Hot Weather Shenanigans

Hot Weather Shenanigans

The day after my first double run, I granted myself a rest day and enjoyed the extra hour or so in bed resting my sore head (later on in the week, I had my first migraine, and I’m thinking the trigger might have been the extreme weather change). Surprisingly, my leg muscles felt fine (probably due to the rolling I did!), but my head felt heavy, which I’m assuming was due to spending so much time exerting myself in he heat.

Needless to say, the rest day was absolutely necessary. I went into lab later in the morning, but since E was also in, we decided to head downtown together for some lunch. It was unbearably hot outside though, and the walk from 7th st. all the way to Grand Central Market had us feeling like we were melting. I was even in a tank top and shorts and felt like I was burning!

It was my first time visiting GCM (and I call myself an Angeleno!), and seeing all the foodie shops clustered in one place like that reminded me of a more crowded, packed version of the Tustin Marketplace. We first thought about checking out Eggslut, but the line was so serpentine that we thought it’d be best to try it out some other day. Instead, we opted for meals at two different stalls.

berlin--currywurst
Berlin Currywurst at Grand Central Market

I found my meal of choice at Berlin Currywurst. The last time I had a vegetarian currywurst was ages ago, so I was happy to be able to have it again.

Berlin
Small space, crowded counter.

My options were limited, but I was able to get a medium spicy tofu kielbasa currywurst plate. It even came with half of a crusty bread roll to mop any of that excess thick tomato-based sauce!

berlincurrywurst
Spent a hot Sunday trying to keep cool at Grand Central Market. It was my first time visiting the place too! Eggslut had a serpentine line, so I hopped on over to Berlin Currywurst, and chowed down on this spicy Tofu Kielbasa Currywurst with a hearty chunk of bread 😋😋

E found a stall selling avocado toast that came out with such beautiful presentation. My side beet salad was nothing in comparison. I’m not even sure why I got it…I had assumed it was part of the meal but then I realized I had to pay extra for it 😛

food
Why did I get this excuse for a salad?

After lunch, I hurried on home to catch up on sleep and just chill. I also tried another flavor of D’s Naturals Fluffbutter—Brownie Batter! Now I only have one more new-to-me flavor left to try…

fluffbutter
Brownie Batter? This flavor from @dsnaturals is more like Brownie BUTTER. The texture was smooth, yet each spoonful was dense. There was a strong cocoa taste that was the defining feature of this flavor. My only complaint—with all of the D’s Naturals Fluffbutters actually—is the oil separation. It’s always so difficult to make the oil mix through evenly, even though I attempt to do so with each jar. The last couple tablespoons at the bottom of each jar are always the driest as a result.

Overall, I thought it had a very sharp cocoa taste, and quite a thick texture. I still have issues with mixing up all the oil thoroughly in the jar—it just has a tendency to pool up on top!

I also managed to order four new The Lion’s Pack cookie dough flavors to try during the week. My favorite of the four I purchased was this “Teddy Dough”.

"Why HELLO there TEDDY DOUGH 🐻 🐻 🍪 🍪!! It's been a while since I placed a @thelionschoice cookie dough order---long enough to get a four pack of flavors I haven't tried yet! Teddy Dough is one of them, and I actually kinda love the more grainy texture this one has in comparison to the stickier consistency the other ones have. But I was expecting some broken teddy grahams to be mixed in...guess they just ground them down 🐻 😧"
Why HELLO there TEDDY DOUGH 🐻 🐻 🍪 🍪!! It’s been a while since I placed a @thelionschoice cookie dough order—long enough to get a four pack of flavors I haven’t tried yet! Teddy Dough is one of them, and I actually kinda love the more grainy texture this one has in comparison to the stickier consistency the other ones have. But I was expecting some broken teddy grahams to be mixed in…guess they just ground them down 🐻 😧

I thought this cookie dough would have crushed teddy graham cookies, but I think they were all finely-ground because the texture of the cookie dough was so smooth. It was like a crumbly sunflower butter jar with a mild cinnamon flavor. I could even detect a taste of honey.

The one I was most surprised by was Red Velvet. I had much higher expectations for this one, but the jar I got had dough that was too sticky, and with a texture that was reminiscent more of cake than cookie dough.

redvelvet
I have to be honest—wasn’t a huge fan of @thelionschoice Red Velvet Cake cookie dough. My batch at least had the consistency of a gooey sponge cake, rather than a thick, paste-like cookie dough which I was expecting. The flavor was quite bland, and the chocolate bits did little to help enhance the flavor profile. Ah well, I have to admit I can’t complain about the quantity I got—my jar was literally full to the brim!

Butterscotch Maple Cookie didn’t come across as a flavor worth remembering. Sure, there were a decent amount of butterscotch chips thrown in, but the flavor base was quite bland.

butter
Butterscotch Maple Cookie: not sure what’s so “cookie” about it!

Finally, there was Cran-Orange. The mix-ins definitely overpowered the cookie dough base with this flavor, and it was definitely the frutiest of the bunch. It even had some white chocolate pieces thrown in so that was a plus!

cranorange
Honestly, this flavor (and its colors) reminded me of Fall…

Has the weather drastically changed where you live?

Do you get migraines?

Berlin Currywurst Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Time Flies When You’re Living Life

Time Flies When You’re Living Life

Ahhh, no post for about two weeks! I kind of needed the break, and life has been “much too distracting” to find the time and patience to put a post together. I haven’t even been perusing through the ‘gram much lately either. It makes me happy that I’m busy/engaged enough with life right now to not be glued to a screen.

