One thing I really wanted after the marathon was something sweet. I probably would have satisfied this craving with a giant cupcake or a pint of ice cream, but I kept thinking about this little place in Sawtelle that has a collection of unique confectionery creations, as well as rotating bread pudding flavors…
My feet were killing me (especially my right foot, which had developed a swollen black toenail and a rosy blister on the heel), but I managed to make my way inside and over to the front.
I decided to get the “Being Good” size for my bread pudding (6oz) and even though it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and they had a Bailey’s-themed bread pudding, I decided to stick with a flavor I’d know I like: Red Velvet.
They put together the pudding within minutes, and at first I couldn’t see any of it because of all the frosting on the top.
The bread pudding was warm, and had the texture of a soft, molten cake, but to be honest I couldn’t detect much flavor. Even the frosting wasn’t too sweet, which was disappointing…but at least it had aesthetics?
And it was enough to help me forget about the pain that was my black toe nail for ~6 minutes 😛 .
What flavor of bread pudding would you want to try?
I didn’t go out of my way to carbo-load the day before the marathon, but I did eat throughout the day, kept hydrated, and stuck to foods I knew wouldn’t throw me off.
I was sent two vouchers for a free bread item and a drink to use at one of 85C Bakery’s newest locations—in Glendale. Since E and I have been hanging outside of lab together more frequently now, I asked if she wanted to make a day out of it, and she happily agreed.
We met in downtown and then took a bus that stops close to the Galleria. From there, it was a short walk to the bakery.
E and I both got trays and walked through the aisles, seeing what lovely little bread creations we’d come across.
I decided to get a cranberry cream cheese yudane roll, while E got a wild mushroom cheese bread loaf.
For my drink, I opted for a hot green milky tea. E ended up going for a cold lemonade. We found seats by the window, and as soon as we had our food and drinks, we settled in.
My cranberry cream cheese yudane roll had a rough texture on the outside, but this was completely opposite of its interior texture. The roll had a sufficient amount of cream cheese and cranberries (though both of these ingredients tended to separate from one another) and was quite chewy. The milky green tea on the other hand was watered down in my opinion. There was a faint taste of tea, but overall, it just tasted (?) like warm water.
After our bread/tea break, we walked over to the Galleria and made a round inside the mall. Both of us did end up buying something to add to our wardrobes, but we didn’t spend too much time shopping.
We soon walked over to the Americana at Brand right next door, and stopped to sit down and hydrate with some water. As it approached 4pm, I felt like it would be wise to head back and rest up for my race the next day, so we made our way to the bus stop for the ride home.
Do you prefer sweet bread items (danishes, sweet rolls) or just go for the 100% sweet stuff (cakes, pies) ?
I find it SO hard to believe that a week ago, I ran my third marathon—and it ended up being a sub 4:00 one as well! So many things went well with this training cycle, and even though the race is over, this particular marathon has given me the encouragement to keep pushing my training to the next level and conquering more goals associated with this distance.
In the days leading up to the race, I actually wasn’t too hyped up for it. I had other things on my mind (lab work + lab “social” life), but I still made time to go down to the expo at the convention center late Friday afternoon on race weekend.
It was really just a routine visit. I wasn’t too excited about sticking around. To keep up with tradition, I found and photographed my name on the runner’s wall, picked up my race bib/shirt, and walked around the booths for just long enough to gather some freebies.
I didn’t gather much despite it being a MARATHON expo (just a couple mini Larabars and a coconut water), but one of my favorite booths was Clif bar’s. They had samples of their newest nut butter-filled bars and ginger ale/spearmint shot bloks!
After taking a picture with my bib at one of the booths, I decided to head home. I was actually feeling pretty hungry so the “carbo-loading”, you could say, commenced that night—with a Spicy Lentil Wrap from Trader Joe’s.
Tahini sauce brings everything up a level, just sayin’.
The day before the race was a relaxing one, but because I was with E in Glendale, we did plenty of walking. I did try to keep hydrated and made sure to get home early enough to set aside my stuff for race morning and get into bed by 8:30pm.
I woke up the next morning at 3:30am (yes, it’s true), got my race gear together, and called for a Lyft since the rest of my teammates were taking a ride share service/staying at a hotel near the start with family. From Santa Monica, the drive was less than 20 min.
