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While I lived in London several years ago, I used to go to Borough market at least once or twice a week, as it was just a short walk from my flat off of Bermondsey street. I had my favorite vendors of course, but what I enjoyed most was wandering all around while sipping my Monmouth coffee and taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of the market, ideally before the hordes of tourists arrived and often after a long run along the Thames. It’s is one of the things about London that I miss the most, aside from all my favorite running routes along the river and in the parks. I like the Union Square Greenmarket, but it lacks the character, history and culinary diversity found in Borough Market.

It was a huge treat to find myself back in Borough market after a three year hiatus during my recent trip to Europe over the holidays. After a few days in Amsterdam and before heading to Paris, E and I spent a lovely, nostalgic week in London wandering everywhere and visiting all our old (mostly food-related) haunts. Whoever says London doesn’t have good food clearly doesn’t know where to go! Just a few of my favorites – pretty much any vendor in Borough Market, St. John’s Bread and Wine (best bread EVER + extremely English fare, Spitalfields), La Boca Dilupo (awesome Italian, Picadilly), The Garrison (cozy gastro pub on Bermondsey St, London Bridge), The Providores (great, casual tapas on ground floor, Marylebone High St), Metro Pizza (meter long insanely delicious pizza, Notting Hill and Battersea)…and SO many more.

Pizza shark, Metro Pizza (London) St John's Bread & Wine The Garrison

Borough market was beautifully renovated since I last visited. It felt great to be back, despite the pouring rain, especially because we were STARVING! We were staying in a hotel down the street (part of the nostalgia tour required staying in our old ‘hood, obviously) and had just finished a 90-minute hot yoga class at our old yoga studio near London Bridge.

Borough Market reunion Heavenly chorizo sandwich papardelle with tomatoes and mushrooms 

First stop was caffeine – my Monmouth cappuccino was delicious and as always, worth the long wait in line (rain never deters Monmouth coffee drinkers). Directly across from Monmouth is Brindisa, where we devoured a double chorizo sandwich with roasted red pepper and rocket (E was upset that I made us share one…but hey, we had a lot more food ahead of us). My favorite pasta vendor, La Tua Pasta, moved to a permanent covered location near the ostrich/rare meat vendor, around the corner from Brindisa. I used to buy their chestnut pappardelle every week to cook with roasted tomatoes, shitake mushrooms and white truffle oil (great pre-long run dinner), but since we didn’t have a kitchen, we got their cooked pumpkin tortelloni to eat there (delicious). We visited the Comte cheese stand (my favorite cheese of all time) and bought a big chunk to eat later on. The Tomato Stall was still there – their oak roasted tomatoes are like crack, SO good in pastas or paired with cheese. We got the garlic version to have with our cheese. Dessert was a Portuguese egg custard tart. I think we must have dropped 50 quid in less than 20 minutes (not to mention the calories ingested). It certainly is a pricey/dangerous market!

The Tomato Stall, Borough Market Portuguese egg custard tarts granola

One of our splurges was a massive bag of ginger granola by Mini Magoo. They have tons of different flavors and products (mostly low sugar/oil); this one is nice as its lightly sweetened, nice and crunchy with various seeds, tiny specs of ginger, whole almonds and dried coconut flakes. I love it in greek yogurt or with almond milk.

We somehow managed to resist opening the bag for the rest of our trip and brought it home to enjoy. Sadly, we just finished it and I wanted to see if I could create my own variation based on their ingredient list. I used maple syrup instead of agave, left out the whole almonds and coconut flakes, added a touch of coconut oil, added cinnamon and vanilla, and crystallized ginger chopped into the smallest pieces I could manage (I would love to know how they get their ginger pieces so tiny and crunchy, as mine were chewy and bigger).

Ginger coconut granola crunch crunch crunch close up

It tastes different but turned out great – crunchy, slightly sweetened, and full of whole grains, fiber, and healthy fats. It’s also gluten free and vegan (in case you care). I love it by itself, mixed with yogurt and fruit (+ almond butter, as I add that to everything), or simply with milk. The nice part about this recipe is that it’s extremely easy to make and can be adjusted to what you like – substitute different nuts/seeds, use different spices, substitute ginger for dried cranberries etc. I’m sure it would also work without the oil or with different sweeteners.

Oh and in case you’re wondering, we helped offset our two and a half weeks of complete gluttony with an average of 5-10 miles per day of walking to see the city sights plus 3-4 beautiful (COLD) runs around Amsterdam/London/Paris per week…THAT is how we do Europe! (I know – I’m a dietitian – but hey, we need vacations and love to enjoy our food too!)

