I talk to God on the road. And He talks back.

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Weekend Pics (Mike’s Bday) + Workout Log

Mike’s Birthday Weekend

Mike’s birthday weekend was devoted to his favorite activity: eating! We tried some new places – BRABO and PX in Alexandria – and went back to an old favorite -Sushi Jin in Burke.

Our celebrations started Friday night after work! I came home early to get in a quick run and yoga class before getting dressed up to go to Old Town. Our first stop: BRABO, on the recommendation of a coworker. Loved the cozy feel of this restaurant, with low ceilings, big leather chairs, and quiet enough (at 6 pm) for conversation.
DSC03131 While BRABO had lots of delicious sounding options on their a la carte menu, we went with their tasting menu, which seemed like a good deal.DSC03132 DSC03136 DSC03138 DSC03140 DSC03143 Dessert – my favorite course.DSC03144Everything was delicious, if not exactly what I would have ordered (I’m not a big seafood fan, and venison was definitely an adventurous choice for me). I felt that the courses could have been a lot bigger, but that’s the downside of the tasting menu.

Next stop: PX, a popular speakeasy in Old Town. PX is known for excellent cocktails and for their glamorous/ mysterious ambiance – there’s no sign for the bar on the street (you knock at the door under the blue light), and you must come dressed up.

The blue light!
DSC03146 DSC03147The atmosphere inside was indeed swanky and intimate, complete with candles at each table and mirrored walls. They had a very interesting cocktail menu, and we each ordered two – my favorite was the Cocktail Inspired by Pok Pok, which had fish sauce and chilis among its ingredients.
DSC03148 It was a fun and relaxing way to end the evening!
DSC03150On Saturday, we attempted to go to an early morning SoulCycle class, only to discover that most of the bridges going into DC had been marked off for an event (later found out it was the Tour de Cure). Thankfully, SoulCycle let us reschedule for another time – thanks guys!

We came home and went to the gym instead (spin for Mike, treadmill for me), and spent the rest of the day re-arranging our living room and doing some fall cleaning. Our previous living room arrangement felt awkward to me, but moving the couch and a few bookcases around made all the difference. I accidentally skipped lunch and was more than ready for dinner at Sushi Jin.
DSC03168 DSC03169 DSC03170 Definitely our favorite sushi restaurant!

Training Log (Sept 22-28)

After taking the first part of the week off from working out because I was sick, I managed to get in all my runs by running Thurs-Sun! Not ideal, but I was happy to get my mileage in.

Thursday- 4 easy miles on the treadmill (10:07 pace)
I did NOT want to workout on Thursday, but I knew that the more days I took off, the harder it would be to get back into it – so I convinced myself to lace up and get on the treadmill, and whaddayaknow – it felt great!!
Friday - 2.25 easy miles on the T/M (11:06 pace) and 30 min yoga
My stomach started bothering me on this run, so I cut my 3 miles short after doing a run/ walk for most of the workout. I tried going to yoga afterwards, but felt so weak that I left halfway through. Still happy I got my sweat on before our night out on the town!
Saturday - 4 miles on the T/M (2.5 @ 9:00 tempo speed)
I was nervous for this run as I always am for tempos, but after a mile warmup, the 2.5 tempo miles went by pretty quickly (done at 6.6 on treadmill, 1.0 incline). I’d like to move my tempo runs outside again – I find it a lot easier to maintain tempo speed when I can vary my speed a little from time to time, which comes less naturally on the treadmill.
Sunday - 6 miles on the T/M (9:40 pace)
I didn’t want to do my “long run” on the treadmill, but I puttered around in the morning and didn’t go for my run till the late afternoon (by which time it was 80 degrees), so treadmill it was. I survived by playing with the speed and incline every mile or so, and finished feeling strong.
My goal for this week is to space out my runs a little more and get some more cross-training in – hopefully yoga, Zumba, and some weights!

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A (Late) Weekend Recap – A Wedding!

Man, I’m down for the count this week with a vicious cold :( I’ve been a zombie at work and barely gotten any studying or working out done in the evenings. Hopefully I’m all better by this weekend, because we’re going out on the town to celebrate Mike’s bday!

