Lisa Runs on Ramen

— running 26.2 and having foodie adventures too!


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50th marathon milestone and the Chevron Houston Marathon with Skechers!

It has been a crazy winter for everyone in the Northeast–snow upon snow! I’ve had a bunch of life changes recently (all great ones)–so this has been my first post in awhile. I moved from Brooklyn to Queens and I’m loving it, and I recently started a new job! Life is good. Another recent development is that I reached a big milestone–I completed 50 marathons since I started running races in November 2005!

Rewind back to December 20, 2014–my friend and fellow Skechers ambassador Otto Lam put on a low-key, invite-only race called the Bryan Court 100. I was honored to be a part of this invitational ultramarathon–which was 37.2 miles (60K), or 100 loops of a cul-de-sac in New Jersey. Sounds crazy, right? Well it was, but it was also a lot of fun!

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Every lap was .33 miles, and there was an aid station for each lap so I took a lot of eating breaks and bathroom breaks. I knew most of the runners there so it felt like one big party. Thanks to all the volunteers counting laps, and Juergen, Otto and Louisa for hosting!

I ended up placing second female overall, which was a nice surprise! I felt like I ran steadily the whole time–my official time was 8:08 and there were 33 participants total–I was in great company with incredible ultrarunners, so it felt challenging the whole time! The best part of the race was that at the end, finishers and participants received a beautiful buckle designed by Grammi Lee. It’s one award that I will treasure forever!

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My wonderful friends also got me a beautiful chocolate ganache cake with “50” numerical candles on it–I loved it! Thanks Juergen and Otto!! I’m truly lucky to have been surrounded by so many friends.

Chevron Houston Marathon

Fast forward to January 18 when I ran the Chevron Houston Marathon. Thanks to my awesome sponsor Skechers Performance for my race entry and for the opportunity! I had a wonderful AirBnB stay in Houston, and my host even drove me to the start of the race! I highly recommend AirBnB for seasoned travelers, especially if you are only in the area for 1-2 days for a race. I flew in on Saturday afternoon and caught the race expo before closing time. It was a nice expo with a huge Skechers booth selling merchandise, other booths selling race fuel and running gear, and more! I even bought a medal rack (finally) that has the quote “She believed she could, so she did.” I’m in love with it! It’s simple but it’s an inspiring mantra that I try to live by.

Here’s me at the expo:

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I’m rocking the same singlet as the one the elite athletes (like Meb) wear! after the expo, I headed to the Grove for a pre-race cocktail party, courtesy of Skechers. There were passed hors d’ouvres and beverages, mini burgers, cheese plates, and more. I got to meet other Regional Skechers Brand Ambassadors (most from the Houston area), and some really awesome people from Skechers corporate. Most exciting though, was when Meb stopped by the party. He’s already met me a few times, but I always re-introduce myself anyway. He totally remembered me! We chatted a bit about the race, and he was friendly as always. So honored to be on Meb’s team!

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Rooftop deck at the Grove

Rooftop deck at the Grove

Afterward, I got Mexican food at Guadalajara del Centro–not my usual pre-race meal (I prefer Italian), but I don’t regret it at all! The Italian restaurant closest to the expo was all booked up, so I tried Mexican food in Houston for dinner–definitely a must-do! The complimentary chips and salsa were so amazing–the chips were paper-thin, fresh and super crunchy. I got a chicken fajita plate and it was stellar as well. Good night Houston!

Race day

I wore these bad boys to run in:

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They are the Skechers GoRun Ride 4’s. I actually didn’t have much time to break them in, but I wasn’t worried because I’ve run in similar shoe models before. I felt a little nervous pre-race because I was down there by myself, but my AirBnB host said he would be out cheering with some friends! The George Brown Convention Center was race central–you drop off your gear inside and the race ends there as well. It’s massive! Logistically, having the expo, start and finish in the same area is a runner’s dream. I lined up at the start, and in minutes we were off! The race announcer even called out my name!

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The race is really flat, and it runs through pretty much all of Houston, including Rice University (my friend Rob’s alma mater)! The weather was awesome too, so I got super-lucky. I met another Skechers ambassador (from Houston) who gave me a shout-out–he was so friendly but I couldn’t remember his name! That was a cool moment. There were a lot of cafes and shops that we ran by–I always make a mental note to check it out later. There were a lot of people running the Aramco Houston Half-marathon simultaneously, so the course was crowded but not overwhelming.

The aid stations were really well-stocked, and the volunteers were amazing! I tried to thank as many of them as I could. I also ran into Ronald McDonald along the way and HAD to take a picture of him and his red shoe car.

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I also saw cows dressed in costumes that said “Eat more Chik’n” (from Chik-fil-A), so that made me laugh too. There was a ton of entertainment on the course, and I was really amazed at how well-organized everything was.

I crossed the finish line feeling strong in 4:34:08. I was really happy with my result, since it was a brutal winter to train through!

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I also met some really great people in the post-race recovery area, which was stocked with tons of hot food, coffee, chocolate milk (I’m also sponsored by Team Chocolate Milk), ice cream, fruit and more! I met some “streakers” who ran the Houston Marathon for 16 years or more, as well as Cherry from Golden Triangle Strutters, who recognized me from Team Chocolate Milk. Seriously, the post-race area was one of the best I’ve ever seen!

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Final results:

Net time: 4:34:10

Overall place: 3826/7132

Gender Place: 1253, Division Place: 202

Of course, I had to take an #Ottolamming picture for my friend Otto (he always gives his all in every race and collapses in exhaustion):

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People asked me if I was ok, haha. Thanks for a great race, Houston, and thanks to Skechers for the opportunity! Readers–add the Chevron Houston Marathon to your list of must-do’s!

