There’s a SmashinBeauty out there that needs your vote!!!

Dear readers and runners (this is not a running post but keep reading anyway)

I have a favor to ask.  My good friend and beauty blogger Smashinbeauty has been working her butt off for the last few years towards becoming a really successful makeup artist.

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Gorgeous, right?!

She’s funny and pretty and one of her passions is Halloween.  Now, if you’re in need of a spooky or sexy or fun Halloween look you should check out her site because she’s got tons of stuff on there.

But here comes the favor.  Her Breaking Bad tutorial has gotten her nominated for Favorite Halloween Makeup Guru and what I need you to go and do right now is click here and vote for her (ie Smashinbeauty).  It would be great if you could share her video as well.

I cannot tell you how talented this girl is and how much this all means to her.  So if you don’t mind, take a minute or two and vote.

Race Recap: Zagreb Half-Marathon

Sunday morning I woke up at 7 to prepare myself a pre-race breakfast of oatmeal and dried apricots.  It was quiet.  The girls were sleeping, so was the husband.  I felt relatively calm considering that the day before I was nervous, anxious, tired and in an incredibly grumpy mood.

Breakfast was nice and quiet.  I checked online six more times that the race was starting at 10.  I was paranoid that I was going to be late because, of course, I had a bad dream that I had missed the start.

About an hour later the rest of the family was waking up and that is when the nerves started to kick in.  I was full of doubt, convinced that I was not prepared, and that it was just a stupid decision to run this race.  I don’t know why I was so down on myself, but I just was.  I was sad that I wasn’t excited – because I really wanted to be.

I headed out the door around 9.  The Sunday morning streets were quiet and the closer I got to the main square the more runners I saw out there warming up.  I was relieved to see them and knew that I was on time.  The fifteen minute walk gave me enough time to calm down, take some deep breaths and say to myself that I was going to be ok.

I arrived on Jelacic Square to a mass of runners, laughing, stretching, jogging around.  I noticed that the organizers did a better job this year blocking off the start area so that there wasn’t a mingle of runners and spectators crammed into the main gate.

I dropped off my stuff and went out for a little warm-up run.  I hit the toilets on the way back and did a few more stretches while they were slowly calling the marathoners and half-marathoners to gather at the start.  There was only about ten minutes left until the gun went off and I was finally, thankfully, getting pumped.  I knew there was no turning back now and I was totally ok with that.

 

There was a lot of cheering and clapping as the racers ran through the start and there was a lot of people standing on the sidewalks cheering everyone on.

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Counting down

It seemed like there were a lot more supporters out there than when I ran this race two years ago, and that was a nice feeling.  I was proud to see that so many people came out, especially since Zagreb is not necessarily known to be very supportive of this event.

Around a mile in I was running through our neighborhood and it is here that I finally put my earbuds in and started getting into a rhythm.  I was running a 9:20 pace.  Too fast.  I knew I had to slow down but to be honest, I thought my Nike+ app was playing games, because I didn’t feel like I was running that fast at all.  In fact, despite efforts to slow down, I managed to hold the pace for the first seven miles.

My goal was to make it to the first turn-around.  I knew that if I made it to there I would be ok for the rest of the race.  About three miles in there was a water stop serving bananas, sugar cubes, water and sportdrinks.  I grabbed a cup of water, threw a sugar cube in and gripped a quarter of a banana in my other hand.  I had remembered that two years ago I just kinda popped the banana into my mouth and felt sick very soon after, so this time I just took tiny nibbles and ate maybe about a tenth of it before I gave up on it and tossed it to the side.  Meanwhile the sugar melted in the water and I had some sweetness to sip on as I ran.

As we trudged along I saw that the elites were on their way back and so I knew we weren’t too far away from the turning point.  As more and more racers were headed back the noise picked up and there was cheering and clapping all around.  I think that is what I most like about the out-and-back type of race.  We’re all there to support eachother and it really does give you a lift when a complete stranger is shouting out GOOD JOB!

At just under five miles the race slowed down just a bit as runners were navigating that first turn.  I was so happy.  I had run through, what I had considered, the most difficult part of the race.  I knew we weren’t half done, but I felt like I had gotten over the initial miles and it should be smooth sailing from there on.

At around eight miles,  at the next water stop, I slowed down to a walk, grabbed some more water and kinda gave myself a break.  I scanned the runners that passed me and kept an eye on those I thought I’d like to catch up to.  It was around here as well that I was again back in my neighborhood, and luckily for me, my friend Katarina was looking out the window from her fifth floor apartment and snapped these awesome pics…

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That’s me, all black, white cap

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Arrow is pointing straight at me!

I was feeling good as we headed back to the square.  I was hoping that I would see my husband and daughters around there but I must have been running so fast that I just didn’t spot them.  But we did both see the poor marathoner that wiped out on the course as he was starting his second lap (half-marathoners only had to run one lap, thank goodness!).

As I ran through the square and headed west I was starting to feel not so great again.  I knew that I was in those final three miles but something in my head kept telling me that I couldn’t/shouldn’t be doing this.  I mean honestly, why am I even putting myself through this ordeal?  But I kept going.  My time was still quite good and I knew that if I could just hold pace (I was down to about 9:35) I could end up with a relatively good time.  But no, my head just wouldn’t let me push through those last few miles and I ended up having two more walk breaks.  As I hit the final turn-around I knew that I had about fifteen minutes to go.  It was a relief.  And at that point I didn’t really care if I was walking or running, I just knew that I would be finishing the race.  And I couldn’t have asked for a better reward.

Just a little bit more...

Just a little bit more…
http://www.3sporta.com/foto

At about a quarter of a mile out I saw the finish line.  It took some navigating to get there as we had to cut through runners coming at us, but I managed, though it all seemed so far away.  The square was packed with supporters, people yelling and cheering and high-fiving.  I finally spotted my family standing at the finish line and I remembered to put that smile on my face because it was the only thing I had promised myself I would do.

Final time, 2:09:59.  A PB.

My eight year-old snapped this one

My eight year-old snapped this one

After getting my gear, my medal, and grabbing a bottle of water we walked ever so slowly back home.  I barely made it.  I was in so much pain, and my legs just weren’t cooperating.  When we finally managed to get up the three flights of stairs to our apartment (boy, do I sometimes wish we had an elevator)  I threw myself on the couch and just lay there.  My husband brought me some aspirin – I never, ever take any sort of medication but these two little pills were so welcome at that point.  As I washed them down with some water the whole event started to sink in.

I finished the race.  Despite doubting myself I went out and I did it.  And there are a few things I learnt or was reminded of along the way.  1: I love this event.  I love the training that goes into it and the sense of accomplishment when it is all said and done.  2: I have a long way to go.  I know that there is so much more in me.  And if I took a more serious approach to my training I could do even better.  3: marathoners are just plain crazy and there is no way in hell I am ever doing that. LOL!  Kidding, marathoners are not crazy but I do know that I have no interest in ever running that distance.  Well, maybe not just yet.

Now that you’re all up-to-date I’m going to go and re-park myself back on that couch and revel in my 21k experience🙂

T’was the night before the half…

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…and all through the house…

Oh screw the rhyme. Am tired. Grumpy. Have lost all faith in myself and fear I will fall on my face and be laughed at by onlookers whilst being happily run over by angry driver who is already pissed his route to the fruit market has been blocked by a bunch of hippy vegetarian pansies running around in tights and rainbow colored running shoes.

Sorry about that.
What I meant to say was: Race Day Tomorrow! Yeay!!!

Only six more days…

….until the Zagreb Marathon and Half-Marathon.

I, of course, am only doing the Half.  Two years ago I ran this very same course for my first ever half-marathon.  This will now be my second, hence you can see what an uber-experienced runner I am.

Last week I was extremely nervous and doubtful and still hadn’t paid my registration fees.  I think somewhere in the back of my mind I still wasn’t convinced that I could do this.  Hell, it took me three days to talk myself into doing the ten-miler that was scheduled for last Sunday.  On that Wednesday, when I finally said to myself that I had to do it I opted to go run somewhere completely different.  And I think that helped.  I was kinda lost, but not really.  I had a general idea of where I was, I let myself have walk breaks when I wanted to, and took it relatively easily, like I should.  In the end, it took me 1:45 to complete the run, slow but steady.  But most importantly, I learnt a few things along the way.

Through the course of my training this year I came to realize that although I am a competitive person, I don’t really care all that much about finish times.  In fact, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if I don’t beat my first half-marathon time of 2:11:14.  The Adidas race series taught me this.  Through the five races I learnt that time is not important; participating and completing the race are what count.  Sure I had my ups and downs, starting too fast/slow, trying to pass others who would in turn pass me, running in heat and in rain, coming to terms with the fact that I really did need a new pair running shoes.

What I also learnt was that with running on a regular basis you really don’t need to be worried about being fit enough to run a longer race.  This was my concern last week when I was stalling running the ten-miler.  I was worried that my legs, and/or my lungs,  wouldn’t be able to handle it.  But the ten-miler proved me wrong.  When I was done I realized that I could have easily run more, and that all my doubts and fears and excuses were just figments of my overactive imagination.  Before that long run last week I feared collapsing somewhere by some random forest, and even while I was running I was worried because I had no ID on me and wondered how the paramedics would figure out who I was.  That’s the problem with these long runs.  You start imagining all kinds of stuff.  What if I twist my ankle and fall off the sidewalk onto the road and get run over by a car.  Or what if that German Shepherd down the road jumps the fence and rips my face off.  Or what if I get attacked by a bunch of twelve year-olds who film the whole thing and post it on youtube; frankly, I’d rather have the dog rip off my face, somehow it seems less embarrassing.

