A Weekend in LV, Part 1

A Weekend in LV, Part 1

My weekend trip to Vegas was planned on a whim, mostly due to the fact my bestie from Nor Cal moved there recently. BlogFest was also occurring the weekend I planned to visit, and there wasn’t any time-sensitive experiment holding me back in lab, so everything seemed to work out in my favor.

I worked some long days earlier in the week (including a 12hr stint the day before I left), but once Thursday arrived I was ready to for the desert country.

My MegaBus wasn’t leaving LA until 12:45, so I took it easy in the morning. I decided to take the weekend off from running since I knew the 90-110 temperatures in the Vegas heat would be unbearable to run in. After getting some coffee, I packed up the remainder of my stuff at home and then made my way to Union Station.

It was pretty hot in LA as well, so I was antsy until the bus came and we could finally sit down in an A/C regulated area. The bus ride was pretty uneventful, but I was able to fall in and out of sleep pretty easily. My body had been wanting to catch up I suppose!

Protein House, Las Vegas
Protein House, Las Vegas

I arrived in LA around 6, and my friend had just gotten off work so she was able to swing by and pick me up. I was expecting myself to experience a weather shock but the 105 degree temperature difference felt insane. She also looked pretty exhausted, so finding some place to eat for dinner was an immediate priority.

Menu
Menu

I had been wanting to check out The Protein House ever since it was featured on the Food Network in one of those undercover, we-fix-your-restaurant shows.

Pick-Up Counter and Protein Cookies
Pick-Up Counter and Protein Cookies

Many years later, I was standing in one of their locations with my friend, deciding which plant-based protein entree to get and a smoothie to complement it.

Counter and Shaker Bottle Rack
Counter and Shaker Bottle Rack

I ended up getting their Plant Power Bowl and the Chocolate PB Crush crush shake while my friend got a Spicy Thai Chicken Wrap and a Peanut Butter Dream smoothie. With her purchase, she was able to score a free shaker cup—something she said she probably will not use, haha.

My smoothie, her wrap
My smoothie, her wrap

Our food came out relatively quickly, and while our smoothies were flavorful and thick, both of our entrees were pretty dry. A little mix of some sauce and everything would have been dandy…

Plant Power Bowl ~ Organic Tofu, Grilled Portobello Mushroom, Quinoa, Chopped Garlic, Sweet Potato, Squash, Red onion, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Black beans, Chickpeas, Siriacha, Pinch Pepper & SeaSalt, Red Pepper Flakes
Plant Power Bowl ~
Organic Tofu, Grilled Portobello Mushroom, Quinoa, Chopped Garlic, Sweet Potato, Squash, Red onion, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Black beans, Chickpeas, Siriacha, Pinch Pepper & SeaSalt, Red Pepper Flakes

My friend was still pretty tired after we ate, so we just walked around the Town Square shopping mall a few miles off the strip since she works there. We spent an hour or so walking through Sephora and some of the other boutiques. Around 9pm, she dropped me off at my AirBnB which…was quite an experience.

The listing forgot to mention a few things…like the apartments were in a semi-sketch area (doubt that anyone would say that but…), the private room I was renting was opposite another private room housing two male guests and that there was a shared bathroom for both rooms, and that some rando would be sleeping on a pull-out couch in the living room my entire stay without a shirt on. Welcome to Las Vegas 👌🏽

But my room was clean and everything else seemed okay. It was a weird situation, but I could tolerate it for the weekend.

The next day was the second day of BlogFest and since my friend had to work all day, I spent most of the day at the convention center. I woke up at the crack of dawn, and was ready by 7:30. I decided to walk over, and despite the weirdness of the surrounding area, it was a safe walk over. Even though it was early in the morning, it was already hitting the 90s, and I couldn’t avoid sweating despite my attempts at walking slowly and under shade patches.

I was able to make it to the day’s earliest event which was the networking breakfast with a yogurt bar sponsored by Bell Institute.

Wecolme to Blogfest 2017!
Wecolme to Blogfest 2017!

I made sure to get a bowl of Good Culture cottage cheese topped with berries and a large mug of hot coffee with creamer.

Yogurt bar!
Yogurt bar!

I stayed for the keynote speech and the morning sessions, and around noon stopped by the expo to, ya know…pick up as many freebies as I can!

So many booths, gotta catch 'em all!
So many booths, gotta catch ’em all!

I grabbed enough protein bars, protein powders, kale chips, and other random items to fill one large reusable bag and my backpack. I was (mentally) tired to stay any longer, so I made the decision to walk back to my room in the 105 degree heat around 3:30pm. I wanted to rip off my skin and dunk my organs in an ice bath by the time I got back, but I survived. Opening the door and finding a half naked guy sleeping on a pull-out bed in the living room was awkward, but I retreated to my room and counted the hours until I could hang out with my bestie the next day…

Have you ever had an awkward hotel/lodging experience?

Protein House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Springtime Sushi

Springtime Sushi

Is it really already APRIL?! By the way the weather has been acting, it’s pretty real indeed!

Thanks to my tax return, I finally invested in a BedJet, so it looks like a creature from Star Wars is “hiding” under my bed covers…at least I no longer have to worry about participating in A/C Wars with my roommate! I absolutely love this little machine, and the its ability to keep my skin cool throughout the night. Why didn’t I get this sooner when I was going through ED recovery night sweats?!

I also had the urge to let off some steam on Instagram, after being whistled at a couple times last week while running. Some may say it is to be expected when running outdoors in the city, but that is by no means a valid, acceptable reason. I should be able to wear what I want to workout, and not feel ashamed, fearful, or intimidated by others for doing so.

Loving my new BedJet, and still gonna rock my Nike pros!
Loving my new BedJet, and still gonna rock my Nike pros!

