Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Recap 2010

Remember this entry in which I donned wore a Milhouse costume?

And in 2008... did not blog about this... but here I am as a Tinkerbell. Thinking back to that Halloween, I was working two jobs and had the worst commute. I rushed to get ready for that year's brother-in-law (to be, at the time) party.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! I don't like hassling with a costume, but I do like its significance -- that is, the REAL beginning of the holidays!

As for my 2010 costume? See below, but in the meantime, I leave you with some shots of Halloweens past:

Above: 2006

Above: Also 2006.

Above: 2009 -- I mostly worked on the Mario.

And now, 2010. The bro-in-law party theme was: Tim Burton Movies.

Here's the inspiration of the costumes. I cheated a little and went with the cartoon version, because I don't have any resemblance to Winona Ryder.

Here's me without the poncho-thing.... This is more accurate to the Madonna-type fashion in the Tim Burton Beetlejuice movie...

I brought vegan brownies, and we also brought Daiya quesadillas. I got the brownies right this time. =) The secret is... a capful of oil, and instead of chocolate chips, smash up a huge block of dairy-free chocolate!

I thought I'd include this pic from the Friday before Halloween at work. We had elementary school kids coming to our building to trick-or-treat. I had a simple costume that looked something like this, worn with a skirt, tights, and boots. People kept telling me I looked cute. One even said, "Honey, you can get your food downstairs," which was a nice gesture, but that food was set up for the kids.

I don't mind being mistaken for being younger, but come on, people.

And finally, my carving that I brought over to the Tim Burton party!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rekindling Our Relationship

Talk about a rocky relationship.

A while back, I blogged about my intended re-commitment to go easy on eggs and dairy. For a while, it did not bother me that I wasn't eating too many of these products. I didn't miss them.

But I had become an eggs and potatoes kind of girl. That is -- until the massive egg recall we had a couple of months back. Since then, my egg consumption has has lessened, and when I do eat them, they are no longer enjoyable. And certainly, I have not craved them like I used to, and not because they were recalled.

But then, my cravings made a turn for the worse -- cheese. As a child, my favorite food was cheese, and even now, my top three favorite foods (1 - pizza, 2 - lasagna, 3 - Potstickers) are mostly cheesy. While I've learned to veganize some of these (e.g., vegan lasagna / pizza), there's nothing like eating pieces of cheese on crackers. And let's be honest... not even the best cheese subs are quite "the same."

I wish dairy wasn't such an integral part of society, especially when a large chunk of its inhabitants don't tolerate it very well. Lactaid (a pill containing lactase, an enzyme that helps break down lactose that people like me lack naturally) hasn't worked very well. And my cravings continue.

I can tolerate some dairy foods better than others -- Greek yogurt is (usually) fine, as is kefir. Even Yogurtland and well-timed pizzas are tolerated to an extent. But cream -- whipped, and especially the kind that sneaks into soups -- makes my stomach start LOUDLY yelling back at me in no time.

What this tells me is that some foods are less "harmful" to me than others. I did some research and found this list. It turns out that butter and cheddar don't have much lactose at all -- maybe combatable with Lactaid if I want to be extra careful. I'm going to use this list as a guideline and use my newfound knowledge to (carefully) tread in the dairy waters... least until I am morally inclined to stop again (and/or terrible cravings die down).

P.S. The fact that I had so many link-backs to old posts is because... I take my dairy and dairy intolerances very seriously! =P

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blogs: The Anti-HIPAA

This is a completely weird entry, but having read enough blogs by now, I've seen plenty of people disclose their health quirks and statuses.

I got a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) statement from my new health insurance company. They spent pages upon pages pledging that they would protect my health information under most circumstances. I am definitely grateful for such privacy!

And then I thought about the times I've blogged about/alluded to my actual or suspected

Now, there's plenty (like you wouldn't believe) HIPAA-sensitive stuff that I have NOT shared on here. I think that protecting my confidential information from insurance companies really is sort of an afterthought when I post. Moreso, it's just that I don't want people close to me to know.

I did, however, name my blog "A Case of the Runs." If you're an insurance company trying to use THAT against me, then go ahead!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Random Photo Entry 22: Pumpkin Things

Fall is awesome, along with all the flavors that come with it. Here are some of my flavor abuses of the season:

Above: Pumpkin oatmeal with hazelnut milk.

Above: Oops, this isn't pumpkin, but it IS Fall-related. I tend to crave ramen when it's cold. (No, I did not eat that meat in my bowl, but I know someone who did!)

