#VeganFoodQuestNYC

You know how July 4th happened. On Wednesday. And then New York City happened on that Saturday!

The Plan

Catie and I will go to NYC. We will run our training distance for the day in Central Park. Then we will explore the city with emphasis on vegan food and drinks. It will be a day trip. Leave at 0600, be back in Washington at 2200. It will be another one for me and a first for Catie. Destination Training, is what we call it. It will be filed under #VeganFoodQuestNYC. There will be more #VeganFoodQuests in other cities.

The Goal

I had one more goal, as I told Amy at dinner Friday night, to outdrink Catie. Something that I have never  been able to do but tried and failed. She can usually hold her alcohol well and me, not so much. So it’s a big deal for me. Shh… Catie doesn’t know (cheating, I know).

The Execution

0600. Saturday. Oh wait, 0530. Union Station, Washington DC. We are in the line to board the train that departs at 0600 to NYC. Catie is excited, being her first Amtrak ride and her first visit to NYC. In fact, her first time north of Baltimore, ever! What we were supposed to do, according to the plan, was to keep our backpacks at Amtrak storage in New York Penn station and walk to 59th and 5th and run 5 miles, come back to Penn station, change to non-sweaty clothes and eat at as many vegan restaurants as possible and drink as much alcohol as possible before heading back in the evening.

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You can see we are both so sleepy!

Right after we got to Penn station, we had a setback on step 2 of our plan, the run. Due to events not in our control, we could not run. No biggie, right? sweat_emoji We’ll run in Washington on Sunday. facepalm3 We decided to not cry over spilt soymilk and enjoy the day. After all in we are in New York City and it’s a beautiful day!

by Chloe: First of many vegan food destinations of the day. That breakfast was just amazing.

Brooklyn Bridge: We walked all the way to Brooklyn Bridge. I have walked and ran across the bridge in the past. But it always is a fascinating experience. Except this time it was packed, I’ve never seen that many people on the bridge ever before!

Urban Vegan Kitchen: One Green Planet and HappyCow told us about this restaurant. I had a feeling I’ve been there before and sure enough, I have. You can add any alcohol to any juice to make your own cocktail there. Sweet, right! Their chickpea hushpuppies are da bom! Since we were not hungry enough, also with the plan to hit more vegan places, we just had the hushpuppies. Lunch #1.

Jack’s Wife Freda: While we are planning our trip, we came across an article in One Green Planet about the best breakfast and brunch places in the country. Since One Green Planet is a vegan focused publication, we assumed that Jack’s Wife Freda, which was on the list, was a vegan establishment. I really wanted to go there. I was looking at the map to find the location and Catie goes “look across the street”. And there it was, directly across the street from Urban Vegan Kitchen! We went in, looked at the menu and realized it is not a vegan restaurant. We read the One Green Planet review again and realized that they were talking about just this one tofu dish, Mustard seed crusted tofu, on their menu. Sure we tried it. Hands down, the best tofu I’ve ever eaten! Bonus, meeting one of the vibrant bartenders ever, Fitch. She told us to definitely come back as she was shaking a cocktail, incorporating a full body dance move! Lunch #2.

Mother of Pearl: The last stop in our quest. Incredible how everything – food, drinks, weather, our attitudes – kept getting better and better as the day progressed! Mother of Pearl was a fitting finale for an amazing day. Fully vegan Polynesian restaurant. It was so hard to choose what to order! We ordered everything. We had to try hard to finish our third entrèe (nothing to do with the taste, in fact the amazing taste was the only reason we could finish, we were just too full at that point) and realized that one more, the biggest one of our order, is yet to come. I don’t wanna get into the details, it was bad, all the way back to Washington. see-no-evil-monkey.png Dinner#1?

New York weather was super kind to us, with a high of a perfect 69°! Altogether we walked 13 miles in Manhattan. I think that covers the 5 miles that we were supposed to run? No? Fine. facebook-sad-smiley-facebook-symbols-and-chat-emoticons-Do1w2U-clipart

And how am I gonna burn all the extra calories from the week?

The Win

On the way back, in the train, Catie says “Did you realize you drank way more than me. That has never happened before, you know that, right?”!

YES!

Wut?

Did she know my secret goal? I know she didn’t but it was killer finish to the best day evuh, that she acknowledged it and that it was her who brought it up after all!

It’s the small things!

