Adventures in Spain – Day 2 Barcelona – Gaudi & Barri Gotic

We started the day with breakfast… if you’re American and are looking for easy cheap brunch, you are in the wrong place.  Instead we stopped by a cafe and had a relaxing little breakfast. Since the place was surrounded by hotels I’m sure this is their take on what an American sandwich would look like.

Afterwards we walked by one of Gaudi’s building, Casa Mila or “La Pedrera.”

It’s a big pricey to go inside (19 Euro or so per person). We picked Casa Bistillo to go inside instead and I’ll show pictures later.  Instead of paying for the tour, we admired the beautiful lobby from the gift shop!

We then did some modeling around the neighborhood.

Site-seeing makes you hungry so we stopped by and grabbed a little tuna sandwich.

After we refueled we finally made it to La SagradaFamilia.  The Catholic church was Gaudi’s last project before he died from getting hit by tram.  It was less then 25% complete and is still being worked on today.  The expected date of completion is 2026!  

Looking at it in detail, I find it a little terrifying.

Maybe it;s because I’m not catholic, but human bodies in stone always weird me out.  Maybe too many X-Files episodes and similar shows growing up.

We continued onto the metro and down to the Gothic District of Barcelona.  I love how pretty all the windows look with their flowers and simplicity in details.

Barri Gotic (Gothic District) is a labyrinth of narrow passage ways and hoards upon hoards of tourists.  Despite several changes undergone in the 19th and early 20th century, many of the buildings date from Medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. Remains of the squared Roman Wall can be seen around Tapineria and Sots-Tinent Navarro to the north, Avinguda de la Catedral and Plaça Nova to the west and Carrer de la Palla to the south. El Call, the medieval Jewish quarter, is located within this area too.

Afterwards I went to the Cathedral.  Those always amaze me in their size and stunning architecture!

Adventures in Spain – Day 1 Barcelona – La Boquiera

I like to end posts on a positive note, so I’ll start with a rant.

Flying Delta via JFK is an absolute nightmare

Leaving Boston everything was perfect.  I somehow got on the wrong line for first class and went through security in 2 minutes.  Got on a plane and made it to JFK.  First… maybe I’ve been living in Boston for too long but place is a nightmare!  I had to switch terminals which was one of the most confusing things in the world.  Delta in Boston, never gave me a boarding pass for my connecting Delta flight.  To get on a bus to switch terminals, I had to get a boarding pass.  There is one delta attendant working the shuttle bus area at 6:30 on a Friday.  It was insanity as people had no idea which bus to take to their connecting flight or if they would even make their flight.

Then once I got on my flight… once everyone boarded the plane just chilled there… like a dead pigeon.  For 2.5 hours.  No explanation… No water… nothing.  People were so frustrated that once the plane started moving almost 3 hours later with still no explanation there was a giant applause from the exhausted confused passengers.     Only response delta gave me was it was weather related.  Not sure why I saw other planes take off if it was weather.  Either way, the flights were not cheaper than others when I booked and I only went for Delta because I thought it would be better than British Airways.  Huge mistake!

It was my mom’s first time on an airplane in 19 years since she immigrated to the great USA.  She is ready!

I booked a “4 star” hotel, Evenia Rossello through hotwire… it’s not luxury but I guess it did the trick for being within center proximity.  All the important things were 15-20 minute walk away or a short metro ride within 3 stops.  Although sometimes I really wish I knew how hotwire gets its star ratings.l’exemple

We walked down l’exemple quarter and drooled over the buildings with balconies.

while my mom made a new bullish friend

some buildings and plazas we passed until we reached La Ramba and Boqueria Market.  A heaven of fruits, veggies, fungi, meats and fishies.

I’m not sure where you are from but markets other than produce is not very common in Boston…

As you walk around there’s plenty of olive trees around and this is where they end up.  So yummy!

but worry not I’ll end this on a sweet note

Boston Spring Half Marathon Discounts & How to Find Race Discount codes

I’m still alive!!

I have much to write about… well actually mostly photo blog about my trip to Spain.  However, between limited internet and my mom I’m way behind my usual travel blogging schedule. Let’s just say that bringing my mom to Spain has been a once in a life time opportunity, meaning, once in a life time is more than enough!

While checking my emails I saw some discounts or promo prices on half marathons I’ve been debating about signing up and thought I would share.  I always get frustrated when I can’t figure out when registration opens or when race fee discounts are available so i figured I’d save you some frustration.