 


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TGNY 100: running NYC on foot in 26 hours

On June 21, I had the pleasure of being a part of the “Class of 2014” in The Great New York Running Exposition 100-miler, or the TGNY 100. Ever since I had paced my friend Juergen last year for 26 miles, I was inspired and wanted to run it myself one day. After my DNF at the Bear 100 mile last year in Utah (dropped out at mile 61), a part of me was aching to prove to myself that I could run 100 miles for a second time, to relive that amazing feeling when I finished my first one at the Beast of Burden Summer 100 in 2012. I am an NYC native, and I couldn’t wait for the chance to run through my hometown. The course started in Times Square, went up to Inwood, into the Bronx, through Orchard Beach, through Randall’s Island, Astoria, Alley Pond Park, Kew Gardens, and then down to Broad Channel and Rockaway Beach, Sheepshead Bay (Brooklyn), Bensonhurst, the Brooklyn Bridge, and finally through SoHo and ending in Times Square. It was an awesome course.

I had an all-star team of pacers to support my journey–Ken, Tiffany, and Shane. I knew I couldn’t let them down, and Shane had promised that he wouldn’t let me drop out early at the 100K mark. On Tuesday before the race, Ken, Tiffany and I strategized at Num Pang Sandwich Shop. Ken would pace me for miles 36-51 from Astoria to Alley Pond Park, then Tiffany would pace me from mile 51 (Alley Pond Park) until the 100K mark (62 miles) at Forest Park, and finally, Shane would pace me from 100K to the finish line in Times Square. I am so fortunate to have my pacing team behind me, and I know that my race wouldn’t be possible without them.

Race Day (6/21/14)

I had a goal to finish the race within 28 hours, which would be a PR for me (my best time was 28:23) and would give me a cushion before the 30-hour cutoff. I was feeling jittery the night before, picking out my outfit and not getting enough sleep because of my anxiety. I wore my Team Refuel/Got Chocolate Milk jersey and Skechers GoRun Ride 3’s, my most trusty gear and representing my awesome sponsors. Shane and I took the train to the start at 5:00 am to Times Square. Funnily enough, the Solstice Yoga in Times Square was the same day so there were people setting up for that event. I saw a lot of friends milling about pre-race, and my friends Donald and Karen were volunteering! Jackie and her family were there–Jackie’s sister planned it as her bachelorette party of sorts, getting a bunch of friends to crew her and surprising Jackie with a veil! It set the tone for the race to be awesome.

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Photo credit: OhSnapper Photography/Richard Chung

All the runners got tech shirts and glow-in-the-dark wristbands instead of bib numbers. I was “bib number” 10, pretty cool. I had two water bottles, a Nathan running pack stuffed with food, and a printout of the turn-by-turn instructions. I was ready. I used the bathroom at McDonald’s last minute with a bunch of other runners, posed for pics, and then we were off!

Me, Jackie and Robin during the TGNY 100. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Me, Jackie and Robin during the TGNY 100. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Miles 1-25:

The course wound through familiar territory–Central Park and Riverside Drive at the beginning. We saw Mary volunteering and she made us blueberry bread, yum! I ran with Jackie and Robin for about 15 miles, then I felt like my pace was a bit too fast, so I hung back and ran alone for a little bit. Luckily, I found that Scott and Lucy were around my pace, and they were kind enough to direct me to where I needed to go and I ran with them for a while. In the Bronx, we found the place where garbage trucks were “sleeping.” Such a random sight!

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Running through Hunts Point near the Bruckner Expressway was emotional for me. I was a corps member with City Year (Americorps) right when I graduated college, and I served as a mentor/tutor at MS 302 in the South Bronx. I reflected on my year of service and mentally saluted the Bronx in my head for giving me a very meaningful first job.

I was most worried about getting lost for the first 36 miles before my first pacer (Ken) picked me up. Luckily, that didn’t happen. One of the most memorable stretches was running in Pelham Bay Park towards Orchard Beach. It was a beautiful sight–I didn’t get to hang out, but there were awesome indoor public bathrooms! You learn to appreciate the little things when you run a 100!

Lulu and Joe were volunteering at the aid station, which we saw twice at mile 21 and 25. I was so happy to see them! Seriously, thank you to ALL the volunteers. This race wouldn’t be possible without you.

Me, Ken and Yossi around mile 51

Me, Ken and Yossi around mile 51

Miles 26-51:

At mile 26, I was feeling good. Then I remembered I had 74 miles (roughly 3 marathons left to go). Darn. I would say the hardest part was running for a full workday, looking at my watch, and then still knowing that I had a long way to go. My strategy for this race (which I highly recommend) was to run from aid station to aid station, then pacer to pacer (luckily, there were 18 aid stations and 3 amazing pacers waiting for me). I broke the race down into 4 digestible pieces of 25 miles each.

One tough part was in the middle of the day, running up a long uphill bridge from Randall’s Island to Queens. Most New Yorkers don’t know that Randall’s Island exists. The special thing about the TGNY was that I ran through places filled with memories for me. When I was a student at Stuyvesant High School, I ran on the cross country and track teams. They built the shiny Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island my senior year (for our track meets), and I dabbled in the 800m and 2000m steeplechase that year. I wasn’t very fast. I think my 17-year-old self would be proud of the runner I have become.

Couldn't resist snapping a selfie around mile 35.5

Couldn’t resist snapping a selfie around mile 35.5

At the mile 37 aid station, I got a second wind in the form of my dear friend Ken. For those of you who know Ken, he is a ball of energy, just what I needed! I was running slightly behind schedule and reached mile 37 around 1:00pm, an hour behind my very optimistic schedule (I had hoped for 12pm). Ken was glad to see me in one piece, and immediately asked me what I needed. He very kindly brought a battery pack to charge my phone–what a luxury!

I saw Kino at the aid station too, said hello, and I was on my way. I remembered pacing Juergen in this section in Astoria, so I was glad to be in familiar territory. Ken kept me going at a solid pace, but I did shuffle my feet a little. It was a very hot part of the day and I had been awake since 3:00am, so I was pretty tired already. The miles did float past after awhile–Ken kept making sure that I was eating and drinking regularly. We even stopped by a grocery store where he bought me some gum and a juicy peach! The gum would save me much later.

