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Archive for July, 2012

My running has been scattered, I’ve been going from 50 to 30 miles before Chicago.  55 miles after Chicago and back to 40 miles last week!  Right after Chicago I dove straight into running, 11 days none stop for 95 miles.  I won’t go into the detail of most runs since all my emotions have been poured into my Daily Mile updates instead but here’s a summary of the runs by day.

A few things to note:

– I think the 13 and some of the 11 milers were done in two parts between lunch and post work. With time management I am finding it physically and mentally easier to run twice in one day then once in a long time.

– That being said, I think I’m okay with doing double duty for mileage as long as I do one real “long run” a week

– The 15 miles on Saturday was my first long run in a while.  I flirted with some 13 milers in the beginning of the month but haven’t really done long runs in one standing

– The 15 miler was rough.  I averaged out at a 9:05 pace which includes a fast stretch and potty stop at mile 11.  I wish I could say 15 felt easy but I don’t think mentally I’m in long run shape.  I know physically I can do it, but my mind is not into it

– I struggled through the 15 miler by listening to gardening pod-casts.  I don’t actually think I absorbed anything or had any clue what they were talking about but it made me feel like I was multitasking and not just doing something I wasn’t in the mood for (like running).

– I’m been doing fartleks (not to be confusing with farting haha) on my treadmill runs.  I don’t think it’s the best kind of training for me since I should work on keeping a pace but those help make things less boring.

– I skipped a long run this weekend because I was visiting my family in NY.  Between 9 hours on a bus and just how fast a day and half fly by, I decided taking a 3 hour run was not the best use of my time.  And no waking up early is not an option.  I love my sleep dearly.

– I was stubborn.  So stubborn that I decided I couldn’t go to bed until I did a long run on Monday.  The 22 miles is composed of 6 miles during lunch and 16 after work.  The 16 miles were hard physically.  I thought two days of rest would make me amped up for speed, instead I wanted to sit on the couch and watch Olympics as I ran vicariously through the professionals on TV.   I took an 8 minute break around mile 14 where I had to beg myself into going back outside for 2 more miles.  In the end the average pace with break was 9:41.  I know that I ran around 8:30 for the first 8 miles before I just lost energy.

– I did take Gu Chumps, but Gu Chumps can’t replace a real meal that my body was craving at 7:30 PM.  I tried to tell it that if it waited til 9 a burger and beer was waiting for it, but it wouldn’t believe me.  I listened to about 3 running podcasts to keep me motivated.

Run Run Live podcast is awesome so I highly recommend it for some mojo on your run.

Why am I so insistent on long runs again after calling it quits for the summer? Well I must confess, flipflopped back on running the RnR Montreal marathon if I don’t have to work that weekend.  I had a slight freak-out when all the promo hotels with group discounts were sold out.  But! I found shelter for $36 a night next to the starting line.  AirBnB rocks!

I will also be using AirBnB for renting a room for the Providence RnR half marathon!  While I haven’t personally stayed in a room through the site yet, friends that have said it turned out cheaper and better than a hotel room so we shall see.

And because I can’t have a post without some pictures

Whenever I visit Brooklyn, sushi takeout is a must

Since Tony wasn’t there with me, I got this all to myself!

My parents took me to Ikea because I am in search of cheap curtains

Alas, no curtains were purchased at Ikea but somehow I walked out with a full belly instead.  I must say, next time I’m going to try to trade some of the balls for more mashed potatoes.  It was great!

This is a Tuesday shot but GeorgeTown cupcakes on Newbury celebrating Crocs

Can I just say that the free secret cupcakes they have everyday is the best worst idea ever.

Hope everyone had a great July!

Can’t believe it’s August in a night’s sleep.  Where did my summer go!

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After a day of walking around downtown Chicago we slept in with no alarm.  I still stayed on Boston time and took a run instead.

Finally after much wasting time around the hotel room, we made it outside.  We made a stop at Wrigley Field.  It was actually a small mistake as I decided to randomly exit there.  A game was happening so it was a bit insane.

Madness… so we got back on the train and went further north until the train went no more.  Then we took a commuter rail further north.  Finally we arrived somewhere that was within a mile walk of the Chicago Botanical Gardens.  

