Austria Days 6&7

I thought about skipping these recaps but these were some of my favorite days on our vacation so I decided that it’s better late than never.

 

On day 6, we decided to take a trip into Germany on the recommendation of Joe’s mom who visited this part of Austria/Germany almost thirty years ago (with baby Joe, who doesn’t remember!).  She wanted us to check out Lake Konigssee and Berchtesgaden so that’s what we did.  The lake was beautiful, a super clear turquoise or green depending on which part of the lake you visited but we only had the day so we didn’t spend a whole lot of time there, though I would have loved to take a kayak out there.

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So pretty!

 

We then visited this gorgeous little bridge which gave me some good vibes about what we’d see in Berchtesgaden, which was just a little walk up a hill from here:

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This is pretty much exactly how I expect this part of the world to look.  Everything we saw here was so beautiful.

We made our way to the town but we couldn’t figure out why everything except some restaurants/bars were closed!  I voted we just sit and have a beer, given that it was 96 degrees outside, but Joe wanted to make sure we weren’t missing things that needed to be seen.  Well, we quickly found out why everything was closed!

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We turned a corner and literally smacked into a parade, I had to stand in a window to avoid standing in their way!  It was a national holiday, it turns out.  We listened to their music and watched the parade file by but I have no idea where they marched on to, the town wasn’t very large.

 

Since now we knew that everything was going to stay closed, my logic won out and we picked a place to sit and have a beer.  It turned out to be the best decision.  Not only was it super refreshing to sit in the shade and enjoy the gorgeous sunshine but have a little respite from the heat, but we had the most awesome waiter who came by often to chat with us about German customs and just make us laugh.  I had been dying for some real German pretzels and he brought some out for me, though he thought that it was downright hilarious that I wanted mustard with them (apparently, butter is what you use unless you’re American!).

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We ended up staying there all afternoon, trying all the local beer and eating lots of pretzels (me) or crazy desserts (Joe) and making friends with the waiter.

 

On day 7, we wanted to stay local but we had already climbed the biggest mountain twice and wanted to tackle one of the smaller trails for something that wouldn’t leave us too sore on the flight home.  It didn’t help that it was in the mid-90s again so we definitely wanted to stay in the shade so we located some waterfalls on a trail map and decided to find them.  Side note: this part of Austria is crazy amazing with how well they mark everything, there are trail markers EVERYWHERE.  We ended up in what I ended up calling the Enchanted Forest.  This place looked like something out of Fern Gully the whole way.

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It was just so beautiful.  And so hot, so I kept taking my shoes off to play in the glacial water.

And eventually we ended up at the waterfall we were looking for.  It wasn’t anything like some of the big ones I’ve visited in Hawaii or even the ones in the Shenandoah, but it was so fairy-tale-forest and I ended up taking some photos that I just loved thanks to the freak of nature lighting we had in this little secret spot in the forest.

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I have always wanted to go to Austria but I was still impressed by absolutely everything we saw and did.  Our last day was so low-key and close to where we were staying (the whole outing was about a two hour walk) but it was no less amazing than everything else.  I’d go back in a heartbeat 🙂

 

Did you take any vacations this summer?

Has anyone else been to Austria?  What part?

Austria Day 5

This was definitely our most strenuous day of our active vacation.  We found out that there is a route from the mountain we’ve been climbing to the next peak over (which is a little taller) and obviously, we just needed to do that.  Even though it’ll make our roundtrip hike 14 miles and it was predicted to be 89 degrees and bright and sunny.  Oops!

 

I probably should’ve been a little smarter and done zero running, but it is just so hard to turn down the gorgeousness of this scenery.  So hike, then 4 miles on the mountain thinking that I was keeping it pretty light for a full day’s worth of hiking.  Joe caught one picture of me again.

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Then we started really booking it to the top, we were pretty much experts at the main part of the mountain by now.  We made it to the top about 30-40 minutes quicker than the previous tries and that was a very good thing because it was getting HOT.  We had to stop to fill our water bottle with snow!  We knew the new route at the top would be an extra couple hours but we weren’t quite prepared for how steep, how slippery (lots of loose rocks), and how very very little room you had on the “trail” before massive drop offs off the side of the mountain.  In places, it was just one foot in front of the other and a whole lot of me not allowing myself to look 6 inches to my right.  I stared at my feet an awful lot.

 

Luckily, the views were pretty awesome whenever I found a place I wasn’t scared to take a pause and get a picture.

