Saturday, October 30, 2010

Learn to Love the Hills

Happy Saturday Everyone! By the time this post pops up, I will hopefully be out and about doing my long run. It is actually my final long run for Malibu Marathon but since I had ran Chicago just a couple of weeks ago, the tapering period is somewhat modified from your typical marathon tapering period. This is the second time I've ran 2 marathons a month apart so I am not an expert at how to recover while still maintaining fitness for the next race. My schedules says that I should get in 2-3 hours of running, so that is what I am going to do. Just head out for 2-3 hours and see where I end up. The last time I ran 2 back-to-back marathons was last year when I ran LA a month after OC. Anyways, enough of this talk because today's post is about running hills.

(Note: As of 10/29/10 - the Big Sur Marathon is officially sold out of regular entries)

Now that I have signed up for the Big Sur Marathon, I was told that I need to learn to love hill training. I didn't even "like" it to start with and I'm sure by the time it is all said and done that I will most likely hate it. I think the most I can do to bridge the huge gap between love and hate is to prepare myself for the course as much as I can. I don't live in the most hilly area so I may even have to emulate some of the hill workouts on the treadmill. So to help me understand what I have gotten myself into, I did some research on the most severe part of the course (Hurricane Point).

Where: Big Sur International Marathon, Big Sur, Calif.
When It Hits: At 9.8 miles 
How Long, How Hard: 2.2 miles, rising 520 feet, 4.5 percent grade

So, what I will likely do in these next couple of weeks is to set the treadmill up to 4.5% grade and start by walking it and see how long it takes me just to walk the 2 miles. Then as the weeks progress, I will start adding flatter miles before doing this hill exercise or slowly increase the speed of the hill part until I can do it at a 10 min/mile pace. I have so much time to train for this thing that I can experiment with a few different methods. I also have a couple of half and full marathons peppered in between now and then. My main goal is just to enjoy this race and not suffer too much out there...because I don't want to miss a moment of this....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Japanese Gourmet Fair - 10/28-10/31 - Mitsuwa Market (Costa Mesa and Torrance)

Starting today 10/28-10/31, the Mitsuwa Market in both the Torrance and Costa Mesa stores will be hosting another Japanese Gourmet Fair. There is always lots of interesting foods to try out at these fairs. Go check this fair out if you are nearby and want to try some new Japanese foods.

A new ramen to try!
I have no idea what the name of this ramen is. No freakin' idea.
Japanese Crepes!!
Oh my!
This photo is not big enough but this is a preview of what will be offered this weekend.
Okonomiyaki stand, I believe this is a veggie pancake covered in a sweet teriyaki-like sauce. I can't remember if I've ever tried this before.
Mitsuwa Market - Costa Mesa
665 Paularino Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 557-6699


Mitsuwa Market - Torrance
21515 S. Western Ave
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 782-0335

True Food Kitchen - Newport Beach, CA

About a month ago during a long run with some of my Back Bay running buddies, I overhead 2 of them talking about a new organic restaurant that just opened its doors over the summer at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Yeah, I learn a lot of things on those long runs. I mean you really get to know a person when you spend 2-3 hours doing nothing but run and sweat. ;) Anyways, back to True I drove by the restaurant later that week to have a look at the outside and it was very simple and had a really nice patio area with a long rectangular fire-pit and cushioned seating, perfect for outside dinner with friends when the weather is nice. I ended up coming back here on my actual birthday to have dinner. Unfortunately it had been rainy the whole day, so the outside patio area was all wet. But the inside was really neat. The whole place has a very natural feel to it. Lots of wood everywhere...floor, tables. The bar is pretty awesome as well! Great area to sit while waiting for your table. They serve mixed drinks with a very fresh twist. I just walked by and noticed all the potted wheat-grass and fruit/veggies that adorned the bar, I didn't order anything so I cannot comment on the drinks. Perhaps just for the sake of being thorough on this review, I should go back and try out a few drinks. ;) Once again...the things I do for this blog. :)

We sat in an area of the restaurant that could be sectioned off for cooking classes and yoga I was told. Lululemon sometimes rents this area out for yoga sessions followed by a healthy lunch. Yes, please! I love this large wooden table. I wish I had one at home. So much surface space to work on. It would probably take up all the space in my apartment.

Honey Lemonade $3 - you can definitely taste the honey in this lemonade.

Shrimp Dumplings (Shiitake mushrooms, ginger and cilantro) $11 - this was really tasty with a savory broth! I would definitely order this again.

A close-up of the tastiness

Turkey Burger (Provolone, lettuce, tomato, avocado on a flax seed bun) - $12. The massaged kale salad was really good.

