Labor Day Weekend ’17

Labor Day Weekend ’17

I can’t believe Labor Day weekend was only a few weeks ago…it feels like it’s been ages! This year’s holiday weekend was another one spent in lab for me (meaning no day trip to Malibu like last year…), but I did make the most of the snippets of free time I could gather.

My friend J from lab was given a handful of “1  free Perfect Bar” coupons, and gave them to me before checking out for the holiday weekend. He wasn’t a fan, and asked if I’d make use of them. Obviously, yes!

Free bars, woooo!
Free bars, woooo!

It was convenient for me to redeem them at Trader Joe’s as a on-the-go breakfast, since it’s on my way to campus.

Almond Butter is a classic, and it’s crumbly texture with sesame seeds on top reminded me of an Indian powder sweet (Sathu Maavu). I commented on Instagram on how it truly was a “Perfect Bar”!

"This really is perfection ✨"
“This really is perfection ✨”

Dark Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter had a softer, more compact texture, and enough mini chocolate chips on the top to add a cute touch. And given that these bars can cost up to $3-4 retail, I was very grateful to J for those handful of coupons!

"Another perfect flavor 🍫🥜🍪"
“Another perfect flavor 🍫🥜🍪”

On Friday evening of Labor Day weekend, E and I were invited to attend our friend’s birthday. She’s the sweetest undergraduate who works in a neighboring lab, and we were excited to celebrate the special day with her.

Dockweiler Beach Sunset
Dockweiler Beach Sunset

We carpooled with her and her roommates to Dockweiler, and found a spot on the beach to set up camp and lay out some food.  She’s a fan of this local African taco place, and so we had that catered along with other party food fare (chips, cake, cookies, etc).

Setting up a bonfire at Dockweiler Beach—another must-do for anyone living in LA!

More of her friends showed up, and as the sun set turned into night, we eventually were able to claim a fire pit and get a bonfire going! It definitely was a fun and memorable night.

Since I was spending Sunday night in lab, I did my best to finish up with my daily tasks on Saturday as quickly as possible. I was super hungry when I left, and didn’t want to venture out too far from my normal route home. Mod Pizza in Culver City was close enough, and pizza sounded appetizing, so that immediately became my destination.

Mod Pizza
Mod Pizza

The Art Lover is my go-to at Blaze, and at Mod Pizza, the closest thing I could find to that was Lucy Sunshine.

"First time trying Mod Pizza, and I was happy with my "Lucy Sunshine" choice 👍🏽 🍕. Red sauce dollops and artichoke hearts on a flat, crispy piece of CARB is really all you need 😜"
“First time trying Mod Pizza, and I was happy with my “Lucy Sunshine” choice 👍🏽 🍕. Red sauce dollops and artichoke hearts on a flat, crispy piece of CARB is really all you need 😜”

It was a smaller pie, but it did not lack in toppings. The mozzarella, parmesan, artichokes, garlic, and dollops of red sauce were all there.

The Culver City location was small and awkwardly placed facing the busy, traffic-packed Venice Rd., but it served its purpose as a clean dining area to sit down and finish off a pizza to fuel the rest of my Saturday.

Sunday was the day I was ready to dread, and since I would not be sleeping in the comforts of my bed that night, I took my time getting ready in the morning, before heading to campus.

I spent more time than I wanted to preparing for Monday’s early morning experiments, but I did give E a heads up on when I would be done, so she could meet me for an afternoon snack (and give me some company before I locked myself up in lab for the night!)

Cafe Amadine
Cafe Amadine

We found a cozy little spot called Cafe Amadine, and while they did have warm, savoy sandwiches, we opted for some frappucinos and split a banana cream cake slice. Wasn’t a fan of the cake (ugh, bananas!), but my green tea frapp was able to cover up the gross banana flavor, haha!

Sunday snackin'
Sunday snackin’

 After accompanying me back to lab, I said bye to E and settled in for my overnight stay. Funny how my Labor Day was definitely going to be packed with labor 😉

Natural Beauty

Natural Beauty

Last Friday was certainly one of the best days I’ve had in a while. It was the example of a perfect summer (and birthday) weekend. I still had lab duties during the day, but Fridays tend to be less-demanding, and I was able to meet my Dad a little after 3PM. We made our way over to Culver City, and took a short nap in the parking lot of a grocery store before heading over to the Hare Krishna Temple.

We’ve been wanting to pay the temple a visit since learning about its existence in LA. Since this would be my Dad’s last visit to SoCal before moving out-of-state, it was obviously a no-brainer to make the visit a priority this time.

