Day Twenty Seven… the Red Sox won?

Day Twenty Seven (vigesimo setimo dia)

Usually, Wednesdays are my “off” day from running and working out because we go to Ponta Delgada, but we’re not going this week. I got up and took Romeo out for a run with me. I was just going to take him for the first 1.8 (long loop) but, I was feeling generous so I took him for all 3.0. John and the boys really weren’t going to the gym today, so I decided to go before my class that night.

Romeo tried to “play with” [attack] a pelican, but other than that, our run was uneventful.

John and Ken needed to plan their practice for the juniors, which was funny to listen to because they don’t know all their names yet: “the blonde kid”, “that kids who plays in the back, but is really a midfielder”, etc. Bobby and I talked about student loans, and his impending departure date. Bobby also brought me a bag of over-ripe bananas so I can make them some bread. It’s not exactly the same as I make at home, and I haven’t been able to find baking soda, but it’s still good. John and Ken have to decide at practice who is going to start the game on Saturday. After this Pic-Nic meeting, John and I went home to drop the bananas off, and then went on a hiking adventure.


There is a tiny little street behind the bombeiros (fire station) next to Barraca (super market). It takes you up behind lomba do botao. I’ve been talking in excess about the incline here. This is what is looks like, check out the angle of my feet:


The view is worth the ascent (isn’t it always?). We hike up for about 30 minutes. Along the way we see vaca (cow), um cavalo (one malnourished horse), and hydrangea. I love hydrangeas. We saw Aloe plants, and other succulents, John’s complex, dilapidated houses and lots and lots of ocean.




IMG_0381Here is Mira Mar’s complex


IMG_0384 IMG_0386 IMG_0387 IMG_0389Somewhere along the way, John obtained a walking stick. He got one for me, too, but I ditched it for the descent.

We began to see a few houses, so we knew we were getting close to lomba do botao. We turned around and began our descent. When I went running this morning, I thought it was a beach day: so hot and sunny, and only a little muggy. About an hour later it was already clouding up. The view from atop would have been better with less clouds, but it was still linda—beautiful.

At the bottom, we decided to grab those cookies I had forgotten yesterday and so we stopped at Barraca. We headed home to have lunch. We have fruit flies everywhere: I discovered shortly after we arrived in Povoacao that because we leave our doors open we cannot leave our fruit out. All our produce goes in the fridge. This seemed to basically clear up our problem, however today, they seemed to be back with a vengeance. We looked around, but couldn’t see any food that was open, except the potatoes. Fruit flies don’t like potatoes? I questioned rather than stated. Apparently, they do. John went through them and tossed the ones that had been attacked, and now everything we have is closed or refridgerated. A small price to pay for having our doors (we don’t have any windows, save for the one lone skylight upstairs) wide open two days before November. There is no indication that we will have colder weather anytime soon. We hear it rain often at night, but by 9 or 10am, it has cleared.

I had an egg and ham sandwich for lunch. One, beacuse they are delicious, and two, we have a LOT of eggs.

IMG_0394 IMG_0395

I headed off to the gym early, stopping by Ken&Bobby’s to drop off half a loaf of banana bread and grab Bobby’s speaker (even exchange? It’s gotta be close). The gym was nearly empty. I did back squats to military presses, tricep cable throw downs to staggered push-ups, and goblet squats to pull-ups. I foam rolled (is there really controversy over self myofascial release?) because my legs are so sore from hill running and mountain hiking.

IMG_0397Banana bread pre-bake: experimented with putting Chocapic cereal in one half.

I headed up to Toronto Nights and found a very tired looking Lina—she felt as though she had the flu. Not everyone speaks English, and the ones who don’t mostly understand me. I had Sao and Judite to help me translate, and I even learned a few new words and phrases. Without Lina, I had 16 women. Tessa and her friend Yiza showed up and even invited me to a party they are having Friday night. I have plans to go to dinner with Lina, Carla, and Paula—they call it their “Desperate Housewives” night—but I may join them after. They told me I could bring my friends, and I assumed they meant John and Ken&Bobby. One of the diehards in my class, Sao, who grew up in New Bedford, told me her son (who is currently living in New Bedford) told her to tell me that the Red Sox are “wicked awesome” and that he thinks they will win tonight. My heart ached just a little.

I headed home to Skype with my other family: the Luccheses. They caught me up on all-things-Sudbury and Carlos showed his face repping the Red Sox on his shirt, who won the World Series tonight for the first time at Fenway in 95 years. I haven’t been homesick at all, but I seriously wish I was in home in Boston for that.

Day Twenty Six… Pic-Nic gets personal

Day Twenty Six (vigesimo-sexto dia)

I got up around 9:30am, made myself some tea, took Romeo out, and finally, after hearing not a peep from John, I went for a run. It was about 10:30am, and as is my new routine, I took Romeo for the first loop. I took John’s watch, too. I took the long loop which involves some switchbacks on the other side of the river. I am pretty sure it is 1.8 miles, and it took me and Romeo 18:30 to complete it. I dropped him off with still not a sound from John. I set off for another loop (finishing at 35:30) and a half which I think was about 4.0 miles (40:00). When I got home just after 11:00am John still was sound asleep. This time I was concerned, “John! Are you sick?” I said to wake him up. “No. I was up all night, didn’t you hear me?” No, I didn’t hear you, I thought, a freight train could drive down the street and I wouldn’t wake up. I did hear him get up to open the door because it was hot, and then shut it because it was loud, but I fell quickly back asleep after both of those episodes.

