Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer in Atlanta: The Weekend the Diet Died

This past weekend was another good one in the books! Atlanta summers, although hot, are off to a good start!

On Friday evening I was out with the run group for one of our really fun monthly “Catch Ups” – which are evenings out that are welcome to all active runners. The location is announced only at the weekly runs and it is a fun way to get to know the other runners better. I attended my first back in March and then the “Runcation” counted as the event for April, followed by our evening of roller skating in May, and this past weekend in June.

We went to a local restaurant called Pure that was new to me but turns out they have amaaazing margaritas. They definitely will need to be making an appearance within my life at more points in the future. And speaking of points, it is at this point in the weekend (okay, so pretty much like 2 hours into the weekend) that counting Weight Watchers points went out the window and I decided to order an appetizer of a bowl full of melted cheese to eat tortilla chips. Between that and the margarita in my hand, things were done and done for my Weight Watchers tracking for the weekend. I’d managed to not totally blow things earlier in the week so I did have some room to spare, however, I remember back in the day when I used to attend Weight Watchers meerings, that a margarita is actually about 95 points per ounce, so I knew I was kind of screwed between the few that I consumed. Oh and that melted cheese.

The night was actually so much fun and I had a really good time with the crew. It was a special Catch Up as it was the last that one before our leader moves out of state, so we had a few surprises lined up, including a cake. And you know, since my mind was already out of sorts with the cheese and margaritas, of course I had about 3 pieces.  At least I wasn't the only one.

But again, food aside, the night was a blast! The restaurant we were at was right along the route of the “Moonlight Ride” which is a bike cycling event in Atlanta where a few thousand riders head out around 10pm for a 10-ish mile ride through the city with music blasting and lights rigged all along the bikes. A few members of crew were going to be out riding so we went outside to cheer and just had a hysterical time cheering and dancing for all the riders going through the street. I love people who aren’t afraid to dance in the middle of the street (or sidewalk) in front of tons of other people. If you do that, you are my people.  If you also like to play games.  You are my people.

Saturday morning was an early one and the alarm went off way to soon as I got up to head out to the Atlanta Braves Country 5K race that started outside of Turner Field and ended inside of the stadium on the dirt! There were a few of us running and I love having people to meet at these races as there are so many times I used to show up at races all by myself.

I will do a whole post just about the race, but spoiler alert – I got a new personal best time!!!

It was a tough race and it was hot out. I left the stadium, unfortunately, not being able to spend time with my friends afterwards, to jump in my car and drive down the road where I was leaving on a 9:00 a.m. bike ride.

Yes, I left a run still sweaty and heat rate up, to go bike. I know, sometimes I try to do too much. But there is just so much fun to be had and I like to fit it all in!

The entire week in Atlanta it has been “Atlanta Cycling Festival” with numerous events and group rides going on. I had actually attended one on Thursday night which was put on by the group We Heart ATL and I only joined for a portion of the ride before having to go home. We rode to a few different landmarks in the city, and although interesting at times, was pretty slow paced and not super exciting.

A friend of mine who I actually used to work with in my last job in Schenectady and who ALSO just moved to Atlanta (yay!) was doing this Saturday morning ride put on my another group – Living Wall ATL – and invited me to join. We’ve been trying to get together and this ride sounded way cooler than the last, so I decided to give it a go.

We biked about 12 miles total, although with many many breaks, and stopped for 1-2 minutes through the city at various pieces of street art and wall murals! It was amazing and a very cool experience to discover where some of these beautiful pieces of art work live in the city. It helped me to get a better feel for riding in the roads, gave me a lot of “seat time” on the bike, even though we didn’t do a ton of miles (we were out on the bikes for about 3 hours), and also the opportunity to catch up with a friend!

It was an incredibly well organized ride, with the members of the Metro Atlanta Cycling Club helping to patrol, guide, and keep the group moving. They would block intersections for us to cross, stay on the perimeter to keep us in line, shout out directions, and essentially keep the large group of inexperienced riders from being compete menaces on the road. They were seriously fantastic and helped contribute to making this ride such a fun experience. The street art was all very cool as well. 

Following the ride, I was exhausted and in MUCH need of a shower. I picked up an amazing lunch from the recommended to me to go lunch and juice place, Kale Me Crazy, and brought it home where I showered, ate, and passed out on the couch for a couple hours. It was so very much needed!  My meal was fantastic and I cannot wait to eat it again and also try to recreate it on my own.

