August 30, 2016

Richmond Marathon Training :Week 1

The 2015 Chicago Marathon was the worst race I've ever run in my life. I hit the wall at Mile 14 and, upon seeing my family at Mile 14, stopped and cried. I didn't want to do it anymore. I was done. What prompted me to slog through another 2 1/2 hours of running to finish just shy of 5 hours is still beyond my comprehension.

I didn't finish happy. I didn't finish strong. I finished and then sat on the ground for about 45 minutes before getting up to make the endless walk to my family, and a medical tent.

It was my 6th marathon and the worst race of my life, but there was one thing I walked out of it saying: You better believe there will be a #7.

The most logical place to return for #7 is Richmond, where I not only ran my fastest race, but the best race of my life. Richmond was magic and I'm hoping to channel some of that magic into year's marathon.

That being said, I didn't have a great start to training. I took the week off after Sea Wheeze, doing nothing other than a 2 mile shakeout run after watching the Olympic Men's Marathon because Meb blew me away and brought back all of those feelings from Chicago.

The rest of the week was tough. We got home from a trip to NJ at 11pm Sunday, Wednesday, I got up and took a flight to Raleigh for work. Thursday, my flight back to DC was delayed 2 1/2 hours and I didn't get home until 11:00. Then, we got up Friday morning, drove to NJ for the night and then spent 11 hours driving from NJ to CT back to NJ and then on to DC on Sunday. I did run during the week, but it wasn't the kick off to marathon training that I hoped and, as a result, here we are on Tuesday morning and I haven't run yet this week either.

Here's what the week looked like;

Monday: 4 miles, easy
Tuesday: 7 miles, hills (not easy)
Wednesday: 25 minutes of morning yoga and PT Exercises
Thursday: Skipped 
Friday: 4 miles with 2 at marathon goal pace (target 9:09, actual 8:55, 9:05)
Saturday: Skipped.
Sunday: Skipped.

We were in Mystic, CT for my college roommates wedding. I was planning on doing 4 easy on Saturday when we got there and my long run Sunday morning, but it took us 5 hours to get there (should have been less than 3) and we barely had enough time to get ready for the wedding. Because of that, we left way earlier than originally planned on Sunday morning.

Total Mileage this Week: 15

I'm not going to beat myself up about this. I usually start training 16 weeks out, but dropped to 12 because I didn't want to alter my training plan for Sea Wheeze. I need to have a strong week this week to feel good moving into the next 11 weeks so that I feel calm and ready on race day.

Are you training for a fall race? Which one? How's your training going?

August 29, 2016

The Paris Post I Didn't Want to Write

Since coming back from Paris, there is one thing that I haven't been able to get off my mind. Paris is one my of favorite cities. When The Pilot and I have traveled to Paris every 2 years since almost religiously since we've been together, and we will absolutely return.

I love Paris. I love the people, the food, the language, culture, and music. I fell in love with Paris the first time I went there in a way I never expected to (though I fully expected to fall for Barcelona that way and didn't enjoy it at all).

Paris is one of the oldest cities in Europe, and so much of the city has changed (like this beautiful intersection in the Latin Quarter which used to be a fact, the river still flows underneath, compacted beneath 8 feet of concrete and what used to be a cemetery. (Yup). 

Yet so much of the city has remained the same, and it's absolutely wonderful.

This trip to Paris, however, there was a definite change...something new to the city that has stayed with me since coming home.

In nearly every subway station, and on several streets throughout the city, there are families of Syrian refugees. Many of them stand, holding passports or pictures of family members they are trying to be reunited with. They aren't begging for food, or money, they want to know that their family members are alive, and to be reconnected with them.

It was truly one of the most heartbreaking experiences of my life. These refugees had expressions on their faces that only the pain of not knowing what has happened to one's family can etch. Living in major cities my entire adult life, I have sadly grown accustomed to walking past homeless people on the street, only occasionally stopping to offer food or change, but in Paris, I couldn't ignore them.

