Oct 30, 2013

MCM10K 2013 - Race Recap

Something I heard quite a lot this weekend was, "I'm just doing the 10K." I get it. The main event of the weekend was the Marine Corps Marathon, but really? What is with the "just?" Contrary to Nike, I didn't wake up before dawn to just do anything! I woke up to run a 10K!

With that said, the MCM10K far exceeded my expectations. I broke my PR by a lot and it was, by far, the most inspirational and emotional race I have finished in my short time as a runner.

The Expo
I headed to the Expo, which was held at the DC Armory, on Thursday after work. Not much to report here. There were lines and booths and it was cold. I got in, walked down all of the aisles and got out.

Helicopter outside of the DC Armory

I love the race shirt though! Long-sleeved mock turtle neck in tech fabric! Something I definitely don't have in my workout clothing collection, and it actually fits me!

The Race
I woke up at 5:45 am to get changed, have my usual peanut butter and banana sandwich for breakfast and then headed down to the Metro.

I arrived at the starting line a little after 7 am. Since the start time wasn't until 7:55, I figured I had plenty of time. I had to snap a shot of the US Capitol before the sun was fully up.

I also spotted this guy: the Marine Corps Bulldog!

Although I didn't check a bag, I thought the UPS trucks were so cool. Both the 10K and marathon started and ended at different points so runners had to check their bags with a specific UPS truck, which would then drive the bags to the finish line.

I made my way to the porta-johns at this point. And in line for the porta-johns was where I stayed for the next hour. The lines didn't seem any longer than the lines I had waited in at other races, but it just did not move. I watched the sun rise from the line. I heard the announcer telling us that the race was about to start. I heard the starting gun from the line. I finally was able to get in and out after the race had already began.

By that point, I simply walked to the starting line and joined the last corral to start the race. I was actually less stressed out than I probably should have been.

The rest of the race was a breeze. The first two miles was in the District before we headed over the bridge and into Virginia.

Action shot!

We ran through Crystal City and past the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetery.

At each mile marker, there were Marines, calling out the time over a bullhorn.

There were some many Marines standing along the route, giving high fives and shooting words of support. This definitely kept me pumped up.

The race ended at the Marine Corps Memorial (aka the Iwo Jima Memorial), which meant we had to run up a steep hill for the last 0.2 miles. I usually sprint to the finish, but I am familiar with the terrain and knew what was coming up. There were Marines all along the route shooting for us to "Keep going!" The best thing I heard was one Marine who yelled, "Take the hill!" It was awesome.

This was the first time I ran in a military race, and I realize now that I had no idea of what to expect. Within the first mile, I found myself almost in tears from the emotions of finding myself running next to such inspirational individuals. There were so many people running for fallen Marines as well as Marines who had lost limbs running in the race. It was completely overwhelming to me. This is the part that I didn't understand when I signed up for this race. It was an unbelievable experience.

In addition to being an great experience, I think all of the emotion contributed to making my time amazing!

After we finished, we got in line to receive our finisher medal, which was presented to us by a Marine. So cool! My Marine told me, "Thanks for the support!" which I thought was a crazy thing for him to say to me. Um, I didn't do anything really compared to what he does.

Marines with medals
We were then corralled over to the memorial, where we could stand in line to get a picture taken. I just asked someone to take one for me so I could continue on.

I collected my refreshments, including banana, Gatorade and water.

So many boxes of bananas!

Then I made my way to Rosslyn for the post-race festival. First item on the agenda, massage time! Then off to the Beer Tent to get a sample of gross Michelob Ultra.

Although I really wanted to watch some of the finishers of the marathon, it would be quite some time before they would be coming in and I wasn't properly dressed for spectating, so I went through the festival seeing what there was to see before heading home. 

For lunch, I had a hearty meal at a recently opened Russian/Uzbek restaurant in Ballston called Rus Uz.

I had the red caviar over puff pastry filled with cream cheese and manti (lamb dumplings). Yum! I would definitely eat here again.

I was so happy with the MCM10K. It was a great final 10K of the year for me. 

