Month: September 2014

Running in Bordeaux and San Sebastian

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You guys tired of seeing this running outfit yet?

While we were in Bordeaux, France and San Sebastian, Spain, my half marathon in Dingle was only a couple weeks away. I was never too successful in following a strict training plan while we were traveling, but instead I kind of just ran what I felt like, while adding in some long runs on the weekends. This proved to work pretty well, since I felt good during my race on September 6.

The weather was hotter than I was used to in Bordeaux, and I started my runs too late and felt pretty tired during both of them. But they were still enjoyable, especially because Bordeaux is a beautiful city, and there is a path that runs along the river for miles. My first run was four miles, and my second was eight miles.

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Some sights I saw:

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Jeremy met me after my run and took this. The tower reminded me of Disneyland.

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A skateboard park right along the river.

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The guy on the front of the boat is holding a big bunch of grapes. I love wine country.

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We were only in San Sebastian for two nights, so I made sure to wake up early the morning after we got there to run some miles along the ocean. The beach had been so crowded the day before, but I got out there before anyone had a chance to wake up (except for the other runners, of course. Oh and surfers). Man, this was a beautiful run and will go down in history as one of my favorite places to run, ever. I stopped to take sooo many pictures, but I really couldn’t help it.

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Bird footprints.

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Empty beach.

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There’s a path that goes all along the ocean and cliffs.

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Running through the old town.

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I wish that we had spent more time in San Sebastian so I could have had more runventures, but we’ll just have to go back one day.

Go Big Then Go Home: Part 2

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As soon as we got to San Sebastian, Spain, we headed to the ocean. My friend Liz, her boyfriend Alain, Jeremy and I rented an Airbnb in the old part of town, just a couple blocks from the surfing beach in town, Zurriola Beach. It was also the beach popular with the young locals, who ended up photobombing us while we were trying to take a picture:

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I figured the water would be warm, but it was real cold… we got in anyway. Before coming to San Sebastian, I read about pintxos (pronounced “pinchos”)  online, which are basically snacks that bars in Basque country make and put out for customers. I didn’t realize that every bar had them, and that they put them out around 10:30am and keep making them until after midnight. Each bar we passed had such a big selection, and some were really impressive. Because every bar has them, they leave the lights really bright inside and everyone just stands around and fills up their plate, and tosses their napkins on the ground when they’re done.

One of our selections of pintxos.

One of our selections of pintxos.

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Jeremy waiting to pay for our pintxos.

Pretty much our entire time in San Sebastian was spent laying out at the beach, eating pintxos and walking around the pretty old town.

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Hot dogs with a shorts tan.

Hot dogs with a shorts tan.

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The most crowded beach I’ve ever been to.

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Sunset walk.

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I’ll have a tiny vehicle of my own one day.

Pretty San Sebastian.

Pretty San Sebastian.

We also went out to eat at a restaurant called La Fabrica. The price for a four-course dinner was very reasonable, and everything was delicious and from the region.

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One of Liz's courses, a squid ink dish, but I forget what else was inside...

One of Liz’s courses, a squid ink dish, but I forget what else was inside…

Another pretty course.

Another pretty course.

After two nights, it was time to head back to Bordeaux so Jeremy and I could catch our flight to Ireland the next day. But since Alain was driving and he grew up in the region, he took us to some really great places on the way back. First we stopped for lunch at a little restaurant on the water in Port de la Hume, France. We got huge platters of super fresh seafood and some nice white wine.

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IMG_9735 Then we went to Arcachon and laid out some more and swam in the water.

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Our final stop was at the Dune du Pilat, which is the tallest sand dune in Europe. Once you climb to the top, you can see some really great views.

Starting the climb. It's much steeper and taller than it looks.

Starting the climb. It’s much steeper and taller than it looks.

Still climbing...

Still climbing…

The top!

The top!

Dream team.

Dream team.

You can run down the dunes as fast as you can without feeling like you're going to fall face-first into the sand. It's so fun.

