Bermuda Triangle Challenge – Bermuda Half Marathon, 2015, Race Recap

The morning of my ninth half marathon started with a plentiful room service breakfast that the Fairmont Southampton kindly arranged for us. Fruit, coffee, bagels, yogurt…I was in heaven. I joked that I’ve learned a lot since my first half marathon, which started with me trying to drink my instant oatmeal out of a paper cup because I had forgotten to pack a spoon.

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Dan with the delicious room service breakfast. It was the perfect way to fuel up before the half marathon.

We took a smaller shuttle this time and crammed into a van with a group of female runners. I noticed that their shirts said “moms on the run” or “moms run this town” or something like that. They appeared to be a group of young moms who run together. Their conversation was hilarious. One of them was also participating in the Bermuda Triangle Challenge and they were making jokes about her having to declare her medals to customs and “Can I have one of your medals if I don’t finish the race?”

The shuttle driver was listening to talk radio and after a while we realized that the program was about attempting to simulate labour symptoms in men and what their reactions were. After several minutes of awkward silence we finally arrived at the race start.

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Me and the finish line in the early morning before the half marathon.

The race starts and finishes on Front Street. Since we arrived so early we took a walk along the boardwalk and watched the sunrise. It was beautiful and definitely one of my most memorable race starts.

Mei and the sunrise in Hamilton, Bermuda.

Me and the sunrise before the race.

Mei and the birdcage.

Me and the birdcage on Front Street in Hamilton.

Palm trees and cloudy skies as the sun rises.

Palm trees as the sun rises in Bermuda.

When it was time to start the race I lined up in the self seeded corral. I found myself near a woman in a red Sporting Life 1ok shirt. It reminded me of home.

start line

View from the starting corral.

Before the race started, the Town Crier gave a speech welcoming us and wishing us all a safe and fun race. After a few minutes they sounded the horn and we were off!

Mei starting the race.

Starting the race. Photo courtesy of Bermuda Timing.

Less than a mile in I found myself climbing my first hill. The course was definitely hilly but not as challenging as the 10k the day before.

On the race course leaving Hamilton.

Near the start of the race course and leaving Hamilton.

Approaching the first hill.

Less than a mile in we approached our first hill. You can see it in the distance.

My race plan was to try to finish in around 2 hours. My half marathon clinic instructor Tim had told me that even though I was using the race as a training run, that I should still try my best. He suggested keeping a 6 minute per kilometre pace and trying to run the second half as evenly as the first. At around 6k my quads felt tired from the race the day before and I knew that the 6 min/kms weren’t going to happen. I changed my goals so that my A goal was to finish in 2:16 or faster (2:16 was the time I ran the first 21.1 kms during my marathon in 2013), my B goal was to finish in 2:21:54 or faster (my PB from the Disneyland half in 2012) and my C goal was to finish in 2:30 or faster (my average finishing time at this point). I used to set only one goal and then feel disappointed if I didn’t meet it. Sometimes that would overshadow my other achievements so I decided to start setting A, B and C goals. This was really effective for me in 2015.

Ocean and blue sky on the race course.

As I ran I couldn’t stop looking to the right and seeing the ocean and the blue sky.

Going up a hill.

One of the many hills.

Ocean view from the course.

More ocean. I couldn’t get enough.

The weather was perfect. We had blue skies, sunshine and some light wind. It was approximately 16 C and I was soaking up every minute of it. The hills were challenging but I refused to walk. I kept thinking about all of the hill training I’d been doing in -30 C weather and thought “I didn’t run all those hills in the cold to walk up a hill in Bermuda!” This kept me going. Balancing out the challenge of the hills was the ocean. I just had to turn and look to my right and everything felt better. I ran with my camera today and was running, smiling and taking pictures. People probably thought I was crazy. Some of the spectators shouted “Look at her taking pictures!” and “Keep smiling girl! Keep smiling!” The spectators were friendly and encouraging, which made the race even more fun.

Bermuda is beautiful. Blue skies, sunshine, ocean.

We had perfect weather.

Ocean, blue skies, sunshine and palm trees.

More ocean and blue sky. This was one of the most beautiful race courses I have ever run.

When I reached the famous Devil’s Hole Hill that everybody had been talking about I started to laugh. It was more like a bump than a hill! Running through Flatt’s Village was also a highlight. It was quaint and picturesque and the crowds there were also encouraging. I received a few more “Keep smiling girl!” comments. I honestly couldn’t stop smiling and probably smiled for the entire race.

Flatt's Village

Heading into Flatt’s Village. The crowd on the left by the blue building cheered “Keep smiling girl!” as I ran by.

Another picture from the race course.

Devil's Hole HIll

Devil’s Hole Hill. I burst out laughing when I ran up this “hill.”

Another view from the race course.

Another view from the race course. I loved running through all of the villages etc. and seeing the coloured houses and then more ocean.

The roads weren’t officially closed to traffic but there weren’t too many cars. The organizers did a good job of controlling this. There was only one spot where a car drove onto the course and I was momentarily stuck behind it. I thought it was hilarious that a car slowed me down.

A bridge on the course.

Pink house and blue ocean.

I loved seeing the coloured houses against the backdrop of the ocean. So beautiful.

Car slows Mei down.

I had to slow down and run behind this car for a bit! I couldn’t go in the other lane because there was traffic coming from that direction.

