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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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

Year 3 In New York City

Another post that’s better late than never.  The past year was spent traveling, running, and exploring all of New York – sounds a lot like year #1 and #2, right?  To be honest, there wasn’t too much change.  I continued to work for an awesome company, expanded my friendships within November Project, and squeezed as much out of my free time as possible.  As I mentioned on the 31st, I learned a little bit more about myself, appreciated my body thanks to the I Run This Body movement, and learned when to let go.  This last bit was tough in the sense of FOMO and friendships, but I realized (through many discussions and Elite Daily articles) that we can’t do it all and there comes a time in our lives that makes us realize what and who is important.

But here’s a look at what made my third year in New York City so wonderful and memorable.

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Travel Check : Portland, Maine

Almost three months have passed since my trip to Portland, Maine and while I still can picture the delicious food we ate (yep and yep) and beautiful views we had (Instagram again for the win), most of the details are slowly slipping away.  To be honest, I think I’m drafting this simply so I can it to my travel list.

My friend Lauren is much better at the details and will probably have a must-see and do post published in no time, even though it took us 3 months to do so. (I’m pretty sure I had drafted an email to myself with all the bucket list restaurants and then the draft disappeared…maybe it was meant to be)

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Last October, a few friends and I decided to take a trip up to Portland, Maine to explore the outdoors and eat our hearts out.  Lindsay and I are on a “need-to-do” east coast bucket list and Portland just so happened to be one of our destinations!  Sadly we didn’t make it to Acadia National Park, so I guess that’ll have to be another trip down the road.  For now, enjoy the Top Things to Eat & See in Portland, Maine!

Explorations

  • Back Cove Running Loop (sunrise photo above): A 3.6mi loop perfect for a morning stroll or jog.  Since this trip was a week before the New York Marathon, I had about 8-10 miles scheduled and wanted to build up an appetite before our day of eats.  Lauren and I rambled around Portland, around this quasi-inlet, and back through a small farmer’s market.  Our friend Abby located a local spin studio to sweat it out, which was also an excellent find.
    • As mentioned above, we didn’t get a chance to explore the Acadia National Park and subsequently missed out on all the excellent hiking Maine has to offer.  Of course, we did walk our fair share along the streets and local shops, so we’ll call this trip a Portland-dense adventure.

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  • HOLY DONUT – A VERY popular donut shop that is centered around the Maine Potato.  Open daily 8 am and features top-notch fried confections, making millions per year! {Maine Potato, Dark Chocolate, Sweet Potato, Vegan, etc}

As you can see, we went for the full sampling selection and yes, using the bottom right picture for scale, the donut is THAT BIG.

  • Silly’s – Eclectic hole-in-the-wall place that is very vegetarian-friendly and excellent for brunch carbo-loading.  The prices are prime and the portions are even better!  Highly recommend the Berry Me In It + Eganator for a sweet and salty combination.
  • The Standard Baking Co – Breads and goods make from scratch.  There should be no other way.
  • Blake Orchard Juicery – When you are in the need of a detox from brews and baked goods.

I highly recommend taking a picnic or picking up a top-notch lobster roll {Bite Into Maine}, walking/running along the water, or just sitting and staring out into the distance.  Maybe live a little and do all of the above.

  • Where there’s a brewery (or two…or three…or four), there’s a way.  We visited three different breweries for tours and tastings and had a blast!  I’m not usually the one to booze throughout the day let alone the weekend but it was fun to uber around and sample some local (and not to mention popular) hops.

Last but not least, the Maine feature – lobster rolls or as Lauren likes to say LOBSTAH.  Here at Eventide you can find one of the top lobster rolls in town (and on Eater’s 38 Essential American Restaurants).  This place is usually packed, especially on the weekends so expect to wait.  Always smart if you decide to go at 3pm like we did or are willing to stick around or even go for a walk.  They take down your cell # and give you a text when a spot is about to open up.

Do note that these rolls are different from Long Island lobster because they are served chilled and chunky.  I personally would stick to something out of NYC but that’s just my city snobbery.

With that, another travel recap in the books.  Anything you think we missed in Maine?

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain

Happy Centennial to the National Parks Service!

Hip hip hooray because it’s the National Parks Service BIRTHDAY!  Whether you realize it or not, national parks come in all shapes and sizes and today is the day that this grand organization turns a whooping 100 years old.  Growing up I was fortunate enough to spend time in the great outdoors from Mammoth Lakes to Yosemite and even Crystal Cove in Laguna Beach, all of which I greatly miss while living back east.

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Celebrating Pride, Ice Cream, and One Hot Half

It’s a well known fact that a weekend away or in a different environment does the mind and body good.  I started off the weekend with a five mile race in Central Park, put on by the Front Runners in partnership with New York Road Runners.   As I noted Friday, we had created our own November Project tag for the event and as you can see below, showed up in full force for the race.  We had 64 finishers, the men’s team finished 11th overall and 2nd in our division, and the women finished 7th and 1st in our division!!! BOOM!