I looked at them, saddled with guilt. Guilt that we have allowed their country to be leveled into a burial ground, guilt that we allow "the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII to refer to a new situation, country, or group of people every few years, guilt that despite getting a Master's degree in a field designed to protect these very people, I'm not doing that, and more importantly, guilt that I live in a country where my own parents escaped to, where the rhetoric against refugees, against everyone fleeing to this country, is so hateful and in opposition to the very freedoms that my parents fled to.

Why am I talking about this? The reality is that I can't write about Paris without thinking about the fathers holding pictures of their little girls, women holding pictures of their sons and husbands. It doesn't feel right to talk about visiting the Louvre and eating macarons when each of those experiences began with a journey where I witnessed pain that shouldn't exist in this world.

On one afternoon, we were connecting metro lines at Chatelet and I saw a young woman, probably about my age, maybe a little bit older, sitting on the floor talking to a woman sitting on a piece of cardboard by herself holding a passport in her hand. The Syrian woman was telling her story and I saw her smile and I was so grateful to the world that someone could make her smile. Had I spoken Arabic, I like to think I would have done the same thing and tried to talk to every one of them, to see if I could help in some way. That young woman, who took time out of her day, our of her busy commute, to stop and try and offer someone some compassion - she restored my faith in humanity and I pray that others in Paris, in Germany, and across the world, are doing the same.

I've struggled with writing about my trip because I didn't feel right talking about it without sharing what is happening in Paris, and an experience that will always remind me how to count my blessings and to be compassionate.

"You may choose to to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know." - William Wilburforce

August 26, 2016

What I Read in August

August has easily been my busiest month of the year. I shared all of that in my post this Monday and it's still true. I got home from Raleigh at 10pm last night and am enjoying some quiet time in my apartment before getting to work and then heading up to NJ/CT for a wedding this weekend. 

Being on the road non-stop, though, has given me plenty of time to read. I've just nearly finished the Harry Potter series in addition to our Book Club book. Here's a look at what I read this month:

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" - I don't remember liking this book when I first read it, but this time I around I loved it. Dolores Umbridge though is easily my most hated fictional character of all time. 

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" - This has always been and remains my least favorite Harry Potter book. I feel like the entire book is Harry, Ron, and Hermione running around Hogwarts, Harry thinking Malfoy is up to no good and Ron and Hermione not believing him, and a lot of teen angst. I didn't like it the first few times I read it and I still don't. I think the insight into Voldemort's past is fascinating, but there's a lot of excess in the novel that detracts from those parts. 

This is also the book where (I forgot) Hermione starts to get really irritating. She's reasonable to a fault and in this book and The Deathly Hallows, she refuses to leave Harry alone about Occulmency, refuses to believe him about Malfoy or about the hallows. In The Deathly Hallows, Lupin says on Potterwatch that he would tell Harry to follow his instincts because they're often right and in the last two books of the series, Hermione stops believing Harry and Ron, who is doting on her, follows suit and their disbelief makes up more of this book than anything else.

This book also made me realize that despite everything I know about Snape's history. He's still pretty terrible and I don't think anyone would actually name their son after someone who treated them so horrifically for so long. Constantly reminding a 16-year-old kid that his dead father was a jerk as a kid is really just a terrible thing. I think we all fell in love with Snape because Alan Rickman's portrayal of him was so incredible, and that scene in the final film was heart-wrenching, but in the books? Snape is pure evil. 

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" - This book is so much better than either of the movies were. The entire first movie follows Harry, Ron, and Hermione running around the woods, when, in reality, that only takes up about 150 pages (of the 750+ page book). I haven't finished this book yet. I'm about 200 pages from the end, but I do like this book more than I remember liking it the first time I read it. I think there's a lot of action, but there are also a lot of really dull moments. I've said this before; I hated the Epilogue of this book. I remember reading an interview where J.K. Rowling said that she wrote it because she didn't want anyone to do anything else with Harry's story...and then she did, over and over. I do own The Cursed Child and, while I originally wasn't sure if I was going to read it, who am I kidding? As soon as I finish The Deathly Hallows, I'm going to turn to that book, and you can come back next month to see what I thought! 

