This Easter, may we rediscover the value of little things. Best wishes!
Que esta Pascua nos hace redescubrir el valor de las cosas pequeñas. Saludos!
Rental cars. I have the most amazing luck with them. Or not. The verdict is still out.
Like the one time I totaled the side of my rental car trying to park it at the Bologna airport. I didn’t want to miss my flight to Tropea so I left it. Ouchie and kinda pricy. 😶I had fun fishing the next day at least.
Or the other time I couldn’t find the rental car return office in Athens and had no choice but to dump the car at the airport so I didn’t miss my flight back to New York. They didn’t like the call to come get the car. Ehm..probably because I still had the keys. Ooopsie. 😱But hey, the keys arrived four weeks later at least.
This time around luck was on my side! I decided to go for a little run. And in my world you know, a little run equates to several hours. So here I am in Italy and I’m driving down beautiful country roads enjoying myself, the scenery, the moment. I find a clean pull-off where I decide to park because there are no signs against it. I park, gather my running gear and off I go on another adventure. It’s all fine until several hours in when I get lost. Worse is that I’m pretty much out of water. Thankfully I have my cell phone. No, not because I know someone I can call. I don’t know anyone where I am. But I run into two cyclists and ask them for help. I ultimately had to use my cell phone google maps to explain where “I think” I left the car. It turns out that I parked the car but completely forgot to think about WHERE I parked the car. Street name? Nope, have no idea. Buildings or landmarks? Nope, just a bunch of trees and farm houses. Ooopsie.
The cyclists were really nice, and kept their laughter to themselves. They stayed with me while I ran in the direction that I assume I came from and given that they were local, they pointed out water fountains. I would have never noticed the water fountains given that they look like random historical land markers.
After about an hour of riding beside me, the cyclists decided to ride on ahead and check the road we were on for the car. Found!! I think in the end I was lost approximately 10km but given that I felt frantic about not knowing the area, 10km felt like eternity. I couldn’t have been happier to know the car was still where I left it, and more importantly I didn’t have to report it lost. 😅 Here's a nice video memory they took of me when I spotted the car. Hahaha! 😇 This was one of the lucky days with the rental car because...
When I first arrived to the house I rented, the GPS took me up this really steep driveway. At first I had to get out of the car and walk up the driveway to take a look and see how to do this. During the initial attempt of driving the car up, I seriously thought I was going to flip the car. In the end, I made it halfway up the driveway before I decided to slowly put the car in reverse and come back down. None of this was too bad until my reverse driving skills caused me to park the car practically falling off a cliff. It was at the point that I put the car in park, leaving it also in gear, took the keys out, and waited for the landlord to move the car for me. Here's a photo of my poor little Fiat Panda clinging to the edge. As it turns out, no one drives up that driveway. There's a back road to the house, that's flat. Ooopsie. 😳🙄
I really thought I’d dodged the bad rental car luck by the time I arrived to the Malpensa Airport. That is until I parked the car realizing I forgot to fill the gas tank. Two days later I receive a angry e-mail letting me know the rental car people charged me 72 Euro for less than a quarter tank of gas. Ouchie and kinda pricy. 🤔
Ahhhhh…. The epic adventures. One day I'll write a book with one entire chapter dedicated to rental cars. At Badwater, my crew will handle the rental car. Saved!
I've been cleaning out my macbook and found several videos from a diary I kept while I was preparing for Pheidippides (Athens-Sparta-Athens). Instead of laughing at what I say in the video, I watch in disbelief about what I was thinking before the race. The video was at 4:19am October 22, 2016. I think my favorite part is when I'm talking about the race being three weeks away and I ask myself, "What have I done?!" Perspective.
Sono stato pulendo il mio macbook e trovato diversi video da un diario che ho tenuto mentre mi stavo preparando per Fidippide (Atene-Sparta-Atene). Invece di ridere di quello che dico nel video, guardo incredulo di quello che pensavo prima della gara. Il video è stato alle 04:19 il 22 ottobre 2016. Credo che la mia parte preferita è quando sto parlando della gara essendo tre settimane di distanza e mi chiedere: "Che cosa ho fatto ?!"
