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!

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).


Amazing Kamado rice (I had seconds).

Assorted fries (shrimp and pork tenderloins).

Grilled cod and a side of seaweed tukudani.


Sashimi in ponzu sauce.

Homemade tofu.

(Food) Marathon Weekend Part 2: Papa Hayden

Last weekend’s Portland Half Marathon was one of the most fun I’ve had in running races! There was absolutely no pressure for me to perform well (not that there ever is an expectation for a turtle like myself lol) and knowing that I was only doing this race purely for fun helped me relax and actually enjoy the experience. Thinking about all the delicious food I get to eat afterward also helped me stay super excited during the 13.1-mile run.

My time is not considered great at 2 hours and 51 minutes, but I was extremely pleased with the result since all I wanted was to run under three hours. But more so than time, I was delighted with the way I felt during and after the race. My feet felt lighter than usual and I felt like I had some energy left even after I crossed the finish line, which made me believe that I can shave off a few minutes on my next half marathon in two weeks.

I think it really helped that I trained for this race for the last eight weeks (unlike my last Portland Marathon), logging about 15 to 20 miles per week. I didn’t necessarily follow any formal training, but my friends Tiffany, Shannon, and I were good with doing mid-week runs at Rose Bowl. Having great running buddies really does make a difference! I am so thankful for the lovely ladies for pushing me to lace up my running shoes, even when I was feeling incredibly lazy and unmotivated!

My fiancé and Maya were waiting for me at the finish line which made me incredibly happy. After I took pictures with the medal and relaxed a little, we invited Tiffany and Jesse for brunch at Papa Hayden.

I was hungry but my body was a bit too tired to eat a heavy dish like Eggs Benedict (that almost everyone at the table ordered), so I settled for a shrimp salad and French onion soup that my fiancé and I shared. The soup was amazing, with the perfect amount of cheese melted on top, but the salad was just okay. I wish I ordered a waffle or bread pudding that caught my eyes in the beginning.

The desserts were absolutely fantastic, as usual. My favorite was Baked Alaska. The airy and sugary meringue certainly hit the sweet spot for me. Although the desserts were meant to be shared, I think I polished the plates all by myself! But that’s okay because I just run a half marathon!  And I intend to use the excuse for at least the next several weeks … or even months. twisted

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!

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. 🙂

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

Carb-Loading at Mother’s Bistro!

mothers restaurantRight after we returned home from a fun-filled weekend in Vegas, my boyfriend and I repacked our luggage to fly to Portland — this time for the Portland Marathon! (Wow, I’ve traveled to three cities in mere two weeks and more to come ahead!)

Running the marathon in the Rose City has become an annual event for me ever since I participated in the race last year and had a blast (although that wasn’t how I remembered it when I was running / walking in the pouring rain 😯 ).  The race also gives me an excuse to visit my best friend Maya and spend a lovely weekend with my boyfriend in the scenic Pacific Northwest, so with the exception of the 26.2-mile self torture that I have to endure, this is a dream mini-vacation for me.

We arrived to PDX early on Saturday and after we checked into the hotel, picked up the race bib, did some retail therapy at the expo, and had a quick brunch, we rested at the hotel until Maya met us for dinner.  We walked over to one of my favorite comfort food restaurants a few blocks away, Mother’s Bistro.

I usually make a point not to blog about a restaurant I previously talked about but this place is an exception (this is my third time writing about this place — here and here).  Mother’s Bistro is not the most extravagant joint in the culinary-rich Portland food scene, and there are, admittedly, other restaurants that I love more (alas Paley’s Place), but it always hits the spot for me.  It’s comfortable, cozy and warm – just the way I like it.

mothers food
Clockwise from top left: Lamb skewer (daily special), Carlton Farms Pork Loin Medallions, Mother’s Macaroni & Cheese Du Jour, and Chicken & Dumplings

I was hoping for a pasta or other carbohydrate-rich menu options but there weren’t any so I settled for a plate of pork loin medallions with mashed potato (carb!) and vegetables.  I took a bite of my boyfriend’s Mac and Cheese Du Jour (tonight’s was Mexican style), and loaded up on rice pudding (which also became my breakfast on the marathon day)!  Everything was delicious, as always, especially the desserts.  You just can’t go wrong here.  Oh, how I wish I can just pluck this restaurant and take it home with me to Los Angeles!

mothers desserts
Pear Huckberry Tart and Bread Pudding

I know I indulged, but there has got to be something good that comes out of running a 26.2-mile monster the next day, right? By the way, the only reason why you see an empty restaurant on the top photo was because we were the last ones to leave.  Trust me, this place is packed 24/7 (but definitely worth the wait).

Mother’s Bistro
212 SW Stark, Portland, OR 97204