Tuesday, July 24, 2012

marathon post

If you’ve read my blog before, you know that my site-mate Keren and I just ran a marathon. Yay! I haven’t updated since then and I really wanted to tell you guys about it. [Side note: I know some people are like, "Whoop-di-do. Who cares?", so if that is you, don’t read this blog post, k? Okay great.]

After the first long run. Really muddy and wet.
In September/October of last year I realized I had turned into an blob of a person. Peace Corps tells you that its obscenely rude to reject food and that if you don’t eat absolutely everything you will never have any friends in site, ever. Okay, also the food is delicious. But the Andean diet consists of mainly potatoes and rice and noodles and potatoes and potatoes and potatoes. So us lady-folk bulk up. Fast.

I also thought exercising was too hard here. The altitude kicked my ass – walking to work at 9,000 ft. raised my heart rate plenty. Doing P-90X in my room felt silly and wasn’t enough of a challenge. And then there were the dogs.

Let me tell you a little about the dogs here. They suck. Okay not all of them, but come on guys, let a girl try to lose some weight, aight? Running aggravates the crap out of dogs here. So do cars. And bicycles. But a short little girl with beefy legs running tauntingly past their house. Tempting.

So at the very beginning I went with my instinct- when a dog came after me, I ran. I booked it.


Just no.

That is NOT what you do if a dog is coming at you. Boy, was I an idiot.

So then I did what I saw many people do. I threw rocks at the dog.

Also, no. Nope, wrong again. This will help when you have no other options, but still, no.

So for a while I was carrying hand-grenade-sized rocks around while I was running. It was kind of annoying. And I looked silly. People started to tell me, “Nooo, Alison, tienes que correr con un palo,” (you have to run with a stick!). I thought that sounded way dumber than this stupid rock I was carrying. I also thought they wanted to laugh at the crazy gringa running around with a stick.

But after a few too many run-ins with the dogs, I tried it. And I’ve never gone back. My host family even widdled me my very own palito and I’ve ran with the same stick for the past 8 months. I don’t leave home without it.

For the most part the dogs see my stick and leave me alone, but for the really scary dogs Keren has taught me you have to be bigger and scarier than the dog. Just so you know, we look stupid crazy when we do this. Imagine me with my hands above my head shouting obscenities and stomping towards the dog like the Where the Wild Things Are monsters. Whatever.

So that’s just the dogs.

In the states I worked out pretty religiously. As a former college athlete working out was extremely important to me. So when I finally started working out again here, after a 5 month hiatus… it was, well, ego-crushing. I couldn’t run at this altitude for even a minute at a time without getting winded (it really is hard, imagine running with a plastic bag over your head… actually, it’s EXACTLY like that). But I was determined and finally worked myself up to 30 and 40 minute runs.

I had heard about the Pacasmayo Marathon before coming to Peru. It’s one of the few full marathons held in Peru and was founded by a Peace Corps volunteer. I wanted a challenge, and when I realized I’d only have one chance to run it, I decided to go for it.

After the 12-mile long run of death. Large.
I used Hal Higdon’s beginner plan. The first weeks looked really doable (three to six mile long runs), but I had no idea how I’d work up to 12 miles or how I’d ever be able to run the longest training run at 20 miles.

Keren thought I was a crazy person – I was huffing through 40 minute runs, how in the world was I going to train for a marathon in the Andes. She was definitely not ever going to do that with me. Definitely not. Ever. Okay maybe she’d just join me for one run. Wait okay, Keren would train for a marathon with me.

We trained our asses off (literally) for 18 weeks. Keren and I would run along the Panamerican highway (super-safe, I promise...) for our long runs on Tuesday mornings when we both had time. During the week Keren ran this crazy tiny loop in her hilly site to get miles in, while I ran along this bumpy, rocky, back-road along the river and past the lime-mines.

I never thought long-distance running was for me. I am a stump of a person. I am built for speed, not for distance. Seriously, have you seen me? Sometimes I think God gave me these legs as a joke. But they’re strong. And I can beat anyone at a sprint. But I’m SLOW AS POOP on long runs. Slow. As. Poop.

But it turns out I love it. I LOVE it. I throw on my silly headphones (thanks a lot Ryan Johnson), head out at the crack of dawn with Keren and my stick, and just go. And of course the views here don’t hurt.

So on July 1st Keren and I ran that marathon. And we kicked ass. I thought for sure that, out of the handful of people (40) running the full marathon, I’d come in last, and I had come to terms with being followed by an ambulance the entire way. But I wasn’t last! I came in 6th out of the women (lol, out of the 7 that didn’t drop out). It was an extremely challenging course, the last eight miles were on sand. But it felt awesome, and I felt like I could run another 10 miles at the end. Our Peace Corps friends cheering us on got me to the end with negative splits (thanks Brit!!!). And because I got, um, just a little bit lost, I probably ran a kilometer over a marathon! So in general, major ass-kicking.

Keren and me after the marathon!

Marathon training consumed my life for most of 2012 and as soon as it was over, I wanted more.

We have the dirtiest marathon feet.
So Keren and I are going to run the Lima half-marathon in six weeks. Then get super fast. Then get six-pack abs. Then run an ultra-marathon.

Okay, I’ll shut up now, now I really am just being annoying.

Goodnight guys!

P.S. Grandma! You ran a marathon! I always joke with you and say you’re going to run a race with me someday. Then, on Thanksgiving, when I told you on the phone that you should run the marathon with me and you laughed, I decided I’d make it happen no-matter-what. So on July 1st 2012, you and I both set out to complete 26.2 miles and you got me all the way to the end. [Check out the photos below - I pinned you to my number]. I love you so much! Way to go!

I can now add chicken heart (complete with arteries) and sun-dried beef (from our bull that fell over dead from illness) to my list of crazy meats I’ve eaten in Peru. Hooray for protein!


  1. All of the props in the world: THERE ARE YOURS.

    Congratulations! I think that race would have killed me. I am sure of it, actually.

    1. *THEY

      (I don't proofread until after I his send.)