Honeymoon Part 2 – Torres Del Paine Circuit

Good morning from another bus!

We left off with our bus ride to Puerto Natales. Puerto Natales is basically the gateway town to Torres del Paine National Park. It’s filled with backpackers and travelers.

It was Friday and we decided to start our trek Sunday so we’d have all day Saturday to prepare and rest. We wandered the town with our backpacks and suitcase in search of a hostel. We ended up staying at Hostel Geminis for two nights and it worked out great.

Friday we converted US dollars to Chilean Pesos and ate an amazing dinner at a little cafe that I need to look up the name later. We had ceviche, salmon, ravioli filled with salmon and a berry cake dessert. It was all delicious. While we were there a photographer was taking photos of the salmon for a magazine and they used the exact salmon we ate for one of the pictures! We need to find that magazine, we’re basically famous! Patagonia is known for its Salmon and Lamb.

After dinner we went to a local beer brewery and restaurant. I think it’s the only beer brewed in Puerto Natales. They had 2 options. A pale and an amber. We had tasters of them both and we both ended up drinking the amber.

Saturday we listened to a talk at Erratic Rock hostel about trekking in Torres del Paine. There are two trek options, the W-trek which has 3 out and back sections forming a W shape or the full circuit which includes the W but also wraps around the back side which they call an O. Initially we planned to do the W-trek for time purposes but they talked us into the whole thing.

The rest of Saturday was spent buying food and necessary supplies for the trip. It was tough preparing backpacking food in another country. We opted for lots of ramen for dinners, found salami and crackers for lunches, oatmeal and cereal for breakfast, and trail mix, cereal bars and peanut butter and dulce de leche (a thing in Patagonia) on pitas for snacks. We really missed Matt’s beef jerky!

As for supplies we forgot a good amount. Water bladders, duct tape, Todd’s chacos, etc. etc. We didn’t end up needing bladders because there was so much water on the trail. We didn’t have to carry any or a filter as you could drink straight from the streams which was amazing!

Saturday dinner and pre- trek carbo loading was pizza and beer! Much better pizza this time!

Sunday we took the 3 hour bus ride to the park and then the Catamaran boat ride to the start of our trek!

The next 6 days and 5 nights we were immersed in the Torres del Paine National Park soaking up all it had to offer. The sun came out at around 5:30 am and went down around 10:30 every night. We had lots of time for walking in the daylight. Because we opted to do the full circuit, we had to kick it in overdrive to get done in time. Typically they say to do the circuit in 8 or 9 days, we ended up with 6.

If you google ‘best treks’ in the world, Torres del Paine will come up. This meant, it was popular and crowded, especially in the W portion. The trail had options for sleeping in huts and eating meals at the huts or traditional camping cooking for yourself but you had to stay and pay for the campsites they had. Everything on the trail was expensive for the most part. Campsites were like $15 per person per night. If you stayed in the huts I think it was $50 per person or something close to that.

Being at the Southern tip of Chile, the weather was crazy! I have never experienced wind like we did in that park! The weather changes very quickly. It will rain every day but not very hard or for very long. We did come across one storm. During that storm we walked for hours in the rain with 50mph winds. I was knocked down at one point by a gust! We made it to camp soaking wet! But for the most part we lucked out with weather!

The trails were pretty well maintained for the most part and very easy to follow. You really didn’t need a map at all. We did come across mud, water crossings, rocky terrain and some dicey ladders and bridges which made it interesting. We have lots of pictures I will share when we get back and can upload them from the camera! We had one pass to navigate. The top was at 1200 meters. The one thing I think they could add to these trails was switchbacks! There were plenty of steep sections.

The scenery was unreal. We walked through fields of daisies, forests with moss covered trees, alongside glaciers and lakes and up and down mountains. It was nothing short of beautiful! My favorite views were the Torres at one of the W legs and then the view at the top of the pass looking out at Glacier Grey.

After 6 days of around 9 hrs of hiking, we were exhausted and my feet had seen better days.

