Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Last Entry of 2009

I am revising a post I had that rehashed 2009 and forecasted 2010. This past year has seemed very long, but perhaps "long" just means "eventful." You can scan my 2009 Archives for specifics, as I have been relatively active on this blog this year. The biggest thing that happened this year, which was left surprisingly undocumented (probably due to privacy), was my sister's wedding. It was the first wedding in the family, so now I've got my first brother-in-law and auntie prospects. =)

I'm counting down the hours until I will be done with my current job for good. This is the third time I've had to "pack up and leave" this year (did I already mention how LONG this year has been?). As they say, I am sooooo over it here, but in an effort not to burn bridges, I will say no more about that.

The biggest lesson I've learned this year, one that I will still be trying to learn and practice in 2010, is to relax and enjoy the ride of life. I have always been plagued by worry -- worrying about money and especially what my parents thought of me. That worry and guilt kept me from doing so many things, but I'm nearly 25 now. My life belongs to me. So as long as I know that my parents don't have specific things they need me to do, I am not going to sweat pleasing them. In fact, I don't think that staying away from things that might make me happy would be pleasing, anyway. Over time, they have accepted and/or supported my endeavors, which is what parents should do, right?

In general, I want to have more fun when I race in 2010. I know I often come into races with an ache, not enough sleep, or some other factors that make them seem like a chore, but that's only because I was putting pressure on myself to do well. First of all, doing all those races is already quite a feat. I often forget that it is, until people bring it up in this "OMG, you're crazy" tone. Secondly, as I have said many times, running is only a hobby of mine, an excuse to go places, and a motivation to keep my overall fitness. Before running, I am an aspiring doctorate and a burgeoning career-woman, as well as a daughter, big/little sister, and girlfriend. My last race of 2009 was great in that I put most of those worries behind me and just ran with the intention to finish and put no real pressure on myself. I just wanted to get away from the stresses of life and have a good time. And I did pretty darn well.

I've come a long way since Y2K, and I feel old just being able to remember the night 1999 became 2000. In the past decade, I graduated from high school, college, and got my masters and have worked many odd jobs (and ran 14 half-marathons, 4 marathons, and handful of smaller races... but have only had 2 boyfriends). I've grown up in many ways, as is to be expected. Come next decade, I expect that I will be in my mid-thirties, possibly "married with children," and frown upon people calling me "doc."

But I'm getting ahead of myself. 2010 will be yet another busy year, and an important one at that. My main goals (besides what I mentioned earlier) are pretty obvious: progress in school and career. Yes, the "management-by-objectives" paradigm seated within me is whincing at these "non-SMART" goals (i.e., not specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, or time-bound). Other things I want to do are to keep racing, read more non-management books, become more aware of the world, watch less "junk TV," cook more, and take better care of my health. These are all things I had been doing in 2009 and just want to intensify in the upcoming year.

So I guess this is it, 2009. I feel like since this is the end of a decade, that a true new chapter of life is beginning. I am inspired to face 2010 and all the challenges it has in store for me.

Speaking of which, I need to go buy my textbooks.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Asian Spammers

I'm back with a brief post... I've tightened the security settings on my Comments in hopes that I won't be getting so many messages like the one you see here.

I'm still alive, closing out the last few days at my current job. I also got approval from two senior vice-presidents at my company to run my dissertation study once I'm ready. Great to get my name out there for when I make it... big!

I had a great Christmas and made out with some really cool loot from my sisters (you may be hearing about them in future posts). We celebrated my younger sister's 20th birthday, and tonight, I will be off to celebrate my best friend's 25th. I know that 2010 will be another busy year, so I'm trying my best to relax as much as possible and enjoy these last few days of '09.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge (HBBC) 2009

Run to Finish is hosting the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge again, and this time it's running from November 23 to January 8. This is a good way to keep me motivated (besides the Pile on the Miles-POTM) during what seems like already a stressful time. And prize eligibility is a plus!

Basically, I must keep track of points. Again, I will be tracking my activities below.