I didn’t even go out for lunch or dinner over Easter weekend. That Saturday, I was extremely exhausted and ended up taking naps in the afternoon in addition to “sleeping in” until 7:30am. I did get some new flavors of bars to try and a jar of D’s Naturals spread…

salted-caramel
Post run noms from this morning! Got around to trying the Salted Caramel Oh Yeah! One bar and thought it tasted fantastic! Definitely has a salty kick, but the caramel-flavored shell coating and fudge-like center of the bar helped to balance it all out. And there’s something about that purple-colored wrapper that’s just so eye-catching. 😜👍🏽

I did force myself to get out of the house to go see a critically-acclaimed anime movie called Your Name. I went to a late afternoon showing at an indie film place in Santa Monica, and did not regret it! The movie was fantastic—the animation, storytelling, plot twists—critics say the director of this movie is the next Hayao Miyazaki and if they are coming to that conclusion based on this movie alone, I feel they are right on the money!

maple-glazed-dnut
This Maple Glazed Donut Oh Yeah! One nutrition bar definitely hits you with the scent of maple syrup when opened, but the flavor is quite bland in comparison to the other new flavors I tried in my previous recent posts. Be wary of delicious sounding flavor names!

Because I felt so exhausted on Saturday, I moved my long run workout for the week to Sunday. My coach usually has me doing Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday workouts as my “key” workouts, while the rest of the days are easy aerobic recovery days. So on Sunday, I set out to do a mix up long run that was 30k in distance, with fast intervals thrown in. Since the workout was broken up in 5k chunks, it was mentally manageable.

blueberry-cobbler
This Blueberry Cobbler Oh Yeah! One nutrition bar may be one of my new favorites. Served cold, it tastes like a blueberry ice cream bar. 🍦

Obviously, I was ravenous and smelly by the time that was over. I quickly showered and took the train over to E’s place since she invited me to her landlords’ Easter brunch. I didn’t have pics from the event since I wasn’t in a phone picture-taking mood, but we were fed well. I was also introduced to the delicious treat that is a Ferrero Egg. Where can I get more of them??

cocoa-glazed-cinnamon-roll-
On Saturday, I felt dead exhausted 💀 sleep 😴…the kind of tired that makes you feel like staying in bed ALL DAY is a very good idea…but I did manage to have this Cocoa Glazed Cinnamon Roll @dsnaturals Fluffbutter from Vitamin Shoppe. After snacking on this, and taking yet another nap, at least I had enough energy to go see @yourname.movie ! Loved this cocoa scented jar that had a soft butter texture just as much as I loved the movie 💕

Afterwards, E and I spent the rest of the day in downtown SaMo, walking down the pier and laughing at a sign that said “Weed Week” that was flying through the sky attached to a plane. We then walked in circles around the promenade only to sit down for coffee and later Pinkberry. When I got home, I crashed and fell into a glorious night’s worth of sleep!

The following week kept me busy—I honestly can’t recall all of the things I did, but there was so much done, yet so much left to do! #LifeofAResearcher . I was so exhausted by Friday night, and a new pint flavor was exactly what I was craving:

justlike a milkshake
This legit tastes like a {vegan} melty chocolate milkshake with cream-filled cookie chunks. Sometimes it pays off to try a new flavor—I was about to buy Snickerdoodle (which I know I love), but felt a little daring on a recent trip to Ralph’s. Now I think I may have another new So Delicious favorite…

It was also an interesting week for my training program too! My coach had me try a double run on Saturday…15.5 miles in the morning and 10 miles in the PM. It sounded daunting at first, but I was also looking forward to the challenge! I ran the morning run with one of my marathon team teammates, but the weather was not in our favor. It got hot really quickly, with temperatures reaching the 80s by 8AM. It was a tough workout for sure, but having someone to run the longer run of the day with certainly helped!

I noticed that my upper left calf started to feel sore, so I made sure to spend some time rolling it out/massaging it when I got home. Before getting in some hours of rest and recovery, I stopped in Culver City to address the other “R”: REFUEL.

Tender Greens seems to have locations all over So Cal, and in my two and half years living here I had yet to visit…somehow a Saturday that got into the 90s persuaded me to walk through the doors of their Culver City location…

Tender Greens, Culver City
Tender Greens, Culver City

The set-up was ordering at the front, and then walking towards the back to pay and get your meal. I found it odd that you had to pay in the back, and then even more awkward waiting around the front to pick up your meal, since they could have easily handed you a number placard to place on your table and have them find you. At least there was ample, spacious seating at this location, and some spots out on the patio as well.

sit
Very spacious

The unusual set-up didn’t bother me too much in the end though, because the giant Falafel Plate I ordered hit the spot and vanquished my hanger.

falafel plate
Falafel plate with side kale salad (garlic dressing + parmesan), a green dollop of hummus that looked like guacamole, tahini sauce, and a crisp crostini bread.

After eating everything though, I wondered how it would affect my PM run. When I did go out for my 10 miler in the evening, I was relieved that the temperature was much cooler. It helped that it was a beach run and that the sun was setting. I felt great for the first half, but then tummy issues slowed me down for the last half. I did make it home in one piece though, and was proud of myself for conquering my first long run double.

falafel_plate
Close-up of everythang.

After talking to my coach, he affirmed that practice makes perfect and that I’ll get used to these the more I do them. He also recommended that I try refueling with foods that are simple in carbs, some fats, and low protein no more than two hours before the PM run—recommendations that I’ll definitely put into practice for the next time!

Tender Greens Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Localita & the Badasserie

Localita & the Badasserie

Last weekend was another hot one here in LA, and because I was feeling overwhelmed from the hectic first week of classes, I ended up not venturing out too far over the weekend.

My weekend started on Friday evening, with a quick stop to 7-11 before heading home from campus. I needed a pick-me-up from the accumulating week-o-stress, so I made the rare-for-me stop at the gas station convenience store just so I could get my hands on the 7-11 exclusive Ben & Jerry’s flavor—Nutty Caramel Swirl.

