Birthday Weekend, Day 1

Birthday Weekend, Day 1

After my birthday, my work week continued on as usual—long days filled with experiments, coffee breaks, and moments of eye droopiness at the computer, haha!

When Friday night rolled around, I was so excited for my friend’s arrival! She’s the one my sister and I visited during Thanksgiving,  and she came around 10pm. We stayed up till midnight just catching up and talking. We planned to stay local on Saturday, and then venture out to the OC on Sunday.

She woke up leisurely, while I got up a little earlier to get a morning run in. I also had to go by lab, so we did that, and then drove back to Santa Monica for lunch…at Bondi Harvest.

Bondi Harvest
Bondi Harvest

It’s a relatively new establishment, with the inside and exterior decor carrying themes of the Australian coast. Many of the menu items were small, brunch-like items with unique ingredient combinations of fresh quality.

Friend's eggs, tomato, and toast.
Friend’s eggs, tomato, and toast.

My friend got a simple plate of toast with a poached egg and roasted tomato. She was an immediate fan of the tomato, because of how proportionately seasoned it was.

I chose to get something that had a prominent feature in their menu: Whirley’s Bowl.

Whirley's Bowl
Whirley’s Bowl

It was a bowl containing chimichurri, dressed cauliflower rice, slaw, avocado, yogurt tartar and salsa…I said no thank you to the fish!

An interesting combo of flavors and textures...
An interesting combo of flavors and textures…

The slaw was a fruity, citrus slaw, and definitely elevated the flavor profile of the bowl. The large half of avocado also seemed like an overwhelming addition. I’m not sure I’d order this again if I ever came back to BH, but I didn’t regret my decision too much. Though I did doubt my decision NOT to get eggs and toast (and tomato).

After lunch, we tried to figure out what else to do in SaMo besides shop and go to the beach. I did want to see what the Santa Monica Stairs was all about (thinking it featured a colorful, painted outdoor staircase), but when we made the drive up to north of Brentwood, it was literally just a steep, wooden staircase with a bunch of buff guys and gals running reps up and down in Lululemon and Nike.

Santa Monica Stairs
Santa Monica Stairs

We climbed on flight just to say “we did it”, and then drove off to Brentwood.

We didn’t do much in Brentwood either, just walk up and down San Vicente. Because of the heat, heading back home to rest up and figure out dinner plans seemed like such a reasonable idea.

Once at home, we turned on the fan (because my room was like a sauna, ughhh), and made the executive decision to get coffee (after 4pm, haha) and read/do work at a coffee shop before having dinner.

This wasn’t a bad idea at all, since it was the perfect opportunity to try Phillz Coffee, and get caught up on some data analysis.

Phillz Coffee, 3rd St. Promenade
Phillz Coffee, 3rd St. Promenade

I was surprised that there was such a demand for Phillz Coffee after 4pm, on a Saturday, but this was the case as we soon figured from the long line trailing towards the front entrance.

Honestly, it was just for the iced coffee topped with mint leaves…another capture for the ‘gram…because based on my experience, the coffee was too bitter and nothing special.

Agh, couldn't finish this...
Agh, couldn’t finish this…

I couldn’t stomach the whole cup. Perhaps if I had had the barista pour some milk or cream, it could have made a difference, but Phillz was so not worth the hype.

But I did get some data analysis done, so there’s that!

And to conclude our eating adventures for the day, we stumbled upon CAVA, a fast-growing, Chipotle-for-Mediteranean-food kind of place. I first came across it in Culver City, but was ecstatic to try it for the first time with the company of my friend.

CAVA, Santa Monica
CAVA, Santa Monica

She got a bowl for her base, but I wanted some bready carbs, so I chose to get a pita stuffed with falafel, veggies, and apricot sriracha…yesssss.

That. Sauce. Though.
That. Sauce. Though.

We were able to enjoy our meal outside since it was finally starting to cool down, and after gobbling down everything to the last morsel, we headed back home and relaxed for the rest of the night with a movie on Netflix.

Another shot from CAVA
Another shot from CAVA

I probably would have died of boredom if I had stayed local the entire day (since I practically run the same roads everyday, the scenery had become too familiar, haha!), but having my friend by my side certainly made it a fantastic day 🙂

Philz Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

What I’ve Gained

What I’ve Gained

I honestly can’t believe that March flew by so fast…to be honest, I’ve been in an emotional whirlwind for almost a month and a half! I sort of hinted at these feelings in an earlier post (that I literally feel like I wrote yesterday…), but now I feel like I’m comfortable with going more in detail.

