Running in the Rainforest

I arrived in Cairns, Queensland which is in the North and a popular jumping-off point for excursions to the Great Barrier Reef, and is also situated near the rainforest. Sounds good, right? It was a different from anything I’ve experienced so far.  I hated it. I even used the word shit-hole to describe it a few times.  And I didn’t take any pictures the first two days because I just didn’t think there was much to see.

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But it did get me thinking about why we only take pictures of the beautiful things and how we sort of ignore things when conditions are not as ideal. This mirrors how we often deal with our feelings as well: ignoring or suppressing the “bad” feelings and only feeling like we are on the right track when we are laughing and having the time of our lives.  But that’s just not the world we live in. I’d like to recognize the so-so scenery, just as I try to recognize negative feelings that come up from time to time. Nothing is constant anyway. It seems to make life a little more enjoyable when you just give recognition to the fact that things may not be ideal, and instead make the best of the situation and move on.  So that’s what I did.  My hostel was one of the nicest hostels here, which was surprising since it wasn’t that nice. When you add to it a few less than desirable roommates for, like, the 8th night in a row, with the people in Cairns being the last straw, I decided to switch it up to a hotel after the first night. And booked another trip to get out of Cairns after the second night.  At which point this town regained some charm.

It rained almost constantly the first two days.  You know what you get when you are near the rainforest and it is amost winter? Rain! So I spent a lot of time indoors just hanging out. And on my third day there, when the rain subsided for longer periods of time, I decided to do my first run post-marathon in the rainforest! I went 5 miles up through the Botanical Gardens and onto a path called Red Arrow.  It’s in the North of the city between the city and the airport.

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The view from the "top" of Red Arrow....
The view from the “top” of Red Arrow….

There were a lot of stairs but the stairs only lasted for about a mile, so it wasn’t toooo hard for my first run back.  Side note: You can also go much deeper into the Daindree Rainforest, which is further north outside of Cairns, but since it was my last day, this was good enough for me.  I even saw some wildlife! There were a few of these guys hanging around….

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Another great running or walking location is along the Esplanade, which is a long path along the beach.

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And they have nice little workout areas to do some strength training. I’ve seen these in so many cities. They are so nice!

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And then you can meet your friends after for a dip in the pool at the manmade beach…

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

But first, check if it’s safe to be in the sun…

Extreme seems high, but maybe that's just me?
Extreme seems high, but maybe that’s just me?

And then grill out with your friends at the public grill stations! Or alone, whichever. There were multiple grills at the one station, and multiple stations. So a lot of grills.

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Overall Cairns didn’t end up being so bad, but if you have limited time in Australia I think there are better ways to use your time.  If you are able to stop in, then 2 nights is probably all you need unless you spend more time out exploring the reef and rainforest than back in town. I wasn’t able to do any reef exploring here since I am going on an excursion for all of that later! So there were a lot of factors as to why I didn’t necessarily like Cairns.  You may just want to check it out for yourself to decide if it’s for you. 🙂

Until next time, loves!

 

Prague and its Marathon!

Hey you guyyyyss!

Prague is my last stop in Europe, and this past weekend I participated in the Volkswagen Prague Marathon.  Yep, the full marathon. Marathon #4 for me. It was a bit of a question all throughout my travels whether or not to run the marathon since I was dealing with a nagging IT band injury and I didn’t want to hurt it further. Not to mention the fact that the most I ran in any one week between the injury and the marathon itself was about 17 miles total in one week. Some weeks I would only run once. And trust me I would exaggerate my mileage if I could, but just trying to keep everyone honest here.  That being said I definitely was not very prepared to run 26.2 miles.

Had I never run a marathon before, I probably would have just not started, but my body does know what it is like to run that distance so I thought it might not be too bad. If nothing else I wanted to do it to see what the expo was like, start the race to see how they do it in Prague, and so be it if I had to drop out or walk the majority of it and just treat it as a long sightseeing day.  I was in a beautiful city with a lot of things to see, of course! And I felt good doing 14 miles two weeks before sooo all logic pointed to completing it, no?  I’m really glad I did it though.  I finished, and didn’t do terribly bad with my pace (4:12:44-still within about a half hour of my normal range), and only had to walk a few times towards the end, to my surprise.  I think this was in large part because while traveling we are on our feet nearly all day most days, and a lot of days lugging around a huge pack, so I’m going to attribute part of being able to complete it to that.

