Lisa Runs on Ramen

— running 26.2 and having foodie adventures too!


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Lululemon SeaWheeze–I run Vancouver!

Hello dear readers–I am back! This year, 2014, has been one of the busiest for me in ages. I have been fortunate enough to attend (and be in) several weddings this season, alternating with race weekends! That is why I have not posted in a while, but fear not, I am getting back on the wagon!

Lululemon SeaWheeze Half, 8/23/14

This summer, I was elated to return to the Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver! I had been looking forward to this trip for months–I love the city of Vancouver, and I couldn’t wait to get my run and yoga on! The race has become increasingly popular– it encountered registration issues in early 2014, and they had to shut down registration and use a new system a week later. Here’s why I love this race:

1) The city of Vancouver has it all: views of the mountains, the sea, the cityscape. Plus, there’s excellent food!

2) Lululemon is based in Vancouver, and the company makes a SeaWheeze-exclusive collection of workout wear and accessories, sold ONLY at the race expo on race weekend.

3) The half marathon is a ton of fun–with great perks and swag for the runners (limited-edition shorts mailed to you, a goody bag, a medal, finisher gift, and a runner’s “brunch” at the finish line)

4) I like meeting other Lululemon enthusiasts, and it’s fun being around other people as excited about the clothes and race as I am!

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I arrived in Vancouver on 8/21, and I was just walking around on Robson Street when I stumbled upon the grand opening party/yoga-fest for the new Lululemon flagship store on Robson! I got to say hello to my friend Dave Mari, and I participated in the yoga class with other Lululemon enthusiasts–the energy was incredible. What a great way to start my trip! I capped it off with a a delicious pasta dinner at Italian Kitchen. Their homemade pasta puttanesca with fresh ricotta is unbelievable.

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The SeaWheeze Showcase Store and my volunteer gig

One of the big draws of doing this race is the schwag, and also the opportunity to purchase exclusive Lululemon product from the SeaWheeze Showcase store. The exclusive designs are not available online and are available only on-site at the SeaWheeze Showcase store during race weekend in Vancouver. Many people line up super early before the store opens at 7am on Friday. I mustered up the energy to wake up at 6:30am and walked from the hostel where I stayed to the convention center. I got to the store at 6:50am and there were already at least 300 people on line in front of me. It was madness! However, the people I was on the line with were pretty chill, and we were all just excited to be there. After about an hour of waiting (there were capacity limits so they let us in slowly), we finally made it into the store. I headed straight towards my size, and luckily there was still a good selection because I got there early.

I was so tempted by everything I saw–this year’s theme was “illusions,” and there were pastels, rainbows, stripes, and chevron patterns–everything was super cute! I told myself I would limit my purchases to no more than 5 items, lest I suffer from buyer’s remorse! I also kept an eye out for my friends, who I was shopping for as well.

Here is some of the merch:

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I ended up getting the awesome black-and-white stripe patterned hoodie above, a pink tank with striped shelf bra for a friend, some socks. a pair of tights with a striped pastel waistband, and a black tank with rainbow bra. They gave us a cute holographic shopping bag as well! Even though I was among the first 400 people to enter the store, the merchandise moved so fast (people bought up to 15 items at a time!) that I didn’t even see certain items (a duffel bag and rainbow futuristic shorts were the hot tickets), but that’s probably for the better, as I wanted to stick to a budget!

I was thrilled to be able to bring back some cute souvenirs that I will definitely be sporting soon! Afterwards, I took a quick lunch break at Japadog, where I got an amazing terimayo hot dog. Then, I got ready for my 5-hour volunteer shift at the expo. Since I was traveling alone, I didn’t mind volunteering as a way to give back to the community. Races depend on volunteers for a successful event, and I wanted to put my time to good use. It also didn’t hurt that we got cute t-shirts as well that said “voluncheer” on them! I helped manage the packet pickup line and was also a “bib finder” to hand out the appropriate packets to the runner. It was a bit tiring being on my feet, but I enjoyed it.

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Race day

Finally, the SeaWheeze Half was here! I was so excited that I had no trouble waking up at the crack of dawn, so I could be ready to go by 6am for the race start at 7am. Bag drop was smooth and the energy in the air was palpable. Many runners were donning the race-supplied shorts or their Lululemon best. I wore my Virgin London Marathon shirt and one of my favorite Lulu colorful skorts.

I just wanted to have fun and enjoy the experience. I didn’t plan on going out fast because I was still recovering from muscle fatigue from my back-to-back ultramarathons in the summer. Plus, I was still feeling a bit jet-lagged. The weather was a perfect and I planned to take photos along the way!

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Just as I remembered, the course was a bit tough. We went over bridges, traversed many neighborhoods like Chinatown, Kitsilano, the Sea wall and Stanley Park. The inclines were the toughest, but there were cheer squads and water stations to keep our spirits up. Lululemon sure knows how to put on a party!

