I’m a Marathoner!!! NYC 2016

I’m a Marathoner!! Honestly, I thought I would never say those words in my life. I didn’t call myself a runner until 2014 when I got accepted to be in the Nike Women’s Half in San Francisco! It wasn’t until then when I knew I had become a “runner.”

Fast forward to 2015, getting ready for my 2nd half marathon in SF – I was sooooo ready. But at mile 7, I was struggling & my mind just kept telling me “you will never do a marathon – this is miserable and you’re only at mile 7!” When I crossed that finish line, I was sooo happy that it was over and that I will NEVER EVER run a marathon.

In January 2016 – applications for the NYC Marathon raffle opened up. I’ve signed up for the NYC Marathon before through the raffle but I have never been picked.  I remember signing up this time and not even thinking about it – I paid the $10 to donate to NYRR and then I submitted my name and didn’t think anything about it.  Then on March 8, 2016 – I got the email saying “CONGRATULATIONS!! You have been accepted into the TCSNYC Marathon 2016!!” omg omg omg. I remember this date so clearly because it was the same date I got laid off on my job. It was a horrible HORRIBLE day. I had been let go of my job that morning & me being so emotional – I was crying and I was so down on myself that day, it was just the worst day ever. I remember going grocery shopping (cuz life goes on) and I got the email at Smith’s and I was just in shock. But it also made my horrible day turn into a not-so-horrible day. I was going to run the New York City Marathon and this has been something on my bucket list since sophomore year of high school! Even though, I had told myself I would never run a marathon – I could not NOT do this!! (Also, they charge your credit card immediately once you get picked – so bye bye $200 – either way I might as well make the most of it)

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I knew I had to start training ASAP. I created a training program through the Nike Running App and it had me start my training on Monday, May 9th – which is about a 5 month training program. Luckily, by that time – Steven and I had moved to Carlsbad, California and I had the best running route – along the ocean!

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I trained super well the month of May & June – I was consistent and my miles were going up every week! I also ran the Lake Tahoe Half marathon with my amazing friend Brittany in between training so that helped a ton.

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Then July came… Steven & I traveled to Paris, Amsterdam and England that whole month! and I did not run at all. Then August… Steven started his new job in Los Angeles and we had a temporary place in Studio City, CA and my training was alright.  I ran a ton in August up and down Ventura Blvd.  At the end of September, we were moving into our new apartment in Playa Vista.  Luckily, we have our own little gym here so I could run on the treadmill, but I’m not a big fan of training on a treadmill so I avoided it when I could.  In October, I ran my longest run – 16 miles in Santa Monica along the oceanfront. I was so shocked that I could do 16 miles after my sporadic training. I ran 6 miles and then walked 2 minutes then ran another 2 miles and kept doing that until I hit 16 miles. I felt good when I did that.  Definitely sore by the end of it, but now I knew how I was going to pace myself come race day.

I should’ve ran 2o miles for my last long run training because everyone always says “if you can run 20, you can run 26!” I obviously did not listen and ran my 16 miles. During my last weeks of training – I barely ran at all which was dumb of me.  The week of the race – I ran probably 8 miles total.

RACE WEEKEND

We left for New York Friday, November 4th and arrived around 10:45PM! We ubered to our cute Airbnb (Thanks Tom & Sharon!) and felt right at home. We were so tired so we went to bed early and my brother Mark and his wife Imee and their baby Mila drove from Virginia Beach to hang out with us in NYC for the weekend! They arrived around 6am the next day and we slept in until about 9AM.  I was too excited to get out and explore / pick up my bib and race #!!!!  We went straight to the race convention center and the expo was packed full of different vendors and Asics selling a ton of NYC Marathon gear – it was packed! We picked up my race # and headed to the Highline! I was excited to take Steven to one of my favorite spots in NYC and show him where I used to hang out with all of my friends when I interned there back in 2014.

We walked on the Highline and then went to Chelsea Market – but unfortunately got out of there quick because it was again, SO PACKED! We headed to Ramen-ya (best Ramen in NYC) and then to Central Park! We saw the finish line (eeeek!) and all of the flags of the participating countries all lined up.  I got to take everyone to Sheep Meadows (my favorite spot to have a picnic) and we relaxed until we figured out our next plans to meet up with my Dad, stepmom and baby brother George!! They flew from Florida to see me run!

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We met up with my dad and his family in Flushing (the REAL Chinatown!!) at a Chinese Restaurant.  Note to self: chinese food before a race is not the best idea. do not do it. We ate soooo much food. It was so good to see my dad and his family! My baby brother George is almost 4 years old! and he can speak fluent Chinese!!! He knows English but they speak more Chinese to him than English.  We headed back to our Airbnb because baby Mila was getting tired.  She was such a good baby on the entire trip!

RACE DAY

My transportation time was scheduled at 7:30am – Staten Island Ferry.  But my start time was at 10:40AM – I was super confused! But I woke up around 6:15AM and got ready for the race.  I slept pretty well but actually woke up around 5am and then couldn’t go back to sleep. My brother and Steven drove me to the ferry place and I made it just in time to get on the 7:30AM ferry.  It was packed with runners!! I scoured the place to see if I could make a quick friend.  I sat by this girl who came all the way from Australia! It wasn’t her first marathon ever but first time running NYC.  She gave me some advice on the marathon and she basically said to “just have fun.”

