About Kaitlin

Southern California born and raised. Graduated from SCU and moved out to the Big Apple to see what the east coast has to offer. Ready to conquer the world and find the best in life. Adores laughter and obsessed with food, crafts, and athletics. Do what you love and love what you do. www.californiaendlesssummer.com

Running the Cape ~ Ragnar Cape Cod

So, Ragnar Relay Cape Cod.  Where do I even begin?  The fact that I ate more bread in a four-hour period than I had in two weeks (I’m talking heavenly delicious blueberry granola bread from When Pigs Fly)?  Or that I got a total of 3 hours’ max of restless sleep?  Or that I had three of the hardest runs in my life (or last four years) and pretty much was crying on leg #3, my second 9.6 trek? Or that I had an absolute blast and couldn’t stop laughing the entire trip?

Yeah, I don’t know where to begin either so let’s just start at the beginning.  As I mentioned last Friday, I had completed a few of these Ragnar Relays in the past.  As a matter of fact, I completed the Wasatch Back Relay, which was the inaugural Ragnar (it started back in 2003).  When you tell someone that you are voluntarily paying to run between 15-22 miles and sit in a car for 24+ hours, they will probably think you are insane. I tried again and again to explain what would happen and why it was fun but it turns out you can’t comprehend what will go down on one of these trips – no matter how many posts and articles you read – until you have completed one.

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(Source)

It started back when my friends Kayla and Lauren decided to enter the race lottery.  Due to the size of the cape and the sheer fact that we would be running through the streets during the day and night, a lottery application system was required.  When they found out that they had won a spot, they immediately started to fill a team.  To fill a full team, you will need 12 people.  For the longest time, we only had 6.  It fluttered between 5 and 6 a few times and then I started to freak out.  We were about a month out and still didn’t have a full team.  By the sheer grace of God, we managed to find enough runners only to have three drop within 2 days due to injury.

At this point I had many reasons why the universe was against us. Many of them I no longer remember and probably had made up to be dramatic.  In the end, we managed to get to the starting line and finish AND almost placed in our category (spoiler alert).  But let’s jump back to Thursday.

On Thursday morning, about five of us met up to pick up the minivan from La Guardia Enterprise and drive up to Boston.   Around 7 or so hours after meeting up, we had picked up food at Costco and arrived at Kayla’s house to spend the night.  Kayla’s mom made the most amazing dinner of cous cous, grilled vegetables, and salmon, which was topped with a maple glaze.  At some point during the afternoon we discovered that the van had a low tire and would need to be replaced.  (<< This was one of the incidents that made me believe the universe was against us).  The remaining runners arrived later that night and once we had a mini pow-wow about race strategy, we were off to bed.

Originally when we had submitted our running paces, we (Van #1) were set to start the race at 12pm.  By estimating a 9min mile pace for every runner, we were set to finish by 6:35 or after the race finish area was closed.  I didn’t consider the fact that some people might be 1) injured or sore and need to run slower or 2) people would feel fabulous and run like a bat out of hell.  Let’s just say that everyone had 2 of their 3 legs (and sometimes 3/3) with scenario #2.

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In the morning, we woke up and started to decorate and pack both vans.  Van #1 headed off early in hopes that they could start earlier than 12 and sure enough, they were able to start around 10:15!  Kayla’s mom was the real winner that weekend because she made both teams their own frittata.  Yours truly decided to eat breakfast with both teams because why not?  Well, my stomach would later regret this decision big-time.  Once we sent Van #1 off, a few of us went to pick up bread from Kayla’s favorite bakery When Pigs Fly as well as some cold brew coffee bottles for the next couple of days.

Folks.  This blueberry granola bread is crack.  Whether you toast it with a little butter or don’t toast it, it is pure heaven.  I would know since I pretty much ate half the loaf and I’m sure everyone commented on it.  Awwwwwkward.

