Race Recap – 32nd Skechers Performance LA Marathon

Race Recap – 32nd Skechers Performance LA Marathon

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.

My third marathon expo.
My third marathon expo.

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.

Trying to find/get all the samples I can.
Trying to find/get all the samples I can.

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!

Hello, Clif!
Hello, Clif!

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.

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Friday night turn down 😴 with a Spicy Lentil wrap from Trader Joe’s. I put this right up there with the grilled eggplant wrap!

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.

Waiting at Dodger's Stadium...
Waiting at Dodger’s Stadium…

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.

Bag check was much better this year!
Bag check was much better this year!

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.

People around me were still in a daze...
People around me were still in a daze…

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…

One ripe blister and gunmetal-polished toenail, came right up!
One ripe blister and gunmetal-polished toenail, came right up!

At least this small gem reminded me that I just did something pretty amazing that morning??

3rd time's a charm!
3rd time’s a charm!

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?

Would you ever consider running a marathon?

Have you ever had a black toe nail?

Sit Back and Relax?

Sit Back and Relax?

Once Wednesday morning rolled around last week, I felt much less anxious, but I did have some lingering adrenaline because I could not sleep. Post-presentation jitters? I guess that’s a thing.

I did treat myself to a latte in the morning: the new Cascara latte from Starbucks.

As a treat for my major accomplishment yesterday, I treated myself to a tall cup of the new Cascara Latte from Sbux. Was it worth a $1.00 extra vs a cappucino? Interestingly, I thought the froth was softer and creamier, and maybe it was the stevia, but it tasted so sweet. I usually have to add two packets of stevia to my cappuccino in order to get half the sweetness I got with this cup.
As a treat for my major accomplishment yesterday, I treated myself to a tall cup of the new Cascara Latte from Sbux. Was it worth a $1.00 extra vs a cappucino? Interestingly, I thought the froth was softer and creamier, and maybe it was the stevia, but it tasted so sweet. I usually have to add two packets of stevia to my cappuccino in order to get half the sweetness I got with this cup.

I saved my celebrations for the weekend though. My friend from lab and I snuck out a little early Friday evening to head downtown and see Hidden Figures. It was my friend’s second time seeing it, but she loved it so much that she didn’t mind seeing it again with me.

She ended up buying both of our tickets even though I insisted she didn’t. Ah, now I owe her—if she’ll ever give me the chance πŸ˜‰ !

I absolutely loved the movie, though I will admit I love movies and books about people and their stories. I loved reading biographies as a kid, and even now I prefer memoirs over anything else literature-wise.

On Saturday, I gave myself a rest day knowing that the next morning I would have to get up and run 15 miles. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with my day, knowing I had it all to myself with no impending items on my to-so list…

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Except maybe go frolicking around Westwood?

I ended up walking around Santa Monica in the morning because I woke up ravenous, and I wanted to get donuts from DK’s. Unfortunately, my debit card wasn’t working and I couldn’t withdraw any cash to buy any donuts from the cash-only shop. I don’t understand why they can’t take credit cards at this point with all their success/recognition, but one day I’ll be able to see what the hullabaloo is about…when I have cash in my pocket.

In the meantime, I had to find something pronto because my stomach was growling…

SuperFood Cafe in Santa Monica
SuperFood Cafe in Santa Monica

I totally forgot about SuperFood Cafe’s existence, even though I had been planning to check this place out a while back. They have an incredible amount of vegan and vegetarian items, hinted by the size of their large laminated menus.

At the counter, I ordered a warm bowl called Chef Tofu and a coffee because that morning I desperately needed one. I then found a seat and admired the high ceilings and warm, cozy color tones.

coffee and art
Nothing says comfort like a giant mug of coffee

I added two packets of brown sugar and one serving of creamer to the coffee, which made it taste much more magical. My bowl came in a very interesting-shaped bowl—it looked like something you’d find in an art gallery.

chef_tofu
That crazy looking bowl though.

The bowl itself contained organic tofu, hemp seed, organic broccoli, kale & spinach, and organic tomato-corn-chipotle salsa. The tofu had a nice spice to it, being coated with a light curry sauce and all.

chef_TOfuuu
Ah, a bowl of yum!

