T&T International Marathon

photo 1 (2) One word: BRUTAL. But I finished and even placed in the Top 10 females which got me a nice prize of 1,500TT or $200USD! It was also my worst marathon time of 4:37 (geez!) but I knew early on with the starting temp around 73 degrees that this was going to be a challenge for me.

I slathered on sunscreen then we got on a shuttle to the start at 3:30am and headed to Freeport, about 20 minutes from St. Ann’s (Port of Spain). Clint was able to come as well, which was nice. They had told him he could come along and then would take him to the 13.1 mile marker to see me pass and then again at the finish. He actually got to help with the organization of the half marathon and helped at water and Gatorade booths as well. He didn’t mind “volunteering” and also got to meet some great people helping with the race. One of his favorite things was stopping along the route and trying “doubles” which are an Indian food that the Trinis love.

Marathon-Map-Changes1-660x856We gathered at a church in Freeport, got our timing chips, got ready, and the alarmingly loud gun went off just before 5 (and it scared the sh$# out of me!). I grabbed a water bottle on my way to the start line because I knew the first water stop wasn’t for almost three miles. Off we went! I started the race running with a gal from Wisconsin, Chelsea. We both just took it easy and talked. We didn’t have solid goals in mind but I could tell she would beat me, even though she was barely drinking any water.

So back to “brutal”. It was warm and humid and even had rained some so I knew this going to be tough. It was dark until about 6am, so I was a little cautious and didn’t want to step in a pothole. Their roads are quite rough but the course was pretty flat. I was told that around 9am was when the sun would be really intense so if there was a way for me to get to the finish before then, I’d be better off. But that didn’t happen.

At the half marathon mark, Chelsea and I stopped for water, Gatorade and she had to use the porta pottie. I saw Clint and volunteers, said hi, and we took off again. But around mile 15 was where I was losing it. I was just hot and sweating my ass off!

1560430_10152804338708484_304070978_nThe other thing we had to fight was the traffic. They couldn’t completely close the course so we were on small shoulders or in the road and cars were literally inches away from us. And because cars drive on the opposite side of the road, they would be coming up fast behind us. It was a little scary at times.

So after mile 15, I couldn’t keep up with Chelsea. I continued to run but walked frequently for a few seconds or so at a time. I was dying. I had a bottle of Gatorade in one hand and water in the other. I just kept hydrating. I knew I would finish, I just wasn’t sure how long it would take me. My goal of 4 hours was out the window, so I went for 4:20…then that was out too.

There were stretches where I was all by myself and didn’t know where the course continued. I’d have to ask periodically. I would run on the road and then switch to the sidewalk to get out of the way of cars and also get as much shade as possible. After a while, my strategy was to walk in the shade and then run fast through the sun. I wanted to get the hell out of the sun! Let me tell you, I was soooo happy to get to the finish. My body wasn’t fatigued and tired from the running, it was the warm weather that affected me and just made me feel gross and took a lot out of me.

photo 3However, I must say, the hosts of this race were exceedingly friendly and helpful and made this marathon experience wonderful. They made it a very intimate experience and welcomed us again anytime. Bruce, Francis, Diane and especially Patrice were amazing and gracious. The post-marathon party included a steel pan band, Subway, Gatorade, other treats, ice bath tub and massages. And I took advantage of that free massage! It’s the first time I’ve ever had a massage at the end of a race and boy was it lovely!

photo 2 (2)While waiting for the awards to be announced, it rained for a short period. Everyone ducked for cover under tents. Then my name was called! I couldn’t believe it! A few photos were snapped and I collected my earnings. Pretty exciting considering my time was horrible (for me).

Oh, and that finisher photo with the top male and female…well, I forgot to get a picture at the end of the race, but I did see them at the local grocery store later that day and the top male winner wasn’t too friendly. I said congratulations and he was rude to me. Kind of disappointing. Oh well.

My favorite part on this experience was meeting photo 4athletes from all over the world. Being such a small race, I felt like I got to spend more time talking with them over the three days from the pasta party, driving the course on Saturday and on race day. Most races you meet runners but don’t get to have lengthy conversations and get to know them. I felt like I met some really special people and all who open their arms to me when I travel to their country. So, I’m looking forward to staying in touch and seeing them again in the future. Whether it’s in Trinidad again or Suriname or Japan or wherever else. It’s a beautiful thing.

Pasta party in Trinidad

Tonight I attended the official pasta party for the Trinidad and Tobago International Marathon. Yes, it’s two days before the race for whatever reason. Here I also found out there’s only 200 marathon runners! Um, crazy. I’ve never run a race this small. I’ve also never run a race in this warm weather and now I know why it starts at 5am.

I got my bib, which is F-4, and found out from a local runner that not many females run this race. A lot more females run the half marathon, with a total of something like 3,000. So, again, I’m crazy.

