Lisa Runs on Ramen

— running 26.2 and having foodie adventures too!


Leave a comment

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!

IMG_3714

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.

IMG_3711

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:

DSC03884

DSC03888

 

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.

vancouver1

 

vancouverlulu1

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!

IMG_3755

IMG_3759

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!

IMG_3765

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.

IMG_3782

 

lululemon hat1

 

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.

DSC04013

IMG_3804

IMG_3802

seawheeze

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!

IMG_3928

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Brooklyn Half Marathon and the Great GoogaMooga recap

I always enjoy running races in my home borough of Brooklyn, so I was super excited for the Brooklyn Half Marathon presented by New Balance. I have run this race several times now, and it has gone through many course and field size changes. When I heard this year it would be sponsored by New Balance, I knew it would be a big deal and have an enhanced race experience. They increased the field size to a whopping 25,000 people, and every runner would receive a New Balance tech shirt and finisher medal. The biggest change of all was the addition of the Brooklyn Half Pre-Party, a bib pick-up event with a festive atmosphere and even a beer garden!

The Pre-Party was in an awesome space called the Tobacco Warehouse right under the Brooklyn Bridge in the DUMBO neighborhood. New Balance was selling cool gear like biker-type Brooklyn Hats, track jackets and more. There was a DJ, Instagram photo booth, local merchants selling food, and a beer garden. The weather was perfect and there were even fireworks over the Brooklyn Bridge! I really enjoyed seeing my friends and teammates.

Lisa at the Brooklyn Half Pre-Party

Lisa at the Brooklyn Half Pre-Party

Me and Dashing Whippets teammate Tommy at the Brooklyn Half expo

Me and Dashing Whippets teammate Tommy at the Brooklyn Half expo

Fast forward to race day, Saturday, 5/18. I got up early and ran about a mile from my home to the start line near the Brooklyn Museum of Art. It was awesome not to have to rely on public transit that day (especially because the trains are mostly messed up on weekends), and just use my own two legs! I saw my friend Wams at the start line, as well as teammates JWah, Ellen, Henry and Maggie.

The air was cool and crisp, and I was excited about running on my home turf.

I also knew that Shane and I were looking forward to attending the GoogaMooga food festival together after the race, so that was a bonus perk post-race.

The race went off, and I started running at a fast clip. I think the first two miles I was running at 8:20 pace, since I was pacing with another Dashing Whippets team member. I saw some friends cheering at Grand Army Plaza and that added fuel to my fire!

The first loop of Prospect Park was fine, then came the dreaded “Alphabet Avenues” down Ocean Parkway, a 5-mile straightaway that basically went from Ave A to Ave X. I ran my PR at the 2011 Brooklyn Half, and I realized that I was on pace to break my PR, or at least come close.

My legs were hurting, but I wanted to push hard and finish strong on the boardwalk. I ran it in for 1:52:29. It was a PR by 5 seconds! I was ecstatic.

253262_10101027020170145_716970929_n

I met Shane at the finish line and also saw my friends Rick, Lauren and Ben. The family reunion area was a bit of a walk from the finish line, and unfortunately my craving for a Nathan’s hot dog and smoothie went unsatisfied. I heard Nathan’s was closed due to a kitchen fire, and my favorite stand, Denny’s Ice Cream, was closed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, many businesses were closed or still hurting months later. Shane and I settled for some Dunkin’ Donuts treats and headed to Prospect Park for the GoogaMooga food festival.

983573_10101027023463545_1734955144_n

 

 

 

 

The Great GoogaMooga

Thanks to my sister, I was able to get a pair of tickets to the Saturday GoogaMooga festival. I entered the lottery for tickets, but wasn’t one of the winners. Glad it still worked out!

This year, it was a three-day festival and last year, it was only two days. Last year, the GoogaMooga had an inauspicious start due to long lines for food, heat, and long lines for alcohol tickets the first day. I went on the second day and volunteered, and I had a great time. I remember having a softshell crab sandwich from Vinegar Hill House and a “Bee Sting” (chili oil and basil) pizza from Roberta’s, and those were my two favorite dishes.

We got in through the gates around noon without any lines or hassle, and we headed to the Lexus tent for a photo opp and some free GoogaMooga trading cards. Those were pretty neat–the cards had chef’s bios on them and a sticker, like an old-fashioned bubblegum prize pack.

936967_10101027027186085_304791490_n

Shane and I met up with my friend Susan and we started visiting the booths.

Here’s what we tried:

1) Brooklyn Soda Works: raspberry basil soda–pretty good.

