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Scared

I heard about this story late this afternoon, and I’ve had a pit in my stomach ever since.

A 31 year old woman was attacked this morning on her early morning run.  Thank goodness she is okay and was not hurt, but this shit is scary.  This poor woman.  My same age, running the same route I’ve run before, at the same time of day.  Granted, I haven’t set foot to the pavement in an embarrassing amount of time, but this used to be my MO.  Not all too long ago, I’d wake up super early, same time as this young lady, 5am.  Suit up, put on my little blinking light attached to my shorts or capris, kiss ManFriend goodbye, and off I’d go for a five to eight mile run, several mornings a week.

What scares me isn’t only that this is so close to home for me, not just geographically but in the sense that it literally hits close to home.  I’ve run these streets before, been in this same position, and yet, this happened to her.  It’s not fair, and it’s scary to think what could have happened if this girl hadn’t yelled at the top of her lungs and scared this creep off.

I’m not sure if it were me, if I’d have the wherewithal to react quickly in such a situation?  I like to think that I’m very aware of my surroundings.  I try to be as safe as possible, but the scary truth is, you just never know what could happen.  And hey, this area is known as “safe.”  Okay.  As you can read in the article, Newton is ranked 5th safest town in the US, but it just goes to show, this stuff can happen anywhere.

It’s a big eye opener for me.  I’ll definitely think twice about running alone early in the morning from now on.  ManFriend was always hesitant to see me leave so early by myself, but I’d always assure him that I’d be fine.  Maybe the buddy system wouldn’t be such a bad idea.  And running with a brighter light.  And maybe a cell phone.  Mace?

These kinds of stories have always freaked me out.  Breakins, attacks, stuff like that.  I’m a hypervigilant person as it is, but I suppose one can never be quite aware enough about these kinds of things.  I thought at the very least I would share this story here with all of you.  I know I don’t talk about running very much anymore, but at one time it was a very big part of my life, and I know a handful of people here are runners as well.  That being said, you don’t have to be a runner to have this strike a chord inside of you.  I hope that this will maybe even be a little bit of an eye opener for all of you too.  Be careful.  Be aware of your surroundings.  Choose to do your fitnessy things, be it a run or a morning walk with your dog, when it’s a little lighter out.  Stick to well-lit areas, carry a cell phone, always tell someone where you are going so that they know your usual route, and when you plan on being back.  Keep an eye out for anything that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  If something seems a little off, listen to that.  Listen to your gut.  Run into the Dunkin Donuts and just hangout for a few minutes if you need to, call your significant other or a friend to come and pick you up.  All of these things… they could make a huge difference.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer here, but this story has been stuck with me all day, and I thought that maybe this would be a good opportunity while reminding myself about the key things we can do to try to maintain some sense of safety, to remind all of you as well.

Big big group hugs all around for safety and happiness and laughter and kittens and gumdrops and the works.

Do you have any tips on how to stay safe when you exercise outside?

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say cheese

Who knows about cameras?
 
Not me, that’s who.
 
If you’ve ever read my other blog (let me know if you want the link to that one), you’ve probably noticed the “why technology drives me to drink” and the “WHY TECHNOLOGY DRIVES ME TO DRINK: IN CAPS” tag on many a post of mine.
 
I’m not good with techy things.  I curse at my blackberry at least once a day (but that’s more because the thing is on it’s last leg than my ignorance, I swear).  I get the blue screen of death on my lappy at least once per week and I don’t know what to do about it.  I had to buy a whole nursing textbook package for school this semester, to put on my itouch, and in doing so, I wiped out 1,000+ songs.  And then I died.
 
In short, I’m bad with technology, and it all just kind of pisses me off.
 
So, on to cameras.
 
I have a nice little camera.  It’s a Canon PowerShot, that little Digital Elph one.  And it’s blue!  It’s telling me it has 8.0 megapixels.  I don’t understand that, but I’m just trying to give you an idea of what I’m working with here.  Oh, it’s also saying that it’s an “SD1100 IS.”  So, there’s the facts.

what my little badass camera looks like!

 
And here’s my issue, and where I’m begging you for some help.
 
I want a new camera for Christmas.  I don’t know what kind to look for.  I need your help.
 
