December 29, 2015

Decompressed (with the most miles since September)

For the 9th time in my life, I'm taking refuge and refreshing in Hawaii.

This is the first time that I've come twice in one calendar year.  Note to self -- It doesn't suck to return to HNL in the same year, turns out there's more than enough good stuff here to support enjoyment on two separate trips.

Sunsets over the ocean never get old.
So, we arrived on Saturday night and Sunday AM, I headed out for my "typical" Waikiki run around Diamond Head.  In case I haven't been clear, with the toe, ankle sprains, food excess, etc -- I'm in serious need of some fitness work.  But I forced myself to do the hot, hilly, humid loop (I did 4 X 1 mile intervals with 0.1 mile walk/water recovery and then let myself walk the last mile or so back to the hotel).  Victory!

First vacation meal was Hawaiian Pork nachos at Duke's with a margarita.  It's a tradition.  Also, I'm going to have Kalua Pork nachos at some point in every Hawaii trip, so I might as well own it and do it as the first thing.

Have I mentioned E & I are suckers for rotating restaurants?
Dinner that night was a couple of glasses of wine in the rotating restaurant watching the sun set followed by a nice light selection of hand-made musubi, plus some delicious treats from the ABC store on our hotel balcony.  I must say, one of the best things about traveling with your best friend is that you agree on what makes sense, even if it's odd meals, like standing in line for 45 minutes in the dark with a bunch of Japanese people for made-to-order Musubi in a plastic bag.  Seriously, warm, hand-made seaweed wrapped rice triangles made to order, this place was awesome.
The next day we headed out to hike the Koko Crater Railway Trail.  You know, the same one POTUS and FLOTUS hiked a few days ago (I'd researched it and planned to do it *before* they did it, of course).
View from the bottom of the trek.

This was the best selfie we could do in the glare.

3/4 of the way up
 I totally started using my arms to push my legs down for a more full body workout at this point, just like the guy above...

Keyhole view from the bunker at the top.

View from the top of Koko Crater -- gorgeous!  (Diamond head in the distance)
1,048 steps up and down, plus an additional mile walk to lunch destroyed my quads.  Today's Diamond Head loop was an average pace of 13:43 per mile.  Yikes.  But I got it done, and we've been averaging 7 miles per day between running, hiking and just walking, so I'm trying to enjoy the activity level and just assume it'll all translate into heat training, hill training, humidity training, and general goodness when I get back home.

In other news, last week's total mileage was 26.42 (including walking and hiking, as always), which puts it as the highest mileage week since September...  so that's something.

Happy almost New Year!

December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve... Content

Two days ago, E drove through the crazy traffic and storms to ensure that we could be in my hometown for our family's early celebration of the Christmas holidays.  We have a complex family tree on my side, so we do the early big meal with group blessing followed by presents and stockings to ensure that those of us who can be local for a celebration may avoid conflicts with other family members who may want to claim the actual holiday for themselves.

Sunset view on the drive, almost to my childhood hometown.  Such a different sky than the bay area can offer.
After the drive, we spent the night with a 25Y+ friend, went out to dinner, caught up, and the next AM, she and I did a 6ish mile run together.  She was so much more fit than me... I felt so grateful for her waiting for me and holding herself back to allow both of us to enjoy the joint workout -- talk about a Christmas spirit of giving!  She was even kind enough to wait for me while I had to use a construction port-a-john.  For the finale, the last .6 miles, she ran uphill hard (Sierra Nevada Foothills are no joke), easily putting distance between us with every step to solidly close out her workout, while I walked, doing my best to jog every 1/10th of a mile or so, totally wasted from the hills on the loop (have I mentioned I lost quite a bit of fitness over the last several months?).  It's hard to explain how much I enjoyed all of this -- the shared dinner, wine, evening, workout conversation, and recovery.  True friend moments like these are so precious, few, and unique.

From her house, we headed to my brother's.  We picked up lunch and lounged through a pre-family-big-Christmas-meal snack at his place with my niece before heading to my mother's for our Christmas celebration.

We had too many presents (but that's fun, right?).  My mom asked my niece if she had any idea who had sent 2 John Green books and some coloring books, pencils and sharpeners to my mom's, saying, "It's really weird, they are addressed to me, but I think they were meant for you."