Much to our surprise it was free!  I guess that’s why the sales tax is like one million percent.

There was a creepy statue that glared at us

Of course with our luck it started to pour!  But not before we got to watch a food demo and have a tasty sampling

Who knew that avocados and blueberries worked so well!

So it rained and rained after eating and waiting for over an hour we sucked it up and purchased this fashionable wear.

There was a mile of walking to the train so I was worried for my electronics.  Well… needless to say as soon as we got fashionable, it stopped raining.  You welcome Chicago Botanical Garden visitors.  Luckily admission to the park was free so I considered these overpriced ponchos as part of my donation to the gardens.

Proof that it really did rain!

There was a pretty rock garden/water falls thing

and trees!

They also had a really awesome Japanese garden but I didn’t take any pictures there because I was enjoying being peaceful and zen.

When we got back, we had a real fancy dinner…

It’s not a true vacation until Subway is consumed.  Sometimes you just want something cheap, and filling and Subway hits the spot.  Smelling flowers make you hungry.  Don’t worry we kept it classy with some wine.

As we walked from our hotel to Millennium park I can tell you that the Magnificent Mile gets a whole lot less magnificent.  I guess all the crackheads and bums only come out at night in Chicago while on the east coast they work full time full day of creeping little girls out.

The hatch thing had an evening concert as well and they were performing Broadway songs!  We even got a seat mid-show.  No need to sit on a grass or watch in envy for all those well prepared lawn chair peeps.

Great performance!  And I only got 1 mosquito bite. A winning night.

I even found the bean I couldn’t find the day before in daylight.

Of course the night didn’t end there, as we walked back to our hotel we saw fireworks!

I think they are shot from Navy Pier.

So day 2

1. Lots of flower and train travel

2. Some more rain

3. Subway – Spicy Italian is the only way to go!

4. Free concert in the park

5. Fireworks!

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Sorry if you get this post twice in your email, I hit publish by mistake before I was done!

Tony and I took a 6AM flight from Logan to Midway which let us explore the most in day one without having to pay for a hotel the night before.

It was early and after checking into the hotel we started by walking down to Millennium Park… Well actually correction, I started by walking us in the wrong direction (north vs. south).  It was a good mile uptown before I said to myself, hmm the lake seems to be on the wrong side!

I have to admit, seeing a real metropolis distracted me from my usual sense of direction

After doing the embarrassing tourist turnaround, we made our way to the park

They have a very cool outdoor bandshell where an orchestra was performing! Also, what makes Millennium Park even cooler was that 12 years ago it was a wasteland of parking lots and railways and now is one of the greatest urban parks out there!  Per Google this is what is used to look like:

Projects like this always go beyond budget and have a ton of corruption behind them but the results are still so amazing and great for a city.  Down with parking lots up with parks! Roar!

We walked past the smells of Taste of Chicago (I decided to pass on sausages and hot dogs in exchange for finer snobby dining) and made our way to Buckingham Fountains.  We had lunch reservations at 1:30 and it was mind over stomach!

Also a sad but gross display, Toms are comfortable BUT nothing including Toms will be comfortable in 95 degree weather as you walk around for miles being a tourist.  My feet cried for flip-flops and I’m pretty sure these shoes lost 10 months of wear from me pressing in the back.

Finally it was time to walk over to Blackbird for our reservations.  I was super excited after reading about it on yelp, blogs and Anthony Bourdain’s love for Chef Paul Kahan.  I’m an impressionable foodie…

I opted for a 3 course special, I think it was like $25 bucks or something.  My first course was great.  kombu cured fluke with spring mojo verde, spruce tips and lardo.  I love cured salty fish, its the little Jewish gal in me. After the first course, I was excited for the main entree…

Yup.. that was it.  My cat could vomit up a bigger plate of food!  Give me a slice of bread with it at least.  Those are small thin pieces of wood-grilled sturgeon with some kind of sour white sauce on the side.  It tasted great but I was hungrier afterwards then I was before it.

