Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dream On

In a previous post of mine I wrote about my pre-race nightmares. When I have these dreams I do well in my races. It's when I don't have them that I do poorly. So far I have had four pre-race dreams before the Munich Marathon. The weird thing was that most of them were six months before the race, right around the time I decided I wanted to run Munich. Judging by the number of pre-race dreams that I have had so far, I should do well in Munich next month.

All sorts of things have happened to me in my pre-race nightmares: I have missed the start of a race, I have come in dead last, I finished after everything from the race had been cleaned up, I have gotten lost (usually combined with being all alone on the race course), I ran on courses that went through buildings or other strange places, I had no idea where the race start was, I was stuck in a long line to register for a race mere minutes before the start, I couldn't find my race gear or clothing, I ran on courses that were more like mazes than road races, I was supposed to race with a partner who was sleeping and wouldn't wake up, and I wore inappropriate clothing to races. In other words, anything that could have gone wrong in a race usually did in my dreams. I have run through houses, parks, castles, museums, construction zones, and even the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse at Disneyland. If only some of the real courses I have run on were that interesting.

Just when I thought that I had experienced every bizarre possiblilty in a pre-race dream, I had a totally new dream experience earlier this week. Here's what happened. I was at the beach with my husband and son. There was a marathon taking place at this beach. But there was no set start or finish time. The runners could start and finish anytime they wanted to. The catch was that the race was through the water to an island with a lighthouse on it and then back to the start. I decided to run this marathon. I was dressed in running shorts and a shirt with a race number on my shirt. I was barefoot. I took a big inner tube (it was the one that we bought in Italy for using in the water) and got into the center of it. Then I walked into the water to start the race. I ran on a hard, narrow ridge, which was supposed to be the race course. Imagine that ridge being like the plates on the back of a Stegosaurus. I ran in the middle of the inner tube on that ridge for a ways. Suddenly the ridge disappeared and there was nothing for me to run on. Yikes! I could tell that the water was over my head. There was only one thing to do--turn back to the shore and forget about doing the race. I turned around but couldn't find the ridge that I was running on before. It seemed to take forever just to move a couple of  meters in the water. Then I woke up.

It's good to see that after over 20 years of having pre-race nightmares, something new can happen. My dream a few days ago was the first one in which I ran in the ocean. That's what makes my pre-race dreams so fun. I never know what is going to happen in them or where I will end up. I hope that as long as I keep racing I will continue to dream on.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Speedo Land

I just returned from a week on the beach in northern Italy. We were all originally supposed to stay for two weeks. But the weather report for the second week called for bad weather (cool, overcast, and rainy). Since Bibione is an outdoor place, we thought it best to cut the trip short and head home. The main thing to do in Bibione is to go to the beach. The beach isn't much fun in the rain.

After looking at all of the people on the beach in Bibione, I think it should be renamed, "Speedo Land." It seemed like just about every man on the beach was wearing a Speedo swimsuit. Only a very small percentage of men should be wearing Speedos: Olympic divers, Olympic swimmers, and men with the classic marathoner's build. Unfortunately, 99% of the Speedo wearers on the beach in Bibione would never pass for an Olympic diver. They were more like the Italian guys who sat a few rows ahead of us on the beach with big bellies and 1970s disco era type gold chains, or else they were part of the over-65 set. There was even one guy who tucked the back of his Speedo into his butt crack to make it like a thong. Looking at that guy's butt was harder on the eyes than watching an Aly Raisman floor exercise routine. That old saying, "The bigger the belly, the smaller the Speedo" is true.  After having a baby, I realized that my bikini wearing days were over despite all of my running and sit-ups. Maybe the guys in Speedos just don't care because they realize that once their holiday is over, they'll never see the other people on the beach again.

The water on the beach was very warm and shallow a long way out. We could walk out about 200 meters from the shore and still be able to stand. Even though the Adriatic was warm, it was still very refreshing after being out in the hot sun. The only down side was that we had to watch out for jellyfish.

Italian TV has a lot of channels. But it seemed like at least 50% of them were devoted to football (soccer). When one of the football channels wasn't broadcasting a replay of  the previous weekend's matches from Italy, Spain, England, or France, it was doing a feature on a football team or interviewing players or a trainer. It was TV heaven for my son, who's a big football fan. He didn't care that everything was in Italian. In fact, he decided that he could learn some Italian by watching football matches.

Bibione has grown since the last time I was there, which was about 10 years ago. The path along the beach used to end just at the outskirts of town. I used to be able to run from my apartment, to one end of the path, to the other end of the path, and back to the apartment in about 30 minutes. On this trip I ran out  one way 30 minutes and still hadn't reached the trail's end. There are also two parallel trails: one for pedestrians and the other for cyclists.

Early morning is when all of the runners come out. The last time I was in Bibione, I felt like I was the only runner out on the beach in the early morning. Maybe it had something to do with going later in September on my previous trips.  But on this trip it seemed like between the hours of 7 and 8 a.m. runners and walkers owned the pedestrian path on the beach. My fellow runners and I were out early to beat the heat. There were male and female runners of all ages on the pedestrian path. The Germans were the ones with the pasty white skin and the Italians had more olive-colored skin. But both the Germans and Italians wore dark socks. They must have thought I was an oddity in my off-white Thor-Los. I saw one man wearing a City Run shirt, but it was from the one in Nuernberg. There was also an older woman running in a bikini.

The ice cream in Bibione was to die for. Italians make the world's best ice cream. Every flavor I had was excellent and I couldn't pick a favorite. There was an ice cream shop about 50 meters from our apartment and we went there every night either before or after dinner. That particular shop had its standard flavors, but each day there were some new and different flavors. I wish I could have stayed longer just to be able to sample all of the various ice cream flavors. I have always believed that ice cream should be its own food group. But real Italian ice cream should be a part of everyone's daily diet.

It's a good thing I brought my running gear with me and went running every other day for between 40 and 60 minutes. Otherwise I would have had to buy a Speedo.