Running has no language

So it’s been about 4 weeks since I began to train with Quarke Saudé e Performance (health & performance). It’s a great training group and I’m wondering why we don’t have more of these in the U.S.  If you go to Parque do Ibirapuera you’ll see many training groups set up their stands at various points and people training with them. They run/stretch/exercise in groups or individually in the park. Importantly, there are several trainers that provide individualized attention to the trainees. This beats the 40-something marathon training group at Rogue any day!

So I have 2 coaches, Rodrigo and Jõao alternate on various days of the week. Rodrigo designs my training plan based on the info they collect after every workout. 

I work out with them three times a week, which is quite a challenge on weekends. I am always conflicted by the desire to go out and drink on Friday nights, something which Bharath and I regularly argued about in Austin (he would gripe about me ruining his Fridays). But I’ve somehow figured out I need to do both and can’t lose out on night outs in Brazil but neither can I stop running. As a result I’ve had some really painful runs. Eh!

Here’s a sample training plan:

Quarke’s Weekly Individualized Training Plan

Some of the sample workouts include a time trial where I ran 2400 meters as hard as I could. My time for 2400 meters was 14.43, which translates to about 10.30 minutes a mile. That’s the best time trial I’ve done, assuming I ran the correct course, which brings me to the issue about running with no language barriers.

 Training with the group here is a minor challenge because very few people speak English and I don’t speak much Portuguese except the nominal stuff. So it’s always an exercise for the coaches to figure out how to explain my workout to me. Fortunately I understand numbers. So this morning I ran 8 iterations of 4 minutes at 175 bpm and 1 minute walk at 140 bpm. My (cute and bashful) coach João strapped the heart rate belt onto me and embarassedly indicated I should wear it under the “err….”, which I took to mean sports bra. He strapped on the heart rate monitor onto my wrist (yes, that is the level of individualized attention everyone gets) and off I went. I’ve done this workout before but today it felt harder (probably because a meal of shrimp coxina, a deep fried breaded cutlet of cheesy/creamy shrimp salad with smattering of vegetables) drove me to run 5k after dinner right before bed: bad idea if you plan to run hard again at 7 AM the next day.
 
Things sometimes get lost in translation when the coaches need to explain my workout to me., but are somehow quickly found. João is absolutely adorable when he tries to speak English. He wants to say everything correctly and so painstakingly formulates his sentences and asks me if he’s correct. I on the other hand am impatient and just speak poor English with him just so I can get going- almost phraselike – “I go run now?””, “all ok?” , “what time tomorrow?” etc. When I have to explain my workout I just wildly gesticulate to various body parts which ache and try to figure out how to explain cramps versus soreness versus joint pain. I don’t want them modifying the training based on misunderstood pain! Sometimes I theatrically act out how I felt – hard or easy, tired or fine. But the conversations are unhindered by language – we discuss running technique, latest research on running styles (to stretch or not to stretch pre-run/post-run; heel vs forefoot strik etc.) and never has translation been an issue.
 
Overall, it’s been absolutely fantastic. I’ve never received so much individualized training before – it’s like having a personal coach for running! Sometimes they run with me, and after I’m done they stretch my legs (which is acutely painful if Rodrigo does it). There are no super long runs yet so most of them are like doing speed workouts – the interval training on the heart rate followed by shorter, faster runs. I noticed that by the end of the month I’d be running 10k. I’m really hoping this translates into some serious PR on race times eventually.
 
They’ve also sent me a list of 5ks and 10ks that I can do while I’m here. Signing up for the race also takes a while because registration is in Portuguese. But what else do I have to do here? Eat, drink and run!
 

With Coach João

 

Runners on the course in the beautiful Parque Ibirapuera

Travelling to Brazil? Come here to Comer

Comer: (v) to eat, in Portugese.

