I woke up in Richmond, VA bright and early with a packed day planned. I ran a few miles to a local barre class at 7am. It was a little barre studio in a cute neighborhood. The weather was amazing at 6:30am! It was starting to get too warm for me at 8:30am when I got back to the hotel to wake Brendan up!
After breakfast, we headed to Starbucks and the Museum of the Confederacy. The museum is next door to the former White House of the Confederacy. We walked through the museum, which had a nice collection of original uniforms, weapons, and personal items from the Civil War, and then we toured the White House. We went on a guided tour of the White House, which was led by a wonderful older Southern man… who I could not understand! Quite the accent. Next we went to the Maymont Estate, which is a huge mansion and property from the early 1900s that was donated to Virginia. It is now a public park with amazing gardens, including an herb garden, Italian garden, and Japanese garden.
We also toured the mansion, which was really lovely. We learned that the drawing room, the sitting room near the entrance to a Victorian-style home, comes from “withdrawing room”. After dinner, the men would go talk about politics, drink and smoke. It was not considered appropriate for women to take part in that, so they would withdraw into their own sitting room.
On our way out of Virginia, we stopped for lunch at a road-side BBQ stand that I found on Yelp with excellent reviews. It was literally in a dirt parking lot in a small town. We now whole-heartedly recommend Saucy’s Walk-Up! It was late for lunch, and there was a constant stream of locals pulling up for some BBQ.
I think Brendan was in heaven when he read that one of the menu items was two pulled chicken sandwiches!
I got pulled chicken with slaw!
We ended the drive with some late night pizza in Asheville at Standard Pizza Company. Asheville is a foodie, yogi, hippie town, so the food was AMAZING, and I can’t wait to eat as many meals as possible here.
We left Philadelphia in the morning and headed South. Signs that we were leaving the NE – Chick-fil-a billboards and state borders spread more than an hour apart! I had to get used to being in Virginia for quite a while. I kept myself entertained during my passenger time with the Waze app…
I also saw this gem of a bumper sticker at a gas station stop… just a little reminder that this was originally a running blog! We stopped near Monticello to have lunch at Which Wich, a make-your-own sandwich shop that I have always wanted to go to! You can seriously get like a million ingredients, and your sandwich will still be neat and tidy! Definitely go for the caramelized onions if you go there.
We went to Monticello, the house that Thomas Jefferson designed and built, but we didn’t go to the actual house because we were short on time and it costs like a million dollars. So we looked through the exhibits and walked around. No pictures… boo.
Next we drove to Richmond and hit up Hollywood Cemetery before it closed. It was gorgeous, and the weather was excellent. Hollywood is considered the Arlington of the South. There are three presidents and lots of confederate generals buried there.
Brendan took the experience very seriously.
We checked into our hotel in Downtown Richmond and then headed to the shooting range, which is one of the things I was most excited and anxious about going into the trip. My great grandpa had long old antique rifles in his closet when I was growing up, but otherwise I’ve never even really seen a gun. Brendan was going to show me how to shoot a gun, which seemed fitting for a trip to Virginia, and I thought it was a cool idea…
We went in and watched the safety video and saw the guns available to rent, and I started to feel pretty uneasy. Suddenly, everything felt really serious… which it should be. But it got really real for me! The guy brought two handguns out of the case for me to hold to see “which I preferred”. HA – neither?! I picked one, and then we put on earmuffs and safety glasses before heading into the range. IT WAS SO LOUD. OMG. I did not like it. I was dealing with it ok… just jumpy… Brendan set everything up, and there was an employee there with us. Then Brendan shot a bullet… and another… and tears streamed down my face. It was the most shocking thing I have ever experienced. I could not stop sobbing, so I left the range… no shooting for me this time. Also, no after picture for the blog. Those of you on snapchat know that my crying face picture outside the range is not exactly internet worthy.
So when Brendan was done, we headed back into Richmond to walk around.
George Washington Statue –
Old Train Station at night –
It only gets more Southern from here!
Brendan and I said goodbye to Boston after almost three years. We arrived in Boston with a car stuffed with clothes, and we are leaving the same way. We are heading back to the West coast with a law degree (Congrats to Brendan!), more work clothes, an engagement ring (!!!), and more wrinkles!
As soon as they handed Brendan his diploma, we were out of Boston. We loved our road trip from Berkeley to Boston through the Northern United States, so we decided to try it again – this time across the South! Our first stop was about 5 hours South of Boston in Philadelphia. A.Jay, my roommate and best friend from college, lives in Philadelphia now, so we stopped by to spend the day with her!
She and her boyfriend Dan took us on an AMAZING walking tour of Philadelphia. I visited A.Jay for the Philadelphia marathon previously, so I knew we would be in for a treat. A.Jay is such a foodie, and she made sure to take us to all of her favorite places. She was also aware of her audience and made sure to get in a good mix of historical attractions for Brendan.
