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Cakes and Ale Anniversary

Tuesday marked 2 years of marriage for Jeff and I. I’m gonna avoid all the mushy stuff and just tell you about the amazing dinner we had at Cakes and Ale, a local Decatur restaurant we’ve been meaning to try for a long time.

Cakes and Ale menu

Jeff at Cakes and Ale

They claimed to be pretty booked, so we had to come in early at 6:30 to grab seats before the rush. We figured we could just grab a few cocktails and take it slow.

I started with a truly delicious whiskey cocktail with flavors of orange and honey. Not too sweet and just boozy enough. Jeff went with a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, one of our favorites and one that we just tried to clone recently with our 4th ever home brew!

Orange and honey cocktail

Ok so, I have stated many times throughout my life that the only seafood I don’t like is the oyster. BUT, while we were in Seattle we were served a plate of Kumamoto oysters that we weren’t expecting┬áduring an omakase sushi dinner and loved them. Cakes and Ale had three types of oysters that you could order individually for a little snack, including the Kumamoto, so we asked for 2 to see if we still enjoyed them.

Kumamoto oyster with shallot mingonette

These teensy little beauties nestled in their curly-lipped shells were served with a lightly acidic shallot mignonette. They were just as tasty as I remembered. Apparently, I just like Washington oysters.

First appetizer was the arancini with citrus and fennel pollen. These little balls of creamy risotto were perfectly fried to a light golden crispness and were barely kissed with the aromatic fennel pollen that was more of an aroma than a flavor.

Arancini with citrus and fennel pollen

Next was the tatsoi (asian spinach) salad with shaved carrot and radish, citrus avocado puree, fresh cilantro, and peanuts. So refreshing! I think the farmer’s market has a type of asian spinach so I might try to recreate this one at home. The cilantro really made it.

Tatsoi salad with cilantro and peanuts

Then we moved on to the heavier stuff. First was the gnocchi verde with rabbit ragu. Wow guys…incredible. Perfectly pillowy gnocchi and the most intense and luscious ragu ever. Rabbit reminds me of the flavor of slow roasted pork, very soft and sweet.

Gnocchi verde with rabbit ragu

We decided to split the ribeye with crispy fennel and horseradish cream for our entree. It takes nearly an hour to prepare, so we ordered it pretty early in the evening and tried to take it slow so there wouldn’t be too much down time waiting for it.

Ribeye with crispy fennel and horseradish cream

This thing was huge! Very little fat and perfectly salted and crusty on the outside with a meltingly soft center. The crispy fennel reminded me of fried okra, and the horseradish cream wasn’t too spicy and complemented everything on the plate. Well worth the wait.

We both ordered another round of cocktails before getting down to dessert. This was the Spring Fever, with a bitter lemon soda that served as a nice palate cleanser.

Me at Cakes and Ale

I chose dessert. We had a meyer lemon tart with an almond crust and almond praline, topped with meringue and resting on a bit of raspberry puree.

Ya’ll know I love lemon desserts, right? This one was beyond tart to the point of being downright sour, but I loved it that way. Jeff kept making the sour lemon face with every bite though, and eventually relinquished the last few bites to me. Score.

Meyer lemon tart with meringue

Cakes and Ale was outstanding. We’ve been avoiding it because it’s, well…expensive. And every time I’ve checked their ever-changing menu online I haven’t been too excited about the offerings. I’m really glad we just went for it because everything was beyond my expectations and the staff was super-friendly and helpful. They also have a bakery and coffee shop next door that we’ll have to hit up for breakfast some time.

Well that was dinner. Now, presents! Well, one present. I assumed that we weren’t exchanging gifts this year because we’re going on vacation soon (more on that later,) so I didn’t get Jeff anything. He, however, schemed to get me a little something that I’m very excited about. Check it out!

stock lens taken with 50mm lens

That’s the stock lens that came with the Canon Rebel camera Jeff got me for Christmas. But I took the photo with my new “Nifty Fifty” 50mm/f 1.8 lens!

I tend to gravitate towards these super wide aperture shots (only a small part is in focus and the rest is fuzzy) and this lens is awesome at making those shots happen easily. It’s fixed focal though, meaning you can’t zoom but rather have to physically move yourself closer or farther from your subject. It’s taking some getting used to, but it’s not as hard as I thought it would be.

What is your significant other’s best quality?

What’s a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try for a long time?

 

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Tour Decatur 5k, 2012

This race did not go so well for me. Let me start at the beginning…

Friday night, I got no sleep. I have no idea why. We just got a brand new mattress that I’ve been sleeping very well on otherwise, so I’m not sure why I kept waking up every hour throughout the night. I got up with no problems though, and didn’t really feel tired.

I ate a bagel with goat cheese, which is normally my favorite for pre-workout fuel, but I had a really hard time choking it down and didn’t even finish it. I did manage to gulp down about 8 oz. of water though.

