Everything I Ate in Hawaii

Oh, how I love Hawaii! Out of all of the places I've ever been, it's been the one place that's captured my heart in a way that nowhere else has been able to. I've been three times now and it just doesn't get old! While I love the natural beauty of the islands, all of the fun, active things to do outdoors, and of course the beaches, near the top of the list of the things I love about Hawaii is the food! 

Surprised? Not so much? Obviously, if you are here on this blog, you can tell I really love food. But the thing I like about Hawaii's food is that it's fun and kind of eclectic. I mean, where else can you find so many dishes that include SPAM, of all things? Another thing that I have always enjoyed about Hawaii's food scene is how readily available all kinds of different Asian cuisines are, especially on Oahu. It's hard to find good Japanese curry and/or ramen here in Virginia (at least, where I live), so I love getting my fill of these foods when I'm in Hawaii (or California).

Here's a little recap of what I ate on this last trip. If you're interested in some pretty landscape photos, be sure to check out my photography blog, here!

1. Curry chicken plate lunch at Fatboy's with mac salad. Totally a fatty thing to do to eat macaroni salad and rice, but it's also a total Hawaiian thing to do. And it's surprisingly good. Or maybe that's just me, because I love mayonnaise??
2. Turkey sub from Timmy T's Gourmet Grinders in Kailua. Basically just like Jimmy John's, but they use Boar's Head meats and a bread that tastes more like a Hawaiian roll and less like the french bread JJ's uses. LOVE these sandwiches.
3. Some kind of really sweet drink from a rooftop Mexican place called Buho Cantina. 
4. Chip and dip trio from my favorite...the Mai Tai bar at the Royal Hawaiian. The best place to see that quintessential Hawaiian sunset and have a couple strong ass cocktails that cost $15 each...ha.

1. There gets to be a point when I'm traveling and feeling the effects of eating to excess and decide I probably could use a few grams of protein in order to not turn into a sack of potatoes...this, or Premiere Protein from Costco are my go-tos.
2. Whole Foods hot bar breakfast!! If you're traveling to Hawaii from the East Coast, you eat a lot more breakfast because you wake up every morning between 4-5AM since the time is 5-6 hours behind what you're used to. Whole Foods never lets me down. Interestingly enough, I feel like the Kailua WF has a specific smell that always reminds me of that exact location. (Okay, maybe that wasn't interesting at all...ha. MOVING ON...)
3.  Hapuia (coconut) custard filled malasada from Leonard's Malasada Mobile!!! Malasadas are Portuguese donuts that don't have holes. You can get them filled or not, but I prefer filling, either hapuia or chocolate. They're made to order, so they are hot, fluffy, and delicious.
4. Mussel pokè. Poke is basically raw fish. I'd never had mussel pokè before, but after trying a sample at Foodland (yes, grocery stores have great pokè...) I was sold. I love mussels. I love pokè. Mussel poke = match made in heaven. Perfect beach day food. And healthy. 

1. & 2. Truffle oil and egg pizza and a fancy titos and soda from Prima in Kailua. Truffle oil on pizza is so heavenly.
3. & 4. My Thanksgiving meal on the beach, courtesy of Whole Foods (the meal) and 7/11 (the wine). I was surprised to find that although I really enjoyed eating my stuffing and potatoes on the beach, I actually really missed spending the day with family! I'm all about a beach day, but it felt really weird being so far removed from everyone.

1. Happy hour at Laylow Waikiki.
2. Pork belly ramen from a stand inside the ala moana mall. They've got a legit Asian food court with a ton of stands and $1 beers. Manichi Ramen is probably the best I've ever had...the broth was so smooth and silky and the noodles were perfectly chewy with the right amount of flavor! 
3. Beef curry bowl at a stand at The Street. The Street is a cool little food court type place with several fun little eateries. I always feel like I can't get good Japanese curry at home, so I was thrilled to enjoy some in Waikiki. 
4. Whole Foods again for the win...can't not have pecan pie at some point Thanksgiving weekend, right? This pie was so amazing...perfect amount of sweetness without being too much. 

1&2. More ramen! Lucky Belly is a really fun Ramen place in Chinatown. It's really more of an Asian fusion place than a straight up authentic spot, but it's still really REALLY good. Lucky Belly is the place where I got one of my best friends hooked on ramen in 2016 if that tells you how good it is. They've also got a lot of amazing cocktails.
3. This is one of those things I feel like people would judge me for loving, but I am obsessed with chips and dip. I really wanted french onion, but couldn't find it, so I settled for ranch.
4. This cute little cafe near my friend's house called ChadLou's has made to order ice cream sandwiches!! You choose your cookies and ice cream and they put it together. I had macadamia nut ice cream between my cookies. Such a wonderful treat while I answered emails and caught up on some work. 

1. The appetizer from Lucky Belly was this amazing (albeit, $16) gyoza!! Perfection and actually better than some gyoza I had eaten at a stand in the Ala Moana Center.
2. Banana, walnut, Nutella waffle from ChadLou's. I mean, NUTELLA WAFFLE.
3. Bacon, egg, avocado, cheese, ham sandwich from Ono's in Kailua. Get it?? B.E.A.C.H?? I am very passionate about breakfast sandwiches. This one was decent, but I can't say I'm up at night dreaming about it or anything...
4. Ice cream from Cream N' Roll. This was a really neat concept...they rolled out your choice of ice cream and any add ins and shaped them into, well, rolls. In general though, it just tasted like ice cream to me...which I can take or leave right now. I'm more of a savory winter eater. 