Here we are at the top of the “Rocky Steps” in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art…
We also went to Independence Hall, the liberty bell, etc. The liberty bell isn’t very photogenic behind the glass wall… but the gift shop is.
A.Jay and Dan also treated us to an amazing dinner at Zahav, a super popular Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia. It was AMAZING. We ate approximately 40 different small plates, and they were literally all so unique and delicious. We highly recommend it!
This morning on our way out we stopped at Spread Bagelry, which is a Montreal-style bagel shop where they boil and then wood-fire their bagels. A.Jay took me there when I came to visit her before, and I knew I had to take Brendan there!
We had a poppy seed bagel with fresh berry cream cheese and an egg white, swiss, turkey bacon, spinach, truffle mushroom bagel sandwich on a whole wheat everything bagel… wow! Can’t wait to come back to Philadelphia again, so I can eat with A.Jay more!
Brendan and I recently returned from Spring Break in Puerto Rico. My 5 months of traveling back and forth to New York last year finally paid off. We flew to San Juan and spent three nights in the Sheraton in Old San Juan and then three nights West of San Juan at the St. Regis Bahia Beach!
I’m all about the whole “you’re in Puerto Rico… you have to try Puerto Rican (enter something I would rather not be eating/doing”. I get it. I also get being on vacation. I have a whole new outlook on vacation these days. It’s more like… I’m a young professional. Sometimes, I hate my job. Sometimes is right now. I would like to take some PTO, and that is valuable PTO, thank you. So f*ck your Puerto Rican (enter black coffee with creamer)… I’m going to Starbucks on my vacation. And that, my friends, I get from my mama.
But seriously now. This was the first time I truly needed a vacation in my life and really felt like it was something I was able to gift to myself. So we went from this…
We toured old Spanish forts…
Wandered the streets of Old San Juan…
Hiked to caves and cliffs…
Watched the San Juan Half Ironman!
If you know me at all, you know I immediately started researching sprint triathlons and bike prices. It was so inspiring. So exciting!
And then we went to the St. Regis…
…which was a stunning plantation-style resort. We stayed in a suite!
We went to the beach…
Hiked in the rainforest…
snorkeled and kayaked…
And played with iguanas!
It was really great! Then I flew home to Portland and did this!!!!!! Hop Hop Half Marathon…
A HALF MARATHON PR by 3 minutes!!!!!!!!!!!!!
AND… this is the first time I’ve placed in my division!!!
Last winter, I ran through the cold weather because I was training for the Toronto marathon. Each long run was a new challenge. How to dress warm enough, but not too warm when the wind chill is zero degrees. It is always hard to believe you really will get warm during the run. The big difference for me last year was that I was training with Julia, so every weekend we had a date that I looked forward to. This year, I am training by myself for the Eugene marathon. And it’s still really really cold!
How in the world do people here stay motivated to run all year? The real answer I’ve discovered is that they don’t. The number of runners goes down A TON in the winter. Honestly, they are stronger braver runners than me, because there is no way, I mean NOOOOO WAY, I am taking my running to the dreadmill. F that.
So I head outside… even when the Charles River is frozen! Obviously, it is super gorgeous! But that just doesn’t do it for me when I am warm and cozy inside. It is such a struggle to decide it’s a good idea. Probably because it really isn’t! The other night, my face mask froze to my face. WTF I’ve even had to wear my Nike Frees instead of my glorious five fingers, so I could run on the snow.
So, obviously I have made it out the door in the freezing cold. Just not as much as I’d like to. So here are the things that motivate me to get out there…
1. A training plan. You can’t beat it. I’m following Hal Higdon’s Intermediate I marathon plan. I haven’t always gotten all my weekday runs in, but I always get my two weekend runs in because I know it’s the bread and butter of his theory.
2. A good running playlist. My mom came up with the coolest idea. Since we are both on the same training plan, and we have the same long run each weekend, we trade off making a Spotify playlist for both of us to listen to. Sometimes, I am just so excited to get out there so I can see what she made for me. It’s also fun to listen to the one I made and imagine her reaction to each song.
3. Preparation. I know this might not work for everyone. If I spend the whole week looking at the weather report, planning my route, and deciding which weather accessories will be right for each run, I get pretty into the idea. This only really works for long weekend runs though. I don’t really need to plan out my route for the 4-mile midweek run…
4. Leave work early! This is just awesome in general. But… since it’s busy season, I work pretty long hours, and it’s hard to get in the midweek long-ish run. Right now it’s 7 miles. Since I am definitely not waking up an hour and a half early before work, and I am definitely not running at midnight, I’ve asked my team permission to leave early one night a week. Now don’t get too excited! Early just means 5pm instead of 7pm. But I’ll tell you what… I NEVER skip that run. I would feel like I was lying to my team and cheating.
