Monday, December 1, 2014

I mustache you some questions!

Like some other blogs out there, you may have seen this quiz floating around. No one tagged me for it since I'm not cool enough, but I think it's fun and thought I'd share! :) Plus, I just ran the Mo Run for the end of Movember on Saturday!

Four names that people call me, other than my real name
  1. Bab
  2. Sweets
  3. Margo
  4. Margs

Four jobs I have had (not counting any current jobs)
  1. Sales assistant at J. Crew
  2. College tour guide
  3. Account executive
  4. Researcher

Four movies I’ve watched more than once
  1. 10 Things I Hate About You
  2. Atonement
  3. Edward Scissorhands
  4. Love Actually

Four books I’d recommend
  1. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  2. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  3. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
  4. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Four places I have lived 
  1. Paris, France
  2. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  3. Bangalore, India
  4. San Diego, California

Four places I have been
  1. Australia
  2. Hong Kong
  3. Mexico
  4. Dubai

Four places I’d rather be right now
  1. Florence, Italy
  2. Morocco
  3. Home in Virginia
  4. On a beach somewhere warm

Four things I don’t eat/drink
  1. Fruity jam/sauce and chocolate together ( But chocolate covered strawberries are OK.)
  2. Pumpkin pie (despite my love of all things pumpkin and raging sweet tooth)
  3. Soda
  4. Decaf coffee

Four of my favorite foods
  1. Sweet potatoes
  2. Green smoothies
  3. Almond butter
  4. Chocolate

Four TV shows that I watch
  1. The Affair
  2. Homeland
  3. Parks & Rec
  4. Currently plowing through Gilmore Girls...

Four things I am looking forward to this year (in the next 12 months)
  1. Going home to visit my family for Christmas
  2. Trip to California over New Year's
  3. Parents coming to visit the UK in the spring
  4. NYC trip in January

Four things I’m always saying
  1. Dude!
  2. I need coffee.
  3. I miss you!
  4. I really want to go to...[insert any city here]

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

P90X3 - Block 1 Review

I'm officially 30 days in to P90X3 - one-third of the way there! The month has flown by so I imagine (/hope!) the next two will as well.

I know I touched on it in the last post, but I really enjoyed Block 1. I definitely feel like I got stronger. I didn't really lose any pounds, but I did decrease some measurements, which is a good feeling.

Here's how the first month went:

I loved them. I thought they were all great and I didn't really dread any of them. My favorites were probably CVX (weighted cardio) and Agility X. I only missed ONE workout the whole time, and I just replaced it with a 10k run instead. Let's hope I can keep that up for the next two months, too!

Because there are some new-to-me moves in every workout, it took me a while before I felt really comfortable with pushing it hard in all the moves. For example, I only did Accelerator twice, so I didn't feel super comfortable with it by the end. CVX, on the other hand, I knew SO well by the end since I did it four times. The weight even felt lighter in my last CVX workout!

In Block 2 I'm not going to worry so much about getting the moves RIGHT but just MOVING and getting the form as close to correct as I can. I already noticed in doing Triometrics this morning that I'm hesitant with new moves!

Improved balance
Increased strength
Better muscle definition
Better at getting up in the morning!
Runs are not faster, but not bad

Inches lost from Day 1 to Day 28:

Chest  -2"
Waist  -1"
Hips  -0.25"
R Thigh  -0.5"
L Thigh  -0.5"
R Arm  -0.5"
L Arm  -0.5"

Not too terribly different, but at least they weren't gains! And honestly not sure if I did the chest measurement correctly, because 2" is sort of insane.

Before and after pictures:
Just a caveat...I started Day 1 in the evening, after a full day of eating meals and following a gluttonous delicious week in NYC. And I didn't suck in because Tony said not to! ;) Day 28 was taking in the morning before I'd eaten anything. Also YIIIIKES I can't believe I'm putting these on the internet.

I think there are some noticeable improvements - shoulders and back, flatter tummy (some mornings I swear I even see a line down the middle), love handles more in check (OK and I wore my Oiselle Rogas with a flattering waistband for Day 28 instead of my Champion shorts with a band that digs in), arms better defined. More improvements to come!

What I want to keep doing:
Be aware of my sugar intake
Eat healthfully
Push hard in the workouts
Get in all the workouts!

