Lisa Runs on Ramen

— running 26.2 and having foodie adventures too!


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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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Windy Atlantic City Marathon, the 1st Cupcake Run and Giveaway Winner!

Is it really December already?? I had such a busy fall race season that I have barely had time to process the fact that I have run 2 marathons, a half-marathon and an ultra in only 2 months. Fall is my favorite time of year for running, because there are so many fun races to choose from!

In the spirit of giving during the holiday season, I am pleased to announce the winner of the first Runs on Ramen/Porcupine Product giveaway. The lucky winner of the two tickets to the “In the High Country” NYC premiere on 12/17 is:

Jessica W. from New York, NY! Congratulations!!

Thanks to all the participants for entering! Remember, tickets are still available for purchase here or at the Symphony Space box office.

Now, onto what’s been keeping me busy in the fall…

The Atlantic City Marathon

On Sunday, 10/13/13, I ran the Atlantic City Marathon. I had signed up for it almost a year in advance because of an amazing deal that I found on a deal site named Schwaggle.com. Ironically, the site doesn’t exist anymore (it was run by Active.com), but I was able to redeem my voucher for a $32 Atlantic City Marathon entry. Sweet! I was looking forward to finally checking off New Jersey on my 50-states marathon list. I had just run the Brooklyn 10K at hard effort the day before, worked, then hopped on a bus. My Marathon Maniac friends Sandy and Scot were kind enough to pick up my race packet, making it possible for me to do this race. Thanks Sandy and Scot!

Scot, me, and Sandy channeling Miss America at the Sheraton Hotel in Atlantic City

Scot, me, and Sandy channeling Miss America at the Sheraton Hotel in Atlantic City

The Sheraton had a great display of historical Miss America pageant artifacts. There were gowns, crowns, scepters, trophies, and even a statue! The statue, Bert Parks, was of the original Master of Ceremonies of the Miss America pageant, and Scot and Sandy urged me to stand under the crown held in the statue’s hands. The picture says it all. The tune of “Here she is…Miss America” started playing when I stood under the crown! It was magical.

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I stayed at the Sheraton just a short walk from the start line. The half-marathon and marathon starts were at the same time, and runners lined up excitedly on the boardwalk in front of Bally’s Casino. It was gray and windy, but at least the drizzling rain stopped before the race went off.

Start of the Atlantic City Marathon

Start of the Atlantic City Marathon

I wore my Team Refuel jacket and it kept me warm through the crazy winds coming up over the boardwalk. The race started and we ran through some back highways to various casinos, such as Harrah’s and the Borgata. The weather was not that cold, fortunately, but it was windy practically the whole time. It was one of the most challenging weather conditions I ever ran in; since we were next to the beach most of the time, sand blew into my eyes and my mouth whenever I took a breath. I used my hands to cover my face at times!

The volunteers were so cheery and fantastic. It must have been miserable for them to stand in that wind for hours on end, but they were so encouraging to all the runners. There were high school students and also senior citizens volunteering. Young and old alike, they encouraged us on a day that I really needed it!

I had initially wanted to run a 4:45, but the challenging  conditions made a sub-5:00 hour marathon more reasonable. With my hand over my mouth at times (to keep the sand out) and my eyes squinting from the sun and the sand, I managed to finish in 4:55:23.

Here were my results:

Net time: 4:55:23

Overall place: 609/825

Gender: 260/369 females

It was definitely a result to be proud of in tough windy (25mph wind) conditions. At the finish line, I congratulated my Dashing Whippets teammate Simon on his race, and we took a photo together.

The post-race festival was pretty nice, and it had some good non-traditional post-race food. There were bagels, bananas, Honest Tea, but also clam chowder from a local restaurant, beer, and even kettle corn! My favorite was actually the clam chowder–it sounds weird, but I love soups after a race!

A friend and I went to the Borgata buffet to celebrate afterward, and it was awesome. I piled on the soup, meat, pasta, and gelato afterward.

Then, it was a long bus ride back to the city. I met up with Heather and Shane for a delicious post-race dinner at Mission Chinese Food on the Lower East Side. We ordered Egg Egg Noodles, some pork fried rice, veggies, and my favorite, the Thrice-Cooked Bacon. It is a fiery dish and I had it almost a year ago so I was due for a repeat! It was an amazing dinner. Thanks for celebrating with me, Heather and Shane!

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The NYC Cupcake Run

On Saturday, October 19, I ran the first-ever NYC Cupcake Run! I signed up for it on a whim, but I had competed in the 2011 NYC Pizza Run and enjoyed myself. It was put on by the same organizer, Jason, who runs the blog I Dream of Pizza . Personally, I also wanted to have a cool Cupcake Run t-shirt, so that was another incentive. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw my friends Fanny and Henry running too! It was held in Astoria Park and the distance was 5k. So how do you run a cupcake race?

