Running Reflections

The first week of August is an exciting one. Not because of the Cardamone wedding, but because I started my first week of half marathon training!

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(Actually, can any of my running friends look at this and make sure I’m not fucking myself over toward the end? Thanks!)

Incase you forgot, I’m hoping to run the Santa Barbara Half Marathon in November and actually had to change the long runs from Sundays to Wednesdays due to my school schedule. I’ve spent the last few months doing light runs here and there. Unfortunately, my base training plan had many holes due to work scheduling and vacations where running outside wasn’t possible.

Since today is Friday and I haven’t posted a Friday Five in over a month, I wanted to tell you:

Five Things I Have Learned As A New Runner

I don’t have a million pictures of myself running (which would be kind of weird) so instead, you’re in for a Google Images treat.

1. Hydration is really important

Everyone says this, but I really noticed the difference in my speed and endurance depending how hydrated I was the day before and during my run. No, I don’t drink as slickly as Senator Rubio above, but I do try to keep a bottle around me at all times.

2. Working out isn’t an excuse to buy Lululemon

Every time I hit a PR (which comes really easy when you’re only running three miles), I convince myself that I earned something from Lululemon. Bribing myself is not the most financially responsible thing I have done, although I must admit…my butt has never looked better in workout pants.

3. It’s all in the head. Well, sort of…

Running is definitely more of a mental dilemma than a physical one after a certain point. I find myself doing really well until my mind starts to wander, How long have I been running? Wow, it’s only been 1.5 miles? Is my Garmin working? After my mind shifts from auto focus to actually paying attention to my body moving, it all becomes an awkward game of QWOP.

4. Keep your pace

I always start my running feeling like Usain Bolt and hit my peak pretty early on and slug out the last x amount of miles.

P.S.: I ran my fastest mile today! (7:37) I also wanted to throw up on the side of the road for the first time. Two new records on the same day, yay!

5. Running sucks until you get good at it

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After my first few runs, I wondered what kind of crazies there were in the world to actually enjoy putting one’s body through the most unenjoyable task ever. It made me go through a series of denial and distrusting other people’s recommendations for anything. I woke up one day feeling a little crazy myself. I actually wanted to put my shoes on and go on a run, and so this madness begun.

Last week’s Friday Five: Five Ways to Prepare and Eat Mangos

I feel bad for not showing you any food this whole post, so I will tell you about a dinner date I had yesterday with one of my best friends, V.

Haven’t seen her since I came back from China and missed my lady terribly, so I took a short road trip to Concord, U.S.A. When she got off work, we walked over to their downtown area and caught up on everything that’s been happening between us. Crazy how easy the conversation flows between us, it’s like she knew what was on my mind before I even opened my mouth.

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We had Indian for dinner, which made me a very happy girl because nobody ever wants to go eat curry with me.

Chicken Vindaloo and Palak Paneer, yum.

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And my first Fro-yo ever: tart frozen yogurt with almonds, almond roca, cheese cake, graham crackers, strawberries and oreos.

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Runners, what’s your tip for a newbie? Favorite froyo combos?

Tostones de Lily

Free at last, free at last! School is officially in my past…until August that is. I’m going to stop right there because it’s actually the last thing I want to think about!

A lot of you were interested in my first day of pre-stage training for my first half marathon! Well, Monday morning after I dropped off the kids, I drove straight to Kezar Stadium because I knew I wouldn’t go later in the day. It was a little intimidating because USF and SFSU had their track and field practice at the time and I didn’t want to feel like such a weenie next to the competitors.

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I didn’t do that bad! I started the second week of Couch to 5k because the first week seemed a little too easy. I was able to keep my breath the whole time, which makes me feel a little better. I ended up running for 1:30, walking for 2:00 for 2 miles, leaving a final time of 20 minutes! I know 10 minute miles seems pretty horrific to most of you, but I’m just happy I got it done! I’m going to do the same thing today and if I feel comfortable, I’ll skip to week 3 for Friday. I even impressed myself by doing two rounds of stadiums afterwords! I regretted them the next day when my upper thighs were screaming from soreness.