Above: These sweet-potato fries are CLOSE to pumpkin, right? Pictured with a faux-chicken wrap from Green Earth Vegan in Pasadena, CA. This place (and Whole Foods) has allowed me to stay away from vegan fast food.

Above: I was running one evening after work, and the crisp breeze made me crave pumpkin IMMEDIATELY. I picked up an expensive can of pumpkin after my run and whipped up this muffin and some friends below:

Above: Plenty was shared an enjoyed by all! They (recipe here) were moist, but the bottoms didn't want to stay with the rest of the breads.

Above: You better bet I tried THIS. The flavor was subtle, but definitely good!

Above: Fall-related wine...

Above: Finally, some Odwalla vegan protein beverage that I picked up one day in curiosity. This was reminiscent of pumpkin, but I really wanted more sweetness or thickness...

Above: I learned there were pumpkin pie Pop-Tarts available at Target. My pumpkin-loving self went to three different locations before finding the motherload -- there were maybe 12 boxes hiding there. I only bought 2 packages, one for "The Ukrainian" and one for the little sis.

Above: Pop-Tarts don't contain much filling, but make no mistake -- this is a very yummy pastry. The pumpkin spice flavor comes through, and the frosting (although unnecessary) was a nice complement.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Camarillo Half-Marathon 2011

EVENT: Camarillo Half-Marathon
DATE: Sunday, October 9, 2011
LOCATION: Camarillo, CA
RACE BEGAN: 08:00 am
FINISH TIME: ??:??:??

I ran this race just earlier this month and have signed up again so quickly. Why? It received bad press due to its difficulties, and I wasn't that impressed by the stretches of farmland that made up most of the course.

However, in an effort to vindicate the race for those who ran it, veterans were offered free entry into the 2011 event (if registering before the end of 2010). Given that I had a pretty good race, shortcomings or not, I signed up and paid the $1.25 processing fee.

At that price, if I don't make it for some reason, it won't matter...

So if I do indeed show up at the start, I can't wait to see version 2.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Weekly Workouts: 10/24 - 10/30

I cannot emphasize enough how happy I am that it's time to taper. As you can see by my training so far, I've really been making a better-than-usual effort to stick with the training. And by golly, I've been way better than average when it comes to sticking to it, even though it started sliding off perfection during the second half (of 18 weeks, though).

My goals for this taper period are:

1) Appreciate not having to run 8-milers on weekdays. (Thank GOODNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

2) Eat more vegetables.

3) Not get injured. You see, I've been careful not to push too hard in vain efforts to increase my speed. I've learned that I run a whole darn lot faster if I am NOT injured. (I consider this the most important goal.)

4) Keep up with my supplements and SLEEP.

5) Don't get sick. Related to #4. A feat, since I think something is going around.

6) I'm going to make an extra effort not to take anymore walk breaks during my remaining runs. I have been using walk breaks as a way to cope with being weak from low iron/stress and my injuries, which was fine, but now I think I need to reassure myself that I can push through the distance. Funny thing is, my breaks can range from once a mile to once an hour, so I KNOW I have it in me to run continuously.

7) Prepare to enjoy myself in San Antonio.

8) Finalize my marathon playlist.

9) Figure out which shoes I'm going to wear to the race.

10) Yoga... in the extra time that I am not using to run, I plan on doing more of this during my taper period. While I have been trying to incorporate as part of stretching a couple times a week, I think full-on sessions would be helpful.


This Week's Workouts:

Sunday - rest

Monday - 0 (of 5) mi; 15 min upright bike @ 10.0r; 15 min elliptical; 20 min strength/stretch
Better safe than sorry. See Goal #3 above. My left ankle has been out of commission since Saturday's 20-miler. Noticed my foot was hurting during the run, but it wasn't that bad of a nuisance until Sunday. It can't handle much weight right now, let alone running. Here's to waiting until tomorrow!

Tuesday - 2-ish (of 6) mi - mixed venues; 20 min upright bike; 20 min calisthenics (sp?)
Shamefully did not make target again. While I COULD have run on my ankle, it was having varying levels of irritation that made me think it be stupid to try to keep going. Tomorrow's another day. At least I got the big runs out of the way, right?

Wednesday - maybe about 2 (of 5) mi and 30 min cardio; 10 min weights/stretch

Thursday - 5 (of 4) mi - outdoors
Like I could possibly make up for this week... so bad.... and admittedly had to walk about half of this.

