weeknight running dates & dinner dates

Recently, Dan and I re-cancelled cable. Before we lived together, we didn’t have cable.

I have a problem.
I am addicted to bad TV.
So, I had to just go cold turkey. CUT IT OFF! That’s how I got back my life.

I stopped watching the s**t that passes as television. And I am much happier. Dan and I actually cook meals, as opposed to watching others cook meals. I can hear nature outside my window- birds, and cars, and the fountain in our courtyard.

Personally, it’s the best.

But, it also marks a re-birth of sorts. It’s officially getting hotter, and will soon be the dead of summer. And, it forces me to do things with my life. Such as running (but could be other things).


Monday night was great. I got home nice and early (I’m so glad my job has settled back down again, allowing me to head home before traffic), had a Nuun and some easter candy, and went for a little run. My four miles ended up being 4.5 miles. Oh, and I found a cat by a creek.

No, I did not bring the cat home. Even though our apt is no longer the “crazy three cat apartment” (I guess I’ll tell that story soon too).

Monday’s run was light and easy. I felt good, so I stretched my loop out a little further to a “five mile” with intentions of walking the last mile. The 10:00 pace felt like home again, and I managed to go “sub-8:30” on the last half-mile (downhill, but, hey, who cares). I also ran past Dan and Dave, just as some a-hole who was blazing through a red light almost hit me (I had the “white man walking” sign).  I managed to push a little on some hills, and relax on others, but maintain a somewhat steady speed- 9:30 to 10:30 pace.


Tuesday night looked like a bad storm was about to start, and my favorite thing to do when that happens is rush to get in some hill sprints, so I am never too far from safety. I did the closest, longest hill to our apartment. It turns out it was about 200m (0.12-.13 miles) long, and a 50ft elevation change. It was hard enough to feel like a good workout, but not so hard I couldn’t complete 4 repeats.. They ranged from 1:13 (9:30 pace) to 1:21 (10:40 pace). Not bad.

Maybe I’m weak. I had also ran 6 miles Sunday and 4.5 miles Monday, so maybe it was too much. Either way, my ab was a little sore later that night, and continued to tighten up throughout the night, so I gave in, and took a muscle relaxer to loosen things up overnight.

About me and my muscle relaxers… When my ab is sore, sometimes it can manage to loosen up on its own. Sometimes, it seems to just get more and more sore, until I have to forego exercise or just lay in bed all day. I’ve found that taking a muscle relaxer (5mg) helps to break this cycle, and relaxes my breathing and ab overnight. I definitely don’t rely on them, but usually end up taking one every week or two. It’s also part of revving up my training. My goal is to be able to figure out more accurately how much is “too much”, and find the “just right” balance to enhance strength in my abdominal muscle and push it a little further to get faster.


Aka “Date night”

Dan said he really wanted a steak (Maybe he was in Texas for too long), so we decided to head back to Stanbury for a good steak, and a fine liquid libation.

Side note: I love when bars call them Libations. It kind of makes me laugh. Maybe it’s because it’s a little pretentious, but, then it usually means they are good cocktails, so I guess I do really love it. Hmmm… Libations!

Yummy libation (tequila, jalapeño, and other deliciousness, served on rocks with smoked salt on one side). And onto the main dish- I got the scallops  which came with grilled onion and fennel, tossed in a delicious light vinaigrette over a bed of faro (bottom, left, mostly eaten… whoops!). All in all, delicious. Their veggies/sides always are great! Everything on the plate is thoughtfully planned out and meant to be eaten together. As opposed to the ‘oh right they will probably want some mashed potatoes with this’ veggies. Dan got the ribeye (top left, also partially devoured), which is why we went to Stanbury, so that was delicious as well.


We then popped over to Hayes Barton in Five Points for a slice of cake and pie.

The night was perfect weather, so we took a little walk before eating our cake.


Another night, another run. It was a beautiful night, and in keeping with getting back to my old normal, Dan and I went for a little four miler together. All in all, it felt good. Running with Dan always pushes me to run a little faster, and push the pace a little beyond my comfort zone. We have a little, steep downhill, following by a grueling 0.8 mile uphill. So it was slow at first, but the mile splits were 9:43, 9:41, 8:45, and then change for the last 0.64 miles. Overall pace 9:26, so I was happy with that. Hence, a little faster than normal, but not grueling fast speed.

Then, we pan-fried some sausage, kale, and broccoli for a well-rounded diner. Followed by the rest of my Hayes Barton cake.

dan me post-run

A little post-run picture. Red-faced, blurry, and all. You know what they say A couple that runs together, sweats together…

Also, I love that you can see our fully-stocked wine rack in the background, that may or may not have a bottle of vodka on it.


So, Happy Friday everyone!

I’m headed to Asheville for a pre-wedding sleepover with one of my old college besties (getting married NEXT weekend!). I may take pictures and post.






my nail polish obsession

My blog name is “run, beer, and girly things”… Yet, I never talk about the girly things. I don’t feel I am girly enough to deserve be considered a “beauty guru” blogger. But, I do like to experiment with makeup and hair styles/colors. And polishes more so while I still have all my toe nails 🙂

I will also lose all the guys with this one, so just scroll on to the next one, or wait for one that applies to you…

I decided this deserved its own blog post… I am (have always) been obsessed with nail polishes. I used to buy a nail polish every time I went to Target or walk past an Ulta. TJ Maxx also has great selections (for as little as $4 for OPI, Sephora, or Nicole).

Julep is a subscription box that includes your choice (I LOVE that part) of five boxes for $20/month. I’ve heard they are about to increase this price to $25/month or $20 pre-paid three month subscription, but you will get to pick your box (swapping out polished and beauty products). I am at ~1500 Jules right now, and if you use my link, and I get the rewards (1000 Jules, 2000 Jules= free box), I’ll send a box your way. So make sure to comment if you use the link and become a Maven. I’ll pick at random if there are several people.

There are three options with two polishes and a beauty product, one option with just beauty products (usually two, sometimes three), and one option with three nail polishes. Use the code “FREEBOX” to get your first box free. You can choose add-ons from $4.99… And their boxes include some GREAT colors right now- perfect for spring/summer. Here’s a picture of the colors I chose:

I chose to go more "neutral", with pinks.

