Good Vibrations

Last Thursday my good friend and co-worker, Susan, called me and invited Ron and me to go see Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys with her.  She had 3 tickets and her daughter and daughter’s boyfriend had to cancel on her unexpectedly.  For a split second when she invited me, I thought about my long run that was scheduled for Saturday.  I knew if I stayed out late there would be no way that I could make it up in time to get my run in.  I had promised my coach and other running friends that I wasn’t going to miss any more long runs and I was so close to thanking Susan but giving her my regrets.

For some reason though, I didn’t.  I told her I’d ask Ron and get back to her.  I gave Ron a call and within minutes we had plans to go the the award winning, Pet Sounds tour.

Susan’s gracious gift of the tickets was amazing.  We were honored to treat her to dinner.  And, what restaurant is right across from the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts?  You guessed it!  My favorite…….Living Kitchen!

Susan is an omnivore but she was sweet and seemed to enjoy the raw veggie creations.  We had so much fun at dinner!

We got an appetizer but they were so fast with our choices we barely touched it.  It was yummy though.

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The tri color hummus was so delicious and that bread there is my very favorite too!  It is Great Harvest bread and they make is especially for Living Kitchen.

My choice was the Fire and Brimstone Burger with the Broccoli Waldorf .

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Words cannot express how much I loved this!  It isn’t too hot in the beginning but then after a few bites, it hits you.  I love spicy so I was in heaven!

Ron got the Rawco Taco Salad.

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Ron liked it a lot.  He wasn’t very hungry and it was a perfect light choice.  He gave me a bite and man was it good!

Susan got the Avocado and Basil Sandwich with the beet salad as a side.  She made me smile when she got the beets.  Smile

A fellow beet lover!

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Susan wasn’t a fan of hummus so she got it on the side just in case.  She said this hummus was good though.

You know I’m a sweet-a-holic so I tried a different dessert from our first visit.

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It was called the Turtle Cake but in my opinion, it was exactly like German Chocolate Cake!   Wowzer!  The very best ever!

Susan got the cheesecake.  I can’t remember if it was the Lemon Berry like I got last time or if it was the Passion Fruit.  She liked it!

If you are in the area, please give Living Kitchen a try.  I promise you.  You will not believe that it is raw and vegan!

Next up was the concert.  I was born in 1965 so The Beach Boys were a little before my time.  I do love them though.  I think it’s because my sisters are 7 and 11 years older than me.  I was able to sing along to almost every one of the songs.

My favorites of course were Sloop John B, Good Vibrations, and Help Me Rhonda.  But now after the concert, my new favorite is God Only Knows.  Susan, Ron and I had a blast singing along with all the other old folks that were in the audience.  (Ha!)

As predicted, I missed my long run last Saturday.  Ron didn’t miss Kung Fu though and he was up and out of the house by 9:00am.  I had the whole day to myself and I Googled and YouTubed all things Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys for hours.  I’m a true expert on them now.

The coolest thing was when Ron got home from Kung Fu he found the movie for us and we watched, Love and Mercy.  I ‘m so happy that Brian happened upon Melinda in that car dealership.  Saved his life for sure!

Moral of the story is, eat some plants, stick around those that give you Good Vibrations, and don’t be afraid to skip a run or two every now and then.

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Here’s hoping you have,

“Love and mercy, that’s what you need tonight
So love and mercy to you and your friends tonight”

I DO need pizza!

Of all animal based food items, dairy  is one that I try to stay away from most!  I think it is the most un-healthy and the most cruel of all farming.  Click here for the health reasons why I try to stay away from dairy.  But look at this single comment on this blog that haunts me to my core.

However, the taste of cheese is such a comfort and one that I still crave.  Next to Mexican cuisine, pizza is one of my favorite foods.  I love the vegan pizza that you can get at Whole Foods and I have made some awesome homemade pizzas with Daiya cheese.  But to be able to walk into a restaurant and order a vegan pizza freshly made to order.  Total Win!

Let me introduce you to Blaze Pizza!  I’ve know about Blaze for a while and was so happy to finally try it out.

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The concept is super easy and very much like Subway.  You walk in and place your order and can choose one of their signature pizzas or design your own.  You just follow it down the line and let them know what toppings you want.

