my apologies… and food porn! (aka Charleston)

running, beer, girly things, and food porn…

If anyone is offended by the use of the term “food porn”, please excuse me- it’s just pictures of food. No food was wasted during my weekend excursion to Charleston (though I did kill it several times…)

So in looking back, my last post was in August. I have been busy, but the truth is I also needed a break from egocentrism. In August, I was super busy with work and had just moved. We were finishing up our third round of recruitment (enrolling new participants), and ended up with 22 great new people. But, that means a lot of paperwork to finally file and preparations (including contacting each person to ensure they are ready for randomization). My work has somewhat consumed me.

And in August, when I wasn’t working, I just wanted to lay around our apartment and not do anything. When I did have energy, I squeezed in a run (or strength training). Did you notice I said our place? Dan and I moved in together in July, and have been living in sin for the past two months. It’s actually been great, aside from the sleep deprivation– he has two cats, and I have my own cat. That’s three cats in a 2-bedroom apartment, and is two too many, in my opinion… So, the first few weeks, we got very little sleep.

Then, September came. The first weekend, Dan had a triathlon out by the beach. We stayed the luxurious Langston’s Motel at White Lake, NC on Friday night. White Lake is like the rural ‘hood. No, I am not kidding. It’s all countryside, and “there’s nothing around here”, then BAM! 10 trailer parks and 10 motels, all lakeside. But, I won’t ramble about that. We later went to the beach and stayed in Wilmington. It was a great, relaxing weekend- my first one of the summer.

For everyone else, August meant the end of summer; but for me, it meant my vacations were just beginning. I have a little lull until November, then it’s rush mode again until March.

My injury update- I started seeing my Chiropractor (Dr Stephen Saleeby in Raleigh– North Hills area) Aug 20. My left hip was way out of line, and my right shoulder/upper back was out of line, causing a pinching of my right abdomen. This was the cause of the continual abdominal strains and re-injuring. He said it would have never fixed on its own, and just would have continued to get worse and worse. So he straightened me out, and I have seen him four times. I have gotten up to as many as 3 miles, with strength training of about 30 mins/week. I even did yoga this weekend. I still have “good days” and “bad days”, but my bad days aren’t as bad, and my good days are more often. It’s still very slow, because I basically had been like that for 3-4 months before treatment began. He thinks there was likely a lack of circulation and some temporary neurosis in the area (nerve damage) from the pinching. I feel like, for the first time in 6 months, my abdomen is getting oxygen again. It’s a weird feeling too. But enough on that! I want to talk about my good eats in Charleston!

Sep 12-15 we went to Charleston.

Day 1

My coworker sent me a travelzoo link before we headed out with a major discount on a hotel in downtown for Thur night. So, we headed down to Charleston around sunset Thursday.

We made our way to STARS (a rooftop bar in the Upper King St area of Charleston). It was a very relaxed environment, completely unpretentious, even though they had delicious and innovative cocktails. I got a Hibiscus Mint Shandy (my namesake hehe). A Shandy is a cocktail that mixes beer with juice and usually adds a shot of something as well. The most popular Shandy is probably a Snakebite (half spiked cider and half lager). The Hibiscus Mint Shandy was delicious- a fresh lager, with a hibiscus-pomegranate mixture with fresh mint. It was like a delicious mojito met up with a beer enthusiast and made some sweet sweet love! We then made our way to the Grocery.

Cannon St, in Upper King St district of Charleston, SC

Cannon St, in Upper King St district of Charleston, SC

We were a little tipsy, from our 2-3 drinks at STARS, and lack of food. Our reservations were a tad on the late side- 8:45pm- but ended up being perfect timing. The Grocery was a quaint little restaurant. Scratch that- it was pretty big- but somehow kept that small-restaurant feel. I started off with the Gem Lettuce salad, and Dan with a late-season tomato salad. Meh, they were good (nothing life-altering). Then our entrees came. I ordered the Roasted Amberjack, served over a bed of hominy, crowder peas, and a green tomato relish. Nothing about that sounded bad.

IT WAS HANDS-DOWN THE BEST FREAKING FISH I HAVE EVER FREAKING HAD!

Seriously. It was life-changer. I will always compare fish to this fish. It was cooked perfectly- moist, and crumbly/ flaky with the fork. It was perfectly seasoned- enough to be interesting, but not so much to distract from the flavors of the fish itself. I can’t remember (nor do I care) what Dan had. Mine was so good, I don’t think I offered him a bite.

The dessert finished off with a delicious nutella brownie a la mode, topped with coffee ice cream and hazelnuts. It was really good. Nothing too inventive- but how could you ever go wrong with nutella?! Let me clarify- more inventive than myself, but nothing that didn’t sound good on paper as well.

Day 2

We started the day by walking from our hotel to Toast! for breakfast. Toast! came highly recommended, and we thought it was nearby. A 45-minute walk later, we were finally there. Thankfully, it was September, and about 65 degrees outside, which was perfect. Dan ordered the Eggs Benedict and I ordered the Eggs Meeting Street. [side note: In WIlmington, I had the Dixie Eggs at Dixie Grill- a fried green tomato on a biscuit, with poached eggs and gravy on top. It was delicious, and I want to recreate it at home…] We skipped the bottomless Mimosas because we planned to walk around all day. The bottomless mimosas are an attraction at Toast! ($12).

I'm not good at close-ups.

I’m not good at close-ups.

I stalked some tourists to get a normal picture of us

I stalked some tourists to get a normal picture of us

We then walked through the open market, walked down the bay, then walked back to the hotel. We decided it was a gorgeous day, so we hopped in the car and went to Folly Beach. It was gorgeous. The water was perfect- just a few breakers, then enough to keep you on your toes while lounging in the water. Around 3, we decided to head back to the hotel.

