my favorite healthy lunch

My standard favorite lunch, by far!

Stop blaming salads for being boring… It’s not their fault, it’s yours!

🙂

No, really, though.

Here’s the easy steps, and you can grab and go.

1. Start with interesting greens

spinach and red leafy romaine

spinach and red leafy romaine

Skip the boring iceberg lettuce, or its sister- romaine lettuce. They’re boring, lack taste, lack color, and lack nutrients. Kale. Spinach. Swiss chard. Arugula. Any dark, leafy green, really. They pack more flavor and nutrients than standard iceberg lettuce. Have you ever complained that iceberg didn’t fill you up? That’s no surprise- iceberg is predominantly water, with little nutrients. And a cup of iceberg lettuce is about the same calories as a cup of any dark leafy green. My personal favorite is Trader Joe’s Power of the Greens (it’s $2.99, and includes baby spinach, baby chard, and baby kale). I’ve also been on a “buy a bag of greens from the farmer’s market” kick. Not a bad kick to be on. Spoiler- kale is delicious and abundant in North Carolina- so I buy it a lot.

2. Add something crunchy

The whole bag is like 15 calories!

The whole bag is like 130 calories!

I know, this sounds weird. But that’s because you get to choose your crunchy. Personally, I like nuts and/or apples. Be aware that nuts contain a lot of calories per punch, even just a handful (or 1/4 cup) adds about 200 calories (but just a few nuts go a long way. Motto for life too…) Another thing to remember is you want raw, unsalted nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, or pistachios are great!). When choosing nuts, it’s best to choose unsalted. I had no idea I liked pistachios until I tried TJ’s unsalted nutmeats. So so yummy!

Not only delicious because Steven Colbert says so...

Not only delicious because Steven Colbert says so…

    toppings galore!

3. Add something sweet

This is where I typically add a tiny amount of dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, blueberries, raisins, etc). Again, I go to Trader Joe’s because they have so many options, in the $3 to $8 price range. I also like fresh strawberries or blueberries. The key to making this one on the go is pre-cutting the strawberries that morning or the night before, putting them in a separate ziploc, and keeping them refrigerated (or cool in a cooler). Then add them to the salad later. I’ll also include tomatoes in this category, even though they aren’t “sweet”

4. Add something soft

For you, the dried fruit may be soft enough. For me, I sprinkle goat cheese over the top (it’s my FAVE). Bleu cheese can be nice too, if you have enough sweet o even out the tartness of the bleu cheese. Honestly, I need the candied pecans, which can feel extravagant sometimes 🙂

5. Bring your salad dressing

This is a big one, because if you pour salad dressing over in the morning, it can RUIN your greens. The acid in the dressing causes the greens to wilt, and actually causes the greens to lose some of their nutritional value (imagine your high fiber cereal sitting in milk for that long). Instead, bring a small bottle, or small container and pour it on right before you eat it.

all together now!

all together now!

So, you got all the steps?

Here’s what I chose for today (working the steps…)

Power of Greens mixture, handful of pistachios, sprinkle some goat cheese (maybe an ounce), grabbed some strawberries at work, and a few dried fruit mix (blueberry, cranberry, cherry, raisins) on top. All drizzled in a raspberry champagne vinaigrette from Trader Joes. Et voila!

 

 

Power of Greens: 30 cals
Pistachios (1/8 cup): 75 cals
Goat cheese: 60 cals
Strawberries (4 strawberries= 1 cup) : 50 cals
Dried fruit mixture (pinchful): 50 cals
Raspberry Champagne Vinaigrette: 40 cals

Total:265 calories

Delicious, and packed with nutrients. What more could a girl ask for?

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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…

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…

getting it back! (plus a tribute to dad)

This weekend was awesome! Friday ended up being a spontaneous date night. Saturday was fun with friends, and we managed to fit in a lot of stuff in the day. And Sunday was a great, family-fun-filled-with-the-Quigleys Fathers Day.