Ginger coconut granola


3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp coconut oil (In its liquid form)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/8 cup sunflower seeds
1/8 cup flax seeds
Pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger


1. Preheat oven 325
2. Whisk together maple syrup, salt and coconut oil in small bowl
3. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl
4. Pour wet into dry mixture and mix together so that it is evenly distributed
5. Spread mixture onto parchment lined cookie sheet (or use foil brushed lightly w/ oil)
6. Bake for 15 min, stir mixture, then bake for 2-3 10 minute intervals in between stirring until oats are crunchy (mine took a total cook time of ~45 minutes)
7. Remove from oven and let cool completely
8. Store in an airtight container

(Click here for printer friendly recipe)

To finish things off, a few more photos of our adventures in Europe!

Steaming hot pretzel in an Amsterdam night market  Pigeon graffiti, Amsterdam (?!)

Amsterdam  Beautiful Tower Bridge in all its glory Run!! East London  Chelsea Potter pub (where I met E)

Banana nutella crepe, Ile St Louis  The Mont Blanc at Angelina's in Paris

Le Penseur Playing with statues in Paris

Giant Lindor truffle Local memorial in residential Paris

I returned late last night from my shortest trip to London yet. I spent two and a half days visiting E from NYC and it was worth every hour of travel (26, to be exact) to spend that time together. I had to blow off studying for a couple days and I’m paying for it now, but I had a great time.

I was actually a bit surprised by how great it felt to be back in London! I enjoyed myself during my last trip in November and it was really sad saying goodbye, but the decision to leave had been made long ago and I was eager to move forward. This time, however, I didn’t really want to leave – it was an escape from reality as well as from the abrasiveness of NYC, and obviously it was wonderful to see E. I nearly got my wish when a snowstorm hit London on Saturday night and shut down Heathrow, disrupting service right up until a few hours before my flight took off at 8pm! Mixed feelings on that one, but I suppose it’s best NOT to be stuck somewhere and miss classes today…

I arrived early Friday morning, a bit of a mess from my crazy week plus the redeye flight, but incredibly excited to see E. The flight – my first time flying with Virgin Atlantic – was practically empty and getting to E’s flat went very smoothly. It took 13 hours door to door, using public transportation on both ends – not too bad! London seemed so calm, particulalry E’s flat which is ironic given that I always used to complain about the noise (he lives near a busy street). Everything is quiet compared to NYC, I guess! I forgot just how chilled out London is by comparison – more parks, less noise, not as claustrophobic. I miss it.


We headed to Borough Market for some Monmouth coffee (I brought home three bags – very exciting) and some of my favorite goodies, including Comte cheese (the best!), oak roasted tomatoes (SO amazing – like sun blushed but WAY better) and homemade ginger granola. I always love going back to Borough Market – it’s comforting to see all the same vendors, some of whom recognize me from my years of weekly visits.


We relaxed for most of the day – it was FREEZING out and I was very jet lagged – but we had a nice meal at The Garrison, one of our favorite local gastropubs. I wasn’t over the moon about what I ordered, but the atmosphere was awesome as usual – very cozy and bustling.

Saturday morning we headed out to the river for a 9M run. It was peaceful and relatively nice weather, although a bit chilly. E has become so much faster in the last year or so – I really am impressed. I had to tell HIM to slow down at times (well, mainly because I was trying to do a steady, easy run and he kept surging every mile or so, but still). My legs definitely feel SO much better after this past week – I’m glad I took three full rest days and only ran 23 miles.

Our run was followed by coffee with a friend and then an early dinner at one of my favorite London restaurants – Boca di Lupo. We sat at the chef’s counter, which is always my favorite place to sit (I love watching the chefs). However, this time was a bit different. Ever since my Food Safety lecture in Intro to Food & Food Science, I have become VERY aware of all the things that should and should not be done in restaurant kitchens. I couldn’t help but watch the chefs – particularly the grill – with a very critical eye and analyze the death out of what they were doing. I was cringing as I saw about twenty different examples of cross contamination, among other things, and of course I couldn’t shut up about it. E was ready to kill me!! But our food was delicious as always – malfatti with ricotta and spinach; celeriac, radish and pomegranate salad with parmesan shavings and truffle vinaigrette; and profiteroles with hazelnut, chestnut and pistachio gelati and chocolate sauce (pictured below). We also got an amazing sausage dish, a veal chop and a lovely carafe of red wine. I can’t tell you how much of a treat this was – I haven’t been out to eat much these past few weeks and really missed it!


During dinner, it suddenly started to snow! We were so surprised. We had planned to meet some friends across town at a pub after dinner – by the time we got there it was a full on snow storm, which is pretty unusual for London. I apparently bring winter wherever I go – first NYC and then London! At least we were nice and cozy inside the pub with our pear ciders, and it was awesome catching up with my London “framily.”



E and I had to walk 15 minutes to get back to the flat. We were soaked by the time we got home. I was also a bit stressed out that so many flights were being cancelled, including the Virgin flight to Newark right before mine. However, I couldn’t do anything about it, so I just tried to focus on having fun. Got some great shots during the walk back – and yes there wasn’t THAT much snow, but London shuts down even after a dusting! Ridiculous.