The rules were simple:

1) You must eat 3 cupcakes at designated spots on the course (1 per stop).

2) You are allowed a bottle of water, but you must consume the entire cupcake (you can still be chewing) before you leave the station.

3) Have fun!

There were prizes for the top finishers and each participant got a cupcake goody bag, access to the after party at Rocky McBride’s, and a t-shirt. The race sold out early so I was lucky to have registered early.

Shane came with me to the race and did a workout and took some pictures while I ran/ate. It was my first time in Astoria Park (Queens) and I was pleasantly surprised by the nice river views. There was an informal pre-race meeting held by Jason, and then we were off! I lined up near the front because I wanted to be somewhat competitive (it’s the ultrarunner in me).

Lisa at the NYC Cupcake Run (Courtesy of Jason Feirman)

Lisa at the NYC Cupcake Run (Courtesy of Jason Feirman)

We came to the first cupcake and it was vanilla cake with vanilla icing. Yummy! I gobbled the cupcake in four bites and washed it down with water. This wasn’t so bad!

I ran hard the whole time and encouraged Fanny and Henry whenever I saw them. We kind of smiled and nodded at each other at the absurdity of what we were doing. The second station was a red velvet cupcake. The cupcakes were from Sweets First, and I’m sure they would have been delicious in normal circumstances (not during the race) but the red velvet flavor made me want to hurl when I tried to eat too fast.

I drank water and ran while I still had bites of cupcake in my mouth and moved on. Finally, the third station had a S’mores cupcake with marshmallow topping. This was one of my favorites. It was getting down to the wire and I could hear the spectators cheering loudly. I was almost done!

I crossed the finish line in 25:51:00, in 13th place out of 145 eventual finishers. I was so glad to be done. I drank water and really wanted a stick of gum to get the taste of three cupcake flavors out of my mouth. It was cool once I realized that I just set a PR (personal record) for a cupcake run!

I saw a guy running in a birthday hat, and we chatted at the race finish. Turns out, it was his real birthday, and he had placed second! It was well-deserved–a cupcake 5k is pretty tough. I’m proud to wear my hard-earned finisher shirt. Thanks to Jason and all the sponsors for putting on a really fun, unique race. I’ll be back!

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*Giveaway* Enter to win two tickets to the NYC Premiere of “In the High Country” with Anton Krupicka!

I am thrilled to announce the first giveaway on my blog: a pair of “Speedgoat 50K” level tickets to the NYC Premiere of “In the High Country” with champion mountain ultra runner Anton Krupicka! Director Joel Wolpert will be there, and you will get a chance to meet both Anton and Joel! Anton is a two-time winner of the Leadville 100-mile race, the Rocky Raccoon 100-miler, and placed second at the Western States Endurance Run in 2010 in what would have been a course record of 15:13:53

Prize courtesy of Will at Porcupine Product. Many thanks!

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What the winner will get:

– Two “Speedgoat 50K” level tickets to the 12/17/13 NYC Premiere of “In the High Country” at Symphony Space

– A schwag bag for each attendee with great items from sponsors

– Access to the after-party,

featuring food from local chefs and craft beer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To purchase tickets:

http://www.symphonyspace.org/event/8230/Film/in-the-high-country–nyc-premiere-showing

How to enter:

You will gain one entry point (up to a maximum of 6 entry points) by doing the following and listing in the comments the points you have earned. You do not have to complete all 6 steps–you just have to do at least one to be entered! The more points you have, the more chances you have to win!

1) Follow @lisaminc on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lisaminc (1 point)

2) Follow @Porcupine_Prod on Twitter: https://twitter.com/porcupine_prod (1 point)

3) “Follow” or subscribe to this blog (click “Follow” on lower right hand corner and enter your email). (1 point)

4) “Like” Porcupine Product on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/porcupineproduct (1 point)

5) Answer the following question in the comments: If you could run anywhere with Anton (location or race), where would it be? (1 point)

6) Tweet: “Only 1wk until #AntonKrupicka comes to NYC for In the High Country! Don’t get sold out! http://bit.ly/1bACpMN  @Porcupine_Prod @lisaminc ” (1 point)

BE SURE to list what you have done in the comments so I can give you credit! Winner will be chosen by a random number generator on Random.org. Share this giveaway with your friends!

Be sure to check your email and this blog at 8:00pm on Sunday, 12/15/13 to see if you won! Good luck and thanks for participating!