Now onto the foodie-things of last weekend. Since I did not have to set one foot into lab over the weekend, I was able to hang out with my roommate on Saturday afternoon. We went to an outdoor music festival, and it was blazing HOT outside. I made the mistake of wearing strappy sandals, taking advantage of the fact I did not have to go into lab, but forgetting that heat + walking + sandals = blisters. UGH.

Jogasaki---my first food truck in LA (besides Waffles de Liege offered at a race I ran in last year...)
Jogasaki—my first food truck in LA (besides Waffles de Liege offered at a race I ran in last year…)

There were food trucks at the venue, and I took it as an opportunity to try my first one (besides the waffle one at a race I went to last year). Jogasaki was the most popular one there, and the only vegetarian dish they had was the veggie burrito.

The truck menu.
The truck menu.

I don’t know why they didn’t just call it a Sushirito though, since the other menu items were variations on the sushirito…

Veggie Burrito---er, Sushirito
Veggie Burrito—er, Sushirito

My sushirito was cylindrical roll of rice, filled with cucumber, avocado, and marinated seaweed, all of which was rolled up in rice paper. My roommate got a grilled cheese and tater tots (and I cannot imagine how she ate that hot food in the blazing hot weather…). We ate our meals on the grass, and then got up afterwards to check out the freebies.

Spring time music, food, and freebies.
Spring time music, food, and freebies.

The live music was pretty lame because there really was no defined set of acts and performers. A couple people got on stage to say “check, check”, and then they reverted to just playing pre-recorded music.

At least the freebies were worth it. I ended up with several shirts, KIND bars, sunglasses, and between my roommate and I, a bouquet of flowers for our apartment.

Free flowers!!
Free flowers!!
Some of dem freebies
Some of dem freebies

On Sunday, I felt the need to go shopping! I ended up going alone to Culver City after my morning long run, and ventured inside the Culver City Mall for the first time. When I lived in NorCal, my local mall got on my nerves after a while because it was pretty much the only place my friends and I would go, but stepping inside the CCM made me remember those good ol’ times and how much I miss those days 😛

I stopped by the Sprouts next to the mall before heading home, and pick up two Enlightened pints that have been all the rage on Instagram.

Those swirls... :D :D :D
Those swirls… 😀 😀 😀

Frozen Hot Cocoa blew me away…probably because the ingredients listed GHEE as an ingredient (which I have never seen as an ice cream ingredient before!!) and the swirls were insanely delicious. Of course I soon got tired of the chocolate, but those swirls!! I topped the pint with a FitElite Birthday Cake bar, which I bought only because a GNC was in the mall and I had not tried this bar flavor yet. I honestly was not a fan, since it tasted like bland vanilla fudge taffy with a smattering of spherical sprinkles :/ .

Frozen Hot Cocoa pint topped with a FitElite Birthday Cake Bar.
Frozen Hot Cocoa pint topped with a FitElite Birthday Cake Bar.
Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch
Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch

Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch on the other hand, made my Monday evening pleasant. After a long day in lab, coming home to this pint mixed with cookie pieces and oatmeal flakes in a caramel base was super comforting. If the other Enlightened ice cream flavors are just as good as these two, I think I’m going to have many worthwhile Sprouts grocery shopping trips in the near future 😉

Have you heard of BedJet?

Would you eat a sushirito?

Jogasaki Sushi Burrito Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Ice Cream (or Pie)!

There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Ice Cream (or Pie)!

I’ve always been a fan of ice cream (as you can probably tell from my most recent stream of posts…), but it makes sense that my ice cream cravings are at an all-time high in the summer. The weather hasn’t been extremely hot here in LA, but I still crave the cold, creamy dessert even with the overcast and cloudy weather.

So when I had the opportunity to visit a local creamery and pie shop in West LA, I couldn’t turn it down. I had to wait until Sunday for the visit, but that didn’t hold me back from appeasing my ice cream cravings earlier in the weekend.

After finishing up in lab on Friday, I walked over to the grocery store. Along with my usual produce, bread, and dairy purchases, I splurged in another B&J’s pint to enjoy after dinner that evening.

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My kind of Friday.

Friday’s flavor was Mint Chocolate Cookie, and I paired it with that week’s taped episode of The Astronaut Wives Club. The ice cream brought me back to my middle school days when I used to have those Snow Storm cups at lunchtime. The ice cream was quite refreshing with a minty aftertaste, and some of the sandwich cookie pieces were still intact so it was like eating mint ice cream mixed in with bite-size oreos!

Saturday was another low-key day, with a morning spent in lab, and the rest of the day spent at home just chillin’. I was mostly just organizing data, cleaning around the apartment, watching TV, and—trying out another ice cream flavor.

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Not sure I liked the espresso bean fudge chunks a whole lot…

Since I had not tried any of B&J’s coffee-flavored pints up until this point, I decided to give Coffee, Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz! a go. The coffee-flavored ice cream wasn’t too bad, as it wasn’t too overpowering, but I actually got tired of the espresso-fudge pieces that seemed to oversaturate the ice cream. I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favorite flavors, but perhaps someone who is a true coffee-aficionado fan would appreciate it more.

On Sunday, I had more time to venture out and check out a local & unique creamery in West LA. I woke up at 5:30AM as the sun was rising to complete a 12 mile long run, stopped by lab in the morning once again, and left a little after noon to catch the train + bus headed toward Westwood.

My trip only took ~ 1 hour since I was able to eliminate two bus transfers by taking the Big Blue Bus transit system run by Santa Monica. I used to avoid it since they didn’t accept TAP cards (the major riding pass for the Metro system of LA), but since they recently joined as a transit partner with the Metro system, that was no longer a problem! When you rely on public transit, things like this are golden nuggets of news 😉

I was dropped off close to my destination, and once I saw the A-frame chalkboard for “fresh homemade pie”, I knew I had correctly arrived at Atticus Creamery & Pies.

