My First Few Days In Europe


Jet lag is hard.

I haven’t dealt with it since I went to China my junior year of high school, and while this trip is only a 7 hour difference (compared with the 12 hour difference in China), I’m still struggling to get back on track! Coffee and Zzquil have been my best friends 🙂 
It didn’t help that the travel day was very long before we even got to our overnight flight. I flew from Dallas -> Houston
Houston -> Washington Dulles
Washington Dulles -> Geneva, Switzerland. 
A few of my travel essentials:
I mostly listened to music, ebooks, or slept! We left at 6:00 pm, and 7 hours later it was 7:00 am. This will never not be weird to me. 

We arrived and groggily figured out how to get to the train station to buy our tickets for the Golden Pass, a scenic train that goes through the Swiss alps. 
It was absolutely beautiful. Every single minute. But, without going into too much detail, I will say that EVERYTHING was more complicated than I had planned for us to get from the airport in Geneva to our airbnb in Gersau, a tiny town about 45 minutes from Lucern. We took the Golden Pass from Montreaux – Lucerne, then a train from Lucern – Brunnen, and a bus from Brunnen – Gersau, and a car from Gersau – our home. We experienced everything from missing our connections, getting on the wrong train, having our train stop unexpectedly (due to construction) and being asked to leave the train, and getting on the wrong bus. 
When we finally made it, we had been travleling for 36 hours! I was happy to take a hot shower and climb into bed. 
For breakfast, the kitchen was stocked with some bread, cheese, eggs, ham, and orange juice, so I put it together for an open-faced sandwich. 

While we were in Gersau, we mostly just rested and fought jet lag! 

It’s a tiny, beautiful town without much to do, and that was perfect for the first few days in Europe. 
The view from our room was stunning. I wonder if the locals ever get tired of this?? 
Our host, Pia, and her husband, Willie, invited us upstairs to their house on our final day in Gersau for a homemade brunch. 

People. I can’t get over how delicious this was! 
“Eggs from our hens” 
What? Cool! 
“And the milk from the neighbor’s cow…”
Oh my gosh. This is awesome! 
“And the bread I make myself.”
“And the apple juice pressed from our own apples.”
Not even surprised any more. 

I ate and ate until I was so full I couldn’t eat another bite. I stayed full all day!

Such sweet hosts 🙂 

We were dropped of at the ferry and took the boat across Lake Lucerne to the train station, where we found a McDonald’s and ordered cokes and used their wifi to decide where to travel next. We considered staying in Switzerland for another few days, but the cheapest hotels are around $115, and even the hostels were too pricey for us. Lucerne seemed like a beautifu city to visit, so I was a little disapointed we couldn’t stay, but we quickly decided to move up north to southern Germany. My rail pass is only good in Germany and Austria, so we had to buy rail tickets (about 40 euro) to get to Freiburg, Germany. 
Train selfie. SO many hours have been spent on the train so far! 

Since we didn’t have a place to stay, and it was getting late, we splurged on a pricier hotel near the train station, left our luggage, and walked to the town center for dinner at Hausbrauerei Feierling, a biergarten. 

I assumed it would be pretty touristy, but I mostly observed what seemed to be locals at the restaurant! They brewed two beers here: a helles and a hefeweizen. I wasn’t insanely impressed with either one, but they were cold and tasty and the salami and pretzel hit the spot 🙂

I couldn’t sleep in very well this morning, so I got out of bed around 6 and walked around the city, just as the cafes were opening and the street-sweeper trucks were making their rounds. 
Freiburg is a picturesque German town founded in 1120. It’s very green, with lots of cyclists and few cars. The streets are lined with coblestones and it looks exactly like the picture I had in my head of an old German town. 
I am so content just walking around a city, taking in all of the sights and smells and tastes. 

I’ll be in Freiburg for another night. It’s time for me to get off my iPad and go do some exploring! 
30 before 30 / Challenges / Health