2013 Boston Run To Remember has opened up as a 2 week promo price of $45 (Until November 13).  It’s a no frills type of race and compared to the BAA half marathon, a lot less pretentious. I’m waiting for registration to open up at http://www.bostonsruntoremember.org

2013 New Bedford Half Marathon has a $5 off promo equaling to $45.  Code is AXNEWBED5.

I talked about both of these races in my 2013 New England Races post.

How I find race discount codes

1. Twitter stalk – Rock n Roll/Competitor group is always posting different promos for their races on twitter

2. Zozi – You can’t plan for these but I always see random half marathons pop up on the site.  Usually I’m a bit disgruntled as I already signed up for that race.  Also if it’s a half marathon, it will sell out as they are always limited quantity!  They also do a lot of those mud/obstacle course races on the site among other things.

3. For races I know I want to do, I sign up for the mailing lists and see when registration opens up.  This doesn’t usually get me a code but it does get me the lowest race fee.

I know other deal sites have things now and then but I haven’t found any good consolidated source.l  Anyone computer techny enough to start a site for it?  Like a retailmeornot for races!

Well it looks like it finally stopped raining so I’m out to find some flamenco dancing!

Hiking Mount Monadnock

My work team is a unique place.  While some get wined and dined, we get taken outside.  So Thursday, a day before my flight to Spain we took a 2 hour drive to New Hampshire to hike a mountain.

Per the all knowledgeable Wikipedia Mount Monadnock, or Grand Monadnock in NH , known for its presence in the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. It is the most prominent mountain peak between the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Massachusetts Berkshires. It has long been known as one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world!

At 3,165 feet (965 m), Mount Monadnock is nearly 1,000 feet (300 m) higher than any other mountain peak within 30 miles (48 km) and rises 2,000 feet (600 m) above the surrounding landscape.

Now can you picture 10 tax accountants climbing a mountain? Nah neither did I unless it’s a mountain of numbers.

Shared Photo

Most of us wear our hiking shoes once a year when we do this. Some of my co-workers purchased hiking shoes just for this. Now let me tell you a few things about Mount Monadnock.  It may be only 2 hours away from Boston but I feel serious pains once a year and I can tell you it’s not from a marathon.

This is my third year doing the hike with my co-workers.  First year it was cold, there was snow on top but the path was dry.  Second year was hell!  It was raining and our hike was more of a slip and slide!

This year the weather couldn’t have been more perfect!  The foliage was beautiful!

It’s a long way to the top!

But totally worth it!

It remains clear largely because of fires set by early settlers. The first major fire, set in 1800 to clear the lower slopes for pasture, swept through the stands of virgin red spruce on the summit and flanks of the mountain. Further fires and hurricane damage left the forests a tangle of fallen timber. Between 1810 and 1820, local farmers, who believed that wolves were denning in the blowdowns, set fire to the mountain again. The conflagration raged for weeks, destroying the topsoil and denuding the mountain above 2,000 feet (610 m).

Such a long way down but the view was just as lovely.

We wined and dined afterwards but I decided not to weird out my coworkers by being paparazzi.  Now I am a runner and not a mountain climber and I will be doing my limping swagger for the next week until my quads recover.     Luckily I’ll be limping around Spain.

2012-2013 New England Half Marathons and other races

Confession – I think I love training for marathon but racing half marathons more than running full marathon.

Confession – I might change my mind the next hour

Confession – Results for the Newport Half Marathon have not been posted and I already am compiling a list of potential racing to sign up so I’ll share it with you.

November 25th, 2012 – Half Marathon – Nashua, NH – About an hour away from home $50 before October 25th.  Probably won’t happen since its thanksgiving weekend and I haven’t picked which side of the family I’ll grace my presence with.  Wolf Hollow Half Marathon for more info.

January 27th, 2013 – 16 Miler – Derry, NH – About an hour away from home.  $45 until Potential to be freezing cold in a blizzard.  Derry 16 Miler for more info.

February 24, 2013 – Marathon/Half Marathon – Hyannis, MA – Approx 90-120 minutes from home.  Small race with only up to 3K runners for all races.  $60 for marathon $50 for half if registered by December 31, 2012.  Hyannis Marathon for more info

February 24, 2012 – Half Marathon – Hampton, NH – Approx 90 minutes from home. $55 through October 31st, 2012. Hampton Half for more info.

March 17th 2013 – Half Marathon – New Bedford, MA – Approx 90-120 minutes from home – $50 to register until Dec 31, 2012.  Potentially in conflict with the Malden 10K which I want to return to.  New Bedford Half Marathon for more info.

March 17th 2013 – Half Marathon – Quincy, MA – I would prefer this over New Bedford since it should be smaller and much closer to get to.  Sadly the city hasn’t approved the race yet for it’s third year and I’ll anxiously await.  Early registration should be $40.Here is the link HalfofQuincy.com for more info, so give them a holla and some support if you’re in the area!