 Chocolate and peanut chunks galore!!
Chocolate and peanut chunks galore!!

Upon opening this pint, I could not believe the amount of chocolate chunks and peanuts there were! If the very top layer was indicative of what was yet to come, this was going to be a fun flavor to dig through!

 Look at that swirl!
Look at that swirl!

And indeed it was. When I was younger, I hated mixing nuts with chocolate, but obviously my palate has changed over the years, because this flavor is now in my top 5 B&J flavors!

On Saturday, I woke up at a leisurely pace, made my way over to lab, and as soon as I got out, felt the strong heat wave that made me change my original plans to head out north. At the time, it just wasn’t worth the commute for me, given the unbearable weather and all :/

Instead, I decided to head to downtown for some quick grocery shopping, a bite to eat, and then head home to catch up on some {class-related} reading. I used it as an opportunity to check out a small local vegan cafe I had heard about that had limited day hours—Localita & the Badasserie.

 Entrance sign.
Entrance sign.

They are only open until 3 or 4pm during the week, and so I was able to swing on by an hour before they closed up shop for the day. I almost missed them though, since they were nestled in a hub of downtown among a collection of factory garment shops. In fact, the storefront is more like a food counter, with no “real” restaurant seating.

localita (4)
There were some bar stools and a small table in the back though…

There was also no A/C, which made me frustrated since I couldn’t escape from the heat wave. I could feel myself sweating as I ordered, and even so, I still made the silly decision to order a HOT quinoa bowl.

 Quinoa bowl selection.
Quinoa bowl selection.

With a name like Chili Chili Bang Bang though, I expected the heat to come through from the chili…not the temperature as what happened.

 My small, but filling AND HOT bowl of quinoa chili.
My small, but filling AND HOT bowl of quinoa chili.

It was something I could have easily made at home, and unfortunately not worth the perspiration 😛

I did find this quote on one of he napkin holders though provoking however.

 Napkin holder quote.
Napkin holder quote.

After leaving Localita sweatier than ever, I managed to get to the grocery store, and along with my weekly purchases, decided to cool off with a pint of Vanilla Caramel Fudge.

 Vanilla Caramel Fudge
Vanilla Caramel Fudge

While it was no Nutty Caramel Swirl, how can you go wrong with a vanilla base with caramel and fudge swirled in? A delicious way to end a super hot Saturday!

Sunday started off slightly hectic, and while things didn’t go as planned, I still managed to get what I needed to get done done. I ended up breaking a 10 mile run into chunks, first running 5 miles in the early morning and planned to run the final 5 with a group I’ve been running with lately.

Unfortunately, my ride slept in because her alarm didn’t go off, so I ended up joining my marathon group’s first practice of the season. They were only running three miles, so I tacked on the extra two before heading into lab. I was somewhat frustrated by having to do this since it was getting hotter, and I wasn’t expecting to have to make up the miles like this.

Still, I got it done, even though I was a sweaty mess while doing my experiment in lab 😛

By the time afternoon rolled around, I indulged in yet another pint. Peanut Butter Cup was on my list for quite a while, and I was finally able to check it off.

 Looks naked
Looks naked

Wowza…all peanut butter ice cream, and no skimping on the peanut butter cups! There were legitimately full-sized peanut butter cups, cut in half, mixed thoroughly in the ice cream.

 But it's not
But it’s not

It may have been peanut butter overload, but hey, how can you say no to a pint of sweet & satisfying healthy fats 😉 ?

So even though my restaurant outing for the weekend was a miss, I think my ice cream tastings made up for the irritating heat.

It is starting to cool down here in LA though…hopefully the temperature will stay this way throughout Labor Day weekend!

Click to add a blog post for Localita & the Badasserie on Zomato

MTR: Week 14

MTR: Week 14

By the time this post is published, I will be exactly 5 weeks away from the marathon, and it’s hard to believe that the longest I’ve run so far is 18:00 miles!! The length itself is one thing, but the location was a whole other factor that really influenced the significance of the event.

elevation&Park

I woke up on long-run Sunday morning and assembled my necessities while munching on two bars that had a fair mix of carbs and protein. I was in a rush the day before with grocery shopping and wasn’t able to find the fuel I wanted to experiment with at the stores I visited (Clif Shot Bloks, or even vegetarian-friendly gummies at a decent price!), so I decided to experiment with my fueling strategy for the next long run.

I did bring a water bottle this time to run with. It was just not in a fancy hand-strap like I had planned.

Our team left for San Pedro, and after a quick bathroom break at the park we all assembled at for our starting point, we were off…to fend for ourselves against steep inclines, rocky trails, and precarious lanes near cliffs at risk for landslides!

But the hardest hill we faced hit us hard right before the 3 mile mark. I gave up on keeping my usual pace then and there—it would be in my best interest to just take each mile one at a time, and each hill one step at a time.

Despite the balmy weather (and consequent stick skin and hands, ew), I held on tight to my water bottle which sloshed loudly for the first several miles. Because of the added weight, I had to switch off between hands every two minutes or so! As I started to warm up, and as I started to approached more hills, I sipped on my water when I felt like it, and the sloshing sounds died down as I ran further and further north towards Ranchos Palos Verdes. There were some amazing, gorgeous views, and even though I was running with my phone in my belt, I didn’t want to stop and take it out due to a) sticky hands and b) the risk of losing my running mojo.

Our turnaround point was at mile 9, and I started to feel extreme fatigue in my legs around miles 11-13. I stopped a little after mile 13 to stretch out legs and shake out arms, and that helped me a little bit as I approached the San Pedro border again around mile 14. I surprisingly felt more refreshed around mile 14.5-15, and the dreaded hill we had to fight our way up in the beginning now felt like a breezy downhill ride. A lot of my teammates hated the downhill though, since it beat up their knees pretty badly.