With my hunger satisfied, I decided I might as well do something fun, but cultural, with my free day. I took the bus (which stopped right in front of SuperFood, conveniently!) to Westwood, and decided to check out the Hammer Museum since I hadn’t been yet!

hammer_museum
Hammer Museum—an illusion of size

The museum was actually pretty small. From the outside it looks enormous, but then I realized that the bulk of it was a parking garage…so much for culture! While it was gorgeous on the inside, there were only TWO art displays open, and so my visit was drastically cut down to a fifteen minute walk-through…

interior_
Pretty, but small & quiet

So, I ended up doing what I pretty much do on my weekends when not in lab…grocery shop, and then head home to nap! At least at my grocery stops over the weekends, I treated myself to some delicious new finds:

I had this Falafel Wrap from Trader Joe’s on Sunday, after a 15-mile long run with my team. After having the Veggie Hummus and Grilled Eggplant wraps though, I found this one to be awfully dry even with the provided tahini sauce. It didn’t help that all the falafel were to one side (it made it harder to dip that side into the sauce cup)…maybe if they had been assembled in a staggered arrangement, it would have helped with the dunking?

falafel_wrap
Trader Joe’s Falafel Wrap

I also used some Vitamin Shoppe points I had to go towards my first jar of D’s Naturals Fluffbutter!

I tried D's Naturals Fluffbutter for the first time last night! It's a vegan protein-infused peanut butter that comes in a number of flavors, but Creamy Chocolate S'mores caught my eye immediately. It has a thick consistency, but that's balanced out with a good proportion of peanut oil to make it easy to spread. It tastes like a mild chocolate peanut butter, and comes in the perfect small-sized jar. So excited to get my hands on the other flavors and see how they compare!
I tried D’s Naturals Fluffbutter for the first time last night! It’s a vegan protein-infused peanut butter that comes in a number of flavors, but Creamy Chocolate S’mores caught my eye immediately. It has a thick consistency, but that’s balanced out with a good proportion of peanut oil to make it easy to spread. It tastes like a mild chocolate peanut butter, and comes in the perfect small-sized jar. So excited to get my hands on the other flavors and see how they compare!

As described by my caption so succinctly, I enjoyed this flavor immensely πŸ™‚

backofjar
I will be on the hunt for the others!

I would say that my post-exam jitters finally went away Monday morning. I woke up feeling much more refreshed than I did last Wednesday, and so far, that feeling’s been holding up pretty well πŸ™‚

Does it take you a while (psychologically) to get back to your normal routine after a long stressful event is over?

Superfood Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The 100 Degrees Solution

The 100 Degrees Solution

Over the weekend, temperatures reached record highs, and it was extremely hot! It made no sense to walk outside, but did I consider that? Obviously not…

I wouldn't have tried this refreshing treat had I not stepped out in the hot sun!
I wouldn’t have tried this refreshing treat had I not stepped out in the hot sun!

But I don’t regret that decision too much because I finally tried an acai bowl! At Kreation Organic, in the “fancy” Beverly Hills to be exact πŸ˜‰

I thought the utensils were organized really well, haha!
I thought the utensils were organized really well, haha!

I stepped in and wasn’t sure where to look because the walls were covered and everything was calling my attention! I did spot the “cacao” Amazebowl on their wall menu though, and decided that sounded delicious enough to order. In the meantime, I sampled their kale chips…

Or should I say, chip??
Or should I say, chip??

My bowl came out in a compostable bowl, and I was ready to rip the plastic bowl off! Looking at this meal in front of me, I realized that this is probably the only way I will be able to get my fruit intake up (and eat bananas) !!

The Cacao Amazebowl - cacao, soymilk blend with banana and almond butter, topped with bananas, strawberries, apple, bee pollen (!!), granola, and honey.
The Cacao Amazebowl – cacao, soymilk blend with banana and almond butter, topped with bananas, strawberries, apple, bee pollen (!!), granola, and honey.

The bee pollen sprinkling was so eye-catching.

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Oooh bee pollen….

The following day, my acai/smoothie bowl craving was still going strong! Sunday was immensely hot, and so that craving was very much justified. Since I was on my way to Sprouts for some grocery shopping, I stopped inside Bon Bon Berry and tried the Aloha Bowl (as much as I did want to try the chocolate flavor, I decided to go a different route to change the flavors I try)!

Strip mall smoothie bowls...anything to cool off on a hot day!
Strip mall smoothie bowls…anything to cool off on a hot day!

Since absolutely no one was walking outside, I wasn’t surprised that no one was indoors either. But at least it was at least 30 degrees cooler inside (or at least it felt like it)! I ordered the bowl at the counter, found a seat near the far wall, and waited for my bowl to come.

Empty because no one is outside, to come inside, on this hot day!
Empty because no one is outside, to come inside, on this hot day!

