Chicago Marathon 2018

Here we are again, another marathon. It was an especially important one as it was the first one that my whole family traveled to watch.  I also atrained really hard, hoping fora personal best. And it turns off that despite my lack of confidence and the bad weather going in to the race, I ended up with my fastest time ever, 3:19:47. I am still on cloud 9 (and also very sore) and just so happy and proud. Take a look at all the pictures from the whirlwind 34 hours in Chicago!

 

We left NYC on a 9 o’clock flight Saturday morning. I was so happy to have the whole family together as I tend to be a basket case before a marathon. Traveling alone with just my thoughts is never a good idea…..

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Oregon Coast 2018

Oregon has everything:  mountains, rivers, ocean, hills, valleys, lakes, etc. One minute you can be in the Willamette Valley, and the next, in the Cascade Mountains or on the Pacific Ocean. The kids and I just had an amazing weekend at our friends’ (Sara and Colin) family’s retro cabin on the Oregon Coast. Located 60 miles from Eugene, it was the perfect getaway full of outdoor adventure, fresh air, beautiful scenery, and good old fashion fun. Thank you so much, Sara!!!! Truly the best.

 

Oregon Coast is unlike any where else. It has dunes, sand, shrubs, rivers, lakes, etc…One of a kind.

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Overnight Train

When we were mapping out our summer travels, I knew that at one point, I wanted to take the kids on an overnight sleeper train adventure. Luckily, we had planned to go on our annual trip to Sonoma, so I knew that the magical train dream would be able to happen. It was perfect timing as my best friend from college, Bridget, had been visiting us in Eugene, and we were both aiming to get to California at the same time. So the five of us — me, Bridget, my two kids and her daughter — all went on the adventure together. And it was exactly that: an adventure. Not a mode of transportation to get us from Point A to Point B, or a luxurious beautiful hotel, but a memorable and fun experience. It was so much fun that I hope to make it an annual tradition — there was something about it that was nostalgic, peaceful, romantic, and comforting.

 

The five of us. And yes, Bridget and I are wearing matching outfits. Why would we NOT wear matching outfits?

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Marathon Training

I am currently in the process of training for two fall marathons (Chicago Marathon in October, and NY Marathon in November where I will be running as a guide for a disabled runner). Although the training is tiring, long, and challenging, it is also my favorite part of the whole marathon. In all of my previous marathons (10 overall), I have had different techniques / training / ideologies and approaches. Here is what I am doing THIS time around.

 

Mid long run stretch. I think between miles 14-15. I sometimes takes breaks to drink / eat / breathe / rest.

 

Like most marathon runners, I am competitive and type A. Typically when I run a marathon, I care about my time and have a strong desire to get a personal record (PR).  There have also been marathons where I have not focused on time (NYC last Fall and Boston this Spring) and simply run. But for the most part, I go out there to prove to myself that I am doing my best and getting faster.

 

Training in Oregon is great with its beauty of all the trails and rivers.

 

So how do I prepare? It takes MONTHS to get ready to run a marathon. I tend to start 16-18 weeks ahead of the marathon to get ready in prime marathon shape. All of this to say, that to prepare for a marathon you RUN a lot. I know that this is stating the obvious, but I usually run between 45-60 miles a week, each week. But in every run, I vary the intensity, the distance, the course, and the overall effort.

 

I am lucky to have a good friend, Nancy, who is 60 and a marathon runner herself, who will often times get on her bike to pace me and keep me company in those long runs in the early morning. Makes the biggest difference!

 

So I run 6 days a week with one rest day. During these six days of running, I have some easy runs (at a slow pace), a long run (with varied speeds, some with progressively getting faster and faster and faster), speed runs on track, speed runs on pavement / trails / roads, and tempo runs. There are days when I feel like I have had the best run and days when it is a challenge and I want to throw up. All of these runs make me faster, stronger mentally, and up for the challenge of facing the day.

 

Eugene is filled with lots of runners (a ton of elite runners train out here) and the neighbors lare all runner-friendly. Makes my heart all warm and fuzzy, and helps me on those long runs!

