Categories
Travel

Oh, Canada: Toronto Vacation for the Win

I was standing on a busy street corner last week when a strange man I didn’t know leaned in from behind. “Nice sunglasses,” he crooned. Well-trained NYC women know not to engage with random weirdos offering compliments, so I murmured a sarcastic “thanks” – just shy of the “thanks, creep” I wanted to say – without turning around. As the light changed and I went to cross, I glanced back. Turns out he was a uniformed police officer, wearing the same exact sunglasses as me, which he’d wanted to point out. He smiled and waved. He wasn’t a creep at all.

He was Canadian.

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And he lived here!

I don’t know if you’ve recently traveled to our neighbors to the north with their charming apologies and their decade+ of marriage equality and their adherence to the Paris Agreement, but MAN there’s a lot to like about it.

Sure, they have a handsome president prime minister, but they offer so much more:

  • Their fast-foot joints sell delicious meat alternatives.

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    This is a Beyond Meat sausage egger and cheese from A&W and it’s amazing.
  • They’re all about reducing waste.

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    This friend of a friend’s store, Pretty Clean Shop, has refillable laundry detergent so you never have to throw away an empty container again.
  • You don’t have to give away your peanut butter cups if a guy names Reese comes asking.

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    They aren’t possessive here! No wonder Canadians don’t understand that Mitch Hedberg joke!

During a week in Toronto, we experienced so many delightful things: delicious Thai food, fantastic dim sum, barrels of Timbits, buckets of Caesars (i.e. a Bloody Mary with Clamato juice), and, oh yeah, some non-eating memories too. But hands down my favorite thing about the city was how damn active it allowed us to be.

While I never once put my running shoes to use while visiting “The 6ix” (thanks, Drake), I was still able to keep moving in this walkable, pedestrian-friendly metropolis. By trekking around the waterfront, hiking over to Kensington Market, and exploring the islands on foot, we were able to log 8 or 9 miles a day most days, making me feel slightly less bad about all the pineapple pizza I was eating (don’t @ me).

AND I was able to supplement that walking with some other forms of exercise (plus wedding dancing!), which may sound like vacation torture to some other people, but to me, it was a perfect way to relax on a week off from work:

  • BARRE: I belong to a Barre 3 studio in Queens, so I emailed the Toronto franchise to ask if I could pop in, and they offered me a free class! Huzzah! The moves were essentially the same, but the 80s and 90s inspired playlist was to die for.
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Show Me Love! Though I’ll admit the American Beauty soundtrack during stretches DID creep me out a bit.
  • YOGA: It’s hard to call a restorative class a workout, but considering I fell asleep in every single posture, it seems I really needed it. I went to two different sessions at Toronto’s Yoga Tree studio, and those naps were worth every Canadian penny (which don’t exist anymore, but you know what I mean.)
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I’ll give you ZZZZZen.
  • BIKES: Is a 4-seater bike ride still a workout? Unclear, but it was super fun cruising around Toronto Island with my friends, especially when the journey ended at a lakeside bar.
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EYES ON THE ROAD, BOYS.

Well done, Canada. Until we meet again. ❤

Categories
Travel

Up, Up and Away

We’re in an era of human existence where we spend an awful lot of time looking things up.

  • “Can I use baking soda instead of baking powder?” “Dunno, look it up!”
  • “What ever happened to Brendan Fraser? “Dunno, look it up!”
  • “Is is still my favorite cousin’s birthday in Hong Kong?” “Dunno, look it up!”
  • “What’s the name of that Nic Cage movie where he wants to take John Travolta’s face off?” “He wants to take his face off?” “Yeah, Cage wants to take his face off.” “Dunno, look it up!”

We’re so used to having everything at our fingertips at all times that we never just agree to disagree anymore. In fact, to test how addicted we’d become to the constant ability to seek out any answer at any time, my sister and I once went an entire Maryland-to-Indiana road trip without allowing ourselves even once to approach Google for guidance. Instead, we kept a running list of questions with pen and paper and told ourselves we could search only once we’d arrived in the Hoosier State. Turns out, by the time we got there, we really didn’t much care anymore whether any of the voice actors in the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were still famous.

(You’re going to google that now, aren’t you?)

Ironically, during all that time we spend looking things up, we’re nearly always looking down. Seriously, picture a New York City street, or a subway car, or an elevator, or the gym: We’re always looking down at our phones, rather than up at the physical world around us. And sometimes for good reason – our phones are fun, and if you look up at Manhattan’s tall buildings, everyone thinks you’re a tourist and tries to sell you a double-decker bus ticket.