He began to get up and I decided to fore-go going to the gym by myself now and instead made a plan to sneak in a session before my class. I showered, and John and I walked to Pic-Nic. Ken&Bobby got there soon after us, having come from the gym. They talked about Game of Thrones, because Ken&Bobby are the ones who got John started on this obsession. John got the sopa de dia which he does sometimes, and today it was a peixe soup. It is only one euro for a big ol’ bowl, and it was pretty delicious. I vowed to attempt to make soup. And peixe. For some reason, cooking fish makes me nervous. I am afraid I will either undercook it or overcook it and it will be dry. I. will. try.

We went home, John to finish Game of Thrones Season Three, and me to get my shopping list and head back out. I am still practicing my Portuguese using anything I can.

  IMG_0400 IMG_0399The one on top has prices because I am trying to stick to our 25 euro portion of Mira Mar’s 75 euro weekly budget. The body parts cheat-sheet is for my classes at ALKE.

On my way to the larger supermercado, I went to DAP, the electronic store where I bought my hair dryer and Casa Batista, which looked like a cute store that sold lots of different things. We walk by them all the time, and aside from that one extremely productive trip, I’ve never been back to DAP and I’ve never been to Casa Batista at all. Today is the day.

DAP, it turns out, doesn’t just sell electronics, but also dining room, living room, and bedroom furniture and furnishings. It is four floors. Other than peaking at toaster ovens (too pricey now that we’re ballin’-on-a-budget) nothing caught my eye. On to Casa Batista.

This store has two floors and a lot of clothing. Mostly women’s and children’s, but they carry men’s and women’s shoes (I did look at the boots), and lots of home furnishings. I looked at the watches, because John needs his to run practices which are always during my classes. But none were cheap enough or plastic enough. So I decided to go to one of the Chinese stores. Actually, I went to two of them.

These stores remind me of the stores in Provincetown, MA. So much stuff so close together you can hardly turn around without hitting a stand for €1/pair earrings, or headbands, or leggings. The first shop had watches, but none that I wanted. The second store (owned by Romeo’s friend Lele’s parents) had a purple plastic watch for €7.50. Perfect.

IMG_0085This Lele. Romeo loves her. And she loves to hump my leg.

I finally went to the supermarcado and got everything except cookies (how could I forget those??). John and I have been eating so many of these biscuit with chocolate sandwich cookies. We have ventured out and tried ones with vanilla in the middle and strawberry. They are all delicious. While I forgot the cookies, I obviously remembered the chocolate. As I told John: I am not going to miss Halloween, just the candy.

Missions completed, I headed home. One of the things on my market list was bolos levedos which Ernes had originally bought for us when he took us to Furnas. I knew it wouldn’t be as good, but I needed some. Ever since that day he took us to Furnas and bought us bolos levedos I have been fantasizing about having one filled with peanut butter. Since we got the package from my dad, I can finally make my dream a reality.

 IMG_0084After that (which was as incredible as I had imagined), John and I got ready to go to the gym.

John and I have been trying to get creative since we’re limited on space and equipment. One thing we hadn’t tried yet (but knew we could do) were single arm shoulder presses with a bar. We used a 45lb bar pushed up against the wall, on top of my sweat towel, with a 10kg plate (John added more weight for his turns once Marco and Ernes saw us putting up the same weight!).

I did:

  • Deadlifts (89lbs) x15
  • Repeats on the sidewalk: 4/ 3/ 2/ 1
  • Single arm shoulder press x10E
  • Push-up rows w/weight x10E
  • x3

Single leg RDLs x10E x3

Mini shoulder-arm circuit x10E

  • Frontal raise
  • Lateral raise
  • Bicep curls
  • Bent rows
  • Tricep kickbacks
  • x2

Remember our friend from Pic-Nic who puts bacon on our burgers and helped me with the final stage of mission-steal-the-tire-from-the-gas-station-with-romeo-attached-to-my-waist? Well, he has a name: Dyago. And he work outs at ALKE. He weighed about 150lbs more at 18 then he does now at 22. He works at Pic-Nic and works out at ALKE and most importantly he reads my blog. And he likes my blog!

John went to shower before heading to meet the guys at Pic-Nic. Arsenal was playing Chelsea at 6:45pm. Ken is a diehard Arsenal fan. I borrowed some plates from Ernes and headed over to my classroom above Toronto Nights. Thank goodness only 11 women showed up. Nineteen is fun once-in-awhile, but too many for every night.

