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Paris Wrap-Up

3 Oct

First of all, if you’re just joining me, WELCOME!!! And go call your friends, I bet they’ll enjoy it here too!!

Wrapping up my Paris marathon trip – but first, if you want to catch up (or refresh your memory!!)  here are the links to all my Paris posts!!

The Official Start of my Trip

Some Filler…. 🙂

Flying to Paris! 

Marathon Expo!

Saturday in Paris

Le Marathon de Paris

Time to Shop!! 

It’s Always a good day for Champagne

Another day of shopping 🙂 

Cooking School!!!

So, our trip ended with the usual trip to the airport, lines through Passport control, security and of course some Duty Free shopping. And the lounge. And I had on some fancy footwear!

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That’s right…this really happened!

My trip ended like it started 🙂 In the Star Alliance lounge. There were yummy snacks and beverages but mostly there was some sad…..

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A few random thoughts:

I had a really nice time, and sometimes it pays to splurge and stay in an awesome hotel that you might have otherwise overlooked.

This was the first time that Eydie and I had ever been on a trip together (not counting Girl Scout camp!) and we should do it more often!

E is not a runner but did the 5K with me and did AWESOME! And one thing we talked about, that is really so true: When the bombing at the Boston Marathon happened, Eydie said she was kind of surprised by the response, mainly from the running community. How everyone seemed to be affected, like they’d been there or had friends/family there. After hanging at the expo and doing the 5K she simply said “Now I get it”. Runners are family. A tribe. No matter where we are.

I can’t wait to go back to Paris, to France. And take more cooking classes and learn more about wines. And, yeah, to eat more of those…..

And, yeah, I definitely need to head back and do that marathon thing the right way — there is definitely a PR waiting for me in France!!

And now, some shots that I maybe didn’t share with you earlier…

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One of many views of the tower

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The Cathedral at Reims

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One of many failed “jump shot” attempts!

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We climbed up these stairs in one of the champagne houses, up from the cellar

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Didn’t actually make it to the Louvre but…

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French onion soup…in France.. 🙂

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Tasty short ribs

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Marathon spectators…and entertainment!

This was a really great trip, and I can’t believe it took me six months to finally finish the story!!! But there you have it – thanks for coming along with me!

 

Cooking Like the French Do!

3 Oct

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When we were planning this trip, one of the very second things we decided to do, after running a marathon and drinking the champagne of course!, was to take a cooking class. I mean…really…how could I not?!

One thing that we knew we absolutely HAD to do in Paris was take a cooking class! Now, I love to bake but I’m pretty plain Jane when it comes to actual cooking grown up food. I enjoy reading recipes and thinking I’ll make some more fancy stuff, but I never do. This would be a chance to learn some new stuff that I’d hopefully be able to use.

Eydie thought I might want to do something related to baking but real food seemed to be the way to go (though, trust me, there were a lot of baking offerings as well!!)

We registered in advance and on our final day in Paris got up early for breakfast and headed out to meet the rest of our group at an outdoor market. The plan is that you shop for your ingredients then head back to the school to do the actual prep and cooking. And EATING!!

As a side note, to continue a recurring theme of this trip, our chef/teacher was from…yes, you guessed it….Texas 🙂

After deliberation, we selected to make scallops (the other options were lamb and veal, which BLECH!). We shopped for our scallops – in the shells still mind you! – as well as some veggies to roast, some cheese and berries for dessert.

It was really interesting to learn about some different and new (to me) veggies as well as hearing about how cheeses are made and aged and what makes them different.

Once back at the school we unpacked our goodies and started the prep work. With 8 of us things went pretty quick and it wasn’t long before we sat down to enjoy our scallops and roasted veg. We were also able to enjoy some nice wine.

The scallops were cooked very simply – salt and pepper and seared in a hot pan. The veggies were tossed with olive oil, some herbs and salt and pepper and stuck in a hot oven while we did the work on the scallops All of this was served with a really delicious, and surprisingly easy, hollandaise sauce – all plated in  a very lovely manner…

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A stack of veggies in the middle with my three scallops…notice the artful “smear” of sauce…

Remember the scallops were in their shells? Well…you know we had to clean those suckers ourselves!! I seemed to be the only one having trouble even getting the darn thing open! I got some help with that and was soon cleaning away with everyone else.

