Switzerland: Fairytale

A little preface to this blog post: I do not plan these trips, nor can I take credit for the itinerary or leg work that goes into them. I am in charge of snacks and it’s a role I take quite seriously, but other than that….I’m a beneficiary of Drew’s research and planning.

I’m going to keep the bulk of this post related to the itinerary and travel details with a few comments and tips along the way…..the photos can do more describing than words afterall.

A few details— we pack a LOT into our trips. Drew and I slept in 8 beds in 16 days— we were not staying put very long, but that’s in an effort to see as much as we could! For some people this would probably be more exhausting than vacationing, but everyone is different! We were also splitting lodging with two other couples and that helps save money! We shopped at grocery stores for breakfast and lunches at every stop we made! Switzerland is an expensive country, so it’s important to save where you can!


Day 1: Flights: Greenville - Newark- Geneva

We arrived at 7:45 am, but it was the only day we had in Geneva, so we wanted to make the most of it! We hit most of these that day!

-St.Pierre Cathedral

-Reformation Wall

-cemetery des rois

-Calvin Auditory

-Reformation Museum

-Madeleine Church

 our typical grocery store lumches!

our typical grocery store lumches!

Day 2: (rental van)- Geneva- Chamonix, France- Zermatt


This was a travel day, so I knew I wanted to wake up and get a workout in. It ended up being a little more of a memory than I anticipated with an encounter that left me upset, but here’s the full workout written up in this IG post.

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I also have to include a funny story (and second workout from this day). When we arrived in Zermatt, we already knew that no cars were allowed in the city. You can taxi in small electric cars or walk. We had been sitting all day and are all fairly adventurous, so we decided to walk to our aribnb with all our luggage. Little did we know it was actually a 30 minute hike to our Chalet on the side of a mountain. We were all sweating and laughing and dying by the end and we joked how easy of a walk it was the rest of the time since we felt so light without our baggage.


Day 3: Zermatt

Zermatt is the place I find my mind wandering back to the fastest— it had all the charm, the amazing Matterhorn and it was absolutely the highlight of the trip for me and the place I feel like embodies Switzerland

 This was literally the front yard of the aibnb Chalet we rented!!!

This was literally the front yard of the aibnb Chalet we rented!!!

We took things a little easy in the morning and went for our daily trek to the local grocery store which was down in the town (about a 15 minute walk). We usually ate out one meal a day, so breakfast and lunch everyone bought what they wanted and it worked great! I know that lots of people get a little overwhelmed with travel and then trying to find healthy options in new places and it can be tough! I will say that the U.S. prioritizes snack foods (especially health-conscious options) much more so than I found in European grocery stores, but I always make sure to bring my own protein bars because the rest is easy to find elsewhere! I really enjoyed by stash of ONE Basix bars (there is actually a 20% off discount through this link!) for hikes and just snacking! There was so much chocolate being tasted and shared because we were in the Mecca of Swiss chocolate, but having a chocolate chip cookie dough bar made it that much easier to take a taste, but then be done knowing I had a great alternative!

20MOVESONE Saves you 20% on the bars!

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That afternoon, we did the “Five Lakes Hike” as a group. It was beautiful and not difficult or strenuous for anyone. We played a game the whole week that started on this hike-- one person chooses a category “favorite ______” and everyone answers. By the end of the hike it was pretty much anything that anyone wanted to know, but it was hilarious and we all learned some things to say the least.


Day 4: Zermatt

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Helicopter Tour- This was such a neat experience! We all said it was worth the money for the 20 minutes and it felt like plenty long to be up in the air. We got to fly all around the Matterhorn and surrounding peaks!
Later that day, we took the Gornergrat train to the top for amazing views of the Matterhorn and decided to hike down to the town. In retrospect, we probably wouldn’t recommend this just because it was the downward incline for so long was tough on everyone’s knees. There was just no relief or many flat portions at all, so it got rather old after 6-7 miles. I will say that the views were incredible for almost all of the hike (especially the first 3 miles).

