half marathon training

Running in Bologna

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Running in Bologna was pretty fun. I had one of those “runventure”-type runs where I got kind of lost but just kept going to see where I’d end up. I ran up into the hills of Bologna, looking for a park I had read about that had a nice view of the city below. I think I successfully found it, but not before getting a bit turned around in a different park nearby, as you can see here:Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 10.01.40 AM

It ended up being about five and a half miles, half of which was spent climbing hills. But at least I found those nice views!

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Villa Spada, the first park I found.

I think this was Parco S. Pellegrino, it wasn't so much a park as just a big expanse of green. There was no one else around though, and it was very peaceful.

I think this was Parco S. Pellegrino, it wasn’t so much a park as just a big expanse of green. There was no one else around though, and it was very peaceful.

With a great view.

With a great view.

BIG NEWS: I found a hat that fits my head! It's been a looong search, but I finally found one at the North Face store in Bologna, and it was on sale. It doesn't have velcro in the back, which is important since that got caught in my hair every time I tried one on.

BIG NEWS: I found a hat that fits my head! It’s been a looong search, but I finally found one at the North Face store in Bologna, and it was on sale. It doesn’t have velcro in the back, which is important since my hair would get caught in it every time I tried one on. It has been a game changer so far. 

Oops.

Oops, didn’t mean to run out of Bologna.

My other runs were spent closer to our apartment in the historical center, mostly in Giardini Margherita. The first time it was so, so hot and it was hard to repeat the loop around the park too many times, which was almost exactly one mile. Another time it started raining as soon as I left the apartment, but I kept going, hoping it wouldn’t be too bad. Well, it started POURING and continued pretty much the entire time I ran (and of course stopped right after I finished). It was really fun, actually, even though people waiting at bus stops underneath a covering looked at me like I was crazy. Once I was actually in the park, I took cover under some trees because the rain was so strong, but I saw a couple other people running through it, so I started up again. I hadn’t run in the rain in probably 8 years and it was when I lived in Georgia. Living in Santa Barbara, I never had to deal with any type of weather, really, but it turned out to be a really fun change, and I kind of felt like a little kid. It would have been nice to have a hat, since I couldn’t see where I was going half of the time (my North Face hat discovery didn’t happen until a couple days later).

Appropriate street art during a downpour.

Appropriate street art during a downpour.

Post-rain-run-selfie.

Post-rain-run-selfie.

I’m still running 3-4 miles during the week, but trying to get in some longer runs on the weekend so I can build my endurance back up. I’m still hoping to run a half marathon in early September, and I think I almost have one picked out!

 

Running on the Walls of Lucca, Italy

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After my parents, Jeremy, and I left Turin, we headed south for the coast near Cinque Terre, hoping to spend some days by the ocean and explore the towns around there. We didn’t have any set plans until a few days before leaving, and we looked for last-minute houses on Airbnb and VRBO until we found one that looked perfect. It was a picturesque Tuscan villa with a pool, near the town of Lucca.

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The pretty Tuscan villa that wasn’t meant to be.

Basically, the house ended up being waaaay far up windy, narrow roads, pretty far from Lucca, and the host accidentally booked the wrong house for us and it was too small. We decided not to stay there, and at 7pm on a Saturday night, had nowhere to sleep. We luckily found a hotel right outside the center of Lucca, and stayed there for the night. We got to the hotel pretty late, and we didn’t feel like walking the mile into town to eat dinner, so we did something I haven’t done in years: ate at McDonald’s. I was hoping they would have some interesting things on the menu since McDonald’s in other countries are known for this, but the only different things they had were pasta and beer pretty much. They did sell a pistachio McFlurry though, and I had to try it. I am not very picky and can eat pretty much anything, but I actually couldn’t stand it.

Vespa inside McDonald's.

Vespa inside McDonald’s.

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My gross pistachio McFlurry.

My gross pistachio McFlurry.

I read online about how the walls that surround the old city center of Lucca had been turned into a walking/bicycle path. I didn’t know how long we’d be in the area, so I woke up early the next morning to make sure I got a chance to run the walls. The city was nice and quiet, and the only people out were runners (I heard a fellow American runner comment on my San Diego Half Marathon shirt) and a few bicyclists. The wall circles the city, and is 4km in length.

Early morning streets in Lucca.

