Lisa Runs on Ramen

— running 26.2 and having foodie adventures too!


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Countdown to 20in24 Lone Ranger Run, winning prizes and local races

I have the Back on My Feet 20in24 Lone Ranger race this week, on 7/20! I am running for 12 of the 24 hours due to work the next day, but I am grateful for this chance to still run with my friends. I am humbled and thankful for all my supporters who have generously donated to my cause, and as of this week I have raised $530 for Back on My Feet. Over the past two years, I have raised over $2000 for Back on My Feet as as FundRacer! It is an amazing organization that uses running as a vehicle to help the homeless regain self-sufficiency. If their residential members (individuals experiencing homelessness) attend 90% of practices, they are connected with housing assistance and job placement assistance.

I have run this race for the past two years, and it is one of my favorite races because it was the first time I had ever run 76 miles in 24 hours back in 2011. It was a transformative and unforgettable experience. Below is one of my favorite photos from the 2012 edition, with my friends Otto and Michelle. My goal is to run 50 miles in under 11 hours, then work the next day!

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I feel like I trained well for this race, and it will be a great stepping stone for my Bear 100 preparations. In the past few weeks, I have completed the Oakley New York Mini 10K (time was 53:46), the Portugal Day run 5-miler (43:48), the Front Runners Gay Pride Run 5-miler (44:21), the Governor’s Island Get Outside 10K (new PR of 49:55), and I paced my friend Juergen for 26 miles of his first 100-miler (The Greater NY 100). I had so much fun seeing my Dashing Whippets male teammates dressing up to cheer on us ladies for the Mini 10K, and I loved running with my friends Shamz, Leong, Peter and Carol on Governor’s Island.  I know I am ready!

I am a bit worried about the hot weather (NYC is experiencing a heat wave right now), but I just need to hydrate properly and adjust my pace according to how my body is feeling.

I also had some amazing luck with contests lately, and I just wanted to thank Elizabeth at Running and the City, Enlightened Ice Cream, and Skechers Performance for giving me some amazing prizes!

I won a Twitter contest through Running and the City, where I said that if I won the prize of a month’s supply of Enlightened ice cream, I would use it as motivation to train for the Bear 100. Out of dozens of tweets submitted, mine was chosen as the winner and two weeks later, 8 boxes of healthy Enlightened ice cream (in flavors of Fudge, orange cream, and coffee, yum!) showed up on my doorstep! Thank you thank you!

I also entered a Facebook contest for a Skechers Performance/ Meb Keflezighi (elite marathoner) prize pack worth $650. I entered it without much thought, and I received an email a week later saying that I won! The prize pack included a Garmin Forerunner 10, Oakley Flak Jacket sunglasses, a Sony Walkman Meb mp3 player, UCAN product, a box of Krave turkey jerky, Powerbar product, CEP compression socks, Meb’s book “Run to Overcome” and Skechers running shoes!  It was the best raffle prize I ever received. Thanks so much, Skechers and the raffle gods! Now I have even more motivation to train my best.

Dashing Whippets at the Oakley Mini 10K

Dashing Whippets at the Oakley Mini 10K

Get Outside Governor's Island 10K
Get Outside Governor’s Island 10K

Front Runners Pride Run 5-miler

Front Runners Pride Run 5-miler

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Empire State Building Run-Up (Part 2) and Happy Lunar New Year!

[ESBRU recap continued from Part 1]

I'm ready to run up this thing!

I’m ready to run up this thing!

So, the funny thing about the Empire State Building Run-up was that I didn’t know what to eat beforehand for an 8pm race. I had a big lunch of sticky rice with chicken at 12pm, followed by a Potbelly Italian sandwich around 2:30pm, just to keep my salt levels up. I hydrated all day like it was my job. I drank Nuun electrolyte drink and plenty of water, to prepare for the dry air in the stairwell. I ate a KIND brand granola bar the hour before the race, just so I could have something in my stomach, but I didn’t want to eat anything that might make me hurl! (I usually never think of the worst-case-scenario, but see–told you I was nervous).

Me with my coworkers Daphne and Sean

Me with my coworkers Daphne and Sean

I have been asked, how could I be nervous about running a 0.2 mile race (a quarter mile straight up, fighting gravity) when I’ve run 24-hour races before? Well, it was uncharted territory for me–I had never climbed up 86 floors in one attempt before. It is quite different from running a few miles for practice and then running the full distance in a race. I don’t do well with acute pain. Indoor track had been my weakness back in high school, since I didn’t take well to the wheezing and bloody, dry feeling when I sprinted over short distances.

Ok, deep breath, Lisa. You can do this! I kept picturing my heart giving out somewhere around the 76th Floor, and me collapsing as runners stepped over me. This positive visualization thing is NOT working.

