Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Birthday Week has Arrived

I've been behind on posting and I need to make an effort of posting more often. I feel like I need a story to post but since I remembered that this blog is really just for me to share my thoughts on food and fitness, I can just write whatever (and whenever) I want!

So, here it goes... This Thursday, September 2nd, I turn 27. I can't help but think back to my life at 26 and truly see a difference from where I am today. I think 27 will be a good year, and things will change for the best. I had a lot of fun at 26, and especially living in #413, but it's nice to finally slow down a bit and enjoy the rest of my 20's at a different pace. And when I say different, what I really meant to say is I'm changing my pace entirely.

I am digressing. I want to talk about my birthday week instead. It's finally here! In just 2 days I will turn 27, woohoo! This week has already started off with a bang, too. My team and I went out to lunch at Umi, one of my favorite sushi restaurants in Richmond.

I will digress again on the subject of sushi... I also love Osaka for their killer "Starburst Roll" pictured here. The other best sushi place in Richmond definitely comes from Mai Sushi in the Village Shopping Center. There, my top three. I'll get back to the point.

So, today was a good day. And this week is only going to get better! Tomorrow, I have a birthday breakfast with my HR team and then it's off to La Bamba for birthday dinner with a few of my girlfriends. I can't wait! It's cheap mexican downtown and great Sangria. My favorite. Thursday, my actual birthday, and John is taking me to Pescados, a restaurant I loved when I went there for my older sister's 30th birthday. They serve the best Latin/Caribbean seafood I've ever had. They made Style Weekly's 50 best restaurants and RTD's top 12. Just look at the tilapia fish tacos, will ya? So good.

What's almost more exciting than my actual birthday, is the fact that I am flying out to Boston, MA on Friday to celebrate my birthday with my best friend, soul mate, confident, and pretty much the coolest person on earth, Weezie: My Twin Sister! We get to turn 27 together and celebrate up in Boston where she lives. I can't wait! I haven't been up to Boston since St. Patty's weekend, one of my favorite times in Boston (let me tell you, it's insane!)... We are heading to Zen for our birthday dinner for a couple of sake bombs and of course, good sushi. I imagine we'll shop and walk around Boston on Saturday or go to Legal Seafood for lunch. My favorite breakfast place in Boston is by far and away the Paramount in Beacon Hill. Truly it serves the best brunch I've ever had. I love that I can get an egg-white omelette with ham and cheese plus a side of pancakes. I'm already getting way too excited for this trip and it's only Tuesday night!

All I have to say is if Hurricane Earl gets in my way during any part of my birthday week, it's on.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2010 Fitness Goals

Like many fitness junkies, I love to sign up for various races as a way to stick with my fitness goals. They keep me motivated to run harder, swim longer, or bike faster, whatever it may be. This year beats every year prior in terms of the number of races I will participate in. So, I thought I'd share my 2010 Fitness Goals on my blog. Sharing my goals makes me accountable and more likely to stick with them too!

Let's start from the beginning... Every year I run the Ukrop's Monument 10k. It's the one of the most popular 10k races in the United States, and I'm pretty sure I r
ead somewhere that it's number 26th in the
world. Not bad RVA. This year, I finished in 51:31, just about 40 seconds slower than last year. I hope to break 50 minutes next year.

Then there was the Pony Pasture 5k. We broke 25 minutes, which is a PR for me! It was a gorgeous run along Riverside Drive. The sun was shining and the James River rapids were moving fast beside us. This was my first time participating in this race. I look forward to running it every year for sure. What was more depressing was the fact that by the time we go to mile 1, racers had already turned around at the half-way point and were approaching mile 3 of the race. Ah well. Winning first place is not one of my fitness goals to be honest. My goals are for me. I compete with myself!

