Lisa Runs on Ramen

— running 26.2 and having foodie adventures too!


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Lisa’s Spring Marathoning and Yahoo! Health article

Spring in NYC is one of my favorite times of the year–and I’ve been so lucky to have had several pacing gigs and marathons keeping me busy recently!

First, I wanted to start off with the exciting news that I was published in a profile on Yahoo! Health by reporter Jenna Birch. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined as a 15-year-old high school cross-country runner, that my story would be published on Yahoo! I thank my friends, family, and running family for their support. Thanks to Built with Chocolate Milk and Skechers Performance for sponsoring me and providing me with awesome race gear and shoes that I train & race in! I would also like to thank my contact at Yahoo!, Carolyn Wilde, who believed my story was worth telling!

You can read the article, entitled “Meet the 27-year-old who has run 54 Marathons,” here.

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So what else have I been up to? I’ll give a micro-run-down on the many races I have been running:

Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon, 3/14/15

Thanks so much to my sponsors at Built with Chocolate Milk for the opportunity to run this! It was a rainy and cold one–at least it wasn’t windy! Team Chocolate Milk hooked it up with an indoor VIP area at the swanky Intercontinental hotel at the start line. I met up with some teammates, and then braced myself for the rain. Considering that it was medium to heavy rain the whole time (except for the last half-hour), I was pleased with my performance of of 4:49:05 for a full marathon! All the finishers got postage stamp-shaped medals, and full marathon finishers got a sweet Brooks finisher jacket! And of course, I recovered with chocolate milk afterwards. Recovery was super important, since I was running a half marathon the next day!

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NYC Half, 3/16/15

I had the honor of co-pacing the 2:30 group for the United Airlines NYC Half, running through the heart of Times Square! Louisa was my co-pacer, but we led separate groups because there was such a huge field. The weather was perfect–a bit chilly at the end, but a couple of my runners ran with me the whole time, and a bunch crushed their goals! It was a great feeling. I was right on target with a 2:29:10 finish!

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The expo was also a lot of fun–I was honored to be on the pace booth signage alongside my friend Jackie Choi, with photos from last year’s TCS NYC Marathon! I didn’t get to write a blog post about the marathon last year, but Jackie and I have claim to fame running the entire 2015 TCS NYC Marathon in a unicorn costume as the 5-hour pace group leader! We were shown in Bill Cunningham’s Sunday Styles section (11/7/14) at the 0:53 mark in this video.

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Tri-State Spartan Beast NJ 2015

I tackle the Spartan Beast with a bunch of friends and former co-workers–definitely more fun doing it as a team! Mountain Creek is no joke–it is a straight-up ski slope, and we encountered 30+ obstacles and 14+ miles of rough terrain. The worst obstacles, hands-down, were the 300m uphill and 300m downhill climb with a bucket of rocks (for females it felt like 30 lbs, for men probably 45lbs). The bucket had no handle, so you had to awkwardly bear-hug the rocks and slog up the hill. The other tied-for-worst obstacle was the uphill icy barbed wire climb. I had to crawl on ice and rocks on my bare hands and knees to avoid barbed wire. It was very very painful, and I ended up with cuts and bruises that didn’t go away for weeks. Thanks to my teammates for sticking with me!

My finish time was 7:07:42, and I’m damn proud of it!

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New Jersey Marathon, 4/25/15

Louisa and I co-paced the 5:10 group this time! My friends and I rented a house on AirBnB and volunteered at the expo the day prior. My dear friend Otto was the pace group coordinator, so I knew many of the returning pacers and it was like a big party!

We had delicious Rook Coffee twice while we were there, and awesome dinner at Gianni’s Pizzeria-they make an amazing chicken risotto soup and the pasta arrabbiata was phenomenal. Rook Coffee had some of the best cold brew I ever had! I will definitely be going back there.

For the actual race, I was suffering a bit, because I had been battling a 2-month cough. It was due to stress and not resting, but no way was I going to miss the race! I’m stubborn like that. Louisa and I stayed on pace for a 5:09:10, but it was one of the hardest pacing gigs I have done, simply because I was under the weather. Hence, we got together for an #ottolamming photo where we collapse, exhausted on our backs. I love my friends!

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The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K (Bear Mountain),  5/2/15

The NFEC 50K is one of my favorite races of the year–I always reach the finish line utterly spent, my friends are celebrating with a beer, and I see some pretty amazing scenery, all in one day. The race director does a fantastic job, and the course is really well-marked. The schwag doesn’t disappoint–we get a nice North Face tech tee with a custom screen print, a pair of SmartWool socks, a medal, a hot meal, and a free post-race beer!

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The weather was amazing this year–last year was supremely muddy and made for really challenging conditions. So glad this year was “easier.” I was still challenged by the course though–my cough from the previous week still didn’t go away so I went slow and steady at the beginning. I was buoyed by seeing my friends volunteering at various aid stations (thanks!) and sped up towards the end. I ended up with a 12-minute course PR! I will take it. Thanks to Ken Tom and his wife for driving me to the race!

Finish time (course PR), 8:37:02

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Photo by Ken Schuh, Ultra Race Photos

Photo by Ken Schuh, Ultra Race Photos

 

My friends and I met ultrarunner Dean Karnazes at the race festival

My friends and I met ultrarunner Dean Karnazes at the race festival

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Photo courtesy of Elaine Acosta

It has been a busy Spring indeed–with plenty more to come. I am signed up for the Ragnar Relay Chicago, the San Francisco Marathon (7/2015), the Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon (10/2015), the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half (10/2015), and I’m pacing the TCS New York City Marathon again! I have to remember to stay healthy and really take care of my body, especially after battling that cough that plagued me for two months. Until next time, and thanks for reading this far!

 

 


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50th marathon milestone and the Chevron Houston Marathon with Skechers!

It has been a crazy winter for everyone in the Northeast–snow upon snow! I’ve had a bunch of life changes recently (all great ones)–so this has been my first post in awhile. I moved from Brooklyn to Queens and I’m loving it, and I recently started a new job! Life is good. Another recent development is that I reached a big milestone–I completed 50 marathons since I started running races in November 2005!

