I feel like we’ve talked the marathon training and actual race to death, but it didn’t seem right not to wrap things up with a “life after the marathon” post.

As I mentioned before, there’s a lot of post-race soreness. While I was able to walk down stairs (mostly) normally about five days after the race, I gave myself a full week off of any exercise.

When I took my first run the day after we got back, things were a little ugly. My pace was more than a full minute slower than normal, and my legs felt like they were full of lead. I had initially planned on running five or six miles, but I only managed to eke out a little under four.

I read somewhere that post-marathon, you should give yourself some time off and then do your taper weeks in reverse. So really, I could just say I was following directions.

But honestly, my legs just weren’t working quite like they used to.

Since then, I’ve run about four more times. The third run was the first one where I felt pretty much back to normal, but I still haven’t gone more than eight miles.

One really good thing about the training schedule is that I’m already on a pattern of working out five or more times a week, so waking up early for classes or runs isn’t nearly as hard as it used to be.

And, you know. Swimsuit season, or whatever. (Though for me, it looks more like wedding season than anything else…I have six this year.)

Speaking of classes, I’m going to have to add a lot more yoga, barre, or pilates into the mix — my flexibility is shot from training. It’s mostly my own fault; I didn’t stretch after runs nearly as much as I should have. But it is also injury-related, as I developed a fun case of sciatica in the second half of training. Hopefully a few recovery-based classes will help stretch that out.

The one injury that seems to be improving (mostly) is my plantar fasciitis (these names, amiright?). The heel pain is still there in the morning, especially after a run, but not nearly as crippling as it was a year ago.

The only other thing I’ve had to contend with is the tapering of the hungers. I’m used to eating more food, more often. And because I’m no longer burning 1,800+ calories every weekend, that’s not really a sustainable system.

Fortunately, my sweet tooth has calmed down since I stopped training. Now that it’s spring, I’m swapping out more of the carbs I had to eat before with fruits and vegetables. Basically anything I can eat a lot of without eating thousands of calories.

In general, I feel better post-marathon than I thought I would. It’s nice having more free time an feeling less tethered to the training schedule — I can actually try other workouts now!

Speaking of which, I owe you a gym review, so stay tuned.

Other marathon runners: Do my complaints sound familiar? Or have I branched off into my own realm of broken-down-ness?

So I know I said I was done with the vacation posts, but there’s one aspect of French culture that we have not yet discussed, and I believe it bears discussion.

French customer service.

I’m not even sure if I should call it that because, really, customer service doesn’t really exist in France.

The French get a bad rap for being rude, smug, and snooty. In most cases I resist generalizations, but in this case, the French actually seem fairly proud of their above-it-all attitudes. And part of being above it all means refusing to deal with the plebes who come into your country asking all kinds of questions (usually in the wrong language).

Both times I’ve gone to Paris, I’ve encountered some variation of this attitude at least a few times. The first trip, it was a man at the metro ticket booth who (even though I had just heard him speaking English to the people in line in front of me) got snotty with me for speaking English to him. That, I can at least understand. I should have just asked first to be polite. FINE.

My friend Diana had a much worse experience when she lived in France where a woman at a car rental agency charged her and her friends over 2,000 euro for a car without telling them beforehand that it would cost that much. She then literally smirked in their faces while they sobbed and begged for mercy. And then charged them anyway.

And then there was my most recent trip.

I’ve mentioned a few times that my bags didn’t arrive until the fourth day of our trip. This was annoying (and distressing for the marathon), but it wouldn’t have been nearly as bad if I had been able to get any assistance from our airline. The day after we arrived (and after they had tried to deliver me the wrong bag), Diana, who speaks pretty great French, tried calling the airline to ask about the status of my bad. She was told that there was nothing they could do (MY ALL-TIME LEAST FAVORITE PHRASE) and that they didn’t know anything. Politely, Diana said — in French — that she was hoping to speak to someone in the baggage department who might have more information. The woman on the phone replied — also in French — “Well, don’t hope.”

And then our brains imploded.

That would have been bad enough, but the French weren’t quite done with us.

The day of the race, Joey actually managed to get a helpful person on the phone who told him that my bag would be delivered that day. Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen. But at least we had some reassurance that we were in some system somewhere. It turns out that they actually delivered my bag to the same wrong person again.

