Half IronMan Weekend, Portsmouth, NH; South Berwick, Maine; and What I packed

Besides the 70.3 triathlon, I had a great weekend! Just kidding, I had a great weekend even with the race. I’m still in the glow of the moment of having completed this 70.3 miles of sweat and tears. I’ll get to the race in another post. The whole race still seems a bit surreal.

On Friday, we took it easy for dinner and some drinks at Pier 6 in Charlestown that gives you a lovely view of Boston from Copley to Seaport to Financial district. Probably my favorite spot to view the skyline. The food was okay, but it was 90 degrees that night and being on the waterfront has never felt more pleasant since I am easily cold.

photo 1 (16)

On Saturday I woke up bright and early to get a haircut just to learn, the salon near my house opens an hour later than I thought.

After chopping off a few inches of hair, because every ounce counts, I went to pack. Yup last second packer for the win.

What did I pack for my half Ironman?

In a summary, way too freaking much.

The main outfit

photo 3 (11)

I’m such a triathlon pro, that I didn’t even own a pair of tri shorts, luckily, I borrowed from a friend.

Swimming

2 pairs of goggles – main one and a back up pair

Swimming Cap – just in case

Ear drops

Wetsuit borrowed from a friend

Wetsuit spray

Biking

My bike

Helmet

Sunglasses

Patch kit/tubes/air

Air pump

Bike shoes

socks

2 water bottles

Camelpak

Running

Socks

Running shoes – Mizunos waveriders and Skechers flats because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to run in racing flats after biking

Fuel

Nuun

3 Cliff Bars

3 packs of shot blocks

photo 2 (15)

Misc.

Garmin

Two Towels

Back up outfit

Swimming suit

photo 4 (7)

Jack was there to supervise the whole process!

Anyways after loading up and packing up more crap for half a day than I took with me for 3 weeks in South East Asia, I was ready to go. Had I done a destination triathlon, I would need 2 suitcases of baggage. This is not an efficient sport.

On the drive up we stopped by Portsmouth, NH that I’ve been wanting to stop by.

photo 5 (8)

 

I didn’t know much about it, but the highway signs always made me want to stop. The town looked cute with lots of little restaurants and historical buildings.

Tony grabbed a meatball sub from a deli to eat as fast as possible and jetted over to the Portsmouth Brewery at 3pm. They give free brewery tours that comes with a card to get 6 samples!

photo 1

For a brewpub that only does direct sales, they had a nice selection.

photo 2 (16)

Between Tony and I we had 12 flights. Since I’ve been so stressed about packing, I realized that I haven’t eaten yet. So of course, I ordered the healthiest item I could think of.

photo 3 (12)

Now that I had some nice liquid courage and my mind wasn’t thinking about all the ways I can drown, I decided it would be a good time to roll up and get my numbers for Sunday’s race. When I got to the race site, I freaked out. Here’s the thing, runners come in all size and shapes, that chubby kid next you, might surprise you and pull a 3:15 marathon. However, everyone around me, all these triathletes, were super fit looking with pure lean muscle. I instantly started regretting my nutritional lunch of nachos and beer.

Unfortunately, the pond wasn’t set up yet so I couldn’t judge what the distance would look like. I guess its good because I rather just not know until I had to swim it. My race packet came with a bunch of numbers that I had to stick to everything. I’m actually surprised it didn’t come with a sticker for my butt because there seemed to be one for everything else. Good, I always wanted to be photographed drowning.

photo 5 (9)

I did love the fall theme. Fall is my favorite season and there’s nothing I love more than pumpkin and the color orange.

photo 4 (8)

After freaking out some more about how fit everyone else is and how I don’t belong there, we drove to Dover, NH to our Airbnb place. Our host’s friend who was also there, has done several triathlons and gave me some tips about taking my time in transition. After reorganizing all my gear for the 10th time that day, I decided that I should probably eat something for dinner. Technically the nachos at 4PM could have been dinner, and I wasn’t hungry. However, skipping dinner would have left me starving in the morning which would have been a terrible idea. I’m not very good at eating well morning of the races so Tony and I set out to find something to eat.

