While participating in #bibchat recently, I mentioned that one of the many destination marathons I have done was in Cozumel, Mexico. I received some questions about it, and realized this would make for a great blog post!
Let me take you back to 2000. I had completed 1 full marathon (Maui) and was already looking for my next one. I was addicted! I was a member of Team In Training, raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I had the opportunity to be a mentor for a group of men & women in Team in Traning, helping them as they embarked on their first marathon…in Cozumel!
Obviously, the idea of running somewhere as exotic as Cozumel had me hooked. The race took place in November, so I had to train in the awful summer months in Arizona – but I honestly don’t remember it being too bad.
I was super excited for my “racecation” and getting to see Cozumel. I traveled there with a few of my teammates, and fortunately one of them spoke fluent Spanish. We had a connecting flight in Mexico City en route to Cancun, and if you’ve never been, well the Mexico City airport in a word is overwhelming! So much hustle and bustle. Our flight was delayed and we missed our connection, so luckily our interpreter was helping us arrange a new flight. I remember having to pay more and was really mad but I also just wanted out of there and onto paradise!
We spent our first night in Playa del Carmen, an absolutely charming village about 30 minutes from Cancun and a ferry ride away from Cozumel. I remember going out for my customary 2 miler the day before the marathon to acclimate myself to the climate. I couldn’t believe how humid it was!
When we arrived in Cozumel, we joined the rest of our TNT teammates. We did the usual carb loading and my friend and I also went out and decided to have our entire head of hair braided in cornrows - Totally touristy I know! What we didn’t immediately realize was how noisy it would make for running with all those beads clanking around! I ended up tying them back with a ponytail and that helped a lot.
The race started very early – probably around 5:30 am. If you’ve never been to Cozumel, it’s about 30 miles long and 10 miles wide. Not a big island. It’s located about 50 miles from Cancun. It’s very laid back, an ecological paradise known for some of the best snorkeling and scubadiving. We gathered outside the El Presidente hotel for the start of the race. There was both a half and a full marathon.
The temperatures that day were around 90 with humidity levels over 90%. If you look at this chart, you can see the average high is 85 with 80% humidity! That's a lot for this desert dweller.
I remember starting fairly strong (back then I was a solid 10 minute miler). I was struck by how NOT SCENIC the race course was! Yes, you heard me! NOT SCENIC! It was industrial, with pockets of tall ugly vegetation and generally unpleasing to look at. We didn't get to see any water until towards the end of the race. Not exactly what I was expecting.
Let’s talk about hydration, shall we? The water we were given was purified water that was in sealed plastic pouches that you had to tear open with your teeth! Seriously! Our hands were all sweaty, so you couldn’t just rip it. Also, the official on-course sports drink was Ultima, a pink color, that was also in those darn sealed bags. So once you got one open, your bib and clothes were stained pink. Ugh.
Most of the runners were from various Team in Training groups from around the country. Lots of newbies just out looking to enjoy the scenery. They were not acclimated to weather like this. We started hearing reports of people “dropping like flies”. I remember running past some tall vegetation thinking where in the hell is the beach? I ran out of gas and started walking at mile 19, and just like that – I was done running. The weather conditions sucked the life right out of me. The ironic part is that the last 7 miles were within view of the beach! There was at least some sort of breeze, or should have been.
The race finished at Chankanaab National Park, a cool ecological park where you can swim with the dolphins. It’s pretty forested leading up to the park.
Just look at all this walking I'm doing! Geez...
Our medals were actually made out of wood, very cool and unique
This was my 2nd marathon and absolute worst finish time to date (out of 10 marathons), due to 7 miles of walking! I believe Team in Training pulled this race from their list due to the unpleasant experience, so they eventually stopped holding the Cozumel Marathon. There is still a Half Marathon (moved to March) as well as Half Ironman held there each year.
Cozumel was one crazy adventure! Good thing there was plenty of Tecate and Pacifico to kill the bad memories from the race. I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face when he saw me with that full head of beads at the airport. I don’t think the Bo Derek look was a good one for me!
Recently, I had the opportunity through my running group #RunEatTweetAZ to connect with Cadence Performance Coaching for a running assessment.
I thought this would be a great opportunity to have a professional take a look at what I could do to improve my running, and strengthen as an athlete in general. Going into this, I knew that there were probably at least a few obvious things that I could be doing that I don’t currently do – stretch, foam roll, speedwork, hill training, etc. I know that I am NOT a model runner by any means. The fact that I have gotten this far running for 15 years – completing 10 marathons and 39 half marathons without any significant injury – is nothing short of miraculous.
I met with the Charlie, a Certified Wellness Coach. Charlie has a Masters in Physical Therapy and has practiced in Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy for over 16 years. He has advanced training and experience in running/triathlon injury management and bio-mechanical run analysis.
Charlie started out with an intake of my running history and health history. He asked what my typical mileage and routine is. I immediately confessed to all my aforementioned running sins.
He then began a mobility assessment, where he checked range of motion and strength in my legs, hips, core, ankles, etc.
Lastly, it was time for me to get on the treadmill for a visual running assessment. He videotaped me running on the treadmill from several different angles.
