Hiking Mt. Hollywood

Lonely Rose

The new job is great, but very mentally taxing, so I have obviously not been putting too much effort into this blog. Even though my situation has changed, I still plan on posting here, if not with the same fervor or frequency that I had initially intended. In any case, with the new job using up a lot of energy and brain power, I found myself craving solitude this weekend, as well as a chance to commune with nature.

When I first moved here, nine and a half years ago, stress sent me straight to the beach. I craved the ocean air, the crashing sound of the waves, the giant stretches of sand that to me, signaled vacation. Yet somehow, over the past couple of years, I’ve found myself more attracted to the mountains. Whereas the Pacific Ocean used to loom huge, putting my place in life humbly into perspective, the mountains now do the same, grounding me against their majesty. With much less traffic and fewer tourists to contend with.

So today I hiked the Griffith Park/Ferndell/Mt. Hollywood trail, a 5.5 mile walk with sweeping views of the city, valley, and mountains in the distance. It was exactly what I needed.

The hike itself took me just about exactly two hours – one hour up, one hour down. I sat at the peak for a while, enjoying the view, when, through slats in the wooden fence that kept hikers safe from a steep ascent, I caught an unexpected sight: this lone pink rose breezily juxtaposed against the city grid below. The perfect metaphorical reminder to rise above the daily grind to stop and smell the roses.

My LA Summer Staycation

This week LA welcomed a very special guest – my mom! She visited from Sunday through Wednesday, but I took the entire week off from work to relax and just enjoy some downtime in the summer. Here are the highlights:

Every trip my mom and I have standing dates at the Cheesecake Factory and Rock Sugar. We’re creatures of habit, but the meals usually inspire her in the kitchen. This time, Mom attempted to create even better lettuce wraps than the Cheesecake Factory, using my slow–cooker for the first time and adapting from this recipe. It was a total success.

Marathon shopping trips (and getting moles removed at the dermatologist) called for carb-loading and day-drinking at Sonoma Wine Garden.

Blonds have more fun
Blonds have more fun

We enjoyed the scenery while whale watching off the coast of Santa Monica.

Whale watchin'
Whale watchin’

I found this company which offers daily three-hour tours (altogether, now – a three hour tour…) leaving from Marina del Rey, for only $30/person. It was a beautiful day, we saw a number of blue whales swimming and spouting, and it was absolutely worth the price. Not to mention there is free all-day parking! I saw later that there is even a Groupon for this tour, so if you are in need of a fun, outdoor, LA-centric activity, check it out!

Whale watch boat
The website says this boat holds 90 people, but I thought the 50 or so we shared it with were plenty!

After my mom left Wednesday night, I spent Thursday and Friday just getting myself centered. Thursday night is my regular tennis night, and I’m excited to announce that I’m signing up to play in a doubles league this fall, so I will finally have a chance to put some of my lessons to use! I’m definitely a little intimidated, however. It’s a 3.0 league, and while I am on the better side of a 3.0-3.5 class, I’ve heard that leagues play down – a true 3.5 would (unfairly) be playing at a 3.0 level, for example. My instructor was the one who connected me with the team, though, so hopefully I won’t be too embarrassing.

Of course, the other issue I’m worried about is stamina. I haven’t played an actual tennis match since I was a teenager. We play for quick points in class, but there is always downtime, and when I hit with friends, it is extremely casual. I honestly don’t know that I’ll be able to complete a match at my best, or anything close to it! But that’s exactly why I am looking forward to it – it will be a great challenge and also it doesn’t make any sense for me to be taking lessons every week when I very rarely get to play competitively. The only reason I even take lessons is because they are so fun. Perhaps I can just start playing in the league every season, and take lessons only when I believe there is something specific I need to improve on. (Everything.)

Finally, Friday I laced up my new kicks bought with mom, and went for a long run on the beach.

Beach run

It reminded me of how I loved doing this when I first moved to LA; over time, though, the traffic and the tourists just made it less enticing. Going on a weekday was perfect – no traffic on the way down, a practically peaceful beach while I was there. I took pleasure in watching the tourists’ faces as they experienced the craziness of the Pier and Muscle Beach for the first time, remembering how enchanted by it all I used to be. And, though it may take longer for my curmudgeonly brain to realize, still am.

Throwback Thursday – Bike Tuscany edition

Keeping to the theme of my last Throwback Thursday post, here’s a photo of me once I finally learned how to ride my own bike.

Bike in Tuscany

Castle-chasing and wine-tasting are two very good reasons to learn.

