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Hi There, Remember Me?

Hey, remember when I actually blogged semi-successfully? And shared all the boring happenings of my life? And actively participated in the blogging community? Yea me too…oops

So for those wondering, I’m still alive. Really! So much has happened since I last blogged – running, travel (Denver & India!), school (SO MUCH SCHOOL), the arrival of my niece ♥ – the list goes on. The reality is that I’ve been busy, so so so busy, and it’s all because of school. Truth be told, I never expected to be this busy with school. Coming from an engineering background, I was accustomed to long study hours and incredibly challenging material. Yet somehow Columbia managed to make even the most straightforward courses difficult. Much to my surprise, the premedical curriculum at Columbia University has been the hardest educational challenge yet for me. I study more than I ever did in my undergrad years, the struggle is real but I love it.

organic chemistry

Anyway, the purpose of this post is not to complain about school but to provide a quick update on LIFE. I survived my semester, which ended psychotically late…December 22nd! And then I promptly headed to the bar at noon after my last final and downed a drink (or two) with friends in celebration of the completion of the semester from hell. My parents had flown in the night before to see me off to India and then hang around NYC for the Christmas holiday. I left to India the following morning and proceeded to have the most incredible life-changing experience. But that’s worthy of another post or two that I’ll hopefully write soon before disappearing again in school mode.

Taj Mahal

I’ve also run a few races that I failed to blog about – the Staten Island Half Marathon and a short 5 mile race. Now I officially have guaranteed entry into this year’s NYC Marathon!!! I’m PUMPED to finally run the race, assuming the random new injuries I’ve been dealing with (umm wtf achilles tendinitis) will cooperate.

Staten Island Half Marathon

Perhaps the best news is that my sister gave birth to the prettiest little girl I’ve ever laid eyes on! Welcome to this world, Gisela, you are so so so loved already. I can’t wait to meet you in a few days!

baby

And finally, I wanted to send a huge thank you to all those who have not only stuck around this part of the internet, but have also become blogger friends. 2015 was a great year, but 2016 will be even better!

♥ Irina

2015 Bronx 10 Mile Run Recap

The Bronx 10 Mile was held on Sunday, September 27th, 2015 in the Bronx. This race is part of the Five-Borough Series and counted towards my 9+1 Program requirement!

I woke up around 5:30AM, foam rolled while sipping on coffee and chowing down peanut butter + banana toast, and set out towards the Bronx. The train ride only took about 20 minutes and was packed to the brim with runners!

Bronx 10 Mile

I can’t continue this recap without mentioning the nice fall weather we were blessed with that morning – it was chilly yet sunny, and the humidity wasn’t too horrific although it was a bit high. Fall, I’ve missed you deeply.

The race started without any delays and, despite the 9,000+ runners, it took us only 5 minutes to cross the start line and begin running.

Miles 1 – 5
I always start conservatively and this race was no exception, although I knew it would be a good race from the moment I started running. My legs felt strong…no lead-leg syndrome! The most annoying aspect of the race was the deceiving nature of the turnaround point. I’m at fault for not studying the race course but I kept thinking that the turnaround was approaching by the looks of all the people already running back towards us. But nope! 5 miles in and we were still not quite there. I started having minor knee aches about 4 miles in, which totally set me into a minor frenzy with all sorts of negative thoughts. My knees and shins have been bothering me lately and this was basically my biggest fear that morning. Luckily, we approached a DJ blasting awesome techno-ish music along the race course at mile 5, and I instantly felt a pep in my step.

Miles 6 – 10
The phantom pains in my knees and shins continued into mile 6 and then seemingly dissipated a mile or so later. All weird aches aside, I was feeling really good and knew I could start pushing my pace a bit. I had already started my mental math game near the 7 mile mark and only then decided to aim for a sub 1:30 hour finish. It would be possible, but I would need to maintain a fairly fast (for me) pace. Challenge accepted! The last two miles were gold. I felt strong and energized, and continued pushing my pace until it hovered in the low 8’s.

Bronx 10 Mile

Those spits though! Seriously, I have no idea how but I’ve managed to master the art of negative splitting in races but I’m not hating it. Mile 7 though…why you gotta be 1 second slower than mile 6?!? Cue the OCD.

Bronx 10 Mile

Final Time1:28:31 (8:52 min/mile pace)
Place: 3869 / 9357
Age Division (F, 25-29): 297 / 1030

Bronx 10 Mile

Pros:
• Race course – I love exploring new areas through running, and this race gave me the opportunity to see a part of the city I otherwise probably wouldn’t visit.
• Race photos – Always fun, even when I’m mostly covered by people in front of me.
• Cost – I paid only $35 as a NYRR member, but non-members pay $50 for the early-bird price (which increases with time).
• Water stops – My memory is the worst but I think there were water stops at every other mile or so, which I really appreciated!
• Race tech tee – Love the material and bright lime-green color!

