Weekly Run Down: I’m a Stand Up Paddleboard Girl Now

So this week felt very blah. After logging in 50+ kilometers every week since the stay-at-home order started and after the virtual devil dog double 18 miler, it was time for a rest/cut back week. I planned on doing fewer and shorter runs, while still going out for at least a mile every day since I am doing a May running streak. And I must say I really struggled this week. I had NO motivation, all my runs felt sluggish and I had a hard time just getting out the door. The annual return of Ms Humidity didn’t help! Challenges and virtual races have given me a bit of purpose as well as the feeling of community that I love about running and crave more than anything right now but I’m also kinda done with virtual races right now too. So that’s for the down this week. On the upside, I took my brand new paddle board for its first float this week and I *loved* it. More of this below, as well as a recap of the week: 

MONDAY

I was still recovering from the Devil Dog Double 18.2 miles so I just did 2km around my neighborhood for my May running streak. I’m also participating in the November Project DC‘s QuaranTEAM challenge as part of Team Dazzo so I did a lot of squads, sit ups and push ups. Still no burpees but our team won this week (though to was close!)

TUESDAY

I did my 30 minute run as part of Tammy‘s QuaRUNtine challenge. To be fair, I didn’t follow her training plan and do any of the speed work I was supposed to do since I was getting ready to run an 18 miles run the week before so it’s fair to say I’m off the wagon for this one. I may try and follow the plan later on my own but I’m pretty much out for the challenge. Didn’t feel like really trying for this 30 minute runs and logged in 4.84km. 

WEDNESDAY

Work was really busy so I was actually glad to get outside and run my usual 8.2 km to Crystal City on the Mount Vernon Trail (there are just so many bikes at 5-6PM!). My run was pretty sluggish/slow but on the plus side I started listening to Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld and I was really into it!! 

THURSDAY

The run back to DC Thursday morning was slightly more pleasant. If anything there was NO ONE on the trail 😉 I also loved listening to Rodham and I bumped into my friend Nathan by the Tidal Basin. He was biking and wearing a helmet, sunglasses and buff so when he first stopped and waved at me I had no idea who he was but then we chatted at a safe distance for a while and it was SO NICE to just talk to another person in real life. I miss people (and I’m an introvert, so I can only imagine how extroverts feel lol). 

FRIDAY

It was supposed to rain all day Friday and I was kinda looking forward to a wet mile (sometimes running in the rain isn’t so bad!) Caitlin and I took Tammy‘s noon online workout and it was great as usual.

But then I waited a little too long to get out for a run and before I knew it it was sunny (again, it was supposed to storm and rain all day) so I was like ok, no excuse to do 3 miles instead of one. I regretted that decision. It was SO humid and gross. That was a disgusting 5.4 km 😉

SATURDAY

So Saturday, my friends Molly, Emily and I took out our inflatable boards for the first time. We decided to stay close to home and try Columbia Island Marina by the Pentagon since we were just testing things out. The weather was beautiful (and I didn’t put sunscreen on my back so I’m totally sunburnt now!) and it was so nice to be out on the water. As I thought, Stand Up Paddleboarding is a very social distancing friendly activity since it’s hard to get that close to people on the water. My board felt great, I would have never known it was an inflatable board (though inflating and deflating it is kind of a process!). We’re already plotting our next outing and I can’t wait to discover new spots in the area to float!!  

Later that day, I ran 2.5km around his neighbourhood to keep the streak going. I was *shocked* to see SO many people out on 23rd street. I guess restaurants are allowed to serve outdoors drinks and food now in Virginia but I was just not expecting to see such a party scene so soon after re-opening. This is just my opinion, but people who act so carelessly like nothing has changed or happened over the past 2+ months are making a mockery of the 100000 people who lost their lives as well as the 35 million + Americans who lost their livelihood. Like, is getting drunk with your friends so important?

SUNDAY

I meant to do a long-sh run, maybe 8 miles, but I just didn’t feel like it and barely made it through 9.2 sluggish kilometers to wrap up a sluggish week at 40.2 km/25 miles. The highlight of this run is that it tipped me over the 1000km (621 miles) for the year so far!! My goal is to run 2020km in 2020 so I’m almost halfway there and a bit ahead of schedule which feels great. It’s always great to hit milestones and feel like you’re doing good on the goals you’ve set for yourself! At least it was a nice, positive way to wrap up the week.

What I’m reading/watching/listening to:  I’m not a big fan of what-if types of stories and I’m no Hillary Clinton fans but I loved Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld’s fictional account of what would have happened if Hillary Rodham had not married Bill Clinton after they dated in law school. Would he have become president? Would she have? I couldn’t stop listening to it until I knew what happened!  

On Tuesday, my friend Calla put together this super fun activity that I want to mention. She’s been spending some of her extra at home time getting a feel for different creative activities and she bought herself, me and Nicole a water coloring kit from the Shop Made in DC. It featured a basic set of watercolors and 4 illustrations from Marcella Kriebel (I have some of her prints already on my wall) and we spent some time colouring them while chatting on zoom. It was actually super fun. In regular times, we would probably have just gotten together at a bar and not done something like that. So I appreciate that this crazy time has enabled us to do slightly more interesting and different things together… even if we’re apart.

What I’m eating/drinking:  My friend Justin posted a picture of his Ethiopian take out order on Monday so I picked up dinner from Habesha Market And Carry-out. I didn’t think I ordered *that* much, just the Regular Kitfo (I’ve been craving steak tartare!) and the taste of Habesha combo and I had food for the whole week. Like, literally all I ate was Ethiopian left overs all week lol. I also got lunch at Chaia Tacos. Love that spot.

