A Trip to Paris ~ Marathon Edition

First my heart goes out to Paris.  What a terrible thing to happen, especially in one of the most public places in the city.  I can only be entirely thankful that we were no longer in Paris when the shooting occurred.  Yes, Paris.  A trip that had been in the making since May ’16 when about 50+ people from November Project NYC signed up for the Paris Marathon.  This was truly a sign of our culture – say yes to practically anything combined with a fear of FOMO.  In the end only about half of those who signed up actually made the trek.

Secondly, I seem to be off my blogging game.  I of course waited forever to actually upload my pictures and write down notes about the trip.  This past Saturday morning I decided to write about it, spent about an hour on the blog and then found that half of the post had been deleted.  So, here we go again.

Wednesday ~ 5.5.17

In true Kaitlin fashion I arrived a bit too close to my boarding time but with the help of some nice passengers who let me jump ahead in the security line and a delayed flight, it was no problem.  Still, my mom would not have been impressed.

Fun fact for those flying JFK international – even if you are taking carry-on luggage and utilize the self-check kiosks, you STILL have to wait in line for a stamp on your boarding pass.  I ran back and forth between these two sections of the airport three times before I figured that out.  When I finally arrived at the gate, I spotted a couple of my November Project friends and we were able to chat for the next couple hours until our flight boarded around midnight.  By that time I was ready to pass out and get a few hours of sleep.

Thursday ~ 4.6.17

Touchdown in PARIS!  Thanks to the delayed takeoff, we arrived two hours later but still in time for lunch in the city.  My friend Meg and I navigated the RER to the Metro and then we separated as she was heading to her hotel and I was meeting NP friends in La Marais (near the Jewish Quarter) for L’as Du Fallafel.   A few blogs claimed it was the best falafel ever though I wasn’t super impressed.  It was still a solid way to start my trip and a check off the bucket list.

After we all finished our falafel we went to withdraw money from a BNP Paribas, which supposedly has an agreement with Bank of America to not charge a foreign transaction fee.  Sounds great but I still saw the $3 charge in my statement.   We then found a cafe and sat sipping our respective beverages while people watching.  I had anticipated ordering coffee yet my lack of French knowledge left me with a warmed vanilla milk – still decent but not the caffeine I was looking for.  The three of us were also not ready for the droves of French who smoke, something so different from the United States, even in New York City.

After a couple of hours it was time to move along and as Jess and Liz headed towards Musee d’Orsay, I went off to check into my AirBNB.  I was staying with my friend Lindsay and her family for a majority of the trip but happened to have a night to myself as they didn’t arrive until Friday.  Both AirBNBs were right around the Champs de Elysees and even closer to the Arc De Triomphe, where the marathon was set to start and finish.

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^^ How’s that for a view??  So maybe I had to open my window and lean out for the shot but same idea, right?

After checking in and changing clothes, it was time to explore a bit more.  To be honest, most of this trip was planned on a whim.  Sure I had a general sense of what I wanted to accomplish and where I needed to go but was comforted by the fact that I had been to most museums back in 2011.  My goal for this trip was mostly eating and walking and eating and relaxing.  Spoiler alert – it was a grand success.

That evening I had a goal to find my first croissant or French pastry since people claim it’s better in Paris.  You are probably thinking “le duh” and while I never did make it to “the best croissant in Paris“, I did treat myself a few times.  I trekked the 3 or so miles past the Eiffel Tower to Poilane only to find that they were out of croissants.  Let me just say “le duh” again since it was almost 7 pm and who would have pastries that late?  I picked up an apple tart-like item instead and made my way back to the Eiffel Tower to eat and watch the sunset amidst all the canoodling couples.

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Even though lunch had only been a couple of hours prior, I was in the mood for one more meal or snack before bed.  A friend of mine had recommended La Coïncidence but when I spent about 20 extra minutes trying to find the restaurant and failing miserably, I ended up in a pub with a “bacon” burger (aka sliced ham).   This is when researching restaurants in advance and actually knowing where to go would be helpful.

Friday ~ 4.7.17 

Opting for exploring over sleeping in, I was up around 8 and ready to hit the pavement. When I found out that the hotel breakfast was an extra fee and consisted of mostly cereal, I decided to pick up a mini quiche and baby croissant from around the corner.  The patisseries are almost as prevalent as the bodegas in New York City, which is very helpful if you are craving some carbs or break the large Euro bills.

