Drum roll: the (marathon) winner is…

I always knew I wanted to run a marathon (emphasis on **a**… I just wanted to run one!) at some point in my life. And I had the perfect plan: I would run the Paris marathon the year I turned 40. It would be pretty special. My parents and family would be there to cheer me on (and celebrate with a fab meal afterwards!). My husband too. Our kids would be holding little signs in French and English. I had it all worked out. Well, life rarely works out perfectly and fast forward a few years, I’m getting closer to that big birthday but I don’t have a husband anymore, I may never have children and I have a huge work conference mid-march that makes it very difficult for me to even entertain the idea of training for and running an April marathon. How does that expression about the best laid plans go again? Insert it here 😉 

So obviously, it was time for a new plan! After running the Marine Corps Marathon 10K last year (you can read my race recap here), that plan became a little clearer. Why wait until a milestone birthday… I would run a marathon in 2018! I made it official and put it in my running goals for the year. The big question remained where would I run that marathon. If I’m only going to run one, it should be special right? So I jotted down a list of contenders, cities that are meaningful to me like Montreal or just wild cards like Hawaii (trying to get to those 50 states!) and Berlin (can you believe I have never been to Germany!?). I even included Paris on the list because, well, that would still be the most special and meaningful place for me to run my first marathon and I wasn’t entirely ready to give up on that idea…

But eventually, reality set in… the most practical option was always Washington, D.C. This is my city now, it *is* special to me. There’d be no travel required (ok, maybe a short uber ride to the start line). I have a support system here and will know plenty of other runners (and hopefully some cheerers too!) A third of all runners in the Marine Corps Marathon are first timers like me and there’s something very reassuring about that too. Now I just had to get into the race… 

I decided I didn’t want to deal with the stress of the lottery and instead focused my energy on getting into the 17.75K, a rather hill-y race in Prince William Forest Park named after the year the year the Marine Corps was established. Not only do i love running races that are in kilometers, but completing the race guarantees you a bib to the Marine Corps Marathon later in the year.  Registration opened at 11AM Wednesday and despite a very poorly timed meeting at 10:30AM, I managed to get in! The race sold out in less than 8 minutes, so it was no small feat and now there’s no turning back: I’m doing this marathon thing in 2018 and I’m doing it in D.C.! If all goes according to my newly laid plan, I’ll be running with the Marines comes October!

Wish me luck!! 

I Made a Plan & (Actually) Stuck with It!

You know what feels good? Being back on track with my Cherry Blossom Ten Mile run training and actually feeling like I *am* making some progress. I tried a couple of new things this week, including actually sticking to the training schedule I had set up for myself 😉 I also survived my first Cyclebar/run in one day combo. It wasn’t so bad… until the next day. I ran by myself (the 20 degree spring-like temperatures on Thursday were definitely a motivating factor to get out there!) and I paced myself differently during my long run. All in all, it worked out really well for me so I’m hoping to do more of the same this week. Here’s a little more detail about week 4 of training for the Cherry Blossom race:

  • Monday: I *finally* moved up to the Pacers’ 14th street run club 5 miles group… and it was painful. I know they always say that all paces are welcome in a running group, but if you can’t keep up you’re basically left behind to run by yourself, which is exactly what happened to me. Feels pretty weak. Luckily, my friend Robert stayed behind with me and helped keep me motivated enough to at least complete the run. Let’s hope it goes better this week! 
  • Tuesday: for Mardi Gras, I did both a morning Cyclebar class (merci for the King’s Cake Neesh!) AND a run with Pacers. I downgraded to the 3 miles though, my legs were definitely tired!
  • Wednesday: I love Valerie’s class at Cyclebar NoMa and it was the perfect workout before stuffing myself silly with raclette for Vaslentine’s Day afterwards!
  • Thursday: What a difference a few months make! Given 20 degree temperatures, 3 months ago me would have been all “oooh, perfect weather for rosé on the roof!” but today me couldn’t wait to get out for a run. In a tank top. In February! Even if it was a short one to the mall and back I’m glad I did it. I still struggle to run on my own, outside of the motivating group structure.  But it’ll never get easier if I don’t push myself to do them once in a while.
  • Friday: Rest Day! My legs really needed a break 😉
  • Saturday: I couldn’t resist the Pitbul vs Kanye class at Cyclebar NoMa!
  • Sunday: I know an important component of running is your mental strength and I still have a lot of work to do there… so while I had planned to do my long run with Summit to Soul, I decided, especially after Monday’s run, that I wanted to be surrounded with people at my level. I already don’t feel great physically running 10 to 12 kilometers, I don’t need to feel emotionally defeated on top of it because I’m not as fast or strong as everyone else. I had had a good week so far and I wanted to keep feeling good… So I joined my Potomac River Running Training group. There, I don’t feel like the weakest link. There’s a comfort to training with people at my level. Some are true beginners. Others, like Sarah Beth (read her recap here… she ran the full 10 miles last Sunday!), are more experienced. I’m somewhere in the middle… definitely not a beginner anymore (yeah!) but not quite at the intermediate level yet.  But I don’t feel alone in my struggles with this group. For the second week in a row, I found this smaller group of 5-6 runners that were right around my pace. Some were ahead of me. Some were behind me. And for 11 kilometers, there was something really comforting about that. I tried something a little different as well. Typically, I’m really bad at pacing myself. I’ll try to go too fast for a bit, get tired and have to walk a little then repeat that cycle. This week, I found this girl (I don’t know her name because I’m a terrible person!) who seemed to be really good about pacing herself at 7/km pace (I typically had been running around 6:15-6:50) and decided to follow her. Kinda in a creepy way, like when a car is sticking a little too close to you… but it worked really well for me. I ran the whole 11 kilometers with only maybe one or two stops (including one to take this selfie with the Washington Monument!). I definitely will have to try this again (the pacing, not the creepy following!) 