It was pretty hard towards the end, and I’m glad I did it in this case, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend anyone to skimp on their training OR try to train for a marathon while doing an extended backpacking trip. It’s fun to run while traveling, but most of the fun of training for marathons for me is to train with my marathoner friends and without a group of people to train and do the race with it’s just not as thrilling. The thrill for me on this one luckily came from being in a new city, with new sights, and to complete it with my cousin, who is a first-time marathoner!

The Volkswagen Prague Marathon 2014 was definitely a great experience.  The Expo was awesome, the course was FLAT and beautiful, and they were really well organized. There were about 6,038 racers that finished and only about 1,102 were female, I noted. 9,500 runners were listed as registered prior to the race.DCIM101GOPRO

I’ll share some things I liked and didn’t like about it. I’ll start with some things I didn’t like so we can end on a happy note.

  • A lot of doubling back in this course.  For the most part I enjoyed the course, and the fact that the course went back and forth throughout the city was sometimes good because I got to see my cousin from time to time AND got to see the elite athletes pass by while running, however it made the course feel a little longer to do so much doubling back and running back and forth with two-way runner traffic on the same road.   

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That was it! And for the things I loved….IMG_1252IMG_1253

  • The Expo! Their sport expo was pretty good with all the regular exhibitors like nutrition experts, energy concoctions for pre-and post-race, running coaches, booths with a lot of cool gear, elite athletes, and lots of music and race information.  I got to meet Barefoot Ted McDonald at the expo which was really cool. He spoke first about the benefits of minimalist footwear in running and about his time with the Tarahumara in Mexico.  He then signed copies of Born to Run, and he showed us the solowheel. It was a good time.

IMG_1259They also had a decent pre-race pasta party the day before, complete with nonalcoholic beer. Because you can’t do anything in Prague without a beer.

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  • Salt at most refreshment stops. The other thing that really helped me make it through this marathon was taking salt capsules and taking salt when it was offered on the course.  I learned about the benefits of salt capsules (like these by Saltstick, that I used) at Gear West after I had horrible cramping at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN in 2013.  There is nothing worse than cramping up half-way through and not having anything to help with it. Salt capsules to the rescue! I did feel my muscles tighten a little so started using the capsules around mile 10 and took probably one an hour. The Prague Marathon also had plates filled with salt set out at the refreshment tables and runners would dip their fruit (bananas and oranges) into the salt for a quick salt shot.  I was glad they had this available for runners.
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And PINK toilets. So fun.
  • Live Tracking!  I think this is becoming more and more commonplace, but I was excited to see that the Prague Marathon had live tracking so you could look up and watch a runner run across a map on your screen from the comfort of your home. It looked like the screen shot below. Even though it was very early in the morning back in the US, I still had some family that got up early to watch me at the end of the race!

Prague Marathon Map

  • Flat course! Prague can be hilly so it was really nice that the course officials mapped a course that was really flat.  Almost no hills at all. It would have been a good course to PR on!

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  • Free massages!  There was a half a city block of massage tents and massage tables set up for a 5 minute leg massage before or after the race. It may not seem like much, but I think my recovery was much better and I had less pain than normal due to the quick rub-down post-race.  The 15 minute wait in line was worth it and the lines went pretty quickly since there were so many tables.
  • Personal message booth!  This was by far the coolest aspect of the race for me that set it apart from others.  They had a booth set up at the expo with videocamera and microphone where you could record a short message for your friends or family that were running.  They would record the runner’s bib number and your message here…

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And then the video message would come up on the screen and speakers at the 36K point during the race (a little over 22 miles), just for your runner to view. It was cool to have the option for that personal encouragement we all need during mile 22.  SUCH an awesome idea!

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  • The language may not translate but the enthusiasm of fans does!  While I was running there were a lot of different languages being yelled in my general direction, and I didn’t see any personal messages from the message booth in English, so you could really tell how international the marathon actually was.  I read somewhere that 91 countries were represented. Even though I couldn’t understand most of what was said, things like “go, go, go!” were easily understood, and high fives were always welcome.  Although the fans weren’t as numerous as other marathons I’ve done, the fans that were there did have fun signs and would yell or clap for encouragement.  They also had a lot of music along the route, and many cheer squads to cheer you along.
  • Photos and videos of you during the race!  This is also regular at all the races I’ve done, however this race had a race video that I could purchase as well. Since  I didn’t have anyone in town to cheer from the sidelines, I did purchase all of the digital photos and videos.  And the price was much more reasonable than what I’ve experienced at other races, at only €40 for all HD digital copies.

