Monday, April 22, 2019

PERU!!! Just our time in Cuzco for now

My co-worker Lexi and I returned from Peru last night, from what was a crazy whirlwind trip that has me dying to go back to South America already, for a much longer stay.

I'm not really sure why we choose Peru for spring break in the first place, but one week isn't nearly enough time to visit such a magical, colorful, beautiful country, so I regret not planning this trip for summer. However, we also bought tickets and purchased a trek before I knew I was pregnant, and I'm not sure hiking 45ish miles through the Andes at 6.5 months pregnant would have been possible, so perhaps it was the best of all both possibilities. 

I knew we were in for a treat on the plane ride from Lima to Cuzco. Looking out the window was as magical as any movie as we floated very close to rough mountains and deep valleys covered in glorious looking groads. I was pining to bring my VR to Peru next time to ride every single dirt road I saw, eating empanadas along the way... next time.

Outside the Airbnb, can you see all the stairs behind us??
I'm not entirely sure how to write this blog post since there is so much to say and so many pictures to share. I think I'll split the trip into two recaps: Our time in Cuzco, the first two days of the trip, followed by our trek to Machu Picchu.

Highlights of our time in Cuzco:

Lexi and I had 1.5 days in Cuzco before the trek, which means only a day and a half to acclimate to the altitude. Cuzco sits at 11,000ft above sea level, high enough that it's not unheard of for people to get off the plane and instantly get altitude sickness. We were both worried about that possibility when our plane landed, but fortunately enough our first 2 days were great and neither of us suffered much more than being short of breath walking up the 1,000 stairs to our Airbnb.

We landed around noon, so after we checked in we headed right out to see the town, eat lunch and try to outsmart the red-eye flight jetlag. We stopped at the first restaurant we saw, CJ's Cafe, since the menu looked good/ the prices reasonable and Lexi ate the most amazing looking Lomo Saltado sandwich (while I was lame and ate leftovers from the day before in LA). Best looking sandwich ever >>

Then we proceeded to walk ALL OVER the Plaza de Armas area, covering as many of the little streets and ducking into as many little gift shops as we could.
So many bright things!!

Each alley way in Cuzco leads to a beautiful courtyard, and
each doorway to a burst of colorful souvenirs. I think Cuzco is the cutest town to walk around in because there is so much going on, everything is bright and beautiful and there is so much to see. Literally every shop owner is bugging you to buy their goods, including restaurants and massage parlors, and it took me a little while to learn to ignore them instead of always trying to be polite and say no thanks.
An adorable courtyard we accidentally stumbled upon
 by literally just peeking into every doorway we passed.  

We were both pretty stoked to be in Peru, which helped with fighting the jetlag. 

 The main plaza is surrounded by the most adorable buildings with colorful balconys and all the streets are cobble stone. Our tour guide told us later in the week that many of the stones in the square were thrown down at the Spanish by the Incas when they were defending their settlement up the hill, Seqsaywhaman.

I especially liked the marketing on the cigarette packages. I guess in other countries they are actually trying to stop people from smoking! Candy packaging also has a sticker on it that says 'High in sugar, don't consume in excess' which is pretty great I think!

 During our exploring I definitely looked like an out of place tourist, while Lexi spoke perfect Spanish with everyone which made me jealous/grateful to have to best travel buddy ever for this trip! I guess we both looked tourist enough though, that two women dressed in traditional garb threw a baby llama into our arms, then let us take pictures, just to demand an exorbitant price for said pictures. In a fluster we (read I) didn't use my noggin and gave them an insane amount of money on accident... and once re realized that our combined payment was unreasonably high they were gone. Initially I thought 'oh well, I'm helping them support their families' but later I felt guilty for thinking this because it feels a bit like some white tourist savior BS and now I'm just confused. In any case, we were much more wary of tourist traps in the future, because even the adorably traditionally dressed little ladies are savvy as all get out.

Dinner on day 1 was the stuff of my dreams, we found an little shop with every type of empanada you can imagine and split a few of them (after I briefly and traumatically got locked in the bathroom).