I was coordinating everything. My sister-in-law and I planned to do a grilling party for my dad.I started it off with an early trip to the Farmer’s Market (9:30 is apparently the time to go– it’s not hot yet, and no one is really there). They were just setting up, but I managed to get a squash and zucchini from a lady who apparently had a long Saturday night out; and saw eggplant that caught my eye. I talked to the farmer a bit, and decided on a Ghostbuster eggplant (it’s white, and apparently sweeter. We decided it tasted like a cross between a portabello mushroom and squash). The same farmer also had nice looking tomatoes and onions (fixins’ for the burgers). I walked out the door, spending $6. Then, I headed to target for last minute items, and decided I needed another onion, lettuce, and peppers. $6 at Target.

no filter used

I felt so great, I decided to go for a real run. First one since my injury in April. As in, outside! I was scared, to say the least, but didn’t tell anyone; as I might have to turn back after 0.5mi, and I didn’t want to injure my pride as well.

I went as slow as I humanly could, to allow my stomach to ease into it. I figured a mile out-and-back would be perfect. And ran 1.0mi in 10:30something; turned around, ran another minute or so, then had to drop to a walk, as I could feel my abdomen tightening up (precursor to injury/pain). I walked a couple minutes, then ran a few minutes. My legs were fine, my lungs were fine. I just never realized how hard it is to breathe when your abdomen is injured. I got my breathing back to easy again in my abdomen, and ran for about 5 minutes, before dropping to a walk, with a final a sprint, then walked a bit more. My second mile was 12:00 or so. Which I will take. Hey, it’s the most I’ve ran in two months, If I increase a mile or so each run, I’ll be back to normal by August/September.

So, shower, and back to putting together all the plans for Dad (btw, he’s the best dad if you haven’t gotten that. He is so much a part of me I think I know what he is thinking or feeling). So, we put together a beer/ice bucket of items for Father’s Day. I figured this was the best way for everyone to contribute as much or as little as they wanted. Here’s my first day of finds… (I didn’t get a final picture, but my brother and I had to wrap the apron and tie it up to keep everything from falling out)

The first day of finds... (I didn't get a final picture, but my brother and I had to wrap the apron and tie it up to keep everything from falling out)

We added and added– marinades, rubs, even a pepper and onion, a skewer holder (see picture below), LED thermometer (a “pager” goes off when your meat is at the desired temperature), cedar planks, pork chops, chicken and beef for kebobs, PLUS we brought the food and prepared all the food for the day. And, Dan wanted to contribute, so we grabbed a 6-pack of Mother’s Weeping Willow Wit (which was a crowd pleaser) and his Bocce ball set.

Dan and I got there about 4pm, and my dad proudly showed off their new patio area, including a fire pit (they recently landscaped/renovated their back yard. It was a three-month project of chaos and mayhem. It prompted my Let’s plan something outside, as it was completed about 2 weeks ago). My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew showed up a little later, around 5pm. Mason had a little crying fit when he first got there, but once we took off his onesie, he was much more happy and comfortable. Aren’t we all happy when we’re naked? Everyone joked, telling Dan he needed to keep his shirt on… Not sure where that joke started, but it hasn’t ended yet 🙂

We presented our gift, and quickly lit up the grill, and Dan and I got things kicked off. My dad didn’t want to do a thing for the day (despite the awesome BBQ apron which declared he was “Just Chillin & BBQ Grillin”).

zucchini and squash (marinated in a basil vinegarette), onion, and peppers.

zucchini and squash (marinated in a basil vinegarette), onion, and peppers.

Dan and I put the veggies on skewers inside with my brother. We didn’t realize how sharp the skewers were, and decided this was not kid friendly. Notice the black “box” the skewers are on? It holds the skewers so they don’t get stuck to the grill, and burnt on one side/ raw on the other. You just slowly turn them, above the flame (we set the grill on low and it took about 20 minutes). Best under $10 gift I’ve gotten!

we're so cute ;)

we’re so cute 😉 Grilled ghostbusters for appetizer!

