14 miles

I have reached a new milestone.  The farthest I have run in the past 4.5 years until today had been 13.1 miles during my two Spring half marathons.  The last time I ran more than that was when I trained for the Marine Corps Marathon in 2006.  It’s exciting to hit this milestone and know that my marathon training is well underway.

Those 14 miles certainly did not come easy today.  It was 80 degrees with 80% humidity at 6am and by the end of my run is was 84 degrees with a heat index of 92.  The weather made for a very tough run, but I somehow managed to get through it.  I usually don’t take walking breaks during my runs, but today I allowed myself a few very short ones because of how tough the weather was making it for me to breathe.

I stopped home at mile 7 because I had already finished the 20oz of water I brought along and needed to refill if I was going to make it through another 7 miles.  I ended up finishing the other 20oz by the time I reached 13 miles.  Good thing I was almost home! Despite drinking 40oz during my run and probably another 20oz when I got home, I still lost 3lbs during my run.  That means I’ll spend the rest of the day rehydrating!

After my refill, I left my nice cool air-conditioned house and stepped back into the heat.  I very seriously considered turning right back around and going back into the house, but I forced myself to get running again.  It’s a good thing I did because guess what I found.  A $20 bill! It was just laying on the sidewalk about a mile and half from my house, not near any homes.  It was next to the ramp onto the highway so I figured finder’s keepers! It’s nice to get paid to run :) .

Then as I continued my run, I made a friend at a nearby horse farm.

Isn’t she pretty?

The last 4 miles were very difficult, but I kept reminding myself that I could do it.  I run 4 miles all the time, usually pushing a stroller so I knew I could do it.  Once my watch beeped at 14 miles, I felt so accomplished.  I really did it.  This also brought me to another milestone – I’ve run over 400 miles now in 2011.  That would be 400 since I got my Garmin in March, a bit more than that if I had been keep track of my distances before then.  I also ran a total of 26 miles in the past week – like a marathon spread out over 4 days of running! My time today was 2:25, an average pace of 10:25 – not bad for a long run on a super hot day!

I’d also like to strongly encourage my neighbors and all nearby businesses to water their lawns early on Saturday and Sunday mornings because I could really use a run through a sprinkler on days like today :) .

In other exciting news, we got a bike seat for Zain so I can do some biking with my running buddy.  I’m really looking forward to some family bike rides when it cools off a little!

Trying on his new helmet!

My final post about my vacation – Running in Rome – will be up this week!

Happy running and stay cool!

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Part 3: Rome

After a fantastic 5 days in Paris, we headed to Rome where we met my family that had been traveling throughout Italy.  We had so much fun with my family and getting to know the city.


Our flight from Rome to Paris was a breeze.  We kept Zain entertained with a movie on hubby’s iPad and he was a little angel, as usual :) .  Upon arriving at our hotel – the Albergo Cesari (located near the Pantheon, a perfect location and awesome staff) – I got in contact with my mom to find out their ETA.  Not surprisingly, their caravan of 3 cars was lost amongst the windy, tiny streets that look like cars should not even be driving on.  We went outside to see if we could find them and magically, we did! It was so fun to see all the people I love 4,000 miles from home.

After everyone got settled, we went to a very late lunch at the Piazza Navona and had some amazing pizza and pasta.

Piazza Navona

After our long day of traveling and doing some exploring, we went to bed early on day 1 in Rome.

On day 2, hubby and I started off the day with a 9 mile run (left Z to destroy the grandparents’ hotel room since he’d already taken care of ours already :) ).  I’ll go into more detail in my next post about running in Rome, but let’s just say it was an adventure and I’m glad we were together for it! After breakfast, the whole crew headed out for a walk to the Coliseum.  It was a hot day already and the walk was right out in the bright sun with no shade to be found.  We ended up buying an umbrella to shield the prince from the sun.  We also made sure to keep him hydrated.

