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??

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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.

PowerBar Gels Sample

This LINK is a little busy, but if you get through, a sample of PowerBar Gels (see previous review from Tea Time) will be on your way!

I hope the wind over here dies down so I can get a nice outdoor run in today. Yay, Fall!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Favorite Things

I decided to randomly post about things I am currently "diggin'" and will probably make a series out of this (much like my Random Photo Entries). Why? Oh, I don't know... just celebrating life, I suppose! You'll notice, though, that running is mentioned here and there, showing how it is a large part of life.

Current Favorites:

  • running song: Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited" : This came on during my workout last night, and I was instantly in the mood to dance around the gym... I recently refreshed my song list, so I am always jammin' on my runs!

  • cereal: Cracklin' Oat Bran : Finally, this thing went on sale, and I got some. I swear I ate some of this as a kid and liked it, but it is beyond expensive now. It is crunchy and sweet, each piece the size of small mailing stamp, but I can't eat more than a handful due to a fear of stomach issues from the fiber. Each 3/4 c. serving offers 200 calories and 11 grams of protein.

  • show: Heroes (NBC) : This was a toss-up against Glee, but I can see Heroes improving this season (e.g., regretful Sylar and a dying Hiro), and I can certainly do without some of the cheesy lip-syncing and couples with no chemistry (e.g., Will and Emma).

    But I recommend watching both, though for casual watching, Glee would win since Heroes builds upon itself intricately. Plus, you'll get some good songs out of it (best ones on the show so far, in my opinion: "Keep Holding On," "I Wanna Sex You Up," "Sweet Caroline," "Don't Stop Belivin" [how Glee got famous in the first place] "Confessions/It's My Life" [mashup], and especially especially "Somebody to Love"). Yep, I'm one of those "gleeks," but heck, I used to do the whole singing and dancing in glee club as well. In fact, I was president! Nowadays, it's all karaoke and singing privately in the car during my commute to/from work or after I reach delirium during long, long runs.

  • fruit: bananas : I've posted on them before, but they are now my pre-run fuel and anti-cramping insurance!


  • soap: Days of Our Lives : Nope, this isn't a thumbs-up for things that wash off my post-run sweat. I've been (secretly) watching this soap since I was in elementary school. Nowadays, I sometimes catch it in the gym or online, and right now I just want to see Sami Brady (she's the host of The Biggest Loser) end up with a nice guy (Rafe, Lucas, or maybe even EJ). And make Nicole reveal the full fruth already! =P


  • makeup product: Maybelline's Full n Soft Mascara : Yes, I am even raving about makeup now. I've tried tons of mascara (even an expensive, well-known one that went madly on sale), and some don't do much for me. And then some are a pain to take off right before a run after work, or get everywhere at the drop of a tear. But this one shows up dark and washes off easily without randomly getting everywhere when I nap, tear, or blink... and it's cheap (drugstore). Only caveat is that it takes a while to dry.

P.S. I realize it's been a while since I've checked my e-mail, but I'll get to it soon....

P.P.S. I'm going to be a teaching assistant next semester! Yep, my first attempt at coming up with a back-up plan for IF I ever finish my dissertation. More details later, probably.

Monday, October 19, 2009

This is What 20 Looks Like

As part of training for my next marathon in December, I have become set on doing two 20(+)-milers. So although I wasn't planning on it (sorta) and didn't really carbo-load much beforehand, I started on my three-hour, 21 minutes-ish run after work.

Yes, ridiculous I know, but when I am set on something, I just go.



Above: Quick pit-stop beforehand. (Pics taken from phone that I carry around while running, which is a good idea for the fearful like me.)



Above: This is where I hid my water bottle (that's my ride), but ultimately someone has stolen my water the last three times I've run at this park! =(



Above: Mile 7... gel-lin' like a felon!



Above: With 6.88 miles to go... I've run quite a few half-marathons slower than this!



