13.1!

I ran my first half marathon today!  That’s 13.1 miles (or 21 kilometers) and that’s the longest I’ve ever run in my life, and I survived!  And I would do it again!

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I was feeling pretty nervous this morning, hoping I’d trained enough in the last few months and eaten enough carbs in the last few days to reach my goal of 2 hours and 25 minutes.  Rain had been forecasted for the 24 hours leading up to the start of the race and all through the morning, so I was crossing my fingers that it would stay dry.  Luckily it ended up being a beautiful day for running (cloudy and high 50s) and the rain held off until tonight.

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The race started from the Promenade des Anglais at 9:30, so I gathered all my gear, including my iPod with a 3.5 hour playlist (thanks to everyone who contributed!), and left my apartment around 8.  The London Marathon was also happening this morning and I read an article that runners were wearing black ribbons as a Boston tribute.  I didn’t have any black ribbon so I tied a piece of black yarn around my wrist as I was heading out.  There were over 3000 runners for the half marathon, plus all the runners that did the 5K or 10K, so it was a pretty big event for Nice.

Black ribbon for Boston

Black ribbon for Boston

After everyone was lined up but before the race started, we had a moment of silence for Boston, and then we were off!  I breezed through the first 8K or so, posting a few 6:30-ish kilometers.  I had a lot of energy and even though I didn’t have anyone in the crowd cheering for me, specifically, I pretended everyone was 🙂  I was thinking, hey this isn’t so bad, maybe I can try a full marathon soon!  (HA)  For the most part, the course was flat, with just a few tiny hills.  The view was, of course, gorgeous, with most of the race taking place along the sea, but also around the port and near the art museum.

After 10K, the 10K runners that had started with the half-marathon runners finished their race and we were left to run another 11K (to the airport and back).  I could feel myself slowing down a little, as blisters formed on the bottoms of my feet and my toes (from which I had lost 2 toenails in my training) started to hurt.  But I kept plugging along.  I managed to run the first 10 miles (16K) of the race without stopping at all (I was very proud of that!)  At 16K, I took a minute to shake out my muscles, down some Powerade and a piece of banana, and kept going.

The last 5K was really hard, but I managed to find a group of runners to follow.  One of the guys somehow still had a crazy amount of energy and was dancing with all the different bands that were stationed along the course.  It was awesome and inspiring to watch (and reminded me of something Sam would probably do :)).  By 19K, I couldn’t feel my legs, but I kept telling myself I had to keep going.  The best feeling was seeing that 20K sign and knowing I was almost there, and the worst feeling followed closely when I realized I still had another kilometer to go.  But I finished strong, powering across the finish line at 2:23:33, a solid minute and a half under my goal! 🙂

Go me! :)

Go me! 🙂

Tonight, my feet hurt, I think I’m going to lose another toenail, my legs are sore, I have blisters on blisters on blisters, and I definitely need some new running shoes, but I had a GREAT day today.  I felt so good when I crossed the finish line!  And tonight’s dinner is my reward: French toast, scrambled eggs, (real American/English) bacon, and a pint of Haagen-Dazs caramel cone explosion ice cream 🙂 🙂 🙂

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And as long as we’re talking about ice cream, here’s a little update on the ice cream flavors I’ve tried at Fenocchios recently (with help from Emily, Isabelle, Alexandra, and Gary, of course!)

Chocolate mint
Stracciatella
Rocher
Irish coffee
Peach
Avocado (really really good, actually!)
Milk chocolate bar
Rose
Rhubarb
Chocolate orange
Black currant
Cappuccino
Chocolate and hot pepper (not very hot pepper-y)

Today’s French word:

lèche-vitrine (lesh vi TREEN)– literally lick-window, it’s window-shopping!
La plupart de temps je préfère de faire du lèche-vitrine, mais j’ai reçu une autre bourse, donc je peux m’offrir une nouvelle robe!
Usually I prefer to window-shop, but I just received another grant so I can treat myself to a new dress!

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My First 10K!

