Christmas in Florida

After many years of spending Christmas in Syracuse with one or two years in D.C. we decided to totally mix things up this year and do Christmas in Florida! My uncle was kind enough to loan us his condo near West Palm Beach for the week, so Ian and I met up there with my parents and my brother and his wife.

It was quite the busy year for my family with both my brother and I getting married in August and October, so a quiet, relaxing week in the Florida sunshine was absolutely perfect.

While hot and humid runs may not be the easiest, it felt so incredibly good to head out the door in just shorts and a tank. We’ll be back in DC by 9am today and I’m not looking forward to layering up again for runs this week.

There was a really great Downtown area not far from where we stayed filled with cool shops and restaurants. Seeing as our favorite bar back home is called Mulligans, we made sure to fit in a couple trips to the Mulligans here!

On Christmas Eve we went to a great Italian spot called 18 Seminole Street Italian Bistro. It was an old house converted into a restaurant and the food was amazing. I went with the classic spaghetti and meatballs and it was delicious. I also loved a chain pizza place called Anthony’s just around the corner from us – amazing coal-fired pizza!

christmasinflorida

We also checked out a sports bar called Duffy’s and found a great ice cream spot one night! One of my favorite evenings was spent sitting outside at a restaurant/bar called Pelican Cafe. The picnic table outside each had an umbrella and sat on a sandy beach overlooking the water and boats. We spent a few hours drinking some beers and reveling in the fact that we were sitting outside in December!

In addition to eating out we enjoyed some great home-cooked meals as well including steaks on Christmas Day and a turducken over the weekend!

We also fit in a few trips to the movies for The Imitation Game and Unbroken. Both were based on true stories and both were incredible movies. Imitation Game was a really interesting story I didn’t know much about going into it, but really enjoyed. One of my favorite quotes from the movie was: “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” Unbroken was absolutely incredible and probably the best movie I’ve seen all year. Louis Zamperini’s story of courage and refusing to give up in the face of unbelievable adversity was incredibly moving and inspiring.

All in all it was a great week and such a fun way to spend Christmas!

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30 Before 30

Yesterday was my 29th birthday! I had such a great day after a fun weekend with my family, and since I love birthdays figured why not just make this my whole birthday week. When I was in high school I thought it was the best time ever until I got to college and thought what could top that. Since then each year has only been better and better. Last year was probably my best yet, so I can’t wait to see what 29 brings. With 30 right around the corner as a pretty big milestone birthday I thought it’d be fun to create a 30 Before 30 list of things I want to do this year before the big 3-0.

I broke my list into several categories in no particular order below. Seeing as this is a fitness blog a lot of them are based around that, but I threw a few others in there as well. My categories are Racing, Fitness Challenges, Around Town, Getting Certified, Social Stuff and Grown Up Things. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my list. Did you or will you do something similar before hitting a milestone birthday? What would be on your list?

Rocking My I Run This Body Shirt!

Rocking My I Run This Body Shirt!

Racing

  • Boston Qualifying Time
  • Race in Hawaii
  • Break 21 in a 5k
  • Break 44 in a 10k
  • Run another race back in my hometown (Syracuse!)
  • Set a PR in a race I’ve done before
  • Run a track race
  • Do a triathlon

Fitness Challenges

  • 50 consecutive push-ups
  • 100 consecutive burpees
  • 5-minute plank
  • 8-minute wall sit
  • Bike for 30 miles

Around Town

  • Go hiking around Virginia
  • Go to 3 D.C. museums or sights I’ve never been to before
  • Eat out at 3 D.C. restaurants I’ve never been to before
One of my favorite views into D.C.

One of my favorite views into D.C.

Getting Certified

Social Stuff

  • Do 30 group or partner runs this year
  • Volunteer for races at least 10 times
  • Go for a run in 3 new cities
  • Watch 3 movies on the AFI top 100 list

Grown Up Things

  • Try 3 new foods
  • Cook a turkey dinner
  • Attempt to make homemade pasta
  • Buy my parents dinner (they make this harder than you may think)
  • Find a new place to move into and learn how to rent current condo

My Favorite D.C. Restaurants

Last week I wrote about my favorite Arlington restaurants, so I figured I’d share my favorites in the District today. It’s hard to pick just a few, but the ones I find myself going back to again and again are RFD, Buffalo Billiards and Match Box.

RFD has a beer list that numbers in the hundreds so it’s a great spot for happy hour that turns into several hours plus dinner! They usually have a few ciders on the drinks menu that I like to try, but more often than not, I find myself ordering the “get real Miller Lite” – yes, that’s actually how they list it on the menu. What can I say? I like my Miller Lites! They have decent pub food to complement all the drinks with good nachos, good burgers and good sandwiches/wraps.