Rules and fine print:

Winner will be chosen at 8:00pm on Sunday, 12/15/13 and will be notified by email and announced on this blog. Winner must claim prize via email by 12:00pm on 12/16/13 or an alternate winner will be selected. Must be 21+ to attend the after party. No substitutions/mailing of prizes. Prize must be claimed at the Symphony Space box office in NYC on 12/17/13. Winner must be available to attend the event on 12/17/13 at 8:00pm or an alternate winner will be chosen. Airfare/travel/accommodations not included. Approximate retail value of prizes (ARV): $84.


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Rocking the Ragnar DC and RnR Brooklyn 10K

October was a pretty intense but fun month of running after my Bear 100 experience. I’m happy to say that I managed to run a relay race and a 10K amidst my ultramarathon adventures! I would hate to lose all my speed, so doing shorter races keeps me on my toes.

My friend Diane invited me to be a part of her Ragnar Relay DC team for the third year, and I was happy to be part of Van 1 once again! I made my way down to DC on late Thursday, then it was up bright and early on Friday, October 4th to run in the relay! Our name was Team A.M.O.R.E. (A Mismatch of Running Enthusiasts), and we were determined to defend our title of Best Decorated Van for the 3rd year in a row! Led by captain Diane, we decorated every inch of our van with funny caricatures and quotes.

Van 1 of Team A.M.O.R.E

Van 1 of Team A.M.O.R.E

The relay went from Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC and teams had 36 hours to finish. This year was interesting, because three legs were eliminated due to the government shutdown (since the 3 relay legs ran through federal land)! What a bummer! I was just glad that the relay wasn’t cancelled entirely. There were a lot of funny signs, such as one that said “You run better than our government.” I ran 3 legs totaling about 15.8 miles, and this year I had the pleasure of running the toughest leg, a dusty 7.8 miles that had a total elevation gain of 1247 ft and elevation loss of 1024 ft! It was a doozy for my sore legs that ran 61 miles a mere 6 days before, but my cheering teammates pulled me through. I think I ran it in 1:24 or so, slower than expected but not bad.

At the end of the leg, a surprise was waiting for us: each leg 3 runner got a belt buckle award! It was a nice touch and I will sport mine proudly. The weather was very warm for this relay–it was high 80s and humid, and some parts the heat index reached 99F! It was very unusual for October.

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My favorite part of the race is always the South Mountain Creamery, which stays open in the wee hours of the night to welcome runners with ice cold chocolate milk and a full dairy bar and BBQ for sale. Yum!! I got the raspberry ice cream and a nice half-gallon of chocolate milk in a glass jug. I kept it in our cooler as my recovery beverage. Delicious! I sported my Team Refuel gear throughout the race too.

Our team made it through in 180th place out of 291 teams. For us, it’s not about time but the camaraderie, and we still did well! Our time was 29:24:36 after accounting for driving time through the legs that were eliminated, and this year our relay was a bit shorter than 170 miles, approximately.

I wanted to thank my teammates and our lovely volunteers (Pearl, Art and Larry) for making this relay possible! Also, special thanks to Diane for being super organized and for putting a lot of legwork into our team!

It was really special finishing together in National Harbor in DC. We also found out a few days later that we won for Best Decorated Van for the third year in a row! Go Team A.M.O.R.E.!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn 10K

The following weekend after the Ragnar DC, I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn 10K on behalf of Team Refuel! It was awesome to race with my teammates Anthony and Dani, and we wished each other luck at the start. I also got a chance to run with Diane, Deb and their friend Lauren who came up from Virginia. The night before, we had a carbo-loading dinner at Ganso Ramen in Brooklyn. They had a solid Pork Tonkotsu ramen and delicious green tea matcha ice cream. It’s a hidden gem in a neighborhood not usually known for ethnic food!

I went to the race expo two days before at the Metropolitan Pavilion and had a lot of fun. I got some freebies, took a photo in the photo booth, and picked up my VIP wristband. Thanks Team Refuel for the VIP treatment! The Metropolitan Pavilion was a good venue for packet pick-up, but it was indoors only for one day. I heard from Diane that on Friday (second day), the expo was outdoors and most vendors were not present, just the registration tables. Maybe this is something they can improve for next year.

On race day, I met up with my team at the VIP tent at the Nethermead in Prospect Park. It was very convenient to get there and there were lots of excited runners milling about. The VIP tent had catered food, tables and chairs, magazines, a bar for post-race, and separate bathrooms. Sweet! At 7:30am, the race started and I was feeling good despite all the racing I’ve done the past two weeks. I decided to push the pace as we ran by Grand Army Plaza, and my body responded well to it.