So it was a really good week for me. I ran close to 30 kilometers… which is almost what I ran in the whole month of January… this is my plan for this week, on pretty new stationary from Target’s dollar bin!

I’ll be focusing on improving/increasing my solo runs and trying Daybreaker for the first time (dancing counts as cross training right?) I’ll let you know how it goes! And since I mentioned Summit to Soul in my post…did you catch its fabulous owner Kim talk sustainable athleisure wear on WUSA 9’s Great Day Washington? Here’s a link if you missed it. And of course, here’s the link to all the other Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run training posts! 

 

 

“If It Rains, We Will Get Wet” Part Deux

So we definitely got wet this week! The weather (cold, rainy, dreary) was kind of a metaphor for my training this week. It all started when I decided to help with a screening of Oscar-nominated “A Fantastic Woman” instead of joining Pacers for my typical Monday night run. The film was great and I highly recommend it, but by not sticking with my usual routine like that on day one I set a messy tone for the rest of the week and never quite recovered. So here is what my training plan was supposed to look like, and what I ended up doing:

  • Monday: this was supposed to be the day I moved up to the 5 miles group at Pacers… but I went to the movies instead. I did go to Cyclebar in the morning at least…
  • Tuesday: I meant to do that five mile run in the morning, but decided my bed was just way too comfortable and warm. Second run fail! I did meet up with my friend Alison for Healthy Hour after work. Alison works in the wine industry (she launched D.C. Champagne Week last year actually!) and always seems to be on a mini-cleanse when I try to plan get-togethers so I was happy to be suggest an activity that didn’t revolve around drinking for once. Instead, we practiced yoga at a special session organized by Flow Yoga and the National Cathedral. The setting was absolutely gorgeous, though we were kinda packed in like sardines… I’ve been finding it hard to keep both an active social AND run four times a week so it was great to be able to combine a workout with catching up with a friend… I definitely need to find more ways to do that.
  • Wednesday: I *had* to do that 5 miles run… but it was *so* gross outside… and my couch looked so comfy and inviting, all I wanted to do was curl up next to my cat with a good book and a glass of wine. I did muster just enough motivation to painfully run 6 kilometers on the treadmill but I was not pleased with myself.
  • Thursday: I was determined to run those five miles, at the very least on the treadmill at work. I didn’t. But I did see I, Tonya which totally put me in the mood for the Olympics!
  • Friday: I normally would have attended Haley’s Happiest of Hours class at 6PM at Cyclebar BUT I had a catering tasting for work in the afternoon (exercising isn’t ideal after tasting all the food and sampling all the wines) AND it was Angie’s last class that I could make it to at 7AM so I went to Cyclebar in the morning, which means, again, no run. 
  • Saturday: I took Valerie’s class at Cyclebar and then treated myself to coffee at newly opened Pluma by Bluebird Bakery. Such a cute spot (those tiles!) I’ll have to go back soon and try some of their pastries and food offerings. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that they are serving beer from Brasserie de la Pigeonelle, from the Touraine region of France. Other than that, it rained the rest of the day. I did not run.
  • Sunday: I ran about 8.4K in the rain with my Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Potomac River Running Training Programs group. It sucked, and had I been better during the week, I may have been tempted to skip it. But I didn’t. And other than being cold, wet and miserable, it was actually a good run.My Strava died at 3.6 kilometers so I’m basing my pace (7:09/kilometer) and distance on the rest of the group. I stuck with a handful of other runners, walked less than in previous long runs and I *finally* did those 5 miles that had eluded me all week. So while it’s hard for me to be pleased with myself all around (total kilometers ran: 14.4 km, instead of the almost 30 I was trying to do)  I did at least end on a good note! 