 

Basically, I am stating the absolute obvious, but to prepare for a marathon, you simply RUN. RUN A LOT. But short story, you mix up those miles and change here and there, and then finally, wam bam 16 weeks go by,and it is marathon day! So, Fall marathons, I am getting ready for you and can’t wait — but also enjoying the current state of preparation.

 

I did a progressive run this past weekend – 4 miles at an easy pace, 4 at 8 min pace, 4 at 7:30 min pace, 4 at 7:00 pace, and last mile HARD. I was super nervous leading up to the run, but I gave it my all. And I did it. Super hard work that I am really proud of myself for doing.

 

If anyone has specific marathon questions, let me know. I love talking about running (kind of like some people talk nonstop about their jobs or kids, well, I can do that with running!). Hope you are off to a great week and enjoying August!

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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Summer 2018 Orcas Island

We just finished up a full week in Orcas Island (a part of the San Juan Islands) with my family. It was a super fun filled week of hiking, biking, swimming in lakes, swimming in the ocean, swimming in the pool, roasting marshmallows, and breathing in the super fresh air. Orcas Island is an incredibly hilly island (made my runs extremely challenging….) but with ridiculous beautiful views and scenery. I can’t wait to return again and hope to make it an annual trip. Enjoy the pictures!

 

We rented a house in Rosario, one mile away from Moran State Park. This meant great access to hikes, trails, lakes, and views. At the top of Mount Constitution, there were breathtaking views of the other San Juan Islands, the Cascade Mountains, and all the lush greenery. HEAVEN, truly heaven.

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Summer 2018 Greece

In late June, we were fortunate to spend a week of vacation with my inlaws in Greece, my first trip there in 20+ years. As the kids and I had just come off a week of cultural visits (in Paris), we used our time in Greece to rest and relax. Despite the fact that Greece is full of a rich history, we were located in a remote part of the mainland of Greece and didn’t travel outside of the resort (except for one day where we were on a boat). We fell in love with Greece — the resort was absolutely DIVINE and I hope that we will be returning again soon. And of course, next time, we will have to check out more cultural sites as well as many of the islands.

 

Everything about the hotel was perfection. Absolutely perfect. This is where we ate breakfast every morning overlooking the ocean and mountains.

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Saturday Night Live Taping

This past weekend we had the experience of a lifetime, attending Saturday Night Live and hanging out backstage with cast member Mikey Day and his partner Paula, who is a friend of Ken’s from college. Paula and Mikey are incredibly friendly, interesting, funny, and grounded. So when they invited us to attend the dress rehearsal, hang out in the dressing room during the show, and then go to the after party (!!!!), we jumped at the opportunity… especially Ken, who is the show’s biggest groupie. We had SO MUCH FUN.

 

We had tickets for the dress rehearsal which required us to be there at 6:30. There was a lot of security to go through before it actually started at 8 pm.  The dress rehearsal lasted 2 hours and has more skits than the live taping.  They are militant about not allowing pictures. 🙁

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Boston Marathon 2018

On Monday, I proved to myself that not only was “Boston Strong” but that “I was strong.” In the middle of freezing rain, super windy conditions, and low temperatures (mid 30s), I ran and completed my first Boston Marathon. It was not at all pretty, fun, or wonderful. It was actually quite the opposite; horrible, gruesome, difficult, and treacherous. Boston is considered the most prestigious of all world marathons with everyone having to time qualify to run, and I was super excited to attempt the master of all races. Due to the weather conditions, I knew that it was going to be difficult to run my hardest. So instead of racing, I focused on perseverance and completion.

 

Expo picking up my number.

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Theo Chocolate Tour

Over Spring Break in Seattle, we had the privilege of visiting Theo Chocolate Factory and going on a tour (my beloved Gwyneth is the one who told me about it). It was fun, tasty, interesting, and a unique experience. Definitely worth going to — but probably best to do it AFTER lunch and not before. Cough, cough, we were the idiots who went with five kids at 10:30 am and ate ten chocolate bars before lunch.

 

Classic beautiful warehouse (an old brewery) in which the factory is housed.

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Taj Mahal 2018

As I mentioned on Monday, after our full two days in Rajasthan, we went on a pilgrimage to see the Taj Mahal. It was quite the trek — a full 5 hour drive from Rajasthan, and then 4 hours back to Delhi, but when in Rome…. How could we not see the Taj Mahal? Although it was an incredibly long day (on no sleep as the wedding was the night before), it was pure magic.