My niece replied, "Well, they were all on my Christmas wish list, so I think someone knew what they were doing..."

At which point, my mom, sheepishly said, "Oh, I should probably check my Amazon.  I probably ordered them for you off your list..."

No harm, no foul, though.  Niece got double presents from grandma, so all is well.

E & I went to bed at 11:30 and I slept 'til 9, he slept 'til 11 AM today.  Amazing -- longest night of sleep for both of us in ages.  After an easy 3 miler, we headed to Beach Hut Deli for lunch, where I silently toasted Dad with my beer and wished him and all of his heavenly cronies a Merry Christmas.

From there, we drove to Santa Rosa, taking highway 37, which was so picturesque I regret not taking photos.  We shared a loud and celebratory Christmas Eve dinner with my dad's sisters, my uncle and my cousins, and tomorrow AM we're returning for aebelskivers.

If all goes well, I'll win the text war I've got with my brother to send Xmas wishes out at midnight first (and if I lose, I'll still be second, 'cause mom and sis don't even know there's a contest).  From there, it's off to bed, and up for a run before brunch with the family (and hopefully a videocall with my sis and her kids) followed by a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge home.

All in all, I couldn't be happier with my stereotypically Californian Christmas celebration.

December 21, 2015

Oh What Fun...

It's been a celebratory couple of weeks.

Twilight During The Holidays in SF -- So Festive.

In the last 14 days, I've attended 7 holiday parties.  Each and every one of them was great and something I'm very pleased I did.  I met new people and people I'd only known virtually.  I had fun and enjoyable conversations.  Good food, wine, and hugs.

About 50% of the parties were professionally related (fun, but also a kind of exhausting and hard work), whereas the other half were purely social (less exhausting, but if you're me and bad at names, still a type of hard work).

So, yikes, am I burnt out.

See, I'm already fairly deep in the throes of  my 10th straight year of practicing law without any significant break.  And even without the 10 year whine, when you take normal end-of-year legal work stress, add large social obligations (often multiple events on multiple consecutive days), and insist that all the regular life stuff keeps chugging along as well?  What you get is a fried BT.

Two weekends ago, on Sunday, it was very stormy.  I'd put in an 18 mile week, half running, half walking, and I really wanted to get fit in one last run since my ankle seemed to be holding up.  So, I went to my gym.

Or, where my gym used to be.

Turns out, my gym closed on November 1st (and I'd been traveling so much this fall that I hadn't been there to see the announcements, assuming there were some).  They also charged me the annual renewal fee on November 23rd, which I found particularly cheeky.  My treadmill in the garage had died about 6 months ago, so that option was out.  And the storm was too windy and rainy to make running outside a reasonable option.

So, I took the hint that life did not want me to run, and E and I went out for delicious pho instead.  Last week was slightly better on the running front.  While Christmas shopping, I bought myself a Garmin Forerunner 620 to replace my very dead 310XT.  I expected to be annoyed by something because every time I've tried one of the smaller Garmins in the past, I can't believe the design choices they've made, but so far, I've been very pleased. 

Saturday, for my own virtual jingle bell hell, I headed out for run/jog/walk intervals totaling 6.04 miles and averaging 13 minutes/mile.  One of the walk breaks was longer than expected because the treadmill outlet called me back -- yahoo, I've got a replacement treadmill scheduled for delivery tomorrow.  This is a good thing since I no longer have a gym, and I'm signed up for a 15K in 3 weeks.  This is possibly the worst-prepared I've ever been for any long(ish) run.  The longest run I've done without a break since July is 6 miles (2 weeks ago, with the local running club).  The good news is, the ankle seems fine, so I *should* be able to work my way up to 9 miles over the next 3 weeks so long as I can find some time in between all of the holiday festivities.

December 13, 2015

A Tale of 2 Soups

Sunday night of last week, I made soup number 4 for the season.  A tomato-lentil option that was almost identical to the delicious lentil soup from last week, except with canned garden tomato purée subbed for some of the broth and less added lemon and vinegar due to the acidity of the tomatoes (and, of course, since I'm spicing as I finish the soup, no doubt it ended up differently).  Overall, delicious.

