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Of Tapas and Friendships

My kid’s swim class was cancelled tonight, and I haven’t been this happy in ages.  I love the class, and I like that she gets the extra exercise (she has PLENTY of energy to burn), but my days are filled with constantly running from won thing to the next, and it was SUCH a relief to unexpectedly gain 2 uncommitted hours in my evening.  I am celebrating with a glass of wine and eating noodles on the couch.

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a “girls weekend” in DC celebrating a very dear friend’s upcoming special number birthday (29! A lady never ages past 29!)  We went to dinner at Jaleo, and it was amazing.  AMAZING.

Ferran Adria Liquid Olives

Ferran Adria Liquid Olives


Cava Sangria? Yes PLS.

Cava Sangria? Yes PLS.


2016-04-23 21.05.31

Jaleo is a taps restaurant, and we ordered our tapas in my absolute favorite way– cover the table with small plates, devour them all, order another bunch of small plates, devour, repeat.  The food was gorgeous, delicious, MAGNIFICENT! The restaurant had such a cool, fun vibe to it too. For our last round of small plates, we told the server to please just pick them for us, and she did NOT steer us wrong.  I wish I could remember all the delicious things we had, but OMG, so many flavors and textures and everything was just lovely.

Jaleo left quite the impression, but what struck me even more profoundly when I returned home from the trip the next day, is how lucky I am to have good friends.  It was just a little weekend, but we had such a no fuss, fun time together, that the weekend was a truly memorable experience. Since I came back from the trip, it’s even given me a little dose of de-stressing to think about the feeling of that weekend, us girls together, watching When Harry Met Sally and the Pitch Perfect movies in the minivan on the drive, drinking wine and chatting, and appreciating a truly great meal.  Happy birthday Sandy and thanks friends for the memories!

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Races, races and more races

Races, races and more races

The funny thing about running is that if you don’t run consistently, it sounds (and is) really hard…but once you make a point to be out there several times a week, it gets easier and you can run further, and eventually you stop feeling like you are going to die and instead really like it. 10 Mile races seem to be the sweet spot for me. A 10 mile race certainly is not easy for me, but with a regular but not exhausting running schedule, I can tackle a 10 miler (and usually only be sore that day, and feeling better by the next).

I went in to the Army 10 Miler expecting it to be ugly. I knew I’d finish, but actually brought a Ziplok bag and towel with me, because I knew that I’d need to sit on a bag of ice on the drive home (darn you, achy SI Joint!). I wanted to do the race for 2 reasons- (1) My brother is in the army and was just deployed to Qatar, and I wanted to run this race in honor of him, (2) the race starts and ends at the Pentagon, and I’ve never seen the Pentagon before, so I thought that would be pretty cool. One of my co-workers told me that the Pentagon is a big squat office building and a parking lot, which it really is, but the run also went in and around DC, so it was a pretty cool sightseeing experience.

The race was on Sunday, so I got to DC on Saturday. I went to packet pickup, which was, in expected military fashion, remarkably efficient. The whole thing took maybe 30 minutes, and that includes me weaving through all the shopping stalls at the expo. Afterward, I had a whole afternoon by myself. I could have gone exploring in DC, but I didn’t want to tire out my legs with a big run on the horizon, so instead I treated myself to some QT at Nordstrom Rack (tragically, there is no Rack in Pittsburgh, so this is a real treat), and to a manicure and body polish at the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. Back at my hotel, I carbo-loaded on some take out See Ew Noodles from a local Thai restaurant, enjoyed some television time with the remote ALL TO MYSELF, and went to bed at an early, sensible hour. #WildWoman

before running ATM

I got up pretty early to head down to the starting line. I stayed at the official race hotel, and let me tell you, I am SO glad I did. It was maybe a 10 minute walk to the start and finish lines, which made for nice warm up/cool downs. I would have loved to take race selfies of all the neat things I ran by in DC, but the race packet said that mobile phones and cameras were FORBIDDEN. And also that earbuds were FORBIDDEN. And that we were going to be going through a security checkpoint. Since this is the Army’s show, I thought it would be all SERIOUS BUSINESS, and I didn’t want to have to walk back to the hotel to put my phone away, so I just didn’t bring it with me. And you know what, out of 35,000 runners, I’d say that 34,999 had their phones, were snapping selfies and were rockin’ out to their own music. I started the morning bitter about it, but then I told myself that it was a beautiful morning, I was in for a beautiful run, and I’m going to focus on the scenery and not tether myself to all the little reminders that I usually use on my phone to pace myself.

