Tag Archives: San Francisco

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The Ultimate Guide to San Francisco Part Two: Restaurants

Your Guide to San Francisco Restaurants, just in time for your trip to the city for the Super Bowl or vacation.

This is the second part in the Ultimate Guide to San Francisco series. I’m teaming up with my friend Kristine (who has lived here her entire life, so she’s an expert) where she’s telling you where to work up an appetite (spoiler alert: SoulCycle).

It’s no secret I love to eat, consider myself a foodie and love giving restaurant recommendations and/or judging you based on where you eat while you’re in SF. Unless you’re lame and go to like, Rainforest Cafe (I swear there is actually one in the city), it’s hard to have a bad meal in San Francisco.

I could talk about food all day and where to eat in the city but since you’re here for a limited amount of time, I’ll cut to the heavy hitters and can’t miss spots. This list is by no means comprehensive. And if you’ve missed it before, here are the best vegan restaurants in San Francisco and the best coffee shops in San Francisco.

The Marina
My stomping grounds!

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Blue Barn Gourmet
Home of the $20 salad (I swear they’re worth it… and only $20 if you get ahi tuna but you need to get the ahi tuna), they have chef-created salads or Make Your Own. They also have soup and sandwiches if you don’t want to eat a bowl of veggies.

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Delarosa
Because man cannot live on salad alone when visiting SF, there’s pizza that involves burrata cheese.

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Rose’s Cafe
This is where you want to brunch in the Marina because breakfast pizza is a thing.

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NOPA
Stands for North of Panhandle, right by the Full House House.

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NOPA
My favorite restaurant in the city, duh. Go for brunch or dinner but make reservations or eat at the bar. I love eating at the bar though sooooo…

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Nopalito
NOPA’s Mexican little sister, go early if you want in. Last weekend I went with three people at 8:30 and was told they weren’t taking parties bigger than two any longer!
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The Mill
If you haven’t heard, San Francisco invented fancy toast. Pony up the $4 for a delicious piece of Josey Baker Bread with all the spreads. Better yet, take a friend and get all the breads and all the spreads.

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Little Chihuahua
If you don’t want to blow your entire paycheck on a meal, head to Little Chihuahua for a burrito, tacos or some of their crack salsa verde (it’s seriously that good).

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Pacific Heights
Elevation gains, beautiful houses and even better views.

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The Progress
This place won a James Beard award and I think maybe has a Michelin star. Anyway, make reservations because that’s the only way you’ll get in, unless you date one of their chefs for a hot minute, not that I know about that or anything.

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State Bird Provisions
If you can get in I totally respect you and you win at San Francisco. I still haven’t been but you should go so I can eat vicariously through you.

Basik
The best acai in SF – and also on the Big Island in Hawaii at their original location, where I fell in love with them. You’ll wait in line so go for broke and get a large when you finally get to order.

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The Mission and Portero Hill
Everything that’s right about SF as far as food and wrong as in everything else.


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Craftsman and Wolves
Just go get a Rebel Within and call it a day. It’s a soft-boiled egg baked into an asiago and sausage muffin.

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Farmhouse Thai Kitchen
There’s a ton of well-known Thai places (Les Rois, Kin Khao, Hawker Fare) and trust me, I’ve tried most of them, but this place is my jam. They have blue rice!

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Bi-Rite Creamery
The best ice cream in the city, duh.

Plow
Because you want to wait in line for brunch for two hours.

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The Tenderloin and Hayes Valley
Also known as the Trendyloin also known as not a place I frequent (well, Hayes Valley is super nice).

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Souvla
How do I not have photos of Souvla on my phone? Legit one of my favorite places in the city. Fast-caual Greek food — order at the counter and choose from veggie, lamb, chicken or pork in a salad or a wrap. Leave room for their frozen Greek yogurt for dessert. They also have a solid and affordable wine list.

Huxley
If you’re determined to eat avocado toast while you’re here, go to Huxley because theirs has uni on it.

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Chat with me:
Do you want to visit any of these restaurants? Where do you want to eat in SF? What other places here do you love?

The Ultimate Guide to San Francisco Part One: Logistics

Traveling to San Francisco for the Super Bowl, work or a vacation? This is the first part in a series of my Ultimate Guide to San Francisco.

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I’m alive! I know, you’re as surprised as I am. When you have a new job and your old job and a packed social schedule and freelance projects and workouts and life sometimes blogging falls to the wayside. But I missed you guys!

This is the first part in a series of posts about San Francisco in which I capitalize SEO search terms for the Super Bowl. That ish is about to shut the city down. I am only bike commuting/walking from now until whenever the hell the city is open again. Lola is tuned up and parked and I might drive her around the parking garage to be sure she gets some exercise.

ANYWAY, so in the next couple of weeks my friend Kristine and I will tell you where you should eat, drink and sweat in San Francisco. Be sure to check back on both of our blogs for the next round of tips — and special deals while you’re here!

