Road trips and running

News flash: road trips do not contribute to regular blogging. Since last I left you, I spent 5 nights in NYC, where I was too tired out from long days of walking to run even once. At least I was on my feet? I flew to LA, and drove up through California, where I went running at a campsite in the near-dark, in the middle of the woods. The next morning, we had breakfast at a diner, where a local informed me that “That area near your campsite is called Cougar Gulch. Should never go anywhere by yourself because of the cougars and bears. Good thing you were together.” Uh, oops.

The non-running visit to NYC lit a fire under me, and I made a conscious effort to run along the waterfront in Portland (aMAZing city) and in Seattle (also lovely). I was scoping both cities out as potential future homes, and it was interesting to see how the running community reflected the character of the city. Seattle’s was shinier, newer, and slightly older crowd, and Portland’s was more eclectic, definitely not fancy, and made for great people-watching. Plus, I got to run across two bridges, which was fun.

Then, a mad dash across the country–two and a half days of driving with realllly short stops to sleep–and I’m home in the Midwest! Amazing. I did three miles on Friday, and last night, I ran my first 5-miler in months. It felt fantastic, though I still notice a bit of a hip drop when I get tired. The lilacs are blooming here in the unseasonably hot and humid weather, and my evening run was moonlit and scented.

So, I’m BACK. Instead of trucking over to Scotland for the summer, I’m going to be house-hunting so that my things have a place to live while I’m trotting around the globe. And marathon training starts in a week!


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2 Miles or Bust

Today, I was tired. After a grueling day of lunching and beaching (life is soooo hard), the last thing I wanted to do was run, but I promised myself that if I got out and at least did 2 miles, I could listen to This American Life and run as slowly as I wanted. ha

Deal made, I strapped on the iPod, headed out into the steamy Miami night, and slogged out two very comfortable miles. Turns out, my “very comfortable” pace (eg, new long run pace) is about 11:35 per mile. I could have made conversation if there’d been anyone around besides the crazies and the bums wetting themselves as they lay passed out in the sand. (On a side note, yesterday, I WALKED THROUH THE PEE of one such bum. I thought it was WATER on the street. There are few things more revolting than realizing you’ve just walked through another person’s urine.)

How awesome is it that 2 miles can be easy? Just a few months ago, I was doing the C25K program and thinking that running for 10 minutes straight seemed like an awful lot.

Because I end up flailing without a specific training plan, I’ve decided to redo a month of the half marathon program, which will bring me up to a 6 mile long run–the same length as week 1 of marathon training.

Aaaannnd–drumroll, please–exactly one month from tomorrow, marathon training officially begins! That gives me 19 weeks to Chicago (in the interest of working back up gradually, I’m splitting week 1 into weeks 1A and 1B). How exciting is THAT? As it stands, I run my first 10-miler on my 28th birthday and my 20-miler on September 19th. Without a 9 to 5 job or a regular schedule of any kind, it’s kind of nice to have some solid dates in my life.

With the marathon training, I guess I’ll have to get serious about strength training. I dread strength training the same way I dread going to the grocery store–too many options make my head spin. Help! What do you all do?

Next run, Central Park.🙂


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Back in the USA

When last I left you, 8 days ago, I had a stomach issue. In the days since then, I flew from Quito to Esmeraldas on Ecuador’s coast, spent 4 days in Atacames with no internet, flew to Cali (Colombia) and immediately on to Bogota, spent one night there, changed my flight, and flew to…Miami!

After four weeks of the Worst Trip Ever, I was burnt out. As I waited for my (delayed, canceled, delayed, and delayed again) flight from Cali to Bogota, I thought over the possible activities for the coming week with absolutely no interest or excitement. For me, the Most Enthusiastic Person Ever, this was an alarming first. The danger, mugging, robbery, and other miserable incidents left me with nothing but a vague sense of despair and the panicky thought “how am I going to survive another week and a half?”

So, I did the only thing that I could muster up any enthusiasm for, and changed my Bogota-Miami flight.

And now I’m here in lovely South Beach, enjoying the sun and the food and the fact that I can RUN! Run without worrying about getting knifed/pinched/mugged/harassed/killed!

Last night, I ran 3.5 miles on Miami Beach under a full moon, and cooled off by walking along the water in the moonlight. One of my favorite runs ever.🙂

Aaannnd, with my amazing cheap-plane-ticket-finding powers, I managed to add New York to the itinerary before LA. Lots of running in lots of amazing places.


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Conspiracy theory

Do you ever feel that everything is conspiring against your running? I’m beginning to feel that way. First the sunburn, then the too-dangerous streets–then back on track–and now my under-worked body is rocked with an oh-so-charming South American stomach ailment.

What the hell?

I’m dying to go running, but I suspect that would prompt a bowel incident that would put the stories at Shut Up and Run to shame–something I’m not willing to risk. So instead, I’m going to take the opportunity to avoid any local food, do my gluteus medius PT exercises, and maybe even get some work done before I fly to the coast tomorrow.

