Sweet Enough to Forget My Battle Scars

Sweet Enough to Forget My Battle Scars

One thing I really wanted after the marathon was something sweet. I probably would have satisfied this craving with a giant cupcake or a pint of ice cream, but I kept thinking about this little place in Sawtelle that has a collection of unique confectionery creations, as well as rotating bread pudding flavors…

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B Sweet Dessert Bar

My feet were killing me (especially my right foot, which had developed a swollen black toenail and a rosy blister on the heel), but I managed to make my way inside and over to the front.

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Rotating bread pudding flavors—change every week!

I decided to get the “Being Good” size for my bread pudding (6oz) and even though it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and they had a Bailey’s-themed bread pudding, I decided to stick with a flavor I’d know I like: Red Velvet.

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Red Velvet Bread Pudding

They put together the pudding within minutes, and at first I couldn’t see any of it because of all the frosting on the top.

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That frosting though.

The bread pudding was warm, and had the texture of a soft, molten cake, but to be honest I couldn’t detect much flavor. Even the frosting wasn’t too sweet, which was disappointing…but at least it had aesthetics?

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Cute decor.

And it was enough to help me forget about the pain that was my black toe nail for ~6 minutes 😛 .

What flavor of bread pudding would you want to try?

B Sweet Dessert Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Carbs, but No Loading

Carbs, but No Loading

I didn’t go out of my way to carbo-load the day before the marathon, but I did eat throughout the day, kept hydrated, and stuck to foods I knew wouldn’t throw me off.

I was sent two vouchers for a free bread item and a drink to use at one of 85C Bakery’s newest locations—in Glendale. Since E and I have been hanging outside of lab together more frequently now, I asked if she wanted to make a day out of it, and she happily agreed.

We met in downtown and then took a bus that stops close to the Galleria. From there, it was a short walk to the bakery.

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85c Bakery – Glendale

The inside of the bakery was clean, and the baked goods were organized in a similar way to that of a bakery I visited a while back in Koreatown.

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Ah, what to choose??

E and I both got trays and walked through the aisles, seeing what lovely little bread creations we’d come across.

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Baked goods

I decided to get a cranberry cream cheese yudane roll, while E got a wild mushroom cheese bread loaf.

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Cranberry Cream Cheese Yudane Roll

For my drink, I opted for a hot green milky tea. E ended up going for a cold lemonade. We found seats by the window, and as soon as we had our food and drinks, we settled in.

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Hot green milky tea (or rather, water)

My cranberry cream cheese yudane roll had a rough texture on the outside, but this was completely opposite of its interior texture. The roll had a sufficient amount of cream cheese and cranberries (though both of these ingredients tended to separate from one another) and was quite chewy. The milky green tea on the other hand was watered down in my opinion. There was a faint taste of tea, but overall, it just tasted (?) like warm water.

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E’s mushroom bread

After our bread/tea break, we walked over to the Galleria and made a round inside the mall. Both of us did end up buying something to add to our wardrobes, but we didn’t spend too much time shopping.

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Taking a break before heading back.

We soon walked over to the Americana at Brand right next door, and stopped to sit down and hydrate with some water. As it approached 4pm, I felt like it would be wise to head back and rest up for my race the next day, so we made our way to the bus stop for the ride home.

Do you prefer sweet bread items (danishes, sweet rolls) or just go for the 100% sweet stuff (cakes, pies) ?

85°C Bakery Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cupcake Caught My Eye

Cupcake Caught My Eye

After getting my fill of Mediterranean food for lunch on Saturday, I couldn’t help but make a pit stop…for cupcakes!

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Big Man Bakes

Big Man Bakes is a cupcake store I used to pass on some Sunday long runs when I lived near DTLA. I would sometimes run past it before turning right, back to Figueroa. This time however, I was walking straight towards it.

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Just FYI…

Once I got to the small storefront, I gazed into the display case of perfectly frosted cupcakes, and didn’t even know what to pay attention to first.

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Cupcakes and gear

The young lady behind the counter was eager to share a bit about Big Man Bakes, and some of their classic and seasonal flavors that were currently available. I was thinking I’d go for the Red Velvet or Oreo…

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Utensils and things

…but in the end, I went with a seasonal flavor—strawberry!

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Ready to eat!

