The Cheap (ish) Eats of San Francisco

It was a little bit of an awakening when I paid over $5 for a simple ice coffee (about $3.50 in Boston), that things might be a little more expensive in this town.

Luckily for me the rest of my eats were a shock in the other direction!

The Bird – 115 New Montgomery St San Francisco, CA 94105

I found this place on Yelp and walked by it a few times as the picture of the fox on the front confused the heck out of me.  Luckily the line convinced me that there was something inside! Spicy Chicken Sandwich for about $8! Definitely grab the homemade siracha and skip the fries, not worth it.

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Chong Qing Xiao Mian – 915 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94133

The sunset has set and I was craving a spicy broth so this Szechuan joint in Chinatown filled the void. I don’t what exactly it’s called but it was spicy with egg noodles and tender beef <3.

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Another day, another meal or meals to eat, I decided to focus on the mission the next day with it’s funky alleys and shops and endless options of tacos. When I asked which place was everyone’s favorite, Vallarta & Farolito came up!

Taqueria Vallarta – 3033 24th St San Francisco, CA 94110

No time to chat as it’s all business in this joint to keep the fast line moving. Tacos were about $3 each and I pointed my way through to a tender beef and Lengua, added lime to my tasting and perfection

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El Farolito –  2950 24th St San Francisco, CA 94110

Did I need more tacos? Def no, but you know I had to compare for science. So even when it was cash only and I had to find an atm near by, science most continue! Got Lengua here as well as a carnitas taco. Definitely a lot more filling for the extra $1 per taco.

soo Farolito or Vallarta? Both but I would say Lengua from Farolito and the beef one from Vallarta!

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Barcote Ethiopian Restaurant – 6430 Telegraph Ave Oakland, CA 94609

Okay so I cheated by going across the river but this has been one of my most favorite Ethiopian places and definitely enough food here for 5 adults! I won’t even attempt to name is dish, it was just all goodness!

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Cup Cafe – 6 Monterey Blvd San Francisco, CA 94131

Honorable mention for the most hospitable coffee place in town. Drop by if you’re near the Glen Park BART

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Eiji – 317 Sanchez St San Francisco, CA 94114

A cozy Japanese bistro that makes it’s own tofu! Reasonably priced maki rolls and you can call to make a reservation

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A second honorable mention to a Feastly breakfast with homemade bagels after my race but I was too famished to think to photograph 🙂

 

Kaiser Permanente’s San Francisco Half Marathon

I haven’t “raced” in about 2 years. Do I miss it? I am torn for the nostalgia of new PRs (and glory of small town age group winnings) but not the smells of humanity and beeping of Garmans or worse, that smell of Gatorade. None the less, nothing pushes you out of your comfort than the adrenaline rush of a horn on a race. And when it comes down to it, despite the struggles of the race or the early wake ups, I am always glowing in happiness and deliria afterwards.

While I planned to visit a friend out in San Francisco to escape from the Poler Arctic that is now Boston every winter (thanks climate change), I got the idea that maybe I should sign up for a race.

The old me would never fall short of a marathon when doing a vacation race, but this is the new, slower, fasciitis modified, climbing out of a rut to start running again me. She’s content with a 2 mile jog so a half marathon might as well had been 100000 miler. I haven’t seen double digits in a while but before I knew it, I handed my good money to some website that said it was secure and signed up for the 35th Annual Kaiser Permanente’s Half Marathon.

The good news, the course had a net decline in elevation and it was a on course I was familiar after running Bay to Breakers (coincidentally enough this was the last race I ran two years ago in San Fransisco!).

So I was ready to go! Training for the 6 weeks I had went great! I hit two double digit runs before race day.  I was ready! Sure I ate and walked tons the few days before (post to come) but I am a pro at burning out my legs walking the 7 bumps of SF as my taper.

Morning of the race, I was still on east coast time and woke up about half an hour early before my alarm. Ate some bread and cashew butter and ubered my way to the Golden Gate Park, the start of the race!

The 5k and half marathon both start at the lovely (but huge) Gold Gate Park. I knew the area, but the issue with the park is that it’s a hill and has these lane paths that can wind you out to the buffalos instead of the race start. After a little turning around and following/stalking behind people that looked like they might be running a race, the starting line was found in time.

