Sunday, February 28, 2010

Random Photo Entry 11: Where Have I Been?

I am not abandoning my blog, although it has been difficult for me to make time for it lately. I haven't even had time to spend time being an Examiner and barely am able to get to my self-maintenance (e.g., laundry, nails... you get the idea.)

All this will hopefully ease up soon. It needs to. I have had to cancel the same dental appointment several times and just barely had time to sneak in for a long, long overdue haircut this past weekend.

Did I mention that I don't think I'm going to be able to run my dissertation this summer because this proposal drafting process is taking longer than anticipated? Yes, I'm pretty disappointed, but I am partly (or wholly?) to blame for not hitting the mark right away. I need to live my life, too, otherwise, what am I trying to enrich? Some people tell me that I had set an unrealistic goal, but I can't remember the last time I did not meet such an important aspiration.

Anyway, I can't live in that disappointed mode forever. I have work to do, right? If all else fails, I have the summer to work on this and get committee review in the Fall, and then run my study. Add another 6 months+ to my PhD pursuit (which I began in August 2007)? In the grand scheme of things, that isn't so bad, right?

I'll post these pictures of recent eats and happenings....

Above: Vegan burger from Loving Hut. We took my co-worker out before she moved away. Our staff has shrunken from 4 to soon-to-be 2, which is partly why I'm stressed all the time. But this burger, wow. The fake patty wasn't all that awesome (no more than others), but the vegan mayo melded very well with the bread and tomato, creating a realistic product that doesn't even need fake cheese.

Above: Burrito from Armando's, a small Mexican food joint in my neighborhood. Sadly, there was some cheese on top of the red sauce, so I had to scrape that off. Darn my lactose intolerance! Inside, I had lettuce, beans, rice, and pico de gallo. I ate the smaller half of this sucker.

Above: This is the first picture I took of the cat that is now living in my house the day that she showed up in our backyard. I'm a dog person, so this is definitely weird. (NOTE: If this is your cat, please let me know... pets belong in their homes!) She would not (and still won't) leave, and it started to rain, so my parents took her in. Although it's nice having her, I don't think my house is fit for a cat and the costs of taking care of her.

Above: This is me on Valentine's Day, celebrating the Lunar New Year with the family at my brother-in-law's hotel. I wore this same ensemble to have V-Day dinner that night.

Above: Finally, here is one of my dancing shoes. They were only a bit cheaper than lower-cost running shoes, which was totally a burn to my wallet. I have been taking salsa classes for about 2 months and am about to sign up for another quarter. These make it so much easier to turn, and they are very light! Plus, my feet no longer hurt after class like they used to. I could write a whole other entry about my salsa experience, but I'll save that for another time. It makes for an interesting piece, e.g., "Clumsy Runner Tries to Do an Ultra-Feminine Latin Dance." =)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy New Year & Valentine's

Happy Year of the Tiger! I am an Ox, so I guess "my" year is over. It has been a good one, I guess. It was full of challenges, but I think everything has turned out well in the end.

And then there's Valentine's Day. My Valentine (yes, I was asked to be his Valentine again this year) is a 1:29 half-marathoner and a 3:22 marathoner. I could not be more jeal... I mean, proud.

Link (for the candy heart):

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tangerine Life

I've been part of a pilot wellness program at my workplace hosted by Tangerine Wellness.

Since August, I have been through 2 cycles of competition and am beginning my third. Basically, each period is about 10 weeks. At the beginning of the competition period, your height and weight is measured. Then, you weigh-in at the end. The end measurement is used as your start measurement for the next period.

The twist is that you are assigned to a team per location. The winning team is the one whose average weight loss percentage is highest. Underweight weight gain is counted as weight-loss. The winning team gets $50 + $5 for each lb lost if you are beyond the healthy range. Unfortunately (well, not really), I am in the healthy range, so the max I can get is $5.

Here is my brief experience with the program:

- August to October: $5; my team came in second; total weight lost: about 1 lb
- October to January: $50 + $5; my team WON; total weight lost: about 4 lb
- January to April?: ???; the teams were broken up into smaller ones (go GREEN team!); not sure how I will do due to my inpropensity to lose anymore weight, but I wouldn't mind just staying the same!

