5K race at 16 weeks

I finished 16 weeks this week. Baby Chandoo seems to be doing okay per the OB visit. I’ve been gaining weight steadily but not rapidly, thank god. Weight this week has been hovering around 117 lbs/53 kgs. I’m supposedly on-track but of course I’ve been monitoring the scale. Food-wise, I am of course less consistent because I am so hungry so quickly. In that sense pregnancy is like running – you have to plan the food/fuel in-take and hydrate well all the time or you feel like crap. You also feel incredibly tired and fatigued at any moment of the day. That burst of energy that people talked about during the second trimester – I am still waiting for it.

It has been shades better than the first trimester. Firstly the nagging feeling of nausea at the back of my throat is much less now. There is some energy. So given that this was Austin marathon week, I thought why not sign up for the 5k. I asked Itisha to sign up with me, knowing that if I was running alone, I may not make it out there. Bharath wasn’t too excited – he thought I’d be pushing and feeling awful afterwards. I knew I would I would feel awful afterwards. But that’s part of running for me. To feel that discomfort and to be reminded that I did something I liked doing a lot. However I of course understand any concern that I shouldn’t be harming the baby. On that, I trusted the wisdom of my doctors who said as long as I feel good I can do it. And I did.

I stayed over at Iti’s and we were excited. I told her there would be a lot of walking. Iti herself has bad knees so she doesn’t run much outside. She agreed for the 5k and it’s a fun race to do in Austin. We got parked and began the race. It was really nice and cool was the best day to run out there. We had decided to do a 3 min run and 1 min walk to make sure we weren’t pushing. Me for the pregnancy and she for her knees. But once we started running I think we both felt good, with the energy of those around us. We kept chatting and running and walking when anyone needed it. We wanted to finish before 40 minutes and we managed to finish at 37 minutes. Of course we sprinted towards the end that’s inevitable :). There’s nothing more exhilarating than a strong finish, no matter how the race was. We finished around the same time as the half marathon winner. That was pretty cool.

Well I won’t say running has been easy. I think I’ve lost stamina in more ways than one. I can’t really pinpoint to what it is that is specific to my body that’s made running harder. Actually, it isn’t the running that’s been hard. It’s the recovery. The last post I had on the 4 odd miles I ran on the trails took me 2 days to recover from, including a massage and pedicure! The 5K took a whole day – combination of less coffee, less sleep, not enough hydration and a certain amount of exertion that I think my body is no longer used to. After all it’s busy making a human being! There’s a lot of blood flow and oxygen going to the uterus, so when I pull those runs, it’s that much less to me. That’s why it takes longer to warm up and longer to recover. Not to mention loose ligaments and hips that ache for days after a run. Simply put, as much as I love running, it’s heartbreaking to admit that I should probably rest up the running shoes till the baby comes.

Based on this I’m probably going to tone down to brisk walking, yoga (prenatal yoga has been great though the timings suck for working women). It is important to keep moving and exercising but also important to listen to your body’s cues (not the kind of listening that makes you sit on your couch and gorge because sometimes you need to push). I’m always curious about pregnant women who ran half marathons and what not, they’re likely far fitter than I was when I got pregnant. I do not believe one should not be moving/exercising but I also believe in low-intensity frequent workouts to the extent your schedule allows.

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Knocked up and still running (or at least trying)

Running during pregnancy is not as easy as it is made out to be. First, there are 100 opinions on it, like ANYTHING regarding pregnancy. You really only need to listen to your OB and nurses. Everyone else can take a hike (or run). Here’s my experience with the first tri.

I was pregnant in India on vacation for 2 weeks without knowing it. Well I had some strange suspicion I might be so I took a test at home and it was negative (too early). That was encouraging and I continued to eat and run and drink like I normally did. Which is, I watched what I ate like a hawk (except at the wedding in Kolkata), drank a lot and ran some. My best friend Sasha from college was training for a half marathon and it was fun going running with her. We didn’t run on the road but in the park and I taught her a few tricks. I don’t have a gym in Bombay so I also ran around all the old neighborhoods where I grew up and that was awesome. All the way down Mt. Carmel Rd, up Mt. Mary steps and past the church down to Bandstand (where I caught my school bus in third standard) and back to Mt. Carmel. Felt totally awesome. Also, Bombay has a lot more runners than it used to so people think it’s less weird now. So not many stares. Even in Kolkata I had to do it once. We stayed at the Saturday Club and I went running down Shakespeare Sarani all the way to Victoria Memorial – where I had to make change for my Rs 100 with a local cop for the Rs. 4 ticket to enter VM. In typical WB Govt. fashion the ticket clerk was first incredulous and then indignant about the Rs. 100 I handed him. I even offered to pay for some girls to make change but they thought I was crazy and recommended I go buy some ‘cheeps’ (potato chips) at the local baniya to make change. Little did they know I was low-carb. Despite those hiccups, the run inside VM is one of the memorable ones I’ve done, right up there with running in Rio!