1. "Fish and Chips" with cod and sweet potato fries. Sadly, I was disappointed by this. In theory it sounded amazing...but it really didn't turn out to be that great.
2. Shrimp and pineapple stir fry...in a pineapple! I'm still wanting to make my own Hawaiian themed stir fry. Mine would have bits of spam and pineapple and peas and green onions...maybe shrimp too!
3 & 4 Brunch at Koko Head Cafe! This is one of my must-visit places on Oahu! A Top Chef finalist is the chef/owner here and everything I've tried on the menu is amazing! All of the brunch items (which they serve all the time) are Asian fusion inspired, like the chicken and egg skillet I had. I love the rice on the bottom of the skillet because it gets crispy!! Also, gotta have a rum punch in Hawaii, ;)

1. Shrimp quesadilla with that famous North Shore shrimp! 
2. Spam and egg musubi. Spam musubis are one of my favorite things about Hawaii...I LOVE Spam despite the fact that it's in all actuality pretty gross. If you've never had a musubi and you like Spam, be prepared to have a life changing experience when you finally get to enjoy one. 
3. Rum cocktail with locally made rum in an animal mug. When I ordered my first drink, I asked specifically for this white porcelain cat mug, which I immediately fell in love with. I loved it so much I asked if I could pay for it and take it with me. Bad news? Bartender said no. Good news? Found one online for $12. My second drink was made for me in this fun toucan tumbler! 
4. Last day wings at this little sports bar next to the grocery store in Kailua. If you're a football fan in Hawaii, weekday games are always on in the afternoon! Which is great for Happy Hour specials, but not so great for people who work traditional hours...

This trip happened at kind of a weird time for me, but I still managed to enjoy myself throughout all of the eating and cocktails and sightseeing. I'm planning a post with suggestions for anyone headed to Oahu, so stay tuned for that!!! 

Richmond Half Marathon Recap

It's taken me a really really long time to write about this, but even though it's super belated, I couldn't let such an amazing experience go undocumented. A couple months ago, after what started out as a casual conversation in the gym one day after class, my friend Leslie and I set out to start training for the Richmond Half Marathon. Though I initally signed up for the race looking for to improve upon my last time running Richmond, I ended up getting not just that PR I was hoping for, but also the beginning of one of the best friendships I've ever had, as well as learning a lot of life lessons along the way. 

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I started running when I was 25 (and by running, I mean glorified speed walking/jogging). I casually decided to run both a half and full marathon within a few months of lacing up my very first pair of running shoes because, well, I'm just that kind of person. I need/crave having a specific goal to work towards and I also tend to believe that if there's something out there you want to do, you should live by Nike's motto and just do it already. I trained for those races completely alone. I didn't really choose it that way...I just didn't know anyone else who liked to run and lived in close enough proximity to train with me. In fact, at the time, I didn't even like to run. But I didn't know what else to try and do to get "in shape" and running seemed pretty simple...I figured I could handle putting one foot in front of the other. 

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Doing all of that running and all of that solo training changed my life for the better. I always did my best thinking in the solitude of training, with nothing to distract me besides my music. No Snapchat, no Instagram. No TV or chores or emails or whatever else to distract me from my own thoughts. As much I learned from doing it all on my own, after training with my friend, Leslie for 3 months in preparation for our half (her first race EVER), I realized that there's also something to be said for training with a friend too. 

We kind of haphazardly put together a plan for training which culminated in a final ten miler a couple weeks before the race. We ran together for the majority of training. Both of us were sick for probably 70 percent of the duration of the time leading up to the race (I still swear we had whooping cough) and I was healing from a back injury for the most of it. Despite feeling like we were hobbling around much of the time we trained, we still managed to finish the race at 2:05 (a PR for me and a great start for Leslie!) which makes me really proud of us. Especially knowing all that we went through to get to that point!

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I love Richmond because I like that the majority of the training is in much MUCH more mild weather than it is training for Spring races. The irony here is that this race ended up being THE coldest race I've ever run. When we made our way to the starting line it was only TWENTY SIX DEGREES. Both of us were nervous, me especially because I waited til the last minute to eat my giant Rice Krispy treat and then had to shove it down my gullet in two minutes before we took off. I was trying to make sure that we didn't have to stand outside in the cold too long, which ended up backfiring when we ended up rolling up right before our wave started!! 

I had wanted to race with the 2:00 pace group since 2:00 was my ultimate goal...but we quickly lost them after I had to stop to tie my shoe. It wasn't worth it to speed up early on to try to catch them, so we just worked on running our own race after that. 

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By mile ten or so, I could tell Leslie was getting tired. Personally, I was starting to feel a lot of adrenaline, especially since I knew the course and could tell how close we were to the finish. At this point, I became a crazy lady, just yelling things at her to motivate her (and probably pissing off the other people who were running near us) but I knew that we were too close to slow down! 

When we finally rounded the last corner and flew down that hill (that hill is literally the best thing about running Richmond...you get to FLY down the finish line because it's all downhill) I felt tears welling up in my eyes. I never cried after either of my prior two half marathons or even the marathon I ran (though I might have been too exhausted and/or dehydrated to physically create tears at that point...), which is shocking, because I'm a very "heart on my sleeve" type of person, but I got so emotional when we finished. I think it was mostly because I knew that we had really been so much farther than just 13.1 miles.

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With all of the things I had been going through during the Fall, I needed Leslie there to run next to me, to listen, to love me unconditionally and to laugh at my terrible jokes. And she needed me to be the bossy little person telling her that we were doing this and to remind her there was alcohol waiting at the end of the finish line on race day. I teared up at the end because I was proud of her, proud of myself, and all in all glad to have been on such a transformative journey with someone who went from friend to a best friend in the space of the time that we trained together.

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All mushiness aside, this is one of my favorite races. This is the one I'd do again and again just because I really enjoy the course, the people, the atmosphere, and that freaking amazing feeling running down that hill to the finish line. This race is oddly enough the only time I've ever cramped while running, but I'm very used to running on extremely flat terrain, so that's probably why. I'm in the middle of training for the Shamrock Full, but I'm really seriously considering signing up for the full Richmond...it's just that good of a race!! 

If you've made it to the end of this, thank you for listening to my story! I really believe that running is one of the most theraputic things I've ever done for myself. And although at times I have a love/hate relationship with it, I know that I'll run the rest of my life, as long as I'm able. Running changed my life by teaching me I could do things I never thought were possible and I am just so glad that I was able to bring that amazing feeling into my friend's life too:)

Fayetteville Spartan Super Recap

This past weekend marked my THIRD Spartan Race and my very first Spartan Super. It also ended up being the one year anniversary of my very first Spartan...the 2016 Wintergreen Sprint! You can read more about that first race here, if you're interested.

