13.6km Race Recap, wait what?!

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.



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Best Skincare Line for Women who Sweat

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)

5 Things to Avoid if You Want to Run Faster

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?

Holiday Gift Guide for Runners, Fitness Buffs or the Wannabe in your Life

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.

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  • Solepack

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.

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  • 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.

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  • Janji

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:

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  • 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?”

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  • 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.

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  • 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!

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  • ApexM

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.

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  • 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!

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  • Invisii

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.

 

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  • 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!

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  • 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!

The Boa System: Fit to go Further

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been selected to be part of #TeamBoa. If you aren’t aware, The Boa System has branched into the running world to combine their innovative technology with top brand shoes to enhance your running experience.

Best known in the cycling world with over 16 years experience and used by over 100 of the Tour de France cyclists, The Boa System has made a name for themselves. Their technology has also been widely used in golf shoes, snowboarding boots, utility boots and even in advancing medical bracing systems for preventative and post-operative care. Most recently while working closely with several top running brands, they’ve put their system to the test in the running world. They are a brand I am proud to stand by and run with.

What is The Boa System?

It’s a patented system combining 3 integral parts…

1. A micro-adjustable dial

2. Super-strong lightweight laces

3. Low friction lace guides

The system couldn’t be easier to use. You push to engage, turn to tighten, and pull up for quick release.

The system provides a noticeable comfort across the front of the foot that isn’t found with typical laces. That is a nice feeling to run without worrying about irritation or your laces coming untied. The Boa System provides peace of mind to really let you focus your attention to the purpose of why you put the shoes on in the first place: running.

The best part about this company is how they back their product up. The Boa System dials and laces are guaranteed for lifetime on the product they are featured on. That’s customer service at their finest!

Combined with The Boa System, I’ve been fortunate enough to also receive the most comfortable, highest quality running kit from Outdoor Voices, sports underwear from Invisii, and a classic duffel bag from Topo Designs to carry it all in. Outdoor Voices materials are the softest I’ve ever felt while providing long lasting materials for performance enhancement and durability. I could live in my Outdoor Voices joggers, no joke.

While looking good on the outside, Invisii underwear works undercover. Providing hygienic, breathable and comfortable underwear, Invisii allows you to workout without thinking about panty lines or scrunching up in uncomfortable places while trying to perform at the top of your game.

My Topo Designs Classic Duffel Bag got me and my gear to Budapest, Hungary last week to celebrate my birthday (future blog on my trip there to come)! The durable bag is large enough to get me through the weekend with day, night, and workout outfits, but also compact enough to get me on my flight with just a carry-on. Thanks to Topo Designs, I was ready for my destination. Being a tourist is no excuse to not get a workout done!

I can’t wait to sign up for 2018 races now and begin training with Team Boa!

What are your thoughts on The Boa System gear? Have you heard about them or tried them out? Let me know!

A Review: Legend Compression Wear 

I’ve recently become an ambassador for Legend Compression Wear and was given a pair of Compression Perfomance Socks to try during my marathon training runs.

I’ve never been one to think about running accessories that could provide benefit during and after my runs outside of proper footwear, chafing cream, and a good sports bra. However, I’ve learned I’m behind the times and have found these compression socks to be game changing.

Legend Compression Performance Socks are designed with comfort in mind. Their slogan is #rightnottight. With the runner and athletes in mind, the compression enhances power and endurance while supporting the lower leg and foot. Their unique Graduated Compression Technology assists to improve blood flow and oxygen levels. When those two systems work more efficiently, you have the increased ability to train harder and recover faster.

Before Legend compression socks, I’d have sore, achey calves with intermittent left plantar fascia following runs even as short as 30 minutes. Now, after using Legend Compression Performance Socks, I notice an efficient improvement in recovery after all my long runs. As an added bonus, I’ve had a reduction in my left heel pain as well. These socks have become part of my long run program. 

Are you like me, a late compression user? Take it from me, don’t wait any longer. They come in classic, solid colors, fit accurately, and are more affordable than some other name brands out there. As a physical therapist, I not only recommend these for athletes but for those of us who work or stand on our feet all day or those who frequently travel. An added bonus, as your ambassador, my lucky readers get $15 off their first order! Click Here for your discount!

Recap: ING Night Marathon of Luxembourg 

This past weekend, I ran the ING Night Marathon of Luxembourg. The race included a half marathon distance, full marathon, and a team relay marathon. I opted for the half while Julien did the full. 

