MTR Week 3

Week 3 of marathon training started off well with a 10 miler—but then hit a rest plateau during the work week. I did however manage to rake up 18.7 miles for the week, thanks to the fact I was able to weekend warrior it out…

 Snacks after the run!!

Snacks after the group run!!

Sunday – LSD 10 miler at 9:25/mi, with the team

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday - Rest

Thursday – Rest

Friday5 miler solo morning run at 9:11/mi

Saturday – 3.7 miler solo morning run at 9:25/mi


Total Mileage -> 18.7 miles

Sunday’s 10 miler was a run along Woodchip Trail that crossed through Manhattan/Hermosa/Redondo beaches. Since the trail itself is about 4 miles one way, we had to run an extra 1 mile on the pavement before returning back to home base. We did get to stop by the pier for about ten seconds, breathe in the ocean air, and use that fresh energy to power ourselves back to the starting point. 

Overall, it was a great run, and even though I had some slight tummy issues, it was nothing debilitating fortunately! I was one of the first few girls to finish, and since it was one of the faster guys’ turn to release the snacks for us post-run, I was able to get first dibs ;) !

Since my Dad was in town from Monday through Wednesday, I put running on hold. Thursday was a jam-packed day regarding school-related stuff, so even though I did wake up quite early, I wasn’t in the mood to set out for an early morning run. On Friday, I managed to garner the energy I needed for a morning 5 miler, and was happy with the faster pace I must have gained from the four consecutive rest days! Saturday’s run was also planned out as a 5 miler, but I was feeling off in the morning (and actually ended up going back to sleep after waking up at 6 still feeling dead tired), so I was satisfied with knocking out a little under 4 miles.

I am looking forward to week 4 though, since I will be running a turkey trot and (plan to) run along old, familiar routes towards the end of the week. All those miles—and good home-cooked food—to be excited about ;) !

RAW-ful, Restful Weekend

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is merely a week away, and that we have already passed the mid-November mark! It seems that with the holidays coming closer and closer, everyone around me is starting to be a little bit more relaxed when it comes to work…or maybe it’s just me :P

Last weekend was very much a relaxed one for me, and I was able to do things at my my own, slow pace. Friday night was a cloudy one, and after a short day in lab, I came home to a cozy crockpot dinner, a pint of coffee Artic Zero, and a taped episode of Shark Tank. On Saturday morning, I woke up leisurely and after having a cup of coffee, decided to not go for a run, but instead review my lectures from the past week before heading out to lunch.

 A low-key dinner on Friday night, and some light studying on Saturday morning.

A low-key dinner on Friday night, and some light studying on Saturday morning.

I was particularly excited about my lunch destination that Saturday, since it was a relatively new raw, vegan place nestled on Melrose Ave.

 Entrance to Grassroots Alchemy

Entrance to Grassroots Alchemy

Grassroots Alchemy—the name itself sounds so unique and mystical! And the ambiance was a pure reflection of that…

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There was outdoor seating as well, but I obviously chose to stay inside. Plus, I had the whole place to myself since everybody else was distracted by Urth Caffe across the street :P

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I ordered the Habibi Plate at the counter, and then asked to use the restroom. I was directed towards the back of the restaurant and told to use this magical-looking key to open the door…

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Even the bathroom is treated with respect!

After freshening up, I found a seat at the counter near the front window (it was that or eat awkwardly on the couch since there were no tables in sight). It was interesting to watch people walk down the street in fitness garb or yoga wear. Since it was just past noon on a Saturday, you could safely assume people were done with their morning workouts—I was just surprised no one came in to refuel with a raw food dish, or even a cold-pressed juice!

Ah well, at least I enjoyed having the space to myself, and finally feasting on this beauty when it arrived:

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The Habibi Platter, which included curried hummus, raw falafel, tabouli, raw crackers, and tahini dressing.

(Almost) too good to eat…almost.

Habibi Plate Close-Up

I loved all of the main components of the plate, but I especially loved mixing the curried hummus with the raw falafel and crackers. The falafel was quite doughy since it was not baked or fried, but the crackers balanced things out texture-wise with their crunchiness and full-bodied flavor.

After my exceptional lunch experience, I spent some time walking down Melrose before heading home. I wanted to head back early and rest up before running 10 miles the next day!

So yes, my Sunday at least had a productive start with a 10 mile long run with my running group, and once I got back around 11am, I couldn’t resist taking a nap! I woke up a little after noon and slowly got ready to head out for lunch and also grab a few necessities from the grocery store.

I wanted to refuel properly, and was craving a huge salad with filling ingredients. I also felt like hoping on the rail, so towards North Hollywood I went, stopping at the station near Universal Studios to visit SunCafe Organic.