Our little family in front of the Coliseum

He liked his umbrella

Hubby and I had both already been to the Coliseum on previous visits to Rome so we opted not to wait in line to go inside with everyone else.  Plus, it was only getting hotter and Zain was getting ready for a nap.  On our walk back to the hotel, we discovered that the high quality umbrella that my husband bought from a man on the side of the street had broken.  We happened to see the man from whom the umbrella was purchased and hubby explained to him that it broke and we’d like another one.  Ha.  Yeah, right.  The guy pretended he had never seen us in his life.  His friend so kindly offered to sell us another umbrella at a discounted price, but hubby declined the offer.  Fun times.

And during the little skirmish, Zain fell asleep.

The long walk wore him out

Poor little guy was hot!

After Zain’s nap, we took a walk to the Spanish Steps.  Of course, we couldn’t just walk there without getting lost, but we did eventually find our way.  Then we continued on to the Trevi Fountain.

Trevi Fountain

Another long day of activities meant we were hungry for another amazing Italian meal.  We ate dinner outside at a restaurant near our hotel that our friend at the front desk, Tommaso, recommended.

A small sampling of the antipasta

Cappriciosa Pizza – the best!

At most restaurants, if you so desire, you can have them just keep bringing out food of their choosing.  We did this a lot for the first course and we got to eat some truly amazing food.  The best tasting tomatoes I’ve ever eaten, outstanding fresh mozzarella, mussels, artichokes, and much more.  For the main course, I frequently ordered Cappriciosa pizza.  Every time I have been to Italy, I nearly overdose on this pizza.  It has mushrooms, olives, artichokes and prosciutto on it.  And usually, it also has an egg on top.  I know you’re probably thinking, “an egg on a pizza?!” Yes, an egg on a pizza and it is delicious.

During dinner Zain was a little antsy so we walked with him a bit in the nearby open space.  He stopped to talk to everyone who passed.

I love the look on his face

On day 3 in Rome, we went to the Catacombs.  It was really interesting to take the tour and learn about the history that exists underneath the city.  Plus, it was nice and cool underground!

A little blurry and dark, but that’s us exploring the catacombs!

After our tour, we came back for Zain to nap.  While he napped, hubby stayed with him so I could go out for a little bit with my family.  We went to lunch and I had yet another delicious pizza – Daviola this time.  Daviola pizza is sort of like pepperoni pizza but way better an a little spicy.


Then we had some gelato at Giolitti which is famous for their gelato.  I had chocolate and stracciatella which is sort of like chocolate chip, but better of course.


Oh the possibilities…

Cioccolato and Stracciatella…SO good!

After devouring my gelato, I got a frantic call from hubby that Zain woke up and was not pleased that mama was nowhere to be found.  Luckily, we were right by the hotel so I came to rescue my boy and all was well again.  We then headed out for another trip to Spanish steps, but this time the goal was for the ladies to hit the shops.  He went to Louis, Prada, Fendi, Gucci, Chanel, Dior, and more.  Of course we didn’t buy anything, but it was fun to look! The only thing purchased was a man purse for hubby at the Ferrari store.  I’m so mad I didn’t get a good picture of him wearing it while we were there because I’m sure he won’t wear it again now that we’re back in the US and most men don’t wear man purses :) .

You can sort of see it in this picture of us in the Pantheon

That night we went to another fabulous dinner, but unfortunately, we didn’t make it past the appetizers before we needed to get back to the hotel for Zain to go to sleep.  He was just not happy about sitting at dinner and was ready to get to bed.  While taking a breather outside though while waiting for the food, he made a little friend from Denmark.  His name was Hector and he was 2.5.  He shared one of his toys with Zain.  It was too cute.  Hector’s parents were also having a hard time getting him to sit still at dinner so it was nice that the boys got to play together for a few minutes.

On the way back to the hotel, we did manage to stop real quick for some gelato at Giolitti’s.  This time I had hazelnut and chocolate.  Oh my gosh, it was heaven.

On day 4, after a morning run, we took it slow for the day.  My family left for a tour at the Vatican (hubby and I had been there before as well so we skipped it).  It was really nice to spend some time just the 3 of us walking around.  We had lunch and then guess what we had.  More gelato, of course! We tried a different place which had about a thousand flavors to choose from.

