Lisa Runs on Ramen

— running 26.2 and having foodie adventures too!


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Countdown to 20in24 Lone Ranger Run, winning prizes and local races

I have the Back on My Feet 20in24 Lone Ranger race this week, on 7/20! I am running for 12 of the 24 hours due to work the next day, but I am grateful for this chance to still run with my friends. I am humbled and thankful for all my supporters who have generously donated to my cause, and as of this week I have raised $530 for Back on My Feet. Over the past two years, I have raised over $2000 for Back on My Feet as as FundRacer! It is an amazing organization that uses running as a vehicle to help the homeless regain self-sufficiency. If their residential members (individuals experiencing homelessness) attend 90% of practices, they are connected with housing assistance and job placement assistance.

I have run this race for the past two years, and it is one of my favorite races because it was the first time I had ever run 76 miles in 24 hours back in 2011. It was a transformative and unforgettable experience. Below is one of my favorite photos from the 2012 edition, with my friends Otto and Michelle. My goal is to run 50 miles in under 11 hours, then work the next day!

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I feel like I trained well for this race, and it will be a great stepping stone for my Bear 100 preparations. In the past few weeks, I have completed the Oakley New York Mini 10K (time was 53:46), the Portugal Day run 5-miler (43:48), the Front Runners Gay Pride Run 5-miler (44:21), the Governor’s Island Get Outside 10K (new PR of 49:55), and I paced my friend Juergen for 26 miles of his first 100-miler (The Greater NY 100). I had so much fun seeing my Dashing Whippets male teammates dressing up to cheer on us ladies for the Mini 10K, and I loved running with my friends Shamz, Leong, Peter and Carol on Governor’s Island.  I know I am ready!

I am a bit worried about the hot weather (NYC is experiencing a heat wave right now), but I just need to hydrate properly and adjust my pace according to how my body is feeling.

I also had some amazing luck with contests lately, and I just wanted to thank Elizabeth at Running and the City, Enlightened Ice Cream, and Skechers Performance for giving me some amazing prizes!

I won a Twitter contest through Running and the City, where I said that if I won the prize of a month’s supply of Enlightened ice cream, I would use it as motivation to train for the Bear 100. Out of dozens of tweets submitted, mine was chosen as the winner and two weeks later, 8 boxes of healthy Enlightened ice cream (in flavors of Fudge, orange cream, and coffee, yum!) showed up on my doorstep! Thank you thank you!

I also entered a Facebook contest for a Skechers Performance/ Meb Keflezighi (elite marathoner) prize pack worth $650. I entered it without much thought, and I received an email a week later saying that I won! The prize pack included a Garmin Forerunner 10, Oakley Flak Jacket sunglasses, a Sony Walkman Meb mp3 player, UCAN product, a box of Krave turkey jerky, Powerbar product, CEP compression socks, Meb’s book “Run to Overcome” and Skechers running shoes!  It was the best raffle prize I ever received. Thanks so much, Skechers and the raffle gods! Now I have even more motivation to train my best.

Dashing Whippets at the Oakley Mini 10K

Dashing Whippets at the Oakley Mini 10K

Get Outside Governor's Island 10K
Get Outside Governor’s Island 10K

Front Runners Pride Run 5-miler

Front Runners Pride Run 5-miler

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Virgin London Marathon part 2

May is off to a running start…I started a brand-new job that I’m really excited about, and I’ve had a ton of running adventures in the past month. I have been extremely fortunate the past two years to have been able to run races all over the world and in various states: Tokyo, Vancouver, California, Florida, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Hawaii and more. I am capping it off with London as my last big hurrah before buckling down and focusing on career and more local races.

