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Monthly Archives: December 2015

Bonjour from Paris!

I am now writing from our apartment in Paris.

Yesterday, we flew from Chicago to London to connect to Paris.  Our flight was delayed and we missed our connecting flight.  It was a rough plane ride.   But the food on the American Air was one of the best plane food I’ve had.

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I had 2 small cups of wine they served with my meal and was knocked out cold for a few hours.

About 7 hours later, we arrived at London airport.  This is my second visit to Europe (first visit was many years ago) and I had completely forgotten how hectic this airport is.

Connecting at London Heathrow airport was not a smooth ride.  I would recommend against connecting flights in London.  If you must, give it enough time and patience.  Everything was far apart and their system is very different from the US.

We had 2 hours to connect but barely had enough time to grab something to eat.  I got a sandwich, chips, and a bottled water from a take-away place and it was 3.99 pounds total.  What?!?!  It would’ve been at least $15 at the US airports.  The sandwich tasted meh but I needed something in my stomach pronto.

Then we boarded our British Airways flight to Paris.  Check out the little milk packets served with their coffee.  

So two french girls sat next to me.  As I was emptying my sugar and milk pouches to my coffee, they both offered me their milk and sugar to me because they both like their coffee black!  I don’t know if it’s a french thing.  I took a mental note to pay attention to french people’s coffee on this trip.

Another interesting happened that was rather funny to me.  I sat in an aisle seat (BF was in a different row — we were both stand-by on this flight).  The french girl in the window seat wanted to use the bathroom midway through flight.  Normally in the US, people in middle and aisle seat get up for the person in the window seat to get out.  The girl in window seat said “oh no worries” in her cute french accent, and then jumped on the hand rests that divided us, with her shoes and all, and bounced to the walkway just like that.  When she came back, she did the same thing.

We landed at 3PM in Paris CDG airport and took an uber to our air bnb apartment in Latin Quarter.

We drove by many old and new neighborhoods.  The ride was over an hour long since it was rush hour, but the tour of the city was much welcome by us!

After checking into our apartment, we headed back out in search for food.  We were FAMISHED (to quote my BF) but we wanted to eat a classic french meal at a sit-down restaurant.  We did not have to look far.  We immediately decided to eat at the first restaurant we saw πŸ˜€ We did look at two restaurants to compare and this one sounded better to us.

L’Oree du Parc in Latin Quarter.

Prices are very reasonable now that 1 euro equals 1.10 US dollars.

We started the meal with escargots.  They were THE best escargots I’ve ever had.  I’ve never had escargots in Paris before so I have nothing to compare them with πŸ˜€  But I’ve had escargots on cruises and french restaurants in SF.  These I had last night tasted different and fresher.

We were given escargot tongs to grab the snails since they were burning hot.  We drained the goodness inside on the bread.  The garlic butter pesto was heavenly on the baguette, and the escargots were out of this world. Highlight of the meal for me.  I think we should double the order next time.

Had to record our first meal in Paris together πŸ™‚ Bon appetit!

The restaurant seems to specialize in steaks so we both got steak with thick fries and gooey mashed potatoes.
  

The steaks were pretty amazing but the mashed potato really surprised us.  Look at how stringy it is from the cheese!

We found out that it is not a “normal” mashed potato.  Its called Aligot and made with a TON of cheese.

Dinner was a success and we were both very happy with the food!  We both agreed that this meal set the bar high for what we will eat for the rest of the trip.

We were both jetlagged and sleepy and tired.  It’s been a LONG day.  We made a final stop at a small grocery store called Franprix to pick up some necessities and more.

It’s quite fun to grocery-shop in foreign countries.  You never know what you’re gonna find.

Even when you’re familiar with the brands they carry, the items are different.

We got some bananas, mandarins, and those.

The champagne and wine is for New Year’s Eve.  Shampoo is for the apartment since it’s not provided by the host.

