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Death by Sprints

s5 97 13 04 14 21 24 Death by SprintsSprints… sure, they were fun when we were kids. Remember that feeling? Breaking out at top speed, the wind at your back, racing your friend across the field. Exhilarating. When you’re 6…

Now that we’re all presumably on the other side of kindergarten, things are different. The only time you see that burst of speed is when you make that mad dash for the last slice of pizza. A worthy cause, to be sure.

So what happened exactly to suck all the fun out of these bursts of energy? When did that start to look more like work than pleasure? Sedentary lifestyle, for one thing. And the inherent affection for repose that accompanies such. It happens. Welcome to the world of adulthood. Yay…

If you spend any time on the internet looking at health topics, or do any reading about fitness, you have probably stumbled across the term HIIT – high intensity interval training. The most effective way to work out, as rumor has it. There’s a whole bunch of science and research to support various health claims. But the benefits of short periods of high intensity output are proven. And yes, even for distance athletes.

Beginners who train for half marathons and marathons usually go about it by keeping a “slow and steady wins the race” mentality. When I trained for my first half, I definitely took the “if I can walk it, I can run it” approach. So run I did. At the same steady pace, building up to 2 hours. But that was it. Throw a sprint or a hill in my direction, I was done for.

This time, I’ve made sure to avoid that pitfall. My Run the Edge training program has been really good about that as well. It encourages strategically timed changes of pace, which in my opinion conditions your body better than staying at the same boring pace the entire time. And, as I’ve already noted, I have been doing hills. In the form of bridges. And more bridges.

While I may not be running flat out to the top of that hill, my body is definitely working harder. And that’s the whole point of HIIT in the first place. More output for shorter periods of time, better results. And you know what? It works!! I’m very proud to say that after a few weeks of running those bridges, my pace for a mile on flat ground has dropped by an entire minute!

When I first started training for my race in Napa Valley, I was running at a pace of around 10:00 or 10:20 per mile. After my first month of training following my program, adding in hills, and one recovery week, my pace is down to 9:00 per mile, on average. Not too shabby!! My longest distance is just over 4 miles, so still a bit to go on that front. But, the progress is there. And that feels fabulous!

Page Decoration Death by Sprints

*This post was written in partnership with Destination Races Wine Country Half Marathon Series. All thoughts and opinions expressed are purely my own. For more information, please visit Race to Wine Country.

 

 

 

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8 Hours in Los Angeles

Los Angeles. I have only visited this city on two occasions – once for a long layover en route to Australia, and another this past January. That first stay only lasted about 6 hours. The second, a long weekend. The impression left was the same each time: Los Angeles is a huge place. And so diverse! My recent trip left little time for idle pursuits, but we did have one day to explore. I know very little about the city itself, so I’ll leave you with a photographic journal of that day.

opera fountain 8 Hours in Los Angeles

fountain 8 Hours in Los Angeles

walt disney concert hall 8 Hours in Los Angeles

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That Beach Vacation State of Mind

The past two weekends have been perfect beach weather. That summer feeling has arrived in south Florida, and the sand is getting hot. I had a recovery week last week, meaning I had a week to train at 50% of my workouts for the previous week. Let’s just say it was well needed, and well enjoyed. I took advantage of the little pause (and the excellent weather) to soak in some sun. We’re so fortunate in this area to be able to tap into that feeling of being on a beach vacation, without ever really leaving our town. So, as I continue with my training and jump back into a more difficult routine, I decided to maintain that perma-vacation outlook. I’ve shared with you all one bridge in my town that I like to run, and now I’ll share another. That one went from my little home of Palm City into “town” in Stuart. This bridge takes you farther east: to the beach.

bridge That Beach Vacation State of Mind

This is the view of the (rather long) bridge that drops you off on the barrier island known as Hutchinson Island. Lately, this is where all of my beach photos have been taken, as evidenced in my rather packed Instagram feed.

bridge east That Beach Vacation State of Mind

See that thin strip of blue on the horizon, behind the condo buildings? That’s the ocean. When you come over the top of this bridge in your car on a clear day like this, you can see it much better. But the view from the top here is simply stunning – a true boaters’ paradise in my opinion.

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Take Time Out for Recovery

beach rocks Take Time Out for Recovery

I hit a milestone the other day. And it came up faster than I ever could have imagined. It honestly doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that I started really. How is it that time seems to move quicker with each passing year?

On March 28, I was officially one month into my training for the Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon event with Destination Races. I have been steadily increasing my time and distances as per my Run the Edge training plan, and definitely feel like I’ve been making significant progress. I’ve even managed to add in substitute hills, since where I live in Florida is essentially flat swamp land.

Now… it’s time for recovery!! I’m loving this training plan too. It acknowledges that we are not machines, and can’t push ourselves to new limits each and every week without risking burnout, and injury. It makes sure to prompt you to asses your progress at the end of each week, and determine if you are physically ready to move on to the next level, repeat the same level, or work in a recovery. After four weeks of leveling up each week, it’s time for a down week!

I kicked off my recovery week a day early, spending Sunday at the beach. It was beautifully sunny, warm but with no humidity. The perfect spring day in south Florida. I relaxed on the beach, began writing down my plans and goals for April, and napped to the sound of the waves.

beach shore Take Time Out for Recovery Continue reading

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A Conversation with Vicki Lesage, Author

vicki lesage author photo A Conversation with Vicki Lesage, AuthorAhhh… this girl. My Parisian-life twin. As I’ve already mentioned, her story has so many parallels to mine. With the exception that she did in fact win her visa war. Again, hats off to you lady! No small feat, I assure you.

I always like to take a deeper look into the minds of these creative, outside-the-box people I have met along the way. Vicki Lesage tells plenty in her novel Confessions of a Paris Party Girl, but I had a few questions of my own to pose. As I got to know her better, I became more and more convinced my hypothetical “memoir of Paris” would read very much the same. From finding my niche in the Anglophile expat community to hilarious stories pertaining to over-the-top French men, I think, “Yep, been there. I get it!” Oh, imagine the giggle if we ever swapped stories… and the wine.

 

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where you’re from and how you got to where you are today?

I’m originally from St. Louis, Missouri – a city that is small by US standards (3 million residents in the metro area) but is huge compared to most French cities. Still, when I moved from St. Louis to Paris I felt like a small-town girl in a big city. Back home, I’d had a stable IT job until one day I was let go. I figured it was now or never, so I took the plunge to move to Paris for what was supposed to just be a summer. Nine years later I’m still here. I’ve worked in freelance web design over the years, which is a skill I’m so happy I picked up because it allowed me the freedom to move to one of the world’s most expensive cities without a job and without going broke!

2. You were a blogger for some time before making the jump to writing a book. How did you decide to put your stories in the longer format, and how did you decide what you wanted your book to be about?

People often left comments on my blog saying I should write a book. I adored the flattery but didn’t think I had it in me until my mom self-published two books and offered to convert my blog posts into a book. I figured it wouldn’t be much work, so why not? I sent my first few rough chapters to a French author friend of mine and waited for her glowing feedback. She nicely responded in a long email with all her recommendations of what to change. It was a shocker but she was right. Basically, her advice was to take what I had and make it more “narrative nonfiction” or “creative nonfiction,” as the kids are calling it these days. And she provided gentle suggestions on how to make the main character (me) more likeable. My book went from a series of rants to a more upbeat memoir where you (hopefully) end up siding with me in my battles against everything France has to throw at me.

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