The race started at Decatur High School, which is actually walking distance from my house, so I walked over there about 15 minutes before start time while Jeff finished getting ready so he could take pictures as I passed (the course went through our neighborhood.)

As the race started at about 9:15, I felt totally fine. I knew that I hadn’t really trained for this race because I’ve been busy doing the LiveFit training program which restricts cardio in the first month, but it was a beautiful day and I was feeling good and trusted in my overall fitness level to get me through the 3.1 miles even if I didn’t set any records.

I wasn’t even half a mile into the race before I started feeling tired though. My legs were heavy and achey, my head was pounding, and my neck was tight. I was huffing and puffing and really having to push myself to keep moving, even while only doing around a 12 minute mile pace.

About half way through 5k

As I passed Jeff around 1.2 miles in, I let myself stop for a minute and confessed to him that I was really struggling. I ran around the corner but was walking again by the time I was out of sight.

Turning the corner

As I continued on, Jeff started walking down to the high school to meet me at the finish line. Really, I was hurting so badly and breathing so hard that if I didn’t know that he was at the finish line waiting for me I would have just cut back through the neighborhood and headed home.

I tried hard to run as much as I could for the rest of the way, but it wasn’t a mental game anymore, I had a physical need to walk instead of run. I saved up my energy, and ran the last little bit onto the football field and through the finish line.

Coming into the finish

39:32, my slowest 5k yet.

I’d say that it’s just a product of not having really trained for this race, or that I didn’t sleep enough or ate breakfast too close to the start time, but I know there’s something else going on here. I seriously felt like a might have an aneurism around mile 2, and that makes absolutely no sense for someone who has a very healthy diet and exercises regularly. It also makes absolutely no sense to me that I’ve been trying my hardest to be a runner for nearly 3 years and I still to this day cannot run an entire mile without stopping. I mean, I could, but it’d leave me too exhausted to go any farther than that.

And then something clicked when I was talking with Jeff about this the other day. I just had blood work done recently so he asked me if my iron levels had come out as low because it sounded like I might be anemic. This was odd because I’ve been tested for anemia many times throughout my life because I’ve always shown the classic signs of iron deficiency, the most notable being persistent fatigue, but my iron levels have always been normal. I have; however, had extremely low levels of B12 for at least the last few years which has no dietary explanation. As it turns out, a serious B12 deficiency can manifest in much the same way as iron anemia, with chronic fatigue and difficulty breathing.

So, I’m writing all this because I intend to pursue some options with my doctor to get my B12 levels back into a normal range, and see if that has any affect on my running abilities and my overall energy levels. I want to share a bit of this journey here on the blog because I’m sure I’m not the only person out there who really struggles with exercise endurance, and if low B12 turns out to be the magic answer for me, then maybe that information can help someone else too.

This may have been my slowest race yet, but I’m actually extremely proud of myself because I truly had to fight to finish it. I’m hoping that if I can figure out what’s going on with this intense fatigue, it’ll be the last one that beats me.

 

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The race is (back) on!

The last race I ran in was the Tour Decatur 5k about a year ago. I ran a bit more here and there after that and then pretty much just stopped running entirely until a few months ago.

End of Tour Decatur 5k

There are a lot of reasons why I fell off the wagon with running; I was a bit depressed in our old apartment, I didn’t have a gym membership and couldn’t motivate to run outside in the Georgia heat, and I was stressed out with trying to find a new place to live while packing and starting to write a cookbook. All that is behind me now though. Since October I’ve been getting back out there running around my neighborhood and then pounding the treadmill at the gym after I signed up in January.

Today I signed up for the Tour Decatur 5k again, the same race I ran a year ago. I think it’s a fitting re-entry into racing, don’t you?

I don’t know if I’ll beat my PR or anything, but I’m glad to just be getting back out there.

In other fitness news, I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been doing Jamie Eason’s LiveFit trainer featured on Bodybuilding.com. I just finished week 2 (of 12) today and I already feel amazing!

I was so impressed with Janetha’s results on Meals and Moves that I knew I just had to give it a shot. While I knew I enjoyed strength training, I didn’t realize just how much. Before this program, I only knew how to do some very basic weightlifting, and I knew nothing about how to structure a routine or how to use some of the scarier-looking weight machines. With this program, everything is explained in detail and every recommended exercise is accompanied by a video clip showing just how to do it.

At just 2 weeks in, I’ll hold off on a more detailed review until later, but I can say that even after such a short time on the program I can already see muscle definition peeking out and though I’ve gained a few pounds in muscle, it’s obvious to me that I’ve already let go of a little fat.

The hardest part of the LiveFit program to me is the constant eating and guzzling of water! I feel like it’s a full time job to keep myself fed and hydrated. It’s a small price to pay though to look as fit and fabulous as Jamie!

So, it’s been a bit of a fitness-splosion going on over here! Hopefully after my 5k this month I’ll feel confident enough to start looking for a 10k to do, and maybe a half marathon later in the year if I’m feeling crazy.

Do you have any fitness goals for this year?