Sunday, January 31, 2010

Over-Outage

This week has been such a blur. I've been getting in some good running/training, but really, besides the start of school, I can only remember this week by the numerous times I went out to eat. I'm not used to eating out that much, as I never did often as a child. I remember in high school, going to an end-of-the-year banquet not knowing how to use my napkin and cutlery at my table. I much prefer cooking and dining in with "The Ukrainian" than going out, but that is what the schedule had brought us this week.

But with the Surf City Half-Marathon coming up next week, I need to make sure I keep my eating much, much healthier than it has been this week!

At least I can now bring you some pictures, which is good, since I think more people have been coming to my blog to see them!

Wednesday:

Above: Before my Wednesday night salsa lesson, "The Ukrainian" and I want to New Happy Family Vegetarian Restaurant in Rosemead, CA. This place serves fancy seafood Asian dishes minus the seafood. This picture above is fish curry. It was not bad, though I could have had the curry thicker. What can you expect without butter?

Above: A skillet. Note the fake shrimp. I apologize for forgetting to shoot a pic until we were halfway done with the meal.

Above: This came free with the meal -- fried rice. Yes, that's fake ham. It was tasty. Again, we ordered too much food, so this became another meal.

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Thursday:

Above: My co-workers and I stopped at Waba Grill in Chino, CA during our software training. This is a veggie bowl with brown rice (sorry the rice is not pictured). They claim to be healthy, and I could definitely taste that -- in the best way possible.

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Friday:
Above: No, I didn't go to Japan... this is actually Genki Living, a crepe place in Arcadia, CA.

Above: I got this oden bowl, which came with fish cakes (not eaten by me), fried tofu, a boiled egg, udon, and daikon.



Above: And here are the crepes -- kiwi/red bean/custard, cheesecake with nutella and peach, and a taro taiyaki that I brought home to my sister.



Above: A sign I passed on the way out. Interesting food they had next door...

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Sunday:
Above: One of my lunches this weekend was with two of my closest friends, who I will refer to as "Choir Girl" and "Councilman." We went to Hot Stuff Cafe in San Gabriel, CA as part of dineLA Restaurant Week. They had special three-course meals for a discounted price, although I ended up ordering off the regular menu due to lack of vegetarian options. Here is the starter garlic bread (nothing special) and cream of corn soup.


Above: The appetizers -- duck pate with crutons, scallop sashimi with fennel and ham.

Above: The drinks we got -- strawberry/lemon/plum slush and kumquat/honey/lemon tea. Somehow, the entree pics (pecan-crusted salmon and my sweet potato ravioli) never turned out, so you'll have to settle for these!

Above: These were our desserts (from upper left, clockwise -- whipped brie, bread pudding, and chocolate pasta). The pasta was a big fail and was left rather untouched. The brie was good, but the bread pudding turned out to be my favorite.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Random Photo Entry 10: Wake Up in the Morning Feeling Like P Diddy

I'm already at my tenth "Random Photo Entry," and to make up for the relatively shorter ones, here's an extra large one.



Above: Lo and behold, training binders. Nobody told me that my job requires lifting ability, but hauling these things is good exercise!


Above: This element of my job requires little lifting -- training evaluations! Now this is what I'm talking about!


Above: My new camera was put to good use here, wasn't it? I have to get to our training hotel as the sun is rising, but on this particular morning, I had to whip out my camera. My sister Tea Time wonders how I ever got a blog readership using my Moto-Razr phone to take pictures. I'm still going to be using both!


Above: Another early-morning shot.


Above: Gummies from the UK that we bought at (Cost Plus) World Market. I am a huge fan of this place, which sells imports of house stuff and food. I always fall victim to candy here, but these were particularly good -- very chewy, and comes in yummy flavors like pear and black currant.


Above: Another procurement from World Market. This dark-chocolate graham cracker with sea salt was shared by "The Ukrainian" and me for dessert last night.


Above: We bought a partially-baked baguette from the local supermarket, and due to my over-adherence to the directions, it came out a little overdone... but still good.


Above: On one of the stormy days this week, I took refuge in front of the fireplace. "The Ukrainian" joined me, and dinner turned out to be a fire-side picnic. Picture courtesy of self-timer!


