Running Break

Running Break

Last weekend, I was feeling a little anxious and glum about having to hold off on running for a week or two due to shin splints. I was trying to figure out what I could do for cross-training, and also realized that some strength training would have to be squeezed in too, even though I haven’t done any focused weight training in months

I contemplated all of this over lunch this past Saturday at Grilliant. I had to stop in lab earlier that day, and by the time I was done, I didn’t feel like venturing out too far just for lunch. #DecemberFeels

Grilliant, Culver City
Grilliant, Culver City

I had been wanting to check out Grilliant for a while now though. I mean, it boasted Mediterranean cuisine as the theme of its menu, so how could I resist?

Portabello Wrap with Eggplant Mirza
Portabello Wrap with Eggplant Mirza

I wound up getting a portabello (veggie) flatbread wrap with some eggplant mirza on the side (it was the closest thing to babaganoush, so that’s why I went for it). An unexpected serving of tzatziki and a sweet & lemony tomato sauce side came along with it. 

Up close!
Up close!

I thought the portabello pieces were slightly overcooked, but everything together made for a well-balanced and nourishing meal. 

I also stopped at Sprouts before heading home, and picked up a seasonal almond butter flavor that was much cheaper than the chocolate peanut butter I usually get, haha!

Sprouts Gingerbread Spice Almond Butter
Sprouts Gingerbread Spice Almond Butter

It definitely had a spicy kick to it, but the oil-to-almond butter ratio was pretty proportionate. It was only when I got to the bottom 0.5 inch of the jar did it start to get grainy.

On Tuesday, I woke up early enough to set aside ~2 hours to go on a 6 mile walk for active recovery. Since I’m always complaining about how Abbot Kinney is so hard to get to via public transit, I designed my walking route to include a stop at Blue Bottle Coffee at my turn-around point.

Blue Bottle Coffee
Blue Bottle Coffee

Upon entering, I could definitely sense the pretentious coffee shop vibe. The baristas were nice and helped me to pick out what they thought was a good hot coffee blend, but I felt slightly out of place even though I was wearing my stretchy Nike running capris like most athletic wear, clothing-wearing Los Angelenos, haha.

Walking back.
Walking back.

I got the “Three Africas” coffee as per their recommendation, which was described as a blend of “the radiant fruit of two coffees from Ethiopia, one washed and one natural, with the balance and authority of a washed coffee from Uganda“. I wasn’t a fan though…even after adding some cream and brown sugar, the lemon zest was slightly off-putting.

At least I had a crispy, double chocolate cookie with a hint of ginger as a back-up treat?

Yum, breakfast cookie!
Yum, breakfast cookie!

The walk was earlier in the week, so I still felt some soreness in my shins. I do think they are getting better though, at least I hope so. Since then, I’ve been cross-training with the eliptical and doing some light weight training for muscle groups I often neglect when plain running. I never thought I’d find the monotony of a still gym a refreshing break from running, and despite feeling DOMS in every muscle group except my calves right now, I found that being in the gym may be what just I needed for my mental sanity too!

Do you find it difficult to cross-train for a sport/exercise activity you predominantly do?

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

Self-Care

Self-Care

I would say that over the past six months or so, I’ve been trying to solve an enigma that is, my hormones. Women’s hormones—no, they are not “TMI”, and they shouldn’t be. If I had to pick one thing that gets on my nerves , it’s when people follow women’s health/period talk with a TMI disclaimer. Way to normalize a totally natural thing, amiright? πŸ™„

I’ve noticed in this time that at least 1.5-2 weeks before my monthly cycle, I’d get really bad fatigue (like, getting up after 7am was a struggle—and I’m an early bird) and breast soreness. But when I noticed that it deeply effected my running efforts, I wondered if there was a connection. As soon as my cycle began and for two weeks after, running at “faster” paces with an proportionate amount of effort seemed easier to do. But it was a different story afterwards… 
 
My “two weeks of hell” for this particular month began the week I returned from Tulsa, and seemed to subside by this past weekend. Oh, but the onset of the first week was an extreme compared to past experiences. 
 
It began with breast soreness and fatigue, as expected. But then it was mood swings…I started to feel randomly sad and depressed throughout the day, and easily frustrated by little things. All of this combined was the perfect way for me to be set-off by even the smallest of triggers…triggers that I’d be able to brush off on a “normal” day. 
 