1 Point per mile (run/walk/snowshoe)
1 Point per 3 miles biked
1 Point per 30 minutes of weight lifting, Pilates, yoga, stretching or abs
1 Point per 15 minutes of another form of cardio (i.e. kick boxing, aerobics elliptical)
1 Per day where you reach a minimum of 7 servings of fruits and veggies

------

11/23 - 8 mi run (8 pts), 4 mi of biking (1 pt), 15 min weights/abs (.5 pt), food [banana, apple, salad greens, a lot of salsa, orange, guacamole] (1 pt) = 10.5 pts
11/24 - 4.5 mi run (4.5 pts), 3 mi biking (1 pt), 30 min circuits (2 pts), food - didn't quite make the quota... = 7.5 pts
11/27 - 6 mi run (6 pts) = 6 pts
Week Total: 24 pts

11/30 - 4 mi run (4 pts), 12 mi bike (4 pts), 15 min weights (.5 pts), food [banana, apple, Asian veggies, celery, potato, dried fruit, tropical fruit] - 1 pt = 9.5 pts
12/1 - 45 min circuits (3 pts), 3 mi run (3 pts), food [potato, big salad - prob 4 servings, apple, Asian veggies] (1 pt) = 7 pts
12/2 - 3 mi run (3 pts), 15 mi bike (5 pts), food [apple, watercress salad x 2, Asian veg soup, teriyaki veg x 2, potato] (1 pt) = 9 pts
12/3 - 2 mi run (2 pts), 3 mi bike (1 pt) = 3 pts
12/4 - 2 mi walk (2 pts)
Week Total: 30.5

12/6 - 26.2 mi run = 26 pts
12/7 - bike 3 mi (1 pt), food [apple, banana, lettuce, salsa, guac, 2x tomato soup] (1 pt) = 2 pts12/8 - 30 min circuits (1 pt), 3 mi bike (1 pt), food [Asian veggies 2x, apple, 2 servings of salad, crudites, mango] (1 pt) = 3 pts
12/8 - 30 min circuits (2 pts), 30 min bike (1 pt) = 3 pts
12/9 - food [2x crudites, apple, banana, fruit salad, apple/persimmon, potatoes] 1 pt, 30 min elliptical (2 pts), 30 min bike/run attempt (1 pt) = 3 pts
12/10 - run 3 mi (3 pts); bike 3 mi (1 pt), walk 2 mi (2 pts) = 6 pts
12/12 - walk 2 mi (2 pts); veggie soup, BIG salad (Souplantation), pickled veggies = 1 pt = 3 pts
Week Total: 44 pts

12/14 - 6.2 mi run (6 pts), 6 mi bike (2 pts) (doing really poorly in the veggie dept!) = 8 pts
12/15 - 2 mi run (2 pts), 40 min circuits (2 pts), 3 mi bike (1 pt) = 5 pts
12/16 - 9 mi bike (3 pts), 30 min elliptical (2 pts), 15 min weights/abs (1 pt) = 6 pts
12/17 - 6 mi run-estimated (6 pts)
12/18 - 45 min circuits (3 pts), bike 9 mi (3 pts) = 6 pts
Week Total: 31 pts

12/22 - 5k run (3 pts), 6 mi bike (2 pts), 40 min circuits (2 pts) = 7 pts
12/23 - 6 mi run (6 pts) , 3 mi bike (1 pt) = 7 pts
12/24 - 4.5 mi run (4 pts)
12/26 - 4.5 mi run (5 pts, considering the last run)
Week Total: 23 pts

12/28 - run 10 mi (10 pts)
12/29 - run 2 mi (2 pts); 45 min circuits (3 pts); 3 mi bike (1 pt) = 6 pts
12/30 - run 3 mi (3 pts), bike 6 mi (2 pts) = 5 pts
Week Total: 21 pts (yes, I was lazy this past weekend!)

1/4 - run 6 mi (6 pts), bike 3 mi (1 pt); food [carrot juice x2, banana, Asian veggies, pineapplex2 (1 pt) = 8 pts
1/5 - 30 min circuits (2 pts); run 6 mi (6 pts); food (I had a ton of fruit today, and a salad, so I am positive I met my 7 servings!) (1 pt) = 9 pts
1/6 - 20 min circuits (1 pt), run 3 mi (3 pts), 6 mi bike (2 pts), = 6 pts
1/7 - 20 min circuits (1 pt)
1/8 - 45 min circuits (3 pts), 6 mi bike (2 pts) = 5 pts
Week Total: 29 pts (Note: Wish I could count 1/9!)

Grand Total: 202.5

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Vapur: The Anti-Bottle

I gave Vapur water bottles to a bunch of people for Christmas, because I kept feeling so untrendy still drinking out of a plastic water bottle.