At World’s Fair Marina (mile 41), we saw Bee, Talisa, and Steven’s mom volunteering. I was so happy to see them! They had an amazing, well-stocked aid station. They had onigiri (rice balls) and fresh watermelon for us. I felt like I was in heaven. Thanks guys!

The next 10 miles ran through Flushing and residential streets. The concrete was devilish–it made my feet feel heavy and my turnover was not as good. Although the course is mostly flat, the cement is killer and is one reason why this race can be quite difficult. My second pacer and teammate Tiffany was running into traffic issues commuting to the 51-mile mark, but luckily it looked like we would be right on schedule for her to pick me up for pacing at Alley Pond Park in Queens.

Mile 51, Alley Pond Park. Photo: Ben Ko

Mile 51, Alley Pond Park. Photo: Ben Ko

Tiffany was bringing me my favorite treats: Harmless Harvest Coconut Water, Kind Bars, and ibuprofen! Well, the first two are my favorites–the third one was for emergencies only. It was a relief to be drinking something else other than Nuun or Gatorade soon. See? I told you I have the best pacers and friends!

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When I saw Tiffany, I cracked a big smile. We were wearing matching Oakley shades that we had bought the week before! I had met her recently at the Ragnar Cape Cod, and here she was running 10 miles with me only a month later. Runners are pretty amazing people.

Miles 52-62 (100K)

I was still feeling pretty good, but I knew that the next 10 miles would be difficult. I had to make sure I kept fueling and stay at a conservative pace. We had seen Jackie’s puppy, Yossi, at previous aid stations so that lifted my spirits too! Tiffany and I chatted about past and future races, and it seemed to be just a regular training run in the park.

We ran through Kissena Corridor Park and saw Helen, Rob K. and Yossi! Puppies at aid stations? What a bonus perk for this race!! Me and Tiffany were really excited to see Yossi, can you tell?

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The next stretch in Flushing Meadows Corona Park seemed interminable. I had run in the park many times before, but my muscles felt pretty destroyed by this point so I was running pretty slowly. I stopped to use the bathroom and it was tough to resume running. The 100K mark loomed tantalizingly close, but still so far. We ran by the Kew Gardens F train stop, and Forest Park was just beyond that. I drank coconut water and took some ibuprofen to make my muscles stop protesting. It worked–at least for now. I only take ibuprofen during 100-milers–I generally avoid it otherwise.

Miles 63-90

Finally, with Tiffany’s encouragement, I reached the 100K mark! We were pretty much on target with 14:31 for our split, only 1 minute beyond my hoped-for 100K split. I bid adieu to Tiffany and said hello to Shane, who was my secret weapon pacer for 38 miles. He has finished a 135-miler twice (the Arrowhead 135) so I really had no reason to complain during my 100!

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I sat down for about 20 minutes to pop a blister, eat a few bites of pizza and sweet potato, and change my shirt. I was afraid of sitting down too long and not getting up. I also had a “Mamma Chia” energy snack (similar to applesauce), but that was my whole dinner. Looking back, I should have eaten the entire pizza slice and consumed more calories–I definitely felt an energy deficit later on.

I saw Paula, Cheryl, Michelle, Alison and so many cheery, familiar faces at 100K! It helped boost my spirits and I knew that I wanted to finish and make them proud. Shane and I left the aid station and quickly got back on track.

We were running through the Howard Beach neighborhood–we ran by Vincent’s by the Bay, my friend Rob’s (Rob Petrocelli’s) favorite Italian restaurant. He passed away last year, and I thought of him as I ran by and prayed that he would help guide me to the finish as well (miss you, Rob!). Shane had paced this stretch with Juergen last year and I knew that I wouldn’t get lost under his watch.

He was a brisk pacer, and he didn’t want me to walk much. It was much better to have him there so I wouldn’t slack off. As dusk fell, I felt more and more lethargic, but I had one goal only: to get to the finish. We reached Adabbo Bridge aid station and there was a lone volunteer. We checked in, and as we crossed the bridge, we saw a magnificent pink sunset. There were fishermen hanging around the bridge, and they curiously glanced up at us runners.

Mile 71: We reached the Rockaway Beach aid station, and I slowed down a lot. Shane pretty much commanded me to eat some trail mix, as I complained of nausea and not wanting to eat another granola bar. I really wished I had packed some more savory snacks in my pack, as I didn’t want anything sweet. It was right around here that I started feeling sick. I had to go to a bar in Broad Channel to use their bathroom. Luckily, they didn’t ask questions about my running attire and let me right in. Broad Channel feels like a small, sleepy beach town–it’s quaint! Shane told me not to dawdle too long, as he had set a goal for me to reach mile 75 by midnight.

Mile 75: Jacob Riis Park–there were two lovely volunteers who were originally from London. I remembered I loved hearing their accents, haha. One was a past participant of the TGNY 100, and he offered us cookies and chocolate pudding. It was starting to get a bit chilly, and I wanted to do nothing except lie down. My body was literally going into sleep mode. On the bright side, we reached mile 75 at 11:30pm! I had run roughly 3 marathons in 18.5 hours–definitely something to be happy about.

Mile 80: Around Miles 77-79, Shane and I were running in the pitch dark to Brooklyn. We nearly took a wrong turn, but luckily we found our way after some fumbling around in the dark. I literally couldn’t eat another granola bar without wanting to puke. My skin felt clammy, and I just felt weird in general. I couldn’t tell if I was drinking too much water or not taking in enough salt–possibly both. I saw my friends Annette and Jess, and Jayne and her daughters (Jackie’s family), and told them I felt horrible. I sat down for a few minutes while Jess handed me chicken broth and pretzels. Shane told me to eat some potato chips. I just wanted the terrible feeling to pass!

