Well, happy summer! I’m sorry I’ve been MIA but I have several good reasons for my absence. First and foremost, summer in Europe means holidays for many which means my work schedule becomes much lighter. Great for keeping up with my European Adventures but not so great for making money and paying bills. But I have been able to do a lot of more local, short trips on the cheap. Some examples include: Beaune, France, Bruges & Dinant, Belgium, Altfels & Saarburg, Germany, Upper Sur Lake in Northern Luxembourg & a hot air balloon ride in Thionville, France. And while I’m writing this, taking a long drive to Florence, Italy. I’ll be sure to update you on each of these trips in the near future.To help compensate my funds, I’ve also become a paid weekly contributor for RunnerClick. RunnerClick millions of readers with whom I’ve been able to share destination runs, exercise and rehabilitation programs, interviewing other inspiring runners, and reviewing up and coming running brand businesses. Go ahead and check them out, if you haven’t already. In the meantime, I’m honored to have been interviewed by Boston Voyager Magazine. Being able to share my story and hopefully inspire others to follow their dreams, puts a huge smile on my face.As I’m sure most of you are aware, my strong passion besides sport is travel. I’ve recently made a video entry for a contest through Travello to win an Ultimate Australian vacation and adventure trip. The contest ends this week and I would so much appreciate your support and clicking here to vote for my entry to help increase my chances to win this Epic prize! I’ve also been fortunate enough to live in the country of France and watch them win the World Cup this year in Russia. Although I’m not a huge soccer fan, it’s fun to be part of the excitement of a huge world sport. Allez Les Bleus, Champions du Monde! And to top it all off, I’ve started my 11th Marathon training for the NYC Marathon on November 4th. Training in the summer is not my favorite but running NYC is on my bucket list and brings me to 4 out of 6 in making my way to complete The Abbot World Marathon Majors. Doing NY also brings the opportunity to visit home and Boston right before my birthday!So, here’s the brief catch up on my side of the world. I’ll be back soon to dive deeper on my local escapes! See you soon!
I bet you’re all anxious to read about my latest travels to South East Asia but that will come in a series over the next couple of weeks. First, I need to review the biggest half marathon I’ve ever participated in yesterday, The Fitbit Semi de Paris Marathon.
I signed up for this half marathon in early January. Immediately after, I booked my trip to Singapore. I didn’t notice the closeness of my return being the same weekend as the race. Oh well, c’est la vie! One thing that did catch my attention upon the race sign up was the 62€ price tag attached to the race. Gulp, I’ve paid much less (at least half of this or more) to enter all the other European Halves I’ve participated in and even the Rome Marathon was only 55€. I swallowed my frugal pride and paid the overpriced entry fee, I mean it is Paris after all. But wait, this price tag does not include the train ticket to the city (~60€) nor the fact that there is no bib pick up the day of the race, now accommodations must be made. So if you’re an outsider to Paris, you’re now spending at least the weekend there.
Getting back from Singapore on Friday morning before the Sunday race, working a half day, then getting up Saturday for 9am to take the hour and twenty minute train to the city to then take 3-4 different metros (because of course it’s the weekend and due to work on some stations, a bunch of stations were closed), I finally made it to the expo at Parc Floral near Chateau Vincennes to grab my bib by 2:30pm. The expo itself was surprisingly well organized as long as you had your 3 pieces of essential paperwork: medical clearance (typical for most European races), the notification letter (emailed to you the week of) and a form of identification. From there you grab you race shirt (included in the price admission, thank goodness). Ladies received yellow, men got teal, both good quality tech shirts that fit true to size. From there you pass through the typical expo retailers, this race particularly was sponsored by Adidas where runners got 20% off apparel. Other booths included belts, medal holders, compression socks, the whole gamut. There were some fun, free photo booths and bicycle smoothie makers, even a little wine and cheese tastings combined with other future nearby race pamphlets. Overall a good showing where I spent about 45 Minutes moseying around grabbing free stuff here and there.
