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!
Making my way back from Cambodia, I had a lot on my plate planned for seeing more of Singapore. An early rise at 8am & after breakfast, I had a long run planned and started by making my way towards Arab Street and the Kampong Glam District.
This area hosts many mosques along with brightly painted buildings full with street art, souvenir & coffee shops. It’s serene, hip, & cool. Perfect for colorful photo opportunities.
After exploring a bit, I made my way over to East Coast Park. A perfect area made up of a long stretch of walking, running & bike paths parallel to the beach and lined with easy going restaurants.
East Coast Beach
After a 13 miles I was ready to hit the beach. After a quick swim, I showered up at one of the free public restrooms equipped with showers and caught a bus back into town to stroll in the Botanical Gardens.
A huge park with several species of flowers, plants and trees, one could spend an entire day in its peace and tranquility.
This busy day had me tired early so I just grabbed some take out and planned my day 7 which included a day trip to Indonesia. Check in next blog for a day in Bintan, Indonesia!
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.
At the end of last year, I was contacted by FRÉ Skincare to try their 123FRÉ skincare resilience set that was created specifically for women who sweat. I was a bit hesitant as I’ve had some skin sensitivities over the past couple of years causing several trips to my dermatologist. After reading about the products which are hypoallergenic, dermatologically tested, while at the same time vegan & cruelty free, I found they use a specialized Argania Active Complex. The amazing benefits of Argan Oil include combatting skin damage and signs of aging while strengthening the skin to work against extreme climatic conditions. Plus, the company gives back to the environment by planting an Argan Tree at the end of each year for each 123FRÉ set sold to empower the women workforce of Morocco. I decided I had to give it a test run myself.
My typical routine used to include store bought cleansing creams, toners, and moisturizer, not necessarily for any specific skin type, match of brand, or price tag. Most of the time I have clear skin, but this would ebb and flow depending on workout training schedules, hormones, or what I ate. I was never 100% confident my skin would be clear with my old skincare routine. That led to a lack of self-confidence because I wanted my outer appearance to appear healthy, equally to my effort in improving my fitness. I realized I probably wasn’t making the same effort for my skin by just using random products that were on sale that month.
In December, I began the switch and started daily using the baseline products from the 123FRÉ skincare line. This would be a good test too as I had begun my training for the Paris Half Marathon, so I would be running 4 times a week, strength training 2 times a week, and having an active recovery rest day including yoga. 7 days of sweat to see if FRÉ lived up to it’s mission to provide healthy, glowing, blemish free skin for women who sweat.
The first line of defense is the Purify Me cleanser. It’s lightly beaded formula makes me feel refreshed after a long day by gently clearing toxins. Next is the Revive Me Serum. This is like an illuminating light with a little clean up crew in a cream form. I can see my face glowing and my fine lines becoming finer. Lastly, the Protect Me moisturizer with SPF built in. It’s like an armour shield for my face. It hydrates my skin while creating a natural protection barrier from harsh elements.
After 2 and half months of use, I’m thrilled with my skincare routine. I’m glowing and my confidence has escalated! I’ve even had the amazing opportunity to become an ambassador for Fré Skincare because I’ve loved what the line has has done for me personally and can’t help but share it’s incredible benefits onto you!
Left: Before, Right: After using 123FRÉ
I completely recommend 123FRÉ skincare if you’re looking for a simple solution to keep your skin hydrated, protected from the signs of aging and environmental damage, and you want CLEAR COMPLEXION with an awesome natural glow. An added bonus, the 123FRÉ set will last over 3 months, which means you can enjoy luxurious natural skincare for a cost of less than a dollar a day!!
So, don’t miss the unique opportunity to start 2018 with healthy, strong skin, that reflects your healthy, strong lifestyle! And as an added bonus FRÉ skincare is having a unique opportunity to enjoy a special 1+1 for Valentine’s Day. Order a 123FRÉ set for yourself and get a second one FREE for someone you love!