Their site has cool activity and food logs, though I think they can be found on many fitness sites these days. I definitely underutilized this site, as I was often too busy. And I definitely lack accountability when it comes to my food consumption! Maybe a smart phone would be more helpful.

If you are in the corporate HR arena, feel free to check it out! A fit employee is a happy employee!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Surf City USA Half-Marathon 2010

EVENT: Surf City USA Half-Marathon
DATE: Sunday, February 7, 2010
LOCATION: Huntington Beach, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:45 am (wave start)
FINISH TIME: 01:54:12

The above picture can summarize a lot of the happenings this weekend, because I'm sure my race pictures were pretty bad this time. It did not start off the best, because the week did not end well for me due to the realization that doing my dissertation is pseudoly impossible for me both time-wise and cognitively. By Saturday morning, I was back on the task, and I will continue to be. However, my morale is low and will remain so, and the extent to which I care is not the greatest at this time.

Anyway, onto better things. "The Ukrainian" and I didn't have that many coins to fill the far-away parking meter at the Expo for this race, so we scurried in the rain to simply pick up our packets and get back. However, I did pick up the shirt I am wearing in this picture, a token of my third run at this race (see here and here for my other experiences with this race).

Also, as you can maybe see in my picture, I re-acquired a Phiten X30 necklace at their booth. It is a different design as the original one I got for "The Ukrainian" and I, but the potency is the same. I missed having one of these, even though I've gotten along fine with it over the past two months. With my purchase, I got some titanium-infused patches and stickers. Perhaps that will be the subject of another entry.

Finally, I picked up some GU gels for a good deal in several flavors as a bit of a sampler to me.

The evening before the race (and I wish I got a picture of this), "The Ukrainian" and I went to In-N-Out Burger for dinner. He wanted to eat burgers, and I said I wouldn't mind eating fries the day before a race like I did for my last race. I didn't (over)indulge myself in animal-style fare (fries topped with some variant of 1000 Island dressing, grilled onion bits, and cheese), so I got a regular order of fries and back topped with with a melted vegan cheddar slice from a pack that the man and I picked up the other day. I rounded out dinner with some dry Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch.

Early the next morning, we left at 4:30 AM to beat the parking rush at this race. I took a few naps in the car, ate a banana, and used the facilities before heading to the start line. It was amazingly sunny. While running, I realized that my two-shirt ensemble (long sleeve under short sleeve tech shirts) was a bit too much.

As for the race itself, you can read my other reports for details about the course, but I do recall thinking a few times that I didn't remember the course having so many long (albeit subtle) inclines and even a few tougher inclines toward the beginning. I didn't check my Garmin very often, only at the mile-markers. I noticed I was running pretty well, though my predetermined goal was just to beat 2 hours.

I saw "The Ukrainian" at around mile 7 as he was approaching mile 9. Sometime after that point, or maybe even after the turnaround at mile 8.2, my pace slowed. I was running out of energy and have never really been any good at running after 7 miles. NOTE: TMI part begins here [ Around the 10th mile, some of my mini-breakfast made a visit. I didn't stop, and none of it got on me, so I pretended I was just one of those spitting runners. Fortunately or unfortunately, this was not the first time this has happened to me as of late, so I wasn't too freaked out or deterred by it. ] End of TMI. I tried my best to hold a decent pace, and finally, the long, straight last few miles ended. It was definitely a struggle, as my back was tiring and the sun was blinding.

During the last few miles, I had a strong feeling I was going to beat my previous PR(1:57). Somehow, my stomach managed to suddenly hurt during the last mile, but I kept going, and I beat my PR by almost 3 minutes. I had been wondering when I'd come in under 1:55, and it only took me 15 tries to do it. Yep, this was my 15th half-marathon and first race of 2010. That was a great way to commemorate both of those milestones! I got my medal (see the picture above) and met up with "The Ukrainian," Tea Time & M, and her friend D. Everyone did really well (including spectating M, lol).

As I was watching/passing some of the marathoners today, I realized that I have LA Marathon on my plate for my next race in March. I know I said this last year, but I am not ready to run a marathon right now. And this time, it's not because I am lacking training. This half-marathon felt very long to me, and I still have some psychological remnants from my marathon in December. I hope that over the next few weeks, the hectic burdens of my everyday life start erasing those memories.

