5 Places I Would LOVE To Visit and Run In The U.S. {Friday Five!}

Fun factoid fail. In my last post, I attempted to share a fun February fact but as my husband and 50in50marathonquest so kindly noted to me, there really wasn’t anything special about it. I tried looking up where I had heard about my fail factoid but couldn’t find it and there you go, another don’t believe everything on the inter webs. BUT, February does start and end the same day which is not a common occurrence. (I felt I needed to give you something! 😀 ) My source: Wikepedia, lol!

Linking up again on this Friday morning with the DC Trifecta ladies Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney for the weekly Friday Five 🙂 I’m straying from their theme this week though, it being Valentine’s Weekend and all ❤ , and instead writing about

                     5 Places I Would Love To Visit and Run in the United States

I’m a huge history buff and enjoy learning about our country and all the interesting places there are in it. And like a lot of American runners, I’d like to run a race in all 50 states; however, there are some specific places that I’d like to visit.

1. Marine Corps Marathon–Washington, D.C.

I DID THIS! I DID THIS!

MCM was my dream/bucket list race and I got to do it in 2014. I distinctly remember putting my name in the lottery thinking there was no way I’d get in on the first try. Welp! 😀

This race encompasses so much of what I love. My dad was a Marine, the race takes you through so many awesome landmarks in our nation’s capitol, and you experience something so amazingly awesome–beyond running marathon. It’s really indescribable.

Best. Medal. Ever.

Best. Medal. Ever.

2. Mt. Rushmore–South Dakota

This is a landmark that fascinates so much for some reason. I’m not sure it’s something that could/would be built today (for a variety of reasons) and I think it’s incredible that it was done in the first place. Like, people made that!!! With their hands!!! (Duh Helly–I know, I know… lol)

The race I would run is the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon. They have a Mt. Rushmore tour the day before (yay!) and the race is on a beautiful course with views I’m not accustomed to here in the desert. The elevation chart isn’t horrible either.

Not bad..

Not bad..

3. Canyon de Chelly Ultra 

I know I have an ultra in me somewhere. Not a long one, but maybe a 50k. There’s a few I’d like to do but there’s one in my state that just looks amazing. It’s up in northern Arizona, Chinle, and the biggest thing I love is how much the race sticks to its roots and culture. From the get-go at packet pick-up, guests are asked to to brush off their shoes so that no foreign elements are introduced to the canyon. I love this aspect of respecting your surroundings and land that is special to so many people. Before the race, a Navajo prayer is said for runners; at the end, Navajo food is provided. This is a race that sells out in minutes and a few of my friends in my running club made the cut this year!!

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4. Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon–Alaska

Kristen at Run Away With Me lives there and I LOVE seeing her pics. Besides wanting to see her, I’d love to run in some of Alaska’s beauty. This marathon happens on the day closest to the summer solstice where there’s maaaaybe 4 hours of nighttime darkness. And even then, it’s not completely dark, right Kristen?

How cool does that sound??

5. I was wanting to choose a fifth but really, there are so many awesome races in this country. I’d love to do Big Sur in California, St. George in Utah, the Indy Mini in Indianapolis, Pike’s Peak in Colorado, Grandma’s Marathon in Minnesota…there’s no shortage of good ones in the U.S.A. ❤

–Where in the United States would you like to race in?

–What’s the best race in your country (if not stateside)? 

 

 

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Helloooo July!! Mid-Year Review

It’s crazy to think half the year is gone! Is it me, or did it fly by??

I love new months. I know that we shouldn’t wait for a new month or a new week to start anything, that we should start whenever we have the urge or desire or want to, but there’s something about the beginning of a new month that gets me excited about what’s to come. Usually this is when I’m the most motivated.

I uploaded last night’s run (I somehow didn’t learn and went out again in 104 degree weather–106 according to my Garmin info) and looked at my total miles for the month. It was my lowest to date.

There’s nothing wrong with that and honestly I needed a low mileage month. Leading into marathon training, I purposefully wanted to lessen my mileage and rest the legs.

Looking at June’s miles made me want to look at the rest of the year. I had set a goal back in January to run 1000 miles in 2014–a goal that I didn’t care if I met or not but was interested to see how close I got.

Then I started looking at all I’ve done up to this point. I was busy!

Here’s January-June Mid Year Review:

January
Total Miles: 93.75

I ran my sub 2 hour goal half marathon this month and rocked it! I was also pretty deep into marathon training at this point.

