My First Marathon

When chaos breaks loose and life hurls challenges and obstacles that are beyond our control, a sense of helplessness and defeat can set in. But what these complications (also known as life) can also do, is spur inspiration. Inspiration to grow. To change. To take on new challenges outside of our comfort zones. And to take control of something we’re able to. Several months ago I experienced some major growing pains with personal relationships, moving into my own apartment for the first time, transitioning jobs and battling a series of illnesses. Lying around crying and feeling bad for myself got old quickly. So I pep-talked myself into putting on some clothes, going outside and running.

The constant footfall along the Venice Beach bike path was like therapy for the soul. As the miles passed, the problems seemed to go with them. An escape from the dark things crashing down around me, running was my refuge. I needed motivation and something to strive for in order to escape this rut. Which is why I decided to train for a marathon. Let things be as they may; I can’t control everything in life, but I can commit to a goal and do my best to see it through to the end. This marathon has been my coping mechanism, the carrot I’m chasing when I wake up at 6:00 am to run 8 miles before work, or dig a foam roller into my stressed hip flexor or force down some disgusting fruit-flavored GU as I reach mile 14 on a Saturday morning run.

Beach running

❤ Beach running

Growing up, I played a variety of sprint-related sports – soccer, basketball, short distance track – but long distance was never appealing to me. As I’ve gotten older and team sports have become more difficult to commit to both time-wise and body-wise (my 28-year-old bones aren’t as resilient as they were ten years ago), running has become more appealing. I can do it without relying on others, I can fit it into my ever-changing schedule, it’s a killer cardio workout and best of all, it’s FREE!

A marathon was always something I’d dreamed of doing, but it seemed like a far-fetched goal. With previous sports injuries under my belt, it was easy to shrug it off and postpone the 26.2 miles until next year. Or the next year. Or the next year. Until this year, when January rolled around and I made the mental commitment to pick a race and negate any and all excuses. San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon, it is. Which is supposed to be a great route and even more badass than your typical marathon because they have live bands performing at every mile marker. I did the Los Angeles Rock and Roll Half Marathon a year and a half ago and the bands made it fun and (slightly) distracting from pain along the way.

A green horn distance runner, I hit the internet to research training programs, subscribed to Runner’s Magazine, and suddenly began caring about the quality of running socks I owned. Are they wool?  Moisture wicking? Extra cushioning in the heel and toes? Hal Higdon’s training program won me over, so I downloaded his running app and I’ve been consuming pages of his book, Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. I also talk to any and everyone who will talk to me about running – attempting to get advice from more seasoned runners than I and to recruit running partners along the way. You could say I’ve become obsessed with the process.

The 18-week program I’ve signed onto has been pretty logically sound (click here to check it out), but admittedly given personal schedule issues, I’ve cheated here and there. A month out from marathon day (Sunday June 2, 2013) I’ve run 195.33 miles, and this little running app ($9.99 on iOs – Android is soon to come) helps me keep track of it day by day:

Hal Higdon's Novice 1 Marathon Training App.

Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 Marathon Training App. Look how adorable this little running guy is!

* NOTE: I also LOVE the RunKeeper App which is free (on iOs and Android)

As race day approaches, I’ll try to be better about blogging more consistently. I’m learning a lot about the ups and downs of training, as well as how certain exercises, stretches and training methods affect your body. So does nutrition, sleep and mentality. Any sound advice from books, magazines, articles and seasoned runners will make an appearance in the next several blog entries for any of you who’ve considered a marathon, or running more long distance in general. This morning I covered eight miles, tomorrow’s a rest day and Saturday’s 14. Gulp. 26.2 miles is starting to seem a bit crazy…

Eat, Drink And Be Merry: Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival 2012

La Food & Wine 2012

Photo credit: Barnaby Draper Studios

The second annual LA Food & Wine Festival took over Los Angeles last weekend, doing well to far exceed expectations. Below is a clip from my boozy/foodie-filled recap originally published on Cocktails & Joints. Click through to read the rest of the article and create some page hits for my employer, will ya?

Cheers!