Rewind back to December 20, 2014–my friend and fellow Skechers ambassador Otto Lam put on a low-key, invite-only race called the Bryan Court 100. I was honored to be a part of this invitational ultramarathon–which was 37.2 miles (60K), or 100 loops of a cul-de-sac in New Jersey. Sounds crazy, right? Well it was, but it was also a lot of fun!

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Every lap was .33 miles, and there was an aid station for each lap so I took a lot of eating breaks and bathroom breaks. I knew most of the runners there so it felt like one big party. Thanks to all the volunteers counting laps, and Juergen, Otto and Louisa for hosting!

I ended up placing second female overall, which was a nice surprise! I felt like I ran steadily the whole time–my official time was 8:08 and there were 33 participants total–I was in great company with incredible ultrarunners, so it felt challenging the whole time! The best part of the race was that at the end, finishers and participants received a beautiful buckle designed by Grammi Lee. It’s one award that I will treasure forever!

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My wonderful friends also got me a beautiful chocolate ganache cake with “50” numerical candles on it–I loved it! Thanks Juergen and Otto!! I’m truly lucky to have been surrounded by so many friends.

Chevron Houston Marathon

Fast forward to January 18 when I ran the Chevron Houston Marathon. Thanks to my awesome sponsor Skechers Performance for my race entry and for the opportunity! I had a wonderful AirBnB stay in Houston, and my host even drove me to the start of the race! I highly recommend AirBnB for seasoned travelers, especially if you are only in the area for 1-2 days for a race. I flew in on Saturday afternoon and caught the race expo before closing time. It was a nice expo with a huge Skechers booth selling merchandise, other booths selling race fuel and running gear, and more! I even bought a medal rack (finally) that has the quote “She believed she could, so she did.” I’m in love with it! It’s simple but it’s an inspiring mantra that I try to live by.

Here’s me at the expo:

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I’m rocking the same singlet as the one the elite athletes (like Meb) wear! after the expo, I headed to the Grove for a pre-race cocktail party, courtesy of Skechers. There were passed hors d’ouvres and beverages, mini burgers, cheese plates, and more. I got to meet other Regional Skechers Brand Ambassadors (most from the Houston area), and some really awesome people from Skechers corporate. Most exciting though, was when Meb stopped by the party. He’s already met me a few times, but I always re-introduce myself anyway. He totally remembered me! We chatted a bit about the race, and he was friendly as always. So honored to be on Meb’s team!

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Rooftop deck at the Grove

Rooftop deck at the Grove

Afterward, I got Mexican food at Guadalajara del Centro–not my usual pre-race meal (I prefer Italian), but I don’t regret it at all! The Italian restaurant closest to the expo was all booked up, so I tried Mexican food in Houston for dinner–definitely a must-do! The complimentary chips and salsa were so amazing–the chips were paper-thin, fresh and super crunchy. I got a chicken fajita plate and it was stellar as well. Good night Houston!

Race day

I wore these bad boys to run in:

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They are the Skechers GoRun Ride 4’s. I actually didn’t have much time to break them in, but I wasn’t worried because I’ve run in similar shoe models before. I felt a little nervous pre-race because I was down there by myself, but my AirBnB host said he would be out cheering with some friends! The George Brown Convention Center was race central–you drop off your gear inside and the race ends there as well. It’s massive! Logistically, having the expo, start and finish in the same area is a runner’s dream. I lined up at the start, and in minutes we were off! The race announcer even called out my name!

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The race is really flat, and it runs through pretty much all of Houston, including Rice University (my friend Rob’s alma mater)! The weather was awesome too, so I got super-lucky. I met another Skechers ambassador (from Houston) who gave me a shout-out–he was so friendly but I couldn’t remember his name! That was a cool moment. There were a lot of cafes and shops that we ran by–I always make a mental note to check it out later. There were a lot of people running the Aramco Houston Half-marathon simultaneously, so the course was crowded but not overwhelming.

The aid stations were really well-stocked, and the volunteers were amazing! I tried to thank as many of them as I could. I also ran into Ronald McDonald along the way and HAD to take a picture of him and his red shoe car.

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I also saw cows dressed in costumes that said “Eat more Chik’n” (from Chik-fil-A), so that made me laugh too. There was a ton of entertainment on the course, and I was really amazed at how well-organized everything was.

I crossed the finish line feeling strong in 4:34:08. I was really happy with my result, since it was a brutal winter to train through!

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I also met some really great people in the post-race recovery area, which was stocked with tons of hot food, coffee, chocolate milk (I’m also sponsored by Team Chocolate Milk), ice cream, fruit and more! I met some “streakers” who ran the Houston Marathon for 16 years or more, as well as Cherry from Golden Triangle Strutters, who recognized me from Team Chocolate Milk. Seriously, the post-race area was one of the best I’ve ever seen!

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Final results:

Net time: 4:34:10

Overall place: 3826/7132

Gender Place: 1253, Division Place: 202

Of course, I had to take an #Ottolamming picture for my friend Otto (he always gives his all in every race and collapses in exhaustion):

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People asked me if I was ok, haha. Thanks for a great race, Houston, and thanks to Skechers for the opportunity! Readers–add the Chevron Houston Marathon to your list of must-do’s!

 


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Lululemon SeaWheeze–I run Vancouver!

Hello dear readers–I am back! This year, 2014, has been one of the busiest for me in ages. I have been fortunate enough to attend (and be in) several weddings this season, alternating with race weekends! That is why I have not posted in a while, but fear not, I am getting back on the wagon!

Lululemon SeaWheeze Half, 8/23/14

This summer, I was elated to return to the Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver! I had been looking forward to this trip for months–I love the city of Vancouver, and I couldn’t wait to get my run and yoga on! The race has become increasingly popular– it encountered registration issues in early 2014, and they had to shut down registration and use a new system a week later. Here’s why I love this race:

1) The city of Vancouver has it all: views of the mountains, the sea, the cityscape. Plus, there’s excellent food!

