Sick. Plus, Best of the Web!

November 19, 2011

Not feeling the greatest today. I have a headache and a killer sore throat. It hurts to swallow. This is day 2 of not feeling well – I made yesterday a rest day (exercise-wise) and took the term “rest day” to heart, taking a nice long mid-day nap. I’m loaded up on Zicam (generic) and Naproxen (name-brand) and I don’t feel much like blogging. So I’m not going to.

BUT, check this out! Keep It Up, David has been named Best of the Web!, an online shopping website, has a weekly round-up of the best sites out there, and this week, I’m on the list. Woo-hoo! Check it out here. Also check out their sporting goods blog, Be In The Game. Thanks for the honor, folks at!

Hope all of you have a great weekend – and hope you’re feeling better than I am! It’s hard when I’m sick, but I still gotta…

…Keep it up, David!


Fancy-Pants Slaw

November 17, 2011

This may be hard to believe, since I’ve written so much about it over the past few days, but that 10K I ran on Sunday morning wasn’t my only weekend activity. On Saturday night (the night before the big race), I was invited to a potluck, and you know me… I love an excuse to try out or create a new recipe.

I decided to bring a salad. I’m good at salads, and my Saturday before the potluck was kinda packed, so it was something that could come together relatively quickly, and I wouldn’t have to worry about it staying hot. I found an idea for a dressing and another element that sounded good in The Farm to Table Cookbook (which I modified, naturally), but the salad they recommended serving it on sounded kinda blah. And since cole slaw seems like a very potlucky-type dish, I decided that was the way to go.

This dish has a really long name. Are you ready? Here’s how I made my…

Cabbage & Apple Slaw, with Balsamic-Soaked Currants, Toasted Pecans, and Sweet Ginger Curry Dressing.

Whew, that title is a mouthful!  This recipe makes a lot of salad, so you may want to consider halving it before you commit to buying ingredients.

Preparations began on Friday night. First thing on the to-do list: Balsamic-Soaked Currants. Currants are a variety of small raisins that date back to ancient Greece. They look like raisins and taste like raisins, but they’re called currants so stores can charge more for them (just a guess). I’ve had currants in scones and granola and other baked goods, but this may have been the first time I’ve bought them:

See? I told you they look like raisins. I put about a cup of them in an airtight container, and added enough balsamic vinegar until they were covered:

I let them sit in the fridge overnight, but all they really need is an hour or to. There! Balsamic-soaked currants… done.

I also made the dressing on Friday night. I pulled out my blender, and started with the first ingredient: a Granny Smith apple:

Hmmm… maybe I should peel, core, and chop that apple, huh?

Much better. That’s two cups of apple, which actually turned out to be one and a half Granny Smiths. Then I added all sorts of good stuff:

  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar would be good too)

The Farm to Table recipe called for 1/2 cup of oil, but there’s no way I was adding that much oil, so I modified it, and added 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 more tablespoons vinegar, and 1/4 water. Blend it until it’s smooth, and you end up with:

It’s the curry that gives it the fantastic color!

The last thing I did on Friday night was toast some pecans. I forgot to take pictures, but I threw about 2 cups of pecan halves in a 10″ skillet (no need for oil, butter, or spray of any kind), and put them on medium-low heat for about 5-7 minutes. You know they’re done when you can smell ’em! And they smell great!

On Saturday, all I had to do was assemble the salad, which involved a lot of chopping. First item on the cutting board: cabbage:

That’s a savoy cabbage, which has leaves that are more wrinkly than regular green cabbage. I removed and tossed the outer-most leaves, chopped it in half, cut out the thick core, and chopped it up:

The entire cabbage went in the bowl. I wanted a little color and variety, so I also added 1/2 of a red cabbage:

Then, about 6 or 7 stalks of celery, chopped:

And half of a red onion, sliced. A little onion goes a long way:

Next up, more apple. I wanted to buy Braeburn, because I’ve read that they’re the most resistant to browning, and I thought I bought Braeburn, but when I got home from the store, it turned out they were Honeycrisp. I guess I wasn’t paying attention to the signs in the produce section. Or maybe they were mislabeled. Either way, Honeycrisps are great apples – firm and crunchy and sweet – so I chopped 5 of them. I left the skins on, to add color.