So those races are the only two I've completed this year so far. Now it's half-marathon season! Last year I completed my first ever half marathon here in RVA. About 5 weeks before the race, I realized I had slacked off over the summer and needed to get back on track. I had just moved in to #413, the nickname of my roommate's and my house in the fan, and the parties were epic. However, several parties later, I noticed my wallet getting thinner and I was getting fatter. I needed something to motivate me to start eating healthy again, and even if I didn't eat as healthy as I wanted to, I needed a goal that required me to run off all of the food and alcohol I was consuming. And so that's when I signed up for the half marathon. 5 weeks later, I was running the half in the pouring rain, not sure if I would really reach my goal of breaking 2 hours. When I crossed the finish line, I checked my stop watch and it read 1:57:32. Happy Day, I broke 2 hours!!! It was the greatest feeling in the world and I knew I was hooked. So I signed up again this year and while I have no plans of breaking last year's time, I still have the same goal to break 2 hours.

But wait, there's more! In addition to the Richmond Half Marathon this year, I decided to add another half marathon to my fitness goals. A good friend of mine's family has a beach house on Kiawah Island near Charleston, South Caroline. My sister went to the College of Charleston, and I absolutely love that city. When my friend told me she and her mother planned to run the Kiawah Island Golf Resort Half Marathon, and invited me along, I agreed. Why not? It's in
December, so at least it'll keep me running through the food-coma holiday of Thanksgiving. Plus, another friend of ours is joining us, so it'll be a fun girls trip down to beach! We plan on arriving a day before the race so we have a day to rest after the drive down, plus we will probably get massages afterwards! It'll be a good time and a lot of fun. Definitely looking forward to this one!

And last but not least... I signed up for my first ever triathlon!

The conversation of participating in a triathlon first came up last year when my older sister brought up the Smith Mountain Lake Triathlon. We got very excited about the idea and worked ourselves up to committing to the race. I even joined a $65/month gym just to have access to a pool. I have never been a swimmer even when I was a kid- I played softball instead. Short sprints and not a lot of long distance; That's what I was good at. I was also overweight and slow... Anyway, we ended up not following through due to my sister's knee injury and to be perfectly frank, my chicken self. After reading up on the need to prepare for 58 degree water and prevention methods for hypothermia, I realized this particular Tri was probably not the best one to be my first. I also didn't have a bike at the time.

That was in May- one of the very first triathlons of the season. Now it's August and I've been training for the Napier Realtors Richmond Sprint Triathlon on October 10th. I officially signed up (90 f'ing dollars later), so it's a go, folks. All alone. I'm a tad scared.... okay a lot!

My training has been thanks to a few co-workers who have been wonderful supporters and a great resource to me. They invite me to these practice triathlon sessions where we swim up and down the James River, hop on our bikes and ride through the park, followed by a trail run along side of the river. It's quite the adventure and I feel much more confident that I may actually pull the real triathlon off! I also should give many thanks for my amazing boyfriend who has not only been supportive and motivating, he has participated with me in the practice triathlon sessions as well. Thanks babe... I owe you!

So there you have it. My 2010 Fitness Goals... er... Races to support my goals. When I think about fitness goals, I really have one major goal: to stay healthy and fit. The whole reason I started to blog was because I truly believe in good food and good health. So wish me luck and I'll keep you posted on results!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tuesday Night Special

Every fan restaurant in #rva has a special deal on a certain night of the week. I love looking up happy hour specials, "date night" specials and of course I'm "that girl" who surfs restaurants.com for the best $25 gift cards money can buy (yes, I can get $25 gift cards for 2 bucks!). I thought I'd share a particular favorite, mainly because I don't think of crab legs being a specialty in Richmond. F.W. Sullivans, at the corner of Stafford and Main (formerly Easy Street), offers a Tuesday night special of a bucket of crab legs (3 clusters, approximately 1 lb.), and corn on the cob for $10. Honestly, where can you find such a good deal for just ten bucks? And it's a LOT of crab. Unfortunately, I'm awful at removing the shells so it took me a good hour to finish the whole bucket. Defintitely a must if you want a good deal for cheap... Get crackin'!

