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Yet one more reason to love the library: Cookbooks.

I can't tell you how many times I've bought a cookbook, only to have it sit on the shelf collecting dust because it didn't fit into my life -- the recipes required too much advance planning, or the ingredients were difficult to find, or the cookbook was more of a coffee table picture book than an actual reference work.

But the library changes all of that. I love being able to check out cookbooks and take them on a little test run before making the commitment to buy them.

Recently, I borrowed Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

There is just so much to love about Mark Bittman. First of all, he's a marathoner. Second, there is his food philosophy. While he advocates eating a largely plant-based diet, he doesn't believe in cutting things out forever because he doesn't want to stop eating food he loves -- he has a "vegan before 6 p.m. rule," where he pretty much eats like a vegan all day, thereby receiving the health benefits of a mostly vegan diet, and then allows himself to enjoy dinner. (You can read more about this philosophy here.)

And finally: He is a great teacher. (I'm sure those of you who were fans of his now-retired Minimalist column will agree.) His recipes are straightforward, he uses ingredients that are highly likely to be found in your pantry (I've flipped through the book numerous times to choose a dish based on what I had on hand, and it wasn't tough to find something) and he suggests variations for each dish, so once you've learned the basics, you can change things up.

Tonight Todd used Bittman's book to make Braised and Glazed Turnips (and if you don't have turnips, the same recipe applies to radishes or any other root veggie) and Broiled Sunchokes. (We also had some tofu, turnip greens and mushrooms over brown rice, which you can see in the photo above.)

The result?

Delicious. And I'm pretty sure I'll be buying How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and making it a permanent part of our cookbook collection.

the cat's bandanna

Few things are more wonderful than cats wearing clothes.

too tame?

Went to Straw with Christina tonight.

After reading the Daily Candy and Urban Daddy blurbs about the restaurant, I pictured walls hung with striped circus tent fabric, servers dressed in some kind of costume (ringmaster?), a row of penny arcade games, a cotton candy machine and a hostess shouting: "Step right up!"

Instead, the restaurant was sort of subdued. Yes, there was a tilt-a-wheel, vintage carnival photos, antique signs and a pink flamingo outside, but no ringmaster. And the walls were white. The vibe felt more cute country cafe than raucous kitschy carnival. Also, the space was teeny-tiny -- like Brenda's French Soul Food before its recent expansion. And there was nothing bad about this. It just wasn't what I expected.

Before I start talking about the food, I want to emphasize that Straw has been open for less than a week. In fact, they don't even have their alcohol license yet -- they're that new. As with any fledgling restaurant, there are kinks to iron out, and it's unfair to make judgments too soon.

In addition, I ordered primarily from the gluten-free and vegetarian menus. (Yes, Straw has four menus -- regular, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan. I had to flip through two of them at the same time, comparing and contrasting and trying to figure out what I could eat. It might have been easier to combine all of this on one menu and use symbols to denote which items can be served gluten-free and which are vegetarian/vegan. Saves paper.) And gluten-free is, well, not exactly exciting. In fact, it can be downright boring. The only gluten-free items on the menu were the truffle popcorn, the sandwiches (with gluten-free bread) and salads.

So I cheated a little, and Christina and I started with the Easy Cheese Revisited -- house-fried potato chip nachos with béchamel (which has flour), scallions and tomatoes.

It was just OK. The cheese was lukewarm; tomatoes aren't in season right now, so these were a little flavorless; and the scallions were chopped in such large pieces that they were extremely strong (seriously, it was like whoever prepared the dish needed better knife skills).

For my main, I got the Gastro Gypsy sandwich -- olive tapenade, Moroccan carrots and chèvre -- on gluten-free bread with a side salad.

The side salad was simple yet good (mixed greens with olive oil and balsamic), but teeny-tiny. But the sandwich was kind of depressing. I'm starting to think I really don't like gluten-free bread (remember the gluten-free English muffin incident?) -- it is crumbly, dry and heavy, and just doesn't taste like bread at all. I ended up dissecting my sandwich and scraping off the inside and eating that. And the inside was OK -- I felt like I could've made this sandwich at home.

