Peer Pressure

15267703_10210798921186234_466070210640050474_n.jpgWhen you move to a new place, what makes it become home? I had the good fortune of moving to Mazatlán with my two main men, and having compadres who live here that we’ve known for decades. Plus, I’d been in love with our port city for decades myself, as had Greg, so calling it home was pretty easy.

However, the key when you make a new place home is creating community, and that takes friends. Like-minded friends, differently-opinioned friends, intelligent and fun-loving friends, friends who enjoy some of the same pastimes as you. And, I believe, the older we get, the more selective about those friends we get.

Thus, I am very grateful on this Thanksgiving Day weekend for the good friends in our lives. And, I am enormously grateful as well for the “peer pressure” of living on the malecón. I’ve written before how the malecón is the world’s largest gymnasium. In the nine years we’ve lived here, Kilometro Zero, the Bosque de la Ciudad, and the malecón, have been converted into one great race, marathon and triathlon event after another. Greg and I can’t help but be susceptible to the contagion.

Tomorrow morning Greg will run the 21km in the Gran Maratón del Pacífico. I am so proud of him, recovering from his broken leg and nerve damage from two years ago. This year, as last year, I ran the 5km. The big news for me this year was two-fold: FIVE of my local girlfriends did the 5km with me! Better yet, they  brought their families! Second, despite the fact that I have a horrible head cold, and didn’t sleep well at all last night due to my coughing, I made a personal pace record this morning.

I’m slow, there is no doubt. But, hey, it’s my personal best for the 5km, despite the head cold and lack of sleep, and I’m happy about that! It was tempting at 6:30 this morning not to get up. It was tempting on the way back around the Bosque to quit, to say it wasn’t meant to be, as I couldn’t breathe. It was tempting at the 3km mark to join the 3km people. My lungs hurt, my nose was running, I kept coughing… But, I didn’t quit. I persevered. Me, who hasn’t run since being state champion in the 100 and 500 yard dash in junior high school, has started running again at 55. Woot woot. I still prefer swimming and zumba, but it’s nice to be able to run. At least a 5k.

We move to a new place in the hopes of creating a healthy and fulfilling life. I am grateful for the peer pressure I feel in this city of athletes, grateful that Mazatlán has become just such a city, and that we live in the middle of the athletic zone. I am grateful that Greg has led the way, running for so long and enjoying it so much that he eventually motivated me to start. My cousin Mary helped with that motivation, too. And, I am very grateful that I have a group of middle aged “Bellas Mazatlecas” girlfriends whose smiles light up rooms and who are healthy and motivated enough to join me in the “marathon”!

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God bless friends who love life!

Good luck tomorrow, Don Goyo! You’ll do great! Viva Mazatlán! Una meta más cumplida mis Bellas!

MZT: Center of Run for Fun

In the many years we’ve loved Mazatlán, a whole lot has changed. In the six years that we have lived here full time, one hugely noticeable difference is the focus on sports. It perhaps started with the Triathlon del Pacífico, now a hugely successful annual event.

We live on the malecón, right in front of the baseball stadium, and every weekend it seems there is at least one sporting event: a marathon, fun run, swim, bike, or mini-triathlon. Yesterday there was a big run in the Bosque/City Park. All weekend is the 4-wheeler/off-road race, Ruta PataSalada. This morning is another run in the Bosque, and, wonderfully for us, a 2 km obstacle course race on the beach in front of our house.

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Participants, as you can see in the slideshow above, had to crawl, military style, under yellow tape. In another challenge they had to climb over huge sandbags and a pile of tires. The greatest part, however, was the finish. A fun-loving group of school kids dressed as Lucha Libre wrestlers jumped on and attempted to tackle the competitors as each of them reached the finish line. Can you imagine running in the sand, navigating obstacles and when the finish line is finally in sight, a line of would be luchadores is waiting for you?  It was a total hoot as you can see in the video below:

Mexico surpassed the USA in 2013 to become the country with the highest rate of obesity in the world—33% of Mexicans are overweight. Mexico still ranks second behind the US in rates of diabetes—one in six people here have the disease, and 70,000 Mexicans a year die from it. This change in the culture of our city, to get people out and moving, and most importantly, enjoying themselves while doing it, is an enormously welcome culture change!

