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 🙂
Last weekend, we were fighting a small heat wave where I live, so a trip to the Bay to meet up with my cousin was an agreeable decision made by all of us. It just so happened that Berkeley was also having its annual Kite Festival, and what a stupendous coincidence it was.
We met my cousin around 3pm, and boarded a free shuttle (which was really a school bus) to take us to where the kites were. The ironic thing was that it wasn’t really free, since we couldn’t get out of paying for parking :/ . After leaving the shuttle, we were greeted by so many beautiful sights in the sky and on the ground.
Even a little after 3pm, the crowds were still strong.
As we approached the center of the scene, I got a close-up of some professional kites. Like these multi-themed octopi:
I thought the swimmer & scuba diver kites were an interesting idea! The only odd part was they had no faces(??)
There was even a group helping the tiniest of kids control a kite. This little tot had a tight hold of..
…this kite wayyyyyyyyy up high!
Running around in a gerbil ball in a kiddie pool looked like a lot of fun too—except even if I could, I wasn’t appropriately dressed, wearing my nice work dress and all…
We soon made our way down the hill to where the food stalls were all lined up. They had everything from knishes to pupusas. My cousin got a potato knish, while my Dad got a bag of kettle corn that we split among all of us.
After mulling about where to stop and sit, we found an area behind the food stalls where people were sitting down and families were busy flying their own kites. We sat down ourselves, and chatted while also gazing up at the marvels in the sky now and then.
It was also pretty breezy, and about a half an hour later, the wind started to pick up even more. Noticing that my sister and I had goosebumps, my cousin suggested that we head back. At that point, I could not believe I was complaining about how hot it was earlier in the day. The Bay Area will forever be a weather anomaly!
Since it was 5:30pm by the time we packed up and reached the car, dinner plans were discussed. We first headed out to a cute Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating, but the line was 40+ people long and it was inching towards 6pm. I wasn’t too bothered though, because once the word “Ethiopian” was brought up, I thought yesyesyes, but really said, “That sounds good.” 😀
We carpooled with my cousin for a 10 minute drive to Oakland, and saw our destination across the street.
All of the outdoor seating was taken on this Sunday evening, which prevented me from getting good pictures of the outdoor area. (I didn’t want to look like a stalker to those sitting outside!)
Once we were situated inside, we were able to take a look at the menu.
The breakfast items featured on the half-page sounded delicious, but obviously it was way past morning-time. Even if they were available for purchase at the time when we arrived, I still think we all would have defaulted into ordering the usual: two Veggie Combos to split family-style. It does come with all the fix-ins and injera you could ask for. We also asked for a side order of the mushroom tibs, you know, because we were feeling ultra-daring 😉 .
I later learned that the restaurant used to be an Italian Restaurant, but the owners decided to keep the name. I think they did a pretty good job with the decorations, artwork, and logo—despite not being so creative with a name change 😛
After some time spent people-watching and conversing, our food arrived.
They combined two Veggie Combo orders plus Mushroom Tibs all on one plate apparently. It was most certainly a feast for the eyes first.
Once we all got our own share of napkins and gluten-free, 100% teff flour injera rolls, it was time to dig in!
Everything tasted so fresh and summer-y, and the plate itself looked like a rainbow. My sister and I were in an unspoken race to see who could get their injera with the most buticha (the white hummus-like dip that looks like cream cheese but tastes somuchbetter), but I also made my way to the other sides on the plate. As a self-proclaimed Ethiopian food fan, I felt that it was my duty to give myself a good-size serving of everything 😉
After dinner, we spent two more hours at my cousin’s apartment for coffee and tea. We then made our way home when the sun went down since the next day was a working day…but on the brightside, at least our weekend ended, and our week started, on the most colorful note possible 🙂
Who knew that a year later, I would be running my second half marathon in one of the best cities in the country?
My morning started at 3:55 AM. I literally had about four hours of sleep since I had a closing shift at work the night before.
I had some tea and double-checked my packing list before leaving. Since caffeine had no effect on me, I was able to sleep during the hour car ride. I woke up once were in the city, since the abrupt stops were enough to jolt me awake (the city never ceases to have traffic…even at 4 AM on a SUNDAY morning). My Dad had packed some banana bread, and I ended up having that before being dropped off near Union Square.
After a quick power walk down the block, I found my corral group and paced from side-to-side to keep warm. I wore an old t-shirt and old green jacket as my layer, with some short jersey shorts. I saw some savvy runners cozy and warm with garbage bags as their layer, which gave me some great ideas for upcoming races ;).