I'm sure you've heard about the energy costs to make/ship water bottles, in addition to potentially dangerous chemicals contained by them. I never took heed to any of that, but I thought I'd at least try something new. Either way, I am a huge water-bottle user, so even if I can just have a convenient water bottle like Vapur, a new habit might be worth undertaking.

The "bottles" are flexible and basically come flat. When filled with water, it expands to a point where it is able to stand on its own. It holds about the same amount as a normal bottle but stands slightly taller than them.

It comes with a sport-type (aka, squirty) cap. It claims to be easy to keep clean and able to be rolled up upon completion. It even comes with a belt-loop clip. These functions seem to work for me, though it will take a while to see if I will get used to this in my purse.

Obviously, I will not take it to the park on my runs, but at my desk at work, going out, and even on the treadmill, I can see myself using this bottle. I'm sure I will get many curious questions about it, and I'll be happy to share the info about it and its cause.

------

Link: http://vapur.us/

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Random Photo Entry 7: Nerd Mode

It's been a while since I've posted a random photo entry, so here's my latest:


Above: I'm spending a bit of today and tomorrow working on my dissertation and e-learning stuff for my second job. Don't get me wrong -- I still did my daily gym-time, but the theme of today and tomorrow should be... productivity. So the question is here... do these glasses make me look smart? Why do people get that impression even when I'm not wearing them? I'd rather be known as athletic, just to move away from my abysmal geekiness of yore.


Above: A vegan spinach lasagna is currently sitting in "The Ukrainian's" oven. Well, I lied. The one in this picture, which I made in October, is vegan and was miiiggghty delicious, mind you. However, this time I put ground turkey meat in half of it to make it more man-friendly.


Above: Last month, I also made some pumpkin-ginger muffins, which we ate with pumpkin butter from Trader Joe's. This stuff is WAY sweeter than apple butter and is a great, great holiday treat. Anyone who knows me know that I am a sucker for pumpkin things!


Above: I also spent some time decorating "The Ukrainian's" house for the Fall. I've fallen behind on the wagon with the Christmas decor, so I think the next change-up will be winter, once I have paid my tuition and am out of dire monetary shortage.


Above: Jerry's Dogs salad. I went during a carbo-loading period thanks to my co-workers, Chris and Randy (I'll miss you two!). Yes, this wood-fired wiener place offers a salad (for relatively cheap!) and will top it with whatever they would normally place on a hot dog. This includes grilled onions, red onions, pickles, Italian dressing, cranberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, and PINE NUTS. I only finished half, but this was after hawking off some fries from my co-worker. Oh yes, and they give you a pail of peanuts to munch on while waiting. I only had one.


Above: Finally, here are some crackers that came from home. Who wouldn't want to eat such cheery snacks?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mission Skincare Anti-Friction Cream

I was really skeptical of the effectiveness of this cream when I used it the morning of my recent marathon. It was a sample that was included in our race packets at the Expo.

My skepticism came from the relative thin-ness of the cream. It felt literally like a cream. This is in constrast to Aquaphor, which feels very thick and Vaseline-like. I put the Mission Cream on the susceptible parts of my body as shown:
Gotta love the depiction, huh? Basically, this stuff went under my arms and between my upper thighs. Surprisingly, I still had some leftover in the small packet. I caught "The Ukrainian" using the rest of it, which I had left on the bathroom counter, in addition to his.

The end result? For the first time ever, no post-marathon chafe-pain! This could be due to the vast amount of clothing I was wearing, or the fact that I probably wasn't as sweat-drenched as usual, but "The Ukrainian" reported that he didn't chafe on his ankle (from his shoes rubbing against it). So the verdict between the two of us is that this stuff is effective!

See the link below for more information. A nice-sized bottle (and I seem to not use much at a time) runs for $12.95.
------
Link: http://www.missionskincare.com/product/highperformance-antifriction-cream.html

Winter Misery One-Miler


RunningLaur is hosting another virtual race! To see other virtual races, click here to see everything I've tagged as a "pseudo race report."

When I first saw this, I was thinking, Okay, one mile? That will be cake, and I can bust out many of these. But then I realized that I will be at Mammoth Mountain on this day. Due to finances and simple lack of will, I am not planning on snowboarding with "The Ukrainian," so while he's out doing that, I was thinking about venturing out for a short (one-mile!) run.

I have never, ever run in snow before, and I know this will require extra precaution. I will post my findings (he he) below!

