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Posts Tagged ‘Dining’

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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July 4th is a special day… not only is it America’s birthday but it’s also Tony and my anniversary and we all know what’s more important!

This year Tony took me out to Salts, a French influenced contemporary American restaurant.  Their own organic farm is located in Canterbury, New Hampshire and I’ve been salivating over photos of their food since I read about it a few weeks ago in a foodie mag.

We started with the highlight of the meal!

Just kidding!  While we waited for our app, the waitress brought over this soup that was a mix of roasted peppers and mushrooms!  So good.  The plate is so big and crazy though.

Next came our appetizer!

Bergamot Cured Ocean Trout that they split between two plate so Tony and I didn’t have to fork it out on who can eat faster so we could eat more.

All for the main course?

All mine!  Just kidding, this was the roasted duck for TWO… or just me on a long run day. Luckily for Tony I only ran a 3 miles that day.  It was perfect, crispy on the outside, soft and juicy on the inside!  I ate the apple herb stuffing and turnips in seconds and then I progressed to the beast.

They carved the duck for us and this is what the plate looked like for each of us.  We almost cleaned it and I thought we did a great job on the duck… that is until I turned around and saw there was still more than half of it left.   We did call it quits and took it to go.  A perfect dinner for later in the weekend.

Tony is hard at work there.

We were too full for dessert but the waitress brought these over with our check and how could we say no to free cookies

Yup, I guess we weren’t as full as I thought we were.

Quality price I pay for always forgetting my camera but I guess memories are memories even in all blurry forms.

One of my favorite dinners with my favorite guy!

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I’ve been off topic in the Run to Munch world.  Well not off topic, still munching just not running.  On Monday I saw the ART/(Active Release Technique) doctor.  I get all my information even medical from Wikipedia so here’s what I learned. But basically after enough poking & pulling  I left the doctor’s office a little sore but feeling great!  I was too busy to test out my legs/butt on Tuesday but on Wednesday and Thursday I had two great runs!

They were slow runs but after 10 days of not running I was just happy to be back on my trusty semi rusty treadmill.  I pounded 6.7 miles on Wednesday and 8 on Thursday both at or just below 9 minute miles.

Then Friday came and my left butt/leg felt tight and wrong again.  It’s not pain per say but a dull ache has returned.  I did have a follow-up appoint where some more poking and pulling went on and I felt better. He showed me some more stretches that made me realize just how much more tight my left hip is compared to my right hip.  That probably explains why I’m always getting injured in that area.  I pulled my hipflexor before in boxing so injuries in that area seem to be a constant theme.  Parts of it are from sitting at a desk all day and then going to intense bursts of activity.  Or doing intense bursts of activity and then sitting all day.

I actually haven’t been too depressed about the lack of running because I’ve been super busy with trying to figure out how to pack.  Packing sucks!  The only thing worst then packing was is going to be unpacking!

On Thursday we learned how to change our own locks!

Total savings so far $500.  Why are locksmiths so expensive?

Saturday was moving day where we had help from some cool kids!  Most important object moved?

Why?  Because he’s carrying some very important cargo!

Jack did his part in the packing insanity…

He kept guard of my purses!

After the boys and girl helped us move all our crap from one home to the new home, we took them out for food.  It was the least we could do after all the furniture and misc boxes of stuff we probably don’t really need that they helped us move.  Tony and I wanted to take them somewhere that exemplifies Malden’s diversity and the growing food “scene.”  We picked out BIRYANI PARK .

Biryani Park prides itself on cooking healthy, authentic cuisine prepared with the freshest, top quality, organic ingredients.  According to the Malden Patch, Pramilla Mathews describes the preparations as “healthy and straight from the heart”.  At first bite you can tell that Pramilla, a Sri Lankan native and her chef, South Indian Veeramuchu Managati have prepared each dish with care and love.  The cuisines of Sri Lanka and Southern India tend to offer food that is gently steamed, rather than cooked in Ghee (clarified butter) found in much of Northern Indian cooking, It is redolent with savory, aromatic spice blends, coconut milk, and often features fresh seafood.  These cuisines are also renowned for their treatment of vegetables; it is a healthful and balanced cuisine.  Great for both full-time, part-time and semi vegetarians like me.

When you first walk in you feel like you left Malden and walked into someone’s kitchen in another country. The tables, random pieces of furniture and the TV playing Indian music with a radio playing elsewhere don’t seem like it would go together.  Yet somehow everything works!  We sat down in a round table with a party of 6.  Pramilla came over and asked us if we wanted any of the dishes explained.  We asked a few questions and quickly got to studying the menu.  The options were endless but decisions had to be made!