Anyway, I came back home and voila I was pregnant. Until then I felt no symptoms but somehow the knowledge of it made me queasy and tired immediately. Also I googled running and pregnancy and lots of stupid advice out there – don’t get your HR up beyond 130, don’t run hard or you’ll pull a muscle because pregnancy makes them woozy etc etc. Anyway, went to the OB and she said, if you’ve been running keep on doing what you did. I could have kissed her!

Except, I couldn’t run much! I was so fatigued and queasy (and those stupid paranoid HR tips never left me) I took to doing some home workouts instead. I kept up my pushups routine whenever I could. The first 8 weeks weren’t so bad. After 8 weeks I was more tired. Mornings were hard and after work, I was SO HUNGRY I couldn’t manage the energy to workout even after a light snack. Oh, I kept up with going to Black Swan Yoga until I realized those instructors had NO CLUE what to do with a pregnant lady. Until 8-10 weeks it didnt matter – I could downward dog and chataranga – I did downgrade to Flow and mellow as the Power class was too intense (sad face). Eventually I realized I was too nervous to keep myself at the mercy of inexperienced yoga instructors with respect to pregos. I still need to go join a pre-natal yoga class. That’s this week.

Good thing is that weight is still under control – I have gained about 3.5 lbs from 110 to 113 and it’s now stagnated at that. I’m eating a lot and low-carb has become medium-carb now (too hungry). Haven’t been doing much weights but continuing the push-ups and side crunches/obliques while I can (read, not feeling nauseous or tired). YouTube is GREAT for pregnancy workouts. Here’s my fave.

So, running has been off and on sporadic. Finally this morning I determinedly made it out to the trails with my trail buddies. It was great. Running with Liz (more like hiking) was awesome cos she was full of interesting tidbits about her kids and how she dealt with all kinds of stuff. I really liked listening to her – the advice was sound. I ran about 4 miles – took 2 hours nearly because we hiked so much – and I need to pack more food on these runs even if they’re less than 5 miles. Here’s a pic from the run this morning (I look very different from the pic from 3 months ago :)). There’s me at 14 weeks, 113.5 lbs and a fuller face!

pregorunner

Hell’s Hills: first trail 10k and major PR!!

I had to show off the medal first. I mean it’s so awesome, that I think I’d do this race just to get my hands on a medal like that. Every other race medal feels meh! Also I’m going ass backwards, starting trail running with a 25k and dialing back to 10K! All because I’m afraid of the heat!

To think I almost didn’t run this for fear of heat. That’s why it’s called Hell’s Hills. There are hills but no big shake like the hills we climbed for Nueces. The trail was a regular MTB trail with a lot of rolling inclines and dips and climbs that mountain bikers like to do (crazy people). But this is the first HOT race of the season, coming out of the spring into the summer and MANY people underestimate the heat. People haven’t acclimatized to running in the heat and this race can be hellish for that reason. Well fortunately for me, I was only doing a 10k. The other distances were 25k, 50k and 50mi.

So first I almost didn’t do this race. Sue had mentioned she was signed up for 25k. I then considered doing the 10K. On Tuesday night at the run, I asked Joe if I could do it. I didn’t want to pay $55 the late registration charge but he let me in for free. He said this one was on him. He’s so awesome. He said, its good to have me running with them. I’ve been seriously considering going through training/running in the summer to get some heat training from them. I have to do it eventually if I continue to run in TX. And it’s like elevation training – takes a while to condition your body but you are a better, stronger runner for it for sure.

I drove out at 5 am with Gaurav and Purvi, who are my new trail buddies. Met them at Nueces too. Gaurav is an avid trail runner, having a 100miler under his belt (literally because Joe hands out buckles for the finishers). He ran a lot of Asha before. His new bride is also into trail running and has done a few 10ks. I am trying to get her to begin training so I have company :). The race was about 45 mins outside of Austin at Rocky Hills Ranch in Smithville TX.

