Thursday, March 31, 2011

Milks, part 3

This is my third post in a series of entries about non-dairy milk alternatives.

- Original "Milks..." post
- Milks, part 2

I continued my journey through non-dairy milks, trying to avoid soy whenver possible just because of all the hoop-la surrounding it.

But then I saw this "Silk" brand, notorious for soy milk, come out with an almond version.  Nutritionally, it fared better with me than other almond milks because of added vitamin/minerals and slightly more protein.  Lack of protein is my #1 complaint about almond milk... especially since I figure that almonds are protein-rich in their whole form.

Bottom line: This is the tastiest almond milk I've tried!  It isn't watery and has a good amount of sweetness without being overly so.  I was able to drink this by itself, eat it with cereal, and even cook with it.




Next on the list is this hemp milk.  Yes, I went there.  And no, I didn't smoke anything. ;)  I had avoided hemp milk because it is seemingly the most expensive of all the non-dairy alternatives out there.  This one was on sale (it goes on sale periodically at Whole Foods).

My verdict -- this one is my new favorite non-dairy beverage!  Its consistency is perfect!  If I were made of money, I'd spend the $3.99 this normally costs when it's not on sale.


Last time, I reviewed this coconut milk (middle) in the vanilla flavor and did not like it.  This time, I decided to try it again in the regular one, and I must say that although the thickness is still offputting, it does REALLY well in baked goods!  Actually, with some cereal, this went down easily and contains the fewest calories of the bunch.


The remaining two I'll go through quickly.  On the left, you see this "Hemp Dream" milk, which oddly has tie-dye on the front. :$  I found this milk to be a little on the watery side and had a slightly strange flavor.  It was perfectly fine used in oatmeal.

Worse is that one on the right, Pacific.  I like Pacific's soy milk, but this hemp milk is totally watery and has an odd flavor.  Be warned.  Plus, they aren't cheap.  I got by because of sales and coupons.

I'm really glad there are so many non-soy, non-dairy alternatives out there nowadays that don't necessarily cost as much as a gallon of gas these days (yeesh!). 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Processed Food

After "The Ukrainian" got a food processor months ago, we finally started using it recently!

It made its debut to make this chocolate chip cookie dough truffle recipe from Healthy Food for Living.  Yep, another "ball" shaped dessert...


So far, so good...  There are a bunch of other attachments in the package, which I'm not sure how to use.  I'm still trying to tap into this thing's full potential...


Here was dinner that night.  I did not make this hummus... but it was the primary dinnner, along with the dough balls. :)  It will take me a while to realize the "life-changing" power of a food processor...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Saucony Hurricane 12

After destroying my previous pair of shoes during the rainy (an understatement) LA Marathon, I needed to spring for a new pair of shoes before gearing up for Fargo Marathon

I've tried many brands of shoes by now, but I walked into the store demanding that I try something new.  Well, unfortunately, they only had two stability shoes in my size in the store, so I was left with slim pickings.

Fortunately, there was a clear winner in this two-shoe contest, and it's one that I know pretty well.... Saucony Hurricane 12!  I ran in two pairs of Hurricane 10's a while back, but the 11 didn't seem to work for me the last time I bought shoes.  The 12 is everything I liked about the 10's... and more!  They fit in the right places (especially the heel), feel like a cloud, are deep enough for my flattish/wide foot, and are actually attractive. :)

Looking foward to the next six months (that's how long my shoes typically last)!

Friday, March 25, 2011

5toSurvive

I hope that we will not too soon forget that a nation is still reeling from one of the greatest natural disasters in history.  

I am so thankful to those who donated to my LA Marathon Japan Tsunami Relief Fundraiser for the American Red Cross.  Those few hundred dollars will definitely help. 

A few friends of mine are also helping in the effort.  Genevieve, in Hong Kong, is running ~25k in honor of Japan (around a horse race track).  And Anna, my friend who teaches and lives in Fukui, Japan, has been working hard since the event, collecting supplies.

On April 11, Anna will be running 5k to raise funds for the stricken areas of her country.  Anna writes the following:

"As someone who lives in Japan, I have been both shocked at the destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami, and amazed at how people are coming together to help those in need. Watching these events unfold, I’ve had one continuous thought on my mind, 'How can I help?'. And when I sat down to think about what I could do, I turned to what I know best: running.

As a keen runner from a young age, I have entered many races and seen what charity runs can do. Each year the London marathon raises millions for charities, and now its our turn to make a difference for Japan.

So...here’s your chance. On Sunday, April 10th, at 3:11pm I am challenging myself to run 5toSurvive -- 5kms to benefit earthquake/tsunami relief -- and I'm asking all of you to join me. This is an event created for everyone, no matter who or where you are, to join forces and help.

