Lisa Runs on Ramen

— running 26.2 and having foodie adventures too!


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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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Disney World Marathon 20th Anniversary & Mission Chinese Food

It’s the night before the Empire State Building Run-Up, and as usual I am blogging late into the evening. I am so excited to compete in the Run-Up, and I can’t wait to write about it! But before I do that, I have to recap some awesome stuff that happened in January. To start the New Year off right, Jackie and I went to Mission Chinese Food on Orchard St in New York. It’s one of the hottest new restaurant openings of the year, and we wanted to try it before it got even more popular.

I got there at 5:15pm on 1/2 (considered a holiday), and there was already at least a 1.5 hour wait, a mere 15 minutes after the doors opened! The hostess was very nice though, and all the customers were excited to be there and didn’t mind waiting in the cramped foyer. Jackie arrived from work 30 minutes later, and being the foodie geeks that we were, we asked to take a picture with Chef Danny Bowien. Not only did he take a photo with us, he let us have a glimpse of the kitchen, and he later gifted us a plate of super spicy chicken wings!

Lisa, Chef Danny Bowien, and Jackie

Lisa, Chef Danny Bowien, and Jackie

We shared the plate with other people in line–also our mouths were on fire because of the copious amounts of hot chilies on the plate! We buddied up with some people in line to chat about what to order, and after TWO HOURS (worth it), our table was ready!

Our friend Juergen later joined us for dinner, and we ordered all the good stuff off the menu: thrice cooked bacon, egg egg noodles, beef roll, and kung pao pastrami.

Thrice cooked bacon at Mission Chinese Food

Thrice cooked bacon at Mission Chinese Food

It was a ton of food, and best of all, everything was delicious. My favorite was the thrice cooked bacon…Jackie proclaimed that next time, she’s not sharing, haha. If it weren’t for the 2-hour wait, I would come here all the time. Thanks Chef Danny for meeting us, and the staff at Mission Chinese–you guys are great!

The Disney World Marathon Weekend

The weekend of January 12-13, I went on a whirlwind trip to Orlando, FL so I could run in the 20th Anniversary Disney World Marathon. I did the Goofy Challenge in 2011, and while it was fun, it was extremely expensive ($340 registration), and I wasn’t a fan of waking up at 2:30am two days in a row. The Goofy Challenge is a combination race–you run the half marathon on a Saturday, and the full marathon the day after, for a total of 39.3 miles in a weekend. It’s worth doing once, but I probably won’t do it again until I’m rolling in the dough, haha.

I arrive on Saturday morning at the Disney Caribbean Beach resort, put down my things, and headed straight to the expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. There were commemorative items for sale, like Dooney & Bourke 20th Anniversary marathon bags, posters, pins, and other stuff. I splurged a bit on a Dooney and Bourke cross-body bag. I couldn’t resist!

Special limited-edition Dooney & Bourke bag made just for the marathon!

Special limited-edition Dooney & Bourke bag made just for the marathon!

I also got to meet former Olympian Jeff Galloway, the official runDisney training consultant. Olympic triathlete Hunter Kemper was also taking photos with fans at the Cigna booth! It was the first time I’ve heard his name, but he’s a really nice guy and down-to-earth. He ran the half-marathon earlier in the day and came in third.

Me and Jeff Galloway, Olympian and famous running coach

Me and Jeff Galloway, Olympian and famous running coach

Me with Olympic triathlete Hunter Kemper in the Cigna booth

Me with Olympic triathlete Hunter Kemper in the Cigna booth

I was pretty exhausted after my flight, so after picking up my packet and posing for a few more photo opps, I was eager to avoid the madness and finally get to explore the park! I bought an afternoon ticket for $69 at the expo (saving $15 or so) and decided to spend the rest of the day at Magic Kingdom.

New Balance photo booth pic

New Balance photo booth pic

I got to Magic Kingdom around 3:30pm and finally ate a late lunch. I had a barbecue chicken flatbread and iced mocha from Pinocchio’s Tavern (a fast-food type place), and made a note to myself to try and eat better next time I come to Disney! It’s so hard to travel and find the “right” foods to eat before a marathon. I was meeting up with my friends Scot and Sandy (Marathon Maniacs who recently got married at the Honolulu Marathon!) so I was looking forward to seeing them and not crash on an empty stomach. I went to see the new Fantasyland, and while the structures themselves were impressive (Ariel’s castle and the Beast’s castle), the attractions were so-so and aimed towards younger kids. I really wanted to eat at the new Be Our Guest restaurant , but you had to reserve weeks in advance. Next time!