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From the outside, it didn’t look like much, but I shouldn’t let appearances fool me too quickly! I made my way to the entrance after winding around the outdoor patio seating area. The inside was dimly-lit, but quite spacious and cozy.

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The bathroom was well-kept and cutely decorated as well.

 I was quite fascinated by the faucet.

I was quite fascinated by the faucet.

But…back to the main point of my visit: satisfying my salad craving. I was able to do just that by ordering the Kale Colossus.

 Kale Colossus, which included massaged kale, soy chorizo, mushrooms, bell peppers, pico de gallo, three dressings, raisins, and three slices of banana delicately placed on top :)

Kale Colossus, which included massaged kale, soy chorizo, mushrooms, bell peppers, pico de gallo, three dressings, raisins, and three slices of banana delicately placed on top :)

It came to my table crazy fast, that even my waiter was surprised when he came by to check on me. Seeing as it was smaller than I expected, I did my best not to demolish it in three bites or less even though I wanted to.

Kale Colossus Close Up

I took my time eating this salad, and felt completely nourished by the time I finished. After paying the bill, I headed over to Ralph’s before heading home as the sun set.

Even with my nap, I still felt quite exhausted from the weekend’s events, so I went to bed at the early hour of 10pm…even though, I must say that this particular weekend was a much more tame one in comparison to the others I’ve had to-date!

Grassroots Alchemy on Urbanspoon

SunCafe Organic on Urbanspoon

Swiftwick Socks

As a runner, it makes sense for me to have an innumerable pair of socks, but I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping even my worn out socks. I literally wait until threads start coming loose, or holes larger than a quarter start to make there appearance. I realize that with marathon training currently happening, I should probably be more concerned with anything that concerns my feet—running shoes and socks, especially.

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My sock “collection” is also of a wide variety. I have pairs ranging from ankle to mid-calve height, and I usually end up rolling down the later so that they end up being ankle socks :P . I recently had the opportunity to try out a pair of PURSUIT Swiftwick socks, which are designed for active lifestyles and athletes of all levels.

I chose to try out the “Zero Heather” which are shown here, meaning that the socks hit right below the ankle and come in a gray color. 

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Of course there are other sizes and other colors, and the different kinds available are ready to view on their website

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My specific pair also came with a specific breakdown of how they should feel compared to other socks in the product line. Scoring a 10/10 in the wicking category made it more attractive as a sock to use on long runs!

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At first glance, the socks looked thick, but light in color and soft to the touch.

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I tried them on for my 9 miler, and love how they fit just below the ankle as promised.

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When I first put them on, I could feel the compression in the arch area especially. Since my arches have the tendency to get sore or dull aches when I amp up the mileage in a short amount of time, the extra support can’t hurt! The green S at the bottom of the sock was random, but cute. As I was getting used to the socks, it felt like I was walking on freshly-cut grass or artificial turf, but then the feeling habituated once I got going on the run. 

Overall, I found these socks to provide great compression while helping to avoid sticky or sweaty feet at the end of a run. I’ll have to see how they measure up in durability as I wash/run in them over time, but from first impression, I think I can safetly assume I’ll be holding onto this pair for a while. 

What’s your go-to sock height?

MTR: Week 2

I woke up last Sunday morning to see clouds outside my window, but fortunately the temperature was not too cold. I was able to head out to Santa Monica with my team for a 9 miler in some Under Armour running tights and an old race tee—no layers necessary :D !

The 9 miler itself was a two-part run, with the first part being an out-and-back along the beach (7 miles), and then finishing up the last two miles down Ocean Ave. It would have been the perfect run—if it were not for the mild humidity (sticky skin = eww), the entitled bikers who think they own the entire strip of road along the beach, and the random staircase we had to climb back up to the pier, just so we could finish two more miles (slightly ruined my mojo).

 Walking back from the LSD on Sunday.

Walking back from the LSD on Sunday.

At least we had snacks and water when we finished, and I decided to stick around in the area after the run (hey, now I only had to pay one-way for the bus ride home!). I decided to make the ~40 minute walk over to Venice Beach so I could have lunch at Seed Kitchen.

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Welcome to Venice.

Walking near the beach was quite a site once I hit Venice. There were street artists lining the road, as well as crowds consisting of skateboarders, tourists, and the occasional verbal brawlers. But after I turned left, away from the beach, I ended up walking along a quiet street of local shops and cafes. Seed Kitchen was nearby.

