Tag Archives: running

A Half Marathon Under the Belt

16 Oct

Ben and I before the race

Yesterday was a busy one, awaking in darkness at 6 am and getting ready to head in to Baltimore with my friend Ben and his girlfriend Mackenzie. Because the Baltimore Marathon was starting ahead of the Half Marathon, parking in the city wasn’t really an option for us, so instead we drove to the closest train station to park and take the public transportation right to the center. For us, it was all starting and ending down by Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. We got in early which was good, because we had enough time to check out the starting line, stretch and do a little pre-jog to get the blood flowing. The sun was starting to heat things up, and we were fortunate enough to have perfect weather for the race.

As time got closer, the racers began to line up in their appropriate waves, and so Ben and I took our place at the front of the line. Even though I’ve run in Ecuador and Argentina, this was my first race in the United States. Things seemed very organized, and our excitement was high as we were cheered on by local politicians and the National Anthem before beginning. We were hoping to complete the 13.1 mile (21 kilometer) race in about 1 hour, 50 minutes, but we hadn’t been training to extensively in the last few weeks. We are, after all, students with busy lives.

The race began downtown and moved quickly to northern neighborhoods of Baltimore. The first five miles were uphill and downhill, wearing a toll on many participants, but we kept on as well as we could, while our aches and pains from months of running and building up were drowned out by determination to finish. The race was nice because we basically got a city tour of Baltimore, and I got to see parts of the city I otherwise never would have. It seemed like we took some sketchy turns at places, and passed through parts of the city where the HBO show “The Wire” might be filmed. Boarded up doors and knocked out windows lined the low-rise houses as lone cops guarded the traffic at intersections and locals supported us as we ran by.

I have to say–the residents of Baltimore were pretty entertaining as we ran by, banging on cowbells, holding up funny and ironic signs, and even dressing in costumes like animals and zombies while dancing on top of cars. The Baltimore Running Festival has grown in size every year since its inception 11 years ago, and this year was another sell out for all of the categories. By the 58th minute we had reached a small but pretty lake and began to turn back to see the thousands of people behind us. Anytime you’re running a race, you get excited to see the mass of people in front of you. But even more exhilarating is seeing the thousands more who are behind you, telling you that you’re doing okay.

After the race, beer and donuts in hand

Helicopters flew overhead and local bands played 80s tunes as we continued down through the city and back towards downtown. We crossed a bridge and were just almost there as the crowds continued to grow. Every two miles we were resupplied with water and Gatorade, and I kept falling in a trap whereby I’d use the water to clean off the Gatorade on my hands, then get Gatorade and spill it on my hands while running, spending the next two miles trying to lick it off until I got water again. This was the first time I ate an energy bar during a race, and I feel like it really helped in the later miles.

To end it all we ran through Camden Yards, which was my first experience in the ball park, and then crossed the finish line in the parking lot at M&T Bank Stadium, where the Ravens play. I thought we were going to end on the field, but I guess they have a game there today. Our official time was 1 hour, 51 minutes, 55 seconds. We guessed pretty well what we would get. In the staging area we were given medals and heat sheets, food, water, and vouchers for beer which we gladly accepted. I still love my traditional celebratory beer post-race. There was even a free photo booth and to cap it off, we ate some donuts before heading back to Washington.

So now I’ve got a half marathon under my belt, and if you think I’m going to tackle a full marathon next, you’re crazy. As thrilling as it was to complete it and even though at the time I felt like I could keep going, I don’t think I have it in me for 26.2 mile run. My body isn’t hurting as badly as it could, but I don’t know if it can handle that much exertion. For now I’m going to cut back and go back to running 10 kilometer runs just like in Argentina and Ecuador. That’ll do, pig.

Ready for the Baltimore Half Marathon

14 Oct

Continuing with my running habit that I picked up in South America, tomorrow I’ll be running in the Baltimore Half Marathon with my old friend Ben from back home. This is 21 kilometers, or 13.1 miles, which is the most I’ve ever run. We’ve come pretty close on our training runs, reaching up to about 17 kilometers, which was no walk in the park. The temperature has cooled down now that we’re in autumn, and it’s supposed to be sunny and crisp tomorrow, so we’ll have a good chance of running to full potential. After training for this race for probably over three months, I’m ready for it to be over already. My body is tired and strained, and training for such a long race is not easy on a normal person.