<insert no picture taken of the struggle!>

Our main course was followed with the cheese plate that we had put together in the market and also our berries with whipped cream. One thing that made the whipped cream really tasty was that we added lime zest when whipping. By hand.

Once lunch ended and we said goodbye to our new friends, and took the mandatory medal selfie,

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And medal shot….

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Eydie and I headed back to E. Dehillerin so I could pick up a Staub coquette – I had gone in looking for Le Crueset but really liked the simple black Staub. And, bonus, we had a coupon from the cooking school so once again, my procrastination and indecisiveness paid off! And I also decided to get a set of grown-up tongs!

 

After wandering around a bit (okay, I got us a little lost!) and found this park….

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we headed back to the room. I still needed to get some Eiffel Tower medal shots. E was tired so stayed in and I headed out once again making a stop at M. Georges for some macaroons for Phred’s babysitter (and, who am I kidding, me!) and of course the kouignettes which totally lived up to the reviews!!

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This is a pastry that is Right up my alley — slightly crispy puffy pasty with chewy gooey caramely goodness

Once I’d stocked up I wandered to Le Tour…where I hung around long enough to see them lighting it up for the night!

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The medal visits the Eiffel Tower

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I am not smiling because I have to leave tomorrow…

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There’s a great light show that ends with this!!

I didn’t hang out too long, since I still needed to finish packing and get some sleep – the shuttle was coming pretty early in the morning and after our trip FROM the airport, we were prepared for a very long ride out!

Up next, my final (sob) Paris post – really a wrap-up and recap along with some extra pictures that will hopefully make you smile!!!

I would HIGHLY recommend finding a way to take some sort of class on YOUR next trip to Paris! I know that I plan on it!!

 

Paris Marathon – And Then, We Went Shopping

3 Aug

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I’m not normally a big shopper, but hey, I was in the shoppingest city in the world so…when in Rome. Or, Paris….

My interests were in cooking supplies and Hermes scarves. And, possibly something sweet. Plus my medal needed to see the city!

On Monday after breakfast we made a plan! There were a few shops we for sure wanted to see and then we planned to roam a bit.

Our first stop was the Dyptique candle shop at St. Germain — such lusciously fragrant candles.

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After looking in here we wandered along.

and eventually made our way to Le Bon Marche but not before we found ourselves at the Mothership — Hermes. This was certainly going to be a window-shopping only situation!! But such gorgeousness, right?

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I could just roll around in these…

We headed over to Le Bon and roamed the several floors and made a stop for lunch

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Lunch, Paris style…

 

We made a couple of stops in smaller shops (chocolate maybe?!) as well as a walk over the Pont des Arts – also known as the “Love Lock” bridge

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A week after we were here they started taking down all of the locks….

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Then on to the Cathedral of Notre Dame where my medal had a chance for a picture with Pope Saint John Paul II as well as the rose window..

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With Saint Il Papa

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We had been wandering most of the day and knew that we’d be getting up early to take the train to Reims for champagne tasting so dinner was a baguette and some cheese we picked up in the local market – along with some wine we’d gotten on our first day in town!

Tomorrow, it’s off to Reims and some champagne tasting/tours – along with a lunch stop in a beautiful garden setting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paris Marathon — It’s Here!!!!

4 Jul

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C’est arrive! I couldn’t believe the day had finally come! I registered for this race back in early May/late April last year and it seemed like forever ago. This was going to be my third marathon in 6 months – something I have never done before! It was also going to be my TWENTIETH marathon ever!

I slept in til a bit after 7 – this would give me time to have breakfast and then take the 15-20 minute or so walk to the corral with plenty of time to spare. Plus. Nerves. In order to get my medal and the t-shirt, I was going to have to PR by at least 3 minutes. I honestly can’t remember what I ate for breakfast, but I would bet there was some meat and cheese involved. And probably a croissant…and coffee 🙂 After running back upstairs to brush my teeth and gather my things I was as ready as I was going to be.