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Things You Should Know Before You Go:

  • Please don’t call it San Fran.
    Please please please. It’s San Francisco. Or SF. Never Frisco. NEVER San Fran. I don’t know who made the rule but my uncle told me that before I ever moved here (he travels a lot here for work). San Fran just sounds kind of brash once you think about it, doesn’t it? Like, I love you if you’ve said it… and I won’t correct you. But you will definitely stand out as a tourist if you call it San Fran while you’re here.
  • California is not 80 degrees and sunny every day.
    San Francisco is honestly usually between 60-70 degrees year round and either foggy or sunny. Except during El Niño when it will rain for 40 days and 40 nights. You’ll need closed-toed shoes, at least a light jacket at all times and pants.
  • You are not going to wear a bikini at the beach.
    Or lay out. You probably need a parka at the beach even in the summer. Actually, especially in the summer because that’s when it’s the coldest here.

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Getting Around

  • Uber/Lyft
    Ride-sharing was started here. If Uber or Lyft are expensive in your city, they’re pretty much a $5-$6 ride anywhere in the city if you do Uber Pool or Lyft Line. Yeah, it’s like kind of strange the first time getting in a car with strangers but also… it’s still a lot better than riding the bus.
  • MUNI/Bus/BART
    I don’t know how these work. Sometimes I ride MUNI if I have an appointment downtown or I need to go somewhere on the other side of the city and don’t want to pay for a bazillion dollar Uber ride and don’t want to drive. AKA sometimes when I run across the city and need to get home. You’ll need cash ($2.25) or a Clipper card (you can buy these at Walgreens) for a ride and if you have the Google Maps app, just open it up and choose transit and it will tell you how to get there. I still don’t know where to find bus stops though.
  • Walk
    Yeah there are hills but the city is infamously walkable. Just walk fast if you’re in a sketchy part of the city (aka The Tenderloin/Civic Center/Parts of the Mission and SoMa). Google Maps/Apple Maps will tell you how to walk places. I walked the city to find my neighborhood so you’ll never know where you’ll end up.
  • Drive
    I wouldn’t recommend renting a car. Parking is awful and expensive — even more so if you’re staying in a hotel (aka like $50+ dollars a night). If you want to go out to wine country or something, rent a car for the day or hire a driver.
  • Bike
    There’s bike-rentals and public bike shares throughout the city. Bike lanes are also pretty plentiful. I beg you though — if you’re renting a bike, please pay attention to people walking and running, especially on Marina Blvd (you’ll ride this if you’re riding to Golden Gate Bridge). I have to basically avoid walking or running that way from 9 a.m. onwards on the weekend lest I get run over by a tourist on a bicycle who is using a selfie stick to Snapchat his ride or something.

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Where to Stay

  • Airbnb
    Without a doubt, I suggest staying in an Airbnb. Hotels here are not in desirable parts of the city. Look in the Marina District, Cow Hollow, Pacific Heights or Russian Hill. But also I’m like super particular about where I am located.

What to Pack

  • Practical shoes for walking
    I never wear heels anymore, unless I’m going out and I’m going via Uber/Lyft. Just pack athletic shoes/flat booties/whatever has some support because you’ll do a lot of walking.
  • A jacket
    60 degrees in San Francisco is a lot colder than 60 degrees anywhere else.
  • Workout clothes
    Even if you don’t plan to workout you’ll probably get here and get so wrapped up in the culture that is SF that you’ll want to go on a hike. You can go to Lululemon and buy something of course but our sales tax is like… 10%. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Chat with me:
Do you have any logistical tips for a trip to San Francisco? What else do you want to know about visiting SF? What are your favorite things if you’ve been here before?

Now Trending – Best Links Week of 11.30

Photo credit: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

After a solid few weeks of sleeping eight hours a night (that’s what happens when you can’t get up and run in the morning) I’ve totally stopped sleeping again. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. But it’s bordering on midnight as I write this and I’ve watched one too many episodes of Scream Queens (my total guilty pleasure show ) so I should get to bed.

Enjoy the best links I’ve found this week – I need to get my beauty rest incase I see my BF Jake Gyllenhaal out and about in SF filming Zodiac 2.

Travel
Kind of surprised by the most Instagrammed spots in every state. Mostly that Milan Puskar Stadium wasn’t the most Instagrammed spot in West Virginia… and that the zoo was the most Instagrammed spot in Pittsburgh? Say what?

The final frontiers of travel. Is it completely crazy I kind of want to go to South Sudan? (The answer is YES.)

The six people you meet on vacation. Does that mean we all fall into one of these archetypes? I suppose I’m some awful combination of the first three.

Lifestyle
We’re all busy this time of year (and in general, right?) and sometimes our calendars get mad over-whelming. Some tips for organizing your calendar,  including that it’s okay to say no to things you don’t really want to do, schedule a day all for yourself each week (I do that!) and outsource where you can. (Google Express or Instacart anyone?)

I’ve basically not started any holiday shopping (shocker) and for those of you in my boat, here’s a guide to perfect gift baskets.

Saving money is way more important than most of us millennials realize but don’t fall for these money saving myths.

Blogging
I need more food props in my life. Loving this list of essential food props for bloggers by Georgie from In It 4 the Long Run.