1000 North Randolph Street
Arlington, VA 22201

Oct 28, 2013

Sneak Peek - MCM 10K 2013

Yesterday was my final 10K for the year. This race was different in so many ways. I was truly inspired participating in this race, and that may have helped me in totally PR-ing! 

Here's a sneak peek of me before the race. Pre-dawn with the Marine Corps Bulldog! 

Full recap later this week!

Oct 24, 2013

{Photo Essay} Gettysburg National Military Park

 Valor (noun) - great courage in the face of danger, esp. in battle

In July, I had the opportunity to visit Gettysburg National Military Park. This year marked the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg of the American Civil War. To learn more about my experience and see additional photos, please read the entry Gettysburg Day Trip from Washington DC on the Viator Travel Blog.

Disclosure: Viator.com sponsored my day trip to Gettysburg, including transportation from and to Washington DC, park entrance fees and guided tours. In addition, I was compensated for creating a blog post of the Viator Travel Blog. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here

Oct 22, 2013

What a Weekend in LA!

Another crazy weekend has come and gone! I left on Thursday night and flew out to LA, arriving at 11 pm to start a weekend all about my baby brother. It was his wedding weekend! 

No journey out of Reagan Airport is complete without a selection of unhealthy food options, so I grabbed some Chicken McNuggets and sat back to read. 

On Friday, I had some free time so I headed up to Toluca Lake to meet up with my friend for lunch at SweetSalt Food Shop. I'm not too familiar with that area of LA, but it turns out that this is the place of former Top Chef cheftestant, Alex Eusebio. I had no idea. 

I ordered the serrano and fig sandwich, which also had brie in it and came with a side salad. The bread was a real French baguette, which means that the roof of my mouth is still (three days later) raw from biting into it. Still yummy though! 

After lunch, I headed back south to Culver City to visit another friend and meet her second child for the first time. Too cute. I brought along four macarons that I had acquired from SweetSalt, which we shared. The flavors I chose were pistachio, black sesame, strawberries and cream and lavender. There were so many other flavors that I wish I could have tried them all! 

That night, it was rehearsal dinner time. The brother and fiancee had a traditional Chinese banquet-style dinner at Royal Garden in Cerritos. So much food: there was roast and barbecue pork, shrimp balls, minced vegetables, abalone soup, abalone with mushrooms, lobsters, Peking duck and a whole fish. *drool*

That night, we stayed at the wedding venue, The Hills Hotel in Laguna Hills. We had a busy day ahead of us, so on Saturday, we pretty much only had time to eat brunch before we had to get ready and assist with the wedding preparations. 

For brunch, we headed to the Break of Dawn. I picked it late on Friday night and had I done more research, I might not have gone here. It is the definition of pretentious and bad service. The food was good though. 

Sister and brother-in-law joined us, and we shared a cinnamon bun. I ordered the sausage and rice for my entree. I loved the picked veggies that came on the rice.

After that, it was time to change and set-up. I'm not going to share any photos of the happy couple because I'm pretty sure they didn't get married to appear on my blog without their permission, but I will share some of the adorable wedding details. 

Brother and his now wife love Ugly Dolls and stuffed animals, and they invaded the wedding. Their guestbook consisted of Pixar postcards, which went into an album.

Wages at the guest book table

More stuffed animals reserved the front row seats.

Raisin Bread and I were waiting around during family photo time and snuck in this photo. 


The wedding cake was topped with Tortoro wedding cake toppers handmade by the bride!

There was a photo booth and a flip book booth during the reception, which we took full advantage of! 

My weekend ended the next morning with a long day of traveling back to the east coast. It was a super fun and warm wedding with familiar and new faces! Big sister is so happy for the couple!

SweetSalt Food Shop
10218 Riverside Drive
Toluca Lake, Ca 91602

Royal Garden
11828 South Street
Cerritos, CA 90703

Break of Dawn (CLOSED)
24351 Avenida de La Carlota N-6
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

Oct 17, 2013

{Product Review} ENERGYbits

After a long day of work and an unpleasant commute on the DC Metro, I'm usually bushed by the time I get home. Getting in a workout is always the first thing I want to do, but a lot of the time, I just want to veg out and look at pictures of baby pandas on the internet because I am just so tired!

