,  but trying to have fewer walk breaks than I did in the Cayman Half last December, and in the Bahamas Half in January, and given that, my rough goal time I set for myself given my lack of training and the weather conditions was 2:15.

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I got to the start a good 45 minutes ahead of time, and had to switch my bib (I’d accidentally been given a 10k bib), sat around and then used the last 20 minutes to wait in line for the portapotties. The race kicked off at about 5 a.m. (I think it was a few minutes late) without much fanfare, in fact, for about a minute I wasn’t clear if it had officially started. I don’t recall crossing a  mat at the start — so I’m unclear if it’s based on gun time, in which case I would’ve made more of an effort to not have started towards the back of the crowd.

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The route features some moderate hills (which I was not expecting), and it ventures alongside some residences, some port land, which is not the most scenic but you are rewarded with plenty of ocean views, and it’s kind of fun to start the race in the dark and have the sky brighten after about an hour (even though you don’ t have a direct view of the sun rise), all of which is what I’m looking for in a Caribbean race. Given the early start time, there is little support along the route other than the volunteers, but the few people that did cheer, I made sure to thank (along with of course the volunteers marshalling the route and handing out hydration). Entertainment-wise, one truck blasting music was in front of the elites, along with a few steel-pan drummers. The road is not entirely closed, so for awhile I found myself trailing a city bus and desperately wishing I could run faster to get ahead of it so as to not be exposed to its exhaust; there was also the occasional car or two passing us runners. The route is an out and back, and the marathoners repeat it to get their full 42.2k distance, which I think must be draining mentally.

Thankfully and surprisingly, I felt good during my run. Despite the heat and humidity, I never felt miserable and needing extra walk breaks. I roughly took a drink of water every 10 minutes or so and would walk for about a minute to do so and regroup. And I could tell early on that it was going to be a pretty decent race for me that day, which is surprising given how rough the Scotiabank Half-marathon felt recently.

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I just checked the results and I finished in 2:03:21. This is indeed gun time (which is disappointing, I’m all about chip time) because my NRC app shows 2:02 (and that’s not accurate given it took me awhile to get my sweaty screen to unlock to stop my app), but it is what it is. Faster than my Scotia half  this year, despite being in even less racing form and the harsher weather. So I’m pretty pleased with my time, considering I’d been thinking I’d be done in 2:15. I’m calling this my Caribbean half-marathon PB. With this gun time of 2:03:21, I was 109th out of 344 runners in the half (the results don’t show break down by sex and age group, unfortunately) and I’m very happy with that.

After the race, I skipped going for a dip into the bay because I didn’t want to sit in cold, wet gear for the drive back to my resort, but some runners did, and it’s a beautiful bay to do so (and this was my fave aspect of the Bahamas Half-marathon, having the race finish by the water so you could refresh right away in the ocean).

Barbados is a lovely, low-key island, which I’ll be writing about shortly for VITA Daily, so stay tuned for that, and the Run Barbados race weekend should definitely be one to consider if you’re looking for a destination race where you can enjoy some great beach time and food.

And with that, my 2016 race season comes to an end! I find out in a few days whether I’ve been drawn in the Chicago Marathon lottery for next year. It’s where I have my marathon PB from two years ago, and it’s such a fantastic city, I’m hoping to run it again!

Leave a Comment December 11, 2016

Travel Swellness: Booking the right all-inclusive resort for you

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With what’s been an extra hectic year for me, I’m very much in need of some R&R . So when Expedia.ca asked if I’d be interested in going to Cancun, my answer was a resounding, “HELL YEAH!”

Even better, I got to choose where we’d stay so I chatted with my friend who’s coming with and we carefully went through all of the options on Expedia.ca. Here are some things you need to ask yourself when making your choice of an all-inclusive vacation so you can ensure you end up in the right place for you (as someone who’s been to many resorts in the Caribbean and often I’m the one tasked with doing the booking, I think I have a pretty good track record):

What’s the upper limit of your budget? You can have your realistic budget but decide whether you have more money you can pour into your vacation budget. In my experience, you truly get what you pay for, and since at an all-inclusive you’ll be spending more time on the resort than, say, when you’re in New York  City where you probably just sleep in your hotel suite, you want something that meets your needs since it’s more than just being a place to crash.

How many stars do you want in your resort’s rating? If all you want is some beach time and you want to get away on the cheap, you can look at, in my opinion, three stars if you’re watching your pennies. But if you’re not willing to risk it in terms of food quality, interior design, beach, service and ambiance, I think you need to limit your search to four- and five-star properties. I’ve been lucky enough to stay at some incredibly beautiful properties, and well, you get accustomed to that (even though most of the place I visit for work are way beyond my means) and my goal for this vacation was to stay at a five-star resort, if possible, but we were both open to a four-star resort. While I have stayed at budget-friendly spots, we had a decent budget we had agreed on. Just remind yourself to have realistic expectations; you won’t have five-star service when you spend half the amount on a three-star property.

What are your non-negotiables and your nice-to-have features? We started out our search for an AI resort hoping for something chic and modern, boutique size, and adults-only. But upon comparing the various properties, and including the other factors above, our search, and yours, was quickly whittled down to a small handful of properties.

Thankfully, with all of the different ways you can customize the search function on Expedia.ca, it becomes a lot easier to find the right vacation for you. If you’re somewhat flexible on your travel dates, and want to save money, I found the Lowest Price Finder chart that’s at the top of your page of results a great help.

After weighing all of our options, we booked a trip to Finest Playa Mujeres by Excellence Group. I’ve been to Isla Mujeres a few years ago but never Playa Mujeres, however I have seen and heard great things about Playa Mujeres, and this property looks stylish and chic and while it’s bigger in size and not adults-only (which was on our initial wish list), there are plenty of pools (a dozen!) and extra fun things like a tennis court (along with complimentary lessons!) that makes us pretty confident we booked the kind of vacay we want. And we’re counting down the days…

With the cold weather here (and it’s only getting colder), you might want to start exploring your options  on Expedia.ca for a sunny getaway now! It’s a simple but not a super quick process if you want to ensure you end up at a resort that’ll meet your needs. And if you’re curious about Finest Playa Mujeres, stay tuned to my Instagram and Twitter mid-December!

 

2 Comments November 28, 2016

Travel Swellness: Where to recharge in Jamaica

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The April issue of VITA magazine is out, where you’ll find my article on where to recharge in Jamaica. You can read the issue online here (and if you live in the lower mainlain of Vancouver, you can subscribe for free).

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Besides the amazing meal I had atop a hill with a great view of Jamaica, some superb spa services (That’s Fern Tree Spa above), and a lovely cottage with a private pool, one of my fondest memories is the walk to the spa at Round Hill Resort with views of the Caribbean Sea (I’d love to be parked on one of those chaise longues right now!). Positively heavenly.

Click here to check out my article on page 9.

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Leave a Comment April 6, 2016

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