Europe 2014: Munich

Last year, as I have mentioned, I rewarded myself with a trip to Europe after passing my exams for work. I never really got around to posting anything, as that time in my life was quite busy! The trip was very last minute, but all I knew was that I wanted to do something active. I narrowed it down to Argentina, Peru and the Alps, but didn't make my final decision until about three weeks before I left, which is totally not like me. I finally decided on an Alpine vacation, since September was the perfect time of year for hiking in the Alps.

I started off my trip with a pit stop in New York for Labor Day to visit with my parents. After having a great time wandering, running and eating with them, I headed East once again, this time to Frankfurt, Germany. Why Frankfurt, you ask? Well, it's a long story, but basically it was much cheaper to fly to Frankfurt and take the train to wherever I wanted than to fly to where I wanted. So, Frankfurt it was! I took the red eye, which put me into Frankfurt in the morning. I immediately found a train to Munich, and had a very enjoyable train ride southward. I arrived in Munich in the late morning and although I was quite tired, I had a quick coffee, grabbed my camera, and headed out to see what I could find.


The best part about Munich was all of the fresh fruit stands, beer stands/halls, the bikes and the bakeries. Don't get me wrong, there were a ton of awesome buildings and of course there was the Glockenspiel, but I really enjoyed the laid back biking atmosphere and the smell of fresh bread. I got my fill of it all, literally and figuratively, and then headed to the Lidl, which is the European grocery store, for some supplies for the next day. Perhaps my kilo to pound conversion is off a bit, but it seemed like the fruit there was really cheap! 


Fruit Stand

I went to bed around 8 pm and woke up the next day around 7 am very refreshed. Take that, jet lag! The first thing I did was to take a nice run around town. The funny thing was that it seemed like there were no other runners out. I saw two other people the entire time I was running, which was about 6 miles. I ran up to the English Gardens (Englischer Garten) which is a huge park. The coolest part of that was that there were surfers in the waterways! I guess that is one way to get your surf on when you don't have an ocean nearby!

Picnic Lunch

English Garden Surfers

After my run, I had a nice breakfast of bread, cheese, cold cuts and fruit and I boarded a train headed south towards Austria.

Have you ever been to Germany? What is the price of an apple per pound where you live? Do you eat out when traveling or do you picnic?


Monday, Fun Day

Dear Monday -- Please go away. You are not as fun to play with as Saturday.

Dear Sleep -- Why have you abandoned me? We had such a great time on Friday night, but last night, you were gone.

Dear August -- You are so far away but you are already full. Why does it seem like everything happens all in the same month? I am looking forward to you but dreading you at the same time.

Dear Hair -- Today we will part ways. I am not sure how it will turn out, but I am sure that most of you will be gone.

Dear Running -- I miss you.

Dear California -- Your weather has been great and I love it. However, we really, REALLY need some rain. I would gladly sacrifice a few nice days now for good fruit prices later on!

Dear Toilet -- Why are you running?

Dear Closet full of work shirts -- Why don't any of you fit any more? Did I get taller or did you get shorter? I think it's time for you to be replaced.

Dear Readers -- who do you want to write a letter to today?


Lazy List Day

I am taking the lazy way out today and copying one of my favorite bloggers by doing a quick recap of the week, TGIF style.

The highlight of my week was my extra day off on Monday. I went for a leisurely run and it was a beautiful day and the sun was shining and I couldn't have asked for a much better day. Except if the day included a breakfast with thick cut bacon, an avocado bubble tea and a few really good craft beers, which Monday did include!

The low point of my week was a sickness that has taken hold of me. It started with an overall achy feeling and a minor sore throat and blossomed into a can-barely-swallow or concentrate kind of thing with a side of headache and exhaustion. It's really put a crimp in my running style, which was not really doing very well in the first place. 

The best book I read was probably Orange is the New Black. I am currently also reading Wonder and Behind the Beautiful Forevers, which are both really good so far.

This week's workouts were not super great. As I mentioned in the "low point" section, I have been sick for most of the week. Luckily I did get a chance to go hiking on Saturday and snowshoeing on Sunday, as well as my leisurely run on Monday. Other than that, I have been lying pretty darn low, workout wise.

