May 31, 2014

Posted by Jo W. 5/31/2014
Hi everyone! I'm just checking in before I pass out and try to get a solid night rest before waking up at 5:25am for the start of my cross-country cycling trip. 

Last night I did some last minute packing, since I had to leave for Baltimore the next morning. I have a HUGE duffel that's nearly full, as well as a backpack. Hope I didn't forget anything. Ha. 

Starting at 8am today, all the 4K for Cancer riders had training, where we did icebreakers as a team, rotated through stations to practice group riding, bike maintenance, going over rules, and practicing driving and loading our huge 15-passenger vans. 

The training ended at 4pm, and then I met up with my family at our hotel. We are staying near the Baltimore inner Harbor, so it'll be convenient for my family to head down to the send-off ceremony. 

For our last family dinner, we went to McCormick and Schmicks for some seafood. I was super hungry and this is probably one of the few nice meals I'm going to eat in the next 70 days, so I ate a ton. So yummy. 

After dinner, we walked around the harbor and ran into some street performers. They were actually performing exactly where our send-off tomorrow will be. The show was entertaining, and it was cool that he included his kids in the show. They are very talented jugglers! And probably only in high school. 

The performer asked for volunteers from the audience, and he asked me and my four year old cousin to help. I handed him knives while he balanced on a board atop a bowling ball. My little cousin was adorable, though. It was so funny watching him participate in the show, and he even got some money! 

I had a great time spending the last night with my family before I head off. Tomorrow, we are riding about 72 miles from Baltimore. First destination is Waynesboro, PA!

May 30, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in , | 5/30/2014
Today is the day that I finally get to meet my 4K for Cancer teammates! I will be cycling with these 27 people for the next 70 days, and I am certain that we will bond like family by the end of the trip. So excited :D

A few weeks ago, I posted a schedule of our route, including all the cities we will be cycling through. I was curious about how the route will actually look like, so I used MapMyRide and entered in ALL the cities (yes, it kind of took forever). The actual route will vary since the exact roads we will cycle on may change. However, this will give you a rough idea of where we will be going. Apparently MapMyRide doesn't allow you to save routes over 1000 miles long, so I took screen shots. The ride will be a bit over 4500 miles.

Note the zig-zagging nature of the route. Going from coast to coast in a straight line is well under 4000 miles, but we're taking the long way. And the harder way (apparently going west to east is easier because of tailwinds). After we hit Illinois, we are taking a sharp north-ward turn up to Chicago to meet with another team (going to Seattle, I believe). When we get to Wyoming, I think we are also making a detour into Yellowstone because heck, it's Yellowstone. I've been to Yellowstone many times when I lived in Idaho Falls as a child, so I can't wait to see it again!

Click on the map above to see the route in detail. 

Throughout the trip, we will have mail drops where riders can receive mail, care packages, cards, etc. (hint hint: I love food). Mail is awesome, and I would greatly appreciate anything I receive! A little note of encouragement will go a long way to motivate me during my trip :)

Just replace the "% 4K Rider's Name" with Joanna W.

Day 14 6/14/2014

Chris Ewing
℅ 4K Rider's Name
3318 Hampton Creek Dr
Lousiville, KY 

Day 33 7/3/2014

Pastor Becky
℅ 4K Rider's Name
701 5th St
Arapahoe, NE 68922

Day 39 7/9/2014

St. John’s Episcopal Church
℅ 4K Rider's Name
1419 Pine St. 
Boulder, CO 80302

Day 45 7/15/2014

4K for Cancer
℅ Rider's Name
800 23rd St. 
Rawlins WY, 82301

Day 56 7/26/2014

River of Life Family Worship Center
℅ 4K Rider's Name
390 North 11th East
Mountain Home, ID 83647

May 29, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in , | 5/29/2014
So... lately I haven't been running much. With all the cycling I've been doing, running just hasn't been a priority. I've done maybe a handful of runs this past month. Pshh, and I call myself a runner.

