Guten Tag!

Good morning from Chicago, after a whirlwind trip to Berlin!

I had such a great trip – both in terms of work and fun. The weather was gorgeous (low 80s, breezy and sunny) and the colleagues I met were just wonderful to work with. I’d been to Berlin once before but only for a few hours (part of a larger sightseeing tour), so it was nice to see the city again.

But let me back up. First, I had a GREAT pre-trip run on Tuesday. I had to do 5 miles before work and decided to get them done on the treadmill – I have more control over speed when I’m on the machine, so there’s less of a chance of running slowly and consequently getting to work late! The run felt great – I started at a slightly faster pace and steadily increased throughout the run – not my plan, but I was feeling so good that I went for it. I like getting in a good workout before a long flight; I feel like it helps to ward off the antsy feeling I get from sitting around too long.

I arrived in Berlin in the early afternoon on Wednesday and my coworker I was traveling with suggested we meet in the hotel lobby around 6 for dinner – which left me plenty of time to nap and get in a quick 3 miles in the fitness center. I know everyone has different opinions on how to combat jet lag; for me, after a lot of trial and error, I know I function best when I’m able to sleep just a few hours after arrival and then start fresh. I took a nice two-hour nap and was ready to go when my alarm went off. Thankfully the fitness center at the hotel was really nice – several treadmills and a few ellipticals, plus plenty of dumbells and fun workout stuff (a big ball, kettleballs, resistance bands, etc). It took me awhile to figure out the speed to use (since it was in kilometers) but ended up running the whole thing sans stopping and finishing fast – I felt great.

That evening, my coworker and I walked over to the Brandenburg Gate, about a mile and a half or so from our hotel, and had dinner at a cafe; the walk was great and the weather was perfect. We got back to the hotel around 9:30 or so; we had to be back early because we had to be up early the next day to start work.

Thursday we worked steadily throughout the morning and finished up around noon; again I had several hours to kill before dinner. I considered doing some sightseeing but I knew I wanted to sleep a little and get back to the gym, and this time I needed to add weights after the run. Again it was a great experience – another nice run and then an improvised weight lifting routine – I just tried to mimic the lifting I do in my strength-training class and deliberately targeted my upper body, with some squats and lunges thrown in to keep my legs in shape for running.

On Friday we had an even earlier start, but again finished up around lunchtime. This time I was ready to get out a bit – I took a nice 2-mile walk to one of the city’s museums and explored for two hours or so. I could have stayed longer but I really was feeling tired and sore – the work I do when I’m on travel involves a LOT of walking around and standing around, so adding that to my workouts and walks to dinner, plus lingering jet lag – I was ready to get back to my hotel. I had enough time to take a quick nap before meeting up again with my coworker for my last dinner in Berlin. We went to the city’s oldest beer garden and I loved it! I really don’t like beer very much but when in Germany…it just feels like the right thing to do!

Finally it was time to come home. I had to fly from Berlin to Newark and connect to Chicago; we landed early so I was able to hop on an earlier flight home (originally I wasn’t due to get home until 5 but with the new flight I was home by 3), so I was grateful for that. I had all intention of getting in my 7-mile long run once I got home, but somehow I just lost my motivation. I’m not exactly sure what happened. I can’t blame jet lag because I slept fine on the plane, and I definitely ate enough to fuel the run. Granted it was pouring rain when I got home, but I easily could have just run on the treadmill – but then I psyched myself out of that because I didn’t want to be the only person at the gym that late on Saturday evening (which I probably wouldn’t have been but the thought alone made me blanch). I also knew that I could just do the run this morning and do my cross-training tomorrow…so that’s what I went with.

I finally got out around 8am today for what I thought would be a pretty straightforward run. I started off feeling okay…and then not so much. I’m not exactly sure what went wrong because there are so many things that were different about running this morning, but suffice it to say, these 7 miles were a real struggle for me. For one thing, it was HOT and humid here today. 8am is still an early start time, but my group runs typically kick off at 6:30, so already I was getting kind of a late start. Second, I always eat a banana before a long run but I didn’t have any at home, so I didn’t eat anything. Third, it’s very rare for me to crave a particular kind of food but last night I really wanted pizza – once during half marathon training I had pizza before a long run and I was just fine; I assumed it’d be okay today. Not so much. I made it through about 4 miles and really started doubting that I’d be able to run through the rest; I was hot, thirsty (I had water with me but wanted to space it out since my tummy was already on the fritz!), and my stomach was doing flip flops. It was fine when I was on my little walk breaks but as soon as I started running again it would cramp up. I slowed down and tried to take it easy but the whole thing was just really hard.

I’d say that I learned my lesson…I’m just not sure what lesson I learned! šŸ™‚ I guess next time I’ll be sure to have a more basic dinner the night before; I don’t really know if the pizza was what bothered me but I feel no desire to test that again. I’ll also make sure I have my pre-run banana (I didn’t think it was absolutely necessary today because it was just 7 miles; I should have taken that distance more seriously). Other than those two factors, I’m not sure what else I would do differently. One thing I will take from this run – again, right around mile 4 or so was when I really didn’t think I’d run the whole way, but I DID – I got through it. It wasn’t pretty but I kept telling myself that I was going to get through it. That’s been a significant difference from the last time I trained for a marathon – back then, I would have just defaulted to walking and I would have just been pleased I got in the requisite distance. So far during this training session I have not once taken a break from running. Even during my half marathon training, only once did I walk for 2 minutes instead of 1. So even though this was a more challenging run than I’d anticipated, I still got it done, and that’s what matters.

And now it’s back to normal, sort of – I have a quick trip to Washington tomorrow but I’ll be back by Tuesday night, so my plan is to take my interval training class tomorrow morning before work and to run in DC on Tuesday morning, which I love. It’s hot there too but after today I’m ready for it!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. Happy to be home!

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