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Ariel's castle, part of the new Fantasyland

Ariel’s castle, part of the new Fantasyland

I had a blast watching Philharmagic 3-D and going on rides like Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, and Haunted Mansion. Scot and Sandy joined me for the Haunted Mansion ride so that made it even more fun!

Me and Sandy clowning around at the Haunted Mansion

Me and Sandy clowning around at the Haunted Mansion

Scot and Sandy, the newlyweds!

Scot and Sandy, the newlyweds!

Before my day was over, I scarfed down a pulled pork sandwich from some diner in Tomorrowland, caught the “Wishes” fireworks show, and saw my favorite thing ever, the Main Street Electrical Parade!

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At around 10:00pm, I finally left the park and got back to my hotel at 11:00pm. I had been awake since 3:30am Saturday and I had to wake up at 3:00am for the Disney Marathon, yikes!

So yes, I did make it out of bed (one of my fears is oversleeping for a destination marathon), and here, I bring you a sub-set of this blog post:

How to get the most bang for your buck during the Disney World marathon (and having fun with it)

1) Don’t worry about your marathon time when it’s 80F, 80% humidity, and your “stuck in an NYC winter” body hasn’t adjusted to summer temps yet.

2) Carry a camera and take lots of pictures with the characters

Pirates of the Caribbean!

Pirates of the Caribbean!

3) Wait 20 minutes on line for a semi-blurry photo with Mickey and Minnie

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4) When you’re running on a marathon course completely exposed to sun, pretend like you’re working on your tan and that the sun is your friend.

5) Ride the Expedition Everest roller coaster mid-race (in Animal Kingdom), around mile 12.8. Best. Decision. Ever.

A souvenir from my mid-race roller coaster ride

A souvenir from my mid-race roller coaster ride

6) If you see a massive line for a photo opportunity, like the one at Mile 20 (the 20th anniversary “surprise”), move off to the side and take your own photo. It’s sort of like a civil way to photobomb.

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7) Enjoy your shiny, spinning Mickey medal at the finish and remember that the winners of the race and the back-of-packers get the same medal!

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The 20th Anniversary Disney World marathon medal

The 20th Anniversary Disney World marathon medal

So, my final time was 6:13:15, which was a personal worst by 13 minutes (my second-worst time was the Chicago Marathon 2007 during the heat wave), but I had a blast! It was totally worth it to get photos with all my favorite characters and to ride a roller coaster mid-race. Plus, I usually wilt in the heat so the goal was to finish without getting dehydrated. Here are a few more photos from my journey:

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I got a photo with Mushu (from Mulan) in Disney World back when I was 11 years old, so the last photo has special significance for me!

I got to cheer on other Team Refuel members during the race, and I even got asked about the Team Refuel voting contest from a prospective team member. As soon as I finished and got back to my hotel, I was frantically trying to clear the room and check out (they only gave me 12:00pm checkout while another person from the same hotel got 1:00pm! Not cool). I put my stuff in the luggage room and headed to the resort’s food court in search of some calories and chocolate milk. Luckily, they had Nesquik (my favorite), and I downed it to help aid my recovery. I also had baked ziti and a breadstick to hold me over, at least until I got my second lunch haha.

I met my friend Derrick from California in Downtown Disney for some more high-quality recovery food. We ended up going to Wolfgang Puck’s Bistro for some awesome food in a casual setting. I had a hearty chicken noodle soup and a pesto chicken sandwich with aioli.

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Derrick did the Goofy Challenge and had three clanging medals to prove it! The medals came in handy because RunDisney arranged for 20% off several restaurants for finishers that showed their medals. Score! Lastly, we stopped by Earl of Sandwich and I got an amazing Hawaiian chicken sandwich with pineapple. It was so delicious. I find that I like to eat two smaller meals after a marathon, because immediately after I usually have a small appetite.

I left Orlando on Sunday and had a good flight home. It was a short weekend, but filled with great memories. I am grateful for the support of Team Refuel, and I like sporting my jersey in races like this! I feel blessed to have been one of the lucky runners in the 20th Anniversary of this very special marathon.