Cons:
• Race course – Ok so I added this as a con as well, only because the entire first half of the race fools you into thinking the turnaround point is near when in reality it’s only around the 6 mile mark!

Bronx 10 Mile

Even though it was fun running through a part of the city I normally wouldn’t run in, I don’t see myself particularly drawn towards running this race again next year. Who knows though, those pretty medals might have quite an appeal!

♥ Irina

2015 5th Avenue Mile Run Recap

The famous 5th Avenue Mile (1 mile) race was held on Sunday, September 13th, 2015 along 5th Avenue from 80th to 60th street in the Upper East Side of Manhattan (side note: 20 blocks = 1 mile). I’ve wanted to run this race since learning about it last year and even registered for it, but then Aruba came along and my registration was promptly forgotten in place of a beachy vacation. This was finally my year.

I was honestly super nervous about running this. I’m a long-distance junkie and severely dislike the sick-to-your-stomach feeling that accompanies racing a short distance. As much as I really wanted to see how fast I could run one mile, I was nervous about completely crashing or being the slowest one (lolz horrible to say I know, but I felt like everyone was faster than me!).

5th Avenue Mile

The race was split into male / female age categories, with each “wave” setting off about 15 minutes after the preceding one. Females, ages 18-29, were all chunked into one category, making us the largest group. Needless to say, it was crowded.

5th Avenue Mile

Mile 1
Having never raced a one miler before, I had no idea what pace to aim for. I got caught in a brief roadblock at the start but continued to maintain a 7:05 / 7:10 pace at the very beginning before deciding that I was ok to push it a bit. At that halfway point, I sped up and allowed my pace to hover around/below a 7:00 min/mile, which actually felt reasonable and challenging enough without inducing nausea quite yet. The entire race completely flew by! Next thing I knew, I was speeding up and racing towards the finish line with a 6:55 min/mile pace in the final quarter mile. At one point we climbed a small hill and I got stuck behind a walker…super frustrating considering that every second counts in such a short race! It took all I had to sprint to the finish line and then BAM I was done in the blink of an eye.

5th Avenue Mile

Final Time: 7:04 (7:04 min/mile pace)
Place: 3411 / 6331
Age Division (F, 25-29): 261 / 608

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my final time. I’m glad to have a gauge for the 1-mile distance and I know what I’m capable of in the future. A sub-7 minute mile is easily within my reach, and that’s what I’m going for next!

Pros:
• Race course – It was so much fun racing down the middle of 5th Avenue! The course itself was fairly flat with the exception of one small hill around the halfway point.
• Race photos – Always appreciated, and surprising given the short race!
• Unique – How many times do you come across a one-mile race, especially one in the middle of Manhattan?

Cons:
• Race tech tee – For such a high cost (for a 1 mile race), they could’ve had better shirts that were not cotton!
• Cost – I paid only $25 as a NYRR member, but non-members pay $40 for the early-bird price, which (in my opinion) is steep for such a short race.
• Crowded – The 18-29 female category was completely sold out, which made for a crowded race course. I wish they would separate out the age groups into two distinct categories to solve this issue!

My initial reaction was that I didn’t want to ever run this race again, but eventually I realized that it would be a fun way to test my 1-mile sprinting abilities each year. So basically, I can most definitely see myself running it next year!

♥ Irina

Adventures in Thrifting: Burberry Dress

I am far from a fashion blogger (lol) and don’t intend to be, but I love fashion and would really enjoy sharing my personal style and shopping favorites with you all! Oh and pardon the not-so-pretty photos, a self-timer can only be so successful…

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I need to preface this post by explaining that thrifting in New York City is nothing like your expected I-got-this-dress-for-$3 experience… While there are those sorts of thrift stores scattered throughout the city, many of the consignment stores sell clothing at prices many of us still can’t comfortably afford. These “high-end” thrift stores are pretty epic – vintage Chanel purses, barely worn Louboutins, pristine clothing by brands you’ve only seen in magazines, the list is endless. But beware of price shock…many pieces will set you back triple digits, even though they’ve been worn!

Burberry

I rarely go thrift shopping for this reason. The last and only time I purchased something from one of these stores was when I snagged a new (i.e. still with tags) sparkly dress for New Year’s Eve almost two years ago. So when I dropped into Second Time Around and came across a stunning Burberry dress at 70% off from the thirfted price of $299 (retail price shows at $800!), I almost purchased it but decided to wait for my mom’s arrival in order to first show it to her before purchasing it (no returns allowed).

Burberry

The first time I tried the dress on for my mom, we both couldn’t decide if it was a keeper. Again, I walked out of the store dress-less and filled with a sense of unease.

Burberry

We returned two days later, and this time I walked out with the dress in my possession. $90 is pricey, but for a stunning high-quality Burberry dress in near-pristine condition (there was a tiny tear under the armpit that is now perfectly mended), it was a steal in my opinion!

Burberry

I love love love the dress and can’t wait to wear it through fall! It’s definitely coming with me to India and Europe too. Cheers to successful thrifting!

♥ Irina