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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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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Honolulu Marathon, 50 States Finisher Celebrations and Team Refuel! (12/6-12/10/2012)

Aloha, Hawaii!

I had been looking forward to the Honolulu Marathon (12/9/12) all year, knowing that I would be there celebrating my friends Steven and Hideki as they complete their 50-state marathon journey. Both of them were completing the feat of running one marathon in every state, then finishing their journey in paradise! A group of about 12 of us made the trip from New York City to run or cheer, and I traveled with a smaller group that included my friends Wams, Jackie, Michelle and Donald. It was my first time in Hawaii and I wanted to do as much as I could, in addition to running the marathon. I was in a group of active people, so interestingly enough our trip didn’t include much beach time, mostly hiking and running! The Honolulu Marathon is also my first major race wearing my new Team Refuel gear so I was excited!

On our first night, Thursday, we landed in Waikiki after 11 hours of flying and were in search of some good food. We went to Roy’s, a great Hawaiian fusion restaurant that had seafood and fantastic desserts. I ordered the sea scallops with grapes—so good!

Scallops for dinner at Roy's Waikiki

Scallops for dinner at Roy’s Waikiki

On Friday, Wams, Jackie, Michelle and I woke up early for a 2-mile jog uphill from Waikiki Beach to Diamond Head State Park for a hike. The hike was gorgeous, with amazing vistas of the ocean and the beach. It was medium-strenuous—there was only one clear path and it was paved, with handrails. We did have to climb a lot of hills though. I made sure to stay well-hydrated with water and PowerAde, then I bought some low-fat chocolate milk after the hike to make sure my muscles recovered for the race! The perfect blend of carbs and protein in low-fat chocolate milk allows me to jump this high:

Lisa is fueled by lowfat chocolate milk.

Lisa is fueled by lowfat chocolate milk.

Plus, it was refreshing to drink an ice-cold beverage that also tastes good! (Read more about the benefits of refueling with chocolate milk on the Got Chocolate Milk site.)

Lisa with Diamond Head in the background

Lisa with Diamond Head in the background

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Jackie, Wams, Lisa and Michelle (gray shirt) at the top of Diamond Head

Jackie, Wams, Lisa and Michelle (gray shirt) at the top of Diamond Head

After the hike, we went to the Honolulu Marathon expo, where we met up with my friend and fellow Marathon Maniac Club members Harvey and Steve. Harvey presented us ladies with beautiful orchid leis and kukui nut leis as gifts. Thank you so much for the warm welcome, Harvey! He also got me a bright pink running singlet from the Big Island that said “Run Big” on it. I can’t wait to wear it! Thanks also to my friend Mohan, who got me a Penang Marathon singlet too!

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Thanks for the Big Island Running Co singlet, Harvey!

Thanks for the Big Island Running Co singlet, Harvey!

I picked up my bib number and got really excited for the Honolulu Marathon—it would be my 12th marathon of the year and I just wanted it to be an enjoyable experience. Next, we headed to the Ala Moana shopping center where Michelle and I got 100% Kona coffee. It was delicious!

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That night, the whole group headed to the Marathon Maniacs official dinner (at Buca di Beppo) where we got to meet fellow club members from all around the world that were also running the Honolulu marathon. There must have been at least 50 of us sitting down eating dinner! The organizer, Les, made it a really fun experience for everyone by getting everyone to mingle and handing out door prizes.

Jackie, Benny, Lisa (me) and Bee at the Marathon Maniac dinner

Jackie, Benny, Lisa (me) and Bee at the Marathon Maniac dinner

Marathon runners carbo-loading!

Marathon runners carbo-loading!

Saturday was filled with more hiking, and then a dolphin excursion on Waianae. We saw many pods of dolphins, put on our snorkeling gear, and got to jump off the boat to swim with the dolphins! I was about ten feet away from a pod of dolphins at one point—truly a magical experience. We even saw a humpback whale breaching several times near the end of our journey! I was in awe. Pictures don’t really do it justice.

Me in snorkeling gear

Me in snorkeling gear

A humpback whale breaching

A humpback whale breaching

Having a great time on our dolphin excursion!

Having a great time on our dolphin excursion!

RACE DAY

On Sunday, my friends and I woke up at 3:00am to prepare for the 5:00am Honolulu Marathon start! Why so early? It gets really hot and humid in Hawaii even in December, so the earlier the runners start, the better. I also learned that the Honolulu Marathon keeps its finish line open until the very last finisher crosses, which is an incredible thing for the staff to do (sometimes it takes more than 14 hrs, 30 minutes). We posed for some pictures before getting on the bus to the start line:

Hideki (in purple) and Steve (third from right) with their fan club

Hideki (in purple) and Steve (third from right) with their fan club

Here’s one of me and my friends, 50-state soon-to-be-finishers Steve (left) and Hideki. I’m proudly sporting my Team Refuel gear. We took a big group photo with the Marathon Maniacs club, then headed to the start at 4:50. Ten minutes later, the sky lit up with fireworks and we were off!!