But that’s all in my head.  I realized that day that physically I can handle the runs, and all I really need to work on now is the mental aspect of the whole experience.

I’m taking it totally easy this week.  I’m only going to do two half hour runs, nice and easy, enjoying the weather, that sort of thing.  The rest of my ‘training’ time I’m gonna focus on visualizing the race, visualizing the finish-line, and visualizing me crossing it, with a smile on my face… like the first time….

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Wish me luck people, I’m getting excited now🙂

Adidas Race Review – Folnegovicevo Naselje

Well, almost a full week has passed since the final race of the Adidas Neighborhood race series and I am proud to announce that it ended on a high note🙂

The weather on Saturday wasn’t exactly pretty – it was cloudy and there was the constant threat of either a drizzle or a downpour but somehow it held out until everyone had completed their runs.

I need to emphasize that this fifth, and final, race was probably my best one.  I felt good right from the start.  I started off quick but not too quick and soon found the one or two women who could ‘pace me’ through to the end.  I enjoyed it because I didn’t have to think about anything the whole way through.  Other than focusing on keeping up, I managed to spend a lot of the run kinda analyzing their running form.  One of them, in particular, had this sort of gazelle-like motion and ran the whole race on her toes.  It was good that I was so occupied by the fact that she never put her heels down because by the time we ended our second of two laps I was pleasantly surprised that the finish line seemed to come so quickly.

Chasing down the gazelle...

Chasing down the gazelle…

I finished with a time of 21:50 (pretty decent) and points-wise I came in 9th overall.

Now, you’d think that having been one of only ten women who competed in all five races there’d be a marching band and fireworks being blasted in our honor.  But nope.  As far as I know, there was absolutely no reward for participating in all five races.  No gift certificate.  No free race registration for the upcoming Zagreb Marathon and Half.  Of course, there were people who received these wonderful prizes, but I wasn’t one of them.

In the end though, I got something that was so much better.  It took me a few days to realize it, but my reward was the fact that I had achieved a goal.  And it wasn’t a little goal.  It was a goal that was set back in the spring when the race series was initially announced.  And I have the Adidas peeps to thank for that.  They are the ones who organized a series of five manageable races, distances that anyone can run.  And I think that is the key to organizing a successful event like this.

So for those of you wondering would I do this again?  The answer is YES!  HELL YES!!!

Healthy eating and all that junk…

I have this theory about people who shop at Whole Foods – or its Croatian equivalent, Bio&Bio…

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My husband and I were there a few days ago and stocked up on uber healthy whole this-that-and-the-other food to try out and, perhaps, help us change our sinful/junkful/unhealthy ways.  Pretty much everything that we bought was yummy.  Our girls, on the other hand, weren’t too hot about most of it (but they are young and we shall forgive them for their sugar and processed food addiction only because, frankly, it is OUR fault that they are addicted in the first place).

But besides the fact that our bodies are screaming for help, I’ve come to realize something about these healthy food places.  The people who get their goods there on a regular basis are not super skinny and healthy looking because of what they consume.  It’s because of the amount of it that they consume.  It’s all so freakin’ expensive that it’s my guess that those who do consume these products do so in very small portions (because in all honesty, it’s all they can afford).

The current average salary** in Croatia is:

5486 Croatian Kuna or

723 Euros or

966 US Dollars or

608 GB Pounds

**PER MONTH 

Let me break it down: pastas, yogurts, even just plain old bread is on average at least three times more expensive than it’s less healthy/more processed counterpart.  So, if you normally have a cup of yogurt every day with a side of chopped carrots, then you will only eat the healthier version of that yogurt every third day, or you will break up that one cup into baby servings and stretch it out into three days.  Right away you are consuming significantly less calories, hence you are contributing greatly to your weight loss.  See what I mean???

Anyway, I’m just on a bit of a rant because I need fuel to run and I just plain don’t like to starve myself.  Read this: Surving Whole Foods  It’s very funny🙂

Adidas All in for Zagreb Race Reviews

Yes, not just one race review but THREE!

If you’ve read some of my previous posts then you would know that Adidas is organizing a series of races in different neighborhoods in Zagreb.  This past Saturday we completed the fourth race with the final one to go in two weeks.  So here is a look back at the last three…

Trying to escape that lady behind me...

It’s looking too easy for that lady behind me…

The second edition of the Adidas race series was held in Gajnice, on the west side of town.  Everyone gathered in a small but nicely manicured park and as always, it was nice to mingle amongst children and older people, all curiously looking to see what is going on.  It was definitely a hot day, I know this because at some point during the race I searched the crowd for my older daughter and threw my baseball cap towards her.  I was melting under there.  The race consisted of three laps around 30 year-old highrises, and the organizers said it was about 4.5 k long.  But when I crossed the finish line just under 19 minutes I knew something was just not right.  Because not only did I set a mega personal best, there was an announcement that the world record had been broken in the 1k race!!!  Wow, I thought, that’s pretty amazing, but so wrong!  Sure enough, they figured later that the 1k was actually 700 meters long and the 4.5 k was actually only 3.2ish.  So, there you go.  But still, running that distance in 18:49 is not such a bad time, not for me at least.  And even our black lab Doc was there to cheer me on!

There's Doc in the back there!!!

There’s Doc in the back there!!!

 

The third race was held in Ribnjak Park, east side holler!!!  The race was on the last day of August, again, boiling hot.  This race was also three laps long, totaling 3km.  I had decided, despite knowing all the reasons not to do so, to actually start the race out at the front of the pack and at a quicker speed right off the bat.  Yes, I realize that I am totally wasting all my energy doing so, but I thought, the only way I can get better times is if I start running faster.  Another concern I had was that being in the back of the pack (where I do feel most comfortable) makes it harder for me to pass runners, because a lot of the paths we run on are quite narrow.  So, here’s miss smartypants deciding to be all cool and in the front.

Running my arse off...

Running my arse off…

Sometimes, we just need to make those mistakes.

omg... can't... breathe...

omg… can’t… breathe…

Though it was a simple three kilometer race, half way through I was walking.  I just couldn’t handle it.  I was so mad at myself.  I ended up finishing with a time of 17:36 and I ended up running my fastest 1k ever (so there’s the bright spot).  Would I start at the front again?  Hell no!  It’s not worth the asthma attack I was suffering at the end.  I don’t actually have asthma, but still…

A few minutes later...

A few minutes later…

The fourth race was held this past Saturday in Knezija, which is also on the west side of town.  It’s a lovely little neighborhood with loads of little green areas spread around.  There is no one major bigger park so we all gathered on one of the smaller greens, eagerly wondering which way the run would take us.  The lovely part of this race was that my two daughters and their best friend decided they would run the short race (and I, of course, would run with them).

My first born just ahead of me :)

My first born just ahead of me🙂

Now, I cannot express how proud I was of them that they actually wanted to participate, and Jona, the girls’ best friend finished the 1k in just over five minutes.  But unfortunately, my two girls didn’t finish the race, but I think they learnt a valuable lesson.  Their race was a short three laps around the small grassy area.  Half way through lap two they just gave up.  I tried to encourage them to jog slowly, but they wouldn’t do more than a sulky walk.  So I walked with them.  Now, the cheeky thing is that they wanted to run/walk through the finish line, but I wouldn’t let them.  I told them either they run/walk/crawl the full three laps or they don’t get to go through the finish line.  At first they were upset, but a little later they realized my point.  When they were handing out the awards for the fastest kids, we had overheard that one of the finishers was receiving a medal even though she only completed two laps (I don’t blame the little girl, I think she was too young to even know how to count and I’m sure her parents didn’t really discourage her from crossing a bit early).  My girls said that was totally unfair, and it was then that they understood why I wouldn’t let them cross the line.  Thank you little cheating girl for helping me teach my girlies a lesson😉

Now, as for my race, it was almost 3.5 miles long and I have to say that I think I ran it quite well.  I appreciated the fact that it was only two laps (can I just say, I absolutely hate doing laps of any kind so the fact that they narrowed it down to two was a good thing).  I started back of the pack and worked my way slowly forward.  Eventually, I found myself in the second lap running all on my own and it was kinda nice.  I finished the race with a 30:13 and I couldn’t have been more pleased.  No asthma attack, no collapsing to the ground, just standing there pleased that I finished and happy to have a run a 5k PB of 27:28!

Me at the start but I swear I looked just as happy at the end of the race :)

Me at the start but I swear I looked just as happy at the end of the race🙂

So, as of right now, I am number 8 overall in the standings simply because I have run all the races and have accumulated enough points to be contently ranked in the top ten.  With one race to go, I might get really lucky and hit the the top five though I am not really counting on it.  What I am counting on* is a nice little reward from Adidas in the form of a gift certificate for having competed in all five races.

*Not a hint, just a plain old demand…

My Nike+ app has mistaken me for Mo Farah…

I cannot think of a better way to hop back on the blogging train than to tell you about the most brilliant run I had this morning. Not only have I been overlooked as a potential member of the Croatian Olympic Athletics team…

Check out those splits...

