Running São Paulo

In between the non-stop eating and drinking that I did in Brazil, if it wasn’t for my running I’d be going back to the US looking like a toad. Instead I think I did just fine – great balance of taking in all that Brazil had to offer – the beaches, the food and the caipirinhas with my running (and super easy workload). Sometimes the running and the partying clashed and usually the running suffered i.e. I still ran but they were helluva painful runs.

All of that running culminated in some serious PR this past weekend when I ran the Fila night run. Training these three months with Quarke completely paid off. Their training program really worked. The training always involved short, intense workouts over the week followed by a longish run over the weekend but I never ran more than 10K. This felt so much better than when I was training for the half marathon, constantly being plagued by aches and pains. I figured at the pace I run, running those many miles does some serious damage to my body.

I had a few friends come to cheer me but I really missed Bharath. He’s been absent for one triathlon I did because he partied too much the night before, but he’s always been there at the finish lines for most of my races. The race was a bit chaotic but this is Brazil. The start line was packed and there was no sorting by pace times. So, it didn’t matter if you were slow or fast, if you weren’t at the start early enough you were going to lose time getting past a ton of people and I did. I started slowly and set the timer going on my watch hoping to be able to check pace. The kilometers were not really marked. The race course was nothing to write home about – winding through the streets of the city in a not-so-pretty neighborhood. I did miss running in Austin and thought about Travis Heights. At some point I picked up pace. The course actually went up the flyover/highway two or three times over 10K and sometimes it was the slowest place to pass because of the walkers. Not to mention the trucks that blew fumes into your face when you were trying to breathe. Some parts of the course were really dark and it was hard to run fast because of the streets were a bit uneven. And I was always trying to dodge slower runners who somehow always decided to run in a line across the breadth of the street.

My saving grace was my buddy Lindsay’s music collection called “It’s gonna be a long night” with the best pop music. Helped to tune out all of the annoyances from the race course above and I was able to pace decently. However, I turned on the first 5k and I was at 35 minutes and I realized I wasn’t going to make my 1 hour time. So I picked up pace big time. I ran harder and at several points I thought I should walk to the water stops. But I knew at the pace I was running, I wouldn’t have been able to pick it up again if I stopped. So I decided, let’s see how much we can push. And push I did. I thought about everything that could possibly make me run. I said, this race is for the gratitude of having spent 3 months in such an awesome country, gratitude for the friends I had made and the experiences I had had. I thought of all of the people who I’d met over the 3 months who had come to matter to me deeply and I ran. For the third time, I ran over the damn flyover, nearly dying because I was breathing too hard. Took the time to recover on the downhill which was the 9k mark. Turned the corner and picked up pace again but I was not fully recovered at all. At the 400m mark, I thought I would pass out. I said to myself, give me something to run to the finish to. And then, Katy Perry’s Supernatural came on. Oh my god, I found new-found strength in my legs. When I saw 200m, I began my usual sprint dash to the finish line. As I crossed it, my heart nearly exploded but I crossed at under ~0:59:35. I couldn’t believe it. I’d actually made it way before I’d expected to AND beaten Bharath’s time of 1:02 (which meant I was getting the iPhone 4s when I get back).

I couldn’t have asked for a better race experience to sum up my 3 months here. I feel grateful towards a lot of forces that played in my life to get me here. I learned a lot about myself and my ability to adapt to change and different circumstances. I learned that I’m not always good at it but I can try and I can manage. And I managed with a whole lot of help, so this race performance is dedicated to all of the people I met and loved in Brazil – my whole SSTEP gang – Jess, Christine, Robertinho, Amanda, Rob, Chris, Natasha, JS & David; Everton, Lindsay, Marina, Marcelo, Rodrigo, Igor, Ryan, Arjun, Adri, Nathalia, folks that I met later but not the least – Neenu, David & Jonathan, my coaches João and Rodrigo, my HUSBAND who I missed immensely through these months (even though he won’t believe it). And finally thanks to Katy Perry for getting me through the finish line, stronger than ever.

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