Above: Mile 15... still alive, but the sun is setting! Soon, it got dark. As I rounded out mile 18 (3 hours), I realized they closed the exit to the park, so I got in my car, crampy and all, and eventually found my way out and drove to the my gym. Luckily, there was one hour left before closing, so I did my two remaining miles (so slowly!) and chatted with the gym staff while I "shook it off." I kept wondering... does the 18-2 split count as a full 20-miler?

So that's my story. Next 20 (or more) will be in a month. Glad to have done this, just as a confidence-booster. I wonder how many 20-milers I've done since I started running. Umm, my guess is five or six, counting this one. My best 20-miler time was 3:15 (the last time I did one, which was in February the morning before class), so this one was a bit on the slow side. Hrmmm....

The best part of this is that I get to rest. I will do some slow biking, foam/stick rolling, and strength training tomorrow. Quad-y (R) and Ham-y (also R) were already unhappy during mile 3 of this run, so I need to kiss up to them for hanging in there for me!

P.S. Whew... documenting runs isn't easy! Kudos to all the bloggers who do this on a regular basis. This was more of a trial/test for me...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Moby's "Wait for Me" Concert

This entry is about as far from running as can be, but it is close to my heart because it has to do with my favorite musician, Moby!



On Wednesday, October 14, Moby performed at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. That evening, I ran 10k on the treadmill alongside "The Ukrainian," grabbed some vegetarian banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches), and got there just in time to eat dinner in my car and get in line.

Since I got my tickets so early, our tickets were actually for the pit, so we were close to the action. How close, you ask?



Yep, we were pretty much two feet away from him at times (and my hair is like straw!), and he often edged the stage to reach out to his audience (not me, as my arms are not long enough). The rave-esque yells he did during "Feeling So Real" (always his last song at concerts) was awesome...! I've touched Moby a few times before, but having him perform in front of my face was an unparalleled experience. I had so much fun knowing that he could see me cheering for him and his wonderful singers, Kelli Scarr and a woman named LeAnne (she was BOMB!!!!).

All in all, I had fun the first time I saw him in concert, and this time was no disappointment. "The Ukrainian" had been dancing along and having a good time. He claimed to have recognized a third of the 20+ songs Moby did within the 2 hr, 20 min concert. He even recognized "Extreme Ways" from some movie... beats me. At any rate, hoping to make another fan, he he! No autographs that night... we bolted since it was approaching midnight. I will get him some other time!

...And then I went to work the next morning. Major ouch, but worth it!



Above: Playing "Shot in the Back of the Head."



Above: Singing my favorite song off of his new album (Wait for Me), "Mistake."

In other news, I bought nine Clif Shots today to fuel my marathon training, which will be vamping up further (I hope!) during this upcoming month. Then I can undo it all with a Thanksgiving pig-out... just kidding! But I am excited for Fall and the holidays. We got some rain here for a few days this week, only to be followed by 90+ degree weather now. Oh well, it won't be long now!

P.S. Happy third BLOG-I-VERSARY to A Case of the Runs!!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Long Beach ICB Half-Marathon 2009

EVENT: Long Beach ICB Half-Marathon
DATE: Sunday, October 11, 2009
LOCATION: Long Beach, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:00 am
FINISH TIME: 02:01:31

This was the third race I needed to run for the California Dreamin' racing series. I've run this race twice before, so was the third time the charm?

I'm finally taking the time to update this, so I guess this ends my short hiatus from blog postings.

Prelude

Race weekend was wonderful. I took off a couple of hours early on Friday to take "The Ukrainian" to the expo at the Long Beach Convention Center. There, we picked up our jackets that we earned from the California Dreamin' series, got our bibs/D-tags, and other goodies. Since it was SUCH a beautiful day... sunny yet cool... we spent the day walking the pier, eating breakfast (at The Omelette Inn in Downtown Long Beach -- see pics of black bean omelette and biscuits that we shared!) and beer (Yard House!) for dinner, and getting free admission into the Aquarium of the Pacific's shark lagoon. We were able to gawk at the pretty birds (laurakeets[sp?]) while we were there.