What I’m looking forward to on week ?: Hopefully just getting a bit of my working out mojo back. I’ve gotta figure out something that motivates me again… and maybe that’s going to be more stand up paddle boarding for a bit… and I’ll have to be ok with that… 

How was your week? How are you staying motivating? And how are you feeling about whatever stage of re-opening you’re at in your area? We’re still under stay-at-home orders in DC though there’ s increasing talks those could start getting lifting as early as the end of next week and, honestly, I don’t know how I feel about that…. 

Back to linking with Kim of Running On The Fly and Deborah of Confessions of a Mother Runner for their weekly wrap-up. Check out everyone’s posts and join the community if you’re blogging about your fitness journey too!!

Weekly Run Down: (Virtual) Devil Dog Double Week

It’s (virtual) race week … again 😉

DC’s Stay-at-Home order was set to expire on May 15 and I was getting pretty stressed drafting my office’s return to work policies and thinking about leaving the safety of my own home to rush back onto the metro and the outside world before I felt ready or comfortable doing so. But on Wednesday, the Stay-at-Home order was extended to June 8th and I feel relived by this decision. I understand the privilege of my position, but I feel safe at home and if I’m being honest I’m also enjoying living at a slower pace, not rushing from physical place to physical place all the time. I’ve definitely been reflecting on the new normal lately and which parts of the old normal are worth rushing back to… But back to looking just at this past week. I’ve been pulling 50K+ week for a few weeks now and my legs are definitely starting to feel heavy and tired. Nonetheless, I ran 57.2km / 35.5 miles this week, including 29.4km/18.26 miles on Saturday for the Marine Corps Devil Dog Double challenge. Here’s how it went:

MONDAY

I’m doing this November Project DC QuaranTEAM challenge (I’m #TeamDazzo) so I did a bunch of squats, sit ups and pull ups (no burpees… but I’ll do some next week!). Every Monday for the next four weeks we’ll be competing in randomly assigned teams to see who can collectively log in the most reps of all 4 exercises. I figured it was something to do (besides running). I also ran a mile because I guess I’m doing a May running streak now (I just need to find ways to keep myself motivated at this point!)

TUESDAY

I also signed up for my friend Tammy’s QuaRUNtine 30 minute run challenge. Basically she provides a training plan and some online group sessions and we all see how much progress we can make over 4 weeks when running for 30 minutes. I was supposed to do my baseline run on Sunday or Monday but I didn’t so I did it Tuesday (30 minutes = 5.19km/3.23 miles.) Also, Tuesday marked the return of Pacers’ monthly Shake Shack #shacktrackandfield runs so I got a free Cherry Blossom shake at the Chinatown Shake Shack. Not as much fun all by yourself though 😉


WEDNESDAY

I was going to have Corey pick me up but work was super busy and I didn’t get to go outside all day and the weather was just beautiful so I ended up running 7.63km/4.74 miles to Crystal City. Corey met me at Gravelly Point and then we headed to the Pentagon City Shake Shack because he hadn’t gotten his free shake yet.

THURSDAY

The run back to DC Thursday morning was SO much more pleasant than the run Wednesday night. The Mount Vernon Trail is just a lot less busy at that time so I had a lovely 8.30km/5.16 miles run back home. In the evening, I took Tammy’s foam rolling zoom workout, which wasn’t a part of the QuaRUNteam challenge she’s doing but part of a weekly zoom chat series she’s been doing for Pacers on Thursdays. As I mentioned in the intro, my legs had been feeling really heavy so I needed someone to force me stretch and foam roll and Tammy provided just that!

FRIDAY

I did just a little bit more than my daily mile (1.77km/1.1 miles) delivering banana bread to friends in the neighbourhood.

SATURDAY

So Saturday was rough. I’m too slow of a runner to actually complete the Marine Corps’ Devil Dog Double in normal time (you have to run the Semperf5ive in less than 52 minutes before running the Historic Half marathon basically immediately after crossing the finish line of the 5 miler) but I thought I might be able to do it virtually. So after the race was canceled, like all of the races, I signed up. Of course, this weekend was hot AF so I got up at 6AM to do the 5 miler and thought I was gonna die. I did, however, run 8km/5 miles in 50.48 minutes and I’m pretty proud of that.

After the 5 miler, I took a 20 minute break at home, which I wouldn’t have been able to in real race conditions. I went to the bathroom. Changed from a t-shirt to a tank top. Had a little coffee and some banana bread that my friend Anna had dropped off. Picked up my hydration pack. It was hard getting back out. But I figured, I got up at 6AM. I might as well get this over with. So I headed out to run a half marathon and it was hard and it was hot. I made it home after 15 km for another quick bathroom break and then I got back out and it was even hotter but I. got. it. done. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to do the real race though. Virtual races REALLY are not doing it for me.

SUNDAY

Just did my daily mile (two actually). I’m going to be taking it easy next week (it’s supposed to rain every day anyway) and I’m kinda looking forward to that!

What I’m reading/watching/listening to:  I finished two books this week: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai (cute, rom-com type book) and Oona Out Of Order by Margarita Montimore. Both were light, easy reads which is kinda just what I needed right now.

My friend Courtney of Eat Pray Run wrote this great article about her experience as a black long distance runner in Women’s Running. It definitely got me thinking about how white my running groups and what we could do to change that. I don’t have any answers, obviously, but the article challenged some of my perceptions and I hope you’ll read it too.

What I’m eating/drinking:  I’ve been on a green onion pancakes kick. I’ve been using this recipe for Korean scallion pancakes and made it a few times last week. I love scallions. 

