06 June 2011


Viaggiatory: The View From Abroad has moved...Check it out at the NEW website!!!

03 June 2011

Summer Jobs, Summer Fun, Summer Heat

My 'vacation' is over and I've been occupying myself with several projects, one of which is my dissertation. Unfortunately for my academic career, the dissertation has taken a back seat to another project that is more interesting to me and will be revealed shortly. Check back tomorrow for more details!

I've also been applying to temporary jobs for the summer. My dreams of idling away this summer were smashed less than an hour after landing on American soil when, on my drive home from BWI, I saw gas being advertised for $4.05. (Parents: sorry for frightening you with my wail of despair.)
In the end, it is for the best that I try to find a temporary job. I haven't had a summer 'free' since I was 12. From ages 13 to 19 I worked as first a camp counselor and then later camp riding instructor and barn manager at Columbia Horse Center. The following summer I took several economics courses at the local community college and served a journalism internship with ATHGO at the World Bank. The next two summers were spent with the Department of State in Arlington and Edinburgh. And now...I am unemployed and drifting. In addition to some 'serious position' applications, I've also filled out a few for the local health food stores, an eco-living store, an organic farm, Colonial Williamsburg, and the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

Confession: I would be more than happy to get a job at the MD Renaissance Festival. When I was 7, my life's ambition was to be a historical re-enactor at Colonial Williamsburg. It could be argued that I fulfilled this goal in my sophomore year at SMCM when I worked at Historic St. Mary's City sorting lead type for the print house, raising flags aboard the Dove, and climbing trees behind Smith's Ordinary in order to hack off an invasive form of ivy growing upon them. And while I long ago abandoned such career goals for more loftier ambitions (foreign correspondent, foreign service officer, analyst to name but a few), I will admit that there is a large part of me that would be chuffed to work at the Ren Fest. Especially since I have attended it every single year since birth. (True fact.)

31 May 2011


Tomorrow is National Running Day! So strap on a pair of trainers, grab a buddy, and go out for a run!

29 May 2011

Running on the Sun (Or in Maryland during the summer)

Here is the post that I know everyone (aka Alex) has been eagerly awaiting: my tips for running in summer.

**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor (obviously), licensed professional, gym trainer, etc. of any kind. (Although the sheer amount of Discovery Health channel (RIP) programming that I watched while in undergrad might suggest otherwise.) The advice I provide derives from my own personal experiences and, let's face it, is pretty commonsensical. Just covering my bases here.**

Having spent the past year training in the cold/mild weather of the UK, it was something of a rude shock to come back to Maryland, where both the temperature and humidity levels have been rising ever higher over the past few weeks. While last year I was able to escape the heat by moving to Edinburgh for the summer (where a 'intolerably hot day' is considered 75F or above), I am going to have to muddle through it this year. Since it does me no good to spend all of my time complaining about the weather, I've decided to share some of my favorite tips for running in the heat. They have helped me in the past and I hope that they will be of use to others. (Don't get me wrong though, I am still going to complain about the heat.)

  • It takes roughly 2-3 weeks to acclimatize to hot weather. Re-adjust your personal goals and times accordingly. 
  • Slow down! As noted above, it takes 2-3 weeks to adjust to hotter weather. Even then, many runners fall into the trap of starting off too fast (i.e. at a 'normal' pace) too soon. Even if it does not feel 'too hot' outside when you start your run, once your core temperature rises due to physical exertion it will feel much warmer. Starting off your run at a slower pace will allow your body to adjust and prevent you from exhausting yourself too soon. 
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!!! I can't stress this enough. It seems like common sense, but when push comes to shove, many runners forget to bring adequate fluids (water, sports drinks, etc.) to support their summer runs. I run into this problem all of the time because many times it seems cool enough outside that I will be able to 'make do' on whatever fluids I imbibed prior to running. Once I get a few miles into the run, however, I almost always regret this decision. How do you combat this problem? Most sports physicians recommend drinking adequate fluid (8-16oz) 30-45 minutes prior to exercise and then 6-8ozs every 10-15 minutes while running. If you absolutely cannot tolerate carrying a water bottle, try a hydration backpack or pre-position water bottles around your running route.
  • Learn to recognize the early signs of dehydration and heat exhaustion. These include: nausea, chills, dizziness, cessation of sweating, disorientation, hallucination. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop immediately, seek a shady area, drink cold water, and rest. Pushing through these symptoms could lead to heat stroke (a condition that requires emergency medical attention). No run (training or race) is worth risking that.
  • Run early or late. These are the times of the day when the temperature and humidity levels are likely to be lower, thus making for a more pleasant run. It also decreases your chances of heat stroke and sunburn. If you must run during the day, try to run along shady routes. 
  • Wear light-colored, moisture-wicking running clothes. Avoid cotton clothing, which soaks up sweat. If you can tolerate it, wear a hat. 
  • Don't forget sunscreen
  • Try alternative forms of exercise to running. Go pool running. Hop on a treadmill. Cross train.
  • Be sensible. If the weather channel has issued a heat advisory (which they usually do for a good reason), don't go for a run. To sound horribly cliche, it is better to be safe than sorry.