Unlike the bowl from the day before, the Aloha bowl I had before me was covered in coconut shreds and more fruity in flavor, perhaps due to the mango and banana combo. It still had granola and honey swirled in.

Aloha Bowl!
Aloha Bowl!

Obviously not as fancy as the Kreation Organic bowl, but it was just as satisfying. The customer service was great too, and it seemed like they really took care in fulfilling the order and making sure the bowl was cold, refreshing, and full of flavor!

You can never have too many close-ups of an acai/smoothie bowl!
You can never have too many close-ups of an acai/smoothie bowl!

Are you a fan of acai/smoothie bowls?

Kreation Organic Juicery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Never Enough Froyo

Never Enough Froyo

Sunday was a peaceful day for me. After a pleasant long run in downtown (because of the overcast skies and lack of people due to it being early in the morning on a non-working day), I was able to fit in a shopping trip to Sprouts. They were having a BOGO deal on Arctic Zero (!!), so that honestly was my main reason for the trip πŸ˜›

I had to get all of this done in the morning since I had to go into lab for an hour in the afternoon (ugh), but it was also a refreshing change to do “my weekend things” in the morning vs. afternoon.

Since I traveled to the Sprouts in Westwood, and I FINALLY had cash on hand, I decided to stop by The Bigg Chill for some morning froyo.

tbc (1)
The Bigg Chill

Having cash on hand was a major moment for me, since I always use cards. Inside the small establishment within a strip mall, the ambiance was very much like a classic ice cream parlor (at least at the counter, the tables and chairs seemed to be more modern. 

tbc (2)
Classy counterspace.

After ordering at the counter, I sat across from the glowing neon sign on the far left wall, next to all the Quest bars on a rack, haha. It’s actually a trend I’ve been seeing at many froyo places that offer low-carb options.

tbc (3)
So shiny!

The counter was packed with so many edible (and non-edible) items, but behind the counter I was able to see the variety of toppings I could choose from, and at first wasn’t sure what size I wanted either. I ended up going with the 8oz macaron flavor that was dairy-free, topped with vegan chocolate chip cookie dough, mochi (all-time fav), and strawberries.

thebiggchill
So much stuff & lotsa toppings.

The macaron flavor was very smooth and had a milky taste to it, and mixed with the mochi, it was perfection. The strawberries were just for show, and while I had high hopes for the VCCCD, it wasn’t that great, and rather than having a fudgy consistency was somewhat oilier than it should have been.

But if we’re talking about appearances, it was certainly one beauty of a cup.

thebiggchilll
That swirl, and the cookie dough!

What are your go-to froyo toppings?

The Bigg Chill Frozen Yogurt Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap – 31st Skechers Performance LA Marathon

Race Recap – 31st Skechers Performance LA Marathon

On February 14, 2016, I ran my second marathon.

Caught at the right moment
Caught at the right moment

It has been less than a year since I ran my first marathon, and SO many things have happened since then. Even with all that has transpired, I am grateful that I was even able to run this insane distance once again!

My day began at 3am on Valentine’s Day. Once I stuffed all of my race day essentials into my gear check bag, I was off with my carpool crew. After picking up a few more people, we drove off to Santa Monica to park the car and load the shuttle buses to Dodger’s Stadium.

As we sat on the bus, some of my marathon teammates came up with running pick-up lines since it was Valentine’s Day. One guy had us all laughing with “I may be running 26.2, but I want 26.YOU”. It was definitely a light-hearted ride to the the starting line that would otherwise be an anxiety-ridden one!

Everyone in front of me was all quiet and thinking to themselves...everyone behind me was all laughs!
Everyone in front of me was all quiet and thinking to themselves…everyone behind me was all laughs!

Once we got to Dodger’s Stadium, we had about a half an hour to check in our bags and ready ourselves. We didn’t have time for a all-member team pic, so I immediately got into my assigned corral.

After the wheelchair runners and elite women, the elite men and the rest of us were off! I was feeling anxious about my right foot, but once things got moving I didn’t feel much in terms of pain.

The course was pretty much identical to last year’s, and I was able to keep a 9:30-10:00 pace for the first several miles. I was carrying my handheld water bottle as well, so I didn’t feel the need to stop for water until after mile 6 or so.

It was relatively easy for me to zone out all the way through Chinatown, Downtown, Echo Park, Silverlake, Hollywood…all the way through Beverly Hills even! As expected, I felt myself slow down in pace as we reached Century City and Westwood. We thankfully did not have to climb that tortous hill near the VA like last year, but miles 22 and onward only made me feel slower and wishing I didn’t have 4.2 miles left.

