You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘travel’ tag.

I have been meaning to write about running during pregnancy for a very long time, yet here I am – finally posting this at nearly 38 weeks pregnant!

Clearly a lot has happened since I ran the Big Sur Marathon last year. That was always the plan – run one last big race, and then attempt another far more challenging endurance event…PREGNANCY! We were fortunate enough to conceive right away, so I cruised from post-marathon recovery right into training for motherhood. We found out the good news shortly after an incredible trip to Hawaii, where we ran almost daily on the beach and had an epic trail running adventure down and around the Haleakala crater. I didn’t realize that I was 3 weeks pregnant at the time (if that even counts) and thoroughly enjoyed our 12 miles of running at altitude, hurling ourselves down the crater and across some of the most stunning and dramatic landscapes I have ever seen. It was my last blissfully ignorant running hurrah – before any of the now familiar pregnant running thoughts and concerns entered my mind. E captured the day quite well in his blog and I highly recommend hiking or running there if you find yourself in Maui – check it out!

Once I processed the initial shock and joy of discovering I was pregnant, one of my first thoughts was, “Wait – what about my running?!?!” I was averaging 30-40 miles per week pre-pregnancy, not training for anything in particular but trying to maintain my fitness after Big Sur for myself, and in case I wanted to squeeze in one last marathon or ultra over the summer. I couldn’t imagine not running. It is such an integral of my life – my “me time,” my release, a way I bond with my husband, and a large part of how I stay fit and healthy. I wanted to keep running as long as I could!

As a running coach, I knew the basics surrounding exercise during pregnancy, including:

  • Don’t start any new physical activities – unless it is something relatively gentle (i.e. if you weren’t active before, starting a walking routine is fine)
  • Limit or avoid sports that have a higher risk of injury/falling
  • Listen to your body and err on the side of caution if something doesn’t feel right – it’s just not worth the risk
  • Ensure adequate hydration/nutrition before, during and after exercise to maximize energy levels and recovery
  • Avoid exercising in heat or other potentially dangerous weather conditions (e.g. ice)
  • Most importantly, follow the advice that your doctor provides you that is specific to YOUR unique pregnancy!

Exercise, generally speaking, is without a doubt beneficial to mom and baby, assuming a healthy pregnancy. There is a great deal of research to support this, leading doctors to encourage most women to perform some type of physical activity for at least 30 minutes each day. But I was already very active – 30 min of walking doesn’t exactly cut it for me – and I couldn’t help but feel nervous, especially during the first trimester, so I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed. I knew that many women ran during pregnancy – some even finished marathons in their second and third trimesters – but there seemed to be conflicting information and opinions out there regarding distance and/or high intensity exercise. Could I continue with my previous mileage? What about long runs? What was safe for me and my baby? There wasn’t a whole lot of concrete information available on the topic.

I found myself doing a lot of googling and and blog reading about other women’s experiences. This of course did not substitute my need for individualized medical advice, and it’s important to note that every pregnancy is different, but it was reassuring and motivating to know that other runners were able to have healthy, successful pregnancies and stay in great shape without sacrificing their love of the sport. Did their running change and was it challenging at times to keep running? Of course! Was it worth it? Hell yeah! Did their successs mean that I would be able to run throughout my entire pregnancy? Definitely not. But I hoped I could and I am grateful my little one allowed me to run as long as I did, up until 36.5 weeks!

It also helped that I have a great OB who has been supportive of my running from day 1. With the thumbs up from her, I kept doing what I was doing, with some key adjustments that I have outlined below. My running obviously shifted as pregnancy progressed, but I pretty much followed these guidelines throughout, based on my experience as a coach and long-time runner, my own research on pregnant running, and my doctor’s advice specific to my exercise and medical history:

  • I approached training for childbirth as I would any important race. Preparing for birth (especially if you are planning for a natural one, as I am), is in many ways similar to training for a race. You have an overarching plan that includes all the physical and mental prep work to cross the finish line successfully, but have to take things day by day and adjust that plan as needed to get to that start line healthy.
  • I tried to stay flexible. If I felt particularly tired, queasy, or something didn’t feel right, I shortened my run, slowed down, took walk breaks, cross-trained, or took a rest day. As a side note, I didn’t wear a heart rate monitor  – keeping heart rate below a certain level for healthy pregnancies is old school advice – but simply paid attention to how I was feeling and adjusted my efforts accordingly.
  • Speed was no longer a priority – especially since pregnancy WILL slow you down eventually (for me, this happened later in my 2nd trimester). I cared more about CONSISTENT running. I still did some high intensity exercise to relieve stress and break up the monotony of easier efforts, but only when I felt strong and up until my third trimester, after which I kept things very low key.
  • I paid closer attention to the weather. I’m the type of runner who usually doesn’t get discouraged by a blizzard, downpour, or a hot summer day. That had to change! On extra hot days or if conditions were slippery, I adjusted the time of day that I went running, hit the treadmill, or did some indoor cross-training.
  • I was extremely careful about my running nutrition & hydration. I carried water if running for more than 4 miles, especially in warmer weather, and carried electrolytes/calories if running longer than 8 miles. I also made sure to have pre and post run snacks (always on my radar though, as a dietitian!).
  • I dedicated more time to strength training and lower impact cross-training, especially once my belly got bigger. Running became less comfortable for me around 34 weeks, at which point I started to run/walk and incorporate more spin classes and what I like to call, “Netflix & Elliptical.”
  • I bought a Road ID to wear in case something happened to me while I was running, especially for when I was alone. I also carried a credit card and if straying far from home, my phone (which I usually never carry), in case of emergencies.
  • I invested in a few key items of maternity exercise wear to stay comfortable as I got bigger. I was lucky in that I could keep wearing a lot of my normal gear until mid/late second trimester, as I already had some flowy and stretchy long tops, large running jackets, and some looser/stretchy shorts and pants. I did find a few things useful to buy, including a couple maternity tanks, a maternity long sleeve zip top, and a pair of maternity tights – all on sale from Old Navy and Gap. I splurged on my For Two Fitness “Running for Two” tank and long sleeve top, as they were too cute to resist!
  • I always ran within my comfort zone – and appreciate that this is different for everyone. For example, a half marathon during my second trimester seemed reasonable to me (I did the Staten Island Half at a slower but strong pace), as did running 12-15 miles with my husband on long slow run days during my 1st and 2nd trimesters, but I did not feel that longer distances were worth the risk. During my late second and early third trimesters, I was quite happy running 8-10M and 6-7M, respectively, as my “long” runs. Additionally, I felt solid running on technical trails up until my third trimester, as long as I ran with E and slowed down or walked particularly tricky sections. Our trail running adventures in Asheville, NC (check out E’s post here) at the start of my second trimester were particularly awesome!
  • I tried not to compare myself to other pregnant runners – what my body looked like, how much I was running, or anything else. Every pregnancy is different and the only important thing was to respect my own!
  • I always kept the “big picture” in mind – heathy mom and baby! Sure, I still had fitness goals – run/exercise consistently and as long as possible – but the ultimate goal always was to keep my baby safe. I’ll be honest, it was a bummer to miss a workout or cut things short because I wasn’t feeling well or my doctor wanted me to be extra cautious at times, but in pregnancy, it’s just not worth the risk.