On a related note, I don't find winter miserable at all. Summer is my worst enemy. Whereas one can do something about being cold, nothing short of standing in front of a freezer all day can help me feel comfortable during the summer. Sure, there is rain, traffic, and not being able to wear certain things during the winter, but this means I enjoy snuggling in my bed more, which equates to better sleep. I despise being too hot to even sleep!

And then on an unrelated note, I pretty much have 8 working days left until I change jobs. I'm very excited to not be waking up at 4:30 anymore, although this really made race days a cinch. =P Oh yes, and yesterday was the last day of school for the semester! I'm going to turn in my final paper soon and will hopefully be free of the school beast (save field hours and dissertation) for more than a month. Yeah!!!

------

Race Report:

So I found myself in Mammoth (temp: 40 during the day) mysteriously feeling bereft of energy, not to mention fearful of the cold and WIND. I spent the huge part of my stay sitting (in the car, of course), working on my dissertation, and eating fries.

I finally did my run on Tuesday, a day late and on a treadmill (indoor temp: 75?). I had just returned from a holiday luncheon during which I partook in 6 pieces of veggie sushi and a few bites of manga sorbet. So really, a mile seemed like quite a feat.

I did it in 9:20. Another half-mile was run before I felt sick from fullness and a weird-smelling guy running near me.

Next up was 40 minutes of circuit training, followed by another .5 mile, 3 miles on the bike, 1.1 miles, and another 3 miles on the bike. I still didn't have any appetite until the morning.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nike Fit-Dry Capris


I'm posting this while I'm still on my post-marathon high! =D While I am excited to resume running, I've just been doing other things and eating a little more than usual. The eating is not intentional, but I think my increased appetite is being caused by a combination of gradual post-race calorie replacement and hormones.

Anyway, I don't really own too many Nike things, nor do I typically run in anything but shorts. However, I wore these capris for the first time during my recent marathon and found them not to be a bother at all!

I got these at a Nike Factory Outlet store for less than $30. I wish they had black ones (mine is that reddish gray color), but I guess I'm unique now. They were having a 30% sale on top of their already reduced prices. The original cost of the capris (may not be the exact picture -- see me running in them in my race report) was $55.

I always worry about wearing anything tight due to body-image issues, but Tea Time and "The Ukrainian" convinced me that it looked just fine on me. So I sported it on race day and found that the tightness (it wasn't pinching my waist, which was good) held my muscles together. My cramping was limited, though I am not sure if it was the pants... =)

The second worry I had, also dispelled, was that the cut-off part below the knees, as tight as it seemed, would chafe me or cut off my circulation. No such thing happened!

The best part is the zip-pocket in the back. I was able to fit my driver's license, hotel room card, and two gels effortlessly. I hardly noticed it while running or walking around. At one point, my hands got too frozen to unzip it, but for normal use, it works wonderfully. I pinned a third one to the left side of the capris and barely noticed it (no sagging) as well.

Overall, if I run in cold conditions again (anything below high 40's) -- which I'm sure I will, I at least have these capris to do it in. A So-Cal girl like me is more into shorts!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rock n Roll Marathon: Las Vegas

EVENT: Rock n Roll Marathon: Las Vegas
DATE: Sunday, December 6, 2009
LOCATION: Las Vegas, NV
RACE BEGAN: 6:15 am
FINISH TIME: 04:20:46

While at the Run/Ex/2009 (Expo) for the Acura Bike Tour, I noticed that this race was being offered at a $15 discount and a free T-shirt for on-the-spot registration (not including the savings of the online reg fee). Upon conferencing with "The Ukrainian," we signed up!

We got to Vegas on Friday. It was a party of four with me, "The Ukrainian," M, and Tea Time. I feel like those two days before the race were full of eating, gambling, and resting. It started with holiday pancakes at IHOP. Fortunately, we made a stop at the CA-NV state line to a Nike Factory Outlet store, where I scores some capri tights for less than $30 (review to come later). Then, I had my next meal at the very crowded expo. With ~25k runners in this race, you could imagine that staying in the host hotel (Mandalay Bay) was insane!


Above: A tiara that I got from the expo + slots = ???

Besides making a crepe run on the strip (La Creperie, Paris), I did not really walk around too much to preserve my legs. I played lots of penny slots but didn't really do too well. The night before, we went to Border Grill, where I simply had a meal of chips and Spanish rice.