It feels like it's taken me forever to finally get my first Super under my belt! After running the Charlotte Sprint earlier this year (read that recap here) I was ready to sign up for the May Super in Arrington, VA...so much so that I even turned down work for that particular date! Unfortunately, they ended up moving that one to June 3rd, a date that I'd booked almost a year ago. This meant that I had to search for another race I could make work with my schedule. There actually aren't that many Super dates as it is, so this past weekend was the first I could make work!

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The funny thing about this race is that literally TWO DAYS after I registered, I hurt my back doing heavy high rep deadlifts. At the time I hurt myself, I had no idea how serious the injury really was, OR that I'd need almost two months to recover! I'd planned to be SO beyond ready for this race, but life had other ideas. I was only able to run 8 miles once, about 5 weeks before the race. I'd hoped to have had a 10 miler under my belt before then, but it just never happened. I never got to refresh my skills rope climbing or spear throwing, AND the heaviest thing I had picked up in weeks was Lucy, my 12 pound orange tabby cat.

It was a game time decision to run at Fayetteville, and I owe the fact that I was able to get out there at all, to my trainer, Geoff, who basically forced me to stay out of the gym for almost two weeks. Taking time off was the LAST thing I wanted to do, but it ended up being the best thing. Sticking to resting and going to physical therapy helped me progress more in two weeks than I had in nearly five weeks prior. I finally decided that no matter what, I was going to race in Fayetteville, mostly because I knew if I didn't, that would mean I'd be out of the running for my trifecta this year and I really REALLY want that Trifecta!

I couldn't have asked for a better experience for my Super, especially all things considered! I thought I might have had to run the race alone (My friend Cheryl also hurt her back and was considering sitting this one out) but I ended up having two incredible athletes to push me along the course. The weather was perfect, the course was flat and felt like running on the trail near my house. My former nemesis, the rope climb, was toward the beginning of the race. I flew up the rope and hit the bell with satisfaction. 


The worst part of the race was actually taking C4 (which I NEVER take) and feeling really amazing until about mile 5 or so, when I started crashing really hard and feeling like I was going to puke. That's a really great reminder to NEVER try something new on race day. Stick to what you know already works well for you!

I also cramped more on this course than I have in the past, despite making sure a fair bit of sodium was in my diet leading up to the race. Even a mustard packet given to me by a fellow racer didn't help. I'll have to experiment and figure this out before my Beast in December...cramps in my right calf and glute muscles meant I had to walk around the 8-foot wall. 


Though Fayetteville was nice and flat, the dunk wall and mud were some of the most disgusting I've ever been through. I've been sick now for a couple days and I wouldn't doubt that water is at least partially to blame! 

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Besides making it up the rope a second time, the biggest wins of the day for me were actually being able to do the atlas carry (I hadn't picked up anything heavier than a cat in weeks!) AND conquering Olympus. I've done Olympus once or twice in training, but I failed this at Charlotte when I was in good shape and completely healthy. It was even at the beginning of the race at Charlotte! I had it in my mind I wasn't even going to attempt it this time because of my back pain, but I tried it anyway and miraculously made it across! That felt SO good. I often wonder why it is that I put myself and my poor body through races like this...that feeling is the reason I do it. Being able to surprise myself, to prove that I can get better, that I can get stronger....that's what makes it worth the bruises, the mud, the black toe nails and the literal blood, sweat, and tears. 

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I will always remember all of the Spartans I've done very fondly, but when I look back on this one, I know I'll feel a strong sense of pride because although I wasn't really ready AND I was fairly certain I wasn't going to be able to do most of the things on the course, I really came through in the clutch and surprised myself. I proved to myself that I am capable of so much more than I thought I was, and that's a feeling I won't ever forget!!! 

Now on to the Florida Beast!! Can't wait to finish out my Trifecta :)

Peonies and a few odds and ends

Since this time of year is one of the craziest times of year for wedding photographers (we lovingly refer to this as "busy season"), it's all I can do to keep up these days! It's also getting warmer outside, so things are heating up in our day to day lives as well. (Pun intended).

We're currently working on moving out of the 1910s house we were renting (which means painting, landscaping work, and a bunch of other odds and ends), as well as preparing for several weddings we're involved in next month...including one where John is actually a groomsman! It's his first time being a groomsman, which is funny to me because I've been dying to be a bridesmaid and he, of course, gets to be in a bridal party before me! We've also joined an adult kickball league for the first time and I'm learning how to do sports. Most of what I can do is run...but they haven't come up with a position yet that allows for someone else to kick the ball and me just do the running...ha!!

Since this weekend is Mother's Day, I went to Trader Joe's today for flowers for my mom (and myself, because hey, cat moms matter, too!) and instead of buying a pre-made bouquet, I decided to make us both arrangements instead. 

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Although I'm kind of already over the gray weather forecasted for the next three days, the rain and gloom was actually perfect to put on Alabama Shakes and get to work creating with these pretty flowers with a cup of sugar cookie coffee.

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I love how the arrangements turned out! I love playing with flowers...it was a fun little escape from my work for the afternoon...now it's time to head back to my editing cave!

Charlotte Spartan Sprint Recap

Oh hello! I feel like it was just the beginning of April, wasn’t it? How did we already get to the first day of May?? It seems like I was literally just prepping for my second Spartan Race the first weekend of last month and now here I am several weeks later and I’m just now blogging about it! I’m a total slacker lately when it comes to this blog, but I’ve got a TON of stuff to share in the upcoming days and weeks! 

I think anybody who’s known me a really long time (beyond a couple years or so…) would think it’s somewhat hilarious and/or ridiculous that I’ve actually run TWO Spartan races now. WHO AM I EVEN?? Last year when I turned 29, I decided to set up a list of challenges and activities to work on completing before my big 3-0 birthday this July and one of those things was to run an obstacle course race! I started OCR training through a local group called ROC Training and it ended up being perfect timing. My friend and I ran our first Spartan, the Wintergreen Sprint, back in the Fall and set our sights on a Trifecta in 2017 by signing up for Charlotte Sprint!

