Monday, July 8, 2013

Running with surfers on my left

LIMA, Peru – It is winter here, which means a series of cloudy days and temperatures in the 50s and 60s. But this morning, as I wiped the condensation from my hotel window overlooking the Pacific Ocean (see the view above), I saw a startling sight: the sun.

I quickly got out the door and headed north, knowing it was so because the ocean was on my left.

We are staying in Miraflores, a wealthy part of a city in a country that seems to get wealthier by the year. As a taxi driver told me: “The middle class in Peru is exploding.”

It certainly felt that way on the running trail high above the Pacific, built by the city to include parks, exercise stations and even fenced-in places for dogs to run. Scores of runners, bikers, walkers, and groups doing Tai Chi were everywhere (I always want to stop and look at groups doing Tai Chi – there’s something spellbinding about the concentration and deliberate movements.)

Wearing shorts and a T-short, I could see a few miles ahead of the Pacific Ocean, dotted by surfers in wet suits paddling out to catch winter waves. The path zig-zagged from the road into small parks that had sculptures and exercise benches as their centerpieces. One sculpture, called “The Embrace,” showed a larger-than-life couple intertwined. (Still, it was nowhere near as compelling to me as those doing Tai Chi.)

These fast city runs, to be honest, are usually fairly grim. Sometimes, like on a day in London recently (more on that soon), I run along a mixture of industrial parks and busy highways and wonder what am I doing here. Sometimes I take a third or fourth turn on a run and wonder if I ever will find my way back. Sometimes I stumble on curbs. Sometimes dogs bark and I jump.

Almost never is the ocean on my left, the temperature just right, and the early morning sun casting a long shadow of my silhouette, making me seem much taller (and thinner) than I am. So no wonder this is my third morning in a row running in Miraflores, cooled by seaside breezes, pretending I’m on vacation, and dreaming of the old days when I could run for hours.

Next: Chile.

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