Then there was the terrible service.  It’s not that our waiter was rude, he was quite polite and seemed like a nice fellow, but each course took over 35 minutes to get there.  I get it that when you sit down things take a while to get started but you usually don’t have to wait 35-45 minutes between each plate.

Before the dessert came out, I was wondering if the chef drove out to the woods to pick the blueberries himself.  We got there at 1:30 PM and it was 3:30PM on a Friday.  The place was mostly empty so it wasn’t that they were swamped with orders.  Finally after staring for 45 minutes at my mostly empty plate, this came out.  No apologies, no explanations, as if I really have nothing better to do than sit and stare at an empty plate for 45 minutes.  Don’t get me wrong, the blueberries with hay ice cream, smoked honey meringue, thyme were delicious, but I was starting to get a splitting hunger headache.

Tony got a burger that he claimed was tiny but it looked like a meal fit for a king compared to mine.  Luckily he had some fries that I stole as my plate became empty fairly soon.

Two hours later and more hungrier than before we walked back to the hotel for a nap.

Artsy parking lots?

After nap time we went to a random sketch comedy thing I found on GoldStar comp tickets.  I highly recommend if you’re bored with nothing to do and want to go out check out the comp section.

We walked around Wicker Park, a sort of Williamsburg wannabe.  I loved all the shops, and restaurants and could have started a new home there and been happy.

Luckily for our second meal of dinner.  It did not disappoint!  Cumin, a modern Nepalese resturant was just what we needed to regain our confidence in Chicago dining.

I went with cauliflower florets deliciously cooked in nepalese spices with tomatoes and ginger-garlic paste and Tony went we a chicken curry dish and we had ourselves a happy feast!

So day 1:

– Lots of walking, Toms are bad for 95 degree weather

– Chicago is fun to explore, especially millennium park

– Don’t eat at Black Bird unless you’re not very hungry and have 2 hours to sit and stare

– If you’re in Wicker Park, check out Cumin!  You must, you must! It was so good.  Looking at the pictures is making me drool!

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I’ll continue my Chicago recap with my second favorite part of the trip; dining at Girl and the Goat!  After running in Chicago, this was my favorite.  It was a struggle finding space for a reservation as it seems to be booked months in advance. Luckily I had a perfect day for a 4:30 dinner; Monday the day we flew back to Boston.  97 degrees where all we could do was seek refuge in air conditioned stores and watering holes.  4:30 couldn’t come soon enough.

Upon entering I was surprised by how large the space was with open windows and daylight lightening up the room.  After a few minutes, we got seated and our eyes were evaluating our options…

Tony got himself a cognac, bourbon cocktail while I stuck to beer.  I tried the Salt Lake City Dubhe Imperial Black IPA  which I never had before. It had the taste of mild stout with the crispness and hop of an IPA.  Very fun.

We picked out 6 tapa style plates.  Our first was this tomato bread that they make fresh in the restaurant with a side of spicy pickles .

Next was the bristol bay sockeye tartare with truffle vinaigrette, summer squash & popiah. I wasn’t sure what popiah is but I assume by the process of deduction it’s the crisp bread on top.

Next came the goat empanadas and I think this was my second favorite out of the 6 plates we got.  I don’t remember exactly what was on it since I didn’t take a picture of the goat part of the menu, but it was delicious.

Next was grilled baby octopus with guanciale, favas, radish and pistachio-lemon vinaigrette

This was our first time trying octopus.  It was more tender and juicier than calamari and I love it.  I don’t think Tony was into it as much but I traded him some extra from the other plates for more of this dish.  It was my favorite out of the 6.

Next were the scallops with foie gras vinaigrette, klug plums, sweet onion & brioche crouton. Scallops are awesome; ’nuff said.

Our final of the 6 plates was the Pig Face… Not quite sure what to expect before it came out.

I let Tony do the honors. Wood over roasted pig face with sunny side egg, tamarind, cilantro, red wine-maple & potato stix.  Even after eating it I wasn’t sure if I really was eating a Pig’s face.  Well thanks to google I now know that Pig Face is a “gelatinous dish that’s composed of cleaned pig head, minus the organs.”