Still, it can’t be healthy to never – and I mean NEVER, in my case – look up at the outside world. That’s why my visit to Chicago last weekend was so great. Not only did I get to spend some quality time with my sister and eat a “pizza” that was thick as a quiche, but we treated ourselves to an architecture boat tour that demanded we spend a solid 90 minutes taking in the scenery above.

And it was glorious.

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Look at the mix of modernist and post-modern and art-deco style! Just don’t ask me to explain which is which.

Now I can’t say whether an hour an a half away from my normal phone routine made me a healthier person or a better runner, but it sure felt nice to stretch my neck in the other direction for once. So here’s my charge to you this weekend: spend some time looking up at whatever’s above you — buildings, mountains, drive in movie screens, giraffes — and I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you find. I know I was.

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Bean there, done that.

Happy Friday, folks! Get out there and see the world!

Categories
Travel

On the Road Again

Eating healthy is easy, some smug soul will tell you without reading out loud the fine print.

Eating healthy is easy — when you’re at your own house, have no temptations in the fridge, have no plans to see friends and have all the time in the world to whip up a nutrient-packed home-cooked meal.

But when you aren’t in control of your own schedule, your access to food or even your meal times, eating well becomes exponentially more challenging. It’s hard when you’re staying overnight with family. It’s hard when you’re working late. It’s hard when you’re snowed in.

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I need a hot cocoa and I need it stat.

And it’s extra hard when you’re traveling for work, staying at a conference hotel, working 16 hour days and subsiding on vending machines, coffee carts, freebies and (ugh) press food.

That’s right, folks: I’ve just returned from an industry conference and oooh I have the too-tight work pants to prove it!

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(also all these pictures of cars)

But even though my week in Detroit wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of health, I did find some small ways to undo the damage living out of a suitcase was doing my waist line. These are manageable tips you, too, may want to adopt before your next business trip. (But not your next vacation. Live a little!)

#1. Check out the whole buffet before filling your plate.
Work conferences are famous for their abundant but bland lunch offerings, in which attendees keep going back for more and more because nothing’s satisfying. To make better choices, instead of going straight down the line like the sucker in front of you, scan the heating trays first to decide what two or three items would go well together. Then fill your plate with the salad at the start, add some roasted chicken or grilled steak from the hot food bar, throw on some veggies, and you end up having a pretty decent lunch. And skip the conference room brownies — they’re never good.

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Unless you’re eating at Slow’s BBQ, in which case the “salad” was ribs.

#2. Stock up on produce wherever you can find it.
If you were smart and prepared, you may have packed some dried fruit or carrot sticks in your carry-on — but I wasn’t. And after spending the first 24 hours in Detroit without so much as seeing a vegetable, I knew I had to get serious. So for the rest of the trip, every time I was offered something green, I took it. Banana at breakfast? Check. Side salad at lunch? Check. Individually wrapped apple at checkout? Check. It wasn’t the super-food kale I was craving after several days of sugar rushes, but you take what you can get when you can’t shop for yourself.

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Cause that’s a normal way to serve apples.

#3. Squeeze in a workout however you can.
On long work days, it’s a constant struggle — sleep an extra 45 minutes or work up a sweat in the hotel gym? I did manage to make it to the elliptical once or twice, but the rest of the time, I had to get creative. I did squats in the hotel room while I checked my email. I took the stairs at least a handful of times. I skipped the airport shuttle and hightailed it gate to gate. Pro-tip: if you pack your oldest running shoes that were already slated for retirement, you can leave them behind in the hotel room and make more room for the swag you’re inevitably bringing home.

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Goodbye, beautiful NYC 2015 Marathon shoes.

Don’t get me wrong — for as tough as work travel is, it’s fun to get out of the office for a few days.

But it’s even more fun to come back home again.

Especially when this face is waiting for you. ❤

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Welcome home, I suppose.

How do you keep healthy-ish on the road?

Categories
Travel

Summer Lovin’

In even the best of conditions, staying healthy can be a challenge. Literally all the stars in the world could align — you’re in your own kitchen, your shelves are stocked with nutritious offerings, the weather is perfect for a run and your schedule is blissfully free — and you still somehow end up prone on the couch ordering pad thai.

If staying healthy is tough when you’re in complete control of your surroundings, it’s doubly hard when you’re not. Whether it’s because you’re sleeping in an airport or traversing Siberia on a train, chances are you’ll find yourself this travel season in a situation where adhering to your normal routine is downright impossible.