Unfortunately, Nemo left me a little more than I’m comfortable with right now, so I am waiting a few more hours…
Stay warm out there!
Here is your gift guide for that young urban professional-runner-yogi-healthy eating-dessert loving-blog reading special someone on your list. In other words, here are a couple cool things that I have and love, as well as a few things I would appreciate under the Christmas tree this year!
For the foodie on your list… The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook – OMG if you do not read this blog, you are crazy! I saw her cookbook at Angthropologie and I died. It is so beautiful. I have tried a good number of the recipes from the blog and they are just so wonderful, and the posts are so funny and well written.
For the runner on your list… a Garmin! This completely changes how you run and think about training. Before recently, I would have said that it isn’t really worth the $300 investment for most runners, but now that the Garmin Forerunner 10 is out, I think it’s a super accessible running accessory that will have huge impact. I even want one now because it’s so much smaller and cuter than the older versions.
For the snobby healthy eater on your list… a Soda Stream. This is like one of those things I would love to have, but probably wouldn’t go out of my way to buy it for myself at this point. I do think I would use it a lot. I mean, what would you rather have, lemonade or sparkling lemonade??!! DUH!!
For the Yogi on your list… a Jade yoga mat. I can not tell you enough what a difference a good yoga mat makes. My Jade yoga mat was expensive, but SO WORTH IT. I never ever slip on this mat, and I am a super slippery sweaty yogi. I have the travel mat because it is cheaper, and it is still super thick. I saw that they have an environmentally friendly one on Amazon now!
For the yuppie on your list (or me)… I have been feeling especially needy this season, which is not something I am really proud of. Last year, I said I don’t really want “stuff”. This year, I was overwhelmed by how much “stuff” I found myself wanting. I had to take a step back and realize that they are just a bunch of things I would enjoy having, but I don’t need anything new in my life right now. That being said, I would really like new Citizens jeans, some light brown Aerosoles boots, everything at J.Crew (pink vest!), a nice wool coat, a tablet, and money to help me pay for a Crossfit membership this winter. lol you know… nothing really…
However, I do hope that Santa (and everyone else) considers giving to people who actually do need things this season. In fact, I would also really appreciate someone gifting me a donation to Girls on the Run. I am especially passionate about the program in the SF Bay Area because I was involved with it, but all of the local chapters are doing a great thing!
Last year, Brendan and I signed up for a turkey trot in Salem, MA. It started really early in the morning and it was pretty far away… so we slept through it. Never doing that again! This year, I signed up for the race that was just a few minutes from our house and started at 9am… much better. Brendan was still not convinced it would go any better, apparently, so he just drove me to Starbucks and then to the start line. I take what I can get.
It was 40 degrees outside, so I was pretty pumped for a chilly, but comfortable 4-mile run. I started the morning off with a bowl of pumpkin pie oatmeal at home (old fashioned oats cooked normally, add canned pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar. Finish with a dollop of vanilla yogurt on top!) Then Brendan took me to Starbucks for a caramel brulee latte.
I pretty much wore all my favorite running gear: Lululemon tank, highlighter warmer-than-normal half zip, full length Zella tights, unisex Nike hat, Garmie, and Five Fingers. I ended up wishing I had worn a lighter half-zip when I got warm, but it was freezing at the start, so I think it was the way to go.
This race truly was my last race before jaw surgery, so I wanted to push it, but I also knew I hadn’t been watching my pace at all recently, so I had no idea what to expect. Brendan and I talked about my game plan the night before, and we decided a 9-minute pace was realistic. I knew I could do better since I ran last weekend’s half marathon at a 9:15, but I’ve historically not been very good at changing my pace. My marathon pace is my half pace is my 5k pace.
I know I’ve said this before, but there is just something so cool about people coming together to run as a group. It is so magical when you are walking to the start of a race and runners are appearing at every corner, all waking up to meet and share this common love. It’s like we are all in on a secret. Runners are scattered on the sidewalks creeping towards the start, until suddenly we are less discreet…
How cool is that?! I don’t have Garmie with me right now, but my splits were approximately:
Mile 1) 8:15
Mile 2) 8:15
Mile 3) 8:30
Mile 4) 8:00
For a 4 mile race PR (I don’t think I’ve run a 4-mile race before) of about 33 minutes! I was more than happy with my time! The race was hard. It was hilly, it was cold, my left leg sucked the whole time. Did I mention it was like REALLY HILLY! But it was really fun, too. A lot of people dressed up with turkey costumes or hats, a lot of families came out to run together, and a lot of neighbors brought their Thanksgiving coffee outside to cheer us on. It was a really awesome community event, and I will definitely be signing up again next year.