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.


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.

Upcoming Events

Hello again. I think if I can find time to blog once a month these days I would be doing pretty good.  Job is just so busy and the last thing I want to do is sit in front of the computer again when i get home from 8 hours at work.  I am much better at tweeting these days.  Shorter messages on the phone.

Anyway, I have a couple of exciting running events coming up in the next couple days, weeks, months!  I have been terrible about training for these upcoming events, but it doesn’t stop me from participating.  So what if I have to walk, I will still finish!

So first ups: Dana Point Turkey Trot.  I have ran the 5k in years past, but this year since I had finished the half marathon in October and will run the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Vegas (next paragraph), I thought I will step it up and run the 10k.  Eek!  I am so not ready. But luckily the course is absolutely gorgeous down by the Dana Point Wharf.  I also love this race because it’s Thanksgiving day and I really feel less guilty for gorging on the Turkey Day foods after running in the morning. Oh and this year we will be getting finishers medals to add to my collection!

Next up: Strip at Night, Las Vegas Rock n Roll Marathon. December 4th.  Hmmm.. this gives me 1/5 weeks to go. EEK!  If I’m not ready for a 10k in 2 days, I’m sure as hell not ready for a half marathon in 12 days… but again… IT’S OK.  I will finish even if I have to walk most of it.  Again the course will be lovely.  Who wouldn’t want to run/walk the Fabulous Vegas Strip at night?

And the last one on the schedule (for now): New Orleans Rock n Roll Half Marathon. March 4th. This one was a whim.  They run this promotion code, SAINTSWIN, for every point the Saints win by we get $1 off… then there was the game week 7 where the Saint annihilated the Colts 62-7. With a discount of $55, the race entry cost me (and 6 of my friends) $35!  This race will be run about 2 weeks after my 30th birthday.  I think this is the perfect way to celebrate this milestone.  Running a half marathon and food touring through New Orleans!  This one I plan to train train for… like how I trained for San Jose Rock n Roll. 😉

Alright… so there are my upcoming events.  I will try to keep blogging.  😉

Happy running and happy eating!

Rockin’ the San Jose Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon

So, I initially started this blog to keep me in check while I was training for the San Jose Rock n Roll Marathon.  Well… I did it.  A few weeks ago on October 2nd, I ran (and walked) my 13.1 miles.

I had been derailed a tad in September from the training schedule due to… well… life. In a nutshell, I had to find and start a new job and I had a friend pass away unexpectedly.

Anywho… the race… it was pretty awesome! I was shooting for under 3 hours (and really to beat my sister and her friend).  Unfortunately, I ended up finishing a little over 3 hours (3:05).  I am a little disappointed, but not really. Overall, I am really happy with my performance.

Let’s just put it this way… this is the farthest I have ever run (walked)!  It was after the 10k mark where I realized my accomplishment (but had foolishly forgot that I had done a pretty good job run walking Bay to Breakers in 2009, a 12k).  I was still on pace to finish under 3 hours by the 10k mark.

But by the 10 or 11 mile marker, my right leg was starting to bug me.  I didn’t realize what it was until after, but it was my IT band.  I was tough to move and though running on it didn’t hurt as much once i got going, I didn’t want to do any major damage and decided to just walk for the majority of the last 2-3 miles.

The last mile was really emotional.  I knew I was really close to the end, but my leg was not cooperating.  I think it was the LAST turn til the finish line there were many other runners with their medals cheering us on.  I kept hearing, “Just around the corner.” “You are almost there” “You can do it”… and lots of cheering and clapping.  As I crossed the finish line, I was overwhelmed with A LOT of emotion. I admit, I shed a tear or two.  I couldn’t help it. I was proud of myself for finishing.  Even though I didn’t make my goal time, I was happy.

Next ups… Rock n Roll Vegas!

The Giant Race 10k: Setting a Goal (revising it) and Crushing it!

On Saturday August 27th, I participated in the Giant Race 10k.  I had run the 5k at last year’s race and had a great time running it, so here I am again this year.  Things I like about this race:

  • Running in SF down the Embarcadero with no cars
  • Finishing on the field at AT&T Park
  • Tim Lincecum Bobblehead for all finishers
  • Finisher Medal (I had told a friend that I won’t run a race this year unless there is a medal waiting for me at the finish line – so far, 4 races, 4 medals)
  • T-shirt
  • Good swag at the Post Race Expo
Setting the Goal: All the “stuff” aside, I ended up having a really good run.  I had originally set my goal time at 1:30 (1 hour and 30 minutes).  This was based on my last (and only other) 10k I ran.  I ran in the Cinco de Mayo 10k in my hometown of Irvine back in 2009.  At that time, I was running a lot more than I have been running in recent months.  I was in a similar situation where I was training for a half marathon and was challenging myself to see how far I could run without stopping.  I remember running 5 of those 6 miles and then needing to stop.  I ended up finishing that race in 1:20.  Fast Forward 2 years, I do NOT feel as fit or as prepared as I did in 2009.  I have barely been able to run more than 2 miles without stopping during my training runs. Anyway, this was my rationale for setting my goal at 1:30.

