South America

South America

Race: Santiago Marathon
Date: April 7th, 2013

South America (orthographic projection).svg

Area: 17,840,000 km(6,890,000 sq mi)
Population: 387,489,196
Countries: 12

Read about the whole trip!

Chile Day 5

Race Report:

I woke early on race morning with my stomach churning. I thought that since I had dropped down to the half, that I wouldn't be. Wrong-o. I think it was a combination of not being able to officially switch to the half, not having as much time to acclimate as planed, and being in a foreign country. I had everything laid out and ready to go. Until the 26.2 with Donna, I had no technical difficulties. My garmin and i-pod were full charged. I heard that pretty much everyone in the race wears the official race shirt, but I didn't want to try anything new.

I had brought peanut butter from home for my traditional pre-race breakfast, but then couldn't find it. So I had a bowl of oatmeal instead and tried not to be too jealous of R's bacon, eggs, and pastries. After a quick pit stop back in the room, we were off.

I picked our hotel somewhat randomly, but the location was awesome. It was about 4 blocks from the entry chute. I got a little confused at the chutes and ended up in the 10k chute, but managed to extricate myself. The guard then tried to send me over to the marathon chute, but I played the clueless American and went right by him into the half area. I had expected the worst when it came to porta-potties after Rome last year. But the lines were short and they were clean. I came prepared with my own TP so all was good.

I still had half an hour before the start so I sat down on a curb to chill out. I was still super nervous and could tell my heart rate was high. It was really strange because I couldn't understand anything going on around me. The announcer was blaring and occasionally everyone broke into this cheer, "T, A, TTT, AAA, viva TA." No idea what it means but soon I was shouting along.The chute was absolutely packed and not organized by pace so the first mile was a mess. But then the road opened up into 4 lanes and we spread out.

The race is kind of a blur. I had no idea where I was going and it was so crowded that I had to watch my feet a lot to keep from stumbling. The half course ended up being totally flat, mostly on big wide boulevards. The crowd support was fairly consistent. There was water/gatorade every 5k, but I never saw any food. The race started at 9 so the sun was already fully up and it got hotter as the race went on. Luckily there were firefighters blasting us with water fairly often. At one point they aimed it directly at me and it was so powerful that I got knocked sideways!

I had been worried about the heat since not a single one of my training runs was warmed than 45, but it didn't affect me. In fact, I felt great. I ended up doing a 4 min run/ 30 sec walk ratio until mile 11 when I just ran until the end. I told myself I didn't have to push, that I was just here to finish, but it just came naturally. So when I crossed the line in 2:02 I was thrilled. So strange that in my last race where I felt like I working so, so hard, I finished almost 2 minutes slower.

After the finish there was a giant crush to get into the finish area. I was tired, hot, thirsty, and not thrilled to be shoved and smushed. I grabbed a medal, pushed my way to grab fruit from the fruit table, and water from the water table and got out. I did like that they had separate finish areas for the full, half, and 10k, so that the short distance people didn't take all the food and water.

Overall, I was really impressed with the race organization. There were 25,000 people between the 3 races, but they separated the races nicely and had plenty of resources for each. Also, the humidity and smog wasn't nearly as bad I had heard.

R and I had arranged a meeting place down the road so I made my way there. We headed back to the hotel and headed to the pool. I totally wore my medal into the pool. Is there anything better after a race than swimming and then lying in the sun with a cold Gatorade??

After a hour or so, we got dressed and headed out for a late lunch. We headed to Barrio Lastaria, a cool artsy neighborhood we walked through yesterday with lots of sidewalk restaurants. We chose, Squadritto, a cute Chilean/Italian place and promptly ordered 2 Pisco Sours, another special Chilean drink. They were STRONG, but cold and yummy. We shared an amazing giant salad to start with lettuce, spinach, kale, cucumber and avocado. Everything was so crisp and it was dressed perfectly with oil and vinegar. I got squid ink pasta filled with shrimp and topped with crab sauce. R got fillet over fried potatoes. The food was amazing and it was so nice to sit out in the sun and have a long leisurely meal.

After the pool and lunch, I was feeling recovered enough to climb to the top of Santa Lucia hill. We only went half way yesterday and wanted to see the view from the top. It was spectacular. There was less smog than yesterday, so we had a better view of the mountains. The whole city is surrounded by these absolutely massive peaks. It is strange to be standing where it is 85 and sunny and looking at snow capped mountains.

We weren't starving after our late lunch, so we stopped at a bar right by the hotel for another round of Pisco Sours and some cheese empanadas for a snack before an early bed time.