How I want Block 2 to be different:
Add in running 2-3 times per week so I don't lose that fitness
Add in Ab Ripper X from P90X 2-3 times per week for better core strength
Eat more intuitively
Be better about post-workout meals to feed my muscles
Push harder earlier on

I'm definitely intrigued to see where things go from here. I do some some changes over the month, even from only working out once a day for 30 minutes at a time. I hope that adding in Ab Ripper X helps, and that running a couple times a week feels good. 

One month down, two months to go! BRING IT!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Back to blogging?

Hello hello to anyone out there who still might get updates!

I've been getting used to a new life here in London. Different running routes,  fitness classes, weather patterns, brunch places, coffee options, pastries to try...the list goes on! I haven't been blogging but I think I should change that.

When I first moved here I wanted to try everything that was new to me - Sunday roasts, beers, wines, cakes, brownies, etc. I also baked because I missed home and it made me feel better. Because of that, my pants (/trousers to any of you Brits who might be reading) starting feeling a bit snug. I didn't own a scale at the time, but when I visited New York in October I learned I've been carrying around about 8 more pounds than I'd like to be.

Sure, I'd been running here and there, had joined a gym (which honestly, I just don't love), and had gone to Barry's every so often, but it wasn't enough to offset the crap I was eating (oh and it had also been my birthday, so I ate a LOT of cake). Now don't get me wrong, I totally enjoyed every bite, but it's not a healthy lifestyle and I decided to do something about it to get me back on track.

You may remember (eh probably not) my foray into P90X a while ago when I was coming back from a stress fracture. It kept me active and got me super strong - aka I could hold a 5 minute plank. But who has time to do an hourlong workout every single day?

Enter P90X3. It's 30 minutes, six days a week, doable in your living room if you are lucky enough to have one. It would have been almost impossible to do this workout in my studio in NYC, but luckily I have a nice-sized living room in my flat here in London, and can do some of the workouts in my own bedroom. It's 30 minutes so it's done before I'm even awake, and I can't ever think of a reason why I can't workout for 30 minutes.

With the change in workout, I've also changed my eating. I am trying really really hard to cut back on my sugar intake since that is where most of the empty calories come from. I did great the first two weeks, and have been a little bad this week, but week 4 is Transition Week before my first round of progress pictures, so I'm going to work on "being good" this week (just a couple squares of dark chocolate and some pb instead of a delicious cookie in a mug...).

So, how's it going so far?


30 minutes a day is doable. IT IS SO DOABLE. It's also something to keep me busy in the diminishing hours of daylight - it will be (/already has been) so nice to have an indoor workout option that kicks my butt.

And kick my butt it does. I get sweaty in every workout! (Though some more than others.) So what are the workouts? For weeks 1-3 we do:

Total Synergistics: Full body resistance workout that uses minimal equipment. Not my favorite workout, but gets the job done.

Agility X: Lots of jumping, quick movements. Reminds me of Plyometrics in P90X. You need some tape on the ground, but no equipment otherwise. I definitely cannot (and probably never will) do plyometric push ups, but it's a fun challenge and I really enjoy this workout and get super sweaty!

X3 Yoga: Flow style yoga with some balance. I don't really sweat during this workout, but it's a pretty good yoga practice. I'm really happy that I'm guaranteed one yoga workout a week!

The Challenge: Push ups and pull ups all day long. I use resistance bands since I don't own a pull up bar and my flatmate would probably kill me if I installed one. You do two rounds of two different types of push ups and pull ups - wide pull ups with standard pull ups, chin ups with military push ups, etc. It's hard, and can be made harder by increasing the resistance, which I did this week and my shoulders/back are still reeling.

CVX: Dude. This workout. Yes. I love it. It's WEIGHTED CARDIO. So hard, SO good, SO SO sweaty. Every move is a minute long and involves a dumbbell. You do two rounds of three moves and Tony varies the speed and/or intensity of the moves in round two. It's awesome.

The Warrior: Hard. It's an upper body move, a cardio move, a core move, and a lower body move nonstop for 30 minutes. It is intense and requires no equipment. I definitely let out a few curse words when I did this workout yesterday...

Dynamix: Haven't done it. I "rest" on the 7th day, but today I walked 21,000+ steps, and last Sunday I ran a 10k, so I can't say I've really been hardcore resting...

