The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Cancun, Mexico 2013

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One of the views from the condo

One of the views from the condo

Last week, Susan and I traveled to Cancun, Mexico with he family and best friend.  This is an annual trip for her family, and was only the second time that I was able to go.  And since I was in another country with rather spotty internet service, I did not post or check the blog much.  It was a trip full of ups and downs, so I thought my title separation was a good one, even if the trip had nothing to do with the famed Spaghetti Western.

Photo cred to my sister-in-law for the pic of the week

Photo cred to my sister-in-law for the pic of the week (this is our favorite restaurant, La Palapa)

The Good:  This was a vacation and that in itself is a good thing.  No work, the beach, and no chores made it even better.  We were in Cancun from Saturday to Saturday, which afforded us plenty of time to decompress and relax.  Also, being in a foreign country is about the only way my job will not call me, so I actually could avoid work for the week!

Our condo was at the Royal Mayan, one of three resorts that are adjacent to one another and are a part of the Royal Resorts chain.  My in-laws have owned there for twenty-five years and have gone to the same room during the same week for that many years.  Most of the staff has been there for that entire time as well, and it really was a second home for Susan’s family.  So, when you have that kind of relationship, it makes the week even better that being in some random hotel.  They have also made friends with other guests that own during the same week and one couple even came to Susan and I’s wedding!  This same couple is going to help me get a great discount on some new sunglasses for running since they are optometrists.

The food is amazing down there, and I certainly ate my fair share of blackened grouper this week, as well as the best fajitas that I have ever eaten.  I also drank enough banana monkeys (add rum to this recipe) to send me into a diabetic coma during an AA meeting!  Let’s just say that I wasn’t as stringent on what I ate as I should have been, but I was on vacation and every calorie was worth it.  Happy hour was from 3 – 6 pm daily, and half price drinks are hard to turn down.

There are sea turtle nests everywhere, including 18 at our resort

There are sea turtle nests everywhere, including 18 at our resort

I did maintain my Runner’s World Summer Streak, which now stands at 16 days, by running at least one mile each day while on vacation.  The day we left, I woke up at five to run my long run for the week, ran on the beach each of the seven days I was in Mexico, and then returned to my normal training/streak schedule upon returning to the United States.  I liked the new element of running on the beach and had no problem finding time to work in the runs since I was usually up a couple of hours before everyone else.

Susan and I have decided that we are going to have a Royal Mayan night periodically here in Memphis.  I am going to make the seven layer dip (Pico de Gallo, beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, black olives, and jalapenos) and blackened grouper tacos like the ones at La Palapa, as well as banana monkeys.  It may take a few attempts to perfect my recipes…

The Bad:  It rained in biblical proportions while we were down there, especially the first four days.  Tropical Storm Andrea was developing while we were there, so there was quite a bit of precipitation.  It rained so much that our room was flooded by rain water coming in from the balcony of our sixth floor condo!  I thought my bed was on an island the first night!  No one wants to go to the beach and have it rain everyday, but we were able to salvage a few hours each day for beach and pool time, and by the end of the week, the weather was back to normal.

Not what you want to see at the beach

Not what you want to see at the beach

Sadly, this is the last year that we will be going to the Royal Mayan.  The land lease is up, and the company has decided to sell rather than renew for another thirty years.  The other two resorts adjacent to the Royal Mayan, the Royal Caribbean and the Royal Islander, have five and ten years left, so we could arrange a return to the Royal Resorts, just not the condo that they have called home for twenty-five years.  It was a sad realization on the last day for Susan’s family, but it could definitely be worse.  There are hundreds of employees at the resort that are very uncertain of what their future holds, and with no pensions or contingency plans, their lives are about to take a devastating turn.  When I think about that, it seems petty to complain about all of the extra work that I have done this week now that I am back at the office.

If you have never been to the Cancun airport, I have some advice for you, avoid being there in the middle of the day.  It is crowded and there is little to no air conditioning.  You will suffer in the Mexican heat and humidity there at 2 pm.  You have been warned.

The only guy at the airport hotter than me

The only guy at the airport hotter than me

The Ugly:  I gained seven pounds while on vacation, so that was not ideal.  But, if I had not been running my streak miles, I’m certain that I would have hit double-digit in the weight gain category, so I will choose to look at the positive.

When I checked my luggage at the airport, I had my Armpocket stuffed into a side pocket on my suitcase.  The reason for this is because I had run with it that morning, so it was still sweaty and I did not want it on my clean clothes.  Well, after checking my bags and before picking them up in Mexico, my Armpocket absconded from my luggage!  At first, I was very confused why someone would want my sweaty armband, but Susan pointed out that whomever helped themselves to it probably assumed that my iPod or iPhone was in it, and that is why they stole it.  I had also held out hope that I had left it at home on accident, but after searching for it on Sunday, the theft was confirmed.  I registered a complaint with the airline, but I know that nothing will come of that,  so today I shelled out another $40 to get a new one.  At least the new one will be more suitable to use with my iPhone 5.