I chose to go more “neutral”, with pinks.

You can do like I did… I wasn’t sold by first glance, so I waited. And within 24 hours, I got an email, enticing me to try it out- with two polishes for $9.99. So I think I paid $15, and got: a light pink (Helen), a brick red (Claudette), a hoe red (Molly), a navy blue (Char), nail polish remover, and a pedi foot cream (yummy peppermint).

You make your choice between 20-24th of every month. I believe you can skip once every three months, if you don’t like it, don’t have the funds, or just have too much nail polish. If you do “nothing” in the 20-24th window, they give you your default style profile, which you can always change around.

I counted last night… I have 16 (!) polishes total. And six more on their way right now.

I took the picture below in November. I had spent about $50 to get all of these (and there were 4 more not pictured because I gave them away as Christmas presents). These are great nail polishes- stay very well. Great variety of color. They have the basic pinks and reds, but I generally don’t pick those too often. All the colors are named after women, and Julep promotes a lot of “women friendly” organizations, such as battered women’s shelters. They usually hold an event once per month (located in Seattle). You can see more about the company, and learn about tricks and tips for great mani/pedis here.

my Julep

Meet (left to right): Claudette, Clio, Molly, Stevie, Helen, Char, Estelle, Dahlia, Casper, and an oxygen treatment. Below are even more pictures of nail polishes not pictured here…




Here are the beauty products:

Julep products  The Mint Condition Pedi Creme. My favorite foot lotion. It feels great when my feet are tired after a long/hot run. It has a slight cooling sensation, the smell isn’t too overwhelmingly peppermint, and it leaves my skin softer.
The LUXE Serum, honestly, smells kind of weird. BUT, it works great, and rejuvenates my hands in the winter. I’ve also used it on my face overnight.
The Kajal Eyeliner is great. I used it a lot in the winter. Lately, I’ve been more on the natural make-up kick, but the brown shimmer side (as you can see- it’s more used up) is still pretty subtle. The black is great too- very charcoal. If you have oily skin, your skin might just soak this right up. When my skin is oily, it seems to melt and disappear right off my face. And, lastly, the eye shadow cream. I like it okay. I got the plum color, and have used it a couple times, but it is too dark  for every day use, and is liquid, so you have to wait (not blink/open your eye) for it to dry. I’ve used it as an eyeliner (with eyeliner brush), and have been happy with it.

I am not endorsed by Julep. But if you sign up using my link, I do get perks… That’s another great thing- you “collect” points (Jules) as you buy more items, and they are very loyal to their “older” customers. You get 300 Jules for accepting a monthly box, 200 on your birthday, 1000 for referring friends. Every 2000 is a free monthly box; 750 can be traded in for a polish upgrade on a box. The Jules convert to other items too, and usually specifies next to the true price, under Maven Exclusives.

So, my basic thing is this- I wouldn’t recommend something unless it was truly great! I love this service. Their polishes are always on-season and on-trend, great quality, and usually a little different. Since I started this subscription, I also no longer linger in the nail polish aisle. Honestly, it’s like christmas everyday, when you receive a box at the beginning of the month. They are a “small” business (growing every day) based out of Seattle, so people on the East Coast- it usually takes about 2 weeks to get your box, from the 27th, when they send them out. I usually add-on a polish, because it’s hard to choose just the set you are given. They tend to do gift sets with the season too… Halloween was neon colors, black, blood reds, orange. Christmas was reds, greens, golds, whites. In February, everyone got ‘Love’ which is a white shimmer with red and gold subtle glitter in it.

Anyway, you should really try it. If you like nail polishes, it’s very worth it 🙂

You can always cancel, but I have read… You have to call, and sometimes it can be a bit aggravating to have to call a company. Since I joined almost a year ago, I get perks- like being able to skip any month I want, and I won’t have to pay more for the customizable box. I can keep doing what I’m doing (for a little while I hope)

So, now onto the pictures and a little about each one.


Cameron_sparklylavenderCameron_swatch  Cameron was a part of the February box. It’s a silvery-lavender glittery nail polish, with a “stardust” finish, meaning it is rough (think gravel). It’s so sparkly, it’s like the sparkles pop off your color in 3-D. Not for the boring, but has been a spring favorite.



Estelle_blacsparklesEstelle_swatch  Estelle is one of my absolute all-time favorites. I got it in a “Mystery” Box, and wasn’t sure. I don’t generally like black nails. I think they are too emo/vamp. But Estelle’s subtle glitter hits the light and sparkles every which way is the perfect color for fall/winter. It makes me think of New Year’s Eve dresses- black and sparkly.




Not much to say about Joanna. Dan’s favorite- a periwinkle with a little shimmer/ pearl-like frost. I really do like it. And it’s got the Easter Egg theme, so is on my toes right now.





Love_sparkleWho doesn’t love Love? Every Maven got this as a bonus with their February box. This was a great snowed-in polish. I put it over a pretty white, and the sparkles look overwhelming in the bottle, but are ever so subtle in-person, on the nail. It has a golden hint to it, so over gold was nice as well, or on its own. Over a darker color, it seemed to just make the darker color look “gold”






Valerie_huntergreenValerie_swatch  Valerie is a great color for Christmas/ fall. They advertise it as “teal” but I think it is more hunter green, with some golden undertones. It’s subtle, and dark, but very pigmented. I like it.


If you sign up, don’t forget to use the link above, code FREEBOX for your first one free. And, comment which style you chose. I’ll give away a free box if anyone is interested…

lots of work ahead…

Last night was the first ever Raleigh Brewing Company and Fleet Feet team-up for a run. I enjoy Raleigh Brewing Company, and it’s about a 5 minute drive from my house; same for Fleet Feet. And I support local.

Also, I am trying to get back to running more often and more regularly, so a good social run, or making more running friends is a good thing. And, the Hell Yes Ma’am at RBC is one of my favorites. In my opinion, a good training session requires a good beer afterwards. It cools you down, and relaxes your muscles almost as well as foam rolling. But, it’s actually enjoyable. Just one though, more than that and suddenly, it’s a Wednesday night, and you’re calling someone to pick you up because you’re wasted.

