Monthly Archives: September 2010

Half Marathoning in Costa Rica

The Gatorade Tamarindo Beach Half Marathon started at 5 am, so Mere and I woke around 4 am thinking that would give us plenty of time to get warmed up and eat before the race. This didn’t go quite as planned, and we did little of either, but somehow still managed to make it to the starting line with minutes to spare. We accidentally started with either the 10k-ers or the full marathoners, we couldn’t really tell which because everything was in Spanish, but we knew enough to surmise that we were in the wrong place. But that is neither here nor there.

It was dark when the race started, but the sun began to rise early into the run, and it was just gorgeous. The scenery was beyond breathtaking, with lush greenery surrounding us and misty mountains rising in the distance. We didn’t wear headphones because we wanted to fully take in the sights and sounds around us; howler monkeys hooted in the background, and locals lined the streets cheering “Vaminos, vaminos!”

By the grace of God, I had an incredibly strong run. I was all but unaware that my legs were moving, I was so mesmerized by the beauty around me. It also helped that there were very few mile markers, so we never had a solid sense of how far we had come or how much distance we had left to cover. I actually found myself feeling sad that the run was going by so quickly and wishing it wouldn’t end. I didn’t want to stop when it was over; I felt like I could run forever out there.

Unfortunately, Mere got a gnarly blister around mile 9, and since we had promised to finish the race together, that slowed us up a bit and my finishing time wasn’t reflective of how great I felt during the race. Our clock time means little though; the important thing is that we ran a half marathon in Costa Rica, and it was one of my favorite life experiences. Here I am being a sweaty mess just after crossing the finish line:

Because we are insane, we hit the beach for another surfing lesson almost immediately after receiving our medals. Don’t ask me where this energy came from, because it is unexplainable. All I know is that we had four days in Costa Rica, and we were determined to do everything we possibly could (except sleep). We surfed for an hour, then got hour-long full body massages on the beach. Bliss. After being sufficiently relaxed and kneaded to the sound of crashing waves, it was time for our snorkeling tour. Stay tuned.

P.S. If you want to read more about my experience during the actual run, I invite you to check out my Race Recaps tab, where I share a chronological assessment of the various races I participate in.

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Jungle Canopy Tour

Post surfing and briefly relaxing in the sunshine, Mere and I went on the most thrilling ziplining tour known to man. You may recall that I recently went ziplining in Nashville, but that in no way came close to preparing me for this adventure. There were eight ziplines stretched throughout the jungle, and they were INTENSE. As in, legitimate concern for your well-being intense. The foliage was lush, the platforms were dangerously high, and our guides (Eddy and Andy) were charming and ensured our survival. Here we are enjoying some of the less life-threatening zips:

Then, things got a little crazy. On one of the lines, we zoomed through the air superman style, which was both ultra-terrifying and exhilarating. After that, we climbed to our next line…

… and ziplined UPSIDE DOWN:

Note: I realize that I am sweating profusely, but cut me a little slack here: I’m in the depths of the jungle, it is hot, and I just saw my life flash before my eyes. Given the circumstances, you would probably be sweating too. At one point, the zipline stretched across a river that we touched with our hands, practically dipping our heads under in the process.

My emotions ranged from giddiness to terror to liberation to exhileration and everything in between. Awesome, awesome, awesome. I hope you get the chance to do something like this in your lifetime, it’ll make you feel like you can conquer the world!

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Surfing

We woke up Friday morning with sore throats and stuffy noses (likely a result of international travel and lack of sleep), but decided to keep our 7 am private surfing lesson because, well, how could we pass that up?? We met up with Viktor, who turned out to be the best surf instructor on the planet, to learn the basics of positioning, balancing, and avoiding serious injury while on the longboard. We did some drills on the beach for all of five minutes before deciding it was time to hit the waves.

Before I describe our time in the ocean, let me just say that I am now obsessed with surfing. The technique, the challenge, the beauty, the waves. It is glorious.

Once we donned our rash guards and hit the open water, Viktor and his Rastafarian friend taught us how to balance on the board, paddle, paddle, paddle, and then catch the wave at the most opportune time. Stay near the back of the board, don’t lean forward, bend your knees. We didn’t make it up our first several attempts, of course, but within 30 minutes we were riding the waves, which I’m told makes us naturals. Luckily, our new friend Luke happened to be on the beach during our lesson, and he got some great footage. Here I go!

And here goes Mere!

We were the only people on the beach at the time, and it was just perfect. I cannot describe how great it feels to glide over the water’s surface knowing that every tiny detail of your execution worked together to create that moment. We caught waves and wiped out until our legs were rubbed raw and we were too weak to pull ourselves onto our boards, and we loved every single minute of it.

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Tamarindo Diria

My Costa Rican getaway was absolutely magical. Every aspect was perfect; the landscape, the weather, the people, the adventures. It exceeded my every expectation, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to visit this paradise. Over the next several posts, I will attempt to recount some of our experiences and do justice the amazingness of it all.

Once arriving in Liberia, we took an hour-ish bus ride to our resort, Tamarindo Diria, and were greeted by this view as we walked into the open-air lobby.

