Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Month: July 2014

Portland – Beauty is in the Eye of the Beerholder

Part 1: Portland

Vacation officially kicked Friday night after work.  We made a pasta dinner, and figured it couldn’t hurt to split a bottle of wine to go with it, calm us down (it had been a heck of a day at work), and send us into sleepy time since we had to be up very early.

Well, one bottle became two, and early became late, and I had to drag myself to bed around midnight because I was JUST NOT TIRED, which meant I woke up a little hungover and very tired with 3 hours sleep when my alarm went off at 4am (which was actually late, since our flight left at 6).

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Our OMG made the flight by literally one minute faces…

Long story short, though everything tried to conspire to keep us off that flight (including a bag coming apart in security, and the scanner breaking down and needing a reset as I was up in line), we got to the gate with one minute to spare.  The rest of the flight was uneventful, and just a few (7) short hours later we emerged in Portlandia.  That’s what all the locals call it, right?  I heard it on a TV show.

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Our norm is to take a cab to the hotel, but decided to give public transportation a go, and I’m really glad we did.  It was 5 bucks for the whole day and took just a LITTLE longer than I expect a cab would take, but it was great to see the city.  We arrived at our destination, and walked two blocks to our hotel, Hotel DeLuxe.2014-07-20 22.35.41

It was just as swanky as advertised.  It had a old-movie-star feel and theme to the place, and a playlist with Frank Sinatra crooning greeting us upon entering the room put it over the top in levels of coolness.  A brief stop for lunch at Cheryl’s on 12th had to happen.  Fish tacos! Prime rib sammich!  Free Beignets! Super nice wait staff as well.

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Between the cool lunch spot, the walk in the afternoon sun but temperate (read: not feels like strangling death) climate, and the fun touches of the city made me fall a little in love with it already, like I did Seattle (although I know we can’t be together all the time, your winters would depress me).

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After a bit of time recharging in the room, we headed off to play on some trails!  I had been super excited about this part, and while I was a little worse for wear on 3 hours sleep and fueled by wine and spicy tacos, I was not willing to skip this part of the plan.  We took the Max to the zoo, and after getting turned around a bit, we found Wildwood Trail and boy, she was a stunner.

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It was hot by Portland standards, 80-something, I believe, but the lack of humidity and the tree cover through most of the run made it not a thing.  We went up, and down, and up, and around, and past some places where one wrong step would send us down a steep hill to our doom, and wound around and back.

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We stopped at the official Rose Gardens and found it was 9 bucks – so we wound our way back around to the Test Gardens (which were free).  I will need to spend the money on the real deal someday, because the test area was super duper gorgeous!  Rows upon rows of gorgeous variations.  My phone battery took a huge hit there snapping photos.

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After the run for the roses, we decided to head back to where we left the Max instead of hoofing it toward the hotel, so we could catch more trail instead of streets.  By this point, I had convinced myself I was going to move to Oregon and become an ultra trail runner.  Then – reality set in and we had to walk part of the way back because of all the climbing and we’re at the end of offseason which means sloth season.  Someday, I want to go run more of that trail, it goes for 30 miles, and I want to see all of it.  Our guess was about 5.5-6 miles total in about an hour and ten (~800 or so feet of climb), with a few miles of walking as well.

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Feeling energized, we did a quick shower and change, and prepared to grab some drinks and dinner at Trader Vic’s.  After a nice long walk North to continue to stretch out our legs, we ended up being able to sneak into a nice, comfy booth at the bar right away.  We started with a Mai Tai sampler and a crispy shrimp appetizer, both of which were amazing – Guava was my favorite Mai Tai, and the shrimp had this spicy/sweet sauce that was amazing.  Zliten cleared the restaurant for use after getting the info that they did not fry in peanut oil.

The server came by and said the kitchen was slammed, and brought us another appetizer – lavash bread and homemade peanut butter (and then profusely apologized to Zliten and brought him some fruit, he was not offended and pretty full anyway).  The pb was heaven, but I tried to exercise some restraint because I had dinner coming.