Dan has been deemed “Grill King”, and will have to grill every time he is over now 🙂 Burgers were Perfect! And this is coming from a girl who doesn’t eat burgers.

fathersdayspread

The Quigley spread, complete with a half naked Quigley because that’s just how we roll…

I guess we were all starving. We started eating the burgers before even getting to our chairs… Again, it’s just the way my family is. After dinner, we played with Mason. He’s only 4 months old, but is basically the size of a 9-month-old (no exaggeration; he’s 29″ in length, and almost 19 lbs). He wants so badly to run. Every time you hold him, he kicks his legs, like hey! let me loose! We finally managed to get a (grainy) picture of me and the little guy.

love this little guy

love this little guy

run + beer + grill = awesome

Dan lives just near Trophy Brewing Company (a cute new brewing company in Raleigh, though all our hipster friends point out the numerous breweries that keep popping up in Raleigh, I still like it). A few of us met up one week on a Wed night for a run at Dan’s, and wandered over the Trophy. The next week, Dan, Bruce, and I went for a run, then immediately following for a beer. There were other runners. We had even seen them out on our run!

What?!
How dare other people run and drink beer in our vicinity?

A week later, I noticed on their facebook page that Trophy holds a run group every Wednesday night. Just a note- they must have started that the week we noticed them, because we would have noticed sweaty people in running attire before then…

So Wednesday, we decided to join their social run. (If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?)

We overheard her explaining the pace groups and mileage to people. Cheetahs were sub-8, Gazelles were 8-9 minute pace. I stopped paying attention then, but I think Lions were 9-10 minute pace. Then she asked each person how far they planned to go- 1 mile? 3 miles? 5 miles?

I’m a quick study.

I just grabbed the sharpie and wrote my name (no one can ever guess that “Shan-Dee” is spelled Chandi), GAZELLE, 5miles. And she (shocked) took the sharpie back and directed her line of questioning to Dan and Dave. “Don, is it?” … [picture Dave and I calling Dan “Don” the rest of the night, as if it were hilarious]. Dave wanted to contest that he was not a Gazelle. I said loudly They are Cheetahs everyone; they’re just sticking with me tonight. I’m a gazelle. Sorry for the confusion. The check-in girl didn’t get my humor.

Typical.

She handed out route cards. I glanced at it, and made an eye for the Cheetahs, thinking I could keep them in sight, as Dan and Dave slipped their name tags into their pockets. And finally, everyone checked in, donning their name tags, holding hands, and skipping through Glenwood South. Kidding! Just the name tags.

We started off a nice little route, past Moonlight Pizza Co., and over through Glenwood South (a slow steady downhill), then made our way over to Peace/Clark, which is a slow, grueling, steady uphill (for about 2 miles?). For some reason, I was the pack leader. Maybe because none of the boys in the frilly Gazelle group wanted to hold a piece of paper. Either way, I was setting the pace for us. And somehow ended up in front of the Cheetahs. 8:08 for the first mile. In the second mile, I tried to push it since the Cheetahs were still behind (8:33), and I think it’s common courtesy not to stop/slow on an uphill if it’s congested and paces haven’t really split yet. Finally, in the third mile, the Cheetahs passed, and Dan, Dave, and few other guys were able to slow/mellow a little (8:38).

We made a few turns through the Cameron Park/ University (NCSU) area, and eventually back down Dixie Trail to Hillsborough. At that point, I was experiencing that stupid cramp again. And every time I slowed, the pains were worse, so I pushed the 8:30 pace. And told the boys, I was going to slow at Hillsborough. I didn’t slow down any, but they sped up. Dan and Dave finally took off, showing their true Cheetah prowess, hunting down a few gazelle… (See what I did there? Yeah… Yeah, You’re welcome for that!).

When I got past the 5 mile marker, I slowed and jogged it in around the last curve until I saw Dan and Dave and the others congregating outside Trophy.

We chatted a little. Everyone was shocked that we went 830s, but then agreed that it felt hard, so maybe it wasn’t so shocking (they were trying to go closer to 9s, but maybe a tiny girl [me] gave them a little motivation to go faster/harder).

Overall: 5.12 miles, 43:38

I stole this from their facebook page. Thanks guys!

I stole this from their facebook page. Thanks guys!

What did I think about the run?

