As I thoroughly documented in several posts, my last trip to Mexico was 'on the cheap', to say the least. I forwent showers, sleeping in a bed, and personal space. I only mention this as a means of explaining why I feel no guilt about enjoying a second visit to Mexico. This one on the other side of the spectrum.
A was in Cancun a couple weeks ago for a FAM trip. It's the furthest south I've traveled in Mexico, however, it's also the least I've seen of any destination I've ever visited. This was not authentic Mexico by any means. That doesn't make it a bad trip, just different.
They put us up at the Le Blanc resort. It's pretty nice.
I'm not usually a jacuzzi guy (I have sensitive skin), but when it's in your freaking room, for crying out loud, with bubble bath, mineral salts and everything, you really don't have any choice. I may or may not have watched TV from beneath the foam.
But don't think I was playing favorites. I gave the shower plenty of attention too. There's an additional shower head coming at you from the other side, in addition to the 5 shown here.
One of the highlights of the trip, for me, was having the chef of the new French restaurant prepare us a tasting menu, then walk us through each one. For a minute there, I honestly felt like I'd walked onto the set of Top Chef.
Other meals weren't half bad either.
This troupe of drummer/dancers was lead by two fire wielding Brazilian girls covered in lovely tattoos. You can put two and two together from here. I stayed for the whole show.
Much of my time was spent touring properties like this one. (Moon Palace)
Most of these pictures are the amazing work of gnorrander, who took over 450 shots of the race. Check them all out here.
These are some of my favorites that I didn't include in my first post.
Minutes after starting the race
These old timers must have legs of steel
As you can see in many of these, there wasn't always a "trail" we were following. Rather, a series of pink ribbons hung from trees, shrubs, and tied to rocks. I had to backtrack a few times after overshooting the course. You learn real quick to spot any pink on the horizon.
I clearly remember this jump. Glad I wasn't the only one who nearly ate it.
I love this shot. It seemed like we were constantly running on an angle.
A skateboard would have come in handy on this part
This is one of the many pending blog posts I've had tucked away in the wings, waiting for the Baja trip and others to get out of the way.
After an enjoyable week of sightseeing around Oahu, we arrived at the suffering portion of our trip. My dad and I ran the Honolulu Marathon on the morning of Dec 14th, 2008. I've gone ahead and copied my journal write-up to go along with the pictures, for those not on that list. I brought my camera along, so some of these are mine, others I stole.
Up at 2:00 a.m. Surprisingly, not very tired. Slept pretty well for a race night. Got ready and drove to Waikiki in the dark, attempting to find the finish line. (They bus you to the starting line) Got lost, and by the time we located the buses, there was nowhere to park. Found a parking spot about a mile away and decided to walk to the starting line instead of trying for a bus.
Walked about a mile or so with a ton of other people to the starting line, where another 25,000 runners waited. 30 minutes later, we were off, walking to the starting line and then jogging out. It’s a massive crowd. Much energy is spent dodging slower runners and walkers.
It rained almost continually all morning, which helped keep things cool, but the humidity was in the mid 90’s, which wasn’t pleasant.
This was a tough race for both me and my dad. We hypothesized about the reasons why for much of the race: humidity, sporadic training, my old shoes, etc. By mile 10 we had slowed down quite a bit. My dad was suffering from some aches and pains that would plague him the remainder of the race. For me, it was all the hiking I did in my flip flops yesterday. My feet were killing me, and opting to go with old, comfortable shoes turned out to be a huge mistake.
The rain let up mid way and the sun came out. I hugged the side of the road as much as I could, trying to stay in any shade available.
Ignore the shirtless ghost next to my dad. I had a severe case of raw nipples, and was forced to go topless in order to prevent further chaffing. Eventually I secured a couple band-aids and put an end to the free show.
The last 10 miles were slow and painful. We walked a lot and suffered through them.
At last the finish line was in sight and we stumbled through in about 5 hours 45 minutes.