My eating disorder first plagued me when I was in my senior year of high school, and I would say it had a firm grasp on me up until late 2015, when I finally started making steps towards real recovery. For 5 1/2 years, the only relationship I cared about was the one I had with food: how I could control it, make certain foods fit into a day, nap away hours in the afternoon just so I could eat again for dinner…it was barely an existence. 

havingmultipleplates offood
With each day passing day, it slowly becomes easier to push those thoughts and honor/respect my body enough to go back for seconds, thirds, and fourths at a dinner, even after a full day of eating. Starving all day just to save my calories for the end of the day doesn’t make sense to me anymore…

When they say an ED becomes your one and only relationship, nothing could be truer. Yes, my Dad and close friends were still nearby, but food took priority no matter what. I would sacrifice going out to a restaurant to hang out with my sister and our close friends just to avoid the calories. I would shout at my Dad for buying too many yogurts or granola canisters because they tempted me to binge. All because I had to live by a number, and ANYONE who got in the way of that would see the worst of me…

So to say that taking the plunge and going into recovery full force only helped me physically would be an understatement. I repaired not only a relationship with myself over the course of 2016, but I also repaired old relationships as well as planted the seeds for new ones. Therapy helped me to understand why I thought about things a certain way, as well as find ways to be okay with things as they are.

When my sister and I saw my Dad over the holidays this past year, the three of us had an emotional, yet necessary, talk about the future. It was the first time we heard all the details of my Dad’s story, and having such a deep, emotionally-revealing discussion with both my Dad and sister made me feel so much more grateful for them. The discussion also helped to make me feel more comfortable with the idea of being open to pursuing a romantic relationship, or at least taking the steps to get to such a relationship in the future.

So that’s when I began to feel all the feels…and the first guy I thought about was That Tall Guy…let’s call him TTG (name changed for privacy, chose to go with the first thing my guy friend from my lab said when I told him about this whole thing, lol).

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The Culver City Stairs at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook—a challenge E and I took on this weekend in order to be rewarded with glorious views of the city from the top.

Preparing for my qualifying exam in January was enough to keep my feelings in check, as stress for that took over. But once that was taken care of, those flitter-flutter butterfly feelings started to come up again, and I couldn’t shake the thoughts of trying to see if something with That Tall Guy could work.

Around the time I visited my cousin, these feelings were growing even more, and I felt like I just HAD to tell someone or I would burst. My sister was the first one to know since we talk about everything as it comes up in our lives, but my friend E was the first one I told among the people I see on a daily basis (actually on my bus ride back after visiting my cousin) and since she has been actively trying to get her love life together too (lol), we thought these would be “fun distractions” to have while we continued on with our mundane lab lives 😛

Funny thing was, I started to see TTG a lot more frequently since my confession to E. He started using the same facility that I use for some of my experiments. He is a quiet/shy person in general, and I think that’s one of the things that attracted me to him. This also made things quite complicated as I soon learned. I knew that the first step in this whole process was to make him aware of my existence, so I began initiating conversations. Being the first one to say hello, how’s it going, following up on something that he may have mentioned in previous days…

IMG_0059
Hello LA.

But it wasn’t like I was starting from scratch. Just a year ago, we were in the same class, and saw each other at least 2-3x a week for a two hour lecture. I thought he was attractive then too, but the feelings weren’t as strong (or I made myself ignore them/not allow myself to sit with them). I was also working on myself (recovery, body image issues, starting therapy) and so my thoughts were more focused on myself than seeking out a relationship. Then summer, fall, and winter came, and I rarely saw him for the rest of the year since I became plenty busy with lab/my qualifying exam.

So when I did have time to start thinking about him again, on top of the fact that I was now seeing him again on a close to daily basis, I couldn’t deny that I had feelings for him. These feelings felt so new and exhilarating—I was feeling euphoric for the first time in a long while! I didn’t mind staying in lab longer, and since my experiments weren’t time-sensitive, I tried to match my schedule to his so as not to be too obvious, but still increase the likelihood I’d encounter him. I was the first one to say hi, ask how he was/how his project was going, and smile a lot. It was so unlike me, but I was feeling adventurous and ready to get out of my comfort zone.

IMG_0061
Reflecting on things after the ascent.

I started leaving lab later because I learned mid-way through this whole lovesick journey that he took the same train I did, except in the opposite direction. One day, E and I secretly followed him (lol) just to see where he was going when leaving for the day, and that’s when we confirmed he didn’t drive to work. I felt like I had found a hidden clue to solving this “guy mystery”.

Over the course of several weeks, my mind may have exaggerated things to mean more than what they were, but I couldn’t help but think these coincidental (and intentional, lol) encounters, exchanged smiles, and reaching out for help meant something more. He sent me a very thoughtful email asking to borrow an item from our lab, and E and I were practically squealing when writing up a reply. Infatuation at its peak I suppose.

IMG_0080
When you reach the climax.

After weeks of trying to time my Monday morning train ride with his, both our trains ended up at the stop at the same time. I literally had to power walk behind him just to catch up, but once I did, I initiated conversation. After asking how his project was going, he asked how my weekend was. When I asked the same question in return, that’s when he dropped the G word. I hadn’t seen him over the weekend because his GF was in town.

