CFGF VISITS: TROEGS BREWING

A visit to Troegs Brewing Company in Hershey, PA has become an annual Thanksgiving weekend tradition for CFBF and me. And I don’t hate it! Here are some highlights of my stop last week.

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Priority #1: BEER

First was a BIG BEER. It was 1pm, obviously I was DYING for a drink. I heard really good things about the Blizzard of Hops IPA. It was great. And went down FAST.

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Next I opted to sample the 3 seasonal currently on tap:

Priority #2: FOOD

Troegs has an awesome snack bar menu. Seriously impressive for the tiny little kitchen packed full of guys dishing up tons of different delicious options. Between the table we ended up with lots of great eats: giant pretzel (with cheese and mustard, obv), pork belly, beef brisket sandwich, cheese board, and more. Last time around, CFBF and I shared the charcuterie plate and it was so good. Highly recommend both the meat and cheese boards. Always the best with beers.

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In typical CFGF fashion, I ate WAY too much. And wasn’t I just dying on the couch from post-Thanksgiving stomach pains less than 24 hours earlier!? How quickly I forget. My biggest regret is that I got too full to enjoy my beer sampler. I. was. stuffed. (Please notice the untouched sampler glasses in that photo. Strugglin’.)

IMPORTANT LESSON, EMILY: Never eat so much that you lose your appetite for drinks!

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Priority #3: Coffee & Dessert

OK, so it didn’t take me that long to recover from overdoing it at Troegs. Right on cue late in the afternoon I was ready for coffee and SUGAR. You know me. There was a donut. It was Friday, after all. I snagged the last PB&J beauty from the bakery at the Green Dragon Farmer’s market. Awesome.

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Am I the picture of health, or what?

INSPIRATION & MOTIVATION

I’m gonna be real for a minute. And I have a confession: I do NOT always have it all together. Not even close. Just ask CFBF. He has witnessed some ugly days. Bless his heart.

While I love for my Internet personality to appear like I’m some sort of fitness queen, who drinks lots of beer and eats donuts all the time and loves every minute of it, it’s not the whole story. I. WORK. MY. ASS. OFF. And it is NOT easy.

But that being said, I do think it’s totally worth it. Do I hate being the one in the office that everybody thinks it totally insane forget ting up at 5am every day to workout? Absolutely not. I actually freaking love it. And people ask me a lot how I bring myself to do it. So I’ll share here, for all to enjoy.

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1. Find and follow people who inspire you. It’s no secret that I LOOOOOOVE Instagram. And scrolling through photos of seriously badass and smokin’ hot athletes totally inspires me to get my ass in gear. Also, sometimes it just deepens my regret following a chips and guacamole binge. Hard to watch some ripped crossfit girl lift 3x as much as I can in a sports bra and tiny shorts when I’m sprawled out on the couch with a third trimester food baby. It still happens. I’m not perfect, but I’m working on it.

Some of my favorite Instagrammers:

2. Find some accountability. Making new habits is not easy. For me, managing daily workouts isn’t usually a challenge. Actually, it’s often one of my favorite parts of the day (as long as it’s in the morning, please; evening workouts are not my friend). My biggest challenges come from maintaining my diet. You know me, I love food and beer with all my heart. And I don’t really love moderation. I like to do all things in excess.

But anyway, accountability – do whatever you have to do to force yourself to stick to your plan. I’ll be completely honest, the only thing that I’ve found that works for me is monetary consequences. I have a very lengthy list of diet deal breakers that I’ve been able to give up ONLY because I would have to pay Lesley $5 every time I screwed up. These include, but are not limited to: work treats (they’re everywhere! all the time! stress eating disasters!), eating nut butters from the jar (guilty pleasure), snacking on chocolate chips every time I walk into the pantry and thinking that my portions are small enough that it’s OK (HA, don’t buy them anymore), inhaling my afternoon snack at 10am (and consequently buying more food from the vending machine later).