So I went to sleep on the eve of the London Marathon (4/20) around 11:30pm. I stayed at the Palmer’s Lodge in Swiss Cottage (a great hostel, by the way), and it was great because I stayed there in 2008. It was cool to return to a place I stayed in my youth! (Yeah I’m still young…I know) I stayed in a 14-bed girls’ dorm and I felt bad to be coughing before I fell asleep, but no one was mean about it or anything. I slept for about 7 hours and when I woke up, I still only felt about 70% but tried to make the best of it. I was still really happy to be there and my goal was to just finish, be happy, and not go to the hospital!

Me looking tired from sightseeing and being sick

Me looking tired from sightseeing and being sick

I got some encouraging words from my fellow hostel-mates, who saw my runner’s bib and wished me luck. That’s why I don’t mind staying in hostels–I like the interactions and people are really nice. I saw a girl named Heather at the hostel in a volunteer jacket, and she said she would be working at the finish line! I promised to keep an eye out for her.  The 10am start time meant that I was able to wake up at 7am and had until 8am to leave and take the Tube. All London Marathon participants got free Tube access from 7am-5pm on race day, just by showing their bibs! It was a nice little perk.

On the way, I met a brother-sister pair named Sara and James at the Swiss Cottage Tube station, and we chatted about the marathon and wished each other luck. I love the way the Brits pronounce “Marathon” as “Marathin.” If you ever watch the hilarious movie “Run Fatboy Run,” you will know what I am talking about. I also met a volunteer who was really excited to be handing out medals at the finish line.

So we got off at Greenwich station, and it was a 15-20 minute walk to the start area. I was in the Red “mass” start. The weather was perfectly beautiful–50s  in the morning, but reaching about 70s and sunny the whole time. I actually overdressed, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

Entrance to the staging area

Entrance to the staging area

I sported my Marathon Beasts warm-up jacket (thanks Leong!), my Oakley sunglasses, Marathon Maniacs singlet, and a black ribbon and “We are All Boston Marathoners” back bib to remind me who I was running for. It was a day of solidarity, to show the world that marathoners are not afraid.

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Amazingly enough, even with 35,000 runners milling about, my friend Trent (aka Marathon Man) from Australia managed to find me in the crowd, with no phone!! He didn’t even know I was running the race! That is race day magic, folks. That gave me a little boost of happiness and confidence to see a familiar face.

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At 9:58am, the entire crowd of runners fell silent for 30 seconds to mark a moment of silence for the Boston Marathon bombing victims. It was very powerful, knowing that the whole world was watching. Then, the starting gun went off, and off we were sent into the streets of London. Spectators filled the streets and the energy was electric! I even got to see my friend/coworker Gail as we were running at the start!

There were a ton of costumed runners and little kids cheering and giving high fives. I saw Scooby Doo, a camel, a bumblebee, and a beer bottle, just to name a few. At the London Tower Bridge (mile 12), I got passed by the beer bottle…womp womp.

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It must be so hot to run in costume…

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I asked a kind spectator to take a photo for me…lest I forget the moment…

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The London Bridge was towering and majestic, and I was incredibly lucky to be running through it. I even got to see my fast running buddies Stuart and Adam coming up on mile 23 once I reached the 13 mile mark. I screamed their names and they acknowledged me (they’re both sub-2:55 marathoners). Incredible.

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They served Lucozade and water on course…Lucozade is like a version of Gatorade, but a bit more tart. I had to dilute it with water. It’s very hard to gain entry into the Virgin London Marathon, so about 90% of the field are charity runners. I was one of the few without a charity singlet. I later learned that they only accept about 5,500 international entrants. I got my entry from my former employer, so I was one of the lucky ones. If you ever get a chance to run, do it!! It is one of the World Marathon Majors, part of a “grand slam” of big-city marathons. The spectators are incredible…about 700,000 showed up to cheer that day but it felt like more. I wrote my name on my singlet and got many cheers of “Go Lisa!”

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Here’s a view of Cutty Sark, a beautiful historical boat that we ran by. Absolutely stunning. There were a lot of spectators that were handing out gummy bears, orange slices, and bananas. I gratefully accepted, especially the gummy bears! I was so glad I wore a hat–it was really hot that day.

I was feeling pretty good through the halfway point, and then I started feeling a bit lethargic and sluggish from the heat. The first 3 miles my throat felt like sandpaper, despite carrying a small Lucozade bottle and hydrating along the way. Although I wasn’t supposed to have a time goal (taking it easy because of being sick), I really wanted to finish under 5 hours. I ran a good first half and thought of all the people cheering me on and tracking me back at home. I thought of my brave friends who ran the Boston Marathon, and I thought of the Boston Marathon bombing victims who had so much taken away from them. That made me forget any discomfort I was feeling at the moment.

As much as I wanted to reach the finish line, it was such an exhilarating race I almost didn’t want it to be over. The scenery was gorgeous and millions of pounds were being raised for charity. One of my favorite places was the “downtown” area with a lot of big office buildings…sometime after mile 18. There were so many spectators and it reminded me of the Chicago Marathon.

When I saw Big Ben and the London Eye, I knew that we were close to the finish at Buckingham Palace. I was hurting, and I knew that I wanted to reach the finish line ASAP.

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My friend and old college roommate Nicholette said she would be waiting for me near the finish line, so I was scanning the crowds for her face. I knew that it would be hard to spot her, and figured I would meet her in the family reunion area. I glanced at my watch and saw that I could finish under 4:55 if I really pushed it. This was a difficult marathon for me and I felt like a newbie all over again. I embraced that feeling though–marathons are never easy, and it’s how we deal with the tough ones that we realize what we are really made of.

I crossed the finish in 4:54:43, overwhelmed by emotion and feeling spent, but victorious.

Here were my final results:

Net time: 4:54:43

Overall place: 23345/34202

Females: 6639/12066

Age group: 3986, F18-39

At the finish line, I gratefully accepted my medal and started to wander about looking for my bag and trying to find a way to reach Nicholette.

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Soon after, I spotted the new friend I made at the hostel this morning, Heather the volunteer!! She was at a table on the left and I happened to cross the finish line on my left. Race day magic again! She let me borrow her phone (my iPhone was useless in London) so I could make a quick phone call to Nicholette. Thanks, Heather! Later, I learned that she traveled all the way from Cambridge (a 1 hr regional train ride away) just to volunteer. People are amazing–thank you to all the volunteers.

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(Me and Heather.)

Everyone got a finisher food bag with goodies in it, including a heat Mylar blanket and a one-size fits all (??) cotton red “finisher” t-shirt. It was ginormous on me…glad I bought some Adidas gear at the expo. I’ll use it as a nightgown…that is the only bad thing about this marathon–the shirt isn’t really wearable.

I found Nicholette at the finish line–it meant so much to me to have her there! I was still wobbly on my feet, but we tried to get out of the family reunion area ASAP, and I stopped in my tracks for ice cream! I got a delicious ice cream cone as my first post-race food. Mm-mmm good!

Me and Nicholette

Me and Nicholette

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Before an early dinner (it was 3pm when I finished), Nicholette and I met up with Paola and I ate some mushroom soup at Pret a Manger. We also shopped around at Covent Garden, where I went to Tea Palace, the Apple Store, and even the Moomin (book character) store!

I was a bit disoriented and I hadn’t had lunch, so a 5:30pm dinner sounded a-ok to me. I also had an appointment for the one touristy thing I was going to do: ride the London Eye at 8:00pm.

Nicholette, Paola and I decided on Wahaca, a modern Mexican place.

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I ordered a spicy chicken burrito, coffee, and of course, churros con chocolate with dessert. I devoured it all–so yummy!

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Thanks Nicholette and Paola, for hanging out with me post-race! As the sun was setting, I made my way to the London Eye. The Thames River was gorgeous at dusk. Many passersby congratulated me on my run after seeing my medal.

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I got there with enough time to spare before my 8:00pm “flight time” on the world’s largest observation wheel. Sure, it was expensive (about $24) but I couldn’t think of a better leisurely sedentary activity to cap off my trip. I went on it once in 2008 and loved it. This time, they included a 4-D movie experience with price of admission. Sweet!

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And up we went!

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There were about 10 other people in my observation capsule, and everyone helped each other take photos. A man proposed to his girlfriend in our capsule, and she said yes! It was so sweet, and it was even more magical as the sun set.

London, you have been good to me. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

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Team Refuel Voting, Macaron Day, birthdays and Samsung Galaxy S4 Launch

I have fallen behind in my blog posting, because the past couple of weeks I’ve been busy running a marathon, a half marathon, eating macarons, and getting people to vote for me to rejoin Team Refuel in 2013! I’m thrilled to announce that I’m a top-10 finalist to win a $500 grant from Got Chocolate Milk, but I need your votes! It only takes 5 seconds, and you can vote daily through 4/5! Furthermore, Got Chocolate Milk will donate $1 to the Challenged Athletes Foundation per vote, so it’s a win-win!

Voting link: http://bit.ly/13L5zWu

Thanks for your support! Regardless of the result, I am grateful to have represented Team Refuel in the 2012 season (I joined in October 2012) and am a proud alumna. I love chocolate milk and I use it as my recovery beverage after each race.

Photo from the Got Chocolate Milk website

Photo from the Got Chocolate Milk website

So in mid-March, I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon, thanks to Team Refuel. I’ll have a whole blog post about that later this week, but I’m happy to say that I surprised myself by running a 4:31:04 on a hilly course through Washington, DC! I was originally aiming for a 4:45:00 or under, but I underestimated my fitness early in the season. I typically peak in late summer/early fall, so it bodes well for the upcoming months that I’m racing…

Macaron Day NYC

On 3/20/13, it was one of my favorite days of the year–Macaron Day in NYC! That’s right, in New York City, there’s an entire day dedicated to bakeries handing out free macarons from opening until close (or whenever they run out). Most bakeries run out by 3pm, since usually quantities are limited to 500 and it’s become so popular. The macaron, not to be confused with the coconutty macaroon, “is a classic French cookie. The soft, crunchy, delicate shell is made from almond flour, sugar and egg whites, sandwiching a smooth layer of creamy ganache. ” (from the Macaron Day website)

I actually had the day off from work on 3/20, so I basically ate my way around the city. I started my macaron adventure in the West Village, where I met up with my friend Stephanie for our first macaron stop. Around 11am we went to Mille-Feuille bakery, where I had my first treat of the day: a salted caramel macaron lollipop!

Salted caramel macaron at Mille Feuille Bakery

Salted caramel macaron at Mille Feuille Bakery

Macaron connoisseurs: Stephanie and me!

Macaron connoisseurs: Stephanie and me!

They also had awesome wall art:

Macaron as art

Macaron as art

Stephanie and I also hit up Bisous Ciao and Bosie Tea Parlor together. At Bisous Ciao, they gave us a special peanut butter and jelly flavor, and I purchased a Thai Iced Tea flavored macaron and loved it! Stephanie’s favorite was the jasmine flavor at Bosie Tea Parlor.

I also stopped by the Columbus Circle area to eat lunch. So, I have a rule where if I ran a marathon that week, I get to eat whatever I want for that entire week! It’s a way of rewarding myself after racing hard. It’s a good rule, and helps prevent burn-out from all that marathon training. An even better rule is that if I run 100 miles, I get to eat whatever I want for TWO weeks. One day, I had two lunches just because I felt like it. This includes, but is not limited to, lots of dessert and lobster rolls.

I had one lunch at Francois Payard bakery–scrambled egg and bacon on pretzel bread. It was divine.

Breakfast sandwich/lunch at Payard Bakery

Breakfast sandwich/lunch at Payard Bakery

Macarons at Payard Bakery on West Broadway (organizers of Macaron day)

Macarons at Payard Bakery on West Broadway (organizers of Macaron day)

When I walked by the Time Warner Center, I spotted these:

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A random bunny convention/ad in Columbus Circle?? Only in New York…

Tons of people snapped photos.

I like bunnies, but this was kind of weird.

I like bunnies, but this was kind of weird.

Next, I went to the Plaza Food Hall and had a lobster roll from Luke’s Lobster, and scooped up some macarons (pistachio and cassis flavors) from Francois Payard at the Plaza and Todd English at the Plaza Food Hall. After eating the lobster roll, I had some Lady M mille-crepe cake. This stuff goes for $7.50 a slice, but it’s the best cake in NYC. (I kept telling myself I earned it, I ran a marathon!)

To finish up my day of chasing macarons, my last stop was Mad Mac  at Bernadaud. The owner/chef of Mad Mac, Florian Bellanger, is a judge on Cupcake Wars! He is always there to greet his customers on Macaron Day, plus he had a great deal of 12 macarons for $15, a special just for the occasion. It’s the cheapest price for macarons I’ve seen, and they’re delicious! I bought a box, and felt good about my purchase because a portion of proceeds from macaron sales on 3/20 went to City Harvest! The sample of the day from Mad Mac was pumpkin–with real seeds. It was pretty good.

Me and Florian Bellanger, owner of Mad Mac and Food Network Cupcake Wars judge

Me and Florian Bellanger, owner of Mad Mac and Food Network Cupcake Wars judge

In all, I set a new PR of about 11 macaron places in 4 hours. My ultrarunning skills were put to good use! I didn’t eat all the macarons at once…some I saved for later. Some other places I visited not mentioned here were: Epicerie Boulud, Macaron Cafe and Bouchon Bakery. Here were the “winners” in my book:

Best Macaron Day sample: salted caramel (Mille-Feuille Bakery)

Most unique flavor: Thai iced tea (Bisous Ciao)

My favorite flavor: cassis (Payard Bakery)

Best decor/set-up: Bisous Ciao (it looks like a jewel box!)

Macaron Cafe

Macaron Cafe

As if that wasn’t enough, once I was done running around for Macarons, I went to the Japan Week celebration in Grand Central Terminal. I love hanging out in Grand Central, and they had a nice set-up with food for sale, information booths, and door prizes.

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At Japan Week celebration in Grand Central

At Japan Week celebration in Grand Central

I sampled some tea and miso soup, saw a 3-D movie about the Shinkansen, and won a small door prize (third prize) in a random draw game. I won a cell phone picture stand that props up my iPhone! It had a picture of the high-speed Mag-Lev trains on it. It was useful, and better than the default prize, which was a pack of tissues! The guy a few places behind me won the grand prize–a $600 train ticket to use in Japan!! Oh well, at least somebody won!

Samsung Galaxy S4 Launch at Radio City

This was one of the cooler promotional events I got to go to–through gdgt, I managed to score tickets to the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch at Radio City Music Hall on 3/14. Since I knew the venue was world-class, I knew it was going to be an awesome event. I went with some friends, including Paul, Teresa, Art and Christie. We lined up about an hour early and the line was already super long. Luckily, we got in without any problems, despite the line being totally disorganized. Before we sat down, we were able to get drinks at an open bar (wine, beer, or soft drinks). The name of the event was Samsung Unpacked, and we weren’t sure what to expect.

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They had a ton of introductions by a host (forgot his name), then one of the CEO’s, J.K. Shin (Chief of Mobile Technology). My friends likened him to the Korean Steve Jobs, lol.

JK Shin introducing the S4

JK Shin introducing the S4

It was cool gaining entry into this hot-ticket event, even though we weren’t industry insiders. Everyone around us was working on laptops, clearly blogging/writing about the event. We just sat back and enjoyed it lol. The skits were a bit cheesy, but they showed off the features quite well, and the bi-level sets were elaborate:

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There was a full orchestra, a ton of actors, costumes, and the whole thing must have cost millions to put together. Not to mention a viewing party was being held outside in Times Square. Some cool features I picked up on: there is a voice translation software that will translate written words and spoken text to many different languages, there’s a dual camera feature, and a “touchless” screen that detects movement, like the wave of a palm. The display is also pretty sick (some high ppi/pixels per inch), I didn’t take notes though.

Finally, the presentation ended with the first row of the stage flipping up some tables for audience members to play around with, and smiling Samsung staff ready to assist. They had the same demo stages downstairs too.

On the way out, we each grabbed a boxed dinner (pretty tasty–chicken with race and a delicious decorated sugar cookie (it had a “4” on it). As the parting gift, we also got 64GB micro-SD memory cards, pretty cool. Definitely a good event to be at!

A Half Marathon and Amy’s birthday

On 3/23 I ran the 13.1 New York race. I treated it as a training run, having just run the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon recently and barely having had time to recover. Still, I wanted to run it with a good effort, since I traveled from Brooklyn to Queens to run it! It was a crisp, windy day and there were a good amount of runners.

The course was winding and wet/muddy in some places. It was mostly flat but for a few inclines. I want to give a shout-out to my friend Franchel for running this as his first half marathon! I was very proud of him for finishing–it wasn’t an easy one! Thanks to Shane for coming out to cheer and take pictures.

Sprint finish after 13.1 miles

Sprint finish after 13.1 miles

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I ran about a 2:01, a good effort on not-so-fresh legs. I’m using this as a tune-up for my next half-marathon, the More Women’s Half Marathon the second week of April. After the race, I had delicious food from one of my favorite restaurants, Biang! in Flushing. I had the spicy cumin lamb noodles in soup, and the quail egg with sausage on mantou (bread).

Quail egg and sausage on mantou from Biang!

Quail egg and sausage on mantou from Biang!

Eating spicy cumin lamb noodles

Eating spicy cumin lamb noodles

I love eating spicy cumin lamb noodles after racing–it’s a comfort food of mine. The appetizer/mantou was also delicious–perfect as a brunch-type food. It’s also a unique dish that I haven’t seen anywhere else!

To cap off my busy day, I went to my sister’s birthday party! Since my sister is a beloved food blogger, I knew the food was going to be awesome. It was a full apartment, and I’m happy I got to celebrate with her and all her favorite people (and animals–two dogs and two cats were present). Happy birthday Amy! Now please pass me a slice of that Momofuku Milk Bar banana cake 🙂

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Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon recap

I was super excited to represent Team Refuel at the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon on 2/24/13! Any excuse to fly down to New Orleans is a good one! I knew that I was going to indulge in some good ol’ Cajun food and fried chicken, but I wanted to do well in the half marathon to test my fitness. It was definitely a balancing act.

Leftover Mardi Gras decorations on houses

Leftover Mardi Gras decorations on houses

I arrived late Friday night so I could pick up my packet at the expo on Saturday. But first things first, my friend Steven and I headed to Willie Mae’s Scotch House for the best fried chicken in America (according to the Travel Channel and Food Network).

Waiting for fried chicken at Willie Mae's

Waiting for fried chicken at Willie Mae’s

There were a bunch of people waiting for their fried chicken at 11am when we got there. Unfortunately, we couldn’t eat in the dining room because there were plumbing problems, and all orders were packed to go. No big deal–we enjoyed our lunch in the car! I ordered the white meat chicken with buttered beans and rice. It was a steal at $13.

My pre-race meal: fried chicken at WIllie Mae's the day before . SO good. Top three fried chicken ever.

My pre-race meal: fried chicken at WIllie Mae’s the day before . SO good. Top three fried chicken ever.

The verdict? Definitely worth the trip to Treme and it was the top 3 best fried chicken I’ve ever had. The only other fried chicken comparable to it was at Coop’s Place (NOLA) and The Redhead (NYC). I’ll have to come back next time!

Off we went to the expo. I picked up my packet and met up with fellow Team Refuel members Jesus and Jeremy who also happened to be at the Got Chocolate Milk? booth at the same time. Picture time!

Me and Jesus S. Go Team Refuel!

Me and Jesus S. Go Team Refuel!

I love the Cavalcade of Curiosities display by Brooks!

I love the Cavalcade of Curiosities display by Brooks!

The expo was a bit of a madhouse–I got a free t-shirt as a door prize from Brooks’ “Cavalcade of Curiosities,” some Powerbar Fruit packet samples, but not much else. I missed meeting Kara Goucher, but I did get to see my NYC friends (and fellow Kara fans) Benny, Carol and Keila at the expo. Good luck everyone!

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Before I headed to my pre-race meal at Domenica, I sat down to hear a chat between running greats Frank Shorter (gold medalist in the Munich Olympic marathon) and Rod Dixon (past NYC Marathon champion). I got photos with them afterwards!

Me and Frank Shorter

Me and Frank Shorter

Me and Rod Dixon

Me and Rod Dixon

At around 4:30pm, I headed to my early dinner reservation at Domenica. I ate super early for two reasons: 1) it was the only reservation I could get last minute due to the gobs of people in town, 2) Happy hour lasts until 6pm and pizzas and beer are 50% off! Good to know. I came here last year and was very impressed by the food and modern ambience, so I wanted to come back.

This time, my friend and I ordered the wild mushroom and bacon pizza with farm egg (yum) and the squid ink tagliolini with blue crab meat and lemon sauce. The tagliolini was buttery and oily but sooo good!

Domenica's squid ink tagliolini

Domenica’s squid ink tagliolini

Wild mushroom and bacon pizza with farm egg

Wild mushroom and bacon pizza with farm egg

Admittedly, I didn’t do too much research this time around about food. Next time, I would love to try a new place like Jacques-imo’s, the Upperline restaurant, and/or Cochon. There’s just too many good places to eat. There’s also super pricey options like Galatoire’s brunch, Antoine’s and Commander’s Palace…maybe in a few more years haha. I’m just happy eating good food without breaking the bank!

Race Day– Sunday 2/24

I woke up super early and excited to run! I was representing Team Refuel and I wanted to get there early to meet my friends. I also had access to the VIP tent so I wanted to take advantage of that too.

Steven was a good sport and dropped me off at the start line, bright and early at 6:00am (race started at 7:00). I chatted with some Team Refuel members, including Jeremy and George, and relaxed in the VIP area where they had muffins, bananas, and private bathrooms for us. These things make a difference when you’re in a rush! I also met up with my Aussie friends Jane and Trent, who I haven’t seen since the 2012 Tokyo Marathon!

Jane, Trent and myself

Jane, Trent and myself

There were a lot of notable elite athletes running the half. I didn’t realize it at the time I signed up for the half-marathon; normally I opt for the longer distance, but I ran the full marathon last year and got Louisiana as a state in my 50 states quest. I wanted to be able to sightsee and enjoy the food without worrying about 26.2 miles this time. Mo Farah, Meseret Defar, Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher were some of the boldface names running in the half marathon. I didn’t see them in the VIP tent at the start, but I told myself that I’d run fast enough to at least catch them post-finish in the VIP tent! Good motivation! Usually elite runners are more than happy to greet fans post-competition, especially if they had a good day.

The course was flat and fast, and ran through the most interesting parts of New Orleans. I ran a PR here one year and wanted to do myself proud again. Secretly I was aiming for a 1:55, but it was still early in the season and I wasn’t in peak shape yet.

During the race, I didn’t feel 100% myself. Then, I remembered that I had oily tagliolini and fried chicken for fuel. That was probably it. I could have regretted it but I didn’t–just gritted my teeth and pressed on.

The weather was perfect–nice and cool but not windy. I remembered wishing I had my sunglasses on as we ran down St. Charles Ave. The out-and-back course allowed us to spot the elite athletes, so that was cool to watch. Mo was running like a champ, and Shalane and Meseret were neck-and-neck in the women’s race.

I was actually on pace to run a PR for the first 7-8 miles of the race, then I bonked and ran out of gas. As we ran through the French Quarter in the final miles, I told myself to hold on. I still wanted to finish under 2:00, fried chicken in my stomach or not. We enter City Park and I know I’m almost done. My legs were fatigued but I urged them on. As I crossed the finish line, the announcer gave me a Team Refuel shout out! I vaguely remember him saying “Look at her sprint it in! Must be the chocolate milk!” As a rule, I always try to sprint it in to the finish. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t run hard enough. It just means that I want to finish strong.

Here were my results:

Net time: 1:58:36 (9:03 pace)

Overall: 1983/9270

Gender: 760/5867

Age group: 159/985

finisher

I was pretty pleased with my placing, especially because I placed in the top 13% of women. Sweet! It turns out that I was the first Team Refuel member to finish the half marathon as well. A Team Refuel rep, Lindsey, greeted me at the finish with encouragement and ice cold chocolate milk. It was nice to see a smiling face at the end!

I met up with Jeremy (also on Team Refuel) at the VIP tent, and we chatted away while waiting for our respective friends. There was hot food like pasta, muffalettas, and po’ boys in the tent. There were beignets and yogurt cups too! As if that weren’t enough, you could get a mimosa and we had our own private supply of chocolate milk. So awesome!

Best of all, the elite athletes were chilling in the same space while they waited for the awards ceremony. I was really excited about meeting them, but I especially wanted to meet Mo. He became a household name since he won gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m in the London Olympics. He also won the half-marathon in a sick time of 1:00:59!

Me and Mo Farah

Me and Mo Farah–he won in 1:00:59!

Me and Kara Goucher

Me and Kara Goucher

Kara Goucher was so funny and sweet. Even though I’ve met her multiple times, I always make an effort to say hello if she’s doing an appearance. She asked her agent if she had spinach in her teeth before taking a photo with me, haha.

Me and Shalane Flanagan

Me and Shalane Flanagan

Me and my teammate Jeremy. Soon he'll be starring in a Got Chocolate Milk? ad!

Me and my teammate Jeremy. Soon he’ll be starring in a Got Chocolate Milk? ad!

Me and Meseret Defar, women's champ

Me and Meseret Defar, women’s champ

It was a great day. It’s my third time running this race in New Orleans and I feel blessed that Team Refuel sponsored my race entry this year. Thanks Team Refuel! I really enjoyed meeting teammates from different geographical areas. Everyone is really nice.

Finally, you’d think I was able to rest and take a nap after all that running, but I went sightseeing and eating instead. I met up with friends at Oceana for some gumbo. I had previously had an illy coffee and a strawberry and Nutella crepe at Merchants cafe, so that was my brunch. We also walked around in the French Quarter, where I did some souvenir shopping and explored the French Market a bit more.

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Nice hat!

Nice hat!

For dinner, Steven and I met up again and we headed to Coop’s Place for some more delicious fried chicken. They use an awesome spice/pepper blend for their chicken and I can’t resist going here for the third time! The chicken comes with jambalaya too. I wish I could eat like this more often.

Fried chicken and jambalaya at Coop's Place

Fried chicken and jambalaya at Coop’s Place

It started raining, and after dinner we headed to Cafe du Monde for their famous beignets and chicory coffee. We tried going yesterday at 11am but the line was ridiculous. At 8pm on a Sunday, we sat down right away. I missed out on going to Cafe du Monde last year so I made up for lost time!

Beignets at Cafe du Monde

Beignets at Cafe du Monde

Finally, as I walked down Bourbon Street (not a huge fan of the touristy scene), I noticed how quiet and beautiful the street was in the rain. This is probably one of my favorite photos I’ve taken in recent memory. Soon, I would fly out at 7am and return back to my beloved NYC. Until next time!

rainy NOLA

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