You know what, it turned out really well! It was a crowded and enthusiastic course, so I wouldn’t really need to rely on music to keep me energized anyway. And because I wasn’t getting constant mileage reminders in my ears (and a few times wasn’t paying clear attention when I ran by the time boards), I just kept running and didn’t focus on how far I had come or how much further I had to go. This worked especially well at the 9th Mile, where I played a ridiculous mental game with myself, saying “Oh, I just woke up this lovely morning, and I’m a little sore and tired, but I’m just going on a 1 mile run” and as completely stupid as it is, it WORKED. I felt good about every mile of that race, and especially good in that last mile.

Now, after I stopped running is when it didn’t feel so good. I knew from the beginning I was not ideally hydrated, and my usual practice isn’t to drink water until after the race, if I’m running a distance that is 10 miles or less. I did drink water a couple times in the last half of the race, but I really should have been drinking more the days before and in the earlier part of the race. So when the race was over, I had a brief while of feeling very much bad, until I got myself appropriately rehydrated.

The only downside of the race is that, because it is so big, there are a lot of waves and they take a LOT of time to get through. The first wave went out at 8, but mine didn’t start until 8:48. Of course I got to the corral at like 7:15. That is a lot of waiting time before going out on a long run.

I absolutely would love to do this race again. For the next time, I would either like to work on my speed and try to get placed in an earlier corral (no, I will not sneak into a different corral than the one I am assigned, that makes me NUTS), or maybe since I now have an idea of the lay of the land, I might just leisurely drink my coffee and show up a little later to the starting line.

My next big race is the EQT 10 Miler on November 9. I’ve barely run since the Army 10 Miler, but my bronchitis is really on the upswing, and absent any further complications in my life, I plan to be pounding the pavement again on Tuesday.

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October feelin’

Welcome to October! I haven’t felt much like blogging lately. Maybe it’s because I’ve been very busy, using up all my brain and my words during the day. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been more interested than reading words than writing them lately. Maybe it’s just because we haven’t been out to too many new restaurants lately, so that usually abundant stream of inspiration is not so abundant right now. But even though I’m not writing as much, I’m still here, I’m still reading, I’m still kicking. And here are some things on my mind tonight:

Page Dairy Mart’s last day for the season is scheduled for October 24. Sad. Even though the chocolate chip cookie sundae is di-vine (featuring Nancy B’s cookies), my favorite and go to is coffee soft serve with hot fudge and whipped cream. I need to stop on down there to get one last treat before they’re gone for the cold months.

Page Dairy mart Chocolate Chip Sundae

American Horror Story starts again tonight! It’s the only show that I regularly watch. My favorite season was season 1, but this whole circus thing looks especially creepy. I like to think I like scary things, but in real life I’m a giant crybaby and get too scared. American Horror Story tends to be just the right level of scary for me (meaning it tries to be scary, but isn’t really scary). Relatedly, my husband has banned me from ever watching a Paranormal Activity movie ever again, because he’s not a fan of being up all night while I cry over nightmares.

american-horror-story-freakshow-ch-2

My birthday is next month. If all yinz guys wanna bake me a cookie table, I won’t complain. Also, I think the fact that 99% of the pictures I pin on Pinterest are baked goods is not helping me any with my (failing) efforts at losing weight.