I actually miss it. I miss running consistently and training for races, running long on the weekends, and doing speedwork (yes, even speedwork!). So, to remedy this, I decided to sign up for another half marathon, because, why the hell not. Yesterday, I went ahead and registered for the Michelob ULTRA Boston 13.1 Marathon on September 14, 2014. By then, I would already have lived in Boston for about a month, and started dental school.

Am I crazy for registering for this race? With my cross-country cycling trip taking up most of my summer, I have absolutely no idea how much training I can do. When I get back from the trip, I will have less than a month to do 13.1-specific training. 

Here are the factors that influenced my decision:

  • Fast and flat course
  • A local race that I can get to via public transportation
  • After the 2nd week of dental school, so hopefully I won't be super busy yet
  • Running through my new city would be a great way to get familiar with it

Also, if I am going to run this race, I really want to get a PR. My last half marathon was Rock n' Roll Philly last September. After I finished that race, I told myself that my next goal would be to break 1 hour 40 minutes. I know that I have it in me, especially if it's a fast course. So for this 13.1, my goals are:

A) Break 1:40:00 (that's a 7:36 pace!!)
B) Get a PR (faster than my current PR of 1:44:39)
C) Enjoy the race in my new city 

Haha, let's see how this goes. Over the summer, I will see if I can run at least once a week. We will have rest days in different cities, and going for a run would be a great way to explore. Also, when I get to Portland, I am looking forward to seeing the city by running through it.

In other news, FOOD:

Last night, I met up with one of my college friends and had some great Ethiopian food in Silver Spring. I had a great time catching up with her, and we really enjoyed the delicious food. We got the combination platter that had chicken, lamb, beef, and collard greens. The lamb and chicken were so tender and flavorful. I don't get Ethiopian that often, so this was a treat.
Today, I went shopping with my mom and aunt at noon, and ended up getting lunch at a sushi buffet. The restaurant is owned by Koreans, so there is also good Korean food, as well. At night, they even have Korean BBQ, which is cooked table-side. I ate a lot of sushi and it was fabulous.
Also, this came in the mail today. I ran the Pike's Peek 10K in April and got 2nd place in my age division. This was the first time I actually placed in a running race and actually won something! A few years ago, I would have never dreamed that I would be fast enough to place in a race. Haha this is perfect; I will use the gift card the next time I need to carbo-load for a race.

Do you have any races on the calendar?
Have you ever tried Ethiopian food?

May 28, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in , | 5/28/2014
Happy Wednesday! This week is going by too fast. As much as I am excited about cycling across the country with 4K for Cancer, I am also nervous and a bit sad to be leaving. I want the trip to start already, but at the same time, I am going to miss a lot at home: family, friends, my bed... oh yea, and definitely my Vitamix.

Last night, we had a crazy thunderstorm. I was planning on going on a training ride with the bike club, but obviously that didn't happen. I stayed home and watched the storm, instead. There was hail and our power went out for a minute.

Since I haven't ridden my bike in two days, I went out for a ride this morning. I rode my usual 21 mile route, and then added some extra miles in the neighborhood to make it an even 30. I rode through the back country roads, and some parts were really covered in debris from the storms. So many leaves, twigs, branches, and trees in the road. There was also a lot of sand and gravel littering one part of the road from the flooding. 

I was pretty thirsty and hungry when I got back, so I rehydrated with salted watermelon. Does anyone else put salt on their watermelon? It's really delicious, I swear.

For my last few days at home, I am trying to make the most of it by spending time with my family and seeing my friends before I leave. Later today, I am going down to Silver Spring to meet up with a friend from college and get Ethiopian food. I haven't seen her in over a year, so it'll be so nice to catch up with her before I leave! Tomorrow, I am hoping to actually do the club training ride, though the forecast says rain :( Crossing my fingers! Thursday night, I'm meeting up with another friend for dinner. Then it's the 4K Tribute dinner in Baltimore on Friday night, and training all day Saturday. Saturday will be my last night with my family. Since they are coming with me to Baltimore and staying the night, we can have one last family dinner before sendoff on Sunday. 

