Friday, July 21, 2017

Chifrijo Land Shark: Married Man Seeks Spotted Rooster

Costa FREAKIN' Rica - this is where my mid-July half-marathon training took place. Never did I think, when I started running again one year ago July 16th, I would be going "on location" to run.


"Spotted rooster" or Gallo Pinto

Casado or "married man"

Well, it wasn't about running, it was a family vacation - BUT STILL - with the half marathon in September inching closer, what better way to break up the monotony of running in and around Central Ohio then to visit a rainforested Central American country with coastlines on the Caribbean and Pacific. From July 15th thru July 22nd, I was in paradise and even put in some miles (key word: some).

The fateful random message which began my
running re-evolution.
All of this began July 16th, 2016 with a text message from Mark, a high school friend & cross country and track teammate. He was putting together a team for the inaugural The Buck Fifty 150 Mile Team Relay which took place last April in our hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio. I gave myself a hard running start date of August 1st and have been running five times a week since.

Once we completed The Buck Fifty (we finished 19th out of 38 teams), I continued the running thing because one can't just build up then simply bottom out. I have a competitive nature, I couldn't allow myself to do that. Now I've completed nearly an entire year with plans to continue on and found myself in Central America on vacation...and still running.

Las Catalinas, Costa Rica is just like Marion, Ohio - that is if Marion were tropical, closer to the Equator, mountainous and bordered by the blue/green, warm and salty entity called the Pacific Ocean. In Marion, it would take 8 to 10 days to reach 1,000 feet of total elevation with whatever routes you selected. The first full day in Las Catalinas and a 4 1/2 mile run along the beaches & mountain bike trails generated nearly 800 feet of climbing. Needless to say I ran shorter routes at a slower pace because I didn't want to spontaneously combust from the humidity and, too, I was on vacation. I'm not one who sweats profusely, but when finished I looked like I had just climbed out of the ocean and my body continued to secrete sweat - a human sieve.

Our resort, surrounded by the killer hills
All totaled, I covered over 2,300 feet of elevation with just four short jaunts in Costa Rica. It did get hot technically, but the humidity was the killer. Each morning, everything had a nice film of moisture on it. You began sweating instantaneously and slid on any and all hard surfaces. Our villa had three stories with the community area & deck on the second floor and my bathroom on the top floor. So climbing stairs all week, along with running what resembled dry creek beds, left the legs weary and sore. I'm not complaining, but it was obvious I wasn't in Ohio any more.

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The food, wow the food. I ate so much, though in retrospect in was a good thing. The energy was needed for the browsing along the mountain bike/hiking trails of which I covered in some portion every day. Any and all intake was quickly extinguished through seemingly simple activity. Simple, that is, for folks used to escalator-like terrain. Not so simple for we Midwest flatlanders. Breakfasts of eggs, beans & rice, fresh fruit, queso, corn tortillas and salsa were scarfed to the point of bursting. You laugh, but an hour later you were starving again. The human energy draining Central American atmosphere can cause one to question their sanity (or if you are like me, question whether you want to actually return to the landlocked Buckeye State...damn, I "lost" my passport).

Dinner on the beach view
Road running is not ideal here, most trips (navigated by hotel/resort employees) were along pot holed, mock roads which would destroy suspensions in any make or model of vehicle. Riding in these vehicles wore you out just as much as physical activity would. That doesn't mean you couldn't run on these roads, but doing it frequently means you have no regard for your personal well-being and don't value human life. Getting lost in the jungle on what used to be a trail and avoiding the country's twelve species of venomous snakes and clans of howler monkeys were more my cup of tea.

If anything, you cannot beat the beauty of the ocean, sky and sunset here. Every halfway decent picture looks like a painting or some graphic design mock-up. It is way to easy to be as lazy as humanly possible and just sit, stare and people watch all day. Oh, and since Costa Rica does not observe daylight savings, sunrise is at 5 a.m. and it disappears not too long after 7 p.m. - it is going to be a pain in the rear when I return to the states. Missing the silky, black, volcanic sand beaches and sunbathing, rooftop iguanas are another thing.

Using the nieces & nephew as photo props
Boogie boarding was ideal the last couple of days with the crazy surf, but not without some mixed results. My brother needed a doctor's opinion regarding a large thigh bruise sustained when hurdled into a some tree limbs high on the beach (the surf was wild and sometimes violent). He was diagnosed with a hematoma. If you know us at all, this is a normal away from home occurrence. A needle the size of a sabre filled with super fun stuff later and everything was back in times we have.

There have been an enormous amount of changes since running came back to bite me - it continues to nibble. And if you knew me this time last year, you would be blown away by the level of personal growth, not to mention relationship upheaval and improvement. The running thing has allowed for more clear thinking and the tucking away of (for the most part) negative thoughts and mindset.

I've met new people, have more activities to do, go places more often and I'm enjoying myself more. And I've met (actually, I was tracked down by) a like mind who knows exactly where I'm coming from...and its made for a rather exciting past couple of weeks (and hopefully much longer).

What the future entails, I don't know but I'm eager for whatever is in's gonna be bright.

I wanted to live, so I pretended to die.
I had to shut down cash out and get buried alive.
Out of the black and into the daylight
You had to dig me out, dust me off and pull me off the cross and
Break me back open, break me back open, look inside
Break me back open, break me back open, shine a light,
It's gonna be bright

It's gonna get loud (it's gonna get loud, it's gonna get loud)
It's gonna get heavy (it's gonna get loud, it's gonna get heavy)
I wanna to kiss the ground and lay down the gospel according to St. me
I'm out of the vault (out of the vault, out of the vault)
Where no one can fault me (out of the vault, where no one can fault me)

I'm not a black box fort knox time to change the locks
And break me back open, break me back open look inside
You've got to break me back open, break me back open and shield your eyes
Yeah when you kick the door open, kick it wide open,

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