Next goal?

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Good morning folks

I trust you had a mighty fine weekend and that this finds you in tiptop Monday form.
Here is your weekly round-up of Lima happenings and shenanigans…

Positive news!

I try to keep this blog as apolitical as possible.
The world can be a cruel, hard and heartless place. The media constantly reminds us of this.
It seems that something terrible happens every single day, to the point that we are numbed by it all. Murders, atrocities, wars and more.

I spotted an article this week that gave just a glimmer of hope, a rare piece of positive news.
Wars rages on relentlessly in some countries, modern day Vietnams, to the point where we conveniently forget about them. Syria is a classic example. Five years of complex civil war has left the country in a terrible state. People facing unthinkable suffering and hardship that is impossible for us to imagine.

The photo was of an old woman enjoying a cigarette, in the city of Manbij in Northern Syria.

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Smoking had been banned, but due to the city being liberated, people had poured into the streets to celebrate new freedom. The war is not over, but it is sometimes heartwarming to see images like this.

Like I say, I don’t usually get involved in politics, but this picture struck a chord.

Desafio Huarochiri – reflections…

Race III is over and so is the Desafio Huarochiri series. An excellent league brilliantly organised by Ruth and Ricardo. It was a learning curve almost as steep as the hills we ran up, for me.
Running at altitude for the first time was a breathtaking experience!

Three very different races, but three races that potentially saved my sanity here in the madhouse of Lima. I ran the Lima marathon last year and this year, but it didn’t inspire me one bit. Training and racing in the hills has given me back a fire in my belly and ultimately brought back something that was missing from my running; enjoyment!

Looking back on the three races I have learnt a lot. Here is a quick round-up of them all.

Race I – Cocachacra.

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Two hours up the road and four weeks after the Lima maratón, and with a chronic case of dodgy guts for the whole week leading up to the race, I wasn’t over-optimistic nor confident. A steady start and a completely eye-opening experience. It was an area that I had been round on the Clunk, but I saw it through a different pair of eyes (minus goggles and helmet!)

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I managed to not have an “accident” and even put in a bit of a finish to come home in 19th spot. I made a new friend called Marie and chatted to a lot of people, (something that didn’t happen at the marathon, a very different crowd of people run off-road).
I even got interviewed about sports nutrition, I don’t think I made much sense…

Race II – Matucana.

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My favourite race! Went into it on the back of four hours kip (local party still booming when I went for the bus at 5am, but with a bit of decent training under my belt and an absolutely belting course. A bit of everything; steep climbs, death-defying singletrack trails, technical descents and some fast bits too.

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Made the top ten (9th) and made a lot of new friends. A new neck-o-the-woods for me and a cracking day out.

Race III – San Andres de Tupicocha.

The decider! A much higher altitude race, starting at 3600m (12000ft in old money) and the longest of the three. I knew the course, having done a recce the week before and was familiar with other parts due to Clunking round it last year several times. Two nights of really loud parties in my barrio had left me knackered before the start and a 3:15am alarm call , 4hr bus ride (half of that being off-road) and arriving 10mins afore kick-off, didn’t set me up too well.

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Altitude is a strange thing, it can give you a splitting headache, nausea, shortness of breath and a bloated feeling, just walking around, so running at that height is a tightrope. You really don’t want to blow up halfway round, but I didn’t want to leave too much to do, so it was a balancing act, but to be honest I was goosed from the start. Trotted round in 20th position, to get an overall league position somewhere in the top 20.

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Had a bit of (fallen jack) drama coming home, with a puncture high up in the hills, but 20 of us helped to fix it and we all celebrated with a slap-up meal in Chosica on the way home :-)

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The aftermath…

My legs felt ok the day after, but my body was wrecked for a week. Felt a tiredness I haven’t felt ever. Like the “long (72hr) week” I used to do on shifts. Did some half-hearted training and started to think about the future…

What next???

I don’t have a problem to motivate myself to train, but I need a goal to train hard.
With nothing lined up I was panicking about lapsing back into lazy mode.
I had a day of daydreaming about an incredible race up in “Touching the Void” territory, ‘oop north in Ancash, with a race called “Ande Trail” a high altitude ultramarathon, but with work getting in the way, it would have meant leaving my last class early on Friday (no chance), going straight for the 8 hour overnight bus (no kip) and then taking a one hour Jo Baxi, to arrive just in time (less than zero chance) for a 6:30am start, it just wasn’t going to happen.

There are a lot of incredible races in various parts of the country, but as I work on Saturdays they’re all logistically impossible. I get one Saturday off every 8 weeks, so my next race possibility is the 65km MARCONA WIND TRAIL, 8hrs down south at the end of October. Not in the hills, but along the coast/desert. (The coast is in fact a desert, which is a bit confusing, as it is obviously next to the sea!) Transportwise it’s not going to be easy, but with discounted entry ending this week, I’ll have to make a decision.

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My other project “Doubtful Round” in the local mountains is still work in progress

A big MUCHAS GRACIAS to Ruth, Ricardo, Marie, Lorena, Dick, Karina, Jhon, Armando, Gabriel and everybody else that I met through the Desafio Huarochiri, you’re a top bunch :-)

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A night away!

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Racing and training on a Sunday is awesome, but as it is my only day off work I am acutely aware that I’m not helping at home with the Nipper, so I decided to take ever-patient Lina away for a night, a chance to chill out and escape the noisy neighbourhood of Salamanca, (noisy party capital of Lima!) I also had my first tipple in almost 3 months. Now I’m not much of a boozer these days, but I do enjoy a cerveza, so it was good to have one (or two) :-)

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Uber!

Taxis are the main part of the Lima traffic monster. Over half the limping chaos has a “Taxi” sign on its roof. People take a cab to get from A-to-B quicker, due to heavy traffic made up mostly of taxis! If you have a car, you can basically work (unofficially) as a Taxista.

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There are some good, some bad and some clueless drivers out there, but to be fair it must be a mega-stressful earner. (Although most taxistas do say that you just have to “go with the flow” otherwise it would drive a sane man mad, very quickly!) They can be a fickle breed, picking and choosing their fares/punters. Often they will just say “No” if they don’t want to go to a certain location. It would be like me saying that I don’t want to teach grammar!

I am still unused to haggling. Fares vary hugely, some taxistas budge with their prices, others don’t. There is always another opportunist awaiting behind…

We took a cab on Saturday night. Lina negotiated the price and when I got in and said “Buenas noches” I was blanked, strange. The Taxista was a lady, which is uncommon here. She explained to Lina that she only picked up females, which is a good idea and safer for female passengers, but whenever I spoke/tried to make conversation it was met with a stony silence, I gave up in the end. Coming back a very smartly dressed gentleman in a flashy Hyundai, that was immaculate inside (car washing is high up on the list of male interests here. Most of my neighbours wash their cars every single day). The taxista said that he worked for “Uber” which is a kind of freelance taxi scheme that you can work as little or often as you like. Prices are fixed so you know where you stand/sit. I’ve caught a few Ubers and they are all happy people :-)

And finally…

I have two Junior classes on Saturday and we used to show a film after Final Exam (whilst the Teacher tries to defy time and mark the exam in record time). The remake of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” used to be on the list, but I used tell the kids that the original was much, much better. (Much as I do rate Johnny Depp as an actor, he was never going to beat Gene Wilder). I remember watching the original 1971 film as a nipper and being amazed/half-terrified!
It is a classic, albeit bonkers in parts.
Hope this Monday morning  snippet puts a smile on your face :-)

https://youtu.be/lUtnas5ScSE

Have a superb week.

Cheers
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper

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