Dominion Riverrock 2012 Filthy 5K Mud Run

On my birthday last year, I made a list of things I wanted to do before my next birthday. One of the items on that list was “run a 5K.”I have never been a fan of running; in fact, I despise it. I find road running mentally boring and physically exhausting. However, I felt that running a race was something I should try at least once. When the Monument Avenue 10K registration came up around my half-birthday, I signed up and completed it. I checked another thing off my list with plenty of time to spare.

But it didn’t stop there. I have mentioned before that I have been trail running lately. I started running the Buttermilk Trail nine weeks ago in preparation for my next race, the Dominion Riverrock Filthy 5K. It’s a fun run, nothing competitive about it (at least for me), but I still wanted to be prepared. After suffering a bad ankle sprain last Fall that put me in a walking cast for a few weeks, I didn’t want to take any chances with my newly rehabbed ankle on the rocks and roots of the James River Park trails. So I started slow with a few friends about two months ago, and we were very prepared (and really psyched!) by the time the race rolled around this weekend. Knowing I would end up wallowing in a mud pit at the end of the run, I dressed pretty in pink for a Miss Piggy kind of vibe. I’m a sucker for a theme!

BEFORE

I discovered during training that I absolutely love trail running, and no one was more surprised by that than me. I had always hated running, but I genuinely looked forward to our after work runs on the Buttermilk Trail. I thoroughly enjoyed every Sunday morning long run, followed by coffee and breakfast at Crossroads Forest Hill. I think that the main reason I have trouble running on roads is the boredom factor. Trail running engages your mind; you can’t take your eyes off the ground for more than a second or you will trip up on a rock, tree root, or mud puddle. Having your friends with you for the adventure doesn’t hurt either.

I made a pact with my training buddies to leave no man behind during the race this weekend. It is so much more fun to run with friends, from getting simultaneous side stitches on the Belvidere bridge, to climbing over rock walls, getting smacked in the face with tree branches, splashing each other while wading waist-deep in the river, and finally crawling through the mud pit together with the finish line in sight. The only disappointing part about the race was that many of the runners in our wave were really cautious on the trail portions of the run, and they slowed down to a brisk walk for the parts of the race course that we had looked forward to the most. Although we felt pretty hardcore when we managed to pass them while bounding up rocks and leaping over roots. The muddy parts hardly fazed us. We had a blast!

Too legit to quit!

Overall, this was a fantastic, fun, well-organized run. We took advantage of the bottlenecks and walked a bit when we had to due to congestion on the course. We probably couldn’t have run the whole thing anyway, so we welcomed the breaks along the way and then finished strong. Check out this shot of Team Buttermilk, taken shortly after the run.

AFTER

Of course it isn’t a vegology worthy event if there isn’t a good food story to tell. The first way I turned this fun activity into an opportunity to eat great food was by hosting a pasta party at my house on Wednesday night. I made penne alla norma for dinner and my friends brought wine, bread and salad to share. The second way I managed to sneak a food adventure into the picture was in my post-race dinner. I had heard that the Riverrock organizers had made an effort to include healthier food vendors in addition to the standard carnival-type fare served on Brown’s Island. So Kyle and I searched for a healthy dinner after I washed off and changed. Riverrock did not disappoint!

It took me about eight minutes to find the vegetarian food truck, Goatocado. Serving up fresh smoothies and teas, sandwiches, salads and sides, Goatocado had exactly what I was looking for between dashing through the mud and dancing the night away.

Kyle and I grabbed a pair of sandwiches with steamed edamame on the side, and fetched a couple of beers to wash it all down. Check out Goatocado’s great sandwich options!

click to zoom

Kyle ordered the Mountain Tropp and I had the HuMoose. It was so dark (9:00 PM!) that I couldn’t get a decent picture of the food. But trust me, it was exactly what I needed and I hope I see these guys around more often. I have seen them at some of the farmers’ markets around town before, but I don’t catch them often enough. After enjoying our food, we watched Keller Williams with the Travelin’ McCourys in a free concert on Brown’s Island. My body was exhausted from the run but I found the energy to kick off my shoes and dance like a fool for a couple more hours before calling it a night.

I ❤ Riverrock!