I got to the start with a good 2.5 hours to spare before we had to toe the start line. I had plenty of time to collect some free shot bloks and Clif bars, fuel up with “breakfast”, use the restroom, and warm-up. It was still very breezy and cool outside, so I stayed warm by huddling in a corner of one of the open women’s restrooms.
I was waiting solo for a long while…my teammates did not show up until about 5:30am. Even then, it took me a while to find/get to them at the seats on the ground level. There were a a few of us who met at this point, and after a group picture, we immediately went to bag check and then the start.
I decided to start in the open corral with three of my teammates since I wanted to pace with someone from the beginning. Looking back, I feel like this strategy helped me immensely in getting that sub 4:00. It took us a while to get to a sustainable race pace since we were slowed down by the crowds of the open corral, but once we made it past downtown, I kept up with one of my female teammates for the majority of the race.
Everything felt great for the first half of the race. We were running down Sunset and I felt comfortable enough to talk with my teammate at an 8:47/mi pace. Once we made a turn in Hollywood however, things started to shift.
I felt a sharp pain in my right foot as we made our way down a steep downhill. I had a feeling that I got my first black (big) toenail, and despite knowing this, I tried to ignore it for sanity’s sake.
The next slip-up was my fueling strategy. I was so focused on hydration that I wasn’t sure when to start chewing on my bloks. In my last two marathons, I busted out the plastic bag between miles 11-13, but this time, I was more concerned about keeping up with my teammate. I also didn’t feel too hungry (in fact, my stomach felt a little bit “mixed”…in that, a bathroom stop would have been nice).
When we reached Beverly Hills, I began to second guess my earlier actions of not fueling up. I was starting to feel slightly fatigued, and felt like I had to push quite a bit to keep holding on with my teammate. I surprisingly managed to make it through miles 17-20 without giving up or writhing on Rodeo Dr!
Once we reached UCLA/West LA territory though, we were hitting the Mile 20 mark. My teammate took off, but I listened to my body and just kept my pace. I stopped to take out my bloks and began to fuel up at this point.
Once I reached Mile 21, I felt a little bit better. Mile 22 was when we began to approach Brentwood/San Vicente—the last four miles of the race towards the SaMo finish! Honestly, this was the worst part of the race for me (up until 25.5!!) because I felt tired (mentally mostly), and irritated by anyone that said we were “almost there”. My pace wavered in the 8:50/mi range until it settled at 8:55/mi. I didn’t want it to dip into the 9:00/mi range, so I made sure to keep my walking breaks incredibly short.
By the time I got to Ocean Ave., I tried to let the crowds around me give me the final push I needed to finish fiercely. The finish line felt incredibly far away, but once I hit 25.5, I started to kick things up and go, go, go! The shot bloks were finally kicking in I suppose! When I crossed the line, I had run the race at a solid time of 3:53:57. I didn’t know of this time exactly until I read a series of texts from my Dad since he had been tracking me the entire run.
I was able to slow down to a walk, gather a medal and my gear at bag check, huddle up with a heat sheet, and take some fun post-race photos. I also collected as many protein bars as my arms could carry, and met up with my teammates at our designated family reunion area meeting spot.
I waited with my team for about an hour and a half just to congratulate, commiserate, and photograph the moment. The teammate I had ran with up until mile 20 ran a 3:46 marathon, and considering it was her first, she did a great job.
All of us took the train back to our destinations, and I got off pretty quickly. It felt so nice to be able to get back home at a decent time, unlike how it was the past two years fighting traffic to get to downtown! Now I had enough time to attend to my battle scars…
At least this small gem reminded me that I just did something pretty amazing that morning??
Out of all the 26.2 distances I’ve raced, this one was the most painful, but also the most accomplishing. I had a goal, and luckily was able to meet it. It was a challenge, but a challenge worth giving up a smooth heel and big toe nail for. And if I only want to get better and faster at this monstrous distance, it’s only going to get more eventful from here!
Have you ever run a marathon/had a great marathon experience?
