Lisa Runs on Ramen

— running 26.2 and having foodie adventures too!


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Lisa’s Spring Marathoning and Yahoo! Health article

Spring in NYC is one of my favorite times of the year–and I’ve been so lucky to have had several pacing gigs and marathons keeping me busy recently!

First, I wanted to start off with the exciting news that I was published in a profile on Yahoo! Health by reporter Jenna Birch. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined as a 15-year-old high school cross-country runner, that my story would be published on Yahoo! I thank my friends, family, and running family for their support. Thanks to Built with Chocolate Milk and Skechers Performance for sponsoring me and providing me with awesome race gear and shoes that I train & race in! I would also like to thank my contact at Yahoo!, Carolyn Wilde, who believed my story was worth telling!

You can read the article, entitled “Meet the 27-year-old who has run 54 Marathons,” here.

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So what else have I been up to? I’ll give a micro-run-down on the many races I have been running:

Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon, 3/14/15

Thanks so much to my sponsors at Built with Chocolate Milk for the opportunity to run this! It was a rainy and cold one–at least it wasn’t windy! Team Chocolate Milk hooked it up with an indoor VIP area at the swanky Intercontinental hotel at the start line. I met up with some teammates, and then braced myself for the rain. Considering that it was medium to heavy rain the whole time (except for the last half-hour), I was pleased with my performance of of 4:49:05 for a full marathon! All the finishers got postage stamp-shaped medals, and full marathon finishers got a sweet Brooks finisher jacket! And of course, I recovered with chocolate milk afterwards. Recovery was super important, since I was running a half marathon the next day!

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NYC Half, 3/16/15

I had the honor of co-pacing the 2:30 group for the United Airlines NYC Half, running through the heart of Times Square! Louisa was my co-pacer, but we led separate groups because there was such a huge field. The weather was perfect–a bit chilly at the end, but a couple of my runners ran with me the whole time, and a bunch crushed their goals! It was a great feeling. I was right on target with a 2:29:10 finish!

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The expo was also a lot of fun–I was honored to be on the pace booth signage alongside my friend Jackie Choi, with photos from last year’s TCS NYC Marathon! I didn’t get to write a blog post about the marathon last year, but Jackie and I have claim to fame running the entire 2015 TCS NYC Marathon in a unicorn costume as the 5-hour pace group leader! We were shown in Bill Cunningham’s Sunday Styles section (11/7/14) at the 0:53 mark in this video.

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Tri-State Spartan Beast NJ 2015

I tackle the Spartan Beast with a bunch of friends and former co-workers–definitely more fun doing it as a team! Mountain Creek is no joke–it is a straight-up ski slope, and we encountered 30+ obstacles and 14+ miles of rough terrain. The worst obstacles, hands-down, were the 300m uphill and 300m downhill climb with a bucket of rocks (for females it felt like 30 lbs, for men probably 45lbs). The bucket had no handle, so you had to awkwardly bear-hug the rocks and slog up the hill. The other tied-for-worst obstacle was the uphill icy barbed wire climb. I had to crawl on ice and rocks on my bare hands and knees to avoid barbed wire. It was very very painful, and I ended up with cuts and bruises that didn’t go away for weeks. Thanks to my teammates for sticking with me!

My finish time was 7:07:42, and I’m damn proud of it!

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New Jersey Marathon, 4/25/15

Louisa and I co-paced the 5:10 group this time! My friends and I rented a house on AirBnB and volunteered at the expo the day prior. My dear friend Otto was the pace group coordinator, so I knew many of the returning pacers and it was like a big party!

We had delicious Rook Coffee twice while we were there, and awesome dinner at Gianni’s Pizzeria-they make an amazing chicken risotto soup and the pasta arrabbiata was phenomenal. Rook Coffee had some of the best cold brew I ever had! I will definitely be going back there.

