There are two places I run in Paraguay. One is a small loop, maybe 1500 meters, that winds through the Sajonia sports club. The route is okay, but it has so many twists, turns, and tight spaces that you can never really get rolling. It's good enough for easy days, but it's not really running.
The other place I run, my favorite place in Paraguay, is a park, Parque Carlos Antonio Lopez, that lies about a 5 minute jog from Lulu's house in Paraguay. There are two loops there. The long one is a fairly technical trail loop of about 1000m that skirts the very perimeter of the park. The short loop is a shaded paved asphalt path, a narrow road really, that makes a loop of exactly 662 meters. The loop is rolling up and down, except for one short (maybe 80 meters in length) but steep (probably 8-10% grade) hill. It's on this short loop that I do my moderate and harder workouts and tempo runs.
(Click on "Map" and change to "Satelite" for a better view.)
Yesterday I decided to do a tempo run, so I ran to the park and warmed up for 30 minutes on the outside loop, taking it easy. I decided I would do a 40 minute tempo, just going by feel, running comfortably hard. The loop is almost perfect for tempo running because the steep but short hill keeps you from getting going too fast, and of course the rest of the loop is easy running; a net downhill. It was a beautiful day, maybe 65 degrees and bright blue skies.
So I started off, and hit the first loop in 2:33, the second in 2:30, and then just settled in there, clipping off 2:30 loops, trying not to push the uphill, concentrating on running light and tall on the flats and down the hills. After I'd done about 4 loops, school must have let out because a group of teenage boys and girls were hanging out at the park, chatting, climbing trees, flirting, and smoking cigarettes. They were clustered around the road, and as I passed them a few times, they began to take notice of the guy with the blonde hair, short shorts, and skinny legs cruising along.
"¿Cuantas vueltas?" yelled out a particularly bright-eyed kid. How many laps?
"No sé," I told him and shrugged. I hadn't been counting, but I did some quick math as I cruised around the loop.
As I swung by the next time, I glanced at him, "Once," I told him. Eleven. "Cinco más." Five more.
The crowd of jovenes let out a little murmur. Of course by this time, I'd begun picking it up a bit. I had my own little cheering section. I swung around again, and headed down towards the little group. The same kid yelled out, "¿Puedo ir contigo?" Can I come with you?
So, he jumped down from the tree he was sitting in and cruised across to catch me. He was wearing jeans and indoor soccer shoes, probably around 15 years old. We ran side by side, him spitting out questions.
"¿Vos sos Paraguayo?"
"No." I said and asked him if he played soccer.
"¿Futból? No. ¡Rugby! ¿Sos futbólista?"
"No," I told him. "Soy corredor." I'm a runner.
"Ah. ¿Y, competis?"
"Claro." You bet.
We hit a little rise, about 400 meters into the loop, and he fell off. His compañeros cheered when they saw me coming around. I think my split on that loop was a little fast. "Tres más," I told them. Three more. "¡Fuerza!! ¡Dale!!" they yelled out.
And round I went. Grinning and cruising. It was a good tempo run.