Now I just need to finish packing! Packing is hard :(

May 27, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in | 5/27/2014
I am counting down the days until I set off to cycle across the country, from Baltimore to Portland, to raise awareness for young adults with cancer. I have been preparing for this trip since I was accepted as a rider in September 2013; for months, I've been fundraising, training, getting to know my teammates through Facebook, etc. And finally, the start of the trip is just around the corner.

After this three-day weekend, I basically only have four days left at home. On Saturday, I will be heading to Baltimore for Training Day. I will meet my team, practice group riding, learn basic bike maintenance, and practice driving and loading the 15-passenger vans that will be our support vehicles. My family and I are planning on staying in Baltimore Saturday night, since the send-off is early Sunday morning. I will have to meet up at 6 am to load the vans and make last minute preparations. The send-off ceremony starts at 7 am at the Baltimore Inner Harbor, and then we head off at 8 to cycle across the country!

I have been writing Weekly Chase posts for the past few months, where I share my weekly goals and recap my previous week's goals. However, as I am cycling across the country this summer, I may not continue writing these posts. I am still trying to figure out how I am going to be blogging during the trip. I probably won't have my regular weekly posts, such as The Weekly Chase, Training Logs, Weekend Eats, etc. My posts will probably be more sporadic and shorter, but I will definitely make the effort to check in and write updates on my journey. Don't worry, I won't be completely absent :)

Road Runner Girl

Last week's goals:

1. Finish packing for my 4K trip- Ordered some more gear for the trip and I am starting to gather all my bike gear, clothes, and other essentials that I will need in my room. It's all sprawled out on my floor, next to my huge duffel. Now the goal is to not overpack!

2. Spend some quality time with my family and friends- Yep, and I will continue this goal this week before I leave on Sunday morning!

3. Finish my summer reading assignment- Haha, this has not happened yet. Fail for procrastinating.

This week's goals:

1. Don't forget anything for the trip- I am making lists, trying to think of everything I will need, and labeling everything. I really hope I don't forget anything essential!

2. Summer reading assignment- I need to stop procrastinating this.

3. Yoga- My class pass is expiring this week, so I want to go to at least one more yoga class. I also want to continue practicing on my own, as well as keep up my practice during the trip. I even bought a travel yoga mat.

What are you working towards this week?

May 26, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in | 5/26/2014
Hope you enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend! It has been a busy three-day weekend for me, full of fun stuff and great food. I got to spend a lot of time with my family and friends.

On Saturday, I dressed up like a real person and went out for lunch at a Taiwanese restaurant. This is actually a big deal because I usually live in yoga pants, running clothes, or PJs.

Sorry, I was too busy eating to take pictures of the actual food. For dessert, I got shaved ice. This stuff is the ultimate, refreshing dessert on a hot summer day. 

Although I had shaved ice for my lunch dessert, I got froyo for my after-dinner dessert. I can never have too much froyo, and after this purchase, I got a $5 reward on my card (spoiler alert: I already spent it).

On Sunday, my friend and I cycled to Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard for a wine tasting. Emphasis on tasting because cycling while buzzed just doesn't sound very fun. Or maybe it is if I didn't have to climb so many damn hills on the way home.

After a long day of riding, I needed to chill out so I watched Star Trek (2013) on Netflix with a box of chocolates. And no, this box was not full before I started the movie, and it is not empty after finishing the movie. There's still like... half of them left. I swear.

My cycling trip to taste wine at a local vineyard was such a success that I wanted to go again. I decided to pack a picnic and take my family to the vineyard on Memorial Day. They also had a sign that said Fresh Sangria so I had to go back to try it. It was delicious and the perfect refreshing drink for a picnic. Seriously, this stuff goes down as easily as juice.

