My Christmas Wishlist

In case anyone wants to get me something for Christmas, I’ve compiled my ultimate Christmas wishlist.

Private Dance Lesson from Channing Tatum (his hot wife can totally be in attendance)

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To Be Yelled at by Nick Saban

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A Scouting Trip to Bend, OR

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Three More Pairs of Lone Peaks 2.5

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Entry into Western States

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A National Championship

henry

To Be Serenaded by JT

justin timberlake jay z suit and tie

To Be a Part of This

adele

To Be Jenn’s Best Friend

jenn shelton

And Finally, Absolutely Anything Trail Running Related

 

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Who are you wearing — ultrarunning style

If you read my race report on Pinhoti 100, then you know that nothing crazy bad happened — even with the cold and incessant rain. Aside from stellar crew and pacers, my gear and clothing choices were a big reason why I stayed as dry as possible, had no real feet issues including blisters or trench feet, and suffered from ZERO chafing (seriously, 25+ hours in the rain and not one spot). I’ve had a lot of people ask me what I wore so here are the highlights:

First and foremost is the love of my life, my shout it from the roof top, completely obsessed with,  Altra Lone Peaks 2.5. Before I got these bad boys, after about 16-18 miles or so, my feet would hurt. There was no injury, no pinpointed cause of pain other than just time on feet and technical terrain. Knowing this couldn’t and wouldn’t fly for a 100 miler, I tried on a variety of shoes before slipping into the Lone Peaks. As soon as I put them on — Heaven (My feet are weird in that my heel is really narrow and toes splay out wide. The footshape toe box is a god-send for my toes.). The first time I took them for a spin – super technical trails in Chamonix. Then a 24 mile training run, then Stump Jump 50K — NO PAIN at all. I decided to buy a second pair to take to Pinhoti. In weeks leading up to the race, I even wore my first pair for any road runs I did. My newest pair was my go-to shoe on race day. I took them off once to change socks (thanks, rain and creek crossings) and was happy to put them right back on. They were great — no painful feet, and they held up great on the rocks and in the rain/mud. I saw multiple people fail to get traction on some of the steeper, muddier sections. I never had a problem at all. After Pinhoti, I’m a Lone Peak lifer.

Boring Stuff: 9.2 oz; moderate cushioning; footshape toe box with zero drop platform; 25 mm stack height (Apparently, Altra improved the durability of models past — not sure about other models, but I can definitely attest to the durability of the 2.5s)

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Speaking of wet feet, like I said, I had no real issues. Only a small blister that formed on my big toe around mile 82. Pain went away around mile 83. With all of the water, it could have been a recipe for foot disaster. Honestly, I was shocked. Why was I so lucky? Besides drinking a lot and making sure not to get dehydrated, I slathered my feet in Skin Strong Slather at the start of the race and again when I changed socks at mile 65 (well, Ryne slathered them for me). I also used it everywhere there was a potential to chafe. Stuff worked great. It stayed on so nicely that I think I would’ve been fine if I hadn’t reapplied at mile 65 (But better safe than sorry. Plus, Ryne gets to relive that nightmare for the rest of his life). Along with the Skin Strong, I wore Swiftwick wool socks (1″ to start, 12″ starting at mile 65). My feet were wet by about mile 3. The wool wicked the moisture great and left my feet in great condition. I love these socks and have never raced in anything but — including the super wet Stump Jump, which also proved blister-free.

Boring Stuff:

Skin Slather: super long lasting; no gross smell — made with tea tree oil; made for triathletes who are the pickiest folks in the world so it’s gotta be good

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Swiftwick Pursuit socks: Merino wool toe and heel — for padding and wicking;  arch support; full-cushioned footbed; no toe seams; half density weave for no “bunch” movement

Finally, my Ultimate Direction Ultra jacket — I haven’t been this excited about a purchase since my horse cardigan in 2011. This jacket kept me about as dry as I could be in those race day conditions. If I had changed my base layer properly, I wouldn’t have had a problem at all. I wore this jacket from mile 30-90. The hood and bill were great for keeping the never-ending rain out of my eyes. It was light enough to carry in my pack before needing to put it on. The flip mitts on the sleeves were amazing — I have huge problems with freezing hands, and these served great with and without additional gloves. Plus, it’s just freaking pretty. Just a solid, solid jacket. (Before I wore it at Pinhoti, I got in the shower with it on to see if it’s really waterproof. Success).

