Mission Viejo Escape

Mission Viejo Escape

Two weekends ago, I was gifted with the chance to spend a weekend with my sister in her Mission Viejo digs, as well as spend some time with Dad since he was going to be in town soon after for business.

I managed to have two of my undergrad assistants come in to take care of something for me over the weekend, so I would be able to make my visit an overnight one. I left on a Saturday afternoon, and arrived just as my sister was getting off work.

She picked me up from the Metrolink station, and from there, we hunted down dinner at Burger Boss.

Burger Boss, Mission Viejo
Burger Boss, Mission Viejo

My sister had been wanting to check it out, and we got the chance to do so since the location was close by. They actually have a number of locations around the OC. It also happened to be right next to a Creamistry, so you could guess what we had for dessert…

Putting our orders in was harder than it looked...
Putting our orders in was harder than it looked…

When we entered BB, we saw some LCD screens on the wall, as well as an order/paying counter wayyyy up at the front.  We decided to give the LCD screens a shot despite making a fool out of our orders—because the buttons were so hard to press, my sis ended up with four different kinds of cheeses on her veg burger and I ended up with two sauces in my burger bowl, haha!

Everything was aesthetically on point, no doubt about that.
Everything was aesthetically on point, no doubt about that.

I made sure put ALL THE VEGGIES AND FRUIT (pineapple, lol) in my burger bowl, on a bed of spinach. My sis’ burger was definitely not lacking in cheese.

Grilled pineapple and mushrooms <3
Grilled pineapple and mushrooms <3

Like I alluded to earlier in the post, we walked right next door to Creamistry after getting our fill of veggies and protein.

Saturday night at Creamistry, Mission Viejo
Saturday night at Creamistry, Mission Viejo

I was leaning towards ordering a nutella or speculoos flavored liquid nitrogen-based ice cream (per usual), but then my sister pointed out their Halloween special: black ice cream with cookie pieces. I was sold.

Of course, I had to top it off with mochi
Of course, I had to top it off with mochi

My sis, of course, had her beloved chocolate. We had our frozen treats inside instead of taking them to go. It was not surprising that we felt cold afterwards, haha.

My sister was adamant about making the next day a “study day”, since she had some exams coming up. I didn’t mind, since I had data to analyze anyways. The next morning, I met her at a Starbucks after a morning run. I had her bring my laptop and things over in the car, so it worked out perfectly 😛

We spent the morning working on our respective items, and when my sister suggested we get lunch, she didn’t have to tell me twice. To make things simple and local, we drove over to the Veggie Grill in Laguna Niguel.

Veggie Grill, Laguna Niguel
Veggie Grill, Laguna Niguel

I love how VG has seasonal menus—its makes my multiple visits to their various locations all the more worth it 😛

Fall '17 Menu
Fall ’17 Menu

This season’s menu seemed to offer a number of delicious-sounding options. I finally chose to get the Rustic Farm Bowl. My sis stuck to her fave chik’n ranch burger.

Rustic Farm Bowl -
Rustic Farm Bowl – farro, grilled mushrooms, roasted yams, braised cannellini beans, broccoli pesto, roasted tomatoes, red pepper sauce

The angles of the picture make it look like the bowl was a large one, but the contents were petite to my dismay. Still, it was quite filling! Just fibrous veggies doing their job I suppose…

Nature's protein-rich, starch-filled goods.
Nature’s protein-rich, starch-filled goods.

After lunch, we took a long afternoon nap and went out later in the evening to pick up some snacks to have at home so my sis could continue studying. Despite staying within my sister’s home turf and spending most of our time together at our laptops, it was a great weekend getaway for me. Mission Viejo is literally eye candy with its rolling hills and sunshine (although I will say it’s a runner’s nightmare—at least this runner’s nightmare, with all those hills!!)

Veggie Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap – New Balance L.A. Dodgers Foundation 5K & 10K

Race Recap – New Balance L.A. Dodgers Foundation 5K & 10K

I guess this will be the first year since 2013 that I did not run at least 12 races. It was some personal goal I made up when I first started running in order to make the whole experience of running in races and writing recaps an enjoyable one.

But now I find myself picking and choosing which events to run based on my training plans. Before this 10k in October, I had only run two races for the year…two marathons at that.

In my quest to become a more competitive runner (particularly marathoner), my goals have shifted in focus, and I guess that reflects in the frequency I write up these race recaps. I still enjoy writing them though—it’s just taken me forever due to the fact I’m still way behind on my posting schedule!

It was my first time running the New Balance L.A. Dodgers Foundation 10K, and race day was definitely before World Series fever. I was excited to get back into the racing mindset, and the timing, theme, and setting of this race seemed perfect.