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Once we got close, I felt like I was on top of the world.

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And we got a pretty awesome view of the valley from the top.

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All the snow was pretty enticing, it was 90 degrees!  It was quite funny though, this side of the mountain (from the other peak) was very gently rolling downward and looked completely different from the rugged and steep climb we had from the other side.  You could tell who came from each side at the top, children and dogs had made their way on the other side and the ones with hiking boots and poles and covered in sweat had come from our side.

 

We had a pretty uneventful hike all the way back down, and I repeated “ice cream and diet coke” over and over in my head when I was starting to get tired and my feet were hurting.  I had been planning since about 10 minutes in to have that as soon as I got back.  We definitely made good:

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Except Joe decided ice cream and beer made a better combo.

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Does anybody else crave a soda when they’re eating ice cream? I very very rarely have a soda but I always crave the carbonation when I’m having ice cream for some reason!

What was your run today?

Austria Day 3

After the hell that was running on a mountain, I decided it was best to stay flat the next day.  We had seen a river from the top of the mountain that flowed all the way through the valley, connecting town to town so I thought that seemed like the ideal place to run.  I wasn’t wrong.  It started in a nice, shady part of town:

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And I quickly headed out of town and along the crushed gravel path running right beside the beautiful and incredibly clear river.

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The view to my left wasn’t bad either.

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It was seriously one of the most beautiful places to run I’ve ever seen.  I must have said to Joe 50 times that I could live in this town.  Obviously, one of the most compelling reasons would be the perfect running– this trail goes on forever and ever and no chance of getting hit by cars, just perfect scenery and a beautiful, flat trail.  Bonus: Even in the heat, the water was FREEZING (being glacial water and all) and made the perfect ice bath for my super sore muscles.

 

Obviously, the best way to recover was a gelato in town.  I got lemon and mango, Joe had hazelnut and blueberry (we only discovered this afterward, we basically guessed at the German words and what we thought they might be).  Best lemon gelato ever, it was super sour and felt so good on a hot day.

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We spent the afternoon being lazy and resting our sore bodies, which meant I got some serious sun time with my beer.

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Before we knew it, it was dinner time.  Started with a salad with blueberry dressing.

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Carrot and thyme soup.

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Quiche lorraine.

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Delicious fish and roasted veggies.  I would have felt pretty healthy if it wasn’t for the liter of beer and gelato I had earlier.

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Where was your prettiest run?

Favorite flavor of gelato?  I really like fruity flavors like lemon, mango, raspberry in the summer but cappuccino is my favorite if it’s not as warm out

 

 

Austria Day 2

I said I was going to run in town then hike the mountain, what ended up happening was a little different.  We decided to combine the two since it was 10 miles round trip up and down this gigantic and STEEP beast.  We hiked up the initial part, which varied from 17-25% grade (ouch) then we hit a more gentle 3% section and I did a one mile warm-up.  Next up was a switchback half a mile in length at 5-8% grade so I ran 4 miles by going up and back down this section.  Up was an awful lot of work and down felt like I might fly off the side of the mountain but you couldn’t beat the view.

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And because Joe was just sitting and reading while he waited for me to get my run in, he caught a few photos of me every time I ran past him (sometimes I was going up, sometimes down).

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He took about 10 pictures and they are the only pictures I think I have ever liked of me running but I like all of them.  Must be the mountains.

 

I did a cool down mile then it was back to hiking the rest of the way to the summit together.  The actual hiking time was 2.5 hours to the top and 2 hours down and 10.2 miles.  The steepest sections were 25% grade, the vast majority at 15-18% grade, and the nice “flat” section where I ran in the middle was 3-8% but covered such a tiny portion of the actual mountain.  Let me tell you, my hill repeats did not prepare me for that workout, I was sore in places that I didn’t know I had.

 

And I was so ready to eat all the food.  Thank goodness for a big meal.

Chicken pate and beef broth with horseradish dumplings

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And pork with balsamic onions followed by vanilla ice cream with sea salt and pumpkin seeds and pumpkin oil sauce.  Everything was delicious.

 

 

What was the hardest workout you’ve ever done?  This didn’t feel like the hardest necessarily while I was doing it, but I was more sore afterwards than I was after my marathons!

Do you like pictures of yourself running?