Early morning streets in Lucca.

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Up on the walls – the path is very wide!

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The weather was perfect and there was so much to look at, the run went by very fast. I did a total of four miles, then went to the tiny hotel gym to get some strength training in, and use the Stairmaster.

This was a lot harder than I remembered.

This was a lot harder than I remembered.

Before we left for our next destination, we took a quick walk around Lucca. It’s a really charming town!

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Perfecting my tourist pose.

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Gelato place with swings inside. Too bad it wasn’t open.

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This is kind of heartbreaking.

Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July!

Running in Turin, Italy

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Feeling disheveled after running in Turin.

Happy July! I officially have one month left of being 28, and June 27 marked three months in Europe for me and Jeremy. Today is also one of my best friends Nicole‘s birthday, so happy birthday Nicole!!!! She is trying to come visit me and Jeremy while we spend the month of August housesitting in Paris, and I REALLY hope it happens. Just think of all the croissants and macarons we’ll eat! Of course we’ll get some exercise too… Nicole and I met the first week of college my freshman year at UGA in Athens, Georgia. We became fast friends, and have been close ever since.

Me and Nicole circa 2003

Me and Nicole circa 2003

On Nicole's wedding day

On Nicole’s wedding day in 2009

Nicole flew all the way out to Palm Springs from Atlanta for my bachelorette weekend.

Nicole flew all the way out to Palm Springs from Atlanta for my bachelorette weekend.

On my wedding day, 2013

On my wedding day, 2013

Running in Turin

My runs in Turin were okay, but not stellar. The house we were renting was up in the hills and the roads around it were steep and narrow with endless amounts of blind turns, and I didn’t feel comfortable running on them since Italian drivers are a little crazy and I was worried I’d get sideswiped. Thankfully, my dad nicely drove me to two different spots to run where no cars were allowed. The first one was in a big green park, Parco della Rimembranza, with hiking trails running all through it. I ran to the top, and then up and down a couple times to make up some distance, and I figured it was good to practice running hills. The view at the top was pretty great.

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Afterward, my dad and I found a nice café at the top of the park, had a cappuccino and just sat and watched all the local Italians eat and drink coffee with their families.

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It looks like we were the only patrons, but it filled up fast as lunchtime approached.

The other place I ran was along the Po River in central Turin, starting at the Parco del Valentino. This is a such a great place to run; pedestrian paths follow the river for miles, and there were so many other runners out. It was in the middle of the day, though, and it was hot, and I felt miserable. I had eaten the biggest meal OF MY LIFE (not exaggerating) the night before, and felt very heavy. It was one of those runs where you feel like you are running as fast as you possibly can, and it’s still a minute slower than your normal pace. It was rough. But I got through it, and saw some nice sights along the way.

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Medieval village in the castle in Parco del Valentino.

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Castello del Valentino

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The castle from across the river.

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I have returned to Hal Higdon for a half marathon training schedule for a race I’m trying to run in September. I have used his plans for my past four halfs, and I like them a lot. Having a plan helps me stay on track, although this week we’re in Rome and we’ve been walking so much that my legs are too tired to run. On Saturday we walked for six hours straight, and since I don’t want to overdo it and re-injure my knee, I didn’t run on Sunday like I had planned. Since I’ve been pretty consistent otherwise, I think that I’ll be fine to continue the training plan and be prepared to run a couple half marathons this fall. I REALLY miss racing, and can’t wait to get on the starting line again.

Running in Germany

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I have been enjoying some really great runs here in Bavaria. There are about six lakes right near the house we’re sitting that have paths all around them, and go on forever. One thing I’ve noticed about Germany (and Switzerland) is how accessible everything is for hikers/bikers/runners. There are paths everywhere, away from the road, and there are tons of people utilizing them. I didn’t really expect to be trail running while here, but it has turned into a really good thing. The paths are easier on my knees, there are hills so I can work on my form going up those, there are no cars around (except for one small portion of one trail, which I didn’t realize and almost got side swiped), there are cows everywhere, beautiful scenery, etc.

