38 in the Mountains

Lake Atitlan

Matt’s scenery as he ran around Lake Atitlan before dipping down to San Pedro La Laguna, a town on the lake

Being able to run is such a wonderful ability and a wonderful activity; I am so glad I can get out there and go. The endorphins must still be pumping strongly for me right now because while yesterday’s 62k (~38 mile) adventure around Lake Atitlan was an awesome experience, there was plenty of suffering to go along with the joys of running and I wasn’t quite so positive as I was getting really thirsty with the sun scorching my face and back. But it really was awesome and something I’ll remember for a long time.

Our Singaporean friend, Cloud, joined me for the adventure. He’s 22 years old and fearless, ready to take on any challenge so when I asked if he’d be interested, he quickly said sure, sounds like a good experience. I later learned he hadn’t run longer than 15k at one time in his life and we were looking at something like 60k of running with monster hills. Didn’t matter for him though and we headed out on the boat to the other side of the lake around 6am.

It was cold in the morning so we had jackets to start along with a little food. There aren’t shops to purchase Gu or gels for a long run here so I had a little bag of bread and muffins along with some old Cliff bars for my food. Cloud picked up some M&Ms. We then headed up the hill. And we climbed for nearly 15k with only a few short, flat spots along the first stretch of the run. I felt good and relaxed. It really helped having Cloud with me because he kept me from charging the hill too much and wasting too much energy.

After a little more than an hour, we decided to split as he was tiring out and I kept pulling away. I then picked up the pace more and really got into the run. I was past the big climb and up in the mountains cruising down the nicely paved highway. I would stop in little tiendas along the road to buy Gatorade or water and would eat muffins as I made my way back to San Pedro.

It was all good until I started down the last stretch which ended up being way more hilly and about 15k longer than I had thought. It also got really hot and sunny. But the people were great; I had so many locals that were cheering me on as I ran past their little towns in the mountains. I even took a quick dip in a swimming pool to cool off (only the second swimming pool I’ve seen here).

The best part was coming back to the lake and seeing the entire area from on top of the mountains. I could see all the towns I had to run through to get home and I could even see the road snaking its way down the mountain with sharp switchbacks.

In the end, it was about 38 miles and it took me 6:40. I’m not sure if this is fast or not but I don’t really care. It was a cool experience, it was the 4thlongest run I’ve ever done, and while my feet and knees hurt during the run, I feel almost completely normal and fine today. I’m thankful for having read the book Born to Runbecause it’s reminded me about how fun running is and how great it is to be able to simply go out my door and explore the world around me on foot.

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