January Sunshine

January Sunshine

This past weekend turned out to be better than I expected. I didn’t have a slew of things I was planning to do to begin with, but despite just checking off mundane errands and staying close to home due to lab responsibilities, it was a pretty pleasant Saturday and Sunday.

My shins have slowly been cooperating, as I have been trying to ease back into my normal mileage while giving them recovery time between days I do running workouts. That meant doing cross-training every other day last week, and while I hate feeling like a hamster at the gym, I gritted my teeth and got through it. I also managed to get some strength training in.

When my sister was here the weekend prior, I was able to snag a bunch of great clearance deals at Sprouts, including $3 jars of soybean spread, $6 protein bar boxes, and limited edition RX bars for $0.50 a pop!

It’s funny how last year around this time, seeking out new RX bar flavors was one of the things that kept me sane when I was preparing for quals. Now, these bars aren’t really my jam anymore…

RX Bar - Iced Gingerbread
RX Bar – Iced Gingerbread

And despite everyone one the ‘gram raving about this flavor, I couldn’t get on board with the dry texture. The cinnamon and ginger spice pretty much made this a a dense slab of fruit cake. Eh, not too appetizing. But it was $0.50, so not too much of a loss 😉

My Saturday morning consisted of a short, easy run to get my blood flowing for the next day’s team long run. I eventually made my way to lab, but was too tired/hungry to venture out too far for something to eat. Despite it being early January, the sun was out and bright as ever, meaning the smoothie/juice/acai bowl craving I had was absolutely justified.

Sunlife Organics, USC Village
Sunlife Organics, USC Village

It was my first time trying Sunlife Organics. I first came across the name two Labor Day weekends ago when I made a day trip to Malibu. The one I visited in the relatively new USC Village definitely had that pretentious LA juice shop vibe, but I let it slide.

Juice shop vibes
Juice shop vibes

When it comes to visiting “chain” restaurants or restaurants with more than one location, I like to try whatever is special to that location or seasonal specials so I feel like I have a reason for going to a location that is farther out than where I need to go.

So I got the "Trojan Bowl".
So I got the “Trojan Bowl”.

So I got the Trojan Bowl, which was a coconut butter/hemp milk/whey protein/banana/mango blend base topped with granola, strawberry, peanut butter, goji berries and bee pollen. Being the nut butter fan that I am, I was enamored by the PB and goji berries alone. 

<3
♥♥♥♥♥

I ate this while people-watching and soaking in some of the sun’s rays. There were plenty of student’s already studying in the vast courtyard (the semester started about a week ago), and looking at their stressed facial expressions made me so relieved that I was no longer in that boat, haha!

 

I was slightly nervous going into Sunday since it was my first team long run in a while (since I took time off for my shin splints). I stretched as much as I could and hoped for the best. We had originally planned to drive to Pasadena for our notorious 12 miler that everyone gets lost from, but due to lack of cars, we opted for a run close to downtown LA.

To my pleasant surprise, I was able to run pain-free with my teammates! I felt pretty good for about 75% of the run, and the last 2-3 miles felt tougher than usual, but I think it’s due to the lack of consistent running over the past few weeks. I’m hoping my endurance comes back at a roaring pace, but I’m also trying to be cautious and take things at a pace comfortable for my shin recovery.

After the run, I spent the morning catching up on some work, but I made sure to get some time in to get lunch in downtown. For some reason that day, I felt like walking down those DTLA streets I’m so fond of…

Panini Kabob Grill, DTLA
Panini Kabob Grill, DTLA

I used to pass by Panini Kabob Grill all the time when I lived near DTLA and was walking between the Pico and 7th Street Metro stations. The patio seating was always full, but I got myself a seat this time around.

A seat where I was able to appreciate some views.
A seat where I was able to appreciate some views.

Their menu selections includes plenty of veggie-friendly items, and as soon as I saw the charbroiled organic tofu kabob platter, my mind was made up.

tofu-kabob

I was expecting thick blocks of baked tofu to be skewered with grilled veggies, but my plate came to me skewer-less. But there were bright orange soft squares of tofu, plenty of grilled veggies, a side salad with avocado, a lil cup of hummus (def. not enough for the food that was there to dip it in), and fluffy bulgar pilaf.

c
Charbroiled Tofu Kabob

Even though the tofu looked worthy based on its color, it was quite bland and lacked flavor. The salad was doused in a dressing with too much vinegar in my opinion, and the bulgar pilaf also lacked flavor. I will admit that the portions did make for quite a filling meal.

