Sometimes It Just Clicks

Sometimes a run just clicks and the result is nothing but sweat and smiles. 

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Yesterday was the first time I can remember that a long run was equally enjoyable for both Bo and me. As you know, Bo has dealt with numerous knee and leg issues over the past five years including a torn calf muscle and two meniscus surgeries. Due to these issues and before that our different paces, the Geneva Half Marathon is the first one that we are training for together!

After a great week of workouts, our long run plan from Jess yesterday called for 8 relaxed miles. The goal was to maintain a consistent pace, somewhere around a 9:40. Historically, I’ve had a hard time wrapping my mind around why long runs are typically prescribed at a pace slower than half marathon goal pace. But, this time around, I’m listening to my coach!

We decided to get a preview of the half marathon course by taking the tram up a few stops to where the actual race begins. After some dynamic warm-ups, we hit the road.

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Our route was beautiful and very different than our typical lake front path where we run during the week.

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The first six miles included small, rolling hills while the final two miles were flat and fast. We kept our eye on our Nike+ app to ensure we kept our pace around the 9:40 point. This slower pace meant that we were able to spend the time running catching up, a nice change versus this week’s other runs, which left us breathless. While we shared a water bottle during our run, neither of us felt the need to stop or take fuel. Our pre-run breakfast of toast, fruit and coffee fueled us perfectly!

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We dropped the pace during our final mile, to see what we had left in our legs. We were all smiles when we realized that we finished right on target and our final mile was the fastest!

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Within minutes we were refueling with brunch at Le Pain Quotidien!

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Did you run this weekend? What’s your favorite way to refuel after a run?

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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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