Above: Pulling a Michael Jackson during the run, or changing the song on my iPod. Agh, I never fail to look bad in my running photos!

Above: Me and my green hankie.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Best Decisions Ever

Although I've been ultra-busy lately, I've been extra reflective to keep things in perspective. It is very easy to lose sight of things when stimuli and priorities bombard you at every turn. So you may see more of these entries where I evaluate/plan aspects of life.

I was thinking about the best decisions I've ever made. It was hard to think of just five, but I think they are interlinked anyway, as is life itself. I barely even know who I am and the true impact that my decisions have. However, I do know that there are choices I've made that have caused a lot of change and personal growth.

I tried to site specific actions (e.g., I did THIS) rather than general (e.g., I did this).

Best Decisions I've Ever Made (in no particular order):

1. Went for an internship at the company I current work for (3.7 years ago)

I didn't even think I was qualified for the position based on the desciption, and I recall walking to my interview after taking the bus for 25 miles with my large gym bag.

Because of my entry, I've met so many great people, learned a lot about business and related skills, am able to pay for things, and was able to take the stuff I learned at work into school.

2. Set out to run LA Marathon when I was 21 (3.9 years ago)

I went from not being able to run more than a few miles to a full marathon. This is obviously how I got into running. Running has been such a character-builder. It has been my love, my hate, and sometimes my only companion. It has built my patience, forced me to look at the "big picture" of things, and most of all, it has made me more outgoing, which I definitely, definitely need in my current job (e.g., I have a presentation to make in front of management this week).

3. Agreed to go on a date with "The Ukrainian" (1.7 years ago)

I still remember avoiding the gym the day he called me because I noticed him giving me one of those "looks" the day before. I thought I was in for an awkward time and a free meal, which I guess is what I got, but my open-mindedness allowed it to grow into so much more. I never thought I'd find anyone who gets along with me so well. He has encouraged me to be more ambitious, which has basically been a blueprint for the rest of my life and build on the decisions I've already made.

4. Chose UCLA over USC for undergraduate studies (7 years ago)

I wanted to go to USC because they had accepted me early, and they sounded so elite! Plus, my older sister had already gone to UCLA, so I wanted to represent a different school. But some thought and financial analysis later, I became a Bruin and was exposed to my current field of (I/O) psychology. Additionally, I came out of school free of debt! Can't say the same now, though!

5. Applied to graduate school (4 years ago)

I often struggle a lot with balancing full-time school and full-time work, but my work and studies really play off of each other and have each grown me into a professional. Like running, it is a character-builder and has taught me how to juggle multiple priorities, how to stay alert after a long day of work and gym, and I have met some very nice people here as well! I can't promise I will finish, but those are the things I've taken away from the experience so far. Yes, my debt is mounting (I am vowing to pay off some this year), but it has been worth it so far.


So there you have it. Anyone want to share their best decisions? Are they all work/school related like mine??

Just for kicks, here are what I think are the 5 worst decisions I've ever made. I am trying to avoid ones like "I never learned ____," because those can be remedied -- I'm talking about the stuff you cannot take back.

1. I did not ask my parents whether I could go on a Washington DC trip in high school, figuring they would say no. Besides not knowing for sure they would not allow me to go, part of me was just afraid of the unknown.

2. Getting a "boyfriend" during my first year of high school for 6 weeks. Sorry, but I didn't know what I was doing. And I think we both came out of that angry. Because of that, I didn't date anyone else until "The Ukrainian."

3. I didn't go on any real trips between undergraduate and graduate school, even though my boss encouraged me to. I didn't feel that recreation was all that necessary back then. Whhhhyyyy?

4. On that same thread, I think that isolating myself a lot during college was not good for me. Sure, I got good grades, but I probably missed out on some fun and friends. I know this because I did keep some of my college friends, and they are nice people.

5. Developing a love for sweets. I wasn't as much into sweets until I started college, and I constantly grapple with my addiction to all things sweet! Not healthy, and it has caused weight struggles, wasted money, and a general blah feeling. I guess this one is cheating, as this is something I can work on. However, damage was done and now somewhat undone.