Friday - 15 min upright bike; 45 min strength/stretch (including lower body weights)

Saturday - deferred long run until Sunday

Weekly Mileage: 9

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Amercanized" Vietnamese Spring Rolls

My latest culinary experiment was making spring rolls. I've been eating these at home since I can remember. Rather than unsuccessfully try to repeat my mom's version:

I couldn't find a non-fried version, but these are similar. Photo credit to Tea Time. Also, see this Random Photo Entry for a better version.

I had an "Americanized" version of this at Whole Foods and decided to try to replicate theirs. It contained tofu, clear noodles, lettuce, carrot, cucumbers, and cabbage.

So I picked up a few things, including this:

And made these:

The main "meat" is tofu that I pressed and marinated with hoisin sauce before pan-frying it. I added lettuce, spinach, some clear noodles that I boiled, shreds of carrots, cucumbers that I pickled with some vinegar+salt+sugar, avocado, and some yellow bell pepper.

You have to soak the wrappers into hot/warm water before putting anything in them, but after that, it's just like makin' a burrito. Obviously, I need to perfect my technique, but at least these did not fall apart too easily.

The best part was the avocado. Seriously, avocado + rice paper = mmmmmmm.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Random Photo Entry 21: My Random Running Facts

I ran my first race in 2006, about a month after I turned 21.

Above: In boxers (though it is hard to tell from this picture).

Also... in this picture, I was pretty darn blind. I can see without glasses, but when I used to race without them, I would often squint. Honestly, it got nauseating at times. So at Tea Time's suggestion, I got contact lenses. Because of my astigmatism, my eyes need special toric lenses that spin around with the movement of my weird-shaped eyeball (which is the cause). They probably cost a little more than TWICE of normal contact lenses, and I can only change them monthly. Well, better than yearly, which used to be my only option. Yes, ONE PAIR of a whole year. Agh!

Above: From the balcony of my college apartment.

For a point of comparison, here's a picture taken not too long after the (nerdy) above. This shot was at my (now) brother-in-law's family's beach house... a couple of days before I started graduate school. I blogged about those sunglasses on my head here. Apparently, I've gone through many sunglasses!

And for a short time in 2007, I was into Indo-Boarding. I bought one off of Craigslist and ended up reselling it on E-Bay. This was HIGHLY incompatible with running, with the obvious risk of ankle injury... But I think I was trying to prove my athleticism by doing some semi-extreme sport. Hah... like carpet is extreme, but oh well!

And finally, my favorite running time was when I ran LA Marathon 2008 with my sisters. This is a photo of us taking the subway to the start line.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Random Photo Entry 20

More random photos as of late:

Above: This is a list of tasks I need to complete in order to finish my dissertation. Though it may look like a lot, I would say it isn't... because there are details here that are pretty specific.

Above: The weirdest snack I've ever seen, courtesy of my sister (hidden with her bass clarinet).

Above: When I passed my preliminary orals, I was greeted that evening with this red velvet cake.

Above: Months ago, I got some kind of bite on my right upper arm and couldn't help myself much when it came to scratching it (bad!). Just like a parent, "The Ukrainain" told me that if I didn't get my act together, maybe it would get really bad, and I'd need an amputation. Oh geeze!

Above: Something I got at the mall... I was starving and desperate and didn't end up eating all that much of this (the dark parts are Oreos, which I DID eat). This was probably the worst slush of this sort I've ever had.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Yard House

Yard House is one of my favorite restaurants, though it is mostly known as an alcoholic establishment.

"The Ukrainian" and I used to come here pretty often, but now that we are older, wise, and poorer (kidding, of course!), Yard House and I had been strangers for a while.

A colleague (yes, I know I use that word to describe my classmates AND co-workers, or basically anyone I've met since I graduated from college) and I went to happy hour here. While I have always liked the vegetarian choices here, they started using Gardein, which opened up a whole new world!

Above: My raspberry ale. So originally, I wanted to run after this (early) happy hour, but that never happened. I think I was pretty ridiculous to think the run could still happen! But that's okay... I did it the next morning. No, I did not get a hangover. I had maybe half of this and half of another beer.

Above: Gardein buffalo pieces. The sauce was AWESOME and definitely had a kick. I haven't had any buffalo-flavored anything in YEARS. Gotta replicate it and make it with tofu.

Above: I think this was a Korean-BBQ-type dish. =D

Above: Thai pizza... those strips of chicken are faux chicken. I thought it tasted a little charred and the pizza kind of too spicy, but I ate this over the next few days without too many issues (even with the cheese it included!).