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The next few miles after 80 seemed the longest ever. Around 2am, we reached the “boring stretch” that Shane had warned me about. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge loomed far off in the distance for a good 5 miles, and we had to run toward it and under it. I stopped to use the bathroom about every 45 minutes because of my digestive issues. It was bad. We see a man with a bike, green lights flashing and loud techno music blaring, all by himself near the bridge. It was comical, but if I was alone I probably would have been scared! Shane and I walk for most of the 5 miles, with a few short runs in between. I felt blisters forming under my feet, and it became super painful to run and walk.

As the sun finally starts to rise, we are approaching the Leif Ericsson park at Mile 90, where my friend/pacer Ken was volunteering. He had gone to a wedding after pacing me, and he promised to wait at the aid station for me in a full suit. I saw him, gave him a quick hug, and told him I was feeling really bad. He gave me a bag of Lay’s cheesy garlic bread chips and it cheered me up a bit after a few bites.

Miles 91-100

My blisters pretty much reached a crisis point by mile 91, so I speedwalked most of the last 10 miles as best as I could. We were running through my beloved Park Slope, Brooklyn, and I couldn’t even enjoy it because I was in so much pain. I was over-hydrated, and I had to stop and use the bathroom every 45 minutes for the last 3 hours. It was torture. To make things worse, I hadn’t eaten anything for about 3 hours because I simply couldn’t eat another gel or granola bar. I felt too full from the water and I only wanted salty foods. My energy levels plummeted. I later found out that I had 5 blisters on my right foot (including on the sole) and 1 on my left, so the pain was very much real. Why are you doing this to me?? My feet seemed to ask…

I thought of all the people who had taken time out of their day to watch me succeed…

I couldn’t let them down. I wouldn’t.

I thought of my first DNF last year at the Bear 100 in Utah, heartbreaking after running 61 miles in the freezing cold at night all by myself…

I thought of how much I had learned from that and what a different challenge this was for me.

I thought of all the 1038915 crazy reasons why I love running and the way it makes me feel alive, how lucky I was that my body is able to do this.

I reached the aid station at Mile 95 at Borough Hall, Brooklyn, and I had a measly 5 miles left to go. I gave the volunteers a big hug, broke down crying on Mary’s shoulder. She told me I was doing great, and gave me something I could finally eat–a packet of applesauce!!

Shane and I reached the Brooklyn Bridge, finally crossing into Manhattan. I was beyond exhausted, but I dug deep and marveled at how empty the bridge was at 6:45am on a Sunday. There were just a handful of people, but otherwise the bridge was ours. He told me to go ahead and took this photo:

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After a stroll through Chinatown and Soho, I picked up my pace a tiny bit, as my blisters allowed. The pain from them was excruciating–I had been running/walking on them for 20 miles. I knew the last 4 miles like the back of my hand, and I was even going to run past my office! Shane looks at me with a grin and said–“I think you’re going to run a personal best!”

I didn’t want to jinx it, so I just said “Maybe.”

We reach Union Square, and it’s just a mile up Flatiron and to the finish line at 44th and Broadway. There are some pedestrians by now, 7:30am. I thought of how I asked my mom to wait for me at 9am. It occurred to me that I might even finish before she gets there. I run by the Broadway Bites food festival tents set up in Greeley Square, and I distinctly think about them being in my way! I have to run on the sidewalk instead. I am counting down the individual blocks at this point. The flashing lights of Times Square twinkle at me in the distance.

I run by the Ruby Tuesday, under some ugly scaffolding, and I look up at 42nd and Broadway. I hear clapping!

The finish line was 2 blocks sooner than I had thought–last year it was at 44th Street. I smile and run towards my friends and fellow runners who had gathered at the finish.

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Photo credit: Atsede Aemro Selassie

I see Phil, the race director, standing at the finish. He gives me a big hug and hands me the finisher buckle. I thank him and give Shane a hug for running 38 miles with me. I let all the emotions wash over me, and I cry because I can finally stop running!

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Words can’t describe how it feels to finish a 100 miler. It is painful, it is crazy, and it’s pure bliss once you are finally done. I had finished in a time of 26:36:10, a 1 hour and 47 minute improvement from my previous best time! It has been an amazing run.

Lisa’s TGNY 100 stats:

Time: 26:36:10,  Place: 29/35 overall, 9th female

Thank you to everyone who has helped me in this journey–Shane, Tiffany, Ken, all the volunteers, and the co-race directors Phil and Trishul. Thanks to my mom who waited for me at the finish! Also, congratulations to my fellow runners–you are all inspiring.

Thank you to my co-workers and friends who sent me messages of support. It meant the world to me! Now that I am rested and recovered, I can’t wait until my next adventure. I love you, New York!

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I’m a Skechers Ambassador! Plus, Miami Half Marathon and Spring fun

Happy Spring, everyone! April brought torrents of rain down upon NYC, and I’m so glad that May is finally here in full force. I have gained a ton of pacing experience for two half-marathons and a full marathon since I last wrote! I have a few race reports to catch up on–April was a busy time for me as I participated in the Faberge Big Egg Hunt NY and ran in several races, including the More/Fitness Women’s Half (paced the 2:15 group), the Scotland Run 10K, and I paced the Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon 5:10 group! In March, my big weekend was running/pacing the NYC Half and running the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon on consecutive days. It was an exhausting schedule, but I am building up to my two goal races of 2014: the Great New York Running Exposition 100-miler in June, and the Superior 100 miler in Minnesota in September.

The Faberge Big Egg Hunt deserves its own post–the city of New York and Faberge hosted a really cool public art project, where anyone with a smartphone and a camera can participate. Artists, architects, designers and schools created/painted 270 eggs that were scattered around NYC for 3 weeks. During the fourth week, the eggs all nested together in Rockefeller Center! It was magical.