Christmas Day was spent hiking the Gardner Pass, enjoying amazing views of the glacier and eating ramen and chatting with new friends. It was weird not to be with family. We missed you all and wish you were with us but we do know there will be many more holidays to come!

From now till the 31st, we will be in El Calafate and El Chalten. We will explore Glaciar National Park and Mt. Fitz Roy and do some trekking on the Perito Moreno glacier. Hiking will be minimal until these blisters heal! We splurged a little on a couple hotels as we are ready for a comfy bed and some honeymoon luxury!

Last night we both had massages and ate at La Zaina in El Calafate. We had some amazing braised lamb and a salmon salad capping the night with an ice cream cone that hit the spot.

Now we are off to El Chalten.

Hope all is well at home!


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Honeymoon Part 1

Hello from a bus in Chile!

We are almost done with a bus ride from El Calafate Argentina to Puerto Natales Chile. At the moment we are waiting our turn at the Chile border.

Let’s start from the beginning. Tuesday we flew from Pittsburgh to Miami and then to Buenos Aires. It was uneventful as it should be. We landed in BA at around 9am. We are a couple hours ahead of Pittsburgh now. From the airport we found a bus to take us downtown and then a taxi to our hotel. We got there around 1pm I think.

We checked into Five hotel which was a small boutique hotel in the Palermo Viejo neighborhood. The guy at the front desk was very friendly and spoke English which we’ve learned many do. We also learned he worked at Cache Creek casino and lived in Woodland, CA for awhile. If you don’t know, that’s very close to Davis. Small world..

After checking in, showering and changing into shorts and a t-shirt, we headed out to exchange $$ and find lunch.

Argentina is interesting for exchanging US dollars. This is how I understand it.. Argentina has fixed the official exchange rate to about 8.5 pesos to 1 US dollar. Due to the fixing of the rate, their exists a Blue Market where you can get closer to 13 to 1. Dollars are very desirable and there isn’t a way to get them hence why this Blue Market exists. The only problem is it’s technically illegal so it’s best if you know someone. Without knowing someone the other option is Florida St which is a bustling downtown street with lots of people and shops. There are guys all over the place yelling ‘Cambio Cambio’. That means they want your US dollars. This would be where one would partake in this kind of activity. But it’s illegal.. So do at your own risk.

We found a restaurant for lunch that took our US dollars at a 12 to 1 exchange rate which was nice! A pretty good steak lunch to start our trip.

We also had to buy outlet converters as we forgot about that before coming.

Dinner that night was at La Cabrera, a very highly rated steakhouse. We were seated around midnight and the place was packed. I had a Filet that was amazing, Todd had the Rib Eye and we split a bottle of Malbec from Mendoza that our server recommended. It was very good as well. The portions here are huge! We are starting to learn that.

Thursday we woke up bright and early to catch our flight to El Calafate.

Once in El Calafate we took a bus to our hotel El Quijote. The hotel was very nice looking but it was empty, Todd says it gave off a Overlook Hotel from the Shining kind of vibe.

Once we settled we ate lunch at a restaurant nearby called Isabel Disco or something like that. Once again huge portions but delicious! Todd ordered a lamb dish that had a wine broth and some veggies and mushrooms with French fries on top. I ordered a steak that came with fries and sunny side up eggs on top of the fries. This steak was much more fatty.. I may stick with the fillets from now on. :). We really should’ve split Todd’s dish. It would’ve been plenty!

After that meal we napped for a couple of hours.. Apparently we were tired. The rest of the evening we did research as to what was next. Our late dinner consisted of pizza and beer. We ordered the German sausage pizza that I wish I took a picture of. It was cheese, lettuce, hot dog and whole olives with pits. Interesting, and the beer was just ok.

After dinner we walked back to the hotel as we had an early bus ride today. The bus left at 8:30am and it’s now 3:30pm.. Hopefully we are almost to Puerto Natales! :). We stopped twice where everyone had to get off the bus. Once to exit Argentina and then again to enter Chile and check our bags.

Alright, I’m seeing a town! Hope all is well back home. 🙂

Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine up next!