Can you give me some suggestions?  And please, I beg you, dumb it down for me.  I don’t know what a point and shoot is, I don’t know much about megapixels other than… they’re good?  The more the better?  Maybe it’s the other way around?
 
Here’s what you should know first, in order to help me.  The thing that I love MOST about my little camera is just that, it’s little.  I can fit it in my purse and even in a small wristlet. 
 
I take pictures constantly.  I’m the one in my group of friends known for always having the camera, even if it isn’t the top of the line camera, I still get some pretty good shots.  And my camera does take good pictures, but… I want it to take better ones.  Sometimes I feel like the photographs are a little grainy.  Do I need more or less megapixels?  Is megapixel one word or two?  Maybe I need a point and shoot?  Maybe I need to get a life?
 
Does what I’m looking for exist?  Something small and compact, that takes good, quality, crisp shots?  Or does this mean that I need to suck it up and get the touristy kind of camera that all you food bloggers and elite photographers that I envy so much carry around with you to events?  You guys always take the best pictures, but what I’m saying is, I don’t know if I can do the big camera thing.  Do I have to?  Should I?
 
Help me.

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I finished!! 

 
Not just now.  It’s three days later and I’m just now really getting around to doing an appropriate race recap.  I put my legs up on Monday night as Matt and I were watching Dexter, relaxing after the whirlwind of a weekend we’d just had, and started to try and do a recap here, but it just wasn’t happening. 
 
I needed a couple of days to take it all in.
 
In a word?  Awesome.  The race was amazing.  From the million + spectators (no joke!), to the event itself, to the thousands of volunteers handing out water and Gatorade and bananas on the sidelines, the whole experience was hands down one of the most thrilling of my life.
  
I’m a marathoner!
  
(Picture of me dorking out when I saw Nilsa at around mile 23.  Hey, at least I’m smiling!)
 
What an incredible race.  I’m not sure that I’m really allowed to have any complaints at this stage of the game, first marathon and all.   Afterall, I finished! My only real complaint, was that it was HOT.  Super, crazy hot.  Not unlike the heat that I have trained in many a time this summer, BUT, when you sign up for a Fall marathon, you kind of hope and somewhat expect that it will be a nice, crisp, Fall day.  Well, not so much.  While I knew that the weather was one of those things I just had no control over, when I saw the reports of temps reaching near 80 on Sunday, I wasn’t too excited. But, I knew I could do it, given that I’d done training runs in much worse.
 
While the heat most definitely had a huge impact on my time, the fact of the matter is, I finished the marathon!  And I’m so, so excited about that. 
 
Heading out of Charity Village, where I checked some stuff in the Girls on the Run tent before the race, I was beyond excited to run into my buddy Kevin!  We had tried connecting the day before, both on our cell phones walking around downtown, SO CLOSE to one another but not able to find each other.  Then, out of a sea of 45,000 people, who do I run into?!  KEVIN!  (I have a sweet picture of us at the start that I’ll have to upload here… I’m still working on getting all of the photos from the weekend organized.)
 
It was so nice to be able to start with my Boston running buddy.  If I didn’t have to stupidly stop to pee at mile 3, chances are we would have continued the whole race together.  Kevin finished about 4 minutes before I did, just about the time it took me to wait in line for the porta potties, do my thing, and get back out there.  In the humungo crowd of thousands, I wasn’t able to find Kevin again to catch up.  But I knew he was out there… somewhere!
 
Speaking of starts, and sweet moments, one that has special meaning to me, and you will understand this more if you know the background story about Matt and his marathon journey, is that the two of us were able to start together.  I can’t tell you how meaningful this was for me.  To be able to start the race with the man I love, when I wasn’t sure up until just days before how that would all work out, well, it was really something, let me tell you.
 
Here we are AFTER the race…
 
(He was apparently planning to go hunting after the marathon!?)
 
Matt and I stayed together until about mile 5.  We were pacing really well, going under a 10 minute mile, which was my goal for a sub 5 hour finish.  I knew I wasn’t supposed to have any big time goals in mind, or any time goals AT ALL for that matter.  I’d been warned about that from seasoned marathon buddies.  But I think on some level, we all go into a race like this with some sort of goal in mind.  Anyway, at the end of the day, my main goal was to just finish, and finish happy which I totally did.
 
