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Date : 22nd September, 2016
Time : 59’ 18” (the knees, the knees)
Total distance run to date : 850 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1382864541
It’s not much fun when your knees aren’t working. There’s so much you can’t do.
My suitcase was only a couple of feet away. But it was on the floor and I was standing up. And I just couldn’t work out how to get down to it.
Normally, if I’ve got knee problems, I flop on the bed and sort of roll or pull myself to where I need to be. But Luke, the ever patient travel agent, had booked me into an apartment complex. It was cheap, but also split level, and the bed was on the top floor – up 15 agonising steps – and the suitcase was on the ground floor.
The problem started the day before in Montevideo. After I’d finished my run in the morning, I’d spent much of the rest of the day walking around Montevideo and, by the time I got back on the ferry to Buenos Aires, my knees were properly on fire.
By the next morning they were locked in position and even the no-knee-flex, old man shuffle was proving pretty difficult.
A few hours in economy, and the subsequent taxi ride from the airport, hadn’t improved things. And now I wasn’t sure how I was going to get changed into my running gear.
Eventually, I worked out that I could flop face first onto the low lying, no-arm-rests sofa in the corner. From there I manoeuvred myself nearer my bag and manually hauled my knees into a bent position. Slowly, very slowly, I got changed and finally even got my running shoes and socks on. Time to sit back exhausted – but pleased with myself.
Just one small problem. I couldn’t get back up…
Hmm…I was going to have to flop onto the floor and try to push myself up…this isn’t easy – or quick – when there’s nothing to pull yourself up with and your knees aren’t helping ..
Half an hour after I started changing, I managed to walk, stiff legged, out of the apartment and onto the Santiago streets.
I remember my Dad going to Santiago on a WHO Mission and, mostly, really liking it. I say ‘mostly’ because, at the time, the economy was suffering, there was a lot of political unrest and demonstrations were commonplace. He got caught on the outskirts of one of the demonstrations as the security forces responded with tear gas and water cannon trucks. Never pleasant.
Eventually the then socialist President, Salvador Allende, was displaced by a military coup and General Augusto Pinochet took power. Ushering in a brutal regime responsible for numerous human rights violations. The US ‘helped’ the coup and Allende become something of a cause celebre amongst those who felt the US was interfering unacceptably in Latin America.
The economy and political situation are now stable and Chile leads Latin America in most economic indicators. And when I stepped out into the local green space, I could see why my Dad liked it. There’s a nice mix of green space and quality architecture and glimpses of the Andes round every corner. As my Dad put it, you could go a few miles east and ski in the Andes. A few miles to the west and you’re on the beach.
For Chile is a long thin strip of land that runs along the west coast of South America. Extraordinarily it is 4 300 km from north to south but only 350 km wide at its widest point. And despite being on the west coast, Santiago is to the east of New York. (Check the map if you don’t believe me!)
Back to the run. It was a beautifully warm evening and every blade of grass was covered with canoodling couples. The only fly in the ointment was that my legs didn’t really want to move and they certainly didn’t want to run.
I won’t bore you with the detail of the run. It was a slow, horrible grind. The highlight was meeting two women from Hamilton, New Zealand at a red light – which gave me the excuse to chat and rest for couple of minutes. (One of whom is pictured above – let me know if you recognise her).
In the end, I was pathetically grateful to finish the 10 km. Now all I had to do was get back to my apartment, climb up those stairs to the shower and get changed again…