Saturday, April 12, 2014

Rice-Less Sushi and Kirin Beer Tasting

“I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Millennial Central for Kirin. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

I love sushi. There, I said it. I have a very deep, ongoing, and near-spiritual relationship with the nori, the soy sauce and the fatty deliciousness of raw salmon. I also have an aversion to work and the actual creation of said sushi.  I have all the super-handy tools for rolling sushi, but the lazy woman in me would really just prefer to order takeout. Lately, Tim and I have been making rice-less sushi. Yes, this is an aberration, and yes, technically I guess it is just sashimi once you've taken out the rice.

However, cucumbers make an effective salmon and cream cheese delivery system, so don't knock it until you try it.

Option #1: Seriously Lazy. No, like REALLY, REALLY LAZY.

-Slice cucumbers
-Spread cream cheese on said cucumbers
-Layer on chunks of raw salmon

Option #2: The Unecessary 

-Hollow out a cucumber
-Fill with a layer of cream cheese, a layer of salmon and a sprinkle of nori (dried seaweed)
-Eat like a cucumber boat of deliciousness that looks ugly but tastes fantastic

I did warn you re: ugliness

Option #3: The Nori Sandwich

-Spread a thick layer of cream cheese onto a square piece of nori
-Put sliced cucumbers and salmon on one half of the nori
-Fold in half
-Munch en route to somewhere super important. Or in front of the TV. Whichever.

Obviously, you can mix up these options with ingredient variations. Tuna, shrimp, pickled carrots and avocado are all tasty. I just happen to like the classic winning combo of salmon and cream cheese.

Just because we are half-assing the sushi, it doesn't mean we half-ass our drinks selections. I got sent some Kirin Ichiban beer and Kirin Light to taste and pair with a meal, so this was that opportunity. Living in Asia has given use plenty of chances to try Asian beers, but I am personally more familiar with the Tsing Taos/Singhas/Tigers of the world, and I don't know if I have actually ever tried Kirin before. (Spoiler: it totally tastes like beer!)

The color of the Kirin Ichiban vs the Kirin Light was apparent once we poured them into glasses:

Taste-wise, there was a clear winner to me: the original was better. Unsurprising, really. The light has fewer calories (95 to the original's 145), but it also has about 25% less alcohol. So, if you want to match someone beer for beer, or you don't want to get too dehydrated at a summer barbecue, Kirin Light is the way to go. Otherwise? Original, please. To my completely unrefined palate, it tasted like a German wheat beer, and it was perfect to pair with a really fatty dish like cream cheese/salmon.

Oddly enough, Tim loved the Kirin Light. I'll be honest and say that each sip, to me, tasted like water with a beer aftertaste. Not a glowing recommendation, right? But he loved it, and thought it was really refreshing and something he could drink a lot of. Since he has undoubtedly consumed more beer in his lifetime than I have, I will have to assume he knows what he's talking about.

I will say I was kind of disappointed when I read the label and saw that Kirin was another Anheuser-Busch product that was licensed - so, actually made in the United States. Not in a pretentious, "I only drink beer from abroad," kind of way, but I think it's fun to try food/beverages as they are consumed around the world. Apparently, some places in Japan and the U.S. serve draft Kirin with a frozen-beer slushy portion served on the top of the glass! I could get on board with that.

Are you a sushi roll kind of person? Or do you prefer nigiri, cones, sashimi, etc?
Nigiri, rolls, hand rolls - whatever. I like it all. 

Your thoughts on a beer slurpy. Go.
I am intrigued. Yes to keeping the beer cold as you drink it, but I'm not sure if it would be too cold to have any real flavor. Side bar: now I want a wine slurpy. A lot.

NB: Lest ye long-time readers get the wrong idea, this beer is not gluten-free! It's 100% malt. I'm back on the gluten wagon, but I'll save that for another post :)

Learn more about Kirin Ichiban and their partnership with Iron Chef star Candice Kumai on Facebook!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Just a Little Bit Fickle

What's four months between friends, right? The last post I wrote was back in December, when I discussed the fact that Tim and I moved from Georgia to Seattle. The Pacific Northwest is beautiful, it has the best running weather, and there were bumper sticks with bleeding-heart liberal slogans on the back of every Eco-friendly car. I was in love.