When that undoubtedly happens, the question is: what do you do about it? Throw caution to the wind and engage in a few days of consequences-be-damned eating and sedentariness? Or try to maintain some semblance of order in a situation where healthy choices are very much an uphill battle?

I’ve been known to do both, and read my lips: there’s nothing wrong with occasionally saying yes to all the local culinary options in order to experience your vacation to the fullest. (If you spend a week in Italy and don’t partake in the local wine and pasta on account of a rigid diet, you’re dead to me.) But on other trips, there may be some easy ways to keep your lifestyle in check and return home without a couple extra pounds of baggage. Here are a few ideas from me, gleaned from my time last week aboard my father’s boat.

Travel Tip 1: If possible, keep up your normal fitness routine. Sure, it’s tempting to sleep in when in vacation mode, but there’s often no reason you can’t pack your running shoes and log a few miles from the lake house (whatup Keanu?) or the beach. In fact, the roads and trails around most bodies of water are delightfully flat, making a vacation jog all the more pleasant. For me, my four-mile morning run from Liberty Landing Marina took me by the financial district, Ellis Island and Lady Liberty herself. Not a bad view for an easy weekday workout, plus getting it out of the way before breakfast allowed me to enjoy my on-board wine more that night knowing I’d earned it.

Travel Tip 2: If you can’t do your normal workout routine, get creative. Is there a pool you can swim laps in at your vacation destination? Is there a trail you can hike? How about a stand-up paddle board? More and more travelers are finding ways to stay active on their vacations, and if you can manage to work up a sweat every day in some way, you’ll thank yourself when you go to buckle the seatbelt on the flight home without an extender belt. When in doubt, you can always do squats and pushups in a hotel room, but engaging in some kind of location-specific activity is so much more fun. Just ask Ben.

Travel Tip 3: When it comes to food on vacations, I try to follow my Christmas-party rules. What do I mean by that? Allow yourself to enjoy the treats that are only available because it’s Christmas (pecan pie, roast beef, etc.) and avoid the junky items that are available any day of the year (Lays potato chips, peanut butter cups, etc.) The same general concept can keep your eating in (relative) check on vacation: say yes to the lobster rolls in Maine and the paella in Spain, but say no to the candy bars and pretzels you could have any old day. It’s not foolproof, and you may still end up with a belly ache if you eat in the quantities I do, but it will help you from bursting.

Travel Trip 4: Even if there’s no way to eat well or exercise on your vacation, you can still exit the trip healthier than you went in. Instead of working on your diet or muscle mass, prioritize something else important, like your water intake or your sleep. Bank enough hours under a cabana and you’ll return to your normal life refreshed enough to throw yourself into your workouts again. My mom and I can verify this claim.

How do you keep yourself in check while enjoying a vacation?

Categories
Running

Ever So Much More Than Twenty

At the risk of sounding like a Buzzfeed listicle, the signs that I’m no longer in my early- or even mid-20s are frightfully abundant.

  • I get excited when people cancel plans so I can be in bed by 9:30 p.m.
  • Those rare nights I do stay out late drinking (also known as weddings), I stick to white wine and my hangovers still last two days.
  • I spend exponentially more on work and workout clothes than going out clothes.
  • I’m up at 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings, whether there’s a long run on my calendar or not, because my body and the sun have apparently made some kind of cruel friends-for-life pact.
  • I voluntarily add things like flax seed to my morning smoothies.
  • I drink morning smoothies.
    (And they're green.)
    (And they’re green.)

    One more sign my body isn’t as young and hardy as it used to be? For three years and counting, it wasn’t until my 18-mile long run that my immune system finally gave up and saddled me with my first fall cold of the marathon season. (Proof in 2012 and proof in 2013. Not sure if I wrote about it in 2014, but I know it to be true.)

    This year, it only took 17 miles. That’s it, folks. The end is nigh.

    While moderate running and exercise are great defenses against cold and flu season, as soon as I start logging [very] long runs in the final weeks of pre-taper training, my body simply gives up the will to live. An hour of running is fine, but run for three straight hours as the marathon approaches and like clockwork my throat goes raw, my sinuses fill and boyfriend finds any excuse he can to move to the downstairs couch. In other words, I catch a nasty mid-September cold.

    And it’s not just me. According to this Runner’s World article, “long, slow runs (90 minutes or more) use slow-twitch muscle fibers, which feed on simple sugars, the same fuel as the immune system,” said Michael Ross, M.D., medical director of The Performance Lab in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. “It sets up a resource battle between the exercising muscles and the immune system, with the immune system losing out,” he told the magazine.

