On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why didn't anyone tell me this sooner?

I don't want to jinx anything, but my runs lately have been going well. Quite well. My daily runs are up to 4 miles with no difficulty, and further, I'm enjoying running. Like, I'm excited to go out the door. This hasn't happened in ages.

I think it's because I'm going out after dark, no joke. I've spent the past, hm, nearly 20 years being terrified of being raped, and using that to keep myself inside after dark. (And yes, I know how unlikely that is, statistically speaking.) But now! Something about being in a foreign country, and not carrying my cell phone when I run out of fear of being mugged, not having any identification on me, and only partially speaking the language - finally I feel safe and free to run outside!

Okay, fine, I'll buy a Road ID and put the consulate emergency phone number on it.

Anything else about running in Brazil? Well, in Brazil, everyone is responsible for maintaining their own sidewalks. What this effectively means is that everyone's sidewalks are totally different. Some are awesome, some are terrible and broken. Most are these hodge-podgy small cobblestone deals that seem designed to trip you.

And the traffic! I was warned about how bad the traffic was here, and I'll admit, I didn't really listen. I've lived in NYC and Cairo and visited a plethora of other cities, and I've never met traffic I couldn't handle. But oh, boy, Sao Paulo... For one thing, stoplights are widely considered optional after dark, due to safety concerns.

And now that I'm running after dark...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I'm not really a fan of Hoka One One.

This morning, I went for a run in Sao Paulo's version of Central Park. It's called "Ibirapuera Park" (which is pronounced exactly as it looks, unless you're me and you just sort of slur a lot of labial noises all together because it's kind of a tongue twister). It's not quite as big as Central Park, and it's way more crowded, but it's beautiful. Instead of carts selling Gatorade and overpriced water, they have carts selling coconut water - but from real coconuts.

Bad blogger that I am, I didn't take any pictures (crime here is insane, and I didn't want to be walking around with my phone out - although in the middle of the day, it probably would have been okay - but the replacement cost here for an iphone 5 like mine is about $1500, so...).

Speaking of astronomical prices, let me tell you a short story. Before I left the states, I bought myself a running present. You know, one of those "maybe you'll be motivated to run more if you drop mad money on running" presents. Always works, right? My present to myself was a pair of Hoka One Ones. I mean, I was reading about how everyone was finding them to be completely transcendental, and I'm always one to hop on a bandwagon.

My first few runs in them were lovely. They're so cushy! Like soft marshmallows, nested gently into clouds. But then today, during my run, I noticed that I was having some shin pains. Oh, Tracy, I cursed myself. You KNOW you do badly with zero-drop shoes! Sure enough, by the time my run was over, I was ready to retire the Hoka One One's and call it a failed experiment. Should have known better from their stupid name.

No problem, right? Just go to the store and buy some new shoes, right? How about the Brooks Ravenna that I love, or what about my old tried-and-trued Asics?

Granted I don't wear the Gel Kinsei, but let me show you why I won't be buying running shoes here any time soon: that shoe is priced at R$1000. As in, $450. The cheapest models they had (think, fashion shoes not made for running) at the Asics store were about R$400, or about $200.

This country is expensive as fuck.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A journey of a thousand okay more like 13.1 miles

Is anybody reading this?

That's not some rhetorical device to cutely point out that I've been AWOL forever. That's actually a question - do I still have any readers?

In the past many many months, I basically stopped running. I moved to DC, I sort-of-kind-of-but-not-very-well learned Portuguese, and then I moved to Brazil. Living in a foreign country is awesome and difficult at once, but I know you're less concerned about my exciting expatriate life than you are about my running.

Yeah, that.

To be totally honest, I found life in DC to be different, and by that I mean difficult. Not only was I not accustomed to having to be anywhere 5 days a week (and on someone else's schedule, no less), but I had to be at work by 7:30 every morning. In short, I never really got used to it. Couple that with an intense liminal feeling, like I was always in between (why bother settling down when I know I'm going to be moving soon? why bother making friends? why bother...?), and I was not myself while I was in DC. But it became a cycle: I'd feel upset, so I wouldn't run. I wouldn't run, and then I'd feel upset. Rinse, repeat. Oh yeah also I got (more?) fat.

One thing that surprised me about living in DC, on the other hand, was how little I missed NYC. I missed my friends there like whoa, but the city itself? Not so much. NYC is a busy, expensive, vast, and difficult place to live. And yet it traps you in like an abusive relationship, making you think that there's NO OTHER PLACE IN THE WORLD AS AWESOME. In fact, there are many places. And once you get to one of them, you'll be much happier.

So anyway, I live in Sao Paulo now. And I'm happy. Aside from some lingering loneliness that will abate in time, very happy. My life is still a little disordered - I've been in temporary housing for a month, my stuff (including my car) is unlikely to arrive until November - but overall I feel more calm than I have in a year. Which is probably why I've been able to pick up that there running thing again.

It's slow going, and what I now consider a "run" would make my old self laugh hysterically (4km? hahahahahahaha - but at least reckoning in kms does make it seem slightly less pathetic). It's a little too early to consider goal races, but I'm thinking about a December-ish half if I can get my shit together.

Oh, yeah, also? It's winter here. Wrap your mind around that. #soweird