So whether your challenges are diet or exercise oriented or both, try putting $5 on it and see what happens. I am willing and able to be anybody’s debt collector if you need one.😉

3. Make it a competition. Nobody likes to lose. And listen, other people don’t even need to know that you’re competing with them. Is that cheating? Maybe, but whatever. We all want to look good. So why are you going to let your friends (or enemies) upstage you? Know somebody else is trying to stick to a diet plan? Don’t be the one diving face first into the cupcakes while they other guy stays strong. Other people around you trying to lose weight? Do NOT let them see you popping those peanut m&m’s. Yes, this is vain. I should only care about myself. I can’t compare myself to other people. I’m my own biggest competition. Yada, yada, yada. I know. I’m just saying, envy is a big motivator.

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4. Envision who you want to be. OK, so this one is a little more hippy dippy, but I’ll admit to doing it. When I’m having a really rough time on a run and I’m just NOT into it, I try to remind myself of who I want to be and how I want to be perceived. When people see me, I want them to think I look like a strong and fit, badass runner. I want to look the part! I want to be small and quick and light and run like the wind (even if I feel like my legs are made of lead and my feet are bricks and I’m struggling through every block). It goes back to all those amazing athletes that I follow on Instagram. If I want to look like them, I better darn well train like it.

5. PRACTICE. Honestly, this is a big one. Most of the time when people ask me how I stay so diligent with my workout routine the first response out of my mouth is something along the lines of “it’s a habit now” or “I’m just used to it.” And I mean it. I started exercising in the mornings in college. I’ve been doing this for years. Of course it’s a habit now. That does not mean that I bounce out of bed every day at 5am. It’s still not easy all the time, but it’s what I do. It’s what I LIKE to do. And it’s just become a part of my life now.

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Whew, that was a long one. I won’t keep going. You talk to me now. What do you do to stay inspired and motivated? Who else do I need to add to my Instagram feed? Because that’s really all I want to talk about anyway.

CFGF SHOUTOUT: MY GO-TO HAPPY HOUR SPOT

To be honest, I can’t believe I waited this long to profess my love for Mad Mex on the Internet. I should have titled this post: Mad Mex, A Love Story. I love it; it’s the truth. Allow me to list the reasons.

1. AWESOME draft list. It goes without saying; this is my #1 priority when picking a happy hour spot. Being the beer lover that I am, I really, really enjoy when I know I can count on a place to have something delicious that I’ve never tried before. With a rotating list of probably more than 20 taps, you can count on the Mex to deliver. They know their stuff.

2. HALF PRICE. All the drafts. Half price. Not kidding. A couple weeks ago CFBF and I went for a Friday HH. We each had 2 really tasty beers, I was trashed, he was fine, and it only cost $10! What!? Can’t beat it.

3. Food is good too. Obviously it’s good – they make guacamole. Aside from that, I highly recommend the carnitas quesadilla.

It also doesn’t hurt that I live approximately 0.1 miles from one, but that doesn’t apply to everybody so I’ll only half count it as half of a reason.

Moral of the story: get to Mad Mex ASAP if you’ve never been there. Or get your ass back if it’s been a while. I’m a Friday HH regular, so you can buy me a beer some time if you’re so inclined. Cheap date!

(borrowed photos)

GRANDVIEW BAKERY & TEPPANYAKI KYOTO

You guys, I am getting shit done! I crossed TWO MORE places off my Pittsburgh wish list. And let me tell you, they were both delish.

First, Lesley joined me for Donut Friday celebrations a couple weeks ago. It was the perfect time to check out Grandview Bakery. (Is there a time that isn’t perfect for baked goods? I’m not sure.) I went with this beautiful deep fried goodness. Chocolate frosting and some kind of crunchy chocolate crumble on top. YES.

IMG_3037I also approved of Lesley’s choice: pumpkin cake with cinnamon sugar. To be honest, I typically prefer cake donuts. Dense, moist, DELICIOUS cake donuts. (NEED. ONE. NOW!) Icing is also waaaay high up on my list of loves. So it is a tough choice for me when I can only have cake or frosted. Why aren’t frosted cake donuts more popular!? Seems like a flaw in the bakery system.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 6.33.48 PMThe only downside to this donut-filled morning was the long hunt for coffee. There MUST be coffee with Donut Friday. Our plan was to grab our breakfast from the bakery and walk down the street to Grand Brew to sit and sip. The coffee place was closed!! At 8am on a Friday morning! WHAT!? So we jumped back in the car and drove to Southside for Big Dog instead. I told Les that she needed to be chatty to keep me entertained if I was going to sit in the car with a donut on my lap and wait to eat it. I am the worst at waiting. But we made it. And Big Dog NEVER lets me down. Without a doubt my favorite coffee shop in Pittsburgh. If you haven’t been there, TRY IT. TOMORROW.

