“Running has taken me in, and continues to comfort, heal and challenge me in all kinds of magical ways. I am not a ‘good runner’ because I am me. I am a good ‘me’ because I am a runner.”— Kristin Armstrong
I was not a “good me.”
I needed a race.
I started my “slightly better than average” running career in Sonoma County, CA 2005 and had raced more than 40 times. Fast forward, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2013. Gone were the hills of Annadel State Park, Marin Headlands and Angel Island…..2000 foot ascents had been replaced by 4% incline runs on the treadmill…..in Portuguese…..in kilometers…..I spent every minute on the stupid machine, calculating in my head, kilometers to miles, 10 km divided by 1.6…..12 km divided by 1.6……
My race was chosen based on the fact I could translate the advertisement, period. 10k on a Sunday morning, I could do this. This would be the first race I ever ran with no friends as running partners, no camaraderie at the start, no hugs….just me, the gringo at the starting line….let me explain this from the beginning…..
The actual photo of the race info poster, I took at the gym
I signed up for the race online as I had so many other times except this form was in Portuguese, in Brazil, and I was my only running partner. My husband would be my driver and only fan….
Packets are always picked up 1-2 days prior to the race. Our pick-up was at a running store, nothing too different than in the US EXCEPT for the prices of shoes, shorts, etc. in the store…. I was wearing my Asics Tri Noosa Black Neon beauties which I bought for $110 USD. The price of these glow-in-the-dark amazements in the “packet pick up store” was R$499, the equivalent of $250 USD. I had on some fancy kicks!
Part of “packet pick up” is sizing up the competition, same in Brazil as in the US. We were checking out each others shoes, watches, compression socks, and Vibrams. Yes, there were Vibrams and I still think they look dorky and really, you are NOT a Tarahumara Indian, wear R$499 shoes like everyone else!
It was my turn in line. I love walking up to anyone who has to wait on me in Brazil. They all look at me like, “Oh crap, I have to wait on the German!” Everyone here assumes I am German. I think it’s because Brazilians think the US is so awesome, why would any red-blooded American come HERE?!? Luckily my Portuguese was good enough to procure my bib, SWAG, and super awesome race shirt.
Now, I must say, Brazil is an amazing country, however she is not a very organized country……I was a little worried about how this whole race was going to go “down.” Would the water stations be plentiful? Would the race make sense? Would I be able to find my way to the finish line? Would I be killed on the race? Serious “first world” worries going on!
Jeff (my amazing husband) drove me to the race that morning. Many of you know he has this “rock star parking power.” Seriously. OF course, he did not fail me. Parked right in front of the pre-race stage, score! Not sure it was a completely legal parking place, but sometimes those diplomatic license plates do have their advantages.
As in the states, all of the race clubs had tents set up to advertise and fuel their runners…I had no club….no tent to go to….just my Isagenix Oatmeal Bar, e+shot and my awesome husband. As usual, I have to use the restroom, ALWAYS a brave thing to do before a race….but wait….not here…..they designated mens and women’s port-o-potties!!! NO MORE going in after “Had-a-too-few-many-guy” or “Ate-everything-with-garlic-man.” FRESH port-o-potties…..and no line!!!!!
You would NEVER see this in the states!
After my heavenly port-o-potty adventure, we watched “stretch-and-jazzercize” for awhile and made for the start line. As we walked to the start, we noticed something…everyone was either wearing their running club shirt OR THE RACE SHIRT! There is NO wearing the RACE shirt to the RACE! That is breaking running superstition rule #1, you have to EARN the right to wear the shirt…..I was aghast…however, maybe south of the equator, the rules are different. Jeff says, “Well at least I’ll be able to see you, you’ll stand out.” Really, like I don’t already stand out…..really….
Em sua marca, prepare-se, VAI! And I was off…..47 minutes and 45 seconds later I was done. I was shooting for a sub 50 minute race. In order to qualify for “elite” running status in Brazil, females have to run a sub-50 minute 10 km. (Okay Sonoma County running friends, you can stop laughing now…..I mean it…..stop!) For a moment I thought I had placed in my age group, but alas I came in 7th in the 40-45 female division. I had a serious case of “Legend in my own mind” going on!
First race in the Southern Hemisphere, check done. Love the Brazilian spirit of sport and the happy faces after the race. Have raced again since and will continue to do so. Blessed to be strong of body and mind, blessed to have an outlet for my crazy days here in Brazil…..