Also, be cautious- beer is stronger after a good, hard run.

So, I got home early, changed, grabbed my garmin, and headed out at 545pm. I hit crazy traffic- just getting out of my neighborhood, and the “5 minute drive” took about 20 minutes… So I got there as they were wrapping up the “this is where we are going… This is how far, and yada yada yada…” I know the drill. Also, I saw Kerry, who coached us in 2012 for my Nashville PR, so it felt like home.

And I followed the herd, with no clue of how far we were going, or where the turn around was. But, I trust Kerry. I could accuse him of making the turn-around at 1.6 miles instead of 1.5 miles for an extra umph, but never to just go crazy off-course.

We ran out the Meredith/Reedy Creek greenway, and my legs felt very loose and springy. Not really what I expected after Sunday’s slow race. But, hey, I got in a good shake-out Monday night with Dan (cut to 1.7 miles because the race was coming down so hard it was stinging my eyes). Apparently that must have shaken them out pretty good.

The greenway out by Meredith and the NC Museum of Art (NCMA) is pretty hilly, rolling, and cut off from cars, and kind of pretty in a quiet (but you can still hear Wade Ave and the interstates, and even run over one I-40 at one point kind of way). I estimated I was going a 10:30 in my first mile, so I was surprised when my garmin chimed “9:33”, and I happily pushed myself up each hill.

I was surprised how much pep my legs had, but eventually, my breathing became labored (around 2 miles in), and I had to work for a 29:20 5K time. Up each hill, I kept telling myself I needed to push it. Dropping ~15 minutes from a half marathon is a lot, and it’s going to take 6 months of dedication. I’ve done it before, but it takes strength with every run. Even if that strength is just getting out the door, and pushing up another hill, or an extra mile.

I also laughed at the idea that I needed to be going about 45 seconds (PER MILE) faster, and maintain for 13 miles. But, I’ve been that fast before, and I will get it back.

And I’ll leave you with a stolen text quote (courtesy of the great Runners World)


My comeback to distance running in my hometown

Inaugural Rock n Roll Raleigh Half Marathon Recap


Let me start by saying that it has been a while since I posted anything on here. There are a few reasons, but, honestly, I needed to return to running in private. I was afraid posting about how little I was running or how slow, or how hard it was, and how much it hurt, would only make it hurt more. About a year ago, I ran through an abdominal strain. In general, I didn’t think it was too bad. Eventually, it got to the point where I was in pain (or “high” on muscle relaxers) the majority of last summer. But, I have talked about that enough…

I first signed up for the RnR Raleigh as the full marathon about a year ago, when it was first announced RnR was coming to Raleigh. There was a lot of controversy about it. All of which I find stupid. Some people argued that we had too many races as it is (in my opinion, these people are the lazy people who do not understand or appreciate all the hard work that goes into planning/training or running a race). Others just felt that this particular “big” race would pull away from the smaller races in the area. From my experience, the RnR attracts a lot of beginners, and beginners usually catch the bug, and sign up for other races- even 5K or 10Ks. Also, it challenges race organizers to be inventive to get people out. Raleigh has 8 half marathons I believe- City of Oaks (the biggest), Raleigh Rocks (which has now been changed to the “Rockin Rebellion” to accommodate the #RnRhaters, and is in April AND October), a Turkey Gobbler (in Wake Forest), Midtown (which was so popular, they have one in June AND September), American Tobacco Trail, Inside Out Sports Classic. Also, 3 mid-size full marathons (City of Oaks, ATT, and Umstead) Anyway, the controversy makes me laugh. I just had to note it- because I think the out of towners had no idea their desire to come to Raleigh upset so many haters.

When I signed up I was also signed up for Richmond full last November. I ended up not even showing up for that. In November, I struggled to get through 5 miles. As of January, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to complete the half marathon in April. All of this isn’t to organize a pity party for me, but to point out how far I have come.

In training for RnR Ral, I gave myself a goal to get to 10 miles. Once I got to 10 miles, Dan and I went to Mandolin for dinner (sooooo freakin’ yummy!). That was February 9, 2014. I hadn’t ran that far since April, 2013, as part of a relay race.

I ran with a friend Sheryl, who was training for the full marathon. One day, I had agreed to 12 miles, but she was going 18-20 miles. I ended up clocking 14.5 miles that day (March 8, 2014).  I managed to max out at 20 miles per week two weeks in a row. So, Sheryl and I would meet up, and run a slow and steady 10-14 miles at a time. I almost always picked routes with hills, knowing that Raleigh has hills. There were weekends when our schedules didn’t match up, and we ran apart.



I was so nervous the week before the race, that I just kept taking muscle relaxers to sleep, to make sure that my ab pain didn’t creep back in the slightest. I didn’t run at all last week, except for the race. People asked what my goal was, and it was mixed. Of course, every runner loves to PR. I would say, “I just want to finish”, and genuinely mean it, but I had an idea of 2:10-2:15 in my head. The more runs I did, the more confident I felt. My fastest half marathon on record is about 2:08, though I’d been running much faster when I got injured last year.

I went to the expo Friday afternoon (after work). It was your typical RnR expo- large with lots of sponsors and goodies. I didn’t really want to go through each exhibit- just get my packet, grab a Trophy pizza, and head home. But, it was nice. Brooks had RnR Raleigh shirts in my favorite style. I was tempted to get one, but didn’t even want to look at the price tag, as I figured the typical $25 shirt was closer to $50. To have a NC state outline, and “RnR” or something in it. Still, I wasn’t hatin on people who were wearing them… I was kind of jealous. haha.

I had a few friends running the full marathon. So, all last week, when I got nervous or scared, I made a sign for them. I ended up with 10 signs… 🙂 The full marathon happened to go just past my house, so Saturday night, Dan and I drove around, putting up signs for them by our neighborhood (miles 11-19 for them). I went to sleep around 10pm, setting my alarm for 4:45am.