So while this bucket had plenty of
food, don't you feel like crab is just not enough to satisfy you as a meal? We sure didn't... So what do the girls of #413 do when we are still hungry after eating a bucket of crab legs? Hit up Red Lobster for some cheddar biscuits, that's what! Somehow, we got this crazy idea to pick up cheddar biscuits to-go. You can order a dozen of 'em for $3.99. What a bargain. And boy did we enjoy them... It was a great way to round out our cheap meal for the night, and an awesome breakfast in the morning too!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mayor of Buttermilk Trail

Since I just won the mayorship of the Buttermilk Trail yesterday on foursquare (#nerd), I thought I'd share two of my latest and greatest hobbies that I picked up over the summer.

I've always been a treadmill runner. When I first started running, I'd focus on endurance and
consistent speed as I trained my body to run longer and faster. Now I know
exactly when my muscles will start to fatigue based on various speeds and times without even looking down at the stats on my machine. I'm perfectly comfortable staring at the same crack in the brick wall in front of my treadmill for a full 5 miles and not even think twice about it. I actually enjoy it. It's a chance to blank out my mind, forget about everything and just run blindly. I don't even enjoy people watching, imagine that!

But recently I've picked up a new hobby. Trail Running. At first, it was awkward. Tripping over tree roots and rocks, unstable ankles as I try to "run" down steep hills and then squat-run up-hill while my hamstrings scream in agony and my heart rate shoots to an all-time high. I didn't realize that trail running would be absolutely NOTHING like treadmill running. My first time on a trail was Buttermilk back in April. Buttermilk will always be my favorite I think. It was such a rush to run through the woods and along Belle Isle, leaping over boulders and avoiding tree limps along the path. My first thought was the movie Avatar and every time I run I still think about that damn movie.

So now I've had the opportunity to try other trail runs and they all are different in their own special way. Like Powhite Park. That place has a huge half pipe that I never thought I'd run through but I did it, screaming the whole way. Forest Hill Park has an incredible view of a man-made lake at the bottom of the trail, followed by the steepest hill I've ever had to climb. Although most of the time I feel like I'm going to throw up after this up-hill sprint, after that sensation goes away, the feeling of accomplishment eventually kicks in (after sucking in all the air I possibly can into my lungs while I recover).

I recently traveled to Abingdon, Virginia where I got to pursue my other new hobby of mountain/road biking. I'm not good at it, but with few months (or years) of practice I hope to actually keep
up with my other bike friends and not be scared of bridges anymore (Yes, a certain someone thought it was a good idea to bike across the Huguenot Bridge as my first ride on my new road bike...). My first time in Abingdon was nothing short of amazing. After a tour of the town, we stopped by the Farmer's Market to pick up fresh goat cheese, braised ground pork, dark chocolate fudge (made out of goat cheese), and marmalade to bring home to my Mom (she loves that kind of stuff).

After the Farmer's Market and our 4th or 5th cup of coffee of the day, we headed over to a bike rental store along Creeper Trail and rented our mountain bikes. We hit the trail and enjoyed the ride. Creeper Trail is absolutely gorgeous. I've never seen views like this in Virginia. Who knew this kind of scenery was right in our backyards? The trail went through rough roads, long wooden bridges over small waterfalls, and stretches of grass where cows dined as we passed by. We got about 9 miles out, just 7 miles shy of the town of Damascus before the sky fell on us. We were already covered in rain and mud, but turned back anyway to enjoy a chili dog at the Old Alvarado Station for lunch (about half way along the trail between Abingdon and Damascus) and watched the rain fall.

As soon as the rain lightened up, we hit the trail home, trying to beat out other riders and runners as we raced to the end. It was quite the experience despite the soreness in my butt and legs. I was looking forward to a long hot shower and maybe another cup of coffee. Or a beer.

The rest of the trip was fantastic, but that'll be another story since I wanted this post to be about my new outdoor adventures in running and biking. Trail running has transformed the way I look at my normal fitness routine. It's definitely opened up a new door of opportunities and fun. I don't think of it as exercise at all even though I reap the benefits of just that. As a result of picking up new activities, I'm training for my first triathlon and hope these adventures will help with my training. I'm also somewhat of a chicken and these adventures have made me a little less fearful, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. We shall see!