The week before I left for the Grand Caymans, it was 8 degrees for a day or two. Yes, you heard that correctly, 8 degrees. One morning when I awoke, it actually said the words "feels like -3" on my weather app. I looked at it, did a double take, and got my swim gear on to trek out to the car (which would barely start) to fire it up and head to the pool. Winter in PA isn't for the faint of heart. It hurts your face, cracks your skin and generally, is somewhat miserable. When I heard about a chance to get a break from the cold and do a race which contributes to a great cause in January, I was on it like white on rice.
Fellow pro triathlete, Lisa Roberts, was kind enough to reach out the end of 2014 to provide all the details. She was a wonderful ambassador last year for Mercuryman, and soon after, the race director, Trevor Murphy, also reached out. The best part was that the proceeds of this event go directly to the Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation which advocates equality for women and young girls, along with many other areas. What I found surrounding this event, was a very tight knit group of individuals who love the sport of triathlon and enjoy empowering each other to do great things. It was fairly small, so everyone was cheering for each other and obviously, many of them knew Estella. This was a perfect way to honor her legacy and raise money and awareness for the charity. Please take a moment to click on the link and learn a bit more about the cause.
This scenic half would take place on the Grand Caymans touring around the East side of the Island for the bike course and then transition to a three loop run course that was very spectator friendly.
My good friend, Alyssa, was also pretty excited about getting out of the cold so we packed our bags and made a run for it! A short plane ride to Miami and then a final leg with a little over an hour to Grand Cayman and we were there!
Photo Credit: Jason Lentzke
You know it's a low key race when you and your "fellow competitors" are chatting in transition! After the swim, Charisa and I talked about how amazing the water was and then headed out on our bikes virtually together. There was almost no wind so this flat course was set up to be fast! I enjoyed just riding outside again for the first time in months. It was really just a chance to go hard and practice the getting the execution right again. I didn't worry much about my watts or heart rate. I just focused on how I felt and having fun on this long training day!
What I found out very shortly after starting is that 8 degrees in PA doesn't prepare your body well for 80+ degrees and humidity! I'm especially heat sensitive so this was a long hard run. I wanted to walk many a time, but I knew with every step I would gain more fitness and I wanted to honor the race and my fellow pros by giving it my all! It wasn't pretty, but it got done!
After the race, we all got right in the cool water and laughed and visited! It was a wonderful low-key celebration of empowering women and athletes all out there doing their best!
I hung out with Flat Stanley a bit since Alyssa brought him along in her bag (he travels well being flat and all).
On Monday, it was off to Stingray City on a glass bottom boat! The water was just breathtaking! Photo Credit: Rafael Goncalves
Our guide was fine with giving them a smooch. Me, not so much!
On Tuesday, we headed to Seven Mile Beach, which is labeled as being one of the top ten beaches in the world. The sand is so incredibly soft and the water was fantastic. With a final meal with our group, we ended a simply perfect trip. I didn't even get sunburned which is a miracle of sorts considering my pale white skin at this time of year.
The Reef Resort was a spectacular host to this event and our group. They had every amenity we needed and our room was clean, comfortable and the staff went above and beyond. I highly recommend this resort if you are traveling to this part of the world. I also liked that this side of the Island was a bit more quiet and not at all crowded. It made the whole experience more relaxing.
I can't thank Trevor, his girlfriend Claire, the Reef Staff and Volunteers enough for being the hosts for this race and treating us like family. It was truly one of my best race experiences thus far! If you are looking for a race early season to do next year, this is a great choice for so many reasons. It reminded me of all the things I love about triathlon and why I first got into the sport. In just three weeks, I'll be off to QT2 Pro camp so this was a perfect way to get the ball rolling!
As always, I couldn't do this without the support of my sponsors
And a couple more will be added to this list shortly for 2015!