As soon as we got there, it was evident I was among friends. By now most of the regular running group I know by first name and it’s great to meet everyone at these races. It makes me feel totally at home. Kuss, one of our co-coaches even put the timing chip on me after I was struggling for a while – he said this is an ‘all service’ race, haha! But seriously, Joe and his wife Joyce put up these races every month, with the help of their kids, friends, and fellow trail runners. Trail runners earn points for every hour they volunteer on the races – be it at aid stations, registrations and packet pickup or water stations. These points go towards a dollar off future race registrations. I think that’s a fantastic system. The races are fabulously organized, the trails are well marked (by Joe himself, who drives out a day or two in advance to do it), the aid stations are well stocked with PBJ sandwich squares (neatly cut by what seems like loving hands), Hammer Gels, salt tablets, water, gatorade, chips, cereal and a plethora of fruit. It’s absolutely amazing.

Anyway, back to the race report. We started off at 7.15 AM. Was a bit worried about the effect of spicy biryani I had the day before at lunch but frankly nothing happened. Maybe I’m spice conditioning also. I started with Sue (who dropped down to 10k) and she’s a fast runner when she starts. My start is always hard – huffing puffing and straining. The race was crowded with a total of 582 registrants! The 10K was especially packed on the narrow trails. After about 2 miles I left some of the crowd behind and caught up with Sue. At the 5k mark, I ran past her, and I ran really hard. I didn’t stop, ran hard throughout. Everytime I’d pick on someone ahead of me to pick off and that kept me going. There was this one girl who I was trailing for about 1 mile and finally when I picked her off I was elated! It gave me fresh lease of energy and I didn’t even feel the heat. The race course was not very hard, a few hills here and there, mostly the big dips that you had to run down to get momentum to run up. Many novice runners would walk down those dips (sometimes pretty steep) and thats when you feel you’ll lose balance. If you run down then you have momentum to run up the up-hill part. It takes effort though. I don’t think I eased off at any point while I did take time to recover I didn’t completely recover until I actually finished the race.

The kilometers seemed to go by quickly (there were only 10 of them). The trail was winding and pretty in parts and quite shaded so the heat wasn’t that bad. It was humid though. When I turned towards the finish line, there was no one ahead of me. I didn’t get the urge to do my usual sprint but because I’d run hard I finished strong at an even pace. Joe was at the finish line. He said I did good. I told him I was looking to run faster over shorter distances before taking on any longer races again. He said, that was a good idea especially for this season since we’re just coming out of the cold. I loved the encouraging words! I told him I didn’t think it was that hilly and he laughed, saying others complained about the hills. He said, I’ve trained you well!

The girl who switched me out for my timing chip for the finisher’s medal (isn’t it GORGEOUS and BADASS??), told me she thought I was the 6th woman to finish. I was ABSOLUTELY THRILLED. Me – the slow poke – could ever dream of being in top ten of anything for racing is a wonder to me. So I think this Run Less Run Fast strategy is working. I can give everything I have in me to run hard over the shorter distances. It helps me build speed and some endurance. It doesn’t mean I won’t ever run longer distances. I might do that over weekends when I feel up to it. I also would like to build my heat endurance over the short distances first. I have a raging headache from the sun and humidity and that’s something I need to fix before I move on.

After the race it was fun hanging around with Sue, who’s my trail sister for sure! She’s even just as old as my sister and we get along like a house on fire!

Overall, I am so happy I took the trouble to do this race, thankful to Joe for letting me in last-minute for FREE and encouraging me at the start and finish!

Cap10K!

So after several really long races, I finally did a fun 10k in Austin today. Definitely no PR there. The race started at 9 am and it was already sweltering a bit while we waited for the gun to go off. I ran with a bunch of EY folks but in the end I started to run with my work buddy Karen who runs at a pace similar to mine. The course was simple enough, not too many hills, I mean you can’t avoid hills in Austin. But it was a really fun race. Nearly 23,000 people turn out every year to run it, people run in costumes, there’s lots of bands (one in particular was great) and there’s even a costume contest. I love taking time to applaud the bands that come out and play for the runners – it makes it so much better on the course with them around. Today however didn’t see much out there in terms of costumes. There was an older guy running with an empty stroller making a baby sound and squirting fake baby pee at runners. One of those ideas that seem funny in planning. The EY team toyed with the costume idea but it didn’t really pan out – too busy accountants/consultants. Anyhoo, so it was really hot and in the beginning I waited for Karen a few times but her knee was bothering her so I took off. On the last leg, the last 2 miles or so was on Cesar Chavez right under the sun. Super hot, sweating like a pig. A few times I had to walk just to cool down or I felt I was going to pass out. Was glad this wasn’t a half marathon or something and I really had only 2 miles or so to go. Yuck, hate running in TX in the heat. Nothing to save you from the damn sun. Temp wise it was only 77 or so but soooo humid!! My usual last 500 yard dash for the finish line was quite pathetic – if I ran any faster I’d have been sprawled on the street so I tempered it down and just finished in at 1.02.20. So no PR there (remember Sao Paulo 10k was at night, so the damn sun took 30 seconds off each mile on my pace). Even then, still glad I ran it. It was hot but it was still an easy run. I really understand the difference between trails and road now because those same miles on the trails would have felt much harder. Yay to trails!

