Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Nevis 10K turns into Accidental Half Marathon

Hello Everyone!

I'm still here writing Island Babble. I'm disappointed at myself for not posting as often as I once was, but there are so many events, activities and volunteer opportunities that I haven't been able to keep up.

My initial fear of moving to St. Kitts without an official job and not having enough to do has been completely irrelevant. I promise to get back to getting everyone up to speed with more posts, events, and activities. There are so many things I can do here, but ultimately I love to write.

I decided to tell you a quick, witty, funny story in the everyday life of mine here in St. Kitts. Enjoy.

It was a few days before another big race here in St. Kitts and Nevis —The Nevis Half-Marathon. This was the second year the race took place. The race has several different levels of racing and walking for competition.

Photo Courtesy: http://www.neviscycleclub.com/joomla/events/31-nevis-run/504-nevis-half-marathon-2012
There is a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run, and half marathon (21K or 13.1 miles) run. Since I've been doing more running than I've done in years and feel great so I felt it was time to move up from a 5K, which is 3.1 miles to a 10k, which is 6.2 miles.

I ran in high school track and a lot more in the Army but I never ran any publicly organized runs until the past year. This run, the Nevis Half Marathon sounded really cool and I wanted to run my first 10k race.

I signed up and paid online, which by itself tells you this would more organized than most St. Kitts runs. Then, I realized I'd have to find a way to get to Nevis. This wouldn't normally be a problem since there are two ferries, a car ferry and a passenger ferry running daily between the two sister islands, but this race started at 7 a.m.

By asking around on facebook I found out that Mr. X, who owns Mr. X's Shiggidy Shack would taking a boat over to Nevis and all I had to do was buy a 20 U.S. dollar ticket for a round trip transport. Cool, but since the race started so early we would all have to be down by the Shiggidy Shack at 5 a.m., Yikes!

In fact, my mother asked me what time the sun rises here and I told her I wasn't sure because it always beat me out of bed.

Sunday morning arrived and I was up at 4 a.m. pumped and ready to go. I arrived at the Shack about five minutes to five and Mr. X arrived about the same time. A group of mostly Ross University students had assembled and were chattering back and forth.

In record breaking island time we were stepping onto Mr. X's Catamaran powerboat in the pitch black, well it was a full moon yet cloudy. My mind can't help but always wonder back to those "fine army days" or mornings when no one in hundreds of miles is crazy enough to be awake yet but here you are running or exercising in the dark early morning.

The trip was pretty wavy but the full moon glimmering over our right, starboard side onto the Caribbean Sea was spectacular. Also the mood was weird because the captain was playing a weird mixture of 80s music and rap.  Off to our left we passed the largest private yachts I've ever seen. We're talking over 100 feet long with lights as fancy as a cruise ship. Too bad I couldn't get a good picture in the dark.

The full moon reflecting off the water on our trip to Nevis
 We finally arrived one hour later in Charlestown. Not sure why it takes that long. The boat had two 200 horsepower motors and it looked like the captain had her pegged but now I know why we left so early.

Around the time our boat touched the dock in Nevis light started breaking and what a serene feeling to arrive to the sleepy little town of Charlestown. It was Sunday so not much is going on to begin with but these little guys and girls were pecking away and the males were showing off to the ladies with their best morning crooning voices.

We showed up at the same time the race organizer did. He was driving his van and anxiously set out at registering runners and handing out shirts. Personally I found him to be a bit authoritative but I guess he probably felt rushed with the clock ticking and he had very little help.

All of the runners and walkers were to begin the race at the same time.

First, the organizer explained where the turnaround was for the 5k walkers and runners. He said there would be a water station tent, some orange cones and shortly past that some flags for the turnaround. The 10k turnaround would be the next one with a similar setup and the half marathon turnaround would be all the way out at the airport.

Sounds simple right?

For most people it was, but not for me.

 The race was scheduled to start at 7:00 a.m. but with island time we were off at 7.20 a.m. The early start is crucial here since the heat begins as soon as the sun comes out.

