run

Back To It

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During one of our hikes in Griffith Park recently, with a tiny Hollywood Sign behind me.

Last week was the first week in a while where it felt like I was finally getting back on track. I had a pretty good week of workouts, and now I feel motivated and ready to get back in shape. I ran a 10K last Sunday, and felt pretty sore on Monday and Tuesday so I didn’t do much in the way of exercise (so, not the greatest start to the week). But Wednesday morning was November Project, which brought more soreness after, but it was a great full-body workout.

On Thursday morning, I ran a little over 4 miles at a 9:40 min/mile pace, and it felt pretty good.

Found a nice trail near where I live and I saw lots of other runners.

Found a nice trail that goes by this golf course near where I currently live and I saw lots of other runners.

Later that day, my friend Liz (the same one Jeremy and I just saw in Spain and New Orleans) was in town, so we spent the day eating tacos and ice cream.

Crazy good shrimp tacos and fish ceviche from a taco truck called Mariscos Jalisco.

Crazy good shrimp tacos and fish ceviche from a taco truck called Mariscos Jalisco.

Portland's ice cream shop Salt & Straw opened in LA recently. If you're ever in Portland or LA, you have to go.

Portland’s ice cream shop Salt & Straw opened in LA recently. If you’re ever in Portland or LA, you have to go.

Frog legs from a cute wine bar called Mignon downtown LA.

Frog legs from a cute wine bar called Mignon downtown LA.

Liz tours with a band and Jeremy and I went to her show that night and didn’t get home till about 2am, so a 5am wake up call for November Project didn’t happen. And thanks to my high maintenance sleeping habits, when I go to bed really late I usually don’t end up getting much sleep at all, so Friday was spent recovering from a sleepless night.

On Saturday morning, I drove across the city to park in Marina Del Rey to get a long run in. I’m registered for the Santa Barbara International Half Marathon on November 8th and I really want to do it, even though I won’t be in top shape (or close to it). I set out to do eight miles and ran to the Venice Beach Boardwalk and back. I’ve been stopping to take pictures too often on my runs lately, so I wanted to cut back on that. I only ended up stopping once to use a public restroom next to Muscle Beach (not recommended, lots of crazies) and then quickly twice to take pictures (and I didn’t stop my watch). I felt pretty good until mile six where I started fading, and realized I forgot to bring any fuel with me. But I finished strong, and I hope to do nine miles this weekend, which will hopefully prepare me a bit for the half.

Crossing the bridge over to Venice.

Crossing a pedestrian bridge over to Venice.

Venice Pier.

Venice Pier.

It was a long haul to the beach for my run, but it was totally worth it.

It was a long drive across the city to do my run by the beach, but it was totally worth it.

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On Sunday, Jeremy and I went hiking, which was the second time hiking since we moved to Los Angeles. We’re really near Griffith Park, which is a HUGE park with tons of trails. The Hollywood Sign is also located in the park, and you get nice views of downtown LA and the sign. The hike was four and a half miles and provided some really great views.

IMG_0393 IMG_0378 IMG_0370 IMG_0364 IMG_0358 IMG_0352All in all, it wasn’t the best week of training by any means, but you gotta start somewhere. Hopefully next week will be even better!

Dingle Half Marathon Race Recap

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With only a week to spare, I finally accomplished my goal of running a race abroad! On Saturday, I completed the Dingle Half Marathon on the Dingle Peninsula on the west coast of Ireland. I wasn’t expecting much (I set no goals other than to enjoy the scenery and finish feeling good) since my training has been a little sporadic and I never ended up following a plan even though I was thinking about it, but the race went much better than expected, and I was happy to find that I have kept up my fitness better than I thought. That, and the scenery was just so damn beautiful that it was easy to get distracted and the miles went by fast.

Charming Dingle with some ominous clouds in the background.

Charming Dingle with some ominous clouds in the background.

I haven’t written a race report since March (and I’ve had bad race fever ever since, and it’s even worse now after Saturday. I’ve been googling races like crazy) so I feel out of practice, and I’m not one of those people that can recall a race mile-by-mile. I’m actually really impressed when people can do that; I usually zone out or forget which mile stuff happened at. But here I go.

