Protein Love

A while back, I made-up and took a “Nerdy Girl Survey” in which I answered a simple question: What is your favorite protein?

I gave a ‘nerdy’ answer, followed by a ‘foodie’ answer (any seitan fanatics out there :) ?), but recently, I’ve been more focused on adding more protein and fat to my diet in order to meet my current fitness goals. I thought I would share a couple of my protein-fortified eats from the past few weeks in honor of the macronutrient I am trying to make more prevalent in my life (not to sound overly dramatic, at all ;) ).

Tried and True

Peanut butter is a no-brainer when it comes down to identifying a good protein and fat-rich food source. I’ve always paired it with a carb-based vehicle (like bread) or yogurt, so it was no surprise that I used it to coat these protein-fortified, oatmeal-based Thomas english muffins.

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A good dollop goes a long way, and it added an additional 9 grams of protein to the 15 grams of protein already in this Voskos blueberry yogurt. This yogurt+PB combo was eaten about two hours before my challenging 13 miler this past Sunday…

Cottage cheese is one of those foods that I always have to take a break from once in a while, but when I do happen to have it in my fridge, my craving for it is at an all-time high. I love how it can work as a great binding agent in baking, and can work in both savory and sweet combinations. But pairing it with some organic peanut butter—just like how I do with my greek yogurts—is the classic way to go. This was my bedtime snack for four consecutive nights…

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Not bad for 23 grams of protein!

As a vegetarian, I never take soy “meat” or tofu for granted as a vital protein source. At no time did I ever feel left out of the meat-eating experience of my carnivore friends because I felt that the alternate option was good enough for me! The soy meat industry has definitely evolved for the better over the years in regards to product offering, but sometimes it’s best to stick to the classics. For some crockpot dinners several nights ago, I cut up my veggies as usual, but threw in some chopped Tofurky hot dog links. With 10 grams of protein per link, it was easy to balance out my complex carbs and protein ratio in one simple-but-filling meal.

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Crispy on the outside, but chewy on the inside—I love how my crockpot cooked up the link pieces!

Something New

To have more fun with the “protein hunting” process, I wanted to try and incorporate foods I never really got ahold of in the past due to fear/cost/just not thinking of them at the time.

There used to be a time where I shunned both avocados and egg yolks because of their high fat content. I’m glad I’m no longer that naïve or fearful of this important macronutrient—otherwise I would have continued to miss out on this nutrient-rich snack of mashed avocados and harboiled eggs. Mixed with some garlic herb seasoning and apple cider vinegar, this snack was exactly what I needed to replenish my muscles after a morning of lifting.

Avocados may not be as protein-rich as eggs, but when paired together, the total nutritional profile just can’t be beat!

 The avocados may not be photogenic, but when is most good food ever?

The avocados may not be photogenic, but when is most good food ever?

Paleo bread from Julian’s Bakery is a pricey find, but worth it in my opinion. When comparing the coconut and plain flavors, I found myself to be a fan of the coconut flavor…but when I surrendered $10.99 to the cashier at Whole Foods for the almond flavor loaf one weekend, I think I changed sides.

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The slices had the perfect amount of moisture, sweetness, and when topped with slices of goat cheese gouda, made for another winning protein-rich snack!

But I was too quick in my decision to try the cinnamon flavor though—in my opinion, the slices were rough, dry, and lacked cinnamon, let alone any flavor at all.

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Even with peanut butter, these slices were subpar. Perhaps now that I restocked my fridge with some havarti, I should see if this loaf has similar potential to that of the almond flavor…

The priciest, but easiest, way to pack in daily protein is definitely through some sort of protein powder. With the different options nowadays—and expensive costs—it can be intimidating to choose where to even start. I realized that since I was getting a lot of my protein from dairy and soy, it may be in my best interest to get a protein powder from a different protein source like plants. I narrowed down my choices, and after a visit to Vitamin Shoppe (while picking up my weekly box of Quest bars ;) ), I decided to give the PlantFusion Cookies N Cream flavor a go (it also helped that I had a $25 award certificate from all the points I racked up in 2014 due to all of my Quest bar purchases :P ).

