I did get out to snorkeling. I then spent the afternoon with friends from Montreal. Helped with the tear down of the party villa. Off to dinner at the Indian restaurant. Standard vacation fair.
In the later evening I had a lovely conversation with the aforementioned Erin. We totally nerded out. It started when I noticed her robe had classic Star Trek support services insignia. (Same as Uhura.) What a great way to cap off a trip; discussing Star Trek and comics.
It was starting to wind down, but I still spent time with the people I knew. And I really appreciate the things they said to me. I am always unsure of myself, but it was nice to hear that I had done nothing wrong. Apparently Scottish people are just naturally cranky.
It was capped off by a run to the all night restaurant for hot dogs and hamburgers. I think I got to bed at around 4:30. I’m too old to do all-nighters now.
Normally I pick up duty free at the airport and get some liquor. All I got this time was some vanilla. This is because we had purchased too much alcohol for our party villa and I could just take some of the bottles. Score!
Now my only concern is that the stewardess asked if there were any medical professionals on board.
It is my second last day. I don’t know if I have wasted my time here. I have had fun, but I haven’t done nearly as many activities as I would have liked. For the most part it is so hot that a general lethargy takes over. I’ve even missed having my daily crepe twice in a row! Yesterday was especially bad with a mugginess that made all plans get delayed. And then when things finally started happening, the heavens opened up and there was a torrential downpour. That actually made things nice and cool for awhile. It did cancel the evening fireworks though.
I’m trying to see if I can find a hidden reserve of energy and finally go snorkeling. I don’t particularly like my chances.
The days are starting to blend together, so it is much harder to justify writing my journal. So I’m going to try and just save it for the more memorable events.
Two days ago our group went on an excursion. It was to a series of waterfalls. We had arranged out own guides instead of through the resort, so it was much cheaper and on out own schedule. And did not include any trips to tourist traps like plantations or historical museums. It wasn’t like Ocho Rios which is a big wide waterfall that is easy to walk up.
In this case we hiked for half an hour through forested trail. Nice and pleasant. We did hear the lowing of the “Dominican Elephant” aka the guide mooing.
We got to the first waterfall, and had to climb up a ladder. From that point on, we were in the creek for the rest of the way up. It wasn’t wide, maybe two meters tops. But you could tell it could be deeper. It had carved a deep channel, and sometimes I couldn’t feel the bottom. To get over some of the waterfalls the guides literally manhandled us up.
After seven waterfalls, we got as far as we could go. The trip back was slower though because it was more entertaining. We could slide down the waterfalls. The second last waterfall was where we hit “Happy Hour”. We could slide down, or jump down, or wuss out and take the ladder. Or we could slide, climb up and then jump. People who know me should know what I chose to do.
My new hero is a girl called Erin who didn’t know how to swim. She decided to slide down, and she was shaking for a minute as she psyched herself up. And then after she did it, she climbed the ladder and did the jump.
On the hike back, we came across an actual herd of cows with a bull. We took a few pictures that made it look like we were doing the. Running of the bulls before continuing ahead of them. A guide did the lowing sound of the “Dominican Elephant” and was pleased with himself. But I did enjoy the look of panic on his face when I turned back and said “Oh yeah, here they come.”
It was an exhausting day. I fell asleep on the drive back to the resort.
For dinner I went to the Mexican restaurant with some friends. We nearly passed out waiting for our food.
The days are starting to blend together now. But I find it is important to make time for crepes. Daily. Ice cream doesn’t have to be daily, but still try and fit it in. Probably for the best that there isn’t gelato.
I’m still having a tendency to overthink things, but I’ve drastically reduced my alcohol consumption. That won’t have helped. Our group has a nominal schedule, which has been getting in the way. There are so many things to do at this resort that it is like herding cats to get people in the right place at the right time. In fact, based off past history, it is impossible so we should stop trying. It goes better in the evenings, but not perfect. But since I’m on the schedule, I’m going to things where there is no one else.
I do get to say I had two beautiful women in my bed last night. And no one can take that away from me.
I just wish I wasn’t sleeping in another villa at the time.
For the fourth and fifth days, things were fairly organized, so it was easier to be able to relax. This has led to more eating.