Pre-Race

Jeremy and I flew into Dublin from Bordeaux, France on Thursday (we spent a few days in Bordeaux beforehand then went to Spain with two friends from home, but that deserves its own post), and rented a car at the airport. We drove to Dingle, which is across the entire country. Jeremy drove and picked up the whole driving on the left side of the road thing really quickly.

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Driving across Ireland; Jeremy drove on the left side of the road like a champ.

Driving across Ireland.

We arrived in Dingle in the evening, and met our host and arrived at our perfect little house on the Dingle Bay. I don’t even remember where I found this lady’s email address because she doesn’t have a website or pictures of the house online, but it could not have been more perfect, and since she is just starting out the price was much lower than what she could actually get.

View from our little house.

View from our little house.

On Friday, we went to pick up my race packet from the harbor, and it was super fast and easy. There wasn’t really an expo since it’s a small-town race, but I didn’t mind because I don’t particularly care about expos anyway.

The view from our house.

View from the packet pickup.

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No lines!

We walked around the harbor a bit and I took my traditional pre-race photo.

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IMG_9819 After packet pickup, Jeremy and I drove around the peninsula on the road that the race would follow, called Slea Head Drive. I took some pictures since I figured I wouldn’t during the race.

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Needless to say, it was beautiful and I was getting pretty excited about running the course. There were lots of sheep and cows along the way, mixed with ocean views, cliffs, and countryside.

That evening, we took it easy. I had a lot of bread and a small salad for lunch, and then soup for dinner, which worked out for my race in March so I replicated it this time. I stretched some and wore my ProCompression socks, and laid out my stuff.

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My stretching view (I'm wearing the slippers my mom brought for me when we met up in France a couple months ago).

My stretching view (I’m wearing the slippers my mom brought for me when we met up in France a couple months ago. You can’t really see them but they are awesome).

Definitely forgot a sports bra.

Definitely forgot a sports bra.

The Race

The race didn’t start till 9am Saturday morning, which was great. We were only about a five-minute walk from the start, so I had a nice and relaxing morning. I’m not a good sleeper in general and the night before a race can be notoriously bad, but I slept really well the whole time we were in Dingle. It was definitely the best sleep I’ve ever gotten before a race (and our entire trip so far, I’m pretty sure). I set an alarm for 7am but I never actually need alarms to wake me up, and got up around 6:30. I ate some porridge (we thought it was oatmeal when we bought it) and a banana and a cup of coffee. We left the house at 8:30am, and I didn’t use the bathrooms before the race since the lines were long and I didn’t feel like I needed to. I got in the corral (there were no waves) and realized I was kind of close to the front after seeing how many people were behind me. The race started right on time, and at 9am we were off.

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The starting line, seen from the opposite side of the corral.

The problem with starting so far up in the corral was that everyone was running faster than I was planning, but I didn’t realize it. After seeing my time of 9:04 for the first mile even though I thought I was going much more slowly, I worried that I would screw myself over if I didn’t slow down. But I didn’t like getting passed by a bunch of people, so I kept up my pace. At around mile 4, I saw some portapotties with no lines and figured I should stop since I had to pee pretty badly, and it would be good to get away from the faster people so I didn’t hit a wall later on. This was the first time I’ve stopped to use a portapotty during a race. I didn’t think it would affect me by much, but I think I may have been able to PR if I hadn’t stopped. But that’s okay, I didn’t know at the time how strong I would feel later on.

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Seen on the course.

I ended up taking some pictures along the way, which really helped me mentally. For some reason it gave me a big boost of energy whenever I did, and it was actually pretty fun. During the first few miles, I was staying on the left side of the road to avoid crowds. A nice older Irishman sought me out to let me know that I should stick to the middle of the road since it was slightly slanted on the side and it would hurt my legs later on. I thanked him and moved to the center. My left quad ended up kind of hurting at around mile 10 and I realized I was on slanted road again. I moved to the middle of the road and the pain went away. I thanked the man in my head again.

Tiny runners on the cliff.

Looking backwards at the tiny runners on the cliff.

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Mile 10 marker.