2) Lululemon is based in Vancouver, and the company makes a SeaWheeze-exclusive collection of workout wear and accessories, sold ONLY at the race expo on race weekend.

3) The half marathon is a ton of fun–with great perks and swag for the runners (limited-edition shorts mailed to you, a goody bag, a medal, finisher gift, and a runner’s “brunch” at the finish line)

4) I like meeting other Lululemon enthusiasts, and it’s fun being around other people as excited about the clothes and race as I am!

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I arrived in Vancouver on 8/21, and I was just walking around on Robson Street when I stumbled upon the grand opening party/yoga-fest for the new Lululemon flagship store on Robson! I got to say hello to my friend Dave Mari, and I participated in the yoga class with other Lululemon enthusiasts–the energy was incredible. What a great way to start my trip! I capped it off with a a delicious pasta dinner at Italian Kitchen. Their homemade pasta puttanesca with fresh ricotta is unbelievable.

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The SeaWheeze Showcase Store and my volunteer gig

One of the big draws of doing this race is the schwag, and also the opportunity to purchase exclusive Lululemon product from the SeaWheeze Showcase store. The exclusive designs are not available online and are available only on-site at the SeaWheeze Showcase store during race weekend in Vancouver. Many people line up super early before the store opens at 7am on Friday. I mustered up the energy to wake up at 6:30am and walked from the hostel where I stayed to the convention center. I got to the store at 6:50am and there were already at least 300 people on line in front of me. It was madness! However, the people I was on the line with were pretty chill, and we were all just excited to be there. After about an hour of waiting (there were capacity limits so they let us in slowly), we finally made it into the store. I headed straight towards my size, and luckily there was still a good selection because I got there early.

I was so tempted by everything I saw–this year’s theme was “illusions,” and there were pastels, rainbows, stripes, and chevron patterns–everything was super cute! I told myself I would limit my purchases to no more than 5 items, lest I suffer from buyer’s remorse! I also kept an eye out for my friends, who I was shopping for as well.

Here is some of the merch:

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I ended up getting the awesome black-and-white stripe patterned hoodie above, a pink tank with striped shelf bra for a friend, some socks. a pair of tights with a striped pastel waistband, and a black tank with rainbow bra. They gave us a cute holographic shopping bag as well! Even though I was among the first 400 people to enter the store, the merchandise moved so fast (people bought up to 15 items at a time!) that I didn’t even see certain items (a duffel bag and rainbow futuristic shorts were the hot tickets), but that’s probably for the better, as I wanted to stick to a budget!

I was thrilled to be able to bring back some cute souvenirs that I will definitely be sporting soon! Afterwards, I took a quick lunch break at Japadog, where I got an amazing terimayo hot dog. Then, I got ready for my 5-hour volunteer shift at the expo. Since I was traveling alone, I didn’t mind volunteering as a way to give back to the community. Races depend on volunteers for a successful event, and I wanted to put my time to good use. It also didn’t hurt that we got cute t-shirts as well that said “voluncheer” on them! I helped manage the packet pickup line and was also a “bib finder” to hand out the appropriate packets to the runner. It was a bit tiring being on my feet, but I enjoyed it.

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Race day

Finally, the SeaWheeze Half was here! I was so excited that I had no trouble waking up at the crack of dawn, so I could be ready to go by 6am for the race start at 7am. Bag drop was smooth and the energy in the air was palpable. Many runners were donning the race-supplied shorts or their Lululemon best. I wore my Virgin London Marathon shirt and one of my favorite Lulu colorful skorts.

I just wanted to have fun and enjoy the experience. I didn’t plan on going out fast because I was still recovering from muscle fatigue from my back-to-back ultramarathons in the summer. Plus, I was still feeling a bit jet-lagged. The weather was a perfect and I planned to take photos along the way!

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Just as I remembered, the course was a bit tough. We went over bridges, traversed many neighborhoods like Chinatown, Kitsilano, the Sea wall and Stanley Park. The inclines were the toughest, but there were cheer squads and water stations to keep our spirits up. Lululemon sure knows how to put on a party!

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The views from the Sea Wall were stunning. They even had a “Muscle Beach” cheer zone complete with inflatable dumbbells haha. Very clever! My leg muscles were feeling fatigued from being on my feet all day yesterday. Oh well, it was worth it! I ended up crossing the finish line in a time of 2:14:24. It was not my best, but it was certainly good practice for me to pace towards a 2:15 (my pace assignment for the upcoming Grete’s Great Gallop!) I also took lots of photos and soaked in the scenery. I ran in my Skechers Sonic shoes and they felt great–they absorbed most of the shock of the pavement because it’s a slightly more cushioned shoe. Thanks Skechers for being my sponsor!

The finish line was great–we had bottles of Zico coconut water awaiting us, and also goodies! Saje Wellness was a sponsor, and every runner got a set of runner’s massage oils (they were also available for sale in their store). We were also rewarded with a finisher medal (shaped like a mobius loop and choice of green, blue and purple) AND a sweet Lululemon finisher hat! The schwag we get for this race is neat–this was all in addition to the runner’s Lulu shorts mailed to you, a white messenger bag, and a water bottle. I was one happy gal.

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Finally, I capped off my race day with two unforgettable experiences: going to Capilano Suspension Bridge park and the SeaWheeze Sunset Festival.

I had a massive burger at Logger’s Grill post-race (in the park), and I clambered upon the famously wobbly Capilano Suspension Bridge on my wobbly legs. I also went on the amazing Cliffwalk–a new addition to the park that lets you walk along a cliff face.

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The Sunset Festival featured a performance by Capital Cities, yoga, local food vendors and a beer garden in Stanley Park. I lay on my yoga mat, enjoying the music and a burrito after a day of racing and walking. Thanks for an awesome time, Vancouver and Lululemon! I will be back!