Eat, Drink and Be Merry: Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival 2012

The constant splash of liquid pours, clinking glasses, scraping forks, mmmm’s and ahh’s and buzz words such as “tannins” or “smooth finish,” permeate the white tarp walls of a massive tent in downtown Los Angeles. For its second consecutive year, LA Food & Wine invited Angelenos to enjoy the fruits of the nation’s finest chefs and winemakers all in one place. The four-day festival kicked off August 9th, highlighting seminars and tastings from famed vineyards and renowned culinary names such as Wolfgang Puck, Ming Tsai, Guy Fieri, Cambria Estate and Robert Craig.

The birth of LA Food & Wine occurred as a result of a similar festival in Los Angeles that Puck started roughly thirty years earlier. He’s since teamed up with LA Food & Wine organizer David Bernahl for the second year to put their own spin on it.

“I want L.A. to be the premiere food city in the world,” said Puck.

Working towards that goal, the festival estimated an attendance of over 15,000 people eager to enjoy 140 chefs and 200 wineries at events in downtown, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Hollywood. Thursday night’s first public event was Giada de Laurentiis’ Festa Italiana, which was held at Nokia Center at L.A. Live. The tasty affair featured heavy hitters in the foodie world such as Michael Chiarello, Scott Contant and Fabio Viviani. Friday evening’s “Summer at the Shore” at The Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica gave a nod to the culinary scene on the West Side of Los Angeles. Also featured were dozens of prominent wineries, happy to flex their grape smashing muscles. Napa Valley’s Joseph Phelps Vineyards had a luring array of wines (in particular, the Cabernet Sauvignon), as did Solvang’s Buttonwood Farm and champagne from Nicolas Feuillatte. Small bites were a big hit from David Plonowski (Bar Pintxos in Santa Monica), Jeremy Grossman (Sonoma Wine Garden in Santa Monica) and Kerry Heffernan (Top Chef Masters, based in New York), among others. Those looking to end their night on a sweet note were wise to swing by Ann Ryan’s Beach Cream stand (based in Santa Monica), whose small batch ice cream sandwiches made you wish you had room for seconds.

Read more at http://cocktailsandjoints.com/dining/la-food-and-wine.php#blj7do41vk0eQbTK.99

A Surge in Beach Side Craft Cocktailing

Justin Pike, Tasting Kitchen

Justin Pike, Tasting Kitchen

Check out my debut article on newly-launched online magazine, Cocktails & Joints re-posted below. Reading and sharing with your friends may result in vast knowledge about LA’s beach side cocktail bars, awesome bartenders and rockstar drinks. Just in time for summer! Read on…

A Surge in Beach Side Craft Cocktailing

By Jessica Borges

Over the past three years, high-end bars proffering well made cocktails have been popping up all over the beach communities of Los Angeles. And the people behind these places are working extremely hard to prove they’re every bit as legit as the craft cocktail movement’s early adopters in Hollywood and Downtown.

No longer is it necessary for the folks who prefer to don flip-flops and ride beach cruisers to battle traffic in order to get a well-made Negroni, when there’s such a variety of watering holes that use fresh juices, home made syrups and designer ice cubes right in their own backyard.

The craft cocktail scene emerged in Downtown and Hollywood about five years ago, and it soon became apparent to some that this culinary approach to drinks could be duplicated elsewhere. Vincenzo Marianella, who artfully fashioned the cocktail menus at Providence and the Doheny, was one of the first to successfully launch this kind of a drinks menu when he opened Copa d’Oro in Santa Monica in 2009. It was (and continues to be) a big success, and other craft cocktail bars soon followed.

“The scene has changed so much over the last few years. Now there is a place in every neighborhood that you can get a classic or original cocktail,” said Rich Andreoli, Bar Manager at popular Santa Monica restaurant and bar, Areal (formerly World Café). “I’m seeing more and more guests familiar with the classics, and they have an expectation of fresh juices, homemade syrups and a knowledgeable bartender.” Areal opened its doors last year with a casual, yet culinary milieu. Backing this up is skilled staff trained to make bar goers any drink of choice simply based on a spirit and flavor profile of choice. Though should you order off the menu, The Lily (reposado tequila, fresh lemon and lime, agave and grapefruit bitters) is a must-try.