If you're a serious runner then go for it, if you're not then have fun! Invite some friends, put on a costume, and walk the distance with a bucket for donations along the way. The great thing is you can decide the details of your event, but you'll be doing it with others from around the world.

The idea is to run or walk 5km and raise money by doing it. Trust me, this really is where you can make a difference. There are 47 prefectures in Japan. If one person can raise 10,000 yen per prefecture, it will be 470,000 yen. Imagine what a group of 5 or 10 of you can do! (And now imagine runs in New York, London, Toronto, LA and you see what we are going to achieve!)

It’s easy to raise money -- just join the 5toSurvive team on justgiving.com and your friends and family can easily donate to GlobalGiving’s earthquake relief efforts. Here’s how you get started in a few easy steps:

STEP 1: Go to http://www.justgiving.com/ and click 'Get Started.' and 'Make Your Page.' Choose 'Personal Challenge' and follow the directions. Now go to https://www.justgiving.com/teams/5tosurvive/ and click 'Join Team.' (Down at the bottom where it lists the team members). Select the page that you just made and join the team!

STEP 2: Create your 5km course. (There's a number of websites you can use for this, I would recommend mapmyrun.com).

STEP 3: Plan your event -- Big or small, its up to you. Feel free to run on your own. Or find people to run with you: a few friends or your local AJET group, running club, or college’s Japanese Culture Association. (To add an extra element of fun, plan to wear costumes!)

STEP 4: Raise awareness and tell people to sponsor you through your justgiving.com page so you can track your progress.

STEP 5: Go out and do it!

If you have any questions or are having trouble getting your 5km together, please contact contactus@5tosurvive.org.


I’m urging you to do what you can to raise donations and awareness! There really is no quick fix, and rebuilding the region will take years. By joining 5toSurvive and running or walking what is probably less than your everyday commute to work, you can be a part of a worldwide effort to remember the victims of the tsunami and give the people still struggling in the face of such devastation a helping hand. If running isn’t your thing or you want to do more then follow in mine and others footsteps, I’d encourage you to organise something by yourself or with your friends!


Thanks! And I’ll see you on the starting line."

------

Name: 5toSurvive: Running for Japan

Date and time: April 10th, 3.11pm

Brief explanation:

An International 5km walk/run in aid of he Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief. More locations are added daily but we hope that with further promotion, we will be able to reach out and provide everyone with a easily accessible location to get involved.

The proceeds will be donated to the Red Cross, Living Dreams and Smile Kids Japan.

For more information on these charities please see the links below:

American Red Cross: http://american.redcross.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ntld_main

Living Dreams: http://livingdreams.jp/main/

Smile Kids Japan: http://www.smilekidsjapan.org/

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Whine Country

Coincidentally enough, this photo of this pout-y version of myself was taken in "Wine Country" (Solvang, CA). 

But I'm talking about wHining... you know, that thing that kids and girlfriends do.

Increasingly, I have seen more and more people posting negative comments on companies' Facebook pages, news stories, and everywhere else that allows for "social media" input.

There's nothing wrong with unpopular opinions or alerting a company if something is wrong, but sometimes, I think the postings get out of hand.  It's as though everyone who did not have the guts to contact the company personally (via phone or e-mail) suddenly came out and unleashed their rage (doesn't matter if the rage came from the product or their bosses, dogs, or whatever) in forums that could mar companies' reputations.

And a lot of these demands that people are making are just plain unreasonable.

Case in point: in the days following LA Marathon, I saw several comments on their Facebook page demanding a refund, free stuff, or a discount for next year... just because of the bad weather.  In spite of my difficulties that day, I posted the following response:


My LA Marathon finishing shot.

This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I'm a little bit appalled by all the comments demanding free stuff/refunds just because of the poor weather. When you register for this (and most other) race/s, part of what you agree to is that... they are not responsible if they need to cancel/curtail/etc. events due to natural disasters, etc.
I don't think anyone knew how severe a storm this was going to be, and a lot of the shortcomings that day (gear check) resulted from volunteers who didn't want to get caught up in that storm. Santa Monica is notorious for bad traffic, compounded by the rain, so that part is expected.
Anyone who signed up for Pasadena Marathon 2008 knows that races can get canceled and your $$$ not refunded at all.
Just move the family reunion area closer to the finish line to prevent that crowding at the end.
As disappointed as I was to see Pasadena Marathon canceled in 2008 with my registration fees lost, I was able to see things from the race organizers' points-of-view.  The race was canceled due to three major fires making the air quality unsafe to run the night before the race.  They had already spent the money on closing streets, shirts, renting space, food, etc. etc.  And, as I said above, I clicked the "I Agree" button when I registered, which covered natural disasters for them.