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I’m a Skechers Ambassador! Plus, Miami Half Marathon and Spring fun

Happy Spring, everyone! April brought torrents of rain down upon NYC, and I’m so glad that May is finally here in full force. I have gained a ton of pacing experience for two half-marathons and a full marathon since I last wrote! I have a few race reports to catch up on–April was a busy time for me as I participated in the Faberge Big Egg Hunt NY and ran in several races, including the More/Fitness Women’s Half (paced the 2:15 group), the Scotland Run 10K, and I paced the Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon 5:10 group! In March, my big weekend was running/pacing the NYC Half and running the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon on consecutive days. It was an exhausting schedule, but I am building up to my two goal races of 2014: the Great New York Running Exposition 100-miler in June, and the Superior 100 miler in Minnesota in September.

The Faberge Big Egg Hunt deserves its own post–the city of New York and Faberge hosted a really cool public art project, where anyone with a smartphone and a camera can participate. Artists, architects, designers and schools created/painted 270 eggs that were scattered around NYC for 3 weeks. During the fourth week, the eggs all nested together in Rockefeller Center! It was magical.

I will try and write more later, but I can quickly sum up my last month and a half in photos:

Me and Jackie after successfully pacing the 2:15 group at the NYC Half!

Me and Jackie after successfully pacing the 2:15 group at the NYC Half!

My medals from the Rock 'n' Roll USA Marathon and NYC Half

My medals from the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon and NYC Half

One of the eggs hidden at Laduree Upper East Side. Artist: Isabelle Arpagian, Egg #85

One of the eggs hidden at Laduree Upper East Side. Artist: Isabelle Arpagian, Egg #85

 

Me and Jackie pacing the More Fitness Half

Me and Jackie pacing the More Fitness Half

Where's Waldo egg?

I found Where’s Waldo egg!

Plus, I have some big news…

I am excited to announce that I was recently selected as a Skechers Performance Brand Ambassador! I am so grateful to Julia, my friend, and Giulli, who believed in me and brought me on. I love how Skechers has been supportive of the local running community by signing up club runners as wear testers, and has sponsored some of my favorite races (the More Fitness Half, pacers of the Long Branch Half Marathon and the Run 10 Feed 10)! I am proud to wear their products  and I highly recommend their GoRun Ultras for runners who are looking for a stable marathon training shoe. Thanks, Skechers!

On February (2/2), I had the joy of running the Miami Half Marathon as a brief vacation before I started my new job. I wore the Skechers Nite Owl shoe (similar to the GoRun Ultra in terms of cushioning), and I ran a 2:16:35 in very hot and humid weather. This was only two weeks after I ran the Beast of Burden Winter 50-miler, so I was happy with my time.

Miami was a much-needed vacation for me, plus I treated it like a culinary/running trip. The Super Bowl was being hosted in NYC the same weekend, so I wanted to get away from the madness, then fly back to NYC to watch the game on TV. It was an ambitious plan.

My first stop was at Pubbelly Sushi in Miami Beach. I had wanted to come here two years ago when my friend Rebekah told me about it, and I finally made it! I highly recommend getting their BigEye Tuna Pubbelly roll–it comes with spicy tuna “arroz pegao,” rocotto cream, and sea salt. It was an explosion of flavors, very unique! I dined at the bar and the staff were very friendly.

Pubbelly Sushi in Miami

Pubbelly Sushi in Miami

 

Spicy Tuna Pubbelly Roll

Spicy Tuna Pubbelly Roll

 

Me with my bread pudding and ice cream at Pubbelly Sushi

Me with my bread pudding and ice cream at Pubbelly Sushi

 

As I was carb-loading for my big race (half marathon), I had to eat more, right? I also got the fried clam roll with cole slaw and lemon, plus chocolate bread pudding and ice cream for good measure. I practically had to roll back to my hotel because I was so full, but it was worth it.

The next day, I went to the Miami Half and Marathon expo at the convention center. Before I met up with my friends Kristen and Colleen, I had to stop by a cute bakery called True Loaf Bakery. Folks, if you haven’t seen this bakery yet and you’re visiting Miami–do yourself a favor and GO. It is a hidden gem, seriously. They bake everything fresh daily, and they are known for their breads and chocolate croissants. The owner is very very nice, and you could watch him at work in the open-air kitchen. I saw him applying a glaze to the un-baked croissants and was transfixed. I’m so glad I stopped by!

It looks like a European-style bakery, minimalist and airy, with plenty of baked goods on the shelves. I ordered the special daily bread, which was peach and walnut. It was a massive loaf and felt like it weighed 3 pounds, and I knew I’d have to share it later! I also ordered one of their to-die-for chocolate croissants. It was honestly the best chocolate croissant I have ever had!

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My super fresh, delicious loaf

My super fresh, delicious loaf

I also stopped by later in the day towards closing time to say hello to the owner and tell him how much my friends enjoyed the bread. He sent me home with a parting gift of some more baked goods. It was really sweet! I will definitely visit again next time I’m in town.

Once I picked up my bib, I got pretty excited for the race. I couldn’t believe I was here! I had planned the whole trip in less than a week, and so I was really glad I came.

Me and Colleen at the expo

Me and Colleen at the expo

 

Me and Kristen at Cara Mia

Me and Kristen at Cara Mia

I met up with Kristen and her group of friends, and we dined alfresco at Cara Mia Trattoria in Miami Beach. See? I told you this trip was all about eating. My penne bolognese was on point–very delicious!

Penne bolognese at Cara Mia

Penne bolognese at Cara Mia

After the expo, I relaxed a bit on the beach, then bought some souvenirs, and decided that I would go to Pubbelly Restaurant (sister to Pubbelly Sushi) for dinner. I saw they had ramen on the menu and decided it was a no-brainer to go!

Pubbelly ramen

Pubbelly ramen

The ramen lemongrass broth was very flavorful, and the BBQ pork belly was silky and tender. It was great for carbo-loading! I dined at the bar and spoke to a couple that had just finished the tasting menu. I was still full from lunch, but they raved about the tasting menu and made me promise to order it next time I was there. Duly noted!

I also got some amazing Shortrib and Corn dumplings with black truffle. It was a very unique item on the menu so I had to try it! I highly recommend this dish.