The best money I spent was a on a lot of good food and a couple of new beers on Monday! I tried a 7 Seas Rude Parrot IPA, the Maritime Jolly Roger Christmas Ale and the Fremont Triple Trifecta.

My plans this weekend include some trail runs (hopefully) if I am not too sick, a lot of reading and relaxing if I am, and a bunch of errands, such as grocery shopping and cleaning.

What are your plans this weekend? What good books have you read lately?


Jed Smith 50k

Last year, after running the Jedediah Smith 50k, I said to myself that I probably would not run this race again and that I would rather, "sit in the sun and drink beer and watch everyone else run by me 6 times." Unfortunately, this year it was supposed to rain, so I signed up for the race again.

It is a 4.9 mile loop on the American River Bike Path that you do 6 times, plus a little out and back at the beginning to bring the total up to 31 miles. However, as I mentioned in this post, it is the first Pacific USA Track and Field (PAUSATF, otherwise known as "PA") race of the year, and after having some down time in December, it's fun to get the season started, to see some of your racing buddies, and to get the legs moving.

The course is set up so that the start/finish line is in the parking lot of the park, so you can park your car and open up the back and have a personal "aid station" right there in the parking lot. That is what we did.

Car Aid Station and Finish Line Party

Although it was supposed to rain the entire morning, it actually only sprinkled on us a few times. It was also very warm and humid, as opposed to last year, when it was quite chilly! Since I had sprained my ankle a few weeks back and was still taking it easier on myself, I went into this race with the attitude that I would just run it at a steady easy pace and that if I felt ANY pain, I would stop and walk or just not finish at all. It's not worth injuring myself worse just to finish a silly race.

The first out and back was fun, as you see everyone in front of and behind you. It is about a mile and a half long in total. It got back to the start line in 13:19.  Then the loops start....

Loop 1 and 2 (58:13 and 44:31 / 8:49 and 9:05/mi): I ran both of these with a friend, and we kept up an easy conversation as we ran along. These miles went by quickly, until she stopped to go to the restroom and I carried on.

Loop 3 (44:09 / 9:01/mi): I put on my headphones in order to dull the boredom. I got lapped by two of the lead runners at the beginning of this loop. I remember thinking that last year I was nearer to the end of this loop when they lapped me.

Loop 4 (45:44 / 9:20/mi): My headphones died, leaving me with nothing. I kept getting passed by the lead runners, and it was fine, but it did keep reminding me that I was not running as fast as I should be.

Loop 5 (46:52 / 9:34/mi): As I started this loop, my ankle was starting to feel a little stiff. It wasn't really in pain, but I was starting to baby it, and this caused the other side of my foot to start to ache. On top of this, the fact that I hadn't run in three weeks was catching up to me. I told myself that if I could just finish this last loop, which would take me to a marathon distance, in less than 4 hours, I would walk the last loop. I got to the end of the fifth loop at 3:59.

Loop 6 (53:24 / 10:54/mi): As I neared the end of loop five, a friend said to me, "hurry and finish so you can have some soup", and in my mind I was thinking that I really could not wait, but on the other hand, now I was going to walk! I started to walk along and in my mind I was doing running math: if I walked a 15 minute mile, it would take me about an hour and 15 minutes to get to the end; if I ran a 10 minute mile, I could be done in 50 minutes. So I started to run once again.

A bit of a puddle

I finished in 4:52, which is about a half an hour slower than last year. However, I felt pretty good, aside from some soreness in the bottoms of my feet, which haven't been used as much lately as they normally have. I came in 4th in my age group. What I didn't know is that I was only 1 minute behind the 3rd place girl and 3 minutes behind 2nd place. If only I hadn't walked on that last lap!

The best part about the race was that we sat around afterward eating and drinking beers and watching everyone else come in and it only rained on us a little bit. I used to head home right after I raced, but one of the things I have learned over the years is that we don't run these for the race itself; we run them for the after party!

So, another Jed Smith in the books. Will I run it again? I want to say no, but the answer is probably yes.

Have you ever repeated a race? Do you stay after races or do you go home right away? 


Looking Back: January

Although January is a symbol of a new year, and you can essentially wipe clean the slate and start over, it is still one of  my least favorite months. Luckily I live in a place without snow or extreme cold, which means I am still able to go outside each day to run or hike, but for some reason, I am always a little bit glad when the month is over.

