Not too long ago I was complaining about what a lousy rainy summer we’d been having in Bremen, so of course this past week we got slammed with a late August heat wave. Certainly makes my training more interesting having to factor in whether it will be too hot to do my usual evening runs. But I’m not complaining — I love finally putting all of my summer dresses to good use (which until now have only seen the light of day when I was traveling in Istanbul, New York and DC). Anyway, on to my training…
Monday: Unplanned rest day. I ended up skipping out on my cross-training completely so I could spend the evening preparing for something important taking place on Tuesday.
Tuesday:4.5-mile easy run. I was full of adrenalin by the time I made it home from work, but unfortunately it didn’t carry over into speediness so I just kept things relaxed.
Wednesday:Planned rest day.
Thursday: Unplanned rest day. Wow, the temperatures were still near 90 by the time evening rolled around, so I postponed my run until the next morning.
Friday:3-mile easy run. Morning is really not my best time for running, but sometimes you’ve got no other choice!
Saturday: 4-mile pace run + 15 minutes strength training. Ideally I would be running these at the pace I want to run my half marathon. That isn’t happening yet, but I pushed the pace as much as I could given the temperature and was happy with the results.
Sunday: 9-mile long run. Oh man, this was rough. My legs were sore from the strength training and I overslept so it was already 80 degrees Fahrenheit by the time I made it out the door (and 88 degrees by the time I made it home). I kept it as easy as possible, drinking nearly a liter of water along the way, and taking the shadiest paths I know of. It was still pretty miserable, but I kept reminding myself that these miles will earn me a lot of interest in my running bank!
That’s it for this week! The good: I got in all of my miles and even did some strength training. The bad: Missed my cross-training and didn’t do my speed training. But now that things are getting calmer at work, I’m looking forward to really dedicated my energy to these last few weeks of training before the Bremen Half Marathon on October 2nd!
Seems like every time I blogged about how much fun I’d had at the Hamburg InstaMeets and InstaWalks, I always wished that Bremen would host one too. Well, wishes do come true sometimes! Hosted by Bremen Tourism, 25 Instagrammers had the chance to take a walk through the city, photographing Bremen’s treasures and tagging our photos with #InstaWalkBremen. Although we visited the Hansestadt‘s most well known corners, our guide made sure to tell us plenty of little known facts (nearly all of which I’ve promptly forgotten).
We started at the statue of Roland in Bremen’s main square before walking over to the Bremen Cathedral. From there we made our way to the Schnoor, the city’s oldest neighborhood dating back to the 10th century when it was a fishermen’s district. Today you can wander the narrow lanes, lined on either side by crooked, charming houses from the 15th to the 18th centuries. We then walked to the Schlachte waterfront promenade — which used to serve as the city’s harbor — and up along to Böttcherstraße — which is a street only 100 meters long showcasing beautiful architecture from the 1920s and 1930s.
We ended our InstaWalk in Haus Atlantis’s Himmelsaal, climbing an Art Deco staircase made of concrete and glass up to the sky room with a fantastic display of blue and white lights. This was hands down my favorite part of the walk — I didn’t even know it existed!
What a great afternoon! I met a lot of great Bremen Instagrammers and still have more than a handful of photos that I haven’t posted on Instagram yet, but they’ll definitely make their way into my feed. The walk was also covered in the local press — see if you can spot me in a few pictures here and here.
Think it sounds like fun? They are already planning a number of other InstaWalks in other parts of the city, so keep an eye on the City of Bremen’s social media channels for more info!
Have you ever taken part in an InstaWalk or InstaMeet? What did you like most about it?
I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of time for words right now, which actually makes it a perfect time to chime in about August Break 2016, organized by Susannah Conway. It’s about taking a bit of a break from writing and instead focusing on the visual, specifically in the form of daily photo prompts. I don’t follow the prompts every day, but they do serve as a relaxed sort of inspiration for my Instagram feed — I also participated in 2013, 2014, and 2015 — which is the perfect sort of inspiration, in my book. So here are few snapshots of August so far…
There are still a few more days left in August (thank goodness!), so I’ll be back towards the end of the month with more photos. Or if you can’t wait, follow me directly on Instagram!
Yesterday afternoon I was glued to the screen for the entire women’s Olympic marathon from start to finish via livestream. Need some extra motivation for your own training? I highly recommend watching elite runners compete, especially under difficult conditions like the high temperatures and humidity in Rio. The US team was a power house, with Shalane Flanagan, Des Linden, and Amy Cragg coming in 6th, 7th, and 9th — I think it’s best US performance ever as a team. And I was totally floored that Germany’s top finisher Anja Scherl (44th place with 2:37:23) — who qualified for the Olympics with a third place finish in the same Hamburg Marathon that I ran — has a full-time desk job and trains for marathons on evenings and weekends. Amazing! (There are no excuses, I guess.)
