Mexico City Runaround


Mexico City, 7:08PM: I sit here now in a cab, stuck in barely crawling traffic in the dark, hoping to make it to the airport in time for my flight.  The check-in cutoff time is 37 minutes from now, and my phone says I’m 35 minutes away.  This doesn’t look positive, especially since the driver is very much disagreeing with Google.

But first, let’s start back with yesterday.  Think of this as a look at a roughly 24-36 hour period, or effectively, a day in my life.  I caught an afternoon flight via Frankfurt to Mexico City, approximately a 12-hour hop from Europe.


It’s actually one of my favorite flight routes, since it’s all daytime and lands at a nice 6:45PM.


This means I can work virtually the entire flight (even with WiFi!), then get to the hotel, catch up on anything remaining and go to sleep early (around 9-10PM).


That in turn allows me to naturally wake-up early (5-6AM) and not be too far behind in European based e-mails and conference calls.  So after quickly triaging e-mail I hit up the hotel lounge just at sunrise as they opened.  It’s here I picked up some fruit and bread to give me a bit of a nutritional base to do my workout on. I don’t bother to bring gels or the like with me on most trips, since usually it’s just one more thing to deal with airport security on.


About an hour later I headed on outside.  The hotel sat directly on the Reforma, and a large park.  I’ve visited this spot before. The park is incredibly well kept, and also makes for a great running loop since it’s mostly pancake flat save for a little section at one end around the museum (Palace of Fine Arts).


Being just after 7AM, things were still pretty quiet.  A handful of runners and walkers were out, along with some police at each corner and main walkway path into the park.  For today’s fun I’d be doing 8x800m as the main set.  First though, I’d warm-up with a 10-minute easy pace, and then I’d build for 5-minutes to the set pace.


After that 15-minutes of running I’d take 90 seconds of rest (walking mostly) before getting into the main set.  It’s during most of these walking breaks that I was able to snap some photos.  Regrettably, I had forgot to charge the action cam, so had to default back to my phone.  Of course, I only discovered this when I went to turn it on in the park, meaning I had to carry a useless camera.


I kicked off the first rep, which was like all other reps – at 800m long.  The pace for these was the usual, which is 5:48/mile (3:35/km), or 2:54 per 800m.

But, I made it approximately 100m before I realized that wasn’t going to happen. Not the distance, but the pace.  I was close, but not quite there.  I was coming in at about 3:03-3:05, so about 10-seconds slow.  Generally speaking, I have no problem completing this workout at home, always on pace, or a bit faster.

It wasn’t till around that point that I regretfully recalled the elevation of Mexico City, which sits at approximately 8,000ft (~2,421m meters).


Well then, so much for that plan.  But I figured that since the first one always sucks, perhaps the second one will be less painful.

Then I realized I was just lying to myself.  The second one is never better.  I know better than that.

Perhaps the 3rd?

Ok, no, that hurt too.  It’s around now that I was seriously considering calling it after the 4th.  I convinced myself that 4-reps at 8,000 was probably equal to 8-reps at 600ft (home elevation).  Right?

(Flight update: 21 minutes till check-in cutoff, sitting almost still in traffic, Google Maps says 35 minutes).

Then I finished the 4th and figured let’s go for 6-reps and see what happens.  So around and around I went.

It was around this point that things were slightly better.  Don’t get me wrong, it still hurt…a lot.  But I was still hitting them all within a few seconds of each other, and with only two more, it was roughly only another loop plus a bit extra.

So again, around I went.  Past a handful of pretty structures and monuments:


With the final two knocked off, I was donezo.  At least with the main set.


After that I still had 4x150m sprints to do.  Those hurt too, but they aren’t really as bad as the 800m.  For the sprints, you just sorta get ‘em done.

Finally, done for real.  I finished up an easy cool-down walk through the park checking things out.



As I was walking back across the street, I saw the water bottle man pushing his cart down the bike lane.  He’s sorta like a self-contained aide station:


From there it was back into the hotel for breakfast.  They had an awesome spread of cut fresh fruit.  Most fruit salads have a bunch of fruits that nobody really wants to eat in a fruit salad.  Seriously, nobody wants green melon.  And grapes are just a pain in the butt with a fork/spoon.  No, the good fruits are pineapple, mango, papaya, ripe watermelon, kiwi, and strawberries.  In this case, the hotel came through quite nicely.  No un-wanted filler fruit!


Plus, fresh squeezed orange juice.  Of course, I paired that with bacon (out of the photo).  Getting bacon back home in Paris is tough.  Europeans are the masters of all sorts of pork products, especially sausages.  But bacon remains elusive.

