Lisa Runs on Ramen

— running 26.2 and having foodie adventures too!

1 Comment

Ramen Festival, Thai Food and Friends

So here I am, two days before the Marine Corps Marathon, and life has been flying by at 110 mph. There is wind and 60% rain forecast for Sunday, oy. Just got to DC but I wanted to get a post in, before Marine Corps Marathon race day on Sunday and cheering on my friends running the ING NYC Marathon this year!

Two weekends ago, I ran Grete’s Great Gallop in Central Park, my last 13.1 mile tune-up race in my training schedule. Since I just ran the NY 10K the day before, I knew my legs were not fresh and that the double loops of Central Park hills would challenge me as usual. I had a great feeling about race day though–I am really inspired by the legacy that the inspiring Grete Waitz left behind. Not only was she a 9-time NYC Marathon champion, she was a champion of NYRR Youth Programs and started Aktiv Mot Kreft, a charity that fights cancer by encouraging people to stay active.

I had the pleasure of meeting her back in 2010 when she did a signing at the Adidas booth at the NYC Marathon expo. I still have that picture somewhere and will try to find it. I wanted to run the race well in honor of her.

(photo credit Ben Ko)

The weather was fantastic and I felt pretty good during the race. I ran 1:56:38 (8:55 pace) for a half marathon, and I think it was a PR for me on this Central Park course! I was very happy with my effort. This race had a fantastic dri-fit white Adidas shirt with “AKTIV” and “Grete’s Great Gallop” on it, and all athletes got lox and bagels afterwards. It was great fun.

Right afterwards, I met up with Teresa and we headed to the NY Street Ramen Contest. We saw our friends Alex, Ricky, Steve, Warren, Kyle and a bunch of other people there.

There were a lot of people at 95th and Broadway and the lines were a bit long, but manageable. There was only one row of tables and somehow we managed grab it for ourselves! I

Here was the line-up from the NY Street Ramen Contest FB page:

1. Ramen Lab: Italian Ramen (Chicken and pork base soup with tomato tare, Basil, Grated cheese) 2. Hakkoan: Chan Chan Yaki Ramen (Salmon, Mushroom, Cabbage, Carrot, Garlic, Onion, Miso) 3. The Shoyu Ramen: Asahikawa Ramen (Shoyu, Olive oil) 4. Yume Wo Katare: Shoyu Ramen (Pork base soy soup, Cabbage, Garlic, Bean sprout, Char siu pork) …

5. PESU Ramen: Colorful Ramen (Chicken base Shio soup) 6. Jin Ramen: Spicy Miso Ramen (Chicken&pork base Miso soup) 7. Tonyu Ramen: Tonyu Herb Ramen (Pork base soup, Soymilk, Paprika, Mushroom, Spinach, Alfalfa) 8. Tabata Ramen: Dark Men (Black sesame paste flavored soup, Roast pork & chicken, Scallion)
They were selling Onigiri, an amazing fizzy mango soda and melon soda for $2, and other snacks along with lots of ramen. It was $4 a taste (cup portion) and three of them was enough to fill you up. My favorite one that I tried was the spicy miso ramen from Jin Ramen. To encourage people to vote, they offered a raffle drawing for people that turned in ballots However, Tabata Ramen’s ‘Dark Men’ sesame ramen was eventually declared the winner of the coveted trophy. It was a fun time!
Was that enough nomming for me? Nope. My friend Wilson kindly invited me to his friend Iris’s pop-up Thai dinner. It was held in an awesome apartment right next to Canal Street, and Wilson basically convinced Iris Yoon Nordenkjær (his friend from Copenhagen), a chef with an impressive resume to cook for us one last time before she had to return to her hometown. She just worked at Longrain in Melbourne, and Kiin Kiin (michelin star thai restaurant) and recently finished her stage at Danji in NYC. Great resume or not, I think it’s a great honor whenever someone cooks for you, so I happily attended! Iris and her boyfriend Anton worked feverishly in the kitchen to cook a multi-course meal for us.
We started off with appetizers like steamed shrimp buns, homemade shrimp chips, and oysters with chili sauce. You could bag up the shrimp chips and sell them–they were THAT good. We started off with a salad and delicious Thai Tom Yum soup with shrimp.
I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Coconut rice
Red curry
Spicy chili-encrusted tilapia. Yum.
Pork belly– one of my absolute favorites. We ate them chopped up and wrapped with rice and lettuce leaves.
Sticky rice with coconut and mung bean–such a delicious end to the meal!
People also brought wine from V.Sattui Winery, Jordan Winery, (cabernet sauvignon) craft beers, and other great stuff. I brought my limited edition Big Sur Marathon Chardonnay from Ventana Vineyards (from the Big Sur Marathon I ran earlier this year).
But the best thing was the company. What’s great food without good company?
We were all quite happy by the end of dinner. I love Thai food and this was one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had. Thanks so much Iris and Anton! And thanks Wilson for being a big enough foodie to organize this!
(Me and Chef Iris)