It was called an “XL” cupcake, but it really wasn’t that big. To me, it seemed like a standard-sized cupcake.

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The Strawberry XL Cupcake

The cake itself was moist, but it didn’t stand out in regards to flavor. I was also hoping for a generous serving of cream filling on the inside, but sadly, that wasn’t the case.

At least it was pretty photogenic:

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Views of a cupcake…

Are you picky when it comes to cupcakes?

Big Man Bakes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tiramisu Thoughts

Tiramisu Thoughts

I left my house Sunday morning around 7:30am, waking up to a light fog cast around my neighborhood. I only needed to put in 8 miles that day. The running miracle that is ‘tapering’…

I ran a route close to home solo, since many of my teammates are undergrads that went home for spring break. I took it as an opportunity to run AT home, and eat here after the run as well.

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Urth Caffe – Santa Monica

I finished my run on Main St., pretty much at the steps of Urth Caffe. It had been a few years now since I’ve been to one…the visits I paid the WeHo and DTLA locations were when I was a fresh Los Angeleno craving weekend foodie adventures and soaking in as much of the city as possible.

Two and half years later, I walk into this Urth Caffe with a straighter posture and resting LA face (much like a another “resting face” people are more familiar with…). I get in line, knowing that crowds are expected even at 9am on a Sunday, barely giving the menu a glance since I already know what I’m going to get—a Spanish Latte with soymilk and an Earl Grey Tiramisu.

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Feeling like a latte…

I take my honey-glazed, sweet-filled pastry over to a counter seat by the window. I dig in with a fork, and people-watch as I think about a number of things. The fact that I walked into this place on a whim…it wasn’t planned. I felt like having something sweet paired with something warm, Urth was nearby, so I just went.

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Views.

Even two and a half years ago, I would have been riddled with panic if my food plans had to change. Any and all visits were planned, and excuses were made if anything tried to “destroy” those plans.

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Hello, gorgeous.

But now, I was digging into this tiramisu with enjoyment. The calorie counter was still ticking in my head, but the number didn’t phase me as much as it used to. I got this tiramisu not because of its number, but because I was craving it as my post-run treat.

When my latte arrived, I held the mug in both hands, took a sip, and was immediately transported to Barcelona.

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Something warm.

A young woman sitting next to me looking over sheet music asked how I was doing with a huge smile, which at first took me by surprise, but then I gave a her a huge smile back. There was no need to hold on to my “resting LA face”. Happiness starts with YOU, and welcoming every smile or greeting bestowed upon you by others only helps to grow and sustain that happiness.

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“I may not be in Barcelona, but I’m going to pretend I was there yesterday morning since this Spanish Latte certainly made me feel like I was”

I left Urth Caffe feeling refreshed and fulfilled with my self-care time and reflections. I have so much to be thankful for, and so much to look forward to. I used to fear the unknown, rather than look at it with anticipation.

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Slice of decadence…

I could sit back, and worry about not hitting my goal to run under 4 hours at the marathon this weekend. I could ruminate over whether or not I can sustain the relationships I am cultivating now in the future. I could be anxious about reaching my academic and career goals…but I’m coming to the realization that letting those thoughts take up brain space leads to wasted time…

I’d rather be using that time laughing with E in lab over a coffee break, smiling to myself when I reread funny text conversations between my sister and I, and taking pride in my daily running achievements (whether that be a new fast pace or just getting out to run despite not having the motivation).

Honestly, life is just too short…get that piping hot Spanish latte, demolish that decadent tiramisu, and take pride in knowing that life is yours for the taking.

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“Run 8 miles, replenish with an Earl Grey Tiramisu”…and enjoy life.

Urth Caffé Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Buff Bake Protein Cookie Review

Buff Bake Protein Cookie Review

Disclaimer: I was provided samples from Buff Bake and all opinions are my own.