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I then power walked along the Champs de Elysees to the Musée de l’Orangerie since it was one place I had NOT been and was dying to see Monet’s water lilies.  One day I’d love to go back to Givery where I had been as a baby.  But for now sitting amongst the enormous paintings would be just fine.  I think most people there or anywhere really end up taking pictures in order to post it online.  I mean, if it’s not on Instagram did it really happen?  Not to say that I’m not guilty but still, an interesting perspective.

Following a few hours of art, I took the metro back to the Arc where I dropped my bag off at the next AirBNB and we all went off to lunch.  Lindsay and crew had just arrived from their red eye flights and were ready to eat and explore the French culture.  We met their other sister and her boyfriend for lunch at Laduree, which is well known for its macaroons.  I ordered the carrot salad (above) and was in seventh heaven with the squash puree.

^^ I couldn’t get over how lovely the flowers were during this time of year.  We happened to luck out with the weather as every day was sunny and warm!

We then walked over to one of the more exclusive or expensive parts of the city for a culinary walking tour led by the impressive Marion Flipo {website + Instagram}.  This woman has been doing walking tours for over six years, has been writing food reviews and could be a culinary genius.  Turns out she had also been working for Laduree for a number of years and actually created the carrot salad that I had ordered!  I should also mention she is tiny, which is super impressive for a food critic 😉

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The next couple hours were spent walking from shop to shop, learning about the cheeses, wines, breads, and meats of France.  Funny enough we started in Maison Kayser, a bakery that is also in NYC and one of my favorite spots to pick up a croissant after a run.  So, if I’m ever missing my Parisian adventure, I know where to go.  Marion shared her gourmet knowledge with us while picking up supplies for a picnic in Luxembourg gardens.

If we hadn’t been eating enough, we picked up cabs to cross the river and make our 7pm reservation at Le Souffle.  My friend Annelise had recommended this and I now recommend it to any and everyone reading this post.  YOU MUST GO HERE.  It’s best in groups to order a few souffles for the table but if you are so inclined to order your own, you do you.  We picked out four savory and three sweet (chocolate, Grand Marnier, and raspberry), all of which were extremely light and fluffy.  There may not be another souffle that can compare, but it all was worth it.

Saturday ~ 4.8.17

When you roll with November Project there is bound to be a shakeout run and what better way to see the city than a sunrise 6k at 6:30am?  I honestly think this run was more enjoyable than the marathon and not because it was a whole heck of a lot shorter.  We started at the Notre Dame and wandered along the water, passed the Love Lock Bridge, through the gardens by the Louvre and ended under the Eiffel Tower.  We watched the sunrise and I even found 5 Euro on the ground!

The rest of the day was spent touring Paris, picking up bibs at the expo, and prepping for the next day’s race.  We picked up crepes at the Eiffel Tower and took a trip on the boat tour as a ways to rest but keep seeing the city.  Our dinner reservation was scheduled for 7, when the restaurants start to open up again.  Most places aren’t open for dinner until 7 or even 8!  Lindsay had found Daroco as our pre-race meal and I have to say, while I’m not a runner that neeeeds pasta, it was one of my favorite meals.

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We started with artichoke and burrata (arguably the best cheese ever) and then moved into pasta with pesto and some type of pork that’s more tender than bacon.  I cannot praise this pasta enough and you can be sure that the plate was spotless when I was finished.  Last but not least was dessert and while Lindsay and Shannon were good and split the tiramisu, I had my eye on the chocolate mousse.  Yes, it was a whole heaping bowl of chocolate goodness and I probably could have stopped with a few tablespoons but was pretty much addicted.  It was one step short of a rich and decadent bowl of brownie batter and I was ready to roll my way home and pass out.  Good thing I had about 4 hours of running ahead of me the next day…

Sunday 4.9.17 ~ aka RACE DAY

Everyone woke up around 6 to start the process of hydrating and fueling. We had picked up extra goodies (namely bananas and coffee) the night before since it was a toss-up if any local shops would be open on Sunday.  Fun fact they were but waking up and drinking a Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso in the comfort of my own bed still sounded better.  Another fun fact – they called it “espresso + lait/melk” (emphasis on the MELK, which is how I say it.)