Boring Stuff: waterproof with fully taped seams; exceeds waterproof/breathability standards required by UTMB (?!); internal chest pocket holds/protects iPhone and has headphone port (seriously?!); underarm vents; flip mitts — self storing, waterproof mitts

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I fully, 100% believe that without my Altra Lone Peaks, Skin Strong, Swiftwicks, and UD jacket, race day could’ve gone horribly awry. You can find all of these at Nashville Running Company. (Christmas is coming up, hint, hint!).

Pinhoti 100 — Race Report

Not going to lie, trying to figure out a way to put the Pinhoti 100 into words seems almost as daunting as the race itself. I know there are things I will get wrong, sections of the course and people I will forget, and I will never do this experience justice. However, here’s my attempt.

Pinhoti weekend started with me picking up Jeff in our rental car — a huge Suburban that could’ve carried the crews of 2-3 runners. We drove the 4 hours or so to Sylacauga, AL but not before stopping at the amazing Tennessean truck stop (where we contemplated buying an entire cured ham, opting instead for an Alabama car flag) and eating at Applebee’s in Gardendale, AL (where we were treated to the wall of Alabama “celebrities”).

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My mom met us at packet pickup which was great. We talked to Scott and Cary before heading to the hotel with Steven and Kimber. The drive was only about 40 minutes but long enough to hear the “Whisper Song” 3-4 times. Ryne and Khette met us at the hotel, and we noshed on some Mellow Mushroom before turning in for the night. After some pretty decent sleep, I was awoken with the Alabama fight song from Khette’s phone (and in case you don’t know, Khette’s a HUGE UT fan). She even wore a Bama shirt and hat. #BestCrewEver We all grabbed some breakfast at the hotel and set out towards the start line. By then, it had started to rain some, but with the humidity as high as it was, the rain was almost welcome. After some last minute lubing up and a pee break in the woods, it was go time.

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Because of the rain, the race actually started at Aid Station (AS) 2 and did an out and back to AS 1. The first 13 miles were single track on pine straw which I kept thinking felt soft enough to be God’s mattress. I don’t remember ever running on pine needles before, but it was very nice. I saw my crew at AS 2 and grabbed my pack from them (I started the race out with just my handheld since I knew I’d see them fairly quickly). I settled back into a really nice, easy pace and was feeling great when I rolled into AS 3 at mile 18. I grabbed a clementine from Khette and some chips. Since I knew this would be the last time I saw my crew until mile 40 and that there were a couple of unmanned aid stations on this section, I grabbed a 3rd flask filled with Skratch to put in my pack along with some extra Little Debbie cakes.

Start Line

Start Line: Photo Cred – Greg Gelmis

I still felt good as I headed back into the woods and onto single track. Because of all the rain, we were presented with some really beautiful waterfalls. Even though it was a pretty section, this was the first time that my mind tried to get in the way. I started thinking “how the hell is this going to happen? How am I going to make it all of this way?” I pushed out these thoughts as best as I could and focused on making it to the next aid station. Phil made me a bracelet with the distances between each station and my expected arrival times at each. Aside from being incredibly helpful, it also gave me something to do every now and then — check the bracelet, check the time, recheck the bracelet because I couldn’t remember what the bracelet said the first time. As we made our way to the next manned station at mile 27, I had to scramble up some slippery boulders. That definitely got me out of my funk, as did spotting the aid station tent. And then I heard someone yell my name. “Season?!” I had no idea Season and Hunter were going to be there, and it was such a great surprise! Season had my drop bag all out and ready for me. Hunter gave me the rundown of the race so far. It was hard to leave them, but I knew I’d see them again at mile 40.