Decisions, decisions…

We met up with the family for some aperitivos.

Aperol Spritz – delicious and refreshing!

Then, off to eat again! We had another incredible meal.  I swear the food just got better and better with each meal.

If you like mussels, these were incredible and I don’t usually like mussels!

More yummy fresh mozzarella


Homemade tortellini with emmental and summer truffle in a rich butter sauce – hands down the best thing I ate in Rome!

Me and the hubs

Meet your dinner

We had to duck out of dinner a little early again.  After we put Zain to bed, I sent Navin back to the restaurant to spend some time with the fam.  When they all came back, they spent some time on the incredible rooftop terrace at the hotel.  Then hubby came back to the room and sent me up to hang out with my cousins.  We had such a great time.  It was a lot of fun.

Day 5 was our last full day in Rome.  Half of the family went on a day trip to Capri and the rest of us just spent some time near the hotel doing a little more exploring and shopping.  We went to the Pantheon again followed by a trip the the Adidas, Nike and Puma stores.

Pantheon ceiling



We had another great meal for our last dinner in Rome and then we again took turns hanging out with the fam on the rooftop while Zain slept.  It was a great last night and a perfect way to end our amazing trip to Europe.

One last family pic

We had so much fun in Rome and we are so thankful we had the opportunity to go.  Our flight home went great.  Zain slept most of the time again.  We’re lucky he’s such an awesome little traveller!

One last picture – my sweet little man sleeping. Such a cutie!

Coming up next – Running in Rome!

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Part 2: Running in Paris

I ran 3 times in the 5 days we were in Paris and each run was better than the last.

If I needed any motivation to run, that was easy – I didn’t want to gain 20lbs on vacation.  And I probably would have considering that this was my usual breakfast:

Pain au Chocolat: buttery chocolatey heaven

And I usually ended my day with one of these:

A delicious nutella crepe

And if you read my first post on Paris, you know I did a whole lot more eating in between!

My first run was meant to be 3 miles, but guess what happened.  I got lost.  Me, the one who was all, “I’m not worried about getting lost because I know my way around the city, blah blah blah.”  I wasn’t actually lost, but I missed my turn to cross the Seine and get back to the hotel so I ended up running a little too far, getting turned around and then finding my way again.  I ended up running 4 miles in 38:25 which was a good time for me.  Can I blame getting lost on the jet lag, please? :)

First run in Paris – an amazing view!

My second run was better.  I paid more attention to where I was going and stuck to basic route down the Seine 2 miles and back.  It was windy, cloudy and cool which was perfect running weather.  And I didn’t get lost! Go me! Even better than that, I ran 4 miles in 37:17.  Another great time for me especially considering that my legs were feeling a little tired from all the walking we had been doing.

Another pretty run in Paris

My last run in Paris was fan-freaking-tastic.  Are you ready for this? I ran 4 miles in 35:57.  That would be an average pace of 8:58.  I never run at that pace, but I somehow maintained that for 4 miles.  Wahoo! So I can run faster.  I’m very excited about this.  I think the cool weather and flat terrain most definitely allowed me to have such a great run.  The beautiful scenery helped too!

I probably made it pretty obvious I was a tourist by stopping to snap so many pictures

Beautiful Notre Dame in the distance

I so miss that view!

Here are some of my observations about running in Paris:

  • As I just mentioned, the terrain is mostly flat, especially where I usually ran.  It is also very straight running along the Seine which helped me keep moving quicker.  I saw a lot of runners so I think that is a very common area to run.
  • There is a lack of fresh air when you’re running (encountered the same problem in Rome).  There are tons of cars, even early in the morning which means a steady stream of exhaust flowing into your lungs.  Also, many people smoke and chances are you that you will pass a few smokers during a run and get a lungful of secondhand smoke.  There are also the unpleasant smells, especially along the Seine.  A good bit of homeless people sleep along the sidewalk there.  Getting a whiff of urine or something worse is not fun!
  • It’s a busy city which means stopping frequently to cross the street.  Cars, quite honestly, seem like they want to hit pedestrians, so you better be careful when you cross the street