Me with Steve (left) and Hideki before the Honolulu Marathon

Me with Steve (left) and Hideki before the Honolulu Marathon

We ran past beautiful Christmas lights in downtown Honolulu, then Waikiki. There weren’t a ton of spectators at first, but the ones that showed up were super enthusiastic. I took it easy in the early miles, knowing that I needed to save my energy.

We got to watch the beautiful sunrise over the tree tops.

Mile 7 of the Honolulu Marathon

Mile 7 of the Honolulu Marathon

Right as we crested a hill near mile 7, a bunch of teenage volunteers cheered really loudly for all the runners! One could always use a little motivation, right?

Around mile 8, I started to feel the hills and the previous days’ hikes on my legs, but I kept reminding myself that I trained and hydrated well, so I had nothing to worry about. I started seeing my speedier friends like Benny and Steve a couple miles ahead of me, having passed the turnaround point. It was cool seeing them for extra motivation.

Ahh it's getting warm!

Ahh it’s getting warm!

This is why I brought my camera onto the course--awesome backdrop

This is why I brought my camera onto the course–awesome backdrop

When the sun rose higher in the sky, I started sweating a lot more. I gladly took soaked sponges from the volunteers, and took Powergels from the aid stations (they even had Kona Punch-flavored gels!).

As we neared the finish line at Kapiolani Park, we first had to negotiate an incline near Diamond Head. Knowing that I hiked that trail a few days earlier gave me confidence. Nothing was going to stop me now, especially not at mile 24! I was so happy to be in Hawaii that I soaked up all the joy of the experience in the final miles. I crossed the finish line in 5:14:01 (7,398th out of 24,152 finishers). I am glad I stuck to my plan of listening to my body—I needed to give my body a break after running 12 marathons and ultramarathons in 12 months! I had a big smile on my face when I finished—and I was already thinking of my ice cold chocolate milk waiting for me back at the hotel!

I'm a Honolulu Marathon finisher! It's my 18th state.

I’m a Honolulu Marathon finisher! It’s my 18th state.

But first, I had to find my friends at the end. I found Hideki, Derrick, and Tatsunori (a friend of Hideki’s who also finished his 50th state marathon) at the finish, then I bumped into Michelle and Jackie later on. We got our finishers’ shell leis, then walked to the festival area to get our official finishers’ t-shirts (nice tech tees) and our medals.

Derrick, Hideki, and Tatsunori (L-R) greeted me at the finish.

Derrick, Hideki, and Tatsunori (L-R) greeted me at the finish.

We took some photos, got a free shiatsu massage, and then grabbed some lunch for back at the hotel.

So proud of my friends!

So proud of my friends!

Semi-official finisher photo of me-representing Team Refuel!

Semi-official finisher photo of me-representing Team Refuel!

(Hawaiians use the hand signal for “aloha”)

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For lunch, we went to Musubi Iyasume, an amazing place that sells spam musubi (it’s a traditional Hawaiian snack—sticky rice balls usually topped with Spam and wrapped in nori, or seaweed). So for lunch, I had spam musubi, miso soup, and a refreshing bottle of low-fat chocolate milk! The chocolate milk helps in my recovery—I know my muscles need replenishing as soon as possible. The high-quality protein found in low-fat chocolate milk helps my muscles rebuild after strenuous exercise, so I can recover for my next workout! It really works, as I found out the next day that as long as I took walk breaks during the 9-hour flight back to NYC, I had reduced soreness.

Lisa at Musubi Iyasume

Lisa at Musubi Iyasume

This was a truly special trip, made more meaningful because I got to celebrate Hideki and Steve’s special milestone of finishing their 50th state marathon in Hawaii. That night, we had a celebratory dinner with about 30 guests at Uncle Bo’s. The month before, I spearheaded a project to create two surprise scrapbooks with the help of my friends who contributed photos from the various marathons they have run worldwide. It was meant to be presented to them at dinner, in front of everybody. They were completely surprised! We also passed it around at the party so that people could add their signatures and well-wishes. Congratulations, Hideki and Steve!

Hideki and Steve with their 50-state finisher scrapbooks my friends and I made

Hideki and Steve with their 50-state finisher scrapbooks my friends and I made

Well-wishes from friends of the dynamic duo

Well-wishes from friends of the dynamic duo

I’m grateful to Team Refuel for sponsoring me—I’m proud to wear our team colors! Thanks also to all my friends who traveled with me, and my Hawaiian friends for giving me a big welcome to Hawaii. Mahalo!

I love chocolate milk and Team Refuel!

I love chocolate milk and Team Refuel!