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!

Post-Race
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

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!

{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

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

{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

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. 

Weeks in Review (September 30 to October 13, 2013)

This was another rough week but for entirely different reasons. It has rained five of the last seven days! It definitely felt like it was never going to stop raining.

Because of the weather, it has been pretty hard for me to get out and do stuff. We did get to have some fun this weekend though. I found out late last week that I won two entries into the Cosmic Run 5K, so Raisin Bread and I ran it on Saturday night. We had a blast! Stay tuned for my post later this week.

September 30 to October 6, 2013
Monday: rest
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: ran 2.47 miles
Thursday: BBL – Sculpt (50 minutes)
Friday: rest
Saturday: ran 7 miles
Sunday: BBL – Sculpt (50 minutes)

Total mileage this week: 9.47 miles

October 7 to 13, 2013
Monday: rest
Tuesday: BBL – High and Tight + Cardio Axe (65 minutes)
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: BBL – Bum Bum (35 minutes)
Friday: rest
Saturday: BBL – Sculpt (50 minutes) + Cosmic Run 5K
Sunday: ran/walked 3.6 miles

Total mileage this week: 6.7 miles
Total mileage this year: 298.9 miles

Happy Monday! And if you get today off for Columbus Day, enjoy!

{Product Review} UrgentRx Fast Powders

Ever had a headache strike and found yourself without a glass of water to wash down your pills? For someone who is always on the go like myself, you can find yourself in this situation quite often.

UrgentRx is a line of fast-acting, portable, over-the-counter medications that provide relief from common ailments and come in a form perfect for busy folks. UrgentRx comes in single dose, credit-card sized packets and, get this, they are in a flavored, powder form. They also have the same active ingredients as well-known OTCs.

UrgentRx has five products including Critical Care Aspirin, Heartburn Relief, Headache Relief, Upset Stomach Relief, Ache & Pain Relief and Allergy Attack.

I was recently sent three of the products to try out.

The active ingredient in Allergy Attack is diphenhydramine while Ache & Pain Relief contains 650 mg of aspirin and 60 mg of caffeine and Headache Relief contains 325 mg of aspirin and 30 mg of caffeine.

I loved being able to take the packets with me and use them whenever and wherever I wanted to. There was no need for water because the powder dissolves immediately in your mouth. I also thought the flavors were great. It didn’t taste medicinal at all. In fact, they kind of reminded me of Pixie Sticks.

I’ve found UrgentRx on various websites selling for $13.99 for 12 packets. 

What’s my take? UrgentRx is a convenient product for busy, on-the-go people. Frequent travelers would also really appreciate the portability of UrgentRx. The powders taste great. I also feel comfortable knowing that they contain the same active ingredients as other OTCs I am familiar with. Best of all is that I can take them immediately without worrying about where to find water and without having to carry around a bottle of medicine. The cost seems slightly prohibitive though at over $1.00 a dose, but I guess you’re paying for the convenience. 
Disclosure: I received three packets of UrgentRx from Behrman Communications for the purpose of this review. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here

Exploring Albuquerque and Afternoon Tea at St James Tearoom

Our third day in New Mexico was our chance to explore some of the neighborhoods of Albuquerque. 
If you missed my other New Mexico posts, check them out first:
– Albuquerque: Settling In and Driving the Turquoise Trail
A Day Trip to Santa Fe

We started our morning with breakfast burritos at the vacation home before heading out to Old Town Albuquerque. The place was pretty empty compared to the bustle of Santa Fe.

Old Town Albuquerque

While there weren’t a ton of visitors out and about, all of the shops were open for business. We visited several art galleries, souvenirs shops and one shop selling Mexican art.

Giant teddy bear in Old Town

Like all Spanish-influenced cities, a Catholic church was the centerpiece of the main square. San Felipe de Neri was built in 1793 and is one of the oldest buildings in Albuquerque.

A live band treated us to some tunes from the gazebo.

Like Santa Fe, Old Town Albuquerque had native vendors set up selling their jewelry and crafts. I also couldn’t get enough of the architecture in the plaza.

Our visit coincided with Native American Days, which features Native cultural and musical performances. We headed over to Tigeux Park, just as it was scheduled to start…only to see that nothing was going on. It looked like it would be a few hours yet before the event would begin, so we decided not to wait. 
Instead, we headed to Nob Hill to see what that neighborhood was like. First stop, Salathai for lunch! I had a Thai iced tea and shrimp pad thai while Raisin Bread had chicken and broccoli. All were excellent choices! 

After lunch, we enjoyed a stroll up and down Central Avenue to browse the shops and boutiques. My favorite place that we visited was Stranger Factory. It reminded me of lots of art galleries that we frequented in Los Angeles back in the day. To be honest, I haven’t found anything like it here in the DC area. We talked to the shop employee for about half an hour about everything from television, the East Coast, where he is originally from, and why Albuquerque is awesome. Loved this place! If you’re ever in town, go visit, especially if you already love Japanese pop art and contemporary “low brow” art. I hate that term, by the way. 
After hopping back in our car, we drove Historic Route 66. It took us past the University of New Mexico to downtown. 

