Honeymoon Recap – Ireland Part 2

Day two of our Ireland adventure kicked off with a 6 a.m. walk to the train station to catch our tour group to the west coast of Ireland. Thanks to our cartoonish style tourist map, the station was on the other side of the river from where we were looking, so we nearly missed it and had to make a mad dash down the platform to catch our train!

It might have been a tough start, but it was all awesome after that.


Our first stop was Bunratty Castle in Limerick. It was beautiful and kept historically accurate by the owners. It had Irish elk horns everywhere, which Ian really liked. We also learned about the spiral staircase design common in many castles. They are used so those coming up couldn’t swing swords and those coming down could easily use them with their right hands.



In the main hall, we were told to grab a seat while our guide talked about the history of the castle. A little while later, I learned I was accidentally sitting against a fertility statue which we were told makes you instantly ten times more fertile. I might have instantly jumped away, haha. Here’s hoping it waits until we’re ready for kids!



After exploring the castle on our own, we walked around the Folk Park surrounding the castle and made quick stops in the Tea Room and Mac’s Pub before getting back on our bus.


We stopped for lunch on the way to the Cliffs of Moher and then got some good pictures by the Harbor. Soon we were at the Cliffs. They are one amazing sight! It was my second time there and it was just as breathtaking as my first trip. We trekked around the cliffs for awhile in some of the strongest winds I have ever walked through! It felt like we were going to get knocked over a few times.





After the Cliffs it was back on the bus where we grabbed a few more pictures by the Atlantic Ocean on our way to Galway. We were pretty tired and hungry when we arrived in Galway so we ended up eating at the first fast food pizza place that we saw before walking around Galway Square. We also walked down to the Spanish Arch and the Bay before heading to catch our train back to Dublin.


I highly recommend a visit here if you are traveling to Ireland. We had such a good time and the natural beauty was staggering!


Honeymoon Recap – Ireland Part 1

We started off our honeymoon in Ireland. In this post I’ll talk about our first and third days, which we spent in Dublin. Part two, coming next week, will highlight our day trip to Ireland’s west coast.

Ian likes to say I vacation hard and notes that he often needs a week to recover from my vacations. He’s probably right, but I can’t help it. When I get to new cities I love playing tourist and want to see anything and everything that I can cram in. I’m also a big fan of walking everywhere we go, so you can really get to know a city. After averaging seven to 10 miles a day though for the first few days I gave in and discovered the wonders of public transportation when we got to Rome. More on that later though.

After a few hour delay in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, we were on our way to Dublin. This threw off my day one itinerary as we got in too late for the historic walking tour I had planned on attending, but we were able to fit that in on day three. We knew we had to power through the day, but ended up succumbing to the jet lag and napped for a bit before getting started. The first day after flying across the Atlantic is always brutal, even if you do sleep on the plane!

We stayed at the Fleet Street Hotel right in the heart of Dublin’s Temple Bar district. It wasn’t the nicest hotel, but the price was right for the location. Even booking one of the biggest rooms, we had just enough room in there for a double and a twin bed (either that or 3 twins were the only choices here) and not much walking space! It was clean and close to everything though, so I would recommend it to anyone wanting to stay right in the thick of it on a budget. Bars are open late and all around the hotel and neighboring streets, so not a great place for a family trip.


The hotel advertises it’s affiliation with Sullivan’s Irish Pub, which is partially true as it is directly underneath the hotel on the backside. The front entrance shares an entryway with TGI Friday’s though, which left us chuckling. We did not fit in a stop there!

We quickly found our way right into an Irish Pub called O’Connells for beers and lunch. With our energy restored, we set off on foot for the Old Jameson Distillery.  We managed to avoid the rain during our lunch break and enjoyed pretty decent weather throughout our time in Ireland – especially for this time of year. It was mostly sunny and hovered around the mid 50s, although when the winds picked up it felt a lot cooler at points.

I read this sign wrong at first and was a little disappointed!

I read this sign wrong at first and was a little disappointed!

While we waited for our tour to start, I learned how much I like Jameson in hot chocolate and that Jameson and Ginger tastes great – how have I never drank that?! The tour walked us through the history of Jameson and the process to make it. We were also given a heads up that we should jump at the chance to volunteer if asked and that certainly paid off.


Ian and I both got picked for the taste testing after the tour. We started with Jameson, followed by Johnny Walker Black and Jack Daniels. After giving the correct answer that of course the Jameson tasted best, we were awarded with official whiskey taste tester certificates!


We then proceeded to close down the Jameson bar with more rounds of Jameson and Ginger until realizing we were the only ones left in the place and they were picking up around us!

On our hike back to the hotel we stopped at another pub (really, they are EVERYWHERE!) called Thomas Read for drinks.

