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Haz el bien, y no mires a quién. -Spanish Proverb


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It’s hard to believe we’re well into June! Now that things have slowed down a bit for me, I’ve had more time to reflect. May was a seriously great month. Hands down, it was one of the very best of my life. It started with great travels with my parents and continued to be full of experiences, fun and unforgettable times with friends.

On May 19 in San Sebastian, I ran my sixth half-marathon (third one on this side of the pond, after doing the half at the Bilbao Night Marathon in 2011 and 2012.) I’ve changed to minimalist-style running over the past year, and although the adjustment really took an entire year, it has finally paid off big time. I beat my half-marathon PR by 8 minutes, meaning I knocked almost an entire minute off each mile. It was a beautiful race in a beautiful place, even when the pouring rain and high winds kicked in during the last mile. Maybe you can find a happy/exhausted American girl crossing the finish line in this video.

The weekend after the race was my birthday weekend and it was…the…BEST. I’ve made so many great friends from a variety of circles in these past couple of years, and many of them were able to join me  to help me celebrate with a Mexican-style potluck in my apartment. I put together this GoPro-recorded account of the night:

My main job here as an English auxiliar for the Basque Government ended at the end of May as well. I’m much more sad about that than relieved or anything else. My job was seriously amazing: my boss and coworkers were super friendly and easy-going, and my students were intelligent, creative, engaged and extremely appreciative. There probably aren’t many teachers in the whole world that can say all of those things about their work. Thank you, EOI de Getxo, for EVERYthing.

one of my classes at the EOI, goofing around like they do best ;-)

one of my classes at the EOI, goofing around like they do best 😉

One fabulous month rolled directly into another, and June is off to a great start. I can’t wait to see what more great things this summer has in store.

I hope you are all doing well in your various corners of the world. Let the summer fun begin! 😀


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10K every day

With each new year comes the idea of a fresh start: the motivation to start this, quit that, improve this, reduce that…the infamous “Propósitos del Año Nuevo,” or “New Year’s Resolutions” as we say across the pond.

I worked as a fitness instructor at the UND Wellness Center during my college career, and through that experience I gained keen insight into the most notorious of New Year’s trends: the super-swelling of gym attendance during the first month of the year, followed by a sharp drop-off as early February. As someone who maintains a relatively consistent activity level throughout the year, I just see January as the time of year when going to the gym can be more stress-inducing than stress-relieving.

So my “anti-resolution”, for January at least, was to NOT purchase a gym membership (I pay month by month) at the fabulous Gimnasio Alhóndiga, but instead to run outside more (ironically during the coldest and rainiest month of the year) and become more creative and resourceful with home workouts.

To have something more specific to work toward, I rather arbitrarily decided that I want to run 100 miles (or 161 km for those of you from countries which have more sensibly adopted the metric system) by the end of January. I truly don’t consider this a particularly impressive goal, but it will be a PR for me I suppose. If you think I’m just being modest, you need to read Born to Run (hugely inspirational for me), and then my piddly 100 miles will seem trivial to you as well.

I started this venture on January 5th, and since I usually do my longer runs on the weekend, I’ve decided that I will polish off the 100 miles on Sunday the 29th, probably with some sort of epic odyssey run to break my PR of miles run in a day (currently 13.1; a half marathon.) I’ve decided to take two days off each week, so that gives me exactly 19 separate runs to total 100 miles–an average of 5.3 miles per run. As you can see from my low-tech tracking method below, I’ve got some work to do before the 29th:

mileage tracking, low-tech version

*Note: I also use MapMyRun.com as a more”high-tech” tracking method to ensure distance accuracy and to plan my routes. This calendar simply serves as a visual encouragement (it’s taped to my closet) to get out and hit the pavement so I get to use my über-cool hot pink pen to record my accomplished mileage.

You can also see that I’m tracking hiking miles as well, but that’s just for fun–the only miles that will count toward my 100 mile goal are those that I run. I’ve also recently decided to track the amount that I walk each day for commuting, errands, meeting up with friends, etc. I already know that the average is somewhere around 3 miles per day, but I’m curious to monitor it more closely and get an accurate total.

By a very conservative estimate, after adding up 100 miles run + X miles hiked + X miles walked, I will cover over 200 miles on foot in the month of January. That works out to an average of 6.7 miles (over 10km) every single day.

I’ve run in a few half marathons over the past couple of years, and I’m excited to have another one lined up for this March in Santander, Spain: a coastal city just a bit west of Bilbao. I’m also flirting with the idea of running my first full marathon at the end of April in Madrid.

What goals do you have for staying active in 2012?


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Aupa! To the streets! (Bilbao Night Marathon 2011)

About four months ago, I was sitting in my room in Jamestown, North Dakota thinking about how dumb it is that marathons are always in the morning. I’m not really a morning person, and I am REALLY not a morning workout person. I was a fitness instructor for the last four years and some of the classes I taught didn’t even start until 8:30pm. After 6pm was when the gym was always busiest anyway, so clearly I wasn’t alone in my preference.

As with everything today, this thought about marathons had barely come to mind and I was already typing “night marathons” into Google. The first result? “Bilbao Night Marathon.” Woah, wait, WHAT? So the place that I was going to be moving to in a couple of months has exactly what I was looking for? This seemed a little bit too good to be true. I looked into it, and within a few minutes I had registered for the half-marathon (medio-maratón) and totally stoked. I can’t believe the day is finally here!

“Training”

My “training schedule” has been so all-over-the-place that it’s laughable by any conventional standards. And you know what? I’m totally okay with that.

Throughout the summer, I tried to shoot for one short, fast run (~3 mi, pushing my speed the whole time) and one longer run (6-9 miles, easy pace) each week. Since I arrived in Spain 3.5 weeks ago, I have only gone for 4 runs, the longest being just over 5 miles. So that’s it. I haven’t run more than a 9-miler since my last half-marathon in Fargo last May. That does make me a little nervous, but there’s no sense in worrying about it now.

Me after finishing the Fargo Half-Marathon in May 2011

My total mileage covered on foot since I moved back here is, however, more than what I would cover if I was going for runs on a more regular basis. I estimate that I walk between 3 and 7 miles each day, just in my commute to work and errand-running. My leg muscles have definitely not been dormant 🙂

There are 3,700 people total registered for the full marathon, half-marathon, and 7.5 K “pirate race” (why pirate? not a clue.) Of the 3,700, only 700 are women!!! The number surprised me, but when I think about it I never, ever see girls out for runs here. Occasionally I’ve seen a girl running WITH a dude, but that’s it. It’s just not a thing here. In any case, it will be interesting to be one of the females representing a mere 18% of the total participants!

Our sweet race tees!

Everyone has their own theories on how to train and prepare for a race, but perhaps the most important thing is having a positive and confident attitude. I have no idea how I’m going to perform tonight, but I know that I am practically giddy that I’m about to run through the streets of my favorite city with 3,700 other people while the lively people of Bilbao flock the streets to cheer us on.

I hadn’t watched this video since that day four months ago when I found out about the race, but I just watched it again and now my heart is pounding. Watch it from 1:00 to the end. YOU might even get pumped up.

Aupa! To the streets!