Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bean Burgers

A simple recipe for meatless burgers that doesn't require the likes of Boca or Gardenburger. Not that I have anything against them, but sometimes, they are just not on hand.

2.5 c. cooked kidney beans
1/2 c. oats
2 tbsp soy sauce
garlic powder or fresh minced garlic
onion powder (optional) / onions

Mash beans. Add oats, soy sauce, seasonings. Mix & form into patties. Fry in oil until brown on both sides.

I did not get to photograph the process, as I was (as usual) in a hurry. But while these puppies were frying, I snapped one photo.

I got five patties out of this recipe, but as they say, your mileage may vary.

My burger. I added cheddar cheese to "The Ukrainian"'s. A can of green beans became the side, along with some mushrooms and Earth Balance spread, which just happened to already be in "The Ukrainian"'s fridge!

Dessert waited for us in the freezer. I had whipped up a strawberry/banana/soy milk/lemon juice smoothie and poured it into these molds that we got at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It needed to be run under some water to get out of the mold, but it was well-worth it. =)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Amphipod RunLite Belt (Updated)

This Amphipod Hydration Belt has been sitting in my closet, unused, for a while (a year?). I have been running on paths that go in loops, so hydration came from water hidden behind car tires or water fountains.

I used to run with mine regularly before I realized I could plan my routes better. But this gets boring after a while, and it is nice to be able to drink whenever the urge hits.

I always have to battle this obstacle when I'm stirring about the house in the morning:

Here's this unflattering from-behind shot of me heading out the door for my run. Excuse the strange surroundings. As you can see, I set the two bottles (6 oz) to lie horizontally in two plastic snap slots that go on each side of the belt. I mentioned in my previous entry that they can go vertical as well. A storage pouch lies in between them, which is perfect for carrying pepper spray.

Running with 12 oz of water sloshing around is not the best this, as the bottles actually slide around while running. The bouncing of this belt is not as bad as one could imagine, but there was still some of that happening. Mostly, the moving water bottles, which would slide from my back to front, was the ultimate annoying thing.

However, in the mid-70s morning heat, I was really glad to be able to pop these bottles off for a drink. I switched sides every other sip so that the weight would be evenly distributed. Over the course of the run, it definitely felt better to be running with less weight!

New Bottom Line: Ultimately, I think this belt would work great for walkers, but I think I need to get something else for my hydration needs. Anyone have any recommendations?


Original Post - 9/17/08:

So after having my water bottles stolen in the park while running loops, carrying a fanny pack, trying to reroute my runs to hit water fountains, foregoing water altogether, and even running into Starbucks for some water, I decided that I could benefit from a fuel belt and finally gave into one.

I got this Amphipod RunLite 2-flask belt from REI.com for around $38 (counting tax and shipping). I took it for a 15-miler this past weekend. Even though I know I was going to be running in a park with water fountains, it still takes 4 miles to get there and 4 miles back, and plus I needed some Accelerade if I was going to last.

The first couple of miles were terrible with this because I was trying to keep the bottles in the back, and they kept swinging around me like a hula-hoop. Soon, I realized that if I just kept them in front, they don't move around as much. I was surprised that I really didn't feel much additional weight carrying this, and the liquid did not bounce noticeably. I was grateful to have the hydration and the pouch that kept my mace and cell phone (will use for gels eventually). Oh, and did I mention that I did not chafe (2.5 hours of running can do that, but not with this belt!).

The flasks/bottles can be placed either vertically or horozontally, which is a nice bonus. I keep mine vertical because it seems more natural that way. I'm not sure if I will use this for any races besides marathons, but they have made my upcoming long runs seem slightly less daunting.

Bottom line: I would highly recommend this belt.

Link: http://www.amphipod.com/

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Weekly Workouts: 8/22 - 8/28

The days of my easy-day 3-milers are over. *sigh*

So I've gone 6 weeks of Hal Hidgon's 18-Week Marathon Intermediate I schedule without missing a mile. I suspect that the other 2/3 of the program won't be as easy to follow, though.

This only means that I have 12 weeks until Marathon #7.


This Week's Workouts:

Sunday - rest
And boy, did I!

Monday - 7 mi; 15 minutes of abs/arms; 10 min hip openers yoga
Best indoor run in a long time, though admittedly not easy. Running 7 miles before work = can I go to bed??? Did not finish yoga session due to taking too long on dinner...

Tuesday - 4 mi - outdoors

Wednesday - 7 mi; 15 min strength
Horrid heat = no salsa again

Thursday - 4 mi; 30 min strength training with some stretching blended into that
For the sake of logging my workouts for future reference, I will also note a few observations. First, I feel like I could sure use a back massage. Second, I have become noticeably more hungry all the time lately -- "lately" referring to the past few weeks. I am generally not packing away a lot of food like in the past and have been trying to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. So generally, I try to eat as little as possible to rid the hunger until my next meal. I've generally been doing well in terms of getting veggies in every day, which unfortunately I did not necessarily do before. Third, I'm tired, but that could be due to lack of sleep, and not because I'm not making an effort... the heat it making it hard to stay asleep. I'm so tired of sweating, and I feel like I've only become more sweaty over time. I hate summer. Okay, end of observations.

Friday - casual walking/rest
I decided to can my strength training session at the gym due to my weekend long run and something that I cannot mention on this blog.

Saturday - 15 (of 14) mi - outdoors
Doing this in preparation for a schedule tweak for next week... stay tuned for that! It'll be good... I promise!

