Training begins and racecation news

First international racecation is booked! I’ve been vaguely aware of Zooma from MCM Mama Runs and Wendy (? I think) when she posted about Great Lakes, but when MCM & Marcia posted about Bermuda, it went from vaguely aware to ooh! Bermuda is one of those places I’ve always thought about going but never acted on, so I’m glad running gave me a reason. Can’t wait to meet some of you.

As I think I mentioned, a colleague and I ended up signing up for Jack Rabbit’s Rogue Training. It’s reasonably priced at $85/month, or about $10/run. The best part is the schedule (6:45p Wednesday, 8a Saturday) works for me in that I can make almost all of them.  The 15% discount on non-electronics is great too as JackRabbit’s stock is more extensive than the New Balance store at NYRR.  Workouts began last Saturday but I was out of town so picked up with the group on Wednesday. More on that below.

I’m calling June 19 the official start of marathon training as that’s when I started with the group. To keep myself accountable, I’m also donating $1/mile to the Joyful Heart Foundation. Although I have my own bib, I still wanted to run for a cause. It’s always one of those I donate to regularly, and wanted to tie my marathon fundraising to it. Since I don’t know if my legs are going to reliably hold up to Sunday’s recovery run, I’m calling Saturday the end of the week for mileage tracking.

Not post related at all, but I read a really interesting post about “bad” race recovery. Some really good and out of the box advice.

Weekly Run Down with Deborah and Kim:

  • never miss a Monday: strength training edition. This was TBD cross or strength but when I walked into the gym, the decision was made. If there was AC, it was at 1% and it was way too humid for that nonsense. So full PT and weights cycle and some yoga.
  • Tuesday: treadmill was the plan. Drinks with colleagues was the reality so I walked home after.
look at that pace!
  • Wednesday: Rogue training day 1. I was super nervous about this. Mostly about keeping up with the group. The delayed start for latecomers and then dynamic stretches in the Time Warner Center did not help the anxiety. The prescribed run

Runners will do 2 miles of warm-up then 8-10 strides on a ~100m section of road or track. Then, runners will cool down for 2 or 3 miles to finish the workout. Runners will build their speed for 1/3, hold it for 1/3, and then coast to a stop letting off the gas in the final 1/3. In that middle 1/3, runners will reach ~90% of peak speed in a controlled sprint. Runners will walk back to the start after each stride and repeat. Walk, not jog the recoveries back to the start b/c we want full neuromuscular recovery.

  • the actual run was more like a .5 mile warmup to the Mall because they were worried about the weather and moved the Strides from the bridle path at Engineers’ Gate to the Mall which is paved v. gravel. The strides were a challenge, but not an impossible one. If my Garmin is right, I actually hit something resembling fast. Holy crap though I cannot imagine running at that speed for a 5K let alone a marathon. We then ran the “long way” out via Bethesda Terrace and down the east side before finishing at Columbus Circle. We finished with some fun foot exercises before dispersing. I followed this with a stint at the gym to stretch and do more of my PT. There are two others who are about my speed which gives me some comfort as I definitely could not do the 9:40 warmup that the main group did. I guess this could be called my first proper speedwork?
runset!
so thankful for a tub!
  • Thursday: holy soreness Batman! Did not expect that from the strides. Mother Nature finally sorted herself out for a moment and I squeezed in a 3.5 mile recovery run before the skies opened again. Oddly I had no plans of running near home. In fact when I forgot my sneakers this morning I came home between meetings to get them because I thought I’d need to run in the gym and if I went home first it wouldn’t happen. But when the skies cleared it was too late to stash at NYRR and I knew lockers would be full so I hopped on the train and changed quickly before dashing back out. The coaches last night emphasized recovery runs being slow, I think I took that to heart. Also, 90% humidity. When I picked this apartment I was indifferent to a tub. Now? I can’t imagine running without it. I’ve hopped between brands but this is my favorite, I love the eucalyptus.
you are not an XL
  • Friday: off. Lots of steps, some shopping and a sunset ferry ride. I went to see if I could exchange the Pride tee shirt for smaller, but they were out. I did find this shirt hiding among the Queens 10K clearance! The sizing was stupid, but I bought it anyway because I really love it.
  • Saturday: first long run with the group. We met at JackRabbit just before 8 and after an icebreaker and dynamic warmups we hit the park. The coach said at the beginning that as it got warmer we’ll go out earlier. I fell behind the pack in the first mile, which I expected and was fine with. Trying to keep up in mile one would mean I cratered at halfway. Besides, it’s the Park and that’s (part of) why I chose this group. Uncertainty of marathon training but in the comfort of my favorite terrain. Plus, if I can survive the CP hills, I’ll survive the bridges. I ended up catching up with one of the women I finished with Wednesday, who I learned is planning to run not only NYC, but the 60K a few weeks later! I was happy with the run, it was about on par with the women’s mini although the heat meant I felt a little less strong. It was also my first without music in a while as I didn’t think to grab headphones before I left. I got back to the stretching area outside JackRabbit just a few minutes after the main group.  Finished the day with some well-deserved laziness and a very good book, Richard Grant’s Dispatches from Pluto.
  • Sunday: short, hot shakeout. I woke up on time to go out early, but an attack of the lazy Sundays hit. I was also underhydrated due to sushi for dinner Saturday night.

 

2019 NYC Marathon Training Miles (eek! In writing. Legit): 12.82

$ Raised for Joyful Heart: $12.82

Plan for the Week:

  • Monday: off, dinner plans with friends. And I think Mondays are going to become an off day if I regularly manage the Sunday recovery runs.
  • Tuesday: run
  • Wednesday: off, planned work event and can’t make the group workout
  • Thursday: group workout, 30/90 fartleks
  • Friday: off (as actually scheduled in the plan)
  • Saturday: Pride5M with run to and from for extra miles. They changed the course this year, so I see I’m going to be all Harlem Hills all the time. Self: this is a good thing.
  • Sunday: Pride March. Not calling that an off day

Travel Tuesday: Dixie Road Trip

I’m back from my week away and will most likely have a mega Weekly Run Down next Sunday since I didn’t get it posted today. In my defense, I didn’t get home until 2 AM due to some weird flights.

Although there were no long runs, it was a good, active week. Somehow, despite a ton of sedentary time on a 1,760 mile road trip, I came back weighing less than when I left. I don’t get it, but I’ll take it.

Quest for #50Before50, a 1760 mile journey through the American south Click To Tweet

I’ll recap the conference separately as there’s still a lot to digest from those four days. As I may or may not have mentioned, I decided to tack on a southeast road trip that I originally planned three years ago. Life happened, other trips took precedence and that slipped to the bottom of the plans. And then AAM announced New Orleans for the 2019 conference and with it the week before Memorial Day, I knew I could simultaneously make this trip happen with minimal time off work and solve the “back from a trip, don’t want to travel again so what should I do for Memorial Day?” conundrum

this was actually NOLA, but it set the tone

This won’t be a chronological journey, but more the thoughts that stuck with me. I also really miss a functional Flickr because I took so many photos. Major themes that showed throughout the Wednesday – Sunday trip:

  • flooding
  • Civil Rights
  • Katrina
  • legacy of the Civil War

The latter two showed the most through the two books I was flipping between throughout the week: Chris Rose’s One Dead in Attic which I spotted in bookstores throughout the French Quarter and Tony Horowitz’ Confederates in the Attic, which was a re-read. I actually finished neither due to the conference’s schedule and the insanely long driving days, but nearly finished Rose’s on the plane home Sunday night.

Off the bad I’d say that if you’re going to do this trip, don’t do it in late May. It’s already way too hot and humid especially along the gulf and I found it hard to enjoy sightseeing. I may or may not have melted into a puddle along the Great River Crossing when I walked to Arkansas because I’m that kind of crazy traveler.

Anyway…

I’d been to New Orleans before about 18 years ago, but didn’t have strong memories of it beyond the heat and humidity. It’s also a very different city when visited as an adult conference attendee vs. a young adult with extended family for grandma’s birthday. Was Katrina an element of the difference for a visitor? Not really until I chose to make it one, although there was an eerie element to being in the Convention Center and knowing what happened there. Like 9/11, I was overseas for Katrina so I have a weird distance from it, even though I still remember exactly where I was when we heard it had it & was bad: waiting in the parking lot in Adelaide, Australia for a friend to pick up her VCR/DVD player from being repaired.

he’s about three steps up, and in the river

I knew New Orleans was vulnerably located, but it didn’t hit home just how vulnerable it was until I sat on the steps in Washington Artillery Park/on the back side of the “Moon Walk” aka the levees that protect the French Quarter. That gentleman was about three steps up and was ankle deep in the Mississippi. Although Katrina had significant human failure (more later), there is very little keeping the Mississippi and/or Lake Ponchartrain from taking back this city. And that’s sad.

