Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Couple More Pics and Musings

Rukiye, who we work with, took a couple of pictures of us all during the weekend in Istanbul. Below, we're at packet pick-up. Dale's race number was 666. That's right. Good thing he's Muslim and doesn't have to worry about such suspicions!
See the tulips behind us? Such a pretty weekend in the city!

Here's Tim and I going through the starting line a minute back. This is right where Tim began to realize that instead of charging his ipod the night before, the battery was actually run down. He got no tunes for pumpage :-(

And here's me at the finish. See how I'm all by myself? That's hard to do in a race. I prefer people being around--I feel like it makes me go faster. And here's a goal for me: one day, I want my finish shot to have my actual time over my head. In other words, I want to be close enough (fast enough) to the start that my finish time is the official time. Somehow, 1:56 does not look as cool as I imagine 1:55 would have.

The marathon is coming up in October. I think I should try to run it. I mean, it's that horrible race where you have to stand around in the rain and the aid stations are just water. But as far as I can tell, it's the only game in town. Perhaps we could travel to one, if it's nearby, say, in Bulgaria or Romania in August. Too bad there are no trail marathons or 50ks to speak of. Because there are plenty of trails and mountains and national parks--perfect settings for such events. The World Mountain Running championships were even held here 2 or 3 years ago. But nothing else like that is going on. Oh, what to do? I need a new goal....

Monday, April 26, 2010

Golden Horn Half Marathon in Istanbul

We spent the past weekend in Istanbul for the Golden Horn half marathon and had a fantastic time! We (finally) stayed in a hotel we were happy with, found an awesome Cuban bar and danced salsa and merengue till 2:00 am, and had an interesting cultural experience at the modern art museum. The tulips were in full bloom and the weather was perfect.

Part of the great experience was the race. Our last race in Istanbul was pretty miserable. I felt good and had a good race that day, but all the odds were certainly stacked against me! You can read about that day here. On Sunday, all was working for me, and again, I had a great race.

There were probably only about 600 runners, so the start was not so crowded and we were only a minute back from the start line. The race finished and ended in the same spot, so there was no throwing drop bags in buses and shoving a thousand people at the end to get your bag from the one volunteer on the bus. Drop bags were arranged around a conference center. Perfect. The center had bathrooms and plenty of places to sit and chill out after the run. It was a great start and end location.

The course was beautiful! I thought it would get monotonous on the water, but it was quite scenic and you could look at the boats on the Bosphorous and the fisherman. Plus, it was sunny, there was a light, cold breeze, and the flowers were going off. You couldn't ask for nicer running weather.

Being in shape, certainly, but having not followed any sort of training regimine, I simply wanted to break 2 hours. I kept the music pumping to keep me going and it really helped. I found myself focusing on the song rather than the negative thoughts that creep in when your legs are tired and you're running by yourself. I ended up running a 1:55:06 and was 21 out of 68 women. I was 8th in my age group, but the age group was 15-35--hahahahah. That's my age group?! In Boulder, an age group would only encompass 5 years. But I am in the land where women DO NOT run. There's a lot of princess mentality. My 1/2 marathon PR was in Boulder in 2006, and was a 1:51:something. I'm not far off of that and because so few women run, I will, if possible, actually train well next year. Who knows? Perhaps I could actually place in a race here. It won't happen in Colorado, but Turkey?? It's possible! I felt great after the race. Actually, I felt like I should have been running a lot harder, but I didn't know if I was conditioned enough to sustain a faster pace for that long. But now I know. I learn something about myself every time I'm out there.

People who participated were extremely supportive. I got a lot of "bravos" at the end and people who ran around me and people I passed congratulated me. That was really nice, I thought. It was like we were a little community, all working together to the same goal.

These pictures are from Tim's phone. If I get better ones, I'll post them later. This is us with Dale, who works with us. He wanted it to be 50 degrees and drizzling. I'm sorry you didn't get your wish, Dale, but not too sorry because it was the weather I wanted.

Hammin' it up a bit at the start line. A little comedy goes a long way. I'm holding my headphones in case you're wondering.

I carried a mix of Powerade and water because the aid stations only have water. Bottles of water, in fact. But at least this time there were in half-size bottles and the volunteers turned the tops for us. I also spaced a pack of Clif Shot Blocks across the race and that worked fine for me. I carried an extra pack but didn't end up needed it because we had an actual breakfast.

Most importanly, during and after, and even now: no knee pain. Consider me 100% recovered.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Greece, I love you.

But first, a big fat shout out to my BFF Jessica in Boulder. She just had a baby girl: Ella Jae Johnson and she is so gorgeous and tiny! You can see pics of her on Jessica's blog over there on the right in my blog roll. Congratulations Johnson family!

Back to Spring break--which was AWESOME!!! Half road-trip, one quarter ferries trip, a whole lotta climbing, and some serious scenery by the Med. It was everything I thought it could be and more.

Our plans were to eventually stay several days on the Greek island of Kalymnos, a total world-class climbing mecca, but as it was still off season, and ferries only run three days a week, we didn't need to get down to Bodrum in Southwest Turkey until Monday morning. So we drove, checking out the world on the way.

Our first stop was Izmir, the third largest city in Turkey on the Aegean Sea. Near this town are some of the most famous Roman ruins and the area was incredibly beautiful and fertile. We caught up with some friends and stayed the night.

Now that's how much coffee I'll be having, thank you very much. If only I could lift the cup...