"The Ukrainian" had to teach on Saturday, so I relaxed, worked on my dissertation, and then enjoyed a nice pseudo-carbo-loading dinner at Souplantation. We have been doing most of our carbo-loads there now, since I am finding that the mix of carbs and greens works better than pasta, which often hides dairy and stuff that gives me a hard time on race day.

The Race

I decided to start in the first wave with "The Ukrainian" and was surprisingly not plowed over... in fact, the pace worked out well, since I did not have to weave around any walkers or really slow runners. I had made a special playlist for the race and was happily running in the cool, overcast weather.

I won't go over too many course details, since I've done this race twice before. The conditions were ideal for a PR, but although I felt I was pushing hard, did not walk or stop at water stations, and even chugged a gel, I seemingly was lagging in terms of pace during the long stretch along the bike path near the coastline between miles ~6-9.

My chip time was 2:01:31. I thought I was going to break 2 until sometime in the 12th mile, and although I pushed, I think that my leg speed has disappeared since I've been recovering from my injuries. My overall race pace was 9:17, which is actually somewhat slower than my training pace. Again, I have no idea what happened. I am disappointed, but in reality, this is my fastest over-2 time and 4th best half-marathon out of the 14 I've done now.

Epilogue

Watching all of those marathoners, including TeaTime (yay for so many marathons in a year!), come in made me nervous about my upcoming race, which only means I need to keep training.

Also, I found out that my "Ukrainian" came in 1:32:31... the freak... just kidding! We got our huge California Dreamin' medals and went to the beer garden for some 9:00 AM beer. I maybe had a fifth of my cup, since running and alcohol really don't mix. I had my share later that night when my classmates and I toasted to a test well done.

Anyway, that rounds out my last half-marathon of the year and the only race I've done a whole three times! I chose this picture proof (right) to post because I think it's funny that I look like I have a male entourage! Okay, so the real reason is because I am the most unphotogenic runner out there... And check out my loot below!!

P.S. I saw Moby in concert last night, and it was absolutely amazing!! More on that later...


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Prana Bar

Continuing on my bar-noshing odyssey, I tried this mostly raw, organic vegan bar called Prana Bar. It claims that only the nuts are slightly cooked to ensure easy digestion. The actual texture of the bar is slightly reminiscent of LaraBar, slightly moist, date-y, with some random nuts mashed into a dense bar.

Prana Bars are a little less dense, with around 220 calories each. There are smaller nut bits in this than LaraBars, and this one (Coconut Acai) had bits of coconut in it. I could not taste the acai. Overall, I think this bar had a weird flavor, so I really could not finish the thing in spite of costing over $2. The things I do for my blog!

I know it appears I've been eating a lot of bars lately, but over a two-month fitness challenge at my work, I lost over a pound. Whoop-dee-do. Yes, my sarcasm is boiling, but it's really hard for me to lose any weight (very little success in that direction for what seems like years), so I should applaud myself for... doing what I've been doing... which I'm not sure what that is. I'm sure the result would have been better had it not been for me not feeling well and eating extra much this weekend (fried Fair food, tea party treats, health food store oversampling).




As a post-script to this entry, I am running a half-marathon this weekend, although you wouldn't know it based on the residuals of a cold that I don't know if I caught from someone at home or what. Also, I have been sleepy since the afternoon and cannot wait to go to sleep tonight. I was working on a group project (again) yesterday evening after work and the gym. Today, I was falling asleep mid-afternoon while driving from work to meet with my dissertation chair, managed to run 6.2 miles at the gym, eat dinner with the family, do some homework, and am now just aching everywhere because I am craving rest more than anyone can crave anything (I think). Don't I get more dramatic when I'm tired?

With this sort of pattern, how will I ever make progress on my dissertation? I can honestly say that work is the main obstacle... not only the amount of time I spend there but the commute and strange hours that force me to sleep at odd times. I hate to say this publicly, but I wake up each day hoping that one of the jobs I've applied to calls me and "saves" me from what I'm going to call a mistake, transferring from my cushy, close-to-home job for an annoying, far-away one. I apologize if any of my current work team sees this, but honestly, we all know it's true! Alas, I guess it hasn't been a mistake. In my impressionable youth, I left so I could learn new things, and I have. Plus, they had lured me with opportunity that they never fulfilled. No hard feelings, just the facts, ma'am.