Race Day

I tried to plan with Dan to account for traffic, and the road closures. We had planned to leave at 5:50am. I got up as soon as my alarm went off, went out to get some coffee (“out” into our kitchen), and started getting my clothes on, and a little SPF 35 CC cream for my face. The weather for the morning- 60 at 7am, 70 by 9am, and about 80 by 12pm. And sunny. I actually think I overdressed (In the second mile, I was tearing my sleeves off).

Flat Chandi RnRRal

I ate a slice of toast with peanut butter. I had stopped drinking the night before, because I had a feeling I was overly hydrated. So, no water Sunday morning. I waited for my coffee to do its thing. I woke Dan up around 540. He was ready to go by 550, as planned. I went to the bathroom one last time (success!), and we left our building by 555.

Some of the road closures took effect at 6am, but most of the “outer” sections were supposed to close at 630am. We met our first closure about 5 minutes into our drive, that was supposed to be closed at 630am. SHIT! Dan and I both panicked- trying to find an alternate route. He kept saying “I’ll take X road”, and I’d shut him down, “nope, that’s closed off”. The ONLY way in and out was from South Saunders. We finally got to S Saunders, and it was clear it was the “only” way, because EVERYONE (10,000 runners and spectators) were on it. It looked worse than a typical weekday rush hour… Hmmm… We looked at each other, and Dan was like, “nope”, made a couple turns (through a random gravel parking lot… mind you South Raleigh can be rough in parts), and got me about 3 blocks from the start. Not sure how that all worked out, but I was to the starting area (Salisbury St) by 625, and headed straight to the port-a-potty, as we all do the morning of a long race. I waited for 20 mins, and by the time I made my way to the corrals, it was 655, and the only corral open to runners was corral 12. I was supposed to be in corral 11, so this was fine. However, you could tell it was the only one open, because I saw people from as low as corral 4 to as high as corral 24. hmmmm… maybe this will be a clusterf*** the first few miles. As the race started, and we starting moseying ahead, I spotted a familiar teal mohawk, and scooted over to start with Darryl and a couple of his running buddies (Teryn and Rachel). They were all running the full, but shooting for a 4:30 time, so I figured it’d be perfect, and my 2:15 would be good, as I’d be with them for 8.5 miles of my 13.

A race photographer found me looking for a corral, and got this shot (I promise, I plan to buy a few, because they are actually pretty good, but wanted to get this post up before I forget)–

RnR beforeWe started off nice and slow and steady, allowing our legs to warm-up, careful not to pass people too quickly. Our first mile was 10:28, and that sounded perfect to me. We all cheered for how “on target” we were. I put my headphones in, and kept my motivation up. Teryn and Rachel slowly started to speed up, but it was downhill, so we went along with it. “9:17” Darryl and I both looked at each other, laughed, and suggested to the newbies that we slow down. Which we did. The next mile was “9:27”, and our first 5K was over, in about 30 minutes (but I missed hitting the pad for an official time). Then, I lost Darryl in the fourth mile. Rachel and Teryn pulled too far ahead, and I lost them too by the fifth mile. I was now on my own, and on target for a 2:10 with some big hills to come. I planned to run the race hans style (solo), so I didn’t mind. I just kept pluggin’ away, as I started to hit some of the first set of uphills.

Going through Oakwood and Mordecai reminded me of times in high school (I grew up in Raleigh), and it was great to see so many people out to support the runners. Raleigh was out in true form. I even saw a few people I hadn’t seen in years (clearly out to support someone else, but it still felt like home). The brightly-colored wave of runners made its way to Peace St, past the Krispy Kreme, and past Peace University, and down our last downhill. My garmin buzzed another mile, and I was still sub-10:00 pace by the 10K.

The fluorescent, sweaty herd struggled to get all the way up Peace/Clark. One man was sitting by the Black Lotus, who said we were done with this hill (at the first plateau, just before Glenwood Ave). I have ran this route before, so I laughed, and shook my head at him. I knew this hill would slowly roll for another mile or so. The wave of people slowed down, some people started to toss aside their goals, and decided to walk. I heard some people discussing their struggles with the hill. I knew I’d soon see Dan, and Sarah, and Will, and was amazed that there was not a foot of the sidewalk where my fellow Raleigh-ites were not out in full swing. Even those who were passively watching because they couldn’t leave their houses… Thank you!

I made it up the hill, with a 9:53, which left me astounded and proud. I came upon Cameron Village, and wanted so badly to see the Flying Biscuit (where Dan said he’d set up camp, before anyone else, as soon as he left me in South Raleigh). We spend a good amount of time in Cameron Village, and I thought of the Bloody Mary’s at Cameron Grill, and chugged on, until I saw Sarah. Dan was hiding behind a tree, Will sitting next to him in a camp chair. Sarah was cheering for everyone passing, and I yelled her name, as they all yelled and cheered me on. They all looked shocked (even though I was perfectly on time- at a 10:00-min pace, as I had estimated, and had even texted Dan when the corral before me left the start). It was a little boost to see them, and I half-pictured them hopping into the van (relay buddies), to meet me a mile or two down the road…

Oh well, onway and upward. The hill wasn’t completely over, though it had flattened a little. I wondered if the spectators knew how long of a hill we’d been going up, as they encouraged walkers to pick it up. I knew the turn-off was up ahead. It had to be, we were almost to 8 miles. I was tired. I was thirsty. Bad sign. You never want to be thirsty during a race. But, really I was exhausted. The thought occured to me that I hadn’t seen the GU station that was supposed to be around mile 5. I glanced down, and I had been running for about 90 minutes. Generally, I use something every 60 minutes. Ruh-roh!

[Also, just a note- they had Gatorade, but gatorade is too syrupy and makes me nauseous. I prefer Honey Stinger chews (or Sports Beans “bean me up”) and Nuun. But, when I am thrifty or running a lot, I will do every other with GU- they also take up less space.]

Finally, we turned on Hillsborough, and we started our return to downtown. Actually, it was kind of nice, because the majority of the time, you could see downtown in the background. And there was the glorious GU station. Gatorade first. Yuck. Water- yay! GU… yay! …Bleck! Gross! and more water… Just to wash it down, splash the rest on your face. That will totally hydrate you. Well, hell, at this rate, I’ll pour it on my head. It’s hot up in her’!