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The views from the Sea Wall were stunning. They even had a “Muscle Beach” cheer zone complete with inflatable dumbbells haha. Very clever! My leg muscles were feeling fatigued from being on my feet all day yesterday. Oh well, it was worth it! I ended up crossing the finish line in a time of 2:14:24. It was not my best, but it was certainly good practice for me to pace towards a 2:15 (my pace assignment for the upcoming Grete’s Great Gallop!) I also took lots of photos and soaked in the scenery. I ran in my Skechers Sonic shoes and they felt great–they absorbed most of the shock of the pavement because it’s a slightly more cushioned shoe. Thanks Skechers for being my sponsor!

The finish line was great–we had bottles of Zico coconut water awaiting us, and also goodies! Saje Wellness was a sponsor, and every runner got a set of runner’s massage oils (they were also available for sale in their store). We were also rewarded with a finisher medal (shaped like a mobius loop and choice of green, blue and purple) AND a sweet Lululemon finisher hat! The schwag we get for this race is neat–this was all in addition to the runner’s Lulu shorts mailed to you, a white messenger bag, and a water bottle. I was one happy gal.

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Finally, I capped off my race day with two unforgettable experiences: going to Capilano Suspension Bridge park and the SeaWheeze Sunset Festival.

I had a massive burger at Logger’s Grill post-race (in the park), and I clambered upon the famously wobbly Capilano Suspension Bridge on my wobbly legs. I also went on the amazing Cliffwalk–a new addition to the park that lets you walk along a cliff face.

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The Sunset Festival featured a performance by Capital Cities, yoga, local food vendors and a beer garden in Stanley Park. I lay on my yoga mat, enjoying the music and a burrito after a day of racing and walking. Thanks for an awesome time, Vancouver and Lululemon! I will be back!

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Merrell Mud Run 10K, Jay-Z and Softball Awards

So I did my first adventure race…and it was awesome. I signed up for the Merrell Down ‘n’ Dirty Mud run 10K (9/30) on a whim, only two weeks before the race. It was a bit pricey, but my friend Haajar highly recommended it. I also needed an excuse to visit Pelham Bay Park out in the Bronx. Did you know it’s the biggest city park? Yeah, I just found out too–and the New Yorker in me was curious. So I got up at 4:40am to get on the train by 5:30, so I could get to the start line by 8:00am. Fun commute.

There were a ton of people–I think 6,000 runners total ran the 10K and the 5K combined. The good part about the 10K was that we were the first ones to go, at 8:15am, followed by two different waves of 5K runners at 9:30am then 10:30am. We got to go on the obstacles before they got TOO nasty (even the mud pit was cleaner–fewer dirty sneakers ahead of us). There were 17 different obstacles, including cargo nets, low walls and high walls (my least favorite), a soapy mountain with a rope climb (the hardest), a monkey climb, two mud pits, cargo net with an inflatable slide (my favorite), push-ups, running through tires, and even a 100m ocean dip (in chest-deep water)!

I pushed myself pretty hard the whole time–I was really strong on the run but weak on just about everything that required me boosting my own weight (the low walls). I still had a lot of fun though, and the volunteers were great. I ended up running 1:02:05 (with 17 obstacles), good enough for 10/150 women in the F25-29 division! I was super happy with that. My favorite part was crawling through the final mud pit and hearing the announcer yell my name–that was awesome. You get a cool dog tag at the finish! Needless to say, I looked like a bedraggled mess and I’m glad I wore clothes I didn’t care too much about.

Me at the finish line after the Merrell Mud Run 10K

After the race, I went to the sponsor tents while I waited for my friend Sharif, who was running the 5K. He very kindly offered me a ride back to civilization because I didn’t want to deal with the train again! First order of business was getting somewhat clean. The organizers trucked in swimming pool water on FOUR trucks so that runners could shower with clean water. They were rustic hose showers but they did the trick! There were also large changing tents–pretty essential. Afterward, I got a $15 haircut at the Paul Mitchell tent (the money went to Operation Gratitude, a military charity!) and I loved my new layered look. Merrell was also selling sweet gear and taking facebook photos. I bought a nice soft gray zip-up Merrell jacket.

There was also the post-race Burger Bash, where every runner got a burger (or a salad), chips, and a drink, included with the entry fee. That was a great idea, since the park had no vendors. You really do get your money’s worth! So for the $75 I paid, I got a Merrell tech tee, awesome race experience, a post-race burger meal, a Merrell buff/headscarf, a finisher dog tag, and a post-race shower. I met Sharif and his friends after his race and he agreed that it was a ton of fun. The weather was gorgeous too!

Me and Sharif after the Merrell Mud Run. Notice that I had showered previously.

Sharif drove me into civilization (aka Astoria) where I could get my favorite post-race meal, ramen noodles, at HinoMaru. This little gem of a ramen place opened recently, and my friend Yuji introduced me to it.  I highly recommend the HinoMaru specialty ramen with the fireball, yum!