There are a lot of complaints about the resort, but it is mostly about the workers. Overall, it is a nice place. There are a lot of amenities, and there are a lot of restaurants.
I was able to get away from the buffet for lunch, so I grabbed a friend and we went to “Oh, Crepes”. I downed five crepes in a short period of time; two of them were savory. Then after some socialization, we went off to a sushi bar. Then we concluded with the ice cream bar. Despite the amount of food, I still had a dinner at the buffet.
For that evening, I tried to recreate the experience of the previous night. Despite the weird state I was in, being uninhibited was very nice. However, I wasn’t able to recreate it entirely. Maybe the drinks were too spread out, or I didn’t have an empty stomach. Or maybe it was because I had gotten it out of my system.
What I did get was my very first hangover this morning. So today wasn’t as pleasant. It was probably exacerbated by lack of sleep. It was hard to get any after breakfast because people kept coming to the villa with issues. Things are starting to work out, but still a lot of incompetence. The gas gauges on the golf carts don’t work, so we ran out of fuel. Restaurant reservations don’t work because all of the villas in our group are under one name.
Today we went to the beach, and I did do some swimming. I wasn’t in the best shape for the socializing I was doing poorly. But four more crepes helped.
At the pool party we organized, I just took a nap for an hour. This may have caused me to get a bit of a burn, but it helped tremendously. So I’ve been getting better. I was even part of a performance that was done. I haven’t seen the pictures yet though.
Now I’m trying to get enough energy together for tonight’s party. I’ve gotten the need for uninhibitedness out of my system now. Less alcohol will be drunk.
On a odd note, I’ve noticed that whenever I feel socially awkward is when I start wanting to go for a run. I think there is a pattern there that I should watch for.
Last night got a bit weird. I noticed that I was getting angry over very minor concerns. This was probably due to lack of sleep. I did not like this attitude, so I focused a lot on not being angry. This had the inadvertent effect of making me start to overthink everything.
After an evening performance, I decided to self-medicate myself out of this state. Within a short period of time I had three to four alcoholic drinks. I’m guessing I must not have eaten a lot either because this hit me hard. In a fairly good way. I got very emotional and started confessing hopes and dreams to a good friend. They tried to cut me off shortly after that. Tried to, but I could tell the cup of juice wasn’t alcoholic because it didn’t taste bad.
However, that confession was very useful. I opened up and got a release. The rest of the night was great. I danced, was social, things were looking nice.
By three in the morning I was up for an expedition to the only place that had food at that hour. Three of us, the most sober, went and cleared out the stock of food available. We brought it to the others and then had our own private hamburger meal. And then bed.
So in conclusion, alcohol did help me loosen up. I think I want to try it again.
It wasn’t breakfast in bed, but it was close. I was up fairly late, but did have to get up earlier than I would have liked. It wasn’t too much of a problem because due my usual schedule, I tend to wake up with sunrise. The reason I was up was that the chef came over to our villa to make us all breakfast. I was the only one who was up, with my villa-mates appearing dead to the world, so I had to assume it was all for me. There was a lot of food too.
Fortunately, my villa-mates got up when they started smelling bacon. So we ate outside in the lovely weather. Then went for a soak in our swimming pool.
Then back to work. People had to be welcomed. Crisisis had to be averted. The resort’s motto is “We work for you.” But apparently we don’t have firing authority. For some of the staff, the process was more important than the people. When we ask them to do less work, they would rather inconvenience us with doing the wrong work.
It seems to be handled now. More friends are arriving. So we should be able to relax more. I should be getting ready for the party tonight. But it is nice to unwind a bit.
I’m getting a bit tired of the buffet that we go to for dinner. It is different every night (just had turkey) but there are a lot of commonalities. It is very convenient because you don’t need to reserve. The many other restaurants all need one. I did get a nice walk home because, due to scheduling, our golf cart went home without me. The walk made the resort feel smaller. I covered ground fast, when I’ve been comparing it to time spent driving in a vehicle. Golf carts aren’t cars, but there speeds are not comparable.