The LA Marathon staff did not show any gross negligence (lacking water stations, etc.).  That kind of rain and wind was just off the scale of possibilities for the area, and even when things took a turn for the worse, they did what they could by opening warming areas, etc.  Yes, there were about 20,000 cold, wet runners.  That sheer amount just became hard to manage in those unpredictable conditions.  Yes, the race was on the expensive side, but those fees went to that "Stadium to the Sea" course that really did hit so many Los Angeles landmarks and ended in a notriously expensive area (Santa Monica, CA).  Plus, their goody bags were substantial.

I know that as consumers and Internet users, we are supposed to be able to filter through all those complaints and make our own decisions about which products we buy (such as a race), but I can truly say that some people are just whiners.  (I guess that would include me, but hey, this is my blog...)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Heirloom Cafe

In a quaint area of South Pasadena, CA (a very well-to-do area) lies this little cafe called Heirloom Cafe.


Above: The outdoor dining area. It was too cold to sit out there on this afternoon, though!


Above: My barley soup and crusty bread...


Above: Open-face egg sandwich. Look at the BIG chunks of egg! (the bread is hidden beneath somewhere)

The prices here were a little high ($4.50 for small soup and $9 for sandwich), but the ingredients seem pretty fresh and carefully prepared. The atmosphere of this area of town is worth it. I wish I could afford to live there!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Interview with Happy Herbivore: On Running & Fueling

A while back, I blogged about some of my adventures of cooking from Happy Herbivore, a low-fat, vegan cookbook. 

I may not eat a vegan diet all the time (trying, though!), but I feel that everyone can benefit by making vegan meals a part of a healthy lifestyle.  And really, Happy Herbivore makes it SO easy to do so!  The cookbook has worked perfectly for me, being lactose intolerant, hungry, not rich, and a somewhat inexperienced cook.  It's no wonder her book has climbed the Amazon.com ranks and even sold out a few times!  Not only that, but two more "Happy Herbivore" cookbooks are in the works!