Alexa and Andrew’s Wedding!

This past weekend, Mike and I had the honor of being part of Alexa and Andrew’s wedding!! We drove up to NY on Friday to attend the rehearsal and dinner, and woke up to perfect weather on Saturday for the wedding.

Decadent dessert from the rehearsal dinnerDSC03112The wedding was only the second full Catholic mass that I’ve attended, and the elements of the ceremony really conveyed the significance of the wedding vows and the promise that they were making to each other. I teared up several times (funny because my eyes were perfectly dry on our own wedding day). After the ceremony was concluded, we piled into the limo and drove around to a couple of spots to take pictures. The drive from the church to the reception in Cold Spring is incredibly picturesque, and the couple had chosen a few locations to take fun bridal party pictures!

Alexa looking absolutely beautiful in her dress!DSC03122Mike and I snuck out at one point to take a few ourselves :)
DSC03116Me and Vivian!DSC03120We made our way to the reception location, and spent the rest of the night eating good food, listening to funny and touching toasts (Alexa’s dad gave the best wedding toast I’ve heard – he could be a stand-up comedian), and getting our dance on. DSC03123 DSC03125 The whole wedding was filled with touches that were just so them, like these high-fiving cake toppers!DSC03128
One of the things that I loved most about the whole day was that these are two of the most thoughtful people in the world, and they looked for ways to make the day special to other people too, like involving as many people as they could in their ceremony and playing their parents’ wedding songs at the reception. Alexa even asked my mom to play piano at the cocktail hour, so my mom was able to attend as well!

Congratulations Alexa and Andrew – we’re so, so happy for you both and were incredibly honored to be part of your special day!

Training Log (Sept 15-21)

Switching gears only slightly (lol), here’s my training recap from last week. I took the weekend off completely, so I had a whopping 4 rest days! Here are the days I did work out:

Tuesday - 2 x 1 mile @ fast tempo (8:45 pace) followed by a yoga class
I was nervous for this workout because I wasn’t sure if I could maintain a faster pace for a whole mile, but my once a week speed workouts must be paying off! The last couple of minutes of each mile was tough, but I was able to hold the pace. Full workout included a mile warmup, the 2 x 1 mile with a half mile recovery in between, and a half mile cool down for a total of 4 miles.

Thursday - 3.75 easy miles on the treadmill (11:11 pace)
This was the day I had terrible side-stitches the whole run and stopped the workout early. Still not sure what was going on, but we all have good days and bad days!

Friday - 6 miles outside (9:39 pace)
This was a great, great run outside. My pace was strong for the first 5 miles, and while I faded a bit at the end, I didn’t have to walk. Paces: 8:54, 9:28, 9:39, 9:36, 10:16, and 10:05.

Saturday - hours of dancing and standing must count for something, right?

My goal this week is to get four runs in and have another strong “long” run. I’m doing 6 miles again, but going to aim for negative splits this time.

What was your best run or workout last week?

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I’m Dreaming of…Nicecream

I had a weird run this morning; I woke up at 6 and got on the treadmill to do a couple of easy miles, only to be plagued by bad side cramps a mile in. I stopped and walked and tried to run again, only to have the cramps come back after a half mile or so. I repeated the pattern a few times, and I finally quit a quarter mile short of my intended 4 miles. I don’t think I’ve ever had such persistent side stitches before – not sure what was going on! Hopefully my run tomorrow goes off “without a stitch”, haha. Sorry, I had to.

Summer DC Eats

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “Week of Eats”/ “Recent Eats” post – mostly because we’ve been eating a lot of frozen food, shakes and canned soups since we haven’t had time to cook. And when we eat out, we tend to go to the same 4-5 places (Pho Golden Cow, Edy’s Chicken and Steak for peruvian chicken, Thai in Shirlington, and sushi from Fresh Market). But we did try a couple of new places this summer, including my new favorite dessert – Nicecream Factory!
Nicecream Factory is a liquid nitrogen ice cream parlour that opened up this summer in Arlington to rave reviews. We checked it out in July when Mike’s brother D was in town, because what kid doesn’t like ice cream?
I originally thought that the liquid nitrogen would be used to freeze pre-made ice cream into a solid form, and then the solid ice cream would be smashed into small chunks, sort of like dipping dots. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s okay because I was wrong.