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Weekend Shenanigans!

This post was intended for Monday after last weekend.. But here I am Saturday finishing it up.

I wanted to tell you about last weekend.. So I’m still going to!

Our weekend started Thursday night, kind of. We decided somewhat last minute to head to Cleveland for a Rise Against concert. Rise Against is a punk band we’ve followed for years now. It was awesome to see them in a new city. We stayed at an Airbnb where we left Stella, and Ubered (that is a verb now right?) it to the concert. After the concert we hit up a couple of bars in Ohio City (a community of Cleveland) before heading back to the house. We were up early to head back to Pittsburgh! A quick but fun trip!


Friday I worked, Todd did school stuff. We hung out in Pittsburgh Friday night which was really fun but our plan of going to bed early didn’t work.

Saturday morning we drove to Annapolis to meet our friend Nick and check out the Navy football game. We crashed a 10 year college reunion (kind of – not really). It was awesome.. free food and beer all day.


It was so fun to see the stadium and see some of the Naval Academy traditions.



Sunday we went to brunch and then hit the road back to Pittsburgh. It’s a 4.5 hour drive, but a pretty one!

There are these things called Turnpikes over here .. Like toll roads but expensive and not optional.. At least that I know of. That was a learning experience. On the way back from Cleveland, the Ohio turnpike took the rest of our cash and then 5 minutes later we hit the Pennsylvania turnpike! Luckily I had my checkbook otherwise I’m not sure what would’ve happened…

On the way to Annapolis we bought an EZ Pass, you place it on the windshield, load money on it and then you don’t have to worry about carrying enough cash. For reference, on the way home from Annapolis, the PA turnpike tole was $15.

This is probably normal to so many people.. Just humor me as we are continuously learning. 🙂

All in all fun times seeing more of the East Coast!

We are planning a trip to NYC over Thanksgiving. Thinking Airbnb, Thanksgiving parade, running in Central Park. Any suggestions?

Oh! We booked our flights to Patagonia for December!! Big news! It’s getting real! Now it’s time to plan what we do! So excited!

Hope you’re having a great weekend so far. Todd and I had a little date night out last night. Ate Thai food and then went to see Gone Girl. It’s tough watching a thriller knowing how it ends. (We both read the book). But I think it was entertaining.

Today I ran 7.5 miles training for the Pittsburgh 10-miler. It was somewhat sluggish but I made it out and back before the rain, so that’s a win in my book!

Now I’m doing laundry.. Ugh.

Any exciting weekend happenings??

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Blog Has Moved!

My blog has moved!!

For new posts please check out http://www.ieatneat.com!!

Hope to see you there!



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ieatneat.com & Lessons in Marathon Training

I have some exciting news on the blog front!

www.ieatneat.com is officially mine & I am now blogging on that site. It took awhile to get it set up (thanks Todd) but I think it’s finally there. It may be a little slow at loading but I will work on fixing that!

Please change whatever you use to find my site to www.ieatneat.com! Yay! This is exciting!

(Just my experience – not professional by any means)

A couple weeks ago while counting down for my marathon, I kept thinking of things I’d do different and things I’d learned. I wrote some things down & thought I’d share them with you! Here’s a compilation of what I learned.

** It is not a given that you will lose weight. In fact, you may gain weight! With the amount of calories you burn I’m pretty sure you will be hungrier! Especially if you are a foodie like me!

** When experimenting with food (gels, blocks, sport beans, etc.), use one brand at a time & keep a log starting from the beginning! In order to figure out how your body reacts, you need to be able to figure out what has worked and what hasn’t. I made the mistake of using multiple brands & not knowing when I had what. During my last couple ‘long runs’ I started getting stomach problems late in the run or after the run and I could not target what it was.. Don’t make this same mistake! Next marathon I’m going to write down what I eat on each run and then how I feel after to try and prevent stomach issues come race day.

**Not every run will be a good run, regardless of your training! You will have bad days.. it’s ok! All that matters is getting the miles in. Try not to get too worked up about it. Getting through the tough times is just as important because you never know what will happen on race day!