Today we went into Baltimore to pick up our running kit, containing some coupons, free energy bars, and of course the race shirt. It’s actually a huge day for running in Baltimore, with the Baltimore Marathon, Half Marathon, 5K and relay race. Our race kicks off at 9:45 am, so it’s going to be a 6 am wake up call in order to make it to the starting line on time. After running this half marathon, my running will tone down a bit. Mostly because I probably won’t run such a long distance race again, but also because the weather is getting colder out and the opportunity to run will be more limited. It’s hard enough these days between work and school to get a decent workout in, but we all do what we can. For tomorrow, anyway, it’s all about the running.

A Cold Day in Hell, I Mean Buenos Aires

23 May

It’s cold today, and the forecast shows that it’s going to stay this way and get worse from here on out. Compared to other places in the world, Boston for example, this is not cold. In fact, friends back home would say I’ve gone soft, and the truth is, I have. After three years out of a Boston winter, the slightest bit of weather change gets me sick and if it’s not over 70 Fahrenheit, I consider it chilly. What can I say? I was born in July and am a warm weather baby. I need to be in shorts and a t-shirt to truly be happy. I don’t mind sweating when it’s hot out (in small doses), but freezing cold while already bundled up is no way to live.

This is kind of a concern because now as it gets colder, my will to run is diminishing quickly. Rather than being outside cold and sweating at the same time, which only makes me think of how it’s going to get me sick, I’d rather be indoors warm and resting up, hibernating like a bear. But alas, I still have my running team and have resigned myself to at the very least continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Where I once yearned to run at least four days a week, I’m now struggling to put in the bare minimum two. Last Thursday they gave us new long sleeve shirts, so maybe that will help a bit.

On Wednesday Argentina will celebrate the 25 de Mayo festivals, and though I said the FILA race was going to be my last one in April, I was roped into running this 10k early in the morning in the cold. There seem to be more and more races now, and I say yet again, this will be the last one I do until getting back to warm weather. I just don’t run well in the cold and don’t enjoy the sport as much when I’m too cold to feel my nose.

Speaking of cold, hell must have frozen over because today I actually got some help from an Argentine government office. Ironically, it’s located in the United States. You see, way back when I started all of my paperwork to get citizenship in Argentina, we called upon the Argentine Consulate of New York to begin the process. The consular officer there was awfully helpful and friendly with my mom, and I’ve since enlisted her help on a couple of other occasions. This time, I called to see if anything could be done about my DNI. If you’ll remember, the Registro de las Personas has been holding it up due to my mother’s maiden name. I spoke to two consular officers and both were very sympathetic and understanding, and agreed that the workers at the Registros here are idiots.

The consular officer who has helped us all along then called the Registro de las Personas in Buenos Aires on my behalf and explained the situation, that she personally inscribed me in their consulate, and that I am a citizen of Argentina. That information will be given to a judiciary committee, where my paperwork is currently held up for a closer review. Hopefully, her good word will be enough, and if not she said she would mail a letter from the consulate on my behalf. If that still doesn’t do the trick, and they wind up rejecting my paperwork again, she said the consulate will take care of it for me in New York when I return in July.

It would be a big waste of time, of course, and it’s not ideal, but at least we know that the whole process won’t have failed and been for nothing. If I need to do it in New York it will take another 4-5 months or so, and the officer told me how ironic it is, that after all this time, if I’d just done it there with them I would have had it so long ago. Live and learn, I suppose. It’s just nice to see that finally someone in the Argentine government is working to help me out, even if they aren’t even in the country,

The FILA 10k, Or In Other Words, A Complaint

17 Apr

That's me! On the right

This morning I woke up before sunrise to get ready for the FILA 10k in Palermo, a race which had only been hosted in Buenos Aires for the second time. I have been running consistently for months now, so while I trained hard for the Nike 10 in November and was very concerned about my time, I didn’t really give much thought to this race. It’s not to say that I didn’t put effort in or thought I was going to breeze by–on the contrary. It’s simply that running long distances has become such a normal part of my life now that the idea of running a 10k is no longer as crazy as it once was.

