Bon Iver...


Happy Tuesday everyone!!! After a great night run with my Run Dem Crew people, I am feeling pretty satisfied with life all around... time to sit and enjoy some pie (if you follow me on twitter, yep second night in a row!) and some wine, complemented by some tunes to set the relaxed mood I'm feeling... the calm after the run if you will. Then the genius that I am thought, hey it's Tuesday!!! Let me share my musical selection with my blog follower friends... I know, I know, I'm just that good hu?

So to add to my ever growing collection of indie-folk loves (seriously I think I may be a tad obsessed!), I give you Bon Iver. These guys just casually swooped into my life via my ears and into my heart... especially with my all time favorite of theirs, Skinny Love... swoon!!! The combination of poetry like lyrics accompanied by such heart felt vocals are reason enough to fall... and fall hard! After hearing them for the first time, I just couldn't get enough!!! Downloading their album, I listened to each song and devoured every word (did I mention I'm a poetry junkie?)... I was mesmerized by one song after another. I never expect to like every song in an album let alone LOVE each and every one... but well done guys, you have my heart.

my fave 10...
7. Team
10. Skinny Love Cover- by Birdy

*Sorry guys, the website I make my playlists on is down but I will have it up and running as soon as I can... enjoy the songs via youtube in the mean time =)

***Today I am thankful for the amazing views I have to the pleasure of seeing on my runs... I mean who else can say they have the Gherkin, the Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral, and some pretty amazing bridges on their route... I am really lucky and spoiled!!!


The New Newlyweds...


It was a night to remember... and remember it I did! Though more so through the piecing together of pictures and the other girl's stories than my own memories. I woke up with a dead cell phone battery, hair in a tangled, teased, and hair sprayed mess, last night's makeup still on my face, and a sore knee/ ankle (from all the insane dancing we did!) so already I knew it had been a good night!!! What am I talking about??? Well remember a couple of weeks ago I had my friend's bachelorette (hen) night and promised you lovelies a post about it... well here it is! As a way of celebrating Shelby's wedding (she got married yesterday in the states!!!) I am sharing our part in celebrating her pre-nuptials here in London.

The night started with a good old fashioned get together at a friend's house to play games (pin the cell phone on Zack and game show trivia), eat, drink, and get ready together. The spread consisted of various types of cheeses (Shelb's weakness), hot wings, pickles, and a seven layer dip complemented with cosmos!!! We belted out some good old tunes circa the 90's era and stuffed our faces. Then the fun began with all kinds of makeup, teasing, crimping, and hair spraying... did I mention the theme was Saved by the Bell... fashion inspired by the one and only, Kelly Kapowski in the highschool years?!?!

After slap bracelets were slapped on (yep we found some!), it was off to the club for a full night of dancing, twirling, and some more singing along. It almost seemed too perfect when the night consisted mainly of 80's and 90's music... I mean what more can a couple of girls celebrating ask for when they just want to have fun??? We got a lot of compliments on our style that night, and we weren't the only one's in fancy dress that either so we fit right in! Some of the night's highlights included an air guitar solo from the bride to be, some very dramatic hand gestures, and of course, some classic fist pumping

As you can see by the pictures, we took our roles that night very seriously... right down to the caffeine pills! We had such a fun girl's night and were really happy to get to share in Shelby's special day here since none of us (although all American) could afford to attend the actual wedding =( For some more pictures of the night as it went on via my iphone, check out this post.

Congratulations to the newly Shelby and Martin Brownridge. Although I was very sad to not be able to attend the ceremony yesterday, I am extremely happy to be a part of your new lives together in London when you guys get back. Thanks to facebook and some of your family/friends, a few pictures have already hit the web and you both looked beautiful!!! I now pass on the title of newlyweds to you two as hubs and I near a year of being married. I asked hubs what you call a couple after they are no longer newlyweds but haven't been married that long either and he replied "suckers". Ahhh the things you have in store for you Shelby and Martin... I wouldn't change it for anything.

***Today I am thankful for another American/British couple making it to the alter... we are a growing population... let's make t-shirts!!!***




Here are some very interesting (to hubs & my parents at least) facts that make me, well little old me!!! Hope you have as much fun reading them as I did writing them out...

01. My favorite ice cream for as long as I can remember has always been mint chocolate chip... I was never a vanilla or chocolate girl and I'm not sure what possessed a two year old me to want to try the green ice cream... that was an early sign, I would be different ;)

02. I am an avid list maker... before I can get anything done, I like to compile in neat little list in bullet format of all the tasks ahead... my favorite part of course, is crossing things off... and I have been known to add things Ive already done to a list, just to be able to cross them off...

