the streets of istanbul
Run 1 – Fatih
I was nervous about venturing out on my first run through Istanbul. Walking to dinner the night before with Jackie, I noticed how crowded the sidewalks and streets were, so I knew getting an early start to avoid the busyness was necessary.
The cool, sunny morning was perfect for running. My body, not so much. My lower back was tight (my legs: You should stretch more, me: I can power through it). I hobbled through the first five minutes, my back loosened, and my pace increased.
The streets were much more crowded the closer I got to the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camisi). The mosque is in the same area as the Hagia Sophia, the Hippodrome and not far from the Grand Bazaar.
On the way back, I got a little cocky and decided to run across the bridge I had passed earlier. Unfortunately, the sidewalk turned into a narrow strip of bricks next to a guardrail. I felt like I was running an RTO leg in Lake Tahoe with the cars zipping by me with no margin for error for them or me. 😮
I was relieved once I cleared the bridge and found the sidewalk again. Commuters were out in full force, and I careened along the trail before calling it a day after four miles.
Run 2 – Fatih
My second outing was dreadful. The dreary weather matched my feelings with the early signs of a cold. Rather than staying warm and dry inside our flat, I donned my hooded windbreaker and went outside.
Planning to run to the Sea of Marmara, I mapped a location that appeared to be across the highway from my destination. Wrong. I missed at least one turn on the narrow, slick, steep downhill streets and ended up on the wrong side of the train tracks (not the first time) with no apparent way to get across and closer to the sea.
My pace was herky-jerky at best. I stopped several times to look at Apple Maps and was struggling with the water lock on my watch.
It was more of a walk sprinkled with running in between.
I found an unpaved underpass and arrived on a wide sidewalk adjacent to Kennedy Caddesi (named after President John F. Kennedy). Once there, I was determined to get closer to the water on the other side of the highway. I immediately spotted a pedestrian bridge and found myself near the Byzantine ruins of the wall which used to encircle Constantinople.
I saw a fenced area nearby that would make a good photo spot. The police officer who yelled at me to leave the site disagreed. Oops. I found another place, snapped a few pictures and took off for home, thoroughly drenched. I also accidentally notified four people of my ETA on my return to our flat. I’m still not sure how that happened. 🙄
Run 3 – Fatih
The morning of my third run was clear and chilly. I got outside before the sidewalks and streets became crowded and took off toward the Hagia Sophia, where I had run during my first outing. My video from the first visit was subpar, so I went back with more research under my belt.
Physically, I felt terrific, allowing me to pay more attention to the undulations of the sidewalks and the locals who were more concerned about where they were headed and less concerned about a lone runner trying to maintain a sub-10 minute pace.
I must have looked more approachable when I arrived at the Hippodrome area, as two different people asked me if I was interested in walking to their nearby stores to look at their wares. I explained that I couldn’t fit anything else in my suitcase, which led to a short conversation about international shipping.
Run 4 – Fatih
I headed out for my fourth run and decided to head in the opposite direction than I’d run twice previously. What a lucky decision for my eyes, not so much for my knees. I was a little hobbly, and my IT band let me know I hadn’t properly warmed up again. As I reached the end of our street, I realized I had missed the spot to cross the street and continue running straight, so I followed the sidewalk and found myself running alongside the ruins of the Wall of Constantinople.
The section I was near was in terrific condition, given it was built in the 5th century AD. Also known as the Theodosian Walls, it was built under the rule of Theodosius II and encircled the city when Constantinople served as the Eastern capital of the Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire).
The sidewalk was wide and even, and the slight downhill (9:26 pace, anyone?) toward the Sea of Marmara made me return for my final run on the European side of Istanbul.
Run 5 – Fatih
I ran faster on my final run in Fatih because I knew what to expect and didn’t stop often for videos and photos. The downhill to the Sea of Marmara is hard to resist with its wide, even sidewalk, and only a few traffic lights along the way. My right knee was bugging me for the first part of the run, but I forgot all about it as I rounded the curve to the gentle downhill stretch to the sea.
I veered off the course on my return, and as I approached, I ran into a group of dogs who were very protective of the area. I decided to turn around and go back the same way I’d come. (I’m glad the dogs weren’t interested in chasing me).
Run 1 – Kadıköy
I was excited to run in Kadıköy because I mapped a path to a nearby city park, Yoğurtçu Parkı, that was in striking distance from the Sea of Marmara. The park was adjacent to a small marina, with a wide path that lead to another park and promenade, Moda Sahil Parkı ve Yürüyüş Yolu, an ideal trail, with its smooth wide paved areas, along with some DG trails mixed in along the way
The biggest surprise of the run was seeing hundreds of jellyfish in the water near the pier where I turned around to head back home. I turned up my nose initially, because to my untrained eye, I thought there was a bunch of trash in the water. The jellyfish were fascinating to watch moving through the water, and they were a great excuse to catch my breath.
And for a moment, I forgot where I was and what I was doing.
Run 2 – Kadıköy
I was struggling with back and knee pain when I went out the door, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to run because the warm-up walk was difficult. After several starts and stops, my body slowly warmed up and I got in three miles before calling it a day
I enjoyed my first outing and I knew I’d come back to the Moda area for my final run in Istanbul. My body wasn’t cooperating with the plan, but the weather was, and the views of the city’s skyline, just after sunrise, were outstanding.
I’m looking forward to my next running adventures in Portugal, where I just might get to run on a beach!