I only stopped to walk twice, and for only about 5 seconds (if that) each time. I learned from my past half marathons that if I’m really feeling tired, I should stop and compose myself for a few seconds, and pick it back up. This worked, and the second time I stopped to walk on a hill, an older Irishwoman tapped me on the shoulder and told me there was a photographer at the top of the hill so I shouldn’t walk. I thanked her, and started running again. Everybody that I talked to on race day was SO nice and really made the whole experience that much better. I took a mocha Clif gel that had caffeine in it around mile 7 I think, and that gave me a much-needed boost of energy. The gels always take me a long time to finish, so I think I wasn’t done with it until a mile or so later.

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Pretty proud of these splits, especially considering I thought I would be running 10:30 miles or so. Mile 4 is when I stopped for the bathroom, and miles 8 and 12 had some killer hills.

I never ended up hitting a wall, and I was able to sprint the last half mile to the finish line. The race finished at a pub, and everyone was already drinking beer. I couldn’t find any water at the end and I was really thirsty. I finally found a few bottles under a table and grabbed one. My race medal broke a few minutes after I put it on, so a volunteer gave me a new one. My Garmin matched up pretty perfectly with the mile markers and I stopped it two seconds after I crossed the finish line, so I knew my official time would be pretty spot on with my watch. I finished in 2:05:45, one minute and 42 seconds away from my PR. I WILL break two hours soon!

The pub where the race finished.

The pub where the race finished.

Post-Race

There were buses waiting to take the half marathon finishers back to Dingle, so I waited in line and ate some snacks, and talked to two really nice people from Ireland that had just run. The bus took about 45 minutes because of how slowly the driver had to go on the small roads, but it was fun because the scenery was beautiful, and we were driving past the full marathon runners so we could cheer them on from inside the bus.

I met up with Jeremy back in Dingle, and he was waiting for me with chocolate soy milk and pretzels. The best.

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Finished!

True that.

True that.

 

I’m usually not that hungry right after a race, but it was different this time. I really wanted something salty and unhealthy, so we got fish and chips, calamari, and mushy peas. It hit the spot.

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We were going to go out to the pubs that night to hear some traditional Irish music and celebrate with all the other racers that had come into town, but I was way too tired and instead sat at our house, drank wine and ate cheese from a local cheese shop, which was made with seaweed. It was really good.

I know I should have been drinking beer since it's Ireland and all, but I had an intense craving for wine and cheese (aka I'm addicted).

I know I should have been drinking beer since it’s Ireland and all, but I had an intense craving for wine and cheese, and I deserved it.

Overall, it was a great race with some beautiful scenery, and I would definitely run it again. The weather was also perfect, it was pretty chilly and windy at the starting line but the wind died down and it was overcast and about 55 degrees and never warmed up. The shirt is also really nice, it’s a long-sleeved performance shirt that has a zippered pocket. It’s pretty big since I went with a unisex medium when registering for some reason, but I still like it.

The only things I didn’t particularly like were the fact that they handed out water bottles at each fueling stop (which were every three miles, which wasn’t that bad for me since I brought my own water), and everybody only took a sip or two and then tossed the rest, so there were basically full bottles of water everywhere, going to be thrown out. I also didn’t like that they didn’t hand out water at the finish line and I had run out of my own.

Oh man, for the first time ever, I took a few good pictures during a race (I actually tried this time). I’m going to buy a picture, I’m thinking this one:

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Or this one:

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 7.59.45 PM I swear I was sprinting as hard as I could in this one, but instead I kind of look like I’m la-di-da skipping to the finish line:

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Anyway, half marathon #5 was really great, and now I’m looking forward to #6, in Santa Barbara on November 8th!

Snapshots from Rome

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In addition to seeking out the best aperitivo in our neighborhood, our week in Rome included a couple days of walking… a lot. We trekked to the Colosseum from our Airbnb in the Pigneto neighborhood, which only took 45 minutes to an hour (when we are in cities and things are less than an hour away, we usually opt to walk there), and we figured we’d explore the center on foot the rest of the day. A friend from Athens (Georgia) recommended a pizza place in the Trastevere neighborhood, so we headed for that. Sometimes when I look at a map and I think something is fairly close… it’s not. It ended up taking us about an hour more than we thought to get to Dar Poeta for lunch, but it was worth it.

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IMG_7201Trastevere was really charming and had some narrow alleyways with brightly colored buildings, which I love.