I appreciated the downhill slope of Hillsborough. I’ve ran this before at the end of a race- it’s a great ending- just enough slope to make you feel speedy effortlessly, but not so much that you feel like you are spinning out of control. We rounded the round-about, and turned on Pullen, and my garmin chimed for another mile “10:28”, and I felt great. I just let go on the downhill, through NC State’s campus, past Pullen Park, then turned onto Western.

And I started to feel it. I wondered when the next water stop was. I was feeling so tired. More than I should be, and I just hoped I had enough to get through another 4 miles. Okay, now is the time to ramp it up, right? So I tried to ramp it up, and felt queasy. You can do this I told myself, and then I vommed in my mouth. Gross. You can slow down now. It’s okay. Let the GU fully settle. And “10:03” chimed in, to agree that it’s okay. Okay, new plan- 2:12? I was at about that pace, and there was no shelter from the shade. I turned onto Dorothy Dix’s campus, and was waiting for the beauty to hit me. I love this campus. Instead, I felt numb to it all. Spectators? Didn’t matter. I just wanted to get to Mile 10.5. My dad said he’d be at mile 10.5. I passed by a thankful water station, which helped me feel better. I started to worry that I had missed him. I got over it, and just continued to chug along, running at a somewhat steady 10:30 pace. I had slowed down, but I still had my eye on 2:15, and was convinced I’d feel peppier when I got the downtown area.

Finally, I saw him! Right after the 11 mile, I waved at him on a small downhill from Dorothy Dix campus to Lake Wheeler, and turned into downtown. I feel a little pep, and tried to push it again, as I knew the Boylan hill was ahead of me, and a cushion of time would help. I tried to push it up Lenoir, but “push” was a 10:30 pace, and felt hard. I continued up Boylan, where they forced us onto the sidewalk, which I thought was asinine. This was at mile 11.5-12, and people were walking. And this sidewalk is only one person wide, broken, and has a steep hill on either side, lined with trees. But, every time we runners (sorry, there were a lot of walkers at this point) tried to jump down to the street to run, some volunteer would berate us like a bad dog peeing on the carpet. So I crushed a few people- sorry! Truly! And that was at a 12:00 pace…

Finally we got to the top of Boylan, and I knew we were past the 12 Mile point, whether the course said it or not (I hadn’t seen it, but I did see the Fleet Feet Raleigh love on Boylan Bridge). I felt inspired to run a little faster for the last mile. And vommed in my mouth again. Alright. I get it body. I can go slow, or I can vomit and go kinda faster. I chose to go slow. People were passing me left and right. Fans were cheering to pick it up into the home stretch. And, as I passed Nash Square, dodging to the right, in case I actually did puke, the 2:15 pacer triumphantly flew past me. And I didn’t even care. That’s how I know I was hurting. I am competitive, and anyone passing me in the last mile is bad news. I just didn’t want to walk down the final stretch on Fayetteville, so I kept plugging around, at my slowing pace. I managed to smile as much as I could for cameras. But, one guy got my true shot- as I stopped my watch, I really thought I was going to hurl. I didn’t see medical tent or staffers. I didn’t see a bucket or trash can. So I proceeded to get my medal, a dry towel, and searched for an ice bucket, grabbed some water (shove a Nuun tab in that. Yes, I hid a Nuun in my back pocket), got a banana and protein bar, and by the time I found a spot to sit, I no longer needed to puke. I texted Dan to let him know I was done, and final time of 2:17-something, and told him where I was.

He was there in minutes, and I told him how I had been doing so good, up until the last two or three miles….

The last few miles were a blur to me. I felt awful. I am not sure if it was dehydration, or overhydration, or lack of electrolytes, or if the GU just didn’t settle right on my stomach. I have never felt like that after a run. If I’m overheated, I usually get dizzy/light-headed, sometimes losing some vision (high blood pressure in my eyes), or see spots, once or twice swaying after finishing. But, never feeling 100% sure I would barf.

I have no regrets. I am proud of my 2:17. And once I felt fully hydrated again, I went back to Nash Square to cheer on my fellow runners. Dan grabbed us some coffee and more water, and I kept yelling for them, hoping I’d start seeing my full-ers soon.

Finally, I saw Beth, and yelled my butt off (4:10, oh yeah, and 8th in her age group- WHAT?! That girl is a beast). Then, Rachel, who I met just before the race with Darryl. Then, Teryn, Darryl’s other buddy. I anticipated Sheryl soon, so I walked along the course to the Boylan Bridge to meet her, and spotted Andrea. She was hurting, feeling just like I had. So, I ran her in, and we ran and walked a little, until I patted her on the back into the finisher shoot. And then, I finally got a text from Sheryl- she was on Lenoir. I texted back- I’m on the Boylan Bridge- see you soon! And I ran her in the last mile.

Here’s a few shots her friend got of us (I thought it was so cute, even though it’s pixely)

RnR with Sheryl 1

RnR with Sheryl 3

So, all in all, I ran about 15 miles on Sunday. Someone managed to snap a picture of Sheryl and me, and it makes me happy- a picture of me and my training buddy. Did I mention Sheryl sub-2’ed this spring? Yup! And that’s my next goal- for the fall. I was fast enough for that last year (was training for a sub-4:00 full marathon). Anyway, that’s next- in like 6 months.

That means, this summer will include a lot of sweat, sore muscles, blisters, probably less toenails, chafing, and probably lots of post-run beer 🙂

the come-back kid (I hope)

I’ve been without pain for the past few weeks. Without any chiropractor appointments.

So I signed up for this year’s Ridgewood Turkey Trot. It’s a 5-miler on Thanksgiving day. This will be my fourth year in a row. I’m sure it will be my slowest. And I am settled, and okay with that. It just means I will keep getting stronger and faster in the future.

I’m going to test out a 5-mile run on Saturday (or Sunday). Otherwise, I haven’t ran 5 miles in 6 months. I’m pretty excited.