Our van left the Boston area around 11:30ish, drove to the wrong destination, back tracked, and finally arrived at exchange #1 by 3:15 or so.  To be completely honest, I’m giving estimations of time because I didn’t note down every.single.thing.  Just go with me. 🙂  Once we arrived at the exchange, we were able to catch up with Van #1, pick up some free samples, and then check out all the other team’s decorations.  Like I said, people had dressed up their cars to the nines and had taken this thing super seriously.  I made mental notes for if (when) I do another race.  Our team was really rolling by the seat of our pants – a Kaitlin classic.

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When runner #6 from Van #1 came flying through the arch, it was time for our van to head off.  Kayla jetted out and away we went!  This was probably my favorite part of the day since I was driving and loooooove to drive (except in traffic but who does?).  It was also a bit like the Amazing Race, always needing to figure out the logistics on the fly, check in with the runner and make sure we were at the next pit stop in time, which we were not always.  I would blame that on the fact that one of our runners – Zoe – was SPEEDY and there were a couple of legs where we just couldn’t get in and out of the parking lot in time.

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Around 7:18 pm (thank you Strava) I headed out for my first run.  It was 9.6 miles and I was a little over eager at first.  You can totally notice the excitement start to decrease as the miles went on {7:38 – 7:48 – 7:40 – 7:52 – 8:16 – 8:06 – 8:12 – 8:48 – 8:34 – 8:51 all for a 8:09 average pace} .  Even though the scenery was pretty and the sunset was gorgeous, I was regretting the snacks and REALLY regretting that bread.

As soon as I finished, it was time for Van #1 to start their second leg and Van #2 to take a rest.  By our initial calculations, we should have finished around 11pm and should be ready to nap but that wasn’t going to happen.  In fact, runners usually get no more than 4 hours of sleep during these types of races.  Yikes!  Anyways, I chugged a chocolate milk in the back of the van and attempted to stretch out.  We ended up at the next pitstop and tried to catch a few winks of sleep.  I stretched outside, talked to the family for a few minutes, and then curled up in the van for about 2 hours of restless sleep.  People would be coming and going through the parking lot and chatting at all volumes so sleep was really pointless.

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Around 12:45, the girls came back from sleeping (resting) in the gym since it was time for Kayla to get ready and pumped up for leg #2.  Again, I must note that we didn’t expect for people to be racing these and yet, were running the legs a lot faster than anticipated.

Some people worry about running in the middle of the night but there is nothing to be concerned about.  You are required to wear a headlamp, vest, and reflector clips (“taillights”) and there are plenty of cones and volunteers to help along the way.  Plus, you do end up running most legs with other runners, passing some and some passing you.  My teammates had at least 10 “kills” (where they pass someone) on their routes but since I was stuck with the arguably tougher or just longer legs, I got a total of 9 between all three.

I ran my second leg around 4:15am {2.8 mi – 7:54 – 7:58 – 8} along a bike path and again regretted the bread and snacking that had occurred during the middle of the night.  This whole stomach situation I know is only minor in comparison to what some people have to deal with but is new to me.  It’s also why I love running on a fasted or semi-fasted stomach first thing in the morning.  When I finished around 4:45am, we packed up to go to the last exchange and settled down for a nap in the parking lot.  Ok, I settled into the van in the parking lot and a few of the girls tried to sleep in the school gym.  Again, it was colder and louder than anticipated and they later came back to rest in the van.

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Funny story though about the last exchange.  It was located 15 minutes away from Kayla’s Cape Cod house where we were planning to spend Saturday night.  That meant that we could have easily driven there, showered or at least passed out for a couple hours of SOLID sleep before running the last leg.  I had done something similar in Utah but didn’t realize that Kayla’s house was that close!  Well, hindsight is 20/20 right?