The author behind the book (and blog), Lindsay Nixon, is very accomplished.  She has practiced law, is a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), and is now a successful author.  Did I mention she is also a marathoner??? :)  I am thirilled to have her here to answer a few questions as part of her "virtual book tour" that are geared toward her experiences with fitness/running and a vegan diet.

~~~~~~

Julie: Congratulations on the continued success of the Happy Herbivore cookbook!

Lindsay: Thanks!

Julie: I'm still cooking recipes from it almost every time I cook (right now, I am restraining myself from making more carrot cake cupcakes). :)

Lindsay: Aww thats awesome -- oh those cupcakes... waaay addictive!

Julie: My first questions have to do with people's perceptions of a vegan diet and athleticism:
1) What was your motivation to become a Certified Personal Trainer? Do you still practice?

Lindsay: I live outside of the U.S. on a small island in the middle of the ocean (true story) so I am unable to work as a CPT here, but I do still consult with former clients via email.

I always had this passion to help people -- it's why I went to law school, but it wasn't until after law school that the passion was really about helping people get healthy, feel better, eating right, so getting my CPT seemed like a natural fit. I also thought it would help me improve my own athleticism, which it definitely has.

Julie: From your experience, do people necessarily associate athleticism with eating healthy?

Lindsay: Yes and no. My clients who came to me to lose weight seemed to know that working out wasn't enough, they also had to eat right -- but some of my athletic clients felt like because they needed to consume 3 or 4,000 calories a day, they could eat anything they want. and did. While it was true they could make unhealthy choices and not gain weight, they also didn't perform as well as they could have. I saw remarkable improvement in one of my triathletes who gave up white pastas and breads for whole wheat.

Julie: I always get the skeptical eye from people who see me eating candy or something because they think I eat healthy ALL the time.

Lindsay: I won't lie and say I eat perfectly 100% of the time. I probably could if I really wanted to, but if we're being honest, I don't necessarily want to. I mean, just watch me go at a bag of Twizzlers at the movies! I don't eat Twizzlers every day, I don't even eat them every week and I don't eat the whole bag when I do. and 9/10x I feel pretty crappy afterwards... but I admit what it is--a splurge, a damn good one, and I move on.

Julie: And on the flipside, those same people tell me that I should "eat more" because of my activity level.

Lindsay: This is a misconception that gets a lot of people in trouble. Even when I'm training for a marathon, my daily calorie intake doesn't go up that dramatically. I think people overestimate how much calories they really burn. For example, I had one client who started increasing her food intake (all healthy foods) when she started exercising 5 days a week (from 3) and gained weight. She was upset, but the reality was, she didn't need to increase her calories to account for 2 more spinning classes. Maybe a modest snack after each class was necessary, but not an additional 100+ calories a day, every day, as she afforded.

Julie: What is your experience with running, cycling, or other endurance sports?

Lindsay: I was into marathons, and I started getting into tri's until a foot injury (I'm healed now, but have lost my passion). My husband and best friend are still hard core into running and my best friend (he's a vegetarian, my husband is vegan) is also into tri's.

My main sport is now snowboarding, which is quite rigorous.

Julie: Did you notice any change in your performance as you adopted a healthier lifestyle?

Lindsay: Before I adopted a low fat vegan diet I was a couch potato. 10 months after the dietary shift I ran my first marathon after never running as much as a 5k before. My husband also ran his first after adopting a
low fat vegan diet as well. There have been periods where we did not eat as healthy as we normally do, and we've both noticed how that affects our performance.

Julie: Do you think that the "low fat vegan" diet work well for athletes, or do you believe in incorporating "higher fat" foods?

Lindsay: It works for my husband & I, as well as all of my clients -- though some do like to include an avocado into their daily meal plan. When we're training, we do add ground flax into our smoothies, recovery
drinks, etc -- but it's marginal, a few tbsp per day at best.

I tried eating a raw high fat diet (mostly seeds, nuts, avocado) and I found it was really harsh on my stomach during and after activity. I seem to do well with carbs -- like dates and bananas.

Julie: Do you believe in pre- and post-workout snacks? What are some good examples of those?

Lindsay: I have a bunch -- I wrote an entire e-book for Herbisport with recipes for endurance drinks (like gatorade), recovery drinks, recovery smoothies, etc.

Julie: Do you have any "go-to" recipes that work well the evening for an event (i.e., "carbo loading")?

Lindsay: I'm (and not all CPT's agree on this) I'm in the camp where you need to carbo load the entire WEEK before an event, and not just the night or day before. I spend the entire week eating lots of carbs, and the night and day before I only eat light foods, I don't want anything in there lingering for race day.

Julie: How did the Herbisport idea come up?

Lindsay: Popular request from fans :)

Julie: I see that your Herbisport site promotes making your own sports drinks, bars, and recovery fuel. What do you think about the commercial brands (GU, Cytomax, etc.)?

Lindsay: I think the commercial supplements are okay if you are in a pinch, but not to be used long-term. A lot of them are full of processed junk and chemicals -- nothing works like nature. Dates are just as effective as GU, for example.

Julie: What are the three things us ameteur athletes need to do more or less of?

Lindsay: Listen to your body. it sounds simple but its not. By the time you're really hurting, you've overdone it. I always encourage my clients to journal every workout -- mention any little thing, if there is a pattern you can avoid injury before it happens. It's very rare that injuries pop up out of the blue, barring actual accidents.

Julie: Thanks, Lindsay! I am looking forward to more scrumptious dessert (and other ;) ) recipes from your next books!

Lindsay: Thanks!

~~~~~~

To help with the low-fat, vegan (and athletic) journey, Lindsay has shared a recipe, which I have made before and can attest to its deliciousness!

Quick Queso (makes 1 cup) - It's okay to go at this sauce with a spoon. I won't judge.


1 cup non-dairy milk (such as fat-free soymilk)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tsp granulated onion powder
1/2 tsp granulated garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder or cayenne (optional)
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste

Whisk all ingredients together in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often until thick. Serve immediately.

(Note: Gluten-free flours or blends may be substituted, such as chickpea flour. Also, add a 1 10-ounce can of Rotel tomatoes with green chilies for a Mexican Queso twist.)
 
~~~~~~
 
Lindsay S. Nixon is a rising star in the culinary world, praised for her ability to use everyday ingredients to create healthy, low fat recipes that taste just as delicious as they are nutritious. Lindsay's recipes have been featured in Vegetarian Times, Women's Health Magazine and on The Huffington Post. Lindsay is also a consulting chef at La Samanna, a luxury resort and four-star restaurant in the French West Indies. You can learn more about Lindsay and sample some of her recipes at happyherbivore.com

Monday, March 21, 2011

Giveaway Winner! -- Sony W Series MP3 Player (Update)


Updated Post: 3/20/11


As promised, here are the Sony W Series giveaway winners:
-- both have been contacted and prizes sent --


Please e-mail me at (Gmail) Nobel4Lit2 with your addresses, and I'll ship out the units soon!


Thanks to everyone who entered.  Stay tuned for another giveaway soon (maybe later this week)!


(Note: I ended up putting everyone's retweets starting after the comments when it came to numbering the entries.)

Original Post: 3/10/11


Sunday, March 20 2011, the day I will run LA Marathon for the 4th time (and embark on my 8th 26.2 journey overall), will also be very special because it will mark the 5th year since I did my FIRST training run with the intention of running a marathon.  (Check out that life-changing post HERE).

Yep, on March 20, 2006, I went to the track and ran my first 3.25 miles with the dreams of marathon glory (or even half-marathon glory).

I think it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.  I was a sprint/track runner in middle and high school and never fathomed that I would take the challenge of doing what I considered an impossible feat at the time.  (Okay, so sometimes I still think it's impossible, oh, when I'm mile 22 deep in a marathon.)  My races back then were closer to .2 than adding another 26 miles to that.  But the challenge has taught me discipline, delayed gratification, understanding my abilities, and given me confidence.  It's no surprise that I'm still at it, no matter how many times I have asked myself, "Why?!"

Anyway........... to celebrate this milestone, I'm doing a giveaway!!