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A 30 gram serving packs in 21 grams of protein from pea, artichoke, amaranth, and quinoa. Mixed with a 1/2 cup of milk, I made a hybrid shake/pudding and paired it with two Quest bars one afternoon as a reward for myself after a busy morning in lab. 

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It was a protein-rich take on cookies and milk, if you will…

 –

My fitness goals for my personal well-being and marathon training have directed me towards placing an emphasis on the protein and fat in my daily intake, and it has given me the opportunity to try new products and experiment with different combinations and sources. It’s been less than a month since making this transition, but I’m looking forward to discovering new ways and products that embody  ‘protein love’.

What is your protein love? 

MTR: Week 11

This week in marathon training brought about some temporal changes—afternoon/early evening runs shook up my usual morning run routine, and a busy day on Wednesday called for an early morning run.

Saturday’s run ended up being more of an impromptu run, since I needed to go by the grocery store to pick up some much-needed essentials for dinner. In total, I was able to run a speedy 2 miles while checking-off an errand ;)

 Needed to grab some dinner essentials on Saturday night so...running was obviously the way to go ;)

Needed to grab some dinner essentials on Saturday night so…running was obviously the way to go ;)

Sunday – LSD 10 miler afternoon solo run at 9:28/mi

Monday5 miler morning solo run at 9:13/mi

Tuesday Rest

Wednesday –  5 miler early morning solo run at 9:18/mi

Thursday –  Rest

Friday –  5 miler morning solo run at 9:18/mi

Saturday –   2 miles total (run to the grocery store in the early evening!)


Total Mileage ->  27 miles

Since I had company over until Sunday afternoon, my 10 mile run had to be squeezed in sometime in the afternoon. Despite there being a rainy forecast, the rain subsided for me long enough to get in my long run. I felt super accomplished after this run, for sure :D !

It was harder for me to get in my 5 mile runs as the week went on, but I’m glad I was able to in the end, and keep in line with my team’s training plan. Rest days were more than necessary this week, since I felt myself wanting to sleep in for longer than usual. I also feel like this has something to do with my added emphasis on weight training. I’m also continuing to keep an eye on my food intake, especially my protein content, as according to everything I described in this post.

This coming Sunday’s run is a 13 miler welcome-back run with my team, but we have a 16 miler planned for the following week! Marathon training is approaching the ‘serious threshold’, folks—soon it will be time to nail some PDRs :D

The Surprise Visit

I originally thought that the weekend before my spring semester classes started would be entrenched in ennui (besides the usual errands of grocery shopping and LA eating adventures…), but when my cousin and her spouse surprised me with a visit, I was glad to have some different plans to shake up my usual weekend itinerary!

They made their way to my place around 9pm on that Friday, and settled in while we chatted about life and their day’s trip from the Bay. We had a general idea of what we wanted to do the next day (a visit to the Getty and a meal in Artesia), and then turned in around 11pm.

The next morning, we awoke to cloudy skies and non-stop rain. Despite having to walk outside for some part of our museum trip, we were able to stay dry while strolling through the exhibits at the Getty.

 It was a good thing that the exhibits were inside.

It was a good thing that the exhibits were inside.

Even though it was my second time visiting, I still enjoyed the outing. At least I can now say I’ve been to the Getty in two extreme weather conditions (my first visit was two and a half years ago on a super hot day in June…).

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Regular museum sculptures // WWI exhibit featured artifacts

We spent our time there looking at the featured Reubens (tapestry man!) exhibit (and the day we were there happened to be the last day it would be featured!), the WWI exhibit, and the general open exhibits that displayed sculptures, oil paintings, etc.

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Brochure for the Reubens exhibit.

We could only handle three hours of walking and admiring works of art before we succumbed to our hungry tummies ;) . My cousin was dying to go to a Gujarati restaurant in Artesia (Little India), and seeing that we had traffic to fight, we decided to get a move on.

We had almost an hour of time to kill in the car, driving at speeds as slow as 15 mph at points, but we eventually made it to Pioneer Boulevard—a place I have come to know from the countless Indian grocery shopping trips my Dad would make during his visits to LA.

I never knew about Rajdhani though, which happened to be on the second floor of a parking garage we always use when visiting the area!