I’ve had Buff Bake spreads before, but when I tried my first Buff Bake protein cookie, I wasn’t sure what I had put in my mouth…

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I thought a cup of coffee would work well with this Buff Bake WCPB protein cookie, but sadly this cookie was pretty stale 😑… definitely does not have soft status like @lennyandlarrys

I didn’t want to waste it, but as I was eating it I couldn’t help but think I had made a mistake in my choice of a morning snack. I thought I was being adventurous for trying a protein cookie different from the likes of Lenny & Larry’s, but to my disappointment, I regretted not picking up their white chocolate macadamia flavor from the campus bookstore…

I expressed my dissatisfaction on Instagram, and to my surprise, Buff Bake actually reached out with a response to immediately send over some fresh cookies to try! They commented that the cookie I had purchased had an older packaging, and that I needed a proper introduction to their product (okay, so I added the last part, but I’m sure they wanted to redo the first impression…)

They immediately sent over five different cookies in crisp, colorful packaging. I was shocked by how quickly they came too…within two days of their commenting on my Instagram! Oh, which flavor to begin with?!

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The colors just popped out at me!!

Because the snickerdoodle Lenny & Larry’s has my heart, I had to try Buff Bake’s version for comparison’s sake.

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This Snickerdoodle one immediately became a favorite of mine. To me, it looks more like a dense, puffy cake than a cookie (like one of those Pfeffernusse cookies), but it’s incredibly chewy and has a nice cinnamon/nutmeg aroma to it. Oh, and then there’s the nice addition of a thin glaze on top! I’m glad I got the opportunity to give these cookies-more-like-cakes another shot 😉

I would say the Lenny & Larry’s version is still my favorite (specifically if it comes out dense and chewy in the middle, because sometimes even they come out with fluke cookies…), but Buff Bake’s version was pretty good too. Definitely could see this paired with a glass of hot chocolate—the perfect sitting-by-the-fireplace holiday snack.

I then moved on to the birthday cake flavor. This one came with frosting on the top as well, but only a little in the middle? I don’t have an explanation…

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I love it when birthday cake-themed foods are colorful, mixed with sprinkles, and come with a generous amount of frosting on top. The birthday cake @buffcake cookie is another dense, puffy cake-like flavor. It had a slight dry flavor (wasn’t as moist as snickerdoodle), but the frosting on top helped to some extent 😀🍰🍪

I’d say my second most favorite was Chocolate Donut.

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I’m a bit surprised as to how this is not the @buffbake Birthday Cake protein cookie flavor. With frosting and sprinkles like this, this is Chocolate Donut?! Well whatever its name is, I’ll take it 😉🍩🍪 #teamfrosting

If I have to pick between team vanilla or team chocolate, I’d go with vanilla only because I can’t handle dark chocolate or chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. That was the case with Chocolate Chocolate Chip. While it had a dense texture and was full-flavored, it was just too much chocolate. There, I said it.

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There is such a thing as too much chocolate, sorry!

And finally, I gave WCPB another shot. I still found it slightly drier and stiffer compared to the other flavors, but compare to the one I originally had, it fared much better.

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Alien cookie, 😛

It had a quirky shape and lotsa chocolate chips, but it added character.

Which of these cookie flavors speaks out to you?

A Hiatus from Life

A Hiatus from Life

Last year, I only had the chance to spend one full week with my family over the winter holidays. I had to fly back to LA a few days after Christmas in order to take care of things in lab that were time-sensitive. I spent New Year’s alone, and everything just felt out of place and deserted because others were lucky enough to spend all the time they could with their loved ones—my labmates included, haha.

Fortunately, I have some help this year and so I don’t have to rush back for anything. I am able to spend two whole weeks with my family to completely recharge, rest, run, and relax. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much relief departing LA! Even city girls need their sleep.

This whole week has been full of catching-up, and falling into a routine similar to how things used to be when I lived at home. Mornings have been spent sharing a coffee with my Dad at 7am, and splitting desserts and egg sandwiches at Panera.

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Pecan Braid from Panera Bread

I’ve been able to enjoy the fresh air during runs alongside the Arkansas River.

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Breathing in some cool, crisp air while running by the river.

The flat terrain and cold temperatures have allowed me to run at faster paces without TOO much effort 😉

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Pleased with my pace on this particular run 🙂

It’s also been nice to have access to a car, and just drive where I need to go. My sis and I went out a few times, just to run some errands, but even those moments have been so freeing! Blasting the radio and driving around town singing in the car with my sis has inevitably resulted in non-stop laughter and a dopamine high.

We’ve been splitting ice cream pints while watching stuff on Netflix, including this Confetti Cake ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s from Wal-Mart. It had a vanilla base, but there were chunks of birthday cake throughout and colorful bead-like sprinkles. I tried to cut the pint in half, but instead we did the safe thing and just scoop out half into a bowl.

