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post-race warm-up

I owe a race report on Saturday's Big Sur Mud Run, which was a fantastically ridiculous, hilarious, dirty, bonding experience.

Unfortunately, that will have to wait. My allergies are so bad right now that I feel like my sinuses are about to explode and the inside of my skull has been bitten by mosquitoes -- even my eardrums are itchy. Also, I can't stop sneezing. Or blowing my nose.

So a short blog entry tonight, with a photo of the post-race clam chowder we feasted on at the Sea Harvest Fish Market and Restaurant in Monterey. This hit the spot -- warmed us up after we spent the morning covered in cold mud.

early bird gets the beignet and benny

Woke up before dawn this morning to meet Jenn for breakfast at Brenda's French Soul Food in San Francisco. (This is one of the spots on my to-eat list for 2010.)

I know crawling out of bed at this hour to go to a restaurant sounds completely insane, but Brenda's is the size of a walk-in closet and has a cult-like following, so the only way to avoid a wait is to get there by 8 a.m., which is when the restaurant opens on the weekend. If you hit the snooze button and arrive at 8:30, there's a very good chance you'll end up waiting at least 45 minutes. I showed up at 7:55, and there were already two other people in line, and three people arrived about two minutes after I did. By the time the restaurant opened, there was a big crowd outside.

Our breakfast was definitely worth waking up for: We started by splitting the beignet flight, which included one each of the plain beignet, the Granny Smith Apple beignet (this was like apple pie), the molten Ghirardelli chocolate-filled beignet and the crawfish beignet with cayenne scallions and cheddar. Each one was completely delicious, but my favorite was definitely the crawfish -- it was really interesting because the dough was slightly sweet, the crawfish was savory and the whole thing had a spicy kick to it. Good stuff. Next I ordered from the specials board -- got Eggs Benedict with a Creole hollandaise (that had mustard seeds in it) and fried catfish over a buttermilk biscuit with a side of grits. So out-of-control amazing. Jenn got the shrimp and cheddar grits, which she said was great, too.

runner's high

So despite being outrun by this guy and his dog (only temporarily and on a downhill, though, I'd like to point out), the Carneros Vineyard Run 10K was an all-around success. I finished with a chip time of 58:44 -- a 9:27-minute mile pace, which is really great for me, the girl who runs like a turtle.

The course was incredibly hilly. It started at Artesa, which is on a hill so massive that it actually has a view of the San Pablo Bay. I have also been told that if zombies were to attack, Artesa is the ideal place to evacuate to because said hill makes it like a fortress and you would easily see any approaching undead and could defend yourself from above, perhaps with harpoons and hot lead. (Does hot lead work on zombies?)

But I digress. As I was saying, the race started at Artesa, wound its way down with a quad-burning descent, flattened out a bit, went up a small hill out of the winery's driveway and then turned left down a very hilly country road lined with cows and vineyards for an out-and-back, which meant having to climb back up the gigantic hill to get to the finish line.

Laura and I ran the 5K on the same course last year, so we knew what was ahead of us. To prepare, we spent the past few months meeting in Carneros on the weekends to run hills. It was tough, but it paid off in a big way. While the hills didn't seem easier, we knew what we needed to do to get over them. The result? PRs for both of us!

To celebrate, we went to Boon Fly afterward for Bloody Mary's and doughnuts. Talk about post-race glow.


Been dealing with a lot of misinformation the past few days. Apparently, there are some reporters who think publishing gossip from unnamed, unassociated sources without verifying facts with any officials is OK. As a result, stories that are completely untrue get printed.

How is this possible? Where are the ethics, the accountability? Since when did In Touch Weekly-style reporting become the model for all forms of journalism? I spent only a very short time in newspapers and the paper I worked for was a teeny-tiny outfit, but I was always told that information had to come from a specific source -- no unnamed sources. I couldn't just repeat hearsay; everything had to be verified.

I don't know what's more frustrating -- the fact that I have been trying to clean up this mess since Saturday, or the fact that journalism has become so compromised. Instead of being angry, I'm just so disappointed.

It's been tough not to dwell on this or take it personally. I have to really force myself to focus on other, more positive things in my life and remind myself that work (and its accompanying drama) isn't everything.