Weekly Mileage: 37

Friday, August 27, 2010

888 Seafood Restaurant

First off, if you are not new to my blog, you will notice it's been tweaked many, many times over the past few weeks as I experiment with certain features. Many of these are offered directly by Blogger (e.g., lists, tabs), while some require a little more back-end tinkering (which sounds just about as wrong as a Shake Weight).

I added a "Related Posts" feature. This took a few tries to get right, but it basically required going into the blog template and pasting some code. This thing works okay, though not perfect, but I will not complain. It uses tags from entries to figure out what is "related."

And then, I added the "Recent Comments" thingy on the side. This, on the other hand, was pretty simple to put in -- it's a lot like doing a feed, which is something that Blogger offers.

Now that I've ruined the magic behind my blog, onto the post at hand:


Due to my Asian heritage, I have frequented many dim sum/seafood restaurants over the course of my lifetime.

As one may notice, I typically don't review Asian restaurants, and it's not because I don't like Asian food, as many people would think...

Truthfully, in the times I've eaten out, I still fine that most of the time the food that my parents cook is better than what I'd have to pay for outside. And honestly, having spent my first 18 years of life mostly eating Asian food (due to me not going out to eat much at all), I tend to steer toward the novel.

Anyway, another obstacle for me is the fact that I no longer eat meat (for the most part). Of course, Asian restaurants CAN have a great selection. See THIS , THIS, and THIS entry for examples.

Unexpectedly, here's one of them:

This place mostly serves dim sum, which includes items such as steamed pork buns, shu-mai (pork dumpling), har gow (shrimp dumpling), and even chicken feet. However, I have had lunch here and was able to stay alive on sweet buns and vegetables, though you REALLY have to be careful, because tiny dried shrimp bits may end up in broth or other unsuspecting places.

So with the difficulties of dim sum, I am at least glad to know that their evening fare can be more friendly. Dim sum restaurants stop serving in the afternoon and become more banquet-y at night. I attended a fundraiser event for one of my besties (who is my age and a city councilman), and he had a kosher table for his friends, which worked out for me, because that meant vegan in this case! (NOTE: Kosher doesn't necessarily have to be vegan, but the meat/dairy items did not meet the requirements of be kosher in this case.)

Here are some of the dishes we had that night:

Above: I think this was made out of zucchini, flavored with a sauce that tasted like fish sauce but was not. It was refreshing and yummy!

Above: Soup coming out of a squash.

Above: This was my plate at one point. Notice the bean-curd wrap. There was also some mini egg-rolls filled with mango, which was weird, but yummy!

Above: The best part of all was this fake fish they brought out. We debated at the table for a long time over whether this was actually fake or not, but the tell-tale signs were that there was no eye, and it was tough as heck to get a piece out! I took some of this home (the tail) to my parents because I was soooo intrigued.

Above: As always, the rice...

Above: ...always comes...

Above: ...at the end, when I could not eat much of this yang-chow fried rice imitation. The real dish is usually made with ham, but there was some kind of root vegetable and fake ham in here.


All in all, I was pleased with the creativity of this place and am thankful to "The Councilman" for arranging this special table for us. I was not jealous of the other meat-eating tables at all!

Finally, I found it weird that a Jewish mother at my table, the mother of "The Councilman"'s friends and also a friend of "The Councilman" later wondered why we're not dating. Not that she asked me directly, but word got around afterwards, as she is very vocal and was apparently impressed by me.

This has been a repeated question I've heard throughout my life, as we've been good friends since we were in elementary school. But even if I was still single, that would be like dating my cousin.

I have never had any notion of it and wonder why people can't believe that males and females can be good friends without any other "intentions." I have been approached by MANY naysayers on this view, particularly when I was in college. I know this can't be true with all male/female friendships, but it IS possible.

Do you think that guys and gals can be friends and nothing else?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ikea - Crayfish Party!

This isn't a conventional restaurant review in the sense that I am reviewing a special event. However, much of the food found here could be found on a normal day, too!

I was invited to hit up Ikea one Friday evening for an all-you-can-eat event. Furniture-browsing and food? Yes, I was sold!

Ikea has great, cheap food on a daily basis. I have tried their desserts and bread. You can get a plate of Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes for a few bucks.

"The Ukrainian" and I headed there as early as possible, since traffic going east is definitely a challenge on Friday evenings. There, we met up with our friend Mrs. McWang (not her real name, of course), who found out about this thing, and walked up to the cafe area.

$9.99/per person later, we gained admission into this Crayfish Party!

Infinite crayfish, salad, and even lingonberry sauce!

Boiled potatoes, mac n'cheese, meatballs, and gravy. There were also a few desserts, not pictured, which was a blueberry tart, strawberry cake, and pre-packaged Danish cookies.

I wish I got to keep this lanyard, but alas, we had to return them.

The tables were decorated with a bib, hat, song book, and napkin!

We utilized a cart for our initial loading. One of those top plates was mine. I had some salad, deviled egg (sans shrimp), bread, bites of cheese, a little bit of mac n' cheese, and two boiled potatoes. Since I have never liked shelled seafood like crab/lobster, I did not envy the others at all. =) And I definitely had enough to occupy me, anyway. My stomach rebelled due to fullness and did not have more than a taste of dessert.