I knew I wasn’t going to PR (my PR is 49:55), but I was aiming for sub-53:00. I had to actually run the Atlantic City Marathon the following day, so I left some energy in the tank! I finished in a time of 52:52, which was good for top 8.5% of females overall! Here were my stats:

Finish time: 52:52 (8:31 pace)

Overall: 692/4135,   Gender: 232/2731,  Age: 79/702

I got a photo with the Nesquik bunny and recovered with some chocolate milk and croissants. It was a great race! Thank you Team Refuel for sponsoring me! After that, it was off to work, then onto a bus to New Jersey for the Atlantic City Marathon! Stay tuned for a post about my run along the boardwalk!


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Ganso Ramen

Ganso Ramen


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Bear 100 in the dark (part 2)

(This is a continuation of my Bear 100 adventure in Utah on 9/27/13. Part 1 is here)

As darkness set in during the Bear 100, the temperature dropped to low 30s, then 20s (I was told). I was still feeling ok, but my body started shivering to keep warm. I hadn’t run an ultra through the night in awhile (since the 20in24 was cancelled), so I started feeling nervous. I sat down for the first time at Right Hand Fork (mile 36.9) and some lovely volunteers made sure I got my headlamp from my drop bag, hot soup, and gave me a fruit cup and everything I needed. There was a tiny creek crossing and I was on my way!

Dusk starts to fall at the Bear 100

Dusk starts to fall at the Bear 100

I couldn’t believe how quickly it got dark. I switched on my headlamp and prepared to find my way to Aid Station #6, Temple Fork at 45 miles. It was here that I took a wrong turn and got lost for the first time. I knew something was wrong when I

didn’t see any pink trail markers for at least 20 minutes. By now, it had gotten really dark so it was hard to see anything. I was on a Jeep road, and I saw people camping with RVs in the distance so I wasn’t totally alone, but I saw no runners. I backtracked, and finally I saw some headlamps on an adjacent road that was a few meters above the road I was currently on. I called out “I think I’m lost! Are you part of the 100?” Turns out that it was a runner named Amber and her pacer (small world–Amber was friends with a friend I made through the Maniacs named Jennifer), and luckily they helped pull me up through the bushes and onto the correct path.

We chatted and ran together the 3-4 miles until the next aid station and I felt a sense of relief at seeing another runner. I had lost time and run extra miles by this point, so I knew I needed to keep going, even if that meant separating from the comforting presence of another person. I made it to Temple Fork, and at this point I was mentally tired, since it was completely dark. I was looking for my drop bag, and was told that it wasn’t there. I was searching and searching when I suddenly realized I didn’t HAVE a drop bag for this aid station. Another example about how my brain was a bit addled.

The volunteers pointed me to a trail above the highway and said, “just follow the glowsticks.” I obliged, and followed a steep climb lined with only a few tiny glowsticks hanging from the trees. It was pitch black at this point and I could only hear the sound of my breathing. I couldn’t even see whether the trail ahead of me was flat or steep! (maybe that was a good thing.) The only thing that kept me going was seeing the pink trail markers and an occasional reflector strip tacked onto a tree. There were a few times when I heard small animals scurrying around in the bushes, but nothing big.

Another hazard of navigating the trail in the dark was stepping in cow/animal dung. Seriously. I’ll tell you why later (besides the obvious gross factor of it). There were several times I was thinking, “wow this trail is really muddy,” while I was actually stepping straight into cow poop. Lovely.

The next 6.7 miles between mile 45 and mile 51 (to the Tony Grove aid station) took me forever. I only saw two souls: a guy from California with trekking poles, and another fellow named Kevin. It turns out the guy from California was on his 3rd attempt of the Bear 100, seeking his first finish. I found Kevin sitting in the snow by the side of the trail around mile 48. He didn’t look good, and I asked him if he was ok. I couldn’t bear to leave him by himself, so I helped him get up and promised that we’d get to the next aid station together. It was so, so dark, and I could only see the glistening snow when I shined my headlamp through the trees. It was very, very cold, and I sort of contemplated dropping out at the next aid station, but quickly quashed that notion. Kevin was talking about how this year the weather was brutal, and he was able to finish last year but was going to drop out as soon as we hit mile 51. I was glad for his company, and we made sure to look for the pink mile markers. We finally reached the Tony Grove aid station, and the hum of the generator was the best sound that I had ever heard.

It was 12:30am at this point, and I sat down in a chair while volunteers draped me in blankets. I reached for my drop bag, where I had stashed a big red fleece jacket I bought the day before (Bear 100 merchandise). I put on the jacket, downed half a can of Starbucks Espresso shot, and rested for 10 minutes. It was so cold that I wanted to just stay there the rest of the night, under that blanket, but I was on a mission. I had told my pacer that I was going to meet her around 2:00am at Mile 61. I was going to be really late, but unfortunately I had no cell phone reception and no way of telling her.

