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)? 

 

5 Local Boutiques I Love for #SmallBusinessSaturday

Even though Small Business Saturday is a totally made-up holiday invented by American Express in 2009, the sentiment behind it is really nice: support local small businesses! In that spirit, here are some of my fave independent shops in DC:

SUMMIT TO SOUL

As you may have noticed if you’re reading this blog regularly lately, I recently started running. One of my running resolutions for the year was to join a running group and the first one I tried was Summit to Soul‘s Wednesday night runs around the US Capitol. I just fell in love with this adorable shop and its supportive community of awesome runneuses. Summit to Soul is an adorable woman-owned local shop on Barrack Row that specializes on women’s athletic apparel. It carries the cheeky tanks and sweatshirt from Sarah Marie Design Studio which I simply cannot get enough of. 

 

GRAND CATA

Let’s face it, I’m a bit of a wine snob but that’s mostly because I grew up drinking French wines and they’re just what I know best (having a grandmother who lived in rosé  mecca Bandol certainly helped!)  I’m trying to branch out though and be more open minded so I LOVE dropping by Grand Cata in Shaw and let its co-founders, Julio and Pedro, talk me into trying a bottle I would have never picked up on my own. To this date, I have never been disappointed. More than a Latin American wine shop, Grand Cata is in the business of promoting Latin American culture. Its mercadito sells gourmet products from all over the continent (including anchovies stuffed olives which I adore) and frequently showcases the work of Latin American artists. Of course, most wine shops in the city fall in the small business category and there are many others that I love including Wardman Wines in Brookland, DCanter on Capitol Hill, Weygandt Wines in Cleveland Park or Cork and Fork on 14th street. I also love Via Umbria in Georgetown, though wine isn’t its main focus. It sells stunning Italian ceramics, linens and food in addition to running an amazing café. 

 

 

KRAMERBOOKS & AFTERWORDS CAFE

We’re big readers here in DC and are very lucky to have some great independent bookstores in town, including some like Politics & Prose in Chevy Chase and the newly expended Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in Dupont Circle that organize great literary-focused events too. Bookstores were the preferred shopping destination of President Obama who always made a point of visiting an independent shop on small business Saturday (he had a sweet tooth as well and visited The Dairy Godmother in Del Ray one year!). I doubt President Trump will be stopping by any of our local businesses since he’s spending the long weekend golfing at Mar-a-Lago… I mean, the winter White House 😉 Other local bookstores you could visit Saturday (or any day of the year really!) include Upshur Street Books in Petworth, Capitol Hill Books near Eastern Market, Idle Time Books in Adams Morgan or Bridge Street Books in Georgetown.  

 

HILL’S KITCHEN

The Washington Post just profiled this gem of a shop on Capitol Hill, wondering how it has managed to survive in the age of Amazon. The answer, and what always brings me back, is by carrying some cheeky DC focused products (think DC shaped cutting board, cookie cutters shaped like the US Capitol and even for all 50 states etc.) that you wouldn’t find at Williams & Sonoma or Sur La Table. That’s in addition to everything you could even need for your kitchen. Other shops I love in this category are Home Rule on 14th street and The Cookery near the National Cathedral.

 

LE VILLAGE MARCHE

I could buy everything in this home goods and decor store, especially around the holidays! Perhaps that’s because Le Village Marche, which has two boutiques in Cathedral Heights and Shirlington, specializes in Parisian-inspired home decor and gifts, including  French soaps, candles, letterpress stationery, kitchen accessories and artwork. Also specializing in home goods and gifts: vintage home furnishings boutique Miss Pixie and Amanda McClement’s impeccably curated Salt & Sundry (with locations on 14th street and Union Market, as well as two sister shops specializing in paper goods and plants, Little Leaf, also at Union Market and just off of 14th street.) 

 

 

Washington, D.C. To-Do List for Thanksgiving Weekend

Guess who’s stuck in Washington, D.C. for Thanksgiving? 

Not Taylor Swift, me 😉 If you’re raising your hand too, I’ve got a few ideas of things you can do to still have a fabulous weekend in the city.

