Running in Scotland

After finishing the race in Mexico (yes, I am THAT behind on blogs!) I had a few hours before I had to get to the airport and make my way to Scotland. Why Scotland? At work the new region I’m supporting was having their annual meeting at our European headquarters office, and it was a great opportunity for me to meet the country directors I’ll be working with now. Unfortunately it meant cutting our Mexico vacation a da      y short (well mine since I was flying directly to Scotland from Mexico…..Michael would be going back to Portland first) but on the flip side it meant another mini-vacation in Scotland! We were able to use frequent flier miles to have Michael fly out to join me at the end of my meeting in Scotland, and my boss approved me switching my original vacation day to the other end of the trip….and adding in that there was a holiday on that Monday, we got a long weekend!

The last time I was in Scotland, I was there for the Edinburgh Rock n Roll Half Marathon. (ps don’t look for the post on that race, I apparently never did one! such a slacker I am).

I had been in Nigeria for work and was able to work my flights out so that I could stop for a long weekend on my way back.  And because I have awesome friends who also like to travel, my two friends Amanda (yes, both named Amanda!) were also there.

The race itself was actually pretty miserable. I wasn’t in shape and it was rainy, windy and cold. But we finished! And from running an international Rock n Roll race and a domestic one, we got an extra medal! The “World Rocker” medal. Heck yeah, we rocked the world!!

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Amanda and I with both our Rock n Roll Edinburgh medals AND Rock n Roll World Rocker medal!!!

This time since there was no race, and I had just run the one in Mexico…correction, I had just ROCKED the one in Mexico, the running in Scotland this time was just for fun.  The hotel that we were staying at was in a great location close to everything, including a nice park, the Meadows which had a nice path all the way around and was full of runners, which was nice since I had to get up early to try to squeeze a run in before our meetings and it felt safer to be with others. That being said, it was a little weird….I couldn’t figure out which side of the path to be running on.  Since they drive on the other side of the road, do they also run on the other side?  I don’t know if there just wasn’t any “rule” of if there were so many random people running, there was no consistency. So I just kept to the right side as I’m used to and then if someone was coming towards me, I’d move!

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The next day, I decided to run around town a bit.  Edinburgh really is just a beautiful city….full of pubs! I tried counting the number of pubs I passed on my run, but lost count. Just too many! I ran up to the castle and then down to Holyrood Park and back. Holyrood Park was where the half marathon had started, so I remembered that part (although not particularly fondly!)

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Michael joined me for the last part of my meeting and then we stayed on for a long weekend.  While still in Edinburgh, we made a stop at the Camera Obsucra right near the castle. If you’re in Edinburgh, I highly recommend going! It was a ton of fun.

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We rented a car and drive up to the Highlands and back. Scotland is such an amazing country! And we visited Loch Ness which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go.

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On our way back to Edinburgh, we stopped off in one town to try to get lunch and had the hardest time finding a place to eat (strange!).  But we did find a mall, so figured that would be easiest to find something. And when we walked in, this was the first thing we saw!!!!  Still not sure why it’s TK instead of TJ but I instantly felt at home 🙂

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German Wine Road Half Marathon

After a great two week work trip in Jerusalem, it was time to head home. My itinerary originally included a required overnight in Frankfurt. Taking advantage of having a friend who lives in a town outside of Frankfurt, I emailed her to see if she was going to be in town and was free. Turns out she was! So I extended my layover to include one more night. Then….just out of curiosity I started looking around to see if there were any races nearby that weekend. And, as luck would have it, there was!!! And a really great one! The Deutsche Weinstrasse Half/Full Marathon (German Wine Road race). How could we not sign up for it?? Unfortunately since it was already so late, the half was already sold out, but there were still entries for the full, and there was a note that said that if you signed up for the full you could switch to the half around the 8.6 km point. So we signed up!

I arrived Saturday afternoon and after dropping my stuff off at my friend’s house, we headed to the expo to pick up our stuff. Thanks to the wonders of technology, we got a little lost but eventually found our way. We picked up our packet which included a bottle of wine (awesome!!! Can’t wait to try it out), a bunch of grapes shaped sponge (still trying to figure out the exact purpose for it….we saw some people who had it with them during the race either dunking it in water and using it to cool themselves off and then others squeezing water out of it to drink, and wine too!) There was also a bottle of some sort of other drink, which I took one sip snd spit it out, it was so disgusting! I don’t even know how to describe it….it was sort of like flat cola, a malt like drink, some lemon mixed in, and just, gross! There were some brochures for other races in Germany and then a few candies. It all came in a cute drawstring bag. They had the option to purchase a tech shirt for the race, which I did. I figured it’d be a great souvenir.