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Vegan deliciousness or veggie delite? Hmmm…

After stepping inside, I was somewhat taken by surprise since I expected the restaurant to be a lot larger than it actually was. It did have that cozy feel to it however.

seedkitchen

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I took a look at the menu at the front counter, and decided to go for the BBQ Tempeh Bowl.

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I don’t know why I can’t resist ordering some kind of bowl dish from vegan restaurants. Perhaps it’s because I know I won’t be disappointed—or at least not entirely—since I can expect a variety of ingredients.

 BBQ Tempeh Bowl - a gluten-free bowl with steamed kale, bean sprouts, carrot shreds, and bbq tempeh served over organic brown rice :)

BBQ Tempeh Bowl – a gluten-free bowl with steamed kale, bean sprouts, carrot shreds, and bbq tempeh served over organic brown rice :)

Other than the small size (compared to the price) and the BBQ sauce actually tasting more like a tangy tomato sauce, this bowl did NOT disappoint.

 Just look at that tempeh!

Just look at that tempeh!

I ravaged through the tempeh too quickly—as I didn’t have any to mix with my rice that was pressed to the bottom of the bowl!

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Ah well, the rice was good on its own anyways :)

Even though I felt like I fueled up well after the 9 miler on Sunday, my energy the rest of the week didn’t measure up, at least in the beginning.

Sunday – LSD 9 miler at 9:30/mi, with the team

Monday – Rest

Tuesday3 miler early morning solo-run at 9:38/mi

Wednesday - Rest

Thursday – Rest

Friday - 5 miler not-so-early morning solo-run at 9:13/mi :D

Saturday – Rest (originally planned a 6 miler)


Total Mileage -> 17 miles

I had to nix my planned early weekday morning runs since I felt too tired, especially from Tues-Thurs, and I think that may have affected my pace on Tuesday. I originally planned for it to be a 4 miler, but I was surprised I was even able to make it to 3. It was definitely not my best run for the week, since instead of feeling pumped and energized, I wanted to get back into bed after the run!

At least Friday’s 5 miler proved to be much better. I got up at my own time since I didn’t have class (just lab), and did not try to rush myself to get out the door and back before a certain time. On Saturday, I felt lazy tired again, and used my morning to catch up on studying before heading out to lunch. I also “excused” myself out of the run since I was going to run 10 miles the next day with the team! 

Do you like taking unplanned rest days, or find that it throws you off?

Seed Kitchen on Urbanspoon

TMI Survey

When I saw this survey on Irina’s blog, I knew I had to complete it myself. It’s been a while since I last took a survey too…


Making

…do with what I have. I don’t say this in a depressing way, but rather I like the challenge of living on a budget and keeping track of my spending. So far, I’ve been quite frugal, and have actually saved more money than I expected. It’s also a way for me to figure out what I need on a weekly basis, and I’ve been able to avoid wasting things this way.  So far, so good :D

Cooking

…crockpot-based  dinners during the week, and not cooking on the weekend because I’d rather taste what LA has to offer. 

Drinking

 …coffee with So Delicious French Vanilla Coconut Milk Creamer. Where have you been all my life??

 1 tablespoon goes a long way! It tastes great in chamomile tea, as well as coffee :) !

1 tablespoon goes a long way! It tastes great in chamomile tea, as well as coffee :) !

Reading

…any running/fitness magazines I can get my hands on. I love reading them before going to bed, or when I’m on the bus driving to campus in the mornings. 

 Case in point: free magazines I scooped up from Vitamin Shoppe :P

Case in point: free magazines I scooped up from Vitamin Shoppe :P

Wanting

…a step stool, so I can store more stuff in my kitchen cabinets. I finally got a seat cushion after a countless number of days where studying at the kitchen table resulted in a sore behind.

 So cute, and so comfy!

So cute, and so comfy!

Looking

…forward to seeing the fam a couple of times between now and the new year. 

Playing

…music on my weekday early morning runs. That, and treating myself to Quest bars and coffee before starting the rest of my day are great motivators for me to get out the door!

Wasting  

…time when I get home after a long day. It makes sense to recap on the day’s lectures, but no. My brain immediately goes into lay-zee mode once it hits 6pm. It also doesn’t help that I instantly change into my PJs either…

Planning

…on hosting my girls in December for a week! I just need them to be able to coordinate themselves and find their way to LA first.

Running

…in the mornings as the sun rises. You cannot say you lived until you do this.  

Enjoying

…each day in this sunny, warm-even-in-November city. Being able to run in the morning without putting on layers—but I do want to breakout my armwarmers again!  

