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Frida Tacos


Frida tacos

Frida Tacos

- located at Andalucia 584 y Francisco Salazar in Quito.

Six of us from work met up for tacos and drinks on Wednesday night.  I volunteered to drive since I was the only one that had a vehicle.  Frida Tacos was the destination.  It's around 5 miles away from  the U.S. Embassy.  


Here's more info on the restaurant.   I had the Tacos al Pastor, Campechano, and some Doggerlander craft beer.  Portions were small but tasty, that's why I bought a couple entrees. There is limited sitting so large groups may have to find space where available.  We placed three bar stool tables together for our group of 6.




Covered in mud and bird poo - My car arrives safely


Rain storms came through this weekend, the first time since I arrived in Quito.  The storm clouds could be seen coming off the mountains to the east.  The cloudbursts were dramatic and amazing as I watched them roll in from the safety of my patio windows.  

As the subject line states, I was reunited with my truck on Wednesday.  I've adjusted to life without it, but it's great to have it back. Several people have offered to chauffeur me around, and I've also used cabs when needed.  But nothing can replace the freedom of getting to know the city while driving your own vehicle.  Lucia will get a nice change as well, since we can drive to distant parks instead of limiting our walks to the nearest one.

The FJ is well suited for the hilly driving in Quito. Many of the side streets have pavers vs. asphalt or concrete.  So the ride can be a little bumpy for a sedan or other low clearance vehicle.  However, there's plenty of economy sized vehicles traveling the city streets.  And the cost for imports is very high.  I've heard new vehicles can cost twice as much as you'd pay in the States or other countries, even higher if you're talking about high end luxury vehicles.

One of the first things I've had to get use to is parking in my residence's parking garage.  The height and turning radius inside the garage makes driving the FJ feel like I'm a gopher burrowing into its hole.  

Speaking of new things arriving-

Everyone told me that the speed of shipments have improved over the last few years.  Here's how my personal timeline shaped up for my vehicle (POV), unaccompanied air baggage (UAB), and household effects (HHE).  Everything was shipped from Virginia during the week of July 10.  Everything was staged in Miami, Florida for shipment to the coastal city Guayaquil, Ecuador.  From there it comes over land to the capital city.

Here's how long it took everything-

UAB - < 21 days

POV -  35 days

HHE - arrived in Guayaquil Aug-17, a week to 10 days for Customs clearance to Quito

I'm hopeful I'll see the HHE before the labor day weekend.  Fingers crossed.

Front Royal motorcycle ride

The showers of May have passed.  But by last weekend, the heat of summer had slipped into Virginia.  But not before I took my Harley 48 out Saturday morning for a long ride.  I've been wanting to see how it handles on the open road besides the 30 minute commute it takes every weekday.  It didn't disappoint.

After topping off my 2.2gal peanut gas tank, I left town on interstate 66.  It was mid morning, temps around the 80s, with a bit of wind in the air, just enough to keep me cool in my new mesh jacket and textile/mesh pants.  My destination - Front Royal, VA, about 60 miles from my starting point.  Most of it would be on 66.  

The ride on 66 was excellent.  Traffic westbound was light to medium.  The bike felt great and sounded great.  With the 48, your posture is different than if you're using ape hanger handlebars or on a crotch rocket.  The handlebar is short and straight, the seat sits low, forcing you to lean forward, and causing your boot heels to angle about 45 degrees from the road. In my opinion, the 48 is similar in looks to a bobber style bike, with the exception to the fenders, seat, smaller tank and a few other features.

Cycle styles

48 classic
Harley Davidson Sportster 48

As you can imagine, the 48 is not very comfortable for long rides.  This forced posture will take it's toll on the back and shoulders.  But for my ride, I felt fine by the time I turned off 66 and rode the rest of the 5 miles or so to Front Royal.  My gas indicator light had yet to come on, so I kept riding towards Flint Hill after passing through FR.  At 65 mi the light had yet to come on.  I pulled over to check Gas Buddy for the nearest pit stop.  FR was about 5 miles back but Flint Hill was southbound about 4 miles away.  The indicator light came on as soon as I started rolling again, so the highway miles were definitely an improvement to my city miles per gallon.  In Flint, I had used 1.4gal out of the 2.2 tank and traveling 70 miles.  So I could have pushed it for another 20 miles (90 mi total) or so before it would start to chug along.  Normally, I'm running to the gas station when it hits 60 miles with mostly city driving or I'll end up pushing the bike by the time it hits 70.  I made a mental note to get a gas canister that I could throw in my side bag for the next ride.

I made it back to Front Royal and stopped by Soul Mountain Grill & Cafe to get lunch.  Great service with a simple but pleasant atmosphere. I had a Soul Burger with a couple sides that didn't break the bank.