Staying with some friends of friends on the outskirts of the city, I finally made my way after a pasta dinner to bed by 8:15pm, the one good thing about jetlag.
This race, by the way, is huge, like 45,000 signed up – almost 37,000 finished huge! After some tea, toast, and bananas, I made my way back into the city around 7:30am to get back to Bois de Vincennes. The elite started at 9am and then waves every 10 minutes depending on your estimated finish times. I was in the 1:50 group with a 9:40am start. After a bag drop off and corral opening at 9:10, I waited a bit with others as the rain began. The weather wasn’t terrible though as the temps were pleasant enough for the long distance at 42F/6C.
The race course starts and ends at Bois de Vincennes, well equipped to hold the masses of people along with several portapotties, bag check, and lively music to keep us entertained until the gun start. The course heads out to the River Seine and makes it way behind Notre Dame, around Bastille, past Hôtel de Ville and back along the other side of the Seine to head back to the park. With the rain, we lost a bunch of spectators but diehard supporters were still out with clever signs like, “Smile if you’re not wearing underwear”. Lots of bands along the route braved the weather and pumped up some tired runners. Water and food stops were minimal to 3, each about 5km apart. No electrolytes, unfortunately, and with 5 miles left I could feel them missing as my overtired, swollen, jetlagged legs began to cramp. With such a huge race, I never had the chance to have enough space to find my own rhythm. I was constantly battling elbows, couples, walkers, you name it. I was weaving a lot just to find ample room. Once at a water stop my arm got tangled up in a woman’s head phones, yanking them right out of her ears. I heard the, “Owww”, and yelled back, “Sorry”, but really it was almost unavoidable as this race is really just too big. Finally the finish was near sight, but even if my tired legs wanted to sprint into the finish, the crowd of runners really limited a strong finish. Despite the rain, packed roads, lack of the electrolytes and spectators, jetlagged body and legs, I was still able to complete a sub-2 hour run in 1:58:00 even!
After the finish line, they corral you another 400m until you grab your medal, which by the way is one of the coolest as it doubles as a bottle opener also! Then another 200m to a bag with some goodies, water, bananas, and chips. Then you could finally exit the herd. The bag check, however, was an utter mess. After 5 minutes of the girl searching for mine, I was invited to hop over (haha hopping, get real!) the fence the search for the bag myself. After 15 minutes, myself, looking I finally found my bag two tables away from where it initially should have been. Poor organization to follow up the race unfortunately. Luckily, upon finding my bag I could quickly change into dry, warm clothes in a disgusting portapotty (this being harder than running the half, in my personal opinion). I then made my way back by metro (which bonus, was free for runners following the race) to head back to Gare de l’Est to make my way back to Metz.
After successfully determining the medal bottle opener worked a few times that evening I was back to bed by 8:30pm again. After a full night’s rest, I’ve rated this half a 7.5/10.
Last week, my FitBit Semi de Paris half marathon training program required a 10km race. I could not find a local one, but did find a 13.6km race this past Sunday only 15 minutes away. The price was right (9€) along with the location, so I said close enough and signed up. It took me about a day or two to realize the odd distance but they advertised a ‘royal buffet’ at the end and thought, “yes, this is the race for me”!
La Ronde du Val Saint Pierre, I realized is a race in a series of races put on throughout the year with a high attendance of local running clubs. This meant fast runners, a lot faster than myself. With only 574 participants, my main goals were to try to test my speed for as long as I could and to not come in last. I’m proud to admit, I achieved both!
The 10am start began in a small village called Mécleuves, 15 minutes south of Metz, France. Parking was tight and you could see several of the neighbors looking out the windows trying to figure out where the mass of people were coming from. A small community center that even had coffee to start and bathrooms with no lines, made the bib pick up, which included a paper time tracker to attach to your shoe, quick and flawless. To my surprise, we even received a simple, black, cotton long sleeve shirt which I graciously offered to Julien for Valentine’s Day. Love ya babe 😂😍.