I met the guys at Pic-Nic to “watch the game”/work-on-my-blog-that-people-who-work-at-Pic-Nic-read. Near the end of the game, I headed home to shower before dinner. Since John didn’t have practice we ate at a reasonable hour (9:30pm!). John was in charge of our meal, but I don’t like sitting around so I helped. We had DIY Pic-Nic burgers (with eggs from Lina and Ernes, and bacon) and hashbrowns. #thisiswhyirun


Day Twenty Five… I have a hero, and her name is Jackie.

Day Twenty Five (vigesimo cinco dia)… I have a hero, and her name is Jackie.

Day three sans-GPS watch, but I’m not running so it’s OK. We decided to go to ALKE Fitness a little later (30 minutes) than usual so we would miss the crowd, since we both had to shower there. Ken&Bobby met us, too. As soon as we walked in, Ernes said he had a surprise for us. He said he knew we liked music, so he gave us a music magazine in it’s cellophane wrapper. “Just kidding,” he said, taking it away. Ernes has a very dry sense of humor. Then he handed us the package from home we’ve been waiting two weeks for!! He also bought a giant bag of protein for John, Ken, and Bobby.


My legs were sore from my lomba running on Sunday, so after I warmed up a little with the jump rope, I sat down with my friend Foam Roller.

We did each superset three times:

  • 15 Goblet squats
  • 30 Deaccel jump rope
  • 15 DB bench
  • John: 30 plyo push-ups, Liza: 15 Burpees w/push-up
  • John: 15 SB roll-outs, Liza: 15 hanging leg raises
  • John: 30 hanging rot. knee tucks, Liza: 30 alt. V-ups

Ken&Bobby (among other things) did tire flips and decline push-ups outside.


We showered and headed home to drop our 5 litre water containers that Lina and Ernes fill up for us and the package from home off. I also forgot an important article of clothing when I packed my bag for the gym, and I didn’t want to sit down at Pic-Nic without them. We went home and immediately opened up our package. Of course, this is the first thing we see:


Thanks, Dad. By the time we got this, the Sox are tied in the World Series.

There was PB (thank goodness), dove soap, and proactiv for us. My dad took care of Romeo, equally.

IMG_0346 IMG_0347 IMG_0350Is that Game of Thrones playing on my MacBook?

John immediately scooped some PB into his protein shake and we were off to Pic-Nic for a galao. It’s Monday, so after coffee we went shopping at Fatima’s under the boys’ apartment on Mira Mar’s tab.

John continues to be obsessed with Game of Thrones (until he finished Season three). I cleaned the apartment, and headed back to ALKE for my class. This one was my biggest yet. I had 17 women at the beginning of the warm-up, which was good since I was set up for 18. A few minutes later, Tessa and her friend Yiza (pronounced: Shiza) show up. It messed me up a little, but we were able to make-do. Nineteen women!


It’s hard to run a class this big in a small space with no equipment, but everyone works hard and has fun. I have been trying to change things up as best I can, and the ladies appreciate all of it.

IMG_0355We also started and ended with a 1:00 plank.

When I got home, I finished making dinner. Tonight was a big deal for John: he was asked to be the head coach for the Junior team (kids are between 14 and 18). John asked Ken to assist him and tonight was their first practice. I made frango (chicken) the only way I have made it: with a caramelized onion, arroz, and frozen veggies. John loves it. The kids already love John (he has been doing their strength, conditioning, and agility training since August), and are excited to have him as a coach.

After dinner, John returned to watching Game of Thrones and I read. Then my phone went off and I couldn’t believe my eyes… I thought I was imagining things. My hero appeared, and her name was Jackie:


I was so excited! I cancelled my order with for £120 which works out to be $200. I don’t even care how long it takes that watch to get to me. I am so grateful I have friends like Jackie and Gunter (who happen to have an extra one laying around). Jackie’s sister Nikki has been trying in earnest to hook me up with a new free one from Nike (which is, in fact, how I obtained my first one).

 IMG_0083Me, too. Me, too.

John has suffered from borderline insomnia since we’ve been here. I am oblivious; I went to sleep a happy girl.

Day Twenty Four.. I complete a lomba and John watches Game of Thrones

Day Twenty Four (vigesimo quarto dia)

It is Daylight Savings time here in Portugal, but we later find out that this hasn’t happened in the States yet. I wanted to run 8.0 miles today, but I have no idea how far that is, and I don’t have my GPS watch. I took Romeo for one extended lap around the vila which took 18 minutes and I figure to be about 1.75/1.8 miles. After I dropped him off, I ambitiously headed off for lomba do alcaide, where Lina and Ernes live. It is manageable, but difficult. I did a few out-and-backs down some parts of the lomba to get a break from the constant ascent. After about 25 minutes, I made it to what I believed to be the top of the lomba. It leveled off for a while (thank ye, jesus), then began to creep up again. Lina told me if I kept running, eventually I would hit lomba de loucao. After a long while, I hit the end of lomba do alcaide, you know you hit the end of something here because there is a sign with that thing’s name on it (Povoacao, lomba de cavaleiro, etc) with a giant red slash through it. But this road kept going after the sign, up a mountainside, and not back around to the vila as lomba do loucau would. I turned around and headed down one rua, when that turned out to be a dead end, I turned around and tried a different one. I kept figuring that if I couldn’t figure out the way, I could always turn around and go back down lomba do alcaide. I came to a rua that went straight down, and I was committed before I had a chance to choose otherwise. However, it didn’t just go straight down, but straight back up, like a giant V. I got to the bottom and halfway back up before I had to break. I paused my stopwatch for about 30 seconds, then hoofed it up to the top. I was on lomba do loucao. I crossed over to the side where Pedro’s sister lives and began my descent. Once I finally, finally, got back to the vila, I was at about 1:18:00. I did two more laps around the vila which I know to be 1.2 miles each, and finished at 1:31:00. I am calling it between 8.25 and 8.5 miles.