I got off the ferry and we were in long lines for security checking that we had our bib on and that no spectators go any farther.  I was walking by this girl who looked alone so I introduced myself and I immediately made a new friend – Renata, from San Paulo, Brazil! We rode the bus together all the way to the Runner’s Village and it was so good to be with someone instead of by myself.  I had friends at the Runner’s Village but it was impossibly trying to find people because there were soooo many runners. At the village, they gave us bagels, energy bars, bananas and water. Renata and I talked the entire way to the village and we kept saying “I hope we finish!!” “I’m so nervous!” “We are CRAZY!!” Renata got chosen through the lottery as well and she came to NYC by herself, no family.  I was super impressed. I got her email just in case we got separated so we could stay in touch.  She started in the same wave and corral as me!  It was a nice, sunny day and we were ready to run!! The first wave went at 9:40AM and we had a lot of waiting to do.

It was finally time to line up with our corrals and it was almost start time!! Renata and I were so anxious to start running and get the day started! As we were walking towards the starting line, an announcer greeted all of us and someone sang a patriotic song (not the National Anthem though) – then someone started up the cannon and we heard a loud BOOM sound and that was our que to start going!!!

The Starting line was at the beginning of the Verrazano Bridge that crossed over to Brooklyn! My phone died right as I started running and I had my charger in my fanny pack because I definitely was going to document this race as much as I could – as I was pulling my charger out, my credit card and ID fell out so I immediately had to stop – losing my friend Renata! It was okay though… I kept on going and I don’t know why, but it was super hard to breathe running on that bridge.  The Verrazano Bridge was about a mile long and once we got off the bridge, spectators were there cheering us on.  It felt SO GOOD. My Spotify wasn’t connecting, so I decided not to run with any music and rely on the spectators to keep me motivated.  Every chance I had, I high fived all of the little kids and that’s what kept me going! At every mile, they had bands playing which help me stay motivated.  I loved the signs and people screaming “Welcome to Brooklyn” or “Welcome to our home.” It was amazing.

Honestly, Miles 1 – 13 were a blur.  I felt like it went by so fast. I did remember someone (a spectator) at Mile 5 feeding me half a dunkin donut lol and I ate that thing like a savage.  I kept with my pace and running strategy.  I ran 6 miles straight, walked 2 minutes and then ran the next 2 miles.  When I got to mile 8, Steven was cheering me on! It was so good to see him!  Miles 1-13 was all of Brooklyn until we crossed another bridge into Long Island City / Queens / Lower Manhattan.  Mile 15 was not the worst, but we were under a bridge and spectators weren’t allowed under the bridge.  So it felt really quiet and it was a little bit of an uphill battle.  I had already walked my 2 minutes so I had 2 more miles to go until I would let myself walk again. I pushed through that bridge and when we got to mile 16 – the spectators were back and I had to keep going! Also, I kept thinking – don’t die, don’t die because 16 miles was the longest I trained – could I get past 16 and finish this thing?

Mile 16 -20 again were a blur. At Mile 19, they were giving out energy goo which I think mentally was telling me “you can do this.” When I got to mile 20 – I made it to The Bronx. There was a huge sign that said – “Welcome to Mile 20 – say hello to The Wall!” I thought that was pretty funny but I hadn’t hit my wall yet.  I loved running through The Bronx – the culture and vibe there was amazing.  We finally crossed over our final bridge to Manhattan and at mile 22 we were running down 5th ave.  By that time – I was definitely feeling it. I had hit “my wall.” I had friends and family tracking me the entire time and one of my best friends, Andrea texted me at mile 23 and said “3 miles more! Don’t stop running!” I was so tired that I was walking soooooo slow that my dot on the tracking app looked like I had stopped! But when Andrea texted me, that helped me keep going! I knew my family was waiting for me at mile 24 and when I kept going – they were around the corner when I entered Central Park! I loved seeing all of them cheering me on.  I’ve never had family come see me run (except Steven) so it was amazing to share this experience with all of them.

Okay – so after I saw them at mile 24, I knew that I couldn’t stop.  I was only 2 miles away!! At mile 25.5 we ran through Columbus Circle (where my old Internship was – hey Y&R!) and then ran back through Central Park.  At this point, the track was lined up with flags from all over the world.  This time – I could see the finish line so close!! I heard my name get called as I was crossing the finish line and I was smiling so big for the cameras because there were about 20 of them!  I couldn’t believe it.  I had finished a MARATHON. 26.2 miles. Wow. A volunteer put a medal around my neck and I got my picture taken with my medal and kept on walking with the other finishers to pick up our post-race bag full of food and drinks.  I immediately ate an apple and chugged a protein shake that was in my bag.  This was probably the worst part of the race – they made you walk another mile to get out of the race area to meet your families! I was so sore that my face was just stone cold. Volunteers kept asking me – “do you need medical?” hahaha I just kept on walking and finally got my race poncho and met up with Steven and my family!!

I am so happy the race is over! I’m so happy I had the chance to run the NYC Marathon and cross this off my bucket list.  If you are hesitant about doing a marathon – just do it! Your body can handle it even if you think you can’t. (if you train)

P.S – I finished at 5 hours & 22 minutes!

P.S.S – I didn’t make it on ESPN but I did make it onto the NYC Marathon Snapchat story!!

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xoxo,

Lizzie Lin Johnson

 

Oxford Seminar 2016

I really wanted to do a weekly update while Steven and I were studying at Oxford – but obviously that didn’t happen.

It still amazes me that I studied at Oxford University this Summer!! In January, we knew that Steven was going to go.  He applied, got in and then I got the go-ahead to work at my company’s London office while Steven was at Oxford.  Everything was going perfectly.  Then in March, when I got laid off.. (AFTER we purchased our plane tickets..) I had no idea what I was going to do.  Up until Steven’s graduation every week was different. First it was “Well, I’ll just go and just tour England while you’re at Oxford.” Then it was “No, I shouldn’t go because it might not be safe traveling alone.” & then one day, Steven got an email from the lady who helped plan the Study Abroad saying that there were 3 woman spots available! I remember I was nannying Buffy & Steven was like “you wanna go?” and I was like “okay!!” So that night, I stayed up way late, sent in my application and had an interview the following day because I was going out of town for the next 2 weeks to Virginia.  I had an interview with Laura Ricks & Jonathon Wood at BYU and I was accepted right in their office!

