Category Archives: Challenge

New York City 1/2 Marathon 2014 Finisher!

This past Sunday the 16th I ran my first half marathon, and it just happened to be the NYC 1/2. Smack dab in the middle of 20,000 people, I ran 13.1 miles through Central Park, Times Square, down the West Side Highway, around the tip of Manhattan, and finished in the financial district.

I trained for 12 weeks, using tempo runs, Zumba, swimming, hill runs, and long runs. I also used my long runs in Central Park to get used to the insane hills in the top portion of the park (which really came in handy on Sunday).

On the Saturday before the race, I picked up my bib at the NYC 1/2 expo. Good job, organizers. NYRR for the win!

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Picking up my bib and pretending I’m important.

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Everyone got to write why they were running. Most people were running in memory of a loved one or for cancer research. 

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I run because of Zombies. Obviously.

I had a lot of support while I was training for the race and on race day. My kick-ass mom flew up from TN to cheer me on. She also brought treats! Continue reading

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Viva Las Vegas! Sin City Vegan Challenge: Final Day

Though the slot machines and chorus girls have been outrageously fun, it’s time for me to pack up my belongings and head back home to stinky streets of NYC. However, before I get on that plane, I gotta tell you about eating the fanciest Vegan meal ever right across from a super-fierce actress!

Let’s start at the beginning.

I woke up and got in the pool…

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Wow, I had a really original idea and took a picture of my toes by water. Wait until Instagram gets ahold of this mastery!

… and I stayed there all day.

Eventually I did laundry, packed, and did other boring things. Let’s fast-forward to the good stuff!

I went by myself to dinner (my best friend, who I was visiting in Las Vegas, had to work.) I read some reviews on Happy Cow (a fabulous vegetarian/vegan website) about Sinatra. No, not Old Blue Face or whatever they call him. Sinatra is a restaurant in the Encore casino and hotel. The reviews were all positive, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. I did know that I was about to go into a casino alone and sit at the bar to order food.

There was a big wait for the main restaurant and a small wait for the bar. I small wait. I sit down at the bar and am promptly tended to by the bartender. I asked for the wine list as well as the regular menu.

Now, I read in some of the reviews to ask for the vegan menu, and I eventually did. However, I wanted to see what the “regular” food was like and if I was going to be left out of the “Sinatra experience” by my dietary restrictions. The bartender told me that they can try to make certain things on the main menu vegan, but the vegan menu was pretty killer. Here’s the vegan menu:  Continue reading

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Viva Las Vegas! Sin City Vegan Challenge: Meatless Meatball Fail

It’s the third day of the Las Vegas Vegan Challenge, and I’m sad to say… I had a bit of a fail.

Let’s go back to the beginning.

If you’re just joining me, catch up with everyone else by going a few entries back to the beginning of my Las Vegas Vegan Challenge: Travel Day and Day One. I’ve traveled from NYC to Las Vegas to visit my best friend who lives here.

I woke up early and had to fend for myself in my friend’s apartment. He had some microwaveable brussel sprouts from Trader Joe’s in the fridge. I popped them out of the bag and sautéed them with a little EVOO, salt, and pepper. Microwavable pouch: you’re stupid and I don’t need you. Be gone!

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The breakfast of champions!

Once my friend crawled out of his cave mid-day, we decided to go to The Meatball Spot in town square. Now, I know from eating the vegetarian meatballs from The Meatball Shop in Brooklyn, NY, that there is a bit of parmesan cheese in the vegetarian balls. I knew that even if I didn’t get any extra cheese on them, I’d still fail. Continue reading

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Viva Las Vegas! Sin City Vegan Challenge: Day Two

So, if you’re just joining me on this post and haven’t been following along… I’m visiting my best friend in Las Vegas and writing about eating vegan while on vacation. Here we go!

Yesterday, we went to the Hoover Dam. It’s was pretty impressive.

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The only bad thing about going to see the Hoover Dam was not eating beforehand. Once you start eating a regular breakfast, it gets real weird when you skip it. (Read about the benefits of eating breakfast and how it helps you lose weight here.)

After (what seemed like) hours of driving and touring the damn dam, my friend took me to Skinny Fats. It’s an interesting concept, half of the menu is “live healthy” and the other half is “live happy.” Even though I think living healthy is living happy, that’s their shtick.  Continue reading

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Viva Las Vegas! Vegan in Sin City: Travel Day and Day 1

My best friend is a very important guy who works for a Canadian high-end circus that has many shows in Las Vegas. I’m sure you can piece together which one I’m talking about. Anyway, he’s been living in Las Vegas for the past year, and he’s invited me to come visit him! Yay!

I boarded the plane with a fierce potato salad (steamed mini-potatoes in different colors, chopped chives, lemon juice, salt, EVOO) and a mix of farmers market greens with my naked Italian dressing.

I didn’t get a picture of it because it was too delicious. I ate it before going, “Oh yeah. I should have shared that.” Oh well!

Anyway, I landed in Sin City.

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My friend picked me up from the airport, but then he had to go back to work. I was pretty hungry at this point, so I typed in “vegan restaurant” on Google Maps, and it led me to a fantastic place I wouldn’t have ever known about. Veggie Deli is a fantastic vegetarian/vegan place located on Wynn Rd. The inside looks like any number of Chinese restaurants I’ve seen in NYC. Continue reading

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Final Day of the Memphis Vegan Challenge: Back to NYC

After a refreshing night’s stay at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, TN (and by refreshing… I mean I survived a bachelorette party on Beale the previous evening), I suggested to my parents that we go to breakfast.

