Monday, September 23, 2013

music at McMenamins Edgefield

This past weekend my boy and I took a little day/night trip 3 hours south to Portland, Oregon to accomplish 3 big goals:

1. Eat at Nicholas Restaurant
2. Hang out in the beautiful ground of McMenamins Edgefield
3. Watch The National send their audience into a giant awestruck stare


I've waxed poetic about Nicholas Restaurant before, and I will do it again, hopefully at least another 82 times. It really is the best food I've had in a long time, including Turkey where much of this is the same cuisine. We get their vegetarian grape leaves and their Arabian Vegan Meze every time and I swear it only gets better. Throw in the complimentary pita bread (which they know have a gluten-free version of!) and it's un-for-get-table.

After stuffing ourselves to high heavens, we ventured off to McMenamins at the Edgefield, which is one of the neatest places in the Pacific Northwest. It's a brewery, winery, distillery, golf course, garden, hotel, restaurant, and concert venue all rolled into a gorgeous estate. It was raining off and on, but it didn't matter since there was delicious wine involved.

This was our second time watching The National, and they never forget their passion and love of performing at home. Home boys brought it, and it's definitely up there as one of my favorite concert experiences ev-er. It stayed dry the entire time up until the very end when it poured during the encore. It was very emotional.

What's your favorite band to see live? And have you ever been to a McMenamins?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

fitting it in

This weekend was a leeeeetle bit of a whirlwind. I stayed up the latest I have in a long time (1am. IN THE MORNING) on Friday night which knocked me on my face so good that my 6 hours of sleep felt like 6 minutes.

If I did the math correctly up there, that means that yes, I got up at 7am Saturday morning, and not because I'm one of those people that can function fabulously on minimal hours of sleep. It was to fit in a run that I knew was important to me to squeeze in before we drove the 3 hours to Portland, OR that day. While I desperately would have loved to sleep in to get those beauty points, getting out and being active won out and I'm really glad it did. I mean, who needs beauty rest when the creasy pillow-face and sour stank morning breath come naturally? These things shan't be wasted on a gorgeous Saturday morning in bed.

Anyway, here's what a girl does when she was up until the wee hours of the morning and needs to get in some mother loving cardio in the later hours of the morning:

1. She lays out her clothes, asthma inhaler and shoes out the previous night.
2. Upon waking, she wipes the drool off her chin, swabs a cotton ball over her mascara-covered eyes to rid them of eye boogers/leftover makeup, and brushes her teeth like a semi-decent adult.
 3. Finally, she stumbles out into the dawn after tripping on the concrete stairs. This girl is definitely not one of the graceful ones.

5 sweet miles later (I know the map says 4.5-dang watch wouldn't connect and I gave in to impatience), I felt no regret and was super happy I didn't listen to my inner sleepy-queen telling me to stay in bed. I was also completely tuckered me out for the drive, but good thing there's a little God-send called COOOFFFEEE. And good thing it was this little thing called FREEEE at the event we were going to.

Speaking of, I'll have more details on our little PDX getaway tomorrow - in involves music, vino and food so you should probably be here for it.

How was your weekend?

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

how to survive a treadmill speed workout

I had my first track workout in roughly 5.6 months this week, and you know what? It didn't suck, which was unexpected. Speed workouts not only exist to make you extremely uncomfortable, but also to build your endurance and to help you run faster. You use muscle tissue that is typically inactive when you go on slower runs, which ignites it to become one with your body to enable you to become more efficient. (cited from this Runner's World article.)

As I was panting along on the treadmill, I started pinpointing exactly what was making it so do-able for me that day. There have definitely been speedwork days that didn't "flow" as nicely, so there were items to compare and change up the next time I hit the treadmill for some Yassos. Keep in mind that these tricks for me, so try a few of them out and figure what works for you.

The sweaty girl that has been banned to the basement treadmill to run.

1. Eat a small, balanced meal 2 hours before you start your sprints.
This gives your stomach some time to digest whatever you ate so that it's not having the party of 1999 while your struggling to get those laps in. This also gives your food time to be utilized for your run to provide energy, which is something you'll be begging for. I have learned that the standard peanut-butter and jelly sandwich or a granola bar & banana combo typically do the trick.

These babies are off Joy the Baker's cookbook, that I love and cherish.

2.  Drink water! All day!
Yeah, I know you've never heard that one, but really it makes such a positive difference in your run. See that shiny face up there? That's all water loss from reserves that needs to be replenished. Water helps your muscles charge up for the workout that lies ahead, so make sure you're sipping constantly all day. I know the bathroom trips are less than ideal (unless you've bought stock in Pampers), but it's worth it. Just make sure there is a restroom nearby or else you'll be wearing out your legs before you even begin your workout!

I've discussed before my love/hate relationship with water, so if you are looking for H20 alternatives check out this article.My favorite non-water beverage of choice is this chocolate coconut water by Zico - I get mine at Trader Joe's.

 3. Get some good tunes going
I can't stress enough how much music enables me to run. When I first started running, that was essentially what got me out on the road - I had some new music I wanted to listen to, but felt like I had to get moving in order to do that. My recent favorites are Wake Me Up by Avicii, Neo Violence by The Tough Alliance, and Not The Same by Tanlines.

4. Wear comfortable clothing
I sweat a lot. I run on the treadmill at my parent's house in the cool basement and I still glisten my fave off after only 5 minutes. I've learned that in order to stay as comfortable as possible I can only wear my sports bra and light, breezy shorts. My hair is tied up and I typically pin my bangs back (I lost all my bobby pins this week), because hair can get hot. It might take some trial and error to get the feel for what wears are most conducive for a good run in your treadmill environment, so start out by wearing a t-shirt and shorts and working your way from there.