 

It was quite the racket to even get IN to the Taj Mahal. First of all, we had to be dropped off by our car 2 kilometers away and walk to the gates. We had not eaten a thing that day (we left before breakfast and street food was not happening for us), so the walk felt like miles and miles……but once we got through the ticket purchasing, the security, and all the lines, we saw this. MAGIC.

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Indian Wedding – Part 2 – The Details

Hello! I am back from a whirlwind 4 day trip to India. Currently, I don’t know the difference between up and down, India vs. USA, where I am, and what time zone I am in, but HEY, all worth it. It was a *once in a lifetime* trip and I am so glad that I went and experienced it all. I am sure I am going to have a serious whoop-a$$-kicking-week with work / kids / life / reality, but all worth it….YOLO (you only live once). Here are some pictures of my trip — sorry in advance for the number — I couldn’t help myself!

 

We arrived at 12 am Monday night — basically Tuesday morning. And had to wake up and drive 5 hours to the wedding site, which was located in Rajasthan. This is a picture of us on the roadside on our way to the wedding. We saw monkeys on the side of the freeway and couldn’t pass up the photo opportunity.

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Indian Wedding – Part 1

Hello from India!  Ken and I have had a whirlwind week, flying to India to celebrate the wedding of our friends.  For a number of reasons, (spotty wi-fi, severe jet lag, a packed schedule, #DelhiBelly), I won’t be able to post in detail until I get back to New York on Saturday (solo.. eeks… Ken is meeting with potential suppliers here and then flying on to Manila), but here are some quick pics of our wedding outfits in the meantime.. Enjoy!

 

There were a lot of parties. This was the first party on Day 1. Some people were in Indian outfits, others were in dresses. I decided to wear a top and skirt that looked both Indian and American — I love the color and the fit.

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Firenze 2018

I just returned from an incredible four day trip to Florence (Firenze), Italy with a big group of girlfriends. As you can imagine, there was never a dull moment with lots of food, wine, no sleep, and lots of activity. The trip was incredibly planned and I thoroughly enjoyed my first trip to this beautiful city.

 

We stayed at the most beautiful place. This is the view from one of the apartment’s kitchens. DUOMO. Stunning.

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New Years Goals 2018

2017 was somewhat of a rocky year with a lot of growing pains; on the national/political side to the smaller, less important personal side as well; physically, mentally, and emotionally. I am thankful for so much and grateful for everything, but it was challenging year in many ways. So now that we are in 2018, I am looking forward to continuing to grow, to feel, and to experience, but with a more positive and calm approach. Here are my goals for 2018! (and here are last year’s goals, which are very similar if not the same…) It is the year of love: loving myself, loving people, being in love, and channeling love, and doing things I love!

 

Love the smiles.

 

1. Be more gentle and kind to myself. Too often, I expect myself to be super woman and when I fall short it makes me feel worse.  This year, I am going to try my best, do the best, and be my best, but also be okay and loving even when I don’t.

 

2. Drink more tequila. As much as I love hot water with lemon, tequila is way more fun.

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Sunriver December 2017

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great finish to 2017 and a strong start to the New Year….I was happily in bed and asleep by 10:30 NYE after a fun dinner out with family and friends. I am still trying to create my goals for 2018, but in the meantime, here are some pictures of our adventure out west last week in Sunriver, OR with my parents, and brother’s family.   It is truly a great family friendly place for everyone to experience the beauty and nature of Oregon. We never get tired of it, even when going twice a year (this year in March and again in December). Enjoy the photos of beautiful Oregon!

 

Once again, Ken was the one who went downhill skiing with the kids. I only went one day (Christmas Day) and although it is fun, nothing compares to cross country skiing. So Ken is the downhill guy, and I am the cross country gal. yin and yang.