03. My dancing career started when I was so inspired at my cousin's ballet recital that I knew I just had to join in right then and there... and so I did... I ran on stage during her performance and started doing my own dance... I was three!!!

04. I am not so secretly obsessed with FRIENDS... I own the complete series box set... can recite just about all the lines... use the show like a kid uses their security blanket... and have often related any and all of my life's scenarios to an episode... I'm also a Monica...

05. People think I am everything but Hispanic... I am 50% Cuban, 50% Peruvian, and was born in Miami... Spanish was my first official language... and Ive been mistaken for Indian, French, Arabic, Italian... and just about anything else that has dark hair, brown eyes, and olive skin...

06. I am always hungry it seems... no matter what time of the day it is, I'm usually munching on something... and I can get very cranky if I don't get food fast enough sometimes... so I tend to carry snacks around in my purse... sometimes healthy, sometimes not so healthy...

07. I met hubs as a camp counselor one summer in the states... he is British and so we started dating long distance... for five years... then he proposed in a tree and carved our names into it... we now live on the other side of the pond and have been married for almost a year... he is my lobster!!!

08. Running has never been my thing... actually I have always hated it... which is why it shocked the hell out of all of my friends and family when I announced I was running a half marathon two years ago... I have now ran three... and I now consider myself a runner...

09. I can touch the tip of my tongue to my nose and have broken my arms three times... not in any way related but equally as weird...

10. Cleaning and organizing are my thing... I do it when I'm bored... when I'm stressed... when I'm sad... and especially so when I'm procrastinating, which almost always... there's just something about doing mindless tasks that work like therapy for me... I told you I am a Monica!!!

Check out these two lovely lady bloggers, The Flower ChildDwelling and Srslyliz for some more fun 10 lists and feel free to make one yourself! Leave a link to your post in the comments so others and myself can snoop...

***Today I am thankful all the little, quirky, and weird things that have shaped me into the person I am today!!!***


Florence + The Machine


So it's Wednesday and not really Tuesday anymore... but for the sake of music, I decided to post Tuesday Tunes anyways... especially since I had already decided on showcasing Florence + the Machine... my obsession as of lately! Listening to her strong vocals combined with the upbeat roar of the many accompanying instruments used throughout her songs really puts me in the best of moods!!! Her sound is a unique blend of rock, indie, and soul done like non other. And then there is the other odd combination of her blazing red-orange curls and goth/retro fashion sense that has made her a leading fashion icon. My favorite song of hers that has been on non stop repeat (poor hubs!) for the past couple of days is The Dog Days Are Over... such an uplifting and snap your fingers while you stomp your feet kind of tune!!! Makes me want to choreograph a contemporary dance to go with it... maybe Ive already started... while I was cleaning the day away... guess you'll never know ;)

In other news, one of my very bestest friends is visiting starting tomorrow... all the way from the other side (my side) of the pond!!! Needless to say, I apologize in advance if I disappear... we might be far too busy catching up, eating sushi, and drinking wine... just so you know!

my fave 10...

*Click through to the blog to view actual music player...

***Today I am thankful for a day off... florence + the machines and dancing around make cleaning the flat just that much more fun!!!***


Thank You Steve Jobs...


***Today I am thankful I found and fell in love with all things apple... from my very first i pod nano in college, to having the pleasure of working on a 27" i mac at work, getting Betty, my macbook pro laptop for christmas, and finally my new i phone 3 which I adore... thank you Steve Jobs for helping me embrace technology and my inner geek.***


Race Report: Run To The Beat...


Yes it's taken me over week to post about my Run To The Beat Half Marathon experience because yes, that's how long it's taken for me to recover from it... no, not really but I like being all dramatic sometimes! So now without any more delays... the half marathon breakdown through my thoughts, experiences, and of course pictures.
Words can't even capture how much excitement and nervousness there was in the air!!! It still amazes me that how no matter how big or small the race is, no matter if Ive ran that distance before, no matter if Ive trained really hard or done just barely enough... I still feel the same crazy energy fluttering around in me on race day... and you know what? It's kind of addictive!

I kissed hubs goodbye and left extra early just in case (and because I'm always late to most things). The train ride over was filled with runners from all over, heading in the same direction as me, with the same purpose as me... to finish the race!!! There's an unsaid bond that runners have amongst each other... it's in the slight nod as you run past... it's in those matching nervous glances... it's in the secret smiles you give one another.... and those are the things that carry me through my runs. Most of the time we are complete strangers, but when you are geared up, running, or heading towards a race, we become kindred spirits. At that moment, they are the only ones that can relate to all the hard work, pain, sweat, and even tears that you have put into your training... no one else could ever really understand...