I played it cool, wished him a good day, and as soon as I got to lab I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. I then texted E and my sister. The game was over.

But because he is such a nice guy, I wanted to keep things as normal as possible. I still said hey to him when I saw him, and asked how is project was going. As the days went by, my feelings calmed down and in their place emotional exhaustion set in. I left lab early on some days, just to get home and rest up. I drifted from disappointment, sadness, irritation, anger, and fatigue.

RX_mintchocolate
I left lab very early one day during the week, due to just feeling emotionally exhausted. Stopped by Sprouts and bought this bar. Instagram review —> “So happy to see that Sprouts has started to carry more RX Bars…including the Mint Chocolate flavor! It’s the last one I’ve been needing to try, and upon opening it, I was hit by a friendly peppermint-y aroma. Other than that, it pretty much tasted like the coconut flavor only because of it’s mixed-up texture, with the chocolate chunks and chopped nuts and all that 😋😋😋”

Overall, I see this as a life lesson. I’m grateful that I experienced such euphoria for six weeks. It proved to me—if anything—that I am continuing to push away from my eating disorder past and seek relationships. Even after hearing TTG had a GF, I did not feel the need to go to a mirror and body check. I knew that there was nothing wrong with ME, and that for whatever reason, the timing wasn’t right.

Yeah, we never went out for coffee. There was no first date, and I didn’t learn anything new about him besides what he does in his lab, but I held my head high and carried on as usual. I felt exhausted, but the self-confidence I gained over the past six weeks still seemed to stick around. I may have not gotten the guy, but this chase has rewarded me with so much more.

IMG_0060
♥♥♥

I honored myself with time to sit with my feelings, but then I respected myself to move forward from this experience. I’m just going to continue to keep doing what’s right for me. Continue to shower myself with lots of love, doing what makes me happy, making sure I feel my best…when the time is right, and when I am at my happiest, that one person will be there.

When I least expect it.

Saucony Women’s Cohesion 9 Running Shoes

Saucony Women’s Cohesion 9 Running Shoes

As a runner increases her weekly mileage, the monthly miles quickly add up as well. Since marathon training began, and since I have been genuinely wanting to increase my weekly mileage, I’ve also been keeping a close watch on my shoe wear and tear.

shoes (7)
600+ miles

The outer appearance of my shoes are usually fine, but I ended up feeling the effects of their overuse as soon as they reached the 450 mark.

shoes (6)
The bottom looks good, but the inside was getting flatter and my feet were giving my signs to switch out.
shoes (8)
Evidence of picking up dirt 😛

I got these Saucony Women’s Cohesion 9 Running Shoes as a gift from my Dad over the holidays, and now, they almost have 200 miles on them…

shoes (3)
Hello new shoes!

I was wearing my New Balance Vongos from August to December of last year. They had hit the 600 mile mark by the time I made the switch.

shoes (2)
Since my @newbalance Vongos now have about 600+ miles on them, I thought it was time to break in a new pair before grinding out the next few months of marathon training. Hopefully these from @saucony can keep up! 😉

I broke the Sauconys in on Christmas, with a short 3 miler at River Park. They’re definitely less bulky and more snug than the Vongos, but they also have some extra room at the top of the toe box. This would be good, but like most other running shoes, they taper along the side so the “extra” room at the top would only be accessible to my big toe if it were big enough!

shoes (5)
I love the blue/teal/white color scheme of these shoes!

According to my Dad, they were priced at a good deal of $35. Honestly can’t do much less than that when it comes to a brand-name running shoe. Considering I dropped $120 on my Vongos as an emergency attempt to fix the posterior shin splint pain I had been suffering though late summer of last year, the Sauconys WERE a steal!!

shoes (4)
Fresh feet.

I plan on using these well into training and running with them in LA. They’ve already tread rainy grounds and the muddy hills of Palos Verdes, so might as well continue their adventures trekking across the entire city of LA.

shoes (1)
Ready to run

How much would you spend on running/workout shoes?

Race Recap – Hard Rock Cafe 10k 2016

Race Recap – Hard Rock Cafe 10k 2016

Last Saturday, I ran the Hard Rock Cafe 10k once again. I paired it with a weekend voting adventure that ended up being more memorable than I thought it would. The turmoil I faced in the afternoon did not make me regret the race though!

halo-top-peanut-butter-cup
Over the weekend, I also tried the last Halo Top flavor I needed to try out of the ten new flavors! Caption from Insta —> The day has finally arrived! I tried out the last of the new Halo Top flavors—Peanut Butter Cup! Honestly I was expecting for there to be peanut butter CUP CHUNKS, but there was a hardened peanut butter swirl. In my pint, it was mostly at the bottom, and surprisingly didn’t have much flavor even though it looked like PB. While I did expect this pint to be more fantastic than it actually was, it was not too bad. If you were at the store and this and Oatmeal Cookie were your options, get THIS first!! Haha. 👉🏽 Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough > Pistachio & Black Cherry & S’mores > Sea Salt Caramel >> Red Velvet & Peanut Butter Cup >> Chocolate Almond Crunch > Cookies and Cream & Oatmeal Cookie. 🍦 And there you have it, my opinion on all the new Halo Top! Now please excuse me while I stock up on all the Cookie Dough pints 😏 .