 
Matt and I smooched and parted ways at the 5 mile mark.  He told me that he was going to find the moms, who were there cheering us on.  This was our plan from the get-go.  If he decided he wanted to stay behind, or stop, he made me promise that I wouldn’t let this affect my race.  While this was hard for me to accept, I knew that it was the right thing for this race.  We’d talked about it in-depth many a time.  He knew how conflicted I felt about not sticking with him, the guilt I experienced.  How I felt that I would be “leaving”  him.  He talked me right out of that.  Matt is amazing that way.  He didn’t make me feel bad for a minute for any of that.  He reminded me of how hard I had trained for this race, and encouraged me over and over that when he decided he would hold back, that I was to go on.
 
And go on I did…
 
So turns out, Matt told me he was stopping at mile 5.  But he told me that so that I wouldn’t worry.  And obsess, and worry some more (worry is what I do best?).  Instead of stopping at 5, guess what this champ did?!  He went on to run half!  This came seemingly out of no where, for a guy who hasn’t been training for such a distance in months.  Though it surprised me on some level, at the same time, I knew Matt had it in him to pull something like this off.  What a great accomplishment for him; I am elated for him, and so proud of his strong finish!
So now Matt was off on his own, doing his own race (unbeknownst to me!).  Up until the halfway point, I was pacing pretty well.  I wasn’t even paying too much attention to my watch, I could just feel that I was running well. 
 
And then, the heat hit.  We’re talking upper 80’s here, whooboy, it was a hot one.  I kept plugging along, but I knew I was slowing down.  I was craving more and more water, but conflicted because I didn’t want to chug the water at the aid stations, for I knew that would make my stomach a mess.  I walked through every water station from 13.1 out.  Walked slow, real slow, at some of them.  And then you know how it goes, once you walk, getting back to it and running is even tougher.  But I didn’t have too much of a choice.  I knew I didn’t want to walk any of the race OTHER than the water stops, so this was my chance to kind of regroup.
 
 
The one and only time I walked besides the water stations was when I saw Nilsa and her husband around mile 23.  They ended up being the only people who I knew that I saw on the course (more on that in a minute), so I had to pull over and say hello for a minute.
 

And stretch.

The main “hurt” that I had during the whole race was my hips.  So weird, because my hips NEVER hurt.  I guess you just never know what will happen on race day! 

Speaking of cheering and all?  Having my name on my shirt?  Such a good idea!  People were cheering for me left and right the whole entire race!  While I’d heard that this could either be a good or a bad thing… could give me some great motivation, might get a little annoying, I loved it.  I figure I put my name on there for a reason, and you’re damn right I appreciated every single “go Meg!” that I heard on the sidelines.

So, the second half of the race was getting hotter and hotter.  And the course went from a “yellow” caution level to a “red,” “high” alert level.  There were warnings on the course to slow down, to walk if needed, not to push it.  And a lot of people did walk.  This is a part that I struggled with, seeing people hurting.  Not for nothing, because hell, I was hurting in my own right, but seeing people on the sidelines walking, or limping, or worse- at the first aid tent getting IV’s, that was tough to see.  I really felt so much empathy for them.  I can’t even imagine training so hard for such a big event, and having to bail out midway through because of a medical emergency. 

Some people say that the last 6 miles are the toughest.  Afterall, I had never run beyond 20, so yeah, I was pretty freaking nervous for 20-26.2.  But the worst of it for me?  Was roughly miles 17-19.  It was just so god damn hot out there.  This whole second half of the race was in the blazing sun, whereas the first half was at least in the shade.  While there were spectators everywhere, they kind of dwindled down a bit at around mile 17 or so, and I found these 3 miles to be the toughest.

Around mile 20, I kind of felt a burst of energy.  And I mean, that’s all relative because it wasn’t as though I was going into sprint mode here.  But I did feel like, holy hell, I’m six miles away from being a marathoner!  Something clicked then, and I knew I could do it.

Mile 20 was also where I was hoping to see the moms.  I knew there was a very likely possibility that I would miss them, or they’d miss me, and unfortunately that’s what happened.  Turns out, the moms were on the left side of the road cheering, and I was on the right.  I knew my mom was out there, nearby… somewhere, and though I didn’t actually see her, that kind of helped me get through another mile a little easier.