We found the perfect place back in South Berwick, Maine. So we drove the 10 minutes over the state line to Thistle Pig. It was the perfect prerace meal. Actually, it would have been a perfect dinner, and I’m hoping to return another time when I’m more hungry to try more things.

They had this amazing veterinarian squash risotto.

photo 1 (17)

Tony got the heirloom tomato salad

photo 2 (17)

and we shared a jar of homemade pickles that we regret not keeping the brine from.

photo 3 (13)

My photos don’t do this place justice, but if you’re ever driving through Dover, NH/ South Berwick, ME definitely check out this place!

We also tried a glass of their white Sangria to help me fall asleep earlier than my normal bed time.

And before I knew it, I had less than 8 hours before it was race time.

Ferry Street Food & Drink – Malden Date Night

Tony and I like to try to keep up with all the new dining options that are opening up in Malden. It used to be easy, since quite frankly, there were little to none options. It’s pizza or pizza. However, it seems that now amazing restaurants are opening up all over the place in our own backyard. Last night we decided to check out Ferry Street Food & Drink.

We heard there’s free bar snacks from 5-7. Since the MBTA has been awful lately, I decided that I’ll have better luck running home. So runmute it was! It’s about 7.3 miles to my house and I like to end on a round mileage, 8.1 miles in under 64 minutes, proceeded by the fastest shower know to women kind.

photo (1)

From the office to a dress in under 70 minutes! Take that orange line, I know you can’t beat me. Don’t worry, I didn’t run in Toms haha.

Ferry Street Food (5)

When we got to Ferry street, we had the option of sitting at the Bar or table. We decided that since it was fairly slow and it was just me and Tony that we would grab a seat at the bar. The place was going for a gastropub type of vibe with exposed beautiful woodwork and license plates from the owner’s grandfather’s house.

Ferry Street Food (3)

The restaurant was opened by a husband and wife team that graduated from Johnson & Wales and wanted to create an establishment that felt like they were entertaining guests in their own home. When we got there at 6:50, the place was a bit empty, but definitely picked up by 7:30.

Ferry Street Food (4)

Our bartender/waitress was a delight! She was friendly and patient with all my beer questions. They had a ton of draft, can and bottle options ranging from local to the region, to domestic and I think a few international. Tony and I started with some free bar snacks that reminded me of Granada and free tapas back in Spain.

Tony got a Mystic Saison Renaud and I got Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union as we split some olives and house pate. 

The one thing about the menu was that there was no light options or vegetable sides. So Tony and I decided to split an appetizer and entrée.

We started with the meatballs glazed with Texas style BBQ over cheddar grits. OMG, why has this never been done on the east coast before?

Ferry Street Food (1)

It was absolutely delicious and I probably would have eaten the whole portion on my own if I didn’t have to share.

The dinner menu is short, but all of the options looked good. I think it’s seasonal and will probably change, but right now you could get a burger, braised rabbit, roasted chicken, pork sandwich, fish of the day and steak. For our entree with chose that fish of the day which was fried trout.

Ferry Street Food (2)

The steak fries were made fresh of course and had a nice little kick to it. The trout was fried up. Unfortunately the pickles were sweet and I prefer kosher dills only but the coleslaw more than made up for the pickle disappointment.

There was a dessert menu, but we were stuffed enough that I couldn’t imagine eating any more.

Overall, we had a great time at Ferry Street. I do wish they had a vegetarian option because as much as I love my fried food, I like to try to get some nutrients on the side. However, we’ll definitely be returning there for the meatballs and grits app! Or maybe just some beers and dessert next time.

QOTD

Can you keep up with all the local restaurants in your area? Try any place new recently?

A Weekend in New Orleans – Garden District and Mid-City

Although, we somehow found ourselves in the French Quarter on a daily basis, there is so much more to see in New Orleans!

For one, New Orleans has beautiful cemeteries! I regret not taking any photos because when I get cold, I become a failure of a blogger, but wandering through a cemetery is something that shouldn’t be missed. Many of the more touristy ones have been cleaned up since Katrina, but I’d say stick to visiting one in the day time since you never know who or what can lurk. Since the water table is high, most graves are not the traditional 6 feet deep you see elsewhere, instead there are some really beautiful mausoleums and crypts. Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District is one that’s been featured in countless movies, but we also walked by another gorgeous one in Mid-City that I forgot the name of. Either way, there’s something peaceful and beautiful there.

