Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Black Bear Running in Italy (Part II)

Continuing on...I was able to run probably 3 x per week, I found a little route near the hotel - it was a little confusing the first few times because the street names are nothing like "Main" or "Second" and more like "Via Symposia Gardlianiase" or Via Dei Mille." After a week, I felt like I knew the city layout really well so I was able to run in different places. Unfortunately, my Garmin GPS got wiped out on the plane ride, so I don't have any data to show where I ran. Delta Airlines I hate you.

The weather was pretty good for the first week. High 70s and sunny.

This would change as soon as the weekend arrived and I went to
Milan click here for Milan info which is about 1 hour 45 minutes North of Bologna and a very wealthy city. I took the speed train, which was nice, there's a little dining car. Anyway, I was supposed to meet another student there, but I took the bus the wrong direction, got lost to the train station and ended up on a different train, so I walked around Milan in the pouring rain. Milan is really pretty and so different architecturally from other cities.

Even the train station in Milan is gorgeous.

I couldn't afford to buy anything in Milan because the dollar is just so weak, even McDonald's is about $10 for a meal.

I tooled around Milan and went to Florence the next day which was a Sunday (and an Italian Holiday weekend)...

click here for Florence info

So, yes, Italy is big on Food and Churches...
We went up into the Cupola which is like a bell tower next to the Duomo...The Duomo is the big dome on the left (This shot is taken from the cupola). I can't describe how incredible the view is.

Here's a picture of me infront of the Baptistry Doors - these are bronze doors by Ghiberti

It rained. A lot. Here's a picture from a pretty intense hailstorm that came through in the afternoon in Florence.

I felt pretty safe, given all the churches around though it was a pretty big storm even by Michigan standards. God was bowling, but had no intents on striking the Duomo. Fortunato,(heh heh slipping in some Italian I picked up....I'll tell a little story about why I know what Fortunato means later....) I was stuck for 2 hours during the hailstorm, with Olivia (one of my travel buddies) in a shoe store in Florence. I ended up trying on about 20 pairs of shoes and got these cool ones for 25Euro ($40)

So, we ran into some other school friends in Florence who told us if we didn't have a return trip to Bologna, we should go get one because they were all sold out until midnight. Sure enough, we ran over to the train station, and ended up on the last train out with all our friends - packed like sardines in a aisleway of the hottest train you can ever imagine but I'll get back to that ....

So after we got our tickets we headed back into the city but again the skies opened up again, so we were forced into a restaurant for cheese and wine while the storm subsided....

And it rained and rained, so we ate and drank more...

and got back for the late train with all our friends and waited an hour because it was delayed, then we got on like sardines standing in the aisleways on the stuffiest hottest train ever and it moved about 20 feet and then....sat there for another hour. Italy is not well-known for it's trains, and for good reason. They are the same trains that Mussolini himself built 60 years ago, I am certain. They ought to have hanged him for the trains alone. Toilets and Trains. Suck. Got back to Bologna at like 2:00 a.m.

Sometime that week I went to Pisa. It's about 2 hours west of Bologna by train so was able to go after class (which ended at noon). I went with a schoolmate Candice and we were both aware that it might be a big hokey Disney type touristy thing (like some tower standing in the middle of a park surrounded by vendors selling t-shirts). Instead, we got off the train, walked like madmen to the 2 miles or so to the tower so as to get back intime for our return train and stumbled on the coolest sight ever. DEFINITELY worth it. Had to do a lot of running to get up the tower because they only let a certain number of people up every 30 minutes (wondering now why it isn't the weight of the people they are concerned about but the number...like is it going to fall?). Anyway, it was pretty cool. So far, every sight I'd seen in Italy was even better than the last one.

Here's me eating on the train on the way back. Nice dining car. Nice airconditioning. This train was built by Capitalists. Three cheers for Capitalism and no sweating!!!!

It rained all week, we went on a wine tour at Cesari Vineyards click here for Cesari vineyards info which was pretty nice.

Then I went on Saturday to Venice on Saturday again with Olivia who is a sculpture artist. It was still raining since the prior Saturday, but whatever, you can't stop touring. We got to Venice and breezed through San Marco Square in the rain, and decided to take the water taxi to Murano (an island off Venice where they make hand-blown glass). Olivia is an artist and she and another guy on our trip who had been there said it was a 'must-see.' Apparently, they aren't giving tours anymore because the Chinese are taking pictures and copying the designs and manufacturing. I'm not sure if this is true or not, but it's the story everyone tells.