(and Dan's hairy leg)

(and Dan’s hairy leg)

We had 9:30pm reservations of FIG. Everyone said FIG was a must, so I (begrudgingly) agreed to a past-my-typical-bedtime dinner. We thought it would be nice to hang out in Charleston until our reservations. We grabbed a cab and got to downtown around 6pm. It had poured in late afternoon (after we left the beach), and the rooftop bar we wanted to go to only had wet seats available. So, we went to a fancy pants italian place and had a couple beers and bruschetta. We decided fancy pants bar was past its expiration for us, and we headed down Meeting St, and stumbled into a wine bar. I attempted to slow down, drinking a glass of red very slowly.

It didn’t matter. By the time 830pm rolled around, Dan was hungry and I was tipsy. So we did what any good foodie does- we ordered another round, and started talking shit about everyone around us. Oh, wait. That was just me shit-talking. To be fair, if you wear a delicate ivory lace strapless dress, don’t let your black bra hang so far out someone could undo it, and expose you. Just saying. And no, it wasn’t barely hanging out. It was hanging out in the front. Home girl could have looked down, noticed it was out and pull it up. But she didn’t. I bet she thought it was cute.

Around 9:00pm, we started anxiously asking for the tab, finishing our drinks, and mapping out how far FIG was from Social (the wine bar we went to- btw I liked it).

"Food Is Good"

“Food Is Good”

And we were off! Into the dark night. Cutting down alleyways for the quickest possible way to FIG. We were hungry, and I had skipped the drunk stop, and was just in sleepy town.

We were so excited about FIG. Everyone said it was the place to GO in Charleston. We rolled up to the restaurant around 930, and were seated almost immediately. They offered us a drink, we declined, and inquired about a bed, and then decided on the tomato tatin tarte.

Best decision of my life!

Scratch that- OUR lives. Both Dan and I agreed- that was the best part of our trip- that appetizer. It was a creamy heirloom tomato mixture. I really have no idea how they made tomatoes so tasty (I love tomatoes, and this was the best tomato dish I have tasted. That’s like one of the Kardashians saying he was the most beautiful black man ever). And it came with a creamy, goat-cheesy-mozzarella-like dippy-mixture on the side. DEE-F***ing-LISH-US! It was seriously one of the best things I have ever tasted in my life. Seriously. Like, I went home and googled how to make it, and gave up, deciding I would only fail if I tried. That’s how freaking good it was. I probably could have just said to the waitress “Keep ’em coming” and filled up on tomato tatin tarte all night.

Anyway, so I ordered the fish dish- Red Puggy or something. It is cooked well, and executed well. But it sat on a salsa that was lacking flavor and complexity (in my opinion). I don’t want to make it sound bad at all. It was really good. But nothing compared the Grocery’s fish from Thursday night’s dinner.

Then, came dessert. I honestly think I was asleep with my eyes open. We got coffee, but it was too hot for me to down, and I needed more than a few sips to keep me awake at that point (it was about 1030pm, after a day of walking around, spending time in the sun, and about 4-5 drinks, and you know what, Grandma goes to sleep around 930pm. I own that!)

Dessert was amazing (or so I heard). No, seriously, I just had to look it up- because I forgot what we had. And, it was delicious. I was just that tired, and basically I fell asleep in my dessert. One dessert (which Dan said was his favorite of the weekend) the Sticky Sorghum Cake (topped with cinnamon ice cream). I vaguely remember wanting to snuggle that cake hard, but can’t really accurately remember the flavors. The other was a Torta Caprese (amaretto ice cream with caramel on top, and a cookie or something underneath).

We immediately got a cab, and were grateful to get to bed as soon as we got into the hotel room.

Day 3

By this point, we had walked around most of the North and West end of Charleston. We had walked by a place called Glazed, and made a mental note of it. Dan sprung alive in the morning, declaring we were going to Glazed. If you know anything about Dan, he doesn’t typical spring, jump, run, or anything else until afternoon, so it was pre-designed- we were going to Glazed. I bet that fatty even dreamt of it Friday night.

Glazed is ah-may-zing! (I linked to their menu because it is truly food porn). No, seriously. If you like anything sweet, go there. If you do not like anything sweet, I venture to change your mind: Go to Glazed in Charleston. We were cautious, getting two doughnuts each (caramel-covered apple and mocha for me, Apple Bacon fritter and something else– I forget– for Dan). My caramel covered apple was delicious! It was like an apple pie in the middle, doughnut around it, and a caramel-apple icing drizzled across the top. So moist and just great. The mocha was great too, but my apple was smack your mama good! And one of the best things was being able to watch them prepare the doughnuts right before your eyes. We could have killed more, but I think this was the one time I didn’t even offer any of mine to Dan, and ate it all, then asked if he wanted a bite (as I was swallowing the last of it). I inhale doughnuts like I want a bigger ass overnight.

Hungry yet?

Hungry yet?

God, thinking about Glazed, I can’t even remember what else we did on Saturday. I have a doughnut problem…

Oh! We went over to Fort Sumter, the beginning of the Civil War; where we were educated about how the South didn’t surrender to the North at Fort Sumter. They actually abandoned Fort Sumter and headed for Columbia, SC.

an old man saw me struggling for a couple-selfie, and offered to take this one for us.

a man saw me struggling for a couple-selfie, and offered to take this one for us.

because a tour of a fort wouldn't be complete unless you pretend to fire a howitzer (imho)

because a tour of a fort wouldn’t be complete unless you pretend to fire a howitzer (imho)

We then went back to the hotel, to get ready for our (first) appropriately timed dinner reservation- 6:00pm- at The Ordinary. I got all fancy. I curled my hair, wore heels, and a pretty dress my old college roommate gave to me. I’ve gained a little bit of weight since I’m not running as much, and this dress now fits PERFECTLY! I felt like the most beautiful girl in the room (in the whole wide room).

Anyway, it was perfect weather. My dress flowed in the wind. It felt very romantical. The Ordinary was basically across the street from The Grocery (where we went on Thursday night), and in the same neighborhood as Glazed. It’s in an old bank, and we got a table upstairs, where it was a little quieter, with just a few tables- maybe 5 or 6 tables; which had a view of the downstairs. We started off with lobster ceviche (fancy pants!), and one of each of the 6 different oysters. They came with four different sauce options- horseradish, red wine vinaigrette, a watermelon blend (which was a great complement to the oysters surprisingly enough!), and something else that they traditionally serve that I didn’t try. The lobster ceviche was good too. We had beer, so I felt more at home than the fancy cocktails at other restaurants. I felt like I could order a PBR in that dress, and still be classy. I just felt in my element Saturday night. Dan and I meshed well- just laughing and enjoying ourselves.