VOLUNTEER

So you have no family here or you’re stuck having to work on Friday… guess what, there are people who have it worse than you. So why not give back and help those less fortunate. The D.C. Jewish Community Center hosts a number of “everything but the turkey” volunteer events between Sunday November 19th and Tuesday November 21st (including one that is family friendly.) All of the shifts to assist with thanksgiving food preparation the week of Thanksgiving are already full at Food & Friends but you can still buy one of the Thanksgiving Pies they are selling to benefit their Slice of Life initiative (that one’s a win-win for everyone involved!). The Holiday Helpings opportunities at Bread for the City are also mostly all filled up (we’re obviously a city that loves to volunteer!) but you can still find some openings by looking through their volunteer opportunity calendar here. You can also participate in one of the region’s many Turkey Trots like the one benefiting SOME at Freedom Plaza on Thursday, November 23, 2017.

SOME is also accepting Thanksgiving donation baskets at 71 O Street on Friday, November 17 (8AM-4PM), Saturday November 18 (10AM-1PM) and Monday November 20 (8AM-4PM). You can learn more about this opportunity and what they need <here>

SEE A SHOW/PLAY/CONCERT/GAME

There’s always something happening at the newly re-branded Capitol One Arena in Chinatown. During Thanksgiving week, we’re looking at Lady gaga on Sunday, November 19th, hockey games on Saturday (Capitals vs Minnesota), Monday (vs. Calgary), Wednesday (vs. Ottawa) and Friday (vs. Tampa Bay) or basketball (Wizards vs. Portland on Saturday November 25. Other concerts include St. Vincent, performing at D.C.’s newest venue The Anthem on November 27 or Diplo at Echostage November 25th. On the more classical side, the National Symphony Orchestra will perform the score from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets while audiences relive the magic of the film on giant screens (November 24-25 and 26.)

Picture courtesy of the Kennedy Center

And of course, the Nutcracker starts at the Kennedy Center too… because Christmas. That means yep, A Christmas Carol is back at Ford’s Theater too. Less Christmas-y, you can catch performances of Twelfth Night by the Shakespeare Theater Company at Sidney Harman Hall (November 14-December 20th, tickets here), Nina Simone: Four Women at Arena Stage (November 10-December 24, tickets here) or The Second City Presents ‘Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains)’ (November 11 – December 31) at Woolly Mammoth Theater.  

CHECK OUT AN EXHIBIT OR A NEW MUSEUM

The University of Iowa Museum of Art was kind enough to loan us Jackson Pollock’s ‘Mural’, the artist’s largest work which will be on display at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building starting November 19th. While you’re there, you can still catch the Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting exhibit which opened on the West Building a few weeks ago.  And since the Freer Gallery of Art just reopened after nearly two years of renovations, why not check out its Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt exhibit (Miaou! open through January 15, 2018 at the Sackler Galleries), Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia (open through November 2020) or instagram your way through Subodh Gupta: ‘Terminal a new large-scale installation made from towers of brass containers that are connected by thread.

Image courtesy of the Hauser & Wirth Gallery

You can also catch the last few days of Kingdom of Colors at Artechouse. The  immersive visual experience, designed by French filmmaker Thomas Blanchard and artist Oilhack (with a soundtrack by Lyon-based composer Leonardo Villiger), closes November 26th. And there will be 5 augmented reality cocktails at this one! Finally, if that’s your thing, you can also visit D.C.’s newest museum, the Museum of the Bible, which will open November 17 (tickets are free.)

START CELEBRATING THE HOLIDAY SEASON

It might be Thanksgiving weekend, but as soon I’ve you’ve digested that Turkey the city is all about the holidays. Thanksgiving weekend is really Christmas season’s first weekend and you can get into the holiday spirits at one of those events:

  • Season’s Greenings, the United States Botanical Garden annual holiday show, opens Friday, November 23 (and runs through January 1, 2018.) Tickets are free but you might want to wait until a little later in December when the crowds die down a little. There will be a number of special evenings as well throughout the month with live music… and less children! You can read my recap of the 2015 edition right here.

  • Get a head start on buying those Christmas presents at the Downtown Holiday Market, whose tents will start appearing by the National Portrait Gallery as early as Saturday November 24.  
  • If the weather is nice, you can head to the National Zoo for ZooLights, a fun display of LED Christmas lights. (Free admission; 5-9 PM daily; November 24 – January 1, 2018)
  • CityCenterDC will light its impressive 75 feet tall holiday tree on Saturday, November 25 (6 PM) Also making an appearance, the 25-foot reindeer (I love those!)  
  • Donald Trump and his family will also be lighting the National Christmas Tree that Saturday. You had to enter a lottery to go to the actual ceremony but you can also just go check it out on Sunday instead. In addition to the National Christmas Tree, each state and US Territory has a smaller tree on display in President’s Park. 