 

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Branching Out: Week in Review

Last Sunday seems so far away. I had a fantastic week that was jam-packed with long days full of new experiences. In the past, Spring has simply meant seasonal allergies, wardrobe challenges due to unpredictable weather, and the promise of summer right around the corner. For me, Spring has always been a season to rush through. It’s the awkward puberty of seasons and I can’t wait for it to be over. Even as I write this, Seals & Crofts’ serenades me as I daydream about summer breeze. Thank you Pandora Radio for reading my mind.

However, this year has been different. I have tried to embrace Spring for what it is and view it in a new light. My new perspective has taught me that Spring is a time of new beginnings. As everything starts to thaw and bloom, we too can get outside and expand our horizons. Spring is a great time to try new things and recommit to our personal growth. For some of us, this is a great time to review New Year’s resolutions and pick back up where we left off sometime in the first few weeks of February. For me, this is the perfect opportunity to try out new restaurants, recipes, and workouts. This past week I have met some new people and gone some new places and I have had a blast! So without further delay, here is the week in review.

On Sunday, I went to a delightful brunch at Stella’s with the Virginia is for Bloggers group. What started out as a tiny hashtag (#VAis4Bloggers) is now a thriving group of Virginia bloggers. The kickoff brunch that founders Sarah and Liz planned for us was fantastic.

Stella’s interior is gorgeous and the Greek theme is not subtle but not over-the-top either. The owners communicated the theme in a way that makes the restaurant feel authentic, not kitschy. One of the many well-edited features of the restaurant is the black and white Greek movie silently projected in the back corner.

Sarah and Liz brought us free samples and coupons for Love Grown Foods granola and coupons for Chobani. There was even a raffle for some of Sarah’s homemade peanut butter and full size bags of Love Grown granola.

Here’s the swag! Which included one of Gabby’s delicious gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.

I ordered the Black Kale Skillet, which comes with “sauteed black tuscan kale dressed with lemon-dijon vinaigrette, over toasted olive oil bread, kasseri cheese, topped with two fried eggs.” It turned out to be a great choice and I am sure that I will order this again in the future.

The pita dishes, although not vegetarian, looked delicious too.

The staff at Stella’s was so friendly and accommodating. At the end of the meal, our server brought out complimentary loukoumades, which are like Greek doughnuts. Sorry this photo looks blue. I tried to color correct it but still couldn’t get it right. The rainy skies were doing something weird to the natural light coming in through the windows. Guess you’ll have to go to Stella’s and order the loukoumades yourself to get the picture!

One thing that was not brand new this week, but is relatively new to me is trail running. I met up with some friends to jog on the Buttermilk Trail on Tuesday night. We have been training together for the Dominion Riverrock Filthy 5K Mud Run that takes place in three weeks. I hate road running, but I LOVE trail running. This has been a surprising discovery for me this year. Along the path, which doubles as a mountain biking trail, hangs this excellent sign. As my friend Melissa commented, “that’s some effective visual communication.” Consequently the photo made it onto TODA’s 366 Days of 2012 as the photo of the day for April 25th.

On Wednesday, Kyle and I had a dinner date at Acacia for Richmond Restaurant Week. It was my first time at Acacia Midtown (I have been meaning to go for years) and everything was wonderful. I started with the Farmer’s Punch, which is a cocktail made with clement rhum agricole, allspice, pineapple, lime, coconut milk and coconut foam. It was really tasty. It reminded me of the Mixology episode of Portlandia. But still, super tasty and refreshing. And how about those stainless steel straws? I think I need some!

My first course was a pureed kale and white bean soup with grilled ramps, creme fraiche, and smoked paprika oil. It was smiling at me.

The second course was a goat cheese and rosemary tart with mixed baby vegetables, roasted hazelnuts and crispy kale. It was out of this world.

While everything was delicious, dessert was my favorite course. I had the Dark and Stormy which was inspired by the drink of the same name. I am a big fan of the Dark and Stormy. You may recall that I made my own version with fresh cranberries called the Red Sky at Night. This dessert captures all the flavors of a dark and stormy, with rum ice cream, lime sorbet, molasses cake and ginger beer foam. Thank you, Acacia, for a thoroughly enjoyable Restaurant Week experience!

After all those good eats, Kyle and I were due for another long workout in the great outdoors. On Friday I decided to conquer my fear of biking across the James River and I took on the hills of Forest Hill, the pedestrian path on the Nickel Bridge, the traffic on Cary Street near VCU, and the daunting Belvidere Bridge. How cute are our His and Hers Torker bikes? A silver U-District for Kyle, and a copper Graduate for me.