As I hit mile 16, I mentally started to feel fatigued. I started to get annoyed by the slow walkers who most likely had just woken up and were getting some fresh air before brunch…and I was smelly, sticky, sweaty, and just wanted my Garmin to scream 18 MILES—STOP—YOU’RE DONE! And even though it was a struggle working for each point-something mile to get to mile 18, I eventually did, and I felt the relieved to be done, but accomplished for fighting through those hills.

I finished in a little over 3 hours, but because of all the hills, my pace wasn’t a concern for me. I’m sort of hoping that all the work I put into this run will help me during my next LSD challenge of 20 miles!

Sunday – LSD 18 miler group run at 10:43/mi

Monday – Rest

Tuesday6 mile morning solo run at 9:41/mi

Wednesday –   7 mile morning solo run at 10:02/mi

Thursday –  Rest

Friday – 7 mile morning solo run at 9:19/mi

Saturday –  Rest


Total Mileage ->   38 miles

The rest of the week’s runs were scheduled as usual, with Monday being the-day-after-a-long-run rest day, and Tuesday’s run being my routine morning route. Fortunately, my soleus ache from last week has subsided. I wasn’t pleased with how I was feeling on Wednesday’s run, since my pace was much slower than usual, I felt fatigued, and I was starting to feel burnt out and bored. It was supposed to be an 8 miler, but I cut it back to 7 when I passed my apartment right at the 7 mile mark and the temptation to head back and get ready for the rest of the day won me over.

Thursday’s planned 6 miler (turned 7) was pushed to Friday, and while I was anxious about that decision, it turned out to be the right one for me. I listened to my body, and it paid me back. I felt more refreshed on Friday’s run, and was pleased with getting back to my current pace. Saturday of course was a rest day—which I accepted gleefully since I was volunteering at an all-day, STEM-related event.

20 miles is next on the agenda—and then it soon will be time to taper! 

Have you ever felt “burnt out” after training for something for so long and so hard? 

MTR: Week 13

MTR: Week 13

Sunday was the day…I landed a new PDR! The morning started off scattered and frustrating due to lack of communication within the team I run with, but once we were off, it turned out okay.

I made the mistake of not bringing water with me on the run because I didn’t want to carry it for the entire 16 miles, but I don’t plan on making that mistake again for the 18 miler. Despite the rising temps during the run, I managed to not suffer from any serious symptoms of dehydration. I also didn’t feel the need to fuel during the run, but I noshed on our team’s stash of granola bars—along with chugging down two bottles of water—once I was done.

16milerLAriver
This week’s long run started off in Griffth Park, but we detoured at the freeway and ran alongside the LA “River” (river in quotes since there’s not much water….). Also found some shoes hanging on an arch during the run—did someone cut their long run short? 😉

Sunday – LSD 16 miler group run at 9:46/mi

Monday – Rest

Tuesday –   5 mile morning solo run at 9:43/mi

Wednesday –  7 mile morning solo run at 9:30/mi

Thursday –  6 mile morning solo run at 9:53/mi

Friday – Rest

Saturday –  Rest


Total Mileage ->  29 miles

I didn’t think that there was a significant difference between 13 and 16 miles, so that’s why I didn’t put pressure on myself to prepare with fuel and hydration during the run, but I do plan on investing in a water bottle with a hand strap, and experimenting with some chews or other kind of fuel for the 18 miler.

I got home later than compared to previous weeks’ long runs, and quickly got ready to go out again to refuel properly. I made it a short outing and came home to completely rest, and even go to sleep early like a Gra’ma 😉

Monday was an off day from running, Tuesday was a 5 miler through Downtown, Wednesday was a 7 miler that felt mostly uncomfortable due to needing to use the restroom mid-run (had to stop at Mile 5, but at least I felt better in the last two miles…), and Thursday was one of my most horrid runs of the week. I think I strained my left soleus muscle during the run on Wednesday, and so Thursday’s run was farrrr from fun. At least I got my weekday mileage checked off though, so that made it easier to accept two consecutive rest days from running on Friday and Saturday.

What’s the longest you’ve run without water?

Running for Ragu

Running for Ragu

Guess where I finally went on Sunday?

smblvd

Yup, this time I did not give myself any excuses to get out of my own plans. Even though I went to bed on Saturday night feeling completely exhausted, I knew that a visit to Santa Monica would not disappoint—especially if it included a run and brunch!

I woke up on Sunday morning around 7:30am, and got ready in time to walk over to the bus stop where a bus that takes about an hour to get to SaMo stops. The ride took forever only because we avoided the freeway, and instead I got a “scenic tour” of West LA, Culver City, and Venice.

I arrived in SaMo near the pier close to 10:00am, and proceeded to the Nike Store for their 10:30am Sunday runs. The store wasn’t hard to miss since they were at a corner of a busy intersection in the outdoor mall.

NIkeSM

I was one of the first people to arrive, so I went for a quick 10-minute walk to see what other cafes/restaurants/shops were in the area. I came back as more people started to assemble in front of the store. I got to try on the Pegasus shoes again, and waited around until it was time to get going.

The employee-pacers called the group in to do a team chant (“Who runs Santa Monica? We run Santa Monica!!”), and then did roll call where they introduced who would be leading the 3, 5, and 7 mile groups. Being the overachiever that I am (ha), I joined the 7 mile group of lean-muscular guys who ran at paces lower than 8:00/mi. I was one out of two females in the group, and ended up being the “slowest” of the pack with a pace of 9:30/mi. I didn’t mind though, since I was treating the run as my LSD for the week and only cared about getting the mileage. Plus, it was one of the hottest runs I have run recently, despite being near the water!

