Run Commuting – First Time Learnings

For the first time ever, I ran to work.

Or at least… I ran to the gym next to work.

Okay, fine, I attempted to run to the gym next to work, but only got in 5km out of 7.5km because I got too tired for my liking and my overall pace was about 1 min/km slower than what it usually is.

I have to emphasize that it was my OVERALL pace. That means I was running a hell of a lot slower at some points and at my usual pace at other times.

I also ran with this daypack:

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The Gregory Maya 10 has a nice big pocket for a hydration pack right on the back with a small latch on the shoulder straps to secure the hose and valve pretty easily. So, instead of carrying around a water bottle, I just filled my hydration bladder to about 1L and slid it right in!

That was probably the best idea I had about run commuting since I freed up my hands and could focus more about form.

The worst idea I had about run commuting is bringing 1L of water! That’s 1kg of extra weight on your back, not including clothes, make-up, flats and essentials!

This is what else I learned:

  • Running along the subway route provides a great alternative to finish the commute to work if you’re gassed out (like I was)
  • A gym nearby with a place to stretch, has towel service and showers literally saves a lot of weight off your back
  • Consider leaving a pair of nicer looking shoes at work so you don’t have to bring a pair ALL THE TIME
  • Travel sized toiletries and makeup are the best thing ever
  • A 10L daypack is not big enough to carry more than clothes and shoes
  • I find it a lot easier to run to work than from work
  • There’s a ton of people who workout before starting the work day! Holy crap!
  • Changing too many things about a workout routine at once results in really, really low energy even if you eat enough
  • Freeing up the evening while getting a workout for the day is so liberating

This was on Wednesday. I also attempted a double workout yesterday with a run commute and climbing after work, which I’ll report on next, and I’m feeling pretty okay today! I think this will definitely be incorporated into my HM training from now on.

Of course, this means that I’ll probably have more ~*amazing*~ gems of advice from my run commutes.

xoxo,

B.elle

Training for Half Marathon

I may be biting off more than I can chew, but I think I’m going to be using Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training Schedule: Intermediate 1.

I used Hal Higdon’s plan for the Nike race back in 2015 and it worked well for me since it’s very accommodating to non-competitive runners like me, and it leaves some room for rock climbing.

Of course, I haven’t exactly run high mileages for a long time, so this could be a plan doomed to fail!

The biggest concern I have now is that I have a lot more things on the go, compared to my life pre-accident. Work sometimes has me working in the evenings or part of the weekends, and I’m making more of an effort to see friends and family, who are more often available during the evenings.

Idea: Start run commuting! It’s about 7.4km from my house to my office, so I could use up half my weekly runs by running to the office and taking a shower at the nearby gym.

Of course, this means that I would have to switch memberships to take advantage of those showers, so this means I’ll have to make sure that I’m not going to be paying extraordinary fees…

We’ll see what happens!

xoxo,

B.elle

Registered Races

In my last post, I mentioned that I’m not very motivated to train properly when I don’t have a solid race in mind.

So, with that in mind, I signed up for a couple fall races with the Canadian Running Series!

Race Confirmation

Oasis Zoo Run Toronto 2017

I typically run the Oasis Zoo Run and really enjoy it even though it’s got a bunch of hills, but I didn’t go last year because I had to go to Baltimore for work at the same time.

This time, I’m running the 10K and I’m excited to go back to beat my race time of 01:05 (ish).

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront (Half) Marathon 2017

I was training for a half marathon before I got into the car accident, so I know I was physically capable of getting up to long runs of 19K. Theoretically, I can do it again, and I really hope I’ll be able to do it according to my corral time – 02:15!

But, I’m thinking that I need to get myself out running more often, which I’m hoping won’t get in the way of my rock climbing training. I’ve run to the rock climbing gym before (about 5.5km) with a Gregory backpack, but then I’m limited to just bouldering since I don’t have the space to pack my harness and GriGri.

Any suggestions on how to balance running and rock climbing? There’s only so many hours in a day!

xoxo,

B.elle

Like a Phoenix!

It’s aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!

Okay, so I really fell out of love with blogging because of a new job, recovering from that concussion, learning more about climbing and just life in general.