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After downing a HoneyStinger waffle + banana I started to get my outfit ready and mentally prepare for what I was about to do.  I really don’t think I had mentally prepared for this race.  I sort of went in with the mindset of running and half and let’s just obviously point out that 13.1×2 is a tad bit different (le duh). Thankfully I did have my friend Maura to run with and between her company and friends cheering at Mile 18, it ended up being quite the experience.  Initially when I signed up I hadn’t considered running with anyone since out of the 17 half marathons and countless other races, I have only raced one half (from start to finish) with other people.  So thank you Maura for signing up and making the marathon experience that much better 🙂

Around 7:45, we all left the AirBNB, took a picture in front of the Arc and then I headed out to Maura’s hotel to meet her.  The staff at her hotel had actually left notes on each door warning guests about the road closures and Sunday’s marathon.  My favorite part was that they had noted runners as “the Brave Competitors”.  Yes, I think that’s quite accurate.

The temperature was supposed to reach around 74 that day with waves starting around 8:40ish.  This only meant that we would be running in the prime heat of the day and with water stations every 5k or so, it was bound to be bad.  I later found out that around 2p it was 72F with a RealFeel of 79F!!!  In retrospect I should have worn a hat to dunk in some of the buckets located on the back half of the course but I did have my buff and would dunk Maura’s hat for her at the same time.  We made an excellent team that day, keeping one another going and trying to remind ourselves to enjoy the process.

Looking back the race is somewhat of a blur.  The first half was through the streets, which I enjoyed – lots of people and not too much sun.  We wandered through a park and there were plenty of European men using the side of the road as their restroom.   About 13.1 in I realized how much I love the half marathon distance.  I recall telling Maura “ok so now we just have to do that all over again”.  It got a little gnarly as we ran down by the water and through a couple of tunnels, one of which was the tunnel Princess Diana died in…

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As we ran on, it got warmer, we had to mentally and physically push through, we passed our friends around mile 18, and started playing many mind games to get through the remaining 8 miles.  Our initial goal was 4:30 with a few selfies in between.  Then the mid-marathon regret and pain hit.  We changed our goal to sub-5 hours and called it a day.  I didn’t tell Maura this at the time, but we were averaging 9-min miles, which even with a few walking breaks would bring us to our initial goal.  While we both were struggling (though I didn’t tell her that I was at the time), I think we would have regretting not pushing all the way through.  We managed to power through the finish, not stopping for the last 4 or so kilometers and my watch dying with a mile to go.  It wasn’t until 30 minutes later when I charged my watch and we did some simple math that we realized we had actually run 4:12!!! With our lack of mental (and probably physical) preparation and the heat, we were SO PROUD.

How was the race itself?  Well, there wasn’t as much site-seeing as I would have hoped.  The course was alright, mostly miles through streets and parks and hundreds of Europeans pushing their way through as runners and on the sidelines as spectators.  Yes, there were areas in which the spectators were pushing so much that I almost had to just barrel right through in order to run by.  I apologize after the fact but SERIOUSLY?  I know you are excited to cheer but please folks, leave some space for those in pain.

Looking back I can recall the periods of pain and frustration.  Even as we headed into the final three kilometers, I remember thinking “there is no way I’m signing up for another one (for a few years)”.  Of course a few days later when the soreness wore off and I spectated Boston, I decided it wasn’t thaaaat bad.  Just maybe not for a year or so…

“Never mess with a woman who runs 26.2 miles JUST FOR FUN” << TRUE FACT.  I should wear a shirt with this written on it.

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Later on I met up with Lindsay, Shannon, and her family to celebrate their first marathon finish!  We ultimately drank our way through recovery until 9PM when we sat down for dinner.  The well-known steak place –Le Relais de l’Entrecote – that Lindsay picked out opens up at 7 and doesn’t take reservations.  It serves one thing – steak and pomme frites and boy was the steak tasty.  Of course it happens to be one of the best steak places in town, and with that comes a decent sized line if you don’t arrive on time.  Cue another glass of red wine in line and time just flew by.

When you ultimately sit down, you are served a green salad.  The waitress then takes your order on how you want the meat cooked.  Yes, this is the ONLY thing you will order. In a few short minutes later, she arrives with the meat and pomme frites.  You are allotted two servings per person and anything more than that requires another order.  We would know because we initially thought it was unlimited and well, when you run 26.2 miles and are practically starving, you want to eat more than 4 ounces of steak.  Ok, maybe that’s just me.  In the end, using the leftover baguette to soak up the delectable secret sauce.  In retrospect I would have loved to have gobbled a burger down earlier in the day but life happens and there are simply times to go with the flow.