I refueled with the same gummies and shot bloks as last year, but didn’t start chewing until ~mile 11-13. I went through all of my chewables by mile 22, hoping I would be able to snag a packet from a spectator like last year.

Unfortunately, no one was handing out unwrapped shot bloks past mile 22, but I found myself immensely hungry at mile 23! Two pieces of licorice happened to do the trick surprisingly.

Unlike the 90+F degree weather of last year, we were greeted with fog once we hit Brentwood. As we ran downhill on San Vicente, we could feel the cool, misty ocean as we approached the finish.

IMG_3499
Everyone looks so sad!

Making it to the finish line this year was not as grueling, but once I hit the stop button on my Garmin at 26.4 miles and slowed to a walk, I began to feel the achiness of my hip and foot tendons.

Just keep walking and standing...
Just keep walking and standing…

After grabbing some post-race snacks, a heat sheet, and my medal, I proceeded to the bag check trucks. Bag check was horribly organized this year, since I found all of the bags tossed on the ground.

IMG_3498
Dude, where’s my bag?

Honestly, anybody could have just grabbed a bag and left! There was also no organization such as alphabetizing the bags, so it took me a good fifteen minutes just to find my bag.

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No man! Don’t sit!

Once that was all done, I proceeded to find my teammates. Everyone who had completed the distance was sitting cross-legged with their heat sheets drapped over their shoulders, munching on mini Clif bars or animal crackers. I continued to stand because if I had sat, it would have been PAINFUL to get up!!

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Race patrol keeping the roads clear!

I was there for another hour and a half until everyone from my car was back. We hobbled back to the parking lot around 2pm, and got back into the city an hour later (just like last year).

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Someone got one of my teammates roses…oooooohooohooo

I actually had to go into lab that afternoon (!!) and so I took my sweet time with that. I normally stand for one particular experiment I have to do but on this day, I had to find a seat because my legs were begging me, haha!

I also reflected on my experience, my capabilities, and my newfound strength on Instagram, leaving this picture with a caption about how I ran this race in a much healthier state than probably any other race I have run before!

β™₯β™₯β™₯
β™₯β™₯β™₯

I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want to go with this running thing, and getting faster is one of my top goals. My time was slower by six minutes this year, but that can be due to so many factors. I am just so incredibly grateful that I was even able to run this race, and I hope that there will be many more marathons in my future, reminding me that all is possible when you work with and trust your body.

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Two sides to THIS medal!!

Have you ever run a marathon? Would you want to?

Lunch with the Roomie

Lunch with the Roomie

This past weekend, my roommate and I finally had some time to hang out together—at least for lunch!

She wanted to check out UCLA, and even though I wanted to get some grocery shopping done (I can’t miss an opportunity to shop at Westwood’s Sprouts!), she was able to meet up with an old friend.

Prior to Saturday’s plans, I made my usual crockpot dinner much more satisfying with the addition of a Trader Joe’s pretzel bagel. I’ve also been taking them to school/lab smothered in hummus and a slice of cheese. The combination is definitely a satisfying mid-day snack!

Crockpot Veggies with a pretzel bagel <3
Crockpot Veggies with a pretzel bagel <3

On Saturday, my roommate and I took the Metro train and a bus to head on over to Westwood. For lunch, we made our way to TLT Food: the brick-and-mortar location for The Lime Truck food truck.

TLT Food ~ The Lime Truck
TLT Food ~ The Lime Truck

I remember first passing by this restaurant one day early last year, when I spent a whole day strolling through Westwood. It was because of its bright green walls and eye-catching colors, inside and out…

It took me almost a year to actually venture inside, and at least my first visit was with company! There were a few, ready-made vegetarian menu options listed, but I wanted something classic, like nachos or fries.

Pork Belly Nachos was listed, but I was able to have the pork belly subbed with spicy tofu cubes. I love it when restaurants don’t hesitate to be accomodating. My roommate got the steak fries. We were both given buzzers (like the ones they give at Olive Garden when you have to wait 20 minutes for an open table on a Saturday night…), and in the meantime, found seats.

Seating area.
Seating area.

When our buzzers lit up, we had to go to the pick-up counter to get our food.

Pick-up counter
Pick-up counter

My nachos looked classy…slightly fancier than what you’d get at a ballpark πŸ™‚

Pork Belly Nachos (minus the pork)!
Pork Belly Nachos (minus the pork)!

