Having not trained well, including having been sick for the past 2 weeks in which I barely ran because I barely got enough sleep to excuse getting up extra early to run, I decided to run a medio maraton (half marathon), El Maraton de las Rosas. The race began today at 8:30 a.m. in the central park of Antigua (my city). The first kilometer consisted of slow walking because there were so many competitors, it was impossible to run. The first six kilometers were tons of fun running around Jocotenango (a neighboring pueblo), chatting with 3 friends of the family I live with who I had gone to church with and had a 4 hour lunch with last month, David, Edgar, and Diego. Kilometers 6 through 12 were comfortable because we got to run on a paved highway as oppose to the usual cobblestone. I had a cramp that only lasted for about 1 kilometer! Kilometers 12 through 18 were a little brutal. We were running back on the cobblestone, and now in a very hilly (*read uphill) pueblo, Ciudad Vieja. The fans were great, helping us along, giving us agua pura, gatorade, and cheering “!animo a las mujeres!” I appreciated the feminine support! My back hurt a bit, but I found a posture that made it all better. My running group was great. For about 2 kilometers I felt like I was holding the group back, but then I stepped it up and the boys were behind me for a bit. I felt like we did a great job of staying together and supporting/pushing each other. Everyone had their own time where they needed the support. It was nice knowing that I was not the only one needing the support.
The last 5 kilometers were off and on. I heard I only had 3 kilometers left when in reality I probably had about 5 kilometers left, so I stepped on the gas prematurely. When I read the 18 kilometer mark on the ground and realized that was when I really had 3 kilometers left, I slowed down a bit a little upset I had pushed it prematurely. There was a little bit of paved road between the 18 and 19 kilometer mark which was pretty exciting. We slowly but surely sped up as we neared the end. When I first hit the cobblestone at 19 kilometers I began to speed up, but ran a little too hard. Everytime I thought I was really close to central park, I started booking it, but then slowed down when I realized I had no idea where I was. It was difficult to pass people because everyone was on the sidewalk (where it is less cobblestoney) so if you wanted to pass someone you had to jump off of the sidewalk to the awful cobblestone, and then jump back up to the sidewalk. (It is interesting to see a city with no sort of step size regulations by the way.)
We had a great pace going by the end and then when we saw the finish line we waited for David to catch up so we could run across the finish line together. We then all started to sprint and David took off and creamed us, then came Diego, then me, and then Edgar. We finished in around 2 hours and 13 minutes. We then waited in a gigantic line for our “free” t shirts,” at which point in time I learned that “agua” means gatorade, and you have to say “agua pura” to get water.
I felt great after the race, eating my “free” banana and apple and then shaved iced with fruit.
Interesting Note: The water they gave out was in bags and you had to bite them to get the water out. They also gave out water with miel (honey) at around kilometer 5 to recharge the sugars. They did not bring in any extra port a potties or anything, so the line at the public restroom in which you pay 3 quetzales (38 cents) to use was excedingly long. I wore a shirt that said “por el SIDA, Educate” (Educate yourself about AIDS), and received zero comments. The kilometers were marked occasionally (at around 3, 6, 10, 12, 16, and 18). Oh, and a half marathon is 21 kilometers (or 13 miles) in case I didn’t make that clear.
Lesson Learned: Having not trained at all, if you feel like it, you can run a half marathon!