I really didn’t recall hearing news of the last six months’ floods. It isn’t like the ‘93 floods, which I remember vividly, but rather a season long high water with it being 200+ days long at this stage.  As we drove out to Valcherie, LA on Sunday to see the plantations, the guide mentioned that the Bonnet Carre spillway was opened for the second time this year, the first time in history that it happened. There are plans to open the Morganza spillway for only the third time ever. I could see all of this in action as we drove over Bonnet Carre and got absolutely soaked while visiting Laura. As we drove across the Mississippi there we also saw trees that should have been on land but were submerged. It’s a fragile ecosystem for sure.

Route 552, Port Gibson, MS
Windsor Ruins

I ran into the flooding again in Port Gibson, MS, while trying to get back to the Natchez Trace after visiting the Windsor Ruins. I’m the queen of detours and ooh look, there’s a historical marker! but the level of missing roads was frightening. I also ran into this in Tennessee when I was trying to get from Counce to Shiloh. Getting off the interstate and taking the Trace was among the best decisions I made for this trip, but I was not prepared for the flooding. I had a feeling that Google Maps weren’t going to be the most reliable – they weren’t in South Dakota either – but I’m not sure anything was going to have helped with the recent impairments.

sunset on the Mississippi!

The detours were ultimately worth it. Although I got to Vicksburg way too late to see the battlefield, I got a sunset on the Mississippi! Wow. This was a bucket list item I didn’t even know I had.  The River is such a feature in history and literature it has almost a mythical quality – wonder if I’d feel the same about the Hudson if I hadn’t grown up literally on its shores. You can’t actually see it here, but there were a ton of sandbags on the land side of the museum (the former Yazoo & Mississippi Valley RR Station, turned museum). This is despite the large levees behind it. Speaking of levees, I’ll never forget the first time I heard American Pie. We were driving home from Toronto and about to get off I-87 when it came on. I’m pretty sure that, despite memorizing the lyrics, I had no idea what a levee really was and this trip was the first time I really took notice of them. The one thing I’d change about this trip other than timing was I’d have stayed in Vicksburg and not Jackson. I saw absolutely nothing of Jackson and if I’d stayed in Vicksburg I could have toured the battlefield in the morning. That would have made for a seriously long day though as that day’s drive was already some 360 miles/11 hours.

State Collecting Silliness

don’t mind me, I’m just sitting on the state line between Tennessee and Arkansas!
and standing on a bench between Florida and Alabama

Is it just me, or do road trips bring out our inner silly? While I wanted to explore this region in general, the reason behind the long loop was because I was state collecting. I want to see all fifty states before I turn 50. It’s somewhat fitting that I ended this trip at 39 states. Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama were the new ones on this trip.

I know counting a state means different things to different people. After a philosophical debate – coincidentally four years ago this weekend per FB memories – about whether Oregon counted after I touched the soil but didn’t leave the train station I changed my criteria. In order for a state to “count” I need to spend money and see/do something interesting. I don’t count Utah despite taking the train through it since I didn’t do either of those. This was first a challenge when I drove up to Cheyenne after bailing on Pike’s Peak due to altitude. The railroad museum was free! I finally bought a post card before visiting the state properly in 2017. AZ was similarly questionable – was the purchase at Four Corners in Navajo Nation or AZ? Luckily that was remedied last year for a conference. Montana and Arkansas are currently questionable, but I have plans to return to both.

I’ve seen states in some fun ways but Arkansas is definitely the first I’ve ever walked to. On first encounter anyway. I’ve walked between NY and NJ on a few occasions but NJ never counts in that way as it isn’t new. Walking across the Mississippi was amazing. And hot. There was nothing for sale at that end so I hopped on I-55 and drove to West Memphis for a purchase at the Welcome Center. I actually look forward to returning to see the Clinton Library, Crystal Bridges and Hot Springs.

And why the detour to Florabama when I didn’t need Florida? That’s one of those road trip must sees. It has some fun history, is full of kitsch and honestly, I needed it after Friday’s heavy sightseeing.  If you can’t have fun with state lines, there’s something wrong with the world. Well, lots of things including Alabama, but that’s for another time.

Civil Rights

the balcony where MLK was shot
Oxford’s slavery legacy
as well as its Civil Rights’ struggle

Conjoined and complicated. After my Arkansas sojourn on Thursday, I had an all to brief visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and spent a nice leg stretch exploring Oxford, MS. I was left with a lot of thoughts swirling in my head. It was powerful to stand in front of the spot where Dr. King was shot. They’ve also converted the houses from where James Earl Ray took his shot into the “legacy exhibit”. The museum tells Dr. King’s story well and contextualizes the ongoing fight for Civil Rights, but I felt it a little lacking. I think, like with Auschwitz/Birkenau, less museum and more living history is the divider.

Oxford was a relatively short drive from Memphis and I explored the Ole Miss campus before heading down to the Square. Oxford is, in a word, conflicted. They’re still the Rebels and among the first things you see when you drive on to campus is a large statue to Albert Sidney Johnston. My head was already full of swirling confederate statue thoughts after hearing Mitch Landrieu give the keynote Monday and subsequently buying his book. This was also a major theme in last year’s conference. I think Robert E. Lee had to come down in New Orleans – the man had no tie to the city – but in other places I feel like I shouldn’t have a voice. It’s not my city (I neither vote nor pay taxes) and I’m a white northerner whose family was not in America at the time of the Civil War. Ole Miss has made some amazing progress in interpreting its campus (great article here), but it’s still jarring to see prominent statues here & in the Square. It was powerful (a word I used too often on this trip, along with poignant) to stand near the Lyceum and understand what happened there. I softened the edge of this with some football silliness, visiting Manning Way.

Alabama State Capital
Voting Rights March marker just down from the Capital and nearly opposite Dr. King’s church
Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma

All the recent Alabama news broke on the eve of my trip and I weighed what to do ethically. In the end I opted to change two hotel nights so as not to give the state any of my money via taxes and, if any spending was required, to do so in places of support because the state’s Civil Rights history was too important to skip out on. We need to learn from our history. I got there too late to see the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, but I’d have spent there. In the end I spent zero there

Montgomery was probably one of my favorite stops, and it was one that almost didn’t happen. The plan on the drive south from Shiloh was Birmingham and then Tuskegee, but I hit awful traffic and wouldn’t have made it out there with time to see the history so I skipped Tuskegee. I feel awful but realize that’s probably possible from Georgia and the itinerary for this trip was just too much for the time I had. Instead, I parked in Montgomery and explored Dexter Street, and had a driving tour of some of the other sites including the Freedom Riders memorial at the bus station. I drew the line at visiting things like the First White House of the Confederacy or Beauvoir in Biloxi. There’s learning from history and then there’s a step too much for me personally. To paraphrase Mitch Landrieu, you can remember history without revering it.

I really need to get back when it’s cooler as it was too warm to do more – even the outdoor sites that were accessible after the museums closed. Have you ever been somewhere with such conflicted history / present? How did you handle it?

In some senses, the shift of this night’s hotel to Meridian, MS made for a saner journey as Selma was a halfway point. As had become a theme throughout this trip, I got there too late for the National Parks’ interpretive center but had read some mixed reviews of that anyway. On the eastern side of the Bridge I explored the Civil Rights Park which covers Selma’s long history: lynching, slavery and more. I actually didn’t realize you could walk over the bridge until I drove across it. Luckily, there was a parking spot and I was able to walk back via the small Songs of Selma Park. Powerful, and couldn’t help but hum Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction

Think of all the hate there is in Red China! Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama! Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space, but when you return, it’s the same old place.  The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace. You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace. Hate your next door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace,
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

A complicated state indeed.

Civil War / War of 1812

Shiloh National Cemetery
Pittsburg Landing/Shiloh

Some people want to  visit Tennessee to see Nashville for music or Memphis for BBQ/Elvis. Me? All about Shiloh. I am my father’s daughter. It’s in a relatively inaccessible part of Tennesee, but the drive wasn’t too hard from Oxford via Tupelo.  I stayed in Counce – near Pickwick Landing State Park, which was beautiful and hit Shiloh early. One of the best things about some of the battlefields turned National Parks is they’re open all hours so you’re not stuck to 9-5 if you don’t need the facilities of the book store/visitor’s center.

Shiloh was absolutely serene. I knew nothing could or would ever compare to Gettysburg, but it was nice to be there without a ton of Civil War tourists. Like Gettysburg, it’s relatively undeveloped in some aspects and you can still “hear the guns”. You can certainly envision the troops’ river arrival.  I wish I could have made it to Corinth to see the rail element, but there just wasn’t time. This was also where I was really feeling the heat — at Gettysburg I drove the tour route but still hopped out at most monuments. Shiloh, not so much.

