Paige's Return to Deutschland!

Hallo Berlin! This blog will be a place for friends and family to get very occasional snip-its on Biggs' life in Germany.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Alter Schwede!

Hey Team,
The subject of this blog entry literally means old Swedish man, but young people use it to express astonishment. I think our equivalent would be holy crap. Alter schwede is the best way to express this crazy crazy time. Let's start with Easter.
My friend Alex, refer to Dia de los Enamorados entry, came and visited me in Berlin for a week over his Semana Santa or Easter break. I had a ton of class so his Berlin experience was mostly without me but we did have an excellent trip to Poland. We loooove Poland. Alex and I were invited by one of my polish classmates, Maciej, to spend the Easter holiday with his family in Warsaw. We saw the city, ate some incredible food, and had a really nice time with his family as well as Agata's, Maciej's girlfriend, family. It was really nice. I would love to spend more time in Poland.
This last weekend I went on a class trip to Geneva. I don't have any pictures to upload just yet, but I promise those will be coming. We were doing school related things on Thursday and Friday: meetings with representatives from the Global Fund for HIV, Tuberculosis, and Malaria ; Doctors without Borders, The World Health Organization, and then visits to the United Nations and the International Red Cross Museum. They were educational and fun. If I could pick any organization to work for I think I would pick the Global Fund because they are a new organization that seems to have learned from mistakes that other lending groups, like the World Bank, have made. I don't know if they would have a spot for me but you never know.
Geneva was beautiful. We had a little free time on Thursday and Friday to go swimming (yeah a little cold) and check out the city. We also did some traditional Swiss things like eat fondue and lots of chocolate. Yum. This weekend one of my friends from the program, Constanze, invited us to Nyon, just 20 km outside of Geneva, where she used to live before starting the masters program. There we went hiking and did some more swimming and just kind of hung out. It was great.
So, I have hit Switzerland and Poland in the last two weeks and on Friday Adrian and I are headed to Prague for a long weekend. Yahoo! School is still rigorous but I am trying to be a good time manager so it should all work out. I hope everyone had a happy Easter. Enjoy the picts. :)

Another picture of us being really cool in Warsaw... Posted by Picasa

The best hot chocolate ever... Posted by Picasa

Super chick bar in Warsaw. Posted by Picasa

Dancing fun with Agata and her sister Kaya Posted by Picasa

A photo in front of a statue dedicated to Fryderyk Chopin, special for Mrs. Buhn my piano teacher. Posted by Picasa

Agata's family and me after our post Easter traditional water fight... Posted by Picasa

This is my new trademark jump, notice the post-Poland belly... Posted by Picasa

Fiats were big here before 89... Posted by Picasa

Memorial of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 Posted by Picasa

Alex in the middle... Posted by Picasa

Beer in Berlin...Das schmeckt gut. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Ohne Training

Hey Team,
This post is going to be really exciting for all of my multi-sport hommies. :) I did a pretty thorough race report so if you aren't really into running then I would suggest just skipping to the last paragraph were I have Berlin related news.
This last Sunday I ran the Berlin half marathon. I heard about it on last Thursday and went ahead and signed up that day. I hadn't run in a month and I had never run a half marathon but this opportunity looked too good to pass up. I had some super helpful tips from my sporty friends and with lots of sleep and pasta it was go time on Sunday.
Everyone told me that I should plan to walk some as I hadn't trained. I was reluctant but I really didn't want to kill my body so I went ahead and started walking for 30 seconds every 12 minutes or so. Basically, I would wait until there weren't a lot of spectators around because I didn't want to shame the Husky Tri Jersey. (Oh yeah, I flew the UW Jersey, I didn't get any Bow Down to Washington songs or anything which was a bummer, but anyway...) Trying to find spots without spectators was a real challenge. This race had 20,000 participants and I would imagine that there were at least that many spectators. It was really great. Some of spectators had on crazy Bavarian outfits, some had little beer stands, oh did I mention that they had Samba bands ever 4 kilometers. Samba is awesome running music.
So, I started out my race pretty slow and was feeling like a champ. Once I got to the first water station at 5 km I was thinking, this is ridiculous, I don't need to walk any more, I can just keep going. So, I ran from that point on except I would walk briskly while drinking water at the aid stations.
Oh, another funny be super German I decided to use gummy bears for fuel instead of power gels. Actually, I am not going to lie, the reason I used gummy bears was because power gels here cost 2 Euro. I know it isn't that much, but I can buy a whole meal for 2 Euro so I didn't think it was a good investment. Plus, is there a better race food than wet stuck together Gummy Bears that you hide in your sports bra? (Ok, that will be the only graphic part of this race report...promise.)
So I came across the 10 km mark in 1 hour and 9 minutes. Yikes, it was at this point that I realized I was going way too slow. I had the goal of finishing the race in 2 hours and 20 minutes and at the pace I was going that wasn't going to happen. So, I stepped it up a notch. The rest of the race was fun. I got a kick out of watching the spectators and the other runners. There were some runners that were in regular street clothes or heavy jackets when it was in the 60s. Oh, I forgot to mention it was the perfect sunny spring day. So good.
There was never a point where I cramped up or was really unhappy. I knew that I was going to finish the race and I was hoping that I would do it in good time. About 2 km from the finish line I really started booking it. That was great because as I was picking it up I passed by about 5 of my buddies from the program who came out to cheer. It was funny because they didn't even see me in the crowd so I had to yell for them. Needless to say, I didn't get any pictures because no one could catch me. :) I will look around for some race photos and maybe post them later. I ended up finishing the race in 2:19:40. I made my goal with 20 sec to spare. haha.
My main concern about the race was how I was going to feel the next morning. I have woken up the day after triathlons with sinus infections or colds and that just couldn't happen because Monday I had a test. But, I woke up healthy and just a little sore. I also spanked my first test which felt good. Although I must say that a large part of my success was due to this awesome study group I am in.
So the test and the half marathon were big highlights this week. My lowlight would have to be that my ankle is a little tweeked from the race. I rolled it in the first 2 km and then ran on it for another 19. Whoops. It didn't hurt at the time. But the perk of my masters program is most of the people are doctors. Thus, my buddy Ulf checked out my ankle yesterday and said with some ice and Ibuprofen I would be fine. Phew. The other not so cool thing to happen this week is some jerk ripped of the handle bars of my bike when it was parked outside my class. I have class at a hospital which is a pretty enclosed space but some how someone got to my bike. It's just the weirdest thing in the world. Who steals handle bars? It's not a really big problem because Adrian is coming in a couple weeks with bike parts. But, if I had to fix it here it could have been a lot more expensive. So, I am looking into either taking the gears off my bike so there is nothing to steal or buying a crappy commuter bike. We'll see.
As far as other Berlin news goes, today I have an interview for an internship that would be here over the summer. I don't exactly understand what the research organization does, but I guess that is what I am going to figure out this morning. It would be cool to be here working in Berlin. I will be sure to give updates on my job status. At this point, the goal is to stick around Europe this year taking classes and working.
Well, I hope this email finds all of you happy and healthy. Yahoo for Spring!