And of course, I was in tears by the time Friday of that week rolled around. There was a conflict at work and I felt I was unfairly scolded to for something that had no basis in argument. Thankfully I had E to vent to, but I just felt ridiculously mad and was dropping F-bombs like nobody’s business. Like I said, I was mad, and I felt like my feelings needed to be released. 
 
I did sleep on it, and did my best to let my feelings play out. I did my best to treat myself to the best self-care as possible. 
 
Lunch date with the sis <3
Lunch date with the sis <3
 
This included lots of rest, thinking in solitude, and a refreshing lunch out with my sister and a movie that Sunday. We went to see Coco, and had lunch at the Tender Greens in Westfield Century City. 
 
Seasonal specials
Seasonal specials
 
It was my third time visiting a Tender Greens location, and my second time getting the Falafel Plate. The first time I had the Falafel Plate was when my plate included a side kale salad (with garlic dressing + parmesan), a green dollop of hummus that looked like guacamole, tahini sauce, and a crisp crostini bread.
 
Sister's plate on the left & mine on the right
Sister’s plate on the left & mine on the right
 
This occasion’s plate was quite different, but delicious nonetheless.
 
Um, hello there.
Um, hello there.
 
Seasoned veggies, butter lettuce , and a thin, lavash-like flatbread were included. The falafel has a nice crisp exterior, and a gorgeous green hue on the inside. The definition of a perfect falafel. 
 
Also took in some rooftop night views---I love looking over cityscapes at night :)
Also took in some rooftop night views—I love looking over city-scapes at night πŸ™‚
 
But even with that incident now a part of the past, and having a pleasant weekend with the sis to help de-stress, I still was experiencing those PMS-like symptoms, but even stronger. In addition to the fatigue and soreness, I felt a mild loss of appetite, strong headaches that lingered throughout the day, and a cloud of un-motivation hovering over me as the following week came up. I cut down on my running mileage that week as well, due to feeling unmotivated and because shin splints were popping up again for me. Ugh, would it ever stop? 
 
After hearing me complain for days, my Dad suggested I address some potential vitamin deficiencies. He suggested I try taking a Vitamins B-12 supplement, and see if that put my energy levels back into balance. There was also the idea that Vitamin D could be something I may need to address as well, due to the demands of running and it being winter / less sunlight exposure and all. 
 
No running means waking up early anyways and heading off to lab as soon as I get up...and coming across squirrels plotting revenge...
No running means waking up early anyways and heading off to lab as soon as I get up…and coming across squirrels plotting revenge…
 
I started taking a supplement on Friday, and decided to take the weekend off from running to rest up. Saturday and Sunday were pretty relaxing, and I even went out for lunch with E at a new place at the USC Village—-Trejo’s Tacos!
 
Fresh all around
Fresh all around

I got the Cauliflower Bowl, and E got some chips and guac along with a cheese quesadilla and pink lemonade. My bowl was packed with beans, seasoned rice (almost as if it was doused in a spicy ketchup sauce?? But it tasted good…), fresh greens, pico, corn, and a cream sauce.

A feast!!!
A feast!!!

I even treated myself when I got home later in the day—to a seasonal flavor of Halo Top, Gingerbread House.

"I I had high hopes for @halotopcreamery Gingerbread House...but it had such a strong cinnamon flavor for me, and I wish the cookie pieces had a little more crunch to them πŸ˜•"
I had high hopes for @halotopcreamery Gingerbread House…but it had such a strong cinnamon flavor for me, and I wish the cookie pieces had a little more crunch to them πŸ˜•

It wasn’t a favorite of mine, but it was alright for a quick Saturday night dessert πŸ™‚

β™₯

This month so far has been a hectic and exhausting one for sure, but I’m glad that I’ve been quick to act and put my self-care first.

I’m hoping 2017 will end on a sweet and peacful note. Even though I won’t be around family, I’m hoping to spend some days with E sans work before she leaves, as well as planning to carpool with one of my friends to see my friend who lives in Vegas for New Year’s Eve. At least there are some exciting things coming up to keep me motivated πŸ™‚

Are you aware of when you need self-care?

Race Recap – Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Halloween Half Marathon

Race Recap – Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Halloween Half Marathon

The last time I ran the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in LA was three years ago, when I had just moved to LA. I was excited to have it be my first run in my new home, and a half marathon at that. It was before my marathon racing days…my how time flies, haha.