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While heading in the direction of our apartment, I accidentally took us on a really long way back, and it took hours and hours to return. I have been wearing my Vans when we go on these 7-hour walking days, and they offer no support. I worry that it’s going to start affecting my feet (or knees), and am considering getting some Nikes or something to walk in, if I can fit them in my suitcase (unlikely). Or I could just wear the Mizunos I run in, but I feel like I should save those just for running. Is that dumb?

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St. Peter’s Basilica… where is everybody?

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Anyway, on another day, I stuffed my running gear in my tote bag and Jeremy and I took a tram to get to a park I read about, Villa Borghese. I wanted to run on the paths there since there were no cars allowed, and I hadn’t run in Pigneto yet. We tried to find a good area for me to run in Pigneto, but surrounding the neighborhood were lots of small streets with tons of speeding drivers, and no sidewalks. One day we walked for almost a mile in one direction (me with my running gear on), and felt so uncomfortable and unsafe that we turned around and went home. I thought I would have better luck at Villa Borghese, so we tried it, figuring I could run after we’d walked around to see some of the stuff we hadn’t seen yet. We decided to see that stuff first, then return to the park, I would run, then we would take the tram home. It was all very involved. Well, the walked ended up taking us 4-5 hours, and I was beat by the time we returned to the park. I didn’t run, and we headed back on the tram. So, I didn’t run at all during my week in Rome, but I got miles and miles of walking in. Oh well. Here are some more pictures from our walking expeditions.

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Piazza Navona.

 

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Piazza Navona.

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I was really excited to see the Trevi Fountain, but alas, it was being worked on. Jeremy and I still tossed coins over our shoulders and into the work site, narrowly missing a construction worker. But it means we will return one day! And hopefully the fountain will be completed by then.

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Capitoline Hill.

 

 

A park filled with feral cats and ruins.

A park filled with feral cats and ruins.

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National Modern Art Gallery.

Our Romans workspace.

Our Roman workspace.

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The zoo in Villa Borghese.

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Piazza del Popolo.

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I was really blown away with the size of the Pantheon.

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Spanish Steps.

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More ruins.

Overall, I don’t feel like Jeremy and I got the most out of our week in Rome (I didn’t even take any pictures with my real camera!). Honestly, it was a little overwhelming. I like to think of myself as pretty public-transportation-savvy, but Rome’s system baffled me. The bus numbers don’t line up with the ones listed online, it’s not clear where buses stop, the trams and buses don’t have any information inside of them and nowhere does it alert you to which stop they are at, etc. One afternoon, we planned on going back to the Colosseum so I could get some pictures with my real camera, and didn’t feel like walking. It took us 45 minutes to find a tobacco shop to buy the tram tickets and figure out where the tram stopped, we finally got on one and after 20 minutes, all the Italians in the tram started crowding next to the driver and yelling at him. We didn’t know what was going on, and suddenly everyone jumped off the tram and it continued on, with us still on it. It turned around and went right back the way it came, back to Pigneto. We were hot and flustered, so we decided to just get off and go back to our neighborhood (and get some aperitivo). This actually happened again on our way to the train station to catch our train to Bologna, but we were a little more prepared for it. We had all our luggage with us, and when everyone jumped off the tram, so did we. We piled into a bus that was replacing the tram service, then everyone got off that one too. We jumped off also, then crammed into a different bus, then sat there while the bus waited in traffic for a long time, just hoping it was going to the train station. Thankfully it did, but it was stressful.

I don’t mean to sound like I didn’t like Rome; I definitely did. I just think next time we should stay closer to the center and try to see the things we didn’t get to this time around. It’s a huge city, after all!

One more picture: everywhere in Italy you have to use a plastic glove if you want to get produce. I really loved this actually. So hygienic!

One more picture: everywhere in Italy you have to use a plastic glove if you want to get produce. I really loved this actually. So hygienic!

Rome, we will meet again one day!

Iceland Part II: Geysir, Seljavallalaug, and the Northern Lights

After exploring some of the south coast of Iceland, Jeremy and I wanted to go north from our cabin to see a geyser and another waterfall we heard about. The lady we were renting the house from also gave us directions to the oldest swimming pool in Iceland, and we were determined to go, even though it was in the opposite direction.

