I resolve: Four things I maybe probably won’t do in 2015

Red cabbage salad with fennel, orange and pepitas (a new recipe for 2014, not from one of my cookbooks).

Red cabbage salad with fennel, orange and pepitas (a new recipe for 2014, not from one of my cookbooks).

New Year’s resolutions don’t work. You know this. I know this. It is fact.

Take my 2014 resolution—to listen to, and delete, my voicemails. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, there are currently four unplayed voicemails on my iPhone, but that’s because I ditched my old phone (and its 90ish unplayed messages) a couple of weeks ago.

Or take my 2013 resolution—to floss. I think I’ve made that one four or five times now. Never works. I’m an avid brusher, but as my dentist will tell you, I just don’t floss.

New Year’s resolutions don’t work because we resolve to do things we don’t really want to do. Sure, they’re often things we should do, things that the imaginary miniature mother living on our shoulders would nag us to do (in between scolding us to put on a sweater and asking if we want some tea). But unless you actually want to complete your New Year’s resolutions they won’t stick. Just ask the packet of floss in my bathroom drawer.

So, this year I’m going to try making promises I want to keep. Now, let’s see how I do in 2015.

I resolve …

• … to train for and run my first marathon. I’ve been running for a few years now, half-marathons, relays, trails. I even completed a goal to run 1,000 miles in 2014. And two weeks ago, I did my longest run ever, a 16-miler on McCullough Hills Trail that felt shockingly good, despite the 1,500-plus feet of elevation gain. So it feels like this is the year to step up to the next level. Plus, I’m unemployed, so I should have plenty of time to train.

• … to read more books. I don’t read enough books, and I’m self-conscious about it. I read on vacation, but at home picking up a book just isn’t part of my routine. I read the newspaper, I read magazines, I read way too much stupid crap online, but in 2015 I’m going to read more books—starting with the stack that’s been sitting at the bottom of my bed for months.

• … to cook new recipes. The thing about having a cookbook collection is that people expect you to, like, cook from them, and not just, like, find all your recipes on Epicurious and make the same things over and over. This can be a problem for me. But this is the year I actually bring my cookbooks into the kitchen, which is probably where they belong, right?

• … to have more weekend adventures. This falls firmly into the category of things-I-really-want-to-do-but-am-too-lazy-to-plan. So this will serve as my little self pep talk: Self, don’t be a lazy bum this year. Plan hiking trips and camping weekends. Scout out awesome cabins and cool places to kayak, and then find people who would also like to have fun and not just sit on the couch and go do these amazing, memorable things. Got it? Okay. Ready? Break!

There it is, folks. Four resolutions for 2015, which I’ll start, ya know, tomorrow.

148 miles to go! Let’s run

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On the way to my first podium in the Henderson Trail Classic “half marathon” (which was actually 14.3 miles).

 

Holy shit. It’s October 3, and I have only 148 miles to go to complete my 1,000-Mile Year Challenge. Holy shit.

If 148 sounds like a lot, it’s not. It’s nothing. Ten months ago it would’ve sounded impossible. One hundred and forty-eight miles? That’s 5.64 marathons. That’s far, like, really far. Today, it seems like cake. I’ve already run 852 miles, what’s another 148?

And the closer I get to zero, the more excited I am to run. I already ran today’s mileage, and I want to go run right now. I still have energy. I can do more. Let’s go!

I’m not sure what it will feel like when I hit the finish line in 55 days. But I do know this: I can’t wait to get there.

397 miles to go

Hello, new Saucony trail shoes.

Hello, Saucony trail shoes.

It’s been a rough month for my running quest. May 28 marked the halfway point for my 1,000-mile year. I celebrated the day with a cool three-miler during Boot Camp leg day, and gave myself a mental pat on the back for making it that far.

And honestly, I felt like a bit of a badass. I’d run 500 miles in 6 months, not only more than I’d ever clocked, but more than I ever imagined I was capable of completing. And it hadn’t been that bad, either.

But then summer hit. Vegas summer, like an oven perpetually set to low. Don’t tell me it’s a dry heat. When you can feel your skin slow-roasting, it’s just fucking hot.

Me and heat don’t really get along. I remember middle school soccer games when I’d get so flushed that coaches would bench me, worried I’d collapse on the pitch right in front of all the horrified Newton soccer moms with their orange slices and their Volvo station wagons. During my first Ragnar Relay, a hard 90-degree leg in full sun left me so destroyed it took me hours to recharge. The leg was only four miles.

So it’s been a rough month. Between weekend trips and 88-degree mornings, I’ve fallen behind, watching the daily mileage tick up—from 2.69 to 2.83—with every missed run. Some days I’m just not in the mood, to fry for three miles, to hit the treadmill, to go out there and get it done.

Which is not to say I’m giving up on this thing. As of today, I’ve got 397 miles to complete in the next 140 days. This far in, it doesn’t sound like much, actually, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to quit now.

