20 February 2012

Run Dance Run (Repeat!)

Compared to most of this country, I'm in stellar shape. For me, I'm in terrible shape.

Saturday I headed out to meet Erin, Barbara and Phil at the George Washington Bridge Bus terminal - yes, I ran there. When I got there, I doubted I could run over the bridge, much less complete a 4-5 hour workout, full of stair repeats.

I showed myself I could.

We were excited and nervous and all feeling out of shape. This run only pushed my desire to get into MUCH better shape. We did repeats down from the cliffs we run at on the top of the Pallisades down to the banks of the Hudson. And then Phil and Barbara left us and Erin and I continued, talking, struggling, feeling okay. I ate a lot, feeling hungry. Finally, we finished.

When I ran into my apartment, I scared Wayne with how fast I was in a chair, eating. Luckily, he understood, and scrambled me some eggs to go with my cauliflower curry and bread deliciousness.

I went out at night, to the Silent Mobile Disco. Basically, everyone wears headphones which you can tune to two different stations and the sound is excellent and we go around in the subways and end up at a bar and then back in more subway time...so fun! It was one of the most fun I've had in eons, dancing, laughing...

The hard part was getting up after going to bed at 330am. Wayne made a smoothie, and we slowly, very slowly, got out of the house. Bagels on the way, and we munched as we drove up to beloved Bear Mountain.

Unfortunately, my legs were PISSED. They were slow - tired from the 7 hour 15 minute run from the day before, and tired from dancing essentially all night in my pink cowgirl boots. I felt dead - I could barely walk, much less run. Plus, I was famished. I was tripping and crying and it was awful. We slogged on a run/hike for 3 hours 11 minutes, and gratefully collapsed into the car, where we had left delicious post-run treats.

We went to Stew Leonard's, which we always passed heading back to the city. We had heard it was good. It's not. It was awful, expensive, Americana full of kids screaming, the parents ignoring them, piling six boxes of cookies into their cart (I am NOT exaggerating.). We got out of there quick, headed home, and promptly passed out on our bed. Then we woke up, got French food, and stayed up late enough for it to be our one year anniversary!

One Year

What have I done in one year?

In one year, I have run three 100 milers, some 50 milers and 50ks.

I've gone to Florida, to Vermont, to Lake Tahoe, to Reno twice, to Black Rock City (my home!), to Big Sur, to San Francisco, to San Quentin, to New Orleans, to Florida again, to Connecticut, to Philly, to Peru, to a lot of other places.

But really, what I did do?

I fell in love, hard. In the hallway of my teammate's studio, after making a phone call, you came out and somehow we ended up kissing, feeling that zing, realizing wow, this was something special.

Our second date lasted an entire weekend, and when Monday morning came, we realized we didn't want it to end. So we didn't let it. And we've been on that second date since then.

Happy Anniversary, babe. One year and many more...

17 February 2012

Getting Back Into It

Because I can only run slow and short so long.

Got a haircut.

Back to cooking: soups, stews, breads, intricate salads.

Got the Burning Man tickets, luckily. Will be planning more than ever this year, but promise myself I won't let myself get stressed out about it. (Or run a 100 miler a few days after Burning Man!)

But I'm getting back into it.

I've been to the gym four times this week already.

I've run every day, and today I'm running twice.

I'm psyched about Dances with Dirt Green Swamp 50 Miler and Bear Mountain 50 Miler and Traprock 50k and Febapple 50k and whatever else I decide to do.

Tomorrow I'm running to Washington Heights and then doing miserable hill repeats with friends. Then Bear Mountain on Sunday.

I'm headed to Europe for work two weeks from today.

And a million other things but I know it's going to get better.

13 February 2012


I'm officially in a running slump.