For our (1-year) anniversary, I gave Dan a scavenger hunt. We had a lot of fun. Me, feeling like a CIA agent, stalking through Raleigh, leaving gifts and cryptic messages, then staying close by to watch it until Dan showed up. Then, scurrying to the next destination without being “caught” or seen. Dan enjoyed the doting (each clue had a little love note attached), attention, and said he felt like he was a CIA agent, tracking down my clues. He never saw me, and had no idea I was there. He said he was really hesitant to drink the coffee I left for him.

pimento cheese + Clue, left on the doorstep of Location #1

pimento cheese + Clue, left on the doorstep of Location #1

Anyway, the last gift was registration for the Turkey Trot. We met running, so it felt like appropriate timing. Last year, we ran it together, and both PR’d (significantly so for a 5-mile race). For our anniversary, he got me the ULTIMATE headlamp. It sounds weird to others- but we met on a team for a distance relay, so it was very fitting. We also went to a really nice dinner at the Stanbury (delicious little hip restaurant in Mordecai district of Raleigh; I didn’t know I liked brussel sprouts until that dinner… Also the pumpkin-chocolate creme brulee was to die for! Too bad Dan didn’t want to try the beef tongue… I was all ready for that!)

Dan's "Mr Grumpy Pants" in the morning

Dan’s “Mr Grumpy Pants” in the morning

Mug and coffee left at Location #2. I feel the need to elaborate on the mug: Dan is very grumpy before he gets his coffee in the morning, so the mug was fitting. We have a collection of about 20 mugs, and 18 of which are mine from various trips, from family members, etc. The point is almost all our mugs are “mine” (or his boring mugs… he lost his Seinfeld mug), so I wanted to get him a character mug. He has one from a tri he finished recently.

So I have three weeks to “get ready” for the Turkey Trot. I am not trying to set any records, but it would feel good to be able to run the entire course, and feel slightly speedy/competitive. I’ve been holding back during training, so maybe a race will help me find some external motivation, and spark some enthusiasm for speeding up 🙂

Here’s some autumn inspiration:

our neighborhood street. So pretty this time of year!

our neighborhood street. So pretty this time of year!

The sunrise on Tuesday morning. Kind of glad I had to work so early, so I could see it :)

The sunrise on Tuesday morning. Kind of glad I had to work so early, so I could see it 🙂

this time a year ago…

Today is my birthday (Woo!)… My gift to myself was a day off work. It’s Friday, so let’s start the weekend off right 🙂

On birthdays, we tend to look back at the past year- at everything that has changed. This is the first time in years (six to be exact) that I’ve been in a relationship, so that is pretty major for me. Last year, I had just started to get to know Dan

Last year, I was tapering down for my first marathon. My goal had been (for a long time) to complete a marathon before I turned 30. I was 28, and in great shape, so it was perfect timing. I had just finished my first distance relay– Tuna200. I ended up staying home from work because I was super sick, and slept the entire day- until about 5pm (when I started getting ready to meet up with friends for low-key birthday drinks). Ironically enough, I’m meeting up with the exact same group tonight- just a different location 🙂

My brother had just gotten married, and my sister-in-law was pregnant with little Mason. Now, I am a proud Aunt of the most adorable nephew in the world. He plans to be Winnie the Pooh for Halloween, and I can’t wait to see the pictures. I can’t believe he is almost 9 months old… He’s such a big boy (as you can see below):

in a pumpkin

in a pumpkin

My dad is coming over this afternoon for some quality father-daughter time, and considering he’s one of my best friends, it will be good just to hang out with him some.

Although I am super happy, in general, with my life. My health has been less than stellar the last six months… But, it feels good to say I am getting better. I ran 4 miles last Friday (woo! The most I’ve ran since April), and at a 10-min pace, which isn’t too too bad. It felt like my standard long-slow-run day. I’ve gone to the gym twice this week- including what are called “thrusters” (I had no idea that’s what all those crossfitters are talking about when they complain about thrusters… I just thought it would be better than regular squats with a weight). My legs were super sore Monday, but my ab hasn’t hurt in over a week… I have officially started working on getting my strength and speed back, and plan to call my Saturdays my “long run” day (even if it starts out at a 4mi run). The struggle of the past six months doesn’t seem as important as the fact that I am getting better and stronger.

I still like beer. We also cook more often than we used to. We go to the farmers market often, and have only killed it a few times- an eggplant that we kept forgetting about, and a pepper that went bad within a week of getting. I eat more salads than I used to– dark leafy greens, a creamy cheese, nuts, dried fruit, apples… It’s delicious. And the apple cider sangria was a hit! Though, I’d suggest not to use sweet apples- they absorbed the alcohol, and tasted like pure ethanol after a few hours of soaking.

And girly things- I started getting birchbox this summer, and it opened me up to more makeup and playing around with girly things… However, I got a couple boxes where I only liked 1 or 2 items, so I cancelled it. I did find a few things I liked- Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner… but it was in a teal (not exactly an “everyday” eye liner color). I found an amazing face moisturizer- Benta Berry G1 but you have to join a wait list, and it took 3 months to even get to the top of the list… Ain’t nobody got time for that. Anyway, it seemed like there was always something… More recently, I signed up for Julep and love it! Use the code “FREEBOX” to get your first box for free 🙂

No tangents. This birthday will be good… Wishing you all a good weekend as well. Happy Friday!

Overcoming PTSD of injuries

Settle in kids. This may be a long one.

Lately, I’ve been trying really hard to come back.

In May, I found out the sharp cramp in my side was actually a torn abdominal muscle. My PCP did not do an x-ray like I suggested, and just thought it was a fluke, and it would go away with rest and muscle relaxers. It would be fine for a few weeks, then I’d push it a little harder, and would end up laid up in bed for a week or so. Of course, I still had to work, but I’d take a day off, or go to work, get the essentials done, then come home, take muscle relaxers and be in bed by 8pm.

Finally, in August; I decided there was still something wrong with me. I searched the area for an ortho- specialist who would work with abdominal (muscle) issues, and came up empty-handed. After much exasperation, I settled on going to our chiropractor (I went to him often when I was a gymnast and my mom still goes to see him. She has brought him fresh baked cookies at Christmas for the past 30 years). I trust him, which is big. But, more importantly, I thought he would be able to help.