However! I realized this year that I need a race to get me motivated to actually stick to a running schedule… Also, the whole online-peer pressure that comes with blogging about something really helps keep me on track.

So, let’s dust off this blog and have some fun this summer!

xoxo,

B.elle

MEC Toronto Race FOUR – Race Report (5K)

Since the accident, I’ve only gone running three times and they were all between 2km and 3km distances. I didn’t want to rush into anything, but I’ll admit that the lack of running was driving me absolutely nutty until I laced up again!

Luckily, the short runs went as well as they could (hey, it was about 12°C outside when I last ran, not 25°C!).

I realized on Thursday through Instagram that MEC Toronto’s Race FOUR was happening this weekend and decided that this would be the best opportunity to really gauge my recovery progress.

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Event: MEC Toronto Race FOUR – 5K
Date: June 19, 2016
Time: 9:20am
Fees: $15CAD online, $25CAD at the race
Personal Goal: Finish the race without injury

The race also offered 10K and Half Marathon distances and took place at the Tommy Thompson area. The Annual Runner’s Expo also took place with many brand partners like Brooks Canada, Hoka One One, Nuun, Spider Tech, Vita Coco and more!

Training

Like I mentioned, this race would be the first time attempting 5km after the accident.

I ran a few times at 2km and 3km within the last couple weeks just to gauge how I was feeling and just decided to give it a shot!

Race Day Prep

The weather forecast called for clear skies and highs of 30C, so it was going to be mighty hot and bright at 9am!

Breakfast was pretty simple: 2 slices of toast with peanut butter and Nutella, and a cup of coffee. It’s only a 5K, but I knew I’d hang around for a while after the race to check out the vendors, too.

I prepped my hand-held water bottle, white hat, light singlet and loose shorts in preparation of the race. The worst situation in my mind would be overheating during and after the race.

The TTC doesn’t operate very frequently down to Tommy Thompson on Sunday mornings so I drove down there and I was pleasantly surprised to see it fairly packed at 8:30am! I ended up parking in a plaza about a 5 minute walk away, but I always like seeing high participation rates even if it ends up being super crowded.

I actually jogged half the way to the registration tent to kind of test how my legs were feeling. Good thing I did because my hamstrings were screaming for some intense stretching!

Once I registered, I did some intense lunges and had some Spider Tech k-tape put onto my shoulders to help prevent further whiplash aggravation.

Unlike the other races I’ve been to, there’s absolutely no chance of rain! Woo hoo!

Start line – Nice hot day, light breeze, and the crowd was pretty chill for a race.

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Good general rules for most races, as well as conservation areas

I noticed a few runners all decked in in hydration gear for the 5K, which is normally a bit silly, but I was also carrying my own little water bottle because it was so damn hot!

I also noticed a few younger runners in high-collared tshirts and longer tights who also looked a bit nervous. Uhh… I hope they’ll be okay if this is their first outdoor run. Good thing there’s marshalls all over the place!

There was also a pair of ladies in hiking shorts and sling bags. I vaguely wondered if they knew this was the MEC race, not the run/walk race for cancer that was happening the same day…

1km – The running cap helps keep the sunlight off. Very happy for the cap. Should consider getting some sunglasses but I’d need prescription ones and that’s just not happening right now…

This trail is looking pretty nice! I should come down here more often… Dave would like this area.

OH, LOOK A BIRD!

[Random running thoughts continue.]

2km – The sun’s starting to feel really hot now. At this point, I’ve really found my groove and I’m using driving rules to move ahead of the slower runners on their left.

I also noticed that there seems to be a slight issue with my left plantar fascia is starting to get a little irritated. Maybe a slight change of pace and form would do the trick…

2.5km – Hydration station and turnaround point.

I didn’t feel like I should be changing my pace and form just yet because of my foot, which was feeling much better, so I chose not to grab a cup from the volunteer and took a swig from my water bottle as I swung around the turnaround pylon.

2.75km – Oh, there’s one of those runners in high-collared tshirts. Poor thing looks absolutely miserable…

Better chug a bit more water to make it through safely.

4km – At this point, I’m wondering if it’s wise for me to be drinking so much warm water instead of cool since I’m fairly sure all the water I’m drinking seems to be dripping down my face.

A quick glance to the watch also tells me that I’m running faster than I set myself to do. Slowing it down would be a good idea, huh?

