Monday, February 29, 2016

Running Away on Vacation!

“Whoever invented vacations should get a huge bonus.”

I believe this to be true. It’s February, 2016, and it’s been a year since I’ve taken time off. Not that it’s that long a time, many go much longer, but I’m burnt. So I got to take 10 days off.

And what do I do? I get to go for a run. Or a cruise. Or a running cruise. Yeah. That’s it, a running cruise. Organized by a couple form Toronto, “Run for Fun Cruises” are set on a 7 day tour of the Caribbean, with 5K runs setup for each of the island stops along the way. Took the tour last year, and did it again in 2016.

And since they leave out of Miami, I get to spend a few days with my dad in Lake Worth along the way.

Left Cali on Wednesday the 10th of February, LAX to MIA, and bouced up to Dad’s in Lake Worth when we landed. Thursday went by quickly, and didn’t even get a chance to get out and run. That all started on Friday.

Friday February 12th, got my ass back out there in the Florida heat and got moving again. I’ve been back at it sporadically since November, but coming back this time has been a totally different experience. In the past I could take a month off, or a few months off, or a year off, and within a week I’ve got my legs back. But this was my first big layoff past 50, and it wasn’t coming back so quickly. My splits were still slow, my distances were still appallingly short, and my stamina was conspicuous in it’s absence.

But I’m on vacation dammit, so I’m going to run. 4 miles. In the mid-day sun. In Florida. And I loved it. 4 miles in 45 minutes and change. Not quick, still only 11:20’s, but 4 miles, without walking. Run Streak day 1.

Saturday the 13th I went out again. Still in Florida, still in the hot, albeit flat conditions. 6 miles. 11:14 splits. No walking. Runstreak day 2.

Sunday February the 14th, or Valentines Day, it’s time to board the boat. The Norwegian Getaway our of the Port of Miami. Back on the treadmill to keep moving, running circles on the deck of a ship with 18 loops to the mile is not for me. 3 miles, 30 minutes flat. 10’s. That’s right, 10’s. The fun part is that the boat rocks side to side while it’s in motion. And the treadmill is perpendicular to the beam. SO it feels like you’re going up and then down hill throughout the run. Run Streak day 3. 

Monday is at sea, just hit the gym for another 5K on the treadmill. Maybe getting a little more comfortable, getting a little pace back. Day 4

Run Streak day 5 is the first real run of the cruise. Jamaica, and well, when they said challenging 5K, they we’re sorta trying not to scare us. It wasn’t challenging, it was completely insane. Just a 5K, starting from the port in Ocho Rios. And the first 2 miles were only slightly uphill. But then at between the 3 and 4 k mark, we turned left, and went straight up the mountain. Somewhere between 700 and 800 feet straight up in the next 1.5K. Like straight up, the cars could barely handle it. And I definitely could not. Walked it, in the heat, sweating my ass off, and bitching the entire time. Figured, why kill myself on my first real vacation day of the last year. Made it to the top, barely, and collapsed in a heap. Runkeeper was helpful to point out it was my slowest 5K ever. Thanks for that guys.

But, it still got better. Tuesday night, after the run, my first ever yoga class. On deck 18, under the stars. Life is pretty good when you’re doing yoga under the stars in the Caribbean.

Wednesday we were in Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Flat flat flat. Thank you. 3 Mile run in 32 and change, back down to 10:50 splits. Finishing up with a  jump into the Caribbean Ocean doesn’t suck either. Started out at 10’s, and made it through the first 2 miles at that pace, but the heat was too much, again, not worth dying, so did a bit of walking down the last mile to the beach and made it in one piece. Felt much better, good enough to hit the gym in the afternoon to get some core work in and another 2 miles on the Mill. Run streak day 6.

Thursday was my favorite run, just over 2 miles in Cozumel. Felt like the entire town showed up, politicians, an athlete or two, they shut down the road, gave us escorts, we felt like real runners. Had an excursion I wanted to do after so I sprinted (for me) through it and had a great time. 8:50 splits, and enough energy left to go snorkeling later in the day. Runstreak day 7.

Friday in Costa Maya was also a blast, bit over a 5K, from the docks down to the center of Costa Maya, where we spent the rest of they day planted in lounge chairs eating fish tacos and dunking in the Caribbean. Life really doesn’t suck on a running cruise.  Runstreak day 8.

Satruday was at sea making the run back to Miami, still got a 5K in on the Mill, sub 10 minute splits finally! Day 9

Sunday, February 21st, the long flight home, but even managed to drag the dog out for a quick 2 mile run with 9:30 splits. Runstreak day 10.

And that’s how the vacation and the runstreak ended. Back to the real world, and needed a rest day on Monday.

This wasn’t my first running cruise, was on one last year. Also good, but two things were much different this year. The cruise itself had 4 stops with 4 runs, all in great destinations. Last year it was 3 stops with only 2 running eligiable.

The second difference was the group that came along from #BlackGirlsRun. They were all amazing. High energy, great attitudes, and really committed to the trip. If they’re coming back next year, so am I.

So yeah, whoever invented vacations, thanks. You're my hero. Now back to running away from 50 in the real world. 

But if you love running, and you love eating, and you love beaches, and you love boats, take a running cruise, seriously. You’ll love it.

Check out: or @runforfuncruise   or +Black Girls RUN!