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2017 Chicago Marathon Recap

This past weekend, I ran my 8th marathon in Chicago. It was a terrific day but not a great race (or even run). It was super hard out on the course and I walked away disappointed and upset. I went in hopeful after a good training season with high mileage, fast speed runs, and a strong mental set….but for whatever reason, Sunday wasn’t my day and I didn’t do well. Without making any excuses, one thing after another happened — I had a side ache from the get go (and still have it!), my Nike App was totally off (it said I ran 27.5 miles so therefore was off the whole time, making me super confused…), I lost my caffeine gum, the top of my water bottle with my nutrition in it fell off, I sweat uncontrollably (it was 77 degrees), yada yada yada….nothing went well. And so I started to derail mentally, and thought I should quit because each step was hard on my side and nothing felt great – …..all of that to say, it was my hardest marathon to date, both mentally and physically. I clocked in a 3:33, but know I can do much better.

 

The trip was quick — I left Saturday morning at 9, and came back Sunday night at 930. Quick turn around, but happy to make it short and the marathon the focus of the weekend. Before I left for Chicago, I did lots of legs up the wall to help relax my body…

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Marathon Packing- Chicago Here I Come!

Tomorrow, I leave for Chicago for my marathon weekend. This time, I am going totally solo and will fly, run, and stay COMPLETELY alone. I am not sure what I am more nervous about; the 26.2 miles on Sunday, or the fact that I will be alone for 36 hours (I am not good alone for long periods of time). I know I have a bajillion friends and family to call, and I am actually staying at a runner friend’s extra apartment (I met her when running the 2015 Paris Marathon and stayed with her at the Chicago 2015 Marathon — and yes, that is only after meeting her once while running… runners are AWESOME), BUT BUT BUT, who am I going to wake up in the middle of the night to tell them I am nervous????? MY BABERS WILL NOT BE THERE TO TELL ME TO GO BACK TO SLEEP AND NOT TO WORRY. ***GULP**** In any case, I am packed and ready to go on my adventure. And here is what I packed.

 

This is of me, two years ago, eating dinner before the marathon. I am planning on eating there AGAIN. So cute and good. I look tired, because heck, I was most likely tired. And I probably look even worse now. ALSO, please note my red nail polish. It is a belief of mine to always have my nails painted BRIGHT red before marathons (mind you, my nails are almost painted red year round, but especially right before marathons), because my sister, Courtney, told me that it is a good reminder to “run like fire.” And so red nails, it is.

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Utah- Via Ferrata Climbing

Ken and I went to Utah this past weekend for a belated 10th anniversary celebration. And what a weekend it was — can’t rave enough about the extraordinary experience we had during our stay. It was to date, one of my favorite vacations and involved everything I love: adventure, exercise, beautiful sunny weather, nature, great food, and relaxing. One of my favorite activities was a climb in the mesas of the Canyon Valley of Southern Utah. The type of climb we did is called a Via Ferrata which involves steel rods / climbing ladders, and a steel cable that you are connected to. So yeah, JV type of climbing, but so fun and scary nonetheless!

 

This activity involved a guide, and I told the guide that we were both in good shape (#humblebrag) and wanted the hardest via ferrata climb that they had…..so look at the mesa we climbed. OY.

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Kids in School

While the transition from summer to fall (and from Oregon to a New York State of Mind) is always a whirlwind, it has been especially so this year. While Cruzzie started 2nd grade, Tusia started Kindergarten, which feels really symbolic. It seems like yesterday the kids were born, and WAM BAM, all of a sudden they are in elementary school. To say it is a wild ride is an understatement. I can’t believe how much they have grown (and therefore how old I *am*).

 

Cruzzie started 2nd grade on Wednesday. He has a uniform of coat and tie, but can wear anything. So of course, I bought him a NEON orange shirt, bright shorts, and a fun tie. Why not make a uniform full of pizazz and color?

Cruzzie started 2nd grade on Wednesday. He has a uniform of coat and tie, but can wear anything. So of course, I bought him a NEON orange shirt, bright shorts, and a fun tie. Why not make a uniform full of pizazz and color?

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Stanford Vacation

After spending the weekend in Costanoa, we continued our California vacation by spending a couple of days around Stanford University. As readers of the blog know, Ken and I started dating at graduate school at Stanford (although Ken and my brother were best friends and roommates at Amherst for undergraduate). It was extra special to be there with the kids and show them the various places that had an impact on our life (i.e. dating –> love –> marriage –> life –> kids). Not only did we go to Stanford, but my father did as well for graduate school (right after marrying my mother), so this place is special to the whole family, and not just me and Ken. Take a look at the pictures (and I promise this will be our last post on our vacations, as we return to NYC so soon).