So whenever I talk to my mom, the only thing she wants to know is what I’m eating. And I tell her not to worry, because I am eating well, a lot. Way more food than what I consume in the US and spending a looot of money on it too. So this post is for her and there’s nothing about running in here (I am sick this week and therefore off from running and NOT from eating).

When I got here I figured Brazilians don’t know the meaning of having a ‘light meal’. It’s very hard to find low-fat anything. The two types of milk at breakfast are skim (which I hate) and whole milk, and if you pour the whole milk in your coffee, you can watch the cream form in seconds. Gross.

So does everyone look like Gisele? The answer is no. At least not in SP. In Rio, on the beaches the bodies are tighter and the swimwear negligible so I wonder what they eat. Read a fellow expats musings on Brazilian food and figures here.

But the coffee is uh-mazing! I’ll get to it eventually. Let me jot down thoughts in order of meal-times.

Breakfast

Though we’ve mostly eaten breakfast at the hotel, which is delightfully exactly the same every single day, including weekends, Brazilians don’t spend too much thought on breakfast, or so it seems. It’s some runny scrambled eggs, a heap of wilty bacon (not crispy like American bacon), hot dogs (which I am afraid to admit, I like). Fortunately they do have yogurt and my Indian heart feels happy to have plain yogurt (not the sugary, fake-fruit yogurt blends you get in the US). Here the yogurt is full fat and tastes just so and I love it. I am sure my Tam Brahm in-laws would be very happy too.

I’ve mostly seen the Brazilians eat a turkey or ham sandwich for breakfast with a slab of white cheese (kind of like paneer). I tried it and it’s nothing to write about. By far the best thing at breakfast is Pão do Queijo – or cheese bread, a delightful little ball of cheese and bread. This is a versatile piece of bread and it’s served at all times of the day in any restaurant in Brazil. With coffee, with beer with everything.

My favoritie brekkie in Brazil was at a cafe we found in Rio. Hungover, tired and hungry, my expat friends and our Brazilian Everton were walking around on a Sunday afternoon for food. We all were craving a big American breakfast and IHOP was the topic of conversation. We found a Subway (with picanhã sandwich) and KFC but fortunately didn’t go in, we hadn’t gotten that desperate. Instead there was a delightful cafe with a breakfast platter – pancakes (tiny crepes), scrambled eggs, fruit (papaya, yuck), ham, the white cheese slab and yogurt with granola with cappuchino. DIVINE!!

Lunch

Lunch is a very important meal for Brazilians. At work, they take about 1 to 1.5 hours for lunch. Hard working Paulistanas, who stay in the office till 8pm sometimes to beat the traffic, study after work or spend time commuting don’t have time for an elaborate dinner. So they make the best of the lunch hour and the meal is elaborate. No working lunch here but lunch works hard. Near the office there are a large number of Lanchonettes or lunch homes. They may serve entrees/prãtos do dia (daily specials) or food by the kilo in a buffet form, with prices ranging from R$34-R$49 per kilo. Food in Brazil, especially in SP is expensive. On average lunch costs about R$30-R$40 (about $18 – $25). But its sooooo good. Traditionally, its a piece of grilled meat – chicken or steak (picanhã, Brazilian barbecued meat, very very flavorful and very tasty no matter where you eat it), rice, vegetables dunked in butter and a bowl of beans. Some of the daily specials include even more elaborate cheese, meaty goodness. Here they are in order of taste (to me):

Escondidinho: it’s a casserole kind of like Shepherd’s Pie except the meat base is carne seca or literally, dried meat or beef jerky. Topped with creamy mashed potatoes and baked with cheese on top. I can’t believe anyone can be remotely productive after a lunch of this meal.

