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Monday, May 21, 2012

Zurich and Italy: Research and running week #2, Part 1

May 8th was our last day in Lucerne and my goal was to find the local track for a workout before we left. This track is well known for the amazing view of Mount Pilatus along the homestretch. The track hosts one of the Euro Meeting International Track and Field events each year. Last year's results show Walter Dix winning the 200 in 20.02, Dwight Thomas winning the 110 hurdles in 13.29, Alice Schmidt going sub 2:00 in the 800 to best Maggie Vessey and Delilah Dicrescenzo getting third in the 3,000 steeple (9:42). Obviously a high quality meet and a track that I wanted to run on.

Warm-up with Mt. Pilatus
Football arena next door
Checking the map from the hotel I found that the track was only 2K from where we were! Perfect for a short warm-up, workout and back to get the bus for Milan. The warm-up was rather uneventful (only worried that I was lost once), although beautiful.

The track is next to a large soccer (football) stadium that opened last year, replacing an older stadium at the same site. To my delight, the track was open to the public! On I went.

Just as I read, Mt. Pilatus looks over the home stretch and offers a breathtaking view. Coach Tom had a nasty workout for me (reps with "float" recoveries), so the distraction of Pilatus and the thought of toeing the line where superstars have done the same was much appreciated.

I got back to the hotel with enough time to change and head to the bus. Our bus driver Giuseppe showed mad skills in maneuvering his machine through the narrow, cobbled streets of Lucerne and on to the highways. We were off to Milan! Switzerland was magnificent. I highly recommend a visit to anyone.

Pilatus on the homestretch
Be back with more soon from the fashion capital of the world,

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Zurich and Italy: Research and running Week #1

The NACDS (North American Clinical Dermatological Society) travels to a different country each year for their conference. Sessions occur in the morning for CME credit, leaving time to tour the city/country in the afternoon. My mother is on the BOD for the group. Being on sabbatical I am able to join her this year for the conference to Switzerland and Italy. My sister also came along, so we had a Kassens girls trip.

The first week was in Zurich and Luzern. I gave a lecture on May 5 on the economic consequences of PPACA. They earned an hour of CME credit for it! It is always interesting to present this material to folks strongly connected to the health care markets. Many of the physicians in the group are business owners, making the employer mandate an important business concern. In addition to enjoying the session, several complimented the Prezi application I used for the presentation. Several folks want to adopt it for presentations after seeing how "neat" it looks.

Zurich is home to one of the Diamond League Track and Field meets. On the first day in Zurich we took the public transit to Letzigrund Stadium. This track has a distinctive roof and the track sits below street level. The track was open, so we walked down to the track and saw some male sprinters go through a workout. I will have to watch for them on TV when the meet is televised in August.

Another great aspect of being in a different country is the opportunity to run in new places. Zurich has some great routes around Lake Zurich, but my favorite runs were those up Uetliberg (2864 feet). There is a bike path to a park keeping you off the high traffic roads. From the park there are wide smooth trails up the mountain and steeper single track routes. I tried both out and always left wishing that I had more time to play around up there. Amazing views of the city and lake and well marked trails (some even with lamps lighting the way). Some sections had very soft peat and chips. Great on the legs, especially when the runs were finished with some long, steep downhills on pavement back towards the city.

After staying in Zurich for three days we took a bus then a ferry to Lucern. On the way we stopped in a small town on Lake Lucerne which had spectacular views of the mountains, particularly Pilatus. Apparently this mountain was named for Pontius Pilat and legend has it he is buried there. Pilatus is about 7,000 feet. There is a cog railway that will take you to the observatory at the top which is the steepest in the world. I found out that this summer there is a series of races here, including one that races to the top of Pilatus! The series is called Mountain Man.

Lucerne was not to be outdone by Zurich for hospitality, beauty, history or running! Among the highlights of the old city is a bridge crossing the river dating back to the 15th century. People bustle across it on the way to and from work or other destinations daily. Queen Victoria once visited Lucern and stayed in Gutsch Castle, which is a hotel overlooking the city. The structure was built in the 1800s and modeled after Neuschwanstein (crazy King Ludwig, Germany). I ran to Gutsch and on the amazing trail system behind it. Later I walked back with my mother and sister and took pictures from the castle.

Today we leave for Milan. Before our bus leaves, I plan to do a speed workout from Coach Tom that I can do on the roads or the track. I am going to try to get into the national stadium (Allmend) with the backup option of the Alpenquai. I am really hoping that I can get on the track. It is home to Lucern's Euro Meeting track and field meet