Around 6pm the same day, I head to a cool event celebrating National Women’s Day at Niketown. I ran into my friend Evelyn there. I entered the raffle for a chance to win a Nike Fuelband or a pair of Nike Running sunglasses, but unfortunately I had to leave before the winner’s name was drawn. My name was on the raffle ticket, so I told Evelyn to try and claim the prize on my behalf if they called my name, since I had to head to the Empire State Building early for packet pick-up. Around 6:50pm, Evelyn texts me and says,

“Hey. You won.”

“!”

Are you kidding?? There were at least 50 other women there! Wow!!

Luckily, I didn’t have to run back to Niketown–the nice Nike people let Evelyn choose a badass pair of sunglasses on my behalf.

My raffle prize: Nike women's running sunglasses. Thanks Evelyn!

My raffle prize: Nike women’s running sunglasses. Thanks Evelyn!

I was ecstatic. The night was off to a good start!

So I get to the staging area on the second floor, and even at 7:00pm (an hour before race time), the place was throbbing with energy. A DJ was spinning music, adding to the party atmosphere. I take the requisite pre-race photos with friends, and I’m happy to bump into my friends Helen and fellow Marathon Maniac Jackie!

Jackie's friend (left), Jackie (center) and me

Jackie’s friend (left), Jackie (center) and me

Wams and me pre-run-up

Wams and me pre-run-up

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Earlier in the day, my friend Shannon provided me an awesome list of ESBRU tips, including:

1) Use your arms as much as possible to pull yourself up the railings

2) Running the landings/flat parts

3) Breathe in through your nose and mouth quickly to give your lungs maximum capacity

4) Note that the first 50 floors goes by very quickly, but the last 36 floors have high ceilings and it seems to go on forever.

Thanks for the tips, Shannon! I also was told by Daphne to chew gum or take cough drops, because the air is super dry. I picked up my awesome tech shirt, a drawstring bag, and my bib, and I chat with my friends a bit to calm my nerves.

At 8:00pm, the pros were off. Later, I was told that a pair of Aussies won the men and women’s races, respectively. More on their insane finish times later. Read about the pro stair-climbers in this NY Times article. They don’t mess around.

At around 8:05pm, the media heat went off. My friend Brian was coaching Kelly Ripa on her run-up. As a result, he got an awesome shout-out on Kelly’s talk show, and he also appears in the last 10 minutes of Live! with Kelly and Michael here.

You can see a glimpse of Kelly Ripa (bib 300). She was high-fiving participants.

You can see a glimpse of Kelly Ripa (bib 300). She was high-fiving participants.

At 8:15pm, my heat starts lining up. For some reason I’m placed in the first heat, which either implies I’m really fast (ha!) or they knew I just wanted to get this over with (probably). In any case, I was excited to finally get going. This will be my first time ever on the Empire State Building observation deck! My friend Ben was there to support and take photos. Thanks, Ben!

Lisa pre-run-up. Photo by Ben Ko.

Lisa pre-run-up. Photo by Ben Ko.

We wait about 10 minutes in the second floor corrals, then we’re led to the first floor where the start line is located. We’re waiting around for about 15 minutes. I had already eaten two of my three cough drops already. Oops! I was wondering what the delay was, and then finally I saw: they were spacing runners five seconds apart. It was a time-trial; they lined up the athletes single file, they gave you the signal to go, then you went up the staircase individually. It was a lot safer this way–the pros have to sprint for the small doorway, and usually there are elbows being thrown. Luckily I didn’t have to worry about that. The event director gave us last minute instructions: “Folks, remember that once you enter the stairwell, there’s only one way out–you must go UP the stairs. Do not go DOWN the stairs, go UP.” That made me chuckle. I guess someone had tried to go down…

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Finally, around 8:50pm it was my turn. Ready, set, go!

I sprint towards the doorway into a gunmetal-gray stairwell. It’s pretty narrow, only wide enough for about two people. I climb up the stairs two at a time, and around the 10th floor I’m already breathing heavily. I pass a few people on the way up, and everyone’s really polite about it. I whisper ” ‘Scuse me,” because I have no breath left to talk! It feels like a jail (or a really old public school)–most of the doors are shut, the stairwell is drab, and all I can hear is the echoing of feet above me. I try to run the landings at first, but at the 20th floor I’m already struggling. I didn’t want to pull out my camera to take photos because I was aiming for under 20:00, and that would have wasted precious time.

