Blast from the Past: Boot Camp Hill Running Day – First week

Since my post on Monday, I have been reliving my Boot Camp emails from 4 years ago.  It cracks me up.  I was so out of shape back then… and if my 2012 self told my 2008 self that in four years she would be running half marathons, I think my 2008 self would have just died laughing.

With out further ado… here is the email I send to friends on Day 3 of my Boot Camp… the infamous Hill Running Day.

Ugh… so today was a running day.  I will say half the time we ran. Okay, today we were at Red Hill Elementary School in Tustin.  This is considered a “stealth” location.  This means when we count out our reps we have to whisper; unlike the “non-stealth” location, such as the Washington Mutual.


Anyway, we started off with the usual stuff stretching, punches, kicks, sit ups, and push ups.  There were two people that arrived late and apparently for every person that arrives late, we have to do twenty push-ups.  That is forty total this morning for the latecomers.


Then… we ran… and it felt like we were running for quite awhile.  The elementary school is in this hilly neighborhood and it felt like they kept running in circles and up more hills.  I pretty much was at the back of the pack, until it was me and this other girl, the former swimmer girl.  She and I made friends and chatted about how in swimming you can’t be left behind in a pool.  The worst that could happen is they do 75s (3 lap sets) and end up on the other side of the pool.  We also chatted about how awesome it would be to run through people’s sprinklers… that just sounds like a wonderful idea.  so back to the run… we got lapped, well since they were running some crazy route, we just got to start running with the pack when the looped back around to the street we were on.


After the run, they stopped us all at the bottom of the hill and lined us up in groups of 4 for one big spring up the hill.  Sheesh!  Then we jogged back to the parking lot.


They wouldn’t let up get water at this point.  They made us line up again in 2 single file lines.   We had to hold our arms out straight on our sides rotating our arms like we were pouring milk or something as we walked around the parking lot.  We did a bunch of these types of arm movements where we couldn’t drop our arms to our sides.  My arms were on FIRE!  And I had a HUGE grin on my face!  My last trainer would tease me about my smiling when I was working out… but whatever… it was HARD.


FINALLY, we got to stretch and go home.  Thank god!  There were a lot of people missing today that I have seen the last 2 days… I wonder if it was because of the hills!


Oh and on a side note, I have not had my food journal taken away as of yet, but apparently I have not been eating enough fruits.  And he told me that my “sugar free” hazelnut americanos should be avoided until after the boot camp.  Even though it’s sugar free. It’s no bueno.  I miss coffee…



Four years running… looking back at day one

I have been terrible about adding new blog posts, but after the last two weekend of great runs, I had to add one.

Finishing the Rock n Roll Chicago and The San Francisco Marathon Progressive 5k in the last two weekend really made me reflect on how far I had come.  So this is my quick blog about how the running madness started.

About 4 years ago I started a Boot Camp that changed my lifestyle… and ultimately I became a runner.  Initially I started this Booter to get fit for my best friend’s wedding where I served as the Maid of Honor.

Below is the email I sent to my friends after my first day of class… please note the week before I started the instructor asked me to run a mile so when I ran the mile at the end of class we could see how much I had improved… When I attempted this initial mile, I couldn’t even run the length of one song on my iPad before being out of breath (and stopping).

Thanks for letting me share. 🙂

Hi Friends…

So I have had many questions this morning about my Boot Camp that I started this morning.  It was good.  When I woke up at 4:30 this morning, I was definitely thinking I was a little CRAZY.  Also, since I really didn’t know what to expect this morning I was also nervous.

I arrived 15 minutes before the 5:30am scheduled start time to talk with the main guy in the morning to sign the liability forms and “sign up.”  He gave me a Boot Camp “Survival Guide” which includes a list of things I should and shouldn’t be eating.  It also has a food journal which he checks DAILY.  Apparently if he takes your journal, it means you were “bad” and you have to stay after to do some additional exercises.  Today, they did an extra set of sit-ups.

As for the actual class, we are required to bring a thick exercise mat, set of 5lbs weights, and a jump rope.  We started out with some “boxer shuffles” to get us moving, and then did some punching moves.  I am SO uncoordinated!

Then some stretches, then on to some push-up things and sit-up.  they we in sets of 15.  the push-ups were a little different.  We would start standing, hop down, hop back up; that is a 4 count. Then we hopped down, did one push up, hoped back up; that was a 6 count.  Then the 8 count was the same, but with 2 push ups.  They we did another variety of push-up. Oh, and we did jumping jacks… I don’t remember jumping jacks being to tiring.