I did stop somewhere near the beginning of lomba do alcaide to take these:


Image 3

If you look one set of buildings in from the river road, you can see the golden-yellow curtains from our kitchen.

Image 1

Image 2

When I got home, I packed up my backpack and John, Romeo, and I walked up to Ken&Bobby’s (Majid and Adam live there, too, but we don’t see them a lot) so I could shower with warm water. Romeo LOVES it there—he howls right when he gets in the door. He howls even when no one is there and I bring him on a walk to bring Bobby’s speaker back. I gave Bobby some banana bread the other day, so I think our relationship is coming to more equal ground. Majid is terrified of dogs, but we’ve been using Romeo to break him down. It’s working.

Thank goodness Lina gave us a pizza-and-a-half to take home last night—the only food we have is frozen, and we can’t cook without propane. Luckily, the broiler is an electric function, so we were able to eat it warm, albeit cheese-less. We had it for lunch and again for dinner. Manchester City played Chelsea, so we went to Pic-Nic once I was clean. John and I had eaten lunch there on Saturday; he a Pic Nic burger and me a bifana (which was pretty good). After Chelsea won 2-1, we went home. John has been on this Game of Thrones kick (read: complete and total obsession) so he watched an episode while I finised Freakonomics (which I enjoyed!). We had a Skype date with my parents and my brother at 4:30pm EST, which is usually 8:30pm here. At 7:30pm, I started getting invites to join their google hangout. I was so confused!! I started Facebook messaging my brother saying vague things like “I thought our date was at 4:30?” Apparently, Daylight Savings time happens at different times in different parts of the world. We had gained an hour but Bostonians hadn’t. Not for another week, at least.

Who are these crazy people invading my screen?

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 7.56.34 PM

My Dad is telling a story which I’m pretty sure involved running out of post-it notes. My mother got creative by TAPING a PIECE OF PAPER to her PURSE and trying to walk into CVS. My Dad asked her to please take the note off her bag before she walked in, she ripped the note and couldn’t figure out what she needed. #isthisreallife ?

Day Twenty Three / Sabado!

Portugal: Day Twenty Three… No Propane, No GPS watch, but(!) Rodizio de Pizza @ Toronto Nights

Friday night I thought we were running a little low on propane (which I’ve been increasingly nervous about since Day Two. My shower went from hot to cold, but would continuously go back to hot. Saturday, after my maybe-3-mile run with Romeo, I was pretty sure we were out. We can’t get a new tank until Monday, so I wash my hair under the faucet, and rinse off as best I can with the sub-zero water.

When I was getting ready for my run something terrible, almost unmentionable happened: my GPS watch died. DIED. It had absolutely no display, which is what happens when the battery is dead, too, but I had just plugged it in the day before. The battery, I knew, was charged—my watch was really dead. In a runner’s world, marked by numbers: distance, current pace, average pace, time elapsed, calories… I was lost. I took Romeo and John’s watch out for 29:27 and I called it three miles. At home, when my watch wasn’t charged I would just turn on my Nike+ app. At home, in my completely-technology-dependent life. But, alas, I have no data service here. The lombas are hard to figure out on google maps, so it is hard to even plan a run and then execute it. I am depressed. #firstworldproblems

After my watch incident, and the lack-of-hot-water-realization, I was seriously looking forward to all-you-can-eat pizza coupled with all-you-can-drink beer at Toronto Nights. There was a game on (I can actually tell you that Madrid played Barcelona; it’s easier for me to remember the teams when they correspond to places I want to go), so John headed to Pic-Nic and I met him there after my 29:27 run. Bobby, Ken, and I made a bet for who could eat the most pizza. If you’ve seen me eat, you know I had more than a fair shot to win. And Lina was making me my own nao queijo pizza. I was ready for the challenge.

After the game, I took Romeo for a walk, John confirmed there was no propane by attempting to shower, and we walked over to Toronto Nights. Joe and Carla were already there and we were quickly joined by Ken&Bobby. The last time Lina held a Rodizio de Pizza she seated 70 people and she turned away another 30. This time there were only about 30 people. There was salad and garlic bread, and literally all the pizza you could eat. Ernes brought my pizza over to our table; pepperoni, bacon, pineapple, pepper, onions, and mushrooms. I couldn’t resist the salad and garlic bread (and beer) so I copped-out at five slices. Ken&Bobby each finished eight, and tied for first place.

