Travel Running: After all the Mediterranean Meals!

My trip to Israel for the 2015 Jerusalem Marathon was sponsored by the Israel Ministry of Tourism. All options listed below are my own.

If you have any hesitations about traveling to any part of Israel, or probably anywhere on the Mediterranean Sea, let the following words and pictures reassure you it’s worth the trek if only to spoil your appetite for good. Our 6-day agenda was packed with historic sites, running and various other experiences, but at the end of the day we probably spent about half of our time eating.

Israel Museum Lunch

The majority of our trip was spent in the city of Jerusalem, but we ended on a high note in Tel Aviv. Our days often looked like this:

Breakfast

Prima Kings Hotel Buffet – this was no continental breakfast. The buffet had entire sections dedicated to salads, fruit, various egg options (hard-boiled, scrambled, salad, mini-quiche, etc), granola + mixed nut station, fresh breads and pastries, and all the beverages. You could also order cappuccino or lattes if preferred.

One morning we headed over to the Mamilla Hotel for breakfast, and their buffet options also included fresh juices, such as apple celery and mint + a beet variation. No skimping on the fruits or vegetables here!

On our last day in the country, we enjoyed a night and morning in Tel Aviv via the 5-star Carlton Hotel. This breakfast spread trumped the others – maybe because the restaurant sat beautifully on the water or maybe because most of us had run that morning (or were recovering from 26.2 hilly miles) and were ready to put it down – and this was just the first round:

Carlton Hotel Tel Aviv Breakfast

We were never under-fueled to start the day.

Lunch

The midday meal is often the largest here, and that took a little stomach-adjusting for most of us. The first picture above is an example of what most tables were already armed with when we sat down – just a little starter next to a basket of fresh pita bread and usually dipping oil. What would follow: anywhere from 3 – 10 more courses! I wasn’t counting, but I’m not sure we could’ve kept up anyway. Sometimes we would order our preference for the “main course”, which usually caught us off-guard because we would have already indulged in the 8 courses before that. Everything was served tapas-style and would just keep coming.

On Thursday I opted to have the “grilled fish” as my “entree” and I learned a very important lesson: ask questions first. An example may be: has the fish been beheaded? Just wondering…

Adom Jerusalem Lunch

I had to put a napkin over the head to have any chance of keeping this down.

The shock of my week: I didn’t have falafel until Sunday afternoon! During our last day, we toured and explored the city of Jaffa, which is on the edge of Tel Aviv. Our guide finally let us indulge in the Americans’ must-have and took us to a famous Jaffa bakery’s sister restaurant. We couldn’t have been happier to stuff our stomachs with more carbs:

Jaffa Mediterranean coast Jaffa falafel lunch

These hearty lunches were always followed by small desserts – just enough to stuff you and keep the stomach happy until…

Dinner

We dined at top-rated restaurants such as Eucalyptus and J’oy Meat In while in Jerusalem; we were seated at one of the only eateries open after sun-down on Friday evening, with a delicious Lebanese spread; we enjoyed tapas and paella at Vicky Cristina’s in Tel Aviv, complimented with sparkling Rose and Champagne for the table.

J'oy Meat In Dinner Jerusalem

We did not go to bed hungry or thirsty, I assure you.

Tel Aviv Dinner

Every meal was full of variety and catered to any type of dietary preference; a few times we had to mention that that were a few vegetarian + Kosher diners in the group, and everyone was gracious and generous with accommodations.

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We were all sure we’d leave the country 5lbs heavier, but I don’t feel any different than when I arrived. The only thing I know now is that with three full and balanced meals, you don’t need snacks in between. And when you spend the day touring and exploring vs. sitting and working, you burn right through that energy! I also know that Israel knows how to eat well, and I’d go back for the food and drink alone.

I can’t speak for everyone, but all the fuel seemed to translate to hill-power during the run, and sufficiently spoiled me. By the time I was served breakfast on the airplane I wondered where my soy latte, fresh omelet and fruit bar had disappeared to.

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Travel Running: Jerusalem (1/2) Marathon 2015

At the beginning of February I received an invitation from the Israel Ministry of Tourism to run the Jerusalem Marathon with a Press group. Attached at the bottom of this e-mail was a full itinerary outlining all of the places you would want to see in the country, crammed into six days. I would leave two days after the wedding, with his full support. Yep, I’m in!

