I started the blog with the idea of writing about being a London based single mother working in the city. But now I’m (fortunately) none of those things – and I live in Lima. I guess this is how ‘life style’ blogs are born, but I lack the qualifications for the job.
If there has been one constant and – since the start of my sabbatical – dominating aspect of my life, that would be running. I love running, reading about running, listening about running and talking about running. So I’ll probably also enjoy writing about running. If you find watching marathons exciting you probably belong to the 0.1% of the population who will find this interesting.
I find it funny when I’m asked how long I’ve been running. If you mean when I started to win, the answer is not yet, probably never. But in terms of putting one foot in front of another, I’ve run as long as I can remember, and paid money to participate in races since I was 14. (Nearly ten years later, I did the Helsinki City Marathon in a time that wouldn’t qualify me to deliver junk mail.) But it was a hobby that my parents who thought it was a good idea to give over the financial management of our household to Jesus, could afford. (Obviously this precedes the time time I owned a Garmin watch, Polar heart monitor, Aesics running shoes, compression socks, a cupboard full of energy gels). But I had trainers and I had endless forests in Finland. Running, I’ve always thought, is one of the most meritocratic things in the world, and among reading and Denzel Washington, a great equaliser in unjust society.
I think these two are just proven by the lengths some people go to stop the first two on their tracks. It seems that organisations specifically dedicated to stop black people, girls or other selected groups from participating in the Olympics or reading other than religious kind of literature, never need to specifically advertise vacancies.
Anyway, my original reasons for this blog were also the reasons for my running activity being best described as opportunistic. I did a few half marathons, 10 miles and 10ks, but most of my running took place on the left hand side of the escalators.
It wasn’t until I had to have spine surgery that I started to understand running as an energy resource and a constant in life’s chaos. I began to give it the space in my life that it deserves and acknowledge its part in making me who I am, even if that’s a heel striker and a borderline-borderline personality. When dissected almost like a fish on a lab table, and something about your bone tissue prompts your surgeon ask if you’re a runner without ever having seen you in trainers, I think it’s ok to say yes.
To hammer it home quite literally (this is an inside joke for the vast number of people who’ve had a spinal biopsy), I have a freaky rare autoimmune disease that took only fifteen years to diagnose. This means that while it can’t be cured, I can avoid flare ups and seeing Dr Fakouri – although he’s quite fit – by staying healthy and generally not running myself to the ground.
So what the hell am I doing in Lima then, doesn’t seem like an unreasonable follow up question. I wouldn’t exactly recommend Lima as a health resort, by any degree. But when you meet the boy perfecto in every other aspect, what would YOU do? What would Jesus do? I know David Cameron would tighten the immigration policy, but no-one asked him.
If life in Lima drives me to the brink of despair, all the more reason to find a running path. It’s a sociological fact, that running gives a way to focus and allows people gain control over something in their lives. It’s a healthy distraction from earthly troubles.
This could be the reason why in the recession hit Peru running is everywhere. There are running groups, events and sports shops everywhere in Lima. While the streets are a death trap – all the better reason to run in a group – the political endorsement of outdoor activities is quite impressive. Miraflores (my borough) has its own Boris, although less conspicuous. I train with a local running group at least three times a week. Four months in, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to getting up at 4.30am any more I’d get used to the stupid ice bucket challenge. But misquoting some motivational speaker, it’s easier to stick to doing something 100% of the time than 80% of the time. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to inject the same level of discipline (read, autopilot) to anything else in my life, but I never miss a training. In the days between, I either run on my own or can be found having my downward dog posture corrected on a power yoga class.
I take horrible running pictures, which has been evidenced on our trainer’s Facebook page, and doesn’t really need to be affirmed further elsewhere in the internet. Apparently God gave me long legs to take stupid little Hobbit steps. (But apparently, long strides cause more injuries. That would explain why I’ve never suffered one.)
If, however, I remember, am able to stop and have enough battery left, I will take pictures from some of the trails. Expect the web cam quality of trail porn and you won’t be be disappointed.
I always have my headphones on. Most of the time listening to my Spotify playlists; sometimes just as a decoy for people who like (and are capable of) having a conversation after the third mile, and in Peru that’s nearly everyone. But sometimes, I use the Audible app to listen to books – novels and non-fiction on – you guessed it – running. Couldn’t get more socially equalising than that!