After this portion, we went on a run.  Yeah, I can’t run.  My poor body is just not used to running… I’m a Swimmer… no pressure on my joints.

By the time I made it back, we separated into 4 groups at stations.  First I was at the station that did squats and lunges, then rotated to the triceps/bicep station, then to the sprint work training (at this point I was feeling a bit nauseous, and needed a little break.), and finally we went to the last station, which was another set of arm training.  When we were done, we stretched and that was it.

So today and tomorrow are in the parking lot of the Tustin Washington Mutual… yeah… straight up parking lot.  Then on Wednesday we are at an elementary school. And from what I understand, there are hills involved.  My fellow boot campers let me know that I would LOVE it! Great!! Then Friday it’s a different park.

So I still need to do my fitness assessment and get measured officially.  He didn’t want to make me do the assessment after my first day, so I will get assessed another day.

So all in all, I think this will be prefect.  It’s not too crazy, but structured enough where I will get in shape for Maui.

Okay… I hope that makes sense.  I definitely feel as though I could have gone home to go to bed instead of work, but whatever 🙂

Return from Blog Hiatus

Hello again Blogosphere…

I have been on this unintentional hiatus from blogging, but have decided to get back on track.  Work and life have just consumed me the last couple months.

A quickie update on things I have been up to in the world of Eating Toward the Finish Line since my last update in late February:

  • March 2-6: Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon
  • Countless new food discoveries
  • Update on 2012 Races

Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon

Long story short, I experienced some IT Band issues that started up right after the 5 mile marker.  I tried to push through it for a mile, but at the 10k (6.2 miles) mark, I had to visit the medical tent. I ended getting taped up and then walked the remaining 7 or so miles.

Disappointed at my predicament, I walked away from the medical tent and saw a participant wearing a motivational t-shirt that said: DEAD LAST is greater than DID NOT FINISH which triumphs DID NOT START 13.1.

This race was the first half marathon for a handful of my friends and I must say I was very proud of their performances.  I can’t wait to run with them again.

Here are some photos from the race and all the delicious food (mostly food)!

Post Race Expo Meal at Cochon

Race Medal

Post Race Meal at Lüke

NOLA Specialties (Cafe du Monde & Central Grocery Muffuletta)

More Food Pics

Not that I need to share more food pics (and if you follow me on either twitter or foodspotting, you have definitely been privy to all these photos)… but the gorgefest that was February (aka Birthday Month) did not end after February or even after New Orleans.

Barbacco in San Francisco

COCO500 in San Francisco

Plum in Oakland

Gialina in San Francisco

Zero Zero (Brunch) in San Francisco

Flour + Water (Pasta Tasting Menu) in San Francisco

NOPA (Brunch) in San Francisco

Marlowe in San Francisco

Haven in Oakland

Additional Races Booked

In my Starting 2012 post from awhile back, I talked about the races I had signed up for at that time… well… here’s an update on the races that I have committed to since that post was written.

Officially finished… and upcoming races:

  1. Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon – March 4, 2012 – Done and done… see above.
  2. 101st Bay to Breakers 12k – May 20, 2012 – Done and done… It was awesome. Post specifically for this race is forthcoming.
  3. Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon – June 4, 2012 – Registered!
  4. The Giant Race San Jose – June 16, 2012 – Registered! Inaugural event in San Jose. I am registered for the 5 mile race. Another option is 5k.
  5. Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon – July 22, 2012 – Registered! Travel is 75% booked! Expect more Top Chef Foodie Adventures!
  6. SF Marathon Progressive 5k – July 29, 2012 – Registered! I decided with all the other half marathons I chose to participate in that I would only run the Progressive Marathon 5k event.  This means I will log 23.1 miles before race day and run 3.1 miles (5k) to finish off 26.2 miles.
  7. The Giant Race San Francisco – September 15, 2012 – Registered! I am running the 5k event here. I figure I would enjoy the quickie run between the bigger/longer half marathons.
  8. Rock n Roll San Jose Half Marathon – October 7, 2012 – Registered! Since I didn’t get into Nike, I am running SJ.  This will make 4 Half Marathons for the year.  It also means I am eligible for the Grand Slam Heavy Medal 🙂

Okay… so I thought this post would be a quickie post, but I have eaten A LOT in the last 3 months and committed to A LOT of races.