Feijoada: This is the most traditional Brazilian dish I have been hearing about since the day I landed here. Brazilians eat this on Wednesdays or Saturdays (and probably go right back to bed after). It’s a stew of black beans cooked with various pig parts, to be eaten with rice, farofa (a flour mixture made with manioca flour from the Amazonian rainforest) sprinkled on top. I was treated to Feijoada Light today with recognizable pork meat and sausage, rice, farofa and some greens and 2 wedges of an orange. The real deal has practically the whole pig. Honestly, it was okay – I like beans and I like pork and it tasted fine. Kinda reminded me of Borracho beans in Mexican food where the beans are cooked with pork, if that became a main dish. Here’s a photo:

Meat, Beans Rice and Flour

Of course, these are traditional fare but people also order lasagne and other cheesy goodness from other cuisines. Italian food is a local favorite as is Japanese.

 
One of my favorite lunch spots has become Desfrutti, a Suco (juice) bar. I absolutely LOVE that you can get fresh fruit juice or fresh fruit almost ANYwhere! Almost all local bakeries, lanchonettes and restaurants have a wall of fruit behind – mangoes, tangerines, pineapples, strawberries and yes even corn juice. A fellow expat called it drinking cream of corn but it’s very popular here. But Desfrutti serves up yummy crepes and I tried the Chicken Stroganoff crepe, which was yummy! A slightly healthier option for lunch is a bowl of Açai, which is the supposedly healthy/controversial berry mixed up with frozen yogurt (I think) and served with bananas and granola. Sometimes you can get Suco do Açai too and they serve it oddly in 1.5 glasses – you pour from the larger into the smaller (cutting chai type) glass.
açai with bananas and granola
 
Lunch always ends with a cafezino, an espresso sized cup of coffee packed with punch. I get it usually with leite or milk and sugar and it’s absolutely divine. One of the expats, Rob was comparing it to the grande Starbucks which packs a lot less punch but wakes his American brain up more than this little muppet which just makes him jittery. I think this Starbucks can try it’s way to hell to match up to the coffee you get at any local spot in Brazil.  
 
Hmm, what else….food here has been quite fabulous but there are so many little nuggets that are soo good. In addition to pão do queijo, there are little croquets of breaded, shredded meat much like what my mother used to make for tea. There’s Coixinha usually made with chicken but also with shrimp, which is a larger croquet. Here’s a picture and it tells you why my fried-food-happy-tummy is so happy. My only complaint is that nothing is spicy and pepper on the table is optional. So that can get trying but everything still tastes so good. And what’s best is that bars serve late night food just like in Mumbai. You can nibble on Coixinhas or croquets or fries with your drinks late into the night.
 
 
 
Dinner
 
I am not sure about what Brazilians eat at dinner. Our expat dinners have been as elaborate and expensive as our lunches because, well, we’re from the US and we like going out to dinner, ordering a bottle of wine and unwinding at dinner. On most nights or at least one night a week, we do a Rodizio sushi places dotting our neighborhood. The sushi is good, the sashimi is extremely fresh and plentiful. Before they bring out the sushi, the traditional rodizio does a dish of Japanese mushrooms sauteed in butter and scallions and soy sauce. This is usually followed by carpaccio or marinated fish in green onions, soy and maybe 1 sliver of green chilli (noted as spicy on the menu, LOL). Í love this one! Then they bring out the hot sushi or the rolls which are fried with batter, the gyoza and tempura batter fried veggies and miso soup. Finally they bring out an elaborate platter of nigiri and sashimi with a couple of philly rolls. They don’t have the california rolls which is understandable. Finish off with a dessert. All of this goodness for minimum R$51 – R$ 95 (about $28 – $56), which I believe is a fantastic deal for unlimited sushi and great service.
 
We’ve also done Rodizio pizza at a great little pizza place which the expats love. The pizza is great, it’s super-thin crust pizza with lots of catúpiry and various meats. They also do some veggie pizzas with mushrooms and can pretty much do what you ask them, if you can explain what you want in Portuguese. Good luck with that.
 
