Back in the Saddle

This was my first week back on a training plan. I have not been on an official plan since over a year ago when I trained for Chicago. It felt good to be back on an actual plan. It’s been a while but I think the break was good. Rather than feeling fatigued by the plan, I feel energized. For those that didn’t see the prior post, I’m training for 13.1 LA in early January and I am using the Runner World sub 2 hr training plan. I tore it out of an old, old issue years ago and I’ve now plastered it to my fridge.

Here’s what I did last week:

Monday – 3 miles walking

Yeah, I’m counting my walking around Boston because I forgot how much walking I do there and I forgot how tired it makes my feet. This is why I never had a pair of shoes in Boston last longer than 1 season. I basically walked from Simmons to Flour in Cambridge and then to the T stop to go to the airport.

Oh, don’t worry; I managed to refuel with a sticky bun!

Tuesday – 4 miles easy

This run was hard. I was coming back from vacation and my liver and tummy were not happy about it.

Wednesday – 4 miles easy

I took the same route as Tuesday but the run was overall much easier. I had kind of a blah day and it felt so good to come home, lace up the shoes and hit the pavement. I also took no walk breaks.

Thursday – 5 miles tempo (1 mile warm up, 7:32, 8:32, 8:48, 1 mile cool down)

My first tempo run! I mapped out a one mile out and back and ran it three times plus a run to warm up and cool down. I went out way, way too fast on the first mile and crashed and burned a little bit. The final mile especially was struggles central. It happens. Now I know what I always suspected, that I start too quickly.

Friday – 7 miles easy

I did my first long run in a while, going 7 miles. It was nice to do a long run, since it’s been a while and be back on my old marathon training paths. My legs were pretty fried after the prior 3 days and I took the back half easy and took a stretch break half way through. I didn’t time this long run.

Saturday – rest

Sunday – rest

I had a festive weekend and I knew that I wasn’t going to want to run hence the back to back rest days. My legs were really shot on Friday night but feel 100% now on Sunday so that’s all good I guess. The signs on increased mileage are coming back (oh hello blisters). Overall, I’m really glad that I’m back into a training plan.

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Restaurants: A Love Story

Sorry for the lack of original posts recently. I have spent the past two weeks more or less on continuous vacation traveling to San Francisco and then Boston. On the flight back to the west coast last night this post that I wrote as a guest blog for Melissa almost a year and a half ago was weighing on my mind. My trip back to Boston was amazing. Long time readers know I went to college in Boston and lived there for 4 years before a moved to LA a little over three years ago. I felt pangs of homesickness for Boston as the plane flew west. I reached into my monogrammed LL Bean tote and pulled out my brie and roasted chicken sandwich from my favorite bakery. The taste of the food was comforting, brought back many old memories and genuinely tasted like home. I was reminded of this post I wrote about why I love restaurants and by extension, food in general. The food I create and the restaurant meals I consume are sort of the mile markers of my life if you will. I never cross posted it here so I thought now would be a good time to share. I hope you enjoy.

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I have had a lifelong love affair with restaurants. According to my Mother, I went to my first restaurant at the tender age of 1 week old. It was a breakfast place near my parent’s house. My Mother is a fantastic cook but pretty much not a day went by in my youth where I didn’t ask if we could go out to dinner. Why? Who knows! I was ordering chicken fingers with honey mustard at literally every restaurant I went to.

Eating a scone at Blenheim Palace in London, England; May 1989, 21 months old. International foodie. Clearly, I was intently focused.

My love of restaurant dining has stayed with me since my first trip when I was one week old. I have an unnatural love of bread baskets, fancy bathrooms, menus, restaurant décor, being waited on, and all the other trappings of restaurants. Luckily, 20 some years later I found myself living in LA which is basically a foodie playground. I still love restaurants and I make it my mission to go to as many as possible.


So why do I love restaurants?

Trying new types of cuisine

One reason I love going to restaurants is that I get to try new and interesting cuisine. Where else are you going to try authentic Ethiopian food? Sitting around the mesob (which means table) eating delicious meats and veggies on a large pancake-like bread circle is an experience you can’t really have at home. I love trying food I’ve never had before or new and interesting combinations. It helps that I’m not a very picky eater and I trust most chefs to produce tasty dishes.

One of my favorite ethnic cuisines is sushi. There is an amazing sushi restaurant near my parent’s house that produces visually stunning rolls, like this…

It’s supposed to be a turtle! I could never recreate this which, to me, makes the meal even more special.

International dining is always a new and fun experience too! I love French food (probably because I love anything with a liberal application of butter) and dining in Istanbul was delicious and fascinating. The restaurants in Istanbul served all the meals in small plates. There was so much feta, eggplant, olives, chickpeas, and lamb. It was Mediterranean foodie heaven. Plus, international dining teaches you wonderful lessons about other parts of the world. Like if you order a martini with olives in Istanbul you will get this:

Yes. That is a glass of vermouth with a dish of green olives. See! Restaurant dining is a rich, cultural learning experience that allows you to try new things and expand your personal borders!

Getting waited on

No lie, I think one of the main reasons I loved eating out as a child was because I got waited on. It’s sad but true. As kids my brother and I always had to set and clear the table. I hated this chore and used all kinds of trickery to avoid it (spoiler alert: it never worked). Restaurants were a magic place where we didn’t need to clear the table and we were able to order ice cream for dessert. Even at greasy holes in the wall, we didn’t have to lay out napkins for everyone in the family. It was magical.

I still love going to restaurants for this reason. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking, but it’s nice to not have to do the dishes.

High quality food

Obviously, sometimes we go out because it’s the path of least resistance. It’s late and nothing looks better than fast food. But many times I go out to eat and get a truly special meal, one way better than I could have produced on my own.