I ate “out” quite a bit last week. On Monday I treated myself to sushi from Nama DC after seeing my friend Madalene post about her dinner in her instragam stories (she’s a great gal to follow by the way!) I paired it with a fabulous little Lafken Riesling from Chile that was a part of Grand Cata’s wine club picks for this month.

After a three month trial, I’m so glad I chose to renew my membership through September. I love how Grand Cata helps me broaden my horizons beyond French wines. I also picked up lunch at the Columbia Room on Thursday. They’re currently offering a “Get a Hero Be a Hero” sandwich pop up and for every sandwich sold, one is donated to DC-area hospital workers and first responders.

I got the club sub and loved it. Thinking I’ll go back this week for the Mort & Mozz.  I also couldn’t resist ordering the granchio  appetizer  (umbo lump crab crepe cake, gruyere, chives ) from  Centrolina  DC on Friday. 

I also got a Sicilian rosé to go with it, duck breast for a later diner and farm eggs. The photo app at City Center was too good to pass too 😉

What I’m looking forward to on week ?: So I did a thing and impulse bought an inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard.

I’m looking forward to taking it out for swim over the 3-day weekend. Otherwise, like I said, I’m going to be taking a bit of a much needed break from running this week. I’ll still do my daily miles and some longer runs but at an easy pace and a much shorter long run Saturday. And I’m also going to be looking for new challenges I can take on… they do really help me to stay motivated and right now I really need something…

Back to linking with Kim of Running On The Fly and Deborah of Confessions of a Mother Runner for their weekly wrap-up. Check out everyone’s posts and join the community if you’re blogging about your fitness journey too!!

Weekly Run Down: Maine Coastal (Virtual) Half Marathon Week

It’s race week! Sort of. I’m running a virtual half. Womp womp.

Virtual races allow participants to run a particular distance from anywhere in the world and usually during a more flexible time frame. I really don’t see the point of them. What I love about races is that festive community atmosphere, the crowds, the high fives, the funny signs, crossing a finish lines, the race pictures, the friends, the post race beers with said friends, the shared experience basically. But with all the races being canceled or in the best case scenario postponed to fall (whether they happen or not then is still very much up in the air) virtual races are as good as it get! Some friends and I had planned to travel to Kennebunk, Maine to race the Shipyard Maine Coast Marathon and Half Marathon this weekend. Both were canceled. I was supposed to run the half and since they mailed out my race sweater, bib and medal I figured I should actually earn them and so this week was kind of a race week. Here’s how it went:

MONDAY

It was May the 4th. I marked #StarWarsDay by running four miles in a Star Wars t-shirt.

In the evening, I zoom-ed (that’s a verb now right?) with my friends from Pacers 14th Street. We normally have run club that night and while we can’t have run club right now, we still get together for virtual drinks afterwards.

TUESDAY

I was tempted to do a Cinco de Miler but instead ran to my friend Colleen’s. She has a big back yard so we could chat for a few minutes while being far apart enough from each other. She just got a new job and like everyone has been going through a really tough time so it was nice to see her, even at a safe distance. Altogether that was a 6.83 miles / 11km run.

WEDNESDAY

It was kinda gross in Washington, D.C. so Caitlin and I took a Runner’s World instagram live class together. Caitlin and I don’t live in the same city, so we don’t normally get to take workout classes together. Having additional shared experiences like this has been one of the highlights of this whole stay-at-home ordeal.

I also realized that I had ran every day in May so far. I know we were only 5 days in but still, I figured I might as well try and get a streak going so I ran a mile.

THURSDAY

5 miles run back home from Crystal City. I love running the Mount Vernon Trail on Thursday mornings, it’s so peaceful with hardly any other runners or cyclists.

FRIDAY

I should have been eating at Eventide Oyster Company in Portland Maine and attending the expo for the race. Instead, I ran/walked a slow 2.23 miles in honor of Ahmaud Arbery, a young African American man who was murdered while out of a run two months ago. The two white men who stole his life for no apparent reason but the color of his skin had still not been arrested as of Friday (they did Friday though, in no small parts thanks to everyone’s outrage at the situation.)

In evening, my Girls Night In Together Apart Movie Night crew watched Becoming on Netflix.

SATURDAY

Race day (ish)!!! I had mapped a 13.1 miles route starting at my place and ending at Corey’s. That took me 2 hours and 22 minutes, so far from a PR and that’s ok. I’ll push myself a lot more when I can go back to real races! Also, it was super windy that day, but nice and cool which was great for running.

At 5PM, a bunch of us got on zoom to chat and share a virtual post-race beer. Well, the beer was real at least 😉

SUNDAY

I ran 2km during an afternoon hike in Manassas Battlefield National Park to keep the running streak going. It was a beautiful day and it was great to get outside though there were definitely a lot more people out than I was comfortable with and I wish we had gone earlier in the day to avoid some of the crowds. After the hike, we swung by the Winery at Bull Run and curbside picked up a bottle of Viognier. Almost like hanging out at a winery post hike…. almost 😉

Altogether, I ran 54 km/33.5 miles, which is right where I want to be every week so I’m pretty happy.

What I’m reading/watching/listening to:  I do have a couple of interesting things to report here.

First, I loved Mindy Kaling’s new Netflix series Never Have I Ever. It was SO cute and just what I needed right now!

My girlfriends and I also watched the new Netflix documentary on Michelle Obama’s book tour, Becoming, and it was a very pleasant watch too (though it made us all really miss the Obamas and wonder how different things would be right now if Barrack, not Donald was in the White House.)