We sat with Carla, Joe, Ken, Bobby, Xana, and Marco. We were the “English-speaking table”. Joe grew up in Providence, and Carla lived in Dartmouth, MA for a year, so there was a lot of American culture at our table. We got into a heated debate at one point about the definition of racism; which, at its core, seems to be a cultural one. What highly-sensitive American’s find racist, doesn’t seem to be racist in present-day Azorean culture. We were able to move past this increasingly-awkward and increasingly-heated debate and finish our pizza-and-beer (which felt very American). Once we were done stuffing our faces with pizza, Lina and Ernes (along with her brother Emanuel and his wife Louisa) doled out dessert: homemade cinnamon cookie ice cream, or homemade chocolate mousse. I opted for the mousse, but when Carla couldn’t finish her ice cream, I obliged her by finishing it.

We walked home full and happy.

Day Twenty Two…

Portugal: Day Twenty Two (vigesimo segundo dia)

Friday. After Romeo got his morning-relief walk, John and I set off for ALKE. After last Friday’s 7:38 mile, I wanted to see what this Friday held. John went inside to warm-up, and I hit the pavement. This time I finished in 6:47! Unfortunately, this will be the last mile I log for a while officially, because my GPS watch shits the bed on day 23.

John and I decide to do a high rep circuit. Five exercises, 20 reps, 3 rounds.

  • Squat to OH press
  • Tricep throw downs with a cable machine
  • Decline sit-ups with weight
  • Thrust frogs (I did tire flips!)
  • Reverse fly’s (I did decline push-ups)

After that, I did a three plank circuit (center, right, left @ :30 x3). John did leg lifts and suitcases.


The start of week four and we almost have a routine; Friday includes taking Romeo on a long walk to the harbor so I can do some errands and go to the fruit market. We got about halfway down the block and realized we didn’t have a poop bag, but Romeo went this morning. We decided not to worry about it. Then we got all the way down the block, and I realized I didn’t have my check book. I needed to send some cash-money home. We turned around and I ran upstairs and retrieved a poop bag, two checks, two pieces of paper, and a pen.

We walked back down to the post office. Romeo shit while I was in there, so I was glad we went back. The woman in CTT (the Portuguese USPS) didn’t speak very much English, but we managed to figure it out. She sold me two international envelopes, with postage, for €3.80. We walked to Ken&Bobby’s to grab their past-ripe bananas. I wanted to make banana bread again, but the bananas here are so small, and we actually eat a lot of bananas, we had to combine forces. This time I used 9 small bananas (three times as many as I would at home) and I doubled the other ingredients from the last time. I managed to fill my large glass baking pan, and which was enough to share with Lina and Ernes, Ken&Bobby, and still have plenty for our greedy selves.

I had my biggest night at ALKE yet: 17 women. Serenela came with a friend, and Tessa (the Italian/Belgium environmental activist) showed up again. We have a lot of fun, and tonight I was able to workout with them. I’ll post it at the bottom, so I don’t bore you.


I got to Skype with my cousin Meg for a while before John came home. We had spaghetti and meat sauce again for dinner, and then homemade cinnamon buns from Lina for dessert.

 This is why I work out:cinna


I’ve added jogging around the carpet into our routine. So we did :30, :45, and 1:00 intervals. With high knees and skips, too.

After our dynamic warm-up, we started with a core circuit:

:20 on / :10 off

  • Bicycles
  • Rev crunches (with hip lift)
  • Russian Twists
  • Suitcases
  • :30 rest


First Circuit, :30 / :15

  • Trail leg squats L (with aerobic step)
  • Trail leg squats R
  • Staggered push ups (using step)
  • Thrust frogs

x4, no rest

Second circuit, :30 / :15

  • Lateral bounds
  • Side dips R
  • Side dips L

x4, no rest

repeat core circuit.

Day Twenty One: WAIT.. what’s a kilo again?

Portugal: Day Twenty One (vigesimo primeiro dia)

As soon as I got up, I went to marinate the meat for our carne asada. It was delicious the first time we had it. I took the meat out of the freezer and took off the saran wrap. I bought a bigger package this time, and it smelled totally wrong. I flipped over the wrap to read the label. Oh, it was pork, not beef. No worries. I put the meat, two mini beers, a chopped onion, and olive oil and salt in a large glass baking dish. Romeo and I got ready to run. It had been pouring when I woke up, but it seemed to be easing up.

I wanted to do 5.0, so I took Romeo for my first two laps around the vila. Right before we got back home, the sky opened up and we got soaked. I dried and dropped Romeo off and headed back out to finish my run. Luckily, the rain eased up again and the sun came out.

When I got back, John and I headed off for ALKE Fitness. I considered myself warm, so I foam rolled while John rode the bike.

We did 3 rounds of two tri-sets:

  • DB Bench x15
  • Box blast w/weight x10E
  • Decline sit-up w/weight x15
  • Single Leg RDL x15E
  • Single Arm bent row x15E
  • SB Pikes x15

I have been trying to figure out the KG dumbbells since we got here: I fully understand the rate of kilogram:pound. It is 2.2 lbs for each kg, i.e. a 5kg plate weighs 11lbs. However, I was convinced that a 5kg dumbbell also weighed 11lbs and couldn’t figure out why I FELT SO WEAK. Why could I barely throw up 15kgs total (7.5kg each… approx 16.5lbs) dumbbells on the bench when I could throw up 50lbs (two 25lb dumbbells) at home? I kept asking John: does the handle weight a lot? What is the difference? The 5kg plates don’t feel as heavy as the 5kg dumbbells, right?