I said goodbye to Kevin, waited for the caffeine to kick in, and asked a volunteer to guide me to the trailhead. I hated being lost the first time and didn’t want to waste valuable time looking for the wrong trail! Up I went on the steep trail. It was a long climb–the darkness was only good because I didn’t have to think about how steep it actually was!

I drank a lot of water and ate some granola bars to keep my energy up. At this point, my granola bars were frozen! The mouthpiece on my Nathan hydration pack had also frozen, so I relied on my handheld bottle. When I shook it, I could hear chunks of ice inside. Freezing. I was very conscious of the ice at night, and my trail shoes provided little traction because of the frozen cow poop I had stepped on earlier. I started to feel scared and lonely, and used my iPod shuffle for moral support. I kept one earbud in so I could listen for animals and people with the other ear. Around mile 53, I came to a creek crossing. It was icy, and I could barely see the other side. I used my hands to brace myself on the rocks, and very slowly made my way across. There were three possible ways I could have gone after crossing the creek. One of them was a dead end, one was the way I came from, and one was the right path. I was suddenly very disoriented and I couldn’t remember which way I came, since I went back over the creek to look for the last pink trail marking.

I forged ahead and assumed I was going in the right direction. The scenery was exactly the same. I had completely stopped taking pictures once darkness hit because I was feeling crappy and couldn’t see ANYTHING. The next mile was the scariest part–there was a really steep downhill part completely iced over. I took one step and went flying down the path on my butt. Ouch!! The worst part was, I used my bottle as a trekking pole while I helplessly clung to some weeds on a hillside. The only way was down, and there was a ravine on the other side. If my mom could see her daughter in this state, she would’ve had five heart attacks in a row. It was really dangerous–one wrong step and I could fall OFF the trail, into the ravine, and no one would have found me for hours. It was so dangerous that I literally wished I had quit at the last aid station when I had a chance.

I gingerly crawled down the iced-over trail on all fours, using my bottle for traction. God, I really wish I had some trekking poles. I did this for about 300m, and it was the longest stretch of my life. I saw one person come by (same guy from California with his trekking poles), and asked him for help, but he didn’t look to be in any position to help me. He came and went. Well, so much for that. He was probably delirious as well.

I finally made it safely down the path and kept walking down the path. I stopped to look at my directions and they said “Turn left, down, crossing a stream, and ascend north, up a pass full of Mules Ear daisies. Cattle braid the trail in this area, but the trails will rejoin after the meadow.” What??! If this didn’t make sense to me at home, what the heck does it mean 19 hours into running a 100-mile race when I’m exhausted? I was growing increasingly frustrated.

I passed through a giant field (I assume full of Mules Ear daisies, still don’t know what it was talking about), and saw two lone runners.

“Am I going the right way?” I asked.

“You’re on the right path, but I hear the aid station is at least an hour away,” they called back.

My brain refused to believe it. It was already 3am and I was the most tired I had ever been in my life. What choice did I have? I was closer to mile 61 than the mile 51 aid station I had left. I couldn’t fathom making my way up the icy hill. I literally had no options. I couldn’t call anyone for help with my useless cell phone. It was an awful feeling.

The last 5 miles were torture. I would see pink trail markers, then I would stray off the trail, and then I would feel like I was going in circles. At one point, I followed the trail markers right into a big field of rocks. I contemplated this problem for a solid 10 minutes before I finally found another marker. I was hopelessly getting lost. I knew that I was not too far off the trail at any point, but going in circles did nothing for my morale. I made the decision that if my pacer, C, was still at mile 61, I would continue. Otherwise, I was going to drop out because mentally, I was done.

The last few hundred meters before reaching the aid station were tough. I saw a volunteer go out looking for runners, and he shouted at me “the aid station is just up ahead!”

“Ok!” I said, and gestured in the direction I was going. I heard the generators and saw the lights of the aid station a few moments later, but for the life of me, I couldn’t find the way out! All I saw were more trees and impassable woods. “Help!” I shouted, hoping someone would hear me.

A volunteer actually had to guide me the last few hundred feet to the aid station because I was so delirious. I was surprised that I didn’t even cry, because I was so broken-spirited at that point. The first thing I asked was if she had seen my pacer. The volunteer said no, she had not seen anyone ask for me or look for me. It was not cool. At that point, I was too tired to care. I sat in front of a bonfire, tried to get warm, and told the volunteers that I was dropping out. They tried to get to me to stay in the race, but it was already 5:30am and I had no more will to go on 39 more miles after the 10-mile fiasco I had just went through. I needed to save my energy for another day. I send my thanks to the volunteers, and especially to the good Samaritan that drove me from mile 61 to the finish line in Fish Haven, ID so that I could wait for Shane to cross the finish. I got my glimpse of Bear Lake from the car, but was too tired to enjoy it.