As you can see from my use of exclamation points that I was very excited about the race overall. I’d highly recommend it for anyone hoping to PR!

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Afterwards, I went to this AMAZING vegetarian restaurant, called Lehká Hlava.  The name means Clear Head in English, which I love.  I had a pret-ty large meal post-race.  The meal after a marathon might be the best thing ever. So choose wisely. I definitely did this time!

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Beer!
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Olives, and Beet Carpaccio salad!
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Veggie Beef Stroganoff (served with mushrooms and rice)! This is how fake meat should taste… really juicy and grilled to perfection!

And I also had a raw vegan strawberry cheesecake made out of cashews and walnuts, but I didn’t even manage a photo because I ate it so fast.  It was soooo good!!!

The rest of the time in Prague I did see a few sights. Prague was definitely near the top of the list of cities that I’ve visited so far, due to it’s relaxed and friendly atmosphere.  It was a great city to hang out in after the race and just enjoy.

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hedges!

Moving on to Italy: Florence

Florence was a great change of pace.  Not only was the pasta incredible, but the weather was good, there were tons of running trails, and the river, monuments and buildings were picturesque.  I loved that I could walk everywhere. I loved the friendliness of the people. I haven’t really experienced friendliness like this since Ireland and it was really nice.  The people are soooo friendly.

Examples.  One night I went to a friend’s apartment to get ready for dinner and I didn’t quite understand at the time the numbering system on the doors. There is one for residential homes and one number for shops, and they are usually 10-20 numbers off from one another. So I stood at a residential house, which I thought was my friend’s, ringing the bell. A shopkeeper from nextdoor came over and helped me figure out that no, I was not at the right place and even offered to let me use her phone.

Another example. I was eating out and I was seated at a 6-person table by myself. Later 3 others were seated with me.  I ordered a pizza but only ate half and since they had ordered the same among the three of them, we got to talking and I offered them my uneaten half.  They then proceeded to only agree to eat my pizza if I drank their wine.  I tried to refuse but they didn’t allow for that. It was nice because one was Italian, and the other two were Belgian and Catalan (not to be confused with Spanish – ha!), but all spoke Spanish so I got to practice my Spanish one last time with them.  Time after time people have surprised me with their amiability and helpfulness. I really felt looked after due to this in Florence, which was so nice.

Another reason Florence was nice was that I didn’t have any guided tours or concrete plans, I just did whatever came up.  Sometimes I wish we lived in a world where nothing was decided until the day of…. hmmm….. might be a little hard I guess, but I can dream!

In my free time I did end up going for a fairly decent long run.  13 or so miles! This run further reinforced the fact that you can see practically a whole city in just one 2/2.5 hour run.  I feel like I hit up the majority of the sights in Florence and had the rest of the time to spend with my friends that happened to be in town!

Florence Run

This is slightly longer than what I ran (I think it was actually around 13.5), but it’s a close approximation.  First I ran to the Florence Cathedral, which was so big and intricate. It was cloudy and had just rained, but was still a pleasant temperature for short sleeves!

Florence Cathedral
Florence Cathedral

20140425_091612And some other sites along the way.

Pizza della Rupubblica
Pizza della Rupubblica
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Palazzo Vecchio

This is Palazzo Vecchio at a different time for a better view.

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Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio

I turned and went down past the Uffizi Gallery along the river. There were a fair amount of other runners so I just followed where they were headed.

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Then I decided some hills would be good so I ran to the top of the Piazzale Michelangelo. There I saw a replica of the statue of David and these amazing views of the city.

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20140425_09561520140425_100405Then I ran along the river Sieve for a while and took in the sunshine that was now showering me.  It felt like a proper summer day.

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Another view of Ponte Vecchio on the way back.

I headed back in the direction of my hostel and I went through the Piazza dell’Indipendenza.

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Then I made one last loop to the De Basso Fortress and its Gardens to squeak out a little more mileage since I was feeling good. I didn’t have any water with me so this was a huge tease at the end of the run. I do not recommend running 13-14 miles with no water.

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20140425_113048There are so many monuments to see in Florence that this was a good way to see a lot in a short period of time!

Technically this also means I’m on my taper in my marathon training, if you can call it training with my injury.  The taper will be even more reduced than in the normal training plan since I want my legs to be as fresh as possible on marathon day and to reduce any further injury. I am just hoping to finish and I think if I were to try to squeeze in more “make-up” training miles, even if they were slow it would only hurt me and my chances of finishing.  Now I’m trying to think of strategies for finishing.  Have you ever tried walking at specific intervals or any other run/walk combination for a marathon? Let me know in the comments if you have and what worked!