Driving in Iceland was really fun for me, mainly because our 4×4 was awesome, there weren’t many people on the roads, and the scenery changed dramatically with each turn we made. What we didn’t realize about driving in Iceland was the price of diesel. Every time we passed a gas station and saw the prices we thought, no that can’t be right, we must not be understanding it. When we finally had to fill up, we ended up getting a half a tank for over $100. It was painful.

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The Great Geysir

After recovering from filling up the tank, we made our way to the Great Geysir (Jeremy and I called it the OG, “original geyser,” since it’s where geyser got the name), where there was a beautiful restaurant and shop. Even though we didn’t eat anything due to the high prices, all the food looked and smelled delicious.

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At least they have a sense of humor about their financial collapse.

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Strangest souvenir we’ve seen.

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The gift shop at Geysir.

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Traveling on a strict budget = eating a cucumber in the car.

We didn’t realize that it was going to cost money to get into the area to see Geysir, so we stayed near the road and waited for what we thought was going to be a smaller geyser… We really thought we tricked the system and were going to see something cool, but after 30 minutes of standing there watching the ground smoke and water bubble, we finally asked someone if it was going to off. He told us that it wasn’t a geyser and nothing more was going to happen. We ducked our heads in embarrassment and ran back to the car. We ended up seeing the actual Geysir go off as we were driving by (but sadly didn’t get a picture), so it all worked out.

Waiting on a nonexistent geyser.

Waiting on a nonexistent geyser.

It was still a pretty view while we waited.

It was still a pretty view while we waited.

Gullfoss

The drive to Gullfoss from Geysir only took about 10 minutes, and we didn’t know what to expect since we hadn’t seen pictures beforehand. Gullfoss (“golden waterfall”) is Iceland’s most famous, and we could see why. Along with everything else we saw in the land of fire and ice, it was difficult to believe that what our eyes were seeing was real.

Gulfoss.

Another rainbow/waterfall combination at Gulfoss.

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Seljavallalaug

Weather in Iceland is very unpredictable and changes quickly, just like the scenery. We got lucky and had pretty much clear skies the entire time we were there, but the day before we arrived was extremely stormy, we heard. As we were driving back from the Golden Circle, where Gulfoss and Geysir were located, we saw dark clouds and rainstorms near the coast, which is where we were heading to get in the geothermal pool. Jeremy and I went back and forth on deciding if we should make the drive to the location (it was an hour out of the way), but ultimately decided to risk it. For me, this was the best decision of the trip. I’m not a huge risk-taker in life (except when it comes to dropping everything and buying a one-way ticket to Europe, apparently), and normally I would play it safe. We didn’t know exactly where the pool was, we knew it required about 20 minutes of hiking, and we had no idea what to expect when we got there, or if we would even find it. The weather cooperated and stayed beautiful, we found the parking area, and headed out on foot with our bathing suits.

The hike did require a lot of jumping on rocks and climbing up hills, but it was easier to find than we were expecting. When we finally arrived, I was so, so happy that we decided to make the journey. There were a few other people there, and there was a structure where you could change (which apparently was just a sheep shed). The experience in the pool is one of the best things I’ve ever done, for sure.

When we first got in, it wasn’t quite as warm as we thought it would be, but enjoyed it anyway. One of the other people in the pool came over and introduced himself and let us know that the reason everyone was in the opposite corner of the pool was because that’s where the pipe that the hot water was coming out of was located. We joined the others, and were relieved to feel the VERY hot water pouring in. The people we met were so nice, and all traveling. Only one guy was from Iceland, and he was hitchhiking around the country because he had a few days off from work. It was so fun to be around other travelers and to talk about what we were doing and where we were going, and to hear their stories. They even shared their vodka with us.

Making the journey to the swimming pool, not knowing where we were going or what to expect.

Making the journey to the swimming pool, not knowing where we were going or what to expect.

The magical pool.

The magical pool.

The sheep shed where we got changed into our bathing suits.

The sheep shed where we got changed into our bathing suits.

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The view from inside. I never wanted to leave.