For the picnic, I brought some goat cheese, a baguette, crackers...

Sandwiches, potato salad, lemonade, and watermelon.

I came back because I wanted to get a few bottles of wine, as well. Mission accomplished.

And of course I had to take a wine bottle selfie :P

After picnicking and hiking up a mountain, we went to get froyo for the second time this weekend. At least I got to use my rewards card.

And finally, I got pho for dinner.

What was the best thing you ate this weekend? Did you do anything special for Memorial Day?
Posted by Jo W. in | 5/26/2014
Happy Memorial Day! I hope you are enjoying the long weekend. I certainly am! Going on a picnic and hike today.

One year ago from today, I bought my first road bike on Memorial Day weekend and went on an inaugural ride with my dad. This Sunday, I went on a ride with a friend to a local mountain and tasted some wine at a nearby vineyard. What a way to commemorate my first year of cycling :)

We started at noon and were treated to some great weather. Blue skies, sunshine, and a few fluffy, white clouds over the countryside.

I can see Sugarloaf Mountain from my house, about 15 miles away. Although I've ridden by it many times, I've only climbed it once before. There is also a vineyard that I have passed by and never visited. My friend hadn't been either, so on Sunday, we decided to (finally) pay a visit.

Before we wined, we climbed. It's a nice climb with a bunch of switchbacks, about 400 ft gain with an average grade of 6%. My legs weren't feeling that fresh, and I didn't want to kill myself, so I took it easy.

When we reached the top, we took a breather, enjoyed the views, and took some pictures.

And of course, I had to take a selfie ;)

We descended, and it was time for wine! The vineyard was packed with people enjoying wine, having picnics, and listening to live music. We parked the bikes and headed to the tasting tent. $10 to taste all 8 wines, not bad. We started with two whites, a rose, three reds that were progressively fuller bodied, and two dessert wines. I really enjoyed the Cabernet Franc and Stomp, a sweeter wine that tasted like red berries. They use that in their sangria, which I unfortunately didn't get to try. I still had 25 miles to ride!

I am going back to the vineyard to pick up a few bottles of wine and try the sangria. I don't think sticking wine bottles in my water bottle cages is a wise idea, so I'm going to drive there next time.

This ride was the best idea ever. I can't think of a better way to spend the afternoon.

May 25, 2014

Posted by Jo W. 5/25/2014
After this week, I should really take a rest day... Like a real rest day, not going to hot yoga and sweating a bunch and calling that rest.

Last week, I didn't run at all. I missed it, so this week, I made it up with three great runs. After my road race last Sunday, I started my week off with a trail run on Monday after my yoga class. My legs felt surprisingly fresh, though I tried to keep an easy pace. I really enjoy trail running, so I'm trying to do it more often. On Tuesday, I went running in the evening with my brother. I ran at his pace, which felt nice and relaxed. On Saturday, I wanted to run longer, so I ran my usual "long run" route, though I shortened it to 7 miles. Even without a running race to train for, I am trying to run on the days that I don't bike.

As the start of my cross-country bike trip is approaching in less than a week, I am cycling as much as I can. I am also enjoying riding these familiar roads before I leave. Lately, I've been feeling a bit nostalgic because I am moving away to Boston at the end of my trip, so this is actually my last few weeks at home. During my rides this week, I stopped to take pictures, caught up with a friend, and even made a video of my route.

To complete the trio, I went to three yoga classes this week. It has been two months since I started practicing yoga at my current studio, and I feel that I have made significant improvement. My class pass is about to expire soon, so I may only go to one more class before I leave. I am hoping to continue practicing yoga during this summer, whenever I have a spare moment.