I hit the bookstore on the way out for my stamp and I got a talker. He had some fun ideas about New York and New Yorkers – mostly coming from The Jeffersons. As I was browsing their books on offer I was pleased to see they stocked Confederates in the Attic, validating the book I planned to read while on this trip.

The dual naming thing always surprises and catches me off guard. Shiloh just sounds more antebellum than Pittsburg Landing, and it’s how I’ve always known it. Never heard of Sharpsburg before Horowitz’ book and I always get confused with Bull Run/Manassas.

I’ll never do a purely Civil War trip, but I love incorporating it into trips, as I remember doing as far back as the mid ’90s when a college visit trip incorporated Bull Run, Fredericksurg and, I think, Antietam. This book by Michael Weeks was a great resource as to what I’d find and helped contextualize Vicksburg, Tupelo and Shiloh. I wondered whether I’d run into Horowitz’ comment that North, East and West are directions but The South is a place. I really didn’t – I saw a few Rebel flags in Alabama but generally felt it more in Charleston and Richmond. It might have been different if I were staying at more local places and time wise nearer to the battle’s dates.

I’ve been talking about Karen Cox’s book Dreaming of Dixie since Charleston (still haven’t read it) and just found Destination Dixie. I was thinking of it as I drove around when I saw signs for Bayou La Batre on Saturday evening as I headed to Biloxi – there are definitely some places I’m really only familiar with thanks to their role in TV and film.  And would someone please tell me how Forrest Gump is twenty five years old?! Have you ever been somewhere you only knew from media?

Chalmette Battlefield and the Beauregard House

This could fit either in this section or the next. I didn’t have any plan to visit the Chalmette Battlefield but I saw a sign for it as I was driving back into New Orleans to visit the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum. It got me excited because I’d skipped Fort Morgan on Saturday due to lack of time and had realized I wouldn’t get to Fort Jackson despite being inspired by this post.

As I got off I-10 I saw abandoned roller coasters and realized it was the former Six Flags that was destroyed by Katrina. It’s an eerie site.

Although I visited the Jean Lafitte Visitor Center in the French Quarter and generally knew about the role of New Orleans in river access in both the War of 1812 and Civil War, I was a little fuzzy on the details. The Chalmette Battlefield is small but well preserved and like Shiloh, you can still imagine what went on here if you don’t look to the left and see the industrial elements of St. Bernard’s port. As the ranger said, the only thing different is the levees are a bit higher now.

This was totally a driving tour due to heat, limited time before my flight, but I’m so glad I got there. Something about visiting a site makes the history more real to me.

Katrina

Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum
standing where the levees went

I wasn’t even aware of the aforementioned Lower Ninth Ward Museum until someone I met at last year’s conference tweeted about it. I very much wanted to go, but wasn’t sure I’d have the time. Despite seeing the abandoned Six Flags and the Ranger mentioning the levee, I didn’t realize how close Chalmette was to the Lower Ninth – I was only about ten minutes’ drive from the museum. Nor did I realize until I got to the second half of Chris Rose’s book that Chalmette was decimated by the storm. I know some of this is shaped by my being overseas during and for 10 months after Katrina, but I feel like all we heard was the Lower Ninth Ward.

There are no words to describe the museum – a small five room portion of a house in the Lower Ninth Ward. Some of its back story is here. I realized, even while reading Chris Rose’s book, that so much of what I “knew” about Katrina and the Lower Ninth Ward was wrong, or at least wrongly portrayed by the national media. The museum goes in depth to explore the issues around looting, evacuation, the Danziger Bridge shooting and puts faces to some of the stories. It’s powerful and I’m so glad to hear they’re moving to a larger space to better tell the stories. It’s one we all need to hear.

I would not have stopped alongside the Canal had I not spotted the historic marker. Disaster tourism gives me the willies, and that’s why there are no photos of the Lower Ninth other than the museum and the marker/walls. I feel like the marker gives license, whereas the homes-in various states of fixed and not fourteen years later-are private and not meant for tourist consumption.

Standing beside the Industrial Canal was my last stop in New Orleans, but it wasn’t my first encounter with Katrina. In fact, I made a point of seeking it out in the former of Biloxi’s Katrina Memorial.

To further quote Chris Rose,

“It’s funny, but out there in the Great Elsewhere that is America, New Orleans seems to get most or all of the focus of the national media. As if this whole thing happened only in a place called the Lower 9th Ward. As the memory and images and impact of Katrina fade in the national consciousness, so, too, it seems, does the geographical and emotional scope of its damages, not to mention Rita’s. From the Texas border to Mobile Bay, a huge swath of America took a grenade. And everything changed everywhere.

I had no idea just how many died in Mississippi although I learned some of its impact there when I read The Washington Post’s ten year retrospective.

I know this is the tourism professional in me coming out, but it felt so wrong to only see the waterfront casinos, the French Quarter and think everything is and was fine. It wasn’t. It isn’t.

 

Auschwitz: Not Long Ago. Not Far Away

context, because this former travel blog evolved into a weight loss and running blog over the last decade. I actually thought of reactivating my Tumblr for this instead, but decided this is not a subject which I can stomach trolls on.

***

Sixteen years ago I was in Prague in January. I didn’t make it to Poland then and deeply regretted not visiting Auschwitz & Birkenau. When I returned to Prague for a summer abroad program in grad school in 2007, Poland was at the top of the weekend sojourn list. That month also included Berlin and Terezin

Much of that blog is lost to a prior crash, but some remains thanks to the Internet Archive:

Some of it will always remain: the raw authenticity of Birkenau, purchasing & reading Night in Krakow while waiting for the train back to Prague.I started this post a week ago but held it until today and in the mean time. I was walking to a meeting on Tuesday and Tim McGraw’s The Book of John came on my iPod:

The Polaroids are just reminders,
You can’t hold life in a three ring binder

In the days before everything had to be photographed “just right” for social media, it was a lot easier to be present. I knew I had this photo and went looking for it, but I didn’t need it to remember the moment.

still haunting, 12 years later

The original caption on that photo, when uploaded to Facebook several years later:

“It’s wrong to say I loved it, but this trip moved me in so many ways. By far the most powerful view at Birkenau. I could see and feel the ghosts, especially after reading Night.”

Like Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, I believe Auschwitz is a place that everyone should visit. It is the best way to learn from history. I didn’t do the Berlin Holocaust Memorial as I just couldn’t, but finally made it to DC’s in 2014 and visited Yad Vashem in 2009.

***

On Thursday morning, May 2, a colleague and I attended the preview of Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away, the largest Holocaust exhibit in the US and:

“the first exhibition to feature major loans of artifacts from the former Nazi concentration camp in occupied Poland, is currently on display in Madrid and has drawn some 600,000 visitors. It will open in New York on May 8 — the date of the Nazi surrender in 1945.”  ~ The Horrors of Auschwitz at a Museum in New York, New York Times.

This exhibit builds in some ways on the museum’s 2014 exhibit, A Town Known as Auschwitz, and, as noted in a review (English) of the Spanish exhibit, seeks to spread Auschwitz’ history to a larger audience.

Auschwitz was more than a death camp, but its German name has become synonymous with hate, fear and death. The exhibit opens today, May 8th, the anniversary of the Nazi surrender. The date that haunted me through the exhibit was that April 30 – the day of Hitler’s suicide – was just a few days before my visit.

They recommended 90m to walk through the exhibit and somehow that wasn’t quite enough. Some of the items on view were expected in terms of what is often found at a Holocaust exhibit or museum: shoes, glasses. luggage left behind by those who were no longer there to use them. The luggage hit me hardest-so many packed as if they would for a short holiday. Seeing the German rail car out front of the museum just brought that home and hard.

I took a few photos, but mostly just took in the information. There is a lot to read and a lot was new to me even as someone who studied the Holocaust. The simplicity of it is what lingers with me a week later.

Powerful words by Charlotte Delbo

TOTR: The best city I ever ran in is…

I love Tuesdays on the Run. And I love having the “cheat sheet” of the topics early so I can get these written at the weekend. This week? This best city I ever ran in is…

Linking up with: Erika at MCM Mama, Marcia at Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and Patty at No Guilt Life.

And I’m going to cheat and purely look at destinations, because otherwise there’s no way I answer this as anything but home. There are so many great places to run around Manhattan, especially Central Park. And it has been true for two hundred + years! 😀

“Look around, look around at how
Lucky we are to be alive right now!

History is happening in Manhattan and we just happen to be
In the greatest city in the world!

I’m only counting cities where I’ve run outside (so no Amsterdam or Reykjavik) and actual cities, so no Nyack, Avon, NJ, Palm Springs or my friend’s subdivision in suburban LA. (Yes, Palm Springs is a city but I only ran on the resort grounds, so it doesn’t count). My Birmingham adventures with Liz feel like a hybrid as we took a bus from the city center to her neighborhood but our running route had a decidedly suburban feel so I’m putting that in the same bucket as Nyack, Avon. If the question were places, this would be a lot harder.