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Trail Half Marathon PR!

I can’t remember my half marathon PR. I’m pretty sure that it’s under 1:55 (ish). Anway, it’s been a while since I ran one under 2:00.

When I run, whether a race or a training run, I use apps – Strava, Run Keeper, Nike running, and Charity Miles. All of them. Run Keeper was the first app I ever used, been using it since 2008. So I have long history there. Strava because that’s where most of my friends are. Nike, because I have an Apple watch and also because I think that is the most accurate in tracking. Charity Miles because they give money to Girls on the Run, every time I run! What’s funny though, is that none of these apps give me consistent numbers. Then again, there are some factors that affect the tracking numbers, such as, when the app was turned on, how long it took for the app to start tracking, whether the app was able to maintain continuous connection with satellites etc.

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There is a local group in DC that puts out races throughout the year called Bishop’s Events. Most of their Washington races are at the C&O Canal Towpath, at the west end of Georgetown. Yes, trail races! The courses are typically super flat.

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Sunday morning, 7:30. I ran the EOD Warrior Half Marathon, benefiting the EOD Warrior Foundation. It was close to 80° at the start, and like 84° at the finish. But at least it was a flat course! My apps kept messing up through the race, I could here the alert “pausing” pretty much throughout the race. Anyway, as I was running past the finish line I glanced at the official clock and it read 2:05 (or was it 2:15?). download (1)Hmm… not bad, I thought. I was on the third wave to start, so I must have finished faster than the time on the clock. Good. I walked to the bus stop and caught the Union Station – Georgetown Cirulator home.

Met up with Catie for a post race brunch. Tofu scrambles, roasted potatoes, and beers. I love brunches especially with awesome people.

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She’s wearing my funky glasses! lol

As always, my watch and my phone were inundated with notifications, mails, texts, Instagram, Facebook. Everything. Ugh.

‘Ugh’ because lately, I have been on a path to bring my phone addiction under control. (Yes, I enabled notifications because it works for me sometimes.) What I mean is, when I am spending time with people I like, I am gonna try not to waste time on the phone. Be present at the present, not disrespect the company. Because, life is short. Your fiends are precious. And time is irrecoverable. There. Pearls of Wisdom for you. You are welcome.

OK OK, back to the story. I was still stealing glances at the notifications that kept coming in. I was on my 3rd(I think) beer when I saw a mail from Bishop’s. I had to see it so I apologized to Catie and looked at the mail. Of course, the race results. I finished in….

wait for it….

1:56!!!36088159_10155841340031886_1645877570006155264_n

Wha…! I drank more beer.

A trail half marathon PR!

Can I get a BOOYAH!!!

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Poor Catie, and the sweet waitress Cat at Meridian Pint, they had to listen to me brag, shamelessly, for the rest of the brunch. But they were super nice about it. I:56 is no biggie, in the grand scheme of things. Probably puts me at the top 40%. But this was a power performance, individually. No proper training, and the heat. And it was a trsai race. I hardly ever run trails lately! Also, for some personal reasons. I needed this. I pulled it off. Also, I decided to run this race just 4 days prior! Congratulations Saiju. You are a rockstar. You da man! (See,… bragging…)

And the fucking apps. Of course the numbers on my apps were incorrect! Nike gave me 10.07 miles. Strava 8.69 miles. Run Keeper 10.15. And IDGAF about Charity Miles numbers, the only reason I turn it on to get Girls on the Run some money when I run.

Unrelated: I went to went to Suns Cinema with Amy in the evening and watched The Beaches of Agnes. The movie was not at all what I was expecting but the experience was amazing. Small “theatre” that sits about 30 peeps, with a bar at the back of the hall where I drank the 8th beer of the day!

Bootcamp with my badass trainer Katie every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings is an event I look forward to and try my best to never miss (thru VIDA Fitness). It is a tough workout, every single time, where I typically burn a 1000+ kcal. So early in the morning, the day after the race, I had to go to bootcamp! Guess what, I burned 1200! How I was physically able to do that? Hey, thanks for asking. Since going vegan, recovery time is just a light suggestion, not at all a requirement.

Vegan Power!!!

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*Screen shot from MyZone app.