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Finally, I ended the meal with the mason jar for dessert. It was one of the best desserts I have had in recent memory. I can’t even tell you the ingredients, except there was bruleed ice cream on top. Go for it!

Mason jar dessert

Mason jar dessert

Finally, I was done with my epic meal. Before I turned in for the night, I hung out with a mutual friend, Paul from New York. By the time we were done chatting for the night (he was running the marathon), it was already 11am and I had to get up at 4:30am. Oops. Oh well, no one ever sleeps on vacation!

My friend Kyle very kindly drove me to the shuttle the next morning–thanks, Kyle! It was great seeing a familar face before I boarded the bus.

The start of the Miami Half and Full Marathon

The start of the Miami Half and Full Marathon

I am barely awake in my pre-race photos because it was so early. The official start was around 6am, and there were wave starts to space out the runners. This race is always hot–I regretted not bringing a water bottle because we went almost 3 miles until we reached the first aid station! There were about 20,000 people in the race, so it was massive. Note to self–bring a water bottle for the first few miles next time!

The course was beautiful–mostly flat, but very hot and humid. I was so glad I wasn’t doing the marathon this time! I unfortunately had to catch a shuttle ride I had pre-booked to the airport at around 11:45am, so I was in a rush to finish as well as I could!

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There were fun signs along the course, and crowd support in some areas were good. I was so glad that I chose the half marathon, as it was high 80s and humid–very difficult to run in after a freezing cold winter.

My favorite part was running along the causeway and seeing the cruise ships. There were also cute motivational signs and pineapple on the course!

The Miami Marathon and Half always gives great medals year after year. This year’s was a triple spinner medal! I crossed the finish line in 2:16:35. It wasn’t my best time, but after a 50-miler I will take it!

Finish stats:

Net time: 2:16:35

Overall place: 6045/15458

Gender: 2243/7872

Age: 367/1135

Thank you to Got Chocolate Milk and Skechers for sponsoring me, and see you on a run somewhere fabulous soon!

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A Windy and Wild Beast of Burden Winter 50

We have had a heck of a winter here in NY this year! Maybe it’s because the last two winters here have been pretty mild, but this year’s polar vortex weather was rough for many runners. As I’m writing this, it is already spring, and I am so glad to be looking forward to the spring and summer (ultra) running season! I’m proud to say that this winter has been productive training-wise. I was inspired to sign up for the notoriously cold and snowy Beast of Burden Winter 50 in January, in no small part due to Shane and his crazy ultramarathons in the snow, but also due to my friends Otto, Violet, and Joe who were running the Winter 100.

First, some background about the race–the Beast of Burden has both a Summer and Winter version, and the Summer 100 was where I completed my first 100 miler back in August 2012. I had only great memories (it’s amazing how I can’t recall the pain) of the awesome people I met in Lockport, dedicated volunteers, and my friends Jim and Beth who hosted us for the weekend. If you do both the Winter 100 and the Summer 100 in the same calendar year, you get a Double Beast Buckle. See? I told you this race was crazy.

Our adventure began on 1/17, when Ken drove me and Violet up to Lockport, stopping at Rolando’s Diner in Binghamton for lunch.

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The place had prices from the 1970’s–seriously, eggs for like $3.50 or something ridiculous. The city itself was a bit gray and depressing–we enjoyed our omelets and were on our way.

We arrive at Lockport after a 7 hour drive from the city–thanks so much to Ken and Kino who were our crew/pacers for the weekend! We met up with some folks at DeFlippo’s, an awesome Italian restaurant/bar where most runners carbo-load before the race. I reunited with Jim and Beth, and also Andy Thomson, who was my compatriot during our first Summer 100 together. We had a large contingent from NYC: Kat and I were running the 50, and Otto (from NJ), Joe and Violet were running the 100. I was feeling nervous–I hate being cold and I was starting to question how I was going to stay warm through 12+ hours of running. I had a very reasonable starting goal of sub-15 hours, since I usually am not in the best shape in January (I blame the holidays), and I was going through all sorts of stress that didn’t enable me to train well in December. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to make my goal even better, and I aimed for sub-13 hours. I made sure to eat lots of pasta, mozzarella sticks and garlic bread so I would have appropriate fuel!

The gang at DeFlippo's

The gang at DeFlippo’s

Several of my friends and I stayed at the Pease’s place, where I settled in comfortably for the night, packed my drop bags, and got a good nights’ sleep. I was ready for my adventure!

Some of the special gear I ended up using for this race included:

1) A Cold Avenger  classic fleece face protector. It it sort of like a balaclava for the lower half of your face, with a plastic cup that had vents for breathing. I don’t look nice with it on. In fact, I look like Bane or Darth Vader. This thing saved me though–I highly recommend using a Cold Avenger on your runs of 25F or colder! It’s really important to protect your face from windburn.

Me with a Cold Avenger on during BoB50

Me with a Cold Avenger on during BoB50

2) I used an Ultimate Direction hydration belt that I got from outdoor gear discount retailer TheClymb.com. I had heard good things about their water bottles, and I was not disappointed. It was ergonomic and had a special nozzle that prevented leakage, plus the belt itself didn’t bounce much during my run.

3) The usual GU energy gels, Vi Fuel (vegan gel), SaltStick salt tablets, and granola bars for sustenance

4) I also packed 3 different jackets/windbreakers, including a ski jacket for waiting around at the finish line. Layers were key, since the weather was expected to be 17F!

5) I brought Yaktrax snow spikes for traction, just in case there was snow on the ground.

6) Grabber Hand warmers–I put them in my gloves so my hands would stay warmer longer

7) I wore my trusty Skechers Nite Owl running shoes–I had broken them in the few weeks before, plus they were quite comfortable. They also glowed in the dark! (at least for a few hours)

Race day, 1/18

Ken drove us to the race, but before we did all that, we took a pre-race photo in front of Jim and Beth’s home:

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We were ready to get this show on the road! The start line at Wide Water’s Marina was only a 10-minute drive away, with plenty of parking. It was abuzz with activity as people picked up their race bibs and goodie bags. I must say, the goodie bag for this race was awesome–all runners got a white hooded sweatshirt with the badass race logo on it, plus a fuzzy Buffalo horn hat and fuzzy brown mittens. I can attest to the fact that the hat and mittens were super warm and made me feel awesome at the start.