Since the race start was at Dodger’s Stadium early on a Sunday morning, and I was still over in Santa Monica, the best thing for me to do to get there on time was to Uber. I wasn’t expecting to have my ear talked off, but there was a passenger already in the car. Despite it being 4:30am, he had a lot of energy and would not. Stop. Talking.

I honestly wanted to close my eyes and try to get any amount of sleep possible, but I wasn’t successful. I did eventually get to one of the Dodger Stadium entrances, and got out immediately.

How about "let's go runners!" ??
How about “let’s go runners!” ??

It was still dark outside, and I hoped that by walking close to some of the vendors setting up, I’d be able to snag a pre-race bar or two.

Fortunately, KIND bar had read my mind, as their booth was readily handing out bars to people passing by.

I was also able to snack on some sample pieces of Lenny and Larry’s cookies since Vitamin Shoppe also had a tent set up, and they were serving up cookie pieces in small cups.

Soon after, people begain to line up at the start and I found my place in the beginning of the pack. I did my best to pace myself at the start, but I did start off pretty fast, going at 7:19/mi. I blame the horde of anxious runners around me!

I did stabilize my pace around mile 1, after getting past the first steep hill. From that point on, I hovered around an 8:00-8:12/mi pace.

I soon realized that this course would not go down as one of my favorites. There were too many surprising hills, gravel-coated roads, twists, and turns. There were a number of steep inclines followed by fast downhills. It balanced out my pace, but it was a beating on my legs—especially since it was my first race running with a forefoot-based form.

Bird's eye view
Bird’s eye view

I found myself having to push physically and mentally by the time we hit mile 5. The last mile had to be the most boring in design ever. We were literally running around a parking lot…

But I did finish at an average pace of 8:17/mi!

Ultimately, I found it a straightforward, but challenging course with unnecessary add-on. I mean, why did there have to be hills??

Post-race
Post-race

I grabbed an apple from a table positioned near the post-race walk path, and guzzled down a bottle of aloe water.

I later learned that I ended up placing third in my age division, and so I was given two free tickets to a Dodger’s game—next year, haha! Even though I’ve never been a big sports fan, having the chance to go to a game for free sounded like an opportunity that would be a shame to miss out on.

Two free baseball game tickets...for next year...
Two free baseball game tickets…for next year…

After walking around the race area for a bit, I walked out of the stadium towards Chinatown station. My next stop was a light brunch in Pasadena, Urth Caffe style.

Urth is probably now considered an LA staple, and after visiting a number of their locations over the years, I was surprised that I waited this long to go to the one in Pasadena. But going post-race was the perfect reason to go.

One thing I’ve learned is that there will always be crowds. That’s why the local chain has been around this long…

There's always gonna be a line. Why do I even act surprised??
There’s always gonna be a line. Why do I even act surprised??

But I came prepared knowing what to get: the Italia Tiramisu, and a chai latte.

Dining outside
Dining outside

I was seated in the front outside, and slowly dug into the tiramisu while I waited for my latte to come out. But unlike the Matcha and Earl Grey tiramisus I’ve had in the past, I found the dark chocolate shavings and strong coffee flavor of the Italia Tiramisu not in my favor.

Eh, I'll pass on this one next time.
Eh, I’ll pass on this one next time.

The latte was warm, but lacked flavor. Where was the chai? Even with the lack of flavor, I can’t deny that overall it was a satisfying post-race treat!

Lacked flavor, but it was warm & satisfying
Lacked flavor, but it was warm & satisfying

Urth Caffe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vent Sesh (Pull Up a Chair)

Vent Sesh (Pull Up a Chair)

When I came back after an eight mile run and didn’t see anyone in sight, I couldn’t help but feel a little down. I had run a solid 8:40/mi pace on legs still recouping from a 12 mile run the day before, but compared to the group I was running with that day, it felt like I had gone for a Sunday morning stroll in comparison.

For the past three months, I have been trying to find a running coach to take my training to the next level. It’s been really tough only because I don’t have any previous connections nor do I run at the elite level…I’m just trying to find someone to get me there…

I did end up contacting someone as a potential coach a couple months ago, but finding a time to meet kept getting pushed back further and further until this past weekend when I was invited to join this person’s group for a run.

I knew going in that this may not have been the best way to meet because I wasn’t about to run at a 6:30 pace overnight. Honestly I just wanted to meet over coffee, and have a real discussion about what I could do to get help with my training…without “squeezing a run in” be the main priority. I also did not want to risk being the girl who “didn’t know what she was in for”.

cookies
Wanted to share another new Halo Top find, even though unrelated to this vent session (haha) ~ Cookies & Cream! The packaging is gorgeous but the flavor did not blow me away…I was expecting CHUNKS of cookies 🍪 mixed in, but the “cookies” were more like crumbs that lacked much flavor ☹️.