~~~~~~

In THIS post back in December, I reviewed the Sony W Series MP3 player.  I've done a lot of training runs since then, and my review still stands.

In short, I think this so-called "walkman" has changed my running!  I recommend you read my full review for more details, but in short, this is one of those products I would recommend to anyone.

I barely even touch my iPod anymore, nor do I have to keep replacing the in-ear buds that always keep breaking on me.  The battery holds up beautifully, and I have yet to have sweat interfere with the functioning of this player.  The controls are easy once you get the hang out it.

Instead of continually bragging, I get the opportunity to share the wealth (as you've probably seen on some other blogs lately).  I was contacted about the possibility of giving a couple of these away. :D  Below is a photo of the TWO units, each worth approximately $60.

This giveaway will close on March 20 (once I get settled from my race!).  I will use a random number generator to select the two winners and announce them shortly thereafter.  I think the odds are decently in your favor, so go ahead and give it a shot!

I don't think I remember my face being that dark!
Not a makeup issue, either!
To enter (you get one entry per item):


1) Follow this blog by clicking the "Follow" button on the right-hand side, OR add me to your blog roll.  Leave me a comment letting me know you have done so (or if you already did).


2) Follow me on Twitter (@nobel4lit).  Leave me a comment with your user name.


3) Tweet "I entered the Sony W Series Walkman giveaway! http://bit.ly/fshFte @nobel4lit"
(I will know you've tweeted, so no need to leave a comment)


4) Link the giveaway on your blog and comment with the URL.


5) Leave a comment telling me your current favorite running song!

Good luck!!!! :P

------

FTC Disclaimer: I was given these units to give away and was not compensated for this review.  I didn't even get a unit for myself, since I had already purchased one.  I really just like this product.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Los Angeles Marathon - 2011 Recap

EVENT: Los Angeles Marathon
DATE: Sunday, March 20, 2011
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:43 AM
FINISH TIME: 05:01:35

***NOTE: I am co-writing this entry with "The Ukrainian."***

Foreword (by Julie):

In the days prior to this race, I was trying to top off my electrolyte stores due to cramping issues I was having during training.  So I sipped on coconut water and ate pickles (didn't really drink much juice because I couldn't stand how it tasted this time around).  I also got SaltStick to take prior to and during the race as a precaution.


On the Friday before the race, we went to Dodger Stadium to pick up our race packets.  We had to walk across a large parking lot to get to the Expo...


They were set up for a 5K they were having the next day, but I had class, so no go.  Yes, I'd consider doing a 5K before a marathon -- just check out my plans for this May.


Finally, we got to the Expo.  It was large but very crowded, so I'd have to say I didn't get to see everything there.


Here's the lead car... we found our names on there...


One good thing was that we got a TON of Expo loot!  Totally justifies some of the marathon's $145 (+ Active.com fees) price... sorta!  The cat is not part of the loot, but she wouldn't leave my stuff alone!


I had six hours of class the next day (Saturday) and then had dinner with "The Ukrainian" at Souplantation (again).  I had a nice mix of veggies, a little pasta, and baked potato.. with muffins, of course!  (Sorry... I look pretty tired here...)


Then, I got ready for bed and laid out all my stuff out.  We had a 3 AM alarm in order to get to the pre-race shuttles in time, so bedtime was EARLY (even for me).


The Race (by "The Ukrainian" and Julie):

On race day, we woke up to a rain shower, and we were worried that it might rain throughout the entire race because the weather websites told us that it was going to be a downpour in the second half of the day.  From our past experience, especially my first marathon, we ran in almost the same conditions, so we were not too worried.

We got to the pre-race shuttles pretty quickly, considering the weather, so we waited in Dodger Stadium for 2.5 hours, which gave us plenty of time for restrooms and creating anti-rain gear out of old race blankets from last year.  We snacked on some Clif Shot Bloks and tried to stay warm.  On the way to the gear check-in/corrals, I saw my sister... remarkably (and her co-worker).


