Running my way through California

Its no secret here on the blog – or to anyone in my life – that I miss all my friends in Santa Cruz, like a lot.  So much so that half the time I day dream about quitting law school, selling all my stuff, and hopping on a plane and inviting myself to live in one of my friends’ spare bedrooms.  And trust me, there were a few times it was so close to happening I’m almost surprised it didn’t.

But, as luck would have it I was able to find my way back to Santa Cruz in mid-May after second semester finals were over, AND will be finding myself back there in August – and I’m pretty sure that’s what allowed me to get back on the plane last Sunday was knowing I would be going back…

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There’s no place like home…or Leslie’s home for a get together 🙂

Of course, in true runner form, the first thing I did when Meg picked me up from the Airport May 10, well after catching up of course, was head out with her and another one of the running wives for a few miles of my long run.  I finished it out solo b/c Meg had already run a 10k race that morning, and I needed to get 10 on the books on the Santa Cruz rollers to boost my confidence for Capitola Half Marathon on May 18.  And then we had Verve coffee…because we had to.

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Later, we headed out for delicious dinner + drinks downtown.

Meg & Me

Meg & Me

Sunday morning we had a late morning run with some of the running wives on the hills of Santa Cruz and a new-to-me path. We refueled in the evening with some delicious BBQ foods later a la casa de Leslie – who, btw, throws the best house parties around!

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Some of my running wives at the BBQ

w/ Claudia & Laura at the BBQ

w/ Claudia & Laura at the BBQ

I will admit the fact that I was in California, running in some of my favorite places made taking the rest days I was supposed to take very very difficult.  So difficult, in fact, that I wasn’t sure that my half marathon race was going to go well?  Usually I like to have 2-3 rest days during race week – and like to be about 10ish miles total shorter (including the race – w/ the exception of a marathon race week) of my previous few weeks’ total mileage.  But that quickly went out the window.

Monday I did take a rest day, and just hung out in Santa Cruz with the pups at Meg’s house while she taught or something ridiculous like that – I mean, what’s work?

Sami.

Sami.

And Monday night I got to have tacos (we don’t have real tacos in Virginia/DC) with a good friend, and see the Santa Cruz sunset. I had forgotten how beautiful it was.

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Santa Cruz sunset at Pleasure Point

Tuesday morning, it was back to running with Meg & Leslie before heading to San Jose to meet my nephew and hang out with my family for a few days.  Got in a couple solid runs, spent plenty of time loving on my niece and nephew and helping out my brother and sister-in-law and got to even go to the Giants game with my brother, sister and niece!

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Cutest little man in the world (I’m biased)

Hanging with my niece

Hanging with my niece

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Melting at the Giants game w/ my sister

Then it was back to Santa Cruz to hang out with PhD friends and run/eat some more good food on Thursday.

Drinks w/ PhD friends

Drinks w/ PhD friends

I also got to experience RecoveryPump…

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RecoveryPump insanity.

Friday it was more miles along the coast with the girls, chased with an evening of sushi and wine for girl’s night out!

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All the ladies – fancy and not.

The fancy ladies

The fancy ladies

After what felt like a solid week of eating, drinking and running nonstop, it was time to start getting mentally ready for the half marathon on Sunday…but since this post is already like longer than any post I’ve ever written, I’ll leave it here for now.  I’ll leave it on a high note from all the friendship, family fun, food, wine, and of course running that happened over my post-finals week in California.  It was easily the best week of 2014 so far.  And it finished with a wonderful race weekend at Capitola Half Marathon…

What is your best week of 2014 so far?  Or best day?

An Afternoon at Bonny Doon

Vineyard, that is.

At Foodbuzz Fest 2011, we had Bonny Doon Vineyard wine at the Friday night cocktail hour.  I love their Ca de Albarino, the crisp, fruity, fresh taste.  I’m not a huge white wine fan, but this one is definitely a favorite of mine.  After tweeting about their delicious wines, I got in contact with one of their sales reps, who set me up with a complimentary tasting at their tasting room here in Santa Cruz.

So, at the end of last quarter, on a ridiculously beautiful sunny winter day in December, I headed to the tasting room to try out some of their other wines.

Walking in to the tasting room, I was blown away by the décor – it was gorgeous, comfortable and most of the furnishings were from the wood of old wine barrells and bottles.

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The tasting started off with a couple of white wines.  First up was the 2009 Sparkling Moscato.  I’m usually not a Moscato fan, but this one was delicious.  It wasn’t too sweet, it was nice, crisp and a little bubbly.  Highly recommended for a Moscato. 