Head to Freskincare.com and order 2 sets and pay for only 1 using my code WANDER. Offer valid for the next 48 hours (February 7-9th, 2018)
I’ve read hundreds of articles and blogs on ways to become a faster runner. While most include practical information on performing flexibility exercises, hill repeats, intervals and strides, I’ve come to realize these tips help no one if you’re doing things to negate the process.
I have to be the first to admit, I never wanted to be a faster runner. I claimed to run such long distances to eat and drink what I wanted. I had zero motivation to put further pain on myself in order to have a faster time. Being average was, and still is, perfectly pleasing for me at times, because I’m not in competition with anyone but me.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t change my mind at any point either. For 2018, some of my ambassador programs asked for my goals. First, to pick a race and second, for the time. Over the past 12 years of having participated in distance running, I’ve seen my marathon times get a little slower by 30 minutes, as well as my half marathon times getting slower by 15-20 minutes. The half is my favorite distance and I decided this year will be the year that just because I’m getting older, doesn’t mean I have to be getting slower.
I wanted to share some tips on what to avoid when wanting to improve your times, whether it’s 1 mile or 26.
1. Lack of desire
As I mentioned before, I never claimed to be fast. When asked about running, I’d say I could run slow for a really long time. Completing 10 marathons and dozens of half marathons, are an accomplishment, regardless of time, and something to be proud of. However, I always knew where my comfort zone was and I stuck to it. I had no desire to push to be faster and I was ok with that thought process. But all of a sudden, my desire to step out of my comfort zone changed this year. And I thought, that’s ok too! No one is trapped into saying and doing one thing for the rest of her life. Getting faster isn’t a must, but choosing to self-develop isn’t a bad thing either.
Paris Marathon 2016: 4:49:59 compared to Boston Marathon 2006: 4:13:15
2. Not setting a goal
Marathon training comes with lots of questions from others. Usually the first question is why, then the next is usually what time do you want to finish. (Although, one of my favorites is if I plan to win). Each marathon is different and unique just like the individual running it. You can plan and prepare to your hearts content and still the race day can go as expected or not. Regardless of the unknown for a particular race, a goal needs to be set. Whether it’s your first or not, having no expectation can defeat the purpose and deflate your drive. For example, at a yearly review your boss asks for your objectives and you wrote down, “I come to work to get a pay check”. Hell, I know some of us do do that, but you’re decreasing your chances to advance or promote yourself. It’s a similar thought process with running. If you say you JUST want to finish the race, while it may be true, you let fear start to take control. Bringing me to my next point…
3. Fear of pain or the unknown
As a long distance runner, I know pain is inevitable. Whether it’s pain in my legs, lungs, gut, or mind, after a certain point in the game you may feel discomfort in one, if not all, of these areas. This is why only a small percentage of the world participates in a marathon. If it was easy, then everyone would do it. I think one of the greatest building blocks in life is doing something that scares you once in a while. Fear holds us back from doing a lot of things and then worrying makes us reflect poorly on ourselves and actions. What ifs, statistically, usually never happen and a mindset of I can will take us a much longer way then not trying at all.
4. Negative self talk & comparing yourself to others
Ahh, social media…I am truly passionate about and enjoy Instagram (IG), one may call it a slight addiction to be more specific. My boyfriend can confirm this. However, I use this platform as a way to motivate others to get moving along with finding my own inspiration to be a better athlete through others. Whether it’s an inspiring quote (@xpatrunner, @2xpa_, and @themarathonmaracus are really good at this), a scenic running view (@runjanji, @rundezvousralph, @livehardxlovehard are a couple of my favorites), or seeing hard-working moms hit a Boston Qualifying time in their first marathon attempt or doing it time and time again (check out @daniellehartruns, @clairerunsthere, @jennammchugh, @bettinarunswi to be simply inspired), there are literally thousands and thousands of amazing runners out there to find motivation. But the little square world can suck you in, if you aren’t careful. While I positively use IG to better myself in fitness, the ugly side of the coin is you could begin to compare yourself to these athletes and wonder why you aren’t as good, fast, lean, or strong-minded as them. We have to self-love and respect our own abilities first, then we can strive to become better, if that’s something we choose to do. But if we’re constantly putting ourselves down for where we are currently not, the cycle of pity and despair can override our thought processes. The lovely thing I admire most about running is that it can be an individual confidence builder, but in order for this to be achieved, the only person we should be competing against is ourself.