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The race was on Sunday, and didn’t start until 10am (thank goodness because daylight savings was in Germany on Saturday night! So we lost an hour of sleep that night). We got there with plenty of time. The atmosphere was great. A lot of music and people everywhere. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and looking forward to a great race.   The weather was perfect as well! Sun was shining, but it wasn’t too hot.

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The course itself was really pretty, but really hilly. We ran through a bunch of vineyards. I got some great pictures. We actually ended up walking most of the course. My friend is such a trooper! We had only signed up about a month before race day, so there was very little time to train. And not to mention she was still dealing with previous knee and other injuries. It was still a lot of fun. We got to enjoy the course and even stopped and had some wine at the water/aid stations along the way! I really do enjoy not having the pressure of “racing” and just running/walking the course instead. It is a different mindset and experience, but one I think I enjoy more. Granted – I say that now after being plagued with knee issues myself and having slowed down my pace a lot. Maybe that will change if I get my speed back 😉

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At the last point of the race, we were passed by one of the marathon runners. He had a funny long-billed hat on backwards and was running in a plastic fake butt!!! Once I saw it I had to run after him to catch up and take a picture! There were a few people in the crowd who saw me sprint after him and didn’t realize what the heck I was doing until they saw his “backside” as well! Then they started laughing as well. I think it’s great that people have a sense of humor.

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We crossed the finish line and heard our names announced (they even pronounced mine correctly!). We met up with my friend’s boyfriend and eventually sat down at a picnic table and enjoyed some beers and food. It was a beautiful day just to sit outside and hang out with friends.

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The medal itself is pretty neat too. It’s a bunch of grapes and the ribbon is the colors of the German flag. I can’t wait to hang it and the one from Jerusalem on my “Tracey Runs the World” medal hanger that I got for Christmas!   Two great (and appropriate!) additions.

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Jerusalem Half Marathon

I may have mentioned it before, but I am lucky enough to have a really awesome job.  I get to travel to interesting places that most people would never think of going (Iraq, Yemen….) and occasionally I’m able to squeeze in some fun on the way home.  This is even more important to me since I moved from DC (where I could easily fly to Europe for a long weekend) to Portland, here it seems like it takes an entire weekend just to get to Europe!!! I’ve been particularly lucky in being able to add on side trips to international race destinations in the past year (Edinburgh and Nice) and most recently (as in today!) Jerusalem. Well, actually, this time, Jerusalem was actually the destination for my work trip. 

The race itself was on a Friday.  And the race went quite well! Or at last it did once I got there. I woke up around 5:15-30ish, and went down to the lobby around 6 where I was expecting to see a bunch of the other runners I had seen at the hotel last night. Instead, it was dead quiet! Kind of weird. I realized I was cutting it a little close (race started at 6:45am), but figured I still had plenty of time.  So I asked the guy at the front desk to call a taxi.  He called, talked for a while, and then hung up and told me that no cabs could come because the roads were closed already for the race. I started to panic! The starting line was quite far from the hotel, and there would be no way I could walk there in time! It would probably be another half marathon just to get there! So I pleaded for him to call again or if there was anyone at the hotel who could get me at least somewhat close to the start. He called, talked for a little while again, and then hung up and said 5 minutes. I was so relieved! (although granted I didn’t really believe him to be honest).   But thankfully in about 5 minutes, a cab pulled up! I got in the front seat and was just so relieved that I didn’t even notice that there were 2 girls in the back seat at first! Turns out they were staying at a hotel nearby and were also going to the race!  I was seriously so happy.  The one girl was from Sweden and the other from Germany.  So we finally got as close to the start as we could and the cab dropped us off. It was nice to have someone to walk to the race with (and to take a picture of me at the start!)  They were nice girls who were also there for the race. Looking back I’m kicking myself for not exchanging info with them! Obviously they’re awesome girls who travel for races, so we should be friends 🙂

 

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 Anyways, I felt pretty good throughout the entire race. There were some serious hills though! Especially at the end. Talk about cruel. I’m just thankful I was only running the half and not the full.  We went through some neat neighborhoods and actually ran through part of the Old City. That was pretty neat.