Some yoga, some running!

I’ve finally given in to this yoga fad. I mean yoga. I tried it once at the UT gym before we went to London and the first class was bliss. I really felt good right after. My limbs felt stretched and back felt so good. I almost wanted to go right back in and do it again. So I went back after the London trip. I hadn’t run for 2 weeks since the race. We’d walk a lot on London but I never got the chance to go running which is a tragedy cos I could have gotten bragging rights like I did when I ran in Rio and SP. Anyway, came back and went to 2 hatha yoga classes. From my Vedanta classes, as I recall Hatha Yoga was the lesser mortal’s path to the divine. Among the four yoga paths, (Bhakti, Karma, Raja or combo), Hatha was the path of cleansing your mind through bodily endurance and eventually realizing oneness with everything. So in my mind, somehow erroneously I’d thought Hatha was self-denial and torture. Perhaps it is, I don’t know. But it didn’t occur to me then that the path to endurance has to be through some form of self-denial or self-discipline. I know that now.

So I must say I was turned off by the word Hatha Yoga in that I thought it might be difficult. Then I read the description on the UT website “This mellow form of yoga focuses on simple poses that flow from one to the other at a very comfortable pace. Participants are encouraged to go at their own pace, taking time to focus on the breathing and meditation in their practice. This yoga is ideal for winding down at the end of a tough day.” That doesn’t sound hard does it? It was actually pretty awesome. Went in on a Saturday morning after a long flight back from London the day before and boy did it help me stretch out those creaky limbs. I went back the next day and I actually felt my muscles feeling a bit sore.

Sunday I also went to run with my running buddy Sue. That was not so good. It was hot and humid and I hadn’t run since the race so I was in bad shape. We did St. Eds which is hilly and rocky too. Eventually in the last mile of the 5 miles it mercifully began to rain and cooled down so I felt better running instead of panting like a dog.

Joe sent an email last week asking if I was done after Nueces or still ‘wanted to play’. I didn’t think I was done but definitely am not thinking of another race. So I went back on Tuesday, after the t-storm. Walnut Creek was muddy as hell but I felt pretty ok running. I’m definitely building up, it feels like it.

Went to a vinyasa yoga class on Wednesday. This seemed to be a faster version of the Hatha class. So more in between a core class and yoga. What I like about yoga is the emphasis on breathing, recovering using relaxation.

B thinks its my new thang. Probably is, we’ll see. I really feel much calmer after class. Everytime I walk out of the gym, it makes me think of everything that’s good and happy. So yes, I don’t really mind this new thang. With how busy life is, stress and all, I’ll take the calm, even its only for an hour in class.

Nueces Trail Race: Running with the Elks!

It was the best of a race and the worst of a race.
It was definitely one of the worst planned races I’ve ever done. The planning wasn’t poor on account of lack of planning. Rather it was just the circumstances. I was out of town on work and flew back in on Friday and we could drive out only around 7 pm. I wasn’t rested because the night before I had a minor case of food poisoning from some bad seafood in Houston (of course, what do you expect!). So anyway, Bharath and I piled stuff into the car and started at 7, leaving behind our sister/brother-in-law and kid at home. Bharath tried to convince me to give up the race for some other race but I just wanted to get it out of the way. I also hadn’t trained much in the last few weeks, due to work travel. So I had a lot going against it. Mostly I felt mentally exhausted. Not unprepared, I knew I’d go out there and finish. So better not to think of any time goal. But who does that eh in a race? I still had one.

To finish the suspense, I didn’t manage to keep it. By 10 minutes.

