Running in Boquete is tough…
12 years ago in April, my brother Kirk talked me into running a marathon. When we first discussed it, I couldn’t run even a mile without a walk break, but lots of changes can occur in 9 months ( if a baby can grow in that time, surely it’s enough time to prepare for what’s really just a longish run. Yeah, that’s what 26.2 miles is). I followed a training plan, “talked” with Kirk via email about my progress almost every day, and I was able to “run” the Disney marathon the following January. My 12 minute pace was pretty much as slow as you can go and still call it “running”, but I did it — 26.2 miles. My family was all there to see me finish — except for Kirk, who was excused of course, because he’d finished two and half hours earlier and understandably wanted to go home. I think my kids ( 13,11 and 9 at the time, who by the way, all did quite well in their first 5K the day before) might have been a little embarrassed because I wasn’t anywhere near mid pack even, but that didn’t take away one bit from my sense of personal achievement! All in all, it was a fabulous experience.
Last year, my sister Lena tried to get all of her siblings (Kirk, me, and our youngest sister DD) enthused about doing the same thing again, and while I swear my heart was in it — my body just hasn’t cooperated — plantar fasciitis and shin splints have plagued me ever since. Undoubtedly, it’s an age thing. 😦 But, I haven’t given up — I want to run another marathon.
Following my training plan here in Boquete is presenting some problems though. First, I have to increase my mileage slowly, to hopefully work around my injuries. Just as big of a problem is the terrain. It’s not hilly here — it’s mountainous. Any run of more than 10 minutes or so involves significant ups and downs. Nothing short of legs of steel will get the job done.
But I don’t HAVE legs of steel! At this point, if I carefully select my route, I can eek out about 40 minutes of running with just smallish (comparatively) ups and downs. On my long “run” days, I actually do a run/walk thing for about an hour and a half, tackling the steeper routes. I’m also incorporating some leg strengthening exercises that I got from a certain runner at University of Oregon, and the core exercises her teammate/ roommate gave me. Even with those efforts, I’m a long, long way from a marathon, but nonetheless — 26.2 miles is still my goal.
Mark, of course, runs circles around me. Literally — he runs in circles, around me, so he can keep running in spite of my slower speed and regular walk breaks on the more ambitious routes. He says he has no interest in running a marathon, but he will be ready for it long before I am.
We get some pretty strange looks when we run. Just like in Bocas del Toro, little kids will start running after us, in their flip flops and crocs, laughing with us, I like to think, not at us. Panamanian adults look a little disgusted sometimes — they don’t like to sweat even in the gym, and Mark and I …. well, whether or not we like sweating, we are generally drenched soon into the run. There’s also an occasional jaw drop, when people suddenly realize which direction we came from (way, way down). We don’t see many other runners here. Just four, in fact, in 2 months — and one was like me — taking a walking break.
I will keep up my training, but for anyone paying attention — I’m probably not going to be ready in 9 months this time!
Running in Boquete ain’t so tough…
(Note from Valerie: Here’s a photo of one of the dogs Mark is talking about…fierce looking, eh?!)