As mentioned before Tony and I stayed in Mid-City, a neighborhood next to City Park. I don’t know much about the history of it, but the house looked cute and the streets with the crazy trees were quite enchanting.

New Orleans

City Park, a park named for exactly what it is, is a beautiful urban escape. Had I not been completely sore, I would have gone for a run after the race.

City park 3

I like to title this one Tony and Liana and when Liana tells Tony to clean up after himself. JK =).

Dinos crossing

One day, we walked over to Parkway Bakery & Tavern for some Po’ boys. We got a shrimp po boy and a cat fish po boy. Both were delicious and now Tony wants to eat like a po boy all the time.

Po Boy

We drove by this artful switch-box

NOLA Art

A bayou by the po boy shop.

Bayou

Another neighborhood that we visited was the Garden district and Irish channel.

I stopped by Big Fisherman Seafood and got a crawfish pie for breakfast!

Crayfish cake

Afterwards we met up for another Free by Foot tour of the Garden District. Since it was technically winter, the gardens weren’t much to look at; however, the houses were still amazing. Also, since this neighborhood is on a slight incline, it of course wasn’t hit as hard by Katrina as the less affluent communities were. Sandra Bullock House

Above is Sandra Bullock’s home and it was my favorite. Garden District

Governor’s palace, we didn’t eat there, but I thought I would snap a photo of the blueness

Rum house tacos

Where we did eat was the Rum house. Those were my favorite tacos that I ever had. I got a lamb taco, a fried oyster, balsamic veggies and coleslaw. Tony got steak, fish, and pork taco with some polenta.

Rum House Tacos 2

We took a bus from midcity to the Garden district, but you could also take the Charles street Charlie, one of the oldest trolleys in the country.

Green Trolley

Another quiet street in the garden district at 11AM on a Monday

Irish Channel

Another morning we got some breakfast at Surrey’s in Uptown.

Surrey 2

I went simple with two eggs, balsamic veggies, and a biscuit

Surrey 1

Tony got a scramble with a biscuit and some cheesy grits.

Longest Bridge Causeway

And if you have an extra hour to kill and a car at your disposal? Check out the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, world’s longest continuous bridge! The longest of the two bridges is 23.86 miles, almost a marathon!

 

What’s your favorite bridge? I might be bias, but I love the Zakim bridge in Boston!

Weekend in New Orleans – French Quarter and Frenchmen Street

Hi! I’m actually back in Boston! It only took 12 hours of headaches and frantic flight changes and many new airports visited, but flight cancellations and snow storm couldn’t hold me back!

New Orleans was a blast! I’m going to break up the post in 2-3 posts because I just have way too many photos to share!

On Saturday night after visiting the expo we walked around the French quarters. Speaking of French quarter, anyone watch the Originals? If you do, you’ll notice some things looking familiar!

Bourbon street

It was around 4PM as we made our way around Bourbon street Margarita chugging, and brass bands blasting were in full swing. Since I had a marathon at 7AM, I stuck to my liter of coconut water! The flight, travel and expo dehydrated me, so hydration was key.

French Quarter Church

Jackson square and St. Louis church

French Quarter

Got some alligator jerky from the market as well.

French Market

On Monday night we went out on Frenchmen street, famous for its live music/jazz bars. As mentioned before, it was Monday night so things were timid compared to the weekend, but all the bands were amazing.

My favorite bar that we went to were the Three Muses.

Frenchmen Street

Along with some amazing cocktails, we grabbed dinner.

THree Muses cocktails

Lamb sliders, potato skins, and a beef rice bowl! The lamb sliders were amazing!

Lamb Sliders

We visited a few other bars, all of which had reasonable priced drinks and talented bands playing. We would just pop in which ever place sounded good for the moment and then go into a new place when our glass got dry.

Grapefruit IPA

Anyone every have this beer? I want a case of it! It’s an IPA with mild grapefruit flavor.