5. Doing it alone
Here is where 2018 has differed from any training cycle I’ve done in the past. I’ve joined a free weekly running group concentrating on interval training. The group is huge, I’m talking 200 people and the levels range from beginner to advanced. The intimidation factor is none (despite a foreign language barrier). The group is encouraging, kind, and helps you to push outside your comfort zone. My goals feel more attainable than when I’m pushing by myself, as my own thoughts and fears overtake me. Running with the group has been a real confidence booster in setting out to become a faster runner.
Photo credit: Sebastien Lauer
My goal for 2018 is to run a half marathon under 1:50 as a high aspiration, under 2 more realistically and to run a 4 hour marathon. What are some of the things you do to get faster? What are your 2018 goals?
Hi there! I took a little time off around the holidays. I hope everyone enjoyed theirs! I bet some of you have even set up some new year resolutions to help motivate you to put a healthy lifestyle in the forefront of 2018. Maybe you’ve decided to start practicing some self love by journaling or meditating, or have an urge to run a 5 or 10k while also regaining some strength and flexibility. I couldn’t agree more that bettering your mind and body are of utmost importance, but I bet a majority of you don’t think about the full concept of your “whole” body. So I want to ask…how’s your pelvic floor?
Are you experiencing urinary leakage? Bowel problems? Pain with sexual intercourse? Maybe you just assumed this was a normal part of going through post-partum or simply due to aging. Well, my friend, it’s not. And guess what…athletes are at an increased risk of pelvic floor dysfunction due to higher impact forces placed on them. Whether you’re a trained athlete or not, pelvic floor dysfunction is commonly under diagnosed or misdiagnosed, therefore leaving you thinking you just have to suffer and put up with it. I’m here to tell you, that’s not the case and oftentimes can be treated conservatively!!
First most, as a physical therapist who formally worked at Marathon Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine in Massachusetts with some of the finest women’s health therapists in the state, I highly recommend seeing a specialized PT to correctly determine your individual dysfunction and therapy regime. Some issues can be more complex and require a professional team of doctors, therapists and psychologists. Therefore, it’s always best to consult with specialized professionals before beginning any new routine.
Secondly, for adult women suffering from involuntary loss of urine while either coughing, laughing, sneezing or exercising (aka stress incontinence) or those of us who also suffer from symptoms of urgency or frequency there is a device that can help within the comfort of your own home.
InControl Medical has reached out to me, as a physical therapist and athlete, to use and provide an unbiased review of their product ApexM. ApexM is a hand-held powered muscle stimulator to help assist pelvic floor strengthening, along with an exercise program from their app. The patented muscle stimulation delivers a rhythmic contraction to your pelvic floor muscles and at same time provides resistance to help simultaneously activate and strengthen your pelvic floor.
ApexM is simple to use because it is accompanied with an app for your smart phone that provides step-by-step, easy to understand terminology and, additionally, a professional and all-women run customer support team. The design of the product is comfortable and requires a suggested use of 5-10 minutes a day for 2-4 weeks, with each session slightly increasing the stimulation as your pelvic floor strengthens. Once symptoms reduce the product can used just 1-2 weekly for maintenance. The best part?! No prescription needed. I’m amazed at the ease and efficiency of this product.
This topic does not have to be embarrassing or taboo. I’m proud to work on keeping my entire body healthy and hope to do that for as long as I can, and if I can use a product like ApexM to help simplify the process, I’m all for it! Conveniently enough, they are having a sale of $125 off with the code: Cure125
Please go to ApexM website to learn if this device is a right fit for you as it is not intended for everyone.
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!