And we got foie gras and cheese to eat with bread later.  I do not like foie gras or the idea of it, but just wanted to try it in Paris for once before ruling it out of my diet πŸ™‚

Oh, the first sighting of Eiffel Tower last night and I might’ve screamed like a little girl.


We will be making a proper visit there soon.  I’ve been blogging exclusively from my phone for past several weeks.  I will have to start taking photos with a real camera for the rest of the trip.  Hopefully the pictures will be better quality!

This is all for Day 1.

Day 2 – we have a reservation to go up the Eiffel Tower, so that will be pretty exciting πŸ™‚ And it’s the last day of 2015!

 

 

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Continuing my previous post

After visiting The Bean, we went to the Cultural Center to warm up for a bit. We looked through a few exhibits of modern art including this lounge with rocking chairs and art installation on the ceiling.

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Then afternoon tea at The Allis:

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Very good pastries and little sandwiches.  

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It was only three hours after our lunch at Al’s Beef so we couldn’t finish our tea sets. We had leftovers (pictured below, minus the pots and plates) to take home.

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I spent a morning running after Santa.  It was near 30F with wind chill.  It’s not a comfortable run for me. 

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The run was something like 3.5 miles so I didn’t actually spend a morning running 😁 I’m enjoying the break from training. No more fear of losing fitness from not running.

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Then we spent an afternoon in the city to watch Chicago Bears (The only time I cheat on my Niners would be with the Bears. I got this tshirt as a Christmas gift so it was a perfect reason to wear it out. When in Chicago… Right?)

  

Brunch with BF’s friends at The Frontier

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The Bears won and we headed back while rubbing our bellies (or maybe it was just me.)

The following morning, a winter storm hit the Chicago region. I love snow!  I don’t think I saw snow at all this year until now!

  

This was after an hour or two of snowing. 

  

We headed out to Mitsuwa Japanese supermarket for lunch. Ramen really hit the spot in this weather.  I also have to admit that this was my first time at Mitsuwa. I’ve never been to any of the locations in CA. 

Spicy miso ramen πŸ‘  
 

The snow continued to come down.

  

Giada, the Saint Bernard, got more and more excited. 

 

By the evening, the snow covered the streets in a thick blanket. Enough for a snowball fight while shoveling.

  

I tried to shovel for about 2 minutes. It was hard work and it didn’t get far 😁 I handed the shovel back to him and ran back inside. It was freezing cold literally.
   

The following morning, the roads were cleaned up. Piles of snow shoved to the sides were higher than the cars. It’s a sight I would never see in CA.

 

That was a fun, successful trip to Chicago.    We had Chicago hotdogs/polish dogs three times on this trip and a Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza last night.  Thanks, Diana and Company πŸ˜„ I’m sure I will be back next year.

Now onto the second leg of our trip: PARIS! πŸ‡«πŸ‡·


Our first stop in our itineraries was Chicago.   We are spending a few days with my BF’s family (Hi Diana!) for Christimas before flying out to Paris.

  

We had a pajama party of sort by wearing matching elf pj’s. And most of us did go to bed in them πŸ˜‰

Giada the Saint Bernard is so fluffy and makes a great pillow!

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Ruff ruff

The weather in Chicago has been expectedly cold and wet (30-40F). It’s pretty cold to me but the people in Chicago said to me that this was the warmest Christmas they’ve had in years!
  

We stopped by Al’s Beef original restaurant. Italian Beef is totally a Chicago thing (not italian) and I had never had it or heard of it until my first visit to Chicago last year. In fact, most people visiting Chicago are more excited in trying a deep dish pizza than the Italian Beef. But Italian Beef is a lot harder to come by outside of Midwest so I try to eat it when I can. 

It is a sliced beef sandwich dipped in meat gravy, served with peppers.  Very messy and delicious. I got the “combo” Italian beef which comes with a sausage inside my sandwich and the beef. 

  

And we ate standing up at the counter not wasting a second.

After stuffing ourselves, we walked around Maggie Daley Park next to Millennium Park.