Around 10:15 (or so), our first runner Kayla set off for her third and final leg.  By this point, muscles were tight and stomachs were still out of whack (oh, just me? Cool).  It was an invigorating feeling to know that we were on the homestretch and that we were also crushing our anticipated finish time.  Everyone was coming back with at least 9-15 kills and I was somewhat dreading my last 9.6 miles.  Well, the time came for me to get moving and around 1:15 pm I headed out for the last leg.  For 9.6 miles I ran along a dirt path, side road, and main road to Provincetown {8:54 – 8:10 – 8:48 – 8:32 – 8:50 – 9:41 – 9:43 0 9:33 – 9:42 – 9:29}.  I passed a few people and a few passed me, including someone dressed as Forest Gump.

In my moments of weakness (yes, there were quite a few since it was hot and I was tired) I wondered why I had signed up for something like this.  Why was I running and what am I doing in my life?  Right now running and working out is a passion and there’s a passage from the latest Runner’s World that sums this up perfectly:

{It’s a way to push our limits, prove that we can accomplish something. It’s the stitching that holds our lives together; a means of training to step out of your comfort level.  Running isn’t about the places it takes you but the people you meet on the way.}

Just some food for thought.

So, while contemplating oh so many things and almost 90 minutes later, I arrived at P-Town and reconnected with the rest of my teammates.  Our team had finished in just over 28 hours and we later discovered that if we had a team of all girls (which we had initially), we would have placed 5th!!  Not only that but our name “Big Apple Cod Squad” was ranked as one of the top names from this year’s race!  After a quick and complementary meal of sandwich/soup, we started to head out to Kayla’s house for a night of celebration and relaxation.

All in all it was an amazing weekend.  I had no idea that it would go this well and I have not laughed this much in so long.  We had plenty of time on Sunday to chat/laugh about what went right and what went wrong.  There’s no point in writing it all out since it would be it’s own post and most of it wouldn’t make sense to anyone besides our van. But there were some tips and tricks we took away from the trip and were certainly use when/if we were to do this again.

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Tips

  • When runners are on deck (getting ready to run), you should have someone walk to the exchange point and wait for them to head off. You can also bring water, food, a blanket or whatever requested to hand over to the runner finishing their leg.
  • NYC poncho: Since we were in the NE, there were a ton of people who had run the NYC marathon and brought their super soft (and warm) poncho along. This is perfect for in the car or even while waiting between legs.  I definitely need to get more use out of this!
  • Try to cheer for your runner along their leg – either pick a halfway spot or cheer as you drive by (carefully…duh)
  • Portable speakers: Again, something I own and just don’t use that often. This would be helpful when hanging in the car or if we are camped out somewhere.  Our minivan didn’t have a cord to connect the phone to the speakers so portable and wireless would have come in clutch.
  • Pack your clothes for each leg in a separate plastic bag.  Bring warm clothes because it does cool off at night!!
  • Shelving for the van: There were tons of expert teams with mega vans, lights decorating the interior and exterior and a couple teams with better layouts than we did. Some had hammocks and sleeping bags and others had mattresses in their vans.  One team – Team Sloth – put a piece of shelving in their trunk so that they could place the bags on the bottom and plastic containers for each runner on the top. For a team that pretty much unpacked and repacked the car every.single.leg, this might have been helpful.
  • Have fun.

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Have you done a Ragnar or have any interest in Ragnars?

Life of Late ~ 5.12.17

As you read this I will be en route to start my 5th (or 6th since I can’t really remember) Ragnar Relay.  Back in high school and college I ran the annual Wasatch Back Relay with some friends in Utah.  Since that particular race happens in June, it was always a “fun” way to wrap up the school year.  I put that in quotes because most people would 1) call that insane and 2) it really is somewhat of a 24 hour suffer-fest.  My coworkers actually have started to just assume every PTO day I take or “vacation” is running related.  So far this year they aren’t wrong. 

Anyways, being a runner, I forgot what the pain was like and decided to do it again.  This time around has been a bit more intense since I’m actually helping the captains get ready for the race and let’s just say the universe was very against us running.  Between finding an additional 7 runners, runners dropping due to injury (total of 4 runners dropped), issues with driving insurance, and more injury, it’s been a fun time.  I don’t start until later this afternoon and then I will embark on a total of 22 miles (9 + 3 + 9).  Now if I don’t get kicked off the finish line (there’s a slight chance we may not make it based on timing…) it’ll be a grand success.  I’ll have to check back in next week to let you know the result.