Running and Fitness
Basically I take anything elite runner Tina Muir says about running as the gospel. Her Gift Guide for Runners was giving me some ideas of what to ask for myself!

This Amish kid is running marathons faster than me in full Amish regalia in PA of course.

Food
100 years of dinner in the US in three minutes. I feel like they are totally spot on.

I’m back on the overnight oats train… definitely going to make these Snickerdoodle Vegan Overnight Oats from Food Faith Fitness.

Cornbread French Toast. That’s all there is to say.

Chat with me:
Have you watched Scream Queens? What meals did you at growing up? What do you think is the most Instagrammed spot in your state? What are you up to this weekend?

Now Trending – Best Links Week of 10.26

Photo credit: 1 /2 / 3 / 4

I have a confession – I’m not into Halloween. I have a really hard time thinking of something both culturally relevant + witty + sexy. Because honestly, I think I’m attractive and I wear skimpy clothes because I’m petite and flat-chested and athletically built and live in California and you can get away with short shorts and flowy tanks that show your bralette and all of that when those things are all things but I’m bad at being like, “okay I’m going to be a sexy cop” or whatever. I cannot be my authentic self when I’m trying to be a sexy sushi roll or something.

Okay, but because it’s Halloween and I am lamenting on being unable to be a sexy bumblebee, I thought I would share a little gem from college with you. Back when I was a size 8 but for whatever reason would go out dressed like this (but look at that tan!). I was a Sexy ABC Officer (Alcohol Board of Control) with my roommates. The real ABC wouldn’t take photos with us… basically McKayla Maroney status non-amused at our antics.

halloween senior year

 

Okay, now after that trip down memory lane and a great time laughing at how clever I am thinking of Sexy Julia Child Halloween costumes, here are the best links of the week.

Travel
I really need to get my life together and plan a little getaway for Thanksgiving (or just really commit to Friensgiving) and this list of affordable California getaways is a great starting point. (I’ve already knocked Monterey/Carmel and Big Sur off the list, though.

A list of places you should visit in the winter because you can find great airfare deals. Basically all of these places are places I want to visit, since you know my love for Central/South America.

Airport breakfasts are literally the worst. I’ve had a total meltdown in the Detroit airport because they didn’t have plain Greek yogurt. Flight attendants share their healthy airport breakfast tips.

Lifestyle
For whatever reason, I’m mad into this Rihanna interview.

You know I love a good “what does your favorite [fill-in-the-blank] say about you”. I don’t see Peanut M&Ms on ‘What Your Favorite Halloween Candy Says About You”, but I can maybe get behind what it says about Reese’s cups.

I finally bought a bench for my kitchen table so I can have more than one other person over for dinner (don’t you feel like I was talking about that damn bench for the past year?) so now I’m going to use these tips for hosting in a small space.

Emily Shuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere is basically the authority on all things lifestyle. I take her beauty comments to heart.

Running and Fitness
Stretches for runners. All of the yeses. This is why I get injured – I don’t focus on this enough.

The Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the US gave John Kerry SoulCycle classes!!! Yes, that many exclamation points were necessary. It’s because Kerry had a bike accident with a curb last spring and the ambassador told him in SoulCycle there aren’t any curbs. Okay, fan girl moment over because I unapologetically love John Kerry because he’s so badass.

Food
Why does LA get everything great Portland has? Why doesn’t SF ever get any love? There’s a Blue Star in LA now (you can find me there after the LA Marathon… followed by Salt & Straw) and this interview with the owners about the brioche donuts is great.

So you’re pairing your Halloween candy with wine, right? If not, you should try it this year.

The Kitchn shares 10 cooking tips that changed everything.

I’m a total failure of baking with yeast. I had my brief stint dating a brewer who was all about making pizza crusts with yeast but I’m still not convinced I was ever successful. Goals for 2016? Learn how to bake with yeast.

The psychology behind restaurant menus. None of it surprising, but it makes you see trends.

A bunch of oatmeal recipes for National Oatmeal Day. Because fake holidays, right?

Chat with me:
Do you dress up in dumb costumes like “sexy dinosaur” for Halloween? What’s your favorite Halloween candy? What cooking tip do you have that changed everything for you? Best donut ever?

Race Recap: Nike Women’s San Francisco Half Marathon 2015

It’s been a marathon and two half marathons since I haven’t run a PR (the marathon was by default, but still) until today (I ran a 1:55, which I guess I should include in this). I don’t know what was up with my race, but I wasn’t there mentally or physically at the Nike Women’s San Francisco Half Marathon 2015.

I wasn’t set up for success for this race. I haven’t been doing very many tempo runs or any track work. My core/strength-training has went down the drain again. Then I made the executive decision to “run by feel” and not look at my watch. Well, I already know I am a person who needs personal accountability and not looking at your pace is a really great way to not hold yourself accountable.

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I aired my frustrations with myself in the group text with my dad and uncles (which is my favorite group text, by the way, because they are all hilarious) and this really resonated with me: “You are repeatedly doing what very few could even do one time.” My dad on the phone later asked my overall place was and when I did the math and still finished in the top 6%, I had to let the shitty feelings go.