But like I said, maybe there are still some kinks, and maybe I just had a bad experience because of my super-restrictive diet. Christina had the Bearded Lady, a pulled pork sandwich with blackberry coulis, and she loved it. She also ordered a side of mac-and-cheese, which came with chunks of apple and bacon (seriously, whoever was cooking back there really had no knife skills -- everything was cut in such huge pieces), and that was really good too. So I think maybe I just ordered wrong.

Anyway, after dinner, we took a walk (or maybe I should say "limp," since Christina is on crutches and I am still dealing with my ankle) through Hayes Valley and ended up getting dessert at Christopher Elbow -- snuck in just before they closed. I had a Chinese five-spice hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows and a dark chocolate peanut butter cup, and she had a hazelnut hot cocoa with whipped cream and marshmallows and a milk chocolate turtle.

Hit the spot!

ramen girl

Spent the evening icing, elevating and watching -- wait for it -- The Ramen Girl.

The movie made me hungry, but Shoki and its Tan Tan Men -- my favorite bowl from 2010 -- are all the way in Sacramento. So I had to eat hummus instead.

(By the way, I went to the doctor today just to make sure the sprain was nothing more than a sprain. The X-ray came out clean, thank goodness -- no fractures! And no walking boot or crutches. Although I am wearing this weird little compression bandage.)


Tonight I rolled my ankle in a truly craptacular way -- and with barely a week left until race day.

Of course, right?

Note to self: If you ever feel hesitant about doing speedwork at night on an uneven cinder track with only a headlamp for light, listen to what your gut is telling you. Stay home. Run another time. Or at least, tackle the uneven terrain in the daylight.

We were doing 3 x 3-minute intervals tonight. The first set went fine, but the second was another story. I remember rounding the first turn -- right where the track was the lumpiest -- and suddenly feeling an acute, stabbing pain in my left ankle. And then I was sitting on the grass and couldn't move my foot and was trying to decide whether to cry or not because it really, really hurt. (Thankfully, the latter choice won out. No crying in front of the teammates!)

My running buddies told me later that I had yelled, "Ow! I'm done!" and went down. (Honestly, I'm really surprised that's all I shouted. Usually, this kind of thing would've triggered a stream of swearing.)

I had to be driven back from the track with a pack of ice strapped to my foot. And the woman who drove me told me a horrific story about how she had twisted her ankle once and had torn all kinds of ligaments and almost had to have surgery and was in a walking boot for weeks.


I'm really hoping my injury isn't that bad. My foot is swollen around the anklebone and tender to the touch, but it's not bruising, so maybe it will be OK.

Seriously, I don't even know what to say right now.

the diet

Part Two of my nutrition consultation took place today.

My nutritionist and I went to Whole Foods, and walked up and down every aisle. She pointed out the things I should be eating and talked a lot about reading labels. Apparently, many foods -- such as juices, yogurts, granolas, etc. -- bill themselves as "healthy," but upon closer look actually have a significant amount of sugar. Case in point: Some superfood or green juices. They seem like a good idea at first glance (hell, they're green), but when you check the label, they're full of sugar.

She also pointed out various gluten-free alternatives -- breads, tortillas, pastas, even pretzels. I picked up some gluten-free cereal, which she suggested trying with almond milk and sliced banana to make it even more filling. Non-stop hunger is a problem I've been having lately. (For example, this morning I had a protein shake -- almond milk, goat milk yogurt, whey protein, fresh raspberries, fresh blueberries and chia seeds -- at 8:15, but then was ravenous by 10.) Not sure if it's due to getting back into the training cycle (I'm now back to running more than 20 miles a week) or if I need even more protein.

I told her about this issue, and she gave me a few tips. If I have a rice cake, I should always put something on it -- like a little bit of coconut oil or sunflower seed butter (which I haven't tried yet, but which sounds like it is going to be awesome). She also gave me another protein powder to try. (Apparently, not all protein powders are created equal. And one of the concerns about whey protein is that it may not come from grass-fed cows, and grass-fed is supposedly better for you than grain-fed.)

