Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Runner's high.

Guys, my relationship with running is so crazy.  The only comparison that is in my mind right now is that I have an abusive relationship with running and am just hooked on it.  However, I feel like that is the WORST analogy ever so I apologize for even putting it into words.  I think it is insulting and disrespectful to anyone who has ever been in that position, so I don't mean to belittle that.  But, just when I am really torn down and feel like I want to give up, never run again, and feel like I hate running and running hates me... I then have a blissful, great run that leaves me with a high to keep me moving forward.

As you guys know, I had a hard run on Sunday that left me thinking, "How am I ever going to do this?"  And since then I have developed a cold that leaves me with stuffed up, coughing, and a heavy head.  I've felt heavy, my clothes tighter, and just all down when it comes to the marathon this week.

When I went out to run this morning, I had terrible thoughts going through my head about all the reasons why the marathon is going to be awful.  It was like when I did my 18-mile run and I just kept thinking about the reasons why I might not finish the run, and then the counter argument as to why they weren't valid reasons... except this time there was no counter argument.  I let myself get sick.  I let myself fall out of shape a bit.  Before I started traveling I was working out 6 days a week and now I'm just running.  I was eating gluten free before I started traveling and now a baguette of bread and cheese counts as dinner.  And baklava for breakfast.  I've been on my feet too much.  I haven't been getting enough sleep.  I tried to take on too much thinking that this travel would be okay before the race.  I had reasoned it in my mind, that I wouldn't change anything.  This has been an amazing few weeks.  But it wasn't going to make for a pretty marathon.

However, I then went out and ran the 6 miles and I finished remembering why I loved running.

Since I wrote on Sunday I spent another day in Istanbul where I pretty much bought out the Grand Bazaar, did some exploring, and ate a delicious final meal of kofta overlooking the city from one side of the Bosphorus Bridge.

And then I returned to my hotel to have a glass of wine on the roof and a final kunefe (Turkish dessert I wrote about a couple days ago) on the rooftop restaurant with a view of the other side of the bridge.

If you follow me on Instagram than you know the little personal I added on to my bucket list the other night.  As I wrote about the other day, I think the Bosphorus Bridge is pretty cool because it is the only bridge in the world that connects Europe and Asia.  And because I've turned into a weirdo, when I learn about cool things like this my now reaction is to think, "I want to run that!!" ----> Which, seriously, is still weird to me.

Anyways, it turns out there is one way to run across the Bosphorus Bridge and that is with the Istanbul Eurasia Marathon!  So, I mentally decided, "Someday I will do that!" and I don't think it will be this year, or probably not even next year.  But, I have added this to my bucket list -- which, is sort of important because it means that if I follow through with my bucket list than the Paris Marathon will not be my only marathon in life.  It will be my first!  Ack!

So anyways, Monday was my last night in Turkey and it was really nice.  I seriously fell in love with the place and with the people that I met, and the foooood. Of course, the food.  So before I get off the topic of Turkey, I wanted to share a few more photos and story highlights of my trip that didn't seem to fit in anywhere else.  And I would be doing anyone that ever thought about going to Istanbul a disservice if I didn't talk about the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar.

The Spice Bazaar is a smaller version, but specifically with little shops all selling a variety of spices, teas, desserts (Turkish delights and baklava), and nuts.  Everywhere you walk you can get free samples, everyone is trying to sell to you, it's packed with people, and a complete madhouse and I absolutely loved it.  I walked out with LOTS of teas, spices, and sweets to bring home.  Oh, and I also walked out with a full belly.  In additional to being a delicious place to shot, it is also beautiful!

When you walk from the Spice Bazaar to the Grand Bazaar, you pass through some of the most insanely crowded streets I have seen in any country.  A lot of the stores sell baby clothing, adult clothing, fabrics, shoes, etc. along this route and I thought it was really interesting just the diversity of people and items being sold.  There were people that were clearly from Arab countries such as Saudi where the women are fully covered from head to toe with just their eyes free.  And then there were more Western dressed men and women.  The stores sold lots of beautiful floor length, neck high, long sleeved dresses, and then right next door would be a store selling traditional belly dancer outfits!  The juxtaposition was really interesting to me and I am often intrigued by cities and cultures that have a mix of old and new in them.  Munich, which is called the city of "laptops and lederhosen" due to their mix of advanced technology and traditional cultures jumped to my mind as well.  But, whatever, back on topic... heading to the Grand Bazaar is nutty.