Instead of the same sob story of me not putting in the work to get results, I’d like to talk about what this race meant to me. I ran this race last year while in San Francisco looking at apartments (one year ago Sunday, this year’s race day, my dad and I sat at the Intercontinental and decided I should sign the lease for this apartment).

Running has been a huge part of my life for over 12 years. From high school cross country to crossing the line of my first marathon this year, running has defined me for over the past decade. I have days where I love running so much it’s gross and I days where I wish I had never laced up a pair of shoes in my life. Running has been a really integral part of my life in San Francisco. Every inch of this course I have covered on some run in the past year, some parts most days of the week (the final two miles).

Last weekend Chrissy and I did a 13+ loop from our apartments to Golden Gate Park then through the park back to the Marina. I told her it was weird the number of monumental conversations I can acutely real that have happened while running.

So, this race. same course as last year. From Union Square to Alamo Square, where my friend Kitt was cheering on runners after the hill on Mile 2 and who I was so excited to see, down the Panhandle to Golden Gate Park where Emily was with the rest of the San Francisco Road Runners. Golden Gate Park, seeing two of my closest friends in the city and thinking of all the conversations I’ve had in that damn park made me very introspective.

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I was just not feeling it in the Presidio, despite being strangely excited to run the hills in the morning. I run down Lincoln a lot on my runs with San Francisco Road Runners so it felt strange to think about how much I just love killing that downhill. I used to really love running to Baker Beach when I first moved here, too. When I was feeling slow I just kept telling myself “head up, wings out” (my mantra from Emily) and thinking about flying.

I knew in the last two miles I just needed to dig in and finish it strong. I couldn’t let people keep passing me in my neighborhood on my normal route. It also felt weird to me to run down Chrissy Field on the road (I usually run up it on the sidewalk then back down on the sand trail along the beach). I had this weird feeling of hating all these other people on something that is typically so peaceful to me. BUT it was super nice because I know how I feel on my daily runs and how much I had left so I knew to leave everything on the course.

Looking at my mile splits, I was more consistent than I have been – just consistently slower. My slowest mile, which was a mile uphill, was 9:38. I had absolutely zero 7:XX-miles, which is a difference from 3-4 sub-8 miles from my past few races.

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Things that were great: Race swag (the necklace this year was super cute and so was the tank), organization (people want to say this race was run terribly but I’ve run some terrible races and Nike consistently puts on a good race), the course (hard but super scenic… if you’re coming to SF to run this is the best race to run sight-wise, crowd-support (they had Lincoln Blvd and the hill from miles 9.5-11 stacked with cheering people) and finishing four blocks from my apartment.

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Things that could have been better: Communication from Nike (but coming from my background, I know communication is shit when plans aren’t finalized… so there you go), more water stations (!!), finish line things were WAY better last year and at DC… oh, and I miss the “Expotique” but as a marketer, completely get why they wanted to drive traffic into their stores.

Would I do it again? Probably, because I get race FOMO. It’s a little pricey, so hoping by next year some brand wants me to run it on behalf of them (if it’s still in SF, which I’ve heard it’s moving on south to LA).

To end the morning, #brunchedsohard with Kitt and Chrissy at NOPA which is my fave restaurant in the city.

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Chat with me:
What situations make you introspective? What does where you live mean to you? What were you up to this weekend?

Now Trending – Best Links Week of 10.12

Photo credit: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

It’s past my bedtime as I write this… not much exciting going on here this week. I’m running the Nike Women’s Half-Marathon again this weekend then plan on brunch at Nopa, which I haven’t been to in months. Since I need to get to sleep before I have FitBit anxiety over my lack of sleep tomorrow, here are the best links I found this week.

Travel
I want to go on a spa trip with my girl friends… who is in?

Instagram-worthy amenities at hotels… I’d like the Glam Bar, please.

Five Offbeat Vacations That Make You Feel Alive. We all know I’m into the craziest, seediest travel.

I put together a list of San Francisco restaurants you should eat at for Brit + Co.

Lifestyle
I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching on following my passions (aka blogging). But the life of a fashion blogger isn’t all it’s cracked up to be… and I think having to go to 2-3 events a week is taxing.

I’m super concerned I’ve been emotional eating but everyone tells me eating Greek yogurt and peanut butter after dinner if I’m still hungry isn’t emotional eating. I’m still trying to cut it out… theses ways to soothe without food are great.

Do you find yourself going to the same section of the wine list or wine store every time you’re in the mood for some fermented grapes? Me too. Try these four wines to get out of your wine rut.

Food
I haven’t tried making bread with quinoa yet but Lindsay from Cotter Crunch has me thinking I’m going to be baking tomorrow since I have some cooked quinoa left over…

I realized today I’ve made at least five recipes from I Am a Food Blog which is huge for me because I rarely make recipes (whoops). I made this Miso Dijon Green Bean Mushroom Salad for dinner Thursday night… so. good.