I took off back down the boulders and onto more single track. There were a bunch of water crossings, and I’m not talking “ooh my feet got a little wet” crossings. Water was rushing in most of these. I had begun running with a guy from NC, and we had to actually help each other across some of them. I had been looking forward to climbing Cheaha, and finally, we started climbing. As we climbed, it became a lot more technical. The trail was littered with larger, moss-covered rocks. Fog started covering the trail giving the trail a fun, eerie vibe. We hit a long boardwalk that was super slick, but that meant we were close to the aid station and my crew. They had an awesome setup under a shelter at the end of the boardwalk. Ryne gave me some amazingly warm ginger tea. Khette gave me the run down of football scores, and Jeff filled up my pack. I got out of there as quickly as I could — it was getting darker by the minute, and I wanted down Blue Hell before it was too dark.

Blue Hell is aptly named. Straight down with lots and lots of rocks. Many times I had to crawl down the rocks using hands, feet, and butt. At one point, the guy in front of me completely wiped out while running down a fairly steep, muddy section. I tried to do the opposite of what he did but ended up sliding down on my side as opposed to my back. After my mud bath, the trail smoothed out just as it started getting dark. Between the AS at mile 45 and 52, there were more creek crossings. One of them was so deep and was rushing so hard that we had to go further down, through the water, and crawl back to the trail head. I was so glad not to be alone at this point — people were falling in the water left and right. Slowly, the single track took us up and down and around until we could finally see the lights of AS 9. They had everything you could ever want to eat and drink here, including whiskey. They also had a TV set up underneath a tent — fortunately, the Bama game hadn’t started yet or else I may never have left. After an amazing grilled cheese, I got on my way. It was only 3 miles to the next AS and my crew. Some wet and chilly miles later, I was rolling into AS 10 at mile 55. Hunter gave me the Bama score (3-0; we made a field goal!) as I sat down for the first time all day. I changed shirts from the NRC race kit to a Mizuno tech short sleeve (probably my only real mistake of the race). Khette rolled out my IT band and quads as Jeff got me a quesadilla and Ryne gave me more ginger tea. It was straight up star treatment to the the tune of dub step being blasted by the AS.

Mile 55 Aid Station

Mile 55 Aid Station

Some 6-7 minutes later, I was walking out of the AS and up a jeep road. The soft, jeep road was such a physical and mental break from the technical trail of miles past. I should have run more on this section, but I was freezing, and for the first time all day, my legs just felt dead. I got passed by a lot of people on this section, and finally, I was able to talk myself into running/shuffling. This 5 mile section took a lot longer than I thought it should, but eventually the small aid station came into sight. Still cold, I drank ramen like it was my job as I listened to the game over the AS worker’s radio. I stayed here longer than needed, but they had a dog there, and earlier in the day, I was really missing Gyps. . . so I played and got puppy kisses. Season and her runner came up just as I was about to leave. Season said to run the next section with them — which I was so happy to do. We headed out on some more jeep road for a couple of miles. Scott Bell and his pacer, Brad, came blazing by us, looking and feeling great. The jeep road dumped us back on to single track, and we stuck with the Season in front, Rebecca in the middle, and me bringing up the rear formation for the rest of the way. Even though we were three tired people trying to make conversation, just having them there was so nice. We kept thinking we saw the aid station until finally we were right. My crew was there again, gave me the score (according to Jeff, we won 1000-16. It was really 30-16, but I’ll take it). My feet were soaking wet, and I made the decision to change into my tall, wool Swiftwicks. Ryne earned a huge badge of honor for reapplying Bodyglide to my feet before putting on new socks. Jeff gave me coffee that was a freaking God-send as Khette got the stick after my legs again. Steven packed me up some goodies for the “road”, and soon, Jeff and I were on our way. Picking up a pacer, along with the new socks and coffee, was the best thing that happened all day. I felt like we were running really well, and we soon started passing people. We also were talking a lot as Jeff got me caught up on the events of the day which made the miles pass by quickly. Soon, we were starting the climb up to the Pinnacle AS at mile 74. After climbing for a while, we saw and heard the AS before we snaked around the switchbacks that would lead us there. We could see headlamps below us which is always really cool. The Pinnacle climb was a pretty decent climb — harder than the Cheaha one, for sure. At the AS, we ate some delicious soup, and Jeff packed me down with potatoes, chips, and gummy bears. I was so happy here because 1. miles 65-74 were the best I felt the entire day and 2. I knew we had a marathon left, and given the time, we could basically walk the rest of it in.