Our “North American” press group was about 15 people, give or take as we had some come and go throughout the week, and we mostly arrived on Tuesday. This allowed plenty of time to adjust to the time change (+9 hours for us west coasters) and also to tour the city of Jerusalem before we ran all around it! Our itinerary covered most of the highlights before we stepped up to the starting line, which meant some of the kilometers (no mile markers here!) actually looked familiar.

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A little bit about the Jerusalem Marathon…

25,000 runners registered – four distances offered ranging from 5 – 42.2k!
2,500 runners represented over 60 countries!
The Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Bakat, ran the half-marathon.
This is only the 5th year of the race & it’s growing quickly!
It is one of the best organized and designed races I’ve run to-date!

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Since we were part of the Press, we got our own tent to camp out in before the race started! This also meant we had some extra snacks, a place to store our gear and a first look at the Finishing line area.

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A few of us opted to run the half-marathon – there’s no way I could have been 26.2-ready in 5 weeks, and I thought it’d be nice to have walking capabilities for the remainder of the trip. Both before and after the race I was happy with this decision; as it turns out, Jerusalem is no friend to flat running! Scanning the course elevation chart for a flat section is like  looking for a stretch of low altitude while climbing a Colorado 14-er. Not gonna happen. We received multiple friendly warnings from the PR crew, veteran runners and the city itself as we toured around in the days prior. This course is not for the faint of quads!

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Sharon, Kim, Lorraine & I gearing up for 13.1 miles!

Thinking about a half-marathon as 21 kilometers instead of 13 miles was the first thing that distracted my mind. I ran without music but with my camera at-the-ready to take many pics! While the endless hills will challenge you in every way, you’ll soon find yourself too distracted to care much. With every up comes a stunning view, with every down comes the glorious feeling of flight. It all balances out.

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My mind found entertainment and awe at every angle: meeting a pair of runners there from San Francisco (oh, hey!), running through now-familiar stretches of the city, passing our hotel, stopping through neighborhoods that bare local shops and restaurants, and looking left and right at views like this (see above). We ran through the Old City on historic cobblestone, up to the Promenade for a breathtaking 360* outlook, through multiple neighborhoods, along a running path and up, down, up and then down again. At one point I saw a sign pointing to “Bethlehem”, which almost tempted me to veer off course.

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We had perfect race-day conditions – sunny with a high of 60* – and the course was well-supported with aid stations, music, cheerers and free food! (We hear the marathoners had a hummus station!) I miraculously remembered to pack my handheld water-bottle, and was lucky enough to snatch up some Sport Beans from Sharon. I wasn’t sure how the “Isotonic” electrolyte race-drink would settle, so I got sodium and sugar from jelly beans instead.

I had every intention of taking it “easy” throughout the race so I could enjoy the views, the culture, the city and the fact that WHOA-I’m-running-an-international-race! But, I assure you, there is no taking it easy here. You’ll be in awe through every kilometer, but your cardio system will not be relaxed. It’s okay. Roll with it. Use the downhills and don’t you try to walk on the ups!

Twice I started to take a little break to ease up on the legs, and twice I was immediately encouraged by racers around me to “Keep going!” After which, I took a look around and realized something very noteworthy of the Jerusalem running community: nobody walks. My pace/corral/what-have-you was full of people who were all like these hills got nothin’ on me. Tough crowd, yo.

After one loooooong lovely incline, we were finally close to the end. The finish line was in sight! I hit a pothole and went down (that’s a first!), popped right back up and crossed the 21.1 KM mark. With a water bottle & medal in-hand, I went straight for “Medical” to get things cleaned up. That’s another first.  Once I was bandaged, I stepped out of the tent and faced what can only be described as a Finisher’s PARTY.

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With most of the Expo vendors back for more, this zone was ablaze with energy, gear on sale, food, tons of music and a great crowd.

2015-03-13 01.01.39 At the end of the kilometers, I was exhausted, a little bloody and completely elated to have just run through an incredible city. I would recommend this to any and all looking to add to their traveling + running adventures, no doubt. It was extremely well 0rganized and it’s an amazing way to see this city on foot!

2015 Jerusalem 1/2 Marathon
1:56 – AG: 46 / 347    Overall W: 78/795

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Check out my travel buddies + bloggers for the full marathon report!

Beth – Shut Up & Run
Teresa – Eat Drink & Be Skinny
Adam – Run Haven
Dax –  Dirty Running

Full disclosure: My trip to Israel and Jerusalem Marathon registration were paid for by the Israel Ministry of Tourism but all opinions and race experiences reported above are my own!

