active week

I've just completed one of the most active weeks of my adult life.  I've always tried to incorporate exercise into my typical routine, but this week took it to a different level for me. In a week that included running, basketball, and kitesurfing, I'm pretty thankful that Cayman is recognizing Remembrance Day with a 3-day weekend on Monday, allowing me to recover!

Here's the evidence of what I was up to:


It's no secret that N has caught the kitesurfing bug, watching like a hawk for any opportunity to get out on the water, even for an hour. We have lots of friends that kite along with him in Barkers National Park, and at the risk of getting left out of this addicting sport, I decided to sign up for lessons. This week I had my first two 2-hour sessions. N was around to snap a few photos of my first day in the water with a 7.5m kite, half-length lines, and no board. Baby steps!

Learning how to launch the kite from the water.

Practicing holding the kite at 12 (o'clock).

Attempting to softly land the kite on the water.
 The first day was purely fundamentals: Safety features, setting up the lines, reading the wind, launching, landing, steering, etc. My favorite activity was body surging, which required me to dive the kite from left to right, creating a pull on my body (while lying flat in the water), which would catapult me forward. Kinda like a dolphin. Well, I'd like to pretend it was as graceful as a dolphin. The surges were powerful enough that my booties flew off once or twice! But leaping through the water was pure fun.

I like the photo above, because it shows how much concentration is required (for me) when kiting. It seemed like no matter what else might be going on in life, I couldn't think about anything but steering that powerful kite. Job? What job? My job is being attached to this kite. Such therapy.

My second lesson was admittedly not quire as fun, since I learned to self-rescue (basically turning your kite into a sail on the water's surface and riding it back to shore) and how to get up on the board. I can't say I've actually been on top of the board for more than 1.3 seconds, and I accomplished enough face plants to elicit laughter from the instructor, but I guess this is the kitesurfing version of "paying your dues". Hopefully I'll gain more poise and control in future sessions.


The last time I mentioned basketball, our game got rained out less than five minutes after it began. After a couple October rain-outs, we were looking at make-up games in addition to regularly-scheduled games. This week we played two nights in a row. I took my camera to the second game to capture a few snaps.

Here's RO, getting low on defense. My favorite part of the photo are the three little figures on the upper right - his wife and two young boys, one of which proudly shouted, "Go Daddy!" during the game. You don't get a much better cheering section than that!

Here we have N and B double-teaming. I love B's stance - nothing is getting through that brick wall.

The other team had a super tall guy, and I realize this next photo shows off that strength, but I'm loving AK's box out! Not bad for a South African girl who has only played three games of basketball to date.

B, N, and R watch/coach/shout from the sidelines.
Trust me, I did play, despite no photographic evidence of such. N has promised to be more diligent in the future. In his defense, the game was a nail-biter.


The Cayman Islands Half Marathon - the current bane of my existence - is fast approaching. In three weeks' time, this event will finally be over, and I can cease these ever-increasingly long runs on the weekends.

Sorry to whine, but I'm just a bit over it all. I still like the convenience and cheapness of running, but I'm not enjoying the pressure of a big event to push me to run farther and farther. Let's just say I'm an internally motivated person, and this external motivation is getting on my nerves.

But. All that being said, my internal motivation prevents me from quitting, so longer and longer runs are a part of my weekly routine. Last Sunday, I was up before the sun for a 9-mile run which took me from Governor's Harbor to Paradise Bar/Restaurant in George Town and back. Fortunately, runs at this time of day allow me to see the likes of this: 

Despite finding hardly anyone on the roads at that time of day, a co-worker apparently spotted me mid-run, because at work he asked me, "What were you doing running at stupid o'clock in the morning?" My response was something along the lines of, "Trying not to get seen by anyone I know!" Oh well.

This weekend's run was on Saturday night - a ten-miler with N (who hasn't run for two weeks.) He is a fair-weather/convenience-based/last-on-the-list/oh-wait-N-has-no-list kind of runner. However, he always finds the energy and endurance to muscle through.

But I don't want to end this post on a down note. Just when I was getting to my limit and really wishing I could abandon my running shoes forever, two things swung in my favor:

1. The weather.
For those of us who have lived in Cayman for a year now, we are for the first time fully appreciating the seasonal shift that November brings to the island. The outdoor temperatures and humidity had become nearly unbearable during June through August. We were away for most of September, and October brought weeks of solid rain. But suddenly, it was November 1st, and the humidity broker, the trade winds returned, and the temps hovered in the 80s rather than the 90s. Although the Caribbean doesn't experience the four seasons of the Northeast U.S., once you've been here a year, you understand what a difference even a few degrees will make. This has led to runs that are less-grueling, and I'll be the last one to complain about a headwind while running; at least there is wind. If this weather pattern keeps up through the marathon in three weeks, I think that even our U.S. friends flying in for the event will enjoy the conditions.

2. The annual Pirates Week 5K 
Last year, I ran in this event as my first race on the island in preparation for the Cayman Islands Marathon relay.  I decided to run it this year a bit more competitively than before, just to challenge myself and see what time I could muster. I practiced running a 5k once before the race, finishing in just under 26 minutes. That was faster than I'd ever run a 5k before, so I signed up, hoping race-day adrenaline would allow me to finish in 25 minutes (8:03 minutes/mile).

I started the race way too fast (something like 6.5 minutes/mile), and almost lost my steady breathing from the start. I slowed down a bit, trying to stay ahead of the required 8:03 average, using my Garmin as a guide. I noticed that although I was getting passed, most of the passers were male. Seemed like a good sign.

The race went well but was fairly painful, as I never run to sustain anything faster than 9-minute miles. I just kept telling myself, "It's just 25 minutes. No big deal." I had a couple stomach-lurching moments, but held it all together. When I crossed the finish line, my watch (unofficially) had my time at just under 25 minutes. Victory! Or so I hoped.

I stuck around after the race finished, since one of the perks of the event are the random prizes given away (like $50 gift cards to restaurants or free snorkel trips, etc.) I perceived that the race was not well-attended, so I figured my chances of winning were pretty good.

But I didn't win. I almost left immediately before they handed out the awards for each age/gender category, but I figured I'd last a few more minutes. When they got to my category, I was quite shocked to hear my name being called out for third place! I've never placed in an athletic event in my life ever before! I was tickled pink.

I headed off to recover my car, running into WH on the way. For those of you who know W, you'll believe me when I say that he let loose his famous yell when he saw my little trophy. That excited reaction was exactly the post-race celebration I needed. I know he doesn't read this blog (despite my chiding), but  I just have to say a big thank-you, WH, for the huge high five during my pseudo victory lap in George Town.

For posterity's sake: My official time was 24:52. A personal record!

And now. I'm going to go take a nap. I don't know how N keeps this kind of schedule on a regular basis!


  1. Wow - you are truly amazing, Jenn! Great time on that 5k! I love the pictures of you kite-surfing! I'm so proud of all the things you are taking on and accomplishing! You are becoming quite well-rounded in the athletic department ;) So, you GO, Girl! :D

  2. Hahahaha!! I can TOTALLY picture Wes and his yell!!
    Congrats on your (and even more exciting, your trophy!!). If I'd bumped into you I would have joined you in a victory dance!!

  3. Meant to say, " congrats on your TIME"