Copenhagen (aka København in Danish), Denmark:
Washington Circle, Washington D.C.:
Georgetown Waterfront, Washington D.C.:
C&O (Chesapeake and Ohio) Trail, Washington D.C.:
I’ve learned that at this point in my training plan, every long run is a battle to fight. I mentioned this before, but there’s this belief in Eastern Philosophy that your mind has a wavering energy that needs to be calmed through deliberate practice. I’ve found truth in that as I hit some of these long runs. It’s almost like there are two voices in your head–a positive voice telling you to keep pushing through a long run and a negative voice telling you to give up. You’d think that the right advice would be to ignore that negative voice and listen only to the positive one, but I’ve found that doing this only feeds and amplifies that dichotomy. Instead, I’ve started to learn to listen to both voices, acknowledge their presence, and then proceed to ignore it all and just put one foot in front of the other.
This week was a pretty good run week, especially considering that I spent all of last week in Copenhagen. I managed to get three runs in while I was there, which was great because not only was the city absolutely beautiful, but it was also really mild and super low humidity. I was impressed with the general run-vibe of the city. Tons of active people everywhere. I went for around a 10k run with my friend and co-worker after work one day. It was a nice run–from the UA office in Christianshavn to a nearby beach and back. The beach was beautiful–not a typical city beach that I was expecting, but rather a nice outdoor space near the water. You could see Sweden from across the water, which was pretty cool. Overall, I was impressed by the cleanliness and safety of Copenhagen. In fact, the water near the UA office was clean enough for my co-worker and I to jump in (which is a fairly common activity by the resident employees there).
My second run in Copenhagen took me through the star-fortress of Kastellet. Damn, that sounds like something out of Super Mario World. The fortress is basically a pentagram, and you can run around the edges of it. After going through the fortress I ran up to the city lakes near the Norrebro region of the city. Overall, I hit about 5 miles.
My third run was a quick out and back to the Little Mermaid statue.
I still maintain that running in a city is a great way to feel connected to it and to get to know it on a literal “on-the-ground” sort of way. Although, I didn’t explore the entire city, I do feel personally connected to it mainly due to the runs I had through some of its neighborhoods.
Today, I finished a ~14 miler. I’m still a bit off from my training program, but I am happy where I am though, and feel pretty good about how things are going.
So, total miles this week: 28.6.
GOAL FOR NEXT WEEK
The goal for next week remains the same–continue with the plan! Also, I’m planning to do more strength training. I’ve realized that it had been like 3 weeks since I had lifted weights, and it’s starting to show in terms of overall strength.
TWIR (THIS WEEK IN RUNNING):
So, what else to say about my Copenhagen trip. I left that city with a great impression of the people, history, culture and overall temperament. Jess and I were able to explore a bunch of sites–Tivoli Gardens (an amusement park in the middle of the city that isn’t at all kitchy); the Little Mermaid statue, the canal area (a bunch of times–pretty much every day); the Danish Museum of Design; the National Museum of Denmark; a water/boat tour; etc. It was a great week to travel, and though work was pretty busy, it was nice to be able to enjoy the city during the downtime I could find.
I guess nothing will top that, huh? Not so fast! I’ve been waiting to make this public, but Jess and I are expecting!! We’re 10 and a half weeks along, so still a long way to go, but we’re beyond excited. I’ve been tempering my online/social network discussion of all of this, but we are just beside ourselves. I’ll be updating our journey periodically here, but I am generally hesitant to be terribly public about all of this. But don’t mistake my silence for lack of enthusiasm–I can’t wait to have a little mini-me.
So yeah, life is pretty damn good right now.
