Category Archives: Travel

Running on a Dream

Ciao a tutti!

I’m still hanging tough in good old Sicily, and have recently been out and about in mainland Italy (pictures at the end of this post). Equally as exciting, I began personal and marathon training!

Recap of last week’s travel training:
3 miles easy: Canal-side in Venice – saw different parts of the city and several cruise ships

4.5 hours of hiking from Vernazza to Riomaggiore – one of the most beautiful hikes of my life (and that’s sayin’ something after several memorable beautiful hikes in Ecuador, Glacier National Park, western Washington state and Alaska)

Ran 2 miles HARD of an attempted run in Vernazza – steep inclines seemed to defeat the “easy” nature of this run

7.6 miles easy: Intended to tack on the last mile from the previous run, and instead, got a little carried away in Rome. Started out easy and relaxed as I was leading our travel crew on a run from our airbnb to the Villa Borghese and over to the Tevere. I kept stretching the run another half mile here and there, to accommodate the Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps, and we ended up at 7.6 miles.

Duomo+PLUS run in Acireale.

Something that’s been on my mind is my footwear at work. A recent Runner’s World article addresses the extra foot stress that comes from wearing high heeled shoes:

“One study found that women who regularly wear high heels had calf muscles that were about 12 percent shorter and Achilles tendons that were about 10 percent more rigid than women who regularly wear flat shoes. A different study showed that basic walking mechanics were different (in a bad way) in women who wore heels at least 40 hours a week compared to women who wore heels less than 10 hours a week. Note to men: The heels in this study were only 5 millimeters high, so this might apply to you as well.

What To Do About It: Walk around the house barefoot. As much as possible, wear flat shoes with a toe box that allows your toes to spread. If heels are unavoidable in your profession, do the best you can to minimize the time you spend in time, such as wearing other shoes when commuting. Also be diligent about calf and Achilles flexibility exercises if you have to wear heels for work.”

Although I prefer to wear flats for my foot health, it is fun to wear heels sometimes; and, some days I just want the extra burst of self-confidence that comes along with the additional burst of height. Reading the whole article renews my yearning for a job that balances physical activity with desk work – the article points to long commutes (mine is 35-40 minutes each way) and long hours at the desk with poor posture (guilty) as two other major contributors to running injuries.

I would love to incorporate more motion into my work routine. Already, I am lucky to have two projects for which I collaborate with a colleague down the hall from me. I take advantage of the proximity to trek down the hall for the majority of our work – rather than use the phone or email. This gives me the opportunity to stretch my legs and spend 10-15 minutes standing while we hash out the next detail of our project. I also try to incorporate a stretch session into each work day, a habit I nurtured more religiously during my winter marathon training. I plan to return to this habit. Do any of you have suggestions for ways to incorporate movement into a desk job? Let me know in the comments section!

See you soon…

p.s. A few favorite pics from my recent trip to Venice, Vernazza (in the Cinque Terre),Rome and within Sicily! I traveled with my husband Dave, and his sister MariBeth and her husband Dan. We also had great trips this spring with Michael and Dan – pics below, too!

View from the hiking trail leading away from Vernazza toward Corniglia – you can see the balcony to our apartment rental.
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Venice from the vaporetto (public transportation barge on the canal)
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Venice from the Rialto Bridge
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The Mediterranean Sea from atop the Turkish Steps in Realmonte (near Agrigento)
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Dave, me and Michael – awaiting performance of Antigone
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Scene from Antigone – performed in Italian at open-air Greek amphitheater in Siracusa
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Another view of the amphitheater in Siracusa
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Windmill at the salt flats in Trapani with Dan – we had a whirlwind trip filled with dynamic foods and sights
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We also had world-class arancini (say it “are-on-chee-nee” – this is the plural) at Bar Giageri in Piano Tavola. Here’s a photo of the arancino di pistacchio (arancino is singular). Dan declared this arancino his favorite Sicilian food of the trip – risotto wrapped around a pistacchio, cheese and ham filling, lightly battered and fried.
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Ciao!

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Maratona di Roma in my Soul

The Rome Marathon weekend is a little ways behind me, here is the recap.

Due to the conclave at Vatican City, and the timing of the marathon coinciding with St. Patrick’s Day, and an Italy-Ireland rugby game, and myriad other events happening that weekend, Rome was a complete madhouse when we were there. It was great! Dave and I stayed in the Trastevere neighborhood, just across the Tiber River (tras = across, and “tevere” is the Tiber) from Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus). We had easy access to the start and finish of the race, which are based at the Colosseo (The Colosseum).