View of the plaza from our Airbnb

On day 2 we planned to do a little hiking to test out our sea level legs and see some sights above town. Menso the Great told me that we could take a taxi up the hill and hike down through three different ruins ending in town, but after a confusing discussion with our airbnb host we decided to just hoof it up ourselves, no taxi necessary. Our hike took us first to a very cute church on the hill that was in the middle of their Palms Sunday service. Since we were being stalked by a questionable resident (who mostly wanted us to pay him to be a tour guide but didn't understand personal space) we ducked into the church and got a little religion. It was actually pretty cool even though I didn't understand much of what was going on.

After church we continued up the hill to Seqsaywhaman, which is basically pronounced as 'sexy woman', which is a crazy impressive Inca settlement sitting high above Cuzco. We opted not to pay to get in for an official tour, but I kinda regret that now, if you go don't skip the tour. We did accidentally end up in the seqsaywhaman grounds twice, so we got to see some of the ruins and they were really cool.

From there we continued to the Christo Blanco that you see on top of the hill from Cuzco, where we broke bread (read: ate a pastry we saved from the night before) and took in the crazy good view of Cuzco. There was a parade happening down in the main plaza and we could hear the music and see the procession from way up above.

We took a shortcut down a crazy set of stairs back into town and then devoured another Lomo Saltado sandwhich and the best fries of my life (apparently Peru has 3,000 varieties of potatoes and they found the perfect ones for fries). Then we explored some more, ate ice cream on the square and wandered through the San Pedro market, which we found by accident while lost looking for San Francisco Square.

Lots of fun things to see and eat at the market, like cookies, more cookies, cheese and guinea pigs. 
And then we went to the orientation for our trek, where I got crazy nervous and basically had a panic attack because I didn't know if I could handle the whole week of hiking at elevation. More on that soon plus all the prettiest pictures!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Maybe It's Really Time to Calm Down Now

On pregnancy and endurance sports, oh how I wish they went together. But I'm afraid it's really, really time to put a limit on my athletic adventures and focus on taking care of this fetus.

The problem with feeling really freaking good during the second trimester is that I'm tempted to go out and ride more and harder than what is recommended. On Friday night I made the last minute decision to participate in the NonDot GranFundo, a fun group fondo style ride on mountain bikes. With basically no knowledge of the course I signed up for the 50k route and drug my butt out of bed before the sun was up to go play bikes.

Well it turns out if you want to ride 35 miles in Santiago Oaks you are going to have to climb 7,000ft... Oofa that's a LOT of elevation for such a short ride! I tried to pace myself well for the baby's sake, but honestly I probably went too hard on the first lap, and was feeling pretty darn hot and tired on the second. Knowing I could just short cut out if I wanted at any point I cautiously rode the second lap at a much more conservative pace, and finished feeling really good and HUNGRY!
TRYING not to accidentally ride race pace hahaha
The course consisted of literally every trail in Santiago Oaks part, and we one of the more challenging things I've ever done because like I mentioned before, 7,000ft in 35 miles. Every climb in the Oaks is steep, so the ascents take a lot out of you. Top that with not training and gaining a bunch of weight and oofa, it took me 6 hours!

At the end of the day I'm glad I jumped into the Fundo last minute, but for the rest of the day I had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that it had been a little too much. What if riding 6 hours was bad for the baby? I was a little out of breath on the first lap, what if that was bad for the baby? It got pretty warm out there and everything I've read says DON'T OVERHEAT yourself working out pregnant... yeah, it really started messing with my head. And to be honest I had some of the same nagging worried thoughts after the GWR ride I did three weeks ago, and after racing Sagebrush 2 weeks ago.

SO it's time to give up the long fast fun life for now. There is so much more to gain from dialing it back and enjoying the easy, short commutes while the baby finishes cooking :) We are officially halfway there, and I'm more and more excited to meet this little human every day (although to be honest it still doesn't feel real that we are making offspring!!)