We had been trying to figure out how I was going to get to the start with no rental car or how I could take public transportation. It was becoming complicated. But the race director told me I could hop on the “foreigner” shuttle bus at a hotel down the street and I’d be all good. Thank god! Because we thought I may have to catch a cab at 3am, in the middle of the night, by myself, which really didn’t seem safe to us.

A steel drum band played throughout dinner and the pasta was pretty good. Three types of pastas with sauces and bread and juices all provided by the Normandie Hotel.

While talking to a local Trinidad runner, Candace, I found out the roads are rough and traffic can get in the way too. Last year when she ran this race, a car cut her off and she was also chased by a dog. She told me to stay on the road and not run on the sidewalks as I could fall. I guess they can be slippery. And she said by 9am the sun is intense, so let’s hope I’m done by then.

Being such a small race, I was able to talk to the race directors at the dinner. How often does that happen? Francis told me about the course and gave me some tips, which was great. He told me I should be fine until about 1.5 hours in and then it may get tougher with the heat. He told me about specific mile markers and what I will see on the course. He asked if I was going to bring a camera and told me the last 250 meters of the race there’s an incline but just to sprint it out. And he said just smile!

I’m thinking this will be a nice change from running large, congested marathons, so I’ll take it! Now the warm weather, I’m not sure how I’ll feel on race day, so I think I’ll take it easy and keep my body hydrated as best as possible. I also hope to get a picture with the top male and female. I think with only 200 runners, there’s a good chance it will be easy to obtain.



In my last blog, I had mentioned that I had signed up for a race in 2014 finally but I had not disclosed the location yet. Yeah, I was keeping it under wraps for a reason – mostly because we were finalizing details and getting flights. But I’m sure you’ve been wondering where this secret race is. If you guessed Trinidad, you are right on the money! However, I am sure you didn’t guess this little island in the Caribbean…haha! It’s kind of random, I know.

“How did you pick this race?”, you ask. Well, here’s how: My boyfriend wanted to go on a celebratory “I kicked cancer’s ass” vacation before he goes back to work in March so we started brainstorming. Australia (flights are expensive, but we do have friends there that could accommodate us), Thailand (possibly…), Panama (he wants to surf), Costa Rica (I’ve been before but I could go again and he can surf), etc.


Looking forward to these in Costa Rica

While we started looking at different destinations, I was in the corner secretly surfing the internet for international races that I could participate in while we were on this vacation. I came across several all over the world. However, Bermuda, Bahamas, and Trinidad were all in January and were not too far from Panama and Costa Rica. But this caused a little debate. Clint got a little upset that all I wanted to do was run a marathon while we were supposed to be on a relaxing vacation. Yeah, maybe it’s a little selfish, but what the heck?!? I don’t want to go to an amazing country and NOT run an international marathon if I can help it. This is my life too and I want to experience these things while I can. Plus, it’s a great adventure for both of us. And I explained that it’s only four hours of my life (and his life) so it’s really not taking up too much time out of a 2.5 week trip. So, he slept on it. He woke up the next day and agreed. I told him, he could go hang on the beach and sip cocktails if he wants to while waiting for me. Surely, that sounds awesome, doesn’t it? That’s when I registered for the Trinidad & Tobago International Marathon – www.ttmarathon.com.

I’m officially signed up only paying $60 USD (super awesome deal!) and browsed the course map and emailed the race directors to get some information about water and electrolyte stops. I’ve looked at pictures of past year’s races and results. I wanted to see how many people from Trinidad race versus people from all over the world. It’s mostly people from Trinidad but I did see people from Europe and the US. I even came across an article about the top female to win this race seven years in a row, American marathoner Mary Akor, was banned from racing for two years because she tested positive for a prohibited substance. So maybe I have a chance at winning now! (I laugh out loud!)

Here’s the article:


But seriously, I saw that the Top 10 male and female winners get an award and after looking at last year’s winners and times, I may have a shot at making the Top 10. Its a pretty VERY small race, so this may be the only time in my life I will get an award. I guess we’ll see.

I haven’t been training a lot since I took three weeks off of running after my December 15th half marathon in Arizona. Well, I didn’t stop exercising all together. I did cycle and weight train and did lots of lunges and squats and abs almost everyday. I also started running again this week to get my legs used to it and get some mileage in. But I am not worried. I would rather have a rested body than an over-trained body. Plus, I am doing this race for fun, not time. I just want to enjoy it and soak it in. Sometimes when you run a race for time, you don’t (or at least I don’t) look around and enjoy the things going on around you like the other people running, spectators, or your surroundings. I want to immerse myself in this race, if at all possible.


And looking forward to seeing these in Trinidad

So, there you go. The secret’s out! We leave on Monday and will head to Costa Rica first then off to Trinidad. I can’t wait to see the course, the local people, and the island is only 50 miles in length x 37 miles wide, so this course is a good chunk of the island. Should be pretty interesting, oh, and warm. I will fill you all in when I return. I’m not planning on bringing the ‘ol laptop while I am away, so I will keep notes on my phone.

Now, I must start packing…