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Front of Atticus Creamery & Pies

It was already 2pm by the time I stopped by on Sunday afternoon, and it was empty inside the small shop. The trademark item was out on display in a variety of colors and flavors, and there were plenty of samples on a tray at the top of the counter.

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Pie display!

I was welcomed by a sweet girl, whose name I later learned to be Denise. Once I let her know I had come in for a tasting, she knew exactly what to do—offering me sample upon sample of pie.

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Inside the creamery

While Denise got some extra samples ready for me, she encouraged me to try some of the samples that were already out. I obliged, and found a seat near the wall to get comfortable.

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Getting cozy

As she was handing over samples, she made sure to enlighten me about the different kinds of pies they made, as well as their unique flavors. Cheesecake, mousse, and cream pies are the three main types of pies they serve, and I had the opportunity to try a couple that fit into each of those categories!

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PIES!PIES!PIES!

From the cheesecake pies, I was able to sample the blueberry and raspberry flavors. Both had a soft, creamy textured layer on top, and a jam-like filling at the bottom with their respective berries. I found to like the raspberry one the best.

As for their cream pies, I was able to get a taste of their coconut banana cream pie, which is a best-seller. I could tell right away, seeing as it tasted so light, airy, and fresh. Especially fresh, since I found a whole banana slice nestled within the cream layer!

There were many unique flavor profiles offered within the mousse pie category. Two such flavors were tea-inspired: earl grey and matcha green tea, the latter of which had a white chocolate ganache layer. I knew my sister would have died to try either of these since she loves her tea. I happened to end up loving the raspberry chocolate mousse pie though. The raspberry mousse layer paired so well with the chocolate ganache layer on the bottom, so it was no surprise that it ended up being my favorite.

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Oh, the beauty!

After I had my good share of pie, Denise brought over a beautiful tray showcasing an assortment of their pies. It was a good thing I already had tried the pies first, because if not, I may have snatched a couple of these drool-worthy beauties!

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Sampled out on pie…

But then again, I may have been hesitant to do that since the miniature pastries were almost too pretty to eat…almost.

After spending a few minutes playing food stylist, it was time to sample the ice cream!

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Ice cream time!

Denise was eager to have me sample as many flavors as I desired, and started me off with their best-seller: Honey Honeycomb.

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Honey Honeycomb

I could see (and taste) why it was so popular—the sweet honey flavor certainly carried through the vanilla base, and even my spoonful stayed true to its name in appearance.

More flavors followed, as well as their “stories”…

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So many flavors and textures!

Lemon Lavendar had a soft, humble flavor, while Cereal & Milk and Brownie A La Mode made sure to stand out in personality. Denise noted that Cereal & Milk was made with a Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies cereal base, and that Brownie A La Mode was her true favorite. 

From there sorbet selection, I got to try the strawberry flavor and was blown away by how smooth it was. I’ve had sorbet in the past that tasted more like popsicles, so this was a pleasant surprise. Vanilla Bean was a simple, yet rich and authentic flavor, while Caramel Macchiato would make any Starbucks fan swoon. My spoonful even had a dollop of syrup!

Potato Chip Chocolate has a mild, salty aftertaste, but unfortunately (or fortunately?), I couldn’t detect any potato 😉 .  The Nutella flavor had pieces of Ferrero Rocher blended in, and Brown Sugar Apple Pie, another best-seller, actually reminded me of a frozen cinnamon roll! 

After having my fill of ice cream, I thanked Denise for her time and asked for a cup of water to balance out all the sugar I consumed. As I got ready to leave, Denise asked if I wanted to take a pie and ice cream to go. I picked out the salted caramel pie, and the York peppermint patty-flavored ice cream, since they were both flavors I did not get a chance to sample beforehand.

The pie was packaged in a clear plastic take-out box, and the ice cream was given even more special treatment. Not only was my scoop nestled in a cardboard pint container similar to what you’d find in a grocery store, the container itself was wrapped up in a foil-like baggy to prevent it from melting.

I pulled out my wallet thinking I would have to pay for these treats, but as soon as Denise handed them over to me, she sent me off with a smile without even heading to the cash register.

When I had the chance to sit down outside, I decided to give the pie a go first.

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Salted Caramel Pie

This pie was one of their mousse pies, and I could tell by the whipped consistency of the top layer. The topping was glazed caramel popcorn, and it complimented the caramel flavor of the mousse layer. The bottom layer was chocolate ganache, and this was a pleasant surprise for me since I had not known this beforehand. I tackled the mousse layer with a fork, but once the chocolate ganache and outside crust was the only thing left, the half-eaten pie immediately became finger food.

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Chocolate ganache anyone?

The peppermint patty ice cream was another treat I’m glad I didn’t miss out on. The ice cream was of a minty base, and it had full chunks of peppermint patties mixed in. It was almost like a flashback to Friday’s B&J’s pint, but knowing that this one was locally-made and from a fresh batch made it seem more appetizing in comparison.

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Peppermint Ice Cream 🙂

It seems I should have come home that evening with a sugar coma from all of the sweet indulgences I had over the course of this weekend, but fortunately that wasn’t the case. In fact, it ironically made my love for ice cream stronger, and has pushed me to continue on my “quest” to try as many ice cream pint flavors, local creameries, and dairy-based desserts as possible.

Do you consider yourself an ice cream or pie fanatic?