We slept in Sunday morning and had a fabulous lunch at Zucca, another local favorite on Bermondsey street. I forgot how great my old neighborhood is! I packed up and checked my flight status – on time! What a relief. E of course was bummed out – apparently he had been conspiring with the weather to keep me in London!

E accompanied me to Heathrow which was very sweet. Saying goodbye was tough as always, but he’s running the NYC half in mid-March so we’ll be seeing each other again soon. Meeting up every month or so until he is able to move to NYC (by this summer, we hope) is doable.

The airport was mayhem and I had a bad experience at the Virgin check in counter (never have I heard of a 6kg weight limit for carry ons – stupid) but the flight went smoothly and I even had a free seat next to me.

It’s going to be a very busy week trying to catch up with school and get back into a more intensive training schedule, but hopefully my lovely weekend in London will provide me with plenty of inspiration to get through it! At least it’s sunny in NYC…

As I update the remaining 2011-related sections of this blog and officially shift into my new NYU grad student existence, I am finally facing the reality that my “travel plans” widget is about to become, and will most likely remain, depressingly empty for awhile. This post is a quick reminder to myself before I delete the old and bring in the new that I’ve been very fortunate in terms of my opportunities to travel the world, particularly during my South America backpacking trip in 2006-7 (I’ve included a few shots from that trip below, for fun) and my shorter, more recent adventures throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East from London.


My ability to travel relatively frequently and easily was one of the best parts about living in London. I would’ve been crazy not to have taken advantage of such an amazing travel base. I had five weeks of vacation plus bank holidays, and there were TONS of awesome, incredibly different destinations only a short train or plane ride away. Sometimes the journey was a bit longer – to South Africa, for instance – but not nearly as bad as it would’ve been from the US!

Obviously, these trips weren’t always cheap, particularly in my last couple of years out there. However, I love to travel and made it a priority, knowing that my years in London were limited and it would be a lot more expensive and time consuming from the US. Instead of buying unnecessary clothing or overpriced drinks, for instance, I would put whatever money I had left after living expenses and savings towards travel. If I planned far enough in advance, flew with carriers like EasyJet and/or traveled during the off-season, I was usually able to find some reasonably priced tickets, especially within Europe.

I’d try to find good value hotels (with the occasional splurge, given that these trips were often only two nights and I had a travel companion) and then would offset nicer meals and expenses like late night cabs with using public transportation or walking during the day and eating lunch at a farmer’s market (or secretly making sandwiches at the gigantic breakfast buffet – yes, I confess to doing this without shame!). I of course always brought my running shoes – best way to explore a new place, in most cases, while squeezing in some exercise.

So, where did I go while I lived in London, aside from the 2-3 trips per year I made back to the US? In 2008 and the first half of 2009, my travel focused more heavily on weddings, reunions and other family events back home, although I managed to visit Madrid, Edinburgh, Sicily, and South Africa, as well as a number of places throughout England.

From the summer of 2009 onwards, I started to travel like a madwoman! I spent the second half of 2009 seeing Barcelona, Copenhagen, Paris, Istanbul, Amsterdam and Lebanon, twice (Beirut is amazing – that’s actually where I spent NYE), in addition to another extended trip back home to CA. Must include a few random photos, obviously!



In 2010, my free time was dominated by marathon training – plus I was in CA twice for weddings/family time – but I still made it to Paris (for the marathon), southern Spain, Italy (Trieste and Venice), Dublin, Stockholm, Berlin, NYC (for the marathon) and more long weekends across the UK.


This past year was pretty epic, with London as my travel base from Jan – Aug and Santa Cruz/San Francisco, CA as my base from Sept – Dec. It makes me sad that I have to delete the following entries from my “2011 Travel Plans” list, knowing I have hardly anything to include for 2012 (related blog links below):

Zanzibar (Jan/Feb); Marrakech, Morocco (March); Northern/Central Vietnam (April/May); Oslo, Norway (May); Lake District, UK (June); Amalfi Coast, Italy (June); Reykjavik, Iceland (Aug); Santa Cruz, CA (moved back Aug 30th); Big Sur (Sept); Portland (Oct); NYC (Nov); London (Nov); New Hampshire/Boston (Nov); San Antonio (Dec); and Los Angeles (Dec).


I’m in the process of making a 2011 photo book. E and I had our share of travel disasters, but for the most part the hundreds of photos that we took are bringing back some wonderful memories.

