Friday, March 23, 2012

The Iced Milk Phenomenon! (Half & Half)

I'm going to venture out on a limb here by saying that by now I believe that most Southern Californians have probably had a boba milk tea or two. If you haven't, you should. I'm not going to go into what a boba is or isn't because there are already lots of posts out there describing the anatomy of a boba drink. Yes it's true.

What I am going to talk about in this post is a new phenomenon in the milk tea/boba universe. Let me explain. In the beginning, there was tea. Then milk was added to tea to give it richness and body. Then if that weren't enough, they added boba (tiny chewy jelly-like beads). And it was good. Well, not good for me since I am lactose intolerant, but good for everyone else that wasn't. Big names like Tapioca Express and Lollicup dominated this domain for many years. They still do.

Then one day "iced milk" came on the scene and changed the milk tea continuum. I don't know when it happened exactly but probably somewhere around the time of cute spoons from Yogurtland but before Ice Fluff (and that's a whole different post). Half & Half, the new kid in town specializing in iced milk quickly developed a cult-like following. It doesn't always look so calm and quiet like the photo below. We came on a Sunday afternoon and was surprised to find a rather short line. That never happens. Never! There are currently 3 locations in the San Gabriel Valley and there are lines coming out of all 3 locations. Always. No matter what time of day you go. It is worse if you go during prime meal hours.

From the time you step into line to the time you actually get your drink in hand, you can expect a lapse time of 45+ minutes. Yes, people wait for this and come back again and again. I hate waiting. So this is a nightmare to me. I only ever come here with my family since I cannot even drink this elusive iced milk.

The first thing you will notice about Half & Half is that their drink cups are wider in circumference and shorter in height. Sure it's a good marketing idea but these cups do not fit into your average car cup holders. Thinking about drinking this on the drive home, forget about it. Plus they are awkward to hold since they are so wide. It's a two-hander for sure.

The other thing you will notice about Half & Half is that their entire drink prep area is very closely guarded by privacy glass. Want a peek? Too bad. I'm surprised they didn't get mad at me for taking all these photos. Felt like I got away with something. This is the pick up window. The only place where the inside meets the outside. When a drink order is ready, the small curtain is lifted and everyone crowds around it like they are about to win a prize. Not your turn? Well than stand back. You can almost hear a sigh of sadness as the curtain is once again drawn close and the waiting continues.

So this is what everyone waits for. In particular, the milky drink in the front of this photo. It is milk...with ice and caramel and boba. And this is what people wait 45+ minutes to get. I would like to tell you that the wait is justified but I can't because I've never tasted it. But those who have informed me that it is special. Judging by the long lines I can't help but to think that I am somehow missing out.

Half and Half (Tea Express)
3007 Huntington Dr, Ste 104
Pasadena, CA 91107
(626) 844-1889

Monday, March 19, 2012

2012 Ojai Marathon - Training Log

Ojai Marathon 2012 - Training Log

Week of 5/28:
Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday: 2.5 miles, Teach spin 1hr
Wednesday: 2 miles, BW workout 30 mins
Thursday: 4.5 miles, Teach spin 1hr
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: Rest Day
Sunday: Ojai Race Day! 26.2!
Total: 35.2

Week of 5/21:
Monday: 5 miles
Tuesday: Teach spin 1hr
Wednesday: Teach spin 1hr
Thursday: 30 min Tabata workout, Teach spin lhr
Friday: 4.5 miles
Saturday: 12 miles
Sunday: Rest Day!
Needed: 26
Total: 21.5

Week of 5/14:
Monday: 6.5 miles
Tuesday: strength training, teach spin 1hr
Wednesday: Rest Day
Thursday: teach spin 1hr
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 16 miles
Sunday: Rest Day!
Needed: 42
Total: 22.5

Week of 5/7:
Monday: 4.5 miles
Tuesday: teach spin 1hr
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: teach spin 1hr
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: Race Day! 13.1!
Sunday: Rest Day
Needed: --
Total: 23.6