Making my rounds at the expo like a pro :P
Making my rounds at the expo like a pro πŸ˜›

But with time, I’ve also become more jaded with the whole expo/lead-up to race day. It’s like everything is such a routine, with nothing new to expect…to be honest, going to expos for packet pick-up seems more like a chore for me now than an exciting thing to do. I even got in a long run before stepping into this expo because of my marathon training schedule. This race was just another opportunity to run and get some miles in while continuing on my Route 66 Marathon journey—which happens to be in less than two days upon publishing this post!!

Needless to say, I was in and out of the convention center within a half hour. I made plans to spend the rest of the day with E back in my neighborhood. We met up near Venice and Figueroa, and hopped on a bus to take us to Abbot Kinney.

The Tasting Kitchen, Venice
The Tasting Kitchen, Venice

We made our way through the crowds of tourists and Lululemon-wearing locals to get to The Tasting Kitchen, where we came across even more crowds of pretentious folk socializing over brunch. Would our grad student salaries get us much here? LOL!

We were eventually seated near the back, in the middle of two other groups: one couple and to our left, another pair of friends.

The menu was tricky to figure out. When our waiter came by, I just ended up asking what were the vegetarian options on their menu, since I couldn’t figure it out. He recommended the burrata dish, so I just agreed to get that, along with a plain biscuit. E got a sandwich that had a really long description and name, as well as a cream cheese and chive biscuit.

Our waiter walked away in a jiffy as soon as he got our orders, but came back pretty quickly to notify E of some unfortunate news: they had run out of cream cheese and chive biscuits. E was just like…”uhh, can I just get a plain biscuit?” and the “problem” was solved? Haha, at least the waiter offered to comp her biscuit.

Burrata with butternut squash, chopped hazelnuts, balsamic sauce
Burrata with butternut squash, chopped hazelnuts, balsamic sauce

When our orders came, I justified the price I was paying for the meal with the fact that the presentation was perfectly on point. Roasted butternut squash slices topped with bubbly burrata and chopped hazelnuts, coated with a balsamic sauce. Was I really in Venice, or some upscale restaurant in New York owned by a chef fresh from taping a series of Top Chef?

The biscuit was super flaky and he flavor was quite enhanced by the butter and salt. A great vehicle for mopping up the leftover balsamic sauce.

Buttery, flaky biscuit
Buttery, flaky biscuit

After lunch, we tried to forget how much money E and I spent on a mid-day meal and walked into a few shops along Abbot Kinney. We then walked towards the Venice Canals, and then ended up at the beach. We ended up walking a TON but the walk was made eventful with a bunch of gossiping and laughing. My legs were shot, but I was able to get home by 4 and spent the rest of the evening rolling out my legs and resting as much as possible before race day.

Fun day by the water <3
Fun day by the water <3

The next morning, I woke up around 4am. I had a couple minutes to roll out my muscles more, and wore some knee-highs to help with some form of compression (even if it was a placebo effect, it seemed to work, haha). I also remembered to take some ibuprofen the night before, and that seemed to help attenuate the soreness from yesterday’s events.

Got a free KT Taping at the expo which seemed to help! Also rolled out my calves and wore some knee high socks to the race :)
Got a free KT Taping at the expo which seemed to help! Also rolled out my calves and wore some knee high socks to the race πŸ™‚

I didn’t have to spend money on a ride share service (yes!) since the Metro conveniently had trains running early Sunday morning with a stop close to the race start. I soon learned that other runners had the same idea when I saw them begin to board as we got closer and closer to DTLA.

As soon as I got to the start, I walked straight over to bag check, and luckily found some free snack bars to munch on as pre-race fuel. I also tried to keep warm by one of the heat lamps that a local restaurant in LA Live had set out, and waited until it was time to find my place at the start.

Morning, pre-race
Morning, pre-race

13.1 miles. It’s PR time…let’s do this!

When we were set to take off, I was able to gauge my pace so that I didn’t start off too fast unlike how I paced myself in the beginning at the Dodger’s 10k. I think I was a little ahead of the 1:45 pacer, but the pack eventually caught up to me at around mile 2.5. I stuck close to him, even though O felt like I was putting in a slightly harder effort for so early in the race.

Still, I felt good, my legs still felt fresh, and my shins were fine. Unfortunately, I began to lag at around mile 6, when we hit a steep hill in downtown approaching Koreatown. At that point, I was like, okay, I’ll just be a few minutes off, but maybe I can still PR.