4.9km – There’s an older gentleman just ahead of me. I can beat him to the finish line.

Is he speeding up…? Oh, NO, he so did NOT just speed up! HOW DARE YOU.

KICKING IT NOW.

5K FINISH – I made it across at full sprint! I haven’t done that in a long, long time and it feels AMAZING.

I check my watch and it says 32:42. Not too shabby, all things considered!

Post-Race

MEC doesn’t hand out participation medals, so I just went straight back into the vendor’s area to check out the sponsors and what they were offering.

I don’t think they were allowed to sell anything (any money exchange here would’ve been a nightmare), but they gave out plenty of samples!

The folks at Eload Sports Drink has a pretty good electrolyte formula for better hydration after a hard run. Even though I drank all of my own water, the Eload drink really helped me recover a lot faster.

Although, I will say that it was the first recovery drink that I had right after the race, so I can’t tell if it’s superior to Nuun or coconut water!

I’ll also be looking out for Endurance Tap, which is an all natural energy “gel” that’s mostly maple syrup! They’re selling it online for about $3.25 per shot, so it’s not a terrible price for a start-up product.

Here’s my official results:

 

Overall 5K placement: 187

Chip time: 32:22.1

As usual, MEC did a great job organizing and marshalling the race!

I love MEC races because they’re much smaller than ones organized by Canada Running Series and, even though they don’t have as much swag or tech like finisher’s medals and multiple timing mats, they’re extremely professional and organized at all fronts.

Until next time!

B.elle

Updates and a Concussion

It’s been a looong time since I’ve posted and I’m really, truly sorry about that! It just occurred to me that it’s already June and I hadn’t posted since… January.

What’s gotten me so busy? Is it work? Is it training? Did I get abducted and go off on a crazy, Taken-like adventure?

Mostly the first two, not so much the third.

Work

I work at a start-up beverage company and things have changed a LOT in the last 6 months, so I’ve had to start reevaluating what I’m doing and I’m still currently trying to find the right action to take. There’s been a lot of background conflicts that don’t personally involve me, but it’s definitely changed the way the company functions so it’s put me in a position where I need to stand back and consider my overall career path.

I can’t really give more details, but it’s a bit of a struggle!

Training – Running

I still run and rock climb! At least, I’m still into running and rock climbing…

I had signed up for the Toronto Women’s Half Marathon that took place on May 29th. I haven’t been really training as hard as I did for the Nike 15K last year since I knew I already have a pretty solid running base to finish a half marathon. It wouldn’t be a great finish time, but I would rather finish safely than go fast and injure myself.

Since I already convinced myself of that, I wasn’t really that motivated to really push! But, I did manage to run 19km a couple weekends before the race. Yay!

But, I got a mild concussion 2 weeks before the race, so I decided not to run the race to prevent further injury.

Training – Rock Climbing

I hadn’t signed up for any competitions (I’m so not ready to compete by any defintion), but I was climbing about once a week either top-roping with friends or bouldering on my own.

I can’t really remember which grading level I left off at, but I think I had completed a couple of 5.10b routes for top-rope and I believe I had finished a few V2s in bouldering.

Luckily, my physiotherapist just gave me the green light to resume rock climbing again, but she advised that I shouldn’t go beyond 5.8 to make sure my shoulder and neck won’t be damaged.

Concussion? Physiotherapist? What happened?!

I got into a car accident on May 15th! Here’s what happened to my poor car:

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RIP Lola the Corolla

Basically, I was rear-ended by a car which was smashed into by another car being driven by a VERY drunk driver. Since my car was fairly old, the poor thing was a total write-off by the insurance companies.

It was actually caught on a dash-camera by a lovely couple who stayed behind to help out, which you can see here. (WARNING: May be disturbing for some viewers.)

A few local news outlets reported the incident and a bunch of my friends were quick to show me the video.

As mentioned in the news, the drunk driver had left the scene on foot but what they didn’t mention was that he had tried to discard valuable documents and attempted to start his car shortly after the collision.

Insane? VERY. The accident happened at around 5:50pm on a Sunday and the guy blew over 80! Who does that?!