The Nicecream is actually made on the spot by mixing fresh milk, cream, sugar and mix-ins like chopped strawberries or pistachios, and then adding the liquid nitrogen to turn the mixture into ice cream on the spot.
We ordered a strawberry and a nutella ice cream, and could immediately taste/ feel the difference in freshness and flavor. The ice cream was incredibly creamy, and the strawberry ice cream had chunks of (real, fresh) strawberries throughout!
I think it’s awesome that Nicecream started as a pop-up funded by a Kickstarter campaign and then became successful enough to move into a more permanent space! I’ll probably be keeping this place open throughout the winter once marathon training starts ;)

We got burgers earlier that evening from BGR The Burger Joint, and I got mine lettuce-wrapped again.  Bread doesn’t do that much for me, so I’d rather save my carbs and stomach for the sweet potato fries.
DSC02941Probably the biggest onion rings I’ve ever seen, and while they get zero points for presentation, they were goood.
DSC02943 DSC02944We ate at three or four different burger joints while D was here (burgers are one of his favorite foods, lol), and asked him to rate them at the end. No surprise – Ray’s was the winner, but BGR was a close second.  I’d probably rate them in that order too, although I also love Elevation‘s veggie burgers.

And last but not least, we tried a new sushi place down the street – Kyoto Sushi.
Prices were good, but the quality at Sushi Jin in Burke was a LOT better (much fresher fish). I was also a little startled when I bit into a piece of fish that I thought was salmon, only to discover it was smoked salmon! I’d only eat the rolls here, but for my money, I’d rather get supermarket sushi from Fresh Market next door…

If you eat sushi, do you prefer rolls or nigiri (the fish with rice)? Mike’s a purist and prefers the nigiri, but (shhhh) I prefer the rolls with all kinds of tasty sauce ;)


Steppin’ It Up

I went to a really fun yoga class last night; the instructor had us place our mats by the wall so that we could use the wall for various poses during class, including L-shaped headstand (never done these before!) and full headstand. I managed to kick up into a full headstand and my arms immediately started to shake…how is something that was so easy as a kid so hard as an adult? I’m pretty sure I can’t do cartwheels anymore either, come to think of it. No surprise, my shoulders are pretty sore today.

I treated myself to some Noosa after class – holy moley, this stuff is good!

My New Accessory

Anyway, I wanted to talk about a cute new accessory I’ve been sporting lately:
A pedometer! Why, you might ask? Besides the fact that it goes so well with everything I wear, my company has started a wellness challenge for its employees: if you record 420,000 steps in 6 weeks (10,000 steps a day), you get a free FitBit! I figured I’d have no trouble getting 10,000 steps every day with my normal exercise schedule, so I’ve been logging my steps for two weeks now. The verdict?

Most days I have no trouble meeting the 10,000 goal. I typically have 7,000 steps on a normal workday from my commute and going to meetings, so tack on some exercise and I meet my goal. But the days I don’t exercise and don’t go to work (i.e. a lazy weekend), my step count can be as low as 2,000.

While I don’t believe there’s some magic number of steps we should hit everyday in order to be fit or enjoy good health, a pedometer is a useful tool to see how active you are on a day-to-day basis. It’s encouraged me to get up and walk around more often at work (studies show that you should get up for a couple of minutes every hour to improve blood flow), and to be a little more active on my rest days. For example, I noticed my step count was really low last Monday, so while I didn’t feel like running, I turned on a 15 min Zumba video, which boosted my step count for the day by a couple thousand!

Incidentally, once this challenge is over, I’m going to put a pedometer on one of the cats to see what her step count is…think she’ll break a 1000?
Does your company have campaigns to promote healthy living/ exercise?

Favorite yogurt?