I never sought to run a specific number of miles while pregnant, but when I realized that 1,000 was within my reach, it become the perfect goal to keep me motivated, especially whenever my running started to feel aimless. The last 50 miles were especially challenging, as I began to feel my increased weight and changes in my gait – a good chunk of those miles were walking – but I’m proud of myself for getting it done. As my doctor told me, my dedication to exercise helped maintain great blood flow to my baby and will likely lead to an easier labor! It also means that my return to running post-partum will not be *quite* so painful (although I know that it will still be pretty tough…).

My path to full-term pregnancy has not exactly been easy – without going into details, we have had many bumps in the road, and the process has been scary/overwhelming at times – but I am extremely grateful to have felt good for the most part and to have been able to stay so active. For the past week, I have only been walking because that is what feels best, but I walk every day for at least 30 minutes and at a good pace. I’m thinking of it as “tapering” for “race day” – I don’t get that same post-run high, but I still feel great afterwards. The finish line is within sight now and I cannot wait to meet my baby girl!

A quick note on training for natural birth – my husband and I enrolled in a birthing class that teaches the Bradley Method. It has been a huge time commitment (8 x 3hr sessions) but SO worthwhile. We knew very little about the birthing process pre-pregnancy and we feel so empowered and prepared now (as much as you can be, that is). E and I have always worked well as a team, often training side by side, exploring trails together, and pacing each other in marathons and ultras, so I knew that I wanted him to coach me through birth. The parallels between running a long race and birthing a baby naturally are actually quite astounding. I have been practicing various physical and mental exercises (e.g. kegels, squats, pelvic tilts, active labor positions, relaxation and visualization, breathing etc.) to help cope with labor pain, and also practicing E’s coaching techniques to make sure that they resonate with me. Kind of like strength training, structured running targeted at your race distance, mantras, and learning the art of pacing, right? Childbirth is not the same as running an ultra obviously, but having run for 12 hours and navigated the physical and mental highs and lows of that experience certainly gives me confidence that I can get through the many hours of labor and delivery!

If you’re interested in hearing more about my experience of running while pregnant, in addition to my coaching and nutrition advice for pregnant athletes, check out this podcast that I did with Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running! We had such a great conversation on pregnancy exercise and I would love your feedback.

I’ll close out with a photo diary of my running and other exercise adventures while pregnant – check out the captions to see how far along I was. It’s amazing how much my body has changed, even if I haven’t gained as much weight as I thought I would (and believe me, I have been trying hard to gain more, especially in recent weeks). Then again, I have always been a small person and can’t imagine my belly being much bigger! It will be a long road to get my body and my fitness back post-birth, but I know I’ll get there eventually.

First trimester:

Second trimester:

Third trimester:

img_0056

The Big Sur marathon offers a chance to experience dramatic landscapes along Highway 1 while tackling a challenging course. For this reason, it’s considered a great destination race for runners across the globe. This marathon has been on my bucket list for years, as it combines two things I love: running, which started in high school not far from the finish line in Monterey, and Northern California, where I grew up. Big Sur in particular has always been a magical place for me, in part due to yearly camping trips with my family when I was young, which is why I wanted it to be the first marathon I ran in my home state!

E and I had already signed up for the marathon when an old friend of mine from high school asked if we would join his relay team, We Be Crazies. He’s been trying to get me to run for the last 7 years, but the timing was never quite right. Doing the relay and the marathon seemed a bit nuts, but apparently we could run Leg 1 (4.9 miles) and then continue onwards to complete the marathon. I was on the “A” open female team that won 1st place last year, which meant that I was expected to run as fast as possible for the first 5 miles. Not exactly ideal marathon pacing strategy, but I was never planning for this race to be a fast one, and I was excited for a potential podium finish!

img_0182

img_0231

 

 

 

 

 

We flew in from NYC late Thursday night before the Sunday race, allowing us to stay on East Coast time. Very important when you have a 3am wakeup call race morning! We had a relaxing day at my parent’s house in Santa Cruz on Friday, including some nice walks on the beach to calm our taper crazies, and drove down to the expo on Saturday. The expo was small (you don’t need much time there) but had some great speakers. I particularly enjoyed meeting Bart Yasso – he shared an entertaining and powerful story about how he became the Chief Running Officer of RW, and all the adventures and health challenges that he has experienced since. His book is great too!

Bart’s main message was the following: you may not always have your health, but no one can take away your positive attitude or your passion for the sport. This proved very helpful on race day while being blown to pieces by crazy headwinds and feeling unusually fatigued early in the race. I could either think about how crappy I felt, or focus on the gorgeous views and how fortunate I was to be running in such a special part of the world. Attitude is everything!

The race was very well organized, with shuttles in several convenient locations. We stayed at the Hampton Inn (5 min walk from the shuttle at Embassy Suites), which was brand new and very comfy. It also was only a short drive from the expo (note – it says Monterey but really it is one block away from Seaside). The staff was great about letting us use their microwave to reheat our pre-race meals (salmon, zucchini and rice for lunch and pasta with mushrooms for dinner), and cooking oatmeal at 3am. As for gear, I had never run in my relay singlet and it was very big, so I layered it over my usual racing tank and the awkward baton fit nicely into my arm sleeve so I didn’t have to grip it.

The bus took about 75 minutes to get to the start line in Big Sur – a slow ride of peering out into the darkness. We got to the athlete village around 5:30am, which was extremely small and crowded (there isn’t much space to put everyone off of the highway). We were essentially dumped into a convoluted, massive line for the porta potties. Thankfully, the hilarious signs on each one kept us laughing. For example, “Tesla charging station,” “Las Vegas bus leaves here,” “Only for under 40 years old,” “Toasty 75 degrees inside,” and my favorite – “Condo for rent.” Not much of an exaggeration for California! The mile markers also had funny pictures and sayings – the race organizers definitely have a great sense of humor, and I appreciated the laughs while mentally toughing it out on the course.

Despite the crowds, we soon reunited with our fellow We Be Crazies Leg 1 runners. Because the highway remains open until 6am, the start line is only put up right before the race begins. They also load the corals differently – slowest runners first to get them further down the highway and fastest first. My friend encouraged me to start at the very front, which seemed crazy since my “fast” pace is slow compared to the front runners. But hey – it was my only opportunity to start at the very front of a major race, so I figured why not go for it! It was such a rush, running down that hill. I knew I would be passed immediately (and I was) at my 7:07 pace, however it was still awesome.

13220985_10100537568944406_6695302231882239940_n

The weather was cool and cloudy but fairly protected by the redwoods during my relay leg. It was so peaceful and mostly downhill – though certainly not “all downhill” as everyone kept saying (never believe that statement with regards to this race). There were several climbs though relative to the rest of the course, I suppose they were quite small. I felt strong and happy with my pacing, even though it would bite me later in the race.