At this point, I think I might take another few days of blogging hiatus, as things are just crazy right now. I'm noticing a trend with many of the runner/bloggers out there... we are all overachievers/overdoers!!! At any rate, my blog-i-versary (3 years) is coming up next week, so I will have a reason to come back. The weird hand-drawn banner I have at the top of the page was actually done for that purpose. It depicts first-aid and porta-potties. =)

Added note: The weather has been fabulous this week -- sunny yet cool. I wish I could spend these Fall days just walking around with "my Ukrainian," but alas, we both have to work so that the lights will stay on... just kidding!

How I Met "The Ukrainian"

A recent e-mail chain (add info in brackets [])

Me: ...Thank you very, very much for the meals. =D

Him: How was your drive? Did you eat breakfast that I made you [half a peanut butter and apple butter sandwich]? Did you drink hot tea for your minor cold?

Me: The drive was smooth, and yes, I ate the breakfast... yummy. I'll start on the tea soon. =) Oh, and my meeting is now at 1:30, so most likely I'll be seeing you at the same time, same place. =)

Him: Ok, remember to eat lunch [cup of whole grain pasta w/veggies] before you go. You need energy for the gym.

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Gosh, I really like being taken care of, especially when I don't expect it nor ask for it... and especially especially if it comes from an unexpected source. In early April 2007, I had four of my wisdom teeth simultaneously removed from my gums via oral surgery, and not only did my father drive me home in my gaseous stupor, he also picked up my meds and bought me jello! (I looked in my blog Archives for some recount of this time period that was difficult on my training, but I guess it was so difficult that I didn't blog, either!) And yes... I'll never forget that!

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Maybe half a year later, I met "The Ukrainian" at the gym located in our workplace complex. I was 22 at the time, and it was my first semester in graduate school. As far as I was able to discern, this "white dude" was working out on the elliptical and lifting weights for hours. I thought he already had a family, since that was typical of employees at my company, and especially if they had the time to be in the gym instead of living the single life. Me, being a social-phobe, just looked out for him each day to see if I was more hardcore than he was.

And during that quarter, I was. The gym hosted a competition for days attending the gym during the holiday season (verified by swiping employee badges), and I beat him by a few visits. Yes, it was tough for me because of my hectic new school schedule and marathon training that was better suited toward outdoor runs, but the day the results came out, I saw his name directly below mine and felt triumphant that I had beaten him. By the way, my prize for the competition... a free VO2 MAX test.

SIDE NOTE: I'm naturally competitive, even though I try to squelch that since people don't seem to like snarly, competitive people. I mostly like secretly competing with males, since I can do so without feeling like a @#$&#.

Anyway, after about six months of casual chatting in the gym, I invited him to my birthday bowling party WHILE I was running a 12-miler on the treadmill. I'm not sure what was going through my mind except that he was one of my few friends/acquaintances that I saw often during that time.

Two months prior, I had been thinking about asking him to be the subject of an interview I needed to do for my grad school class, but I found another person at the last minute. I still wonder what would have happened if that other person didn't come along, and we would have had some sort of awkward lunchtime interview that might have made him steer clear of me, ha ha.


We went mini-golfing for our first date shortly after that birthday of mine. The girls in my class encouraged me, convincing me that if nothing else, I would get good stories and free meals out of it. The girls and I had all been gearing up for a speed-dating session once school got out in a few weeks, but fortunately, I didn't let go of "The Ukrainian," and here we are nearly a year-and-a-half later! Although times have been rough just for me personally during this time period, he has always been there and have made these one-and-a-half years some of the best I've ever had.