Things for this race got off to a bad start, however. First, in order to pay I had to go to a sporting goods store in the center three times. The reason was that the first time I went, they said I had the wrong form. The second time they told me they were unable to break a $100 for the $65 fee (very sketchy that they had no change on them). So I had to find the change in order to go back later on. Next, the shirt provided was easily two sizes bigger than what it should have been. The medium I chose could easily pass for an extra large, and it actually can make a difference as you run.

The route for this race was for some reason put much farther away than usual, close to the River Plate stadium. I met up with some other guys from my running team and we took the Subte after it opened at 8 am. Even after we took the Subte to the last stop, we had to jog to the starting line for a good 10-15 minutes. The forecast had called for thunderstorms, which rolled in overnight, and as we cued up to get our chips and put away our clothes, the cold rain began. It was nasty and demoralizing. I’ve always had great luck with the weather when running a race, but this was the first time when I had a bad day to run on. We warmed up as it rained, and shortly before the race got under way it stopped raining, though the damage was done.

As usual, in the larger races a large amount of people who don’t usually run decide to go for it, which I think is great. However, they don’t know where they belong in the starting line and crowd up at the front, causing a major jam up for the first few kilometers. This was made even worse today because of the awful route chosen, which had us zig zagging through narrow streets with cars and broken sidewalks on each end. There was no where to run to, and I had to drift behind people ruining my rhythm. Everything I had been training for was essentially thrown off because I couldn’t run comfortably.

Earlier in the week during a training run I pushed myself a bit too hard and strained my right shin, and though I had tried to rest it up before, my leg was still sore as the race started. This caused me to lag a bit, and added in with the rain and soaking in the cold, I didn’t feel at my best. Only once was water handed out, and eventually I got to the finish line in 44 minutes 55 seconds. I ended up finishing in 318th place overall out of 3,312, 25th out of men my age, and 297th out of men overall. It’s still a good time, but it’s not my best and I’m disappointed in that I couldn’t come up with a better time.

Every time I run one of these races I tell myself that this is the last one, but I always get caught up in it again. Just today I was told about a 21k in June, but I don’t think I’m going to be trying for that one. For now, I feel tired and need some time to rest and regroup. I’ve run three races in the last month, which is more that most people do in their whole lives. The day didn’t end with the race, and in the following post, I’ll talk about my trip to a Boca Juniors game.

Fighting Food Poisoning

31 Mar

At some point in my trip to Chile I became ill with food poisoning, though it didn’t hit me until I came back to Buenos Aires. It could have been from eating a lot of shellfish while on the coast, or it could be from what I think was bad food at the airport. In any case, I haven’t felt right since Sunday night, and anyone who’s ever had food poisoning can imagine that it’s an uncomfortable feeling. I’ve had stomach pains, vomited early Monday morning, and have been weak and not my usual self.

The food poisoning has caused me to lose my appetite and eat very little, while putting running on hold and trying to rest up. I’ve been getting by the last few days on a steady diet of soup, bland crackers and water, tea and occasionally Gatorade. Yesterday I felt a bit better, though today I slid backwards. I’ve done some reading online and listened to friends here, and it seems like I have to force myself to eat normal food again, slowly anyway. It’s important to get some meat into my body, so I’ve started with chicken yesterday for lunch and again today.

Tonight I’m going to try running a little with the team, simply because I don’t want to fall out of my training. I’ve signed up for the Carrera de Miguel on Sunday, and though it’s only 8 kilometers this year, I want to be well prepared. I did this race last year when it was a 10k, but I’m looking at it as a training run for the FILA 10k which I’ll run in on April 17th. By this point my body should have had sufficient resting time, and now I have to get back out there and move again. The weather has been fair this week as we ease into the fall, and I want to take as much advantage of this weather as I can while it’s still available.