The 7 mi pacer was super nice though and finished the run with me even though he was always yards ahead of me throughout the run. Overall, it was a pleasant experience, but the best part was treating myself to brunch afterwards 😉

I walked about a mile-and-something east to get to 10th street where the cafe was. It felt like so much longer though in the 80+ Fahrenheit heat!! But once I saw this sign, I knew I only had a couple more feet to go before coming upon the entrance to good food. 

SAMSUNG
So fortunate about not having to worry about parking!

Despite looking like a quaint and quiet entrance, I didn’t give a thought to how crowded Huckleberry Cafe would be on a Sunday during brunch hours.

SAMSUNG

I ended up having to make my way to the back of the restaurant to get in the Order line. But despite being so busy, they had a good system going.

 Busy Sunday brunch crowd.
Busy Sunday brunch crowd.

After placing an order, you would go into the Pay Here line, and then be assigned a table if you wanted to eat in the restaurant. So in other words, the wait wasn’t too bad.

Especially with the entertaining wall decor: 

 Piggies! And that dude in the photograph...haha
Piggies! And that dude in the photograph…haha

And with the recent launch of the owner’s (Zoe Nathan) cookbook, there was also a recipe for Vanilla Apple Butter (sounds delicious!) on the blackboard near the restrooms.

welcome2huckleberry

As I inched my way closer to the counter, I was greeted by the cold-case goods like these salads:

HuckleberryCafeSalads

As well as these enticing desserts—the people in front of and behind me were ordering enough for a feast!

desserts!

I even got to get a glimpse of the hard-at-work staff in the kitchen:

behindthescenes
And I may have also helped myself to some complimentary stevia packets…to-go

An interesting thing I learned about the establishment was that customers are charged an extra 3% of their bill so that the cafe can give their employees full-coverage healthcare. I thought that was a pretty awesome deal 😀

After paying for my order, I found a seat at a long table that was designed to be communal style, but the people flanking me were couples so that made things slightly awkward. That’s where my stealthy stevia packet plans came in, and I entertained myself with that while waiting for my food to come out. The wait wasn’t too long, since like I said, they had a system in place and were rolling plates out like a factory.

But the presentation and taste was nowhere near “factory quality” at all.

Lentil ragu with poached eggs, swiss chard, feta & country bread
Lentil ragu with poached eggs, swiss chard, feta & country bread

My warm bowl of lentil ragu had a hint of sweetness from the tomato sauce, and the cooked lentils and swiss chard quickly filled me up and replenished my depleted reserves from running. I saved the two soft-boiled poached eggs for last, and used the bread to mop up leftover sauce 🙂

When going out to eat with family in the past, we would often turn down a restaurant if we saw a huge line out the door, but that’s obviously indicative that something good is being cooked in there. Delicious meals are worth waiting for, and I felt like my patience really did pay off this time around.

How long would you wait in a line at a restaurant?

Huckleberry Café on Urbanspoon

Race Recap: Davis Moonlight Race

Race Recap: Davis Moonlight Race

Last weekend, I ran in my first night race. Actually, it ended up being more of an evening race, but if I had instead raced in the Half Marathon Wave 2, then I may have finished under the moonlight. Nevertheless, the race was still a new and enjoyable experience.

Since my race was at 7:30PM versus AM, I had to take a different (and perhaps more careful) approach with fueling on race day. I had a late lunch as a result: a piece of flatbread made of plain pizza dough, with a side of steamed veggies flavored with spices and coconut flakes. I also had some greek yogurt with Kashi cereal (unpictured). 

 pre-race fuelage
My favorite go-to lunch—be it pre-fuel or post-fuel depends on when I go running in the day!

After my meal, I took a 45 minute nap before leaving with my Dad, friend, and sis around 5:00PM for the race venue.  Along the way, my Dad wanted to make a pit stop at a roadside produce place since we had the time. Also on the “things to do before the race” list was getting my eyebrows threaded, and dinner for the gang. Since I didn’t want to eat anything too soon before the race, I got my eyebrows threaded while everyone had sandwiches from Subway. All of this occupied our time until around 6:30PM, when at that point we actually drove over to the race venue. 

 market along the way
Roadside produce pit stop.

This race had so many different start times that I almost freaked out about misreading my start time. By the time we got to the parking area, we could see the runners from Wave 1 of the Half Marathon already running towards us, full speed ahead. 

Wave 1, Half Marathon
Wave 1, Half Marathon

Because the lot we were headed towards was full by the time we got around the runners, my Dad dropped the girls and I off, and we slowly made our way around the DMG Mori building towards packet pick-up—doing our best to keep our steps within the boundaries of shade. 

 walking to pick-up
Walking towards packet pick-up.

After receiving my bib and shirt (which was in a lovely shade of blue!), I shuffled the girls to an area of shade near the start line. We also had a clear view of the wall of porta potties, and the bouncy houses behind us. We were rooted in this area when the start for the kid’s fun mile was announced. Despite the weather being quite hot, the kids were full of energy and didn’t seem to complain at all. They all just seemed to be focused on the getting to the finish, where a ribbon and sno-cone were waiting for their arrival. 

 getting to where the action is
Kids assembling for the fun run // bouncy house // porta potties

All three of us were beginning to get antsy with just standing around, so I suggested that we walk past the bouncy houses, since I sensed a couple of booths were stationed behind them! And indeed there were—boxes of things from free mini body washes to mini trail mix packs were being handed out. Being a group of cheap, frugal girls headed back to school, you know we stocked up!

 snack line
The booth with the most freebies.