Since our Airbnb place was a few miles away, we traveled mostly by these cute trolleys. They worked pretty well for a few days but they would drive me nuts to commute on. There’s a trolley stop literally on every block, so a 4 mile journal can take you an hour! Since we rented a car on Monday, we did drive and had no issues with parking, but the weekend is a different story.

trolley

On Sunday night, we had a 7:30 PM free ghost tour with Free tours by Foot. After your tour, you tip your guide on what you thought the tour was worth.

Since we were once again in the French district we decided to stop by Pat O’Brien’s and get their infamous hurricanes before the tour. Besides I heard a rumor that being sober in the French quarter is illegal.

Hurricans

I’m not quite sure what’s in it, but it was quite tasty! They give you some pop corn as well, and if you return the glass to the bar, you get $3 bucks back. I guess they might have had a problem with people stealing the glass? Either way, I didn’t really wanna figure out how I wasn’t going to shatter the thing in the airport, so we didn’t keep ours.

At night

At night, the beautiful balconies turn into shadows and neon lights.

shadow

The ghost tour was about 90 minutes long and covered plenty of stories in less than a mile of a walk. One that many might know is the LaLaurie mansion that Nicklaus Cage used to own. Don’t worry, not all the stories were so gruesome and scary, some were sweet!real mansion

Do you believe in ghosts?? I get scared easily so I try not to think about it. I don’t even watch horror movies anymore. 

Getting my #BarretoBar with ExhaleSpa & Aragosta Bistro

I have to confess, ever since I started this whole ultra running addiction, I’ve been all about running and nothing else. However, sometimes it’s nice to shake up the muscles and try something new. That’s why I got super psyched when I had the chance to try out the Barre Core Fusion class with Blog and Tweet Boston at the new Exhale Spa at the Fairmont Battery Wharf. The location was beautiful, and it’s at a spa so the locker rooms and studio are amazingly gorgeous and serene. They also offer massage, facials, nail services, and other body treatments in addition to the barre and yoga classes.

Exhale Spa Studio

How gorgeous is this studio? Those hardwood floors are gorgeous! Such a change from the gym floors and nasty carpets at most gyms.

When we first entered the studio, our instructor Meg, told us to grab some light weights, 2s or 3s. I knew right away I’m probably below average strength and went for the 1 pounders.

Barre Supplies

And I had no regrets, because by the end of class, that one pound felt like a hundred and one pounds.

But first you’re probably wondering, what is Core Fusion barre? Or maybe you’re not, but I was since I’ve never been to a barre class before.

Per the promise – Core Fusion Barre is designed to give you chiseled abs, toned legs, cut arms, and a high, lifted butt. This ballet inspired, core-centric class focuses on isolated exercises, alignment, flexibility, and posture as you work through targeted mindful muscle movements. The class lasted 60 minutes of intense It was an intense, hard, and non-stop exercising and stretching.

Our instructor Meg was incredible as she led us through a full body workout of leg lifts, planks, push ups, abs, and everything else in between for barre work, and stretching. By the end of class, I don’t think I had a muscle in my body that wasn’t shaking.

Exhale Spa Barre to Bar

I’m not lying when I confess, I was pretty sore and whiney for a few days the next week. What I really liked most about Meg is that she walked around the room and helped correct our form. I’m the world’s worst person at following directions. That’s part of the reason why I’ve never been a fan of yoga and Pilates is because I have no idea what I’m doing (case point in these photos where I don’t look like the others) and always feel like I’m doing everything wrong. Meg helped me fix my form on more than a handful of the moves.

Exhale Spa Barre to Bar 2

And not to be a total loser, but can I say what the best part of the workout was?

Exhale Shower

Like mentioned before, the classes are held at a spa vs. a gym. And although your muscles are all worked to shreds during the 60 minutes of class, you can relax in luxury afterwards. I love the rainforest showers. if I could, I would have one in my house! Also, the white tea shampoo and conditioner was great too! I usually bring my own but I felt confident in the quality of cleaning products available at Exhale.