Except things don't ever work out quite that simply, do they? Long story still pretty long (sorry about that), I am writing this post from Central Florida. A few months ago, from our apartment in Bellevue, Washington, Tim spotted his dream house. He has long been into Usonian-style homes a la Frank Lloyd Wright, and this random, run-down, 1950s house in the middle of nowhere, Florida, was perfect. But it was in Florida. And we JUST moved from Georgia to Washington.

But what's the point of being flexible, being child-less and having a work-from-home job unless you take advantage of it? So we did. The house was previously inhabited by an older couple who were, essentially, hoarders. We tackled as much of the renovation as we could on our own over the past six weeks, but we had to call in the big guns for things like putting on a new roof and installing an air conditioning system. Most of the work, however, was cleaning. Imagine 30 years of dust and grease coated onto every surface of the house, and then sprinkle a healthy amount of cockroaches into that image. Yeah. Delightful.

From this(buckets for roof leaks, natch).... this (filters for that proud yuppie glow!)

Getting my sanding on.

I think the roof might have been a little rotten. Maybe.  

Morning sun in the interior atrium

Lest I sound like I'm complaining, I have been running straight out my front door around a lake each morning in amazing Florida weather. Don't hate. (Also, feel free to laugh in my face when I can't handle going outside in the heat for the entire summer.)

Views from my run

Basically, this is a post to a) explain my absence from the blog-o-sphere, b) explain why my Facebook location got changed, and c) rub everyone's nose in my nice sunny weather. I think I have accomplished all three perfectly, so I'm done now.

Obligatory question time!

Are you a DIY-enthusiast? Or a call-a-handyman-to-hang-a-picture-frame type person?
I'm the latter. No shame. We kind of had to do most of the stuff for the house that were were capable of doing, because $$$$, but I would much rather call in a pro and then blame them if it goes wrong. Thankfully, my husband is a lot more handy than I am. That being said, it feels really good to accomplish something with your own two hands.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Moving From Georgia to Washington

The last time I posted, I subtly mentioned, "moving to Washington" among a bunch of race recaps. I wanted to expand a little, but we were in the middle of selling our house in Georgia and spilling the details online seemed inappropriate.

So...yes, Tim and I sold our house in Georgia. The one we moved from Hong Kong to build. The one that taught us both how to use table saws and grout tile and put together IKEA furniture. (Just kidding. No one ever actually learns how to do that last one. It's a gamble every time.)

#nofilter #justkidding #somanyfilters

It absolutely was our dream house, and I am so thankful that we had the opportunity to tackle such a big project together. Tim discovered that he loves designing and carpentry, which are two things he never would have really had the chance to do much of in Hong Kong.

Unfortunately, there just wasn't a whole lot for us in Georgia. We had friendly neighbors and plenty of space, but the long drives to get to civilization and the lack of work opportunities for my husband made the decision easier for us to make. Plus, my job fits in my laptop and comes with me, so we were in the position to move and still have guaranteed income.

Just like we kind of randomly picked Georgia to call home, we kind of randomly picked Washington. I don't love the extreme hot or the extreme cold (call me Goldilocks), and the Pacific Northwest obviously has some incredible scenery, so it was a top contender. The Seattle area also has a number of colleges and universities with international students, which is ideal for my husband's line of work. Plus, Vietnamese food. Everywhere. And sushi. We went to the same sushi place the first three or four days after we arrived because we were so deprived.

From our first hike in WA: Poo Poo Point Lookout
Seattle it is! Technically, we are outside of Seattle in a place called Bellevue. We haven't purchased a new home yet, and we are definitely playing it by ear to see what we like and don't like about various areas before we decide.

Like: Kinda pretty, I guess.