Time for the finishing touches! I pulled out the currants, which had been soaking up the balsamic all night, and started scooping them out with a slotted spoon:

These are pungent little fellows! Sweet, with a balsamic kick – very tasty. I put about half of them in the bowl, along with half of the pecans. I added the dressing…

…and tossed it all together. Then, I sprinkled the other half of the currants and pecans on top, to make it purdy. Wanna see the final result?


I added a sign so everyone knew what they were getting into:

That’s painters’ tape, so the bowl doesn’t get damaged.

The potluck was a lot of fun. I met a lot of new people, and I think the slaw was a hit. People seemed to be eating it!

I bought too much cabbage, though, and there’s still 1/2 of a red cabbage and an entire second savoy cabbage in my fridge. Another slaw may be in my future…

Keep it up, David!

Burpee Update, Chart Update

November 16, 2011

Two different updates today.

1) Burpees Update. Remember when I committed to the No Excuses 30-Day Burpees Challenge? It’s a workout challenge hatched by Scott over at Your Inner Skinny where you do burpees every single day for a month, adding one burpee each day. I was feeling a bit in a rut when the challenge began, and even though I hate burpees, I made the commitment as a way to push myself into doing something new.

Tomorrow would have been my 30th day, but I’ll cut to the chase: I abandoned the challenge a long time ago. I dropped it like a prom dress. In the end, my dislike of burpees won out, and after missing a couple days of burpees, I couldn’t rally to get back on the burpee train. The 10K didn’t help, either, as it was a workout goal that really excited me, so I had no problem focusing on that and letting the burpees slide.

I did complete 14 days of burpees before pulling the plug, and I had worked my way up to 28 burpees on that 14th day. Add in the 4 days of practice burpees before the challenge actually began, and I completed 361 burpees. I can be proud of that, and proud that I’m man enough to share my shortcomings, even if I’m not proud of my quitting.

I’m also a little worried that Scott, once he reads this, is gonna emerge from his northern Canadian igloo, strap on his snowshoes, and find his way down to Los Angeles to kick my ass. And he totally could – that guy is jacked. Better sleep with one eye open.

2) Chart Update. Stepped on the scale yesterday, and I liked what I saw. Here’s the update on my weight loss chart:

Down 1 pound! Not to sound like a snot, but I should hope so. I worked my ass off last week, pushing myself while training for my 10K, and then actually running that 10K. What I’m most happy about is that I’ve turned around my recent slow gain:

I’ve lost 1 of the 5 pounds I gained over the 6 weeks. Four more to go! A weight of 236 puts my total weight loss at 166 pounds. A couple more weight loss chart shots, because I know you love ’em (and so do I):

Keep it up, David!

TOMORROW: My recipe for a healthy, delicious fall salad!

10K Follow-Up AND My Next Race!

November 15, 2011

It’s Monday evening as I write this and my legs are still sore from Sunday’s 10K race. I love feeling sore – it means I did something right – and I’m still on a high from the race, so I don’t mind being reminded of it with literally every step.

The soreness didn’t stop me from hitting the gym – I’m not exactly sure what laurels are (some sort of tree/leaf?) but I’ll be damned if I’m going to rest on them. There was 5 minutes of warming-up on the treadmill, then a half-hour of weightlifting (emphasis on upper body, because I didn’t want my legs to collapse under me). I would have gone another 10 minutes on a few other machines, but I bonked my head nice and hard on a pull-down bar, cursed a little, got annoyed, and decided to move on. So I finished with 17  strong, but not excruciating minutes on a stationary bike while I flipped through an issue of Time magazine that had a great article on the new Muppets Movie, which I can’t wait to see.

There’s some follow-up information on the 10K that I’m excited to share. We all ran with microchips attached to our shoes, and today, the data from those chips were uploaded to the internet, so I have my official race results. And it’s one of the reasons I’m still on this high.  So, without further ado:

David’s Official Results From the weSPARK 3rd Annual 10K Run & 5K Run/Walk, 11/13/11:

  • Total Time: 59:06.5
  • First 5K: 28.29
  • Second 5K: 30:36
  • Pace (my average time for each mile): 9:32
  • Place: 129th out of 432 runners.
  • Place in my Age Group (Men 30-34): 18th out of 28 runners.
  • Number of other runners with the last name Garcia in the 5K and 10K races, all of whom are unrelated to me: 8.