Anyway, it becomes really sunny out and beautiful and we go into a small glass store and there's one guy behind the counter. Long story, but the guy finds out we are from America and specifically that Olivia's from Los Angeles and he loves Los Angeles. He doesn't speak any English, but somehow he starts saying "fabricca" and points to his wedding ring and says, "wife", "5 minutes", "fabricca" "fortunato" "fortunato" and is making all kinds of hand motions. So out of this, Olivia deciphers, "Oh, he wants to take us on a tour of the glass factory." Meanwhile, I am thinking, "No, I think he is telling us that his wife is going to meet us all at the fabric store, and then they will proceed to kill us." So, we go, and sure enough we get a private tour of the factory, which was AWESOME!!!! Turns out Fabricca means "factory" not "fabric store" and we were fortunato to see it.... And Olivia makes some glass...

I am so glad I didn't try because I wouldn't have known that you can't suck in or your lungs will explode with glass. We saw a designer showroom of $20,000 chandeliers. Unreal.

Water taxi back to San Marco (the big square in Venice)...this is where I saw Rich Rod....I'll only post one picture of San Marco because it's just so unbelievable, a picture doesn't show anything.

On Sunday, Anna and I went to Ravenna and met our pal Don there. click here for Ravenna info This is when I realized that if you ever go to another country it is a much better trip when you know what you are looking at (duh) and especially if you are with someone who speaks Italian. Because we got a complete guided tour of Ravenna and the whole historical background on the Eastern Empire and Western Empire. I would've never even thought of going to a place like Ravenna if not for a side comment from one of our professors "if you want to see some pretty impressive mosaics, go to Ravenna..."

So we get in this church that looks pretty old on the outside, called Basilica San Vitale, and here is the inside....these are all little tiny 1/2 inch mosaic tiles....

I'm skipping the story about how Eli and I and a frenchwoman got trapped on a train in Ferrara, because the doors wouldn't open at our stop.

Later that week a group of us went to lunch at a place in Modena (about 30 minutes north of Bologna) called click here for La Hosteria Giusti info and pics Modena is the birthplace of Balsamic Vinegar). It turns out that this restaurant is the oldest deli in the world and only seats 15 people and dinner reservations are sold out through October. But, we got in for lunch! After sprinting 20 minutes to catch the train and sitting on the hot car, I had perhaps the best meal of my life. Ever.

These are puffy gnocchi (like a puffed pastry) with proscuito and salami and the white topping on the one is the fat from proscuitto on the top. Yumma!!!

This is duck with noodles.

Here's some gelato drizzled with 35 year old balsamic vinagrette.

Now I'm hungry.

After my final, I went to Riccionne which is a beach city on the Riviera (Adriatic Sea) click here for Riccionne info . It was gorgeous and relaxing. A nice way to end the trip, I thought.

Well, actually a nice way to end the trip was getting a stupid 5 Euro fine (about $8) because the first two normal train ticket machines were broken at the station and we had to buy some ticket from a machine from 1920 and then we didn't validate it because it didn't say you had to. Anyway, typical.

By then, I was just DYING TO GET HOME. So I got to the airport about 4 hours before my flight to make sure I didn't miss it. :)

Italy is just plain unbelievable to visit, but I am very thankful to live in the U.S.

P.S. I have about 280 other pictures and stories but I will spare the boredom for Jim. :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday's Trail Run

I ran Sunday with some fasties on this trail. This is the third time in my life I've actually run on a trail (besides the BlackBear Race which is more of a sandy trail). Today the arches of my feet hurt. I think from running on rocks, and my ankles are all 'twisty.' But, probably tomorrow will be back to normal. If I can stop the bleeding from the inside of my ankles getting clipped by the opposite shoe. LOL

Had a great time, slowed the fasties down, but they needed to see how the other half lives.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

BlackBear at Cleveland

This has been me (above) since the Philadelphia Marathon in November. Immediately after Philly, I signed up for the Cleveland Marathon to seek some retribution. I didn't know I'd be off so long for knee injury, so I switched to the half, and even then knowing I'd be running a half, I was basically Black Bear Eating and Black Bear Goofing Off.