The race had a little under 5,000 runners, but It never felt cramped or obnoxious and I barely smelled at menthol gels at the start. I was hoping for a little delayed started so I can procrastinate and figure out my music (my spotify didn’t download the albums I wanted to!!!! bad juju right there) but within 30 seconds, the horn went off and with the only music on my phone being an Eve 6 album, I worked with that I had.

The first 7 miles loop around the park in a few little rolling bumps (not really hills). Within about 30 second, i definitely regretted that long sleeve I had on, and I probably could have taken it off right away, but there’s something stubborn in me that tries to test out how long I can run while feeling hot and miserable. Just like that part of me that wants to see how many water stations can I pass before my lips chap from dryness and thirst.

I have a Garmin but I didn’t bring it, nor used in in years besides for when I bike outside (literally once a year). So I had no clue my pace and just went with my feeling of feeling too fab at the first miles of the race. The first mile marker I saw was around 4 and I guessed I was running about sub 8 minutes and gave myself an invisible dusting of the shoulder (most of my miles are in the 8:30-9 min range).

I tried to take a selfie, but the salt of my sweat was burning my eyes and my running selfie game is also not what it used to be. Plus there’s all these kids running with selfie sticks and shit. I can’t compete, esp not when I don’t have glasses or contacts on. We ran past some buffalos in the park too, but I didn’t even attempt to photo after failing at the water fountain.

After mile 7ish, the second half of the course is and out and back on ocean drive. Now, while I love me a good ocean view on a run, there’s some about a long, flat view of a path that makes it seem sooo infinite and never ending.

Somewhere between mile 7-9, I was starting to feel the burn. If you told me by mile 10, that it was the end of the line, there probably would be no complaints from this sweaty beast. I would have given you one big, sweat hug.

The first 3 miles of the ocean drive run also had a slight incline that made the endless open room in front of me seem even more daunting, but I definitely enjoyed the swing of it on the final 3 miles. Did I reward myself with a walking stretch at each mile marker I made to without vomit? Yes I did. Did the mile markers turn into stretches at every .25 miles after mile 12? I will never tell.

And then there’s the final .1 mile that always seems longer than .1 of a mile as you tell yourself what blast you had suffering for the past two hours.

And when all else fails, there’s always the join of collecting this gold medal (hey, we can’t all win the Olympics) that has a moving whale!

And I am glad to say that my skill of running positive splits has not diminished

Bib Number 4097
HALF MARATHON 1239 of 4972
Gender Place 328 of 2404
F 30-34 72 of 360
Gender F
Age 31 (shit I am getting old)
Start Time 08:11:06
4.7 Mile 00:36:47 07:49 min/mi 
9.8 mile 01:20:48 08:14 min/mi
Elapsed 01:52:01
Pace 08:33 min/mile

And now I go look for more races.

Why I stopped blogging…

Every once in a while I’ll connect with an old friend or maybe just a follower asking me if I still “blog.” I’ll fumble around with excuses of how occasionally but really, not really. The truth is this blog is dead. I’d like to keep it open just for the occasional travel post or rant because 140 characters is just not enough space for my love of avocados. I could blame my lack of writing on time. Sure my career took a bit of a turn where I feel more fulfilled with my current job and less of a cry to fill a void through blogging. Partly, but the truth is,

Blogging felt repetitive

Top three blogging posts by lifestyle running bloggers

  1. What I ate – Truth is I’m boring as fuck and eat the same shit every time. Butter of various nut form, avocados, baby spinach and all the organic chicken breasts my little heart can afford. Occasionally I do something really impressive (by my personal I did more than slicing standards) and for that my cell phone apps can share my heart out. Why go through the trouble of doing a post when I can share the same thing on snapchat or instagram.
  2. What I worked out today – It probably consists of one of three things, running, Flywheel, or whining and wining. And how did I feel? Exhausted and disappointed or happy and energetic, usually a 50/50 coin toss depending on if the wine was good or my one week motivational inspiration to do some strength workouts for the year.
  3. Top 5 ways to get faster, run more, run in the rain, run in the snow, run in the heat, run on your own – Sure I’m constantly learning new things, but the truth is I could probably link you back to the post I wrote in 2010, than 2011, 2012 and maybe even 2013.