Birthday Dinner On My Actual Birthday

As Birthday Month rolls along… here are food photos from my actual birthday dinner.

My roommates and I went to Mokutanya Yakitori (1155 California Dr, Burlingame, CA 94010 (650) 348-9388). It’s a cute, modern ramen restaurant near our house.  Since my birthday is the day after V-day and it also fell on a Wednesday, a simple neighborhood dinner seemed appropriate.

Yakitori Skewers (top row) – Kurobuta Spicy Sausage, Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushroom, Butabara (aka Pork Belly), Wagyu Beef

Ramen – Tonkotsu Ramen – pork bone broth, bean sprouts, perfectly poached egg, pork slices

Dessert – Off the menu chocolate cake… perfect!

I have been to Mokutanya a bunch of times.  I really enjoy the food here.  It’s a nice atmosphere too.  Stop by if you are in Burlingame!

Next stop on the Birthday Month Dining Tour… Zero Zero SF!

Happy Birthday Month (to me)!! and Top Chef dining in Santa Monica

Happy February!  And for me, that means it’s Birthday Month… and it also means LOTS of Birthday Dinners!

This year to jump start the celebrating I flew down to SoCal.  My sister lives in Santa Monica and being that I am a huge fan of Bravo’s Top Chef, I had to go visit two of the current Top Cheftestant’s restaurants.  (I have previously blogged about other Top Chef dining experiences here)

Nyesha Arrington: Executive Chef at Wilshire Restaurant (2454 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90403 (310) 586-1707)

Upon arrival at LAX, my sister picked my up and took me straight over to Wilshire Restaurant.  We planned to keep it a semi mellow night because Saturday morning we participated in a 5k run for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness.  We ordered a couple of drinks and decided to order some items off the menu even though Wilshire was offering a preview of their V-day tasting menu.

We got the beet salad w/ burrata cheese, lightly creamed spinach, mac n cheese, braised spare rib, and monkfish. Unfortunately, Nyesha couldn’t come to visit us at our table. But she was so sweet to sent me a tweet later that night to apologize we didn’t meet and they were slammed in the kitchen. No worries, Nyesha, because I will definitely come back for more eats.  We can meet then! 🙂

Chris Crary: Chef de Cuisine at Whist Restaurant @ the Viceroy Hotel (1819 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (310) 260-7500)

OMG… Best Dining Experience EVER! I had been excited for dinner here for… lets say… since I booked the reservation (back in December… I am a planner).  The night totally EXCEEDED my expectations.

When the hostess called me Saturday afternoon to confirm my party of 8, she assured me that the evening would be special.  Boy were we in for a treat!  While our party gathered in the lobby/bar area for some starter drinks, the folks at Whist were preparing our table/cabana.  Yes, cabana.  Our table was outside near the pool in a cute little cabana.  The canvas walls were rolled down, curtain closed, heater on.  It was a perfect private little room for our dinner.  I already felt like a celebrity!

We also were served a round of complimentary prosecco.  I am not sure if this is a Whist standard for a big party or if it was because I made my presence known (via twitter). Nevertheless, it was a nice touch.  My whole dining party loved it!

Before the first course was served, we got a treat!  Well first I opened a totally rad birthday present from my bestie (check them out… the Oakley Daisy Chain) new aviators sunnies. Right after I opened my gift, we had a visit from Chef Chris Crary himself. *swoon*  He is as cute as he is on TV… I’m just sayin’.  I must have been super nervous, but I got up to great him and take a photo with him.  It was so awesome. 

As for food, we all went with the 5-course Tasting Menu and added some ad hoc menu items to the mix.  In total I think we got 12 or so amazing courses.  One of our ad hoc dishes was the Beet Salad… and OMG that was so freaking good.  It was one of the best things I have tasted. In the photo below I have captured the porchini foie gras raviolis, beet salad, shortrib dish, Maine lobster and my special birthday dessert.  Those chocolate truffles on the dessert plate were AMAZBALLS… like literally… amazing balls of chocolate.