Frequent stops

  • Being a woman running alone, men had no problem stopping whatever they were doing to stare at me as I ran by.  I occasionally get some looks when I run in my neighborhood from the construction guys or men in cars driving by, but men here can be a little bit more subtle.  Not so much in Europe (Rome was even worse!).  The men emptying the garbage cans on the street would always completely stop what they were doing and just stare.  I actually found it pretty humorous.  One man said, “bon courage” (which means “good luck”) to me while I ran along with a sly little smile.  Fun times.
  • If you plan to run in Paris, you must start early.  I read something on Runner’s World (which I can’t seem to find again) about how you should finish your run in Paris by 8:30am because it gets busy by then.  I’d say, you actually should finish by 7am at the latest.  The sidewalks and streets get so crowded that getting out there as early as you can is for the best.


This is what it looked like around 6am looking out our hotel room window – perfect time to head out for a run

And this is what it typically looked like during the day – not a good time to try to run!

  • Don’t say hello.  When I run in my neighborhood, I usually say a friendly hello or good morning to anyone I pass.  You don’t do that in Paris.  You can, but I wouldn’t do as a woman running alone.  Saying hello to a man in particular can be a bit of an invitation, if you know what I’m saying ;) .  Hubby did say some bonjours during his runs though because he’s just so darn friendly.  The men usually said bonjour back, but he said the women did not respond or looked away, haha!
  • Summertime running is still cool.  We had great weather during our trip.  It was usually about a high of 75 degrees everyday.  The low was generally in the mid-50s.  When we ran, it was usually about 55 degrees which was a pleasure to run in.  I really missed that weather when I ran 5 miles with Zain this morning and it was 75 degrees with 91% humidity at 7am.
  • The sidewalk along the Seine where I generally ran would have been great for the jogging stroller.  It made me miss having Zain with me to run! However, I didn’t see anyone running with their kids.  Granted, I only ran 3 times and in one small area so I could have just missed the running parents.  I actually did not see anyone with a jogging stroller at all in the city.  In the US, people use joggers as their regular strollers all the time, but even though we saw many strollers, we didn’t see any joggers.  The only time I saw a one was when we saw an American couple pushing their son in one.  I said to hubby, “look, there’s a BOB!” It was funny because the stroller looked so huge after only seeing umbrella-type strollers in the city.

You may be wondering why I didn’t run my 12 miles I had planned to do in the city.  I ended up changing my game plan for a few reasons.  For one, if I was going to get up and run for 2 hours and still make it back in time for hubby to run at a decent hour, I’d be running alone in the city in the dark.  I didn’t really feel comfortable doing that.  If I started later, I’d be dodging people on the sidewalk the whole time and not having an enjoyable run.  The biggest reason though was that I didn’t want hubby to have to do his long run alone when we got to Rome.  Neither of us knew our way around Rome and I thought it would be better if I could run with him (the grandparents met us there and watched Z while we ran).  It was definitely for the best because we got majorly lost, but I’ll tell you all about that adventure another time :) .

Next up, our time in Rome…check back again soon!

Happy running!

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Part 1: Paris

A gorgeous view of Notre Dame

We are back from our amazing trip to Paris and Rome.  We had a fantastic time and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  I’m going to split up my recap into a few posts otherwise I’d have a post a mile long for you.

First up – our time in Paris! We went totally strollerless on this trip and it made life so much easier.  The sidewalks in Paris are mostly stroller-friendly, but not at all in Rome.  Neither city is well equipped with elevators in most buildings and in their public transit so having a stroller would have been inconvenient, but it is doable if need be.  Don’t worry though, we didn’t make Zain walk all around Paris and Rome on his little legs! I wore him in my super comfortable Ergo Performance Baby Carrier.  I am a huge fan of babywearing and one of these days, I’ll have to do a post on my favorite carriers, but for now back to Paris :) .