Before calling it a night we had dinner and drinks at a pub near the hotel. The menus are pretty similar from bar to bar so if you enjoy pub food and a few pints you really can’t go wrong!

Day three of our trip was another day of exploring Dublin. We finally got to take that historical walking tour of Dublin, which started at Trinity College just around the block from our hotel. We also saw other points of interest including the Dublin Castle and learned a lot about Irish history. Our tour guide was entertaining and full of interesting stories.


He showed us to an expensive restaurant called The Bank after our tour was over. We didn’t end up going in, but it sounded very cool and we’ll have to check it out if we ever make it back. It was an old bank that was converted into a restaurant but the interior was never really changed. He told us the bathrooms were in the vaults, calling them the safest bathrooms in Ireland!


Exhausted and hungry after a two-hour walking tour turned into three, we stopped for lunch at the Vat House pub. More good pub food and more beers/ciders. I generally ordered a Bullmer’s Irish Cider while Ian’s most frequent drink of choice was Smithwicks. He also enjoyed the Guinness Dublin Porter.

From there we set off on another hike to find the Guinness Factory. I may have led us a bit astray and taken the long way, but we managed to find the entrance before it was too late. This was my second time doing the tour, but they’ve made a bunch of updates since my trip five years ago so there were plenty of new things to see. In addition to the history and the how it’s made, one of my favorite parts of the tour were the advertisements over the years. You could view both print and TV ads dating back to the 20s. I couldn’t help but laugh at the early ones touting the positive effects of Guinness on your health!


After the tour we each enjoyed a Guinness at the circular bar atop the building. The windows are all glass giving you an unparalleled panoramic view of Dublin. It was a bit crowded up there so we didn’t stay too long but we did enjoy taking in the views and sipping on Guinness.



Later that night we headed down the street from our hotel to Oliver St. John Gogarty’s Pub for an Irish Music pub crawl. Our tour group never showed, but we enjoyed some beers and Irish music on our own anyways. We hit up the Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Temple Bar for a late dinner. The food was just OK, and the service was really slow. I’d recommended sticking to pub food while there.

Dublin was a loud, fun city filled with pubs that keep the beers flowing. We had a great time there!

Heart & Sole Is Back

Despite my best efforts and my last few promises of being back, the summer just got too busy and keeping up with the blog started to feel like a chore. Since I do this blog for fun, I knew that meant it was a time to take a break for awhile.

Running took a backseat to a lot of travel plans and a busy work schedule, so I never ended up registering for a fall half marathon. I did get to do a handful of shorter races though, and while not my speediest by any means, they reminded me why I love this sport so much and have me chomping at the bit to get back into serious training.

The last few months have been an amazing ride and some of the best times of my life so far. The highlight of the summer was my brother’s wedding. Him and his wife got married in Ithaca, New York and the wedding weekend was an absolute blast! The rehearsal dinner was at a restaurant called the Carriage House that served one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The wedding and reception were held in Six Mile Creek Winery. They had a pig roast, great music and fun games – even giant Jenga! It was awesome. Also, Adrienne – my new sister – looked absolutely beautiful.

View More: http://aliciaraft.pass.us/lerrowedding

Ian and I traveled for two more weddings for some good friends over the next few weeks. The first was a blast with the beautiful Cazenovia Lake as a backdrop followed by another great time in Minneapolis at a wedding that featured an after-party on a boat with a mac and cheese bar and soft pretzels…be still my beating my heart. (Those may just be two of my favorite things!)

Oh while all this was going on, we were planning our own wedding and amazing honeymoon adventure. On October 18, I got to marry the love of my life! The day was everything I hoped it would be and more. I’ll share recaps on the wedding in posts to come so I don’t turn this one into a novel. Spoiler Alert: Otto the Orange crashed my Syracuse-themed reception! (If you’re not from the ‘Cuse that might not make much sense now, but more details and pictures to come soon.)


We started planning our honeymoon more than a year in advance. We saved up money and vacation days all year for it and it was worth every sacrifice. We were also fortunate enough to have a lot of friends and family gift us amazing experiences along the trip through our honeymoon registry.

We started the trip in Dublin then made our way to Rome before setting sail on a Mediterranean cruise that would take us from Italy to France and Spain. It was the trip of a lifetime and the most surreal experience. I had so much fun! I’ll have more detailed recaps coming soon for this too, but here are some of the highlights of our two-week adventure if you prefer the Cliff’s notes version:

• Became certified whiskey taste testers at the Jameson Distillery

• Closed down a bar in Ireland

• Battled the wind to see the Cliffs of Moher

• Climbed to the top of St. Peter’s Dome at the Vatican

• Saw the Sistine Chapel and the Colosseum

• Snapped pics of us holding up and pushing over the leaning tower of Pisa


• Took selfies in front of the statue of David in Florence

• Walked the beachfront in Nice

• Won money at the Casino Royale in Monte Carlo

• Saw Napoleon’s birthplace in Corsica

• Drank wine on our private balcony as we watched the sunset over the Blood Islands

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• Spent an entire day at sea

• Toured a castle in Palma de Mallorca

• Walked in a bull fighting ring in Valencia before boating in Europe’s largest underground navigable river at the Caves of St. Joseph

• Let the waves of the Mediterranean wash over our feet in Barcelona

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And now it’s back to reality with the best memories and a chance to make many more over the coming years!

