Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bah Humbug!

It's weird but I was looking back at an older post I wrote last year around this time and it seems that for the most part I just dread this time of year. I've been catching up on reading some blogs and see how people just love the holidays with their baking, wrapping, shopping, eating...but I can't stand it. I feel like such a Scrooge. Every year as the holidays rolls around, I feel like I want to dig myself a hole or crawl into a cave until it blows over. I hate what the holidays do to people. All around I see people rushing here and there in a mad hurry to get "stuff". Maybe I just feel this way because I live in the OC where materialism seems to be at its worse. I see parents buying outrageously expensive "things" for their kids. It's madness! I remember that some of my best Christmases were those when I was young and my sisters and I exchanged handmade gifts. This year all the rain during the busiest shopping season made everything that much worse. Don't get me wrong, I love what the Holidays stand for, I don't like all the commercialism and materialism that goes with it.

It drives me crazy how people use the holidays as an excuse to be rude to everyone around them. For example, the other day I was shopping at a strip mall and stood at the side of the curb for the longest time because no drivers would stop to let me cross the path to get to my car and it was raining! Anyhow, maybe I am just crabby because I've been eating so much crap. I was reading Tina's post today about eating too much sugar and I can totally relate. I've been eating most of my meals on the fly because I've been so busy running around. That's another thing, the overeating during the holidays. I'm telling you, I can't wait until this is done with.

On a positive note, I was finally able to go out for a 6 mile run because the rain decided to give it rest for the time being but the path where I normally run was still muddy and flooded so I ended up just running until I hit one of these patches and then turned around and ran the other way. Can't wait until all this rain is done. I know I am spoiled by the good weather we have here but if I wanted to live some where that rains a lot, I would move to Seattle.

Ok, I feel better now. And with that I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Holidays! And remember, it is about the memories we share with the ones we love and not the crap that we open on Christmas day. I'll be back in a few days with hopefully a better outlook on the days ahead. I am really looking forward to the start of a new year and the chance to start anew!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

iPod Nano - 8 GB Review

I ran into an old friend at the gym the other day and he asked me how I liked the new iPod Nano and I told him. Afterwards, I realized that I should blog about what I had told him in case anyone cared about what I thought of it. 

Earlier this year my iPod Shuffle (Pinky) finally decided to crap out on me after 3 years of running/traveling companionship. I was heart-broken. Yes, I am one of those people who hates having to replace things. I especially hate replacing electronics because I'm not tech savvy and the thought of having to relearn to use something that I was already comfortable with, makes me want to cry. Plus, I had won that Shuffle as a door prize from my company and it was engraved. It was sad, the Shuffle died a slowed death. One day, I was out on a long run and it just shut off 3 miles into my run on a full charge. I pressed on the play button and nothing happened. I pressed it again but this time harder and it turned back on and everything was fine. I knew something was wrong but I was in denial and continue to use it. Then the stopping became more frequent and there were times that I was not able to turn it back on no matter how hard I pressed that play button. Then one day I took it out for what would be its last run with me and it turned off 1 mile into the run and I could not get it to turn back on. It was at this point that I realized that I had to move on. I was really sad for a few weeks and actually ran without any music. MC offered to lend me his iPod but he had the really big one that was not so good with running and I realized that I would rather just not deal with it.

Then on my birthday this year, MC got me the iPod Nano 8GB in blue because it was almost the size of my now broken Shuffle and it had more features. I call it Blue, yeah I am so creative with names. The 8GB unit retails for $149 while the 16 GB is $179. This thing really is small and it IS very cool but...

Some reasons why the iPod Nano is not so good for runners:

1) The touch screen feature is neat but not so good when you are running and want to change songs. You actually need to un-clip the device and look at it to change songs. It is very difficult to do this without un-clipping the device which is such a pain.

2) This second reason is somewhat related to the first one in that the touch screen is very precise. This means that if you do not hit the next or back song button right on the arrow, it will not change. Imagine having to do this while you are racing.

3) All this can be overcome by setting up a playlist. But I don't do this.

4) I guess more features doesn't always mean that it works better for some. My old Shuffle was very simplistic. There was only a play, stop, back and forward buttons and if you want to get fancy it had a shuffle function. I guess I am just behind on the times.

5) Finally, maybe it is just me but every time I try to use the FM radio function, I can never get a clear signal of the stations I want to listen to and I normally just listen to the popular music stations here in LA.