Limitless

I should have titled this “weightless” or “weightloss” or something to do with “weight”. But limitless has more drama. Plus that’s how I feel lately. download (1)

I go to a group workout, bootcamp, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Through Vida Fitness, the #1 gym in DC. Wednesdays there’s a bootcamp in the evening as well which I just started going to. Yes, 2 bootcamps, 1 day. Typically I burn over a 1000 kcal during one of those 50 minute sessions. Easily. BTW, my badass trainer Katie runs these bootcamps! raising-hands

About 5 weeks back, I started on a path to eat better. Yes I am a plant based athlete but it does not automatically mean I am a healthy eater. I am one of those *junk food vegans* (JFV)! Yes, it’s a thing. Well, lemme say, I WAS, a JFV. Enter the two new beautiful human vegans. Around the same time! They started “addressing” my bad food habits. Got called out on the following:

I don't like most vegetables (I knowEye-roll.fw_-300x300). 
Love me all the fried stuff. Samosas, fries yumm... 
I snack all the time. 
Cupcakes and donuts - all of them! emoji5
Potatoes: All.the.way.
Bread. Bread. Bread.

Long story short, I dropped 8 lbs in less in that 5 weeks. Probably the healthiest weight loss in history. Hit me up if you like to know the specifics.

Wait…

I drank more beer in that same 5 weeks than the entirety of last year. Honest! Then how…? c60e666a9af7bcd1a7b887437b3520c3_384 I know. 4 out of 5 of the recent weekends, I burned 6000+ calories, each (Saturday and Sunday combined). Work hard play hard, right homies? Run, bike, HIIT, yoga, and wait for it….

Zumba!

I’m a Zumba bitch now. emoji-cool-guy-pillow-with-cool-blue-hair--82F6B28D.zoom

I am not trying to be a role model here. Nor I am trying to tell you anything good about approaching workouts and weight loss. A lil bragging? May be. emoji-happy-thumbs-up.jpg

This morning, it was 78° – 80° during bootcamp. It was just me at the group class so Katie worked out with me. SeaMoji-boom I love working out with Kaite, my favorite sessions. Something extra in the way she pushes me as a workout partner, from a trainer!

OK OK, back to the story. It was so humid, the heat index must have been 85ish. Plus it was one tough workout! The old Saiju would have burned, like, 1200 kcal but I only burned about 900! img_5553 Even a minor change in body weight plays a big part in your performance! Truth. On Friday, I ran 3.5 miles with Katie at about 8:40 / mile! That’s a big deal. Yes, I am lighter on my feet, more agile, have more energy. Plus all the beer!

You know I am diabetic, right? I set an aggressive fucking goal for myself. I will reverse diabetes by the end of the year.

There.      Accountability…      created.

Poplar Springs 5K, TFW and Landa

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My first Team PETA Pack race is over where I lead the team from behind, as the team captain.  Hehe. From behind because I walked the race with my favorite people Audrey, Amy, Catie, and Melanie. And of course my favorite doggo, Gunner!

Kelly and Adam kicked serious ass with fast finishes. So proud of them! Then there was also Richa, John, Kat, Anna! All the vegan runners! download1f3c3-2640man-running

I ran to PETA DC volunteer party a couple of months back and was talking to people there about running. A couple of them expressed interest in running. From there to a 12 member team at Poplar Spring 5k, was a fun journey. A bunch of them were first time racers as well. Including Gunner! Our team performance was not that great. But like I told my Team Humane League friend Thomas, “we are not here to compete, we are here to contribute”. Zing… right?

PETA, very kindly created Team PETA Pack shirts for us. Beautiful shirts, I might add.

This is super exciting for me as Kelly and Katie signed up for their first half marathon, the Navy Air Force Half Marathon on September 16 in Washington DC! DGX9GyAXUAAGpIf.jpg That will be a PETA Pack race as well. Also this means we will be training through summer and hopefully nobody gets hurt. John and my super-athlete-mom-friend Landa may join our team as well. Oh and my runner / ex colleague friend Komal is already in.

I met Landa in Tallahassee in 2009 when for the first time in my life, I joined a “gym” Quotes because it was just a rented open space with no air-conditioning or anything and a bunch of us worked out together, we pooled in to pay the rent. It was called Train Fight Win. A few of us were actual trainers. I owe my athletic life to the founders L.A. and Mike. And my amazing trainers Alyssa, Brad, and Ray. I started doing races with them and they helped me with my first full marathon in Estes Park, CO. 101 continuous push ups, 1000 continuous squats, century bike race training, and training for a 500 mile, multi stage (7 days) bike ride etc.. We were a wild bunch.

