A Freelance Writer’s Life Abroad: Inside Peek at My Life as an American Living in Negril, Jamaica for a Year, Part XXIII

Last year, I did the Reggae Marathon here in Jamaica and just never got around to posting the pics. So as I’m about to embark on this adventure again tomorrow, I thought I’d share what I’ll be seeing/going through as you’re probably tucked snug in your bed.

FYI, there are links to tons of pics from this event at the end of this post. Note: Also, this post contains affiliate links. Read the site’s affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

Reggae Marathon: Thoughts from a Participant

The race starts at 5:15 am. Last year, I’d gone out drinking the night before (never a good idea) and didn’t get to bed until about 1 am. I had to be up at 3:30 in order to get a cab to the bus park, which takes race participants to the starting line.

I met these guys the night before at the annual feast they have for participants (photos below). Good thing I did because I was living in my house up on the Cliffs at the time, which is about 7-9 miles away from the race start line. The race is down at the beach and remember, it was like 3:30 in the morning that I was out and about to take a cab.

Luckily, these guys were staying at Negril Escape, a mere stone’s throw away from me. So, I hooked up with them to wait for a cab to pick us up. Now, I’m not a “scary” type of girl at all. I’ve travelled all over the world by myself, but it would not have been wise to be waiting for a cab at this time of the morning all by myself – in race gear no less (tight running pants). So it all worked out.

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DSC02050Anyhoo, we got to the place where we were to take the bus which was taking us to the starting line of the race. The main road was closed off, so you couldn’t just hop a cab directly to the start of the race line. You HAD to be on one of the race buses. Or, if you were in one of the hotels on the beach, you could have just walked to the start of the race line.

Good thing we left early because the buses were packed, it took forever for them to come and some people didn’t make it to the start of the race line in time for the race. I still saw people walking to the race line while I was on one of the last buses to get there. And I JUST made it; the race started about 15 minutes after I got there.

And not for nothing, these guys I was with literally pushed us onto the bus (sometimes, it’s good to have good ole male brawn available).

I learned my lessson from last year’s experience, so I”ll be leaving early enough to get to the race starting line in good time tomorrow morning.

Reggae Marathon: And They’re Off!

As soon as the race started, I had to pee! If you’re a runner, you know that it’s soooo frustrating when you have to pee and you’re running. For me, it ruins the experience. I was glad this happened early though because there weren’t a lot of port-a-potties along the route. I found one within the first mile or so and did my thing . . .

BUT, some guy opened the door on me while I was pulling up my pants – revealing my nether regions to a line of other runners waiting to pee.

Good thing it was still dark, or I would have been even more embarrassed. I think the gentleman was as mortified as I was. “How come I didn’t lock the door?” you may be thinking. Because it was dark and I couldn’t find the latch.

So, I tried to hold the door while peeing at the same time. Damn near impossible because the toilet is too far from the door, so you either pee on yourself or the floor, or you hope no one opens it while you are peeing. Another option – grow longer arms!

The race was basically uneventful. I finished in under 2.5 hours (pic of my finishing time is below) – not a great time, but not the worst either.

Running Marathons: My Goal

My goal when I run a marathon is to finish without stopping or walking. It didn’t happen with the last full one I just did in Atlanta this past October (yeah, two marathons in just under six weeks!) — and that was a first for me, which let me know I’m too old for full marathons (26.2 miles).

From now on, I’ll just be doing halves; that’s enough to keep me motivated to stay in training all year long, without worrying about killing myself having to train for a full one.

Why Every Runner Should Do a Full Marathon – At Least Once, IMO

If you’re a runner, I definitely advise doing one full marathon (I’ve done two). I love running – have been doing it for almost 30 years. This will be my 9th marathon, but the training it takes to prepare for a full one is more than I can handle with my schedule – my performance in this last one proved that to me. It’s too much pressure all year long. So I’ve decided to stick to halves.

As I said though, if you’re a runner, you should definitely do a full one – just to test yourself – to see if you can “go the distance,” as they say. No matter how you perform, I promise you, you won’t regret it. Every time I look at my full marathon medals, I’m reminded of what I CAN DO – if and when I put my mind to it.