Blogging just doesn’t really pay (for me)

Aside from feeling my creativity die inside another avocado toast post (seriously I really do love avocados) or about my 30th injury for the year (once you break, will you ever be the same?), there just seems to be less and less recognition monetary or just active participation. I give incredible credit to the bloggers that continue doing this year to year but the truth is I feed of recognition and monetary compensation (I’m no Charity). And truth be it, I’m a pretty terrible writer who now can barely run fast to even stand out that way.

  1. Sponsored Posts – Please buy this selfie stick, it’s unlike any other you tried before. I promise! This protein powder? Totally the best ever, it will give you wings and burn all your cellulite. You could only make this claim or so many times before your soul feels like it’s nothing but a nut butter tipped over the counter unrefrigerated.
  2. The ever begging, please promote this new granola bar email from a PR firm. So let me get this straight. You’re a PR firm, that’s probably at some point getting a pay check from the best new amazing granola bar in the world. Now you want me to spend time constructing a semi interesting post, with fully edited amazing photos for free all for the price of this amazing bar I could have purchased at best case for $2.99 at Wholefoods (or worse case $0.25 at Shaws)?
  3. The ever begging, I will stalk you down until you find ways to block me, please let me write this completely unbiased sponsored post on your blog from India/Nigeria/Macedonian teenagers – These emails will be broken into one of two types. 1. The hire my amazing hax0rz SEO skills or 2. Please post this exact amazing guest article filled with follow links (probably prepared by the same people who are selling you their haxors SEO skills)

The fake it until you make mentality 

Maybe it’s because I grew up taking Holden Caulfield a little too close to heart, but I am getting really tired of fake followers, fake ads, fake bots, fake viral videos (is it really viral if a PR firm worked on it?) and everything in between. The truth is with followers, likes, clicks, joins and all of that being so cheap (hey everyone needs a job), finding a space with any integrity is harder with each day. I mean shit, we just elected the next president of the U.S. based on fake news and our hatred of established women. And yes, I used to fall into this comparison trap of wanting to fit in and have likes, but I’m getting older and more tired (or just more lazy) and no longer want to follow people in hopes of them following me back by accident. Does this make me a horrible disillusioned quarter life crisis (what’s a word for 1/3rd life?) millennial? Probably.

I still want to write

Despite my soap box, I still want to write and have journals filled of topics nobody will see and a drive full of photos I’ll one day edit. In reality, I need to get past the I will do this later and just post in the moment. Maybe my photos are not the best and most Instagram worthy and maybe a google search will give you better bang for your 2 seconds of bucks. Maybe my race recap is about as a repetitive as the 45,000 other runners or 500 other runners depending on the event, but it’s still my little space of the internet and history. Besides, with all the typing I do in my life, I can’t read my own handwriting anymore, and if it’s not posted online, did it really happen?

Adventures in Italy – Rome Day 1

Hello, can you hear me? I’ve been so terrible with blogging. Don’t get me wrong, I am still running, and I still love oversharing, but just haven’t been able to gather my thoughts into what I felt was worth a post. None the less, I decided, too bad, and share anyways.

Norwegian Airlines had a killer deal $480 RT from Boston to London and while I LOVE London, lived there for a study abroad, and visited countless times, I decided it was a great gateway to Europe. Plus, after our trip to Seattle, I’ve been drooling over flying on a new Boeing Dreamliner jet. Yes, it was awesome no frillz fun.

Upon a quick in and out of London, we took our EasyJet flight to Rome and to our new home for the next few days.

Rome is the capital of Italy and although it’s not a classic high rise city, it is sprawled out with amazing culture and history! Also, I’m kinda of a ruins addict and these have long last been on my to see list.

After passing out, we got up bright and early, because here’s one tip about visiting Italy that I didn’t know. Book shit in advance, like weeks in advance, especially if you’re traveling May- September. I’ve always traveled in October/November which has soo many perks I appreciate a ton more now (aside from less sunlight boo).

Anyways, the bright and early wake up was because I wanted to go check out Borghese Gallery but completely slacked on booking an advance ticket. They were sold out, but I had this idea that maybe they have will call and I can beg my way in. Nope… these people run a tight shop, no reservations, no entry, so GTFO. Don’t worry though, you’re always welcome in the gift shop. The FOMO in me panicked, but then I realized, I’m spending 8 days in Italy with a trip to Florence included. Plenty of time for me to see naked dudes and duddettes and all the Venuses and Madonnas.