The UNICEF 7k Race for Education

13 Mar

This morning I took part in the UNICEF 7k Race for Education in the Palermo woods, and for now my unofficial time is 30 minutes and 6 seconds. It seems like a good time, but it’s hard for me to know for sure because I’m so used to thinking in terms of 10k’s. In any case, we had a clear day but a heavy rainstorm came in yesterday and brought a cold front with it. This might be the end of summer, which is the worst news possible. Last night and today have felt like pure autumn days, with winds and cold that leaves goosebumps on your skin.

During the week we had intense heat and humidity, but now we’ve taken a sharp turn and with the change in the weather, I hope I don’t get sick. You can see people bundled up, though that would most likely be attributed to the quick drop in temperature with no time to adjust. There are more races coming up now that summer is ending and the temperatures are cooling, but I think I might only have one more race in me while in Buenos Aires. I’m not a very good cold weather runner, and late April is about as far as I’m willing to push it.

This race today seemed to have poor organization from the get-go. 10 minutes before the starting time you could find about half of the runners still lined up to put away their belongings or waiting to pick up their electronic chips. This caused a bit of a delay in the actual start time. Two routes were available–one of 3 kilometers (more kid friendly) and one of 7 kilometers (more competitive). The two routes deviated at one point and as my experience in other races has shown, once you get past the split in groups it’s clear sailing. By the time you get to the finish line the slower people are either behind you or finished from the shorter route.

Yet on this track the route doubled up towards the end, rather than the beginning, so in the last kilometer I had to weave in between those who had already given up and decided to walk. Once finished, it took forever to get our belongings back. It seemed like after handing our stuff over the staff just threw the bags on the ground haphazardly, and then had no system for finding them. But anyway, I digress. It can’t get any worse than the 15k I ran in Quito in June, 2009 when people were running across the street and crowding into the lane with zero crowd control. Now it’s time to train for another 10k.

Notes from the Nike 10k: Success, But Ultimately Disappointed

14 Nov

15,000 Runners for the Nike 10k

As I wrote in the post leading up to the Nike 10k yesterday in Puerto Madero, my biggest concern was that I had set my expectations too high and would face disappointment if I couldn’t reach my goals. I’m the kind of person who sets my mind to something and won’t be happy until it’s completed. I don’t like putting my efforts in half-assed, and the training I put into this race was the same way. Rushing home from work I would change quickly and in the dark of winter to the dusk of spring, run through the street dodging people, traffic, and even once a horse-drawn carriage. On weekends I would wake up tired from the night before but go harder, getting faster nearly every time.

This caused me to have a goal of something like under 44 minutes, in the 43 minute region. I was really shooting for that. But in the end, my final time was 44 minutes, 40 seconds. Out of 15,000 runners I finished in 718th place. You have to be kind of careful with the numbers because the “official” time is 45:43, but the net time is 44:40. That means that the race started, but because so many people were in front of me I didn’t cross the starting line until 1:03 had passed. Out of my category, I finished in 591st place.

Yesterday I got my personal best, and in fact, every race I’ve ever run in has been my personal best, meaning I’ve always improved. But I’m still disappointed because I was hoping to finish just a minute earlier. It might just be aiming too high or being too perfectionist, but after the intense training I was hoping for more than a minute improvement from the last 10k I ran in August. I have some theories, so bare with me if I make excuses.

  • I was under the weather the week leading up to the race, and only the day before my body felt like it was hit by a car. I had to drink a liter of orange juice and take all kinds of meds to feel right again.
  • I did the right thing by lining up in the middle where my speed dictated I stand. Yet THOUSANDS of people in front of me clogged the starting line and caused a monumental traffic jam for the first two kilometers.

That last point is a serious concern of mine. The organizers of the race asked for people to line up in three stages based off of their projected speed (under 4 minute km, 4-5 minute km, over 5 minute km). I got up to the edge of under 4 and betwee

At Km 8

n 4-5, where I belonged. Yet thousands of people pushed ahead of me to get to the front, creating a jam which caused me to cross the starting line at 1 minute. That happens in all races, but with a narrow street, I had to nearly walk the first kilometer, stuck behind a wall of people not accelerating.