On the book front, I read The Dutch House and The Girl with the Louding Voice. Both great reads!! I don’t love listening to fiction on audiobook but The Dutch House was narrated by Tom Hanks so that was neat! And I read this “Oral History of Center Stage.” Essential, obviously 😉

What I’m eating/drinking: I made the most amazing bourbon spiked banana bread with chocolate chips:

On Friday, I picked up bibimbap from Mandu (I’ve been doing pick-up from local restaurants once a week to support them) and had a little Korean feast at home all by myself.

What I’m looking forward to next week: I’m signed up for another virtual race. Well, two technically. I am signed up for the Marine Corps Historic Half Weekend virtual Devil Dog Double, which consists of the Semper 5ive 5 miler and the historic half marathon. I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to do them back to back, which is what would happen on race day, on the same day but with a break or over two separate days… I guess I still have a few days to decide. I’m also participating in my friend Tammy’s QuaRUNtime challenge, a 4-week challenge to see how far we can run or run/walk in 30 minutes (and how much progress we can make over that timeline) and the November Project DC‘s #NPDCQuaranTeamChallenge  (I’m team Dazzo) where we compete to do the most squats, burpees, pushups and sit-ups as we can. Hopefully that will keep me accountable and motivated over the next week or so. How are you staying motivated right now? Any fun challenge out there?? Open to all suggestions 😉

I’m excited to be back to the weekly recap blog post format! And as usual, I’m linking with Kim of Running On The Fly and Deborah of Confessions of a Mother Runner for their weekly wrap-up. Check out everyone’s posts and join the community if you’re blogging about your fitness journey too!!

I’m a (Star Wars) Barbie Girl in a Barbie World

For years, the two most popular posts on this blog, the ones that garnered the most organic traffic from google searches, were about Barbies. There was “I’m a Barbie Girl in a (French) Barbie World” where I shallow dived into the doll’s relationship with fashion after seeing an Eiffel Tower Barbie at a local Target. And then there was the follow upI’m a (French) Barbie Girl in a Barbie World – Part Deux” about the new Dolls of the World Collection and its vision of what a French Barbie and French woman should look like. It’s been 7 years since I last wrote about Barbies (wow, I have been blogging on and off for a while now!) so how about a new doll post?

May the Fourth was yesterday, and in honour of #StarWarsDay Mattel unveiled a new collection of fashion dolls “inspired” by the saga…

The four dolls, which retail between $100-$150, are each modeled after Rey, C-3PO, Chewbacca, and a Stormtrooper. If you’re really into them, you can order the Barbie x Star Wars collaboration on Mattel’s website. But the point of my post is to kind of to make fun of them. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I think disco C-3PO is pretty fierce but otherwise, they basically look like girls trying to be sexy Star Wars for Halloween 😉 And while I appreciate the detail that went into Sexy Chewbacca’s boots (all that fur might be why that doll is the most expensive) that one makes me cringe the most.

But Barbie has some rabid fans, and so does Star Wars so I’m sure the force will be strong with this collection, which adds on to last year’s Star Wars™ x Barbie® Gift Set dolls featuring an R2D2 with over the knees boots and a dominatrix looking Darth Vador.

Hum… I think I’m more likely to splurge on an BB8 Instant Pot though 😉 Hope you had a great Star wars Day yesterday. Now it’s back to writing about books and running for moi.

 

Bilan d’Avril: Running is Not Canceled

I love starting a new month because it allows me to reflect on everything I have accomplished the month prior and set new goals for the new month. But, it goes without saying that April didn’t go exactly as I had anticipated. And by not exactly, I mean, NOT AT ALL! I mean, I was supposed to run the Paris Marathon and celebrate my 40th birthday with my family. Instead, like most of you, I spent a lot of time inside my apartment. My cat is SO over me being home all the time 😉

May The Fourth Be With You

Like many of you, I went through different stages of grief over the past few weeks. I have good days and bad days but I try and focus on the positives, though I’m not always successful. Yes, my trips and my races were canceled (I was supposed to race the Coastal Maine half marathon next weekend and visit Acadia national Park with friends). But my job wasn’t canceled and I realize how lucky I am to GET to work from home and still be able to pay my bills/my mortgage. I know that’s not the case for a lot of people who either have to go to work and worry for their health or got furloughed, laid off or had to temporally close the business they own and worked so hard to build. It took me a while to get used to my new normal and find a routine that works for me right now (OK, if I’m being honest I’m still struggling with finding that routine bit…). Having to suddenly stop marathon training was hard. I made it up to the sweet 16 training run so I was well under way. One of the things I appreciate the most in the process is the discipline it forces me to have (and the race pictures too course!) The Paris Marathon is rescheduled to October, but I honestly cannot fathom that it will actually take place and I actually don’t want to get my hopes up and be disappointed and sad all over again (been there done that). But I also don’t want to lose all the hard work I put in to getting to where I am with my running. So after trying out a bunch of online workout classes that didn’t quite do it for me, including the Orange Theory Fitness at home workouts unfortunately, I decided to just focus on running for now. Races might be canceled but running isn’t. And getting out for a run is usually the only time I get outside my house so I really appreciate that too.