You can run down the dunes as fast as you can without feeling like you’re going to fall face-first into the sand. It’s so fun.

Looking up.

Looking up.

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It was sad to say goodbye to Alain and Liz, but we had to get on a plane and head to Ireland so I could run the Dingle Half Marathon and explore Ireland for a week and a half.

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Goodbye France!

Go Big Then Go Home: Part 1

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I had my eye on these pants that were being sold all over Bordeaux for 10 euro. Jeremy finally convinced me to get some.

I can’t believe we’re home (well, in Georgia). Jeremy and I spent last week in Dublin, staying in an awesome Airbnb in a historic neighborhood a little bit outside the city center but close enough so we could walk there, and close enough to the Guinness Brewery that we could smell hops in the air. I haven’t shared pictures from our time in Bordeaux, France, where we met up with my best friend Liz and her boyfriend, Alain, who is from Bordeaux. He drove us all around the region, then we took a road trip to San Sebastian, Spain, for beach time and delicious food from Basque Country. Our theme of the past few weeks was “Go Big Then Go Home,” and that we did.

Our first meal in Bordeaux: cheese for me, oysters for Jeremy.

Our first meal in Bordeaux: cheese for me, oysters for Jeremy.

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La grosse cloche de Bordeaux.

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Alain and Liz. Gah they're cute.

Alain and Liz. God they’re cute.

Liz and I met a few weeks after I moved to Athens, Georgia, when we were freshmen at UGA. We became close that first year, since we both moved there knowing virtually no one and UGA over-filled the dorms and we weren’t assigned any, so we had to live in an apartment complex off campus. We were pretty much inseparable all four years of college and a couple years after, and we were roommates for five of those years. I’m so glad we got to spend some time together in Europe, and can’t wait to travel with her and Alain again. Jeremy and I are actually staying with her in New Orleans for a couple nights next week, so I’m excited about that too.

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Hanging in Sarlat, France.

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Sarlat is this really charming village that is the birthplace of foie gras, and we ate lunch at this really old restaurant and had the entire upstairs to ourselves. They almost closed the restaurant without realizing we were still upstairs, apparently we were having such a good time we didn't know that two and a half hours had gone by.

Sarlat is this really charming village that is the birthplace of foie gras, and we ate lunch at this really old restaurant and had the entire upstairs to ourselves. They almost closed the restaurant without realizing we were still upstairs, apparently we were having such a good time we didn’t know that two and a half hours had gone by.

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Sarlat is a well-preserved medieval village that dates back to the 14th century.

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On the way back from Sarlat, we stopped in La Roque-Gageac, a town set on the Dordogne River with houses built into the cliffs.

DSC_5398 IMG_9555On our way to Spain, we stopped for lunch in Bayonne, France, in Basque Country. Apparently there is a chocolate factory there but we didn’t go.

Bayonne, France.

Bayonne, France.

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Liz and her huge pot of mussels.

Liz and her huge pot of mussels.

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What people in Spain call a tortilla is very different than what we think of. It’s basically an omelette in quiche form. 

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DSC_5406Our last stop before Spain was Biarritz, France, where we finally got to see the ocean.

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DSC_5438Next up: San Sebastian, Spain!

Dingle Half Marathon Race Recap

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With only a week to spare, I finally accomplished my goal of running a race abroad! On Saturday, I completed the Dingle Half Marathon on the Dingle Peninsula on the west coast of Ireland. I wasn’t expecting much (I set no goals other than to enjoy the scenery and finish feeling good) since my training has been a little sporadic and I never ended up following a plan even though I was thinking about it, but the race went much better than expected, and I was happy to find that I have kept up my fitness better than I thought. That, and the scenery was just so damn beautiful that it was easy to get distracted and the miles went by fast.

Charming Dingle with some ominous clouds in the background.

Charming Dingle with some ominous clouds in the background.

