Cheering at the LA Marathon


Congratulations to all the marathoners who completed the LA Marathon!  Joseph, my former running buddy, Tiffany, and I didn’t run the race this year but went out to the race course to cheer the runners and walkers on at Mile 11, on the corner of Hollywood and Highland.  We took the Metro Red Line from the Universal City station so we didn’t have to worry about traffic or parking.  Easy peasy.

After we spotted our friends, we walked to Mel’s Drive In for breakfast.  As much as I like to enter races and feel the sense of accomplishment when I cross the finish line, I was very glad that I was on the other side this year.  You need to be 100% committed to run a marathon and my heart wasn’t in it this year.  Hopefully I’ll be back next year!

After I returned, I packed up my bag to take the red eye to Chicago for work.  I squeezed in one last juice before I left.  I’ll be looking to Naked Juices to keep my juicing on track during the business trip!

Reflections

Breakfast (9:00 a.m.): Freshly-squeezed orange juice! Oranges came from my parents’ backyard. Tastes so much better than the grocery store kind.

Smoked salmon sandwich with onion slices, which looked like Rango.

Lunch (12:30 p.m.): My favorite onion salad with smoked salmon and avocado, accompanied by sourdough break toasts. I love Hojicha.

Snack (4:30 p.m.): Had the leftover Hawaiian plate from yesterday — marinated short ribs, rice, and some vegetables. I also had three scoops of strawberry ice cream … a total emotional eating.  I lost control.

Dinner (8:30 p.m.): Leftover onion salad from lunch, and a sandwich (same as breakfast).  I’m eating way too much.  I wonder if I’m depressed …

Yesterday’s half marathon made me fall in love with the city of Pasadena all over again. It’s a breathtaking little place, with so many historical beauty sandwiched between modern trends. Aside from having to walk about 1.5 miles to get to the starting line, the event was well organized (with lots of porta potties) and it was great participating in the race.

Every race is such a learning experience for me, and I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect …

  • Hydration: I got muscle cramps in several parts of my body, including Charley Horse at Mile 8 (eeek). I think it had to do with the constant inclines but it was also because I didn’t hydrate properly the night before. Drink more, stretch more. Yoga, here I come.
  • The Mental Game: During the latter part of the race (from Mile 9), I got weak and just gave up running altogether. I need to stay strong and motivated throughout the entire race, not just in the beginning. If I really, really tried, I know that I could have shaved at least five minutes, just on the last two miles alone.
  • Excuses: During Miles 10, 11, and 12, I found myself spending all my energy coming up with excuses as to why I couldn’t finish under three hours. Instead, I should have just ran.
  • Hills: I love hills …. I love hills … I love hills. I’m going to turn myself into a hill-loving machine!
  • Training: I need to do more … enough said.

Pasadena Rock and Roll Half Marathon

Another wonderful day – completed the Pasadena Rock and Roll Half Marathon with Tiffany and Shannon. Shannon ran her first running race, Tiffany reached her PR, and I survived the hills. YAY! The two rice balls I had for breakfast really helped me during the latter part of the race.

Lunch (12:00 p.m.): Hawaiian feast at Aloha Food Factory for the post-race celebration. The Macadamia pancake we shared hit the spot.

I ordered the Kalbi plate but I think my eyes were bigger than my stomach, especially after the run when your body is too tired to digest. I hardly made a dent on my lunch.

Dinner (7:30 p.m.): After every race, I go to a grocery store and allow myself to purchase anything I want. Instead of picking up all the junk foods, my body wanted the onion, avocado, and smoked salmon salad (my staple) with sourdough bread. So, that’s what’s for dinner! I had a glass of red wine to toast for the accomplishment!

I allowed myself to have a few scoops of Haagen-Dazs ice cream (vanilla beans and strawberry).

Time to relax and enjoy the evening!

I Eat, Therefore I Run

Lunch (1:00 p.m.): Lunch with Tiffany, Shannon, and Roya, at Le Pain Quotidien, after we picked up the race packet for tomorrow’s Pasadena Rock and Roll Half Marathon. Cob salad with grilled chicken (no blue cheese). Cup of coffee with cream and sugar.

Dinner (6:00 p.m.): Carb-load dinner at Torafuku with Tiffany, Shannon, and Saori.  Torafuku Omakase ($27).

Salad.

Amazing Kamado rice (I had seconds).

Assorted fries (shrimp and pork tenderloins).

Grilled cod and a side of seaweed tukudani.

Sashimi.

Sashimi in ponzu sauce.

Homemade tofu.

LA Marathon in Rain?

I completed the Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday! YAY! This was my second LA marathon and my fifth marathon since I started my running endeavors in 2005. Although every marathon is different and each brings unique and special memories, I must say that this one is a race I won’t soon forget!