Workout of the Week

Last week I wrapped up week 2 of my half marathon training program. I’m putting it in the books as another successful week and am really starting to feel like my fitness is coming back.



I got in a little more than 40 miles, although technically my long run didn’t happen until this week, I’m still going to count it for the last one! It was supposed to happen on Sunday, but my bachlorette party was also over the weekend and well, let’s just say I didn’t really feel up to running long on Sunday!


My runs this week took me through D.C. in the early morning, along some running trails I haven’t hit up in awhile and by the waterfront in Hoboken featuring stunning views of the NYC Skyline, so needless to say there was a bit of competition for my favorite workout this week.


Hands down it was my lone speed workout of the week, which took place after work on Wednesday. I made an unfortunate decision to sleep in that morning instead of going to the track. I set up a workout of 400 yard repeats with 400 yard recovery jogs in my Garmin and watched anxiously as I waited for the clock to hit five and saw the skies turning increasingly gray!

It was just sprinkling when I set out for the trail though that leads from the office to my apartment. After roughly a mile warm-up I started my repeats. As I progressed though, so did the rain until it was monsooning and I was getting pelted with rain. It might be the hardest rain I’ve ever run through. My clothes were drenched and my shoes were sloshing with water.

For some reason though I could not stop smiling. Everyone else on the trail was so friendly and seemed to be having the same experience as me – well except for the bikers, they seemed pretty grumpy. There were high fives, laughs and smiles exchanged and jokes yelled out about what a beautiful day it was to run as I passed others along the trail. It was a blast.

I questioned my sanity a bit more when I finished my repeats and got ready to do the roughly 2 mile cool down that would take me the rest of the way home – ALL UPHILL. Fortunately the rain had let up by then and I was able to stop by the Iwo Jima water fountain for a quick sip before the last push.

When I do the speed workouts on a trail on my Garmin, I don’t see the split times as I go along. Instead, I listen for my watch to signal the start and end of each repeat and don’t get to see how long each took me until I finish. I was really pumped with my times and very glad I didn’t resort to a treadmill because I would not have pushed that hard. I was mostly consistent with just a few slow ones in there, but given the rain and the not completely flat terrain I wasn’t worried about them. It was one heck of a workout!

Do you like running in the rain? What was your favorite workout last week?

NYC Marathon Fun – Volunteering at Mile 22

I headed up to NYC this past weekend to give a little back to the sport that gives me so much. I signed up to volunteer at the 22 mile water stop for the NYC Marathon with a bunch of my Oiselle teammates. After a fun Saturday in Hoboken visiting my brother and his fiancée, I was up bright and early Sunday morning to make my way into the city.


As usual, I had a bit of trouble figuring out the Subway system, but was able to take a fairly quick cab ride to my volunteer spot. I checked in, got a poncho and plastic gloves and met up with the other Oiselle ladies volunteering there. Most of them I only knew through twitter, so it was very fun to meet them in person, and not surprisingly they were all awesome.

We got a quick orientation from the volunteer leader. It’s amazing the things you don’t realize that go into race day. He went over set up and what to expect once things got rolling. Safety was the emphasis. He pointed out the closest medical tent, then talked about how to form a safety circle around a runner if someone were to drop, and asked anyone who was CPR certified to raise their hands. After thanking us all, we were off to work.


I helped fill up water cups and stack them three rows high across the table to get ready for the onslaught of runners. After that, I enjoyed my front row seat to one incredibly cool marathon experience. The Marine Corps Marathon, which boasts finishers in the low 20,000s each year has always seemed HUGE to me. On Sunday, more than 50,000 runners set out to take on the five boroughs of NYC. Wow.


The wheelchair and handcycle divisions came through first. I don’t usually see most of these racers after they take off, but wow they are impressive. Soon the elite women were making their way through mile 22. It was so cool to see the pace trucks coming and know the first runners were right behind them.



These women were amazingly fierce and fast. It was so cool to see. I still can’t believe Priscah Jeptoo came away with the win – what a finish!



Also, I want her abs!


Not long after, another pace truck was coming through and we saw the elite men. Getting to see Geoffrey Mutai fly by up close on his way to his second straight NYCM victory was awesome. I couldn’t wait to see Meb come by, but of course had just put my camera away when he did, so I don’t have a shot of him. I know he didn’t have the race he wanted, but it was still so cool to see him and he is such an inspiration!