I haven’t written a race report since March (and I’ve had bad race fever ever since, and it’s even worse now after Saturday. I’ve been googling races like crazy) so I feel out of practice, and I’m not one of those people that can recall a race mile-by-mile. I’m actually really impressed when people can do that; I usually zone out or forget which mile stuff happened at. But here I go.

Pre-Race

Jeremy and I flew into Dublin from Bordeaux, France on Thursday (we spent a few days in Bordeaux beforehand then went to Spain with two friends from home, but that deserves its own post), and rented a car at the airport. We drove to Dingle, which is across the entire country. Jeremy drove and picked up the whole driving on the left side of the road thing really quickly.

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Driving across Ireland; Jeremy drove on the left side of the road like a champ.

Driving across Ireland.

We arrived in Dingle in the evening, and met our host and arrived at our perfect little house on the Dingle Bay. I don’t even remember where I found this lady’s email address because she doesn’t have a website or pictures of the house online, but it could not have been more perfect, and since she is just starting out the price was much lower than what she could actually get.

View from our little house.

View from our little house.

On Friday, we went to pick up my race packet from the harbor, and it was super fast and easy. There wasn’t really an expo since it’s a small-town race, but I didn’t mind because I don’t particularly care about expos anyway.

The view from our house.

View from the packet pickup.

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No lines!

We walked around the harbor a bit and I took my traditional pre-race photo.

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IMG_9819 After packet pickup, Jeremy and I drove around the peninsula on the road that the race would follow, called Slea Head Drive. I took some pictures since I figured I wouldn’t during the race.

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Needless to say, it was beautiful and I was getting pretty excited about running the course. There were lots of sheep and cows along the way, mixed with ocean views, cliffs, and countryside.

That evening, we took it easy. I had a lot of bread and a small salad for lunch, and then soup for dinner, which worked out for my race in March so I replicated it this time. I stretched some and wore my ProCompression socks, and laid out my stuff.

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My stretching view (I'm wearing the slippers my mom brought for me when we met up in France a couple months ago).

My stretching view (I’m wearing the slippers my mom brought for me when we met up in France a couple months ago. You can’t really see them but they are awesome).

Definitely forgot a sports bra.

Definitely forgot a sports bra.

The Race

The race didn’t start till 9am Saturday morning, which was great. We were only about a five-minute walk from the start, so I had a nice and relaxing morning. I’m not a good sleeper in general and the night before a race can be notoriously bad, but I slept really well the whole time we were in Dingle. It was definitely the best sleep I’ve ever gotten before a race (and our entire trip so far, I’m pretty sure). I set an alarm for 7am but I never actually need alarms to wake me up, and got up around 6:30. I ate some porridge (we thought it was oatmeal when we bought it) and a banana and a cup of coffee. We left the house at 8:30am, and I didn’t use the bathrooms before the race since the lines were long and I didn’t feel like I needed to. I got in the corral (there were no waves) and realized I was kind of close to the front after seeing how many people were behind me. The race started right on time, and at 9am we were off.

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The starting line, seen from the opposite side of the corral.

The problem with starting so far up in the corral was that everyone was running faster than I was planning, but I didn’t realize it. After seeing my time of 9:04 for the first mile even though I thought I was going much more slowly, I worried that I would screw myself over if I didn’t slow down. But I didn’t like getting passed by a bunch of people, so I kept up my pace. At around mile 4, I saw some portapotties with no lines and figured I should stop since I had to pee pretty badly, and it would be good to get away from the faster people so I didn’t hit a wall later on. This was the first time I’ve stopped to use a portapotty during a race. I didn’t think it would affect me by much, but I think I may have been able to PR if I hadn’t stopped. But that’s okay, I didn’t know at the time how strong I would feel later on.

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Seen on the course.

I ended up taking some pictures along the way, which really helped me mentally. For some reason it gave me a big boost of energy whenever I did, and it was actually pretty fun. During the first few miles, I was staying on the left side of the road to avoid crowds. A nice older Irishman sought me out to let me know that I should stick to the middle of the road since it was slightly slanted on the side and it would hurt my legs later on. I thanked him and moved to the center. My left quad ended up kind of hurting at around mile 10 and I realized I was on slanted road again. I moved to the middle of the road and the pain went away. I thanked the man in my head again.