Los Angeles may have its share of earthquakes and high-speed car chases but the last thing people would expect from this city is a bad weather. Unfortunately, against all odds, the 23-plus thousand people who participated in the Sunday’s race were met with the severe rain and winds, making this race very, very ugly. Just image someone carrying a showerhead and pouring cold water on you for hours while you run! By Mile 4, my clothes and shoes were drenched in cold water, and forget about trying to look cute in front of photographers! All I wanted to do was just put one foot in front of the other and finish the run / walk as quickly as possible, while trying not to slip and fall flat on my face. We should have gotten a medal for finishing a bi-athlon because there was definitely some swimming involved!

Although my latest LA Marathon experience was miserable, that does not mean that I didn’t love the race itself. The course took runners from the Dodger’s Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier with famous landmarks at virtually every mile! My favorite parts were running through Silverlake and checking out restaurants, and hi-fiving cross-dressing cheerleaders in West Hollywood. I am amazed and thankful for the volunteers who came out to provide us water, Gatorade and cheered us on, despite the weather!

This year, I participated in the run with the LA Road Runners, an official LA Marathon running group that helps beginner, intermediate, and advance runners train for the race. My sister also ran with them with the faster group.  There are numerous running groups (from serious runners to recreational walkers) and experienced Pace Leaders lead each group every Saturday for six months. I ran with one of the run / walk groups (Run / Walk 3) and I had an absolute blast. I missed lots of the Saturday long runs but my team members were all wonderful and they truly made this experience the most memorable one! It was truly an amazing experience meeting them and training with them. I will definitely be back next season! Meeting them alone made all the water puddles and muscle cramping during the race all worth it.

I’m not sure what the shelf life is for an excuse “I just ran a marathon” before I have to walk away from junk food but I’m going to use it as long as I can. So far, I’ve had three pieces of Domino’s pizza, Buffalo wings, two cream puffs, and a handful of Nilla Wafers. I will start eating healthy again, but I’m going to milk this for just a little longer.

Carb Load Paradise: Torafuku

Last week’s Los Angeles marathon was such an amazing journey for me, perhaps the most memorable amongst the three previous races. The last three were marvelous too, of course, but this one was particularly significant for several reasons.

First and foremost, this was my sister and my first full marathon together. We didn’t run together during the race but we shared the stress before the race, and the celebration afterward. And thanks to her expert guidance, I was able to cross the finish line safe and completely blister free (this was a pleasant surprise, especially after I suffered a blister on my foot the size of Texas after my last marathon). We ran together a lot during our weekly personal training session and she corrected my form frequently. I have no doubt that that was the reason I was able to complete the race completely injury free!  I’m sending a big thank you and an even bigger congratulations to my sister for completing her first full marathon! biggrin

The second reason why this race meant so much was because I met my “marathon angel.” Let me explain. When I was at the starting line at Dodger’s Stadium waiting for the race to start, I met this gentleman and started up a conversation. He was a soft-spoken, kind man, in his 60s. We parted ways when the race began but we found each other at mile 6 and ran together for about seven miles. We pushed each other, cracked a few jokes along the way, and encouraged each other to keep going. At around Mile 16, I got the second wind of energy and he wanted to slow down the pace a bit, so we parted ways, promising to see each other at the finish line. Unfortunately, our paths didn’t cross again but I will always think of him as my marathon angel because I would have never been able to enjoy the run as much as I did without his presence. I searched for his results afterward and saw that he crossed the finish line about 10 minutes after me. I hope I run into him again at other local races someday so I can congratulate him, and thank him for his kindness. 🙂

Last but not least … the carb load!  As you know, the marathon experience is never complete without a proper carb load the night before the race. After we went to the Expo to pick up our bibs, grab some freebies, and drive around the racecourse, my sister, friend N, and I headed over to Torafuku on Pico in Los Angeles (next to Westside Pavilion) to load up on its famous white rice cooked with an iron metal pot called “kamado.” I had not been here before but have heard the buzz around it for a while now so I was very excited to check the place out.

I knew I had to keep the dinner fairly light to be in the best condition for the next day’s race but when I saw the Fried Assortment of shrimp, katsu (pork tenderloin), and croquette, I had to have them (what marathon?).

The white rice was delightful. It was not sticky like the ones I was accustomed to, and each rice grain had a wonderful bite to it.  And the fried shrimp, pork, and croquette were perfectly golden, unbelievably crispy, not at all greasy.  We made our dinners into a combo by adding $6 and got a bowl of rice and miso soup in return.  It’s not a bad deal, considering I had just experienced one of the most delicious rice I’ve ever tasted! 🙂

My sister ordered the grilled Jidori free-range chicken which was flavored very simply with salt …

And N ordered Black Cod Fillet which were perfectly oily and subtly sweet.  Delicious!