February
Total Miles: 77.46

This month was taper month. I ran a great 10k where I placed in my age group and got my first double medal 🙂

March
Total Miles: 93.58

March Marathon Madness!!! My first marathon!!! Unforgettable. Hard. Life-changing.

I learned so much from my first. I love that I don’t have anything to compare it to yet–right now, it’s my best one 🙂 And you never really forget your first.

April
Total Miles: 85.3

Hello Europe!! I was still running pretty consistently here as I prepared for Rock n Roll Madrid, Spain. Another remarkable, unforgettable moment in my life. Traveling through Spain, Italy, and France with my husband was just the best ever.

This was also the month my brother, sister, and I ran our first race together–a family 5k 🙂 (I PR’d in the rain!)

May
Total Miles: 62.95

Oh this is the month I crossed the Grand Canyon twice, no big deal. 😀

June
Total Miles: 47.19

REST!!! You can tell from how busy I’ve been that I needed a good ‘ol month of rest. And even then I had to spice things up by doing my first trail race (and first night race)!

I can’t even explain how excited I am for the rest of the year. I have so much to look forward to (my son turns 1!) and am already so blessed. I’m especially glad I have this outlet where I can document my experiences–sometimes I go back and look at old posts, it’s like sifting through a memory album 🙂

Screenshot_2014-05-28-21-16-05-1Thank you for being a part of my journey! Here’s to the rest of 2014!
–Do new months motivate you?

–How has your year been so far? Running and life-wise??

Euro Trip–Last Stop: Paris, France

Our flight out of Rome to Paris was in the morning so we arrived with plenty of day to explore. But, we were tired. And quite frankly, at that point, I really missed my kids.

Our ride to the hotel took us through some major sites but unfortunately we weren’t camera ready. The Notre Dame, which was on my list, was absolutely stunning. Sadly, we didn’t make it to see it in person.

Our hotel was whoa fancy. The Hyatt Regency boasted 34 stories with amazing views. We were on the 7th floor and had some good things to see out the window 🙂

There was a mall attached to the the hotel (I know, right!?) with shops, restaurants, and a Trader Joe-esque grocery. And guess what? The sodas there were only 2 Euros!!!

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There was also a Paradise Bakery like eatery with the most amazing croissants. I did some serious carb loading there. Serious.

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After we dropped off our luggage and freshened up, we checked out the map and decided the Eiffel Tower was of priority. We saw that on the way was the Arc de Triomphe and figured we’d visit that as well.

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This was taken in the middle of the street. Literally. There were cars zooming passed everyone and no one cared lol! That smile? That’s a take the picture and let’s scram smile.

We walked through an underground tunnel to get a closer look at the Arc. It was in the center of a busy street so you couldn’t just walk across to it.

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Ceiling

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

This was about half way between our hotel and the Eiffel Tower so we were pretty close. This was good because it started to rain. A lot.

On our way to the tower, we somehow found ourselves in a park with an amazing view.

Peace from Paris <3

Peace from Paris ❤

We huddled under a tree hoping for the rain to let and it did, enough for us to continue on our way.

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When we got to the tower, we immediately begin looking for where we had to buy tickets. The way you do this is by looking for the line. The line will take you where you need to go lol! It was about an hour and a half of waiting in line and the waiting didn’t end there.

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We decided to pay full price to go all the way to the top. I’m so glad we did. At the bottom, you could really appreciate the tower’s grandness but at top–wow.

It required getting on an elevator to the first level. This didn’t take long but the wait for the next elevator did. This is when it started to pour. I’m talking full on soaking status. Plus, it was super cold. I teeth-chattered my way through that entire line telling myself, Yolo, Helly, yolo.

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We made it to the top and it was oh so worth it. I loved how they had comparison’s of other talk buildings and how the Eiffel Tower surpassed them. I learned that there’s a ginormous building in Dubai. It was funny because you’re seeing other buildings that you thought were tall and the Tower was huge next to it. Then you get to the Burj Khalifa and whoa!!!! It makes me curious (and a little fearful) to see it in person.

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It was near evening when we made back to the bottom and initially I had wanted to stick around to see the tower lit at night but by then I was drenched and freezing and grumpy that all I wanted to do was get back to the hotel. It was two miles away.

There were quite a few people selling umbrellas and we found that we only had 6 euros; the price of one was 10. We kept telling the guy that that was all we had, take it or leave it–luckily, he took it.

