Vacation Runner’s Kitchen-Style

The Good News: The man-friend and I had a very fun trip to Puerto Rico (and have returned safely). We also remembered to pack a lot of healthy snacks for our travels! 😉

Note: I also brought apples, prunes, and Kashi granola bars, but the man-friend was not so interested in those…

The Bad News: I have a mountain of work (and personal) emails that I might never get through. Thank goodness for guest blog posts! I have a few in the vault and will continue posting them throughout the week. In case you haven’t already had a gander, Ali, Angry Runner, and Sofia wrote some useful/funny things for me earlier this week:

Okay, back to this vacation business. My trip was fun, but I’m not going to bore you with an 8-part recap or anything like that. I would however like to give a shout out to a few of the extra-special places we visited while in PR and give my top tips for enjoying vacay without ending up too hungover/sunburnt/out-of-shape. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not super uptight when it comes to my routine. Sure, I like certain habits – morning runs with friends (when I can actually wake up in time…), healthy(ish) breakfasts, and copious vegetable consumption, but I also like to kick back and enjoy a few beers now and then. I don’t think it’s realistic to go on vacation (or even a business trip) and plan on eating 100% healthy foods while sticking to an overly ambitious exercise routine. Stuff happens, schedules change, and let’s be honest – a poolside margarita is a LOT more enticing that a treadmill run.

While in the PR, I tried to start each day with 1) running and 2) a healthy breakfast. Over 5 days, I took 1 rest day (Friday) and ran 19 miles over the other 4 days. I even got the man-friend to join me for a few jaunts! I usually didn’t feel like running upon waking (Puerto Rican coffee was calling my name…), but I knew the mornings were my best and probably only opportunity for fitting in some miles.

 Saturday – 3 miles barefoot along the beach

Sunday – 7 miles on the hotel’s treadmill (in the basement, wayyyy to humid and dungeon-like to warrant a second visit)

Monday – 4 miles barefoot along the beach

Tuesday – 5 miles barefoot along the beach

 Certainly not the most amount of mileage I’ve run in 4 days, but I’m pretty damn proud of myself. Running while on vacation (especially in 90 degrees and 90% humidity) is not so easy. I was surprised at how good the barefoot running felt – my calves and achilles are a bit tighter than usual, but the beach runs were some of my favorite moments of the trip.

I even had my own personal papparazzo –

After some miles, the man-friend and I headed down to the Hotel restaurant for some breakfast (it was included with our room reservation). For the most part, I stuck with cafe con leche, OJ, whole wheat toast with butter, and fruit & plain yogurt. Starting the day with some whole grains, fruit, and a little bit of protein gave me more wiggle-room when it came to delicious foods later in the day

Reverse Quesadilla – I had no idea what this was when I ordered it – menu was in Spanish only, but it ended up being AMAZING. Instead of a flour tortilla shell, this quesadilla type thing was made with fried cheese on the outside and filled with chicken and MORE cheese on the inside. Ridic. Thankfully the man-friend helped me finish this.

We spent most of our afternoons being pretty active – hiking in El Yunque (the rainforest), kayaking in the bioluminescent bay, walking around old San Juan, etc. And if you’re gonna be active you gotta refuel, right?

When it came to dinner, the man-friend and I sought out places that served small plates/tapas. This allowed us to share a bunch of different dishes and it works out pretty well because we can both eat the right amount. My appetite is a little smaller, so I usually eat about 40% of what we share while man-friend dominates the rest. Our two favorite spots were the tapas restaurant El Picoteo at El Convento Hotel in Old San Juan and Budatai (a Latin-Asian fusion restaurant) in Condado.

El Picoteo was a winner not only for the food, but for the awesome champagne-sangria that we downed with our meal. It was so refreshing after a long day of walking in the heat – and best of all, the waitress shared the recipe!

 Champagne Sangria Recipe

  • 1 bottle of cava (sparkling Spanish wine), prosecco, or champagne
  • 1/3 bottle light rum
  • 1/3 bottle of triple sec
  • 1/4 bottle of brandy
  • pineapple and cranberry juice, to taste (maybe a few cups each?)
  • lime and lemon slices
  • seltzer water, to taste

Mix together the cava, liqueurs, fruit juice, and lime/lemon slices in a big pitcher or container. Allow to marinate in the fridge for a few hours. Shortly before serving add seltzer water to taste. Garnish with a pineapple slice!