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You can see the Chicago skyline from Maggie Daley Park, so that was pretty cool!

A perfect mirror selfie spot at the park

  

And we walked over this bridge to Millennium Park where The Bean is located. 

  

There it is!
  

But the crowd though… 

  
  

I still felt the need to take a few selfies. Why not? It’s not everyday I come to Chicago πŸ™‚

The iceskating rink was directly behind the bean.

I have more to update but it will be in another post.   Happy holidays!

 
  

 

 

 

  


Tis Christmas Eve!

Just some pictures to summarize a few holiday celebrations in the last two weeks.  Yesterday was the last working day of the year for me. Off to the start of the trip (the main reason I started this blog but I’ve gone off on a hundred different tangents so far 😁)

Stay tuned…

   

 

  

  

 


Every second counts. This is going to be my new mantra in running races. This year I’ve run seconds away from milestones.

Oakland half marathon @1:44:57

See Jane Run half marathon @ 1:49:01

CIM with a mere 23-second PR

And yesterday (I went against the textbook rule of refraining from racing right after marathon) …. I ran a trail half marathon @ 1:46:01.  Five seconds behind 3rd place woman in my age group.

I’m not trying to win an Olympic or any race for that matter. Still…. Every. Second. MATTERS!

So I wanna recap about the trail race yesterday in Fremont. It’s called ZombieRunner Quarry Lake Run and they have distances from 5K to Marathon. It’s a “trail race” but very flat. And for half marathon, about 1/3 of the race is on asphalt.

I did not prepare for this race.

I didn’t carbload (had a pesto sandwich and ice cream sandwich for lunch and Chinese banquet meal for dinner with 12 courses but only one of them contained rice/carbs)

I drank a lot of wine at the banquet that I was woken up by thirst two times the night before race. I was horribly dehydrated.

I had a pop tart before race (who still eats pop tarts?) instead of my proper pre-race breakfast (bagel usually).


I also did not plan the race outfit well and was peeling off layers and repinning my bib a few minutes before the start of the race. It was a frigid drizzly morning in Fremont, I decided to go with a light layer of long sleeves with gloves.

 

  

Since I just ran a marathon two weeks ago, my body was still in repairing mode.  I planned to go easy and run around 2 hour mark (9 minute pace or so.) But once the gun went off, the race got to my head.  I did try to hold back my pace and was happy to be maintaining around 8:07 pace comfortably for majority of the race.  It didn’t feel slow and easy, but it was not a hard all-out effort either.

I threw away my gloves around mile 3 because I thought it was getting warm.  But it got colder in later miles with some head wind and it became drizzly.  My fingers were freezing! I brought only one gel with me and took it around mile 7.  By mile 10, I felt my energy dipping lower and I started to feel fatigue.  But the race was almost over by then.  I love half marathons!  It’s so quick but not too quick!

Saying hello to my lover at finish line.  I passed so many people in the second half of the race, and that felt GOOOOOD!  The Man finished first in his age group for 10K so it’s a good day for him too!

When I crossed the finish, all I could think about was DARN IT, I did it again… I missed the minute mark by one second.  But it was neither a PR nor a PR-attempt.  I gave myself a good race and I was happy.

 

 

This race concluded the 2015 racing year for me.  I will not be able to run long in the next few weeks due to travelling.  But running will always be here for me when I’m ready next year.


  

 My ratings: 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is a Pulitzer-prize winning book.  Judging from its bookcover, it isn’t a cover that would get my attention right away and it was on my to-read list for several years due to good ratings by a few people on my Good Read circle.  I did not expect to like it so much. But I really did.

This book showed me what poverty is in the most vivid and brutal terms. It’s a memoir of an Irish man’s childhood and how he grew up and survived in an Irish slum.  From start to finish, it had me feeling extremely grateful for having a roof over my head and an abundent of food to eat and clothes to wear. 