Anyway, half way through to Nueces, we were both tired and grumpy. I was glad of course that Bharath was with me. We decided to crash in Kerrville TX, a tiny town exactly at the halfway mark at the Americas Best Motel or something – amazing for the price of $54 per night and of course owned by a Gujju family. Which meant we had to drive out about 90 minutes in the morning. Still doable. The race began at 7 am. We crashed early, woke up late. For some godforsaken reason I decided to shower. And blowdry my hair. Bharath was perplexed…he was like why are you blowdrying your hair? I was like, I have no idea!

Started driving, promptly 8 miles in the wrong direction. Turned around and realized I-10 was right next to our motel. So it wasn’t the end of things going wrong. Anyhow we got to Camp Eagle way past 7 am. The last 8 miles was dirt road and seemed neverending. So by the time I began my race, the 25k had begun. I started sometime before the 10k racers. I met Olga my trustee masseuse at the start and she was like wooohoo!! The only one haha!

The races are so different on trails – the camp was full of kids and family members but nowhere as many as a road race. Once you begin running and you’re on the trails, it felt no different from a training run. No adrenaline rush from cheering crowds, no people egging you on when you’re fatigued, nothing. it’s you and the outdoors. the sky, the earth and the woods, even giant elks and you feel quite tiny amidst it all. yet you feel alive in no way I can describe.

So I began but I was still stressed from being late etc. I started by Garmin. Lost a glove and was resigned to have one frozen hand (it was in the lower 40s when I started). I even turned back for it and lost some time there but couldn’t find it. So I began running again, a bit too fast. Soon I coincided with the 10K racers who intersected and was convinced I was on the wrong course. I kept stopping and wondered whether I should retrace my steps. So I lost quite a bit of time in this quandary and pontificating. Finally decided, screw it, just keep running. So I did run. Picked off many of the 10k racers and finally when I passed 7 miles I realized I have to be on the right course since the 10k folks would have veered off and finished. Whether I ran the wrong course I would never know.

But the course I ran was beautiful and cruel. It was hard, rocky and hilly but the trek uphill was so rewarding. I met up with two 25k stragglers on a crazy uphill and they told me that this was warned about in the race brief the night before at the camp (to which we never made). I started feeling really good about 5 miles into the race – the first 5 miles being crampy and stressed. Finally decided to let everything go. About the same time as I encountered this hill. It was winding up and up. Knocked my head on the low trees quite a few times, once I reeled back and caught balance! Finally reached up and boy was it a prize to be up there. Had to stop and take a pic. Then there was this one up hill where on top there were three humongous crosses. I felt a bit eerie but decided that probably it was a good sign for the race. Ran for a long while on a flat and boring portion. I didn’t push and walked when I felt like it but walking seemed harder. The best moment I think was when I reached this ledge which ran high above the river and it was breathtaking.

I eventually caught up with my running buddies at mile 9 and 10 and I felt good, I had done decent time. One of them, Sue was injured and I ran with her for a bit and then went on my own. I had my trusty iPhone and the music gave good company. I also kept stopping to fix the tracks – who wants to run on Adele? So not disappointed with my time in retrospect. I did stop to smell the roses and thats what trail running is about isn’t it?

I was all ready to cross a stream when I saw Vinit and Bharath waiting on the other side. I ran with them the last 1.5 miles but I was really hurting by then. This was the longest time and distance I had run and I was feeling it. Meanwhile got picked off by some 50k and 50 milers. Damn them. They were almost ghostlike on the trail and I jumped every time one ran past me.

And finally it was the finish! I ran through and met Itisha and could barely stand, my legs were wracked with incredible pain which ebbed in a while. Was good to have Bharath there. The rest of the day was sore but the following day I felt fine. Thats what I loved about trails – I could feel better in a lot less time than the roads ever let me!

So that’s my first trail race report. Got it done and hopefully I’ll do some more. But given the time commitment and how far flung these races are, I might have to wait for a bit before Bharath will let me.

Saudades de Sao Paulo

Tuesday the 22 Nov was my last night in Sao Paulo. I’d had intentions to go run with Quark on Monday or Tuesday for the last time and say goodbye to the coaches who may not have been eloquent in explaining things to me in English but understood very well the language of running. To me, the three months I trained with them was worth more than my half marathon training for 16 weeks earlier this year, where I ran many miles but gained nothing on speed. Right now I am completely sold on the run less, run more strategy.

Tuesday was a hugely stressful day as the US consulate decided to mail back my passport after visa renewal at the last minute possible. I tried running but I was too pre0ccupied with the passport to zone out of the initial discomfort when you begin running. So once I got my passport back on Tuesday at 3pm, I went back to the hotel. As I walked in to my room, I let the nostalgia engulf me. I walked around my room, flicked on the Telecine channel and began finishing packing. After that, I decided to go run one last time around my beloved neighborhoods of Vila Olimpia and Itaim.