I also want to take this opportunity to say how awesome twitter is. Chef Chris also tweeted a happy birthday, thanks for coming in and great to meet you message after dinner.  I think my weekend was definitely enhanced because I was able to interact with Chef Nyesha and Chef Chris before and after my visits.  It really made my visits to the restaurants a personalized experience; it was great. 🙂

It’s been a couple days now since I flew back to my current home base in the Bay Area and all I can think about and talk about with friends and colleagues is my experience in LA this last weekend.  I really could not have asked for anything better.  The restaurants made me feel special and my friends made me feel loved.  ❤ ❤  Thank you!

And don’t forget to Vote for Nyesha and Chris for Top Chef Fan Favorites here!!

Starting 2012

Happy New Year!!

I wanted to start off the new year by posting the planned running events for 2012 and to briefly talk about how going vegetarian for a month (minus the time I’m in TX).

Upcoming Running Events in 2012:

I have signed up for two (2) so far.  They are the biggies.

  1. Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon – March 4, 2012
  2. Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon – June 4, 2012

Okay, so coming off the Rock n Roll Vegas Half Marathon I am not super confident in these upcoming Rock n Rolls.  Competitor Group (the for profit company who puts the Rock n Roll Series on) has a pretty good reputation for these events.  And this is why I signed up for more Rock n Rolls (BEFORE the disaster that was the RnR Vegas).  Being from So Cal, many friends have run the San Diego RnR, so I hope they can continue to pull this one off successfully.  NOLA, well I am going there to also celebrate my 30th birthday.  I am hoping to have a good race with friends AND have a good time celebrating a new decade of life!  Let keep our fingers crossed!

Races on My Radar:

These are the races I have not officially signed up for… yet.

  1. 101th Bay to Breakers 12k – May 20, 2012 – It’ Bay to Breakers… why not?
  2. The Giant Race (10k?) – Date TBD – I always have fun at this one! I mean you get to finish on the field at AT&T Park!
  3. SF Marathon (5k? Half marathon?) – July 29, 2012 – I am trying to determine if I can run this within the Course time limit of 3 hours
  4. Nike Woman’s Marathon (Half) – October 14, 2012 – We will sign up for the raffle… getting into this race is up to fate.
  5. Rock n Roll San Jose Half Marathon – October 7, 2012 – This is the “back up” race to the Nike Womens. But maybe I should run this one as a warm up to the Nike one (should I get selected for Nike), thoughts?

Anywho… there they are… the races for 2012. At the end of the year, let’s see how many I knock off the list. 😉

Going Vegetarian for One Month

This vegetarian for a month thing started a few years ago when my Grandfather passed away.  In my family’s beliefs (Vietnamese, Buddhist), we ate a vegetarian diet for 49 days after he passed.  Last year, my sister and I decided that we would eat vegetarian for a month each year in honor of him. We chose January… a good way to jump start each new year.

There is one thing about my commitment this year… I am going to cheat… I have to travel to Texas for a few days next week for work.  Traveling to a place known for its BEEF BBQ … it’s going to be too hard to resist the food!  So, for the days I’m going to be in Texas,I will tack on those days at the end of the month. So instead of ending the vegetarian diet on January 31st, I will end it on February 4th.

Running the Rock n Roll Vegas… The Sweet, The Savory, and The Bitter

Okay, I just returned to the Bay Area from Las Vegas.  I was out there for the Rock n Roll Half Marathon. Here is my weekend recap.

The Sweet (the running fashion):

Since this was my first night time run… in the desert… in winter… I needed new running gear to be prepared for the cold night.  And in my complete Lululemon obsession, I ended up wearing the following items:

  • Brisk Run Headband: I love this because it kept my head and ears warm from the elements.  Since it’s a headband it also allowed me to wear my hair in a pony tail.  The design I got is also reversible and matches the pants I got.
  • Run: Turn Around Tight: I LOVE these pants.  They are made of Lululemon’s Running Luon or Rulu as they call it.  It is a super soft and comfortable 4-way stretch.  I can’t tell you how comfortable these pants are to run in.
  • Brisk Run Gloves: So these are just awesome.  I am an iPhone junkie. Yes, at times, even when I’m running… to change a song or adjust my Nike Plus. These gloves have little pads on the thumb and pointer fingers that work with touch screen phones such as the iPhone.
  • Run: Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve: I actually bought this several months ago and it’s been a great staple piece.  I have worn it on brisk San Francisco mornings out for runs.  I ended up wearing it over another Lulu run tank and then under the Rock n Roll race tech tee.