Now, enough about Harry and on to our Book Club pick for the month!

"Salt to Sea" by Ruta Septys - I picked this book up without really having any idea what it was about, and was slightly skeptical because I don't typically enjoy YA. This book was beautiful. It is a historical fiction novel that follows four people from different European countries, all fleeing the Russian advance during WWII. Three of the characters meet on the road as they make their journey toward one of the many refugee ships that will take them to safety. The four characters' stories collide aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff.

The Wilhelm Gustloff was a ship meant to carry German troops and evacuees from East Prussia to Germany. Designed to carry some 1,500 passengers, the ship was overloaded with nearly 10,000 people. The ship's sinking remains the worst Maritime disaster in history, suffering a fate much worse than the Titanic, with over 9,000 lost, more than half of whom were children.

I had never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff, and the author makes a note in the Afterword, about how this tragedy has been kept quiet over the years. I love that she told this story because these lives need to be remembered as much as any others lost to the tragedy of World War II. The book is told in short 1-2 page chapters, alternating characters, and, while it's sometimes easy to confuse them, I thought the story was beautiful. 

I've said before that I haven't read a good book all year, but this finally changed that, and I highly recommend it!

There you have it!
What have you been reading lately?
What are some of your favorite books of summer?

August 22, 2016

Coffee Date: August Edition

It has been an exhausting month.

We moved into our new apartment on July 30th. I didn't take any time off from work and getting settled in was pretty tough. My mom came down the following weekend to help us get settled in, and, while she was a huge help and our apartment is starting to look great, we still have 5 boxes that are unpacked and it still takes me 30 minutes to piece together an outfit in the morning.

I left for Seattle on August 10th and, because of major storms and cancellations, ended up leaving my Air B&B in Vancouver at 5am Sunday, missing 3 flights, flying to Houston, missing a flight, flying to Dallas, booking a hotel room for 4 hours, and waking up Monday morning to fly back to DC on a 6am flight. I landed, headed home to take a shower and hopped in an uber to the office just in time for a 12:00 meeting.

Last week was a quick week and on Friday afternoon, Peyton and I were in the car driving up to NJ for the weekend. I originally wasn't planning to leave until Saturday afternoon but my mom promised to take me to the beach on Saturday, and that was enticing enough. Saturday's Beach Day was glorious. It had been ages since my last trip and it was exactly what I needed. 

Sunday, we went to our nephew's Christening and, after all of our flight options for the night got canceled, we hopped in the car and got back to DC just before midnight.

Today is supposed to be my first day of marathon training. I wanted to take the week after Sea Wheeze off to recover, especially since. I had some post-run knee pain, and I did but ever since I came back from the West Coast, I haven't been able to pull myself out of bed before 8am. This morning is beautiful in DC. Cool, breezy...perfect for running. No matter what, I need to get in a run today. It will have to be after work, but it'll happen.

This week isn't going to slow down any either. I'm heading out to Raleigh for work, coming back to DC, and then going to a wedding in Connecticut  this weekend. 

I can't wait for Labor Day weekend, when I can finally take some time to relax...lounge poolside, maybe visit a museum or two, go for a hike, who knows? As long as it's local, because, after months of trying to figure out where to go, The Pilot have finally planned our anniversary trip and it's going to be incredible!

But I have to finish telling you about Paris before I tell you where we're going!

My goal for this week (aside from kicking off marathon training) is to finish all of my Paris posts and actually get back into a rhythm with my blog because I miss it!

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?
Don't forget, the Beyond Bloggers Book Club link up is this Friday! 