When I came home, I made a huge pot of pasta because I wanted to use up the veggies in my fridge. I sautéed mushrooms, red bell pepper and broccoli and dumped it in the pot of veggie pasta (I got suckered into buying these at the store). Mixed everything with marinara and basil, garnished with fresh parmesan. Not to toot my own horn, but I seriously think pasta is my specialty. It always taste like restaurant quality!

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Now a special treat for you, I’m sharing the recipe of my sister’s mom (basically my mom too!) tostones. My sister is half Puerto Rican, half white; we share the same dad. Her mom’s name is Lily and every time I go over there for Puerto Rican Thanksgiving, she makes these tostones that I dream about for the whole year. She happily gave me the recipe and I’m seriously doing you guys a favor. You do not want to miss out on this one!

I would go fat for these bad boys, that’s how good they are!

Tostones de Lily

Serves: 1-2 People (rule of thumb is 1 plantain per person)

Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Plantains, green and unripe
  • 1/2 Garlic, minced
  • Garlic Salt
  • Tostonera (to flatten)
  • 12 Oz Cooking Oil
  • Cast Iron (or heavy bottomed) skillet
  • Paper towels

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1. Take the plantains out of the peel and cut them diagonally into ~1 inch pieces.

2. Put the cast iron skillet on medium high heat and pour about 12 ounces of cooking oil into the pan. You want to be able to fry the plantains in them, so make sure it’s high enough.

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3. Wait until the oil starts to bubble, then drop each plantain one by one. Be careful with splashing, I burnt my middle finger!

4. Cook them until each one is golden brown.

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5. When they look ready, take them out and put them on a paper towel to absorb the oil. It’s okay if some of them look burnt, they’ll taste just as good at the end. Don’t dump the oil out, we’re going to fry them one more time.

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6. The trick to make these delicious is to soak these in warm salt water for a minute. It’s what softens them up and allows them to fry better the second round.

7. Mince half of a whole garlic and set aside.

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8. In the tostoneria, place a little bit of garlic and sprinkle the garlic salt over.

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9. Place the plantain in and smash it close.

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10. They should look like this. Repeat by putting more garlic, garlic salt and a new plantain to smash.

*If they don’t stay intact, it probably means you soaked them too long. Just take all the loose pieces and make one whole tostones when you’re done.

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11. Refry the tostones one more time, make sure the oil is still really hot by dropping them in one at a time. Flip them a few times until they feel really crispy.

12. Take them off and put them on a paper towel again to soak up the oil.

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13. Try them out, if they need more salt, just sprinkle a little bit of garlic salt on top! Wrap them up and serve for your guest. Be careful, they might want to marry you after! 🙂

PS: I suggest serving them with avocado. Those two are a match made in heaven, the flavors do some serious complimenting.

PPS: I had about 1/4 more but I had hungry roommates coming home and stealing them from my basket before I could take a picture! Can we say addicting?!

Have you ever tried Puerto Rican tostones? What’s your go-to recipe to impress?

The Final Stretch

The 102nd annual Bay To Breakers race and festivities happened today in San Francisco. For those that are unfamiliar, it starts off really early in the morning as a 12km race and finishes as a city wide shit-show. Literally.

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(Photo credit to Zazzle.com)

I have seen the funniest and jaw dropping costumes when I attended two years ago (as a spectator, not a runner) and it’s such a great time people watching. The race starts from one end of the city (downtown/Embarcadero) to the other end (Ocean Beach). Did you know San Francisco is only 7 square miles long and wide?

Please check out these pictures to get a feel of how San Francisco gets down. You won’t regret it.

I’m on my final stretch regarding school and only have one more final before I am a free woman to summer. It’s bittersweet to have the semester wrapping up but I’m more than ready to start my dietetics program in the fall! I also have a lot of trips I’m taking in the next three months, so I have to start planning and getting ready for everything. I still didn’t apply for my Visa to China, I need to get on that soon.

To give myself a tangible pat on the back, I bought a Garmin ForeRunner 10 in Violet/White! It’s the cutest thing and I can’t wait to use it tomorrow when I start my Couch to 5k training. Although my half marathon is not until November, I’m going to have a lot of holes in-between from all the traveling I’ll be doing, so I want to have as much background training as possible. I can’t even run a whole mile yet! This is going to be a long journey..

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Can’t wait to let you know how my first day back in the fitness world is working out! Another reason I’m happy school is over is because I have a lot more time to do personal things. Those 2 hours I usually spend driving to school and back can be put into good use now!