Don't Like: Posturing weirdos on hikes

Anyway, I'm really out of practice with this blogging stuff. I can't remember where I put the oatmeal pictures and whether you need to see my Garmin stats or not. Running-wise I'm completely unmotivated and over it. Burned out, big time. Which is perfect, because I am supposed to be running a 50k on Saturday. That should be fun. (Insert sarcasm here.) Expect a post post-race where I either swear off running forever or sign up for a billion marathons.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Race Recaps: 8 Months of Races in One Surprisingly Short Post

Trying to recap a single race in a standard blog post is tough, but trying to recap eight months of races at once? Nearly impossible. Thankfully, I have forgotten most of the details about the races I've completed since March, which you'll appreciate since it cuts down on the reading.

If my calculations are correct (they probably aren't), I ran 6 races between March and October. These varied from a one-mile race with a field of eight to a full 26.2 on trails, and they took place in Georgia, Tennessee and Washington.

1 Mile: Market Street Mile, Chattanooga, TN, June 2013 (6:48)
I don't know why I thought this was a good idea. "I hate 5ks, but what could be better than running for less time and wanting to puke even more? Yes! A one-mile race!" It was actually kind of fun because they did it in heats, so I was only racing against other women between 20-29. I, uh, lost. I don't remember what place I took - out of 8 - but I distinctly remember it being toward the end.

5k: Run For John, Dalton, GA, April, 2013 (23:58)
This is known as a super-hilly course in the area, but the downhills were nice so it wasn't as bad as I imagined. It rained slightly, but this was still a 5k PR for me, with a 7:43 pace. Plus, I got second in my age group. (Ahem, this was out of four. I'll take it.)

10k: Riverbend Race, Chattanooga, TN, June 2013 - DNS
This is embarrassing. I picked up my packet a week in advance, and then ignored the date. I thought the race was on a Sunday, until I saw people posting their results on Facebook - on Saturday morning. Good times.

15k: Chickamauga Chase, Ft. Oglethorpe, GA, April 2013- (1:16:44)
This was a fantastic race! I got there late and didn't get a chance to warm up, but I don't think it mattered much in the end. 8:14 pace overall was fast enough to get me second place in my age group, which was framed artwork depicting the Chickamauaga Battlefield (where the race takes place).  I really loved this distance and would like to do another one. Not painfully fast, but short enough to recover from quickly.

13.1: Tehaleh Trail Half Marathon, Bonney Lake, Washington, September 2013 (2:12:38)
I raced this about a week or two after we moved to the Seattle area, so it was a pretty great way to experience running in the Pacific Northwest. Obviously, it rained. A lot. But most of the course was pretty, if laden with mud puddles, and I came in fourth out of 14th in my age group.  Also, this will be remembered as the race where photographers took insane amounts of photos, and one makes me look hardcore. The other 14 will not be shown on the blog. 1 out of 14 isn't bad for race photos, right?

13:1: Ft. Steilacoom Trail Half Marathon, Tacoma, Wa, October 2013 (2:05:16)
I had so much fun at my first trail half in Washington, I immediately went home and signed up for another in the same race series. (Evergreen Trail Runs) I'm in love with them - small, cheap and you only have to show up 15 minutes before the start. Heaven. This was a pretty flat-ish trail, and I snuck in as 5th out of 20 in my age group.

26.2: Scenic City Trail Marathon, Chattanooga, TN, May 2013 (4:44:41)
This is the third time I participated in this race, but in 2011 and 2012 I just did the half. The full was, as you might imagine, twice the fun. Amazing course, scenic, challenging and fantastic. I wish I could run it again!

Post-Race at Scenic City Trail Marathon

If there is one thing you notice about all of these races, it is that they are small. The reasons for this include:
1) I'm cheap. Small races = cheaper race entries.
2) I'm lazy. Getting to the race 15 minutes before the start? Yes, please.
3) I'm full of myself. Placing in an age of group of four is a lot easier than in a field of 1,000.

What to do you prefer? Big races or small races?
I will say that I like the swag at big races. The smaller races generally don't give out bling, which I am a big fan of. Expo crap I can do without, but I love the medals.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ragnar Las Vegas (Subtitle: I Think I'm Back?!)