Even though they didn’t put my tofu cubes IN the nachos, I happily ate all eight cubes individually, appreciating the spices and texture of each boxy bite.

Spicy tofu cubes!
Spicy tofu cubes!

Without the pork belly, my nachos were comprised of crisped, puffed triangular tortilla chips (that were also slightly spiced), creamy queso, and fresh pico de gallo. I ate them by hand and with the help of a fork πŸ˜›

After lunch, my roommate and I parted ways. I headed to Sprouts for some grocery shopping, and even stopped at Bristol Farms to pick up some edible cookie dough for snacking later.

I made it home before my roommate did (haha), and dove into the cookie dough when I was all settled into my pjs, robe, and a collection of recorded tv shows I needed to catch up on.

Edoughble -
Edoughble – Chocolate Chip Off the Ol’ Block

Compared to the birthday cake flavor, I wasn’t a real fan of this chocolate chip one. It reminded me of the chocolate chip one by Cookie Dough Cafe, which I didn’t like that much…oh well!

Have you tried Trader Joe’s pretzel bagels or any of the Edoughble flavors?

If you ever had a roommate, were you friends/enemies?

TLT Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chilly Pepperminty

Chilly Pepperminty

It’s almost November, and it’s still hot here in Los Angeles. How is this possible? Was it really this hot last year around this time? I guess I’ve been too busy to notice lately!

I did have some time (surprisingly) last Friday to stop by the grocery store before heading home and spending a good night in. The week wasn’t as exhausting compared to the two weeks prior, but I always welcome a good break, no matter how small!

My Friday night in obviously also meant time to try a new ice cream—and Talenti Peppermint Bark fit the bill.

 Talenti Peppermint Bark
Talenti Peppermint Bark

Unfortunately, it seems like Talenti tends to melt pretty quickly compared to B&J’s. It took me about 40 minutes to walk home from the grocery store, and even after putting the gelato away in the freezer for less than a half hour, still turned out to be more like a peppermint-y milkshake pint. Which isn’t bad if you think about it, but when you plan an ice cream night, you expect ice cream πŸ˜›

I woke up on Saturday feeling refreshed at 7AM. I was in and out of lab before 1pm, and decided to head out to Westwood to get myself some shave ice to cool off from such a hot October day.

 Front of Chilly Ribbons.
Front of Chilly Ribbons.

Chilly Ribbons was my destination, and to my surprise, it was pretty empty for a late summer-esque afternoon.

 Pick your size, pick your toppings.
Pick your size, pick your toppings.

The guy behind the counter was very helpful, and explained that you pick your shave ice flavors and size, go to the topping bar for toppings, and then come back for the weigh-in and to pay for the frozen treat.

 What is shaved snow? Possibly the best thing to have on a too-hot day!
What is shaved snow? Possibly the best thing to have on a too-hot day!

I ended up going with a 7oz. medium cup with green tea and cake batter flavors. For my toppings, I added in strawberries, rainbow sprinkles for fun, cookie dough pieces, a random piece of grass jelly (that black thing), strawberry poppers, and mochi.

 Everything all mixed in and so good!!!
Everything all mixed in and so good!!!

I ate this inside, and tried to compare it to my shave ice experiences from long ago. Haha, neither were too long ago, but it was nice to once again get a hold of some shave ice!

 So much goodness packed in seven ounces!
So much goodness packed in seven ounces!

After cooling off, I attempted to go shopping but did not find anything worthy of bringing home to closet, haha. I left soon after since I had dinner and concert plans with a friend later that evening, and I wanted to have plenty of time to freshen up for that!

Chilly Ribbons Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charmed by Veggies

Charmed by Veggies

So even though I almost fell into a sugar coma on Sunday, I survived and managed to eat a little bit more “wholesome” in the days following (but I do think treating yourself to oreo pancakes once in a while is indeed part of a balanced and wholesome lifestyle πŸ˜‰ ).

After spending a few days with my Dad early last month, I didn’t think I’d see him again until my upcoming weekend trip to Nor Cal, but his job changed things up so that he was able to be in town again sooner—even if only for two days!

I met him after I was finished with my data analysis for the day in lab, and we were both feeling pretty beat from the day’s events. It was a mostly silent car ride due to us being so tired, but since we were on our way to dinner, we knew we’d both be in better, more energetic moods once out of traffic and when food was in our bellies.

Not having truly explored South Pasadena to its extent, I suggested we check out Charm Vegan there since our hotel was close by.