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Ron chose the veggie pizza with regular cheese but I got the make your own and the non-dairy cheese.

Here’s some pizzas waiting to go in the oven.

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And here’s a shot of the fast fire oven.

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You have to wait a very short time.  Just long enough to pay and then get your drink.  And look at these awesome drinks you can choose from!

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They have the normal sodas too but both Ron and I got the waters.  I tasted the key lime one but ended up with the blood orange lemonade.  Yummo!

Take a look at this beauty!

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If I can remember it all I think there is pineapple, black olives, red pepper, red onions. zucchini, mushrooms, and spinach on mine.

Here’s Ron’s:

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So very yummy!  They had small to go boxes ready for you to grab and I brought 2 slices home with me.  Ron and I will be going back to Blaze often.  If Blaze is in your area, be sure to give it a try.  Be brave and try the non-dairy cheese.  It’s delicious.

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Living Kitchen Love

Yesterday I went on an 8 mile run with my good friend Connie and then after that I did an hour long Camp Gladiator endurance workout.  I did take a short nap and then my daughter Andie and I took all 3 dogs to the vet at Petco.  Since we have 3 dogs, this low cost vaccination clinic really makes a lot of sense for us.  Some years we have had to wait in a long line but this year, we got there 30 minutes early and walked right up to the check-in assistants.  We filled out our paperwork and were ready to see the vet in minutes flat.  The whole process took only 1 hour and now Fred, Lucky, and Lily are all good to go for another year.

Fred Lucky and Lily

During the run earlier that morning, Connie told me about a new restaurant that has just opened up in downtown Raleigh.  When she started talking about it I realized it must be the same restaurant that I saw on Facebook.  The No Meat Athlete group in Raleigh was having a social run and dinner at someplace new.   Then Ron came home from Kung Fu and said Sifu Mo had told him about this new place that was 100% plant based and organic.

After such a busy day when I finally settled down it was almost 6:00pm and I was very tired.  I had a smoothie after the workout and before the vet I had a veggie burger and now I was getting quite hungry.  I started to think about what I could come up with for dinner and then it hit me.  Let’s go out!  Ron was sitting right beside me and I looked to him and asked him if he wanted to try the new place that Sifu had told him about.  I told him Connie’s recommendations and within seconds he said, “Let’s Go!”

Living Kitchen is on the corner of Fayetteville Street and Lenoir.  I loved it from the moment we stepped inside.

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The space is very modern and open.   We were greeted quickly and were seated in minutes.

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Connie had recommended the ginger-ale so I had to get it.  Ron was happy with a great IPA.

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That brewery is in Charlotte and what we were finding out was that this is the 2nd Living Kitchen Restaurant with the original one having been in business in Charlotte since 2010.

I loved the ginger-ale.  You could taste the fresh ginger but it wasn’t so strong that it knocked you down.

Our appetizer was the sushi.  Oh man!  Yummo!

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It was just sweet potatoes and veggies but the nori it was wrapped in gave it the fish taste.  The dipping sauce was amazing.

Next came our entrée’s.  I got the Living Burrito and Ron got the Pad Thai

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Ron is online right now researching spiralizers.  He loved it so much he just has to try and recreate it.

That is beet salad for my side and you know I adore beets.  Wowzer!  So yummy.  My sauce for the burrito was their signature hot sauce.  To.die.for.

I saved half of my burrito and half of the beet salad and brought that home so I could try a dessert.

Here’s my selection!  The Lemon-Berry Cheesecake!  I don’t know how they do it but the cashews, coconut, and berries somehow come together and you’d swear you are eating real cheesecake.  Out of this world delicious.

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Living Kitchen serves cold pressed juices and before we left, Ron got these 2 beauties for today and tomorrow.

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I was so excited to find another plant based dining option in Raleigh.  You know I love Remedy Diner and Fiction Kitchen but Living Kitchen is way healthier.

If you’ve been interested in plant based eating, give LK a try.  You will love it!

 

Chattanooga Half Marathon

Back on March 6th, Ron and I ran in the Inaugural Chattanooga Marathon.  Ron’s really good friend from his Coast Guard days lives near Chattanooga and we had planned a vacation out there to visit.  You know us.  We can’t go on vacation without signing up for a half marathon.