The Northern Lights

Jeremy and I reluctantly got out of the warm geothermal pool and trekked back to the car to make the drive back to our house. We went the same road as we went the first day, when we saw all the horses. Luckily they were still there, and we got out to take more pictures of them.

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When we got home, we made our dinner of a pizza we picked up at the grocery store (turns out we didn’t have an oven so we put it on a pan on the stove and it worked out really well surprisingly), some Icelandic beer for Jeremy, and some red wine for me. Some of the vegetables at the grocery store were really reasonably-priced, but then all of a sudden there would be four tomatoes for $25, or three peppers for $20. Since everything was listed in Icelandic Krona, we were really careful about what we were getting, and probably spent an hour just figuring everything out. We made some great choices though, and only spent about $40 on food for the entire time we were there, not including the alcohol we picked up at the duty-free shop at the airport (which was recommended to us).

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I could live here.

I figured our day couldn’t possibly get any better, but as we were going to bed, Jeremy looked out the window above our bed and noticed the Northern Lights had appeared. I was giving up hope that we would see them, but as soon as he said that, I jumped up, went down the ladder, threw as many layers on as I could, and grabbed my camera and tripod. We ended up staying outside for almost an hour, after discovering how fast the lights were changing. We were SO cold, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to go back inside because every few minutes there was a new scene. It was kind of difficult to figure out how to photograph them since I’m still learning about my camera, but I was able to get a few good ones with some long exposures.

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Reykjavik 

It was very hard to say goodbye to our little perfect cabin, but alas, it was time to return to civilization. As a side note, Icelandic folklore is so incredibly interesting, and we found a tiny elf house outside our cottage, which is very common in the country. People put these little houses outside for elves to live in, and Jeremy and I read that sometimes you even see tiny churches meant to convert the elves to Christianity. We saw many elf houses on our travels, and loved every one of them.

The tiny elf house we found outside the cabin.

The tiny elf house we found outside the cabin.

We decided to head to Reykjavik before getting to our Airbnb in Keflavik near the airport, since we hadn’t spent any time there yet. The city was really nice, clean, and beautiful. We walked around a bit on the main shopping street, and started our quest to find the famous hot dog stand we’d read so much about. We finally found it after asking three different people for directions (Icelanders give interesting directions, we discovered: “take a right and then go a bit, and then take a left and then another right,” with no street names or any more details). The hot dog was made of lamb and had crispy onions and honey mustard on it, along with other spreads we couldn’t identify. It was delicious.

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Who knew Iceland would be known for its hot dogs?

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Waiting in line at the hot dog stand.

Reykjavik has a lot of Norwegian design stores, and beautiful street art.

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We stayed at a tiny, tiny cottage in the back of someone’s house near the airport, and had to be up at 4am the next morning to return our car and catch our flight to London. We were so sad to leave Iceland, and hope to go back to that magical place someday in the future.

 

*Another side note: It’s probably obvious, but I’m not running the Cork Marathon on June 2 anymore… With my knee issues derailing my training early on and not being able to run as much as I was expecting the past month, AND the fact that my parents told me they can’t make it to Ireland that week anymore, I’ve decided not to do it. I downgraded to the half just in case, but it is looking like Jeremy and I will be in Honfleur, France with my parents that week, and getting to Ireland is too difficult. I can’t wait until I run a full marathon, and I know that there will be a better time in the future where I can “respect the distance” instead of rushing it.

 

And So It Begins

Now we’ve gone and done it… we’ve left for our trip! Even though we have technically been traveling for the past week, I knew it wasn’t going to feel real until we actually left for New York (although honestly it still doesn’t really). We got to see some really great friends the past week, and it was so nice to be able to spend time with friends we don’t get to see as often as we’d like (why can’t Georgia and California be a short drive away from each other?). 

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My lunch at a restaurant in Athens, Georgia called Home.made. It was delicious. Michael Stipe happened to be sitting at the table next to us too.

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I ran on the treadmill at our hotel because the weather was bad in Athens… I am really liking the shirt I got from the San Diego Half Marathon.