I will try and write more later, but I can quickly sum up my last month and a half in photos:

Me and Jackie after successfully pacing the 2:15 group at the NYC Half!

Me and Jackie after successfully pacing the 2:15 group at the NYC Half!

My medals from the Rock 'n' Roll USA Marathon and NYC Half

My medals from the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon and NYC Half

One of the eggs hidden at Laduree Upper East Side. Artist: Isabelle Arpagian, Egg #85

One of the eggs hidden at Laduree Upper East Side. Artist: Isabelle Arpagian, Egg #85

 

Me and Jackie pacing the More Fitness Half

Me and Jackie pacing the More Fitness Half

Where's Waldo egg?

I found Where’s Waldo egg!

Plus, I have some big news…

I am excited to announce that I was recently selected as a Skechers Performance Brand Ambassador! I am so grateful to Julia, my friend, and Giulli, who believed in me and brought me on. I love how Skechers has been supportive of the local running community by signing up club runners as wear testers, and has sponsored some of my favorite races (the More Fitness Half, pacers of the Long Branch Half Marathon and the Run 10 Feed 10)! I am proud to wear their products  and I highly recommend their GoRun Ultras for runners who are looking for a stable marathon training shoe. Thanks, Skechers!

On February (2/2), I had the joy of running the Miami Half Marathon as a brief vacation before I started my new job. I wore the Skechers Nite Owl shoe (similar to the GoRun Ultra in terms of cushioning), and I ran a 2:16:35 in very hot and humid weather. This was only two weeks after I ran the Beast of Burden Winter 50-miler, so I was happy with my time.

Miami was a much-needed vacation for me, plus I treated it like a culinary/running trip. The Super Bowl was being hosted in NYC the same weekend, so I wanted to get away from the madness, then fly back to NYC to watch the game on TV. It was an ambitious plan.

My first stop was at Pubbelly Sushi in Miami Beach. I had wanted to come here two years ago when my friend Rebekah told me about it, and I finally made it! I highly recommend getting their BigEye Tuna Pubbelly roll–it comes with spicy tuna “arroz pegao,” rocotto cream, and sea salt. It was an explosion of flavors, very unique! I dined at the bar and the staff were very friendly.

Pubbelly Sushi in Miami

Pubbelly Sushi in Miami

 

Spicy Tuna Pubbelly Roll

Spicy Tuna Pubbelly Roll

 

Me with my bread pudding and ice cream at Pubbelly Sushi

Me with my bread pudding and ice cream at Pubbelly Sushi

 

As I was carb-loading for my big race (half marathon), I had to eat more, right? I also got the fried clam roll with cole slaw and lemon, plus chocolate bread pudding and ice cream for good measure. I practically had to roll back to my hotel because I was so full, but it was worth it.

The next day, I went to the Miami Half and Marathon expo at the convention center. Before I met up with my friends Kristen and Colleen, I had to stop by a cute bakery called True Loaf Bakery. Folks, if you haven’t seen this bakery yet and you’re visiting Miami–do yourself a favor and GO. It is a hidden gem, seriously. They bake everything fresh daily, and they are known for their breads and chocolate croissants. The owner is very very nice, and you could watch him at work in the open-air kitchen. I saw him applying a glaze to the un-baked croissants and was transfixed. I’m so glad I stopped by!

It looks like a European-style bakery, minimalist and airy, with plenty of baked goods on the shelves. I ordered the special daily bread, which was peach and walnut. It was a massive loaf and felt like it weighed 3 pounds, and I knew I’d have to share it later! I also ordered one of their to-die-for chocolate croissants. It was honestly the best chocolate croissant I have ever had!

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My super fresh, delicious loaf

My super fresh, delicious loaf

I also stopped by later in the day towards closing time to say hello to the owner and tell him how much my friends enjoyed the bread. He sent me home with a parting gift of some more baked goods. It was really sweet! I will definitely visit again next time I’m in town.

Once I picked up my bib, I got pretty excited for the race. I couldn’t believe I was here! I had planned the whole trip in less than a week, and so I was really glad I came.

Me and Colleen at the expo

Me and Colleen at the expo

 

Me and Kristen at Cara Mia

Me and Kristen at Cara Mia

I met up with Kristen and her group of friends, and we dined alfresco at Cara Mia Trattoria in Miami Beach. See? I told you this trip was all about eating. My penne bolognese was on point–very delicious!

Penne bolognese at Cara Mia

Penne bolognese at Cara Mia

After the expo, I relaxed a bit on the beach, then bought some souvenirs, and decided that I would go to Pubbelly Restaurant (sister to Pubbelly Sushi) for dinner. I saw they had ramen on the menu and decided it was a no-brainer to go!

Pubbelly ramen

Pubbelly ramen

The ramen lemongrass broth was very flavorful, and the BBQ pork belly was silky and tender. It was great for carbo-loading! I dined at the bar and spoke to a couple that had just finished the tasting menu. I was still full from lunch, but they raved about the tasting menu and made me promise to order it next time I was there. Duly noted!

I also got some amazing Shortrib and Corn dumplings with black truffle. It was a very unique item on the menu so I had to try it! I highly recommend this dish.

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Finally, I ended the meal with the mason jar for dessert. It was one of the best desserts I have had in recent memory. I can’t even tell you the ingredients, except there was bruleed ice cream on top. Go for it!

Mason jar dessert

Mason jar dessert

Finally, I was done with my epic meal. Before I turned in for the night, I hung out with a mutual friend, Paul from New York. By the time we were done chatting for the night (he was running the marathon), it was already 11am and I had to get up at 4:30am. Oops. Oh well, no one ever sleeps on vacation!

My friend Kyle very kindly drove me to the shuttle the next morning–thanks, Kyle! It was great seeing a familar face before I boarded the bus.

