Training in a new place is exciting, but it takes preparation. Here's what I learned about exploring new running routes during my trip to Germany.
I live in the heart of midtown Manhattan, only four blocks away from the most beloved running sanctuary in the world, Central Park. I’ve done about 95% of my NYC Marathon training in this runner’s paradise. Ok, maybe I am being biased but there are always clean accessible drinking fountains, spotless toilet paper filled bathrooms, and a scenic route–all at no cost! I’d say it’s pretty convenient to have all those amenities when you run.
The bittersweet fact is that I had a lovely opportunity to travel with my fiance to Europe. I thought this would be a fabulous opportunity for blog writing. Normally when I do a run in a different country, I don’t usually run more than 6 miles. I would have to tackle my last long run of 22 miles/ 35 km for the NYC Marathon on this trip. I began having anxiety. I don’t like to carry anything with me while I run. I always wear shorts that I can stuff my power bar gels in.
Prior to our visit, I began my research on running in Frankfurt and found that running along the Rhein River would be perfectly fitting for 22 miles. Upon arriving in Frankfurt I did the biggest no-no and instead of taking a micro nap, I slept for hours; completely throwing off my ability to adjust to the time zone. The next day I went to scope out part of the Rhein River running route to find that there were no clean toilets or free drinking fountains. Only kiosks where you have to buy the water and one port-a-potty. I even got rained on. I knew this wasn’t going to be pleasant.
The night before my run I once again analyzed Google maps. The next morning I felt horribly congested and unusually exhausted. Why is this happening to me?! Still jet lagged, I was sick and slept the day away. The next day I woke up I wasn’t 100%, but I knew I needed to lace up my sneakers and hit the pavement. This run was crucial and I couldn’t procrastinate anymore. It’s funny how we can really psych ourselves mentally and it effects our bodies physically. Just get your shoes on and get out the door!
A 50 degree day, the sun was dodging in and out of the clouds. 4 miles in and my lungs quickly embraced the crispy fall air. I looked at my watch, 7:45 pace. Whoa girl, slow down! You’re feeling good but you got a ways to go. At this point the pavement turned into the most beautiful running trail. I was all alone, at peace along the water. At that very moment the heavens opened up and the sun shined right on me! I felt God smiling down on me. Everything was going to be ok, until I needed water.
Folks, I was 7 miles out in the middle of the country. The only store in sight was a version of Auto Zone. I bolted in and my eyes lit up with delight when I saw they had a cooler with H2O, but to my dismay not one of those bottles contained still water. They were all sparkling gas bombs-Lord knows I hate carbonated water! I was enraged and with no other option I gave the clerk a euro and out the door I went. Opened up my hatch and slammed that stuff down my throat. 14 miles in, and once again water was my issue. This time I saw a small cafe. I went in gasping for air and politely asked, “water with no gas please.” You would have thought I had two heads because the barista said, “Sorry we don’t have water with no gas.” Yeah, now my head was spinning like Linda Blair from the Exorcist. I wanted to kick and scream and represent America in true form. I didn’t have time to waste. I handed the man the cash, took the bottle and ran out the door. I completed my 22 miles that day in 3:01. Not too bad with all those speed bumps. Lastly, I should mention I only saw one port-o-potty, and that was at the beginning of my run. Leaving me no choice, I released my bodily fluids somewhere in the woods.
- Research where you want to run.
- Bring cash just in case you just never know what might happen. You may need to buy water, or you may get lost and need to take a cab home.
- Beware of the water! Fizzy or gas as they call it in Europe vs. flat, still, or no gas
- Toilets may not be available so bring some tissue along. In Germany, the port-o-potty is referred to as a Blue Dixi Box. I did see only one of those near the route.
- Be aware of bikes, construction etc. I find that Europeans bike a lot more than Americans so be aware of your surroundings and keep your music down to a level that you can hear what is going on around you.
What are some of your favorite new places to race?