Located in Chinatown right near the Verizon Center it’s a great spot to go to before or after games. It’s huge so even when it’s packed you can usually find room. They also have a nice back room for parties or watching games.

Buffalo Billiards is admittedly nothing special, but I love it. It’s the perfect spot for watching sports. You can grab a table and see a bunch of TVs all around from any angle. They’re great about putting the game I want on if I ask them to change the TVs (Syracuse games of course!), and they have really good specials.

I haven’t met many buffalo chicken wraps I don’t like, but theirs is great as are the french fries. If you’re bored with the games on TV, you can entertain yourself with shuffleboard, darts or pool as well. It’s always a good time here.

Last but not least is Matchbox. They have several locations, but the Capitol Hill one is my favorite. Given my love for pizza and burgers, a place that is known for it’s amazing sliders and pizzas had to make this list. You can order the sliders to share (or for just you!) in sets of 3, 6 or 9 with a choice of several cheeses – I usually go with gorgonzola. They’re also served with onion straws – the only way I like onion rings – making them the perfect app.

At most restaurants I have one go-to dish that I get everytime I go. At Matchbox I always have a tough decision. Even their sandwiches are great, but I almost always go with the pizza since that’s what they do best. My favorite pizzas I rotate between are the matchbox meat, spicy meatball or four cheese white. You really can’t go wrong!

Similar to my Arlington list, my favorites here fall in the pub food and pizza categories, but there really are a lot of other great places in D.C. to eat out at as well. Let me know your favorites in the comments!

My Favorite Arlington Restaurants

One of the great things about running and working out so much is that I get to enjoy all of the great restaurants (in moderation of course!) near me in the Arlington area without worrying about packing on the pounds! I’m by no means a foodie, so fancy or trendy restaurants aren’t my thing, but I do love to eat. There are so many great spots to eat out at here, but given my love for pizza and pub food, it should come as no surprise that my top three spots in Arlington in the Rosslyn to Ballston corridor are RiRa, Fire Works and Ray’s Hell Burger.

RiRa is an irish pub up in Clarendon. It’s part of a chain that tries to bring a bit of Ireland to the states by hiring bartenders and servers from Ireland and serving dishes like Guiness stew and fish and chips. For years my favorite Irish pub in the area was Four Courts, but since they have stopped serving Magners and have taken my favorite food options off the menu, RiRa is now number one.

RiRa has a great appetizer selection. My favorites are the soft pretzles and the spinach dip. If you’re not looking for a full meal, you can get a sampler to share with three full-size apps for under $25. They also serve good burgers and chicken sandwiches, which is about all it takes to please me! I love the setup and atmosphere of RiRa as well – you can catch a game in the eating areas downstairs, come for trivia night or head upstairs where another bar is located for some great people watching, especially on 80s cover band nights!

Fire Works near the Court House metro opened a couple years ago and won me over right away with their wood-fired oven pizzas. I also love their garlic knots and their spinach dip (are you sensing a theme here?) served with delicious pizza bread. I generally go with the plain old cheese and herb pizza, unless the special of the day is their buffalo chicken pizza, which is quite tasty. They have an extensive beer list and a few ciders too, so I usually end up ordering a Crispin or two.

The only downside to Fire Works is their service. I’ve never had anyone be unpleasant, but they are usually understaffed resulting in pretty slow service. The food and atmosphere make up for it though, especially when you can sit out on the patio on a nice summer evening or even on cooler evenings if you’re by the fire.

Ray’s Hell Burger might be the best burger I’ve ever had. If you’re looking for a great burger, then look no further than Ray’s. It’s cash only, so be sure to stop at the ATM first or you might miss out on your best burger ever. The meat is seasoned perfectly – you have several seasoning options to choose from – and cooked to juicy perfection. I always add a side of seven cheese mac and a coke. I’m no expert at restaurant reviews, so head on over to Croutons Stuck in Futons for a review that does Ray’s a bit more justice.

I finally made it to Ray’s: To The Third recently. It’s another one of the restaurants in the Ray’s family and is right across the street from the plaza that houses Ray’s Hellburger. I didn’t think it was fair to add to this list since I’ve only been there once, but it will quickly become one of my favs. It contains all the Ray’s wonderfulness from the steakhouse, Ray’s Hellburger and Ray’s Nice ‘N’ Greasy Steak ‘N’ Cheesy. The steak and cheese sandwich was out of this world, and the inside of the restaurant is a bit nicer than the more cafeteria-style version over at Hell Burger.

The best part about these places: all three are walking distance from my place. Some might argue with me on that when it comes to RiRa and Fireworks, but hey, it can never hurt to work up an appetite on the way there or walk off a delicious meal on the way home!