We ordered a ton of food!  Mango lassis were an immediate start.  It was 4:30 PM and aside from eating donuts (best donuts ever though from Donut Villa) all day and moving, we were starved.  As an appetizer we got the Samosa Chaat.

A  sweet and spicy chaat made with a delicate mix of samosas, chickpeas, yogurt, mint and tamarind sauce, garnished with our fresh herbs and spices.  We passed this bad boy around a table of 6 people and it worked out pretty good.

For entrees we made a slight mistake.  We ordered too much!  As American diners we’re not used to ordering family style so when we order an entree we expect the portions to be only big enough for 1 person or 1.5 at most.  We did not expect each dish to be able to feed 2-3 people!  Pramilla tried to warn us but I think we were too tired to be smart enough to understand.

Here is an example of one dish we ordered.  It’s a veggie dish with one cabbage curry, one pumpkin curry, lentils, okra, rice, couscous and the chip thing on top.  It was my favorite thing ordered!

Other things ordered include Chicken Vindoloo, Curry Chicken, a meat version of the curry platter and I’m sure a few things I’m forgetting.  No photos because I was too busy stuffing my face but I promise they were just as blog worthy. We did eat family style passing eat plate around the table.  At the end we had enough leftovers to feed 3 people.

Overall BIRYANI PARK  was a great experience.   Tony and I plan on returning there to try out more dishes from there extensive menu.  For those interested in price our total came out to approx $20 per person but that’s because we each had a lassi or fresh squeeze juice ($2.99) and an entree.  You can probably ordered in a smarter way with 1 entree for each 2 people and end up with a total of $13-$15 per person and still have some leftovers.

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The Fine Dining of Malden

24 hours left to get my votes in for Team Refuel which also means no more annoying pleads after end of May.

Now that Malden is becoming a much more of a permanent home for me, I’m getting more into the local dining scene.  To say dining scene is a bit of an exaggeration, but there’s a lot of happening things going on!  A few months ago we even had a “Taste of Malden” event which featured a ton of delicious local dining establishments.   For those of you closer to downtown Boston you’re probably more familiar with “Taste of South End”, “Taste of North End”, “Taste of Somerville”, etc; however, next year I highly recommend you take a ride on the Orange Line to my hood and check out “Taste of Malden.”  I promise you won’t get shot.

I’ll start of with a great casual lunch spot.  Abiata Cafe & Market for Ethiopian & Mediterranean food.  Very casual family owned spot.  They’re open for lunch and dinner.  I also heard their breakfast is really good but I haven’t woken up early enough to go yet.

Yemisir -Wat – Split lentil sauce made with flavorful berbere-based seasoning with salad

Yesiga Wat – beef simmered in Ethiopian chili blend sauce, clarified butter and exotic Ethiopian spices with salad

My next place just opened up in Malden Square that I’m super excited about.  A mexican restaurant called Guadalajara Grill.  Tony took me and his mother here for Mother’s day dinner and I loved it!  Entrees are in the $10-$20 range and come in giant portions made from quality ingredients.  I believe they’re a sister restaurant to Mexico Lindo in Melrose.  Also quite delicious!  They have one of the best margarita mixes that are freshly made with no sour mix.

A margarita isn’t just recommended, its a must if you go there!

Fajita Salad.

They have outdoor seating but I think the booths and tables inside are just too cute!

Tony is having the Torito Steak (12oz. top sirloin steak, flamed broiled with sauteed mushrooms, green and red peppers, onions and tomatoes, covered with a special Mexican sauce and melted cheese) and his mother the Albondigas Soup ( A delicious Mexican soup made with fresh minted pork meatballs and seasonal  vegetables in clear broth. Served with diced onions, fresh cilantro and warm tortillas)

My final place is a bit of something old school, Italian food!  Now when you first walk into Massimo’s Ristorante you might be thrown back by all the different themes they have going on.  They have everything from wood paneling to exposed brick to gold ceilings, and some very creepy decorations that you’ll just have to see for yourself.  Don’t let that deter you because when the food comes out, it holds its ground. Tony and I took our parents there when mine came up from New York last weekend.

Seafood Alla Paul – Shrimp, calamari, scallops, swordfish, clams, mussels,
and scallops in a light tomato with homemade pasta!

My mom gave me a dirty look when I tried to take a piece of her Veal/Eggplant combo so I’m assuming it was good!

The rest of the family seems to enjoy their selection as well

Dessert was a lobster tail (picture a giant cannoli) and a Bailey’s chocolate cake.  Bailey’s cake was my favorite!

