tisdag 25 augusti 2009

Back on track. Or something..

24/8-09, Medium run, 14 km, 1:13:16

Link to route: http://www.funbeat.se/tracks/index.aspx?RouteID=215528

Yesterday mornings run was tough, and left me tired, so tired.. Today was a true monday, showing its ugly face. Crazy calls, crazy people.

The solution: a good run home from work! I needed that. Nice time for contemplation in my own space.

Off to the park, Parque Omar, one lap, then Via Porras to Calle 50. Zigzaging through San Francisco (barrio) towards Multiplaza, passed the hospital, Paitilla, Punta Pacifica and then Cinta Costera. A good "medium" run.

Passing Multiplaza, I have always found the wall on the picture intriguing. A prison? Something dangerous hidden inside, like King Kong? Nope. Just a school. An ordinary school. I wonder if the high walls are to keep "dark" thoughts from coming in, or to keep the children stuck in the particular "faith" this school belongs to. Or maybe they just like high walls..

Now I have sent in the application also for the next, really crazy challenge. I think this one is a really really stupid decision- but I love it!

Picture: whats behind the walls..?

lördag 22 augusti 2009

Heaven and Hell. And the importance of learning from mistakes

Panama International Marathon: 3h 35m 47s

The marathon last year was terrible. So much pain, so many tears. Too little toilet paper.. (better not go into details about that..). But what g
ood is not a mistake, if you can learn from it. Some claim that my memory tends to be a bit on the short side, but last years experience is forever etched into the inside of my head.

Last years 4:11, with a terrible last 12 km, I was determined to cut down to 3:45 with at least an endurable finish. I dont think a marathon can ever be nice the last 5-10 km, but there is hell and there is really hell. To avoid last years “pit-stops” behind bushes, running out of toiletpaper, I decided to cut down on the amount of food the day before the race, on Saturday. Enjoying saturday evening on the balcony, sitting together with my swedish friend Dino talking strategies, what pace to start with, how many energy gels, salt pills, how much water to drink. Everything but the color of the socks. Sort of.

Dino arrived from Sweden on Thursday evening, and was going to run a marathon in a tropical climate on Sunday morning. A truly brave task! I have had 1 ½ years of getting used to the heat and humidity, Dino got less than three days...

Alarm clock going off just after 3 am. Terrible. But, after getting my shorts and t-shirt on, the whole body wants to start running! No coffee in the morning, just a sandwich. 4.15, off to Multiplaza and the start. I was impressed with the organization, this year they had put up toilets! I didnt have to search for a bush before start, I could attend to that business with somewhat more dignity this year!

Two happy suecos before the race! Dino to the left, me on the right.

Pretty soon, it is obvious that we will never start in time. As if anyone that has been living in Panama more than a few weeks ever thought t
hat could happen. It is not so much to get upset about, but every minute later start means one more minute of running in the sun later that morning. After the mandatory national hymn, we squeezed together to be able to pass the start “posts”.

5.15 and away!
New route this year, which made the race even more flat. Which was good. A very boring run on the highway, Corredor Sur, the first half of the race. That was bad. And a very nice route around the mountain Ancon. All in all, the changes was for the better. But the corredor was a truly boring part to run. Dino started off faster than me. I had decided to start in around 5.10 min/km pace, Dino probably slightly below 5 min.

After a few k, I realized I was going faster than planned, slighly below 5 min/km. Much too fast. But it felt good, so I just kept the pace. After a few km, we entered the Corredor Sur, and the field was already spread out. I passed Señor Pastor, a very strong 58 year old runner, and I realized I was going much too fast, still below 5 min.

At the turning point at Costa del Este, I saw Dino 50 meter
ahead. Looked good, and we made company for a few k. I was still plowing on in a sub 5 min/k pace, but the feeling was good. Just before entering the corredor on the way back, after perhaps 15 k, they served the first gatorade (or similar)- a discusting blue color or a terrible red. No choice but drinking the colorful stuff. I wonder how much chemicals it contains, and for the rest of the race I took only water.

Almost at the end of the corredor, I joined a strong runner. When he saw my swedish flag on my shirt, he asked if I was the guy that run ocean to ocean earlier. “Yeah..”. “Great! I am Irving, I am organizing the relay race coast to coast”. We talked for a while. Or rather, Irving talked and I mainly listened- I started to get a tiny bit tired.. Pretty soon, Irving was running ahead of me.

Passing Multi Plaza at 21 k, and still feeling pretty good. Fantastic, a new personal best on the half marathon- in a full marathon. Maybe not the smartest opening, but I simply could not resist the pace.. 1:42:30!

I passed Irving, and went out running on Avenida Balboa. Not easy to find the route, since there was no one to show where to run and the field was so spread out that I could not see where the runner ahead was running. I finally found the way and started the 3 km run along the water. At the end of Ave Balboa were the true saviours of the day- the Pura Voluntad team, supporting all runners with cold water, smiles, cheering. Ida was there as well, supporting the runners, taking photographs, cheering- wonderful!

Picture: passing Pura Voluntad after 25-26 km, still feeling good, getting a lot of energy.