I woke up incredibly early in order to catch a 5AM train. Ugh it was far from what I wanted to do in regards to getting to the race start, but I did make it to Hollywood and Highland, fortunately all in one piece!

walk
Early morning start!

I picked up my race shirt and bib, and seeing as there was no packet pick-up YET AGAIN, I had to wear the shirt over my current shirt. I also got a cappuccino from Starbucks in the meantime, before assembling with the other runners at the race start.

shirt
Race shirt and walking around the start/finish

The race began at 7AM, and the path was pretty much a 3 mile out and back in regards to the 10k. It was a run down Hollywood Boulevard, and we turned around at the border of Los Feliz. I honestly felt so light and free for the first three miles. My pace was sub 8:00 for a while and then slowly crept up after mile 3.

My breath and legs were catching up to me, but I didn’t feel so exhausted to the point that I had to slow down. I had a major dip at mile 5, but then had enough energy to kick it to the finish.

I ended up with a pace of 8:12/mi ! My current 10K Race PR!

Like last year, there wasn’t much in terms of goodies.

shorts
Bai and Nesquik were here this time…but something new were the Turkey Trot LA 2015 shorts!!

They had the Nesquik truck again, but they also at least had Bai and this guy giving out LA Turkey Trot 2015 shorts! Obviously I thought the shorts were the best of all the race goodies being given out, even if they were more like bloomers, haha!

medal
Ohh shiny medal!

I left for North Hollywood soon after since I wanted to get voting out of the way (lol) but overall I was glad with how the race ended up. My last race experience in Hollywood was terrible so Saturday’s race definitely made up for that ordeal!

What would be a cool post-race freebie for a company to hand out?

New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo Running Shoes

New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo Running Shoes

I mentioned in an earlier post (this one actually) that since mid-July, I have been dealing with a posterior shin splint isolated on my left leg. Interesting thing is, I found that using a compression bandage (like the one found at Walgreens) happened to help a lot! I’ve been wrapping it around the sore area a few hours before my run or the night before, and it seems to do the trick as I don’t feel the sharp pain I felt when I was running before. So a $2 bandage seems to be the solution versus a $20 Graston treatment—go figure! 

When the pain first appeared though, I went through a list of items trying to figure out what the problem was and how to fix it. I was thinking my now-older, orange Newtons, which had 500+ miles at this point, could be an issue, and I visited a local running store to get their opinion. The guy helping me out was pretty knowledgable, and helped me narrow down some options that provided arch support, cushioning, and some stabilization for my overpronation. I’ve had a tendency to over pronate since my high school tennis days, and while it’s not a major issue, having shoes that help prevent the pronation occur less can go a long way. 
 
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Color Selection: Black with Bayside & Lava
 
I ended up deciding on a pair of New Balance Vongos. When I put them on at the store, they had a cushy feel, and while the height was not exactly as extreme as my Hoka’s of past, they felt higher off the ground compared to my Newtons.  
 
The color combination also was eye-catching, so that was definitely a deal maker. 
 
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That criss-cross though
 
My Dad and I used to joke that New Balance shoes are “old people shoes”, and even Saturday Night Live made a skit about it. For me however, I don’t really care as long as they allow me to run properly, aid in healing my injury (that is now responding to a treatment!), and perhaps even help me to run faster! 
 
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Flat & spacious
 
At the time of this review, these shoes will have about ~150 miles on them. I also swapped out the inserts with some other stabilizing inserts for extra support just in case. So far, things are going pretty smoothly.
 
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These inserts already look pressed in lol

We’ll just see how things still are another 100 miles down the road 😉

TKO Resistance Bands Review

TKO Resistance Bands Review

When it comes to exercise and working out, running has been my go-to for the longest time. I also hit the gym for weights, but that’s always first to go if I am crunched for time. For me, it’s easier to lace up my shoes, run for a specific distance/time, come back and call it a day. But I have been wanting to get more serious with my time spent in the gym.

When I was asked to review TKO’s 4-way resistance bands, I was excited to try out something that would help with the mundane gym routine that was tiring me out mentally more than physically!