And then there were the little goodies to mix things up and add variety, like a jar of supercharged kraut, complete with spirolina, kale and nettles. I already ate some of it with dinner tonight -- delish!

It was actually a really fun appointment -- much better to discuss what I can eat instead of what I need to give up!


This is kind of how I've been feeling about running lately. It's all about building a solid foundation (bonus points if that foundation involves a cat and a satsuma), especially after the disappointment of my last race.

I'm discovering that my weekly Pilates class is hugely helpful -- it's like I get realigned and rebuilt every Tuesday night. My teacher straightens my feet (no more running with my right foot turned out!), loosens my hips and asks me to exhale audibly. She has me roll up and down, vertebra by vertebra. It is slow work, and my abs get tired.

"One day you will wake up and surprise yourself," she says. "One day you will realize how much stronger you've become."

And so I'm waiting.

monday, monday

A fitting thought as I try to figure out where this day went.

And now it's off to bed, so I can make it to the track in the morning!


Let me start by explaining that I was not raised to love the outdoors.

I didn't grow up spending family vacations camping. (As you may recall, my childhood family vacations only involved the Virgin Mary, and I guess she never appeared in the woods because we never went there.) I wasn't taught how to identify poison oak. (Actually, I still don't really know and often get it confused with wild berry plants, which probably sounds ridiculous, but that is the truth.) And I sometimes got in trouble for playing outside. (I'm not even kidding -- my mom used to yell things like: "Don't chase the ice cream man! You'll get kidnapped!")

Yet somehow I found myself waking up at 4:30 this morning to go snowshoeing at Fisher Lake, just outside Tahoe.

I spent the day trudging up and down steep, icy hills in extremely awkward footwear. (Note to self: Next time, be aware that choosing an "intermediate" eight-mile hike for your first snowshoe experience is a little, shall we say, ambitious.)

Everything was white and punctuated by bits of pine tree (we could only see the tops of some -- they were so buried in snow) and rock. Even Fisher Lake itself was covered.

I fell twice: Once, sliding down a hill on my butt (awesome), and the second time, accidentally stepping on one of my snowshoes and tripping myself (perhaps even more awesome).

But I survived. And I kind of want to go again.

(I think I am a mashochist.)

12 slow miles

Twelve-mile road run today with Neveia -- the farthest I've run since CIM, and it was not easy. I'm not quite sure what was going on, but for some reason, I was exhausted -- legs felt heavy, breathing was labored and I had no energy whatsoever.

I suspect a number of factors: I haven't gotten much sleep at all this week -- it's been a struggle to make it to bed before 11 p.m. And last night all I had for dinner was lemon escarole soup. Granted, it was awesome (and if you want to try your hand at it, the recipe can be found on Shaya's blog), but it wasn't really carbo-packed. Also, I think I'm still recovering from running intervals Thursday night.

Anyway, we slogged it out at a pretty pathetic pace. (Let's just say I ran the SF 13.1 with huge hills and a knee injury faster than I ran this morning's 12 miles.) I'm glad Neveia was there to keep me going. The good side of running at a slower pace: More time for us to chat and catch up!

Afterward, we rewarded our persistence with a fantastic lunch at Cafe Gratitude, where I inhaled this enchilada.

I'm nervous as hell for Kaiser. I don't feel ready at all!

aptly named

... is perhaps the best way to describe Santa Rosa's Bliss Bakery. I walked in, took one look at the bakery case (giant chocolate chip cookies, giant brownies, pie-piece sized slices of shortbread) and felt like shouting: "Yes! I can has baked goodz!"

And so I did just that.

I started with a slice of mushroom tart.

And then I had a cup of vegan pepper and carrot soup.

And then I filled a box with brownies, flax bread, maple shortbread and toffee cupcakes for later.

And when later arrived, I was a very, very happy girl.