I changed my mind and decided to NOT sign up for the Santa Barbara 100 Miler - it's partially because I'm running around so much lately (Peru in January-February; North Carolina in February; Europe in early March; Florida in late March; plus a lot of other plans on the horizon, including Vermont, Burning Man, and whatever else...) but really, because honestly, I don't feel like running 100 miles. I'd rather run 50. I haven't 100% ruled out flying out for the 50 miler, but maybe I should be good with my money and just find a local race. Or one where I can visit Gram in Florida at the same time.

But a combination of a bunch of things - depression, staying at high altitude for a while, exhaustion, lack of time - has led my running to turn to pure crap. I'm not even sure if I could keep up with an NBR run. Wayne and Nelson have been patient, though I'm pretty sure I deserved to be tossed off that pier in Williamsburg the other day.

It's also the cold. I hate NYC in the winter. I wish we had tunnels and I love when I work at home and drink endless cups of tea and snuggle with my kitty. I find it harder to run fast and get that feeling of being alive when it is 20 degrees and windy out and I'm running next to the East River, or worse, above it.

When I came home this morning, post slow-55 minute run and lifting weights at the gym, when I complained, Wayne suggested I need some sprints. Sprints?! Can't I have cupcakes instead?! I feel like if I did sprints they would come out at an 8:30 pace and I would be sore after. Or something. I just don't know what to do.

But I'm going to keep running. I think I'll pick up the training - do some more cross-training at the gym, if it gets above brutal temps, I'll ride to work (but that probably won't be an option until April....), and yes, Wayne, I'll do some evil sprints. 

But yes, I'm in a slump, and I'm going to focus on getting out of it now...because I want running to be my delightful time instead of a miserable time.

08 February 2012

The Things You Remember

How someone laughed. The twinkle in their eye. How they tickled you when you were small. The space they took up.

And what you don't realize...

The space they leave behind seems even vaster than you ever thought possible.

05 February 2012

Lima the Lovely...(Lima, Part IV)

Who knew we'd love Lima so much? My Spanish teacher said it was boring, Lonely Planet didn't make it sound exciting, others yawned through it...but four times wasn't enough Lima for me!

My fourth time was really fun, though I received some extremely sad news halfway through it. My uncle died. He had been diagnosed with cancer on 8th of December, so much of my time I felt quite sad. Otherwise, the trip was good.

We arrived late, of course, because Taca sucks, and I was still weak with food poisoning. But we were happy. We unpacked a little, walked around, found someplace terrible to eat. Let's just say that even if you did pay 20 soles for your food, if it's a taco served in a plastic bag, it's not good. Oh my....and the pisco sours tasted like margaritas!

We headed out to see el Circuito del Magico Agua which sounds really stupid but it's really awesome (and the Dutch and German girls we met in Lake Titicaca were SO right!). It's a giant park of all these different fountains with lights and music...SO fun! We had a blast...

The next morning we got up, went for a run along the cliffs above the beach. Of course our flight was late but luckily we checked online so we spent the day doing stuff, in between checking online. We ate an amazing lunch, walked to the beach, saw a rad street parade in Plaza del Armas, went to Museo de la Nacion, ate at a fancy cafe with a spectacular-looking sundae.

It's funny - we never expected to fall in love with Lima so much, but we did. We fell so hard we changed our flight, and our hearts are sad to leave. Oh Lima, Nelson was so right...

Machu Picchu!