I’m a REFUEL sponsored athlete! (and ran two PR’s!)

So the past week, I’ve been eating and running my way through NYC…which is what I do all the time. However, this past week was one of the most exciting in a while, because I just found out that I am a REFUEL with Chocolate Milk-sponsored athlete!! I entered an online contest back in August where I submitted a video about refueling with chocolate milk as my “after” ritual, garnered support from friends, colleagues, and family, and campaigned for votes from 9/5-9/30! I just got the news last week that I was one of the top 5 vote-getters for September in this contest, and I won a sponsorship package!! I won a $500 check and $315 worth of running gear, plus a chance to compete in a phase 2 contest for a trip to run in Europe, OR appear in a chocolate milk ad! Here’s to hoping!!  Thank you so much to all my friends and supporters for voting…I couldn’t have done it without you!

See how happy I am?

Me with the Nesquik bunny. Love chocolate milk!

That’s my new friend, the Nesquik Bunny, at the Rock ‘n’ Roll NY 10K on 10/13–my first race as a Team REFUEL-sponsored athlete. I only submitted my official paperwork mere days before, but I met up with the Team REFUEL people and even got interviewed by journalist Toni Senecal for Toni On! about why I like chocolate milk so much. I have no idea when it aired but if I find it online I’ll let you know! My friends Diane and Deb were in town for the weekend, so they came out to visit Brooklyn and we ran the race together. The weather was chilly but great for running. For the first time in over a year, I ran a personal best for a 10K– 50:32 or 8:08 min/mile pace! I shaved 1:30 off my 10K time! It must be the chocolate milk 🙂 I definitely had a bounce in my step when I found out the news that I was sponsored.

Here are my finishing stats (some of my best):

Overall: 549/4187

Div: 49/792

Gender: 167/2769

So after the race, Deb, Diane and I headed to DUB (Down Under Bakery) Pies to have some yummy Australian-style meat pies. I got the classic mince pie and it was flaky and delicious.

I’m going in reverse chronological order here…

Rewind to Sunday, 10/7/12–I ran the Staten Island Half Marathon, part of the NYRR Five-Borough series. I went into this race wanting to test my fitness for my upcoming Marine Corps Marathon. I knew I was capable of running a good time on this fast course, but I knew it would hurt. A lot. It’s really hard for me to run a PR (personal record) in a half-marathon because I have run so many of them, and sometimes I zone out instead of “attacking” the course. Does that ever happen to you, fellow runners? Regardless, I knew that my teammates from the Dashing Whippets Running Team would be bringing their A-game, so I had to represent!

Lisa running the Staten Island half (photo by Ben Ko)

The course was mostly flat, out-and-back, with just a few inclines. My legs were burning but I kept a pretty steady pace. I felt good and I was inspired by all my Whippet teammates giving me a thumbs-up. I was really happy when I saw Ben with his camera! With about 1 mile left I knew I had to push hard to PR–no faltering the final mile!

I was the proud owner of a new personal best–1:52:34 for a half-marathon! It was an average of 8:36 a mile, shaving off 1:00 off my previous best. Yay! I ran a 10K split of 53:02, and it hurt with still more than 10K left to go! It  was great seeing Takashi, Anthony (also a Team Refuel athlete) and Warren at the finish line.

We got sweet medals and the satisfaction of having run a half marathon before some of our buddies woke up at 10:30am 🙂 It started to rain, and Takashi drove me and Warren to Brooklyn in search of the best brunch at Rose Water. I love this place–and even though there was a wait, it was worth it. Don’t you think?

