Tuesday, July 31, 2012

exciting news!

a somewhat downer of a monday turned bright in the evening when i got a text from kate of coyote running welcoming me to their new trail kamikaze training program!

i'm excited at the prospects of training with a team, and to get put thru the rigors of training for a goal - in my case trying to get faster, stronger (mentally and physically) and more efficient in my pursuit to become a better runner.

i've gotten to this point on my own, but making the leap from a half marathon to 26.2 is another step altogether. plus, the north face trail marathon is looming on december 1, so what better way to prepare for it than to learn from fantastic coaches and people!

Monday, July 30, 2012

this weekend

the rest of the weekend was pretty relaxing. joined up with some friends on saturday afternoon for beer pong practice - don't laugh, we have two teams at the upcoming hollywood tournament - then had dinner w/heidi at chego later that night.

sunday morning we went for a hike at westridge, where temps hovered in the 80s around noon. i did bump into a few coyotes at the turnaround, so it was cool to follow along for most of the difficult ridge back. but it was tough sledding! saturday's long run in conjunction with the heat wore me out...

the rest of the evening was spent watching a bit of the summer olympics, but the whole tape delay thing is throwing a wrench in my plans. not quite as exciting to watch in primetime when you learn who won gold earlier that morning...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

point mugu - training run

since my running partner was tied up this weekend, i decided to get out to point mugu to test out the 18k course that we'll be running come october. i've been there before - only for shorter distances - so i wanted to get a gauge as to how difficult the added length is.

and... it's difficult haha. in all the other runs, we've managed to avoid cresting point mugu, so today was a different story. i resorted to power walking up part of the stretch before arriving at the base of the peak. from there, i think i took a wrong turn, because the path went straight up to the US flag adorning the summit. there's a path on the other side going down, but it's so steep that i actually went slower (didn't want to become a human boulder) down than up.

they join up on the other side, then i used my growing sense of feel and awareness to plot out which direction i was supposed to be headed. i finally connected with la jolla fire road, and from there it was another good 5 miles to paydirt.

the next 2M on the overlook trail were a fight to keep my legs churning until reaching the ray miller trail, a final 2.7M of breathtaking downhill. i tried to do another sub-7 min mile on the home stretch, but had to settle for 7:16 instead. the added mileage to point mugu peak definitely took a toll, as my pace was uniformly slower on each of the last 5M.

nevertheless, i completed the 10.3M run in 1:50:16, good enough for a 10'42" pace on a difficult track. amazingly, it bumps my mileage in the month of july to 80.99, which easily eclipses any monthly running output in my lifetime. the most encouraging thing about all this is that my legs and feet are still holding up - with no pain or joint issues to speak of - for the moment.

i have the bulldog 25K trail race in exactly 4 weeks...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

coyote run - westridge

thursday morning's run took us back to westridge, one of my favorite tracks in the repetoire. somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-50 peeps came out this morning, including a nike rep inviting all of us to test out their new nike+ training program (akin to their popular running program, except it measures characteristics like how high you jump, etc.) at a premiere event in hollywood friday.

did the difficult ridge on the way back, as i found myself trudging up the ascents and bombing down the hills w/roberto. i've officially applied for the coyotes' training program that starts august 4, so fingers crossed that i get selected to take part.

i figure if i'm going to attempt my first trail marathon on december 1, what better time to start a program that's going to help me achieve my goal?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

the dark knight rises - recap (non-spoiler)

watched TDKR in IMAX on sunday, and despite a frenzied fervor and nearly-impossible expectations to live up to on the heels of the dark knight, the film delivers the goods.

the longest film of the trilogy at 164 minutes, the plot has lots of ground to cover and many storylines to flesh out, a breeze compared to nolan's labyrinthine inception. for me, TDKR is the most emotionally gripping of the three, which is no wonder since it features the series' best work - and the meatiest scenes - from christian bale, michael caine and gary oldman.

while the film doesn't have a lightning rod performance that can compare to heath ledger's academy award-winning turn as the joker, a beefed-up tom hardy definitely garners chills as bane, a nefarious chap bent on shaking up the system.

the thing that nolan has been able to achieve is to subvert the superhero genre as a whole and create a serious piece of entertainment art, even touching upon the types of issues that our world is facing today: economic instability and anarchy against the backdrop of terrorism.

plus, he found a way to tie up the entire trilogy with the perfect ending - one that leaves the audience with a number of questions as to the direction warner bros. will take now that nolan, bale and company have finished their work on the caped crusader...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

bulldog 25K training run #2

the event organizers for the upcoming bulldog 25/50K race held training run #2 on saturday morning, so i dragged vim out there this time, as he'll be joining me for the race on august 25 as well. temps were already in the low 70s just after 7am, so today was a good day for heat acclimatization.

