Good morning folks
I trust you had an awesome weekend.
Here is the weekly Lima round-up.
This week has mainly been taken up with thinking about/being distracted by Race II of the mighty Desafio Huarochiri. Busy as a busy bee at work, but all roads led to Matucana this week…
If walking-in-a-non-straight-line, two-people-taking-up-an-entire-pavement and not-paying-any-attention-to-where-you-are-walking, ever become Olympic sports, Peru will have a clean sweep in all three events!
Every day walking to work, or whenever I go training in the nearby yonder hills, I have to pass via one of the busiest pedestrian crossroads in Lima; Javier Prado with Evitamiento. It is busy from 5am until gone 10pm. If you imagine Coney Street, Briggate or Oxford Street at Christmas, you’re not even close!
Running is a complete nightmare there, but it is the only way. You are looking at the crumbling pavement/potholes/pedestrians all at the same time, it is full-on.
On Thursday a rather portly old lad suddenly swayed and blocked my path, forcing me off the pavement, where I stumbled immediately over a well-concealed tree trunk and went through a slow-motion-windmill show of complete lack of coordination. I thought I was going to be able to save it, to pull out at the last minute, but alas, I crashed straight to the pavement face first.
A women walking past tutted at me and scowled “Cuidado” (Be careful), a bit late for that love!
Race II – Matucana awaits…
A week of late nights and early starts had me hoping for a decent nights kip, but a party nearby raged from 8pm until gone 5am Sunday morning, so the 4am buzzing of my alarm had me groaning a bit. The bus was a wee bit late away and we hit traffic straight away, so it was always going to be a rush to the start. Matucana is at KM74 on the Carretera Central at a lofty height of 2389m (7841ft in old money). Dashing around getting ready at the start left me breathless, but that was just the start…
I had no idea about the route, except that it was 13 miles with 4700ft of climbing, with 2 climbs.
Very different to the last race, it passed through a series of tiny, tinpot villages which seemed in in idyllic isolation from the chaos of Lima, 2hrs down the road. A steep climb through high level pastures, full of cows, donkeys and bemused locals wondering where all these brightly dressed active folk had come from, breathing heavily as they shuffled uphill.
Straightaway you could feel the altitude, the air tastes sharper, the sky looks bluer (even for somebody as colourblind as me), the smells smell stronger and the sun beating down (at 9am) already felt a lot hotter than the cloudy, grey of Lima I had left 3hrs earlier. I was expecting a Peruvian Heidi and Tio Peter to appear any moment.
(Pic courtesy of conturarhbch.com)
Altitude is a funny thing, you either cope with it, or suffer like a sickly dog. For folk who live and train there, it must be a HUGE advantage, for the likes of me, it was never going to be a walk in the park. Up and up and up and up, then a long traverse along the most amazing cinder track (where a slip to one’s left would most probably result in a grim ending). I had become separated from the breakaway leaders up front and the peloton chasing, in no-man’s land but enjoying the P&Q. I sensed footsteps behind and glanced but saw nobody, and glanced again and saw three local hound-dogs trailing me, company for the downhill stretch to the next checkpoint.
Just jogging along patiently, not trying to nip my heels nor wanting to get past.
After the long plunge downhill, I knew the uphill would be hard and when I tried to run it, it felt like somebody had taken my lungs out and removed my battery. There was nothing at all, nothing, with a long way to go. The flat bits were becoming harder and even though my legs weren’t (yet) shot, the downhills were getting trickier too.
I could hear two blokes getting closer, egging each other on rowdily. Then they shouted “VAMOS ESPAñA!” It took me a second to work out, they were mixing up the claret-and-gold of my Pudsey & Bramley vest, with the Spanish flag. They obviously hadn’t heard my dodgy pronunciation!
I pulled myself out of the rut and soldiered on. It was red hot in the sun and incredibly cold in the shade. Dirt tracks led to a rare waddle in some mud (first mud I’ve seen here) and then an absolutely breathtaking panorama at the last checkpoint. I had a heavy breather hot on my heels and was keen to crack on. Around this point we caught the tail-end of the shorter (6 mile)race and were running into tail-enders. Being overpolitely British, I wasn’t quite sure of the etiquette here. The final descent was a twisty string of zig-zags on a chossy mixed bag of gravel and bigger boulders, culminating in a brilliant toboggan run style tube of loose rock.
Mr. Heavy Breather wasn’t holding back and was shouting “Paso, paso, PASO” at the punters in front of me, they all jumped out of their skin and took a step to the side. I felt bad about this, as I am no more worthy/special than any other runner and this poor lot must have thought the abrupt rudeness was coming from me!
Around about this time, I did something that I have wanted to do (on the hills) for many, many years. I suddenly grew a pair! Descending has never been a strongpoint of mine. I took a crashing fall on Causey Pike years back and did my back in and never really got over it, resulting in always holding back on the descents. I just thought “Sod it, go for it!”
Mr. Heavy Breather was dropped and I passed a fair chunk of people. Down, down, down to the long main street and then under the Salomon arch and the Finish!
9th place in 2hrs 39mins. Knackered, but chuffed to bits
As our bus wasn’t leaving for 3hrs, I spent the afternoon getting sunburnt and mooching round the square. I even made a few new friends too, which is always good.
Ruth, the amazing Organiser & Lorena, who had also run the same race as me.
The traffic limping back to Lima was like an all-out war, but 2.5hrs later (for a 45 mile slog), I was home.
Race III in 4 weeks, longer and starting at an altitude of 10744ft, it should be an interesting jaunt!
Sorry for the entirely running-biased blog. Next week will be a bit more eclectical..
Have yourself a superb week.
Johnny, Lina and the Nipper.