Instead we walked around  the park that surrounds the gallery. I don’t recall what to call it and google map seems to not want to give it a name, but it was a cute what I would call typical city park. You got your runners, your Rollerbladers and your couples making out.

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My brother, working on his OKCupid photos

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Best kinda art, is the free kind if you are me. No need for reservations.

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If you walk south-west of through the park, you slowly bump into Italy’s number one unwanted attraction. Hawkers selling selfie sticks. I guess I haven’t traveled internationally in a while, but it’s all the rage these days. Besides the annoying hawkers, you have a killer view of Piazza del Popolo! It was early as I mentioned so the plaza was scarce of the natural tourist animal that tends to frolic here.

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These sculptures were pretty cool at the end of Via Del Corso, the main luxe shopping stroll of Rome.

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We decided to by pass the Dolce and Gabanna for the side street strolls instead. It was around noon now and the tourist animals have come in packs known as tour groups.

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The Spanish steps were under constructions so no glorious photos there. Yes Rome is full of history. You know what else it’s full off, scaffolding! But actually we were extremely lucky, because as I heard, there was a bit less than in the past this May.

Yes, another FOMO moment, but the Trevi Fountain made up a bit for it. It is beautiful and aside from an tourist lady climbing over a barrier in between me and my brother taking a photo, it was mesmerizing to watch.

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We continued the walks. Honestly, every streets ends in a piazza, so just get lost.

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As you walk around, you might notice these closed off city blocks. This one in particularly is Largo di Torre Argentina. 400-300 BC. My favorite part? It’s also a cat sanctuary! A certain emperor who cried et tu brute was murdered here. #trustnobitches

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Rome is hot…. shade can sometimes be a scarce unlike water, plenty of water with Rome’s cool fountains. So prepare to squint a lot, or bring a hat!

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My brother, Tony’s mom, Tony’s sister, ME, Tony while Tony’s dad takes the photos.

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With all the heat and son, Rome’s churches truly end up being a blessing. Plus they’re kinda cool to look at. But it’s a sweet refuge for some cooled shade.

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After recollecting our energy, it was time for our tourist attraction of the day. The Rome Forum, Ancient Rome’s White House and Washington D.C. Ruins.

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You ticket to the Colosseum, also gives you access to the Forum and Palestine hill, and while you get a pretty good view from above for FREE, if you’re already paying for one, wandering through this mess is still worth an hour of your time. Like everything else, get your ticket in advance, or be ready to queue for a while in the bright Roman sun.

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If I had to describe Italy in one word, I would say confusing. If there’s one industry they want to strongly sustain, it must be the large organized tour groups because there is absolutely no signs in Italian, English or Latin in any attraction we’ve gone. I used the free Steve Rick’s guide and that’s me trying to figure out which stack of old columns he’s talking up.

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If you have a specific thirst to know everything you’re looking at, I say invest into a great guidebook because even as I was overhearing some local guides, it kinda sounded to me like each one made up their own story.

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As for me, my main interest was to stump around and pretend I’m in the land before Christianity.

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No matter what ruins you go, which country you are in, the heads are always missing. Where do they go? Are they in the same alternate reality that one of my socks always leaves to when I do laundry?

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Rome is known for its seven hills, and Palentine Hill as the hills queen of the other 6. There’s something empowering about looking down onto a city, plus the view of the Colosseum isn’t too shabby. I don’t know if not many tourists make it up the hill, or if it was because we went around later afternoon, but it was a refuge from the usual tour group insanity that is Rome. No one even offered us to sell us a selfie stick here.

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I guess models we are not

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and my brother eventually found his new best friend.

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For the evening, we went for a stroll on the other side of the river over to Trastevere, which is pretty much the expat hipster mecca of Rome. A former working class neighborhood with the typical gentrification struggle. It’s relatively peaceful during the day, but similar to us, everyone got the memo that this is the hood to stay for dinner, and it was packed with Tourists.