My plan right now is to maintain my running fitness and work a bit on my speed. I always run alone and while I really miss my running groups and the social aspect of running I’m saving a lot of money not going for post run beers at BlueJacket (I did get $60 worth of cans from the brewery delivered when the stay-at-home orders first started) and I am getting through SO many audiobooks!! I try to stick with 50 km / 30 miles a week, with one long run and at least one shorter speed work run. My boyfriend lives in Crystal City which is about 5 miles from my place so running to and from his place twice a week has been a great way to get some miles in! I’ve also loved being able to do some social media running challenges, especially when they’ve had a charity component. My friend Nicki challenged me to run a 10K on instagram and that particular day I had no motivation to get outside and do anything but feel sorry for myself. But I did go outside, and I ran 10K and I didn’t regret it. I rarely regret ever going out for a run. I was also tagged in the ‘Run 5 Donate 5 Nominate 5’ challenge, which originated in UK as a means to raise funds for the NHS. In the US, I donated $5 to Feeding America and tagged five friends to do the same. I also did a 5K put together by DC Run Crew to raise money for Mighty Meals (and contributed $15 towards meals for frontline health workers). And this one wasn’t for charity but I did make a point to go out and log my 6K for the November Project’s Best of Sunrise run. These runs help break a bit of the monotony of always running alone by giving me sense of (virtually) running with others since we’re all doing the same run, tagging the same hashtags or raising money for the same cause. They also give me something slightly more interesting to post about than “I went for another solo run all by myself” 😉

So altogether I ran 214.4km / 133 miles in April. I’ve ran at least 50km every week in April, typically running every day except for one rest day. I haven’t been great at crosss training though, but Caitlin and I have been trying to do a class together every week, which has been one of the silver lining of this whole thing… getting to do workout classes with my bestie in New York City, because, you know, now they’re virtual…

I have two half marathons (virtual, obviously) planned for May so I’m going to adjust things accordingly. I still want to run between 45-50 km (25-30 miles) every week though it might be a little lower overall factoring in the half marathons and tapper and recovery. I’m toying with the idea of maybe doing a running streak or maybe something like the Yeti Challenge (I would have loved to do that one but running in my neighborhood, even just around my block, in the dark isn’t safe right now…) just something to keep it fun and motivating you know… If you hear of any fun challenges or charity runs, let me know!

How was your month of April? And how are you approaching May now that you’ve gone through April (and basically know that races or fun social runs aren’t happening anytime soon?) I’d love to hear and share ideas…

 

Also, I haven’t done a running post in a while, but I’m going to try and do more of them, even if they’re just shorter. And Monday fitness post means I’m back to linking with Kim of Running On The Fly and Deborah of Confessions of a Mother Runner for their weekly wrap-up.  Make sure you check out their blogs as well.

 

Quarantine Reads (aka What I’ve Been Reading in April)

I’ve been reading up a storm here in self-isolation. Part of it obviously is just having more time by myself at home. Instead of going out to a restaurant or a bar with friends, I curl up on my couch with my cat and a book every night. I’ve also been listening to audiobooks during my solo-runs, and I’ve been running more frequently since it’s the only exercise I can really do right now (the online classes are, sadly, not doing it for me). So here are the books I’ve read this month: 

SOURDOUGH by Robin Sloan, fiction

Everyone is baking sourdough bread these days. Meanwhile, I read a book about someone baking sourdough bread 😉 That someone here is Lois, a software engineer in San Francisco whose boring existence is transformed when she is given a quirky, magical sourdough starter. The book is very whimsical but unfortunately since I’m not a magical realism fan I lost interest in the story in the second half.

THE KISS QUOTIENT by Helen Hoang, fiction 

UNCANNY VALLEY by Anna Wiener, memoir (audiobook/kindle)

I managed to get that book both on audio and for my kindle from the library at the same time, so I read a few chapters and listened to some others. Like Sourdough, this was a bit of an uneven book for me. In Uncanny Valley, first time author Anna Wiener retraces her experience leaving New York and her job as an assistant in the publishing industry to move to Silicon Valley and work in customer support and analytics for start-ups. The first half of the book is insightful and funny as she makes the transition. The second was a boring and repetitive collection of random observations about the author’s conflicted feeling about the tech industry and the place of women in it. It’s too bad. The first half was really good.

DOMINICANA by Angie Cruz, fiction

I’ve really enjoyed reading about the immigrant experience lately and this was a great one. It reminded me a little bit of a Woman is no Man, except a little happier. In Dominicana, Ana Cancion is a pretty 15 years old from the Dominican Republic who is married off to an older man so she can strive for a better life for her family. She is isolated, in a loveless marriage, in a city where she doesn’t speak the language and constantly reminded that she needs to send money home and help her family join her. But she definitely fares better than Isra. I devoured that book in less than 36 hours. 

SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid, fiction (audiobook)

Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid’s debut novel, kicks off in an upscale Philadelphia grocery store where Emira, a 26 years old African American woman, gets accused of kidnapping the (white) child she is babysitting. The story goes back and forth between Emira and the woman she works for, Alix, a blogger-influencer currently writing her first book, to offer a witty but light-hearted commentary on race and class relations in America.  I really enjoyed this one.

WINE GIRL by Victoria James, memoir (audiobook) 
I didn’t love this one…. The author’s story had the potential to make this book another The Glass Castle or Educated but instead just feels like an enumeration of Victoria’s successes (I mean, she mentions that she was the youngest sommelier at a Michelin rated restaurant to overkill!) I guess I had a hard time connecting with Victoria though I did appreciate her openness about the difficulty of being a woman in a man dominated industry and her frankness about what goes on behind the scenes at some of New York’s fanciest restaurants.
 

THE ADDRESS BOOK: WHAT STREET ADDRESSES REVEAL ABOUT IDENTITY, RACE, WEALTH AND POWER by Deirdre Mask, non-fiction (audiobook)

Fascinating deep dive into what addresses  (or lack of one…) reveals about politics, race, class, and identity. I loved how each chapter focused on a different city (and yes, there were quite a few mentions of Paris bien sur!)