Check out those splits…

…but, if you check out my zig-zag formation below, you can only imagine how fast I’d be going had I chosen to run in a straight line…

This is how you squeeze four miles into two

This is how you squeeze four miles into two

Now, I admit, it was kinda nice to have my Nike+ app spit out these amazing distances and paces.  Totally felt like Mo… by the way did anyone see the final four hundred meters of the men’s elite group in the Bupa Great North Run???  My husband and I were on the couch watching the race on Eurosport when all of a sudden Mo Farah did that crazy mad dash to the finish line only to come in second.  I nearly ripped the covers off the sofa; a bit more drama than I am used to on a Sunday morning!!!

Anyway, I’ve got some major catching up to do, all in my trackpants, of course.  I just want to thank all of you who have been checking in once in a while only to see that there has been absolutely nothing going on over here.  And thanks to those of you who have contacted me just to see if all is well.  It is.  And I am back.

Within the next few days I will have some race reviews up, as well as a little summary of our trip to Belgium and Portugal this summer (including some lovely running moments) and a look ahead at the Zagreb Marathon and Half that’s scheduled for next month.

In the meantime, have a look at the vid below.  I’m tellin’ ya, uber drama…

 

 

Adidas-All in for Zagreb Race Recap

So last Saturday we ran the first, or what should have been the second, race in the Adidas All in for Zagreb neighborhood run challenge.

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The organizers came up with a concept to encourage recreation through competition.  Basically the idea is that you run as a part of your neighborhood team.  The team at the end of all five races with the most points win.  I’m on the downtown center team.  Currently we are in fourth place.  Each runner, depending on how they place, gets a certain number of points which combined add up to your team score.  Basically, the team with the most runners has the best chance of winning.

The race was set in Vjekoslav Majer Park south of the Sava river in Zaprude.

Park Vjekoslava Majera

Park Vjekoslava Majera

There were about two hundred participants.  It was hot, but thankfully more than half of the run was set in the shade so that was a major bonus.  There were some local celebrity types there who in interviews were boasting the benefits of running but to be honest, I never actually saw them run, which is pretty sad.

The first race was an easy 1k for all those who basically have zero running experience.  The fastest came in at 4:01 while the slowest were a father/young daughter team who came in at 8:25.  They were perhaps the heroes of the race and the true symbols of what the organizers are looking to encourage.

After the 1k, the 4.4k was set to go.  It was decided that the ladies would run first, and upon completion the men would head out.

from: Adidas Kvartovski Kros Zaprude

from: Adidas Kvartovski Kros Zaprude

 

I started off at a much faster pace than I normally would, somewhere around 9:30.  The reason was not so that I could burn out early, instead, my daughter, within the first minute of the race, called me to tell me that her school team won that morning at an obstacle competition they were competing in.  I was conversing with her and at the same time just trying to keep up with the rest of the runners, hence quick start.

Around the first half mile my nike+ told me I was holding a good pace and I thought, what the hell, let’s try to stick to this.  And it was fine until we hit the first set of stairs heading down into the underground passage way and carrying us across to the other side of the street.  There we did a lap around Utrine and returned back to the underground leading us back to the park.  By the time I completed my first lap I saw my husband and daughters there cheering me on.  I didn’t expect to see them but I was happy, and I think that gave me an added boost.

During the second lap I found myself constantly battling one other woman.  We were pretty much neck-and-neck until we hit the stairs again.  I saw that she had slowed down to a walk and I thought that this was my chance to pass her for good.  And I did.  Until she caught up to me again.  But I think she used her last ounces of energy because when we finally hit the last set of stairs heading back to the park I passed her and just kept speeding up and there was no chance she was gonna get me.  About a hundred meters from the finish line I spotted one more runner not too far ahead of me and I thought I would give it a go and try to pass her too.  And I did!

I swear, my butt does not look that big in real life!!!

I swear, my butt does not look that big in real life!!!

My official time was 26:37.  I came in 34th out of 60 runners and I was quite pleased with that.

The next scheduled race is on July 6th.  I’m hoping that a lot of people would have left to the coast or that it will just be so hot that not many will show up.  I know, not very nice of me, but hey, I might just have a chance at this one to improve my ranking.

Did anyone else race this weekend?  How was it?

11.5k Race Recap

The weekend started off great as I celebrated my 35th birthday on Friday.  And as at it was race weekend, I ended up getting some great running gear for gifts.

Birthday goodies!!!

Birthday goodies!!!

Thanks to my friends and family who knew exactly what I wanted🙂

Saturday morning I picked up my number and my souvenir Volim Trcanje (I love running) coffee mug…

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Then we spent the rest of the afternoon celebrating our daughters’ birthdays.  Two parties in a row.  Lots of kids.  Lots of fun.  Saturday evening rolled around and the girls and I lounged on the couch and watched Dance Moms.

Dance-Moms

Hate to admit it but I do really love this show…

Saturday night I had a hard time getting to sleep.  I was nervous and I was starting to doubt myself.  Why did I sign up for the 11.5k?  Did I have it in me?  Would I be last???  Please, just don’t be last!!!  Eventually I did manage to get to sleep and I woke up refreshed and ready to go.  And even more nervous!!!

After breakfast I got my gear on, called a cab and headed to the race.  I had agreed with my husband that he come with the girls when I was finishing, because it was so hot and I didn’t want them melting in the heat.  The race is set up in a way that the start and finish line are at the same point, and spectators weren’t really lining the trail along the river so it’s not like there was anyone really there cheering for you.

The race was set to start at 10:30.  When I had got there they had the children’s races under way.

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Can you say cute???   Photo courtesy of Volim Trčanje

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Can you say Über cute???     Photo courtesy of Volim Trčanje

Meanwhile, everyone was warming up, getting ready to run their chosen 2k, 5k or 11.5k race.

There was a very positive sort of atmosphere that lifted the event to a whole other level.  The Volim Trčanje race started six years ago with about 150 participants.  This year there were around 1500 runners registered which only goes to show how popular the event has become.  The goal of the project is to get people active and motivated and I think they have definitely succeeded.

And now, for the actual race.

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The countdown started and runners running the 5k would head east while those running the 2k and 11.5k would head west.  Everyone lined up and the gun went off.  There wasn’t a mad rush as I placed myself in the back of the pack.  My goal was to keep it nice and easy, mindful of the fact that it was 27 degrees outside but in the hazy sun and humidity it felt like 35 (or at least it seemed that way as the race progressed).  The race was run along the Sava river and at the 1k mark those who were running the 2k turned around while the 11.5 kept moving forward.  The runners gathered into a long narrow line and snaked down the path toward the river’s edge. Being at the back, I could see pretty much the whole lot of runners in front of me which made me appreciate the sport and the dedication that we all have for it.

As the race progressed I found myself at a 10:30 pace and tried my best to stick to that.  There were a few times where I just tucked in behind one runner or another and tried to keep it slow so as to save my energy.  But what I ended up thinking was how difficult it is to actually run with others and keep at a set pace without speeding up too much too often.  The further we went though, the more mistakes I made.  I’d get frustrated and just pass other runners, not really thinking about what effect it would have, rather just thinking about getting ahead.

There was a water stop about 2.5 miles in and though I had a bottle with me I still stopped for a drink because their water was so much colder.  I found that the longer we went the hotter it got and the slower I got.  Just past the turnaround point I felt like I had made a huge mistake running this race.  It was too long, it was too hot, and I felt like I was running straight into a sauna.  It was terrible.  But I refused to give up.

Sure, I took many more walk breaks than I had planned to, but I feel that if I didn’t I would have probably passed out on the trail.  There were water stops at the 4.5 mile and the 6 mile marks, and I appreciated that the organizers had the heat in mind when setting up the race.  Finally, at about 1:10:00 I spotted the finish line.  I took one last mini-walk break just to gather my thoughts and catch my breath before I decided that I was going to run the rest of the way.  And I did.  Again, I tucked in behind two women who were running at a slow pace and I told myself just to stay behind them and cross the finish line.  But the competitor in me just wouldn’t listen and I bolted past them in the last twenty meters and crossed the finish line all on my own.

Really need to work on that post-race pose :P

Really need to work on that post-race pose😛

My time was just under 1:20:00 which is slower than I had planned, but I am happy to have finished the race considering the conditions were not exactly ideal.

I won’t know my official time until tomorrow but I am glad to report that I did not come in last🙂

 

Pre-Race Jitters and The Tartan Army

Ok, I don’t want to jinx myself but, my last five or six runs have been really good and I am feeling quite confident for my 11.5k on Sunday.  I am so excited to be finally participating in this race because it seems that it is gaining more and more popularity and the reviews I have read on past races are very positive.

Marija Ujević-Galetović's sculpture The Runner (1987) at the start line

Marija Ujević-Galetović’s sculpture The Runner (1987) at the start line

But I have to admit, I am also VERY nervous.  I haven’t done a race in almost two years?!?!  Ridiculous, I know.  Tomorrow we have a very busy day.  We have birthday parties organized for our daughters, one right after the other, so it will be a long day and I am worried that I will not be rested for Sunday.  But the plan is that after all the celebrations we get home, I take a nice shower, and just relax in the evening and get to bed at a reasonable time.  That’s the plan.

As for the race itself, I don’t have a very specific time goal but I think I would like to do the whole thing in under 1:15:00.  I think that’s reasonable.  I don’t know.  We’ll see.