In 2010, my friend Heather and I (and a few of her friends) traveled to Tuscany for vacation. I had been to Italy before, but only the cities, and it had always been a dream of mine to visit the countryside. The one thing I really wanted to do, I explained to Heather when I proposed the idea, was bike through the hills of Tuscany. Great idea! But:

  1. I did not bike. My bike experience up until that point was limited to the tandem experience I talked about earlier, and a few beach cruises on the bike path that had given me confidence that I was now a competent cyclist.
  2. I had no idea that the “rolling hills of Tuscany” were anything more challenging than the subtle inclines in Santa Monica, and that my years of running and lifting and everything else weren’t actually preparing my muscles for this kind of ride.

Heather had about the same level of experience as me, but agreed that we could both handle a day trip and it would be an amazing experience that we’d probably never get to do again. Also, it would burn off some calories, letting us consume even more cheese, pasta, and wine on vacation.

We found I Bike Tuscany and booked the Intermediate Florence to Siena tour, a 20 mile ride that transported our luggage via van from one city to the next. From the link, it looks like they’ve since upgraded the level to Advanced… which is exactly how it felt to us. Granted, we weren’t experienced riders, but apparently we weren’t Intermediate, either. After about the second hill, we started walking our bikes up the inclines. By the end, we rode only downhill and flat, hopping in the luggage van for our final ascent into Siena. It wasn’t our proudest moment, to be sure.

But we did get to uniquely experience the landscape from the ground up, visited a medieval castle or few, and earned ourselves plenty of pizza and wine from the first place we stumbled into in Siena.

I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Though this time, I would actually train first.

How I fell in love with working out

The other day, A Hungry Runner Girl asked, How long did it take you to love running, and it got me thinking about how I got hooked on working out. I spent the first 17 years of my life preferring to binge on television and junk food to breaking even the threat of a sweat, so that I developed any healthy habits at all wasn’t exactly a given.

I was so excited to run, I packed two different shoes!
That time I was so excited to run, I grabbed two different shoes!

Continue reading How I fell in love with working out

Cirque School LA

I’ve never had the specific desire to run away and join the circus, but my mom will tell you that as a kid, I would take any opportunity to be upside down. Cartwheels up the stairs, watching hours of TV in a modified shoulder-stand… in fact, I still practice handstands in my apartment now that my living space is big enough. So when I started seeing the number of aerial workouts that LA offered, I knew a class designed around hanging and flying midair would be perfectly up my alley.

Cirque School entrance

Cirque School LA is located, literally, down an alley. I first discovered the school on Groupon, but the deal only offered a savings on a package of three classes. Since I still have two classes left on the Barry’s Bootcamp three-pack I impulsively purchased in 2007, I decided I’d just pay full price ($25) for one class before committing to more.

Continue reading Cirque School LA

MacBlogger’s back, alright

Well. It’s been just over four years since I penned my last blog post, and my writing muscles are weak. I assume, like any workout, they’ll strengthen once I start flexing them again. In the meantime, let’s appreciate the fact that I clearly haven’t lost my penchant for thinly-veiled metaphors.

Some of you may remember me as Lori MacBlogger. I wrote a personal blog from 2005 to 2010, first about my move from New York to Los Angeles, and ultimately about my life here. Blogging was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life, but after five years, I ultimately grew tired of talking about myself.

I didn’t miss writing for a long time, until one day, when I suddenly did. Last April, I moved into a big, wonderful new apartment; I spent the first six months consumed with decorating it, pouring over design ideas on Apartment Therapy and Pinterest, getting crafty with DIY solutions (I sewed rugs together!), and just reveling in the placement, lines, and colors of my new living space. When money grew tight, I put the decorating on hold, and that’s when I realized that I’d really missed having a creative outlet.

BloggingLori bike framed has changed a lot over the last few years; one thing that hasn’t changed, however, is that my number one hobby is still working out. I started taking tennis lessons two years ago; I am there every Thursday. Weekends are often yoga, hiking, or anything outdoors. That leaves me two+ days a week for weights and running in the gym. I almost always take Fridays off, unless I am doing “tennis Fridays” at a good friend’s house, but that typically involves wine and more conversation than actual exertion. It’s a pretty varied schedule, and yet, it’s also routine. I could stand to shake things up a bit.

So I am starting this blog as motivation to try every great workout Los Angeles has to offer. I’ll be doing yoga on paddleboards, kayaking in the Marina, taking breakdancing lessons, and aerobicizing with Richard Simmons. In between these adventures, I’ll probably be posting some healthy recipes, my favorite (terrible) running songs, and trying to recreate classic athletic moments from TV and film.

I guess you can call me Lori MacJogger.