We arrived on Friday and dined at one of several cute and well-regarded restaurants in our neighborhood, Taverna Trilussa.
Dave Taverna Trilussa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my all-time favorite Italian pasta dishes is Bucatini all’Amatriciana, and lucky for me, it is a Roman specialty. Bucatini is the name of the pasta, which is a dried pasta along the lines of a thick spaghetti that is hollow like a straw. The Amatriciana sauce is made of tomatoes, guanciale (a fatty bacon made of cured pork cheek) and pecorino cheese; I prefer versions that also include garlic and onion, which I saw in the three versions I have eaten in Rome. The dish does not need much cheese though, so if you try it and you are usually a cheese-heavy person, I recommend taking several bites before asking your server to add more cheese. Adding some spice with red or black pepper spices is also common and is the best way that I have enjoyed bucatini all’Amatriciana.

On the Saturday before race day, Dave and I traced our path from our Trastevere apartment to the race start, and then joined our friends on the trek to marathon village. We registered and got our swag bag, signed the marathon wall, and carbo loaded.
Jill and Dave_Marathon Wall Rome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That night, we met up with other members of Dave’s command for another pasta-rich dinner. We had several experienced marathoners in the group, so we all ate pretty lightly, and enjoyed the camaraderie of sharing our race histories, theories for success, and pre-race jitters.

Race day came quickly enough and we set off without a hitch. About 16,000 runners, walkers, and wheelchair/hand-bikers participated in the race, and you can imagine the porta-potty lines! It was a wonderful atmosphere, and as total amateurs, we were deep in the pack of the final group to launch. We crossed the start line about 10-minutes after the gun start, and with the beeeeeeeeeep of our chips engaging, our Maratona di Roma start was official!

Dave hung in with me for the first 5k and then headed out with a bit more speed. My body was dragging, and I settled into making my goal of running the entire first half. I made it to the halfway point with my wits about me, took several walk breaks to accept that my time was going to be pretty far off my personal best, and then re-engaged with vigor. As I got rolling into the second half, I faced many of the demons that plagued me during races when I was more strongly positioned to perform – panic attacks, sudden surges of emotion, and balancing the pain and anger I felt as the race progressed. Dave coined this stage “painger” and you know when you’ve entered the zone because you transition from thinking “Thanks crowd” to “F**K off, and stop smoking in the street!”

I practiced some coping strategies and though my time was a half hour longer than my Lago di Garda marathon, I feel like I learned lessons that will carry forward into my physical, spiritual and professional life.

We re-connected after the race, showered and scavenged our neighborhood for food. Luckily, we were right by a bread shop/pizzeria La Renella, and we quickly had bellies-ful of freshly made pizza. Our apartment was equipped with entertainment features, so we watched Ghostbusters and settled into our post-race stupors.

As I reflect on my third marathon in six months, I find myself asking more questions than anything else. How did I maintain mental focus? What am I running after? How will I know when I really come to my physical capacity edge? What is next? Some of these musings lead to deeper philosophical questions, like how much more do I have to give? And, from what springs my desire to find my edge?

From among bloggers I follow, I found this article to be an interesting entry into seeing how other exercise enthusiasts are trying to answer these questions in more urban settings: Is this a rave or a race? Intriguing fitness trends.

All in all, the marathon is a wonderful event and Rome definitely puts on a great show. We tracked along the Tiber River for much of the race, and passed so many notable piazzas and historic sites that I cannot begin to mention them all here. Noteworthy to my Roman soul were running through Piazza Navona, around the neighborhood where we stayed with my parents in October, and running past the Trevi fountain and throwing my coin from the race route. Finally, at the end, we received lovely medals, which I wore all night.

Rome Medals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ciao a Roma, and Ciao to you!

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Three coins in the fountain

Roma Maratona 2013

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Source.

Loyal followers may have noted my prolonged silence – I was busy, just like you! I’m trying to look forward and forget about my desire to catch you up on my recent adventures. There will be time for all that later. This weekend, I am heading to Rome to run past several historic monuments, to feel the Catholic vibe (the run is the same day as Pope Francis’s enthronement), and to spin my legs for fun!