We all ended up ordering another bowl of rice each with dinner. My sister and I took a few rice balls to go to eat for breakfast the next day. They were pretty steep in price at about $5 each but I truly believe it was the salmon and mentaiko rice balls that gave me the bust of energy at the latter part of the race!

Torafuku
10914 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles,CA 90064
★★★★★

A Date with My Body: LA Marathon

My body and I went on a 26.2-mile adventure on Sunday, running and walking through the streets of Los Angeles with 25,000 fellow participants of the LA Marathon. Although I was in the sea of runners for many, many hours during the race, I felt like my body and I were alone, talking, laughing, and learning about each other. My body is someone I’ve spent the last 30-something years with, 24-7, but I felt like I still learned a new thing or two about her that day. I love her. I really, really love her and appreciate her for everything that she does for me, every day. She is tough, tenacious, thoughtful, generous, patient and very forgiving. I am so happy that I get to spend the rest of my life with my body. She is truly my best friend and I promise to take care of her for the rest of our lives.

We headed over to a local grocery store after the marathon,  and I gave my body permission to eat whatever she wants in the entire store.  I thought she would grab a pint of Hagen Daaz or a huge bag of chocolate-covered pretzels, but instead, we walked out with three grapefruits, two mangoes, a jar of peanut butter, a bottle of pomegranate juice, and spicy tuna roll with brown rice. I will admit that I was a little shocked by her selection … but she did walk out with two bottles of red wine. That’s my girl. 🙂

13.1 Los Angeles Half Marathon

I’m not a competitive person by nature. In fact, I hate confrontations. I’m more of the “let me make you dinner and make up” type of person. While I think those people who always feel like they need to win or have the last word to be a bit of a self-righteous wacko, I envy them a little because they have the balls to stand up for what they think are theirs to claim.

I know that my lack of competitiveness comes directly from my lack of self-confidence. Being competitive means that I would face a greater chance of failure, which could reinforce the little voice in my head that says, “I’m not good enough.” Being competitive also means that I truly need to trust in myself and believe that I am capable of achieving greatness … and I don’t think I’m there yet.

I ran a half marathon over the weekend with my sister and her running friends. It was Inaugural 13.1 Los Angeles Half Marathon that took runners through the streets of Santa Monica, Venice, and Culver City, under the sunny Southern California sun (one of those moments that I truly am thankful for living in Los Angeles). Although it was an inaugural event, I was impressed at how organized the race was with plenty of water and Gaderate stations, and most importantly, plenty of porta-potties! Oh, and check out the finisher’s medal — it’s a serious bling and one of the best-looking medals I’ve received in races!

This was my sister’s first half marathon and she finished the race at 2:01 (two hours and one minute). My sister, always the ultra competitive one, was kicking herself after the race because she missed her goal by mere seconds (her goal was to cross the finish line in less than two hours). Mind you, this is an amazing time, like, really, really fast! (Just to put it in perspective, I ran my race in two hours and 54 minutes and I thought I was going pretty darn fast!) Watching my sister stress over few seconds, a part of me thought, “Is she crazy? I can only dream of running that fast,” but later realized that this is what being competitive is all about. Competitiveness is not about being self-righteousness or wacky; rather it’s about believing in yourself, and constantly striving for improvement. Watching my sister, I knew that she would use this experience as the stepping stone to reach for her goal of a sub-2 race in the future. And I know she will get there.  She really sparked a fire in me yesterday! She is truly inspiring.

Motivated by my sister, I’ve decided that my new running goal is to give myself a little more credit and believe in her that she is capable of taking me to the next level. I truly love and thank my body for taking me on the 13.1-mile journey yesterday and staying with me every step of the way. I had a wonderful three hours with you and I can’t wait for our next outing! I will make sure to push you a little bit more (because I know you like that!) even if my little mind tries to tell me otherwise … because I know I am capable for going further!

So, the next time some a-hole cuts me in line at a supermarket, maybe I will flip a bird and tell him off, just to show that I am not afraid to stand up for what’s right … or not. 😆

I Eat, Therefore, I Run: Hodori Korean Restaurant

stuff 004I am fascinated with running the way teenage girls are obsessed with becoming a cheerleader. I think about it all the time, daydream about running like a Kenyan, and I even find myself staring at runners as I drive by local parks or running tracks. I read a bunch of running and marathon books and I even watch high school track meets on television. Then why is it that, with such deep admiration I have for the sport, I still have difficulty putting on a pair of Asics and hitting the pavement? Perhaps it’s the “idea” of running that I am in love with, and not the actual, physical aspect of the sport. Or maybe it’s just pure laziness (oh my gosh, had I turned into one of those annoyingly gluttonous sports fans who scream at the TV screen while sitting around on the couch with a bucket of hot wings?). Whatever the reason, it is about to change!

marathon guide coverI made a commitment to finally turn my running life around by sticking to a regular training program to ready myself for the Los Angeles Marathon in March. This time, it’s for real. No more lame excuses on why I can’t get my lazy butt off the couch. I’m going to do this, and I’ve decided to cherish the journey along the way. I suppose I’m one of the few people who does this in reverse. While people make the commitment first and train for the marathon, I completed the marathon and made a commitment. I think running the marathon in Portland earlier this month made me respect the race even more, and made me fall in love like I never thought I could.