Also in Florence, I went to see the Boboli Gardens, which were very pretty. Here are a few pictures of that!  Cin cin!

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Eating in Spain and Sevilla for a Holy Run

First of all, I have to take a minute to talk about the food in Spain.  It was quite a challenge being vegan. Not that it can’t be done, but unless you want to spend  your entire time trying to find vegan food, it might be okay to just go with it and be vegetarian.  Being vegetarian is still quite limiting in Spain and sometimes you may need to just go with it and eat whatever comes to you, if you are hungry, especially if you were confused about the translation and didn’t realize what you were actually ordering. I’d love to be a perfect vegan, but as this pictorial that I saw on Elephant Journal explains, it is likely that nobody is ever fully a vegan… but we can still try… if we want. But only if we want and when we want. It’s a personal decision day to day.  Perfection is overrated. And I just found it wasn’t really worth it for me 100% of the time to obsess and be disappointed with my options. And… YOLO is a saying for a reason, right?! 😉 Right.

Second of all, the food consumption timing is much different than what I am used to. I generally like to get up, work out, then have a big breakfast, a  medium sized lunch, and a small or lighter dinner.  In Spain, they have next to nothing for breakfast: a little pastry or small piece of toast, juice, and a coffee the size of an espresso (if you don’t want cafe con leche – coffee with milk).  This is not usually enough for me (especially because bread has very little nutritional value), but I’m trying this whole go with the culture thing and so I adapted.  Maybe I just get up later and bypass the whole breakfast thing altogether. We’ve got options.

The places serving breakfasts didn’t really have menus for breakfast since it’s assumed you will just order the traditional breakfast of toast and coffee.   The few times I asked for a menu, they would just stare at me blankly and say “es el desayuno” which means it’s breakfast. Duh. Then lunch is really grand (hello, Paella!), there are tons of people out eating deserts or ice cream mid-day, and dinner is usually substantial as well (Tapas y paella!).  So they make up for this breakfast thing with a lot of meat, cheese, and sweets the rest of the day.

Breakfast at the train station: a typical breakfast
Breakfast at the train station: a typical breakfast

But enough about the food differences, it was Semana Santa! And once again running is needed to kick off that holy week of eating and celebrating.  So I did another sight-seeing run which happens on accident most of the time. I just go to one notable thing, and then I’ll see another cool looking building in the distance and head towards that, and so on.  I love it when they turn out like my run in Sevilla, where I just kept running until I hit the Plaza de España, which is in the Parque de María Luisa. I then ran through the park and did the “other side” of the cathedral on the way back.

I ran this route for a total of about 4 miles.  My Nike watch didn’t pick up GPS for the map, but I drew a similar route using gmap-pedometer.com, which is a great tool for mapping running routes!

Sevilla, Spain Running Route
Sevilla, Spain Running Route

I started at my hostel, and ran towards the Cathedral, which I knew was straight down from my hostel.

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Catedral de Sevilla

 

Into the Parque de Santa Luisa
Into the Parque de María Luisa (can you see the running club?!)
Plaza de Espana
Plaza de España

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The park had these mosaic benches, perfect for stopping and doing a few step-up exercises, push ups and tricep dips.

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This is the Hotel Alfonso XIII.  Their rooms go from 385 to 3,017 USD for Holy Week. Book now while the prices are low!
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It’s hard to see here but the main streets were lined with chairs for the processions for Semana Santa.

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This wasn’t that long of a run, but could have easily been lengthened by crossing the river. I stopped at the end of my run in this clearing outside my hostel for my IT band strength routine since it had benches as well.  During the day, the restaurants take this space over with outside seating but having done my run in the morning, the area was all mine.

A sneak preview of more Semana Santa posts to come, I also took this video of one of the processions on this same street! I hope you enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Madrid, Ready or Not

Oh, Madrid.  I liked you, until you took away my innocence.  Haha, just kidding. That was gone a long time ago.  But I did realize pretty quickly once my phone was stolen that there are a lot of people out to thieve you out of your things, even in places that seem safe.  And you worked hard for those things. So, Spain is definitely a place to be extremely protective of your belongings if you like your belongings and want to keep them.