I really wanted to try one of the fabulous midtown vegan-friendly places like Cosmic Coconut or Imagine Vegan Cafe, but they didn’t quite seem like places my father would willingly agree to go. So, we ended up going to Perkins.

I had a plain salad with O&V… at ten AM. The quality of the lettuce was eeehh. However, it’s always really fun to hang out with my mom and dad.

We then decided to take Olivia, my dog, to Shelby Farms and play fetch.

Olivia waiting for dad to throw the ball.

Olivia waiting for dad to throw the ball. She is a fetch superstar.

Continue reading

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Memphis Vegan Challenge: THE CRACKER BARREL TALE

Day four of my Memphis Vegan Challenge, and I’m feeling pretty great about it. My body feels good. My mind feels good. It’s been completely manageable in Memphis, TN to order vegan food without sounding like a complete jerk. You know EXACTLY what I’m talking about:

Vegan Customer: “Excuse me, but I’m vegan. What can I order?”

Server: “Well, there are several things on the menu that have no meat. Is egg or dairy okay?”

Vegan Customer: “Absolutely not! That’s what vegan means… no animal products. Jeeze. Get it straight if you’re going to work in food services.”

Server: “Well, I didn’t want to assume. You are wearing leather shoes.”

Annoying, right? I’d like to not come off as a total ass, so I’ve been either looking online, calling ahead, or asking informed questions to the servers that don’t include, “I’M VEGAN. LOOK AT MEEEEEE! BOW BEFORE MY SELFLESSNESS AND ASPIRE TO MY SPIRITUAL ELEVATION!”

Now, not being an idiot to servers is easy when you’re going somewhere like Paradise Cafe in Memphis.  Just ask for no cheese or mayo on the sandwich, and make sure the veggie gazpoucho doesn’t include meat or meat stock. Nicely asking informed questions isn’t hard or annoying, especially when it’s done with a smile and in a timely manner. Paradise Cafe is a small place in East Memphis that focuses on healthy choices for lunch. They’ve been around since I was little, and I remember going to get fruit and yogurt plates there with my mother.

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veggie sandwich and gazpacho from Paradise Cafe

Then again, trying to not come across as weird at somewhere like the Cracker Barrel would perhaps prove to not be so effortless.

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Cracker Barrel Old Country Store AKA Vegan Hell.

Continue reading

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Memphis Vegan Challenge: Day Three

Day three of the Memphis Vegan Challenge, and it’s almost a piece of cake. I don’t feel deprived. My body feels great.

Let’s get to the food.

Spelt Bagel (Gluten Free) with Tofu Spread (cream cheese substitute)
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I worked again choreographing at the studio out in Germantown. If you’ve been following my escapades, you’ll know that this dance studio is right next to one of my favorite delis of all time, Vanelli’s. I opted for the sandwich. Unfortunately, they were out of wheat bread, but it still tasted great. Lettuce, cucumber, tomato, pickles, salt and pepper, oil and vinegar, and mustard!

I also put chips on my sandwich because it would be weird if I didn’t. It’s just a thing I do. And you know you want to do it too.

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Memphis Vegan Challenge: Day Two

Woke up. Juiced. Put juice in mason jar so it felt more “country.” Duh, I’m visiting Tennessee.

IMG_0356 IMG_0358While going through my parents’ kitchen drawers, I found a ridiculously small Tabasco bottle. Why do they have this in their house? (Apple for scale.)

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Why do you exist, teeniest bottle?

Went to choreograph all day at a dance studio out in Germantown. The studio is right by one of my favorite Italian delis, Vanelli’s Deli. Grabbed a quick salad with their homemade Italian dressing and some garlic olives.

IMG_0360 IMG_0361I had to google whether croutons were vegan or not. They mostly are.

Finished a very long day of choreographing at the studio and met my parents for dinner at Memphis Pizza Cafe.

Now, I’ve been preparing myself to be super sad about missing out on the Ultimate Cheese pizza that MPC serves up so deliciously. I opted for the vegetarian without cheese. It was real purdy, and I gobbled many a slice.

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Verdict on the pizza: I did miss having cheese on pizza, but I realized I wasn’t uncomfortable after the meal. I walked out of Memphis Pizza Cafe going, “Wow. I don’t have that weird sinking, stomach-full-of-rocks feeling I usually have leaving this joint. Oh, I guess I came out of here feeling bad every single time I went? Weird.”

Day 2: Fine. It’s whatever. My body feels really good, but I’m more impressed with the tiny Tabasco bottle.

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Memphis Vegan Challenge: Day One

I’m gonna make this as quick as I can.

I woke up after eating an amazing last supper. Had breakfast with Chef B’friend. Then, he made me the best homemade travel meal ever to take on any plane. Behold!

IMG_0351The best airplane food EVER. Succotash and quinoa in a box with shelling peas, nuts, and an apple. Healthy balance up the wazoo.

While trying to get to Memphis I had several delays, gate changes, more delays, more gate changes, and one dog in a bag for a very long time. Continue reading

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