As for now, sit back and enjoy this week’s edition of Life of Late.

Yes, a majority of my life is about running.  My dad hinted that I might need to cut back on working out so that I can enjoy some other parts of life.  I know there will be a time where exercise may not be #1 in my life but for now, it provides me with social opportunities, peace of mind, and energy to take on the day.   I don’t take it to extremes and it really doesn’t interfere too much with “normal life” since my workouts are always in the morning.

I probably should have taken more of a break following Paris but instead got caught up in the weekly schedule of workouts and continuing training for Ragnar.  My hips have been bugging me so I might have to take a step back in the next month or so.  The nagging pain probably has to do with the fact that I’ve been rooted on my butt from 8:30-6:30 most days at work but that’s a pretty petty excuse.  I really need to get back into stretching, strength, and foam rolling.  Alas, I’m only human.

It’s true I haven’t been to NP as much but still have my Tuesday track and Thursday stairs workout.  I do still love NP but have been feeling a bit out of it lately and need to reevaluate.  However, speaking of November Project, I re-connected with an old sorority sister through Instagram and start chatting about November Project. Turns out that she moved to Portland and has been one of the main members of the fitness pledge and THEY BECAME A TRIBE!!  How neat is that??  I will certainly have to visit.

Looking back at college I think I would have been even more satisfied or happier if I had a solid workout group like November Project.  Then again, hindsight is 20/20 and I was still figuring my way around and trying to figure out myself.  Heck, I’m still doing that.

Last week was my birthday and I think 26 is off to a very solid start.  I started the day with a run – actually crashed Ali’s event – in the park.  Our friends Jackie and Laura Ann were simply amazing and picked up balloons, necklaces that said Happy Birthday and birthday hats.  All of the above made running 6 humid miles around the park a bit difficult but it was so worth all the smiles and birthday greetings we received from people.  I mean, how can you glare at someone trying to maneuver a massive golden balloon as they run?

Later in the day after brunching at Blake Lane and grabbing a coffee from Joe, my friend Melissa and I held a joint birthday bash at a bar downtown.  I’m not the biggest bar person but when you are in NYC, that seems to be the big thing.  Well, for anyone looking for an awesome space, look no further than D.B.A., which allows dogs, food to be brought in (because of said dogs), and has an awesome covered outdoor space.  We stayed all afternoon long and had a blast!  I think what made me the happiest was that over the course of the day, I was able to see pretty much every person in New York City that I love.  That right there is the key to a good time!  Oh and possibly a few too many bottles of the Wolffer Cider.

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^^ Sunday brought some gloomy weather and somewhat of a hangover from the lovely Wolffer Cider.  Not the best hangover but certainly not the worst.  I had been gifted tickets to the NYCFC match up at Yankee Stadium and so despite the nasty forecast, I traveled up to the Bronx to watch some good ‘ol futbol.  I haven’t followed MLS of late but grew up watching the Galaxy so it was fun to reminisce and also to walk around the baseball stadium.

Fun Reads (because it makes me happy to share)

The Real Life RD ~ “Why You Should Take A Lunch Break” ~ When possible, I do try to go for a walk or even a quick gym class and it’s totally evident with my refreshed mind and body.  But the past two weeks have been tough to even get out of work on time.  Let’s just say working 8:30-6 or later with no break does nothing for my achey hips and back.

PureWow ~ “8 Hikes within 2 Hours of NYC” ~ Maybe now that I’m not training for any half or full marathons this fall I’ll have some more weekend time to hike and enjoy the beach!

NY Post ~ “Llama Weddings Are Real and as Bizarre as They Sound” ~ Goodness knows I’ve got time before I get married BUT OH MY GOSH HOW COOL! THEY HAVE LLAMAS!!! (also not sure where my obsession with llamas came from either…) November Project ~ “How My Body Healed When I Took Off My Watch” ~ Comparison is the thief of joy and I certainly need to remind myself of this DAILY.