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The Perfect PB+J Smoothie

Happy Tuesday friends! I’m looking forward to a short work week because we’re heading up to NY on Friday for Alexa and Andrew’s wedding! Thankfully, work has gone back to the normal 9-5 so I have time in the evenings to study for my classes again. My workout schedule last week was all over the place – I had to keep moving workouts around to account for evenings where I had to work – but I got in workouts wherever I could and ended up having a great week of training. But first, I have a “recipe” to share with you guys this week:

Perfect PB+J Smoothie

With little time to cook these days, we’ve been relying a lot on smoothies for quick and filling dinners. I’ve seen adaptations of PB+J smoothies all over the web, but when I first tried one, I found it cloyingly sweet and not at all to my taste. I liked all of the elements though, so I experimented a little until I came up with this variation.


- 1/2 to a whole frozen banana

- 1 heaping tablespoon of peanut butter (or sub other nut butter)

- 1/2 tablespoon jelly (we like strawberry!)

- preferred milk to desired consistency (I add about 2/3 a cup)

- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

The key is the sea salt to balance out the sweetness, and a high PB to jelly ratio. The banana adds quite a lot of sweetness on its own, so you really don’t need much jelly at all. This makes for a perfect post-workout meal too – some good carbs and protein, and plenty of potassium and sodium to replenish your electrolytes.

Training Log (Sept 8-14)

workout log

Monday -rest day (had to work). Did this 15 min Zumba workout at home to sweat a little. The Zumba obsession continues!

Tuesday - 3 easy miles on the treadmill (9:53 pace)

Wednesday- tempo workout (2 miles at 9:00, 1 mile cooldown), followed by Zumba!

I’m starting to build tempo workouts into my schedule every other week, and I’ll be increasing the distance by 0.5 mile each time. While recommendations for tempo paces vary, I follow the simple rule of thumb of running close to half marathon pace (or 15 seconds slower than your 10K pace). If you don’t know what your race paces are, just pick a challenging but manageable pace that you can maintain for 20-30 minutes – the goal is to push against your thresholds and improve strength and endurance, and you can definitely do that based on how hard the run feels.

Thursday- rest (work)

Friday- rest (work)

Saturday- 5 miles outside (9:33 pace)

This was a great, confidence building run, and my longest run outside since May! I was lucky to have Mel as my running buddy, and we drove to a park in Arlington and ran 2.5 miles out and back on the Four Mile Run trail. I mentioned last week that I’ve been struggling with running outside, and having a buddy and cooler weather made all the difference this weekend.

Sunday- 4 easy miles on the treadmill (10:07 pace) and a yoga class

Great week of training! I think I’m ready to start slowly building up my weekend long runs again :) I’d like to be back in half-marathon shape by December.

Do you have a favorite smoothie flavor/ recipe?

What’s your go-to meal when things get busy? I’d love some new ideas!!


CycleYOU Spin Studio

I mentioned last week that Mike and I like to get in a workout or two even when we’re on vacation because it gives us energy for the rest of the day and helps negate some of those “vacation calories”. One of the things we do is to look for interesting exercise studios and gyms near where we’re staying – it definitely beats getting on the elliptical in an empty hotel gym, and feels like a fun vacation activity to boot!

I did my research before we went to Kentucky last week and found CycleYOU, a spin/ bike studio in Lexington. There weren’t a lot of reviews in Googleland, so we weren’t sure what to expect when we drove up to the warehouse-like brick building in the back part of town for a Sunday morning class.
Well, we could tell as soon as we walked inside that we had come to the right place! The guy at the desk was very friendly and helpful, and showed us around the studio before setting us up with spin shoes (first rental is free!), towels and bikes. I was excited to see power meters on the spin bikes when we entered the cycling room, and the bikes were in great condition (the ones at our gym are starting to feel a little beat-up), making for a very smooth ride.
We took the Sunday AM Sweat class with Jenny, which was an hour of spin set to great music. The workout format felt similar to Flywheel, with about 2/3 of the time dedicated to standard spin tracks (hills, intervals, steady tempo) and 1/3 incorporating abs or arms with small weights. Jenny gave us cues for increasing and decreasing resistance as well as RPMs to meet (loved the meters for this!). Like other boutique spin studios, the lights were turned off for the ride, with a few candles near the instructor to provide a little mood lighting :)

The workout went by fast and we were dripping at the end of class. We made use of the showers, which were stocked with products, since we weren’t planning to go back to the hotel till the evening.
DSC03068 DSC03069
I should mention that CycleYOU is a lot more than just a spin studio; it’s part of Swim Bike Run Kentucky, a triathlon training center. Adjacent to the spin studio, we saw a Computrainer area, where can people bring their bikes and trainer and watch TV or bike a course. They sell all sorts of triathlon gear and have clinics on proper running form and other topics from time to time. They also offer yoga and TRX classes (if we had more time, we would have taken TRX too!).

