01 January 2011

Running on the Road

No, not as in road running, though I've done plenty of that. But since I've been traveling, the past two and a half weeks, I've run every day except some evil all-day travel days (so I think just two times I've skipped running). I've run on the beach. I've run with a total stranger, talking in a combination of Spanish and English. (He wanted to practice his English, and I my Spanish.) I've run past shacks, on dirt roads, past fancy hotels, past boats, along the beach, up hills that some might call mountains, past cars whistling, past trucks, past thoughts of back home, past wonders about where to next, past it all. Up sweaty streets, dripping, while the locals yell, "Chela! Chela! Chelita!" and other things at me. I try to blend in but hard when you're blonde in a ponytail in full running regala when no one else is dressed like that.
But what else can I do? I'm a runner. I do my thing, wherever I go.

Today was an interesting day. I had to do a long one - I've been taking some much-needed rest time. But today, the first day of the year, I did a long run, very necessary for Umstead. Because of Spanish classes, and extreme chafing issues, I only ran 4.5 hours. During that time, I drank 2 liters of water and a bottle of Powerade. Not wanting to get lost, and not sure what was safest (a long wandering run might not be safest), I picked a few streets and ran up and down them repeatedly. It was a little boring, but as I have found comfort in loop courses, it ended up being okay. Sure, I knew when I'd see those sexually harassing jerks yet again (which are way too common down here, argh), but I ended up saying "Hola" and "Adios" to many people. 

On my last laps, in excruciating pain (oh, chafing, and oh how I miss my body glide), I ended up talking to a few of my "friends." One woman told me how she saw me three times (Nicaragua is a country where people stand on the street, mill around, chill out all day, sit in their rocking chairs on the sidewalk, and several New Years' Day parties were going on) and how I needed a little beer. I argued with her about how a cerveza was not a good idea, that mi agua was more than adequate, and told her about running ultramarathons (all in Spanish, yay). Then, these men were stringing up a pinata further down the street, and I pretended to run through the string like I was finishing a race - and the twenty or thirty people watching all began laughing and cheering and clapping - it was great.

I feel like you get to know a different side of a culture through running. I see places I shouldn't see - not like I stick to the sterile tourist trap trail anyway, but I head out beyond the limits of what most people see. I engage in a different way, view things in a different way - all because of the power of my running sneakers!

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