The first thing I do when I arrive in a new city is go for a run or at least begin to plot where I will run. I run nearly every day at home and find running to be one of the best ways to explore a new city. On my first visit to Lisbon a friend told me about a new company called Lisbon City Runners. I usually avoid group runs or "sightseeing tour" runs when I travel because I want my run to be a workout as well as an introduction to a city. But LIsbon City Runners was geared to crazy runners just like myself. The founder, Pedro Vieira, started the company as a way to help travelers who were trying to train for a race while on the road. Pedro asked about my normal running routine back home; my per mile split; and if I was training for any particular race.
His colleague, Nuno Pereira, met me bright and early before the much of the city was awake. To say I was impressed is an understatement. Not only could Nuno keep a 7:30 minute mile pace, but he did so while spouting knowledge about the Avenida de Liberdade and Bairro Alto and various other neighborhoods and sights. At each mile he'd yell out our splits keeping me breathing hard, particularly as we sprinted up Lisbon's steep hills. Occasionally we'd pause so he could snap a photo of me in front of a fountain or statue. Before 9 am I'd covered 8 miles and had seen nearly half the city. Later that day Pedro emailed me his GPS data: a log of our route and our mile splits. I wish I had a running partner like that in every city.