Good morning folks
I trust this finds you in sterling form and that you had a mighty fine weekend.
Your weekly round-up of goings-on in the madhouse that is Lima.
A busy old week; a booze-free night at the Ambassador’s Residence, two recces of a course I thought I had nailed, another recce where I got lost and was brought down to earth (suddenly, dramatically and painfully), plus the Nipper’s 3rd birthday!
It’s all been going on…
The Nipper is 3…
How fast does time go!
The Wee One is hopefully finishing her “terrible twos” and will start to behave like a little princess (yeah, right!)
Friday saw her Fiesta at the Creche. a joint birthday party and leaving do, as she starts proper school on Monday. I was under a bit of time pressure with morning classes, but we got the cake, balloons and food there (almost) on time.
I must’ve blown up 50 balloons and then made the mistake of doing the “letting go of a balloon” trick, which went down a storm so that was me occupied/entertaining for the rest of the party!
The bairn has also just had her first haircut, so I may just sneak in and win this month’s “Hair Vs. Beard” competition
Let’s just wish her new teacher on Monday the best of luck!
”The Ambassador’s receptions are noted in society for their host’s exquisite taste that captivates his guests.”
Indeed they are, and I do have to pinch myself every time I get invited to his gaff! Me?
Thursday saw the 80th birthday celebrations of Britanico (my employer) and a rare night off work (with my lessons covered, it doesn’t get any better!) The location was the Ambasador’s Residence, on top of a hill in a swanky part of town, a different world.
The fact that the Nipper’s birthday was the day after and that I had classes at 7am was at the back of my mind, so this kept me off the pop, which took some restraint/will power as it was flowing freely. A lot of high-fliers, well-heeled, dignitaries, Britanico staff and myself were there to hear about the past, present and exciting future (more of that in a moment). It is always good to catch up with other teachers and my regular tippling buddies too. Despite promising myself an early night, we were the last to (be asked to) leave.
All roads lead to Arequipa…
I’ll be brutally honest, the big bad city of Lima is doing my head in completely right now!
Chaos, noise and more chaos and more noise.
A house move could be the answer, but it is a bit political and not straightforward.
Arequipa is Peru’s second largest city and in my eyes, a top spot. I’ve only been once (in 2004 to see a football match), but the city left an impression on me, I like the place, a lot.
Britanico is only based here in Lima right now, but there are plans to branch out. Arequipa was mentioned (briefly and never again) at the annual conference, but it all went deathly quiet.
I’ll put my name forward (in marker pen at the top of the list) and keep my fingers/toes crossed…
(One of my BIG races this year is planned for November, “The El Misto Sky Marathon”, one of the highest in the World)
All roads lead to Desafio Ruricancho…
The first race of the season beckons next Sunday. i have been training keenly, doing loads of climbing (11500ft this week, but nowhere near enough miles), plus an acid test with a (stupid on my part) midday run, to see how I’ll cope with the ferocious sun expected for the entire 20-odd mile course.
Up until Saturday I was feeling confident, now I’m not so sure…
Two recces and still got it wrong!
I saw a local race advertised, “Carretera Vertical”, a 10km mountain race with 1000m of ascent, on my doorstep, tagged onto the end of my “Doubtful Round” route, perfect!
The route was sketchy, but I tried it backwards on Thursday (and got burnt to a crisp at midday) and forwards on Saturday, which was one of those rare, red-letter days when it just feels great, apart from being ambushed by the wild dog/wolves of the cerro!
At the top of the big climb there is a ” Caseta” (a watchtower overlooking “the Wall”), with a pair of snarling dogs on a balcony, who must have caught my smell on the wind and were ready for me. The balcony must be at least 15ft high. “There’s no way they’ll jump” I thought, but they did, so I had to break all land-speed records to escape, then ran slap-bang into a pair of dogs at the bottom of the hill. I picked up the biggest rock I could find and launched it (although they were never in danger, I cannot throw nor aim to save my life), it must have confused the pair of hungry hounds as it just seemed to explode before them, being a huge dessicated lump of soil!