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We came in around 6PM, and were greeted by a friendly hostess who immediately handed us menus.

charm vegan

I was used to seeing the similar asian/vegan-fusion options, and worked harder to find the “unique” dish from the many choices listed.

charm vegan interior

To start off with, we had two avocado rolls wrapped with rice paper and stuffed with guac, green leaves, lettuce, and carrots.

My Dad ended up sticking with something tried and true (even though he was the one who suggested I find “something different” off the menu). ‘Pumpkin, Eggplant and Tofu’ is a trusty choice for a reason—-when you’ve got sauteed eggplant, pumpkin, and tofu smothered in garlic chili sauce, paired with some rice on the side, how can you go wrong πŸ˜‰ ?

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I did end up picking something different as my entree choice, looking at the Chef’s Specials for some guidance. I got the Sizzling Spare Ribs, made with soy protein and sauteed in a black bean sauce with onion, bell peppers, and carrots.

Since we ate family-style, my portions were quite the mix:

portioning it out

We were able to have a better conversation during dinner (when we weren’t stuffing our faces) and our energy levels were soon back up again. When we were about to leave after receiving our check, the hostess asked how we found out about their restaurant. My Dad just pointed to me, and I ended up saying “oh, online…”. The awkward moments of a foodie blogger πŸ˜›

At the hotel, we found more time to relax and recharge, and with my Dad’s help, I finally got my new phone to work! I “celebrated” with a pint of cookie dough Arctic Zero, and after showering, called it a day and went to sleep knowing that the next day would be another productive and exhausting one. 

The next day was a bit rushed all-around—I ended up starting in lab an hour later than usual, and didn’t finish my duties until late afternoon. I met my Dad again near campus, and we made our way to Sprouts so that I could pick up some produce for the rest of my week. We then parked at a Pavillions parking lot, where my Dad took a nap and I found a new-to-me pint to try and hold me over until dinner.

halo top vanilla bean

I couldn’t wait to dig in, and so since I was eating it in the parking lot, an older guy who was parked next to us and unloading groceries noticed my frozen treat and commented with a “that looks good!”. At least I wasn’t in the middle of taking a picture, but still…so awkward πŸ˜› !

But to be fair, the guy was right because this Vanilla Bean flavor of Halo Top Creamery’s ice cream pints was insanely delicious. And with 24 grams of protein in the entire pint, I’d say it was an appropriate dessert snack to consume before dinner. 

For dinner, we headed over to Veggie Grill since it was the last day to try their spring specials (at least according to an email I received). The one in Westwood was close by, but not in terms of traffic…

Even though it was only six miles away at the time, that doesn’t mean anything in LA during rush hour. We still went through with our dinner plans though, even though my Dad was now in a time crunch to make his flight!

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The inside looked relatively smaller compared to other Veggie Grills I’ve visited, but it made sense since it was nestled in a college-busy villa.

veggie grill westwood

I knew what to order right away, and asked for the banh mi salad at the counter. My Dad was pre-occupied with trying to figure out how to get to the airport on time, but his quick decision to get the bombay bowl was still a good one.

The wait seemed longer than usual due to the anxiety my Dad was feeling, but our dishes came within a time frame that allowed us to still dine in.

My banh mi salad was a beautiful mix of vegetables that included chargrilled eggplants, carrots, cabbage, jalapenos, and kale—topped with crispy cubes of organic tofu.

banh mih salad

I am a veggie lover for life, but the tofu pieces truly won me over this time around.

The Bombay Bowl my Dad took anxious bites out of was chock full of colorful herb-roasted veggies—something they left out when I first tried it a year ago. It was a shame that he couldn’t finish it due to time πŸ™

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In the end, he made his flight, and I didn’t have to take public transit home in order for him to do so. We also didn’t have to part with a goodbye since we would be seeing each other again soon enough—within days as a matter of fact πŸ˜‰

Do you find it hard to eat when you’re anxious/stressed, or does it make you hungrier?

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Race Recap: 30th ASICS LA Marathon

Race Recap: 30th ASICS LA Marathon

Ever since Sunday, I’ve been in ultimate bliss. Is that normal though? After all, I did subject myself to non-stop running for 4+ hours.

But yeah, I’d say it was a life-changing experience. No regrets here.

 The light at the end of the tunnel: sights seen after my marathon.
The light at the end of the tunnel: sights seen after my marathon.

The countdown to the race began the day before, since I had to make it to the expo at the LA Convention Center to grab by race packet and bib. Since the expo opened at 9am that morning, I wanted to get there as early as possible, and walked to the convention center from my apartment an hour earlier to account for waiting time, etc. 