I was able to keep my pace within 8:15-8:20/mi, even with water breaks. There were a ton of rolling hills between DTLA and Koreatown, all along Wilshire. At first, the hills seemed intimidating and never-ending—even though I was well-accustomed to the area and they weren’t really a surprise—but I felt strong overall and I was able to attack the upcoming hills with a newfound energy.

Race Finish!
Race Finish!

I was able to speed up towards the finish, and it seemed like my fatigue happily vanished. I finished the (technically) 13.3 mi course at a pace of 8:18/mi. Even though this course seemed less painful than the one I ran three years ago, I wouldn’t call this year’s course a fantastic change. I still prefer it to the one I ran in the past though.

The weather conditions were perfect: not too hot, not too cold. Transportation was easy to manage, the race loot was decent, and the medal had a snazzy design.

Race medal and shirt
Race medal and shirt

I didn’t PR, but I was happy with my outcome given the shin and calf soreness I was feeling leading up to the race. I also saw it as a great warm-up/race condition-simulating run for marathon prep. We’ll see how much it functioned as the latter come marathon race day this Sunday!

The Tasting Kitchen 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

Race Recap – 30th Rock β€˜n’ Roll San DiegoΒ Marathon

Race Recap – 30th Rock β€˜n’ Roll San DiegoΒ Marathon

On June 4th, just a few days after returning from our Europe trip, I ran my fourth marathon in San Diego. I was breaking my “just running LA” streak with this race, and it was also just about two months after I ran LA this year.

I woke up around 4am and had enough time to put on my race gear, and call for an Uber right outside where my sister and I were staying for our Airbnb. Since I called for one early enough, there wasn’t any issue with traffic so it was an easy drive to the race start at Balboa Park.

From where I was dropped off, I followed other runners to the exact location of bag check, restrooms, and the starting line. At that moment, I realized I made the mistake of forgetting my race belt…so I had to improvise πŸ˜›

Sometimes you have to improvise...
Sometimes you have to improvise…

I literally pinned a ziploc bag to the side of my shirt and stuffed my Clif Shot Bloks and some freebie bars from the expo into it, and it actually managed to hold up for the entire race, haha!

The race start was at 6am, so I had some time to kill. I took my stretching, and after checking in my bag, found my spot at the start line. I was shooting for a 3:40 (around 8:23/mi pace) based on how my training the past two months had fared, and after talking with my coach the day before, we thought it was a reasonable and good goal to shoot for. Luckily they had pacers, and I made sure to stay glued to mine.

The first few miles leaving Balboa Park and through North Park seemed to be alright. I felt like the pace was sustainable, I felt properly fueled, and I tried to only drink to thirst. As we made our way through Normal Heights, I felt like I was transported back to the Silver Lake/Hollywood portion of the LA Marathon. There was a good crowd turn-out throughout this section of the race, but I managed to stay focused and stay within a few steps behind my pacer, so I mostly tuned out what was occurring in my surroundings.

I started fueling with one shot blok around mile 5, and the plan was to refuel every 5 miles. Miles 10-13 felt slightly harder to push through since I started to have an unsettling feeling in my stomach. Just after approaching Old Town, I had to stop and use the first porta-potty that I saw. I never had to stop mid-race (at least for a half or full marathon) to use the restroom, so I was slightly anxious about how it would cut into my time. Unfortunately, I knew a 3:40 would not be possible this time around since my group was already way ahead by the time I was back on the course. I did try to speed up around mile 15 as we made our way to Mission Bay, but it didn’t help much.

It was disappointing knowing that I wouldn’t make my goal time for this race, as well as having to finish without external support. And honestly from that point on, it seemed like the course got much more difficult. There were hills, less crowds, and a mundane, mind-numbing stretch of the last portion of the race on Highway 163. I was certainly having my doubts about making sure I was sub 4:00 at this point, let alone finishing. I began feeling an intense sense of fatigue around mile 18 that pressed on until about mile 24.

I managed to recover and pick up my pace once we were back on city streets, and wrapping around Balboa Park again. It was kind of funny because the last few yards of the finish made me remember of a weekend trip my sister and I took to San Diego a little under two years ago. On the way back to where my sister was picking me up, I even passed the hotel we stayed at!