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With some TripAdvisor guidance, we found Grazia & Graziella. Judging from the appearance of all five of the waiters,  I’d guess that one of the hiring requirements is a properly kept beard. There’s usually a long wait, but we went fairly early (7pm is early to Italians looking for dinner) and only waited about 20 minutes. The host graciously kept refilling our glass with welcome Prosecco.

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I promise, this was a lot tastier than it looks. Mmmmm… rocket with smoked salmon!

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Before we knew it, we were stuffed, and ready for some ZZZzzzz.

Avocado Dreaming – #Blendmoreveggies Boston Brunch Tricks

I don’t know how, but one day I woke and toast, warmed up bread, became a trendy thing. Yup, things you ate as a little kid in your pjs because the toaster was the only thing your mother trusted you to use in the kitchen (okay, maybe that’s just me). You know what I never did have as a little kid, avocado! I somehow spent 20 years of my life in vain without this vegetable (or is a fruit?) in my life! Luckily that gets me to my first trick of enjoying avocados!

AVOCADO Toast!

And yes, writing in CAPS always makes it that much tastier. Seriously, don’t shake your head at me in hipster scum disdain. Avocado toast is pretty amazing and one spot that excels at it in Boston is Tres Gatos in JP! Check it out. And no, I don’t just love the place because it has the word cats in it. (Although that does help just like my cat leggings).

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AVOCADO Smoothie

Yup, instead of peanut butter, add an avocado for a creamy filling texture. Avocados are an excellent source of fiber and protein and pack an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants! Smoothie King in Back Bay (and other places near you!) just released a Veggie Avocado Pineapple Smoothie (tip, you do have to tell them to not add sugar if you want yours veggies only, but the pineapple gives the perfect amount of sweetness!). FullSizeRender (9)

Check out their site for more ways to #blendsyourveggies and #drinkyourveggies or sign up for a $2.99 smoothie coupon!

Grilled AVOCADO

Because honestly, nothing tastes better than when it’s grilled. That it reminds me of summer and I miss summer.

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This is not my picture because I kinda made mine disappear in 5 seconds before it takes my phone to turn on, but Toro  in South End at one point had this as a brunch option! Hopefully, they’ll bring it back soon!

 

Do you have any favorite, non traditional ways to enjoy avocado? Any recommendations?

Twas the night before 2016 Boston Marathon

And I feel a sense of familiarity. Butterflies going through my tummy and up to my throat, the excitement of running in an event the whole city partakes in. The mixed feelings of Goal A, B & C all sitting on my mind.

And gratitude that despite all my whining, I am still running and for the fifth time in a row I get to compete in one of the most sought after marathons and that despite all that has occurred, I still feel the safety of putting on my running shoes and pounding my way through the road.

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If you want to follow me and aren’t sick of me telling you how already, here’s the info.
Text RUNNER to 234567 using your US mobile phone. You will then receive a text response with instructions on how to submit a runner’s bib number. You will receive up to 8 texts per bib number. Message & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel.

My bib is 17723

My outfit is ready and I am somewhere in between. The weather started at 70 expected, down to expected 61 this morning and is now saying high of 57. At this stage, it sounds like perfect weather to me. I’m just hoping for no wind.

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After much debate on shoes, I have decided these more light weight Asics feel better on my heel/foot than anything else with more cushion. The pile to the left is my throw away layers. There’s a slight concern about being cold, but I rather not stress out about throwing away something I love.

My goals:

Goal A- 3:30 – BQ city

Goal B 3:45 – Because I needed something in the middle

Goal C- 3:59 – Because a sub 4 is always a nice

My training this year is so much different than it has in the past. On one hand, I got some solid 20 miles this cycle due to the moderate weather we had this winter. On the other hand, my weekly mileage was at a relative low, my high weeks were around 55 and on average I ran 45-50 miles per week (compared to 60-70 in prior years). I took 6 months off from running so this training cycle was more about building base than speed. I would have loved another month of training to add speed to the mix.

And on the final note, I’m running naked… well wrist naked for a mix of seasons one that starts with I have no idea where my Garmin is after I left for Argentina and ends with that it’s probably better that at this stage I run by feel and not time pressure. I am not ready to hit the times of my prior fitness. The beeps on the watch stress me to run by old goals and not by feel. Injury and crashing and burning can only result from that.

So naked wrist and the motivation to get the race finished shall be my driving pace.

And of course all the smiling faces on the course 😉