You can link up about anything you've been reading lately, but our pick for this month is "Salt to Sea" by Ruta Sepetys. You can vote on next month's pick in our poll here

August 17, 2016

30 Before 30 Check-In

This week marks 6 months until my 30th birthday! I thought that was a perfect occasion to write a check-in post on my 30 Before 30 list! 

1. Travel to Cuba - This hasn't happened, and I'm not sure if it will. I've posted about my mixed feelings about traveling to Cuba before. I'm dying to go, but I want to go the right way. Whether that happens in the next 6 months or not, I don't know. Right now, I don't have immediate plans to travel to the island. 
2. Run a sub-4 marathon - Richmond, I'm coming for you. November 12, 2016.
3. Visit every Major League Baseball stadium (24/30) - I have 6 stadiums left to visit: Miami, Minneapolis, Detroit, Arizona, Anaheim, and St. Louis. With roughly 6 weeks left in baseball season, this might be a tough one to cross off the list. 
4. Cook my way through a cookbook - I haven't forgotten about this one, but I haven't even started. While in Paris, I finally found a cookbook that I want to cook through (after months of searching). I'll be cooking my way through "The French Market Cookbook" by Clotilde Dusoulier. Unfortunately, the movers lost my cookbook (the only item that went missing in my move), so I need to pick up another copy before I can start cooking, but I'm so upset that they lost the copy I bought in Paris at Shakespeare and Company, stamped with their logo! 
5. Do a 30-day yoga challenge 
6. Go horseback riding
7. Blog every day for a month 
8. Buy a designer outfit - This might have to be a 30th birthday present!
9. Go to the ballet 
10. Run another race abroad - This weekend's half-marathon in Vancouver crossed this off the list!
11. Go on another layover with The Pilot - Des Moines, IA - June 2016
12. Take a cooking class with The Pilot
13. Attend a black tie charity gala 
14. Order a wedding album - Our 2 year anniversary is coming up, I definitely need to make this happen!
15. Put all of my photos from my past travels into an album or scrapbook
16. Start writing the novel I have brewing in my mind - I'd like to have an outline done, or at least a full chapter before 
17. Go back to one of my favorite cities with The Pilot
18. See Kenny Chesney in concert
19. Visit another continent. 
20. Pay off my credit card debt
21. PR a race distance other than the marathon
22. Read a book in Spanish
23. Perfect French macarons
24. Go back to Paris with my mama
25. Make a lattice top pie.
26. Master these 30 recipes (i.e. know how to make them without looking at a recipe)
27. Go to one spot in DC and photograph it during all 4 seasons I have two pictures that I've taken in spring. I need to get back and take those shots again this summer to keep this going!
28. Tour the White House - Do you know how difficult it is to arrange a White House tour when you live in DC? Almost impossible. I've applied for a tour through Eleanor Holmes Norton's office every month for 3 months. I'm ready to just call her office! 
29. Take a painting class
30. Visit Carolann in Hawaii

So, I have some work to do! I'm hoping to set a PR in the half-marathon this fall during Richmond training, but I haven't planned any races yet. Just like with my 25 Before 25 list (which started this blog), I won't be devastated if I don't accomplish all of these things, but it's going to be a pretty fun 6 months while I try to get through as many of them as possible!

Do you have a similar list? What's on yours?

Post contains some affiliate links.

August 16, 2016

Race Recap: The SeaWheeze Half-Marathon

When I signed up for Sea Wheeze, I had no idea what my running would look like nearly a year later. I was in the middle of training for Chicago and it wasn't going great.

I started training for this race in May after starting to train for a spring half and then quickly abandoning plans because 1) it was cold and, 2) I favored a trip to San Francisco that weekend instead. 

I never told anyone this (or posted about it), but when I decided to just give up on training for that race (not simply to skip it and run a different race instead), I very seriously thought my running days were over. If you've been following my running journey for any length of time, you know that I was sidelined with an IT band injury from June of 2013 to October of 2015. 2 1/2 years, four rounds of PT, countless "comeback," races that weren't comebacks at all...where I either walked 5 miles to the finish, or, didn't finish at running dreams of going sub-4 in the marathon seemed to be a distant, elusive dream that I no longer seemed capable of. 