    While that’s always been the case — long runs inhibit your ability to ward off colds — it only used to happen for me at 18 miles, not 17. To me, that shortened timeline is a sign that my body is just a little less willing to cooperate this time around than in past marathon training cycles. It’s a sign I’m getting older and less resilient.  It’s a sign that my last marathon of my 20s should maybe be my last marathon of my life.

    Or maybe it’s just a sign I took an international fight last week with a lot of coughing passengers. That’s the price you pay to spend a week lounging beachside here:

    Photo credit: Ben
    Photo cred: Ben

    Either way, it’s a soup and tea and dialed back training week for me as I wait for this rhinovirus to work its way out of my blood stream. Guess that means I’ll be doing the one thing 29-year-olds hate most: Going to bed at 9 p.m. tonight as I work toward recovery. Darn.

    How is your immune system holding up as your fall race comes into focus?

Categories
Travel

Greece Is the Word, Is the Word That You Heard

Ask any marathon training coach and she’ll tell you the same thing: running is just one part of the preparation equation. Diet, cross training and rest also play a crucial role in the 20 weeks leading up to the big race, and in true Captain Planet style, only by their powers combined is a marathoner made ready.

At least, that’s what I’m telling myself as justification for going an entire six days last week without so much as unpacking my running shoes, even though the NYC marathon is just eight weeks away.

Call me undisciplined, uncommitted, or unfocused if you want, but I’m going to choose another word to describe myself during my restful and relaxing past week along the Aegean Sea: tan.

photo 1 (81)
(Also in need of a better arm workout.)

My trip to Greece may not have been the most training-focused vacation I’ve ever mustered, seeing as I only logged a single beachside run during my entire week in Nea Moudania, but to be fair, I pretty much nailed the other parts of marathon training: diet, cross training and rest.

  • Diet: I started each day with a protein-rich European breakfast of full-fat Greek yogurt, watermelon and honey (fine, and Nutella by the jarful), which kept me satiated until a late, late afternoon lunch. At around 4 p.m. each day, we’d dry ourselves off and gather at a waterside table for course after course of the freshest, cleanest food you can imagine: tomato and feta salads, grilled octopus, steamed mussels, and enough tzatziki to feed a small army. We’d then eat and eat for hours on end, but with almost none of the food processed or fried, we never left the table feeling too full to function. Given Greece’s seafood-, good fat- and veggie-rich diet, it’s no wonder they won all the ancient Olympic Games.
"Keep the head on and, uh, find out if it had a nickname." - Jim Gaffigan
“Keep the head on and, uh, find out if it had a nickname.” – Jim Gaffigan
  • Cross training: This one is a bit more of a stretch, considering 45 percent of each day was spent prone in a beach chair, but I did manage to work a few muscles besides my chewing ones. For example, one day I sidestroked my way to this very far away rock, then elementary backstroked my way home. Did I work up a sweat? Maybe, maybe not. But I certainly stretched out some muscles that had laid dormant as I’ve been busy logging 40 miles a week.
That rock is very far away.
Thank god I didn’t see any yellow and purple Greek jellyfish until the following day or I might still be living on that rock.
  • Rest: Sleep til 10, nap on the beach, sleep on a floating raft in the crystal clear water, sit for a 3-hour meal overlooking the sea and then polish the night off with a few glasses of delicious Greek wine? Yeah, I got the rest part of it down to a science.
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You’d be amazed at how many courses they can fit on a table this size.

So what if I spent a week in Greece and only have one 8-mile run to show for it? I am now well fed, well rested and, well, ready to dive back into my training full force. As proof, I logged a quick 3 miles during a layover in Vienna, and yesterday, I put my jetlag to good use and ran 8 humid Central Park miles before work. Today’s jetlag, which had me up at 4 a.m., has resulted in this blog post and soon, 5 more sweaty miles.

I may still be on Greece time, but for all intents and purposes, I’m back, folks. Let the marathon countdown begin.

Categories
Travel

Hurdles

A good, creative runner can always find an excuse not to train – this weather is too hot, this weather is too cold, my friend Goldilocks has been eaten by bears – but the excuses I’ve encountered these last few weeks have started to get ridiculous.