Math is hard enough, but when I’m trying to catch my breath and keep up with John it is almost impossible. On my third round I got through 7 DB bench presses before I almost dropped the weight. I switched them out for the last few reps. What was my problem?! After John and I discussed for a moment it hit me: a 5kg dumbell has two 5kg plates on each end. Meaning it weighs 22lbs, not 11lbs. And the 7.5KG dumbbells I had were twice that; I was throwing up 66lbs, not 33lbs! While my biceps were beginning to hypertrophy, my brain was beginning to atrophy.

I felt like the opposite of this: Read. More. Books. I downloaded Freakonomics to make up for my downward spiraling intelligence.

After the gym, I cut up more veggies for our carne asada. I quickly realized we were going to have way more food this time around. I met Bobby at the gym to commandeer his speaker and I invited him & Ken over for dinner. After I taught at ALKE, I went home and added the potatoes, carrots, garlic and churrizo to the meat and onion mixture that had been cooking for a few hours. I Skyped with my ex-ex-ex-roomie Cathy in San Diego.

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 8.38.07 PMTiny little me and John in the corner. If you can’t tell, I am repping the Red Sox! It didn’t work this time, as this was right before Thursdays’ Game Two.

Ken&Bobby had gone to the juniors’ training with John and they all came home around 9:00pm. We ate the carne asade with an entire package of rice and the two bottles of €1.89 wine I got from the store under their apartment earlier. We finished the night at Pic-Nic with some cappuccinos and pastries. I have increased my galao intake to two per day, since my milk-hives seem to be getting smaller.

ALKE workout:

We did a cardio circuit first:

:35 on / :15 off

  • Box blasts
  • Squat jumps
  • Mountain climbers
  • Full sit ups
  • 1:00 jog around room


Then, we did a strength circuit, :35/:15

  • OH tricep ext
  • Frontal raises
  • Uneven squats, R
  • Uneven squats, L
  • SB leg curls
  • SB push-ups
  • Alt v-ups
  • Plank

x3, no rest

Day Twenty (Ponta Delgada with the girls)

Portugal: Days Twenty (vigesimo dia) Ponta Delgada with the girls 

I got up early enough to shower, walk Romeo, have some bolos levedos and um maca for breakfast, and put away the laundry I did the night before. If we use the washer and dryer (or electricity in general) after 10:00pm it is cheaper. Carla, with Lina sitting shotgun, picked me up in her Mercedes wagon, but we only got about halfway up lomba de cavaleiro before Carla decided we weren’t going to make it. We were putt-putting up the hills and she said something was wrong with her car. We turned around and traded cars with her mom (who friended me on Facebook, found a really old picture of me, and commented on it: “Hi Liza, I don’t speak English”). After that, we were on our way. Again.

We had to drop Carla’s Honey off first. Honey is her six-year-old French Poodle, who needed to be groomed. Honey is 9kg (about 20lbs). I told Lina and Carla that before John and I moved to Povoacao, we were looking for apartments near Boston. I always told potential landlords and leasing agents that we had a “small, adult dog”. They began laughing and saying things like “he’s not small!!”. All of a sudden, Carla stopped laughing, “Wait. That’s what they told me about your dog when they asked to rent!” Luckily, Carla is a dog-lover and when she saw him for the first time she was only worried that the apartment would be too small for Romeo. It is not, but now that he knows how to get out, he thinks he is big and bad.

We went to Lina’s house next to drop off Tuna Caserole for Xana. Then we hit the mall. This time we had lunch in the food court at a place called Hamburgerology that serves ridiculous Azorean beef burgers. Carla and I got ours on the super bread and Lina had hers with a side of rice, with some veggies and cheese, mediterranean style. Food-court-food here is not like American food-court-food. Sure, there is a Burger King and a Pizza Hut, but the burgers today and the bifanas on Saturday are actually fresh, delicious, and locally grown (or bred). After the mall, Carla had to get her nails done. She dropped me and Lina off and we walked down to the marina again and she showed me another small mall down near the water. We walked and talked in the sunshine for about an hour before we went to get Carla, who wasn’t done yet. After another short stroll, we met Carla and took off to get a pastry. Pao de Rei is the same shop we went to before (the king’s bread). I got something that was like a Boston Cream Doughnut minus the chocolate glaze but filled with crème de ovo (egg cream, which you find a lot here, and is delicious), I also picked up some rolls for home this time. While I am trying to practice my Portuguese, and I do try to order when we go out, I asked Lina to help me order rolls. I’m still learning!!

Before we went to get Honey, we stopped at a place called the Cash-and-Carry so Lina could get some supplies for Toronto Nights. They are having a Pizza Rodizio Saturday night, which is like an all-you-can-eat (and drink) dinner for €8.50. Lina is making me a pizza with nao queijo.