Chicken Sausage Pizza (tomato and fennel - I ordered mine without cheese) - $12. This was amazing!

Flour-less chocolate cake over pecan caramel sauce with vanilla ice cream on the side.

They also have a wine cellar room that is perfect for business dinners or private parties because this area can be closed. It is encased in glass walls.

I came back again on 3/19/2011. 

True Food Kitchen - Fashion Island
451 Newport Center Dr.
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 644-2400

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Movie and a Dinner at the Cheesecake Factory

Last week, I actually went out on a Friday night because it was a recovery week for me. I haven't done that in a LONG time due to my long runs early Saturday mornings. Seriously, I've never even thought about how much time marathon training takes out of my regular life. That was until I was out late on this particular Friday and I had this monologue going on in my head as I sat waiting for my dinner at the Cheesecake Factory..."wait, what am I doing out this late, I should be in bed getting my sleep in...oh wait, this is recovery week...phew." Man, what a life. But I had a great time on date night. I went to see Hereafter (directed by Clint Eastwood). It was good except when it ended, I was kinda expecting more and was disappointed when there was no more. We had gone to an early showing of the movie so we decided to grab a late dinner (10pm) but even at that time, the local hangout where this theater is located still had a 30 min wait time at every single restaurant nearby. Gah?!?

I forgot to take a photo of the front of the restaurant so this will have to do.
Look at them cheesecakes mocking me with all their deliciousness.
*Drool*...Brownie Sundae Cheesecake...I also noticed that they have a red velvet cheesecake. I almost died!
I'm not sure why they have these little Ty toys for sale here.
This is the Ahi Tartare from their Small Bites Section for $6.95. It is raw tuna with avocado and soy-ginger sesame sauce. Seriously good! Seriously!
These are Vietnamese Tacos for $5.95, it is steamed buns with roasted pork and marinated veggies. Amazing! In the back is a small sausage pizza/flatbread but I'm not sure of the details since I didn't have any.
Sliders, I didn't eat these but they are your basic sliders. I was told they were good! Love the Cheesecake Factory's Small Bites menu. 
Since I could not have cheesecake, I got a small sample of Pumpkin Pie at Pinkberry. I'm not suppose to eat this either but I am naughty sometimes. Plus, I got a $2 off coupon. Win!
Oh it was tasty!

Awe...I saw this in the window of an art store. Love!
Came back here on another occasion and had this tuna sashimi. This is also on the small bites menu.
Calamari w/ tartare and cocktail sauce
Pulled pork burger
Side of french fries

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

2011 Big Sur Marathon - I Signed Up!

Date: May 1, 2011
Location: Big Sur to Carmel, CA
Start: 6:45am
Finish: ??:??:??
Pre-race commentary: Gulp!!

Post-race: The above elevation chart is for the original Big Sur Marathon course. This year due to the collapse of a section of the road on the PCH, a new course was devise. I heard this happened once before a few years back. They will go back to the original course next year after everything gets repaired but for now let's see what this change will hold. I may even  go back next year to ran this course as it was meant to be. I'll let ya know! ;^)

Monday, October 25, 2010

What's going on for Halloween?

I love Halloween! I love it because I love to play dress up and for the third year in a row, I will be dressing up in some crazy get-up. I loved Halloween as a child but my parents were not always able to afford to buy or make me a costume, so now that I am an adult, I go nuts! My family and I have hosted a themed costume party for the past 3 years and we always have such a blast. Prior to recent years, I only remember dressing up for Halloween a couple of times but I am unable to locate those photos. Costumes that I've wore in the past have included: Sen (Spirited Away), Esmeralda (Hunchback of Notre Dame), and Princess Leia (white dress). I'm sure I'm forgetting one. This past weekend, I went out searching for make-up for this year's costume. Can you guess what I am going to be this year?

2010: Here's a hint. Ok, it isn't a very good hint but you will likely see a photo soon! (theme: Tim Burton movies)
2009: Harley Quinn (theme: Heroes and Villians)
2008: Evil queen from Snow White (does she have a name?)
Here's just another photo of the costume (theme: Disney)
2007: I didn't dress up this year but here is a lovely photo of my puppy trying to eat this pumpkin.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Slimming Down

