A little idea of my runs in Hamburg

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A short photo essay of my runs in Hamburg, especially now that it’s Spring:

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The first picture is of the hill I run down to get from the street to the path straight on the Elbe. It’s about 1.6 miles to this point where I can look out across the river and see the clock tower, the second image.

Often, I’ll be accompanied by a freight ship on my way down the Elbe (I usually run west, towards the outskirts of Hamburg). The freight ship is sometimes helped by a smaller ship, but when it’s riding free down the river, I’m usually running right alongside, trying to keep up. On a good day, I can.

Finally, I am delighted by the images of spring popping up all around me. The daffodils makes me a little more giddy than other flowers (since I have to think of how I “wander, lonely as a cloud”), but the pink, yellow and white blossoms on the trees, and the blue, red and purple buds on the ground make running right now absolute color fests.


Missing Lizards

It’s funny how we more quickly realize what’s missing from than what’s added to our lives.

But it took me an awfully long time to realize what was missing from my runs since being in Hamburg: lizards underfoot!

See full size imageThese little guys will scamper across the sidewalks of south Florida, narrowly missing ones feet and always leaping at the last second. I don’t know how many lizards I’ve nearly killed, but I’m happy to say I only ever stepped on two.

I didn’t realize how used I’d become to looking out for them until I missed them on my run yesterday. There’s a different kind of foot technique needed when avoiding small, moving objects that I realized I didn’t have to worry about here. 

Instead, as I know from my runs on the Baltic Sea, German running involves looking out for snails. True, they don’t move nearly as fast, but they make up for it in quantity. One can barely avoid them, especially in the summer if it’s just rained.

But along the Elbe, there are no snails (maybe it’s too cold?). I just have adults and their fluffy dogs with wagging tails to watch out for.

Running in Hamburg

is seeing a huge cargo ship slowly make it down the river at sunset.

Daylight savings ended in Germany on Sunday. This means that while it was steadily getting dark closer and closer to 6 PM, it now gets dark around 5:15 PM. Yesterday, I ran in the morning, but today I ran in the afternoon and realized too late that I should have been out the door by 4 PM.

I usually avoid running at night because I don’t like it. There are too many lights; not only do the lights from oncoming cars blind one, but In Germany, there are a lot of bike commuters and these commuters use bright, white LED lights that seem to make blinding all oncoming traffic their sole reason for existing (well, they’re lights… they don’t really have high standards). I found myself stumbling a lot as well, and I don’t like the sensation of uncertainty while running or otherwise. Needless to say, it being dark halfway into my run was lame.

However, one can’t avoid running in the dark if one wants to see the very end of a beautiful sunset. I was running west today, along the Elbe, and coming around the first bend after reaching the river was just, well, I would let a picture do the talking, but I have no camera on my runs. At any rate, the view of the river at sunset was incredible. About a mile down the river, I saw the outline of a huge cargo ship against the red, orange, and pink streaked sky. It was moving very, very slowly and it took me a moment to realize it was actually stuck and the tiny, tiny little boat coming up behind it was supposed to push it into deeper river water.

It’s not everyday you see the old partnership of large and small ship play out on open water. Against the backdrop of the sunset and the slowly crystallizing waning moon, I could have filmed the slow spectacle for some award.

Other than that, my run today was actually pretty bad. I got in 8 miles, but halfway through my right hamstring was doing some whining, followed by my right outer knee and then inner knee. This could just be some niggles following some intense soccer yesterday, but I’m also waiting for the day that my plantar fasciitis plagued right foot to finally calls for revolution. I’m hoping it waits a little. These niggles combined with bad stomach combo (lots of burping and farting) bought back the banality of my existence despite the epic view fest of my run.

Oh well, such is life.

Running identity: “Wie viel bist du gelaufen?”

[How much did you run?]

“Du laeufst jeden Tag? [you run everyday?]”

“Bist Du heute gelaufen, trotz des Wetters? [Did you run today, even though the weather is like it is?]”

As a someone who has been running for many years, it still surprises me how much I am identified (by others) as a runner. I don’t know why it surprises me, since it’s the thing people see me doing most often and it’s the easiest way to get into conversation with me, but my identity as a runner surprises me. It may have something to do with the fact that I see my own identity as a running one- it’s always in flux, even the kind of “runner” I identify as.