So that said…Montreal, London, Washington, D.C.,  Santa Monica, Fort Lauderdale.

Ugh. This is hard.

I think off the bat I’m ruling out Fort Lauderdale since none of the runs felt like city runs. The half marathon is great and I look forward to running it again in 2019, but to me it’s against the spirit of the question. True the hotel fun run did run down a major thoroughfare, but… It has to go.

By the same token, I’m throwing out Santa Monica. It’s heartbreaking to think about the Woolsey Fire in Malibu as I ran just south of that from the Santa Monica pier north to Pacific Palisades and then back down to Venice before finishing on the Pier. But it was a paved path on the beach, so that isn’t a city.

So that leaves London, Montreal, and Washington D.C.

Each has really good things about it. Montreal was a way to explore the area near the hotel and get the lay of the land. Washington D.C. was cherry blossoms! Can’t imagine a more beautiful race course, yes cherry blossoms > oceanfront somehow. London is… London. Running through history.

peekaboo Victoria Tower, I see you!

Yeah, that’s my answer. From the day I arrived where I sightran along the Thames to get the lay of the city to a short run for a view, to my pre-airport farewell, London was nothing but magic. Weather was perfect, it was easy to add distance when seeing new things, and the city’s architecture is just out of this world.

What’s your favorite city?
Is there a city/race you recommend?

Travel Tuesday: Mark Mason’s Walk the Lines

aka walking around London.

England book acquisitions

The rule for buying any books in England was as follows: not available for Kindle and/or some specific or unique tie. I think I did pretty well bringing back only 4* (one on the way from Amazon because I was still regretting not buying it at Stonehenge despite the font). The top two were charity shop purchases in Stratford-upon-Avon: love Marian Keyes and she’s not easy to find here, and Liz thrust the second at me as it was set partially on a bus we’d taken. The bottom two were London finds.

Other London Write-Ups:

  • Travel Tuesday: Pre-Roman Britain
  • London’s Churches: St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey
  • London’s Castles and Palaces: Buckingham, Kensington and the Tower of London
  • Walking London
#TravelTuesday Review: @WalkTheLinesLDN walks the entirety of the London Underground, 269 stations Click To Tweet

Only in America is the BBC Correspondent on life in America in the early 2000s, which I found at the South Bank book stalls. I found Mark Mason’s Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground while waiting for my train at London Euston to meet Liz. After finding WiFi to ascertain it wasn’t available for the Kindle and was well priced, I bought it. What caught my attention? Walking. Of course. Fittingly, it’s the 80th book I finished in 2018 and I often lament that reading is a casualty of my love of walking. If I took the train more, I’d definitely read more.

I loved this book from its premise but rather than reading it on the train to & from Birmingham, I was staring out the window at the sheep. Yes, sheep. I got the bulk of it read on my flight home last weekend but didn’t want to carry it in my purse, so it took me until Sunday at the beach to finish it. Had Friday turned into beach weather it would have happened then.

Although it felt like I walked all over London, I didn’t hit even a fraction of his 269 Tube stations. As I read about places I was/had been, especially Pimlico early in his walk, I loved those moments of I know that place! That happens often for me in New York, but I think London is the first place it happened for me because of all the walking. I only took the Tube six times in London: to and from Heathrow, to Kings Cross (to do Platform 9 3/4 on the way to Euston), from Marylebone to hotel to drop off my bag and make a mad dash to St. Paul’s for sunset, to the hotel after a late-ish dinner/long day in South Kensington after Stonehenge and home from dinner on the South Bank in the rain. Taking the Tube would have been more time efficient (especially when going from South Bank Festival to the British Museum and/or Buckingham to Kensington Palace) but I really think walking nearly everywhere helped me better get the lay of London and incorporate sightseeing with “commuting”. I did some of this in Amsterdam too, although the weather wasn’t anywhere near as conducive to it.

The days I was fully in the city I averaged about 12 miles. Even the ones with transit were in the 8-10 mile range with the exception of Stonehenge which was full day driving. London is just perfect for a wander or focused walk. What helps is that the stations are so close together – it often didn’t pay to spend ~$3 to get between places A and B when it was just as easy or easier to walk. In doing so I managed to see things I wouldn’t have otherwise including: the book shops on Charing Cross Road, the theaters of Drury Lane, the Cleopatra’s Needle along the Thames, Churchill War Rooms and Downing Street and more. None of those were on my itinerary, but I was so pleased to stumble on them. While most of my walks were in daylight because I was otherwise too tired, the dusk walk from St. Paul’s back to my Tower Hill hotel was great in seeing how the city switched off.

Would I recommend my walk sightseeing of London to another visitor? It depends. There’s a lot of “lost” time so if you only have a short time, I might say hop the Tube. But if it’s someone like me who enjoys the journey and the unexpected finds along the way? Absolutely. I’d love to do a walk like Mason’s in New York, although I can’t imagine it would be anywhere near as feasible, especially in the boroughs. Manhattan though might be a bucket list when/if I ever finish the bridges.

Some moments that lined up well with my London sightseeing:

  • the “government buildings” on the south side of Vauxhall Bridge. I had a feeling when I ran that way on Tuesday that it was either MI6 or some other not so secret entity based on the number of armed men and CCTV. Haven’t seen much James Bond, but I do read Daniel Silva and Gabriel Allon frequents Vauxhall.
  • “one almighty temple to Travel known as VIctoria” yep. Aside from my last day when I got super turned around near Borough Market, the only time I came even close to that was walking back to the hotel from the V&A via Harrods. All the roads seemed to go kablooey around Victoria, which is a behemoth.
  • I loved his walk down Piccadilly from Green Park toward Hyde Park Corner and beyond. This was my first real exploration of London on Sunday morning (more, TK, when I post the London Palaces writeup) when I walked from Horseguards to Kensington Palace along Piccadilly because I wanted to find the Hard Rock Cafe. I don’t eat or shop there, but this tradition with a friend goes back to when we lived in Osaka and would use it for American food. Also, I started “collecting” Hard Rocks as a kid after my first in Toronto in 1993, and sometimes you have to. Besides, why not take the longer and more scenic route between two places when possible. You see so much. I saw the Ritz, which he mentioned but did not know about Burlington’s prohibition against whistling. It was also fascinating to learn why the line went so far south of Harrod’s — plague pits! Part of what made this book even more interesting is the people he interviewed: the city planner, the voice of Mind the Gap on the Piccadilly line. It added so much more to an already interesting book.
  • “The tourists at Tower Hill stand on the same ground where huge crowds used to gather for executions…” creepy! OK, maybe I’m glad I didn’t read this part as I stood there.
  • The Waterloo and City Line was super confusing. How is that even a line?  That said, I was glad to have it when I needed to get home from Waterloo in the rain. Although the connection from Bank to Monument is long, it was great to do it below ground so as not to get more wet.

Other moments I enjoyed:

  • I loved his idea of a personal Tube  line for the places and moments that are significant. For me in NY, it’s the Upper East Side and on  a running note, Central Park.

“Preferring Dickens to Disney is all very well, until you come face to face with Bill Sykes. Besides, to wish that London was immune from boom-and-bust economics is to wish away the city’s entire history. A few miles south of here they’ve turned boom and bust into an art form”

Part of what I loved the most about London – especially in The City where this description is from – is the layers upon layers of history. Discoveries like The Great Conduit when building One Poultry, and items extant from before The Great Fire are all over and it’s really only possible to find them when wandering. Or even walking with purpose like Mason did.

  • It’s sad, but also perfect, to realize that there was one part he couldn’t walk, the tunnel at Heathrow which has been closed to pedestrians. If there’s any place more non-pedestrian friendly than airports, I’m not sure what it is. Like earlier when he wrote of Wembley and other city icons not actually being in the city due to space constraints, airports are meant to be traveled to, before serving as the start or end of another trip. It’s eerie, and kind of interesting
  • One of the places on my ginormous google map that I didn’t get to was Olympic Park – it was just too far out. While I rarely watch the Olympics, I love visiting their “remains”. Mason’s walk was in the lead up to the Olympics where many sights were still being constructed and I enjoyed how he imagined their use. I did visit a couple spots where Olympic events took place, including Greenwich and part of the route of the marathon, which made me think of Becky Wade’s book as she was there for the games.
  • Loved his realization that the issue with the view from Tower 42 and Barnet church was that it was still man’s eye view. I never thought of maps that way and while I’m not a maps person, I liked how he used them throughout. Not just the literal journey planning, but to explain the city. To truly know the lines.
  • I agree with him that it is people, and stories that bring the cities, buildings and lines to life. London has a history, but we tell its story

The book? It’s traveling again now, back to Liz who mentioned she had it on her wishlist.