This place is like a BJs or a Costco with very fresh produce. Lastly, we went to go pick up Honey and head back to Povoacao. This time I was careful not to look at my phone so I didn’t get sick in the backseat. I got home with time to spare before class, which if you care to read, will be at the bottom of this post. John had a game against Aguia (the only team they’ve beaten so far!) so didn’t come home until after midnight.

When I got home from ALKE, I made myself some white rice and (now that I have a can-opener!) some beans. Well, I thought they were chickpeas, on the label it looked like there was some meat, but I thought that was a serving suggestion. It was not. Along with the chickpeas, there were hunks of beef or pork(?), some black sausage (blood pudding?), and what I thought was squid. I’m OK with eating local fare, but I like to know what I’m eating. I picked at it a little, mostly ate the rice, then gave up and had cereal with soy milk. I went down to Pic-Nic and had um copo vinho branco (a glass of white wine) and did some blogging. Boa Noite!

Tonight, after we warmed up, we did eighteen exercises, each for 1:00:

1. Push ups 2. FWD lunges 3. Burpee SPLAT 4. Navy Seals 5. Box runs, right leg 6. Box runs, left leg 7. Thrusters 8. Right side plank 9. Left side plank 10. SB roll outs 11. Plank 12. Full sit ups 13. Step-ups 14. Sky divers 15. Drop squats 16. Hip bridge 17. Leg lowers 18. Plank

Day Nineteen! Payback for Romeo.

Day Nineteen (decimo-nono dia)

After Romeo’s shenanigans yesterday and generally being a pain-in-the-ass now that he knows the world is bigger than our apartment, I punished him with a four-mile run.

Once I got home, Barbie&Ken stopped by and invited us for a walk down the beach. I had just gotten out of the shower and hadn’t eaten yet, so I told John to go without me. I had a minor freak-out after he left: I couldn’t find Romeo! Then I realized his leash was gone and ascertained that John had taken him. That pooch didn’t move for the rest of the day after that.

John came back and we went to Pic-Nic for galaos. I had been trying to cut back: before we moved I had not eaten any dairy (except for chocolate, which doesn’t count) in over 9 months. I am still not eating cheese, but I decided that Azorean milk would be OK. On Sunday night, I noticed a little rash on the left side of my chest. It wasn’t itchy or red, but just bumpy. I vowed to only have one galao per day, and if by the end of the week the hives were still there, I was going to have to cut out dairy again. I have been drinking a lot of verde cha (green tea). We saw Carla at Pic-Nic and we finalized our plans to head into Ponta Delgada on Wednesday. 

I know I have mentioned this before, but we live across from a church. A BIG church. A church with bells. These particular church bells rings every hour. They ring a shorter tune on the half hour. They ring once on the quarter hour. They don’t bother me–in fact, I am basically oblivious to their existence. On Saturday night at Lina’s, Carla’s husband asked us about them. Carla and Joe lived in our apartment for five years before they bought a house in lomba de loucao and started renting this apartment out. Apparently, the bells drove Joe crazy. “I like them,” I said, “I never notice them at night.” Lina said they don’t ring from 9:00pm-9:00am. They only added the bells a few years ago, and residents and business owners signed a petition to get rid of them! They drive people nuts. John said he hears them in the morning when he is trying to sleep, and they bother him enough to warrant shutting our bedroom window-doors. I remain completely oblivious to the bells, but when teenage hooligans walk down our rua at 4:30am, THAT I hear.

Because Mira Mar has a game on Wednesday this week, John had no practice Tuesday. After my class at ALKE, I met the guys at Pic-Nic to “watch the Arsenal game” i.e. work-on-my-blog. John and I went home after Arsenal lost (to who, I couldn’t tell you) to make our own Pic-Nic burgers. We toasted the papa secos (bun-like bread) and piled them high with two ¼ patties, a fried egg, and ham (and cheese for John) with ketchup and mayo. They were incredible. Lina had also left some fresh basil and oregano from her garden at the gym for us, so I cut up a tomato, two cloves of garlic, a whole bunch of basil, and covered it in olive oil before I went to my class earlier. We cut up another papa secos and had our bruschetta. It was also amazing.

I Skyped with Anna and we watched Stuck in Love and fell asleep. Boa Noite!


Day Eighteen! Runaway pooch and stealing after dark.

Portugal: Day Eighteen (decimo-oitavo dia)

Monday morning. John and I leisurely got up and made our way to ALKE where we met Barbie&Ken. I am very excited to use the new jump ropes we bought in Ponta Delgada on Saturday. John and I warmed up with them outside, and after a minute of shooting gravel into my legs, I moved onto the wooden platform in front of Toronto Nights’ back door. This platform happens to be fenced in. Later on in our workout, it become known as the “Burpee Box”. After we all warmed up, we did four rounds:

  • Burpee SPLAT x15
  • Box jumps/squat jumps x15… read: oversized curb jumps
  • Curl-squat-press x15
  • Pull-ups xMAX

I took out the curl & the press, but amped up my weight for the C-S-P, and I only did pull-ups (MAX=7) for rounds two & four. For rounds one & three I did 15 decline push-ups. #idowhatiwant

In between rounds 2 & 3 I did 2:00 of jumping rope inside the Burpee Box. There is no room to do burpees inside, and they hurt on the gravel. The platform makes for a nice spot, but the fence makes you feel like a caged rat. I finished with three one minute planks (each side), supersetted with 1:00 of jumping rope. Barbie&Ken showered and we all met at Pic-Nic.