And probably the worst thing to happen to me over the week was that my banking account information was compromised and someone helped themselves to a little over $900 of my hard-earned money!  I was poolside checking my account because I am that OCD and I noticed considerably less money than I should have.  Upon investigation, I noticed that two electronic checks had been drafted from my account to pay someone else’s bills!  I immediately called my bank and was placed on hold.  Forty minutes later, I was still on hold and quite pissed.  I hung up and called back to discover that the bank was closed!  That’s right, I was placed on hold during normal business hours and forgotten about, while listening to the same recording on repeat for forty minutes of international call rates!  I let several f bombs fly over this and as of today, I have yet been able to speak to the branch manager responsible for this blunder.  Yesterday I did close the compromised account, opened a new one, changed my direct deposit and debit cards, and filed a police report over the fraud.  I have a name, address, and picture of a suspect, and later this week, the company in which the checks were drafted to will provide me with the account info associated with the fraud.  My bank did at least return my money the following day, so I wasn’t stuck in Mexico maxing out credit cards to pay my tabs.  I do

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Gear

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Every runner knows that you can’t achieve your goals without the proper gear, so here is some of my equipment that I use for every run.  I guess I should mention that all of these items have been purchased from retail vendors and I do not get compensated in any way to plug these items; they are just what I currently like to use.

When you run long distances, you tend to have to shop for shoes quite often.  Most runners get 400-500 miles from a pair of shoes (according to info I found) and having a backup plan is a good, but expensive idea.  I tend to overpronate when I run, so I went shopping for a pair of shoes that helped with this running style.  After some extensive research, I settled on the Nike+ Zoom Vomero 7.  It is a light shoe with great cushioning and numerous color options.  I chose the gray/orange combo against the protests of my wife.  I also have an old pair of Asics that I wear in muddy trail runs and a pair of Nike+ Livestrong shoes that I occasionally use, but the Vomero 7’s are my curreny and primary running shoe.

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For my most recent birthday, my wife got me the Nike+ Sportswatch GPS with Nike+ Sensor.  The GPS is powered by TomTom and it is very easy to upload data from the watch to my computer.  Whenever and wherever I run, I can record data with this watch.  The watch utilizes its GPS function when I’m running outdoors and the sensor (which slips into the shoe of my shoes) works perfectly when I decide to use the treadmill.  The watch tells me my current pace, average pace, distance traveled, calories burned, Nikefuel earned, time elapsed, and current time.  If I don’t run for a few days, the alarm goes off as a gentle reminder to get back out there.  After uploading the data to my computer, the Nike+ website will track my runs so I can see my progress or regression, as well as keep track of my weekly, monthly, and yearly miles.  I also can add notes about the weather, which shoes I wore, how I felt post race, and any notes I might want to write to refer to at a later date.  My personal records and trends are just a click away, as is my routes.  This is the perfect device for any runner, especially a nerdy runner like me.

nike tomtom watch

I wear numerous brands of tech shirts and shorts, and I really can’t tell much of a difference in any of them.  My Nike shirts seem to be a touch bigger than the others, but not enough that I need to buy a different size than the other shirts.  Being a heavy sweater, and bald, I need to wear a hat while I run.  The problem is, every hat will be sweated through between miles 3 and 4, regardless of the temperature.  I will say though, my Under Armour hat dries quicker than my Nike dri-fit hat, so I do prefer to wear the Under Armour one.   I don’t have any specialty running socks that I use, but I may investigate those this year.

I use the Yurbuds Inspire earbuds and they are excellent against sweat and the weather.  The company claims that they are guaranteed not to fall out, but that is not quite 100% true.  You must find the proper size to wear and insert them into your ears utilizing the proper technique.  Yurbuds has great customer service and is very dedicated to getting customers into the proper head gear.  I had a size 5, but after consulting with them, it was determined that I needed a specialty size 4.  They exchanged my earbuds free off charge, even though I was well beyond the warranty exchange period.  My Yurbuds do stay in my ears better than any other product that I have tried, but I have had an issue or two with them falling out when I get extremely sweaty.

I carry my iPhone with me when a run and use an Armpocket XTREME i-30 to hold it.  I chose this product because I’m asthmatic and it can hold my phone, inhaler, gels/GU’s, and keys.  It is comfortable and keeps my stuff dry, but it was not designed for the iPhone 5.  When I had my iPhone 4, the phone fit perfectly and I could store everything with no issues, but now, the headphone jack juts out a little bit.  It isn’t that big of a deal, just a minor inconvenience.  The printing on the product is reflective and once I put on the arm band, it never moves.

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On my longer runs, I use a Camelback pack for my water.  I went with the 70 ounce version that is used by the military basically because it is what I already had.I’m sure wearing a backpack full of water isn’t for everyone, but I do prefer it to carrying a water bottle.

I don’t always carry my id on me, even though I easy could in the Armpocket, but I do always wear my RoadID bracelet.  It has my name, brief medical info, and emergency contacts on it, as well as a short inspiration quote on it.  This is great info to share in case of emergency, especially for someone with a severe allergy, asthma, or contagious disease.  I went with the RoadID elite and I actually wear it all day.  It has a black, silicone band with a metal watch like buckle and a metal information plate.