Sunday we left Izmir and headed down south to Bodrum with plans to check out an up-and-coming bouldering destination at Bafa Lake. On the way there, in the middle of nowhere-seriously, middle of nowhere, we found caffeine.

Before you arrive at the little village of Bafa, you drive along the lake for awhile. Tim is impressed. The lake is hu-mongo and GORGEOUS. There are olive groves everywhere.

And all around the lake are tons and tons of rock and boulders. Only a tiny little bit has been developed. Last year, a group of kids from Salt Lake came out and developed a bit and made a movie, Herakleia. Go here to see the trailer and some crazy shots of this crazy place. Herakleia was actually an ancient city and the ruins are almost as impressive as the sheer amount of rock in this gorgeous area.

We didn't actually do any bouldering. All the landings were pretty serious and we didn't have a crash pad yet. Turns out, the only place you can get one is a little store in Izmir--they make them right there. The store was closed while we were there but we did get a pad on the way back home. So....we are well-prepared for our next Lake Bafa trip.

So we continued on our way when all of a sudden, again in the middle of nowhere, we spotted what looked like a Roman temple. So we pulled over.

Sure enough, it's the old city of Euromos (of course). This is what happens in Turkey. There are ruins everywhere. You know, being the cradle of modern civilization and all.

Finally, Sunday evening, we made it down to Bodrum which is a seriously popular vacation spot. Honestly it's pretty similar to the Greek Islands just across the bay. Except for the whole call-to-prayer thing. Okay, there are many more differences. But Bodrum is still charming and beautiful. We stayed the evening and went to catch our ferry the next morning. Our boat was the only one on the dock and while I was out on the deck, checking out the bay, a Navy ship pulled up beside us. Here was my thought process:

--Oh, that looks like a US naval ship.
--Oh, yeah, there's the American flag. Cool.

--Hmm, that's a pretty small boat to come such long way.
--My brother's boat was that small.
--Actually, that looks a lot like my brother's boat.
--I wonder what the name---HOLY SHIT!!

--It IS my brother's boat!!

After much tweaking out and yelling at them, and me acting like a crazy person, we learned there were a couple dudes on board who had worked with my brother when we was serving on the John L. Hall. They told him about it. How cool is that? How small world is that? This is a TINY harbor for an unimportant city. And it's the only other boat on the dock? RANDOM!!

Bye-bye, Alan's former boat.

Actually, I'm really glad he wasn't actually on the boat still. I would have freaked out and then some. Especially if we had not been able to get off our respective boats. I would have been a mess. I love you, Alan!!

And an hour later, we pull into the harbor for the Greek Island of Kos which is a pretty big, popular island for tourists. This was the day after Easter, so besides restaurants, all the business were closed and all the islands' inhabitants were in town hanging out at the cafes. How Euro!

So we joined them. We thought this old guy was cute.

Nice Vespa! --the preferred mode of travel on the islands.

We soon hopped our next ferry for our final destination: Kalymnos. The owner of the apartment we rented picked us up at the harbor and took us to our little home away from home. Kalymnos is a tiny island and the majority of the tourism in the months off of tourist months (June-August) is just climbers from around the world. So there aren't really many hotels. Mostly, there are just apartments that you rent. Ours was quite nice and cost us 25 Euro a night. We also rented a scooter to get around to the climbing areas.

Day One (as in Tuesday), we went first to crag called Summertime:

But we soon realized that the reason why it's called summertime is because it's shady. So you go there in the summer. Duh. It was winter so we moved on somewhere sunny. The crag was called Casteli and it was out on a point that jutted out from the mainland. Here's Tim on some infamous gray limestone slab:

Then it was time for our, okay, we're in another country, let's have some Guinness, Guinness.
We love Guinness. We miss Guinness. Mmmmm.....

The next day we spent at a great crag called the Odyssey. I think. We didn't get a guidebook because they're putting out a new one next month. So we'll buy the new one when we return. So the rest is off the top of my head and my memory is like my Guinness: gone!

There were several great, fun routes there. We also had a nice time talking to folks at the base. There are literally people there from all over the world and everyone speaks English to each other (except the French, of course). This is nice and comfortable for us after struggling with Turkish.

Great shot of the crag from below. But it makes you feel like, while there are TONS of routes here, there seems to be the potential for even more.

Time to hop on the scooter, go home, shower, and go out for some MOUSAKA!!!

Tim enjoying the sunset over the Med on our porch.

We can't leave just yet. There's a little visitor on our scooter.

The islands were totally prime for my favorite game: Spot the kitty. They were everywhere. Even more so than in Istanbul. It was awesome.

Here's an interesting reminder about what to do with your toilet paper:

Our last day climbing, we went to a popular crag called Archi, or Arhi in the book:

This is Tim below his proud send, Thetis--a fun 6b+ that we had to wait in line for.

Alas, way too soon, we had to pack up and leave. Friday afternoon we boarded our ferry back to Kos. In Kos we picked up plenty of bacon and sausages and Tim refrigerated the whole package with giant packs of frozen pita bread. It worked well!

Leaving the port in Kalymnos. So long, paradise.....

We're pretty sure it's going to be crazy hot there this summer. But the trade winds kick up and there's always a breeze and plenty of routes in the shade. We're pretty convinced we'll be spending more time here this summer. Mostly, this was meant to be a re-con mission to figure out if we really wanted to spend a large hunk of time here. The answer is, obviously, a resounding YES!