I think I like to identify myself as many other things than as a runner; after all, I also write, study, travel, play soccer, get excited about literature, paint, etc. But I suppose it is fair to say that I spend a lot of time in my “free-time” running, and I do it pretty consistently. I’m also often either on my way to run, or just coming back from it when I run into people.

So, given these facts, it’s fair to say that since living in this studenten Wohnheim (student “dormitory”), I’ve been labeled as “the one who runs.” Not only that, but I have been labeled as a “good runner.” I guess it is sort of impressive to be running 10K a day, and then 20k or more on the weekends, but in the circles I’m used to (in the real world and online) my training is “good,” just not “awesome.”

On the other hand, having this “running identity” makes it easier for others to start a conversation with me, and it’s been one of the most productive ways that I’ve socialized with others in the communal kitchen. These days, I usually have someone who tells me that they ran today, or that they saw me running. I always like to hear when/that others run! I just wish it wasn’t always followed by a “but it wasn’t a lot.” I don’t want people to be intimidated by the fact that I run a lot (or fast-ish). I have a hard time getting any of the people who strike up these conversations with me to want to run with me too. I think they’re too worried that I’ll think they’re slow or don’t run far enough. I have easy runs too!

This all being said, I mainly wanted to use this post to remind the blogging-world that I am still running, even if I’m not updating everyday.

Last week I covered 47 miles. It’s a bit of a jump from the 43 before that, but I’m going to try and be more careful this week. I don’t want to injure myself, especially since I just was accepted in the soccer club in my area. :-) It’s a legitimate German soccer club too, so we’ll see how my career takes off from here! (just kidding).

One of the nice runs this past week was when I listened to my “Runner’s World” calendar (a gag-gift for my birthday earlier this year) and took a “path less-traveled.” The tip for Sunday was to not always run the same routes, but allow oneself to take a left instead of a right once in a while. Since yesterday was supposed to be “easy” (there was soccer practice in the evening), I didn’t want to go down a certain hill to have to run up it again, so I just drifted. By drifting, I discovered a fairly large park near my place (and someplace that had been alluded to by a fellow student in my dorm) that I may return to more frequently when I don’t want to run on the Elbe.

This picture is better lit than the one I would have taken at the time I ran yesterday (days are shorter here than in Florida and the light wasn’t up when I ran through the park).

I still like my run on the Elbe though, and return to that most frequently.

Today was also my first

Day, This means in “Hamburger” the kind of weather than no sane person would want to go run in, and honestly, I did feel a bit insane running in it. But I really enjoyed the hot shower afterward, and I got a good tempo run in (partly cold-induced), so it was worth it.

Hope you are having a good week.

Staking my Territory: Hamburg is mine

Today, I laid claim to the city of Hamburg. Every part of the city that runs along the Elbe from Blankensee to unfinished Elbphilharmonie that is.

The Elbphilharmonie… still about five years away from being finished. Also, another stolen picture. I need to figure out a way to bring a camera along on my runs.

Remember how I found a route that leads from my place to the Elbe River? Well, today I decided to run along that river for at least five miles. This took me from almost-suburbs of Hamburg all the way to the heart of its former trade halls and harbor.

I saw more of Hamburg than one of those silly bus tours would have shown me, and I covered the distance in good time too; not to mention, this was all free!

Hamburg long run

The highlights of this tour: Fisher Harbor, Patrician Houses of Altonauer Balkon (the architecture in general here is amazing), the Cruise Center Altona where a huge ship was docked, the famous Altona and St. Pauli Fishmarkets (which were in full swing, since it was Sunday morning after all… too bad I hadn’t brought any money for a fischbroetchen), the U-Boot museum, St. Pauli, part of the Elb-Park, the St. Michaelis Church (need to go in there sometime!), the Krameramtstuben (no idea what they are, but will visit soon), of course, the Elbphilharmie, and then the Landungsbrucken with the Alter Elbtunnel, ferry stop to get to Cuxhaven or Hegoland, and many tourist offices and signs.

