The Believer #129 – Feb/Mar 2020
week seven – 27.9
week eight – 68.4
2020 to date: 439 KM
I tend to impulsively buy myself Christmas presents around the holidays much to the chagrin of anyone and everyone who is trying to buy me a Christmas present or fill a stocking. This year was no exception when all of a sudden I decided to renew my subscription to The Believer, lapsed since 2007. Six issues delivered through my mail slot is $48 US dollars. But it’s worth it, I tell myself. Besides, although it’s now based in Las Vegas, they proudly announce that they’re printed right here in Canada. And then charge an additional $30 for shipping to Canada. US dollars. But I still tell myself that it’s worth it and then the first issue of my renewed subscription arrives through my mail slot and for the first time since, oh, probably, 2007, I read a periodical from cover to cover. And it’s great. I like the interviews with Rem Koolhaas and Jenny Slate, and especially love the article about palindromes titled “Palindromes, Palindromes, Motherfucker, What!” all which you can read online for free if you’re not willing to drop $78 USD for the in-real-life (or $18 +GST for this particular issue).
A couple days after racing First Half we flew away for a bit of a vacation to Mexico City. Eight days at 2,200 metres and my infantile stomach’s worst nightmare. So I got sick nearly immediately, then got better almost as quickly, then got sick again but exponentially worse. It was frustrating, not just because it was supposed to be a vacation but also because I was really interested in running at altitude and finding out what all the fuss was about. We arrived 7 a.m. on Wedesday and I ran Thursday morning and then Friday evening and then got violently ill and didn’t run again until Monday. Thursday’s run I got up bright an early to beat the heat and the absolutely insane traffic. I ran along Reforma, which is a major street in CDMX, to a large park that has quite the glow on Strava Heat Maps. A wrong turn from my planned route, I ended up following a couple other runners and found myself on a climb up to a castle at the top of a hill in the park that the locals like to run repeats up and down. The circuit up and down is about 1 km, with about 40 metres of elevation. It sucked. I really wanted to do it again.
On the Friday evening I set out in the dark and pouring rain to try to find what appeared to be a track about 2.5 KM to the east of where we were staying, and it was a disaster. I reached the edge of where I thought it should be, but found myself looking across six lanes of highway in the dark in the rain with no way across. Along the way I slipped and fell in a flooded street, covered on one side in muck, skinned knee, bashed elbow, absolutely miserable. I would spend the rest of the night back at our rented flat sitting on a toilet cradling a bucket in my lap. (I am currently 2.5 KG below peak marathon training weight. I do not endorse this diet plan.) It was the worst run of my running, and cannot imagine how it will ever be beaten. But it got better. Monday wasn’t great but I managed 7 KM before my stomach said, “No more.” Then Tuesday was better and I managed 11 KM and a few strides along Reforma that really gave me a taste for the elevation. Breathing is hard (and the air quality is atrocious) and I found myself out of breath pretty easily. I don’t have the best circulation anyway, but my hands were so cold and my arms went numb. It was an odd experience.
We flew home Wednesday afternoon, which mean one last run that morning, and I went for it pretty hard, repeating the route from day one but this time hitting the hill up to Chapultepec Castle five times for a 16 KM workout. Hill repeats at altitude; it was effing hard and a lot of fun. I had a great time in Mexico City and I really want to go back there again soon. I do feel a bit ripped off that I managed to get so sick and I wish that I could have done a lot more running while I was there. I got a wee taste of altitude training and I’m still curious about it. And then the day we flew home Alex Hutchinson publishes “The Skeptic’s Take on Altitude Training” in Outside and I take a deep breath and shrug.