**The title of this post refers to the documentary by the same name. It covers the 1999 Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile summer race through Death Valley that ends on a mountain. I highly recommend it!**

Several things:

1. I've applied for another job. I must not like freedom or something. I told myself (and everyone else) that I would RELAX this summer and enjoy my last bit of 'me' time before plunging into the real world. That lasted all of about a week before I submitted my first job application. I'd really really like to get this job, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

2. Being back in Maryland and in the brief 'off' period before I start training for my next marathon, I've been able to get back into barefoot running. It has made me realize just how much I missed running in my Vibrams

3. I experienced the wonder that is the Georgetown Cupcake bakery yesterday. I went down to DC to have dinner/happy hour with my friend Brad and he bought me a cupcake from this famous bakery! (It has it's own show on TLC - the true measure of success). I got a chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache. Delicious.

4.  Alex and I went to Great Sage restaurant in Clarksville, one of Maryland's best vegetarian establishments. I highly recommend it as it was absolutely wonderful. We also saw the Hangover 2. Considering that I hadn't seen Hangover 1, I felt like I missed out on some of the jokes. However, it was not a bad movie, all things considered.

5. Tomorrow I am heading up to Catonsville to run the Patapsco Trail race. The race organizers describe it as 'difficult'. I would consider it 'hellish'. Last year, I finished the race crying due to the sheer number of steep uphills in the 7 mile race. If I don't finish in the same state tomorrow, I'll consider it a success.

Hot weather running tips coming tomorrow! Also: does anyone know what is the easiest/cheapest way to travel around in Canada?

Edit: Just realized that I am seriously going to have to start proof-reading these things. I seem to have developed the annoying habit of picking a word and then reusing it at every possible opportunity. This needs to change ASAP. 

26 May 2011

Since when did Maryland get so hot?

I went for a run around Centennial Lake this morning and almost began to experience complications from the heat halfway through the first 2.5 mile lap. I guess that living in the UK for the past year or so has made me soft. :( They say that it takes about 3 weeks to properly acclimatize to the heat, so I imagine that the next few weeks of running are going to be quite rough indeed. In lieu of this realization, I've decided to refrain from racing in the next few weeks. I'll run the Patapsco Trail Run on Sunday, but that's it. No sense in pushing myself in this heat.

Need some tips for running in the heat? Look for my next post!

Saw this on Pinterest and though it was relevant:


25 May 2011

O' Canada

For much of my life, I've been accused of being a 'secret' Canadian. I'm not, of course, but I take this as a huge compliment. There are not many people who actually dislike the Canadians, except, perhaps the Russians and First Peoples (Don't even get them started on the topic of the Arctic).

I remember one distinct occasion in high school when, in the middle of an audition for the madrigals, the director stopped and asked when I had moved to the US. 'Er...at birth?' I replied, confused as to what exactly he meant. 'Are your parents Canadian then? Because you've got quite the Canadian accent.' Cue awkward pause after I told him that they were not and that I had never been to Canada. To confirm: I've never been to Canada. Neither of my parents are from Canada. I don't have any friends from Canada. I don't watch large amounts of Canadian television. Nope, my 'Canadian' accent has developed on its own accord. Who knows where it comes from? Such scenarios have been the norm throughout most of my adolescence and have occurred even as recently as this past April.

Of course, the accent isn't quite as strong as it used to be, no doubt from having been diffused during my time living abroad. I pick up accents quite easily and occasionally slip into different accents depending on my mood. In fact, on one memorable occasion in senior year of college, I slipped into a Scottish accent without knowing it while giving a presentation. I became increasingly flustered as I watched my classmates expressions change into ones of confusion, believing it to be due to some mistake on my part. It was only later after the class had ended that a friend approached me and asked if my change in accent had been intentional (I was discussing a 14th century plague outbreak in Scotland, after all) that I discovered what had happened. Thankfully, this only happened a few times when I was in Edinburgh in April and not when I was in London since it would have proven quite embarrassing for me. I don't do it on purpose, I swear!

Anyway, a few of you may be aware that I have been studying Scottish Gaelic since my senior year of high school when my Dad and I visited Oban. I fell in love with the language and, despite the fact that my progress is limited at best, have been trying to learn it. I actively began studying it again last summer while in Edinburgh and was able to have a few (basic) conversations with people when I was on Mull and Iona in August. Attending grad school this past year meant that my skills dropped off considerably. However, since my mission this summer is to learn how to relax again, I've decided to pick it up again. (Side note: How can someone forget how to relax? Is that even possible? Well, apparently it is possible since I've spent the past week at home not being able to simply sit down and enjoy life. My idea of relaxing has been to go running, which isn't actually all that relaxing. Go figure.)

So what is the purpose of this post? Mainly to announce my intention to go to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia this summer, home of the largest number of Scots Gaelic speakers in North America. I spent my 22nd birthday (my best birthday ever) in Edinburgh, Scotland and so it is only fitting that I spend birthday number 23 in the 'Scotland of North America' - Cape Breton Island. What does Cape Breton have to offer? An entire fiddle school (omg!), native gaelic speakers, hiking, cycling, ceilidhs, and scenery like this:

Is that awesome or what? I think I'm sold. All that's left is to pick a date, find a way to get up there, and figure out where on earth my camping gear has gone. (I've a sneaking suspicion that it may have been 'borrowed' by my Dad's Boy Scout troop...in which case I will never see it again.)