The training I selected is based on the book, The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer, written by three coaches who teach a highly successful 16-week marathon class at University of Northern Iowa. I’ve had this book for a while and after sampling other books and marathon programs for beginners, I found this to be the most appropriate for my physical level. The book is a little text heavy but it contains valuable information about training your mind and body for the 26.2-mile run.

To kick-start my new found commitment, I participated in Nike Human 10K Race last weekend, running around the USC campus at midnight with thousands of other insane runners in Los Angeles. The race was particularly enjoyable because I got to run with 20 or so of my sister’s running friends who were very kind, welcoming and full of endorphin-charged energy! I had a strong 6.2-mile run and afterward, a group of us went out for a very late supper at Hodori, an all-night Korean diner on Olympic and Vermont, to celebrate our recent accomplishments.

Hodori restaurant

It has been more than a decade since my crazy days of partying until a crack of dawn and dashing to Fred’s or Canter’s to recover from excess drinking, but sitting at a diner at 3:00 a.m. surrounded by a bunch of boys and girls reminded me of the good old days as a wee 20-something. I think it’ll be another 10 years until I would be out this late again, but it certainly made me feel a little young at heart!

Hodori banchan
Who needs a cup of coffee to keep you awake when you have spicy plates of banchan to provide some kick?

Hodori soup
Dumplings and Rice Cakes in Beef Broth for me … delicious 🙂

Hodori hot soup
Yook Gae Jiang — a fire-ry soup! 😈

Hodori Soontofu
Spicy Soft Tofu — like chicken soup for a tired (and sleepy) body!

If nothing else, delicious food after a run should motivate me to commit to running. My new motto in life should be, “I eat, therefore, I run.” 😆

Hodori Korean Restaurant
1001 S. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA
★★★☆☆

Portland Marathon!

portland marathonI must be the luckiest person in the world. The luckiest, in that I did everything I wasn’t supposed to do when running a marathon, and still managed to cross the finish line injury free and still smiling.

I’ve learned early on that marathon is such an honest sport, that it gives back what you put in. This means that the strengths you gain from each step you take during training is what is going to help break through the “wall” and guide you to the finish line. But silly me, I didn’t train whatsoever for the race. The typical training schedule requires that you run at least three times a week, with one long run on a weekend (usually leading up to 18 miles or more) but my frequent travel and laziness prevented me from hitting the pavement on a regular basis. The longest run during training was eight and I barely ran once a week … and that is really, really bad.

Second, it is a cardinal rule that you do not wear brand new outfits to a race. It is recommended that you wear something your body is already familiar with, to avoid any potentially unpleasant incidents like chaffing. Silly me again, I wore my spanking new yellow shirt and Capri-type pants I picked up at the Nike store the other day.

Third, I was supposed to eat pasta and carbohydrate-rich food the night before, drink lots of water to properly hydrate, and go to bed early. Instead, I chomped down on pork tenderloin and stayed up late.

Despite all my flaws, what I’m most appreciative of is the fact that my body stayed with me throughout the journey. My legs were so strong and powerful that they push me forward. My knees were so unselfish, that despite the extra poundage, they still let me go from one place to another with occasional skips and hops. Despite the years I neglected them from smoking, my lungs still stuck by me and allowed  me to take in the deliciously fresh Oregon air. My heart, broken several times, still beat in rhythmic melody, bringing music to my life. As I ran and walked the 26.2 miles, I talked to my body parts, thanking them for believing in me and always staying with me. They carried me through the marathon, and in life, and realized that it is, at last, my time to give back to my best friend and return the unconditional love.

portland marathon medalMy sister, who is also my personal trainer and my rock, suggested that I make a commitment and “marry” my body, just like I would with someone I love. This means that I would take care of it by loving every part of it, and feeding it with healthy nourishment – in both food and thoughts. With the marriage, I make a promise to be true, through good and bad, in sickness and in health, richer or poorer. And, especially after feeling the love it has for me, I can only say … I do.

The marathon was particularly touching because my friends Maya, Tiffany, and Ted, along with my boyfriend, were all cheering for me at the finish line. I had to hold back tears when I turned the corner and saw their smiling faces. And even though they were not here in Portland physically, I knew that my family was cheering for me from sunny California.

I am the luckiest person in the world.