I was lucky enough to run into Charlie and some other Run Dem Crew members before the race and that also helped calm my nerves. We had come this far and there was no turning back now. The day was unusually hot for London and while normally I would have welcomed it, all I wanted for today was cool and overcast... like it had been every other day. But like in life, sometimes you just have to work with what you are given and make the most of it.

Mile 1-3: After nearly 15 minutes of being herded like cattle, I finally reached the start line and I was off!!! I felt great, my playlist was set to my most upbeat and favorite songs first, my new shoes felt amazing, and I had my Lucazade Sport to keep hydrated. I ran at my newly acquired pace of just under ten minutes and hoped I could keep it up through out most of the race (maybe even all of it?) In all of my training I have learned that although these first couple of miles are usually my fastest, they are mentally my hardest and it takes me awhile to find my rhythm. Twenty or so minutes into the race, I realized it had been awhile since my Nike+ had mentioned my mile and pace... I looked over at my arm band only to find that I had accidentally paused my workout even though my music had still been playing... grrr! My own time was now off and a mile behind but what can you do? I just hit resume workout and carried on. As much as I had hoped for the better, the heat was much more intense than I had expected and I quickly felt dehydrated. I was glad I was carrying my own bottle since the first water station didn't show up till around mile three! So far the race was lacking in any kind of shade and the sun was having no mercy on us... how I wished I had brought a hat...

Miles 4-6: Unexpected hills on this course, what??? And yes for all three miles!!! Again something I was not prepared for. It seemed every time I turned a corner, I looked up to see the road going uphill again. By now I was starting to feel the consequences of having worked the day before (standing for eight hours) and every step felt like I was running on needles. I kept running, though at times going uphill actually felt like maybe I was going backwards??? Surely someone less fatigued could walk uphill faster than I was running by this point. I knew this was majorly affecting my time but between the pain, the heat, and the hills, I just had enough energy to keep running... and so I trekked on... I made sure to listen to my body and slow down as it asked for. I decided I didn't care about my time anymore after seeing so many runners had passed out for pushing themselves too hard in this heat. If I could just finish the race in one piece, then I would be happy. And so I ran... silently cursing the people who had chosen this route...

Miles 7-9: I was wiped out!!! I started to think thoughts like "oh my sweet Jesus I'm only half way through, how am I ever going to finish" and "God can you please through some clouds and a gust of wind our way???" By now I had almost finished all of my own drink and had begun to grab water cups at the stations with the sole purpose of pouring it over my head for a quick cool down. I mentally started going over all of my errors up to that point far like getting carried away and running too fast at the beginning, working the day before, not checking the weather and realizing  would need a hat... and the list went on and on. All things I will make sure to correct next time... if I finished this time... why couldn't I find my rhythm??? And where were all the supporters to cheer me on when I needed it the most??? I saw some fellow RDM members run past me that I had left behind in my dust at the beginning of the race... slow and steady wins the race Jackie, next time I will be slow and steady. I was fading and fast...

Miles 10-13.1: Don't ask me why it had taken me this long to find my groove, but at last I had found it and was ready to finish this race! I was feeling invincible as I approached mile ten and knew I could easily push the last three miles out of me. I was singing along at some points (I tend to do that) with sheer happiness to almost be done, high fiving little kids standing along the course line... when the unthinkable happened... mile 11 and my I phone died... hence no more music. I feel I must point out that for a music based race, their was a serious lack of it. I hadn't really minded since I was using my own anyways, but it would have been nice to have theirs as a backup now that I was music-less. Another lesson learned, next time don't get so excited with new phone that I use up battery uploading to facebook and twitter... womp, womp. Those last couple of miles I did my best to run, but like Ive said, I can't without music... and so I power walked/ran/power walked/ran until mile 12 where the cheers to other RDM members gave me a new boost. Passing mile 13, onlookers kept cheering "Keep going, the finish line is just around the bend!" and I kept running around bends thinking where is it??? I think I actually got tears in my eyes (amazing considering how dehydrated I was) when I finally saw the finish line... and gave it all had to cross.

Final outcome: 2:23:54 time, 10"59' pace, and 8,583 place. This was three minutes slower than I had wanted, I walked some when I was really trying to run the whole thing, but you know what? I couldn't be prouder!!!