A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman, fiction 

A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned upside down when a boisterous young family moves in next door. A Man Called One came highly recommended by my friend Patty and I’m so glad I picked it up. It’s such a sweet and heartwarming about the people who change your life and make it better and those that recognize your shortcomings but love you nonetheless.

Reading has been such a comfort and escape these days. I have so many books I’m excited to read in May. And let’s be honest, there’s not a ton to be excited about these days…. 

ps: did you know I have a #bookstagram account? I’d love to connect on Instagram, you can find me and my reads at Read and Rosé. << click to follow!

 

 

 

Cinco To Go or Why I Won’t Hate on Cinco de Mayo This Year

I normally *NEVER* celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Just like I avoid any place Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day, you’re not going to find me anywhere near a Mexican restaurant on the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla. Too crowded. Too many drunk people. Also, the holiday celebrates a 1862 military victory of the Mexican army… over the French forces of Napoleon III. Why would I want to celebrate a French defeat AND have a nasty tequila induced hangover the next day??

But things are a little different this year. OK. Things are a lot different right now 😉 So I am going to use Cinco de Mayo as an opportunity/excuse to support a local Mexican restaurant or two. I got the idea when I saw this promoted tweet from the tequila brand Jose Cuervo.

The tweet is pretty misleading and Jose is not actually picking up everyone’s tab. But through a #CincoToGo contest, Jose Cuervo is encouraging everyone to stay home (duh!) and order take-out food from their favorite local Mexican restaurant (ie probably not Chipotle!). You then snap a picture of your receipt (hopefully of the food too!), tag #CincoToGo and #CuervoContest, and tweet the picture to @JoseCuervo. Some 250 people will “win” and get their meals reimbursed though the idea that appeals to me is that small Mexican restaurants will be the real winners. And since I basically live my life on social now, I’m actually kinda looking forward to doing this and posting about it.

Deciding to participate in the #CincoToGo contest was an easy decision but figuring out which restaurant(s) I’m going to order from is a little bit harder. I live by the Convention Center here in D.C. and I have a lot of great options I can easily walk to (I was never big on delivery apps to start with but after reading this Food & Wine article, I am sticking with pick ups over deliveries!) Here’s what I’m thinking:

CHAIA TACOS

So Cinco de Mayo falls on #TacoTuesday and that’s just too hard to resist! I’m pretty sure the founders of Chaia, Bettina Stern and Suzanne Simmons, are as Mexican as I am but I love their food and their commitment to seasonal ingredients and sustainability. I’m very lucky that the former farmers-market taco stand turned Georgetown fast casual restaurant recently opened a second location very close to me and I’m thinking a braised mushrooms taco and a citrus-roasted beet taco will make the perfect healthy vegetarian lunch.

ps: you can also chose to send Chaia tacos to frontline workers when ordering online.

EL SOL RESTAURANTE AND TEQUILARIA

I love the success story behind this restaurant on 11th Street: Chef Alfredo Solis was born and raised in Mexico City and worked his way up the kitchen ladders in Washington, going from dishwasher to executive chef. He opened El Sol with his sister Jessica in 2014 and it’s my go-to for lengua tacos! (I also adore their pulpo taco and the nopales vegetarian taco!!)

ESPITA

I tend to think of the Shaw restaurant as more of Mezcal bar than anything else, but it does serve really good food too. And for Cinco de Mayo they’re actually offering some special items like a taco-kit for two ($39) or some 32oz cocktails in addition to a limited version of their menu. They are also selling fresh grocery boxes and Mexican wines which I think is more my jam than margaritas…

OYAMEL COCINA MEXICANA

I love Jose Andres’ Penn Quarter Mexican restaurant and I love the work that the Michelin star chef has been doing for hospitality industry workers since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, like turning some of his restaurants into community kitchens. Oyamel is offering a limited menu for take-out and delivery right now and I love the idea of giving back to this chef who has been giving so much of himself.

There are obviously A LOT of other Mexican restaurants in Washington, D.C. and its suburbs and I’m only listing four that are very close to me and that I am most likely to patronize on Tuesday for #CincoToGo. If I lived closer to Colombia Heights, I would absolutely patronize Anafre (also owned by the Solis siblings) which is SUCH a good restaurant and one that I really hope will re-open once this is all over. I’m also tempting to make it to Nina Mayo (not a typo), Nina May‘s Cinco de Mayo week Mexican alter ego. Check out the Mexican inspired menu here.  

Do you usually celebrate Cinco de Mayo and are you planning on celebrating this year? If you’re thinking of getting take out from a local restaurant, let me know which one … or just tell me what your favorite local Mexican restaurant is! I’m pretty desperate for human interaction, even if it’s just in the comment section of this post !

What I’ve Been Reading This Month (March)

It feel like March is almost two separate months. The first half was insanely busy for me. My biggest work conference of the year, Satellite, took place at the D.C. Convention Center March 9-12. Normally that week is hell and I barely have any time to myself. This year, well, it was a bit different. The week leading up to it was busier than it usually is, mostly because we had to make SO many last minute changes and adjustments to staffing, scheduling, everything. In the end, very few of my colleagues made the trip to D.C.  and our schedule was a skeleton of its usual self, the meetings were sparse, most evening events (including one I had been working on for months!) canceled. Which meant that week was actually not too busy in the end and the conference was even cut short once DC decided to shut down the convention center. That Friday, I went into the office since I hadn’t been all week, but also so I could call our IT department and make sure I was all set up for remotely should we need to. That feels like ages ago, and yet, it’s barely been two weeks! I had a book on hold at the library that I wanted to pick up, so I headed to the Tentleytown and saw the signs there that the library would be closed for the next two weeks. Perfect timing, I thought, and I allowed myself to stroll the aisles of books and pick up whatever caught my eyes.