So you’re all probably wondering – wait a minute.. you graduated 2 years ago – how are you going on a study abroad with BYU? I had to pay extra money since I graduated already. I was considered a “grad student” so I had to pay for graduate tuition and take an MBA class while I was at Oxford.  Also, the funny thing was that Steven and I couldn’t stay in the same dorm! hahaha It was okay – the buildings were super close to each other and it was only for 3 weeks.

We left the USA a week early to travel to Paris and Amsterdam (click on the links to read my blog posts about our adventures) & then stayed in London for 2 nights with our friends Kyle, Chiarra, Spencer, and Jaime who were all attending Oxford as well. We hopped on the train at Kings Cross to Oxford University and once we got there we took a taxi to our flats…. Not knowing that where the train station that we got dropped off at would be right next to the Saïd Business School where we would spend a majority of our time at Oxford!

Week 1:

On the first full day we were all together, we got on a bus and traveled to Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral and Bath! People said Stonehenge is overrated but when we got there, I was so amazed by those stones!! You see these things in movies, internet, etc.  But to see this in person it’s just amazing! We got there right when it opened so it wasn’t crowded at all and we took some good pics.  Salisbury Cathedral was HUGE and amazing to walk through. But, what I loved the most about that day was Bath, England.  It’s the cutest little town – think Paris meets London.  It’s super clean, amazing architecture, yummy ice cream everywhere, and the town is just picturesque. We had the chance to tour the Roman Baths. We went through it pretty quick & the bath water was super green so they don’t let you touch it… Even though Kyle did hahaha. By the end of the day, everyone was so tired from jetlag!

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The first Sunday we got on a bus that traveled to London so we could go to church! It was a forever long bus ride probably about 2 hours and then a forever long walk to the church – another 45 minutes.  It was a long process, but we made it to church in time and I saw some friends that were on the Global Marketing Study Abroad! It was fast & testimony meeting that Sunday and all of the testimonies were so great and it was so cool to hear from people who were from London and grew up in England all their lives. After church, we walked forever long way back to Hyde Park and played the name game with our professor, John Hoffmire.  All 42 of us got in a circle, and we had to memorize everyone’s names! This was actually super helpful because it helped me to talk to more people once I knew their names!

The next few days – we attended the Business & Poverty Conference that John Hoffmire put together. It’s a free conference and so many people from all around the world came to this conference at Oxford to learn how they can fight poverty through business.  Long story short – they were 11 hour conferences both days.  & for lunch – we had mini lunch sessions with speakers to talk about poverty (or if you were in my lunch session – about nuclear weapons and how we’re all basically going to die..) I learned a ton at this conference.  From employee ownership in companies to what we can do to fight poverty through business.  But also I was confused a ton – some words I just didn’t understand and since they only had a few minutes to talk – they didn’t explain what they were talking about because they assumed most of the people there know what they are talking about! On the 2nd day of the conference, that’s when the singing started.

We sang a ton while we were at Oxford.  John loved listening to our church hymns and we sang “Nearer My God to Thee” about 3084985 times to faculty, the cafeteria workers, people passing by, etc. It sounds like I’m complaining but honestly I loved being able to sing that song.  One girl in our group – Melissa – She has an AMAZING voice and when she would sing her solo part – I got goosebumps every time!

We also got to attend Education Weekend at Oxford.  John Hoffmire’s wife put together this weekend filled with educational speakers, thought leaders, etc.  I loved education weekend.  I think being out of school for 2 years, it became clear to me that I can always just keep learning wherever I am in my life.  There was one speaker, Sanjiv Chopra who was the Dean of Harvard Medical School spoke on happiness and leadership.  He read a lot of quotes from different leaders and also told us (a group of mormon kids) that drinking 74 cups of coffee a day could make us live longer.  HA! That was pretty funny.

Week 2:

for the 2nd week we focused solely on our big group project we were working on with John Hoffmire.  We worked on a financial literacy company! Before I came to Oxford, the group that I was in had a call with John to discuss what we had to do before we got to Oxford.  What I thought was the “Social Media Group” was actually the “build the entire curriculum for this financial literacy group.” Not going to lie, it was a LOT of work. Luckily, since both our group and John didn’t really know what to do – we worked together a ton to go from one project to the next.

On week 2 they gave us a free day! Steven & I decided to go with a group to Blenheim Palace & we fell in LOVE with that place! It’s only about a 30 minute bus ride from Oxford to the palace and it drops you right in front.  Steven was excited to go through this huge hedge maze that they had.  When we got there – I had to go use the toilet, but then everyone kept going so Steven and I did our own thing the whole day! We walked through Pleasure Gardens to get to the maze – got lost in the maze and finally found our way out! We took this cute little train back to the palace for 50 pence and then toured the palace that Winston Churchill was born in.  The Duke & Duchess of Marlborough are the main people who own the place & they eat Christmas dinner with their family each year there.  The palace reminded me of Versailles because it was GORGEOUS all around.

We also had the chance to go punting! You’re basically on a rickety boat and to steer and get the boat moving, you have a long metal pole that one person is pushing into the ground to get the boat going! It’s harder than you think hahaha and we were all laughing our heads off because one group lost their pole and almost fell in and Jaime got some HILARIOUS pics of Steven and Kyle punting.