I actually knew this before I went and had been warned, but decided to have a picnic out in the park and upon doing so I left my phone right next to myself on the blanket which turned out to be not okay in Spain.  Probably not okay in other places as well, but they have this scheme where they come around asking people to sign a petition for charity. They they act like they are trying to make you understand what they want you to sign for (because of the language barrier), and get really up in your business.  Don’t let anyone in your business even for a second.  That’s how long it took for my phone to disappear even though I was really persistent for him to get away and that I didn’t want to sign.  I was certainly glad that nothing else was stolen because I’m pretty sure he could have taken my whole bag although it would have definitely not been as inconspicuous.

People warned me about the trains and about walking in tourist areas but I guess I had a blind spot for the park, especially because there were people sitting all around me. None of them seemed any the wiser when it happened either.

Anyway, enough about el robo, I just had to post about it in case others decide to go to Spain and also think the park looks so safe and cozy.   Also, definitely if you have an iPhone, go back to your hotel and remotely erase it before making the police report. They didn’t do anything but give me a copy of the report for my records, so it was a waste of time to go find the police station before wiping my phone remotely. I don’t think they managed to get any information from it anyway (so far so good-fingers crossed), but in the case they did that extra two hours could have made a difference. The people at Orange were very helpful when I had to cancel my old Spanish number and had to buy a new SIM and got my new phone. I used google translate with them in the store (upon their suggestion) since it was a more complicated situation than I was able to resolve by having a complete conversation in Spanish. It definitely motivated me to learn more Spanish as well and practice more since it was frustrating knowing a little, but not really enough to explain things and receive information quickly in a pinch. And at least now I have a European phone for future European travel. 🙂

They did steal with my phone the pictures I had taken that morning of a 9-mile run that I did.  I’d highly recommend the route nonetheless and want to share with with you!    Better to explore when you have few belongings on you and are speeding along. 🙂  I’ll provide some links so you can see some of the sights instead. I only made it 9 miles before I had IT band pain, which is why it is not a full loop, but would have been about 12 miles total.

Running route in Madrid
Running route in Madrid

I went down the main street next to where I was staying, Calle de Alcalà.  I went into Parque de Retiro (the park where I got my phone stolen).  There were a lot of runners here, bikers, and rollerbladers. It was so big and beautiful I went back later to wander around and enjoy.

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Puerta de Alcalá

Then I went past the Plaza de la Independencia and saw the Puerta de Alcalá (above). I went from there through the Plaza de España. There are so many statues and beautiful buildings along this route and goes both through the city and through many parks.

I made my way across the river to run around Lago de la Casa de Campo (the lake around Casa de Campo), which is a really large park with a lot of hills. There were also tons of bicyclers, runners, and kayakers on the lake. It was small like Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis and reminded me of home. I guess it was a bit of foreshadowing for that day, but I also tried to go through the Sabatini Gardens around the Royal Palace of Madrid on my way home and had to apologize to the armed guards there for being where I shouldn’t since there was only one opening as the entrance and exit. Whoops.  Then I started to feel pain in my knee (probably from all the extra hills) and called it a day and took the train home!

This is really the majority of the sights and parks I saw in Madrid because the rest of the time I just enjoyed and relaxed. However, I did go to Plaza Mayor, which is a must-see if in Madrid.

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I also wandered to a few other notable places:

View from Puerta del Sol
View from Puerta del Sol
shops near Puerta del Sol
shops near Puerta del Sol
Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas (where they conduct bull fights)
Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas (where they conduct bull fights)

I was there on Palm Sunday as well and there were vendors out selling palm leaves and olive branches everywhere. I’ve actually been cautioned that some of these are a scam as well, and I could feel that some of them were unnecessarily pushy to get you to take the olive branches, but it was hard to say which were legitimate and which weren’t or if there may be a rule of thumb. There were a lot of locals walking around with said palms so I know they do sell them honestly to customers as well.

Palms for Palm Sunday
Palms and olive branches being sold

Overall, as long as you keep your belongings enclosed (zipped), close to you, and you don’t engage with people that come up to you and try to get close to you on the street, Madrid was another beautiful European city with a lot of culture and amazing parks, statues, and plazas.

Running Abroad and Spring Fever!