We left the AS, and we quickly realized the weather was not on our side. It had been raining off and on the entire day, but the next 6 miles were brutally wet and cold. At one point, we were on a ridgeline, and the wind was just insane. Jeff gave me his buff and his arm warmers. I desperately wished I had put on the Craft base layer at the last aid station. Regardless, I was so thankful Jeff was there, especially when he lifted my cold, spirits by telling me how Steven got locked in the women’s bathroom. We ran through the AS at mile 79 but not before Jeff took a video of how crazy the wind was blowing their tent. We got on a jeep road for a while — it felt a little warmer which was “nice.” Eventually, we were dumped back on the trail. I don’t know if we were moving slowly or if it was a little longer than advertised, but this section seemed to take forever. We were still moving pretty well though and continued passing a few people. As we got closer, Jeff gave me advice for the last section including “if it hurts to run and it hurts to walk, run.” We saw a headlamp bobbing ahead and ran into Brad as Scott was taking a pit stop. Just a little while longer, and we were at the mile 85 AS. As usual, the crew had a sweet set up. I quickly changed into my Craft shirt (so much happiness), ate a ton of food, got another stick rubdown, said a million thank yous to Jeff, and then Ryne and I were headed out on the last 15. This AS looked awesome and looked like it had the best food imaginable, but I was ready to get started on this last section

Ryne filled me in on what had been going on throughout the day, and the conversation continued as the “sun” came up. There wasn’t much sun, but the light of day was a nice change from the past 13-14 hours of dark. We were at the mile 90 AS pretty quickly. I was finally warm and able to shed my UD jacket which Ryne put in his pack. We grabbed some water, coke, and a few snacks before getting back on the jeep road. It was pretty easy terrain with a few gentle rollers. Ryne was great and would tell me when/how far we were going to run and then when we would hike. We did this all the way until the next aid station, but not before I saw a leaf that I thought was a dead baby turtle. I had heard about the brownies at the final AS and probably talked to Ryne about them for a couple of miles. Our plan was to grab a brownie and get out of the AS as quickly as possible. The brownies did not disappoint. At the AS was a sign that read “2 miles of trail, 3 miles of road”. Ryne checked his watch as mine had crapped out just as I picked him up. The trail was more like jeep road and some grassy spots, but we hit the road a little more quickly than expected. 3 miles was all we had. We employed the walk-run method as we passed by a farm with some donkeys and then picked up an actual road. We kept thinking we should be getting close to the school, but not yet. My legs were dying, but having Ryne there, made me run sections that I probably would’ve just walked. I told him how tired I was getting and he told me to eat. I poured some gummy bears in my mouth just as we saw Chris walking towards us. We asked how much further — “1 mile. . . and there’s no reason you should be walking this, Beth.” Crap. He was right. So we started running again. FINALLY, we saw the turn off the road and towards the school. Soon, we saw the lights of the high school stadium, and then there was the track. As we entered the track, Ryne just said “you did it. You’re a 100 mile finisher.” I almost lost it when he said that. We made our way around the track before Ryne peeled off and I ran through the finish line.

finish pic

My mom and dad were there as were the crew. So much happiness and not enough thanks could be given to anyone. I was just completely overwhelmed by what all of these people had just endured and done for me. There is NO way that race would have happened without them. Honestly, the race could not have gone better (to me). No stomach issues, no injuries, no super dark spots. Only thing I would change is putting on the Craft base layer. My crew was a well oiled machine, and my pacers were beyond amazing (I realize now what a poor job I did pacing for Jeff — I learned so much from them and I’ll be a better pacer/crew member next time!). 25:16:17. 100 Mile finisher.

What I wore/Gear

Pearl Izumi shorts (entire race)

NRC race kit shirt; Mizuno tech; Craft base layer

Swiftwick socks x 2

Altra Lone Peaks 2.5 (never once did I change shoes or want to)

Salomon pack

Boco hat; 2 buffs

Skin Slather lube at start and 65; Bodyglide for along the way

THANK YOU to everyone who called, texted, facebooked. Thank you to Nashville Running Company for all the gear and support and allowing me to be on the race team. HUGE, GIGANTIC THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to my crew. Forever indebted to you.