In other news today, Croatia is playing a qualifying game against Scottland for the World Cup.  The game is in Zagreb and I think everyone is pumped up, I know I am!  And though we love the Scotts and the Tartan Army, all of Croatia is behind our team and I hope we do well tonight.  I am so thankful that the Scottish fans are such nice blokes and they always bring a positive atmosphere wherever they go.  I mean, really, how can you not love a man in a kilt!  They’re great!!!

Great Scott!!! (jutarnji.hr)

Great Scott!!! (jutarnji.hr)

Happy weekend everyone!!!

Architecture in the Early Morning

Though I hate getting up at six in the morning to go for a run, I do love hitting the streets at this time because it is relatively quiet and there are some spectacular pieces of architecture that can be appreciated in a way only the early morning runner can appreciate them.  There’s this…

Croatian State Archives, built in 1913

Croatian State Archives, built in 1913

…and this…

Croatian National Theater, built in 1895

Croatian National Theater, built in 1895

Wishing you a lovely rest of the day🙂

 

 

Long weekend in Zadar…

Yesterday we got back from a mini-vacation in Zadar.

Zadar

Zadar

 

Since Thursday was a holiday, my husband decided that he would take Friday off and since the girls also didn’t have school on Friday we decided it was a perfect opportunity to get away to the coast for a few days.

We chose Zadar because they have a chain of family resorts and we were pleased that they had plenty of activities to keep the kids busy and out of the rain.  Not that it was raining all the time… we were lucky and did get brief moments of sunshine.

The view from our terrace

The view from our terrace

The few days away were welcomed by all, especially myself and my husband as we didn’t have to think about cooking, cleaning, laundry and shuttling the girls from swim practice and back.  We spent most of our time lounging, reading and… eating (all-inclusive is just so not good for the diet).

But to balance out the overeating I did manage to get three runs in, including a super fast (for me)17:54 two miler on our first day along the beach.

Two miles of sunshine

Two miles of sunshine

I also did a muddy three miles on Friday…

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…and 4.5 miles on Saturday on the treadmill.

It looks like it was nice outside but it was actually pouring down...

It looks like it was nice outside but it was actually pouring down…

I actually wanted to do nine miles but I felt a bit guilty hogging the treadmill while I saw there were others lingering around the gym waiting for their turn.  I hesitated to cut my run short because, in my defense, I did get up at 7 in the morning and was the first one there, so I think that had they really wanted to run they should have dragged their butts out of bed a bit earlier… I haven’t run indoors for such a long time I kinda forget what the rules are regarding equipment use.  I did eventually get off the thing, and tried to compensate by doing twenty minutes on the bike, but let me tell you, I hate the bike and twenty measly minutes was all I could handle.

What do you think, should I have given up my spot or should I have just stuck to my scheduled run???

Sunday, after checking-out, we took a leisurely stroll along the beach.  This photo pretty much sums up the weather we had during our stay…

Our daughters seemingly enjoying the view but actually playing on their phones... kids...

Our daughters seemingly enjoying the view but actually playing on their phones… kids…

But despite the weather we still had a great time and are looking forward to another mini-break hopefully soon🙂

So, where are you from?”

I just had to share this video because it is something that I can totally relate to…and, it’s just plain funny…

People here in Croatia are always very curious when they meet a “foreigner”, and this is usually how the conversation goes:

Random stranger: ‘So, are you American?’

Me: ‘No, I’m actually Croatian, but I grew up in Canada.’

Random stranger: ‘Oh, so you were born in Canada?’

Me: ‘No, actually, I was born in Australia.’

Random stranger: ‘Oh.’ <Long awkward pause, looking confused, not quite sure if I’m serious or not>  ‘Right.’

Adidas Ribnjak: Race Report

So Sunday was race day.  Adidas is organising a group of races to generate interest in small community recreation.  Yesterday was supposed to be Race no. 1 in Park Ribnjak.

But it was pouring outside.  And the organizers had announced the day before that the earlier you come the earlier you would be set to race.  There were over 250 people registered and they needed to divide us into groups with start times scheduled every half hour.  My goal was to get there as early as possible so that I could start at noon with the first group.  We had to pick up our girls from my mother’s house and it was pertinent that I get my race over and done with as soon as possible.  The girls had stayed the weekend with my mom while my husband and I attended a wedding on Saturday night.

image image_1

*See what happens when you go to a wedding and no one takes any pics of you… you go to the lady’s room and do it yourself

But like I said.  Sunday morning it was pouring down.

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See what I mean…

I waited for an update from the organizers via facebook, and when at 9 am they wrote that the race is on I hurried over to pick up my number.

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At the start…

To my surprise I was greeted with cheers and jubilation when I arrived, as I was the first one there!  Hence, for once, Liz is number one!!!

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The organizers were still unsure though whether the race would take place or not.  By the time I got back home there was a new update saying that due to the low turnout (I heard there were only three of us in the end) the race would have to be postponed for another day.  Those of us who had come to pick up our race bibs were guaranteed a spot in the next race on June 15th.  So here’s hoping that it won’t be pouring/snowing/or suffocatingly hot that day…

Get Your Race On…

Every year, around this time, there are a lot of little races being organized around Zagreb.  And every year I say I’m gonna go and I never do.  Why? Because a lot of the times the races coincide with one event or another occurring on the same weekend.  And by event, I mean a gathering that includes loads of food and loads of alcohol, not exactly pre-race friendly, if you know what I mean…

But this year I’ve decided that despite the events, I am signing up to run.  Why?  Because I feel that participating in these races is a great way to be a part of the running community.  And since there has been a significant increase in runners in Zagreb (I don’t have any statistics to back it up but I see them everywhere all the time) I’m thinking these races are a great way to get everyone together to celebrate their extra-curricular activities.

So here we go…

Adidas – All in for Zagreb

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This is a great series of races, 5 in all, organized in different neighborhoods around the city, and the best part of it is that when you register, you are competing for your neighborhood team.  Points are accumulated after each race and the team that wins the most points… you guessed it… wins!!!  The races are from 3-5 km long which is a great way to get a big number of runners involved.  There are also children’s races and a 1km recreational race for those who are not up to the longer distances just yet.  Those who participate in all 5 races receive a gift from Adidas.  BONUS!!!

Here are the dates:

  • 26.05. – CENTAR: kvart Medveščak (park Ribnjak)
  • 15.06. – NOVI ZAGREB: kvart Zapruđe (park Majera)
  • 06.07 – ČRNOMEREC: kvart Gajnice (park Lorce)
  • 14.09. – TREŠNJEVKA: kvart Knežija
  • 28.09. – TRNJE: kvart Folka

And despite the fact that I have a wedding to attend on Saturday, I am very much looking forward to the very first race this Sunday🙂

Next is the Volim Trčanje (I love running) race being organized on June 9th.

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Again, the day before, we are organizing birthday parties for both our daughters, so it will be a long day but I will do my best to refrain from the alcohol.  I am so excited to be doing this one because I’ve managed to skip it every year so far.  The races included are:

  • Baby marathon (born 2011 and 2012) – 20 meters
  • Children (born 2008, 2009 and 2010) – 100 meters
  • Children (born 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007) – 500 meters
  • Children (born 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 ) – 800 meters
  • Adults – 2 km
  • Adults – 5 km
  • Adults – 11.5 km (I’m doing this one!)

And finally, I have officially registered for this year’s Zagreb Half-Marathon in October.

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Most of my focus when running is geared toward this race.  I definitely would like to do better than the first, and only, time I ran it two years ago, so I am especially looking forward to it.  I don’t want to define my goals at the moment.  But I will see how my training is coming along in a few months and then I can get more serious about time-specific goals.

Happy running everyone!

It’s getting hot in here…

So one of the headlines in today’s paper read that this summer is gonna be a scorcher and could possibly be one of the hottest summers ever recorded in Europe.

All I can think about is running.  How am I gonna do it?  I’m embarking on some serious training to prepare myself for the half-marathon in October, but the thought of running in super hot weather just freaks me out!  I remember last year that there were a lot of runners who opted to run at midnight or 1 am, but to be honest, I am just not too keen on running in the middle of the night.  You never know what kind of crazies are out there…

So does anyone have any advice on how to prepare myself?  I have no problems getting up at five or six to go for a run, but should I be taking tons of water with me (which I don’t really like doing) or is there something else I can do to keep myself cool and do a decent job on my runs?

A word on awards…

I have been blessed to have been nominated for two separate blogging awards, The Super Sweet Blogging Award and The Bouquet of Three Blogging Award.  The two wonderful bloggers who nominated me are Spanner from Spannerr😉 and Beths13 from FEAR – Forget Everything and Run.  Both blogs are fun, humorous and you really should check them out.  Thanks guys, I am greatful for the support🙂

Thank-you

But let’s not role out the red carpet..

I have a thing about these blogger awards.  I know that it is wonderful to be recognized by your readers, but I am not so sure that this is the right way.  Why?  I feel like it’s all one big chain letter, and god forbid you break the chain?!?!?  Besides thanking the blogger that nominated you (check) you need to nominate other bloggers for the award and I think that is wonderful.  This way you are spreading the word about your readers and those you enjoy reading.  Currently I have 48 followers (which by the way, I think is amazing considering this is only my second month blogging after a very long break) and there are 55 bloggers on my Blogs I Follow list.  Now, for the first award I am required to nominate 13 bloggers and for the second I need to nominate 15.  That makes a total of 28 nominations, nearly half of those I am following every day.  I could take the easy route and nominate 13 of those for both the awards and then nominate two more for only one award.  But I don’t think that’s right or fair.  So we’re back to 28 nominations which, frankly, I think is way too much.