**Toe nails grow back! … Ok you got me, I did know this.. but I did lose three toe nails since January! Two on the same toe! I think my toes are odd lengths..

**Anything I’ve ever read tells you not to wear something new on race day. I bought my marathon outfit the week of the race.. I’m not recommending this but if you don’t typically have chaffing problems.. it can be done! I did wear the outfit twice for my 3 & 3.5 mile runs.

**Start out running at your typical training pace. After experiencing the end of a marathon, I don’t think it would make it any easier if I ran any slower in the beginning. But definitely don’t start too fast! I think it’s a fine line and unfortunately I really don’t know the answer.

**Enjoy the pain! I hated every mile at the end of my race.. but within hours of completing it, I wanted to try those ones again.. I immediately thought I could do better! Hmm.. this may be part of the appeal?

**For some reason, you will be much more sore after 26.2 miles than 18..20 or even 22 miles! It hurts to sit on the toilet! Check out this you tube video..

Course Highlights:

Course: Running through Petco Park & Balboa Park
Sign: ‘Worst Parade Ever’
Food: Watermelon given by little kids
Band: Don’t remember..
Aid Station: Traveling aid station via Todd! Amazing! =)

Don’t forget to change to http://www.ieatneat.com!

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SD Rock n Roll Marathon Recap

In January of 2008, I decided it was time to make a change. It was time to take better care of the only body I will ever get by eating healthier & exercising.

I have yet to look back.

The past three and a half years have been amazing. Life is amazing. There’s nothing that can stop you from living the life you want!

On August 9th, 2008 I completed my first sprint triathlon.

On March 14th, 2009 I completed my first 10k race.

On October 10th, 2009 I completed my first Olympic distance triathlon.

On January 24th, 2010 I completed my first Half Marathon.

And on June 5th, 2011 I completed my first Marathon!

Sunday I ran 26.2 miles. I ran 26.2 miles in 4 hrs and 16 minutes.

Ever since my taper began I had butterflies in my stomach. I was prepared for the race but had to wait for my body to be ready. Those two weeks were killer but I listened to the more experienced ones and did what I was told. I rested up, ate lots of carbohydrates and just waited.

Finally, race weekend was here. The weekend was ALL ABOUT the Marathon. I ate and slept marathon. I don’t think I did anything that wasn’t going to help me prepare for Sunday!

Saturday we went to the expo at the Convention Center. It was HUGE. It took us a good two hours to get our bibs & walk through all the sponsor booths.

We ate all the samples we could & just enjoyed being there.

Saturday’s weather was beautiful! All I wanted to do was soak up the sun, maybe have a cold cocktail and relax. Unfortunately, this was not in the cards for us. I had more important things to worry about..

We went to Isabel’s Cantina for lunch in Pacific Beach. I ordered the special breakfast sandwich with bacon, chorizo, avocado, and lots of other yummy stuff on it.

After lunch it was time to prep & drink lots of fluids.
*I made a snack cooler for Todd to carry around just in case.
*I made an iEatNeat t-shirt to wear during the race!
*I updated my music on my ipod.
*I got all my gear together for the race & for pre & post
race festivities.

Once I was all ready it was time to head down south for my typical pre-race meal. Todd & I picked up Missi & went to Bronx Pizza for the first time.

I drank a 22oz bottle of Racer 5… out of a paper bag..

..& ate two large slices of pizza

This has been my typical pre-race meal and I think it’s been good for me.  One of these times I may try to go without it. Maybe I will have a better race!?

Todd & I slept at Missi’s house to give us an extra half hour of sleep. That being said, my alarm was set for 3:30am and I was in bed by 10pm. Race morning was there before we knew it.  I had my typical toast with PB & Banana and some more fluids.

Pre-race logistics were a little stressful. With lots of traffic & long lines for the porta-potties (45 min. maybe??), we barely made it to the start line!

Pre race porty-potty line shot with the iphone..

And a group shot in line..

Before I knew it, we were off! I was now running 26.2 miles.. like it or not!