Then last Saturday for dinner, CFBF and I met my parents at Teppanyaki Kyoto in Highland Park. Another spot that did not disappoint. I had heard from a couple friends that Okonomiyaki is the best thing to get. They were right. It’s a fresh made Japanese pancake with your choice of meat, topped with yummy sauces and fish flakes. The coolest part is that the super thinly flaked fish actually moves on top of the pancake because of the heat. So fun. I ate every bite. With plenty of wine, of course.

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I’ll keep you posted as I keep working on that list. So much food, so little time.

Tell me, have you tried any great new places recently? Where are you dying to eat?

NOVEMBER GOAL & CHECK-IN

This one will be brief. Promise. November goal was accomplished on November 2nd. DONE AND DONE.

After thinking about it for a while and a lot of encouragement from CFBF, I (hesitantly) decided on my November goal: handstand pushups.

I wasn’t totally sold on this idea. Handstand pushups look HARD. And as I’m getting deeper into marathon training, my Saturday long runs are becoming more and more taxing, and my Sunday morning rest days are looking better and better. Mostly, I was afraid of not feeling strong enough to work that hard. (OMG, am I afraid of EVERYTHING in CrossFit!?!)

But last week I found myself at the gym on Sunday morning anyway. Got a little bit of coaching on how to kip. And would you look at this?

Turns out, they’re not as hard as I thought they were. AND I’m stronger than I thought I was. What made it even better is that I actually got to do them in a WOD on Monday morning. THAT was an awesome feeling.

Moral of the story: I need to stop being nervous, afraid, scared, yada yada yada. Imagine how much I could do if I didn’t spend so much time worrying about it first! Honestly Em, chill out a little bit.

Now, what’s next for December!?

For your reading pleasure:

RACE BUCKET LIST

Watching all of the buzz around Sunday’s NYC Marathon got me excited for my next race at the end of January. About 3 months from now I’ll be running the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. So far, training has gone very well to my plan. Could it be a BQ? It’s possible.

Like any runner, I have a little bit of FOMO around races. The energy, excitement, and emotions are one of the greatest things ever. And one of my favorite parts of racing is choosing fun destinations to visit. I love traveling and running – match made in heaven!

So like I do with everything else, I’ve come up with a list of races that I must do. Everybody has a race bucket list, right? Here’s what is currently on my radar.

BOSTON MARATHON

Do I even have to say why? The. Race. Must. Do.

CHICAGO MARATHON

I’ve heard some GREAT things about this marathon. And I love Chicago (even though I haven’t visited in over 4 years!). I also haven’t done a fall marathon yet, and this one just sounds perfect. Lesley and I are planning to go in 2015. Meet us there!

A DESTINATION RAGNAR

In case you missed it, I ran the Ragnar DC Relay in September. I LOVED it! I really want to do another one with a group of friends, but my next Ragnar will definitely be in a gorgeous destination. I’m thinking either Napa Valley or Florida Keys. Don’t those sound WAY better than the mountains of Maryland? YES.

A HAT TRICK

Because I’m out of my mind, I really want to do a hat trick weekend: 5K and 10K on day 1 and Half Marathon on day 2. I’ve heard of a couple – the Runner’s World Festival in Bethlehem, PA in October and the much newer Heartbreak Hill Festival in Boston in June. 3 medals? Yes, please. Think of all the beers I could drink!!!

Talk to me. Who’s coming along? Any amazing races that you’ve done and would recommend? What’s on your bucket list?

(photos: 1/2/3/4)

OCTOBER GOAL CHECK-IN

October is over.

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In case you missed it, my goal for the month was: consistent work on olympic lifts. And if you know me, you better believe that I followed through. I got my butt to open gym every Sunday morning to get some help from my main man CFBF and become a better Olympic lifter. And just like I wanted to do, by the end of the month I hit new PRs in both the snatch and clean & jerk. Holla!