Baby backpack

We spent 5 glorious days in Paris before heading to Italy.  I mentioned in my post before we left that Paris holds a special place in my heart.  It was amazing to be back in the city I love so very much.  I feel like I’m at home when I’m there.

Our flight to France was great.  It was an overnight flight that left at 9:45pm.  It was perfect for Zain because he slept pretty much the entire flight.  Of course, he only stayed in his car seat for about an hour and spent the remainder of the flight sprawled out across my lap.  I had a tough time trying to get any sleep because I just couldn’t get comfortable.  I also think the 12 mile run the morning we left might have been a bad idea.  My legs were stiff and uncomfortable sitting for so long.

Yay, Zain’s first international flight!

My little angel

Enough with the car seat, sleeping on mama’s lap is much comfier

I love watching the map screen…almost there!

We arrived in Paris around 12pm local time after our 7.5 hour flight and took a taxi to our hotel.  Our hotel, the Albe Hotel, located in the Latin Quarter, was absolutely amazing.  Our room was huge and modern by European standards.  We could not have asked for a better location.  The Latin Quarter is a lively and exciting place to stay with lots of restaurants and shops.  It is also a super convenient place to stay to get to all the main attractions in the city.

Our hotel

Zain loved looking out the window at all the people walking in the Latin Quarter

Day 1 was a bit rough for me because as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t really sleep on the flight over, but we had a whole day ahead of us.  I got myself a Coca Cola Light and toughed it out.  We ate gyros as our first meal.  The Latin Quarter is the place to get delicious gyros.  Hubby was in heaven.  After lunch, we walk around a bit and then headed back to the hotel for Z to nap.  Hubs and I napped too and then we went to a yummy French dinner of steak and French fries.

One of hubby’s favorite foods!

On day 2, hubby and I both ran separately (post on running in Paris coming up next!) before heading out for the day.  We went to the Louvre which was closed, but we needed to find the Apple store since we forgot our iPhone charger.  Turns out there is now an Apple store inside the Louvre! I find that to be a bit crazy, but it was very convenient.

Outside the Louvre

Family photo outside the Louvre


Apple Store in the Louvre

Me and the little man near the Louvre entrance underground

We then visited the giant Ferris Wheel.  It offers an amazing view of the city.

The Ferris Wheel

The view of the city from the Ferris Wheel

Beautiful Sacré Coeur in the distance

Enjoying the incredible view!

On our walk back to the hotel, we stopped for Zain to stretch out his legs a bit and then he fell asleep on my back.

In the Tuileries gardens

Taking a break to run around

Worn out!

After his nap, we walked to the Champs Elysées.  We checked out all the cool stores and then decided to take the metro back to the hotel because we were worn out from all the walking.  We happened to be riding during rush hour so the train was packed.  This would have been fine normally, but I had Zain on my back.  He didn’t quite get the whole personal space thing and kept trying to touch people.  Some people smiled and laughed, but one cranky man quickly moved his arm away.  It was too funny.

On the Champs Elysées

Once we got back to the Latin Quarter, we had paella for dinner with some sangria!

Yummy! A little too much seafood for me, but hubby loved it


SO good!

On Day 3, we both ran again in the morning and headed to the Musée d’Orsay after breakfast.  It started to rain as soon as we got there and there was a line outside with about an hour and a half wait.  Luckily for us, someone told us we could bypass the line because we had a baby and enter right away through the handicap door.  Nice! The Musée d’Orsay is one of my favorite museums.  It is inside an old train station and contains some really amazing artwork.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped to pick up one of my favorite French lunch items – a baguette sandwich with ham, cheese and butter.  It’s simple, but delicious.  I used to eat this sandwich all the time before my French phonetics class when I studied abroad.

Soooo good!

After we ate lunch, it was family nap time (there were a lot of naps during our vacation!).  When we all finally woke up, we took the metro back to the Champs Elysées so we could do some shopping – we checked out Nike, Adidas, Disney, and Louis Vuitton.  All those stores and the only thing we bought was a Mickey Mouse for Zain! We ate a yummy dinner of pizza and then walked back to the hotel.  We ate our first crepes of the trip back in the Latin Quarter – nutella and banana for hubby, nutella and coconut for me.

