Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Decisions, decisions

As the end of summer nears, I have been frantically organizing travel arrangements for two separate family-related trips as well as preparing for fall term in Rome. I’m getting plenty of travel crammed into the next six weeks, but apparently I have a need to do a bit more.

This November I will be turning the big 3-0. Not only is it a milestone birthday in its own right, but it is also my champagne birthday. That just makes it doubly important to celebrate in style.

Having spent the majority of the last ten years in academia, I have not often had the opportunity to celebrate my birthday properly. Occurring at the ass end of November, the day is inconveniently wedged between American Thanksgiving and the end of term. More often than not, I’ve had to work on the day either writing up a paper or two or cramming for exams. After the last day of the semester, I go out with a bunch of friends to celebrate an end of term bash combined with a group birthday party for all us late November / early December birthday people.

This year, I’d like to change that. I want to be utterly selfish and make it all about me, me, me. On that note, I’d like to ensure that it is a memorable occasion.

One of my CB buddies celebrated her 30th atop the Eiffel Tower. My sister partied hard in Miami for an extended weekend for hers. I’ve narrowed it down to one of two things:

1) Travel to somewhere I’ve never been before


2) Do something memorable on or near the day

What I have yet to look into so far is airline ticket prices, which sadly is the primary factor in deciding what to do and where to go, especially since my sister Z and my best friend Ellen want to fly out and celebrate with me. But for the moment, let’s ignore that aspect and focus on what would be the most fun to do.

Z, Ellen and I have discussed a bit about which places we’d like to go to for a few days. We originally had a list of 20 or so places then whittled it down to five. They are: Sicily, Corsica, Spain, Malta and northern Italy.

All five are good options, with plenty of sites to visit, good food to eat and a plethora of ways to just relax and enjoy ourselves. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Spain before (Madrid and Barcelona), but I have always regretted never making it to Corduba. As for northern Italy, I’ve never had the chance to properly explore Venice and I’ve never been to Ravenna, so I could easily envision that being a worthwhile trip too. If you all want to weigh in with your favorites, please do so.

Funnily enough, the possibilities for Option #2 are running-related...and would require me to travel anyway. Score! Here are the possibilities I have to date:

1) Half marathon in Cyprus (BONUS: Never been to Cyprus)

2) Florence Marathon (BONUS: Happens on my actual birthday & the course is downhill for the first two miles then flat the rest of the way)

3) Athens Marathon (BONUS: I would like to complete this someday in honor of my paternal heritage)

I can tell you right off the bat that #3 ain’t gonna happen. Possibly never too. Not only is it on November 9th, preventing me from properly training for it, but it is also uphill for the first 18 miles. No way, Jose!

#2 is rather a pipe dream too, I think. I’m racing in my first half marathon on August 31st leaving me only three months to recover from that and then train for a marathon. Half of me would like to wait probably another year before running a marathon—primarily to gain confidence in my running but also to better reach my arbitrarily chosen goal of kicking Oprah’s former marathon-running ass. Her time was just shy of 4:30. I couldn’t make that this year even if I prayed to every god known to man and could somehow leach the running talent out of Ryan Hall’s legs. (Voodoo perhaps? I’ll look into it.)

I know I will be able to run the half mary in Cyprus, so it’s not the distance that makes it of note, but rather the exotic locale. Granted November is not typically beach-going weather in the Mediterranean, but there are still plenty of archaeological wonders to view on the island and we can still have a lie-out on the beach, though no swimming.

Which overall option should I go with? Are there other places/activities I should consider? Let me know in the comments. I’m still in the beginning hope-filled stage of brainstorming, so I’ll worry about the harsh financial realties a little later. For now, let me dream.

Ci vediamo dopo. (See you later)


Anonymous said...

Sooooo living vicariously as I nudge ever nearer to the big four-oh.

My opinion? Whatever you do will be memorable.

I know.

I'm no help....


Marcy said...

Oh my gawd, I can't even tell you how jealous I am! Ohhhhh the life. Instead I will be stuck with these 2 banshees watching Boobah or some crappy shiz like that :P I unfortunately have to wait until I'm in my "retirement" years to travel as I please *sigh* Whatever you choose, you just better take a lot of pics!! I will live through you ;-)

Viper said...