Click to add a blog post for Atticus Creamery & Pies on Zomato

Race Recap – Run/Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases

Race Recap – Run/Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases

I didn’t expect things to be so slow and calm these past two weeks, but they surprisingly have been! With people gone on vacation, things have also been pretty slow and steady at work in lab. Of course I’ve been making sure to get what I need to get done each day done, but the demands have eased a bit compared to how things were last month!

And with that, racing on the weekends was a possibility again. Two weekends ago, it was a Father’s Day Half, but this past weekend, it was a 5K for a very worthy cause.

At the time I registered for the race, I knew that I would be in the middle of a running challenge (that I voluntarily got myself into…more on that in an upcoming post!), so I paid my dues knowing that I would have to allot some time on race morning to get a “warm-up” in before the actual 5K.

To account for all this, I woke up on Sunday morning around 5AM, and got my things together. I was on the train an hour later, and ran from Culver City Station all the way to Crescent Bay Park. The distance was a little over 7 miles, and certainly overqualified as a warm-up 😉

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Gazebo at Crescent Bay Park

I found the registration area set-up below from where I was standing, and carefully walked down the steps. I didn’t want to risk getting an ankle sprain before the actual run!

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Once I got down to ground level, I signed-in, grabbed my bib and goody bag, and then hung around near the refreshments. It may have been a small turn-out and a tiny 5K, relatively speaking, but the goodies spread out for the taking were beyond awesome.

Fancy water bottles...
Fancy water bottles…
Bars galore...including Quest Bars! My dream come true!
Bars galore…including Quest Bars! My dream come true!

As for the vendors at the race, they stayed consistent with the theme of the race. Since the 5K was all about Lymphedema and Lymphatic Disease awareness, many of the vendors were compression materials/medical companies specializing in lymphedema treatment.

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Since I came super early, I took the time to scope my surroundings, despite it only being a small area to begin with. I also snacked on a few bars while doing so.

 Finish line/Start line in the distance
Finish line/Start line in the distance

As time went on, more people showed up and started sitting down near the portable stage. Before the race began, there were speeches, testimonials, etc.

 Seating area.
Seating area.

The speeches began around 8:30AM, and were presented by speakers representing the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) and BSN Medical. Apparently this race was the first of its kind being held on the West Coast, and its goal was to spread awareness of lymphedema, since ~10 million Americans suffer from it. It can be genetic, a side effect of cancer treatment (due to the removal of lymph nodes), or brought upon by trauma to the lymphatic system. Whatever the cause, it is obviously a very painful, challenging disease to deal with, and the speakers kept emphasizing the fact that it is often a disease that is “hidden” by those that silently suffer from it.

We were introduced to a seven-year old boy who suffers from primary lymphedema in his left leg, and an elderly WWII veteran named Julius who had been suffering from the disease for years. Seeing what they had to go through on a daily basis—and realizing that there was no cure yet, just therapies for managing the condition—made the fact that our participation in this small 5K actually meant something.

 Listening loud and clear.
Listening loud and clear.

Kathy Bates, the national spokesperson for LE&RN, attended the pre-race ceremonies and gave a not-so-silent speech herself. She told her story—after a double mastectomy, she had lymph nodes removed and lymphedema occurred as a result. Since then, she’s been an avid supporter and fighter for lymphedema awareness.

After hearing all of the speeches, we were ushered to the starting line where a ribbon was being rolled out.

Once the ribbon was cut, a blow horn sounded and we were allowed to run! Even though it was a 5K, my legs felt dead at that point since I had already run 7 miles just an hour earlier. Despite this, I reminded myself it was “just another three miles”. The fact that it was a 1.5 mile out-and-back mentally helped push me through.

I managed to lock in and finish at an average pace of 9:23/mi, and though this wasn’t top female finisher material, I was proud of my pace on sore quads. I was also grateful for have the ability to run day in and day out, and to find the time to run for a worthy and necessary cause.

Before heading home, I grabbed enough Quest bars to last me a full week (saving me almost $30 bucks!!!), as well as some other bar goodies I had not tried before.

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Yup, I’d say this was a worth 5K from all angles 😉

Do you or someone you know suffer from lymphedema or lymphatic disease? *This post wasn’t sponsored, but if you are interested in learning more about LE&RN, click here.

Race Recap: Brazen Almost New Year’s Race

Race Recap: Brazen Almost New Year’s Race

I was hesitant to make my last run of 2014 a trail run, but given my options, I had little choice. Despite having numb hands at the end of the run (even with running gloves on!!), it turned out to be an okay run…but certainly not one I would consider running again if given the choice.

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The race start in Lake Chabot—fuh-ree-zing temps!!

I woke up around 6AM, and assembled my cold gear essentials together while sipping on some coffee before heading out the door. At least the freezing temperature gave me the opportunity to try on a new pair of Mizuno gloves and some new socks (definitely was in need of some new socks 😉 )!

morningraceprepp

It took us about an hour to get to Lake Chabot in Alameda County, where the race was held. By the time I got to the tents, the half marathoners were already on foot. I was desperately trying to keep warm, so I could only imagine what they were feeling like!

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Even the SKY looks frozen!!

The 10k didn’t start until it was close to 9AM. My legs were feeling sore from running in my old gym shoes from previous days’ workouts, since I didn’t pack my Hoka One Ones, but I didn’t have any other choice but to run in my flatly-padded shoes. Oh well, I just had to suck it up and brace myself for the steep climbs ahead. 

The first 2 miles were manageable. I was running at a consistent 9:20/mi pace and it was mostly flat up until we crossed a single-file bridge. At that point, there were hills to run up climb. It got to a point where the hills were so steep that running seemed impossible, and it literally turned into a hike. There were so many defeated looks plastered on the faces of runners around me, but I tried to put the obstacle into perspective: this was a hill that had to be conquered, and after reaching the top, I told myself that I could get back to running business.