After passing under the finish line arch, we were handed water bottles and our finisher medals. I was disappointed by the fact that no mylar blankets were being handed out, and I honestly felt like I needed one. I felt slightly cold, shaky, mild nausea, and every step I took felt like I was carrying a 1,000 pound load on my back and my muscles were taking the beating. It was my first time feeling such intense fatigue after a race…my past races usually brought on powerful soreness the day after, but I usually felt okay immediately after a race.

Fancy-looking medal but what's the point if you're shivering?
Fancy-looking medal but what’s the point if you’re shivering?

They did give free jackets to the marathon runners though. Many of the half marathoners were confused/upset as to why they couldn’t get one, and while I could see that they felt left out, I would have been perfectly content is they gave everyone mylar blankets at the end. That should be a mandatory requirement at marathons!

I wanted to sit down but every part of my body ached. Ugh, probably the worst I've ever felt after a race...
I wanted to sit down but every part of my body ached. Ugh, probably the worst I’ve ever felt after a race…

After making my way over to where my sister was parked, we planned to get lunch somewhere in SD, but since the race closures were still active, it was hard to navigate without coming across a roadblock. So we ended up driving north to Santa Ana, after I thought about some possible restaurants I’ve been wanting to visit in the OC. GD Bro Burger was one of them, it was open, and crowds were not to be seen.

GD Bro Burger
GD Bro Burger

The wall decor and signage was very interesting—very much in tune with current pop culture and popular slang. And you can’t have burgers without sports playing on a TV hanging from the wall, so that was obviously there as well, haha.

My sister got herself their vegan burger, but it didn’t come with their classic hot red-colored bun. Rather, it was a stiff gluten-free bun that my sister had to resist from spitting out. She did like her two crispy mozzarella sticks though.

herd
“A not-so-delicious veggie burger”

I got the pizza fries sans pepperoni, and man, did they not skimp on the cheese.

_pizza_fries
All the cheese, some marinara, and very skinny fries.

I reached my dairy quota for the month from that tray alone.

When we got back home, my sister and I quickly got into couch potato mode. I slept earlier because the next day would be my first day back to work after two weeks of vacation. Surprisingly, I felt minimal fatigue and soreness the next day…it was as if I never ran the day before! It was very bizarre cause I thought I would be limping around with DOMS, but I was walking just fine. I guess the training I had in the past two months really impacted my endurance and muscle recovery.

I think I’ll be passing on this race in the future though. The course wasn’t as exciting as LA’s, and the experiences I had during the race didn’t leave me feeling my best. BUT, I did still maintain a sub-4:00 pace, and I came out injury-free! That’s something worth celebrating πŸ™‚

Have you ever had to do anything physically strenuous right after traveling/when you were feeling jet-lagged?

GD Bro Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saucony Women’s Cohesion 9 Running Shoes

Saucony Women’s Cohesion 9 Running Shoes

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

shoes (7)
600+ miles

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

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

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

shoes (3)
Hello new shoes!

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

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

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

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

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

shoes (4)
Fresh feet.

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

shoes (1)
Ready to run

How much would you spend on running/workout shoes?

Active But Lazy…

Active But Lazy…

In the days leading up to this weekend, I was making plans and shuffling things around for work, thinking I actually would have the energy to go out and do things on a day I was running 18 miles with my marathon team…

I’ve done it before, so I didn’t think I would be as tired as I was Sunday at 12pm, but I was falling asleep in the car I was getting a ride in…so that must have indicated something!

Speaking of marathon team, things have been going great training-wise. In fact, we ran one of our classic routes yesterday in Palos Verdes, and I even wrote about the experience two years ago, haha. Even with the challenging hills and after-burn in my thighs, I really cut down on my course time—by at least 1.5 minutes/mile! Hopefully this is a sign that I’ll be PRing in my third marathon come March…

This has to be my favorite sweatshirt that I own. My sister got it for me over the holidays, and I just love how soft it is, and of course the title labeled on the front ;)
This has to be my favorite sweatshirt that I own. My sister got it for me over the holidays, and I just love how soft it is, and of course the title labeled on the front πŸ˜‰

After Sunday’s run, the idea of showering + sleeping sounded more enticing than getting on a bus and checking out a new restaurant. If I plan things better for next weekend, perhaps I can make it happen. I do miss using my weekends to go out exploring!

