One word: BRUTAL. But I finished and even placed in the Top 10 females which got me a nice prize of 1,500TT or $200USD! It was also my worst marathon time of 4:37 (geez!) but I knew early on with the starting temp around 73 degrees that this was going to be a challenge for me.
I slathered on sunscreen then we got on a shuttle to the start at 3:30am and headed to Freeport, about 20 minutes from St. Ann’s (Port of Spain). Clint was able to come as well, which was nice. They had told him he could come along and then would take him to the 13.1 mile marker to see me pass and then again at the finish. He actually got to help with the organization of the half marathon and helped at water and Gatorade booths as well. He didn’t mind “volunteering” and also got to meet some great people helping with the race. One of his favorite things was stopping along the route and trying “doubles” which are an Indian food that the Trinis love.
We gathered at a church in Freeport, got our timing chips, got ready, and the alarmingly loud gun went off just before 5 (and it scared the sh$# 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!
The 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.
However, 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!
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 athletes 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.