One of the best parts about visiting my old Phoenix neighborhood is seeing it grow from when we lived there. It was already becoming a dining hot spot when we moved to Chicago in 2015, and even more change has come about since then. One of the newest restaurants I’ve tried is Pure Sushi at the Colony development near Seventh Street and Missouri in Phoenix. It’s next to the Herb Box and Stock and Stable, which I’ve visited in previous Phoenix trips. Pure Sushi was next on the list because it serves one of our favorite foods.
|Dreamy Draw Recreation Area|
The No. 1 activity I had planned during our weekend in Phoenix was a hike, even if it wasn’t too challenging or long. I longed for the Phoenix sunshine, especially as we made our way to the Chicago airport with a real feel in the negative digits. I didn’t pack any jackets or sweaters for Phoenix, which was wishful thinking considering it does get chilly in the mornings and evenings. I ended up wearing Graham’s Cubs hoodie or his jackets when I couldn’t take the desert “cold.” Victoria spent some time with her great-grandma while Graham and I took a quick trip to the Dreamy Draw Recreation Area, our old stomping grounds. It’s not the most impressive mountain area to hike, like Camelback Mountain or Piestewa Peak, but it was our hiking spot. It’s also huge, you could spend all day or multiple days exploring the vast network of trails, which are shared among hikers, dog walkers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. We would hike here frequently when we lived in Phoenix, usually during summer storms. We called ourselves storm chasers, in fact.
We went to our old sunset-viewing area during the early afternoon to get a glimpse of the city. We were also treated to a coyote sighting.
I was quite comfortable and cool in my new workout gear, which was a Christmas gift from my older sister. She knows the way to a fitness lover’s heart! Plus, all I ever want for the holiday is athletic wear to help me reach my goals. She bought me an outfit from Fabletics** in my favorite color, purple.
|Fabletics is offering a first outfit for $10 until Jan. 10, 2017. **|
|The tank has side band detail.|
|Took this photo of the back of the tank after the hike.|
The top is the Theresa Tunic Tank, which covers your assets, if you know what I mean. I appreciate that because sometimes I feel self-conscious when I wear athleisure clothing out and about. This tank is a little longer on me because I have a short torso, but I think it would be flattering on many body types. Also, this would be ideal for yoga, because during certain poses your top tends to move about and expose your midriff, and this could help with that. It’s a racerback tank as well.
The print on the leggings is my favorite. It’s called the Metallic Pebble print, but it reminds me of my cosmic inspired Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17 running shoes, which I wore for the hike. The size small leggings fit perfectly.
Shop my Fabletics outfit **
Last week was yet another whirlwind. In my life, weeks are either super slow or an avalanche — there is no in between. On Wednesday night Graham and I went to his work holiday party. At 4 a.m. the next morning I was on my way to Midway Airport to travel to Phoenix for work and for my holiday party. I landed in Phoenix about 9 a.m., changed into Phoenix-weather appropriate clothing and worked a full day in the office. I couldn’t keep my eyes open at this point, so I returned to my hotel room that evening for one glorious night of uninterrupted sleep, a rare occurrence in my life as a new mom.
|I loved the chandeliers throughout the evening and lobby.|
|This neon mixed media saguaro was my favorite.|
|The artwork/light in my hotel room was my favorite.|
|The bathroom was well appointed.|
Besides seeing my friends and family, the best part about being back in Phoenix for a few days was eating at places I love. I wasn’t able to visit all of my favorites, but I did have some excellent meals last weekend.
Here’s what I ate at three great local Phoenix restaurants:
Reyes de la Torta: It’s a no-frills mom-and-pop Mexican food location. Most (if not all) the servers speak Spanish and often music or television is playing in Spanish. The food comes in large portions and it’s simply delicious. It’s not about the decor, it’s about the food here.
|The Del Rey torta.|
I’m back in Chicago! I had a work trip last week in Phoenix and I didn’t get home until last night. I love being home in Phoenix, but I didn’t want to run outside in the heat. I used to give up running entirely in the summers when I lived in Phoenix. Yes, I’m a fair-weather runner; what of it? I didn’t log any miles outside last week. My mileage was not high at all, but I am proud of myself for making it to fitness classes during my busy trip.
Here’s how Week 2 of Chicago Marathon training went:
Monday: 3 miles at Orangetheory. It was the first day of peak performance week in which we really challenge ourselves. We don’t normally run for as long as we did that night; it seemed like we did endless push paces. I kept my push pace at 9:30, which would be my ideal race pace right now. I stayed at that pace even when we did 3 percent and 4 percent inclines. My all-out pace was 8:31. We also challenged ourselves to finish a 500-meter row as fast as we could. My time was 1:51, which I was impressed with. (I was also super out of breath!)
- Tempo pushups
- Bridge rows on the TRX straps
- More rowing
- Back extensions
- Squats. (Always squats.)
Wednesday: Travel day. I did squats (reps: 14/12/10/8/6), crunches (20) and pushups (20) before I left.
Thursday: 2.3 miles at Orangetheory. I completed the 2,000-meter challenge in 8:46.
Friday: Rest day.
Saturday: 1.8 miles at Orangetheory. We started with a 4-minute progressive push. I went to class to avoid running in the Phoenix heat, but even the class was hot. We also had three all-out rows. On the floor, we did:
- Reverse lunges with dumbbells.
- Double crunches.
- Plank with alternating foot raises.
- Rollouts on the TRX straps.
- Knee tucks.
- Squats with dumbbells.
- High rows with dumbbells.
- Tricep extensions.
Sunday: 2.25 miles at Orangetheory. I made it to the 6:30 a.m. class before breakfast with a friend and flying back to Chicago. We did a lot of incline work: One of the all-outs was at a 6 percent climb! We also incorporated several all-out rows.