The morning was cold (32F/0C) with a light, wintry mix to start. Not terrible conditions but the winds were somewhat unwelcome with gusts up to 15mph/24kph. The race began on time as we started with a gradual uphill into headwinds, the first of many. Attempting to stay in the middle of the pack, I quickly realized I’d need to put my best foot forward as I was up against experienced racers.
The course moved along in and out of quiet neighborhoods and picturesque countryside of surrounding villages (Chesny, Peltre, Jury, Frontigny). However, the winds and rolling hills questioned my abilities to keep up. I tried not to think too much about that and focused on my breathing and rhythm. With little markers at almost every Km (there may have been a few I personally missed), the time was passing rather quickly when all of a sudden we hit our first of two water stops at 5km in (2nd at 10km). The station consisted of a couple of table with several volunteers handing out water cups plus additional options for juice and cola, and plenty of snacks including granola bars, oranges, bananas, crackers, cakes, and sugar cubes. I thought, “Sweet. If this is just the water stop, I can’t wait for the buffet”!
At the 11km point, you pass through a tiny, one person at a time, have to duck your head tunnel, which luckily at this point the crowd was spreading thin. The final push of the last 2 km seemed to be all uphill. This was tough. I had a girl riding my left shoulder with a neon pink hat that, unknowingly to her, pushed me to keep going because I easily wanted to slow my pace on this uphill but I did not want her to beat me, so I chose to push. At the top of the hill was the race photographer where he caught photos of you either completely exhausted or thrilled to have reached the top. My photo was a small combination of both.
Finally finishing the loop course back at the small community center, I was thrilled with my time of 1:13 as it was my first ever race finish with a sub-9 minute per mile pace (8:44mpm/5:24mpk). No medals but all the women received a rose at the end. Besides I was anticipating the ‘royal buffet’. My hangry side got the best of me as the buffet was exactly our water stops. No pizza, pasta or champagne or bagels as I had been envisioning. With a PR in my 5k and 10k times I tried not to think about my hunger pains and irrational buffet beliefs and grabbed a piece of cake and tea and made my way back home.
As the holidays approach, media and marketing will sell you on thinking it’s the most wonderful time of the year (and hoping you spend that pretty penny too). While I hope nothing but good cheer for all, sometimes this time of year brings forth heartbreaking reminders of those we’ve lost, failed resolutions, being stuck in careers, relationships, or unsatisfied life choices, or just simply feeling lonely. I’m here to remind you that even though these times may play havoc on your emotions, you’re still amazing and now, not just January 1, is the perfect time to practice some self-love.
I’ve come up with some practical ways for you to bring back that lovin’ feelin’, woah that lovin’ feelin’:
There’s an account on Instagram I follow called @destressmonday and they also have a webpage here. Stereotypically, Monday’s are the “worst” but the account gives you little reminders to breathe, smile and think positively, not just on Mondays but for everyday of the week.
Start Saving Weekly to Give Yourself a Present/Trip
It may seem ironic to put away money when you know you probably should spend it towards the gifts for others this holiday, but how can you be your best for them if you don’t take care of yourself once in a while? Practicing some budgeting and rewarding yourself for making the means to grab something you really love or a getaway you’ve been craving for is not selfish, it’s making a goal, being diligent, and taking pride in your work. That’s an achievement!
Pay it Forward
If you are feeling slightly guilty for thinking about yourself, which you SHOULDN’T, you can always give back to those in need or just do random acts of kindness. Smile and hold a door open for someone, buy the person’s coffee behind you, volunteer at the local food pantry, give to charity. There are literally millions of ways to help and be kind and in the long run, you’ll feel better because you brightened someone’s day!
