Good morning folks
I trust this finds you in sterling form and that you had a mighty fine weekend.
Before I start this weeks ramblings, I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to all you wonderful people who sent wishes/commented on my current clumsy uncoordinated injury status!
I honestly thought that there were only two people who read my blog, so it made my week. Muchas Gracias
On the week leading up to Fiestas Patrias (Peruvian Independence celebrations), here is your weekly wrap-up of patched-together nonsense from me.
(First paragraph is running related, from thereon in the rest is a mixed bag).
A change of plan/direction…
Most runners who get crocked spend all their time wishing they were back running again and come back too early (and get crocked again).
At other times an injured athlete has already fallen out with the game and is (secretly) glad not to be running.
I’ve fallen in and out of love with running enough times to have had both the above.
This time it feels a bit different, I’ve actually reflected on it and started wondering where it’s going wrong and where it is (possibly) going…
I’ve run on-&-off since I was 11 years old, I was always crap at most sports and when I started “big school” I had just had an ear operation, so I didn’t play rugby in the first year. My imaginative games teacher sent me off on laps-of-the-school-grounds for 90mins, he actually did me a favour.
Apart from a stint in my twenties (left home, drinking took over, started playing rugby league, shocking diet, up to about 15.5 stone), I have always run and I have always had injuries, but nothing like this past year. (Some of these have been accidents as opposed to injuries).
The problem is I am constantly fighting against time here. By its very nature, distance running is time consuming. The races I have been training for are mainly at altitude, which means at least a 3hr drive out of Lima. Sandwich a long run in and then getting home, it’s an all-dayer.
I can maybe justify this once a month, but it’s just not fair on the little ladies at home.
I have my local stomping ground two miles away and don’t mind getting up at 4:30am to get back by lunchtime, but it’s just not been sustainable. Training-crocked-training-crocked and the big race plans for the ANDES RACE started falling too pieces around June (when it should have been ramping up).
One sunny day back in 2002, my knee imploded running down Otley Chevin. I don’t know what I did but I rested for 6 long weeks, then did a load of strength/core work and came back fitter than before. After years and years of trying to churn out 60 mile weeks, I learned that I could actually get better results on 40 quality miles. (I have only ever run 100 miles+ in a week four times and my legs fell off each time! Whilst my old training partner, Steve B, thrived on it, it killed me).
So, I think that I have been my own worst enemy. I have always gone for long races, but never actually done any good in them. You get into a “train hard-crap race-train harder-even worse race-train even harder-get crocked” cycle.
I’m not fast enough for shorter than 10km, and all my best races/times have been at 10-20 miles, so why am I trying to run 100km at altitude?
The three-step plan for 2017 was:
1- Ultra Trail 69 (DNF, bad guts, lack of acclimitisation)
2- Andes Race (crocked and not running)
3- El Misti sky marathon (which means a Saturday morning sea level flight to run/crawl up to 19000+ ft on Sunday morning, I’m dreaming! It would not be a happy ending).
I did think of swimming, but (a) it is really expensive here and (b) after pouring my heart and soul into training for a triathlon in 2004, after 9mths of swimming training I went to see a swimming coach who told me that basically I was useless! (Terrible exit/entry, kicking from the knee, fixed ankles, I could go on…) She actually did a good job of managing my expectations.
Not quite Mark Spitz, more like somewhere between Eddie the Eel and Eddie the Eagle!
I bought a pushbike here, but it was even more kamikaze than riding the Clunk, so I sold it soon after.
So, as/when/if I actually get running again, I may be heading in a different direction, watch this space…
An innocent gift inside a kid’s party goodie-bag!
This stuff has been driving me nuts this week. To say it was a small pot of the stuff, I have been finding it everywhere around the house as I battled to keep the house clean, following a three-year old whirlwind round with a dustpan and brush. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I was trying to squeeze some garlic through a garlic press and playdo came out!
Dogs in dresses.
It is winter here and the punters are well wrapped up, complaining about the cold (whilst saying in summer that they prefer winter. Give me a blue sky over this murky grey cloak any day of the week please). It is not especially cold, just damp. I’ve had a cough/cold/sore throat since forever. (Not that the weather causes these ailments, that’s another story for another day).
I’m personally ready for summer.
It’s not just the punters who are wrapped up, the pooches have their outfits too and two dogs in dresses made the bairn and myself chuckle this week
As Lina was away all week, it was just the bairn and I, (with thanks to Lina’s Mum too. School is out and I couldn’t take the unruly bairn to work!)
“That marking you were doing, forget it!”
It has been an awesome week, albeit a tiring (completely knackering) week.
The Wee One loves going to the park. There are parks near our house, but they are full of white dogmuck (!) So we normally make the trip down to another area called “Bayletti” where there are swings and a slide. Then we found another park (even further away) with swings, slide and roundabouts! “Queen Nipper” still insists on being pushed around in her pushchair, which has more miles on it than most cars here!
We’ve been there every day this week and it’s worth the walk, the bairn loves it.
Every day we’ve seen people practising dancing a traditional dance called “la Marinera”.
I’m always very impressed with people who can dance well (I can’t) and when we went there on Saturday arvo, we stumbled across the “National Marinera Championships” (hence all the dancers training like crazy).
The dance is a very active flurry of petticoats and twirling of hankies.