As for 2012, my new travel list will include the following on January 1st:

NYC (Jan 14th…until I graduate many many years later)

Okay, that’s a (slight) exaggeration. I do have a trip or two in the works for 2012, including a long weekend in Rome for a friend’s June wedding (thank you frequent flyer miles) and, hopefully, a long weekend in Chicago to run the marathon. That’s probably all I can handle, though. Quitting my job in August, facing insane tuition and living costs in NYC, having little time to spare in between year-round school, volunteer work and part-time work, and no longer living in such a lovely travel base means very little travel for me in the coming years! Not that I have a right to complain after being so spoiled…

For the last three years, I’ve spent Christmas in the UK. Whether I was alone or with friends and loved ones, I always enjoyed the peacefulness in London. Everything (except for the occasional local corner shop or pub) would shut down from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day – even public transport was closed. It was pretty special to go out into the deserted streets and see such a bustling city suddenly grind to a halt.

Last year, E and I took advantage of the quiet streets and the new Barclays bike scheme during our four days off of work. We cycled all over town, in between cooking delicious meals, watching movies, creating this blog (FFR is almost one-year old!), plotting our 2011 travels and relaxing in our cozy flat. Just another Jewish Christmas in London!

Even though I don’t celebrate Christmas, I still associate the holiday with spending time with my family and thus am very grateful to be in Santa Cruz this year. I certainly couldn’t see a sunset like this in London on Christmas Eve!

This is one of my favorite spots since I was young – the cliffs near my parent’s house overlooking my favorite beach, which is where I often run and go for walks. My Mom and I hung out on a bench for a long time, chatting and taking in these incredible views of the Santa Cruz bay. I had already done my long run for the holiday weekend – 12M to Top of Incline in Nisene Marks (around 1,500ft elevation gain) with two fabulous new running buddies who I met through the Santa Cruz Running club – so it felt nice to sit and relax for awhile, knowing that my hard work was done!

As you probably know, the typical Jewish Christmas often involves Chinese food and movies. This year, however, our day is a bit different. We already saw several movies recently, including The Artist (which was amazing) and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (which I also loved), so we’re taking today off. Instead of Chinese food, I made us a delicious and healthy brunch including veggie omelets and fruit salad, and we are going to a friend’s house in the early evening for a small Hanukkah dinner celebration, including homemade latkes! Yum.

We are sticking to one family tradition, however. Christmas Day in California wouldn’t be complete, to me at least, without a long walk together on the beach. The weather has been crisp but sunny here for most of this month, and it would be a crime not to get outside and enjoy it. My days of warm sunshine and beautiful beaches are limited!

I miss my wonderful London family of friends I made during my years living there. Most of all, obviously, I miss E – he is in London right now enjoying that peace and quiet I mentioned above. Thankfully, I just found out that he planned a last-minute trip to visit me in California for New Year’s! All those beach photos must have made him jealous. 🙂 He is all mine for a week and I am beyond excited! Best Hanukkah gift ever.

And now, it’s time to head down to the beach with my parents. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to you all!

Photo by Eddie Jacob taken from Real Women Run by Sam Murphy, published by Kyle Books

While I lived in London, I was fortunate enough to discover UK-based running coach and author, Sam Murphy. We met for an initial consultation back in December 2009 and I knew immediately that she would be a great person to guide me through my first marathon in Paris. Chemistry is really important when choosing a coach, and my gut told me we would work very well together.

Her coaching style as well as her patience and support leading up to race day encouraged me to train with her for the NYC marathon too. I had an ambitious goal – to qualify for Boston – and I trusted her to help me achieve it. And I did! Experiencing the benefits of coaching was what motivated me to become a running coach myself this past October through RRCA’s certification program.

I admire Sam’s expertise and the wide variety of things she does in her career. I have also enjoyed watching her success grow since we met. She coaches, leads workshops and a running group, writes regularly in publications such as Runner’s World, The Financial Times and many more, has written seven books and is breaking into the barefoot running scene (she coached me on barefoot technique this past November, and I bought a pair of Vivo’s from her and her husband’s latest venture, a minimalist shoe company). She certainly was successful when I met her, but she seems particularly busy these days!

Although I have chosen the field of Nutrition as my primary path, I plan to develop my own coaching career over time. I feel it’s important to have role models as I gain experience and try to figure out what I want to achieve. It’s great that I can look to Sam for inspiration, and hopefully I will meet other coaches I admire in NYC too!

Anyway, I’ll get to the point of this post. Last summer, Sam asked me to contribute to her next book, called “Real Women Run,” which will be published in late March 2012. I was very honored and obviously said yes! I enjoyed writing my short “running story” (which I will share on this blog once the book is published) and modeling at the subsequent photo shoot in Southeast London.

We needed to take two photos to accompany my “story” – one standing still (pictured above) and one action shot (pictured below)- but I ended up staying a bit longer to model for other chapters of the book (hill running, for example). It was exhausting, since I basically did a mini hill repeat session on top of my morning interval workout, but I had a great time!

I’m excited to finally post some of these photos on FFR! I believe these four will appear in the final version of the book. I saw part of the draft a couple months ago, and it looked great. I can’t wait to receive my copy!