The whole block by the temple is a quiet, residential area of condos/apartments that I later learned were mostly occupied by members and volunteers of the temple.

 Quiet stretch of apartments.
Quiet stretch of apartments.

The temple itself was a small, clean, and peaceful place for worship. One of the head patrons of the temple even spent a good half hour with us, explaining the history of this particular temple. We also took some time for ourselves for personal worship, and were amazed by the extremely diverse community visiting the temple. There didn’t seem to be any exclusivity, and everyone that came in was greeted warmly and with respect.

 Front of temple.
Front of temple.

Dinner was being served right next door, at Govinda’s Natural Food Buffet…a local favorite just based on the crowd.

 Small and cozy.
Small and cozy.

Inside, there was a humble-sized buffet line serving cold and hot foods, which change daily. There were even desserts and pizza being sold separately!

 Delicious looking line-up!
Delicious looking line-up!

The menu that night included a salad bar, brown and basmati ric, lentil soup, whole mung daal, chow mein, steamed cauliflower and carrots, sweet & sour steamed veggies with tofu sausage pieces, and apple halavah for dessert.

 Menu up above.
Menu up above.

I started off with a loaded salad, and a balanced plate of hot foods.

 Buffet Round 1 - Loaded salad with hot food plate including steamed carrots and cauliflower, brown rice, and sweet n sour veggies.
Buffet Round 1 – Loaded salad with hot food plate including steamed carrots and cauliflower, brown rice, and sweet n sour veggies.

I went back for another loaded plate, and unpictured dinner roll, and a sampling of the apple halavah.

 Buffet Round 2 - Loaded hot food plate including steamed carrots and cauliflower, shredded beets, tofu salad, mung daal, brown rice, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers.
Buffet Round 2 – Loaded hot food plate including steamed carrots and cauliflower, shredded beets, tofu salad, mung daal, brown rice, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers.
 Apple halawah - not too sweet, and had a mild apple flavor.
Apple halawah – not too sweet, and had a mild apple flavor.

After dinner, we stopped by Sprouts so I wouldn’t have to worry about grocery shopping for the week later. Then we drove over to Dockweiler just as the sun was starting to set. Perfection.

Beauty and the beach.

The weather was just right. The moment was just right. The Friday night crowd was just right (mini beach bonfires everywhere!). And being able to enjoy this natural beauty with my Dad—who I probably won’t see until winter—made it all the more perfect.

Of course, getting back home was far from being perfect because TRAFFIC. By the time I was all good and settled back at the apartment, it was almost 9:40PM. Still, I made time for B&J’s while watching The Daily Show with Dad before going to bed.

 Buffet Round 1 - Loaded salad with hot food plate including steamed carrots and cauliflower, brown rice, and sweet n sour veggies.
Chocolate ice cream? Tasted more like a frozen chocolate mint  bar, so all was good. The swirls were barely there, but at least the cookie balls made up for it! They also kept their firm crunch too!

It’s days like these that make me wish every evening could end the same way 

What is your best summer evening memory?

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MTR: Week 15

MTR: Week 15

The big 2-0 wasn’t so bad. Actually, I think I would go as far as to say it was calming and hypnotic. The Strand (a bike/running path near that runs through Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach) is one of my most favorite places to run, since there is always so much activity—-even as early as 8:00am on a Sunday morning. 

Sunday – LSD 20 miler group run at 10:03/mi

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – 6 mile morning solo run at 9:51/mi

Wednesday –  6 mile morning solo run at 9:55/mi

Thursday –  8 mile morning solo run at 9:39/mi

Friday – Rest

Saturday –  13.1 mile race at 9:24/mi [and new HM PR!]

Total Mileage ->   53.1 miles

Since our team wanted to finish up our run early before the sun came out and before the temperature started to rise, we had to leave our carpool spot at 7:00am, which meant I had to wake up an extra half hour early (which doesn’t seem to be a problem for me these days, since I’ve been getting up as early as 4am…). I was able to finally pick up a water bottle with a running strap over the weekend (Nathan Sports QuickShot Plus), and some Clif Shot Bloks in Tropical Punch!

MTR15 (1)

I was excited to find a tiny enough bottle that fit to the outside of my hand, and the straps were snug, but not too tight. The bottle itself holds about 10 oz. of water, and it got me through the first 13 miles. The zippered pouch on the outside was also the perfect size to hold my Shot Bloks once they were packaged tight in a ziploc baggie. 

By the time we got to our starting point at Dockweiler Beach, used the restroom, and gathered around our team captain to hear the route directions just to make sure we knew where we were going, we were off before my Garmin hit 8:00AM.