So I’m not going to do it.  What I will continue to do though is to read each post, like it if I like it and leave a comment if I have anything to say.  I think this is a much better way to support the blogging community because I am actually putting time into everyone else’s blogs.

So I’m skipping the nomination process and instead I will tell you about the blogs that I currently enjoy reading, (I say currently because there are those that I follow but haven’t posted in a really long time so I won’t put them on this list here) and if you like you can read them too.

And by the way, this is in no particular order whatsoever:

Superfora

About me?  Chipped nail polish, slightly disheveled and loud.  I am a Personal Shopper at TOPSHOP and can be very easily coerced into styling your projects.  Holler at me.

JoggingJeans

Who would jog in jeans? More people than you would think.

PhotosBotos

If you simply like to look at amazing photographs, please stop by and give us your thoughts!

Run, Fat Chick, Run!

I am fiercely determined to tackle new challenges, like a 50K race and baking drool worthy cupcakes from scratch.

Bucket List Publications

Following my dreams of traveling and experiencing life to the fullest has taught me that the world is full of endless possibilities.

Hustle and Go

I love to write.  Particularly about running and faith and often about life in general.

Fear of Bananas

I hate bananas. I have an irrational fear of them. I don’t like being around them. I (until recently) refused to touch them. I hate the smell. The texture makes me gag. I won’t eat anything made with them. Nope, not even banana bread. I hear it’s delicious, but no thanks.

My Thin Eats

I have an obsession more of a passion with inventing, experimenting, tasting, reinventing, and cooking food.

Baker Bettie

In reality I can be a very shy and anxious person, but Baker Bettie is my confident, pin-up, baking alter ego!

An Afternoon With…

Michael Mundy captures the essence of a moment with an uncommon depth and sensitivity. His simple, tranquil and sophisticated images of interiors are revealing and resonate with the character of their inhabitants. They often create a sense of ambiguity while also exposing personality in a glance, an angle, a revealing moment. 

Mile 23

Wife, Mother, Child of God….runner… 

Rather Be Runnin’

Once I realized that running was the only cool thing I had to talk about, I just kinda went for it.

Life is always sweeter and yummier through a lens.

Low Carbs//Low Sugar//Long Runs

I’ve fallen in love with running & don’t think I’ll ever be able to give it up

The Complaining Runner

Running hurts.  Complain about it and keep going.

The Nice Thing About Strangers

Noting the lovely, beautiful, awkward, breathtakingly human things one can discover in strangers.

Run 5k a Day

The task is to run 5km a day – that’s just 3.1 miles a day – every day.

Rookie Notes

Working on my life, a project that is never quite complete.

The Runaround

We love to travel, brew beer, drink beer and be adventurous so don’t be surprised when you see weird posts on here.

A Runner Travels

I write about world travel and distance running: here are my thoughts on what has shaped and inspired me.

Holy 30 Batman!

My journey with the Whole30 Challenge

Fit for a Year

Running to fitness, year two

The Top 10… of Anything and Everything!

After not reading any good top 10 list blogs I decided to make my own, that way I can make sure what goes into it will want to be read.

A Beginner Runner

I am a 30-year old working wife based in Manila who is currently training for a half-marathon. 

Power of Run

I feel like I have had 50 First Dates with running.

The Blonder Side of Life

I’m a certified Personal Trainer with an obvious passion for health and fitness, but even more then that an overall happy and active lifestyle.

On a Jam Hunt

Punching today in the face!

Jogging Dad

Musings of a dad who runs from parenting, to become better at parenting.

RustyIronWoman

Can’t swim, plodding runner and my bike has a wicker basket.  What could possibly go wrong?

C’est La Vie

For the most part, though, it centers around my love for running and being active, and my attempt to balance career, life, and love while keeping a sense of humor.

Lifes a little nutrition

A wellness blog to nourish the body and mind.

Bella Qvist

Keep writing, keep living, keep loving

2 Fat Nerds

…because what is more interesting than nerds running?

SkinnyRunner

I like to run. alot.  And race. alot.  So if you aren’t into running or excessive pictures of me, this might not be your bag, baby.

SmashinBeauty

…is actually a really good friend of mine who is just plain awesome and knows a thing or two about make-up😉

…and a special mention goes to…

Life: Everyone Has One!

There is always something to smile about.

…incredibly well-written, witty, funny, and just a joy to read.  EVERYONE needs to check this blog out!!!  Do it!  Now!!!

Happy weekend everyone!!! And Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, YOU ROCK!!!

 

 

 

No pressure…

Yesterday afternoon, I ran into one of the school moms who, after a relaxed ten minute chat, mentioned, slightly incredulously, that she saw me running one morning.  Later on that evening, I spotted one of the school dads, who, with a sly smirk, yelled across the street to me that he saw me running.  I think my face may have gone bright red at that moment.

I’m not one to talk to people about my runs.  Sure, I write about them on my blog, but this is just an outlet, a way for me to avoid talking about running to people I really know.  And for the purposes of this text I mean people who are not really friends, more like acquaintances, where things like running and other personal information never really comes up.

     “Nice day today.”

     “Yup.  Nice… and warm.”

     “So how was your weekend?” 

     “I got up at 6 in the morning on Saturday to do an 11-miler.”

     “I got up at 6 in the morning on Saturday to have sex with my husband.”

     “Oh.”

See what I mean.  TMI.  This is the kind of stuff you share with your friends… 

But when someone you don’t really know notes that they saw you running, all of sudden they’ve thrown a sh**load of pressure on you.  At least that’s how I felt yesterday.  All of a sudden you are running, and people are seeing you, and people you know are seeing you and it’s all very real.

Now, I’m not the chick that goes out for a run or two, hard, fast and then quits.  And I don’t want to be perceived that way.  But I think, at least for now, I just might be seen that way by my acquaintances, ie the moms and dads at my daughters’ school.  And I think people have a bit of a shock when they hear I run, or even better, see me run.  Because at first glance, Liz and running just don’t add up.

So there is pressure.  You have to get out there again.  You have to run.  You don’t have to be spotted but, it would be good if you were, because then it would prove that you are a consistent, regular runner.  You are looking out for your health and well-being and you are trying to set a good example for others.

Ahem… at least that’s my excuse.

I do admit that though I was slightly embarrassed by the ‘Hey I saw you running!’ shoutout, I felt like doing a toot toot, because

HAHA I’m awesome and you’re not!!!

But that’s just mean and insensitive and oh so childish… teehee….

 

Oh Mantra…

This morning as I was running past the train station, staring at the graffiti, and getting whistles from a passing car, woohoo, I started saying to myself ‘Look at you!  You are running!  You are awesome!’.  That sounds weird to me now as I write it but at that particular moment it helped. Not that I was struggling, but I guess my mind started talking to me because it thought that maybe I could use the little bit of encouragement.

And then I started thinking about the mantra.  What is a proper mantra?  Does a proper mantra exist?  What do I normally say to myself when I’m struggling in my run.  I couldn’t think of anything.  I didn’t know the answers.  So I just continued to run.

I have a favorite song that I listen to if I need to get pumped up.  The Black Eyed Peas – Imma Be.  I don’t know why that song gets me going but it does, every time.  But I don’t have that secret word or phrase that I can spit out any time I might need to.

So I just keep running.

And I just keep running.

Just keep running…

keep running

Am I on to something here?  Have I found my mantra?  Because you know what, during the last half mile this morning this is exactly what I caught myself saying to myself: keep running…

What are some of your mantras, if you have any, that is???

 

Running Dogs

So, we are currently in the process of preparing to build our first house… first and hopefully last house… and one of the things that the girls and I always fondly discuss is getting a dog.  Of course, we already have a dog, a black lab named Doc.  And he lives with my mom, and has been living there since our younger daughter was born.  So really, he’s my mom’s dog now.  And it’s better that way.  We live in a small apartment.  My mom lives in a big house in the middle of the country with a huge yard and forests all around.  So seriously, where do you think Doc is happier?

Our baby

Our baby

The girls have been hounding us for years to get a dog but we’ve always said that we would get one when would be able to provide it a suitable living space.  And that time is soon approaching.  So we’re thinking.  My younger daughter would like a Poodle.  My older daughter can’t decide between a Rottweiler and a German Shepherd.  My husband is really wanting a Boxer.  And all I want is a dog I can run with…

Ever since I started running I’ve always imagined having our Doc beside me.  But even if we were to have Doc living with us again, he is getting too old to go running.  He’s 11 and some days has a hard time getting up in the mornings if he goes on a longer walk the day before.  So that’s not an option.  But once we move into our new home, I will have plenty of time to go running on Sljeme…

 

This is Medvedgrad, our house will be situated not far beneath it...

This is Medvedgrad, our house will be situated not far beneath it…

…and I want to be able to have our dog running with me.  And because I know that I will be the one who will be mostly taking care of the dog, I’ve informed the family that whatever dog we get, it has to be one that can run.

