Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thoughts On Mexico

It has been a busy time with training, family and social stuff, and work since we got back from Cabo and I've been struggling to find time to write a post about our trip to Mexico. I've had a minute here or a minute there but not enough time to really sit down and write a post worth reading. So, I've carved out a few minutes now during lunch break to get something down. I've decided to break the trip into two posts: one about running in Mexico and one as more of a general recap. I'm at work and I don't have access to any of the photos from the trip so we'll start with the post on running.
First, let me say that for those of you who haven't heard, Mexico is hot! Today's temperature there is currently 34 degrees Celsius (that's 93 for y'all down south)and 44% relative humidity. To be truthful, I'm not exactly sure what that humidity stat means but I'm pretty sure it means if you exercise in that weather you'll lose 44% of your body weight in fluids!
To contrast, today's weather in Vancouver is 18 Celsius or 64 degrees American after you do the conversion. So, yeah, a little bit different.
I ran five of the seven days we were there (including a short 45 minute scamper the afternoon we arrived) and noticed a huge difference in perceived exertion. My HR and pace stats weren't all that different (a little slower if I recall correctly. Again, data at home but I'll add to the next post) but it felt like I was grinding away to keep going.
I couldn't help but think of the ITU World Championships here in Vancouver this year and how difficult it must be to race in climate that is drastically different from what you have been training in. The weather for the ITU race here was brutally cold and wet for June (10-11 degrees and raining) and I remember seeing all sorts of athletes (mostly U-23 and juniors but some pros too) from warmer climates dropping out from the race because of the cold. I imagined what it must have been like for the Mexican triathletes coming the other way. At least in the heat I could slow down, but when it's cold and wet there's no hiding. Not to mention the fact that it's the second biggest ITU race of the year outside the Olympics. The mental and physical strength required to keep going must be incredible. I mean hey, if it's cold for Canadians, what must it feel like for someone from Mexico! It will be interesting to see how things go in Beijing, where I think the weather (heat and humidity) will be a bigger challenge than the pollution.
Keeping hydrated well was a challenge. There weren't a lot of places to get water outside of the resort restaurants and the tap water in the hotel rooms was not potable. I tried to stay topped up during the day by alternating glasses of water and mojitos and that seemed to work well! Aside from the 20-25 daily trips to the washroom.
On the run, I easily polished off a 26oz bottle on a 1 hour jog and could have done two if there had been a reliable place to refill along the route.
Cut off the road and ran on the beach a bit one day which was mega tough. Loose sand, steep canter made for a tough mile or so. The one day I ran on the beach I saw several pinkish lines left on the beach where the tide had rolled up and then receded, leaving a deposit on the sand with every incoming wave. It looked like red tide or pollution or something and it saddened me as I ran past to see that economics and human impact was starting to spoil another beautiful locale. On the way back I ran a little closer to the water and my path took me right through the 'red tide'. Looking down, I started to realize that it wasn't pollution at all, but krill, the food of baleen whales (grey whales, humpbacks etc) millions and millions of tiny, tiny little shrimp washed up on the beach. Kinda cool to see them up close after 'learning' about them on a billion Discovery Channel whale shows. Hey, I'm a nature nerd, what can I say?
I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of times I dragged myself out of bed. The Coronas on the deck in the evening probably didn't help my cause but what's a Mexican vacation without a few cervezas?
So yeah, running in Mexico was definitely different. If i had to choose, I'll take running in the rain and the cold any day. At least you can bundle up. My hat goes off to you guys who train in that kind of heat all the time. Hard-Core! That said, there's something really cool and adventurous about running to the gate of your resort, looking left, looking right, not knowing where either direction will take you, and then taking off down a dirt road into the desert.

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