All in all, this was great! I expected more people to attend, but I guess people didn't hear about it or want to travel on a Friday evening.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Shakespearean Picnic

As a native Los Angelina (i.e., a female someone who's lived in/near Los Angeles) all my life, I had never been to Griffith Park, which is located off the 5 Freeway near the Los Angeles Zoo. Griffith Park is home to many challenging trail runs for those enthusiasts as well as an observatory that I still have not visited.

I got to go there this weekend for a picnic and some arts. And by "arts," I mean an independent production of Shakespeare.

Before I left, I had to make sure to bake something:

So I took the old oatmeal cookie recipe... you know, that one on the lids of Quaker Oats. I halved it and tweaked it a bit by adding a mango/cranberry/golden raisin mix instead of plain raisins, almond extract instead of vanilla, and a 50/50 old-fashioned and quick oats combo.

I also baked it in one big piece rather than a bunch of cookies. It yielded 24 cookie squares. I kept 'em cool so they got hard, and they were "Ukrainian"-approved! I liked how the almond flavor definitely came through and made this taste really different from your run-of-the-mill oatmeal cookie!

But apparently, I wanted more cookies! This was at Fresh & Easy, where we picked up some other stuff like egg salad and Greek yogurt.

It was a rough, rough climb to get to the appropriate picnic area, and the hot weather did not help.

Look at all the animals I consumed! Actually, I didn't eat too many of them like I thought I would!

I was also trying to keep myself entertained while we waited. I nearly won a game until the wind blew my efforts away.

Dinner was NOT pictured because I was starting to get a bad headache from my long run earlier that day, but it consisted of a cranberry/almond/red onion/tomato/spinach/arugula salad with vinaigrette, some sandwich thins with PB/vegan cream cheese + hummus. We ate watermelon pieces later on during the evening.

The show, which turned out to be "Much Ado About Nothing," began around 7 PM on this stage. There were probably 750 people there. It was about 3.3 hours long, counting a 10 minute intermission. The actors were great, and the show was very entertaining! I don't like musicals all that much, which is generally what I end up attending. So this was a nice break from that!

I should also note that right before the show began, I asked "The Ukrainian" to get me a full-fledged caffeinated coffee from the concessions, as my headache was worsening to nausea point, and I had no meds on hand. That stuff saved me from utter barfville and allowed me to enjoy the show and people-watching. I didn't get any jitters or have any issues sleeping... hmm, weird!

Friday, August 20, 2010

CEP Compression Sleeves

After seeing many runners, including my own sister, Tea Time, wearing these at the San Diego Marathon, I joined in the fray of compression socks and sleeves.

I got my pair from Road Runner Sports, online. "The Ukrainian" is a VIP member, so with the discount and a coupon he got in the mail, I ended up paying around $29.95+tax for this black pair. Based on my un-small calves, I had to get them in the Medium size.

I'm looking forward to seeing whether these can really prevent my terrible marathon cramping and muscle-pulling episodes. Also, I don't mind adorning something that makes me feel like a soccer player!

So here's my initial reaction after pulling them outta the box:

These look like arm sleeves, so the intimidating thought of getting these onto my legs = *gasp*! "The Ukrainian" helped me get them on the first time, though I did get used to that after a few tries.

So after a few long runs with these, my verdict is overwhelmingly positive. I have not had a calf cramp while running during a 90-degree 18-miler, more-than-20-mi training run, and fast half-marathon. Sure, they take some getting used to -- after all, who wants something more on their legs? But as my legs tire during a run, I am glad I have these... it makes my legs more "solid" so that I am more efficient in running. Additionally, post-run, my would-be soreness is MUCH decreased.

I would recommend these fully. CEP makes sleeves and socks, but if you like having freedom to choose your socks, I'd stick with the sleeves.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

'Cuz I am Five and Twenty

I spent some considerable time reading (and rolling my eyes at) THIS New York Times article about people in their 20's.

What a long article! As a member of this cohort and someone who is supposedly an academian, I thought I had to comment on it. Mainly, I wanted to point out that although many of its points are true, not much is put behind the reasoning of some of these things.

For instance, most pointedly, they brought up how people my age tend to move back home, bounce around jobs, and put off their adult lives. While this may be occurring, some of us don't WANT this to be happening. Case in point:

1) Moving back home - A dumb thing that I did when I got a job very close to home after college. I had considered commuting, but at the time, I had no car. Plus, even with one, it would have been 1 hr (at least) each way.

Plus, I wanted to start graduate school once my finances were stable. Graduate school was also close to home. Living at home also meant faster financial stability, though looking back, it wouldn't have made that big of a difference.

2) Bouncing around jobs - I could go on and on about this. I am of the old guard who wants to commit to a company who will commit to her. I know this commitment is not typical of those in my generation -- we were raised to explore, find something of the best fit, and put a "coolness factor" on our occupations.

But I bounce around in these internships to find a company who will give me a full-time job. That's all I want! Why is it so hard to find?

Granted, the article did address that the downed economy has created a market in which even those 20-somethings who want to work wouldn't be able to.

3) Putting off adult life - It has been a long desire of mine to be able to seize my independence. Unfortunately, bullet-point #1 (living at home) does not make this easy. While I lived away, I learned how to do some basic cooking and launder my clothing, but once I come home, this is all done for me. And not necessarily because I want it done for me, but because this is the pace that is set at my house. There, I am on someone else's schedule, under someone else's scrutiny, and really really cannot be myself. Don't get me wrong -- I am grateful, but at the same time, I am point out this inevitable trade-off of living under the roof of a somewhat old-fashioned Asian-American family.