The day after the race (after I’d purchased an entire outfit at a nearby store because I couldn’t just keep wearing my new race shirt forever), I called the same number Joey had, and that is when I encountered the worst woman in the world.

I actually started out the phone call speaking with a different representative. But when I pressed her for a few details (you know, like where my bag was and when I could possibly expect to receive it), she passed me to another rep without telling me. The new rep (the aforementioned WWITW), liked to interrupt me mid-sentence to remind me that she was a new rep so I would have to start from the beginning and shouldn’t expect her to know what I was talking about. (She actually said this.)

With the very last of my patience, I explained my situation and that my bag had been sent to the wrong person multiple times. I wanted to know where it was to see if I could possibly go get it myself.

“It’s far away,” she replied.

Come again?

The rest of the call is honestly a bit of a blur to me. I know she interrupted me every single time I was speaking to tell me that it didn’t sound like I wanted to hear what she was saying (I mean, she wasn’t wrong), to tell me that that I was wasting her time (she said this twice), and to again tell me there was nothing she could do (ROAR). She also, at one point, told me it would take three more days for me to get my bag. Also known as the day I was going home. (This turned out to be a total lie. She may have just been screwing with me.)

The highlight was when I asked if she could at the very least tell me when they expected my bag to arrive back at the airport — silly me believing there was any kind of system in place to track these things.

Her reply?

“I can’t tell you that — I am not God.”

Well, THANK YOU FOR CLEARING THAT UP.

Now that I knew I was dealing with the antichrist, the call dissolved even further. I was basically crying into the phone begging this woman to show some sympathy and give me any kind of information, while she kept cutting me off and telling me I wasn’t listening to her (repeat herself for the seventh time). Then she hung up on me.

Let me repeat that: Customer service hung up on me. Customer service got upset with me for getting upset that they had lost my bag for half of my vacation.

I may have had a tiny breakdown in a French cafe.

In the end, things worked out. I actually got my bag the next day, thank the not-God. And the trip went on as planned. The rest of the trip was actually so good, we joked that France had been having a little fun with us. But they were sorry now, and here’s a park filled with puppies and rosé and sunshine!

BUT BE FOREWARNED. The French do not want to help you. They don’t really want to deal with you. So don’t take it personally — and please stop assuming they are all God.

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The vacation posts continue! If you’re already over it, never you worry — this is the last one.

The title of this post should technically be “How to: Spend 12 hours in an airport (without losing your mind), but that seemed like kind of a long title for a blog post. Anywho.

As I mentioned in Wednesday’s post, our return flight included a 12-hour layover in the Moscow airport. I’m not sure what it is about me, international flights, and ridiculously long layovers, but apparently it’s my thing. And when you throw a little Russian into the mix, things only get more interesting.

All I can say is that the flights we booked were about $400 cheaper than everything else we looked at. Yes, we were aware of the long layover when we booked, but at the time we thought we could maybe turn it into a day-trip into Moscow. Fast-forward a few months later when we realized that you need a visa to enter and exit the city, a tedious (and kind of expensive) process we ultimately decided to skip.

What that meant is that we were now faced with an almost half-day stay in the airport. Clearly, something would need to be done.

Fortunately, my bizarre life is your gain! Here are my four tips for surviving a (really) long layover.

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1. Master the art of sleeping in an airport.
Airports are a notoriously difficult place to catch some shut-eye. It doesn’t help that pretty much every single bench has immovable metal arm rests between the seats, making it impossible to stretch out comfortably. We actually saw one family who had brought some sort of fold-up air mattress to counteract this — effective, but possibly overkill. And there was no way I could fit something like that in my carry-on.

Since we had arrived at the airport around 3 a.m., we started by grabbing a bit of breakfast and surveying the lay of the land. In our quick lap around the airport, Diana and I determined the two best techniques for sleeping on an airport bench. The first is the Upright Fetal Position, demonstrated by me above. You need two seats and a pillow. The second is the Origami Technique. We actually stole this idea from a few other passengers. It helps if you have three seats. All you have to do is hinge your body around the first arm rest and slide your feet through the second. It also helps to put your bag between your knees so there’s less pressure on your hip. We both slept for about four hours with these techniques. (Joey genteelly guarded us and then slept at a table later.)