So today was the day of reckoning: I went in feeling pretty undertrained, having run just a couple of 10 milers in the last few months and very sporadically otherwise. Last year, I ran this in 1:54 and definitely had some gas in the tank that day, because I DNF'd the full at the halfway point - so really I think I could've been around 1:52ish. Coulda Shoulda Woulda.

I started out kinda slow and felt really sluggish. I went out to dinner Saturday night with an imaginary friend, Connie, who lives in Cleveland. I felt so sluggish the first few miles, I couldn't believe it. Maybe it was the rueben with coleslaw and the fries and 2 beers. :-0 My garmin wouldn't pick up a satellite for several minutes which is why it only shows at 12.9 miles instead of 13.1.

At the 5 mile point, I looked at my watch and saw I was looking at way over 2:00. So, I just stopped looking at my watch-lah lah lah lah. Amazingly, I started feeling better - I think after I had 4 waters at one stop. Cleveland, even though there's this giant lake right there is deceivingly hilly (freeway overpasses -long long uphill pulls so annoying they never end) and why it decides to be windy today of all days.

Split Time Avg HR
1 11:22 152
2 09:15 153
3 09:15 153
4 08:48 158
5 08:54 157
6 09:04 158
7 08:37 161
8 08:44 162 - This is where the hills really start. Strangely, I felt like I was really slow in here.
9 09:01 165 This is where I thought, I'm going to finish.
10 08:16 167 This is where I thought (about 25 seconds later), I'm NOT going to finish.
11 09:03 170
12 08:42 169
13 07:24 173 I am shocked at this split, my legs felt like cement.
Summary 1:56 161 (avg)

So, I came in 26/219 division, and 1310/4614 overall. yep yep, that and a dime gets you nothing.

Here's a little map of the route and if you click on the little "show details" in the corner, I think it will take you to my fascinating heart rate graphs and pace graphs. LOL.

So, I'm satisfied considering the lame training I've done!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Problem

These are all my shoes from 2008 - today. The ones on the upper left are my 'fast short' shoes. The ones next to those are my $50 deal shoes that I love - they're cushy. And the 5 of the other pairs are old shoes and 1 of the lower ones (on the far right 2nd stair) is a new one.

Don't ask me how I know which shoes are which out of the bottom 5 or 6. I want to donate the bottom 5 pairs, but I am have this hoarding mentality about running shoes lately.

I painted the house in the orange shoes on the 2nd shelf, and only got 1 drop of white ceiling paint on them. I use the neon green ones to bike, and out casually.

It appears I will do anything to not study...like catalogue shoes.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Well, I'm still working on getting my knee better so I did the elliptical machine. I had no idea how to use this thing when I used to have a club membership last year so I could never get my heart rate up enough to get a good workout in.

It turns out you have to adjust the stride length. Duh. Also, they told me that if you increase the resistance that it will be harder, but I just found that it was the opposite, you have to decrease the resistance to make the pedals move faster. So anyway, here is my HR graph from elliptical from some interval sessions - where the HR drops that is where the resistance is increased, slowing the pedals down. This thing kicked my butt. (Click on the graph to make it bigger)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

NFL Sixty

I started NFL 60 a few weeks ago. Basically, the idea is just to get 60 minutes of activity in every day. I started this because of the cool commercial PLUS when I mapped out how many miles I ran last year...1232, it amounted to about 25 miles per week, or about 4 hours per week. Sure, some weeks I got up to 9 hours, but that was rare. I was kind of floored, since if someone were to ask me, I'd pretty much guarantee I worked out an hour per day average. OOPS. No wonder I've gained a couple pounds. All that easy running, my body probably got efficient along the way and wasn't stressed as much as the mileage accumulated.

So, I did some reading about fat loss the last few weeks and it seems the quickest way is a concerted effort of shutting the hole under the nose + weight lifting + anearobic (hard) intervals. Sooo, since I'm injured and off from running for a few more weeks, I've been biking, incline walking (which is amazingly pretty difficult compared to running) and stair stepping. And LOTS of weight lifting. Soon, I can STAR in the NFL 60 commercials....as T.O.

Here's a picture of my Heart Rate today on bike intervals for an hour today. Get a look at those spikes!!! (click on the graph for a bigger view)

Boring sh/t, I know. But, it's all I got for now.