Revising the Goal: A couple days ago, after a 4 mile training run at the gym, I decided to revise my goal to 1:25.  I was able to walk/run the 4 miles on the treddy (with an incline of 1.0) in a little less than an hour.  I talked to a friend of mine about revising my goal ans shooting for the 1:20.  I really just did not think it was possible to get the time I had back in 2009 so we compromised to revise it at 1:25.

The Race: So race day was Saturday… I ran… and walked… and ran… and walked… and ran… until I got to the finish line.  The course was lovely, my usual Saturday course along the water in San Francisco all the way to Pier 39 and back to the ball park.  As I crossed the finish line on the warning track of AT&T Park, I saw that the clock read 1:21 or something like that. I saw that my Nike+ GPS app read 1:18 (but that thing always seems to be off). I thought… NO WAY I got that close to 1:20 (my stretch goal).

Crushed it!: I went to check my official time on these laptops set up at the Post-Race Expo… and there is was… an official time of just under 1:18.  Not only did I crush my original goal of 1:30 and my realistic goal of 1:25, I even beat my stretch goal of 1:20 by 2 minutes!  I was in disbelief most of the morning.  Is all this eating and running really working?!  I guess it is… because I am still running, right?

Getting ready for the next race: So coming off the good 5k Run at the SF Marathon and this good 10k run, I am feeling less nervous for the upcoming San Jose Rock n Roll Marathon (PS if anyone wants to save $10 thru August 31, enter discount code “GIANTS” when you register). I do have a goal for the San Jose Rock n Roll of less than 3 hours, but would really like to beat my sister and her friend’s times from their San Diego Half Marathon (2:51).

Moral of the Story: So I think the lesson learned here: is set realistic goals, revise them if you need… and really don’t underestimate your talents!

In closing: Here are some photos I took with my iPhone after the race.  🙂 Happy Running!

The San Francisco (Progressive) Marathon (5k)

On Sunday July 31 I participated in the San Francisco Marathon’s Progressive 5k.  The deal is on race day (July 31) I ran a 5k, 3.1 miles.  The progressive part came in the weeks before race day.  I used a tracking sheet to log my miles.  A total of 23.1 mile over the course of about 10 runs (2-3 miles per run, not bad).  Take the 23.1 miles plus the race day 3.1 miles, you get 26.2 miles (the equivalent of a full marathon)

I think the Progressive Marathon was totally worth it.  I got all the perks of running an actual marathon:

  • Official Race Long Sleeve Technical Tee
  • Progressive Marathon Medal (the ran out!)
  • Finish line food (i.e. bananas, plums, cinnamon sugar scone, bottle of water)

So… they ran out of medals…. granted maybe I should have run a bit faster, but I was hardly at the end of the pack.  By the time I reached the finish line (at a very respectable time for me), there were no more medals.  I, along with dozens of

other disappointed Progressive Marathon finishers stood by as one of the race staff members scrambled to get out names and numbers.  He stated that the medals would be sent to us later 😦 In the end, I tore off the little “MEDAL” tab off my personalized race bib and dropped it into the bag he was carrying with many others’ tab.  I think they could have given us an extra “beer” ticket at the very least… but alas… I didn’t even want a beer (I would have preferred some Blue Bottle Coffee!)

Nevertheless, I had a great time running this event! I enjoyed the Expo the day before too.  I usually don’t stick around the expos too long because well… they are usually pretty dull.  I stopped by the GU booth to pick up some GU packets for my roommate (who was running the First Half Marathon), the Lululemon yoga area to chat it up with the Grant Store Lulu workers (if you didn’t know already, I love Lulu!), spun the wheel for four (4) entries to win an iPad at the Degree Motion Sense booth (and added to my already 5 to-go antiperspirants)…. Anywho, it was fun with lots to stop and see.

As I mentioned before I ran this 5k in a pretty respectable time for me.  In my training runs, I have been averaging about 15 minute miles (walk/run).  I ran this 5k in about 38 minutes… with a pace at a little over 12 min/mile.  I was actually pretty shocked at my time.  I even had to stop for bio break! (I know… one should not have to stop for a bio break for a measly 3 miles, but I did).  This gives me good momentum getting into my longer training runs in the coming weeks.

My next race is the Giant Race 10k on Saturday August 27th.  I really would like to run this 10k with out stopping.  (t my only 10k was back in So Cal in 2009 and I stopped running at right about the 5 mile marker).

Lastly… here are some photos of the Embarcadero on Race Day! (last photo is of the Subway dude, Jerad Fogle)