Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mexico - I'm on a horse/boat

I had about 24 hours back in the US (after a 16-hr flight from South Africa), before it was time to head out to Mexico...

Before the flight, I squeezed in an hour-long strength session in the early morning.  Once I arrived in Mexico, I was craving a good workout.  I fit in a 10K run in 54:34 (8:48 ave), at 3 degrees of incline, followed by 40 min of biking.  Mexico City is at 1.5 mi of elevation, vs. Johannesburg's 1.1 mi, so I was already adapted from JB (didn't notice too much of a difference there), and I didn't notice a real difference in Mexico City, either... sweet.... altitude training.

Thursday, I did 5.6 mi in 46:22, 8:17 ave.  Saturday, 2/23, 60 min of biking. 

Saturday, my Mexican colleague invited me to spend the day with his family visiting a cool canal area, which was so kind of them.  The canals used to be used to transport goods into the city long, long ago.  Now, they're still used for transport by the locals, and the boats are also used to sell music (mariachi bands), souveniers, food, and photo ops to tourists.  It was a really colorful area, with the boats and flowers and food and music, and it was a nice place to spend a beautiful day with a really nice family.



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Before that, we had ridden on horses around a park.


I started off my Sunday with a 7.4 miler in 1:05:58 at 6am, at 8:55/mi ave, at 2 degrees.  Felt ez, and would've gone further, had it not been for a bathroom requirement.

I rode the bus into the downtown area.  I spent a few hours at the large Anthropology Museum, which was nicely designed and not expensive compared to similar museums in other countries.


At first, I went slowly and studied the artifacts, but the place is so big, that by the end, I was just cruising through and only pausing at things that caught my eye.  Once I left the museum, I came upon Flyers!  Those guys climbed up a tall, tall tower without any safety ropes!  Then, they twirled their way back down.  One of the guys was playing a flute, and another was banging on a drum, the whole time, upside-down and swinging in circles from a great height.




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Then, I went to the Templo Mayor, Aztec ruins in the middle of the city.  Over the course of 2 centuries it was expanded 7x by different kings, and you can see the layers that have been excavated.


Tuesday, 2/26: 10K in 54:39, 8:49 ave, at 2 degrees of incline.  Felt harder than it should've been.  Considered running the previous night, but legs were still a bit inflamed.  Didn't have much water before the 6am run, since the gym's water cooler had run out, too.  Had an apple before the run, but I think I prefer having chocolate or something non-insulin-spiking before the run.  Went on 5 hrs of sleep, too, so all of those might've been factors.
The people in Mexico were so incredibly hospitable and friendly.  It was a great week at work, and a nice weekend, too.

Monday, February 25, 2013

South Africa - Animal I-Spy

After Amsterdam, it was off to South Africa.  Last year, there had been a chance that I was going to go to South Africa, but it didn't work out.  I was disappointed, because I had been so looking forward to the continent of The Lion King.  LK had been my favorite movie as a kid.  This year, the dream became a reality - first time in Africa!

We stayed at a casinio complex, Emperor's Palace, the Las Vegas of Africa.  It had lots of restaurant options, which is useful because you don't have to worry so much about the safety of getting around SA on your own.

At the gym, I was excited just to run next to Africans.  I would love to go to Iten, Kenya, one day. 

Monday, 30 min bike interval session: 30s on, 30s off, with a 5 min warmup andn 5 min cooldown on both sides.

Tuesday, 3.7 mi on the treadmill on my own, to get in a decent workout before going on a rare-for-me group run with 2 guys from work.  We went for 3.3 mi outside, doing laps around the complex.  It was good, and it's a good feeling when you can get in miles with ease while feeling like you had a decent workout.  The sun in South Africa really does have a certain golden glow to it that illuminates things in a way that the sun in other regions doesn't.

Wednesday, 10 mi.

Friday, 50 min bike session, comfortably hard.

I really enjoyed the people in South Africa.  Very friendly and good to work with.

Saturday, Safari!  We went to Pilanesburg National Park.  Cars pay a small fee to go in and drive along the many paths however you like.  You look for animals along the way.  It's like a treasure hunt, because the animals can be a bit camouflaged or far away sometimes.  Many times, they're right next to the road, too, though.
(One of the park entrances)

(Antelope)

(Elephant)

(Giraffe)


(Water)

(Rhino)

(Wildebeest and Warthogs)

(Not my jeep - we were in a van... wish we had an open-air jeep)

(Zebras)

(Ostrich)

(.... aaaaand, Ostrich, which tastes great... like fillet mignon)

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Sunday, went to Soweto to get a different view of South Africa.


(Nelson Mandela's House)


Cool country.... would love to go back one day.  I want to do the Comrades Marathon (really, 55-miler), although that will take some training.  I also would like to go to the much larger Kruger National Park, maybe with a jeep.  That would make a nice trip, huh?  Run a lot, then spend a few days in Kruger driving around while resting your legs.

I AMsterdam - Fell in love with this city

Feb 2, Saturday:
Spent the day in Amsterdam during a long layover on my way to Asia.  Started the pre-sunrise morning walking along the canals of the Jordaan neighborhood, in the snow.  Toured Anne Frank's house.  Amsterdam is a really cool city, when it comes to city history and layout.  I love that.  It's below sea level, and they have a series of canals for transport and defense purposes.  I had lunch at the place pictured below, the Waag, or old weigh house where goods being brought into the city were weighed.  Walked through the Red Light District.  Did a canal boat ride.  Strolled past the museums and Vondel Park.  A packed day, soaking in as much of the city as I could.  Even the airport at Amsterdam is awesome, with its own mini-museum (an extension of the Rijksmuseum), multi-lingual library, lounge areas, impressive cafeteria, and cocktail education area.


