Since my arrival, I have been looking for ways to stay active in Asunción since there is a distinct lack of public parks and plazas, (that aren’t filled with struggling indigenous protesting for land,) that are convenient for running, (I always knew I loved you, Central Park!) and since I wasn’t successful in my attempts to find a gym I really loved, (you can read about that adventure here,) it’s been a challenge to get in shape and stay motivated.
Enter: Running. Now here is an activity that for as long as I can remember I have always fought my hardest against. I can distinctly remember field hockey pre-season in high school being forced against my will to run a mile on the first day of practice and thinking I was going to die trying. Throughout my life I have had many friends who love running and who do it as a “hobby” but I just wrote them off as crazies, (though if you are interested in running, or just laughing, I highly recommend Mel’s blog about her running adventures and such – shameless plug here.)
Anyway, last Sunday I figured I would give it a shot. I was already a little bit out of context here in Asunción, so why not draw some more attention to myself in tight spandex and a sweat-absorbing t-shirt. I have to admit, I was scared sh*tless! What if I couldn’t make it past the next block? What if there’s too many people on the street, or too many potholes or cracked sidewalks to be able to continue? “To hell with them all!” I said as I bolted from the doorway!
I ran down Estados Unidos, (irony?) until I hit Mariscal Lopez, a major avenue that runs throughout the city. Then I turned right, passed Brasil and continued on to Peru, (who knew geography could be so fun!) At my Peruvian landmark, I decided to turn right and continue on for a few blocks for good measure, and to ensure there was a complete lack of oxygen to my brain. By the time my ears were pounding so hard I thought they would fall off, and my lungs were begging for air, I had already run a full 12 minutes!! For those of you who are runners, this may seem like no big deal, but trust me – this was a major accomplishment in my book! I gave myself about 5 minutes to catch my breath and for the pain to stop in my head, and I started again on a more downhill path until I reached my house, another 8 minutes away. At the end of the day, I had 20 minutes and about 2 miles of running under my belt and couldn’t have been more exhilarated!
Since that groundbreaking moment in my life, I have run another 4 times! I’m currently averaging about 3 times a week…though this is only week two… Anyway, I had a decently long run yesterday, about 27 minutes on 4 minutes off, (did I really do that??) and am getting better about wanting to strangle people who shout and whistle and honk their horns as I pass. Okay, that last part was a lie – I still want to strangle them, but I have stopped cursing them under my breath to salvage what little air there is for my lungs to breathe, though I can’t promise the next time an older man says to me, “Despacito no más”, (Just go slowly) I won’t consider slapping him.
And so it goes, my adventures of running in Asunción.