Anyway, I could go on and on about what happened that day, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Mom was in the passenger seat and she saw the paramedics about head and neck aches, so she got examined, but I was feeling pain-free and so I opted not to be examined. I was completely aware that I’d most likely feel some symptoms in the next few days, but I could recount many details to the officers, so I didn’t think too much about it.

I stayed home the day afterwards to monitor my mom and, at exactly 11:41am, my vision blurred and my focus and concentrate disappeared instantly.

I went to the doctor’s and they sent me away without a CT scan, but they told me that I probably suffered a very mild concussion.

The next few days were incredibly surreal and frustrating for me because I was told to rest without looking at a screen or reading, which means no tv, no video games, no books, no comic books and definitely no running or climbing.

I almost went insane! I’m so used to always being in motion and recovering from a concussion really made me take a step back and chill. (As best as I could while complaining to all of my friends, at least.)

Luckily, it’s been exactly a month since the accident and I’m doing much better. In fact, I’ve already resumed a very cautious comeback into running and I’m aiming to climb again on Sunday.

This month also seems to be a month of massive change, so hopefully I’ll be posting again soon with good news!

Yours always,

B.elle

NikeWomen Victory Tour 2016

On January 19, Nike announced the 20 international locations for their NikeWomen Victory Tour in 2016.

Athens, Greece
Atlanta, USA
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Beijing, China
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Guangzhou, China
Hong Kong, China
Istanbul, Turkey
Jakarta, Indonesia
Los Angeles, USA
London, England
Manila, Philippines
Mexico City, Mexico
Nagoya, Japan
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Seoul, South Korea
Shanghai, China
Sydney, Australia
Taipei, Taiwan
Tokyo, Japan

NikeWomen Victory Tour2

It was announced in December that the Nike tour would not be returning to San Francisco, which was a host city for over a decade for the Nike tour.

Although Toronto saw 10,000 runners at the Nike Women’s 15K Run last year in June, it’s also absent from the list.

Without any local tour stops, Canadian women interested in participating in an infamous Nike Race will have to plan a destination race with the closest races in Los Angeles and Atlanta in the USA.

Tour dates and registration will be announced on January 29.

xoxo,

B.elle

2016 Fitness Goals – Part 2

2015 was a great starting year for my fitness and heath so I’m really looking forward to seeing how 2016 goes!

I’m already anticipating a few new topics now that I’ve sort of gotten past the initial beginner stage:

  • Injuries and rehab
  • Injury prevention
  • Learning new, more advanced/refined techniques
  • Mental health and preparedness
  • Healthy eating (yay, food!)

It’s pretty important to know what sort of injuries can happen in any sport or activity that you go into, especially when it’s endurance sports like long-distance running and rock climbing.

It’s pretty obvious that rock climbing and parkour can lead to some really serious injuries, but there’s less extreme but way more common injuries in all three sports like strained tendons, plantar fasciitis,  shin splints, tendonitis, micro-tears, sprains, etc.

These common injuries definitely won’t land me (and you) in the hospital right away, but it could very likely lead to more permanent health issues in the future.

In general, it’s better to know what’s the most likely injury to come from any particular activity and learn which techniques are needed to prevent or minimize the risk of injury. For example, there’s a bunch of stretching techniques that can prevent shin splints, like the ones outlined here in Runner’s World.

Since I’m going to be ramping up my mileage quite a bit, I’ll be studying a lot of injury prevention techniques and putting away some money for some physio and massage therapy!

Compared to rock climbing and parkour, running doesn’t have as many performance techniques to learn since it’s highly dependent on the runner’s individual gait and physiology.

But, I’d like to learn how to do more strength techniques for rock climbing since I’m shorter than the average rock climber and I need more power to go further up. I don’t think I’m not bad a traverses, though.

I’m also a woman, which apparently puts me at a disadvantage due to the way routes are set. (Seriously. I’ll discuss this in a later blog post.)

As the distances get longer, it’s harder to get out the door to go for a run!

So far, I’ve only had bad issues going out to run in super hot and humid weather, which is something Toronto is prone to getting in the dead of summer. It’s such a huge challenge to get out there because I really have to persuade myself that the dread is all in my mind. I don’t mind winter training too much because I have a track membership at a stadium that’s quite friendly!