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Pint night with the sis gets better when you find a cake-based flavor of ice cream!

I ate what was left in the carton, and that night we started Fuller House.

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Just look at the top of this thing!

We also went out to eat one night with my Dad before watching Moana at a discount price ($4/ticket!). We ended up going to Qdoba since neither of us have ever been, even though they have locations all around the country. 

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First time trying Qdoba…

The set-up reminded me of Freebirds, but the options were limited to what could be found at Chipotle. They didn’t have a veggie protein option though :/

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So orange + brown in here…

The three of us each got different things. My item was a “naked” burrito bowl with cilantro rice, black beans, greens, onions, tomatoes, corn salsa, hot sauce, and regular salsa.

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“Naked” Burrito Bowl

My sister and Dad got three veggie tacos and a veggie burrito respectively. My sis loved her tacos, but since my Dad found a long strand of hair in his burrito mid-way, it made sense that he lost his appetite and had his burrito refunded. I thought my burrito bowl tasted alright, but I felt the rice lacked flavor and overall, wished there was some veggie protein available to add some body to the bowl.

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Dad’s burrito and sister’s tacos.

The week concluded with some holiday dinners/lunches spent with family and friends which I’ll probably touch upon in the next post. We also have a quick trip to Texas planned, and then a few days left in Tulsa before I’ll have to fly back to LA! I’m definitely going to do my best to make the most of every single minute 😉

What’s your favorite part of the last two weeks of the year?

Qdoba Mexican Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Choc-A-Lot Lovin’

Choc-A-Lot Lovin’

When I lived near DTLA, it honestly sometimes felt like a chore to plan long runs on the weekends. When my marathon team was training, it was easier to run the long runs with them because of the company (safety in numbers!) and varied routes/locations each week. On my own however, I was restricted to a limited route in downtown that often included multiple loops, depending on if it was a 10 or 14 miler. I also had to be weary about the time I set out to go run, either due to weather or safety concerns.

While those urban runs have a soft spot in my heart, these circumstances have made me more grateful that I have the opportunity to live where I do now. Running to the beach, running alongside the beach, and just being in Santa Monica makes running so much more easier. Sometimes just running alongside the beach can get mundane, but the views are so humbling.

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Hello home 🙂

After I finished a 11 miler on Sunday, I had to stop and take in the moment atop some steps by the pier. Once I had my moment of gratitude, I continued on forward because a certain donut shop was calling my name 😉

Another thing I love about living in SaMo is the fact that there are so many amazing restaurants, cafes, and shops here that people from all over make their travel plans around. I was (and still am) that person who has a long list of all the foodie places I want to go to. When I first moved to LA, the majority of them were in Santa Monica/West LA, and since then, the list has grown to include even MORE places in the West side of the city…

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Sidecar Doughnuts!

One of those places was Sidecar Doughnuts. They recently opened shop in SaMo, expanding north from their roots in Costa Mesa. The line was already long when I came by a little before 10.

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Hipsters wait for doughnuts.

They had all sorts of fruity and seasonal flavors, but for some reason the chocolate flavor called out to me so loudly, haha. Maybe it was the glaze, glistening brightly through the glass.

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Um, yeah doughnuts!!

Everyone around me was getting sampler trays and boxes. I have yet to purchase more than one doughnut from a doughnut shop, but maybe one of these days I’ll have a reason to.

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That lady was busy picking out a box of doughnuts, lol

This time around, it was just me and this Choc-A-Lot doughnut 🙂

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Raised chocolate ring topped with chocolate glaze and cocoa nibs

The doughnut had a cake texture, and the chocolate glaze had solidified so that the cacao nibs on top stayed perfectly in place. It was photogenic and worthy of a food magazine cover shot.

I also had a latte on the side, but it was disgusting. Sidecar, just stick to doughnuts please…

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This latte, ick.

I would not call myself a doughnut person, but I would rank this particular doughnut high, high up there. Plus, all the Cali hipsters were here that Sunday morning. That’s gotta count for something right 😉 ?

Sidecar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap – Roanne’s Race 10k

Race Recap – Roanne’s Race 10k

I love running races organized by a local community, and Roanne’s Race fit the description perfectly.