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Coming up: Our post-race trip to the Dead Sea & Tel Aviv, some of the best food in the Mediterranean and the best people to travel with!

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Wedding Teaser & Jerusalem Travels

Hello from the other side of the world! On Monday I hopped on three different planes which eventually landed me in Tel Aviv, Israel. Our days are jam-packed with historic sites, museums, running and ALL THE FOOD. (We’re slowly learning to pace ourselves through 10 course meals.)

Yesterday we toured the Tower of David; today the Old City of Jerusalem, walking the 14 points on the Via Dolorosa and ending at the Western Wall.  We had lunch and a guided tour of the world-renowned Israel Museum and ended with dinner on the Mamilla Mall. More to come….

But just two days before my jaunt across the Atlantic Ocean, we had a dream wedding weekend – perfect weather, lots of love and the best people we know, and a wedding that went off without a single hitch. My head and heart are still floating, and in denial that it all went by so quickly. Until better wifi..and the real photos from our amazingly talented photographer, the lovely Kelci, arrive,  just this.

Wedding hidden valley music 1

Hidden valley music wedding 3.7

 

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March Madness: Jerusalem & Canyonlands 1/2-Marathons

The quest to run at least one race per month continues (Jan, Feb), but March is totally throwing down the gauntlet and being like, THAT’S what’s up, y’all. In the span of 15 days I will have run two half-marathons on two continents;  a personal feat I never had on my bucket list, but will be accomplished nonetheless.

I have no idea how I so epically lucked out, but the stars decided to align so perfectly that my feet will be touching down in Asia for the first time. (Ignore the fact that two days after we get hitched, I’m jetting out of the country. He understands wanderlust and adventuring; we’re good!) Once that sinks in, I’ll be running the Jerusalem (1/2) Marathon for my first international race. And once that sinks in, I’ll actually be sinking my legs into the Dead Sea for a little recovery + cloud-9 floating.

jerusalem-marathon-2015
Image source.

To say this is a surreal opportunity is an understatement. To be honest, I had no idea there was a Jerusalem Marathon, but it seems like thousands of runners were a few strides ahead of me in their international race adventuring. To feed my wanderlust, there was no way I was passing this one up. More to come!

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Once that adventure wraps up, we’re heading to Utah! He’s never seen southern Utah or the Grand Canyon, and I never turn down a chance to gallivant around the Southwest and get back to my roots. We’re capping the trip with flights + nights in Vegas, because it’s direct from here and he doesn’t turn down a chance to hit the strip (we’re different in that way… #notmyfavorite).

In the middle of this back n’ forth, we’ll set up camp in Moab, UT for a few days to run through the Canyonlands and hike around the National Parks in the area.  A few teammates will be there, so it’s a TAD family affair!

Canyonlands Half-marathon
Image Source.

By the time we get back from all of the above, April will be creeping up and it’ll be time to start picking a distance to fill that month’s box!

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Joy is…(Wedding Things Edition)

Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.  – Marianne Williamson

To any and all who have planned a wedding/ life event, no matter what size or destination, you know this week is filled with all the brain chaos! Every single contingency runs through your head at least 50 times; the mental dream of things running perfectly smooth is elusive. But at the root of this mind-screw is, hopefully, a feeling of joy you’ve yet to fully experience.

Life is about to change, in a BIG way. You’re about to partner up with your favorite person in this world, for life. And that never actually seems to feel “real”. (At least not yet…)

Before I know it, this week will have come and gone oh so quickly, I’ll have put a ring on him and life moves on! So, until then…

Joy is…

…bringing your East coast + Midwest friends and family into the California sunshine for the weekend! You’re welcome, guys. We love you.

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….involving great friends in the process, and being like whoa, our friends are really f-ing talented. (As seen below, thanks to The Paper Vault!)

H and M Invite front

….finding a catering company that operates their own micro-farm and uses these love-grown vegetables to fire up their “live grill!” at every event. Yes, we’ll have that.

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….the phenomena of  people from all of your different life circles gathering in one place, at one time. And knowing this only happens once.

…the potential of  photos like these to add to the best-life-people virtual scrapbook. Kelci, your job will be easy! These are willing subjects.

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jasonIMG_2252 Cozumel Captainsstmichaels_headstands 
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Hellyer Half_Running Together

At the end of the day, the joy is simply in knowing I get to run
life’s biggest adventure yet
with this guy.

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