Glad I did, because the library (and life!) isn’t reopening anytime soon and now I’ve got lots of books at home to keep me company. I’m also very grateful I have a kindle right now!! With our new normal of staying at home, I did read a lot of books the second half of the March, though actually mostly audiobooks that I listened to on my now always solo-runs.  Here’s a recap. 

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE by Ijeoma Oluo, non-fiction (audiobook)

This essay about race isn’t meant to be a feel good book! It’s made to make you think twice about little things you take for granted or that you think are not consequential, but do have a cumulative effect on a lot of people and contribute to the systemic racism that is prevalent in american society. I definitely encourage everyone to read (or listen to) this one!   

OVER THE TOP: A RAW JOURNEY TO SELF-LOVE by Jonathan Van Ness, memoir (audiobook) 

A very revealing and heartfelt memoir. I definitely think audiobook is the way to go on that one (on most memoirs really). I ended up listening to this one mostly when I was doing stuff around the house, like setting up my work from home space or cleaning up. Worth the months I waited before getting it from the library 😉 

MEN WE REAPED by Jesmyn Ward, memoir

Jesmyn Ward’s memoir alternates between recounting her childhood in rural Mississippi and the biographies of five young black men she intimately, one of them her own brother, and who all died within a five years span. The vignettes are plainly written, but beautiful and place personal tragedy against the backdrop of systemic racism and poverty in the South. Sing, Unburied, Sing is one of the hardcover books I borrowed from the library before it closed and I can’t wait to read that one as well. 

THE EDUCATION OF AN IDEALIST: A MEMOIR by Samantha Power, memoir (audiobook)

OK, so this book was almost 600 pages and, while it was really interesting, I was definitely ready to be done with it by like half of it. Which sadly was still before Samantha Power was appointed UN Ambassador by President Barrack Obama 😉 Nonetheless, I’m glad I read it. It was a very personal (Samantha talks candidly about her issues conceiving both of her children) and interesting (I mean, she was a woman war correspondent who debated turning down a Harvard law school acceptance…) memoir. Just a bit long… 

PARIS FOR ONE AND OTHER STORIES by Jojo Moyes, fiction

I needed a lighter read to wrap up the month and Jojo Moyes’ Paris for One delivered. It’s a cute collection of vignettes (only one is actually about being in Paris alone, but it’s the longest and best one) and short stories and they all were delightful! 

So 5 books in March is not bad… I do expect to go through quite a few more in April. We’re still allowed to go outside for runs here in D.C. and since it’s practically the only sport we can do I’ve been taken advantage of that and I have been getting some good audiobook listening done during my solo runs. I expect that (hopefully) to continue in April. And I do have a lot more free time now in the evening as well 😉 

How have you been holding up during these first few weeks of staying at home? 

ps: are we goodreads friends? <<You can find me here >> 

 

??? Marathon Training: Phase 1 Wallowing In Self Pity

So this week SUCKED. At work, I dealt with cancellation after cancellations as companies opted to limit their staff’s travel because of the Corona-virus. Instead of the usual team of 20, only 6 of my colleagues are now making the trip to D.C. for Satellite. We decided to cancel the customer dinner I’ve been working on for months. And customers have been cancelling meetings left and right. And at home, well, the Paris marathon is now officially postponed to October 18. I feel pretty deflated on both front and my week definitely reflected that. 

MONDAY

I did OrangeTheory in the morning and the class was just ok. I had a hard time pushing myself.

TUESDAY

It was a warm winter night, perfect for a five mile run (I should have done 7 though) with Pacers Navy Yard. 

WEDNESDAY

I got stuck on a conference call (to decide whether we canceled the dinner — which we did) and missed my OrangeTheory class 😦 We’ll call this day unplanned rest day then…. 

THURSDAY

Work sucked with non-stop schedule changes due to people canceling their travel plans. And then the Paris marathon was officially postponed to October 18. I’d been looking forward to running Paris for my 40th birthday for years and training for it for weeks now so it was definitely a blow. I’ll be ok, obviously, but Thursday I just wanted to wallow in self pity and go for an angry run. I ran 7.7 km (4.8 miles) with Jess and Allison, at a pace of 5:50/km (9:23/mi) which is quite speedy for me. Maybe I need to be angry more often. And then I had not one, but two beers at Bluejacket. 

FRIDAY

Make up Orange Theory Class!

SATURDAY

I decided not to go ahead with my planned twenty miler and instead just added on a few miles to the route of the November Project’s Long Run Crew for a total of 16 miles. It was kinda cold and very windy and running mostly by myself sucked that day. But I did it!

SUNDAY

Since I didn’t run twenty miles on Saturday, my legs were fresh enough to run 5 miles with loaner New Balance shoes as part of Pacers and Summit to Soul’s International Women’s Day run. It was such a fun and it was fun have such a social run after Saturday’s lonely run.

It was really hard to stay motivated this week but I still managed to run 57.3 km / 35 miles. I don’t really know what I’m training for right now, though I’ve penciled in a local race on April 19, hoping that doesn’t get canceled too as well. I’ll sign up as late as I can just in case.