Lisa at the start of the Winter 50

Lisa at the start of the Winter 50

The runners gathered at 9:50am for a brief pre-race meeting, where the mayor of Lockport made a few remarks and wished us luck, and we learned that the conditions on the course were snowy (1-2 inches) but not too bad. The race directors, Bob and Ken, introduced everyone to Sam Pasceri, who was the founder of this race and had come to see us off. Sam is an awesome athlete and his wife, Ginny, is an all-star volunteer and supporter!

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Start: 1 to 12.5 miles

At 10am, we were off! It was pretty cold, but not windy yet so it wasn’t bad. I was looking forward to seeing Kino and Ken at Mile 7 (Gasport aid station), where they would be volunteering for a bit before crewing and then pacing Violet. I ran with my Yaktrax and immediately regretted my decision, as they were useless on very light snow (1 inch, no ice). I ran a little bit slower due to the friction of the spikes on the ground, but I was relieved that I could hand them off to Ken since he was volunteering. The towpath was beautiful. The snow served a purpose–it made everything look prettier. I felt great when I hit the first aid station. There was Heed, pretzels, M&Ms and some other snacks. I made it quick, said hi to Kino and Ken, and headed out.

The next 5 miles before the turnaround at mile 12.5 (Middleport Aid station) always felt long. I started seeing some of the faster runners (like Joe!) turning back, and the early miles are nice because people are still happy and smiling. My body felt good, although it felt a bit weird to run with so many layers on (3 layers, with merino wool IceBreaker baselayer), a hydration belt, PLUS a Nathan hydration vest. I kept my hat and gloves on at all times.

Miles 12.6 to 25

I started incorporating walking breaks early. I still felt fresh, but I didn’t want to crash and burn, so I walked for 2-3 minutes for every 30 minutes I ran. I made sure to eat real food (PB&J, fruit, chips, granola bars and more), drink soup at aid stations, and drink lots of water. However, once it got to mile 16 or so, I started encountering a problem. The hydration pack in my Nathan hydration vest had a frozen tube and nozzle! Uh-oh. That meant I couldn’t properly access my water, unless I tried to drink from opening of the pack as if I was pouring a Ziploc bag of H2O into my mouth. That wasn’t good!

I was really glad I brought a back-up water bottle! It was around 20F most of the time, but at night it dropped to around 17F. It doesn’t take a genius to know that water will freeze. Luckily, the aid stations had heaters (the Middleport one was indoors, but the Gasport one was tented and had heaters) and great volunteers that would use hot water to try and defrost bottles. I drank from my Ultimate Direction water bottle normally at first, but then, I couldn’t suck the water out from the nozzle because a frozen ring had formed UNDER the cap. Crazy! I had to use my frozen hands to unscrew the bottle to drink from it. It didn’t seem like a big deal now, but the later it got in the race, the more difficult this became.

Another thing that drove me crazy was that my nose started running almost non-stop from mile 10 onward. It was super annoying, and it was just due to the cold.

I think my first 25 mile split was around 5:30, which was perfect.

 Miles 26-50

There were a lot of talented runners in this race–I felt cold, my face started burning from the wind, but some of the lead runners appeared to be unfazed by the elements. On the out-and-back portion, people were still smiling and yelling words of encouragement. I made sure to cheer especially loudly for the 100-mile runners and of course, my friends. I saw everybody–Otto, Joe, Violet, Kat….it was great.

The wind really picked up both times I came from Middleport (mile 12.5 and 37.5) back towards the start, just the way it was blowing. I had to close my eyes or throw on my sunglasses certain times because the wind was so horrible. I later learned that it was 20-30 mph winds for the 50 mile runners, and the 100-miler sustained 40-50 mph winds!! Imagine running a 50 mile race and an invisible hand is trying to push you back. That’s exactly what the wind felt like. Just brutal!!

The things that really lifted my spirits were:

1) Seeing Beth, Ken, and Kino at the aid stations

2) Hot lentil soup or chicken broth. There are no words for how heavenly this is in 17F.

3) Seeing the wooden pirate ship/slide that was next to the towpath.

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I was passing all the familiar landmarks, and I remember passing the bridges and a paper mill. It was dark and I had a headlamp at this point–I knew I was going to reach my goal of sub-13! My legs were getting tired, my nose was still running, and frankly I was ready to be done. It was one of the toughest races I have done in recent memory just due to being in the elements for a long time. I had a ton of respect for the 100-mile winter runners.

I approached the finish line and it was pretty quiet. The finish line was moved inside the tent because the awesome volunteers needed to stay warm. That was just fine by me! Who wouldn’t want to finish an ultra in a warm tent??

I crossed the finish in 12:40:05, and the race directors hung the medal around my neck. I was so so cold, and my first priority was warming up, then pictures next. There were chairs set up, a torpedo heater, and a table full of food to help the runners recover. The medal was pretty sweet!

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Ken was in the tent–he was helping Kat, who had finished earlier, and he handed me a bowl of mac and cheese.

It was the best post-race mac and cheese I have ever tasted. My life was complete.

I wanted to give a huge thank you to Ken and Kino for staying up pretty much all night to crew and volunteer for us. Also, big thanks to Beth and Jim for volunteering and hosting us. Thank you to Skechers Performance for sponsoring my footwear, and Team Refuel/Got Chocolate Milk? for my race gear and support! Finally, thanks to the race directors and ALL the volunteers for putting on a fantastic event.

After my race

Pretty soon after I finished, ate a bit of food, and defrosted, I got a ride back to the Pease’s place and took at 5-hour nap. I was determined to see my friends Otto, Ellen, and Violet finish their 100-milers (amazingly fast Joe finished around 4am for 2nd place overall). I saw Otto come through, and I saw Ellen, but I missed Violet heading out for her last loop.