Travel Tuesday: Pre-Roman Britain

Unlike previous trip recaps, my 2018 England trip is not going to be chronological but rather thematic. My trip was rather hap hazard and doing a day by day travelog just won’t work.  I’d like to think they’ll take up the next Tuesdays and Thursday as Travel Tuesday or Throwback Thursday, but I know my own blogging habits to know that probably isn’t realistic. Also, this stupid Flickr plugin is still misbehaving.

Other Write-Ups To Come:

  • London’s Churches: St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey
  • London’s Castles and Palaces: Buckingham, Kensington and the Tower of London
  • Walking London
fun with filters

“Two legends are wound about Avalon, the legend of the Cup and the legend of the Sword – the cup from which Our Lord drank at the Last Supper, and in which the drops of His Blood were caught; and Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, engraved with ancient pagan runes. Two traditions meet in Avalon – the ancient faith of the Britons, and the creed of Christ.” ~ Dion Fortune

I knew when this trip came together that I really wanted to do Stonehenge. Like Rushmore last year, I accepted that it would probably be a let down, but it fascinated me. After some research I booked a tour with International Friends that took in both Stonehenge and Glastonbury. The original plan included Winchester but they had to adjust that due to access issues, and Avebury ended up being way more interesting than Winchester would have been.

Why did I go for one that included Glastonbury vs. say, Bath, Windsor, Oxford or the Cotswolds? In short: I have a soft spot for the legends and tales around King Arthur and while I know that Glastonbury’s ties are considered iffy with recent research-not to mention that it’s hard to visit the site of a legend-I still wanted to see it since it was reasonably accessible.

The night before this trip left, I realized I probably should do some reading on Stonehenge and a perusal of NYPL’s Kindle offerings introduced me to Francis Pryor’s Stonehenge: the Story of a Sacred Landscape. I was subsequently pleased to see that and one of his other titles for sale in the English Heritage gift shop at Stonehenge, therefore lending some legitimacy to a book I was enjoying. I didn’t finish it on time, but learned a lot: my review. Speaking of books at Stonehenge’s gift shop, I didn’t buy this Oxford Guide to Arthurian Legends because the font was way too small, and now I find it’s not available for Kindle. Or Nook. First world bookworm problems!

Monday morning started early and I met the bus at Marble Arch. We made two other stops to pick up others on the tour and I was thrilled we were not only a small vehicle, but that we were only seven people. It made everything a lot more efficient time wise, and more accessible. It also felt like a private tour in some ways because the guide got to know each of us, and what we were interested in learning more about. He’s lived & guided in a number of locations worldwide so it helped him contextualize some of the sights we were visiting.

The first stop just minutes away from Stonehenge was Woodhenge, with which I was completely unfamiliar. It was helpful though in teaching us about the Stonehenge Avenue, Cursus and other key features of the landscape that explain how Stonehenge isn’t “just” a circle of rocks. I think that’s what leaves people walking away unimpressed. Key to understanding Stonehenge is understanding why it was constructed and what role it was meant to play for those who lived and made pilgrimages to it. As a circle of stones, it may not mean enough for people considering the travel time from London, but as a place of cultural significance? Absolutely.  Beware of some serious woo out there when researching Stonehenge.

first sighting
Heel stone with winter solstice arrow

As a tourism professional, I love how they’ve set up the Stonehenge experience. They closed one of the major roads and run access to the Stones via shuttle buses (or a walking path) from the Visitor Center. I think it makes the first viewing even more awe-inspiring. It’s also much more pleasant to walk around the circle without high traffic, although there’s still a road that goes fairly close. I’m glad we were there early in the morning as there was no wait for the shuttles, which wasn’t the case when it was time to leave. Although I think the Stones might have been more striking against a blue sky, the overcast seemed to lend an aura of mystique to them and allowed the different textures, heights and scale to show more. While it’s true that Stonehenge imagery is saturated, it was still great to see them live. Other companies run tours where you can go in early or stay late, and I’m not sure that’s of interest to me – it would be a very long drive only to do Stonehenge. That said, sunrise or sunset at the right time of year could be pure magic.

National Trust sign near lot adjacent to the Tor
Glastonbury Tor, remains of St. Michael’s Church

From Stonehenge it was a long-ish drive to Glastonbury, reported to be a very hippie town. I actually didn’t find it overwhelmingly so. Our first stop was Glastonbury Tor, just outside town. It’s run by the National Trust who share some of the legends about the Tor. On some level, the ties between Arthur make historical sense, especially the Tor and the adjacent Somerset Levels’ flooding throughout history. Do I believe King Arthur was literally a man who walked the soil of early Britain? No. Do I understand where the legend/fairy tale could come from and survive? Yes. The setting is perfect for these stories. And who doesn’t love a good fairy tale?

Chalice Well Gardens

Arthur isn’t the only story with ties to the region. Chalice Well is claimed to be the place where Joseph of Arimathea brought the chalice from the Last Supper. I’m not a Christian, so it isn’t my place to judge a religion that isn’t mine’s history – but I’m more than a little confused how this man would have ended up in the English countryside. Northern Spain along the Camino de Santiago, or somewhere in the Mediterranean? Sure. I’m a little iffy on England.  And yes, I drank the kool aid err… iron water. A week later, I’m still breathing. It tasted better than Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth which was more sulphury. Still, it was an interesting piece of history to learn about and pilgrims continue to come to Glastonbury for both of these as well as for the stunning remains of the Abbey in town.

Great Hall, Glastonbury Abbey
Glastonbury Abbey ruins

Like the rest of Glastonbury, the ruins of the Abbey are tied up in a mix of history and legend. Do I believe Edward I oversaw the reburial of Arthur and Lady Guinevere? No. But tourism was understood to bring money throughout history so I can see why that story was promoted. As someone familiar with and interested in the legends around Arthur, I’m confused how they were ever buried since it’s alleged that the Lady of the Lake took him… But I digress. What stunned me about the Abbey was its construction. It’s not like the contemporary churches where we understood how they were built. This, the Great Pyramids, Stonehenge… just how did they construct these? How did they reach such great heights? It must have been stunning prior to the fire. And the recent research around the glass found at the Abbey site is phenomenal. Whatever the myths and legends around Glastonbury, it was active and thriving until the Dissolution. Impossible not to think of what could have been.

While I’m not Christian (or Pagan), I’m fascinated by myths, legends and religious histories so I was happy to find Glastonbury: Avalon of the Heart available in Kindle edition through NYPL. Unfortunately it was a little too heavy on the woo for me, presenting some of these stories as literal fact. I’m not sure if that was the author’s bent or just a factor of it having been published in 1934, but it didn’t complement my experience the way Pryor’s Stonehenge book did. To be fair, a number of the reviews clearly said this wasn’t the book for skeptics. We didn’t have time to climb the Tor, but this is an interesting look at it and I found it more accessible as it was steeped somewhat in facts and history to go with the myths.

Although I’m a non believer, I found Glastonbury fascinating. In many ways, it’s how I felt about Israel when I went. Was there a King Herod?  Maybe. Masada is a stunning fortress regardless. The other tie between the two that fascinated me was linguistically: Tor was a hill and when we were in northern Israel we learned that “Armageddon” comes from Har/Tel Meggido an archaeological mound. I’m not at all familiar with Celtic or Hebrew, but that caught my attention immediately.

Avebury: for scale
Avebury perimeter

The tour originally called for Winchester, but when the guide explained the access challenges and the fact that the round table has been proven to be an reconstruction, we were all sold on Avebury as a replacement. It is no loss, it’s the largest Stone Circle in Britain and surreally empty, save for sheep. I’d heard of Silbury Hill, which we saw on the drive in, but the only stone circle I was familiar with prior was Stonehenge. It was amazing to see the scale of Avebury’s, and to be able to walk among them. While the perimeter was a clearly delineated line, the other stones appear haphazard but it may have originally been a square formation. While current research leads to the belief that Stonehenge was associated with death rituals, it is believed that Avebury was associated with fertility. Both of those make sense within Pryor’s point that religion played a larger role in the prehistoric people’s lives, and the artifacts that seem to show that no one lived permanently at either location but traveled to them.

If this were my tour to design, I’d flip Avebury and Stonehenge. I understand why that isn’t done — the crowds at Stonehenge would be insane on a nice summer afternoon — I think there’s a lot to absorb at Avebury that would be easier to take in on a fresher brain. Maybe that’s just me. We didn’t visit the museum or any of the other National Trust facilities, and I’m not sure I’d go back in order to do so-but I’d love to learn more about the site since it’s so complex.

Overall, a great intro to/refresher on pre-Roman Britain. Pre historic as a term drives me nuts. You can’t be pre history!