This was a LOW mileage week. I missed a bunch of runs, including my long run for the second week in a row. I’m also late on posting this. But that’s ok though, because the reason I missed it because I’m in Copenhagen! I’m here for work, to visit our Copenhagen office. The last few days of work have been busy, but I’ve been able to do some exploring at night with Jess and my co-worker Tess. Copenhagen (or København in Danish) is a really beautiful city. The architecture, the water, walkability, bicycle culture, general safety, food, museums, etc. make this a really good place to visit. With that, and their effective state welfare and concern for their citizens, I can see how Denmark ranks among the highest in the world in terms of citizen happiness.
It’s interesting thinking about how social structures are set up here. As most people know, the welfare system is just great. Health care is entirely free, maternity leave is very generous, vacation time is ample, AND from what I gather and have experienced, people are very productive. It just seems that the general trust of the government is present here and that the government is actually responsible and effective in addressing the needs of its people.
I’ve had several conversations about how and why society is how it is here. For the welfare/benefits part, I’ve heard an interesting explanation–that for the Danish government, it’s biggest natural resource is its people, and thus they invest a lot of money to maintain a high quality of life for its citizens. I also heard an explanation, that earlier in Danish history, Denmark was actually a much larger country, controlling Sweden and parts of Germany. During that time, there was a lot of heterogenity–many different peoples, languages, beliefs, etc. But now, it’s a small country with a small population. It’s the only place in the world where Danish is predominantly spoken. And thus, these days, there is a lot of trust amongst each other in Danish society because they all feel like they are in it together. That they are no others in the world like them, and that they are a small country, and therefore there isn’t much of a fear of government because any government leader would come from the same cloth as the Danish populace. It’s interesting to contrast this with U.S. politics, where regardless of what side you’re on, you have a significant distrust (often rightfully so) of leaders and institutions.
One thing that a co-worker did mention to me, though, is that he believes in the US, the risk-reward proposition is much more pronouced. You can become incredibly successful, whether that be through wealth, fame, power, etc., but you can also fail spectacularly and end up in a pretty shitty life. In Denmark, he postulated, you’d have to be doing pretty bad to be in really hard times to have a really desolate life here. I’m not saying one is better than the other, I can see positives in both. I am strongly optimistic and patriotic about the United States–I hardly doubt that my story and my family’s story of success could have happened anywhere else on Earth. And so I’ll always be biased from that lens. I also do see how the Danish way contributes to the overall happiness of society.
Being here has also made me reflect on some larger things in life. How to optimize your time and emotion and when to burden yourself with stress to achieve a certain result. I know that sounds vague. Said another way, what I’m trying to figure out and think about is when it’s worth it to make decisions in pursuit of ambition, even though they provide more stress and difficulty, and when to make decisions in pursuit of happiness, even when the minimize your achievement potential. And are these mutually exclusive?
Wait, this is a running blog? My bad. So Copenhagen is a huge running and biking city. On the first night after I arrived, the Copenhagen Ironman Triathlon event was occurring. It was really cool to see the people participating. We went to the canal portion of town near the end of the race, so I spent some time clapping and cheering people along as they passed me. I know how helpful that can be when I’m running a marathon, and I can’t imagine what kind of boost you need when you’re on the tail end of finishing a marathon AFTER having swam 2.4 miles and biked 112 miles. Absolutely insane, but so insane that it kind of makes me want to train for one! Seriously, I am thinking about it, but it’s way easier to say that than to actually even start trying to train for it.
My low mileage, though, isn’t entirely attributable to my Copenhagen trip. In reality, it’s because the weather in DC had been so damn hot. I was supposed to do a 10 miler on 8/18, ended up doing six. Also, Jess’s family came to visit during the middle of the week, and I wanted to spend time with them. So overall, you’ll see below: 9.9 miles. But I’m going to continue on (same thing I said last week) and I’ll try to get back on track. The biggest thing about running these distances is actually the time it takes. And when it’s summer in DC/Baltimore, you can’t really plan a run during lunch because it’s so damn hot. But that excuse is almost behind me.
GOAL FOR NEXT WEEK
Technically this is cheating because I’m already in the “next week,” but I was/am planning to continue on with week 5 of the training plan.