So, what did my week of training for the Bremen Half Marathon look like? The distances and cross-training workouts are slowly on the increase…
Monday: 40-minutes on the stationary bike. This is definitely not my favorite form of a workout, but my legs did feel like jelly afterwards, so I suppose it’s having the intended effect.
Tuesday:4-mile easy run + 15-minutes strength training.
Wednesday:Planned rest day. Time for my monthly massage, yay!
Thursday: Unplanned rest day. Another long work day trying to meet a deadline.
Friday:Speed training. 10 minutes warm-up, 7 x 400m, 10-minutes cool down. I’m getting closer and closer to my target pace here, so it seems like I’m doing something right. Maybe by my next speed session in two weeks, I’ll make it (although the number of repeats increases every time, making it more difficult).
Saturday: Easy 30-minute run. How can you tell when you overdo a training run? When your easy run the next day feels like death. Yeah, I was definitely dragging.
Sunday: 8-mile long run. My GPS didn’t kick in until about half-an-hour into my run (seems like a pattern), so I just relied on my pre-measured route. Legs were definitely still tired and my shoulders and arms were stiff because the day before I hauled my new end table up all of the steep steps up to my 3rd floor apartment. But I powered through and enjoyed some good foam rolling afterwards while watching the Olympic marathon.
All in all: I’m happy with my mileage and hitting all of my planned workouts. I’m still not a fan of bunching up the majority of my runs over the weekend, but I guess it’s better than not getting them in at all. Same story as last week with my strength training — I’m gonna keep trying to get them in!
Which Olympic events are your favorites? Did you watch yesterday’s marathon?
After a few days in DC with friends, I traveled up for a few more days in New York City. My six years of living there seemed like an eternity at the time, but now I’ve officially been in Germany a couple years longer than I ever was in New York — kind of a strange thought. Even so, NYC is still one of my very favorite places to be. Even just driving into the city felt like home to me. Every time I go back, it’s this bittersweet noticing of how much is exactly as it’s always been and how much is constantly changing. Yeah, life.
In any case, I didn’t have too much planned for my days there — I just wanted to visit some of my favorite haunts, hang out with good friends, go running, and get some shopping done (of course). I stayed with a friend on the Upper (upper) West Side (thanks, Sara!), which put me just steps away from an old favorite, Absolute Bagels — everything bagels toasted with butter, for life — and offered up two favorite running routes: Riverside Park and Central Park.
One afternoon I wandered through Park Slope, where I lived for four years — walking past my old apartment building, buying coffee beans at Gorilla Coffee, and picking up some goodies at the Chocolate Room. Ah, the nostalgia! Fittingly enough, I was on my way to have dinner with my good friend and old Park Slope roommate and her family, who now live not so far from our old place.
Before meeting some friends in the Village for lunch one day (at Quantum Leap, of course), I had some extra time and coincidentally passed by NYU’s Deutsches Haus — which is where my learning of the German language all began! Wow, how life has changed since those days, right? On my way back uptown, I walked along Christopher Street and remembered that just days before, Obama had declared the Stonewall Inn a national monument — just a couple of weeks after the Orlando shooting.
Another afternoon I spent at the Cooper Hewitt’s Design Triennial Exhibit: Beauty. I didn’t remember until I was in the building that I’ve visited the museum before — the former Carnegie mansion definitely makes an impression! The exhibit features over 250 design objects organized into seven themes of beauty: extravagant, intricate, ethereal, transgressive, emergent, elemental, and transformative. It was all gorgeous and fascinating! I highly recommend making a visit — but hurry, because it’s only open until August 21st.
If you go back and read my post about my last trip to NYC in 2012, you’ll probably notice some similarities — especially where food is concerned! I didn’t go to Blue Ribbon Sushi this time around, but made up for it with lots of good Mexican food. All in all, it was a wonderful and relaxed visit and I’m already looking forward to next time!
New York City: yay or nay? What’s your favorite bagel combination?
Week 4 was definitely a much stronger week of training for the Bremen Half Marathon, even though a lot of it got pushed towards the weekend. My legs are aching and I’m totally in the training mindset now — I love finding that fine balance between challenging yourself without destroying yourself for the next day’s run. My paces still aren’t anywhere near where they would need to be for a personal best at the race, so I’m going to need to keep pushing myself a little harder. But all in all, I’m pretty satisfied.