It was about a 45 minute wait before the “official” 6:30 AM start, even then, our 10:00-10:59/mi corral did not leave until ~15 minutes after that. I was getting absolutely annoyed with the announcer guy who would keep reiterating the same speech every five minutes: “You are making history today…”. By about the tenth time he said it, I felt like shouting, “We were making history 45 minutes ago!!!”
Once we did pass the Start line though, I immediately clicked start on my Garmin and kept Mile 1 slow enough to conserve energy for the journey ahead. We were running through the city streets through the early morning SF fog. It was cold enough that I had my arms crossed across my chest for the first 0.7 miles, but it was the perfect weather to start a run in!
At around Mile 2, we were running in front of the different Piers, as noted by the stench of fish. I had noticed the Exploratorium, a well-known science museum in the Bay, had moved to a pier, and we also passed by the TCHO chocolate factory. It might have been cool if they were giving out chocolate :9!!
I also gave up my light zip-up jacket for donation, since I was (finally) starting to warm up. I am so glad they organized a donation for old layers, rather than having runners liter perfectly fine used clothing on the streets.
Miles 3-5 were a blur, fortunately. These few miles can be the most boring in a half marathon because you’re not quite at the half way mark, yet you don’t want to run at 10k pace because you want to conserve energy for later…at least that’s how I feel anyways. The spectators were a great distraction, offering words of encouragement, music, cheers, and fun signs like: “You’re running better than Congress!”. I was able to pick up some Clif Shot Bloks as well, and stored them in my drawstring backpack for later.
Mile 6 was when we began our ascent…we had arrived upon our first hill! I could hear people start to murmur about it and brace themselves for it. There were some coaches on the sidelines shouting out common runner’s advice that still needed to be heard, since at that time we were probably all too dazed to take ourselves through the process logically.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t too bad. I could of course feel the burn in my quads, inner thighs, and glutes (all good to work out :P!), but there were some who decided to walk up. At the top, there were signs displayed from members belonging to TNT teams from across the country (and Canada). I think they were there to remind us that the hill was tough, but that victims (and their families) of terminal diseases go through so much more. It was bittersweet moment, but I must say it was poignantly planned and placed.
Mile 7/8 was when we made our descent, and yet we still had some walkers. This made it quite difficult since physics started getting involved. You do not want to be in the way of a runner heading downhill. But ofcourse, us runners had to act like we were in an obstacle course and weave our way around to the bottom. I tried to keep things conservative, but I think I was adding too much pressure to my knees in the process, and for a little while I had a sharp pinch in the left side of my stomach. It eventually went away by the time I reached the area where they were handing out mini Luna bars :).
Miles 9-11 were a lot more woodsy since we were approaching/near Golden Gate Park (I think…). We were still running through the fog, and I was noticing my (aching) joints a lot more. Achy joints = irritability. The littlest things like the discrepancy between the mile markers and my watch were starting to make me feel frustrated.
Whole Foods was giving out mini Alter Eco dark chocolate bars around Mile 10 or 11, and I visibly had two in my hand when I swiped one from another volunteer whose grasp wasn’t that tight…heh heh. Sorry, but I’m not sorry :P!
At Miles 12 and 13 (+ 0.1), I felt the motivation and energy I desperately needed to eagerly push on. The last group of spectators just before the finish line helped with that. I began to do 60-second countdowns, counting backwards, in order to deliberately not think about the last mile.
Upon seeing the finish line, I lengthened my stride and when I came to a sudden halt, the numbness/sorness/joint aches set in big time. I still reveled in the accomplishment of making it to the end healthy and strong (mentally and physically), and spotted my Dad in the crowd. I was naturally hungry, and I fished into my backpack for the shot bloks I saved earlier. My Dad took a picture of me mid-chew, which made for a very flattering photo op (not!).
It did feel amazing to be done, even though I ended with a 2:24:26, a time that was two minutes slower than my first half, at an average pace of 10:51 min/mi. I still felt like this half was much more tolerable weather-wise, and I felt like it went by quicker because of that.
There was a huuuuge crowd from the finish to where the blue boxes were being handed out. People were seriously standing in middle and chatting with their iPhones in the air…like everyone. It was slowness at its worst :(.
By the time I waddled through the crowd to where they were scanning bibs, it had already been fifteen minutes (though it seemed like longer). A funny observation I noted was how the older firemen were on the rightmost side and the younger ones were on the left…I didn’t think any of them were particularly hunky or anything (haha), but it was nice of them to come out in tuxedos and not mind the mild objectifying :P.
The necklace was dog-tag style, but shaped like a triangle. So cute :)!