It came packaged nicely in a cardboard box that featured a very fit woman going to town with the bands.

tko

When I opened the box, the bands appeared to be very similar to the ones pictured on the box.

tko__

I carried them to the gym with me, and found it easy to loop two of the handles over my feet, and held the other two handles with my hands. As far as what exercises are doable with them, I found it practical to do exercises that isolate the shoulders, arms, and back. Because the resistance bands don’t come apart, it was difficult to do any exercises that work the legs. I even tried tying one end to a stationary pole while stretching the other end with my foot to try and do a hip exercise, but the bands didn’t hold up too well.

While they may only be useful for upper body workouts, at least they also work as a stretching aid. One handle can easily be looped over one foot, which would allow for some quality leg stretches. In this sense, these bands would probably be extremely beneficial after a hard long run when I would definitely need to stretch out any muscles before the go stiff!

Overall, I would recommend these bands for upper body exercises and leg stretches, but not for leg exercises that especially target the hips and glutes. However, if there is a way to use them for legs, I’d love to know about that! In the meantime, I’ll be keeping them nearby when a tiring long run is scheduled 😉

Do you work out with resistance bands?

Newton Mens Motion Stability Trainer 11 Running Shoes

Newton Mens Motion Stability Trainer 11 Running Shoes

This post is actually MONTHS overdue, but here it is. I retired my Hokas after pounding them through some serious mileage for the past year. I also realized that even though the maximalist shoe style may have been trendy, they were causing me to develop some deep calluses on the sides of my feet and toes.

So I decided that my next pair should be “closer” to the ground, a different brand, and $35 for them wasn’t a bad deal either!

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Newton Mens Motion Stability Trainer 11 Running Shoes

Brooks, Hoka One One, and now Newton! I ended up getting this bright orange pair that’s meant for men mostly because of the cheap price, but they were described as being perfect for road racing and over-pronators (*waves hand*).

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Side of box

And as a budding scientist who moonlights as a foodie/runner, it’s nice to have my worlds mesh though a pair of running shoes…haha.

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Newton’s Laws (of Running)

On the bottom of the shoe, there is a hole underneath the heel which supposedly helps with push-off and landing—I think. Well, at least it looks intriguing, and it reminds me of a gecko’s hands 😛

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So bright, so orange, so much pop!

As a stability shoe, they have firmer foam underneath the arch. My first couple runs in them helped me to push harder, and I felt much closer to the ground after spending so many months in extra-padded pillow shoes. I did love my time in my Hoka’s, but feeling closer to the ground was probably better for my feet.

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Lacing up for the first time!

Can you believe I already have almost 100 miles on these? And it’s only been 2 1/2 months since I purchased them?! Not to mention, they already have scuff marks near the toebox from a rainy day run.

I guess this means another pair will be in my future…hmmm, I’m thinking Vibrams maybe?

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I forgot what was so important about this pictures. Just comes to show how long this post has been overdue!!

Have you ever bought running shoes meant for the opposite gender because it was cheaper?

For the Feet

For the Feet

As an avid runner, and a grad student who’s on her feet pretty much all day due to the nature of the experiments I have to run, I go through socks like a snake sheds its skin!

I have been on the lookout for even more comfort with this “second skin”, since my feet have developed tough, thick calluses from all of the running and physical activity they have been going through.

Just as the words “more socks” made it to my shopping list, I was contacted to review some socks/comfort footwear items by Kushyfoot. I scratched off that item from my shopping list with much excitment, eager to try not only a new-to-me product line, but to sample items made with the intention of providing comfort to exhausted feet!

I received four different items to try, ranging from the usual athletic sock to fold-up flats!

 I love samples!
I love samples!

I tried one out of the three pairs of athletic socks first. For a long run of course, hence the poor lighting in the pic!

 Don't mind the weird foot curl...
Don’t mind the weird foot curl…

The socks themselves were thick and soft, and had plenty of padding in the toe/ball area of the foot and heels—basically extra material in all the right places.

 The chevron pattern adds to the padding!
The chevron pattern adds to the padding!

I wore these on a split long run day where I ran five miles in the early morning and five remainder miles a few hours later with my marathon team from last year. I also had to go into lab later that morning, and even though I was on my feet for another three hours, my feet felt comfortable and cozy.

Sure, I felt like face-planting in bed after another busy day (even on the weekend!) but at least my feet were able to manage 😛

Speaking of beds, I ended up utilizing the pair of toeless socks with grip not for yoga or stretching, but rather as sleep socks. I used to wear thick winter ankle socks—almost like slippers—but I realized that didn’t make much sense here in LA where the night weather can be just as hot as the daytime. These toeless yoga socks were the perfect solution: form-fitting, light, and had just enough grip on the bottom to prevent any falls or trips I could have when walking half-asleep in the middle of the night to the bathroom.

 Toeless socks, but comfort-full!
Toeless socks, but comfort-full!