Two thoughts:

  1. My pace only slowed by about two minutes between the first lap and the second, which I’m very proud of. The second lap seemed, at the time, to go much slower for me, because I was tired and the runners were more spread out, but I kept up my pace pretty well!
  2. 129th out of 432 runners? HOLY CRAP, I finished in the top third!


I was also hoping to share more pictures on today’s post. The race organizers peppered the course with photographers who were snapping away with their high-powered zoom lenses like paparazzi, and the pictures were supposed to be uploaded today, but it hasn’t happened yet. I don’t know if they got any good ones of me (thankfully there were no photographers around during my ugly cry at kilometer 6), but my fingers are crossed for a decent action shot or two. Stay tuned.

One of the questions that’s been tossed my way a ton of times in person, in blog comments, in tweets and in Facebook posts has been: “What are you going to do next? You should do a half-marathon!” or “You should do a marathon!” My answer has been some variation on “I don’t know yet. I’ve been busy focusing on this 10K.” Time to come clean – that’s a lie. 

I do know what race I’m doing next, and it’s coming up quickly. I’m going to my sister Sarah’s place in Colorado next week for Thanksgiving, as I’ve done for the past 7 or 8 years, and last week, Sarah signed me, herself, and our other sister Laura up for a race: the Louisville, Colorado Turkey Trot 5K.

It’s the morning of Thanksgiving Day, and it’s pretty close to Sarah’s house. I don’t know the route (yet), but it shouldn’t be nearly as hilly as the Universal Studios route, as, generally speaking, that part of the world is pretty flat. I’m looking forward to running it with family, and having a good workout on Thanksgiving is a great idea. I hope all of you find a way to move before tucking into the turkey!

As for longer races, whether they’re half-marathons or full marathons… well, I don’t know what my next running goal will be. Even with a successful 10K under my belt, the thought of running more than twice that distance seems terribly daunting, and that’s just a half-marathon! A race like that would require some very dedicated training, and right now, I can’t commit to running more than once or twice a week (even that can seem excessive sometimes), because variety in exercise plays a huge role is helping me not get bored or lazy.

I’m not going to flat-out say I’ll never run a longer race, but at the moment, I’m not actively searching for my next challenge. I’ll keep my eye on upcoming races, and I’ll keep an open mind, and we’ll see what happens.

Keep it up, David!

RECAP: My First 10K!

November 14, 2011

On November 13, 2011, I ran weSPARK’s 3rd Annual 10K Run & 5K Run/Walk. Here’s what went down.

My Sunday got off to a bad start. When my alarm rang at 5:30am, I swung my arm to my nightstand, in a blind attempt to shut it off, and knocked over my lamp, which fell and shattered. I couldn’t care less about the lamp, which was a $10 Ikea number that I’d had for 10 years and didn’t match the rest of my room; I was happy to have a reason to get rid of it. But I wondered if a carpet full of glass was a sign of things to come. I had set my alarm for that ungodly hour so I could run in my first 10K race, and if things were going to continue to break today, then what would be next? My spirit? A bone?

I successfully got the lamp out of my mind by the time I pulled into Universal Studios. There was an energy in the air from the second I got out of the car that got my heart beating a little faster. I followed the crowd away from the theme park and Citywalk shopping center entrances, and around to the backlots. I met up with my friends Amy and Tiffany, who were also running the 10K. We headed up to the start, did some stretching and took some photos:

That’s Amy on the left and Tiffany on the right. Check out all the racers, getting ready to run:

One of the telltale signs that I’m nervous is a tightening in my core, which makes me feel like I have to go to the bathroom despite having an empty bladder, and about 10 minutes before the race began, I started feeling that tightening. I couldn’t pinpoint what I was nervous about. I was excited to be there, confident in my abilities, and been given considerable thought and effort into preparing and training for this. I suppose I just nervous for the unexpected: I had never run with more than a couple people before, and here I was, in a crowd of hundreds. I focused on my goal, which was to finish, without stopping.