The race started off pretty well.  I was taking it pretty easy because I knew there was going to be a nasty hill between Mile 4-5.  Plus, I didn't want to waste all my energy and cramping up like last year.  I was able to keep up a pretty decent pace throughout my first half of the marathon.  I was very surprised at how many people were cheering along the route in their raincoats and underneath their umbrellas.  At the water station between Mile 6-7, I said hi to my co-workers who were helping out and distributing Gatorade and water.  In the second half, I slowed down a little bit because my shoes and socks were extremely wet, which made it hard to move my legs... because it felt like I was carrying 20 lbs of weight on my feet.  Running through the puddles was, unfortunately, unavoidable because some of the streets were not able to support the drainage of all that rain that was coming down.  Once I got to the last mile, which was Oceanside Ave., the wind REALLY got STRONG, but I was able to maintain my decent pace and completed the race in 3 hours and 25 minutes, right on the dot!


My race didn't go as well.  Without boring you too much, I will say that the rain was light in the beginning and got progressively worse. By the first 30 or 40 minutes or so, it was windy and pouring and pretty much stayed that way the entire time.  I started off feeling really good, though.  At Mile 9, I started to feel both my legs getting reallllllly heavy and then tight.  At that point, I had to stop and stretch every so often to prevent VERY premature cramping.   


I fought the tight legs, wind, and my fatigue until I passed Mile 22.  I had a few near-cramp episodes before then, but just as another one occurred, I suddenly heard, "Are you okay?!"  It was my sister! 


"Yeah... cramping.  I did everything I could!" I lamented, referring to my preparation mentioned at the beginning of this entry, plus all the training I had done.  I apologized for not being able to continue on with her.  My performance plummeted after that point, since I was getting tired, and the wind was aggravating my legs to spasm in places I've never had before.  I walked pretty much most the rest of the way.  At one point, I was SO cold that I went to a running club's tent to get a new wrap for myself, along with some fruit (I had been downing everything I could during the race to make sure I was hydrated and had electrolytes).  They helped me SO much.  


A quarter mile later, I stopped to stretch my cramping entire lower body again, when a staff person pointed out that I should go to the next Medical Tent, as my lips were kind of blue, according to him.  I felt okay, except I was shivering when the wind blew, but I did look at the next tent I saw.... it was crowded!  I decided I was close enough to not want to give up and well enough to keep trodding along (VERY slowly).  I did see lots of ambulances during the race, though.  I thought that was only something that happened on hot days...


Thank you to the volunteers that saved me out there!  So many fruits and drinks! :)  Also very grateful for those who contributed $$$ to my Japan fundraising campaign!  Raised nearly $400!


Here are my auto-Tweets that appeared during my race.  Note the deterioration.


(not sure what happened with the 10K one, but it was about 57 minutes)
20K in 1:58:59. Pace: 9:34. Est: 4:10:49
30K in 3:04:33. Pace: 9:54. Est: 4:19:34
40K in 4:44:17. Pace: 11:26. Est: 4:59:46


Even leaving the race was painful.  Everyone seemed irritable, pushing and shoving to get supplies afterward.  I don't blame them.  We were all super-soaked.  Traffic out of there and on the freeway was jammed.  I feel SO bad for "The Ukrainian," who waited for me outside the whole time.



Afterword (by Julie):

Here's me before the race:


And here's the after shots.... trying REALLY hard to smile, believe me!  Wow, I look bad... but at least alive.


This was a long, long way off from my marathon PR, which I had been hoping to beat today.  I was trying so, so hard to come in at least under 5 hours, which I was definitely going to do before those last few terrible ones.  I somehow as able to run the last .5+ mile or so but almost had a painful episode 10 feet from the finish line, in front of everyone.  Precarious!  Unfortunately, the circumstances were just truly extraordinary, but I do have another chance in 2 months.  I am trying not to beat myself up over it too much and just move on.  Marathon #8 (#7 for "The Ukrainian") completed.  My shoes were destroyed.

And now, the power is out due to the bad weather.  This will post when it comes back up.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Weekly Workouts: 3/12 - 3/18

I'm finally getting my workouts for thsi week posted... and for good reason.

It's game time! :)  I'll try to recap the race as soon as I can!

(P.S. LAST CHANCE to enter the Sony W Series MP3 Player giveaway! -- I'm choosing the winner after I get back from the race!)

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This Week's Workouts:

Saturday - 8 mi
Sooo tired... this run basically blew.

Sunday - rest; stretching/"The Stick"

Monday - 1 mi (AM) + 20 min upright bike; 30 min strength; 4 mi (PM) and abs

Tuesday - rest (overbooked)

Wednesday - 1 mi; 10 min elliptical, 10 min bike; 20 min strength

Thursday - 2 mi; 45 min strength

Friday - rest;  LA Marathon Expo for race weekend
I have class on Saturday, so I have to do the Expo on Friday, and of course, that means sitting on my butt all day Saturday, which for once might be a good thing.