Week of 4/30:
Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday: Horseback riding for 2 hrs
Wednesday: Sea kayaking for 2 hrs
Thursday: Rest Day
Friday: 4.5 miles
Saturday: Rest Day
Sunday: Race Day! 13.1!
Needed: --
Total: 17.6

Week of 4/23:
Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: Rest Day
Thursday: 3.5 miles
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: Rest Day
Sunday: Race Day! 26.2!
Needed: --
Total: 34.7

Week of 4/16:
Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: Rest Day
Thursday: Rest Day
Friday: Ragnar SoCal
Saturday: Ragnar SoCal - 14.3 miles total
Sunday: Rest Day!
Needed: 34
Total: 18.3

Week of 4/9:
Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday: Unplanned rest day
Wednesday: Teach spin
Thursday: Teach spin
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: Rest Day
Sunday: 7.5 miles
Needed: 50

Week of 4/2:
Monday: Cross-fit
Tuesday: 6 miles, Teach spin
Wednesday: Cross-fit, Teach spin
Thursday: Teach spin
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: Race Day! 13.1!
Needed: --
Total: 19.1

Week of 3/26:
Monday: 4.5 miles
Tuesday: 5 miles, Teach Spin
Wednesday: Teach spin x2
Thursday: 4 miles, Teach spin
Friday: 4.5 tempo miles, cross-fit
Saturday: active rest day
Sunday: 11.5 miles
Needed: 38
Total: 29.5

Week of 3/19: Week 0
Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday: Teach spin
Wednesday: Rest Day
Thursday: Teach spin
Friday: 4.5 miles
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Rest Day!
Needed: --
Total: 4.5

Sunday, March 18, 2012

2012 Los Angeles Marathon - Race Recap

Date: March 18, 2012
Location: Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier
Finish: 4:32:01

This year marked the 7th consecutive years I've ran the LA Marathon. It was my very first marathon and I have this crazy goal of running at least 10 consecutive years in a row. I am more than halfway there. I've ran this race year after year because it is my hometown (not my current hometown but my childhood hometown) race. It's gone through some radical changes (both owner and course wise) just like me, I've shared some very memorable experiences with family and friends on this course but most importantly I run this course year after year to remind myself that running is not just something I cross off my bucket list and forget about. It has become a big part of my life so I want to keep the streak alive for as long as I can. 

The night before the race, I laid in bed not able to fall asleep. My nerves were getting the better of me. I was concerned about so many things. Mainly that I had not trained for this race whatsoever and didn't think that I would even be able to finish the race. I was really worried. I hear the rain outside my window as I struggled to fall asleep. Hail was hitting my window pane like a million tiny metal beads. So loud. My pup was not having a hard time falling asleep and was snoring. So cute. I finally fell asleep around midnight. My alarm went off at 4am. My friend D arrived ten minutes before 5am to carpool with me to the race. We were out the door by 5am to make the drive to LA. It was raining pretty hard in Irvine when we left but by the time we got to LA, it was dry with only a couple of gloomy looking clouds still lingering in the sky.

I think we had left for the race 30 minutes earlier last year because by the time we got to the Stadium Way exit around 5:50am, it was already really jammed up. We took a detour on Fwy 2 to bypass all the traffic. When we got to the Dodger Stadium parking lot, we stayed in the car to keep warm. I left to use the potty and came back 30 minutes later. Long slow moving lines. Forty-five minutes before the start of the general field, the sun even peeked out. I was so happy to see the sun. I was still worried that it was going to rain mid race. Never happened! It was a beautiful day for running. A bit windy near the ocean but overall I could not have asked for a better day. I wore three layers of clothes and that proved to be too much. I was a bit warm the entire race but I would rather be a bit warm than freezing any day.

This is the first time I've seen food at the starting line. I was too nervous to eat anything. I didn't even eat breakfast. I had a cup of coffee and ate 3 GUs during the race and I felt fine. It's been awhile since I've ran a marathon and I felt all out of sorts.

I took this photo seconds before the elite women started the race.