Something I’m good at

I’m so good at procrastinating interval workouts.  Pretty much any other run I’ll be eager to do as soon as I’ve digested breakfast but intervals often wait until the afternoon when I do them only because I know I’ll be too tired to do them if I wait any longer.  But as usual, I feel really good when I finish.  There’s something so satisfying about finishing a hard workout and knowing you’ll see results from it in the future.  2 miles warm up, 4×1 mile with 3 min jog recovery, 2 miles cool down.  Then 40 minutes of plyo and my legs are SORE today.  Schedule calls for easy 4 and I will happily oblige. 

 

{Still doing the random photo thing until this weekend!}

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Small update on the school stuff: I met with my supervisors yesterday who are just wonderful people.  I’ll be leaving here with another masters degree (having two seems excessive but at least I’ll leave with something!) so I will still be researching and writing for the remainder of my time here.  We actually chose to go a different route than I was with the doctoral dissertation so that I can use the majority of what I had researched in my future doctoral program and I will build on one of my completed chapters for this.  It’s crazy, because it means I have to write roughly 30,000 words of new and original work in the next couple months when I already had SO MUCH done of my doctoral dissertation, but I want to preserve being able to write about what I’m passionate about at another program.  And they are going to write me glowing recommendations and do whatever they can to help me get in elsewhere (they strongly disagree with what is going down) so hopefully it all works out and I end up someplace equally prestigious but where I can write what I want. 

 

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Oh, and I think I’m going to do that race I mentioned yesterday, because apparently I’m a glutton for punishment.  Let’s just hope I don’t ruin my team’s chances of placing.  Unlike a lot of obstacle runs, this one is timed and competitive and all four of us and our times will count for the team.  Mark and I are working on trying to convince Joe to join, it would be super fun to do a race with him and lifting things and hiking mountains is so much more his thing than actually running on a flat course (because he’s crazy).  In case you didn’t know this already, 9 years together and I’ve never even been on one run with my husband.  Very jealous of all of you who have someone to run with!

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(at the Cherry Blossoms 2005)

 

Plan for today is just the easy miles, no lifting or extra cross training.  Then library for some research materials and errands and research the rest of the day.  My life is a party, obviously 😉 

 

Tell me something going on in your life right now!

What was your workout yesterday/today?

To do or not to do?

Apparently my phone doesn’t want to send pictures anymore, so I’m out of luck for a few days but I’ll be getting a new phone this weekend and fixing the situation.  Until then, I shall pepper the posts with pictures of very random things.  You’re welcome 😉

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By the way…yesterday I totally forgot it was a rest day roughly an hour after I posted it.  I ate breakfast, put running clothes on and my shoes, and couldn’t find my watch.  Then I realized it was because it was charging because it’s rest day.  I sat on my couch in my running gear reading blogs for the next hour until I got cold and changed.  I was a little cranky about not running…

 

Yesterday I was offered a place on a team for a race and I’m not sure if I should take it.  What’s that? NOT do a race?  Sure doesn’t sound like me.  It’s a Super Spartan and I’ve never done an obstacle course race but I was intrigued because it doesn’t fall too close to other races I’m doing.  Then, I looked it up and it turns out that this particular race is pure evil.  Not Super Spartans in general, this location.  Over 8000 feet of elevation change in 8 miles.  You’re basically just going up and down a gigantic mountain.  And it’s not pleasant elevation apparently, reviews of last year said it’s so steep you can’t run it, and they make you do things like pick up a gigantic log and carry it down then up.  I’m not even sure I can pick up a giant log, much less carry it up and down mountains.  In a regular Spartan I’d be concerned about getting over the wall and stuff like that, this has those obstacles but then others.  It’s an obstacle course on crack.  My teammates would be my buddy Mark, a friend for more than a decade and former competitive skydiver (who took me my first time skydiving!) who is now military, and 2 of his military buddies, including his OTS training officer who also runs mountain ultras.  And then me.  I’m 5’3 and 105 lbs.  And I can’t do a pull-up.  Serious question…is it even possible for me to do such an event?  Will I fail half (or more) of the obstacles and have to do 6 million penalty burpees?  The boys don’t care, they want me on their team, but I’m a competitive little freak and I want to know what I’m getting into.  So if you’ve done a Spartan and have any input on the obstacles, let me have it!  I’ll deal with the mountain climbing nonsense, if anything it should make my rolling hills in my fall races seem like a piece of cake, right? 😉

 

More random photos!