I’m hoping to return again soon. Although I will warn you, it’s not a cheap work out. Classes cost $25 each session for 60 minutes. However, it is still more cost-effective than a trainer. They also have monthly and annual packages available on their website. And I know a certain running blogger with a birthday in November coughhintcough 😉

To reward ourselves for our hard work(out), we headed to Aragosta right next door.

Aragosta Bar and Bistro is a contemporary Italian bistro located on Boston’s Harbor Walk in the North End. I’ve actually been there and blogged about it before. Since I’ve had such a great time before, I dropped by for a drink and a few bites, even though I had an amazing KitchenSurfing dinner waiting for me at home.

Exhale Spa Drink

We started with the Deep Cleanse, a signature cocktail designed for Exhale made from cucumber, Hendricks GIN, aloe, lime juice, and simple syrup.

To go along with the drink, the Chef prepared us some tasty apps. Bruschetta, a roasted vegetable flatbread, artichoke fritters, and a meat and cheese plate. He even created some gluten-free alternatives for people in our group with allergies.

Aragosta Bistro

As you can see my photos are a little blurry. My muscles were still a little twitchy from the Barre workout! However, everything was tasty as expected!

Thank you Exhale Spa, Aragosta & BlogandTweetBoston for putting such a great event together!

12 Best Things I Ate in 2012

I got inspired by a post with the same title on Adventurous Kate’s blog and couldn’t help but reflect back on my own gastronomic adventures of 2012.  2012 has been great for me fitness/running wise, but with my new running ambition came a great appetite and I took full advantage to feed it!

These are not in any order other than random!

12. The best lobster roll from Roy Moore Lobster Co that I had after the Twin Light Half Marathon in Rockport, MA.

Best Food 2012 9

11.  Smoked Meat Sandwich from Schwartz while in Montreal.  How good is it?  So good, there’s a musical about it!

Best Food 2012 8 10. Okay so this was a DIY moment but throwing my own Spring Roll party thanks to help from a friend was a very yummy experience of 2012
Best Food 2012 6 9. Fajita salad at Guadalajara Grill in Malden was awesome.  Sadly, they closed down.  They have a sister restaurant called Mexico Lindo in Melrose, but that doesn’t provide the convenience of being able to walk home after a pitcher of the best margaritas ever.  =(
Best Food 2012 4

8. I never wrote about going to Mama Ayesha’s in Washington D.C. and that’s a shame.  Upon other visits to DC and the Zoo, I would always walk by this place that looked like a shack and I wasn’t ever sure if it’s actually open.  This year I got the courage to go inside to be delighted at a beautiful lantern filled Lebanese place!

Best Food 2012 3

7. Ceviche at El Chalan in DC – Although nothing in the U.S. will ever come close to my experience in Peru, this was the closest and best I have yet to try and my stomach knows I tried many.
Best Food 2012 2

6. I didn’t blog back then so there’s no link but brunch at Barney Greengrass in NYC was brunch of the year.  Smoked salmon and white fish scramble in a perfect pumpernickel bagel.  It was even worth the trek from south Brooklyn to midtown.

Best Food 2012 1

4.I would like to start with saying I hate duck,  I’m not a fan, I think there’s usually not enough meat to eat there.  However, Salt proved me wrong.  Tony took me there for our two year anniversary and it was the best!  There was definitely plenty of meat in that duck.

Best Food 2012 10

3. Pintxos in Barcelona!  These bar bites with fresh fish, smoked fish, different whips, hard boiled eggs and veggies is everything my palate craves.

Best Food 2012 11

2. This is another one of those trips that I just never blogged about.  Maybe one day I’ll go back and do a write-up on Burlington, VT.  Or maybe just maybe I’ll go back this in summer of 2013 for a warmer visit.  On our drive back from Montreal, we stopped by a few hours and I had the world’s best vegan burger at the Farmhouse Tap & Grill.  Laughing Lotus Farm kimchi, Cabot cheddar, pickled jalapeño and braised kale!  A vegetarian wet dream and the perfect refuel after a marathon

Best Food 2012 13

1. I mentioned how these are not in any order but this one.  Number 1 is my all time favorite dining experience!  Dining at Girl and the Goat was the one time that I can say that I literally had nothing to complain about from all 6 small plate that we had!  This below is the sockeye tartare with truffle vinaigrette, summer squash & popiah

Best Food 2012 5

 

What were your favorite dining moments of 2012? If you did a post, share it!