I don’t relax well on vacations. This is commonly known. So I spent most of the day helping the organizers organize. There was also the comedy of moving rooms multiple times. I checked out from the small hole-in-the-wall suite. But the villa I was supposed to move to wasn’t ready yet. So my luggage was moved to a temporary villa where the organizers were staying. Then when we had to leave that, we moved our luggage to the villa our group is using for parties. Then late in the afternoon, the final destination villa was ready and we moved the luggage there.
Did I neglect to mention that in the morning we went out grocery shopping for a copious amount of food and alcohol? So in a lot of those moves, groceries were involved.
I actually have yet to get to a beach. I’ll try and do that tomorrow.
But for now I’m having a good time with friends. I was actually surprised to find two people I know from Edmonton are here. I don’t know how I feel about this. Usually on these vacations I have no fear that anyone I know will take what they saw of me back to the real world. Now that is no longer a reliable assumption. True, these people travel in different circles than myself and they aren’t going to judge me. But I’ve already noticed I act a bit different when they are in the area.
Or maybe they will report only good things about me.
The resort is huge. I’ve heard it is three miles to circumnavigate it. I did some exploration while waiting for the organizer to arrive. I was able to find the ice cream bar. Basically, a Marble Slab that is free to use. This could be very dangerous.
The resort itself doesn’t seem to be very good at running things. We’ve had to wait long times for fairly simple requests. But I think there is a reason for that. Within the resort itself there is a concert going on by “Daddy Yankee”; someone I haven’t heard about before today. But apparently he is: A Big Deal.
On one of my wanderings when I got here it looked like a military coup was taking place. No, but he is famous enough for them to truck in the army to provide security. As a member of the resort I got to go into the concert. It was all in Spanish. And I felt like the token white guy. I was actually more interested in the remote drone they had providing birds-eye views of the performance. And the fireworks were nice.
I’ve had a good time reconnecting with old friends. I like these people.
But it is also very late and I should go to sleep now. I don’t know if it will be possible. The concert is still playing loud music. I think it is a closing act DJ, because they are playing dancified versions of eighties music.
I don’t know if this is going to be a “first to come, last to leave” situation, but in our group I was the first arrival. Since we are using a different resort, it isn’t as well organized. This was clear when there was no one to pick me up at the airport. I was thinking of waiting an hour and a half for the organizers to arrive. However I was suspicious of the guy holding up the sign with the organizer’s name. He had my flight information, and the correct number of people (1) so we got it sorted out.
Now I’m driving through the streets of the Dominican Republic. There are a lot of scooters here. They look like fun. I should try and get my scooter working again. The one I haven’t used in over five years.
Really I should do that anyway, even if I don’t intend to ride it. That will be a winter project. Not much I can do about that plan here.
It bothers me how little I feel about this trip. It is to the Caribbean! I should be excited. But no, nothing. I know I’ll have a good time once I get there, but today has just been another day. My coworkers were more excited than I was. I focussed on doing my job, and finishing up as much work before I left. Heck, I was the last one to leave the office and had to lock up.
Story of my life. My emotions don’t really surface in anticipation. It does mean less stress as I don’t worry about something I’m not thinking about. Although some stress would have made me pack sooner. Too much of it remained at the last minute.
Maybe it is because I hate airports? But I’m over the worst of it. My luggage is checked in, I just have to wait to board. I’ve taken something to make me sleepy so I should be able to sleep to Toronto.
I foresee no difficulties.
The human body is weird.
For quite some time after my ultra, I ate rather healthy. The junkiest thing I had was fried chicken immediately after the race, but that was mostly protein. Then, five days later, they brought in pizza to work. I had several slices of easy to digest carbohydrates and simple sugars. Apparently my body still hadn’t recovered from the run. Whether it was a blood-sugar spike, or just having a lot of calories, I became hyperactive. I was drunk on comfort food. Enough that I was reprimanded soon after.
I now have to avoid pizza if I am in public. I guess I will be eating healthier than I had first planned.
The amazing things is that I continually try and convince myself that after doing a 24 hour ultra, I can do things later that day. A year ago I entertained the thought of hosting a D&D game. This year I had pared it down to sending two emails. I couldn’t even do that. I can barely handle the drive home. After that it is eat and sleep. And the eat part usually requires more energy than I have available. Which leads to a bad feedback loop.