Although I like to pretend that you have all been waiting around with bated breath, the reality is that many of you might not have noticed that I have stepped away from blogging, has it really been eight months? Crazy.

In that time my work has ramped up big time (don't worry, I still get to write from home in my pajamas), I have had the chance to run some great races and I even moved, with husband and three cats in tow, to the Pacific Northwest.

So, what brought me out of my self-induced blogging retirement? Ragnar Relay Las Vegas. This was my second chance to run a relay (first being Hood to Coast 2012), and it was every bit as fantastic as I had hoped. Unfortunately, that isn't because I secretly love being cold and cramped in a van for 30 hours. It is because I like being surrounded by awesome people who want to eat, breath and sleep (or not sleep) running.

If you aren't familiar with the typical relay set-up, it involves a team of 12 running 36 legs, which totals anywhere from 185-200 miles. This particular adventure started on Mt. Charleston, just outside of Las Vegas, and ended in Lake Mead. My van of six consisted of:

Runner #1: Nicole
This woman just gave birth four months ago, but you would NEVER guess it.  She was incredibly fast and tackled the very first (hilly!) leg of the race. However, I have a feeling she had an advantage. From the little I know of parenting newborns, a nap in a van is basically equivalent to a full night of sleep for her, right? Nicole lives near me now, so I plan on getting her expert opinion on races nearby.

Runner #2: Kelsey
I used to live 90 minutes from Kelsey, and she is a complete sweetheart with one of those adorable southern accents. Seriously, she could be insulting me straight to my face and I would just be picturing Scarlett O'Hara and a big 'ol glass of sweet tea. I can't remember how many times this past weekend Kelsey said, "This is SO MUCH FUN!" I love how much joy she brought to the group.

Runner #3: Sandy
I was super excited to meet Sandy! She has a clear goal for running, and has had one for some time. Hey, her entire blog is named after getting to Boston! I really appreciate how hard she works to accomplish her dream, and she doesn't shy away from knowing what she wants. She totally underestimates how fast she is, and I really can't wait to see her succeed.

Runner #4: Caroline
Sweet Caroline! This lovely lady has been in my van twice out of two relays, so it has become clear that I am incapable of running an event like this without her. Thank you, Caroline, for your incredible playlists, fantastic photography skills and hilarious personality.

Runner #5: Zoë
Serving as both driver and runner of the MOST MILES on the team, Zoe pretty much put all of us to shame. After little sleep and lots of running, I can barely walk in a straight line, but Zoë managed to maneuver that van with style.  Plus, being the mother to perhaps the cutest little girl ever bumps her up even further on my list. Zoë: I am a fantastic babysitter. I work for hugs. Call me.

Runner #6: That's me!
I won't give myself a descriptive paragraph, because that's just odd.

Pure joy at being finished!

Alright, now I am going to try to recap the awesomeness of the relay as quickly as possible. Ready?

Thursday: Flew into Las Vegas, checked into a pyramid. Overpriced frozen yogurt. Water bottles that cost the same as bars of gold. New and old friends. Sleep.

Friday Morning: Relay begins! Drove to Mt. Charleston. Ears popped at 8,000 feet elevation. Snow. Let me repeat: Snow. In the Nevada desert. Confusion.

Friday Afternoon: Um, night. Not used to this early sunset thing. I ran my first leg in the dark, which was rerouted at the last minute. Four miles at 7:56 pace - obviously some downhills! Dinner at Chili's. Good times.

Friday Night: My leg two was a midnight uphill 10-miler through Red Rock Canyon. Apparently, it looks like this during the day:

 For me, it looked like this:

My knuckle lights died after mile 2, I had a near panic attack and my phone battery was dying. Basically, I am completely unprepared and a giant baby. I called my husband to tell him I might die in the desert, cried at the finish and then forgot about it altogether within minutes. Running is fun!

Saturday Morning: My final leg, and it was in daylight! Hallelujah. It was just under 3.5 miles, a lot of it was downhill, and my pace was 8:05. I was spurred on substantially by a van full of crazy ladies with cowbells signing "Call Me Maybe" on the side of the road. Oops, did I say crazy ladies? I meant fantastic teammates.