 

My squad at the hotel.

My (good looking) squad at the hotel.

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Costanoa

Greetings from beautiful Northern California!  We just had an amazing weekend catching up with our Stanford friends in Costanoa. Part camping, part hotel; basically high-end roughing it. Not camping, but pretending to camp.

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Our bungalow, aka a yurt. This little shelter is made up of plastic walls. Like a tent, but actually a little cottage.

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Sonoma 2017

We returned Sunday night from our Third Annual Sonoma Trip with a small group of our Stanford friends. It continues to be a wonderful tradition and something we look forward to each summer. If you have never been to wine country in CA before, I highly suggest doing it– beautiful vineyard views, hot dry weather, delicious farm-to-table-food, and of course… amazing local wine. Can life be any better? Thank you to our wonderful friends and hosts, Kimmers and Joe. Enjoy the photos — I want to go back now!

 

On our friend's property (100 acres!), they have many different houses / cabins spread out. We took over a cabin close to the main house and it was oh so cute (and yes, all four of us Natoris slept in the same bed for three nights!)

The guest house we stayed at on our friend’s property. We took over a cabin close to the main house and it was oh so cute (and all four of us Natoris slept in the same bed for three nights!)

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1st Week of Summer 2017 in Oregon

It is hard to believe that ten days ago, I was in NYC….it feels like I’ve been gone for months! My life in Oregon is quite simple, but it is easy, wonderful, and I love it. Here are some pictures of the past week – Enjoy!

 

We do a lot of biking in Eugene. My parents actually don't drive anywhere, they SOLELY bike. So we have fun biking around the river, picking the kids up from camp, or just doing errands. In this photo, I am with my daughter and my littlest niece, Nadia.

We do a lot of biking in Eugene. My parents actually don’t drive anywhere. So we have fun biking around the river, picking the kids up from camp, or just doing errands. In this photo, I am with my daughter and my littlest niece, Nadia. (My helmet is from Sawako Furono Helmets)

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10 Year Anniversary!

With a blink of an eye, Ken and I are celebrating our 10 year anniversary.  Together, we have gone through a lot (fertility treatments, family dynamics, crazy New York, major home renovation, and all of the other normal life stuff), and through these ups and downs, we are constantly working together trying to try to become better people and a stronger couple. Ken is my favorite companion, and I love him up to the sky, down again, around the world and back again. I anticipate that there will continue to be other obstacles and challenges in our life, but I am also confident that we will work together as a team to get through anything in our way. To celebrate, here are some photos to walk down memory lane (and notice how young, thin, and carefree we once were! And how little we knew back then!)

 

BTS: the first and only time I have ever had curlers in my hair. Here is Oliver Echaudemaison, the creative director of Guerlain (and also a good friend of my mother in law's) who came from Paris to do my make up. Let me tell you, my make up has never been so nice as that day.

BTS: the first and only time I have ever had curlers in my hair. Here is Olivier Echaudemaison, the creative director of Guerlain (and also a good friend of my mother in law’s) who came from Paris for the wedding and was kind enough to do my make-up.

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Paris Marathon 2017

I just returned from a quick trip to Paris where I completed by 4th Paris Marathon (7th marathon total). It was great fun — both the trip itself and the run, and now I am looking forward to not traveling, not doing long runs, and staying put….. at least for the next couple of months (I have already planned my next two marathons…). Here are pictures of the weekend! (And what day is it today?)

 

Crazy as it was, we landed at 2 pm on Saturday. Which meant, the only thing we could do that day was go to the Expo to pick up our bibs and get settled for the race next morning. YUP. The race at 8:20 am the next morning! Here is my feast that morning pre-race.

We landed at 2 pm on Saturday, 16 hours before race time. So the only thing we could do that day was go to the Expo to pick up our bibs and get settled for the race next morning. YUP. The race at 8:20 am the next morning! Here is our feast pre-race.

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