It’s hard to believe that only a week has passed since I practically crawled across the finish line at the Lima marathon. Matt had this feeling before the race that it was going to be one of our worst-because of the heat and humidity-but I was trying to be optimistic. We flew back to Lima (on LAN, as it was my birthday, instead of the more “relaxed” Peruvian airlines) and protein-loaded with sushi at one of our favorite restaurants’ in Lima.
The little run we did on Saturday felt okay, but I had woken up with the beginning of a cold or my respiratory system has gone soft since moving from Lima and all the smog and exhaust was making its way back into my system. We were pleasantly surprised with the race check in; we were in and out-quicker than a trip to Wong’s, and with a rather attractive blue race shirt to boot. Last year the shirts were yellow and everybody knows yellow is not a redhead’s color.
I woke up on race morning with a horrible headache. Horrible. Luckily, the night before I did my thing, pinning my number on my race shirt (everybody wears race shirts in races down here, a phenomenon that has not hit the US), stuffing my rinonera (hip pack) with gus, and tying the timing chip into my shoelaces. I choked down half of a banana and some Gatorade and we were off.
Kate feeling horrible before race begins.
Our taxi driver didn’t know where he was going and we didn’t know either. This resulted in us being dropped off at the complete wrong end of the “Pentagonito”-the Peruvian military building where the races started and finished. So we had an extra warm up, speedwalking the 3 km to the start.
Seeing as this is a race to promote sanitation awareness, I always take note of the toilets. There were ample loos, but the majority of them were zip-tied closed leading up to the race. Good numbers, though, for the amount of people running the race. Dropped off the bags at the guardaropa, stretched out the hamstrings and the calf muscles, and it was pretty much time to line up at the start.
Trying to hydrate my headache away. It didn't work.
Toilets! Lots of them. Running to End the Runs!
Less than a thousand people were doing the marathon, so the start felt pretty empty. Until we started. The first kilometer was lots of jockeying into position, and by the time we hit the second kilometer, I had lost sight of Matt. It’s hard to keep track of people when everybody’s wearing the same shirt!
Matt at the starting line-at least a full head taller than most of his competition-too bad height doesn't help with dehydration.
I felt pretty sluggish, but was hitting my target pace. I’m still figuring out the whole pacing thing for road marathons. My body is used to hilly trail races, where some of the hills are so steep, you can’t go out too fast. But on the flat, paved roads of the second largest capital in the desert afterCairo (i.e. Lima is HOT and HUMID), it feels good to go fast. Until it doesn’t.
I was with the 3:45 pace bike through the half, but have my doubts about their pacing skills as the woman on the bike would speed up, slow down, stop, buy a pollo a la brasa, and then get back on her bike. It was a pretty non-eventful first half-good entertainment and some cloud cover made for a good half. Come 15 miles, though, and those weeks of traveling, hours on planes, and not eating enough in Bolivia starts to add up. Not a great combination with the lack of water stops on the second half, either.
I actually walked, quite a bit, which hurt my pride more than my dehydrated body, I think. My strategy of going out at a 3:40/3:45 pace and having some ‘wiggle room’ isn’t working, my heavy legs tell me over and over. I choke down all of my gus over the course of the race, but nothing seems to work. The kilometers tick by, and finally I pass the 40km. I know I have enough in the tank to squeak out 2km -1.2 miles-so I pick up the pace to finish.
Crossing the finish line, I don’t see Matt. The race funnels you down one corral, where young Peruvians bend over and untie hundreds of people’s shoes, and remove their chips. Bulky security guards let me pass into the ‘recovery’ area, where a medal is placed around my neck and my salty husband appears. “Do you want to see where I barfed?”-is the first thing out of his mouth. Somebody else went out way too fast, and felt the pain of the heat, humidity, and lack of fluids. Poor guy emptied out all his warm, blue powerade after crossing the finish line. The medical staff was on him like flies on shit, trying to get him to drink more of said blue powerade. By the time I got there, the worst had passed, so we sat on the stoop and chugged down some water before hobbling over to find a taxi to a cold drink and a shower.
This guy was going faster than Matt for part of the race.
We got back to the hotel, cold drinks in hand, but found much more than we bargained for. Early that morning, the hotel staff moved our stuff to a new room because they were nearly booked when we made our reservations. After coming back from a fun dinner with friends, I pulled the blankets back on the bed. And noticed what looked to be a chocolate covered espresso bean at the foot of my bed. But it wasn’t. It some weird twist of fate-as we are Running to End the Runs-it appeared that the hotel’s not-so-friendly Peruvian hairless dog (see above-hairless, gray animal with yellow mohawk), had his way with our room. Matt’s race bag-that had some food in it-was chewed through, and I guess the banana got things going for the mutt, because he also went to the bathroom. Literally. In our toilet. The drama picked up after the race this time, I guess.
Slow times for both of us, but okay for training runs. The humidity training should serve us well for number three of the Run to End the Runs-26 miles of trails through the Costa Rican jungle this month. Stay tuned for tales from the trails…