After the hassle to get to the place, I must admit, it was worth it.
                Wayne and I woke up at 4am, had a quick brekkie at our hostel, and began the 1.25-1.5 hour (depending on your ability…obviously, we were the faster ones!) trek up to Machu Picchu. By hiking up, you save $9USD (which is a complete rip-off considering it’s probably a 15 minute drive!) and you get to get there early to ensure you are at the start of the line when entering. You don’t want all your photos to have a million people in them, so this is a great option to avoid that.
                The hike was harder than we thought, all uphill, all stairs, but it felt great to hike so early in the morning. We had timed it well so we only had a few minutes at the gate (strip away layers of clothing, apply sunblock, drink water) before the gate opened. Show your passports, your tickets, and everyone rushes to take the classic photos – which of course, we quickly did. We had about an hour before we hiked Waynapicchu, so we walked around, took photos, saw some interesting animals and bugs, and then headed over to the line at Waynapicchu.
                The hike was hard – pretty much all uphill, with tiny little Inca stone steps. You had to climb through these little caves, and then at the final point, pull yourself up on a rock, which I did not like. The view would have been amazing were it not cloudy, so we decided to rest and wait for the clouds to pass. We drank, ate some of our snacks that we weren’t supposed to bring in, and talked. And then the clouds passed and we got our money shots.
It was beautiful. It was good to go – to see the place you’ve seen in movies, everywhere. It was beautiful, it was well-preserved, and of course, it was interesting. They didn’t use mortar. Stones perfectly fit together. It was just gorgeous.           
Going down was a different story. I was miserable. I’m not afraid of heights, I’m afraid of things I can fall through. Why I ever decided to climb that epic pyramid at Tikal is beyond me, and that was way scarier, but still, going down here was frightening. There was one point where there were little tiny steps that went down down down a really long steep while – with a sheer cliff so if you tripped, you’d fall several thousand feet. That freaked me out. Between Wayne and the Spanish guy who sat across from us on the train, I made it down, pouring sweat. Wayne’s knees were hurting on the downs, so yes, I would recommend you be absolutely fit to do this, as we are a point of two fit individuals who didn’t even have the easiest time.  
                By this point, we spent our final hours walking around, taking photos, climbing steep stone steps, walking out to the bridge (Beautiful, but now closed due to a tourist falling to their death some years back.). Finally, we were beat.
                But not beat enough to hop on the bus. Wayne and I hiked down, which was a lot faster than going up, but still not super easy. We entered town, chilled at our hostel, ate the yogurt that gave me food poisoning, and were glad.
                We had hiked from 4:40a.m. until 1:30 p.m. We were tired, but we felt glad with our accomplishments.

To & Fro Machu Picchu!

                Of course I wanted to go to Machu Picchu. This was the reason I was in Peru: I couldn’t decide between going to Peru and Chile, and my boyfriend picked Peru because he wanted to go to Machu Picchu. So of course I would go. It’s the #1 tourist destination in Peru.
                But it’s not easy to go. In fact, I describe the prep to Wayne as “a dark cloud hanging over our trip.”
                We headed to the train station to get tickets – only to learn that was the locals’ only train. We got advice and picked up our tickets from the Ministry of Culture – we got the full deal including the hike to Waynapicchu at 7am (which is the time you want – it gets sunnier and hotter and it’s a pretty difficult hike.
                Then we went to Peru Rail (as Jon pointed out to us, it’s in Plaza de las Armas in between McDonald’s (ugh) and KFC (ugh)), and the prices were absurd. $218USD for two round-trip tickets. We went to Inka Rail, where the tickets were just $160USD for two round-trip tickets. So we bought them – make sure you buy them in advance as we got the last two tickets on our train (and they weren’t next to each other, although the conductor arranged is so that we could sit together). And buy your tickets in advance as much as you can for Machu Picchu as well – we were fine because we were in the low season, but during the dry season (especially June, July, August), you really need to buy them in advance because there is a limited number of tickets per day. You can also buy them online and print out the tickets.
                So it was a hassle and yes, expensive. (When you figure that I can eat a big meal for $2 or $3 USD, you understand why those costs are so ridiculous for Peru.)
                The trains weren’t running direct from Cusco to Machu Picchu either – you could buy the costly Peru Rail bus to the train in Ollyantaytambo, but instead, you can take a combi (5 soles) or a collectivo (10 soles). We hopped in a cab, asking it to take us to the combis and collectivos. The driver bargained with us, and he ended up driving us all to way to Ollanta, including a stop in Salinas so we could see the salt pans (very cool).
                We arrived at the main square of Ollanta and it was lightly drizzling. We had a small meal with juice, and then we walked to the local Inca ruins which were incredibly beautiful. This was the site of a Inca-Spanish battle, with the Inca winning – they let their water stores loose and flooded the fields and the Spaniard’s horses couldn’t charge. Wooohooo!
                After we walked around the ruins, we still had time to kill, so we got another small meal at the amazing Hearts CafĂ© – probably the best meal we had in all of Peru. And then we walked down to the train station and boarded the scenic ride to Machu Picchu. (Actually, the town of Aguas Calientes, which is where you need to stay if you want to get to Machu Picchu when the gates open.)
                On the way back, it was a little different. We were both extremely exhausted from having woken up at 4am, hiked from 4:40a.m. until 1:30 p.m., and I was on the starts of food poisoning. Yes, food poisoning. How miserable.
                We arrive and after a bit of seat shuffling, were sitting across from each other and next to these horrible middle-aged Canadian couple. The guy took up half my seat, which made my ill ride even more miserable, and they said things like, “Now, not to stereotypes, but some groups of certain kinds of people…” I wanted them to shut up as I felt wretched.
                After the train ride ended, we scrambled off nearly last and ended up in a miserable collectivo ride back to Cusco. As I was really sick, I tried to pass out and focused my waking moments on not throwing up all over myself and Wayne. Lucky for us, our driver couldn’t find anyone else so we had the whole back seat to ourselves.
                When we finally arrived in Cusco, I didn’t care that a place like Machu Picchu existed. I spent the rest of the evening getting sick and sleeping the miserable sleep of the sick. It was horrendous. Poor Wayne took care of me, Googling “salmonella poisoning” in between, as we wondered about those delicious pisco sours (which contain raw egg).