So here is a list of pups from Runner’s World that are more suitable for running than others:

 

BEST FOR
 

BREED
 

KEY TRAITS
 

Long, Steady Runs
(More Than 10 Miles)
• Weimaraners 

• Goldendoodles

• German shorthaired pointers

• Vizslas

• Jack Russell terriers

 

A medium build, well-muscled hind quarters, not too heavy
 

Brisk Shorter Runs
(Less Than 10-K)
• Greyhounds 

• Pit bulls

• English setters

• Beagles

• Golden and Labrador retrievers

 

A muscular and lean build, and a mind for sprinting rather than slogging
 

Going Fast
(7-Minute Miles or Faster)
• Vizslas 

• German shorthaired pointers

• Weimaraners

• Greyhounds

• Whippets

 

A medium-size, lean build, and a mental aptitude for running
 

Long, Slow Runs
• Catahoulas 

• Labrador retrievers

• Standard poodles

• Dalmatians

 

A bigger body that can handle the distance—if you go slow
 

Running in the Heat
• Rhodesian ridgebacks 

• Vizslas

• Airedale terriers

• Fox terriers

 

A long nose, a short, sleek coat, and a svelte body
 

Running in the Cold
• Malamutes 

• German shepherds

• Swiss mountain dogs

• Siberian huskies

 

A thick coat and a stockier body type
 

Running on Trails with Obstacles
• German shorthaired pointers 

• Vizslas

• Weimaraners

• Border collies

• Belgian sheepdogs

 

Sure-footed and quick to react (such as herding and hunting dogs)
 

Most Obedient on Heavily Used Trails
• Golden and Labrador retrievers 

• Standard poodles

• Labradoodles

• Border collies

 

Nonaggressive, people-oriented, and obedient; has a calm personality

It’s a long list and it’s really hard to narrow down.  Of course, I would go for a Lab, but I also really love Border Collies and Belgian Shepherds.  I don’t know… guess we’ll just have to wait and see until we get to the shelter…

Anyone out there running with dogs?  What are your suggestions?  Who tops your list?

The Morning Wave

This morning I woke up at 5:50 to get my run in before my duties as wife and mother would ensue.

Now I don’t know why, but I am always surprised that the streets are not deserted at this time of day.  In fact, besides the usual delivery people, market sellers and bakery ladies (mmm… bakery…), I was pleasantly surprised by the many other runners, to be more precise, three, that I spotted this morning.  There was even one younger woman who I waved and smiled at today because I saw that she could use the encouragement.  And I don’t normally wave or smile; perhaps a slight grin or a nod in acknowledgement, but that’s usually where I draw the line.  But when I saw this woman running toward me, I saw that she was looking at me with a mix of  hesitation, embarrassment and a whole load of insecurity.  I knew I had to let her know that she need not worry, that she is great for getting out there and that by no means should she  give up!  I don’t know if she got the message in our split-second exchange, but I’m kinda hoping she did.

As for me, well, back from a relatively quick run I was feeling great and wonderful and then I looked out the window and realized that I can’t look out the window because it is so damn dirty.  I admit, I’ve been putting off washing windows for two months now.  I kept saying that I was waiting for the weather to get better, but you know, you shouldn’t wash windows when it’s sunny outside, so again, I had yet another excuse.  But today it’s cloudy and lightly raining and when I saw online that it’s ok to wash your windows when it’s raining, well, I knew I had run out of excuses.  So that’s what I did today.  I washed windows.  And they are clean.  And I can actually see through them now.  And it’s great!

Now only my plants are blocking the view ;)

Now only my plants are blocking the view😉

Marriage and Running

Today, my husband and I are celebrating our ten-year wedding anniversary. And by celebrating I mean, being extra nice to each other😉

Now, because this is mainly a running blog, I wanted to compose a list of similarities between marriage and running in order to commemorate this monumental achievement.

JUST LIKE RUNNING…

1. In marriage you are always looking to go the distance.

2. Marriage requires commitment, training and sometimes the guidance of a coach, or maybe just your GPS.

3. In marriage there will be hilly paths and sharp, sometimes, unexpected turns that you will need to learn to navigate.

4. Sometimes you will experience pain…

5. …But the majority of the time you will be over the moon.

6. Keep changing things up – routines will run your marriage into a rut.

7. A good marriage can inspire others.

8. You will get hot and sweaty😉

9. In marriage, your weight may vary.

but most importantly

10. Marriage will change your life (for the better).

 

May Day at the Beach

So yesterday was May Day or International Worker’s Day or Labor Day – whatever you  call it, it’s a good day for a mini getaway🙂

We loaded up the car with just our bathing suits and towels (so nice to not have to actually pack stuff) and headed for the beach.  Living in Zagreb we’re pretty lucky because the coast is not all that far away (depending on where you wanna go, that is).  Because this was only a day trip we opted to head for the Opatija region which is only about two hours away.  We googled beaches in the area and found this gem…

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View from high above looking through trees

…Brsec.

About a twenty minute drive from Opatija, a very beautiful, but very touristy sort of place, we parked our car in the village of Brsec and went looking for that pretty secluded beach.  What we found instead was a 17th century village with stairs going in every direction.  Brsec is where Eugen Kumicic (11.1.1850 – 13.05.1904), Croatian writer and politician, was born.

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Definitely more stairs than people in this town

After wandering around for about ten minutes we stopped to ask the local how to get to the cove.

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Where’s the beach???

“Right at the cemetery, and then about a kilometer down a steep, narrow and winding road.”

Ok.

We got back into the Jeep and made our way down.  And boy was it worth me clinging to dear life thinking our breaks would give and we’d go plunging into the depths (not that we have problems with our breaks, I just have a very active imagination).

It was around noon when we arrived and there were  few people,  but soon after there were hoards of twenty year-olds lugging alcohol and guitars, charcoal and bbq grills.  No matter, it was still early and they weren’t near drunk or rowdy yet!  In fact, the guitars and the off key singing provided nice background to our little holiday.

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One of the young twenty year-olds trying to catch something to throw on the grill

The water was bloody cold, and it took a good ten minutes of standing in it before slowly going numb and actually going for a swim.  The girls got used to it pretty quickly so they spent most of the afternoon swimming and diving off the little rocks and cliffs.

Four hours later and a sunburn or two later, we were ready to take our leave.

We decided to stop in Ika for an early dinner of pizza, gnocchi and fuži with truffle sauce.  The view was calming and the service and food was excellent.

View from Hotel Ika Restaurant

View from Hotel Ika Restaurant

We made it back to Zagreb around 7:30 in the evening, enough time for us to “unpack”, shower, and throw ourselves on the sofa to watch a football game.  Bayern won, by the way😉

Turtles and Mosquitos

Today I did a four mile run in heaven…

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…also known as Maksimir.  Due to scheduling issues I could only head out around 10 am and I was supposed to do six miles until halfway through I realized that my daughter was finishing school earlier today and I had to cut my run short.  So a nice four miles it was.

Unfortunately though, I can’t brag about my time because I got way too distracted by the sunbathing turtles.

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And it was hot.

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And there were monster mosquitos in attack mode.

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So my total time was 51:59!  EEEKKK!!!

But my run was not a waste.  I learnt a few lessons along the way.

1. 10 am is already too late for a run because it is just way too hot outside.

2. Turtles are sweet but save the photo ops for when you are not running (or, at least pause your watch while you are taking pictures)

3. Hit the trails early or you’ll end up spending most of your free time googling natural mosquito bite relief.

Tomorrow is Labor Day in Croatia so we’re doing a day trip to the coast.  Sun, sea, lemonade and ice cream.  Wish every Wednesday could be like this🙂

 

Running Mate

This morning I went for a thirty minute run with my friend S.  and you know what…

I forgot how awesome it is to run with a friend, especially one who is not really interested in training but is more focused on getting out there, breaking a sweat and not too worried about time or distance.

I didn’t even realize until after, that not once did I ask myself am I running too slow/fast or how many more minutes till I’m done or how much further do I have to go.  We talked about different trails, the weather, our kids.  It was such a welcome break from the pressure I put on myself while out running.  Because I have someone who is not concerned about ‘training‘, I ended up not thinking about ‘training‘ at all.  It was great!!!

We’ve agreed that we would go running together again on Friday (which works well for me because I have a short run scheduled and she’s not looking to run more than 30 mins anyway).  I think I could get used to this🙂

Morning Glory

Last night my husband, the love of my life, let me know that the worst is when I have a short run scheduled and I wake up only a half hour before he has to, in this case 6:30 am.  So, I decided that though I only had a 2-miler scheduled this morning I would get  up at 6 am so that my lovely partner would have a full hour still to sleep (I know, I’m a pretty awesome wife).  But what do you do when at 6:30 you are done your run and you don’t want to be home before 7 so that you don’t disturb the family’s beauty sleep?

You take pictures. Thank goodness for instagram – they turn ordinary pictures into so much more than that…

I love pointing the lens up to the sky, the blue always makes for a lovely background

I love pointing the lens up to the sky, the blue always makes for a lovely background

Pretty purple hanging over the street

Pretty purple hanging over the street

Dandelions are my daughters' favourite, hence I love them too :)

Dandelions are my daughters’ favourite, hence I love them too🙂

White and plump

White and plump

My absolute favourite shot from this morning

My absolute favourite shot from this morning

Wishing everyone a lovely Friday and a wonderful weekend!

 

 

If you want to change your life…

…become a runner.

This message has been circling around social media for a while now

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and I can’t help but think about how true it possibly is.

Because running is so much more than just exercise.

Running is therapy, it is ‘me time’, it’s a great way to start your day or a great way to end it.  Running gives you the chance to challenge yourself against yourself.  You always want to go further or faster.  Running is a goal you can achieve every day.  And the daily goals add up to achieving bigger goals.  And when you’ve achieved those bigger goals you know that there is really nothing that can stop you.  Running haunts you and it beckons you.  For once you become a runner, you are always a runner.

