So far, I have run in three countries. I must say, I am rather proud of myself for getting up and getting at it so often. I figured I would be the only one exercising, so I looked at the workout rooms ahead of time, believing I would be on the treadmill for three weeks. Boy was I wrong. I have yet to work out in a gym; rather, I have found people who love running as much as I do.
As much as I liked running in Israel, it was hot and hilly. Germany was nice, but I have truly enjoyed running in Poland. The morning weather has been around 50 degrees and the streets seem to go on forever. I am appreciating my Garmin more and more. It is so nice to know the distance and pace of each run, especially when running in totally random places.
While I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring in the wee-hours of the morning while most people are sleeping, I am ready to be home. There is something to be said about knowing where I am going, approximately how far the distance is, and that I am safe (I will not run by myself). Literally, I have been running on 5-6 hours of sleep each night, which is far less than I need to function at home.
My reasons for running have been reaffirmed during my trip. There were a few days of traveling that I did not get up and run, and I was jittery, antsy, and just annoyed more easily. Running has helped me relax (maybe a little too much. I find my eyes drooping in the early afternoon). I have also come to view exercise in general as vital to a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. I consider myself in pretty good shape, and so I move around quite easily. Stairs do not pose a problem, and I can walk for extended periods of time. That is required for a trip like this, but there are a number of people on this trip who struggle by the end of the day. I am grateful that running is enjoyable.
There is a woman on this trip who used to do gymnastics and run, even setting a state record in high school in the 1500 meter run. She is now severely overweight, and she said that she had accomplished what she wanted in high school, moved on, and has not exercised since. Her experience made me think about all of those athletes in high school who put their whole selves into a sport and then get burnt out, only to become sedentary later in life. While I was by no means fast in high school, I went out for cross-country in track because I enjoyed it (for the most part). Somehow, that has stuck with me, and I believe that's what we need to get across to people. I am not running to set any records or even compete against other people. I run because it keeps me healthy, and if I get a PR, great. I guess I want to encourage people more to just get out there an do something.
Side note: I truly thought I would lose weight on this trip because I didn't think I would enjoy any of the food. Wrong! There has been bread galore, and I have taken to making a few cheese sandwiches and sneaking them out of the breakfast area for late-afternoon snacks. Fish has been served a few times for dinner. In Israel we primarily had buffet style meals, but in Germany and Poland, most dinners are three-course meals. A few nights ago I had some delectable split-pea soup followed by chicken and mashed potatoes, and then a brownie. Last night we went to a local restaurant and had a grilled chicken salad, salmon, and then chocolate mousse. Tonight was mushroom-potato soup, turkey with cheese dumplings and cranberries, and then ice cream topped with pears and chocolate syrup. Like I said, I have not gone hungry. As a matter of fact, I would not be surprised if I gained weight!
Yesterday was the day when everything caught up to me. My body was exhausted and I just really wanted to go home. I'm a little better today (my friend Monnie and I went for a swim this afternoon followed by some time in the sauna), but I really am ready to be home. I am now counting the days and checking my flights home.
Sorry I don't have pictures. The internet at the hotel is uber-slow...