Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma City, OK

We decided to take a day trip to Oklahoma City (OKC) since it was a drive, but local enough to call it a daytrip.

It was a cold morning, like all the other mornings that week, and after some morning coffee and a shakeout run (my muscle soreness seemed to calm down three days post-marathon), we left for OKC around 10am. From Tulsa, it was an one and a half hour drive.

Classen Curve
Classen Curve

I didn’t have much of an appetite when we left, but when we reached OKC, my head was aching and my hunger levels were increasing.

Apparently OKC is the the eighth-largest city in the U.S. by land area. And it was apparent..sure there were shops and infrastructure, but there was a whole lotta uninhabited land in between.

For lunch, we paid a visit to Green Goodies in Classen Curve.

Green Goodies Interior
Green Goodies Interior

It was primarily a cupcake shop, but they had some savory lunch options available.

Green Goodies
Green Goodies

I had their Southwest Quinoa Bowl since the avocado and spicy cream sauce sounded most appetizing to me at the time. My Dad had some more soup (lolol) and a veggie wrap.

I just loved the cream sauce and avocado of my bowl.
I just loved the cream sauce and avocado of my bowl.

The bowl was small, but definitely flavorful, warm, and filling for its size.

Veggie wrap & tomato soup.
Veggie wrap & tomato soup.

My dad’s soup and wrap looked like too meager to me, but he was alright with just that. He was starting to feel warm (later he ended up getting sick with a fever 🙁 ), so it was just enough for him.

After lunch, I noticed that my headache still seemed to linger around, and I feel like it was made worse thanks to the car drive. I tried to nap it off, but I didn’t want to leave the car and brace the wind chill once we got to the OKC Memorial.

But I eventually did get out…

OKC Memorial
OKC Memorial

The memorial was a bittersweet, but beautiful display. There were two large gates guarding two opposite sides of the memorial, marked with the relevant times the bombings took place. Chair statues on the lawn represented the lives that were lost, and there was a reflecting pool in the middle.

22 years ago.
22 years ago.

My dad and I went inside the museum after walking around the memorial grounds, where it was much warmer. Once inside, we walked through two floors of exhibits, organized from the day of the event all the way through the investigations, aftermath, and the influence this tragedy had on the events in years to come.

It was an extremely cold day outside, but the fall weather made the trees turn such a beautiful orange color.
It was an extremely cold day outside, but the fall weather made the trees turn such a beautiful orange color.

I definitely walked out with an understanding and empathy for those that suffered, even though I was just a toddler when the bombings happened. After spending about two hours at the memorial, my dad and I stopped for some coffee before going for a walk at one of the nature parks. Soon after, we made the long-ish drive back home, just before it got dark.

Thanksgiving was the next day, and I did my best to enjoy and relax in each and every minute. I started off the day with a shakeout run, taking in fall views of the Arkansas River.

Riverside Trail
Riverside Trail

We had a Thanksgiving potluck at a friend’s house, and I surprisingly wasn’t super hungry. I ate what I wanted, but I didn’t have the desire to stuff myself completely.

We left our friend’s house around 4pm, and my Dad wanted to check out Best Buy for the beginning of Black Friday sales. Even after having pumpkin pie, I had a hankering for some Halo Top, so I grabbed a pint from Reasor’s and snacked on it in the parking lot, haha!

"I didn't just have pumpkin pie last night 🎃 but happened to find the limited edition @halotopcreamery Pumpkin Pie flavor at @reasors as well! Had this in the parking lot while my Dad braced the Black Friday (or should I say Thursday??) Best Buy crowd 😅😅"
“I didn’t just have pumpkin pie last night 🎃 but happened to find the limited edition @halotopcreamery Pumpkin Pie flavor at @reasors as well! Had this in the parking lot while my Dad braced the Black Friday (or should I say Thursday??) Best Buy crowd 😅😅”

It had small chunks of what seemed to be similar in taste and texture to pie crust, all mixed in a soft pumpkin ice cream base.

I went to sleep soon after returning home, and the next day was mostly spent running around to some more stores with my dad (on actual Black Friday, lol), and stopping by GNC for some bars to snack on on my flight back home.