My training for the Chicago Marathon last year was a disaster. The race; a very adequate reflection of that training. When I decided to just skip a half-marathon and stop training all together this year, I honestly thought that I might be giving up running for good. In my head, I still wanted to go sub-4, but despite knowing exactly which race I wanted to run, I couldn't pull the trigger and sign up, and the San Francisco Marathon came and went, without me even attempting to train for the race. 

I knew I had Sea Wheeze on deck though, and I really wanted to run that. Emily, my running buddy from NY and I had planned the weekend months before and I wasn't going to cancel a trip to Vancouver...or go to Vancouver without running, so I started training. I chronicled some of that training on my blog, but as most of you know, my posts have been less frequent that usual for the last few months. I wasn't not training, I just wasn't posting about training. In fact, I was training really well. Hill workouts, speed workouts, spin classes, yoga...I was doing everything I needed to train for this race, but as the race drew nearer, I had no idea what the race would look like. Training run after training run, I would try to anticipate what my time might be, what I might realistically expect to run, but DC heat yields to some pretty inconsistent times and I was clueless.

I flew into Seattle on Wednesday afternoon and we took the train to Vancouver on Friday morning. It wasn't until I was on my way from Seattle to Vancouver that I finally thought of a race goal that I thought was realistic, and that I would be happy with: 2:15. It would be faster than my last half (2:34) and a realistic representation of what I thought I could run. 

We got to Vancouver and went straight to the Expo. Emily and I checked out all of the lululemon gear and had lots of Expo fun before resting up for the night.

Saturday morning, I woke up at 5am without issue (thanks, Jetlag!) and laid in bed for awhile thinking about the race. I got dressed, had some yogurt with granola, and Emily and I made our way to the starting line. We were only about 15 minutes away and it was a beautiful morning, though a little bit warm. My stomach was hurting and I felt really nauseous. I was really worried that I was going to stomach issues on the course, which was the absolute last thing I wanted. 

The race start was pretty uneventful. Emily and I seeded ourselves near the front, the national anthem (Oh! Canada!) was beautifully sung, and before I knew it, we were off.

The first 5k were pretty uneventful. We were running downtown and my watch was having a hard time picking up the signal. Emily and I ran together for the first two miles or so, and then she went on ahead. The first cheer station was awesome. It was on a small bridge and lululemon had set up about 40 spin bikes with a bunch of people spinning away blasting music. 

I will say, while the spectator support in this crowd was pretty minimal, the "official" cheer stations were awesome. 

Right around Mile 4 began the longest out and back of a race I have ever run. We ran out on this stretch of homes through the city, and up, onto, and over a bridge. The bridge had a steep incline but it wasn't too bad. When I got to the top, I could just see herds and herds of runners ahead with no end in site. There was another cheer station on the bridge and someone had a sign that said, "The end is in sight." Umm no.

As I was running this long out and back, I started seeing the lead runners coming by and, as the crowd thickened, I started seeing the pacers on the back portion of the course. 1:30. 1:35. 1:40. 1:50. The 1:55s made the turnaround just before I did and I realized that I was running a sub-2 pace. 

At this point, my left knee was starting to bother me (my injured knee) and I was worried. I was running in the low 9s and feeling great and I didn't want to slow down, especially with the sub-2s behind me. 

That's when this half-marathon turned into a race. I passed the 10k mark and the signs and spectators were shouting and saying things like, "You're half-way there" and "Get that negative split!" We were going back up the bridge at this point, and the climb on the back felt steeper than the climb on the front, but I could tell that all of those repeats of Capitol Hill paid off. I felt strong as I powered up the hill, and when I reached the top, wearily accepted the remark someone made that "It's all flat from here." (He was right...except for Mile 12). 

