Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Who is Joanne and is she to blame for this running problem???

I don’t intend to go into to any detail explaining who Joanne is as she would likely prefer a bit of anonymity especially when it comes to some of my better ideas like running across Cuba!!

Equally though, since her name will pop up from time to time I think it is only fair that readers know a bit more about the brains behind the team.

Joanne and I were married in May 1991. Our time together has been an amazing journey and I consider her as much my one and only best friend as my spouse.

 Hiking Gros Morne Mountain Newfoundland. August 2011

Our link to running occurred during the winter of 2010 when we decided to take our second Cuba trip. This time we planned for two week in the south east tourist area of Guardalavaca near Holguin. Joanne had been running for about a year or so at this point and convinced me that I should bring along my running shoes. We both had concern about my ability to just enjoy doing nothing while at a beach (so I guess along with being a bit OCD I am also hyperactive), so running would provide a bit of a reprieve from possible boredom – aka more than 30 minutes sitting in the sun on a beach chair. We also agreed that morning runs would be a way to offset the liquid and food components of two weeks at an all-inclusive.

 Resort grounds - Cuba 2010

Our resort was the Sirenis Playa Turquesa and was nestled into the side of a small hill. The layout of the resort allowed for an enjoyable 30 minute run in a figure eight pattern. Our first run together was less than enjoyable for both of us. Joanne had to adjust her normally fast pace to slow and I had to run. At the time I was carrying a lot more weight than I now have so this probably played into the run not being as comfortable as I would have liked. On a subsequent morning Joanne went out for a run alone, I claimed a sore leg or something like that to get out of the run. But for whatever reason we ran again and then one afternoon I went out alone along a dirt cart trail and that is when it hit me; running was fun and interesting. I was hooked.
Joanne and I continue to run together and while I normally prefer running alone I enjoy the time we go out and run trails or roadways. She is still a lot faster than me but I do try and keep up. In 2013 we hope to compete in the Kingston Self Transcendence 6hr race together. While we have different goals, the less the 1km circuit will allow us to see each other and run a few laps together during the event. My hope is that Joanne reaches a marathon distance during the event which will mean I not only have a great short distance running partner, who often drags me along, but will have a new long distance training run partner. I can only hope that the longer distance results in her slowing down a bit. Oh well I guess I would be happy with a Boston Marathon jacket that says “runners spouse’ on the back as I know I will never qualify but she might!!!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Timelines and Misc - Answering the 'When'

A few basic bits of info need to be set out from the start. The first and probably something that could have been in the first post is the answer to the following..."When is this going to happen?" Well there is no specific date but the plan is to do this run the last year I work prior to retirement....yes, yes I know I am too young!!! But seriously the big five 0 is around the corner and I am really hoping to retire before my 55th  birthday. So that would mean the anticipated run will occur in 5 or so years or sometime around 2018 or 2019. Five years is a good distance away but at the same time the planning for this type of event along with the necessary training makes the 5 year goal almost perfect for me to plan. Added to all this is also the unique political environment in which the run is to be held. I cannot expect Cuban authorities to embrace the idea of this run with the level of enthusiasm I may have so I will plan on taking at least two years to deal with the Cuban bureaucracy in obtaining any necessary authorizations and/or permits. I hope to begin this work sometime in 2016.

So why the year before I retire. Well that is easy. By then I will be at the 6 week mark for allotted vacation time, plus if the current work situation stays as is, I will also have a fair bit of unused vacation and overtime to burn off prior to retiring. Additionally I will look at it this a year or so I will be retired so essentially on permanent vacation, therefore why not get used to the time off. Also you may have noticed in the first blog that my start and end points were national parks. I want to use my love and support of these special places and my employment with Parks Canada prior to retirement as a link to bring Cuba's National Parks to others interested in the natural environment.

Running along the Malecon - Havana 2011

In addition to this blog being a way of following the process involved in an attempt such as this, I have also had a long standing interest in travel writing. So as a product of the run I hope to publish a book along with magazine articles which will be a record of the planning and undertaking of the run across Cuba, the beauty and importance of Cuba's National Park System and a way for people outside Cuba to see a world beyond the confines of the all-inclusive resort (such as Cayo Coco, Cayo Santa Maria, Varadero). This blog will be a draft for the first few chapters of a book and act as marketing tool in securing sponsorship and possible funding support for the run.

So stay tuned much more to come.

In upcoming blogs "Why run Cuba", "The proposed route" and "Who is Joanne". 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Journey Begins

In March of 2009 Joanne and I made our first international trip together. After some debate on location we settled on the Island of Cuba. To accommodate our respective travel interests and to limit any potential negative culture shock we decided on, what is refereed to by the travel industry, as a 'split', three days in the capital of Cuba, Havana and 4 days in the tourist area of Varadero.
 It had just rained as we landed and the air was sweet and clean

It did not take long but shortly after landing I began feeling what could almost be termed love at first sight. The one and a half hour drive from Varadero airport to Havana was filled with sights, sounds and smells that were new and strange yet somehow comfortable and familiar.

First views of Havana - From stairs of the Capitolo Building

Three days of exploring left us both wanting more but the second part of the vacation required our leaving Havana for Varadaro. As we left the city of Havana I knew we would be back. I just did not know at the time that I would one day embark on the planning and eventual undertaking which is the focus of this blog.

Before moving forward with further recollections which have led to this point I think it would be important to set out what the blog is about and its ultimate purpose. So this blog is not a travel blog of trips to Cuba...well not entirely. Using past and future trips will help with the picture I am hoping to draw but are simply a means to an end. What this blog is meant to do is document the journey in planning and preparing for a once in a lifetime adventure; running the entire length of Cuba from Parque Nacional Peninsula de Gunanahacabibes in Pinar del Rio Province to Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt in Guantanamo Province, a total distance of over 1800km's, in a period of less than 30 consecutive days. 

Now that I have said it and it is down on paper so to speak, the journey begins.

These next few blogs which I will publish intermittently over the next months will capture the who, what, where, when and why as well as the how. They will also explain some of my history with Cuba and set a picture of my thinking that has led to this point. I also want to devote a bit of time talking about someone whose name will pop up on occasion and has been and continues to be my best friend and partner for life, my wife Joanne, who I know probably hoped that this silly idea was just another in a string of silly ideas that I blurt out from my mouth on occasion. Joanne's role in all this will be her level headedness and reasoned approach to things, two particular personality traits that I seem to misplace on occasion. 

So save this URL on your web browser, sign up for updates, share this site with family and friends and stay tuned for an exciting journey.