Monday- 75 mins vinyasa yoga
                trail running 5.6 mi, 8:33 min/mi

Tuesday- cycling 24 mi, avg. 17.2 mph
                 running 4 mi, 8:04 min/mi

Wednesday- 60 mins hot power yoga

Thursday- cycling 21.1 mi, avg 17.6 mph

Friday- 75 mins vinyasa yoga
             cycling 25 mi, 17.8 mph

Saturday- running 7 mi, 7:45 min/mi

Sunday- cycling 47.5 mi


Running- 16.6 mi
Cycling- 114.3 mi

May 23, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in , | 5/23/2014
When I go out for a training ride or a run, usually my goal is to go as fast or as hard as possible. Training for races makes me focused on the numbers: hitting a certain pace during interval training, averaging a certain speed, getting PR's in every race. Sometimes I feel like a slave to my Garmin. I've been taught to be competitive, always striving to do my best and become better, faster, stronger.

On Thursday, I went out for a ride, but with a different mindset. I slowed down my pace to fully enjoy the ride. I soaked up the scenery. I stopped to take pictures. Twice.

As I am about to set across the country on my bike, I want to set my intention to really be in the present. It's going to be a long, 4400 mile journey to Portland. It's not about getting to the destination, it's about the journey along the way and I don't want to rush through it.

I have to admit that I am pretty competitive on the bike. This past season, I've been training to compete in races and focused on getting faster. However, this summer will be different. I am going to slow down, stop for pictures and goof around at random roadside attractions. Ride side by side with my teammates and roll along at a conversational speed.

It's going to be incredible seeing this country at the speed of a bike, feeling every mile from my saddle. I'll be passing by cities, small towns, countryside, mountains, plains, and forests stretching from the east to the west coast. I want to soak in every inch of it.

One more week.

May 22, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in | 5/22/2014
One thing that discourages a lot of beginner cyclists is sharing the road with cars on high traffic roads. I consider myself very lucky that I have access to low-traffic country roads right outside my house. Although farm country is just a few minutes away, I actually live in the suburbs and have access to both city and countryside.

On Tuesday, I took my GoPro with me on my morning bike ride. I wanted to make a video showing the beautiful country roads that I frequently ride on. Now that it's almost summer and the trees are in full foliage, it truly is gorgeous. Every time I ride these roads, I feel incredibly grateful for the spectacular scenery. Makes my rides very enjoyable.

Here's the route that I rode with the elevation profile. You can see my ride on Strava HERE. 24 miles of forests and fields.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the views :) [HD recommended]

Do you live in the city, suburbs, or countryside?

May 21, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in , | 5/21/2014
Oops, I usually publish my Weekly Chase posts on Tuesdays, but I'm lazy and it's a day late so what can ya do.

This morning, I actually slept in until 8:30! I can't remember the last time I slept that late, but it was glorious. I had a lazy morning, ate my breakfast, and then headed out the door at 9:40 for a yoga class. I had a free class coupon, so I invited a friend to join me. The room was heated to about 90 degrees, and it was intense! The sweat was really flowing, but it felt so good. I really needed to take a rest day from running and cycling since my legs are still a bit fatigued and tight. Hot yoga was the perfect thing, and coming out of that room into the cool breeze was amazing. 

When I got home, I didn't want to stay indoors, so I brought my computer outside to get some work done and write this blog post. It's such a beautiful day to spend outdoors. A bit cool and overcast, my fave kind of weather.

Road Runner Girl

Last week's goals:

1. Reach my 4K for Cancer fundraising minimum by May 15th deadline- I received an incredibly generous donation on the fundraising deadline, May 15. One of my teammate's family made a HUGE contribution and donated to ALL the riders on my team that still haven't raised $4500. They donated the difference, which ended up being over $1400 for me. I was kind of in disbelief when I saw that I had made my goal, and took a few moments to process it. I am so thankful for their generosity, as well as everyone who has contributed to make this trip possible

2. Go on two training rides- I did 3 training rides solo last week in preparation for the race last Sunday. I wanted to go to the group training ride, but afternoon thunderstorms spoiled those plans. Oh well.