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Given that we left the museum around mid-afternoon in the pouring rain, it was no surprise that we finally ended up at our table around 3:30pm—prime-time for many families taking a food break from running their errands for the week!

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There was just one “item” being served at this time, which was the $14 all-you-can-eat (up to a certain point…) thali special—which is the exact reason why my cousin was especially set on coming here. The set-up was comparable to dim sum, in that waiters would come around with different components of your meal, and refill them upon request.

We started off with a piece of papadum as our appetizer.

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Soon, our five small bowls were filled with daals, stews, and oiled-and-spiced veggies ready to be scooped with rotis/rice/dhokla/puri.

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My favorite was the blend of eggplant, gold and purple potatoes, and peas (top left) // Can’t go wrong with dhokla (bottom left)

I didn’t have dessert, but I “gave” mine to my cousin, who used it to try the rose ice cream. They also had carrot and besan (almond) halwa.

I found the meal overall to be satisfying and warming (especially on a cold, rainy day), but not necessarily worth driving an hour for. But then again, this is coming from a girl who would spend $$ on vegan fish ‘n’ chips ;) . I was glad that my company fully enjoyed the meal and experience though.

Next on the itinerary were some quick grocery shopping trips, and then a drive back home. We spent the rest of the night watching movies, and then went to sleep at a reasonable hour.

The next morning, I debated on whether or not I should go for a long run, but since I couldn’t tell if it was raining at the dark hour of 6AM, I decided to get some more shut-eye and (possibly) save the run for later in the day. Cousin and Co. were leaving at noon, so it made sense to spend as much time with them, even if it meant sacrificing a morning run.

Since we did have limited time, we left for SaMo Pier at around 10AM and walked over from a nearby parking lot. Yes, SaMo is becoming quite a regular spot for me, but at least I finally got to go on the ferris wheel, haha.

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Other than getting some good pictures from high up, the ride was nothing spectacular (which I didn’t expect it would be). An hour before they had to finally leave the city, we stopped for a quick lunch-to-go from Aussie Pie Kitchen.

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It would have been nice to sit inside among the signage and wood, but all the seats were taken by people or backpacks waiting for people ;) .

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So, it was lunches-to-go for us. At least the paper they put the pies in was cute.

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I ended up choosing their veggie-friendly Aussie pie: a ‘summer veggie’ pie stuffed with eggplant, green and yellow squash, red bell pepper, onion, and olive tapenade.

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Summer Veggie Pot Pie - eggplant, green and yellow squash, red bell pepper, onion, & olive tapenade

Although we chowed down our pies in the car, we found the 5’’ pie delectable enough to be filling for a brief lunch before bidding good-bye. I was dropped off in Culver City, and headed back home after wishing my family a safe trip home.

Side note: I was still able to squeeze in a long run later in the day ;)

Rajdhani on Urbanspoon Aussie Pie Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Finding My Balance, Trusting My Body

It’s been a while since I really discussed the progress from my disordered eating days. When I started this blog two years ago, I was at a turning point with my relationship with food, and was leaving some of the darkest days of my life. As a result of that, I wanted this “new” blog to be a space that held content relating to the better and happier things that were burgeoning at the time. I still wanted to talk about (the happy aspects) of food, but I also wanted to shift the focus onto a new hobby (running), and also use the space to describe my developing career in science.

But sometimes it’s okay to get a little personal. To go back and reflect. To share your progress, missteps, frustrations, and successes with others, because that’s what blogging and social media are there for at the end of the day. My goal with this post is to show that the “battle” with an eating disorder doesn’t just end. It is a process that requires reestablishing, convincing, conquering, and loving, among other things. The intensity can decrease as one steps more and more into recovery, but traces do and will always remain. After a certain point, it’s more about management than it is about cure.

When I got serious about running at the start of 2013, I was also reexamining my relationship with food: I had stopped limiting myself in regards to fat grams, allowed myself to consume more calories on special occasions/days of “strenuous” physical exertion, and even though I was still counting, I gave myself a newer, higher number that I thought would match the output of my newfound love running.