A big thank you to Vicky Orchard for emailing these to me, Eddie Jacob for his photography skills and of course to Sam for inviting me to be a part of her upcoming book!

Stay tuned for more info on where to get the book if you’re interested, as well as the text from my contribution. In the meantime, enjoy!

Photo by Eddie Jacob taken from Real Women Run by Sam Murphy, published by Kyle Books

Photo by Eddie Jacob taken from Real Women Run by Sam Murphy, published by Kyle Books

Photo by Eddie Jacob taken from Real Women Run by Sam Murphy, published by Kyle Books

Hello from London!

I have been back in the UK for a full week now and have been meaning to write for days, so clearly the craziness of my NYC trip has followed me across the pond! In between organizing my things, I’ve been catching up with friends and visiting some of my favorite places before I officially move back to the US.

I love the Fall, particularly on the East Coast and in the UK, so I have been trying to make the most of the lovely crisp weather these past few weeks before it slips away. London hasn’t been *quite* as sunny as NYC – in fact it has mostly been foggy, dark and damp – but that means when the sun does shine it’s particularly glorious and far more appreciated. I’m beginning to wonder how I managed to convince myself for four years that the weather wasn’t actually that bad here!

After several dreary days, the sun finally emerged just in time for my 12 mile run in Richmond Park on Saturday. I finally tried out my new Nike running top, which was my one splurge in Portland after the marathon. The colors and the cut got me to try it on, but the two pockets in the back (and Portland’s amazing no sales tax!) convinced me to buy it. The pockets are like those on a cycling top  – they don’t have zippers, but they’re deep enough to fit gels, snacks or whatever else! Check it out:

I put a gel in one pocket to have during my run and one of my homemade pumpkin muffins (cut in half and wrapped up) in the other pocket so I could have a healthy treat after finishing. It was very comfortable – this top might just become my next marathon tank if I can cram enough gels in the back and ditch my usual gel belt!

E and I decided to head to Richmond Park – I love doing my long runs there and the hilly trails were perfect for my North Face half marathon training, at least compared to running along the Thames. We got a late start – 11am or so – but it was still quite peaceful and the scenery was beautiful.

Let’s do this!

E kept me company for the first 7M loop and then waited for me at a coffee shop. Turns out he ran his second marathon without telling me (or as one of my friends called it, a SNEAKATHON) in Switzerland while I was in NYC!! He was afraid I would put my coaching hat on and lecture him that he wasn’t fully prepared for it (because he wasn’t), but he did quite well, especially considering the challenging course profile and the fact that it was far above sea level. I am very proud of him! He felt fairly recovered but was only just starting to ease back into longer runs.

It’s a good thing we both ran that morning, beacuse later in the day we headed over to our friend’s place for a pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving feast! Last year, I celebrated the holiday in the UK with my group of US expat friends, and we had such a good time that we had “Thanksgiving” in July too. Since E and I will be in New Hampshire this year and this is my last London visit for awhile, we thought it would be fun to have one last group dinner together. There was, as you can imagine, tons of amazing food. I made a goats cheese and beet salad as well as a huge bowl of sweet potato, pumpkin and carrot ginger mash, pictured below. I could eat it for dessert it was so tasty!

The next morning we were still so full we could hardly move, but we had Sunday lunch plans up in Hampstead so we hopped out of bed and made our way up north. It was a perfect Fall day – so mild that we were able to eat outside on the pub’s patio and enjoy some cold pear cider. I got the venison – yum!


It was a rest day for me but after all that food I was craving a nice long walk in the sunshine. One of the things I love most about London is just how green a city it is – there are so many beautiful parks, both manicured (like Regents Park) and a bit more rustic and wild (like Richmond and Hampstead Heath). The Heath in particular is lovely – you really feel like you have escaped the city, as you are pretty much up on a hill looking down on it in the distance and there are no cars in sight. I wish I had explored it more often while I lived here – the terrain is quite hilly so I will perhaps aim do my 14M run there this Friday!


Between the parks and the river, there are so many great running paths in this town. Speaking of which, I have a race pace run to do – off I go to my local park!

I woke up at 5am California time this morning, despite having forced myself to stay up late last night. This is in contrast to the night before last, when I crashed hard for 13 hours after an extremely long travel day from London to Santa Cruz via Chicago. Ah, the joys of jet lag!

I felt like a complete wreck yesterday morning – exhausted, splitting headache, completely paralyzed. It was 11am when I woke up – I had assumed I’d be up bright and early due to the eight hour time difference, but alas, my body was finally feeling the effects of sleep deprivation and stress from my last few weeks in London.

Several years ago, there’s no way I would’ve dragged myself to the gym or out the door for a run in this state. However, since I started training for races on a more regular basis, I’ve found that running (or exercise, generally) is the key to lessening the effects of jet lag and getting my energy levels back on track as quickly as possible. I also don’t have much of a choice if I’m in the middle of a training cycle, unless I want to fall behind!