Sometimes I complain about running.  Sometimes meaning any time while traveling and the weather is below 40 degrees (F) since I didn’t bring cold-weather running clothes. This is why arriving in warmer climates like Amsterdam, Brussels, and Barcelona has brought the happy back into my runs. Amsterdam and Brussels were both a little cooler (60°F, but because of the location/climate it felt cooler). Barcelona is incredible this time of year with its sunny, warm weather. It’s actually only 5° warmer at 65°F but it is too warm for a sweater and sandals are mandatory… not for running of course: tank tops for running! I have just recently recognized how much the weather actually affects my preference of a city. And sometimes it is hard to tell what I enjoy more: running, or just being outside in warm weather.  I didn’t like Edinburgh as much as I thought I would but I think it was primarily because it was so bone-chillingly cold and rainy most days.  I live for sunlight and warmth!  Not to mention since I took some time off of running, getting back to running is much more enjoyable in pleasant weather. I love running outside in nice weather so much that my heart could explode! But that’s probably just the spring fever kicking in.

If running is in your normal workout routine, make time for running on your travels for the following reasons. I need to remember these daily to get motivated to get up earlier than fellow travelers!

1. It’s no secret that eating healthy is muy dificil while traveling. I was being stubborn when I thought it would be easier, but… it’s not. I have not made the best choices, but running helps at least counter those extra days of indulgence that seem to be so common while not at home.

2. It’s a faster way to go through some of the most amazing parks and past monuments that you may have skipped seeing if you had to walk or take transport to get there. This is especially true for longer distances in the above 7 mile range.

3. Running throughout a new city helps you to get your bearings faster.  At first running can be intimidating since it plunges you into the unknown. Most of the time I haven’t been very well acquainted with the city so I normally take screen shots of where I want to head, and then use them if I need them to figure out where I am or check that I’m headed in the right direction. I usually use the google map app to look up a general idea of where I want to run right before the run (normally I have wi-fi in the hostel), and keep it open, it usually will still tell you your location on the map during the run even without internet or service. I’ve found I have to have my data turned on in order to get a correct GPS reading, even if I don’t have any active data plan. This makes it easier to check if you are headed in the right direction. Paper maps work just as well, but I find it easier to use  my phone since I’m usually snapping pictures along the way!  Google maps also usually include the major sights so you can use those as markers for your route.  After my runs I always have a much better sense of the city and it makes the rest of the time and sightseeing much less confusing.

4. It puts us all in a better mood. Those endorphins are very much welcome (and necessary) when the stresses of travel and the annoyances of people up in your business creep up on ya. Endorphins make the world a better place.

See the photos from my runs in Brussels and Barcelona below! Salud!

Brussels, Belgium:

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Barcelona, Spain:

Park next to Sagrada Familia
Park next to Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

Getting closer to Sagrada Familia
Getting closer to Sagrada Familia
Up close and personal at Sagrada Familia
Up close and personal at Sagrada Familia
Ciutadella Park
Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

 

 

Back to Running in London

I had my first run though London, and my first run in 10 days. I took some time off to let my IT band settle down a little bit and with all the walking we have been doing it took a little longer than I would have liked.  I felt good though on my run so let’s hope that I can continue these runs since it really is the best way to see a city.

London is definitely a city that has runners everywhere!  It made me jealous most of the time to not be able to run since it seemed that everyone was out running day and night.  I decided to go through Kensington, where I was staying.  My entire run ended up being about 7 miles, which I did most of through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, but it would be so easy to do a longer run here because Buckingham Palace, its majestic gardens, and St. James Park all continue east of Hyde Park.

Map of Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens
Map of Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens

 

Running Paths in Kensington Gardens
Running Paths in Kensington Gardens

I saw a few sites during my run, and have included them in pictures below.

Gates to the Park
Gates to the Park
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Albert Memorial
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Italian Gardens
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View of Kensington Palace through “The Arch” by Henry Moore

With about a mile left, I stopped to do some strength training to remedy my IT band issues and a wonderful golden retriever came over to say hi!  He kept running over away from his owners with his tennis ball, wanting me to play fetch. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a picture, but it just added to the enjoyable experience of the park and gardens.  I did my routine right outside of Kensington Palace, the home of Prince William and Kate.  I wonder if they spotted me. 😉

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Kensington Palace

IT Band (i.e. butt and hip muscles) Strength Routine:

50 walking alternating lunges

20 one-leg squats on each leg

30 alternating side lunges

10 park bench side-plank leg lifts (I didn’t want to lay on the ground so I did a side plank off of a bench and lifted my leg, which had the added core work benefit)

10 park bench push ups

I can definitely say between this routine and all of the stairs I climbed through the tube stations, I was sore!  It was just what I needed after a little time off.  Cheers!