The first 7 miles or so were scenic. We ran through Balboa Park, Hillcrest, the Gaslamp District, through Petco Park and down by SD Bay on Harbor Drive.

We then made it back to the entrance of 163 freeway via Broadway I think. The freeway was a little surreal but the slant of the road was not fun on my legs. They did not like the long incline from miles 6-10 either.

We exited the freeway at about mile 11 or so on Friars Road. Friars had a good amount of spectators & took us down to Morena Blvd area. I found Todd somewhere just before mile 14. He rode the beach cruiser beside me for as long as he could until he was kicked off the course. I liked having him there just in case. The Morena Blvd. portion of the course was boring. We ran back and forth along that road for too long.

At about mile 16 I started hurting which was way too early when I had 10 miles left! My stomach was in knots and stayed that way. I need to figure out how to prevent that! I stopped a couple times to take a couple deep breaths and handed Todd my water belt which helped. It relieved some pressure for a bit. I also stopped to use the porta-potty at maybe mile 17 or 18. That is where I lost Todd and was on my own until mile 21ish.

Entering De Anza Cove I saw Danielle & Steamer, gave her a hug & continued on. I ate a Gu Roctane Gel at mile 20 from an aid station and filled my mini water bottle from their cups of water. By this point I was definitely slowing. My music was beginning to stress me out because it seemed real loud. Todd helped me to get my music to a lower volume and I slowly trucked along.

The last 6 miles were not enjoyable. I walked through aid stations and even a little extra on Fiesta Island. Too much noise bothered me (cheerleaders on the course) and nothing was making it easier! Even the otter pops made me feel a little sick!

The home stretch..

Needless to say, I finished! My official time was 4 hrs 16 min & 37 seconds. Below is my garmin time which was about 4 minutes short. The garmin stops when I stop so it’s a little off.

Summary 04:12:49 26.35 09:35
1 00:09:16 1.00 09:16
2 00:09:10 1.00 09:10
3 00:09:02 1.00 09:02
4 00:08:49 1.00 08:49
5 00:08:45 1.00 08:45
6 00:09:05 1.00 09:05
7 00:09:14 1.00 09:14
8 00:09:26 1.00 09:26
9 00:09:27 1.00 09:27
10 00:09:40 1.00 09:40
11 00:08:45 1.00 08:45
12 00:09:17 1.00 09:17
13 00:09:09 1.00 09:09
14 00:09:09 1.00 09:09
15 00:09:29 1.00 09:29
16 00:09:56 1.00 09:56
17 00:09:20 1.00 09:20
18 00:09:40 1.00 09:40
19 00:10:07 1.00 10:07
20 00:09:53 1.00 09:53
21 00:10:14 1.00 10:14
22 00:10:07 1.00 10:07
23 00:09:46 1.00 09:46
24 00:10:14 1.00 10:14
25 00:11:41 1.00 11:41
26 00:10:38 1.00 10:38
27 00:03:16 0.35 09:18

With a time of 4:16:37 my real pace was 9:47 (If I did my math correctly).  I can honestly say I am happy with that.  There are many parts of me that wished I was faster or wished those last miles felt better but honestly, I am happy.  That was not easy.  Those last miles are a challenge I’ve never came across before (in exercise or life).

After about an hour of recovering, I was ready to tackle those last miles again.  Well, not really.. but in my head I felt I could do them better the second time!  I think this feeling is the appeal to this whole marathon thing.  I can do better.. I know I can.. even though I hated every second of those last miles..

After wandering around aimlessly trying to find Todd & Leslie, we made it to the beer garden & sat on the ground for a good hour.  It was not easy getting up! I drank a Miller 64 Lemonade beer which was a good gimmick on their part.  Take a light beer that has no flavor and add lemonade to it.  Now it tastes good.  The problem with light beers is in order to remove calories, you are also removing alcohol.  This beer was 2.something% alcohol.  Not worth it to me.. even with the lemonade flavor.

Congrats to Leslie for setting a PR on the half with a speedy time of 1:39:48! Yay Leslie!