2013 and 2014 were overall some of the greatest years in my life so far. I was a lot happier in comparison to my first years as an undergrad…definitely. I was certainly in a better place, but in the back of my mind, I knew that I still wasn’t at the place with food and fitness that I thought I was. I believed I was in a healthier place because I wasn’t as strict on myself as in the past, but the restraints I did still have—though not too restrictive—were still at odds with what my body currently wanted and needed.

As I bumped up my mileage to the point where I could run 13 miles as my longest run, I maintained my daily intake at the same newer/higher level that I allowed myself when I first started my running journey. But when I realized that other issues were arising, I had to reevaluate the situation.

Let’s be frank. My periods had ceased for the most part—if not downright amenorrhea, oligomenorrhea was all too real. I was also still experiencing fatigue, food obsessions, and waking up some mornings around 3 or 4AM with intense hunger pangs. I think it was difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that the “new number” was now “getting old”, and that my ever-increasing physical activity required me to consume a number higher than what I thought. Perhaps because it was all happening quickly—and in the midst of other life changes like getting into grad school—is what caused me to push aside the seriousness of the matter.

I think it was also hard for me to accept the fact that I needed to consume more because I thought that on the days I did not keep track of calories (usually long run days, or at least once every 1-2 weeks), I was able to eat enough to make up for my weekly running output. Obviously things were still not adding up, since I still felt tired at points throughout the week, and even after eating the amount I thought I needed for the day, there were times I still felt ravenous.

Still, I continued to push these occurrences aside because I felt good for the most part. I gave myself days when I could treat myself for not only my physical feats, but for “eating well” over a set period of time, so why mull over it any more than necessary?

When I made the decision to train for a marathon, there was a part of me that became concerned with the 13+ miles not because of the time spent on the road and the physical pain that I might have to endure, but rather if I would have enough energy for the journey based on my current consumption levels.

I understood that I would have to take another look at my body, and a new “new number” could not be avoided any longer—no matter how much I despised change. Being a budding scientist though, I needed cold, hard data to convince myself that shooting for an even higher caloric intake would be okay. My body was in a deficit already, based on symptoms like those mentioned previously, so getting a professional’s opinion seemed like the way to get that real push I needed.

I decided to wait until my first semester was over in order to schedule metabolic testing. Call it an excuse if you’d like, but I thought it was the perfect time to get it done: right at the start of the new year, and right before hitting the heavy miles of marathon training. I was also mentally prepared, with my mind free from thoughts of school or lab for the time being. I was ready to hear the results, take a step back to reflect on them, and create a new plan that would make my body happy and put my mind at ease.

I ordered the resting expenditure and exercise expenditure tests, and found both experiences to not be as fun as I thought :P . For the resting expenditure test, I was instructed to lie down flat and still for about ten minutes. After that, I was hooked up to an oxygen mask contraption and was given a nose plug. Having to breathe with only my mouth through a dry tube did not exactly aid me when I had to go back into a resting state for another ten minutes, but I managed to get through the test without hating it entirely.

The exercise expenditure test was another story. Since I was getting evaluated for my expenditure while running, the technician had me do a warm-up on the treadmill. Now, if we could have done it outdoors, no problem, but a treadmill?! It seems like the longer and more frequently I run outside, the stronger my hate for the treadmill grows…but, it had to be done.

Before getting on the treads of monotony, I had to get my skinfold measurements. Seven areas (subscapular, tricep, mid-axillary, pectoral, lliac, abdominal, thigh) are usually measured, and then summed up to get a value that estimates body fat percentage.

Once I was warmed-up, and after a quick trip to the restroom, the technician started me off at a 12 min/mile pace. Every three minutes, he ramped up the pace until I was running an 8:34 min/mile as my “strong effort”. After cooling down, I was given a towel to wipe the drool coming out of my mouth once the oxygen mask tube was pulled out (so true, so embarrassing), and then waited for my results.

We first went over my resting expenditure results, which listed my VO2 at rest, respiratory exchange ratio, and resting metabolic rate. Based on all of this, I was also given a breakdown of my substrate utilization (what percentage of carbs vs. fat I use at rest).