I noticed that there were cheery Empire State Building employees intoning the destination every 10th floor so that you could keep track. When you’re flying up the stairs as fast as you can, it’s hard to read the numbers. I loved the employees! They looked so chipper in their maroon uniforms and were the only source of motivation in this dead zone. I reach a water station somewhere around the 30th floor (I could be wrong). My legs start feeling dead, but at least they’re not hurting. My lungs feel like they’ve aged five years by breathing in all the dust. My coworker Gordon comes up behind me and she shouts encouragingly, “This is nothing! You can do it!” as she speeds by. She’s an amazing runner–I have no clue how she had the energy to cheer. The cough drop feels like sandpaper in my dry mouth. Crazy!

40th floor…

I start feeling dizzy. I no longer care whom I pass or who passes me. I felt so lethargic. “This is hell on earth,” I think. “Why, why would anyone voluntarily do this??”

50th floor…

I remember Shannon’s words. The higher floors do feel like they take forever. I was desperate to get some fresh air–my brain felt like it was cotton. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so bad. Maybe it’s because stair-climbing is the most masochistic sport ever.

60th floor…

I slow down a lot. I feel like I was going to faint if I went any faster. Slow. And. Steady. I don’t want to die….

70th floor…

I start to cough. My vision starts to get blurry…so close, hang in there…

80th floor…

I trudge up the stairs and I can feel a slight wind. There’s fresh air! One of the stairwell doors is propped open and the breeze gives me hope. An ESBRU employee yells “you got this!”

86th floor…

Like a lost hiker in the desert staggering towards a mirage, I shift my tired legs into a run towards the observation deck door. The volunteers and staff are clapping and cheering as the runners emerged, dazed, and run a victory lap around the deck. The finish line is illuminated and the city is a beautiful carpet of lights beneath our feet. I made it! I have conquered the Empire State Building Run-Up!

Exhausted

Exhausted

Here were my final results:

Net time for 86 floors (1,561 steps): 20:35

Overall: 379/726

Gender Place: 93/248, Age Place: 29/69

For comparison purposes, the first-place male, Mark Bourne, finished in 10:12. The women’s winner, Suzy Walsham, finished in 12:05. They are jaw-droppingly hardcore. Read about the results here.

My friend Chad, who was working the finish line

My friend Chad, who was working the finish line

It was cold, and the staff and volunteers were trying to usher me inside. “Wait!” I said, “I need to take more pictures!” My brain was really addled and I needed the fresh air. I breathed deeply and just enjoyed the view. Then, reality set in and I realized it was about 30F and I was in shorts and singlet. Plus, I needed to get my medal inside.

The view was definitely worth it. It’s beautiful at night.

View from Empire State Building, 2/6/13

View from Empire State Building, 2/6/13

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The finish line

The finish line

All the volunteers and staff were fantastic. Once I went inside, I saw tons of volunteers eager to hand us our medals. The medal is gorgeous!

ESBRU finisher medals

ESBRU finisher medals

I got my medal and took a few more photos before heading down in the elevator. I had to take one with a fabulous ESB staff member:

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I went back down in the elevator and was very happy to have post-race plans to look forward to. My friends were waiting to celebrate with me at Arirang Noodle restaurant in Korea town. Thanks so much to everyone who came out and made me feel special! Congrats also to Wams and my fellow stair runners who completed the race!

Me and Wams at Arirang

Me and Wams at Arirang

A few of the lovely people who came to celebrate at Arirang

A few of the lovely people who came to celebrate at Arirang

I ordered a delicious bowl of chicken and handmade noodles in soup. It was super delicious.

Chicken noodle soup at Arirang, Korean-style

Chicken noodle soup at Arirang, Korean-style

My head felt funny, as if it were stuffed with cotton, and unfortunately this feeling persisted for two days! I also was sneezing non-stop for two days, and I’d “almost-sneeze” and feel even worse because I couldn’t get it out. I later found out that the likely cause was the thinner air and slight air pressure change at the top of the building, which explained why I felt so bad starting around the 40th floor. There was also a lack of oxygen and poor ventilation in the stair well. This is an awesome, unique race, but just be prepared for some challenges that you can’t really train for! For me, the hardest part was the dry air and lack of oxygen. Luckily, everything returned to normal in a few days.

Thanks everyone for your support and positive energy before, during and after the race!

Last but not least, thanks to Team Refuel for providing my awesome jersey, and to Shamrock Farms and Team Refuel for the Rockin’ Refuel chocolate milk that I devoured at home post-race! The chocolate milk helped me recover, and my legs weren’t even sore the next day.

Thanks Rockin' Refuel!

Thanks Rockin’ Refuel!

Happy Lunar New Year!

I want to wish everyone a happy Year of the Snake in 2013! I celebrated with a family dinner in a restaurant in Brooklyn. It was great seeing my mom’s side of my family, and my little cousin Fion even baked a beautiful cake for the occasion!