Listen to Inspiring and Interesting Podcasts
I might get a little heavy here. Personally, losing 3 family members over the past 5 years actually makes the holidays suck, to be brutally honest. My mom was the champion of Christmas with the decorations, several little ceramic villages, lights, dinners, pies, and presents. She made the holidays feel lively, animated, and she made everyone around feel loved. This will be my 4th Christmas without her. It doesn’t get easier, but I know that by holding everything in could be disastrous. When I’m out on long runs, I like to listen to podcasts to pass the time, like This American Life with one episode in particular talking about a way to speak to loved ones who have passed and reconciling with others who are still here. The first act is discusses a documentary in Japan about the Wind Phone. It’s a non-working, old, rotary phone in a white phone booth box on a man’s garden that over 10,000 people have visited or used. It’s popularity began following the 2011 Tsunami and became a way for friends and family members, of those lost or taken from the disaster, to find a way to speak to their loved ones and grieve peacefully. I did end up watching the documentary here at this link, but be forewarned if you’re human, you’ll probably cry. The second act is about two elderly brothers, in their 80’s, who held a somewhat unknowingly grudge and hadn’t really spoken in about 20 years. The son of one helped to reconcile them, knowing time was not on their side and helped guide them to have an adult conversation about their grievances which helped to take some ‘weight’ off their shoulders. Both stories are healthy reminders to allow for time to think about your loved ones who are no longer here and to not wait to reach out to those who still matter to you while they are still here.
On a lighter note, because there are only 12 days left until Christmas there’s a hashtag going around called #12days12ways. It’s a reminder to reflect back and document, however you wish, 12 ways your life has changed positively over the past year.
Here are mine:
January: Got to celebrate the new year with my friend Liz, who visited us in France from NYC
February: Watching the Patriots win the SuperBowl
March: Spending a week in the Swiss Alps snowboarding
April: Completing my 9th Marathon in Rome, Italy and during that same week watch Julien crush his PR in the Paris Marathon
May: Completing the Luxembourg night half marathon, the hottest race I’ve ever done in my life
June: Growing my influence in the running, fitness and wellness community on Instagram and having my hard work, “little hobby”, get recognized with sponsorships and ambassadorships from companies like Under Armour and Nordstrom
July: Getting a new kitten and fur baby, Brady
August: Visiting my one of my oldest friends Dorothy, in Rotterdam, Netherlands while at the same time being lucky enough to have her on this side of the pond with me
September: Twofer, sneaking home on a super discount flight for Labor Day weekend to go on, one of my best friend’s, Katie’s sailboat and completing my 10th marathon and 3rd World Major in Berlin
October: Having my Dad visit for a couple weeks and then all of us flying back to the US for 3 weeks, 2 weddings and an east coast adventure
November: My birthday in Budapest, Hungary with my American bestie here in Metz, Carmen
December: Having Julien’s family embrace and welcome me into their home for Christmas this year
Here’s to ending the year on a positive note and feeling optimistic for what is to come!
If you’re anything like me, I’m a terrible procrastinator for gift giving. Relying on gift guides have saved me a few times in the past and I’m hoping I can share some of my favorites and save you some angst going into this holiday season.
Here are a few of my recommendations for the runner, fitness buffs and wannabes in your life! And grab some for yourself while you’re at it 😉.
For the world traveler (like me):
- Topo Designs
Topo Designs durable bags and outerwear that have a lifetime guarantee. Quality gear that will get your loved one (or you) to and from all your adventures.
Solepack is based out of NYC. They have created a novel concept for a bag accessory to carry your kicks. It attaches to the outside of your backpack with a couple simple snaps, keeping your dirty shoes separate and without taking up space inside your bag.
- Hello Regalo
Hello Regalo is a wearable pocket that uses one of the strongest magnets to keep all your goods on you and keep you hands free. The pocket is water resistant and keeps your money, credit cards, keys, phone and more, safe and dry so you can focus on your activity with peace of mind.
Janji based in Boston, MA, designs running activewear with collections that ties back to traveling and running around the planet. And not only do they create unique and inspired patterns, 10% of the proceeds is put towards a clean water initiative for developing countries. Shop and give back, it’s a win-win.
For the Fashionista:
- Zella by Nordstrom
Zella by Nordstrom is one of my favorite activewear lines. First, they produce long lasting garments. Second, the products are stylish while at the same time comfortable, you’ll even forget you are wearing them until you are reminded when you get that compliment, “I love those leggings. Where are they from?”