Floor workout included:
- Ground to press.
- Sit-up to stand on Bosu ball.
- Bicep curls.
Week’s mileage: 9.35
Yoga minutes: 45
While I didn’t increase my mileage much in Week 2, I stayed active on a work trip, which I consider a win. I was out and about nonstop during my time in Phoenix. I wished I had gone to one more class, but I did the best I could. I’m looking forward to my regular running routine this week with miles logged outdoors.
I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the recent stress I have been experiencing. One issue I had been anxious about has been addressed and another is about to be as well. I can’t wait to get there!
Also, I started tracking my food Saturday after neglecting to do so for months (even a year). I am hoping that by tracking what I eat I can avoid gaining weight during this marathon training program. When I trained for my first marathon I put on a little weight (which is more noticeable on my small frame). This was mainly due to not eating the best foods during training and giving in to too many cravings after my long runs. My goal is to not do that this time.
How are your fitness goals coming along? Do you track your macros? Do you have any tips for doing so?
Shop my recent favorite sports bra:
** This post contains an affiliate link.
One of the things I miss about Phoenix is my neighborhood. The area surrounding our condo has seen lots of redevelopment recently, adding trendy new restaurants and bars. I try to check out a new restaurant each time I visit Phoenix. This month I was able to try the Herb Box’s new Midtown Phoenix location on Seventh Street just north of Missouri Avenue.
Cousins are your first best friends. Growing up, my cousin Paulette, my sister Angie and I were inseparable. So when Paulette’s wedding came up this month, I was thrilled to be able to fly back to Phoenix from Chicago. I was also excited to attend a wedding at the Farm at South Mountain. It’s the perfect venue.
When the E! reality show “Total Divas” premiered, I was embarrassed to admit I was intrigued. I knew nothing about WWE or its wrestlers. I didn’t even know about the Divas division. I watched the first few episodes pretending to hate it, commenting about how fake it was. But the truth was I was hooked.
Why do I love this reality show so much?
- It shows women kicking ass, even if it is staged. I can appreciate shows about women who work hard in their fields and are successful. I like to see the passion they show for their jobs.
- I learned things about WWE I never would have otherwise. I had no idea how the storylines came about or how hard the wrestlers train for them. It’s fascinating.
- It showcases Phoenix. I love seeing my city on TV; not many shows are based there. Brie and Daniel live in Phoenix and Nikki often visits. They are shown dining at many local restaurants and looking for fitness studio locations. In fact, one of the fitness sites was in my old neighborhood and I knew exactly where they were looking. I even saw the Bella twins at one of my neighborhood bars when I lived in Phoenix. At the time, I pointed out that they were from the show “Total Divas,” but no one around me knew the show.
- It’s entertaining. The show has its fair share of drama and hilarity. I enjoy the funny moments more than the actual drama, though.
- It’s motivating. When I see the bodies on these wrestlers and how much they work out, it makes me want to get in better shape. It’s not usual for me to even do some exercises when I watch the show.
One of the best things I’ve been able to do while visiting Phoenix for Christmas was try brunch at Ocotillo PHX on Third Street south of Osborn Road. I hadn’t heard of this new restaurant (it opened in September), but a quick glance at the menu convinced me this place could be great.
The restaurant had a Yard-like atmosphere. It has a separate little coffee house, and the patio had ample seating and heaters surrounding picnic tables. When I made the reservation I was offered a chef’s table seating arrangement, though we opted for a half-booth, half-table setup instead. Inside, Southwestern art and photos decked the walls, but in a minimalist way. The decor wasn’t over the top.
My friend and I ordered the scrambled farm eggs and the falafel burger (paired with fries) to share. I thoroughly enjoyed the burger, but I couldn’t get enough feta-yogurt sauce. The eggs were scrambled with chili sauce, queso fresco, avocado, blue-corn tortillas, radishes and pico de gallo. Out of the two, I liked the falafel burger more.
|Scrambled farm eggs from Ocotillo PHX.|
|Falafel burger and fries from Ocotillo PHX.|
My brunch companions ordered the smoked brisket, which they raved about; the breakfast chimichanga; and the skillet pancake, which looked like a cake. All portions were hearty and looked amazing on the plates. The medjoul date appetizer (not pictured) was a hit, too.
|The enormous skillet pancake from Ocotillo PHX.|
The Ocotillo will be a must on my next Phoenix visit. I can’t wait to try more of the venue. Have you been to Ocotillo? What did you think?
When I found out I could go to the Cactus Bowl game featuring my alma mater Arizona State and West Virginia, I was pumped. Then I found out it was at Chase Field, and I was intrigued. A bowl game at a ballpark? A little unusual, but cool! I am used to going to Arizona Diamondbacks games at the stadium, which I sometimes mistakenly call Bank One Ballpark, its former name. We picked our tickets up from will call and entered through the neighboring gate. Luckily, our section was nearby, so we didn’t have to wind our way around the entire concourse. The lines outside before the game snaked around the stadium, so at first glance I wanted to turn around and walk the half-mile back to the car. But no, we had made it to the game in time. By the way, if you’re ever attending a game at Chase Field, just look for a spot south of Fillmore. It’s only a half-mile walk and you can find plenty of free places to park. I needed the exercise after two weeks of nonstop eating and celebrating. Otherwise, look for a meter spot, which is cheaper than the $12-20 you can pay at garages.
Back to the game … It was my first ASU game since graduating. The back-and-forth of the game was entertaining, despite the outcome. The energy was different than games at Sun Devil Stadium, but that’s to be expected.
If you’re wondering what a football game at Chase Field is like, take a look. It’s a lot like any other game. Those grounds crews are miracle workers, I tell ya.