I took a brief lunch break to see my cousin Heidi, who lived in the area with her husband. We got lunch at Panera and some coffee, and I finally ate real food. Yummy!

After all of that, I got to see Otto finish, and I got to see Violet finish her first 100-miler ever. It was pretty emotional seeing Violet at mile 98; I had a vantage point from the marina across the canal and I could see Ken and Kino coaxing her along and trying to block the wind. The wind had picked up to 40-50mph, and they even had to take the finish line tent down and move everything inside the public restroom building. It was insane!

It was amazing getting to see a bunch of 100-miler runners finish. I will never forget seeing everyone huddled outside the finish line, eyes squinting in the horizontal snow blowing across the canal, just to holler and cheer as Violet crossed the finish line with Kino and Ken behind her. The camaraderie and warmth amongst ultrarunners is a huge part of why I choose to do these things. When I think of the Beast of Burden Winter 50, I will not think so much about the cold, and the wind…what I will think about is how I spent an unforgettable weekend with a team of runners who will do anything for each other.

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I love NYC

Pardon my gap between posts, dear readers. I’m excited to announce that I started a new job two weeks ago! I’m starting a new career in advertising, and I feel really blessed to have this opportunity. The year 2014 is off to a great start! I mostly set my race calendar for 2012 and it’s quite packed, with 28 more upcoming races. I am planning to run in mostly local races this year, with a few exceptions. I am signed up for the Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver, and I plan to run in a few 100-mile races this year!

So what have I been up to the past 2 months? I raced three half marathons in 4 weeks, with a 50-miler thrown in the middle. On January 4th, I ran the Watchung Trail half marathon in New Jersey, my coldest race ever at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. It was my personal worst for a trail half at 3:41:00, but I was so proud to just finish, as the blood was freezing in my veins and it took me forever to warm-up afterwards.

Jackie, Shane and me at the Watchung Trail Half

Jackie, Shane and me at the Watchung Trail Half

It was a tune-up for my next race on January 18, the Beast of Burden Winter 50 in Lockport, NY. I went up with an amazing group of friends: Ken, Violet, Otto, Violet, Kat, Joe, and Kino as crew and pacer. Beth and Jim Pease hosted us once again in their lovely home, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had racing 50 miles in 17F weather! I finished in a time of 12:40:05, utterly spent but motivated to cheer on my friends running the 100-miler. That race will have its own recap in my next post.

As if that wasn’t enough, I ran the Fred Lebow Half Marathon a week later as a training run on exhausted legs. It was also freezing, but I managed to finish in 2:14:47. This is actually good, because I just got the wonderful news that I will be pacing the New York City Half on 3/17/14 for the 2:15 group! I am so excited to pace this group with my wonderful friend Jackie Choi. Can’t wait! The winter of early 2014 will henceforth be known as the “polar vortex,” one of the snowiest and coldest winters I have experienced in a while. As a last hurrah before I started my new job, I treated myself to a getaway to Miami, FL, to run the Miami Half Marathon! I had a wonderful time recharging my batteries, eating great food, and seeing friends like Colleen, Kristen and Paul. Full recap to come in the next two weeks.

ING NYC Marathon

I had been aching to write a race report for two of my favorite New York City races: the ING New York City Marathon (held on 11/3/13) and the NYRR 60K (formerly the Knickerbocker 60K, held on 11/16/13). I would have felt like a bad New Yorker if I didn’t even mention these two races on my blog, even though they happened months ago.

I had been waiting for 11/3/13 for a long, long, time. I had the honor of working the marathon in the years 2010 and 2011, but wasn’t allowed to run while working. I realized I really missed running the ING NYC Marathon, so I jumped at the chance to run it in 2013. I ran it in memory of my friend, Rob Petrocelli, who we had lost in 2013. It made the race even more meaningful. I had an amazing day.

I ran into my Hawaiian friend Harvey Nakasone on the SI Ferry (total serendipity)! I also saw my good friends Juergen and Michele at the start, and we gave each other our good wishes. We warmed up with awesome Dunkin’ Donuts fleece hats at the start village. I was in the green start, wave 2, same as Michele! My sister Amy and my cousin Anthony were able to see me on the course. Amy caught me at Williamsburg (mile 12), and Anthony had an unplanned sighting of me at mile 26, because he was volunteering!

I saw Shane cheering me at Mile 13.1, and he gave me a pack of peanut butter M&Ms to keep me going, haha.

Lisa at mile 12, Williamsburg

Lisa at mile 12, Williamsburg

My legs were tired from running a 1:55 half marathon in LA the week before, but mentally I felt strong and I was just having an amazing time. I saw so many friends on the course–Otto’s 4:00 pace group passed me and I said hey, and so many Whippets were cheering in Harlem and Manhattan.

The mood was so festive…a dramatic difference from the somber mood after the 2012 marathon cancellation. The NYC Marathon was back with a vengeance! I felt blessed to be running in my beloved city again, basking in all the cheers as if I were a celebrity.

I couldn’t wait to get to the finish and see my friend Juergen (who was also finishing in the Team for Kids area), and to reunite with my mom and Shane. This year, we also had orange ponchos to look forward to in addition to the medal at the finish line. The weather was crisp and clear (about 55F) and I was running so close to my goal time of 4:30! I managed to finish in 4:33:14, but I was happy anyway. Although I was a tiny bit short of my goal, I had set a course PR! My previous course best was 4:52 way back in 2009. I had come a long way since then.

Lisa at the finish of the NYC Marathon

Lisa at the finish of the NYC Marathon

Thank you to all my friends and family for your cheers and support!

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As if finishing the ING NYC Marathon wasn’t reward enough, a few days later, I entered a contest through Erica Sara Designs…and I won! Erica Sara Designs makes gorgeous custom jewelry, and a lot of their bling is race-inspired. I already had a necklace and a pair of earrings from her that I wear all the time, so this was a real treat. I opted to have the ING NYC Marathon logo engraved on it, along with my finish time and blog name on the back. This is very similar to the elite athlete gifts that her company was commissioned to do for NYRR. Thank you so much, Erica Sara!