If it looks like it’s tough to be vegetarian, it probably is. I usually try to spot at least one veggie dish on the menu, tucking away in my mind what Bharath would eat but I fear he is not going to be happy with the local food. So my task for his trip here is to figure out the veggie friendly places in Rio. I have been told there are a few. If not, there’s always pizza – which has this gorgeous cheese called catúpiry – a creamy, soft cheese that almost tastes like thick béchamel sauce. It’s salty and heavy and they put it on a lot of stuff. Unlike the US where chicken is a poor man’s meat, the chicken or frango is actually very tasty and flavorful in Brazil as in India. There’s even a restaurant called Frangeria near the hotel with very good grilled (by US standards it’s probably fried with the amount of oil) chicken. And finally, last option is salad because the olive oil here is fabuloso, very flavorful and plentiful (even the cheap restaurants serve very good EVOO, Rachel Ray would be delighted).
 
But something tells me there are at least three things that Bharath will fall in love with – the sucos, the açai and the cafezinho!
 

Forefoot or Heel Strike? The jury is still out…

I had a quieter weekend by Brazil standards. Which meant I ate a lot, slept a lot, drank a little less but then some and RAN twice over the weekend! I am proud of myself.

After the terrible caipi-run-ha, I need to do another run to comfort myself and my bruised runner’s ego. I tried to go after work on Thursday and was even planned to bring my clothes and shoes to work. But no one in the office thought it was OK to change into shorts and go running in the park behind. I thought they were joking but no, dead serious. So Igave up my running shoes for Rodizio sushi (all you can eat for fixed price, but they bring selected varieties to your table) and 2 cups of sake at Hakka Sushi near the hotel with a couple other expats. It’s awesome, you don’t have to figure out the menu, you don’t have to struggle in Portuguese. Have you ever felt stuffed like you’re going to explode on sushi? Yes, you can do that in Brazil with Rodizio. They Rodizio everything from barbecue (think your local churrascaria like Fogo de Chao, classic Rodizio) to pizza to sushi. This is one thing I would LOVE to import into the United States. It’s beautiful!

Friday night we got a taste of some Italian in SP. Supposed to be the best Italian outside Italy. The verdict was mixed. We ate at Nello’s where the 80 year old rambunctious and garrulous owner regaled us in part English, Italian and Portuguese with stories of his youth, some too much for my PG-13 blogsite. I wanted to retire early on Friday night and not drink much (had about 3 glasses of wine) so I could wake up in time for my run with Quarke.

I slept badly with a terrible cough and the usual stress I feel before a Saturday morning run (no clue why). Woke up in time and caught a cab out to Universidade do Sao Paulo (USP or oospy to Paulistanas). It cost a princely R$25 to get there and I found Rodrigo, one of the running coaches. Oospy was amazing on Sat AM. It was filled to the brim almost with runners and bikers. I felt like I was in Austin! There were several Ironman hopefuls training and I was drooling at all the amazing road and tri-bikes. Runners of all ages, abilities were running and the whole campus is well marked (in terms of folk knowledge) into 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 km courses. Rodrigo had me run the 6k loop and he ran with me all the way to check my form.

So I learned a lot of things during the run as we conversed in halting English. Rodrigo has a sports degree (in fact something related to Neuroscience of sleep and activity). First, I complained to him about my left foot cramping (the usual one on the side). He said my running form was not right. I should not be running on my forefoot, but instead strike heel or mid-foot first. He said, that research showed that unless you’re sprinting OR running really long miles, heel strike is better than forefoot. Maybe it was because I wasn’t spreading the weight onto the entire foot and just running on the balls of my feel. But I must say, as soon as I changed the running form to strike heel first two things happened: one, the cramps disappeared. Two, it felt like way more effort – I could feel my calves, my hamstrings doing a LOT more work. So I figured he might actually have a point.

I ran hard for the 6k. I think my speed averaged at 8km per hour, sometimes going up to 9.5 km per hour. 8km is about 12 minutes a mile, which is my average speed. On my time trial I averaged about 10 minutes/mile which is probably the fastest speed I have ever logged. So yes, it definitely feels great to have gotten much faster than when I started.