What was great about this run was being able to stick with a running buddy for 17 miles. My teammate was a trooper—carrying two plastic water bottles in each hand, and running without fuel because she couldn’t find GU at the store. I understood her predicament, and so I let her know before we started the run that she could ask for one of my Shot Bloks anytime to try it out. As a result, I ended up with a running buddy for the majority of the run 🙂

Stuffing six, squishable Shot Bloks in a Ziploc bag that conveniently fit into the running bottle case.

Since I knew what to expect on the run up until we hit Harbor Parkway, it was not too difficult to “force” myself into getting distracted. The weather was cool and damp with overcast skies overhead. Being so close to the ocean, my skin began to feel sticky within the first 0.5 miles. It wasn’t the best feeling, but the Sunday morning ocean views were phenomenal. Running past the refinery, yogis perched on shed roofs (seriously!), and surfers retreating from their early morning surf were the sights that started off my run and put me in the zone.

My buddy and I left the Strand and ended up running inland versus trying to get back to running along the coast. We completely avoided a steep hill that we were supposed to come across before the turnaround at mile 10, and instead pushed on through Torrance, and the edge of Palos Verdes (from the residential side). My knees were starting to feel sore around the halfway point at mile 9—approaching 10—but it went away as soon as we turned around. 

I consumed my first Shot Blok at mile 11.8, and offered one to my running buddy as well. She compared it to tasting like a Starburst, and I could see where she was coming from, since it did have some strong fruity flavors. The effects of the small chew kicked in about 0.5 miles after consuming it, which was when I needed it the most! Miles 13-15 were hard to get through (mentally) even though we decided to run along the coast again.

I had two more Bloks at Mile 16.8, and the last two at around Mile 17.1, along with gulp-fulls of water from a nearby water fountain. That was exactly what I needed to get me through the final three miles. I felt a lot more energy as I approached our starting point, and finished in 3:21:00 solid, with a 10:03/mi pace!!

I had to leave as soon as I finished, since my ride had to get back as soon as he was done, so I didn’t have time to ask my running buddy how she felt the Shot Blok helped her (if it did at all). I suppose I’ll find out at out at our team’s final long run before we officially taper!

For the rest of the week, I ran my 6-8-6, even though it was mentally a struggle to get through each of them. I had to push up my long run (which would have been a 14 miler with my team) for Week 16 to Saturday, since I signed up for a half marathon (which I plan to recap in a separate post) to coincide with a visit home for the holiday weekend. So next week’s MTR will look pretty light compared to this week’s total of 53 miles, but I do look forward to having a rest day on a Sunday 😉

Do you run with your own water bottle/container on long runs? Or stop for it along the way?

MTR: Week 4

MTR: Week 4

Hard to believe that one month has passed in regards to my marathon training! In all honesty, it feels like my normal running routine so far, but the LSD miles are packing on—and fast.

Sunday’s LSD run was literally a surprise to me until about half an hour before the scheduled run, since the email notification for our group was down. We ended up carpooling over to Dockweiler State Beach, so we were pretty much in the same area as the Woodchips run from last week.

I was bracing myself for a 11-miler, but when one of the captains “cheerfully” announced that the day’s run would be a 12 miler, I felt as though I should be both smiling and grimacing: smiling for the fact that I would have an extra mile tacked on to my total mileage for the week, and grimacing about the idea of running an additional mile I hadn’t “mentally” prepared for. But the run went well overall though, despite some minor aches in  my thigh/knee area after mile 10. 

TURKEY TROT craziness!!!
TURKEY TROT craziness!!!

Sunday – LSD 12.6 miler at 9:40/mi, with the team

Monday – Rest

Tuesday –  5 miler solo run at 9:24/mi

Wednesday – Rest (although 8 hours on a bus doesn’t seem as restful as it sounds…)

Thursday –  10k race! and ran my fastest 10k to date at 8:43/mi

Friday – 3.3 miler solo run on “old” routine route at 9:21/mi

Saturday – Rest

Total Mileage -> 27.1 miles

The highlight of my week though was the turkey trot I participated in! Recap soon to come, but to summarize, I was able to beat my current 10k PR from this race with a pace of 8:43/mi! Friday’s run was a 3.3 miler on a route most familiar to me since it was the one I always ran on before moving to LA. The rest of the day was spent napping/catching up with old friends while doing homework at Starbucks/watching movies. I would definitely say Week 4 turned out to be a great running week in regards to my marathon training progress 😀 !

Did you do any running over the Thanksgiving holiday? 

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