Wednesday, April 30, 2014

european adventure revisited :: Interlaken, Switzerland.

I haven't been around this little blog much lately.  Now that the half marathon is over, the only thing on my mind is our Europe trip.  While prepping for this trip, I've been reminiscing on our last big Europe trip.  In 2009 we spent a month backpacking (loose term: we traveled with backpacks but stayed in hotels, apartments, etc.) throughout Europe. We started in Prague, jumped over to Munich, and then got engaged in Cinque Terre.   After we left Italy, we headed over to Interlaken, Switzerland.

We had friends who had visited Interlaken, and they highly recommended it to us as a must-see for our trip.  We stayed at the Backpacker's Villa hostel.  It was a great spot!  We had a private room (where we just may have had to push two beds together!) that overlooked the city.  Breakfast (modest: toast, cereal, etc.) was included.  We even used the communal kitchen one night, cooking our own meal, and met some other travelers.  On our first day in the city, we checked into the hostel and then went to check out the St. Beatus-Höhlen Caves.

On the way to the caves (we took the bus), you got to see some parts of the city that you may not normally see.  The caves were amazing.  Of course you can't take pictures inside, but you get a tour throughout the caves.

After our grotto tour, we headed to the city center.  We spent time walking around, trying some Swiss beers, and grabbing some beer and food for later at the hostel.  One thing to note about Switzerland: it's expensive!  At this point in our trip, we were starting to crave some "Americanized" foods (we may or may not have eaten at Hooters one day in Interlaken) and opted to eat at a mexican-style restaurant.  The meal was insanely expensive (don't quote me but I want to say 70 American dollars…this was 2009) and not really that great.  Interlaken is a smaller, touristy-type town so that may contribute to higher prices, but it was definitely the most expensive spot on our European adventure.

In my opinion, the weather was perfect in late June in Interlaken.  We have the best memories of just sitting outside by the river, at restaurants, and on the porch at our hostel.  

On our second day in the city, we decided to rent a scooter.  It was so much fun and an amazing way to  see the city.  We drove up to the countryside and checked out waterfalls.  Trummelbach Falls is a must-see.  The Falls include ten glacier-waterfalls that are accessible via elevator.  You can hike into the caves a bit to get better views of the falls. 

Interlaken is known for offering extreme sports.  With the gorgeous mountains and lakes, there's a ton to do.  Rafting, bungee jumping, canyoning, skiing, sledding, etc.  D and I opted to forgo any activities and save money for the remainder of our trip.  Since we didn't participate in an extreme activities, we spent the day visiting some lesser explored venues.

Putt putt in Interlaken was such a great experience.  Don't expect the greens you find when you play in the States.  It's all concrete here.  Best part?  There's a public pool with a water slide beside the putt putt course!  After a rousing game, we changed into our suits and hung out by the pool.

To end out our time in Interlaken, we caught the discount train/tram up to the top of a mountain.  It is a necessity to see the town from the top of a mountain.  We ordered beers from the restaurant on the mountain and toasted to the end of our time in Switzerland.

Have you visited Interlaken?  What was your favorite part?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Weekday morning rituals.

As a SweatPink Ambassador, I was sent Vegabars for the purpose of reviewing. I was not paid for this review, and all opinions are my own.

When I started my current job almost two years ago, I was thrilled to have hours that allowed for a morning workout routine.  While I flip flop between hardcore 4-5 day/week or easy 1-2 day/week a.m. workouts, there's something that keeps me coming back.  That's my morning routine.   

The gym is the best in the morning.  It's not crowded.  I can easily get a spot in a class even if I arrive only five minute prior to the class starting.  There is a method to the a.m. workout.  I always prep my gym bag the night before, which is an art in and of itself.  I have to make sure I have everything necessary for getting ready for work (god forbid I forget a regular bra and have to wear my sweaty one to work).  Aside from my bag, one of the hardest parts of morning workouts is breakfast.  Since I can't fry up eggs in the gym locker room, I make smoothies the night before.  I used to eat a couple boiled eggs on the side for extra protein to keep me full (especially after a hard workout).  

I'm lucky enough to have a Whole Foods a mile from my job, so I make sure I plan extra time to stop in and pick up a hot tea or coffee to pair with my eggs.  I've been attempting to cut back on my egg intake, so I thought I would try pairing Vegabars with my a.m. beverage instead.

My favorite Vegabars are the Vega Sport bars.  There's a Sport Protein bar and a Sport Energy bar.  The Sport Energy chocolate coconut flavor was delicious (it would be a great pair with coffee), but I think the apple cherry would have paired better with my hot tea.  I appreciate that the Sport Energy bars are plant-based and gluten free.  My bar of choice is Larabars which have no additives I've never heard of. All of the Vegabar ingredients were plant-based but some seemed unnecessary.  The rice crisps got a bit soggy in the apple cherry bar and did not add to the flavor of the bar.  I wish there was no added sugar (organic coconut palm sugar).  Paired with my hot tea and smoothie, I did stay full for three hours (which I'm guessing I can contribute to the 27g of plant-based carbs)!

On mornings when I don't head to the gym, I relish my "me" time.  I used to get up with barely 45 minutes to spare before running out the door to get to work.  No more.  I like to get up with plenty of time to enjoy my breakfast, drink coffee, and read a few of my favorite blogs.