After the handoff at mile 4.9, I felt sick. But sick = nice job on the relay! I shifted gears and slowed down to catch my breath and settle into a more sustainable pace. It wasn’t really a choice anyway as this was the point at which the roads opened up and the wind reared its ugly head! Large groups of runners kept passing me by, making me wish I could run fast enough to keep up so that I could get some protection from the wind. This sign definitely rubbed it in – all lies! Those hills felt endless…because they were.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By mile 10 I was exhausted and the wind and slanted roads were taking a toll. I focused on how lucky I was to be there and on one of many long hills, the following mantra popped into m head: “Never ever ever give up.” I repeated it to myself over and over again and particularly while climbing hills to the rhythm of my feet.

13115977_10100530316613136_3672200462265853345_o

The taiko drums before hurricane point really locked in my mantra. You feel the sounds reverberate in your soul. These drums are a call to battle – in this case, the battle within against the never-ending hill! The fluid, powerful movements of the drummers were inspiring.

At the top of hurricane point it was so windy I literally could not move forward. It stopped me in my tracks and nearly blew me over! Good thing I ran during some crazy snowstorms back in NYC – who would’ve guessed it would be great Big Sur training? Usually you can make up time running downhill but the wind was so strong, it wasn’t worth the energy to push against it.

Bixby bridge was magical. We didn’t have blue skies like the last time I visited Big Sur, but the views were just as beautiful. You could hear the piano way before you even saw the bridge – the music floating faintly in the wind with sounds of crashing waves down below. This race clearly was not going to be a fast one, so I made sure to stop and really soak it in.

Just after the bridge, E cruised by me! I was beyond happy to see his face. He was looking strong and I could barely keep up with him at first. We settled into a slow but steady pace for 10 miles or so, occasionally saying a few words but mostly focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.

Around mile 22 or 23, I finally got my groove back while E started to fall behind. I needed to keep moving so we parted ways. I hit the strawberry aid station – yes, an aid station with super sweet, fresh local strawberries – where I ran into an old friend from college. Turns out she lives in the neighborhood, and since they’re blocked in for the day they have a party!

The slant of the roads was tough on the body – I tried to find a sweet spot on the road but getting comfortable was nearly impossible. It was the first time in a marathon I wanted to walk but somehow I kept myself running. Knowing my parents were waiting for me at the finish helped me finish strong – it was the first time they were watching me race a marathon since Boston 2013. I saw my parents screaming in the spectator stands and was proud to finish in 4:08. It was my slowest marathon time ever but I still fought hard for it and took time to soak in the scenery – and that’s what matters.

E finished shortly after me in 4:16 – it was a strong run for him, given it was only a few minutes off of his flat course PR. The medals were awesome – ceramic with leather cords. Definitely a unique one to add to our collection!

Our relay team’s success certainly sweetened my slow personal finish! We Be Crazies won four awards – 1st overall, 1st open male, and 2nd and 3rd open female. My team won 2nd – we missed 1st by 15min – but we still rocked it with a time of 3:19!

After the awards ceremony, we celebrated together with an Indian buffet before heading back to Santa Cruz. As much as I love the solo nature of running and racing, I also enjoy being part of a competitive team. It’s not just about you achieving your personal goals – people are counting on you, which make you want to push that much harder. Doing both the relay and the marathon was a real challenge, but it was pretty cool to race hard for my team and then be able to battle it out for myself. I highly recommend this race – you can choose one of the shorter distances if you wish to experience the course without committing to the full 26.2!

After Big Sur, we got to relax in Santa Cruz with my family. As much as I love NYC, I hadn’t been home  in a year and I can’t tell you how amazing it was to be back. Our bodies ached for several days but we quickly recovered with daily beach walks, lots of delicious food, and massage. One week later, my legs felt refreshed and I had one of my all-time best beach runs, from La Selva to Seacliff (10 miles)! Perfect conditions – low tide and sunny with a cool breeze – combined with an awesome playlist led to some unexpectedly fast miles.

A trip to California wouldn’t be complete without a run in the redwoods. I did a couple short runs with E on the trails in Nisene Marks as well as a hike and meditation session with a close friend down by the Buddha bridge, my favorite spot in the forest. It was the perfect way to end a beautiful, active week!

E and I recently spent 10 days in Maui and 4 days in the Catskills. As usual, our travel was filled with some unforgettable runs, hikes and meals!

MAUI, HAWAII

18790457419_2785fdae78_z

It was E’s first trip to Hawaii and I hadn’t been there in seven years, so we were excited to do some exploring in between chilling out on the beach with my family.

19162307565_da690116db_z

Our first adventure was a 10M run from Makena to Kihei literally on every terrain imaginable – road, pavement, sand, grass, gravel trail and dirt trail. The paved beach trail (pictured above) meanders through the fancy Waliea hotels (from the Fairmont to the Andaz) and is a popular path among runners and walkers. What you may not know is that you can keep running past the Andaz along the beach (bottom left) for another mile or so to the Mana Kai hotel, along the grass (middle) around the hotel across more grass and onto a gravel trail leading past a boat ramp and onto another trail that takes you into Kihei (bottom right). Most tourists don’t go this far so you can get some peace and quiet! We did a shorter version of this run – from the Fairmont to the trail and back (~5-6M) – a couple times later in the week.

19162320015_82c65bf503_z 18975185078_1b94c36a83_z 19162356965_fc67d9eb60_z

The views are magnificent, and the earlier you go the better! We started our runs no later than 6:45am and already, the sun was beating down on us and the path was crowded (at least in Wailea). These runs were not easy between the sand, the heat and the rolling hills, but the scenery certainly made the miles fly by.

We also went on a 12M run/hike in Poli Poli State Park, which is way up a volcano towards Haleakala National Park along a tiny VERy windy road. We planned to devote one day just to a long run/hike somewhere far away from the beaten path and after some research, E decided upon Poli Poli. I won’t bother to write about this because E already wrote an awesome recap on his new trail running website, trailz.io, that truly captures the spirit of our adventure. The terrain was incredibly varied, but here are a couple photos to give you a sense of two sections of the trail…

19075310026_48c046dfc8_z 18753725808_14c6f6289b_z 18755039329_926d3e3a30_z

Lastly, we did a beautiful hike (with a little running) along the King’s Highway trail. It’s rocky but runable in certain sections. We happened to go there on a breezy, slightly cooler day, which made the temperature manageable in the late morning, but this is one place to watch out for the sun and to be sure to bring enough hydration! We only hiked for a couple hours but this trail goes on and on and on.

19136661406_f07b3f7ff4_z 

Eating and being active of course go hand in hand, so I’ll leave you with a few of my Maui fav’s in case you find yourself in the area. We spent a week with my family in a condo and did a lot of grilling (my favorite fish is Opah moonfish – marinated in ginger, tamari and lemon – pictured bottom right with spinach and purple sweet potatoes), but here are some great restaurants that we love (some new, some very old):

  • Monkeypod kitchen: Good happy hour, have to get the Mai Tai
  • Cafe O’lei: Great value especially for lunch
  • Kimo’s: An old fav in Lahaina, go at sunset and don’t miss the hula pie
  • Coconut’s Fish Cafe: Yummy fish tacos in Kihei
  • Flatbread Company: Great pizzas in Paia

18976071769_a06d8a7337_z 18762209579_3d1ea125ce_z 18976617449_dc24204154_z

We can’t wait to go back to Maui next year!