We had a turn-around a little after mile 3, and it was all downhill from there—literally. The steep climbs turned into precarious slopes, and having good balance and control of your legs was more than necessary…it was mandatory for survival. Needless to say, I was relieved when I saw the single-file bridge again in the distance, since I knew flat grounds were near. From that point on, it was smooth running to the finish. Of course, my legs felt beat up (mostly from the shoes I was running in, plus the added intensity of the hills), but I guess the heavy finisher’s medal made up for it…

medal

There wasn’t much in post-race festivities and freebies, but there was a huge buffet lined up with sweets and savories:

buffet

Nothing on the table struck my fancy, and instead, I made my way over to the Naked Smoothie truck parked near the entryway to the park.

nakedsmoothies_truck!

Along with giving out samples…

nakedsample

…they were giving out free t-shirts with four decals of our choosing! Gotta love free t-shirts—especially ones that can be used as PJs 😀 

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It took about 3-5 minutes to prepare a t-shirt and get it pressed with the decals, so I was in line for a good forty minutes. It was worth it though, and with my Dad standing in line as well, we were able to pick up one for my sister. 

By the time we left the race grounds, it was nearing noon and we had agreed to meet my cousin at Bacheesos in Oakland for lunch. With my sis and I away at school for the past couple months, we had not seen her since summer, and so I was looking forward to the opportunity to meet up with her again!

The restaurant was on a street corner, and even though the sign(s) were tiny, we were able to spot out its location before finding parking. 

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Parking was (surprisingly) free, and so we proceeded to walk towards the restaurant without having to pause and sift for spare change. 

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We met my cousin inside, and found some seats near the wall. The interior was spacious, and a lunch buffet was already line up. 

bacheesos interior

The lunch buffet offered a grand selection…

bacheeso's buffet

For the first pass, I got a variety of veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, beets, bell peppers, eggplant discs), pita bread, hummus, a yogurt-based dip, and a generous dollop of moussaka. At first I confused the potato-laden dish for babaganoush based on appearance, but when I actually tried it on my plate, I found it too bland for my liking, and didn’t go back for seconds of that. 

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Speaking of seconds though, I did go back for more of the veggies and eggplant discs. I also had some scrambled eggs with the hummus, and what a combo that was 😀

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Once we had our fill at lunch, we went back to my cousin’s place and hung out for a while. Along with catching up, we played a cards and had some coffee before leaving in the early evening. To round out the day, we stopped for some froyo before heading home.

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Ending the day with a fun cup of frozen yogurt! Flavors here are: original tart, peppermint stick, and fancy french vanilla! 😛

What was your last race of the year?

Bacheesos on Urbanspoon

Vegan Oktoberfest

Vegan Oktoberfest

When I took German in high school, my teacher would always recount his favorite Oktoberfest stories around October-time. Since I was in high school during the whole health- food-reform-in-schools situation, we weren’t really “allowed” to have potlucks or parties unless they were “approved”—but my teacher was the kind of guy who always put a spin on things to make things seem educational. I mean, celebrating Oktoberfest in a high school German class makes absolute sense if you think about it (minus the beer). 

Unfortunately, my food options were quite limited being a vegetarian and all. My plate consisted of German cookies, Black Forest cake, and the one thing that had potatoes, and no meat. Based on my plate, you could say I may have not truly celebrated Oktoberfest for what it is, but things do change for the better as time goes on. Options like Vegan Oktoberfest  provide a solution for us plant-based eaters who want to partake in the fun of their meat-eating chums.

It was a bright, sunny day in Santa Monica on the day of the event.

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My legs were already pretty burned out by mid-afternoon. I had run a 10 mile long run in the morning, taken the bus, and bought my weekly stash of Quest bars before heading over to Barnard Way. In other words, my morning was pretty active with all the running and walking I had done. At least I had a legitimate excuse to chow down at the fest 😉 .

When I saw the tents and heard the Bavarian tunes, I knew I was in the right place.

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I just didn’t expect to wait in this incredibly long line.

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When I finally made it to the back of the line, I was hoping it wouldn’t take too long to get inside.

 Back of the line.
Back of the line.

And fortunately it didn’t, even though we were being teased by the fence.

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Getting a sneak peak…

We were first asked for IDs since it was an alcoholic event (but I purchased the non-drinker’s admission ticket), and then we had to give up our tickets for entry. Beer drinkers got to wear a cool yellow band, but I just got a Chuck E. Cheese-style, puny-looking stamp.

 Welcome to Vegan Oktoberfest...
Welcome to Vegan Oktoberfest…

Once inside, I headed straight toward’s the Sage Vegan Truck. Since I have not visited their brick-and-mortar in Culver City yet, I treated this order as a “preview” of what to expect from their real menu. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t excited to get my hands on vegan fish ‘n’ chips! Fried jackfruit is the secret…

sagevegtruck

$13.14 after tax is a bit pricey for this tray if you ask me, but it wasn’t bad at all. The garlic fries were not that stellar, but the jackfruit made up for it. When you think about it, it does make sense to use it as a substitute for fish, given its flaky, peel-y texture. 

jackfruitfishnchipz
Vegan fish’n’chips with garlic fries, a mayo-type sauce and a sweet tomato sauce.

I sat at a long table, joining other folks who were feasting on other forms of vegan fare (and drinks!).

SAMSUNG

After wiping my tray clean, I was on the look-out for my next food to sample. I ended up avoiding the Southern Fried Vegan Truck line, only because the line never died down!

SAMSUNG

Before buying anything else, I scoured for freebies, and managed to get a can of this alcohol-free & natural energy drink.

