January 21, 2013

Southern Weekend in Chas

After the marathon (full race report coming tomorrow!), I headed back to my hotel to shower… and stretch. I was actually quite sore, and I had an annoying pain in my left quad. It didn’t feel like normal marathon soreness, and the flat course didn’t really lend itself to quad pain, so I was (and am) still perplexed as to what it could be. It’s very concentrated in one small area, but also incredibly tender to the touch – so even brushing my leg with my hand hurt. What the heck? For now, I ignored it besides some gentle stretching – even foam rolling was far too painful.

One of my best friends from college, Kelli, recently got her Bikram yoga certification and moved down to South Carolina to teach. She had only been in Columbia for two weeks, and so she was excited to see a friendly face – and offered to come spend the weekend in Charleston with me. Amazing! Both of us had been a bit neglectful about keeping in touch, so I couldn’t wait to catch up on everything.

While I waited for her to arrive, I also got some time to myself to relax and pretty much not do anything. While I always feel guilty about taking trips (since I’m not home during the week and any weekend travel means two or more weeks away), I have to admit, I love how freeing it is to be away somewhere and therefore not have any people to see or home tasks to do. (Okay, besides internet ones.) 30 Rock marathon, here I come!

But when Kelli arrived, I was more than ready for some excitement… and some food. After running a marathon and not really eating since (beside a small bowl of shrimp/grits at the finish; I love Southern races!), I was starving. After a failed attempt at Japanese food (Hibachi Grill had great Yelp reviews that praised the sushi sushi, but turned out to be a nearly-deserted and dingy place that had since stopped serving sushi!), we hit on Wreckfish Grill, also in the North Charleston area where we were staying.

Wreckfish turned out to be a cheesy seafood place that reminded me of a cross between Red Lobster and Friday’s (especially since we sat at the bar), but the food was decent and the flirty bartender made us some deliciously fruity drinks – just what two single girls needed for our (low-key) night on the town 🙂 Plus, in keeping with Southern tradition, I dove into some mac & cheese and hush puppies, while Kelli tackled some cheese grits as her side. Yum!

Heading back to the hotel, we savored one more glass of wine from the lounge as we finished our gossip and tucked ourselves in early. With my marathon and Kelli’s two Bikram classes taught that morning before making the drive to Charleston, we were spent! And since Kelli had talked me into trying my first Bikram class the next morning, I wanted to get as much sleep as possible.

I woke up fully rested at 8:15am, well before my 9am alarm, and so enjoyed some time lazing around the room before getting dressed for Bikram. I knew that Bikram was going to be hot, but it still took a lot of coaxing from Kelli to convince me that a sports bra and no shirt were the way to go (vs the strappy Pavitra tank I wanted to wear). Luckily, the combination of the marathon and the alcohol had (temporarily) cut some water weight from my tummy, so I didn’t look quite as bad as I feared. I was proud of myself for taking the bold step to go shirtless!

We arrived at the Bikram Charleston downtown studio to find a beautiful space and a very friendly instructor at the front desk. Upon hearing it was my first time ever trying Bikram, she was very welcoming and friendly, and made it seem like not nearly the big deal I had been anticipating. (See: me in the car grilling Kelli and also Googling “Bikram yoga first time tips”). After filling out a waiver and paying for the class, Charlotte sent me on my way to the locker room with a really cool rental mat that was in the form of a really thick terry cloth towel. If I hadn’t already known how much I would be sweating, I now had a big clue!

The studio was gorgeous, with cedar beams and gorgeously molded ceilings – but I was really thrown off by the smell in the hot room. It smelled like ammonia, and at first, I thought it was just the sweat of hundreds of yogis before me – until Kelli whispered to me “ew, it smells like a tanning salon” and I realized that it wasn’t supposed to be that way. That yucky smell turned out to be the worst part of the experience, and now that I know that it’s not common, I’ll give it a one time pass.

While I had initially feared the super-long 90 minute class, Kelli had sneakily provided me with hints on certain mile markers of the class. “When you get to triangle, that’s the halfway point. When you move on to the floor exercises, you’re more than halfway done. And when you get to rabbit, there are only ten minutes left.” I was lucky to already know what triangle was from previous yoga sessions, because the instructor didn’t call out the name. When we got to triangle, I found myself thinking “oh my gosh I still am only halfway done?”, but the second half passed by very quickly – and it was quite a pleasant surprise when the instructor announced that we were now going into rabbit. That hadn’t been nearly as bad as I thought! I would definitely try Bikram again – though probably only on a weekend, as I’m not keen to take a 5am class in order to make it to work on time.

Finally, post-class, Kelli and I headed for brunch to a restaurant that several readers suggested – which turned out to be the highlight of my weekend. Hominy Grill was only a few blocks away from the Bikram studio, and I couldn’t get over the deliciousness of the Pine Bark Stew and tender Southern biscuit I tried. (Note: not sure why it was called Pine Bark Stew, as I detected no bark and just lots of yummy seafood in a tomato sauce, with a poached egg on top to make it more brunch-y.) Meanwhile, while the first bite of my biscuit seemed to be somewhat plain, the inner texture of it was the softest, most perfect biscuit I’ve ever had – and when I topped it with the provided homemade blackberry jam, I realized that any more flavor would have detracted from the sweet fruitiness of the jam. I was really sorry I hadn’t heard about Hominy Grill sooner, as I probably would have been there every single day of this trip and eaten a dozen of those biscuits as my carb loading. On second thought, maybe it’s good that I didn’t hear about it until the end of my trip – now, it’s a great excuse to go back! Thank you, Greta and Amy Lauren, for suggesting such a wonderful spot.

After a drive around the Battery/downtown area, we unfortunately had to head back to our hotel to head out of Charleston. It had been a very short trip (too short!), but now that Kelli lives in South Carolina, I’m sure I’ll find an excuse to get back there soon. For now, it’s off to the slightly rougher and twangier city of Dallas, to gear up for some early Monday morning meetings 🙂


4 thoughts on “Southern Weekend in Chas”

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed your trip to Chas! I used to have a membership to the dt studio there and can honestly say I never noticed a bad smell =/ Brikram kicks your butt. Especially when you go the day after a marathon! Good for you. Hopefully the mysterious injury gets better and isn’t anything too serious

  2. Emily, as I mentioned, I thought the smell was ammonia from people’s sweat that had seeped into the carpet (EW!). Afterward, my friend and I discussed, and I think it’s more likely that they did some sort of once-a-year deep cleaning with a chemical that rubbed me the wrong way. Especially hearing from you that it was never a problem!

  3. Glad you had fun! Can’t wait to hear about the race. Hey, whenever you get free time during the week let me know. Found a fabulous sushi spot not far from Flywheel and I already want to go back!! 🙂

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