Tag Archives: sports

Five Facts to Know About Road Races in Barranquilla

It’s National Running Day in the US, and even though I have mixed feelings about “minor” holidays like this (I just read on Facebook that it is also apparently National Hug Your Cat Day – maybe you should run and hug your cat), I figured there would be no better day than today for a quickie blog post on the do’s and don’ts of running road races in Barranquilla.

Running Medals and Numbers

Proof!

I have run five road races in Quilla since I moved here almost two years ago. That’s not a high number (hey, I did run a 26.2mi/42k during that timeframe, albeit in Argentina!), but it’s enough to learn a few things about how these events happen here. If you plan to run a road race in Barranquilla, know someone who does, or simply want to be prepared for variances in races place-to-place, these tips are for you!

1. The listed start time is… what’s the word?… aspirational.

Do not – I repeat – do NOT arrive at your race an hour early, or even a few minutes early. Continue reading

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The Evolving Mental State of an Amateur Marathoner

I have now run four marathons – one at an okay speed, two at semi-impressive speeds, and one terribly slowly. But even at my fastest, I am the turtle in the tortoise/hare story — only the hare most definitely wins. But I am a happy turtle, and something keeps me coming back time and again. For anyone who’s ever wondered, “What the hell is she thinking?” — and for my fellow distance runners who understand the obsession and for the loved ones who have to put up with it — this post is for you. I present to you the inner thoughts of an amateur marathoner before, during, and after the big race.

Probably near the 10k mark.

Buenos Aires Marathon, October 13, 2013. Probably near the 10k mark.

DAY BEFORE – Time to pick up the race kit with my number, T-shirt, etc. Husband goes with me. Check-in people ask if he has brought his release form, etc. I tell them I’m the one running. They try to hide their surprise. Continue reading

Run, Run Like the Wind… but don’t forget your Armpocket: B.o.B.’s First-But-Not-Last Product Review and Giveaway

For those who are long-time readers of this blog, you know from this post that I run. It’s more accurate to say that I jog, but that sounds so boring. I think if the activity requires your knees to bend more than your butt joint, then you are entitled to say that you run. But I digress…. You also know from this post that running in Barranquilla can be hard, not just because of the extreme heat and humidity, but also because of the crazy uneven or nonexistent sidewalks and the drivers who most definitely do not believe that pedestrians have the right-of-way. What you may not know is that running in Barranquilla sent me on a quest for a product I wish I had found long ago – the Armpocket.

My brand new Armpocket.

My brand new Armpocket.

Before I tell you why I recommend this product so highly, let me tell you how I came to realize that I needed it. The story starts in Miami Beach, where I trained for three marathons but never ran with a phone. I wanted my daily run to be off the grid. I did, however, run with an iPod Nano since running without music is, as far as I’m concerned, some outer circle of Hell. That, and I am totally addicted to tracking my runs with  Nike+. (Almost 2,000 miles logged!) I tried a variety of arm straps for my Nano – one by Nike, one by New Balance, and some others that I can’t remember. In the process, I got blisters on my arm and ruined two iPods through water damage. (Sweat, people. Lots of sweat.) I chalked this up to the price of running – after all, it’s a pretty cheap sport on the whole – and kept hoping my iPod would survive at least six months. (Don’t even get me started on earphones… no telling how many of those I burned through before I discovered that Sennheiser’s are serious troopers. But again I digress….)

When I came to Barranquilla, I quickly realized that I was going to feel more comfortable if I toted my phone with me on runs – not just because I could make an emergency call if needed, but also because of the GPS. Being the practical person that I am, I plopped my iPhone into a plastic sandwich bag, leaving the bag open just enough for the earphone cord, and carried it in my hot little hand. (I ditched the iPod since the iPhone had both music and the Nike+ app – although let me tell you, my average time per mile plummeted because if you use the Nike+ app with the GPS, as opposed to the one that goes on your shoe, then you get no credit for all that time you’re running in place at the red light. OMG, I digress again….) That’s when some pretty interesting things started to happen. Continue reading

Colombia + Rain + Football = Epic Adventure (with photos and videos)

Picking up where we left off in the ongoing saga of World Cup mania in Colombia, I had just bought tickets on the street to Colombia’s sold-out September 6th Qualifier against Ecuador. I bought the tickets literally a few hours before the game, and paid a hefty price.

Marcello's nursery school class on game day.

Marcello’s nursery school class on game day.

The purchase was dicey in two respects: 1) tickets are all too often found to be counterfeit, which can mean a colossal waste of money for the purchaser, and 2) my husband Gio had to work until just before the start of the game, which meant it would be no small miracle if we were able to arrive at the stadium on time. We made the leap anyway because we realized at the last minute that we would not be in Barranquilla during the remaining home World Cup Qualifiers. This would likely be our only chance to see our team — the number 3 ranked team in the world no less! — in action. It didn’t seem like an opportunity to miss.

So you can imagine our dismay when, just as we bolted out of the house to rush to the stadium, the storm clouds let loose.

The arroyo at the corner of CR 47, our street, and CL 85, the nearest cross-street. The wall that is submerged behind the tree is probably five feet tall.

The arroyo at the corner of CR 47, our street, and CL 85, the nearest cross street. The wall that is submerged behind the tree is four or five feet tall.

A torrential downpour just before a major sporting event is a problem in any city; it’s bound to cause traffic snafus. But in Barranquilla, a major downpour doesn’t just slow things down — it stops everything. This is because Barranquilla has no drainage system other than the streets themselves, which means the streets become whitewater rivers — called “arroyos” — that are capable of sweeping cars underwater and (sadly) killing people too. Gio and I donned plastic garbage bags in a (failed) attempt to stay dry and ran down the street desperately trying to hail a cab before the streets became impassable. With each step we took, the rain came down harder. We made it about two blocks from our house before the water began rushing down the street and over our shoes. At that point, we knew it was too late. Just when we decided to turn around and head home, and just when I thought it couldn’t rain any harder, it did. We were starting to feel waterboarded when we finally made it to the shelter of a nearby apartment building’s porch and a small store on the ground floor.

That’s when the fun really began. Continue reading

Life, Liberty, and the Boston Marathon: Why Road Races Matter in the Pursuit of Happiness

Hearts around the world ached upon hearing the news of the lives lost or forever changed by the bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The assaults were an attack on our humanity, an affront to our collective conscience. To hurt for the victims and to feel revulsion for the killers required neither U.S. citizenship nor personal experience with terrorism, and it certainly didn’t require one to be a marathon runner. And yet, for me, the fact that the bombings occurred so close to the finish line of such a revered and enduring road race – one that I’ve aspired to run one day – made the tragedy feel awfully close to home.

I’m a lifelong runner and have finished three marathons – far fewer than many people I know. Yet each of those three 26.2 mile / 40 kilometer events has been a point of extreme happiness in my life. Continue reading