The actual start of the race was wonderfully unceremonial. We were all milling around, and, rather abruptly, Wayne Brady (host of Let’s Make a Deal) appeared with a foghorn and, 3 seconds later, we were off. Amy snapped a picture of Wayne:

As I started running, the first thing I noticed, and immediately loved, was being in the middle of a thunderous symphony of shoes hitting pavement, the soft thuds echoing all around me. Minutes later, I was reminded of why I picked this race to begin with: the course was So. Freakin’. Cool. We ran through all sorts of movie sets and fake towns and villages – new surprises literally around every corner. I have some pictures of what we ran past, and if you’re curious about why they’re all mysteriously devoid of runners, it’s because I took them earlier in the week, when I was scoping the course out with my friend Chris.

The first kilometer was down a big hill, and then we ran around Jaws Lake, home to the mechanical shark that leaps out at unsuspecting tourists on the tram. The soundtrack to the attraction was on, so there were was ominous music, clanging buoys, and the crackle of a Deputy saying, over walkie-talkie, that there’s no sign of the shark:

We ran through Courthouse Square, the small town set that was Hill Valley in the Back to the Future movies…

…and through the Amblin Entertainment complex, where the Crosswalk sign features E.T. (photo taken by Amy)…

Then after a straightaway along the Los Angeles River, we circled around through Spartacus Square (which looks like an ancient Roman plaza, and had an actor dressed as Spartacus cheering us on), up along a vaguely eastern European cobblestone street (where a guy dressed as Frankenstein urged us on; I gave him a high-five), and up to Wisteria Lane, home to Desperate Housewives (sorry, primetime soap fans, that I didn’t get a picture).

From there, we started up the big hill, detouring to pass by the sets from How the Grinch Stole Christmas (which were about to get their Christmas decorations)…

…the Bates motel from Psycho, with the house looking over it (and an actor playing Norman Bates, loading corpses into the trunk of a car)…

…and, finally, the plane crash wreckage from War of the Worlds:

From there, it wasn’t long until we were back where we started, which marked 5K – halfway done! Time to do it all over again!

Time for a confession: It was around the 6K mark that I started crying. The crowd had thinned out significantly: I’m not sure when I got separated from Amy and Tiffany, but they were somewhere behind me, all the 5K runners were finished, and the 10K runners were more spaced out. I found myself heading down Mexican street, and for a little while, I was alone. Couldn’t see anyone ahead of me, couldn’t hear anyone behind me. The thunderous symphony of feet was gone – just the sound of my own two sneakers hitting the ground, over and over again.

It was there that it hit me: I’M RUNNING TEN KILOMETERS, AND I’M MORE THAN HALFWAY DONE, AND I WILL NOT STOP! I thought about how this was not a lifelong dream. In fact, it was the opposite – up until very recently, running a 10k was, simply put, an impossibility. Never would I have had the courage, confidence, or the physical ability to even consider attempting such an event. What my weight loss has done for me is bust down the walls of what’s possible in my life, shattered the ceiling of what I can achieve, and allowed me to dream in ways never before fathomable. As I realized that, on Mexican street, the waterworks began. My eyes swelled up, and tears streamed down my cheeks. My already-heavy breathing transformed into wheezing sobs. My shoulders convulsed.

I embraced the epiphany for about 50 feet, then pulled myself together. I knew that around the next corner was a water station, and I didn’t want the volunteers to think I was injured. Also, as it turns out, it’s hard to run and cry. I don’t recommend it.

The last kilometer or so was all uphill, and I was ready for it. I settled into my pace, kept up my breathing, and I ran. My thighs ached. I was exhausted. And there was no way in hell that I was gonna stop. I started noticing that I was passing runners that I would have guessed, based on sight alone, were much more experienced and in shape that I was. There were runners that passed me long ago that were now walking, and secretly relished every time I passed one of them. When I got to the top of the hill, there was a flat final 100 yards before the finish line. I didn’t think I had anything left in me, but I found something, somewhere, and with 50 yards left, I broke out into a sprint. I passed a woman who cheered me on: “Finish strong!” I turned the final corner, saw the finish line approach, and noticed a clock ticking off the seconds. It hit 59:15 as I crossed the line.