But if you see me running—sweating profusely, face a somewhat alarming shade of red—don’t worry. That’s just how it’s going this month.

Thinking about Boston

The women's leaders, including eventual winner Rita Jeptoo, fly past us at mile 21 of the 2014 Boston Marathon. By Tovin Lapan

The women’s leaders, including eventual winner Rita Jeptoo, fly past us at mile 21 of the 2014 Boston Marathon. By Tovin Lapan

It’s taken me a few weeks to digest my trip to Boston for this year’s marathon—an undeniably joyous, inevitably sad, wholly inspirational weekend in a city that’s usually just home.

As one of Boston’s holiest days turned to chaos and despair last year, I sat on a couch in Las Vegas, riveted and disturbed, wishing I could be there with loved ones and grateful to be far away. I promised myself (and my boyfriend) that this year we would be there. Boston strong. Home sweet home. All of that.

When we landed for a long April weekend that would culminate in the 118th running of the Boston Marathon, there was a buzz of energy about the city that I didn’t recognize—a mix of nerves, enthusiasm, pride and fear. The recent tragedy and the town’s gritty resilience echoed in every BAA jacket, every Boston Strong poster, ever lean-legged runner walking the Back Bay in sneakers. Even the mundane carried the weight of meaning. It was, frankly, a bit overwhelming.

The day before the race, Tovin, our friend Tristan and I hopped the Green Line to Copley for lunch and a little sight-seeing. Instead of staring into cellphone screens or at the passing homes and tunnel walls, strangers on the train were striking up conversations, swapping marathon stories, and sharing why they’d decided to come or who they were here to watch. The ride felt nothing like a normal trip on the T. It was warm and oddly welcoming, like we were all regulars in some stuffy, chugging coffee shop on rails.

By the time I hit the course on Monday morning—mile 21, just past the crest of Heartbreak Hill near my parents’ house—I didn’t know what to feel. So I did what I’ve always done at the Boston Marathon: I cheered, and watched, and marveled, and encouraged. I hugged runner friends who arrived red-faced and beaming, laughed at the military police taking pictures for posing families and screamed my head off when Meb came streaking by on his way to being the first American to take the laurels in decades.

And when it was time to go, I finally felt calm. Boston strong. Home sweet home. All of that.

Four months down, 656 miles to go

le proof

le proof

The most amazing thing happened three weeks ago. My friend Katie and I ran the San Diego Half Marathon, an absolutely amazing course that starts outside Petco Park, weaves along the bay and stays flat for eight miles before climbing into Hillcrest and finishing alongside Balboa Park with a sweet downhill sprint that almost makes you feel like you haven’t just run 13.1 miles.

With little in the way of pace expectations, we demolished our previous PRs, crossing the finish line under gorgeous SoCal sunshine in 1:52:09. To say I was psyched would be an understatement; I was honestly a little incredulous. Continue reading

Listen, eat, read, run: Four things I’m feeling right now

ZazIs there anything better than bright-eyed discovery? Than waking up in the morning knowing a certain number of things are true and exist, and going to sleep with one, two, three more added to the list? Pretty much the best. And since I’m a good sharer, I figured I’d spread the discovery around a little with a few favorite additions to my mental catalogue that you can listen to, eat, read, or wear running. Enjoy.

Listen: “Eblouie Par la Nuit” by Zaz

This pained, passionate tune played behind the credits of Dead Man Down, a highly skippable film about revenge and murder that at least introduced me to badass French singer-songwriter Zaz. The title translates to “Dazzled by the night,” and the lyrics are more poetic than anything I’ve heard sung in English in a while.

Eat: Soy butter

Call it an umami bomb. Call it a butter upgrade (who knew such a thing was possible?). Call it East meets West meets awesome. Honestly, just call it soy butter—a simple mixture of soy sauce and butter, perhaps rounded out with a bit of cream and olive oil, that adds a deep, flavorful jolt to just about any savory thing. The New York Times heralded this basic sauce recently, inspiring me to mix up a batch and drizzle it over some simple baked sweet potatoes. The result: sweet, earthy, salty and rich. A delicious new discovery.

Read: Out of Eden Walk

Once you start reading Paul Salopek’s chronicles of his 21,000-mile walk tracing the path of human migration, it’s  hard to stop. His dispatches read like digital postcards, glimpses into the places, people and historical clues he encounters as he treks out of Africa, through the Middle East and onward toward South America, following  in the footsteps of our ancient ancestors. With photos and blog posts—and occasional print stories in National Geographic—Salopek is documenting his journey as he goes, a project that is expected to stretch over seven years. Right now, he’s in the West Bank, a fitting place to pick up the story—though you’ll probably want to go back to the beginning once you get started.

Hello, new Saucony trail shoes.

Hello, new Saucony trail shoes.

