Barcelona Running Tour

Hands down, my favorite memory in Barcelona was our sunrise running tour with Robin, the owner of Running Tours Barcelona.

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As soon as we booked our trip to Barcelona, I started researching running tours. In large cities such as Paris, Barcelona and London running tours are a great way to remove the intimidation factor, learn a great deal and squeeze in a great workout.  While we’ve had a tough time finding running tours in smaller cities during the off-season, we thoroughly enjoyed our Paris running tour last November.

Running Tours Barcelona offers 7 private to semi-private tour options as well as 4 group tour options for those who are looking for less expensive options. Since each of our three days in Barcelona would be quite full, we booked the Early Bird 10km tour which starts before sunrise, at 7am and finishes by 8:30. The early hour of the tour allowed us to experience Barcelona in a whole new way – without the distraction of people.

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We met Robin, our guide, outside our hotel at 7am, just before the sun rose, ready for an hour of exploration. He quickly explained that the tour would lead us through many parts of Barcelona including many of the top sights but also including smaller, lesser explored areas such as the Olympic athletes village and Parc de la Ciutadella.  

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As you can see from the pictures, the streets were empty of people except the stragglers leaving the late night clubs when we started and a few people walking their dogs as we ended. As we ran through the streets, Robin shared history and facts with us, many of which we didn’t learn the previous day during our walking tour. While that tour focused more on Barcelona’s history and Gaudi, our running tour focused on modern Barcelona such as the impacts of tourism, government changes, the future of Barcelona’s port, the impact the 1992 Olympics had on Barcelona, as well as what it is like to live in Barcelona.

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We sprinted to the beach to ensure we made it in time to watch the sunrise.

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We were able to learn about the increasing demand for mega yacht space in the Barcelona harbor while ogling the huge, gorgeous boats.

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We followed the beach front path through Barcoleneta towards Port Olimpic while enjoying views of Frank Gehry’s Golden Fish and Peix Hotel d’Arts.

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We marveled in the now empty Place del Rei, as we learned about Christopher Columbus ties to Barcelona.

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We enjoyed the beauty of Ciutadella Park, home to the Barcelona Zoo, Parliament of Catalonia, and a large fountain designed by Josep Fontsere.

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The 12 kilometer or 7.5 mile run flew by and before we knew it we were entering Las Ramblas and stopping for a final selfie at our hotel.

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While the running tour wasn’t cheap, at 75 euros, it allowed us to see new parts of the city and as well as enjoy the gorgeous sunrise views and Robin’s extensive knowledge. Thank you Robin and Running Tours Barcelona for the amazing start to our day!

I was not compensated or provided a complimentary tour in exchange for this post. All opinions are our own; we really just LOVED the tour and love supporting small companies!

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Running through Cap Ferrat

Greetings from Spring Break 2015!

Similar to last year, Bo and I are taking advantage of the fact that we have Good Friday and Easter Monday off from work. Last year we explored Munich, Prague and Vienna with our friends Mike and Liz during the Easter holiday. This year we were craving sunshine and some quality time together. So much of our travel these past few months has been with friends that it’s rare for us to travel alone.

We decided that a road trip from Geneva to South of France then over to Barcelona would be perfect. The weather is ten or so degrees warmer than Geneva, the food is wonderful and it allows us to see Barcelona, a city which was high on our list.

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The six hour drive from Geneva to Cap Ferrat took us through Switzerland, Italy, Monaco and France. We made a quick stop in Monaco to stretch our legs, explore the docks and daydream.

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We made it down to our hotel in Cap Ferrat, Hotel Brise Marine, around sunset. Cap Ferrat is a small, quaint seaside town in the South of France.

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Bo’s parents recommended we visit Cap Ferrat for at least one night, as it was their favorite spot when they traveled to France a few years ago. Our hotel room was simple but the views were gorgeous and it was far less expensive than the other hotels in the area.

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We experienced the true magic of Cap Ferrat this morning, just after sunrise.  Per the recommendation of our friends Lauren and Ryan, we took a 4 mile run along the island, following the Cap Ferrat Path. The coastal path goes from town through lush flora and along the rocky, limestone coast until looping back into town.

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The path started on pavement before transitioning to a rocky path which passed the lighthouse, multiple luxury homes, gorgeous clear water coves, and the local beach.

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Once we turned the cove we had views of the nearby towns, Beaulieu-sur-Mer and the port of Villefranche. Boats were heading out for the day and fishermen were perched on the rocks, in search of the perfect catch. There were no other sounds on the path other than the crashing waves and our feet against the gravel.

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If you find yourself in the South of France, make sure to spend at least an afternoon enjoying Cap Ferrat’s hiking paths and relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy breakfast overlooking the port and watch as boats come in and out of the small harbor. We can already tell that it’s very different than the energy of Nice and Cannes.

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The J Word

As Spring race season is just getting kicked off back in the United States, my Facebook feed is filled with friends excited to run races of all distances. Some people are traveling down to Washington, DC this weekend for the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC marathon and half marathon while others are enjoying local races.

Some people have aspirations of setting new personal bests during these upcoming races while others are looking forward to enjoying warmer temperatures and coming out of winter hibernation.

More and more, I see and hear friends describing their accomplishments of training for a race, regardless the distance, with the word JUST.  I am guilty of this habit as well, doing the same yesterday during a Facebook conversation with a friend. He kindly complimented me and said that my early morning runs inspire his girlfriend to get out of bed. My response was naturally to say I JUST ran 5 miles and could never be an actual Nike ad. 