We sat lazily outside for almost an hour. A couple from Belgium who we have talked to a few times are there (he is a soccer fan). Tessa, the female half of this environmentalist couple who are in Povoacao temporarily saving an endangered bird species, came up to me and asked about my class at ALKE. She promised to see me there at 6:30pm. Monday is the day we go shopping on Mira Mar’s tab, so we pay up at Pic-Nic and leave to get Romeo so John can walk him while I’ll shop with the boys.

John and I open the door to our apartment and are surprised to find that Romeo is not sleeping in his normal spot at the bottom of the stairs. John goes up and into the bedroom, calling for Romeo. He’s not under the bed, he’s not on the back porch, he’s not in the tub, he’s not upstairs. Romeo. Is. Gone.

We have been waiting for this moment since we got here, but especially since Saturday night when we heard him jumping at the door when we were outside waiting for Lina and Ernes. He used to open our office door all the time, and if he was lucky enough, some clueless stranger or pack of oblivious teenagers would hold the lobby door open to ease his escape. He jumps up onto the handle and once it falls vertically, he walks backwards. He figured out that our apartment door works the same way.

I took off with Romeo’s leash toward the guys’ apartment to enlist their help and John took off toward the beach. We haven’t taken him many places, and he is too much of a scaredy-cat to stray. Bobby, Ken, and I head toward the square. Someone has already called Fatima, Marcelo’s mom who works below the guys’ apartment, to let her know they saw Romeo by Jardim, a restaurant near Romeo’s friend Lele’s storefront. I decide to pass by our apartment in case John found him. I had our keys and the leash, so if John had found him he would be holding him by the scruff waiting for me. There was no sign of them so I dropped my keys on our stoop in hopes that John would see them. I turned to walk toward Jardim and there was Romeo! Running straight up our street into my arms. Douchebag. I hooked him in his leash and we headed off to find John. We found him in the square a few minutes later.

With that excitement over, we headed back up to the guys’ apartment to food shop. When we finally did make it home, Romeo had the nerve to try to open the door while we were home! John put a chair downstairs until we did something more permanent.

IMG_8445Douche. Bag.

I sent a Facebook message to my new Portuguese friends who are moms asking for a baby gate. I figured we could put it on the stairs. Even if Romeo could jump it, he wouldn’t jump it to land downstairs. Carla told me we had a deadbolt. HA. We can use our key from the inside to lock it—I had been wondering why there was a keyhole on the inside of the door…

We ate and I showered and went to sit in the square to work on my blog in the sun. Staying true to Azorean weather, about an hour after I’d been sitting, the sun was quickly replaced with scary clouds and it began to rain. I headed home and got ready for my class at ALKE.

IMG_0311My workspace.

IMG_031213 women, 5 stations: jump rope, plate swings, lateral box blasts, dips, drop squats. :40 on / :20 off. Four rounds.

IMG_0320Supersetted with 1:00 planks. #beasting

Since it’s the first day of my second week there, I can get a little bit more creative with the women. Instead of all doing the same exercise at the same time, I was able to separate them into five stations and cycle them through. We have more and more fun each time I am there. Everyone speaks (or at least understands) English, but many women have been helping here and there: “vez is time!” and “serie is round!”.

John had practice so I had some time to kill after class and before he came home for dinner. I took Romeo for a walk down to the gas station. John and I have been planning a secret mission that we can only carry out at night, and thus far we’ve been too lazy or non-committed after practice and after dinner to finish it. Since I had the time and it was dark, I decided to carry out the mission solo.

I have been bitching and bitching about the leash we bought Romeo before we left; it is really long and the handle-length is adjustable. I just couldn’t see the point. Until. Until I got tired of pulling him while running, so I adjusted the length of the handle until it fit around my waist and we run connected. See picture below.

 IMG_1709The poop-bag doubles as a decorative bow.

I put Romeo around my waist and walked toward the center of our mission: a large abandoned tire near the gas station. It is perfect for tire flips and will be a great addition to our ALKE workouts. We are slowly acquiring the equipment to which we’ve grown accustomed: resistance bands, jump ropes, TRX… a tire is a must-have. I flipped it up and began rolling it toward ALKE. A few cars slowed down to give me funny looks, but for the most part people left me alone. Just when I was getting to the nasty hill-of-a-driveway up to ALKE, our friend who works at Pic-Nic and puts bacon on our burgers was descending the hill post-workout. He took the tire from me and beasted it up the hill. Mission completed.

I went home and made pasta and sauce for me andJohn and to eat. Each time I’ve made it here, I’ve made it differently. This time I browned the beef, added an onion and a clove of garlic, added salt (and a little sugar), and tossed in the polpe de tomate. Success.