Today I booked my flight and registered for the race (!!!) so I thought I would commemorate the occasion by writing my first blog post. I was thrilled and honored to be named an Athlete Ambassador for Dresden Sister City this summer. I’ve spent the past couple months preparing mentally and physically for the trip by learning about the city of Dresden and of course, training!
I will be running Dresden Marathon’s half marathon and although I’ve been running for years, this is my first official half marathon. I put together a rough training schedule based on advice from my sister and other experienced runners, including my fellow ambassadors. I’m aiming to run at least three times per week leading up to the race on October 19: five-mile runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and increasingly longer runs on Saturdays up to 13 miles (right now I’m at eight miles). I also lift weights twice per week which I understand is good for training.
This past weekend I stayed at a friend’s cabin out in Knox County where there weren’t any safe roads or paved trails to run on. I was determined to stick to my training schedule, so instead of a long-distance run I ran through a makeshift trail in the woods, up steep hills and over obstacles like branches and rocks and ant hills. I could not breathe! It was grueling but felt good, especially after consuming copious amounts of food and drinks all weekend… carbo-loading, right?
Getting away for the weekend also allowed me to finish the book Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s Vonnegut’s first-person account of his time in Dresden as a prisoner of war during World War II, only from the perspective of an alien-abducted, time-traveling version of himself called Billy Pilgrim.
For many, Dresden conjures images of the infamous firebombings of 1945. But long before Dresden became synonymous with apocalyptic destruction, it was the residence of Saxon royalty. The city was known as the Jewel Box for its gorgeous baroque architecture and lavish arts scene. As Vonnegut describes it in Slaughterhouse-Five:
The boxcar doors were opened, and the doorways framed the loveliest city that most of the Americans had ever seen. The skyline was intricate and voluptuous and enchanted and absurd. It looked like a Sunday school picture of Heaven.”
Much of the city has been rebuilt thanks to grassroots fundraising efforts from all over the world, including Columbus, Ohio and namely Dresden Sister City, which helped raise thousands to rebuild the Frauenkirche. Today Dresden is a cultural, educational, political and economic center of Germany and Europe. I can’t wait to explore this time-honored city and learn more about its people and history (and complete my first half marathon (hopefully!)).