MCM Week 2 – Running Far From Home

*My apologies for the lack of pictures this week.  My internet here is arguing with my computer*


This is my second post from my home away from home in Costa Rica.  Running in rural Costa Rica continues to be both amazing and incredibly challenging.  It isn’t that the weather is so radically different than the weather at home – it’t hot and humid – but there is something about this near-equator sun that makes the heat just stick to your bones.  It doesn’t help that after a hot run you can’t walk into an air conditioned house and feel instant relief.  My most common mode of cooling off is to rip off the running clothes and jump into the pool.


More serious than the physical challenges of running in Costa Rica are the mental challenges.  We know that a lot of running is a mental game we play with ourself.  Up until this last Friday I have been running alone on unfamiliar roads with unfamiliar sights.  When I’m at home training I have my routes – certain neighborhood loops (from my house around Kingstowne and back is a perfect four miles), certain trails, where I have traveled so many miles and they are so predictable that I feel like I’m at home.  There is none of that predictability here.  That isn’t to say that I’ve gotten to know the roads.  I know when I will pass the small community school, how many tiny tiendas I run passed until I get to where the crocodile tour boats launch, but there is a sense of being out of place that creates a sense of loneliness.


Monday was my first run this week after having Sunday as a rest day.  This week I was actually following the Hal Higdon week 2 marathon plan, and I had planned on heading out for five miles.  About a mile into it, I was just spent.  There was no good reason for this, and it must have been mostly that mental game.  I felt frustrated and hot and lonely, and anytime running doesn’t feel easy I get agitated and feel disappointed.  I convinced myself to go a half mile further so my run would be a solid three miles, which for me is better than nothing.


Tuesday went better than Monday.  My plan had only called for three miles, and they went much better than the three on Monday – and were finished a few minutes faster.  Then I had a few days of forced rest.  Tuesday evening the kids and I headed to a different part of the country, and given that I was now the only adult I simply couldn’t leave the kids alone to go out and run.


On Friday evening we made our way back to Tarcoles where we are staying, and my partner Sean made it down to join us.  Sean was not a runner when we met, but I’ve kind of dragged him slowly into it, and back in May he ran the Frederick Half Marathon with me.  Saturday morning I took him out for a morning run to show him around the town.  We ran a lovely five mile run down to the beach.  We took the road of the dog incident, and managed to have no dog issues, which is lovely.  It was so wonderful to have company again, and I enjoyed the renewed novelty of stopping to watch the macaws and iguanas.


My runs are really limited to two possible routes here due to the rural-ness of the town and the only big nearby road being a major highway that wouldn’t be suited for running on.  There is the town run which takes me from our small town to the next, more Nothern small town of Playa Azul.  This run is just under five miles.  The other option is the road that leads up the mountains, and while this is almost impossible to run, it goes on as long as I want it to (and I hate doing repeats, so I’d rather do this big uphill hike than run the town route twice).


Now here I sit.  It is Sunday morning and I’m slated to run nine.  I’m not convinced it’s going to happen.  Before heading to Costa Rica I had a base of about 25 miles per week, and over the last two weeks I’ve ran 11 per week.  It is less than ideal for the start of marathon training, but it is a matter of life happening.  Now it’s time to rouse my other half and see what kind of run we can bang out before headed to the beach.  Tune in next time to see if I managed to rally much enthusiasm and pound out all nine, or take some kind of cop out walk on the beach!


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