Three weeks down, 10 weeks to go! Considering how quickly every week has flown by so far, I expect the next 10 will follow suit. This week is Transition Week, which basically means I do different, less intense (I think?? but CVX is in there...!) workouts before I start Block 2, which is also different workouts - Eccentric Upper, Triometrics, Eccentric Lower, Incinerator, and MMX, plus X3 Yoga. Will report back on those!

Results so far? Well, I've lost a couple of pounds, but who knows, could be water weight... My pants (/trousers) do feel a bit looser, and I think I am looking more toned. I will have to be more mindful of my sugar intake, but I have been cooking with lots of veggies and protein. Last week I made a green protein smoothie every single day, and it was awesome - filled me up for the morning, replenished my muscles, and sneaked in some fruit and veggies first thing in the morning. Love it.

I'll be back soon with travel and London recaps, and will keep writing about my P90X3 journey! xx

Friday, August 22, 2014

New normal

Hello from across the pond! I've been in London for SIX WEEKS now and time is seriously flying. Here's a quick catchup on what's been happening:

Work: I stayed with my company and transferred to the London office from New York. I have hit the ground running HARD and have basically dived right into a bunch of big, exciting projects. That said, the London office is quite different from New York. For example:
Office terrace!
There's a terrace where you can have lunch or just bring your laptop up to work for a bit. Granted, I haven't had lunch up there in the past week or so since it's basically fall here in London now, but for the first month I could be found there regularly.

Adjusting to lunch on a terrace is the least of my worries though; there are other things that are taking getting used to: an open plan (I had an office in NYC), the British understatement (oh this just needs a few document to find a million edits ;), using "diary" instead of "calendar", using a British keyboard (there are differences!), and a much smaller team - just me and my boss, vs. 20 people on my team in the NYC office! I am absolutely loving everything though, and can't complain at all!

Living: I found a flat in Bethnal Green, about a 30 minute walk to work. I have a super nice flatmate, and the place has felt like home since the moment I stepped foot in it. The neighbors are nice and friendly, I get amazing sunlight in my room, and there's a balcony where I can read books and eat banana bread from Broadway Market.
Cute little balcony
And that brings me to the many amenities afforded me in this location. Broadway Market (on Saturdays) is 20 minutes away, Columbia Road Flower Market (on Sundays) is 20 minutes away, an independent coffee shop with amazing coffee and baked goods is 5 minutes away, Victoria Park (a 2.7 mile loop) is 200 steps away, and endless miles of canals are even closer than that.

Best of all?


And I do. Every day, both ways, which is amazing and exactly what I wanted when I was looking for a place to live. I listen to the NPR One app and am better informed on all world news now than I have been in a while, I get my 10,000 Fitbit steps in with ease, and I save money by not riding the tube every day. Win-win-win!

Fitness: Like I said, I walk to and from work every day, which is about 3.8 miles a day. On weekends I walk at least 20,000 steps a day (about 10 miles). Victoria Park and the canals are my backyard. Though I have not (yet?) joined a gym, I get a good workout every day without trying very hard. That said, I am still getting into a workout groove and figuring out what works for me. I've gotten up in the mornings to run, I've run after work, I've done at-home bodyweight exercises, AND I've gone to my beloved Barry's Bootcamp (and bought a nice class package!).
This is what I see out my window. Those trees? Victoria Park!
Getting back into a workout routine has not been easy for me. Though the initial place where I stayed my first two weeks in London was near Regent's Park, I was rarely in the mood to go for a run, despite knowing it's good for me and would make me feel more "normal".

Another thing that made it hard for me to get back into working out was knowing that I had lost a lot of fitness in the previous two months, thanks to quitting the gym and ClassPass, packing up my life, pre-move travel to DC and Kansas City, moving to my boyfriend's place for two weeks, and general moving stresses. Frankly, I did not want to know what my pace was because I knew it would be slower than what I had been seeing in the spring when I was training. I knew I'd lost strength and speed, and I didn't want to face it. Surely you've been there before, too, right?

With no fall race to train for (I signed up for the Philly half before I knew I'd be in London!), I am still struggling with figuring out my workout routine and not falling into the ever-present comparison trap that can be difficult to escape in social media. I've always been pretty good about not falling into this trap, but that doesn't mean I never catch myself comparing my runs to others'. I just need to remind myself that we're all different, training for different things (me? I'm training for LIFE), and have different abilities. And my abilities WILL come back, but they need practice! This is the new normal for now, but as I practice and improve, my new normal will improve, too.

