Monday, January 25, 2010

Cruise to Run - St. Thomas

Today we were in St. Thomas. Our first official run was a `prediction run` where the goal was to predict your finish time for the 5k run. It was here that I got a good grasp of the scale of the Cruise to Run. They had a school steel drum band to provide music at the start. We had chip timing. A local girl`s school did a water stop along the route. We had police there to allow us to start up the blocked-for-race roads safely. Representatives of the St. Thomas tourist authority were there to welcome us, and we bought shirts (or made donations) to support the local running club. A lot of things for Jerry and Jody to organize and hope everything shows up as scheduled well in advance of the run.

The run was hot, as you`d expect, and it certainly wasn`t flat, which made hitting the prediction time a bit more challenging. I had predicted that I`d go out and back at a bit slower than `marathon pace` -- so I targeted a 26:10 finish. As I was coming up to about a kilometre left to go, I asked the gentleman next to me what his target time was. When he said something in the 23 minute range, I knew I was too fast and slowed right down. My finish time was 25:13 -- just 57 seconds faster than I`d predicted. But the highlight for that run was that I came in just in front of Dick Beardsley! Now, to be fair, this was a `prediction` run, so we weren`t trying to go our fastest -- just our most consistent and predictable pace. And Dick was coming off knee surgery plus a slough of injuries over the past 25 years that we`d hear about later. But it still felt good to see his name next to mine in the results!

Jenny had predicted 28:35 but was slower by about a minute and a half. Jed and Cathy ran together about a minute and 20 seconds faster than they had predicted. But Ann, whom we had met the day before in San Juan, was just 1 second off her predicted time and won the race!

That afternoon we walked into the town of Charlotte Amalie -- about a 40 minute (fast) walk from the cruise ships. We wandered around the straw market in the city centre, and then toured back on one of the side streets past all of the diamond and duty-free shops. I picked up a 13 oz. bottle of Johnny Walker scotch for my room (keeping it in my pants pocket as I went through security on the ship) for just $6.50. Scotch and other liquors were quite a bargain there -- even compared to the duty free shops at the Canada-US border. Unfortunately, we`d already purchased our limit on the way into the U.S. Next time, we`ll purchase while on the trip itself.

We had two beers that day. Jed and I each had a Caribe (sort of Corona-ish), brewed in the Dominican Republic, while we walked around the straw market. And then we had a Red Stripe (brewed in Barbados) at Jumbie`s Bar, located at the cruise line docks. Again, only $2 for a beer -- but the best part of that bar was their Marguerita ($4) into which they poured an ample amount of Tequila. Jenny, Cathy and I each had one.

We had supper in one of the table-service restaurants that night. I had to change out of my shorts and had neglected to bring any long pants, so I borrowed a pair (for the week) from Jed. The food throughout the trip was excellent, as was the service.

That night, the ship had left St. Thomas at around 6 pm so once we were in international waters, the casino opened up. I went there around 8:30 pm and was back in our state room by around 9 pm -- another $185 dollars richer from black jack. I couldn`t do anything wrong!

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