Listen
I love the Jess Lively Show podcast which my dear Davida recommended to me about a year ago when I was going through a rough patch. Wednesday and Thursday just weren’t good days for various reasons and she told me to listen to the newest episode with Elizabeth Gilbert because it would resonate with me – and she was right. I need to learn more compassion for myself ASAP.

Chat with me:
Do you ever listen to Jess Lively? Do you have compassion for yourself? What blogs do you find yourself making recipes from frequently?

Now Trending – Best Links Week of 10.5

This post is once again going up a little late. I don’t know where this week went (okay, I kind of do). I need to be totally better about forcing myself to be productive when I feel like it the least. I didn’t really have a ton of time to read blogs this week, but here are the best links I found.

Travel
People often ask me where to go when they visit SF. I should be an adult/real blogger and make a real list (it’s on my to-do list, I swear) but in the meantime, Well + Good is now in SF and has a San Francisco Healthy Lifestyle Guide.

Dying to go to Goa, no puns intended. Major gypset vibes.

A great post on whether or not traveling heals a broken heart. Personally – I think it helps.

Lifestyle
I really don’t talk about growing up in West Virginia a whole lot, but this photo journal of coal country really brings back a lot of memories.

Is the party dead? I think my lack of space and my need to serve ornate food and drink is why I only have parties when I’m home.

Running and Fitness
I should really start making cross-training more of a priority… 6 cross-training moves every runner should do.

Just because I run ~40 miles a week doesn’t mean I can eat whatever I want. I have some work to do to get leaner – and faster. I am really inspired by this post by this marathoner who talks about racing 25 pounds lighter

Food
Guess what… nutritionists wouldn’t eat Quest Bars. I’m personally not surprised.

A super informative piece on what you should know about baking with coconut flour from The Kitchn.

I haven’t seen a pumpkin spice angel food cake yet so this one from Ambitious Kitchen looks like it will be on my weekend to-do list.

Chat with me:
Give me all your tips for productivity, please! Are you so over pumpkin-spiced everything? Do you eat Quest bars?

Now Trending – Best Links Week of 9.28

One year ago (as I write this) I was running along the Embarcadero, prepping mentally for my interview with Old Navy. I was imagining my life in San Francisco, trying to really psych myself up for a complete life upheaval.

After my interview, I went to the Ferry Building and ate ice cream from Humphrey Slocombe because it was 80+ degrees and the world ends in SF once it’s above 75. (We don’t have air conditioning!) I had the entire day until my flight back to Pittsburgh and I didn’t have the mental brain power to really think about what to do, so I decided to walk the entire city and see in which neighborhoods I could see myself living.

I walked through FiDi, through Chinatown, into Nob Hill and Russian Hill and into North Beach. I kept walking until I ended up on Chestnut Street, which I had been to before (to go to Brandy Melville, ha!). I was overwhelmed by all the restaurants and shops and people talking about piling into Teslas. It reminded me of Shadyside in Pittsburgh. After a quick search of what neighborhood I was in, I immediately texted my boyfriend at the time, “I know where I want to live – The Marina”.

Happy one year of being the perfect neighborhood for me, Marina District. I love that I can walk to yoga and SoulCycle and run along the water and drink green juice and be a yuppie Marina Girl, eating $20 salads. As one ex-boyfriend doesn’t remember saying, you’re a bubble within a bubble.

Now that I’m done waxing poetic, here are the best links of the week. (Today’s featured photo is a Marina run, just FYI.)

Travel
Asia is my favorite continent out of the four I’ve visited. These Asian cities are must-sees in your lifetime.

I kind of love staying in Airbnbs more than hotels (because then I don’t have to forage for breakfast and have more space) but these fashionable hotels are on my list of places to stay.

Lifestyle
I’ve publically stated my need to be more confident. I loved this podcast with Molly Yeh where she said she even plays the comparison game sometimes. These tips from Camille Styles are also helpful.

I am planning on staying in SF for Thanksgiving this year and throwing a Friendsgiving. Studying up on these tips for how to be the hostess with the mostess.

I crazily enough have a few things I need at Ikea that I have to pick up in the next couple of weeks… I might grab one of the Raskog Kitchen Carts since there are so many uses for it (and it’s only $30!)!

Running and Fitness
Well, it’s official – the Treadmill was actually invented as a torture device. I’m really opening El Nino won’t be a thing so I’m not forced to run indoors. I moved to California for a reason, after all.

I’ve been making more of an effort (okay, except the past two weeks) to stretch/foam roll on a more regular basis. My hammies have been tight so I’ve been doing these hamstring stretches for runners.

Food
One frozen banana… 20 flavors of ice cream.

10 crazy localized Dunkin’ Donuts. I had a choco butternut one in the Philippines once that I am still thinking about six years later.

Chat with me:
Do you remember the first time you visited the place you live? Are there stereotypes about your neighborhood – and do you fit them?

Race Recap: San Francisco Marathon 2nd Half-Marathon

Originally, I had planned on this being a goal race. I thought running a 1:45 half-marathon was an aggressive, but achievable, goal. I ran a 1:51 in March not really training so I thought if I focused on speed work and was a little brave, I could run sub 8-minute miles.