Waiting

…for classes to be done! I’m already planning (in my mind) what to do/where to go in the city and surrounding area with the time I have off. Perhaps I can finally get an OC trip in…

Liking

…these KIND Strong Bars that I got as freebies from this race. To be honest, they all pretty much taste the same (except for the jalapeno flavor, which tastes similar to the other two, but spicier), but that doesn’t mean they don’t taste good! They remind me of Nature Valley’s trail mix bars, except more savory of course. 

 Flavors: Roasted Jalapeno, Honey Mustard, and Hickory Smoked

Flavors: Roasted Jalapeno, Honey Mustard, and Hickory Smoked

Wondering

…about where I should take my friends when they (hopefully) visit me next month. I’ve been urging them to make requests, but so far, all I know is that my sister wants me to take her to a “legit” bakery. I have a list…  

Loving

…how I’ve been spoiled with free food, pretty much at least once a day, and at least 3-5 times during a week!

 Some free food from last week!

Some free food from last week!

Hoping

…that my marathon training goes well. Right now it just seems like I’m running like normal, but come January when we start to hit the numbers beyond 13, I’m not sure how I’ll feel!

Marveling

…how DTLA looks from the freeway. I need to remember to never take this for granted. 

Needing

…see “Wanting”, above.

Smelling

…cooked cabbage when I come back to the apartment on weeknights. I use it as a base in my crockpot dinners, and I’m glad my roommate doesn’t (seem to) mind!

Wearing

…dresses on the weekends because between lab/school/running, there isn’t another appropriate time!

Following

…the news, or at least attempting to. Since I’ve recently been caught up with things occurring in my own life, I’m waaay behind on current events. It now feels like I’m reading more about history than current events :P .

Noticing

…how irritating undergrads can be (not saying they all are ;) ). I live in an apartment complex that mostly houses undergrads, and it amazes me how they are so hyper all.the.time. Yeah, I was an undergrad once as well, but I don’t think I was as annoying (or messy, or narcissistic).

Knowing

…that time is flying by so fast, and that this amazing year is almost over! I also know that I don’t want it to end so quickly, but that I at least can look back on the many posts from this year if I ever want to “relive” the life-changing moments that took place in 2014.

Thinking

…about where I was two years ago: in my last year of undergrad, dreaming about something bigger, and where I (want/hope/expect) to be two years from now: only time will tell!

Feeling

…content, happy, anxious, grateful.

Writing

…more blog posts. I seem to be behind on what I want to share ever since moving to the city! I also need to go back to writing in my personal journal, I haven’t touched it since I moved…

Opening

…emails through the phone. It can be such a pain.  :/

Missing

…going to the gym with my Dad, my fluffball of a cat, and the rain. 

Feel free to take the survey yourself!

Little Tokyo Treats

I’m glad to say that this past weekend was mine to seize yet again! Many of my classmates and I were wiped out the entire week leading up to this particular weekend, since we were slowly getting over the onslaught of exams from the week before. Needless to say, it was particularly difficult for me to stay awake through most of my lectures—good thing we have recordings!

To be honest, I didn’t have anything specific planned until I learned about the Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt. Even though I missed out on the pin-collecting insanity (most of the participating restaurants distributed collectible pins with their Hello Kitty-themed dishes, and they unsurprisingly ran out right away), I most certainly knew that I wanted to try some of the Hello Kitty food items before the promo ends on November 21st.

Many of the participating restaurants were in the Downtown/Little Tokyo area, and that’s when I realized why not just explore the area while I’m at it? So after some coffee and my morning run, I walked into the heart of downtown, and slightly east towards Little Tokyo. 

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It was also 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and I was wearing shorts and a tank top. November in LA is all I can say…

When I turned the corner into the Village Plaza, I found one of the target locations of the Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt—Cafe Dulce.

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It was the exact place I needed to visit to get a hold of an actual Hello Kitty donut!

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Even the front counter had a HK-themed pumpkin on display. The cafe had a long, stretched layout, with the seating options being limited to a counter with bar stools near the front window, or outside. I made no hesitations in my order, even though there were so many cute desserts to choose from! 

I chose to get the chocolate (versus strawberry flavor), and enjoyed it with a fork because I don’t eat donuts with my hands like normal people :P

 How can you not love the bow? Almost looked too graceful to eat!

How can you not love the bow? Almost looked too graceful to eat!

It would have been awesome to have chocolate custard as the filling, but normal custard tasted fine in this case even so…

custardfilledchocolatehellokittychocolatedonut

After my snack, I walked around the Village Plaza for a little bit, and even took the time to check out the Japanese grocery market. I ended up not buying anything since I didn’t think I would be heading home for a couple hours, and I didn’t want to carry perishables too early and have them out for a long time.

 Shiritake noodles on sale!