Thank you to my friend Tori for the pics! She ran her own preggo Spartan running around taking photos of us!!

Thank you to my friend Tori for the pics! She ran her own preggo Spartan running around taking photos of us!!

Since this was my second race and I didn’t have to work until late the night before, I felt so much more at ease going into the race! Not only did I know what I was getting myself into this time, I’d also heard from multiple Spartan veterans that the Wintergreen Race we’d run (I’m using the term “run” loosely here…) is one of the hardest Sprints out there. Starting Saturday morning I was excited to see how far the last few months of training would take me and what I could improve upon…especially the rope, which was my nemesis at the last race. You can read all about that here in my Wintergreen recap, if you’re interested!

One thing I’ll always remember about this race is how freaking COLD it was at the start. A lot of that, I’m sure has to do with the time of year we raced (beginning of April) and the time of day our heat was (8:00-8:30 competitive). I’d definitely take the cold weather though, over racing later in the day because the second thing I’ll always remember about this race was the MUD. 

Oh, the mud. It smelled like straight up cow poops and had the texture of what I’d imagine quicksand to feel like. I’m usually pretty good at barbed wire crawls because I’m petite, which makes me lower to the ground naturally, but I can’t imagine there was even one person who didn’t struggle through that mud! It almost would have been worth it (and faster!) to do the 30 burpees and skip slogging through that crap (literally…haha).

The mud made all of the obstacles more difficult…especially the rope. 

The rope. THAT STUPID FREAKING ROPE. Last year, when I started ROC training I think I laughed (or more likely rolled my eyes or grimaced, which I have a tendency to do) when they started trying to teach us how to climb a rope. It’s not like I’m not strong, but upper body strength has never been a strong suit of mine and I’d always imagined a rope climb would be straight up upper body work. It turns out that it’s mostly technique and since we spent a lot of time before the Wintergreen Spartan learning that technique and I felt like I stood a pretty decent chance at getting it at the race.

Well, if you've read my Wintergreen recap post, and/or ever talked to me about that race experience in real life, you’ll know that it was a pretty epic fail at my first race. I basically got 3/4 of the way up the rope and lost all of my energy and did a horrible, awkward slide down the rope before bursting into tears. I tasted my hot, salty tears during the angriest, most defeated thirty burpees of all time. That moment was my biggest regret from that race and I think it was because I felt I really did have the capability to climb it. Some obstacles I don’t feel bummed about failing because I know that right now they are so far out of my reach due to my size, genetics, strength levels, etc that even if I literally gave 100 percent towards completing it, I still wouldn’t get it. The rope wasn’t one of those things, so it made me so mad at myself knowing that I failed and ultimately let myself and everybody who was cheering for me down. I vowed to make it up the rope at my next Spartan and dedicated as much time as I could practicing rope climbs and working on my grip strength. 

The morning of the race, we could see the rope area as we parked and headed to the start. “Oh that doesn’t look too bad!” I said out loud. It was almost like I jinxed myself. It technically wasn’t all that high (though, when you’re afraid of heights, pretty much anything is high) but it was destined to be the most slippery thing on earth after hundreds of people attempted to climb after crawling through literally SHIN DEEP poop mud. 

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After slogging through the poop mud, I hustled to the hoist and the rope. The hoist was a piece of cake…again, because I think they have us do heavier hoists in training, I was well prepared! After the hoist, I was antsy to get over to the rope. Cheryl noticed and commented on how ready I was. “I’m just trying to get it over with!” I said. I think most of us were just DONE after the mud, so I know I wasn’t alone in feeling that. I couldn’t relax or concentrate on anything else until I’d gone up that rope. The closer I got to it finally being time to attempt the climb, I started to feel more and more anxious. I felt it in the pit of my stomach. What if I didn’t do it? Especially after I made such a big deal about making it happen this time?? 

The first thing I did when I approached the rope climb was look for one that had dry-ness starting lower than the others. The ropes were ALL muddy and slick towards the bottom, but towards the tops they were dryer where you could tell that people had quit. I grabbed the rope in my hands and went to hook it around my foot and that’s when I realized this was going to be NOTHING like climbing the rope in training. Nothing really could have prepared me to go up a rope so slippery I couldn’t really keep it between my feet very well OR hold onto it well enough to grip it with my hands. I could feel my heart sink and my tear ducts filling up after I jumped up on the rope only to have it slip through my fingers and my (unfortunately bare) legs.

I slid down off of that rope, hot tears in my eyes, already feeling like a failure, full on toddler style meltdown about to erupt, when my friend Leah stood in front of me and told me “NO CRYING!!”. She said it with such sternness and fierceness that I immediately sniffled and took a deep breath before collecting myself as best as I could to go at it again. I couldn’t walk away with that being how it ended…I just couldn’t. I knew in that moment that the only way I’d be giving up this time would be if I physically fell off of the rope because my arms and grip gave out. 

After a couple more deep breaths, I jumped back up and took it kind of slow. I realized that if I could just somehow get past the slick, wet mud stained part of the rope, I’d be home free (I mean, as home free as you can actually be when it comes to a rope climb…). If I could just get past the slick, slimy length of the rope, I’d be able to inch up the rest of the way just like I’d done a hundred times before in practice.

Thinking back to that moment, my memories of making it up feel like a blur. Like it happened in an instant, but also like it took a lifetime. Near the spot where I quit on myself at Wintergreen, I felt exhaustion creeping in. It hurt, I was tired, wet, and I was so hungry! My arms were burning and I just wanted it to be over. That’s the moment when I realized that I couldn’t give up. I couldn’t let go. I couldn’t let my mind take over when my body knew what it needed to do. That’s a moment I will go back to again and again in my mind when I need that little bit of extra to push through something difficult…in that moment I knew that the only difference between me last time and the me that I wanted to be…the one succeeding and ringing the bell, was to keep going despite how hard it was. 