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My runs have been in the 4-6 mile range, and all of them have felt pretty good. A couple days this week were REALLY hot and humid (like 90 degrees, which I haven’t felt in years), and that was really a struggle. The day after we went hiking in the Alps was also tough; my legs felt like lead. But I have noticed progress in the past two weeks we’ve been here; at the beginning even my easy pace felt hard, but now I feel like I’m back to my old self… sort of. Yesterday I got up early (like 5 am early, I’ve been having sleeping problems from the heat), and got out on the trails before anyone else did. I broke lots of spider webs, so I knew I was the first one out. I really wanted to just run for a while and see where it took me, and that’s exactly what happened. I ended up doing 7.5 miles at a 10 min/mile pace, which was just fine by me. The weather was perfect, some bikers and hikers were out by the time I was finishing up, but overall I pretty much had the whole place to myself.

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IMG_6006 IMG_0083 I’m trying to work on getting my endurance back, without doing too much too soon. My knee has been fine, and fingers crossed it stays that way. Our travel plans are a little up in the air at the moment due to monetary concerns, but I’ve got my eye on a half marathon in September here in Europe that I really want to do. I would be bummed to go home before doing at least one race abroad. After that, assuming we’re home, I’m going to sign up for the Santa Barbara International Half Marathon on November 8, which I ran last year. I think that’ll be a nice welcome home for me. My goal is still to break two hours in the half marathon, and hopefully that’ll happen soon.

Still trying to be proactive about my knee - icing it with

Still trying to be proactive about my knee – icing it with frozen raspberries.

It’s going to be a bit tougher getting my runs in after we leave Germany since we’ll be going to bigger cities. It’s been so great having these paths right outside our door. We’re heading to Italy on Sunday and will be there for a good bit, and it’s already really hot there. So, I have to work on getting out of the house early, which will help with the traffic situation too. I’ve been looking up routes that I can run, and I try to book our accommodations close to parks so that I have easy access away from busy streets.

It’s been a lot harder staying in shape while traveling than I was anticipating, but I’ll save that for another post.

Happy Friday the Thirteenth! Jeremy and I are off to a monastery on a hill that brews delicious beer (we know it’s delicious because we went yesterday, too).

I ran! And Other Happenings

Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a nice weekend.

Well, I’m pretty thrilled because I went out for a nice and easy three-mile run earlier today to see how my knee felt, and it went better than I expected. I could feel the uncomfortableness occasionally (it’s not really sharp pains, just dull pains surrounding the kneecap), but for the most part it was smooth sailing. If I ran over a curb and used my left leg to jump up on it, I did experience some pain, but not too bad. This makes me SO happy. I knew I shouldn’t push it so I tried to go slowly (although it did seem like the slower I ran, the more pain I felt), but it was hard not to sprint since I was feelin so good. I did some strength training when I got done, and I’m going to ice and stretch tonight. I’ll probably rest again tomorrow, but I’m feeling hopeful that I can run my half in two weeks. Fingers crossed!

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Color coordinating.

I’ve been reading about runner’s knee, and the symptoms sound the same as mine. I remembered recently that when I was growing up, if I crouched down and tried to stand back up quickly, sometimes one of my knees would dislocate and it was super painful. I’d have to sit down and kind of wiggle my leg back into place and stand up slowly. This pain could be stemming from that, or just that my kneecaps have some issues. Rainy Writer let me know that there was a series on runner’s knee being written on Run Oregon blog, which was really helpful. I’m remaining optimistic that this won’t be a huge issue for me going forward, and that with strength training and taking good care of my body, I’ll be able to run forever.

Moving Along

On Thursday, Jeremy and I went out to lunch with a few coworkers (one of which was my brother), and we went to a restaurant at the Santa Barbara Harbor, which is always a treat. The running path I use for 98% of my runs goes by the harbor, and I love looking at the sailboats with the mountains in the background. SB sure is pretty.

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On Friday, Jeremy and I had to get ready for the garage sale we had with our neighbors. We live in a complex comprised of two duplexes, and we have become really close with our neighbors. It was a lot of fun (not just because of the mimosas we started drinking at 10am), and we had a dinner all together that night also. The sale went on both Saturday and Sunday, and Jeremy and I sold a TON of our stuff. It was definitely successful.

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Best neighbors in the universe.

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Garage saling.

After the sale was over on Saturday, Jeremy and I headed to the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens for an event a coworker organized. It was a beer festival showcasing local breweries, and a specific beer was selected to complement each section of the gardens. It was really interesting, and a lot of the flowers were beginning to bloom so it was beautiful.