Picked up a snack and our finishers shirt, then it was a death march back to the car. That was one painful walk.
For those on my email list, you can skip the race report, which you've already received, and simply browse the photos. Let me state up front, that I did not run with my camera, so all of these photos are 100% stolen from other runners. I scavenged the Internet to find the best shots, which I've compiled them here. Hopefully no one sues me.
Also, in an attempt to score added sympathy points, I want to mention that I injured my foot a month ago at the Arizona Rock n Roll marathon, so my training has been spotty at best. I did 10 miles 2 weeks ago after I thought it was better. It wasn't, and I barely ran the last 2 weeks. Consequently, my expectations were very low for this race.
RED HOT 50K+ on Feb 14th, 2009 Valentine's Day
The Red Hot 50K+ plus is an approx. 34 mile race outside Moab, in the Arches National Park area. It’s a point to point race, starting at the Gemini Bridges trailhead and finishing at Poison Spider along the Colorado River. The race is run on red dirt trails, sand, and a lot of slickrock. Elevation begins at 4650 feet and peaks at 5700 feet, with tons of up and down in between. Today’s low was 22, with a high of 44 degrees. We had very minor snow flurries and some wind. Overall, pretty good conditions.
I slept like crap. Up every 10-15 minutes all night long. All my dreams were about oversleeping, getting injured, getting lost, or forgetting something important. Up at 6:15 to shower and dress. Drove 10 miles north of Moab to the trailhead by 7:00. Added my drop bag to the 1&3 aid station pile—we hit it twice.
This is the only photo where I could spot myself. I'm the dude on the right without the goofy smile. Back turned, gray beanie. Yep, that's me.
It’s freezing cold out, and I basically pace for an hour waiting for the race to start at 8:00. I’m wearing my New Balance 903’s. Decided to go with what’s comfortable rather than a trail shoe. I have my running shorts underneath some workout pants, a long sleeve T, a short sleeve T. and a jacket. I’ve got a beanie on, gloves, headphones, and my large fuel belt, but with the bottles only filled halfway.
I didn’t do any real warm-up or stretching, as there will be plenty of time for warming up on the first leg. My plan is to take it slow, and hopefully finish before the 6:00 pm cutoff. The thought of being on my feet for 10 hours is not appealing. The race starts right at 8:00, and as usual, I disregard all my prior plans. I just can’t help myself. I’m going slow, but not even close to as slow as I should be going.
We go into a climb quite soon, making our way to the top of the canyon. I’m in the middle of the pack and chugging along. No pain so far. On the other side of the canyon, we follow a sandy trail, which causes you to use twice as much energy to go the same distance. Lots more climbing too.
It takes me 1 hour to reach the first aid station, 5 ½ miles from the start. I find my drop bag and strip off my pants, jacket, beanie, and gloves. I put on ear warmers though. Take 3 ibuprofen. I snack on saltines and dried fruit before moving on. My foot is starting to hurt where I injured it. I try not to think about it.
The next aid station is 7 ½ miles away, at mile 13. After running through valley trails, we hit the slickrock and begin a series of tough climbs. Slickrock is petrified sandstone that you see all over Arches and Zions. It’s unforgiving on the feet and will cause severe abrasions if you eat it. Most of the surface is uneven, so when going up, it’s like climbing a massive staircase. It’s not fun when your legs are tight and sore.
Once at the top, the view is unreal. You can see rock formations and canyons for miles. The scenery out here is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Simply beautiful. We follow the ridgeline for awhile before a killer descent. I know from past experiences what happens when I throw caution to the wind and let myself go—sore quads and knees that haunt me later in the race.
These gals are much braver than me. I kept my distance from the edge. I hate heights. In fact, my stomach turns just looking at the this picture.