Next, it was off to a certain Asian country, although I didn't make it past immigration because we found out that my visa was expired once I got there... so it was back to Amsterdam.  Worked Asian hours, but on a couple of evenings, I went out to take in more of the city.

Monday - did 6.8 mi in 57:39, 8:28/mi on ave. 
Wed - did 9.3 mi in 1:23:54, 9:00/mi on ave.


Heinekin Museum, where I poured my first beer from the tap. 

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Also went to the Amsterdam Historical Museum, which was really cool and had lots of everything.


Saw the Van Gough exhibition at the Hermitage Museum, went to Rembrandt's house, did another boat tour...


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Visited a windmill, and helped to turn it to face the wind (I didn't know those things could turn - ingeneous!).



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Visited one of the canal houses owned by an aristocrat from the 1800s, visited the Canal House museum that told you the history of the city with really cool show-exhibits.  Went onto one of the boats, which was turned into a museum to show you how people live in it.



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There are interesting bridges spanning the canals, with nice photo ops everywhere.  If you ever go, I recommend getting the I AMsterdam card, which gives you free access to most public transport options, plus free entrance to many museums.  The savings you get on the public transport alone is huge.  However, the cost vs. the benefit may be kind of even if you get the 24-hr version.  I got the 3-day version, and that definitely made it worth it.


People bike all over the city, which is really cool.  In all kinds of weather, they bike.  Eco-friendly and active... my kind of thing.  I fell in love with Amsterdam.  London and Amsterdam are my favorite cities so far.  I like how easy it is to get around on public transport.  I like how there's so much culture and history there, too.



Saturday - 5.6 mi.  Deleted the time before I could record it.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Jan 20 - Feb 1: Jantastic - p


Marathontalk is one of my favorite podcasts, and I like listening to it while I run.  It's hosted by two British guys who are really funny, and on my runs, you may see me burst out laughing randomly sometimes.  They're fun running companions.  It's also fun to get a little bit involved in that running community.  Every week, in addition to sharing racing news, they have a "listeners' podium", where they list the top 5 mens and womens performances for the week.  They also have a spring motivation challenge, where there are different goals you set for mileage/distance/time for Jan, Feb, and March.  This is Jantastic.  Next come Febulous and Marchvelous.

My Jantastic goal wasn't too hard, set at 3, but the next highest option would've been 4 runs/week, and that's a bit of a push, even during marathon training.  I wish it could be higher than 3, but eh...


JAN 20, SUNDAY

6.1 in 50:57, 8:18 ave. Sunset run in the park. Woke up feeling mentally blah, and ended up sleeping like crazy until 3pm! Got in a run while I could. Fearing the onset of some sickness, I had lots of green tea and garlic and usual good nutrition. Both knees still a bit yoinky in the middle of the run, but better later on and overall felt good, and would’ve done more with more light. Used headlamp for last lap when got darker, but would’ve been hard in complete darkness. Liked the previous night’s cannonball cooldown for improving bloodflow and recovery.

JAN 21, MONDAY

60 min strength session. Head hot and throat dry today, but not too bad. Now discovered why I was sleepy yesterday. Drinking quickly helped throat heal.

JAN 22, TUESDAY

4.0 in 34:26, 8:37 ave. Treadmill hills. 2 mi warmup in 8:45 and 8:33 @ 1 degree, 2x[1/2 in 4:18 @ 7mph, ¼ in 2:08 @ 10 degrees, ¼ in 2;08 @ 1 degree] (=7mph). Wanted to bike, but it wouldn’t turn on, and wanted workout desperately after being stuck inside and sedentary all day. Would’ve done a long run, but people were in line for the treadmill, so I turned it into a hill session to get bang for buck.

JAN 25, FRIDAY

5.0 in 41:19, 8:15 ave, at 3 degrees. My legs always feel ready to run again the day or two after workouts, but once I get to 2+ days of rest, running is a shock to the legs again…. Inertia. Craved vitamin C today. Kinda getting better, though the run made my head feel hot again.

JAN 27, SUNDAY

6.0 in 51:05, 8:30 ave, at 4 degrees. Head still felt hot-ish (just perception, not absolute temps, based on the thermometer reading). But needed a workout. Fairly challenging. Also in a mood to go long today.

JAN 28, MONDAY

60 min strength session.

>>> 14 hrs in the office on Tuesday, so no workout.

JAN 30, WEDNESDAY

6.0 in 48:59, 8:09 ave, 2 degrees. No trace of sickness, I realized. Another long workday. Run felt more effort-ful than it should’ve been, probably because I was tired, and the gym was set at 76 degrees, vs. the usual 71. Surprised I made it to 6, when 4 seemed a challenge at first.

FEB 1, FRIDAY

4.0 in 32:53, 8:13 ave. Tread hills, to get in a workout in the morning before long flights. 1 mi warmup in 8:23, 2x[ ½ @ 5 degrees, ½ @ 3 degrees] @ 7.3mph (8:16), 1 mi cooldown @ 2 degrees in 7:56.