Above: Ahhh, toasty! Another self-timed picture!


Above: Finally, I told "The Ukrainian" that I could post his unwanted engineering books to sell online if he provided all the critical info. I do this, and most of my books sell... eventually. Anyway, this is a partial screen shot of the appraisal I did. An estimated sell-total is the lower right-hand corner. If even half of this amount is wheeled in, I'm going to demand a fancy dinner... just kidding!

Unfortunately, school starts tomorrow, so my winter break is over. It's not like I actually had a break, as I pretty much worked all possible days at my old job (save 1 day to go to Mammoth, and Christmas/New Years') and have had to make a transition to the new one.

Loving the Loving Hut

I am catching up on some posts on this lazy Sunday. I have had a great weekend so far just relaxing, running, walking, and trying to stay warm after a week of stormy weather. This post features more output from my new camera (shrunken down for storage purposes).

Last Friday, "The Ukrainian" and I went to Loving Hut for some dinner. I needed some fuel for a 17-miler the next morning. Just as some background, since "The Ukrainian" and I work for the same utility, we're usually in and out of work earlier than most people, work out in the late afternoon, and sometimes go out to eat afterward.

The Loving Hut is vegan, which was surprising to me, since there aren't too many vegan places in my area. I don't order meat or tolerate dairy very well, so vegan places are a safe haven for me. I was excited to know that I could order anything on the menu and kept asking the waiter what I'm sure were annoying questions like, "Is this ice cream made with dairy?" I was so skeptical, and I had trouble deciding what to get!


Above: "Beef" chow-mein. This was really good... they really maximized the wok flavor in these noodles. The "beef" was chewy and actually reminiscient of beef. I rarely eat beef substitutes, but this was rather good!


Above: Ocean Basket. This came with fake fried shrimp, chicken, and fish. Not shown too well in this picture is some fake tartar sauce and sweet/sour dip. Neither of these were exactly like the "real thing," but they were passable. The french fries did not wow me, only because those are easily vegan, anyway! I liked the fake chicken the most, since the texture emulated the source the best. I didn't like the taste of the oil used, though. I think it was grape-seed or sunflower, and although I dig the attempt at healthiness, it kind of weirded me out a little. Also, most people would probably do better adding salt. Overall, though, this got my fried-food fix out of the way for a little while!


Above: Won-ton noodle soup. This came with egg-less noodles, a flavorful broth, fake-pork wontons, and fake char-siu (barbecued pork) slices. The char-siu was a little weird due to texture but was tasty. The noodles and soup were great, though, and the wontons were not too far off from the real things. I am often searching for non-meat dumplings, and this really got my craving out.


Finally, dessert. I reviewed Real Food Daily a while back, and I must say that Loving Hut's desserts are a third of the price of RFD's. Besides that, I wasn't disappointed by LH's rendition of carrot cake. The middle layer definitely tasted cream-cheese-ish, though I learned not to try to sample each layer on its own. Really, to get the realistic effect of carrot cake, all layers should be included in each bite (same is true with RFD's desserts).

All in all, we ordered too much food that had to be taken home. Anyway, my 17-miler went beautifully, and I'm wondering if it's because of this yummy vegan food. =) Either way, I will be back. I should mention that the meat-eating "Ukrainian" liked it as well.

By the way, Loving Hut is a nation-wide chain, so maybe there's one in YOUR area to try??!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Real Foods - Corn Thins



After I crossed the finish line recently at the 13.1 Half Marathon in Los Angeles, they were handing out these corn thins as a post run food item along with bananas, apples and bagels. I actually had to throw away my apple and banana from that race since the ones I picked out were both rotten. :( Sad. Anyways, I did not end up eating these corn thins until the following week when I was sitting at my desk one afternoon and got the munchies. These taste just like ricecakes but better. They have a better crunch since they are thinner and taste like plain popcorn. Overall, I like them. Don't these look like drink coasters to you?

I went to the product website (Real Foods) and looks like this company is located in Australia...how exotic?!? That's far away. You can go to the website to read all about the nutritional info and some "recipes" on how to jazz them up.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Adidas Supernova Sequence 2: miles as of 3/21/10 (174/500)

UPDATE: 9/19/10

I have set these shoes aside for shorter runs and/or non-running activities. Somehow, these shoes strain my calves on longer runs, but they are still cute and good for other activities. I DO engage in other activities, right?