Barring my parents kicking me out of the house (not likely but not unwelcome), I gather I will stay until I finish graduate school -- at this point, as quickly as possible. Realistically, I have about another 1.5 years, at which point I hope to scratch bullet #2 and find a permanent job. Staying in school has really put the damper on my impression as an adult -- in my parents' eyes, if you're in school, you're still a kid. That makes graduate school rather regretful, doesn't it?

And no, unlike what the article says, I am not putting off marriage and family for selfish reasons. I am a believer in (relatively) early marriage and child-bearing. Even at 25, I barely have energy at times, so I can't imagine being able to take care of a kid down the line. I figure I only have a few good years of youthful energy left, and I'm truly being serious with this statement.

Obviously, I am not in full control of when marriage will occur, but if I were to do it today, there would unfortunately be a ton of judgment coming from people who perhaps don't matter in this decision. Nobody used to care if a 25-year-old got married, but I know deeply that people would judge me and say stuff like, "Oh, you have the rest of your life to blah blah blah." Or maybe this is just in California?

I'm not so caught up in becoming super-successful before marriage. I just want a job, some stable ground to ensure that I am solid before sharing my life with another. And as for another claim that the article makes about 20-somethings lacking relationship commitment, I say, bah! Fortunately, I was raised to be highly commital and determined to make things work. Much like companies, I don't have desires to hop around potential mates, either.


So there. Just wanted to comment on this article, because overall, it makes us sound like sheltered, soul-searching, and fickle. There is more to it than that.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

All Board! -- Orean the Health Express

My latest food meanderings resulted in a stop to Orean the Health Express, a drive-thru (and walk-up, if desired) establishment in Pasadena, CA.

And of course, "drive-thru" = fast food! I have good memories of downing a Big'n Tasty burger from McDonald's once during high school, and less-than-good memories of my parents feeding us 29-cent hamburgers and 39-cent cheeseburgers for breakfast on many mornings.

I'll cut to the chase. I ordered an Orean Cheese Burger and Chili Fries, two things I normally wouldn't have, but you've guessed it right if you thought to yourself, "This place must be vegan."

So look again at my burger and fry gluttony. Yes, I pretty much ate all of that, sans a bun and a heaping of chili that I saved for another day. Sure, I had run 6 miles and did weights in the morning, followed by a decently small breakfast. But look at that -- wow, my stomach was reeling, but my sense of adventure was indeed fueled.

Note: I added more desciptions as I've made subsequent visits to this place. =/ Haven't gained any weight yet, though I think I've already gotten a good sampling of the menu and don't plan on going back anytime soon ("The Ukrainian" made me agree to this for at least a month, because vegan or not, he doesn't think it's good for me).

Note 2: Their soy ice cream and cheese are rumored to contain casein, a milk protein. I'm not sure if I'm allergic to casein, but no mal effects yet. But yeah, if you are a strict vegan, I would be wary.

Cheese Burger: I know the pic doesn't do it justice, but it's actually pretty sloppy on the inside. Top bun was sprouted and then doused in BBQ and some sort of mayo. I didn't want to eat it, but I did due to my weakness to mayo. Some green lettuce and tomato followed, and then the patty. The patty was made out of some sorts of grain... I could not tell, really. It was moist though kind of fell apart after a while. Bottom bun contained relish, a pickle, plenty of mustard, and shredded fake cheddar cheese of some sort.

My overall impression of the burger was: yum! Definitely tasted WAY better than anything I can get at McD's.

Chili Fries: The fries at this place are "air"/oven-baked. That didn't make me feel much better about eating a copious amount of them, but at least the fact is out there. I like air fries more than normal fries, and not just because of health reasons. I think they come out crunchier, which is a big plus. The chili was nothing ununsual... a lot of pinto-type beans and TVP standing in for meat. I've had better veggie chili, but this was still yummy.

Chai Milkshake: Thick, and oh-so-creamy! The right amount of sweetness. If you're lactose intolerant and miss shakes, you gotta have one! I liked this because it did not cause me to have an itchy throat like cold dairy can give me, but then again, I only had the first inch of this big cup.

Chicken-O-Nuggets: Mmm, deep-fried texturized vegetable protein... very meaty, a little greasy, and comes with BBQ sauce and poor-quality coleslaw that tasted limp, not enough mayo or vinegar, and pepper?

Mata Burrito (not pictured -- @#$% camera!): Huge and warm, served in a whole wheat tortilla and is sort of like fajitas -- onions, bell peppers, some sort of crumbly soy meat, cabbage, and fake seitan(?) beef. All in all, good. I had about 1/6 of it. This burrito can probably make lunch for three days. =)

I know that fast food is still fast food, vegan or not. I downed a lot of carbs and unnecessary fats in that meal, but it definitely has put me off to the idea of more fast food for a while. However, I did get inspired to make some version of this for "The Ukrainian" if I don't take him here first. Still, I did spend about $10 on the burger and fry gorge-fest, so maybe it would be good to learn to make this stuff.

