Anja and I started our run to Albania with a 42km run from Makarska to Podaca. I didn't anticipate such a long first day, as I thought the route was only 35kms. I also didn't anticipate so much sun! It as completely cloudless for the whole six hour day. Six hours is a pretty bad marathon time, but I took into account the challenges of the route, the few times I had to wander around town looking for a path, and the times I had to stop so Anja could drink. She doesn't have a hydration pack, so when she needs water, I unclip her plastic dish, take the mouth piece off my hose, and fill the dish. This is a great system, and it only takes one or two minutes. Before, I would take the backpack off, take her water dish out of the backpack, take the bladder out of the backpack and open it, fill her bottle, close the bladder and suck the air back out, then put her dish away and put the backpack back on. Madness!
So we went 7kms longer than planned, but the route was absolutely beautiful. We passed through seven gorgeous little villages and towns, each with their own unique personalities, and all of them on the blue green water. The people we saw and met along the way were very friendly. We passed by a fenced-in basketball court, and five little kids came running over to the fence and said, "Pas, pas, pasky!" and waved to Anja.
The only problems we had were when the paths along the coast ended. Then we had to climb back up to the road and run on the highway. The road was very narrow, with only one lane going in each direction, and no sidewalk. The shoulder was only about a foot of cement between the road and the guard rail, or the cliff. Luckily, there wasn't much traffic. I think we saw a car every five minutes. However, Anja was really scared. I think she was reminded of Tempelhof in Berlin, where she was allowed to run off the leash and didn't have to worry about cars. But the cars on this road were loud and passed us at highway speed. Plus, the cliffs and guard rails really freaked her out, and every time I tried to pull her off the road, she put all her breaks on and I had to pick her up when a car came. We only had to run on the road for less than two hours of the total run, but it would have been much faster and less frightening if we had a real shoulder or a sidewalk.
The paths, however, were wonderful. Some were cement sidewalks about a meter wide, and sometimes it was just a single track trail. They were usually about 3-7kms long, and some led to a small road that ran between the villages. They were all very clean and well kept, and they all had a great mix of beach and forest.
I feel a very strong connection to Croatia. It brings back all the wonderful memories and sentiments of the different places I've lived. Oddly, I have a strong reminder of Texas. I think the bright stones and cliffs bring that back, as well as the warm weather. I also feel like I am back in Connecticut. I think this is because of the short, sunny, romantic runs I used to take in Connecticut. This was when I first started running, so I only really went out when the weather was nice, and I only ran a few kilometers, so it was only fun and pleasant, instead of super challenging and painful. It's really wonderful to feel so light and free when I'm running, especially during a 42km, self supported run! I am also reminded slightly of Peru, but that is because of the super friendly locals and the fact that I am only have a small grasp on the language and the culture.
Once we finally made it to Podaca, we found Fabian sitting on the beach waiting for us. He had chocolate milk for me and food and water for Anja. We found our room together and were greeted by a very welcoming, friendly family. They even made us dinner, which was a pasta dish with tomato sauce and a very strong, white lettuce like vegetable on top. I think it was raw cabbage, but I can't be sure. They said it was a traditional dish from this area.
View from our balcony.
After eating, Anja and I just laid in bed watching Project Runway and I put cream on my sunburn. I didn't put suntan lotion on my chest, and I had my running jersey unzipped for the whole run. Silly Kristyn! I also did a bad job putting the lotion on my face, and there was a thin red line at the very top of my forehead by my hair. Super silly Kristyn!
It was a very successful first day! I feel good about the amount of food and water Anja and I both had for the run, and I am also happy with the amount of training we've both had. Anja was very hot for a lot of the run, but she only laid down once, in a cafe where I refilled my Osprey and got an apple juice. Other than that, she was alert and energetic for the whole run. She also managed to find a few extra bursts of energy when she found cats and lizards to chase.
All considered, we were pretty happy puppies!
This is definitely a BEFORE picture.