I did at least try some new food products this week. Devotion Nutrition sent me over some protein powders and “Flex Flavorings” packets to try.

devotion_nutrition
Samples from Devotion Nutrition

I was able to get some samples for the Angel Food Cake and Brownie Batter protein powders and found both flavors to have an appealing scent, no icky after-taste, and a texture that allows for easy mixing in liquids or yogurt.

nutrition and flex flavors
Angel Food Cake & Brownie Batter protein powders // Flex Flavorings

I’ve literally been having these as yogurt-thickeners and just mixed with water for “faux pudding”.

devotion_nutrition_angelfoodcake
A hefty packet of protein that contains a smooth powder for easy mixing!

I prefer them as “yogurt enhancers”, but they really are good on their own too.

brownie batter in yogurt
Extremely thick brownie batter yogurt—yum!
faux_pudding
“Faux pudding” – literally just added enough water to keep a thick consistency. Pulls apart like pudding!

I used some Flex Flavorings to add some flavor to some Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream Greek Whole Milk Yogurt. And then topped it with a full amount of cookie butter πŸ˜‰

yogurt-cookiebutter-flexpowders
Monkey Bread and Coconut Biscotti flavors!

Keeping up with the theme, I added the flavorings to yogurt and topped some of it on a Lenny & Larry’s birthday cake cookie and a FitJoy birthday cake bar.

The makings of an exciting, birthday-themed dessert bowl...
The makings of an exciting, birthday-themed dessert bowl…
Ended up nuking the birthday cake @lennyandlarrys cookie and the birthday cake @fitjoynutrition bar (probably my only, and number one favorite of this brand!), while flavoring some Trader Joe's whole milk coconut Greek yogurt with @devotionnutrition Flex Flavor powders (Birthday Cake and Italian Cookie). What a way to conclude the end of January 2017 πŸ˜‰πŸ°πŸŽ‚πŸ°πŸŽ‚!!!
Ended up nuking the birthday cake @lennyandlarrys cookie and the birthday cake @fitjoynutrition bar (probably my only, and number one favorite of this brand!), while flavoring some Trader Joe’s whole milk coconut Greek yogurt with @devotionnutrition Flex Flavor powders (Birthday Cake and Italian Cookie). What a way to conclude the end of January 2017 πŸ˜‰πŸ°πŸŽ‚πŸ°πŸŽ‚!!!

I also tried two flavors of the new Optimum Nutrition Cake Bites: Chocolate Dipped Cherry and Red Velvet Cake. I bought them at Vitamin Shoppe, and then munched on these while walking to get errands done.

optimumnutritioncakebites_redvelvetcake
These red velvet cake bites weren’t too bad! Honestly I expected the “cake” filling to be more moist and fluffy (as would be expected of a cake), but it was more like a chewy, melt-in-your-mouth texture. In other words, these bites are just circular protein bars: definitely not petit fours status, but good nonetheless.

You know those cherry cordials? These cake bites were reminiscent of that. I particularly wasn’t a fan of this flavor (I think it was the dark chocolate…), but they did have the same soft, chewy texture as the Red Velvet bites.

optimumnutritioncakebites_chocolatedippedcherry
18 miles of running πŸƒin Palos Verdes and my thighs are fried πŸ—πŸ”₯ (thank you, hills! πŸ˜’), and I kind of wished I saved these chocolate dipped cherry cake bites from yesterday to snack on now, as I lay in bed for the rest of the day…haha, I’m SO not getting any work done today πŸ˜‚

I am thankful for the fact that I don’t have to worry about midterms or finals or any of that undergrad/early grad school stuff, haha! There were some people on my team who were dreading the fact they had to go home and study despite running 18 miles/it being Superbowl Sunday.

Do you put sleep above everything else?

Race Recap – Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run 2016

Race Recap – Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run 2016

My last race for this year was one I actually ran two years ago—this time fortunately fared much better in pacing! I also did not have to wake up early in order to have enough time to take a bus or train to get to the race start. I just had to wake up, go out for a “warm-up jog”, and within a half hour I was there!

start
Santa all smiles at the race start.

There was no bag check (of course), so there was no place to keep my race shirt, even though I wanted to keep it because it was a long-sleeve and actually pretty cute! The 10k and 5k race starts were staggered so that the 10k race started at 8am. The 5kers had a head start at 7:30am, and so the majority of the runners from that race were done by the time we started.

Santa cheered us on as we dashed across the starting line. I was able to keep a steady pace between 7:40-8:20 throughout the entire run. At first it felt my lungs were burning from the cold air, and my feet also began to feel numb through my socks, but after ~2 miles in, it began to feel easier to stick to a faster pace the rest of the run.

at-the-end-of-the-race
Bunch of people wondering what to do after the race has finished…and the DJ rockin’ out to his own jamz.