The exercise expenditure results were calculated and graphed in an interesting way:

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Not only was my caloric expenditure while running at different speeds calculated, but also the percentage of carbs and fat that I was utilizing. It pretty much summarized that the faster I ran and the more effort I exerted, the more carbs I used. At a 7 mph pace, I was running on 100% carbs.

I was also given a breakdown of my heart rate, VO2, and RER numbers while running at these different speeds.

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As well as estimated expenditure values at low/medium/high efforts.

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I was glad that the technician took the time to sit down with me afterwards to go over my results and answer any questions I had. He was able to conclude from my results that my RER was pretty low (most likely due to the years of not eating enough—even now, in more recent times, when I thought I was eating enough), and that my body fat percentage was veering on the low side of the ‘athlete range’. He added that this could be a good or bad thing based on one’s goals, and of course gender, but then went on to mention some studies that were done that showed the amount of calories consumed over time vs. amount of fat in one’s diet influences a woman’s “cycle regularity”.

Even though it was a lot of information to take in and consider, we were able to get back to concrete numbers. He recommended that I increase my caloric intake to build more lean muscle mass (obviously), but emphasized taking in those extra calories as fat and proteins (over carbs), based on the goals I had for my body and in running.

I would say that both expenditure tests (which cost me $200) were well worth the price, which I found to be on the low side compared to a lot of other metabolic testing centers I looked into. I got what I wanted—the cold, hard data. Now I just have to use it.

This experience really drove the point home that the body is a dynamic machine, and that based on what you have it go through or what you want it to become, its requirements will change. Everyone is built differently, and figuring out what the best things for your body are at a certain time is, in a way, a never-ending experiment.

Taking on this new, things-are-dynamic attitude is the next big step in my recovery process. Understanding that these numbers are not strict rules, but rather guidelines, is something I will also have to continuously remind myself going forward.

Of course, I predict that there will be days I doubt what my body really needs. Accepting that there will be days I can’t get in my recommended protein, or that I ingest “too many carbs”, is all part of the process too. As long as my goals are pure—to build more lean muscle and to eat enough for my activity levels in order to get to a desirable weight that promotes healthy “processes” and an efficient engine for running—and as long as I at least try, there is nothing more I can do but trust that my body will find its balance at any given time.

If you’ve ever had an eating disorder or disordered eating habits, do you find it difficult to talk about the current status of your recovery progress?

Have you ever been metabolically tested?

MTR: Week 10

This week turned out to be quite interesting—I ended up streaking! Run streaking, that is.

Sunday – LSD 10 miler morning solo run at 9:20/mi

Monday – 3.2 miler morning solo run at 8:54/mi

Tuesday 5.6 miler morning solo run at 9:16/mi

Wednesday –  4 miler morning solo run at 9:19/mi

Thursday –  4 miler morning solo run at 9:19/mi

Friday –  2 miler morning solo run at 9:25/mi

Saturday –  Rest (finally)


Total Mileage ->  28.8 miles

This week turned out to be a slow one in regards to work. Since everyone is slowly getting back to the grind, that meant a lot more free time in the mornings for me this week. And since I was up for it, I ended up running each morning at a pace I felt comfortable with. The weather was pretty nice too, and may have also been influential ;)

Sunday’s long run was a harder one to get through because I had just come back from my visit with family. The feeling of homesickness (almost) had me skip out on the run altogether, but luckily after the run, I felt better. On Monday, I felt quite speedy and it showed with my pace. On the days following, I mentally felt ready to run, but my pace began to slow as the days went on—with Friday’s being my slowest for the week. I also focused a lot on weight training and began altering my food intake this week—topics which I plan to go into detail about in a separate post. 

For the first week of January, I’m pretty happy with my efforts, but it would be nice to turn those ‘solos’ into ‘group runs’ again. Thankfully since my running group will be back in session starting this week, there should be a lot more help in the motivation department. I’m also looking forward to the changing scenery of Sunday long runs!

What has been the duration of your longest running streak? 

My Kind of Chocolate Bar

Disclaimer: I was not monetarily paid to write this review. This review is based on the products and information I received from Yes CaCao. All opinions are my own.