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I will just insert that eating out 1-2 meals a day can get tough, and for the majority of the time we kept it to once a day, but it’s easy to feel like you are unable to make healthy choices while traveling and it’s just not the case. After this hike, we went to a restaurant and I got a grilled chicken sandwhich (protein + carbs), without cheese or condiments (I always recommend adding your own) and they let me substitute a side salad for the french fries. When I got back home, I had oatmeal with some peanutbutter and was plenty satisfied. It’s just being willing to take the time to adjust a few things, keep portions in mind and do the best with your current options. What more can you do?

 I’m telling you— the  ONE bars  were a life saver

I’m telling you— the ONE bars were a life saver

Day 5: Zermatt to Grindewald


Stopped at Oeschinen Lake, took a gondola up and then walked about 30 minutes to the amazing lake!

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Ended up taking a train that evening to Wengen for sunset and dinner. It’s an amazing view down into the valley of Lauterbrunnen and we had some delicious pasta at a restaurant in town appropriately called “Pasta and More.” One funny thing we noticed is that you kind of have to hunt down your waiter if you ever want to pay and leave. We tried lots of tactics throughout our trip, so if someone knows the proper way to wrap up a meal in Europe, let us know! We always felt like we were those “hasty Americans who never relax.”

Day 6: Grindewald


Our friends decided to travel to Bern for the day while Drew and I opted for the gondola ride up First and the 10 mile Schynigge Platte hike. Truly an amazing hike that I couldn’t recommend more! The first 2-3 miles are the toughest climb, but if you’re in good shape or are willing to take breaks, it’s stunning! I truly think this hike is in my top 4-5 and we have done quite a few epic hikes!

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Day 7: Grindewald to Mennagio, Italy


We stopped and toured the Aare gorge on the way and also made a pit stop at an epic bridge and jump off rocks in Lavertezzo

I’m going to save the Italy part for a second blog post, but hopefully this will get your mind turning for some travel plans-- Switzerland was truly a fairytale and I would recommend it to anyone!

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If you have specific questions, I’ll recruit my travel agent husband to help you out!









New Job-- The End of a Wonderful Chapter

Teaching the past four years was a blast-- there’s not much convincing you have to do when you’re a P.E. teacher, you see-- most kids having been squirming in their seats all day waiting for other classes to end and MY class to start. And I LOVE that. I love watching them master a skill that took them weeks to perfect. I love watching them fall on the floor dramatically after running half a mile convinced that their lungs were going to explode. I love knowing that they are building the foundations of lifetime activity while learning the intricacies of their bodies and how to care for them properly. I love knowing that sending them to the water fountain for a "quick drink" will solve 99% of their bumps, bruises and tears. Ok, I’m done….

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Traveling Tips: Balancing It All

Wrapping up over four weeks of being on the move and I'm so happy to be on my couch eating out of my own fridge! When I asked for your input on how this travel post could be most benefiial, there was quite a bit of feedback (thank you!) and I intend to be thorough, but also try to cultivate and reinforce the fact that vacations are FUN and should be a deviation from our normal routine by definition! 

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Blogging Turns One-- A Year of Lessons

If I could give you a glimpse into this year from the not-so-edited or curated side, I would tell you that it’s been extremely busy, but even more rewarding. If you told me some of the things I now know are possible through hard work, creativity, and a very talented husband-- I wouldn’t have believed you, so you might not believe me, but I’m going to tell you anyway. Actually, I’m going to let Amy Carmichael tell you in words I couldn’t agree with more than I do in this moment--

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My First Boston Marathon Experience (2018)

The Boston Marathon is a unique experience for anyone and to try to put the details that create the experience into words will always fall short of the real thing, but how can I not at least try?

  I kept telling myself, "You might only do this once, don't wish it away just because of the rain....." 

I kept telling myself, "You might only do this once, don't wish it away just because of the rain....." 