It feels like there are tons of resources for recreational runners or runners who have been running their whole life at a competitive level, and basically nothing for transitioning runners: anyone who wants to take what started as a hobby and grow it into something more serious—especially if they’re still running at a pace slower than 7:00/mi.

So yeah, I’ve got to admit that it hurt to come back to everyone gone. I got a text later from the potential coach apologizing for running ahead so quickly, explaining that they had been in a rush to get somewhere else. Would it have really been too much trouble to let me know beforehand??

I’ve been the victim of this kind of “ding dong ditch” behavior of other people my entire life, and while I have learned that this kind of behavior is not a reflection of myself but rather the lack of sensitivity, etiquette, and professionalism of others, it still sucks to have to say “no problem” or “it’s alright” or “I understand”.

At least this potential coach got back to me later that evening about how this person thought I needed extra training….um, yes, that’s exactly what I asked you three months ago in email. And at least I was given a contact for someone else I could try, and my quest to become a competitive runner continues.

sea
Caption straight from Instagram 😉 ~ Sea Salt Caramel 🌊 🌊 🌊 ! There was a decent amount of caramel swirl throughout the pint, and I’ve always been a fan of the Vanilla Bean flavor, so having that as the base was a good decision made 👍. By the time I dug into it (after walking for 30 minutes from the grocery store in the heat at high noon), it was nice and melty on the top while still solidified at the center. It was my snack while watching The latest SNL episode 😂.

I hope that my next opportunity to find someone will be more fruitful. In high school, I spent an entire summer serving 100 tennis balls a day in order to make my way into singles varsity from junior varsity. I also ran for president of my Robotics team and held that position for two years when my teacher thought I wasn’t interested in being there in the first place. I wasn’t a track star—in fact I hated running with all my heart—but somehow, it managed to crawl back into my life and now it is one of the things I want to immerse myself in fully.

I will do whatever I can to get to the level I want to be because that’s just my character. I’ve always been a lone wolf, partly due to my life circumstances and as a defense mechanism to protect myself from the drama brought on by others. This has led me to find my own solutions and figure out ways to help myself when no one else could.

Fortunately or unfortunately, this applies here too. I’m not going to stop my journey even if others around me aren’t fit to join me, or don’t understand my purpose. I do not have to have been a collegiate cross country star in order to relish in running today.

I hope that reaching out to my next contact as a possible running coach proves more successful, but no matter what I’m going to keep pushing. Being the underdog has been my specialty for so many years, and that’s one thing I don’ need help on improving…

Well, that was how my Sunday went in case you were wondering! But even though this situation didn’t exactly help to boost my self-esteem, I tried not to let it affect my body image and eating plans for the day.

As I was walking back and pondered over what had happened that morning, I also kept my eyes peeled for cute coffee shops and brunch places. I found myself again on Montana Ave., and with no particular place in mind, I just decided to walk until I found something.

fruitco
Waiting for FF Co to open!!

I stumbled upon Frozen Fruit Co. and when I saw they offered “fruyo” bowls, I just had to have one.

I was their first customer that day because they opened at 11am and I was literally waiting outside the door trying not to look like a hungry and delirious runner.

fruit-co
Love the color scheme!

As soon as I saw that a bowl was an option, I immediately went for that! For $8, you actually get quite a lot of variety and textures! I had granola as my base (honey and almond), then had a banana, coconut milk, dates, and pumpkin spice “fruyo”. On top of all that, I got to pick four toppings—pretty much what you’d find in a froyo shop 😉

fruyo_bowl
Decadence!!!

I picked mango, strawberries, confetti sprinkles, and mochi because mochi is my jam.

granola-peep
Granola peep!

I walked a little bit further down the street and found a solitary park bench to sit down and enjoy this healthier-than-it-looks bowl. I truly needed all of this food…even though I didn’t run at an elite runner’s pace, I was still starving!

Later on in the day, I stopped by Whole Foods because I still felt hungry. I had satisfied my weekly craving for Halo Top, so I was pleased to find this in the refrigerated aisle.

edoughble
Edoughble, we meet again!

It’s been a while since I had this cookie dough, and since I had not tried Cookies N’ Dream, I couldn’t think of a better time to have it! This, and the fruyo bowl, while not completely uplifting my mood, did do their part to help.

How do you vent (writing, talking it out, etc.)?