 

Motivation Monday Links: Post-NYC Marathon Edition

Happy Monday! This is a short week for me. I *just* got back from a super quick trip to New York City and on Thursday, I’m headed off to Seattle. This will be my first time there and I’m looking forward to catching up with friends and exploring a new city — as well as crossing off state # 44! Only 6 more do go… For Motivation Monday today, I thought I’d  share a couple of fun and occasionally motivational links that caught my attention recently. Have a great week!

I spent most of yesterday cheering on the runners participating in the New York Marathon, including my bestie who crushed it in 3:56! Everyone, of course, is talking about Shalane Flanagan  becoming the first American woman to win the race in 40 years. But I love this story about Allie Kieffer, who was the second American woman finisher and fifth overall.

Speaking of Shalane Flanagan, after winning the marathon, she and other top finishers headed back to the finish line to cheer on and award their medals to the last finishers. If that’s not sportsmanship… I don’t know what is. While you’re at it, check out this video from the New York Times about the last people to cross that finish line… and the people who make it a point to be there and cheer them on! Seriously, there are some inspiring stories about those runners who just wouldn’t give up… even after the official clock stopped. Also, I’m not crying, you are 😉

Just for fun, here’s what it’s like to run a marathon as told in emojis:

That sounds about right!

And a list of 17 bad-ass female athletes everyone should know.

It’s not just women in sport… “They’re Women, They’re Black and They Don’t Make Art About That. I can’t wait to check out “Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today,” a new exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts that focuses on black female artists who work beyond or outside those dictates. 

But back to running, the failing New York Times argues that “The Running Bubble Has Popped…” but you couldn’t hear it in NYC. While the New York City Marathon has far fewer spots available than runners who want to participate, many other road races throughout the country are seeing a decline in participation. Interesting… 

And last but not least, celebrity chef and former Top Chef contestant Richard Blais ran the new York marathon for the 5th time this weekend… and lost 60 pounds since making running and fitness a part of his everyday routine. If he can do it while being constantly surrounded by amazing food, so can we!  

 

A First Look at the Shop Made in DC

I’ve been writing a lot about running lately, so I thought it was time for a non-jogging related post. Meet the Shop Made in D.C., a newly opened shop-café combo at 1333 19th street NW. As you may have guessed by the name, the 2,500-square-foot space only stocks products that are made in the District, from the coffee (which comes from Small Plane, Ryan Jensen’s new roasting company) to a rotating selection of goods by local small business owners. All of them belong to the Department of Small and Local Business Development’s Made in D.C. program, which provided $100,000 in funding for the project, through a grant to the Golden Triangle BID. Other financial backers include Boston Properties, People Make Place and the Neighborhood Restaurant Group

Two things caught my eyes right away when I came in last Saturday. First, big black letters at the back of the store with the words EAT and DRINK. I guess I was hungry 😉

It was a little too early for tacos (from Tortilladora) or momos (from Dorjee momo), so I just grabbed an everything bagel from Bullfrog Bagels and a coffee. The shop carries oat-milk which is my new favourite so I was excited about that!

I’ll have to come back to try more of the food offerings, including the beers which Greg Engert, director of the beverage program, selected from 6 local breweries. 

Next, I couldn’t help but be drawn to a long brick wall on the side of the store, with bold and  bright posters from 18 of DC’s landmark neighbourhoods, created by Anthony Dihle of Victory Dance Creative.

Alongside all the products featured in the shop, you can find little cards detailing the name of the artisan that made it (24 currently), alongside their makerhood, how many years they have been a maker, how many years they have been in DC and of course, their social media handles so you can look them up.

 

Food products and prints are most prominent in the shop, but you can also find beautiful leather goods from Stitch and Rivet , shirts by District of Clothing or pottery from Hollow Work Ceramics. For now, all of the local entrepreneurs featured have to be DC based businesses registered with the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development though that might change soon since that partnership is only slated to last 6 months as it stands right now.