Anyroad, both recces went well and I was keen to see the “Official recce” on Sunday morning.
Wrong, wrong and wrong!
Everything starts extremely late/early here. Even if you have chronic insomnia you’ll never be the last to bed/first up here. I was out waiting for a bus at 5am both days and the streets were full. Howling cats (in season, when they sounds like wailing babies) have become the latest sleep-stoppers here at noisy towers. So when my alarm went off at 4am, it wasn’t too hard to get up as I’d never really slept.
The meet-up time was 5:30am, no buses showed, so I got one part way (whose radio station announced that “Never gone give you up” was the number one song of all-time. The Stock/Aitken/Waterman Ginger crooner can take pleasure that his dulcet tones were keeping awake a small mini bus with 25 sleepy punters, awake! I got a taxi the rest of the way to arrive bang on 5:30am, why do I bother?
Nobody there and realising 20mins later that I’d been told the wrong spot!
A group was gathering, but folk were still arriving gone 6:15am. Punctuality is not in the dictionary here. I knew a few folk so had a chat about stuff, as always puzzling people with my kind-of-Spanish (more of that later). 6:30am and we were off!
The route is a cracker, climbing 1000ft each mile for the first 3 miles. Some good running, some technical bits and a bit of easy scrambling chucked in.
This was only a recce for a low-key race that I might run in. It is the weekend before a race that I’ve already entered, but that is really only a long training run and not something I expect to do any good in, so I was keen to not treat this outing as a race, but as I was 3rd at the top of the climb, I got the bit between my teeth! (And a peanut butter sarnie, which I almost choked on, an ominous sign?)
Then i was told that the route goes the other side of the wall! Nooooooo…
Immediately I went wrong, then went a long way off-course, necessitating a back-track and a big climb. The runners were strung-out like the washing and as I was on new ground, I was keen to keep in touch to see exactly where it went.
The going in these parts is technical at best and kamikaze at worst. There are a lot of things (natural and dumped by man) which will trip you up the second you lose concentration. As I had upped the pace, I’d already stumbled three times (and just missed a 20ft drop death-pit!)
However, I was going alright, so pushed on (despite being generally lost and out of sight of the punters up-front.
As a fellrunner, I am quite good at falling. My eyesight is good, but my reactions are garbage!
Whenever I take a tumble, I normally cop for it on my elbows and knees.
Falling whilst running (generally downhill) is a grim, slow-motion feeling. Occasionally you can right your footing, but normally one rock (that you didn’t spot) will take you down. Then you have two or three strides where you seem to speed up, before impact.
I was at the top of the final descent and looking for the exit chute downhill, when I went down and crunched my right knee into a boulder and my left elbow into a pile of spiky rocks.
Normally I just lie there winded, but this time I actually fell down the slope and rolled for about ten feet in the sand/dust/dirt. Ouch!
Sweating profusely, with sticky sun cream mixed with Lima mountain dust made me look like a bog monster, as I limped to the finish (going wrong, again). I tried to distance myself from passengers in their Sunday best on the Combi home, but a few punters scraped past and swore at me!
The aftermath: A right knee that looks like it’s eaten a small football, hurts like hell and leaves me wondering if I’ll get to the start line next week.
Watch this space…
One of my big problems here is that my Spanish is bad and getting worse.
I sometimes tell students that part of my job is to raise their confidence to the level of their abilities. Conversely for years I needed somebody to lower my confidence to the low levels of my ability!
This week’s outings on the buses have been thwarted by:
La Molina being mistook for La Marina.
La Rinconada being mistook for La Encalada.
(Both times I wasn’t allowed on the bus, despite being in a place very close to where i wanted to go and miles away from the place they heard).
The letter “R” is my nemesis and it appears everywhere. There is no hope!
If facebook had been in the 70′s!
Have an awesome week
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper