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Hello!  I’ve been away from blogging just because I haven’t gotten much interesting stuff to share.   I thought I would pop in here and update on how I’m doing with my goals for 2017.

1) Read 25 books this year 

I’ve read 18 books so far in 2017 so I’m definitely on track. I love how easily I’m reaching this goal. I have been lucky with discovering good books lately and when a book is good, I finish in a couple of days so this goal has been pretty easy to reach.  A few friends have asked me how I find time to read books… I don’t watch TV so that frees me up for reading!   I have a few favorite books from past few weeks:

1) Dark Matter.  Read this if you like actions and sci-fi.  It’s about a man who travels through parallel universe, it’ll really make you THINK what your life would’ve become if you had chosen certain paths.  I could not put this down and couldn’t wait to read it each day.

2) Orphan Train


It’s not as depressing as it sounds.  Trust me!   It is actually a feel-good read!  If you like Angela’s Ashes, you WILL love this.  The story takes place around the depression era and I admit, that era really really fascinates me and I love reading anything, everything about it.   Read this! This is not a depressing read!

2) Take 15000 steps each day on average 

I’m doing very well with this goal since I’ve been running 30+ miles a week.   Also I walk a lot on my commute to work.  I don’t feel like I even have to think about this goal.  It just happens with my lifestyle.  

I lost my Garmin watch recently.  After much much much comptemplating (do I really want to complicate my life further with another gadget?), I decided to buy an Apple Watch.   Literally a day after I got my Apple Watch, I found my Garmin in a purse I hadn’t used in a while  😭

Average steps this month = 17000 (or 8.5 miles a day on average)



3) Try a new Instant Pot recipe each month

Major fail on this goal.  I’ve been using my instant pot to make beans but not trying new recipes.  I have not been in the mood to explore new recipes. I’ve been sticking to the basic recipes like soup/stews and stir-fries where I can just throw in a bunch of random stuff.   Also, I’ve been seeing lots of Instant pot recipes for meat dishes but our household (my husband and I) rarely cooks meat at home.  I’ve bookmarked some meat recipes to try in instapot though. It’s just that we don’t crave or want to cook meat at home,  is it weird? We are omnivores.  We do enjoy eating meat when we eat out but we just don’t cook meat at home. Instapot is amazing to cook meat dishes. I should really try some new recipes!  I still love having instant pot at home to make beans.  They taste much better than canned beans.

Some updates from past few weeks or months:

We went to Portland (I shall write a post about this fun-filled weekend). 

Bay Area stuff:

Fourth of July at A’s game


Poutine!

Eating with the fam bam:

Cooking at home:

My cousin’s baby shower (I made the diaper cakes to add to the existing beautiful decorations – she’s having twins so TWO CAKES :))


Some trail running:

Damn I lost so much fitness. This route was a breeze 2 years ago but I was dying on this run.  


See you on next post 🙂


We had our first and only full day in DC today!  First time in the whole week, we ran.  We ran from our hotel to National Mall and back, totaling 7 miles.

It was 6am and we totally beat the crowd.

Running was the best way to tour this morning.  We ran by White House, WWII Memorial, Reflection Pool, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Korean Memorial.  This gave us the rest of the day to tour the inside of buildings and museums.

Lincoln Memorial had no crowd at 6:30am! Here is an awkward self-timer selfie.  We circled back to this area in 15 mins and tour groups were arriving already.

Korean Memorial

We got back to hotel after running exactly 7 miles.   Pit stop at Au Bon Pain for breakfast.

After washing up, we came back on Metro back to National Mall.  The Capitol looks magnificent close up.  It blows SF city hall out of the water.  It is the US Capitol after all.

We had a reservation for 1:30pm to tour the Capitol but the time conflicted with the White House tour time we got.  

The line without reservation was too long, we decided against visiting the inside. I heard the rotunda looks beautiful.  We will have to save it for next time!

There is a tunnel that connects the Capitol to the Library of Congress.  Inside of the Library looks like something you would see in old time Europe.  Such a beauty.

Historic books on display

A couple was doing a wedding photo shoot! So pretty.

Next, Air and Space museum.  Nothing here caught my attention really.  I heard the Air and Space museum in Virginia is much better.

For lunch, we went a mile away to Nando peri peri chicken.  It was SO good!  We need this chain in SF!

Good spices and sauces to complement the moist chicken.

During lunch I found out that I am not allowed to bring my purse inside White House.  So we went back to hotel to drop off my purse and went to White House to tour INSIDE!

We went through a few layers of security.  Then we got inside just past East Wing.   Many photographs of recent First Ladies were displayed in this room.

This display shows china sets used at State Dinner Services by various presidents.

Obama’s set.  Good color!

Green Room

The rooms we toured today are still being used for events.

And my favorite part of the tour was coming out of the front door of the White House! 

I could see crowds of people by the fence, taking pics of the White House.  I’m not gonna lie, I felt special standing on the front steps of the White House and seeing the crowd!

It was such a cool experience to set foot in there and see it up close!

I highly recommend this tour.  You just need to book it 2 months in advance through your Congressman. 

Our next and finally stop was Museum of Natural History. 

Hope Diamond… a rare blue diamond with so much history.

But I found this sapphire to be a lot prettier and shinier.  Love this!!

We came back to hotel after the museum and it was already 4pm.

Later, we went out to dinner with husband’s friend who lives in DC.  Nice bar bites at a British pub called The Alibi.  My first time trying Scotch Egg and it’s good!

Beef Wellington with filet mignon was my fav.

Random sign 🙂

We hung out til 9ish which is pretty late for us 🙂


Tomorrow we are going back to NY>SF!


4:40am:  Woke up before alarm went off at 4:45. Made coffee and ate a few pieces of brownies I baked last night. 


I watched some random YouTube videos while drinking coffee before husband wakes up…  I like watching inspiring and uplifting videos in the mornings.  They put me in the right mood to start off a productive day.  This morning I watched about bullet journaling and how it improves productivity and lifestyle.  I’ve been thinking about starting one but I don’t think I have the patience.

5:45am:  Went out for a long run.  I ran 11 miles with 5 x 800m.  Satisfied with the splits.  I felt good.  I love track sometimes.


8am: After shower, I made a breakfast taco with eggs and salsa. Ate with beets I roasted last night.  Followed by more brownies 😛  


I don’t remember much what I did between the brownies and 11am.  I read my book, played game on my phone, talked to my husband.  Just stayed on the couch basically.

11:30am:  Walked to Farmers Market with hubby.  We both love this farmers market so much, it’s so lively and has a good variety food stands and a live band. In the summer I go nuts on the stone fruits they sell here.

 

Husband got food from a few food stands and I ate from him.  Samosa, fish taco, hot dog, and boba. 

I got those Lula Roe tights as a gift (thanks, T) and I wore those out today.  And I could not believe how comfy they are!  Soooo soft and stretchy. I just need to figure out what tops to wear with them.  I will love to wear them for traveling and red eyed flights.

12:15pm: Walked to Trader Joe’s for grocery shopping.   Just a few blocks from farmers market. 

A couple of adults and kids were giving free hugs at a street corner.  I hugged 3 strangers and they were so nice 🙂



1pm:  Stayed in the area and watched a movie (Guardian of the Galaxy vol 2) at this historic/old but cool theatre. We saw it on 3D and I think I got a light headache from it.  It’s funny and action packed, lots of computer graphic.  It’s a fun movie!



4pm:  Picked up Ethiopian food from Ensarro for early dinner.  It’s our favorite Ethiopian restaurant.



5pm:  Done with dinner.  Ate icecream and more brownies for dessert…  Hong Kong Milk Tea is a new flavor from Humphrey.  Wish it had more tea flavor.



6pm:  Finished reading Waking Gods… I’m giving it 3 stars.  It’s a sequel to Sleeping Giants which was amazing.  Sequels can be a hit or a miss.  This one is kind of a miss.  But if there’ll be another sequel, I’ll still read it. I need to know what happens!

I actually enjoyed the story and the plot. I’m just not a fan of the writing style.  The whole book is presented as pages of interviews, dialogs, journal entries, and news reports.  

That was the 12th book I read this year.  (I set a goal to read 25 this year.)

7pm:  Cracking open a new book from the library.  It sounds very promising! Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.

8:30pm: Watched the first few minutes of Manchester by the Sea on Amazon Prime then hit the hay.  


Consistency is essential in training.  It’s not a single workout that improves your fitness.  It is a few weeks or months of being consistent with runs and workouts  that brings you closer to your goal.

I’ve been consistent with my tempo runs and track workouts past two weeks and I’m already seeing some improvement in my fitness.  I realized how much I’ve missed speed training!

————————
Week 2:

M – upper body weight (10 mins)

T – 6 miles with 2 mi tempo @ 8:08, 7:54

W – rest

Th – 5 mi w/ 6 x 400m @ 1:52, 1:53, 1:50, 1:50, 1:47, 1:44

F – 3 mi easy

S – 10 mi easy

S – 6 mi easy

Weekly Total = 30 miles 


I ran by this during my 10 mile run and I had to stop to take a picture.  (Golden Gate Park)

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Week 3: 

M – lower body weight (10 mins)

T – 6 miles with 2 mi tempo @ 7:53, 7:46 — improved from last week and felt easier

W – rest

Th – 6 mi slow w/ hills mixed in, 900 ft climb

F – 3 mi easy

S – 10 mi w/ 2x800m @ 3:37, 3:48; 4x400m @ 1:46, 1:46 1:48, 1:42 — another improvement

S – 5 mi easy

Weekly Total = 30 miles
—————————–

I am now ready to increase the volume/length of these speed workouts. 

This morning (week 4, Tuesday) I did a 3 mile tempo run during my 7 miler and the tempo miles averaged 7:45-7:50 pace. Progress! Little at a time.

Summer is approaching and life will get a little busier but I will plow through this 5K training 🙂 just one more month!

On a COMPLETELY unrelated note, how sick is my new phone case?? I may be a case of 33 going on 3, I still love glitter like a little girl.


Spring is here!

I haven’t run a good race in over 1.5 years and I’m bored of running slow.  I’m going to change things up a bit with my running!

Ever since I started running five years ago, I focused on running long distance races.  Now to change things up, I am signed up to do a 5K race 7 weeks from now.  Because I did no speed workouts for the last 1.5 years, I’ve lost quite a bit of running fitness.  Track workouts and tempo runs will be back in my life again.  They are keys to getting faster.

My (preliminary) goal for this upcoming 5K is 23 minutes or under.  That’s 7:23 pace.  I’m not in shape now but I think it’s doable.  The only other short race I’ve run was a 10K and I ran a 7:26 pace… two years ago when I was much fitter.

I will document my training journey for the next seven weeks.  Writing about it on the blog will hold me accountable to continue training hard 🙂

Today (Saturday), I squeezed in a short track workout during my 10 miler.  I warmed up with 5 miles easy then did 10 x 1 minute at my neighborhood track.  I ran 1 minute fast, 1 minute of jog/recovery, and repeated 10 times.  I set my Garmin to beep every minute at track and I didn’t even look at my watch for pace.  My FAVORITE part of each speed workout is reading the pace afterward!  It’s so satisfying.

garmin

It’s my first track workout in a long time so short intervals were a good start.  There’s much progress to be made in the next few weeks.  I’m excited for the new training cycle!

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A brief race report:

I ran Rock n Roll San Francisco half marathon three weeks ago.  I ran 1:59 and it was my second slowest half marathon to date!!!  My slowest was my first ever half marathon in 2012 and finished at 2:01.  This shows how unfit I’ve become (and it kicked me in the rear to train again.)

My favorite part of the course was this….  there was a major hill to climb toward Golden Gate Bridge, and there were pictures of fallen soldiers lining the course for a good half mile or longer.  It’s such an emotional, touching part of the race.

My second favorite part of the race course was running on Golden Gate Bridge.  The highlight for me was seeing my dad on my return route on the bridge.  We highfived each other but our hands missed and we just kept running.

Finish line was pretty crowded but it’s normal.

My dad finishing his very first half marathon!  We couldn’t be more proud.

He has his eyes on a PR in his next race in August!

Have a nice weekend, and Happy Easter to those who celebrate!


March is here!  A few posts back, I wrote about setting 3 goals for 2017. Let’s see how I’m doing…

Goal #1: Read 25 books in 2017

I finished 6 books so far in 2017.  I’ve been enjoying all the books I’ve been reading, but my favorite one has to be this book written by J.K. Rowling, published under pseunonyn Robert Galbraith.