Got to try two, new-to-me Fitjoy bars, and while I like the soft, chewy texture of Grandma’s Lemon Square, I couldn’t get behind the Raspberry Chocolate Truffle flavor much…I mean, if it’s dark chocolate? No thanks…

"Looking for a protein bar that packs a sour punch, while still maintaining a delicate balance of sweetness? @fitjoy Grandma's Lemon Square seems to fit the bill 👌🏽 👵🏽 🍋"
“Looking for a protein bar that packs a sour punch, while still maintaining a delicate balance of sweetness? @fitjoy Grandma’s Lemon Square seems to fit the bill 👌🏽 👵🏽 🍋”
"Eh, didn't like the Raspberry Truffle flavor that much. The raspberry flavor was somewhat overwhelming and the dark chocolate wasn't too appealing 😕"
“Eh, didn’t like the Raspberry Truffle flavor that much. The raspberry flavor was somewhat overwhelming and the dark chocolate wasn’t too appealing 😕”

I made it back to LA close to 6pm, and grabbed some Subway for dinner since I was extremely exhausted. It was a chore just to unpack, but once I hit my bed, I was able to fall asleep so easily and peacefully 🙂

Green Goodies OKC Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Race Recap – Owasso Marching Band Run to the Beat 5k

Race Recap – Owasso Marching Band Run to the Beat 5k

For about five weeks, I’ve been frustrated when it comes to running. After beginning to see improvements in my pace, and after finally getting into the 35-40 mi/week range, I began to feel posterior shin pain in my left leg. At first it was mild, and it came about during a week I was feeling tired all over, so I dropped my mileage substantially and took it easy. When the pain didn’t go away right away, I knew it must be an injury, and as much as I hated having to do so, I lowered my mileage for a few weeks after, and slowed my pace in order to not exacerbate the injury.  I even ended up sacrificing $45 that I paid as a registration fee for a 10K I was planning on running at the end of July, since that was when the pain really started to kick in and I decided it was best not risk making the injury worse.

It’s been something I’ve had to figure out on a weekly basis, and it’s something I wish would go away ASAP. I first had it checked out by a chiropractor at the IDEA expo as an area I could get free KT tape for. I then went to a running store to replace the Newtons I had run 500+ miles on, and got some suggestions from the sales clerk there on what I could do in the meantime to help my shin heal faster. This was about three weeks before I made the trip to Oklahoma, and with the pain still there (less intense on some weeks, and more intense on weeks I tried to increase mileage), I tried Graston for the first time. I’m not sure if it really helped, but the PT who conducted the procedure advised that I should notice the effects 72 hours after the procedure was administered. I’ll be keeping an eye on it as this week continues, but dealing with this injury (though now healing) has really dampened my enthusiasm even though at the back of my mind, I know that it is a temporary set-back.

Since I was in Oklahoma for a week, I did want to participate in a race since my Dad could attend as well. The Graston Guy (lol) said running on Saturday would be okay, and so I was able to participate in the “Run to the Beat 5K” in Owasso. The race was benefiting the Owasso High School Marching Band, and being a band geek myself back in the day, I was glad I was helping out a local band attend marching reviews, purchase instruments, and refurbish uniforms.

Owasso is a town about 20 minutes north of metropolitan Tulsa, and the drive reminded me of the drives I used to take on the way to Sacramento when I lived in Nor Cal just a few years ago…

Sunrise and new running shoes to help with my pronation.
Sunrise and new running shoes to help with my pronation.

The race, and race-check-in, was taking place at Owasso High School, home of the Owasso Rams. The weather was about 20 degrees cooler than predicted, with gray clouds looming overhead and with rain being in the new forecast as well.

Race Check-In
Race Check-In

Packet pick-up was underwhelming, but I did get a new race shirt along with promo cards for other local races I knew I would not be able to attend, since they would be taking place from September-November.

Packet Pick-Up
Packet Pick-Up

A fun run took place on the football field starting at 7:00am, which I assumed was about a mile based on the times people were finishing. By the time the last person was in from the fun run, everyone else began to assemble for the 5k race. I positioned myself close to the front, since I wanted to set myself up to run between an 8:20-8:50/mi pace.