I probably could have been happy there all day but with the help of some coffee and friends, I rallied to return BACK to Turner Field for the 3rd time that day (we rode our bikes by it during the ride) and the 4th time this week for the Braves vs. Mets game. We got tickets as part of our race registration and there was a large group of friends from the running crew that were all going to be there.

The sunset was beautiful. The company was fantastic. And the food was a flowing.

At this point I knew I was out of any extra Weight Watchers points. Given the exercise from the day, I had eaten my allotment of points due to being hungry. Going hungry is not my style and there aren’t a ton of healthy options at the baseball stadium. There’s also beer. And snacks. So I ended up having a couple beers, some buttered stadium popcorn, and a piece of pizza. The pizza tasted like Bagel Bites and wasn’t even that good, but I was hungry and it hit the spot at the time. The beer on the other hand, tasted like a million bucks.  Oh and the other exciting thing about the game??  I MADE IT ON TO THE JUMBO TRON!!!!  TWICE!!!  Two times when I was standing and dancing by myself in the row (don't judge) the camera swooped to me and it was so fun and funny.  My friend got it on camera but unfortunately it looks like I am wearing a diaper.

Following the concert was a Boyz II Men concert at the stadium. I tell ya, this Saturday was PACKED. We had a great time singing our hearts out and enjoying the 90s jams before I returned home to PASS OUT HARD in bed.

I was up early to get in my actual longer training run for the weekend, which was to run 7 miles.  I was lucky enough to have a friend who decided to join me and it turned out really awesome because I was able to just zone out as he planned the route and told me when to turn.  We zigzagged through Piedmont Park for a hot 7 miles, finishing with some cold water I had safely stashed in some bushes.  It felt good to get the miles in and I was proud that the whole 7 were done under a 10 minute pace.

I'm still not sure what to expect for my marathon time as I do believe I am a bit faster than I have been in the past but not sure how that sustains over 26.2 miles.

Anyways, following the run, I went home and showered and changed and went out to meet a friend to go to a church service at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

For those of you who pay attention, you'll notice that I have never written about attending church ever, which is likely because I don't remember the last time I attended church outside of a wedding.  It is not something I do regularly or have ever particularly even enjoyed, but in discussing the Charleston shootings with a friend, she invited to me attend.  She goes to the Ebenezer Baptist Church, which is the church where Martin Luther King Sr. was a pastor and Martin Luther King Jr. also served at times.  It is the church where his funeral was held and is now across the street with his memorial.  The church is a symbol in the black community and now has a charter committed to social justice.  I was told that the sermons are often not very church like, but are lectures on current events.  After attending, I believe that is true as well - except there was also incredible music!  One of the members of the church who sings the solos is Jennifer Holliday, who is one of the original Dreamgirls!

Since the service was the Sunday after an event like the shooting, my friend told me it would surely be packed and a really interesting service.  She was totally right and I really enjoyed attending my first service at a "black church" which really is not meant to be defined by race, but defined by being the "anti-slavery church."  Which is something we all can be on board with.  I loved the music.  The words spoken.  The casualness of it.  And the fact that the location is filled with so much history that attending that very same service was Martin Luther King Jr's sister.  How amazing is that?  It was a very welcome new experience in my life.

Following the service was when the food crept into my Sunday.  I met a friend for lunch and there was more chips, shrimp and grits, quesadillas, empenadas, margaritas, frozen yogurt, and all the goodness.  And I will say that I was quite impressed with my frozen yogurt mixture of key lime pie froyo with graham cracker crumbs and white chocolate chips.  SOOO GOOD!

Since I ran in the morning, I was not planning to run in the evening, but I did attend the run because we were celebrating Father's Day at the run.  It is always exciting when there is a special occassion run and I had volunteered to hold a sign and cheer.  I love to cheer and the Friday night shenanigans reminded me of just how much!  Plus, we were all wearing ties for Father's Day and that sounded fun and I didn't want to miss out!

Per usual, it was an awesome way to close out the weekend with an evening with friends.  And because I hadn't consumed enough calories this weekend and I needed to make up for the pizza I had had the night before that was not the best... we decided to go out for pizza after the run!

I ordered two slices and ate them both because that's how I roll.  Happy Sunday to you.

This was another great summer weekend in Atlanta and also the weekend that the diet died.  I'm doing my best to recover now, but.... it is hard.  I'm on the road this week and that doesn't usually go to well for me.  However, I have a training schedule and will be getting my workouts in, so I am looking forward to that.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

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