Running Holiday

What sort of vacationing runner are you? Do you forget all about getting the miles in when you’re on a break, or is the thought of leaving your trainers at home enough to cause you to break out in a cold sweat?

I usually plan to get all my usual runs in and throw in a race or two for good measure, but somehow it never quite goes to plan (see San Francisco 2016..!). Being in an unfamiliar place and all the faffing about that goes with travelling can put a spanner in the works with keeping up with your training. Our just-finished holiday to the states was no exception…here’s what went down.

Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin’ town…

Arrived in Chicago. Flown into Chicago lots before but never left the airport. First impressions; they’re not kidding about it being the Windy City. Landing not fun. Can’t see the tops of some of the buildings.

Chicago marathon expo on Friday (marathon for Mr. Duff). Good expo; free shuttle buses, easy to find what you needed to, great range of stands. Bought an unplanned new pair of Oofos.

Plan was for me to run the International Chicago 5k early on Saturday. 7.30am start for some reason – madness! Woke early feeling no good at all. Sick, faint, dizzy, too hot. Made it into kit and to raid the lobby shop for Pepto Bismol to find the weather howling a gale and utterly pissing it down. Hmmm. To run the race or go back to bed?

Decided to risk it, $3 poncho doing it’s bit, bumped into some other Brits who knew where they were going so that was one less thing to worry about. Arrived at the start area to a red alert situation and a race delayed til the rain stopped. The Brits in the crowd declared it wasn’t raining that much, although there was thunder…

Overheating in my rain poncho. Feeling really unwell now. Bugger. Had been wanting to race this. Now hoping no marshals notice me if I have to throw up quietly at the side – if I’ve made the effort to get up this early I’m getting the bloody medal.

Race finally starts. Way too hot, feeling extremely sick and with GPS all over the place I just about scrape under 32 minutes and finish drenched in sweat and thinking it might have been more sensible to go back to bed. But it is a good medal!

Totally wiped out for the rest of Saturday. Don’t know if it’s jet lag, food poisoning, a bug or a really peculiar migraine but I sleep for the entire day and night and don’t eat a thing.

Feeling much better by Sunday, marathon day, which is the important thing. Manage to get myself to the block separating mile 4 and 12ish ahead of the elites and see Mr. Duff and our mate Ken the Eagle. Also randomly think I see @BigCarlRunning and yell at him but he didn’t hear me.

Marathon day goes well, if a little damp, but I still can’t eat. Manage to do a gentle 4 miler as the sun goes up on our only sunny day in Chicago. Yesterday I was wearing gloves and a hat, today I had to take my top off half way round the run. Scorchio.

On to Tahoe – Millstones & Emeralds

Tahoe next, and we were booked to run the Emerald Bay Half Marathon. You can see why we wanted to run this in the photos later…

Wanted to do a few runs here where the air is clear and the views are stunning. Staved my toe in the bathroom on day one. Did take pics, but it was gross, so won’t share them. Whole toe bright purple but fairly certain it wasn’t broken. Emergency arnica procured and tested the toe on a ‘5k’ (ish) local run led by a chap who has run all of the Lake Tahoe marathons – 23 I think?! Learned about the Washoe Indians who lived at Tahoe and ran through an area full of boulders the Indians had used as millstones. It was stunning – felt like we’d gone back in time, and our guide gave us a pretty hilarious commentary about the local gambling establishments into the bargain!

Half marathon day dawned clear, bright and chilly with a last minute nag from the organiser (or Ring Master, as his many very funny emails in the run up to race day had it) to wear enough clothes. Again, many Brits looking confused – 10 degrees and sunny is the perfect running weather!

This race was pretty special. Best start line anywhere, definitely. Certainly made the loo queue more scenic. Being piped to the start line by an actual piper was also a nice touch. As was the actual shotgun to set us off.

Much like the Chicago 5k, I had a funny old time of it at this race. The course is steeply downhill for the first couple of miles so when my watch beeped 8:38 for the first one I just laughed ruefully, knowing that wouldn’t last. The hills at the start were a little tough on the legs and when things flattened out a bit the going got tougher. I was going ok, but was too warm again and was wishing I’d been bold and started cold in fewer clothes. By 7 and a half miles I was had the thought, unfamiliar these days, of why exactly we do this running thing anyway?

At 8 miles running another 5 felt like an ask, and seemed to take forever, but I somehow managed to get a top three personal best time and it transpired later I was 9th in my age category which is good enough for me. I was more knackered than I’ve felt after a half for a while though and had the feeling that a few weeks of recovery and 10 days on holiday with only a couple of low mileage jogs wasn’t doing wonders for my post marathon fitness.

Oh well. Once again it was a pretty fab medal, and Mr. Duff had won his age category and also picked up a trophy!

Bay Area Bound

I’d been hoping to get a couple of midweek runs in during our week in San Francisco, even optimistically pondering a 10 miler to Sausalito over the bridge, but alas. It turns out running a half marathon on tricky terrain and immediately having to dash off and spend 5 hours in a car to get it back before you overrun your car hire time isn’t very good for your legs. Muscles I clearly never use were in agony for several days and the old tear in my right calf was niggling. I didn’t dare risk a run til Thursday and managed a pleasant little progression run to Fisherman’s Wharf and back. And promptly ruined any fat burning effect by eating this thing from the Ferry Building market, which is called a crubble and was quite astonishingly good (it’s croissant dough with maple sugar and sea salt. Yep. I know. Someone in San Francisco is a genius.).

Last chance for glory was Crissy Field parkrun, at which the Golden Gate Bridge was hidden by the fog but was definitely there, I promise! I hadn’t been feeling great about it but warmed up after a mile and pulled a couple of 8.30’s out of somewhere for a second best ever parkrun time and a course PB by a few minutes. Not sure where that came from but felt slightly relieved to still have some fitness somewhere!

So not as much running as I’d have liked, but whether you have a running holiday or a holiday from running being away gives you the chance to step back and think about what you’re doing with your training. Now we’re back and I’m officially out of marathon recovery I’m excited to get back into a proper plan for some shorter distances. Oh yeah, and that Spring marathon I accidentally signed up for…!

Who am I kidding – even if you take a holiday from running, you’re never on holiday from being a runner!

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