The San Francisco Marathon is broken into two half-marathons for those who don’t want to take on the whole 26.2 miles. You can run the first half which takes you from the Ferry Building down the Embarcadero, down Fisherman’s Wharf, through the Marina, into the Presidio and across the Golden Gate Bridge, through the Presidio and into the Inner Richmond then into Golden Gate Park where the first half of the marathon ends.

After running the Pittsburgh Marathon, I considered signing up for the full San Fransisco Marathon but realized I wanted to take a break from full marathon training and didn’t really want to run all the hills in the SF Marathon. I heard the 2nd half-marathon was faster, flatter and less crowded. Also it begins at 8:15 a.m. as opposed to 6:00 a.m. and I’m all about two extra hours to sleep.

Friday when I went to pick up my bib I texted Chrissy telling her I had full-marathon FOMO. She told me she had half-marathon FOMO and knowing Kay wasn’t planning on running anymore, I coordinated getting Chrissy to pick up her bib so she could run with me. It also gave us an excuse to eat lots of carbs like acai bowls and sourdough polenta bread and Delarosa pizza together the day before.

San Francisco Marathon 2015 | Almost Getting it Together

This is a margarita pizza with Burrata and it was totally worth it.

Sunday morning Chrissy came over to my place and we took an Uber to the start at Golden Gate Park. We got there really early which was nice. I’m usually at the start line like 5 minutes before the start so it was good to be able to relax, hang out a little bit and not feel rushed and stressed. I got into my corral for Wave 2 (which is actually everyone who is a sub 9-minute mile pace who isn’t a seeded athlete) and saw the 1:45 pace group. I stood with them for a couple moments, looking at the others in the group.

San Francisco Marathon 2015 | Almost Getting it Together

Chrissy and I pre-race.

This is where I get a little real. I’m going to preface the rest of this post with saying I’m really hard on myself. Really hard. Like the fact I ran a PR then cried because it wasn’t good enough for me. I had dinner with my ex a couple weeks ago when he was in town (albeit after he showed up unannounced) and he looked across the table at me and told me to stop being so hard on myself.

I thought about the number I saw on the scale that morning. I thought about how frustrated I’ve been with myself lately – not training hard enough, drinking and eating out more than I would like to, and the fact I’ve gained a couple “San Francisco pounds”. Yeah, all my clothes still fit and I’m still a size zero but I just felt terrible about my ability to run sub 8-minute miles in that moment. So I decided a 1:50 was still a PR and if I felt good after the first eight miles, I would leave that pace group.

The best thing about the 2nd half-marathon is that it is much smaller than the beginning of the full marathon and first half-marathon – around 5,000 runners as opposed to 30,000+. The beginning wasn’t as crowded as the last several races I have ran. You start out and soon after, the full-marathoners are running along side of you.

The course splits right away – the full marathoners stay to the left and the half-marathons stay to the right. I was looking at the signs and trying to get over to the right because I understood why the course was splitting – the full marathoners had already ran 13 miles, were in the zone and the half-marathoners were fresh. Being a respectful runner (post on that coming soon), I tried to get over to the right… and in the process, hit a traffic cone separating the two sides.

Before I knew it, I was on the ground. Both knees, head, left elbow and my right hand all made contact with the pavement. “I guess I’m done” was the first thought that went through my head. The second thought was that I ate pizza for dinner the night before, toast for breakfast that day and I had to run all of that off. I picked myself up, felt my elbow and decided I was just going to keep running. My knee hurt and was a little stiff and I decided I just wasn’t going to look down at it because I didn’t want to know how badly I had scraped it.

I stayed with the 1:50 pace group the first three miles and realized their pace was kind of all over the place, not a steady 8:24. This is where I say my friend Lesley is the best pacer ever. I also asked Emily if I was right in my thinking and that pacers should be running even splits (she agreed). I decided I needed to run my race, not anyone else’s and left them.

I saw one of the pace group leaders from San Francisco Road Runners in Golden Gate Park cheering on the runners. He either told me I looked strong or told me I looked covered in blood (TBD on that one) and in that moment, I really felt like I was home. I struggled all winter and spring to feel like San Francisco was home and I can’t even explain how happy I was to be running in the city in that moment. I rode that high the next few miles.

Around mile 9 or 10 I started to feel vaguely annoyed for a couple of miles. I was disappointed in the San Francisco community for not coming out and cheering on the runners. In Pittsburgh, a city full of obesity and whatever, there are people cheering basically every inch of that course. Yes, there are a few dead zones but for the most part, people are out and cheering and excited. There wasn’t much difference in running during the SF Marathon and running on a Saturday morning.

I was also super annoyed at the water stop volunteers. I know they are volunteers and I am so thankful they gave up their Sunday morning to be there, but they were not concerned with giving people water. They kind of just stood there or were talking and took forever to grab waters off the table. I decided in this moment that I really need to not run a race in SF and volunteer at a race to give back to the community.