(Flight update: 15 minutes till check-in cutoff, making little progress, Google maps can’t connect due to tunnel I’m stuck in)

After my run I spent the remainder of the morning working away from my hotel room.  Conference calls with folks around the world before my in-person meetings later in the afternoon.

(Flight update: 14 minutes till check-in cutoff, out of tunnel and phone connected, says 27 minutes to airport)

My meetings were cross town.  In general, I think I spend more time during my trips to Mexico City sitting in traffic than not.  There seems no way to avoid it.

Just like now, sitting here in the taxi.


To burn some time, here’s a fun little map of my running route.


I love that the Google satellite image actually shows the market going on at the moment it was taken.  Here it is zoomed in a bit, it’s all the colorful huts on the upper and left sides of the park:


Because I was doing an interval workout, it really worked much better to do loops around a park than a complete wandering around the city.  Far more consistent, and only a handful of people, dogs, and street carts to wander around.

And, here’s my heart rate profile for the run, pretty clean patterns  On that 4th one where the recovery didn’t drop fully, I think that’s just a strap oddity, as I wiped away some sweat and it solved it.


And, then the pace chart overlaid on it:


(Flight update: 9 minutes till check-in cutoff, 25 minutes to airport)

Ok…here’s the thing on the flight updates.  I’m out of useful things to say on the post related to the runaround.  Thus, now I’m just hoping I get there before the plane takes off.

Woot, we’ve just somehow broken out of traffic and the driver is moving reasonably quickly – about 70MPH, so that’s good.

I do however have this funny little tidbit I happened to notice on the customs form last night though, which is the allowances for GPS devices.  Apparently you’re only allowed one.



Oh, as for a flight update, 1 minute till closing time.  3.6 miles away, 13 minutes and stuck in traffic again.  I wonder how good my Lufthansa sweet talking skills are?

Which isn’t to say I wanted to be in this predicament.  No, it’s just how the meeting was scheduled – determined after my flight was booked.  I didn’t exactly expect a meeting this late in the day.  But ultimately, there’s not really any appreciably later flight option to choose from.  All the major European options leave within 15 minutes of each other.  And to that end, my job is predicated on making tight connections and flights work to fit the most things into a given timeframe.  I’ve got meetings to attend to tomorrow late afternoon back in Europe.  So missing the flight would throw a monkey wrench into that.  On the bright side, there is that fruit at the buffet…and the bacon.

I’m now sorta near the airport perimeter, but still 7 minutes away, and 4 minutes past closing time.  Consistency on the map app’s timing is not a strong point of it.

I suppose technically speaking I’m checked in already, I did that this morning.  But at this airport you still have to pickup a physical boarding pass from the ticketing desks.

With that, I’m about to pull up to the airport, let’s see if I can work some magic….


Ok, so all the check-in lanes were closed.  But I made like a salmon (or…something else) and swam upstream the empty exit line to the remaining agent.  She was more than friendly, not batting an eye at my 12-minute past closing time fashionably late arrival.  Good deal.

At this point, I had all the time in the world!  So, a quick stop at Starbucks:


And then onto the flight.  I figured I’d change out of my suit onboard.


With that, it’s off into the night sky I go, some 14,462km still to go.  With each kilometer passing every 4 seconds.


Thus, a typical 24-ish-hour day in my life. Thanks for reading!

Interested in how I eat semi-healthy while travelling? Here’s a classic post on it.

Or, interested in how I choose my swim/bike/run locations while travelling? And how and what I pack? I’ve got that too!


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  1. CaptainChris

    “Then I realized I was just lying to myself. The second one is never better. I know better than that.”

    This made me smile…Thanks Ray! I hope you had a nice flight home!

    This is a completely of topic question, but what calendaring software do you use to keep track of that crazy schedule of yours?

  2. Kenny K

    Glad you made your flight :-)
    When running intervals in an area with unknown exact distance, how do you measure the distance? do you switch your watch to meters and set autolap or something?


  3. Jonatan

    Glad you liked Mexico City, there are tons of great places to run you would absolutely love (some really good ones even higher than Reforma) and make up for very good and diverse training.

  4. Daniel

    Cool! Flying the new 747-8! How was the flight? How does it compare to the 787?

    • It’s pretty similar to the 747-400. ;) Just a bit longer upstairs, which is where you notice it.

      I actually haven’t flown the 787 yet, oddly enough. Maybe next week, we’ll see.

    • Jonas S.