PS: Jon M, I dedicate this post to you. For all the reasons you know. :)
One of the things that fascinates me the most about traveling is the comparison and contrast of history to life. Il Duomo was my very first stop in this great metropolitan city in 2008. I spent hours upon hours inside taking in every detail. Since that visit, I’ve returned many times to enjoy this massive cathedral for everything it is. Sometimes I sit outside, enjoy a gelato and just stare at the magnitude of it. Other times, I indulge in a nice dinner from across the rooftop at La Rinascente while admiring the spires at sunset.
Last year was my first time attending mass here. While I generally keep religion very private, I have to say that when I travel I do enjoy attending mass at various churches for the very specific reason that I’m fascinated by ritual. Ritual of any kind. It was part of my sociology studies at university and some things always stay with a person.
I remember my heart was thumping as I walked in to attend mass. The entire mass was in Italian, which to me made it that much more profound being it’s closer to true latin. But there was something very peculiar about experiencing mass this time. I didn’t cry. Generally I have an automatic water faucet that turns on when I attend a service. Don’t ask me why, I don’t have an answer. This time in particular, there were no tears. I remember listening intently to every word. Sometimes I would mouth a word just to feel it roll around in my mouth. And sometimes I understood long phrases yet other times I didn’t. Regardless, the sound of their voices echoing all around penetrated every molecule of my being.
After the service, I remember I lit a candle and sat for a while staring at the light. There was the occasional sound of someone dropping their one euro coin into the candle slot but otherwise sitting there I was enveloped by silent thoughts. And then the entire realization hit me. It took nearly SIX centuries for this magnificent cathedral to be built. Written differently, it took almost six hundred years to complete. Very few of us will live to be one hundred years old. This construction was a vision carried from one generation to another and another and so on. That is undeniably the most astounding amount of commitment that had to be passed on several times. What if in the three hundredth year someone had decided to stop the entire process? Maybe instead of a cathedral, it would have amounted to a small church towered by other buildings. In current times, we can’t even drive the same car for more than a year because it’s considered old and tired.
I sat there again today with all of the same inquisitive thoughts. I tried really hard to think of other things in my lifetime that carry the same amount of importance worthy enough to last six centuries. I don't have things that are that important. However, I do always come back to certain people. Living or not, I hope remembering what it was like to have them in my life lasts as long as it took to build Il Duomo.
When we use the words, always, siempre, sempre, per sempre exactly how much time are we defining when we use those words?
I'm in a world of simple pleasures right now, or should I call it primitive living. Coffee comes from boiling water on a gas stove (I remembered to bring Starbucks packets)! Interestingly enough I don't miss my K-Cup coffee machine. The difference in sounds from my apartment to this house are different. Quieter. The sound of boiling water on a stove versus a machine beeping loudly. I'd be happy to leave that world entirely for this one.
Except where heat is involved...Ahem... Heat comes from a corner oven looking thing that requires me to add wooden pellets every so often. But I can honestly say once this oven gets rolling it's amazing how warm the house stays. The first night I couldn't figure out how to make this thing work and I almost froze to death. Last night however I slept soundly in the warmth of a fully functioning wooden pellet oven.
I also found a local market to buy a few of my favorite items for breakfast.
Yesterday my run consisted of several beautiful hills covered in brilliant and varying shades of green. Everything is in technicolor here and I don't know what the trees with the impressive white blooms are called but so far, they're my favorite. Amongst the green palate, the white trees resemble large puffs of cotton candy on a stick. Imagine: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory meets Henry David Thoreau's Walden. I've been dreaming to see, smell and experience all of this again and I'm happy to report that my memory served me well. It's every bit how I remember and all of it takes me back to precious moments. 💫 There is even wisteria outside my front door. 💓
I was out there running for while and along the way met various locals where I stopped each time to enjoy witty little conversations about the weather, the locality, life in general. I have a obvious accent but the general consensus is,
I'm home. ❤
I've declared the windowsill of my kitchen to be the perfect spot for enjoying breakfast and a view. My neighbor has decided this is photo worthy. Hahaha...
New day, new adventure. I think I'll head a little further south today and find new roads to run along. 👟🎶 iPod is charged, and my Vasco playlist is cued up. 🎶 Me, Vasco, long roads. A perfect duet. 😊☀️
morning sunshine ☀️
I woke up in paradise today.
🎶piccole cose 🎶
Cuore tranquillo, l'anima felice.