So looking forward, because there’s no point in looking backwards and dwelling over a bad week, here is what I planned out: Tuesday (AM), Wednesday and Friday I’ll be doing classes at Cyclebar NoMa, I’ll run with Pacers Monday and Tuesday (Tuesday is Mardi Gras AND February’s Shake Shack Run Night — coincidence? Yes, but a pretty good one right!?! Also, not a coincidence that I’m doing both cyclebar and a run… Neesh said she’s bringing Kings’ Cake to class so I’ll definitely need the double dose of exercise lol). I’m planning on running 5 miles Monday and just 3 miles Tuesday. Sunday, I might skip my usual training long run to join Summit to Soul’s Hillrunners for their Rock ‘N Roll DC 1/2 Marathon Training Run. They’re planning on running 6 miles and I need to run around 10 kilometers so it should work out. I still haven’t made it to a track, so Thursday might be track day… or rest day… I might play my Thursday/Saturday by ear, maybe try and do yoga Saturday… I’m not sure yet. But I’m determined to get my runs and have a better week than last week. What’s on your training agenda for the week? Off anywhere fun for the long weekend? I’ll be here. Running. Or Cyclebar-ing. Or both 😉 

Training for the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run on April 9th? Link up with us!! 

Cherry Blossom Training Recap~Week 2

If it rains – we will get wet.
If it snows – we will get wet and cold.
Amy, =PR= Training Program Coach

I’m happy to report that we did not get wet this week, a marked improvement from last weekend’s training long run. And while I didn’t increase the number of kilometers I ran on Sunday, sticking with 7.5km, I did improve my pace so I am starting to see some small results. And it’s a good thing I did run a bit faster because otherwise, I would have gotten wet and cold as it started to snow slash pour rain just around the time I ended my run! Otherwise, my mini-goal this week was to run 4 times, as opposed to 3, and I’m happy to report I met my goal, though I didn’t quite meet my “mileage” goals 😦 Baby steps I guess. Here’s what I had planned to do last week and what I ended up doing:

  • Monday: the plan was to run 5K with Pacers and that’s exactly what I did. I thought I might be tired after my “long run” Sunday but I kept a pace of 6.18/km which is pretty good for me. 
  • Tuesday: I had planned to visit a friend’s new apartment at Navy Yard so I took care of my workout early with a morning Cyclebar NoMa class. 
  • Wednesday: Wednesdays are tough. My friends plan things. And I love attending Valerie’s Cyclebar class after work, but I also love running with the Hill Runners of Summit to Soul. Since they were doing a special No Buts Night Run in partnership with REI (REI donated $1 per person who pledge to and ran in the dark that night to the American Hiking Society in support of the National Trails System 50th Anniversary) I made it a point to join them for a run around the Capitol. It was a fun group that included 3 dogs too! Bonus.
  • Thursday: that wasn’t quite the plan, but Thursday ended up being my rest day. I had ballet tickets so I knew I had to either get my run in or go to Cyclebar that morning. I chose to do neither…. 
  • Friday:  Since I had missed it to see Star Wars last week, I was glad to be back at Haley’s Happiest of Hours class, especially since it was la chandeleur, a big French holiday that mostly involves eating crêpes and I was definitely planning on celebrating!
  • Saturday: that was supposed to be my rest day but I *had* to get in a run or I wouldn’t meet my four runs goal. I ended up struggling through 4km on the treadmill.
  • Sunday: I learned my lesson from last week and had a coconut-chocolate RX bar before heading out. That way I could think of other things beside “OMD I’m hungry” while running. Like “OMD why am I doing this when I could be watching the Sunday Talk Shows in the warmth of my home” or just “OMD why am I doing this.” I’m basically in between the intermediate runners and the beginners, so I spent most of the run by myself in between the groups and that was fine. It was fun to be able to compare my pace on the same distance from one week to the other, and while I plan to run more next week (aiming for a 10km or at least 6 miles), I think I’ll still track my time at the 7.5km mark just to see… 

Overall, I ran 21.6 kilometers last week, slightly better than last week’s 18 km but I know I’ve gotta start increasing my distances. My goal is to get closer to 30 kilometer this week, and still run four times. February was my deadline to move up to Pacers’ 5 mile run group, but it looks like it won’t happen this week since I’m actually not able to make it to my usual Pacers run due to work and other commitments. But I’ll still try to run five miles by myself at least once this week! Wish me luck!! 

As I mentioned, I’m training for #CUCB2018 as part of my involvement as one of the race’s social media ambassador. If you’re training for the race too and blogging about it, link up with us right here!!