I mentioned in a previous post  that I’m starting to train for a half marathon in April, and today I completed my first milestone in training.  I finished my first 10K (6.2 mile) race– the Prom Classic in Nice!  My goal was to finish in under 62 minutes, and I came in at 1:01:28, so I was pretty happy about that 🙂

I’ve been carbo-loading on bread and pasta for the last few nights, and after a short yoga session this morning, I fueled up with some toast and a banana, filled my water bottle, put on my running shoes, and made my way into the city.  It was funny to see all the runners get on the tram into the city, knowing we were all going to the same place.

The course was a loop along the Mediterranean Sea, from the beginning of the Promenade des Anglais to the Nice airport and back.  It was a beautiful morning– about 56F and sunny.  I’d never run more than 5 miles before today, so I was crossing my fingers that I’d get through that extra 1.2 miles.  The race started in 5 waves, depending on your goal time.  When I was about a mile into the race, the first runners were already coming back down the Promenade!  The first place finisher this year finished in 28:50!  I reached the 8K (about 5 miles) mark pretty painlessly, but the last 2K were a little difficult.  I guess I have a lot of work to do before April!

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Overall the race was great!  The course, the time, the weather.  My only complaint was post-race organization.  The finish-line area was too small to hold all the runners, so it took forever to get to the water table.  Plus, there were no bagels or fruit left by the time I’d finished!  Oh, well.  My post-race indulgence was waiting for me in my freezer at home: Ben and Jerry’s Caramel Chew Chew ice cream 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Obligatory sweaty post-race picture 🙂

 

Our French word for today:
courir (coo-REER)- to run (because why not?!)
J’ai couru 10 kilometres aujourd’hui et mes jambes me font mal!
I ran 10 kilometers today and my legs hurt!

Life ain’t always beautiful, but it’s a beautiful ride

In high school during basketball season, we had to run the “beep test” every so often (for those of you who are unfamiliar, the beep test is a terrible fitness test where you run back and forth across the gym trying to beat the “beeps” as they play faster and faster until you can’t run anymore and/or you throw up). I thought that was the hardest thing I’d ever done.

In college, various organic chemistry tests, engineering problem sets, and then the MCAT quickly topped the list of hardest things I’d ever done.

Until now.

This is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done. I’m not quite sure if I was expecting it to be a piece of cake to come to a foreign country that speaks a different language where I know no one and have no apartment, bank account, or phone, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this hard. It’s only been a week and I already miss peanut butter, Pandora (doesn’t work here), Netflix (also doesn’t work here), leaves changing color, fall weather, refrigerated milk, and not having to carry my keys, toilet paper, and a flashlight to the bathroom (more on that later…)

For the first few days, I hated it. Why was I here? What was I thinking when I signed up for this? Would I ever feel comfortable in this new place? Would I ever be able to stop crying? I wished I had just one person here with me to share it with– to maybe take half of the burden so it wouldn’t be so hard.

So I gave myself one week to cry in my apartment, and then I did one of the things I do best: I made a list. I actually made a lot of lists. And that’s what this blog is dedicated to… not to lists, per se, but to the content of those lists: my fears, goals, expectations, accomplishments, frustrations, and other random encounters over the next eight months. I’m planning on having the best year of my life, and I want to share it all with you 🙂

So let me start by sharing my first list: my goals for this year
1. See 1 new city every month.
2. Join a church.
3. Take a French class.
4. Join an athletic club.
5. Lean how to cook a French meal.
6. Explore tourist-y Nice.
7. Discover not-tourist-y Nice.
8. Make new friends.
9. Find an apartment.
10. Get a phone.
11. Volunteer.
12. Finish my Fulbright project.
13. Get hooked on a French TV show.

I’ll keep adding to the list, too. If anyone has any other suggestions, I want to hear them!

But this is why life isn’t always beautiful. Sometimes it’s unbearably hard and lonely in a cramped studio with 2 hotplates, a minifridge, and a bathtub you can’t even stand up in. But I know the experiences I will have this year will make up for that. They will be beautiful.

Au revoir!

P.S. At the end of every blog post, we’re going to have a French lesson… one new French word I’ve learned that day/week. Our first word is:
mansardé– an adjective that describes an attic room with slanted ceilings
Ma chambre est mansardée donc je ne peux pas me tenir debout!
My room is in the attic with slanted ceilings so I can’t stand up straight!