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I ended up finishing the race much faster than I would have expected! I think I came in just around 2:10. Not too bad for not having really trained for it that much.  Afterwards, I walked around a bit seeing if I could find the girls from the taxi (hoping we could share a taxi on the way back!)  but no luck. I sat and stretched and enjoyed the sun for a bit, and then started trying to figure out how I was going to get home!!! I ended up walking to a hotel and found a cab, who charged me a crazy amount (well about $20, but it seemed crazy). And, I’m pretty sure he was crazy.  He was driving like a maniac, asking all sorts of questions, was mumbling to himself “why, why, why” anytime he something. And then we couldn’t get to my hotel because the roads were closed. So at one point he stopped, pointed and said, “there your hotel is up there. just walk up and it’ll be on the left”.  It didn’t look anywhere close to where I thought the hotel was, so I said fine, but I’m only going to pay you 50 (he wanted 80 ILS). Apparently that was unacceptable, so he ended up driving around again for about 10 minutes and then got to a point again where it was close, but not to the hotel. I told him I wasn’t going to pay the full amount because he didn’t take me to the hotel where we agreed on! He started throwing a fit. I ended up paying 75 just to get out.  I was sort of mad, and was trying to explain to him that I had just run for over 2 hours, the last thing I wanted to do was walk up a hill!!! He didn’t seem to care. Oh well, can’t win them all!

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Overall it was a great experience and I’m so glad I was able to run it!  It’s definitely not nearly as much fun doing a race alone as it is with friends, but sadly I wasn’t able to convince anyone to come with me for this one.  Maybe next time! Well, actually definitely next time! Next race is next weekend.  I have a mandatory layover in Frankfurt on my way home (it takes just about a weekend to get home from Europe too!).  I emailed my friend who lives near Frankfurt to see if she’d be in town (she will be!) so figured I’d extend my layover one day and see her. And then….I just happened to be looking at races, and saw that there was one that weekend, not far from Frankfurt!!! Talk about perfect! Unfortunately the half was already sold out, but we were able to sign up for the full and can switch to the half during the race. And if that wasn’t perfect enough, the race is in wine country in Germany! I’m so excited. Last time I visited my friend, we went to a beer festival, so it seems only appropriate to do something wine themed, and even better something win running too! We ran the Rock n Roll Las Vegas half in November to celebrate her birthday (again, another logistical coincidence that worked out great!) See the birthday girl in the middle (obviously!) and one of the best photobombs ever (guy in the American flag shorts to the right)

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More details and pictures of that race to come next week!

Tinkerbell Half Marathon

This past January I went to Disneyland! No really, I did 🙂  The trip originated from my friend Amanda’s 30th birthday just happening to fall on the day of the race.  So what better reason than to fly to California, dress up in costume and run a race?!?!  Of course I was in!

I had all sorts of great intentions of making a super costume, but of course life got in the way.  I was literally sewing my costume the night before the race in the hotel. But I got it done! I think it turned out pretty cute (I finally decided to be Snow White).  I had gone to Target the night before I left to try to find some last minute things, and in the toy department, in the Disney aisle, I found a super cute (and cheap!) Snow White purse.  As I was in the check out line, a woman behind me saw the purse in my basket and squealed, “Oh that is sooo adorable!  Who’s the lucky girl that is going to get that??”   I laughed and said, “Me!!!”  Her face changed from one of delight to confusion, so I explained to her what is what for.  Then she looked at me like I was crazy.  Oh well!

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Wow…..it’s been a while

So I realized that I haven’t posted anything in forever, and I am WAY behind in posting recaps from a ton of races.  I’m not sure when I’ll get around to doing that, so I figured I would just start from now, and try to keep up with things. And then….if I can find the time, I’ll go back and post at least a brief recap of the past races and running adventures!

