Excuses for traveling: the marathon

USA Today published a list of 10 warm-weather winter marathons, and reading the article got me thinking about how running a marathon makes a great excuse to travel. My friend went to Paris because she chose the Paris Marathon on a whim, and the Honolulu Marathon has been whispering my name for a few winters now.

I’ve considered training for a “vacation marathon” before; I figure the training will keep me in shape through the Alaskan winter, and I’ll get to visit someplace warm and maybe actually feel somewhat attractive in a bikini (running a minimum of 30 miles a week helps the bikini bod).

But there are a few potential problems to consider before you start busting out your Sunday long runs. For me, the biggest problem is training in cold weather and trying to race in warm weather. I don’t know the science of it, but what I do know is that in the past few years I’ve started overheating whenever I go for a run at my parents’ home in Seattle. Seattle. I can’t imagine how my body would respond to the heat of the tropics or the desert.

My other problem involves training in Alaska. Sometimes the weather here in Seward just plain sucks. The mere thought of having to put in a 15-mile run at any time during last week’s freezing rain downpour is enough to keep me safely tucked in my cozy bed with my laptop and some Sex and the City DVDs.

Of course, surviving winter up here generally requires you to force yourself to exercise, so the goal of a vacation marathon has the double result of keeping you in shape while rewarding you with a warm vacation. Unfortunately, I didn’t get myself motivated early enough and at this point I’m not sure I could start a hardcore training regime. So for me this year, it looks like a 5-miler in Florida over Christmas vacation and a lot of step-aerobics at the gym.

Maybe I’ll run that marathon next winter.

Bicycling in Paris: A New Version of this Option

Perhaps hopping on a bicycle to enter Paris in the Tour de France is not probable, but it is possible to hop on a bicycle for an alternative way to travel in Paris. Angela Doland, in an Associated Press article, presents what you need to know about a new bicycle rental program in Paris. The interesting thing about this version of transportation is that you don’t rent a bike for a day to ride around, but rent a bike to get from one point to another. Let’s say you want to go to the Louvre, but after that you want to head to a restaurant too far away to cycle to. You just drop off the bike and hop on a Metro. You don’t ever have to go get that bike again.

The bicycles are at various bike stations so if, later, you want another bike, you can get one. The draw back I see is that these are only available for people 14 and older and at least 5 feet tall. This makes this not an option for a family with kids. Because the bikes are the touring type and the seats adjust, they can fit a multitude of body types. They also come with locks, however you need to bring your own helmet. In the photograph with the article I read, people aren’t wearing helmets, so perhaps they are not required. Another thing I noticed was how cheap it is to rent a bicycle. A day pass costs roughly $1.36 except I’m a bit confused if that’s correct. Doland mentions that if you are going to keep a bicycle for more than a day, it’s cheaper to rent from a by-the-day estabishment. Maybe I’m missing something. Check out www.velib.paris.fr. for a list of the various bike stations. The site’s not in English yet.

Other cities the article lists with similar cycling programs are:

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Brussels, Belgium,
  • Copenhagan, Denmark
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Vienna, Austria