Finally, I got the help I wanted

My first visit was a mixture of nerves and excitement. I was nervous he wouldn’t be able to help me. And I was excited that I may have finally found a solution. He met with me; we caught up about the past ten years (apparently my mom alluded to Dan and I getting married… Hopeful exaggeration I’m sure), and I jumped right in with my problem. I told him I want x-rays, I was sure I was dislocated something, or that I had a broken rib or something I hadn’t even thought of yet.

The x-rays came back as this: My left hip was all out of line, and had pulled my sacrum (your very lower spine) to the left. My upper back was being pulled right and down, pulling my shoulder out of line. The diagnosis was pretty clear- my body had been pulling itself apart, resulting in a severe ‘crunching’ of my right abdomen. I wasn’t getting full circulation to the area. Nerves and arteries were likely being pinched, causing extra pain on top of the pulled abdominal muscle(s). Basically, it would have never healed on its own.

He popped my shoulder and hip back into place, and did a little treatment on my upper spine (by your shoulder blades), and by my sacrum. He told me the plan was to see me weekly for a little while.

That night is hard to describe. I could feel my abdomen again. It felt like every breathe opened it up. I also felt a lot of pain. Your body gets used to misalignment, and being corrected hurts.

He urged me to run further and further each week. At first, I ran maybe a mile; afraid of pushing it too far.

Fear lingers, even through recovery

I am still afraid. Each time I run, I try to push it a little extra. But there is a wall I can’t push past. It keeps me from giving it my all. I am afraid that I will literally give it my all, and be left with nothing. Nothing meaning I will be laid up in bed for another week or two.

I’ve added strength training. But I can only do it once per week. I often ‘don’t have time’… The truth is I’m afraid when the strength training hurts. I really can’t feel it my body when I’ve pushed it too far. So I back off quicker. I don’t always complete a workout (which makes me feel weak- mentally and physically). I am learning to accept this, but it is a hard struggle.

This summer, I was pretty depressed about my injury. I had to choose between doing a 10-min run or hanging out with friends, because I knew a run would put me out for the day. I wouldn’t be in ‘a little pain’, but the kind of pain where sitting up hurts. Holding a conversation with people, laughing, leaning forward; all of it put in pain. So I would stay in. I lost a little bit of the vitality that makes me who I am.

I was so mad about it. I was mad that Dan was forced to be around me when I never wanted to go anywhere or do anything. Like I was a rock, weighing him down. I’d get mad at myself for getting upset about it. I’ve learned to just live the hand you are dealt.

The good news is

I’m done with all that. I have acknowledged I have been experiencing chronic pain. There are good days and bad days. My good days are getting better and better, and are more often. My bad days are fewer; and although they upset me, the pain isn’t as bad as it was over the summer. I’ve owned up to the fact that the muscle relaxers help me on the bad days. They keep me still and tire me out, which helps my body heal. I am not weak because I choose to stop a workout, or take muscle relaxers, or go to bed at 9pm to ensure extra sleep. I am healing, I am getting stronger; all of it is necessary to get there.

So the most recent update-

The most I’ve ran since April is 2.95 miles, which I did on September 19 (and celebrated with Dan and Dave, pizza and beer). It was at a 10:22 pace, which is a lot slower than my former 3-mile pace, but I was able to complete it; so it was a day of celebration.

Last week, I ran 6 miles total; broken over 3 separate runs, and I swam ~20 mins one night. For the most part, I felt okay; good even. That is very different than June/July. celebration.

My work schedule is a little chaotic (working til 7 or 8pm), so this week is less than last week.

Overall, my goal is to complete 5 miles (running without stopping), within the next month. I plan to do the Ridgewood Turkey Trot (5 miles) no matter what this year. I may have to walk some, and will probably finish a LOT slower than in years past, but I will finish it. celebration.

If by February, I can’t run a decent long run (8-10 miles), I will defer the Rock ‘n Roll Raleigh’s inaugural year. As it is, I’m not crazy; I plan to drop down to the half. I am hoping that I can slowly build over the next few months, and begin ‘training’ in the new year.

So that’s my injury story. I’ve been avoiding writing about it. Partly because it makes me sad. Partly because I’m still in the middle of it. Partly because it had consumed my life for the past six months, and I didn’t want to give it any more power over me. But I needed to write it. This is one of those ‘blogging for me’ moments.

And anyone who reads down this far, run a little extra/ push a little extra for me. Because I can’t, but so badly want to. Set your goals a little higher than your comfort zone.  I’ve always ran because I work with people who inspire me. Their health made it hard for them to dream of completing a marathon, so I ran with them in mind. It’s very strange for me to be on the other side now, even if its temporary…

preparing for the holidays

There has been evidence to suggest that people who gain the least amount of weight during the holidays start strategizing early- as early as October. For North Carolina, I think the NC State Fair is the beginning of the holiday season. Pretty much anything is deep-fried, covered in butter, and somehow pork is always involved– for instance, the Krispy Kreme burger. Two Krispy Kreme doughnuts act as the bun for a burger, which is topped with cheese and bacon. Then, comes halloween and the beginning of all my friends’ holiday parties. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve… My weekends are quickly filling up between now and the end of the year with these events.

This week was also our annual Success Week at work (I work at a private residential weight management facility). During success week, former clients who have been successful at home return, and impart wisdom on our current clients. Although their success varies, and everyone’s stories are different. They all have one thing in common- through the years and struggles, they have managed to lose weight; some have lost 30-40 lbs. Some of our most successful people have gone from 675 lbs to 250, or 400 to 200 lbs. Either way, it is always an inspiration to hear how we have impacted these people’s lives, and it’s particularly nice for me to hear. I work with the numbers; working statistical analyses all day, determining outcomes, and reporting averages. When I am in the numbers all the time, I forget about the applied aspect of my research; the stories behind the weight loss.

So what strategies have worked for people in the past?

Planning your strategies now.