And isn’t that such a good metaphor for life? What’s the thing that separates successful people from those who aren’t? What’s the thing that separates athletes from people who aren’t? It’s that grit that says keep going even though everything in you wants to stop. I say all the time “If Katie Nesbitt can do it, anybody can” because I know that I’m not special. None of us are. We all have the capability to give our best or the capability to quit. If exercise hating, junk food junkie, bookworm, couch potato, Katie Nesbitt can climb ropes and deadlift twice what she weighs, I feel that anything is possible…(but seriously).

Anyway! Back to my story: I kept pulling away at the rope while my coaches and my friends (and a few strangers) yelled encouragement and other random things at me. Suddenly I heard people yelling at me to hit the bell. I was so confused for a second because I didn’t think I was close enough to it, but I held on for dear life and swung my arm out and hit the bell. In that moment I felt fear (because I was literally swinging from the top of a rope and afraid of falling off) and SO much relief. 


After sliding awkwardly to the bottom, my eyes welled up with tears. This time becauseI realized I had climbed the freaking rope! I had conquered an obstacle that had frustrated me to no end at my first race and I’d done something I NEVER would have thought I’d be able to do in my lifetime.


That moment, that feeling of being able to prove to myself that I could do it was something I will never ever forget. Wintergreen was a great experience, but Charlotte was all about redemption for me. I am so glad that I got to go and do this, AND that I got to do it with friends! Throughout the race I bitched and complained a lot, repeatedly asking “WHY DO WE PAY MONEY TO PUT OURSELVES THROUGH THIS SHIT?!?” but I know why it is we do it. Because it’s cathartic to be able to push yourself, to prove what you can do, to redeem yourself from past failures, and because the camaraderie you share with your teammates is something so special. 

Running a marathon a few years back was just a yolo thing I did to say that I’d done it that ended up wearing me out, but running Spartans has been an intentional thing I’ve done that’s given me confidence, strength, a tribe of amazing athletes that I get to call friends. I can’t wait to sign up for my next race!

Photos & Meal Planning

One of the weird things I do that maybe not everyone else does (or maybe they do??) is photographing most of my meals. Not all of the photos are nice or are in good lighting. In fact, most of them are just quick snapshots of whatever I'm about to dig into before I chow down on it. 

I started doing this for two reasons.

1. I really, REALLY love food. I like to remember great meals that I've had! Taking a photo of a meal is like taking a photo of any other good memory to me. 

2. I like to look back through my food photos for ideas on what to eat when I'm in a rut food-wise or just can't decide what to eat. We all have those nights when we're trying to decide what to eat because nothing sounds good and this helps me pick from things I've had before. It really does help when I'm meal planning or just thinking about what I should have for dinner!

Meals pictured (left to right) 

Row 1:
1. Coconut Thai Shrimp Bowls, 2. a Blue Apron salmon and cous cous dish, 3. a kid's meal from Cafe Rio, 4. Chicken pita from Zoe's Kitchen

Row 2:
1. Skinnytaste Butternut Squash Lasgana rolls, 2. Skinnytaste Crockpot Sesame Chicken, 3. Leftover chicken teriyaki and beef bulgogi and salad, 4. Ground turkey, roasted green beans and butternut squash, 

Row 3:
1. Lean Cuisine Vermont Cheddar Mac & Cheese and open faced tuna sandwich 2. Rice, broccoli, chicken, and a cara cara orange, 3. Homemade chili, 4. Bagel thins, baby bel cheese, spinach, and smoked salmon

Row 4: 
1. Peanut Butter Pie from the Roosevelt, 2. Skinnytaste Crockpot maple drumsticks and cauliflower gratin from Trader Joe's, 3. Angel hair pasta with olive oil and sauteed shrimp 4. Baked Chicken, rice, and sriracha ranch. 

Must Haves for Long Haul Flights

We are a little over a week from heading out to HAWAII (!!!) and I couldn't be more excited. I've already started working on my packing list (which is actually a spreadsheet...and includes things like who I want to buy souvenirs for and what sights I want to see). Is that really weird and type A?? I can't help it, I guess I was just born this way, because that's how I roll. 

Since Hawaii is a little bit of a trek (we've got a four hour flight and then a seven hour flight to get there), I thought as I was packing up some of my long trip essentials, I'd also share them here!  

1 & 2. Earplugs and a sleep mask - These long haul flights are the perfect opportunity to get a little bit of sleep if you can sleep on a plane. I personally can only sleep on a plane if I'm exhausted beyond belief. And even then a sleep mask works wonders, especially when people near you decide they really want to keep their window shades open and the sun is right in your eyeballs. Earplugs are a bonus. 

PRO TIP: I usually pick a window seat on the side I sleep on. I sleep mostly on my left side, so I usually pick the left side of the plane. Something about doing that helps to trick my body into feeling like it's time to sleep.

3. Comfortable headphones - If you don't want to use earplugs, comfortable headphones are so important. If you're wearing your headphones for more than an hour or two at a time, comfort is really important! I recently got these Beats headphones, that I love! I'm a big earbud person, but a lot of people also love to wear the over ear headphones too. 

4. Spotify Premium - I started using Spotify Premium when I was marathon training and needed access to hours of music that I could also access offline without purchasing 70 or 80 dollars of music from Apple. I love it for long haul flights because you can make a playlist of as many songs as you'd like and then you can make it available offline, meaning you won't have to use wifi or data to listen. This is awesome for flying or any other time when you might want to conserve data or battery life! 

5. Mophie Charging Case for iPhone - Speaking of conserving battery life, I don't travel without a Mophie Charging case for my iPhone! Previously I had the external universal mophie charger, which I'd use with my regular phone charger, but I've found the charging case to be the most convenient and easy to use when you're traveling. You don't need to carry anything extra, the charger is on your phone! You just flip a little switch when you're low and it starts charging right then and there. Such a lifesaver for a flight on a plane that doesn't have power! I have this one. I thought it would be super bulky and I would hate it, but once you get used to it, it's just fine! 