Snatch: 65# beginning 1RM -> 75# ending 1RM

Clean & Jerk: 105# beginning 1RM -> #110 ending 1RM

Let me tell you, that 75# snatch was U-G-L-Y. It was a power snatch – I have a lot of trouble finding my balance with the bar overhead in a squat. I also still really, really lack confidence with snatches, so it was NOT easy. But DAMMIT, I was so proud of that.

The C&J is a lot more fun for me. I have way fewer issues with my form and 100x more confidence with that lift. Makes it a lot better. I knew 110# wasn’t far off when I started, but still lovin’ it.

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I didn’t realize it at the beginning of the month, but I could have called this goal “consistent work on olympic lifts and learning how to keep my cool and not lose my shit over the barbell.” You wouldn’t believe how mental olympic weightlifting is. I’ve always known that I have off days and I tend to miss a lift when I get nervous about it and it gets in my head. But my mental strength was TESTED during these sessions. I tried to go up in weight too fast, failed a ton of snatches, threw the bar, kicked the ground, and cried at the gym. Honestly, there were tears. Who am I!?

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While my confidence has definitely improved over the past four weeks, I still have a loooong way to go. I can NOT be afraid of that GD bar anymore. That will hold me back more than anything. I know that I’m strong enough to lift heavier than 75# and 110#, but I’m still real nervous. That shit is scary!

So now what? I’d like to at least maintain some consistency with both snatches and C&Js even though my weekly Sunday morning FatStrong workouts are over. I really don’t want to lose the progress I’ve made. So who knows, maybe I’ll still work on them on some more Sunday mornings in the future, when I feel like I’m not getting enough consistency in the weekly Crossfit group classes. I won’t rule it out. It’s been fun.

BREWERY VISIT: MILKMAN BREWING

Remember when I made that list of places in Pittsburgh that I want to check out? I crossed one off the list already!

On Saturday afternoon, CFBF, Les, and I took a trip to the Strip District to do some taste testing at Milkman Brewing. We had an awesome time. I was impressed.

Like a lot of my favorite breweries out there, the location was a little sketchy. The taproom is located on the second floor of a building that looks pretty abandoned from the street level. But don’t worry, there are signs to direct you to the beer.

For a new(ish) brewery, there was a great turnout on Saturday afternoon – lots of people at the bar. And the brewer who was manning the samples and taps was so friendly and really fun to talk to. As I’m known to do, I tried THEM ALL. But there were only 4, so it wasn’t really anything to brag about.

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My favorite was easily the Dahntahn Brahn – really flavorful and delicious. I enjoyed all the samples. In my opinion, the Peppermint Porter could have used more chocolate flavor to balance out the mint. I’m REALLY looking forward to the Samoa Stout that they’re currently working on. Chocolate, coconut, caramel, AND BEER!? Sign me up. I promised to be back for that one. The Double IPA and Irish Red Ale also sound like my style.

All in all, I would definitely recommend Milkman Brewing. The beers were really tasty. Only downside is that you can’t stay to enjoy a glass, growler fills only, but maybe one day. PA is a real pain about those licenses, I’ve heard.

Tell me, have you been to Milkman? What did you think?

(borrowed photos: 1/2)

A WEEK OF WORKOUTS

Warning, before you get any further, this one is wordy. Not sure what came over me tonight. Might be because I’ve been a bit MIA lately, but I’m working on that. Promise to post more than my weekly workouts in the weeks to come!

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On that note, week 3 of marathon training is in the books. Still feeling great. Read all about it!

Monday 10.20

  • 7 mile run, 8:58 average pace + strides for some speed work. It was COLD this morning, and my whole run was in the dark. But felt good holding the 9min pace.

Tuesday 10.21

  • AM Crossfit
    • 15 min power cleans: sets of 3, working up in weight, 1:30 rest between sets
    • WOD, AMRAP 15, ladder 2-4-6-8…:
      KB Swings @ 70/53#
      Burpees
      rest 0:45
  • I usually like working on cleans, even though I tend to get a little psyched out when the weight gets “heavy” (meaning what I think is heavy). I got up to 90# and failed on the 3rd one; dropped back down to 85# – easy; went back up to 90# and got it done. YES! It was ALL in my head. Does that happen to you? I know I’m not the only one.
  • WOD was deceivingly tough. Loooong 15 minutes. I used a 35# KB and got through round 18 with 15 sec left.
  • PM 4 mile recovery run, 9:47 pace. WHY IS IT SO COLD!?!?