London Calling, weeks of 8.12, 8.19

So London was meant to be part of an organized runcation, but that didn’t get the minimum number of people to go forward. By the time it was cancelled I already had the time off work and the itch to go to London for the first time in 17 years-not counting a layover 11 years ago- and I decided why not.  I’m an obsessive trip planner and immediately hit up a Google map. Grown ups think of literature based London prompts. Me? All nursery rhymes. I had Pussycat, pussycat in my head throughout. I also picked up a London version of the Moleskine City books and while I didn’t use the features for which I bought it: the maps, I really loved it for making trips before and during the trip.

While I was unsure about pre-booking a run tour I hit up Strava for a couple of routes including a River Thames sightseeing loop, a 6-7 mile run of the Royal Parks, and Regent’s Park/Primrose Hill for the views.

More to come on the London front in another (series of) posts. In the mean time, weekly wrap catch up. I’ll do what I can to catch up on reading as well.

Weekly Wrap with Holly and Wendy:

Week of 8.12:

  • Monday:  for the first time in a while #NeverMissAMonday was running based. I had an epic case of do not wanna and had to literally bribe myself to get an additional quarter mile from miles 1-3. Some things never change. I did the same workout as this Monday and came in about thirteen seconds faster. I alternated quarter miles at 5.5 with 6.3 with .05 miles of walking at 3.3 after each 6.3 segment. The walk segments were consistently shorter and the running quarter mile segments didn’t fluctuate in speed.
  • Tuesday: was supposed to be a cross training day, but I was at the office late getting some deadline items done and really needed to pack for London, so it turned into a rest day. I also think four days in a row was not a smart plan with the distances I wanted to do to run/sightsee in London.
  • Wednesday: finally got the chance to meet Darlene who seems to run here as much as I do, despite not living in the city. It was a beautiful evening with relatively little humidity and we had a comfortable run/walk through Central Park. Other than office run group I don’t typically run with others, so this was good practice in running at a conversational pace. Not linking Strava because holy hell did my watch have a hissy fit or six.
  • Thursday: office run group and my watch worked! Alas it was 85+ and 60% humidity so we weren’t setting any land speed records. Still nice to catch up with some folks between vacations.
  • Friday: London bound!
  • Saturday: I wanted to shake off the plane stiffness and explore a little so I’d be tired enough to go to sleep on London time. The training plan called for 8 and I got in 9.10 photo taking, sightseeing miles. It was super crowded by the Eye and across Tower Bridge as I took the very long way from my hotel to Buckingham Palace via a version of the Thames Path above. Couldn’t get Strava to work properly offline, but it was easy enough to follow the riverside paths. London is a great running city.
  • Sunday: no running, but sightseeing took in 12.38 miles, so I’m not calling that a rest day!

Week of 8.19

Some of this fell under Saturday and Sunday, above, but it’s still insane to look at. When I left for London I’d walked about 238K steps on the month, run 30 miles and run walked 112. I ran/walked 89.31 miles, ran 20.56 miles in the UK. Most insanely? 204, 202 fitbit steps! There’s a chance for my third 500K step month. I was 13 miles off my 700 miles on the year pace when I left and less than five off when I got back. What did that look like? Note: some of these links are more London sightseeing than running photos. Assume I’m forgiven 😀

  • Monday: my only true rest day. I’d booked a day trip to Stonehenge, Glastonbury and Winchester (which turned into Avebury) and there was a lot of driving. It also left really early and wrapped with dinner with two wonderful friends. Fell asleep before I could hit my step goal, hysterical compared to the other days
  • Tuesday: back in London and a short-ish morning run on the Thames before ten more miles of walking exploring Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and the British Museum.
  • Wednesday: traveled to Birmingham to meet Liz! We met through Bookcrossing shortly after I joined in 2005 and just missed one another in Iceland last February, but the stars aligned and we planned a visit while I was in the UK. I got a little of my typical first meeting jitters, but those were gone as soon as we met at the train station and as long as we were awake, we didn’t shut up for the entirety of my visit. So amazing when someone is just as fun live as online. No running today, but we explored architecturally fascinating Birmingham and I got to see Dippy! Dinosaurs turn me from 38 to 3. We also walked some of the canals Liz ran along during her race a couple weeks back. The day finished in both book swapping and running form when we had a lovely curry with running bookworms. So much fun.
as we took off down the block
Post-run selfie!
  • Thursday: we got to run together! Cool, drizzly, refreshing run. Liz took me on a tour of her area, which I’d seen through her blog and a photography project which she’s participated in for five years. Great to see it in 3D. I had a good laugh though, Liz was way better about pausing her watch to cross streets, etc. and I’ve mostly just written that off as slow downs. Yet Strava gave me a better pace than it did her. Strava, you’re drunk. Here’s Liz’s wrap, which also includes our run. When I first started blogging about running it was just a diary for myself, then I either linked Liz or she found it and started reading. She introduced me to the Runners’ Bookshelf where I met Wendy, who introduced me to this linkup.  Life is good! I also now have a buff from Liz’s running club, so cool. Over the years we’ve had various discussions on American v. British English terms for things. When she first mentioned a buff, I had no idea what it was. Turned out it was less American v. British and more running English. Oh the jargon, although that really isn’t one.

After running, we headed to explore Stratford-Upon-Avon (where else could two book lovers go?!) Rejuvenated after the train ride back to London, I decided to take advantage of St. Paul’s summer late hours and was treated to an amazing sunset. 6 AM run, gorgeous sunset. Why yes I am trying to pack in all the sightseeing!

  • Friday: last full day in London and the only part of it that I’m willing to call a rest day is the boat ride to Greenwich after doing the Tower of London. Or possibly the 15m squiz back to my hotel to charge my phone before heading to Tate Modern and dinner with a friend who I worked with in Japan 17 years ago. Another 11 miles walking day. See what I mean? Not a rest day.
  • Saturday: knew I had to leave for the airport around 10:30 so I headed out for a farewell run of London. It was a beautiful 60 and crisp. Had to abandon my usual shade running for warmth until I warmed up. It was in three parts (1,2,3) as I also did a few pre-flight errands. Wasn’t long run mileage, but better than nothing and helped me be tired enough to doze on the long flight home. Thanks to AA rebooking I was able to get a direct flight home and was tucked in bed before original connection was to take off. Life is good sometimes.
stocked smoothie fridge
oh hello beautiful East River. I missed you!
  • Sunday: I was actually not up too early time zone wise, but arranged for grocery delivery between 6 and 8AM. Why the urgency? I had no creamer for my coffee. Wasn’t supposed to be an issue as with planned connection I’d have overnighted at mom’s.  Since I was up and it was beautiful, I decided to go for a run to shake out the legs. It also looked to be the last good outdoor running day as it’s to be in the 90s all week. Yuck. The run was OK (I was tired) until my water bottle fell. I thought I hadn’t fastened the top loop. Nope, bottom came undone. I guess it’s to be expected with the weight of a 20 oz bottle bouncing up and down. When I looked up my orders, I realized I bought it on August 24, so it’s older than I thought. Time to find a new one and maybe make peace with icky, dirty reusable bottles. Any favorite hydration belts? Can’t use a backpack as they’re not allowed in NYRR races, which are most of what I do. Also, think the straw would gross me out too much. I ran a little more but had nothing left in me, so met mom for brunch got some girly girl things done and came home to crash.
farewell fair belt!

All in all an amazing trip, and great exercise week. I came home weighing less than when I left, and so many memories. More TK. Although I didn’t end up booking a running tour due to my schedule, I’d recommend London as an active vacation spot. England marked the 4th country outside the US that I’ve run in, 2nd outdoors.

Total 10M Training Mileage, July 31 to date: 55.77 miles.

#ReadySweatGo to Vermont, Week of 8.6

I’m not original, #ReadySweatGo is a hashtag my gym has been using for their free personal trainer mini sessions. But like #NeverMissAMonday, it’s a good one. I was so looking forward to some cooler runs on vacation this week. This is equal parts weekly wrap and vacation blog, since there’s zero chance of both getting written up this week so pardon the Vermont interruption.

Also happy to hit 400 miles for Run the Year. Something nice about hitting it in an atypical run location. I’m ~17 miles off pace for the 700 mile goal, but I think it’s possible to pick that up as I ramp up my training for fall, so I’m not too concerned.

While I’m oh so glad to be off racing until September 30 for the Bronx 10 Mile, I’m loving seeing runs in my training calendar err Runkeeper app so I know what I’m “supposed” to be doing. Why am I doing Runkeeper and not modified Hal? His Novice program seems too easy, and the intermediate is harder than I’m ready for. I’m definitely going to incorporate his cross training elements into what Runkeeper prescribes, which is as follows (I have no idea where they get the times from):

RunKeeper’s training plan

Like everyone else, not looking forward to the weather. I think the various linkup hosts should issue us a challenge, blog without using the word humid. So how did I do?