The Grand Bazaar is filled with shops as well that all sell sort of similar types of items.  Every major city has a market or section like this it seems.  In Italy there were markets that sold leather, Ciao Bella t-shirts, and pashminas.  In Istanbul the pashminas were still around, as were lots of evil eye jewelry, tea glasses, silver, carpets, pillow cases, soaps, t-shirts, and belly dancer clothing.  The Grand Bazaar is HUGE and easy to get lost in but also incredibly beautiful on its own.

I had a really cool interaction with someone at the Grand Bazaar and actually ended up making a friend out of it, and getting freaked out by how small the world is!  I was looking at some soaps at one of the shops at the Grand Bazaar and the guy working there asked me where I am from... a question that is not uncommon when you are a [clearly] foreigner in another country.  I responded "near Boston."  Which is my usual answer because I don't like saying "Upstate New York" and then having to explain that I am NOT from New York City.  From my experiences it doesn't seem like most people know that New York consists of anything beyond the city.  But anyways... that's a different rant for another day...

So, I said "near Boston." and the vendor responded with, "Oh! I've been there!" and I said that was cool and asked him what he did in Boston and he responded that he lived for a little bit in Providence, Rhode Island.  I then got really excited and said, "No way!  That's actually where I am from!" and asked him about Providence when he responded with, "I worked in Cumberland, Rhode Island." to which I just freaked out explaining, "Okay, that's really, REALLY where I am from!"

Cumberland is the town I grew up in and spent my whole life in.  He used to work at the only pizza place in our town that is open past midnight... aka the only pizza place that is your option to order from when it's late at night and you've been drinking beer and need a snack :)  Needless to say, he has probably delivered pizza to my friends MANY times!!  It was such a weird experience, it is such a small world.  I ended up chatting with him for quite a bit and we even got dinner together on Monday night, my last night in Turkey.  It was really fascinating learning about what it is like to own a stand at the Grand Bazaar (it has been passed down for generations) and what you learn from being a salesperson in that environment.  I am happy to say that I left Turkey with a new friend!

Another thing I loved about Turkey was the Blue Mosque.  It was one of the most incredibly beautiful places I have ever been (minus that trash can in the first picture... grr...)

So, with all of that, and so much more, I had an amazing time in Turkey.  I would have loved to spend even more but am confident I will be back someday!  Especially since I have to run that marathon across the bridge :)

On Tuesday morning I flew to Nice, France, where I write to you from now.  It is beautiful here along the water and pretty quiet since it is the off season.  I will be working from here for the next few days and am hoping for a pretty quiet week to shake off the cold I have and get some rest before going to Paris.  I had taken Monday off from running to give my legs a break after Sunday and ran Tuesday morning before my flight on the treadmill.  I had set my alarm to do it early on Tuesday morning and when it went off I was going through every excuse I could think of as to why I should keep sleeping and do my run later in the day.

I realized that I have been letting that little voice in my head be in control too much lately.  So I pushed it aside and got up and run.  This morning when my alarm went off to run again, the stupid voice was there and because I had ignored it yesterday, it was a little easier to ignore today.  I got up and did my 6 miles outdoors along the sea and felt really, really good while I was running.  The view didn't hurt either.

In fact when I stopped running, I legitimately did a happy dance on the street I felt so great and was so thrilled to have a good run.

I had seen a "Coffee To Go" place and was able to get and drink a coffee thinking about my run and the next couple of weeks before heading to my laptop for the day, so it was a pretty magical morning.  I got the "runner's high" that makes doing this whole running thing worthwhile and was feel pretty darn amazing about how lucky I am and how blessed I am to be able to live the life that I do.

I returned to my hotel to get ready for the day.  I'm trying to make this week as "routine" as possible with runs in the morning, work during the day, and meals in my hotel with the groceries I picked up at the store yesterday.  Which included lots of fruits, water, and cereal.

Well, okay, and some bread and cheese.  I am in France, what do you expect?! :)

Happy Tuesday everyone!

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