But the most recent adventure….running in Iraq. Yes, Iraq. I’ve been here for just about 2 weeks now, and have one more to go. So far I’ve  been able to squeeze in two runs. Unfortunately, both were very boring runs. Given the security situation, we’re not really allowed to just go out and run wherever we want.  So, my two runs were both running “laps” around the apartment complex where I’m staying. Each lap is about 1k.  Today I was able to manage 5k.  It wasn’t so much that I was tired or my legs couldn’t take it….it was more that it was just so boring. And with it being such a short loop I never felt like I was able to get into a groove. Oh well. But….it’s better than nothing!  Especially since I have 3 half marathons coming up in the next two months (so much for my New Year resolution of not signing up for a lot of races this year!  In the past week I’ve signed up for 3 new ones! Oops).

Here are some pictures of the route here in Iraq.

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Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon

A few months ago, my friend Liz (the same girl who I ran my first race ever with) told me that she and her husband had signed up to run their first marathon in June. She followed that up with saying that she was looking to do a half marathon sometime around March/April, and would I be interested. Silly question, of course! Except that this friend lives in DC and I’m on the complete opposite side of the country. So we started looking into some options that would be convenient for both of us….and we found one! The Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon in Kentucky. Not only did it look like a great race, it would be a new state for me and my friend had someone we could visit and stay with.  Sounded perfect! So we signed up.

I ended up getting to Lexington Friday morning and had all day to explore before Liz and her husband arrived later that evening. After stopping by the expo to pick up our packets (and the commemorative bottle of bourbon that they had offered for sale!) I drove around the countryside, stopping at a few of the bourbon distilleries since I was in the neighborhood. I didn’t bother taking the tour since I had already done that during the great RV Bourbon tour of 2009 with friends (an awesome time!)  I headed back to the hotel to take a nap before Liz and Bill were to arrive. Unfortunately I got a message from them that their flight was late! Their direct flight from DC was so delayed that at the end they could have driven there faster! But they eventually made it, at some point after 10:30 I think. So we went down to the hotel bar, grabbed some food and drinks and caught up.

Fortunately the race didn’t start until 9am, so we got to sleep in a bit.  The race director had warned everyone to leave a bit earlier to avoid back-ups due to the construction on the main highway leading to the race. We left about 45 minutes in advance thinking that should give us plenty of time to drive the 5 or so miles there, and stop for breakfast. The breakfast option were pretty limited. We ended up stopping at the most random grocery store ever. We were looking for something simple, like a granola bar…but none were to be found. We finally settled with a bunch of muffins and some bananas.  Then we continued our way. Shortly after leaving the grocery store, we came to a standstill. Traffic was backed up so far! Fortunately we could tell that most of the people in the cars were runners, so there was the hope that the race would be delayed a little bit so that everyone could get there in time. We actually ended up getting there with a few minutes to spare – but then had to stand around for about 10 minutes while they waited for others. It was a bit chilly but at least the sun was out and it wasn’t raining.

Finally the race started! We were off. It was a gorgeous day and a gorgeous course. Within the first few miles we saw a couple dressed up, one as a horse and the other as a jockey. Very appropriate given where the race was being held (it started and ended right at Keeneland, where the horse races are held!)  They were in good spirits, although you could tell they were starting to warm up a bit now that they were running and the sun was coming out.

The course was full of rolling hills, something that neither Liz nor I had realized since we didn’t really even consider looking at the elevation map (mental note – be sure to do that for all future races).  The hills definitely made it challenging but we seemed to stay with a group who was perfectly fine with taking it easy (walking) up most of the hills and running the rest of the way. Everyone was in good spirits and super friendly.  I was wearing my Fueled by Fine Wine race shirt and got a lot of comments on it.

There were tons of horses all along the course. Some of them seemed to be running along with us. Others seemed to be watching us wondering what the heck was going on!

At one point as we were running there was a little jack Russell just sitting in the middle of the course with the cutest look on his face. Then he bravely started running against the crowd! Kind of have to wonder where he was going and who he was looking for.

After what seemed like a million and two hills, we finally made it to the finish line. The friend, Jenny, that we would be staying with that night was at the finish line with her son. So great to have fans in the crowd! We got our medals (pretty cute!) and some goodies (chocolate milk, bananas, M&Ms) and made our way to see Jenny and head back to the crowd to see Bill cross the finish line. Poor guy this was the farthest he’d ever run in his life…..and probably the hilliest!  But he did great.Image

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We all sat down and recovered for a bit, took one look at the long beer line and decided to call it a day!  Overall a great race, although a bit hilly.