Cherry Blossom Training Recap~Week 1

Last week, I officially kicked off my training for the Cherry Blossom 10 mile race, which is now a mere 10 weeks away (*insert panic emoji*). Aside from the cheer trickiness of trying to design a training plan for a 10 mile run when my brain still refuses to function in anything other than kilometers (Everyone else might be running the Cherry Blossom 10 miler but I’m running Les Seize Kilomètres des Cerisiers en Fleurs!), the first week went pretty well, culminating in my first “long run” with Potomac River Running Training Programs yesterday. 

Since I’ve been sick on-and-off since mid-December, I  decided to give my body the rest it seemed to need and took a 16 days break from running. The frigid temperatures didn’t help making want to get back out there any sooner! So last week I set a simple, realistic goal for myself: to slowly get myself back into running by doing three easy runs. Concretely, here is what my first week of training looked like:

  • Monday: ran 5.2 km with my Pacers‘ fun run group. My goal is still to move up to the 5 mile group in February (so next Monday).
  • Tuesday: ran 5.3 km with Pacers’ special Shake Shack Run. We all got to try the new Griddled Chick’n Club, which is probably not the best food to have after a run, but oh well 😉

  • Wednesday: I took Valerie’s class at Cyclebar NoMa. It’s one my favourite there, though Wednesdays get busy so I hadn’t been to her class since my birthday. 
  • Thursday/Friday: break! I normally would have taken Haley’s Happiest of Hour class at Cyclebar NoMa but I went to see Star Wars instead. I can’t believe I still hadn’t seen it!
  • Saturday: instead I took Haley’s Sounds from Y2K class at 11:30AM class on Saturday. The playlist was *awesome.*
  • Sunday: I met with Potomac River Running’s D.C. Credit Union Cherry Blossom/Spring Mid-Distance training group. I have *always* struggled with long runs (why run when you can walk?? Walking is SO fun!) so I’m really looking forward to this weekly group run even though I’m not that excited to have to wake up at 7AM every Sunday for the next 9 weeks… Goodbye social Saturday nights… it’s been nice knowing you. Yesterday, I had set myself a goal of running 8 km and made it to 7.5 km with some walking. I can make excuses (it was raining which sucked… I didn’t eat anything before running) but truth is I know I need to push myself harder next week.  

So, I ran a total of 18 km and went to Cyclebar twice last week. For week 2 of training for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, my “mini-goal” is up my number of outings to 4/week. I’ll be running 5 km with Pacers on Monday and Summit to Soul (part of the No Buts Night Run in Partnership with REI and Ragnar) on Wednesday. I’ll attempt to do 6-8 km on my own either Thursday or Friday (probably Friday morning though) before clocking in my last run, ideally an 8-10 km with my training group on Sunday. And I’m planning on going to Cyclebar NoMa Tuesday and Thursday mornings (or Friday evening instead of Thursday morning depending on when I end up doing that run.) Right now, it seems daunting, I’m not going to lie. I’m also trying to watch the State of the Union Tuesday, eat all the crêpes Friday (I’m french, I would NEVER miss celebrating la chandeleur!) AND see a ballet at the Kennedy Center Thursday. As I contemplate this schedule, I can’t help but think of #11 and #12 from this list of 12 hacks to become a better runner. I’ve got number one down (“Start slow”) but I’m having a harder time getting to “Don’t Overexert Yourself” and “Maintain an Overall Healthy Lifestyle.” Good thing I have NO intention of watching the Super Bowl (not even the half time show, not even the commercials!) because I might need all of Sunday afternoon to rest and recover! 

Nonetheless, this is my plan and I’m going to try and stick to it! Wish me luck and stay tuned for an update next week… if I survive 😉

ps: I’m participating in Potomac River Running’s Credit Union Cherry Blossom/Spring Mid-Distance training group as part of my commitment as one of the race’s social media ambassador and if you are planning on running the race on April 8 and think that you might need that extra little help to be ready for it, you can still sign up to participate too (more information here). They have groups meeting in Georgetown, Reston and Vienna. And if you didn’t get a bib for the race, you can still get one by signing up for one of the premium programs that comes with an entry to the 10 miler. 