I hadn’t thought at all about any time-related goals, but HOLY SHIT! I finished this 10K in UNDER AN HOUR! Here I am with my finisher’s medal…

…and the after photo with Tiffany and Amy, who finished a little while after me:

About a minute after I finished, I saw my friend Austin cross the finish line, which was a pleasant surprise, since I didn’t know he would be there. Another friend, Carrie, soon emerged from the crowd, and it was fun to catch up with them. My friend Jen was also there, walking the 5K, and seeing supportive, familiar faces made the day even better.

It was around 9:30 when I headed for home. My legs were still burning, and my clothes were still damp from my sweat, but those minor inconveniences didn’t register, because I wouldn’t let them. There was nothing that would detract from the indescribable, incalculable, unmistakable pride that this morning brought.

I did it. I completed my first race. I didn’t complain. I didn’t whine. I didn’t stop. And my bedroom lamp was the only thing that broke all day long.

Does anyone have a megaphone? Because all I’ve wanted to do, for the past 12 hours, is climb up on roofs and mountaintops and scream, with everything I’ve got…

Simple Kale Saute

November 12, 2011

Can I start with a few quickies? Thanks!

1) Thank You! Lots of gratitude to all the generous folks who opened their wallets and purses and contributed to my 10k fundraising. My friend Felise’s donation brought me to the magic number – $500 – but you can still give, so click here! All the money goes to weSPARK, which supports cancer patients and their families in the Los Angeles area.

2) Training is Complete. I’m writing this on Friday evening, and it’s official: my training for the aforementioned 10K is now complete! The race is Sunday morning, and Saturday will be a rest day. Today, I hit the gym, did 5 minutes of cardio warm-up, then 30 minutes of weights, and then I hit the streets again (mountain lions and bears be damned) for my final hill-training run. I stuck to the same hilly part of Burbank that I ran in the other day, but this time, I drove up and parked at the top of the hill, so my run would better replicate the route on Sunday, which involves running down a big hill first, and then running up it. In total, I went 2.1 miles in 23 minutes, and the uphill portion was .9 miles – whew! (Yep, I updated my running chart!) The next time I exercise, it will be at the race. Can’t wait! Oh, and I’ll probably be too beat to post on Sunday, so look for the race recap on Monday!

Onto the main event!

In the spring I went on a little kale kick. Kale was relatively new to me, and I fell in love with kale chips (which I talked about in this post and this post), and also created a pretty tasty kale and asparagus salad, too.

I haven’t eaten much kale since that kick wound down, but I picked some up recently, and thought I’d share my simple kale saute recipe. It’s based on Bobby Flay’s recipe, but with a modification or two.

Get a big skillet, spray it with some nonstick spray, put it on medium heat, and toss in half of a red onion, chopped, and 2 minced garlic cloves:

Let them cook for a few minutes, until the onion starts to get soft. Meanwhile, I hope your kale is already prepped! If you have a bunch of kale, clean it and dry it, and cut out the major ribs and stems. Or, save yourself the trouble, and buy a bag of pre-washed, pre-chopped kale, like I did:

This brand includes a little bit of shredded cabbage and carrot, but I don’t mind. I threw in 1/2 the bag – about 4 ounces – and then added about 1/2 cup of water:

I gave it a stir, so all the kale got a little wet, and then covered it. Since I wasn’t thinking and used a skillet that I don’t have a lid for, I used a baking sheet. Martha Stewart would be appalled, so don’t tell her. Pretty please.

The lid keeps the moisture in, so the kale will both saute and steam – which reduces your cooking time! In about five minutes, the kale will be done. Just like spinach, kale wilts down to barely anything, but what’s left is delicious. Transfer it to a bowl, and hit it with a few tablespoons of vinegar (I used balsamic). The finished product:

Healthy, easy, delicious. It’s a triple threat!

Keep it up, David!

Wildlife! Plus: A New Variety of Apple?

November 11, 2011

Yesterday, I narrowly avoided being attacked by both a mountain lion and a bear.

OK, OK, I may be, um… stretching the truth a little bit, but lately, the Burbank hills are alive. And not just with the sound of music.