Here we are at the start with our traditional selfie.  It was a gorgeous day.  Just a little chilly at the start with all sunshine and no wind.  I shed that sweatshirt right as we started and left it for the volunteers to collect and give to Goodwill.

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I had been training since before Thanksgiving with Lifetime Fitness Run Club so I wanted to give it my all.  I kissed Ron goodbye and wished him a great race.

I didn’t carry any water or fuel and planned to just take what they gave out on the course.  My stomach has really settled down and I can handle just about what ever they give out.  I’d drink water at one stop and then the next I’d sip Gatorade.  I was ready for a GU a little before the race gave them out but no worries.  I accepted 2 Twizzlers from a nice spectator just past the UT-Chattanooga campus.

The course was gorgeous.  Chattanooga is a very pretty city.  It sits down in what they call the “Fishbowl” and there are mountains all around.  We ran down by the river during the first 5k and then headed up a few pretty good hills.  I loved every thing about the course.

Here’s my splits:

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I was feeling really good and kept most miles under 10:00 even with the hills!  I was doing so good, I started praying for a PR.  Now you know I just got a PR back in November in the flat, flat, flat, race at OBX.  Who was I to think I could get one here too?  I did train like I said with Lifetime and I felt like I was pretty prepared.  I just wasn’t very confident.  I’m not sure why.

That first 10:18 mile was when I stopped to take a GU.  I don’t understand why that last mile was also over 10:00.  I was praying very hard and really giving it my all and it was flat at that section.

It just wasn’t in the stars.  My official time was 2:07:18.  I missed a PR by a mere 30 seconds.  But you know, considering racing in Chattanooga vs OBX, I really must admit I did better.

I was very happy!

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Ron had a blast too and came in very close to where he predicted, 3:00:11.

The expo the day before was sweet.  It was small but this was the inaugural race for this city.  I’m sure it will get bigger as they grow.  The after party was really rockin’!  Notice I have Beet juice in my hands!  Score!  And they even had a vegan burger option for the after race food.

Chattanooga is a beautiful area.  After the expo we hiked to this gorgeous waterfall just about a half our outside the city.  (Lula Falls, Georgia)

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And then after the race, we hiked to this waterfall in the Cherokee National Forest.

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I would highly recommend this race if you need to check off Tennessee.

Happy Running Friends!

Time and Effort

Guess what the meaning of Kung Fu is?  It means time and effort.

This month Ron turns 59 and we also celebrate our 28th year of marriage.  For all 28 years and 4 months (yes we only dated 4 short months), Ron has had a dream of becoming a black belt.  And, I learned from his family and friends when we went to California this past summer, this dream is something that Ron has held for as long as they can remember too.

When we were first married and we lived in Greensboro, NC, Ron dragged me to Tae Kwon Do with him.  We didn’t live in Greensboro long and we were young and just getting started in our careers.  Tae Kwon Do didn’t last.

Then when the girls were little, Ron dragged the whole family to Karate.  We all loved it.  Well mostly.  I’m not so sure about Andie.  But again, we were a young family and Ron had to work a huge amount of on-call shifts and overtime back in those days.  Karate didn’t last.

Next came a movie that I dragged Ron to last year.  The movie was Cowspiracy.  It was about how hard factory farming is on the environment and was sponsored by the Triangle Vegfest Community.  After the movie they gave out door prizes.  Ron and I didn’t win a single cookbook or vegetarian dinner out or any of the other amazing veggie prizes.  Then it came to the very last door prize.  It was for 1 month free at the Chines Shao-Lin Center.  You guessed it!  Ron won!  That prize had Ron’s name written all over it!  I knew before they called out the winner that it would be Ron!  I didn’t even have to look at our ticket numbers.

In Kung Fu, the instructor is called Sifu.  Our instructor is Sifu Mo Seyam and he happens to be vegan.  (hence the door prize at the Vegfest sponsored movie)

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Ever since Ron started last year he has been bugging me to join him.  I kept telling him no.  I had my CrossFit and running and I just couldn’t do any more.