Getting ready to begin
Getting ready to begin

One thing that distinguished this race from all of the Cali races I’ve run was that an actual hunting rifle was used to signal the start of the race, rather than a blow horn or…something less intense? Haha. A few girls in front of me covered their ears with their hands, knowing that the rifle was going to be LOUD. The guy holding the rifle looked so serious, as if the sanctity of the race depended on his ability to shoot the rifle, which I thought was absolutely comical.

Do you see the hunting rifle in his hands?! (Okay maybe not...the picture is blurry, haha)
Do you see the hunting rifle in his hands?!

When we were given the motion to take off, I could feel my shin slightly act up when I initially pushed off, but once I got going, the pain subsided. I was averaging a 7:45 pace (!!) for the first 0.6 miles, and for the first mile, ended up with 7:56 or something like that. As the race continued, my pace slowed slightly, but I was able to maintain within an 8:20-8:30/mi pace for the rest of the time through. I was pushing, but not so hard that I was going to keel over.

The last turn had us go around the football stadium bleachers in order to cross the same finish line the fun run runners crossed, which was next to the football field and on the track. I finished with an 8:23/mi pace according to my Garmin, and while it wasn’t as speedy as my last 5K back in June, I was very ecstatic with my performance and time, given my shin troubles in the past weeks.

Start/Finish on the Football Field
Start/Finish on the Football Field

There wasn’t much in race freebies other than water bottles, bagels from Panera (though they did have a wide variety of flavors available), bananas in the raw (ugh), and one table for an energy drink whose name I already forgot.

My Dad was patient enough to wait until everyone crossed the finish line so that the “award ceremony” could begin. Small medals were given to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers in male and female age groups. With my time, I ended up getting second in my age group.

After the race, we drove back to Tulsa for some breakfast since it was 9:00 and all we had that morning was some coffee. We went to an old favorite, Old School Bagels, and it was just as lively as I remember from last December.

BAEgels
BAEgels

It was warm enough to sit outside this time around though (even though the clouds above begged to differ), and my Dad and I split the same two bagels as we did last time: a savory honey wheat bagel with egg and cheese, and a sweet cinnamon bagel with Nutella. I also had a couple sips of his black coffee. They were playing the women’s Olympic triathlon on one of the TVs they had outside, so all of us on the patio had our eyes glued to the screen as we ate.

Love this.
Love this.

After breakfast, we proceeded with our Saturday wrapping up some errands, napping, and getting food ready for a dinner we were having with some family friends later that evening. The rest of my Saturday seemed to go smoothly since my mind was put at ease from the results of the race. Even though the pain isn’t completely gone yet, I was still able to run at a solid pace despite it. I think that mentally gave me a confidence boost, as well as assurance that it will eventually heal.

 I was also grateful that I was able to run a race with my Dad in attendance after almost a year! The last race he saw me run was the RNR Las Vegas in November, so having him waiting for me at the finish line was a great motivator as well. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a local race taking place around the holidays so he can attend again, but until then, I’m looking forward to a fun and challenging fall racing season (if my shin continues to cooperate of course)!

Have you ever had an annoying exercise-related injury?

Pre-Christmas Bagels

Pre-Christmas Bagels

During my visit to Tulsa, my Dad insisted we pay a visit to his favorite bagel place. By the end of the trip, we had eaten there three times—two of which were in the same day!

We stopped at Old School Bagel Cafe after spending an hour at the gym, for a late breakfast.

old_school_bagel_cafe
Old School Bagel Cafe

My Dad and I split a savory and sweet bagel. For our savory bagel, my Dad insisted that I try his go-to combo: a jalapeno bagel with melted cheese and egg. Sounds delicious, right? For our sweet bagel, we opted for a cinnamon raisin bagel with melted Nutella spread.

The cafe was warm, cozy, and obviously a popular spot with the crowds all around. We had a hard time finding some place to sit, but we found a small table to enjoy our bagels at soon enough.

oldskool
Inside of Old School Bagel Cafe

My Dad was absolutely right—the jalapeno bagel with egg and melted cheese was absolute perfection. It had a mild spicy flavor, and it hit the spot!

jalapenobagel_cheese_egg
Jalapeno bagel with melted cheese & egg 🙂 !!