Frozen Fruit Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo Running Shoes

New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo Running Shoes

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

When the pain first appeared though, I went through a list of items trying to figure out what the problem was and how to fix it. I was thinking my now-older, orange Newtons, which had 500+ miles at this point, could be an issue, and I visited a local running store to get their opinion. The guy helping me out was pretty knowledgable, and helped me narrow down some options that provided arch support, cushioning, and some stabilization for my overpronation. I’ve had a tendency to over pronate since my high school tennis days, and while it’s not a major issue, having shoes that help prevent the pronation occur less can go a long way. 
 
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Color Selection: Black with Bayside & Lava
 
I ended up deciding on a pair of New Balance Vongos. When I put them on at the store, they had a cushy feel, and while the height was not exactly as extreme as my Hoka’s of past, they felt higher off the ground compared to my Newtons.  
 
The color combination also was eye-catching, so that was definitely a deal maker. 
 
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That criss-cross though
 
My Dad and I used to joke that New Balance shoes are “old people shoes”, and even Saturday Night Live made a skit about it. For me however, I don’t really care as long as they allow me to run properly, aid in healing my injury (that is now responding to a treatment!), and perhaps even help me to run faster! 
 
1-3
Flat & spacious
 
At the time of this review, these shoes will have about ~150 miles on them. I also swapped out the inserts with some other stabilizing inserts for extra support just in case. So far, things are going pretty smoothly.
 
1-4
These inserts already look pressed in lol

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

Seattle Adventures – Part 2

Seattle Adventures – Part 2

After filling up at SHN for brunch, we popped into a bookstore that was in the Fremont District before heading out and onwards. My sis and friend found some books, but didn’t go too crazy since they didn’t have too much room in their bags 😉

Since we had to pass Troll Ave., we got to take a look at the troll statue under the highway! We didn’t get too up close and personal, but we could see the eerie details from far away. He definitely did not look like this familiar face…

“I’m the grumpy ol’ troll, who lives under the bridge!”

More like this…

Bookstore // Fremont Troll
Bookstore // Fremont Troll

We then stopped at a QFC to refill our Orca cards, grab some water, and use the restroom before walking further north to Green Lake.

So blue and pretty
So blue and pretty

My sis and friends are certainly not the walking type. So when I said it was only “a 1-2 mile walk to the lake” from the QFC, they weren’t exactly excited since we already had to walk from the Fremont District to QFC. I was so relieved when we did make it to the lake though, and that we didn’t take a wrong turn along the way. I would have faced an unbearable wrath if things had happened differently, that’s for sure 😉

duckssss
Ducky duck ducks.

I do think that watching ducks take group naps and feast on seeds soaked in peanut butter being tossed out by a local made the walk much more worthwhile.

Once we had our share of nature, we took a bus westward towards University of Washington. We ended up getting off farther out than we expected, since the bus got super crowded at one point, and the three of us got separated from each other on the bus.

When we were able to reconvene at a new bus stop, we re-navigated ourselves and eventually ended up at University Village where we wanted to be.

We…well, I…was in need of a coffee, so the first thing we did was stop at a Starbucks Reserve within the shopping complex.

Recharge & refuel!
Recharge & refuel!

While our phones recharged, I recharged with a cinnamon dolce latte with a (surprising) topping of whipped cream (the baristas seem to be really artistic here, haha). My friend got a frapp, and my sis an iced tea. We also ended up sharing stuffed Bantam Bagels…so warm, chewy, creamy, and messy!

Oozy bagel!
Oozy bagel!

After our afternoon coffee/tea/snack, we walked around for a bit until we found ourselves right in front of Amazon Books. I knew from that point on, I had lost my sis and friend…they were eager to pounce on in and when I told them I was leaving them to find another store that was on my radar, they were already steps into the store with baskets in their hand ready to tackle all the books they could!

This gave me plenty of time to find Oiselle, a women’s running apparel store based in Seattle. I had read about the brand in Runner’s World and how they sponsor elite women runners. Since I was in the area, I thought it would be a fun idea to pop in and see what they had to offer.

wazel
Oiselle in University Village

The store itself was small in size, but they had all different sizes of shorts, running tanks to longsleeves, and a small clearance rack in the back. I took a couple things to try on, and found a pair of running shorts that I deemed as a worthy investment. Anything that works as an incentive to keep running, right?

oisellefitting
Cute fitting room!

I returned to Amazon Books, and spent another half an hour within the store waiting for the girls to finish up. Once they were all good and ready, I announced that dinner—Pizza Pi Vegan Pizzaeia—would be a good walk away, but they weren’t too bummed by that since they were both in their happy place.