The Ordinary is an oyster bar. They have plenty of small plates and large plates- hot or cold, oysters, seafood towers (wish we had more people to order one of those), and sides. Most of the options on the menu sounded good honestly. It was that perfect restaurant situation- there are so many good options, it takes a while for you to narrow it down. We ordered the Amberjack schnitzel (which was really just lightly breaded and pan-fried, and came with two sauces). One of the sauces was delectable; and one sauce we avoided at all costs (it was green and tasted weird). Dan and I laughed as we watched each other try to scrape it off. 🙂 The fish was still amazing, and a great portion to share (about 8-10 oz of fish). We also ordered fried okra, because when in Charleston… I would certainly go there again, with more people and basically order “one of everything!”

And then, there was dessert. I thought this place had the best dessert, but I think that’s because I was awake for it. We couldn’t remember everything our waiter went over, but something chocolate and something blueberry stuck out in our minds. Turns out it was a flourless chocolate torte (with hazelnut ice cream or something… I don’t exactly remember, but I almost licked the plate to finish) and a lemon-blueberry custard/parfait. Dan stopped eating the desserts, saying he was full. So I grabbed it and was double-fisting the desserts when our waiter next dropped by the table- chocolate deliciousness a fork in my left hand, parfait cup in my right. Whatever. It was good, so I wasn’t ashamed.

[Besides, I like big butts and I cannot lie…]

It seemed far too early to head home, and the sun was just setting, so we popped over to STARS for our final sunset in Charleston. It was gorgeous. And after a great night, we went back to the hotel, to get to sleep at a normal hour. Hominy Grill was set for the morning. And we didn’t want to miss that.

Day 4 (final day)

We got up, waited until 9am, and headed over to Hominy Grill (they open at 930am, and we were hungry so we wanted to get there around opening time).

Hominy Grill has some significance… When we did the Palmetto200, our van got up and crushed an entire table at Hominy Grill. I remember it as super delicious, and can’t help but think of Bruce’s inner 40-something-year-old-fat-woman asking for dessert everywhere.

bartender: “And what will you have to drink tonight?”

Bruce: “You got a dessert menu?… Thanks!” (then to the group) “Alright, who’s ready to pound some desserts with me. They’ve only got 5! …c’mon… Chandi, you’re a tiny lil’ thing. you should really eat something…”

Hominy Grill

So, this trip, we were finishing it off with Hominy Grill. We got there in perfect timing, and were escorted to our seats immediately. Dan ordered the Big Nasty (again), and I ordered a tomato omelette, which was delicious! We restrained ourselves from ordering dessert, as we felt bloated from the weekend. We made our way down to the Battery to walk around a little, I got a Charleston mug to add to my collection, and we got in the car and headed back to Raleigh.

We rode the vacation high for a few days before reality set in.

And that’s it for this time…

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another success

Yesterday was a great Monday! Work was great, though a little on the early side (I had worked 8.5 hours by 3:30pm). As a reward, I wanted to run. But I also wanted to swim. So you know, why not both?

I ran a quick 1-miler around the block. I hit 0.92miles and was at 8:30, so I gunned it the last bit to get a sub-9:00 pace. It was hot, and harder than typical for a run that short. And I used to be able to maintain that for much longer, but I had been active the past few days, so I was happy with that…

And onto my swim…

Then Dan and I packed our bags and headed to the pool for a “few laps”… My goal is just to get comfortable and find my rhythm again. I am getting faster though. I did 10x25m, with 10-second “rest” between reps. Then rested for 2 mins. Then, started a 5x50m, but scrapped that idea at 3x50m; and rested for 2 minutes again (after my run, I was winded, which precludes my abdominal cramping). Then, I hopped back into the pool, planning to do another 10x25m, but deciding I’d see how things went.

And, I got it back. I remembered how to “pull” through the water. I ignored weaker people telling me to bend my arms (haha), and kept straight arms overhead, but bended my arms and pulled myself through the water. This sped me up quickly. I remembered to keep kicking casually while rotating to breathe. Things seemed like they were starting to click. And I kept passing Dan, with minimal extra effort [Just to note, Dan swam straight for 35:00, probably doing about 1.2 miles? So, it’s like a sprinter saying to a marathoner “I can go faster than you!” … It’s stupid, but it felt good]

I finished 750m in 22 minutes, including the 4:00 of rest. It felt great! I actually experienced a little endorphin high. I’m not sure if it was the run + swim + lack of pain that made me feel so good, or knowing I was going to Trophy, or being with Dan, or what, but I basked in the glory of a good Monday afternoon/night.

After our swim, we showered, and headed over to Trophy for a pizza and beer. I have to say- Trophy has the best pizza around! Their veggie pizzas kind of look like a salad on top of a pizza, and are delicious (and guilt-free).  I wanted to try their feature pizza– “fire sauce”, mozzarella, kale, lamb, and roasted bell peppers. Sounded awesome, but Dan wasn’t up for it, and Best Dressed is my fave, so we went with that. It’s a meat lovers paradise– pepperoni, bacon, lamb sausage (makes the pizza), spinach, red onions, with tomato sauce and mozzarella. I plan to grab it for the guys after they move us (since I’m all gimpy and can’t do heavy lifting without major pain).

Oh, you know…

A typical Monday night

Okay, maybe not yet. But hoping it will be my typical Monday.

[And anyone wondering, I tried their American Saison; the “Next Best in Show”… which was a good solid beer]

welcome back Friday

Oh, hey there weekend. Its been too long since we hung out.

The past few weeks have been chaotic. This week was no exception. I worked 9-12 hours per day Mon-Thurs. And I always look forward to Friday– worst case scenario, I work a 8-hour shift; but I never stay late on Fridays. Okay, maybe “never” is harsh, but it’s like a religion, you just don’t do it.