I can’t imagine ever saying “no” if someone were to ask me if I like chocolate, but I do have my preferences. Hershey’s—and even Cadbury’s—just don’t seem to cut it anymore, since there are so many “gourmet” options out there nowadays. I could spend hours strolling down the one aisle devoted to raw/fair trade/organic/vegan chocolate bars at Whole Foods—because if I’m going to indulge, might as well go all the way amIright?

I was definitely able to indulge when I got the chance to try three magical Yes CaCao bars. Yes CaCao is based out of the Bay Area (hometown pride!) and their ingredients include a plethora of super foods and items of botanical origin. The cacao in these bars is harvested in Ecuador via a direct trade relationship, and after months of experimentation, they were able to formulate the three flavors I was able to sample recently. You can read more about their story here.

 Loved the packaging!

Loved the packaging!

Marketed as botanical chocolate bars, I was able to try the Dirty Chocolate, Karma Mellowl, and Gaba Baba.

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All of the bars are cold-processed, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, not roasted, and vary from 140-170 calories each.

I tried Gaba Baba first—a sheet of soothing dark chocolate. It aims to function as a chocolate bar that promotes relaxation, with prime ingredients like kava kava, blue lotus, and turmeric. It was the perfect nighttime snack, and I imagine it would have made a successful match with a glass of soymilk and atop a graham cracker and vegan marshmallow!

Now Karma Mellowl though…this bar blew me away. Forget the “golden ticket”, this is a golden chocolate bar, with flavors and a texture combination that’s so magical, it’s indescribable. It’s the ‘brain food bar’ of the group, and boasts ingredients like coconut palm sugar, bacopa, and lion’s mane mushroom. Even if it was devoid of these mystical ingredients, I think I would still like this bar if it kept it’s golden color!

And last but not least, was Dirty Chocolate. This bar is all about balance and adaptation, and is designed to be that one thing that gives you a jolt in the morning (besides an espresso). It contains shilajit and tulsi, which aid in toxin release and nerve relaxation respectively. The super mushroom reishi is also in this bar, which only adds to this bar’s energy-boosting attributes.

I would definitely say that ‘fancy chocolate’ definitely has its perks. If you’re going to say “yes” to chocolate, make it worth something :) !

What’s your favorite ‘fancy chocolate bar’?

Race Recap: Solano Resolution 5K Run

Unlike last year, when my first race of the year was in May due to life events that were taking place in the first five months (that obviously took priority over running), I was able to participate in a race on the very first day of 2015.

Sure, it was a small one, but a race nonetheless.

 A small turnout to the race---actually looked and felt more like a giant group run!!

A small turnout to the race—actually looked and felt more like a giant group run!!

The race didn’t start until 11am on New Year’s Day, so I was able to wake up very casually that morning. I didn’t need the “extra” sleep though, at least as much as other people, since I went to sleep on NYE around 10pm (yes, call me granny!!)

Fueled by coffee and Quest bars, I spent the morning trying to keep warm at home until around 9:30am. After getting ready and getting my gear together, my friend met me at my house and we were able to carpool together over to the race.

When we arrived at the race location, we didn’t see any indication that a race was even occuring. We were worried that we mistook the location or that the race was cancelled, but after seeing an older man with a bib running a warm-up lap, he was able to direct us to the proper location.

I was able to pick up my race bib and shirt the day before, but I stood in line with my friend so she could get hers.

 Small line for packet pick-up.

Small line for packet pick-up.

We had to shuffle around to keep warm, and in the meantime, entered a raffle for a month’s worth of free produce. The tent was the only vendor tent in the facility.

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Volunteers were setting up refreshments.

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When it was approaching 11am, we were all called to gather near the rainbow balloon arch and to begin the race. There were no corrals, no pacers— just a swarm of people sharing the road for a no-pressure, out-and-back 5k run.

I ran beside my friend for the first 0.3 miles, but then my legs pushed me to go farther and faster. I clocked in just under 9 minutes for the first mile according to my Garmin, and was glad to get past the “weaving” stage of the race and to get into a rhythm.

My toes felt numb despite wearing my thickest running socks possible, but at least my armmwarmers were doing their job! My legs were feeling numb as well, and pretty much the only parts I could feel were my ice-cold hands…and my bladder (even though I visited the bathroom several times before starting!!)