Finally, I learned something new about Pasadena while coming here, which is that it is definitely not uniformly glamorous. This place sits in a bit of a shady area of town, about 2.5 miles away from the beauty of Old Town Pasadena. There were several other drive-thrus on the same block, as if knowing that nobody in the right mind would want to really dine there. People walk across the streets with disregard for lights....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Scrambled Tofu & Cucumber Salad

Long ago, while I was still in college, I used to cook the most cruddy things to satisfy my burgeoning vegetarian palate. I called it Vegeslop, which I've mentioned before in this blog. Thinking back, that was quite progressive of me to put up a recipe blog, since the whole "healthy living blog" wave really did not come in until later.

By now, I've grown up a bit and have access to more things. Health-food is becoming cheaper and available. And I'm really starting to feel the effects of pushing unhealthy food down my gullet.

I don't know where this running blog crosses the line with food blog. I mean, I originally created this blog as one for races and gear. But inevitably, if being a good blogger means frequent posting, then these daily life details such as food creep in.

At this point, I am not worrying much about distinctions anymore. After all, I have written enough blog posts so that I don't need to post again for a month or more. And to be honest, I'm thinking about axe-ing this whole blog thing, if only for the fact that I'm not sure if anyone is reading. Google Analytics tells me otherwise, but for all I know, those hits could be web crawlers or something.

So while my backlog of posts occupies this blog for a while, I will make my final decision. However, I'm not leaving yet, so back to the titular tofu scramble.

Most tofu scrambles, which are made to be subs for egg-laden ones, have these basic ingredients:

16 ounces extra-firm or firm regular tofu
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 scallions, white part only, finely
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
Salt and ground black pepper

My recipe was a little different from this and included cumin and nutritional yeast flakes. I also dumped in a whole bunch of veggies the way I would have for an omelet. However, I did not like the result very much. Even though I followed the cooking directions exactly, I thought it was too dry and salty. My veggies were cooked down to a pulp. I think if I had to make it again, I would have cut the cooking time and maybe used a slightly less firm tofu. Maybe I wouldn't have pressed the heck out of the tofu like my recipe had advised.

Anyway, the result:

Thank goodness I paired it with this Indian-restaurant inspired cucumber salad...

Weekly Workouts: 8/15 - 8/20

This is Week 6 of 18, a stepback week, and 1/3 of the training program. Still streakin' in terms of not missing a run. So maybe I can work on pace this week? I'm still inconsistent in the fact that I will have good runs, normal runs, and downright crappy ones. Last week, I was feeling twinges of my hamstring injury, so I will need to be more careful from now on...


This Week's Workouts:

Sunday - rest

Monday - 4 (out of 5) mi; 10 min strength; 1 mi walk outdoors; 20 min backbends yoga
Ugh, it was so hot in the gym this morning, making this run impossible to finish, even at a slow speed. Right foot arch, which has acting up lately, also wasn't helping. Will try to run an extra mile tomorrow morning to make up for it. Honestly not feeling it at all lately. Does this end my streak? Well, as long as I hit the weekly mileage...

Tuesday - 4 (of 3) mi - outdoors

Wednesday - 6 mi @6.7-7.0, 20 min strength, 4 mi walk (half of that was unplanned)
Thinking about not going to salsa tonight... it's like 100 degrees here, and to dance w/a slew of sweaty old folks = no picante. Probably going to take the sis to the library instead. On a better note, I really hauled @$$ today, in spite of it being really hot indoors and out, and I made those 20 minutes of strength really count (5 min rope-climbing simulator, 3x10 - upright crunch, adductor/abductors, hamstrings, push-ups, bicep curls, tricep dips, shoulder press).

Thursday - 3 mi, 30 min strength

Friday - 20 min bike; ~40 min strength
I woke up so, so sore in the inner thigh muscles, most likely due to some traveling squats(? - not sure what they are called) that I was doing the day before. Wow, have my adductors gotten that weak from not going to FitMoves for a month??

Saturday - 9 mi - outdoors

Weekly Mileage: 26

Friday, August 13, 2010

13 Things I Don't Want to Try

We had a bunch of Friday the 13th-s last year, didn't we? I feel like we haven't had one in AGES!
In honor of this so-called Friday the 13th holiday, I have compiled a list of 13 things that I am too afraid to, or not willing to, try, in relation to superstition or otherwise....
  1. Ouija boards - I heard countless stories of death resulting from playing this board game, even if it's made out of paper and coin for the pointer. I KNOW it's just the other players' will (ill or just hopefully) moving the thing, but STILL.
  2. Skydiving - I am not interested in this at all. I already scream my head off and get all barf-y on roller coasters.
  3. Smoking - I've only had one serious offer to try this (in middle school), and I had absolutely no desire to try. Mostly due to those anti-drug campaigns, I was freaked out to even try. I mean, I know that my lungs are already a healthy shade of grey due to living in cities... no need to make it worse.
  4. Pulling an all-nighter - I survived high school, undergrad, and graduate school without doing this. I will note one exception, which was Grad Nite (you know, when they send you off to Disneyland from 10 PM - 6 AM?). Second closest was when I had a virtual baby for a high-school project and was paranoid about it crying. *sigh*
  5. Eating some insanely gross thing - Granted, due to my Southeast Asian ancestry, I've eaten some pretty gross things. Balut (baby duck in egg), durian, and pigeon have all traversed my system. However, there are worse things -- yak, snake, bugs (beyond what I swallow accidentally), and poop, anyone?
  6. Run with the bulls in Spain - Yeah, I'm a runner, not a crazy person. I know that thousands of people get through this just fine, but I've read too many bullfighting books and seen many movies (*ahem* Talk to Her) on the subject... There will be no goring for me, thank you.
  7. Get another piercing - I got my ears pierced at the tender age of 5 during a doctor appointment, unbeknownst to me until it was too late. Glad it was done while I knew no better... Not that I mind pain, but the recovery process (keeping it clean, being careful not to let it close up...) = bleh!
  8. Hard drugs (for non-medical purposes) - The risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is very real...
  9. Get bunion surgery - I've mentioned that I have inherited these, and as much as I can, I will avoid having a surgery that will keep me from running for a while, for sure.
  10. Have a huge wedding - Getting hitched should not equate to awkward family situations and enormous debt. Fortunately, I have not spent my childhood and adolescence imagining my ideal wedding.
  11. See a psychic - I was very tempted to go numerous times recently, but now I wonder whether knowing a future (real or not) is good for me. I usually follow a wait-and-see attitude about things... for example, I don't study race courses too closely, if at all.
  12. Gamble (large amounts) - I am extremely risk-averse. If gambling is going to take place with my money, I don't want to be the one doing it. I feel that I jinx everything.
  13. Get drunk - Sorry, folks. I've never been drunk. The closest I ever came was buzzed, which maybe happened twice. The first was after a sake shot and too-quickly-downed wine with my classmates. I drank a ton of water and ate a little food to counteract this, and I didn't notice anything besides loud chattiness until I slightly missed the bathroom stall door and bumped into its corner on the way in. Had some splotting on my chest, too.