It was 34 degrees on race morning. In gloves, two tech shirts, capris, hat, and bandana around my neck, I had never worn so much clothing to race. At 6:15, fireworks were set off in the morning sky. It was great to be able to see the Las Vegas strip without cars! The first miles were flat, until after the half-full marathon split point. I always hate having to go on the "Marathon" side at those! Tea Time got to take the left side, finishing in 1:52.


Above: Self-taken on race morning... I don' wanna goooooo!

My fingers were freezing, but I was mostly feeling good. I managed for the first time in a month to control my breathing pretty decently, and my ab strain was not really bothering me (probably because it was frozen, lol!).

I took my first gel at mile 7, second after 13, and the last at 20. The second half was rather boring with slightly rolling hills. I had been slowly deteriorating, as you can see below, but I was really defeated after mile 20 where my legs were already spent.

At mile 25, I could see the finish hotel in the distance, but the short, steep hill they had for us there was enough to break me for good. I could not run for that last mile, no matter how much I wanted to. I managed to squeak out a running finish, but I was disappointed that I was a minute behind my PR.

Overall, though, I had a lot of fun over the weekend and even at the race. This was my first out-of-state race/marathon and my last race of the year! Of my now-four marathons, this one was probably the most subjectively easy. I think that in spite of the low energy spell I've had as of late, my week-long carbo-loading helped me run mostly comfortably and for once have a good time.

And although I just missed my PR, I proved that last time was not a fluke and that I didn't need "The Ukrainian" to get me to run this sort of time. (Not that I wouldn't run a marathon with him again, but it definitely made me feel like I really have gotten better at this all on my own.) It makes me wonder if I could improve by training better, which I admit to not really doing this time. Either way, I think this marathoning stuff is getting easier with each one I do, and for that, I don't mind my times!

Post-finish, I didn't partake in any post-race things and walked allll the way back to our hotel room just in time for the 11 AM checkout. I quickly showered, and the four of us were out of Vegas well before noon to avoid the traffic. I got a leg cramp in the car, but that was to be expected. I think I only had dinner as my only real meal of the day due to all the traveling, but as I said, it was a fun weekend!

P.S. Rock n Roll did a great job organizing this race!

P.P.S. "The Ukrainian" came in at 3:22. Maybe one day, I can vicariously live out a BQ through him (and score a trip to Boston as well).

I am posting many race photos this time, since I was smiling in many of them, for once! That's a testament to how much fun I was having. Unusual!








Monday, December 7, 2009

GU

During my recent marathon, I had GU gels for the first time ever. Why did it take me so long to discover that many of them don't have dairy and that they taste great

I had these two:


Above: Vanilla Gingerbread - tastes very strongly of yummy gingerbread, perfect for my cold holiday run!



Above: Blueberry Pomegranite Roctane - also yummy, with 35mg caffeine and some chemicals to help with muscle breakdown and mental focus... I think it got me feeling weirdly energetic but still unable to plow through my wall

I am going to make the transition to GU. They are much more easily found than pretty much any gel out there.

Pile on the Miles (POTM) Challenge

The two blogs N Her Shoes and Healthy Tipping Point are hosting a challenge that is running through most of November called Pile on the Miles. Basically, all miles ran/walked count towards your grand total that will be eligible for prizes!

I am not expecting to win anything, since my mileage is never that high. Even now, as I am training for a marathon and will do my second 20+ miler during the contest period, I doubt I will reach the triple-digits. I've been biking a bit lately, so I guess those miles won't count...

Anyway, feel free to join in on the challenge! I will be tracking my miles below!

-----

Miles Logged:

11/2 - 7
11/3 - 2
11/4 - 1
11/5 - 7.5
11/6 - 3

11/9 - 8 (this is when I believe I gave myself a strain in my abdominals)
11/13 - 20 (Worst 20 Ever)

11/16 - 3
11/17 - 4
11/18 - 3
11/19 - 7 - ran around neighborhood w/my favorite running partner and was quite speedy!

11/23 - 8 (and .5 from last Friday)
11/24 - 4.5 - neighborhood w/partner again... thought I was gonna die due to no breath =/

--------

The below will not count... until the next POTM Challenge!

11/27 - 2
11/28 - 6
11/30 - 4
12/1 - 3
12/2 - 3
12/3 - 2
12/6 - 26.2
12/10 - 3
12/11 - 2
12/14 - 6
12/15 - 2
12/17 - 6
12/22 - 3
12/23 - 6
12/24 - 4.5
12/26 - 4.5
12/28 - 10 - was supposed to be 12 but failed due to stomach issues...
12/29 - 2
12/30 - 3

Total:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Vegan Grated Topping

I am not vegan, but dairy sends me for a loop. I can still eat some, but it makes me bloat heavily. Cream is the worst culprit. Lactose pills have not really helped beyond their placebo effect.