The view from our balcony was equally impressive:

We spent very little time sleeping, as we wanted to make the most of our short time in the country, but when we did, the very best thing about it was waking and immediately heading to the balcony to enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds below.

We spent our first afternoon frolicking on the beach, exploring the grounds, getting to know the other people in our running group (who were AWESOME!), dining, and dancing. The evening was fun, but the real excitement began the next morning…

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Airport Adventures

Written on Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 10:30 pm

I am currently on Delta flight 353 heading for Liberia, Costa Rica, scheduled to arrive a little before noon. Based on the hurdles leading up to this point, this is nothing short of miraculous. Starting yesterday, our journey thus far has looked something like this:

8:00 to 4:45 pm ~ Dominate work day in preparation for upcoming absence. Check, double-check, and confirm details.

4:45 to 5:10 pm ~ Leave office in absolute giddy frenzy to pick up Mere and catch our plane at 7:47. Hug, quickly shed professional outfit for travel clothes, load luggage, and marvel over the fact that we are, indeed, adventuring off to Costa Rica.

5:10 to 6:20 pm ~ Swing by and pick up Jax, who kindly chauffeurs us to the airport. Say sweet goodbyes and note that our flight has been delayed until 8:15. No biggie.

6:20 to 7:40 pm ~ Pass through security and find departure gate, then wander through airport in search of food and beverage. Learn that all eating facilities in the Memphis airport illogically close at 7:30, which prompts a hurried dinner order at Lenny’s.

7:40 to 8:30 pm ~ Dine on aforementioned Lenny’s, chatter about life, and note that flight has now been delayed to 8:35. Then to 8:45.

8:30 to 9:00 pm ~ Digest announcement that plane has now been delayed until 6:00 am the following morning, which is a bit of a nuisance but not immediately threatening, considering that we were expecting an 11 hour layover in Atlanta before our 9:50 am flight to Costa Rica. (Side note: Mere’s step-dad had hooked us up with an overnight hotel stay in Atlanta to make the layover more bearable, which now required cancelling). Immediately head to kiosk to discuss our options and book a flight to Atlanta for the following morning at 6:10. Receive voucher for overnight hotel stay in Memphis, $18 dollars in complementary airport food, and $200 credit towards a flight within the next year.

9:00 to 11:00 pm ~ Discuss options (stay at potentially sketchy Memphis hotel, attempt to sleep in the airport, taxi home, inconvenience someone for a ride, drive a rental car to Atlanta) with each other and loved ones (via numerous phone calls) before being lovingly coerced into letting Jax rescue us from the airport and return us before sunrise. Give thanks that I have the most wonderful boyfriend who willingly shuttles me to and from the airport at very inconvenient hours.

11:00 to 4:15 am ~ Sleep much better than we would have in an airport chair or questionable hotel.

4:15 to 5:00 am ~ Wake for round two. Silently pray that Delta comes through this time. Head to airport and say another round of goodbyes to sweet, loving, sacrificial, dependable Jax. Hope he has a good work day despite sleep deprivation.

5:00 to 6:10 am~ Go through the familiar security and gate finding drill again, trade food vouchers for Starbucks and fresh fruit, then board flight to Atlanta. Progress.

6:10 to 7:57 am~ Enjoy flight. Begin reading The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis, which is absolutely phenomenal. PHENOMENAL. I’m only roughly sixty pages in, and I can already tell you it is full of life changing food for thought. Read it.

8:57 to 9:51 am ~ Navigate our way through the Atlanta airport, use remaining food vouchers on delicious and nutritious breakfast burritos, then board flight to paradise. Life is good.

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Costa Rica Bound

In exactly one week from today, I will be boarding a plane to paradise with my good friend Mere. Costa Rica, more specifically, but it’s practically the same thing, so I use the words interchangeably.

I am SO EXCITED to embark on this adventure to arguably the happiest and greenest country in the world, which also happens to be the site of my next half marathon, the Gatorade Tamarindo Beach Half Marathon. I have been diligently training over the past eleven weeks, loosely following Hal Hidgon’s training prescription. I say loosely, because my life doesn’t operate according to any semblance of routine. My days, while well-planned in an effort to maximize productivity and activity, are always different. Some days I would wake up early to run before heading to the office, others I would run trails after work, and still others I would opt for the treadmill and bootcamp classes. My runs were scheduled and rearranged to accommodate evening and travel plans, but somehow, amidst all the chaos, training ensued, and I gradually increased my endurance and speed. Training is now close to culmination, and tomorrow night, Mere and I will tackle our last long run – ten miles – before race day.

Back to Costa Rica, and how this whole adventure developed. Since the beginning of our friendship, Mere and I have spent many hours discussing our dreams, and we dream big, and all over the map. A couple years ago when I was working at the florist, we had great plans to take on Europe, foiled only by the fact that I landed a great job that I just couldn’t pass up. Darn the economy! Maybe one day, Mere! Fast forward to this year, where we entertained many different ideas before stumbling across this amazing opportunity in Costa Rica. It wasn’t until I purchased the plane tickets that I believed we were actually going, and I still don’t think I’ve fully grasped the excitement of it all.

Somebody pinch me.

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