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The weather yesterday was gorgeous. And that funny wavy looking building in the upper right with a crane hanging over it is supposed to be Hamburg’s greatest pride, the Elbphilharmonie (concert hall). It’s fighting with the Stuttgart train station and the Berlin airport for epic fail status.

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View from the Landungsbrueke. This morning I saw a few empty cargo ships, a sail boat, and many, many tourists.

The stretch along the Elbe that didn’t run directly through the city/tourist attractions was filled with runners. On my return trip back on this stretch I came across a lot of runners who were going in the same direction as I was and my competitive self wanted to beat them all, which I did. Miles 11 and 12 were about 7:30 pace, average pace for 12.8 miles was 8:12.

Good half-marathon training, but now I’m tired.

Hope everyone is having a great Sunday!

Classes start tomorrow (finally), so I need to see how my new running schedule will look like.

First Runs in Hamburg

Oh heck. I accidentally didn’t post my ueberlong update of my first runs in Hamburg, but that’s okay since I’m sure it was too long anyway. I’m going to try and give a short version, equally informative.

October update

It’s been a while since I posted, but I did indeed stick to the plan I made at the beginning of September. You can see that my mileage steadily went up, even though I didn’t get a long run in that last week.

I also managed to run the day of my MA oral exam (which I passed, woop!) and the day of my flight. The rest of that week was a much more decreased mileage than planned… mostly due to lack of time, energy, or willpower.

However, my first full week in Hamburg, I managed to stick to my plan and have been running every day. At first, it was therapeutically necessary because I was feeling disorientated and running is usually the quickest way to make me feel better. It was a sort of wasted effort until Wednesday when I tried to meet up with a local running group, failed, and ended up finding the Elbe river

I stole this image off Bilderbuch-Hamburg.de, but I’ll get my own photo soon

Something about seeing the church across on the other bank, the cargo cranes, the dark blue of the flowing water made something click inside of me for the first time since arriving in Hamburg. Something about the fact that this route would allow me to run along the river without interference from cars, traffic lights or people made me feel good for the first time in over a week. I realized two things

1) It’s amazing how much the prospects of a good running route can change how one feels about a certain location

2) running really is a drug

and (ha ha, I meant three things)

3) serendipity really must be a thing. I only found this route by total chance and probably would not have found it if the running group had been there.

So anyway, I’ve run that route twice now and I’ll run it again today.

I also discovered another website for the running group informing me that I missed the group by 15 minutes and that they also run on Sundays, so I contacted the contact person and am waiting to hear if I’ll have company for a long run on Sunday.

Finally, I bought myself a pair of running shoes yesterday since I didn’t have a chance to buy some before I left for Germany and I really need some…plantar fasciitis is a serious pain and has been ruining the first miles of my runs. I determined shoes are way more expensive here (120 Euro for a pair of ASICS on sale?) so I’ll buy a second pair back in the States when I return home for Christmas… [true story: the sale guy was telling me all these things about running shoes and the sport of running that I already knew, and then it turned out he’s actually more of a basketball player. But, his advice to have two pairs of shoes (or three) to alternate is good… I just can’t afford that right now]

That’s it for this post! Was it still too long? Hope not.

To those of you racing this weekend, have a good one! To all others, happy training.

“Cold” Weather Running

So, I’ve only been in Hamburg for a week. Nevermind the fact that it feels like I’ve been here ages and haven’t seen sunny south Florida in over a year, but I really haven’t had that much experience running in Hamburg weather.

That being said, I learned a few things already that I’d like to note for future reference:

1) It’s possible to run in 15 degrees Celsius/59 degrees Fahrenheit in shorts and t-shirt. Since where I’m from, 59 degrees is a cold day, I thought I needed to wear long sleeves and pants to run. Nope;

2) Warm running clothes are becoming more and more fancy with tights that seal around the ankles and thermodynamic capabilities… but when it comes down to it, if it’s cold, anything that’s allowed to get sweaty will do.

My two notes for today! I’m sure I’m about to face a lot colder weather soon, so I’ll likely have some incredible (for me) updates that may bore most of you half to tears. :-) That’s okay.