Once the out and back was over, the entire rest of the run, through to the finish (with the exception of about 3/4 of a mile toward the end) was along the water, with the most stunning views I have ever seen. This was the 2nd race I've run that was tracked in kilometers and I feel like they go by so much more quickly than miles, and it's a nice way to break up the course. 5k, 10k, 15k, 20k, Finish.

Just before the 15k mark, I realized that my knee didn't hurt anymore...and that the 2:00 pace group still hadn't passed me. No sooner had I made this realization, then we reached a cheer station and I heard the spectators shouting, "Come on 2 hours!" and heard the pace group coming quickly on my heels. They sounded like a herd. I started running faster. I felt incredible, but I had no idea if I could keep up the pace for 4 miles as I saw my watch creep from 9:10 to 8:55 to 8:20, and even below 8 a few times. 

We hit Mile 10 and I got boxed in by an exceptionally narrow water stop. When I recovered, the 2:00 pace group had passed me. I took a few sips of water and then started dialing in. There were 3 pacers in the group. A woman leading them, a man anchoring them, and someone in the middle. I caught up to the anchor and started running alongside him, evenly matching his pace. I heard him yell to the group, "We're doing great guys. Last 5k. We're a little ahead of our target pace, but we can do it!" The 2:00 pace group had started behind me; I wasn't  sure how far behind me, but this gave me hope. I wasn't necessarily trying to go sub-2, but would I be able to hit the 2:00 mark evenly? The fact that this was even crossing my mind was insane to me. Was I really on pace to run a 2:00 half?

We were on a pretty sunny stretch of road and again, I was wondering whether I could maintain the 9:10 pace I was running, and I said, "Well, nothing hurts yet," so I kept pushing. It was hot, and there were a lot of runners dropping. At one point, they had to push all of the runners almost into single file along the course, while medics attended to a runner who being given oxygen and an IV.

11 and 3/4 of a mile in, we hit a hill. It wasn't as steep as Capitol Hill, where I'd been doing hill repeats for 3 months, but this late in the race, it hurt. I tried to power up the hill, but I couldn't. I was slowing down. When I got to the top of the hill, the 2:00 group was ahead of me and I was spent. There was a water stop and I tried running through and grabbing a cup, but running up that hill and slowing down for water were too much. I stopped and walked through the stop. I probably only walked for about 20 seconds, but when I looked ahead, the 2:00 pace group was nowhere in site. We were 12 miles in and I was tired. Again, I told myself, "Nothing hurts yet," but I was tired. When i finished, I saw that Mile 12 was my slowest of the race. 12.1 miles came and went, and with less than a mile ago, I was eagerly looking for the finish line. 

We got to 12.5 and had left the waterfront view behind us...and, so it seemed, any semblance of a crowd. There was no one in site. There wasn't any music, which I desperately could have used at the time, no spectators, nothing. The course had thinned, and I felt like I was on my own. At 12.75, I decided to spring to the finish, except, the finish seemed miles away. We came across curve after curve, every one of which, I thought would yield the finish, but they didn't. My watch hit 13.1 and the finish still wasn't in site. My watch was pretty evenly in sync with the rest of the course, so I expected to finish right around 13.1. Finally, we hit another curve and I saw the finish. I tried my best to sprint, but I had nothing left. I picked up my knees a little higher, dug a little deeper, and crossed. 

2:04:27 (Official). My fastest race since I set a PR at the Cleveland Half in month before I got hurt. I was elated. 

This was the first time I've actually raced in 3 years. I trained for this, but I definitely didn't train perfectly, and that's pretty awesome. If I could put up a time 10-15 minutes faster than what I thought I could reasonably accomplish, I'm pretty excited for what the rest of my running year has in store.

For three years, I've been saying that I would make a comeback, and for three years, I've had a lot of disappointments, but this weekend, I crossed the finish line feeling happier and more accomplished than I have after any PR I've set because I can finally say I've made my comeback.

That's how I ran; and it felt good. 