Local race atmosphere
Local race atmosphere

We were planning on visiting some extended relatives who live in the Livermore area for a while now, and it just so happened that they were available the day the race was taking place. That’s the reason why a racing runner’s schedule is so perfect…most races are in the morning so that socializing with the rest of the normal world can take place during decent hours ;).

Bagels with cream cheese or peanut butter, grapes, and a morning pastry crumb cake of some sort were being served pre and post race.
Bagels with cream cheese or peanut butter, grapes, and a morning pastry crumb cake of some sort were being served pre and post race.

 —

My pre-race prep began when I woke up shortly after 6 am. After showering and assembling all of my race necessities, I had two cups of Chobani for my pre-race fuel. We left around 7:20am, in order to make it to the race around 8:30am, so I could pick up my bib. I was also given a free raffle ticket, which I used for entry to win a FitBand (there wasn’t anything else I was really interested in, plus you had to be present after the race to win, which I wasn’t…)

At the raffle table.
At the raffle table.

The starting line for the race was positioned on a trail road in a local park, and at that realization, I was wondering if this race would be a repeat of my trail adventure from March. Not that I didn’t like that race (it was one of my favorites actually), but it’s just that I wasn’t in the mood for a trail adventure that day. Fortunately, as I found out later, the first mile was on a trail path, but then it became a road path soon after.

Cuteness at the starting line.
Cuteness at the starting line.

Roanne’s Race was initiated in honor of a young woman who passed away at in her twenties due to colon cancer. Understandably, there was a moment of silence before lining up at the start line, in order to remember those like Roanne who lost their lives to cancer. After the communal moment of contemplation and some group stretching, the 10k runners were instructed to line up at the start…and then it was go time.

Group stretching.
Group stretching.

Like I said before, Mile 1 had us wind through the park on trail paths. There were two bridges that seemed to precariously hold us runners up, and gave us some “bounce” which added to our speed temporarily.

Around Mile 2, we ran alongside acres and acres of vineyards. The view was breathtaking, as the vineyards were stretched across rolling hills, and were neatly arranged and groomed.  Around Mile 2.5, we began to ascend on our first hill. I found a dad-and-son team to fall right behind and I eavesdropped on the father’s coaching of his son to “hang back” and “consolidate energy”. I was pretty much at the tip of their heels and they didn’t seem to mind or notice which I found slightly humorous.

Despite consolidating my energy on the ascent of the hill, I couldn’t help but run past the father-and-son team once I hit Mile 3, which was a turn-around point. From this mile all the way to the end, I zoned out for the most part. My pace slowed around Mile 4, but then picked up once I saw the vineyards again—knowing I was at least a mile away from the finish was a subconscious pick-me-up.

The finish!!
The finish!!

The thing about these local races, especially with 10ks, is that since there are not as many people to begin with, there is a lot more isolation towards the end of the race. After Mile 3, I was pretty much on my own, with a cluster of people several yards away from me, and a similar cluster several yards behind me. I do not mind the solace and peaceful air that comes with a solitary run, but I find myself to have a quicker, better pace when there are people around me. Otherwise, I feel content with going at a comfortable/slow-for-me pace, which is not exactly the most challenging thing I can do for myself…

Now this girl looks exhausted!
Now this girl looks exhausted!

I finished with a 9:49/mi pace according to my good ol’ Garmin, and picked up (three) goodie bags that contained commemorative stretchy race bracelets, Chewy bars, coconut water (generous sizes and flavors at that!), and informative pamphlets on colon cancer.

Refreshments for after the run :)!
Refreshments for after the run, and informative information!
Colon Cancer Awareness Table
Colon Cancer Awareness Table

After looking around for a bit, we decided to leave so I would have time to change into some fresh clothes and so we would have enough time to find our relatives’ place (which took an hour longer than it should have anyways…)

Shoe Table!
Shoe Table!

Overall, the race had great organization, and the course ran alongside a beautiful, scenic view. While a necklace or Biscoff jars are tempting incentives for runners, I’m very pleased that my registration fee for this race went to supporting a local community and a noble cause.

Which do you prefer–local or well-known races? I love local races for shorter distances (5k, 10k) but running well-known half-marathons helps with keeping boredom at bay since there are so many people around!

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