Along with the regular athletic sock, I was given a pair of hot pink below-the-ankle socks to try, which had added gel padding on the inside near the heel. I found this pair to be quite thin, so even though they were meant to be used as a “sports foot cover”, I don’t think they would have been able to withstand the demands of endurance training long distance runs or an intense cardio session. They did seem to work well as an everyday pair though, fitting well inside some simple flats.

 Back-of-the-foot comfort!
Back-of-the-foot comfort!

Last but not least, the fold-up flats! I wore these to lab/class, and they held up really well! You’d think that since they are small and thin enough to fold up and fit inside a purse that they would be too flimsy for outside wear, but that wasn’t the case for me.

 Stylish, despite the slipper feel
Stylish, despite the slipper feel

I wouldn’t run a mile in them, but I could certainly walk to lab, up the stairs to class, and back home again without feeling like my “shoes” tore. And I’ve got to say…the color went well with my unpictured peplum top and destructed denim 😉

How often do you go through pairs of socks (to the point have as many holes as swiss cheese 😛 )?

The 10 x 10 Challenge

The 10 x 10 Challenge

Starting on June 23rd, I set out to do my biggest running challenge yet (besides running my first marathon)…run 100 miles over the course of 10 days. In other words, the 10 x 10 challenge. I happened to first learn about it from other blogs, and apparently it started off as a challenge on Facebook. I thought that since I had the time (work in lab has been relatively calm compared to my crazy schedule in May!), and since I was starting to feel bored with just trying to “maintain” at 30 miles a week, I thought why not give this challenge a go?

Throughout the challenge, I learned a lot about what I could accomplish (it’s all about mindset!), some running-related tips to keep in mind for the future, and I also used it as an opportunity to try various Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors since I was on-the-go for ten straight days.

–◊–

Day 1 – I set my alarm for 5:30am, and didn’t wake up a minute earlier. I didn’t feel too tired, and actually felt ready to go and start this whole thing! I broke down the 10 mile goal in my mind, mentally “tricking” myself into thinking it was just a 6 mile run as usual, with an added 4 mile “cool down”. Before leaving for the run, I had some mulberries as pre-run fuel.

 Discount mulberries!
Discount mulberries!

I returned ~ 1 hr and 40 minutes later, and prepped dinner while munching on some Quest Bars as my post-run fuel. After dinner was set and cooking in the crockpot, I stopped by my apartment complex’s gym for a quick lower-body workout, and then went about my day as usual, doing my usual weekday things.

Day 2 – I woke up still feeling sleepy when my alarm buzzed at 5:30AM, but I still managed to get out the door after consuming two Quest Bars. I was able to mentally convince myself again that it would just be another 6 + 4 mile run. Once I hit the 6 mile mark, I could feel it start to warm up considerably, and I knew my hair was going to be a sweaty mess after this! Still, I was able to zone out, despite my quads getting sore around the 8-9 mile mark.

After the run, I prepped dinner and finished up my exercise-packed morning with an upper-body lifting session. In the hours that followed, I went about my day as usual, even though taking a nap didn’t seem like such a bad idea!

Since my energy levels did feel like they were taking a dip, I figured that after running 20 miles over two days made me deserving of an extra treat that would also keep me going for tomorrow’s run.

I had been eyeing the Red Velvet Cake flavor of Ben & Jerry’s—which is only in stock near me at a local pharmacy—just for this purpose.

D2 - RVC
Oh yes!

It literally tasted like a frozen slice of red velvet cake! The cake pieces were somewhat soggy, and had the consistency of rubbery marshmallows, but given that they were mixed in with ingredients that were cold and wet, this would have to be excusable 😉 .

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Pink ice cream 🙂

The cream cheese frosting swirl somehow managed to keep its texture and flavor, and the pink color of the ice cream brightly illuminated the living room (okay, a slight exaggeration, but it was enough to make my roommate notice my evening treat!)

Day 3 – I think the ice cream helped from Day 2, because I surprisingly ran at a faster pace on Day 3. After stopping by lab in the morning, I left early for a doctor’s appointment, and spent the rest of my afternoon running some errands since I had to make the trip all the way to Beverly Hills in the first place.

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Hangin’ in Beverly Hills

Running 10 miles in the morning + walking all over town left me with a sore left heel (the sneakers and thin socks I was wearing only exacerbated the issue), but fortunately it wasn’t debilitating enough to interrupt my challenge.

I was able to fit in another pint that night—Blondie Ambition, which I ended up finding at a grocery store closer to my apartment, even though I wasted waited almost forty minutes at a City Target closer to the doctor’s office for an employee to check if they still had any more of the flavor.

Even though the bus ride home took longer than my usual weekend trips (that forty minutes waiting around in Target cost me much more time waiting on the roads…), being able to come home and have a new pint to try after dinner was quite an incentive.