August 5, 2016

What I Read in July

So...I wrote this post last week and hit schedule, and then it never posted. Oops!

I actually forgot that The Cursed Child was coming out when I decided to start rereading Harry Potter, but now that I've started Book 5, I might as well finish the series before diving into the new story. I've said before that I have mixed feelings about this book, but I know I'm not going to not read it, so while I picked it up the day it came out, it's still sitting on my coffee table waiting to be cracked open. Am I allowed to still hope that Sirius didn't actually die?

So, did I read in July? Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and, for mine and Carolann's book club, The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.

First, let's talk about The Light Between Oceans. Oooh this book was tough. It was heartwrenching, yet infuriating at the same time. I felt so much sympathy for Tom who struggled with trying to do what was right by himself, his family, and his career.

The book follows lighthouse keeper, Tom Sherbourne, who brings his new bride to an isolated island where he keeps the light. After losing three children to miscarriage and stillbirth, a boat washes up carrying a baby girl, and Isabel claims the baby as her own, which later yields consequences. 

I devoured the book in three days. I didn't love it, but I definitely recommend it. It was a good read and one that features strong character development and deep insight that makes you really understand the struggle of all parties involved. 

It's been interesting to reread the Harry Potter series. I read the first book shortly after it came out and then reread every book before the next one came out, and then again when the movies came out. I've read the first book more than a dozen times at this point, but I've only actually read Books 6 and 7 twice each.

The Goblet of Fire has always been my favorite book, followed closely by The Chamber of Secrets, but as I'm rereading them, The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire are definitely tied for first place! I love too, that even though the series has ended, I've come up with new theories around the the fact that Crookshanks had to have been an Animagus! 

I'm still about 7 books behind on my reading challenge for this month, but I'm slowly working my way through that, and hoping to catch up in the next month or two since I have quite a few flights planned in the next two months!

I'm skipping the link up today (and joining Carolann's from last week) since this post never went up, but we'll be hosting together on August 26th and discussing Salt to Sea by Ruta Sepetys. Click over to Goodreads to link up!

What have you been reading lately? 
What's the best book you've read this summer?

August 4, 2016

Paris: Our Itinerary

It's been a month since I was in Paris, and, as I've been sorting through my pictures for my most recent trip to Paris, I've been trying to think of the best way I want to write about them, especially since I've posted about Paris the last few times I've been there.

The first time I went to Paris was in 2007 while I was living in London. When I graduated with my Master's, The Pilot took me to Paris. We had been together for 2 years and it was our first big trip together. Two years later, we went back twice on the front and back ends of our honeymoon. This most recent trip was for my mom. She had been to Paris as a teenager and had been dying to go back ever since. With her retiring this year (last week, in fact!), I decided to take her to Paris and brought my aunt, who had never been to Paris, along for the ride.

Before diving into all of our posts, I thought I'd share our (detailed) itinerary so that you can get an idea of how we maneuvered the city and what we did. We didn't at all schedule our itinerary, this is just what we happened to do, but for those planning a trip, this might be helpful!

Day 1: Landed in Charles de Gaulle, checked into our hotel in the Saint-Germain, and made our way to the Eiffel Tower for a trip to the top. I had been to the top of the Eiffel Tower on my first trip to Paris at night and didn't think it was worth a visit to the top again, but seeing it in the daytime makes every difference in the world! I loved pinpointing different spots from the top and actually seeing the city.

We spent a few hours at the Eiffel Tower and then made our way back toward our hotel, stopping for a quick dinner at a brasserie in the neighborhood before calling it a night. We were all pretty exhausted after not sleeping on the flight over so it was a somewhat early night for us!

Day 2: Paris by Mouth Food Tour. The Pilot and I went on Paris by Mouth's Taste of the Saint-Germain on our honeymoon and my mom insisted that we include one of their tours on this trip. We opted for the Taste of the Latin Quarter, which was every bit as wonderful as the first tour The Pilot and I went on, and gave us the opportunity to explore a neighborhood that I wasn't too familiar with.