Our goal was to visit the magnificent Art Deco KiMo Theatre. Unfortunately, this was Fail #2 of the day. It was closed for a private event, so we could only admire the exterior.

We didn’t have time to visit downtown at night, but I imagine it is quite stunning with all of the neon lights on. Downtown is a pretty seedy part of town, though, with lots of bars and nightclubs.

Our schedule for the day became more abbreviated than we had anticipated since things didn’t work out for us with Native American Days or the KiMo Theatre. We decided to head back home and rest for the afternoon.

First, a snack was in order though. We headed to the Golden Crown Panaderia. They have a variety of offerings from breads, pastries, pizza, sandwiches and coffee. I hear the pizza is off the hook. We stuck with the pastries since we only wanted a small snack.

As soon as you enter, you are offered a complimentary biscochito, a cookie of Spanish origin. The cookie is super light and flaky with a pleasant amount of anise flavor.

I ordered an apple empanada and a couple of Mexican wedding cookies. So yummy.

On our way home, we drove past this sign, which Raisin Bread found extremely amusing. We spent the rest of the afternoon napping, watching cable (glorious!) and doing work. 
18 mph?
After our shortened day of exploring the neighborhoods of Santa Fe, we decided against eating in for the night and instead had afternoon tea at St James Tearoom. Afternoon tea for dinner sounds weird, right? It is probably against the law in the UK, but the tearoom looked too cute to not pay a visit to while we were in town.

St James has dedicated seating times, and we were scheduled for the 6:30 pm seating. From that time, you have two hours to enjoy your tea.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by a bevy of gentlemen and ladies dressed in costume and were taken to our “nook.” St James’ space is set up into small nooks, and every party has their own private nook. Ours was called Woodridge Estate and could fit up to three people.
As we entered our nook, a pot of Earl of St James traditional black tea was waiting for us as well as our first course, Bennets’ Lavender Sugared Grapes. Our server soon came to greet us and we learned that this month’s menu theme was “Tea with Mr. Darcy.” 

Even though afternoon tea can be on the girly side, Raisin Bread and I had a romantic time in our private nook. Soon our tray of savories and breads arrived for us to munch on.

We had Mr. Collins’ Crustless Quiche, Lady Catherine’s Rocket and Blackberry Salad, a Pemberley Stuffed Date, Miss Elizabeth’s Brie Butter Canape and a cucumber turkey tea sandwich. When it was time to enjoy our breads, we received a second pot of tea, the Afternoon in Mansfield Park scented black tea. Our breads were Mr. Darcy’s cheddar scone and a traditional cream scone with white peach curd and clotted creme.

For dessert, we received a selection of sweets served with Iced Lavender Lace Herbal Tea with simple syrup. Our desserts were Jane’s Chocolate Indulgence, Mr. Bingley’s Biscuit and Amaretto and Peaches over Vanilla Ice Cream.

While we were enjoying our afternoon tea/dinner, we took the opportunity to try on lots of silly hats.

We were fully stuffed at this point and wired on tea, tea, tea!!! This was such a fun afternoon tea experience albeit a kitschy one. The service, set-up and food were all fantastic. It was the perfect end to our day of exploring Albuquerque! 
Salathai
3619 Copper Avenue NE
Albuquerque, NM 87108
1103 Mountain Road NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
320 Osuna Road NE
Albuquerque, NM 87107

{Product Review} Colgate SlimSoft Toothbrush VoxBox from Influenster

Is it possible to be excited about a toothbrush? If it is, then feel free to call me excited!

Influenster sent me my first VoxBox featuring products from Colgate. My VoxBox included the new Colgate SlimSoft Toothbrush, a travel size bottle of Colgate Total Advanced Pro-Shield mouthwash and a travel size Colgate Total Advanced Whitening toothpaste.

“What is new about the Colgate SlimSoft toothbrush?” you ask. Well, here is a run down:

– 17 x slimmer tip bristles
– 6 x deeper reach between teeth and gums
– 1.5 x deeper access between teeth
– 35% more bristles
– An ergonomic and flexible handle

The first thing I noticed when I opened my toothbrush was all of the bristles, and they are all so tiny and thin! The second thing I noticed was how soft the toothbrush bristles were.

I could really feel the difference between how far between my teeth and gum line the bristles can reach compared to my usual toothbrush. More than one dentist have told me in the past that I am a bit of an overzealous brusher, meaning I brush my teeth too hard, so having a softer bristled toothbrush probably helps someone like me. 
I also love the slim handle. For one thing, my toothbrush actually fits into my toothbrush holder now! Secondly, I don’t have huge hands so I feel like having a slim handle helps my brushing technique compared to many of the gigantic-handled toothbrushes that can be found on the market. 

Most of all, the SlimSoft makes my teeth feel so much cleaner after brushing with it. 
What’s my take? I was very impressed by this toothbrush. Who knew that innovations in the toothbrush can still be made and make such a difference! I would not hesitate to seek out the SlimSoft again the next time I need a new toothbrush! 

P.S. If you haven’t checked out Influenster yet, I encourage you to do so. It is a community of individuals who share reviews and earn points from their participation and how connected they are. Your score may even qualify you to receive future VoxBoxes!

Disclosure: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here