Picture: my friend Agapito passing Pura Voluntad

Picture: Dino passing Pura Voluntad

Picture: Dino taking the opportunity to stretch before the first tough uphill after Pura Voluntad.

Picture: my friend Margaret passing Pura Voluntad.

Leaving Pura Voluntad with more energy, heading uphill along the ramp- the first tough part of the run. This was where my hell started last year. This year did not feel good, but much better than last year, and I could keep running at an even pace. The most dangerous part were the next few kilometers, to the ramp to Amador. No sidewalk to run on, sharing the road with the crazy busdrivers of the diabolo rojos. The organizers had people on the sidewalk, showing the way to run- as if it was difficult to find the way. Standing on the sidewalk, forcing the runners out on the extremely dangerous streets. They should have been standing on the street, warning the busdrivers that there was a competition!!! In an otherwise pretty well arranged race, this part was a true disaster.

Out to Amador and the turning point at around 30 k, and the sun was now relentless. Starting to feel really tired, I started the new part to run around the hill Ancon. Nice shadow, and probably the most beautiful part of the race, at least the nicest. On the far end, I really started to drop my pace, and I was passed by Pastor and another guy I know, the looked really strong!

Picture: passing Pura Voluntad on the way back.

Passing Pura Voluntad on the way back, and only 5 km left of the race. Painful, but not terribly so, feeling so alone on Avenida Balboa. Passed by Irving, and now I was really going slow. Håkan was there, taking pictures, cheering. Felt like shit, but still much better than last year.

The last uphill with 1 km left, and then I could see Multi Plaza ahead of me. No rain this year, so there were more people watching. Running the last meters, and seeing the time, 3:35 something, I could not believe it! 10 minutes faster than I planned, and 26 minutes faster than last year!

Picture: Carlitos and me with well deserved medals!

Picture: Dino after the race, his first tropical marathon!

Picture: me and Dino, happy that we made it..

Picture: ..but even more happy that it was over...

I had to lie down for 10 minutes, really tired but happy. Ida came a few minutes later, and we decided to wait for Dino. The last part of the race was pretty hot, with sun shining. This was tough for me, and I am used to the heat and humidity by now. Dino had only a few days to get used to it, and he had a really tough morning. Dino finished on an impressive 4:14, much slower than his target, but I was amazed to see that he made it! Arriving on Thursday, then run a marathon on Sunday in a tropical climate.

Picture: the fantastic Pura Voluntad team. Ida behind the camera.

Looking back, it was a tremendous difference from last year. Much better prepared, used to the heat and humidity. Knowing a lot of the runners were also a great help. Shouted hello to probably 20 runners along the race, cheering and giving eachother energy- those things means a lot. And most importantly- the Pura Voluntad team. A tremendous support, giving so much energy- in a way, that was the true difference!

A big thank you, and abrazos to the Pura Voluntad team!

Thank you Ida, for your support and for all the pictures!

Picture: Dino, Ida and me at Pura Voluntad. Avenida Balboa in the background.

lördag 1 augusti 2009

Getting ready for the Marathon!

A little more than a week left, and a bit more irregular training than usual. First three weeks of vacation in Sweden with my family, than three weeks here in Panama with the family still in Sweden. More time for running without the family? Well, for some strange reason, more time for work...

Actually, the running have been the saviour. Without it, the 12 hour working days the last few weeks would more likely have turned into 15-16 hour working days. With Ida and Noom back tomorrow, I will cut it down to more normal working days.

Picture: Cinta Costera at night. Pacific to the left.

Last weekend was a good test. 25 k on Sunday with pretty good speed, around 5:30 min/km. A little slower than the planned pace next Sunday, but taking into account that my stomach was bad and that I had to find a bathroom (or a spot behind a bush) three times during the run it was pretty good. Started at 5:30 in the morning, and it was nice for most of the run. But during the last few km, the sun was up and the temperature quickly reached to 34-35 C. With this weather on the marathon, this is what we can expect for the last hour of running or so.

Yesterday, I went running on Cinta Costera. Not as varied as the park, but this is what the marathon will be- flat. So, its good training. Lots and lots of people out, so far Cinta have been a real success!

Now, they have also released the map of the new route for the marathon. The decision to take the motorway, Corredor Sur, instead of the road that passes Panama Viejo is a bad decision I think. Much more boring, worse with the wind. And dangerous. Knowing how it normally works, they will not close off the road, but put out cones or something, to warn car drivers that there is something on the road- or someone. In this case runners.

Since the race starts at 5 am, we will be there when the drunk drivers drive home from the Saturday night party- on the motorway. Well, it will add to the excitement, that is for sure. But stupid? Yes! If they do not close one of the roads, this is probably the most stupid decision Corredores del Istmo, the runners club, have made since we moved here.

On the way back, we will run around Ancon instead of back the same way from Causeway. Thats a good decision. More variation. Now I am waiting for my dear swedish friend Dino to come as well, to run the marathon. For Dinos sake, I really hope that we dont get any sun on Sunday. It will be tough as it is, coming from cool Sweden to hot and humid Panama to run 42 km.

Tomorrow will be the last longer run before the marathon, around 20 km. After that, preparing for the return of my family!