On Tuesday, Jeremy and I drove down to Columbus to visit with his parents for a couple days and do a bunch of last minute errands. We ended up being really unhappy with the luggage we purchased at Macy’s before we left (it wouldn’t stand up on its own and they were so incredibly heavy, and the wheels wouldn’t really roll), so we returned them… two days before leaving. We ended up getting some IT Luggage at Marshall’s and we’re really pleased with them so far. I also took out about a quarter of the clothes I brought and left them in Georgia, which I’m really glad I did. It’s so much better to have less stuff to carry. I managed to get a six-mile run in, and it felt SO GOOD. It’s been hard not having a routine and making exercise a priority, but I knew it would be a challenge to keep up running while we’re traveling, so hopefully it’ll become more of a habit soon. Plus it’s been good to give my knee lots of rest.

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Pretty trees on my run in Columbus, Georgia.

Jeremy’s parents drove us to Atlanta yesterday (that is insane that it was only yesterday), and we spent the day with one of my best friends, Nicole, walking around her neighborhood and eating delicious food. She took us to the airport this morning incredibly early (after Jeremy and I only got 2-3 hours of sleep), and I’m so grateful for it! 

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Nicole’s dog, Townes, insisted on getting in the creek.

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Jeremy found a rope swing.

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Dinner at Raging Burrito in Decatur.

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Here we go!

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Me and Nicole at the buttcrack of dawn.

Jeremy and I arrived in NYC at around 10:30 this morning, and we have already had quite the full day. We made it to our Airbnb in Greenpoint, Brooklyn around 11:30 and dropped our luggage off, then went in search of some much needed food. We ended up walking to Williamsburg and getting a vegan falafel sandwich for $3, and it was seriously delicious. After fueling up, we embarked on a loooong walk to Dumbo (“down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass”), and saw some really nice views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and Manhattan. We then walked to midpoint of the Brooklyn Bridge and then turned around. We debated taking a cab or subway back, but we wanted to explore all the different areas we would pass through, so we ended up walking back. All in all, we walked around ten miles today (in not very supportive shoes). Needless to say, we are exhausted, especially after so little sleep, so we’re resting in the apartment for another hour, when we’re meeting our friend from Athens for dinner. It’s supposed to snow on Tuesday (we were not prepared for this and don’t have coats, it’s Spring damn it), and I need to find some kind of jacket tomorrow to wear. It looks like it’ll be snowing a lot in Iceland when we’re there next week too. Whoops.

Here are some pictures I took today on our excursion:

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Jeremy in Greenpoint.

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Somewhere in Williamsburg.

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The $3 falafel sandwich that saved our lives.

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Nice view of the Manhattan Bridge from Dumbo.

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Another view.

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The Brooklyn Bridge sure is pretty.

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Cheesin’ on the Bridge.

Tomorrow, our first order of business is trying to find the best bagels in Brooklyn (I’ve only been talking about NYC bagels to Jeremy for five years, no big deal), then hopefully walking to Prospect Park, if our legs will allow it. We have to move our stuff to our Airbnb on the Lower East Side in Manhattan tomorrow around noon, and I can’t wait to start exploring that whole area. 

Hope everyone has been having a great week and weekend, and if there’s anything you think we should do or eat while we’re here, please tell me!!

 

A Whirlwind Week

Hello from Athens, Georgia! It has officially been a week since we left California, and what a week it has been. We left San Diego early Monday morning of last week (with four new tires after getting a flat as soon as we arrived in SD), and made it to El Paso, Texas that night for dinner.

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Not exactly what you like to see at the beginning of a big road trip.

We took off early in the morning Tuesday from El Paso and headed to New Orleans. We drove through the widest part of Texas, which I’ve done many, many times, and it always drags on for a looong time. We finally pulled into New Orleans around 1am, and went straight to sleep at my friend Liz’s apartment.

New Orleans

As soon as we got up in the morning, Liz took us down to the French Quarter to get beignets and coffee at Cafe du Mond. The lines were crazy long (as I was expecting), so instead of waiting for a table we sat and ate by the water and got powdered sugar everywhere.

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About to enjoy our beignets and chicory coffee.

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Me and Liz, one of my dearest friends.

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Beignet.

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I know for next time not to wear black pants when eating beignets.

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When we were done, we headed back to the French Quarter and walked through the market while enjoying some mimosas.

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Cocktails to go.

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Definitely felt weird drinking outside of bars.

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Liz and Jeremy enjoying some oysters.

