Whatever my idea of a sabbatical was, it wasn’t getting up at 5:10 a.m. on most days. Now that I’m used to it, I consider sleeping ’til 6 a.m. on a Sunday sleeping in. This has nothing to do with my DD [darling daughter]starting school, as it has with the pre-mid life crisis of once the runner-up of the fifth grade school trail running championship suddenly bestowed more spare than there are Youtube videos to watch. So, she becomes completely outdoorsy.
I’m no Speedy Gonzales, but I’ve always loved running – even before I spent an hour a day reading Runner’s Magazine. But me and trail running hit the rocky road when I became a single mother and management consultant. For the first couple of years especially, my nose would be running more often than my feet. I’d be reaching my maximum heart rate at the top of the escalators at King’s Cross.
As so often happens with the taken-for-granted things in life, I realised how integral running was to my identity once I was placed in a hospital bed. High as a kite from morphine the day after my spine surgery, I read ‘It’s Not About the Bike’ by Lance Armstrong, and immediately thereafter Googled swimming instructors in London. As if reading my thoughts, my neurologist (what, not everyone has a personal neurologist?) said the words that have followed me to South America: “You will be running soon again.”
And so I am – but in Lima, rather than London. I’ve joined a local sports aficionado group Miraflores Runners led by Rolando Ricapa, an elite, Peruvian distance runner. Mr. Ricapa likes taking photos and making people get up at 5 a.m. There are now so many unflattering (#nomakeup) shots of me on Facebook that cancer charities would probably return donations upon seeing my account removed.
A few months ago, I took part in three of Lima’s big races in just one month: the Toyota 21K, Maraton RPP and New Balance 15K. If you’ve clocked most of your miles in Europe, the first thing to note is the absence of fund raising, but you can take comfort in your nice new t-shirt in which you’ll be raising the awareness of car manufacturers or perhaps fast food chains (someone’s got to burn the calories). The second thing to note is that the Maraton RPP is not a marathon. It’s a 21K. But, hey, fifty percent margin of error- let’s not be so pedantic.
The third thing is the gender balance. As you walk to the start area of the race, you are greeted by (presumably) Argentinian models. You can’t miss them, because they are tall and blonde and their boobies, that have more gel cushioning than my trainers, are at the eye level of the average Peruvian man. Qualities that would make them excellent pacers, but despite the misleading clothing, they are not there to run. They have more important things to do. Like to be blonde.
So that’s the women…
_(Photo: Maraton RPP Facebook)_
I’ve observed about a 1 to 4 female-male ratio at the events. It’s great if your bowel is telling you that carb-loading before a race (you learnt about that in Runner’s World) is not for people who tend to load on carbs anyway (welcome to your first public event ever where there are no 5-mile queues for the ladies!). On the other hand, this means Lima’s trees get watered extra well (before eventually dying of ammoniac). But most importantly, mind the machismo on the track! Some say that men are worse at pacing themselves. My guess is that they have been to South America. In which case they, like me, may have noticed that first aid treatment is offered at the 1km point
So, Lima and its races. Are they worth it? I wouldn’t be booking flights… unless you want to tell your Facebook friends you finished a ‘marathon‘ in an hour, or you’re a woman and have a nervous gut like me. But if you happen to be in Lima and not that busy on a Sunday morning – as they say here: _alas y buen viento!_
_Dulce Pedroso was working as a management consultant in London until July 2014, when she exchanged the fog to the smog of wintery Lima. If settling into a new country is like getting used to a new pair of shoes, in her case those have been running shoes. Getting to know the pavements and cerros of Lima and further afield before the sun rise, has brought many friends, adventures and much needed respite from the city’s daily chaos. This in turn has led to, if not more frequent, at least less frustrated blog posts about another foreign transplant’s life in Peru. Her dream is to take part in one of this country’s spectacular ultra marathons and live to blog the tale. Read her original posts_ here Dulce Pedroso, an athletic blogger equipt with humble running shoes and a quick wit.