Reggae Marathon: The Lovely Experience After

One of the things I love about the Reggae Marathon are the free massages after (again, pics below). They set up these tables and runners just line up to get 2-3 minute massages after. Now, while that may not seem like a long time, TRUST ME, when you’ve run in the heat of the Jamaican sun, ANY type of massage after is like heaven. I feel asleep in that short amount of time.

It was pure bliss.

Reggae Marathon Party

Where the marathon ends is this park on 7-Mile Beach; I think it’s called Long Bay Beach I. It’s right on the ocean, of course, and there are bands, free fruits and drinks (eg, coconut water), medal ceremonies – and generally happiness.

Also, as a runner your time is posted pretty quickly. You have to “lightly” push and shove your way to the board to see your time. Many participants take photos of their times posted there, so that’s why you have to kind of elbow your way through.

Or, you can wait and see it online.

As I was living on the Cliffs, I walked along the beach back to my rented cottage. Yep, after running 13.1 miles, I walked another 7-9 back to my cottage. I was sore, but the day was so beautiful and the main road where I could have caught a taxi was closed off. So, as I had to walk a few miles back to the “taxi stand” anyway, I’d hit my stride by then and just felt like walking.

I showered, took a long nap when I got home – and went out to my favorite bar that night, Natural Mystic Bar. Susan, the owner, has become a good friend – and I’ve practically adopted her 4-year old daughter (truly the love of my life here in Negril).

Reggae Marathon: My Journey Tomorrow

So, that will basically be my day tomorrow. I was finished with the marathon and hanging out by 9:30 a.m., so I still had the full day to do what I wished. Tomorrow, I will be coming back to my hotel, showering and going back down to the beach to hang out the entire day. I haven’t had a chance to do nearly as much of that as I’ve wanted to this trip, which means . . .

I’ll be back to Jamaica soon – maybe even once more before the SEO writing seminar here in April.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this entry, and if you ever want to do the Reggae Marathon it’s given you some insight into what to expect.

Reggae Marathon Pictures

Getting ready to go pick up reggae marathon packet.

Legs don’t fail me now!

Marathon wrist bracelet to get into night-before festivities.

Registering for the race; picking up race packet (I actually registered online, but had to go to the hotel to pick up the race packet; it’s like this for all marathons that I’ve entered.)

Yep, it’s the REGGAE MARATHON (in case you’ve somehow bumped your head and forgotten) 🙂

Bag all your race gear comes in (eg, t-shirt).

Registration/gear pickup complete — now where’s that food!

Crowd shot of night-before-race party.

Veggie pasta — yum scrum! (yeah, this food is free — and plentiful!). Marathon runners are always advised to “carbo load” the night before. It gives you more energy while running — what better excuse to pig out on pasta (and other carbs), no?

Guys I met at night-before party; this is at 4 am (waiting for taxi to take us to starting race line bus).

Taxi dropped us off; now we’re waiting to board the bus. The Christmas lights are b/c it was 12/3 and the main “roundabout” area in town was decorated.

Another shot of the Christmas decor of the “town square” (aka “The Roundabout“).

A vehicle I hoped I wouldn’t need!

Race morning at the starting line.

Another shot of race morning at the starting line.

Yet another shot of right before the start of the race (yeah, it’s still dark when we start running).

My race number.

After the race; at the park where the festivities were held.

After-the-race festivities.

Discarded coconut shells; coconut water is VERY popular here — especially after strenuous activity.

After the race; exhausted but elated. I did it — I finished!

A girl can never have too many shots of her and her marathon medal!

The massage tables I was telling you about earlier. Sheer heaven!

There was a line at the massage tables — obviously!

Musicians and their equipment — all a part of the festivities of the day.

Race participants — and their friends — on the beach right after the race. Red Stripe (the national beer of Jamaica) time, indeed!

Local vendors set up to sell stuff, of course.

7-Mile Beach — just beyond where the massage tables and marathon festivities are taking place.

Hitting the beach for the trek home after the race. It was a lovely, accomplishment-fulfilled day.

My official race time. Reggae Marathon; Negril, Jamaica; December 3, 2011.

Have a great weekend!

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