Runner's kit: what is inside?
Exactly one week ago, when I went to pick up my kit from the Adidas fair in Parque de l'Agua, I was 80% excited and 20%nervous about the idea of running 21K (21,097494 kms, to be exact like the academics like to be) at the occasion of Movistar Marathon in Lima.
The last time I participated a running event for a half marathon was a few years ago, in 2006. At that time my time was something around 2h20mins, I unfortunately do not remember very exactly. I did not consider it as a good time, but not a bad one either: my main concern had been to be able to run the whole distance, whatever time it would take.
In 2006, I did not follow any particular training programme, just went running a couple of times per week, like I have been doing as long as I remember. If there has been some months with less running, I usually compensated with something else: swimming, gym, yoga or cycling. This time I did not have any training programme either, not even any smartphone application that would post to Facebook or some other social media each time I go for a run. As I told already earlier in this blog, I signed up spontaneously about one month before the event, because I wanted to go with a friend (who then had to cancel due to her injury).
But first, let us peek inside of this mysterious, orange plastic bag. I have always loved all kind of "kits", so you can imagine that I was like a kid on a Christmas day (which happens to be my birthday too=double presents) when I received my kit.As a background information, you should perhaps know that apart from that above mentioned half marathon in 2006, I have also participated in other, minor running events, so I have some experience with runner's kits.
Kitwise, women's running events are the best, especially if the event has interesting sponsors. In that case, you can find in your kit magazines, shampoo samples, energy bars, discount vouchers for clothes stores, tampons...anything, basically. Not that I can not afford my personal hygiene products ( this may come as a suprise, but most academics can -some just are less careful about their toilette). It's more about the excitement of what you can find in the kit. It feels like a present, so for a moment it makes you forget the high participation fee you paid for the run.
Now, I must say that this Lima marathon kit disappointed me greatly. What was inside? An orange t-shirt -not my color at all, not in this tone at least. Suits better dark people. Then, a little sample of sunscreen, which I did not need because the day was cloudy, but no problem, I can use it another time, so thank you very much for that. Then there was my number, the chip for timing, ticket for a locker where you can keep your stuff while you run and a sticker. A sticker! Where am I suppose to stick it, on my laptop or on my desk, like a teenager? Very, very disappointed with my kit.
I would say that surviving the kit disappointment was the first challenge of the run. The next challenge was to wake up early enough: the race was about to start at 8AM. My boyfriend-coach and I were planning to be there around 7AM, but of course this did not happen. We arrived about twenty minutes before the start, but that was ok. I stretched and warmed up briefly. At home, I had had a very small cup of coffee and some yoghurt and müsli for breakfast.
The first 5 kilometers were as expected, difficult to run because the road was too crowded. I started very slowly in order to warm up properly, but after 5K I became frustrated and passed some people to find runners who run in my pace. Then I drafted behind them until 10K.
After 10K, the energy drink started to take effect, and I kind of "woke up", and felt good about increasing my pace. Still, I tried to be careful to keep the same pace until the end of the race, and I must say I quite well succeeded doing this. So well, that on last kilometer I left behind a few people.
For me, personally, I would say that the difficult part was at the 17K, when I started to feel tired and having still 4 kilometers in front of me did not feel encouraging. But then, after 18K it felt like there is only so little left that I dared to run as fast as I still could.
On my first half marathon I remember having stopped to drink on each of the drinking points. This time I only had a quick sip and continued running. I had read some articles in the internet on running and hydration, and it seems that 21K does not require much drinking, unless you really feel thirsty.