A woman can never have enough shoes, especially of the running variety. OMG!!! I'm in love with the orange and green combo! 😍👟👟👟
I've been running to the new Coldplay song lately and it's entirely dreamy. The miles click by with ease. Chris Martin's voice is so...delicious. And while generally I'm not one to be drawn to blonde hair, but ahem-ahem.... Chris, will you marry me? Hahahaha! Ok-ok.... that's a bit of a stretch. 😂 I'm perfectly content with just the music.
Here's the video for your perusal. Caution: If you listen to it while you're running, expect to levitate above the ground and lose your mind to the sun, moon and stars.
"She said, Where d'you wanna go? How much you wanna risk?"
I’m planning an event this spring at a ranch in the Texas hill country and today was the day to take the tour. The weather was picture perfect and since it’s spring all of the bluebonnets are out. 🌞
It occurred to me that I could get a photo to send to friends in Italy. I was invited to participate in a little fitness challenge, Fattore Igsylon. The main purpose of the challenge is to raise funds for those victims who were effected by the earthquakes in Italy last year. Given the cause, I am happy to participate. ❤️ Part of this meant I received a cool sweatshirt from Department Five, the sponsor of the challenge. So considering I my work day at the ranch, I opted to get some photos in the sweatshirt wearing my favorite cowgirl boots. Because well, if I’m not wearing running shoes than the perfect alternative is of course boots. At least for this little Texan.
Special thanks to Department Five for the sweatshirt! And also to Reunion Ranch for the photo op. Here’s some photos from my day out in the Texas sunshine.
The first official day of spring! Spring is always exciting to me. Symbolic of new beginnings, hope, and of course a beautiful array of colors throughout gardens and farmlands. I imagine in Texas, the roads are flanked with sheets of bluebonnets.
Wishing you and yours a beautiful season of new beginnings, brilliant colors of flowers to decorate long old country roads to run on, and all the sweetness that spring has to offer. Including a yummy cupcake. 🍥😊
I recently found this little gem and my ears went wild with excitement! It's Eminem, and yes I absolutely like rap music. Not all rap music, but some rap music. This one in particular captures my attention because not only are the lyrics spectacular but there's the element of boxing. Confession: I like watching boxing. There's something exciting and raw about two people beating each other to a pulp with such intensity. The blood, the spit, the eyes. Ohhhh it's all so very fabulous. Check this out!
'Cause sometimes you just feel tired,
Feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.'
I completely forgot to share the news! February 9th the race director of the Badwater Ultramarathon went live on Facebook and announced the top 100 athletes that are invited to participate in this years race. I received an invitation to return to the Death Valley desert for the third time!!! If you saw the video I posted earlier, you know that I was there in January for a weekend. The desert was in full force with snow and frigid wind I might add. It was my first time being there in the winter. I’ll have to write about it in a different post because there were a few hysterical moments!
Last year Death Valley was a place of much needed tranquillity for me. It was a place that I went to for confort and introspection. When I think back to where I was one year ago I’m exponentially in a better place now than I have been in years. So much has changed and more to the point, I’ve felt myself changing and getting closer to living a life I’ve always wanted. Sure there’s still two things out there that my heart desires and longs for but I’ve shouted it out to the universe and now destiny can take it from here. 💫💓
I don’t know how the race will turn out, nor does anyone else. We all must wait to arrive to finish line. In the meantime, I know how happy I am to return and dance along the desert road that brings me so much joy and freedom to my mind, spirit and body. The kaleidoscope of colors that brilliantly play hide and go seek on the various facets of the mountains makes me hungry with desire to return again and again.
For now at least I’m rebuilding my musical repertoire to take back to the desert. Some songs from last year must stay on the iPod, but there’s a good number songs that I’m just now learning about and then of course new ones are coming out. And if there’s any suggestions, drop me an e-mail. I’m always open to new music! Total excitement coming!!
Ooooh and here’s a new one from one of my Italian favorites Vasco, Un Mondo Migliore (A Better World). I'm attaching the Youtube video because trust me, you don't want to know what I sound like singing this at the top of my lungs. His voice is much more epic!
January 2017. No explanation necessary. <3
The video says it all. And there are no words to describe the emotions that come from watching this and reliving it again. <3
I just realized that I never posted the video someone sent me from the finish in Greece. I saw this about a week after I got home from the race, but even today I get so emotional watching it.