  • It was a great route (I did the 5-mile), showcasing some nice neighborhoods of Raleigh, and lower traffic areas for a downtown run.
  • It seemed like a fun, laid-back group of people (but then who isn’t when it’s a run with beers after?)
  • It was well organized.
  • [Don’t tell anybody this, but…] I kinda like that they make you wear name tags. It creates a social atmosphere, where everyone is there to meet other people. Which is nice. And it’s kind of like initiation, and I guess you could (in theory) glance at a person’s speed before falling in tow with them. Whoa! He’s a Cheetah, 5miler! I only want to be a Lion, 3miler tonight…
  • Trophy’s beers are pretty good. It’s a laid-back environment, and they seem to have a good “tap turn-over”, so there are 3 or 4 that are always available (i.e., Trophy Wife, Best in Show, Biggest Flirt), plus 2-3 that seems to rotate out very quickly.
  • I’ll definitely go again. It’s too convenient not to go. And they have a 1-mile, 12-13 minute option, which is PERFECT for newbie runners, but ranged up to (I think this was everyone in our group) half marathon and marathoners, looking to work a little speed.

And then Dave had brought over a steak and chicken. Thanks bro! So we grilled out, and baked some amazing asparagus and sweet potatoes. We hung out on Dan’s patio, catching up, drinking Dan’s beers, while he grilled. Yum! Thanks boys!

Hello spring!
I have missed you so so much!

Why Can’t I Quit You? and my latest obsession

Why can’t I quit you?

It seems like a sad revelation, to remember these shoes. They got me through my first marathon, through some harder training cycles. I technically have just been holding onto them for months now, wearing them maybe 5 miles per week. I tried to pretend like it was me that was feeling sluggish on days I wore them. Or pretend that my right toe blister happens all the time (It does not). So finally, I am quitting you. I will put you away in my closet until I can get to a local PlanetAid.

I am quitting you today.

Ghosts – R.I.M.C. {Rest in my closet} (~320 miles)

September, 2012 - April, 2013

September, 2012 – April, 2013

On that note, I will also be quitting my Pureconnects (third pair) – November, 2012 – April, 2013 (~250 miles)

The Ghosts were great for me as I transitioned into longer distances. But my 16-miler in January in my PCs proved that I can go the distance in the minimalist shoes, and no longer need the extra 4 oz the Ghosts offer.

Quick review of both shoes- Brooks Ghost 4- Great substantial shoe for long runs. Still light enough to wear on an everyday basis. I had the Ghost3 too and loved them as well. I get minimal blisters when I wear these on hotter days, but that is partially my foot’s physiology. My first pair of Ghost4’s (yes, I went through 2 pairs while marathon training… I was running a lot!) I went through in about 230 miles, so switching out and giving the shoes “rest days” definitely helped me get more out of these shoes (almost 100 miles more and they are less worn down visibly).
Brooks Pureconnects (original)- I love these shoes so much that I am on my fourth pair of them! Yes, fourth pair! I think these shoes are so awesome that they make me want to run more. Why? They are very lightweight, so your foot has freedom of movement, but they feel like you are running on clouds, or pillows. They heat up quickly when you road run on hot/ longer days, but I find more substantial shoes make my foot hotter and don’t breathe as well (resulting in blisters/black toenails/etc). And I don’t get as many miles out of them, because there is less material, so of course it breaks down quicker. I still get 200-250 miles out of these shoes. I have ran faster races in these. I have ran as much as 16 miles in these with no discomfort/pain. I will say, transition into them. My calves get more of a workout with these than a clunkier shoe. They do have a significant arch, so these are not for you if you have flat feet. They just aren’t. I love these so much that I plan to buy the PureConnects (second edition); it sounds like they just changed the upper. I’ve had the light blue (original color) and the purple, and got compliments on both. Basically, job well done Brooks. Job well done! I am interested to see how you can make these shoes any better 🙂

More miles means more money on shoes. Oh, Fleet Feet, I love that you give me $15 every $150 I spend… It means the more shoes I get (plus my obsession with Nuun), the more I save!

And my new obsession?

Green apples with Nutella (or Trader Joe’s Cocoa Almond Butter, just as delicious), with a Watermelon Nuun.
(Fat kid, cake = me, nutella+apples)

It’s been my morning and afternoon snack for the past week. I carry a knife with me at all times so I can cut up an apple.

I do not front. I will cut. An apple.
Then dunk it in delicious “healthy” chocolately goodness.
And tell myself this is a healthy meal because it once was an apple.

[This is not healthy. Unless you are comparing it to State Fair options]