So, what are the symptoms of jet lag and what’s the best way to overcome them when you’re training for an event, travelling to a destination race, or simply maintaining your running routine??

According to this article from Run the Planet, symptoms include “fatigue, disorientation, insomnia, loss of appetite, stomach distress, prolonged reaction time, decreased short term memory, decreased concentration, reduction in anaerobic power and capacity, higher injury rates, and reduced dynamic strength.” Much of how you deal with these symptoms involves common sense – stay well hydrated, eat light healthy meals, try to get sufficient rest prior to your trip (I clearly failed on that one), etc.

In terms of exercising, if my flight isn’t obscenely early, I try to run the day I travel so that I feel better about sitting down for so many hours. I also try to run the day after I arrive, particularly if I wasn’t able to run on my travel day, which apparently is what many athletes do as well. Don’t expect to give your best performance, but personally, I always feel infinitely better afterwards. Just make sure you pay close attention to how your body feels, differentiating between simply being tired and more worrisome fatigue/aches/pains. If you truly feel too tired to run, then perhaps go for a walk instead, and try to get a good night’s sleep so that you can return to your schedule the following day.

Normally, I start to feel normal again within a few days, although I do notice it can take a day or so longer when I travel East. When planning a destination race, think back to prior trips and try to figure out what your body requires, allowing at least a few days to adjust before the event, as well as a few days to recover afterwards if possible. And don’t underestimate small jumps, such as West to East coast – obviously everyone is different, and many of you may not suffer much from jet lag, but when I DO run Boston (I will, someday), I will definitely allow enough of a buffer so that I don’t struggle on race morning!

Given that I’m already VERY behind in my Portland marathon training with only five and a half weeks left until race day, it’s particularly crucial that I don’t let jet lag and other logistics interfere too much with my planned sessions. This isn’t so much so that I can run a good time, but rather, so I can simply finish without hurting myself! In many ways, it feels like a race to the start line, as much as it is to the finish…

So, after a good breakfast and a couple hours to clear my head (kind of), I headed out the door for my threshold interval run. I won’t lie – it was not fun at all – my legs felt like lead, my head was still pounding, and mentally I was mostly just going through the motions, rather than enjoying the challenge as I normally do. However, I managed to complete the session and afterwards, I felt like a new person. Headache? Gone. Energy levels? Sky high. Appetite? Okay, still a bit funky (ravenous in the morning, not at all later in the day, which obviously makes sense), but I had to cut my body some slack. It was (is) a bit shell shocked and confused.

As was I, upon walking into an American supermarket for the first time in a year. Well, it was actually a natural food store, but given I’m from Santa Cruz (land of health food stores), it was gigantic, so we can call it a supermarket. I feel like either one of two things happen in this type of situation – you either get so excited after being relatively deprived in the UK (or wherever else) that you buy half the store, or you get so overwhelmed you freak out and run away empty handed. In this case, it was the latter.

I figured some crackers with almond butter and a coconut water would be a healthy post-run snack that my stomach could handle. I wandered the aisles half in awe, half in sensory overload. I went to the nut butter aisle – I blankly stared at the 30 brands of nut butters (in the UK, even in Holland & Barrett, maybe you’d find 5). I tried reading the labels and converting the various prices into GBP, thinking it would help me choose one, and then got fed up and decided to make my own from the almond butter machine that makes it fresh (pretty awesome, although not as creamy). I mean, really, 30 types of nut butters? I’m indecisive even in the best of times.

Then I proceeded to find some crackers. There was an entire cracker aisle. I desperately looked for a brand I recognized from the UK just so that I didn’t have to look at them all – no luck. I abandoned the crackers – almond butter with a spoon it shall be. By this point, I was practically running out the store so I didn’t have to deal with it anymore, but managed to snag one of a handful of brands of coconut water on the way out – literally the first one I could grab. It was large and cheap, relative to what you find in London. Score. I then fumbled with my American coins and bills for several minutes (I nearly forgot what a 5p coin – I mean a nickel – looked like) as the cashier looked at me like I was some freak. I felt like one.

Yeah, running doesn’t really cure the culture shock that often accompanies jet lag, but that will fade in time, too!

And now, it’s time for my second California run – my favorite run of all – on my local beach. Nothing says “I’m home” quite like going for a run on my beach! After running to the end of my street, I hit this path – the smell of the eucalyptus trees always conjures up so many memories:

And then a few minutes later, the path opens up to this view:

When I’ve been away for awhile, I always feel like I’m seeing an old friend for the first time in ages when I reach this point, and the feeling of being home finally sinks in. I can then run in either direction – normally I go north towards Santa Cruz, but here’s a view facing south towards Monterey Bay:

Okay, full disclosure – these are photos from last year’s visit, but it’s currently foggy and cold out and I’m not bringing my camera, so looking at these will help get me out the door!