I came in through a different entrance, and so even though I saw the “Welcome Runners” sign from a distance…

enteringtheexpo

…I was redirected to line up outside through another entrance.

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Even though the line looked incredibly long and made me wish I had come even earlier (or perhaps the day before…), the line started to move quickly once the doors “officially” opened at 9am.

Expo business went about as usual: I got my bib, race shirt, and made my way through the Asics pop-up shop in order to get to the actual vendor booths (and free samples!).

checkingoutexpo

I wasn’t able to find much in terms of take-home samples, but I did stop to write a note on the “memory wall”, check out the course route printed on another wall, and find my name mixed with other runners’ names on yet another wall…

la_marathon_expo

From the freebies I did manage to collect, I was able to grab some Nuun tablets, a free Megabus shirt, and some Larabar minis. The Clif bar tent had plenty of sample stations set up, but since they weren’t actually giving out packaged bars from what I could tell (just cut-up bars on toothpicks), I didn’t think it was worth standing in line. Plus, since the next day was obviously booked for me, I had to leave early in order to make sure I had enough time to get my domestic errands done (grocery shopping—ahh!).

After leaving the expo, the rest of the day was spent grocery shopping/taking public transit (because that sucks up a lot of time), and so I literally did not get home until 5pm. I was slightly concerned since I was out on my feet all day, doing plenty of walking under the hot sun, but I went ahead and quickly made a light dinner before resting up on the couch.

Around 8pm, I slowly began to gather my race day essentials, and got into bed at 8:30pm since my ride was picking me up at 3:15am. The plan was to park and catch the shuttle from Santa Monica to the starting line at Dodger’s Stadium.

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On race day morning, I woke up before my alarm could ring at 2:45am, quickly got dressed, and dashed out of my apartment to meet my ride downstairs. I was carpooling with two members of the team I was training with, and because of it was early morning on a Sunday, we had no traffic to fight.

We arrived and parked in Santa Monica a little after 3:30am, and had to walk over to where the shuttles were parked. A fellow runner was walking near us and commented that we wouldn’t need to warm-up before the race due to all the walking we already had to do!

Once we got on the shuttle, it was 4:00am. I began fueling with two Quest bars, and soon we were dropped off in front of Dodger’s Stadium.

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Since we had “lost” one of our carpoolers on another shuttle, my other carpool buddy and I waited outside for him. In the meantime, we collected some freebies (water bottle, Clif bar minis, Clif shot bloks (!!!) ), which I stashed for later.

After finding our teammate, we walked inside the stadium to see if we could find the rest of our teammates. We didn’t really have a designated meeting spot, but since we had team shirts, we assumed we’d be able to find “our people” as they walked in.

beforetherace

I continued to hydrate and fuel with two mini Larabars, and a mini Clif bar. More of our teammates arrived, and we found an area on the floor to sit and occupy so as not to tire our legs.

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Photographers came around and took our pictures. At one point, a man without a bib approached me and asked if I had an extra bib, which I found to be a strange thing to ask. But when he explained that he had arrived at the expo too late, and that the race organizers wouldn’t give him his bib since the expo was closing, I could understand his frustration and distress. Still, I didn’t just happen to have an extra bib lying around…

As time ticked closer to 6:00am, more and more of my teammates arrived, and soon we had enough members for a group picture. After getting our stuff checked in at bag check and using the porta-potties, our group shuffled with thousands of other runners to the starting line. A lot of us were first-time marathoners, so we didn’t have previous marathon times that would allow us to line up in Corrals A-E. Even though there was this separation between runners, I’m glad that I was still able to start with a group of familiar faces.

We gave eachother some last minute hugs and cheers, and soon we were off! I was able to run with two of my teammates (fellow ladies that “struggled” with me on a 13 mi LSD back in January) for the first mile, but they stopped to use a porta-potty after Mile 1, so from that point on, I was on my own for a while.

The course led us through Chinatown, DTLA, and Little Tokyo for the first couple miles. In all honesty, the first 10k breezed by like the cool breeze and overcast skies that blanketed over us runners (<— at least the weather was like this for the first quarter of the race…). There were plenty of distractions early on in the race too—everything from people preaching about the bible over megaphones, to taiko drums, to chili dogs being served by locals at the 5 mile mark!

Miles 7-13 didn’t fly by as quickly, but did pass by at a steady enough rate. I was still feeling pretty good, making sure to keep hydrated with my handheld water bottle. I also ran through misting machines, and dumped cups of water over my head at every chance I could get.