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2. Spend a thousand dollars on snacks.
Obviously I’m kidding. The above receipt is in rubles. But now is definitely the time to treat yourself a bit. Spring for the large bottle of water (international flights are drying, yo), get a few snacks, and try to pretend like this is still part of your vacation.

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3. Eat real food.
Airport sushi might sound a little suspect, but stick with me on this one. Airplane food is never going to be anything to write home about, so you have to take advantage of real restaurants in the airport before you go. Eating something besides prepacked nuts and candy will help you feel like a human being — even if you’ve been in a terminal for over six hours. The Moscow airport has an actual sushi restaurant, so we made use of that before boarding.

4. Wash your face.
It sounds simple, but the face wipes that Diana packed were practically a Godsend. Napping on an off combined with dry airplanes turns my face into an oil slick, and it’s hard to feel comfortable if you feel gross. Pack face wash and a toothbrush and toothpaste and make good use of them both off and on the plane.

At the end of the day, the time we spent in the airport wasn’t that bad. We landed tired, but not feeling like total zombies. Hopefully these tips can help some of you get through any heinous layovers you have in your future.

Anyone else have tips I forgot?

Ok, so Monday we covered the marathon. Now it’s time to talk about the more fun (and less sweaty) portions of my trip. Like the wine. And the architecture. And the wine.

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{1} We arrived in Paris around 11:00 a.m. Our luggage hadn’t made our connecting flight, so we headed to our apartment expecting it to be delivered between 3 and 8 p.m. (Because that’s what the airport told us.) We booked our apartment through Vacation in Paris, which I highly recommend. Our 2-bedroom apartment also had a living room and kitchen (plus a washer/dryer), which was not only plenty of room but also made it possible for us to have a few meals at home. There’s just something a million times more enjoyable about relaxing in a real living room than in a depressing tiny hotel room. This was our actual rental if anyone is looking for a place to stay near Paris.

Joey’s and Diana’s bags (mine was still MIA) didn’t end up arriving until about 10:30 p.m., so we had to cancel our dinner reservation. Instead, we grocery shopped and snacked on cheese and wine at the apartment. Di and I also picked up our race packets from the expo (and may have grabbed a celebratory glass of champagne).

{2} The Paris Marathon offered a 5K “Breakfast” Run the morning before the marathon. I’m putting breakfast in quotes because it was literally bananas and bottles of water, but it was nice to take an easy jog through the streets of Paris.

{3} That night, we had dinner at La Gauloise, a charming, very French restaurant where we consumed as many carbs as possible for the impending race. That included what can only be described as the best chocolate mousse I’ve ever had. EVER. Seriously, if you go here and do not order the mousse, you have done your mouth a disservice it should never forgive you for.

{5} Race day. After the run, we headed back to the hotel to rest up and shower before going out for the evening. We broke tradition and had Italian for dinner at a place called Fuxia, which I’ve sinced learned is actually a chain. The food was SO GOOD, and I’m not just saying that because I had just burned 2,500 calories. Plus, the staff was extremely nice, which can be kind of rare in Paris.

{6} For me, the real vacation didn’t start until the marathon ended. For the first time in over three months, my whole life didn’t revolve around my running schedule. It was pretty freeing. We had been pretty sure we would be sore the day after (we were right), so we had booked an hour-long cruise on the Seine with Vedettes du Pont Neuf to see a few landmarks without having to stand up. The cruises feature a student tour guide who describes the surroundings in both French and English, and you’re allowed to bring drinks and snacks aboard. (We may have brought a bottle of champagne.)(I imagine you’re picking up on the theme of the trip by now.)

{7} After the boat ride, we grabbed lunch at a cafe along the river before hitting up a few shops (I still didn’t have my bag, so I needed underwear, yo) and doing some more sightseeing. Dinner was at Au Pied de Fouet, an 8-table restaurant that literally defines hole-in-the-wall. It has been in business for over 150 years without changing much (they’ve added a bathroom in the last ten years), at it’s about as French as it gets.

{8} The original plan for Tuesday was to hit up a market in the morning, visit Monet’s home and gardens during the day, and then cook dinner at home that night. Finding the market took a bit longer than expected, though, and by the time we’d returned home and eaten lunch, we were kind of pooped. Instead, we pushed the Monet visit to Friday.