TWIR (This Week In Running)
I pretty much covered it all above. Oh, and Jess and I went to Sweden to visit my cousin in Gothenberg. It was about a three hour train ride from CPH to Gothenberg, and we were able to hop over for the day on Sunday. It was a really nice time getting to catch up with her.
Jess’s folks came to visit last week, and it was nice to spend sometime with them. We’ve had a lot going on, a new car, a trip to Copenhagen, and still some news that I’ll share soon. I’m still finishing that book that I’ve been reading on India’s Partition. And now I want to read a book about Danish history.
A couple of years ago there was this movie called The Babadook that Jess and I saw with some friends. It was part of a scary movie film festival in Silver Spring, right around Halloween. The movie was really good. It was about this monster, called The Babadook, that would visit a kid every now and then. The story has its usual creepy moments, but the bottom line message of it was that in order to contain the monster, the kid and his mom had to face it head on. It was an allegory of sorts of your worst fears and your darker memories being the Babadook, and the only way to conquer them is to look those fears head on. In the movie, the Babadook never was fully defeated or went away. It ended up occupying their basement, and every year, the mom and kid would have to go down there and feed it. So basically, with some difficulties, you may never conquer them, but you may be able to contain them and may need to feed into them every now and then before they get out of control and take over.
The reason I mention this is because this week was a Babadook week. I was scheduled for five runs: 8, 4, 11, 4 and 16. For the 8 miler, I was having a bad day, and I didn’t feel like running. So I almost skipped it. Even mentally, I knew that I had the time to run it, but I just didn’t want to. But somehow, I forced myself out the door, and even for the first 2 miles, I was being a downer. But as predicted, around 4 miles in, I was glad I was out there. When I finished the 8, I felt like I looked my reasons for not running straight in the eye, challenged it, and was happy to have won that mental victory. Sometimes, it’s all about overcoming your own psychology. There’s a belief in Hinduism about this, that the mind is fickle and unstable by nature, and only through deliberate and intentional practice can it be stabilized. The Bhagavad Gita discusses this a lot, on how to stabilize your mind and thus achieve the condition known as sthithaprajna. There is a concept in Buddhism about this as well, to disconnect your emotional mind from your Self’s conciousness, and how to achieve that through practice. Anyway, it was a good lesson to learn, in a small way.
I did the 8 on Monday, but then this horrendous heat/humidity wave swept through DC. I skipped my recovery runs, but managed to get my 11 miler in on a brutally hot day. It was 98 degrees with a heat index of 111. At 7pm. I didn’t feel terrible doing it because I took it very easy, but I don’t know if I’d do it again either. Today was my scheduled 16 mile run. The heat index today touched 115, so I skipped that one as well. Let’s see how this impacts week 4, as I plan to push forward and move on to the next week, even though I skipped the long run.
Here’s the summary for the week: 19.2 miles, on what should have been a longer week. But as mentioned before, I had some mental victories, so I feel ok about it. Not thrilled, but I feel like I can move forward, and I really feel like the extraordinary weather held me back.
GOAL FOR NEXT WEEK
Plowing ahead to week 4. Let’s see what affect missing the long run has on my runs this week. I still feel good, so I’m confident I can get back on track.
TWIR (THIS WEEK IN RUNNING)
On Monday, I took a half day from work, but did not really plan any fun activities so I didn’t enjoy it. I’ve realized that I’m the kind of person who has to plan my relaxation time, otherwise, I don’t end up enjoying it (unless it’s on the weekend). On Friday, I had to give a big presentation at work, and that went really well, so I was happy for that. Had a big moment on Wednesday, which I’ll share in due time. Oh, and on Saturday Jess and I bought a car, a 2016 Toyota Rav 4 hours hybrid!
We also went to a pretty good Pakistani restaurant (basically the same food as Indian Punjabi food). So it was a pretty busy week, but a very happy and memorable one for sure.