Slowly but surely though, after a few gadget-free runs to remind me what this running thing feels like, I'm more comfortable than I was. Still, it is VERY hard to look down and see a slower pace than the one I ran a MARATHON at in April. It is all about perspective though...if I think about where I was two years ago, or five years ago, I have grown and sped up SO much. It's a good reminder when I'm feeling slow.
Can't complain about views like this
Beyond the above, I've also got two trips planned (Madrid and Zurich!), I'm exploring London as much as possible, and I'm adjusting to life well overall. There are still some UK things I'm getting used to (such as being paid once a month, saying "trousers" instead of "pants"...since pants = underwear here, and yes, I have absolutely told someone I liked their pants...oops) but I'm getting there.

I'm still trying to make new friends though, so if you're in London and want to run or try to a fitness class or anything, give me a shout! And if you have any London recommendations, I am all ears. I'm trying to soak up as much as I can!

What is your favorite piece of advice to get back into a workout routine?
Favorite running route?
London must-dos?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Two new-to-me spin classes and NEWS

After my Paris recap, I fell off the blog wagon. I've been Instagramming and tweeting, but blogging just fell off the radar. I'm bringing it back today to review two spin classes that were new to me and I'm now obsessed with.

Venue 1: Swerve
I bought two classes for the price of one, an offer they make for first-timers. $30 for two classes?! Yes please! It's now on ClassPass, but it wasn't when I signed up for Swerve.

Swerve is divided into three different teams: red, blue, and green. You pick a team when you sign up for a class. Teams compete during the class at certain points - the instructor will have a 30- or 45-second sprint, or a hill, and teams win points. The whole premise is "Together We Ride", even though you get individual stats, too, and the bike that's "winning" at each push is put on the screen, too (which I didn't realize until the second class).

By nature, I'm a competitive person. I'm probably most competitive with myself, but it is a REALLY good feeling to see my bike number up on this screen, which means I'm beating other people, too. I absolutely push harder in those moments because of the promise of helping my team beat the other teams and get more points! The board is not always up on the screen, but the instructor flashed it during the competitive bits and also shows you where your team is ranking periodically throughout the class.

At the end of the class, Swerve sends you your stats, letting you know how you did on your team and with the rest of the class. The first time I took class, I was last on my team, which was a little bit disappointing, but shows you how hard everyone is pushing! The second time, I did better (second out of five on my team, top half of the class!).
You also get distance, personal score, and team score!
I love this competitive aspect and Dyan is an amazing instructor! I didn't get a chance to try out other instructors, but you definitely can't go wrong with Dyan!

Venue 2: Flywheel
Perhaps I'd been living under a rock, but I had never tried Flywheel until a few weeks ago when ClassPass added it...and I'm SO glad I did. The energy is amazing, I loved the stadium-style class, and, naturally, I LOVED the competitive atmosphere.

Unlike Swerve, there are no teams at Flywheel. You can also opt out (or in) to having your name on the board. Though it shows a username that you created, it still flashes your bike number and your points.

I really love that Flywheel doesn't ONLY rely on RPMs to let you know where you should be - they also let you know a goal torq, and higher torq seems to equal higher points in the end. I saw some riders veer completely away from the RPMs and torq guidelines given by instructors and keep their torq numbers HIGH - which means their score was also among the highest (yes, I'm THAT GIRL who looks at how fast the person next to me is going on the treadmill/spin bike/etc.).

Like Swerve, the board isn't up the whole time, and there are also power moments like hills or sprints where it's an individual competition.

The first time I took Flywheel, my name was up there, and I LOVED having my name up there. It was a really good motivator for me to push harder and NEVER COAST as Flywheel's tagline recommends. The second time I took Flywheel, my name was NOT up there (and I'm still not sure you have to opt in every class? Was it because I was late?), but I could still see what my score was and place myself in comparison to the rest of those who opted in - still motivating me to push harder!
Performance data on Flywheel's account site
Flywheel also has a dashboard when you log in to your account where you can see what your score was, average torq, average RPM. If you go enough, track your progress. As a numbers-driven girl, this is totally my bread and butter!

Swerve and Flywheel also have an upper body portion, but as someone who started really getting into spin at Revolve, where you completely stop your legs during weights sections, I wasn't a fan of keeping my legs going.