Lunar New Year is one of my favorite holidays, because the focus is on family and sharing a meal together. Sure, there are also lucky red envelopes, but that’s just a bonus. I wish all my friends health and happiness in the coming year!

Beautiful fondant cake baked by Fion!

Beautiful fondant cake baked by Fion!

My aunt got me these cute Disney Princess lucky red envelopes...

My aunt got me these cute Disney Princess lucky red envelopes…


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Three new races, Madonna Concert and Fashion’s Night Out

Wow—it has been a busy two weeks since I last wrote. But, true to form, I have not been resting on my laurels! Since the Color Run, I have run a few “shorter” races to vary my running schedule as I gear up for my next two big races, the Ragnar Relay DC on 9/21 and the Marine Corps Marathon on 10/28. I have run the Back to Football 4-miler, the New Haven 20K road race, and the Great Cow Harbor 10K.

The next race after the Color Run was a weeknight race, the Back to Football 4-miler in Central Park on 8/30! I had a blast, got to meet football legend Boomer Esiason, and ran a solid race (34:22, or 8:36 pace), helping the Dashing Whippets women win third place. It was my first team medal (I was the 4th scoring member out of 5), so I was thrilled. Right after the race, I went to a foodie event called Brisketlab and enjoyed a big plate of Brisket from Daniel Delaney BBQ. Yum!!

 

Me and the Vince Lombardi trophy–go Giants!!

Me and football great Boomer Esiason at the Back to Football 4-miler

On Labor Day weekend I ran the Stratton Faxon New Haven 20K Road Race, my first 20K ever! I like doing a new distance because I can automatically set a personal best. It was a gorgeous day for running, and we even got finisher medals! I ran a 1:54:35, or 9:17 pace. I was happy with my time, considering the slow recovery I had from the 100-miler.

I love the Doonesbury illustration on the medal by Garry Trudeau!

That same day, I headed back into Manhattan from New Haven and then went to the US Open for the first time ever. I got to see the Williams sisters play in tennis doubles (against Victoria Azarenka and someone else) on one of the smaller courts (such a cool, intimate experience), then I headed to Arthur Ashe stadium an hour later to see Andy Murray win his match against a Canadian tennis player (sorry, I’m such a novice—the opponent’s name escapes me). Arthur Ashe was overwhelmingly huge.

 

Serena Williams at the US Open!

It was my first time at the US Open!

On Thursday, 9/6/12 I enjoyed Fashion’s Night Out with Jacqueline and Christie, getting free stuff and getting our nails done while gallivanting around town in stylish dresses and fascinators. The highlights of the night were going to Henri Bendel, getting a Swarovski crystallized iPhone case with purchase, going to Mulberry for manicures, tote bags and elderflower soda, and going to Diesel for drinks, tote bags, and photo ops.

Mulberry FNO tote. The other side had a hairy gold monster on it.

Jackie and I enjoyed FNO for two hours before heading to the Madonna concert (MDNA Tour) at Yankee Stadium! We got there at 9pm, an hour late, but Avicii was still spinning and we made it in time for the best song, “Le7els.” Madonna finally took the stage around 10:20am and OMG the opening scenery was so dramatic and good. The stage was set up like a huge cathedral, with massive wrought iron gates that slowly opened to reveal Madge herself. She started with her new song “Girl Gone Wild,” and then sung favorites like “Celebration,” “Vogue,” and “Like a Prayer.” I was so glad I went to the concert—it was my first time watching Madonna live and I was in awe the whole time. Her set lasted from 10:20pm-12:30pm but I had to leave at midnight because I was so exhausted from the week’s events.

 

Me (right) and the ever-stylish Jackie in our fascinators at Yankee Stadium for the Madonna concert

Madonna concert!

This past weekend, I visited my friend Emily R’s family in Northport, Long Island. They have a beautiful oceanfront home and it was an amazing place to relax and get away from the city for a bit. I stayed over a night and then we got ready to run the Great Cow Harbor 10K on Saturday, 9/15. It was an awesome, well-organized race with views of the ocean and a world-class field. I just tried to have fun with it and enjoy the experience, and I ended up being really happy with my 53:13 effort on a hilly course. The weather was overcast and perfect for running, and there was an awesome post-race festival with tons of food and beer! I was proud of Emily for her great personal best, and it was a joy to run with her parents (her mom ran her first race ever!) and her younger sister Anna! After the race, Emily and I made some delicious toasted pecan and banana pancakes, potato salad and corn salad. Then I jumped on their backyard swing! What an amazing end to a great summer.

Post-finish with Emily’s family!