6. A zippered pouch - I think the key to staying organized when traveling is lots of compartments. There's not much I hate more than looking for something I need and having to dig through my entire cavernous carry on bag. I keep a smaller bag of some kind in my carry on with all of my in flight essentials (gum, dramamine, headphones, advil, lip balm, nyquil, etc) so that I can grab that and stick it in the seat back in front of me so I'm not digging through my carry on every time I need something. 

7. Compression socks - I'm very pro wearing socks when I fly. If it's a shorter flight, I might wear sandals, but for long flights, I always wear socks, specifically compression socks. Long flights are always FREEZING, so socks are very important. Compression socks are great because in addition to keeping your feet warm, they also help keep your feet and legs from swelling due to cabin pressure and lower the chance you might get a blood clot. 

8. Zabees Immune Support and Sleep powder I discovered this stuff on a trip earlier this Fall and fell in love with it! When you're traveling, your immune system can always benefit from a little bit of a boost and the melatonin and other things in the powder also help me relax enough to drift off to sleep. I highly recommend this stuff before a red eye flight! 

My last "must have" is a must have for ANY flight. It's TSA PreCheck. I signed up earlier this year and was mad I hadn't done it earlier, because it makes the process of getting through the airport SO MUCH SMOOTHER. You pay a one time fee and go to your local office to have them verify your identity and take your fingerprints and you get a known traveler ID that allows you to bypass the long TSA lines and go straight to the PreCheck line instead. I love it because I can keep my shoes and jacket on and I don't have to remove my laptop or liquids! I travel alone a lot and really prefer people not know I have an expensive laptop in my possession. 

A Girl's "Weekend" in Charleston, PT 1

A little over a week ago I returned from my very first trip to Charleston. It seems like almost everybody is going to Charleston these days and so instead of feeling all of the FOMO feels, I decided to make the trek myself to see what I might be missing out on. My friend Sarah (who is also a wedding photographer!) and I road-tripped together from Virginia. Surprisingly, the drive isn’t terrible and it’s well worth it, in my opinion, because it turns out, if your favorite things in life are food and cocktails, Charleston is the place for you!

Wilton House Museum Wedding Photos in Richmond Virginia_0074.jpg

I have quite a bit to share from our short trip (I really love to pack it all in on a trip!) so I'll be sharing two separate Charleston posts. I only took my little film camera (a Canon AE-1, if you're interested) and my iPhone, so most of my photos are just phone photos! Don't judge too harshly, guys. 

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

Sarah and I live a couple hours apart, so we met in Richmond and drove into Charleston Sunday afternoon. After a few re-routes thanks to destruction from Hurricane Matthew, we finally made it to town in time for a late dinner!After consulting Yelp and comparing menus of a few places with good ratings, we chose to head over to Voodoo Tiki Bar in search of Cheeseburger egg rolls. 

I have to say, after the experience we had at Voodoo Tiki Bar, I will be a little skeptical of Yelp in the future. I was hoping for a chill bar where people go to have a bite and some cocktails. It ended up being a full on club atmosphere (we’re talking black light halloween party here, guys). It was a pretty interesting way to start the trip, considering I was basically wearing pajamas (leggings and a big comfy sweater) and had no makeup on…not even moisturizer! 

We had drinks and shared both Cheeseburger egg rolls and Shrimp po boy sliders. Both were pretty good, especially for a club-y type place. I don’t think there are many places like this where the food is actually really good! I imagine if you'd had a few drinks, it would taste even better! 

I also noted that they had several types of tequilas that seemed really cool (like a strawberry jalapeño infused variety) and I’m already regretting not having the pecan pie bourbon. All in all, I do think I would return if I was in the area for like, a bachelorette party, a birthday, or something else with a big group. I will definitely try to dress more appropriately next time, as well…HAHA.

The next morning we set out for the day to explore and eat. And eat and explore. We had no real set agenda, just mainly stuffing our faces as much as possible. Which is pretty much par for the course when you are on vacation with me. That and day-drinking. 


Our first stop was Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. It’s such a cute place, but it’s really tiny. So tiny that we actually passed it twice walking King Street before we made it in! We decided to share three biscuits (our main strategy here was to share smaller portions so we could eat as many things as possible since we were only in town for a couple days). We sampled ham, cinnamon, and buttermilk with pimento cheese. 

The biscuits were so good! I highly recommend trying a few different things because there were things I liked about each of them. The cinnamon had a sweetness to it that complimented the saltiness of the ham biscuit. And the pimento cheese? Well, it’s pimento cheese so you know it was amazing!

We also shared a homemade oreo cookie. I'm an oreo connoisseur, if you weren't aware, so I felt this was a necessary snack to try. The cookie was chocolate-y and shortbread-y and amazing! I could eat a whole sleeve of them if they were smaller, for sure. 

After browsing some of the shops on King Street, we took a break for a donut at Glazed Donuts. I chose a raspberry frosted donut that was delicious! Probably one of the best I’ve ever had! The raspberry icing really tasted of raspberry. I could tell that they used real berries to make it. The donut itself was a perfect yeast donut. Light, airy, and soft! I would rate this as an A+ donut. 

Following our donut tour, we went to a distillery tour at Charleston Distilling Co. Living in Virginia, there are a ton of wineries and breweries around and I’ve been on my fair share of tours of them. I’ve yet to go to a distillery though, so this was a neat experience! We learned about how they make rye whiskey, vodka, and gin (did you know gin is actually FLAVORED VODKA???) and sampled a few. 

Wilton House Museum Wedding Photos in Richmond Virginia_0055.jpg

Next, we set out in search of the infamous Rainbow Row that’s pinterest and Instagram famous. I loved the pastel colored houses and the charming architecture in this area! The bright paint colors are just so happy I wish that they would catch on at home so at least when we’re in the depressing throes of winter we’d have something cheerful to look at! 

We also stopped by the pineapple fountain at Waterfront park, since it’s in walking distance from Rainbow Row. 