Soon the everyday runners started pouring through and just kept coming and coming. There were so many volunteers and I was near the back, so I didn’t actually hand out that many cups of water.


Still getting to cheer these runners on and see the determination and pain in their faces (or limps) as they passed us with four miles to go made for a great day. I yelled out for the runners who had names written on their shirts, cheered like crazy for random strangers and tried to pick people I knew running out of the crowd. So. Much. Fun. 

Congrats to everyone who raced NYCM Sunday! You are all amazing!

Footprints: Monday Recap

Last week was unfortunately not a great week of training. With travel, unexpected extra work at the office and the snooze button defeating me a couple mornings, I didn’t get as much in as I wanted. My long run is on tap for tomorrow though, so I’m not completely giving up on it!

Here’s the day by day breakdown of my less than stellar week:

Monday: 3 miles easy in the AM followed by a great track workout. I ran 6X800s with a 3-minute jog recovery in between each repeat. My splits came in at 3:24, 3:19, 3:21, 3:19, 3:19, 3:18. Thanks to the Labor Day holiday I also got a mid-morning Body Ride in at Revolve.

Tuesday: Rest Day

Wednesday: 5.3 mile progressively faster, hilly run.

Thursday: Rest Day

I've been wearing my new Oiselle Flyte tank for way too many of my workouts! Thank goodness for in-unit laundry finally!

I’ve been wearing my new Oiselle Flyte tank for way too many of my workouts! Thank goodness for in-unit laundry finally!

Friday: Rest/Travel Day

Saturday: 6.6 mile slow, sluggish run in the heat and humidity in Minnesota. Of course the weekend it finally cools down in D.C., it’s hot and humid in the midwest.

Sunday: 4 miles hard and fast around a lake in Minnesota with 4 striders at the end.

Finally…A FitBloggin’13 Recap Part 3: Touristy Stuff

My first two FitBloggin recaps were all about the event, so my last recap is more about the fun, touristy stuff Ian and I did while in Portland. Neither of us had ever been so we were looking forward to the trip. I really enjoyed the city although we unfortunately brought the D.C. heat and humidity with us as the temps never dropped below 95 while we were there, so that made walking around the city a bit uncomfortable. My runs around the city as I mentioned were all beautiful – the numerous bridges were very cool.


The only thing that surprised me negatively about the city was the sheer amount of panhandlers and how young so many of them looked. Ian took a short, 8-block walk while I was at a session and was asked for a dollar by 25 people. It felt worse than walking around New York City even in the touristy sections. It really caught me off guard.

Back to the positives… I loved the restaurants. One of my favorites was a haunted pizza place we went to twice called Old Town Pizzeria and Brewery. We enjoyed some great pizza and beers. Check out the full recap over on Ian’s blog.OldTownPizza_Portland


We also hit up a semi-permanent food truck village where I enjoyed a pretty amazing grilled cheese sandwich and a coke! There was so much variety though, you could choose any kind of food you wanted.


Yet another great spot we went to was a bit more upscale – an Italian restaurant called Mama Mia. I ordered gnocci and left there so full I could barely walk home. It was that kind of food that’s so delicious you just can’t stop eating even though your stomach is ready to burst.




I also loved Brunch Box – another spot we hit up twice – yea we ate a lot! It was a relatively new restaurant that got its start as a food truck. One of the dishes they’re quickly becoming famous for is a burger with two grilled cheese sandwiches as the bun. With all the other food I’d eaten that weekend I couldn’t quite bring myself to try that, but I had a great bagel sandwich for breakfast on our first trip and an amazing buffalo chicken sandwich the next day for lunch!




As I keep writing this I’m starting to realize just how much I ate while I was there!! Good thing I was doing three workouts a day! To keep the food theme rolling, everyone said we had to stop at VooDoo Doughnuts while we were there. Apparently everyone else heard the same thing as we trekked over there four times before finally catching it with a short enough line to be worth waiting in the close to 100-degree heat for. They have some awesome doughnuts to choose from and I went with the “Old Dirty Bastard” – yeast doughnut, chocolate frosting, Oreos and peanut butter…so worth all the effort!




Just in case you’re wondering we did a few other things than just eat while we were there! We tried to go to the Oregon History Museum, but it was a bit pricey and only open for another 45 minutes, so we sat in the lobby for a bit pretending to decide whether or not to buy a ticket while we soaked in the AC before venturing back into the heat wave. We also wandered around the Nike store next door to our hotel and took advantage of Portland’s lack of sales tax! We walked around the famous Powell’s bookstore – the largest used and new bookstore in the world. It was a nice bookstore, but again we were really just more thankful for some AC and a break from the heat.

It was a great few days and I’d be happy to visit Portland again some day!