It was only a matter of time before I combined travelling with racing!
I always said I'd go to Germany when I had a good reason - I'm quite German by ancestry, but I'd always been more tempted by mediterranean countries and did my share of travelling through them before the dollar really fell in 2003-2004. I just never made it back to Europe, but boy I have been craving it! When a friend of mine said that she was going to run the Berlin marathon last December, I thought about it for about one day and entered. There is so much amazing history in Berlin, AND it has the fastest marathon course! It all fell into place - I've done the Chicago marathon three times and am starting to feel more comfortable with the distance, if that's possible. Two more good friends signed up, and several extended people I've met or heard about through the Chicago running community - now we have ourselves a party!
2011 has been a great year for running and racing. It's always been a part of my life. High school cross country holds some special memories for me - and I still stay in touch with my XC friend, Karenn (who also still runs amazingly fast). Some years I barely run at all. When I first moved to Chicago at 25 I ran a lot of races but never had the discipline to attack anything longer than 7 or 8 miles. I couldn't fathom getting up early to run. In 2007 I ran my first half marathon and loved it. Running has been there for me though high school, college, moves, family drama, birthdays, relationships good and bad. It empowers me and makes me happy. How many people can still practice their high school sport at 40 and LOVE it? I became hooked on the longer distances, and now can't imagine my summers without it. I've made some close friends through the marathon - especially in the past year and a half - we get together for dinners/drinks, enter races together and laugh. My marathon friends are particularly obsessed with food. Facebook posts have food pictures that are discussed at length. We never tire of discussing food, relationships, going to the bathroom and running. We even secretly meet at a park district track a few times a year to hold a one mile race while drinking a PBR each 400 meters:
I never do well in that race. But it's a great time!
What do I love even more than running? Travelling! I will spend 4 days in Berlin with the Chicago friends, then we take a train to Munich for Oktoberfest. After that, I'm going to recover alone in Cesky Krumlov for a few nights, then meet two of my friends up in Prague for a few more days of revelry. After that, I'll just go wherever I feel like in the Czech Republic, making my way through Slovakia and ending in Vienna. Goals for the trip:
Run a 4:10 marathon
Sing Oktoberfest songs
meet random Germans and feel related to them
sit at cafes for hours and ponder life
eat currywurst, sachertorte, spaetzle, and any encased meat that comes my way!
OK the meat goal sounded a little dirty.
watch european scenery go by on long train rides
meet strangers, have drinks with them and learn their life story (happens on every trip)
try wine made in Germany and the Czech republic
come home stuffed, happy and full of stories
which I will write about here. Please feel free to comment any time! I love hearing from friends at home while I'm on vacation.