Our server kept changing, which kept things interesting. We almost got a bunch of things we did not order. =)

It had been years since I have made it to happy hour (probably about 5), so this was much-appreciated and much, much needed. Thanks to the brave people who dared to be around me last week when I was malfunctioning.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Can there be love
without that intimacy of words,
discourses of deep thoughts
that neither of us truly have?

Can there be love
if you know nothing more of me
(and I of you)
than a young body and demure wit?

Can there be love,
me never loving before
a man who also loved me? ...

This poem, which I wrote almost three years ago, continues.

It is a reminder, a fragment of the 450+ poems I have composed during a decade of my life that actually does not seem that distant from me.

I had wanted to be a writer when I was a pre-teen. My user handle, "Nobel4Lit," came from the fact that I wanted to win a Nobel Prize for Literature. Yes, I liked to write THAT much. But several things came in between me and that dream -- teachers in high school who brought me down, comparing myself to other people who write better than me, emotional instabilities, intellectual changes, and my gravitation toward the "pseduo-science" they call psychology. Since then, I traded poems for research writing and embracing and expressing my feelings with running them the heck away.

The writing in my blog is typically not what I am capable of, but I accepted it as the persona I wanted to put out there. It's Julie, not "Nobel4Lit." This is a runner's -- not a muser's -- blog. But I am starting to think of this blog as a reflection of myself, and that self is starting to realize my other passions besides running. What passions? I've always liked to create and express myself -- from making toys out of paper as a kid to glee club, choir, drama, band, video-making, music-mixing (I had a DJ profile on MySpace, which I think is private now), and then poetry.

But for these past few years, I've invested so much energy into running, and I don't regret that. But I have felt myself starting to move on from this (example). And really, I can't have my heart in it the way I used to, so although I am still training, something inside of me is different.

There is a life beyond running, and even a life beyond my other obligations. I have experimented with driving with running sitting in the backseat, and I definitely think I've started enjoying all the "other things" more, whereas before I looked at them with disdain knowing they were more distractions.

Runners are compulsive, but I've learned to move away from this compulsion. I do not always need to be "the runner." I refuse to bond with others just because they run like me when I otherwise would not have befriended that person. A colleague of mine made me truly realize that there is much more to me than that, with four hours of conversation containing only but 5 minutes about my running and associated adventures.

I don't think this blog will change, because after all, I am still training and racing. But if it does, at least this would explain some of it. Either way, this "case of the runs" is just that -- I might be one of the few runners composing lines of poetry during long runs.

Besides work/school/running, this week I am concentrating on making my Halloween costume, planning a dinner party, and yes, writing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weekly Workouts: 10/17 - 10/23


This Week's Workouts:

Sunday - rest

Monday - 0 (of 5) mi; 50 min cardio (elliptical w/arms & s. bike); 20 min strength (abs/hamstrings/upper body)
Woke up today with a headache(?) or massive stiff neck... can't tell which. Something told me I needed to take it easy. Pumped my gas, went to the gym, tried to run and once I got over my morning deadweight legs, realized I was running straight toward burnout hell and decided to do other cardio instead and save it for Tuesday.

Tuesday - 8 mi - outdoors
Done like dinner, punk! (Extra pride due to the fact that I am feeling worn out with questionable health. I've had a sore throat for 6 days now, although today so far feels better than the rest.)

Wednesday - 5 mi - indoors; 20 min strength/stretch

Thursday - 5 mi - outdoors; 20 min hip-openers yoga
Two five-milers (PM and AM in a row... take that, lack of energy!).

Friday - 10 min s. bike, 20 min strength/stretch

Saturday - 20 mi - outdoors

Weekly Mileage: 38

Saturday, October 16, 2010

(My Blog is) Four Years Old

Today is this A Case of the Runs' fourth blog-o-versary! (Can't you see from that picture that' I'm wearing 4 hats?) ;)

In March of 2006, I posted this entry in my old LiveJournal account after watching my sisters, Tea Time and Sister S complete their first marathon. I thought it was such a monumental feat and an affirmation that I really thought I could do anything that I strived to do.

A Case of the Runs was born on October 16, 2010 in Kerckhoff Hall at UCLA sometime in the afternoon, the day after I ran my second half-marathon in Long Beach, CA. I was hashing out my last quarter of undergraduate studies and wanted to remember my race experiences so that I could pinpoint the good and the bad in the future. My sisters were into scrapbooking, but I did/do not have the patience or creativity for that. The blog was the solution.