Eating through the go-to list is so much fun!

the list

Considering the fact that January is almost over and I've actually already eaten at one of the places that was going to be on my must-eat list for 2011, I figured it was time to post the official list.

So here we go. (And I'm only going to list nine because I already went to Fork.)

Santa Ramen in San Mateo: Supposedly the best ramen in the Bay Area. For ramen, I will totally make an exception to every rule. Bring on the pork and the gluten. I'll deal with the guilt and the bloating later.

Ken Ken Ramen in San Francisco: A pop-up in the Mission started by a Japanese chef and two white guys who grew up in Japan. The ramen quest must continue! And pop-ups are a hell of a lot of fun.

Bliss Bakery in Santa Rosa: Also known as the North Bay's gluten-free haven. Menu items include gallettes, toffee cupcakes and madeleines. How can you not drool? I'm meeting friends there tomorrow for lunch. The plan? I'm leaning toward pizza. And possibly a giant to-go box of baked goods.

Food Truck Friday in Napa: This food truck gathering takes place on the first Friday of every month. Now that I've checked out the Santa Rosa's Munch Monday, it's time to see what Napa has to offer.

Straw in San Francisco: Lots of hype over this carnival-themed restaurant, which opens Jan. 24. Funhouse mirrors! Sandwiches with doughnut buns! Games played throughout the meal! Yes, it's kitschy, but it's got my attention.

Dynamo Donuts in San Francisco: Speaking of doughnuts, this is one of the three spots from last year's list (the other two were Quince and Flour + Water) that I didn't make it to. I still want a fancy-pants gourmet doughnut. And yes, once again, I'll risk the gluten and the guilt.

Morimoto in Napa: Remember when I met him and it was awesome? I'd like to check out his restaurant. Also, there is ramen on the menu. Granted, a bowl is $14, but I guess that's the price for Iron Chef Ramen.

Plum in Oakland: Ubuntu founding chef Jeremy Fox is now leading the kitchen at Plum. I loved what Fox did at Ubuntu. It's highly likely I will also love Plum.

Animal in L.A.: OK, this is completely weird. First, it's in L.A. Second, it specializes in offal, which is clearly not vegetarian. But hey, if we're going to eat the beast, we might as well eat all of it.

why running buddies rule

Last Sunday, in the middle of our muddy, misty trail run, I said: "Let's pretend we're unicorns."

And my friend responded: "OK, but don't tell Voldemort because he drinks unicorn blood."

And another friend said: "We have to make sure we say the name 'Voldemort' because we need to show we're not afraid."

And suddenly a chorus of "Voldemort! Voldemort! Voldemort!"

Perhaps I've found my new running mantra.

munch monday

I know. Today is Tuesday.

I never said I'd be punctual.

And all you really need to know is every Monday is now Munch Monday, which means four or five food trucks are gathering in downtown Santa Rosa from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. to feed the hungry masses.

And yesterday, that meant me.

Food trucks/carts/trailers in attendance were Fork, Dim Sum Charlie's, Street Eatz, La Texanita and Chicago Style Hot Dog.

I made a beeline for Fork. I'd been reading about their fantastic menu for awhile -- lots of organic and seasonal offerings and really high-quality ingredients. Seriously, look at this menu -- crab sandwiches and grass-fed beef from a food truck? Yes.

Given my current diet issues (yes, I've survived one week sans wheat -- more on that in a future post), I was all about the quinoa burger. And the lovely Fork folks were kind enough to substitute a bed of salad greens -- arugula topped with watermelon radishes and pepitas, to be exact -- for the bun.

Delicious from a distance ...

... and even more fantastic up close!

tonight's festivities

Let's just say there was wine, pastries, homemade kale chips, reality TV and a few runners who needed to put their feet up for a bit.

a day on the trails

First, an 8-mile trail run at Shiloh Regional Park. The climbing felt never-ending, the mud was ankle-deep in parts, and I saw two banana slugs (gross!) and a field full of spiderwebs covered in dew. By the time I finished, my shoes were so caked in dirt that it looked like I had waded through wet cement.