I finished at an average pace of 8:12/mi, and it felt so refreshing! I managed to guzzle down a half a bottle of water, and proceeded to walk by the small number of booths that were present. I also couldn’t help but notice the DJ who was there—he was very much into the music!

finish
Yay…okay, now I’m bored…

I couldn’t find much in terms of samples and post-race freebies…I even had to pass on some intriguing-looking marshmallows because they contained gelatin πŸ™

couldnt-have-these-tho
Why is there gelatin in you?!

Since there was nothing much left for me at this point, I ended up walking from the finish point in Venice back to Santa Monica…really it was only a 25 minute walk, and from the beach, it was another 30 minute walk to lunch.

I actually ended up at a Medditeranean/Lebanese restaurant on Pico—Z Garden.

z-garden
I see you…

When I stepped inside, it was as if I stepped inside my best friend’s family’s house. There was a TV playing Arabic music videos and a whole glass counter full of baklava and other Middle Eastern sweet treats.

house
Such ample seating!

There was a handful of vegetarian items on the menu, and I decided to get the veggie kebab plate.

The dining area was in a expansive space, but I was their lone diner at the time. A few people came in for take-out orders while I was there though.

My plate came with a generous portion of Lebanese rice, a side salad, smooth, finely-ground hummus, a sour cheese I’m assuming was labne, pickled radishes, and of course my roasted veggies.

vegkebab-plate
Veggie Kebab Plate—-fit for a vegetarian ready to feast!

ALso had to have pita bread on the side!

pitaaaaaaaaa
Can’t forget the pita!

I was the ultimate fan of this hummus…and cheese side.

sidez
Hummus (and labne)?

I was finished by noon, and continued my walk home. I immediately did some laundry and organizing before crashing into a two-hour long nap. I didn’t leave the house until later that evening to visit a friend, since she’s moving from LA this week with her lab to a different university. It was bittersweet having to send her off, but I have to say I’m proud of myself for going out on a Saturday night for once. I even stayed out late enough to call for an Uber back home, haha.

pace
In good time πŸ™‚

Are you a fan of holiday-themed events?

Z Garden Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap – South Pasadena Tiger Run 5k/10k

Race Recap – South Pasadena Tiger Run 5k/10k

I cannot believe I am actually saying this…but pretty much since after Thanksgiving weekend, it has been FREEZING here in LA. Now, freezing by definition here means anything below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so it doesn’t take more than a cooler-than-usual wind chill to cause misery.

Last Saturday, I made my way over to South Pasadena to participate in a 5k race I signed up for by “accident”. I intended to register for the 10k, but somehow during the registration process, I ended up enrolling in the 5k! I didn’t regret that choice however, since I’ve been wanting to PR in the distance at a race for a couple months now…at least since my last 5k race in Owasso back in August.

south-pasadena-high-school
My arms were numb at this point…

I was NOT prepared for the bone-chilling cold that kept me frozen on my way to So Pas. I had a long sleeve base and put a t-shirt on top to keep warm, but I still had to cross my arms in order to not feel cold (even if it was a placebo effect).

Fortunately, I made it to the high school where the race was taking place, and immediately found warmth in the school’s cafeteria, where packet pick-up was also being held.

packet-pickup
Packet pick-up inside a warm, insulated building (:

Ofcourse like every race I’ve attended as of late, there was NO BAG CHECK. UGH!

I loaded up my belt as much as I could, and put everything else that wouldn’t fit (i.e. the race long sleeve shirt) into a drawstring bag that I then tied so tightly around my chest that it looked like a bra (lol…).

shirt
I’ve been needing more long sleeves…

In the time remaining until the race start, I stretched, used the restroom, and even did a warm-up around the track to feel like a “professional runner” and all.

For it being a local race, it had a pretty big turn-out. There were a lot of runners—especially those who were confident enough to toe the very front of the line. I kept it modest and didn’t stand too far in front, but I did stand within the front of the pack in hopes of finding someone I could pace with and hit a PR as a result.

They did a poor job with the send-off, since none of us even heard an alarm or someone signal us to go. I dashed as soon as the person in front of me jerked forward, and even though I had warmed up, I feared that I had pulled a muscle because I had started so abruptly.

Despite starting so fast, I held myself together and kept a consistent pace that did slow down as time went on, but still averaged at a 7:37/mi by the end of it.