I'll start by saying that this was my first Boston Marathon and I was determined to soak it up without adding pressures of paces or expectations on my performance and I couldn't be more pleased with the result. That mindset started in my training (or lack thereof) because if you know m history at all, my love for running has been slightly infringed upon by circuit training and more strength-based workouts over the past year. As Boston approached and most people were diving into their 20 week training cycles, I was doing very little differently than I had been in regards to my workouts. I have personally seen the benefits of strength training and I also enjoy the diversity of them more than strictly running at this point, so I stuck with them while adding in 10 mile runs once a week that were primarily longer speed workouts....and that was about it. I ran 2-4 miles a few times a week as a warm-up before a normal workout, but really didn't get into higher mileage than that which is unorthodox to say the least. But I trust the circuit training that I do and I know the workouts are building muscle and paired with plyometrics and high intensity bouts of cardio I was creating both anaeriobc (muscular) and aerobic (cardiovascular) strength. I can honestly say that I did not run more than 10-11 miles as my longest run in training for Boston because it just wasn't my favorite way to exercise at the time and I'm a big proponent of enjoying the way you move and I did. Ok, so with that being said-- Boston was going to be tough, I knew that....it's tough whether you've trained or not. Every runner's training should include strength, I'm more convinced of it than ever in creating a stronger and faster runner, BUT if your PRIMARY performance-related goals are running-specific, I do recommend more long runs than I was doing, but again---that's determined by your goals and mine currently are less running related. 

 Packet Pick-Up was so smooth and the weather was absolutely perfect for running-- the irony!

Packet Pick-Up was so smooth and the weather was absolutely perfect for running-- the irony!

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As the race got closer and closer, people would ask me if I was getting ready and excited and I was, but it also kind of snuck up on me as I had been pretty busy creating workouts and content for Tighter Together, teaching school and traveling for Spring Break. I guess you could say that I had diversified a little bit prior to this point and no longer felt the tunnel vision of Boston that some runners have because their passions are so strictly running-related (and I absolutely respect that, it just wasn't this year for me). So yes, I was excited to visit a new city, excited that my parents and Drew's parents were coming, excited to experience the hype, excited that I would get to run in such a prestigious race, and excited to celebrate the fact that I had qualified to be there. There were some nerves that this might not go well and for one reason or another (marathon distance leaves a lot of room for variables) I wouldn't be able to finish, but I also consider myself a pretty determined individual and I knew it would take a lot before that happened.

Before I knew it, the weekend leading up to Boston had come and gone-- we had gone to a Red Sox game, walked parts of the city, gone to church, eaten delicious food, shopped for extra layers and tried to avoid listening to the weather reports that promised miserably cold, rainy and windy conditions for Monday. Before I knew it, I was going to bed the night before the Boston Marathon and really not knowing what the next day would hold, but at the same time, I had a feeling it would be memorable...just a hunch. The day feels like the three days in one-- the first is all pre-race and kind of a wet frenzied blur as a followed poncho-clad runners into lines, the lines into busses (where I met the nicest Charity runner Sean who made those 40 minutes fly by and I'm so thankful), from busses into a very muddy Athletes Village, and then somehow a porta potty and all the sudden we were getting into our corrals. I had been told that you would wait at Athletes Village for a while, and maybe it was all longer than I felt because I was overwhelmed with the mud and rain and trying to decide what to wear and what to throw away, but I never felt I had extra time.

The best description I can give to the .7 mile walk from Athletes Village to my start wave at 10:50 was that it seemed like we were all walking to some form of punsihment-- nobody really talked, instead, everyone kind of kept their heads down as the rain pelted our faces. It was almost a coming to terms with our new reality and how the next few hours were actually going to be. I will say that the excitement grew as we got to the start and as we actually started running--we were doing what we had come to do and as I got into that motion and people started lining the streets and cheering it become much more tolerable and even exciting--and it grew and grew from there. When a big gust of wind would come, a runner or two would cheer loudly as if to remind the others that we're tough and this is still Boston, so buck up! I wasn't running with ear phones in at this point so I caught all the cheers, the cow bells, the stereo systems set up under tarps along the route and enjoyed it all. I also haven't mentioned that my watch and phone hadn't fully finished upating from the night before and despite Drew's best attempt in a short amount of time, I had no way to track paces whatsoever. Normally this would throw me off, but if there was one day that I was truly going to try to run based on feel, it was this one. Drew had made me promise to 1) not go out too fast with excitement 2) drink at almost if not every aid station and I was determined to stick to the plan. I even drank so much in the first 7 miles that I stopped to use the bathroom (never done that during a race). Things were going fine, the miles were clicking by and I estimated I was running below a 9 minute mile but not by too much and with the elements what they were, I was happy with that.