Yesterday’s post went into detail about my run through the foothills of Burbank, which was my old stomping ground before I moved to North Hollywood almost five years ago. It was a fantastic run. And, it turns out, I might not have been alone as I jogged those hillside streets. I heard on the radio a few hours after my run that 24 hours before I pounded the pavement, a mountain lion (!) was seen, in broad daylight, gallivanting across someone’s lawn mere blocks from where I ran. Mountain lions aren’t rare in southern California, but seeing one sauntering about in the middle of the afternoon is, since they’re nocturnal and tend to keep their distance from humans. Here’s an article about the lion’s midday stroll, which includes tips on how to avoid being a mountain lion’s lunch, like this one: “Do not hike, bike, or jog alone.” Gulp! Guilty as charged, Officer!

I’m not going to let one dumb mountain lion prevent me from training for my 10k on Sunday. If I stop running, than the mountain lion wins. Plus, I’ve already conquered mountain lions – check out this post that equates my weight loss to a mountain lion (and other random objects).

The mountain lion wasn’t the only massive mammal meandering for a meal yesterday. Roughly 12 hours after I completed my run, a 500-pound black bear was seen moseying through a neighborhood in neighboring Glendale. Read the article here, which includes a photo of the beast traipsing through someone’s garden!

What if I had run into both the black bear and the mountain lion, and they fought over which one got to kill and eat me? SyFy Channel, I think I just came up with your next original movie project! “Giant Bear Vs. Mega-Mountain Lion”! You’re welcome.

I’ve seen a few wild animals in my day. When I lived in Burbank, I saw, on two different occasions, coyotes in my neighborhood. The first time I saw one, I thought it was a stray dog, and spent 15 minutes following it, trying to coax it towards me, and got within 10 feet of it before realizing it probably wasn’t someone’s lost Fido. A year later, I saw a coyote on the other side of the street, and it knew pedestrian etiquette! It used the sidewalks, looked both ways at an intersection, and stayed in the crosswalk when it crossed. Smart coyote!

I’ve also come across a bear in the wild. Four years ago, my entire family took an Alaskan cruise, and at one of the ports, my siblings and I all went hiking around a glacier. While we were on the hike, we saw a baby bear up in a tree. It was probably 20-25 yards away, and our guide advised us to stay quiet, as the mama bear was probably nearby. I did snap this picture, although the bear’s head is obscured by some leaves:


Another quick memory: I remember being really nervous in the days leading up to the hike, worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete it. I was so much heavier back then, and not very active, and the brochure had described the hike as being “intermediate” in difficulty, and around 2 hours long. I had these thoughts that I’d be panting and wheezing, and holding up the group, but I made it, and it was really fun. Here’s what I looked like on that hike – I was in a head-shaving phase:

The paved sidewalk was only around the visitors’ center – the hike itself was on dirt trails that wound up the mountainside, with the occasional hop over a fallen tree.


Yesterday’s activities included a trip to the store, which resulted in me buying the following produce:

What do we have? From left to right: A pineapple, bananas, a red onion, apples, baby carrots, red peppers, grapes, cucumbers, pears, and celery.

I’m relatively knowledgeable about apples. I’m familiar with most of the varieties you see at stores, and know which ones I like most (honeycrisp and pink lady, I’m looking at you). But these apples are a variety I’ve never heard of before: they’re Pippin apples!

Before now, the only association I had with the word Pippin was that it’s the name of a fun musical from the ’70s that I saw in college. Apparently, it’s a type of apple, too! More Pippin info to come!

I also bought something else I’ve never seen before:

Pickled green tomatoes! I may have tried fried green tomatoes once at a restaurant, but I’ve never seen them, fresh or jarred, in a store before. Guess how many calories are in a serving of these pickled green tomatoes? Three. That’s got to be a typo, don’t you think? Maybe they meant 30? Oh, and if there’s any Southerners out there who have suggestions on how to eat these guys, speak up in the comments section! I haven’t cracked open the jar yet, and I’ll wait and see what ideas you guys send my way. Do I enjoy them straight out of the jar, like pickles? Put them in a sandwich? Cook with them?

Lastly, my orange-peeling challenge continues. To recap, I’m trying to remove the entire peel of an orange in one piece (a skill my father excels at), and keep that peel as narrow as possible, and leave as little pith on the orange as possible, too. Here’s my most recent attempt:

Woo-hoo, that peel is in 1 piece! My most successful peel-job so far! I’m still gonna work on making the peel narrower and longer – I think I may have to sharpen my knife so there’s less sawing on my end.

Keep it up, David!