Verdict: UGH they're both good, but if I had to judge on just two classes of each (which is all that I've done!), I'd say I'm craving a Flywheel class a bit more than Swerve...I can't quite put my finger on WHY, but I think the range of class locations is helpful, as well as the progress tracking. Now if I could just figure out how to always see my name on the board...

With my newfound obsession with competitive spin classes, however, I have some news to share...

I'm moving to London! In less than a week. Cue the freakout/excitement/tears.

I'm super excited to run in all of London's parks, try out new fitness classes, and meet new people. If you're in London, be my friend!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Paris: What To Do

After the marathon, I had a full week in Paris to explore, eat, and drink with Dan. Here are a few of my favorites - and there are still so many places I want to try!


  • Laduree: Excellent (but expensive) breakfast. The French toast is to die for. And obviously, you need to get their macarons.
  • Holybelly: Such a perfect breakfast spot. Delicious food, excellent service, good coffee and nice ambiance. Best on weekdays, but they have an excellent Sunday brunch (with bloody marys) as well.
  • Claus: I didn't actually go here on this trip, but went the time before in March. You get a TON for your money - bread basket with the most amazing butter and homemade jams, muesli, an egg, a coffee, and a juice! I went in March and asked about making a reservation in April, and he told me they were booked through June! So plan ahead and reserve as soon as you've booked your trip to Paris, or do what I did and sit at the bar for breakfast (if there's room). Weekdays are best.
  • Coquelicot: Found this spot via an article about less touristy places to eat in Montmartre. They had sandwiches, quiches, and other simple meals for good prices, and it was totally walkable from Sacre Coeur.
  • Picnic on the Champ de Mars: Pick up some wine, cheese, bread and a pastry and camp out on a sunny day by the Eiffel Tower. Rue St. Dominique has quite a few supermarkets leading up to the Champ de Mars.


  • Bistrot Vivienne: We went here after our friend recommended it to us. I had duck and Dan had something delicious that I can't remember. We absolutely LOVED the salted caramel mousse that came in a jar. It felt like quite the authentic bistro!
  • Cafe Marly: This spot is definitely overpriced, but the food is good (it's where I fell in love with molten chocolate cake when I studied abroad in Paris) and the ambience is lovely. It's right next to the Louvre, and has a great view of the Eiffel Tower. 
  • Cafe Constant: This was the best meal we had in Paris. The food was fantastic, affordable, and tres francais! Dan had a beef dish that was amazing, I had chicken (also amazing), we split a pichet of wine and the ile flottante for dessert, all for around 60 euros. 
  • Creperie Josselin: Excellent crepes in a no-frills environment - just really good food.

  • Pierre Herme: Delicious macarons and other amazing pastries (though the location near me just had macarons and chocolates, no additional pastries). Perfect for a pique-nique!
  • Berthillon: The best ice cream around! Worth the wait, and be sure to try an unusual flavor. Dan had pineapple basil or something like that and it was divine.
  • Du Pain et Des Idees: Run, do not walk, and absolutely get a chausson aux pommes. The pastry melts in your mouth, and there is an entire apple inside so it's totally healthy. Their pain au chocolat is also perfectly flaky, and the pain des amis is absolutely worth getting.
  • Poilane: The rustic apple tart is to die for. Just get it. The butter cookies (punitions) are also really good and excellent (edible!) souvenirs. We also got pain au chocolat for the road and they were also really good!
  • Aux Merveilleux de Fred: The most unusual/amazing pastry I've ever seen or tried. Meringue, cream, and toppings - including shaved chocolate, speculoos, etc. It was so, so good.

  • Sainte Chappelle: Beautiful, old chapel. Incredible stained glass. Close to Notre Dame.
  • Musee de l'Orangerie: Where 8 of Monet's nympheas paintings live. Each are so different and so beautiful. We got a combo ticket to the Orangerie and Musee d'Orsay for a bit of a discount.
  • Musee d'Orsay: Train station turned incredible museum. Amazing view of Sacre Coeur from the clock face, so many impressionists! My favorite museum.
  • Dome of Basilique du Sacre Coeur: I don't think I'd ever gone up to the top of Sacre Coeur, but I can't recommend doing it enough. The view is unparalleled! And it's absolutely worth the 6 euros and 300 steps up. It's cool because you have a view OF the Eiffel Tower - rather than being ON the Eiffel Tower and not being able to see it!