Back to Landa.

I met Landa while she was a week away from delivering her baby. I looked at her as she was working out and thought we may have a baby on the floor before the end of this session! But no baby that day. Less than a month after her delivery, she was back at it. Less than 3 months after her delivery, she raced a triathlon! Whoa! Then again, I only associate myself with the best! She lives in NoVA now, ran MCM last year, less than a year after another baby! BTW, I’m proud to announce that I ran with Landa at her first half marathon in 2012.

Stand by for stories from what will be an amazing adventure with 2 first time half marathoners!

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Lady Saiju!

April

There is was a new Facebook group called DC Vegan Pickup Baseball. The idea is was to play baseball without any animal products involved, which means no leather gloves or regular baseball of softball. We play with tennis balls. And bare hands.

I met up with a few team members at our first event, but we couldn’t play baseball due the overwhelming number of tourists and protesters at the National Mall in DC.

Crap. sweat_emoji

The founder of the group, Corbett,  asked me if I can take over as admin of the group. I gleefully obliged. I suggested we play pickup soccer, which means smaller field and more doable. Success. Name of the group changed to DC Vegan Pickup Sports, we don’t wanna get sued, you know.

The plan is to get together every weekend and do something. Soccer, volley ball, biking, baseball, hiking, rugby (15c16cf39f5ab5b857081a285b1c2ecd--innovation-emojis.jpg), and as someone suggested, even pizza eating. Of course vegan pizza. (Personally I do not like vegan cheese but I’ll play)

The group is growing rapidly.

Prelude

My personal trainer George, at Vida Fitness, is a total badass. 6% BFP! Scared-Emoji I literally be begging for mercy at the end of each session. HIIT, core, iso, plyo… all of it.

I am the captain of DC PETA Pack running team that is racing at the Poplar Springs 5K which benefits Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary, in Poolesville MD. I am training a few first time racers as well.

I wake up at 4 AM every day. Then I go to the gym for a personal or group session. Or run. My friends are like “you are certifiably insane”. I’m like “awww thank you”. Needless to say I’ve never come met anyone who can match my energy or wake up at 4 AM or wanna do “things”, like, all the time. My experience is me begging my friends to do stuff and get a semi-yes then… nuthin. <sad violin emoji / bitmoji>

Kelly

I met Kelly through the new vegan group.

She wakes up at 4 AM to workout (so do I), like potatoes (so do I). She is vegan (so am I). More than enough reasons to celebrate a fellow human’s existence.

I took her to my HIIT session with George. And no, she wasn’t begging for marcy at the end of it (I was tho). She did not look like she was gonna collapse and die (I did tho).

She joined my PETA Pack team for Poplar Springs 5K. And she will join Catie and I at Navy Air Force Half Marathon in September. Yes, that is another PETA Pack race.

It these weren’t enough, for her to climb to the top of my list of favorite peoples,   ……

She hates Star Wars. images

SO DO I! download (1)

Kelly is the female Saiju.

Or what Kelly said “your are the male me”download

Goose Bumps

Prologue

Life is more than the sum of its parts. In my life, running is one part. Surviving a wild Canada Goose attack is another.

The Story

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Baltimore.

It was a crisp, chilly winter morning. I was in high spirits, and I had rhythm in my feet, coffee in my belly, music in my ears…. I was walking towards my office building.

Then I saw him.

He was in the middle of the walk way. He was alone. He looked like Gandalf trying to block Balrog (I have no idea what this reference means, Google gave it to me. I never read that stupid book, I have more self respect than that), waiting to stop me from entering.

OK OK. He was a Canada Goose. There are a bunch of them around the campus. They block traffic frequently, crossing the road, moving at a glacial place, wiggling their butts, with the full self knowledge that they can fucking fly if they want to. FLY! 800px_COLOURBOX20556388

Anyway, I recognized, with my expertise in ornithology, his aggressive posture. 29063764_10155668136651886_7604993273270156631_o (2) What to do? He is in the middle of the walkway, no other entrances or way to go around him. I could turn around and go back home to DC. Duh… the most obvious option. facepalm3        I moved forward, slowly, acting as normal as I can. Sure enough, he charged, angry-goosestarted pecking (?) with his mouth (?). Then he grabbed on to my pants pulling on it as if he is trying to disrobe me. Scared-Emoji.png

*See that is when I knew the goose was a fucking male goose.* eggplant-emoji

I was like dude, I am not into that… or that…. you know… guys…. or geese. Jeez…. sweat_emoji

So I stayed there, let him take his time, and feel manly that he attacked and won over a helpless human man. man-raising-hand-medium-skin-tone

All of a sudden he realized that he has won and decided its time to go brag to his goose friends.