One of my favorite moments of the race was when I could have sworn that I was coming up on mile 21, and not two minutes later, I saw that I was actually at 22!  WIN!

When I say that miles 20-26.2 weren’t awful, they most definitely weren’t easy.  It’s that feeling where you know you’re close, but I also knew I was about an hour away.  My everything was kind of aching at this point, the sun was beating down like crazy, and damn, was I thirsty.

This picture is one of my favorites for two reasons.  First, look at how freaking happy I am, at mile 26?!  I did make it a point to try and smile every time I saw a photographer (but also have learned that I run with my tongue out a lot?, thanksverymuch marathonfoto.com).  Secondly, see this dude  here in blue?  He’s from Ireland.  I came across him right here, and he was walking.  He looked so strong and I don’t know, I know some people may find it annoying when they are walking, to have another runner to tell them to “be strong!, you can do it!”… but I had the sense that all this guy needed was a little encouragement.  I looked over to him and told him “buddy!, we’re almost there!  come on, run with me!”  And he said his legs felt so weak, he wasn’t sure he could do it.  I told him damn straight he could do it; we were SO CLOSE to the finish line.  He told me this was his third marathon, that he had come to Ireland for this race.  I told him how this was my first, and told it to him straight right then and there, that we were running to the finish.

He cooperated.  😉

He was so gracious and such a cool dude.  At the last couple seconds, when we could see the finish line right there, he pushed me, “go ahead girl, you go for it!”  And you can see above, we finished pretty much right together.  Kind of fun, and definitely memorable, that little encounter.

And so, I finished!  I’m a marathoner!

(I had one sip of that beer, and then tossed it.  One of those things that seem like a good idea at the time.  And who am I to pass up a free brew?  Remember, it had been a week since any alcohol consumption over here.)

What a race.  To say I had an incredible, amazing, wonderful time, would even be an understatement.  I’m just so, so excited about it all.  I trained hard for this thing, put in some serious time and energy into this, and I achieved my goal!

I’m totally loving the marathon.  Would you think I’m crazy if I told you I tried to sign up for another one in about a month in NH, but found out that it’s on a weekend I have clinical? 

I’m already addicted!  I want more!  More of the rush, more of the energy from the whole experience.  I loved most everything about it, and I am so, so happy that I’m able to say today, that I am a marathoner.  No one can take that away from me!  Woo!

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Last year, when I trained for my half marathon, I decided to run for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute team.  With the generous donations of friends and family, I ended up raising over $2,000 towards cancer research!  This was such an accomplishment for me.  Not only to train for, and race in my first half marathon, but also to raise so much money for a cause that hits so close to home for me.  Both of my maternal grandparents fought a heroic battle with cancer in 2008.  There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of them and the wonderful people they were.  They are my true guardian angels and I miss them like crazy, every day.

This time around, when I decided back in February that I was going to run the Chicago Marathon, I decided to run not affiliated with a charity.  Since this race was coming pretty quick off the heels of my half marathon that I had just raised so much for, I didn’t want to ask people to donate again.  I didn’t want anyone feeling obligated or like they had to donate, thinking “geeze, all this chick does is ask us for money!”

So for five months, through July or so, I had been going along in my training, supporting friends who were running for charities (check out Kevin’s blog too!), and enjoying the process.

Then in mid-July, I came across Girls on the Run.  Girls on the Run is a program developed for young girls, between the ages of eight and thirteen.  It combines training for a 3.1/5K race, with self esteem enhancing activities and workouts.

“The goals of the programs are to encourage positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual and physical development.”

The goal of this program is to empower girls at an early age, in order to prevent at risk activities in the future, like drug and alcohol use, eating disorders, and the early onset of sexual activity.

The more I read about this program, the more I fell in love with the concept!  I had to get involved!  So I searched around, and found that guess what?!  There’s a Boston chapter of Girls on the Run!  Check it out!

Girls on The Run also has this really great program that I have gotten involved with, called Solemates.  Solemates is the adult portion of the Girls on the Run program.  As a member of the Solemates team, I am raising money to help support my local Boston council.  By doing this, I’m helping raise money to help young girls compete in train in their own 5K in Boston!