Chamonix: I Don’t Like It; I love it, love it, love it.

On our second day in Chamonix, mom and I went  up the cable car opposite of Mt Blanc and up to Le Brevent. From there, we got spectacular views of the mountains and the valley below. I mapped out a run that took me from the cable car stop at Planpraz, up to Lacs Noirs/Lac Cornu, and over to L’Index.

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Game Day, y’all!

The run began with a hike up a fire road before hanging a right and onto lots and lots of rocks — a theme that would continue the entire run. A lot of the run was run for 10 yards, hop rocks for 20, run for 5 feet, scramble for 15. It was delightful. The first two miles I climbed roughly 1200 feet and rocked a 18:00 min/mile average. I was the only one running, but there were plenty of hikers most of the way.

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Long way to go to train for the rock garden @ Stump Jump

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Luckily, the trails were marked well enough to where even I couldn’t get lost

I passed lots of people having picnics, especially when I passed by Lacs Noir. I looked down and there in the valley was just a random lake. Of course, I didn’t look for long as I needed all the help I could get at staying upright. I finally made it to L’Index but wanted to keep going. About a tenth of a mile later, it seemed that the trail just ended . . . until I noticed a “handrail” along the side of rock. I realized that I was supposed to use that for the next quarter mile. So, I thought, what the hell? If I die, at least I’ll die in the Alps.

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So I grabbed it and kind of crawled across the rocks until finally making it to a “trail”. It wasn’t as bad as I thought since it was going slightly uphill. But things got a little scarier when I had to make my way down in the same fashion. I was glad no one was around to watch me do it because it was probably the least graceful thing I’ve ever done.

I back tracked all the way back to the Planpraz cable car stop. My time improved a little bit on the way back as I became a little more surefooted. As I got closer, I started hearing bells. My first thought — is there seriously a Mississippi State fan with a cowbell out here?! (I mean, it was game day after all). Then, I realized it was goats!

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I finally made it back to Planpraz where they had a bar/restaurant. I got some more water, fueled up with Huma (thanks, Steven!!!), and started the 3 miles back down to Chamonix. I had no idea I could go that slowly on a downhill, but with rocks and sharp turns, it was basically a shuffle the entire. A shuffle with an incredible view though:

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Total running time: 2:30; 10.5 miles; 2600 ft’. Not a bad day at all.

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This is my “I can’t believe I’m here, I never want to go home” face

Chamonix, Chamonix Ain’t No Place I’d Rather Be (part un)

Clearly when the Dead wrote that there’s nowhere else they’d rather be than in Tennessee, they had never been to Chamonix. When Mom began planning this trip, I asked her to go to Chamonix which is the home of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc . . . so obviously I was DYING to go run there. As soon as we got off the train, I was in love with this place.

The first day, Mom and I rode the cable car up to Aguille du Midi to take in the breathtaking views of Mont Blanc. From there, I began my first run in the Alps. The terrain was a little more technical than I expected, but it was still pretty runnable. I kept turning around though to take in the jaw-dropping views. IMG_1352

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Most people were hiking except for two other girls, but all were super friendly and encouraging. I even had an elderly dude yell “you’re already late for the beer!” The entire time I was hiking or jumping from rock to rock, I kept thinking “this is the coolest thing I’ve ever done” . . . and it was. Some things are great to experience with others; however, running in the Alps and doing it solo was perfection. And it was just what my body and spirit needed. It was absolutely surreal, and I have never had a better time in my life than when I was bounding along pretending to be Emelie or Kilian. I ran the path from Aguille du Midi to Mer de Glace which is home to an actual real life glacier (Which is NOT the same thing as an iceberg. Deep down I knew this, but my 18 year long obsession with Titanic kept trying to convince me otherwise).

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After reaching Mer de Glace and exploring the glacier with Mom, I ran from Mer de Glace back down to Chamonix.

At Mer de Glace

At Mer de Glace

The first part of this trail was basically all rock and all downhill. It was the first trail in the forest though, and it was spectacular.

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Eventually, I popped out on a giant rock and into the great wide open. I also happened upon a little bar set out in the middle of BFE with people just drinking, hanging, and cheering on runners/hikers.