I have to admit that earlier in the year I was eating much healthier than I had been lately. I even managed to slim down a bit but recent marathon training schedule had caused me to consume carbs again in order to fuel my long runs and eating too much carbs is just so easy to do. I mean, that stuff is just delicious. And when I say carbs, I am referring to pasta, bread and rice/noodles. I also started eating a lot of sugar again in the form of cupcakes and was consuming more meat...more fatty meat. I was also eating bigger portions which I felt was just over doing it a bit since I really didn't need to be consuming that many calories. All this mindless eating and running has caused me to lose a lot of muscle weight and even though I have not really gained scale weight, the combination of me running more and strength training less has made me flabby in places that I had once worked so hard to get rid of. that Chicago Marathon training is over, I am going back to a healthier diet of veggies, grains, fruits and the occasional lean meat. I'm cutting carbs and sugar again. I've already started and it was shaky at first. Those sugar withdrawals are terrible. But I am getting back into the swing of things. So the first thing I did was go to my local organic market and picked up some fresh produce. I haven't cooked in a couple of months. Yeah that's terrible. I also have not been eating a whole lot of leafy greens like I use too. For dinner, I mostly ate out and would divide my meals in two so that I could eat the other half at the next meal. I ate turkey on wheat everyday for lunch for the past few months.

No more, I am going to start making my meals again because I was feeling so much better when I was leaner and I think running better as well.

Butternut squash, this was the first time I purchased one and cooked with it. It was hard to peel the outer part off the squash. I had to work for it! :) But I ended up roasting it with some olive oil and some salt.
I also made a batch of massaged kale salad in olive oil, salt and lemon juice. I love this leafy green!
Sister K recently gave me a fancy high end bottle of olive oil from Williams Sonoma and I have to say that this stuff is really tasty. I can see why it cost so much. Thank you Sister K! I'm really enjoying cooking with it!
Roasted butternut squash. It was tasty!
A couple of nights later, I purchased this lot and cut it all up and roasted it all. I also baked up a turkey meatloaf that I had purchased at the Sprouts Market but I forgot to take a photo of that. The meatloaf was too salty anyways. I think they may have accidently put too much salt in it. I may try to make my own soon.
This is the AFTER photo! So delicious!
I also picked up these dates with almonds. I've seen them many times before but never bought them until now. They are SO good! They are the perfect little treat after meals. Not too sweet and very soft and moist!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Russian Tea Time - Chicago

While I was in Chicago two weeks ago, one night over dinner, a couple of my running buddies mentioned that they were going to have afternoon tea the next day at the Peninsula Hotel and Sister K and I were jealous and wanted to go too. However, the Peninsula Hotel only served afternoon tea at 2 seatings on Saturday, 2:30 and 4:30pm, and as luck would have it, the next day was the day before the Chicago Marathon and our running group was planning to have an early dinner at 5pm and having afternoon tea at either 2:30 or 4:30pm would have spoiled our appetites for dinner. Plus, I was concerned about having all that sweets before the race. So, after the race on Sunday, I still had afternoon tea on the brain so I called up the Peninsula Hotel to make a reservation for tea that afternoon. Unfortornately, they only had one seating for afternoon tea on Sunday at 4:30pm and the running group once again had a celebratory dinner planned at a steak place that evening. At last, it was not meant to be for us to have afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hotel. I hear there is a Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. ;)

To make a long story even longer, I ended up doing a little research on the internet and found out that the Russian Tea Time was just a few blocks from our hotel. So Sister K and I went to give it a go. It was an ok place for afternoon tea. I've definitely had better but for $22.95, this was about half the price of afternoon tea at the Peninsula. The service was great since it was in the middle of the afternoon but I've had tea in much nicer places with more upscale fare. This was good for what it was and it satisfied my need for tea! :)

I already posted this photo once but here it is again.

Another one I've already posted but it shows the tiers and part of the restaurant, so here it is again.

Top tier: one each of golden raisins and cranberry scones with whipping cream and marmalade. (You can see Sister K at the back of this photo gettin' ready to snap a

Middle tier: assorted finger sandwiches and a mini quiche. The ones on this side are mine so there is no cream cheese, they don't really look right. But if you look to the back of the photo, Sister K's sandwiches are the normal ones with the spreads. The mini quiches was tasty.

Bottom tier: an assortment of Russian pastries. Ohmygosh, more than I had wanted or could have wished for. They were really generous with these cookies! I was eating these for the next few days.

They gave us more sweets on the side!

And because it was a hot day in Chicago, I had ice tea instead of the hot tea. The waiter kept pushing this "Russian" blend but I went with the iced Blood Orange tea. Delicious! I think Sister K went with the Russian blend because the waiter was so nice to us and he really wanted us to order the Russian blend...hahaha!

The restaurant was adorned by lots of fresh flowers that smelled amazing! Plus, as you look around, there are Russian dolls displayed here and there.

Cheers to having afternoon tea after running 26.2 miles through Chicago!

Sorry so blurry. But I wanted to show what the inside of the restaurant looked like and this was the only photo I had. :(

Russian Tea Time
77 East Adam Street
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 360-0000