We have one serving left, and it was slated for tonight, but then I took the spare time in my day today to make a new soup and it smelled so delicious that the last of the lentils will have to wait for tomorrow night.  Such is the conflict of plentitude in homemade soup season.

Today's soup was a modification of a bunch various recipes I read about mung beans, and in particular, preparations involving coconut milk.  E & I are very happy with the result (recipe below), so much so that I tried to take several photos after we'd lost most of the day's natural light to celebrate the awesome outcome.

Post last seasoning taste, cooling on the stove, delicious (not well lit)

4 T high heat oil (I use safflower oil)
1 T cumin seeds (I may consider increasing to 1.5T next time)
2 T mustard seeds (I think I'd go for 1 T next time)

3-4 T of garlic powder (I'm not proud of this, but I ran out of garlic)
2 minced hungarian hot peppers from the garden (sub 2-3 minced peppers of your chosen heat, be ready to turn hood/fan on high to minimize capsaicin smoke)

3 C preserved tomato puree from the garden (sub 1 Q canned stewed tomatoes or lightly cooked down sauce with water)

2 T ginger powder
2 T ground coriander
1 T mustard powder (optional, didn't seem to add to the flavor much)
1 tsp turmeric
1+ tsp sea salt

2 C mung beans

4-6 cups water (depends on your preference of soupiness)

1 can coconut milk
Juice of 1-2 limes (or 1/4 cup lime juice)
1 C chopped fresh greens (I used arugula, 'cause it's what I had, apparently cilantro is traditional -- use less, or spinach or kale will work too)

On the kitchen table, under LED lighting.  Too much reflection.
Perhaps my favorite part about this recipe is step one:

1. Heat the oil 'til boiling and brown the cumin seeds (which crackle) and mustard seeds (which pop, like little tiny popcorn) as the first step for 1 minute.  Turn down to low.  Super aromatic and fun.  If you love cumin (like I do) you will find that the roasted cumin seed flavor that cooks into this soup is amazing.

2. Add minced onion and peppers and garlic powder (or 9 mashed cloves, which I really would have preferred to do, I just found myself without fresh garlic for once).  Cook down on low/medium for 1-2 minutes.  Add tomatoes and all spices.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to low and cook for 5 minutes.
Outside, soup's done, on the cover of the BBQ, black background and fading natural light.

3.  Add 2+ C of mung beans and water.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and turn down to a simmer.  Set timer for 30 minutes and stir 2+ times during that period.  Check for doneness.  If not done, add more water, 15 more minutes on low.  When mung beans are just past al dente, you are ready to finalize the soup.

4.  Turn off heat.  Add coconut milk, chopped greens, lime juice according to what you think you'd like and taste.  Stir more.  Add salt, sugar, lime juice and cayenne until the flavor is perfect.  Spoon it out into a bowl and try to take pictures.  Fail miserably when the bowl is overturned onto the ground, giving you an excellent opportunity to show the true texture of the final product. 

Perhaps the best photo to show texture, after the bowl fell off the BBQ cover and spilled all over the ground.
Enjoy warm.

December 7, 2015

Back On My Feet

My ankle is still a little sore.  But I did 4+ miles on the trails on Saturday (with a group of lovely bay area running buddies) and 6 running with the local running group on Sunday.  So, I finished the week with 21.28 miles total and a feeling like I can actually start building up my mileage with a goal of doing some early 2016 racing.

Totally worth the long drive to run in this beautiful setting.

Meeting up with the runners who did the full loop on our out and back.

All of us.
Other than that, not too much to report.  It was a gloriously lazy easy week at home.  I made a gigantic lasagna on Sunday afternoon and will likely be eating off of it for most of the week.  It had been years since I'd done the multi-hour effort that is making a proper bolognese sauce from scratch and layering it with ricotta and greens and lasagna noodles and cheese.  I even made a spare smaller lasagna that I gave to our across the street neighbors -- they were so happy (they have a 1 year old, they didn't have food for dinner on Sunday night, and one of the couple will be traveling this week, leaving the other as a single parent who can dine on leftovers).  This week's soup option?  Assuming we actually finish the lasagna, I'm going to try to experiment with a tomato lentil soup.