Shiritake noodles on sale!

I was also not in too much of a buying mood since I still felt hungry. It was time for a real lunch, and since I also wasn’t in the mood to stand in line for sushi/ramen—or worse, stand in line only to realize that no vegetarian options were available—I decided to pay a creperie that was across the street a visit.

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Four Leaf Tea and Crepes was a cozy cafe tucked in between other small establishments. I think it was also not as crowded as the other eateries nearby because of this.

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I was the only customer to walk in a little after noon to order a crepe and milk tea, and to also have that meal indoors. After ordering My Country Garden crepe and matcha milk tea, I waited for my meal while other customers slowly trickled in. Most of them ignored the crepes part of the equation, but made elaborate orders for milk and boba tea. 

 Matcha Milk Tea - it tasted nice, cold, and sweet for the first several sips, and then the green tea flavor kicks in! Love how the layers separate appearance-wise, but if that's an indication of how well the flavors mix, they didn't do so well there...

Matcha Milk Tea – it tasted nice, cold, and sweet for the first several sips, and then the green tea flavor kicks in! Love how the layers separate appearance-wise, but if that’s an indication of how well the flavors mix, they didn’t do so well there…

 My crepe was compactly folded into a triangle shape, and tucked away carefully in sheets of parchment-like paper. Again, I had to use a fork instead of just grabbing it and taking a bite out of it like a burger or sandwich. The filling included: corn, guac, sour cream, salad leaves, tomatoes.

My crepe was compactly folded into a triangle shape, and tucked away carefully in sheets of parchment-like paper. Again, I had to use a fork instead of just grabbing it and taking a bite out of it like a burger or sandwich. The filling included: corn, guac, sour cream, salad leaves, tomatoes. The crepe itself was thin, soft, and chewy!

The day wasn’t complete until one more thing—froyo! I literally did not have a decent cup of froyo since Labor Day weekend, so the reason was justified. Plus, Yogurtland has all the right flavors and toppings necessary. 

In the mix was a flavor combo of pistachio, cookies n cream, and green tea froyo, with mochi pieces, poppers, carob chips, and mango—you know, the usual ;)

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I snacked on this while walking by the Japanese American National Museum, and realized that they were hosting a free admission day until 4pm! Since I hadn’t planned to visit the museum, I passed on the opportunity. And since the Hello Kitty exhibit wasn’t part of that promo, I felt like there would be other days.

Instead, I watched a couple folks work on this mural:

outsidemuseum

And then hopped on the gold line to do some grocery shopping in Pasadena :) 

Are you a scavenger hunt fan? 

Café Dulcé on Urbanspoon

Four Leaf Tea Room on Urbanspoon

MTR: Week 1

Week 1 of “official” marathon training went by smoothly. Considering I ran a half marathon the weekend before, I found the 8 mile LSD to be quite tolerable—especially since my team ran it at Griffith Park! Here’s how the mileage this week broke down:

Sunday – LSD 8 miler at 9:35/mi, with the team

Monday – Rest

Tuesday4 miler early morning solo-run at 9:39/mi

Wednesday - 4 miler at 9:06/mi, with the team

Thursday – Rest

Friday - Rest

Saturday4 miler solo-run at 9:21/mi


Total Mileage -> 20 miles

Running with a group has really helped me to stay motivated, and I’m not surprised that two of my runs this week were with at least some people on my team. I guess I even felt a little competitive on Wednesday, and pushed myself to not be “the last one” to finish out of a group of three guys!

As far as my training plan goes, I am following the one that has been given to us by the team captains, but I am adapting it based on my level/schedule. Since weekday runs are not mandatory like the Sunday long runs, I have some flexibility with when I want to run them. I’ve noticed that I usually have more energy/motivation early on in the week since I am able to get up early and squeeze in a run before starting my day. When Thursday and Friday roll around however, I’m usually (mentally) exhausted from classes/lab, and it’s harder to push myself out the door when I’d rather sleep in for an extra thirty-to-forty minutes :P 

My long run goals for this training cycle are as follows:

longrungoals

The asterisk weeks are PDR weeks I shall be looking forward to! Too bad Week 7 also coincides with my third exam week. Ick…

Do you find it harder to motivate yourself as the end of the week nears?

When I Don’t Study, I Eat

Last week was insane school-wise.

I had two intense exams in both of my classes on the SAME day, as well as a paper that was due over the weekend. Fun times in grad school…

 An hour before one of my exams, and not even free coffee could keep me from being distracted!

An hour before one of my exams, and not even free coffee could keep me from being distracted!

