Saturday, September 17, 2011

Alissa Attempts to Exercise. Encounters Wildlife.

So as many of you know, I can be a bit of an exercise nut.  Mainly, I do triathlons, running races, and competitive stair climbing races.  This summer things kind of fell apart with trying to finish things up at Northwestern (dissertation?  what?) and moving twice (Chicago--> Wilkes-Barre --> Italy) as well as apartment hunting and preparing to move to Italy.  Now that I'm getting settled, I'm ready to get back to training and figure out some races to do.

I started out one day with a nice run along the coast.  I live right by the sea, but unfortunately the part of the sea that is blocked by train tracks and large buildings necessary for a port city.  So I have to run a bit before it gets less industrial and prettier.

So I found the beach!  Well, what Trieste calls the beach.  Here's a picture:

Notice anything missing?

The beaches here don't have sand!  People relax on the concrete and rocks.  I kept running and it didn't change.  Bummer.  But it is still pretty to run by the sea!

The next time I went running I decided to switch it up a bit and tackle some of the hills. Trieste is right on the coast but it shoots up into mountains pretty damn fast (remember my first post about the bus not making it up the hill?).  Chicago is a totally flat city so I figured I should take advantage of the hills (and stairs).  I went running (slooooowly) uphill with inclines up to legs!!!  Surprisingly, running downhill was not as fast.  The roads were twisty-turny and some parts were lacking sidewalks (and not lacking in crazy Italian drivers).  At one point I almost crashed into a cement pillar that popped up out of nowhere.  That could have been unfortunate.  Perhaps I need to wear a helmet while I run?

These are some views of my run...coming from sea level.

The run I did today was meant to be along the coast and flat but I found this crazy steep hill and figured I should try to run up it.

According to my Garmin, the max incline here was 35.8%  Urrrrg!  It wasn't a long hill but look how high up it took me.  These hills will kick my butt back into shape :)

Also, on one of my runs, I stepped on a rat.  A big, dark, city-dwelling rat.  It squeaked and then started running and I (having not noticed it prior to stepping on it) jumped, tried to run away, and ran into a parked Vespa.  Awesome.  I don't have a very good track record with animals on my runs.  Once, in Chicago, I accidentally punted a pigeon who didn't get out of my way.  I don't do these things on purpose, I'm not trying to attack the wildlife.  But any animal who hasn't evolved to get out of the way of the bigger animal who is loudly running towards them probably deserves a good kick.  Sorry PETA :(

I'm also taking advantage of the warm weather to get in some swimming in the Adriatic Sea :)  The weather here has been lovely (actually too hot at times) with highs in the mid to upper 80s.  I went back down to the "beach" to try some open water swimming.  I brought my lovely (but probably unnecessary) PacSafe anti-theft bag.  People here don't seem to have a problem leaving their belongings unattended but I'm a bit protective of my electronics after some hoodlum tried to steal my phone on the train platform one night in Chicago.

Anyway, I get in the water and it's pleasantly good for swimming.

The good:
1) water temperature, warm, not too warm.  I need to find where it's listed around here but I estimate low/mid 70s.
2) salt water buoyancy- it's like wearing a wetsuit!  I didn't have to kick! (I hate kicking)
3) Fishies everywhere!  So many fish were swimming around, especially where there were big rocks underwater.  The fish were bigger, different, and more numerous than in Lake Michigan (little fish, bigger fish, long skinny fish).  This wildlife encounter was much more pleasing than the rat on my run.
4)  In open water swimming, you have to sight something in front of you so you keep going in the correct direction.  This was my sight going north:

Yeah, I was sighting a castle.  Sweeeeet!

The bad:
1) The saltwater tastes gross and made me so thirsty!  I need to work on keeping that out of my mouth.
2) Potential for many more dangerous animals.  Jellyfish.  And sharks.  Everyone here thinks I'm crazy for being afraid of sharks in this part of the sea, but I've watched Shark Week.  Sharks can appear where you least expect them and eat you.  I assume that all shadows in the water are sharks. Sharks who want to eat me.

I wish the beach was a bit closer but I'm planning to get a bike when I manage to save up enough euros which will make it easier to get to (it's ~ 1.5-2 miles away, but there's a bus).

I'm starting to think about races to sign up for now that I'm getting back on track with my training.  Spring marathon, anyone?


  1. When I scuba dive or snorkel I swim with a jolly rancher in my mouth. I don't know how scared you'd be of choking but... helps the salt water thing.

  2. loved this blog post. had me laughing out loud. miss you already!