I want to be more aware of how my mental state affects my physical activity, especially during climbing since it demands a good amount of problem solving skills.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to share more of my thoughts about food, nutrition and fitness with everyone!

These may be my most challenging posts since I’m very invested in the healthy food sector and I’m very passionate about presenting the most accurate, evidence-based science I can, especially since there’s so much pseudo-science in popular media.

I’m considering making a separate blog to post about food and nutrition issues and simply copying them to this blog soon after. If I do, I’ll make sure to post the name and link!

If you’ve noticed, I haven’t put any solid numbers into this part of my 2016 Fitness Goals.

I don’t want to HAVE to learn a new technique every week because I’d much rather focus on my progress than having to force a new technique so often. Besides, it’s better to learn a couple of techniques and master them (somewhat) before learning more, right?

Also, these aren’t resolutions just for the first half of 2016. I want to make this something that I’ll do for the whole year, next year and beyond!

Hope I’ll be able to look back on this and see that I’ve hit all of my goals!

Did you make any resolutions? How are they coming along?

xoxo,

B.elle

2016 Fitness Goals – Part 1

Happy New Year, everyone!

(I know, I’m more than a week late, but… shush.)

I know it’s been a while since December 22, which is the official start of winter, but I wanted to think about what sort of goals to aim for as my Winter Fitness Goals.

I quickly realized that I have a lot of fitness goals and related topics that I want to talk about upfront. So, I decided to extend my deadline to Summer and split my 2016 Fitness Goals post into two.

Running

We finally got some snow in this region of Canada, but Toronto’s still been so mild that it hasn’t really stuck around much. This means I can run both indoors and outdoors, yay!

I initially wanted to train for a half-marathon (HM) distance or race, but then I realized that it’s only 10 weeks until March 20, which is the first day of spring! I’ve started using Hal Higdon’s Half Marthon Novice 1 Training Program, which is 12 weeks long.

This was the main reason for extending my fitness goals to the first day of summer because I’d rather not risk a shorter training period just to end up seriously injuring myself.

… Okay, FINE. I also made a fitness wager with Chris over at The Other Side of The Box!

If I’m running at 32km/20mi distances as my long run by May 15th, she’ll get me a $50 gift card to a yet-to-be-decided store.

If she manages to lose at least 10lbs by May 15th with regular fitness training, I’ll get her a $50 gift card.

If we both manage to achieve our goals by May 15th, we’ll get each other something nice.

If we both don’t achieve our goals by May 15th, the first person to reach their goals will get their prize.

Basically, my running goal is to get up to 32km/20mi without dying.

It’s gonna be a huge challenge for me both physically and mentally because I’m going to have to overcome my anxiety of going back up to 15km.

I hurt my foot pretty badly last year at the Nike Women’s 15K Toronto. I haven’t gotten back up to that mileage yet so I’m kind of worried that it’s an issue with my feet’s physiology rather than environmental factors. The only way for me to find out for certain is to build it back up and hopefully go even further!

Rock Climbing

I’ll be on the search for a new belay buddy for a little while since the Monsieur has started his graduation proceedings and needs to focus on his PhD thesis. (Go, babe!)

Either way, here’s my goals…

Rock Climbing (at least 1X a week)

Top Rope: I want to be able to do 5.10a grades comfortably. At this point, I should be okay going halfway up 5.10b as well.

This might seem very conservative for a 6-month goal, but there’s a huge difficulty jump from 5.9 to 5.10b!

Bouldering: V1s should be comfortable and some V2s are challenging but doable.

To achieve both goals, I’ll need to learn new techniques and start doing more formal weighted and/or bodyweight exercises to build up core strength.

We’ll see if I need any new shoes by the end of this!

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My current rock climbing shoes

Parkour

I’m on the fence with this sport, to be honest. On one hand, I love flying around and the absolute boldness of parkour.

On the other hand, getting to the gym is such a pain!

At this point, because I’m such a data nerd, parkour has turned into a casual hobby sport rather than a main fitness focus.

So, my goal for parkour is to ho at least once a month!

Keep an eye out for the second part of my 2016 Fitness Goals!

Xoxo,

B.elle

Weekly Fitness Update #13 – Results!