  • Jardin des Tuileries: A must! Perfect for people-watching and relaxing. Central and can get quite busy. 
  • Jardin du Luxembourg: A bit off the beaten path from the Tuileries, with great people-watching opportunities as well. 
  • Jardins du Palais Royale: You could walk right by these without knowing they were there! Very serene, great photo opportunities - less people-watching.

  • Day trip to Giverny to see where Monet lived and painted: Ridiculously easy to get to and absolutely worth a visit. The gardens are spectacular!
  • Markets: We went to one on Ave. du President Wilson as it was winding down on a Saturday morning. I think we liked another one that we stumbled upon even better though - rue de Grenelle, which takes place on Wednesdays and Sundays. So much fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, flowers.
  • Canal St. Martin: Cute neighborhood off the beaten path.
  • Marais: Good shopping, neat neighborhood. Go to L'As du Fallafel (I didn't make it this time around - always need something to go back for!).
  • Stalls along the Seine: We found some really cool prints of perfume ads from the '50s along here. 
  • Watch the sunset on the Champ de Mars: There's nothing quite like a view of the the Eiffel Tower set against pink and purple clouds. Bring wine.
  • Rooftop of the Galeries Lafayette: Something I never knew you could do, but am glad we discovered! Free, nice view of Paris. 
  • Lots of aimless wandering :) Just go everywhere.

I also found it to be incredibly useful to have an offline map app on my phone. This is the one I had. When I was at the apartment, I could add pins to places I wanted to go, and access them when I was out and about. For example, since I knew we were going to go to Montmartre the next day, I looked up potential lunch spots and pinned them so I could easily access them. It was great!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Race Recap: Paris Marathon

Almost two weeks after the race later...I am back from Paris AND have a race recap for you!

Let me just say that my trip to Paris was absolutely amazing. I lived there for six months during college and I feel like this 10-day trip was even better than those six whole months. Dan and I walked everywhere, ate delicious food, and drank loads of amazing (cheap!) wine. I can't forget to mention the pastries and countless cafe cremes consumed either!

Overall, the race was a good one. It was also insanely hard and it was the first marathon where I haven't listened to any music (the two may have been related...). It was sunnier and warmer than I'd expected, and also hillier than I thought it was going to be. But let's start at the beginning, shall we?

Dan and I arrived Friday morning after an overnight flight in coach. I slept a bit on the plane, and when we landed, we headed to our flat and went to the expo. I had absolutely no problems getting my bib and swag bag, and we wandered around the (enormous) expo for a bit before heading home for a much-needed nap.
2:03 is a reasonable goal, right?
Friday night, I slept incredibly well, but the night before the race I slept pretty horribly - a rarity for me. I was up for about an hour around 2am, tossing and turning, and finally fell back asleep around 3am. At 6:45am, my alarm went off and I started prepping for race day, snacking on a bagel with almond butter I'd brought from home, with banana slices and a cup of coffee. Before I knew it, it was time to head to the starting line! Dan headed over with me as well, and I handed off my gloves and arm warmers to him, knowing I wouldn't be needing them today (the temps were already in the 50s).
Pre-race Arc de Triomphe selfie!
I got to the corral around 8am (the race had a staggered start, with the first corral going at 8:45 - I was in the fourth corral, I think) and immediately hopped into the neverending portapotty line. For some inexplicable reason, there was exactly ONE portapotty in my corral of several thousand people. I had made my opinions of this terrible idea very clear in my Paris Marathon survey response, so I will spare you here. Suffice it to say that one portapotty is not enough portapotties.

ANYWAY! I crossed the starting line around 9:15am. We start out running along the Champs Elysees, away from the Arc de Triomphe and toward Place de la Concorde. Also, the Champs Elysees is sort of cobblestoned - not a surface I had trained on, but nice anyway! We ran around Concorde and headed east along rue de Rivoli, which offered some much-needed shade. 

My first four miles were good ones and I felt strong - 8:30, 8:25, 8:29, 8:25. I'd hoped for 8:30s so was pleased when I was holding to that.

Miles 5 to 8 - 8:21, 8:22, 8:24, 8:15. These were also some great miles, but shade was scarce. I saw Dan and our friend Ryann around mile 7.5 in the Bois de Vincennes, a gorgeous park on the east side of Paris, and I felt so relaxed and calm during that part of the run. Seeing them was a great pick-me-up, as you can see in my mile 8 time!

