Friday, June 20, 2014

Running in Costa Rica II: This time the Monkeys Get Me ~ A Chronicle of my Running in CR During Our June, 2014 Trip

An Early One

The 04:00 AM watch alarm goes off and several things happen at once:

1) I wake up. This is not to say that I haven't already been running for forty minutes. Just that I come to the realization that I'd better get moving in order to get back to the hotel to shower and eat before the 4:50 AM pickup for the trip up to Monte Verde.
2) I do some quick math and determine that I probably only have about a mile of my five-mile loop here at Hacienda Pinellas which surrounds the JW Marriott Guanacaste, Costa Rica. So I ought to make it. You know the loop. It's the one I ran so many times last time we were here.
3) The lightning strikes much closer. It had been all around me since I began, yet the sky right above had been clear, and the full moon had been lighting the way. Along with the distant flashes of lightning. Now it wasn't so distant. Another reason to get moving.
4) The howling starts.

Whereas last time I was fairly well spooked by this (click here for that story), this time I just think it is really cool. The low, unearthly sound gradually builds into a groundswell of noise. Think of a T-Rex stomach growl. I can't tell whether it's coming from the trees just above me, or a mile away. I only wish I could spot some - the moon is full, but the howler monkeys are staying well hidden in the trees.


A Longish One

The goal today had been 16 to 19. That's three five-mile loops, plus the distance to/from the hotel for a mile, plus whatever else. For a while there things had been going swimmingly; but my achilles began to ache as I finished my second loop. This third one has been a real struggle, and I've slowed down considerably. Spotting a dead coral snake that wasn't (it's colors were in the sequence, yellow, red, black, meaning it was a friend of Jack - a false coral snake, instead of black, red, yellow, meaning it will kill a fellow) I stopped for a long examination to give myself a much needed break.

With only a half-mile of this final loop to go, I hear some howler monkeys again. No big deal; I've been hearing them since I began at four. For some reason, this time they show themselves. The lead male - I can definitely see that he *is* a male - jumps from a tree to an electrical utility wire right above me, howling all the while. About ten of his friends are jumping around in the trees just behind him.

It was all worth struggling for.


A Short One

Only three this day - all I'd have time for. Considered taking the day off, but running's just too darn good here to miss a day.

Case in point: as soon as I started out in the rain, the sun began to rise and I saw a wonderful rainbow. As if there's another kind. Then I saw the howlers again, and once again they were in the trees and on the wires right above me, howling away. And finally I looked down and noticed the caterpillars. Hundreds of them. Maybe they come out in the rain like earthworms do in our neck of the woods.


A (little) Better One

Short on time once again, I'm trying to hoof it. The pedal is to the metal as I complete my first loop in 45 minutes. Dang. I can't seem to break that 45 / 9 mpm barrier. Maybe for the second loop?

The hurry today had to do with monkeys. Debbie and I were to drive, then walk a short distance from the JW to try to spot them where I had for the previous two mornings. Those had been at about 6:00 AM, so that was the goal hour today.

I complete my second loop in... wait for it... 44:40. Speediest run yet.


A Not So Great One

It's my final run here at Hacienda Pinellas and I had planned to do another 16-miler. The first loop was excruciatingly slow - about 49 minutes. Hey, I think, maybe I can reverse my performance from a couple days ago - run my best at the end for a change. What a concept. Too bad it didn't work. I did run a decent second loop in a bit over 45 minutes, but then I simply quit. I blame it on my achilles, but chafing and dehydrations were factors as well.

No monkey sightings. I did manage to live in order to run another day.


A Final One

I could’ve also called it a steep one – this would be my one and only run in Punta Islita, and the hills are real here. I spend most of the hour and twenty minutes being lost in the hilly darkness. I eventually get down to the beach and the town.

As it begins to get light, I’m heading back, enjoying the din of the howlers for a final day’s run.

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