It's been a long day but I survived. My ankle held out for 23 miles and I could not have asked for any more than that. I decided that I was going to stick with D as long as I could at a 10 minute/mile pace and see how I felt at mile 10. Remember that even as I stood at the starting corral, I had so much self doubt that my ankle would make it through this many miles. I wanted to run a conservative pace just to make sure that I saved enough for the end. I made a deal with myself from the get go that if and when my ankle started to bother me that I would just walk the rest of the way. Luckily, I didn't end up walking as much as I thought I would have had too. I think D and I separated somewhere after the 10 mile mark. It was at this point that I turned on my iTunes and chugged slowly along for the next 16 miles. Running this race reminded me how much I still loved running/racing even though my injury had taken me out of the running game this past month. I never thought that I would say this but I am happy with my time today. I ran this marathon with no long run training over 13 miles. I ran a couple of half marathons in January and February and then did a 10 mile ankle test run last weekend. I feel so fortunate to have finished in one piece and with a smile!

LA Marathon #7!! Done! 


Mile 1 - 10:12
Mile 2 - 9:38
Mile 3 - 9:58
Mile 4 - 9:34
Mile 5 - 11:13 Walking up that incline towards Disney Concert Hall. De-layering at this point. Warm.
Mile 6 - 10:19
Mile 7 - 10:09
Mile 8 - 9:44
Mile 9 - 10:05
Mile 10 - 17:08 Potty Break. Stood in line for 10 minutes. :(
Mile 11 - 9:39
Mile 12 - 10:12
Mile 13 - 9:38
Mile 14 - 9:33
Mile 15 - 9:35
Mile 16 - 9:50
Mile 17 - 10:42
Mile 18 - 9:24
Mile 19 - 9:42
Mile 20 - 9:38
Mile 21 - 9:53
Mile 22 - 9:41
Mile 23 - 9:51
Mile 24 - 13:10 Ankle started to bother me at this point so I walked a bit.
Mile 25 - 9:36
Mile 26 - 9:12

Saturday, March 17, 2012


This Yoplait yogurt in strawberry is one of my earliest childhood memory. It was the early 80s, I was probably 6 or 7 and my family was living in Boston at the time. We had only been in the US for a couple of weeks. One Saturday morning, my family and I went on a walk near a wharf. I remember it was near a wharf because there a guy there shucking and selling oysters and I remember having one. It was fresh! I was an adventurous eater even at that young young I guess. Anyhow, I also remembered that there was a Yoplait vendor there that day handing out free yogurt. Not just a sample but the whole container. We were very poor at the time so getting a container of yogurt all to myself was a real treat. My mom didn't like it. She said it was sour tasting. She still doesn't really like yogurt to this day. She always says it tastes like old spoiled milk. Yogurt was not eaten very often in Vietnam I guess. From that very first taste, I was in love with this creamy treat. I ate it often, even after I discovered that I was lactose intolerant. I know some people are able to tolerant yogurt but I am not one of them. A couple of years ago, I stopped eating yogurt all together. It was a sad time in my eating life. I felt like I had lost a taste sensation from my childhood. But I practiced discipline and have not had one in a very long time.

Then recently I had that old strawberry yogurt craving. And for a second, I thought about just having one and dealing with the stomach cramps but I think that I've been suffering enough lately so I went to my local health food store and raided the alternative dairy case. There are A LOT of substitutions these days. I think soy may have been an early contender but now there is also coconut, almond and even rice milk yogurt. So that's the good news. The bad news is that they are far from tasting like yogurt. Here let me explain...

Amande Cultured Almond Milk (Strawberry) - had a weird almond taste. I guess I am just not a big almond milk fan. I've had almond milk before so I like almond milk enough but I didn't like this. Weird after taste so I didn't finish this one.

WholeSoy & Co. (Raspberry) - this is the first time I tried a soy yogurt. I am not a fan. I would rather not eat yogurt again than to have to eat this. Thumbs down.

