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Posts Tagged ‘berlin’

I began today with one mission: to locate a pair of New Balance women’s shoes 700+ series that fit my feet. I came up short and will set off on another mission tomorrow. So far, this is beyond annoying not only because they don’t have what I want, but when I checked the New Balance Germany website earlier tonight (http://www.newbalance.de/home.php) they actually have a picture of a pair of women’s 759’s across the front page, next to the Brandenburg gate! Ironic since we live 2 miles (!!!) from the gate and I have been unable to locate these shoes at ANY running shop in the city thus far, and they are not for sale on the German website as far as I can tell. (I tried calling the NB Germany customer service number when I got home, but it was Friday at 5:25PM, so as you can well imagine no one answered the phone.) My backup plan is to order several discounted pairs on U.S. websites ($58-80 USD beats 100-125 euros, the prices I saw today) and mail them to a friend in San Francisco, then pick them up next week while I’m in town and drag them back to Berlin. After all, I already know it’s unlikely to even find my size in Beijing (U.S. women’s size 9.5, or 41 in EU sizes), so I’ll need a couple of pairs to last me through the next year. (When I lived in Taiwan the largest women’s size in running shoes was 40.5, or US women’s size 9. I bought men’s shoes instead, which is sort of problematic because men’s shoes run wider and my feet are naturally narrow. Furthermore, I had few options and ended up running in Brooks shoes for a while–they had a shop in Tianmu–and developed knee problems, which I had never ever had before. No more Brooks for me!)

So anyways, as promised, this will be a post about running shops in Berlin and looking for my replacement New Balance shoes. It will be edited and updated as I find out new information.

[A note on all the German websites below: it really helps to use Google translate on them in a separate tab and toggle back and forth — sometimes the translated page misses links or royally screws up a translation.]

First of all, here’s one of the main links to most the running shops in the Berlin area:

http://www.laufszene-berlin.de/laufshop-berlin.html

And here’s what I know about them from first-hand experience and impressions:

Long Distance
http://www.longdistance.de/
It’s unfortunate this store does not sell New Balance for women (it does for men) because the rest of the shop is a long distance runner (and triathlete’s) paradise. They have several shops, although I have only been to the one near the zoo. I went there on a weekend looking for non-gross energy drink powder and they had Powerade in several OK flavors (better than Karstadt Sport could do!). But they also have all the triathlete stuff, like random gear (e.g., fluid belts, bento boxes for the bike, aquasphere ETC), publications with info on all the local races, a knowledgable staff, and a huge screen TV that was broadcasting the ITU World Cup in Hamburg when I visited. (I was psyched because one of my friends was doing the race.) Anyways, this place is the resource for all triathletes and endurance athletes, which made me all the more disappointed to not see my particular shoes available there.

Lang and Laufladen
http://www.lang-und-lauf.de/
We picked up our race packets for the Airport run (August, 21KM run) at the Augsburgerstr location. The place itself was not as big as the Long Distance shop (that one’s a nice size), but L&L is well-stocked with all running gear and random running gear accessories (night reflection, specialty running clothing, and a shoe selection that contained what I consider to be only “real” running shoes–this place did not have any fashion gear type of feel). I will return to this place and update on whether or not they have the New Balance shoes for women. They did have a lot of Asics, but I don’t like those.

RUNNERS POINT Berlin (“Das Schloss” mall)
OK, this place reminded me a bit of Footlocker in the U.S., where they have real running gear (seriously good Asics, Brooks, Nike selections, plus some nice Nike dri-fit gear for women) mixed in with streetwear fashion (i.e., shoes made to look like running shoes that will actually kill your feet or knees if you try to wear them for running, with the price tag of < 30-50 euros to prove it). I went here today and, despite their website telling me they have New Balance shoes, was told that none of the Berlin stores actually have NB shoes. Sigh. Waste of time!

Lunge Lauf- und Sportschuhe
http://www.lunge.de/wp/category/filialen/
This was the most promising of the day because they had TWO different New Balance shoes for women (yay!) except that the 800 series I tried on fit my foot funny (d’oh) and I wondered if it was because it had been made in UK and thus had a different shape from the one in the U.S.? Anyways, I was disappointed, but only half-heartedly since the price for the thing was 125 euros. The other pair, a 700 series, was 120. For that price I could buy two pairs in the U.S., so I decided I should wait if I couldn’t find the perfect shoe at 120 euros! (And running shoes really should feel like the perfect shoe from the first time you try them on.) On the positive side: this shoebox-sized store had a knowledgable staff member and the best collection of serious running shoes I have seen thus far in Berlin (especially given the size of the place). They also had a lot of Asics.

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Luis and I went for a 3-hour (20mile-ish) marathon training run on Sunday and on Tuesday, after resting for just one day, I decided to go out for a run with him despite the slight twinge of something I felt in my calf. I felt OK during the hour-long run, and we ended up doing tempo for the second half of the run, the part that runs mostly through Tiergarten (the big park in the middle of Berlin) and along the Spree river next to the Hauptbahnhof and Reichstag. (It’s a lovely view, especially while the sun sets, and my favorite place to run outside of Grunewald Forest.) My calf felt a bit stiff after the run, but I ignored it and stretched. Well, Wednesday it was sore most the day. I had an upper body deep tissue massage for my “problem” areas (shoulders, neck muscles, etc) but didn’t have her address the calf. We went out for a shorter run last night and this was a mistake. I was stiff again immediately after stopping — fine while running, stiff afterwards. The interwebs tell me I should take some time off and give it a rest, and likely these are the things I have been doing wrong that would have provoked said injury:

  1. Not stretching much before or after running. Time to start going to yoga again… (we’ve almost joined a gym here, I’ll post on that when we do)
  2. Wearing worn-out shoes for a 3-hour run on pavement. I guess it’s time to cough up 80-100 euros for new shoes.
  3. Overtraining. What, me?