Weekly Mileage: 16

Friday, March 18, 2011

How to Navigate a Race Expo

I'm running a marathon this weekend! :) :) :) -- Follow Me on Twitter for Real Time updates during the race!

I've gone to so many race expos that I figure I have enough expertise to write up a little "how to" to someone who has never been.

And if you haven't been, go! Of course, these things are much more fun if you're a long distance runner (the target audience), but they are really neat for even recreational runners. (Just be sure not to show up the afternoon before a race when they get packed!)

So here's my suggestions when it comes to navigating an expo:

1. If you're running a race the next day, take some time to check out the course and transportation maps.  You will need to know how/when to get to certain places at the right times.  If you're bringing a cheering squad, know where they can watch out for you and where to meet at the end.  For big races, I usually try to meet up post-race at the medical tent (or sponsor of choice) if there is no official reunion area.


2. Head straight toward the packet pick-up as soon as you arrive to the expo.  This way, this mandatory part is out of the way.  Additionally, you will probably get a bag to carry stuff/vendor samples in, which you will probably need as you walk around. 

Also, know what vendors you are particularly interested in and try to minimize the amount of circling you will have to do.  Remember, you're going to be RACING the next day, so don't wear yourself out at any expo.  If you're truly wanting to explore, go two days before the race (usually Friday) if the expo is open then.


3. People are probably going to crowd around popular vendors, especially the ones with samples.  I would save these big vendors for the end of your visit if you find a crowd.  Check out the other vendors while it clears.



4. Expos are a good place to stock up on running gear that you've been eyeballing.  Oftentimes, you will find a good deal at these expos.  At the very least, expect to save on tax and shipping that you'd normally have to pay online.  I personally advise all vendors to at least offer this perk to those who bother to buy items in person.  Most vendors should accept credit cards, but bring cash... just in case!



5. Remember to have your ID and bib number looked up before you reach the packet pick-up line!  They usually have tables floating around where you can do just that, or sometimes they e-mail it to you prior to the expo.


6. Try not to get TOO disappointed if your race shirt isn't the perfect fit.  You probably won't be able to change your preferred size that you indicated on your race registration.  Different races have different-sized shirts.  Some have sizes specifically for youth or women.  Some have extra-small sizes and some don't.  Technical fabrics are generally more "cool" (no pun intended).  In some expos, you will be able to try on shirts and choose the size you want.  Still, don't expect these shirts to be as good as tech shirts you'd buy on your own (though I wear mine all the time!).


7. Some races have special perks for returning runners.  Know what prizes you are eligible for and clear up any misconceptions before the expo, if possible.


8. Speaking of samples, if you are running the next day, be careful what you eat! Don't eat stuff you've never had before! That vendor is likely to be there after the race, so wait until then to try some. Also, try to eat normally that day and not rely on samples as a meal or overstuff yourself with samples. If you've gotten this far, you don't NEED anything new in terms of hydration or food. Grab a coupon and nonperishable sample and save it for the next time you train for a race!


9. Expos are also great places to check out and sign up for other races.  Often, they will offer discounts for those who register in person -- plus, you get to avoid those annoying online processing fees!  (Never understood why they charge more for online entry because paper forms actually require more "work" to process.)

I've saved LOTS of money doing this and got a few freebie promo T-shirts along the way!  Make sure you bring checks and/or have your credit card number ready!


10. Finally, be choosy about where you buy things like gels.  You might find the same gel or bar being sold in three different places if the expo is large, so walk around and compare prices before you buy!  Also, if the actual company is there, they are the best source of their own product!


11. If you have time and are feeling up to it, you can still volunteer at the expo for a couple of hours and still be a participant.  Plan this before the expo and make the necessary contacts.  They will understand that you need an "easy" and "short" assignment and are open to anyone who wants to help.  You will likely get inspired by meeting other runners.


I hope that my little tutorial helped! :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pre-Marathon Starvation

A few marathons ago (you know you've been doing too many when you can say that), I decided to include starvation as part of my taper strategy.

The week before a marathon, I start loading up on pickle juice, sleep, carbs, and water.

And I completely (to my power) cut out music.

You see, I listen to music (on my Sony Walkman -- GIVEAWAY STILL GOING ON, and formerly iPod) on most of my runs.  I've done a couple of races without music, mostly because I forgot or wasn't allowed to have it.  But when I can help it, I'm going to jam to Eminem in my darkest moments of the race.