“Welcome back” is two-parts. (1) Is because it feels like it has been far too long since I’ve seen Friday, although I know that is physically improbable, and (2) I went for a “normal run” last night. I realized on Monday night’s intervals, that I haven’t just ran 3 miles (easy pace) in the LONGEST time. Intervals/speed are rewarding for me. I love knowing that I only have to maintain a super-fast pace for 30 seconds to 2-minutes, then I get to rest (walk, jog, whatever I need to do to recover).

So, I ran. No expectations I never have “no expectations”… I was expecting to run a decent 9:30 pace, but knew I’d probably shoot for my normal 9:00, probably push it a little hard, and ruin any plans for the night by getting high on my muscle relaxers. I have a prescription. I swear it’s not a problem…

Instead, I maintained a 10:22 pace for 2 miles in 100-degree weather. Then another 0.5 to round things out on the air conditioned treadmill. Treadmill felt so much better. Outside the air was hot and sticky, and my abdomen cramped, and breathing was labored. Inside it was easy to maintain a 9:30 pace. But that’s besides the point.

I walked back to my apartment, stretching along the way, and popped open a Dos Equis (leftover from a Mexican/taco night Dan and I had a few weeks back). Drinking my beer during my shower (yes, sometimes I do that), I waited for the pain and tightening to set in. It kind of didn’t.

Dan and I went to sushi. I got four rolls for myself (see picture below). Ate all of them, and my stomach hurt from the swelling. But it was delicious.

20130720-175232.jpg

And my Saturday started. This morning began at 630am (What can I say? I get up early now). Dan and I drank our coffee. Then went for a swim. I got some great coaching- bend my arms more and keep my head low, just twisting it slightly. I completed 10x25m laps, then a few more (6?) 50m laps before someone else wanted the lane. Dan did a mile or so., in 30:00 (typical). I wanted to do more but we didn’t have time. But I felt great! I still believe I’m a natural swimmer. I just have to get it back again 🙂

So happy packing Saturday to me now…

silly spontaneous beer date

Saturday night, Dan and I decided to make a night of it. Just for us, and actually go do “something”

So, I curled my hair (shocker!), and got to his place around 5pm. We went to Neomonde for dinner. After munching on a delicious kale salad (and two pieces of baklava), we headed over to Raleigh Brewing Company, to lay low until World War Z started at 7pm.

Raleigh Brewing Company (now we just call it “RBC”) is a great local hang-out. It’s dog-friendly, has great craft beers for $4, and has become one of my favorite spots over the past few weeks. The first time we went, I had the “House of Clay” (Rye IPA), and loved it so much, I had a few more. I also tasted most of the other beers at our table, and they were all delicious.

However, this time; it was busy (fresh off a brewery tour, and all the money was going to a Leukemia Research fund, so a lot of families were hanging around). We had to go outside. We tried to stick out the 90-degree weather; as I began glistening 🙂 Also, I got the City of Blokes, and was satisfied with it.

To make Dan happy, I suggested we go to Mission Valley, which is one of the oldest movie theatres in the area, and pretty run-down, but I was more interested in the “it’s close to RBC”… As we were sitting there, we decided that was stupid, and we’d rather drive to the suburbs than go to a “bad” movie theatre. So we headed to North Hills for a 6:50 showing of World War Z.

It was 6:05pm. We sat around for a few minutes. I got some buncha crunch. It was then 6:15pm. So we decided we had time for a beer at Fox and the Hound. We ordered, and drank fast (I had a Bell’s Two-Hearted and Dan had a Green Man IPA). We giggled, and got back to the theatre by 6:48pm. Perfect! I mean, there’s usually previews, and no one wants to watch those…

We walked into the theatre, and the only seats were in the front row.

cool

We sat down about a foot in front of the screen; basically below the screen, with a straight shot up. So we were staring at an odd angle. And giggling the whole time. Dan decided to go talk to the manager about a rain check. Seriously, I couldn’t read the words coming across the screen quickly enough because I had to move my head and scan from one side of the room to the other. It was crazy.

So, instead of sitting there, we wandered across the street to World of Beer. A lot of my running buddies will meet there on occasion for a run/beer. I expected 100s of beers on tap.

There were maybe 20 on tap. And nothing your typical restaurant or bar wouldn’t have. Actually, I remember a lot of Sierra Nevada and New Belgium. Not an insult, but I could get that anywhere. World of Beer implies various beers, on tap. If I wanted to drink a bottle of some worldly beer… Anyway! After glancing through their bottle list, I decided I was going Californian for the night. And began the night with a Ballast Point Big Eye IPA. It was very smooth. Hoppy, citrusy, with a foam. It absolutely hit the spot. It’s not my first time with Ballast Point, and the Sculpin is one of my favorite IPAs. I thought the Big Eye was a little milder than the Sculpin, but that might be a failing memory… I love their Sextant Oatmeal Stout (I’m not sure where they get the name, but if it’s a good beer; they don’t really have to justify their naming…) All-around, the Big Eye IPA is a great pick any time of the year. Of course, I’m partial to San Diego breweries…

So back to World of Beer (Raleigh style)… We laughed about stupid stuff, and we talked about serious items too. It came time for another beer, and I didn’t know what to get; but decided to go with a Lost Coast. I told Dan to decide while I hit the bathroom, and came back to a surprise beer.

It was fruity. And very light, and crisp. Maybe even a little “fluffy” or “fizzy”. It was the Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat. It was very good. It was definitely fruity. Like, reminded me of a Blue Moon, but higher taste complexity (not too much higher though…) If you want to look like a beer snob, but want to stick with something fruity (as opposed to hoppy), the Lost Colony Tangerine Wheat Beer (and at 5.0%, it’s more mild). I thought it was perfect for a hot summer night in July. A mid-March beer? Nope. Actually, I’d up that to a hell no. But, it was July, so I loved it; and would order it again 🙂

So, before we knew it, it was 9:30pm. I was good and tipsy. And realizing this was going to be an interesting movie-going experience. And warned Dan I may be fast asleep by 11pm (so just after the opening credits). We walked back to the move theatre, and got great seats this time- 30 minutes before the movie started. And the movie itself (World War Z) was pretty good.