Then, I ran two more miles on the road for a total of 10. (Note to self: Next time I decide to do this, I need to bring a pair of road shoes, preferably clean. The trail shoes are great for trails, but their soles are a little too much for the roads.) Must prep for Kaiser, right?

Finally, I spent the afternoon with Todd and another couple at Salt Point, hiking through soggy pine needles and foraging for mushrooms.

We found hedgehogs (look at the spikes!):

Yellow foot chanterelles:

This big boy -- our find of the day -- which we're pretty sure is a chanterelle (just need to double-check with our mushroom expert friend to make sure it's what we think it is):

And we found this gorgeous view, too:

And now I'm tired and want to tumble into bed.

off to bed, off to run

About to call it a night -- meeting the Turtles at 7 a.m. tomorrow for a 10-miler. Our coach sent out an e-mail saying tomorrow's route will probably be muddy. Will this mean more leaping over little "streams" like I did in this photo from last week's run?

(By the way, I can't believe race day is coming up so soon -- have I mentioned the fact that I don't feel ready at all?)


This is a vegan breakfast sandwich on gluten-free bread. I picked it up at The Garden this morning. (They now open at 6 a.m. on weekdays and have grab-and-go breakfast options -- thought I'd check it out.)

Yes, today turned out to be the day of sampling gluten-free alternatives, which is something I hadn't done yet since deciding to experiment with a diet sans wheat. I'd been simply leaving out the wheat during the past few days, instead of trying to replace it with other types of flour. My theory is that gluten-free alternatives are like vegetarian alternatives: No matter what kind of veggie burger or fake hot dog you create, it will never be meat, and I will always know the difference.

I started off with the sandwich. The bread wasn't at all like the English muffin it was trying to replace. It didn't even look remotely like an English muffin. Maybe this was due to what was in the sandwich (fake egg, fake cheese, fake meat and some kind of seasoned spread), but the bread was almost a yellowish color. And the texture was entirely different -- much lighter and slightly more crumbly -- none of the density and chewiness of a real English muffin. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't an English muffin.

The cookies, however, were another story. The chefs at work have been experimenting a lot with gluten-free baking lately. They were looking for feedback on their gluten-free peanut butter and oatmeal-raisin cookies, so they left a basketful in the breakroom.

As you can see, the peanut butter cookie looked just like a regular peanut butter cookie.

But the oatmeal cookie was, well, purpley-grey -- and therefore slightly scary-looking. In fact, I almost didn't try the oatmeal cookie because it looked so odd.

Here they are next to each other, so you can really see the difference in color.

Taste-wise, though, both cookies were actually pretty good replacements for the real thing. Both were moist and flavorful. The peanut butter tasted like peanut butter -- and even left the greasy marks on the napkin like a real peanut butter cookie. And the oatmeal -- other than its strange shade of lilac -- was actually pretty awesome.

So I guess we're 1-1 today. And I've learned not to judge a cookie by its color.


I went to a vegan cooking class last night thinking I was going to, well, a vegan cooking class. As in: There would be a teacher who would instruct, and I would get to chop some vegetables and then go home with recipes.

Instead, the cooking class was a sales pitch for really expensive cookware. And I was told all my pots and pans are going to give me cancer, so I should throw them out and pay $10,000 (I'm not even exaggerating here) for a completely new set made of surgical steel, which is supposed to be safer and cook food faster without oils or water or any kind of liquid.

And then the chef went on to show how all of this magical, extremely pricey cookware worked. I didn't get to chop a single vegetable. And I didn't go home with any recipes. Or cookware, for that matter.

But at least the food was awesome.

some things must wait

It is past my bedtime!

so far, I'm still alive

My lunch actually wasn't as depressing as I thought it was going to be.

In fact, it was good. And I didn't feel like I was going to go into a food coma afterward. (Added bonus: I picked up a package of Salad Booster and sprinkled it on the greens, which resulted in a serious serving of awesome. Salad Booster is a great way to add more flavor and nutrients -- I completely recommend it!)