Deliciousness in the making


Zain approves

On Day 4, we went to visit my old neighborhood.  I lived near the Bastille on Avenue Daumesnil.  Avenue Daumesnil houses the Viaduc des Arts which used to be a railroad.  The viaducts now contain artistic shops and galleries and the area where the railway once was is now a path you can walk on.

At the Bastille

The Viaduc des Arts on Avenue Daumesnil

After scoping out some changes in the neighborhood, we took the metro to the Louvre.  We only spent about an hour walking around to see various exhibits before Zain was ready for a nap.

Inside the Louvre

We headed back to the hotel and took another glorious family nap.  Once we were all recharged, we went to visit the Sorbonne where I went to school and the Pantheon which was right next to once of my classrooms.  We ate another delicious French dinner and had more nutella crepes for dessert.

At the Sorbonne…maybe Zain will go to school here one day :)

At the Pantheon

On Day 5, we hit some nearby stores for hubby to look for some shoes.  Whenever, we go to Europe, he wants to get cool Euro style tennis shoes.  He finally found some that met his criteria at the Puma store.  I might have also found some cool shoes for myself :) .  After shopping we ate my absolute favorite French meal – croque madames.  They are sandwiches with ham on the inside and cheese on the top.  The croque madame has an egg on top; you can also have a croque monsieur which does not have an egg.

Croque madames!

Zain just wanted to play with the shoe boxes

After naptime and some souvenir shopping, we had incredible ham and cheese crepes for dinner, followed by more nutella crepes for dessert.  Can you tell we did a whole lot of eating on this trip?

We had a really wonderful time in Paris.  It was fun showing Zain around and introducing him to all the yummy food – although, the only thing he really wanted to eat the whole time was french fries! I was curious how the French would react to a baby, especially one as social as Zain who likes to say hi to everyone he sees.  Everyone always loved him in restaurants.  One waitress kept giving him kisses.  We didn’t mind, but that’s something that strangers usually don’t do in the US!

I wish we had more time in Paris because we only had enough time to do half the things I wanted to do, but that just means we need to go back again soon :) .

Running in Paris was awesome…check back for a post on that coming up soon!

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For the first time ever…

Zain fell asleep during our run! I know that might not be a big deal to most running moms or dads whose kids fall asleep often in the stroller, but this is epic for us.  Zain is not the best sleeper and he frequently gives me a tough time when I want to put him to sleep.  A couple months ago, I posted that we had to stop in the middle of a run at the park so I could get him to sleep; then I had put him back in the stroller and he was awake again by the time we got to the car 15 minutes later.

We’re still dealing with some jetlag since our return from Europe so I’m certain the reason he fell asleep was because he woke up for the day at 3:30am yesterday and 4:30am today.

So what is even more epic than the fact that my little sweetie fell asleep during our run? The fact that it was a 12 mile run with the stroller! The longest I’ve ever run with Z was 10 miles and it was not easy.  I didn’t know if I’d even make it that far today considering how exhausted I am.  Z fell asleep around the 4 mile mark and I figured I better keep running as long as I could so he could at least get a good nap in.  He slept until about the 11 mile mark and woke up cheerful and ready to chat with me.  What a great running buddy!

Our run was pretty awesome.  Tough, but still awesome.  The weather was great – sunny, cool and a little breezy.  I also conquered a humongous hill that always wears me out when I run alone so it was a big deal for me to make it up it with the stroller.  My pace was decent for a long run with the stroller.  My Garmin is giving me trouble at the moment so I don’t know all the details, but I believe my time was about 2 hours and 10 minutes for 12 miles.  I did hope to make it farther though.  I considered going to 13.1 so I could do my own little half marathon with Z, but I was back at my house by the time I got to 12 and I just didn’t have it in me to try to run any farther.

Stay tuned for a post about our amazing vacation coming soon!

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