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Both Lindsay and Shannon wanted to end the night with the hourly lights show by the Eiffel Tower (or rather ON the Eiffel Tower).  We jumped into two cabs (since there were actually six of us), picked up some final crepes, and watched in awe as the display went off around 11.  I’m not sure if it was the marathon or the many glasses of wine that had been consumed but that was the best crepe I’ve had to date and quite a way to end the night.

Monday 4.10.17 ~ The Post Marathon Blues + Travel Day

There often is a sense of calm or peace when I go on vacation.  I love to walk around the streets and see how the locals go about their day – how regal they seem and how special it would be to walk the historic streets.  Maybe it’s also the fact that I don’t have to work when traveling.  Of course, there must be tourists who travel to NYC and who think the same thing.  It’s all a mater of perspective.

Looking back, I found that I was happiest while walking and sampling some of the local flavors.  It made me realize again that this combination – despite how basic it may be – is the key to my happiness.  No matter where I travel or live, good exercise and good food are the way to win Kaitlin over.

But simply due to the nature and length of the trip, I wasn’t able to make it everywhere on my bucket list.  I was lucky that I had been to France back in college (I look so young there!!) but was still jealous of people who extended the weekend into the next week, heading off to other areas of France or even Amsterdam.  Unfortunately, we are heading into busy season at work so I couldn’t gallivant off for a longer trip and am hoarding my PTO days for a trip this fall.  But that doesn’t mean that my long weekend was a waste and of course there’s the dream to go back to Europe and maybe have a special full fledge France experience.

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Life of Late ~ 3.17.17

Hold up, wait a minute, we are past the middle of March and there seems to be no sign of spring in sight.  We are flip-flopping outfits from day to day – one day dresses sans tights for it’s hitting the 60’s and then another we are bundled up with every last item of clothing to brave the single digit temps.  So all around good times and good thing I didn’t actually put all of my winter clothes away a few weeks ago.  That would have been stupid. (Just kidding, I actually did put all of my winter gear away only to drag it back out…)

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Sights and Scenes from the Weekend ~ 3.13.17

To be honest, all of last week felt like a blur and a bust.  I’m not sure if I gave my legs the rest they needed following an 18-miler but every time that I ran, it felt like I was dragging through cement.  Every workout was a struggle and even my swim on Friday was lackluster.  Then I went home with either a 12-hour stomach bug or food poisoning.  Either way, it wasn’t how I had planned to spend the week/weekend.  But, we can’t always control what happens and this was an excellent example of going with the flow.

After 9+ hours of sleep on Friday, I woke up with the hopes of running 12-14 miles.  Just a mile in I realized this was not going to happen.  I dragged myself to mile 4 and met up with some girlfriends who quickly told me I shouldn’t be running.  But I was so determined to finish a run, scared that if I didn’t run I would be a failure, and grasping to hold onto any potential social time.  Well, after total of 7.5 miles, I decided to call it quits and walked myself to breakfast.  Don’t be fooled by my smile below – I loved running with these gals but felt awful.

Accepting defeat of a run is tough and so is taking a rest day.  But I know that having these days will only help me down the road.  Not to mention it was SO DARN COLD (maybe exacerbated by my body chills or potential fever…I don’t know since I kept forgetting to take my temperature…#adulting) and running with any type of flue is just stupid.  Lesson learned.

Obviously when running doesn’t work out, washing away your feelings in brunch is the next logical step.  I had been craving avocado toast and Bluestone Lane just happened to be where I stopped by run.  In retrospect I certainly could have found a cheaper place to dine but was in such a foul mood, I let the $25 bill (+ tip) slide.  I mean I never truly know what to do about tip – how much does one tip?  If you don’t tip the 20% are you rude?  What if they are practically watching as you select the buttons on the touchscreen iPad right in front of you?  Oh the moral questions, right?

Once brunch was finished and my expensive solo-bill was paid, I made my way downtown and made myself stop in Trader Joe’s to pick up this week’s groceries.  One of my goals is to be better about meal prep and that includes making recipes other than grilled vegetables and fried eggs.  I’ve been feeling a little “blah” about life and can’t quite put my finger on it.  I know that winter is one element but maybe a change in routine – including eating routing – can help.  Plus one of my roommates is gone for the next week, so we have a 1/3 of the fridge to takeover.  (<< shelf and fridge space are also the things you think about when living in a tiny apartment in Manhattan)

These enchiladas (slightly modified recipe by Ambitious Kitchen) were delicious and almost better after being in the fridge overnight.  It must be the way that the ingredients settle that makes it so delectable.  Anyways, add a little avocado and Greek yogurt and viola!