    The second time was a very quickly downed LARGE mojito in 15 minutes. I instantly felt fiery in the face and was red like a tomato, giggly, and huge headache ensued. My throbbing head + leather car seats + traffic on the way home = porcelain god.

    Given these unpleasantness-es, why would I want to get in an even worse state?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Weekly Workouts: 8/8 - 8/14

I am not really paying much attention to whether a run should be done at "pace" or not. To get it done is miraculous in the first place these days. I wonder how long I can go before I "miss" a run...

This would be considered Week 5 of 18, FYI.


This Week's Workouts:

Sunday - bike 26 mi
Wasn't intended on being this far, but my friend, Giraffe, intentionally lied about the distance between my house and the Santa Fe Recreation Dam. Then we went up this steep, steep part to get a view, and yeah, I had to walk my bike up after about halfway.

Monday - 6 mi; 15 min strength

Tuesday - 3 mi - outdoors; 10 min abs/arms
I blasted through the first half of this run, unbeknownst to me. On the other hand, yoga was a no-ga because I was working on my dissertation and frankly in a bad mood.

Wednesday - 6 mi; 20 min strength; 1.5 hr salsa

Thursday - 3 mi @6.7-7.2, 30 min strength/abs/foam roller
I incorporated some yoga into my stretching due to my guilt of not doing it. I know it's supposed to feel good, but really... I feel pressured by so much other stuff!

Friday - 15 min upright bike @10r (different bike, so resistance = ?); 40 min strength/abs

Saturday - 12 mi - outdoors
Some parts went good, others bad, but overall it wasn't horrible, just not where I would want it to be yet. Time for rest! Thank goodness!

Weekly Mileage: 30

Better Than a Surprise E-Mail

Yes, I guess I can't stay away from blogging for long. If I needed something to motivate me right now, this certainly is it.

Remember this post from last month about getting a nice kudos from my associate dean?

Yesterday, I received the below, both in print and via e-mail. Unreal!

Dear Julie,

Congratulations! You have been selected for our prestigious 2010 #### Dean’s Excellence Scholarship Award of $10,000. The #### Dean’s Excellence Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding student who possesses an exceptional combination of educational achievements and leadership abilities.

Your annual scholarship will be provided in two payments of $5,000. Your first award payment will be provided upon verification of fulltime enrollment at the start of the Fall semester 2010, the second will be provided at the start of Spring semester 2011 once you are enrolled fulltime.

We wish you much success at your academic endeavors at ####.


"The Dean"

I got a couple of scholarships as an undergrad, but not to this degree. It feels a lot more personal due to the smaller cohorts (than at UCLA, per se), and it's just a lot more in one shot.

And I was already elated to receive a recommendation. This is like the cherry on top (or 10k cherries....)! Not sure what I did to deserve this windfall, but I'll take it!

While I'm tempted to run off on a vacation or something, gotta remember that this just blows out a good chunk of my debt!

I've already sent my thanks to the appropriate parties, but here's the public one: Thank you, school!!!!!

Okay, back to my wishy-washy presence in the blog world.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nicoise I Said So

Since I've gotten into a new routine, I've on a cooking roll! This sure beats the "cereal dinners" or "hummus and pita chip dinners" of yore (not like they won't happen anymore, just more seldomly!)!

This nicoise (rough pronunciation: knee-shwaa) salad was inspired by one I saw at Fresh & Easy (Neighborhood Market). I think these salads are common in France, although I'm untraveled, so I wouldn't know.

So I rounded up these ingredients below:

The actual cooking involved included boiling eggs and potatoes, cooking quinoa, and blanching green beans.

Here's the intermediate/end stage of the salad assembly. These plates were enjoyed with little nibbles of cheese and wine from "The Ukrainian." Followed by some watermelon and a couple of mini rice-cakes. Schm-ancy? Yes.


Green Beans/Spinach: Wish I had gotten fresher green beans, but the ones I got were on MAJOR sale. Spinach didn't turn out the freshest, either, but both had days before their "Best Use" date. I got them from a nice grocery, too. Hmmm...