chose the same strategy of power walking up bulldog motorway while running on the flats, and that seems to be the right formula for me. weirdly enough, i arrived at the top in 81 minutes - the exact same time as my run a few weeks back. since vim had to make a "fecal withdrawal" along the way, it gave me a 10 minute break to catch my breath up top and refuel.

headed up bulldog
the top at last!
when bulldog is too easy
quick group break

just past the parking lot at corral canyon, we came across two strange individuals that had us shaking our heads. the first was a somewhat out of shape dude gasping for air while holding on to his empty 12oz bottle of water - the only source of hydration he took on this 14.2M trail run in heat! outside of the entrance as well as a campground near mile 12, there is no water source to be found in the park, so i'm not sure what he was thinking...

the second occurrence had a girl catch up to us, then seemingly wanted to tell us her life story while opening up her backpack and showing just how much water she brought. she went on and on about how heavy her bag was, if she brought the right amount of water or too much, can you guess how many pounds it was, how is she supposed to go hiking in hollywood tomorrow since she might be sore after today, yada yada yada. one look at vim and we decided to get the F out of dodge... and quick, before she glommed on to us to run together.

no small feat after 8m
obligatory photo op

settling back into a groove at around mile 8, vim started to slow down a bit and told me to take off and meet up back at the car. it's always tricky in instances like this, because one shouldn't abandon their running partner just because they're having a slow day. at the same time, if one has to slow down to the point that they have to alter their mechanics and aren't getting the proper training out of a run, that's an issue as well. there was still at least 6 miles to go, so after a bit of hemming and hawing, we agreed to meet up at the car.

after a few rolling hills, it's pretty much a straight descent for 2.5M from mile 9 onwards, so i happened to find a pacer in front of me and rode her hip the entire way down. she never looked back to see who was breathing heavily behind her, so for that i thank her haha. when she stopped to refuel at the bottom, i told her great job and thanks, and soldiered on.

the last two miles were a slog especially in the increasing heat (80s now), but i had enough water (thankfully i brought two handhelds along with my 50oz bladder) and kept hydrating throughout. i finally made it to the picnic benches at the start, grabbed some shade and gladly took a load off. my final time? 14.2M in 2:47, the exact same time as training run #1. so weird!

Friday, July 20, 2012

huckleberry - kouign amann

celebrating friday with this tasty treat from huckleberry. today's flavor was apricot, but the real star are the crispety, crunchety layers bound by the sticky caramelized sugar. delicious!

taking the plunge...

the day that i never anticipated happening in my lifetime - is coming.

i haven't officially registered as of yet, but i've already mentally committed to participating in my first marathon in december! specifically, a trail marathon (why make it easy?) at the north face endurance challenge in san francisco, taking place december 1-2 at the gorgeous marin headlands. the all-weekend event actually has a host of distance options to choose from: 10K, half marathon, marathon, marathon relay, 50K and lastly 50M for the elite ultra marathoners.

when looking at upcoming races, i factored in terrain, date and location... in that order:

terrain because it had to be trail and not road. i've done the majority of my training on the trails, so it's my comfort leven and preference because of the sheer rush one gets from being outside and connected to nature. plus, i don't think i'd be able to finish 26.2M with the all the pounding from cement.

date because i'll need ample time to step up my training regimen to accommodate the extra miles. i acquitted myself well at my first half at xterra malibu creek in april, but going from 14M to 26.2M is a whole different story. literally, i didn't have another mile in me when i finished the race, so adding another 12 will be a beast.

the encouraging thing is i returned to malibu creek a few weeks ago to get retribution, and i fared much better physically the second time around. after finishing, i felt like i still had a few miles left in me, which was a good sign.

location because it should be somewhere scenic! the north face event jumped out at me because it's at the marin headlands - close to home (my family can root me on!), decent weather (hopefully it won't be raining), and the views on a clear day are breathtaking.

i'm both nervous, intimidated yet excited about diving in. even as recent as a year ago i had zero aspirations to run a marathon, so i've come a long way in just ten months. between the gradual improvement from hiking to parkour to trail running, entering a few races from my first warrior dash to april's trail half, and reading a few books (haruki murakami's what i talk about when i talk about running and christopher mcdougall's born to run in particular), i've gained proper inspiration from a multitude of sources, and think i'm finally ready.

bring it on!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

point mugu hike

got out for a hike at point mugu on sunday, since heidi has never been and she was jonesing for something a bit longer than our usual 5-miler. i had run a slightly longer route w/vim just a few weeks ago, so there wouldn't be any serious cartography needed and we could just enjoy the weather and the trails...

paraglider incoming
vast fields
end of la jolla fire road
blaze of glory

we ended up doing around a 7.2M hike, which is pretty much the shortest loop one can do at the park. the longest is around 11-12M, which involves ascending point mugu itself and what the xterra race will entail come october.

cyclist enjoying the view
reminds me of kauai
end of ray miller trail
where's waldo?