The Pilot flew in that morning and we picked him up after our Food Tour and made our way to Notre Dame. We dropped my mom and aunt off at the Cathedral, and The Pilot and I wandered down to Ile-St. Louis for crepes and then stumbled on EuroCup exhibit at the Hotel de Ville.

We made our way back to Notre Dame and picked up my mom and aunt and headed to dinner at Ellsworth. We didn't have reservations but got a table at the bar where we had great service and the food was unbelievable. I couldn't rave enough about the food and the wine at this incredible restaurant! Served small plates style, we shared delicious creamy burrata with pickled cherries, fried chicken, fresh heirloom tomatoes, and so many other things. We were all set to leave when a downpour started and we ordered another bottle of wine. This was one of my favorite nights in Paris and I would go back to Ellsworth again and again and again!

Day 3: A morning run in the Luxembourg Gardens followed by a trip to Polaine Bakery before we made our way up to Montmartre. My family went to Sacre Cour and I made my way to Espace Dali, the Salvador Dali exhibit, and then, together, we paid a visit to the Moulin Rouge. We wandered down to the Canal St. Martin and then headed back to get ready for yet another amazing dinner. This time, at Semilla in the Saint-Germain.

Day 4: Versailles!

Day 5: The Louvre, the Champs D'Elysees, a trip to the top of the Arc du Triomphe, and then another impeccable dinner at Verjus, in the Marais.

Day 6: A morning stop to Pierre Herme for macarons, The Paris Opera (just for a visit), Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, the Eiffel Tower at night.

Day 7: Shopping! Lunch in the Saint-Germain followed by Berthillon's ice cream, getting lost in the Marais, another visit to Shakespeare and Company, before yet another fabulous dinner at Freddy's.

Day 8: A morning run in the Luxembourg Gardens, a shopping trip for chocolate(which I left on the plane!) and macarons, a trip to the Parc des Butte Chaumont, dinner in the Latin Quarter, and drinks to watch the EuroCup semi-final.

There you have it! It was a wonderful trip to Paris and I'm so excited to share the rest of our trip with you! I saw and did so many things that I had never seen or known about, and it was so fun realizing how well I know my way around Paris after so many trips there!

Thanks for bearing with me while I took almost a month to get at least one post up! I promise I won't wait that long before getting my next Paris post up!

Have you been to Paris? What are some of your favorite things to do in Paris? If you haven't been, what would you like to see most in the City of Light?

August 1, 2016

July Recap

Hello, August! I think it's just me, but I feel like the month of July was endless. I got back from Paris and then started packing for our move. The rest of the month felt like I was living in limbo, with half of my life in boxes and my apartment completely full of boxes. We moved into our new place this weekend, and while we're far from being settled in, I'm hoping the dysfunctionality that has marked my last few weeks has come to an end!

The Month in Numbers:

Miles Run: 61

Minutes of Yoga: 170 

Number of Spin Classes: 3

Books Read: Three (all audiobooks!)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Trips Taken: One - Paris! Posts coming this week!

Blog Posts Written: Three =(

30 Before 30 Items Completed: 0

Highlights: Paris

Lowlights: Moving (I love, love, love our new space, but moving was pretty terrible.)

The Month Ahead:

We have so much going on this month! I'm heading to Seattle and Vancouver for Sea Wheeze, I'm making a trip home to NJ (and hoping to get some beach time in!), and we're going to a wedding at the end of the month. On top of that, I'm jumping from Sea Wheeze training right into training for the Richmond full. 

As far as goals go, I want to get completely settled in my new apartment, get back to blogging regularly (and explain why my posts have been so infrequent!), start cooking my way through a cookbook (another 30 Before 30 item!), and run a strong race in Vancouver!

How did the month of July shape up for you?
What are you looking forward to in August?
What are some of your tips for getting settled in after a move?

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