Saturday Afternoon: Finish Line! We waited around at the finish so we could watch Van 2 of our team come in. It was hot, sunny and absolutely beautiful.

For full disclosure, I have to say that the team was sponsored by Nuun and Pro Compression. It isn't really a secret that I love Nuun, but Pro Compression was kind to me. I have to admit that prior to this weekend, I had never wore their compression socks at all. Normally, I wear Swiftwick compression socks because, uh, I'm a cheapskate and they are the cheapest ones I can find that work.

Anyhow, Pro Compression has kind of converted me. I have to say that the two brands (Swiftwick and Pro Compression) are still pretty much equal in my opinion, but Pro Compression has cuter colors/patterns. I think that Pro Compression socks are normally $50 - kind of pricey - but you can almost always find a discount code for 30-40% off.

P.S. For reading this entire post, you get a prize! Kind of. Nuun and Pro Compression have discounts, and they are as follows:

Code: ragnarvegas
Good for: 20% order
Expires: 12/31/13

Code: nuunpc
Good for: 40% off + free shipping
Expires: 12/31/13

Also, I have to say that, obviously, six women does not a 12-person team make. Van 2 was a great group of five women and one sparkly-skirt-wearing man. Although I didn't get to spend as much time with this group, they all seemed pretty fantastic.

The whole group!
Next up, I attempt to recap all of the races from the past eight months in a single post. (And you thought this post was long!)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A 2-Mile PR and Some Festive Socks

On Thursday night, I ran a small 2-mile race that was just about 30 minutes from home - the Dalton St. Patrick's Day 2-Miler. And, uh...I really don't know how to make a post out of a 2-mile race. I ran hard, and it was over quickly. The end.

I guess I'll elaborate, because otherwise there really is no point to this blog, is there?

It was a weird race time - 6:30 p.m. I had a pretty regular day of work beforehand, and ate normally but avoided veggies for the day, just in case. Then I pestered my husband and made him get up, go outside and take a series of pictures to prove that I dressed up for a race. He loved it. He really loves when I make him take pictures of me for the Internet. It's his favorite pastime.

I got to the race, registered on the spot and met a friend of mine to run the course as a warm-up. I think we ran the two miles at about a 10:30 pace, taking it really easy, but we did throw in a few 10-second strides at a faster pace.

The race takes place at a local church and is really family-friendly, which means that there are a lot of kids. Luckily, they made a big deal about only letting people who could run 2 miles UNDER 15 minutes at the front, which stopped some of the younger kids from getting caught up in the start and making things too chaotic. (For the record, I didn't join the speedy folks at the front, despite *spoiler alter* eventually finishing under 15 minutes).

At the start, I had my eye on a lady who typically finishes ahead of me and tried to stick with her. The first mile was 7:04, which made me so excited, because part of it was uphill. Clearly that wore me out, because even with the corresponding downhill on the second mile I slowed right down. It was hard. I was out of breath. But it was awesome.

Photo Courtesy of the Photographers at the Local High School

Final time: 14:54, 1st place in my age group, 5th woman overall (7:27 pace)

Yep, I'll take that. I had a goal of 15 minutes for this race, and I got there with a few seconds to spare. It took me a couple of minutes to breathe properly afterwards, which I think means I worked for that time. Isn't that the best case scenario? Wanting to die during the race but feeling amazing after the fact? Perfect.

Of course, scooping up some bling was fun too. Loved that part a little bit.

My friend Julie and I and our AG medals

Anyone else run a St. Patrick's Day race this weekend?
I know a few people who were in Atlanta for the Publix half and full, which I ran last year (the half!) 

Just a heads up...I had someone email me about running a race this with IT band pain, which is a valid question! I understand that I am treading a fine line between resting, strengthening the area and maintaining my running fitness. I feel lucky that I have almost no pain as long as I foam roll before a run and warm-up properly, but that isn't the same for everyone!