After receiving our necklaces, I received what I really wanted…a heat sheet! Call me that kid who likes to play with the cardboard box over the toy that comes in the box, but wearing that heat sheet made me feel like a realrunner.
Whole Foods handed out plastic water bottles filled with cold water, along with goodie bags that contained a luna protein bar, fruit cup, and banana. I ate the Luna protein bar sometime before leaving the race, fyi ;).
Due to all the (iPhone) phone usage, bandwith was at an all time low, and this made it hard for me to meet up with my Dad, even with the so-called Verizon-sponsored “meeting area”. I finally found him, but everywhere we tried to go was crowded to the brim.
I still have yet to get a post-race massage (my time will come…)
But I was able to check my race results (which differed from my Garmin time).
And even though there was an even longer line for the post-race food (included whole cookies, Pop Chips, etc.), we managed to have some people already in line hand us some stuff over the line border which was nice, and there were people handing out Pop Chips outside of line too.
I had shared this with my Dad:
Neutrogena was giving away free fulls-size products and Paul Mitchell was giving away free haircuts/styling, but of course, you needed to wait in long lines in order to reap the rewards.
Despite all the celebration and revelry, there was also some sadness. My Dad told was telling me there was a man in his sixties who finished about fifteen minutes before I did, and just collapsed. They had to send out an EMT team, and they were getting to the point where they had to do chest compressions. He was pronounced dead—a total shock. It was insensitive how some people were supposedly filming this on their phones though.
We called it quits around 10:30 AM, and proceeded to walk a few more blocks to where my Dad had parked, and to where my sister was napping. Marathoners were also starting to make their way to the finish at this time.
Pros of this race included: cool weather that was ideal for race conditions, good sponsors and variety of goodies, the college student discount, a Tiffany & Co. necklace, feeling less pain in my joints (but still pain!) when compared with the first half I ran earlier this year, the challenge and accomplishing task of conquering those hills, feeling grateful about my capabilities and ability to finish the race healthy and strong.
Cons of this race included: unorganization, more specifically the lack of visible pacers (at least for the half marathon), meetups being difficult due to random crowding/bandwidth being sucked up by iPhones, and long lines which are difficult to avoid since crowds are annoying in general.
Notwithstanding the nervousness I came into this race with, since the longest I ran to prepare for this race was 7 miles, I was relieved and felt so accomplished with being able to run it all through without any major injury. This race really made me think about how moments can be so fleeting, and that we shouldn’t take our journeys (and our lives for that matter) for granted. Running is a really powerful thing. It really makes you think.
I am totally feeling that “letdown” feeling right now (and sore glutes and knees!), which I usually feel after a really wonderful day/event. The feeling is not so fun, but it is a real indication of if I really enjoyed something or not. Looks like I really did enjoy this race. Not sure if I’ll be able to run this race next year, but right now, I’ll just replay yesterday’s events in my mind…or just reread this post.
When you run longer distances, do you focus on beating a previous PR or just getting to the finish?
In one week, I’ll be up at 4:30AM, excited/anxious/nervous about the 13.1 miles ahead on the streets of San Francisco.
So not quite the marathon, but the half is challenging enough for me right now anyways ;)!
They were hosting early bib pick-up at locations all over the bay this past weekend, and I managed to grab my bag on Saturday, which included some cool stuff like a trial size of dry shampoo, my pace wrsitband, and some food samples (trail mix, Luna bar, somersaults!!)
Training-wise, I haven’t put in the amount of LSD runs as I planned/wanted to. To be honest, I was feeling bored with my “training plan” and often didn’t meet my weekly mileage goals. On the plus side, my pace has significantly gotten better since wearing better (and newer shoes), as well as with the cool fall weather (my summer runs were killing me!!). I hope this doesn’t go against me, but the way I see it, if I can keep a 10:00-10:30/mi pace, I will be on track for a new PR…for sure taking place of my current 2:22:00.
Food-wise, I have been enjoying these awesome seasonal flavors of Clif bars:
They were on “sale” at Raley’s for a $1.00 each. Considering Raley’s, I guess that it counts as a sale ;).
I also ordered and munched away at Quest Bar’s new flavor—Double Chocolate Chunk!!!
Look at it…
…not the prettiest bar in the world, but when microwaved, it tasted like a super-warm, fudgy lava cake!
And they threw in a free bar as a bonus. How did they know I’m in love with their cookie dough flavor?