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^^ Check out all those people ready to run and celebrate Pride weekend!

So I admit, I talk a big talk but never really follow my own advice.  I swore that I was going in feeling sore and not even sure I wanted to “race”.  I needed to take a break and not run or race for awhile and didn’t really follow that.  I thought “sure it’s hot and humid and only 8:15 but five miles can’t be so bad, right?  Harlem Hill isn’t that bad, right?”  Well, turns out I was competitive with myself yet again and ended up running 38:07 (7:38 pace).  I reallllllly need to work on actually training and not jetting out like a bat out of hell on race day.

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^^ I couldn’t stay for the group photo this year but look at those hooligans.  What a good looking and fierce group!

Immediately after finishing the race and consuming the popsicle that was handed out (yes…think ahead folks to next year – popsicles at the Pride Run = amazing), I ran back to Equinox to shower and meet Lindsay at Grand Central in order to travel up to Connecticut.  Lindsay had found a half marathon in Fairfield and while I declined to officially sign up, I did agree to tag along and even run the last half with her.

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^^ Yes.  A beach day was EXACTLY what we needed.  This beach (Jennings Beach) took us about 2.5 miles and an uber ride to find but was oh so worth it.  The water was crystal clear – as clear as the Atlantic Long Island Sound (thank you Lauren ❤ ) will get in Connecticut – and the sand was much cleaner than that of Rockaways or Long Beach.  It also felt VERY much like a suburb beach.  I don’t know why it felt that way, but I could definitely tell we were out of New York City.

In the end we only spent a few hours on the beach since we didn’t want to get too tuckered out from the sun.  After after a few hours of sun and surf, we walked to dinner, ate with the early crowd, picked up some ice cream and headed back to our AirBNB.  Shall I mention that we brought down the average age of the dinner crowd about 50 years?  I mean, they really could have offered us an early bird special at that point.

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^^ AND I MADE A FRIEND

Sunday morning we both woke up bright and early and started to prep for the day ahead.  I have come to accept the fact that I just don’t “sleep in” and my body automatically wakes up between 5:30-6.  Sounds find during the week but on those days that you want to just lay around.  Wait, who am I kidding, I can’t even sit still long enough to do that.

Anyways, we were out of the door at 6:45 and off to the starting line (Jennings Beach).  Again, transportation brought to you by uber.  No this isn’t a sponsored post but I wouldn’t be opposed. Hint hint uber.

Lindsay picked up her bib and then I headed off to meet her around mile 4.  It was quite refreshing to jog and not have to look at my watch, my pace, or even listen to music.  I was more focused on the sights and taking pictures of all the fancy schmancy houses and people on Vespas that I saw.

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Once I saw (and almost missed) Lindsay at mile 4, I ran out to mile 8 and once she came around we wound our way back along the course to the finish.  Let me just say, mega props to runners to compete in such gnarly conditions because at only 75F, it was brutally hot for the runners.  I can’t even imagine anything more than that.  Thankfully a lot of the neighborhood had put out sprinklers and extra water stations for the runners.  But, at least three runners were not so lucky and were being attended to within the last 3 miles.

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^^ Perks of finishing by the ocean – automatic ice bath.  Too bad I wasn’t wearing a bathing suit and didn’t have a towel with me.  I would have totally been swimming all afternoon long.  After stretching for a bit, we called an uber (yep, uber again), went back to the AirBNB to shower and hit up a brewery before going back to the city.

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It was very sweet of our AirBNB host to drive us to the brewery, but turns out she dropped us off at the wrong one… Since that spot felt a bit sterile and didn’t serve food (both no-nos), we took an uber back to the one we had in mind – Two Roads Brewing Company.  As you can see, it was quite an indulgence.  Maybe not the best post-race food for one’s stomach but we hadn’t eaten much afterwards and I guess my mind said “GO BIG”.  Cue “Assimilation fries” with a fried egg as well as an “eh” Cordon Bleu grilled cheese.

See I have this problem if I purchase something, I have the need to finish it – no waste.  Well, I was able to power through my food but wasn’t able to finish the flight of beers.  It was my fault for selecting the wrong brews or just not going with my gut instinct and ordering a regular size of the Lil Heaven IPA.  Lesson learned.  But, when we realized the remainder of the beers weren’t going to be consumed, we called an uber and made it to the train station JUST in time for the 2:51 Grand Central bound train.

Two Roads Brewing Company
1700 Stratford Ave, Stratford, CT 06615
Hours: Tue-Fri: 12-9 ~ Sun: 12-7 ~ Mon: Closed

I swear, the minute we entered Grand Central, it was like a mad house and the peace and serene feeling of being in the suburbs had vanished.  Nothing like pushing your way onto a crowded and humid subway platform to say welcome home.  The rest of the afternoon was spent lounging and watching the latest season of Orange is the New Black as well as the Olympic Trials. Just 39 days until Rio!! And about 590 until South Korea…if you’re counting.

What were you up to this weekend?  What sport (if any) are you looking forward to in the Olympics?

“Everything in moderation, including moderation” – Julia Child