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I did NOT exercise restraint in ordering a second drink though – Navy Grogg.  I was kinda full up on sweet, and the mix of ginger and spice cut through the fog of sugar overload.  Zliten’s second drink, the Trader Vic’s official Mai Tai, was like a mix of grain alcohol and heroin.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen him leave a drink before, but after we both worked on it for 10 minutes, we decided to give up about 2/3rds through it.

Dinner was largely unremarkable.  My lunar chicken was kinda undercooked and the coleslaw was a weird addition to chicken and pasta (though that part was divine).  Zliten enjoyed his tiki burger alright.  I enjoyed the tiki atmosphere and experience, but I’d probably do happy hour and pupus here next time, not dinner.

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While I could tell that Zliten really wanted to call it a night, we grabbed one more drink at the Driftwood Lounge (at the hotel).   It was a sexy little intimate spot – we got the last table.  The bartenders had a snappy and debonaire attitude.  It’s the kind of place you pour over your date and look into their eyes and it should have smoke wafting into the air, and you would probably get ostracized for whipping out your iPhone here.  I liked it a lot.  We had two champagne cocktails (the Elizabeth Taylor and the Springtime in Paris), and an order of fried cauliflower.  It came with lemon zest, big bulbs of garlic, and olives.  To. Die. For.  Lovely spot to end the night, but our tireds caught up with us and we slept soundly.

Sunday, we slept until we woke up.  Nine am might not sound like a feat, but considering it was 11am back in Texas, I was pretty proud.  We leisurely got up and showered and read and relaxed, and had plans to meet a friend for lunch – let’s call him Celedon, as that was his moniker on EverQuest, where we met him on some snowy hills while he was killing giants.  Today, we met him at a library, and we went in search of tasty Indian food.

This was challenging, as so many places were closed until the evening, or for the day.  Even Yelp failed us, which was a sad surprise.  I love my Yelp.  I happened to spy a tasty looking burger place named Joe’s Burgers on our trek, and we chatted over some fine Oregonian beef burgers that tasted fairly similar to In N Out.  The fries were good, but unremarkable.

Next, was the quest for beer.  Portland + craft brews is like peas + carrots.  We started with Virginia Cafe, which was one of Cel’s post work haunts.  I had a delicious cider which was not too sweet or strong, a great first day drink, afraid I don’t remember the name.  We sat outside on the patio continuing to talk (I believe we had turned to video games at this point) and enjoy Portland’s affinity for NOT BEING BALLS HOT.  I’m pretty sure Cel got tired of us saying “let’s sit OUTSIDE” everywhere we went, but the July weather was just so novel.

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The afternoon was a haze of beer.  Zliten and I split a sampler – and by sampler I mean a taster of all 10 beers PINTS makes.  The Rose Cream ale was the standout for me, but I had a sour beer and found I liked those as well.  Next, was Bailey’s Tap Room (a spot multiple Austin peeps had said to try), and they had a ginger beer that rocked my world.  I took care to write it down somewhere, and now I can’t locate the paper (Edit, took a picture – it was Caldera).  That’s about how I felt when we left, that is, after meeting some new friends (and their adorable doggie) who grilled us on Texas slang via an internet quiz and talked about Seattle vs Portland vs Southern California vs Texas.


Beer warriors were weary and in need of food, so we hit up India House for nourishment.  Chicken tikka masala, rice, and naan hit the spot, though Portland medium spicy is definitely not Texas medium spicy (I should have said hot, but it was still wonderful).  We parted ways with Cel at that point, and we walked around for a bit.

I was intrigued by the Sand Bar, so we went in for a drink.  I got some wine, and we chatted with the bartender that was from New Orleans, but didn’t love the spot, so we moved on.  Zliten had REALLY wanted to hit up Deschutes Public House earlier, but it was super busy.  Not so an hour before closing.  We sat at the bar, and enjoyed a yummy spiced table beer.