Like crispy fried chicken.

A beautiful tart.

Or a decadent dessert.

Yep, drool -> meet the keyboard.

Making friends

A fun byproduct of going to the same restaurant countless times is that you develop friendships with the owners and the people who work there. As a little girl I always had breakfast at the same restaurant with my dad and we got to know the staff well. They became family friends and every trip home in college was marked with visits to Green Bay Café to catch up. One of my cherished memories from growing up is having a restaurant owner and family friend divide a thick chocolate milkshake into two cups for my brother and I while we sat at the funky, retro inspired bar. It’s the friends we shared these memories with that makes them special. The people you meet and the connections you make build everyday life.

I still love making friends at my favorite eateries and it makes me want to go back. For example, one of my favorite LA haunts, Tavern in Brentwood played host to President Obama last week so of course I stopped in to get all the details over the weekend!

I love soaking in an exciting atmosphere and Tavern was abuzz last weekend. I met several new people and people I ready knew to talk about what went on. Seeing their enthusiasm put a smile on my face. It was exciting and the perfect demonstration of how restaurants can be community centers.

The ritual of eating: food is love

Probably the main reason I love restaurants is that meals out mark all the major events in my life. Lunches and dinners are organized to celebrate graduations, homecomings, reunions, birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions. I can remember what I ate when I was accepted to law school, when I graduated from college, when I turned 21, when I reunited with an influential college mentor, and when I bonded with my best friends. Food, and for me restaurant meals, mark the major occasions in our lives and the minor daily event that bring us closer to people. Meals are a ritual, they bring people together.

Celebrating graduation with friends.

Bonding with blog friends, Amanda and Kaitlin, over sausage. Yes, sausages in a beer garden can be considered a restaurant.

With my best girlfriends in the college’s dining hall, where so many memories were made over meals.

Restaurants and I have an epic romance and I don’t foresee it ending anytime soon.

in which I set a new goal.

Hey gang. How is everyone doing? Enjoying going on my bar trip a month or so after the fact? Offf course you are! I am almost done with the bar trip updates and next week I’m heading back east for a much need trip to Boston. It’s been over a year since my last trip so this 5 day excursion to the land of sticky buns and gin drinks is necessary.

But for now let’s talk about running.

Say hello to the new Saucony Triumph 9’s. True to their name, my recent runs have been triumphant.

I believe the last thing I wrote about running I had taken a bit of a break. You may or may not remember that back in April I was half heartedly training for a May half. At the end of a 10 mile run I felt this awful tightness in my hip. Not wanting to injure myself I took a hiatus from running. Last May I started studying for the bar exam and decided to take a break from running to focus on yoga which served me well during my bar exam preparations. Yoga forced me to take structured breaks and calmed my mind. I ran every other week during bar prep but I continued to endure hip stiffness. To make matters worse, I was sitting for around 12 hours a day studying. This is not help matters. I actually would sit on the floor of my apartment attempting to contort my hips to make them pop. Overall it was totally blah. I thought taking a break would help matters and it didn’t seem to make any difference.

I started trying to run more after the bar but my hip continued to be an issue. I also was in desperate need of new shoes. Because I hadn’t done that much running (compared to, say the amount of running I did in 2011) I didn’t think I needed new shoes.

Well, I was clearly wrong. I used some birthday cash to pick up the Triumphs photographed above. For the past few weeks I’ve been logging all my runs on Daily Mile and attempting to get my mileage back up. Basically, I want to rebuild my cardio base as it essentially died over the summer.

10, 13, 15, 20. These miles make me want to do my happy dance. I fail at inserting gifs so just Google “Carlton Banks Dancing” and use your imagination.

The best news? No hip pain. I feel like a new woman!

Clearly, I’m trying to ease back in because I haven’t run much recently and I also don’t want to re-injure myself. However, my past few runs have felt like total domination compared to what I was doing last winter and spring. I’m still a bit slow and I’m still taking walk breaks but I can feel my legs getting stronger and I have a bit of my runners swagger back.

I desperately want to run another marathon in the upcoming year. The desire to run long is returning to me and I have the marathon bug again. At this point, I’m going to hold off on making any definitive marathon plans until after I get my bar examination results in November. I’m still coming back from injury and am trying to build up my based. I don’t want to take on too much too soon. Once I get the bar results I can think about the time frame for running my next marathon. I want to be able to commit to training and, no secrets here; I want to trounce my marathon PR. I think I have it in me.

In the meantime, I have had a long standing goal of running a sub 2 hour half marathon and I think it’s time to get serious. My current PR is 2:02, which was set with minimal training, so this feels like an attainable goal. I know, I know, you’ve heard this before. After the marathon in Chicago I had a lot of enthusiasm for running but I was on running burnout. It happens. This time I actually feel excited about the prospect of training. I’m not distracted by end of 3L festivities or the bar exam and let’s face it, I need a new goal. A goal that I have relatively more control over compared to the bar exam results and job application waiting game. The Runner’s World Sub 2 Hr 10 week training plan is on my fridge. I picked out a race in early January and I can start a full training routine after I get back from Boston. I plan to keep going to yoga as cross training and maybe work in some other types of workouts so I don’t get too bored from running.

The overall goal is to look like this again.

I was reminded today on a two mile shake out run (my legs are still sore from going to SoulCycle for the first time- more on that later) how good it feels when the weather is right and a good song is on your ipod and your charging up the final uphill. I’m excited to channel some energy into a new running goal. This is going to be reflected on the blog. I want to go back to posting weekly training recaps. I’ll likely write a bit more about fitness. Hopefully it will keep me on track towards my goal.