I haven't been able to figure out whether I am intolerant to lactose or some other milk protein (e.g., casein), so whenever I can, I try to avoid milk products altogether. I've had some vegan cheeses, both good and bad, and this is one of them.

Vegan Grated Topping is supposed to emulate that dry parmesean cheese that is normally dusted onto pizza or pasta. It is made from soy and yeast ingredients and comes shelf-stable (refrigerate after opening) for less than $3 at health food stores. In the near-future, I won't be making such random purchases, as I have a steep tuition next semester that is going to somewhat stress my finances.

This tastes slightly cheesy, but I find it somewhat lacking and even somewhat repulsive. I can't explain it. But this is supposedly the best mock-parmesean powder, according to my Internet research. Boo!

Later on when I get back to my own PC, I will tack to this entry a picture of vegan lasagna I made a few months ago. "The Ukrainian" thought it was good and ate it for lunch for days afterward. I didn't use this powder but used nutritional yeast flakes for the tofu-ricotta part, and it actually tasted very good and close to the "real thing." So I am doubtful that I really need this stuff to get my cheese-fix.

I will slowly eat this. I read that it's good on popcorn.

And yes, my marathon is SOON. I don't know if I'm ready, but I am all packed. I will post details on Monday (or thereabouts).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

iPod Nano (5th Generation)

In a very whimsical move, I bought a new iPod nano ($149 retail - but mine was less than this) on Black Friday. Apple was having an uncharacteristic sale, and I decided to jump on it. I know I had wanted a Touch model ($199 retail), but running with it would have damaged it... along with the fact that there's no easy song-changing with that thing.

And now, it is currently in transit to my home and will be waiting for me when I get there tonight.

So I went with this video-taking device that is about the same size as my current iPod. I don't think I have much use for the video feature, voice recording, or any of that, though. What drew me in was the FM tuner and song-tagging. Imagine... no more me trying desperately to remember the song playing on the radio. Now I can just tag it by pushing a button. Although I wish it had AM radio as well (I am a big fan of KNX 1070/News), I will settle for FM!

Another change will be the color. I thought about green again, but for a change, I went with this red version. I believe these "red" products go to AIDS foundations. Size-wise, I'm going from 4GB to 8GB. This means that I can put any and all songs I have on here, along with the album art, without worrying about maxing out the space.

I don't know if this new guy will fit in my current running belt clip, but I'm hoping it will. The newer versions of these are not well-made, according to websites I've visited. The external dimensions match, but this iPod is thinner, so we'll see later today, I suppose. I obviously must find a solution to run with this, lest my purchase be in vain. I already hate spending on something I already technically have...

But as for my current iPod, "The Ukrainian" has taken interest in it and has offered to buy it from me. We have a similar deal on for when I finally get a new, more portable laptop. He has never had an iPod and is in serious need of a new laptop, and given that both of these are still in great condition, I guess I can do this without too much awkwardness (?????).

I guess I can consider this a holiday gift to myself, though I got myself some makeup for my birthday this past year and a laptop/iPod/Garmin all within a few weeks for my birthday more than two-and-a-half years ago. Or maybe this is a "new job" gift.

Note on "new job": I am finally leaving my job that I despise, effective 1/4/2010. This one in within a 10-mi radius of my house, which will definitely save me commuting time. It will count for my required 1400 field hours for school... which means that I will be doing something in my own field!!! It is a learning analytics group, which means we launch and evaluate training. I'm excited to be doing Human Resources stuff again... and this time, I only have to keep one job and stay (relatively) focused!

Also, this is considered a promotion (though not monetarily) because I'm going from the highest intern-level to a level-2 analyst. That's above entry level... my degree has enabled me to do something else besides copying... yay!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bagels & Worst Race Photo

Last night, "The Ukrainian" offered me some assistance as I was making these:


Above: Cranberry-Walnut Bagels!!! I had no idea that bagels were make-able. They require boiling, so yeah... These actually came out similar to actual bagels, except I think a lighter flour would have made them fluffier. Also, I don't know if I will ever be able to use yeast without having a slight yeast-y smell in the end-product. But the chewy outer part and soft inner part did come out as expected. Also, don't make fun of the less-than-perfect shape. Probably should have made fewer ones that were larger (9 instead of the 12 we made). That's home-made for ya!!