An Introduction to Seville, Spain

I’ve been contemplating and contemplating how to recap my 3 days in Seville, and I got nothing.  So instead it will be a slow photo stream broken up into two parts.  Because I was traveling with my mom I didn’t get too crazy in how far outside of the tourist zone I went.  However, within the tourist zone it’s not so much as do but more of a take a walk, relax and enjoy.  Things run slower in Sevilla.  While Barcelona & Valencia still had the hustle and bustle of a city on the go with a Mediterranean edge, Seville was more a place where I caught my breath, relaxed, ate some grub, enjoy some wine and got lost in the maze of narrow streets.

The first day we got to Seville, it was pouring rain, absolutely pouring, and after our cab dropped us off in Santa Cruz, where we were staying we were at a loss of where to eat.  We picked the first place we saw, I don’t remember the name but aside from great wine everything else was disappointing.  My mom ordered these salmon things wrapped around cream cheese….

I ordered a mistake… well unless you’re into the atkins diet.  The beef was great but I could have really used a real burger bun instead of this bread thing… not sure why they had this on their list of “recommended” dishes.

One of the many crazy narrow streets to get lost in when you’re searching for some grub.

As the rain slowed down we tried to walk around

The good thing was that our room was near the Cathedral, so every time we got lost, we would follow the arrows to the Seville Cathedral and find our lodging from there.  My mom looks thrilled haha.

The Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral and the third largest church in the world.  Even as someone whole claims no religious affiliation, I was in awe of it’s architectural beauty.

A warning to vegetarians .. you will see hanging hogs pretty much everywhere in Spain… it was kinda gross at first but I started to find it pretty cool halfway through my journey.

I know trash isn’t that exciting but I thought the recycling bin was kinda neat… I like trash-bins  I’m a weirdo, love me.

Sadly after packing my running skirts, and my new unwrapped Garmin, I only ran once in Spain… In Seville.. 6 miles on Guadalquivir River felt refreshing and a struggle at the same time.   I was thirsty (I guess drinking wine instead of water for a week does that) and I was tired.

I ran by the Navel musuem and I really think we should revive the brick style architecture too look more medieval.

I rented a room through AirBnB because in between hotels I wanted to save some $$ and this is the lovely courtyard in our building that brought sunlight into all the rooms.  I thought it was neat.

On our second day we went to the Alcazar, their palace.  It is the oldest European palace still in use and it used to be a Moorish fort.

The gardens were pretty and I’ll skip the history lesson but if you’re curious Wikipedia has all you need.

As we walked around the garden, we made new friends.  These guys were everywhere!  Only the males are pretty though, afterwards we saw a bunch of females and they well uuuugggllly.

And of course within 5 minutes of being in the gardens, it started to pour!

We decided with the rain it was a good idea to take a walk inside

The tile work in the room was beautiful.  I wish they kept some drapery or photos of what they thought it used to look like when in use.  I guess I had a hard time picturing what should be here besides a bathroom.

Just another pretty site within the garden

This is the Baths of Lady Maria de Padilla at the Alcázar of Seville.  The “Baths of Lady María de Padilla” are rainwater tanks beneath the Patio del Crucero. The tanks are named after María de Padilla, the mistress of Pedro the Cruel. Legend has it, Pedro fell for María and had her husband killed. María resisted his advances and poured boiling oil over her face to disfigure herself to stop Pedro’s pursuit. She became a nun and moved to a convent afterwards. She is regarded as a symbol of purity in the culture of Seville. I don’t know if this is true but that;s what the internets told.

Sight seeing ends in hunger.  We went to some place that was called something bodega.  The food was good but I don’t know if it was anything special aside from these meatballs.  They were yum yums

I forgot if this was beef or pork but it was yummy….

this was less yummy, it was beef in their “signature sauce” but I don’t think I want to know what the special sauce was.

These things were great too, shrimp wrapped in yummy light pastry type wrap!