Okay – let me back up and say that we got to eat breakfast every morning at the Christ Church Dining Hall.  It’s where the Harry Potter Dining Hall was inspired! We had croissants, fruit, cereal, eggs, mushrooms, porridge, beans and hash browns! I didn’t miss a day of breakfast!! So on one of the nights at Oxford, we had a formal dinner night at Christ Church Dining Hall.  We all got to dress up & had a 3 course meal.  SO YUMMY.

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Week 3:

The last week of Oxford was crazy busy!! We were fully involved with our group projects. My project consisted of creating 5 power points about budgeting.  I had an awesome group and we all clicked. Presentations were also happening – The first day of presentations we were in a room with no AC and we were all dying! The 2nd and third day of presentations, we moved to a lecture room with AC and all was right with the world.

I learned a ton about presentation skills and how to create a captivating power point.  It’s all about telling the right story to your audience. We presented on the 2nd day and I’m not the one who will jump right at the opportunity to present or do any type of public speaking – but with enough practice, we all felt confident during our presentation.

Because of #Brexit – the pound dropped a ton while we were at Oxford.  It was a good thing for us because BYU could put on more activities since there was extra money in the budget.  For the last night, they took us out to a Thai restaurant and we said goodbye to John Hoffmire and took a ton of photos with him. It’s bittersweet saying goodbye to a guy who helped us grow a ton in just 3 weeks.

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If you are ever wondering if you should apply for Oxford Seminar – DO IT!! It was one of the best experiences of my life! & especially with Steven!!

XOXO,

Lizzie Lin Johnson

 

Netherlands 2016 – Rijssen

Steven & I absolutely LOVED the Netherlands. 3 years ago on my study abroad we met an amazing bus driver named Patrick.  He was from Holland and he told all of the students as we left “If you ever come to Holland, let me know and stay with me!” I messaged Patrick on Facebook and told him that Steven & I would be going to Europe & he said “come stay with me!” So we bought plane tickets from Paris to Amsterdam!!

Patrick & his wife Evelien met us at Schipol Airport – it was so great to see people we actually know! They had plans to tour the city center in Amsterdam and then stay in a hotel near the city so we can explore more at night. We went to dinner at and then explored the city.  Patrick and Evelien took us to the city and the Red Light District (super weird!!) and we went back on the ferry to go to our hotel.  Okay, if you’re ever in the area – stay at Amsterdam Forest Hotel – it’s new and so nice and very inexpensive!! Also, it felt so nice to sleep in a hotel bed instead of our ghetto airbnb’s!!! hahaha

The next day, we went to one of the biggest flower markets in Holland! Picture an empty Costco and you’re on the upper level looking down at this huge warehouse and there are little carts driving around everywhere picking up, putting down flowers! It was crazy! Patrick & Evelien took us to a little town call Volendam and it was a town right by the lake.  It’s very touristy but everything was so cute! We ate raw fish AKA herring the Dutch way and i ate the entire fish and Steven did not! It was kind of gross but not too bad. Just super fishy.  Then we went to the Stroopwafel museum and a cheese factory.  & ate dutch mini pancakes. So much good food!

We drove an hour and a half to the city of Rijssen! It’s the cutest little town with the cutest homes and just huge farmland! Patrick & Evelien’s home is amazing.  They were some of the best hosts ever. The bed was super comfy and it just felt so good to be in a HOME. That night, Patrick invited Steven to a men’s choir that he is a part of.  There’s 150 men who sing in this choir and they perform regularly around Holland! While he was singing Dutch songs, Evelien invited me to the gym for a Dutch bootcamp and it was so fun!! & it felt good to workout! It’s cool how exercise is universal and I didn’t have to know dutch to do the workouts!!

One of the highlight of our trip to Rijssen was getting to meet all of Evelien’s students! She teaches 11-12 years olds and she invited us to come to class to speak English to them & have them meet “real life” Americans. It was so awesome. They already speak English so well because they start learning when they are young. They had the chance to ask us any questions – and they asked us fun questions like “Where do you like to shop?” or “What iPhone games do we play?” and “Do you know the Dab?” hahaha But then they asked us some serious questions like “Which Presidential candidate are you going to vote for?” and “Do you own a gun in your home?” that kind of took me back and thought wow – I wonder what they think of when they think of Americans and USA.  I love the USA but it’s sad how we are portrayed as the “gun country” or a “violent country.” Anyways – overall it was a fun time being in a classroom full of Dutch kids.  They had the chance to teach us some Dutch words!  We took some group photos outside of the school (See below)

After school, Patrick took us all around Rijssen and i love it so much! We got lunch down town, ate ice cream, walked to Oosterhof (a castle), and just enjoyed our time in a wonderful town. It was our last full day in Holland and for dinner, Patrick made us a traditional Dutch dinner! Mashed potatoes with Kale and a sausage.  So yummy! I’m so grateful for Patrick and Evelien’s hospitality.  We loved our time in the Netherlands and we will definitely be back in the future and we hope they come to America!!

XOXO,

Lizzie Lin Johnson

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Lake Tahoe Half Marathon

So in February, my friend Brittany asked me if I wanted to do the Lake Tahoe Half Marathon with her in June! Obviously, I said YES and Steven said yes because his cousin that he hasn’t seen in forever lives in Lake Tahoe – so it was a perfect time to visit him and take a couples’ trip!

We flew from LA – SF and stayed with our friends Lucy and Jerry.  They both are newish residents of San Francisco and it was so fun to catch up with them! We had them stay with us in Provo in January, so we were really excited to see them! I can always trust Lucy to take me to the best food places and I was right! They picked us up from the airport and we went straight to the yummiest Ramen place (but the worst service…lol).