Thankfully, we didn’t get kicked out (I was pretty obnoxious, telling Dan what I would do, how I wouldn’t die, etc.)

And then, we went home and we went to bed. It was a good end to a 4-day weekend.

On a running note, I have gotten up to about 2.5 miles per week (woo!), and hope to continue to upward trend, while maintaining some semblance of speed 🙂

being a spectator

(And I will never do an Olympic triathlon)

Yesterday, Dan had his first tri ever. He has a half ironman in 6 weeks. And it’s about time he actually complete one triathlon before then. I mean, he’s not even training (kidding! He’s training plenty! Just not crazy, and over-training like I would be)

So, as a dutiful girlfriend and fellow athlete, I decided to go for moral support, and to help pace him on the run part.

We got there bright and early at 8am, and wandered through the body markings area and I started SoccerMom’ing it up- making friends with all the other ‘supporters’.

The swim was first (1500m or almost a mile), and the first guy came charging out of the water in like 18:30 or something… Insane! And he had a few minute lead on the others. We all cheered violently when we saw the first white cap come out of the water (40+ male), and even harder when the first pink cap came running out (female).

Still no Dan.
But it was like 30-minutes, so these people were smoking it! Finally a group emerged with Dan at 37:30. I hit ‘lap time’ on my iPhone’s timer, and ran to the transition area sidelines, as Dan got ready for the bike. He seemed to take his time changing out of his wetsuit and preparing for the ride, and told me he got kicked several times and got a little freaked during the swim (so it was a tad slower than he had hoped).

Yep, he sat down to change. I would have too!

Yep, he eventually sat down. I would have too!

And he took off, biking around the lake for 26.5 miles. I made mental notes that I could run that far…

mouth full of shot blocks

mouth full of shot blocks

We had no idea how long this ride would take. He had been going 16-18 mph with a local bike group . But, I couldn’t do the simplest math, so I just waited until I saw him come to the transition area.

Finally, an hour and a half after he left for the bike, he came rolling in. The clock read 2:12, but the winner had already finished (2:04! That’s crazy!). I cheered as loudly as I could to get Dan’s attention, but he was tired and the music was loud. So I jogged/walked to the run start to help him get started.

Dan is fast. BTW. Like 20-minute 5K, and could probably pull a 41 or 42 minute 10K time. I’m not that fast, so I thought I’d pace him a little, and if he was really hurting, I’d stay with him longer.

I saw him and started smiling (like a dope, waiting for him to see me). He finally saw me, and I set off with him. He told me a little about the tri, and told me he felt like he couldn’t get his feet back under him after cycling for that long. So we started at nice easy 8’s. And I stayed with him for .34 miles before I had to drop off.

Look him taking out that old man. Who cares if the 75-year old started 4 minutes later?

Look him taking out that old man. Who cares if the 75-year old started 4 minutes later?

The course was an out-and-back 5K twice. Which made it easy for me to pace in pieces. I walked ahead and cheered for other runners, as they finished up their tri. I kept walking until I saw a turn, and stopped there, waiting for Dan. He wanted to finish in less than 3:00, which meant he had to finish the 10K in less than 48:00, which is very do-able for him. But would be hard, and I could tell he was getting tired.

Have I mentioned Dan doesn’t really do distance? Like 8-9 miles (in an hour and change) is the longest he trains. 🙂

I finally saw him, and I felt a surge of energy, so I wanted to stay with him for close to a mile (back to the 5K completion). We were pushing 7:40s. And I felt strong, but could tell Dan was struggling to keep that pace. So I stayed with him a little longer, and we pushed down to 7:20s before I needed to drop off again (after 0.7 miles). And he was almost to the 5K marker/ turn-around. I hit my iPhone timer for another lap (25min or so), but that was including his transition time.

I looked for him. I ran with him again for another 0.5 miles. He was struggling. Barely keeping up my 7:45 pace, so we dropped down to a 8:00 pace, to let him adjust before the home stretch. I made jokes that I was taking it easy on him now, because I wouldn’t on the last mile.  I wanted to make sure he came in under 3:00, and the run is his easiest part.

I dropped off again before the same turn (just by the final turn-around). I glanced at his overall time- 2:50. 2:51… Okay, Dan, you need to get here by 2:52 to safely bring it in before 3:00. 2:53 may work… C’mon, c’mon!

Finally, I saw him again (clock read 2:52:30), and we took off. One mile left babe. You’re at 2:52 on the clock, you can do it but you’re gonna have to work for it! I forgot that meant I’d have to run that fast too… And pushed quickly down to a 6:30 pace. I told him to just stay steady with my legs, Just stay with this pace. You’re doing great. We’re down in the 6:30s. Keep it up. Keep it steady, etc. We got to the finish so quickly. And I felt really strong (I know, it’s not about me, but I can’t usually run that fast). I gave him a final pat on the ass, and yelled ‘Bring it on it!’ And just cheered as he hit the final 0.2 miles. As I peeled off and ran through the cycle finish, I stopped my timer- 2:59:02, but I had no idea when he finished…

He had finished in 2:58:40! Wooo!

"It hurts to smile. This is the best you're getting out of me"

“It hurts to smile. This is the best you’re getting out of me”

I was so proud. And proud to have been a part of it, and able to help. Turns out we ran the last mile (according to my garmin) in sub-6:00 pace. Not sure if that’s accurate. But we were flying. And eventually going too fast for me to glance down, so it’s possible. And he brought it in in under 7-minutes FTW (from 5 mile mark to the finish, or 1.2 miles).

We went to shower (ugh! Boys smell so gross after endurance events), and then to Raleigh Times for a celebratory beer (Mother Earth Second Wind. Mother Earth makes good stuff and the name attracted me to it. It was a good solid American Pale Ale).

And in case you were curious, Dan finished the 10K portion in 46:21, faster than I can run a 10K, and all in all, a good solid time. Proudest girlfriend ever. And glad I got to be a part of it all.