We celebrated post race with a BBQ put on by some amazing friends.

This burger was amazing!!

And so were the tequila shots!

Here I am with the other first time marathon finishers!  Great job Michelle & Brett!

I have to give a shout out to my number 1 fan!  Thanks Todd! You’re the best! 🙂

What an amazing experience!  Here I come Nike Women’s Marathon!!


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Memorial Day & Pre-Marathon Thoughts

Before I get into some deep thoughts about my upcoming marathon, here’s a few pictures from my Memorial Day extended weekend!

I’ll spare you repeat pictures of skydiving & Fish 101.

Sunday morning I was feeling a bit festive & made pancakes!

Memorial Day Yogurt Pancakes

adapted from Kath’s recipe.

  • 1 cup pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 cup Fage 0% Greek Yogurt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp regular salt
  • blueberries
  • bananas (sliced)
  • strawberries (sliced)

Combine all ingredients except for bananas & strawberries.  Pour about 1/2 cup of pancake batter into skillet & add banana and strawberry slices on top.  This made 5 pretty large pancakes!  Top with syrup or more fruit & enjoy!

After a tough yoga class and a lovely day at the beach on Monday, we spent our Memorial Day evening BBQing at the casa.  With Jesse’s help, we threw together some amazing burgers!

Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers  (makes 8 large burgers)

  • 4 lbs lean ground beef
  • blue cheese or gorgonzola
  • Laughing Cow cheese original (~4 triangles)
  • salt & pepper

Mix together equal amounts of laughing cow cheese wedges & blue cheese. Microwave for ~20 seconds or just enough time for cheeses to be mixable.

Form (16) 1/4 pound patties of ground beef (rolled out thin).

Spread about a tablespoon of cheese mixture onto half of patties.

Use remaining patties to cover & enclose cheese mixture pressing down edges to fully enclose.  You will now have 1/2 pound burgers with cheese inside.  They will shrink when cooking but will still be good-sized burgers!

Action shot!

We enjoyed our burgers with sweet potato fries, potato salad, pasta salad, & beans!  What a delicious meal!

Look at that cheese!!

What a great way to end this holiday weekend.  Great food & great friends! If only I would’ve taken photos of the ‘friends’ part!

Pre-Marathon Thoughts

In 5 days I will be celebrating the completion of my first marathon (crossing my fingers)!  After months of training, I know I am prepared for this!  Even still, my head is filled with thoughts: Good ones and bad ones.  I thought it’d be fun to document the thoughts that have gone on my head in the weeks before my marathon! I apologize in advance because I’m rambling.. that is how thoughts work.. at least mine anyways 🙂   Ok, here we go..

  • What if I do not enjoy running 26.2 miles? Is this distance not for me?  Will I be deterred from running anything more than a half marathon?  What would I do about the NWM & Ragnar coming up next October?
  • Ever since my 22 miler I have not wanted to run.  Is this bad?  Normal?  Every run I have had since then has been sluggish (heavy) & not necessarily enjoyable. I feel I am digressing.. Is this all part of the taper process?  I sure hope so..
  • Should I set a time goal or just run to complete it and have fun?  I initially thought I should try for 4 hours.. then changed that to maybe 4:15.. 4:30.. but now I’m thinking my goal should be to run the whole thing and try to enjoy myself.  It is my first marathon.. thoughts?
  • How fast do I start running? I’m afraid of my pace. I don’t want to crash hard because I started too fast.. but at the same time if I run a slower pace it’s harder for me to increase that pace later on. I am typically pretty good about negative splits (run slower in the beginning and get faster at the end) .. I just don’t want to mess this one up!
  • What food/fuel am I gonna want during the race?  I should be ready for this but unfortunately I am not..
  • What am I going to feel up for after the race? Celebrations? Sleep?  I will never know on this one.. we will see!

If you can’t tell, I’m excited but extremely nervous!  This waiting game is horrible.. tapering is not fun! Sunday will be here before I know it!  In the mean time, I will try to enjoy this time (and excessive carbs) as much as I can!


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