Above: A "texture" shot. Yes, I do realize that I need a better camera, but I rely on my phone camera for everything since my actual one is a little too bulky for everyday carrying...

Also.... Topricin is hosting a "worst race photo" contest. I had trouble picking out just ONE bad race picture, but if you click the link below, you will be able to see which one "took the cake," so to speak. This picture received quite the acclaim from my sisters, and again, I've taken many bad photos.

I will be writing a review once the samples that Topricin promised me arrive and get tried out on whatever pain I'm having during the time...

Vote for me by clicking here (I'm Photo #7): http://bit.ly/2eX3FC

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Favorite Things 2

Here's another installment of my favorites...!

Current Favorites:

  • running song: The Veronicas - "Untouched" -- I first heard this song during a spinning class that was taking place in my gym. It really gets me pumped if you can get past the first few verses!

  • cereal: Quaker Oatmeal Squares -- It has a nice touch of brown sugar! A 3/4 c. serving has 210 calories and 6g of protein, which is filling and GREAT when allowed to sit in vanilla soymilk for a while. Yep, I've been living on a lot of cereal lately.




  • makeup product: Clinique Quick Eyes Cream Shadow -- lured by one of those free-with-purchase deals, I chose this in the green color. This works really well when I'm too lazy to use powders. It is shimmery and stays great, even on my eyelids which tend to become oily. It also removes very easily.

  • lotion: Cetaphil Daily Advanced -- With the changing weather, my face suddenly decided that it wanted to shed its skin (and lip, agh) even though I lotion up each AM and PM. One of the things that finally stopped it was this lotion. It was a bit on the pricey side (more than $8 at Target), but everytime I put it on, it just feels soooo good, unlike the other lotions I use. It has a very light pleasant scent that really wouldn't bother anyone. My face has become much softer since I started using it. It is amazing.... I'm switching over to this brand as my other lotions run out.

  • drink: red plum icy slush with boba from Tapioca Express. It tastes like a salted red plum... a little salty, a little sweet, and a little sour -- yummmm.

Off to San Diego to take care of some school business! I am excited to be taking some time off next week to celebrate Thanksgiving! I have been incredibly fatigued lately for no real reason. I must be burnt out (again!). Maybe this is just a tapering thing, but I doubt it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Karaoke Play

This entry is totally unrelated to running, but I found a really fun website that realizes my karaoke fantasies. Of course, it's not that I'm good or anything, but come on, everyone likes to "belt it out" sometimes. Even during runs.

Yes, I was even willing to humiliate myself and post a sample recording. It just takes a digital microphone or web-cam (which has one built-in) to play!


------

Link: http://www.karaokeplay.com/

Link: SAMPLE

Friday, November 13, 2009

Worst 20 Ever!

There is nothing quite like celebrating Friday the 13th with a nice little 20-miler, my second within the past month toward my upcoming marathon.

Above: Waiting to pick up "The Ukrainian" from work. Thank goodness for decent (high 60's, low 70's) weather that allows me to run during the day without dying!!


Above: First mile; I have had an abdominal strain (which I thought was a hernia) this week, in spite of my best efforts to rest it before this big run. So I found myself unable to carry the extra weight of my phone in my shorts pocket and dropped it off in the car.


Above: We went to Hometown Buffet afterward, and I had trouble finishing this plate because I was feeling so nauseated. Definitely didn't get the $$$ worth or regain the four pounds that went away while running... =(

This run went so slowly that I'm embarrassed to report the total time. It was going well for the first 14-15-ish miles, but we had to take walk breaks after that point because I was exhausted and just could barely go on. I felt bad for slowing my partner down, but he didn't take off like I had suggested. My hurting abs made it hard for me to breathe or push too hard, and I think in the earlier miles we were running at 9-min mile or less pace, which is not my thing... as was seen by my later crash. I have never felt so bad after a run before... hurting everywhere, feeling nauseated, and totally out of it. Hope it was just a Friday the 13th fluke. And to think I had wanted to try to do more than 20... that would have been downright impossible! On the bright side, nobody stole my water bottle this time...

Regardless, this now begins my "taper" period. I'm going to spend this time strengthening my core and hopefully getting over my weird injury that I don't even know how I got.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Halloween 2009

A little late, aren't I?