Just over a mile away in Venice, Justin Pike, of Tasting Kitchen uses fresh, local ingredients on their drinks menu, which makes all the difference in their signature Baby Bird (lavender tonic and vodka) or the Golden Ticket (Pisco, passion fruit juice and honey). While they’ve been focused on crafting well-made drinks since opening in 2009, Pike stresses the importance of serving these tipples sans snobbery or in-your-face mixology jargon. “We try to do the best we can here without being pretentious,” he said. “In the end, a bar should be like a party where you just want everyone to have a fun time.”

Marcos Tello, a well-known Los Angeles cocktail consultant (1886, Cana, The Varnish) agrees with the importance of customer service in this industry. His involvement with the cocktail menu at popular Marina del Rey restaurant/bar Killer Shrimp is his first West Side project. Much of what inspired him when creating this menu was a true understanding of what the customers wanted. “There’s only going to be a certain amount of people who will drive a distance to your bar, and the rest are going to be locals,” Tello said. “You have to cater to your community and I think that’s most important. People can get a drink anywhere, but they won’t come back if the service isn’t there.” Located on the water in the Marina, much of the cocktail menu is beach-inspired, luring in locals and tourists alike to sip on The Pieces of Eight (Cruzan aged rum, house made passion fruit syrup and fresh pineapple).

Click Here to Read More

“Dan Dunn’s Happy Hour” Launches on SiriusXM

Dan Dunn's Happy HourStory below originally published on CitySip.com

“Dan Dunn’s Happy Hour” Launches on SiriusXM

After years of writing spirited books, boozy magazine columns, memoir-esq TV pilots and producing podcasts, Dan Dunn has penetrated yet another form of storytelling: SiriusXM Radio. His live, weekly one-hour radio show, “Dan Dunn’s Happy Hour,” hit the airwaves May 18th. Dunn drinks for a living and trails his adventures through his writing, which is now broadcast to all listeners who tune in to Stars Too – Channel 104 on the satellite radio network. Live from remote locations such as bars, restaurants, lounges and festivals, “Happy Hour” sheds some light for listeners on wines, spirits and liquors in an entertaining, lighthearted form. Dunn’s guests include high profile celebrity guests, mixologists, industry experts and any interesting characters he may meet at the bar.

The show’s first guest Joel Stein, TIME Magazine columnist and author of the newly released book, “Man Made,” joined Dunn at the posh Montage Hotel’s 10 Pound Bar in Beverly Hills, CA. They discussed the premise of Stein’s book, which documents various “manly” things Stein attempts in effort to prep for raising his unborn son. Dunn also invited Global Brand Ambassador for The Macallan, Eden Algie, to call in, discussing the ups and downs of teaching Stein to drink Scotch like a man. 10 Pound Bartender Nick Daniels mixed up a “Jimmy Mac” cocktail (made with The Macallan 18-year old), which was created by internationally renowned barman Jimmy Yeager, owner of Jimmy’s Bar in Aspen, CO.

Dunn’s second show aired May 24th and starred one recognized from popular Dos Equis commercials: The Most Interesting Man, Jonathan Goldsmith. The two met at Bar Seven Five in the Andaz Hotel on Wall Street in New York City and discussed Goldsmith’s acting career and how he nabbed a role in one of the most iconic commercials of late. Mixologist and consultant, Phil Duff also joined, serving up his cocktail, the “Hanky Panky.”

Actor and comedian Ray Romano of the hit TV series, “Everyone Loves Raymond” met with Dunn the following week for some ribs and cocktails at Baby Blues BBQ in West Hollywood, CA. Fellow comedian and friend of Romano, Tom Caltabiano also joined, along with bartender Silamith Weir who whipped up some classic Negronis. Last week’s show aired from a spirit-focused watering hole, Neat Bar in Glendale, CA, where owner, mixologist and spirits consultant Aiden Demarest talked industry with Dunn. Adding some comedic flare, actors Oliver Cooper and Rob Evors of the movie, “Project X” stopped by to enjoy whiskey and discuss the madness of shooting massive house party scenes in sleepy Pasadena, CA.

Click here to read more and to see who today’s guest on the show is.