3. Catch up with friends- I got to catch up with a friend last Saturday when we took a 3 hour SUP lesson together. She also joined me for my carbo-loading dinner. Fun times :)

4. Do my first road race- YES. I did it.

This week's goals:

1. Finish packing for my 4K trip- I need to get my stuff organized, make packing lists, and buy the rest of the stuff that I will be needing.

2. Spend some quality time with my family and friends- I have a week and a half at home before I ride across the country. I want to make the most of it.

3. Finish my summer reading assignment- I actually have homework from school already. All incoming dental students are required to read a book and answer some questions. I don't want to worry about having to finish this on the trip, so I want to get it done before next week.

That's all for The Weekly Chase! What are your goals for this week?

May 20, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in , | 5/20/2014
So I did it: I survived my first cycling race and didn't make a fool of myself. I wanted to see what racing was like, and I got my first taste of it on Sunday, May 18th.

Before I start with my race recap, I want make a few disclaimers: 1) I am very new to racing so I'm not the best commentator on how the race played out. I can only give an inexperienced racer's perspective 2) the field split (a bunch of ladies were in the lead group, and I was in the slower one) so I didn't get to see how the "real" race unfolded.

I am coming up on my first cycling anniversary (Memorial Day weekend), so I have been road cycling for less than a year. After picking up the sport relatively quickly, I was thinking about racing early this year. I had no idea how to begin racing and how it all worked. Also, I am still pretty inexperienced in riding with a group and needed to learn some skills. Luckily, I had a friend who races and was willing to give me some pointers. With his encouragement, I jumped the gun and decided to give racing a try this season. I figured that now is as good of a time as any. I've been training hard this season for my duathlon and 10K, as well as cycling more, so the fitness was there. With the cross country trip this summer, I would only have time for one race, so I might as well get my feet a little wet.

I chose to race the Richmond Road Race, which is two 22-mile laps in the countryside (actually ended up being a bit shorter than 44 miles). Although the race site was a 2 hour drive, I decided to do this race because the start time was at 12:20, so I wouldn't have to leave the house ridiculously early. Also, I am not confident enough to race a criterium just yet. Taking fast, tight turns in a large group is something I need to work on.

43.5 miles, 1063 ft of climbing
I must admit that I was really nervous leading up to this race. It's scary to be the newest kid on the block and unsure of what to expect. All the other ladies in my race were on teams, and probably have years more experience with cycling and racing. I felt like a total noob and tried to figure things out by watching and learning. My goal for this race was to hang on and not get dropped, get a feel for what racing is like, and try to have a good time out there.

I'm 525
There were six races with staggered starts. The first three races were in the morning, and the last three started at noon. The women's race was the last to go, at 12:20. We had a small field of 26 women. The pro/1/2/3 and Cat 3/4 men were out on the course with us, with a 20 and 10 minute lead, respectively.

The races had a rolling closure, so there were vehicles in front of us and behind us to direct traffic and give us the full use of the road. That was really great so I didn't have to worry about cars and I could focus on keeping my poise throughout the race.

The start was pretty chill, and we rolled out of the parking area onto the roads. My plan was to stay comfortable at the back of the pack, sit behind someone's wheel, and conserve my energy. The pace was very relaxed for most of the first lap, much to my pleasant surprise. I felt like I was hardly working at all, and the first 20 miles went by so quickly. The strongest girls attacked on the climb coming up to the end of the first lap. Eleven girls rode away, while 15 of us were left behind to chase. I had expected the field to split and wasn't surprised that it happened when it did.

My group tried to work together briefly to chase down the lead pack, but the gap just kept getting bigger and bigger, so we eventually settled down. We rotated through the paceline, and I did some work in the wind, trying to keep up our speed. I did a good job conserving my energy for most of the race, so my legs were ready to work hard. I had also fueled and hydrated pretty well, and was only taking in calories from my sports drink. I had a few gels on me, but didn't use them.