So, a list of the good: Todd's homemade black bean soup. Daylight-saving time and being able to run after work without wearing head-to-toe reflective gear and a head lamp. All of the wonderful counterspace in our new kitchen. Extra-soft spa socks. Happy, purring cats.

where we left off


Yesterday's debacle is resolved -- landlord called this morning, check will be mailed ASAP, no need for me to learn black magic. Thank goodness. I haven't been that angry in a long time, and it definitely didn't feel healthy.

The mysterious leg pain is also headed toward recovery. Ran into my personal trainer friend last night at the gym. He did a couple of motion tests to figure out where the injury is, and it seems I was right -- slight strain in the rectus femoris. He gave me an exercise to get the muscle working through its range of motion again: Basically, I just lie on my back with my right leg bent, right foot resting on the ground, and then -- with my left foot flexed and leg straightened -- raise and lower my left leg very slowly, two counts up and four counts down. This sounds easy, but it was challenging -- I could definitely tell right away that my leg was weak. It's funny how bodies can get unbalanced like that -- one side working harder and pulling the other along until something painful happens and throws everything off.

Hopefully, the aches and pains until the next 26.2 will be minor. And yes, that big decision has been resolved as well: Portland, here I come. Bet you didn't see that one coming, did you?

Glad this week is almost over. (And didn't my lunch look good? Dim sum always makes it better.)

a pox

Came home tonight to find out my former landlord deducted a large chunk of change from our deposit, with part of that money going toward repairing a screen door that we never even had. When I called to complain, she accused me of lying and said I took off the screen door myself because I probably damaged it.

I swear to god, if I had the power to make someone's skin break out head-to-toe in burning, pus-filled boils, if I could somehow transport a ghost to the property so no one would ever want to live there, if I could even just sue her freaking pants off, I would.

But I'm not a witch or the winning eBay bidder. And unfortunately, it's my word against hers.

And apparently, I am a liar. Even though I have always kept an open line of communication with her and have been very congenial -- even when she raised the rent, I didn't argue with her. Even though I paid her on time every month, and the one month the check didn't arrive (because it got lost in the mail), I immediately drove down to her house in Novato to drop off the money in person.

So the word "livid" doesn't even begin to describe how I feel at this moment. For those of you who read this blog (all whopping five of you -- ha, I know I get such high traffic!), do not ever rent this house or have anything to do with the Conroys.

fed by a friend

Thank you to my co-worker, Teresa, who fed us tonight. She and her husband made curry yesterday and had lots of leftovers, which she packed up and brought to the office for me to take home for dinner. The curry fed both Todd and me, and there's still some left for lunch tomorrow.

recent lessons

How to count to 10 and say the alphabet in French. I also find it funny that the very first phrase we learned in tonight's class was: "Un bon vin blanc" -- a good white wine.


That human flesh is just like any other meat: Subject to freezer burn. Yes, folks, while attempting to ice my upper rectus femoris (or whatever it is), I accidentally gave myself freezer burn. But the good news is that my muscle pain seems to have lessened. Or maybe this is just because my skin is now bright red and so sensitive that all other pain pales in comparison.


That bowling technique can and will worsen with more pitchers of beer. However, bowling alleys make for good photos.


That you should not go for a hill run when it is unnaturally hot out and you are hungover from bowling alley beer. Also, if you are stupid enough to attempt such an ill-advised athletic endeavor and you experience stinging pain in your shoe, you should stop and look. Because the stinging pain is most likely a bug that has been biting your ankle for the past two miles.

meet mr. happy

(Not exactly what you expected, is he? I know your minds are just as dirty as mine.)

Mr. Happy is my ice pack. And he is currently being employed on some funkiness in what seems to be my upper rectus femoris, according to this chart. (Keep in mind that everything I've learned about anatomy comes from Google searches. I'm an English major, not a physical therapist. All I really know is my leg hurts; therefore, I'm putting ice on it.)

So yes, getting back into training again -- did 5 x 400 at 5K pace last night at the track. Lifted weights and cross-trained tonight. Tomorrow is a rest day -- grateful!

portland vs. nike

This is the question.