18695234700_b433bce3ab_z

CATSKILLS, NEW YORK

A week after we got back from Hawaii, we rented an adorable log cabin near Phoenicia to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary. The weather was horrible (heavy rain most of the time), which initially really bummed us out. It ended up being a blessing, as it forced us to relax by the fire for two days and get some much needed recovery. We did a lot of resting, reading, and s’mores eating! We ventured out once our first day to grab lunch at Phoenicia Diner – the town seemed completely dead but apparently that’s where everyone was hanging out. Totally packed! We opted for breakfast but the lunch items looked incredible too.

19280906606_414e5a35dc_z 18686384783_627b69bb3f_z

The rain let up just long enough for us to squeeze in a few hikes. All that rain explains why the area is so incredibly lush, but it also meant that the trails were super muddy and slick. Even on a dry day the trails are quite rocky and steep, so we ditched the idea of trail running and were happy to hike instead (enough of a challenge!).

19120871089_5ee30ff4e0_k

Our first hike was on the Slide-Wittenberg Trail, one of the trail-heads that originates in the Woodland Valley Campground just a few miles from our cabin. We got a late start (mid-afternoon), as the rain had only just stopped, and there literally wasn’t a soul on the trails, so we only did an out and back on a section of the loop (about 3.3 miles). The trail was beautiful, although sections of the trail were engulfed in water and at times we were essentially hiking up a rocky stream. Nevertheless, it was very peaceful and it felt great to be active after lounging around the cabin!

18684439434_479c927b00_z 19311122665_30455c1df5_z

Our second and main hike was a 7 mile out and back on the Giant Ledge-Panther Mountain Trail. You can get on this trail from Woodland Valley Campgrounds, but we decided to try something different and instead catch the trail-head near Big Indian (a 30 minute drive from Phoenicia). We started on the footbridge and from there it was essentially one very long climb up to a series of ledges with stunning views. The weather was still variable (we had sun and rain) and the trail was a mud bath, but thankfully the weather was clear enough when we reached the view points to glimpse the endless tree-covered mountains.

19281015586_c84e57a796_z 19123531878_efa92acea6_z

After passing these ledges, we carried on towards what we thought would be the peak of Panther mountain, but strangely the trail started to go back down and we eventually decided to turn around. We later found out we went too far. There were a couple nice view points, but not so dramatic that we thought we had reached our final destination! Giant Ledge is the best feature of this trail and were it not for the fact that we wanted a longer workout, I think we would have been happy stopping at that point. Overall, a beautiful and challenging hike and well worth the effort!

19310860131_1a479302a8_z 18684086434_0d205d984e_z

Of course, one of the best parts of doing a long run or hike is the awesome meal afterwards. We finished our hike around 4pm, just in time for Peekamoose restaurant in Big Indian to open for “dinner.” This was our favorite restaurant in the area – we had a huge meal including appetizers and dessert since we hadn’t eaten a real lunch. Everything was delicious and homemade. The restaurant was empty (because who eats dinner at 4pm?!), which was a good thing since we had attempted to clean ourselves up after our hike but we were still pretty gross! I don’t eat red meat that often but sometimes I really crave a good burger and this burger was INSANE. Definitely the opposite from the other burger pictured above from a few nights before – a delicious black bean burger at the adorable Woodstock Garden Cafe. We stopped here on our way to Phoenicia – beautiful garden and tasty, healthy vegan fare!

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 10.06.29 PM

Our last day was our anniversary  – I made the above photo collage from all our wedding and honeymoon pics. Before our drive back to NYC, we checked out the Tanbark traila short loop that starts right by the post office in Phoenicia. It was a lovely, less technical trail that we could have run in parts had we not been so sore from the previous day’s hike! Worth checking out if you’re in the area and want something a bit less strenuous.

We’re back in NYC now without any trips planned for awhile. I can’t complain after two incredible vacations! We’re hoping to enjoy some local running/hiking to build up for our Fall races, which we still haven’t locked in but we’re getting close to pulling the trigger on a few.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend filled with awesome workouts and delicious food!

This post is very belated, but I am still very excited to report that I graduated from NYU with my Master’s in Clinical Nutrition a few weeks ago! Passing the RD exam in September was an amazing feeling, but finishing my graduate degree and celebrating with my family, friends and classmates was even better. Graduation was held in Madison Square Garden and was very entertaining, with dancing, singing, and a hashtag screen for #Steinhardt2015.

IMG_6658 IMG_6654

I often forget that my decision to become a Registered Dietitian stemmed from the creation of this blog nearly five years ago. It has been such a long, challenging road, and I am having trouble believing that it is finally over. I recently perused some of my old blog posts and it amazes me just how much has happened in my personal, professional and athletic life throughout this time. I am forever grateful for the support of my family, friends, and most of all my husband for helping me succeed in my professional journey. Going back to school in your 30s is a very daunting task!

I’m still adjusting to the idea of no longer being a student. I keep thinking that this is just a break and summer classes are right around the corner. I can’t even express how relieved I am to finally be done. I am still working full time as a clinical dietitian at Montefiore, but I am cherishing my new “free time” on week nights and weekends. I think I will need at least a month or two to catch up on sleep and recover from 3.5 years of craziness. I am also looking forward to my first true vacation in ages – a week of R&R in Maui, starting tomorrow, followed by a long weekend in a log cabin (literally) without TV or phone service in the Catskills! E and I are celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary, and I can’t think of a better way to do so than some quality time out in nature, completely unplugged from the rest of the world.

I plan to focus on next steps professionally once I’m back. I will begin coaching the Gilda’s Club NYC marathon team for the 4th consecutive year, and will continue to coach private run clients and counsel private nutrition clients through Physical Equilibrium (get in touch if you’re interested). I also plan to build the website for my new nutrition business, “Eat for Endurance: Nutrition counseling for longevity in life and in sport.” In the meantime, follow me on Twitter and Instagram @eatforendurance for nutrition and fitness tips!

IMG_6530 IMG_6626

E and I have been enjoying some down time on the running front since the Brooklyn Half Marathon a few weeks ago. And we are so thankful that the weather finally turned – how gorgeous were those Spring blossoms?! My hamstring has been bothering me recently, but I hope I can start training properly again later this month with the NYC triathlon relay approaching! After having such a blast at our April TNF ultra, E and I are on the hunt for an exciting a Fall race. We haven’t picked one yet but did come across a 65km trail race outside of Quebec in September that sounds intriguing! I am slightly concerned, however, about the bell that is on the “recommended” (not required) list of gear to ward of bears…hmmm.

I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful warm weather! Happy running!