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

After walking around quite a bit, we stopped at Pearlz for a bite to eat and a glass of champagne. We shared some oysters on the half shell, pork rinds, and corn fritters. The oysters were good, but I was underwhelmed by the corn fritters and pork rinds. The corn fritters were pretty bland and the pork rinds tasted like they came from a bag. 

It could be I'm just spoiled by the amazing homemade pork rinds back in Richmond at the Roosevelt. I think Richmond is gonna be the next Charleston, guys. At least foodie wise!

A lot of people highly recommend Folly Beach, so we drove out to check it out around sunset. There were SO MANY SHELLS. And rocks! I’m imagining that’s because hurricane Matthew rolled through only a week prior. I can’t wait to see my film photos from Folly beach because it was just so pretty! 

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

Instead of a full on dinner, we decided to go to two bars and have some snacks and drinks. Our first stop for the evening was the Gin Joint. The most unique thing about the Gin Joint is that you can order a drink based on two adjectives listed in their menu and the bartender will create something special for you! I chose fizzy and floral. I’d like to go back at some point and choose another combination…maybe tart and unusual? Or herbal and fruit?

We split a ricotta stuffed meatball and pretzels and then headed to the rooftop bar at Vendue hotel, where we met a couple who had just gotten married and were on their honeymoon and were treated to two rounds of salted pretzel shots (who knew that was a thing??) by the bartender. Totally made for a fun evening and a neat story to remember when looking back on the trip. We meant to eat something else, but being that it was late Monday night and lots of things were closed early, I ended my evening with Doritos from the hotel vending machine. (Typical Katie Nesbitt).

If you’re wondering where we stayed, we had a room at the Hampton Inn in Mount Pleasant, just over the bridge. I’m a Hilton Honors member (what, what!) and I earn points every time I stay, which during wedding season is pretty frequently. I had enough points for us to stay for three nights for FREE in Mount Pleasant, so it worked out really well for us to make that our home base. It wasn’t too far away that it felt like a hassle to go “home” and it was a lot cheaper than staying downtown. 

That concludes the first part of our trip! When I return with part two of our adventure, I'll be recapping the trip to Boone Hall Plantation (where the Notebook was filmed!) and several more food pit stops. We hit THIRTEEN places from Sunday night to Wednesday morning, so you’ll definitely want to stick around to hear about Tuesday/Wednesday! 

23andMe Ancestry & DNA test Review

I can’t start this post without sharing a little bit of back story on me. I’m adopted, if you didn’t already know, and I have very little information on my biological family. I have been interested in finding more about my heritage and my history for a while, but there isn’t much information out there on most Korean adoptees. There’s much more of a stigma against unwed/single mothers in Korea and it’s often a big source of shame for Korean women, so a lot of the information I do have is not reliable because some of it may or may not be straight up made up stuff.

(You can read a little bit more back story here if you’re interested and/or bored.)

I’ve been interested in doing a DNA test through 23andMe for a while. A few companies have these DNA tests now, but to my knowledge, 23andMe is one of the only ones that actually test for some medical things too, not just ancestry. I went into the test thinking, oh, I don’t really need the ancestry part anyway….I mean, I’m Korean, that’s pretty much it. 

The actual process of doing the test is super easy. You order it online (it’s $200, so a bit of an investment…), wait for it to come into the mail, then you spit into the little canister provided and ship it back. I can’t say that I ever thought I would be doing a mail order DNA test

It took about a month from when I got the “Sample received” email until I got word that my results were ready. They’d advertised it as taking about 6-8 weeks, so I appreciated that they got it done even sooner! I love companies that practice the whole “Under promise, over deliver” thing! 

The results are broken down into four categories: Ancestry, Carrier Status, Wellness, and Traits. The most surprising thing about mine was that I’m not 100 percent Korean like I initially thought. I’m not even 80 percent Korean! I’m only 47 percent Korean! And it turns out that I’m also almost 1/3 Japanese. This was a huge revelation that I wasn’t really expecting. That much Japanese in my DNA means that I most likely have at least one grandparent who is fully Japanese! Learning that gave me a lot more questions to ask about my family history, but it also helped paint a slightly clearer picture of where I might have come from.

The Carrier Status portion of the report is worth doing the test in itself, especially if you have plans on starting a family one day. They look for variants of genes that show you could be a carrier of 41 different diseases including some I’ve heard of, like Cystic Fibrosis, and a lot I haven’t, like Maple Syrup Urine Disease (yes, that’s a real thing…I’m not joking!). Luckily, I’m not a carrier of any of these things, but it’s good information to have!

The Traits section was really fascinating, but also really fun to look at. They included things like whether or not you are genetically likely to be able to taste bitter things (I’m more likely to not be able to), skin pigmentation, newborn hair amount, etc. 

I also found the Wellness portion to be neat. I think this was one of my favorite parts because it confirmed a lot of things I’ve always known about myself, like that I have a very low tolerance for caffeine, that I do not have the dreaded Asian flush (from drinking alcohol), and that I’m not a very deep sleeper. Two of the more interesting results were that I’m genetically likely to stay the same weight whether or not I eat high or low amounts of saturated fats (which probably explains why I can eat so many processed foods and stay mostly the same) and that my fast twitch muscle fibers have the protein that makes me more likely to be a sprinter than an endurance athlete! The second one really surprised me, but at the same time, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Yes, I ran a marathon and prefer to run longer distances more slowly than going on fast, short runs, BUT when it comes to lifting weights and lots of other exercises, I excel more at lower reps of heavier weights as opposed to endurance workouts with higher reps at lower weight. It was really cool to learn that there’s a reason I hate high rep workouts and it’s just how I was made!

Another thing you can see with your results is if you inherited certain things from your parents. That was really cool to me, for obvious reasons. 

The hardest part about how difficult it is to research my past is that a lot of my questions about my heritage will never have answers. I think doing the DNA test was helpful for me in that it helps to piece together more of a picture of where I might have come from, but at the same time, it gives me a few more questions that may go unanswered for a long time, if not forever. All in all, I am really glad I did this DNA test and I think it was well worth the investment. It would be really interesting and neat for anyone to look at their results, but I would highly recommend doing this if you’re like me and you are adopted and can’t, or don’t want to find your biological family. It’s so neat to be able to learn these things about yourself! 