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My first DNF was a tough pill to swallow. I had wanted so much to complete this race. There were a few things that went wrong–some of it was beyond my control and some of it I know I can do better for next time.

For this race, I would definitely use trekking poles next time. They would have saved me from sliding down an icy mountain on my behind and would have helped in my posture for later in the race. I would also pack more layers and dress more warmly next time.

I would also bring along a pacer that I know and trust for this race. I don’t blame my pacer for my DNF, but I wished that she would have at least left a message for me at the aid station that she had to leave (she was supposed to be with me from 2am-10am), and at least acknowledge she cared for my well-being. I exchanged a few texts and an email after the race telling her that I had no reception and didn’t have any way of letting her know I got lost, but I was disappointed that she did not at least inquire about me at the aid station. Anyway, that is water under the bridge, and I can’t change that.

I would have also tried to study the course a bit more. The markings were more sparse than promised (or wild animals ate them, who knows), but at some parts it was very difficult to navigate.

I really do want to try for the Bear 100 again, hopefully in 2014, but if not, then definitely 2015. I do not regret giving it my all and making it as far as 61 miles! I am glad that I am safe and uninjured, and I thank Shane for making the journey with me.

Epilogue

I made it to the finish line by car after my DNF, and I was able to watch Shane cross the finish line in a time of 32 hrs 57 min! Well done, Shane! It was a really crazy race in less-than-ideal conditions. I heard from many runners that it is rare for the course to be so icy/snowy this time of year.

Lisa in Idaho

Lisa in Idaho

I was exhausted but was so hopped up on caffeine and adrenaline that I found it impossible to sleep at the finish while I was waiting. Plus, I wanted to be sure I saw Shane finish. There was a nice post-race food spread and an awards ceremony, where the finishers got a belt buckle and finisher’s plaque. I later found out that Fish Haven is famous for its raspberry shakes, so I will have to have one of those next time!

The day after the race, I met up with my friends Jenny and Mark, who drove from Provo to have dinner with us at an Italian place named Cafe Molise. It was so nice to see them after such a crazy adventure, and I hope to see them again during my next trip to Salt Lake City. Shane and I also enjoyed a day of sightseeing on Antelope Island. We got really close to a bison that crossed the road, and saw stunning scenery and awesome salt flats. I’ll be back, Utah! Until the next adventure…

Shane finishing his 100-mile journey

Shane finishing his 100-mile journey

Shane and his buckle

Shane and his buckle

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A “Bear” of a time at the Bear 100 (part 1)

A few weeks ago, I had the craziest and most memorable adventure of my life running the Bear 100 in Utah. It’s a grueling, 100-mile trail run from Logan, UT to Fish Haven, ID. The race was billed as “36 hours of Indian summer,” with stunning views of pine trees, golden aspen and red maples. My previous 100-miler, the Beast of Burden Summer 100 (you can read the race report here), was a flat, out-and-back course with punishing heat, and I was ready to step up my game. I knew there was a possibility that I wouldn’t finish such a crazy mountain race, but having run road races for 10 years, I was looking for a new challenge. I was really proud of my spotless record–out of 175 road races I have run since 2003 (in distances ranging from 1 mile to 100 miles), I had finished every single one. I always did say, if I were to DNF (do not finish) a race, I would do so in epic fashion!

My story begins on Wednesday, 9/25, when Shane and I boarded our JetBlue flight from JFK to Salt Lake City. When I arrived at Terminal 5, I was delighted to see that a Baked by Melissa cupcake shop had opened! I love their cupcakes, and I always use a marathon or ultramarathon as an excuse to indulge my sweet tooth. I bought a few cupcakes to throw in my purse, and it got me in a happy mood as I got ready for our five-hour flight.

It was a relaxing, uneventful flight, and we arrived late evening. I was so excited to be in Utah! The next morning, we went to Alchemy Coffee in Salt Lake City and enjoyed some pumpkin spice lattes. What can be better than that! It was a nice, cozy cafe and the coffee helped me wake up. I knew that we would have limited energy to sightsee after the race, so we also hit up RubySnap cookies, which had rave reviews on Yelp. The decor was very 50’s and kitschy. They give generous samples (half a cookie!) so we tried some amazing flavors, including a seasonal one with strawberries and a goat cheese cream on top. I ended up getting a 4-pack with the following flavors: Audrey (almond dough with almonds, cranberries and white chocolate), Penelope (peanut butter dipped in chocolate), and Lilly (lemon sugar cookie with lemon glaze and lemonheads). If you’re in Salt Lake City, you must go to RubySnap!