Monday: 40 minutes swimming. I thought I might die of boredom before finishing 40 minutes, so I counted my laps to keep myself occupied (550 meters total). I’m ridiculously slow, but always end up exhausted afterwards, so I guess that’s all that matters!
Tuesday:Planned rest day. Skyping with my parents in Seattle, which is a nine-hour time difference.
Wednesday:Easy 3.5-mile run through the Bürgerpark.
Thursday: Unplanned rest day. An 11-hour workday kind of destroyed my will to run.
Friday:35-minute tempo run. 10 minutes warm-up, 15-minutes tempo, 10-minutes cool down. I was actually pretty pleased with my pace for the tempo, and hope that it keeps dropping over the next weeks.
Saturday: Easy 3.5-mile run + 15 minutes strength training. One of those runs where you’re happy to be alive and all is right with the world.
Saturday: 7-mile long run. My GPS didn’t kick in until about half-an-hour into my run, so thank goodness I measured out the route pretty accurately in advance. I felt pretty good despite having tired legs from the two previous days.
All in all: I’m happy I hit all four days of running and one day of cross-training. I would really love it if I didn’t have to run on Saturday, but I guess I’ll take what I can get there. I need to also be more disciplined about getting my strength training in — I know it makes me a better runner and keeps me injury free. My strategy for this week will be 15 minutes after each run during the week — regularly enough to be effective, but short enough so that I don’t talk myself out of it because of lack of time.
If you’re a book geek like me, you definitely know the social networking site Goodreads. It’s where I keep track of all of the books on my LONG to-read list and how I decide what to read next based on reviews from friends. I also love the feature where you set a reading goal at the beginning of the year, and keep track of whether you’re ahead of or behind your goal — kind of like those summer reading challenges in elementary school, but for adults!
Anyway, since we’re already way into the second half of the year, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the books I’ve read so far on my way to 20 for 2016…
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This book was a huge revelation for me and a wonderful way to start off the year. Finally an acknowledgment of the inherent strengths of introverts, instead of suggesting that they should just try to be more extroverted. In so many ways I felt like Cain was looking right into the heart of me — what a breath of fresh air! This book has inspired me to both recognize and cultivate my introverted strengths. A very insightful read!
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Oh man, this memoir tore my heart out. If you read the mega-successful blog A Cup of Jo, then you know that Paul was Joanna’s brother-in-law. After receiving a diagnosis of stage IV lung cancer in his mid-thirties, Paul wrote down his thoughts and struggles with his own mortality. Being both a neurosurgeon and a philosopher, his words are particularly moving, and so is knowing that he died during the writing of the memoir. Since I mostly read during my commute, this book left me constantly in tears on the train.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. More of an elongated essay than a book, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t read this! A quote from it: “Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. Of all the books I’ve read so far this year, this is above and beyond the best. It takes place in a small village in Chechnya, spanning 1994 to 2004 during the first and second Chechen wars. It tells the hopeless story of Sonja and Akhmed trying to keep a little girl safe from the Russians, in an abandoned hospital where they are the only doctors remaining. Beautifully written, it’s about sacrifices and compromises in devastating circumstances.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Written as a letter to his teenage son, this book is a must read for everyone who wants to have a meaningful discussion about race in America.
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’ve never read any of Gilbert’s other books, so I didn’t have any real expectations for this one. The story focuses on Alma Whittaker, a well-to-do botanist in 19th century Philadelphia and her quest for love and fulfillment. I did find it entertaining, even if it wasn’t my favorite book ever.
All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu. I really wanted to like this book more than I did. It flips constantly between the the story of two friends during civil war in Uganda, and when one of those friends is placed in the American Midwest as a refugee. Although I really loved reading about the city of Kampala, where I lived for a year after college and could picture vividly in my head, everything else in the book just kind of fell flat for me.
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I absolutely loved Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, so I had high expectations for this book. While Cloud Atlas had just the right mixture of reality and the fantastical to be entertaining, the Bone Clocks just seemed way too over the top for me. I never could quite reach the suspension of disbelief necessary for the story, so I couldn’t let myself sink fully into the book.
Submission by Michel Houellebecq. A friend of mine read this book and was so shaken by it that another friend and I immediately read it as well. Set in Paris in 2022 while the Socialist party and the Muslim Brotherhood join forces to defeat the rightist National Front. It’s told from the perspective of an apathetic, middle-aged professor without any real principles to speak of. Over the course of the story, he gradually gives into the drastic social and political changes necessary to secure a comfortable life for himself. There is so much about this book that is upsetting and uncomfortable, which alone is a good enough reason to give it a read.
So I’m about half way to my goal of 20 for 2016! Currently I’m in the middle of Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. What have you been reading lately?