The second wine I tasted was the 2009 DEWN Grenache Blanc.  It’s a fruity wine, tasting like citrus, almond, honey and green melon.  The wine connoisseur suggested that it had a very buttery after taste – which it definitely did, and I loved.  I actually loved it so much that I bought a bottle to bring home to my family for Christmas.

The third wine I tried was a red wine.  Specifically, the 2007 Syrah “Alamo Creek.”  It is a dark, meaty wine with a peppery taste.  It wasn’t my favorite wine, it was a little too tart, but I could see the appeal to some.

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The next wine I tried was the 2008 Cunning.  This is one of Bonny Doon’s most popular wines, and I definitely understand why.  I LOVED it – and brought a bottle of this to my parents as well.  It had a nice mixture of fruity/cherry flavors with wild spice.  It was such a smooth wine, with no tart aftertaste lingering.  Definitely recommend this one.

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The next wine I tried was 2007 Le Cigare Volant.  It had a fruity, herbal and earthy taste along with a little pepper.  It was very good, but a more youthful wine, and I think after a few years it wouldn’t be so sharp tasting.

Next up was the Ca de Albarino (I requested a tasting of this since their 2010 just came out, but they only had the previously tasted 2009 on hand).  It was just as good as I last remembered, but I just wish I had had some hummus to go along with it, like we did at Foodbuzz.

The last wine I tried was a dessert wine, the 2010 Mourvedre “Mon Doux.”  For a dessert wine, it wasn’t too overly sweet, but I definitely couldn’t have more than a small glass.  This wine is made from the raisinated parts of the grapes, resulting in a very sweet, kind of thick, wine that tastes like dried plum, fig, and cherry.  I thought it would be delicious drizzled over a little icecream.  Or over a chocolate cake…

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Overall, I loved my experience at Bonny Doon, and hope to return there for another tasting when my family is in town this spring. 

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If you want more information about Bonny Doon Vineyard, or how to order their wines, check out their website, or follow them on Twitter!

*My tasting was comped by Bonny Doon, but the opinions are 100% mine.

Eating Through Chicago

Since I arrived in Chicago on Tuesday afternoon, it seems like most of what I’ve been doing is eating.  But, since I’m in Chicago, this is a good thing: the food here is some of the best in the world.

Tuesday night we went out for dinner to Semiramis, a lebanese restaurant in Ravenswood.  The restaurant is BYOB, so we stopped across the street for some red wine, we had a Bordeaux and a Tempranillo.  Then, for appetizers while we waited for the rest of our friends, we had falafel

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And ful (a fava bean dish – sooooo good)

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And for my entrée, I had the lentils & rice with carmelized onions & side salad

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The food was seriously delicious, and epic-ly large portions.  As such, I had lentils & rice for lunch yesterday, and ended up (sadly) throwing some out, because there was just too much and it was about to go bad.

My favorite part about Semiramis?  The ful.  It was incredible.  I was seriously putting in on everything.  The olives that come with the meal, on top of my side salad, the lentils.  Zomg.  I need to get some fava beans stat.

The restaurant was cute, small, and I would’ve never known about it if it hadn’t been for my friends, but I’m really glad we went – I love middle eastern food, I love BYOB places and I love when there are gluten free, vegan options that don’t have to be altered.  Makes my life, and the kitchen’s, much easier.

While Semiramis was the only meal we had out, I have still been eating like a queen thanks in large part to my good friend Liz.  Liz and Chris (Liz’s husband) has been kind enough to host me for the two weeks I’m in Chicago, and not only have they hosted me, but they’ve been filling my belly with really good food.  Liz is a master in the kitchen.

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Black quinoa with vegetables and bean sauce.

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Spicy black eyed pea mess with collard greens, cornbread crumbles and spicy sauce

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The black eyed pea burger mess was suppsed to be burgers, but they kind of crumbled as we cooked them in the cast iron pan, so we just made a mess out of it.  It was still just as good.  Unfortunately the cornbread was a  little on the dry side (dry cornbread = no bueno), but we made it work by loadin’ up on the sauce.

I’m looking forward to tonight’s dinner as well – but this time I’ll be doing the cooking to give Liz a break.  Oh, and if you’re wondering – there have been cocktails/cider/beer/wine consumed with pretty much every meal.  Its good to be back with friends.

To counteract that last part (and oh, you know to train for my THREE INSANE RACES IN 8 WEEKS THAT START IN 5 WEEKS) I’ve also been getting in some solid running.  Tuesday I went for a 4 mile run up the river, and discovered a track on which I can do some speed training, and today I did a 6 mile run up the river.

Its been good to be back in the Chi – tonight we’re hitting up our old stomping grounds to cause some trouble, because what else would we do in the Chi?!  And tomorrow afternoon we’re off to the Folk & Roots festival!  Should be a blast!

What are your weekend plans?