When we finished the run, I asked him if I should stretch and he surprised me with another nugget. He said (and I’d heard this from João also), that stretching right after a workout has been shown to lead to injury often. Now, it’s not that stretching is not recommended but ideally, athletes should do stretching exercises every day, perhaps twice a day, but separately. Not after or before a work out. He also recommended that I do weights to strengthen my leg muscles but seriously, I’d have to quit my job to do everything they recommend.

So two pieces of advice contrary to everything I know about running – heel strike is better and don’t stretch after a run but stretch separately to increase flexibility. For sure I need to do that because when Rodrigo acquiesced to help me stretch my pulling my leg around to stretch the ITB muscles, the calves and the hams I was screaming in pain. That’s how tight my muscles are and running hard on these muscles is what leads to all this soreness.

Saturday night I was ready to let my hair down – we went to a gorgeous little jazz bar in Vila Madalina (a darn cute, bohemian neighborhood that I totally fell in love with) and I threw down a lot of red wine, Malbec to be precise (my favorite). So when I went to another neighboring park to run on Sunday, I was dehydrated like hell. Cut my losses, did a few crunches and put myself out of my misery AND rewarded myself with a super refreshing doze of Acai, followed by an hour of sun-bathing by the hotel pool. I’m still glad that I ran because that afternoon I had the most incredible Amazonian meal at Tordesilhas, one of the well-known SP restaurants for Brasileira cuisine. Satiated to the core with a fish called Filhote (Amazonian fresh water fish that my Bengali taste buds were crying with joy) and Pirarucu (the largest fresh water fish in the world, which tasted exactly like Bhetki the Bengali’s pride and joy), went back to the hotel, swallowed a Nyquil and went to bed at 8pm. After that meal, I couldn’t think of anything else that would top the weekend, so I caught on 12 hours of sleep.

Now I’m excited that my friends Arun and Karthik are going to visit in 2 weeks, so I’ve already begun making plans for that weekend!! Woot!

Caipi-run-ha!

Caipi-run-ha [kaipee-run-ya] n: The feeling of lead in your bumbum while running after a weekend of drinking caipirinhas. e.g. I felt like a caipirunha after my weekend in Rio

This post should be self-explanatory. Massive fail. But worse fail was trying to run in Rio. That was a non-starter. Set the alarm for Monday morning but never woke up. Why? It’s Rio. Parteh time. Went out until 3 am on Friday night after a day of work and flying.  Was out until 8 AM on Sunday morning. So Monday morning run was at best, a very ambitious plan.

On Friday night, we went to one of the expat’s friend’s house in Ipanema and then the night kinda went downhill from there. The club we tried to go to (someone said it used to be a great club past it’s prime and popular with tourists) was too crowded – clearly the past the prime news didn’t reach all the people (including us) trying to get in. We just wound up on some street corner bar drinking (very bad) caipirinhas with (low quality) cachaça or so our resident Brazilian, Everton pronounced.

Saturday morning (after 4 hours of sleep) I was hustled by our resident hustler Christine to wake up and get dressed to go to Christo Redentor. She insisted I’d thank her later. She’s still waiting haha. While Christo was quite an experience and yes, I was glad I went because the day was beautiful, what I really wanted to do was go to the beach. But by the time we reached the beach the sun was gone and it was chilly. It is winter after all. The others wanted to walk the length of the beach to Copacabana from Ipanema. I was tired and sleep deprived and since I’m the oldest in the group (and crankier without sleep) I decided to cut my losses and go back to the hotel and sleep. Later that night (and by late I mean, we left the hotal at 1 am, which is a first for me) we went to a club called Rio Scenario, a large bar with many rooms decorated with antiques and what not, playing Brazilian Funk (obscene songs in Portuguse with amazing beats). Some more caipirinhas were consumed. The bar was great. It was on a beautiful street called Rua do Lavradio (yes sounds obscene in Hindi) with cobbled stones and old buildings with shutters. Rio has a lot of those and it looks beautiful.