We passed through Echo Park and Silver Lake during these miles, and approached Hollywood and Vine at around Mile 11, where I began to start mid-run fueling with some fruit gummies I purchased the day before from Sprouts. I fueled with the same bag of gummies periodically between Miles 11-15, as things started to heat up at Mile 15.

In Beverly Hills, a spectator had a sign that said “Even Pretty Woman cried on Rodeo Dr.“, and this spectator was standing right as we turned the corner at Rodeo Dr.! It was fun being able to run past designer stores, but since the sun was starting to rise higher, the heat was beginning to set in. Fortunately, ice was starting to be provided at aid stations, so I grabbed a handful and stuffed some cubes in my mouth. I looked like a chipmunk at least up until Mile 16!

People I spoke to in the past said Century City is one of the most boring/hard-to-get-through areas, but there was a decent-sized crowd there this time around. Miles 20-22 near the VA/Westwood were incredibly tough on the other hand. My legs started to feel extremely sore, and people all around me were slowing down to a light jog, or to a pained walk. It was also the “driest” part of the race, since there were no water stations in sight, nor were there any misting machines.

I still didn’t want to stop the momentum, so I trucked on in light jogger mode, even though it felt like I was exerting so much energy just to move one step. At one point, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to run the last few miles of the race!

Fortunately, volunteers and spectators made their presence again once I got into Mile 22. Some were even holding out full packages of Clif shot bloks, which I grabbed from one of the volunteers with much gratitude. Since I wanted to finish the race running, I stuffed all six bloks just before Mile 23 to see if that would do the trick and bring me back up to speed.

And it just so happened that it worked! I felt my speed pick back up, and found a fellow teammate in the distance walking through a water station around Mile 24. When she saw me, she said “Ready? Let’s finish this,” and we began to match ourselves in stride and accelerate our pace. We were one and strong for the next two-ish miles. I even had enough energy to flash a smile at one of the race photographers in the middle of the road, just before we turned on Ocean Ave.

Mile 26 was the defining moment. I thought we would make it across the finish line together, but my teammate stopped to walk and encouraged me to keep going. It was the hottest stretch of the race since the sun was beating down with no mercy…and there was no ocean breeze whatsoever!

But I made it. And according to Mr. Garmin, I have a new long distance PR and marathon time of 4:36:56. The finisher’s area felt like such a long stretch, and I actually was walking for quite some time before being offered a medal. Then I was offered a heat sheet, cold + wet towels, water, snacks, and a finisher’s photo.

 Crowds in Santa Monica, after the race.
Crowds in Santa Monica, after the race.

I met some of my other teammates in the family reunion area off to one side of the finisher’s walk. We hugged and congratulated each other, commiserated about Miles 20-22, and commented about what a phenomenal experience this all was. A few of my teammates commented on how I didn’t even look tired, and found it humorous when I replied saying I felt “sorta sore”.

I sat with my team, and hugged/congratulated my other teammates as they joined our group with smiles on their faces. We sat around and chilled until 1pm, which was when we had enough people to carpool with back home.

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The traffic in Santa Monica was INSANE. We got to the car around 2pm, but didn’t even get on the highway until 3pm! By the time I got home, it was almost 4pm!! It was frustrating to have to push my marathon lunch plans forward as dinner plans, but I wasn’t going to let that bring me down from the happiness and accomplishment I gained from the glorious morning I had. Plus, I did get to celebrate with a superb veggie burger and exotic-flavored ice cream (more on that later πŸ˜‰ ), so I’m not complaining!

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I’m so happy that I made the decision to run 26.2 at this point in my life. The experience gave me the challenge I needed to take my long distance running and endurance to the next level, to treat my body with more respect in terms of fuel and strength, and it’s even made me more confident. I met a lot of great people by training with a team, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the support of my family and friends.

My Dad was glued to his computer, tracking me online. When I finished the race and checked my phone, there were about six messages from him with encouraging words as I progressed along the course at different times. Reading those messages made me feel so elated and loved, even though he was not physically there to give me bear hug at the end of the race (and to help me pick up some extra post-race freebies πŸ˜‰ ).

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My marathon withdrawls are not as strong as I thought they’d be, but I am taking it easy with the running for this week. My current plans are to continue as though I’m training for a marathon, making sure I maintain the endurance I’ve built up with those 13-20 mi LSD runs, but I think my current goal will be to work on a new half PR (sub 2:00 please!!). Next on the agenda, find some races…

Would you ever run a marathon?

How did you feel when you crossed the finish line of your first marathon?

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