I know that my intention was to run the Chicago Marathon not affiliated with a charity, but hen I found Girls on the Run, something about it really caught my attention.  I used to volunteer with Big Brother/Big Sister a few years back, and I really enjoyed it.  I think there’s something really wonderful about working with young girls, teaching them the importance of a strong self esteem and confidence and self worth early.  And to combine all of that with running?  Hell yeah!

Thanks for listening to my little shtick here.  But don’t just take my word for it!  Check out the links for yourself, and see what a great program Girls on the Run and Solemates are!

If you’re interested, you can check out my fundraising page, and donate here!  THANKS!

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Seven weeks into marathon training probably isn’t the time to figure such things out like, YOUR SHOES NOT FITTING correctly.  But leave it to me and my blisters to tell you that something is decidedly not right with my feet these days, and I think it all goes back to the sneaks!

Tell me, do you go up a size or a half a size in running sneakers?  I’m normally a size 8 high heel regular shoe.  Last year when I did my half, I went up to an 8.5, and that seemed to work pretty well.  There’s always been slight blister issues, but not so much that I had any issue while running, more that my feet just hurt afterwards.  Enough that I could deal.

So I figured, why not try going up another half a size?  When it was time to get my new sneaks this time around, I explained to the friendly runner gurus at Marathon Sports my whole blister debacle, and the nice chick there suggested I try going up to a 9.  I tried them out that day right then and there, ran up the street and back, and they felt fine.  They were the same brand as before (Asics), just the 2010 version.  Marathon Sports is cool in that they let you try out the shoes for something like two or three weeks, and if you’re not satisfied, you can return them and switch to a different pair.  Well I did try them for a few weeks.  And they were fine!  They felt good, there really wasn’t any huge issue.  I was still getting blisters but I just figured, apparently I have blister feet, or something, and kept on going.

I ran a half marathon in them, and I’ve been training with them ever since.  But the blisters, they’re getting worse.  I’m down three toe nails at this point and still have the pedicure question, but now want a 30% discount since I’m DOWN THREE TOE NAILS!

Yeah, ew. I know.

And this from me, a girl who used to LOVE a good, relaxing, soothing pedicure!  But no more.  I haven’t been in months, and my feet, they’re-a-hurtin’.

(Sidenote: Don’t ever, ever google “woman + blisters” if you don’t want to fear for your life, OR, if you’re eating dinner at the same time and don’t want to totally lose your meal. I’m just sayin’.)

ANYWAY…

So other than my poor little tootsies, things here are going just swell in the way of training.  Last weekend I set a personal distance record, racking up 14 miles!  Besides the hot as hell hot and humid weather we’re having here, all things considered, the run went really well.  I finished in 2:20, running about a 10 minute mile.  Given this extreme heat, I was pretty happy with that.

Oh and also?  I’ve finally decided to smarten the heck up, and I’m using a water belt!  Who’da thunk that this little sucker would be such a lifesaver?!

I swear every time I come here that I’ll come here more often.  And life just seems to be getting away from me these days.  I have been reading all these great running blogs lately, and yummy food blogs, all these in addition to the filled to the brim google reader I constantly have with hundreds of my favorite blogs that I’ve known and loved for several years now!

What’s your favorite blog to check out for running inspiration or advice?  Or, your favorite blog that has nothing to do with running, but that you love just because?

In no particular order, here are a handful of my go-to blogs for both running related things and not so much running related things.  Check them out!

  • SoMi Speaks– I’m lucky enough to know this lovely lady in real life as well as through our blogs.  She’s run multiple marathons, lives in Chicago, and she and her husband “Sweets” are going to be our gracious hosts for the marathon this October!
  • Life According to Mel Heth– This newly engaged gal is also a runner!  She lives on the West Coast and writes about her daily life, enjoying the everyday (including wine and cheese!) with her Mr. Wonderful, and the running she does near wine country!
  • I Run, You Run– This chick lives in DC and is battling some serious heat these days on her long runs! And I think we have it bad in Boston!  She’s also newly engaged, and likes to race with her cutie fiance Karl!
  • JustRunJustLiveJustBe– Aww Lesley.  I just have so many wonderful things to say about my Colorado running mentor of a friend.  Though we’ve never MET in real life, we’ve known each other for … almost FOUR years now?  She’s run more races than I can count, she’s an amazing writer, and a fabulous photographer!
  • Skinny Runner– She’s funny, she’s fast, she dishes about celebrities, she busts out 10 miles like it’s her job, and her JOB job is pretty effing sweet!  She’s a chick version of Deadliest Catch, heading to Alaska in the summertime to do that whole dangerous fishing thing.
  • running, eating, living in the real world– We share the same name! I don’t think she knows who I am, but I google stalk her blog on the regular.  She’s a college graduate also training for the Chicago marathon!  And she’s battling some nasty heat these days in Florida!