You will see to the right the final version of my Halloween costume. Not the best pic, but we didn't take too many. Can you guess what we were? "The Ukrainian" and I assembled our costumes from various bits and pieces that we scoured the following stores: Target, CVS, K-Mart, the mall (which includes all the trendy stores), 99-cent storeS, Jo-Ann, Michaels, Wal-Mart, Party City, and Rite-Aid.

I must also publicly thank my mommy for saving me from having to sew our gloves and boots! She got them done in minutes, while my failed attemptS took hours.

Halloween is the beginning of the holiday season in my mind. I went to the mall the other day and noticed that everything was glittery and Christmas-y. I was diggin' it, but I'm sure once the Christmas music goes on repeat on the radio, I will be wishing for some normalcy. But for now, I have an excuse to bake more (just made a quick batch of gingersnaps for "The Ukrainian's" co-workers last week). =)

In other news, I've been a bit stressed lately. This is not necessarily due to work, but the combination of work, school, and some consultancy projects I'm doing on the side are taking their toll. I've also been working on an important/special project this week that I HOPE succeeds (if you have some extra luck or prayers to send, it is THAT important to me that I ask that you share!). More disclosure on that later, I suppose.

Finally, I am doing my second 20+-miler next week. Yay?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Random Photo Entry 6 - Faux Pho

Happy Halloween! I'm mostly on schedule with my school stuff, so I'm posting this now!

The theme of this entry is "Faux Pho," which was inspired by a lunch with some co-workers to Pho Bac Ky in Tustin, CA. Pho is a Vietnamese soup dish, usually made with beef broth and rice noodles. This place had lots of variation!


Above: Tofu pho!! Who coulda guessed?!


Above: Some sweet green tapioca coconut "soup" that came with the meal.


Above: This was the best I could do...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Review - Chia Seeds

Chia seeds claim to exceed the benefits of flax seeds in that they deliver heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids without grinding them up. Diana from GREENS+ sent me a jar of chia seeds to see if they really are the "superfood" they claim to be.


As you can see from the picture, chia seeds are tiny black/white-speckled seeds that I've thus far blended into smoothies and dumped directly into kefir. They didn't work too well in the smoothie because they all sort of clumped together, and when wet, they become a huge gel blob that is rather inpalatable (if that's a word).

What worked better for me was to throw them in my kefir. They seemed to give texture to an otherwise sour drink (pictured here with a slice of Ezekiel bread, which I will attempt to review in an upcoming post). When crunched on, chia seeds taste a little... grassy... but not in a bad way.


I'm sure these would work better baked into foods or scrambled with eggs...

Did these give me the burst of energy that they claim? Nope, but I could have stood to be more consistent. Are they a good alternative to flax seeds? Maybe, if you have erred like me and bought whole flax seeds that will run through my system without much benefit. Do they sprout? Yep, and the sprouts are edible and peppery (though I have not tried this myself)... anyone want to sing ch-ch-ch-chia??

------

I ran 9.5 miles today with "The Ukrainian," although I had not anticipated running this much. He had to slow down bunches for me, but he claimed not to have minded.

I'll return with a brief post next week revealing my Halloween costume (it's a riot and creative work of art!), but beyond that, I must really start cracking down on my downtime and spend more time working on my dissertation.

On that topic, I have serious thoughts of dropping out of school, but we'll see how the job search goes. I know what everyone must be thinking... all that effort to pass my exam and the classes I'm taking right now.... wasted! I don't even know if I have truly gotten into the "right" field in which I don't know if I can be considered "expert" by any means. I mean, really, we're talking about going all the way here... P-H-freaking-D.

Either way, I'm tired of worrying about school all the time, feeling guilty that I'm not writing or reading, even when I'm trying to have fun and live a life. I want to have my evenings and weekends open like a normal person. No group project meetings to drive to, no checking my e-mail all the time for class/assignment updates, no writing about things I am tired of thinking about, no begging people to do interviews or otherwise collect data from them, no worrying about whether I've forgotten my statistics, no biannual tuition bombs, no books/papers to lug around, no thinking when I don't wish to think, no classes to interfere with my training/races/family/boyfriend/friends, no worrying about finding field/practicum placement.......... wouldn't it be nice?!!!!!

I still have an MS, which is much more than I thought I'd ever have. But for now I guess I'll keep bouncing along while I am able to, even if it doesn't go by as quickly as I'd hope.