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As we came off of our small side street onto the Champs Elysee, I realized that THIS was the starting line!! Like…less than a 5 minute walk from the hotel!! Score!! Eydie and I hung out and took some pictures.

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Then my camera died so I handed that off to E to take back to the room. I also gave her my post-run bag since I realized I wouldn’t be walking anywhere near the finish to drop off. The only thing in there anyway was my meter and some flip-flops! My pockets were filled with GoGoSqueez and some SunRype fruit strips and I was all set!

The weather was already warming up but I kept my jacket on, figuring I could tie it around my waist if it got to be too much. The plan was to stick to my intervals 1:1 and to check my sugars every 5K or so. Which of course is a great plan when you don’t get caught up in the excitement of the starting line! I mean, people, we were running down the middle of the Champs Elysee. In Paris. FRANCE!! The mood in the corral was incredible! I was in the last corral – rose – for people who planned to finish in over 4.5 hours. There were probably about 10,000 people in the corral! But it wasn’t crowded at all.

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And to start the group off, one side of the road was sent off first, followed by the other. Lucky me, I picked the early group!

The start was downhill on cobblestone. So good, but tricky! Once I got the initial burst of adrenaline out of my system I settled into my intervals – and noticed that when I would walk, every now and then another runner would pass me, tap me on the shoulder and shout encouragement!

Along the way, as we passed landmarks, there were signs telling us “Louvre coming up on the left” or “Eiffel Tower that way” with an arrow 🙂 We ran past castles even…

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Aid stations were every 5K – and they were STOCKED! Tiny bottles of water, piles of oranges, piles of raisins and…piles of SUGAR CUBES! For the first 2 or 3 I just grabbed water since I had my pocket supplies. Eventually when my sugar started dropping I would grab a sugar cube and a bottle of water.

At one point I passed a woman who was wearing a shirt from a race sponsored by my favorite Houston grocery store, HEB, so we started talking. She was over it by mile 10 or so. She was running 2:2’s and didn’t think she was going to make it in time. I told her I was doing fine with 1:1’s and I was actually really close to the timing on my 6:15 pace band. Eventually she pulled away with her friend and I kept on with my 1:1’s for the most part. I was having some pain in my right foot so took a few longer walk breaks.

Even though I was kind of obsessed with the time, I did enjoy the course – lots of variety and many many landmarks! I do know I didn’t take nearly enough pictures, mostly due to my camera not making it onto the course with me. I’m pretty bummed about that but I guess it gives me a reason to run this again, eh? I did manage to get a few though!

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Around mile 18 I was passed by the Paris equivalent of the runDisney balloon ladies 🙂

 

And I wasn’t alone! There were still a bunch of us out there, from all over the world and the camaraderie was always present – lots of encouragement all around!!

At about Mile 20, I saw my friend from Houston again and we ended up walking the last 6 miles or so (yes, I know it’s 6.2….but we didn’t walk ALL of it!) and talking – turns out her mom lives down the street from my dad and her running group runs on the bike/walk path that I use when I’m down there. It’s a Small World after all…isn’t it!!

She was resigned to the fact that we would miss out on the medal and I was kicking myself for walking…every now and then we’d jog. When we turned the corner onto the Rue Foch and came face to Arc with the finish line I said “Well, it’s time to sprint it in!” So we did. Finish line crossed and new friend hugged – and while I didn’t PR, we were only about 4 minutes past the cut off time.**

So imagine our surprise and DELIGHT when we heard someone yelling for us to come get our medals!! And THEN, he said “shirts are right down there”. Oh my gosh! I can’t even put into words how happy I was that I was going to get my medal and shirt!!

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I texted Eydie to let her know I was finished and where we could meet! She had rented a bike and rode around Paris for the day. She needed to drop off the bike and then make her way towards the Arc de Triomphe.

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But first, a picture….