Run: Mizuno Wave Rider 17 and Saucony Peregrine 3

As I’ve shared on this blog before, I’m putting in a little extra mileage these days, and I recently came to the sad realization that my beloved Mizuno Wave Rider 15s are no longer really up to the task. And so I found myself at Red Rock Running Company after work one evening, trying on pairs of Mizunos, Salomons and Sauconys, dropping way too much money and taking home the latest upgrade of my trusty Wave Riders and my first-ever pair of trail shoes: the Saucony Peregrine 3s. I took them for a seven-mile spin on McCullough Hills Trail today, and the quick takeaways include traction so good it’s disconcerting, a nice snug fit through the mid-foot and plenty of undersole protection from all the rocks and pebbles and occasional cactus needles that pepper this desert trail. And here I never knew I was a Saucony fan. Guess you discover something new every day.

And I forgot the best part

A few days ago I revived this long-deserted blog with a self-indulgent little squib about the holiday running streak that has morphed into a 2014 running streak (aka “Will this thing ever end? No? Shit, better go run 3 miles.”). But silly me, I forgot the best part.

After my month of running, clocking 102.25 leisurely miles, many of them spent begging Samba pup to slow down or speed up or not eat the chicken bones that seem to be EVERYWHERE in my neighborhood, the craziest thing happened: I got faster.

Yes, yes, maybe it should not be shocking that running more makes you run faster. But my more had been slow, my legs were stiff, and when I went to run my monthly 5k in January I was, actually, shocked.

After hovering just under 24 minutes for months—dropping five seconds here, gaining three seconds there—I finished my 5k in 23:09, a PR by more than 30 seconds.

It felt like crap, of course. Right up until I saw the number on my watch.

2309

Gone streaking!

Sweaty selfie. Mid-run in the jungle in Tulum, Mexico.

Sweaty selfie. Mid-run in the jungle in Tulum, Mexico.

It started with a couple of crazy friends and a challenge issued by Runners World magazine: Run one mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

So, we started with a hilly 8 miler before turkey feasting and kept the streak going—a mile here, two miles there, nights on the treadmill, extra laps around the park after boot camp. There were days when I wanted to do anything but lace up my sneakers and run, but missing a day was simply not an option. As the miles added up my motivation increased, too. At some point I realized I might actually complete it. Then I realized I might hit 100 miles in the process.

Continue reading

A five-second fall photo tour

Ah, the blog. We had a good run there, all those posts, all that writing. And then, as per usual, I fell off the wagon.

It was tragic, of course. People kept commenting and emailing, begging for the blog to return. Oh wait, no one did that.

Regardless, I’m back for another crack at this self-indulgent little exercise—starting with a five-second photo tour of the fall you missed:

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This “mural” by Portuguese street artist Vhils was part of the Life Is Beautiful art program, and I’m fully obsessed with it. Rather than painting his walls, Vhils chips paint away to create his pieces, which are simply beautiful and incredibly expressive.

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I spotted this religious sculpture at the Broadacres flea market in North Las Vegas while Tovin was on assignment. The market is a vast, overwhelming consumer landscape, where you can buy everything from roast peanuts to cable TV packages to luchador masks and underwear.

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A co-worker’s desk cactus. I thought it looked like some freaky insect ready to spread its tentacles and attack.

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My bib number from the 2013 Las Vegas Ragnar Relay. This was my third year running, first year captaining, and my team ran like banshees from Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort to Lake Las Vegas, devouring miles at a far faster pace than we expected. We crossed the finish line (only mostly dead) about an hour and a half early and placed 38th in our division. But mostly we just had a crazy blast, which is really the whole point.

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Afterward, Tovin and I returned the vans and finally tried Lulu’s Bread & Breakfast, where I ate this fantastic creation, which was basically an open-faced caprese egg sandwich. I wish I could put it in my mouth every weekend.

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Speaking of food, check out this snapshot from the Friendsgiving 2013 spread. I’m talking two turkeys, 25 people, 32 biscuits, a couple of parents and a ridiculous amount of leftovers. (Not pictured: my first-ever lemon meringue pie, which mostly worked)

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And finally, a for-personal-use-only photo from our Neon Museum visit with Tovin’s parents. I always find something new to photograph and obsess over, like this gorgeous purple sign, which is currently the wallpaper on my phone.

A perfect day in Las Vegas

Dreaming of Bouchon's chicken and waffles ... Photo by Leila Navidi

Dreaming of Bouchon’s chicken and waffles … Photo by Leila Navidi

Ever wake up, think What should I do today?, and come up empty? In the last issue of Las Vegas Weekly, we kicked boredom in the teeth with curated itineraries, native’s recommendations, a choose-your-own-adventure quiz and personal dream days from Weekly staffers. From Fat Elvis’ lounge show to McCarran runway watching,  epic meatball subs and something called the “Pizghetti,” your new favorite afternoon activity is in here somewhere. Maybe it’s even mine.

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