While Sunday was the day where we turned our clocks forward, I decided to let myself sleep in.  That usually means 6:30 or 7 since my body naturally likes to wake up early.  Nope.  Yesterday I slept until 9am, which with the time change meant I had slept for a full 10 hours!!!  Obviously my body was trying to tell me to slow down between the terrible workouts, body aches and two nights of epic sleep.

After lounging in bed watching the Today Show, I cleaned up the apartment and walked out into the bitter cold (real feel of 11 thank you very much) to meet a couple of friends for brunch.  My goal is to be better about making meals during the week and then keep exploring food spots on the weekend.  This way I don’t feel nearly as bad when we go ham ordering a few extra items.

^^ Ruby’s Cafe is 1) a place where of course it’s mega-popular 2) is run by a crew of Aussies (they seriously know what’s up for brunch) and 3) can be excellent for brunch OR lunch/dinner.  The Murray Hill location had actually been recommended to me by a few of my friends but when their Instagram “liked” my Saturday brunch photo, it was almost serendipitous – we had to go there.

After hemming and hawing over the menu (like I said, they have it all) we agreed to order brunch items and promise to come back for the classic burger and sandwich options.  It was only right and after polishing off our orders of BLTA+egg, Breakfast Bowl, and Green Breakfast Bowl (+ a treat of coffee granola w/ poached pears and greek yogurt), we knew that we had ordered right.

After brunch I decided to check another item off of my bucket list, which was the New York Transit Museum.  I don’t entirely know why I was so driven to see it over the last couple of years but the MTA does an excellent job of advertising for it within the current subways and so, over the Brooklyn Bridge I went to check it out.  The museum itself is housed in an old subway station so for starters, that’s pretty awesome.  Then, for general admission of $10, you get access to the story boards and gidgets and gadgets that helped our public transportation evolve over the last 100+ years.  They even housed every version of subway car on the old tracks so that you could actually see and touch the trains of the past.  I only spent about 45 minutes in there but it was like taking a step back in time.

Then it was back into the cold to walk/ride into Manhattan, where I got distracted by a craft store going out of business, and then took a vinyasa flow class (aka glorified stretching by I love it).   It may not have been the weekend I imagined but I have to constantly remind myself that I’m on my own journey – whether it’s for running or work or just life itself and that’s okay.

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Now it’s time to conquer the work week, continue to make plans for the rest of the year including a few trips around the country and of course my Paris trip, which is right around the corner.  Until then, enjoy this extra sunlight in the evening and if you are in these neck of the woods, good lucky and stay safe with this crazy nor’easter!

“Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Nashville ~ The City of Music & Murals

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Another trip in the books and what an adventure to the south it was!  I had actually visited Tennessee once before {girl’s trip to Graceland and the Peabody w/ my grandma, mom, and sister} but that was all the way across the state in  Memphis.  Nashville had been on my “to-do” list for some time and since Lindsay was dying to escape the cold for her birthday, off to “Nash-Vegas” we went for a good time.

We flew out Thursday and it was possibly the worst flight I’ve ever had.  I had a drunk passenger who wanted to have a life chat and then get touchy feely.  In retrospect I really should have said something to the flight attendant rather than suffer the two hours of firmly telling him to stop and keep to himself.  Mostly I was worried they would turn the plane around and just wanted to get to Nashville.  I know this might be more on the personal side for the blog but I want to remind women that they need to speak up, especially if they feel uncomfortable.

We finally arrived to our Airbnb around midnight and it was off to bed.  Our home base was named the Cleveland Cottage and was quite possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen.  As a matter of fact, when I saw it, I was inspired to look into design classes and set the seed for my own organization side project.

I think the entire recent southern charm/Pinterest/hipster movement was encompassed in that cottage.  We had a loft, a record player with plenty of country and hits from the prime record days, a range of books for display and reading pleasure, and a faux fireplace that would turn off and on with the swipe of your hand.  If you are looking for a place to stay, DEFINITELY check this place out!  Oh, it’s also a mile or so from one of the tastiest Mexican restaurants called Mas Tacos.  What more reason do you need?