I got a good dose of endorphins and happy hormones last Saturday. Actually, the happiness rush began last Thursday evening, when I received a care package from my Dad! He says it’s for passing my quals, but I think he would have been kind enough to send me a little something regardless 😉 . It absolutely made my week and I thanked him for it!
On Saturday, my friend from lab (let’s call her “E”) and I were able to hang out outside of lab again. We had not spent some free time together since our movie outing to see Hidden Figures last month, so a girl’s day was overdue!
We both met in lab (duh) Saturday morning to take care of some things for our experiments. From there, we bused to Koreatown, laptops in hand and with coffee on the mind.
She used to frequent a little, hole-in-the-wall place known as Document Cafe. Based on her previous ventures, she has been insisting that we both go together sometime to have coffee and get some work done, since they have a good environment for working and strong wi-fi.
We finally did so on Saturday, and I was able to prevent her from buying for me ;). She got a simple cappucino (with barista foam art) and I felt adventurous and bought their affogato.
We found seats by the wall, set-up our workspaces, and waited for our caffeinated creations to be completed.
My affogato immediately reminded me of a mini root beer float. It had a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream at the bottom, chicory root coffee throughout the cup, and then another generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream at the top.
I will say that it doesn’t taste good unless you completely immerse the coffee with some of the ice cream, the melted parts. Otherwise the drink tastes too bitter…
We spent about 2 hours at the cafe enjoying our afternoon treats and working on lab-related data analysis/readings. We also chatted while doing so, just so that we made the whole experience a little bit more fun.
After getting our fill of caffeine, we had enough energy to walk to Wilshire/Vermont. It was approaching 4pm, and we figured why not have some froyo before calling it a day?
Yogurtland was just down the way, and I went to town with three different flavors of froyo, poppers, mochi, maraschino cherries, and Whoppers chocolate malt balls.
We gossiped about lab and the crazy antics of our colleagues. It felt so good to be able to vent and laugh with E outside of lab!!
I left for home around 5, and got back around 6. Since our “last” team long run before the marathon was the next morning, I went to sleep early to ensure I’d be rested enough to put in a good effort into the taper 😉 . Sure enough, it worked since I ran the 12 miles at an average pace of 8:07/mi! Really, really hoping that I can pull off a sub-4:00 come next Sunday!
I definitely do think that having days much like Saturday have been helpful in keeping my mood up, and feeling validated by my running improvements has also helped a lot. I know that it’s normal to have an ebb and flow with moods and feelings (it’s HEALTHY to feel sad sometimes), but if I can find ways to keep my happiness up the majority of the time, why not 🙂 ?
We spent our last day with my cousin and her wife in the same casual way as the previous day, but with the addition of a drive to the city.
I woke up early again, but went out for my run later than the day before in order to have a relaxing, sit-down chat over coffee with the cousin and her wifey.
After coffee, I went out for a 10 miler and came across this beautiful mural along the way.
I loved the trail I ran along, and there were two amazing bridges I came across that were pretty much architectural eye candy…
I quickly showered and got ready when I got back, since everyone was waiting to head out into the city. We had plans to go to the Exploratorium and have lunch. Our plans quickly changed when we found out tickets were a steep $30 and $25 with a student ID…our lunch plans didn’t change though.
We parked in Embarcadero, and dined at Osha Thai in the area.
It definitely looked like a fine dining kind of place on the inside, but my cousin told me that when she used to work in the area, she would often come down here with colleagues for lunch.
We ended up ordering everything family-style, and started off with these spring roll appetizers that were dipped in a delectable peanut sauce.
We split bowls of brown rice, Param (a vegetable and tofu dish with everything cooked in peanut sauce), and spicy eggplant. We also surprisingly ordered just enough food for all us without feeling hungry/stuffed. That was certainly a first for us!
Instead of going to the Exploratorium, we decided to head on over to the Jewish Contemporary Museum. We had to only walk for a few minutes back to the parking garage, but it had already gotten freezing-cold and the rain was icy too.
We did make it to the car in one piece though, and from there, found parking at a decent area by the museum. Despite finding good parking, we only spent about 1.5 hr at the museum, since there was really only one floor of exhibits, and one special exhibit on the ground floor.
It was time to leave after browsing through the gift shop…because dessert was calling our names. I actually had thought about suggesting to my cousin that we visit The Baked Bear for some ice cream-cookie creations, but he brought up the idea herself!