I felt like walking a couple blocks after my meal, and definitely felt the effects of the sunshine. I was feeling warm under the sun, but certainly very happy. It was one of those perfect, “winter” LA days.

How is the weather currently where you live?

Last Road Trip of 2016

Last Road Trip of 2016

Last year, we had a Christmas Day lunch since our Christmas Eve dinner was spent with family friends. This time, our schedule was flipped so that Christmas Eve was spent at home and the dinner-turned-lunch on Christmas Day was spent with the same family friends as last year.

dinner
Plate #1 of my Christmas Eve dinner and a bird’s eye view of our feast.

Our menu was usual as years past, but now, it’s given us the opportunity to make up for Thanksgiving (at least in food). While my sis and I enjoyed this year’s humble Thanksgiving, it was nice to have Dad cook for us again, haha!

lemon_meringue_pie
I also did well in eating when I felt hungry throughout the day on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I didn’t “save” all my calories for the evening feast, like I would have in the past. When I felt like having a melty Lemon Meringue No Cow Bar with a melted L&L Snickerdoodle cookie, I did just that.

We exchanged gifts after our dinner, and had a relaxing day the day after. After lunch at our friends’ house, all of us collapsed into a deep nap.

snack
Another bar and snack combo—Chocolate Banana Bread No Cow Bar was a new try for me. Didn’t like the banana odor of course, but the bar texture stayed true in comparison to all of the other No Cow Bars.
dark-raspberry-truffle
I accidentally deleted the unwrapped picture of the Chocolate Banana Bread flavor, but the Dark Raspberry Truffle one pictured here was pretty much identical in appearance. Not a huge fan of this one either!

We had an extra day to run errands/prepare for our short road trip on the day after Christmas. I also stocked up on some bars at GNC, including some new FitJoy bars. I tried the Birthday Cake flavor and immediately was a fan. I haven’t been a returning customer of FitJoy (except maybe for their chocolate chip cookie dough flavor), but their Birthday Cake flavor has a nice balance of vanilla cream coating with confetti crisps in the center. Something I can return to and enjoy!

birthdaycake
I can get along with this FitJoy!

Tuesday was a travel day on the road with a stop in Dallas to see a cousin we haven’t seen in YEARS and her newborn. Before leaving, I had the two seasonal FitJoy flavors I picked up: Iced Gingerbread and Winter Peppermint Bark.

iced_ginger
I love the dark green color on the wrapper!

I was a fan of both, and while Birthday Cake still “took the cake” in comparison, I couldn’t help but appreciate the cinnamon-looking flakes atop the Iced Gingerbread bar, and it’s holiday aroma. The Winter Peppermint Bark bar looked festive, as well as having a minty fresh taste.

winterpeppermint
Pink peppermint pieces! A white icing swirl! Why aren’t all their bars like this??

It was a four hour trip to my cousin’s apartment, but it was so nice to catch up. The last time we saw her, my sister and I were in elementary school and she was 12! Her baby boy was adorable, and we had a humble lunch before leaving for Houston. It was another four hours from Dallas, and I gave my Dad a break from driving by taking the wheel. When we got to Houston that evening, we encountered intermittent but harsh rainstorms! It was an adventure to drive through for sure, so it was nice to have my Dad alongside me to guide me through it, haha.

mall_
A fancy mall/apartment complex in the Upper Kirby area of Houston.

We reached my cousin’s place around 8pm, chatted for a bit, and had some pumpkin chili with bread rolls before going to bed. The next morning, I ran in the humid Houston weather and was drenched in sweat after five miles…was it really still winter? Haha, I did get a bit lost after taking a wrong turn, so I actually ended up having a 30 min cool-down walk before getting back to my cousin’s house.

pondicheri
Pondicheri

We didn’t have any set plans, but we did finally leave for lunch once my cousin’s son and husband were ready. For lunch, we went over to a trendy Indo-fusion place called Pondicheri (not to be confused with Pondicherry, an actual city in India).

interior
Love the India decor!

The interior was colorful, with reds, yellows, and blues thrown everywhere like no tomorrow. The seating arrangements were slightly crowded though, and for a group of six we had to squeeze two small tables together.

curry
Rajma (what I got) description, and a colorful wordy wall by the restrooms.