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I wish we would stop using this four letter word, replacing it instead with another description. JUST  is the way we naturally downplay accomplishments or minimize them. I see it more often in women, as women often find it uncomfortable to be proud of their accomplishments both personally and professionally, instead minimizing them. 

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Think about the effect this can have on both the person using the term and those around them. If we stick with the running example, this can play out in multiple ways.

I’m not running the marathon; I’m JUST running the half marathon.

1. This mentally makes the runner think that the half marathon isn’t as important or difficult as the marathon distance. This can result in under training, a less than optimal mental state and reduce the excitement of crossing the finish line. Earlier this week, my coach wrote a post about the mistakes people make when training for a half marathon, and this is the #1 mistake she captured.

2. This can affect other runners as well. Remember how you felt when you trained for your first race? Whether it was a 5k or a marathon, it felt like the most important race of your life and such an accomplishment. There are beginners all around us, looking forward to crossing their first finish line. If they are training their hearts out for their first half marathon, by downplaying that accomplishment and using the word JUST  you make them feel as if it isn’t a big accomplishment.

Allow yourself small victories. Don’t deny giving yourself credit for accomplishing something, no matter how insignificant it might seem at the time.

So next time someone asks you about your training or distance, own that distance with 100% of your heart and mind. Regardless your goal, don’t JUST  run the race. Instead, be proud and loud about the decision to cross the starting line. There are thousands of other people who have yet to leave the sofa and it is our responsibility as runners to motivate and inspire them through our accomplishments.

Thank you to Jess for inspiring this post and to those friends whom I’ve called out this week for using the term JUST, I apologize but you need to start owning your accomplishments!

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The Race That 20% of Geneva Runs

Happy Monday! Bo and I are so glad that we stayed in Geneva this weekend to partake in the L’Escalade festivities. We were out and about with friends all day Saturday and then spent yesterday relaxing together.

Unfortunately my week hasn’t started off well as I’ve slept more today than I’ve been awake and have been plagued with stomach issues and cold symptoms all day. Hopefully the day off work today and lots of sleep will allow me to be back in the office tomorrow! There are only 9 more working days before Christmas vacation begins so I don’t have time to be sick!

Instead of dwelling on the way I feel, let’s go back to this weekend’s race – Course de l’Escalade. In its 37th year, the Course de l’Escalade literally takes over the Old Town of Geneva for a weekend of racing events. In fact, over 40,000 people take part in the races which equals more than 20% of Geneva’s population! The weekend is an annual festival commemorating Geneva’s defeat of the Duke of Savoy in 1602.

The event is truly for everyone with distances ranging from 2km to 8km depending on category and activities including walking, running and Nordic walking.  It should be noted that the women’s distance and men’s distance are different, 4.8 km for the women and 7.2 km for the men. When people emailed organizers requesting why the difference, they stated that they assumed women wouldn’t want to run the longer distance.

Regardless of differences, we all had a blast running on Saturday! The women’s race includes two laps of the course which goes through the hilly, narrow, cobblestone streets of  Old Town Geneva while the men’s race is 3 laps of the same course. We were able to catch a glimpse of the 17-19 year old group running as we headed over to the starting area to meet the girls. Those guys were FAST!

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The three of us running met 30 minutes before our race, at 2pm, in order to get into the corral area and warm-up.  I opted for a holiday themed running outfit, sporting as much red as possible. Red was not a common color as most other runners were wearing either black or neon colors.

imagephoto 1 (2)As usual, there was an official warm-up before the start including fun music and group led stretches and exercises. The three of us opted to chat and catch up versus focus on the warm-up as we were all aiming for a PR in fun. Our goal was to take in the sights and sounds of Old Town as this truly is one of the most fun weekends in Geneva. The city felt alive with the influx of people, live bans filling the streets and scent of mulled wine lingering out of every bar.

Due to the packed streets and large group of women running, we could barely move for the first lap through Old Town as you can see from this picture. The loop took us through the old medieval portion of Geneva, around the Russian Church area, past a few small parks and through Parc Bastion. The entire course was lined with people cheering, ranging from children asking for high fives to families banging pots and pans or shaking cowbells!

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By the second lap Kerrie and I were flying through Old Town, taking our pace down to what felt like an 8:30 or so. You can tell from my smile in this picture that I was happy to be running faster and have the crowd behind and in front versus next to me. We definitely spent the first half weaving through runners, as best as possible, trying to push forward.

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We finished in 29:02, a 9:33 pace, which was perfect considering we chatted the whole way and started towards the back. I grabbed a warm cup of tea and goody bag before we each parted ways. Our plan was to meet back up to cheer the men on later in the day. Bo and I wandered through the participant area and enjoyed a warm bowl of soup before heading back home.

Bo and the rest of our guy friends didn’t run until 5pm so by the time their race started there were white twinkling lights and torches lighting their path. There were more people out lining the streets than earlier and the entire area was buzzing. There were a few of us standing together cheering for the men, sipping on hot, mulled wine and laughing at ourselves as we screamed French motivational phrases at the runners as they sped past.

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As you can tell from the neon blur above, our friend Ranald, kept a wicked fast 6:48 per mile pace while Bo and the rest of the guys all finished strong and had a blast!

The Course de l’Escalade race was a wonderful way to end the Fall running season in Geneva which included three great races following the Berlin Marathon. We are already looking forward to next year!

Your turn: Have you ever participated in an event which has different distances for men versus women?

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