So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk (Strawberry) - this was the best tasting of the bunch but it was not creamy. It was runny and smoothie like but it tasted the closest to the Yoplait strawberry yogurt if you can overlook the runny texture. This was the only one I actually finished.

Almond Dream (Strawberry) - this one had a really strong almond taste that I could not get over. It was thick in texture but it was not creamy and that heavy almond taste caused to me toss this out after one taste.

Ricera Brown Rice Milk (Strawberry) - I would rate this one better than the Almond Dream one but not by much. It didn't taste like yogurt. I toss this one out as well.

SO DELICIOUS Coconut Milk yogurt was the winner of this bunch. I wish that it was a little bit thicker in texture. I had a feeling that I would like this one best because I feel that coconut milk is the best substitution (taste-wise) in place of milk. I mean So Delicious was the first company that made it possible for me to experience the sensation of eating ice cream again after 10 years. That stands out big in my mind! ;) So that's my little yogurt experiment.

LAM Expo

Knowing that today was going to rain like crazy, I rearranged my schedule around yesterday so that I could carpool with my coworkers up to Dodger Stadium to pick up my bib.

We got there just as the expo opened. We walked around a bit and picked up some samples. I got another pair of CEP leg sleeves. It was pretty uneventful.

Looking for my name on the lead vehicles. 

Starting line

The corral line-up. 

Tomorrow I will be running my 17th marathon and my 7th LA Marathon. After last years' monsoon, I didn't think that anyone could ever talk me into running in the rain again but here we are again. May the weather have mercy on all us runners out there tomorrow. Good luck to everyone running a race tomorrow!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Daylight Saving and a "Long" Run

Saturday morning I went out for a 10-mile run. It was the first and only long run I've done in preparation for the LA Marathon because of all the races I packed into the month of January and parts of February and then getting injured a couple of weeks ago. This upcoming weekend is going to be a tragedy. More than usual.

And look at this madness! "Showers" on race day. I hope "showers" is a code word for no rain. I don't have any delusions of grandeur for this race. I seriously just want to cross that finish line in one piece.

After my run on Saturday, we headed to Cucina Enoteca for a leisurely lunch. I've had a bad week at work and nothing soothes my soul like a drawn out leisurely meal. 

I had a bowl of Tuscan Kale soup and the Farmer's Chopped Salad. Both were amazing! I forgot to order the dressing on the side for the salad so it was more heavily dressed than I liked but it was still good.

M had pizza and those amazing truffle fries!

By now I hope everyone has adjusted their clocks forward to reflect Daylight Saving Time. Don't know why they still do this. I don't know about everyone else but this always messes up my internal clock and it takes me weeks to get readjusted. I had a hard time waking up this morning and missed my morning workout. It's race week, I better shape up and quick!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Kickin' Crab - Costa Mesa, CA

Before I start talking about this Kickin' Crab place, I wanted to give you an update on my foot. After 2-3 weeks of very little to absolutely no running, I think my foot is on the mends. I ran 4 miles on the treadmill yesterday with no pain. I can't tell you how happy those 4 little miles made me.

Okay, so back to food. As I mentioned above I haven't been running these past couple of weeks because I hurt my foot a couple of weeks ago during a routine run. After I hurt my foot, I had some extra time on my hands since I wasn't going to the gym or spending it running. So where was I? Basically, I was laid out on the couch with my foot elevated doing none other than watch TV.

One night we caught an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network. Guy Fieri was somewhere in the South visiting different Cajun and Soul restaurants. M was intrigued! He said that he had never had Cajun food before. I was not shocked but mortified. I told him he was missing out. We started searching Yelp to find some Cajun food in Orange County. One thing lead to another and the very next evening we ended up at the Kickin' Crab in Costa Mesa.

I was pretty excited because I've been craving for some seafood lately. M was excited to try his first crawfish. I am proud of him. I would never have imagined him telling me this when we first met.