In all my Lulu gear I felt light and dry (because of the wicking fabrics) and most importantly, warm. I didn’t feel cold until the very end when I stopped running.  By that time, I was handed a heat sheet and went into the Hotel (which is a whole other fiasco).  Thanks Lululemon… your run gear is very SWEET!

The Savory (the food):

Okay, I admit, the last couple weeks I have been eating a lot more than I have been training.  So my race time wasn’t exactly fast or anything, but I really did enjoy the food.

Since the run was in the evening on Sunday, it was important we eat a very good brunch.  I am not sure this was the healthiest, but it sure had lots of calories for fuel! I didn’t need much else before the race other than an apple and some energy gel.

So for our pre-race brunch was at the Hash House a Go Go. This restaurant was featured on the Vegas episode of Man v. Food awhile back. I got the Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict featured on the show.

We also got a plate sized Blueberry Pecan Flapjack to share at the table… so freaking good!

After the race, my sister and I were so tired we retreated back to our hotel and ate at our hotel’s open 24 hours a day cafe. Nothing memorable.  The following day we met back up with our race group and really celebrated with food.  In case you didn’t already know, I love cheeseburgers.  And luckily some of the people in our run group are from Vegas and brought us to Bachi Burger off strip.  It was so worth it!  I got the Miyagi-san Grass Fed Wagyu Burger (Chili Mayo, Fried Egg, Furikake, Caramelized Bacon, Crispy Onion Rings).

The Bitter (the race):

I want to start off by saying, I am not a fast runner by any means.  I tend to walk run the longer races. And my goal for this particular race was to just finish because of a slight hip injury and lack of training.

I don’t know where to start… so I will just write it like how I told my friends today… it was a HOT MESS…. and a total CLUSTER F**K.  I had noticed quite a bit of oddities as I was at the start line, during the race, at the finish line, and the post race madness will forever stand out in my mind.  But honestly it wasn’t until I read other participants complaints on Facebook that I realized that there was something amiss pretty much the entire race. I am not going to reiterate and complain about things that didn’t happen to me.

As a slower runner and sometimes walker, I know I will be getting to hydration stations later than most.  I know that I will get water at the tables toward the end of the station, but at some of the water stations in the last couple miles were nearly empty.  I think I only got Cytomax (electrolyte drink) once the entire time.  I don’t remember this being the case during my Rock n Roll San Jose experience.

Post-race Mandalay Bay… I can really only describe this as a war zone.  Lets just say the hall way was so packed with people and there were people going down (if not already down) all over the place.  There was a woman who was getting medical attention from some medics in the hall.  I don’t usually see this happening so I took note.  Then a few minutes and maybe feet later, the woman walking behind me told her companion that she needed to stop and rest.  Since my sister was behind this woman, I looked back to make sure my sister was still behind me.  The woman was keeled over a high planter with her head in her arms. Eek!  Then a few minutes (and inches), I observed a man laying on the floor curling into a fetal position.  I really have never seen a sight like this. As we made our way through the crowd to meet up with other friend, I notice people sitting, curled up in all sorts of corners of the hallway (nooks, between planters… anywhere they could). Our friends had found a spot near the Starbucks about halfway through the long Mandalay corridor. By the time we got there, we had been pushed out of the way by Medics (I think) asking everyone to move so people farther down the hall could get medical attention.  At this point I thought we would be sitting next to the Starbucks for quite a while.  To make this LONG story short, the security guard let us out the service hall that took us straight to the back parking garage and taxi line.  After waiting a long while for a taxi we were on our way back to our hotel (which was on the other side of a still closed Strip).

So by the time I got back to the hotel, I was sick. It’s not going to sound glamorous, but I went straight to my room to throw up.  Sigh.  Later I found out that I was MANY people who threw up (some in that Mandalay hallway), some were sick til the next day.  I didn’t even think to attribute my sickness to tainted water at the hydration stations until I read some of the other runners talking about how they became ill.

I really thought I could be concise in telling my observations, but clearly there was a lot to tell.  And I don’t want to sound totally negative about this race.  I have a lot of memories in Vegas and I did have a nice time thinking of all my good memories on the strip… including countless New Years Eve Celebrations & my 21st Birthday… It was very nice to run the strip at night, but it was just not what I expected.  I probably will not sign up for this race again in the future.

Sorry Rock n Roll… this one was bad.  I absolutely loved running San Jose and have signed up for two more Rock n Rolls in 2012.  Let’s hope the 2012 events are more like the San Jose run than the Vegas one.