First I couldn’t run because of recurring knee pain that I self-diagnosed as runner’s knee because I have an MD in googling symptoms. When that pain subsided, I planned to make up a missed long-run before work – but slept through it because my 5:00 a.m. iphone alarm was set to silent (Tim Cook: Why is that even an option!?) So I planned to do it the next morning instead – and woke up with a bout of apparent pink eye, making contact-use impossible. Add on top of that two lovely weddings in as many days this weekend that have left me in a mild state of hangover for 36 hours straight, and it’s starting to feel a little like the big running coach in the sky secretly wants me to toe the starting line in Staten Island two months from tomorrow woefully unprepared.

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But champagne is good for your fast-twitch fibers, right?

Luckily, this isn’t my first rodeo, so I know what I’m supposed to do: Even though my training has been derailed on and off for several weeks, I should in the words of the infallible Ms. Swift shake it off and throw myself right back into my workout schedule as of today. A week of missed long runs and hill repeats isn’t ideal, but a few sessions off won’t kill me, as long as I lace up today and train this week in earnest. The course of action I should take: I should put the past behind me. I should recommit myself to my marathon goal. I should just get out there and run.

That’s what I should do – but I’m not going to. Why, you ask? Because I also should be boarding a flight to Greece in 9 hours for a week of rest, relaxation and running.

Good bye, marathon training recovery. Hello, spanakopita.

Of course, I’m not going to arrive in the birthplace of the marathon without my running shoes in hand, and I’m hoping to stick to my training schedule as close to possible while summering in the Hellenic Republic. But with so many seaside beaches and bottles of wine already calling my name, something tells me this isn’t going to be the most industrious week of this marathon training cycle. Ah well. Pheidippides probably would have wanted it that way.

How do you keep your marathon training on track while simultaneously stuffing your face with feta and grape leaves? All advice appreciated.

Categories
Training

A Blog By Any Other Name

My early summer trip to North Carolina was memorable for a whole bunch of reasons: seven friends, free flowing wine, and a photo shoot to capture the perfect shot ahead of L, C and my triple birthday party this November. You’ll never guess how old we’re turning.

You'll also never guess how many takes it took to get this right.
You’ll also never guess how many takes it took to get this right.
But of all the lovely moments that I’ll remember about my Memorial Day trip, one in particular has stuck with me: a beach-side conversation with one friend about the changes we could make in our lives to be really, truly happy.

Now don’t get me wrong: we’re both happy. We’re both with wonderful men in exciting cities with loving families, successful careers, and — after that sun-soaked conversation — killer tans. But as good as things are, there are always steps we can take to get even closer to our dream life, and as she and I sat on the beach, we challenged each other:

What steps could you take right this instant to get closer to your definition of happy?

It was an interesting exercise, since most of my goals aren’t the kinds of things I can put into motion at the drop of a hat. Get a dog? Not unless my hours change. Summer in Maine? Not unless I inherit a large sum of money. Capture the perfect goldendoodle selfie? Not until this floozy niece of mine stops smooching everyone in sight.

Coming in for the kill.
Coming in for the kill.
As we sat there discussing our goals, one stood out that felt more within my reach: find a way to take my blog a little bit more seriously.

Now I don’t mean more seriously like fewer dog photos or Star Wars jokes.

"Oh no! Those WERE the droids we were looking for!"
“Oh no! Those WERE the droids we were looking for!”
I mean taking my blog more seriously by trying to actually get it out there. Other bloggers I know are active on twitter, go to blogger conferences, attend sponsored events, review new workout products and pitch stories to national fitness magazines to grow their exposure. What do I do? I post to wordpress and facebook, and then go MIA for two weeks at a time because marathon training and, you know, writing for a paid living, push blogging to the back burner.

To be honest, I don’t know how much more time I could realistically carve out for this extracurricular passion of mine at this point in my life. But there is one thing I can do right this second to get closer to that end goal: I can finally buy http://www.rileduprunner.com.

So I did. For $26 a year — or about the cost of a late-night cab ride from the East Village to my apartment — I have bought a grown-up domain name to replace the much longer auto-generated wordpress one that I’ve used since I started this blog in 2012.

Was buying a domain name a giant leap forward toward my happiness-project goals? No, not really. But the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Also, with a small town girl living in a lonely world. #journeyjokes

What change could you make to your life today to get your closer to your goals?

Categories
Training

Strength in Numbers

Tomorrow I’m going to arrive for my second monthly biometric weigh-in, and the results are not going to be pretty.

I realize that statement opens the door to all kinds of follow-up questions. What’s a biometric weigh-in? It’s a chance for me to stand on a body-fat scale and learn if I’ve built any muscle over the past four weeks. Why do it? Because after reading Matt Fitzgerald’s book Racing Weight, I realized I wasn’t going to get any faster until I upped my muscle content. Who performs it? The free nutrition coach at my office, which, let’s be honest, is a cool perk. Who’s my favorite ninja turtle? I’m embarrassed you had to ask.