For the actual race, I was suffering a bit, because I had been battling a 2-month cough. It was due to stress and not resting, but no way was I going to miss the race! I’m stubborn like that. Louisa and I stayed on pace for a 5:09:10, but it was one of the hardest pacing gigs I have done, simply because I was under the weather. Hence, we got together for an #ottolamming photo where we collapse, exhausted on our backs. I love my friends!

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The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K (Bear Mountain),  5/2/15

The NFEC 50K is one of my favorite races of the year–I always reach the finish line utterly spent, my friends are celebrating with a beer, and I see some pretty amazing scenery, all in one day. The race director does a fantastic job, and the course is really well-marked. The schwag doesn’t disappoint–we get a nice North Face tech tee with a custom screen print, a pair of SmartWool socks, a medal, a hot meal, and a free post-race beer!

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The weather was amazing this year–last year was supremely muddy and made for really challenging conditions. So glad this year was “easier.” I was still challenged by the course though–my cough from the previous week still didn’t go away so I went slow and steady at the beginning. I was buoyed by seeing my friends volunteering at various aid stations (thanks!) and sped up towards the end. I ended up with a 12-minute course PR! I will take it. Thanks to Ken Tom and his wife for driving me to the race!

Finish time (course PR), 8:37:02

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Photo by Ken Schuh, Ultra Race Photos

Photo by Ken Schuh, Ultra Race Photos

 

My friends and I met ultrarunner Dean Karnazes at the race festival

My friends and I met ultrarunner Dean Karnazes at the race festival

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Photo courtesy of Elaine Acosta

It has been a busy Spring indeed–with plenty more to come. I am signed up for the Ragnar Relay Chicago, the San Francisco Marathon (7/2015), the Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon (10/2015), the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half (10/2015), and I’m pacing the TCS New York City Marathon again! I have to remember to stay healthy and really take care of my body, especially after battling that cough that plagued me for two months. Until next time, and thanks for reading this far!

 

 

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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

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spartan crew 2


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Mount Beacon, “Bear” Encounter and Restaurant week

Alas, summer has come to an end, but it was a great one filled with eating and running. I can’t believe it’s the month of my big goal race of 2013, the Bear 100! I am flying out to Utah on September 25 and I couldn’t be more stoked. Thanks to Shane, I have a lovely pacer from Utah who is willing to pace from miles 61-85, so that gives me an extra boost of confidence.

This is what I’ll be running from 9/27-9/28. Just looking at it makes my heart race.

Bear 100 (Utah) elevation chart

Bear 100 (Utah) elevation chart

It has been a very hot, humid summer for running, but training runs wait for no one! For the most part, I stuck to a pretty regular running schedule in June and July, but my running tapered off a bit in August because life happened. I definitely didn’t do as many long runs as I should have (in August), but I built a strong base in the spring (15 straight weeks of races) so I have confidence in that.

Mount Beacon

My best/most important workout was going to Mount Beacon with Shane in mid-August. If I do another mountainous ultra, I will definitely have to come here even more. It’s a lovely mountain in Beacon, NY with 1000 ft of elevation gain over roughly one mile. It’s perfect for technical/rocky trail running, hiking, and practicing descents.

We took the train to Beacon, ran 2 miles to the trail head, and then spent 6 hours hiking up and down the mountain multiple times. I did 6 repeats (50-55 minutes roundtrip for each one), while Shane did 8 repeats. It was fun seeing flabbergasted tourists asking us, “didn’t you hike this already?”

Reasons why Mount Beacon rocks (haha I made a pun…):

1) There’s a deli at the bottom with cold drinks and hot sandwiches

2) It’s fun to have a buddy come along–you can do repeats at your own pace, and high-five each other on the way up/down.

3) The views at the top are amazing

4) Its rocky, technical trail and steep climb make for perfect mountain hiking and simulates a mountainous trail 100.

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Summer Streets

The week after Mount Beacon, Shane and I ran about 5 miles of Summer Streets in NYC. Summer Streets is sort of a 6-mile long street festival that takes place 3 Saturdays in August. There are car-free streets, people are encouraged to bike, walk or run, and there’s even a Whole Foods “picnic” with samples. It’s a lot of fun.

