October 23, 2017

Exploring Dubrovnik, Croatia

When we decided to go to Croatia, I knew I wanted to start our trip in Dubrovnik. I wanted to be on the water and see Mediterranean Croatia. If you missed my last post on Croatia, you'll see that it wasn't quite what I expected but that doesn't mean I didn't love our time there.

We originally planned for two nights in Dubrovnik but our plans got derailed when we missed our connecting flight from Munich. I have another post on this planned for another day but Airbnb doesn't have the most flexible policies so we had no option to change our travel plans, which was really disappointing.

Our flight landed at 4 pm and we had booked a 6 pm food tour so we were definitely in a time crunch! We deplaned, got our bags, and took a taxi to where we were staying. We checked in, freshened up, and ran to Old Town to catch our tour! I went on my first food tour in Paris on our honeymoon and since then, food tours are my absolute favorite way to explore a city!

We booked the Old Town Food Tour with Dubrovnik Food Tours, which was a great experience! Our guide, Hamo, was born and raised in Dubrovnik but spent some time living in the U.S. We started with wine, cheese, and prosciutto at a fantastic little wine bar right in the Old Town.

We sat down for a full Croatian meal at a restaurant, Lucin Kantun, owned by a young couple, and not a single thing on the menu disappointed! We learned about the history of Dubrovnik, namely, how much it has changed since the war (for better and for worse) and I tried so many different foods that I had never had before, like octopus and cuttlefish to name a few!

We ended our evening with a stop at another wine bar, Matusko, and dessert at Pupica Patisserie, which is the only bakery left in Dubrovnik that makes authentic Croatian desserts, none of which disappointed!

Along the way, we explored all different parts of the city and got some great recommendations for restaurants and shops to check out while we were there.

When we woke up the next morning, I was excited to really get to dive into the city. I love starting a trip off with a food tour, usually within the first day or two, but I also like having some time on my own to explore beforehand!

This was the view we woke up to from our Airbnb.

We started our only full day in Dubrovnik back in Old Town to walk the walls! Dubrovnik is an old fort city and walking the walls is an absolute must! I recommend going early, we were one of the first people there and by the time we finished, it really started to get crowded! From the walls, not only do you get incredible views of the sea, but you can see all of Old Town while channeling your inner medieval sentry!

When we finished walking the walls, we took a ferry to Lokrum Island, which everyone had told us was worth seeing. The ferry ride was short but was definitely beautiful but once we got to the Island, I didn't really understand why it was so highly recommended.

There were a few restaurants, all of which were wildly overpriced, and the places where you could get to the water weren't exactly easy to access, especially the beach. We spent maybe an hour on the island before heading back to Old Town for lunch.

This was one of the beaches on Lokrum
I mentioned this in my last post, but I was really surprised that the food in Croatia was so different than in Bosnia! So when we found a Bosnian restaurant (ironically called Taj Mahal), we opted to go there so I could get my fix of one of my favorite cuisines!

After lunch, we wandered the city for a bit, exploring all of the (literal) ups and downs of the alleyways and side streets before heading to the War Photo Limited.

War Photo Unlimited is a photo gallery that chronicles the war in the Balkans in the 90s, which I really wanted to see and highly recommend. When I was in graduate school, I went to Bosnia and Serbia on a trip to understand the aftermath of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. I was disappointed that I missed Croatia on that trip but I thought this museum would give a powerful insight into the Croatian side of the story, which it did. It was heartbreaking but also really informative and very well done. I highly recommend this Exhibit if you're visiting Dubrovnik. I think it's important to learn about a place you're visiting, especially given how recent the conflict in Croatia was and that some of the very buildings we were eating in or visiting, had been burned down during the war. 

It was super hot when we left the museum, so we made a pitstop at Dolce Vita for a repeat of the gelato we had had the night before on our tour. I'm telling you guys - this gelato is the best I've ever had! We took our gelato and headed to the beach.

Banje Beach was just a short stroll from our place but when we got there, it was mobbed and the beach was way too hot and stony to walk on without water shoes! The Pilot and I tried to go into the water which was ice cold. As hot as it was, it didn't even feel good how cold it was! He stayed in for a bit while I sat on a rock for a few minutes and read. When his lips turned blue, we headed back to our place to change for dinner.

For dinner, we went to a place that was highly recommended by some friends who had just left Croatia called Lady PiPi. If you make it to Dubrovnik, I'll leave it to you to find out why it's called that! The restaurant is tiny and only has about a dozen tables so we waited outside for quite a bit before being seated but it was well worth it - for both the views and the mussels!

When we left dinner, it was getting dark out but we headed to Mala Buza for a nightcap. This bar is amazing! It's literally built into the side of the wall and is a series of cliffs looking out onto the water. We listened to the waves crashing, watched the boats going by, and enjoyed a round of drinks before calling it a night!

Sadly, it was our last night in Dubrovnik. I'm disappointed that we were there for such a short time and didn't get the chance to leave the Old Town. While I wish we had been given the extra day we planned for, I still think we made the most of our time there!  

October 16, 2017

Annapolis Half-Marathon Training: On Making Time to Run

At my last job, I used to be wildly creative about how to get my workouts in during the day. I would often run the 7 miles to or from my office or get in 4-5 miles at lunchtime either outside or on the treadmill. I had a running group with a couple of coworkers and we would get together for 4-6 miles a few afternoons a month to knock out our training miles.

I remember the constant barrage of comments from people asking how on earth I found time to run every day! The answer was short - I didn't find time to run, I made time to run.