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The Penelope cookie

The Penelope cookie

Me and Shane at the pre-race meeting in Amalga Park, UT

Me and Shane at the pre-race meeting in Amalga Park, UT

We also went to the State Capitol building, saw the outside of the massive Mormon temple (you must belong to the Mormon church to enter), bought some souvenirs, and treated my pacer (for blog purposes I will call her C.) to lunch and talked race strategy. We agreed that she would pick me up at the Franklin Trailhead aid station at Mile 61, around 2am early Saturday morning. It was a very busy afternoon of sightseeing and coordinating logistics!

Lisa at the Utah State Capitol

Lisa at the Utah State Capitol

At 3:45pm, we arrived at the pre-race meeting at Sugar Park in Amalga, UT. It was very chilly and drizzling rain, and the temperature felt like low 50’s. All the Bear 100 runners were huddled under the wooden pavilion as we awaited final race instructions from the race director, Leland Barker. Typically, 100-mile races take days of preparation just for the race–there is usually a pre-race meeting, a place to drop off your drop bags (participant-provided bags) so they can be placed on the course, and bib pickup.

The goody bag had a nice maroon tech shirt with a map of the course elevation on the back and a packet of Hammer Nutrition Recoverite. They sold some merchandise at Leland’s (the race director) trout farm up the road. It was funny–it’s such an intimate race (only 300 participants) that he had us put our drop bags on the lawn and he sold merchandise in his living room! I bought a big red fleece jacket with the race logo.

Shane and I took about 1 hour to assemble our drop bags. There were 13 aid stations along the course, and 10 of them had drop bags. It was important to strategize what your needs were at what point of the course. For example, you needed a headlamp in your drop bag a few miles before darkness set in, and you had to anticipate what foods/gels/liquids/caffeine boosts you wanted at certain miles!

Finally, once our drop bags were done, we could eat dinner! I chose Jack’s Wood-fired Oven in Logan, as their pizza looked pretty legit. I ordered the tomato basil soup and the “Pig and the Peach” pizza. It was prosciutto with thyme, honey, and chipotle peach dressing. It was delicious! It was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had while traveling. Finally, it was bedtime around 10pm to prepare for our 4:30am wakeup call (race started 6am). Luckily, the start line was only 10 minutes away by car!

Jack's Wood=fired oven pizza

Jack’s Wood-fired oven pizza

Bear 100 Race Day, 9/27/13

This was it. This was the day I had been training for the past 8 months. I was ready to rock and roll!

Shane and I ate a light breakfast at our hotel, then we got to the start at 5:30am with plenty of time to spare. There was no official start line banner, just a tent set up for the volunteers and runner check-in and a bunch of runners clustered together in a parking lot.

I got the chance to meet elite ultrarunner Karl Meltzer. He’s a pretty awesome guy–he has the current record for most 100-mile wins (35) and was a past champion of the Bear 100. We chatted a bit and his last minute advice was to “be patient.” And of course, runner geek I am, I got my photo with him. Thanks for the advice, Karl!

It was pretty dark and chilly, and I offered Shane my sweatshirt because he had packed all his jackets in his drop bags. I’m happy to share! At 6am, there wasn’t really a start horn–a bunch of people started moving, and off we went into the darkness!

Miles 1-10

I was feeling pumped, and I knew to start very conservatively because there was a 4,000 ft climb in the first 5 miles, and the first 10 miles were almost completely uphill. It was singletrack, so runners didn’t really have room to spread out until after 4-5 miles. The views as we climbed higher were stunning. I think I was one of the few “city” girls that gaped and took pictures while climbing. I took this race seriously, but I also wanted pictures to make sure I had a little bit of fun along with the torturous climbing! I also noticed a lot of people had trekking poles, and thought about getting some the next time I go on a mountain adventure. The first 5 miles were very, very tough, but I felt well-prepared. The one hard thing i didn’t expect was the snow. There was a decent amount of snow, and the chilly air sometimes made it hard to breathe. Luckily, I didn’t feel sick from the altitude…yet.

Me and elite ultrarunner Karl Meltzer

Me and elite ultrarunner Karl Meltzer

Me and Shane at the Bear 100 start

Me and Shane at the Bear 100 start

I made sure to keep hydrating and eating the entire time. People ask me if I ever get bored during an ultra, and the answer is no. There is so much to do! You have to keep your eyes focused on the ground so you don’t trip, remember to eat, remember to drink, and look for trail markers. Plus, there is scenery to be enjoyed and photos to take. How could I possibly be bored??