SAMSUNG

I gulped this mango ginger drink down since I felt incredibly thirsty. While it didn’t help the parched feeling in my throat, it was satisfying taste-wise. It was like I was drinking “fake soda” due to the carbonation as well 😛

Beyond Meat had a booth, and along with $1.00 off coupon, gave out vegan Bierocks made with their beef-less crumbles.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

Tofurky also had a booth set-up, and had their freebies of buttons and coupon books spread out on a table. A lady from behind a curtain was handing out vegan sausage samples.

buttonsamples

After finding my share of free things, I decided that perhaps I could finally allow myself to shell out some more bucks for dessert. One of the dessert trucks had some pretty cool (literally) vegan treats, but they only took cash so that was out. I decided to head back to the Sage truck area, and get myself a scoop of KindKreme in mixed berry.

kindkremeberry

When I handed the cashier my card, he tried swiping it against one of those card readers you attach to an iPhone, but for some reason, it wouldn’t pass through. In the end, he said it was on the house because they were having trouble on their end.

After indulging in my small (but free!) refreshing treat, I was tempted by the vegan baked goods that were displayed and being sold. Babycakes NYC was also present at the fest, but they were selling a limited amount of goods, and you had to purchase them in packs. I ended up visiting their booth neighbor, Life is Sweet Bakeshop, and getting a pumpkin velvet cupcake.

lifeissweetbakeshop_pumpkinvelvetcupcake

It was supposed to cost $4, but again, I was allowed to have it for free since they too were having issues with reading credit cards. While I did feel a little guilty about snagging another “on the house” item, I took it as a lucky gift and took the time to truly enjoy it. The cake was indeed moist, and fit the description of red velvet’s autumn cousin 😉 .

It was around 4:00pm when I decided that I had enough revelry for one day…never mind the fact that I was attending a party later that night. Overall, I found the festivities to be superb even though it was the first time the event was held! It would have been nice if there were more food vendors (and samples!), but I certainly cannot complain about my outcome 😉 

Would you attend an event like Vegan Oktoberfest?

Race Recap: Zooma Napa Valley

Race Recap: Zooma Napa Valley

My last race in June was a 10k, a short and sweet distance to end an incredible month of fitness accomplishments for me. I didn’t originally plan on it, but after running my best half marathon to-date only a few days prior, I felt the urge to push myself and set a new 10k PR for myself. It was a good thing a half was taking place in this race as well, since I was able to use the pacers to my advantage—even if only for the first three miles!

The day before the race, I had work so I couldn’t find the time to pick up my bib & swag bag and partake in the pre-race expo. The race organizers were at least nice enough to allow friends to pick up your race items for you, so I was able to have someone pick up my things for me in advance. My pre-race goods included a small Zooma bag with the following inside:

 Items included the race shirt, Feetures hot pink socks (!!), Emergen-C sample packets, a cute running hat. $30 value apparently.
Items included the race shirt, Feetures hot pink socks (!!), Emergen-C sample packets, a cute running hat, justgogirl bladder leakage “help” (<—where was this when I ran this?). $30 value apparently.

After work, I spent the rest of the night unwinding and going to sleep early, since I was on my feet all day and had to work around a bruised knee (fortunately, it did not hinder my running abilities!). The next morning, I woke up an hour early since I was feeling hungry and needed time to fuel and freshen up.

Two bars and a smidgen of coffee did just the trick. I had the brownie crunch flavor of a thinkThin bar and an Amazing Grass super food bar. The thinkThin bar was my favorite of the two—plainly because of the chocolate insides and outside. The AG bar was not that bad either, thanks to the chocolate chips that served as a good binding agent for the other trail mix-esque ingredients.

thinkThin brownie crunch

amazing grass green superfood

After nourishing myself with just the right amount of protein and carbs, I felt ready for the race. I arrived at the start around 7:40am, after we parked the car in a nearby residential area. The race start was near a church, and the starting line wound around like a giant snake with runners running both the half and 10k mixed up in the crowd.

the start

The main sponsor of the race was Muscle Milk Light, made prominent on the starting line blocky arch:

zooma RACE (36)

I got in line beside the 2:00h half marathon pacer just as announcements were being made. She would (unknowingly) be my guide for the first three miles 😉 .

announcements

The race organizers did a great job of getting us out on time. We were off by 8AM, running to the sounds of Gangnam Style. It was embarrassing, but at least no one embarrassed themselves by stopping to do the dance moves 😛

Because the half marathon and 10k runners were packed together for the first three miles, there was some crowding issues in the first mile of the race. I found myself at all sorts of angles near the pacer, and felt much more focused and in tune with her steps. I barely paid attention to my surroundings, even though I could hear others exclaim to each other how beautiful the vineyards looked against the backdrop of a clear sunny sky in late June.

After hitting mile 2, I noticed that my shoe lace was getting untied and had to hop over to the side of the road to get that taken care of. I still didn’t want to lose my running rhythm, so I immediately sprinted back to my spot behind the pacer, after making sure my shoe laces were tight enough. Before hitting mile 3, I found myself getting ahead of the pacer and from that point, decided to just keep going. Why slow down if I had the itch to speed up?

After the 10k turnaround, there was no looking back. I sensed my posture straightening up, and my stride getting slightly longer. I kept note of my pacing and breathing, and tried to keep things consistent as I made my way back to the finish. Since the majority of the runners were running the half, I was now a solo runner—since there was a length of space between me and the closest runner ahead.

Along the way, women didn’t hesitate to shout the occasional “Good job!” or “Nice work!”. I either smiled or replied with raspy “thank yous” so that I wouldn’t be rude but still preserve my energy towards running. I also came across some fun Zooma signs, like a sign starting off with “you know you’re a runner when…” and following with signs in response. It got me thinking about various ways I could finish the phrase as well.