Whilst the Argentine Tango is close-contact, the Marinera is more like heavy flirting. Set to a rousing brass band, the Nipper and I were treated to a real show. (Which she insisted we danced when we got home. Luckily she inherited her Mum’s dancing genes and soon gave up on me).
I personally dance more like a donkey!
After an hour of strictly come marineraring, it all got a bot samey-samey and we went to the roundabouts where a kid’s party (looked like a “Frozen” affair, which I’ve managed to avoid so far) was desperately trying to out-noise the Marinera band, so we left before a migraine set in…
On Wednesday I subjected the unsuspecting punters of the Miraflores centre to my rambling “UK Sports” slideshow and talk, I dodged the tomatoes and cabbages long enough to get an ambitious taxi back to work.
Ambitious in that it only allowed an hour to battle through rush hour (6am-11pm) traffic.
It is less than 5 miles as the crow flies, but my “taxista” was keen to do any amount of miles, as long as we were moving. At more than one point we were going in completely the wrong direction, then we hit “Javier Prado”, two words that strike terror into the heart of all Lima folk.
Javier Prado was the President’s son and himself a historian, philosopher and lawyer (dramatic mix), who cannot be held responsible for the tumultuous namesake, (he died in 1921).
How can I describe modern day Javier Prado?
135 blocks of limping chaos sums it up nicely.
(Other roads are available, but nobody seems to take them).
The problem is that everybody drives like my taxista did, swapping lanes every second. It felt like witnessing a very drunkard bar fight, where no blows actually strike, but everybody is swaying in slow motion. A taxi and a 4wd had made contact and were stopped in the middle lane (exactly where they met) waiting for the insurance lady on a motorbike. Why punters don’t move over to the side is beyond me? Everybody crawled around them both.
My taxista foolishly mentioned the “M” word, in that he had recently bought a Micra for his girlfriend, so I bored him full of rally tales and my overwhelming fascination with the diminuitive Japanese 4-wheeled legend. He got the one-way streets wrong and dropped me off at the wrong place so I had to leg the last bit, arriving at 7:44pm, one minute to spare. I’m just glad I don’t have to do that every day!
Next week is Fiestas Patrias, so the Nipper and I play a “count the flags” game every day. Enterprising flag salesmen are raking it in, as the numbers grow every day and the skyline is awash with red and white.
The Air Force are on constant practice for an aerial display on the 29th, so apart from the incessant din of three tower blocks being built and my neighbours shifting furniture and/or drilling, it feels like a mix of living next to RAF Brize Norton and being on the set of Platoon!
(Two tiny dots, top centre of photo)
Good as gold!
As Lina was away and her Mum was out and about on Friday, the works meal to celebrate Fiestas Patrias looked in doubt until my top boss, Jesus, told me to bring the Nipper along. I made an excuse (she has not been on her best behaviour of late), but he insisted and said if I couldn’t come, he’d get the chef, Napoleon, to save me some food.
How could I reject Napoleon’s offerings?
So, Friday morning was a race-to-get-ready. The Nipper had already chosen her outfit, and by some miracle we arrived on time, early in fact. The Nipper was on her best form ever and ate all her food without one single tantrum!
I am lucky to have such a great bunch of work colleagues, every one of them is absolute solid gold.
(Thanks to Lourdes for the photo).
Managed to get a bag of Lima’s finest brew this week (after spending over a tenner on some very posh beans. It was one of them moments when you’re too committed to a purchase to back out. The guilt, oh the guilt, followed every single cup…
Then one of my students also gave me a can of this!
I have know idea where it came from. It is now in an emergency cabinet.
This meanwhile looks like a lively Red Bull alternative! Plenty of coke but not a drop of cola, eezer good…
The big news this week is that I have decided to make an impromptu 2 week (return) trip back to Blighty!
The irresistible lure of pies, Yorkshire bitter and Kendal Mintcake is something that is always on
my mind, but also the practicalities of buying shoes (above a size 9),
slacks (longer than 30″) and shirts (with Mr.Tickle sleeves)
here has also forced me to book a flight!
With the Andes Race now not happening (for me) and the planned month of altitude training in tatters, the thought of spending my jollies (my first in 4 years) alone in Lima (Lina and the Nipper are both at school/work) threatened to send me over the edge and it suddenly became an obvious choice and an instant obsession!
I had planned to go back next summer (2018) for a holiday with the ladies, and flight prices are sky-high (no pun intended), but once the thought/seed was planted…
I seriously cannot wait to see my family and friends, even though I know 2 weeks will evaporate instantly. The temptation is to try to cram in as much as possible, but I am resisting and will see what happens.
To be honest, I am ready for a break from the lunacy of Lima. I love my job to bits, but daily life here does sometimes feel like a bare knuckle fight (against a guy with sandpaper on his fists), it’s a war of attrition and I am a bit sick of being sick (constant bad guts and an 80-a-day cough)
and a tad tired of being tired (noisy neighbours, damn you rambunctious buggars!)
Hopefully a bit of P&Q, fresh air and fish&chips will help get my Lima mojo back again.
(Plus the thought/prospect of unlimited tea (without rationing) does get me giddy!)
To hopefully leave you with a smile on your face on a Monday morning.
This is a remix of one of my all-time YouTube favourites.
There are few things in life quite as satisfying as a successful wheel change, as these chaps clearly show…
Have an outstandingly awesome week!
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper
p.s. We are away in the sticks in yonder mountains next weekend, but I will endeavour to get some kind of blog out, using a yoghurt carton and some string, hopefully!