We met a younger guy who had quit his job in April to travel the US (along with his girlfriend and some friends) – they were currently couch surfing a little north of Portland.  They started in Florida, traveled up the East coast, through Chicago and the midwest, and were now making their way down the west coast.  Ah, to be young and have that kind of freedom.  Why didn’t I do stupid stuff like that in my early 20s?  He suggested some great lakes (not THE great lakes, of course) to check out next time.  When asked, he said he liked Chicago the best of everywhere they’d been thus far.  Being from there, I think he had pretty good taste!

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We made one more stop at the Driftwood.  I required more of that delicious cauliflower, we got some spicy broccolini as well, which came with shaved parmesan and a great sauce.  I mean, come on, can you beat veggies as bar food?  We made it to last call (which was early on a Sunday), and took our last drink up to the room and resisted the urge to break into the honor bar.  Good us.

Monday morning came quickly, and I had no love for breakfast food that morning.  The last thing I wanted was some sweet pancakes, so we set out looking for an alternative that was open.  After a few blocks, I looked up, and it’s as if angels sang a choir – a hole in the wall taco shop called  Maya’s Taqueria was open.  They even were serving the full menu!  I got four amazing mini asada chicken tacos, after noshing on some amazing spicy salsa and chips.  Perfect for cutting through the next day beer fog.

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In a jiffy, we packed up, checked out, walked the two blocks to the Max, and caught a train right away.  It was sad to say goodbye to Portland, we had fun stomping all over town for a few days, but it was time to move onto the next adventure.


Longer post with assloads of pictures to come, but… we are happy and fat and have returned back from vacation.  Here is the abridged version…


We spent a weekend in Portland, it was a thing of beauty.  Running and roses were first on the agenda.


Beauty is also in the beerholder (just not the after affects the next day).


Then, we moved onto the Oregon Coast for a few days.  We found out that 50-something is actually a temperature in July, but swimming is possible with preparation in 55 degree water.


Then, we hightailed it to Northern California, for some family time.  Water temperatures in the low 60s felt downright pleasant after Oregon!  We enjoyed our morning runs on the beach each day, though we were scared of being pooped on.


Monterey Bay Aquarium was definitely a highlight of the trip.  So many camera batteries died that day taking hundreds of pictures.


And now I’m enjoying one more lazy day before jumping back into real life – work, eating things that do not come from a snack bag or come in a bun, and training again.  More on that later, of course, as well.

Captain’s Log: Stardate – Offseason

As I’m settling into the fourth week of no training schedule and long runs mean I added .15 to my 3 miles I ran Tuesday, I figured I should share what not-training means in my life.

Day 0:


Got 3rd place medal and grinned the whole rest of the day.  Copious amounts of booze and tacos ensued.  Fell asleep for like 12 hours.

Day 1:

The day started with leftover tacos, a massage (I rarely do them during season because it’s iffy how long I feel like poopoo kaka after, but it was GREAT to kick off a month of rest), and lunch (burger and fries) and a movie with friends.  For dinner, we had pizza and salad and a little wine.  Feeling fat, relaxed, and happy.

Week 1:


It feel AMAZING to not be training a bunch.  Monday’s “workout” was walking the aisles at Costco (which ended up to be 2 miles by fitbit standards).  We got in 2 3 mile runs outside at easy pace (11-11:30s per Zliten’s garmin – I haven’t worn one of those things since the race) and 2 weights sessions as my offseason promise to myself.  We also finally quit our gym.  It was oddly sad after 4 years, but I just cannot abide by them constantly cutting their hours.

I knew I needed to get a handle on my eating STAT without all my normal activity, so we kicked off chicken, rice, veggies week.  It went well – I learned that it’s really my perfect food and rice products definitely make me feel less… heavy.

We also got our season passes to the new water park that’s 15 minute away.  Spent Friday night there and lost the key to the car, and had someone break into the prius for the first time to rescue us.  Fun (and expensive).  We went back again on Sunday for a longer session and it’s definitely filling the swimming void in my life.


And… I got to be social!  I fiiiiiiinally got to run my Savage Worlds story I’ve been working on for months.  It was crazy, scary, and a lot of fun to stretch my brain in those type of ways that I haven’t in a while.  I got to do ladies charity brunch (and finally had an excuse to wear my floppy hat), and we went to another movie and dinner with friends after spending the afternoon with my parents.  The things you can do when you’re not exhausted by a 70 mile bike ride or a brick workout!