But can we just talk about this market for a minute? If you go to Paris any time in the near future, I strongly suggesting visiting. It was probably my best impression of the French the entire time. Not only was all the food we purchased incredibly fresh and delicious, but every single person we came in contact with was extremely kind. (It helps that Diana speaks really great French, but locals were even nice to me with my not-at-all perfect Français.)

Bonus: My luggage arrived that night. Yay!

{9} Wednesday was wine tour day. We started the day bright and early at a cafe where we met our all-day wine tour group. Paris Wine Day Tours take a group of up to eight people to tour a local market, vineyard, and chateau in France’s wine regions Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Coteaux du Giennois. The tour guide picks everyone up in a van around 7:30 a.m., and it takes about an hour to get to the first stop. At the market, we were able to sample a few local treats like goat cheese and chocolate truffles. In other words, everything I love to eat. {10} After that, we visited a family-owned wine estate, Domaine de Villargeau. There we sampled about five different wines and learned about how French wine is made. We brought home three bottles, so, what I’m saying is, we liked it. {11} Next, we toured what was probably the most picturesque village in all of France. Seriously, I’m pretty sure the song “Belle” was written about this town. We also got to see a few stunning vistas of the French countryside. {12} Finally, we toured a family-owned chateau and garden. I may or may not want to live in a castle now.

{13} Thursday was our anniversary. We slept in a bit, then wandered to a park Diana had discovered online called Bois de Boulogne. And, you guys? I’m still not entirely convinced this park wasn’t a dream we all had simultaneously — it was that perfect. The weather was beyond gorgeous, there was grass to stretch out on, there was a pond with ducks and geese, and everyone in the park had super friendly, well-trained dogs they let just wander over to you so you could pet them for a while. Diana went for a stroll and accidentally found a cafe about two minutes from where we were picnicking that served rosé and gelato. (Her exact words when she came back were, “I don’t even know if I can say these words out loud, but do you see those orange chairs over there?” My response: “Diana, I know it’s my anniversary, but you didn’t have to get me every single thing I like.”)

{14} After the park, Diana went to grab a drink with some friends she had in the area while Joey and I got ready for dinner. We made a quick pit stop at Pont de l’Archevêché, which is famous for couples locking locks onto it’s sides and then throwing the keys into the Seine to symbolize the eternity of their love. It was a tradition I hadn’t known about when we visited Paris on our honeymoon, so I was happy to check off this bucket list item on this trip.

{15} Next was dinner at Ciel de Paris, which sits on the 65th floor of one of the tallest buildings in Paris and provides a panoramic view of the entire city. If you go, try to make your reservation as far in advance as you can so you can request a table near the window. We had a spectacular sunset and were there when the Eiffel Tour light show began.

{16} On Friday, Joey and I finally visited Monet’s house and garden, something I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a little girl. It was, in a word, spectacular. Giverny is so beautiful, I completely understand why Monet spotted it out a train window and had to live there. The gardens themselves are one of the most colorful things I’ve ever seen, and the house is adorable — most of the rooms are done all in one color, giving the feeling of being inside a doll house. Basically, Monet had good taste.

After that, it was time to head to the airport for an overnight flight to Moscow, our layover. (I know…it was weird.) We actually ended up spending about 12 hours there, but that’s a story for another post. We finally got back to New York on Saturday.

All in all, it was a great trip. The weather, food, and experiences were incredible. I’m not sure when the next time I’ll visit Paris will be (there are too many other locations on my list to visit), but it was definitely a fantastic way to celebrate our third anniversary.

 

A big part of my brain is still having trouble processing that the marathon is over. Heck, most of my brain still can’t quite wrap my mind around what my body did.

Before I get into what went down, if have to preface the story with one thing: I’m not totally thrilled with my results. (Downer of a preface, huh?) Let’s Tarantino that statement and get into what happened.

I promise there will be a post all about Paris this week, but for now all you need to know is that my luggage didn’t arrive until day four of our trip.

Admittedly, this upset me more than it should have. Fortunately, I had packed almost all of my running things in my carry-on, but I was missing my snacks and a few other details. Thanks to Diana, I was able to start the race with everything I truly needed, but I still felt a little off.

