Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Back to the real world

Traveling is one of my absolute favorite things to do.  I just got back from a 10-day overseas vacation (southern Spain; Tangier, Morocco; and Paris).  The travels were very enjoyable – lots and lots of walking;  great local culture, architecture, fine arts, and food; and opportunities to see everyday things from a completely different perspective.

Stop sign in Morocco

It was definitely nice to come home, though.  I am temporarily seeing my home city of Chicago through different eyes - and to me, that's one of the best reasons to travel.  Traveling helps you appreciate where you are when you are NOT traveling.

A few thoughts/recap details:

Vacation Runs 
I only went running twice during the trip, both times while in Spain.  The runs were on extremely hilly terrain, almost comparable to San Francisco-like hills. 

Southern Spain

My first run on those hills was brutally slow and ugly.  But then, the second hill run already felt noticeably better, which was very motivating.  I can definitely see how hill training can be incredibly beneficial.  Believe it or not, I now wish there were some real hills in Chicago because I would have loved to keep the hill-training momentum going. 

Maybe I will willingly do some more treadmill hill-simulations after all.  Seriously.  Getting started is always the hardest part, right?

Vacation Health Maintenance
One of the double-edged swords of traveling is having much less control over your food intake.  I thoroughly enjoy partaking in the local foods in any destination - it’s all part of the experience!  However, unfortunately local food frequently does not equate to healthy or well-balanced food.  In the past 10 days I’ve probably eaten three months’ worth of bread and potatoes, but probably only about two days’ worth of fruits and vegetables.  I can literally feel the food pyramid gods wreaking havoc right now. 

WARNING: Within the next 24 hours, I will singlehandedly be purchasing the entire inventory of all produce markets (excluding the asparagus) within a 7-mile radius of my home, my office, and my local plumber’s union, respectively. 

"Emily was here." 
Home refrigeration capacity be darned.
Beyond not maintaining my usual running or eating habits while on vacation, I also did not maintain my physical therapy routine and I did no yoga or weight training at all.  It’ll be interesting to see how my wonky knee and hip respond.  At the very least, though, I feel much fresher mentally and I am very excited to get myself back on track.

Speaking of which, I met up with Kim today and we had lunch at Native Foods Cafe, a vegan restaurant.  It was a blast!  Great food and even better company!  And also a great way to get myself back on track with better eating habits!

Kim taught me some iPhone camera shortcuts that made this picture possible (thanks, Kim!)

Vacation-Induced Circadian Rhythms
I hope to take advantage of my jetlag in a good way.  I’ve always wanted to go running in the early morning before work, but it is quite a struggle for me to wake up early enough to do so.  Usually when the early-morning alarm clock goes off, I look at it and think, “Yeah, that’s pretty cool.”  Then I’ll close my eyes for 5 minutes, only to find out that somehow within those five minutes an hour has passed by.  How does this happen? 

Looking beyond alarm clock tales from the crypt, this jetlag helps me wake up ridiculously early on my own accord.  This morning I was up and at 'em at 4:30 AM, so today I managed to get in a 10K run before going to work (something I've never done before in my life, ever!)

It was really nice to get my run out of the way so early.  It would be especially helpful to be able to consistently do this in the summertime when the daytime temps will be soaring.  Here's hoping that this jetlag boost will get me on the right track towards consistent early-morning productivity!

(NOTE: Jetlag may result in heightened ambitiousness.  Side effects such as oversleeping early-morning alarm clocks may occur simultaneously and without warning.  While jetlag-induced, you should not make goals you likely cannot maintain.)


  1. I am travelling viacriously through you! How fun!

    I also suffer from the "5 minutes mysteriously turns into an hour" phenomenon. I used to be so good at getting up early! Now? Not so much...

    1. Isn't it amazing how it happens only early in the morning, too? Then it's just the opposite whenever you're doing something boring like reading up on cost accounting measures (purely hypothetical).

      I personally prioritize sleep over working out! =P Therefore, I really do admire anyone that EVER gets up early in the morning to run or work out!!!

  2. What a world traveler! It sounds like you had a fantastic time, and I'm glad you are back!*

    1. Thanks so much, Amy! It is very, very nice to be home. I enjoyed catching up on all your blog posts when I got back, too - CONGRATULATIONS again on your new teaching position!!!

  3. Ha hahahah - I love your note at the end. You totally crack me up! :)

    You know, if you ever go back to visit your parents there are some hills out here I can introduce you to!

    Usually after days away from home I am dying for some fresh produce! I hope you get your pyramid back in order soon ;)

    Will we get to see more travel pics?

    Loved meeting you! Can't wait to do it again! :)

    1. Thanks so much, Kim! =D

      I had no idea there were any hills out in the northern suburbs. Now I am very curious, please do share! I'll let you know the next time I'm in the area!

      Isn't it amazing how much we start craving fresh produce after a few days? As a child I never thought those words would ever come out of my mouth (or keyboard), you too?

      I will eventually share more travel pics, I tend to get lazy about the actual process of uploading them all from my camera onto the computer (and in doing so I know I'm pretty much asking the universe to make me learn the hard way about backing those photos up so I don't lose them...bad, I know!)

      I loved meeting you, too, and also can't wait to meet up again very soon! (I am already looking at the Native Foods Menu to see what I want to try next, as well!) =D