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Happy St. Patricks Day! It’s a gorgeous day here in NYC, and it looks like the Spring weather will continue through race day tomorrow. Woo-hoo! I wish I could get out and enjoy the festivities, but instead I plan to spend the day relaxing in my neighborhood so I can get myself up at 4:30am tomorrow. At least my NYC Half Marathon bib and t-shirt are festive!

E and I went to the expo yesterday morning to pick up our goodies. I was pretty surprised when I saw 5600 – I have never been such a nice round number! Pretty cool. But what really caught me off-guard was the number of runners participating in tomorrow’s half marathon – how did I not realize that this is a massive event? Somehow I thought it was 10,000, not 22,999! Yikes.

I don’t know if it’s the stress from recent weeks (on top of midterms and everything else, I had a huge leak in my apartment the day E arrived, leaving us without a bathroom ceiling for several days), the fact that I haven’t “raced” a half marathon since my somewhat unsuccessful effort at Fleet last year or the unexpected crazy size of tomorrow’s event, but I suddenly started to feel VERY nervous. Almost as nervous as I felt the day before the NYC Marathon! And not a good, excited type of nervous either – more of a panicky nervous.

I suppose I’ve had yet another somewhat bumpy training cycle, which never helps. I have been dealing with right hamstring issues for the last month (which have improved greatly, but not 100%) and haven’t had as much time to train (or sleep) with school (no hill repeats, not enough tempo runs etc). Mentally, I keep wavering between seriously doubting my abilities and believing I can knock out a sub-1:40, no problem. I suppose that’s fairly normal, though.

I’m dying to run a strong half marathon tomorrow. I considered pacing E instead of going after my own goals, but I NEED a victory for myself tomorrow. E will be fine – I have every bit of faith that he’s going to PR tomorrow on his own. Run to the Beat in September 2010 was my last 13.1M effort that made me proud, and I want to prove to myself that I can get back there before I launch into Chicago training. I don’t want to make myself miserable if I miss my goal by a couple minutes, but I can’t help but lay on the pressure – I WANT that time! So I’m just going to give it my best shot and see what happens.

At least E and I got to unwind for a few days in Manchester, Vermont earlier this week. I was eager to escape the city and get some R&R after my first two insane months in grad school. Manchester wasn’t particularly exciting, but it was peaceful and empty, and I loved our B&B, the Reluctant Panther.

The B&B was a short drive from the Equinox Preserve, where we did about 5M of hiking along several trails on our second day. Nothing strenuous – and nothing spectacular, scenery-wise, but it was nice to get some fresh air and stretch our legs after the long drive. I have a feeling Manchester is GORGEOUS at other times of the year – when the leaves change color, when covered in snow, or when lush and green – unfortunately, we were there when the weather was mild but everything was still very barren. Plus, our Yosemite adventures were still quite fresh in our minds, and obviously that kind of scenery is hard to beat! But it was still pretty, and I was simply happy to be out of the city, spending quality time with E.

Speaking of seasons, we grabbed a casual dinner that night at a local spot called “Seasons” – the food was pretty good, but I really loved the beer (or at least, the glass it came in):

The other side said, “Take a Hike!” I really should’ve just taken that glass. It was awesome. We also had lovely dinners at the Silver Fork and Bistro Henry. Recommend both!

But back to race day prep…I wasn’t expecting such warm weather and only practiced my long runs wearing my 2XU tights. Should I run in shorts, which I haven’t worn in ages and am not 100% sure I’ll be comfortable wearing (probably fine, since I’ve worn them in the past, but I don’t like not having worn them recently…) or should I wear my 2XU compression tights, which I’ve worn every single race and training long run but may be too warm for tomorrow? Decisions, decisions.

Good luck tomorrow to the thousands of runners invading the NYC streets tomorrow! I’ll leave you with a few words of Yogi wisdom, my from ginger tea bag last night. Thought it was very appropriate for me, given my lack of work-life balance recently…

So very true. Work hard and kick butt tomorrow runners – but don’t forget to enjoy yourselves!!

Happy (belated) New Year! I just finished up another wonderful California visit with E, who flew in from London on New Year’s Eve and returned this past Sunday. It’ll be my turn to fly in four days, when I move to NYC and begin grad school shortly thereafter. Starting a year filled with so much change – for both of us – wouldn’t have felt right without him by my side. I’m grateful that we were able to take full advantage of my last moments in Santa Cruz and kick off 2012 with a few more adventures!

As usual, our days were packed with beautiful trail runs and hikes and tons of amazing food, with a bit of relaxation thrown in here and there. Every day or two I experienced something special that I wanted to share, such as our blissful New Year’s Day in Santa Cruz, our exhausting but EPIC trip to Yosemite, our 14 mile run in Nisene the following day, our day trip to St. Helena (Napa) and many unforgettable meals throughout the week. However, the incredible (January?!) weather and the fact that we were constantly on the go left very few opportunities for computer work, and those spare moments were better spent enjoying each other’s company. Anyone else who is in a long distance relationship surely understands that!

In other words, I have a lot of catching up to do on FFR! I’ll power through the highlights, and for those of you who don’t feel like reading, I’ve included plenty of photos for your viewing pleasure.

After a fun, low-key NYE spent at my friend’s house, E and I woke up to one of the most beautiful days we’ve had in months – 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. It was hard to believe it was January 1st! I had done my long run the previous day, but Sunday still meant pancakes were on the menu. My Dad made a delicious batch of his gluten-free banana pecan pancakes, which we enjoyed out on the deck.

  

It would’ve been a crime to be indoors, so we all went for a 4+ mile walk on my local beach in the afternoon, and returned later in the day to catch a colorful sunset. I also took E for a relaxing 6M run the next morning at low tide. I love my beach – can’t get enough of it – and E was in heaven after many months of sun deprivation!

Since we had already visited Big Sur and San Francisco in September, we decided to spend a couple days in Yosemite and join my family for a day trip to St. Helena (with an overnight in Concord) later in the week. E had never been to Yosemite before as an adult, while I’ve been twice – once in June about 11 years ago (peak season, packed with tourists, and extremely hot – stayed in a platform tent in Curry Village), and another time in September about five years ago (slightly off season but still busy, mixed weather – backpacked and camped along the trail but had to leave early to escape an unexpected blizzard). Both trips bring back great memories, but my visit with E was particularly unique due to the unseasonably warm and dry weather and the lack of crowds. We certainly got the best of both worlds!

Temperatures were a bit chilly in the mornings and evenings, but they peaked in the high 60s and felt even warmer in the sun. Nearly all the roads and trails were open (except for Half Dome) because there hadn’t been any rain or snow for over a month. I realize that this isn’t good for the park, but the sunshine and perfectly clear blue skies made for incredible hiking conditions – great views and no slipping on ice! Because it was off-season, we were able to book the night before we left (usually, you have to reserve months in advance) and the lower prices meant that we could stay at Yosemite Lodge. I love to camp but it was a nice change to sleep in a warm, clean bed! Our hotel was full, the restaurants were relatively busy and there were a fair number of people roaming around the valley, but you could hardly call it crowded compared to my previous visits. There weren’t many cars in the park or on Hwy 140 and we saw very few hikers on the trails, so at times it felt like we had the place to ourselves. It was refreshing to finally experience Yosemite as it should be experienced – without tour buses, traffic and hordes of hikers everywhere you turn!