Our waitress was perfect.  We told her that we had to leave by 6:15 to head to the airport and she made sure we were paid and all set to leave exactly by then.  However, we just couldn’t help ourselves and ordered a 7th dish.  Zucchini bread and maybe a second beer haha.

Overall Stephanie Izard’s Girl & the Goat was one of the finest and unique dining experiences I have had.  I don’t think I have eaten anywhere where I can try such a diverse and yet well prepared set of dishes.  If you live in a cave and are like me who never heard of Stephanie Izard; she’s the only female winner of Top Chef and this is her resturant.

So if you find yourself in Chicago and are going out for one nice meal, try to get in here!  They always have a set of walk-in tables but I’m not too sure how long the wait is.  Luckily, there’s a comfy set of couches and a great bar to wait by.

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I know today was a successful day, it involved a 15 mile run, gardening and fish tacos with me being at home in PJs by 10.

I know, you think I’m possessed but it’s been an exhausting week!  I’m old now, gone are the days where 5 hours of sleep was all I needed for the week.   Before I get to today, I’ll recap the rest of the week.

Wednesday was a 6 mile run plus Jillian Michaels No More Trouble Zones. Love JM beyond words!  I gave up on doing the ToneItUp workouts as I see them as ineffective for the amount of time I need to put it.  I prefer Jillian’s wam bam thank you pain style instead.

Thursday’s run seem easy with an incline of 2 (vs. 3) and my speed up 30 seconds less per mile (8:30 vs 9:00).

Tony and I went to Cirque Du Soleil Totem on Thursday night as well.  The show was fun but 3 hours long so we got home way past our work bedtime.

You can still get discounted tickets on Goldstar for a discounted price of $30 and it’s well worth it!

We were trying to figure out a cheap (relatively) place to get dinner in the Seaport area which was no easy task, luckily with yelp I found Yankee Lobster Co.

The scallops and shrimp was yummy but even Tony didn’t touch the haddock.  It tasted like rubber so if you go there skip the fish and chips (although the chips were yummy) and get the scallops and shrimp.  So good!  It’s also right next door to the Harpoon Brewery so if you have extra time and are in the area take a tour.

I also picked up some curried couscous from the farmer’s market and voila dinner was grand.

Friday I ran 11 miles and was not in pain.  I’m trying to make up for the lack of running last week due to Chicago heat and exploration desire.  I want to PR again at Providence next month.  I know the chances are slim since I PRed at my last two half marathon but I’m going to give it the old college try!  If not, I’ll just mark another state of my half marathon check list.

As for today… Well today was busy. It started with meeting with a contractor to go over bathroom additions.  (Who wants to donate bathroom labor to the Liana’s home charity?). Eventually we ended up at Mahoney’s; a plant nursery.  My eyes were wide with wanting to plant every vegetable out there.  However, its end of season and there were not much options.  So luckily I did not blow all my pennies on plants that will probably die.  Aside from lack of ever having a garden, having a history of killing most house plants I owned (most of it was due to keeping my house at 45 degrees when I wasn’t home); the main problem is that our house doesn’t get direct sunlight much.  We have these trees that create lovely shade to sit in for people not veggies.

I present you my garden.  The previous owner loved cinder-blocks!  While I hope to remove them in the coming years, for now I’m leaving it as is.  I did spend like two hours elbow deep in the dirt trying to pull out all sorts of weeds and roots from god knows what. I think some of the weeds might have been older than me.  I felt bad for killing my elders but they had to go!

We got one head of lettuce to test out.  If the lack of sunlight doesn’t kill it, I’m sure the bunnies will eat it before I get to it.

We are also testing out one pepper plant!

The Impatiens my mother planted and the violet petunia that was on sale so I got it.

Our Herbal corner with my little Mrs. Burns Lemon basis and the giant mint plant I got today.  I’m now on the look out for dill but Mahoney’s was all out.  I hope my basil survives as I dragged it all the way back from Chicago’s Botanical Gardens (they were giving one out for free and it almost died when my luggage tried to crush it.)

After a visit to the garden shop and the farmer’s market, we got hungry.  Suburban living makes you hungry.  Luckily I had a EverSave coupon for a Mexican joint in Stoneham.  Three Amigos is a small family owned restaurant of the main square in Stoneham.  We scanned the menu and wanted everything.  Luckily we learned that we can’t eat everything and tacos make crappy leftovers once assembled.