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Original Post: 1/19/10

Following my sister Tea Time's footsteps, I got a pair of these Adidas Supernova Sequence 2 in the color seen above. I really like how cushiony they feel and that they are relatively cheaper than other running shoes ($99.99 retail, but I got mine cheaper online).

I've always wanted to try Adidas, but they always came in "third" in the recommendations from the running store. So far, I think these shoes are great and did I mention cushiony? I have yet to find a "perfect" running shoe, so I hope this is it so I can just keep buying the same pair online forever.

Above: P.S. This is the first picture I've posted taken from my new camera... though I took down the image quality quite a bit so it wouldn't take up so much server space.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Running Headaches

For over a year, I have been getting these devestating headaches after morning runs. By "devestating," I mean an ache that starts slowly but progresses into nausea, and a few times, vomiting (TMI?). This mainly happens after hard runs or anything over 6 miles.

I tried drinking a lot of water, but that often did not help. So the other day after my 17-miler (which went very well by the way), I randomly drank a leftover Clif Quench that I had lying around. Sure enough, no headache. I even drove out to see "The Ukrainian" and did not have that extreme fatigue/sleepiness that long runs and drives normally give me.

According to the article I linked below, as well as a Google search, I learned that electrolyte imbalances can cause headaches. I always figured that muscle cramping was a result of an imbalance, but the brain? Maybe it's the "muscles" around my skull? The scary thing is, though, that if I am really having an imbalance enough to give me these bad headaches, then my muscles must be experiencing something, even if I can't feel it. Especially that big muscle -- the heart -- which in extreme situations, can experience cardiac arrest. Did you know that the increased risk for marathon-related heart attacks isn't just there during the race... it continues for 24 hours afterward (see Wikipedia; not the most reliable source, but it has the documentation to back that up)?

Sure enough, I did a lot of intervals this morning and did not get a headache, either. Maybe I still have enough electrolytes? The fact that I never used to get this until I gave up sports drinks sends me the cue that gels are not enough.

So runners, consider this a PSA (Public Service Announcement). Keep your electrolytes in balance!

P.S. Below is a list of foods I resisted today. They are copious in the office. Not that I am on a diet (I find people who obsess about that kind of thing annoying and need to focus on more important things in life; yes, I used to be one of those people, so I know!), but I pride myself on being able to control myself and save myself from a few stomachaches -- a topic for another post(?).

- powdered brownie bites
- banana cream pie (yes, even my dairy-intolerant self would normally nibble at this)
- Spanish rice
- enchiladas
- lasagna
- chocolate cake
- some sort of Mexican beans

P.P.S. It is extremely rainy and windy out there. After having waited and ran 26.2 miles in similar weather, most rain storms in Southern California no longer phase me. However, I have to say that today was worse than any of those two, and I'm glad I already ran today and simply need to worry about driving those 7 miles home when work lets out.

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Link:
http://caloriecount.about.com/headache-ft58737

Friday, January 15, 2010

Running, Baby!

It seems like I've been neglecting my blog, but in reality, there hasn't been much going on worthy of blooging.

Races: So originally, I was planning on doing the Walt Disney World Goofy Race-and-a-Half Challenge next January. However, money is tight, priorities are shifting, and I really think this trip would be better suited for when I graduate. That means that I will probably go for other races in 2011... maybe Big Sur, Wine Country Half-Marathon series, and/or my first ultramarathon (50k).

School: My latest dissertation draft is in, which I aggressively worked on earlier this week. So for now, there is not much to do with this beast... I'll probably spend some time on the research materials this weekend. I am also still working that second job for field hours, though with working overtime on my other job, it is becoming difficult to do my assignments on time. And my one class for the semester has yet to begin. I need more time and energy!

Running: I have a 17-miler slated for tomorrow, but after last weekend's super-slow 14, I am not looking forward to it. I have switched around my LA Marathon training a bit so that I don't run any 20-milers before my next race. I fear fatigue and injury, and given that Surf City is a relatively easy course, I want to run a decent time. I've been doing 2 speed workouts and 2 non-speed workouts each week, which brings my running days to 4. I cross-train on the other days, and this seems to work for me in terms of injury/illness prevention, resting, and my schedule (which is conducive to illness).