I believe that eating natural fruits and vegetables should be our main priority in our diets, but sometimes it's time consuming to prep smoothies or other fresh ingredients.  Fridays are usually my "freebie" days were I can take it easy and not worry about prepping a smoothie the night before.  This week I opted for a leftover half of a smoothie with chia seeds (still need those fruits+veggies!) and a Vega One bar.  I wouldn't promote eating this "meal bar" solo since fresh foods are always best, but on a lazy or rushed morning it was perfect.  The chocolate peanut butter was delicious (I mean I can't turn down that combo), but the ingredient list is quite extensive.  The bar is packed with 12g of protein and other plant-based ingredients.  I think it would be a perfect bar for D who is constantly on the road with few healthy meal options.  The bar+half smoothie kept me full for 3-4 hours which is nice because sometimes even my full smoothies don't do that!

What are your favorite weekday morning rituals?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Everyone has something, or a few things, they're passionate about.  It may be career, taking care of others, creating, etc.  While my true, or at least first, passion lies in travel, it's not something I can throw myself into on a regular basis.  My next passion falls upon running.  To be overly dramatic, last year was devastating when I lost running.  Running is close to my heart, and it's an activity that just makes me feel so alive.  To lose something that I love so much was extremely hard.  I'm not sure that non-runners can quite understand this loss. Imagine a hobby you devote quite a bit of time to (ie. reading, photography, video games, etc.) and then imagine that hobby being taken away completely.  Again, I realize this sounds dramatic, but quite honestly these are my true feelings.  Finally running started to come back to me.   After many tears, a couple of un-run races, plenty of money, and ongoing physical therapy, my leg allowed me the ability to run another half marathon.

I chose a half because the 13.1 distance is my happy distance.  It's not too short, but just long enough for me to really push myself, surpassing boundaries I think can't be won.  I trained for twelve weeks for the Rock N Roll Raleigh half marathon.  I constantly worried my leg (which has still never felt completely back to normal since my stress fracture) would not allow me to run long distances again.  Even though I'm only soon-to-be 29, my body often feels as though it wants to rebel against me.  I feel every twitch, twinge, and soreness.  This made the process of training and racing more emotional for me.  Initially I hoped for a PR, but with injury pains lingering, I settled for my goal to be simply to finish the race.

This race felt like more than just a big fuck you to a past injury.  It was at home.  I feel in love with running in Raleigh.  I truly fell in love with this sport in my town.  My favorite weekend includes an early morning run on the greenway with a view of the Raleigh skyline.  Running has made me who I am today.  It has made more confident and proud woman.  This race felt so close to my heart being in Raleigh.  This is my city.  My running city.  It was a redemption race.  The was the day after my mom's birthday.  It was the race I worked so hard for.  Rock N' Roll Raleigh would make or break me.

In the days before the race, my leg was feeling a little "off" but it wasn't an injured typed of feeling.  I left home feeling so grateful for this chance.  The opportunity to run a half healthy, in my city, with D at the finish line was what I had been working towards.  It was a gorgeous day.  The temps were in the 50s for the start of the race, and the sun was shining.  Regardless of my nerves and anxiety, I felt ready.

The sun was beaming down on me.  The hills were plentiful and intense.  My mantra was to make the hills my bitch, and I did.  I ran up every damn one of them and did not walk.  I was hot.  I was exhausted.  My knee started hurting around mile 5.  At mile 10, I didn't even want to think about running another 5k, yet something kept me going.  My love for running?  My will to succeed and achieve?  The fact that I would never forgive myself for giving up?  All of it.  I never gave up.  I may have walked two times, but I ran with all my heart for the last 1.1 miles.  I achieved something that I worked so desperately hard for.  I accomplished something I've been waiting over a year to come to fruition.  I pushed myself.  When I wanted to give up, I pushed even harder.  This race reminded me why love running.  I am able to prove to myself that this is me: a strong woman who doesn't give up on what she sets her mind to.

I had D to meet me at the finish line, which makes a race a million times better.  I'm so grateful I had him there to give me a big hug and congratulate me.  It never would have been the same without him there.  We spent the morning enjoying brunch, bloodys, and beer.  What made this crazy, hard, perfect, race even better?

An unintentional PR (oh, and no post-race chafing!)!  My official time was 2:36:36, and I couldn't be more proud of myself.  My original PR was on an almost completely flat course in the Outer Banks.  This record was achieved post-injury, with a sore knee, and run in the heat and over a million hills.  Rock N Roll was the redemption race I needed.  I'm almost scared to even think about running another half because it will never be like this one…almost.

What's your next race?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday motivation.


I'm taking a page out of Alex's book and sending a little Monday motivation your way.  I've been away, and in the meantime I've been quite a ball of emotions and stress.  This quote (while not necessarily as motivating as it is thought-provoking) struck a cord with me.  Sometimes I come to a place in my life where I want so much to live but feel that living requires having earned something.  Everything in life seems to cost.  For now, I'm trying to kick the stress and worry aside and focus on my happiness and how I am living.

  • My first half marathon post-injury is Sunday.  I've worked so hard (and have been feeling really good on my long runs), and I know that work is going to pay off.  Running again has reminded me how great it feels to work so hard at something and be able to accomplish something.
  • Spring weather.  Enough said.
  • Planning our Spain/Portugal trip!  And counting down for it!
  • Reading.  Currently: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
  • Book club
  • Me time.
  • Yoga. Expanding my horizons and trying new things
  • My weight loss challenge with D.  Bring it!
How are you living these days?  What's making you happy?


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