Needless to say, on Saturday I started the Iron Horse ultra-marathon. This is usually my last ultra of the season. And, although it is 160km, I think of it as an easier ultra. It is generally flat and fast. The cutoff times are liberal. There is no reason that I wouldn’t be able to finish it.
But 160km is 160km. That is not easy. Several things happened that made this harder than expected. This caused me to be the last place finisher for the second ultra in a row.
The firstly, there were changes to the course. Not hugely, but they replaced flat parts with hilly parts.
Next was my right eye. Soon after night fell, I noticed a halo appearing around the moon. I eventually figured out that my right eye was blurry. Eventually it became cloudy. Towards the end of the race, it was impossible to see anything out of it. Visions (no pun intended) of a detached cornea from my laser eye surgery from eight years ago surged through my brain. Thankfully, it got a bit better after I had taken a nap after the race. But I was probably not supposed to drive the two and a half hours back to Edmonton with one eye shut. After some calls, the theory was that my eye was just dry. So it was back to normal the next day.
I had gone into the race with a plan that I thought would help me break the 24 hour barrier. That was to eat continually. I had made protein balls, which are made of healthy things and peanut butter. I was going to eat one every hour. And also to drink my gels regularly too. It probably did help, but after 112km, bad things happened. My stomach was informing me it was hungry. I ate another protein ball and my stomach immediately rebelled. I had to stop running, and try to prevent myself from gagging. After a minute, my stomach realized it was still food and started digesting, but that was my last attempt at eating those. I may have done better if I had kept eating, but I couldn’t risk it.
The weather also added an interesting element. It was pleasant enough, even through most of the night. But then the moon set. (How often do you get to say that with regards to the weather?) It started getting foggy. Enough that I had to phone the organizers for help. This part of the course had changed, and I could not see the next flag. It took half an hour before someone could come and guide me and the next racer to catch up. Oddly, he didn’t plant more flags for the next victim. This may be why I was the last place finisher. We continued on, and promptly got lost again. Eventually we got to the next transition, mostly because it was lit up brightly, but some luck was involved too.
For the last leg though, the fog really rolled in. I knew the route, go north on the road, but I could only see five feet (not counting the bad eye) and when you can barely see, it is hard to go straight on a road. I continually weaved into and out of the grass. To top it all off, there was a four way intersection at one point. I could not manage going straight across it, and started heading east. Thankfully, I could look up at the stars and navigate by them. The truck driving alone was also able to provide directions.
Then came the part where I cheated.
The Iron Horse Trail is part of the Trans-Canada Trail. It is wide and easy to follow. It may be a bit gravelly, but it’s safe. A lot of the ultra is on it. Except for one part. After following the road north, it starts snaking down into the valley and connects to the Iron Horse Trail. But the ultra has you leave the road before that and go into the trees. For two kilometres you follow a snaky trail, with lots of potential for rolling your ankles, before you go to another part of the Iron Horse Trail. I got in for five minutes and in that time had lost the flags twice. I decided that it felt dangerous. I turned around, returned to the road, took it to the Iron Horse Trail, and ran along that, finding the flags 2km after.
I admitted my failure at the finish line. They didn’t care. So I have a time of about 26 hours and nine minutes. Slower than I wanted, but I still finished.
In about 12 hours I start the last ultra of the season, the Iron Horse 100 miler. I am disturbingly calm about this. Usually before an ultra there is some level of panic. Am I too confident? Let’s face it, 160 km is a long distance. It’s never easy. But there are no mountains and only one place where here is a chance of me getting wet. Unless I fall into the North Saskatchewan on leg five.
I’ve done this race before. I’m hoping to break 24 hours this time. I think I can do it. The key will be to eat continually and not get injured. I’ve got a good plan for the former. Unfortunately, I’ve already lost on the latter.
On Tuesday I may have over-strained myself moving my computer desk back into position. I felt fine on Wednesday. But Thursday I was in pain and had trouble bending. It’s better today, and I’m hoping it will be gone tomorrow.
The most interesting part of this injury is that on Thursday, my bladder was shrunk; if I drank any water I had to go to the bathroom for more than I drank. The last time that happened was a year ago, on leg 8 of this same ultra. That feels ominous.
Was the above too graphic? Maybe I should have left that out…
I’m going to sleep now.