Running: The month started off great, with a New Year's day run with friends, a marathon Fat Ass on the first weekend, and many other great days out on the trails. Since I am training for a few upcoming races, I am supposed to be running roughly 50 - 60 mile weeks, and I was on track for that. Unfortunately, mid month I sprained my ankle and was unable to run for the last couple of weeks of the month. I ended up with about 189 miles for the month (out of approximately 275 total planned miles).

Reading: Due to not running as much, it allowed me to step up my reading game a bit. In January I read 5 books. Actually, all of them were pretty good! My favorite was probably The Tipping Point (4 stars). The other four were:

China Dolls (4 stars) 
Little Big Lies (3 stars)
Goodnight June (4 stars)
Astray (4 stars)

Traveling: I went up to visit my parents for MLK weekend and had a great time hiking and exploring and playing board games with them. I even took the dog and she had so much fun running around off leash, acting like a dog. We also had a salamander hunt, ate Mickey Mouse waffles and ran a few miles on the snowy PCT. In addition to that, I went up to Sonoma county to see the Styx in concert. I haven't seen so many cougars in spandex pants all in one place in a long time!

Exploring with Mom, Dad and Emi

Misc: I was dogsitting a lot in January, so in addition to my running miles, I probably walked an additional 20 miles just by walking the dog twice a day. Also, since I could not run, I took advantage of a sunny day and took a really nice long bike ride around town. It was a lot of fun, although I may need to buy some of those funny padded shorts if I am going to do long rides in the future! My tush was sore the next day!

Alameda bike ride

How was your January? Did it go by quickly or slowly? What is your least favorite month of the year?


The Kick Off

This weekend kicks off a new season of racing that I thought I was ready for but now I am not so sure. (You thought I was going to be talking about football, didn't you?) Last year, I started off the season with the same race as I will this year, the Jed Smith 50k. I remember last year thinking after I had finished that I was, "never going to run this race again." It is roughly a 5 mile loop on pavement that you run 6 times in order to get to 50k (31 miles). However, it's amazing what 9 or 10 months will do, because I signed up again this year. However, I have been nursing an ankle injury, so I may just go sit on the sidelines and cheer.

In addition to Jed Smith, there are a few key races I will be doing this year that I am really looking forward to.

- Gorge Waterfall 100k: This race is close to Portland, in the Columbia Gorge area near Cascade Locks. I have been hiking in the area before and so I know that it is beautiful. The course has a ton of waterfalls on it as well; you can see them in this video by the Ginger Runner (go to about 2 min. to see the course). It is an out and back with about 12,000 ft. of elevation. I am looking forward to it, as I am traveling up there with some friends and we have rented an airbnb in the Hawthorne district of Portland and we will stay for a couple of days in addition to the race. I am really hoping it does not rain though! 

- Lake Sonoma 50MThis race is one of those that always brings the big names. It is an out and back with about 10,500 ft of elevation gain. It is also a Montrail Ultra Cup race, meaning that the top two men and women qualify for an entry into Western States. Last year the top men were Zach Miller, Rob Krar and Sage Canaday. This year there are some good local boys such as Alex Varner and Dylan Bowman. These men will finish in about 6 hours, whereas I will be hanging out about 4 hours behind them. However, it will be fun to be part of such an important race. (This is a good video of the 2014 race by Billy Yang).

- Tahoe Rim Trail 100M: Yes, I did it; I signed up for a hundred mile race. Am I nervous? You betcha. I know I can finish, unless something goes horribly wrong, but I would like to do well. I know it is my first hundred, so my goal should really just be to FINISH. However, I would like to finish well under the 35 hour cut off time if possible. This will be a great race; I have done the 50M before, and the 100M is two 50 mile loops starting at about 7,000 ft. with a max elevation of about 9,500 ft. and a total gain of about 20,000 ft. There will be literally dozens of people there who I know, which I feel will be good motivation to keep moving. This race will be like a huge all night party with all of my friends.

In addition to these, there will be smaller, local races thrown in the mix, as well as times when I will be crewing and pacing friends for their big events. All in all, it is shaping up to be a great racing season and I cannot wait to kick it off!

Do you have any big races on the calendar this year? Will you travel for them or do you normally stay closer to home? If you are not a runner, what big plans do you have for weekend trips this summer?