Running my first half gave me the confidence to run my first full the same year. And you probably only need a week or so to recover and go back to training. A full is probably doable. That said, go for the half in Cyprus. Sounds pretty awesome and there's no point in adding stress by feeling rushed to train for a marathon. I think that's more than two cents, but there you have it.

Lily on the Road said...

I say go for Florence, *actual birthday*, *down hill and flat*, *won't be hotter than Hades*, and you can use your August Half as a training may curtail the Champagne celebrations a little though...

Cyprus sounds kinda neat too...if I'm doing two back to back halfs, Cyprus would be a peice of *birthday cake* for you....


Wait for ME in 2009!!! LMAO!!! JK!!

RazZDoodle said...

go with the option/opportunity that you'll be kicking yourself if you DON'T do it. It's your 30th. CELEBRATE DAMNIT!

BTW, I agonized over the same thing 'cept I had to decide between Lincoln and Des Moines. Thhhppbbbtttt!

N.D. said...

The super celebration sounds necessary. I vote for Florence. 3 months from a half, you can totally do a marathon.

tfh said...

The Florence marathon would be pretty spectacular...and you know what, you don't have to beat Oprah's time the FIRST TIME around. But your other options aren't too shabby either!

Running Knitter said...

I would go with Cyprus. You will have done the distance before, and you'll be somewhere you've never been. I'm so jealous!

Laura said...

Florence sounds like the coolest one to me. Your first marathon? On your birthday? In a foreign country? That would be TOTALLY amazing.

Mark Salinas said...

Cyprus definitely!

Kevin said...

I say go for florence. Its downhill, flat, its your birthday, and 3 months is plenty time to go from half to full

Meg said...

I'm so jealous you have so many amazing options!
I'd kind of lean towards Cyprus if it will be considerably warmer than Florence. That just sounds more celebratory and you can enjoy your birthday more without the stress of your first marathon. Though, I've heard amazing things about Florence and everyone else presents some great reasons for that choice! I know Venice isn't on your possible race list, but I was there last year around the same time, and it is a little chilly (though warmer than the NE US at the same time of year), and I don't know how many days of things to do you'll find. Still, it was beautiful and unique!
Ugh, I don't think I have any advice, but I'm pretty sure you won't regret any of those options!

Reid said...

My vote is for Florence. Your half would be perfect for building up to a full marathon. What better way to boost your confidence than going for it now. But really, you can't go wrong with any of these choices.

P.O.M. said...

You have some fantastic options my dear! And I'm sure with a best friend in tow, anything you do will be fun. (I went wine tasting in Santa Barbara with my sister and best friends for my 30th.)

RunnerGirl said...

I think all the options sound pretty darn amazing, seems like you can't go wrong!

BeachRunner said...

Oh to be 30 again and have such awesome options. Whatever you choose to do will surely be memorable. Enjoy!

Laura Marie said...

no way?!? Marathon in Athens? I NEED to do that! I studied abroad in Athens 2 years ago for a semester and my roommate ran it. In fact, our school was right next to where they finished at the Olympic Stadium. It was unbelievable to watch. Plus, Greece is an AMAZING country. Planning to go back next year.

Merry said...

Um... 'half Mary'???
Not sure I like that phrase ;)

Jenn N Butter said...

First, you are doing my all time dream job. I always wanted to be an archaeologist.

Second, run the Florence marathon. I think you would do just fine and like someone else said, you don't have to run a perfect race, just being there and doing it will be amazing.

Third, my 30th is fast approaching as well but I don't have nearly the amazing options that you have so whatever you choose please enjoy it and take lots of pictures.

Happy Training,

Non-Runner Nancy said...

O.M.G. sounds heavenly.

I'd do this one just for the adorable Nessie they made out of a running shoe. :D

Runner Girl said...

The florence marathon sounds awesome- I say tough it out baby! My favorite friend of my mom's did a triathalon on her 50th. So one little marathon at 30 should be no prob : )