Some serious stretching followed by some serious eating was very needed indeed! Hubs and I went to The Diner to celebrate where I ate what all half marathon champions should eat... a pancake stack sprinkled with powdered sugar, home fries, scrambled eggs, bacon, and washed it all down with spicy bloody mary. Yay me! After that, pretty much crashed for the rest of the day... and then some!

***Today I am thankful for the chance to have participated in the London Half Marathon... it may not have been the time I was aiming for, but I am glad I finished and with no injuries too***


Tools Of The Runner...


Here are four of the major running tools that I got just before the Run To The Beat Half Marathon... Aside from a new pair of running shoes, these are the first tools that I have ever bought that are solely geared towards runners. Yes I have been running for about three years now, and yes I have done a number of small races plus two half marathons... but it's only been recently that I have finally felt like a true runner, joined a running club (Run Dem Crew), and felt the urge to go out and buy some gear (yep even the dreaded fanny pack!

*The Shoes: Crucial for running and my poor one's were long over due for retirement! I headed to the Nike Town for some help, admitted that I was a runner, and saw what my options were. I found these bad boys- The Nike LunarGlide+ 3 for maximum stability, perfect for long runs. I have to admit that they are brighter than I had wanted... but all the others either had no pink in them or were kind of boring... so I went bold and bright!!! Switching into these before the race made me nervous as I had to brake them in in less than a week... but luckily I had no problems or blisters for that matter and it felt like I was running on clouds... new running shoes for race day: check!

*I Pod Arm Band: If you know me, then you know I can not run without music!!! I don't know what it is but my legs just stop running and my brain and will power give up... so maybe I'm not as true of a runner as I thought but hey I'm working on it. I was so excited to be getting my I phone just in time for the big day and decided to do a test run with my new gear... so glad I did! Ran into a couple of minor problems... I didn't realize how sensitive the touch screen is and accidentally ended a race early... Couldn't really see my I phone screen so changing tracks became really difficult... And getting to the side of the phone to lower or raise the volume was kind of impossible. On the bright side, I did like how comfortable the band fit around even my skinny biceps and that it eased the ache in my right shoulder that I usually get from holding my Ipod... The sound quality was way better... And with the nike+ app I get someone telling me my pace for each mile... In the end I plan on making a really good playlist so I won't have to be messing with it at all once I start the race... new music provider and carrier: check!

*Fanny Pack: I have to stress that under all other circumstances, I hate these things!!! But I hate having to run with my keys in my hand even more and hubs always saying I should have my I.D./money on me when I'm out running just in case of emergencies... so I decided to why not? I found this really small and streamlined one, The Ultimate Performance Wooky, that has just enough room for the essentials- keys, chap stick, and plastic. My first couple of runs with it were tricky... I didn't know how high or low or tight to strap it on and it ended up riding up after a couple of minutes. By the last run before the race, I figured out that if I wore it really low on hips and pulled it as tight as I could, it stayed in place for all of my run. Since hubs was coming out to support on the day of the race, I didn't really need this one and decided not to wear it. It is a good tool for training runs though and would recommend it... fanny pack for training runs: check!

Keeping Hydrated: This is another area that should always be taken very seriously. Ive been carrying with me a plastic water bottle on my longer runs, but the way you have to grip it leave my hands and fingers feeling cramped. So I switched over to the Ultimate Performance Runners Bottle which is designed with a hole in the middle so you can just slide your hand in to carry. I noticed that my hand is now in a very relaxed position and the pull cap makes it easier  to drink without getting stuff all over my face. Another new trick I just started using is Lucazade Sport. Now I normally don't like drinking sports drinks and much prefer water, but hubs kept insisting that with the long runs I was doing, my body needed to rehydrate quicker and also replace the high amount of carbohydrates that I was loosing. I started with the cherry flavor and honestly I don't like it... reminds me of cough syrup... but I did notice that I had more energy throughout my run and was able to maintain my original pace for longer so I'll stick with it... and maybe try another flavor... keeping hydrated and carb. loaded during the race: check!

So there you have it guys... a few simple tools that I have incorporated into my running (a week before the half) that I feel have really improved my runs. I'm no expert and with all things fitness, what works varies from person to person. This is what I have found to work best for me and when I was doing my own research, I found it hard to find some good reviews so I thought I'd share my own experiences. Let me know your thoughts on these products if you've used any of them or if you recommended any others... I'm really up for trying new things now that I'm a real runner ;)

***Today  am thankful for running... I never ever thought I would be thanking running***


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