So, today I took that opportunity to re-visit the pool again for a serious workout–what, you didn’t think I’d REALLY take the day off, did you?

In the summer months the Berlin pool options are limited (http://www.berlinerbaederbetriebe.de/). Last summer’s pool option (http://www.berlinerbaederbetriebe.de/index.php?id=76) decided to renovate until September. However, in the meantime, I discovered a pretty nifty place at Spreedwaldplatz:

The lap swimming pool at Spreewaldplatz (http://www.berlinerbaederbetriebe.de/67.html) is only 25 meters long and it only has two lanes roped off (and I wish someone would explain to me why they don’t rope off all the lanes in a designated LAP swimming pool… the kiddie and relaxation pools are elsewhere marked clearly with “nichte schwimmen”), but it does the job. It costs 4 euros for one hour or 5 for two hours, so it’s a bit pricer than the other pools I mentioned (which after 8PM cost a mere 2,50 to enter and close at 10 or 11PM). Nevertheless, I found that going at 4:30PM gave me plenty of time before the evening crowd arrived, which in Germany is anytime after 6PM or so. As almost always in non-U.S. locations, I was the only person swimming freestyle consistently for long periods of time, without stopping, and at a semi-decent pace. I may be slow as a freakin’ snail in California and a mere turtle in the Washington, D.C. area, but here in Berlin I’m *moderately fast* (!!!). This means I am usually passing people in the pool, which is fine except when they do stupid things like swim diagonally into me or push off from the wall at the exact same time I come to it and turn around (sigh).

All in all: I did an OK swim of 2800 meters (or so) and mostly had the lane to myself.

Now, here’s the best thing about this particular pool — when Luis and I went last week, we discovered that its location in Kreuzberg is across the street from Yellow Sunshine restaurant (http://www.yellow-sunshine.com/) which has an entire veg menu, most options being 100% vegan.  I had a seitan gyro plate with organic green salad and he had a “chicken” burger. We shared some pommes frites, a bitter lemon bionade, and also had vegan chocolate muffins for dessert — total cost? ~14 euros!!! Crap. Why didn’t we find this place earlier?

Tonight after the workout I met Luis at the U-Bahn near the pool and we walked to another place I’d read about online called Veni Vidi Vegi (http://www.veganladen.de/), which according to reports and I am happy to verify sells vegan mozzarella cheese! Along with the vegan salamni we found next to the cheese, and some veggies, we had pizza success for dinner tonight!

I have two disclaimers to make about this store, which overall seems like a place we’ll be visiting more often since they also have non-dairy cream cheese:

  1. It is really freaking small. As in like the size of a shed. On the other hand, it’s almost spitting distance from the pool and U-Bahn stop, so I’ll likely be dropping in and stocking up on my dairy-free cheeses regularly. The staff was very friendly, or well, the one hippie dude who helped me out… which brings me to the next point
  2. Why must veg places outside of Santa Cruz and San Francisco always feel like dirty hippie havens? I mean, look, I know some places like this exist in SC/SF and Berkeley (of course) but then there are normal places like New Leaf Market, Rainbow Grocers, and Staff of Life, where more than just “dirty hippies” shop. The closest I can get in Berlin are bio stores which, unfortunately, still only stock normal dairy cheeses. Those are more like Whole Foods — expensive produce and products but WITHOUT the quality and care of a place like New Leaf.

Anyways, the more important thing is that we came home and made the pizza and the “cheese” semi-melted. Now, this “cheese” does not compare at all to the Vegan Gourmet “cheese” I regularly used in Santa Cruz (http://www.followyourheart.com/products.php?id=25), which always melted, but it will do the job for when I need that cheese fix. (I actually haven’t been able to eat real cheese in years so this isn’t so new, and I don’t miss cheese because of the numerous memories of getting incredibly sick from it.) I will write a follow-up post on how the cream cheese goes, but somehow I doubt it will compare to Tofutti’s Herb and Chive (http://www.tofutti.com/btcc-herbs.shtml) on a toasted bagel from The Bagelry… I practically lived at this place my last 6 months in Santa Cruz. (Entire vegan menu for the bagel, complete with organic coffee and juice options–free wifi and 3 blocks from my house!)

Also, next up: I need to replace my running shoes ASAP. We’re training for the Berlin marathon and have one more long run this weekend, if my calf is up for it. Tomorrow’s mission is to find a running store that sells New Balance women’s shoes, preferably 700+ series, and even more preferably 905’s, 738’s, 768/9’s, or 856. Will this be possible or will I be forced to order shoes online, or suck it up, not run, and then wait until I get to San Francisco next week (for a one-week visit)? Stay tuned to find out, along with some running store reviews. (Oh, how I miss Sports Basement, Running Revolution, and cheap online ordering options.)

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