A couple notes about this course – it isn’t flat. It’s flat for San Francisco but there’s a hill going into the Haight and then 16th Street has another much more brutal hill that takes you to Potrero Hill. From there, you have another hill that takes you into the Dogwatch and Mission Bay. We ran past my office and lots of people tailgating for the Oakland A’s/Giants game. Nothing like smelling hot dogs during mile 11-12 of a race.

Once we got to my office in Mission Bay, I knew there was about a mile and half left until the Ferry Building. I ran this part of the course a lot during marathon training. I kept telling myself the faster I ran the faster I could get medical attention for my knee. Other thoughts during this time were “my feet hurt and I forgot to put flip-flops in my gear check bag”.

I had been trying not to look at my watch and just run by how I was feeling but looked down and I had a little less than a mile left and my time was 1:43. I had thought I was going to hit sub 1:50 until about that moment. I crossed the finish line at 1:50:42 and the only thing I could think was, “where the f*** is the medical tent?”. I realized as everyone looked at me that I probably looked pretty gnarly and looked down at my leg that was essentially, covered in blood.

I think I have really bad-ass tendencies when it comes to injuries. I used to be a total baby and would cry and have someone patch me up but as I started doing more sports in which I get injured and beat up (surfing, particularly), I started caring way less. The only time I was really upset by falling in recent history was in Nicaragua because it happened 30 seconds into my run, I ripped my headphones and knew salt water was not going to feel good in my wounds and then last spring when I tripped and got a black eye. But I was totally self-concious of my bloody leg. I grabbed a heat blanket to try and cover it up so people wouldn’t look at me or ask what happened. I was just thinking “you finished a race not like some battle this isn’t normal”.

San Francisco Marathon 2015 | Almost Getting it Together

Ferry Building finish line from the Lululemon after party.

Here is another qualm with the organization of the race – the finish chute was long but directly after, people were just congregating. There needs to be a family reunion area like there is in Pittsburgh so runners can actually get out of the chute. Medical tent was still nowhere in sight, I was pissed off by my time and I had a ton of things in my hands (races, please be like Nike and give out bags!) and just wanted someone to clean out my wounds and to call my dad and cry over how disappointed I was in myself.

Finally I found the medical tent after grabbing my bag from gear check. Some nice doctors from UCSF assured me I might not scar and I wasn’t the first person who had fallen running. Some lady who was sitting with her husband asked if I had falling running and I said yes, in the first tenth of a mile and she told me I was strong and brave. YOU’RE RIGHT, I AM. I told her thank you and continued to feel like a bad ass.

Afterwards, I decided to head over to the Lululemon After Party to meet Chrissy. This is where I say I am so lucky to be a part of this community in SF and to be friends with the wonderful Kristine who is killing it in her new role on the Community Team at Lulu. They were doing screen printing at the expo, had a mindful mediation set-up and then an awesome VIP after party right on the Embarcadero, steps from the finish line. I was able to use a real bathroom to clean up and change into my new Lululemon SF Marathon screen printed shirt. They also had a super great swag bag, lots of drinks (including tons of coconut water), food, massages, stretching stations and more. I stretched out for a few and ate some smoked salmon and drank a Vega recovery shake since I knew we were getting brunch with Kay afterwards.

San Francisco Marathon 2015 | Almost Getting it Together

My first ever flash tat at the Lululemon after-party which then turned into a discussion about favorite SoulCycle instructors and eating Blue Barn/Rustic Bakery after.

As the Lululemon party started wrapping up around noon, Chrissy and I decided to walk the 1.5 miles to Huxley, a super small, super talked about restaurant in the Trendyloin. They are known for the avocado toast with uni so I figured no time like after running 13+ miles to make reservations to indulge. The three of us split the housemade yogurt with fruit and granola (amaze), baked eggs and avocado toast with uni (obvi).

San Francisco Marathon 2015 | Almost Getting it Together

Will run for avocado toast.

All in all – this is the first race (other than the Montour Run Half-Marathon) that I’m not sure I would recommend to people. I don’t think it was very organized for a big city marathon. I think I might volunteer next year rather than running either the full or the half.

Overall: 1:50:42 (8:27/min pace – but my watch told me 8:17 and 13.3 miles so….), top 16% overall, top 8% of women (you really realize you’re racing with a lot of guys at this pace), top 10% of my age group. Things I should be proud of, I know, but still, so disappointed because I know if I just get a little bit of guts and a little bit more work ethic, I have faster miles in me. There’s always Seawheeze next month…

San Francisco Marathon 2015 | Almost Getting it Together

Chat with me:
What’s the most badass thing you’ve done recently? Are you too hard on yourself? What races would you recommend/not recommend?

Getting it Together on the Road: Big Sur Travel Guide

Big Sur Travel Guide | Almost Getting it Together

Have you ever been somewhere so beautiful or amazing that you can’t get it out of your head when you lay down to go to sleep? Before 4th of July weekend, that list was somewhat short – Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Versailles in Paris, an active volcano in Hawaii and now, Big Sur. I’ve been very fortunate to see a lot in my short 26 years and I’m even more fortunate that one of these is in my back yard.