We had about a day and a half to explore SF – so the next day we went to Lombard street, toured Lucy’s work at Square, Twin Peaks and Dumplings! Touring Lucy’s work was a big highlight of our day because we were treated to free lunch, smoothie bar and ginger shots hahahah it was so fun. Maybe because I love free food but whatever!!

The next day, we went with Jerry to Seward Slides, Bi-Rite Creamery, Painted Ladies, and the iconic mosaic steps! Then we met up with Brittany and her husband Joram to road trip to Lake Tahoe! We checked into our hotel (HOTEL CHALET) & went to bed because we were so tired from the drive up and we had our race the next morning!

Joram & Steven dropped Brittany and I off at the start line for the Lake Tahoe Half Marathon! We ran the whole race together which was so nice because we could pace ourselves.  It was about 75% down hill and when it was up hill I hated it hahaha. I was feeling good from Miles 1 – 7.  At mile 8, I felt the blisters on my toes, but I kept going! I was really impressed with the snacks/drink stations at each mile. It made you look forward to each mile. Mile 10 felt like an ETERNITY! We were running most of the time on the main highway and then mile 10-11 was in the woods so I had no clue where we were.  The last mile we basically sprinted to the finish line while Brittany is holding on to a red bull from one of the drink stations hahaha It felt so good to finish!! It was so nice that this race wasn’t as big as the Nike Women’s Half because it was easier for Steven and Joram to take pics of us through out the race!

I think my favorite thing about the race is that I can eat WHATEVER I WANT!! We went to Heidi’s Pancake House and it was so yummy! We went back to the hotel to rest and shower and then we met up with Steven’s cousin Scott and his girlfriend Kayla.  Steven had not seen Scott in years so it was a great reunion for them.  We went out for fro-yo and found out that runners get free fro yo ALL WEEKEND. We definitely took advantage of that and went twice. Then we went and relaxed at the lake and ate yummy Greek food!

For our last day in Tahoe, we went to Emerald Lake and Emerald Bay.  Both, beautiful places to visit if you are in South Lake Tahoe! We drove back to SF and they dropped us off at the airport.  It was an awesome trip and another half marathon in the books! Now I’m training for the New York City Marathon happening in November – so wish me luck!!

XOXO,

Lizzie Lin Johnson

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24 hours in Paris

Hi from Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris!! We are about to catch a flight to The Netherlands to spend time with friends in Holland and Amsterdam!!

Okay – So you only have 24 hours in Paris? Let me tell you what we did.

  1. Wake up early and get an Uber (only 30 minute drive) to Palace of Versailles! We woke up late since we didn’t get a good night sleep and left our apartment around 9:30AM.  We arrived around 10AM and since we didn’t buy tickets beforehand we had to buy tickets there but there wasn’t a long line.  But there was a long line to get into the palace (about 20 minute wait).  So I suggest you get there before Versailles opens at 9AM!
    • Go through the palace (obviously) – We saw the King’s Chamber, the famous Hall of Mirrors, all the different estates people lived in. (Get those audio phone things to listen to while you tour because everything is written in French!)
    • Go to the Jardins of Versailles! So beautiful.  It is sooooo big – honestly you could spend an entire day at the Palace of Versailles because it’s HUGE!! You can do row boats, eat lunch outside (Angelina’s hot chocolate & sandwiches), take a ton of pictures, go to the mirror fountain and watch the water show.

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3. After the Eiffel Tower we tried to get a taxi to Arc De Triomphe but the taxi driver said.. “it’s close, you can walk there!” So he drove away and on Google Maps it said we were kind close I guess.. We walked about 30 minutes I think? But, it was the most prettiest walk EVER. All of the apartments were filled with flowers on their balcony, the shop windows were to die for and it was so clean.

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4. When you get to the Arc De Triomphe – you have to go underground to get to it.  It costs 9 Euros if you are under 26 and 12 Euros if you are older to climb up to the top.  Definitely worth it and also calorie burn because you go up soooo many flight of stairs! Once you get to the top – the views are absolutely breathtaking! You have a 360 degree view of all of Paris and it wasn’t that crowded for a Saturday

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5. When you’re done with Arc de Triomphe – walk along  Avenue des Champs-Élysées where there are a ton of shops, street performers, restaurants and free wi-fi lol. We got hungry so we ate at Cafe Di Roma & embarrassing story – they gave us free bread and olive oil but no plate to put the olive oil in and then they brought a smaller dish that looked like an ash tray but I smelled it and it smelled clean hahahah so I pour the olive oil in the ash tray and the couple next to us start laughing that i’m dipping bread in oil in an ash tray… so I stopped and definitely felt embarrassed but what was i supposed to do?!

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6. While you’re walking through Avenue des Champs-Élysées you’ll pass the Grand Palace and two famous theaters, the Place De La Concorde, the ferris wheels that looks like the London Eye, the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries garden and then you’ll end at The Louvre!!

  • By this time your feet will be TIRED. So just keep going.. there’s more to see!!

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(soooo tired lol)

7. After the Louvre, I wanted to see that love lock bridge that everyone talks about – The Pont Des Art bridge over The Seine River.. But, I forgot that they cut the locks down because it was too heavy for the bridge.  There are locks in other places near it but not the one that everyone was talking about haha

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8. We walked to Notre Dame about 10 minutes away and got to go inside the Cathedral – it’s so big! & I heard you can go up to the top to see all of the gargoyles but we were so tired by then!