As we delved further and further into the booth fair, we found ourselves getting lost in the crowds. How could it be avoided when there were masseuses ready to have people sign up for post-race massages, and sweaty kids standing in line for their post-race sno-cone treat?

 crowds, massage, sno cones, new balance
Unavoidable crowd // Massages—being given before the race too?! // Kids in line for sno-cones // New Balance

It took some time to persuade the girls to get into the freebie revelry, but once I had them each approach the KIND bar booth and get a KIND bar “for me”, they were soon victims of the freebie-collecting bug 😉 .

So of course the freebies quest kept us busy until I had to head over to the start line. We left right on the dot at 7:30PM with a sun still high in the sky and the air as warm as ever—it was, after all, 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The 5kers were instructed to hang back until 7:45, since the roads would be packed for the first mile or 2 with just 10kers and wave 2 half marathoners alone.

Mile 1 – Navigating in between hundreds of runners can be quite the challenge, only because it’s so annoying. Right when you think you’ve found “your space”, you land right behind someone running 30 seconds slower than your target pace. I thought that with all this navigating, my pace would be slowed, but it was actually quite the opposite. (9:07/mi)

Mile 2The heat was beginning to catch up to me, and I came across the first water station where I grabbed a cup and drank it down chipmunk style. I still managed to maintain a consistent pace, according to Garmin. (9:02/mi)

Mile 3 – I was starting to get bored. I finally got the space I wanted, but I was now running on a woodsy park trail, and it was difficult to discern when it would end. (9:16/mi)

Mile 4 – I approached the second water station with my eyes directly oriented towards a specific volunteer. I couldn’t get all of the water in my mouth, so I ended up just splashing it on my heated skin and bib. It then looked like I had an awkward area of sweat on my shirt, but I just had to keep going. Given how warm it was still, I had to assume that my shirt would dry in no time at all. (9:19/mi)

Mile 5 – The end was so near…we pretty much looped around and ran back across a bridge that we had to cross in the very beginning. There was a nice breeze sweeping over all of us runners, and the sun was just starting to set. If I had my phone with me at the time (and the dexterity), I would have certainly taken a picture of the gorgeous view from the bridge. My pace quickened up again, thanks to the descent. (9:05/mi)

Mile 6 – Why does the last mile always have to be so tough? I was ready to call it a day, surprised by the amount of sweat I had perspired over the past hour. I don’t think I sweat that much in a race ever…not even during my half marathons! (9:05/mi)

According to my Garmin, I completed the race with an overall average pace of 9:06/mi. Looking at my pace chart, it looks like I had a lot more speedy spikes after the 3 mile mark…

 timingoffthecharts
Speedy after mile 3.

After gulping down large water bottle (and surprisingly not getting a scolding from my bladder!), I learned that it was around 8:30PM and I was more than ready to head home. The girls were already waiting in the car, and so my Dad and I walked about a half mile to get to where the car was parked. As we were driving back, I could not resist taking a picture of the evening sky. It had finally started to cool down, and rolling down the windows as we approached the highway was definitely a good idea 😉

 sky after the race
The sky after the race.

Once I got home around 9:30PM, I had my late dinner and admired my shirt.

 da shirt

As well as the goods that (my friends and) I collected.

 fooods
I think I’m good on deodorant for the next couple months…

For my first “night” race, it was a pleasant-enough experience. Based on recaps I read about this race from past years, this year was relatively mild, though perhaps only by a smidgen since I crossed the finish line with probably enough sweat to fill five water bottles. Sorry if that’s TMI…I might be exaggerating too 😉

Have you ever run a summer evening/night race?

A Fiery Weekend

A Fiery Weekend

My 4th of July weekend was wonderful. The only thing that I could really complain about was the heat—and even with the weather blazing like fire, I still had cravings for spicy food!

The weekend began Friday evening when we set out to one of our neighborhood parks to watch the annual fireworks show our town holds. We brought the spread for a picnic, which included veggie dogs, hot dog buns, pico de gallo salsa (homemade), corn on the cob, and freshly sliced watermelon. When the sun set and the sky turned dark enough, the 15-minute fireworks show began.

4thofjulypicnic

It truly was a bittersweet moment, knowing that this would be the last time I watched my hometown’s fireworks show—but then I thought about the future 4th of Julys’ to come in LA and any sentimental feelings I had went away 😉

The next day, I had a craving for homemade pizza—but wanted to have it with a barbecue twist. So after a late afternoon shift at work that ended as the sun set, this dinner was a delicious treat to munch on when I came home at dusk:

Barbecue Pizza
Serves 1
A pizza for one, with a barbecue twsit. (Vegetarian)
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Ingredients
  1. - 2.5 oz. of pizza dough
  2. - ½ cup of Boca meatless crumbles or Tofurky meatless pepperoni slices or sausage
  3. - 1 medium onion
  4. - Sliced green pepper
  5. - 2 cloves of garlic
  6. - Spoon of jalapeno peppers
  7. - 4 or 5 mushrooms (sliced)
  8. - Shredded Cheese (mozzarella or your preferred cheese)
  9. - Olive oil (to sauté)
  10. - Sugar
  11. - Barbecue sauce (or mix ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce and salt)
  12. - Steamed broccoli (for the side)
For Pizza Base
  1. Roll the pizza dough out to desired size.
  2. Bake in toaster oven for 8 minutes (4 minutes per side) at 375 degrees F.
For Topping
  1. Heat olive oil.
  2. Roast chopped garlic and brown the onions. Add the “meat” and mix thorougly.
  3. Add bell pepper and mushrooms and sauté and peppers. Start to cook.
  4. Add the barbecue sauce, and cook another minute until the whole topping is not runny.
Putting it together
  1. Top the pizza with the barbecue topping, and cover with mozzarella or other preferred cheese.
  2. Return pizza to oven and broil till cheese is cooked to your liking.
  3. Add some steamed broccoli as a side, or another mix of steamed veggies, and eat up!
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
 Cooking the dough and prepping the topping.
Cooking the dough and prepping the topping.
 Adding the topping to the pizza.
Adding the topping to the pizza.
 Add cheese.
Add cheese.
 Added some broccoli to the side, and it was just perfect.
Added some broccoli to the side, and it was just perfect.