 

My Running Goals for 2018

Last year was rough for me. I decided to start running both as a way to add structure and discipline to my life at a time when it was sorely lacking any kind of order and to give myself a reason to push myself and feel proud of myself again. I jotted down an initial set of goals and while I achieved some of them, I still have a lot of work to do this year… The one goal I’m so glad I met was joining a running group. As an introvert AND a new runner,  the idea of meeting up with a group of strangers and make small talk *while* trying to keep up with their pace was absolutely overwhelming and daunting. But that was also the point right? Getting outside of my comfort zone a bit… I waited until the second half of the year to muster the courage to show up at Pacers and Summit to Soul but it’s been one of the best thing I did last year. While I haven’t been able to make to as many Wednesday runs on the hill as I’d like, I’ve mostly stuck with Pacers’ Monday runs and have already met so many inspiring runners. This year, I’ll still join Pacers on Monday, though I’m setting the mini-goal of graduating from the 3 miles group to the 5 miles by the beginning of February and to the 7 miles group by March. If I’m going to run the Rock’n’Roll half marathon on March 10th, I should be able to run 7 miles easily by March 1st. At least that’s the plan…. I’m also going to try and make it to as many Wednesday runs with Summit to Soul as I can (thinking every other week hopefully) and starting at the end of January I’ll join Potomac River Running for track work on Thursday nights and long runs on Saturday, all with the goal of training for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler on April 8th. With that in mind, and given some of the races I have already signed up for or plan to sign up for, here are my running goals 2.0 for 2018!

1. Make Running a Regular, Consistent Habit

Yes, I’ve been running in 2017 but I know I’m not running enough right now. One of my goals in 2017 was to join a running group and turn running into a social activity. And I’ve done pretty well as far as this goal is concerned. But I don’t really run outside of that and that has to change. And it will as I’m looking to up my running schedule to 3-4 runs a week, including one evening of track run and a long run. This is what I should be doing anyway to properly train for half marathons and build up to training for a full in the fall. 

2. Run a 5K Without Walking and in less than 30 Minutes

I still struggle with these goals from 2017 so I’m putting them back on the list and lumping them together! I ran my last 5K in 34:56 so I’m getting closer but I’m not there yet. Which is why I am adding goal #3 and #4 below.

3. Start Doing some Track Workouts

I haven’t stepped foot on a track since high school probably but as part of my Cherry Blossom 10 Mile run training I’ll be joining Potomac River Running at Wilson High School every Thursday night for some track work. I’m glad I’ll be doing it with a coach because despite reading a lot of track work for beginners guides (I like Lazy Girl Running’s primmer or Why You Need to Add Track Workouts to Your Training by Eat Pray Run DC) I’m still very intimidated and have no idea where to start!

4. Become a Faster Runner

Hopefully running more regularly and adding track workouts will help with this. Running with groups is motivating as well because it forces me to push myself to keep up when I may be tempted to slow down and walk if I were by myself. And Runners World has a couple of speed workouts I might try as well…. 

5. Run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler at a 10:30 pace or under

Last year, one of my goals was just to run the Cherry Blossom 10 miler but this year I am determined to run it well. This will be my fourth time running DC’s prettiest spring race so I actually have some benchmarks to base how fast I should be able to run the race. The fastest I did so far was 1:54, which is a 11:28 pace. I currently run my regular runs between a 10:00 and 10:60 pace per mile and since I plan on training this time I do feel confident that this is a realistic goal for me and that I can shave off 10 minutes from my previous Cherry Blossom PR (cross the finish line in 1:45.) Ideally, I’ll be able to set a more ambitious goal for a fall 10 miler, perhaps the Army 10 miler.

6. Run a marathon

I’m still trying to figure out which one that will be but I *will* run my first marathon in 2018, most likely in the fall. I had to rule out Paris because I don’t think I’ll be ready by April (also, it’s on the same day as the Cherry Blossom 10 mile run and I’m definitely committed to that race!) I had summarized my options in this post “Where Should I Run My First Marathon?” but I’m pretty sure I would like to run the Marine Corps Marathon. Of course, I have no guarantee that I’ll get in at this point. I’m going to try and sign up for the Access Granted 17.75K, a race through Prince Williams Forrest Park whose distance reflects the year the Marine Corps was established. One of the best part of running that race is that all the men and women who cross the finish line earn access to the Marine Corps Marathon… And even though I always said I only wanted to run one marathon in my life and no more, I’m pretty sure I’ll wanna run Paris in 2019! And then run the marathon du Medoc (possibly dressed something like these guys below… I do love me a good race costume/outfit!) 

7. Run a Race in Paris

Speaking of running the Paris marathon in 2019, I actually really want to run a race in Paris. Running the Disneyland Paris half marathon was super fun (you can read my recap here) but I really want to run in the actual streets of my hometown, not in country roads nearby 😉 Some of the options include le fitbit semi-marathon de Paris on March 4 (that one would be really cool because it runs through Bastille where I grew up, but it’s a tricky date for me because I have a HUGE work conference starting on the 10th!), the Paris-Versailles on September 30th or the 20km de Paris on October 8th

8. Stretch More

I know I need to stretch more, both before and after runs. I’d love to do yoga more often too, so there, writing it down into my resolutions!