point mugu state park
9000 west pacific coast highway
malibu, CA 90265

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

eats - fig & olive

hit up sunday brunch at fig & olive on melrose for the first time, and was treated to quite the ambiance and nice meal. the surprisingly vast seating area is broken up into counter, main dining room, patio and the upstairs, while the kitchen is hidden behind a wall full of olive oil.

since we were both hungry, we opted for the prix fixe menu, which consists of a cocktail (bellini, sangria, bloody mary, etc.), a first course, a main course, and either a coffee or tea to complete the meal. between the two of us, we ordered:

* fig & olive salad - apple, manchego, gorgonzola, tomato, walnut, scallion, fig balsamic & arbequina olive oil
* french toast - house made brioche, strawberry rhubarb compote & vanilla whipped cream
* south of france poached eggs & salmon - poached eggs, toasted olive oil bread, marinated salmon, citrus, ricotta, avocado & scallion w/mediterranean fries & mixed salad
* grilled thyme chicken paillard - free range marinated chicken breast w/lemon thyme, arugula, spinach, brussels sprout, pickled red onion, almond, tomato, haricot vert, bell pepper, caper, lemon & picholine olive oil

everything was tasty, but the two most memorable dishes were the french toast (so fluffy! so decadent!) and the chicken paillard (a veritable taste explosion). it's definitely a place i'd be open to return to for dinner, perhaps at dineLA going on right now?

fig & olive
8490 melrose pl.
w. hollywood, CA 90069

Monday, July 16, 2012

cassie & andrew's wedding - segerstrom hall

saturday saw the marriage of my friends cassie and andrew, who met cute while at grad school in michigan. the festivities all took place at segerstrom hall in costa mesa, quite the curious selection because i once attended a yo-yo ma concert here. i was like, are they getting married on stage?

signs pointing the way
segerstrom hall

it turned out to be quite the beautiful and classy location, as all the glass and marble in the sparkling atrium lent an air of sophistication to the intimate proceedings. not only that, but my cousin caroline - who was in the bridal party - was able to come down early and help make everything go smoothly.

cass making her way down
mr. & mrs. ohm!

their wedding vows were really sweet and heartfelt. cassie's were especiallly touching, so it was neat to see the normally genial andrew do his best to fight off the oncoming tears. we were directed up one flight of stairs for drinks and hors d'oeuvres and were treated to specialty cocktails for each the bride (strawberry vodka + champagne) and groom (mojito remix). each of the bridesmaids made individual toasts to cassie, but sadly linda and caroline were inaudible due to both being reduced to blubbering messes.

table locations
open bar!
an emotional caroline
second floor

one thing i have to mention is that the food at dinner was superb. the first course was a delightful summer crab and avocado salad, followed by either marinated halibut (heidi) or steak w/mashed potatoes & grilled vegetables.

the new couple's entrance
where they met
wedding theme
spritely ceiling

i'd be remiss not to mention their first dance, which started off as a lovely ballad... which turned into a hilariously choreographed assault backed by run DMC's ol skool jam "tricky."

a waltz...
then speed round!
andrew & mother-in-law
dance party

one of the many thoughtful touches at the wedding was none other than a photo booth complete with costumes and props, to memorialize the event for both parties. heidi and i took great pleasure in mugging for the camera before signing their guest book with glee. they also had gift bags for everybody to take home, which included everything from flip flops - perfect for the ladies to rest their weary feet - to candy and snacks they've come across in their travels to various countries.

it really was a special night to remember and it couldn't have happened to a better couple. congrats cassie & andrew!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

coyote run - los liones

pounded out a 7.5M trail run at los liones this morning w/the coyotes. the first 1.5M up is single track on los liones, which joins up with the fire road at paseo miramar for another 2 punishing miles to the parker mesa overlook for gorgeous coastal views.

a group of about 10 of us took a quick break up top before heading back down. i always have to keep an eye out on time because of work, but i got back to the car at 7:50am and was home by 8:05am...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

ted - AMC century 15

ernie's been clamoring to see ted for months on end now, so on sunday we finally took him to see the film at AMC century 15. and... it did not disappoint!

such a rude yet touching story about john bennett (mark wahlberg) and his struggle to keep his best friend - who happens to be a foul-mouthed teddy bear (seth mcfarlane) - from interfering with the love of his life (mila kunis).

Monday, July 9, 2012

2012 zenshuji obon festival

heidi helped out with tea ceremony at this year's obon festival at zenshuji soto mission, so i got the chance to attend my third straight. it's such a festive event with food, drink, live performances, dancing and raffle drawings, that it really feels like a privilege to take part. one gets the true sense of community here and here's to hoping i get to experience many more.

right outside the temple
manning the grills
wayu & heidi
tea sweets from scratch
kimono detailing
taiko performance
same spot 3yrs running
best friends