   

We arrived in the early afternoon after 4+ hours of driving and decided to continue all the way up to Glacier Point. I had forgotten just how far away it was, but I thought it would be a lovely picnic spot for lunch (it was – very quiet, spectacular views) and once we had already committed 30 minutes we didn’t want to turn back! We checked out Bridal Veil falls (very little water) in the late afternoon on the way to checking into our hotel, then relaxed by the fire in the Awahnee hotel (the main room is beautiful) and had a nice dinner back at the Mountain Room near Yosemite Lodge. FYI, food is very overpriced in the park, so if you visit I recommend bringing things for breakfast (I brought instant oatmeal, bananas and almond butter) as well as snacks and lunch for hikes if possible (I brought sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, granola bars, fruit etc.). The cafeteria at the Lodge has hot water and utensils, and rooms have fridges, so it is really easy to save money this way and ensure you have something healthy and nutritious to eat!

  

Our hotel was a ten minute walk to the Upper Yosemite Falls/Yosemite Point trail head, so we opted to make this our main hike of the trip. We set out at 7:15am – it was cold but given that this trail involves nonstop climbing for several hours, we warmed up very quickly, particularly once the sun started to shine in the valley.

We stopped at the Yosemite Falls overlook (we found a nice flat rock, set away from the railings with insane views) for some lunch in the late morning. My avocado and cheese sandwiches on honey whole wheat bread were pretty tasty after all our hard work! We had passed a few people on our way up, but we didn’t see anybody for the 30-45 minutes we spent at what is usually one of Yosemite’s busiest attractions. By this point, the sun was quite strong, and we enjoyed a nice long sunbath before continuing our journey. Simply amazing.

   

Last time I hiked up here, I turned around at the falls. It was blisteringly hot, extremely crowded and sticking my feet in the cool river just beyond the overlook seemed like a good ending point. Yosemite Point is an additional mile (bringing our total to about 10 miles roundtrip, with 3,000 ft of elevation gain, probably double in net gain) and was well worth the additional effort. We hit an icy patch across the bridge, which was the only tricky, wintery part of our hike. I decided to slide down on my butt and nearly fell into the bushes/partially frozen river, but thankfully E caught me at the bottom. The rest of the trail was forested and beautiful, with patches of ice and snow on either side until we reached the actual point, which was all stone, exposed and extremely warm.

 

We would’ve loved to have continued further towards North Dome, but we were running low on water and thus decided to end our hike here. We found this amazing rock towards the edge of the Point (slightly scary, but not dangerous) with two big holes that made the perfect seats! We sat in our little holes, which secured us safely into the rock, side by side for at least 45 minutes, enjoying the silence (there was no one up there – only one person passed by briefly), the sunshine and the views.

   

This was by far my favorite part of our trip – I’ve been pretty stressed out lately, but up on that rock, my stress melted away. All that mattered to me in that moment was spending time with the man I love, feeling the sun on my skin and staring out into the valley. Next time I feel anxious, I am going to close my eyes and imagine I am back at Yosemite Point with E, sitting in that rock. It’s my new place of calm. Problems become insignificant when you’re up in the mountains, so far removed from everything and faced with so much natural beauty.

It took awhile to motivate ourselves to get up, but once we did, we checked out the other side of the Point to get some different views. I made a little rock pile to celebrate our wonderful start to 2012 and all of the challenging but exciting things coming our way!

   

The way back down was pretty challenging – the trail was practically all downhill on rocks (too technical to run down, for the most part), and it was very hot. We didn’t bring nearly enough water, so we were feeling dehydrated and tired. Nevertheless, the views were amazing and we had a great time – I always love my adventures with E! We really are incredible travel companions. The best part was getting to the bottom and having beer, hot chocolate and ice cream sandwiches, followed by hot showers, passing out by the Awahnee fireplace and a nice big dinner! I know camping is a bit more authentic, but it was pretty awesome returning to a comfy bed and some trashy TV after such a long day.

   

Our day two hike was slightly less strenuous, given that we had to check out of the hotel at 12:30pm and drive back to Santa Cruz. However, we still managed about 8 miles of hiking and 2,000 ft of elevation gain (far more in net gain) up to Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail. I was dying to do a loop – out on the Mist Trail and back (slightly longer route) via the John Muir trail, but given our time constraints, we decided to do an out and back instead.

  

We drove to a parking lot near the trail head and started our hike at 7:45am – it was even quieter than the previous day! We saw one guy for only a couple minutes throughout our entire ascent – it was so dead it was almost creepy, especially since the entire hike was shaded – but then small groups of hikers started to emerge as we made our way back down. As with Yosemite Falls, it was a strange and wonderful experience to be able to enjoy what is normally a VERY crowded trail in such a peaceful way!

   

It was also pretty amazing to see Vernal Falls – a wall of water during my last visit – so dry. As a result, the “Mist” trail was not only fully open, but it was not misty at all! I was actually very grateful for this, since it was colder our second day (so cold at the top of Nevada Falls that we turned around almost immediately) and I was afraid that the stone steps, which are normally wet, would be very icy. Thankfully, every inch of the trail was dry, although there was plenty of snow and ice in the rivers and around the falls.

   

Coming back via the Mist trail meant that we had some extra time to take photos (we were going pretty fast on the way up, since we weren’t sure how long it would take us). We also ran the last mile or so back to the trail head given it was on pavement and felt easier on our legs, which by this point were feeling pretty trashed! It was fun to speed past various hikers giving us crazy looks.

After a nice hot shower and some hot chocolate, we left the park and had a lovely lunch in Mariposa at the Deli Garden. I highly recommend this place – super cute, friendly owners and a wonderful patio if the weather is nice! We enjoyed a sun bath as we devoured our sandwiches – felt good to relax for a bit before the long journey back home.

 

The photos above are only a fraction of what we took (and I got some really great shots) – check out the rest of my Yosemite album here.

Although we woke up feeling somewhat broken on Friday morning, we decided to head to Nisene Marks around noon to go for a run. I know, crazy right? But after all that hiking, we were actually craving something long and slow, and the weather was far too nice not to be outside. We were only planning to do do 10ish (we drove into the park to cut out the relatively boring initial miles) but the trails were so awesome that we became fixated on reaching Sand Point overlook. I had only been there once back when I did a long NYC marathon training run, and was dying to show it to E. It ended up being slightly further away than I remembered…whoops! E was a bit grumpy in the last miles but was a real trooper.

 

Surprisingly, we had an awesome run – 13.75M in 2:22 – and finished feeling strong, perhaps aided by the fact that two lovely rest days awaited us! I wish I had a photo of the trails towards the top and in particular, the views of the redwoods and the ocean from Sand Point, but we opted to leave our cameras behind. All I have is two tired, sweaty but happy runners back at the trail head – and our post-run lunch!