I started off by turning right on the corner of Rua Alvorada (where our hotel was, a street packed with enormous number of memories) onto R. Cardoso Melo and ran east. As I ran, every street corner, every block was crammed with some memory of life in SP. I thought back to my first run on my first weekend. I’d mapped out a route on the map but was afraid to run with the map in hand lest I get mugged (haha, seems so naive now). So I’d written the directions but without any idea of distance I of course got completely lost. I was amazed at how I knew that very same route by heart now. The streets that seemed so alien and crossed each other in weird ways that was only possible in SP now felt like home.

I turned left on Baluarte (the street that I had been looking for and never found on that first run) and ran up to Pellegrino. Countless taxi rides were taken to Parque Ibirapuera on Monday and Wed nights, after work to go run with Quarke. The taxis would often take that route, which was packed on weekday evenings and I ruminated on the uselessness of being stuck in traffic for 20 minutes to go run inside a park. This was back in the day that people warned me that the area around the park was dangerous and I should only cross it in a taxi. Since then I’ve run to and walked to the park at least 4-5 times and it’s been perfectly safe because actually, the area around the park is where all the millionaires live.

From Baluarte I turned left on Pellegrino instead of the right towards the park. I ran on the tree-covered median walkway until Pellegrino became Faria Lima. On Faria Lima, I thought about the first walk to the Extra grocery store with Amanda on a lazy Sunday. We walked about 30 minutes from the hotel to the Extra, always cautious about not trying to seem like we’re foreigners, sneaking glances at a small map. At Extra I bought too many things to eat in my room (needless to say, I tried it a few times but it reminded me too much of my first year in grad dorm, trying to heat up instant noodles in the microwave. I decided I was not going to be that pathetic and went out to eat every time). Amanda and I took a cab back and hailing a cab on the street that day was in my opinion, a huge risk we took. The cab was unmarked and I was so nervous until we reached back to the hotel.

From Faria Lima, I turned left onto Juscelino Kubitschek. Ah, JK! The busy thoroughfare, always packed during busy hours (read 6 am until 11 pm) is the street where the EY building is located. Thought about my first cab ride on the day I landed to the office. The cab driver didn’t know where it was and I was worried he was taking me for a ride. Anyway, it took 20 minutes to find the building but the cab ride was about R$16 (or roughly $11-12) which is still cheap for a cab ride for 20 minutes. And then the sequence of events that followed ran through my head like a movie in fast forward – going to the office, meeting my team, meeting Marina who became one of my greatest friends in Brazil, meeting my expat group for dinner that night and wondering how they knew so much about Brazil and whether I would ever catch up with all that information on what to do where, how to pay, how to ask for food, how to talk to a cab driver etc. etc., all the memories with all of the friends I had made in SP, the weekends by the pool, the nights out in clubs and bars, the lunches at work, the dinners in the neighborhood, the shopping trips with the girls – everything clear like it happened yesterday!

I thought about how  my portuguese was pretty much at zero and today as I vacation my last few days in Brazil in Rio with my husband, I find that I can help us navigate pretty well through the maze of restaurant menus and cab rides. I’m still lost at words more than the 100 in my vocabulary but it’s way better than not knowing anything.

I finally turned on JK onto Funchal and was on my daily walk home from work. This street was FULL of memories of the countless walks I took with my friends either to or from work or to the numerous bars and restaurants. Passed by the mall where I got my cell phone plan with vivo, Hooters (where we used to go to watch American sports and eat awful American food, the worst chicken wings I have ever eaten), Seo Gomez boteco where we sometimes met to watch the Corinthians play or just drink choppe (where Christine and Rob argued endlessly about the stupid flip cam while Big Rob and I watched), turned right on Lourcenco and ran up Cardoso Melo again – passed Shoestock where I went shopping with Christine a few times and we had some great conversations in between shoes and belts.

And finally, turned the corner onto Alvorada again. I was hot and sweaty now and it was going to begin raining. I walked into the hotel and it began pouring immediately almost on cue. I wish I’d been out running in the rain because it would be the city’s beijao to me. I went up to my room, stood on the balcony for what felt like hours and let the rain soak me. I watched the SP skyline turn color from pink to grey in the twilight rain and I knew I would miss this city very, very deeply.