Rio does have this breathtaking quality – it is flanked by mountains on one side which get covered with clouds when the sun is out and the ocean on the other. Christo shines on the city and is kind of omnipresent because he’s visible from everywhere. What else shines down on the city from the hills? The little sparkling favellas (slums). That’s some prime property they have in the likes of Malabar Hill or Altamount Road in Mumbai. However the city is as dirty is Mumbai with trash all around and smells of age and decay. Which gives it an even more ethereal quality as a real city – gritty, dirty and terribly exciting.

I badly wanted to run on the beach front but it just never happened. I don’t know what happened to my grit but somewhere between the caipirinhas and the lack of sleep, I decided to skip on it. I regretted it and all I can hope is that I can go back soon and do the 10k loop around Lagoa (the lagoon near Botafogo).

So last night when I showed up at Ibirapuera again a week after my last run, I met a skeptical (and did I mention kinda cute?) coach João who asked about my trip to Rio. I mentioned the caipirinhas and the zero runs I’d had since the week before. He shook his head with a smile. And in his broken English he asked me to do a 6k loop around the park, first 2k on moderate pace, next 2k harder (no pau in Portuguese, with some slang insinuation of running ‘hard’, get the drift?) and last 2k at some pace in between the two. Somewhere in between those broken English explanations, I thought I was having a student crush on him – he looked so adorable trying to explain the workout in English, feeling embarassed and blushing when I showed impatience. 

So I began to run with another runner. Who is very loquacious in broken English. We try to communicate by teaching each other English/Portugese respectively. But last night I was in no mood. I could feel every one of those caipirinhas, pão do queijos, picanhas, batatas fritos, farofa and arroz dishes that I’d pounded upon all week long. I swear I felt like my butt (or bumbum pron. boom boom in Portuguese slang) felt a ton heavier and through the run it felt like drag. My muscles were very tight despite the warm up and short stretches and I was cramping. Also running with someone else didn’t help set the pace (mental note: run ALONE next time) and it was difficult to be social and feel morose about the run at the same time. At one point we thought we were on the wrong track and I stopped keeping time. Which sucked because I was to report my time on each segment to the coach so he had more data on my abilities.

Oh well, after the run I spoke to the coach again. He asked me why I had a bad run and I was mumbling something about not hydrating enough but he nailed it on the caipirinhas. Like my dad, he asked me to not drink as much and turned a deaf ear to me ‘but I’m in Brazil!’ feeble attempts. So now its really up to me to make this thing count – I did pay R$110 per month!

So we’ll see how this challenge goes in the next few weeks…

Eat, Drink, Run – the Brazilian way

Alright, so it’s my second week (just kicked off) in São Paulo (SP). I’m here for a 3 month rotation with my awesome firm Ernst & Young. With a bunch of other rotators from the US & Canada, I feel like I’m in a pricey college exchange program where we get to expense expensive meals and taxi fare and get to live in a suite hotel with a pool. Other than that there’s good cause to still feel like a college student. Like the fact that everything feels super expensive, but thats SP for you. Don’t let the word “emerging” economy fool you. I have no idea how anyone who does not make a ton of money survives in SP.

Food in Brazil: this really deserves a separate post but here it is in brief. It’s meat, cheese, and carbs. People do not eat quick lunches but walk to the nearby lunch spots which are far from quick. They serve elaborate plates of cheesy, potato & meat filled casseroley goodness. Or a piece of grilled meat or fish, with butter rice and butter vegetables. Or amazing buffets of salad, pasta, traditional Brazilian dishes (read as heavy) etc. Now Brazilians really enjoy and take joy in having their amazing lunches and might eat something small for dinner and/or breakfast. Their breakfast is simpler than the American breakfasts. But when expats come to Brazil, we’re eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in Brazilian proportions. Soon you feel yourself balloon.