I got some good schwag, like Sweet Leaf tea bottles, KIND bars, a photo opp from Banana boat, a Camelbak bottle from REI, and a coffee tumbler from the Public Theater.

Summer Restaurant Week

Of course, with all that training comes a bit of reward. I took advantage of some of the Summer Restaurant Week deals at Park Avenue Summer, Ai Fiori, Nobu and David Burke Townhouse. I even splurged a bit on non-RW prix-fixe at Marea (which I highly recommend). My awesome mom took me to The NoMaD restaurant for my birthday, and it was every bit as good as I thought it would be.

At Park Avenue Summer, Michelle and I had the softshell crab, pork shoulder with spicy tomato sauce, and lemon panna cotta with strawberry foam. So delicious! Sadly, Park Avenue Summer is moving locations and will be closing. It was one of my favorite restaurants–they have a 4 seasons concept where they change the name, decor and menu of the restaurant each season.

Teresa took me to Nobu New York for my birthday, and the standout dish was the beef teriyaki with spicy anticucho sauce. Thanks Teresa! Nobu never disappoints. David Burke Townhouse impressed me with a farm egg ravioli–super fresh and I love anything with egg in it. Ai Fiori for lunch was a delight. I got the zucchini soup appetizer, the skate wing (fish), and the vanilla panna cotta with summer berries. The skate wing was perfectly breaded and cooked, and the dessert was just the right amount of creamy and smooth. Finally, NoMaD knocked my socks off with all three courses: Corn (3 ways: grilled, pureed, and popped), Chicken (rosemary chicken with truffle brioche), and Milk and Honey (milk gelato with dehydrated milk foam and honey). It was really special to enjoy this restaurant on my birthday with my mom, and she loved it too. I highly recommend the Corn and the Chicken!

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Long Island Run: Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail

On Labor Day weekend, Shane and I headed out to Long Island to run some trails in Cold Spring Harbor. It was lovely, and even though the sky threatened to pour rain, we emerged unscathed. It was a 2-mile run from the LIRR station to the trailhead, then we spent 3 hours and 20 minutes running about 18 miles of trails. It was so nice to get out of the city! There were some slight climbs and a lot of tree roots that made it challenging, but the last 5 miles were pretty flat and were packed dirt. There was even a Stop & Shop at Jericho Turnpike which intersected the trail, so we stopped to get some Gatorade and water after 2 hours of running. Best of all, I found a “Bear” on the trail! It was a good omen for my 100-miler.

Lisa and the Bear

Lisa and the Bear

To top off our 3 hours of running, we stopped at Dollops for some frozen yogurt with toppings. I got pistachio and strawberry banana with mochi and blueberries. Yum!

The next day (9/2), we did a track workout. We ran 2 miles to the track, did 4x 400m repeats (1:22, 1:38, 1:44, 1:50…totally ran out of steam) and 20 burpees in between each repeat (80 burpees total). I also did 40 crunches, 20 oblique crunches per side, and 100m of walking lunges. Then, we ate ice cream and ran 2 miles back before the rain hit!

All this training will pay off, since I have three upcoming races in September, four in October, then I’m running the ING NYC Marathon in November!

Lisa’s race calendar:

1) Super Spartan New Jersey (10 mile obstacle course): 9/7/13

2) Run 10 Feed 10 (10K in NYC), running on behalf of Team Skechers 10/22/13

3) Bear 100 (Utah) 9/27/13

4) DC Ragnar Relay 10/4-10/5

5) Rock ‘n’ Roll 10K (Brooklyn) 10/12/13

6) Atlantic City Marathon (10/13/13)

7) Rock’n’ Roll LA Halloween Half (Cali, 13.1 miles): 10/27/13

8) ING New York City Marathon 11/3/13

See you on the run!


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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!

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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.

pasty shop

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

kingscross

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.

curley 2

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!

tea cadogan

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:

fortnum2

fortnum1

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).