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So back to the topic of care... never did I imagine that one would watch over me as "The Ukrainian" does. He carries my stuff, cooks me dairy- and meat-free meals, cleans up after me when I forget, and gives his unsoliticited but usually appreciated advice on nearly everything. This is obviously in addition to other boyfriend-ly duties, such as valuing my opinions, letting me win petty disagreements, and signing up for practically every race I've run since we started dating. (This was slightly motivated by wanting to keep up with me, but then he just took off and is doing really stellar [1:32 half-marathon & 3:42 marathon PR] -- my competitive side is saying, "Argh!" but I'm proud of him, anyway!)

I'm grateful to have him, and in spite of what other people have or might be thinking, or the unpredictability of the future, at this moment I do believe that he is a very good counterpart for me. Let's face it... I am "unusual," and so is he!

We're celebrating our year+half this weekend, but we really do celebrate every day!

And yes, this entry's title is a spoof of How I Met Your Mother, a TV show on CBS.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Clif Builder's Bars - Updated

Added: Pictures of the newest flavor, lemon (see bottom of post)

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Original Post Date: December 2, 2007

My Jamba Juice days have pretty much ended. I used to drink the Protein Berry Workout (they dropped the "Nike" part now) drink for dinner when I had class in the evening, but that was starting to become an expensive habit.

So then I converted to Clif Builder's bars (price can range from $1.29 - $1.79/ea; a box of 12 at Whole Foods is about $15, which is about the same as buying 12 at unit price). They also are high in protein, vegan, and are much cheaper and portable. Over the weeks, I have been able to try all of the flavors, each containing 20g protein and 270 cal. Yes, the yogurt I reviewed recently is a better protein/calorie ratio, but again, this is cheaper and more portable, not to mention fortified with other vitamins/minerals.

They are all pretty much the same consistency. The bottom part is a little crispy with the top being a little chewy/gooey. They are really quite filling, especially if you drink water and pair it with a fruit. These are WAY better tasting than whey-based bars, as this is all-natural and won't leave you with the aftertaste of normal protein bars.

  • Chocolate: The basic flavor.
  • Chocolate Mint: Not my favorite, but a little less boring than the chocolate.
  • Cookies and Creme: My favorite. Sweet but not too sweet, a little chocolatey with a vanilla flavor. I got a box of these.
  • Lemon: I am not a big fan of lemon-flavored confections/bars, but this was subtle. If you don't like chocolate taste in a protein bar, go for this one...
  • Peanut Butter: Also good; probably my second favorite. Goes well because of the gooey part at the top.
  • Vanilla Almond: This was my least favorite. I don't know why something that sounded so good went so badly. Plus, I think it made my throat itch. I think it's the almond flavor; I'm not a big fan of almond-flavored things.

Friday, October 2, 2009

FUBAR

This bar appealed to me due to its interesting name. Unlike the "military" definition of the word, this bar claims that FUBAR = Fueled Up Beyond All Recognition.

Even if FUBAR (original meaning), this bar is vegan, so I went for it. I actually picked it up at one of those gas station stores on the way to work. Yes, I need the fuel at work, to be brief about it.

The bar is 190 calories and had some nice chocolate chips embedded in a Larabar-like texture. All in all, it was pretty darn good with those bits of "chocolate." The bar was a nice amount of sweet and enough for a good snack. I'm not sure if I was FUBAR (new meaning) or FUBAR (original meaning) after eating it, but it was still worth a try.

Yay for October! It's been cold (under 60 degrees) in the morning, even though it gets hot, hot in the afternoon. But the taste of Fall is making me very happy. October is going to be a busy/great month full of costume-making, dissertating, Moby, school parties, running, fishes, cooking, and of course, work and school, which is kicking into gear (while I try to put in a B-effort, lol... j/k?).

Well, off to LA County Fair after I take care of some other things that make today worthy of a day off. Yes, I'm planning on sharing some fried food, only because I know I can't be all that healthy (as my co-worker remarked when spotting me dipping fries in mayo... oops!). I ran 28.4 miles this week in the span of three days, which have reduced me a to pseudo-cold state... thus, I feel some time for playtime is warrented.

Meanwhile, TeaTime's (undisclosed age) birthday is Monday, so here's my public HAPPY BIRTHDAY to her!!! Yay for the last 1/4 of the year!