- JORD wood Watches
JORD Wood Watches are sustainable watches, designed by artists for the people who have places to be. The modern designs are stunning pieces of work that are eye-catching but also perfect for the minimalist, apres workout.
- Outdoor Voices
Outdoor Voices creates activewear that are simple but cozy and functional. They are perfect for that inner child within the adult who enjoys running, yoga, or just having a mocha latte.
For the one who cares about inner and outer health:
- FRE Skincare
FRE Skincare has specifically thought of a skincare line for the woman who works out. They have developed a 100% vegan and cruelty-free line for the athletic woman to help maintain a healthy aesthetic. The line consists of a cleanser, serum, and moisturizer that takes into account the process of sweat and helps keep a fresh and blemish free face. I have just recently started using their products and have felt a noticeable, positive difference during and post workouts in hydration and reduced skin irritation. FRE is a MUST skincare routine for women that sweat. GET 25% off on your first FRE set by using my code WANDERLUST, valid only for the next 48 hours!
ApexM has created a unique mild muscle stimulator to help naturally build efficiency of female pelvic floor muscles. Hitting my mid-30’s and staying healthy is important to me, inside and out. As a healthcare professional, I know the waitlist to see a women’s health physical therapist can be extraordinarily long for those who suffer from urinary incontinence. This tool can be discreetly used at home while providing effective results for those with urinary or sexual health issues. As a woman and an athlete, I think that is pretty awesome.
- Legend Compression Wear
Legend Compression Wear I’ve talked several times about my love for the Legend Compression Brand. They provide Graduated Compression Technology that helps to improve efficiency during activity and recovery following. Use this link to get $15 OFF!
Invisii has developed revolutionary workout underwear. Light-weight, breathable, comfortable and hygienic, essentials for sport underwear. They allow workouts to happen without riding up or embarrassing smells, which are real problems any woman who is active is aware of and now no longer has to suffer from.
- Roll Recovery
Roll Recovery designed out of Boulder, CO by a runner and cyclist, has developed award winning massage and recovery products for endurance athletes. I’m obsessed with my R3.
For the one who needs a little extra motivation:
- Mind Over Matter Athlete
Mind Over Matter Athlete out of Houston, TX, brings the inspiration and motivation to life with their leisure wear and tri-kit catch phrase concepts like Mind Over Matter, I’m All Heart, and Leave No Doubt. Use the code MMKRISTY to get 10% off!
- Momentum Jewelry
Momentum Jewelry creates some of my favorite jewelry that can be worn during athletics. Each with a motivating tag-line or one that can be custom made, they are little reminders of strength. During the Berlin Marathon my “Run and Be Happy” wrap bracelet was right next to my Garmin watch to remind me to smile despite the pain and to keep a positive outlook on my race, it was a literal reminder for me to keep going. I’m adore with my wraps! I also have two 30% discount codes and two 40% discount codes that I will giveaway on Instagram @thefitwanderluster later this week. Be sure to follow to be kept in the loop for your chance to win!
OK…on your mark, get set, go SHOPPING!
A couple weeks ago, November 13th exactly, was the day I was born on! 27, I mean 37 😜, isn’t so bad. I’m healthy, happy and seeing the world. Can’t really get better than that?!
For my birthday, I decided to go on a little getaway girls weekend with my friend Carmen. Looking up the low cost airline options, we decided on Budapest, Hungary.
We took a train ride to Paris and spent the Friday night having Thai food and hitting up Rue du Lappe for a little bit of bar hopping. Then we made our great escape on Saturday morning on a direct flight to Budapest with Easy Jet.
Upon arrival in Budapest, we found public bus transportation that would get us to VII District and the old Jewish Quarter on the Pest (or Pesh) side.
