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.

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