04 February 2012

Cusco, Part II

After a nice long interesting bus ride, Wayne and I rolled into Cusco into the hands of a complete jerk of a cab driver. He dropped us off a few blocks away, got pissed b/c I wouldn't pay double the price (that is normal). Ugh.

We got to our place, Hostal Suecia 2, which was a complete nightmare. The woman was completely cold and rude, wouldn't even look me in the eye, and responded to my questions of where was there wifi and where could I buy Machu Picchu tickets with, "I don't know." You don't know?! The room was also a dump, the toilet didn't work, the shower was a nightmare and there was such bad energy there. We decided to take a walk, find dinner, maybe find a new place.

And we did. San Blas Hostal was just 20 soles per night more (2.7 soles=1 USD) and a million times nicer - with a really cute room, wifi, nice location, friendly staff - yes. Yes!

So we went back to our other place, grabbed our bags and nicely, she didn't charge us. We headed back to our new place, unpacked a little, and then grabbed dinner (which of course involved a pisco sour!).

We woke up early, deciding to get the Machu Picchu tickets and the train tickets and then do everything else. We routed our morning run to the train station - which was geared towards locals, with a LONG line and a lot less trains. The schedule did not work for us, and it was confusing so we ran back. At our hostal, the guy told us where to get the entrance tickets and the regular tickets. After a wait in line at the Ministry of Culture, we got two tickets to Machu Picchu, plus the Wayna Picchu tickets. Peru Rail had very expensive tickets ($218 - in USD! - for the both of us) but we got cheaper tickets with Inka Rail ($160 USD).

Then we got the very expensive touristico boleto and totally used it. We went to the Museo Historico Regional (for the Incan art and post-Incan art), the Museum of Contemporary Art, a weaving museum (not included), Qorikancha Museum, and we hiked to nearby Sacsaywaman. Pretty full but good day, which we ended with two pisco sours and Dutch fries at a small Dutch restaurant. Yum. And then pizza which we didn't call pizza but "school cafeteria pizza." Yeah, we're New Yorkers. The next day, we got up early and headed to Ollataytambo for Machu Picchu!