The first two kilometers were painfully slow and dangerous as I had to weave all over the roads and sidewalks to get where I needed to be. I remember seeing people before the race pushing ahead of me, and I thought that they didn’t look like competitive racers. Sure enough, I passed them by 1 1/2 kilometers. Even just a kilometer of having to go at a slower pace can take off a lot of time, but also throw off your personal rhythm. Once the second kilometer was passed we rounded a corner heading to the center, and finally it cleared up enough so that I could move freely and pass by people.

Throughout the entire race I was passing people steadily, leading me to believe that if I too had pushed to the front, I could have finished with a much better place and time. Of course, the place is also misleading because if you tie with someone else, someone gets a better place, and it doesn’t take into account at what time you start the race, only when you finish. Basically, if you start at 1:12 and the guy next to you started at :30, but he crosses a second before you, he “technically” finished first.

Aside from the griping, it was a beautiful day, and the weather conditions couldn’t have been better, just like last year’s race. This is the 6th race I’ve run, and I’ve been lucky with perfect weather on all of them. With a sea of bright yellow shirts, we ran from Puerto Madero up to the center, passing by the Cabildo, Obelisk, down past the onlookers to the Correo Central and back to Puerto Madero for a lap. I maintained a steady pace throughout, and as always kicked it up after the 5th kilometer. My run was fairly consistent because my 5k time was 23:14 (gross). At the 8th kilometer I tried to get faster and for a while did, but the 9th kilometer dragged and my attempt to finish hard ended in fatigue.

After the Race

Upon crossing the finish line we got our chips cut off our shoes and given little medals, followed by loud electronic music and a live show. I never found my co-worker Euge in the middle of the crowd, but my friend Thom came out to support me and after we got a couple of beers by the port. With the sun setting behind the sailboats, it was a perfect way to end the day, and even though I didn’t finish as I wanted to, I can’t deny that I did well. After all, I’m not a real runner anyway, right? The scary thought is that now I’m left thinking, I could have done better. Or in other words, I can do better, I will do better. Ugh, I’m getting too old for this shit.

*The top photo is courtesy of La Nacion.

Awaiting the Nike 10k

12 Nov

After more than two months of hard training and more than who knows how many months (six maybe?) of thinking about this race, tomorrow is finally the big day for the Nike 10k in Puerto Madero. I’ve done 10ks before, so this really shouldn’t be a big deal, but since I’ve been talking it up so much and the office is all behind me on it, I’m almost a bit nervous like I was for my first race back in Cuenca in April 2009. Mainly, I just don’t want to screw up after training for so long.

The main difference that I see this time around is that I actually have expectations. Part of the reason that I always had so much fun with the races in the past was because I knew I wasn’t coming close to winning, but just finishing was enough for me. But now I actually have a goal in mind, and I want to finish in under 45 minutes, the time that I got in the last 10k in August. For that race, I wasn’t really training because it was winter, and now I’ve been working hard to get better. With expectations comes the risk of disappointment.

The biggest concern that I have now is that since Monday, a cold front has swept across Buenos Aires. The drastic change in temperature has seemingly caused everyone to get a cold, and I’ve been feeling under the weather all week. The forecast is looking good for tomorrow, but I need to hope that I wake up feeling better. Today I drank a liter of orange juice in addition to eating two oranges, taking ibuprofin and some effervescent vitamins. I just ate a big carbo-loaded dinner of pasta, and now I just need to relax until the race at 5 pm.

I’m not sure what the event planners in the city were thinking when they fixed up November 13th, but not only is the Nike 10k going on, but Creamfields music festival, the Jonas Brothers concert, and a number of other things are happening in Buenos Aires. To make sure I get there in good time and avoid traffic problems, I’m meeting up with my buddy Thom at 3:45 in the center, then meeting up with my co-worker Euge, who’s also running in the race at 4:30 down by the starting point. No matter what happens, it should be fun.