Quartz Media ~ “Employee Burnout is Becoming a Huge Problem in the American Workforce” ~ If anything, there are times where I feel guilty for taking time off, but that shouldn’t be the case!

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  I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend and wishing all the mother’s out there a very Happy Mother’s Day.  You are all rockstars.

Secret Spots of Central Park

My name is Kaitlin and I’m a history geek.  I grew up with a family that would make a detour in order to tack on an extra Civil War Battlefield or museum so I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Right now I’m working my way through New York City via a walking tours book and some spontaneous running adventures.  November Project has been a huge help since the workouts range from Battery Park to deep into Harlem.  But the most wonderful place (biased) is that of Central Park and it turns out that there’s a lot more to this grand oasis than I ever realized!

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This amazing plot of land is smack dab in the middle of the concrete jungle, it happens to be the most visited park in the U.S., and it tops out as one of the most filmed locations in the world.  I can easily say it’s one of my favorite places in the city and I make sure to run some form of the loop at least 1-2x per week.  I also happen to work near the park but the reality of me leaving the office during the day is bleak…so I rely on the epic views we have from the kitchen and cafeteria.  Anyways, enough about me.  The important part is that this park should always be on your NYC bucket list whether you are here for the 1st or 100th time.

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Last Sunday my friend Maura and I went on a jogging tour of the park with a group called Jane’s Walks.  Maura tends to stick to the West Side Highway during her runs and as her time in New York is actually coming to a close (off to grand adventures in D.C.!!!!) so we thought it would be good to accomplish some bucket list items.

Now I have taken many many pictures of the park and posted them here.  From the Great Lawn to the reservoir, they are all pretty note-worthy places.  Today’s post will be more about the more secretive spots that blew me away.  Who knew these lush gardens could be found by simply walking an extra 10-40 yards off the main path?

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It was established back in 1857 on a portion of city-owned land and the design was picked out of a design competition.  With the expertise of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, a design was picked, construction began, and the first public area was introduced to the public in 1858.  The construction continued through the American Civil War and in 1873 was expanded to the 843-acres that it is today.

 The park had been home to a number of shanty towns – Harsenville, the Piggery Disctrict or Seneca Village that needed to be rid of in order to continue construction and there was even a convent on the upper right side of the park called Mount St. Vincent’s Academy.

We started around 72nd near the Daniel Webster statue and ended up around 102nd.  We passed through the west side of the park, through the gardens along 5th avenue and up on the hills of Harlem.  We didn’t run through the Zoo but did pass the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (<< one of the most difficult words for me to spell).

We crossed over and under countless from back in the 19th century and are still standing.  Along with those bridges are waterfalls, which are flowing a plenty now that it’s spring and we’ve had our fair share of rain.  Then you have the above picture (right), which is a blockhouse, the second oldest item in Central Park next to Cleopatra’s Needle, and was created back in 1814 for defending the park.

Now when writing this post, I spent some time bopping around Wikipedia.  Yes, I was using Wikipedia because all the information is there and I don’t have access to encyclopedias.  Anyways, since I can’t copy and paste and am not going to link back to every single thing, I highly recommend spending some time reading up on Central Park.  It’s fascinating what you can find and if you would rather take a walk in the park, then be my guest and come explore the wonder of New York City!

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Have you been to Central Park? Do you have a favorite place in the park?

 

Life of Late ~ 5.5.17

Hello.  It’s me.  I honestly didn’t mean to let this much time go in between posts but I have been stepping away from blogging a bit.  Maybe it’s a phase or a burnout or maybe the social sharing medium has changed.  To be honest, I tend to use a lot more of Instagram than I used to and so do most people (sorry Dad if you are reading this…I think this is the data issue).

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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.

pre-race marathon fuel

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.)

other marathon pics

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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