I fumbled my phone out of my pocket underneath my poncho around mile 10 and Drew had texted me saying that my cheering squad (my parents who flew up for the day, Drew's parents who were with us the whole weekend and of course, Drew) would be at mile 13 on the right side of the road past a big American flag-- I was so excited, but I told myself not to speed up, but just enjoy Wellsley and keep my eyes peeled for them. I can't explain my excitement to see them and I don't think I have to because you can see below, but just to know that they were standing out there for the 30 seconds I would pass by just to hop in the car and get to another spot meant so much. I wanted to thank them with enthusiasm. It was heartwarming to see fellow runners connect with their loved ones along the course. There's such a support system behind these runners and many of them would never be toeing the line in Boston without many people in their corner. Drew informed me later that he takes credit for the next 3-4 miles because my pace increased to about 8 minute mile after seeing them-- it was the perfect boost!

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  This is for Drew-- who planned out all the stops, handled the drop offs and pick-ups, took care of the last minute shopping spree to buy clothes I would throw away after Athletes Village, puts up with my sensitive pre-race stomach, and never waivers in his confidence in what I'll accomplish, but would love me just the same if I didn't. He deserves someone so much more considerate than I am, but I truly couldn't love him more. 

This is for Drew-- who planned out all the stops, handled the drop offs and pick-ups, took care of the last minute shopping spree to buy clothes I would throw away after Athletes Village, puts up with my sensitive pre-race stomach, and never waivers in his confidence in what I'll accomplish, but would love me just the same if I didn't. He deserves someone so much more considerate than I am, but I truly couldn't love him more. 

Around mile 14 I decided I would try to break things up before the Newton Hills and the time I would see them next, so I put on a podcast...and I know that sounds like a snooze fest, but it was nice to hear something else for a change and was a welcomed distraction (my Spotify also wasn't synched on my new phone, so the technological issues persisted, but I really didn't care). I saw a few signs that notified me we were heading into Newton, so I mentally prepared myself for hills, and I'm sure there were some, but honestly it was nothing menacing or too difficult. Even at the end of "heartbreak hill" I remember thinking that it was really just a hill and nothing more. I felt strong and consistent through the whole race and I attribute that to strength training. In fact, when I saw my family for the second time, around mile 20 I really didn't know if I had gotten to them, passed them or was in the Newton Hills. I just knew that I was going to be fine and that this crazy day would end well despite the factors that could have caused many different outcomes. 

Des Lidden (winner of the Boston Marathon) said it best, "the marathon doesn't start until Mile 20," and it's true. There's a world of difference between a 20 mile run and a 26.2 mile run and I can't explain it, but if you've done one then you know. You just have to find a way to keep going even though those last six can seem longer than all the previous. For me, it was miles 21-23-- they seemed unending, but by 24 it was just getting so close I could hear the crowds getting thicker and louder. Then the things you've heard about start HAPPENING. You SEE the Citgo sign and it's the prettiest thing to you in that moment and when the rain really picked up in those last two miles, it seemed to add to the drama of it all. Then before you know it you are MAKING THE TURN that everyone talks about.....but this time I was actually turning and I picked up speed, right and then left and the a straightaway to the finish and i just ran what felt like a freeing sprint (really only about 7'30 pace, but you know how that's different given your legs condition) all the way to the end passing people and it seemed like everyone was cheering for me....and then it was over. I smiled so big and had a twinge of sadness that it actually had to end, but it was all I could have hoped for and more. As I walked towards the capes the volunteers give you to keep warm, I realized how cold I actually was-- I couldn't really lift my arms up to find the arm hole and clumsily tried without success, but the elderly man volunteering just smiled and helped me until it was on, then turned me around and velcroed the top and didn't let me leave until I was situated. I just looked at him and for the first time the emotions of the day and all the people who stood out there for hours in the cold and rain for US with outstretched amrs, encouraging words, water and aid culminated in that man and holding back tears I just said "thank you, thank you so much." 

The rest is a very cold blur until I found my family and then a very cold eurphoria set in until we made it back to the Airbnb for a hot shower, Italian food at Bricco, chocolate cake at Mike's Pastries and a very warm bed. I knew waking up on Monday morning that I would go to bed the same place I had woken up, and at that point I didn't know how the day would go, but I hoped there would be at least 26.2 miles in between and there were that many and each one filled with memories of a lifetime. God knit the love for movement deep inside my heart, and I consider the Boston Marathon another gift from Him.