I throw caution to the wind anyway and fly down the slickrock and trails. I pass a dozen or more people in the next 1-2 miles. Most people aren't dumb enough to speed down with reckless abandon, but I absolutely love it. I have a talent for staying on my feet on difficult terrain, and I like to use it.
Feeling pretty good considering at aid station 2. Ate more chips, saltines, a Clif bar, and a couple GU’s. Staying away from the Coke for fear of having to deal with #2 problems. The next four miles were tough on me. All very runnable trail, which works against me, since my race pace isn’t very fast. I excel on the technical trails, where most others have to slow down. My foot, and now both knees, are really sore.
These "trails" are normally reserved for bikes or vehicles like the Hummer below.
Aid station 3, which is the same as 1, is at mile 17. The halfway point. I go straight to my drop bag where I focus on the 3 things I’ve been saying over and over in my head for the last mile: Sunscreen, Drugs, and Trash. I coat my head and face, pop 4 more ibuprofen, and empty my pockets of GU and energy bar wrappers. Wolf down some PB&J, dried fruit, crackers, and another bar. It’s like 11:00 or so. I really try not to think about being only halfway.
The next 6 miles are tough. Almost all entirely on slickrock. Both of my feet are throbbing, my knees ache, and my hip flexors are screaming. We go up, up, up to the top of the canyon once again. There’s no consistent trail, just pink ribbons tied to random shrubs and rocks on top of the sandstone. Once at the top though, it’s a continuous up and down. Even though it hurts like mad, I take full advantage of the downhill sections and pass a lot of dudes. It’s blowing my mind that my foot hasn’t failed me completely and I’m still able to run.
Aid station 4 is at mile 23. I’m hungry and eat everything in sight. I’m in a groove now, so I move on quickly, but soon all that food catches up to me and I feel nauseous. The next 6 miles are entirely on slickrock. My legs, especially my knees, are shot. I still run the downhill fast, but it hurts really bad. I continue to pass people, amazed that I’m doing this well and knowing I’ll probably finish the race.
The views are stunning. I can see the Colorado River glistening in the distance. At the same time, I find myself appreciating them less and less as I grow more and more fatigued. It’s 6 miles to aid station 5, and it feels like it will never come. The good news is my feet are so hammered by this point that I’m numb to any pain. It’s my knees that have moved into the spotlight. What I’d give for some spongy asphalt or cement.
Aid station 5 is at mile 29. You have to climb the several of the steepest rock faces of the course to get to it. I’m experiencing a second wind of sorts, and scramble up, sometimes on all fours, with speed I didn’t know I had. I haven’t eaten in awhile and still feel sick to my stomach. Too much sugar I think. I stop drinking the CytoMax energy drink and begin downing water to flush out my system.
The last 5 miles are brutal. Lots of downhill, which I don’t appreciate anymore. I move from grimacing to audibly grunting in pain on the bigger drop offs. I’m still passing people for 2 ½ miles, but then at around 31.5 miles, I hit a wall. I have to mentally fight to keep running, and when I am, it’s just a slow jog. I get passed by half a dozen people who conserved their energy better than me. Everything hurts.
The final mile is a series of switchbacks down to the river. I check my watch and see I can come in under 7 hours if I hustle. I give it everything I have left and painfully pick up the pace. I’ve never been so happy to see a finish line, which I cross, according to my watch, just under 7 hours.
Later I find out my official time was 7:02:21. Oh well. From my count, 181 runners finished the race before the cutoff. It looks like I was 107th overall. I was just elated to be able to finish.
I hobble over to where they are serving up steaming bread bowls of soup and hurriedly consume two. They hand out awards. I think the first place guy came in just under 4 hours, which is mind blowing. Hopped on a shuttle back to the start to pick up my car and beeline for my hotel. Spend nearly an hour in the shower under the hot water. It would have been 2 if I’d had a chair to sit on.
I took pictures of my toes following the race, but I just made an executive decision not to post them. I have a hard enough time getting dates as it is, without more gruesome photos of my toes floating around the net.