2) Roberta’s pizza: pepperoni personal pizza–very good, crust was thin and perfectly crispy

3) The Lobster Place: half a lobster. Good and cheap, was served with melted butter

4) M. Wells Dinette: Oysters bolognese with grated white truffle–this was the star of the show and the best dish we had! It was a delicious take on the oyster and the truffle added a richness to it

5) Joe Coffee–cold brew, best coffee ever

6) Bromberg Bros/Blue Ribbon: fried chicken–it was ok, the chicken was a bit dry

7) Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi: soba noodles with kimchi–I liked this

8) Umami Burger: The other star of the show–I had the truffle burger and it was so good! The bun was fluffy, meat was perfectly cooked

9) Melt Bakery: Snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich–this was excellent, tasted cinnamony goodness

10) Baked: brownie–was amazing, very rich

We also indulged in the wine tent–$20 worth of tasting tickets was more than enough. A lot of bartenders were generous with their pours. Overall, even with a little bit of drizzle/rain, the festival was awesome, and the tastings were reasonable from $8 to $12 a plate. The organizers took feedback to heart and organized the booths to minimize waiting (only the Umami burger required a 10-minute wait, there were no lines for anything else). Sadly, Day 3 was cancelled due to terrible weather, so many of my friends didn’t get to go. Hopefully, the festival will be back on next year! It was a fulfilling day of Brooklyn goodness–race + food festival equals a happy runner!

Roberta's pepperoni pizza--perfectly delish

Roberta’s pepperoni pizza–perfectly delish

Umami burger goodness

Umami burger goodness

Oysters bolognese from M.Wells Dinette

Oysters bolognese from M.Wells Dinette


Leave a comment

Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon recap

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

Leftover Mardi Gras decorations on houses

Leftover Mardi Gras decorations on houses

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

Waiting for fried chicken at Willie Mae's

Waiting for fried chicken at Willie Mae’s

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

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

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

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

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

Me and Jesus S. Go Team Refuel!

Me and Jesus S. Go Team Refuel!

I love the Cavalcade of Curiosities display by Brooks!

I love the Cavalcade of Curiosities display by Brooks!

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

DSC07242

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

Me and Frank Shorter

Me and Frank Shorter

Me and Rod Dixon

Me and Rod Dixon

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

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

Domenica's squid ink tagliolini

Domenica’s squid ink tagliolini

Wild mushroom and bacon pizza with farm egg

Wild mushroom and bacon pizza with farm egg

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

Race Day– Sunday 2/24

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

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

Jane, Trent and myself

Jane, Trent and myself

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

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

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

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

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

Here were my results:

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

Overall: 1983/9270

Gender: 760/5867

Age group: 159/985

finisher

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

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

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

Me and Mo Farah

Me and Mo Farah–he won in 1:00:59!

Me and Kara Goucher

Me and Kara Goucher

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

Me and Shalane Flanagan

Me and Shalane Flanagan

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

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

Me and Meseret Defar, women's champ

Me and Meseret Defar, women’s champ

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

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

DSC07318

Nice hat!

Nice hat!

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

Fried chicken and jambalaya at Coop's Place

Fried chicken and jambalaya at Coop’s Place

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

Beignets at Cafe du Monde

Beignets at Cafe du Monde

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

rainy NOLA

.


1 Comment

Lululemon Sea Wheeze Half Marathon, 8/11/12 (Vancouver, BC)

I just returned from Vancouver earlier this week from a really awesome inaugural half-marathon, the Lululemon Sea Wheeze! I am a big Lululemon fan because they make nice, comfortable clothes. Since running is such a mental sport, if you feel good about what you’re wearing, you’re more likely to perform well. As soon as I heard about their half-marathon back in January, I immediately signed up and got my friend Amy to register with me. The price was a little steep at $128 CAD, but you do get what you pay for. It includes:

Lulu schwag

–          Limited-edition Sea Wheeze shorts that they mail to you (cream-colored with rainbow polka dots)

–          A reusable race bag with Native (Canadian brand) flip flops with SeaWheeze print

–          An awesome race experience with cheer stations, costumed people and volunteers

–          Admission to a post-race concert by Vancouver band Hey Ocean! and FUN.

–          Sunset yoga on Kits (Kitsilano) beach

–          Cool medal

Sea Wheeze showcase store

The Sea Wheeze showcase store–very picked over by the time I arrived post-race (it was open for 1.5 days)

I was really looking forward to the race expo, because I knew there would be limited-edition product available ONLY at the Sea Wheeze showcase store on race weekend. Unfortunately, I missed the expo completely and first dibs on the stuff due to a 7-hour mechanical delay on Air Canada. It was SO frustrating. I was supposed to arrive at 2:00pm into Vancouver and I didn’t get to my hotel until 9:00pm, completely exhausted from all their shenanigans. I am probably not going to fly them ever again. Luckily, Amy got there mid-day and was able to get me a pair of shorts, when I frantically instructed her to buy me “anything that fits me” under $60. I pretty much knew that the stuff would be picked over by the afternoon since the expo opened at 9:00am. Oh well, next time I’ll get there on Thursday!

The Four Seasons Downtown Vancouver

I got to stay at the Four Seasons in downtown Vancouver with Amy for a ridiculous rate, since she works for them. It was a beautiful hotel only a 10-minute walk to the race start, which made my life so much easier after my flight delays.

I will post a much more detailed part two later, but I just wanted to share some photos below. I’m gearing up for the Beast of Burden Summer 100 this weekend—so nervous but also excited!

Beautiful course along the Seawall in Stanley Park