At the end, my result (counted with the chip) was 1h56mins16sec. Quite an improvement from the first half marathon! I can not name any particular reasons for this improvement and I think the main reason for the better time was that I KNEW I had ran it before and I knew what to expect. Also, I have been training uphill running recently, and stairs, and I feel that it has improved my leg muscles. Many people also believe that practicing yoga is good for runners, and from my personal experience I can only confirm
Setting my headphones for 21K
Past Sunday, the 20th May, Lima the Grey turned into Lima the Orange for one morning. Runners took over the streets in the neighbourhoods of San Borja, San Isidro and Miraflores, as it was time for a huge sport event: Lima Marathon sponsored and organized by Movistar and Adidas Running.I did not run the full 42K marathon myself, but I did half-marathon, 21K. I signed up for it quite spontaneously. The story goes like this: in a yoga retreat (of which I wrote about in an earlier post), I met a Peruvian girl Rocio, who is very athletic and also likes running. She told me about the event and that she was planning to go. I had run 21K once before, in 2006, and I estimated that I would be fit enough to do it this year too, so I signed up in a nearby Adidas store. It worked as a great motivation to get myself out for a run!But then, due to an injury, Rocio was not able to participate this time. I still had to walk the walk (or run the run, in this case) and so I did! And so glad I did it, because the whole event was lots of fun and totally worth waking up at 6.30AM on Sunday morning. I will share here some photos from the event, taken by Juan Martin.First, stretching, stretching...most people were wearing the orange shirt and a cap provided in our kit:
Ready, steady...I think this next picture captures very well the pre-start excitement:
And these other photos are from the various drinking points from along the route:
The winner of 42K was a Kenyan, Isaac Kimayo, with 2h 16min result. Women's 42K winner was a Peruvian lady, Además de Canchanya 2h 58min 49sec time. Congratulations for them!
Oh, and my time on 21K? It was apparently 1h 56 min 16sec, as counted with a chip.
In my next post I will tell more about the run and the feelings, and I will share with you some reflections on training...until then, chao!
Photos © Juan Martin Cabrejos
Peruvian Paso horse in Pisac, Sacred Valley
Today I read about a photo exhibition called "Andares" by a Peruvian photographer Ana María García Montero. She has taken beautiful pictures of Peruvian Paso horses: by clicking this link you can see some of her work.
This reminded me of my encounter with these very noble creatures in Pisac, in the Valley of Urubamba, about a month ago.It was our last day in Pisac and we went for a little walk. Suddenly I saw a horse in front of a café/restaurant. Went to take a closer look and turned out it was a paso horse, owned by a local gentleman who breeds them. What is special with paso horses is that they have a gait called "champagne walk". It means that the horse steps so smoothly that the rider should be able to sit at the back and hold a tray of champagne without dropping any of the drink. Champagne walk! How classy is that? I love all kind of horses, but this one is clearly my favorite!
We were invited to go inside to the horse stall (or actually, it was a back yard of a hotel-in-construction) to see more horses. There was even one baby:
Another paso horse in Pisac
Baby paso horse
Then...I asked the owner how much would a paso horse cost me. For 10 000 US dollars it would be mine, was the answer. Hmmm...let me still think about it. One hour riding tour -more tempting option -would have been available for 20 dollars, but it was our last hours in Pisac and there were no more time for it.
Well, bye bye then, dear horse friends: I hope to see you soon again!
No, but actually, at the end I did get myself a horse from Pisac. Ok, it's not a real one, but I love it, and it now decorates my working space. (I had to first clean my desk to take this picture...)
If you thought I don't have more yoga retreat stories to tell, you were wrong!
Here comes some more photos from Yoga Mandala Retreat Center and its beautiful surroundings...
Yoga Mandala terrace view
Before attending my first ever yoga retreat I was wondering what do you actually do there?
I mean, by definition, yoga retreats are for yoga, but still you will have some spare time (unless you are a hard core yogi practising 24/24!). But us, just common mortal yogis, had yoga classes from 7.30AM until about 9.30AM, then breakfast. Another class -more focused on yoga theory and physically less demanding -was in the afternoon from 4PM until 6PM or so. In between classes, there were walks to the waterfalls, visiting ruins, archeological sites and markets in a nearby village, passing by eucalyptus fields, hanging out and getting to know the other participants, reading, listening to music or taking a nap.
After an active day and a delicious vegetarian dinner, going to bed at 9PM did not feel like such a bad idea....