Big Sur | Almost Getting it Together Big Sur Travel Guide | Almost Getting it Together Big Sur | Almost Getting it Together

Big Sur was absolutely magical and just the weekend I needed. My friend Chrissy and I road tripped from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo, spending Friday and Sunday in Big Sur proper. There wasn’t cell reception. I got a sunburn. We ate an entire bucket of shellfish (and no allergic reaction to Dungeness Crab, which was a relief after I had one a couple months ago). I could finally detach from all of the stress from work and life and blogging.

Do

mcway falls big sur | almost getting it together

McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

  • Hike Julia Pfieffer State Park
    You know those idyllic photos of a waterfall on a white sandy beach going into the ocean? Yeah, that’s here. That hike is like a quarter mile and a total joke but if you go around the parking lot and take the Canyon Trail you’ll go up into the Ewoldsen loop. From there, you can take the water trail and see – you guessed it – water from the Pacific Ocean. It’s super epic. We were going to keep going to the Tin House Trail and onto a vista point but we saw a dismembered skunk skull and animal droppings and decided we should probably turn around and not turn into a bear’s lunch. Plus, it was foggy.
Andrew Molera State Park Big Sur | Almost Getting it Together

We stumbled upon this private beach on our hike.

  • Hike Andrew Molera State Park
    We did this hike on Friday and it was a great start to the trip – and a great way to get me to sleep nine hours straight (much needed). We went the wrong direction (we wanted to end at the ocean instead of starting there) but it was okay because it was pretty foggy (surprise, surprise). There was a ton of elevation gain and if you are willing to scramble over a pile of driftwood you will find a private beach.
Andrew Molera State Park Big Sur | Almost Getting it Together

No words.

  • Stop at Vista Points
    There are plenty of places to stop for photo ops on the drive. Definitely get on the road early before it’s overrun by tourists (except I was one too, I guess?). Channel your inner-Ben Gibbard and take a photo at Bixby Canyon Bridge.
Bixby Canyon Bridge Big Sur | Almost Getting it Together

Bixby Canyon Bridge

Bixby Canyon Bridge Big Sur | Almost Getting it Together

Bixby Canyon Bridge

Eat

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Nepenthe in Big Sur

The View from Nepenthe in Big Sur | Almost Getting it Together

The View from Nepenthe

  • Nepenthe
    You’ll feel like you just stepped back into the 1970s at this place but man, are the views worth it. I had just finished an eight-ish mile hike with a lot of elevation change and very little breakfast but I still think this place was great. We split a burger and got two salads – the Caprese and the beet salad (and a half-bottle of Rose because #roseseason). The burger came with a bean salad too and you know with my current bean obsession I was all over that.
Nepenthe in Big Sur | Almost Getting it Together

Eating all the food and taking all the terrible photos.

Nepenthe in Big Sur | Almost Getting it Together

Incase there was any doubt I’ve ever eaten a burger on bread – here is proof.

Nepenthe in Big Sur | Almost Getting it Together

Beet salad.

  • Big Sur Bakery
    I struggle slightly with putting this on the list. The food is great but the service can be hit or miss. We stopped for a post-hike lunch on Friday and I got a salad with chicken salad and bread because I lost all abandon for basically a week and ate all the gluten (then hated seeing myself in a bikini until the last day in Mexico, hence total lack of bikini photos).We went back for breakfast pre-hike on Sunday only to be told they weren’t really serving breakfast for another hour and a half. Our only choices were pastries and a joke of a yogurt parfait (aka trifle). When I asked for more yogurt the waitress who was channeling Adam Driver’s sister from Girls with her eyebrow grooming choices told me they had fruit with yogurt for breakfast… at 10:30. Okay, cool. You don’t have to turn on a stove to spoon some more yogurt in a bowl and then take like $10 for it because it’s over-priced but you’re in the middle of the California coast and you have three options and each are 10 miles apart. As you can tell, I’m slightly bitter – but honestly it’s good (albeit pricer than even what I pay for meals in SF) and maybe that one girl just sucked.
Big Sur Bakery | Almost Getting it Together

Big Sur Bakery

big-sur-bakery-almost-getting-it-together

Big Sur Bakery – Greens Salad with added chicken salad.

Pack

  • Hiking Boots
    Now that I’m a real life California resident who goes on adventures and stuff, I need to make a trip to REI and buy hiking boots. I could have totally used them on our hikes.
  • Snacks
    You can check out my Healthy Hiking Snacks post for ideas but I love Picky Bars because they actually make me feel satiated. I also love Vega One Bars because they are meal replacement bars with a ton of protein, fiber and even some Omega 3s and a serving of greens. I’m also a major fan of Kind Bars. I kind of rotate through all three of those.
  • Shower Pill Athletic Wipes
    A lot of these trails were SO dusty. I wore shorts one day and was just covered in dust and grime – super attractive to picture, I know (but I ran cross-country in high school, so I’ve been accustomed to getting dirty outside for a long time). You probably still have a couple hours in the car post-hike unless you’re staying somewhere in Big Sur proper so it’s nice to feel clean.

Chat with me:
Have you been to Big Sur? Any places I missed? What place have you been that made you lay awake thinking about because it was so beautiful?

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