So this means that on my last runs before the race, my ears are open.  I don't turn on the radio in the car (except talk radio), and I try to avoid lingering in music-playing supermarkets or stores for very long.

This way, when race day comes, I'm starving for music, and its motivating affects are increased.  Yes, marathons much are less painful when you're absorbed in a Lil Wayne song that you haven't heard in a WHOLE WEEK. :$

Does that qualify me as weird??


Anyway, here's a (small) snippet of what's on my marathon playlist.  As can be gathered by my references above, I'm a little bit of a "thug," although click if you specifically like "RUNNING" songs (more HERE).  In spite of this, yes, I'm a little bit embarrassed about my selections. :$

Off to listen to more talk radio and drink pickle juice.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Your (Running) Life in Tweets

If you're anti-Twitter, you may want to skip this post.  (About a year ago, I would have skipped my own post!)

If you have a Twitter account (click HERE to follow me), do you "follow" other runners?

For those who know nothing about Twitter, two things:

1) Tweet = update your status in 140 characters or less
2) Follow = subscribe to someone's "tweets" so you can see their updates in real-time

Seemingly everyday, I see posts and posts about running.  "Gotta get my run done!"  "6 miles done!" etc. etc.

And let's not forget Saturday and Sunday mornings, where I see a barrage of "I did my 20-miler!" or "I woke up early to run in the cold."

Is this expected, or annoying?

Does Tweeting about your running somehow become so necessary?

And most of all... am I an annoying runner-Tweeter?

I generated a little "Tweet Cloud" that shows the relative frequency of the words I have used in my tweets over the past three months. 

And wouldn't ya know... I see "marathon" there.  Also, I think I have been writing a lot about "cold" "morning"s.  Oh... and what's this?!  "Happy"?!

No word "run" or "mile" in there.  *Whew*

Monday, March 14, 2011

If You Haven't Donated to Tsunami Relief...

Please click HERE to do so!

With a week left before the LA Marathon, I realize I've definitely fallen off my usual fundraising bandwagon.  I think I've fundraised every year since I started, but due to time restraints from school and a change in work situation, I haven't made an attempt to fundraise.

And then, this horrible thing happened in the East.  It took me a few days to donate myself and wondered how many others just haven't gotten around to it.  I thought I'd give those who haven't taken the opportunity to donate yet to do so right now.

As far as I know, I don't know anyone personally who has been affected by these disasters, but I'm sure we can all relate to the humanity and humility of a nation struck by things far, far worse than I could imagine.  Surely I can give up a couple of smoothie costs for them...

Any amount would be greatly appreciated.  If you do donate, feel free to let me know in the Comments section of my Sony W Series MP3 Player giveaway (ends March 20) for an additional entry.

An Untold Story: Hash House a Go Go (Carbo Loading Breakfast)

In my "Untold Stories" series, I relate things that seemingly have nothing to do with running... with running.  To ease myself away from food posts in the spirit of this being a countdown to my marathon this Sunday, here's a part-food, part-life, and part-running post.

Other "Untold Stores" I've Posted:

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I've been watching a lot of Man vs. Food lately, and I finally caught the episode that showed the Las Vegas Hash House a Go Go.  Finally, I place I've been to... on TV!  So I decided to blog about the time I went to a "famous" place... but I can actually relate this to running!

Tea Time, M, M's sister, and "The Ukrainian" headed there the morning before the Las Vegas Marathon in 2009.  Since I had a feeling that dinner pickings were going to be small (we were staying at the host hotel, which would be FULL of carbo-loading marathoners), we decided to load up on breakfast instead.

So here's how the carbo-load breakfast went.

We'll start innocently with Tea Time's hot cocoa.  Wait... not-so-innocent already... look at the size of those marshmallows!!


This was Tea Time's actual breakfast.  This was the most modest breakfast on the table.... :/


I'll contrast that with the *least* modest breakfast on the table...  I can barely tell what this is anymore, but I am pretty sure it's their chicken benedict.


Chicken and waffles were ordered across the table...


Here is MY breakfast.  Yep, that rosemary is a common theme.  And yes, this picture is up-close because these were actually all taken on my (old Kodak) camera during an era in which I didn't photograph every freaking thing I see and relied on others to document everything.  This is a veggie hash.  I mostly ate the eggs and potatoes.  This was WAY too much food for me.  Ironically, what I enjoyed the most was the biscuit with the strawberry jam they had on the table.


This is actually biscuits and gravy.  Under eggs.  "The Ukrainian" still has plate envy over this dish.


After the meal, I thought "The Ukrainian" might die that night.  I am not kidding.  :(  I kept checking to make sure he was breathing whenever he napped or slept or when he took more than a few minutes in the bathroom.


But in spite of my fears, we were both awake to get to the finish line the next morning.