So I think I'm going to try the gluten-free thing for a week and see how I feel. If I notice a significant difference, I may stick with it -- although I don't think I can stop eating wheat products completely. I'll probably avoid gluten on weekdays and in most homecooked meals, but then allow myself to eat what I want if I go out to eat on the weekend. I'm also curious to see how the new diet will affect my training. Several people have told me that going gluten-free has made their joint pain disappear completely; I wonder if this will help my hip issues.

Speaking of running, I braved 30-degree temperatures and a headwind and went back to the track this morning -- first time in about a month! We did a fartlek workout -- 20 minutes of consecutive running with timed "on" periods at 5K pace and "off" periods at 10K pace (although mine was more like recovery shuffle pace). While I am still the slowest runner out there by far (got lapped twice this morning -- ouch), it felt really good to be doing speedwork again.

the awful truth

This morning's appointment with a nutrition consultant resulted in painful news: I'm supposed to cut down on and eventually stop eating wheat and gluten.


My nutritionist might as well have grown devil horns and said: "Fail! No more pie and ramen for you! Sit in the corner and starve! Muwahahahaha!"

I almost started crying in her office.


I did it because I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything. Amino acids, iron, omega-3s, vitamin B12 -- there is so much to think about, especially when you aren't eating meat or seafood. (Well, most of the time -- I know I sometimes cheat!)

Neveia has been vegetarian for years, and this summer, when we were in the middle of marathon training, she came down with severe anemia.

And it made me worried.


So I fasted. And I peed in a cup. Twice. And I took a saliva test. And drank a glucose drink. And got my finger pricked several times.

The results: I am a fast oxidizer, which means I rapidly convert foods into energy. And because I burn up foods too quickly, I tend to have an overly acid blood pH.

So I need to eat foods that will alkalize my blood. And that means limiting and possibly nixing wheat.

My head is spinning.


I packed my lunch for tomorrow. Salad greens, quinoa, black beans, baked tofu "croutons," carrot sticks. It looks like this.

And I feel sad.

back to it

First day of the trail group -- just a short, relatively easy 5-miler in Howarth Park and around Spring Lake.

So far, much love for the Cascadias -- though I'd like to get them muddier! (Also, bonus points to the Injini toe socks. No blisters or toenail issues!)

Post-run breakfast was at East West Cafe, where I chowed down on scrambled eggs with spinach, tomato, kalamata olives and za'atar. Yum.


The truth is, prior to this afternoon's picnic in the fog at the Tomales Bay Oyster Company, I had never cracked a crab before.

choosing the right shoe

Tonight my world was turned upside down.

And no, it's not because the Vanilla Ice movie is on TV right now. (I can't believe such a thing actually exists. I can't believe I am watching it. The hair. The shaved eyebrows. The fluorescent, shoulder-padded clothing. Yikes.)

It's because I've discovered I'm no longer an overpronator.

After slipping and sliding through Annadel on a 7-miler in my LunarGlides, I went to Heart & Sole tonight to buy a pair of trail shoes. To help me choose, Alex, the guy at the store, took a look at the wear pattern on the soles of my current shoes.

As you can see, the outside edges of my shoes are extremely worn down -- almost bald. Alex explained this is a sign that my shoes have more stability than I actually need, so they end up making my feet roll outward, or supinate.

Then he put me in a pair of neutral shoes, and I ran on a treadmill while he video-taped my feet. When he played the footage back in slow motion, it was clear that my left foot actually supinates while my right foot only very slightly overpronates. He recommended a more neutral shoe.

This is the first time in my two years of serious running that anyone has told me I'm anything besides an overpronator and should be in something other than stability shoes. (Remember the Kayanos I was in just a year ago? Now that was some serious stability. And so many people told me that was what I needed.) I don't know if this means I've changed, or if everyone who has ever fitted me for shoes in the past has been completely wrong.

Alex went on to ask me if I've been having problems with pain in my upper leg (yes!) and said this is likely due to too much stability. Holy crap. Looks like new shoes may help solve my injury issues!

I left with a pair of Brooks Cascadias for trail running.