However, he didn’t give up.  Each time he progressed from one belt to the next he kept asking me when I was going to go to class with him.  Well as you all know, Ron loved running way before me.  But now, I love running the most.  Ron is such a trooper though and goes with me to all my races and has just as many medals on his medal hanger as I do.

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Since he is so good to me to keep running like he does, I decided that this year for Christmas, I would tell him that I’d start going to Tai Chi with him.  I wrote a pretty hand made card with those words on it and wrapped it up.  He was all smiles!

Well on New Year’s Eve this year I attended my first Tai Chi class with him.  Then he had me signed up for Kung Fu too before I could blink an eye.

We go on Tuesday and Thursday nights and then again on Saturday afternoon. On Tuesday and Thursday it’s just the Tai Chi and Kung Fu but on Saturday, Ron takes a class called Wooden Man as well.

Today was a big day at our school.  Every year the Elder Master travels from Colorado to each of the schools in our network around the country.  Today was our school’s turn.

Ron tested for Wooden Man and his Brown Belt and I tested for Yellow.   We both passed!  In our style of martial arts training, you can get to Brown Belt pretty quickly but there are 3 levels of Brown Belt.  It will probably be about 2 more years but with time and effort, Ron’s dream of becoming a Black Belt will hopefully be coming true.

I was a testing student today so I couldn’t get a lot of pictures.  When we were on a sort break, I got Ron to pose doing some of his Wooden Man moves.

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He really is amazing!  I am so impressed with his form.  Ron is a natural.

All the other students are great too and everyone is very friendly and supportive.  Kung Fu is so fun.  I am really excited about all the weapons that we will get to learn.  I got to see so many cool weapons in action today by the other students.  Some of them were the Monk’s staff, the broadsword, the spear, and nun chucks.  All I have learned so far are 4 staff spins but now that I’m yellow, I get to add nun chucks.

Next on the agenda is our one and only race that we have signed up for in 2016.  Ron and I are running the half marathon on March 6th in Chattanooga, TN.  I’ve been doing really good on my Tuesday and Thursday runs but my long runs on the weekend have been hit and miss.  I’m hoping to get a good 10 miles in tomorrow and then a 12 and another 10 over the next 2 weeks.  I’m also shooting to get some Iron Strength Workouts in.  Since I haven’t been going to CrossFit, this is crucial or I will lose everything that I have gained over the last year.  I’m writing it on my bathroom mirror  in a dry erase marker and making this solemn promise that I will do 3 Iron Strength Workouts for each of the next 4 weeks until Chattanooga.

Spend a little time and effort and cook for yourselves this week.  Spend some time on exercise.  Make an effort to be kind.

Ron carried a rock in his pocket for years that had the words Black Belt written on it.  Here’s wishing you have all the time you need to put the effort into your goals.  May all your dreams come true!

 

 

For the Love of Blueberries

I’ve been making this awesome granola for a while.  It is to die for!  The recipe comes from Heather Crosby’s Yum Universe.  YU is a great source for vegan inspiration.  I love snacking on this granola but just recently I have started putting it in my Coconut Milk yogurt for breakfast.  I get it from Trader Joe’s and I love both the vanilla and the blueberry flavors.

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I got in the habit of eating a pound of greens for breakfast last summer when I was following Chef AJ’s program.  I know that veggies are so important but for some reason a nice bowl of oats or granola topped yogurt is pure heaven to me.

I dove into this bowl after a very hot and humid 6.5 mile tempo run this morning.  Hit the spot!

Go on over to Yum Universe and make up some Easy Blueberry and Cherry Granola.  You won’t be disappointed.  It is super easy and oh so delicious.

Since today is the 31st of December, I was wondering if you have any resolutions or goals?  I do.  I’m shooting to run everyday in 2016.  I’ve signed up for a Run Streak and I just know it is going to be a hoot.  Along with running every day, I’m hoping to hit 1000 miles in 2016.

I also am giving CrossFit a rest and signing up for Tai Chi.  My husband has been after me for a while to join him and he’s finally talked me into it.  I might do Kung Fu too.  You never know!