We were all giddy once we got to the food truck in North Beach. It didn’t matter that it was freezing cold out if a cookie bowl and ice cream was involved!
I ended up getting a chocolate chip cookie Bear Bowl with a huge scoop of birthday cake ice cream. My cousin got a cookie bowl as well with coffee ice cream.
My sis got a brownie bowl with chocolate ice cream (of course). We all allowed each other to take samples from each of the bowls, but I was fully content with my chocolate chip cookie + birthday cake ice cream combo. I thought the birthday cake ice cream could have had a stronger flavor (it tasted mostly of vanilla), but I had to give it points for its creaminess and color pop from the sprinkles!
We walked back to the car, and drove past the pier. I ended up falling asleep for the second part of the drive and woke up right as we rolled back into the apartment, haha!
After resting up for a bit, my cousin’s wife offered to make dinner and we watched an old Diane Keaton movie.
Basically, it was another cozy evening spent indoors in the company of loved ones, and the perfect way to end an enjoyable weekend 🙂
The next day, I woke up earlier than everyone else (6am of course) but forced myself to go back to sleep just for a little bit. My cousin got up to make coffee a little over an hour later. I wanted to get a run in, so I opted to have coffee when I came back.
I ran along the Iron Horse Trail for 10 miles, and when I came back my cousin and her wife had left for the gym, haha. My sister and I spent the rest of the morning just chilling around the house.
When my cousins came back, we wanted to go out for some fresh air while they caught up on house errands/work. My sis and I used that time to go into downtown to pick up snacks and walk around.
I noticed that they had an acai bowls shop by the name of Vitality Bowls, and I remember I had bookmarked it years ago as a place I wanted to visit if I ever stopped by in the East Bay. My sis also wanted to get a bowl, so we stepped inside.
There was ample seating inside, and despite the cold temperatures outside, there were many groups of people inside eating away at fruit-filled concoctions that were held in wavy-shaped stainless steel bowls.
My sister was craving a bowl that had ample amounts of banana and peanut butter. I wound up getting a classic Vitality Bowl.
I loved my bowl, but wish there had been more goji berries. The base was also somewhat more watery than I expected, and my sister’s bowl base seemed to be as thick as ice cream. The stainless steel bowl kept things nice and cold however.
After finishing the bowls, my sister and I headed back to the apartment. We just worked on our computers and enjoyed the company of my cousin and her wife. One of
their friends came over for tax help, and my cousin got started on cooking dinner while the NBA All-Star game played in the background. My cousin ended up making a “less spicy” version of Pad Kee Mao. The original recipe called for 22 chili peppers, but she generously cut that down to 7.
Even so, everyone commented on how spicy it still was! I however like spicy food, and didn’t find it off-putting one bit.
After dinner, we played a card game called Judgment that my cousin’s wife was a pro at. She beat us all by a wide margin. Soon after that, we called it a night and retreated back to our rooms. We had plans to go into the city the next day, so we had no problem turning in early to save up our energy for that. 🙂
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.
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.
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…
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.
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!
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!!
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.
How much would you spend on running/workout shoes?
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…
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.
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.
I’ve literally been having these as yogurt-thickeners and just mixed with water for “faux pudding”.
I prefer them as “yogurt enhancers”, but they really are good on their own too.
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 😉
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.
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.
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.
It’s so hard to believe that the past couple of months had me so anxious/stressed all over one little day. Well, on Tuesday I passed my qualifying exam, and it literally felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. I had been working on it for so long that I forgot what it felt like to go out on the weekends and explore the city.
Now the only major thing left in this whole grad school thing is gettingto the end—defending a dissertation and graduating! That won’t be for at least another 2.5 years, but I honestly think the hard part is over, at least in terms of academic requirements.
Last week however, I was feeling 10x more stress and anxiety compared to how I feel now.
Last Thursday, I stayed home to work from home. I was glad to save time from commuting, and I even squeezed in a run and Whole Foods/Vitamin Shoppe stop before heading home to work.
To my surprise, I found two new-to-me RX bars at Whole Foods, and snacked on them at the store.