It was a jam-packed weekend overall. Rewind back to Friday (the 10K was on Sunday)–my co-workers and I celebrated a very successful softball season with our company league! It was the first time I had ever played softball since elementary school, and I’m really glad that I gave it a shot. Our team finished undefeated (I think 12-0-2, with zero losses and 2 ties) and emerged as Division III Champions in the EDSO softball league, woohoo!!! I was one of the novice players on the team, but it didn’t matter–I improved a lot and my co-workers were encouraging. As a celebration, EDSO invited the award winners from all the divisions to a dinner at Mercantile Grill in the Financial District. They had one hour open bar and a dinner buffet, complete with crab cakes, pasta, wings, beef and chicken. Sweet!

I enjoyed the party and hanging out with my co-workers yet again in a non-work setting. When the awards were announced, our co-captain Jimmy made a brief speech, and we received two team trophies (one was for being in the league for 10 years), as well as individual personalized glass paperweight awards! That was a really nice surprise. Go team!

Me and my friend Wams with our individual softball trophies

On Saturday, I managed to track down the Nutella Breakfast Tour Truck (my friends know that I’m an expert at tracking down free stuff) at 10am at a street fair. They were giving away samples, American Apparel “I ❤ Nutella” shirts, and I got to take my picture with a giant inflatable Nutella jar! Who doesn’t love Nutella? That was an awesome start to my day.

Nutella Breakfast Tour takes Manhattan!

Next, I stopped by free Yoga in the Park at Pier 63, right near the Hudson River. It was a cool, cloudy morning but not too cold for outdoor yoga. There was live music and 250 people doing yoga next to the river. All the attendees got free yoga mats and goodie bags too. I love New York.

 

So that was my weekend. Fast forward to Monday night–I had tickets to Jay-Z’s concert during the inaugural week of the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn! I was super-excited about this. As a native Brooklynite, having a $1 billion arena spring up in your neighborhood is a big deal. I also do like Jay-Z’s music, and I think it’s great that he went from the Marcy projects in Brooklyn to rap mogul to part owner of the (now) Brooklyn Nets.

The tickets were also pretty affordable, $29.50 before fees. Dina went to the concert with me and we had an awesome time. We ate at Bark Hot Dogs for dinner and had lattes at Hungry Ghost Cafe. We didn’t eat inside the arena, although there were a ton of options. The performance was electrifying, with amazing light effects and 18,000 screaming fans inside the venue. I felt really proud to be from Brooklyn.

Jay-Z in the house!


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Lululemon Sea Wheeze Half Marathon, 8/11/12 (Vancouver, BC)

I just returned from Vancouver earlier this week from a really awesome inaugural half-marathon, the Lululemon Sea Wheeze! I am a big Lululemon fan because they make nice, comfortable clothes. Since running is such a mental sport, if you feel good about what you’re wearing, you’re more likely to perform well. As soon as I heard about their half-marathon back in January, I immediately signed up and got my friend Amy to register with me. The price was a little steep at $128 CAD, but you do get what you pay for. It includes:

Lulu schwag

–          Limited-edition Sea Wheeze shorts that they mail to you (cream-colored with rainbow polka dots)

–          A reusable race bag with Native (Canadian brand) flip flops with SeaWheeze print

–          An awesome race experience with cheer stations, costumed people and volunteers

–          Admission to a post-race concert by Vancouver band Hey Ocean! and FUN.

–          Sunset yoga on Kits (Kitsilano) beach

–          Cool medal

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The Sea Wheeze showcase store–very picked over by the time I arrived post-race (it was open for 1.5 days)

I was really looking forward to the race expo, because I knew there would be limited-edition product available ONLY at the Sea Wheeze showcase store on race weekend. Unfortunately, I missed the expo completely and first dibs on the stuff due to a 7-hour mechanical delay on Air Canada. It was SO frustrating. I was supposed to arrive at 2:00pm into Vancouver and I didn’t get to my hotel until 9:00pm, completely exhausted from all their shenanigans. I am probably not going to fly them ever again. Luckily, Amy got there mid-day and was able to get me a pair of shorts, when I frantically instructed her to buy me “anything that fits me” under $60. I pretty much knew that the stuff would be picked over by the afternoon since the expo opened at 9:00am. Oh well, next time I’ll get there on Thursday!

The Four Seasons Downtown Vancouver

I got to stay at the Four Seasons in downtown Vancouver with Amy for a ridiculous rate, since she works for them. It was a beautiful hotel only a 10-minute walk to the race start, which made my life so much easier after my flight delays.

I will post a much more detailed part two later, but I just wanted to share some photos below. I’m gearing up for the Beast of Burden Summer 100 this weekend—so nervous but also excited!

Beautiful course along the Seawall in Stanley Park