I had the fried swordfish cake with salad and two poached eggs, plus a steaming mug of apple cider. It was all for $15! Shhh don’t tell too many people about this place–it’s popular enough!

So to reward myself the few days after the race, on Wednesday 10/10, I treated myself to a great lunch at the Cinnamon Snail Lunch Truck. It’s a vegan truck famous for its spicy Korean-style tofu burgers and vanilla bourbon donuts. The same day, Deb, Diane and I made a pilgrimage to Totto Ramen. Yes, this is the temple of ramen with an ever-present line of salivating foodies. We waited a little under an hour–and it was worth it! I got the medium spicy ramen with pork, and I liked it! I give it 4/5 stars. I still like Ippudo better, but that’s just me.

Totto ramen

On Thursday, 10/11, to cap off an exciting week, Teresa and I attended a benefit for the Audubon Society at the beautiful Bowery Hotel. There were passed hors d’ouvres from Sonnier & Castle, unlimited open bar, a silent auction, and some celeb guests. One of them was Carlos Falchi, the Brazilian handbag designer. We chatted a bit, and I took a photo with him–nice guy! His daughter Juliet is on the Audubon Young Members committee, and she was one of the co-organizers of the benefit.

Me and Carlos Falchi

I went to this event two years ago and had an amazing time. In 2010 it was at the Ace Hotel, and I walked away with an amazing gift bag (thanks Gilt City!) that included over $400 worth of product (including a Carlos Falchi faux-snakeskin handbag, Brooklyn Boulders climbing passes, Essie nail polish, a v.fraas woven scarf, and more). This time, the gift bag was less elaborate but the silent auction was even more amazing.

Mini owl at the Audubon Benefit!

Me and Teresa

Teresa won two silent auction items and I won my favorite lot–Ivanka Trump red heels and a gorgeous deep pink Carlos Falchi clutch (let’s just say I got a heckuva deal, and all the money went towards charity!). That alone–and the chicken curry tacos and tomato basil mini-tarts–was a great highlight of the night.

We ended the night going to Teresa’s friend’s birthday event at Pegu Club (happy birthday Chris!), where we tried Earl Grey MarTEAnis and scallop burgers. I think I ran enough to indulge this week!

Leave a comment

Merrell Mud Run 10K, Jay-Z and Softball Awards

So I did my first adventure race…and it was awesome. I signed up for the Merrell Down ‘n’ Dirty Mud run 10K (9/30) on a whim, only two weeks before the race. It was a bit pricey, but my friend Haajar highly recommended it. I also needed an excuse to visit Pelham Bay Park out in the Bronx. Did you know it’s the biggest city park? Yeah, I just found out too–and the New Yorker in me was curious. So I got up at 4:40am to get on the train by 5:30, so I could get to the start line by 8:00am. Fun commute.

There were a ton of people–I think 6,000 runners total ran the 10K and the 5K combined. The good part about the 10K was that we were the first ones to go, at 8:15am, followed by two different waves of 5K runners at 9:30am then 10:30am. We got to go on the obstacles before they got TOO nasty (even the mud pit was cleaner–fewer dirty sneakers ahead of us). There were 17 different obstacles, including cargo nets, low walls and high walls (my least favorite), a soapy mountain with a rope climb (the hardest), a monkey climb, two mud pits, cargo net with an inflatable slide (my favorite), push-ups, running through tires, and even a 100m ocean dip (in chest-deep water)!

I pushed myself pretty hard the whole time–I was really strong on the run but weak on just about everything that required me boosting my own weight (the low walls). I still had a lot of fun though, and the volunteers were great. I ended up running 1:02:05 (with 17 obstacles), good enough for 10/150 women in the F25-29 division! I was super happy with that. My favorite part was crawling through the final mud pit and hearing the announcer yell my name–that was awesome. You get a cool dog tag at the finish! Needless to say, I looked like a bedraggled mess and I’m glad I wore clothes I didn’t care too much about.

