Last month Courtney visited Seeds of Literacy in Cleveland Ohio to speak with students, tutors and staff - check it out here!
BAGAN TEMPLE MARATHON RACE REPORT
The Bagan Temple Marathon took place on November 24, 2018 in Bagan, Myanmar. It has been more than a year since my last marathon in South Africa and I was nervous to participate in this one due to the heat, injury fears and lack of training. This was my third continent finish! The funds raised through Runucate were donated to Seeds of Literacy located in Cleveland, Ohio. The next marathon is on Easter Island - home of the mysterious Moai statues. The country of Burma was one of the most respectful, peaceful and beautiful places I have ever traveled to.
“Tucked away in central Myanmar, the ancient site of Bagan is the location of the newest Adventure Marathon. Home to more than 2,000 temples, Bagan's beauty and historical significance is unsurpassed. Sacred pagodas and beautiful temples are scattered across the plains of Bagan creating a mystical, stunning landscape. The marathon course takes runners on a voyage of discovery into this alluring and untouched land” - Marathon Tours
The Bagan Temple Marathon starts and finishes at Htilominlo Temple, built in 1211 and known for its fine plaster carvings. There are thousands of pagoda and temples in this region. Many were damaged during the earthquake of 2016.
At 1-21km, I turn right after the Dhammayakiza Pagoda at the 11km mark and then continue on towards New Bagan, but instead of entering New Bagan, I continue onto a sandy path and enter what feels like a different realm. The course takes me on a journey of discovery. I saw ox carts laden with grain plodding on the sandy track and there are farmers working in their rice and peanut fields. There were also were many locals decked out in their festive clothes waiting to say hello and gave me many of flowers. I held onto many of these flowers until the finish line. It felt like time has been standing still in this remote corner of the world.
At 22km, I entered the beautiful Nyaungdo village. The surface is a dirt road and the course continued onto a dam with the view to the right of a stunning mountain-top pagoda, Tuyin Taung Pagoda. To the left, the palm-fringed fields lie below and the spires of Bagan’s temples shimmer in the distance.
26-30k, continuing on an asphalt road which was not closed off to traffic. The route continued onto a dirt road and through the fields until another village was reached. The course goes through East Pwazaw village where the locals were outside their homes and cheering us on along and giving us hand picked flowers! This was a small village with its palm-leaf roofs and one of the locals helped me put on more sunscreen (Thanaka)
30km - 42, The rest of the route was a mixture of dirt and sand on trails and roads. Some stretches of the route are on paved roads (asphalt). Luckily the route was relatively flat but it was hot! The drivers along the paved roads were courteous and respectful. Not once during this entire race did I ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
Inadequate training - This training came on the tail end of recovery from a serious hip injury. It was a suspected stress fracture that had me walking most of my training primarily due to fear of re-injury. Luckily the hip was healed and there was not much discomfort during or after the marathon. I’ve learned my lesson and now have a great running coach that not only holds me accountable but also creates a running plan that significantly reduces the risk of injury. Thank you Coach Lynn and MTA.
Heat and sun - I underestimated the strength of the sun and used a bandana to shield my chest and shoulders as much as possible from the intense sun rays. The bandana was soaked with water at every aid station to help with cooling. The temperatures reached almost 90F with virtually zero shade along the route. The last 7 miles were paced slow because my heart rate was high and dehydration was becoming an issue.
Time zone - Myanmar’s time zone is 12 hours ahead of the Eastern United States. My normal routine is to run in the early morning but on this trip my body was ready to go to bed at the time this marathon started.
Sunscreen - I used the local sunscreen, called Thanaka on my shoulders and face (see photo). Burmese people apply the paste to their face, neck, and arms as a natural sunscreen and to cool the skin from the unforgiving tropical sun. Yet it is also used as a form of individual expression. They paint circles, dots, or squares on each cheek; designs resembling tree and plant leafs; light stripes or a thick mask - everyone has a unique style. The paste is made from ground-up Thanaka tree bark mixed with water. The paste was historically used as a natural sunscreen but has since become a form of beauty and individual expression.
Nike Featherlight Visor - This visor worked very well allowing heat to escape but keeping the hot sun off of my face.
Ultimate Direction Handheld - These worked fantastic. They have a zippered pouch to hold items and collapse as they become empty. Very light weight. I did not have any arm fatigue carrying these bottle.
Xersion Tank Top - 100% polyester and light. It kept me fairly dry and odor free the entire race.
Blue Blocker Sunglasses - The sunglasses are awesome. I've used them for every run for over two years and they are holding up great!
Garmin 235 Forerunner - Excellent battery life, heart rate and GPS. Programming training runs and races into the app is a breeze!
Moving Comfort Sports Bra - This is a must for women with a size C or larger. It is a bit of a challenge to get on but the support is unbelievable. If you do not believe me, try it!
Injinji socks - This is the first time I have ever gotten a blister but I believe that was from the sand in my shoes. These socks are still my favorite.
Body Glide - No chaffing!
Alta RSM (Run, Snow Mud) Lone Peak Shoes - These shoes worked out well. My go to running shoes are the 3.0 but are no longer made. I was concerned these shoes would not breathe well because of the material used to keep feet dry but they proved to be a solid marathon shoe pick!
Muir Energy Gel - Great! This was my first time using these gels for more than 10 miles and they worked out well. They are very sticky and some of my water had to be used to rinse off my fingers - Dealing with sticky fingers and running for several miles isn’t ideal but the gel tasted great and did not give irritate my stomach.
Nuun Tablets - 5 tablets used in this race. They are excellent for hydration, electrolyte balance and energy. I stay away from the ones with added caffeine due to increased bathroom stops but overall they are an great choice.
Courtney transformed the label given to her after she dropped out of high school and became a single teenage mother. She fought hard to break out of the stereotypical life she was living by returning to school; successfully earning a Master of Aeronautical Science degree and numerous pilot ratings. Today Courtney is employed as an Airline Captain and has nurtured her inner entrepreneur and philanthropist by founding Runucate, a nonprofit organization committed to providing educational support to individuals who strive to improve their life. Additionally, Courtney has committed to run a marathon, 26.2 miles, on all seven continents in order to raise awareness for Runucate's mission.
Courtney's unshakeable determination and relentless drive toward growth and community contribution is both motivational and inspirational to those who know her.
During the open forum in September Courtney will discuss numerous challenges she has encountered and strategies that were implemented in order to achieve goals aligned with her values. She explains how and why it is important to defy the odds by raising standards and flipping the internal dialogue from "I cannot" into "I will".
Nicaragua's current political climate has resulted in the suspension of English classes for both adults and young learners in León. Classes are expected to resume in the future. Ongoing events occurring since April have severely impacted the country. Read more about Nicaragua's political unrest here or watch the English interview of President Ortega by Bret Baier
During this time of uncertainty Runucate is temporarily shifting focus toward educational programs within the United States. We are researching organizations and programs that will benefit from contributions received from our next marathon fundraiser this November in Myanmar.
Our hearts go out to students, friends, family and others that have been affected by the turbulent political atmosphere in Nicaragua. Respect for freedom of expression and of assembly in a peaceful manner, according to national and international law, is essential to democratic society.