Friday, September 4, 2009

When in Rome...

Go running. Unless you can find a bike shop or a pool.

I used to look forward to training while on vacation. Back in the old days... when I was a marathon runner and nothing else. Vacations were easy back then. I didn't worry about finding an ocean, lake or pool to swim in, and I wasn't frantically Googling where to rent a road bike in a non-English-speaking country. All I needed was a pair of running shoes, shorts and a singlet -- my ticket to see the world. Even in the winter. I've run in almost every city I've traveled to. I've seen Paris, Rome, and London at times when most tourists are sleeping. I've gotten lost in Pittsburgh (easy to do) AND New York (next-to-impossible). I've run along Lake Geneva in Switzerland. I've run up a mountain in Scotland. I've run in the Hollywood Hills. I've run in violent wind storms in Brighton, England (see photo), and Chicago. I've stopped along the waterfront trail to admire starfish in Monterey Bay. I've gotten up at 4 a.m. to run in Houston in the summer. And because I AM the disaster magnet, I've even tripped and fallen over road construction barriers in Dublin, Ireland.

So, you ask: why don't I just pack my running shoes and stop complaining? It's simple: because I'm in training for an Ironman 70.3 in November. This is no time for a break. In fact, it's exactly the opposite -- it's time for hard training. How does a triathlete train hard in a foreign country on a limited budget? Your guess is as good as mine. I've scoped out beaches and bike shops in Italy. I've packed clothes for all three sports. I've looked up alternative workouts for swimmers without water and bikers without hardware. And tomorrow, I enter the realm of vacation training.

I will report back on my successes, failures and lessons learned. My one consolation is that I may come out of it with a faster run leg. And some new stories to tell. Hopefully not disaster stories.

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