For dessert, I had my most recent favorite—greek yogurt mixed with carob chips! I added even more carob chips to the cup as I ate through it, making sure that each spoonful was covered with a disproportionate amount of chips.

dessert craving of the week - carob chips with greek yogurt

On Sunday, I had the morning free so that was spent at the gym. I immediately took a shower after coming home, and got ready for another day’s shift at work. This time I would get out in the early evening, so I planned to go out to have dinner with my Dad and sis.

We chose to visit Freebirds, since none of us had ever frequented the place, but were always curious about the “world famous burritos”.

Freebirds World Burrito (3)

This location was divided in half longways, so that there was a brick divider between the ordering counter and the actual dining area.

Freebirds World Burrito (4)

Freebirds World Burrito (6)

Freebirds World Burrito (7)

I decided to go with the smallest size—the Hybrid. The next one up was Freebird, then Monster, and for the ultra daring there is the SUPER MONSTER (which is not even featured on the menu)!!!

Freebirds World Burrito (5)

Since I went with a burrito, my sis decided to try an order of the Veggie Nachos and let my Dad have some of that. We both made our way down the counter, designed in a way similar to ordering a sandwich at Subway.

Freebirds World Burrito (8)

I picked out a tortilla (cayenne flavor), skipped over the meats, asked for queso sauce, and loaded up on veggies. At the end, I had my server pour on some pico de gallo and hot tomatillo sauce. For a small burrito, the end product was still quite hefty.

 My sister's nachos sitting pretty.
My sister’s nachos sitting pretty.

There was a separate counter for payment, and a soda dispenser right across from it where we got our waters. There was also a sauce dispenser shaped as motorcycle bar handles!

Freebirds World Burrito (2)

We then sat at a table to feast on our orders—but not without looking up at the ceiling and chuckling at this sight:

Freebirds World Burrito (1)
Sort of fits in with the whole 4th of July theme though!

My burrito was bursting, but the filling was kept inside nice and tight thanks to the careful wrapping of aluminum foil—at least until I reached the very end of the burrito. I couldn’t finish my burrito without having some sauce coated over my fingers.

 Veggie Hybrid Burrito (cayenne tortilla, pinto beans, roasted veggies, tomatoes, white onions, jalapenos, lettuce, pico de gallo, hot tomatillo sauce, queso)
Veggie Hybrid Burrito (cayenne tortilla, pinto beans, roasted veggies, tomatoes, white onions, jalapenos, lettuce, pico de gallo, hot tomatillo sauce, queso)

At least it wasn’t death sauce.

Freebirds World Burrito (10)

My sister’s nachos looked extremely appetizing. She liked the taste, but found the chips to be too flimsy to hold all of the various nacho toppings.

Veggie Nachos

We finished up close to 6pm, but it was still blazing hot outside and felt like it was 3pm. Weather-wise, and food-wise, my long weekend was a fiery one for sure! 

What foods did you feast on to celebrate the fourth of July?

What do you like to eat when it’s hot outside? 

Freebirds World Burrito on Urbanspoon

Cooling Off in June

Cooling Off in June

June started off with a heat wave, so it was hard to go without something to cool off with each day. Ice cold glasses of water was not enough, and I developed an unavoidable craving for ice cream. I managed to get my hands on some old favorites, as well as some new finds:

1) 2nd St. Creamery – Banana Run Reserve

I found this ice cream flavor on sale at Grocery Outlet earlier in the month, and even though banana was the only flavor available, I decided to give it a chance. I learned after contacting the 2nd St. Creamery (to make sure all of the ingredients were vegetarian-friendly) that they are owned by the Blue Bunny ice cream company!

2nd Street Creamery Banana Rum Reserve

At first glance, I thought the mascot on the pint was a sheep riding a motorcycle. I was off on both—it’s more like a cow on an old-school bicycle…

The ice cream itself had the appearance of a smooth, creamy vanilla with swirls of a caramel-like sauce. I could taste the banana flavor in full force after the first spoonful. As far as the rum part goes, I personally found the swirls to taste more like brown sugar/caramel, and even so, I was greatly overwhelmed by the taste of banana anyways.

This ice cream was not only good by itself in a bowl, but as the main ingredient of these dehydrator cookies.

2nd Street Creamery Banana Rum Reserve  (4)

2) Artic Zero – Coconut (NEW!), Chocolate, and Cookies and Cream

Is it a coincidence that all three flavors I had recently start with the letter “c”?

When I was in LA looking at apartments, I found this at a nearby Sprouts:

articzerococonut_newflavor!

This was sitting cooly along with the new sea salt caramel flavor in the freezer section. Upon seeing it, I was excited to learn I had more flavors of Artic Zero to try in the very near future! I’m happy to report that the coconut flavor in this frozen treat was spot on. I guess you could say it almost tasted like frozen coconut shreds. But because it is a pint, the flavor gets old very quickly if you are going to eat it all in one go.

Still on the topic of Artic Zero, I went back to a tried-and-true favorite, as well as a flavor that was difficult to find in my local grocery stores in the past–Cookies & Cream and Chocolate, respectively.

AZ CnC

I had the Cookies and Cream flavor after a long time of separation—due to my infatuation for the coffee Artic Zero. It was actually the first flavor I ever tried, and it almost caused me to pee my pants (TMI?) during a physics final (due to the water content, perhaps). Good times?