For years, I didn’t give a darn about fancy things like BMI and muscle mass and Donatello, assuming that because I ran upwards of 40 miles a week in training for an annual marathon that I surely boasted a healthy body composition. But after I read Racing Weight, I decided to make sure. I made an appointment with my local nutritionist, stood on her shiny scale, and learned the disheartening truth: I have the muscle composition of a 47 year old woman.

Also, the celebrity crushes of a 47 year old woman. Thank you, Joe Biden.

I know what you’re thinking: doesn’t bulky muscle weigh a runner down? It could if you look like the former California Governor, but for most runners, a little lean muscle goes a long way toward injury prevention and higher metabolism and proper alignment and street cred with a West Side Story snap gang.

With that knowledge, I approached the circuit of strength exercises my nutritionist gave me with the ultimate vigor. I did squats. I did lunges. I did alternating superman, or as I preferred to call it, the Christopher Reeve/Dean Cain. And I felt sore and tired and awesome, and vowed to keep it up three days a week between now and the marathon.

I then I went on vacation. And oh man, when I go on vacation, I do it right.

I went to North Carolina and drank all the wine on the Eastern Seaboard.
wine

And chased it with seafood doused in butter by the pound.
shrimp

Then I went to a wedding where the main course was pig.
meat

And there ate several slices of a real, authentic “cheese cake.” They were just blocks of cheese in a pile. I fell in love.
cheese

With that kind of month in my recent history, I can’t imagine there’s anyway I could step on that scale leaner and stronger tomorrow than I was a month ago. There’s no way around it: the numbers are not going to be pretty.

Fortunately, my last four weeks were pretty pretty themselves.

food

Do you work strength training into your running routine? How about cheese cakes?

Categories
Travel Uncategorized

My Maine Squeeze

Last week as the temperatures hovered around a blustery 20 degrees, my boyfriend and I decided to do what so many other New Yorkers have done before us: we fled the city for kinder climates.

Just kidding. We drove due north.

Why, you ask? Because we’re masochists, no doubt, but also because I wanted him to finally see for himself what I’ve been saying all these years: Maine really is the way life should be.

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Simpson’s Point: where circulation in your toes goes to die.

You might be asking yourself what the Pine Tree State has to offer two New Yorkers during what I can only imagine was the coldest week in the history of the world. What’s that, you say? It gets even colder up there? My God.

I’ll tell you what Vacationland gave us: three of the best meals I’ve ever had in my entire life. Also, some wool socks form Reny’s.

Now I’m hesitant to tell you what these so-amazing-I-could-die bites were because I’m pretty much just recommending everything that pops up in Google search for “best Portland Maine restaurants nom nom nom.” But I’d be doing you a great disservice if I didn’t suggest you drop everything and immediately book a flight to the deep south of the far north to experience culinary bliss yourselves, so here goes. The best things I ate in Portland were:

  • The lobster roll at Eventide Oyster Co. on Middle Street. There was nothing fancy about this lobster roll, and that’s what made it so darn good. Brown butter, melt-in-your-mouth roll and, you guessed it, lobster. Paired with a spoonful of lobster stew and a half dozen Casco Bay oysters, and I was one content once-and-future-Mainer.
  • The Brussels sprouts at The Front Room in Munjoy Hill. We’re talking a dinner plate layered with roasted sprouts, candied almonds, grain mustard vinaigrette, whipped goat cheese and the true meaning of happiness.
  • The Belgian fries and truffle ketchup from Duck Fat on Middle Street. In the words of my boyfriend, “If I were on death row, this would be my last meal.” I’ll be honest: I am actively considering premeditated murder in hopes I’ll get to eat this side-dish again soon. Maybe that was Adnan’s motive.

Our brief but filling trip also took us to the Allagash Brewery, the L.L. Bean flagship store, a local hockey game, and many walks through the Old Port, most of which culminated in a croissant from Standard Baking Co. or an embarrassingly large number of taste tests at Gelato Fiasco. So while the faint of heart/scarf might want to opt for spring before making their trek up North, be sure to put Portland on your travel wishlist in 2015. You won’t regret it, even if your belt notches do.

 

Truck you, loading dock, for ruining this shot.
Truck you, loading dock, for ruining this perfect shot… for Ben, who really took this photo.

 Where will you 2015 travels take you?