Also, since I have arrived the other expats and I have been going out almost every night to various nightlife spots which SP abounds in. We went to some American style bars where the Brazilians mouth English lyrics of Bob Dylan and Kings of Leon like they were born speaking English. We went to a Gafiera bar with traditional soft samba/Brazilian jazz music. And then finally, last but not the least we went to a disco club called the History where we were definitely the youngest there. And there has been a great amount of imbibing on my part.

But I’ve been trying to run. Ran in the gym once, and tried not to fall off to sleep in boredom. Ran outside another day but the sidewalks aren’t great – somewhat like the sidewalks of Bombay, not meant for running and yes, there’s dog poop. And I kept getting lost. I knew I had to sign up. But it’s impossible to find a training group with a website in English.

Luckily for me, one of the senior managers in the team here knows a runner. So he hooked me up with this running/training company called Quark. These guys are not your typical running company/store like Rogue or Austin Fit. They train individuals with an integrated training plan customized for each person. The goal may not be a race but more fitness, training and endurance. In terms of something similar to what companies like Rogue provide, this is closer to the basic running group but its much more holistic. They look at your pace, your health and they provide you with a training plan – run with you and you speak to one coach (or as in my case, you gesture to the coach).

So I show up on Monday night at GORGEOUS Parque Ibirapuera (picture below). I was early and it was already getting dark. I was nervous about the park thinking it would be shady and weird after dark with all sorts of “miscreants” as my dad would have put it. But it wasn’t. It’s super safe inside the park and its HUGE (again, see picture). As I walk in, I asked the guard where Parque do Parquinho was (the Porcine Park). He handed me a map. As I opened it, this friendly old man asked me in Portuguese if I wanted to run (correr) or walk (andar). I said run. And then he proceeded to give me gesticulatory instructions on the park running course. I kept trying to explain to him I was meeting someone, barked out “Quark, Quark” forgetting to add the mandatory ”e” behind all consonants like they add here (facebook-e, office-e, work-e, walk-e etc.). He didn’t understand and finally I said “Obrigada” and put him out of his misery.

Of course the Brazilian coach was late. I was to meet Prof João (they call coaches Professor here) at the park at 7. He ambled over around 7.15 or so. He was profusely apologetic about being late and his lack of English. I was totally fine, I just badly wanted to run. So he haltingly explained I needed to warm up for 5 minutes, which I promptly did. Then he set me off on a 35 minute run with 3 minutes – 2 minutes hi-low effort. I ran with another runner, Itamar who also spoke little English but was very happy to run and practice his English with me. He was paying his cousin R$150 a month for English lessons. I told him we could run together and teach each other English/Portuguese respectively.

The run was FUN! I learned a couple of new words (actually he taught me many more but I have a horrible learning ability with languages, ask my husband). We did 2 loops of the park which apparently added up to something close to 3 miles or so. I can never be sure because I have still not found a park map with the right mileage and the KM-mile equation is always messed up in my head. But I felt strong and even the 3 minute intervals which were harder I felt great and felt like I was pushing hard.

I went back this morning for my second workout. And it was a time trial. To begin with, I was tired. I ran to the park from the hotel, a distance of about 2.6km or 1.6 miles, which is about what we used to run as warm-up for quality workouts at Rogue. But then the coach made me warm up again. And then I did a 2400 meter time trial around this trail loop called Cooper. I ran hard but sadly for me, I found out that somehow I’d gotten slower. I clocked in at 14 minutes for the 2400 (could be 2500) meter time trial. I blamed it on the drinking but I couldn’t help but feel pangs of disappointment.

So, it’s Rio this weekend where I do not believe I will be running at all. New country, new experiences so I will allow myself to take it all in, in the Brazilian way. And like the Brazilians, I’ll keep running but at my own pace. Somehow that always works.

PS: This post is named after one of the coaches, Rodrigo (Hodrigo) Kimura’s blogs by the same name in Portuguese.