After passing the last aid station at mile 5, I found myself zooming past two women, and yearning to finally get to the end. I was averaging an 8:23/mi pace for that mile—the fastest I’ve run in “recent” history. By the time I got to the end and checked my Garmin, I realized I had met my goal of a new 10k PR, in addition to a new 5k PR. I had run the first 3.1 miles at an average pace of 8:40/mi, and the total 6.2 miles at a speedy-for-me pace of 8:51/mi. Oh yes, I’ll take it! 😀

I also noticed that the elevation chart looked like two mountain peaks after analyzing my stats later…haha!

zooma RACE (3)

After being handed my medal and taking a moment to catch my breath…

medal

…I walked over to the Muscle Milk vendors and helped myself to a bottle.

muscle milk

Chocolate flavor!

chocolate

I had to drive back to work an hour after I finished, so my Dad and I hurried over to the Marriott where they were holding an indoor post-race expo. It was awkward because I was the first runner to arrive since I didn’t take the shuttle. Whoopsies?

 Muscle Milk truck parked outside // waiting in the lobby for some other runners to arrive before looking at food // shuttle I didn't take
Muscle Milk truck parked outside // waiting in the lobby for some other runners to arrive before looking at food // shuttle I didn’t take

After the first group of runners arrived via shuttle, I joined them as they gravitated towards the buffett table in the center of the room. The spread included apples, bananas, and serving trays of wraps that had either turkey or chicken. I wasn’t hungry for fruit, nor could I have the wrap due to the meat filling, so I ended up forfeiting my snack coupon. I was somewhat surprised that they didn’t have a veggie wrap or vegetarian-friendly option, but I was disappointed because I was expecting some sort of snack box similar to what I’ve seen in other bloggers’ race recaps of past Zooma races.

 I'll pass, thankyouverymuch.
I’ll pass, thankyouverymuch.

Since the buffet didn’t provide me with much munchies, I found another Muscle Milk ice chest out on the patio. I asked for another bottle (Vanilla Creme) and my Dad got the banana flavor. We found a seat on some couches and drank our shakes.

patio

Other vendors were behind the pool, which I figured out after peeking around this walkway.

walkway

I was offered an electrolyte sample, as well as an Honest Tea fizz pop sample.

samplezz

The other vendors behind the pool didn’t offer much in freebies, but there was a yoga group assembling by a tree, and massage tables.

zooma RACE (7)

There was also a booth selling sunglasses. I didn’t want nor need any though 😛

zooma RACE (8)

Just as the party was getting started, I had to leave so that I would have enough time to make it to work. To be honest, I didn’t mind taking off earlier than everyone else since there really wasn’t much to do, frankly speaking.

I found the race to be, overall, a fine experience in regards to the course layout and organization. Perhaps I would have had “more fun” if I had been able to make it out to the pre-race expo the day before, or if there had been more variety at the buffet table. Nevertheless, I was proud of finishing the 10k course running at a pace faster than I have ever ran before, proving that all of the hard work I put into this month with long distance running was worth it.

Finish the phrase yourself! “You know you are a runner when…”

Race Recap: Hit the Road Jack

Race Recap: Hit the Road Jack

I signed up for this race about a week and a half before the actual date, after I was well into my half marathon training plan. It originally conflicted with an LSD run, but with a little shifting here and there, I was able to make room for this little, local 10k. But because my LSD run and the race were back-to-back, you better believe my legs were so sore in the days following…

I only had five hours of sleep the night before, so it was harder for me than usual to roll out of bed and get ready. I did though, and managed to have a couple of minutes to have some yogurt with cinnamon Chex and chocolate peanut butter. Looking back, I’m not sure if I should have though!

We found parking near the plaza where the race start was, in a cozy section of downtown Sonoma.

cozydowntownsonoma

We had to walk through a park to get to the start/finish line, and the park itself was a beautiful sight with tall trees all around and freshly mowed lawn. The weather was cloudy and cool—perfect for running.

beautfiulparkk

I was able to pick up my bib the morning of, and that went on without any issues. The race jersey-material shirt was super cute too!

race_registration

There was a lot of standing around before the race started. My Dad was almost recruited into volunteering. It turned out that they had enough people to pull from their volunteer pool, so he just ended up with a free shirt of his own. Haha!

activity!!

The distances offered that day included a 2.2 miler and a 10k. Runners in both races had a combined start. Once we were off at 8AM, that’s when I knew this 10k wasn’t going to be much fun. Despite the beautiful scenery of cozy country-style homes and vineyards aligned on the course, my bladder was full and completely making its presence well known—in greater intensity than my previous race. I completely tuned out from my surroundings, and had to slow down so that my bladder stayed calm until I got to the finish. As a result, my average pace for the race wasn’t near my regular race pace. Once I crossed the finish line though, I no longer had to use the restroom. Typical…

Booth browsing was the next thing to do. There was a Krave Jerky booth, but I didn’t make my way over there due to the non-veg. goods 🙁 Where was the tofurky jerky, huh?

jerky

The buffet had the usual goods of bagels, coffee, orange slices, bananas, and generic granola bars (Costco brand, Quaker, etc.)

buffet

I got samples I actually liked from this tent:

boothwhereigotmyracegoods

The race could have been a lot more enjoyable than it turned out to be, if it were not for the full bladder issues, but at least I got some quality freebies out of it and a cute jersey race shirt. The freebies I brought home were few in number, but new-to-me, and I was excited to try them!

racegoods.

Has one specific thing (a nagging injury, full bladder, etc.) distracted you so much that you found a race unenjoyable?

Help with Zzzzz’s

Help with Zzzzz’s

Disclaimer: I was not monetarily paid to write this review. This review is based on a product I received via an online freebie coupon.  All opinions are my own.