 

I made this pizza using Trader Joe’s whole wheat dough (which I had always wanted to try), mozzarella and a variety of grilled vegetables. It was cheap, delicious, healthy and easy to make – this is definitely going in my poor grad student cook book!

On Saturday, we left Santa Cruz early in the morning with my parents to pick up my sister, brother-in-law and niece in Concord and drive up to St. Helena, in Napa Valley. We were celebrating my sister’s and mom’s birthdays with a day of wine tasting, a bit of shopping/wandering around town and two incredible meals (lunch at Market and dinner at La Condesa). It was a lot of time in the car, especially having just done Yosemite, but we had a lovely day together and I’m glad I was able to spend some time with my family before moving to NYC. Elisia looked like a little doll in her French outfit! It’s impossible not to be obsessed with her when she is around.

   

Check out my full set of NYE, Santa Cruz and St. Helena photos HERE.

We stayed the night in Concord, which gave us some much-needed time to relax before E caught his flight Sunday afternoon. It was sad to say goodbye yet again, but our fabulous week together will carry us through until our next visit. We’re aiming for NYC or London sometime in early/mid February…

Now that my blissful week with E is over, it’s time to bring my focus back to my upcoming move. I still can’t believe that it’s all about to happen! I’m excited but it’s also overwhelming, particularly dealing with all the logistics. Thankfully, everything seems to be coming together, albeit slowly. Last week was a good reminder that when I start to stress out, I need to step back and put things in perspective! I’m so grateful to have such a loving family and so many friends to support me through this next phase of my life.

A frightening number of changes are coming my way, but if the first eight days of January are any indicator, this year is going to be epic! My Jan. 1st SF Chronicle horoscope, at least, seems to be on the right track…

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…

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since I created the Fight and Flight Response – this is my 127th post!

I remember sitting on the sofa with E the day after Christmas, telling him how much I would love to start blogging. I was wrapping up a year filled with many running achievements, including my first two marathons, and I didn’t want to lose that sense of momentum. Between my training, the knowledge I had gained from my coach, my interest in nutrition and cooking and my various trips around the world, I felt I had some interesting experiences to share!

E had heard me talk about starting a running blog dozens of times over the course of the year. This time, his response was, “Just do it! What’s stopping you?”

I had many excuses.

I couldn’t decide on a title, and you obviously need one in order to start a blog. He helped me brainstorm and choose a name.

I was convinced I was too technologically challenged to create something that looked good. He said sites like WordPress are very easy to use, but clearly I needed a bigger push. I woke up the next morning to an email from him, subject line “Happy New Year – my gift to you.” I was so surprised! He had purchased the domain name for the Fight and Flight Response and set up a linked WordPress account.

“Now, here’s the fun part,” he said. “Start writing!”

That was actually the root of the problem. As silly as it sounds, I was kind of afraid to put my blog out there! It had been a long time since I had written anything for public consumption and I felt intimidated, particularly given the number of beautiful, well written blogs that already existed. Everyone has to start somewhere, though…

I had actually blogged once before, while traveling in South America from 2006-7. I set up a blog called “Seven countries/seven months in South America: A panacea for my quarter-life crisis” so that my family and friends could follow my whereabouts. I stopped posting shortly after I returned to the US, but I occasionally read an entry or two. I find it very amusing, not only because I was on the road and my blog was somewhat hastily written, but also because my voice has changed so dramatically in the last five years. That blog still receives a decent number of visitors (27,000 overall) despite the lack of updates – I included tons of detailed travel advice in there, so I suppose it’s still useful to some!

E helped me create the image above for my header, choose a layout (which I later changed) and then I was on my own. I had no choice but to dive in! I remember how nervous I was when I published my first post – now of course I don’t think twice about it.

The content of this blog has really evolved. I initially meant to focus solely on running, but other aspects of my life inevitably found their way into my posts too. Oh well! Once I am ready, I will set up a separate coaching site, as well as a nutrition site once I receive my RD license. I also have been meaning to completely revamp FFR…definitely a project for early 2012!

I am truly grateful to E for helping me get FFR off the ground. Sometimes you just need someone you trust to nudge you in the right direction. This blog has been an invaluable tool for me as I’ve explored changing careers, new running goals, various accomplishments and failures, travel adventures and other trivial and not so trivial things on my mind. I realize my audience may not always be interested in what I have to say, but writing has helped me work through important decisions, as well as celebrate all of the recent change in my life. In fact, starting this blog was the first step towards this change. I let go of my fear and finally made it happen, which is exactly what I had to do in order to quit my job, move back to the US and apply to grad school.

Overall, I am very happy with the progress I have made with FFR. I wish my blog were receiving a bit more traffic and regular comments, but I know I’ll get there with time. I don’t post as often as other bloggers, nor do I promote it very much beyond Twitter and Facebook, so all things considered, I’m doing fairly well. Most importantly, I’m having fun with it – and that’s the point of all this, right?

As of now, I have had about 19,500 views, with my busiest day at 976 views (a slightly freakish day due to a comment I made on a NY Times article). My average daily views for the year is around 60. Not horrible, but I have plenty of room for improvement!

Thank you all for reading FFR and for your support and encouragement throughout this past year. It’s been an eventful one, for sure! I know 2012 will be challenging, but I have faith that this next year has some wonderful things in store for me…

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2012!

I’m a proud Northern California girl, which means I have done some SoCal bashing throughout my life. I still prefer “my” part of the state, but I have to confess – after spending a few days in Santa Monica and Malibu last week, I can see the appeal. It’s nice down there!

I am incredibly excited to move back to NYC and begin my Master’s at NYU next month. However, this trip highlighted how much I love California, not to mention how painful it will be to return to a more extreme climate.

Let’s do a quick comparison based on my recent travels. On the left, I am gazing at a snow and ice storm on October 29th in NYC from inside a cozy apartment (to be fair, the following week was sunny, but very cold). On the right, I am walking along the beach on a sunny, warm day on December 16th in Santa Monica. You can’t fault me for fantasizing about taking my books to the beach and basking in the sunshine, but I suppose I also enjoy being inside with blankets and a cup of tea. California will have to wait a few more years for my permanent return…

Anyway, let me back up for a minute to explain why I was in LA, because I don’t go down there very often (my last trip was in 2003).

My Aunt offered me a frequent flyer ticket so that I could visit my grandma in San Antonio, which I had been wanting to do for ages. I had also been meaning to visit a close friend from high school who now lives in Santa Monica and has an adorable one-year old girl who I was dying to meet. My flight had to go through LA on my way back from Texas, so I figured I may as squeeze both trips into my week!

San Antonio was fun, despite the muggy, rainy weather. My grandma and I did a bit of sightseeing downtown, but we mainly just hung out and relaxed, which is exactly what I needed after frantically working on a grant application the day before I arrived. She always makes me laugh and has such great stories!

Running-wise, there wasn’t anywhere to go, since we were surrounded by a gigantic military base (the largest in the country, apparently). I wanted to keep up my fitness, so I hit the treadmill – or as my grandma called it, “the walking machine.” I nearly died laughing!