The most harrowing 32 seconds of my life!   img_4384

And it was a Monday. . How was the rest of that week? It’s a totally different story.

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Epilogue

I may or may not have screamed “I’m vegan you dumbass goose bird, I’m in your team…”

Like my instagram friend stonehill2015 later said, “He must have been on lookout rotation and takes the role too seriously. Like a mall cop.lol-emoji

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And the medal goes to….

Katie! img_3152

Have you ever dedicated a race to your trainer? Neither have I, until now. Seriously, I am still in denial that I finished! And the only reason I finished is, all the hip flexor training, and nothing but the hip flexor training. With, and designed by, Katie.

Did I mention I did could not do any run training, AT ALL, for this? Oh, OK then.

The report from the field:

It was a crisp pre-spring morning in DC. 0° (c) at the start of Rock n Roll DC Marathon, at 7 am. I went in, mentally prepared to take a DNF, I was there just for the love of running. (OK OK OK, I wanted to show off, as a vegan athlete, I can run a full marathon with ZERO training).

You are on your 16th marathon. Although you haven’t set any time goals, you just want to finish, running mile 6 at 5:56 is NOT OK. That’s actually worse than a rookie mistake! That’s outright dumb. (I don’t think I was that fast, I think the tracker app fucked up, but I did run super fast every now and then during the first half). At half way point, I was headed for a PR. But then I paid handsomely for it.

The last 8 miles tho….

rnrcert

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My PETA Pack shirt got me a nice conversation and some high fives while running, with another vegan runner. She showed me her custom bib which read “Vegan 4 Animals”. Mine said “IRun4Animals”.

And all the cheers for PETA!

A girl in a chicken costume, with a megaphone, on the course, stopped me and wanted to play with my hair. She ran her fingers thru it and I was thinking, “fuck, you are messing it up”.

BUT she actually fixed it! See before and after! img_3154

 

My friend Lia, who is from Philly, who I think runs this race every year, who is also a vegan athlete, passed me right after the half way mark, just after I started getting severe quad cramps (didn’t even know it was a thing, never experienced it before) but not without some small talk.

The first time ever, I did not consume anything other than gatorade and water throughout the race! Of course I carb loaded at dinner the night before and had a piece of bread and coffee prior to start.

There is this killer hill along the course, about 10 miles into it, which is also part of my usual training route, which is also part of MCM and other local distance races. So I have traversed the hill mountain at least 10 times in the past few years but never ran up the whole damn thing. No, this time it was different. This time I ran the whole thing up and continued till next water station,which was more than a mile after! Booyah….

And I had to stop for a moment and pose for the finish line photographers, during “finish strong” last-quarter-mile-sprint.

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And like a total moron, I finished through the half marathon finish line!

End of report. 

Less than a week before the race, at an attempted, failed inversion pose during yoga, I messed up my back, big time. For the next couple of days, I even thought I may have to sit this one out. But no, my friend, and massage therapist extraordinaire, Chelsey, by use of her her excellent magical hands, cured it!

A couple of days prior to that, my hip flexor muscle had some issues and I had to go see my lovely and super knowledgeable NP, Gretchen. It was still bothering me a bit on race morning. At the end of the race tho, everything was hurting, so no biggie!

My primary care physician, Dr Loomis, who is also vegan, who is also a runner, ran a half marathon in November, faster than my PR, he is almost 60! I went to see him with an irregular heart beat issue the day before the race. My EKG was normal so I got the green to race!

Here are a lot of pictures of me running, from same and different angles. I know you live for this shit.

 

And…. not the least….
Thank you Katie, Chelsey, George, Dr Loomis, Gretchen, Becca(for those awesome songs and the early race day morning message)

And Ellen, Catie, Adam, Brianna, Amy, Chelsey for the “party”.

And as always, Shantanu!

#RnRDC #DCRocknRollMarathon #VeganAthlete #VeganRunner #NoRunTrainingMarathon