Tell me some of your go-tos!

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These long weekends always seem so long at say, 2:00PM on a Friday afternoon as I’m staring at the clock hoping to get out early, but by the time Monday night rolls around, I just never know where the time went!

This weekend was HOT hot blazing hot here.  Friday night Matt and I ate a really yummy dinner at Post390, a newer restaurant in the city.  Really good!  The post hard lemonade went down really smooth- strawberry ruharb a perfect summer flavor.  We started with the pecking duck [potstickers, which were the perfect portion and really yummy.  Not being a big fan of duck, I was a little leery about this one, but they were really yummy.  Matt went with the soft shell crabs for dinner, and for training purposes only (ahem), I decided to carbo-load and get the four cheese macaroni with fire roasted jalapeno.  I opted out of the duck ham (again with the duck), and added grilled chicken instead.  You know, to make what I can only imagine a 1,000 calorie + dish a teeeeensie bit healthier.  Right.  And yum.

The rest of the weekend was really low key.  We spent a lot of time deep cleaning our little apartment, switching around some furniture, talking about new room decor and paint colors.  Saturday night we went to the Sox game, a PERFECT night in the city for a game.  When we left at the bottom of the 8th, they were winning 9 to 1!  Sweet!

Our seats were awesome!

Earlier that day, and I mean earlier, as we tried to get out there to beat the heat, we got in a 12 mile run.  This is the first time that I’ve run with water, and woamygod!  I totally noticed a difference!  I had one small bottle with just water, and the other with gatorade.  On a 90+ day with extreme humidity, it’s stupid to run without hydration.  I really noticed a difference in my energy level, even after sipping just a little bit of water.  It helped a whole hell of a lot.

Yesterday for the 4th, we of course hit a BBQ with some family:

hi mom!

Hope you all had a Happy 4th of July and are staying cool out there!  Bachelorette time!

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First let me fill you in on the fact that Matt is back up and running again! Literally.  After a good dose of steroids over the past couple of weeks, his legs are back to normal and we’re back in action on our marathon training.  This my friends, is super exciting and in fact, cause for celebration!

So when Matt got the feeling back in his legs, we decided to celebrate with a weekend away in Montreal!

Not really.  Well, yeah really.  We DID go to Montreal for a little getaway last weekend, but it’s been a trip planned for months.  Just so happens that it came at a perfect time, as we were really able to enjoy every last drop if what the city had to offer.

Last drop?  Does that make you think of beer?

Lots of beers.  And lots and lots of yummy, indulgent, write-home-about food:

poutine!

mmmm crepes!

We headed up to Montreal for a wedding.  Matt’s buddy from lacrosse tied the knot, and we took the opportunity to make a long weekend out of it.  It was so, so much fun!  There’s so much to tell you, from the indulgent desserts that we ate, all of the walking and exploring we did of the city, the relaxing, the quality time we had together.  It was just perfect.  Just what we needed.

enjoying a beer and cigar outside at jazz fest!

we really don't clean up too bad when we're not running, eh?

I don’t know why it looks like I’m going to fall towards the camera.

making friends with other couples at our table who, like us, knew no one but the bride and groom at the wedding!

We had so much fun.  Montreal is an interesting, and eclectic city for sure.  Lots to see and do, eat and drink, lots of opportunity to laze around, explore, eat and drink, check out the culture, speak French!, and did I mention, eat and drink???

cornucopia of deliciousness!

i died last weekend. and went to HEAVEN.

If you haven’t been to Montreal, I totally recommend checking it out.  It’s a fun little city with so much to see and do. We enjoyed every little bit of our three day escape there!  Can’t wait to go back one day again!

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