That umbrella saved us from potential hypothermia as we made our way back to the hotel in the cold, pouring rain. I was wearing ballet flats (What were you thinking Helly? –Clearly, I wasn’t) and I was deathly afraid of blistering. Remember, I had 18 Death March trail miles that Sunday!

I made it unscathed and we decided to treat ourselves for dinner and order in. We fell asleep waiting for our meal to get delivered to our room.

The next day, our last day in Paris, I only had one thing on my mind. The Louvre.

We started late because we totally slept in jaja! We checked out the map to see where the museum was and we decided it definitely required a metro ride. I was better prepared with tennis shoes this time, but I still didn’t want to make that trek knowing we’d have a long wait in line.

Yep, another 3+ hour wait lol!

This time it wasn’t so bad though as we made a friend with an American from Vegas. He was a triathlete, so we talked running for a while. We also struck up a conversation with a girl from the Philippines who said she didn’t think Europe was as expensive as she’d expected.

Wait, wha???

I told her that the price of soda there was absolutely ridiculous and that in the United States you could get soda for under a dollar. And that at restaurants, when you ordered a soda with your meal, they gave you free refills. She looked at me like I was crazy. Free? Yes, free. Gratis. Gratuit.  No extra charge.

—By the way, I forgot to mention that in certain places they charged you 5 Euros to use the bathroom. We went to a McDonald’s once only to use the bathroom because it was free there.

Moving on, our Filipino friend was stunned with the news.

Because we had good conversations with our new friends, the wait in long went by swiftly. I felt like we reached the entrance in no time.

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Outside about to walk in (this is pre-line)

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Close to the entrance

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We made it!

Once inside, we had to navigate our way to purchase tickets. This wasn’t as easy as it had been other places. Plus, it was huuuge. We paid and then looked at the museum map to find the Mona Lisa–what we really wanted to see. We found the wing it was in and kept moving.

Like the Sistine Chapel, the Mona Lisa was towards the end of the wing so you saw a lot before you actually got to it. This was great and I saw a few things I was hoping to see as this was the only wing we ended up visiting.

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And then there she was:

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My husband was shocked. And not by how awesome it was to be seeing the Da Vinci in person but because of how small it was. He said it should be renamed the Mona Little. Jajajaa!!

Trying to get close to take a picture was insane. And scary. People were jostling and pushing and elbowing that you even felt like you couldn’t breathe being sandwiched between everyone.

We finally reached the front and took super quick snaps and got out of there. It was seriously intense.

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Holding on to my husband for dear life.

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Mona

It was pretty awesome seeing her in person. It was another one of those where you’ve read tons about it (I loved the Da Vinci Code!) and wondered what it was like. When we made our way out of that wing, we debated continuing on. It was early evening and we had time to explore but I went with eating and shopping at our hotel mall instead. I was so beat.

I purchased some goodies for myself and goodies for my two kids 🙂

My parents went to Paris and all I got was this shirt.

My parents went to Paris and all I got was this shirt ❤

I missed her and my son so much. The next morning our flight was set to depart at 10:30 Paris time (1:30 a.m. Phoenix) but was delayed almost two hours. We got in to Chicago where we were supposed to connect but missed it because of the Paris delay. I was so upset. We had planned it so that we’d be home by bedtime but there was no way we’d make it now. We ended up arriving in Phoenix at 10:30 p.m. (6:30 a.m. Sunday in Paris). I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. to get in those 18 trail miles/Death March the following morning. More on how that went later.

Overall, our entire trip was absolutely amazing. I loved how we planned everything and even though our plan sort of shifted at the end, I felt fulfilled. I felt like I was able to see SO much of what I only dreamed I’d be able to see in my lifetime. Truly, I never thought I’d make to the other side of the world. I never thought I’d see things I’d only before read in books.

When we were getting on the plane to go to Spain and start our trip, I said to my husband, “We’ll come back different people, you know.”

And we most certainly did.

The face of someone very excited to go home :)

The face of someone very excited to go home 🙂

 

Thank you SO much for following my Europe journey. I love having my trip documented in this way so I can come back and fondly relive these moments. Your comments have only added to the spirit of my trip and I’ll look back on these past few posts with much love. If you missed anything, Spain is here and here and Italy is here, here, and here

 

Next stop (because I’m Helly *always* On The Run 🙂 ): Grand Canyon–Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim

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