Friday, April 10, 2015

Weekend in San Luis Obispo

Sourabh and I spent last weekend in San Luis Obispo, a college town located about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. We drove up Saturday morning and drove back Sunday afternoon, which gave us just enough time to have a couple tasty meals and explore two awesome trails.

Mason was ready to go.
The drive up to SLO is gorgeous after you get out of LA, especially if you take the Chumash Highway (Route 154) from Santa Barbara, which runs through the Los Padres National Forest, passing Danish imitation town, Solvang, before meeting back up with Highway 101.

We stopped for lunch in Solvang, since I'm a quarter Danish and wanted to check out what imitation Copenhagen looked like. I grew up outside of Lynden, WA, which has an imitation Dutch downtown, so I wanted to see what the SoCal Danish version looked like. It was cute enough to drive through, but pretty packed on a Saturday afternoon, and I think the main attraction there is wine tasting, which we weren't interested in since we were going to be driving another hour and then hiking.

We bought some baked goods from Olsen's Danish Village Bakery  & Coffeeshop, but I'm sad to say the almond tart and florentine simply did not live up to the deliciousness of the Lynden Dutch Bakery in my hometown. If you're looking for wine tasting, though, it seemed like there were plenty of tasting rooms along the main drag.

Once we got to SLO, we headed straight for the trailhead.

We wanted to hike up one of the nine volcanic peaks that dot the SLO/Morro Bay landscape (this Wikipedia article has a cool picture that shows them all in a line).

We hiked up Cerro San Luis, which gives you a gorgeous view of the city and surrounding hills. The main trail is 2.75 miles one-way and has roughly 1,100 ft. elevation gain, but it's almost all uphill so it's not as intense a climb as the hike we did on Sunday.

Quick PSA/reminder for dog owners: always bring plenty of water if you're hiking with your dog. Dogs can't sweat so they can overheat more easily than humans. And be prepared to carry them if they need a break (slash are lazy and just give up after half a mile...)

The peak gives you an awesome 360 view of the SLO area. It was actually pretty windy and chilly at the top, so we didn't spend much time enjoying the view, but it was a great reward for the hike up.

Once we got back down, we checked into our hotel (the local Best Western, which wasn't terribly cheap but was the most affordable and decent dog-friendly option), and drove into town for dinner. Sourabh had read great reviews of Petra, a casual, college town-type Mediterranean restaurant. We shared their lamb shawarma and chicken shawarma platters, along with sides of dolmas and baba ghanoush. They had hard cider on tap, which I love to see, so I had a pint of that, and we shared their enormous and delicious baklava for dessert.

I was unable to stop from digging into the hummus before taking a picture.
We drove over to Morro Bay to watch the sunset, although we ended up huddled in our car for about 30 minutes since it was cold with the strong wind coming off the water.

Sunday morning we woke up early and drove to Coastal Peaks Coffee for breakfast. I always give almond milk espresso drinks a try when they're available, and I'm usually disappointed, but the almond milk latte I had here was great.

After finishing our breakfast, and providing plenty of scraps for the extremely vocal local birds, we drove a bit north of SLO along Highway 101 to hike the Reservoir Canyon trail up Murray's Hill.

It's about 2.5 miles up to the top and gains about 1,200 ft. of elevation, with a lot of that gain in the last mile.

The first mile follows along a creek, which was actually running. Given the years-long drought in California, it's pretty rare to find running water, so that was cool.

The trail is completely worth slogging through, though, because the views of the Central Coast from the top are absolutely stunning.

I wish my pictures fully captured how gorgeous it was up there, but you'll just have to believe me.

We headed back down, my calves complaining about two days of descents in a row, and then stopped in town one last time to grab smoothies for the drive back to Orange County.

Mason promptly passed out on my lap and barely woke up for the 3.5 hour drive back.

One of my favorite things about living in California is how many cool places are a weekend trip away. This trip showed us that we could pack a lot in to just two days without spending very much money (total cost was about $300, including gas, which isn't much compared to how much weekends away used to be in NYC).

So... any recommendations for where our next weekend trip should be?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

RnR San Diego Half Marathon Training Log: Week 4

This was a major cutback week. I ran 3 miles. While I was active every day, I was in desperate need of a cutback week after last weekend's hill repeats / strength / 1100 ft elevation gain 9 mile trail run (yeah, didn't think that combo through well...). I did not realize how beat up my body would be after trail running. Of course looking back at it, it was clearly a poor idea to run a hilly route the day after hill repeats.

