What Will You Do? Run A Marathon in the Desert


I think one of the things that most potential retirees struggle with – or at least ponder a lot – is what to do with one’s self once they’ve gained an additional 40+ hours/week to fill?  Luckily for me, I am able to ‘practice’ retirement pretty often, as a result of my unique work schedule, as I have discussed before here.

When I started on this journey in 2016, my intention was to purchase my home in Mexico with cash and to have my basic cost of living covered by the rental income earned from that home.  From there, I would be free to explore new and interesting things as I please, some of which would inevitably earn me money, but the pressure to earn for the sake of paying my bills would be largely absent.

That is still the big idea, however I have taken a little longer to get there than I intended originally.  Also, in the meantime, I have decided that it would be worthwhile to save enough to pay cash to build a whole other level on my house, affording me a little more space than a bachelor suite in the future and, in the meantime, would allow me more rental income and overall versatility.  My biggest challenge now is finding the balance between making the most of a unique and relatively lucrative work situation that still affords me the schedule to be able to reside virtually anywhere and having ‘enough’ of a seed to be able to set myself free of work for work’s sake, as I originally set out to do almost two years ago.

There’s other things I had in mind during that time of transition for how I would spend my time.  Besides surfing, I wanted to make Triathlons and the associated training a fairly central part of my life.  In particular, I would love to try an XTerra Off-road Triathlon, a series of races around the world that feature a trail-run and a mountain bike segment, rather than the classic pavement run and bike of a ‘normal’ triathlon.  This would be a great way to work fitness, travel and adventure all together in one, and perhaps force me to take a much needed trip for reasons other than surfing.

However, with work lingering longer than planned, it seemed that all of the opportunities I would have to complete an XTerra event in the past couple of years were thwarted by scheduling issues.  When you combine this with a tight budget and a lack of storage, it became easy to continue to put off buying a bike and, thus, put off committing to and completing a race.  That looks to be finally changing, as I am pretty sure that the dates for either XTerra Costa Rica or XTerra Mexico should work out in 2019, which means I need to start thinking about getting a bike and starting to practice and train ASAP.

This is Balandra Bay, near La Paz, BCS, Mexico.  Although about an hour’s drive from my house, this is one of the most likely places I would be able to complete some good swimming training in the future.  To save on commuting costs, I picture myself coming for two nights every week or so in order to swim twice, and maybe run or bike the day in between.  As you can see, it is not a hell on earth.

However, with March of next year still being the earliest date that I can possibly complete one of these races, it continued to feel like I was just simply putting things off.  And then I remembered about a race that a couple friends of mine completed last year close to home.  It is a 35 km trail run in the Baja California Sur Desert, from La Paz over the mountains to the Sea of Cortez.  There is a 62 km version they have added this year, but luckily for me they have made it only available to those who completed the 35 km race last year within a certain time.

A photo I took in amongst these same Sierras while hiking to the top of El Picacho, the highest point in Baja California Sur.  We did 28 km and gained (and then lost) about 1000 m of elevation in over 13 hours of hiking.  The Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to it’s unique biodiversity of plant and animal life.  Completing this hike has given me confidence that I should be able the Don Diablo trail run, and I am looking forward to the vistas!

Of the three parts of a Triathlon, running is probably the one I enjoy the least.  However, it is also probably the one I am most practiced for, and most able to begin training for immediately.  The theory is that if I can complete this race, the 10 km trail-run during a Triathlon will not seem so onerous when the time comes as, after all, it’s all relative.  And as with many things, the real power is in the doing of the thing, so it’s not so important at this point, almost 2 years from the last time I completed a race (and just over two years since the first time I completed a race!), to just have signed up and ‘force’ myself to get ready, like I did in the summer of 2016 with my first races, the rewards of which were great and many.

I plan to run essentially every 2-3 days between now and the time of the race, obviously putting an emphasis on practicing in the desert when I can.  Unfortunately at work I am mostly constrained to training on a treadmill, but at least there’s that.  This should allow me to get up to volume with less risk of injury, perhaps.*  When you combine this with surfing, writing, photography, swimming, mountain biking and all the other things I still would like to explore in the Baja like Spearfishing, there seems to me to be no shortage of things to fill my time with.  In fact, I only wish I found myself with even more of it to fill.

Soon, young grasshopper.  Soon.

A sunset view of the Sea of Cortez, one of the areas most rich in marine life in the entire world.  Although it is not known for its cool waters, I am sure a plunge into it will be a great reward having reached it after a long run over the mountains.


*The truth is I don’t know a hell of a lot about running and training for such events (or much really), but as with anything, I am sure to learn a lot along the way.

6 thoughts on “What Will You Do? Run A Marathon in the Desert

  1. Matthew Inman

    Giddy Up! Just found your blog and really like your writing style and posts, keep it up…Houston based surfer that left the race last year (after 15 years), so this is right up my alley. Surfed Baja last year (San Pedrito). Look forward to seeing how your rental plays out as I’m looking to do something similar (some Central/South America surf locale) while the USD is still strong (for now). Great blog and good luck! Matt

    1. Awesome, thanks so much Matt! My place is just up the hill from Cerritos beach, close to San Pedrito. Would love to hear more about how you make it work. Let me know if you’re ever back in the ‘hood! Hope to hear more from you and that you’ll continue to follow along. Thanks again!

      1. For sure! I’ll email you some background as we are in similar spots in many ways and maybe there is some overlap somewhere that could be of benefit, never know…Also, I worked for Scotiabank for 10-years, so I’m part Canadian, hah.

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