Using my Nano on the plane ride to the Chicago Marathon. This thing is awesome when you are not running.
Look at all the pretty colors. Just like candy!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Restaurent @The Getty Museum

A few weekends ago, the sisters and I decided to surprise Sister S for her birthday at The Restaurant at the Getty Museum for brunch. I asked my brother-in-law to tell her that it was just going to be the two of them at the brunch. I made up some story about how we were all really busy and could not make it and that we would catch up with her later in the evening for some cake. When she showed up at the restaurant that morning, I couldn't tell if she was surprised or not to see all of us there. I felt kind of bad surprising her like that because she had mentioned something to me about wanting a low key birthday but that was after I had already planned everything. Anyhow, this is a really nice place with a nice view of the LA skyline on a clear day. The restaurant actually told me that they do a lot of birthday surprises there. Interesting! Why interesting? Well because you should note that if you plan to come here for a birthday that they frown upon cake cutting or cupcake eating within the restaurant. They will let you eat it there but they will charge you dearly. They also frown upon gift opening. They will let you bring the gifts in but don't even think about opening anything inside. We ended up eating the cupcakes we got at Crumbs (Beverly Hills) on the patio area just outside of the restaurant. Kind of inconvenient but then again it is a nice place to be, so can't complain too much. No, wait, I can complain more because it started to rain a bit so we had to quickly eat and then disband. This place is pricey but it makes up for it with amazing views, plus the fact that it is at the Getty Center and the food is quite good. Maybe just not so good if you show up with any sort of cake or presents.

The Restaurant @the Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA

This is the patio area just outside of the Restaurant where we ate the cupcakes.
View of LA, look at the smog!

Autumn in Los Angeles.
Holiday colors.

My order - Crab Cakes Benedict! The best Benedict I've had so far.
Chicken Sausage and Veggie Hash
Croissant French Toast
Sister K's - Bagel and Lox
 Sister J's (blog: A Case of the Runs) - Veggie Frittata 
I can't remember what this was. Sorry!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hoy Ka Thai Noodle - Monterey Park, CA

Guess what? It's restaurant review time! This time around we are going to a humble Thai restaurant in Monterey Park. This place opened up just recently, this year, I believe. Sister S and Sister K had been talking non-stop about this place for a few months before I eventually went there, which so happened to be the day before I ran the Malibu Marathon. There was nothing special about the date itself, I just so happened to be hungry after picking up my bib and timing chip at the race expo in Zuma Beach and it so happened to be lunch time. I have to say I was really excited to go when they suggested this place. I was lucky that they remembered that I had wanted to try this place but the opportunity had never came up because I live in the OC and only visit that area a few times a month. I hadn't been this excited to go to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a long time. Mainly because my sisters know my taste buds pretty well so I was sure I was going to like this place.

The restaurant itself is located in the back corner of a small U-Shaped strip mall. I can tell this place gets crazy with people trying to find parking during regular meal hours but I think we had just missed that since it was almost 2pm. It was clean when we walked in and being late in the day, we got a table right away. The prices are reasonable and my brother-in-law tells me that the food is Thai style home cooking. This is not your regular tom yum/pad thai joint. It is so much more! Lookin' forward to going back already. I will post more finds when I go back.

I'm very sorry but I cannot remember what this dish was called but it is a pork sausage appetizer with roasted whole peanuts, sliced raw ginger, raw cabbage leaves for wrapping and whole green chilies.

Again, not sure of the exact name of this dish but it is fried pork belly stir fried with chopped green beans, chillies and green onions. This dish is amazing!

This dish I actually remember. It is the Hoy Ka Noodle, named after the restaurant. I know, I am such a good food blogger...NOT! It is a flat-rice-noodle soup in a fish sauce type broth with, ground pork balls, fish balls, sliced cooked liver, ground peanuts, chashu, green onions and what seems like a little-bit-of-everything. The broth is really flavorful! Very comforting and delicious in my opinion.

Hoy Ka Thai Noodle
230 N. Garfield Ave #D12
(Garfield Garden Plaza)
Monterey Park, CA 91754

As I'd mentioned this was the day before the Malibu Marathon, so I was staying at Sister S's place since it was much closer to the race and she had so kindly agreed to drive me to the start the next morning. I ended making some random pasta, Italian sausage, and asparagus dish for everyone as my carbo load meal. Then we had a random dessert pig-out. Ok, that didn't sound too healthy. We sampled different desserts! Good thing I was running the next day! :D

Some tea to go with dessert.