Weekly Wrap:

linking up with Wendy and Holly:

  • Monday: I was sore from Sunday’s hills. I didn’t take an Advil as I probably should have, and didn’t sleep well due to the heat. I felt better as the day went on and knew some activity would help. A 5K row followed by a long stretch and foam roll session hit the spot. Guess that hits Hal’s 35m cross train? As it’s August and all the reasons from last year still apply, the price of laziness came into play. Normally I’d grab the bus home from the gym, but it was “only” 86 degrees by 8:30 so I decided to walk. Nice 15K step day to start the week off.
Home away from home for the week
View from fitness center
  • Tuesday: travel day. I flew into Burlington and after spending the late morning/early afternoon exploring Church Street and having lunch, we headed up to Stowe, our home away from home for the week. Family had driven up over the weekend and my nephew, 3, was happy to give me a tour. What a gorgeous area! I’d been to Vermont before, but only Middlebury and Burlington, never had chance to explore the mountains. While I had no intention of running indoors, it was great to see the fitness center had such a stunning view and was relatively well equipped. Alas, it closed at 9 and we didn’t make it back from dinner and hunting sunsets until 8:45 ish so no formal exercise to speak of. I was also tired from a 5A wake up to get to the airport.
400! #RunTheYear miles

 

Corn mazes are A THING. We thought we’d never get out
  • Wednesday: benefit of rooming with a three year old? You’re up early. I took advantage of that and headed out to explore some of Trapp Family Lodge’s trails. Although it was a blissful 68, it was nearly 100% humidity with the thick fog. Fox Track was single track, rocky and muddy so after that first mile I headed down to the wider and better graded Sugar Road for a safer run. It’s not that the fall made me afraid of trail running, I’m just not experienced in them at all. It’s not just that I’m new to trail running, hiking was never really a thing I did before so trails wholly unfamiliar. I still enjoyed the meander, even if I came in short of the distance I was supposed to run. I had a thought of going to the treadmill for some more mileage but a couple was running a half marathon on them, although they offered to stop if someone needed, and I decided I’d rather stretch and head to breakfast.

After breakfast, we decided to check out the corn maze, something we’d never done before. I think I can honestly say we’d never do it again either. No shame, we ended up calling the stand and asking for directions out. It was surprisingly warm and sunny after the cool morning, and corn paths are just hot!

  • Thursday: I wanted to run outside, but wasn’t sure the trails would be any less muddy after Wednesday evening’s rains. I was also eager to see more of the Rec trail after seeing a short piece of it when headed to the corn maze so I decided to run into town for breakfast. The road from the Trapp Family Lodge into downtown Stowe drops about 700 feet in altitude, although it’s curved so it doesn’t feel that steep. There’s no sidewalk and not much of a shoulder to speak of, so pace was definitely impacted by making sure cars saw me in the curves. I was pleased to see that Chase Park, about halfway into town, provided an entrance to the Rec Path so I could run without traffic. Although it was a beautiful if overcast morning, the rec trail wasn’t in heavy use. I slightly overshot breakfast so had to double back. Luckily the Vermont mountain dress code appears to be active wear, so no one batted an eye at my attire at the B&B where I enjoyed lox and scrambled eggs. Is there any better post-run meal? This run was really only doable for me since I had a lift back up to the lodge – there’s no way I could have done the round trip run.

After a shower we went to meet everyone else for an exploration of Smugglers’ Notch State Park/Smugglers Cave. This is one of the ways running really changed me-I was excited for an active vacation and scrambling up damp rocks didn’t really faze me, other than a concern of falling. I bought these amazing shoes a few weeks ago and they were perfect for Vermont-more support than flip flops but not as hot as sneakers. This is definitely not something I’d have done before, or if I did so grudgingly, I wouldn’t have been looking forward to it. While skiing still has no appeal to me and there’s not enough money in the world to get me on a zipline, I really appreciated Stowe as an outdoor sports mecca and might have enjoyed more time there. I also love finding ways to explore my vacation destination via running. I’m glad to see that Darlene was a week ahead with that prompt, as it’s something I want to explore and might have time to write this week.

rowing with a view!
never too old for swings!
  • Friday: one of those days where I wish I could run three days in a row because it was a crystal clear almost chilly mountain morning. Instead I headed for the fitness center for a few minutes on the treadmill and a 3K row on their ancient machine. Oh how I appreciate the padding on the newer Ergs. Before heading to the airport, got in some quality playground time with my nephew. Contrary to what the three year old believes, you’re never too old for the swings. Coupled with some airport steps and the commute home from JFK, I hit my step goal just barely.

 

  • Saturday: so glad I finally set up my tablet since we were under flash flood and severe weather alerts. Woke at 8a to one hell of a thunderstorm and promptly rolled back over.  Had nothing on the calendar beyond housekeeping and catching up on email, so no need to get out early. I wasn’t sure about 6.5 or 8 to catch up on this week’s missed mileage plus increase on last week’s race/long run. The answer? 6.04 ugly miles. I finally got moving around 4 and by the time I got to the gym, it was 5:15 and I forgot they close at 7 on Saturdays. Oops.

The run ended up split in two parts because I was more thirsty than normal and had to refill my water bottle, during which the paused treadmill re-set. Part 1 was much stronger, although I was struggling to maintain a typical pace. Part 2 went off the rails and I made myself do speed intervals to counter the walk breaks I was taking. It was all mental, it wasn’t a physical struggle. I know these days happen, I just pushed through as best I could. Episodes of HAPPY and SVU helped to distract me slightly.  For some reason, the audio from the tablet via my Aftershokz wasn’t as good as run watch to Aftershokz and I was forced to use my old bluetooth headphones and was quickly reminded of why I switched. Sweaty, gross and did not stay put. Clearly, need to find a better solution, although I hope not to have to do too many long runs indoors. The reason I didn’t get 6.5 is I wanted a good stretch/foam roll before the gym closed as I’d been feeling the effects of not stretching after Thursday’s run.

I won’t lie – I also bribed myself with food. For $ reasons, I’ve been trying to cut back on weekend sushi and limit it to race days. But I said if I got six, I’d let myself have sushi tonight. Helped that I really didn’t have any other options in the house and I knew I still wanted the protein. Food reward is not ideal, but I don’t think sushi is the worst of choices. It was truly what I craved, and I let myself have it. My love of sushi is one of many reasons I could never manage a pregnancy.

  • Sunday: rest day. Body needed it – a week’s worth of dampness is wreaking havoc on my knee, and I’m tired. Also needed to take care of some errands. Being that it’s New York, that still meant 8,500 steps. 😮

 

nom nom nom. Note: some were shared dishes

Overall, happy with the active choices I made on vacation. I didn’t let vacation get in the way of exercise and added a new state. Eating could have been way better, but I don’t regret a single bite. Actually, I lie. I regret Friday’s carb bomb and I think that’s probably part of why I struggled Saturday. By the time I got to the airport for my flight, I was craving protein. Alas BTV offerings were slim as were JetBlue’s in flight for a super short flight. I did not help matters by getting Subway for dinner. But overall, choices were good as seafood options abounded. Dinner entrees were cod, ahi tuna and salmon. Desserts were small and I was active. I was catching up on my Runner’s World newsletters this weekend after catching up on past issues on the flight and this came up. It’s true for me. Running is allowing me to maintain, but this ~six month plateau is less plateau and more poor eating choices. Going to fix this in the coming months.

While Stowe wasn’t previously on my radar, I loved it. Easy place for an active or do-nothing vacation, fun downtown shops and one bookstore! I’ve actually never seen Sound of Music, so some of the von Trapp family history was new to me. If the trails had been less muddy I might have gone up to the chapel. I’d definitely love to return in fall, which I imagine is closer to peak. What surprised me vs. other places we’ve vacationed in summer is it wasn’t crazy. At most we waited 5M for a table at dinner and it appeared all of the hotels had vacancy. It didn’t seem to be suffering a downturn, but rather summer is their slower season. You couldn’t pay me enough to drive up to The Notch in winter conditions, though I’d happily enjoy the snowy scenes from the hot tub. It’s not particularly accessible if you don’t drive, but you can probably get an uber from Burlington if no one can pick you up.

Plan for This Week:

  • Monday: Run
  • Tuesday: Cross Train
  • Wednesday: Run with Darlene!
  • Thursday: Office Run Group
  • Friday: Fly

10M Training Mileage, July 31 to date: 25.73

TOTR: Running on Vacation

It’s funny, even though I’ve “met” so many fun folks via the Weekly Wrap, new linkups still give me blogger newbie nerves. I was just going to comment on Darlene’s post, but then that comment was turning into an essay and I decided to make it a post. Plus, the theme is travel: how could I not with the roots of this blog!

Running on vacation, yes or no. For me it’s a definite yes as running has become a big part of who I am in the last eighteen months. This is the biggest difference between other forms of exercise which I was happy to use vacation as an escape from. Thanks, Strava, for this walk down memory lane

Linking up with: Erika at MCM Mama, Marcia at Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and Patty at No Guilt Life.