Tiny runners on the cliff.

Looking backwards at the tiny runners on the cliff.

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Mile 10 marker.

I only stopped to walk twice, and for only about 5 seconds (if that) each time. I learned from my past half marathons that if I’m really feeling tired, I should stop and compose myself for a few seconds, and pick it back up. This worked, and the second time I stopped to walk on a hill, an older Irishwoman tapped me on the shoulder and told me there was a photographer at the top of the hill so I shouldn’t walk. I thanked her, and started running again. Everybody that I talked to on race day was SO nice and really made the whole experience that much better. I took a mocha Clif gel that had caffeine in it around mile 7 I think, and that gave me a much-needed boost of energy. The gels always take me a long time to finish, so I think I wasn’t done with it until a mile or so later.

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Pretty proud of these splits, especially considering I thought I would be running 10:30 miles or so. Mile 4 is when I stopped for the bathroom, and miles 8 and 12 had some killer hills.

I never ended up hitting a wall, and I was able to sprint the last half mile to the finish line. The race finished at a pub, and everyone was already drinking beer. I couldn’t find any water at the end and I was really thirsty. I finally found a few bottles under a table and grabbed one. My race medal broke a few minutes after I put it on, so a volunteer gave me a new one. My Garmin matched up pretty perfectly with the mile markers and I stopped it two seconds after I crossed the finish line, so I knew my official time would be pretty spot on with my watch. I finished in 2:05:45, one minute and 42 seconds away from my PR. I WILL break two hours soon!

The pub where the race finished.

The pub where the race finished.

Post-Race

There were buses waiting to take the half marathon finishers back to Dingle, so I waited in line and ate some snacks, and talked to two really nice people from Ireland that had just run. The bus took about 45 minutes because of how slowly the driver had to go on the small roads, but it was fun because the scenery was beautiful, and we were driving past the full marathon runners so we could cheer them on from inside the bus.

I met up with Jeremy back in Dingle, and he was waiting for me with chocolate soy milk and pretzels. The best.

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Finished!

True that.

True that.

 

I’m usually not that hungry right after a race, but it was different this time. I really wanted something salty and unhealthy, so we got fish and chips, calamari, and mushy peas. It hit the spot.

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We were going to go out to the pubs that night to hear some traditional Irish music and celebrate with all the other racers that had come into town, but I was way too tired and instead sat at our house, drank wine and ate cheese from a local cheese shop, which was made with seaweed. It was really good.

I know I should have been drinking beer since it's Ireland and all, but I had an intense craving for wine and cheese (aka I'm addicted).

I know I should have been drinking beer since it’s Ireland and all, but I had an intense craving for wine and cheese, and I deserved it.

Overall, it was a great race with some beautiful scenery, and I would definitely run it again. The weather was also perfect, it was pretty chilly and windy at the starting line but the wind died down and it was overcast and about 55 degrees and never warmed up. The shirt is also really nice, it’s a long-sleeved performance shirt that has a zippered pocket. It’s pretty big since I went with a unisex medium when registering for some reason, but I still like it.

The only things I didn’t particularly like were the fact that they handed out water bottles at each fueling stop (which were every three miles, which wasn’t that bad for me since I brought my own water), and everybody only took a sip or two and then tossed the rest, so there were basically full bottles of water everywhere, going to be thrown out. I also didn’t like that they didn’t hand out water at the finish line and I had run out of my own.

Oh man, for the first time ever, I took a few good pictures during a race (I actually tried this time). I’m going to buy a picture, I’m thinking this one:

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Or this one:

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 7.59.45 PM I swear I was sprinting as hard as I could in this one, but instead I kind of look like I’m la-di-da skipping to the finish line:

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Anyway, half marathon #5 was really great, and now I’m looking forward to #6, in Santa Barbara on November 8th!