Me and Julien at the start

Me and Julien at the start

First off, as I mentioned in last week’s blog Tips for Hot Race Weather, it was going to be a hot one. And it was so incredibly hot. At race time which was a 7pm start (remember it’s a night run, however the sun was still blaring up for a good hour and a half into the run), the temps were at 88F/31C. Holy Moly.

Getting to the start was a little chaotic. The highway closed the ramp to Kirchberg from the French side, making everyone detour with poorly visible signage, especially for those who aren’t familiar with the area. Once making our way back to the city, we discovered most parking was brought to a single lane entrance to the nearby shopping center. This was slow and frustrating dealing with parking for 15,000 runners.

Leading up to race day, I was drinking 4L of water. On race day, the steak continued and then some. I initially wanted to wear shorts, basically wear as little articles of clothing as possible, but even on the walk from parking the car with 2x application of chaffing gel, I knew my thighs wouldn’t let me run in shorts. So I switched quickly into some Capri leggings in the bag drop off area.

The start and finish of the race is at the LuxExpo in Kirchberg, Luxembourg. It’s a huge hall to fit the finish line, which was indeed inside, food court, bag drop off and even temporary showers were brought in on trucks. 

My corral

My corral

A little sign of encouragement

A little sign of encouragement


The start had 7 corrals mixed with the two distances plus team relay, I was in 5th and it took me close to 15 minutes to cross the start from the gun. The race organizers reminded us to take it easy with the temps and actually introduced an additional water stop starting early at the first mile instead of at the first 5km, then they were placed approximately every 2km. Each station was mostly well stocked with water, electrolyte drink, energy bars and oranges. Here is where I saved myself, besides starting about 30 seconds slower pace than usual, I took always two waters (one to drink and the other to pour on top of my head) and at every other stop I took an electrolyte drink. And with this routine, I saved myself from cramping or worse heat stroke. 

Thanks to my friend JJ for capturing my triple fisting

Thanks to my friend JJ for capturing my triple fisting

The course is relatively wide open through Kirchberg, running through the main roads that were blocked off to traffic and stayed mostly flat. Heading over the bridge towards Glacis Parking, we caught a glimpse of the elite making their way back. I heard that even the elite were up to 15 minutes off pace due to the temperature too. 

The atmosphere at Glacis was a big party with flamenco dancers, drums beating, drunk spectators everywhere screaming and cheering you on. It seemed like an awesome time! We then made our way through the luxurious neighborhoods of Limperstberg, where the one way streets became a little narrower and fresh legs were turning over for the first exchange in the team relay. The neighborhood really gets into the spirit though and so many kind neighbors brought out water hoses for the runners while they laughed and casually sipped Champagne. Again, if I wasn’t running, this seemed like a really good time! 

Heading back towards Glacis we made a turn into the Public Park. Here the race track got super narrow and made it impossible to pass other runners, so you were stuck for a bit with a controlled pace, which I didn’t mind all that much as I already adapted to not setting PRs and just to have fun. 

Then we made our way into the old city center. This was easily my favorite part of the race! We split off from the marathoners at Place de Guillaume by the town hall and the half marathoners took a turn towards the palace and city bars where people yelled, cheered, and even did the wave. Really next year I may seriously need to consider being a spectator, it was such a party. 

Passing by one more time through Glacis, we made our quiet exit back over the bridge towards Kirchberg again. Here I started to see several runners starting to crash and burn, requiring serious medical attention with still 5km to go. It was eerily quiet as we lost a lot of the spectators and the course started a slow, progressional incline back to the finish. I can see why this could play havoc on dehydrated individuals. With about 2km left to go, we saw the first male marathoner making his way back at about 2:06. Its astonishing what these professionals can do. Finally, I made my way back towards the expo, where a crowd surged again right before the finish. The actual finish line was 200m inside the expo with a big blue carpet and disco lights and loud music. It was super interesting and helped me get inspired to sprint my tired legs in for a 2:12 performance. With easy access to finishers medal, drinks, showers, and bag access, the race organizers really thought of everything. 

Course map courtesy of ING

Course Map courtesy of ING


After the finish, I met up with my friends Lindsey, who finished her first half marathon, and her husband and another friend Aline, who participated in the team relay, for some celebratory beers while waiting to cheer on Julien in the full marathon. 

Finishing half marathons deserves a beer or two

Finishing half marathons deserves a beer or two


Overall, a moderately challenging race that got a bad rap due to the heat.

Julien at the finish

Julien at the finish

Me at the finish

Me at the finish