I still managed to have some “fun” and gave myself study breaks by making myself go out for some fresh air food. I was able to do just that on both weekends that sandwiched my horridly-scheduled exam week.

I mentioned that after my half, I had a late lunch. It was more like a super late breakfast, since I ended up ordering something to satisfy my sweet tooth from Jacks N Joe—a snug breakfast-centric restaurant tucked behind a strip mall.

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I arrived about half an hour before their closing time in the mid-afternoon. One of the employees was putting away the outdoor seats and tables, but she pleasantly held the door open for me as I approached the entrance. After declining a spot at the counter, I gladly took a table for one near the cash register, and didn’t mind since it gave me a central view of the restaurant.

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After looking over the menu another time (I looked at it dozens of times online :P ), I decided to order one of their signature french toast plates.

SAMSUNGAnd it ended up being a heavenly choice ;)

 7 Minutes in Heaven French Toast ~ 3 slices of Hawaiian french (lol) toast with nutella, bananas, and strawberries.

7 Minutes in Heaven French Toast ~ 3 slices of Hawaiian french (lol) toast with nutella, bananas, strawberries, and of course powdered sugar.

The bread was soft and chewy, and can you go wrong with strawberries and chocolate spread? I would have enjoyed this dish even without the bananas, but I’m not exactly a fan of the fruit so I’m a little biased there :P

 I tolerated the banana slices because there was chocolate!

I tolerated the banana slices because there was chocolate!

I didn’t even touch the bottle of syrup that my waiter put on the table prior to my french toast coming out. There was truly no need!

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Despite averaging ~8 hours each day researching/writing for my paper the weekend after exam week, I still managed to get out for some eats. I decided not to venture off too far, since it was chilly as far as LA weather was concerned, and because my “free” time was limited.

I kept things simple by busing over to Fairfax Ave. since I could do some grocery shopping in the same area, while grabbing a bite to eat at Swinger’s Diner.

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The parking lot, entrance, and waiting near the door.

 The place was packed at 3pm on a Saturday, and no one wanted to eat outside since it was windy and cold, so I ended up having to wait twenty minutes for a seat. Even then, I was given the suggestion to get a booth at the back of the restaurant, and so I didn’t get to continue people watching. 

interior.

People watching while waiting for a table. Mod art on the wall.

Instead, I ended up facing the cow wall, and had these condiments to entertain me.

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The menu was…entertaining as well, haha. I just quickly scanned through it to find the vegetarian and vegan options I had read online about, which was easy to do since a “thumbs up” icon next to a menu item meant it was vegetarian, and a peace sign meant it was vegan.

the menu

Had to blur out some non-PG images, which I didn’t notice at first but then was like whoathere

After reading the fine print, I learned that tofu could be subbed in for chicken at no extra cost, so to my pleasant surprise, that opened up a lot more meal options! Because of that, I decided to get the grilled jamaican jerk chicken tofu :D

Waiting for my food to arrive took just as long as waiting for a seat. It was probably because the diner was still busy, but since I was literally facing a wall, time seemed to pass by slower than reality. Sure, there was a window to my left, but the view was the back of a hotel, and an obscured view at that since my booth was at a low level. 

When this came out, I wasn’t sure what to think exactly—why were the tofu pieces so thin and pathetic-looking? or plantains that look like french fries?? YES :D 

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Grilled Jamaican Jerk Tofu ~ jerk-marinated tofu with fried plantains black beans and sauteed quinoa.

Even though the tofu was a disappointment, the plantains picked up the slack—having just enough crisp on the outside, yet chewy on the inside. The black beans added flavor that the “marinade” on the excuse-for-tofu was lacking, and the quinoa added some extra crispiness to the dish, since it was sauteed.

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So after getting some food in me and doing some grocery shopping at the Grove, I got back home just as the sun was setting and felt refreshed enough to revise another draft of my paper. Sunday’s “adventures” were limited to a long run at Griffth Park with my running group, and then literally sitting at my kitchen table for almost 8 hours total wrapping up the paper that controlled my weekend.

Well, at least it’s done now!

How often do you need breaks when you study/work?

Jacks N Joe on Urbanspoon

Swingers on Urbanspoon

Race Recap: RNR LA Halloween Half

I may have had an uneventful Halloween this year, but I guess you could say I got my dose of costumes, adorable dogs, and candy post-race snacks the weekend before the holiday, at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Halloween Half Marathon.

 RNR Halloween Half in LA: benefiting those with our friends with paws :)

RNR Halloween Half in LA: benefiting our friends with paws :)

Since the race course was marked in and around DTLA, walking to the start line was a breeze. Even though it was dark out, the streets were already sectioned off and police were at their posts, so I felt safe walking over to the Staples Center.