I foresee the Shop Made in DC being a great event space too, and they are already organizing a Meet the Makers evenings as well as participating in Dupont’s First Friday art walks. I’m sure there’ll be a lot more different events planned soon, especially with the holidays coming up, and I can’t wait! 

Shop Made in DC. 1330 19th Street, Northwest. Open Monday though Friday, 7 AM to 8 PM; Saturday and Sunday, 11 AM to 6 PM. 

My Mini-Fitness Goals for November

One of my running goals for 2017 was joining a running group and turning running into more of a social activity. I was very self-conscious about actually acting on this goal. I’m an introvert, so group settings aren’t always my favourite and I was also worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with everyone which would be embarrassing, as well as discouraging. I was afraid to shatter whatever little self-confidence I have as a runner.  After the Disneyland Paris half marathon in late September (you can read my recap here), it was obvious that I needed to do something different to make sure commit to training. So I resolved to get over my fears, lace up my running shoes and join some strangers on group runs.

There are SO many running groups in Washington, D.C.! I narrowed my options to two: Pacers (the 14th street store) on Mondays and Summit to Soul on Wednesdays and I’ve been a regular for most of October. I struggle to keep up with the group at times. I’m definitely typically found at the back of the pack! But while I find myself wishing the lights would turn red so I could catch a quick break more often than I would like, I’ve also mostly kept up with the group and even occasionally been able to carry short conversations. I’ve enjoyed meeting new people so it was mostly a good experience until last night. Last night was Pacers’ Halloween themed run and there were a lot of runners (in awesome costumes too!) Usually, we split into 3 different groups, running 3, 5 or 7 miles. Yesterday, we ran as one whole group and while the pace was pretty slow because we hit so many intersections, I definitely struggled to stay with the group and it really got me down. I guess I felt that by now, I wouldn’t be struggling through a simple 5K. Instead of feeling good after this run (“be in a better mood after running” is another one of my running goals for this year) I felt discouraged and ready to give up. I never thought becoming a runner would be easy but I did hope that at some point it would get easier. And I had hoped that point would be coming sooner. It’s really hard for me to look at the big picture when you’re not seeing any progress but I know I can’t focus on the small setbacks like the one I had last night. To help me moe forward, and because we are November 1st today, I decided to jot down some new set of goals for the month!

1. RUN 50K IN NOVEMBER

I’m not sure I tracked all my runs last month, I *just* started using Strava a few weeks ago (on strava too? Friend me!?). But according to Strava and Map My Run (which I was using before switching over to Strava) I only ran 42.42K in November. I thought about having a goal of 100K in November, but I that would be probably be setting myself up for failure since I only average about 10K a week. So I’m going to set my goal for 50K, hope that I crush it, feel good about it and set a higher goal for December. Do you have a monthly kilometers or miles goal? How do you decide what to set it at?

2. RIDE 100 MILES @ CYCLEBAR

I’ve been running Mondays and Wednesdays and taking a spin class at Cyclebar Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Last month, Cyclebar NoMa had a 100 miles challenge. Of course, I only found out about it with less than  10 days left… and since I average around 9 miles per class, there was no way I could achieve it. I did get close to 50 miles, so I think I could definitely ride over 100 miles over the whole month of November. 

3. RUN 3X A WEEK

Right now, I’m only running twice a week so I need to add a “long” run on weekends. This may not actually be a very long run but it should be my longest run of the week. 

4. RUN A 10K RACE

Two weekends ago, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon 10K. You can read my race recap here, but basically I finished disappointed in my time and barely meeting the goal I had set for myself. So I would love to find another race of the same distance so I can better my time. If you have any suggestions of 10K in the area, I’m all ears! Since I’m out of town the first two weekends of November, I’m thinking either the Annapolis Running Classic on November 18th or Carpenter’s Shelter’s Run for Shelter  also on November 18th. The time to beat for this 10K will be one hour and nine minutes. I can do this! Maybe… 

5. RUN A 5K WITHOUT WALKING

I’m staying in Washington, D.C. for Thanksgiving, so I’ll definitely be running a Turkey Trot that morning. And by then, I would like to be able to run it without walking, even if I run slowly… 

My last Turkey Trot was back in 2015 with these awesome (and faster) ladies

I hope that setting mini-goals for myself will help me keep at it and that I’ll start feeling like I’m making progress… and when I do I will actually celebrate it, even the small victories which is something I have always had a hard time doing 😦