(Aren't they adorable? Chocolate brown and blue! Although they will probably be Annadel red in about a week.)

mad for miso

I made my very first miso soup from scratch tonight.

Do not mock. I already know. The truth is I was scared of miso soup. I thought it would be really tough to make. I've had homemade versions before, and they were less than good -- too seaweedy, one-dimensional and just not satisfying. So I never tried making my own because I figured I'd fail.

Until tonight.

I stumbled across a recipe for Miso Soup with Rice and Poached Egg, and it sounded so perfect that I had to attempt it. So glad I did -- the soup was simple to make (the hardest part -- besides taking a decent photo -- was tracking down the ingredients) and superbly satisfying, especially on a cold night like this one.

wednesday tip

Wednesday is vegetarian night at Neela's in Napa. (Yup, checked it off the list last week, which means I made it to seven of the 10 places I was hoping to dine at in 2010. Not too shabby!)

For $22 per person, you can get a three-course vegetarian chef's tasting dinner, featuring dishes created just for the evening. (By the way, I find it annoying when restaurants advertise a "special" menu that turns out to be nothing more than an appetizer, entree and dessert taken straight off the regular menu and bundled together. Lame and boring. Thankfully, Neela's isn't guilty of this.)

When we went, our first course was a spicy tomato-based soup; the main was a thali (pictured above) with squash, stuffed eggplant, beet greens, potatoes, rice and naan; and the dessert was fresh fruit in crème anglaise.

We left with very happy bellies.

And then went down the street to the lounge at Zinsvalley, where the Wednesday happy hour lasts all night. Four bucks for a glass of wine? You bet.

good karma

Karma: The total effect of a person's actions and conduct during the successive phases of the person's existence, regarded as determining the person's destiny.

Or, a Cotati-based food cart that serves killer samosas.

In search of respite from the first day back in the office after our long, leisurely holiday break, a couple of co-workers and I tracked down Karma today via their Twitter feed. The hunt led us to a corporate parking lot in Santa Rosa's Fountaingrove neighborhood. We ordered up and then tucked ourselves into my car to chow down on our treats. (Consequently, my car now smells like cumin. But that's OK. Cumin is good. We like cumin.)

We each started with a samosa, which came with three dipping sauces and was so good that we couldn't stop gushing over its deliciousness -- there was a lot of ooh-ing and aah-ing and OMG-ing.

Then I had the curry plate -- mixed vegetables in tikka masala sauce with basmati rice and a small salad. So flavorful and very filling -- I could only eat half, which means I will have awesome leftovers for lunch tomorrow. (And yes, in case you were wondering, I put my lunch on the ground to take this photo. The lighting was better that way. Also, I felt the parking space lines more fully illustrated the idea of mobile food.)

All I have to say is there better be more Karma in my future.


Looks like fun, doesn't it? That's the Rift Zone Trail in Point Reyes, site of my last long training run before the Portland Marathon in October.

I'll probably be out there with the ferns and the ocean views and the banana slugs (ick on this last one -- I'm not a fan of slimy and spineless) again in the coming months -- my training group is focusing on trails through April.

Which brings me to my running goals for the year.

Goal No. 1: Mix it up.

I've spent most of my energy focusing on road running, with trails as an afterthought. That's about to change, and I'm looking forward to it. There will be some welcome challenges: The hills are much more difficult, the footing is trickier (which will hopefully strengthen my ankles -- I'm notorious for twisting my ankle on cracks in the sidewalk) and I'll be forced to stay in the moment and pay more attention to what's around me and where I'm putting my feet rather than what's at the finish line and what my watch says. Plus, I think the varied terrain will be good for me as I continue to recover from last year's injuries.

I'd also love to try something totally out of my comfort zone this year -- possibly a duathlon or triathlon. Or even just simply getting a bike and riding around town to pick up my groceries. I've been toying with the idea for awhile now -- maybe it's time to go for it.

(Oh, and I kind of want to take a Zumba class. Shhh!)

Goal No. 2: Healing.