2017:

It was a decision I had to face early on in my running “career” when I took a vacation to Iceland and Amsterdam in mid-February 2017. While there wasn’t enough daylight to run outdoors in Iceland, I made it to the gym on two occasions after days spent sightseeing. Amsterdam was a very walk/runnable city and I probably could have run outdoors, if I didn’t use every inch of daylight for sightseeing. While some of this could be attributable to newbie excitement, I couldn’t imagine not running in this week. It was also a good way to help deal with the jetlag.

The next time I had to face it was on a trip to Southern California in May. I got both a beachside and clifftop run in and then explored my host’s neighborhood in my first real experience running at altitude. This was a great way to get some activity in on a trip that featured a lot of car time.

July brought my first international outdoor runs, which was also my first time needing to work runs around a business trip. I could get in a morning warmup and then explore old Montreal, where my hotel was. This was a great way to get in some me time during a fully packed conference and balance out some indulging meals. Plus riverside in Montreal made the summer weather easier to cope with.

August featured humid runs at the beach (some cut short by running in a “forbidden” area) and running at altitude. Also, a quickie to experience a new state (to which I subsequently returned). I can honestly say I never factored in hotel fitness centers prior to this trip. I’d hope they had one, but didn’t worry about kind or quantity of treadmill(s).

Even when not on vacation but just outside my normal comfort zone, I found new places to explore and get in some exercise. And I didn’t let holidays keep me from running.

2018:

2018 brought a new to me kind of vacation: the run-cation. Not only was I running on vacation, but I traveled for the express purpose of running!

sunrise over the Atlantic, along A1A

When I went to Florida for the A1A Half Marathon, I also had my first experience with running out of water on a hot run. Twice. Who said vacations aren’t educational? I also joined a hotel fun run to further acclimate to humidity. It was a good balance to the rest of the long weekend spent lazing by the pool with a book or six.

Cheese ball! So glad for the heat wrap

Next up? Washington DC for the iconic Cherry Blossom 10 miler. While in Florida I didn’t sight see but had to take care this trip not to walk my feet off before the race. Race day ended up being a 50k step day because I walked the tidal basin after to keep from stiffening up.

May brought 108 degree business travel, so I was grateful for a well-furbished hotel fitness center. I continued to squeeze in runs, chase a PR and stretch before the redeye home. Other activity that trip included a walk at the south rim of the Grant Canyon. Is a business trip really vacation? I count it because it’s out of my routine. Later in May was a long road trip where I explored before we headed east to Palm Springs (warm, but scenic) and subsequently back west to Santa Monica. One day I’ll have a decent pace on the beach, but so many photos. Don’t regret a single one. Running is a great way to see a new area.

So far I’ve run outdoors in: New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, Washington D.C., and Montreal and indoors in: Wyoming, South Dakota, Arizona, Iceland, and Amsterdam. In the near future I hope to enjoy outdoor runs in Vermont, London. I like using running as an avenue to visit new places. Sometimes the cities are the draw, other times the races are.

What’s your favorite place that you’ve run?

 

 

Wounded Knee and the Oregon Trail

Welcome to Pine Ridge – Oglala Lakota

Flickr plugin still broken. Photos are here.

This is the post I’ve simultaneously been wanting to write while still driving that day, and dreading because it’s so complicated. It doesn’t have the undercurrent of dark tourism that the Charleston plantations or Oklahoma City did, but maybe it should? It certainly started to once this trip unwound

Katia Hetter’s words still ring true

In a culture where death is sanitized and often left to hospitals and hospice centers away from people’s daily lives, death made public by tragedy fascinates people enough to make memorial sites a popular stopping point on otherwise fun-filled vacationsWhen memories of the actual events fade, many people still come to memorials looking for answers as to why an awful thing could happen”

I think part of the problem with the Native American history is similar to that of slavery – even prior to the recent conversations about memorials. Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, 9/11, the person to blame is “other”. Nazi Germany, Japan, Al Qaeda terrorists. Civil War, Native American issues such as Trail of Tears and Wounded Knee? Mirror time. Maybe that’s why not as many people do Oklahoma City and Hiroshima/Nagasaki – it’s uncomfortable.

words of Red Cloud. White River Visitor Center
Information about Pine Ridge – White River Visitor Center

Wounded Knee is about a 90 minute-two hour drive from Rapid City depending on how long you spend at the White River Visitor Center. I think that’s a mandatory stop to understand the underlying issues before you tackle Wounded Knee (and the Oregon Trail – or after the Oregon Trail if you’re headed north). The White River Visitor Center is co managed by the National Parks and the Oglala Lakota, with a tribal interpreter there when available. It’s when I first started thinking about and regretted skipping Fort Laramie.

Fort Laramie and the Black Hills – White River Visitor Center

For me – and I’m sure many other people who haven’t travelled out this way, all I knew about the Sioux was from Dances with Wolves. I certainly didn’t know that it wasn’t what the Lakota preferred to call themselves, although I was aware of the poverty issues across reservations. Driving through Pine Ridge certainly brings that home – you see the lack of industry and employment opportunities.

After stopping for about half an hour at White River, I continued my drive south to Wounded Knee. I’d read the conflicting advice and reviews prior, but decided I still wanted to stop. The Ranger at White River told me they drew fewer than ten people a day, on average, and that’s sad as it’s literally on the road. Granted not a well traveled road, but it’s not like there’s another easy way through this area.

Wounded Knee Cemetery

 

“I shall not be there. I shall rise and pass. Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.”

I had the words of Stephen Vincent Benet on the brain for much of this trip even though they have nothing to do with the site itself. I had the best laid plans of reading Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Rinker Buck’s The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey (and was lamenting owning that on Kindle and not in hard copy for a photo with the trail ruts, but alas print copy font is too small!) on this trip, but there just wasn’t the reading time.

The cemetery is just across the road from the parking lot that overlooks the site of the Massacre itself. It’s free, there’s a large parking not and I was the second visitor of the day per the person manning the small info desk. That’s just heartbreaking. There isn’t a lot to see there right now, but the sign and adjacent kiosks with information are a good place to rest and reflect. The museum is closed, although there’s supposed to be one in Wall. With the signs for snakes and insufficient footwear, I didn’t walk up to the cemetery.

What is it now? No one knows. It’s still for sale, and its future is unclear. Should it be a National Monument? I go both ways on it. Four Corners is Navajo managed but has the tourism draw of complete silliness despite also being out of the way. The southern portion of Badlands is co managed by the Oglala and National Parks and seems to work. Would Wounded Knee be better serviced with National Parks funds? Probably – but I don’t see it happening under Trump when his administration is interested in contracting parks size. This isn’t an issue he’s going to be open minded to.

It was with a lot weighing on my mind that I headed back south. I knew I’d be following the Oregon Trail and couldn’t do it as casually as I had back in Wyoming.

Stonehenge in cars, Alliance Nebraska

In some ways, I was glad for Carhenge as an interlude to clear the brain. I was also grateful for a place to stop, stretch and walk about 200 miles into my drive as I didn’t feel Wounded Knee was right for that. Carhenge is silly, but fun and draws people to a region that benefits from increased tourism. The artwork is also beautiful. Alas the main road bypasses the town and I couldn’t find somewhere to eat so I got a snack and drove on.

Historical trails converging near Chimney Rock
Jail and Courthouse Rock

Walking the Oregon Trail, Scott’s Bluff, NE

I’m not completely sure if it was the heat, hovering between 95 and 100 degrees throughout the day, or Wounded Knee weighing on me, but this definitely was not an in depth trip through the Oregon Trail locations. With the areas still being somewhat rural, it was easy to feel as if you were seeing these landmarks in the way the pioneers did, especially Jail and Courthouse Rocks from a long distance. (Would also have been true for Chimney Rock but for the smoke and haze).

The heat is the primary reason I only really walked Scott’s Bluff (alongside the wagons!) and then did the driving route to the top. Chimney Rock had rattle snakes and I just wasn’t prepared for the heat. It left me with a lot of time to think about the intersection, especially as I saw how many trails and pioneers converged in this region. There is no doubt their exploration indirectly led to the violence at Little Bighorn and Wounded Knee. Does it make their actions wrong? No. It’s a big part of what made America America, but it bears thought and reflection.

I think doing Wounded Knee and the Oregon Trail in one day make it even more poignant. As I came southwest, I thought about whether I could make Fort Laramie. In the end, I decided not to. It was too far out of the way and I likely wouldn’t get there before closing . I also wasn’t sure I could safely drive more than four hundred miles in a day. But I’m thinking about Fort Laramie and the events around it even weeks later, so I think that counts as going in some ways. I’ll continue to reflect on it absolutely.

History is complicated.

Oh, and I still need to read all of the books listed in the Charleston and OKC posts. Whoops.