Me at the finish line after the Merrell Mud Run 10K

After the race, I went to the sponsor tents while I waited for my friend Sharif, who was running the 5K. He very kindly offered me a ride back to civilization because I didn’t want to deal with the train again! First order of business was getting somewhat clean. The organizers trucked in swimming pool water on FOUR trucks so that runners could shower with clean water. They were rustic hose showers but they did the trick! There were also large changing tents–pretty essential. Afterward, I got a $15 haircut at the Paul Mitchell tent (the money went to Operation Gratitude, a military charity!) and I loved my new layered look. Merrell was also selling sweet gear and taking facebook photos. I bought a nice soft gray zip-up Merrell jacket.

There was also the post-race Burger Bash, where every runner got a burger (or a salad), chips, and a drink, included with the entry fee. That was a great idea, since the park had no vendors. You really do get your money’s worth! So for the $75 I paid, I got a Merrell tech tee, awesome race experience, a post-race burger meal, a Merrell buff/headscarf, a finisher dog tag, and a post-race shower. I met Sharif and his friends after his race and he agreed that it was a ton of fun. The weather was gorgeous too!

Me and Sharif after the Merrell Mud Run. Notice that I had showered previously.

Sharif drove me into civilization (aka Astoria) where I could get my favorite post-race meal, ramen noodles, at HinoMaru. This little gem of a ramen place opened recently, and my friend Yuji introduced me to it.  I highly recommend the HinoMaru specialty ramen with the fireball, yum!

It was a jam-packed weekend overall. Rewind back to Friday (the 10K was on Sunday)–my co-workers and I celebrated a very successful softball season with our company league! It was the first time I had ever played softball since elementary school, and I’m really glad that I gave it a shot. Our team finished undefeated (I think 12-0-2, with zero losses and 2 ties) and emerged as Division III Champions in the EDSO softball league, woohoo!!! I was one of the novice players on the team, but it didn’t matter–I improved a lot and my co-workers were encouraging. As a celebration, EDSO invited the award winners from all the divisions to a dinner at Mercantile Grill in the Financial District. They had one hour open bar and a dinner buffet, complete with crab cakes, pasta, wings, beef and chicken. Sweet!

I enjoyed the party and hanging out with my co-workers yet again in a non-work setting. When the awards were announced, our co-captain Jimmy made a brief speech, and we received two team trophies (one was for being in the league for 10 years), as well as individual personalized glass paperweight awards! That was a really nice surprise. Go team!

Me and my friend Wams with our individual softball trophies

On Saturday, I managed to track down the Nutella Breakfast Tour Truck (my friends know that I’m an expert at tracking down free stuff) at 10am at a street fair. They were giving away samples, American Apparel “I ❤ Nutella” shirts, and I got to take my picture with a giant inflatable Nutella jar! Who doesn’t love Nutella? That was an awesome start to my day.

Nutella Breakfast Tour takes Manhattan!

Next, I stopped by free Yoga in the Park at Pier 63, right near the Hudson River. It was a cool, cloudy morning but not too cold for outdoor yoga. There was live music and 250 people doing yoga next to the river. All the attendees got free yoga mats and goodie bags too. I love New York.


So that was my weekend. Fast forward to Monday night–I had tickets to Jay-Z’s concert during the inaugural week of the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn! I was super-excited about this. As a native Brooklynite, having a $1 billion arena spring up in your neighborhood is a big deal. I also do like Jay-Z’s music, and I think it’s great that he went from the Marcy projects in Brooklyn to rap mogul to part owner of the (now) Brooklyn Nets.

The tickets were also pretty affordable, $29.50 before fees. Dina went to the concert with me and we had an awesome time. We ate at Bark Hot Dogs for dinner and had lattes at Hungry Ghost Cafe. We didn’t eat inside the arena, although there were a ton of options. The performance was electrifying, with amazing light effects and 18,000 screaming fans inside the venue. I felt really proud to be from Brooklyn.

Jay-Z in the house!


Ragnar Relay Washington, DC 9/21-9/22

I did my second Ragnar Relay of this year–the Ragnar DC!! Earlier this year, I was on the NYC Bridgerunners team for Ragnar Cape Cod and I was itching to do one in the fall. Luckily, my fabulous friend Diane decided to captain Team A.M.O.R.E (A Mismatch of Running Enthusiasts) once again so I had to join! One reason why I love relay races is because it makes running a team sport. Running can be a lonely and solitary activity when you’re training, but you find a good race and that all changes. Diane and I met randomly when she signed on to be a last-minute substitute for our Ragnar NY team last year. We hit it off and kept in touch ever since!