A Gin-centric British Invasion at MCC

2nd Annual British Invasion

London based bartender Tony Conigliaro

At the recent annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic, spirits industry folk from around the globe convened in New York City for five days of boozing, learning about boozing, making said booze, and taste testing these liquid libations. With nearly one hundred festival events across the city, attendees had nary any downtime. One cocktail party in particular kicked off on a sunny afternoon upon the rooftop of the newly opened Euro-style NoMad Hotel – The” 2nd Annual British Invasion.” Check out the goings-on of this gin-soaked, British-themed celebration in my story below, originally published on TheImbiber.net.

A Gin-centric British Invasion at MCC

Wikipedia defines the British Invasion as “an American term used to describe the many rock, and pop performers from the United Kingdom who became popular in the United States during the mid-1960s.” This incomplete definition is yet another reason why I prefer to gather information the old fashioned way, through gossip and hearsay. How the hell can you talk about a British Invasion without mentioning England’s most precious export, gin? Crazy, silly amounts of gin. Fortunately, the good folks at Pernod Ricard are on top of things. They recently invaded the rooftop of the NoMad Hotel in New York City during the annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic, rocking craft cocktails featuring Beefeater 24 and Plymouth English Gin at the sun-soaked Second Annual British Invasion party.

Guests were among the first to peruse the newly opened NoMad Hotel’s rooftop, overlooking stunning views of the nearby Empire State Building. Famed London bartender Tony Conigliaro (69 Colebrooke Row) hopped the pond to flex his mixology muscles behind a bar set up inside the rooftop’s Parisian style dome. His cocktail, the “Reimagined Gibson” featured Beefeater 24, homemade pearl onion juice and dry vermouth. Once word spread about the drink’s interesting flavor profile and smooth finish, people were ten deep at his bar.

Read More Here…

Tales of the Cocktail Announces Spirited Awards Nominees

Tales of the Cocktail

In an annual event that unites the cocktail world to celebrate their passion, hard work and dedication for and to the industry, Tales of the Cocktail gears up for this summer’s much anticipated 10-year anniversary celebration. Communing in New Orleans for five days of cocktails, cuisine and culture, this year’s festival brings together industry professionals and enthusiasts from around the world July 25th through the 29th. Amid the tastings, competitions, seminars and parties taking place this week, is the highly recognized Tales of the Cocktail 2012 Spirited Awards, which honors some of the world’s best bars, bartenders, writers, cocktail experts and more. After a rigorous evaluation of hundreds of nominees, the Top 10 Finalists for the Sixth Annual 2012 Spirited Awards have just been announced for each of the 17 categories.

A judging committee of respected international names in the cocktail industry was tasked with selecting the finalists. Winners will be announced on Saturday July 28, 2012 at the Spirited Awards ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans. These awards recognize bartenders, writers, bars and cocktail experts who continually challenge and push the industry into new, creative directions. Each award recipient will receive an exclusive Riedel Crystal trophy.

“The Spirited Awards ceremony is the night when the cocktail industry can step out from behind the bar to receive the recognition it deserves,” said Ann Tuennerman, Founder of Tales of the Cocktail.

Pernod Ricard USA will sponsor this year’s Spirited Awards, in the fifth consecutive year the company has participated in the event. Also participating is Beverage Media Group Inc., who will recognize 10 Up & Coming Mixologists selected from the Tales of the Cocktail Apprentice Program.

Tales of the Cocktail

Tickets to the Spirited Awards ceremony are $65.00 for individuals or $650.00 per tables of 10 seats. These can be purchased online now at TalesoftheCocktail.com. Below is a list of Los Angeles’s top talent selected as nominees. Click here for a complete line up of all nominees across each of the 17 categories. Congrats to all!

BIG UPS TO THE LOS ANGELES NOMINEES:

  • Eric Alperin (The Varnish): American Bartender of the Year
  • Vincenzo Marianella (Copa d’Oro): American Bartender of the Year
  • La Descarga: Best American Cocktail Bar, World’s Best New Cocktail Bar, Best High Volume Cocktail Bar
  • The Varnish: Best American Cocktail Bar, World’s Best Cocktail Bar

Music That Makes You Move

workout music

Music works wonders to get you off the couch and into those running kicks. With the right kind of playlist, exercising can actually be fun! I’m working on a new Spotify workout playlist to jam to once my back is feeling better. Here’s a few of my favorites.

Would love to hear some of your suggestions!


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