Here is Kyle on the Nickel Bridge, or Boulevard Bridge.

And here is the lovely view from the Nickel Bridge. Kyle almost proposed here once at sunset, but he chickened out. Now that I know that story, I think about it every time I’m looking West over the James River from this spot.

Sure, Spring still means seasonal allergies and wardrobe challenges, but it means new beginnings too. I don’t know about you, but I’m digging this new outlook.

Farmers’ Market 11.12.11 and Neighborhood News

On Saturday morning, Kyle and I headed out to the farmers’ market to check out the seasonal produce and take in the beautiful fall colors. We don’t have much time left to enjoy the weekly market that takes place in Forest Hill Park from Spring through Fall. The South of the James Market moves indoors in three weeks.

I was delighted to find these beautiful persimmons from Agriberry.

Here’s this week’s loot:

  • Kale (Victory Farms)
  • Sweet Potatoes (Walnut Hill)
  • Beets (Victory Farms)
  • Arugula (Victory Farms)
  • Jiru Persimmons (Victory Farms)
  • Garden Cress (Walnut Hill)

Kyle and I drive over the same bridge every week to visit the SOJ Market. It has a gorgeous view of the river, and I love taking in the scenery from Byrd Park to Westover Hills all the way to Forest Hill Park. This afternoon we decided to head out on the pedestrian sidewalk on the bridge to snap some sunset photos. Can you believe the sun went down at 5:00 PM tonight? It wasn’t a great sunset, but the company was nice.

We found out some great news this week that will cause me to miss my weekly trips over the Boulevard Bridge.

We are buying our first home and it is located south of the river. The SOJ Market moves out of Forest Hill in three weeks, and we move in in about five. Starting next spring we will be walking a very short distance to the market every week. No more driving over the bridge. No more tripping over each other in our tiny kitchen. No more capping the number of party guests at ten. We couldn’t be happier.

At this time of year, the shorter days, colder nights and falling leaves typically cause us to fixate on endings. But in light of current events in our household, all we can think about is exciting new beginnings!

Have a wonderful week!

Summertime

It might not technically be summer for a few more weeks, but lately it has felt like summer in Richmond. The festivities of Memorial Day weekend combined with the sweltering temperatures has made everything feel just a little more relaxed. Time seems to move more slowly as the mercury rises, and I plan my days around simultaneously soaking up the sun and keeping cool.

Yes, this sure does feel like summer.

I have been making nearly perfect pasta salads lately thanks to this fantastic article: Five Steps to Perfect Pasta Salad. I highly recommend that you read this before your next cookout or potluck meal.

Mediterranean Pasta and Veggie Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb pasta (I used Bombolini Pasta’s dill shells)
  • 1/2 lb broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes (I used miniature heirloom tomatoes)
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 large or 1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp chopped black olives
  • 2 oz. crumbled feta
  • 2 tsp fresh basil, chopped
  • dressing of choice, to taste (I used TJ’s Greek feta dressing)

Preparation:

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, and pour out onto a cookie sheet to cool.
  2. Steam the broccoli florets, drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and let sit to cool.
  3. Combine tomatoes, garbanzo beans, cucumber, onions, and olive in a large mixing bowl.
  4. When they are cooled, add the pasta and broccoli to the bowl and stir to combine.
  5. Add the olives, basil and feta only when the other ingredients are completely cooled, and stir to combine.
  6. Slowly add the dressing to the bowl, while tossing to coat the other ingredients. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for a few hours and serve cold.

I served this with TJ’s falafel (so easy) and locally made tzatziki sauce. It was perfect for a warm evening on the porch.

Farmers’ Market 09.11.10

This weekend we embraced some of the things we love about summer as the seasons began to change around us. I picked up some great summer veggies at the farmers’ market.

This week’s loot included some sweet Carmen peppers that Kyle and I have been eyeing for weeks. There’s no time like the present! I’m still not sure what I want to do with them… We also picked up:

  • summer squash
  • one huge eggplant
  • green beans
  • potatoes
  • fresh roasted red pepper linguine from Bombolini
  • raspberries from Agriberry

I also have twelve ten fresh tomatoes from coworkers’ gardens to enjoy this week. Yum! Kyle and I chose to spend one of the last Saturdays of summer on the banks of the James River. The only thing missing from this trip was the humidity that is typical of summer in Richmond. You won’t hear me complaining about that.

Abridged

Lovely day. Hope you had a nice weekend too.