At the start at Rocky Gap State Park, MD

I arrived in DC at 11pm on Thursday evening, got to Diane’s house by midnight, and then only got two hours of sleep before my 3am wake-up call. We had to drive 2.5 hours from Burke, VA to the start line at Rocky Gap state park. I was in Van 1 with Catherine, Krissy, Diane, Deb and Shannon. Lucky Van 2 got to sleep in! It was so early that I didn’t get to meet the rest of my van mates for two hours because they were sleeping on the way to Rocky Gap State Park, lol! Diane was a trooper and drove us there, while I navigated a little bit and then had to nap for 30 minutes.

We got to the start, had our safety briefing, shopped for some Ragnar gear, and then saw Shannon start us off at 7:30am. Woohoo!

Van 1 of Team A.M.O.R.E (minus Shannon, who was running)

The scenery in Rocky Gap State Park was stunning. There was early morning fog and mist, and the runners ran a 5 mile loop on trail and quaint bridges. In the Ragnar Relay, there are 12 runners in 2 vans and you “leapfrog” the runner, dropping them off at exchange points and picking them up to rest so that one runner is on the road at all times. My biggest fear was getting lost, but since I’ve run in the same relay position (runner 6) of the Ragnar DC before, I knew it was unlikely. The weather was gorgeous and I was thrilled to be doing a relay again.

I enjoyed cheering on my teammates whenever possible, since it kept my mind off of being nervous for my own relay legs. I was proud of all of them for having fun and conquering the tough course!

My first leg was 6 miles, and it went by quickly. There were rolling hills, but the residential scenery was quaint and interesting. It felt like running through a very quiet town, but most of the houses were on tree-lined roads. Bugs became a problem at the exchange points–it was super humid and there were so many flying insects!

Catherine and Deb at an exchange point

I remember being really tired by the time we ate lunch/dinner around 3:00pm at a small bakery-restaurant called Weaver’s. I ate a plate of fried food like onion rings, wings, mozzarella sticks and chicken tenders. I also got a small bowl of vegetable soup and lemon meringue pie. It wasn’t the healthiest meal, but it was what my body craved. I remember napping a lot in the van between 8-11pm, hours before my second leg because I was so tired from lack of sleep the night before. I felt bad for not cheering as much as I wanted to, but I needed to conserve some energy since my next two legs were a hilly 3.5 miles and a long 8.5 mile leg.

I was dreading my second leg but also looking forward to it, just because it had such steep uphill climbs and I was going to be running around midnight in the pitch black rural wilderness. The only good part about it was that it ends at the South Mountain Creamery, one of my favorite places ever. They stay open during the nighttime hours to serve BBQ fare, fresh milk and ice cream to the runners! I dream about their fresh chocolate milk–so delicious.

I gutted out my second leg, running/jogging the uphills and gritting my teeth when my legs were screaming at me to stop. I usually consider myself a strong hill runner, but it’s quite another matter running hills in the dark, on 2 hours of sleep from the night before, and trying to conserve some energy for another 8.5 mile run. I got passed by a few runners on this leg and we panted words of encouragement at each other as we trudged up the hills. When I saw the lights of the creamery I immediately cheered up. I handed off the slap bracelet/baton to Greg, and immediately thought of FOOD. I went straight to the dairy store to get apple pie ice cream and a quart of fresh chocolate milk. I love the glass milk bottles–it just makes the milk look THAT much more tasty.

Fresh chocolate milk from the South Mountain Creamery (taken hours after I actually bought it!)

Deb got me a cheeseburger, and we went back to the van to drive off to the next exchange where we could sleep. I was so hungry at this point that I devoured the burger and ice cream, not caring if it would upset my stomach before I went to sleep. I kept the chocolate milk in the cooler for after my final leg, since chocolate milk is my favorite recovery beverage! We parked, slept for 3 hours, then woke up around 5:30 to meet Van 2 when they came by.