Okay, so we did so much stuff while we were in Paris for 24 hours! I bet you could do way more if you got up earlier though! I’m sad that I didn’t get to eat gelato at Amorino (everyone was telling me about it) and since we weren’t staying in a safe neighborhood in Paris (We were in the 18th district) – we decided to head back before it got dark just to be safe! Next time we come back we want to stay in the heart of Paris and stay up late to see the lights on the Eiffel Tower light up.

Hope you loved reading this!!

XOXO,

Lizzie Lin Johnson

Lizzie’s Bakery – What’s next?

Hi Hi Hi! Okay, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged about anything and I’ve been thinking about this post for a while.. I started Lizzie’s Bakery about 3 months ago after being laid off from my job.  2 years ago if you asked me what I would be with my life right now – I did not think I would be baking cakes for people!

Most of my cake clients were based in Utah & when Steven & I moved to Carlsbad, CA (temporarily) we knew no one when we came here besides family.  So most of my cakes that you see on my Instagram are for family members! Luckily, I had a chance to fly back to Utah to make a wedding cake for my very good friend Nolan & his wife Tina! Since I was in Utah for 3 whole days, I took a bunch of cake orders – I made 8 cakes throughout the weekend! Most of my luggage was filled with cake supplies and ingredients & I borrowed friends’ clothes while I was there hahaha

Being in California has helped me take the time to practice my cake skills & perfect my recipes.  I made my first tiered wedding cake in Escondido & I made the cake SO tall. I made way too much cake but it gave me that “lighthouse” beach themed look I was going for.

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So funny story with the decorations on this cake above – The bride & groom wanted a beach themed wedding & sent me some photos they found on Pinterest on what they were thinking of for their big day. I ordered these “sugar” starfish on Amazon & Oriental Trading and came to find out that the “sugar” starfish were REAL starfish & they were not edible at all & that they are a type of starfish!! hahaha even Amazon thought they were edible because it paired these items with other cake decorating items.  One of the groomsmen ate the mini sugar starfish and said “uhh.. I don’t think these are edible..” & luckily we didn’t spread them on all of the cupcakes!! So we used it just for decoration & no one ate any starfish.. thank goodness hahaha

I also had the chance to do a collaboration with my friend Sarah Tripp of Sassy Red Lipstick while she was in LA! She was doing a photoshoot by the beach & wanted a cake! It was fun catching up with her & meeting her husband! See her blog post here!

Photos by: @roseeposey

So what’s the most stressful thing about cakes?

It’s not the baking or the frosting… IT’S THE FREAKIN TRANSPORTATION of these cakes to the desired location. It is the most stressful time of my life… holding on the bottom of these cakes for dear life. You do not want to see me when I’m in a car, in the passenger seat… Only my husband and my best friend Jaime has witness this & it’s not pretty at all. hahaha

Sorry if I’m jumping all over the place with this blog post – I just have so much on my mind about these cakes!! My favorite part about baking is frosting the cake. It’s so therapeutic & relaxing. I also love it when a cake bakes perfectly – AKA when it doesn’t deflate. Living in Utah, we have the struggles of high altitude which makes the cake deflate – but in California the cakes always come out perfect!! I’ve baked a lot at my sister-in-law’s home in San Marcos & it’s super fun because she has 3 kids who are super curious at what I’m doing.  My nephew Ethan wants to be a “builder/worker man” when he grows up and I tell him that I love making cakes because you can build them however you want! My niece Lexi who’s 3 years old loves watching me mix up the cake batter. I hope one day I can teach a cake class!

Okay, so what’s next with this whole cake thing? Well – Steven has been interviewing for jobs & I’m not 100% where we’ll end up living after we go on our study abroad to Oxford, UK.  I know a lot of people have been contacting me about making their wedding cake in August & I will have to get back to you to figure out where we’ll be in August! My car is still chillin’ in Utah with all of our stuff in our apartment – so no matter what I still have to pick it up and while I’m there might as well make some cakes!! Once Steven gets a job offer from who knows where, I can start looking for a job & not gonna lie.. I want to work in a bakery and learn more cake skills!!

When I started making cakes – my mom was worried that I wasn’t doing my hardest to find a job where I can utilize my college degree. But, in reality – I am using my degree and what I learned at BYU / BYU’s Advertising program to advertise my cakes! Most of my business has been on Instagram & Facebook! I’m trying to decide if I want to make a website or just add it on to my blog with a pricing page & gallery of my cakes? Cake is literally on my mind all the time. I watch so many cake videos on YouTube and Instagram & I want to start learning how to work with fondant & make one of those cool marble cakes! So stay tuned for more cakes!! & lots of UK bakeries that I’ll be visiting! & if you know anyone who needs a cake – send them my way!!

XOXO,

Lizzie Lin Johnson

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Almond cake

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Sweet Potato cake with caramelized ginger, marshmallow frosting on the inside & brown sugar buttercream on the outside

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My first Momofuku Milk Bar cake for my half birthday!!

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Dulce De Leche Cake

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Lucky Charm Cake for St. Patty’s Day & Steven’s birthday!

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Chocolate Easter Cake

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Red Velvet with eggless chocolate chip cookie dough

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Messy Funfetti Cake for Easter

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White Chocolate speckled cake

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Gluten, dairy & sugar free cake with raspberry jam in the middle & frosted with cashews!

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Crepe cake with biscoff & raspberry puree

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White cake with strawberries for my bff Andrea’s bridal shower!

 

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6inch chocolate naked cake for a bridal shower

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Pink velvet cake for my niece’s baptism in Virginia

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Momofuku Milk bar funfetti cake!

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Chocolate chip butterscotch milkbar cake!