9. Have Fun, Enjoy Running and Make Some Running Friends!

Most of my friends fall in one of two categories: they hate running or they love running and are WAY too fast for me to run with 😉 Nonetheless, even if I only keep up for 5 minutes, as was the case when I ran the Disney half with my friend Caitlin, it’s still more fun to hang out with people you know when you’re in your coral waiting for the start (and in my case usually have them wait for me at the finish!) It’d be great to have people to travel to races with and that sort of thing. Running with Pacers has been great so far in meeting other runners and I want to continue to meet inspiring people through running in 2018.

10. Feel Good About Myself After a Race

Unlike all of the other races that I have run so far, I would like to cross a finish line and feel like, no matter how long it took me to get there, I gave it all I could on the course and in training. Like in most sport, you get out what you put in and I know I’m not putting in enough. And that has to change in 2018 ! 

Bonus Goal: Take Better Race Pictures

Seriously, mine are terrible right now. And that’s the ones I pose for… you should see the ones from during the actual races 😉 Clearly I need to start paying closer attention to the photogs along the course!

Motivation Monday Links: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Dreaming of a White (House) Christmas… Hillary Clinton White House that is!

Happy Monday! Christmas is just a few days away! Here are some interesting tidbits about Christmas in America from the Pew Research Center. Meanwhile, Hanukkah is almost over. I celebrated with some friends over the weekend and fell in love with this amazing pop-rock chocolate from Israel.

Meanwhile, around the world, Holocaust survivors got together to celebrate the holiday in an inaugural global celebration. And still on the topic of Hannukah, check out these amazing (and healthy!) spaghetti squash and quinoa latkes from my friend Deborah. She’s one of my fellow cherry blossom 10 mile run ambassador and I’m already hooked on her blog Confessions of a Mother Runner.

Over the weekend, I crossed off a few additional items from Tammy’s Definitive #DCChristmasChallenge to-do-list, including touring the White House Christmas Decorations,  going to Zoolights and grabbing a bite at Duke’s counter across the street.

I loved this green spined books Christmas tree in the White House east Wing Library

I think unfortunately, that’s as far as I’m going to make it down the list as I head out to Colombia on Thursday. What are some of your favourite holiday-traditions and events in the city?

In non-holidays related news, back in April, women were allowed to participate in Iran’s TehRUN event, the country’s first international marathon. Except they were forced to run in an indoor track. Not cool. Mahsa Torabi just became the first woman to publicly complete a marathon in Iran. To evade possible police intervention, she arrived at the starting point for the marathon at 6 a.m., two hours ahead of the official start time, and ran the 42 kilometer course in just over five hours stating “I showed women can run in marathons and I showed women have strength. I really believe that nothing is impossible.

These foods get healthier when you pair them with booze.  YES!

This was one of my favourite piece of food-related writing this year: Tom Sietsema, food critic at the Washington Post, spent some time in the kitchen working as a dishwater. Along the way, he learned that you can tell a lot about a chef by the way he treats those doing a restaurant’s dirtiest, yet most crucial, job. Worth a read!

And lastly, congratulations to this team of kick-ass French ladies who defeated Norway last night to win the handball world title. Cocorico!

 

My 2017 Instagram Best Nine… and What I Wish They Had Been

The year isn’t quite over yet and while I could still post another like-racking picture to my instagram account, like many people on your feed, I decided to check out what my top 9 posts of 2017 were. And I have to say, I’m a little bit surprised. I mean… they’re SO DC! Seriously… only two of them do not involve a Washington landmark. 5 of them were taken along the Tidal Basin, 3 feature cherry blossoms, 2 focus on the US Capitol, 2 on the Washington Monument and 3 on the Jefferson Memorial. It’s like I never left the city 😉 

Now I love these pictures, don’t get me wrong (you can see my whole instagram feed here). I do feel they’re probably the prettiest I posted (or, you know, reflect how much people love Game of Thrones!) but I don’t know that they tell the story of what my year was like. So I picked 9 other photos from moments that meant a lot to me in 2017. 

One of the most difficult but important thing I did last year was sell the condo where my ex-husband and I had lived since 2008 and buy a place of my own. It was an awful experience, but  finally in August, after months of crashing in friends’ guest rooms or basements, I was able to move into my new condo, a whole two blocks away from my old one, in the neighbourhood I  love and have now called home for 11 years. I love this first picture because it reflects just how happy I am now to be able to enjoy la vie en rosé from my rooftop, which has beautiful views of both the US Capitol and the Washington Monument. Another important thing I did in 2017 was run the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon with my bestie Caitlin (you can read my race recap here.) We met in Paris 20+ years ago, when our high schools participated in an exchange program but hadn’t been back there together in ages. I started running this year, it’s become a huge part of my life, even though I’m still pretty bad at it and I’m still learning to enjoy it. It was amazing to run with her at Disney (where I used to work right after college too!) then spend the rest of the week playing and eating in the city. AND I got to wear fun mermaid leggings too!!