Soul Mountain Burger meal
Soul Mountain Burger meal

After lunch I walked around the small historic city center and checked out some of the shops.  The whole time I was in town, you could see and hear different biker groups passing through.  

FR st1

FR a2

FR park

The ride back home was just as nice except for a little congestion around the 495 beltway.  Aside from a little fatigue in the hands and my back, it was a great ride.  I'll see how I do on a longer one next time.  

Total miles round trip = 130mi


Ragnar 2014 - Washington, D.C


This is what happens when twelve people band together for two days of non-stop relay running.
We started in Cumberland, MD on Friday morning at 630am.  12 people run 3 legs each for a total of 36 legs covering 200 miles.  

My legs:

1st leg: 9.4mi (Friday late afternoon)

2nd leg: 7.8mi (Saturday early morning)

3rd leg: 4.4mi

Total for me: 21.6mi

I had never heard of Ragnar until last year when I was invited to join a team.  Unfortunately, I couldn't  since it was last minute and I had other plans.  But this year, I got a second chance when someone offered a spot to me after the original runner was injured.  

While the mileage wasn't a worry, the lack of sleep, strange diet of coffee, power gels, and energy drinks, was.  I wasn't use to running that many times within 30+ hours.

I didn't know what to expect but was looking forward to it.  My team wanted to be ready for the morning of the race, so the captain organized a road trip for the night before.  We all met up after work on Thursday at various places in VA, DC, and MD.  We had two minivans that picked up everyone and made the journey to Cumberland, MD.  We made it to an Econolodge outside the city and crashed for the night around 10pm.  

The next two days were a mix of running, cheering, sleeping, and eating at all times of the day and night.  I'll always remember the great folks I teamed and shared such a unique experience with. Each one of my runs were fantastic, from the riverside tree lined 1st leg, the spooky AM in the woods 2nd leg, to the Mt. Vernon "don't leave anything in the tank" 3rd leg.

Ragnar Finisher

Thanks everyone for asking me to join in on the fun!

Ragnar finish

a 50km journey

Dirty duds done dirt cheap
North Face Challenge -50km completed!

I had set my alarm for 4am the night before.  But nervous anticipation made it hard for me to get any sleep until after midnight.  Fortunately, I had laid out all my running gear and supplies the night before.  The only thing I needed to do in the morning was eat and get dressed.

By 5am Saturday, I'm was on the road heading to Algonkian Regional Park for the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 km trail run.  Hardly anyone was out  during the 30 min drive.  But as, I pull into Loudoun Tech Center, I notice every car in sight was pulling into the same parking lot.  It was all the 50km runners.

I took a race shuttle (school bus) and was dropped off at the starting line where the event organizers had everything setup.   It was a clearing inbetween the Potomac river and a golf course. There were booths and tents setup with everything.  They had coffee & hot chocolate to warm you up, bag check areas for dropping off after0-race supplies, packet pickups for those that still needed to pick up their racing bib number, and plenty of port-a-potties for . . porting your potty.  After taking a couple walk arounds and chatting with other runners, the only thing left to do was to start the race.

At 7am, the first wave of 50k runners took off.  I signed up with an estimated time that put me in the second wave.  But at the last minute, I dropped back to the start of the third wave.  I don't think it mattered since we caught up with the second wave after about 100yds.  

The 50mi, yes 50 mile, runners had started two hours before us.  So they were already around a 10mi mark by the time we started.  The marathon runners would start 2 hours after us.  There was also a marathon relay I hadn't heard about until I saw some of the runners after the race.  Each race  had it's own colored bib.  The 50 mile was brown, the 50 km was blue, marathon was pink, and the relay was a redish brown.

North face 50k start

My gear for the run consisted of 2-liter camelback, along with a water belt that held two 8 oz bottles, a pouch for gels/small items, and a neoprene case for my iphone.  I had a bluetooth headset for music but kept it off for the first 10mi of the race.  I mainly wanted the phone to stay in contact with B for crew support and track my run stats.  I also couldn't run the bluetooth the entire race since the phone battery wouldn't last that long.

1-3 miles - We jogged parallel to the golf course and then onto the park's trail.  I hadn't realized we'd gone past the 3mi point until someone mentioned it.  I felt like I had just started the first mile. During this time, there was a lot of single file running, as people were still trying to spread the group out. I didn't mind since it gave everyone a chance to chat a bit and get to know other runners. When the pace was too slow, there was always a spot up ahead you could pass with a little planning and a "passing on the left" verbal warning.