The walk did pose a challenge though. We had to climb three flights of stairs through what seemed like the woods over the course of the walk! My sister’s bag tore, and I gave her my oversized brown bag which held my shorts.

At least all of this trekking was worth it when we came upon graffiti pizza.

veganpizzapi
Vegan Pizza Pi

Before ordering at the counter, we took the menu to a table and pondered over the options.

yahthemenu
Menu

After much debate (it is vegan pizza after all), we decided to go with a large pizza, half “Aloha” and half “Buffalo Chicken”. The employees seemed to be super accommodating and were able to fulfill our half pizza request!

pizzainterior
Inside

Once the pizza arrived, I helped myself to an Aloha slice since that’s what I wanted. My sis and friend each took a Buffalo Chicken slice, and when I helped myself to a slice after finding my first slice of Aloha disappointing, I new that my choice could have been better.

pizzzzzza
1/2 Aloha, 1/2 Buffalo Chicken

The Aloha, which was pineapple, tofurky slices, tomatoes, and mushrooms on top of red sauce, ended up being a subpar combination. I thought the tofurky would actually be cubed in form to represent Canadian bacon, but that was not the case.

pizza
Slice Slice Slicin’!!!

The Buffalo Chicken had a kick of spice, a tangy ranch-like sauce, and seasoned soy chicken and celery bits. Overall this was obviously the winner.

But for ~$9 per person, and the option to have a large pizza split into two combinations, it was a great deal!

After pizza, we were more than ready to get back since it was starting to get colder. Even though we were having issues with our Airbnb (inconsistent wifi, no TV, no mirrors…), we did have a pretty fantastic view that added to the comfort vibe.

View from our Airbnb
View from our Airbnb

What are your favorite toppings and sauces for pizza?

Pizza Pi Vegan Pizzaeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap – Hollywood Half Marathon

Race Recap – Hollywood Half Marathon

Last week, I ran the Hollywood Half, but it was far from being one of my favorite half marathons to-date. You’d think that a race with a steep race fee and that was super hyped-up would offer a more memorable and enjoyable experience, but for me, that was not the case.

My irritations began with the mandatory packet pick-up that had to be done on Thursday or Friday, since they were not offering race day pick-up…

packet pickup
Packet pick-up at Hollywood Palladium.

That meant I had to leave lab early enough to catch the red line and make it in time to the “expo” to pick up my packet at the Hollywood Palladium.

This so-called expo had absolutely no freebies, but oddly enough, they had ample seats for teeth whitening?

clean
Teeth whitening at an running expo…hmmm

The lack of freebies made me an irritated kind of hungry, and I stopped at Trader Joe’s before catching the red line back to head back home. Once back at my apartment, I went to sleep early in order to get up at 4am to have enough time to arrive by the 6am call time.

Even though I woke up on time, had all of my things laid out, and felt amped up for the race, I got off at the starting line (Hollywood/Highland) only to realize that I had to walk an extra fifteen minutes BACK to Hollywood/Vine to drop off my bag because their gear check was at the finish line. No where on the website or in the e-mail did I see any clear explanation of gear check…yes, they said there would be gear check at the finish line, but they didn’t say participants had to DROP OFF their stuff at the finish line and then walk to the start…how is that a fair assumption when so many other races offer start line gear check?

Needless to say, I got my warm-up run in, running just under a 9 min/mi pace. Unfortunately, this didn’t stay during the race.

My pace maintained within the 9:20-9:50/mi range, with me averaging a 9:40/mi by the end of it. It definitely wasn’t my best, but there were many inclines, and—the major drawback of the course—HARD GRAVEL PAVEMENT. It was the first time in my years of running that my knees acutally felt sore from the constant pounding on extremelt flat, gravel streets.

Another unpleasant thing about the course was the random detours off of Hollywood in order to make it a 13.1 mile course. I understand that in order for it to be a “Hollywood Half” that keeping it within the constraints of Hollywood Blvd would require off-shoots into random neighborhoods, but still, it was far-from-thrilling race course :/

By the time I reached the finish, my knees were ready to hug me. I grabbed some water, my shiny medal (probably the only good thing of this race…), and a handful of snacks when I should have grabbed more because once I left the finisher’s zone, they didn’t allow runners to reenter.

race
Cheesy photo-ops 😀

I walked down the strip of road to see if there were any freebies to offered post-race. Besides some fizzy drinks, an energetic emcee, and a food truck that was NOT giving away free food.

stage
Run MC – He was energetic and very good as an emcee!
drinks
Literally the only booth that was giving out edible freebies (carbonated drinks….)