6 am and on the Road…

There is something absolutely fantastic about getting up early and hitting the road for a run… if you manage to get your a** out of bed that is…

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But we’ve been really lucky with the weather these last few weeks and I think that just helps to get you going.  It was 7 degrees celsius when I got up, and by the time I came back it warmed up to about 9!  Perfect running temps, no need to layer, just some tights and a tshirt and you’re good to go.  And the fact that we seem to be skipping spring and diving into early summer weather is just another good reason to get up early and run before it gets too warm outside.

I tried to take it easy this morning, and I decided to focus on what was around me instead of on pace and time.  I love hitting the downtown streets when many are still hitting the snooze button, though I admit town wasn’t as deserted as I thought it would be.  There were loads of delivery trucks lining the sidewalks and quite a few commuters rushing to their jobs (mostly people working in grocery stores and bakeries since they all open up at 7).

*note to self: running past bakeries (mmm…. the smell of fresh warm bread!) early in the morning makes you very hungry

I made my way toward the center and then just ran past it, continuing along towards the west end of town.  I admit, I am trying to psychologically prep myself for the half-marathon in October.  I need to work on this aspect as I royally screwed up my first time doing the half  two years ago.  I had studied the route online and was pretty confident I knew where the turnaround point was, but when I actually got there during the race I was uber mad when I saw people running past where I thought they’d be heading back. I was so frustrated with myself I just stopped.  And walked.  But this time around I won’t let that happen.  And my plan is to include runs that would lead me to that specific point so that I have it etched in my brain and can visualize it during the race.

But today I didn’t have to run that far.  I ran past the hospital where my cousin gave birth and was probably, at that moment, having her young son brought in for a feeding.

I ran past the brewery and kinda wished it was three in the afternoon so I could stop for a beer.

Zagrebačka Pivovara

And I ran back toward the square where the sun was peeking out over the towers of the Cathedral.

Sunrise over the cathedral

And then I hurried back home where I had to get breakfast ready for my eight year-old who would have to be at school by 8.  All in all, I had a great run, a steady 11:06 pace, with my fastest final mile being 9:40.  It was a win/win for sure🙂

Win/Win :)

So there is this great article in the the May 2013 edition of Runner’s World.  The issue is devoted to beginner runners, and though I have been running for years I still consider myself a beginner, so I find these kinds of issues are a great resource.

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As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I have a hard time telling myself to slow down when all I want to do is go faster.  It shows what an important role our mind plays when running.  But sometimes we can’t rely solely on our brains, because to be honest, the mind and the body don’t always cooperate.

Beyond the Mantra features a set of notes and methods to help train the brain.  And newbie or not, I think our brains need all the training they can get (since I believe a lot of us are rather neglectful in that department).

The article places great importance on scoring your runs.  This way, you can rate your workouts and determine whether they were a win or a loss.

For example:

MONDAY Easy 3-miler: ran 3 of 3 at easy pace 3/3; WIN

TUESDAY Speedwork: completed workout, running 4 out of 5 repeats on pace 4/5; WIN

WEDNESDAY Easy 5-miler: Stuck at work and kids at home sick, did not run 0/5; LOSS

…and so on…

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Once you’ve logged your scores you can always look back and hopefully notice more wins than losses.  The overall score will motivate you to continue your runs, keeping yourself on track/pace/schedule.  The more you log, the more encouraged you will be.  I’ve started doing this and decided to highlight all my wins in pink (and losses in blue), so that when I flip through my log I will see lots of pink and pat myself on the back for being so awesome.

Slow and Steady…

…it wins the race, right?  That’s what they say anyway…

Today I went for a long, slow 6-mile run (because I skipped it on Saturday so I thought better do it today rather than the 2 miles I had scheduled).

Now, I love training plans and following training plans and I’m all into having a set schedule so that I don’t have to think too much about it.  But the problem with the plans, actually not with the plans, but with me, is that I will do the miles it tells me to do but almost never will I do them how they tell me to do them.

So, on Saturday I was scheduled to do an LSD.  My problem is that I can’t run really really slow… on purpose.  But I realised that it’s just all in my head.  The thought of going out and running a distance that I could do in about an hour and purposely stretching the time out to an hour and half just seems so tedious.  WHY???  I like to get things done and over with.  And I know that I am wrong for thinking this way.

If I run a slow mile, or a slow 6 miles, I beat myself up about it.  I’m no good, I can’t run, why am I so slow?  I need to go as fast as I can, I need to push myself, I need to be whatever it was that I did the day/week/month before.  But again, that is just so wrong.

So today I said to myself I’m gonna run nice and slow and I don’t care about how long it takes me to finish.

And it was really good!  I kept telling myself, you are teaching your body endurance, not speed today.  You need to get used to running for a long time.  And it worked.  I started out with a slow 12:55 pace, then I slowed down even more to a 14:00 pace.  I was feeling good so I sped up my third mile to a 10:42, then slowed down again to 11:49.  I was feeling so great that I ended up running my last two miles a bit faster, without pushing myself.  I just let my legs do what they felt comfortable doing.  My last mile was a 10:10 and I felt awesome at the end of it🙂

Ok, so I didn’t do the full six miles at an uber slow pace, but I tried to focus as much as I could on not pushing myself and I think that if I can concentrate more on how I should be running my pace, eventually, will get better, and I will become a stronger and more efficient runner.

Beyonce in Zagreb

18,000 people at the Arena in Zagreb last night danced and sang and laughed along with Beyonce.  She was fantastic.

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I’ve  been a fan of Beyonce since back in the day when she was still a member of Destiny’s Child.  And though the group had gone through a few changes through their history, Beyonce was a constant.  She was the one who had the appeal.  She was the one who everyone had their eyes on.  There was just something about her.  And that something is what has made her as successful as she is today.

This was Beyonce’s second concert in Zagreb.  The first time she was here was four years ago, when she opened her European tour in our capital.  After that first concert I vowed that whenever she would come back I would go and see her again.  And after last night, I will continue to go to her shows should she ever make her way back around here.

Beyonce is one of those celebs that Croats love.  Why?  She is the perfect spokesperson for everything this country has to offer.

And last night was no different.  She told the packed Arena how much she loves Croatia, and thanked her fans for all the support they have given her through the years (I know, standard celeb talk).  But she did show the love, communicating with the audience, making fun of herself, and you couldn’t help like feel that though she is the mega diva that she is, we are all still one.

She wore fabulous costumes and was flying through the air.  Her voice, well, no words necessary really.  And the dancing, my god, the dancing.  My youngest daughter couldn’t get over the fact that she was pulling those moves in heels.

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Beyonce opened the evening with Run the World, and proved to everyone how powerful we women really can be.  Her band and all her dancers (but for two) are women and they pulled off a fantastic show.  Along with a lot of her new material, she did sing some older stuff as well, like Survivor, Crazy in Love and Single Ladies.  She closed the show with a mix of Whitney Houston’s I Will Love You which the 18000 fans sang along with her, and with Halo, a song which had me bawling for all kinds of personal reasons.

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I am glad that I got to see her with my daughters last night.  I wanted them to see what it means to be strong and successful and how important it is to have that confidence that Beyonce just exudes.  I think that in this world of pop celebrity and culture, Beyonce is one of those that can be put on the more positive role-model list.  And if my daughters are to look up to any celeb I prefer it be Beyonce than, let’s say, some of those other famous ladies who like to flaunt their stuff but can’t put a simple sentence together.

Oww, my shins… :(

“If you never have a ‘bad’ day, you’re probably doing something wrong; if you never have a ‘good’ day, you’re definitely doing something wrong.” 
-Mark Remy


Why is it that on Saturday I had a really decent five mile run and today I could barely do two?

I don’t know if it has something to do with rest and recovery time, but seriously, after the first mile I thought I would have to call my husband to pick me up because both my legs and my shins were on fire!

But I didn’t want to start telling myself how stupid I am, or that I suck, or that running is just not for me… because none of it is true.  Sometimes we just need to make room for the bad runs in order to appreciate the good runs.

So what if my legs were hurting so bad that I barely made it back home?  It happens to all of us.  And frankly, I’m out of shape.  I only just started back to running two weeks ago, something like this should be expected.  So I’m not gonna get too down about it.

What keeps me going is the thought of six months from now looking backing at my journal and seeing that I had that bad run (and probably many more) but that I endured and I survived and that I kept going.  Because that’s what’s important, to just keep going.

So next time you have a bad run, see it as a stepping stone, something to learn from, something to encourage you to do better.  As long as you don’t quit, because frankly, it’s not an option.

Epiphany!!!

This morning I had the best, and I mean BEST, run I think I’ve ever had.  The weather was perfect, a warm five degrees celsius at 6:30.  I was out on the road, I hit all the green lights, there was no one in my way and I just ran!  Like hell!  Like the wind!  Like an antelope!  Like a wildebeest!  It was great!  I even ran an 8:42/mile pace which I don’t think I ever ran in my entire running career!!!  Can we say elated!  It was just a really good start to what I think will be a very good and productive day🙂

Wildebeest running © Ranger Diaries / Phill Steffny

Wildebeest running © Ranger Diaries / Phill Steffny

But let’s talk about that epiphany now…

Last night, after the girls were tucked into bed and sleeping, my husband got a case of the munchies.  He poked his head in the fridge and then sifted through the cupboards until he found…

Love Digestives!!!