White bean hummus with toasted pita bread

meatballs in almond and tomato sauce

citrus grilled asparagus

lobster empanadillas

 Budatai was the man-friend’s choice and I was a leeeetle nervous, because Asian cuisine (especially sushi) isn’t always my favorite. However, this place really came through and was probably my favorite meal of the whole trip.

cilantro margarita (must re-create asap!)

 

edamame

pork dumplings with shaved truffle mushrooms

porkbelly profiteroles and salted caramel sauce

geisha roll with salmon, jicama, and cream cheese

caramelized banana tart

While I thoroughly enjoyed (daily) happy hour and a cocktail with dinner, we didn’t go too crazy when it came to drinking or staying out late (I’ll have to use AR’s tips another time)…. In fact, when I talked to my Dad on Father’s Day he asked if we were enjoying the nightlife and I had to admit that we were in bed by 10:30pm most nights, watching the History Channel. I realize that sounds kind of lame, but holla to getting 8-9 hours of sleep! Makes getting up to run early…dare I say…fun?

 So, blog-friends, that is the PR re-cap. It’s a great island – beautiful weather (summer 365 days a year!), short flight from NYC (3.5 hours), and lots of fun stuff to see/do. I’d definitely recommend it as a vacation destination – especially in the summer when it’s technically “off-season” and the rates are cheaper!

 I will now return to regular running and recipe-related blogging (i.e. I promise to stop tweeting photos of beer and palm trees at 11am on a workday) 😉

Question: What’s the best place you’ve ever gone on vacation? Did you run while there?

  • I’m super impressed you did so many runs on the beach barefoot!! What was that like? I’d be nervous to run barefoot for too far.

    Also, that looks like an AMAZING vacation. Just the right amount of relaxing, good food and adventure/fun!! 

  • Sooo glad you had such a good time and enjoyed lots of delicious foods! I don’t blame you for hitting the sack early and waking up kind of early – it’s kind of my idea of a great vacation (this probably isn’t too surprising to you though…). We must run together next week – I want to hear a full recap!

  • Ahhh you guys were in Puerto Rico???? SO exciting! I’m glad you guys had a fun time:) Um, can we please grab a bite sometime soon? I feel like I haven’t seen you in too long.

  • Corey @ Runners Cookie

    Looks like such a great vacation!! I pretty much share your vaca philosophy for staying “on track” fitness/health wise by getting up early to run and starting with a good breakfast, but also remembering that vacations are about relaxing and enjoying yourself. Last year my family and I took a Cape Cod vacation and ate at a different ice cream place every night — we scoped out all the awesome, homemade ice cream places. It was so much fun and I don’t regret a single bite of icecream I ate 🙂
    So nice that you were able to escape for a few days and enjoy time with your man!

  • Megan M.

    Dude. you ran FIVE MILES IN A BIKINI?

    What. the heck.

    want to run five miles clothed w/ me sometime soon?

  • Anonymous

    yes!!! to running with you. but i still might wear a bikini.

  • Anonymous

    i think this was actually one of the very first times i’ve run completely
    barefoot and it wasn’t that bad! i stuck to the firm, wet sand near the
    water (easier to run on) and made sure to stretch my calves really well
    afterward.

  • jesus, these food pics are beautiful. love the maniacal ice cream face, too, and props to you for running on the beach. it’s hard!

    i should’ve run when i was in barcelona a few years back. that would’ve been a bit hectic but cool!

  • I am not sure where the best place I have been is, maybe the Almafi Coast or Martha’s Vineyard–I did some running while I was there.  Running is great for travel exercise.   I am going to PR in the fall, this post makes it seem great. 

  • Ali

    You are so stinkin’ cute in all those photos. And barefoot running on the beach? Absolutely amazing and impressive (and I’m not at all surprised, you rock star). I’m glad you’re back. Let’s play.