It seems silly that we plan our trips home, who we plan to see, where we want to go; but often, we forget to plan to be healthy during the holidays. When you make your plans for the holidays- whether you are going out of town or having people over to your house, the most successful people (people who are able to maintain their weight) plan out the meal and exercise plans while planning out their vacations. This may vary by person, but here are my favorites I’ve heard over the years–

Sign up for a Turkey Trot.

Most of these are pretty flexible and allow people to just walk the entire course, and range in distance from 5K to half marathon (3 to 13 miles).

Create a family tournament.

Besides, who doesn’t like a little sibling rivalry. This could be a pick-up game of flag football, running around the block in a santa suit, or a yoga-off (see who can hold the move longest). Hopefully you get the point.

Bring your own health.

Don’t assume that someone else will cook healthy for you. Ask if there is something you can bring to the get-together (or offer to test out a recipe there, with tons of veggies).

Add some veggies.

One of our former clients started baking fresh veggies at every holiday meal (This started 7 years ago). She claims they are delicious, and year after year, they are the only thing there with no leftovers. All she does is chop seasonal veggies and put them in 15-20 mins before the turkey/ham/whatever is baking is ready. She also swears by the next rule…

Pick a day.

Pick one day for each holiday. On that one day, you can eat everything you want. Indulge in those favorites. But, don’t extend each holiday into a holiweek. There is some evidence behind this, and one day will not ruin your diet, but three months of indulgence will add pounds in all the wrong places.

Put the cookie jar away.

Research shows that if you we don’t see it, we think about it less; and eat less of snacks that are in the cupboard.

Switch your drink.

Non-alcoholic drinks- like seasonal teas or apple cider have less calories, and are less likely to lower your inhibition (which keeps you from eating the entire batch of cookies you just made). If switching to non-alcoholic makes you scoff, stick with wines, beers, or club soda/tonic water and a shot. You can try my apple cider sangria- coming soon… (I’ll link to my apple cider when it is up and running… I made a trial batch- delicious, and am making another LARGE batch this weekend (<200 cals per glass)

Mini-size me. Pile up with smaller portions of each item. Then, only go back for seconds of your “favorites” (as opposed to eat 1 full heaping portion of everything, and then add another heaping portion of your favorites). This allows you to feel satisfied in your choices. You can eat as much as you want of the “top 3 favorites”.

The biggest advice I can give is know when to indulge, and when to be conservative. If you indulge at every party you go to, and do not eat healthy in between, your jeans may be a little tighter in January. I enjoy the holidays with games and activities and talking with people. Food is part of it, but only the main event a few days out of the year.

one of the weirdest beers I’ve tried…

This may not be saying a lot, but I tried something new this weekend. Dan and Dave and I went out Chubbys, then a fat little bird suggested we go to Orange Leaf for froyo. And you can’t say no once that little bird sits on your shoulder. That heavy bird will just sit there, barely whispering between gasps for air “You love frozen yogurt… “It’s healthy because it has yogurt in the title… “I like it when your butt gets bigger…” Stupid bird.

Right. My point.

Orange Leaf is next to Bottle Revolution, which I’ve been wanting to check out for a while.

I went in search of a smokey stout for my chili. I saw a Ballast Point limited edition beer, with a pretty white label, and what looked to be an octopus.

I like Ballast Point’s stuff. It’s an-indian styled stout. Perfect! Indian-style means hoppy.

And I walked my butt up to the register. The check-out employee (tatted hipster type girl) wanted to tell me all about the beer…

tatted beer girl: “Oh my god. Have you tried this before?”
me: “no… but I like their stuff”
tatted beer girl: “Well, do you like curry?”
me: (that’s an unrelated question, but I’m game) “yeah, I like curry. It’s good”
tbg: “oh. well, then you’ll love this beer! (I begin wondering WTF?) It’s got curry, and lime, and coconut (Dan and Dave began shaking their heads in revulsion in a nearby aisle). It’s one of my favorites… I just love showing up with it, and people are like what is that?

I don’t know why, but I don’t want people to think I’m square or uninteresting, or like normal, or something, so whenever something like this happens, I do exactly what I did to this girl–

me: “Oh, that’s great! sooooo interesting. Yeah, I definitely want it now!”

So I spent $11 on a big bottle of this beer. Not because I’m stupid, but because I wanted her to think I was adventurous, not just some typical girly girl who walks in giggling and twirling my hair. Which I guess is stupid. But, if I didn’t do stuff like this, I’d have like 10% of my life… 😉

That'll teach me not to read labels before purchasing...

That’ll teach me not to read labels before purchasing…

On Sunday, when Dan and I had basically finished all the other beer (there were only a couple bottles), he suggested we pop it open.

It's blurry because he's shaking his head in disbelief that I convinced him to try it

It’s blurry because he’s shaking his head in disbelief that I convinced him to try it

Indra Kunindra (Ballast Point, San Diego)

errrgh! Mean octopus= cool beer... right?

errrgh! Mean octopus= cool beer… right?

Okay, so my review–

It is a well-executed beer. It has great complexity. When you lift the beer to your nose, the cayenne and cumin smell is overwhelming. Like you brace yourself for how crazy it is about to get, as you take a sip.
But, then, it’s not that bad. You can taste the kick of curry, and cayenne, with a limey-coconut finish. But Ballast Point knows how to do a stout heavy enough to handle all those flavors.

That being said, I couldn’t finish my pint glass full. Dan and I agreed we would have split a normal sized bottle, and enjoyed it. But more than a 1/2 glass is just too much at one time. Again, a good beer. And one to add to your “adventure beer” list, but I wouldn’t suggest ordering it while you are out. A taste is probably enough of it.

Besides every relationship needs a little adventure right?

Okay, fine. I hated it. Why do I want you guys to think I liked it? I barely got through like 10 teeny sips. Every time I brought it up to my mouth, the smell overwhelmed my senses… Just not for me. Or most people. Though I stand behind Ballast Point, and think they did a good job on a curry beer; it’s just who the heck wants a curry-inspired beer?!

Anyway, we plan to bring a 22oz to Christmas festivities in Ohio, to make his brother, sister, sister’s fiance all do a shot glass amount- part of their Christmas Decathalon… There’s not a lot to do in Ohio apparently.


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.


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…