As I ran, I concentrated on enjoying the race and where I was at at that moment.  I didn't think about the race as a whole.   During the marathon last year, I remembered being so caught up with the finish, that when it was over, I'd wished I'd stopped and enjoyed the actual race.  My pace was relaxed but steady, around 12-13/min mile. This allowed me to rest a couple minutes at each aid station before starting again.  I treated each leg between aid stations as if it was a mini race within the race.  

It was motivating watching the runners in front of me.  I'd link up with someone that was running my pace and stay within 10-15ft of them.  And for those times I found myself alone, I'd find a good pace and just enjoy the surroundings. It's easy to only look straight ahead and miss out on all the periphery. 

3 to 5 miles - More hills were keeping people in single file along the narrow path.  There wasn't much you could do if the person at the front was walking up the hill, everyone else had to walk as well.  Mind you, these hills would wear you out fast if you tried running up every one of them, so I went with the status quo.

North face aid station
Aid station side effect - You're temporarily shrunk to one foot tall.

5 to 10 miles - This mileage is where I always feel the most relaxed.  Just warmed up enough to feel good.  And no signs of fatigue. The trail took us along the Potomac river and offered multiple views through the tree/bush line. 

11 to 13 miles - The Great Falls visitor's center was the only spot where runner's friends/family could wait and watch the race.  It's located at mile marker 13 and also mile marker 19.  So spectators could get a chance to see the runners on their way back after reaching the turnaround spot near mile 16.

Normally, this is the distance I start to feel a little lactic acid buildup in my calves.  But at the advice of another ultra runner I know, I bought some salt capsules and an endurance powder (EFS) for making your own sport drink.  My camelback was full of EFS.  I started with one salt capsule after the first hour and second hour. Then I doubled up on the capsules and took 2 each hour after that.  I stopped taking them when I reached a total of eight.  Recommended max amount for a day was ten.

When I met up with B at the visitor's center (13mi), she said I looked much better than I had during the Marine Corp marathon.  I felt much better as well.  After a few minutes of resting and chatting, I topped off my liquids, grabbed a few power gels, and hit the trail again.

13-16 miles - The terrain in Great Falls park turned into rocky trails that rised up and drop down quickly.  I wore my headset to help pass the time and take my mind off the relentless climbing, both up and down.  I was surprised when I looked up to see a couple North Face crew members stopping runners at the turn around point.  I hadn't realize I had reached the turn around and would have trotted by it otherwise.  I felt good still except for a little tired with all the climbing.

16-19 miles - I'd expected the same terrain as I had just passed through, but the trail took a turn into more woods and bigger rocks.  Eventually, I passed by more weekend sightseers and rock climbers, as I made my way through larger and larger rocks.  At mile 19, I came back through the visitor's center again and met up with B for the 2nd time.  She said I still looked good and asked how I felt.  I said great.  No cramps yet, everything seemed to be helping.  I ditched my water belt and just grabbed a gatorade bottle instead.  I kept the camelback though. The weigh of the belt wasn't bad, but it wasn't needed as much as I'd thought it would be.  At the start, I had noticed everyone else was going with either a camelback or a belt, but not both.  Next time, I'll just stick with the camelback and a small bottle I could ditch if needed.

B headed out to grab some lunch and do some errands at this point, since she wouldn't be able to see me till the finish anyway.  I had 12 plus miles to go.  I'd send her texts with updates at every aid station so she'd know how close I was to the finish.

20-26 miles - After 20 miles, I remembered I'd be hitting a marathon distance at 26.2.  The feeling I had at mile 20 during my last marathon was no way close to what I felt like now.  I had struggled with cramping during the marathon just to finish the last 6 miles.  Now I was noticing other runners stopping to stretch and complaining about it at aid stations.  I probably sounded like a zealot when I offered advice on what they needed to drink, eat, do.  But it was working for me and I had to share.

The aid station right after 26 miles was the second to last one.  So I hung out a few minutes to watch the other runners and enjoy the food.  All the aid stations had a great variety of things to grab and go.  Everything from oranges, bananas, pretzels, cooked potatoes, m&ms, chicken broth, power shots, blocs, electrolytes, water, soda, and more. 

(note: Now that I've had a chance to compare this to other 50km races, the North Face organizers really made sure runners had plenty of aid stations.  From what I've seen from other 50km reports, you can run rougher trails with as much as 8mi legs between stations.  So if you're looking for a good beginner 50km this one would be good as long as you don't mind some elevation and lots of hills)

27-31.1 miles - The last few miles to the finish line were bittersweet.  Sad to see the race come to an end but happy to know I was going to finish it.  While I was at the end of the pack for my age group, I ended the race knowing I would already be signing up for another one soon!

  North face 50k finish

(B made it to the end ahead of me and captured my finish on video.  Yay! Support crew!)