And a few other pregnancy thoughts:

I'm still squeezing into XS sized cycling clothes, but pictures from the Fundo shocked me about how much wider my hips have gotten in the last 5 months! I have no idea exactly how much weight I have gained since it's healthier for me to not know and just eat when I'm hungry, but it feels like A LOT! I'm definitely not one of those skinny pregnant ladies with a cute bump!

All the things pregnant ladies are supposed to do like taking birthing class and touring the hospital and all.... oops. I've been putting it all off because it doesn't feel real yet, but knowing we are halfway is kinda terrifying. We have 20 weeks to get ready - next week because...
On Friday my co-worker Alexis and I fly to Peru for spring break, a trip we planned before I found out about the baby. I'm kinda nervous about going somewhere with such bad water and crazy altitude, but also so excited to see Manchu Picchu.  When we bought the plane tickets I was so excited to be traveling for fun without a bike... now I just hope I can survive the altitude and not get sick :) Wish us luck!!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Baby's First Bike Race

This past Saturday I did something that was probably a little risky and def not approved by my doctor, I participated in a bicycle race! To be honest this was nothing like racing a bike, more like riding the course at a relatively chill pace with a bunch of wackos who were actually racing. And to be extra honest I FREAKING LOVED IT. 

This was actually my first race since La Ruta, and I didn't realize how much I love bike racing until not getting to do it for a while. Although I wasn't trying to place, I still had loads of fun crushing climbs and shredding descents (at a reasonably safe pace) with a bunch of rad people. 
And the best part is that I think I could learn something from this racing bikes pregnant thing. Here is a quick recap of the day and what I learned.

Sagebrush Safari is a pretty awesome, semi local race down in Campo, CA, really close to the Mexico boarder. We drove down Friday night and slept in the van at the venue so we could sleep in on Saturday morning :)

The course for Sagebrush is CRAZY fun. No lie I would call this the best mtb race in SoCal based on course alone. Every descent is out of this world fun, so fun that I convinced Brendan to come and shuttle the descents while I raced so he could experience them. We did a little pre-ride of the final descent right before my race which left me wondering: What happens to my baby if it experiences extreme amounts of stoke enutero? 

Standing on a start line not caring at all how you will place is kinda a cool feeling, not going to lie. But there was part of me grieving the fact that having done ZERO intervals or real workouts since Nov meant I didn't stand a chance to keep up with Leslie Patterson, this world champ Xterra racer who showed up this year.                                                                   After the start, when all the racers were still together rolling up the initial 2,000ft climb I couldn't resist the urge to ride to the front and taunt the guys that a pregnant lady was beating them. Then I quickly fell back in 'pace yourself you can't get out of breath' mode. 
That 5 second period of time when a pregnant lady was winning the Sagebrush Safari ahahaha
The initial climb felt long at a conservative pace, but it eventually deposited us onto the most glorious swoopy, rocky, jumpy singletrack. I had a blast descending, and much giggling and expressions of joy led the guys around me to question my sanity. Kidding. It was fun riding mid-pack though, no one had an ego about me being in front of them and they even complimented my line choice, haha. 
The rest of the race was a much too short mix tape of patience on the climb followed by sending the down hills on repeat. Somehow I finished second to Leslie after 2.5 hours of spending all my energy holding myself back from going into the red. Considering I've never been good at pacing myself, taking the baby into consideration and knowing that letting my HR get above 140 for long was dangerous made pacing so much easier. I finished the race feeling really really good, like I could ride on forever, not the usual I'm going to die from blowing myself up in the first hour feeling! It may just take a baby holding me accountable to teach me how to pace myself and not go all out from the gun!

After the race we ate an extra large soft serve in Pine Valley, home to Nobel Canyon trail which I very much wanted to ride, but... being a good kid and not overdoing things... followed by the worlds best tacos at Tacos Libertad in San Diego.

I love bike racing. Not doing it for a while was all fine and good, till I went to a race and now I remember how much I really truly love the community and the exhilaration and sheer joy of riding bikes around in a newish place with a bunch of random people. Hopefully there is more bike racing in my future one day. For now I think that will be my last race until the baby comes, the perfect spark to keep the fire lit!