Wednesday 10.22

  • Rest & travel day

Thursday 10.23

  • 9 mile run, 8:56 pace. I was staying in a hotel in a Richmond suburb and the area was TERRIBLE for running. SO, SO BAD. And I usually love running in new places when I travel! I did a lot of out-and-backs, going until the sidewalk ended, and plenty of looping around the development where the hotel was. (I was quite familiar by the end.) Suburban streets are terribly lit – took a branch to the face once. I was just a big crab about this run. BUT I DID IT! Really thankful that I told everybody that I was traveling with about my run at dinner the night before. I needed the accountability for this one. Thanks, guys.

Friday 10.22

Saturday 10.23

  • The usual LR with SCRR. I had 16 miles on the calendar, but the group run maxed out at 10, so I did 6 solo on the trail before I met up with everybody else. Not tons of fun, but I was glad to get those out of the way so I could finish it up with some company. Held a good 9:02 pace and enjoyed the back 10. Excellent.
  • I’m still working on figuring out post-LR food. Not handling it well so far. Hello, 10pm binges on chips and dip. Those have got to stop. I’m determined to not let this marathon training cycle destroy my diet like it has in the past. Looking for tips!

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Sunday 10.24

  • My last Sunday working on my October goal! OMG!! Did exactly what I wanted to do: PRed both lifts. Managed a 75# snatch, an UGLY power snatch, but still a snatch. Also pulled out a 110# clean & jerk. I was so proud. I’ll recap my monthly challenge later this week.

PITTSBURGH RESTAURANT WISHLIST

I like to keep a running list of local restaurants that I want to check out, so when the occasion comes up and I’m making plans to go out I can cross some places off of my wish list. I’m constantly changing what’s on this list, adding and removing. And my picks come from all over the place – recommendations, online reviews, Yelp photos. I’m pretty obsessed with looking at food photos on Yelp before I eat somewhere. I promise, you learn a lot about the best thing to order by flipping through those pictures. Check it out.

So here’s what sounds good to me at the moment. I’ll follow up when I make it to any of these places to let you know what I think. You know, because I love talking food.

STREET FOOD: LUCY’S, Strip District

  • Been wanting to try an authentic Bahn Mi sandwich for a while. Read some good things on the web about this place. Now on my list for a Saturday afternoon lunch stop.

JAPANESE: TEPPANYAKI KYOTO, Highland Park

  • I know NOTHING about Japanese food. But I have a couple friends who recommended this place. So it warranted a spot on my list. Probably a date night pick.

CHARCUTERIE: CURE, Lawrenceville

  • If I could drink beer and eat a good meat/cheese/pickled veggie board for lunch every day with no consequences, I think I could die happy. Not interested in this place for dinner. Just a drink and that salumi plate.

PIZZA: BREAD AND SALT, (Coming Soon to) Bloomfield

  • Not open yet, but you better believe I’ll be there when it is. Pizza lover, big time.

CHARCUTERIE + PIZZA: SIENNA MERCATO’S MEZZO, Downtown

  • Um, YES! Meat board + pizza!?!? Why do I even have other places on this list? I’ve visited Emporio (the meatball place) on the first level of this restaurant and LOVED it. Also had a drink on the rooftop at Il Tetto – good beers, cool setting. So I’m really excited to check out the middle level.

DONUTS: GRANDVIEW BAKERY, Mt. Washington

  • This place is HIGH on my list for Donut Friday. Look. at. those. Beautiful.

BEER: MILKMAN BREWING, Strip District

  • Brewery I haven’t tried. Enough said.

TACOS: TAKO, (Coming Soon to) Downtown

  • “Globally inspired tacos” from the same guys who do Butcher & the Rye and Meat & Potatoes. Sounds promising.

Now talk to me! What’s on your list? What needs to be on mine? Try anything new and awesome lately?

(photos: 1/2/3/4/5/6/7)