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Today’s workout: MILE REPEATS!!! Yes, that’s false enthusiasm.  It works.  4×1 mile with 2 mile warm up and cool down for a total of 8.  If my legs don’t feel like jello afterward, plyo to make it a truly hard day before taking it super easy tomorrow.

 

Should I do the scary race even if I’m the absolute worst competitor there?

What kind of race would scare you the most?  I think an ocean triathlon would be my worst nightmare (I did mine in a river and would do a lake/river when I do my eventual Ironman) but second is probably these obstacle races, I am NOT physically strong in my upper body.  I’d rather do a 50 miler than lift things and climb ropes. 

Fact (not) Friday

I was going to post this Friday but then Friday was all super busy and Fact Sunday sounds ridiculous.  But I did 10 miles this morning and was obviously dehydrated because I have a post-run headache so rather than come up with something new and save this for next Friday, I’m going to post it today. 

First, though, a little roundup of the first week of Insanity: I’m skipping the cardio recovery days in the program, but doing the rest.  I like the Plyo workout the best, even if it makes my butt hurt like crazy for the next 2 days.  In general, it’s hard without being so hard that I need to take extra breaks and it’s definitely working on areas I need to improve strength-wise, so I think it’s a good fit for getting me into strength training and making me stronger before my spring races.  I’ll definitely update you all with actual statistics on how much I’ve improved when I reach the end of the 60 days.

 

So 5 more random facts about me!

1.  I’m known to some as a picky eater, mostly because I have certain foods I’ll never touch (hotdogs, mushrooms, formerly Chinese and burgers though now I eat those sometimes).  BUT, I’m also a relatively adventurous eater.  Some of the “unique” foods I’ve eaten are alligator, kangaroo (in Australia), bear (in Estonia), wild boar, emu, kudu (in South Africa) and ox.  I bet you’re wondering how these things taste… kangaroo stew was excellent, our kudu was prepared by an amazing chef (hi Ian, you’re the best) and was SO FREAKING GOOD, and fried alligator is awesome but also a lot like popcorn chicken.  Those were my favorites, emu is by far my least favorite and I couldn’t even finish it.

 

2.  I’m a HUGE soccer fan and even though I’m American, because the best soccer is European (duh), I grew up watching the EPL and Italian soccer on the weird channels and have considered myself a Liverpool fan since I was about 7 years old.  I converted my husband to the cause when we met (and lucky him, his first season as a fan saw us win the Champions League, which is the biggest deal ever).  If you ever wondered why our youngest pup, a girl, is named Stevie, it’s because we named her after this superhero:

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He’s the captain of both Liverpool and England and his name is Steven Gerrard, but they call him Stevie G, which is now the name of our little girl.  Our backup name if she didn’t look like a Stevie?  Carragher.  We would have called her Carra for short.  He was a central defender for Liverpool his entire career.

 

3. I have an irrational fear of sharks.  What is irrational about fearing a terrifyingly large creature that can kill you, you ask?  Well, I’m so convinced they want to eat me that I don’t get in water I can’t see through…including lakes and rivers.  Yes, I know there are no sharks in lakes.  But because I’m a genius, I’ve watched every episode of River Monsters and now I know that fish want to kill me too so I’m sorry, there’s just no way I’m getting there.  Clear bodies of water as can be seen in Jamaica and Hawaii only, and very close to shore. 

 

4. Stevie isn’t the only dog with a name that wasn’t just pulled out of a hat of “dog-sounding” names.  Our 7 year old is Slider and I get asked all the time where that comes from.  Despite one or two guesses that he was named after the baseball pitch (ha, no, I hate baseball), a shocking number of people between 25-40 guess this correctly.  Any thoughts, fellow 80s movie lovers? 

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I’ve seen this movie WAYYYYY too many times.  Love it love it love it.  Slider is the name of Iceman’s co-pilot.  He’s most famous for this scene:

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Slider is our little co-pilot in life.  We were going to name our next dog Goose if it was a boy so they would be named after both co-pilots in the movie.  We’re still saving both Goose and Maverick for future pups.  Not sure Iceman is ever gunna happen 😉 

 

5. I love France.  I fell in love with it the first time I went at age 15 and studied abroad there in college in a tiny town in the Alps (I love Paris to death but I’m soooo not a city girl, I couldn’t have spent extended time living in one).  When it came to picking a wedding location, we knew it would be France.  We had an amazing wedding in rural France and spent 10 days there between the lead-up and the wedding before going on our honeymoon.  Best. Decision. Ever.  Here are some pictures I took in the week before the wedding:

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Pet owners: Why did you choose your pet’s name?