 Walking over to the race start.

Walking over to the race start.

Once I got to the start line around 6:45am, I quickly checked in my drawstring bag that was given to me at the expo, and found my corral. The parking lot across from LA Live was a convenient location to place gear check!

 Gear check area after I finished the race. It was super dark before 7am.

Gear check area after I finished the race. It was super dark before 7am.

Along with trying to keep my muscles warm, I tried to walk myself (in my mind) through the course. I knew where I would be going up until Mile 5, but had no idea where I would be running between Mile 5 and the finish! Just somewhere in downtown was all I knew…

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The race was slated to begin at 7am, with the half and 5k runners running together. Since we were in corrals, we were released every 30 seconds or so to stagger the amount of people on the course. Once I did hit the start line though, I was looking forward to seeing what costumes, live bands, and sights I would come across!

Mile 2 was when I started to feel a lag in energy. We were beginning to approach the University Park area and I started to feel somewhat tired. We ended up making a loop around the LA Coliseum, and it was such a sight to see a horde of people both in front of and behind me. I was shocked (and slightly embarrassed) by the fact that some of the people way in front of me were in heavy, full costume and were still running at 8:00 min/mi or less. Seriously though, how does that work?!

I guess the coliseum loop did the trick because I felt pumped around Mile 4 as we made our way back to the start line/downtown.  There were bands (mostly playing rock), high school drill teams, and the occasional spectators with posters every couple yards, so that helped keep the morale of the running pack up. 

But once we entered downtown again, my energy began to sag around Mile 6. It’s funny how since the course at this point was positioned adjacent to the finish line, I could see the elite athletes rolling on through as I was just getting to the half-way point. I suppose it should have been motivating, but it was more like, “How is that humanely possible?!” in a joking way of course ;)

After a making our way over a mini paved hill, I started to hear echoes of EDM coming from a tunnel. Now the music was starting to get good! At the end of the tunnel, I learned that the sweet selection was courtesy of a DJ dressed in a full gorilla costume.

What I remember of Miles 8 and 9 were winding, flat roads through the Toy/Art Districts and Little Tokyo, up until we reached the hill. We were basically set-up to run up a massive slope onto the Sixth Street Viaduct which at first seemed conniving, but then I understood why it was included as part of the course when I turned around at Mile 10. The most incredible view of DTLA was in front of me as I made my way back down the slope. I tried not to pound my knees too much, but it was difficult to not want to speed up with the sounds of Duck Sauce’s “Barbara Streisand” pounding in my ears, thanks to another EDM DJ :D

I have come to dread Mile 11 based on my experiences from past halfs, but the mile didn’t mentally attack me as much as I thought it would in this race. I tried to keep my mind distracted by the various cheer squads and (growing number of) spectators, who finally managed to make it outside on a Sunday morning. I pictured myself soaking up the energy as I made it back through the tunnel at Mile 12. I let the music push me through as I focused on the last mile. I felt that surge of energy I needed for that moment just in time, and I let that guide me to the finish.

 People leaving recovery area---just finished race!

People leaving recovery area—just finished race!

After passing the finish line, grabbing a water bottle and medal, and taking a legit post-race photo (not the mid-run kind where you look like a zombie!), I glanced down at my Garmin to see I had run a little over 2 hours, but did not PR. I wasn’t too bummed though, because I’ve been glad with how consistent my pace has been since summer.

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Also, I feel like this half marathon wasn’t worth the PR :P . I thought the race organization and course were fine, and I like how it was accessible for me to get to by foot, but I’m still not sure I would do this race again, unfortunately. The recovery zone was blocked off to runners, and once you left you couldn’t re-enter. This meant limited freebies collection, but I did get two bottles of chocolate milk, a Powerbar, and Alaskan Airline snacks.

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I thought it was odd that the Noosa yogurt tent was place right outside the recovery zone, but I had to pass on their samples since they contained gelatin. Seeing as I didn’t get any yogurt samples, I wondered if I could get another Powerbar or two, so I walked along the perimeter of the gated-off recovery area.

 Noosa tent

Noosa tent

I literally asked one of the Powerbar reps if I could have a bar, and she looked at me like I had said the most horrid thing about her. They said they couldn’t pass samples over the fence otherwise “Competitor would revoke their sponsorship”, and while that is understandable, it was disappointing.

 Recovery area

Recovery area

Post-race celebrations this time around weren’t nearly as fun as when my gal pals and I went out to eat at Saturn Cafe after my SJR Half in June, or when I stuffed my face with Biscoff for the next two months after my first trail race. Not only did I not have my “crew” to collect freebies and eat out with me, but I also had the pestering “I should be studying” thoughts swimming around in my head, since I had two exams (on the same day!) that I had to take later in the week.