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8 inch graduation cake! Funny story: I can’t believe I forgot the “R” in congrats. I posted this photo on Instagram 3 days after I made the cake and didn’t even notice it until a friend texted it to me!! I showed this pic to my family the day I made it and no one noticed!! sooo funny & luckily the friend I made it for didn’t care!

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Graduation cake for steven & our cousin camille! I ordered these edible photos from cakes.com & isn’t the one below so fun?!

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Chocolate naked cake

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Chocolate cake that literally weighed 10 pounds

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Delivered my first cake to salt lake city and driving so slow because nervous!!

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Loved making these baby blessing cakes! Chocolate cake & Vanilla cake with strawberries!

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Very messy naked vanilla cake with strawberries from the Carlsbad Strawberry fields for my mother-in-law’s birthday!

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Vanilla/chocolate naked cake and gluten-free vanilla cake for the top tier! My BFF kari made all of the cookies & I made some french macarons!

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Banana cake with chocolate ganache & banana cream filling with coconut frosting on the outside

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8inches of brownie layer & peanut butter eggless cookie dough and chocolate ganache drip

Carlsbad Strawberry Fields

I’m dedicating an entire blog post on these Strawberry fields that Steven & I went to yesterday! WOW WOW WOW. I’ve always seen pictures of people picking apples, strawberries, raspberries – all types of fruit in a huge farm. But I’ve never done it before until YESTERDAY.

On Monday, we moved to Carlsbad, CA for 6 weeks until we go to our study abroad at Oxford University in July! So it’s our temporary home – but it’s the perfect home because you can see the ocean and we’re only ONE mile away from it! We found out that the Carlsbad Flower Fields were right next to Steven’s parents house but we just missed their season! They opened until May 8 & that’s the day we moved to Carlsbad.  But, then his mom said there were strawberry fields right next to them and there was a stand where you could buy fresh strawberries or pick them!

I googled it & found some reviews on YELP and i decided that we had to go!! The fields were only 7 minutes away from the beach house! We got there & there were about 2 cars there because it was in the middle of the day on a Wednesday – so basically we had the whole fields to ourselves!! I was so excited when we got up to the stand and I told the lady that it was my first time and I asked her where in the fields is the best place to pick the best strawberries and she said “go all the way to the top!”

We bought our bucket – Wait – here’s some advice: If you are going with your significant other or on a date buy the biggest bucket which is $20 and comes with 2 admission tickets (Valued at $5) so the $20 bucket gets two people in AND the best part is that you can eat ALL YOU CAN EAT STRAWBERRIES WHILE YOU PICK THEM. If you are going with a family with kids – I would still buy the $20 bucket and share that with 2 kids and then if you have more kids buy the smaller $10 bucket which gives you bucket and 1 person admission. There are rules though – you can’t overfill the bucket where they keep falling out – still be courteous and respectful of these fields!

There were soooooo many strawberries – I was in STRAWBERRY HEAVEN. They were so juicy and sweet and so delicious omg writing about it makes me want to eat all of the ones I picked right now (but i can’t… saving them for a cake). Steven thought picking strawberries was going to be boring but i think he had more fun than me! We filled our bucket until we could

n’t put anymore in and when we were done the lady at the stand guessed it was about 8 pounds.. 8 POUNDS OF STRAWBERRIES FOR $20 AND ALL YOU CAN EAT.

Best tips on finding the best strawberries:

  • Go alllll the way to the top
  • If you want to eat them right away – avoid white because they still need time to grow
  • LOOK FOR BUGS on the strawberries before you eat any
  • If you plan on using the strawberries a couple of days later – go for the ones that have some white on them because they will ripen in your kitchen
  • If you have bad luck finding good strawberries KEEP LOOKING cuz they are out there.

So if you’re in the Carlsbad/San Diego area from April – July… GO TO THE STRAWBERRY FIELDS!!! You won’t regret it!

XOXO,

Lizzie Lin Johnson

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Virginia is for Lovers & cute asian babies

Hi!! I’ve been soooo busy since coming back from Virginia! Steven & I have been packing up to move to Carlsbad, California and I’ve been baking cakes everyday since I’ve been back!

So about a month ago my Mom invited me to come to Virginia with her to visit my brother Mark, his wife Imee & their daughter (my niece) Mila! Plus my mom used her sky miles so HELLO FREE TRIP. We were there from the 13th – 19th & it was the longest I’ve ever been with my mom in a long time.  We’ve been trying to plan this trip because obviously my mom wanted to see her first grand child & I wanted to see my first ever niece!!

We got to Virginia Beach, VA and basically the whole trip was eating Asian food, playing with Mila and just relaxing. My first full day there, I got to hang out with my brother and our friend Jose Zamora who lives in VA as well and was in the Navy with Mark. We bought Duck Donuts (YUM – also duck beach 2014 hhahaha) & went fishing on the pier.  It was a really windy day which made it freeeeezing so we weren’t there that long.  & we didn’t even catch anything!! So lame!! But, it was fun spending time with Mark!

My mom bought a ton of Chinese food to cook for us and I love her cooking. She doesn’t think I do because I never appreciated it when I was actually living with her before BYU but I do love it! Mark’s best friend Anthony Woo & his wife Amanda drove from Floria with their little boy Anthony Jr. to attend Mila’s baptism. It’s fun seeing all of these guys with babies and kids because 5-6 years ago we were all still living in Vegas trying to figure out our lives and now everyone is all grown up. Anthony Jr. is soooo cute and Mila is such a good baby.  She rarely cries except when I try to give her a bath. My mom loves playing with her.  If she had the choice to stay home and just play with Mila she would do that in a heart beat.