Here are a couple photos from Texas, including the view from my grandma’s apartment and a shot of us two “New Yorkers” (my grandma grew up in the Bronx). I wish I could’ve spent more time with her – we only had two and a half days, but we had a lot of fun together, as we always do.

My time in Santa Monica was equally short, but I managed to cram in a fair amount, particularly on the running front. The main purpose of my visit was of course to spend time with my friend and her beautiful daughter – like in Texas, it was really laid back and focused on simply enjoying each other’s company.

I kicked off my first full day with a wonderful 6M run along the Santa Monica beach path, pictured above. I prefer the rugged beauty of Northern California beaches, but for running purposes, it was nice for once to not have to worry about the tides or finding a flat, packed section of sand.

I didn’t run with my phone, but I had an opportunity later in the morning to take Sophie for a walk and snap some photos of my running route along the way.

As a side note, just because I’m talking about babies and beaches and have been so delinquent in my blogging this month, I want to post some recent photos of my niece, who is nearly five months old. Right before leaving for my Texas/SoCal trip, my sister and niece came down to Santa Cruz for a couple days. We took Elisia to our local beach for the first time, which was awesome. Check me out, rocking the baby carrier – she is getting so big!

Anyway, back to LA…Molly took me to an outdoor mall in Santa Monica, where we got some lunch (the mall had a really nice outdoor seating area with ocean views) and did a little shopping. I had the most delicious marinated pork burrito. I hate to admit it, but it was better than my favorite taqueria up here. I went back there for lunch today and my usual burrito just didn’t taste the same! I can’t help but also include this photo of some mini Sauconys I found while we were shopping for Sophie. Too cute!

Shopping was followed by a short stop at the beach to watch the sunset, which was incredible. Almost made me wish I had saved my run for later in the day!

I was pretty groggy from our girl’s night out, but managed to get myself out of bed early the next morning for another run. An old friend from high school (a Japanese exchange student my senior year, who now lives in Southern California) saw that I was in town via Facebook and suggested we go for a run together in Malibu.

I didn’t know him very well in high school, although I certainly remember him (we both ran cross-country, I didn’t compete my senior year). We become friends through Facebook in the last couple of years, after commenting on each other’s various running-related posts. He also organizes teams for the Big Sur Marathon relay (his team won last year), which is what caught my attention as I am dying to participate in that race (although mainly, I would like to do the full marathon, but a leg of it would be fun too). Hopefully will get a chance to participate in the near future!

He took me to Pepperdine University, where he got his B.S. in sports medicine and ran quite competitively as part of their cross-country team. He is now done with medical school and finishing up his residency in Physical medicine & rehabilitation – fascinating stuff!

It was great to see him after so many years, catch up in person and finally run together. He is WAY faster than me but kept the pace fairly slow so I could keep up. We ran a 3.5M loop from campus down to the beach and back along various trails. The views were spectacular! I snapped a couple photos before and after the run, while he brought his sports camera along to take some action shots.

As we were stretching, we discovered we were both wearing the same exact shoes – Saucony Omni 10’s! I thought that was pretty cool. We drove back to Santa Monica and stopped at a cafe to get these massive, delicious and beautiful lattes. Post-run coffee always hits the spot.

We had a great chat about our professional goals (we both like the idea of working with a team of other young, enthusiastic healthcare professionals, i.e. a sports doctor, nutritionist, physical therapist etc., to treat athletes), as well as plotting a potential destination race with his wife and E. We have our sights set on Tokyo Marathon 2013! I’ve always wanted to go there, and what better way to see a city than take over its streets with thousands of other people?!

Molly, Sophie and I had a fun, chilled out afternoon together, after a nice brunch with her husband. Here we are playing with various ribbons in our hair.

The following morning, I ran with another friend (from college) who I hadn’t seen in years and who got in touch with me (once again through Facebook) after seeing I was in town. I didn’t realize she was living in LA or that we could run together so comfortably (pace was perfect), so it was a pleasant surprise! I love reconnecting with friends through running. Two days in a row, too!

We ran on the same path in Santa Monica as I did two days prior, but this time we went out further to run a total of 8.2M at around 8:55 average pace. So much fun, particularly knowing that my whole wheat blueberry banana pancakes awaited me upon my return! Wouldn’t have been a Sunday without a long run and pancakes…

I had made the batter the night before, since I knew I would be starving when I got back to the house. As a result, they came out fluffier than usual but equally delicious. Sophie in particular was a huge fan, which made me happy!

Afterwards, we went for a stroll around the Santa Monica farmer’s market before I had to head to the airport. I saw this bike valet sign near the market – very LA!

And that concludes my last trip of 2011! It’s been nice to be home this week – I’ve had a chance to catch up on various things I’ve been meaning to do (including blogging – this is my 125th post, by the way), go for some runs, shadow a local running coach and spend some time with my parents. My Mom and I even celebrated the winter solstice last night in the mountains with her Native American drumming circle – how very Santa Cruz of us! I went once before, as I was preparing to move to London, so it was only fitting that I go back as I am about to begin this next chapter in my life in NYC. It gave me an opportunity to unplug, pause and reflect on this past year and what I hope to accomplish in 2012.

So what’s on my travel agenda in the coming year? Not much as of now, other than moving to the East Coast. It’s going to be very quiet in travel for awhile, compared to my 2011 adventures. That’s okay though – between being busy with school and lacking funds to pay for anything other than tuition and living expenses (I count running-related things as living expenses…), it will be difficult to squeeze in any non-essential trips. I’m actually looking forward to staying put though, after so much running around this year! We’ll see how long that feeling lasts…

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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

My latest photos

Asparagus stir fried to crunchy perfection with shallots and garlic - sooooo tasty! A great delicious and healthy summer side dish. Rough 18-hour travel day made better by our fav brunch @thesmithrestaurant, after a quick shower and nap! Avo toast with poached eggs, Brussels sprouts, and fresh grapefruit juice. 👌🏻 Peaceful moment early this morning as we get ready to fly back to the hustle and bustle of NYC! We don't exactly have that rested vacation feeling after our time in California & Hawaii with the baby, but it's been amazing to escape the city and be together as a new family in such beautiful places. See ya next time, Maui! 🌺 One of my favorite ways to explore when I travel is with my running shoes, and the best thing is when you discover new running routes in a place you've been going to for decades! Found a beautiful trail and paved running path through Kihei right from our condo - not quite the crazy volcano adventure we had last year, but a wonderful way to wrap up our Maui trip. #Repost @wellseek with @repostapp
・・・
Training hard for a race or event? Don't sell yourself short on your protein intake during recovery! @eatforendurance shares her of nutritious, protein-packed picks to refuel on your off days 👍#linkinbio #ExpertsWhoSeek Happy Summer Solstice! We love to grill when in Hawaii, especially all the delicious local fish. Here we have grilled Opakapaka (aka Hawaiian pink snapper) marinated in tamari sauce and fresh ginger with greens and fresh papaya. 👌🏻

Flying Tweets

Recent Posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 61 other followers

Oldies but goodies

Categories

%d bloggers like this: