Lisa Runs on Ramen

— running 26.2 and having foodie adventures too!

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Spartan Race NJ: Mud and mayhem

On Saturday, 9/7/13, a bunch of my friends and I participated in the Tri-state Super Spartan race in Vernon, NJ! In fact, our team, Big Daddy, was the largest team with 100+ members strong. It would be my third obstacle race–but I was a bit nervous because obstacle races tend to pack in lots of unpleasant surprises. It’s fun once you get through it, but racing through the unknown is a special kind of torture.

I want to thank Skechers Performance for providing me with awesome Skechers GoRun2 shoes that I used for the race. It was actually good to use a light shoe, as it dried quickly in the water obstacles and was flexible when I had to climb over walls and cargo nets. I got no blisters!!

My friend JC drove me and Suzanne to the race site at Mountain Creek ski resort, 1.5 hours away from NYC. We were assigned to the 11:30 am start wave, but through my experience at the Citi Field Spartan Sprint back in April, wave start times are kind of aribitrary, and you can start in a different wave if you miss yours. Traffic was a nightmare, as there were 2 parking zones: a $40 VIP parking lot ( a ripoff, but the start is across the street) and a further lot 1 mile away that has a free shuttle bus. We parked, and waited 20 minutes in line to get on a shuttle, and by that time it was 12pm already. Oops.

We took the time waiting on line to paint on each other’s faces. Oo-rah!

Once we arrived at the race site, we picked up our packets, put on our timing chips, and dropped off our baggage. The worst part of the race was the pre-race organization, namely bag check. There weren’t enough people staffing the bag check tent, and it took 30 minutes for us to drop off our bags with a volunteer. We missed our tentative 12:30pm race start and opted for the 1:00pm wave instead.

Once we got started, it was a tough climb 1.5 miles straight up the ski slope. The sun was beating down, but it was clear and felt like 75F, so it wasn’t terrible. I’ll detail the obstacles shortly, but the main things that stuck out to me were the camaraderie of the different teams, and the variety of obstacles. I was glad I was running with JC and Suzanne, and we stuck together pretty much the whole time. JC was nervous about the swimming obstacle, but I encouraged him and we both reached the other side of the creek safely. I loved seeing familiar faces on the course, like Shamz, Art, and David. During the 8 foot wall obstacle, a former Marine asked us if we needed a boost, then knelt down while he let us step on his shoulder. There were some really nice people helping others out.

It took me over 3 hours to complete the course, but I had so much fun doing it, and I managed to escape injury. The toughest part for me was the barbed wire crawl–it was a 100m pit of mud, and you can to crawl on your hands and knees under barbed wire for what seemed like an eternity. There was another part where you traversed several pits of mud, then had to dunk your head in muddy water under a wooden partition to emerge across the other side. Ick. The finish line photos say it all!

My final time:


Pace: 21:30/mile

Age group: 132/394

Gender: 567/1469

Overall: 2952/5429

Suz painting JC's face

Suz painting JC’s face

Pros of the race:

– Via a super special discount, we got free race registration and only had to pay $13 insurance. If you volunteer at any Spartan Race, you get a free entry!

– The course was relatively well-organized and well-marked. Most of the volunteers were great, but some stations were understaffed (spear station and baggage check), leading to disgruntled volunteers…

– You get a solid, relatively difficult obstacle race (I would say 7/10 in terms of difficulty, at least for me). There was fire, mud, barbed wire, climbing, and obstacles that required teamwork. What more could you ask for?

-free hi-resolution race photos available for download

– You get a neat headband printed with your race number, so you can be visible in photos.

– medal is heavy and nice

– nice photo ops at the finish line.

-Finish line festival had decent food (that you paid for). There was pulled pork and ice cream


– cheap cotton finisher shirt, no race location and date on it (same shirt for all locations)

– If you’re uncomfortable with the unknown, you wouldn’t really like this race. There’s 20+ obstacles in this 8-mile course. Train hard! They site doesn’t really tell you what type of gear or shoes to wear.

– baggage check costs $5 and logistics were a nightmare. It was not an organized line and I waited in line 25 minutes to check my bag

– Spartan races tend to be hard to get to, due to their locations at ski resorts. Allow extra driving/parking time!

Obstacle Highlights (this is not a complete list of obstacles):

– cargo net climb

– inverted wall

-swim across a creek (there were life vests)

– rope climb (this was one I failed at–I got up to 3/4 of the way)

– scaling a wooden wall

– climbing an 8 ft wall

– Tire flips

– “tractor” pull (pull a heavy rock)

– spear throw–if you fail, do 30 burpees (many failed)

– carry a sandbag up and down a steep hill

– the course itself was an obstacle–the first 1.5 miles were completely uphill, up a double black diamond ski slope


Lisa’s tips for future obstacle races:

– Bring a water bottle. a hand-held one with a grip thing is best–I used one with a rubber bracelet around it so I could tug it with me on my life vest in the water obstacle. There were only 3 water stations in the 8 miles.

-wear shoes that are relatively light with decent tread. Wear shoes that are easy to wash or that you plan on donating afterward–they will get muddy!

– bring shower gel, a change of clothes, and flip flops after the race.

– Go extra early! Many obstacle races have huge numbers of participants and the locations are remote/hard to get to. Allow yourself time for parking/traffic.

I knew at the finish line… that I have the coolest friends ever!!

So what did we do after our epic adventure? We hosed ourselves off in the makeshift “showers,” waited for the shuttle bus, then drove to Edgewater, NJ to eat dinner at the Japanese market, Mitsuwa. It’s the largest Japanese supermarket in the US! I ate a delicious spicy pork ramen at Santoka Ramen in the food court. Yum!! It was the perfect way to reward ourselves after a day of mud and mayhem. On to

the next adventure!

Me with my Skechers GoRun2's

Me with my Skechers GoRun2’s

Spicy pork ramen at Santoka ramen

Spicy pork ramen at Santoka ramen

spartan run


spartan crew 2


Mount Beacon, “Bear” Encounter and Restaurant week

Alas, summer has come to an end, but it was a great one filled with eating and running. I can’t believe it’s the month of my big goal race of 2013, the Bear 100! I am flying out to Utah on September 25 and I couldn’t be more stoked. Thanks to Shane, I have a lovely pacer from Utah who is willing to pace from miles 61-85, so that gives me an extra boost of confidence.

This is what I’ll be running from 9/27-9/28. Just looking at it makes my heart race.

Bear 100 (Utah) elevation chart

Bear 100 (Utah) elevation chart

It has been a very hot, humid summer for running, but training runs wait for no one! For the most part, I stuck to a pretty regular running schedule in June and July, but my running tapered off a bit in August because life happened. I definitely didn’t do as many long runs as I should have (in August), but I built a strong base in the spring (15 straight weeks of races) so I have confidence in that.

Mount Beacon

My best/most important workout was going to Mount Beacon with Shane in mid-August. If I do another mountainous ultra, I will definitely have to come here even more. It’s a lovely mountain in Beacon, NY with 1000 ft of elevation gain over roughly one mile. It’s perfect for technical/rocky trail running, hiking, and practicing descents.

We took the train to Beacon, ran 2 miles to the trail head, and then spent 6 hours hiking up and down the mountain multiple times. I did 6 repeats (50-55 minutes roundtrip for each one), while Shane did 8 repeats. It was fun seeing flabbergasted tourists asking us, “didn’t you hike this already?”

Reasons why Mount Beacon rocks (haha I made a pun…):

1) There’s a deli at the bottom with cold drinks and hot sandwiches

2) It’s fun to have a buddy come along–you can do repeats at your own pace, and high-five each other on the way up/down.

3) The views at the top are amazing

4) Its rocky, technical trail and steep climb make for perfect mountain hiking and simulates a mountainous trail 100.

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Summer Streets

The week after Mount Beacon, Shane and I ran about 5 miles of Summer Streets in NYC. Summer Streets is sort of a 6-mile long street festival that takes place 3 Saturdays in August. There are car-free streets, people are encouraged to bike, walk or run, and there’s even a Whole Foods “picnic” with samples. It’s a lot of fun.

I got some good schwag, like Sweet Leaf tea bottles, KIND bars, a photo opp from Banana boat, a Camelbak bottle from REI, and a coffee tumbler from the Public Theater.

Summer Restaurant Week

Of course, with all that training comes a bit of reward. I took advantage of some of the Summer Restaurant Week deals at Park Avenue Summer, Ai Fiori, Nobu and David Burke Townhouse. I even splurged a bit on non-RW prix-fixe at Marea (which I highly recommend). My awesome mom took me to The NoMaD restaurant for my birthday, and it was every bit as good as I thought it would be.

At Park Avenue Summer, Michelle and I had the softshell crab, pork shoulder with spicy tomato sauce, and lemon panna cotta with strawberry foam. So delicious! Sadly, Park Avenue Summer is moving locations and will be closing. It was one of my favorite restaurants–they have a 4 seasons concept where they change the name, decor and menu of the restaurant each season.

Teresa took me to Nobu New York for my birthday, and the standout dish was the beef teriyaki with spicy anticucho sauce. Thanks Teresa! Nobu never disappoints. David Burke Townhouse impressed me with a farm egg ravioli–super fresh and I love anything with egg in it. Ai Fiori for lunch was a delight. I got the zucchini soup appetizer, the skate wing (fish), and the vanilla panna cotta with summer berries. The skate wing was perfectly breaded and cooked, and the dessert was just the right amount of creamy and smooth. Finally, NoMaD knocked my socks off with all three courses: Corn (3 ways: grilled, pureed, and popped), Chicken (rosemary chicken with truffle brioche), and Milk and Honey (milk gelato with dehydrated milk foam and honey). It was really special to enjoy this restaurant on my birthday with my mom, and she loved it too. I highly recommend the Corn and the Chicken!

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Long Island Run: Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail

On Labor Day weekend, Shane and I headed out to Long Island to run some trails in Cold Spring Harbor. It was lovely, and even though the sky threatened to pour rain, we emerged unscathed. It was a 2-mile run from the LIRR station to the trailhead, then we spent 3 hours and 20 minutes running about 18 miles of trails. It was so nice to get out of the city! There were some slight climbs and a lot of tree roots that made it challenging, but the last 5 miles were pretty flat and were packed dirt. There was even a Stop & Shop at Jericho Turnpike which intersected the trail, so we stopped to get some Gatorade and water after 2 hours of running. Best of all, I found a “Bear” on the trail! It was a good omen for my 100-miler.

Lisa and the Bear

Lisa and the Bear

To top off our 3 hours of running, we stopped at Dollops for some frozen yogurt with toppings. I got pistachio and strawberry banana with mochi and blueberries. Yum!

The next day (9/2), we did a track workout. We ran 2 miles to the track, did 4x 400m repeats (1:22, 1:38, 1:44, 1:50…totally ran out of steam) and 20 burpees in between each repeat (80 burpees total). I also did 40 crunches, 20 oblique crunches per side, and 100m of walking lunges. Then, we ate ice cream and ran 2 miles back before the rain hit!

All this training will pay off, since I have three upcoming races in September, four in October, then I’m running the ING NYC Marathon in November!

Lisa’s race calendar:

1) Super Spartan New Jersey (10 mile obstacle course): 9/7/13

2) Run 10 Feed 10 (10K in NYC), running on behalf of Team Skechers 10/22/13

3) Bear 100 (Utah) 9/27/13

4) DC Ragnar Relay 10/4-10/5

5) Rock ‘n’ Roll 10K (Brooklyn) 10/12/13

6) Atlantic City Marathon (10/13/13)

7) Rock’n’ Roll LA Halloween Half (Cali, 13.1 miles): 10/27/13

8) ING New York City Marathon 11/3/13

See you on the run!

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Always a Whippet: In Memory of Robert Petrocelli

I always knew that running was a source of strength and support, but this past week I am prouder than ever to be part of the NYC running community. On August 22, 2013, a beloved Dashing Whippets teammate, Rob Petrocelli, passed away. He was only 38 years old, and I will miss him very much. I have very fond memories of running the Fairfield Half Marathon and various NYRR races with him, and also spent some time with him and Fanny at the Disneyland Half back in 2011. I send my deepest condolences to the Petrocelli family and his loved ones.

My amazing teammate Simon put together a Crowdrise fundraising page for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to accept donations in Rob’s memory. Many Whippets attended his wake at Frederick’s funeral home in Queens, and we smiled when we saw the memory boards his family put together of Rob proudly sporting his Whippets jersey in old race photos. It’s times like these when a team becomes much more than just a group of people to run with; this week I felt like my team was my family when we supported each other in our sense of loss.

Robert Petrocelli (photo taken from Facebook)

Robert Petrocelli (photo taken from Facebook)

I was able to pay my respects at his funeral on Thursday. Although he is gone, his memory will live on through his family, friends, and in his accomplishments as a Dashing Whippets team member and Marathon Maniac.

I posted to his page:

“Rob, I’m dedicating my 2013 ING NYC Marathon to you this year. I feel honored to have been your Dashing Whippets teammate and fellow Maniac. You made a whole lot of people smile, and I remember sharing great times with you in the Fairfield Half and a whole slew of NYRR races. I’m so in awe that you qualified for Boston and ran it the year it was so hot–I remember you giving me a thumbs-up when I saw you while volunteering at a water station. I hope to run Boston one day just like you. Rest in peace, my friend.”

Rob (left), me and Paul at the 2011 Fairfield Half Marathon, CT

Rob (left), me and Paul at the 2011 Fairfield Half Marathon, CT