Thoughts-wise, I’m feeling somewhat pumped since I did watch Spirit of the Marathon last night. At the same time, I just want it to be over. I’m also bummed that I can’t make it to the expo this weekend (work and stupid Bay Area/SF toll are my primary reasons…), but in the end, it may be best since I should take it easy the day and night before the big race.
For this week, I would like to get a decent amount of mileage in (and possible a good, long 9 mile run), but I won’t beat myself up if it doesn’t work out. As long as I’m ready to go on race day, that’s what counts right?
Saturday, June 8, 2013 was when I ran my first half marathon, and if I had to sum it up how I was feeling one word, focused comes to mind. I was able to take in the energy (and spectacular views) when appropriate, zone out during moments of ennui, and encourage myself during those times when I felt every. single. bone in my feet…and it hurt!
My day started at 5:30 am. Even though I set my phone alarm, I woke up before it rang! I laid out my clothing (including my Nike Pros) the night before, so after putting those on and brushing my teeth, I had a light snack before hitting the road. My Dad and I left around 6:30am, so we would have a good amount of time to get to Alameda, find the registration booths, and pick up my race bib.
Getting to the registration booths was not exactly thrilling. We were doing so well on the freeway, but when we got to the roads going through a neighborhood a couple of blocks from the park where the pre-race meeting was taking place, there was a major traffic jam. Let’s just say women with a running mission can be crazy drivers ;)!
After picking up my bib and coupons, I took a look at the route map and had some water. I didn’t plan to do any serious warm-up, but then this happened:
Apparently it’s tradition for See Jane Run to have a massive group warm-up! With “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” jammin’ in the background, these Janes lead us through the warm-ups with humor and enthusiasm:
Once our quads were stretched and our hamstrings were loosened up, the half marathoners made their way to the start line. The Lake Merritt Joggers group were our pacers for the race, but since I hadn’t run a half marathon prior to the race (the longest I ran during training was 10 miles), I decided it would be best to hang back and keep my pace at 10:39/mi with the 2:20 hour group.
We were released at 8 am, with cheers from all around. Mile 1 had us running on Shoreline Dr. and we were able to get a refreshing view of SF Bay. Police were at our sides making sure we were staying within the cones, but a lot of us had our eyes forward. Each runner was pinning for her own space, but politely fell in line so collectively, it looked like a huge snake slithering alongside the bay!
I kept up with my pace group up until Mile 3, but soon after my legs were itching to run faster and I found myself speeding ahead. The only real “climb” during this race was to get onto a bridge arching over the highway, but by then, the heat was starting to set in. We started to get in to some barren/rural-esque areas, and I was actually feeling thirsty. So by Mile 6, I stopped at my first aid station, and it was the first time I had ever stopped at an aid station during a race. The water was sooo needed though!
By then, the pace group I was originally herding with had caught up to me. It was getting so hot that by the time we reached some houses again, we noticed people watering their lawns, and some runners begged them to spray water on us! I wasn’t able to get that close to the water, but it looked like it felt amazing. We were close to the bay again at Mile 7, and we were all relieved by the breeze that cooled us just in time! I stopped at the aid station at Mile 8, but not sure if the water made any difference since it seemed to evaporate after hitting my tongue!
Mile 9 was when I started to feel a pinch in the side of my left knee, but I kept running through to the next aid station at Mile 10. As if on cue, my feet began to cry in pain. It felt as if every single bone in my feet felt the same exact amount of pain, but I urged myself to push on. Around this time, my original pace group was now ahead of me, but I didn’t care anymore since my goal was now to finish running, and not walking.
Mile 11 felt tortuous, but I reminded myself of the last aid station up ahead and the oh-so-glorious liquid that is H20. At Mile 12, I gulped down two cups of water, walked for thirty seconds while massaging my knees, started up again, and did not stop. The last 1.2 (techincally 1.44) miles was the most arduous, but seeing the finish line and the post-race celebration was my incentive.
And then I arrived.
I think that was the happiest I felt after crossing a finish line, ever. I was so parched, that I grabbed a bottle of water before being handed my medal!
Which is lovely by the way!
I literally did run for chocolate, since See’s was a sponsor and they provided three truffles in our race bags! I wasn’t able to take a pic of them (since I refueled with them right away!) but I did save the white chocolate one for back in the car.
Since I reached the finish around 2 hours, 22 minutes, the park was already hoppin’
Thankfully, my Dad thought ahead and was able to retrieve my race shirt (in the right size), despite the long line.
He also managed to snatch a bottle of Zico for me. Apparently they had already packed up and left by the time I rolled in, since they were overwhelmed with the response and had run out of bottles.