Right before the race began

We even had a police escort motorcycle to lead the pack of runners.

And without the usual sound of a starting pistol we were off.

I tried to stay somewhat close to the front but I also wanted to spare some energy for the return 5k. I almost forgot to mention that the course was an out and back, meaning we ran out halfway the distance and back to the same spot along pretty much the only road on Nevis.

The running course is in blue. Maybe I should've read the map before I ran.
 I quickly reached the 5k water tent right about the time I wanted and maybe 500 yards past that the flags for the turnaround. With the weather being nice and cool I was feeling great and to keep my mind occupied from the realization that I was running I snapped pictures of the beautiful Nevis scenery.

I'm still feeling really good and many Nevisians came out of their houses to wave and honestly probably see what the heck was going on. Right before a long downgrade an older Nevisian was banging on a flag pole beside the road singing something like "Gotta Move Up" or something and gave me a high-five which further encouraged my endorphins and man I was off.

So, maybe I should've payed a little more attention to the track or time because suddenly I saw two people coming back my direction. I was thinking to myself, "self, why are these people turning around, it doesn't seem like 5 kilometers yet. Anyways, not too far after that I came upon a water tent with a lady who handed me a water and maybe there was a cone there, I don't know.

I kept my eye out for a set of flags for the next minute but I didn't see any. So then I begin to wonder. Was the water tent the turnaround or not? If it was I passed it and my time and place in the 10k race is shot.

I did what any hardcore runner would do. I kept running! I decided that I'm feeling great, it's cool out, and I can run the next leg of this out to the half marathon turnaround and that will be roughly a 10k so if I get there and can't make it back I'll just flag down one of these taxis to take me back, it's only another 10k then I intended to run anyways and I can say I ran a half marathon.

The only problem is that my mind forgot to mention my plan to my body. I was running a faster pace than I should've been for a half marathon so I slowed a little and kept taking off-kilter pictures.

The Southeast Peninsula of St. Kitts from Nevis. Booby Island is on the right. Yes, that's its name.

Along I ran and finally made it to the half marathon turn around at the airport. At this point I'm feeling tired and wondering what I had done. I did smile when I noticed the guard at the airport having her hair braided by another girl while on duty. lol  She didn't enjoy me snapping a picture of her either. Whoops, it didn't turn out anyways.

Half Marathon Turnaround. Can't miss this one.

At the water tent I grabbed two bottles of water. One to douse myself and the other to drink. My pace dropped considerably and three or four people passed me. I kept pushing, repeating Army cadences in my head to keep my feet hitting the pavement. Finally I reached the 10k turnaround point and somehow could see the flags. Hmm, did they put them up after I ran by? I doubt it.

Water tent near the half marathon turn around with St. Kitts in the background.

By the time I reached the 10k's actual turnaround I gave up running and walked for a short distance. I had run over 15k and thought, " I earned enough running to be able to walk a bit, and if I finish that's all I need to make my day."

It worked. Parts of my leg muscles hurt that never hurt before and my stomach started growling but it worked. I would run and then walk some of the hills but I made it. Of course I ran the last straightaway into the finish because everyone was cheering and I have too much pride to walk in. As soon as I crossed the finish the organizer asked me my number, but I couldn't remember, all I wanted was food. Thanks to the tiny bar near the finish I was able to shovel in some awesome johnny cakes and fried chicken until I gained my strength back.

You wouldn't know it but I'm dead underneath the appearance of a good finish. lol

So I finished the race and I wasn't last. I think I was fourth from last but ooh well I pushed myself past my limits and I won't be running any half marathons anytime soon, at least not without some training beforehand.

Awards were handed out for the top three finishers in each distance. Ross University won the largest trophy for most participants and I probably would've got one if I had turned around at the right place, but who needs a piece of molded plastic? I had won my own medal by pushing myself to a new level and the memory won't get dusty or break like a trophy does.

Soon we were back on Mr. X's boat and back home to St. Kitts. See you next year Nevis Half Marathon.