I love sleep…even though I wake up earlier than most people that I know (anywhere between 5AM-7AM), even on the weekends. Sleeping in for me is not getting up until 8AM. This comes as a shock to many—especially my sister who often makes 12PM her breakfast time during the summer, and uses her priority registration to find classes after 9AM. 

My recent pattern of sleep has been going to bed anywhere between 10:30PM-12:00AM, and waking up between 5AM-7AM—this either leaves me with 5 full hours or 8.5 hours of sleep. I don’t have problems with waking up in the middle of the night fortunately, so my 5-8.5 hours of sleep are usually undisturbed and restful. 

My ability to wake up early is both a blessing and a curse. It gives me the chance to “get a lot of stuff done”, but it also zaps away from me the one or two hours of extra sleep that may help me have even more energy throughout the day. Of course I try to squeeze in a daily nap if possible. This was incredibly impossible  to do when I was an undergrad during the school week. During exam times, I would often wake up even earlier (3AM-4AM) because of all the anxiety/pressure I was feeling. When I remembered to take melatonin the night before an expected “anxiety-ridden” night, that often helped keep me in a deep slumber until my normal wake-up time, if not for a little longer. 

Recently, I found freebie coupon online for neuro SLEEP. I’m the kind of person who loves collecting freebies I receive via mail (I have an ongoing collection of shampoo/lotion samples that I intend to use when I move in a few months!), and so I couldn’t pass this offer up.

Sweet dreams!
Sweet dreams ♥!

After getting the coupon, I found a bottle of SLEEP at my local Lucky’s, where they were also selling its sister, SONIC (there are also BLISS and DAILY drinks, each with different flavors). Within the SLEEP category, there are three flavors: mellow mango, tangerine dream, and peach apricot. I chose tangerine dream because it was the only flavor available, even though I would have picked mango if I had the choice. 

neuroSLEEP.

The whole bottle is 35 calories and contains two measured cups, and can serve as 2-3 servings, if desired. It contains 50mg of magnesium and a 55mg blend of L-theanine, 5-HTP, and melatonin. The drink is also vegan-friendly, so I didn’t have to be concerned about the origin of the natural flavors. It does contain a little sugar though, due to the crystalline fructose.

 One bottle = 2 full cups.
One bottle = 2 full cups.

I split the drink with my dad on Friday night after an evening shift at work. We both found it to be sweeter than expected. To me, it tasted like a diluted version of water mixed with one of those flavor powder packets. Despite not initially wanting to try the tangerine flavor, I found it to be tastier than I expected. I had my serving about 45 minutes before I went to sleep, and woke up the next day at 6AM. So even though the drink didn’t help to extend my sleep, I did wake up feeling more refreshed and rested.

My dad reported that he felt drowsy within 10 minutes of drinking his serving! This goes to show that everyone reacts differently to varied amounts, and even the company recommends starting out with 1/3 of a bottle, and then gauging your preference from there.

Are you an early bird or night owl?

What to do you do to help your sleep?

Baagan Review

Baagan Review

The last restaurant I had to eat out at for 2013 happened to specialize in vegan cuisine. Go figure.

It all started with plans to check out the after Christmas sales at Roseville Galleria. I stumbled upon Baagan while perusing through Yelp, and realized it was about 10 minutes away from the mall! I knew immediately that I had to drag my friends here ;).

Baagan Storefront
Baagan Storefront

Their standing as a local business was another huge plus. After ordering and paying at the front, we helped ourselves to some chia powder samples, chili sunflower seeds, condiments, and water. Samples Water Condiments Galore... My sister and friend got sandwiches, but even though one was Veggie Hummus and the other Tomato Basil Pesto, they looked very much alike.

Which 'wich is which?
Which ‘wich is which?

I had the Trio Boat, since I felt like sampling a little bit of everything (a quinoa dish, warm veg dish, and a salad of some sort). They change it up every week, and this week, they had a beet salad, quinoa with craisins, and brussel sprouts mixed in seasonings and olive oil.

The mmmazing Trio Boat!
The mmmazing Trio Boat!

My dish was definitely the prettiest of the three ;). Despite eating outside in the cool-ish temperature, I was craving a smoothie to pair along with the sampling dish. Enter the Dark Velvet, a smoothie comprised mostly of banana and a lot of dark cacao. Also some other greens mixed in, but my sister nor I could distinguish anything from the strong cacao flavor—it seriously bit back!

Dark Velvet

For the majority of the time we consumed our meals, we were a quiet bunch. We had to devote all of our attention to demolishing every morsel in sight ;).

Demolished.

While I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and thought Baagan offered some excellent foods, my sister’s reaction was so-so. She thought the food tasted fine, but after the first few bites, the novelty began to fade away. Our opinions didn’t matter though, as the place was packed even on a Monday afternoon! I also noticed a lot of elderly folk were fond of the place :P.

After our nourishing lunch, we made our way to the Roseville Galleria for some after Christmas shopping. My sister was on a quest to find a new pair of jeans since a pair she’s had for just about five years was beginning to wear down.

Waiting outside the dressing room in a store where my sister was trying on jeans. Notice the cute fox purse?
Waiting outside the dressing room in a store where my sister was trying on jeans. Notice the cute fox purse?

After several loops of walking, my sister got some Zebra Popcorn at Popcornopolis, but we didn’t leave before sampling some other flavors.

Cupcake Batter Popcorn sample at Popcornopolis.
Cupcake Batter Popcorn sample at Popcornopolis.

After some more browsing and dressing room visits, each of us bought something from American Eagle (my sister found a nice pair there :D), and I managed to pay for my items solely through giftcards. The perks of after Christmas shopping!

Baagan on Urbanspoon

Do you like getting a dish with a sampling of different foods, or do you prefer sticking with something you know?

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