And here was his feedback…
All of these factors make for less efficiency when I run.
Charlie gave me a few exercises to do weekly in an attempt to strengthen my hips. I need to make a concerted effort to try these. He recommended these lateral leg raises and bridge leg raise:
For the rest of my “inefficiencies”, I just need to be mindful of my form. Ideally, I would schedule a few visits to work on these issues with Charlie's guidance. This was just a "sample" to see what Cadence is all about, but I'm glad I had the chance to learn about how to make some minor adjustments that could add up to major improvements to my running and overall strength.
Live in the Phoenix area and want to get an assessment of your own? Visit their website or Facebook page for more info!
I’m not your average runner. Generally speaking, I don’t stretch, foam roll or get massages. Sure, there have been times when my quads or hamstrings ached after a race and I needed to stretch them out, but I did not have the right tools for the job.
There’s been a few times where I had a sore hip and actually have taken both a tennis ball and a rolling pin to it to help! The main reason I think I haven't been a roller is that I don't like to inflict pain on myself. Same reason why I don't tweeze my own eyebrows! I'm a total wuss.
As a Chief Running Officer with RunEatTweetAZ, I was given the opportunity to try out a cool M80 Groove Massage roller. Look at this beauty – in my favorite color, orange!
Even though I’ve never owned a roller/stick and wasn’t sure how to use one, this was pretty obvious. This was the perfect accessory to roll out my hips, hamstrings or quads. This 15” roller is corrugated and SOLID (and because of that, unforgiving). There is no give when you are rolling, but that really helps isolate the area and work it out.
The Grooves in the M80 Groove are specifically designed to allow them to reinvigorate and stimulate muscles evenly. It’s virtually indestructible and easy to keep clean. I would definitely recommend using this on a soft surface - carpet, towel, yoga mat, etc.
I’m excited to get to use this after my next half or full – that’s when I really need to work out the kinks and get some relief.
Want to win one of these for yourself? Head on over to the Run Eat Tweet AZ Facebook page, where they are giving 1 roller away a day between April 6 and April 10 (5 Rollers!). Good Luck!
I should be used to this by now. Every spring, my life turns from a normal working mom with a flexible social calendar into 6 months of being in “lockdown” and doing the lions share of parenting duties. But here we are again, on the eve of the switch being flipped, and I am already starting to feel shackled by my impending restrictions.
My husband works for our baseball team – which means he works EVERY home game – nights, weekends, you name it. This was not a big deal before we had a kid, but once we did, it changed everything. Anytime anyone asks me to do anything in the spring/summer/early fall I have to consult the schedule – or bring my son with, or find a sitter.
I’m a natural early riser – I like to get up early, especially in the summer when the sun is up early and I need to get out and run. Conversely, he will sleep until 9 and leave the house at 9:30am. I go to bed around 9:30 pm and typically he won’t get home from a game until later than that, so we could literally go days and days living in the same house but not seeing each other.
Occasionally, I have conferences or events that I need to travel to that happen to fall over a game day(s). This does not go over with with the hubs. On those days, he has to leave work downtown, drive 20-30 min, pick him up, take him to the sitter, drive back downtown, work the game and drive back home. But we have an excellent sitter and it is what it is.
Homework and appointments
Now that my son has legit homework, that time period between him getting home from school and getting dinner on the table is downright hectic. Right now, my husband and I divide and conquer, but as soon as the season opens, it will all fall on me. He also has weekly occupational therapy sessions which we take turns going to, and now it will all be me.
I am all about travelling. I love to visit my friends & family or take trips to places I’ve never been. Oh, and I’m always up for a racecation! So again, when making plans of any kind or checking out possible races to run, I have to check the baseball schedule. This year, I am missing out on the Fred 200 Relay in Michigan and the Mountains to Beach Marathon in California. But this year the schedule is allowing me to go to run the Crim in my hometown of Flint, MI, and for that I am happy!
Last year, I was training for a marathon from July – October. I like to do my long runs on Sunday mornings. Unfortunately, on game days, hubby has to leave for work at 8am. That means I need to be done with all of that by then so I can stay home with our son. Once I was in that heavy mileage area – 15, 16, 18 and 20 milers – I had to really be strategic. I was getting up at 4am (partially to beat the heat too) to try to get ALL my miles in before he had to leave. A few times we even needed a sitter to cover the overlap. We don’t have any family in the area to help us.
Is there an upside?
Well, there are a slight few. Everyone’s first reaction when they hear who he works for is “wow, you must get to go to a lot of games”. Sure, I could – if I had any interest in baseball. I take him once a year to let his co-workers see our son, and one other time usually with my team from work (but I have to pay for a sitter). My son isn’t very interested in the game at this point in time, either.
The only true upside for me is lots of quality time one on one with my son. That makes up for a lot of the sacrifice. Weekends include us going out to lunch together, hitting the library together, and Saturday night movies.
So the countdown begins tomorrow - 6 months of big time bonding and bye bye social life! I know it's not forever, and in a few years (sniff, sniff) he'll be old enough to hang out by himself and as a cranky teenager probably won't even want to hang out with me. Or maybe he'll be a momma's boy forever :)
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!