The start of the Miami Half and Full Marathon

The start of the Miami Half and Full Marathon

I am barely awake in my pre-race photos because it was so early. The official start was around 6am, and there were wave starts to space out the runners. This race is always hot–I regretted not bringing a water bottle because we went almost 3 miles until we reached the first aid station! There were about 20,000 people in the race, so it was massive. Note to self–bring a water bottle for the first few miles next time!

The course was beautiful–mostly flat, but very hot and humid. I was so glad I wasn’t doing the marathon this time! I unfortunately had to catch a shuttle ride I had pre-booked to the airport at around 11:45am, so I was in a rush to finish as well as I could!

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There were fun signs along the course, and crowd support in some areas were good. I was so glad that I chose the half marathon, as it was high 80s and humid–very difficult to run in after a freezing cold winter.

My favorite part was running along the causeway and seeing the cruise ships. There were also cute motivational signs and pineapple on the course!

The Miami Marathon and Half always gives great medals year after year. This year’s was a triple spinner medal! I crossed the finish line in 2:16:35. It wasn’t my best time, but after a 50-miler I will take it!

Finish stats:

Net time: 2:16:35

Overall place: 6045/15458

Gender: 2243/7872

Age: 367/1135

Thank you to Got Chocolate Milk and Skechers for sponsoring me, and see you on a run somewhere fabulous soon!

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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


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Spartan Race NJ: Mud and mayhem

On Saturday, 9/7/13, a bunch of my friends and I participated in the Tri-state Super Spartan race in Vernon, NJ! In fact, our team, Big Daddy, was the largest team with 100+ members strong. It would be my third obstacle race–but I was a bit nervous because obstacle races tend to pack in lots of unpleasant surprises. It’s fun once you get through it, but racing through the unknown is a special kind of torture.

I want to thank Skechers Performance for providing me with awesome Skechers GoRun2 shoes that I used for the race. It was actually good to use a light shoe, as it dried quickly in the water obstacles and was flexible when I had to climb over walls and cargo nets. I got no blisters!!

My friend JC drove me and Suzanne to the race site at Mountain Creek ski resort, 1.5 hours away from NYC. We were assigned to the 11:30 am start wave, but through my experience at the Citi Field Spartan Sprint back in April, wave start times are kind of aribitrary, and you can start in a different wave if you miss yours. Traffic was a nightmare, as there were 2 parking zones: a $40 VIP parking lot ( a ripoff, but the start is across the street) and a further lot 1 mile away that has a free shuttle bus. We parked, and waited 20 minutes in line to get on a shuttle, and by that time it was 12pm already. Oops.

We took the time waiting on line to paint on each other’s faces. Oo-rah!

Once we arrived at the race site, we picked up our packets, put on our timing chips, and dropped off our baggage. The worst part of the race was the pre-race organization, namely bag check. There weren’t enough people staffing the bag check tent, and it took 30 minutes for us to drop off our bags with a volunteer. We missed our tentative 12:30pm race start and opted for the 1:00pm wave instead.

Once we got started, it was a tough climb 1.5 miles straight up the ski slope. The sun was beating down, but it was clear and felt like 75F, so it wasn’t terrible. I’ll detail the obstacles shortly, but the main things that stuck out to me were the camaraderie of the different teams, and the variety of obstacles. I was glad I was running with JC and Suzanne, and we stuck together pretty much the whole time. JC was nervous about the swimming obstacle, but I encouraged him and we both reached the other side of the creek safely. I loved seeing familiar faces on the course, like Shamz, Art, and David. During the 8 foot wall obstacle, a former Marine asked us if we needed a boost, then knelt down while he let us step on his shoulder. There were some really nice people helping others out.

It took me over 3 hours to complete the course, but I had so much fun doing it, and I managed to escape injury. The toughest part for me was the barbed wire crawl–it was a 100m pit of mud, and you can to crawl on your hands and knees under barbed wire for what seemed like an eternity. There was another part where you traversed several pits of mud, then had to dunk your head in muddy water under a wooden partition to emerge across the other side. Ick. The finish line photos say it all!

My final time:

3:13:38

Pace: 21:30/mile

Age group: 132/394

Gender: 567/1469

Overall: 2952/5429

Suz painting JC's face

Suz painting JC’s face

Pros of the race:

– Via a super special discount, we got free race registration and only had to pay $13 insurance. If you volunteer at any Spartan Race, you get a free entry!

– The course was relatively well-organized and well-marked. Most of the volunteers were great, but some stations were understaffed (spear station and baggage check), leading to disgruntled volunteers…

– You get a solid, relatively difficult obstacle race (I would say 7/10 in terms of difficulty, at least for me). There was fire, mud, barbed wire, climbing, and obstacles that required teamwork. What more could you ask for?

-free hi-resolution race photos available for download

– You get a neat headband printed with your race number, so you can be visible in photos.

– medal is heavy and nice

– nice photo ops at the finish line.

-Finish line festival had decent food (that you paid for). There was pulled pork and ice cream

Cons:

– cheap cotton finisher shirt, no race location and date on it (same shirt for all locations)

– If you’re uncomfortable with the unknown, you wouldn’t really like this race. There’s 20+ obstacles in this 8-mile course. Train hard! They site doesn’t really tell you what type of gear or shoes to wear.

– baggage check costs $5 and logistics were a nightmare. It was not an organized line and I waited in line 25 minutes to check my bag

– Spartan races tend to be hard to get to, due to their locations at ski resorts. Allow extra driving/parking time!

Obstacle Highlights (this is not a complete list of obstacles):

– cargo net climb

– inverted wall

-swim across a creek (there were life vests)

– rope climb (this was one I failed at–I got up to 3/4 of the way)

– scaling a wooden wall

– climbing an 8 ft wall

– Tire flips

– “tractor” pull (pull a heavy rock)

– spear throw–if you fail, do 30 burpees (many failed)

– carry a sandbag up and down a steep hill

– the course itself was an obstacle–the first 1.5 miles were completely uphill, up a double black diamond ski slope

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Lisa’s tips for future obstacle races:

– Bring a water bottle. a hand-held one with a grip thing is best–I used one with a rubber bracelet around it so I could tug it with me on my life vest in the water obstacle. There were only 3 water stations in the 8 miles.

-wear shoes that are relatively light with decent tread. Wear shoes that are easy to wash or that you plan on donating afterward–they will get muddy!

– bring shower gel, a change of clothes, and flip flops after the race.

– Go extra early! Many obstacle races have huge numbers of participants and the locations are remote/hard to get to. Allow yourself time for parking/traffic.

I knew at the finish line… that I have the coolest friends ever!!

So what did we do after our epic adventure? We hosed ourselves off in the makeshift “showers,” waited for the shuttle bus, then drove to Edgewater, NJ to eat dinner at the Japanese market, Mitsuwa. It’s the largest Japanese supermarket in the US! I ate a delicious spicy pork ramen at Santoka Ramen in the food court. Yum!! It was the perfect way to reward ourselves after a day of mud and mayhem. On to

the next adventure!

Me with my Skechers GoRun2's

Me with my Skechers GoRun2’s

Spicy pork ramen at Santoka ramen

Spicy pork ramen at Santoka ramen

spartan run

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spartan crew 2


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April races, Spartan Race and London Marathon Part I

I had a very busy month of racing leading up to the Virgin London Marathon. It made for great training, but longer recovery. Here’s what my racing/training calendar looked like:

March 30: Red Hook Criterium 5K, Brooklyn

March 31: 1 hour of rock climbing, Brooklyn Boulders

April 6: Scotland Run 10K, Central Park

April 7: Katonah Run field trip–Leatherman’s Loop 10K course and Fire Tower 6-mile trail run (about 2 hr 45 min of technical trails)

April 13: Spartan Sprint Race, Citi Field 3-miler (lots of CrossFit stuff)

April 14: More Fitness Half Marathon, Central Park

April 21: Virgin London Marathon

April 28: Nike Women’s Half, DC

Needless to say, it was a packed calendar, and I was just focused on not getting injured. Here’s some brief recaps and photos:

Red Hook Crit 5K

This was an awesome nighttime race held in Red Hook, Brooklyn. There were a ton of great runners here, as the top male and female walk away with $1000 prize money. It started at 7pm and was an extremely flat, fast course–4 loops of a 1.25K course by the waterfront. Conditions were perfect, and the Red Hook Lobster Pound truck was parked at the finish. It was great seeing my Dashing Whippets teammates, and it was really fun cheering on the men’s race at 8pm. Thanks to Ben for taking photos, Kenneth for volunteering, and all my wonderful teammates for cheering! I ran my 2nd-best 5K time in 23:34, so I was very happy. Rewarded myself with a buttery Lobster BLT afterward, and stayed to watch the 20K Pro cycling final (the main event). Those cyclists are hardcore!Red Hook Crit 5K

Photo credit: Ben Ko

The Scotland Run

I always have a lot of fun at this race. A few days prior, I was in a photo shoot in Brooklyn Bridge Park promoting the race with some co-workers, and the Scottish government gave us goodie bag filled with a nice tweed bag, a small bottle of Glenlivet, cookies, a hat, and a red kilt! Awesome! I wore the red kilt to the race and it was a hit. It was really cold, but I warmed up towards the end. Thanks Ellen M from the Whippets for pacing with me! I was still a bit fatigued from my March races, but managed to run 53:54. Wearing a kilt was the best part! I did miss the Stoats Oat bars and Iron-bru that they used to give out…not sure what happened to those…

Photo credit: Ben Ko

Photo credit: Ben Ko

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Katonah Trail Run

The day after the 10K, I went to Katonah (50 miles away from NYC) with the NY Trail and Ultrarunning group. Deanna organized the run, and I was super excited to finally get out of the city and run some trails! We were picked up at the train station by the Leatherman Harriers (thank you!) and driven to the trail head. We ran the famous Leatherman’s Loop 10K course, filled with 2 river crossings and mud pits, and lots of climbs. It was a lot of fun. Running at medium pace, we did it in about 1:15. Afterwards, a smaller group of us did the Fire Tower Trail (6 miles), which was rockier and more difficult, and with a wrong turn/getting lost it took us about 1:45. That was three hours of solid trail running, a great way to spend a Sunday.

Photo credit: Shane S.

Photo credit: Shane S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spartan Sprint: Citi Field

This was a tougher 3-mile race than I expected–it was minimal running, 12,000 participants, about 75 burpees, and tons of Crossfit-related workouts. I still had a fun time and I finished the course in 1:05:20. To put it in perspective, the top male finisher was done in 28 minutes, and the top female was probably 10 minutes after that. I had never done a single burpee before that day, so it was tough but having raced so much helped. There was a ton of stair climbing (the Empire State Building Run-Up training helped!), rowing for 4 minutes on machines, jumping rope with a weighted rope, carrying water jugs up and down stairs, cargo nets, scaling a wall horizontally, military-style wall jumps, and stuff with weights. My least favorite thing was the military-style wall jumps because I was close to injuring my ankle when I landed on cement. My favorite things were the stair climbs and agility exercises (scaling a wall sideways and cargo nets). A lot of time was added waiting for certain obstacles, because there were so many people in each heat even though they spaced us out. It was fun, but I’m not sure if I would pay money to do it (normally it’s about $95 but I earned a season pass). Thanks Warren for volunteering, and Shane for coming out to support.

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Photo credit: Spartan Race official photographer

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More Fitness Half Marathon

My muscles were pretty sore after the Spartan Race the previous day, and I was supposed to be tapering for the London Marathon, but I couldn’t miss one of my favorite races! The More Fitness Half was my first half-marathon ever in 2004, and so it was my 9th anniversary of my first half. I remember meeting the great Grete Waitz and Kathrine Switzer at the expo in 2004, and I still have the photos they autographed for me. For this race, I was running on Team Skechers, and they provided me with a pair of sweet, hot pink GoRun2’s and a tech shirt. The running shoes are really light, and pretty comfortable. I like them better than the first edition of the GoRun’s.