I have been going back and forth about what my next 26.2 will be for quite some time now (pretty much since my last/first 26.2). Given my schedule (which, at present, is characterized by a full-time job, a part-time job, moving, being tortured by cats and have I mentioned I am also about to start taking two-hour French classes on Monday nights?) and the time I know I will need for training, I am looking for a fall/winter race. And ideally, I am hoping for flat or somewhat flat terrain since I'm still struggling with the hill thing. Also a plus: A fun, scenic location with good spectator support that will provide entertainment and encouragement for the roughly 4.5 hours I will be running, which is the target finishing time -- fingers crossed.

I've narrowed my options to Portland and Nike. Both are in October in amazing cities. But I can't decide what to do: Should I just register for Portland now before the fees go up, or should I try to get a lottery spot for Nike?

Both races have major advantages and disadvantages. Portland is awesome, and if I run there, I will probably get to eat spam sandwiches at BrunchBox again. And I am kind of obsessed with this city -- I love the energy, the food, the people. It would be a great getaway, and the race date is 10.10.10 -- something about the triple numbers is oddly appealing. Also, the course is pretty darn flat. But unfortunately, it does cross train tracks in several spots, and if a train is passing, I may get stuck -- which means minutes of just standing there and waiting (and potentially thinking "Why the hell am I doing this?" and quitting). Also, Portland involves travel, which involves money, which is sort of tough in this economy. And this travel would happen during the height of harvest, which means Todd would not be there for moral support.

Nike is closer to home -- assuming I succeeded with my lottery entry, I'd be running in San Francisco. And instead of a medal, I'd receive a Tiffany necklace, handed out by handsome men in tuxedos at the finish line. However, I've heard the race is pretty disorganized -- not enough aid stations and a chaotic starting line. (And the Web site is already a nightmare to navigate -- I hope this isn't a sign of what's to come.) Rumor also has it that the race is more for half-marathoners than it is for those doing the full; apparently, after the 13.1 mark, crowd support disappears. And this point in the race also happens to be the most boring as far as scenery goes. And the entry fee is already $35 more expensive than Portland, and registration information was just released, so the price can only go up.

What to do, what to do ...

(Although secretly, I think I may already know the answer ... )

otbn in d.c.

I momentarily escaped the moving madness and spent this past weekend in D.C., catching up with the girls and reminiscing about our grad school days. Of course, most of these conversations occurred during long, leisurely meals punctuated by the comment: "We don't see each other enough. Let's just go for it." And extra appetizers, one more cocktail and several types of dessert would be ordered.

As a result, I suspect my caloric intake was something around 10,000 over the course of 2.5 days. But like I've said before, this is why I run, right?

We ate at all of my favorite old haunts. There was dinner at Bistrot Du Coin, whose mixed vegetable tartine had been a lunchtime treat for me back in the day. There was breakfast at Teaism, where I used to grab oatmeal and chai. (Actually, we stopped there multiple times over the weekend -- loaded up on tea, fun mugs and oatmeal-and-salt cookies.) And of course, there was the much-anticipated visit to Mandalay, my favorite restaurant of all time. (Mandalay deserves a blog entry all to itself -- I hope to get to that later this week.)

But we went to new places too: Brunch at Café Atlántico (which may be the closest I've ever come to the whole molecular gastronomy thing) and dinner at Palena's café, the much more casual front section of the restaurant.

I didn't realize it until this morning, but that meal at Palena coincided with Open That Bottle Night, the wine "holiday" during which you are supposed to pop the cork on a wine you've been saving for a special occasion.

When we got to the restaurant, there was a wait, so we stood next to the bar, which also happened to be right beside a table where four people were enjoying six bottles of really unbelievable wines with their dinner. I saw the word "Montrachet" immediately and started drooling.

I don't know exactly how this came about (especially since we were having a really graphic conversation about pregnancy that probably would've completely sicked out anyone who was eavesdropping), but before we knew it, one of the guys at the table (and he wasn't a creepy guy -- he was dining out with his wife and another couple) asked us if we wanted to share the wine. "We have so much," he said. He then gave us glasses of 2007 Dugat-Py Gevrey Chambertin.

Oh my goodness. The wine was the perfect simile for the evening -- memorable and bright and full of mirth with just enough seriousness. And I never wanted it to end.

Anyway, unfortunately, I was too shy to snap a label shot, but the photo above is Palena's gnocchi, which had black truffles and was also lovely -- like "little pillows," as Kate so accurately described it.