We had a slow start to day 1, allowing ourselves to sleep in (jokes on me there…my body won’t sleep in), attempting an ab workout, getting ready, and transporting ourselves (via  Uber) to breakfast at Biscuit Love located in the Gulch.  Even though it was a Friday, there was already a line to get into breakfast.  As Lindsay waited in line, Annelise and I grabbed some coffee across the street from Kellebrew.  HANDS DOWN BEST VANILLA ICED LATTE! The reason?  Who knows but I have a feeling it comes from that homemade syrups.  I also snapped a photo of the delicious looking cinnamon rolls but restrained from purchasing since it’s a no-sweets zone for me right now.

Luckily for us, the line moved quickly and we soon were eyeing all of the wonderful southern soul food options.  Rumor is the bonuts (biscuit donuts) are a hot commodity but again, Annelise and I were out of sweets commission this weekend.  Guess I’ll have to go back!  Each of us ended up with some form of biscuit – fried chicken for Lindsay, gravy for Annelise and grits + eggs/bacon for me.  All in all the biscuits were alright – not the best I’ve had but certainly not the worst. Tip: The grits are where it’s at.

After breakfast Annelise headed back to the Airbnb since she had to work 😦  Lindsay and I took our time walking towards Vanderbilt and soaking in the sunshine.  I’m 99% sure Lindsay saw Hunter Hayes coming off of Music Mile but can’t confirm since I had my head in the clouds.  We also ended up in Centennial Park where the only authentic replica of the Parthenon is located.

From the grounds of Vanderbilt to the Frothy Monkey for a quick latte (seriously best turmeric latte to date) and then a walk down 12th Ave to Draper James.  If you haven’t heard of Draper James, it’s a lifestyle brand created by Reese Witherspoon and talk about Southern style and charm.  It also happened to be located near some of the murals Lindsay had on list!  Unfortunately Lindsay was in a boot so we couldn’t walk too much but I would recommend creating your own walking tour in Nashville to see all of the sights and sites!

After a short stop and rest at the Airbnb, it was time for a NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN! For those of you who know me, I don’t usually go out and when I do, it’s once in a blue moon.  But in Nashville, you suck it up and dance!  We started the night at Acme Feed + Seed where there was live country music on the first floor and a packed house.  Dinner was in order and after getting our respective BBQ platters, we headed to the roof to sit.  Guess what?  I had another stupid drunk guy encounter.  This time, one guy from a bachelor party decided to walk over and start eating our fries.  No pickup line, no flirting, no questions.  We were not impressed and those sweet potato fries were the best part of the meal! Yep, the ribs and brisket were a bit of a disappointment so my recommendation would be to go for sides.

BBQ: ACME Feed & Seed ~ Martin’s ~ Monell’s (Germantown w/ family style food)  ~ Rippy’s ~ Edley’s (bonus: it’s near Jeni’s ice cream!) ~ Hattie B’s (hot chicken and considered by a lot of critics to be the best fried chicken in the country)

We stayed around for some staged music and live music and then walked down the strip to HonkeyTonk Central.  This hot spot has three different floors with bars and bands on every floor!  If we had played a betting game (dare I say drinking game) with every bachelor and bachelorette parties that we passed, we would either be rich (or very very sick).

BARS/SOCIAL SCENE: Patterson House (speakeasy style w/ great drinks) ~ Winner’s, Loser’s ~ Rebar ~ Tootsie’s ~ Paradise Park ~ Tin Roof ~ Honkeytonk Central ~ Crazy Town ~ ACME

By the time we got around to Tootsie’s (one of the most popular and well-known) it was almost midnight and we were ready to call it a night. Not to mention the length of the line outside the popular honky-tonk had us a little deterred.  So while we didn’t actually go into Tootsie’s, the picture counts, right?  One of our uber drivers told us that some people spend upwards of 4+ hours in that joint so maybe it is worth taking another trip down south one day.

Day 2 also started off to a slow start and despite the late night, I woke up too early and so I set out for a run.  It was refreshing to get out and stretch my legs and (attempt to) work off the late night garlic rolls.  We headed out to brunch around 10:45 and soon found ourselves faced with a very long line at Pancake Pantry.  My hanger was starting to emerge and so we walked to Fido and waited for about 20 or so minutes for food. Fun fact – EVERYONE brunches.