March 30th, 2013 – 20-Miler – Rye, NH – Eastern states 20-miler hasn’t opened registration but looks like a great race as practice for Boston Marathon.  Eastern States 20 Miler for more info.  Not sure for the cost.

May 26th, 2013 – Half Marathon – Boston, MA – Probably will run it for the 3rd year.  Love the course, love not having to beg for a ride, and aside from Lowell this is as flat as New England races get.  $45 if registered by mid november.  Boston Run to Remember for more info.

I found a few other races that I probably won’t run due to proximity to the Boston Marathon and Salt Lake City one I booked myself up for.  However, since I already looked ’em up I’ll share the goods.

Great Bay Half Marathon – April 7th, 2013 – New Market, NH – $55 until December 31, 2012- Great Bay Half Marathon for more info.

Wallis Sands Half Marathon – April 28th, 2013 – Rye, NH – $60 until Feb 2013 – Wallis Sands Half Marathon for more info.

Gloucester Half Marathon – May 5th 2013, Gloucester, MA – $60 until Feb 2013 – Twin Lights Half Marathon for more info.

Sadly closing roads, chip timing, useless tech shirts, etc isn’t cheap and neither are race fees so I’ll be going through much debate in picking my races.  At the moment, the only way I can think of to save some $$$ is to stay local and pick up numbers on race day without any lodging being require.

Are you doing any races this winter/early spring?

Any tips to keep race costs low?

Switching from a Full to Half Marathon – Newport

Today’s Run 7 miles @ Incline 3 – 61 minutes

I went from a failed progressive 7MPH to 7.2MPH to Farleks to 7.5MPH intervals with 30 second walks.  Overall I just wanted to keep my legs going for as fast as possible even if for shorter distance.

Yesterday – 5 Miles on the elliptical 2 miles on the treadmill in about 50 minutes.  Which although is not a great workout, I’m proud that I still got it done considering an hour before I fought my house and well my staircase won.

Yes it wasn’t pretty and all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed and cry but instead I went to the gym and continued with my day as I started.  I guess it was a sign that maybe I should have went running outside instead of trying to go to the gym on an icky rainy day.

Switching from Amica’s Marathon to United Health Half Marathon

I can list all the excuses I want but the truth is I switched from the Full to Half Marathon because of one crappy, 75 degree muggy run.  The 20 miler that turned into 8 broke me.  And while I go in and out of regrets from switching races, I am mostly content.

Part of me wishes I read Dorthy’s Post before I made up my mind but it came a day too late. However, it’s still a post worth reading (after reading mine haha).  It reminds us all that all training cycles have bad runs.  It’s possible to have a horrible training run and a few days later an amazing race.

I had a horrible horrible average pace of 10 MPH almost crawling run on Saturday just to PR less than 48 hours later at a 10K in sub 7 minute miles (Tufts 10K). Part of me should have realized that it didn’t mean I will have a horrible race a week later.

The negatives of switching
– I lost $30 or so since the full was more expensive
– I won’t be able join marathon maniacs by the end of 2012
– I’ll only be able to run 13 miles instead of 26

The Perks of running half the distance
– I can stop stressing out over the lack of distance training I had over the past 4 weeks
– I can go all out and not worry as much about my lack of pacing ability
– I can pretty much not worry what I’m eating or doing the day before
– I don’t have to worry about getting enough sleep to the same degree
– I will be racing and finishing around the same time as my friends who are all running the half instead of the full
– I’m only running 13 miles instead of 26

Now don’t get me wrong, I still respect the half marathon.  Running 13 miles at your hardest is no easy task and a lot can happen.  However, it’s still only half of what can happen in a marathon.  You can go out too fast and still finish in a half marathon relatively at your goal pace.  While at a marathon.. well a lot can happen at a marathon.  I’m also used to running for 2 hours.  I am not used to running for 4 hours.  It’s still new distance for me.  I haven’t given up on marathon but for now I want to keep PRing in smaller distance then gathering notches on my marathon belt.

I know sometimes I get carried away because some of my running blog idols are so much faster than me but I have to remember they have been running for many more years and races than me.  I’ve only be running for 2 years and only 1 year of marathon distance.  I’m only 25 and while I will never be an elite athlete, I still have years of improvement to look forward to.  I can pick distance and speed.  I can get faster and I can build up my base for marathon but it won’t happen overnight.