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Blondie Ambition

This flavor surprisingly “took the cake” (sorry Red Velvet!). The ice cream was a sweet buttercream flavor (it was certainly very smooth!), and it had blondie chunks and crunchy toffee pieces—that were able to maintain their crisp texture—strewn in. I can honestly say I was slightly melancholy when the pint was demolished.

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Blondies and Toffee <3

Day 4 – My legs stayed sore (specifically upper/inner quads), but it was not debilitating enough to keep me from running. Once I was out the door and running, the soreness subsided, and my mood even picked up. It helped that the morning weather was overcast, but as my run progressed, I was a sticky mess once again. The last two miles were mentally challenging, but I persevered and went about my day.

I felt an incredible feeling of exhaustion around afternoon, and 3:00pm easily felt like 6:00pm. I still had to stop by the grocery store, and so in the process, picked up another pint along with my groceries. I originally was saving this one for Saturday night, but I couldn’t wait—the physical exertion and mental exhaustion from the week were just too much 😛 !

At least it wasn’t something Chunky Monkey couldn’t fix!

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Chunky Monkey

Now, I’m far from being a banana fan, but I had to give this flavor some credit for not being overpowering, and for having just enough chocolate chunks to balance whatever banana flavor was there in the first place!

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Friday Night Pint!

As soon as I finished consuming this pint, I immediately felt my eyes start to droop. I guess it was the perfect nightcap?

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Walnuts, chocolate chunks…

Day 5 – I was not looking forward to waking up as early as I do on weekdays on a Saturday morning, despite going to bed very early on Friday night. I had a good night’s rest, but sadly, had to get up at 5:30AM yet again—the challenge was calling.

I did end up running at 6:30AM instead of 6:00AM, and definitely noticed the sudden change in temperature earlier than mid-run. I kept the run simple with several loops to total 10 miles. Mile 9 was tough on the legs, but once I got through, I felt absolutely accomplished.

At least the rest of my day was less demanding in regards to time. After stopping by the new Panera Bread in Beverly Hills for lunch, I went to a nearby Pavillions to pick up the Boston Cream Pie flavor of B&Js—as you can see, one of the perks of this challenge was having ice cream everyday 😉

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Boston Cream Pie—frozen!

After leaving it in the freezer for an hour or so (the cons of long bus rides…), I dug right in, and savored the pastry cream filling and cake pieces. Seriously—how do the folks at Ben & Jerry’s do it?? True, the pastry cream filling looked more like lemon-lime Gu rather than something squeezed over a pie, but it was delicious nonetheless. And eating it while watching a complementary chick flick (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) on TV made the Saturday night in even more perfect.

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Couldn’t wait to dig in!

Day 6 – I broke up the run into a 7 miler + 5k Race since I was running this race later in the morning. I still had to wake up bright and early, but at least I was able to look forward to a change of running scenery. I rode the train to Culver City, and from there, ran along Venice Blvd. as a 7 mile “warm-up”. My destination was Crescent Bay Park, where I participated in a 5K benefiting lymphedema research.

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5K Sunday!

Not only was the race for a good cause, but I also brought home an exorbitant amount of food bars! Quest Bars included! I decided to head home right after since I was itching for a shower (literally…).

Day 7 – Mondays are normally rest days from running for me, so waking up to go for a run had me feeling quite odd. I ended up running my favorite weekday 6 mile course, with a 2 mile out-and-back to get my full ten in. The run was hot and humid, and left me sweaty and sticky!

In other words, there was no point in showering the day before :/
I immediately put the A/C on back at home, prepped for dinner, completed an upper-body workout, and then headed off to work.

Once I got home, I literally did not feel like doing anything. Even washing the dishes—which I usually find relaxing—felt like such a chore.

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Do I have to wash the dishes??

Day 8 – The quad soreness crept back, and I could feel them for the entire run. I also woke up ravenous, and had two Quest Bars as pre-run fuel. I had planned a lower-body workout, but it was near to impossible to complete, at least as far as my quads were concerned. I ended up doing a lot of stretching during this time, which is something I don’t do as often as I should…

 Kept things simple after the day’s run with some protein-rich cottage cheese (mixed with protein powder) with a generous dollop of coconut almond butter on top.
Kept things simple after the day’s run with some protein-rich cottage cheese (mixed with protein powder) with a generous dollop of coconut almond butter on top.

Day 9 – My second-to-last day of the challenge turned out to be my most interesting one! Improper fueling in the morning led to a bloated stomach, and I had to stop running after 5 miles (heartburn, ick!). I told myself that I could finish my final 5 miles in the evening, and even though I prefer to get my workouts done in the morning, I managed to change back into my running clothes as soon as I got to the apartment.

Okay…so running for ice cream had a big deal to do with it, but I ended up running at 8:55/mi, which has been the fastest pace for me throughout this whole challenge!

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Karamel Sutra Core

Plus, who wouldn’t want to run for Karamel Sutra? It was the final B&J Core I had to try (at least from what’s currently available in the US!).