Artic Zero Chocolate

I like chocolate as much as the next person, but I’m not a “chocolate fiend” like my sister. Even so, I found the chocolate Artic Zero to be a satisfying treat one day when I was working an eight-hour shift at work, and had an hour-long break. I headed to Nugget Market, and dug at this pint within 20 minutes with a plastic soup spoon. Mad skillz yo 😉 .

3) Blue Bunny Personals – Cocoa Pistachio

I’ve always been a fan of single-serving ice cream cups, so when I saw this other ice cream find at Grocery Outlet, I had to scoop it up! I also love it when these personal serving cups come with mini spoons.

Blue Bunny Personals Cocoa Pistachio

Pistachios have to be my favorite nut, and part of me was hoping there would be visible chunks of pistachios mixed in with the predominantly chocolate landscape. That wasn’t exactly the case. While there were some hints of pistachio, this little cup could have pretended to be the holder of plain chocolate ice cream, and have gotten away with it…

How have you been cooling off in this summer heat?

Beaches and Boating

Beaches and Boating

From all of the relatives I visited on my trip, I had the most wonderful time with the daughters of my cousins. Two girls, one aged six years and the other ten, were so delightful and such fun to be around. This was the first time they saw me when they could actually remember me, since five years ago they were babies/toddlers. Watching, and playing, with both girls reminded me of how much boundless energy I had as a kid—something I wish I didn’t lose as I grew up.

I first spent some time with my older cousin, and mother of the six-year old. This child has the most gorgeous smile and is quite intelligent too. She’s always asking questions—the mind of a budding scientist I tell ya 😉 . On my first day with them, we woke up early in the morning (around 5am) to get ready to go to the beach for some fresh air before school.

caption
We had a beach day!

We went near the water and soaked our feet as the water came closer and closer to shore. My cousin’s daughter got absolutely soaked, but in addition to collecting shells and making moats, it was all part of the fun.

After having a fun morning, we came back and freshened ourselves up. Since it was my cousin’s daughter’s last day of school (April-June is summer vacation time in India), she had to dress up in her full school uniform in order to pick up her report card. There was also a book fair going on, and so we obviously bought one or two books for her 😉

caption
An outdoor book fair—still just as popular as when I was in school!!

By the time we returned home, I was exhausted from the morning’s events so after lunch, I took a much-needed 2 hour nap. After I woke up, my cousin and I went out for some (window) shopping and coffee, after dropping off her daughter at a friend’s house for a mid-afternoon play date. We had dinner pretty late (8-8:30pm) and then went to sleep soon after since we had plans to go to the movies the next day.

Rio 2 had come out that weekend, so we decided to attend the first showing that morning. My cousin’s daughter was interested/bored/interested again, and you could tell that she was really enjoying herself towards the end since she wouldn’t stop bouncing in her seat! So adorable…

In India, going to the movies is a pretty big event for some folks. You always see your usual large groups of families and teenagers “just hanging out”—it is always packed no matter what time it is or what movies are showing. Even at 11AM in the morning, the food counter was hoppin’: where you can purchase anything from popcorn, candy, ice cream, and even samosas.

caption
11AM at the food counter…

After purchasing some strawberry ice cream for the little one, us “grown-ups” denied ourselves any movie theater treats since my cousin’s mother already had lunch prepared. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and resting, and then we all went out for a family dinner at a restaurant in the evening.

The following day, my Dad and I thought it would be fun to have both girls join us for a boating adventure outside of the city! We carpooled with my cousin’s daughter (the six year-old I spent the previous days with) and her father, and met up with my other cousin’s daughter (the ten year-old), my cousin (mother of ten year-old), my cousin’s husband, and my cousin’s father (my uncle) at the boating place.

caption
Scenes from the highway, outside of the city.

The drive was entertaining on the way to the boating place, but soon the scenes outside became repetitive (dirt roads, the same plants, buildings, etc.), so I let myself fall asleep until we arrived. My cousin’s daughter was also great entertainment, and definitely had more energy than me 🙂 !

caption
More highway scenes!

Boating was an interesting experience! All of us were huddled into a motorboat and had the option to wear life vests. We were then shuttled to a bank where we got off and spent some time on a beach! Absolutely everything was burning HOT that day—the boat, my skin, the sand—the only thing that seemed cold was the ocean water, and even then, to only some extent.

There was also a group of guys near us who were acting rowdy—yelling, screaming, and even stripping down to their underwear and rolling around on the beach—obviously they didn’t realize how stupid they were acting in front of two kids, but then again, they probably didn’t care.

We were done in about two hours, and retreated to our cars and put the A/C on full blast while driving to a roadside hotel (in India, a hotel is interchangeable with restaurant) for lunch. Along the way, we stopped for some tender coconut and palm fruit—straight from the source.

caption
Roadside palm fruit

It was intriguing the way the man with the scythe cut open the coconuts/palm fruit with such precision to make sure nothing went to waste. Forget packaged coconut water, it’s more authentic when someone pierces a coconut for you, and then slashes it open so you can feast on the tender coconut inside!

The palm fruit was small and gelatinous in comparison, surrounded mostly by a hard shell disproportionate to its tiny size. Even though it has no taste, you can’t argue that it’s as much fun to play with as Play-Doh.

caption
Palm fruit feast.

We eventually found a place to sit down and have a relaxing mid-afternoon lunch. The drive back to the city was a long one, taking two hours instead of one due to the insane amount of Sunday evening traffic. For the rest of the night, I would not leave the couch since my feet were large and swollen from the heat. Even with the weather and congestion of traffic, it was the definition of a perfect day and a day worth every minute—especially since I got to spend it with two lovely girls 🙂

It’s an extremely hot day outside—spend the day at the beach, or in an A/C theater watching a movie?

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