That hasn't been the case in the last few months. I've found it really hard to make time to run. Part of it is my work schedule, which is wildly different every day. I carry my laptop to and from work so on the days I do go into the office, I can't run there or back and early mornings have been more of a struggle than ever this last year. 

Over the last two weeks though, I've really tried to make running a priority, making time to run whenever I can, and trying to plan out my running in advance.

I've done pretty well with getting in 4 runs per week. I thought about trying to bring that up to 5 but I usually only do that for a marathon or if I'm aiming for a certain time. I want to run Annapolis to run. I know I'll eventually set at time goal when I get closer (I always do), but for now, I'm just trying to see where things take me and I'm pretty happy with where they've gone. 

My longest run was yesterday - 6 miles at an average pace of 9:18. Considering I couldn't run more 2 miles without stopping just a few weeks ago, this is pretty significant, especially since I didn't feel well yesterday.

I was better at cross-training my first week of training than this past week. I made it to yoga and a barre class. This past week, I didn't do anything. I've felt a cold coming on and opted to rest more than I normally would have so that I could get all of my runs in without wearing myself down. 

This week is Week 3 and it's a relatively normal week. My long run will be 7 or 8 miles and I'd like to get some more cross-training in but I have a few busy nights with some Junior League stuff so we'll see. It's about making time though and that's the plan! 

The good thing is that that 6-mile run really made me feel ready for Annapolis. It's been a long time since I've really trained for a half and I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do next month!

October 3, 2017

Half-Marathon Training

At the peak of my running fitness, I could easily head out and run a half-marathon without much thought. My PR was just under 1:55 and it seemed every time I ran the distance, I could chip away at my previous PR. I went through a stretch where almost every time I ran the distance, I would PR.

I haven't taken the half-marathon distance seriously in almost five years. It's crazy because it doesn't feel that long. When I got injured in 2013, I set my sights on bouncing back to the full marathon. See, I was happy with my 13.1 race time but I was itching to get a sub-4 marathon under my belt. I think my push to get back to the full marathon distance is the reason it took me so long to get back to running and why I kept getting hurt. 

I used to run 2 or 3 half-marathons every time I trained for a full but for a number of reasons, I haven't run any 13.1 races while training for either of my last two full marathons.

This year, I set my sights on a spring marathon and, for a number of reasons, that didn't happen. I haven't run anything since Disney this year (which feels like a lifetime ago) but I'm itching to run a strong race. I know it might not be smart to jump into training for a half when I've run so infrequently this year but I feel like I need that distance to stay focused. I hate the 10k distance and the 5k is too short. I need something to train for that will challenge me and make me feel like I'm back to running.

I've decided on the Annapolis Half-Marathon. It's a course I've never run which is fun, it's close to home, and you get oysters at the finish line. What could be better?

Last week was the first week I consistently ran in a long time. I did two 3-mile runs and two 2-mile runs. I was hoping to get more cross-training in but honestly, I was really tired last week and didn't make it a priority. I definitely want that to change moving forward so my plan for this week is 4 training runs, and one class each of spin, barre, and yoga.  

We'll see how it goes! I'm excited to actually be training for something. It's definitely motivating me to get out the door and run when I'm tempted to lay under a blanket with a book in the mornings!

October 2, 2017

September Recap

Yesterday, I went to my first yoga class in about 2 months. I haven't regularly practiced yoga in awhile and I've missed it but I've also made up a dozen excuses to skip class.

I woke up really early before my alarm, made some coffee and curled up with a book and a blanket before making a quick breakfast and heading out. 

When I got to class, I realized the class was being subbed by an instructor who I had taken a class with before and didn't like. Immediately, I wished I could just go home. Then, as I was settling into the first posture, a guy showed up late and decided to roll out his mat in between the 3-inch space between me and the girl next to me, even though there was plenty of space behind me. I had to move my mat and was super irritated about everything and then as I was settling into my pose, I decided to be open-minded about the class.

This entire year has been so hard. It's been full of exciting things that have all fallen apart, causing disappointment, grief, anxiety, and unbelievable stress. 

I think it's fitting that my experience at yesterday's class fell on October 1. I always love the 1st if the month because of how much opportunity there is, I especially love when it falls on a weekend!

So, with that theme - open-mindedness - I'm walking into October with no hope or expectation with my shoulders a little heavier from this year, and I'm going to try to just be. 

I'm mixing up this post a little bit and talking about the month ahead rather than the month behind, but I'll get to that.

This month, I have a lot of travel planned both personal travel and for work and I hope that all of it gives me the feeling that travel always does, waking me up and shaking me up, and giving me a fresh opportunity to see the world in a different way.

I'll also be training for a half-marathon (more on that later), and scheduling in a lot more yoga because yesterday's class was everything I needed. I hope to read just as much as I did last month, and I hope that I can find some semblance of peace among everything that has been so hard this year.

Here's a look back at how September went:

Miles Run: 29

Books Read: 7 (way more than I've read in any other month this year!)

Blog Posts Written: 3

Trips Taken: 1
  • I spent a week in New Jersey in between weddings in New York and New Jersey and stayed at my mom's.
Highlights: Spending the week at mom's and having her make me coffee and breakfast every morning and getting to spend a day in New York with Carolann!

Lowlights: Peyton needing emergency surgery last week. She'll be ok but she's in a cone and is pretty mopey right now. On top of that, the surgery didn't come cheap.

The Month Ahead: A lot of travel...not all of it is planned yet but I'm looking at a long month of time away.

How did your September shape up?
What are you looking forward to in October?
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