Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Running in Copenhagen

Hello from Europe! This is my 400th blog post and I am writing it from the deck of the Viking Sky cruise ship, on the North Sea between Denmark and Sweden. We are sailing this morning, so I have some free time to write.

Sunday, July 21: Copenhagen arrival
Nyhavn, Copenhagen
We took an 8-hour overnight flight direct from Dulles to Copenhagen, arriving at 7:15am local time. Crammed in the back of economy class, neither Greg nor I were able to really sleep, and we estimate that we each got maybe a total of one hour.

We arrived at the cruise terminal at 8:00am, and we had to wait for two hours before we could board the ship. I took the opportunity to sleep more, since the cruise terminal chairs were more comfortable than the airplane seats.

We finally boarded the ship, took a quick tour, and then ate lunch before heading out to explore the city. We were both struggling pretty badly, given that we only had one hour of sleep, but walking around Copenhagen energized us. Neither of us had ever visited there, so everything was new to us. Our first stop was Nyhavn, the city's scenic and historic waterfront. Whenever you see a photo of Copenhagen, you likely see this waterfront. Of course, it was way more crowded and touristy in person than in the photos, but still really cool.

After Nyhaven, it was off to Stroget, a huge pedestrian shopping plaza. It was here that I broke my 5-week chocolate fast. My doctor recommended that I eliminate all caffeine from my diet, so I had not had an ounce of chocolate since early June. I didn't go crazy with the chocolate, but Greg and I shared an ice cream sundae that had chocolate candies in it. Afterwards, we returned to our cruise ship where we had an amazing gourmet meal. Once again, we found ourselves struggling due to lack of sleep, so we skipped dessert and proceeded to sleep for about ten hours.

Monday, July 22: Copenhagen
Our first order of business upon waking up was to go run! Sunday was obviously a day off from running, so I was excited to run in a new country and add Denmark to my list of countries I've run in.
The Viking Sky, Copenhagen
We didn't really know where we were going so we just winged it. We ran off the cruise ship, down a long stretch, passing by the famous statue of the Little Mermaid. We then ran through a park, which was a big loop, and returned to the boat. We had planned to run for an hour and 15 minutes, but in order to get back in time before breakfast closed, we cut it short a little. I ended up running 7.5 miles in 1 hour, 6 minutes, at an average pace of 8:55.

After breakfast, we left the ship to explore more of Copenhagen. Greg had our path all mapped out, so I just followed. To get into the city, we walked the same path that we had run on, but this time we were able to stop and take a photo of the Little Mermaid statue. There were also about 50+ Santa Clauses hanging around the statue, which I later learned was the annual Santa Claus World Congress, which occurs every July in Copenhagen. Some of the Santas formed a band to play Christmas music. It was quite a sight to see.

Then we walked through two parks, the second of which was King's Garden. King's Garden is perhaps one of the most beautiful parks I have ever been in. There are colorful flowers everywhere, and if you look up, you can see all the historic buildings surrounding the park. We then walked
King's Garden, Copenhagen
through the Stroget shopping district (further than we had been before) and that led to the Tivoli Gardens amusement park. Even though we had no interest in riding the rides, we bought tickets to enter the park to check it out.

We didn't spend long in Tivoli, but it was really fun and beautiful to walk around. Afterwards, we proceeded to Christiansborg Palace where Greg took photos. So many beautiful and historic sites all in one day!

We had explored all of this by foot, so by the time we got back to our cruise ship, I had logged 30,000 steps for the day, with only 13,000 of those being from running. It was exhausting but fun.

Tuesday, July 23: Warnemunde, Germany
On Tuesday, the plan had been to go to Berlin. The ship docks in the beach town of Warnemunde on the Baltic Sea, and then they transport you into Berlin, which is 145 miles away. This required waking up at 5:00am and meeting in the ship's atrium at 5:50.

It was hard waking up that early (which is like waking up at 11:00pm, east coast time) but we did it. Shortly after waking up, Greg started talking about staying in the town we were docked in and not making the journey to Berlin. With only 30 minutes to make a decision, we started Googling stuff, and we realized that the train ride into Berlin would be 3 hours each way, and it wasn't air conditioned. We wouldn't have a full day to explore the city (more like 4 hours) and the majority of our day would be spent on a warm train. So, we decided to skip it. Kind of crazy to miss a trip to Berlin, but we later learned that the train ride was actually 3.5 hours each way (best case) and we preferred to spend our vacation relaxing. Plus, we were docked in a really nice area!

It was now 6:00 and we realized we could get off the ship and go run. Originally we were planning for Tuesday to be another "off" day, but now we had the time and freedom to go run around the port. I decided we should do the tempo run that had been scheduled for Wednesday. On Wednesday, we would be sailing all morning, so we planned to run the tempo on the treadmill. Now, thankfully, we could run it outside in Germany.

We looked on Google Maps and the route we really wanted to take required getting on a ferry, so we
Warnemunde, Germany
settled for running on the boardwalk of the beach. We found a one-mile stretch that was pretty empty at 6:00am, so after warming up, we ran back and forth on that 4 times, until our Garmins reached 4 miles for the tempo.

It was 63 degrees, sunny and windy, so the run was somewhat challenging. But at least it was flat and not as humid as back home. I hadn't run a tempo run since the Sugarloaf Marathon in May, so I was definitely rusty. I guess the Firecracker 5K was a nice dose of speed, but still- I wasn't really in "tempo" shape.I set the pace and Greg kept up. Our splits were 7:05, 7:05, 6:57, 6:58. It was definitely hard, and I struggled mentally during the third mile, but I was determined to make it all the way through and not quit.

It was a huge sense of accomplishment when we finished. Best of all, this meant no treadmill tempo the following day! We did a cool down jog back to the ship where we showered and had a leisurely breakfast.

It was then time to explore Warnemunde. We had seen a good part of the town on our run, but now that we were back there, all the shops had opened and the place was bustling with visitors. We went down to the beach, which was gorgeous and full of people. However, the beach area between the boardwalk in the ocean was so wide that there was plenty of room for everyone. This beach was at least twice as wide as the beaches on the east coast that I've been to. Greg took some photos, we went
Chillin' in Warnemunde
into a few shops, and then returned to our ship to relax for the rest of the afternoon.

Even though Berlin would have been an adventure, we were content simply relaxing on the ship deck near the pool. We even took advantage of the afternoon tea service aboard the ship, which consisted of tea, scones, and all the little finger sandwiches.

After digesting our teatime snacks, we headed down to the gym for some strength work. I am doing the "Marathon Legs" strength training program which is available through McMillan Running and it requires doing the program twice per week. I've now been at it for a full month and I've really progressed. I am finally able to complete all the required sets and reps prescribed for week one, and ready to progress to week two.

We then had another gourmet dinner, and spent the rest of the evening hanging out on our state room balcony as the ship set sail. This morning, we are still sailing, headed toward Alborg, Denmark. I am not sure when I will check in again, but stay tuned to find out about our time in Alborg and Gothenburg, Sweden (Thursday).


  1. Awesome to read your vacation is going well... Great photos too. You could pass fora teenager in that King's Garden photo haha. I guess that's what running does and keeping us young!! BTW, I think it was a wise move to not go to Berlin. It's vacation and should be relaxing, not stress filled on a warm train. Also nice work on that tempo run. Good pace you're running at there given you've taken a long time off doing such.

  2. Always cool when you can fit running in on a vacation! I've done great with that (almost every day in China) and terrible at that (barely able to run in Peru's altitude!). I've enjoyed your posts about this trip, as I haven't been to Scandinavia.