I also celebrated my seventh anniversary at work.  Crazy!  I had a five year plan to be in Austin, buy some real estate, make some money, and then get back to San Diego with money for a down payment on something bigger than a shoebox.  Instead, I love living where I live, I have ZERO desire to move back to San Diego any time soon (though something a little more coastal would be awesome), and I’m pretty content with my job and the game I started on seven years ago at a no name company is a pretty wild success.  Funny how things work out.

Week 2:


It was time to get a little more active.  I pulled out my Dance Dance Revolution games and dance pad and holy WOW, it’s still a great workout.  It took me a while to figure out what about it was so gooood, and I realized it’s a plyometric leg strength workout set to music that’s actually fun (aka – the opposite of box jumps).  I’m going to try to keep a 30 min session on the plan once a week.  That sluggish feeling I’m having in the legs on my tri runs?  I think this will help.

We also hit up adult skate night.  Its always a lot of fun, great cardio, and definitely works some different muscles than anything run/bike/swim/weights.


This week included fourth of July celebrations, including staying up WAYYYYY too late the night before, a crab boil at a friend’s house with a bunch of gamers – so we played games (munchkin and quarkle, I won both because that’s how I roll) and drank some beer.  We had intended on watching the fireworks at the water park from the lazy river, but you couldn’t actually see them there and it got cold (??? – I remember a 4th a few years ago where it was 106, at fireworks time it was 75 degrees…) so we watched dry in the parking lot.  On the drive home, it was fun to watch the various displays in neighborhoods.

We spent the weekend building an outdoor cage for our iguana (it’s SO CLOSE to done, but we measured the doors wrong) and getting into a new (for me) game called Clash of Clans.  I’m kinda hooked.  I got eaten alive by mosquites, but it was nice to have some outdoor patio time.  This month has been pretty amazingly temperate for July in the ATX.  I went down the scary scary waterslide on Sunday and felt pretty proud of myself.

I ate like a decent human being, but there certainly was a lot of booze.

Week 3:


Took runs into the treadmill this week because my sleep schedule has adjusted itself to the point where it’s hard to get up before 8:30am.  Legs actually feel pretty speedy in the AC.  Still keeping up with the weights as well and lots of DDR on other days to try and stave off the blerch.

I’ve given up on tracking food.  I decided I didn’t want that headache.  However, I have stayed really low on the sugar and wheat type carbs so I’m happy about that.  Not a whole lot of junk food, just trying to let myself continue to adjust to not eating crap, and allowing the booze cruise to continue as I feel like it since that will be not nearly as frequent once we’re training 10+ hours a week.  Also, it’s been the exception and not the rule, but we’ve checked out some new restaurants (new bbq place was tha bomb, though this was Zliten’s plate, not mine).


My pants feel a little tight some days, and the scale hasn’t been super nice, but it’s the kind of weight that just needs a serious week or two of being good to shed.  I’m not worried.

More weekend busybodying ensued.  We did the water park Friday night, packet pickup Saturday afternoon, a casino party Saturday night (I stayed away from the paid games but I WON BEER PONG!  I feel so early 20s again), water park again on Sunday afternoon, and fancy dinner and a jazz concert at night.

Also, Orange is the New Black was discovered and my sleep schedule got even more fucked up.  I can’t think of the last time a show made me stay up until 4am on a school night MULTIPLE TIMES.

Week 4:


This week has been getting ready.  Getting ready for a release at work.  Getting ready for an adventure.  I got to run in the rain.  I worked up a sweat playing a video game.  I have felt a little hermity on social media as well as social life I think simply because I have been so social.  I never have considered myself an introvert, but I do definitely miss the time practicing endurance sport because I am so within myself.  Rummaging around in my own brain, seeing what’s there.