My big goal for 2016 is to not purchase anything new.  I’ve been intrigued with the whole minimalist movement and this one in particular keeps jumping into my brain.  Last spring I bought 3 new pair of running shoes when they were on sale and I haven’t used one of them yet.  So, I shouldn’t need anything right!?  I’m even paying for our one race for 2016 tonight so I won’t have those expenses in 2016.  Maybe I can even go the whole year without even setting foot in a store?  I could by our fruits and veggies from the farmer’s market and I could make a list of other necessities (dog and cat food, laundry detergent, toiletries, etc.) and get Ron to pick them up for us.  Who knows?  Wouldn’t that be cool if I could make it?

My huge fitness goal is to of course to try and get faster and I am going to work on it.  However, flexibility is what I’m going to really focus on.  I am so  horribly un-flexible it is pathetic.

Happy New Year Everyone!  I pray 2016 is all you are dreaming of and more!

 

 

 

 

 

OBX Half! Best Race EVER!

I’m late getting this review up but for historical sake, I have to publish.

On November the 8th I ran my very best half marathon ever!  2:06:48!

OBX results

Outer Banks Marathon was my very first marathon back in 2010 and I’ve also done the Flying Pirate there in 2012.  The Flying Pirate course follows the 1st half of the full marathon.  The OBX Half is the 2nd half of the full marathon.

When I went into this race, I didn’t have any goals other than having fun.  I’ve had a good year and I had actually taken a little time off from so much running since my 50 miler I did back in September.  I still ran during the week.  I just didn’t make all my weekend long runs.

It was a cold, windy morning and I hung around with Ron as we waited for the race to start.  He was in one of the corrals near the back and even though I knew we wouldn’t stay together, I didn’t want to stand all alone in one of the corrals closer to the front.

When we took off, I kissed Ron goodbye and made our plan of where to meet up at the finish.  During races lately, I have started running without my phone and I love it.  I actually have also stopped carrying water and GUs.  Most of the races I go to have really good water and aid stations and I’m not as afraid of different GUs as I once was.  My stomach, (knock on wood) has been behaving.

I was careful in the beginning to not weave in and out of runners when we took off.  It was my choice to start out near the back and I didn’t want to be discourteous.   When my Garmin buzzed and it showed a sub 10:00 mile I could not believe it.  I was being careful and had no idea I was running at a good clip for me.

After miles 2-4 also showed sub 10:00 miles, I really began to question what in the world was going on.  Then after mile 5 I was floored.  I hit a sub 9:00 mile.  I never do this in races.  At that point I decided to give it my all and see if I could come in under my previous PR of 2:12. I started praying for a 2:11.

I felt great the whole way except towards the end my feet (bunions) started hurting. I didn’t care. I kept thinking of that running slogan, “Your feet are hurting because your kicking so much Assphalt.” There’s a  bridge at mile 10.5 and it was a beast but not terrible. I had 2 miles of 10:15s right around that.

The only thing that I can think of is that these results are due to my CrossFit trainer, Liz Brozowski.  The week prior to this half I went to CF 4 times.  I’m usually a 3x a week CF girl but my coach has just opened a new Box and I’ve been trying to go more.

From mile 6 on, my mantra was, “This is easier than burpees. This is easier than walk the floors. This is easier than slam balls. This is easier than wall balls.” I heard Liz’s words in my head, “You’ve got this Melissa.”

This race has renewed my belief that I can BQ someday. 5 years ago I ran my first full marathon. I’m not the same person I was before running. I am so grateful to God for this hobby. Thanks to all my running and CF buddies. Thank you to my family. My cup runneth over!

For a race review here are my opinions:

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I’ve sworn off racing so much for now.  I love it and we have a ball but it can get expensive.  My husband’s really good friend has been encouraging us to run the Chattanooga Marathon in March of 2016.  I guess we’ll do that but hold me to it – not many more at all next year.

A few of my running friends and I have joined a new running club at LifeTime Fitness.  We run on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and have been learning more about hill repeats and fartleks.  Coach Jennifer is the bomb!  I’m hoping this 16 week class will help me come in under 4:30 in Chattanooga!  A 4:30 is a huge goal for me but I’m up for it!  Wish me luck.

I wish for you one and all the merriest of a Christmas and the happiest of a New Year!

Happy Running!