Me near the top of Logan Peak

Me near the top of Logan Peak

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I reached the Logan Peak aid station and was so glad to have made it to mile 10. One of the tough things about the Bear 100 is that there is usually 7-10 miles between aid stations, which means that you have to carry adequate water and supplies in between, plus it can be very scary at night when there’s no one around until the next aid station.

Miles 11-20

I was still enjoying myself very much during the race. However, miles 11-20 were some of the coldest times–there was snow gently falling on the trail, and since we were high up on the mountain it was windy. I had to be very careful of my footing so that I didn’t slip too much on the snow. My spirits were still high because it was afternoon and I was wide awake. I was having a blast! The descent into one of the lower points, Leatham Hollow, was gorgeous. It was very runnable trail and there were pine needles to cushion my footsteps. I made sure to thank all the volunteers I saw! I made it through one of the hardest climbs and descents and I was feeling pretty darn good.

What happens when darkness falls? Race report to be continued…stay tuned!


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Run 10 Feed 10, Shack Track and Field, and Maker Faire

As I write this, I am back safe and sound from Utah after running the Bear 100. There is so much that happened that it deserves its own race recap, but let’s just say that I am grateful to have had the experience of running in one of the most beautiful places in the U.S., and I will be back…

Two weekends ago, I had the privilege of running the Run 10 Feed 10 (10K race) on behalf of Team Skechers! It was a festive, flat 10K that took place along the West Side Highway in NYC. It was a charity race, and for every runner that registered, the sponsors (including Women’s Health) donated 10 meals to feed the needy in the local community. It felt good to run for a cause!

The weather was perfect and breezy, and I was going to “take it easy” because I was tapering for the Bear 100. However, because I knew it was a flat course, it would be a good chance to stretch out my legs and see how fast I could go in my new Skechers GoRun2 Rides. They’re a great mid-distance shoe, with a little more weight in the heel than the other GoRun2 models. Thanks for the shoes, Skechers!

Every runner got a Run 10 Feed 10 tote bag made of natural jute, access to a post-race festival, and post-race food including Special K Nourish oatmeal, coconut water, fruit, and more. I even got a sweet wristband for the VIP tent that had sandwiches, quiche and coffee thanks to Skechers.

Me and Fanny at the Run 10 Feed 10

Me and Fanny at the Run 10 Feed 10

DSC00449I ended up running a 52:41 (8:29 min/mile) for the 10K because I felt so good. Here are my stats:

262/1987 overall

178/1733 females (Top 10%!)

132/955 in my age group (F14-29)

Every finisher got a cool handmade “Feed” bracelet.

I was really happy. Afterwards, we enjoyed giveaways like full-size products from Vaseline (lotions and cocoa butter), printed socks from Ford, samples from Special K, and more. U.S. Soccer star and Olympic gold medalist Alex Morgan was also on hand signing autographs, and I got to meet her. I had a great time meeting up with Fanny and Beth!

After the race, I met up with my friends Kelly and Camner at the Maker Faire, an event celebrating all things DIY and new printing and manufacturing technologies. It was at the NY Hall of Science and it was a cool, family-friendly event. I got to see the wonders of 3-D printing (I got to take home a mini robot figurine), got my iPod shuffle laser-engraved (with a songbird graphic) on the spot for free, and ate really good paella from Gerard’s Paella.

To cap off the week, I started going to running practices at Shake Shack, the revered burger chain that started in New York. The Battery Park City location started a “Shack Track and Field Club” (originated in Philly), where on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month at 7pm, they have a group run ranging from 45 minutes to 1 hour, for runners of all abilities. For a one-time fee of $10, you get a Shack Track and Field shirt, post-run drinks, and a coupon for a free custard. I attended the first practice on 9/24, the day before flying out to Salt Lake City, and I had a lot of fun! We ran 45 minutes through the Financial district and the (now shuttered) Seaport, then hung out at the Shack afterwards. Check it out!

I felt great going into the Bear 100 using the Run 10 Feed 10 as a solid training run, plus doing my taper run with the Shack Track and Field club was a good send-off. What happens next ? Stay tuned…

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Maker Faire with Kelly

Maker Faire with Kelly

Representing Team Skechers!

Representing Team Skechers!

Gerard's paella--massive pans!

Gerard’s paella–massive pans!

Run 10 Feed 10 bracelets

Run 10 Feed 10 bracelets

3-D printing machine making a robot figurine

3-D printing machine making a robot figurine