The third picture was taken during the French elections. We voted a lot last year. Like every 2 weeks it seemed like I was back at the embassy but I love that my vote as an expat has as much weight as that of any other French citizen anywhere in the world. Voting for Macron, a rather unknown entity in French politics, was a tough decision but not one I am regretting so far. With everything that’s been happening here in the US, I’m proud of the course France has chosen. Speaking of France, I traveled to a part of France I had never been to before, French Guiana, to see a rocket launch. In the distance behind me on that fourth picture in an Ariane 5 fusée hours before I saw it blast into the sky. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience, though since I work for the company that launched the rocket, there might actually be others in my future 😉 The fifth picture is of course diner en blanc which took over all of Pennsylvania Avenue in early September. I had lobbied for that location for 2 years so I was stoked, and I was stoked also that my high school friend Alexandra came down from Montreal to attend the event with me. Hopefully, next year, it will be the other way around and I will head up to Montreal to see her and attend Diner en Blanc there! Next up is a picture of the adorable window at Ladurée in Georgetown. The iconic brand opened two locations in Washington DC and it made my year. I should note though that the fraisier in my original Best Nine picture is from Ladurée. It was a cute creation for July 14, with the bleu blanc rouge markings of the French flag on top of the delicious layers of cream and strawberries. 

The last three pictures reflect a little bit of the travels I got to do last year. With everything that was going on in my personal life, traveling took a bit of a back seat. That being said, I still got around 😉 Of course, I went to Kourou which involved a lot of work but was still amazing. I stopped in Miami on the way back for a long weekend on my own. It was my third time in the city but the only time where I actually got to decide on what I wanted to do (I was seven the first time, so yeah, didn’t get a lot of say… though we went to Disney so I think I was pretty happy!) I also went to Logan, Utah for a work conference. That trip was very last minute so I didn’t have a lot of time to plan add-ons, though I will next year for sure! I also did a few fun weekends here and there, to Rehoboth during the inauguration, New York of course, Connecticut to visit my college roommate, to Savannah to see one of my faves marry an awesome French dude and to Richmond for the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit and Baltimore for their inaugural Diner en Blanc. But my favourite trip of the year was my road trip to Canada with my parents. We stopped in Albany where I had a drink with Lauren of Healthy Delicious (we went to grad school together!) and Medina where I checked up on Alex and Scott of a DC Minute. I caught up with my friends Lindsay (another exchange buddy from way back in the days!) and Rochelle in Toronto then drank all the wines at Niagara-on-the-lake, went on a great hike in Hamilton and of course saw those big famous falls. We then drove back to DC through Detroit and Pittsburgh but I love the time we spent in Canada while the whole country was celebrating its 150th anniversary. I also loved my long and rainy weekend in Seattle visiting my friend Katia. I hadn’t crossed off a new state in a while so it was good to visit Washington, aka number 44. Now I just have to make my way to Hawaii, Alaska, Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. 

Last but not least, yeah, cherry blossoms. I had many moments of doubts, of course, over the past year. I always said I lived in Washington because it was where my husband lived and worked. After we separated last year, I really wondered if I should stay here or if I should perhaps look into opportunities in Montreal or even back in Europe. In the end, I genuinely love living in this city and I fall in love with it all over again every spring when it turns all pink! I guess my original Best Nine were pretty spot on then 😉

I’m Running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Again!

Thursday, the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run will hold a reception at the National Building Museum to officially kick off the 2018 edition of DC’s iconic spring race. You might be thinking that December is a little early to kick-off a race that’s in April, but it’s actually the perfect timing. You definitely want to decide now if you want to try running this race since the lottery for entries opens Friday, December 1st (you can sign up to get an alert when the lottery opens here). Runners will have until December 11th to submit their application and the “winners” will be notified a few days later. 

Last year, I entered the lottery on a whim. I needed something positive and healthy to focus on at the time. And I got in… It actually wasn’t my first time running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. I’ve ran it three times already and have a 100% success rate at the lottery so far 😉

The first time I ran the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler was in 2010. My friend Caitlin and I actually thought we were signing up for a 10K. Oopsie. It was my very first race EVER and I ran it in 1:57 (11:43 pace). I ran it again the following year, just a tiny bit faster, in 1:54 (11:28 pace). And then I kinda stopped running. The truth is running is hard. You have to train consistently to see results and I simply wasn’t putting in the work so I struggled through races and felt disappointed and discouraged after crossing the finish line. But I decided that I wouldn’t take the easy way out and that I would get back into running. I entered the lottery. I got in. And ran my worst race ever. I finished the 10 miles in two hours and thirteen minutes,  a mere 7 minutes short of not being considered a finisher. What did I do wrong? There’s no easy way out, I didn’t put in the work again. I did all the cross training, I swam and took body pump classes regularly. But I didn’t run enough. I skipped all the long runs and you can’t expect to a good 10 miles when you can barely make it through 3 miles during training. So 2018 will be my redemption year. I’ve joined some running groups and I’m starting to enjoy the social aspect of running a lot more. I ran the Marine Corp Marathon 10K (race recap here) and a half marathon (race recap here). I’m still slow but my pace has improved. I can do this!