I still took the time to enter and check out what booths and tents were up though.

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I mean, how can one leave a race without even trying to celebrate ;) ?

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I skipped past the merch tent (I didn’t even have any cash or cards on me, so…), and lined up at the first booth that I saw had a prize wheel.

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I didn’t get anything from them, but I did get two pairs of earbuds from Yellow Pages! Now that’s a freebies that would come in handy :D

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Only one is pictured here.

I eyed enviously at the fortunate “GEICO-sponsored” athlete who got a free massage. I wasn’t in need for one anyways, but having the option would be nice!

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I went further down the road and saw the ASPCA Bark Park.

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After taking some time to admire the adorable puppies that were being shown off, I scooped some complimentary shortbread biscuits…

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…and snacked on those while I contemplated over if I should stay for the headliner concert or not…

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In the end, I passed on the concert and ended up walking back home. I forced myself to study and get a late lunch later on in the day, but I ended up taking a 20 minute power nap before I got to any of those tasks. I may not have felt as sore post-race as I did in previous half marathons, but I certainly could not ignore my body’s cues to get some sleep—even if for a short while!

 Wasn't a fan of the shirt, but I love the medal! It's too heavy to hang on my wall though...

Wasn’t a fan of the shirt, but I love the medal! It’s too heavy to hang on my wall though…

Have you run in an RNR race before?

MTR: The Dawn

It’s November, but March 15th, 2015 is very much on my mind. Thinking about toeing the start line of my first marathon is a thought that’s quite ethereal.

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I completed my 5th half, and the “full” doesn’t sound too bad anymore…

Or I could still be starry-eyed about the fact I paid $165 to “torture” myself. Awesome!

So in order to keep some sort of account of my marathon training quest, I’ve decided to write weekly Marathon Training Recaps (MTRs). I plan to post them every on a Sunday or Monday to keep a record of my training, and to utilize them as a way to reflect on the long run for the week! I know I’ve really enjoyed reading marathon training and race recaps of other bloggers, and so I hope that by recording my own training journey, it can be just as entertaining/enjoyable/inspirational (<– joking on the last one…sort of :P

To “kick-off” this mini series of mine, I thought I’d answer some questions I’m sure you’ve all been dying to get answers for ;)

You know you’ve paid $165 to run 26.2 miles, right? Why now?

The question is, why NOT now? There is no time like the present. The time just feels right—my mood, attitude about running, endurance, and excitement about tackling 26.2 are all at the perfect levels for me to train for my first marathon ever!

Are you afraid of injuries?

Since I have not run 13 mi+ distances before, injuries are of course a topic of concern. I am not sure what to expect, but I can only go into my training doing what I know my body can handle. I’m definitely not going to push my pace for the longer runs (slow and steady has always been my mantra), and I am seriously considering participating in the cross-training and yoga sessions that my running group provides for its members. I am also an utterly bad stretcher, meaning that I do not stretch before and after runs, nor do I foam roll (gasp!)—which is something that I may also need to seriously reconsider going forward!

Do you think you would have chose to run a marathon so soon if you had not found a group to train with?

My straightforward answer would be no. Running a marathon was always more of a “I’d like to do that in the future…” kind of thing for me, as I found half marathons to be challenging enough up until recently. When I started grad school this past fall, I was able to connect with different running groups and meet people that share my love for running. I found a team whose schedule fits mine, and since the majority of us are students, it’s really easy to get along with them. Yesterday’s long run for instance flew by for me because of this camaraderie. High-fiving people along the route gave an extreme boost to my morale, and I know that that’s what I’ll need to stay motivated once I start getting to the point of heavy mileage. 

What is your time goal?

I think it would be amazing to run a 4 hour marathon, but seeing as though my current half marathon best is a little over two hours (just a little ;) ), I think that’s quite a lofty goal. But lofty goals are worth shooting for, because any time close to 4 hours would rock too. I also just want to be able to run the whole distance in one piece, haha. 

What is driving you to train?

Getting the the point in my training where I run a new personal distance record (PDR) each week. Race day. Eating allthefood at the end of the race. The fact that I’d be able to call myself a member of the “marathoner club”. ;)

What are your thoughts right now—4.5 months away from race day?

I’m looking forward to building endurance, “spoiling” myself with a new pair of running shoes (or pairs…) and gear, and my team’s Sunday long runs that will be 13+ miles. I’m so ready for the challenge…or so I say now!

Have you considered running the 26.2? What’s holding you back?

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