Second Chances, Riviera Nayarit Half Marathon and Solace in Mexico
When Riviera Nayarit race director Arturo invited me to come run the Medio Maratón Riviera Nayarit in Mexico, I felt like it was perfect timing - I had been wanting to go to Mexico, and after a long 5 years of working pretty much non-stop since moving to NYC, it was the best motivation to renew my passport. My friend Derek, run coach and trainer at ConBody, joined me, and we both embarked on a journey that was more than a race but also about new beginnings, second chances and long delayed relaxation.
Derek and I both had been through a lot in our 20s, and neither of us had left the country in 15 years (we are old haha). My last trip was when I followed my Irish roots, studying in Ireland in college, and Derek's was when he served in the U.S. military in Korea.
Since then, life happened. Derek had demons to confront with addiction, growing up bouncing from home to home and in the criminal justice system, and then a divorce. I had demons as well after a turbulent 20s spent trying to drink away sexual assault trauma and a downward spiral into abusive relationships and then divorce. Although my divorce was done in practice a few years ago, the official papers didn't come til this year, and getting my passport felt like the final icing on my happy new freedom cake.
So, Derek and I took off on an early flight out of NYC Thanksgiving weekend, new passports in hand, with excitement and trepidation, flying into the unknown.
In Mexico, Riviera Nayarit race director Arturo graciously welcomed us at the airport, took us to get our race bibs and shirts, and teased Derek about not knowing Spanish despite being half Puerto Rican. Later in the trip, we made a deal with our new friend that we will know Spanish by next year. Because after the scenic Riviera Nayarit Half Marathon, and an amazing, food- and sand-filled stay at Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta Resort, we are definitely returning.
Neither of us had ever stayed at an all-inclusive resort before, and, always the hungry runners, we definitely took full advantage of the open eating policy, stocking up on 2 to 3 plates per meal:). The food was delicious, with a great variety, and I think between Thanksgiving and the resort feasting, I carb loaded enough for at least 4 half marathons.
The day before the race, we got to check out the incredible beach nestled next to our hotel, unwinding in the sun amidst palm trees, peeling off layers of stress from NYC and past lives. Here we could just be, and enjoy the sound of crashing waves, the feeling of warm sand and a soothing sun.
On the morning of the race, Derek and I set out to have fun and see the beautiful palm-tree laden course. We loved the race shirts, with a colorful deer mosaic and Run Live Mexico! splashed across the back. I am picky about running shirts but I liked this one so much that it was one of the few times I've actually worn a race t-shirt in a race (though I took off my shirt the last few miles as the heat kicked in).
The race was so much fun! I hadn't run a half marathon in a long time (almost a year! Since Miami Half Marathon last January), and I was happy to be running injury-free and feeling relaxed on the beautiful, mostly flat course. Medio Maratón Riviera Nayarit winds around the many beautiful resorts in Riviera Nayarit, and had a supportive, fun vibe.
In fact, people on the course were so nice that the girl running behind me even sped up to bring me my unopened water packet that I accidentally dropped at Mile 10. I did not speak Spanish well (wait till next year;) and she did not speak English, so we ran together amicably, speaking a little Spanglish, for the next few miles. The course unraveled along rolling golf courses and palm tree-lined streets, with people cheering and volunteers offering water packets and Gatorade along the way. In my head I tried to calculate kilometers as I ran since the race was measured in 21 kilometers. My Garmin watch also indicated about where I was, although it was a bit off the first few miles.
Derek had just completed the JFK 50 Mile race the weekend before, and he ran like it was no big deal! We both finished happily in under 2 hours, and enjoyed lots of post-race snacks, including fresh fruit and lots of water.
The rest of the trip melted into a relaxing reverie between beach, pool and eating, with some inspiring convo with Derek, lots of relaxing, and a great dinner with Arturo.
I am very grateful for the chance to see such a beautiful place, for inspiring company and conversation, and a wonderful reset after a stressful several years (or decade haha). I left Puerto Vallarta renewed, refreshed and excited for the next stop in my journey: Mexico City.
Thank you to Arturo for getting the whole ball rolling on my trip to Mexico, for the warm welcome and generous hospitality, and for taking a chance on two crazy New Yorkers. We will be back next year, and I am excited to come with even more of the Runstreet Wolf Pack!
Save the date and RSVP on Facebook for the 10th annual Riviera Nayarit Half Marathon and 10K race, on Saturday, November 24, 2018.
More details to come.