Monday, April 30, 2012

Worrying and Running

It is a tale of worry and struggling when you really have no control.

My Sunday 5k run really started Saturday very early morning. I went out on a run and part way through my cell phone sounds. It is Lisa, my wife calling to say she had an incredible abdominal pain and was calling a taxi to go to the emergency room. I was actually closer to the hospital than home so I ran there and met her.

She struggled out of the taxi with my help and I could see the intense pain. Inside the emergency room came the familiar whirlwind of nurses and blood pressure checks and on call doctors. Several tests later she was diagnosed to have a kidney blockage and by 7pm she was having an endoscopy procedure. It went well and they settled her into the ICU to recover. The doctor told me that she would stay at the ICU for "6-8 hours" and then be transferred to her hospital room. He told me I could check in with her about 11 the next morning.

Back at home the dogs were out of food and water and I was seriously stressed. I waffled about whether to run the race the next morning - it seemed disloyal on one hand but on the other there was little else I could do for her and it could do something for me, so in the end I decided to run.

The 5K Emelec is early in the racing season down here in Ecuador, just coming at the tail of the hot rainy season. It is the first iteration - sponsored by a local soccer team for its 83rd anniversary. By 8am it was in the low 80s with 90% humidity. Fortunately it was overcast so while it was warm it wasn't uncomfortable.

In one oddity almost everybody was wearing the race shirt during the race, so there were hundreds of runners in Emelec Blue and only a few of us who didn't get the word and were in other colors. There were LOTS of soccer fans doing their 5k to support their club.

We started just outside the main entrance of Estadio George Capwell - the club's home field - made a swift circuit around the outside streets. This is an old structure and the houses are built all around - something like Fenway Park in Boston, but less parking.

The course was table flat as it drew a figure-eight around the neighborhood's residential streets. We went from old side-streets filled with pot holes and low-slung power lines to divided streets paved with brick and shaded by leafy trees.

I felt like i was on a strong pace but for some reason the numbers don't connect with me. At the 1km mark my Garmin says I have only gone .6x - it's a new 310x, an upgrade for me, but it seems I haven't figured out something so I decided I was on my own for pacing.

I keep going and about halfway between km 3 and 4 the Garmin Vibrates to tell me the second mile was over.

Miles? I have been thinking kilometers all morning and the Garmin is set on miles.

Duh. it is working fine. The operator is working on old brain cells.

The last section of the course is on a major road with lots of police on duty. We sweep past a long park and the stadium looms in sight. It looks a hundred yards away but it still is half a mile. I pick up the pace as I chug by legions of the soccer fans who've found their early pace to much and are now walking or jogging very slow, while on the side three young gentlemen have stopped to console their fellow who cannot keep the previous night's beer down.

I finish in an unofficial 33:16, up-the-river-barge slow for many here but I am pleased considering I am just starting the year's training and the heat. I hope to break 29 minutes for the 5k as one of my goals this year and after this I am confident I can.

Then back to life. Home to a shower and a few quick household chores before going to the hospital for my ration of a 30 minute visit with my wife. She is responding slowly and now the doctor's think she will be in the ICU for 2-3 days. So after dealing with the business office and a thousand details I am now sitting at a restaurant and catching up on my life before I can go back at 3pm for another 30 minute visit.

So for a few minutes on Sunday morning I felt like I was in control of my destiny, hoping that some measure of comforting control could transfer over to the rest of my ife.

We will all get there, just sometimes slower than what we would wish for.

Run safe, run strong.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Writer-Teacher - Argh!

Being a full-time-and-a-half teacher plus a writer really makes life difficult, especially when you are coming up on midterms like I  am. It makes time management so important.

There are times I feel I am losing the time battle.

Yesterday (Tuesday) stands as a perfect example. I was up at 4:50 am to get some morning chores done, print a few things out I needed for school, snatch 20 minutes to write a bit on my novel-in-progress. Then it was out to catch my expreso (employee bus) at 6:30 to take me to school. Classes kicked off at 7:15a.m and ended at 2:30. After that, I had an additional class I am teaching for my International Baccalaureate students so they can prepare for their November exams. At 4:00 pm I was finally done at my school, but not for the day.

I grabbed a bus to take me to the nearest mall, where I slummed at the food court and graded papers, catching another 15 minutes to write a few words on my novel. At 6:00pm I was headed to the college where I teach a night class. After doing some prep work I did my teaching thing again until 8:30. At 9:30 I was finally home. I grabbed a snack and spent a little more time on the computer getting things ready for Wednesday's classes.

So today I am a tired puppy. I still have everything else to do except the extra after school class, so at least today I have a bit more time to update my blogs, and do a bit more work on my novel.

I expect at this rate I'll get this thing done in about 2015.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

World Cup Final

Spent my afternoon at Wingers in Guayaquil, a sports bar down here in Ecuador owned and run by a gringo like me. Downstairs were the Spanish expat supporters and upstairs were the Netherlands expats. Since one of my fellow teachers is Dutch, we joined her.

Good food, and it was as much fun watching the fans of the two countries as watching the game. Pics to come.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Eventful Saturday

It is amazing at how much you can get done when you get down to it. Last night (Friday) I worked until midnight on my new novel I'm plotting out. At 5:30 I was back up to get things rolling, doing my morning house chores and preparing for a Saturday advanced student class I teach at my school. At 11:00 am I was done with the class and I ran some errands, then traveled to San Marino, a local mall, to sit at TGI Friday's and watch the World Cup match between Uruguay and Germany. Right now it is 2nd Half and tied 2-2.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Night Class

As if my schedule isn{t hectic enough, I've started teaching a night class at Blue Hill College. The good news is it{s Latin American History, which actually dovetails nicely with my history classes in the high school where I teach as well as the research I am doing for my book. Still, those extra hours pile up. I'm already starting to drag from the extra workload, and it{s getting tougher to find time for writing activities.

I{ll be soooooooo happy when my wife (who is on a trip to Las Vegas) comes hme Wednesday evening.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Well, sometimes you're the windshield, and sometimes you're the bug.

I've been toiling on a rewrite of an early novel of mine, trying to resurrect it. I've figured out why it doesn't work: I don't have enough research behind me to make it seem real. I need to go back and do more research, then come back and rework the novel to make it go.


The good news is that it is not time waisted. At least I know why it doesn't work. The trouble is the fix is going to take a lot more than I thought it would. The additional problem is since for the present I am living in Ecuador it makes researching things in the United States and Europe a little difficult.

Windshield wipers please, clean up the bugs.

The last two years I have been researching down here in Latin America for a book I'd planned that revolves around the Spanish conquest of the Incas. I had planned a final research trip to Cajamarca (Peru) in August to complete my preliminaries for the book, so I am changing gears. I'm putting the under construction novels in the drawer for awhile. I'm instead starting to do some detailed plotting and character development on my new novel. It has a working title of  "To the River Stained with Blood" which is taken from part of a quote attributed to the Huancavilca cacique Guayas just before he died.