Guess I’ll be skipping the trip to the Equator…which, frankly, I don’t mind. I think an hourlong bus ride spent fending off small Ecuadorian men who are out to harass/squash/grope me is more than I have patience for.🙂

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On the Road Again

Man, coming back from a long non-running break is hard. After reading a bit about getting back into the swing of things, it seems that it’s best to run less and build back up slowly. That, of course, requires patience, which is not really my strong suit. oy

Based on my “research” (which consisted of googling “coming back to running after two weeks off” and reading through the Beginner section of Runner’s World), I’ve decided go back a few weeks in my half-marathon training schedule. Since the PT recommended that I cut back to 75% anyway, I’m just going to build back up as far as I can before May 23, when marathon training starts. I’ve decided to ditch the idea of a half marathon before then–there’s no way I’ll be ready, but I might do one during marathon training.

So now I’m back around week 4-ish of the half training, running 3.5, 2, 3.5, and a long run of 5. That feels really, really pathetic, particularly when today was supposed to be a 10-mile long run (according to the calendar reminder email I got today). But if I want my body to last to the marathon in October, I’ll do what I must.

And it’s SO GOOD to be back on the road! I ran on the 14th, took the 15th off, did a big Andes hike on the 16th, took the 17th off, and ran tonight. It’s hard and I have to take more walking breaks, but it’s so darn good to sweat.🙂 Here are some pictures from my hike the other day:

Ecuador is ridiculously green

Steep trail

Looking down on the town

Right before I got this shot, I overshot my landing, tipped backwards, and fell headfirst over the edge of the cliff…luckily, a bush broke my fall or I’d have plummeted down the cliff face. Glad no one saw that display of my natural grace.🙂

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First South American Run!

I’m writing from the rooftop terrace of my hotel in Baños, a teeny, tiny town in the Andes, looking out to the lighted towers of the local cathedral. It’s been a rough few days of travel, what with an attempted mugging in Quito (horrible city) and two incidents of theft today (one of money and another of my favorite hoodie, jacket, thermal, expensive trekking pants, and hairdryer right out of my bag on the bus). Sometimes, South America is really difficult. Almost every other traveler I’ve met has a similar story–Ecuadorians seem to be going out of their way to mar the reputation of their lovely country.

I was sitting in my hotel room a few hours ago, crabby and headachy, when it hit me that I’m finally out of Quito, where it’s too dangerous to run after dark and where there are too many polluting trucks and horribly obnoxious men to run during the day (the curse of being a blonde in Latin America). I’d prefer to run without getting my ass pinched or a face full of black exhaust, thankyouverymuch.

So I gave myself a “snap out of it” talking-to, put down the meringues, laced up my running shoes, and headed out into the dark for my first South American run. The town is tiny and I wanted to avoid the main tourist drag, so I ran in circles on back streets, past a field where a serious soccer game was going on, past a few machismos–my iPod blocked their “hola hermosa, muy guapa” calls–and through a pack of street dogs. Since it was my first run in two weeks and to avoid irritating my gluteus medius, I kept it to a simple 5K.

And oh my god–Best. Run. Ever. It’s been an hour since I got back, and I’m still reveling in the blissed-out, post-run glow, which is the exact opposite of how I was feeling earlier. The second I hit the pavement, I could feel my muscles rejoicing at being USED, and I couldn’t keep the ridiculous grin off of my face. Pretty sure all of the locals had a laugh at the crazy happy gringa jogging in the dark, but I haven’t been this cheerful in weeks!

SO happy to be back on my feet! And as promised–though admittedly belated–here are some photos of the trip so far.

Hiking just outside of Flagstaff

Hotel pools in Vegas

So this guy laid on the beach in Colombia, and no fewer than THREE different women oiled up his butt for him! It was impossible not to stare.

Sunset in Playa Blanca, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

Dancer in Cartagena

Perros calientes = hot dogs🙂

Northern Ecuador is gorgeous, even as seen through a bus window

Quito in a rare moment of sunshine

Another from-the-bus photo, just south of Quito. Now if only people would stop stealing my things, I could really enjoy Ecuador’s beauty!

Baños, Ecuador


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Cankle update

I love the word “cankle.” It never fails to make me laugh, even when it’s used in reference to myself.🙂

Just a quick update this morning. After a 15-hour overnight bus ride (ah, the joys of backpacking), I was absolutely terrified to find that my legs were the same width from lower calf to toes. It was So. Gross. I was so freaked out that I tossed on my one pair of jeans and headed to the movies to hide.

Thankfully, my legs returned to a normal size yesterday, and the more severe parts of the burn look like they’re starting to get a bit better.

So, if things continue to go well, I’ll be running again by Monday! Aaaaand guess where I’ll be? Ecuador! I have another long bus ride this afternoon (20 hours, ew), but I promise to do a trip-so-far post with lots of photos soon. In the meantime, I’m doing my gluteus medius strengthening exercises, to the alarm of my hostel-mates.🙂

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