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Happy Seis De Mayo! I personally don’t think I ate nearly enough guacamole for the occasion.  In fact I had none because I might have gobbled up my avocado before it could be mashed.  O well… At least I had nachos.

It’s been a rough running weekend.  I thought maybe I’ll redeem myself today or maybe I’ll change my blog’s name to Whine to Munch.  I had a happy 7 miler in sub 58 on Friday just to be followed by a rough 5 miler that made me miserable on Saturday.

Today’s run had some good and some bad.  I did make it for a total of 11.5 miles outside with a few solid sub 7:50 miles when I was on a running path.  I still feel a lot of discomfort in my left leg but I grinned and bared it long enough that I got used to it.  I am still excited for my half marathon in Gloucester this coming Saturday.  I hope this will be a huge 13.1 PR for me.  I know I’m at a much better shape than I was October 2011; I just hope my left leg realizes that and quits it whining.

Anyways enough about the running and whining.  I know I should just relax.  Let me legs fully rest and move on with my life for a few weeks past running.  Maybe June will be the time for that.  Good thing I had other awesome things to keep me happy for this weekend.  Awesome things = me with a sore icky throat.

It all started on Thursday when I accepted Tony’s offer to ride his scooter home at night before its faster than our lovely mass transit.

Red Baron & Rogue is our new name, don’t wear it out!  Also needless to say the little faux Express leather jacket I wear is there to be seen and not to keep me warm.  Burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

On Friday night, Tony and I had a date.  It would have been an almost free date but I love my beer. If I could get paid to consume chocolate and beer with lots of running, I could live a very happy life.   Where can I get hired for that?

We used a Restaurant.com coupon for Kingston Station.  I’ve always gotten drinks there but I haven’t tried their non-liquid foods so I was curious.

Some random grease face.   My zits are like dead celebrities, they always come in 3s!

Tony ordered their burger and I ordered a Tuna salad.

I forgot to order the dressing on the side but I was pleasantly surprised by the light oil dressing just the way i would have done it.  Tony’s burger was okay.  The truffle fries which I heard were a hit there were disappointing.  Too much cheese not enough flavor.

Once our bellies were full, we made our way to the Orpheum Theatre downtown to see Human Nature.  I got a pair of free tickets from Yelp Elite group and figured why not check ’em out.  What’s Human Nature?

Well, its four Aussies covering Motown songs.  And they were really good!  Really good.  Good enough that I sang my little Russian Girl immigrant heart out to the Temptations, the Supremes and other Motown classic band covers.  It was amazing!

On Saturday I was going to wake up early to volunteer but all that singing wore me out and I did not make it out of bed until 10:30.  Luckily I still made it just in time for the Chili Cook-off at Community Servings. In case you’re curious, Community Servings is a not-for-profit food and nutrition program providing services throughout Massachusetts to individuals and families living with critical and chronic illnesses. Every Saturday volunteer session comes with some awesome new friends and lunch!   They’re awesome!

Now I know this plate will look gross…

 But, if you combine all four chilies they make an even better chili!  I was going to participate but I ended up singing Motown classics instead.  I make a pretty solid vegan chili but it takes me about 8 hours to make it and I didn’t feel too safe leaving my stove on while I slept.  Since I forfeit by not participating, the Great Chef won!

I guess his was pretty good since it did run out first and there were no leftovers.  The runner-ups were no fallen soldiers either as nothing went to waste.  I even got to take home some of the leftovers.  Mnnnn chili dinner.

There was a small street fair/party in the park next door and I almost had a heart attack when I walked into this lady:

Saturday night I celebrated Cinco de Mayo with Margaritas and some friends.  A lot of fun that killed the rest of my voice.  I really felt the pain on Sunday when I felt like my throat was cleaned with a razor blade.  I think I consumed at least 10 cups of tea today.  But finally my throat feels better!

Now that I almost never go out to loud bars or concerts anymore, I always feel like all the excitement and screaming kills me.  I’m turning boring!

Also a big heart felt congratulations to all who ran Cox Providence Rhode Island Full and Half marathon.  You’re all awesome!!!  I can’t wait to read all the recaps.

At 3AM last night (I know really past my bedtime) as I was getting ready for bed, a large part of me wished I was getting up in 3 hours to go run a 26.2 mile race.  True runnerd thoughts.  I even woke up at 6AM but I guess I wasn’t too sad when I rolled over and went back to sleep.

What did you do this weekend?  Did you have a race this weekend?  Did you get to go out and eat anywhere yummy? 

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