I realized I would be better off stopping by the Starbucks close to the red line station for my post-race breakfast. Other runners agreed based on the line curling around near the door.

cookie and coffee after race
Had to get me something I actually wanted…this hit the spot post-13.1 miles!!!

With my caramel macchiato and butterfly cookie in hand, I found a seat by the window and chatted with my Dad over the phone rehashing the not-so-stellar race experience.

view from the window
View from the window!

If there is anything I learned from this race, it is to not do it again (unless they make several changes), and not assume that any race with a pricey fee will be of good quality…even if the race organizers think it has celebrity status :/

medal
The medal was very pretty though!

Have you ever paid too much for something that was over-hyped only to be very disappointed by it?

Newton Mens Motion Stability Trainer 11 Running Shoes

Newton Mens Motion Stability Trainer 11 Running Shoes

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

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

1
Newton Mens Motion Stability Trainer 11 Running Shoes

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

2
Side of box

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

3
Newton’s Laws (of Running)

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

4
So bright, so orange, so much pop!

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

5
Lacing up for the first time!

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

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

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

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

Race Recap: Wascally Wabbit Half Mawothon

Race Recap: Wascally Wabbit Half Mawothon

Even though I have an exciting half marathon coming up in a few months, (which I realize I haven’t gone into much detail yet on the blog!) I wanted to take part in an annual half marathon well-known in the Central Valley, since I happened to be visiting my sister the same weekend it was occurring.

The Wascally Wabbit Half Mawothon sounds like a fun race just by the sound of it, and when I made it to the race site, the theme became much clearer with race participants sporting bunny ears and cottontails.

My race prep wasn’t anything extravagant compared to other halfs I’ve run in the past. I’ve been pretty persistent in my weekly running goals for the past several months, aiming to hit 30 miles a week by running 6-8 miles 3x during the week, and a long run of 8-12 miles on either Saturday or Sunday. I’ve been keeping up this regimen in order to stay in marathon-prep shape, and to also be ready-to-go if I want to sign up for a half marathon at the last minute.

So on race day morning, I got up in the mental state of getting ready for “just another long run”. I woke up at 5:30AM, kicked off my sleeping bag, assembled my running supplies, and dashed out the door. Transportation wasn’t an issue since I got to drive my old car/ now sister’s car to the race start at Woodward Park.

 Rise and shine.
Rise and shine.

I ended up parking in a strip mall parking lot across the street from the park, since parking within the park cost $5. The extra walk was needed anyways, since I felt slightly chilly from the early morning breeze passing through. Actually, it was the first time I felt cold in months!!

 Sunrise!
Sunrise!

Once I got to the actual race site, I was able to pick up my bib, shirt, a wristband, and drawstring bag, and leave my items safely behind with bag check. I cam prepared with a drawstring bag of my own to tie across my chest in case I had to run with it, but I was glad to see the race organizers made sure to have a bag check area for participants!

6
Waiting near the start.

The race started right on time at 7AM, and since the course was mostly loops throughout the park and on trail, it reminded me of this summer half I ran back in June. This race actually had pacers though, and I decided to start off with the 1:55 pacer just to see where I could and would end up. If I PR’d, great, if not, there will be more opportunities!

The first 6 miles, even though I run this distance regularly, felt like the longest. I’ve come to realize that running in rural and barren areas, as it often is with trail running, makes shorter distances seem much longer than they really are. It can be frustrating, but I did my best to appreciate the fresh, unpolluted air, and the beauty of the Central Valley below me when I did have to pace myself up hills.

At around the 7 mile mark, the 2:00 pacer began to catch up to me, and I could feel her and her small group right at my tail! This was obviously more motivation for me to push harder, and finishing this race in under 2:00 could be reality after all.

My pace/mi was bouncing between 8:15 – 9:15, and I wasn’t feeling out of breath. I was still working hard to keep at this pace though, and to pass the time, I tried to figure out how much hydrogen peroxide my mitochondria were producing during this bout of intense cardio. <—NERD ALERT B)

Once getting through mile 9, the last few miles meshed together, and before I knew it, I had crossed the finish line before the race clock struck 2:00!! I now had a new personal record in the half, and texted my Dad the wonderful news immediately.

3
Chillin’ after the run.

After receiving my medal, I gulped 1 1/2 bottles of water like nobody’s business, and checked out my surroundings for free food.

4
Pancake breakfast, no thanks.

There was a pancake breakfast, a booth raffling off snacks, and another booth giving out ice cream. I wasn’t in the mood for pancakes, I didn’t feeling being solicited, and my sister and I had plans for ice cream later…so nothing really worked out in my favor 🙁

5
Very few booths

I was totally fine with leaving the race with a few water bottles if it meant a new HM record! The medal was pretty cool too!

