February 11, 2009

Cruise to Run 2009

Jerry, Bart and Wallace Williams

Shoes for kids!

The ship in the background!

Wow, what a wonderful time my wife Jill and I had on the 2009 Cruise to Run! Jill and I flew from Austin to San Juan on Saturday, January 31, we arrived to our hotel around midnight and went right to bed. I woke early as my knee was not feeling the best and went for a nice walk along the ocean. Once Jill woke up we had a nice walk along the beautiful beach and found a nice place for breakfast. Once breakfast was over we walked around San Juan for a bit and then packed our bags and took a taxi to where our ship was docked.

I've never seen such a huge ship! It was over three football fields long and it weighed 113 thousand tons! That a ship that large can float is more amazing to me then how a plane can fly! Boarding the ship was very orderly and we got into our state room around 1 PM. The rooms on these ships are quite small but they were very nice. We were fortunate in that our room also had an outside balcony so it made the room seem larger.

Our hosts Jerry and Jody Friesen came by our room around 4pm along with Bart Yasso and his bride, Laura. I had only met Jerry a year earlier at the Toronto Marathon so it was wonderful to reintroduce ourselves and meet his wife Jody, they are wonderful people and were very excited to have us on board!

That evening we had a meet and greet with the rest of the Cruise to Run folks, over 300 in all! Besides myself and Bart, Lisa Bentley was also one of the invited speakers. I had the pleasure to meet Lisa and her husband Dave, great down to earth folks! Lisa and Dave are from Canada and she is a 11 time Ironman Champion!

We set sail that night at 11pm and were heading for Barbados. I had a patch I put behind my ear to prevent me from getting sea sick and it seemed to work. I have to admit though, there was very little rocking on this huge ship! We docked in Barbados early on Tuesday morning and Jerry and Jody had a wonderful very organized 5k race all planned. It was awesome with chip timing and a police escort along with the help of the local running club! All of us brought extra running shoes to donate to the local runners, many who can't afford running shoes. They greatly appreciated our donations! Because of my recent knee surgery I was unable to run but Jill did and I was there to cheer everyone on! It was very warm that morning but everyone had a wonderful time.

That afternoon we all took buses to a beautiful beach on Carlisle Bay, Lisa Bentley led everyone who wanted to on a half mile swim in the ocean, I bailed out on the swim as I'm not the best swimmer plus the water seemed a little chilly to me! That night Jill started not feeling well and unfortunately came down with a bad cold/flu and had to spend the next two and a half days in bed with a fever!

The ship had a beautiful fitness center so I was up bright and early each morning working out on the elliptical machine, stationary bike, weights, etc, working on rehabbing my knee. For me the worst part of the day was the night time. My knee would just throb at night and no matter what position I tried to get in I was very uncomfortable, if I got a couple hours of sleep at night that was pretty good! Each night I would wake around 1 or 2 am and go for a walk on the deck, it was very peaceful and the moving seemed to help my knee feel better.

Wednesday morning we docked on the island of St. Lucia and everyone had a beautiful 5 mile run to the Vigie Lighthouse. We also donated more running shoes and again they were greatly appreciated! After the runs in the morning, the rest of the day was free to do whatever we wanted, many folks went on extra excursions or just hung out on the ship and enjoyed the 5 swimming pools that were on board!

Wednesday evening, Lisa gave her talk to the group and it was very inspiring! She is an incredible athlete who has competed in triathlons around the world, but she and her husband Dave, are as down to earth people as you will find anywhere!

Thursday morning we docked on the island of Antigua, and everyone that wanted to ran around the harbor and past beaches to Fort Barrington and a climb to the top with a incredible view of the bay! We also were asked to bring a book to donate to the Antigua Public Library, it was amazing seeing the hundreds of books donated to their library, runners are some of the most giving people I know!

Thursday afternoon we took a bus to a beautiful beach where we all enjoyed the ocean and some of the runners did a "Hash Run" set up by the local running club. A hash run is a non-competitive run with blobs of paper set out for the runners to follow on a trail. There are false trails set and runners are redirected. Everyone had lots of fun.

Thursday evening it was my turn to give my talk, my talk went very well and I so enjoy speaking to runners, they are already so motivated, it makes my job that much easier!

Friday morning we docked at the island of Tortola and everyone was excited about the run up to Fort Charlotte. It's a run out and back for a total of about 6K but there is a climb of 947 feet that is at a 25% grade! Jill and I were stationed about 3/4 of the way up to cheer everyone on, everyone made it! Jill was feeling a little better and we got to enjoy some time together on the beach. Friday evening my good friend Bart Yasso of Runner's World Magazine gave his talk which is a very funny slide show presentation of some of the many races Bart has been to around the world.

Saturday morning was our final port before heading back to San Juan. We landed in beautiful St.Thomas and we all headed out for a 5K prediction run. Some of the local runners from St.Thomas were there to run with everyone including three Virgin Island Olympians! Wallace Williams, the first athlete to represent the Virgin Islands in international competition in 1979 and 1988 Olympian, Marlon Williams, a four time Olympian in the 5k, 10k, and the marathon, and Calvin Dallas who represented the Virgin Islands at the 1988 Olympics and holds the Virgin Island Marathon record of 2:27.

Saturday evening Jill and I enjoyed a great meal with Jerry and Jody, Mike and Helen, and Bart and Laura.

Sunday morning when we awoke we were at the dock in San Juan where we started from. Jill and I departed the ship at 8:15 am and took a taxi to the airport for our trip back home to Austin.

We can not thank Jerry and Jody enough for inviting us along on this wonderful trip! It was wonderful to meet so many fine people on board and we wish you all the best!

Jill and I look forward to our "Cruise to Run" trip next January, we hope you can join us for a fabulous time!

Here are all of the photos from the trip!

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