5. Keep your mind busy
I have a busy brain regardless if I'm running like a hamster, but I've found that treadmill workouts are the best times for me to plan and come up with ideas.By keeping my mind actively occupied, the sprints fly by a lot quicker than if I'm constantly staring at the screen willing the machine to magically break. I once planned a friend's baby shower in my head, and routinely think of fun weekend plans this way. Then when the workout's over, you can go back to watching Breaking Bad and take a nice mental break. Hallelujah.

 So there you have it! I would love to hear what helps your speedwork runs fly by while you fly fast.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

fill up: green wraps

Every Thursday I have a standing date with myself to get to our local Farmer's Market. It has really grown the past few years, and now houses many fruit and vegetable stands, along with those selling baked (some gluten-free!) goods, homemade aprons, fudge and a bunch of other neat items that are awesome. Oh, like honeycomb. I definitely got that as a surprise for my man, since he went ballistic when we had it for the first time in Turkey this summer.

Last Thursday I ended up buying a nice 50-pound bouquet of collard greens. It was pretty, it couldn't even fit inside the poor bag the farmer was struggling to wrestle it into. The greens came out of the fight great - the bag, not so much.

When I was in line buying produce like a crazy person, a lady asked me what I planned on making with my greens bouquet that was the size of a petite toddler. I said something about sauteeing and baking, when my friend mentioned wraps. Then all the other things flew to the back of my brain, because wraps? YEAH. I had used greens before as taco shells, why not stuff 'em full of sandwich fixings as well?

These were fast and easy to prepare, and would be even more so if you steam the leaves in advance. If you're eating raw, however, I can see why you will opt out of the steaming action. In fact, when I used them as taco shells I didn't even bother cooking them first, and they were good as long as you don't mind a little extra crunch.

For the filling, I used some vegan cheese, which did its melty thing with the hot leaves and OHMAGAWSH, it was so good with some homemade pesto, tomatoes, and onions.

I will be making these again soon, most likely in about 4 hours. I have a lot of greens to use. 

Good thing greens are always in style.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

mixing it up

Hi, friends! Since returning from our trip, things have been a little shaken up and I haven't been able to follow much of a schedule. The first two weeks after we got back, the weather was very Fall-ish and rainy (which I'm totally in to). Then of course this whole week has been hovering at about, ohh, 85 degrees and I can't drive in my un-air conditioned car without sweat dripping off my forehead. Nice.

Work has also been super busy, along with some random life things that need to get taken care of, which have all played into a very not consistent running schedule. I've been able to sneak some in when I can, even if it's just running a couple miles to meet a friend. Or to a friend's BBQ where I promptly stuff my face with a veggie dog.

One thing I have done differently is attend  a couple of these T25 workout groups with my sister. Her co-worker does it, and I was feeling adventurous and went along. Honestly, I didn't expect much of a workout, but heeeeey jello muscles. The workouts only last 25 minutes, but every second I was sweating and breathing so hard I was afraid a lung would pop. You can pick a different kind of workout every day, which is nice for a little variety.

I've also been able to run a DOG, which is only a dream come true for me. There's something about having a little furry friend with me that is incredibly motivating for me to get running. Even if he does like to greet every single person for a solid 2 minutes while I have to pause my watch and tap my foot and act like I love to stop every 5 minutes.

Oh, and I'm having major vacation withdrawals like whoa. Here's what I whipped up (read: spent 3 hours preparing).

GREEK LIFE FOR LYFE: stuffed peppers, Greek salad, pita brea, tzitzki, hummus, and toasted sweet potatoes. AKA, what I want to eat every day for the rest of my life. Let me know if you want any of those recipes. (Really, all you need to know is do not put lettuce in your Greek salad. No, no, no.)

Did you know that feta, similar to Champagne, can only be called authentic "feta" in Greece? While we were in France, we saw a lot of feta-like cheese, but it sure wasn't called that.

Enough of this nonsense talk - au voir and I bid you a happy hump day!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

get into the groove

After being away from home for three weeks without adhering to any sort of schedule, I was a little invigorated to return home and get back into a steady routine. Traveling is exhausting, in the very best way. The mind is constantly working, soaking up new sights and information, and the legs are always on the go, covering mileage I never thought I would cover when I wasn't running.

Seriously though, there was so much walking. I now think that falling into bed at night with aching, twitching leg muscles and barking dogs for feet is one of that most fulfilling feelings ever. I walked across Athens, and then walked the complete other way across Athens, and then came back and BAM, log those 16 miles in the book.

Give me a coin collector can and spare some change for the tired American girl.
 So yeah, now we're back, and aside from napping (er'ry day), doing laundry (2 tons of it), and scrambling around trying to restock our fridge, I've gotten a few runs in. It hasn't been too deathly hot around here, so I've been able to venture out after work.

I had so much energy my first day back at work, which was really unexpected given that I had only slept 9 hours after being awake for 30. (It must have been the outcome of eating all those calories I consumed while riding in planes the entire 2 days before.) That energy stuck with me on my first 6 mile run that evening, which was ab-so-lute-ly blissful - I didn't want it to end! It was one of those runs where everything feels fresh, from the air to my legs to my tunes. I had to tell myself to slow down a few times so that my thighs could be guaranteed to still work the next day.

It feels strange not training for anything at the moment, and simply running for the love of it. To have such a simple outlook on when and how long and why to run is pretty refreshing at this point, when I'm back at home and trying to get a routine going. I might just bask at this point for a little while longer and see what happens!