The air was so cold that my lungs burned with each breath. In the past, I would have dreaded this immensely and would have found the situation to be unbearable. In this race however, I actually felt invigorated by it. I didn’t even mind a hill that came up around half way…before I knew it, I could see the finish line on the track in the distance.

I slowed my stride as I passed the finish and gulped down the first water bottle in sight. I stuck around to see if I had placed in my age group, despite there not being any good booths or post-race freebies. Most of the booths were fundraising-based booths for South Pasadena High School. Don’t expect me to bring money if you don’t offer bag check! 

booths
So many booths, no cash. The seaweed was free though.

An hour after my finish, they announced race awards. I learned that I did place, and I received a medal that was far from a shabby dollar store trinket.

medal
Yay! A race PR (:

To celebrate the speedy 5k finish, I took the train back one stop to Highland Park, and walked a few blocks down to a very much in-trend bakery shop—Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.

all-butter-everything
All Butter Everything…

It was 10am, and there was already a line. The Highland Park hipsters were already seated, munching and chatting while eating pretty little desserts by the box.

mrholmesbakehouse
“I got baked in Los Angeles”

I was seriously overwhelemed. I had no need to keep my phone photo-taking a secret—I whipped out my phone for all to see and captured every angle…especially of these baby beauties.

donut_cruffin
Gourmet donuts and cruffins!

My eyes immediately landed on the creme-filled donuts. Something about their soft, sugary bread and fruity cream top spoke to me I guess.

cranberry-donut
So classy, yet down-to-earth at the same time 🍩 πŸ’•πŸ’• ✌️

I got a cranberry-filled creme donut and felt like a princess, even though I was still in my running clothes. I thought the creme filling would taste like frosting, but it actually had the texture of greek yogurt? It caught me slightly off guard, but it was still a delicious treat! Because of the random creme filling not really being the creme I expected, I didn’t feel the need to take home a giant box of their treats like I saw others doing. Perhaps one day I’ll come back just to try the cruffin though!

igotbakedinlosangeles_mrholmesbakehouse
Love how the theme is carried over even into the take-out bags! 🍩 πŸ’•πŸ’• ✌️

When I came home, I just had to try another “dessert” even though I was on a slight endorphin/sugar high. Quest Labs released a chocolate chip protein cookie, but the appearance of the chocolate chunks spooked me out, haha!

questproteincookie
Not gonna lie, the new protein “cookie” from Quest Labs kinda spooked me out with all those chocolate chunks. Alien cookie much πŸ‘½ πŸͺ ? Overall, I found it to be thin, slightly doughy, and tasted more like a flattened out Quest CCCD bar. In that regard I guess it tastes alright, but this ain’t Lenny and Larry’s 😏

Overall, I wasn’t amazed by the concept or the outcome of their protein “cookie”. To me, it just looked like a flattened out version of their CCCD protein bar.

I’m waiting for the day a protein donut will come into existence. I’ll be even more shocked if they sell it at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. And you bet I’d be the first one in line if they were giving it away for free at a booth of a race expo πŸ˜‰

Mr Holmes Bakehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap – Hard Rock Cafe 10k 2016

Race Recap – Hard Rock Cafe 10k 2016

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

halo-top-peanut-butter-cup
Over the weekend, I also tried the last Halo Top flavor I needed to try out of the ten new flavors! Caption from Insta —> The day has finally arrived! I tried out the last of the new Halo Top flavors—Peanut Butter Cup! Honestly I was expecting for there to be peanut butter CUP CHUNKS, but there was a hardened peanut butter swirl. In my pint, it was mostly at the bottom, and surprisingly didn’t have much flavor even though it looked like PB. While I did expect this pint to be more fantastic than it actually was, it was not too bad. If you were at the store and this and Oatmeal Cookie were your options, get THIS first!! Haha. πŸ‘‰πŸ½ Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough > Pistachio & Black Cherry & S’mores > Sea Salt Caramel >> Red Velvet & Peanut Butter Cup >> Chocolate Almond Crunch > Cookies and Cream & Oatmeal Cookie. 🍦 And there you have it, my opinion on all the new Halo Top! Now please excuse me while I stock up on all the Cookie Dough pints 😏 .

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

walk
Early morning start!

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

shirt
Race shirt and walking around the start/finish

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

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

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

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

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

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

medal
Ohh shiny medal!

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

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

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