Tony’s huge steak burrito cooked perfectly.  I can’t vouch for the meat being the highest grade but it was tender and I couldn’t taste the fat pieces that I usually do in cheap Mexican places.

I went with fish tacos!  I love fish tacos.

We also got adventurous and ordered the hot carrots.  It was interesting, sort of like pickled peppers.

By the time I was done de-weeding and pretending to garden it was 6:30 and I was determined to get a run in.  Yes, I can’t believe I did 15 miles today… This might be my longest run since May.  I’ve just been calling quits at 13 and I was pretty close to stopping at 11.4 when I stopped by the house for a little potty action (charming I am).  Regardless I went back out there and slowly pushed through the final 3.6 miles.  I started the run around 6:30 in the evening and decided to go at a comfortable pace which involved me not checking my pace or time and just running for the feel it.  I listened to “Grow your grub”  podcast and zoned out for a bit.  Of course I had no idea what any of the gardening things they talked about but it made me motivated!  I think not counting the home water/bathroom break I had an average 9 minute pace.  Afterwards I was starving again, so of course two bowls of noodles make a great source of refuel.

Do you have a garden? Any tips? Do you know anything that grows in shade besides mose? 

Also, ever do any home reconstruction projects on your own?

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Back to Running business

As my holiday came to an end I wasted no time in getting back to (running) business.

Tuesday 10.5 miles broken up with 6 for lunch and 4.5 after my slow stretch and strength class.

Today was the same 6 during lunch that felt difficult and draining with the humidity on full blast in the gym.  I went in the late afternoon after everyone worked out so the sweat of all others was fully in the air!

I’m excited for the half marathon in Providence at the end of August and wish it was sooner as I get a little depressed without racing.  I would race Tony but he just gives me a dirty look and says no.

Since I have nothing introspective to write, I’ll entertain you with pictures of what I ate (last) Wednesday since this Wednesday its less picturesque.

Arugula, shrimp and weird coleslaw from the cafe!

My favorite “cooking” creation as of late – quinoa . rainbow of chopped peppers, sprouted tofu with sesame oil and lots of red pepper

Mango and spinach coconut milk protein shake; try not to like it, I dare you!

And yes I have to confess, Georgetown cupcakes is as amazing as everyone says it is. I’m not a cupcake type of gal (cookies are my true love) but this pumpkin baby held my heart for the hour.   It just opened up on Newbury so feel free to check it out!

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I’ve been idle on R2M and DailyMile because I was marching (actually with the heat it was more like crawling in a zombie stumble) the streets of Chicago.  A recap with gratuitous photos is in the works.

On Thursday night while I was packing I decided it was a good idea to pack 4 sets of running clothes because of 4 days in Chicago means I’ll go running 4 times… right?

Total times I went for a run was once!  Lesson is that I should pack half as many work-out clothes as I think I will be using and chances are I still won’t use them for anything else besides sleeping in.

The North Avenue beach path was only half a mile north of our hotel!

This path almost made me want to quit my job, sell my house and move to Chicago!

I was envious of this amazing urban beach right in the backyard of Chicagoans; that is until I saw how expensive it is to rent there and realized that if I did live in Chicago I would be too cheap to live by North beach.

Had Tony not been waiting for me at the hotel room I think I could have ran forever.  By the time I was done the weather was hitting 85 degrees.  And yes this was the coolest day out of the 4 we were in Chicago for.  Good thing I brought my own water bottle with me.

Overall about 5.5 miles on a lovely beach path.  I’m not sure the total distance as my runkeeper app and Iphone in general was going crazy bouncing signals all over the place.

I almost missed out on this scenic run!  I went to the hotel gym and wanted to hit the TM before Tony woke up only to be welcomed by a broken machine and two occupied ones.  Luckily, I was stubborn and just took it outside.

Next time you’re traveling and the hotel gym is a complete disappointment like it usually is, take it outside!  You might be surprised by what you find.  I just followed some other running person that led me to this.  Dude probably thought I was a creepster.

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