I’ll be going on a mini solo trip this weekend to Washington DC to run the Army 10 Miler. I’m going to basically have an afternoon ALL TO MYSELF. I’ve already booked a trip to the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, and I think I’m going to go see Gone Girl (yes, because I drive 3 hours to go to see a movie that I could see at a movie theater 2 miles from my house) and go to bed early, because I am a WILD woman. But when you’re running 10 miles around the Pentagon the next day, hiking all over to sight see isn’t the wisest idea anyway.

gone_girl_40653_poster

Autumn clothes are my absolute favorite. Sweaters and cowl necks and boot socks and all things lovely and warm. Things I want want want:

Want.


Want want.

I just downloaded Hollow City, which is the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and am very excited about reading it. Spooky!

Hollow City

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DC fun with @TortillaCoast @CUCB @PERRYSdc and @TammysSalonDC

DC fun with @TortillaCoast @CUCB @PERRYSdc and @TammysSalonDC

Sandy and I are having a girl’s weekend in DC. What do two crazy women do when they leave their children home and hit the town? Crazy things like watch TV and go to bed at 9:20 at night. And LOVE it.

We arrived in DC on Saturday to do race packet pickup as I was running the 10 mile Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run and Sandy was doing the 5k version. Driving in DC, even with the light traffic of a Saturday afternoon, always inspires a flurry of curse words and anger, and this visit was no different. WE eventually did make it to packet pickup. This race is extremely well organized, and the whole process took like 10 minutes. Kudos to the race team for a very easy packet experience.

We settled into our hotel and went on to some essential DC activities, namely eating frozen yogurt and shopping at Zara.

zara

Next up was carbo-loading. Well, not really carbo-loading. Just filling our faces with food. A visit to Tortilla Coast for enchiladas and a Shiner Bock would do just nicely.

Tortilla Coast

Afterward, we lived the wild life, and were in bed by 9pm. CRAZY. But it was a good idea, because this morning I was up bright and early to pound the pavement for 10 miles.

morning run

The race start was close to the metro, and like the race expo, the race itself was very well organized. This is an especially impressive feat, because there were some 15,000 runners for the 10 mile race. Little things like grouping porta-potties into sets such that lines organized easily and efficiently, and strictly adhering to the start times, and lots of extremely helpful volunteers made this an extremely pleasant running experience.

The course itself is very pretty. In theory, nature would cooperate, and the whole run would be through blooming cherry trees, but only a few trees were in bloom today. Still, running along and across the river was very pleasant. This is a very crowded race, but it led to a very enthusiastic atmosphere. The course is very flat and fast, but because it’s so heavily trafficked, it might be hard to get a PR just because you’re dodging so many other runners. For all the dodging about I did, it added an extra half mile on to my run! The official race time said I came in at 2:01, but my running app put me at 1:59 for 10.5 miles, so I’m going with my own time and claiming a sub-2-hour time!

medal picture

I claimed my medal and cheerfully made my way back to the hotel. I’m glad to say that I’m stiff and a little blistered, but generally in good shape. I absolutely would run this course again, and remain convinced that 10 miles is a great distance for me. I don’t regularly run far enough for it to be an easy run, but I can work hard and confidently complete the route.

After our race we departed for drag brunch at Perrys in Adams Morgan.

Perrys Drag Brunch

Perry’s brunch buffet is great, but the entertainment is beyond compare.

Because this was a girls weekend, and because my feet were a mess from all the running, a mani-pedi was in order. I strolled on over to Tammy’s Salon and treated myself to gettin’ my nails done. The nail salon wasn’t anything fancy, and the mani-pedi was fairly no-frills, but it feels so nice to have my nails all cleaned up.

This evening we had a nice dinner at the nearby Sonoma Restaurant Wine Bar. The charcuterie plate, in particular, was generous and tasty. I did take a couple pictures, but now I’m writing this from the bed and my camera (with its photos ) are all the way across the room, so nevermind. It’s the fine late hour of 8:42 pm, and that means bedtime is quickly approaching! Back to Pgh in the morn!