What I’m reading/watching/listening to:  I’m not proud of this but I binged the entire first season of Love is Blind. Don’t judge me. I loved it 😉

I didn’t really have time to read much though did finish listening to So You Want to Talk About Race during my long run. 

What I’m eating/drinking:  Nothing fun to report.

What I’m looking forward to on week ?: During a normal Satellite conference I’d have absolutely no free time, but things are looking a bit more quiet this edition so I might actually be able to squeeze in a run or workout here and there. And I have not one but three races coming up this weekend: a four-miler, 5K and 10K. Very much looking forwards to my three medals. I really don’t want to have wasted the past few weeks of marathon training so I would still really like to run a marathon this Spring. I guess like everyone I’m just waiting to see how things develop… 

Back to linking with Kim of Running On The Fly and Deborah of Confessions of a Mother Runner for their weekly wrap-up. Check out everyone’s posts and join the community if you’re blogging about your fitness journey too!!

#LLBreads2020 Update: My January/February Reads

I’ll aim to do these recaps monthly moving forward, but since I couldn’t get my act together in January, I’m lumping the first two months of the year together.

I got a bit of a slow start, but I’m starting to find my reading groove. My intentions for 2020 were to read more international authors (ie. not Americans!) and especially more books in French, as well as pick up some of the books I already have on my shelves instead of being such a slave to my library queue. So far I’m not doing great with any of these but the year is young….

THE VEGETARIAN by Han Kang, fiction

I didn’t kick off the year with an easy read. This South Korea book is short but intense. 

KNOW MY NAME by Chanel Miller, memoir (audiobook)

Chanel Miller recounts being sexually assaulted behind a dumpster by Brock Turner and the subsequent trial that ended with the “promising young athlete” barely getting a slap on the wrist.  It’s an important read from a courageous young women who reclaims her name and her story in every page.

CONFESSIONS OF AN UNLIKELY RUNNER by Dana Ayers, memoir

Sometimes I run, sometimes I read about running. Summit to Soul, a fabulous woman owned fitness boutique on Capitol Hill organized a bookclub and picked this book by a local runner as its January pick. It was a quick read and it really related to the author in her quest to pick up running.

THE SENATOR NEXT DOOR BY Amy Klobuchar, memoir (audiobook)

I’m pretty sure this will be the last “getting to know DEM” memoir I read this election cycle. Definitely one of the more enjoyable ones, especially since I knew very little about Amy Klobuchar before picking it up. 

RED AT THE BONE by Jacqueline Woodson, fiction

Beautifully written short book about two very different families whose lives become permanently intertwined by a teenage pregnancy. The story goes back and forth in time and points of view, those of the unplanned child that was born out of the pregnancy, and those of her parents and grandparents. The book packs in a lot in less than 200 pages, touching upon issues of class, education, racial prejudice, motherhood, identity, parenthood or loss…

THE NICKEL BOYS by Colson Whitehead, fiction

This book is a fictional rendering of actual events that took place not that long ago, during the Jim Crow era. It’s so hard to believe and so heartbreaking to think that the actual school this fictional rendering is about only closed 9 years ago! Heavy read (again!) but an important reminder not to let history repeat itself.

ON THE CLOCK: WHAT LOW WAGE WORK DID TO ME AND HOW IT DRIVES AMERICA INSANE by Emily Guendelsberger, non-fiction (audiobook)

After the local newspaper where she worked as a reporter closed, Emily Guendelsberger took a series of low wage jobs around the country:  at an Amazon fulfillment center outside Louisville, KY, at a call center in North Carolina and at a McDonald’s in San Francisco. I never eat at McDonald’s, but this book has made me want to never raise my voice again when I’m on a phone with a customer service representative and try to ween myself of Amazon. I thought the book was just ok though. 

A WOMAN IS NOT A MAN by Etaf Rum, fiction

After reading two books I recommended, Educated and Maid, my college bestie Sara asked me if I had any happy reads to recommend. I was reading A Woman is Not a Man at the time, which is such a heartbreaking story. So my answer was no. But I still recommended she reads this book someday. 

THE BRIDE TEST by Helen Hoang, fiction

At first, I was really put off by the mail-order-let’s-trick-my-son premise of this rom-com novel but within a few chapters, I was totally into it. While the romance part is on the predictable side, it’s sexy and funny, and explore (albeit with a light note) some more serious topics like autism, grief and finding your place in the world. Will definitely pick up Hoang’s first novel, The Kiss Quotient, soon! 

LA TRESSE by Laetitia Colomani, fiction 

Another short book that was quick to read yet dealt with heavy topics through the stories of three very different women in three different parts of the world. One is an untouchable in India, determined to give her daughter a life where she can have some control over her destiny. Another is a young woman in Sicily trying to save her family’s business. And the last one is a lawyer in Montreal working hard to break the glass ceiling at a big corporate law firm. Three women with a strength of will to carve their own path in a world that seems to want them to stick to a particular lane. 

DEAR GIRLS by Ali Wong, memoir (audiobook)

Dear Girls was the perfect companion to my marathon training runs. It’s funny, raunchy and very entertaining and I certainly do hope Ali’s daughters wait until they are much older to read or listen to it.

So 11 books in two months. Two foreign books, including one in French. Four audiobooks. Two books plucked out of my library shelves. A good mix of fiction/non-fiction. All but one written by women. Seven written by non-white authors. Not bad.

If I had to recommend a book over others from what I read it would definitely be Chanel Miller’s Know My Name. It’s really a powerful book. And Red at the Bone was extremely well written.  What’s the best book you’ve so far this year? I’m kinda desperate for some happier reads… 

ps: are we goodreads friends? <<You can find me here >>