I recently discovered ENERGYbits, which has completely changed my attitude towards heading to the gym after work. I was definitely skeptical at first, but these little "bits" have made such a difference for me. 

I typically try to get through my workouts on my own steam and will only resort to using energy gels and chews if I have a long run to complete. Why? Because all of the gels/chews/beans I have tried are loaded with all sorts of ingredients and sugar. And some have caffeine, which I cannot tolerate later on in the day. 

ENERGYbits contain one ingredient: 100% organically grown, non-GMO spirulina algae. What's so great about spirulina? Well for starters, it contains 40 vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids and 64% protein. Each tab is also only one calorie. This combines to provide you with a steady flow of energy. 

To take ENERGYbits, I have been swallowing the tabs with water, like a vitamin. It is recommended to take 30 tabs 10 to 15 minutes before your workout, but I have honestly only been taking 10-15. Even with that dosage, I have felt a huge difference.

What I love most about ENERGYbits, though, it that I can take them without feeling like I'm compromising getting energy with having to put junk into my system! Take a look at this comparison chart:

What's my take? ENERGYbits has not only made me feel more energetic, but it has also helped my mind feel more functional after a long day. I am planning to make ENERGYbits part of my workout routine. Too many workouts have been lost because of my tiredness, and I think ENERGYbits can change that! 

Disclosure: I received a sample of 30 ENERGYbits tabs for the purpose of this review. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here

Oct 15, 2013

Cosmic Run Washington DC 5K - Race Recap

As I mentioned yesterday, Raisin Bread and I registered at the last minute for the Cosmic Run 5K. Thanks, Desi from A Northern Girl for the awesome giveaway! 

Although this race was advertised as the "Washington, DC" race, it was actually an hour away in Waldorf, Maryland. It had been raining all week long, and I was worried that it would be raining during the race. The drive over to the Regency Furniture Stadium was pretty scary because it was raining, Maryland drivers are terrible, and we passed at least four car accidents. Luckily, we made it to the stadium in one piece. 

The Cosmic Run is pretty similar to the Color Me Rad race that I did in September except for a couple of key points. First, it is at night. Second, there are lighting set-ups along the route and dance music is a big part of the experience. This was the first time I had ever run a night race, so it was pretty exciting. By the time we arrived, the rain had turned into mist, which actually felt really nice! 

During packet pick-up, we were given two glow sticks and black Cosmic Run t-shirts, which we decided to wear since the color was supposed to show up well on black. When we went to put on our glow sticks, they turned out to be duds or maybe we are too old to remember how glow sticks work! 

We arrived with enough time to park and visit the restroom before we went over to the start line. We waited for only about 10 or 15 minutes before the first wave was off. 

We also got these awesome glow-in-the-dark temporary tattoos. We managed to wander into the second wave, so we didn't have long to wait before we were off. At the starting line, they were handing out more glow sticks. This time someone else activated them and they magically worked! We no longer felt like glow stick less losers. 

At each kilometer throughout the race, there were different lighting set-ups blasting dance music. I only managed to get blurry pictures, but they definitely added energy to the experience.  

We encountered four different color stations. Like Color Me Rad, the color was made of colored corn starch. I got an entire ear full of pink color, which was really hard to get out! 

The finish line led us through these multi-colored gates and onto the field, where there was an after-party with a live music. 

We stayed long enough to take some after pictures before we headed back home. 

Finish Line After Party

This race was super fun and went by so fast. The course was almost completely flat and there were things to look at all along the way. It definitely made the 3.1 miles seem short. The race wasn't timed and I didn't time myself because I just wanted to have the experience.  I definitely think this race is geared more to the college-age and under 30-year-old crowd, but we still had a good time.

Disclosure: I received two complimentary race entries through a giveaway on A Northern Girl. All opinions are my own.