  • AR

    I too am boggled by this. I could never do that because 1. the lack of support 2. people might call to report a beached whale

  • Anonymous

    the girls like to be free!!!

    they are also now very sunburnt and peeling. sexyyy.

  • 1. That last picture of you and the manfriend is adorable!
    2. The champagne sangria recipe you shared might be the most useful recipe I’ve seen here yet. (Just kidding 😉  )
    3. My favorite places so far have been Kona, Hawaii (lots of running + jetskiing + biking + swimming) and a cruise along Alaska (no running at all). I’ll be in Kona lots over the next years because my best friend’s family just bought a house there, but probably not to Alaska again anytime soon. It’s a must see, though — Alaska is gorgeous!

  • 1. That last picture of you and the manfriend is adorable!
    2. The champagne sangria recipe you shared might be the most useful recipe I’ve seen here yet. (Just kidding 😉  )
    3. My favorite places so far have been Kona, Hawaii (lots of running + jetskiing + biking + swimming) and a cruise along Alaska (no running at all). I’ll be in Kona lots over the next years because my best friend’s family just bought a house there, but probably not to Alaska again anytime soon. It’s a must see, though — Alaska is gorgeous!

  • your quad muscles are hot (re: rainforest photo). just saying.

    i’m so glad you had a good trip and can’t wait to hear more about it in person!  the restaurant the manfriend chose looks incredible – cilantro margarita, pork belly profiteroles (!) – please sign me up! you guys got some really great photos too. 🙂

    i’ve gone on some great trips but i will always be loyal to southern maine as my ultimate vacation destination.  and i do actually run when i’m up there, also in the morning and on the beach.  it’s my favorite way to start a lazy beach day!

  • your quad muscles are hot (re: rainforest photo). just saying.

    i’m so glad you had a good trip and can’t wait to hear more about it in person!  the restaurant the manfriend chose looks incredible – cilantro margarita, pork belly profiteroles (!) – please sign me up! you guys got some really great photos too. 🙂

    i’ve gone on some great trips but i will always be loyal to southern maine as my ultimate vacation destination.  and i do actually run when i’m up there, also in the morning and on the beach.  it’s my favorite way to start a lazy beach day!

  • Anonymous

    when we were at Budatai, i kept thinking “omg, Leslie would love this
    place!!” they had some really good cocktails – the man-friend had a
    concoction with homemade lemongrass syrup and vodka.

  • Anonymous

    true story – i’ve never been to Hawaii, Alaska, or Canada! All of these
    places seem so close and yet i’ve never been….

    your time in Kona sounds awesome! i love doing outdoor activities things at
    the beach 🙂

  • Hmm, some of my fave vacays of recent memory are Nantucket and Sorrento, Italy. I ran once in Nantucket, 2 miles, it was when I first started running! When I was in Sorrento, I was still in my pre-running life, so I didn’t. When I was a nanny in Italy the following summer, it was when I had just started running as well (Nantucket was that same summer) and I didn’t wanted to “lose” all that I had gained in the few short months I had been running. So, I ran while I was there and it was a great way for me to see all the places I went with my nannying family that summer. And, it was a way for me to see it on my own time and in my own way. The Italians did look at me like I was crazy though.

    Good for you getting your run on in the PR! Impressive! You run like as much on vacation as I do in my regular life! 

  • Awesome. Good for you!! Looks like an ideal vacay – esp the bed at 10:30 pm – aint nothing wrong with that. I love you breakfast, exactly what I would get, yum. That sushi restaurant looks amazing. Good fro you for getting so much (barefoot!) running in as well. I cringe at your 7-mile treadmill workout – esp after my experience last week (ha).
    Best vacay ever? Definitely our honeymoon in Greece last year. And yup, we did get some good runs in since we were prepping for the Philly 1/2 last September.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • I meant I love *your* breakfast.

  • Anonymous

    Greece!!! Ahh, I want to go there. And run. And eat souvlaki.

  • Anonymous

    i joined a gym when i studied abroad in Florence and i would get so sweaty
    and red-faced on the TM. meanwhile, the Italian ladies would be chatting on
    their phones and chillin’ near the stretching mats. they thought i was a
    freak! hehe.