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The most gigantic oyster I’ve ever seen.

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Walking around the French Quarter.

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Later that night, we went to dinner at a restaurant called Cochon, which is really well known and it was delicious. We ate fried alligator, more oysters, shrimp dressing, and lots more dishes.

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Oysters and fried alligator at Cochon.

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Liz and her boyfriend, Alain.

Liz works for a French folk artist, and we visited the workshop the next day. Since it was such nice weather, afterward we picked up some boiled crawfish and ate it by the levee.

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Liz at work.

Picking up fresh boiled crawfish.

Picking up fresh boiled crawfish.

We ate a crawfish pie while we waited... it was delicious.

We ate a crawfish pie while we waited… it was delicious.

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Liz teaching us the proper way to eat a crawfish. First step: break the head off.

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The levee.

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Very concentrated eating.

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My first crawfish.

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Jeremy sucking juices out of the head. I did not partake in this step.

That night, we went to a restaurant near Liz’s apartment and had some wine, some frog legs, and lots more delicious food.

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Frog leg action shot.

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It was really hard to leave after having such a good time. Liz and I met our freshman year of college at UGA, and have been really close ever since. We lived together for four years in Athens and have experienced a lot together. I hate that we live so far away from each other. But alas, we were on to Charleston the next morning.

Charleston

The drive was supposed to take 12-13 hours, but thanks to a crazy accident in Atlanta, ended up taking closer to 16. It was a really long day. When we got to Charleston, our friends had set up a bonfire in their backyard and we hung out a bit before going to sleep. The next day, we got up and our friend Matt took us to the oldest tree east of the Mississippi.

Angel Oak.

Angel Oak.

Then we rented some bicycles and rode them to Folly Beach. The weather was a little dismal and cool, but it was perfect for us. And because of it, there weren’t many people on the beach at all. We pretty much felt like a bad-ass bike gang, and we even had a stereo playing some music.

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Pretty Charleston.

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For dinner, Matt (who used to be a cook at Husk in Charleston, one of the best restaurants in the country) cooked us shrimp and grits, and it was amazing.

Shrimp and grits.

Shrimp and grits.

After dinner, we went downtown and went to this crazy awesome drag show. Who knew Charleston would have such a good one??

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Front row seats for the drag show.

IMG_3105We are having such a good time, eating delicious food, and seeing so many old friends. It has pretty much been the best week ever. We’re seeing more friends tonight in Athens, then heading to Columbus tomorrow to spend some time with Jeremy’s family.

I have been without internet I feel like forever, so I’m missing a lot in the blog world. What has everyone been up to??

I’ll Miss You, Santa Barbara

Since I’ve been sitting in the car for awhile now and we still have another 12 hours or so until we roll into New Orleans, I figured I’d dump some photos I took during my last few days in Santa Barbara. My hometown is a special place, and I am never able to stay away for too long. Growing up there, I had no idea how beautiful it was until I moved away to Georgia for college. The South has its own special charm and I love it, but California will
always pull me back. Not to mention my whole family lives there, which is obviously a huge part of it.

When I moved back to California a few years ago, I had gained a considerable amount of weight during my time
in GA (I blame macaroni and cheese and fried chicken), and within a few months of being back I had changed my eating habits and added a ton of exercise into my life, and not even really on purpose. There’s just something about being in SB and the fact that the weather is perfect year round and everyone is outside getting physical activity… It’s contagious, really.

A couple years later, Jeremy and I both found ourselves considerably lighter (I lost about 35 pounds and Jeremy lost 50), and our lives were filled with fresh produce, home-cooked meals and clean eating. It’s just so easy to live like that there.

It’s also just flat out beautiful. Pacific Ocean on one side, and mountains to hike a couple miles away.

I’m so excited for our travels and at the same time I’m excited to return to SB. We most likely won’t live there permanently again (until we’re older and rich and can buy a beach house), but we’ll at least be driving distance away. Jeremy and I spent our last few days last week enjoying sunrise at the beach, hiking our favorite trail, and I ran my favorite path two last times. I meant to take pictures of all my favorite spots around town, but alas as it often happens, we planned on doing many things we didn’t end up having time for.

Here are some pictures:

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Jeremy standing in front of the house where we got married.

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