Ironman will be interesting. I might have to run the whole half marathon with him. To help him keep a slower, steady pace (which is still fast for me). We will see. We joked that I might have to pace Tom, his brother, as well. And I was like, Ummm. I ain’t running a marathon to support you two 🙂 with a kiss. Also we estimated he will finish the Ironman in 6.5 hours. Better bring my sunblock (I’ll be in the sun 930am-230pm then). And I’ll give you all the highlights for that as well.

typical weekend rant

It didn’t hit me until Megs said it out loud “look at you two (Dan and I)… In a totally normal, healthy relationship; it’s almost inspiring”

Friday night, we ordered a pizza, grabbed some beer from the new brewing company basically in Dan’s back yard (Trophy), and watched an epically horrible movie Abraham Lincoln: the Vampire Hunter.

In all seriousness, it was a good Friday night, but I kind of felt like the boring old couple. We’re checking out some new restaurant tonight since “something came up” with my brother/sis-in-law/new nephew. (Hey guys, when you have a new baby, just be upfront. “I am exhausted and am tired of everyone coming into town” or “I’d rather sleep” or a million other things, but giving a vague apology leads me to believe I’m not getting the whole story and leads to feeling of exclusion…)

Oh well.

I had thought about running to our meet-up (2.5 miles), running the easy 7 with the group, and then the 2.5 miles back for an even 12 miles. And thought it sounded great; some free alone time, but some group time too. Except it as pouring and 37 degrees out. And had been raining all night, so puddles all over the place. So I drove to the group meet-up, where 2 of our group participants showed up (we have three mentors), and I ran an even easy 10:30 pace with one participant and one mentor. So I guess I’ll do a long run tomorrow…

And I came home, got on facebook (after a hot shower), like every other American, and saw this- as if mocking me.

Run to start the weekend

Or to end the weekend

Praying for winter to be over soon. Also, summer running clothes are so much cuter, and take up less roomy when dirty 🙂

Don’t worry. I let the picture mock me without feeling guilty about crawling back into my warm comfy bed… 🙂

Date #2 and challenge update

So, this whole “do something active every day” is hard to find time for.

Yesterday was busy. I had to leave work early (3pm) to go to the iPhone doctor Apple Store and get a replacement iPhone. No worries, I have new phone- woo! …But lost all my pictures and music (which is backed up to my computer).I had to activate my phone, which should be easy, but took 3 calls to Verizon, because my mom was dodging their calls (WTF?!), and her voicemail box was full, and I had texted her 4 times earlier to tell her what was up, and I had even emailed her. The problem was I didn’t know our account’s password.

I told the third (and final) verizon representative I would send up a smoke signal, and hope my mom saw it… He thought it was amusing.

So, at 6pm, I emailed Dan the old-school way, from my computer, to say I was almost on my way, and should be there by 645. As soon as I got to his place, I was like “WHERES YOUR PHONE?!” And immediately texted my mom, and instructed her to text/call his cell phone with the password. My mom’s response? She emailed me at 11pm the password. Which I got this morning when I got into work. And am happy to report, my life iPhone is up and running again.

So I got to Dan’s, and we hopped in the car for dinner, then to the fun. concert. It was a fun people-watching concert. As in this kind of people watching-

I hate to admit this- but I totally felt hipster. Because I followed the lead singer of fun. from when he was in The Format. Because I’m totally underground like that. haha!

But yeah. Most of the people there were wearing scarves (boys included), and were complaining about the beer selection, and how everyone around them was a sell-out. Oh my gosh! It all made me laugh so hard. Just listening to some of them.

So, we got back at like 10, and Dan wanted to wash all the sweaty hipsters off him, so took a shower. And I had to find time for a little fitness action, so I took the time to work my glutes and hip abductors. He got out of the shower, and jsut started laughing, as I’m exercising on the floor, at 11pm. Date #2 completed. 🙂

Maybe I’ll just go back to running, and not worry about other fitness stuff. It seems slack to work out for 10 minutes and call it the “same” as running for an hour… Today’s plan is to go for a short run while I’m getting an oil change. Yep, I do that. They always ask “are you going to wait here?” And my reply is always “Well, how long will it take?” And I plan my running distance accordingly. And then the mechanics look at me weirdly, as I just take off running.

Tomorrow, I am moving my gay best friend, so that will be athletic. He is on the third floor, and has a LOT of stuff, so lots of stair climbs with weights. Yeah!

So, Day 7: 2×20 hip abductor leg-bends (I never know the real names of these exercises), and 2×20 fire-hydrants, and 2×20 “pizzas” (on knees, kick leg up toward sky. I never understood why my coach called them pizzas, but it stuck with me)

Happy Weekend! I hope you all get to sleep in some tomorrow, and you enjoy tonight- crisp, freezing cold air and all!

Sometimes I date…

This is my all-about-Dan post.

Where to begin? We met on a hot August day. Nah, I’m kidding. Though it might have been August. Telling about how I met him is parallel to how our Tuna 200 team was created. We were looking for extra people, and I guess Sarah posted it on facebook. And Dave, a guy she played kickball with for a season, decided he had always wanted to do a relay. And talked his best friend, Dan, into signing up with the other 10 strangers.

So, we all met one night after work to divide the legs. I guess that’s how we met. Though that part isn’t too exciting. I remember first impression- he seemed shy and humble about his vet status (he had done 2-3 relays before?). Dan and Dave were the outsiders- of the 12 on our team, 9 had trained together for 4 months in the spring, including 3-4 runs per week. Honestly, I remember telling Dan “Sarah will be here soon” (as if he knew her, not realizing he was not Dave, and did not know Sarah). And him looking at me blankly, like “ummm okay.” (Probably thinking Sarah’s the team captain right? Why is she singling me out to tell me this?)

Dan and Dave are quite the pair. Dave is younger, energetic, and talkative. On the other hand, Dan is more reserved; he holds back and listens before he talks. So you can see why they’re best friends. And they really bring the best out in each other.