  • Totes jealous of your sweet vacation. And I’m mega impressed that you ran that far in a bikini and no shoes. Snaps.

    Best vacation ever? New Zealand was pretty awesome for obvious reasons, as was a beach vacation that I took on the coast of Kenya was I was abroad. Coast of Kenya = the Caribbean for Germans, it appeared.

  • uuuuuuuuuuuuugh. i want to go on vacay now!

    and i do not think your early bedtimes are lame. i am in full support of them!

  • Megan M.

    I’m glad you’re w/ me on this one, AR.

  • My husband and I went to Aruba on our honey moon and had some awesome runs! One morning we ran to the end of the island, home to an awesome lighthouse at the top of a winding hill. We went back later with a rented car and camera and took pictures of us running which I just submitted to Runner’s World “Rave Run”. Defenitly one of my favorite vacations where I was able to get in all non-tradmill runs 🙂

  • Hey, Bo Derek, nice running suit! I’m not going to be jealous of you. I swear. Too much seafood in island territories, right? Instead, I’m going to answer your question: best place I was ever on vacation in was Barcelona, and yes, I did run there. I ran with two dude friends, and they jumped in the Med. Then an old Spanish lady shouted that they were going to get colds, and my friend replied, “No! Vamos a correr y calientarnos!”

  • Looks like you had an awesome (and delicious!!) vacation!  The pictures are beautiful and you look so happy!  (Who wouldn’t be with ice cream in their hands??)

    My favorite vacation was in Costa Rica last year…I went to a surf/yoga camp, which means tons of working out!  I did squeeze in a run once.  🙂

  • Anonymous

    whoa! surf/yoga camp sounds awesome (and very good cross-training for
    runners)!

  • Wait a sec.  You can fry cheese inside of cheese?  :::head explodes:::

  • #ATHENSMARATHON2011.

    Just sayin. 🙂

  • Radrunnergirl

    Holy Crap-ola, every single one of these pictures is glorious. you need to make a foodie magazine. and include your smileing face ice cream pics.. that should actually be the cover.. 

  • Anonymous

    sooo, i’m 95% sure that it was fried cheese on the outside with more cheese and chicken in the middle. the menu was in Spanish only, but after some extensive googling of the word queso plantilla (name of dish on the menu) it appears that the queso was a “template” for the melted cheese and chicken?? i don’t even know if i’m making sense, but it was good. and i wouldn’t say no to more.

  • So jealous and excited for you that you’re running Athens! Definitely on the list…! 

  • These pics are adorable!  Glad you had fun (and I need to recreate that sangria ASAP).

  • Oh my, that vacation looks like bliss!! I can’t believe such a great place is just a short plane ride away from NYC. I need to find an excuse to go 😉

    Funnily enough – my fave vacation in recent memory was DISNEY WORLD. I ran in the Disney Marathon and I had a blast.

  • What the fuck is a template for cheese? You make a newsletter out of cheese? I googled various iterations of “inside out quesadilla” for 20 minutes this morning and came up with nada.

  • Anonymous

    i just spent another 10 minutes googling “queso plantilla” “el taquito menu
    san juan” and “inside out quesadilla” – no dice.

    the only thing i came up with was that the term “plantilla” can also be used
    to describe ready made empanadilla dough. i’m pretty sure the outside of
    that thing was cheese and not dough, however. let’s make a return trip!

  • Katie

    AH, this is my dream trip! So romantic, and I’m mega impressed that you ran so much! The last real vacation I went on was to a Club Med in January… this was back when I was still running, so I went for a couple short ones and tried water aerobics and went to the gym once.  It was a nice way to break up the day.

  • Erin

    Looks like an amazing vacay! My favorite vacation spot so far has been the south island of New Zealand (in winter, here). The breathtaking scenery almost helps you forget that you’re running!

  • 1. I’m just catching up so I’m a bit late to comment. 🙂
    2. Your vacation looks amazing. All that good food and a beautiful beach to run on.
    3. I have that same adorable blue/white striped dress from American Eagle and adore it. Too bad it’s been too cold to wear it here in Oregon this summer.
    4. I’m right there with you on calling your bf “manfriend”