Love Digestives!!!

I had bought those for him a few days ago because I know he loves them and I love them too, and we like to pretend that they are kind of healthy😉

Anyway, he plopped them down on the coffee table and we sat watching the football game and he kinda just dove into them and started munching away.  And I looked at the box and thought ‘Mmmm… those are really yummy’.  And then I stopped.

Now here comes the epiphany:

As I sat there looking at the box, thinking about how good those cookies taste, I could suddenly TASTE them!  Without putting any in my mouth!  And it was then that I realised that this is a fantastic thing.  Because if you know what something tastes like, and you can remember and actually sense that taste, then you don’t really need to actually put that yummy treat into your mouth.  When I could taste them, my craving/urge to eat them was satisfied.  Am I making sense?

Basically, what I think could be an awesome tool not only to lose weight, but to learn to exercise your mind and your senses, is to STOP and THINK for a moment before you reach for that sweet/treat/snacky thing.  You don’t have to say to yourself ‘That’s not good for you, don’t eat it’ or ‘That has a million calories, think about your skinny jeans’.  These are negative thoughts, they are not motivating, what they do is deprive you.  Instead, what you need to do is say ‘Yes, I remember what this tastes like and it’s pretty darn good’ and then let your mind take a moment to do what it needs to do so that the feeling of satisfaction slowly takes over.

*Just a warning, don’t use this technique for all food, I mean, you still have to eat regularly and healthy, but I think it’s worth a shot with those things that your body doesn’t necessarily need.

So give yourself a moment or two to stop and think and know that that treat is good, without actually trying it.  I guarantee you, it’ll work!  I know this because I never turn down a digestive…

 

 

If this doesn’t convince you….

I came to Croatia from Canada about 14 years ago.  Having grown up in Canada, many people here still question my decision to move here.  Well, this is what I tell them:

1. I am Croatian.  Both my parents were born here.  After the war that was fought for our independence (1991-1995) we all just felt the need to come home.

2. I love this country because of it’s chilled and spontaneous attitude.  I don’t need to check my calendar to be able to squeeze in a coffee date. And yes, doing coffee is BIG here.  Thank goodness the weather is finally shaping up so we can park our butts on Tkalciceva (or pretty much any cafe that has a terrace anywhere) and drink coffee and watch people passing by.

3. Croatia has a beautiful sea, breathtaking mountains, and every type of landscape you can imagine in between.  It’s nature is tailor-made for every kind of sporting activity you can imagine.  Run, bike, swim, whatever… and do it all outdoors🙂

Now, just to reaffirm that last point, here is a timelapse video composed of 150 thousand photographs from the fantastic duo from Osijek, Mario Romulic and Drazen Stojcic of Romulic Studio.  May I note, for those of you who haven’t been, you’ll need to book your tickets soon, because if this doesn’t convince you, nothing will.

 

Mud and Mastiff

This morning I went for a four mile run in my favourite park, Maksimir.  My time is nothing to brag about and in all honesty, I couldn’t run the trails I would normally go on because I’m pretty sure I’d be knee-deep in mud, and somehow I don’t think the lady at the grocery store would appreciate my athletic effort should I have walked in after my run with a Hansel and Gretel trail of mud behind me.

I had to try find the driest paths to run on, yet still I found myself in situations where I had to climb over fallen trees and slide the rest of the way down as there was no way I could turn around and go back.

One of many hurdles...

One of many hurdles…

I’m thinking this is the kind of training more appropriate for the Warrior Dash (which I do hope to do one day should they organise one something relatively close to our neck of the woods)!

But what really put a smile on my face today, besides the flying ducks…

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… was my encounter with a giant mastiff and all of his four legged friends.  Running up one of the trails I suddenly locked eyes with this mastiff, massive and intimidating but, oh so cute.  I love those dogs, though, let me tell you, when it starts charging toward you at full speed, its wrinkly face bouncing up and down, you don’t have much time to get out of the way before it knocks you down and slobbers all over you.  Luckily, besides the startled yelp that I let out, I managed to step to the side just in time, both me and the dog’s owner laughing our buttocks off…

I mean, seriously, look at that face! (Photo courtesy of Waldek Dabrowski)

I mean, seriously, look at that face! (Photo courtesy of Waldek Dabrowski)

Now here’s a question totally unrelated to this post:

If you’re working on increasing your speed should you lengthen or shorten your stride?

What a Glorious Day

After what seems like forever, this morning I was greeted with clear skies.  Thank goodness, for it seems that spring is finally on its way.  Months of dreary grey, and snow, and rain, and snow… it looks like they’re on their way out.

And I was especially grateful for the lovely weather since I had to get up at 6:25 to squeeze in my run.  My schedule is such that every other week I will have to get up uber early for my runs and today’s first early rise couldn’t have been better.

Hello Sun!  Welcome back to Zagreb, we have missed you so...

Hello Sun! Welcome back to Zagreb, we have missed you so…

Usually, I like to run in Maksimir Park.  I have a good mile to walk and warm up before I get there, I can then do my run, and then cool down walking back.  But for these kinds of days I just hit the road as soon as I walk out the door.  And I think it’s a good mix.  Running on the trails is a good way to strengthen your footing, and running on the road is a good way to prep your legs for races.

In other musings, I find it fascinating how western culture can glorify just about anyone.  Last night I finished an article in the April edition of Runner’s World, That Pre Thing.  It was an interesting perspective on the fascination/respect people/runners have for Steve Prefontaine.  I guess it’s partially the fact that he was a runner of immense potential whose life was cut too short.  We never got to see what would have been and can only speculate what all he could have accomplished.  Like other greats who left this earth too soon, his resting place is frequented by his worshipers, decorating his tomb stone with running shoes and race medals honoring him.  I respect that.  I respect the fact that people recognized his potential and his talent.

What I don’t understand is why culture and media don’t focus more on these kinds of people.  Instead, we are bombarded by Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan who, really, in all honesty haven’t achieved all that much.  Why is it that so many are so obsessed with what kind of shoes Suri Cruise is wearing, and did Brangelina marry in secret?  Why has CNN turned into one big soap opera, creating simulations of what would happen should North Korea attack?  Why do we need to instill fear and paranoia in the world and stupefy the public with trashy journalism?

We need to start focusing on other things.  We need to figure out what is of real value in our lives, what really matters.  Let’s focus on those who actually do something good for this world, be it promoting health and sports, or feeding the kids in Africa, or saving the planet.  But let’s do it with a positive twist.  Let’s focus on all that has been accomplished instead of all that we have destroyed.  Let’s focus on what more we can do and not think about how it’s all a little too late.

Oh God… this has been a bit of a ramble… sometimes I just get frustrated…

But seriously, am I right or am I right?😉

 

 

Hello :)

Hi everyone, just a little note…

You might notice that I’m adding posts every few minutes or hours… just wanted to explain that I am in the middle of a move and am taking some of my old posts and putting them up here, on my new blog!  So, in a few days when I manage to get everything organised you will start seeing fresh posts on the site here (ie not five new ones every hour)!  Happy reading🙂

The first step is always the hardest…

In my small little circle of friends, whenever someone has a question about running, that question is almost always directed at me.  I guess I am considered the quasi expert in that department.  When/where/how long should I run?  Why can’t I hold out for a full ten minutes?  Why is my butt hurting?  Should I get new shoes?  Should I eat before/after/during my run?  Will you come running with me???  Please?!?!

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While I do appreciate the fact that they come to me for advice, I feel like a total hypocrite dishing it out.  Why?  It’s been almost eight months since I last laced up.  On August 22nd, 2012 I ran four miles in just over 43 minutes.  A slow, dreadful run at 7:30 in the morning.  The only thing that made it not so bad was that just past two miles I ran right by the Kras chocolate factory and was suddenly very intoxicated by delicious chocolate fumes.  I promised myself I would run that route more often, but I never actually did.

So, how dare I preach that what I do not practice.  For months now I’ve been trying to talk myself back into running, but there was always an excuse.  It’s too cold; it’s too snowy; I don’t want to wake up early; I don’t feel like going to the gym; I have my translation to work on; I can’t fit in around my girls’ schedules; and on, and on, and on…

Well, we all know that the perfect, ideal moment will likely never come, it’s something that we face regularly in life.  And it’s a shame to waste our lives just waiting.  That’s why we have to make do with what we have and find the ‘perfect/ideal‘ in each and every moment.

Last week I had spent most of my time (spring) cleaning and thinking.  I have been depriving myself of me time for a long while now.  Me time= running.  And I had decided that once that big cleaning job is done I’m gonna get myself back on track.  I spent most of the easter weekend catching up on the last few issues of Runner’s World and flipping through their Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon Training and have decided to make a deal with myself.  Use the tools and resources you have and do what it is that you love to do.  Don’t worry about the dishes, the laundry and the vacuuming (there will be time for that).  Get your shoes on and go.

And so I did.  This morning I put on my running tights and shirt (I forgot how much I love to wear them), tied my shoes, and headed out the door.

I walked over to Maksimir Park in the pouring rain, saw all the puddles on the paths and was suddenly elated.

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I decided I was only going to do two miles (I was well aware that I could probably not do much more than that).  I thought it was a reasonable goal, and I am happy to announce that I achieved it.  20:31, my second mile being faster than my first!

I’ve finally gotten my first run out of the way…  now you can bring it on🙂