I woke up from our long nap still tired, but happier since it was daylight again and I could be on a normal schedule. Our exchanges went pretty smoothly, and I loved cheering on my teammates as they finished their third and final legs. One eventful thing did happen at Exchange 28 in front of a biomedical building. There was an overhead clearance gate to prevent vehicles of a certain height (or vans with roof decorations) from entering. It didn’t make that much sense since it was an open-air parking area, but there it was. Diane said somewhat ominously “Glad we don’t have to worry about rooftop decorations getting caught in that.”

No sooner than ten minutes after she said that, a Ragnar team van with a metal roof rack careened straight into the clearance gate, causing a sickening CRUNCH and ripping the gate off its concrete foundation. About forty other runners from various teams gaped on in shock, and unfortunately instead of helping, the first reaction of some people was to take pictures instead. Luckily, the people in the van appeared to be unharmed (although shaken up), and their windshield was cracked, but the glass didn’t shatter. I felt so bad for them–it was a crazy thing that happened, and I was unsure if the group ended up continuing the race after that catastrophe. I was just glad that everyone was ok, and people did assist them afterward and reported it to Ragnar race headquarters. This happened around 8:30am on the second day of the relay, pretty late in the game.

One by one, my fellow compatriots in Van 1 completed their legs, and finally it was my turn to run my third and final 8.5 mile leg! Since I’m a distance runner, I didn’t mind the mileage, but I was still eager to be done. I ran through a beautiful urban park, a recreational trail, through a tunnel, and then finally through my friend Lauren’s neighborhood of Friendship Heights! It was funny that I recognized her neighborhood–unfortunately I didn’t meet up with her because of the brief transition period, but it was nice to see a familiar place because it meant we were near DC! I high-fived my teammates, and then took my time to finally enjoy my chocolate milk from the creamery and change into a clean Team A.M.O.R.E. t-shirt. Van 1 was done, hooray!

Finally, it was my favorite part–driving to the finish and eating recovery foods!! Is this a good recovery food or what?

Diane brought the most amazing golden Oreo Fudge Creams and generously shared them with us. Thanks Diane! Too bad they are limited edition and were only available during the summer.

We drove to National Harbor, met up with our wonderful volunteers Larry and Art, explored the booths, and headed to lunch at Cadillac Grill. At the finish festival, we got free cans of tea and Monster energy drink, and I purchased some cool Ragnar pendants from Scott James jewelry. I also ran in to a co-worker, Rob, who was running with another team from the nonprofit Back on My Feet! It was a serendipitous meeting because the finish festival runs so long! At the Cadillac Grill, we had friendly service and I dug into a plate of lemon chicken and some cheesy nachos. Yum!

Around 3:00pm, both Van 1 and Van 2 of Team A.M.O.R.E. reunited at the finish to watch for our final runner, Derek to come through the finish line. The sun was shining, our team was grinning, and it just felt great to be a part of the whole thing. Finally, we spot Derek and we run through the finish with him, flip-flops and all. Congratulations team!!

Our final result for this 197-mile relay was a time of 31:29:28. We placed 170/298 total teams, and 73/139 in the Mixed Open division. But of course, we were the #1 team with heart!! This year, voting for the annual personality awards took place via text message, and a few days later we learned that we won for Best Decorated Van! It means we get bragging rights, our name in the results book and Ragnar Facebook page, and individual baton awards! A huge thank you goes to Diane for being captain and designing the original caricatures of our runners on the vans. Also, thanks to my teammates Bea, Kate, Lance, Greg, Steve, Derek, Diane, Deb, Krissy, Catherine and Shannon for being so fabulous! I had a great time running with you all and I was so happy to be a part of this team.

Last but not least, on Saturday evening Diane hosted a wine/champagne hour (thanks Shannon for the Chandon champagne!) and Chinese food eating festivities at her house. Then, she also woke up early to cook us a beautiful brunch complete with mimosas, breakfast sandwiches, eggs, bacon, sausage, hazelnut rolls, and sticky buns! Thank you Diane–you made us feel so special!! Before I left DC for good, Deb took me to Caribou Coffee to get an iced latte–I love their coffee. It was a great way to end a memorable weekend. I am truly a lucky person.

Hazelnut rolls that Diane made for part of brunch