September 27, 2003

Budapest Marathon

This is the day. It's hot. The course is long. I get misty-eyed going over the chain bridge, thinking, "I'm living my dreams, running a marathon in Budapest." I get teary-eyed at the 21 kilometer mark already feeling pain and thinking, "Bollocks, I'm only half way through!" It was by far the toughest run I've done due to heat, lack of training, and sparce sideline support. I tried the - run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute - routine that Shaun mentioned but found it mentally difficult because I was always looking for that one minute I could walk and didn't want to start jogging again once I was walking.

In the end, I crossed the line 4 hours and 18 minutes after the start gun. Afterward, all the marathoners were entitled to visit the Szechenyi baths, an enormous spa with spectacular outdoor pools, complete with in-water chess tables. No, it wasn't worth running a marathon to get in, but it was far better than an electrolyte re-balancing sports drink.

My photos of Budapest

Budapest - Day 4

Massive chillout day. We go to the city park to register for the marathon. 26.2 miles tomorrow. Gulp. The zoo is also here in the park and it's a sunny Saturday with lots of children about, so we decide to check it out. This was a highlight of the trip. Animals and children....what a fabulous combination; hearing little ones scream with delight as a camel eats hay pellets from the hand and clap with glee at the sea lion doing tricks for a fishy reward. Oh, and something memorable in the Orangutang area. Ask me and I'll fill you in on the details.

My photos of Budapest

September 26, 2003

Budapest - Day 3

We started off at the Vasarcsarnok (Main Market), a large building with a roof covered in majolicas that we mistook for the train station. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables on the ground floor, hand-made crafts for the tourists on the upper floor, fish and household goods on the lower level. We purchased good fruit, delicious sauerkraut (or some kind of marinated cabbage with peppers) and a bad pretzel. We had an impromptu picnic alongside the river (and the tram tracks).

We crossed the Danube on the Chain Bridge and I took lots of Lion photos for Shaun. Then we found our way to the funicular that pulled us up to the Palace. One could walk up the hill fairly easity, but it was fun watching the landscape unfold in front of our eyes as we ascended. AND we were conserving for the marahon.

Up on top, we came across the Hungarian version of Mr. Morimoto; a tourist guide entrepreneur that promised a customized tour of the palace and recommendations to authentic Hungarian restaurants that would save us a lot of dosh. Enticing as he was, we decided to take a leisurely, unguided stroll back down the hill.

My photos of Budapest

September 25, 2003


Shaun did some researching for me and found Szoborpark (Statue Park), an open air museum with gigantic communist sculptures that used to decorate the public spaces of Budapest. We took a tour bus out to this park nicknamed 'Tons of Socialism' and spent about 45 minutes wandering amongst the likenesses of Stalin, Lenin and a massive proletariate soldier. In the tiny museum shop they have cans of air that labeled "The last breath of socialism."

After returning to the city, we climbed Gellert Hill on the Buda side of the city and had some spectacular views of Pest, the bridges over the Danube and Margit-Sziget (Margaret Island).

My photos of Budapest

September 24, 2003

Budapest - Day 1; Terror Museum

The first day in Budapest was grey and rainy, fitting in perfectly with my post-Communist picture of the city. We left our post-Communist apartment-hotel after a post-Communist breakfast of weak coffee and stale bread to walk the post-Communist streets filled with Fords, Opels and Mecerdes mixed in with the Trabants.

We walked along the wide, tree-lined Andrassy ut (street), which has been through a few name changes. First Andrassy ut after the Prime Minister, then changed to Sztalin (i.e. Stalin) ut. After Stalin was denounced it was changed again to 'Avenue of the People's Republic'. Finally, in 1990 it changed back to Andrassy ut. We noticed the Terror Museum because of the clever lettering in the roof and spent several hours in this fascinating place learning about the Nazi and Communist occupations in Budapest.

My photos of Budapest

September 20, 2003

Remembering Michael Kidron

I went to another celebration of life service. It was for Michael Kidron, someone I'd never met. Brian is a computer tutor for Nina, Michael's ex-wife. Michael was born in South Africa to Jewish Zionist parents, moved to Palestine when he was 15, then to England to do a doctorate program at Oxford. He was an active Socialist, a writer and the founder of a socialist publishing company. It seems that my father and he had some very similar qualities; environmentalists, charasmatic, good speakers and leaders. A big difference was that he remained close with his ex-wife Nina and their three children, even after second marriages. It was a very intellectual crowd attending the service, held at the British Library.

The British Library is a beautiful modern building, inside and out. It has lots of high ceilings and natural light inside, as well as nice galleries and private alcoves. It is located right next to another beautiful building, the St. Pancras Railway Station. It's a Victorian Gothic building and part of it was originally the Midland Grand Hotel built between 1868 and 1876. The hotel closed in 1935 because upkeep was too expensive and the space was used instead as railway offices. In the 1980's it failed its fire certificate and has been empty ever since. We got to go inside and explore the building because it was an 'Open Day' weekend. On these weekends, some private buildings are opened to the public for viewing.

September 14, 2003

Running Mix

I went for a long run on Hampstead Heath today. The weather was bright and sunny and lots of North Londoners were out enjoying the green space. I spent the entire day before prepping my iRiver for the event. I have 68 songs on that little baby and another 200 megs of free space. This time I didn't have to listen to any repeats.

It seemed like the perfect running mix as I was compiling it, but when I compare it to an archived KJET playlist from 1983 I see it's nearly identical. No surprise.

September 06, 2003

South Coast Triathlon

Brian and I took a train to Seaford, on the south coast of England, Friday evening. The weather was clear so we had a spectacular view of the rolling South Downs out the train window. Seaford itself is quite small. We found our B&B within minutes of departing the train station. After checking in, we set off to register for the next day's triathlon. Then it was time for pasta! Being that is was Friday night in a small town with a few hungry triathletes swarming on the restaurants, the first two Italian places we tried were fully booked. We finally got a cozy table in a bright restaurant that had several vegetarian items on the menu.

Back at the B&B it was time for shellevision. As usual, it was slim pickins. I did see a US sitcom called 'Scrubs' and enjoyed some of the quirky humor it offered. I was reassured that I'm not missing anything by not owning a tellie. And who needs it with 18 programs on The History of Britain? Mom got me this awesome series on DVD and I'm learning about this island's past, king after bloody king (with a couple queens thrown in).

There was a sea monster living in the sink in our bedroom and it wanted out! It kept gurgling all night long. And the clock radio on the other side of the bed kept buzzing, the same sound my computer speakers make at work when someone's cel phone is receiving a call. Add pre-race nerves, the fear of oversleeping and being in a strange bed to the mix and you get a fairly restless night.

We were up a little after 5 to pack up our gear, get our bikes and head down to the race start. Brian started at 7:30 and I was able to spot him on both laps of the swim due to his unique style. This entails keeping his head above water the entire time. I'm always extremely impressed that he can do 1500 meters like that. My start was at 8:45. All the females doing the Olympic distance were in one wave. There was a bit of a scramble in the water until we rounded the first buoy, then things thinned out and I only got elbowed 3 or 4 times after that. The water was choppy and the sun was in our eyes during one stretch of the triangular course which made it difficult to see the marker you were to aim for. I loved swimming in the open water though, and the swim was the most enjoyable part of the race. The bike and run courses were flat, out and back laps along the coast; 8 laps for the bike and 4 for the run. I finished in 2 hrs 38 minutes which is pretty standard for me.

1500 meter swim - 24 mins
42k bike - 1 hr. 17 mins
10k run - 56 mins