Miles 9 to 12 - 8:24, 8:42 (uphill), 8:07 (downhill), 8:17. I liked these miles as well, and was so happy to turn around and head west. The sun was at my back and I was almost halfway there!

Miles 13 to 16 - 8:22, 8:18, 8:27, 8:27. I actually almost fell on my face when a runner nearby tripped me by one of the nutrition stands! Luckily he also caught me before I fell, but it threw me off a bit. There was the ONE AND ONLY Powerade station around mile 14 as well (why there was one...I do not know, but it was NOT ENOUGH!), which was the best thing to see on such a warm day. Around here was also where we ran by Notre Dame. I remember seeing some signs for it, but to be honest, I barely took in any sights during the entire race!

Miles 17 to 20 - 8:38, 8:36, 9:14, 9:00. Around here was where the wheels started to come off. I saw Dan again near the Trocadero (~18.5), and seeing him was a much-needed pick-me-up. I was starting to really struggle mentally, and I think in these miles some music would have been good to throw on. I had my phone and headphones with me, but I also have a password on my phone (for work, so I couldn't disable it), AND my phone was in a plastic baggie, so I just didn't even bother. 

Miles 21 to 22 - 8:48, 9:38. Yep, you are reading that right correctly, 9:38 for mile 22. There was a hill and there were tunnels and I don't remember much other than pretty much wanting to stop. My goal for a 3:40 marathon was way out the window, and I strongly considered throwing in the towel and just running whatever pace I wanted for the rest of the race. 

Miles 23 to 24 - 9:00, 9:00. We entered the Bois du Boulogne, which meant there was like, HARDLY any race left at all! And I told myself that it was going to hurt no matter how fast or slow I went, so I might as well go fast! This was a great trick to play on my brain and totally got me moving :)

Miles 25, 26, 0.4 (because I suck at running tangents...and because the crowd NEVER thinned in this race!) - 8:46, 8:50, 7:37. One thing I hated around here - I could see these enormous streamer things ahead of me and was like OMG THE FINISH LINE! But NO! It was just some decoration to show you were at the 42km point! RUDE. Anyway, when I realized that I actually COULD PR (by a tiny bit), I sucked it up and ran with all that I had left in me. It was not pretty, and it was not fun, but it felt SO AMAZING to cross that damn finish line.
Just a little excited about being done!
I finished and immediately wanted to collapse/fall over/chug some Gatorade and/or a smoothie. My official time? 3:46:56, exactly 44 seconds faster than my Chicago Marathon time of 3:47:40 (on a flat course on a perfect marathon temperature day, mind you! And only one hour of jet lag instead of six!). As soon as I finished, I texted my dad and Dan to share with them the lesson I had learned during the race: "Holy sh*t, that was hard!" 

It was actually super easy to get my medal, my poncho, my finisher's shirt, and find Dan. It was a much faster and easier process than when I'd waited over an hour to find Dan after the NYC Marathon in November.
Somehow still standing!
So YES! I PR'ED!!! Very exciting, I'm totally thrilled. I worked my ass off through a challenging course on a (much) warmer day than I'm used to, on a hillier course than I'd expected, where electrolyte beverages were distributed exactly once. And I moved up places in every single 5k, which means I passed more people than passed me - which is awesome and an accomplishment I'm incredibly proud of. However, to say I'm not at all disappointed would be a lie. I am a very teeny tiny bit disappointed that I had such a strugglefest for a few of those miles. I was trained for a faster marathon for sure, and I know that I have a faster one in me. 

But, as I mentioned, there were a lot of things out of my control, and I'm incredibly proud of how I handled them all. I could have given up, thrown in the towel, and run a non-PR marathon - which would have been fine, because there are pastries to eat and wines to drink in Paris, after all. 

I was quite close to giving it all up, actually, but decided to give it an extra push and see what I am made of, and I can't be disappointed in myself for doing that. In fact, I celebrated.
Champagne, jam, and butter procured on Saturday since
everything is closed on Sundays
Dan bought me macarons and flowers. And we went to the
Trocadero to take pictures by the Eiffel Tower. Because Paris.
Till next time, Paris. And till next time, marathon. I'm coming for you, 3:40. Maybe not this year, but 2015 better start looking out.

A post about all the fun and cool stuff we did in Paris to come soon!