Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Running Solo

I did it. I signed up for the Capital 10 Miler and I'm running the race solo. I decided to signed up anyway since I'm doing the sprint triathlon next weekend all alone too, and I think running the Capital 10M will help calm my nerves about my solo triathlon race. Besides, 10 miles will be great time to be on my own, collect my thoughts and enjoy the view. The race goes through downtown Richmond, Oregon Hill and ends right at the Capital. I certainly won't be alone as there will be plenty of other runners with me. Plus, I am scheduled to run 9 miles this Sunday anyway for my half-marathon training. At least I get it out of the way early in the weekend!

Actually, now that I think of it, it's definitely good I'm squeezing my training in early Saturday morning. Not only will it help me get use to the "race environment" for the real run, but there's another race immediately after the Capital 10M that same day I'm participating in... Don't worry. I'm not crazy to do 2 races. The reason being is that the 2nd race is called the OK5K, and it involves lots of drinking!

The OK5K is a 5k run and you stop at various bars throughout downtown Richmond for a drink in between. my cousin Greg runs the event (his German Club) in line with the Oktoberfest events throughout the area. A few of us did it last year and had a blast running across the Manchester bridge to Legend's where we enjoyed a pale ale out of the deck looking over the water. It was a lot fun and we're very excited about participating this year for sure! You should too... Go to OK5K.org for details. We will be starting at Penny Lane around 11am!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

California Here I Come

I'm back from the west coast with lots to share! Aside from the beautiful weather, steep roads and mountains, and excellent shopping, San Francisco offered an incredible spread of food to choose from. My co-worker Jessica and I flew out to San Francisco last Tuesday morning at 6AM to work out of our sister company's office out in Novato. We landed around 12PM west coast time and after checking in at our hotel, freshening up, we immediately went in to work the rest of the day. Exhausting, I know. Afterwards, we decided to get dinner immediately and go to bed early so we can keep our brains on east coast time. We decided to try Boca Steak House. After ordering a delcious bottle of blended red wine (half off bottles of wine on Tuesday!), we selected ground lamb empanadas to start, and we both went for the petite hanger steak with duck fat fries. It was awesome to say the least. On Wednesday, we both woke up at 3AM, still on east coast time. I tried to go for a run in the hotel gym, but my body could only drag me through 3 measly miles. Instead of hitting up lunch in their huge cafeteria, we were invited to their HR chili cookoff. This was awesome for me since I love chili, and especially a cookoff where I get to try multiple types. We had plans to head to wine country after work to eat dinner but with the 45-min drive ahead of us, we decided to bag the idea and just grab dinner at Wildfox. Jessica wasn't feeling well and staying close by seemed like the best thing to do. It worked out great because we ordered 2 specialty pizzas and split them - filet mignon, mushroom and gorganzola, and procciutto, arugula and smoked fontina. YUM. Such a comfort meal, plus I never eat pizza anymore so this was a huge treat for me (I figured if I'm traveling and they are gourmet pizza, then its okay to splurge, right?)...
I got in another 4 mile run during my stay in Novato, then we headed into the city to spend out last night in a hip hotel in Union Square - Le Meridien Hotel.
On the way into the city, we decided our trip wouldn't be complete without stopping by In and Out Burger. They are only franchized on the west coast so we went for the double cheeseburger and split it between the 2 of us. After crossing back over the Golden Gate Bridge, we stopped by Lands End, but it was too foggy to see anything around us. After a few wrong turns and a drive-by of Fisherman's Warf, we finally made it to our hotel. Seated in the center of the financial district, our hotel view of the San Francisco Bay bridge and enormous office buildings was beautiful. We decided to walk around Market St. and Westfield Shopping center where we visited the 2nd largest Nordstrom in the US among other stores. Afterwards, we enjoyed a delicious "French Sparkle" martini with an elegant cheese tray in our hotel bar, then headed to Ozumo for dinner down by the water. I had the most amazing sushi roll filled with toro, avocado, asparagus and sprouts, wrapped in a daikon radish. It probably ranks as one of the best rolls of I've ever tasted... Dessert included assorted fruits dipped in dark chocolate fondue and a homemade guava sorbet. To top of it all off, we were told that Michael Jackson's brother Randy was sitting next to us... Not sure though.

Overall the trip to Cali was great. Got all my work done and definitely enjoyed the sights, sounds, tastes and scenes, even despite the long flights from coast to coast.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Half Marathon Training Begins

It's that time of year again... Half Marathon training begins! After my amazing Labor Day weekend slash birthday week celebration, I am back from Boston, refreshed, overfed, and ready to carb-load all the way to the finish line.
Plus, I got new running shoes a few weeks ago to kick off the training season right. Mizuno Creation Waves. Pretty cool, huh? So far, they are amazing to run in so I'm pleased.