I’m on the edge of being mentally ready and excited to jump into the next 4 months or so of building up for a 70.3 and a marathon and I think one more week will only push me over the cliff.  My legs definitely want to run more, and next week, I’m going to let them (no plan, no specific pace but exploring pavement and trails and beach).  I kind of want to see my bike again and I think pedaling a cruiser up the coast will only remind me of evilbike love.  I’m ready to go play in the lake and go back to bodies of water with lap lanes along with the water slides.  I think I’ve split the difference and have taken a long enough break to be ready to rock, while also not completely let myself go (we’ll see).

Reminding myself there is a place in my life for moments to go out with friends all weekend and stay up late engrossed in a TV show and spend the weekend building a project is good.  It helps me put it in perspective – I like indulging in other aspects of my life, but I do miss the training when it’s gone (even if it takes a few weeks)! I make the choice to train this hard because I love it, even if sometimes I dread a specific workout or think longingly about my friends who’s idea of a long workout is an hour spin class three times a week, I make the decision to prioritize that in my life.  Except for the periods of the year when I don’t.

One more offseason update coming whenever I feel like it (because that’s part of offseason), and then I’ll start talking about late season ’14 goals and plans.

I’d Rather Be Terrified Than Bored

So, so busy with work, and I’ve learned that if I don’t fill my life with training, I jam pack it with other things, so this whole free time thing I thought I’d have?  Yeah… not so much…

However, I wanted to pop in and share a few offseason things.

Lessons a water slide taught me:


We obtained a season pass to the water park approximately two weeks ago and have gone four times (and plan on five and probably six this weekend).  It’s not the largest park but it has a wave pool, a lazy river, and about 10 different slides to go down.  This is where my inner child comes out to play, I can’t be stressed or sad or down at the water park.

We made it through all the slides but one – and it’s a doozy.  You start by ascending six stories up.  Then, you step onto this clear plexiglass platform and a clear “coffin” closes around you.  There’s a countdown and then the plexiglass drops out from under you, and you shoot straight down those six stories, hoping you don’t die, and also hoping that you don’t get a free chlorinated enema.

I had no interest in this slide, but Zliten decided to go ride it.  I told him to go without me.  I sat at the bottom of the slide for about two minutes, and then ascended the stairs, waited in line with a bunch of other scared people, climbed on that plexiglass (and started to climb off but stopped myself), listened to the countdown and screamed my ass off when that plexiglass dropped me.

And, yeah, it was terrifying, but it really wasn’t so bad.  The antici…..pation was the worst part.

And, I learned that I remain the type of person who would rather be terrified than bored.  And I like that.

Case Study Two:  Roller skating


I used to love roller skating as a kid – besides my bike it was actually a main form of transportation for me, I didn’t just do it in a rink, I skated all over town.  I got pretty good and tricksy on my four wheels – while my friends were rollerblading, I enjoyed the stability and front stopping of my skates and could do some jumps and spins and the like.

Of course, I hung up the skates when I started seriously doing gymnastics, and I’ve only just started getting back on skates occasionally in the last few years at adult skate night.

It always takes warming up (holy crap, how did I ever use these things), to feeling decent on my feet, to feeling fast and nimble going forward (so it’s time to start being silly and dancing while skating), to feeling brave enough halfway through the night and go backwards.  Then, I start the progression again of feeling awkward, to ok, to pretty good and then backwards skate is over and I turn back around.

By the end of the night I’ve gotten brave enough to do some eagles around the corners, maybe a shoot the duck, and maybe even some spins.

Could I enjoy a night of skating forward, slowly?  Maybe.  Probably not.  Because I know I can do more.  Going backwards the first time or doing the first trick is a bit scary, and I know it’s above and beyond the requirement to have fun at the activity I’ve chosen.  However, to me, it’s boring.  And I’d rather be terrified than bored.

Also, my choices for activities show that I’m about 11 years old, but we’ll leave that one alone this time.

The Chicken Rice Veggies Experiment

You guys, I have been having SO MUCH FUN being a normal person for the last week.  I haven’t really missed training yet, and that’s definitely a sign that it was time for some offseason.


