Three Sundays ago I was in Portland running my first marathon; two Sundays ago I was on a high-speed train from Paris to Ghent; last Sunday I was on a no-frills, thrifty plane to Berlin; and today, I am home. Our trip was so amazing, as I’m sure you might have gleaned from some of my blog postings, and so different from any of our other European travels in that we both went back to our roots.
However, that all being said, it could have been a wee bit warmer! Both Mario and I packed for fall weather (as we should have) but hoped for an Indian summer like we had three years ago. I arrived in Paris with just a sweater to keep me warm (my fall jacket safely packed away in my suitcase) and on the first day, I was even able to take my jacket off a few times while walking around outside. That, however, didn’t last, not even a day. By the time I left Berlin, I was decked out in a new winter coat, a scarf and a toque – mittens were also required, as my bright red, scaly, lizard hands would tell you, but alas they weren’t in the budget, my jacket pockets had to make do.
Over the years, Mario and I have learned that for us, the three-week vacation is the perfect amount of time to let go, to forget about work, responsibilities, worries, and anything else back at home. And on this trip, for me, it also allowed me to forget about my running. For more than a year, running has been my life, training for half marathons, and the marathon. Even when I was sidelined with injury for a couple of months, it was still at the top of my mind. I couldn’t wait to tie up my sneaks and get out onto the road again, I even felt guilty at times for not running. And when I was training, especially for the marathon, it was at the forefront of everything I did. I ate for my training, I socialized for my training, I negotiated my TV viewing and book reading around my training, I blogged for my training (obviously!) I even bowed out of social engagements and opted out of going to the reception of my girlfriend’s wedding because it was the night before a long run and I wasn’t sure if the food would hold up in my belly the next day.
But the second I boarded the plane for Paris, I let it all go. And even though I was still feeling aches and pains through the first part of my trip (my big toe was pretty nasty and swollen and oozing (eww!!!) for quite some time, and only just stopped feeling pain in the last couple of days) I didn’t think about running, not once. And I ate, ohhhhh did I ever eat, like a runner in training should never: chocolate, beer, tartelettes, cakes, wine, the works. I read an article once on George Hincappie (longtime Tour de France “worker” cyclist) who, after the Tour, goes all out for a couple of weeks, drinking beer and eating all things he doesn’t allow himself to eat when he’s in training for 11 months of the year. That’s exactly what I did 😀
However, on the plane ride home, it all came rushing back to me like you wouldn’t believe – by way of questions. What now? I’d like to give my body some rest from all the work I’ve put it through with the running, but I love running. How, when my mind isn’t being distracted from touring new and exciting countries, do I stay away from the pavement? I’ve had a couple of friends ask me to do the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May with them, of which training starts at the end of December. Would my legs be ready to get back to it so soon? Do I really want to train in the cold, rainy, winter months? (I’m a bit of a fair weather runner, and last year, when I was training in the thick of monsoon weather, I pretty much hated it) And if I’ve got my eyes set on possibly (POSSIBLY) doing another marathon in October, would that be enough time for my body to recover between training? Or, do I look at a half marathon in October instead? I’m also interested in getting myself set up with a really good cross-training routine, but with what, I don’t know. Before I started training for this past marathon, I had good intentions of cross training, but after only a month and a half, all that fell by the wayside. Do I hire a personal trainer, someone who could show me the ropes through the gym so I don’t get all freaked out every time I walk in, and maybe even set up a program for me? Or do I try and do it all on my own again?
See what I mean, so many questions – all of which start with “What now?”
And then there was the question Mario posed to me this morning, a humdinger of a question: You’re walking down a street and are presented with three options, a Parisian patisserie, a German konditorei, and a Belgian chocolate shop and you’ve only got 5 Euros in your pocket, which one do you choose? For me, it was a toss-up between the patisserie (I do so love my Parisian baked goods) and the chocolate shop (LOVE my Belgian chocolate!) but in the end I opted for the chocolate shop given that I could get much more chocolate with 5 Euros than I could patisseries.
What would you do?