Eggs: One cracked as I placed it in the pot to boil. Leave it to me, huh? But nothing came out of it, and it actually made it easy to open!

Garbanzo Beans: Organic, just like the tomato I used. Been trying to get organic stuff when I can these days, though I don't trip too much over it.

Tuna/Faux Tuna: I used tuna for the man plate and chickpeas for a toned-down version of my faux tuna concoction. Nicoise salads don't call for tuna-salad type tuna, so I just used what came out of the can with some cut-up pickle and salt/pepper. Likewise, I added some nutritional yeast, a little lite mayo, mustard, pickle, and salt and pepper to the beans. Without celery, it definitely lacked the tuna-ish-ness, but that's okay.

Dressing: This was the first time I made dressing, and it turned out wonderfully in spite of the substitutions I made due to not having the ingredients! Basically, I used some peach butter, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard (which I don't like but didn't bother me in this use), salt/pepper, lemon juice, and of course, olive oil. Then, I gave it the old fork-whipping.

Potatoes: Marinated this in the dressing I made, due to not knowing what else to do. Added a tiny bit of ground thyme and some oregano. I am not sure what normally goes on these things...

Quinoa: This was yummy, but I wish the grains were bigger/heavier so that they wouldn't fly away at every breeze. It also took longer to cook than I expected. I don't normally see this stuff in nicoise salads, but I wanted to incorporate more protein. Lots of leftovers -- 1/2 cup (dry) equated to about a normal rice-bowl cooked. This was tasty with the dressing. I actually re-used these in a wrap a few days later:

Above: Hummus/quinoa/red onion/spinach/tomato wrap + sweet potato


I'm definitely starting to get more creative with my cooking, given that I haven't had much opportunity to do it before. I can definitely say I'm getting a lot more nutritious meals than what I was raised on, though I'm sure I'm going to make an Asian dish at some (soon) point!

Finally, the great part about making dinner is that there was plenty leftover for a hefty portion for "The Ukrainian"'s lunch the next day. Gotta praise a dude who will eat salad, right?

Doesn't this look like a (sloppier version of) pre-packaged salad?

Monday, August 9, 2010

As If I've Never Left

Dear all,

I am taking the week off from the blog world.

You see, I was informed by my dissertation chair that I can start preparing for my preliminary orals.

Finally! I have been waiting about 10 months and something like 7 drafts for this!

I know that sounds like gibberish, but basically this means that I can finally go before my committee to get approval to run my study. To complete a dissertation at my school, you need to get through two "orals" -- preliminary and final.

So assuming everything goes as planned, my preliminary orals will take place sometime in the middle or late next month. Committee approves, and I wait another 2-3 weeks for International Review Board (IRB) approval... then run the study. Hoping to finish collecting data by the end of this year, and although I would love to finish the write up and do my "final" orals by May and graudate "on time" (4 years since I entered with a BA)... I think I will need the summer to finish up.

In other words, this isn't a huge step, but at least I'm on my way to crossing a barrier in my dissertation journey. Obviously, I need to "pass" my preliminary orals first. I need a lot of luck for that!

Thus, I will be spending my non-working and non-sanity time working on making the final edits she suggested, as well as bracing myself for whatever else my committee wants to throw at me before the preliminary orals. Then, I gotta study every paper I have cited thus far in my paper, which is A LOT. Gotta know my stuff so I don't look stupid.

However, you probably won't notice my absence much, since I have written enough posts to keep you busy until the end of the month. Ha ha! I will also update my workout log, since in spite of this, I am determined to keep my @$$ in shape.

So keep reading, maybe comment me some encouragement, and let me know that the blog is being read. I see the hits I'm getting from Google, so I know you're out there...


P.S. I will still be Tweeting, so follow me if you dare!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Random Photo Entry 18: Universal Studios, Hollywood

Okay, so given that this post has a specific focus, it's not random.

I know I'm more than a month late in posting this, but for his 30th, I took "The Ukrainian" to Universal Studios in Hollywood. He grew up in Hollywood, and he had never gone.

Above: He said it was okay to post pics of him (I asked about this one particularly), though I still don't do it too often...

We went on the tram right away, since the King Kong 3-D attraction just got added to the tram ride, and we were worried about the lines that would ensue...

Above: View from the tram. Drizzly -- but this was early July!

Above: Facades... I have a funny story about the first time I learned that word in my freshman honor's English class in high school. Having never seen it before, I had to read it aloud to the class and said something like, "FAH KADE." Oops! Anyway, these FUH-SAHDs/fake buildings are new, because the old ones were damaged a few years ago...

Above: Cool, huh?

Above: Mmmm, carcass.

Above: Recognize this Desperate Housewives setting? Even as a non-viewer of that TV show, I still knew what it was...

Above: Whoo-ville!

Above: My favorite pic of all: The Bates Motel from Hitchcock's Psycho.

Above: I had not been to this theme park in about a decade, so this was a welcome new ride to try. Most of the roller coaster rides made me nauseated. Seems to be getting worse as I age. *sigh* Guess my coaster days are nearing their end...

Not pictured: Basket of fries(!) which was my lunch

Not documented: This was also the day I "gave notice" to my old job...

Above: Finally, Despicable Me (referring to myself)!

We finished the park by early afternoon, so we just made our way to his parents' home for dinner. All in all, I think he enjoyed this adventure, much like last year's trip to the gardens. However, he has requested something more low-key for next year, and I guess I will have to creatively comply.