The cinnamon raisin bagel was toasted just enough to make the minimal-coat of Nutella melt to the point that it looked like there was more of it than there really was!

cinnamonraisin_nutellabagel
Nutella in a Cinnamon Raisin Bagel!

After breakfast, we picked up my sister and we all ran some errands for the rest of the morning/early afternoon. We had plans to see a play later that afternoon, and it got to the point that our stomachs were rumbling for lunch.

Off to Old School we went…my sis hadn’t experienced their bagel finesse yet, so we had to fix that! 😉

This time around, I decided to get a salad + sandwich plate instead of a bagel. It might have not been the best choice however…

For my salad, I got the Asian salad with orange slices and almonds thrown in (and chicken taken out), my sandwich was the veggie on sourdough, with cheese, avocado, and fig jam. The fig jam was a unique add-in, but perhaps another bagel would have been more satisfying?

saladandsandwich
Veggie sandwich with asian salad.

After this lunch, we saw Beauty and the Beast in downtown. Later that evening, we caught up with an old family friend and dined out at Olive Garden. This bread-ful day was a great way to begin pre-Christmas festivites, since in the days that followed, home-cooked meals and meeting more family friends took precedence.

Have you visited a restaurant more than once in the same day?

Old School Bagel Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Night Out with the Fam

Night Out with the Fam

Over the summer, my family made the move back to Oklahoma, leaving our Nor Cal abode behind. Even though Nor Cal was where I did most of my growing up—elementary through undergrad—my baby/early childhood all took place in the middle of the country…the humble heartland.

It was so nice being able to spend a week full of laughter, company, and of course great food, with my family and our close friends. Yeah, I felt like I had to leave too soon (#responsiblegradstudent), and even though I wasn’t able to spend NYE with them, I’m grateful I was able to spend the most important part of the holiday season with them.

I arrived on Monday evening, and after getting picked up at the airport by my Dad, I was introduced to our new home and had a home-cooked curry stir-fry for dinner. I caught up with my sister since last seeing her during our Thanksgiving break.

On Tuesday, I went for a 6 mile run, and ran some errands with my Dad. For dinner, we ate out as a family at something we all were able to agree upon—Mediterranean food!

leenas_mediterraneangrill
Leena’s Mediterranean Grill 🙂

The layout was similar to a place my sister and I ate at back in September.

menu
Menu

At the counter, there is a large menu on the wall, and everything starts out with a variety of hummus. 

hummusbar___
Starts out with the hummus bar.

When you order the veggie plate, you can pile on the plate with anything offered down the line. Start with hummus/babaganoush, add some of the salads, and then rice/grains or pita bread. By the time I reached the cash register, my plate was packed with babaganoush, spicy harissa hummus, fattoush salad, cabbage slaw, tabouli, italian squash, and roasted veggies…with falafel + tahini and pita on the side. 

One note about the pita though…they forgot to give it to us, and by the time we reminded them the second time, we were practically finished with our plates…meaning, what was there to dip the pita in? And the falafel was less than stellar. Even though it has a nice crisp texture, the inside was chewy, dry, and NOT green. When a falafel isn’t green on the inside, I doubt it’s gonna be a good one 😛 !

veggie__plate
Veggie plate with falafel and pita bread.

But I suppose the plate itself was good enough!

close-up
Veggie plate goodness!

After dinner, we drove by the Rhema Christmas Lights: a grand display of holiday lights that people from all over Oklahoma make the trip to see. We were too lazy to get out of the car, but we enjoyed what we were able to see from the car. 

rhemalights
Rhema Christmas Lights

When we finally got home, I introduced my sister to the beauty that is edible cookie dough, and we tore into the cookies and cream flavor that I found at a local grocery store while running errands earlier in the day.

thecookiedoughcafe_cookies&cream
Coming home to cookie dough!

The cookies were perfectly swirled into the cookie dough, and meshed with the dough quite well. This made up for the overwhelming, chunky chocolate chip flavor I had a few days earlier, and hopefully the other flavors left to try will be just as good 😉 . But when I think about it, this flavor may have tasted 10x as good only because I was sharing it with family, haha.

Leena's Mediterranean Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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