After meeting up, we headed back to the hotel so I could get a shower (where I discovered some AWESOMELY horrible chafing from the shorts on my skirt) and then the plan was for an early-ish dinner. We found a nice little Italian place around the corner – it looked kind of fancy so wasn’t sure my leggings/sweatshirt outfit would get us in but within seconds the doorman had us seated with a glass of wine on the way!

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It was a nice dinner and I think I really relaxed for the first time in 6 months!! And, turns out that the woman at the table next to us was also from Houston – and lived probably no more than a mile from Eydie. I now am compelled to insert this here:

After dinner we took a walk through our fancy-pants neighborhood and took a shortcut to view the Eiffel Tower.

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Then headed back to the room – tomorrow was going to just be a loose day of sightseeing and taking my medal for a walk!!

**I haven’t looked but I’m pretty sure I show up as a DNF on this one. But, I *did* finish and it was AWESOME!!!!

 

 

Saturday in Paris – Breakfast Run, Breakfast Fun

4 Jul

We woke up on Saturday, ready to get out and get our 5K in!

Eydie had decided back in the fall that she’d like to do this with me so when registration opened we were on top of it!! NB: This would be her first “official” 5K – and quite likely the first 3 miles she’d run voluntarily!

I thought it would be fun for us to Sparkle on this run, and then back in February I decided to grab some Flowers for us to wear.

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Flat Anne and Flat Eydie

We went with the turquoise Sparkle Athletic skirts and after a “consultation” with the awesome ladies at Fellow Flowers, I chose the Orange flower. “Fiercely United”. Eydie and I have been friends since first grade and through anything that comes up, I always know that there is someone I can count on. If you saw us on paper, we’d probably be quite different. But as is often the case, it works!

We had our pre-breakfast run breakfast in the hotel. I’m pretty sure that the official fuel of any 5K should be a tender flaky croissant with Nutella. And coffee. Lots of coffee! There was another woman in the breakfast room who was also running the 5k AND she was from Houston! Our ‘waiter’ at breakfast each day was a HUGE fan of TX basketball, specifically San Antonio, so he was excited there were so many Texans in the hotel that weekend!!

We headed down towards the Arc de Triumphe where the run was going to begin.

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The flags of our countries – USA and Texas

It was pretty cool running through a small part of Paris –

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Oh look! There’s the Eiffel Tower…in person! Right There!!!

After much trial and error, we were able to get a pretty awesome “jumping picture” –

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Timing is everything. We did not have timing here….

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Almost there….

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Et – Voila!!

The 5K was great fun even with the drizzly crowded weather – though when we got to the finish there wasn’t a lot of the Breakfast portion available (we remedied that with a stop at a cafe on the way back to the hotel!).

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Cappucino

 

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What’s that? Another croissant?

After a shower and a change of clothes we headed out to check out a couple of places Eydie had researched – one of them was one of the oldest cooking supply stores in the city!

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This place definitely caters to the local restaurant crowd – but…O. M. G!! I was wishing I needed a tenth of what they offered!! There was definitely a plan in place to return!! I had found something I’d been coveting for awhile now!!

Later in the afternoon we decided to head back to the hotel and grab some dinner. I had 26 miles to run in the morning and she had to keep up!!

Naturally, as we climbed out of the Metro on the Champs Elysee, it was pouring rain! And, contrary to my usual nature, I was prepared with an umbrella!!

Now, my normal pre-marathon dinner is all about the meat and potatoes these days. I’ve done okay with some meatloaf and potatoes. Or, a burger and fries. That didn’t seem to be in the cards, so Italian it was. Some pretty amazing gnocchi. And, it’s a pretty good guess that I had a glass of wine too 🙂

After dinner we just went back to the room to veg – and watch the German versions of some of my favorite crime shows! I set the alarm for 7 just to make sure I’d have time for breakfast

After all, I didn’t even have to be in my corral until 9:50!!

Up next, The Big Day!! The plan was to go in slow. Isn’t that always the plan? I was shooting for 6:15 which would be a record for me by 3 minutes and would get me the t-shirt and medal I had traveled so far for!!

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