      Btw a quick advice from someone who works at different airports: for the next time you get stuck in traffic, try to have a phone number for the respective station at hand. Usually it’s no problem to get it, especially as you are probably a frequent flyer. If they know you will be just a bit late, they will try to wait in most cases, they just have to know it beforehand. ;)

  5. Lara

    One GPS device but three surfboards? Who comes up with this stuff! :)

  6. skijeti

    Just a quick question Ray – did you ever been to China and if yes what is their custom GPS policy.
    Thx for post, enjoyable as always.

    • Scott Buchanan

      I’ve been to China (passed through Shanghai immigration) and they didn’t bat an eye at my 2 hand held GPS’s a Forerunner plus a large broadcast camcorder with pro Nikon photo kit. It was all very pleasent unlike Lima airport immigration in Peru :(

    • Same with Scott, no issues with multiple GPS devices in China.

  7. Josh Parks

    Ray – clearly you had more important things to do than comment on the Google Wear release. Because you’re busy, perhaps I’ll ask your community here – did anyone dig through the specs to see if it supports BOTH ANT+ and BLE? I don’t see why it wouldn’t and perhaps this is more of a hardware question…

    they did highlight that they’re looking to integrate Heart Rate monitoring, I just hope they don’t orphan all of my ANT+ heart rate straps or make me buy new BLE ones.

    Now if the monitor was already built into the watch…that would also be nice.

    Comments, thoughts? Looked really great for general users and maybe not so great for ‘hard core’ athletes.

    thanks for the write-up!


    • Reading the limited Android Wear SDK docs it’s all about notifications so it sounds like a dumb companion device where the app runs on the phone – tablet rather that smart device where the app runs directly on the watch. I may be missing something but that’s what I get from my scan of the api offering at the moment.

  8. Oscar P

    Sounds like the regular trip to the airport in Mexico City :)
    In terms of struggling with altitude, in theory you are not affected as much if you workout within 24 hours of arrival. You would have struggled a lot more if you had done that attempt 2-3 days later :)

    Nice photos! There are some nice spots around. Next time you could run to Bosque de Chapultepec which is not far from that hotel that you stay. That is a nice area to go for a run!

  9. Dang you sure can tell a story! I was totally holding my breath the entire time, wondering if you were gonna make that flight!

  10. slartiblartfast

    Your HR/pace recordings have altitude in feet marked on the y axis, although perhaps this is appropriate.

    Last year I was delayed getting to Heathrow and got to the check in counter for my booked Etihad flight from LHR to Sydney almost exactly 12 minutes after the flight closed. They took one look at my bike bag and said “see you tomorrow” – so I’m assuming you had no hold luggage to check in.

  11. Happy Runner

    “Think of this as a look at a roughly 24-36 hour period, or effectively, a day in my life.”

    Hard to imagine such globe trotting. The earth must seem small to you. Do you generally fly first class, business class, or coach?

    • I generally never fly first internationally, unless some weird upgrade happens. On international, sometimes it’s coach, sometimes it’s biz. Just depends on the situation.

  12. Will

    Great post as always, Ray. Quick question – and, please, feel free to direct me to another post (or posts) where you have already answered this – when you catch a cold from traveling, or just in general, what is your medication of choice and what is your exercise/rest policy? (As you might imagine, I am typing this while nursing a cold and having chosen not to exercise these past few days, which has made me a bit morose..!).

    • Generally speaking, I’ll just stick to something like Dayquil/Nyquil.

      For exercise, it depends heavily on how I feel. Most folks would take the case of if it’s above the neck, then continue. But if symptoms are below the neck, than stop. I roughly try that, but it really depends on how I feel exhaustion-wise and what the upcoming travel looks like, as well as what the training schedule looks like.

  13. Anthony


    Getting bacon in Paris is no problem if you know where to go. Try Marks & Spencer at 100, Champs Elysées near the George V metro stop OR the new and much bigger Marks & Spencer store in the 15th link to

    When we arrived 10 years ago, there was no bacon to be had. Now this has all been rectified!

    • Funny, we just wandered into that M&S last week. LOVE IT! Mostly, because it has a Chipotle 15 yards away inside the same building. But, we picked up a lot of goodness there last week.

  14. Trevor

    What camera do you always use for the pics when running? They seem to turn out relatively well considering you are presumably running.

  15. Mauricio

    I hope you tried real tacos while in there.

  16. Sofia

    Next time you are in town you should let me know. Should be fun! And maybe I could take you to a nicer running route.

  17. Javo

    The same as Sofia, whenever in town, let me know to take you to “el sope” in Bosque de Chapultepec, it’s the real deal for runners in Mexico City. You’ll enjoy it.