All of us had a paneer cheese and spinach samosa to start off with as an appetizer. Hot sauce was used for dipping, and added some chemical heat to the temperature heat that was still stored inside the golden crust of the samosa. Steam came out so rapidly that it fogged up my phone camera!

paneer_samosa
Aww, it looks so cute too!

For my entree, I had some rice with spicy vegetable rajma, which was basically a curry type dish that was spicy and bean-rich. I ultimately mixed the rice into this and had is as one combined bowl. I also picked at. T Dad’s morning thali, which had a variety of different sides, including oddly enough, oatmeal topped with pistachio!

bowl
Rajma & tumeric rice

Everyone else had dosa, burgers, or a wrap called a Frankie, which is apparently a common street food Mumbai-style stuffed roti & egg wash wrap with cilantro chutney & marinated cabbage.

After filling up on lunch, we walked back to the van we drove in and made our way to a temple. The drive was long with traffic, so I dozed off along with everyone else in a passenger seat. We spent a good hour at the temple, and even took a moment to check out the peacock garden. There were four fluorescent blue males busy grooming their extravagant tails, and three bored females.

It was 4:30pm when we left, and we stopped at a strip mall with some Indian grocery stores and restaurants for some late afternoon coffee. The coffee was too milky for me, but it was enough to keep me slightly awake until we got back to my cousin’s house. We spent another two hours in the area for some Indian grocery shopping. Then another hour or so in traffic! Needless to say, at least my sister and I were exhausted by he time we got back. I immediately changed into my pajamas and did some data analysis on my laptop until dinner was ready.

We concluded the day with a spaghetti dinner, dessert from the bake shop Pondicheri that my cousin picked up when we were still at the restaurant earlier in the day, and board game playing. My cousin’s son had a board game called “Ticket to Ride” that he insisted we all participate in together. My sister compared it to the game Risk, and while it was a fun game, I honestly wanted to just head to my room and sleep since it had been a long day. We finished up around midnight, and I couldn’t have been more ready to land on my pillow! But at least I was the fun kind of exhausted.

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

One Week

One Week

In one week, I’ll be up at 4:30AM, excited/anxious/nervous about the 13.1 miles ahead on the streets of San Francisco.

(source)

So not quite the marathon, but the half is challenging enough for me right now anyways ;)!

They were hosting early bib pick-up at locations all over the bay this past weekend, and I managed to grab my bag on Saturday, which included some cool stuff like a trial size of dry shampoo, my pace wrsitband, and some food samples (trail mix, Luna bar, somersaults!!)

NW(H)M Pre-Race Swwwag

Training-wise, I haven’t put in the amount of LSD runs as I planned/wanted to. To be honest, I was feeling bored with my “training plan” and often didn’t meet my weekly mileage goals. On the plus side, my pace has significantly gotten better since wearing better (and newer shoes), as well as with the cool fall weather (my summer runs were killing me!!). I hope this doesn’t go against me, but the way I see it, if I can keep a 10:00-10:30/mi pace, I will be on track for a new PR…for sure taking place of my current 2:22:00.

Food-wise, I have been enjoying these awesome seasonal flavors of Clif bars:

My most favorite flavor is pumpkin, followed by gingerbread, and lastly pecan pie (even though it is new)! Nothing beats pumpkin spice :)
My most favorite flavor is pumpkin, followed by gingerbread, and lastly pecan pie (even though it is new)! Nothing beats pumpkin spice 🙂

They were on “sale” at Raley’s for a $1.00 each. Considering Raley’s, I guess that it counts as a sale ;).

I also ordered and munched away at Quest Bar’s new flavor—Double Chocolate Chunk!!!

Quest Bar Double Chocolate Chunk

Look at it…

Quuuest Bar!!!

…not the prettiest bar in the world, but when microwaved, it tasted like a super-warm, fudgy lava cake!

And they threw in a free bar as a bonus. How did they know I’m in love with their cookie dough flavor?

Free Bar! And Sticker!

Thoughts-wise, I’m feeling somewhat pumped since I did watch Spirit of the Marathon last night. At the same time, I just want it to be over. I’m also bummed that I can’t make it to the expo this weekend (work and stupid Bay Area/SF toll are my primary reasons…), but in the end, it may be best since I should take it easy the day and night before the big race.

For this week, I would like to get a decent amount of mileage in (and possible a good, long 9 mile run), but I won’t beat myself up if it doesn’t work out. As long as I’m ready to go on race day, that’s what counts right?

Pre-race expos: yay or nay?

How strict are you with your race training?

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