At around 17kms I started to feel tired. I ran this race before I learned how to fuel properly. I only took a few shot blocks, which I’ve since learned is only the equivalent to maybe half a gel. I stopped taking pictures around this point. Finally, I was heading back to Front Street. I was so excited when I saw the bird cage that I tried to run straight through but the race volunteers told me I had to go to my left and up another small incline. I started shouting “For the half marathon?” and they said it was. I had it in my head that they would accidentally send me back onto the course for the full. When I got back onto Front Street I knew that I was close to my goal. I saw Dan up ahead and sped up. I was so excited and when I crossed the finish line I knew I had run my first half marathon PB since 2012. I finished in 2:11:57! A PB by approximately 10 minutes. I was ecstatic, especially considering I hadn’t tapered and had run a challenging 10k the day before.

Mei crossing the finish line.

Action shot of me crossing the finish line. Photo courtesy of Bermuda Timing.

Mei crossing the finish line.

Photo courtesy of Bermuda Timing.

Mei crossing the finish line.

Photo courtesy of Bermuda Timing.

After I finished, we watched Bart Yasso, chief running officer for Runner’s World and also known as the “Mayor of Running” cross the finish line. Then we watched the winner for the full marathon finish. People who run the full marathon must have mental toughness. To run the full marathon course you run the half marathon course, run past the finish line and then run the half course again.

Bart Yasso

Bart Yasso right after crossing the finish line.

Benjamin Meto wins the marathon

Benjamin Meto breaks the tape on the marathon finish line!

Dan also told me about male winners of the half marathon. They were two Bermuda runners who made a pact and finished together, hand in hand.

Dan's video of the Town Crier.

Dan took this video of the Town Crier’s speech before the start of the race.

I made Dan carry my other two medals, so when I got my half marathon medal and my Bermuda Triangle Challenge medal I put them all on and took my picture with the Town Crier. After refuelling, we took a short walk to the bus stop and rode it back to our hotel.

Mei with her Bermuda Triangle Challenge medals

Proudly wearing my four medals!

Mei's soup.

They had soup at the finish line. It was delicious.

Mei with the Town Crier and all of her medals.

Standing with the Town Crier.

We spent the afternoon at the Royal Naval Dockyard where we had lunch at the Frog and Onion, taste tested some delicious Bermuda rum cake at the Bermuda Rum Cake factory and sat and watched some glassblowing. It was a relaxing afternoon.

Mei eating rum cake.

Taste testing Bermuda rum cake. It was so good!

Mei at the Royal Dock Yards

Mei at the Royal Dock Yards. It was windy and rainy that afternoon. We were very lucky with our race morning weather!

That evening we had dinner in the Waterlot Inn at our hotel. With my races finished, this was a good chance to finally relax and indulge.

Dan and his dessert at the Waterlot Inn.

Dan eating his dessert at The Waterlot Inn.

Mei at the Waterlot Inn.

With my dessert at The Waterlot Inn. All of the food was amazing!

Our food at The Waterlot Inn.

We had oysters and then indulged in their winterlicious menu. I had the Bermuda fish chowder, tenderloin with a side of creamy spinach and mashed potatos. For dessert I had the sticky toffee pudding. So good.

Dinner at The Waterlot Inn.

Dan also had the tenderloin. He had a caesar salad to start and we also shared a side of green beans. He opted for the cheesecake.

Over the next two days we took advantage of beautiful Bermuda by visiting St. George’s , the oldest English settlement on the island. The man who worked at the historical society was hilarious. He asked us where we were from and the conversation went like this:

Dan: Toronto

Man: eh?

Dan: Toronto

Man: eh?

Dan getting frustrated: Toronto, Canada

Man: eh?!

Meanwhile I was laughing hysterically and finally the man started laughing too. “Get it? Eh?”

Mei and Dan in the stocks.

Dan and I in the stocks. A little old lady offered to take our picture.

Dan outside the unfinished church.

Dan outside the unfinished church.

cork wreath with red ribbon on a blue door.

I loved this wreath made out of wine bottle corks. It looked so festive against the blue door.

Dan in St. George's

Dan exploring St. George’s.

Mei outside The Bermuda Perfumery.

Me outside the Bermuda Perfumery. I bought some perfume here called Coral.

View of the clear water from the bus.

View from the bus. The water looked so clear.

When we finished at St. George’s we took the bus back to Hamilton where we had dinner at The Lobster Pot.

Dan and his Lobster Pot napkin.

Dan ready for dinner at The Lobster Pot.

Mei's banana fritters being flambed in rum glaze.

We had another amazing winterlicious meal. Here’s a picture of my dessert. Banana fritters flambed in rum glaze.

On our final day in Bermuda we walked to Horseshoe Bay Beach, the famous pink sand beach. The sand really was pink! We also explored the Bermuda Railway Trail. Sadly, we couldn’t stay in Bermuda forever.

Dan at Horseshoe Bay Beach.

Dan at Horseshoe Bay Beach. We were lucky to have a beautiful last day in Bermuda.

Mei jumping at Horseshoe Bay Beach in Bermuda.

I love Bermuda.

Pink sand beach.

Close up of the pink sand. It really was pink!

Dan heading to the railway trail.

Dan heading to the railway trail.

Dan and the railway trail.

Dan and the railway trail.

Mei lounging in the sun.

Basking in the sun at the Fairmont Southampton before we return to snowy Toronto.

Dan enjoying the view.

Dan enjoying the view from the grounds of the Fairmont Southampton before we head to the airport.

Coloured Bermuda houses from afar.

Last look before we leave Bermuda.

Overall it was a great trip and the races were very well organized, challenging and fun. I felt extremely lucky with the good weather and would definitely recommend the race weekend. It was also fun to challenge myself with the Bermuda Triangle Challenge and this set of races really set the tone for the year to come. If you ever get the chance to go to Bermuda do it! You won’t regret it!

Mei's Bermuda Triangle Challenge medals and t-shirt.

My medals and t-shirt!

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