Tell me one random fact about you!

Goodbye, 2013!

I’ve seen a bunch of running-related year in review posts on other blogs but I’d like to make this an “everything” year in review instead.  So I’m going to recap my favorite things about 2013 in general, then take a look at goals and plans for 2014 for both life and running. 

 

In 2013, I completed three chapters of my PhD dissertation and the end of the year marks roughly halfway through this whole PhD process.  Getting so much done this year is definitely my biggest accomplishment of 2013 and I hope everything continues to go well so that I can get that degree in hand sooner rather than later!

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We also had Joe’s parents come out to visit for about 5 weeks this summer and my parents were here over Christmas so we got to show both families around and spend time with them which was great, especially now that we live so far away from everyone.

 

In November, I traveled to Ireland to visit a friend from my master’s program and had an         awesome weekend in Dublin with one of my favorite people 🙂 Claire is awesome and you would all love her.  And she totally indulged me walking around for 40 minutes all over these     little alleys because I had heard there were burritos.  There were in fact burritos, and they were delicious. 

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We also traveled to Greece so I got to see the Acropolis (which I’ve always wanted to see but particularly after a Greek architecture elective I took in college) and play on the beach in Mykonos

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On the same trip, we visited Croatia over Joe’s 30th birthday and now I can say Croatia is        definitely one of my favorite places I’ve been.  Plus, we were lucky enough to travel with our good friends who we hadn’t seen in 9 months so it was definitely an incredible trip.

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And we managed a tiny trip to Venice but it’s a city I’ve loved since the first time Joe and I went there back in 2006.  It was fantastic to be back and of course, I had pizza, and it was AMAZING. 

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Those are my highlights 🙂  Progress on my PhD, lots of time with friends and family, and four new countries! (Ireland, Croatia, Greece, and Switzerland…I had already been to Italy)

 

I had no PRs in 2013 because this year marked my comeback to the sport after much time off, mostly due to injury.  So 2014 is ripe for many PRs (hopefully!) and I intend to go get them.  My goals for 2014 are:

-Consistent running aka NO MORE INJURIES!  That means being safe with mileage increases, stretching, and strength training and I really need to work on those last two.  I’d like to aim for 300 days of running this year but I hope it will be much more, just a safe estimate if I can remain healthy.

-Half-marathon under 1:30!

-A good showing on the track in what will be my first outdoor track season

-See more of the world!  I really like to travel and have so many places I’d like to see.  I’d like to see at least one new place in 2014.

-Finish my dissertation 🙂  This would be huge and my goal is to finish in December 2014. 

-Get better at photography.  I really like to take photos, especially when I travel but I have never taken the time to learn much about it and I’m not very good.  I’d like to get a little better this year so I can do some of these amazing experiences justice– I really loved the view of the sun/castle in that photo above in Dubrovnik and it’s my favorite picture I’ve taken but I know in the hands of someone experienced it would be a million times better.  I’m hoping to get only maybe 10x better 😉

 

And for those of you, like me, who didn’t have PRs this year thanks to injury, life taking over, or any reason at all, I leave you this from professional runner and general awesome lady, Shalaya Kipp:

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What were some of your 2013 highlights?

Biggest running-related goal for 2014?

 

 

Another day in Zurich

Got to do a 5 mile fartlek run at my new favorite lake and it was gorgeous

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It was outstanding and the sky was all crazy but the weather was perfect so pretty much the best ever.

 

I’m just going to do the rest with blurbs and photos because this pretty city will speak for itself 🙂 

 

City views on the river

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City view from the top of a hill

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Beautiful church

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Same church in the morning fog from the hill

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View from the top of the church tower!

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Morning view from the top of the city (complete with crazy clouds and light)

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Me walking by the lake in afternoon sun (and yes, I did stick my hand in the lake to see how cold it was…obviously)

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I always climb up towers/churches/mountains when I travel to try and get better vantage points for photos…but I’m not the biggest fan of heights.  In Croatia this summer I massively chickened out halfway up a tower because I just couldn’t handle the rickety metal stairs.         Thankfully, everything in Zurich has felt very stable so I’ve been a little more adventurous 😉

 

Favorite time of day to run given all-day freedom?

Any slight (or severe!) phobias?