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Learning about the redwoods.

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Local beer + redwoods.

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Magic hour at the Botanic Gardens.

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Food was desperately needed, and fish tacos did the trick.

The packing up of our apartment is coming along nicely (we have to be out by Friday), and I feel like we are pretty far ahead of where I normally am when I move (I notoriously leave everything to the last minute… something about the pressure makes me work faster). We can start moving stuff into our storage unit tomorrow. Which means that this is all really happening. And it’s happening VERY SOON. It is insane. I haven’t really let myself realize that we’re leaving town a week from Friday for who knows how long. It could be six months, could be a year, could be longer. I’m going to miss Santa Barbara and my family so much (I always do), but I’m extremely excited to get some adventures in. It’s been way too long.

A Breakthrough and Some Motivation

Well, I am quite proud of myself today. I got up this morning determined to have a good run after the past couple bad ones, and a good one was had for sure. Today was the first time in the history of my running that I had an average pace under 9 minutes!! I know that my fast pace is a million people’s real slow pace, but for me this is a huge victory. I guess taking it easy the last few days has helped. I had zero knee pain, and I was sort of uncomfortable at times since I was pushing more than I’m accustomed to, but for the most part it felt really good. At one point I had been running almost a mile at an 8:45 pace, and I thought to myself, this isn’t so bad. I will take this victory, and use it as confidence in myself during this weekend’s half, even though I’m going into it with no expectations, but just to enjoy it.

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!!!!!

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My reward this morning.

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It was such a nice way to start the day.

In other news, I’m pretty sure I was supposed to start my Runner’s World Challenge marathon training yesterday (it’s a four-month plan), and I still haven’t received anything. They are supposed to send me an email with my daily training plan every morning. I wrote them an email and haven’t heard back yet, and they never responded to one I sent a couple months ago, so that’s a little frustrating. I paid good money for this plan! Hopefully I’ll hear something soon.

And now, some motivation for your Tuesday, from The Luthas Corporation blog:

19 Hard Things You Need To Do To Be Successful

  • You have to make the call you’re afraid to make.
  • You have to get up earlier than you want to get up.
  • You have to give more than you get in return right away.
  • You have to care more about others than they care about you.
  • You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore.
  • You have to feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter.
  • You have to lead when no one else is following you yet.
  • You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is.
  • You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have.
  • You have to grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off.
  • You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option.
  • You have to search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts.”
  • You have to make mistakes and look like an idiot.
  • You have to try and fail and try again.
  • You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath.
  • You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you.
  • You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled.
  • You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong.
  • You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you.

Weekend Update

This weekend has been pretty lazy, which is really nice sometimes. It’s actually raining at the moment (!!!), so it’s nice to sit at the desk and watch the rain fall outside. Friday night, Jeremy and I went to get a beer at Telegraph Brewing Company. It’s a local brewery that opened up a tasting room recently, and all the fresh beers are inexpensive and delicious. We talked to a guy from Amsterdam for about an hour, and it was fun to talk to him about all his favorite things about his hometown. Georgia’s Smokehouse food truck was out front, and it was really tempting. It’s not healthy food, and since I don’t eat meat there’s not much for me on the menu, but it smelled good nonetheless. I wanted to hire them to cater our rehearsal dinner because of our Southern connection, but it didn’t work out. 

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After our beers, we headed to Whole Foods to get stuff for dinner to bring back to the apartment. We then watched Your Sister’s Sister, which we really enjoyed.

On Saturday, in between doing laundry, I went for a six-mile run. It really sucked. I was proud of myself though, because after doing three miles and just telling myself I should keep going since I took two days off, I realized that no, this is supposed to be fun and I’m really not enjoying myself. So I turned around and just finished the six. That night, we watched another movie, this time Prince Avalanche.

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This morning we met a friend at The Shop down the street, and had a delicious breakfast. Tonight I think we’re going to get some Thai food (we were inspired after doing research about traveling to Thailand), and meeting a coworker for a drink at our favorite bar. Nice and easy weekend, just like I like ’em. 

Oh yeah, I’ve also been trying to learn how to say some Icelandic phrases to prepare for our trip… hjálp!

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I also realized that I’m running a full marathon four months from today!!!! Which scares the crap out of me. Once again… hjálp!

Hope everyone had a nice weekend!