Overall, I highly recommend CycleYOU for a great workout if you’re in the Lexington area! First class is free and additional single classes are $20.

For fitness adventures closer to home, Mike’s really excited that a CorePower Yoga opened up in Virginia this summer – we discovered CPY last time we were in LA – and we’re looking forward to trying the cult favorite SoulCycle that finally in DC!

From Around the Web:

- September Guide to Seasonal Produce (Cookie and Kate)

- 3 Signs You’re Ready to Train for a Marathon (

- Top Skaters Do 26.2 Miles in 90 Minutes (Washington Post)


Fall Racing Calendar and Workout Log

The events of this day thirteen years ago will never be forgotten, and we remember the people who lost their lives that day.

This week has been crazy at work; we got hit with a proposal last week, so my days have been long, long, long. But I’ve been praying for strength and a renewed mind every day, and as a result, I’ve had energy for work, been really efficient at writing my sections, completed my workouts, and finished my homework and quizzes on time! Praise God :)

Training Log (Sept 1-7)

workout log
Monday -rest day and traveling! Was not very happy about our non-stop from Kentucky getting changed to a one-stop…why can airlines do this??

Tuesday - easy 3 miles on the treadmill (9:42 pace)

Wednesday - Zumba! I’m really enjoying getting my Latin groove on lately ;) I’m still super awkward (thanks to my non-existent dance genes), but it’s such a fun workout and great cross-training, as long as I’m careful about my knees and ankles!

Thursday - rest day

Friday - 7 X 400 meter speed workout (paces from 7:36 to 7:59) on the treadmill. I felt much better during this workout than the one the week before; I’m think I’m starting to find some speed in my legs again!

Saturday - 1.5 miles on the treadmill. My legs felt like lead, so I quit after 1.5 miles instead of trying to push to 3. I find that if I haven’t warmed up after a mile, my body probably needs the rest.

Sunday - 3 mile run/ walk outside. This was supposed to be a 4.5 mile “long” run, but somehow, I couldn’t push myself to get this done.

Pretty solid week of training, except for the long run. My runs outside have been problematic lately, and I think part of the problem is that I’ve had a couple of bad runs on my usual route, so whenever I go for a run, I find myself stopping and walking at the same place, unable to mentally push through. I’m thinking that switching up my running route and putting together a new playlist will go a long way towards breaking me out of the rut! Which needs to happen soon, because I think I’ve finally nailed down what fall races I’m going to do…

Fall Racing Calendar

After canceling my half marathon, I was wondering what goals I wanted to accomplish this fall, and I decided to focus on speed and hopefully a new 10K PR. My last one was set during the summertime, and I know I’m a faster cool weather runner, so I’m thinking with some speedwork and solid training, I might be able to beat it this year! Here are the races on my fall calendar:
Oct 11 – Rock and Stroll 10K (Alexandria, VA)
Nov 2 – Run for the Parks 10K (DC)
Second shot at a 10K PR, with a few additional weeks to train after the Rock and Stroll.
vet day 5k_2014_ibc_5
Nov 9 – Veteran’s Day 5K (Fairfax, VA)
I’m SUPER excited about this race, because I’m running it with Sister J!! Not that I’m on a mission to convert my whole family to runners or anything…
Dec 7 – Run with Santa 5K (Reston, VA)
I’ve done Pacers’ Jingle All the Way 5K as my holiday race a few times, so I’m gonna run PRR’s Run with Santa 5K for a change this year. Plus, PRR gives out better shirts.

If I’m successful in upping my long run distance in mid-November and December, I might also run the Gar Williams Half in mid-December.  I love cool weather running!

Speaking of cool weather, here’s the first pumpkin-flavored food I’ve eaten for the year:DSC03088

Do you have a goal race each training cycle, or do you race for fun?


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