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NYRR 60K

Last but not least, two weeks after the ING NYC Marathon (just as my legs were starting to forgive me), I ran the NYC 60K. It was formerly known as the Knickerbocker 60K, and it had been my first ultramarathon in 2010. It is somewhat masochistic to run 37.2 miles completely in Central Park, but it’s so easy for friends to cheer you on, and the camaraderie is great, so for me it was a no-brainer to do it. I had wanted to do better than the 7:05 that I ran in 2010, but I had to wait and see how my body felt.

My friends Daniela, Claudia and Violet helped pace me, as well as Violet’s amazingly energetic Pomeranian, Jet. Violet & Jet ended up running 8 miles with me! Thank you to my dear pacers!

Violet and Jet pacing me

Violet and Jet pacing me

I was so grateful for their company, as things were starting to get a bit mind-numbing after 4 laps.

My friends Henry and Ken were running this as their first ultra, so I was rooting for them as well.

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credit: OhSnapper photography

After 9 laps, I crossed the finish line in 7:15:28! It capped off a long racing season for me, so I was proud. My legs weren’t so happy with me, but once I had my recovery meal at Shake Shack, the pain was mostly forgotten. Mom and Shane were at the finish line, as were my friends Michelle, Christine, Lisa and Gary (from Lockport, who also ran), Annette, Beth, and a ton of other Whippets. Sky and Tommy, my teammates, had podium finishes–Sky came in 2nd for women and Tommy was 3rd man overall. So glad to have run this race with so many of my dear friends!


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West Coast fun: Rock ‘n’ Roll Halloween Half in LA

Happy new year to all! The end of 2013 was so full of activity that I am still processing it all. I am proud to say that I completed 34 races in 2013 and traveled to some pretty incredible places–London, Utah, California, and Florida. Speaking of California, I’m finally getting around to recap my trip to Los Angeles at the end of October. It was meant to be a “real” vacation for me–I joke that I usually don’t get any rest on my vacations because it’s usually centered around a race. Back in April 2013, I found an amazing flight deal to California for $199 round trip on Virgin America Airlines. They had a new route from Newark to LA and San Francisco, hence the jaw-dropping prices. I invited Shane to come with me, and my lovely friends Amy and Ben hosted us in Santa Monica.

We had a pretty full itinerary from the start, but we had three main goals:

1) Run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Halloween Half Marathon in LA (Thanks Team Refuel!)

2) Eat our way through Southern California and document everything

3) Road trip to San Diego to check out the zoo, Coronado, and Glorietta Bay Beach

Running on Glorietta Bay, California

Running on Glorietta Bay, California

For six glorious days, we pondered delicious burgers at Father’s Office , Umami Burger and In-n-Out. We added extra duck fat to our noodles at Daikokuya Ramen. We sampled fine brews at Elabrew Coffee, Primo Passo, and Demitasse. We ate brunch at Manhattan Beach Post and slurped ice cream at Sweet Rose Creamery. Finally, we had delicious seafood sandwiches at Supernatural Sandwiches in San Diego. I was almost glad that our vacation was only six days or else I would go broke from uncontrollable food-buying.

Here were my top 5 things that I ate on my trip to LA/San Diego:
1) Chimichanga at Manhattan Beach Post–deep fried deliciousness in a crispy wrap

2) The Neptune at Supernatural Sandwiches: (from their website) “Sauteed sweet local scallops, Crispy Smoked Bacon, buttery toasted bun, zesty enchanted sauce, spicy pyro aioli and fresh local greens”

3) Pumpkin Pie sundae at Sweet Rose Creamery: it came with a marshmallow ghost!

4) Shoyu Ramen at Daikokuya Ramen- get it “cotariu-style,” or with extra duck fat

5) The mocha at Elabrew Coffee–it was so good that we drove there twice in two days for coffee!

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In between all of this, we went sight-seeing at the Getty Villa and San Diego Zoo. I did a lot of walking around on the Santa Monica Promenade. The Getty Villa was a gorgeous museum of classical art–pretty much all of them are archaeological finds.

The San Diego Zoo was pricey but a must-see if you’re in the area. You get to see koalas, rhinos, and pandas all in one place! Shane and I also saw flamingos, giraffes, hippos, and Tasmanian devils. It’s $40 for admission, but the zoo is one of the best in the world and it’s well-maintained.

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The Rock ‘n’ Roll Halloween Half Marathon

The race was on 10/27 and it was going to be a massive race. There was a half marathon and also a “mini marathon” or 5K fun run. I was excited because it was my second West Coast half!

It was drizzling at the start, but luckily it mostly cleared up by the start except for some mist. I was aiming for under 1:59, but I needed to save my legs for the ING New York City Marathon the following week. I met up with my Team Refuel teammates Jeremy and Dani, and we wished each other luck! We had a special indoor VIP area at The Farm at LA Live, a nice little restaurant right near the start! They had breakfast items and coffee for us, yum! I grabbed a scrambled egg wrap and took a bite pre-race. It wasn’t my traditional breakfast but it was delicious!

The race started at LA Live, also known as the Staples Center. It was Shane’s first official half-marathon (although he had done marathons and ultramarathons before), so he was going to run a personal best no matter what. The race was pretty flat, except for a bridge on the course in the later half. There were cheer squads and lots of spectators to keep us motivated.

I paced my race pretty well, and managed to have fun along the way! I crossed the finish line in 1:55:11 with a jump and a smile on my face. It was great seeing all the costumes on the course! I drank chocolate milk after the race and felt great. I gave it my best effort in California and still managed to sightsee afterwards. Here were my results:

Net time: 1:55:11

Overall: 1169/7478

Gender: 285/4349

Division: 65/820

I’d say that I earned the right to eat all that food. Thanks, Team Refuel, for the opportunity to race! Also, thanks to Amy and Ben for being awesome hosts on this trip. See you later, California!

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