Well, Allison and I wanted to get to know them since we’d be spending 24+ hours in a van with them, running. So we invited them (and all the other relay runners) to a tempo run, which soon became a standing tradition for me and the boys. I didn’t really get to know them over night. I eventually ended up going for a 8.5 mile run with Dave (look back). Then, that Saturday, I met the boys for a drink.

That night is when I started realizing I may like Dan (which for me, was a problem- we have mutual friends, and still had like a month until our relay race, and I tend to mess things up really quickly, so I did not want to like him). We talked a lot that night. Though I wasn’t like “OH MY GOD! I LIKE HIM SO MUCH!” … I was thinking, “yeah, maybe I do like him…” I did a few more runs with the boys.

Then, I had a few lone runs with Dan. D’oh!  I could swallow any thoughts or feelings in a group. The first lone run with Dan was miserable, as in kind of hilly (and my third run in 24 hours), and I could feel my legs cramping up. And he runs about 1-2 minutes/mile faster than me (my “easy” pace is 9:30; his “easy” pace is about 8:00). The next one- it was supposed to be me, Dave, and Dan. And Dave cancelled (again!). But I still needed to get in a somewhat-fast 8-10 miles for the day, and Dan had been itching for a longer run. So he planned it out. And we met at his place. I didn’t write about this at the time, because, well, because I wasn’t sure if he felt the same way as I did.

But, it was a great run. Like, one of those runs, where you are easily going 30-seconds faster than your easy pace, but don’t even notice, because the conversation is flowing. And the person you’re running with is challenging you with hills and speeding up slightly, then falling back some. We ran 8.7 miles, at 8:45 pace. Much faster than usual for me. And then, we walked around a bit. And got some water. I think it was also this like perfect September weather- and was just getting dark as we got back toward his place.

And I knew I was bitten. And I had 2 weeks until Tuna200, so I basically made sure I avoided him, as I may do something incredibly stupid before spending 24+ hours in a van with him, and 4 other running friends.

It sounds silly, but even being around him (and Dave) during the relay made me feel more at-ease. The two of them were like my family, we all took care of each other.

So, after the relay…

I was sick. And in a stick-to-my-training-plan-so-I-don’t-fuck-up-the-past-five-months’-training mode, so no unplanned speedwork, no longer than 6-mile runs on weeknights. And then it was Dave (a different Dave)’s birthday. And he had met Dan and Dave, and liked the idea of not being surrounded by girls on his birthday, so he said I could invite them. And Dave (Dan’s bestie) was out of town, so I hesitated at inviting just Dan out. But decided it was okay, and little bit of a bold move, but I’d see if we could hang out just the two of us.

And with some liquid courage, moves were made and accepted. I don’t mean to be vague. But it all happened so fast, that I’m not sure who kissed who first. Though, I think I was definitely being flirtatious and a little handsy.

And I spent the night at Dan’s that night. Well, we didn’t really sleep. But I’ll be classy. Honestly, we talked a lot (too). About how I really liked him, but didn’t want to fuck up any friendship, because I also really liked him as a friend, and how he really liked me, but he totally respected me and didn’t want to make any moves, and feel like a dick because I wasn’t interested. He reassured me it was more than a one-time thing. And I think he wanted to make the walk of shame with me through the marathon to prove a point, that he wasn’t ashamed, and didn’t want to hide “us” from our friends.

And the next weekend, I was in Richmond for the marathon (but he came over Wednesday night to help me carb load at Mellow Mushroom). And I went to his place Sunday night after the marathon, to unwind and get a little stretch and massage (and he is genuinely interested when I recap my “and then, at mile 23. oh my gosh!” stories). And then, the next weekend, he was in Chicago, visiting his sister. But he came over that Wednesday night. I told him he was going to have to take me out on a real date. And he didn’t even blink, like Of course! I was planning on it!

And then, I saw him last Wednesday (before Thanksgiving), and we did the Turkey Trot “together”, in that we stood together before, and looked for each other after we finished (I maintained 8:30s- miraculously, while he maintained 7:00s). Can I just say I am awkward? I met Dan and Dave at packet pick-up Wed night, and then the three of us went to grab a beer. That was the first time I’d seen Dave since Dan and I started dating (and Dave knows all the details). And at one point, Dan totally moved his chair so it was next to mine, and I think I recoiled. Like the idea of being PDA in front of Dave just threw me. But then! Thursday morning is was like 30 degrees, and I (stupidly) was wearing a tank with arm sleeves, so I was a little cold, and just kept snuggling into him for warmth before the race. Apparently my need for warmth supersedes my need to not be that couple

So, Saturday, he took me out. On a real date. I met him at his place, because he basically lives in downtown Raleigh (I live in the suburbs; it’s closer to work). But he was all dressed up, like dress pants, button down. The works. And had gotten me flowers (and put them in a coffee mug in the sink- he didn’t have a vase).

#notroses
(I hate roses)

We went to this nice small-plate/ tapas restaurant, where I ordered a $20 glass of wine. Oops! (Talk about awkward moments. I’d been reading the wine list upside-down, and was asking the waiter for a spicy red. And glanced down and saw they had a Spanish Tempranillo, and began saying it as I basically had a stroke when I saw the price. There were no other Tempranillo’s on the menu, so I couldn’t play it off as anything else. And Dan just started ordering his wine, without blinking. Probably because he didn’t see the price, until the check came. But, then, he knows me. And knows I wouldn’t purposely order the most expensive wine, or even knowingly do that). But dinner was great! The fish tacos were the best thing on the menu- with a wasabi guacamole. Delicious!

What? You don’t want to read about the food?

Also, it was like 28 degrees that night. So I was snuggling into him as we were walking back to the car. And he said ‘See? You do couple things’ and I replied ‘Yes, when it’s cold :)’ So, I would love to say that he dropped me off. And I gave him a kiss goodnight, etc. But that did not happen. I had already stayed the night several times, so Saturday was no different. And for the first time in spending the night with him, I slept through the night. It was great! One of those forget you are sleeping until the morning sun hits your eyes. And I woke up next to someone who genuinely cares about me. It’s been a little bit since that’s happened for me.