The morning of the race was gorgeous. Before noon, it was sunny and 65 degrees, which was lovely but also not conditions I was used to running in after our horrendous winter. What I’m saying is, I sweat a lot more than normal. And, for whatever reason, the marathon only had water stations every five miles or so, and I felt more dehydrated than I usually do.

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Also, without getting too gross, I started having a few stomach issues around mile eight. That’s when things fell apart for me a little. I had to walk a few times, and it wasn’t until a Powerade station around the midpoint of the race that I stopped feeling quite so depleted.

And the port-o-potties on the race? The people who used then before me were animals. I have never seen such revolting toilets in my life. (Okay, sorry, that’s gross.)(POOP EVERYWHERE. HUMAN FECES.)

Anyway.

My mile 16, things started to hurt. I was so frustrated because my two 20-mile runs had gone so well, and now I was facing the reality of plodding along for another ten miles in serious discomfort. But really, there was nothing else to do but plod along.

So I kept at it.

To their credit, the people who came out to watch were very kind. They would chant out your name (it was on my bib) and encourage you to keep going. So that helped.

In the end, my time was about four and a half hours, a half hour longer than what I was (quietly) hoping for.

There has never been a girl more happy to be sitting down.

There has never been a girl more happy to be sitting down.

Part of me wants to try again this fall on another course, just because I know I could do better. Part of me never, ever wants to do that again.

One thing I don’t think enough people emphasize when we talk about running marathons: It hurts. By mile 22, I swear I thought my feet were going to crack in half. At mile 24, if there had been a way for me to cheat to just make it end, I honestly can’t say I wouldn’t have done it. When I finally crossed the finish line, I burst into tears and couldn’t get it together for about 10 minutes. (The poor women handing out the t-shirts looked deeply concerned.) My legs (and back and obliques) burned for the rest of the night, and I couldn’t walk down stairs normally for about five days.

So the experience was less fun than I think I was expecting. But who knows — the human body can’t remember pain, so maybe I’ll feel up to it in another few months. (Maybe.)

After everything, I’m trying not to beat myself up about not having the best run ever. At the end of the day, I still ran a marathon, something I’m not sure I totally believed I could do until the second half of my training. The actual race, as well as the entire training process, has made me realize that my body is capable of so much more than I usually give it credit for. Another thing people don’t emphasize enough when we talk about running marathons? It’s a huge confidence boost.

Thanks so much to everyone who cheered me along during this whole process, especially my lovely running partner and darling husband who were there to (literally) support me at the end. I love you all.

Di and me

Di and me

I’m in my last week of tapering before the marathon, which has been the perfect excuse to try a few new cross training classes with my ClassPass. This week, I was finally able to get into a class I’ve been eyeing for a couple of months, The Fhitting Room.

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The Gym
Space: The space is small, with a compact lobby, two bathrooms, lockers, and a single room for workouts (they classes are capped at 16, but only six people were in my class). There are no showers.
Cleanliness: Very clean. The instructors re-rack all of your equipment along the way so you never have to stop working out to put away a kettle bell or something.
Attitude: Great! The instructors babied me a bit in the beginning of the class, which is a pet peeve of mine (just because I’ve never been here doesn’t mean I’ve never worked out before), but after I’d proven that I could do more pushups than the other girls, they treated me like part of the team.

The Workout
Difficulty (Out of 10, 1 being “could do it in my sleep” and 10 being “omg I can’t walk”): 8/9. Fhitting Room offers high intensity training (HIT) classes where you do the same move for 30 seconds to a minute, rest for 15 seconds, and then repeat or move in a circuit. There is very little rest time, so you pack a lot of workout into a short amount of time. My class combined a series of rowing, pushups on the TRX, squats on a Bosu ball, burpees, kettle bell swings, plié squats, and arm raises along with cardio moves like mountain climbers and jumping jacks. It’s intense, and you work out just about every part of your body.
Experience: Really good! I felt challenged, but not like the moves were impossible (the way I feel when I’m staring down monkey bars or something), and I definitely worked to fatigue with every set.
Afterburn (how I felt the next day): My shoulders and bum are really sore, but I know I’ve been neglected strength moves while training. This class has inspired me to be more diligent about it once the marathon is over.

Final grade: A+! I’m definitely planning to do this one again.

Anyone wanna come with me?

{photo credit}