My site was hosted on my school's domain back then, but in April of 2007, I moved it over to Blogger. That was around the time I realized that I could remember the good and bad of my running gear, too, and thus, the continuing concept of this blog was born!

For a long time, I don't think anyone read this blog, as it was mostly for me. But I suddenly received solicitations for reviews... and then the comments started. I realized then that blogging is meant to be shared! It was scary, as I am normally a pretty private person, but I actually found myself enjoying it when random people spotted me in real life and recognized me from my blog!

It has been a pleasure to own a blog, to read other bloggers' blogs, and create an online presence to take full advantage of the technology that graces our modern world. It is great for me to have a written record of my progress, as well as little life details, that have transpired within the past four years, most notably:

- running my first marathon
- meeting my sweetie (here and here)
- changing jobs (here, here, and here) -- sad, I know! and that's not even all of it!
- earning my Master's degree

So Happy Four (and many more) to A Case of the Runs, and the same to Mr. B-B-B-B!!

Above: Can you believe he was only a few months old at the time this photo was taken (my 21st birthday)?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Weekly Workouts: 10/10 - 10/16

This week begins the final month of training before the San Antonio Rock n Roll Marathon.

I usually don't "look forward" to marathons very much, beyond just getting them "over with," but I think a few things have changed my outlook:

1) Following my sister's journey to the Chicago Marathon.

2) Running more than 20 miles this weekend without dying (much).

3) I REALLY need a vacation! I haven't been anywhere truly "away" since maybe May in Santa Barbara, or perhaps in June in San Diego. As for plane rides, I haven't been on one of those since June 2008.

4) My CEP compression sleeves, salt-packet sucking, and GU intake strategy have been helping out with these long runs a lot.

5) I've been pretty good about eating well and really good about my supplements, so I'm starting to feel MUCH better now than I had been.


This Week's Workouts:

Sunday - rest

Monday - 0 mi (of 5); 45 min cardio; some foam roller; 10 min weights

Tuesday - 7.75 (close ENOUGH to 8) mi - outdoors

Wednesday - 2 (of 5) mi; 20 min strength

Thursday - nothing... I drowned my sorrows at happy hour even though I had planned to run afterward

Friday - 5 mi - indoors; 5 min; 10 min strength; foam roll
Making up for yesterday by combining Thu/Fri workouts as best I could in the allotted time.

Saturday - 12 mi - outdoors

Weekly Mileage: 27

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lenny & Larry's: The Complete Cookie

I've actually tried a lot of these vegan cookies, which are about the size of a CD. One cookie will set you back about 400 calories, but for 15 grams of protein, it isn't a bad deal.

The flavors I've tried are: oatmeal raisin, lemon poppy seed, chocolate chip, and peanut butter. I featured this peanut butter one because it's my favorite. I like the little peanuts that you can find in it.

If you are a non-vegan, these cookies are sure to please. They may not be as crumbly as "normal" cookies, but I personally think they taste better than the "real" counterparts.

Best of all, these cookies come from good ol' Los Angeles, a place that I will always consider my home no matter where I end up!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kookie Karma

I picked up one of these cookies one day at Whole Foods in the refrigerated bar section. Due to my urge for something sweet, I chose this vegan cookie, which had 7 grams of protein and decent nutrition overall.

Here's the shot of the lovely cookie. Look at all that chocolate-y goodness!! I liked that this cookie came cold, because I LOVE refrigerated desserts, probably even more than fresh-outta-the-oven ones. This cookie is dense, not too sweet, but definitely a sweet-tooth pleaser!

I categorized this in the "bars" category, because honestly, this is better than most bars. It just happens to be a in round shape! Now if only it were cheaper...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Random Photo Entry 19

It's been a while since I've done one of these Random Photo Entries... So in the true spirit of randomness, here are some recent photos:

Above: I saw this shirt at Target and thought it would be ironic of me to wear it due to my lactose intolerance.

Above: End-of-summer concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Never have I seen so many light sabers being thrashed/pumped in the air at once.

Above: My dad claims these are the smallest mangoes in the world.

Above: Yogurtland! "The Ukrainian" and I sometimes go here for dinner (although as implied above, I am NOT the dairy queen). Yes, you read that right -- dinner. We normally share a tub like this.

Above: I somewhat regret not getting this dress, but I honestly don't have an occasion or closet space for this. But I still like taking random fitting room pics as sort of a "try before you buy" thing.