I've had several people ask what I'll do this year for races. Honestly I'm not sure. How do I top 2016? And maybe it's not about topping anything but last year was a big year of transition. Transition from being married to single, from my 30's to 40's, from 100+ milers to 300+ milers. OMG. I still can't believe the year I had. It couldn't have been any better!
So for now, I'm enjoying being present, not tense. And appreciating the journey that I'm on in this lifetime. <3
15 days into the new year and here I am feeling refreshed from a nice holiday break. I have snow on the brain and if I don't get to play in some soon it won't be pretty! But for the immediate future, I feel satiated with some local running. On the BIG NEWS front - I heard from Newton and we'll be together again for another terrific year!! This marks SEVEN consecutive years of exclusively wearing Newton.
Nothing changes with X-Bionic either!!! After a year of playing, running and racing around the globe in all of their clothing, I couldn't be happier with the fit, feel, and performance. From the hottest place on the planet to frigid cold nights in Greece, this gear gave me everything I needed to keep it together to the end. Yeah!
And apparently a smile takes over my face every time I start lacing up my Newtons. Ahhhhh...running...I love it! <3
To read the entire article click HERE
The race begins in Athens, Greece at the Ancient Market with an evening start. Before the race begins there is traditional Grecian dancing and music with performers wearing authentic dress. One of my favorite things about racing in Greece is that it’s more of a cultural experience than just running. The runners are following almost the exact routes that historical figures ran during times of battles and wars. It’s really meaningful for the locals to share this history with the runners because in a sense, it’s the ability to relive their history in modern times. In the case of this race (and who the race is named after) it was a professional runner named, Pheidippides, who was asked to run [from Athens] to Sparta and request help from the Sparta military to fight off the Persians. While most people think Pheidippides only ran the distance of a marathon, the truth is that he ran from Athens to Sparta and back to Athens to deliver the news, a total of 304-miles. It was only after this journey that he then ran to the city of Marathon to share the news of the victory where he died from exhaustion. Who knew that ultra-running would teach me more about world history than sitting in a classroom ever did!?
The mountain range we crossed over twice is impressive. This is where the road turns to trail and back to road. The climb feels like it leads you up into the clouds with the most amazing vistas. There is something very peaceful about this section because of the silence in the air. In terms of the course, it’s probably the most difficult part, but the views are worth the pain. The race takes place just before winter, so during the race the runners witness the shepherds migrating their flocks of sheep across the lands. It seems like this would be something you would see only in the movies, but this is an example of the experiences I have the opportunity to see because of running.
This year the field was comprised of 16 runners, myself and 15 men. Of the 16 runners, there were 6 different countries that were represented; Greece, France, Belgium, Finland, Japan, and me coming from the USA. I must admit, I really have a total love and passion for Italy so I race wearing Italian colors which confuses people. Ha!
It was interesting because we only saw each other very briefly at the pre-race meeting which was held just a few hours before the start of the race. At least in my case, my focus was on getting my race number and rushing back to the house to pack up the gear and take my last long hot shower before setting off for the long journey. While we were standing at the start line there was electricity in the air from the excitement. I felt this unity with the other runners because of what we were about to try to do. One of the Greek runners would be running this route for the third time!
I wish I could pinpoint exactly what parts of the race were the hardest but the race was difficult at different times, for different reasons. I’ve run through one night in other races but three nights was tough! There were many times I would sing out loud because it was the only way to stay awake. Other times, I wasn’t sure if I was actually awake or sleeping so I would belt out a scream just to figure it out. I needed to actually feel the intensity of the scream in my throat and feel the adrenaline kicking in again to jolt me awake. I’m sure the race officials and the police car behind me probably thought I was crazy! Having a logical thought process was very difficult after the second day and for almost two days straight I lived with constant hallucinations even during the day. I would see people or things that weren’t there.
The terrain of the race was almost entirely on asphalt, aside from a brief section of the trail near the mountain of Artemisias. While some may consider road running easier, there is the element of constant pounding on your joints and feet from the unforgiving asphalt that make it feel just as hard as running on an uneven trail. The cold temperatures during the early mornings made running tricky, as it was cold enough for frost to develop on the roads – another obstacle to battle! During this time of the year in Greece, the temperature fluctuates a lot. In Texas, where I live, we have two seasons: hot and hotter, so racing in freezing temperatures to hot and back to freezing was quite an adventure for me.
