Taper Time in Grand Cayman and Grandma’s Marathon Weekend

I probably shouldn’t call my vacation in Grand Cayman “taper time,” seeing as how I had been ramping up my training and sandwiching that particular weekend with big races.  Nevertheless, I had planned on taking it easy that weekend with only short runs, thus leading to my “taper time” verbiage.

Several days after the Vail Pass Half Marathon (which I recovered really well from, surprisingly), my Mom and I headed out to Grand Cayman for a work-rewarded trip (thanks Mom!).  We arrived on the island on Wednesday afternoon and were immediately spoiled with an amazing room at the Ritz Carlton and a welcome dinner on-site.

Celebratory drinks upon arrival!

I thought this was SO cute – shoe valet!

Toasting the sunset on the beach.

Day 2 started out with a catamaran adventure on the high seas!  Our quirky captain and first mates – 2 Scottish guys and a Colombian, who they deemed the “Colombian David Hasselhoff” took us out to a reef where we snorkeled about in some pretty choppy water.

Captain Doug

Momma Hodges and I getting ready to snorkel.

Due to the choppy water conditions, snorkeling was kind of a bust.  Although I did enjoy seeing my Mom attach herself to the back of the boat, seemingly hanging on for dear life as the waves knocked her around.

After ho-hum snorkeling, we headed to the nearby sand bar and what they deem “Stingray City.”  It’s literally a sand bar with water depth at about 4′ so that everyone can get out and play with the stingrays.  Yes, I said ‘play with the stingrays.”  These stingrays are used to people coming out and feeding them, and are rather docile and quite affectionate.  You can pet them and even hold them.  They feel like wet mushrooms.  Mom gave two of them kisses (which apparently gives you seven years good luck – I did not need luck that badly).

Mom getting her snorkel on.

Mom trying to convince First Mate Richard that she’s a professional.

The stingrays loved her!

After our catamaran adventure we headed back to the island and prepared for what would be one of the most incredible dinners of all time.  We ate at Blue by Eric Ripert (thanks Pete for correcting my pronunciation: “it’s ri-pear”).  Let’s just say that I’m still thinking about what I ate – and drank – it was incredible.

Our private room – dinner with an amazing group!

The rest of the trip was full of sandy beaches, crystal blue waters, tasty beverages and incredible dinners.  I can’t say enough about how much fun our group was, and my Mom and I had the trip of a lifetime.  We traveled back to Minnesota on Sunday night.

I spent the week leading up to Grandma’s in Minnesota catching up with friends and enjoying my hometown.

Heather, Graham, Kristin and me at the Twins game.

Kelley and I at Big Bowl for din-din.

My Mom, Heather and I headed up to Duluth on Friday afternoon.  I was running the William A. Irvin 5K that evening so we picked up my race packets and headed to the start.

To be quite honest, I went into the race not knowing what to expect, but like any runner, had expectations floating about the back of my mind.  My goal this Summer is to sub-21 minutes (okay, okay, I really want to break 20 minutes) at the 5K distance, but really haven’t been doing any speed work.

I toed the line on Friday night simply grateful to have my family and friends on the sidelines cheering me on.  It was incredibly humid out (like I felt like I was swimming at some points) and I started to really feel the effects of the heat around mile 1.  I finished up at 23:00 minutes, a time I can’t be ashamed of without properly training.

After the race we headed to Belisio’s for an amazing dinner.  I bought a bottle of champagne to toast my friend Kristin’s first marathon the next day.  I was reveling in the feeling of being surrounded by friends and family in one of my favorite places on earth, the night before one of my favorite races.  I was so happy!

Grandma’s Marathon

I registered for Grandma’s Marathon about 4 weeks before race day.  I was initially planning on cheering on Kristin as she ran her first marathon, but then I got to thinking about how perfect the distance was in my training regimen.  Therefore, I didn’t treat this race as a “race,” but rather more of a training run to get some fun miles under my legs and enjoy one of my favorite races of all time!

My plan was to go out conservative and see how my legs felt in the first 10 miles.  I had one goal in mind: I wanted either a neutral or negative split.  As I ran through the half way point at 2:04 I felt good, but not amazing, and decided to hold steady until mile 20 and then decide what to do.

The crowds and spectators increased around mile 15, and I could feel myself pushing the pace naturally.  I tried to hold myself back as much as I could, but finally let myself go around mile 19.  I’m not talking full-throttle here, but pushing myself as much as I could on relatively fatigued legs.  I was really happy with how good I felt through the 20’s, and really didn’t feel the mileage until mile 25.

Knowing my Mom was around the corner helped me finish strong in 4:07 – a negative split by 1 minute!  It’s not a PR, but it was such a great experience and I enjoyed every step of the race.

Mile 26: check out the face of the girl behind me 🙂

After I finished I found my Mom and Heather and we waited for Kristin’s arrival.  She finished her first marathon in 5:40 – such an accomplishment!  I can’t say how proud I am of her, quite possibly because I can recall a time in which she said she’d never run over a 10K.  Congrats Kristin!!

Mile 26: Kristin finishing her first 26.2!

On a side note, Duluth and the surrounding areas were ravaged with the worst flooding seen in that area just days after the marathon.  My heart and sincere thoughts go out to everyone affected.

London Road – just days after Grandma’s

Looking ahead, Ben and I are planning on a 30 miler this Saturday over Kenosha Pass, then it’s off to run the Grand Canyon the following weekend.  Updates to come!

3 thoughts on “Taper Time in Grand Cayman and Grandma’s Marathon Weekend

  1. Wow what a perfect place to taper but the Cayman Islands. Looks like a lot of fun. It’s my dream to go there and swim with (and now kiss for luck) the sting rays.

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