Thanks to Dad, I was able to hop over to the many different sponsor booths right away, like the ThinkThin booth (where I made frequent trips ;)).
Rudi’s was handing out PB&J half sandwiches on gluten-free bread! So. good.
I also wanted to take advantage of the post-race massages!
Unfortunately, I and several people behind me in line were told to leave since the massage therapists only had thirty minutes left, and there were already several people ahead of us. Boo.
But life goes on.
It’s not like I walked away empty-handed…
The race shirt is gorgeous. I love the lime green color!
Overall, the race & the day was a success. I ran my longest distance to date, have an “official” half marathon PR (that I plan to improve upon in the future!), and I got to celebrate with a post-race feast of sorts.
I’m glad SJR was my first half marathon event, and I’m not just saying that because I am an ambassador. I felt like the course was nice and flat for a newbie half marathoner like myself, yet challenging with the weather. The view of the bay was gorgeous, and seeing so many women of all shapes, ages, and sizes racing to one finish line, towards one goal, was encouraging. And even though I didn’t partake in the celebratory bubbly, I can say it felt so good to run for chocolate!
If you run half marathons, which was your favorite race?
Chocolate or champagne—which one would you run for?
The last week of Winter Break was full of friends, laughter, and fun.
The start of my week was relatively chill. I skipped out on ZUMBA Sunday morning and opted to go for a 5 mi run instead. Monday was New Year’s Eve so I ZUMBA’d and ran 5 mi. I was glad that there was no rain in the forecast, even though it was dreadfully cold outside…this made it harder for me to push myself out there and stack up some miles.
On Tuesday, we picked up my friend (whom we haven’t seen in MONTHS) from San Francisco, and we visited the Great Mall in Milpitas. It’s basically a huge indoor outlet mall, but it was a good destination since we all wanted to SHOP. Especially my friend who wanted to spend some of her Forever 21 paycheck ;).
We had lunch at the food court first, where I had a pipin’ hot bowl of Vegetarian Ramen. Since I was out with my friend, I didn’t want to worry about counting calories so I decided it was a “calorie-free” day, and I slurped my bowl while my friend and I made fun of the music videos that were being played on large TV screens above shoppers’ heads.
While walking to some stores, we helped ourselves to some fro-yo samples. The flavor of the day was Cinnamon Roll, but we guessed something along the lines of cinnamon cheesecake/red velvet cake. I guess we were sort of off :P!
The three of us went to a few stores together, then went our separate ways for an hour or so (myself vs. my sis and friend). I stopped by the A&F outlet since I had a giftcard, and after pacing around the store for 45 min not being blown away by anything, I decided to get a long-sleeve pullover since I needed something with longsleeves for the cold.
We all met up again, and I had a serious craving for fro-yo. My Dad and I were the only ones who wanted some, so we went back to where they were serving the Cinnamon Roll samples and we each got a cup.
They ran out of Cinnamon Roll (boo) so I settled for a coffee and caramel mix, and I topped it with my usual toppings: mochi :3, mango, apple poppers, strawberries, and pineapple. I was so sad when it was all gone ;(.
My friend was sleeping over so once we got home, we exchanged gifts. Here’s (some of) what I was presented with:
The next two days were spent hanging out with my friend, and our other friend joined us on Thursday. I was able to get in some morning runs since my friend and sister always stay up late and I’m an early riser. Managed to get two pics of some of the breakfasts I had:
We got haircuts on Wednesday, but the car I got (to replace the one that was crashed into) had some issues with a CV joint or something so we were stuck in the parking lot for about 3 hours. That was fun…not!
On Thursday, we were just really lazy the majority of the day, but then went out to Olive Garden. To be honest, I had anxiety about eating out when I woke up in the morning, but I forced myself not to think about it too much, and to just order what I felt like when it was time to eat.
No pics were taken (since the lighting was semi-bad and I was out with friends), but I had the minestrone soup and Linguine alla Marinara. I felt accomplished since I had this silly “fear” of eating pasta for dinner instilled from the disordered eating habits. For some reason, I feared that having pasta for dinner wouldn’t “fill me up” and that it wouldn’t be a satisfying dinner. It was the first time in a while that I felt “okay” with having pasta for dinner, and feeling satisfied with choosing that as a meal option.
But in regards to taste? Meh. I feel like OG’s quality of food has gone down over the years. They really cut back on the salad AND my friend found two hairs in her food—gross!
That’s pretty much what happened over the past few days. I can’t believe tomorrow is my last official day of vacation, and then it’s back to work Monday morning! I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to the two lab classes I have to take, but I just need to remember: six months!