Post brunch, we walked and shopped – I spent more than I needed to – and we took a trip down to the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum.  This is a definite must do when in Nashville because it provides you with a full perspective of country music from start to finish and hey, it’s Nashville, the city of music!  Also, I would hope that you actually like country music if you are in Nashville…otherwise that’s a you problem. 😉

After a couple of hours of wandering through the museum, we adventured off to another part of town to walk and shop (something new and different…mostly window shopping this time).  We picked up another cup of coffee and then called it an afternoon around 4:30.  All of us needed a nap or chill session before one last night in Nashville.  Around 6 we met up with a couple of my friends who happen to be in town!!  One is an old family friend (Mia) and another is a friend’s sister (Lauren) from home.  Turned out they became great friends while working at Vanderbilt last year and all because I was a mutual connection on Facebook!

We met up at Mas Tacos, a quasi hole in the wall restaurant that was absolutely DELISH!  One can never go wrong with Mexican food – that is for darn sure.  I ordered elote (Mexian street corn), horchata, plantains, and a pulled pork taco.  Other solid recs include the chicken tortilla soup and chicken carne tacos.  Heads up – it’s cash only but have no fear, there is an ATM!

After partying ways with Mia and Lauren, we watched UNC beat Duke at a local sports bar and then headed home to pack.  It was in bed by 10 making it a successful night and a fabulous trip!

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“Country music is the people’s music. It just speaks about real life and about truth and it tells things how they really are.” – Faith Hill

Life of Late ~ 3.3.17

Holy cow it’s March.   Spring is officially around the corner and thank goodness my two least favorite months are behind us.   I actually happen to be down south gallivanting through Nashville with a couple of my girlfriends because YOLO!  So a very happy Friday and weekend to all!   There will be plenty of good food and good music over the next couple of days and then it’s back to NYC to run my 18-miler on Sunday afternoon.  Good times, right?

^^ Above is a solid representation of how Mother Nature is going completely crazy with snow storms and 65F weather.  #globalwarming (yes it’s a thing)

So Lent has begun and while I don’t follow religion too closely, I did consider giving up some things for these 40 days.  It’s what my mom called “The Lenten Diet” since both my sister and I used to give up things for the heck of it.  This time around I wavered between dairy and going “Whole30”, possibly nut butter or simply just ice cream.  In the end, I decided to give up sweets for my physical health and “to be less critical of myself” for my mental health.    We shall see how this goes.

I’ve rounded up some of my favorite articles over the last few weeks for your reading enjoyment.  If you are back east, you might enjoy these at your desk or inside since it’s supposed to be a bit brisk (no really…in the 20’s and 30’s after being in the 60’s on Wednesday).

Well+Good ~ “Why Staying Home is a Wellness Trend” ~ YES YES YES! #noshame

 Fast Food Rankings ~  Because ranking the top fast food burgers is necessary.  Trip to In ‘N Out or Shake Shack anyone?

Streeteasy ~ “Best Neighborhoods for Dating” ~ Looking for a place to live in New York?  How about targeting your borough based on your dating life?

Great Big Story ~ “Brunch Comes from a British Man with a Hangover

Buzzfeed ~ “Kitchen Products Under $10 that are Actually Worth Your Money

LinkedIn ~ “10 Important Career Lessons Most People Learn Too Late” ~ NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK.

PureWow ~ “NYC Friend Types” ~ True. So true.

Speaking of diet, I have fallen prey to restricting (or attempting) to restrict food groups and calories just to fit an image of what I should look like.  What’s new?  Well, I have to remind myself that what one person does may not work physically or mentally for another.  I do want to look good but more importantly I want to feel good.  I want to maximize my life and if that can carry into training (which is a BIG part of my life), then that would be GRAND.  Last year I took a test with Inside Tracker to analyze my blood and better understand my levels of ferratin, iron, and more.  It was fascinating but besides taking iron pills, I didn’t really make any dramatic changes.  Here we are and I’m feeling in another slump, questioning if I need to cut dairy or gluten out of my life just because everyone else is doing it.  After talking with my friend Jenna and reading her post about training, I decided to take the plunge and get tested again.  Who knows, maybe I can utilize this information for the future me and take my training to the next level!

Note on training/running: I’ve decided to scale way back on races this year simply because my wallet and schedule does not like the idea of 17+ races in the next 10 months.  I’m keeping things calm through my next marathon, Ragnar Relay, and trail race but not committing to anything else (yet).  Maybe next year I’ll work on my half marathon PR but for 2017, it’s about having fun and enjoying the process no matter the result. (<< because your mental game is just as important!!!)