No more being undermined by my knee at Mile 23! This happened in Portland and again at CIM, and it has to stop. I know what the problem is -- weak core, which forces hips to overcompensate, which makes them tight, which affects knees and pulls them out of alignment, which results in pain -- and I need to fix it. I've already started taking Pilates (went to a springboard class this morning and was the only student there -- I love when a group class becomes a private session), and I'm trying really hard to focus on form and mechanics when I'm running.

I also need to be better about following the 10 percent rule when increasing mileage. I tend to get carried away and over-enthusiastic whenever there's a race on the horizon, and then I push myself too far, too fast. When it comes to training, conservative is good.

Goal No. 3: Break the 2-hour mark.

And if all falls into place -- if I start to feel strong again and fully recovered -- then I'm going to go for the sub-2 half marathon. Because I am so close. I just need to shave 20 seconds off of my time. Twenty seconds! I know I can do this. I just have to train smart and be patient with myself. And do mile repeats.

Goal No. 4: Feel better about the marathon.

I'm still waiting for my breakthrough. Will I ever be able to run 26.2 as an actual race? Or will this distance always be a struggle for survival? Portland seemed so promising, but then CIM ate me alive. I would really like to hit 4:30. If Oprah can do it, surely I can. Right?

Races for 2011

As far as my calendar goes, I haven't signed up for too many things so far. Right now, I'm official for the following:
  • Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon on Feb. 6: This will be my third time running this race. I had originally hoped it would be my sub-2 event, but after CIM kicked my ass, a recent chest cold took my lungs out temporarily and I somehow got engulfed in a sea of desserts over the holidays, I'm behind in my training. I think I'm just going to use it as a warm-up race for the year and take the pressure off.
  • Chesebro Half Marathon on March 26: My first official trail race! And my first race in Southern California! But you know what will make this event especially awesome? It's part of the Great Race of Agoura series, and my dad will be running the 5K. There's a chance we may cross the finish line at the same time. (His event starts after mine.) That would be more amazing, more memorable and more meaningful than any PR ever.
  • Bay to Breakers on May 15: Had to do it -- this year is the 100th anniversary! Quite a few of my training group friends are running it too. And guess what? We're most likely going to dress as turtles. And there's also been some talk of a centipede, which should be interesting. Never done that before, either!
  • San Francisco Half Marathon on July 31: Love this course, love this race and want to redeem myself after last year's sad knee incident. I'll be running the first half. And I'll be hoping for more Irish coffees at the finish line!
  • And possibly the New York Marathon on Nov. 6: I won't know for a few more months if I've gotten in, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. New York would be a knockout experience. Added bonus: Momofuku. (Of course, ramen plays a role in everything.) If I don't get into New York, you'll find me at good ol' CIM once again, on Dec. 4, asking for another spanking.

lazy sunday

While other people are coming up with their resolutions for the New Year, I stayed in bed until almost noon and read while Mari slept on my feet.

Goals can wait. At least one more day.

good-bye, 2010

Well, that went fast.

There were ups and downs. (And I'm not just referring to last night, which was all fun and laughs and the clink of glasses until I found myself roused from slumber at 4 a.m. by My Worst Nightmare: The sound of horrific, violent vomiting in the bathroom sink. Yes, not the toilet -- the sink. And yes, I could tell the difference. As a result, I was too traumatized to go back to sleep and ended up missing my New Year's Day run. Dear Derrick: Rain check for sure. I just need some time to recover psychologically.)

As I was saying.

Ups and downs. Two full marathons and six half marathons. A new 13.1 PR (with potential to break the 2-hour mark). Bad runs and really good ones and absolutely drop-dead gorgeous ones. Runs with people I love.

There was rain. And mud. I learned to deal with hills and sometimes even seek them out. I met the Turtles, my training group, whom I now consider close friends. I started doing speed work with runners much faster than I am (and subsequently got my ass handed to me every Tuesday morning). I suffered my first real running injury and am still dealing with the consequences.

So here's to 2010 and all of the lessons that went with it. Let's see what 2011 has in store.