Cowtown Marathon 2014

I ran my first marathon yesterday! The Cowtown Marathon was wonderfully organized and an all-around great experience!!
3 days before the race, I started carbo-loading. This meant that about 90% of my calories were coming from carbs: bread, bagels, tortillas, pretzels, bananas, dates, raisins, pancakes, clif bars, gatorade, etc.
2 days before the race was an exhausting day! The UT orchestra played an opening concert for the Menuhin Competition, an international violin competition for the world’s most gifted young violinists. This year, it came to North America for the first time, and it’s in Austin!
We had a dress rehearsal in the afternoon that took up 5 hours.
It was a really cool experience! The Long Center had a full audience, and the hall is beautiful.
It was a very long day, though… 🙁
So I went to bed on Friday night and decided not to set an alarm for Saturday morning.
I took my time getting ready to road trip to Fort Worth. Cleaned my apartment, made some pancakes, relaxed a bit..
Then I stocked up on (you guessed!) more carbs for the 3-hour drive to the expo center. I’ve heard that Swedish Fish are the exact same carb/fat content as performance gels and gus, so a lot of people will use them as race food instead of expensive Powerbar gels. I used that as an excuse to eat Swedish Fish the day before my race! CARBS.
I got to the expo at the end of the day, so a lot of booths were already closed down. But after picking up my packet I wandered around and sampled some beer and snacks and drooled over all the cool running clothes and toys that I don’t own right now.
I met Cara for my final carb-heavy meal. We went to Fireside Pies for some pasta and pizza!
I don’t know if this meal was too heavy or not…I didn’t feel sick or too full afterward, but I wonder if next time I should try something lower in fat?
All I know is that it was DEElicious. So good.
I slept pretty well from 10 pm – 3:30 am! I woke up at 3:30 for some pretzels and gatorade, then just relaxed for about an hour and a half until my alarm went off at 5:00. Breakfast was toast with a bit of peanut butter, a banana, and a clif bar with caffeine in it.
Courtney and I were dropped off near the race start. Traffic wasn’t too bad, and we only had to walk about 1/4 a mile to get to the starting corrals.
Courtney somehow managed to study, take, and pass her doctoral comprehensive exams AND train for a half marathon. How???
We got to our corral (#4) at about 6:55, which left just enough time for a few pics:)
Meanwhile, my incredible family woke up at the crack of dawn to drive from Dallas and cheer us on! They are incredibly loving.
Here’s my race recap, as I remember it:
Miles 1-10 were pure fun. I ran with my phone and earbuds, but there was so much to see and experience that I didn’t need any music! I figured that I couldn’t let myself go any faster than 9.5 minute miles at the beginning or I would hit a wall later in the race. I saw my family at mile 2 (the way-too-happy picture above!) and again at mile 10. Then a few of them veered off to watch my sister finish her half.
Miles 11-15 were even more fun! I turned on mah tunes at this point, and the weather was still cool and cloudy (60-ish, slight breeze). I didn’t even want to think about the race ending because I was having such a good time with all the other runners. The aid stations were all so helpful and supportive, and the crowd was amazing! There were lots of neighborhood passages on the trail, and families would be sitting on their front lawns cheering on the runners. My half marathon time was 2:02, and when I saw that, I realized that I desperately wanted to break 4 hours 15 minutes.
Miles 20-22 were with my dad, and I’m so grateful he was there to run with me. I started to feel pretty fatigued at mile 20, but these were my fastest 3 miles of the race because I had someone else pushing me along. I’m not an experienced runner, but I do have a lot of race strategies for swimming! My best events were 200 breaststroke and 200 I.M, and the hardest part was the 3rd 50 yards, heading into the 4th 50 yards. I compared this part of the marathon to that, and raced it the same way I would race a swimming event…push it hard, because the end is close!
Mile 23 I went on to run the end of the race by myself. My mom texted this picture and said “do you remember this hill, Kelsey?”
Yep, I remember it well!
Mile 24 was very hard, because the crowd was thin, the sun was out (70-ish degrees), there wasn’t shade, and my toes were blistered. I walked for a couple minutes and winced when I had to start running again!
Mile 25 was about getting out of my head and putting one foot in front of the other.
Miles 26 is a tease. I knew I only had about 11 minutes of running left, but those 11 minutes felt so. freaking. long.
The crowd was amazingly helpful for the home stretch, and I had just enough energy to sprint (well, let’s use that term very loosely..) to the finish for my final time of 4:05.17.
As soon as I crossed the finish line and got my medal, I started crying:) I still can’t tell you exactly why…I wasn’t too sentimental about the whole experience. I’m pretty sure it was pure exhaustion and I lost any control I thought I had over my emotions and just started crying. I also started crying when I was on the phone with my sister and couldn’t figure out how to meet up with my family, so…that tells you what sort of state I was in at the end of this race:)
My family is amazing! I started subconsciously running faster each time I saw them on the sidelines, cheering and clapping, holding up their adorable homemade signs. I love them!
We spent the rest of the day at my sister’s apartment in Fort Worth. Time for FOOD. My mom made a delicious spread of wine and cheese, steak and salad, and two cakes for dessert.
Now that I have my first marathon under my belt, I’m excited to do more! I loved the whole thing, even the painful miles near the end, because they made the finish line that much sweeter. I can’t wait until I break the 4 hour barrier. I would love to eventually run an ultra marathon…maybe:)
 I LOVE running!

To my precious family and all of the friends who sent encouraging texts: thank you. Your kind words and actions go deep in my life and have carried me far.