Job: Still going well, even though I've had to make schedule adjustments. We're about to take my manager out for a "baby shower" lunch. You should have seen how slick I was in inviting him to lunch without knowing what it was for! Nobody suspects this innocent one, ha ha.

Anyway, aforementioned boss is having his first kid within the next few weeks, a boy. I also went to a co-worker's kid's 2nd birthday party, and yeah, everyone brought a kid (or more). I know I'm young (not really -- I know lots of people my age with kids) and never desired kids, but it might be nice to have a munchkin to tote along to those kind of events. In spite of the difficulty, I think I would make a decent parent to what could potentially be a half-Ukrainian, one-quarter Chinese and one-quarter Vietnamese kid, pushing that jogging stroller and having that kid strapped onto me while I go about my normal activities. Hah! Well, I still have some things to get done before that happens, but this is one of the few times I actually think about my future beyond what races I will run. =D

On a semi-related note, my mom's birthday is coming up, so we are celebrating this weekend. I know everyone says this, but my mom is the best!

Monday, January 11, 2010

13.1 Los Angeles Half Marathon Review - Santa Monica, CA

Guest Review by Tea Time (Madison):
(see all of Tea Time's guest posts HERE)

I think this is my first official race review ever. I might have done a couple before but they were either commentary pieces or were very short reviews. So here is my first attempt.

So I started my weekend on Saturday with breakfast at Mimi's Cafe before heading out to Santa Monica to pick up my bib at the REI Santa Monica store. Check out this huge breakfast! That muffin is the best muffin ever!


Here I am driving pass the Santa Monica Pier on my way to check out the parking situation for race morning.

Here is the REI store front and inside where I picked up my bib. There was no expo for this race since it was pretty small. I was pretty much in-and-out in 15 minutes and this included looking around the store a bit. I found nothing good to buy. I also walked around the area a bit as there were some shops nearby. I went into Leonidas - a belgian chocolate store and purchased a gift for my sister who is letting me crash at her place and also a couple of pieces of chocolates which I didn't get a good look at which is why there are no photos :(

Then I headed to my sister's place to hang out. She was heading out to a potluck that evening with her friends and invited me along. I helped her cook and prepare some of the food.

I spent a couple of hours at the potluck with my sister. Check out all the food there. I tried hard not to eat too much since I was running tomorrow. But those balls below are Porto's mashed potato balls stuffed with meat. They were pretty good and everyone loved them. That tequila below which I had none of ;) was pomegranate infused and was yummy as I was told. :)




So I woke up on race moring at 4:30am, got ready and packed and headed out the door. I got to Santa Monica - parking lot 5 at around 5am and took a little nap and use the porta potty before the the lines started. Since we were parking at a beach lot there were also beach restroom a few feet from where we were parked which was nice since I ended up changing into my sweats after the race in those beach restrooms. At around 6:30am I got out of the car to use the restroom once more, then I stretched a bit and went for a jog on the boardwalk. At 7:05am, I got out of my sweats and headed to the startline which was right there in front of lot 5, I love it when everything is just there.

Unfortunately I didn't get too many race day photos. I am pretty sad about that since I ran into Danica who I won my race entry from and she was out on the course in her pink tutu cheering everyone on. I saw her on the course as well as at the finish line. She and her friend Billy were riding around the course on their bikes with boombox going.

The course itself was really flat. The volunteers were great as always and the fluid stations were well stocked. People actually lined themselves up in the correct corrals all by themselves. I didn't have to dodge too many people who were in the wrong corral so I was happy. The race started a couple minutes late but that was only because the police department was doing a final "all-clear" check of the roads. Then we were off.

The good part about the course was that it was flat, the bad part was that it was boring. Running an out-and-back route on Venice Blvd really sucked. I was mostly just trying to concentrate on running a good race as there was really not much else to look at it. The entertainment on the course were few and I really didn't see them as they were tucked in obscure places along the course. I think by the end, I just wanted to cross the finish line and be done with it. Having said all that, it is a great race and course to PR since it has a small field and flat course.