I had minimal problems during the race, which I attribute to my coach and physical therapist that helped me prepare for the race. At one point during the race, my left calf muscle swelled up to twice its size! I had brought wraps with me just in case a situation like this occurred, so I did the only thing I could think of which was to wrap that area of my leg. After a day of keeping it wrapped my calf went back to normal and the pain went away. Towards the end of the race, the lower area of my shins began to turn purple. Since the only pain I felt was the justifiable discomfort from the mileage I knew I didn’t have stress fractures. The trapezius muscle was probably the worst of everything from holding my head up to maintain good form. It never occurred to me to strengthen this area in training. There were long hours were I felt a burning sensation in this area and I finally put a mini hot pack on it to help ease some of the pain.
The question I am most often asked is “how many blisters did I have at the finish,” that answer was zero. My feet were never an issue. I wore the exact same pair of Newton Gravity’s from start to finish. When I reached the finish line, those Gravity’s had completed 1000 miles! Part of the reason why I love the Gravity shoe so much is the power of the lugs. The Gravity tends to have a more rigid ride, and I prefer to have power in my shoe and save any cushion for after the race during recovery.
In 2016,I had set out to race what I personally dubbed as the “Ultra Road Running Grand Slam.” This personal goal consisted of completing four ultra-road races in 2016. These four races would mean running 717 miles in 181 days, something that has never been done before. The races were Nove Colli 125-miles in Italy, Badwater Ultramarathon 135-miles in the USA, Spartathlon 153-miles in Greece, and the Pheidippides 304-mile race in Greece. There is one runner from Italy, Paolo Bucci, who finished the first three races in 2011. The Pheidippides race didn’t exist during the year he completed the three races. So this year my goal was to try and match his three races and also add Pheidippides. Unfortunately I had some issues at Spartathlon. After completing 106 of the 153 miles I pulled out of the race missing my overall goal for the year. It happens!
My original goal for this race was to finish Pheidippides just over an hour faster than the men’s course record, which was 78 hours and 41 minutes. Don’t ask me how I came up with this but it seemed to make perfect sense, and I went for it. I knew this goal was going to be a major undertaking and a stretch for me to push this hard but I’m also at a point in my life where I’d rather try and completely fail, than play it safe. I decided to take a chance on myself and I went after it. From start to finish I have to say that this was probably the single most liberating experience I’ve had in a race.
Pheidippides was liberating for two reasons: Emotionally, this race stripped me down to absolutely nothing. During the three days of running I let go of a lot of sadness and hurt that burdened me this year and that at times negatively affected me physically.. The second reason this race was liberating to me was because I really took the time to appreciate the land I ran across and the people I met along the way. I felt immense gratitude for the gift of running, the people who helped me and cheered for me along the way, and most importantly having the opportunity to be part of Greece’s history. I was able to share this journey with three incredible people who crewed me, but I was also able to share this racing adventure online with fellow runners who understand the passion and commitment of running.
304 miles later, I finished first place out of all 16 runners, (against the men since I was the only female) with a time of 74 hours and 35 minutes. I broke the men’s course record by 4 hours and 12 minutes – something that never occurred to me might be possible…
“per ardua ad astra” (through adversity to the stars)!
What can I say, 2016 surpassed my wildest dreams! My sincerest and most heartfelt thank you for everyone who made my 2016 an absolutely unforgettable year.
As we all approach the midnight hour and welcome 2017, I want to wish you love in your heart, health in your body, and success for you to take your dreams and make them a reality. per ardua ad astra!
Never lose faith in magic,
Nove Colli 125-miles: 1st Overall, new women's course record
Badwater 135-miles: 2nd Female Overall, 8 hour PR
Spartathlon 153-miles: DNF, but one heck of a great vacation
Phidippides 304-miles: 1st Overall, new men & women's course record
Cosa posso dire...2016 ha superato i miei sogni più selvaggi! La mia più sincera grazie dal cuore per tutti coloro che hanno reso la mia 2016 un anno assolutamente indimenticabile.
Come tutti noi avviciniamo alla mezzanotte voglio augurarvi amore nel tuo cuore, la salute nel vostro corpo, e il successo per prendere i vostri sogni e farli accadere. per ardua ad astra!
Never lose faith in magic,