After the turnaround at 1.5 miles, I kept an eye out for my friend, and we exchanged a gentle high-five as we passed eachother. I continued to keep a consistent, just-under-9-minute-mile pace, and as a result, continued to pass more runners.

I was relieved to see the mile 3 marker in the distance and dash towards the rainbow arch.

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The volunteers did their part to cheer and congratulate, and I gratefully accepted a water bottle. One of the volunteers commented that I looked way too relaxed. I sort of hope so, since I am in the middle of training for a marathon ;) !

It was a small event, but the classic fare of bagels & bananas were served. I grabbed my share, but gave it to my Dad to munch on.

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My friend finished soon after, and scored herself a new PR with a 31-and-something total time (at least according to my dad’s phone stopwatch :P ). We took some pictures, and then headed back to the car. The plan was to stop at Peet’s and get some post-run coffee.

 Keepin' it real with a cardboard box trash receptacle. Recycling was right next to it  :)

Keepin’ it real with a cardboard box trash receptacle. Recycling was right next to it :)

It was my first time having a cup of Peet’s coffee, and I was able to split the blend of the day with my Dad while my friend got a coffee for herself. It was around noon, but the shop was quite busy. We spent some time inside before heading back into the car for home.

 I wish I remember what the blend of the day that day was...

I wish I remember what the blend of the day that day was…

The rest of the day was spent lounging around the house, and being as lazy as one can be on a holiday. Hard to believe that the holidays are officially over, and that it’s time to get back the work! At least I can say 2015 has started off well.

Hey, when a run is involved, how can it not :) ?

How did you spend the first day of 2015?

Transitioning

How did I ring in the New Year? In the most simple way possible…

HappyNYE

A simple breakfast, a simple shopping trip, a simple drive home from the mall at night

It was nothing fancy, but NYE—and the entire week and a half that I was back with my family—was the perfect time for me to hibernate, enjoy home-cooked meals, and have nothing to worry about in particular :)

So I was obviously feeling a little down when I had to bus back down to LA over the weekend, since I felt my family-time was being cut to a length that was shorter than what I preferred. I felt homesick the evening of my arrival back at the apartment, and this carried over to the following morning. Still, I was able to push aside those feelings to make room for a 10 mile run and a grocery shopping trip. I even planned it so that I could do my errands in Brentwood, so that I could visit this vegan-friendly establishment that I passed by on one of the long runs I had last semester with the team:

 Entrance to A Votre Sante.

Entrance to A Votre Sante.

The door had a knob as if it were the entrance to a small house, and upon entering, I was greeted with by a waitress who was all smiles. She found me a seat in the overflow room near the back wall, and I enjoyed people-watching for a little bit before being handed the menu.

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I immediately skipped over to the vegan and signature entrees selection, and found something that fit the wholesome and nourishing bill: the Dragontail.

SAMSUNGI found the decorations to be aesthetically pleasing…

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…especially the Buddha on the far wall.

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I felt at peace while I sipped on my water and waited for my late lunch to arrive.

 Pretty lighting!

Pretty lighting!

When my plate came to the table, I admired the presentation—the grains and protein were perfectly portioned-off to one side, while the veggies marinated in tamari sauce were positioned immediately opposite:

Fresh vegetables, hijiki, organic tofu, organic tamari sauce, ginger, organic quinoa or brown rice, organic black beans, tahini.

Fresh vegetables, hijiki (brown sea vegetables), organic tofu, organic tamari sauce, ginger, organic quinoa or brown rice, organic black beans, tahini.

The tahini sauce blended well with the quinoa and black beans.

dragontail_A Votre Sante_close-up

I was able to finish my lunch just as the crowds were leaving, and as the staff was getting ready for the folks coming in for dinner. In order to get to the nearest grocery store, I walked back in the direction of the country club, and spotted this on the same road that I scrapped my hand on:

 I'm guessing other runners are trying to fuel with Quest bars mid-run!

I’m guessing other runners are trying to fuel with Quest bars mid-run!