My head is still pounding and this time I don’t have 13 hours of sleep under my belt, but I’m still excited – and for me, whether I’m returning to somewhere I love, or exploring somewhere new, that excitement always carries me through to the finish.

Today is my last day in London (as a resident, at least) before moving back to California bright and early tomorrow morning (7:55am one-way flight to SFO – through O’Hare – fun). By some miracle, I’m actually pretty much packed and ready to go. Okay, perhaps “ready” isn’t quite the word – I’m still very much in denial and am pretty sure I’ll have a total meltdown on the plane (kinda like going to summer camp as a kid – totally flipped out when I moved to London, and will probably do the same as I leave too) – but tomorrow has been circled in my calendar for quite some time and I simply want to take the leap. It’s a big, scary and somewhat sad leap – but also an incredibly exciting and wonderful one – so let’s do this!

Miracle, however, is the right word, because this used to be what (a small fraction of) my stuff looked like yesterday:

And just a few moments ago, I managed to organize what I don’t need into boxes and fit most of what I do need (before I return in November) into these bags:

Now let’s play a game – what percentage of my suitcases contain running gear?! I don’t actually know the answer, but it’s quite a lot. I’m not as much of a gear whore as E but I’m catching up, quickly. 🙂 And of course, my carry-on bag – which contains my valuables (laptop, jewelry, oboe etc.) – also contains my race day outfit and several gels. I’m such a nerd!

Aside from packing, I’ve been enjoying/lamenting many “London lasts” recently. For instance, my last night in my flat (before temporarily invading E’s space); last day at work (yippee!); last run along the Thames (I will not be missing the tourists); last travel adventure (Iceland); last time seeing various friends (aka my London family); last Borough market visit; last dinner at my local gastropub…the list goes on and on!

But there have also been a few running/exercise-related firsts – or at least firsts in awhile – this past week that I wanted to share. In Iceland, I ran my first destination 10k (I have only raced Mornington Chaser’s 10k series in London over the last two years), so it was fun to spice things up and a nice way to get back into racing after many weeks of injury. I also ran my first long run yesterday (just over 10 miles) since the New Forest 10 miler in early July! I can’t say it was 100% pain-free, but it was a solid run (8:50 average pace) and I was just SO happy to get back out there on a Sunday morning. Of course, what made me even happier was enjoying a big stack of my Triple B pancakes post-run! And today, I had an awesome private swim lesson with an ex-Olympic swimmer – my first private lesson as well as any real attempt to learn to swim properly in about twenty years (back at that summer camp I mentioned earlier…). It was tough to get the technique down – and it was hard not to get frustrated with myself at times for not getting everything right immediately (so much multi-tasking) – but I definitely made tons of progress even within an hour. I have to remind myself that it takes time to get the hang of a new sport, and if I start practicing the drills he gave me on a regular basis in my pool back at home, everything will soon feel more natural, just like with running! I’m excited to learn and swim for exercise (as opposed to splashing around randomly when on vacation, in between sunbathing), and can’t wait to enter my first triathlon.

Now that my bags are packed and I’m ready to go, the saddest part of all has arrived. My last night with E. At least I know I’ll be seeing him in a couple weeks – in California, just before my birthday! It will be his first time in Santa Cruz, and my last time enjoying life as a 20-something…

So goodbye for now, London – it’s been a fun and interesting adventure over the last four years! If it weren’t for my time here, I’m not sure I would’ve re-discovered my passion for running, and for that I am eternally grateful.

And on that note, I’m off to the pub!

In about a month, I’ll be on a one-way flight back to San Francisco, along with as much of my London life that I can possibly squeeze into two huge suitcases.

In three weeks, I’ll be celebrating my final day in the office, capped off with an evening flight to Iceland – the last of my London weekend getaways – to run the Reykjavik Half Marathon.

In two weeks, I’ll be saying goodbye to my wonderful flat, which I’ve lived in for three and a half years (that’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere other than my parent’s house), and my amazing flatmates to (temporarily) move into E’s place a few minutes down the road.  

This weekend, assuming I get the okay from my physio tomorrow, I’ll start running again, beginning with one or two miles and slowly building up to get back on my October marathon schedule.

Any day now, my sister will be giving birth to a gorgeous baby girl and I’ll become an extremely proud aunt.

And today, I have officially completed my Open University nutrition course (which began in early May) and am starting the application process to various Nutrition & Dietetics DPD/MS programs in NYC and CA.

Wow. There’s a lot going on in the next month (and beyond). I’m still somewhat in denial – and probably will be until things really start to kick off – although it’s definitely sinking in. No wonder I’ve been feeling so all over the place this past week!

I’m obviously excited for everything that’s currently unfolding – but as you can imagine, all of these things put together elicit such a mixture of emotions, it can be slightly overwhelming at times. Particularly times like now – when I can’t run.