One frustration is that it is often hard to get good facts about events like today’s. They are advertised on the radio, in some of the fitness centers around town and sometimes mentioned in the paper. Luckily, we have two very good sources here in Mazatlan. The Mazatlan Running Group page on Facebook is a great source of information on various runs in the area. There is also an awesome blog called Carreras atléticas en Mazatlán. I do not know the writer of this blog, Xavier Padilla, but he takes a lot of time to find all of the information about running events as it becomes available here in Mazatlan. Gracias Xavier.

Greg sat out today as he is training for the 5 and 10K next weekend at the army base. We have always wanted to go to the base as it has truly unique views of Mazatlan. Greg practices running hills each week, so whatever the Mexican army has in store for him should not be too much of an issue. There is also another larger obstacle type race on April 12, the beginning of Semana Santa. This race will be in the Golden Zone at or near the paintball facility. It’s called La Carrera de la Bestia or The Run of the Beast. You can read about it on the blog in the paragraph above, but here is a picture of the course—get your reading glasses ready:

This the course for the Run of the Beast on April 12, 2014

This the course for the Run of the Beast on April 12, 2014

As you can see, it has  a pool of mud, a labyrinth, walls, a pool of ice and many more challenges. If we were not leaving town, Greg would be in this for sure. Hopefully some of you will sign up and report back—guest blog posts are welcome.

Stretch before and after, hydrate and train—see you outside!

Mazatlán: Pulsating Center of Atleticísmo

malecón aerial view

You already know how much we love living in Mazatlán, and that one of our favorite delights is living in the center of the world’s largest and most beautiful gymnasium — the malecón.

For a couple of weeks now, during our morning walks, we have been accompanied by runners we don’t see the rest of the year. We know they are people who have come to acclimate and train for the marathon. They are also loads of locals, often accompanied by their children and friends, who decide to heighten their training this time of year in order to be prepared to participate in the shorter runs or the marathon itself.

42k marathon routeToday as Danny and I were out walking I was reminded how this, the day before El Gran Maratón del Pacífico, is so incredibly delightful. The space between the Bosque de la Ciudad/City Park and the baseball stadium pulsates with music, dancing and tents filled with running gear, as busloads of runners and their families and friends arrive from every corner of Mexico and beyond. They register, take a look around, and then fan out across the city. Nearly every restaurant, coffee house or juice stand we see is filled with healthy, excited, friendly people, eager to run and test their skills along Latin America’s largest bay. It is, truly, delightful.

marathon runners ocean viewTomorrow, non-runners that we are, we will awake to the sounds of that same music, plus the sounds of cheering, as the first runners glide by the front of our home. We will make coffee, get dressed, and go out to the street to join in the cheering. People compete in the 5k, 10k, 21k half-marathon, and 42k full marathon. Festivities will continue on the malecón until about 1:00 tomorrow afternoon.

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Then, tomorrow (Saturday) night, our bay lights up with fireworks launched from FOURTEEN different, coordinated locations around our beautiful bay. And, poor us, we are, again, right in the center. Gotta love it! On our beach the fireworks have been set up and ready to go since this morning. That’s different than in prior years, when they set up on Saturday morning during the run itself.

So, athletically speaking, we’ve got:

And, of course we have the normal daily, weekly and monthly athletic events of our good city, such as

I often imagine how it feels to live in the city that hosts the Olympics. Obviously it’s not a fair comparison to these events, but I can imagine the energy, the buena vibra, the buena onda, is very similar. And here, we get to experience it at least several times each year, rather than once in a lifetime (hosting the Olympics).