This is the third coin I’m throwing into the marathon fountain here in Italy, which brings to mind a lovely song for the movie “Three Coins in The Fountain.” I saw this film when I was on the plane to Rome, with my great friend Ashley, who re-shaped my plans to spend a month in Paris and instead nurtured my long-standing love for Italy. We made it to Paris, but not before Rome and the rest of Italy stole my heart. I always get a bit nostalgic when I think of the Trevi Fountain and this song. I am looking forward to running past it on Sunday and yes, I’ll probably shed a tear!

Enjoy!
(Song starts around the 1:00 minute mark)

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Siracusa & Ortygia

In early November, my cousin Maddie and her friend Lindsay visited us in Sicily. I took advantage of the opportunity to revisit ruins in Siracusa and to circumnavigate Ortygia. We had a gorgeous and sunny afternoon, tempered by a roaring wind that ushered in evening on Ortygia.

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The view of limestone cliffs from the archaeological site on the northwest side of Siracusa.

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Ruins of a Roman ampitheater are behind us.

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Entering the Orecchio di Dionysius – the “ear” of Dionysius. Named for the Greek tyrant Dionysius who ruled Siracusa for a time. Apparently, he was a nasty ruler.

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Lindsay and Maddie

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The view atop the Greek theater at the same Siracusa archaeological site. Breathtaking! This theater is still used for special events, such as the Greek Theater Festival running from mid-May to the end of June. I hope to get to a performance this year!

The 2013 season, the 49th Cycle of Classical Plays, runs from 11th May – 23th June and will feature the following plays:

– Oedipus by Sophocles

– Antigone by Sophocles

– Assemblywomen by Aristophanes

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A kayak water polo match in the canal between Siracusa and Ortygia

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Ortygia by dusk

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Ortygia, November 2012

The proximity of this Sicilian gem means I will get to revisit these sites time and again. Will you be joining me next time?

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Thankful for Brugge

The thankful feelings I grow at Thanksgiving time are meant to inspire thankfulness throughout the year. I often approach my problems or worries by searching for the silver lining (actual happy moment in the fray), or seeking out my red ribbon (the way the calamity is interwoven in my life and will become a part of who I am), or at least a lesson I can learn. That is how I bring grace to my life.

With such an approach, it is pleasantly simple to return home from a trip full of quaint anecdotes and cheerful memories. After spending my Thanksgiving holiday in Brugge, Belgium (Bruges to English speakers), I can safely say that my grace saving techniques went unused. Even a grumpy mc-grumperson couldn’t help but be charmed by Brugge.

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Scenic canals like this run along the edges of the center and twist into back alleys where adorable boutique hotels with secluded dining rooms await you. Romance is lurking in every tidy storefront, cafe, and apartment facade adorned with charming window box arrangements.

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Our favorite cafe was Cafè Rose Red. Dave found it on Trip Advisor and the reviews were spot on. Friendly service, 150 beer selection, great crowd, and bewitching setting, especially after a few swigs of a strong Belgian brew.

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Cafè Red Rose
Belgium 2012

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Mmmmmmm…beer!

And, I didn’t even get photos of the amazing chocolates or ubiquitous mussels and frites and baked goat cheese and honey salads.

Merci beaucoup, Brugge!

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Beach report: Isola Bella

Isola Bella is a delightful most-of-the-time island at the foot of the hill that leads up to Sicily’s famous tourist trap destination, Taormina.

I was at Isola Bella on the 5th of November this year! My cousin Maddie was visiting with her darling friend Lindsay. This was on the tail end of my parents’ visit, and they even overlapped a little bit in Rome. You can see Lindsay and Maddie chatting in photos in this post.

In Sicily, Maddie and Lindsay had enjoyed mid-upper 70s at the height of the afternoon warmth for several days. On the 5th, we decided to test our luck by planning a beach day. It never warmed enough for full sea immersion, but we did relax on the pebble beach and shared a few laughs. What more could a simple woman ask for?


-Photo by Lindsay Boggs via Instagram
Isola Bella
Sicily 2012

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What’s a little rain when you’ve just completed a marathon?

90% chance of rain all day. I am 100% glad it is raining like this the day-After the marathon.

Making the most of the day wandering around town with my Frankensteinesque gait. Will give the full marathon report later this week when I have full Internet & computer access.

For now, know that it went really well, I am really sore and I had a exquisite celebratory dinner with Monica, Mark, Sandy and Jim in Marona di Valpolicella.

I am off to enjoy more views like this:

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Limone sul Garda, Italia
October 2012

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