Coffe Chocolate had a rough texture and the chocolate chips against the coffee flavor was strong, and overall I thought it was alright. I truly loved Apple Cinnamon though—tasted like Apple Pie if one added nuts into the crust!
I also had a Smores flavored Combat Crunch bar that I picked up from Vitamin Shoppe, and it tasted like a higher-quality Milky Way bar. Basically a Milky Way bar with a thicker, crispier, crunchier chocolate-coating shell.
On Saturday, we got a day break from the rain. I used that to my advantage and went out for a ~11 mi run. I was thinking about attending the women’s march taking place in downtown, but my priority was working on my PowerPoint presentations.
Before heading to work, I had to get some breakfast in me. I ended up going to Uplifter’s Kitchen for a quick, small bite in a cozy atmosphere. Despite it being sunny, the temperature was still chilly from the rain.
I ended up getting a seasonal mixed berry scone with a cafe latte on the side made with almond milk. I could have consumed this on the go, but I truly did want to give myself a break before transitioning to work mode.
This scone was encrusted with sugar crystals, and the blackberries and strawberries were so juicy!
The latte on the other hand, was sub-par. Maybe because they hadn’t sweetened it themselves, and when I got it I was too lazy to figure the right amount of sweetener to add. At least the frothy part looked pretty, and it was made from locally-sources almond milk? That is a plus, right 😉 ?
I also later found out that my scone made a difference! Haha, apparently, the proceeds that Day were going towards organizations that support women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality and protection from discrimination for immigrants. I was thrilled to hear that, and safely came to the conclusion that I was able to contribute to the day despite my own personal to-do list 🙂 !
Well—since my quals trials are over, I am overwhelmed (with happiness) thinking about what I could do this weekend! Ah, it feels like I need to catch up with the entire world, haha.
We left Houston on Thursday morning, and since we left in the late morning, the four hours to Dallas seemed longer than it actually was. We got to Dallas around 3:30pm, and we were all ravenous. My sister and Dad had taken turns driving during these four hours, but I had a lingering headache which grew as the hours ticked on.
We stopped at a vegan diner on Beckley Ave, just outside of downtown Dallas—Spiral Diner! Once we were inside, I was immediately reminded of Saturn Cafe in both Berkeley and Santa Cruz.
We were seated right away and my sis and I ploughed through the menu trying to figure out which entree would satisfy our raging appetites. For me, I had to go with the nachos. I was craving some chips and faux queso like crazy! My sis got a faux Philly cheesesteak and my Dad a pesto pasta dish with toasted bread.
All dishes came out beautifully presented, and close-to-perfection in taste.
I ate every single chip (plus some of my sister’s) drenched in vegan queso, sour cream, beans, olives, jalapeños, and guacamole. It hit the spot, and with several gulps of water, my headache magically went away 😉
Whatever headache my sister may have had prior to this sandwich must have gone away too, no doubt about it!
I also had some of my Dad’s pasta dish. It wasn’t packed with flavor but it definitely tasted rich and filling with this particular sauce and pasta. The pasta was like a version of rigatoni that was smaller.
For the next four hours on the road, my Dad agreed to drive since it was getting dark and I did express my tiredness from lack of sleep from the past couple of days. We made it back to Tulsa close to 10pm, and I went to sleep right away.
My sis and I only had four more days back in Tulsa, and ended up having to pack in more errands than “fun” things, but I didn’t mind too much since at least we had each other’s company. We did see Fences with a family friend, but it was too long and slow for me. We also didn’t do anything exciting for New Years…on the agenda was wearing fuzzy robes, watching whatever was on TV, and sleeping before midnight struck!
I also went back to running on a trail I grew fond of over the past two weeks. I hit 40 miles total for both the weeks I was away, and was even running at faster-than-normal paces. I had to stop and take a picture on my last run on Monday. I literally can’t believe that two weeks went by so fast…
This trip was special in so many ways, and I think that’s why I felt pretty blue in the days leading up to my departure and my departure day. Time is so, so precious, and it’s trips like these that make me wish we could pause frames in time to replay over and over again. While I do plan to see my sis before her graduation, I may not see my Dad until then…so not for at least another five months! But at least it will be an exciting time then as well…Europe is in our future!