However, one part of my offseason promise to myself was that I would work on cleaning up what goes in my piehole.  Case in point – within 36 hours of the race finishing, I had eaten a burger and fries, pizza, and (unhealthy) mexican food.  It was bad, y’all.  I knew I had to get my shit under control or the severe lack of calorie burn would bloat me up real quick.

Zliten was feeling it too and jokingly said he was going to just eat the penultimate (non-paleo/non-low carb) diet meal of chicken rice and veggies all week.  Well, I thought about it, and it was an interesting challenge to make that boring meal fun while still keeping it healthy.

So, starting Monday, we did three meals a day of chicken, a rice product, and veggies.  Snacks could be chicken, a rice product, veggies, fruit, or nuts.

I also endeavored to:

1. Not have more than 3 serving of rice products per day (not too many carby things even if they were rice things)

2. Try to stick to brown or complex carb rices.

3. Try to keep the sauce calories low-ish if possible.

Here’s some of the food.


I had a lot of salads.  This particular one was from Whole Foods, but salads are great snacks and foods.  Below was a chicken tzatziki + veggie wrap in a brown rice tortilla (I had that twice).

I also had some wine this week, and it made me remember, I really do quite like wine.  I have been beer beer beer for so long, I forgot.  And, it’s grapes, so it’s fruit, right?


Moar salad, and while it looks like not chicken rice veggies, it totally is.  Those are chicken onion meatballs with brown rice pasta in tomato sauce.


A cornucopia of chicken rice veggie – another greek wrap, veggie chips (not 100% healthy but definitely enjoyed a few servings as a salty snack), dried coconut, rice rollers (not brown rice, but a nice treat with puffed rice and a tiny bit of cane syrup – only 45 calories and a GREAT vehicle for sun butter), grilled chicken with parmesan garlic brown rice and raw carrots because I was too lazy to cook veggies.

And bourbon.  Which, I thought was cheating but it’s actually made from corn, so its sort of a veggie in the way that wine is a fruit.  Right?  Actually, one reason I went SO diet clean was I knew I wanted to celebrate offseason with a few drinks, so I figured it would balance it out.

Going out with chicken rice and veggies actually found me some pretty great meals.

  • Chicken tortilla soup and salad bar at Whole Foods
  • Chicken salad w/brown rice at Chipotle
  • Chicken+veggie tikka masala w/basamati rice at Naanful
  • Chicken and broccoli with brown fried rice at Shu Shu’s.

What did I learn?

Chicken, rice, and veggies is pretty much the perfect food for me.  Expanded out to brown rice pasta and brown rice tortillas, I really had no want for anything besides brown rice bread (and honestly, with the tortillas, I was ok) and some variation in protein (fish a few times a week, and beef once or twice) would have been nice, but I was just fine, thanks.

It’s hard to say exactly why, since it was such a stark contrast to the crap I was eating the week before, I was not training, and sleeping a lot, but I felt REALLY GOOD.

Also, I think a little LESS fiber did me good.  I tend to eat a lot of fiber when I’m eating a high volume of food and then I feel bloated.

I tried to track my food, but I only made it through to Wednesday.  Oops.  Baby steps.  I definitely am back to eating 90% good stuff and 10% other stuff, so that’s something.

Going forward?  It’s obvious to me that I do better structuring my meals with a protein, a healthy carb, and a veggie instead of eating crap like burgers or pizza.  Duh.  It helped me detox the sweets – I only had one sweet thing all week and it was half a pancake and it was amazingly sweet and awesome and tasted like a treat, not an all the time food.  I want it less.  Fruit is a treat too.  More duh.

This week I plan to vary up the protein sources, and not strictly avoid carbs besides rice (beans, I have missed you!), but I plan to stick with the brown rice pasta and tortillas instead of whole wheat ones – I think they taste better, actually.  I’m going to try to go with only one carby thing per meal, especially while I’m not training so much.

If I had to pick one meal for the rest of my life, chicken rice and veggies wouldn’t have been the first thing that came to mind, but it would certainly do me well!

Question of the week: What healthy food would you eat for the rest of your life if you could only eat one thing?

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