For additional accountability, though, I applied for a different kind of Cherry Blossom “lottery” this year. I sent in my application to be one of the ambassador for the race. I still have a 100% success rate at this lottery because I got in! I’m so excited to be running this race again on April 8, 2018 and I’m so excited that I get to take you along with me on this journey to *actually* set myself up to have a good race I can be proud of. One of the “perks” that comes with being one of the Social Media Ambassadors for the 46th Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run is joining the Cherry Blossom Spring Mid-Distance training offered by =PR= Training Programs. The training will start the weekend of January 27-28, 2018 (I’ll be training with the DC/Arlington group, but there are groups in Reston and Vienna too) with weekly group weekend run. Long runs! The kind I struggle with the most 😉 I’ll have a coach to help guide me through the process (and who will design a 10-week schedule for me based on my experience and goals for the races.) I can’t wait! If you think you could use some training as well, or if you want to tackle the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run as one of your first race, I highly recommend checking out =PR= Training Programs. Bonus: if you sign up for the premium program (details here) you are guaranteed a race bib so you don’t need to worry about your odds at the lottery…

I’m excited to kick off this new chapter on Thursday. Unfortunately, the kick off reception is no longer accepting rsvps but you can check out my blog Friday for a full recap, including the reveal of the official t-shirt design and colour (we’ll actually be voting on the colour during the reception!) 

 

 

Motivation Monday Links: Post Turkeyfest Edition

Happy Monday! If you celebrated Thanksgiving over the weekend, I hope it was a good one. I needed a bit of a break so I didn’t really do much, other than running Alexandria’ 5 mile turkey trot. Now  I feel refreshed as we gear up for the holidays! My Christmas tree is already up and I can’t wait for all the festivities and the parties. But until then, here are a couple of links of stories and articles that caught my eyes recently.

One of the thing I did do over the long weekend was see Coco, Disney-Pixar’s latest masterpiece (pro-tip: bring Kleenexes when you go see it!) . The animated film, which takes place during Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration forced Pixar to dive deep into a real-world culture — and add some diversity to its team in order to be cultural authentic. Coco came out earlier in Mexico and has smashed box office records there. So clearly they did something right!

While Disney-Pixar diversified its team, there’s a lot of progress to be done in the still mostly white boy club that is Hollywood… including its movie critics. Very few of the major publications’ reviews have been written by latino writers so this article shares 5 pieces penned by latino film critics. Spoiler alert: they all LOVED it.

My friend Madalene (check out her Tuesday Truths posts, she always links to some great motivational stories!) sent me this article on Virginie Routis, the 38 woman who decides what Emmanuel Macron and his guests drink and looks after the 14,000 wine bottle cellar of the Elysée Palace. I have a girl crush! If you’d prefer to read about her in French, I dug out this profile L’Obs had written last year too.

Earlier, Madalene had also shared this article about how Shalane Flanagan had nurtured and promoted rising talent around her while catapulting herself to the top of her sport. Every single one of her training partners — 11 women in total — has made it to the Olympics while training with her, an extraordinary feat!

Did you catch 60 Minutes’ profile of Jose Andres last night? DC’s most celebrated chef has helped provide more than 3 million warm meal in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria ravaged the island (and 40,000 on Thanksgiving day!) He is truly inspiring! ps: Giving Tuesday is tomorrow and you can donate to his organization, World Kitchen right here.

In fluffier news, the White House revealed its holiday decorations and it looks stunning. I can’t wait to tour them myself in a few weeks! And in other DC news, Politico is partnering with women-lead businesses in the DC-metro area to bring us a full week of exclusive Women Rule perks in the lead up to their Women Rule Summit on December 5th.  Some of the specials include $2 off a glass of wine at my fave La Jambe on Thursday, a special #WomenRule run + yoga at another one of my fave, Summit to Soul Wednesday or a 20% discount on dinner at Chaia Tuesday. 

So, as I mentioned, I put up my Christmas tree over the weekend and I also went to City Center for their Christmas tree lighting. I love when the city is all decorated for the holiday. When do you typically put up your Christmas tree (assuming you put one up of course)?