Tufts 10K Race Recap

First, I have a bad confession to make, when I first read about the Tufts 10K, I really didn’t think I would enjoy running with 8,000 women.  I have traumatic experience of catty women growing up and being relative tomboyish I haven’t always been a “girl power!” type of girl.  However, I was proven utterly and complete wrong.  It was amazing!

I was running with 8,000 amazing, strong, healthy, accomplished women and the best part was that I wasn’t shoved aside, knocked into, or grossed out by any man grunt and sneers like I usually am in Boston 5k/10ks.  Nothing personal men, I’m sure most of you are awesome courteous runners but something about running brings your caveman out sometimes.

Logistics

Number Pick Up was super easy and I picked mine up on Friday at CitySports.  In it came a LunaBar, some coupons/ads, and a pretty awesome long sleeve tech shirt.  Last year it was cotton so I was super excited that they leveled-up to something I could use for those chilly fall morning runs.

The Course

The route was great, starts in the Boston Public Gardens, goes up Beacon street up a slight incline for the Mass Ave bridge and then up and down the Charles River on the Cambridge side.  It wasn’t perfectly flat but it’s about as flat as Boston will get.

My Favorite Part?

The men in tuxes at water station 5!! Yes, men should always just serve women 😉

Tufts 10K Race Report

I was coming from work at an extended lunch break for this run so I was a little nervous about playing it last minute to the starting line.  The race had some cool yoga and warm-ups but sadly I had to miss those.

The only thing cooler than blurry bathroom self portraits are elevator ones!

I was very grateful to find Robin at the starting line.  Actually she found me because little sleep + lots of coffes + no glasses = blind Liana.  How blind?  I almost missed Joan Benoit Samuelson standing right in front of me!

In case you want some impressive statistics, Joan was the first-ever women’s Olympic marathon champion. Benoit Samuelson still holds the fastest times for an American woman at the Chicago Marathon and the Olympic Marathon. Her time at the Boston Marathon was the fastest time by an American woman at that race for 28 years!

Yea, I tried to run with her but about half a mile in I was coughing and gasping as I couldn’t keep up with a 6 min pace!

My original plan however was to try to keep up with Robin. The girl who just crushed her half Ironman, has a speedy record with her training runs being faster than my PRs.  My mind equated keeping up with Robin = PR.  I too lost her in the dust somewhere around 2.5 miles.

Regardless of falling into the dust of two amazing fast women I have to say I’m pretty proud of my own results

Miles 1 – 6:23 – The gun went off and I was blazing with adrenaline

Miles 2 – 6:43 – To be fair this was where the incline to the Mass Ave Bridge began

Mile 3 – 6:53 – Okay I was starting to get a little sad for not being able to keep up my speed

Mile 4 – 7:07 – I always have an inner battle mid race of any distance

Mile 5 – 7:05 – Okay so maybe my internal battle lasted 2 miles

Mile 6 – 6:57 – Men in tuxes serving water really pumped me up!

Mile 6.2 – I messed up my runkeeper but I kicked all the way to the finish line for a grand PR of:

42:54

112th person to cross the finish line out of 8,000 and 52nd out of 1,187 in my age (20-29) division,  PR CENTRAL!

As for Robin, she ran a 41:52 without even looking remotely tired when I found her at the finish line.  My other friend Ana ran her FIRST 10K at 1:03:00!  Not bad for someone who barely trained.  I wish I had time to catch up with her but after finding Tony and   my other friend Adrienne, I had to jet back to work!

The Outfit – Because you need an outfit to PR

Reebok sponsored me and a few other FitFluential ambassadors for the Tufts 10K.  In addition to allowing us to run this fun race, they outfitted us in style! A few weeks before we received Seamless Capri Tights and the Play Dry Short Sleeved Top that I have to admit I have worn religiously with each laundry cycle leading up to the 10K.  True confession again: I’m cheap and most of my running tops are tech shirts I get through races or Target sale workout clothes.  Those work but OMG the Reebok shirt is just soo soft and I love the V-neck!  I’ve been searching for V-neck running tops but the few I purchased have always scratched up my skin. As for the Capri Tights, well it’s been love ever since!  I’ve been wearing them for my recent AM pre-work runs when the sun hasn’t fully risen yet and they’re great as the weather shifts from chilly fall to sunny warm. They’re soft and even though I was a little too dressed up for the sunny weather, they dried up my sweat pretty quickly.  And they make my butt look pretty good.

And yes, anyone who knows me well knows that I wear more purple than an elderly lady so my love for the color was no surprise.  Plus #GetAfterIt is Reebok’s new campaign and I was pretty proud to be strutting the mantra for my PR.1

Thank you FitFluential and Reebok for the opportunity to run the Tufts 10K