Wintergreen, VA Spartan Sprint Recap

This past weekend I ran my very first Spartan Race, a Spartan Sprint, in Wintergreen, Virginia! I left Wintergreen on a high and am still super pumped to be able to say I've done a Spartan Race! It's funny that I'm so excited about it because a couple years ago I would have only been competing as a professional donut eater (I can eat at least a dozen hot Krispy Kremes at once).  I seriously have no idea when I became someone who genuinely enjoys working out, much less someone who pays HARD EARNED MONEY to jump into mud wearing expensive workout clothes (can we talk about that later?), but this is apparently part of who I am now. 

Me and my Spartan buddy Cheryl before the race started. Notice how clean we look??

Me and my Spartan buddy Cheryl before the race started. Notice how clean we look??

When I wrote my big 30 Before 30, I decided I wanted to add an obstacle course race. It worked out really well that the Spartan Sprint happened to fall on a day that I wasn’t already working AND a friend from class was already signed up. I work a lot of weekends this time of year, so it is VERY rare that something like this is at all feasible for me! Even though I was able to physically make it to the race, it was still kind of a stretch since I had a wedding all the way across the state until 11pm the night before. I'll admit that I might not have been at my best Sunday morning. I raced on very little sleep, a lot of adrenaline, a chugged can of Red Bull, and many, many Clif energy chews. (The ones that taste like gushers are DA BOMB, by the way!). I probably won't schedule myself like this for any future races, but at least I know that if I can do it running on fumes, I can do it even better when I'm well rested!

The morning of the race we woke up to a chilly, misty day. It was plenty dreary and just wet enough to make everything slippery and muddy...Like the ropes…but, I’ll get to that later. I'm grateful it wasn't super hot, but it was FREEZING afterward when our bodies started cooling down. 

I’m so glad that the race that I could make was the shorter of the two Wintergreen races because I heard from several people who go to the same obstacle course racing class that I do (you should check it out here if you’re interested!) that the longer race, the Super, was freaking ridiculous. Like almost 9 miles up a mountain both ways ridiculous. Lucky for me (lucky being a relative term here), we only had to trek 4 miles up and down the Blue Ridge mountains. I kept saying “Are these the mountains people SKI DOWN?? And we are climbing UP? Can I get on the ski lift please??". Before the race several people told me "You'll be great at the running part!" because I've run a marathon and several half marathons, but in reality, there was actually very little running. A lot of the course was just way too steep for running, which was fine by me because the climbing felt like an obstacle in and of itself! 

So, getting to the obstacles. There were 20 of them for our race, the Spartan Sprint. My favorites were the Herc Hoist, the walls (the taller of which we helped each other over), and some of the climbing ones, even though they were pretty scary if you are scared of heights like me and also scared of potentially breaking your neck. 

The bad: I failed at five obstacles.  The good: I only failed at five obstacles. 

Let's start with the bad. No one loves talking about their failures, but I think they are a pretty big part of the Spartan Race since you have to do 30 burpees to pass any obstacle you miss. So, unless you really love doing burpees for some reason, you're going to try as hard as you can to avoid doing them in the wet, rocky mud. Going into the race I knew I was probably going to fail on at least a couple things, especially the spear throw. No real surprise there since I have very little hand/eye coordination! I also failed a couple of obstacles that were difficult for me because I have shorter arms and legs and am not what you would call a gymnast. The worst one though, was the rope climb. I was SO close and I think if it had been another day and it maybe wasn’t so slippery and I had a couple hours more sleep, I could have gotten it. At least, that’s what I like to think. 

I got 2/3rds-ish up the rope and my arms just couldn't pull anymore. I let go and burst into tears. I was then mad at myself for failing AND mad at myself for being a cry-baby! I said later "I WASTED SO MUCH SALT BY CRYING AND THAT'S WHY I HAVE CRAMPS NOW." Pro tip: tears contain much needed sodium, so keep that shit on lock! 

I think I cried when I failed at the rope because that was the one I wanted to hit so badly. I knew I wasn't going to hit the spear throw or the monkey bars, but I really had a shot at the rope. I was angry with myself for giving up and for not being strong enough to make it. Sometimes it’s hard to know when you really gave all you had or if you should have pushed just a little bit more and this was one of those situations. I tend to doubt myself, so was I capable of doing it, or not? In the coming months I plan to practice climbing ropes more and really pushing myself beyond my limits as much as I can in my workouts so that I'm ready to do it next time. I've already decided I'll do another Spartan Race if only just to conquer that freaking rope. 

The good about failing 5 obstacles? Even just a year ago, doing a Spartan Race at all would have been such a stretch for me. This was one of the hardest things I've ever put myself through physically. Five obstacles out of 20 isn't too bad when you consider that. I think the Spartan Sprint (at least the Wintergreen one) was HARDER than either of the two half marathons I've run. I've never sweat so much, cramped so much, or cursed so much as I did on Sunday on that mountain. But, although this race was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, it was also something I’ll look back on fondly for a long time. Yes, the course was challenging and a lot more taxing than I thought it would be, but it was also so beautiful! Climbing to the tops of those mountains reminded me how amazing Virginia is and how lucky we are to live here. I also realized that as tough as the race was, I was so glad to be doing it because otherwise, I wouldn’t have been on the mountain that day experiencing how beautiful it all really was! I might have been at home watching Flip or Flop instead, and really, you can watch Flip or Flop anytime. It’s not every day you can climb mountains.

My best tip if you're looking to do a Spartan Race is to make sure you do it with a friend. This experience was so much fun because of my friend Cheryl! It would have been so terrible to do it by myself, so I'm so glad I got to do it with her! I would also highly suggest loading your body with electrolytes and sodium the day before. Cramps were an issue because of all of the up and downhill climbing. 


All in all, I'm so glad that I got the opportunity to run this race and experience such a fun day. I'm really looking forward to working hard to improve on the things I failed on this year to be even better next time! Thanks for reading my little recap of the race!