When we arrived, there were a couple of people in the front of the restaurant waiting around near the hostess's desk but there was no hostess. Those people were waiting for their to-go orders. After a couple of minutes, the hostess/waitress seated us. We came on a Wednesday evening around 6:30pm and it wasn't too crowded in there. The inside of the restaurant is nautical in decor. Think lots of fishing nets and heavy ropes. We were seated at a table covered by a sheet of waxed paper.

We checked out the menu. We decided to order the Kickin' Combo Deal #3, which included a little bit of everything. We sat around for about 10-15 minutes before someone finally came by to take our order. There was maybe 3-4 waitors/waitresses for the entire restaurant. Service was slow. Not because the staff was slow but I think because they were under-staffed.

After we placed our order, they brought us two small dish of salt and pepper and a bunch of lemon wedges. I squeezed a couple of lemon wedges into the s&p.

We sat around some more. Listening to some bumpin' rave music in the background. They turn it up as the night progresses. We started to dance a little bit in our chairs to pass the time. It was a long wait but our order finally came out. In good time too because we had built up quite an appetite from seated chair dancing. 

They put a bib on me and it wasn't of the running variety! I was surprised by the size of the lobster. I thought it was going to be small but it was pretty sizable.

The rest of the seafood under the lobster. Shrimp, crawfish, clam, sausage, potato and corn in a garlic-y Kickin' Style sauce which is the house special sauce in which they combine all their offered sauces into one "kickin'" sauce. It was butter-y, garlic-y, spicy and finger-lickin' good.

Someone was a happy guy! What a mess he made.

Of course eating here isn't without it's hazards. I sliced my finger opened good when I tried to break into that lobster. Luckily, they have band-aids here. I wonder if this happens to people often? Or if I am just super clumsy. I ended up asking for a pair of plastic gloves and they had that as well and so I continued eating. Yeah, nothing comes between me and eating, not even getting a nasty cut by that bad boy mc-lobster.

The bottom-line here is if you ever find yourself with a massive seafood craving and you don't want to wait in that massive line in front of the Boiling Crab and no one else can help and if you can find one near you (this one is across from the South Coast Plaza) and you don't mind dancing in your chair waiting for your order...come to the Kickin' Crab! They have it all! Rave music, waxed paper covered tables, fresh seafood and that sauce...oh that sauce!

The Kickin' Crab
3611 S Bristol St, Ste C
Santa Ana, CA 92704
(714) 754-8888

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Weekend Is Here!

I've been sitting in my office all week. I'm going to make it a point to spend time outdoors this weekend. My foot pain has gone away. I feel so lucky that R.I.C.E was all it took. It could have been much worse but I think the fact that I tried really hard to stay off my foot and not run for 1.5 weeks was what really helped speed the recovery along. It wasn't really all that hard to convince myself not to run. It was just too painful to do so. I was limping around the first couple of days. I missed my scheduled 20-mile training run for the LA Marathon last weekend. That run was actually pretty difficult for me to blow off but I just wasn't able to run one step. Missing that run created a lot of fear and concerns for my preparedness for my upcoming race. I think I finally came to accept that the training run wasn't going to happen when I started to think that if I had to that I would walk the marathon. I know, what a crazy thought! People always think it hurts more to run fast and it does but being on your feet for 6+ hours is just as painful. I am hoping to just run a conservation time, enjoy the course and just keep going until I reach the finish line. Keeping it simple!

This weekend I'm going to try to get in a long mid distance run. I don't know what my foot is going to feel like after a couple of miles so I am going to play it by ear foot. I just need to remind myself what it feels like to run again. It is not going to be pretty but it needs to be done.

Chicrunner tweeted about this March-Photo-A-Day and seeing that I did something similar last year, I thought that I would join in. I am just going to post the collage on March 31 instead of posting a photo each day. I know, that defeats the purpose but that is how I am choosing to do this.

Also, I think I am going to sign up for this free virtual race hosted by RunWithJess, if for no other reason than the fact that I really like this graphic. Head on over there to check it out. It's free and there are prizes! Good prizes! I'm taking about Sparkle Skirts, Nuun, Road ID, iTunes, GU Energy...I don't know about you but those are some of my favorite running things.