It was around 6:30pm when I returned home, and I was able to have a good phone call with my Dad. We commiserated over the fact that my stay was too short, and that neither of us were ready to go back to work, but we also knew that once our routines were established again, we would be okay. I also realized that even though it would be quieter and lonelier around these parts for another week, since the hustle and bustle of campus activity doesn’t officially resume until then, I could at least take my time with establishing a new schedule and transition into things at a non-overwhelming pace.

How do you handle homesickness?

A Votre Sante on Urbanspoon

MTR: Week 9

Cold weather + sore legs from running in the wrong shoes does not equal the most fun running week ever (why didn’t I pack my Hokas?!)…but being able to hibernate and have home-cooked meals most certainly makes up for whatever running workouts I could muster this week :P

 Thursday's "race": a freezin' 5k

Thursday’s “race”: a freezin’ 5k

Sunday – LSD 12 miler morning solo run at 9:29/mi

Monday –  Rest

Tuesday 1.5 miles on treadmill 

Wednesday –  6.5 miler evening solo run at 9:24/mi

Thursday –  3.1 miler at a NYD Race (!!) at 8:55/mi

Friday –  Rest

Saturday –  Rest


Total Mileage ->  23.1 miles

Sunday’s 12 miler gave me an opportunity to do a little bit of exploring…since I sort of got lost, haha. I planned to originally meet my Dad at his gym, but he actually had to pick me up from the grocery store near where I ended! We did drive back to the gym though, and I was able to soak my sore legs in the hot tub spa—and my legs required that for sure!

Wednesday’s run was a relaxing (mentally) evening run, but my legs still felt sore, particularly my calves and the sides of my quads. It made me yearn to get back to my “real” running shoes, but I kept telling myself things would get back to normal starting next week…I hope :P ! It felt nice to kick-off the new year on Thursday with a 5k, and since I was able to run it with a close friend, it made the event much more enjoyable—even in the 43 degree weather (not considering the nasty-cold 14mph wind chill!!).

Friday and Saturday were rest days due to it being my last day with the fam and a travel day. I also used the “free” time to reflect over my schedule for the coming semester, and to see how my running schedule will fit in. Classes don’t start for another week or so, but this week marks the beginning of my second lab rotation. Still, I do think that morning runs will be manageable—along with designating days for cross-training, stretching/yoga, and weight training. I aim on delving into the details regarding my plans about the things I plan to do in support of my running in a separate post, but for now, I know they are some things that have just got to be done ;)

SanDisk Clip Sport 8GB Review

I started my running journey only being able to get out the door if I had a fully charged MP3 player and earbuds in my ears. Fortunately, I have gotten to the point where I can log quality runs with or without music, but having music certainly does help when I’m in a running rut or feeling too lazy.

I’ve also been clingy when it comes to the electronics I’ve used for listening to music on the run. I’ve had a Sansa Fuze MP3 player in my possession for almost seven years, and only when the rotating wheel that controls volume and music selection started to get stuck (from grime and rainwater from those runs in the rain!!) did I realize that if I wanted to have the option of listening to music on any future runs, I had to get a new MP3 player.

Enter the SanDisk Clip Sport MP3 player. As you can see, the tiny music player is about the length of my fingers!

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I know many runners opt to use their phones as their music players, and I imagine that’s quite easy to do with a certain Apple product, but I guess I’m “old-fashioned” in my preference for a simple and durable portable music player. And the SanDisk Clip Sport is definitely simple…

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It has simple controls for forward and reverse, with volume control on the side. The on/off button is the small blue oval in the center.

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I also appreciate the two extra sets of earbuds:

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I took it out for a run around the neighborhood, and had these thoughts about the product:

  • I found the earbud wire to be extra long, and so it was annoying having to wrap it around my fingers to keep it at an appropriate length while running.

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  • The clip on the back of the MP3 was much more sturdy than I thought it would be! I clipped it to the top of my armwarmers, and it stayed in place for my entire run. When I went out for a 6.5 miler recently, it stayed in place for a full hour and one minute, haha.

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  • When running, it’s easiest to keep it in shuffle mode so that you don’t have to stop and mess with it while on the run. Unfortunately, that means if I want to listen to some newly downloaded music, I would have to make a present playlist or keep the song(s) on repeat. Usually that’s not an issue, but something worth pointing out.

Do you listen to music while running?

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