Friday, June 26, 2009

Dispatch from Paraguay #3: A Run in the Park

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?

"Vamos."

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.

4 comments:

  1. Hi Jeff-

    Google included this post in my News Alerts email today- thank you for posting this! I recently returned from Paraguay after living there for 3 months- in Sajonia, believe it or not (cerquita del InterBanco en la Avenida C.A. Lopez)! I used to run in the Parque C.A. Lopez as well and enjoyed observing the futbol matches and los viejos selling their gaseosas, helados or pipocas.

    I haven't read any of your other posts, so I don't know where else you've been running, but if you haven't ventured over there yet- Parque Ñu Guazu near the airport in Luque is another spectacular setting to run.

    I'm envious of you down there as I'm experiencing chipa and cocido withdrawals- enjoy the heat and the tereré!

    Meredith in Maine

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  2. Very nice...this I enjoyed.

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  3. Hey Meredith--I know exactly where the interbank is... pretty cool. I've definitely been enjoying the cocido as well! Thanks for writing! And yes, I know Ñu Guazu--it's pretty far to go for a run now, but I've run there a couple times on prior trips...

    Anyhow, all the best! I'll eat some chipa for ya.

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  4. ah. y competis? you bet.

    that is until we whip your skinny little butt when you get back into Vol Country. Heheee....

    Sounds like a great trip. Say hello to Lulu for me. I was pretty whipped last week. The mileage, altitude, travel, sickness and stress at work got to me a little. Top that with the hottest week yet (mid to high 90s) and I was toast. Getting back into it this week.

    Grossman had a good go at WS but after being in the top 10 most of the day, he dropped way off and finished in 22 hours or so. Hal Koerner won again. Dave Mackey, Jurek and others dropped. Top woman in 18:30s and 9th overall.

    one of my big Tahoe guys was 8th after being 2nd for several years. Hard to say if it will make him hungrier or if the heat really beat him up.

    Thorpe got a garmin so he could totally geek out. I guess it saves having to map out our runs.

    Hope all is well. Have fun and see you in a few weeks.

    JDial

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