With about five miles to go, I, as well as (I think) 6 other girls, put it into high gear and dropped the rest of them. I was committed to riding the last few miles hard and race with these girls. Having ridden the first lap, I knew exactly when that final climb was and how hard it was going to be. And this time I was getting tired. I was ahead of about three girls on the climb, but I just couldn't keep my speed up and got passed by two girls. With 1km to go, I was hurting but stayed with it. When I saw the 200m sign, I sprinted as hard as I could. Five girls were ahead of me, but I kept my sights on them, rode hard, and passed one before crossing the finish line, coming in 16th.

I seem to have pretty good luck with "first" race experiences: half marathon, full marathon, duathlon, and now my first road race. I really couldn't have asked for a better day. The weather was absolute perfection, the course was beautiful and just challenging enough. I didn't get dropped and held my own throughout the race. I didn't come in dead last (which I was afraid of!) and did pretty well, considering this was my first race. Despite the nerves, I'm really glad I have this experience under my belt. Time and time again, I learn to not let my fear get in the way of doing the things I want to do. Being the most inexperienced one is tough. It's freaking scary and intimidating. But I remind myself that everyone had to start somewhere. It might as well be now, rather than later. 

May 19, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in | 5/19/2014
Earlier this week, I made vanilla cupcakes filled with lemon curd and topped with lemon buttercream. I've been eating these all week and I'm surprised that there's one left. Well, I hid it in the fridge and was planning on eating it, but forgot. It's still MINE.

I had my 44 mile road race on Sunday, so I needed to eat plenty of carbs on Saturday. Since I've never raced my bike before (except for a sprint duathlon), I didn't know what to expect and what my fueling strategy should be. I know that riding hard for 2 hours would require some type of fueling during the race, but eating a solid meal the night before will also help top off my glycogen stores. Before every race, it's tradition for me to eat a pasta dinner. I was planning on carbing up at Buca di Beppo, but mid-May is a terrible time to go there since there's prom, graduation, weddings, etc. I didn't make a reservation (doh) and there was a two hour wait. Hells to the no was I going to wait. I was already really hungry, so I had to think of an alternative. I ended up choosing Macaroni Grill, which is a fine substitute. They have good bread, and between me, a friend, my brother, and cousin, we polished off three loaves before the entrees came out. I went with the largest pasta platter, which was a trio of cannelloni, chicken parmesan (over more pasta), and a huge slab of lasagna. I demolished the entire thing. So much salty, carby goodness! 

Well, the carbo-loading worked, and I fueled pretty well. So well in fact, that I didn't even eat a single gel during the race. I only consumed approximately 200 calories from my sports drink.

After the race, I wanted to go to Eden Center on the drive back home. Eden Center is in Falls Church, Virginia and it's a Vietnamese shopping square full of restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, etc. So much good and authentic Vietnamese food. Unfortunately, I live about 45 minutes away from Eden Center, so I rarely come here. I went to a restaurant called Rice Paper for an early dinner with my dad. We got stuffed grape leaves for an appetizer and noodle soup for the entrees.

I ordered a noodle soup with "duck salad" and I was kind of surprised that it came separately. The soup was in a lightly flavored broth with rice noodles and bamboo. The duck came with a lot of hearts and it was a bit chewy. It also came with a sweet chili ginger sauce that was delicious.

I love Vietnamese food because it comes with so many fresh, colorful and flavorful herbs and veggies. This meal really hit the spot. I only had a Clif bar, PB&J, and a banana before the race!

Of course, I had to get dessert. I went to a bakery and bought a bunch of buns, cookies, and sponge cakes to take home. What I really wanted was THIS.

Not sure what this is called, but it's a Vietnamese dessert that's layered with mung beans, grass jelly, pandan jelly, and taro, sweetened coconut milk, all topped with ice. You stir it together and eat it with a spoon or straw. Kind of like Chinese/Taiwanese shaved ice. There a lot of other toppings, such as fruit, tapioca, red bean, etc. This is so refreshing on a hot summer day. 

Do you like Vietnamese food?


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