And we had coffee. And bananas. I’ll have to remind him to stock up on eggs/sausage/cheese/something that can be cooked in the future… And then, I was off to Sheryl’s studio for the best yoga ever. And back home.

My GBF (gay best friend), Josh, is in town for training for work this week. So, Dan and I are meeting him at my favorite Mexican place- Chubby’s. Thursday, we are going to see fun. And Saturday, he is hosting a Holiday Christmas Party, which my presence has been requested. Oh, and next Sunday is a Holiday Game Night, my friends do at every major (and minor) holidays, which he was invited to. My friends have basically adopted him as one of us. He just fits in my life. Which is nice.

Running family and real family…

Today is Thanksgiving.

For me, that means beginning the day early with ~3,000 other runners for the Ridgewood Turkey Trot 8K (5 miles). In 2010, I was training for a half marathon, and someone suggested I do the turkey trot. I was planning to do a 5-6 mile training that day, so I signed up.

And something about running through the old neighborhoods off Ridge Road. It feels like home. Running through all the piles and piles of orange and brown leaves. The crisp, cold air. The calm, that doesn’t generally accompany races. It’s like we are all there for one reason- to cancel out the food we plan to eat later to give thanks for our ability to run.

So, my first time at this Turkey Trot, I had no idea what to expect, but thought I ran 8’s, so would finish in ~40 minutes. I went out really strong. At Mile 1, I had done a sub-8. Woo! Then, I started hitting the hills of Raleigh. And then, I hit the last hill. Basically Ridge Road is a slow, steady up-hill for the last 2 miles. And I just had gassed it way too early, so I (sadly) walked for about a mile. And managed to finish in 44:30-something. And was devastated.

After doing a few more 8K’s, I realized 45:00 is about my average, and not to expect any faster.

Today was different.

Last night, I met Dan and Dave at packet pick-up and we enjoyed some beer out on the patio. And some great conversation, and good laughs. Then, I spent the night at Dan’s. I just relaxed. It was such a nice night.

And he woke up at 6am, I woke up closer to 630. And got coffee, and slowly made out way to the cold winter air outside. I wore a tank top (with my Brooks arm sleeves), and simple capri tights (not fleece lined). Everyone we met was decked out in major winter gear. I was thinking Guys, c’mon! It’s ~40 degrees, the sun is shining, and it’s only 5-miles. And hugging Dan for body warmth.

We headed over to the start to find our pace groups. And Dan and Dave convinced me to start in the 7:00-9:00 pace group. Dan had been thinking 7-something, Dave was thinking sub-40. I was thinking my blisters hurt this morning in bed… And I just ran a marathon 12-days ago. Where is Steve (first timer), and Oh! Sondra said she was running an 11:00… But I hung with the boys until the start, and fell back quickly.

My hands were freezing (as in hard to move them, and they didn’t hurt), so I pulled my arm sleeves down over them. And wished I’d brought gloves. Once I warmed up, I started taking charge on the hills. Tearing off toward the sidewalk, and running on the outside during turns, in order to pass people, and find some “space”. At halfway, I wondered what idiot was blaring their music, and realized it was coming from my butt. So, I reached back to turn it off, and saw the dreaded time. Why did I start this app? I thought to myself, and saw the time- 23:00 (2.58 miles in)… Okay, not bad, I want 45-minutes. That works fine. You ran a marathon 12 freaking days ago. Just finish.

Except, I also used to run this way back for every tempo run for a good 10-12 weeks. It’s like my body just knew that, and kept pushing more and more up the hill. Until I saw the Steeples (a church that’s about a mile away from finish), and tried to give it as much as I could. And then I saw the parking lot. Which always tricks us into thinking the finish line is there (it’s not! You have to run a small zig-zag of about 200 meters in), but I always kick it too early. And as I approached the final turn, I heard Dan yelling my name, saw the time was in the 42’s, and noticed everyone was blazing past me.

I stopped my watch- 42:50. I’ll take it (chip time was actually 42:34, but I always start it early/ end it late). So, I PR’ed by 2 minutes. I looked for Dan and Dave. Found Dave, who finished in 39:50-something, and then we wandered for Dan… who finished in ~36 minutes (woo! woo! That’s fast to me. The winners are usually like 30 minutes).

So, I started off the day with some people who always inspire me, and make me feel like I can accomplish anything. My running family. And starting the day with Dan. Well, that was nice. It’s been a long time since I wanted to see someone I dated on a holiday.

So, then family time. And oh my gosh. I am so. freaking. stuffed. Like, laying in my bed. Thinking, I will have to run a good bit tomorrow to try and get rid of it all. …And looking forward to our first official date on Saturday.

HAPPY GOBBLE! GOBBLE! I hope you all have something in your life to be thankful for.

Me- my health and happiness. They both take work to get to, but are always worth fighting for 🙂

Carb loading and sleepovers

Ah

(That was a relaxed sigh)

You know those days? You wake up. The sun is peaking through the red and orange leaves. And you step outside bundled up in your coat (it was sub-30 last night). And breathe in the crisp cool air. Sip some coffee. Go to Dunkin Donuts, eat 6 doughnuts for breakfast. Yeah.

Life is good.

Carb loading and sleepovers. Nothing much better than that.

They relax me. I never knew how much fun it is to eat 4 slices of pizza (Mellow Mushroom pizza loaded with various items), and to get 6 doughnuts on the way to work, and be thinking These will be gone by tomorrow and have absolutely no guilt. In fact, I have pride.

This is part of my training. Julie (my “coach”) said I should carb load for three days. As in, it’s in my training calendar, so I think it is just as important as my long runs.

Most important part of November’s training

Oh, and Dan came over last night. Still not sure I want to write everything yet. (I’m always afraid to jinx things) But we are transitioning from friends to more than friends. And there’s definitely something there…
I’ll write more on it when I have a better grasp on what it is 🙂

Also, I’m suddenly ob-freaking-sessed with the Walking Dead. So our ‘group’ is in need of a Farmer, and someone who owns a LOT of land (like 30+ acres). Any takers? Know someone?