Chile Day 3: Glacier Hike and Hot Springs

Spoiler alert....... I got my full South American marathon after all!!!!!

We had booked a hot spring and glacier tour through Eco Chile for Monday. We tried to do most of this trip on our own on the cheap, but we also wanted to get put of the city and see the mountains, so we decided to splurge on one guided tour for a glacier and hot springs adventure.

Our guide, Mario, pick us up bright and early at our hotel and we headed south out of Santiago. The highway soon turned to a narrow twisting back road with a sharp drop off down to the river. The towering mountains we saw from the city we now right around us. We stopped in San Jose de Maipo, a little village, to buy lunch. We got empanadas at the bakery, water and cookies at the market, and apples and avocados at the fruit sand, before heading off again. Soon the road turned into a dirt track and we completely left all signs of civilization. We were in an SUV, but we were bouncing all over the road. There were a lot of trucks coming from the mines up in the hills, that kicked up so much dust that we couldn't see anything. This made it especially scary when we pulled out to pass them. I was pretty sure we would die either by hitting a bump and then sliding off the cliff or by hitting a truck head on. But eventually we reached the trail head in El Morado.

note the lack of roads to San Jose de Maipo and El Morado

We grabbed our packs and headed off. It was about a 5 minute walk to the ranger station where we needed to check in. I was dying. The race yesterday made me feel pretty darn good about my fitness, but the start of the hike totally made me doubt it. I was gasping and my heart was racing. I had totally under estimated the effect of the altitude. Mario went to sign us in while R and I exchanged " we are screwed" looks.

And then we were off. We could see the glacier 16 long, steep kilometers in front of us. The first section was very steep and all I could do was watch my feet and try to keep moving. I just tried to remind myself to look up occasionally and remember how completely amazing the view was. I have seen a lot of mountains in my life but these were by far the most rugged and spectacular.

After an hour we stopped for a quick break by a spring. I ate my apple, which was both huge and amazing. There is nothing like fresh local fruit. As we ate, we were approached by a group of horses. The farmers turn them out to graze all summer and fall. I fed one my apple core and made friends.

But we still had a long way to go. Luckily next section wasn't quite as steep and the footing was a little easier. An hour later we stopped for lunch by a little lake. I housed my cheese empanadas and then cut open the avocado. Holy yum. It was so flavorful and perfectly ripe. I also drained half a liter of water. It was sunny and the air was very, very dry. I worked up quite a sweat, but it dried almost instantaneously and I constantly felt thirsty.

After lunch we had only about 30 minutes until we reached the glacier, but it was steep and rocky. It was rough, but I was determined to touch that stupid glacier. And then finally we were there. It was crazy to be touching ice that is thousands of years old. We didn't linger long at the glacier because of the risk of rockslides and avalanches.

Going down was so much easier. It was a little rough on the joints, but at least I could breathe! Since I could breathe, I could also talk so I had a long conversation with Mario about Chilean history, politics and culture. And I had a lot more energy to admire the stunning scenery (and do a few cartwheels).

5 hours and 32 kilometers later we were sunburned, dirty, and back at the car. Hot springs time!! We headed even further south and east on the crazy, bump dirt path to the springs. The Baños Colina hot springs are nestled at the bottom of the San José volcano. When we got there we had a celebratory tailgate with Pisco sours, avocados, hard boiled eggs, and nuts.

The hot pools were fed by a single hot spring that fed into a pool at the top of the hill. This flowed into a pool below, which in turn fed into another pool, and so on. So the pools got cooler as you went down the hill. We started in the fourth pool and worked our way up. Omg, nothing has ever felt as good as a hot mineral bath after a half marathon and a day of hiking. It really felt like something out of a movie to be in this hot spring fed pool looking a condors sweeping over the snowy peaks of the Andes. I could have stayed there forever.

Sadly, we eventually had to head back on the bouncy road back to Santiago. I had been worried the drive back on that road in the dark, but I was so blissed out on hot springs and Pisco sours and so tired, that nothing bothered me. I ended up passing out on R's lap for most of the ride. As I was lying there I started thinking- I had done 5k on the treadmill in the gym early in the morning, then hiked 32k. That mean that I was a tiny 5k away from doing a marathon. Yes I was tired, but this was an amazing opportunity. When I would be in South America again and just need 5k to complete a marathon distance in one day? So yes, I hopped on the treadmill again when we got back to the hotel and pounded out those 3 miles.

Meeting my marathon goal after all, touching a glacier, being surrounded by the beautiful mountains all day, and finishing with hot springs and cocktails. Does life get any better??