Some parts of the book made my heart ache.  The author and his small siblings starved, had no clothes to wear, had to peel walls of their house to make fire to keep warm, begged for food, etc., but their resilience was remarkable.  

The author wrote two more sequels to this book and I may pick them up in the future.   


I’ve been having some fun playing with my jewelry making supplies! It’s an outlet of creativity!  I have so much to learn in crafts.


A work in progress.

I like them simple.  But my “simple” may be different from yours πŸ™‚

I made the thick necklace that sits at the base of my neck and layered with my existing necklaces.  The thin strands were bought ages ago.

Hmmmmm…. So many possibilities!  I have several Swarovski crystals to play with for my next projects.

Okay now onto some of my favorite random images lately:

What a nerd.

 

Love this pic from a scavenger hunt a few weeks ago!  Running buddies for life 😍😍😍

MY FAVORITE DOG!

WHAT SELFIE?

 

In a few weeks I will be going to these countries. I’ve been counting down!

The temps are not too hot or too cold.  Pleaseeeee stay this way!!!


Time for a summary of how things went down!!!  I have read so many race reports on the internet but had never published one of my own, so here goes πŸ˜€

California International Marathon 2015

Finish time = 3:43:19.  Chip pace = 8:32 average

My previous PR = 3:43:42.

So I did PR but it was extremely close. I did not know I would PR until a few seconds before crossing the finish line.   Some pictures and then random thoughts of the race in bullet points:


Race expo and then dinner at Cheesecake Factory. I’m sure Sacramento has so many great restaurants but I wanted to eat something predictable.


Pre-race dinner of shrimp pasta + 2 bread rolls + some cheesecake.


About 6000 marathoners and the rest were relay runners.

How the race went for me:

  • The rain was not as bad as expected.  We started at Folsom Lake and the rain came down a few minutes before start and people started cheering.  The light rain came down off and on for about the first 6 miles.  Then the temps were in low 50’s and felt very comfortable for running.
  • I started out slow as planned. I trained to start slow and finish fast.  My training proved that it worked on my long runs….up to mile 20.  The last 6 miles would be a gamble and I took it.
  • I warmed up with 8:45 pace for a few miles and then ran the middle miles in 8:25-8:35 pace. I dropped down the pace to 8:10-8:20 pace from mile 13 to about 20.
  • I averaged around 8:35 pace for the last 6 miles but it was all guts.  It was mentally the HARDEST I have ever had to fight for in a race.  Mental games!
  • My legs started to feel major fatigue (stiffness and numbness) at mile 17. Usually I don’t feel it until mile 22.
  • People were dropping like flies around me since mile 18, and I was extremely tempted to stop and walk.  You know when you’re working out in a group fitness class and someone drop the weights to rest and it affects the flow of the class?  Similar in the marathon… At least to me. I had to look away from the people stopping, stretching, and starting to walk.
  • Filled my head with happy thoughts.
  • Sacramento is really really beautiful in the fall!

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Ah yes, finished!

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I cannot wait to run another marathon! There is something magical and spiritual about digging deep into myself during marathons. I always finish learning a thing or two more about my mind and body connection after each marathon.

Til next time!  And hopefully a BIGGER PR!

 


T minus 24 hours to my 3rd CIM.  It will also be my 6th full marathon in 4 years of running.  I am as ready as I can be.

Weather is 90% chance of rain and in low 40’s with 0.33 inches of rain in the morning.  I’ve run a 10K and a half marathon in pouring rain but never a marathon.  It should be interesting…

I feel I’m at the optimal fitness for my  marathon.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t translate to a guaranteed PR (personal record) for the marathon distance.  So many things can go wrong in a marathon: poor fueling, “the wall” or bonking, bad pacing, cramping, injury, weather effects over long distance, etc, or just not mentally and physically strong on the race day.

I’m so grateful to be healthy and able-bodied to be at a starting line of a marathon once again.  And I will be very happy to cross that finish line again.

#YOLO πŸ˜‰βœŒοΈ