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 My in-laws truly made the weekend such a relaxing and fun time! Blessed to have parents on both sides that love their kids so much. 

My in-laws truly made the weekend such a relaxing and fun time! Blessed to have parents on both sides that love their kids so much. 

 My Dad and Mom woke up at 4 am,  hopped on a plane and made it to my race, treated us to delicious Italian food and then flew back in the same day. They never stopped smiling the whole time and it meant more than I thought for them to be there :) (I kept saying it wasn't a big deal and don't fly up, but I wouldn't trade it for anything)

My Dad and Mom woke up at 4 am,  hopped on a plane and made it to my race, treated us to delicious Italian food and then flew back in the same day. They never stopped smiling the whole time and it meant more than I thought for them to be there :) (I kept saying it wasn't a big deal and don't fly up, but I wouldn't trade it for anything)

 I can't, or I'll cry.......He knows how I feel about him. 

I can't, or I'll cry.......He knows how I feel about him. 

Watch Giveaway and Winning the Weekend

First of all, there is an amazing giveaway opportunity for someone to win a beautiful, wooden Jord watch in today’s post! I am wearing the Ebony & Sable watch from the Cassia collection. It was fun to swap my Apple watch for something a little fancier for the weekend! (I also have world’s puniest wrists and Drew loves to make fun of them and say he could snap them like twigs….thankfully he hasn’t tested the theory)

Some topics are disputable, but I think we can all agree that weekends are welcomed by everyone and never seem to stay long enough. This particular weekend is was extra special because Drew and I celebrated Valentine’s by staying at a downtown hotel and just spending uninterrupted time together (and if you’ve read this post, you know that’s my love language). I know you aren’t here for all those details, so let’s talk about some practical takeaways that might help you balance all the memories and life-giving experiences that the weekends bring without sacrificing your health and fitness goals.

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Loving Yourself Without Being In Love with Yourself

The “Self-Love” topic is one I never thought about until I got more involved with social media. I was not raised hearing my parents tell me to “love yourself, Madeline, because if you don’t....you can’t expect anyone else to.” They told me every day that they loved me. My parents showed me (and continue to) that I was loved with their provisions, their time, their correction, and everything else that I took for granted as they selflessly invested in my siblings and me. But honestly, nobody had to teach me about loving or prioritizing myself, that comes as naturally as my desire to eat (no problem there).

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Marriage: You asked, We answered....

With that being said, when I asked for topics that would be of interest and value to you, one of the most prevalent was marriage/relationships. To be fair, I don’t think anyone qualifies to be an expert in this area and if they tell you they are, I’d steer clear. Relationships are so tender, so deep, so uniquely multifaceted that it takes constant sharpening, repairing, sacrificing to allow them to flourish. So yeah, anyone who tells you that they are “easy” or should be is probably missing out on the deeper levels that are completely worth the work.

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ULTIMATE STOCKING STUFFER GUIDE

Christmas is around the corner and this post is going to make those last minute gifts for your fit friends (or yourself) a lot less stressful! Thank goodness for Amazon Prime because Drew and I are getting a little dangerous in our last-minute shopping. I always promise myself I won’t do this and then without fail, I always end up waiting until the last minute to buy gifts!

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The Wind Under My Wings--GIft Ideas

There is a special dynamic between every couple-- unique memories, special places, inside jokes and stories of crossed paths. It’s a futile attempt to compare relationships because each one is so incredibly personal and fulfilling to the counterpart that an outsider’s validation should mean nothing. Social media has a trend of glamorizing everything and relationships are no exception. In all honesty, I think we all know that our apologies, failed plans, and vulnerable moments play a role in knitting our hearts together as much as the “mountain tops” and skipped heart beats.

I could go easily write about all the ways Drew proves to me through his actions (more than his words) that he is out of my league and could probably convince you rather quickly, but I won’t embarrass him. Instead, I’m going to encourage you to be intentional and extra thoughtful about prioritizing others with your time throughout the holidays and share some gift ideas that may give you some ideas on ways to make the guy in your life feel like the stud he is…...to you ;)

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