Lunch preparations at Yoga Mandala
Chill out time, waiting for lunch
Visiting ruins, Sacred Valley
As a survival of an astanga yoga retreat in high altitude (3000m), I am here to witness and share with you some ideas I learned during those four days I spent in the Sacred Valley, near Cusco, with a wonderful group of yogis.
First, how does human body react to the altitude? The available amount of oxygen decreases in 3000 meters altitude, so your body needs to adjust to it by producing more red cells. To start the production it usually takes a couple of days. Hence, it is wise to take your time to get acclimated before starting to exercise. You do not need to stay immobile either, just don't exhaust yourself. And drink enough water to avoid dehydration.
Some people may even get sick in high altitude, with various symptoms such as nausea, headache, fatigue, and so on. In Peru and other Andean countries this can be avoided by using the indigenous method: drink plenty of infusion made of coca leaves. If this does not help, there are prescription free medication available in the pharmacy. Sometimes adding some extra oxygen to your room may help: many shops and pharmacies sell a spray bottle called Oxyshot for this purpose. I don't have any personal experience how well it works, so I can't tell you.
Then, arriving to the altitude some days before you start your retreat may be a good idea. This way you get acclimated and are ready for action on day one. If this is not possible then just take it easy on your first day. Most yoga teachers tell you to listen to your body anyways, so do as told.
Another thing to remember is that the climate is generally colder in altitude than closer to sea level.
In the Sacred Valley retreat, we all started the class wearing a sweater, leg warmers, socks and even a hat. Then, when the body gets warmer -usually after the sun salutations -we gradually gave up some layers. The nights are cold too, so a warm pyjama is a must, and a pair of wollen socks.
Come evening time, the mosquitos will come out too, so you may want to use some repellent. The most natural, best smelling and the most eco friendly option is citronella oil. And just turn off the lights when you are not in the room and keep the doors closed, that way you will keep the insects out and don't have to share your bedroom with them.
Downward facing dogs
If the nights may be cold, at the day time can get very warm. In altitude you are also exposed to more sun radiation than if you were at the beach. So don't forget good sun protection! Lotions, hat, sun glasses...
The mountain air is also dry and you may need to use a very rich lotion for your skin and your lips to prevent chapping.
More yoga posing at Urcos ruins
Also, think about bringing a torch, because if the retreat center is located in a remote area in the mountains, electricity cuts are not uncommon and pathways are not always lit. And, if you share your room with other persons and you wake up in the night you can do your business without waking up everybody by turning on the light.
Last but least, if you have addictions such as coffee, cigarrettes etc, and you are not even thinking about getting rid of your addiction, just pack with you whatever is your drug. (I am not encouraging anybody's addictions, but I'm just keeping it real!). The closest grocery store may be far and, believe me, it will be best for everybody that you get your daily fix.
Yoga retreat survival back
Pedro from Ashtanga Yoga Peru & Melinda from Yoga Mandala showing how to do it
It may come as a surprise to many people who are not from this part of the world that Lima has good beaches for surfing and bodyboarding, and that people from other parts of South America (Brazil, Argentina...) come here to catch the waves throughout the beach season. Whereas for surfers from Lima, no matter what season: they keep on surfing.
I already posted about the Chilca beach and the urban legends related to UFOs people claim they have seen there. Don't know about them, but I'd say you are more likely to see surfers, beautiful sunsets and with a bit of luck, dolphins.
I went to Chilca some weeks ago with Juan Martin, Romano and Herman. The weather was not sunny, but the waves were big and even the dolphins made an appearance at the end of the day. To be honest, I did not see them: they were far, but Juan Martin saw them through his camera lense.
Romano and Herman were surfing and bodyboarding, Juan Martin was photographing them. And me? Walking at the beach, eating fruits and listening to reggae. Farniente: my favorite hobby.
Here are some of the pictures from Chilca surfing:
Oh no...somebody broke his board!
The sun was strong even if covered by clouds. In fact, UV radiation is very high these days.
Photos © Juan Martin Cabrejos