And here is the medal, it is pretty heavy duty and the oval center with the "13.1" on it spins inside the outer ring. I managed to PR at 1:48:16 which is an overall 8:15 min/mile. I was out to PR so I ran this race pretty serious, at least for me. It felt great to finally come in under 1:50 which I've been wanting to do for 2 years now. Now, if only I can keep up this pace for 26.2 miles, I'd be golden! :D

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Random Photo Entry 9: Earning that Medal

I dragged my lazy self out this morning for a run, the first long one of the new year and the longest I've done since last month. Really, when I cross finish lines at races, I feel like that medal that gets placed around my neck is not only a reward for finishing the race. I consider those the prize that I get for all the training I put myself through. You probably know what I'm talking about... waking up to run on the weekend in spite of feeling like you've been rolled over by a street cleaning truck... drinking questionable water at your training grounds... using even more questionable places to relieve yourselves... Yes, I've put myself through so much of that, and I have lots of medals to show for them!

I have updated some of my previous race reports to include pictures of the medals. I used to be really good with this, but somehow, I keep forgetting about that shiny paperweight once I hang it up in my room. So here are the links to the entries I updated:

OC Half-Marathon 2009
Santa Barbara Wine Country Half-Marathon Relay 2009
Long Beach Half-Marathon 2009 (updated with picture of jacket)
Las Vegas Rock n Roll Marathon 2009

These pictures of medals don't qualify as the "random photo entry" that I tagged, so here are some photos below depicting how my life might be for the next few months. I spend most days out of the office now, getting fed breakfast and lunch at a nice hotel while I get to set up and observe training and meet people in high places just like that. Once my computer stuff gets settled, I will obviously need to be working on that while doing my "observing," which is much-welcomed, since anyone who knows me understands that I multitask like it's second nature.

I know I just started, but I think I am going to like my new gig very much. Not just because I can stay at that hotel overnight whenever I want, but because I got to take on a high-visibility project so quickly. During the lunch breaks, I randomly sit with some of the supervisors being trained and ask for their honest opinions about the benefits they are getting and what can be changed. Practically everyone in my department is a psychologist, which makes me feel less weird.

The downside to all of this is that I have been working overtime, and the schedule forces me to still wake up very early so I can do part of my workout in the morning and the other in the evening when I've already been wiped out from the overtime. This is why I have had to reinstate running on the weekend, as I used to do my long runs in the late afternoon. Also, working out in the mornings is HARD, because no matter what I do the night before, my body feels weaker than even after work. I'm sure I'll figure all of this out soon, but one thing I will make sure is that I continue getting to my workouts.


Above: Meet my new boyfriend, my Canon SD780 IS. I put my glasses beside it for a size comparison. It is actually a lot smaller than I thought it would be, and so far, I am loving the results. Don't worry, you'll get to see some soon, but obviously it will take longer for me to upload pics.


Above: This was taken in a lovely bathroom at the training hotel.


Above: I get to sit at the "guest table" in the back of the room. Like my "entertainment"?

Finally, tomorrow is the Los Angeles 13.1 race. I am not running it, but Tea Time is... so good luck!! Maybe you'll want to post a race report?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Random Photo Entry 8 - Home Cooking

I thought I'd start off the year with some pictures of some of the dinners that "The Ukrainian" and I conjure up sometimes on the weekends...


Above: Vegan cream cheese, tomato, cucumber, and avocado.


Above: Rotisserie lemon-pepper chicken (store-bought) with brown rice, sundried tomatoes, cut-up green onions, and radishes. My version had soy chicken nuggets, though I will admit that some drippings from the rotisserie got in there. =O And yes, that's some cheap wine from Trader Joe's.


Above: This past weekend... canned green beans w/mushrooms, sandwich thin with vegan cream cheese and hummus (not combined), and a small block of vegan cheese to munch on. Admittedly, I ended up biting some havarti (sp?) cheese from "his" plate.


Above: "His" plate. I also had some of these crescent rolls (from a can, unfortunately). The thing on the right is turkey meatloaf, which I made out of some left ground turkey meat referenced here. The imported beer is from World Market. It was very bitter. I shouldn't have tried (i.e., had a few sips) any, as I had just downed 1 Tylenol pill for a headache and ended up falling asleep after eating. Fortunately, the headache disappeared when I awoke.