P.S. Everyone has been asking me how the King Kong 3-D attraction was... it was about a minute of the tram rocking around with a little water splashing and cold foggy air blowing through so that you thought that King Kong was going to eat you and a T-Rex batting you away with its tail. All in all, it was meh... but I'm not a fan of 3-D anything for the most part. Funny that it got so much hype, because for the most part, it wasn't worth it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Perfect Foods Bar

At the LA Marathon expo this past year, I tried some of these Perfect Food Bar in Peanut Butter. These bars are supposed to be eaten cold, I think, although at an expo, it certainly wasn't. It tasted good, dense and moist, yet crumbly. A somewhat almond-y taste was also pleasing. All in all, it's like a cookie!

I wasn't sure if these were vegan, so a trip to Whole Foods solved that mystery. I got this bar in Fruit & Nut flavor. Strangely, it tasted somewhat like that Peanut Butter bar. Anyway, disappointingly, this bar contains milk protein. Also, look at the calorie and fat content. It's nearly 300 calories, which I guess is attributable to its larger-than-normal-bars size. Looking at the fat content, there's 15 freaking grams of it, some of it saturated!

While not a totally bad choice, I think I will stick to some more "perfect" foods that are out there...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Weekly Workouts: 8/1 - 8/7

Down goes me, up goes the mileage.

- Definitely have been falling off the yoga train. Not inspired to do it in a hot, crowded house. Not throwing in the towel just yet, though. A few switcheroos in my schedule should allow for 2 yoga sessions a week, which is probably enough for now.

- My legs are definitely feeling a lot better than they did a month ago, and especially two months ago. Over these past 2 months or so, it's almost as if I had to start running from scratch, and I never even really took a break. Heaven help me in the re-start-up should I need to take an actual hiatus at some point in life...

- My hamstring is feeling much better. The pain will sometimes emerge when I go too fast without the proper progression, but the pain is a lot less intense and easily remedied. THEREFORE...

- ...even though I'm still trying to recover fitness and motivation to run, I'm enjoying it a whole lot more due to not hobbling around every run.


This Week's Workouts:

Sunday - 15 bike ride... so much for rest

Monday - 6 mi - outdoors
Nice and foggy morning... admittedly, I don't think the bike-riding hindered my run. I am still grappling with running outside so early in the morning. I set off right when it's bright enough to do so, which I can't do for too much longer once the days get shorter at some point.

Tuesday - 3 mi - outdoors, 25 min of No More Trouble Zones DVD; 20 min twists yoga
Basically ran up and down my street... not fun.

Wednesday - 6 mi - outdoors, 1 hr salsa
Not feeling too well today for some reason... my upper throat/sinuses feel messed up somehow, and I feel a little drained and wanting nothing more than sleep and cold fluids. I can't possibly be sick... can't confirm that, but it's unlikely. Probably just worn out. Also, forgot my sports bra so had to wear a sleeping one. It did the trick, but @$%& me for my forgetfulness!!!

Thursday - 3 mi - outdoors; 20 min of No More Trouble Zones DVD; 20 min forward bends yoga
I was tired this morning and didn't have the best run. Seems to be the story of my life lately, but then again, at least I'm not hurting. Sometimes, I just want to not exercise for a few days, but I am determined not to miss any training runs for as long as possible!

Friday - 0.5 mi - treadmill; 45 min of strength

Saturday - 11 mi - outdoors - mixed venues
One word: ugggggggh

Weekly Mileage: 29.5

Jillian Michaels' No More Trouble Zones

Before I joined a gym, I used to do workout videos. They were convenient and more motivating than writing down exercises on paper and attempting to do them.

I don't watch The Biggest Loser, but I am not hiding under a rock. I do know that Jillian is a tough trainer on the show and has been semi-responsible of hundreds/thousands? of pounds of weight loss.

So when I saw this video at Target for $9, I decided to add it to my collection. A 40-minute attack on women's worst ailments -- abs, arms? -- I'm sold. Plus, I saw a good review of it on the blog Healthy Tipping Point.

The recommended tools for this workout are a mat and set of hand weights. The first realization that I made was that the set of hand weights I have at home (at 8 lbs) is WAY to heavy to complete all the moves without dying. I think 5 lbs would work better, but I am too cheap and paranoid about stuff taking up extra space to add another set. So this means that I need to get stronger!

After a 5-minute warm-up, Jillian leads circuits. She does a few exercises and then runs through them again as a set. Without giving too much away, there is definitely ab work, squats, lunges, and planks. While I didn't find the moves difficult, the weight definitely made it excruciating at some points. My clothes definitely got the sweat shower that I was expecting.

I'm hoping this workout, which I may do 1-2 times a week, will be a good gym substitute for when I can't go. We'll see what it can do for these "trouble zones," though.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Swearing Baby

I'm not sure why I found this video so amusing, but if you have 50 seconds of time, it's worth a watch:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Random Photo Entry 17: Summer Eats

Besides tragedies like breaking my $12 sunglasses...

...this summer has thus far consisted of:

Above: Sizzling plates from Denny's!

Above: Yummy foot court food from Fashion Island in Newport Beach, CA. Wow, if only all food courts were this pretty!

Above: Longboarder's in Oceanside, CA. The top is a BBQ burger, obviously not mine. Much more boring is my soy sausage and salad.