Mazatlán, a working port, center of tuna and shrimp industries, famous for its beaches, banda music and sport fishing, is becoming quite the hotbed of healthy, athletic living! And we are loving every moment of it!

El Gimnasio Más Grande del Mundo/The World’s Biggest Gymnasium

Every morning we’re privileged to walk the malecón, our front yard, Mazatlán’s 10 km oceanside promenade. Sometimes we walk it again in the evening, just because it feels so good.

We expected when we first moved here to love the views, the sunsets, sunrises, watching the sailboats and the party boats, the catamarans and the parasailers, the oyster divers, shrimp boats, cruise ships, ferries, and the jet skis. The really remarkable thing to me after living here awhile, however, is realizing that the malecón has got to be the world’s largest gymnasium (and swimming pool).

The photo above left is of a few spinning bicycles, and a lady practicing yoga, in one section of the malecón. As you can see, exercising on the malecón is both an incredible audio and visual experience!

Below I list just some of the myriad exercisers and health nuts we see every day, all day long.
The people on the cement (used to be tile) walkway, including:

  • The walkers: fast and slow, limping and smooth, sometimes with a walker, in expensive sports shoes or recycled tires, wearing sweat-repellant high-tech fibers or charity duds, some in the midst of such heated conversation they fail to notice anyone else, others greeting, hugging and kissing nearly every person they meet, the guy who squeezes a ball in his hand as he walks, those who carry weights and do arm lifts as they walk, those who take a few steps and then lunge, those who walk backwards, those who listen to ipods, and those who walk dogs (or whose dogs walk them).
  • Joggers: old and young, fat and slim, jolly and focused, that guy who jogs with his arms stretched straight out in front of him, the lady who swings her arms hard enough to knock someone out, and the guys who pump their arms. There are joggers with both knees bandaged, or braces on both knees; but they are jogging.
  • The runners, and boy do some of them run, evidently from one end of the malecón to the other! Every day! Maybe more!
  • Rollerbladers: newbies, professionals, those who stumble, those who go 50 kph, those who wear pads and helmets, and mostly those who don’t.
  • Bicyclers: on antique bikes, beat-up bikes, and state-of-the-art bicycle technology, ridden by nationals and foreigners, old and young, those dressed for the Tour de France and those in flip flops and cut-off jeans, those with brakes and without :), and those who steer with their hands and those lovely young men who don’t use any hands (some who steer by weight better than others!)
  • Those who use the cement benches for sit-ups and stomach crunches.
  • Those who use the steel railings for push-ups and leg stretches.
The people on the beach, including:
  • More joggers: those who jog in the hard sand and those who really get a workout in the soft sand. And, unbelievably, those who jog backwards in the sand (thank goodness they don’t usually do this up on the malecón itself).
  • More walkers: including those who have shoes and those who go barefoot, and those who stop to collect shells.
  • And even bicyclers: yes, mostly vendors, but those who commute, too, and have much stronger thighs than I do!
  • Those practicing yoga: usually they are in a group, with bed sheets spread out over the sand. There are quite a few different groups, with various teachers, meeting in various places at different times of the day.
  • Tai C’hi: taught by our friend Rick in the Taboada on Tuesday eves and Saturday mornings.
  • Those people who wield those sticks into contortionist poses. Looks like a martial art, but I’m not sure what it is.
Sports teams: including beach volleyball, futbol soccer and futbol americano, but also teams from schools who hold gym classes on the beach.
Boot camps/training: groups of adults (lifeguards, firefighters, police) who train on the beach, performing calisthenics, playing weird games where they carry one another or crawl through each others’ legs…

 

The people in the water, including:
  • Those incredible swimmers, who swim long distances down the coast and back, alone and in groups, with wet suits and without, those who have done it for years and those who join a class to shape up or improve swim strokes. There is an official “swim club” down near the fishermen’s pangas, and anyone can go early on Saturday or Sunday for lessons, during which they teach you to swim in the ocean and learn the currents. Ocean swimming is a completely different sport than pool swimming, of course.