It’s been a bit quiet over in this little corner of the blogging world because I went away to Québec City for about 2 weeks with the Monsieur! Even though I speak very, very little French, they were so friendly and hospitable, but I definitely ended up indulging in more than a few delicious Québecois delicacies. (Tarte au sucre, anyone?)

But, I managed to get some running in before and once during my vacation!

Dec 15 – 5km @ 5’42” avg pace, 28:39*
Dec 22 – 7km @6’19” avg pace, 44:28*
Dec 28 – 5km @6’08” avg pace, 31:13

The stars mean than I was running indoors and I’m still not 100% sure how accurate the Nike+ watch is indoors, so it could be a little faster than I’m actually running.

On December 28, I ran through the countryside in -15C weather and it was a bit hillier than I expected! I was surprised at how much I loved it!

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Running in the Quèbecois farmland in winter

BUT! Did I actually achieve my running goals for Fall 2015 even though it’s already Winter 2016 while I’m writing this?!

Fall 2015 Running Goals (3X a week)

  • Weekly mileage of 20-25km with a 5-7-10 pattern
  • Dream pace goal of 6’00″/km for 5K distance
    1. Realistic pace goal of 6’15″/km for 5K distance
  • Dream pace goal of 6’20″/km for 7-10K distances

Fall 2015 Running Results (mostly 3X a week)

  • I tried my best to stick to the 5-7-10 pattern, but quickly learned that the general weekly run distances were more effective than forcing myself to do 5-7-10 throughout the week.I dropped down to about 10-12km per week in December, which was really not good but I did a pretty terrible job at balancing all my hobbies with the holidays!Otherwise, I think I came up just a bit short on consistently reaching that 20-25kpw goal.
  • I’ve been running at less than 6’00″/km on 5K runs for about 3 weeks now, so I’ll say that’s in the bag!
    SUCCESS!
  • I run as many 7K routes, but it seems to be at around 6’05″/km to 6’10″/km so I’m really happy about this speed!
    SUCCESS!
  • I don’t have enough data on 10K runs because I really haven’t run 10K since the adidas race, where I cinched a PR at 6’16″/km, so I would highly doubt that I can do 6’20” for 10K comfortably.
    FAIL!

Rock Climbing – Dec 20th

We were both feeling sick! My belay buddy lost her voice and I was beginning to feel the beginnings of a cold so I knew our game wouldn’t be as strong as normal.

Top Rope – Not gonna lie… I did really badly. The 5.9s that were relatively easy felt almost impossible that day and I even struggled on a couple of new 5.8s!

But, we both knew that we’d be doing pretty terribly!

Bouldering – I tried out a couple of V0s that were okay but the V1s were pretty much a giant NOPE.

Dec 26th

Bouldering – The Monsieur and I went to a smaller rock climbing gym in Lévis and I was surprised to see that this particular gym had a different grading system. Instead of the traditional V-scale, they simply used ascending numbers to gauge the difficulty of the route.

For example, 7 would be easier than 12, but harder than a 4. I even saw one that was graded with 18 and even the Monsieur didn’t go near that one!

I managed to get up to about 9 on a traverse route, but I couldn’t really go past half of a 12 traverse. It was super fun, though!

So, did I manage to achieve my Fall 2015 Rock Climbing Goals?

Rock Climbing (1X every other week)

  • Work on 5.8 and 5.9 belay routes
  • Work on V.1 bouldering routes
  • Increase grip strength and more confident footwork

Rock Climbing Results (1X every week)

  • I’m comfortable with tackling most 5.9s, so I’d say that this is…
    SUCCESS!
  • I did work on the V1 bouldering routes and I still can’t usually complete a route… But, I didn’t say I’d try to complete one so…
    HALF SUCCESS!
  • Since I saved myself in parkour several times recently, I’d say that…
    SUCCESS!

I’m pretty sure I did horribly for my Fall 2015 Parkour Goals.

Parkour (1X every other week)

  • Work on climb-ups with vertical wall (at least 1 good climb-up per session)
  • Regain balance on rails

Parkour (Very rarely)

  • Didn’t even try climb-ups yet.
    FAIL!
  • At least my foot is completely healed and I’m able to balance and walk along a rail like normal again!
    SUCCESS!

I’ll be making a post of my Winter 2016 Fitness Goals soon, so keep an eye out for it!

xoxo,

B.elle