On Saturday, Chi and I went to eat a late lunch together since we haven’t seen each other much lately. I’ve been busy with school and work and he’s been making sure the restaurant continues to run smoothly.

We went to Papito, in one of my favorite districts in SF, Potrero Hill. It feels like I was just here… 😉

Papito is one of my favorite modern Mexican places to dine, they serve the most delicious food and it doesn’t hurt that everything is organic and local! A funny note is that the restaurant is actually owned by French people that have a French restaurant on the corner.

(I honestly don’t remember the sign being like this to be honest)

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Chips and salsa are served untraditionally with a spicy sauce, mild verde and a sweet mango salsa.

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I couldn’t resist ordering the Watermelon Fresca. It looked so refreshing and tasted so.

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We ordered my favorite thing ever (there), the Chorizo Fundido. I actually never heard of fundido before I started dating Chi, but essentially it is meat (chorizo) or no meat for vegetarian style with beans, tomatoes and onion served with a topping of melted cheese. Kind of like a Mexican fondue, I would say. You serve it with chips and scoop out the fundido and eat it like a dip.

I actually just got hungry and kind of sad just by looking at this picture. Thanks, Papito.

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I knew I was going to be full from the fundido, so I only ordered two tacos. These tacos are no joke, I never had such fancy pants tacos before. My first one was a sautéed shrimp taco with garlic, chile de arbor adobo, avocado, cilantro, red onions and mango pico de gallo. Now that was a mouthful.

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My second taco was house-made chorizo and potatoes, salsa verde and pico de gallo.

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Chi also got a cameron costeño taco, I think it’s safe to say that it was a real winner. His second choice was the pollo empanizado: fried chicken, chipotle remoulade, salsa roja, guacamole, purple cabbage slaw and creme fraiche.

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I think these tacos are the epitome of food porn.

Remember when I showed you the night-time view of SF from Potrero Hill? Here’s the daytime view!

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Runners: can you recommend a great but not $100 pair of running headphones? What was the most appetizing thing you ate this weekend?

Santa Barbara Half Marathon 2013

Okay, I did it. I signed up for the Santa Barbara International Half Marathon today. I’m so nervous and excited at the same time!

This will be my first half marathon (or any race, period), so you can see where the anxiety is stemming from. I have never been a runner, or even an exercise person throughout my life. My first real workout was training for Tough Mudder last year and I feel like this will be more intense.

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I realize that November is a far far time from now, which is one of the reasons why I picked this half. I seriously need adequate time to train; I was a smoker for longer than I’m proud of and my lung capacity just isn’t where I would like it to be. I haven’t ran since Tough Mudder, but while we were training, I had to take a lot of walking breaks between my jogs. I figure that the only way I will accomplish this is to start slow, that’s why I’m going to start the Couch to 5K in May.

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Once I’m at 5K, I can sign up for a few local races and just try to get a feel for everything. Right before/during the summer, I hope the warm weather will inspire me to get back into working out and I can strength train and get back into yoga. I know once I start exercising, I’ll do it without feeling like I have to reward myself after. I just need one little push and signing up for this half-marathon is my motivation. My focus will be to run 2-3 times a week until it gets closer to November.

I’m going on a vacation to Japan and China in July (!!), and a wedding in NY (!!) for the first weekend of August, so it just so happens that it lines up perfectly with my half-marathon training schedule I put together in Excel!

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I took bits and pieces of different guides that I saw online, and worked it best around my schedule. (Thank you About.com! This schedule was my main source of reference.) I know that I’m getting ahead of myself, but I’ve always been a planner and an even bigger procrastinator, so maybe putting my business for the whole internet to see will put my butt into high gear. Atleast I hope it will!

What really made me want to sign up for this was hearing my big sister finish her half-marathon at the Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon: Denver last year. (By the way, if anyone in the Denver area needs a personal trainer, go to her! She has testimonials through the roof and is the best on both sides of the Rocky Mountains.) So proud of you, Jie Jie! I can only aspire to be like you.

Well, I’ll keep this post short and sweet. If anyone has any advice for me, let me know! I would love to hear it. Have a great weekend!

Are you training for anything right now? What would be your biggest tip for a newbie runner?