7
Gorgeous medal though.

I left a little after 9:30AM, feeling refreshed, recharged, and ready to enjoy the rest of the day with my sister 😀

Have you ever PR’d without planning?

Race Recap – Bad Bass Half Marathon

Race Recap – Bad Bass Half Marathon

Last weekend was the definition of a humble summer getaway. I knew going into this summer that going on an extravagant summer vacation would not be in the cards this year—primarily due to work demands—but I am grateful for being able to have things fall in place so that I was able to have more than one occasion to visit the family.

I thought my weekend in June would be my only opportunity this summer, but thankfully, things worked out so that another weekend trip would be possible!

True, I still had to work on Wednesday, and was up at the early morning hour of 4AM in order to pack and get all of my critical, time-sensitive tasks done, but at least two things made my day.

#1 was having B&J’s Cherry Garcia Frozen Yogurt for “breakfast”, and realizing that I ended up satisfying a hidden cherry craving I didn’t know I had until I demolished the pint in 20 minutes.

cherry garcia froyo
It may be froyo, but the cherries were still soft, and surprisingly not rock-solid from the frozen conditions they were mixed in!

#2 was taking in this gorgeous sunset during my evening/night bus trip up north. We were at a rest stop around 8pm, and I couldn’t help but admire the sky and its golden beauty…

Reststop Sunset
Summer sunsets <3

I made it to Oakland around midnight, and was picked up by my Dad. We were both too tired to keep a cohesive conversation going, but we made it home safely and I promptly hit the hay.

Since my parents are in the middle of a move, the next two days were spent primarily at home, since we had to be available when the painters, contractors, and realtor were around. Besides going out for a run, or going to the gym with Dad, I spent those 48 hours either eating, napping, or watching TV. The life I tell ya…

I did find some time to make it out to my favorite discount grocery store though, and was able to find this somewhat rare flavor from B&J’s Greek line…

raspberry fudge chunk (1)
Wasn’t a true fan of this flavor, but I’m glad I got to try it.

I call it rare since I haven’t been able to find it in the LA area anyways! Plus, it says “Still a Pint!” along the lid, so I’m assuming that there must have been some confusion about this flavor not existing anymore…

Well, I certainly wasn’t confused after taking the first couple of spoonfuls. There was definitely a fruity tang with each spoonful (pretty much how a frozen Chobani would taste), but the sweetness from the fudge chunks was just enough to balance out that. It was quite impressive to see how one simple mix-in could do so much to “rescue” a flavor!

I bid my last goodbye to my childhood home on Saturday morning, and my Dad and I drove off towards Lake Chabot to finally run a race together! He has been on a “5K-a-Day” regimen lately, and when he suggested that he we sign up for a race together, I immediately started looking for any and all races that we could do together over the summer.

The Bad Bass 5k/10k/Half Marathon fit our schedules, but it was far from being a simple run in the park. It was where this race that I participated in at the tail end of last year took place, and I remember the hills being extra killer. Even the race organizers call it an ULTRAhalf, and the course is part of their “Ultra Half Challenge”.

It was somewhat chilly when we arrive in the parking lot, but I was able to walk comfortably in my shorts + tee over to the starting area. The weather was much more tolerable when compared to how things were back in December!

1-getting to race
Race start.

Even though the course wasn’t expected to be, packet pick-up was quite easy. I’ve become more appreciative of race day pick-ups and bag checks as of late…

registration
Time for packet pick-up!

My Dad ended up getting a cotton tee while I got a women’s tech tee. I actually don’t remember registering for one, so that was a pleasant surprise!

bad bass shirts
The race shirts were fun :3

After pinning on our bibs and taking care of things in the restroom, I joined other half marathoners at the start line at ten minutes to 8:30AM. For a challenging 13.1 miles on trail, I was part of quite a large group.

We were sent off with the sound of bag pipes floating behind us, keeping in theme with the race around Loch Chabot.

bag pipes
Bag pipes!

The first half of the race posed a challenge right off the bat. A little after Mile 2, before Mile 3, we approached our steepest, most difficult climb yet. It didn’t make sense to run up the tower of a hill, so I ended up interrupting my stride and slowing to a steady fast-walk.

The whole course was an ebb and flow of ups and downs. Some people let the downhills get the best of them, and I saw plenty of flailing arms and wobbling bodies’ race past me from time-to-time. I did not get any severe knee pains (knock on wood!) while hitting the downhills, and I focused on channeling the momentum from those downhills to power me through the immediate uphills.