John and I have decided to use the "Break 2:00 or Bust" half marathon training schedule by Runner's Word Magazine. It's a 10-week training program designed to help runners complete a half-marathon in under 2 hours. Last year, I ran my first half marathon. My goal was to break 2 hours and to my surprised I did! My time was 1:57:32 and this year is the same goal. I have no intentions of beating my last year's time since I think breaking 2 hours is good enough for my level of fitness and specifically running. John has never done a half-marathon, but he's going to kick my ass regardless...

With that said, I feel to share John's "spill" on Day 3 of half marathon training...

The training schedule for week 1, day 3, had us running a 5 mile tempo run with 3 of the miles at a 8:54 pace. We were doing great, breaking 9 minute miles the whole way and I think closer to a 8:30 pace. We did our usual Riverside Drive run but added a loop to the Huguenot Bridge and back to get the extra mile in (our regular loop is only 4 mi
les from John's house to Pony Pasture and back). We were approaching the end of the trail portion of our run at about mile 4 and I look up to see John flying through the air onto the ground. The poor guy tripped over a tree root at about 7.5 miles per hour, skinned his knees and covered himself in dirt. After I knew he was okay, I immediately took a photo when we got home to share on my blog, hehe.

Day 3 and already a man down. These 10 weeks will be quite an interesting journey.... Wish us luck!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Shipping out to Boston

Welcome to Boston!

I love this town. Every time I come to Boston I want to move here. My twin sister lives here, great friends all around, great sights, scenes, and of course food. Not to mention great movies are filmed here. If you haven't seen The Departed, you are totally missing out.

Lucky for me,
Hurricane Earl ended up being a total wimp and did not
screw up my trip to Boston over Labor Day weekend for my 27th birthday. I flew in on an earlier flight though, just in case! My twin sister, Weezie and I took over the town, and as if I don't say this every time I visit Boston, this weekend might just be one of the best. To start, we took a stroll through Boston and stopped at the Barking Crab, a little seafood dive right on the Harbor. We enjoyed fish and chips and of course a Lobster roll, a New England Tradition. The view was beautiful and the weather was perfect. And take a look at our incredible crab cake appetizer to start. Delish! Anyway, we wrapped up the first night with dinner at Zen, a killer sushi restaurant in Beacon Hill (near Weezie's apartment), followed by Sake bombs and a local bar. Hurricane Earl soaked my clothes and flip flops, but certainly not the mood as Weez and I celebrated our 27th b-day together.

Saturday: I decided to cure my hangover with a run along the Charles River. Now I know I brag about the great trails and riverside runs I have back in RVA, but this run pales in comparison. The fresh sea water wind whipping my face gave me the kind of energy only negative ions can do when they come off the surface of the water. The theme song to Boondock Saints and Braveheart came on my iPod Shuffle during the run and I swear that can't be a coincidence, right? Fast forward to Sunday morning... I decided to go on the same run but this time I'd cross the Mass Ave Bridge over the Charles River and run along the other side, only to cross back over the river once more on the Longfellow bridge. Words can't describe how beautiful it was. Hands down the Charles River run beats out the San Diego Harbor, Pony Pasture and all the other runs with great views. It was about 75 degrees too, which was absolutely perfect.

Left: The Mass Avenue Bridge; Right: The Longfellow Bridge

The other reason this weekend tops my "best weekends in Boston" list is because I got to go to my first Red Sox game at Fenway Park! We kicked our Saturday with lunch as Baseball Tavern across the street from the stadium. Weezie's roommate works the rooftop at the restaurant and naturally wrapped up lunch with a few shots and a trip to the liquor store to hide a few mini bottles (or as Bostonian's say "nips") in our purses for the game. Fenway Park has old wooden seats and a traditional feel to it. It was truly a great experience.

Following the game, my sister took me up to Top of the Hub, the restaurant on the top of the Prudential Building, where you can see 360 degrees of the Boston skyline. It's quite the view despite the $12 mojitos and expensive brie appetizer. Definitely worth it!

And speaking of views, Weezie and I decided to walk to Charlestown, MA and have lunch at Tavern on the Water, a harbor-side restaurant similar to the Barking Crab, but on the other side of the harbor with a view of downtown Boston. About a 2-3 mile walk, we eventually sat down for lunch, enjoying their incredible bloody mary bar, their thick and hearty new england clam chowder, and some of the best tuna tartare I've ever had. I was so full, I didn't even bother trying the teriyaki flank steak skewers that Weezie ordered. It was the best day, spent with my wonderful twin sister. We eventually walked back, and caught an afternoon matinee before I had to fly out that evening. "Going the Distance" was a perfect movie to see since it has a strong sister bond story line to it. Plus, Weez and I LOVE Christina Applegate. I mean, who doesn't?

Left: Twin sister, Weezie; Right: Me at Tavern on the Water in Charlestown, MA.

What a great weekend. Thank you Weezie and the Boston crew for one of the best birthday weekends ever! I definitely had a blast and I can't wait to make it back up to Boston again soon!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Birthday dinner at Edo Squid

Oh holy Jesus. We just had the best dinner ever at Edo Squid. Was planning on going to Pescados but wasn't craving Latin/Caribbean seafood anymore. John ordered the duck and it was monumental. Happy birthday to me!