Buda and Pest are the two areas that make up Budapest. Buda is the hilly side with old churches, monuments and the Castle. Pest is the flat land that contains the old town with all the bars, restaurants, spas and Parliament. The River Danube divides the two with several beautiful bridges connecting them along the way. Budapest is the 9th largest city in the EU and has a long war torn history. In 1949, it was declared that Budapest was under communist regime until 1956 when the Hungarian Revolution began. The city has developed and has one of the oldest metro systems along with building strengths in other areas like commerce, finance, art, technology and entertainment. And we planned to pack as much of that in within 2 days.
We first had lunch at a very friendly restaurant called BB’z. Then we made our way over to take a River Cruise Tour to see the Hungarian Parliament and Castle lit up at night. Weather in November isn’t ideal and we sat through cold, wet, and windy weather, but the boat had booze and inside seating so we survived! We walked back through Jozsef Nador Square where they already begun their Christmas Market and we stopped to have a drink. Then we got dressed up to have dinner with traditional Hungarian plates which includes a lot of meats, dumplings and heavy sauces. And after, we made our way through a neat, little alley way called Kazinczy Street that hosts several bars and pubs. We made our final stop to the most famous bar called Szimpla Pert Pub which is an art gallery by day and club at night.
A 5am return called for some sleeping in, donuts and then pampering ourselves at one of the most famous thermal spas in Hungary (btw they have over 123 of them), Szechenyi Spa Baths, which has 15 indoor and outdoor pools. Getting full day passes online for 16€ (or almost 5000 Hungarian Forint) and 40€ for hour long Thai massages, not only was it quite reasonable, it was completely worth it!
That evening we found an Asian fusion restaurant and made our way back to the hotel to prep for another evening out. Our neighbors in the hotel were having quite the party, a few guys from Manchester celebrating a stag party. Because we’re such great neighbors we ended up becoming friends and hitting up the near by Karaoke Bar. So much fun!
A fun and memorable weekend in affordable, cultural, and lively Budapest. Be sure to check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!
Last week I went over some day and weekend trips that I went on, around a little bit of Europe, after my completion of the Berlin Marathon. The purpose was to show my number 1 spectator, my dad from Massachusetts, a little bit of the surrounding areas that are near to where I live in France. You can read it here.
After he stayed with us for a couple weeks, we (me, Julien, and my dad) all flew to the USA in early October. This would be mine and Julien’s first vacation of the year together since snowboarding in the winter. We had a few reasons to make a 3 week trip…first: I was a bridesmaid in 2 weddings, second: we wanted to hit up a few spots Julien had never been to before, and third: if you’re going to fly somewhere that takes at least a half day to get to and throw in some jet lag, you should make it worth your while.
So here is a continuation from last weeks blog, part 2: USA.
Wedding number 1 of my trip back home included an old roommate and one of my best friends from Northeastern University, Jocelyn and her groom Ryan. The wedding was held at The Candlewood Inn in Connecticut. It was a blast and I wish them much love and happiness in the future!
New York, New York
Being so close to NYC, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to catch a few days in the city that never sleeps and visit my college friend, Liz. We kept the days packed by venturing out to Queens for a street art run tour with my instagram friend Marnie, who has the blog RunStreet, visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, brunching with an old high school friend, and then the best part of the trip, taking a helicopter tour over the Hudson, Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. Awesome trip with awesome people and Liz just finished her second NYC Marathon yesterday while battling an injury, this girl is a champ!
Wedding number 2 was held just outside Philadelphia. We were able to take a short day trip to grab food at the Reading Terminal Market and see Liberty Bell and the Rocky Steps. The wedding was for my niece Kailee and her husband Chris. It was held at Normandy Farms and gave me a chance to see a lot of my family in one place. Those lovebirds are having the time of their lives in Disney World now.
From Philly, we continued driving south through Delaware and Maryland on our way to D.C. Another Instagram friend @clairerunsthere, graciously offered her apartment and took us on a fun run tour around the capital for us to catch a glimpse of the national monuments.
From D.C. we took an early morning flight to Miami. Here we finally were able to catch up on a few days of R&R.
After a few days of fun in the sun, we finally flew back to spend our last weekend in Boston for a dinner with friends, Halloween and to attend a New England Patriots game. With a win, it was a great way to close out our trip.