I wanted to treat the race as a hard training run and get psyched for London. It’s a somewhat tough, hilly course, going up Cat Hill and Harlem Hill twice, and ending on an uphill. At the finish line, I saw my cousin Jeannie cheering, and I saw my other cousin Lily finishing her first-ever half marathon! Lily and I went out to brunch with some of her friends at Uva, a nice way to celebrate. Congratulations, Lily! Thanks, Skechers, for the chance to run as part of the team!

me and lily

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London Marathon trip, Part I

I was going to be in London from 4/18-4/22, and I wanted to make the most of the trip because it was my first time there since 2008! I had previously traveled to Oxford and London in spring of 2008, and the weather was gorgeous then. I had the same luck this time around–the weather was perfect all 5 days I was there.

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I wanted to make seeing my friends a priority, so I met up with Amanda in Cambridge for a day and had high tea at the Cadogan with Nicholette. I also had to juggle going to the expo and staying rested enough for the marathon, so I had a pretty relaxed itinerary in between.

Friday was my first day of sightseeing, and I was staying in South Kensington. The Victoria and Albert museum is one of my sister’s favorite things in London, so I had to check it out. The museums are all free in London, but this time around there was a special “David Bowie Is” exhibit that was on view from March-August 2013 that was an additional ticket purchase. So I queued up with about 150 other people to wait 40 minutes for my ticket. I’m glad I did, though! In the meantime, I admired the 30-foot glass chandelier in the lobby designed by one of my favorite glass artists, Dale Chihuly. I’m a glass art nerd (I’ve been to the Corning Museum of Glass twice).vicand albert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I saw the David Bowie exhibit, which featured original artworks by him, video installations, and his outlandish/awesome stage costumes. It was a well-designed exhibit and it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in London. Even the Sennheiser audioguide was cool–it automatically played a clip depending on where you were standing in the gallery, no flipping back and forth between tracks required. I ate a delicious lunch of a duck leg with potatoes and vegetables in the beautiful museum cafe.

Next, I headed to the marathon expo at the Excel Centre. I got there at 2:30pm and there were no lines!

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The volunteers were so nice, and all the runners got a black ribbon to wear on marathon day in honor of the Boston Marathon bombing victims. I got my bib number and headed straight to the Adidas store. I allowed myself to splurge a bit on three official marathon pieces: shorts, a zip-up track jacket in the colors of the Union Jack, and a fitted blue running top. As I was heading into the dressing room, my co-worker Gail was coming out of the room! We had planned to meet at 2pm somewhere in the expo but I was afraid of missing my co-workers because I had no working phone. It was a nice little moment of serendipity. I took a quick photo with Daphne and Gail and wished them luck.

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Then I got this neat photo op on the podium:

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After spending less than an hour at the expo, I headed to King’s Cross station to ride the train to Cambridge to see Amanda and her husband Dave. It was cool to get out of London for a little bit. Once I arrived, Dave and Amanda made me feel at home, cooking a delicious glazed teriyaki salmon with veggies and rice. Then, we went to the Tram Depot to meet some of their friends for the evening. It was great to spend time with them.

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The next morning, I woke up with a raspy voice and a strong cough. Oh no!! I had felt the inkling of sickness right before, but tried to ignore it and took vitamin C to help quash it. I think the stress of the week and the lack of sleep from traveling contributed to it. I was worried about how I would feel on race day, but short of a fever I was determined to run. I bought some cold medicine called “Lemsip” (no Tylenol here), took some of that and hoped for the best! I took the train back into London and got into King’s Cross at 10:30am.

Of course, I had to stop by Platform 9 3/4 and get my picture. They now have a Harry Potter shop there! They even have a professional photog and props like a house scarf (I chose Gryffindor) if you wanted to use those. It was a 20-minute queue for the picture.

platform 9

I took a few with my camera, but ended up buying the higher-resolution picture from the shop. I am a sucker for good photo opportunities. Memories are worth it! I took a similar picture of Platform 9 3/4 about five years earlier, but it was in a different location and the setup was less elaborate. There was no line and it was a half-cart sticking out, no owl cage and no props.

I ate some Japanese food and a spicy chicken Cornish pasty (like an empanada) from The Pasty Shop for lunch.

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I bought some chocolates from Hotel Chocolat and just admired the renovated King’s Cross station–it’s beautiful!

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The rest of the day, I checked into the Palmer’s Lodge Hostel (a nice place I stayed at in 2008 and have now returned to!), then went to Knightsbridge to meet Nicholette for tea. I shopped at Harrod’s and bought a delicious pistachio strawberry mousse cake (from famous pastry chef William Curley). It was amazing and worth every pence.

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I met Nicholette for afternoon tea at the Cadogan, and we had a great time catching up after not seeing each other since college! We enjoyed the Chelsea Flower tea blend, some scones with Devonshire clotted cream, sandwiches (egg salad, cucumber, roast beef and mustard, and salmon), a Chelsea bun, a macaron, lemon tart, and other sweets). It was an awesome way to catch up with an old college roommate. Thanks, Nicholette!

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Afterwards, we met up with her friend Paola to shop at Fortnum and Mason for foodie gifts, and to eat dinner. I bought a bunch of tea and cookies at Fortnum and Mason. I saw a cookie that was too pretty to eat:

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All that shopping made us hungry, and we finally headed to Piccadilly Circus and then Chinatown to search for food. We decided on Tonkotsu ramen, just so I can say that I sampled some ramen in London. I had the spicy pork broth ramen with house-made noodles. I was all carbed up and ready to go for the race…sick or not!

tonkotsu

Stay tuned for Part II…and mind the gap (between entries).