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I picked up the double track trail and ran the next 3 miles or so down into Chamonix. My first run in the Alps was all that I wanted it to be — Just an all together glorious, unforgettable, I never wanted to stop run.

Hey down there, Chamonix

Hey down there, Chamonix

J’aime courir a Paris

Paris was the second stop on the Bama Does Europe Tour. Our first full day there was a “rest” day for me, but Mom and I walked a ton that day, including 300 steps up and 300 steps down the basilica in Montmatre and down the Eiffel Tower. The next day we were headed to Chamonix so I got up before sunrise for a run. Apparently, Paris doesn’t wake up before 7am because it felt like I had the city to myself.

Our hotel was about a half mile from the Seine so I headed there and ran along the river. It was amazingly lit all the way until I turned off towards the Louvre. I barely saw a soul for that first mile which, after walking through the hustle and bustle the day before, was beautiful. I ran in front of the Louvre, through the arch, and around the Tuileries and Carousel Gardens because they were still closed from the night before.

The Seine

The Seine

The Louvre at dawn

The Louvre at dawn

At the Louvre

At the Louvre

I then picked up the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, ran past all of the stores, and ran all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. It was just beginning to get light, and the Arc was spectacular. I’m glad I liked the view too because with the light of day, traffic was picking up, and it took me quite a while to make my way around the roundabout.

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

IMG_1280Finally, I made it all the way around and was back on Champs-Elysees. By the time I got back to the Tuileries, they were open. Apparently, this is where people come to run because I saw many others with the same idea as mine. The gardens with their statues and flowers was breathtaking. Plus, the terrain was kind of “trailly”.

Tuileries: Gardens of the Louvre

Tuileries: Gardens of the Louvre

I passed back by the Louvre and ran back along the river. My pace was faster than anticipated so I had a little extra time. I crossed over the river and ran to Notre Dame. Again, I was the only one there which was great as it meant no one was trying to sell me selfie sticks or Eiffel Tower keychains.

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Notre Dame sans Quasimodo

As I ran back to the hotel to get ready for adventures in Chamonix, the sun was rising over the river which perfectly capped off a beautiful run and my own private tour of Paris.

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London Running

“I [ran] by the river”

London was the first stop in the Bama Does Europe Tour. As we walked around the first day through the throngs of people, I thought that running here was going to really suck. As per ush, I was wrong.

The first day I crossed over from our hotel to the South Bank and ran along the River Thames. My first point of interest: MI6 Building. What better motivation than trying to find James Bond or at least a Daniel Craig lookalike? No luck, but it was still a beautiful run down to MI6  as you could see Westminster Abbey, Parliament, and Big Ben along the river.

Daniel Craig, where are you?

Daniel Craig, where are you?

I continued next to the river until I got to Battersea, and then I crossed over the bridge in front of Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull’s old house. I ran along the streets of Chelsea — they did NOT seem used to runners — and made my way through the swanky area of Belgravia. Somehow or another, I found Hyde Park. From there, I saw the London Eye up in the sky and knew that was the way back to the hotel. I ran through Hyde Park and found a “trail”!

London's single track

London’s single track

Hyde Park

Hyde Park

I ran through Hyde Park until finding myself in front of Buckingham Palace, said what up to the Queen, looked for Harry the hottest Ginger ever, and made my way through the Royal Horseguards, past Big Ben (which is probably my favorite sight in London), and finished in front of the London Eye. 14 gorgeous miles.

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Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

The next day I took Milner’s and Wade’s advice and just went straight for Hyde Park. It was fun people watching, and there were a ton of other runners out. I ended up following another “trail” until I was in front of Royal Albert Hall and next to what John Lennon thought was a psychedelic rocket. I turned around and ran back towards the ever-watching Eye. 6.5 sweet ass miles.

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Haven’t mastered the art of the selfie without looking like the hag from Snow White

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We left for Paris early on Tuesday morning so in solidarity with my Tuesday morning interval peeps back in Nashville, I did intervals on the treadmill before we left.

To sum it up: London was beautiful, I liked it much better than I expected, and I had a blast exploring it by foot!

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