What excites me most about sports in Mexico City, however, is the running. Not more than a few blocks from my house are the viveros, which is the nursery for all the plants in the city. There, in the middle of the city, is my oasis, the area's premier running ground complete with a 2 km dirt path bordering the entire park. There are meter markers, a clock with the time and temperature, and even a big sign advertising a race on Feb 15 (8 am, if anyone cares to go). You can see walkers, families with strollers, and between the trees are people picnicking, religious gatherings, and even karate (or whatever sport that is where they wave around sticks). The track itself is filled with so many runners that on the weekends one almost imagines they are in a road race, swept along with all the other runners. Truly, I have never seen a community quite like it.
Of course, I have been struggling a bit on my runs with the altitude, which is over 7,000 ft. The first time I went out I only made it about 2 miles. The next time, a little more determined, I did almost 5. But today, determined to conquer the altitude and pick up the pace, I decided to do a little AT (athletic threshold--fast running, if you will). On my second round of the park, I kicked it up a notch and was soon following a young guy. His pace was perfect--a good hard pace for me but not out of reach. Of course, noticing that he was being trailed by a girl, he felt a little competitive. The first few times he tried to surge on me, and almost got away, but I hung in there, my racing mentality creeping up. At the end of the 2k, I was breathing hard but pleased that I had done it. "Muchas gracias," I told him. And this is why, above all else in running, I love the runners. Competitive, hard working, but exceedingly nice, he turned, smiled, and we kept up a conversation until I dropped off near the clock to rest.
Of course, I do stick out as one of the few girls wearing shorts.