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Icicle surface, but still got a lot of creaminess left.

Another ice cream pint, another cause for roommate envy 😉

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CARAMEL…..

Day 10 – The final run! The weather was perfect (cloudy skies), and I wanted to make most of my run include downtown. I fueled just right (keeping note of the previous day’s mishap) and completed the run at a 9:26/mi pace. I would say it was a good note to end on.
The rest of the day was spent in lab, followed by a trip over to Union Station to pick up the sis since she was spending the 3-day weekend with me!

Three full days off from running to rest and recharge that happened to coincide when my sister was here?! I have to admit, I took into account the timing of the three-day weekend when I decided to embark on this challenge.

 Celebratory Arcitic Zero topped with almond butter and one of the free bars I got from the 5K :P
Celebratory Arcitic Zero topped with almond butter and one of the free bars I got from the 5K 😛

–◊–

Overall, the challenge went better than I expected. I was pleased to have been able to complete the distance each day for ten straight days, and I was able to prove to myself that with the right mindset and discipline in place, anything is possible. It also helps to know that, if necessary, I could run a great distance over a consecutive period of days if I had big plans coming up that prevented me from running (like traveling, hectic school schedule, etc.).

Runners: have you heard of, or completed, the 10 x 10 Challenge?

Race Recap – Father’s Day Run

Race Recap – Father’s Day Run

Summer had always been a tough season for me to find races. Triathalons, no problem, but running races are a different story. So Cal races have been especially hard to pin down…that is if I just stick to the main LA area.

There are plenty more options if I look further out of the metropolitan perimeter though, and that’s how I found out about and registered for the Father’s Day Run in Van Nuys.

On race morning, I had to wake up a little after 4:00AM in order to have enough time to pack my running essentials, and to catch the earliest bus heading up north on a Sunday. Since it is summer, the sun came out pretty quickly during my journey, so I didn’t have any issues with waiting alone in the dark for too long.

The commute took almost 1 ½ hours, and by the time I got to Woodley Park (where the race was being held), the sun was taking a steady position in the sky, and things were beginning to roll. By how things appeared and felt, I knew that it was going to be a hot run.

 Heading towards the race start.
Heading towards the race start.

I was able to pick up my bib, but since it was a locally run race and very low budget, there were no free shirts. They were only being sold, which was somewhat of a disappointment. One good thing about the organization though was that even though there wasn’t a designated bag check area, the race organizers were willing to let runners leave their belongings at the registration table for the duration of the run.

 Stretching & packet pick-up before the run!
Stretching & packet pick-up before the run!

After a few static stretches, I followed some other runners down and through a pedestrian tunnel that led to a gravel path. We ended up walking ~0.3 miles to the “actual” start line, which was simply scratched on the gravel path with colorful chalk.

The turnout of people appeared to look like a large group run rather than a race, but I was glad for the change of scenery from my urban runs, and for being able to run in a new-to-me park set aside for outdoor recreation (in other words, no worries about inhaling car exhaust!).

The race included distances from 5k all the way to marathon, but I chose to run the half marathon and treated it as my long run for the week. All of the distances ended up being loops, with turnarounds at different points. For the half marathon, it was more like two loops since the first loop was ~6.5 miles, and so after crossing the “start” line the second time, it was just one more loop and then we were allowed to dash back to the registration table area where the finish line was.

 The finish line---why so dry?!
The finish line—why so dry?!

Overall, the race did not have the “vibe” of most running races, but at least with this one, you could bet that the majority of the runners who turned up for this race were serious about the sport. There were quite a few marathon runners, even though it really was just four loops around the park!

For me, the first loop was easy to tolerate when compared to the second loop. By the time the first hour of the run passed, I was trying to spot the shady areas and take cover from the bright, burning rays of the sun. I was also more than ready to guzzle down a tank of water. Fortunately, there was an aid station at the halfway point, and I was able to rehydrate myself at some point during the race 🙂

The race itself was small, but we were given medals, and there were some samples up for grabs.

 Free bags, and I totally dived into the strawberry carton!!
Free bags, and I totally dived into the strawberry carton!!

One cool thing was the Skinny Pasta truck parked nearby. Free low carb pasta? Don’t mind if I do!

 Low carb pasta sample with marinara sauce :3
Low carb pasta sample with marinara sauce :3

After the race, I found a large tree with plenty of shade underneath it. I rested for about an hour before heading towards the direction of the bus stop. Once my tummy began to rumble, I knew it was time for some post-race fuel! And with the heat starting to intensify, I knew I needed to get home soon and crash—a mid-afternoon nap was necessary now more than ever!

 It was another race without my best friend---Dad---but I definitely though about him that day!
It was another race without my best friend—Dad—but I definitely though about him that day!

Do you like racing in the summer, or do you take a break from running to do other summer sports?

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