There were times we had to run single file, and towards the second half of the race, it was pretty isolated and we were deep in the heart of the woods…like, the trees were so tall you couldn’t see the sun deep…

We also got to take in the most breathtaking views of the lake, and I was so mesmerized that I ended up falling, and scraping my elbow/palms of my hands.

PARK and lake
Park near the lake.

The injuries were minor, but I was fortunate to be near a half marathon hiker who had band-aids and wipes galore. She and another runner were sweet enough to stop and check to see if I was okay, and this small moment only emphasized the fact that we runners are part of such a gracious, giving, and kind community.

I finished my first trail half with a time that was plenty far from my true half PR, but at least I finished with what counts—sore legs, and battle scars. Yeah, the medals were fun to receive and wear after the race, but feeling the aftermath of an extreme workout is what I think is the true medal of honor.

medals
Got the race medal, as well as an age group winner medal!

My Dad’s 5k started at 9:10AM, so even though he took about an hour to complete it (it was a trail 5k after all), he was still at the finish line waiting for me! It was so great to see him and his medal at the end 🙂

After grabbing our goody bags, it was obviously snack time.

SNACKZZZZ
It’s snack time kidsssss!

I passed all the pretzels/cookies/cakes/brownies in favor for the token ice cream sandwiches that associate with Brazen Racing races. I ended up getting strawberry + pumpkin, and fully enjoyed them after finally washing off the dust that had caked my hands and legs since Mile 10…

ice cream sandwiches
Strawberry & Pumpkin — the way to go!

My Dad and I found a bench to rest at while we ate, and soon after, we got up to check the results.

checking restultz
Results checkin’ time!

After spending some more time walking around and giving our muscles time to bounce back from the run, we got back in the car and drove towards Berkeley before stopping by my cousin’s place. I was able to change into some “regular” clothes at a grocery store where we also bought some fruit to share with our host.

Upon arriving at my cousin’s place, I had an extreme feeling of exhaustion overwhelm me, and I couldn’t say no to a sweet nap. After napping for almost an hour, we all had coffee, cheese, and other “afternoon slump” snacks. We heard meowing from below, and I found a mother cat and her two kittens staring up at us on the balcony!

cats & snacks
Feline cuties and afternoon snackables.

My cousin’s friends came over soon after, and we all agreed to go play table tennis at the last minute, since it seemed like a fun thing to do on a Saturday evening. Even though I played regular tennis in high school, TT is a whole ‘nother ball game, literally. I didn’t sweat, but I was certainly warm enough to not need a sweatshirt when we walked back to my cousin’s apartment.

We had dinner + a movie at home, with my cousin having prepared lentil daal, a rice/quinoa mix, sauteed garlic and pea pods, strawberries, and yogurt.

dinnah!
Dinner part 1.

Our movie that night was Queen, a fairly recent Bollywood hit, and despite there being some cheesy parts, was actually quite good.

We all went to sleep soon after since it was approaching 11PM—and I had a bus to catch the next morning!

The ride home took most of my Sunday, but I was back in my apartment while there was still daylight. After unpacking and showering, I sat down with this delectable pint of fudge brownie ice cream before sleeping away a lingering headache I carried with me from the bus ride.

cho-fud-brow
I could handle the 100% B&J’s chocolate base if it meant copious amounts of Greyston Bakery fudgy brownie chunks! They are way too good to turn down!!

There was certainly a lot of fun that went down over just 72 hours…it’s amazing how much stuff can be packed into what seems like so little time!

Have you ever run a trail race?

Do you get headaches while traveling?

The 10 x 10 Challenge

The 10 x 10 Challenge

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

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

–◊–

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

 Discount mulberries!
Discount mulberries!

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

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

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

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

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

D2 - RVC
Oh yes!

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

D2 - RVC (1)
Pink ice cream 🙂

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

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

D3
Hangin’ in Beverly Hills

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

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

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

D3 - BA
Blondie Ambition

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

blondieambition
Blondies and Toffee <3

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

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

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

D4 - ChuMon
Chunky Monkey

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

D4 - ChuMon (1)
Friday Night Pint!

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

D4 - ChuMon (2)
Walnuts, chocolate chunks…

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

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

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

D5 - BCP
Boston Cream Pie—frozen!

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

bcp
Couldn’t wait to dig in!

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

D6
5K Sunday!

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

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

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

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

D7
Do I have to wash the dishes??

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

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

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

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

d9
Karamel Sutra Core

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

d9 (3)
Icicle surface, but still got a lot of creaminess left.

Another ice cream pint, another cause for roommate envy 😉

d9 (1)
CARAMEL…..

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

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

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

–◊–

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

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

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