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March is going to be filled with more running, lots of work events, and much much more.  What’s on your spring bucket list?

My Favorite (Running) Things

Whoever said that running was an inexpensive sport was lying.  Sure, you could just grab the pair of shoes you have lying around the house and take them for a spin but chances are it’s going to hurt more than it will help.  Back in the day when I first started running, I would set out on a chilly morning (yes 50 was considered very very chilly) with two cotton long-sleeved shirts to go running. TWO COTTON SHIRTS!!!   Thankfully our running industry has evolved and jumped on opportunity to monetize our outfit selections and well, vanity.

I’d go ahead and categorize my running enjoyment and success in three parts: fashion, food, and friends.

It’s entirely evident and safe to say that I am obsessed with Lulu and Janji.  Hey, if provided the opportunity to wear a combination of the two all day every day I would be a happy camper!  I do happen to be a brand ambassador for Janji because and it’s my goal (though I admittedly have been slacking) to spread the word about the great work that Janji is doing (yes that sounds like a church mission but it’s not).

Janji is a running company that makes awesome performance running apparel. Not only that but 10% of the sale from each item goes to help fund clean water products.   They currently support Kenya through the program Evidence Action and did I mention they have pretty sick running gear?

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^^ Yep, that guys is definitely checking out my Lulu pants and wishing he had pockets too.

Let’s talk about the lower half of the body. A little thing called puberty occurs and that combined with running changes your body in ways that you cannot predict.  Again reminiscing to my high school running days, I used to acquire every color of Nike shorts imaginable and dress in a different pair every day.  These days my quads would like to say “oh hell no” to that style and prefer the likes of Lululemon capris.  I discovered that these fit every angle of my quads, calves, rear, and even cover my stomach.  Real talk there’s no thigh gap present and while I b$tched and moaned, I realized that these legs that have taken me through 16 half marathons (3 of which I ran 1:40 or faster) and one full marathon.  I have to appreciate my body for what it can do rather than curse it for what it is not.

I also love the Janji altitude tights that have a solid back pocket and yellow accent zippers on each leg. You know, because running should be fashionable and again, there’s an added bonus of giving back!

FOOD IS FUEL

Oh how I love good food.  This is very evident in my many Instagram food pictures accompanied by the hashtags #runtoeat or #eattorun. Generally, the former is in regards to all the delicious treats that I splurge on after running and working out.  (Admission I’m giving up sweets for lent so these posts may be far and few until Easter)  The latter refers to all of the good nutrients and items that I use to fuel my runs and keep me moving right along.  While I’m a huge proponent of natural foods, I can’t get on board with raisins or baby food mid half marathon.

I have spent some time testing various gels and energy bars and  and finally discovered my favs – anything Honey Stinger – waffles, gels, and gummies oh my.  Everyone has their go to product but I have been a fan of this company for some time.  My sister first introduced me to them a few years back (she always seems to be in the know with running stuff) and I was hooked.  I eat a 1/2 to full waffle with 1/2 to full banana pre long runs and races and have alternated mid race fuel between the acai/honey gel or the grapefruit gummies.  None of that gag reflex flavor or struggle to chew while running. Don’t believe me?  Test it out.

As for post workout/run/race fuel, I’m still in the process of figuring out that magical combination (besides NUUN, the active electrolyte).  If I am good about meal prep, breakfasts waver between overnight oats and oatmeal/nut butter/banana and dinners of sweet potato, kale, and eggs.  Maybe I’ll have some inspiration or a jump start on a new meal plan following my next Inside Tracker test or when I actually have a decent amount of space to cook and can actually house leftovers in a fridge.  I am on the hunt to make my body and mind feel as good as I believe they can.  I want my training to follow suit and as my friend Jenna reminded me, “it all goes back to nutrition”.

FRIENDS FRIENDS FRIENDS

For me, the community that I surround myself makes me the happiest human on Earth. It’s these people that have made my time here in New York so memorable and it’s the people who I see weekly (usually in the morning) that make me excited to drag myself out of bed.  I sound like a broken record but my favorite activity is to workout (often in the form of long runs) and then find a fun place to get coffee and breakfast.  Day made.

“Always find time for the things that make you feel happy to be alive.” – Gone for a run