I know you runners out there understand exactly what I’m talking about. Running is my outlet – it helps me cope, it makes me happy, it gives me confidence, it keeps my weight down, it connects me to others (and the list goes on and on). Actually, I have to have a good think about why I love to run and make it such a priority in my life, since I still need to write my “story” for my coach’s next running book.

Although I have been cross-training, I haven’t been for a run in a week now, and have only done about 21M in the last three weeks in total, so I’m feeling extremely running starved at the moment. But I suppose that’s a good feeling to have, as opposed to feeling burnt out and unmotivated – I’ve been there too!

At least I can say that I truly am feeling better, in terms of my hip. I’ve been extremely disciplined about resting sufficiently as well as doing the exercises my physio has given me, so fingers crossed I get the green light to run when I speak with him tomorrow. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this excited to run a mile – maybe even TWO – in my whole running career! 🙂

Wish me luck…and stay tuned for updates on all of the above!

After nearly four years in London, I have quit my job and will be moving back to the US on August 30th to spend time with my family and pursue a new career!!

Wow. That felt good to announce!

If you’ve already read my updated About Claire page, or have noticed my suddenly US-centric travel and race plans, then my news probably hasn’t come as a surprise.

I’ve wanted to change careers (or, from my perspective, finally start my career) for several years, but was never quite sure what I wanted to do. As a result, my priorities up until now have focused predominantly on life experience (travel, relationships, where I am living more than what I am doing) rather than pursuing a career that is more in line with my interests.

Just to give some background – after college, I fell into a corporate job in New York City, which I eventually quit to travel in South America, which inspired me to move to London (and travel as much as possible), where I ended up in another corporate job in the same industry, since that was my best shot at receiving a sponsored visa. Although not the right fit for me in the long term, my current BD & Marketing job has been a positive experience, and has provided me with skills that will prove useful down the line. I have also grown to love London, very much in fact. I look at my one-way ticket back to California and am happy to go HOME, but also extremely sad to leave what now feels like home.

I’m slightly nervous about starting a new career at this stage of my life, but I certainly don’t regret anything I’ve done. Every single thing that has happened since graduation has led me to where I am now – including my love of running. I’m not sure if I would have become such a keen distance runner had I not moved to London, met my running buddy (who encouraged me to enter my first half marathon), discovered my coach etc! And had I not entered my first marathon and become completely running obsessed, I probably wouldn’t have met E, either. Everything happens for a reason – I truly do believe that and am grateful for all of my past experiences, good and bad, which have each carried me to this moment.

In fact, my renewed passion for running (and healthy living, generally) ultimately helped inspire my career choice. I have decided to become a Registered Dietitian (RD), and a running coach on the side. I’ve always had an interest in nutrition and other issues relating to health, fitness and food (and as a side note, I also happen to be the only non-doctor in my family), so I am very excited to begin my new career path. I think it will suit me well.

As you know, I’ve already registered for RRCA’s coaching certification course (along with the Portland marathon) in early October, so those wheels are already in motion. I should be fully certified by the end of October and ready to take on coaching clients!

In terms of RD programs, this is where my plans are still fuzzy. Ideally, I would have applied to schools and resigned after having been accepted somewhere, but it’s not quite happening that way. I decided I was going to take the plunge after the fall/winter deadlines had already passed for September 2011 start dates, and I didn’t want to stay in my job past August. I’ve long outgrown my role and desperately need to get out and regroup before moving forward. Also, my older sister is having a baby, and it’s important to me that I spend an extended amount of time with my niece and the rest of my family after six years of living/traveling abroad. So, I decided it was time to go, even without a clear plan in place.

I’m very much into plans, so handing in my letter of resignation yesterday was both exhilarating and terrifying! Since I did my Bachelors in Humanities and my Masters in Music, I have very little science background, which means I have lots of catching up to do before I can enroll in many nutrition programs. And then depending on which school I choose (I’m considering schools in NY and CA), I won’t actually start my program until January or, more likely, September 2012! Applications for 2012 are due in October/November and I haven’t started them yet…

I have so much to do in the coming months (moving countries, school applications, marathon training, and so on), it’s making my head spin! But I’m taking things one step at a time so that I don’t get too overwhelmed, while also making sure that I savor my last moments in London as well as my first moments as an aunt. Everything will fall into place eventually – I know I’m making the right move and am confident in my decision, even if it feels somewhat bittersweet.

Welcome to FFR

Hi, I'm Claire! I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (MS, RD, CDN) and a Road Runners Club of America certified coach. This is where I share my latest adventures in running, racing, food & travel! If you'd like to work with me, please visit my professional website, Eat for Endurance.

My PRs

Marathon (Chicago): 3:33:18
Boston Marathon: 3:36:14
Half-Marathon: 1:37:21
10M: 1:14:52
10k: 44:52

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