Mila’s baptism was at a Catholic church and there were 2 other babies being baptized. My mom is not religious at all and she thought it was so annoying that she had to keep standing up every 5 minutes hahaha I told her that in Mormon church you just have to sit there for 3 HOURS. Now I don’t know if she’ll ever go to church.. ha

After Mila’s baptism, we had a lunch party at this amazing all you can eat Sushi Restaurant. OMG sushi, Chinese food, Hibachi grill, Pho, everything all in one place and all you can eat. so so so so so YUMMY. We went back to Mark & Imee’s house and had desserts! I brought my cake pans and made an 8inch “pink” velvet cake for everyone! It was a long day for Mila but a very special day for her and her family.

On our last full day we toured Virginia Beach.  We had brunch at Hair of the Dog Eatery and walked along the pier at VA Beach. We saw the huge Neptune statue and got ice cream paid for by mom.  I felt like a little kid again when my mom said “ice cream’s on me!” It was actually interesting seeing my mom eat ice cream and different desserts we had while visiting VA because she NEVER eats sweets.  It was like she was finally giving in!!

Virginia Beach was a great time. I’m glad I got to spend time with my older brother and his family & my mom! I loved playing with Mila and Mark & Imee were such great hosts. I’m grateful that Mark is being taken care of by Imee and her wonderful family. I can’t wait to see Mila when she comes to Vegas this fall!

XOXO,

Lizzie Lin Johnson

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Cheetah Girls, Cheetah Sisters!

This past weekend I had a sisters weekend with my 4 sister-in-laws! Kim & I left Provo Friday night & picked up Cheryl in St. George & then we were on our way to Vegas for Britney Spears!!!

We started planning this trip during Christmas time and it was finally happening! We stayed the night at Kelly’s house in Henderson on Friday night & on Saturday we all spent the entire day together – it was so much fun! Obviously we had to make a stop at Home Goods so I can buy some new cake stands! Then Jenn arrived from San Diego & we all went down to the Strip, ate at Shake Shack, tasted a bunch of cokes from around the world & then we got ready at our hotel while watching Crossroads!!

The concert was SOOOO AMAZING!!! Our seats were basically front row & Britney Spears was phenomenal (Check my video down below)! Definitely a show to watch if you are ever planning a trip to Vegas! She definitely Lip synched the entire time but whatever cuz she danced for straight 2 hours hahahaha

It was definitely a great weekend with my sister-in-laws.  I’m grateful that I married into an amazing family. With Steven being the only son in the family, he has learned a ton from his sisters and how to treat women. I love seeing him treat my best friends like if they were his little sisters. During the sisters weekend, we also got wayyyyy lucky with the rain and didn’t get poured on once walking outside! It was a perfect weekend!

XOXO,

Lizzie Lin Johnson

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Life Lately…

A lot has happened this past month and I’d thought I would share what’s been going on with life! So beginning of this month, I got laid off. I won’t say a lot about it – but it was totally unexpected and i really just miss my co workers and working with my best friend Kari every day. It’s weird not having a job.  I’ve had a job ever since I was 16 years old and if I got a new job, I would literally have that weekend off and then start the new job on Monday.  My life has been go go go since I was 16.  I started college 6 DAYS after my high school graduation. I worked 2 jobs while I was at BYU and the day after BYU graduation I moved to NYC to start an internship! I’m not trying to brag or anything, all i’m trying to say is that I’ve never really had a break.

So when I got laid off – Yeah, I cried a little and then went home and Steven was there to comfort me and he just said “well now you have this time to figure out what you want to do next.” & in my mind – I’m like “omg there’s no steady income coming in, you’re still in school, how are we gonna live!?!?” Luckily, we have savings and we are totally fine. But it was so weird not having a regular routine. Every day would be the same – wake up, gym, breakfast, go to work, come home, cook dinner, hang out with Steven, sleep. I even had certain times where I would drink my water!! haha

Anyways – with all the time I had, I started baking more cakes and practicing different techniques, learning how to frost and finally started my own cake insta – @lizzies_bakery! I’m still a way amateur baker / I’m super shy still because there are way more awesome bakers that I follow on my personal instagram! But the thing with cakes and why I love them so much is that I can make something from scratch and decorate it how I want or combine different flavors together and it will be something so delicious! and you know me – I LOVE SWEETS. On my spare time, I would always just be on Pinterest or YouTube reading cake blogs and learning new things that I wanted to actually do. At first it started out as a hobby and now I am actually making a little money off of this little business! So if you need a cake for weddings, birthdays, showers, or a holiday party let me know!!

Being laid off is definitely a trial for me – but I know that Heavenly Father knows that I can do hard things and I know that i can do hard things and overcome these unexpected obstacles that come my way. I also know that blessings come when you are trying to do the right thing – Steven’s cousin Rachel needed a nanny part-time until graduation, which is perfect timing because then I still have time to make cakes in the morning! It also keeps me busy instead of just lounging around in the apartment on social media. Also baby time with Buffy who is the cutest and such a good baby.

If you’re still reading this – here are mine & Steven’s plans for the summer. Since my work said I could go to London and now that I don’t work there anymore our plans had to change. Since there’s no point to stay in Provo and keep paying rent – we are moving at the end of April after Steven’s graduation to Carlsbad, CA and living in Steven’s parent’s home by the beach! We’ll be there till May and middle of June and travel to Europe for 2 1/2-3 weeks and then I’ll drop Steven off in London so he can attend his Oxford University Study abroad! While Steven is on his study abroad, I’ll be in Vegas for a little while and then maybe visit my Dad who just moved to Florida – we will see! But then in August – we have NO CLUE where we’ll be!! So Stay tuned!

XOXO,

Lizzie Lin Johnson IMG_1669