Autumn bouquet!

Random pasta dinner-a-la-me!

Dessert 1: Gingerbread men from Trader Joe's!!

Dessert 2: Pumpkin Pie from Marie Calendar's

Dessert 3: Peanut butter cookies from Trader Joe's

Needed more tea after all that dessert! Then it was off to bed because I had a marathon to run the next day.

Monday, December 13, 2010

2010 XTERRA Crystal Cove Trail Run - 17K (~10 miles) - Race Report

Date: December 12, 2010
Location: Crystal Cove State Park
Start: 8:00am
Finish: 1:45:11

I've been curious about trail running since I discovered a couple of trail runners' blog awhile back. Then I started seeing Glenn running them and writing reviews about them on his blog. This got me more interested because he was the first person that I actually have met in real life (outside of the blog world) that did these races. In particular I saw this XTERRA Crystal Cove Trail Run on his calendar a few months back and decided to go to their website to check it out. It was appealing to me for a couple of reasons. First, I've been lazy as heck about running lately due mostly to my busy work schedule and the crazy holiday season. Second, I wanted to get a longish run in this past weekend and needed something to motivate me to run faster than I normally do. Third, this race was not too far from me and the distance was manageable. So about 2 days before the race, I went to their website to sign up only to discover that they were sold out. Glenn twitted and asked if I was still planning to run this race and I told him the sad story of how I had waited too long to sign up. It was at this point that Glenn asked if I was interested in using his race entry because he was still recovering from some knee issues. Of course, I was interested! So after some brief communications and some very minor paperwork on race morning, I was officially signed up and stood at the starting line at 8am this past Sunday. Glenn ended up being at the race as well as a volunteer at the 3 mile marker water station. That was the station right after a steep climb. I looked like death, ate a GU, said hi/bye to Glenn, had some water and headed back out. Glenn said that was the worse hill, lies...all lies! There were so many others and some so steep, I could not even run up on. But mentally glad that he had told me that the other hill was the worse one because I would have been really discouraged had me told me otherwise.

I did some searching on this event the other day and found out that the race date had been moved twice already due to weather conditions. Didn't know this race had such a sordid past. LOL.

Regarding the race itself, I want to start off by saying that this was my first trail race. I'm a road race runner so this was very different and difficult for me since I rarely run on dirt or hills. I didn't even train very much for this, that was stupid on my part but it was really fun out there. Once again HOT but really fun. It was scenic, quiet and with barely 300 runners, it was not crowded and had a very small race feel to it that I love. Running those hills had me breathing really hard out there and running down some of those steep downhills freaked me out a little. I kept thinking that I was going to slip and fall on my behind and roll down a hill. Yeah, good times! I did a lot of uphill walking and then running as fast as I could on more flatter areas. Lots of different surfaces on that course...dirt, gravel, mud, grass, a little bit of everything that a road runner is not use to. I liked it but...I think I am only going to do these once in a while, all the ups and downs really messed with my mind. The parking near the base camp for this event filled up quickly so I had to park down the street at the beach parking and walk about what felt like a mile to get to the starting area. That kind of sucked but they did serve breakfast, complete with scrambled eggs, fruit, muffins, croissant and even coffee, so it wasn't all bad. :D

This was an eventful weekend because I got a call Sunday afternoon from my Sisters informing me that my parents got a new puppy. So of course I hopped in my car and drove there to see him. Bruno...that's his name. He is adorable. This was on top of the fact that I was on my way up to Los Angeles to attend and prep for my boss' holiday party. I woke on at 5:30am and didn't go to bed until 2am. What a long day it was! But after some sleep, I jumped out of bed this morning and was ready to go. For the most part, I think I was just happy because the month is almost coming to an end and my work load will shortly lighten up so that I can go out and run again.

Volunteers preparing the breakfast.
I don't know why I took this porta-pottie photo.
Late Reg table - that was where I did the minor paperwork for the bib transfer.

What a pretty day!
Runners waiting around the Starting Line around 8am.
You can see the line of runners on the edge of that hill and the ocean in the back ground. Amazing!


Managed to get a photo with Glenn before he took off.
My best buddy helping me model off my new medal.

This medal is actually really small.
Gettin' ready to par-tay!
Taking Sister K back to her dorm.
New addition to the family, Bruno!
Finally got to the holiday party after battling traffic on the 101 and Wilshire.