Monthly Archives: April 2010

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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Running in extreme heat & humidity

I’ve been in Colombia for 6 days now, and I have yet to lace up my running shoes. First, because the heat and humidity are so extreme that I get dizzy and sweaty just standing still in the shade. (Oh, how I wish I were kidding.) And second, because I’m now waiting for an extreme sunburn on my legs to heal. Who knew a sunburn could be so painful?

I spent Easter weekend on a gorgeous white sand beach on a little island off the shore of Colombia. On my first afternoon, my legs were in the sun for 15 minutes, and they absolutely fried. The next day, I had to take ibuprofen to stop the extreme pain, yesterday they swelled so that I had cankles (CANKLES!), and today the swelling is gone, but they’re starting to look like alligator skin. I imagine the awful peeling is going to come next.

So, until I can walk without pain, I’m going to hold off on running. And I’m heading to more temperate Medellin tonight, so the heat shouldn’t be a problem any more.

It’s so, SO discouraging to be on such a long break. I need your words of encouragement!

I’ll close with two images, one of lovely Playa Blanca and one of the cankles. 🙂

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