But trails are so pretty! 
My cutback week would not normally consist of 3 running miles, however with work getting busy, the hiking in San Luis Obispo on the weekend, and the clear signs my body was sending me Wednesday and Thursday, I decided to just chalk it up as a lost week. I think you can generally have one or two of those over the course of a training cycle and be okay. That's one reason I like a 12 week training cycle for a half marathon, and a reason I'll be doing a longer training cycle for the California International Marathon. My job is unpredictable and I don't always know how my body will react to things. If it's saying "no, that's too much, stop it," I want to be able to pay attention without ruining my training.

Sourabh and I drove up to San Luis Obispo for the weekend. The trip was a huge reminder of how happy living in California makes me. It's about a 3.5 hour drive, which initially seemed like a bit much for just two days, but the entire ride is so pretty that it didn't feel like too much for a weekend away. I'm going to do a separate post on the hikes we did and food we ate, so this training log will be short and to the point.

RnR San Diego Half Marathon Training Log: Week 4

Monday: Running form drills + 40 minutes stationary cycling + 20 minutes upper body strength.

I have running form drills on my schedule for every week. I do a mix of side and forward low hurdles, high knees through a net, and some low box jumps, focusing on activating different muscles and keeping good form.

I thought my legs could use a break from running so decided to cross-train instead of run on Monday. They probably could have used a straight rest day, which Melanie told me on Wednesday when I wondered why I was so fatigued.

  • 40 minutes on a stationary bike, pace at about 13-14 mph the whole ride.
  • Three rounds of 15 reps of chest presses, high rows, and lat pull-downs. 
  • Two 1 minute planks, 30 seconds side plank on each side, 15x Supermans for core.

Tuesday: Off.

Did 15 minutes of yoga/stretching, focused on quads, hamstrings and hips.

Wednesday: Strength training with Melanie.

Focused on upper body again because my lower body was clearly not having it during our plyometric warm-up.

  • 1/2 mile warm-up and dynamic stretching.
  • Two sets of six reps of plyometric drills (side and forward jogging through low hurdles, high knees through ladder).
  • Three sets of 15 reps of three heavy upper body exercises.
  • One set of 15 reps of two core exercises.
  • Longer stretching session focused on quads, hamstrings and hips.

Thursday: 60 minute yoga class.

The Thursday night therapy yoga class has a new instructor who was focused on more of a slow flow than therapy tools/exercises. I liked the class but am bummed that there isn't that option on my gym's schedule anymore since it was a great class at a good time for me. I'll keep this class on my schedule, though, because I can use all the stretching I can get.

Friday: 3 easy miles around Back Bay on trails.

Gorgeous run on the trail side of Back Bay after work. My legs were finally starting to feel a bit more normal.

Saturday: 5.5 mile hike up Cerro San Luis in San Luis Obispo.

Hiked up Cerro San Luis, an ancient volcanic plug, and got about 1,100 ft. of elevation gain in. Not running, obviously, but at least it was quality time on my feet.

Sunday: 5 mile hike up Reservoir Canyon Trail in San Luis Obispo.

That's Pismo Beach in the distance. No, there was never a disaster there (although I thought it was a real thing the first time I saw Clueless in the 90s...)
Same story as Saturday, but this time with most of the 1,100 ft. of elevation coming in the last mile of the hike. Gorgeous views from the top of Murray Hill!

Total Run Mileage = 3 miles *womp womp*

I'm really jazzed about this week so far, though. Amazingly solid 6 miles with a terrific progression yesterday morning (ran a longer and slightly less easy Monday run than normal to make up for no cutback week long run, but the great thing was the pace never felt like it wasn't easy, just wasn't a recovery pace). I also have fun running plans for this weekend! Now let's see how tomorrow's mile repeats go...

Friday, April 3, 2015

Grand Central Workout Event

I still get emails about events in NYC, and while I obviously cannot attend them now (being in California and all), when I get one that's open to readers, I figure I'll share them with you for those in NYC!

If you're a huge fan of the 1997 movie, Batman & Robin, you're in luck -- Chris O'Donnell will be at the event! 

Seriously, though, working out in Grand Central Terminal sounds like a cool NYC experience to have, which is why I thought I'd share this. Also, free massages and coffee are nice. And there will be financial "fitness checks" (where they will probably tell you that you need to save/invest more and spend less on boutique fitness classes/running shoes/etc) available as well.

The event is Wednesday, April 8. If you’re interested in participating in the workouts, you can sign up via this link: The class times are 11:15am, 12:15pm, or1:15pm and each class is roughly 45 minutes. Make sure to sign up by April 6.

If you end up going, let me know how it is! Sounds fun.

I'm heading up to the "Central Coast" (it's actually just between San Francisco and LA, which makes it more like the South Central Coast, but that doesn't sound as good). Sourabh and I are going to do some hiking, beach walking, and food eating. Hope everyone has a great weekend!