As someone who was obsessed with the entire Harry Potter series many years ago, I was thrilled to find a new series of adult books under the same author.  I was also worried that this would not live up to the expectation of Harry Potter’s awesomeness.  It was different from HP (of course) and still perfectly written. J K Rowling does not disappoint.   Never a dull moment with her writings.  There were clues given throughout the book and they were unraveled in the final pages. And I’m sure more clues will be given throughout the series that will continue to connect the dots and solve the mysteries… I hope this is gonna be a long series!

And I made an effort to pick up a real book (versus reading it on my kindle :))

I am currently reading:

 


Goal #2: Average 15000 steps a steps per day on AVERAGE

I knew this was going to be a difficult goal to achieve especially with the nonstop rains in the last few months.  My year-to-date average right now is almost 13000 steps a day (6.5 miles roughly) according to my iPhone’s built-in app.   Weather has gotten better since last week and I’ve been more active outdoor since. So I will be slowly increasing my average going into warmer months in the spring! Slowly but surely!

Year to date = 12900 average 

February average = 13700 average

Last week average = 17300 average


Cannot wait to start running in shorts again!

Goal #3: Try one new Instant Pot recipe each month

I’ve been doing pretty well with this goal! 


So far this year, I’ve used my Instant Pot to make steel cut oats, garbanzo beans (from dry beans), black eyes peas, and a variety of stews. I love the convenience of just turning it on and forget about it until the timer beeps.

 

Chickpeas after pressurecooked for 35 minutes. (Tea bag was used for color for a curry recipe) A year or so ago I boiled dry chickpeas on stovetop for 2 hours and they were not nearly as soft as the pressure cooker method! 

Another batch:

Having these goals is really motivating me to keep reading, cooking, and staying active 🙂

See you next post!

 


We enjoyed the sunny San Diego for a long weekend a few weekends ago.  It was such a nice break from a streak of heavy rains in the Bay Area that seemed to last forever.

We used our frequent flyer miles to fly free for this trip! Thank you, United! 

We did a little bit of (mostly window) shopping at Fashion Valley Mall.

It was the Lunar New Year’s Day!

Went to this cute part of town. No idea what else was there.

We yelped some taco places and ended up here as our first meal: El Zarape

We had some time to kill before checking into hotel so we checked out Ocean Beach and the pier.  There was a small yoga fair happening…


For dinner, we found this carribean restaurant called Embargo Grill and checked it out. It was so delicious and the pisco sours I had was strong! 


Then we stopped by Hammond’s Ice Cream for a little sampler of scones. They were so small and not enough to be shared.

So we drove to a nearby mall to look for more treats! (Somebody wanted DQ… ahem) 

Both malls we went to were outdoor and they’re both nice and airy.  Considering how nice San Diego weather is year round, I can see why the malls are outdoor.

Next morning, I went on a semi long run from our hotel to Balboa Park.  V went running on his own and we ran into each other at the park. (This happens a lot back home too.) The pic below was taken with a self-timer on my phone 😄

Balboa Park has a bunch of small museums grouped together. Really beautiful architecture!

After the run and washing up, we went out for brunch at another taco place: Oscar’s.  We both agreed the food here was even better than the previous day.

We figured we should squeeze in a little sightseeing on this trip (having been to the zoo and Seaworld years ago and didn’t want to go again) so we decided to check out La Jolla Cove. 

We didn’t know what to expect to see at La Jolla, but we were both so wowed by many sea lions there. 

They were napping so close to the parking lot! They didn’t give a damn about people watching them.

Later in the day, we went to V’s cousin’s wedding at a church.

The reason why we went on a somewhat impromptu trip to San Diego: to witness their marriage!

It was a short and sweet dessert reception. It was over by about 4pm.

We went out to dinner later for some drinks and BBQ at Woodranch.

Next morning, on our last day, I went out for a short 3-mile run around the hotel and this was the view from the parking lot!  (I miss Hawaii!)

Mirror selfie #OOTD pose.  Ready for brunch!

Later, we checked out of hotel and drove to Del Mar about 20 minutes north of San Diego to meet up with my cousin and her husband.  It was a warm day and we hadn’t seen this much sun in a while so we soaked it all in.  There was a yoga class in session at the beach! 

Our brunch at Jake’s was very good.

Their take on SF’s ciopinno.  

Then we headed back to the airport to go home. Airport has a Phil’s BBQ location and we didn’t know it’s such a well known place down in SD.  Their original location has over 10,000 reviews on yelp and 4.5 stars!

That’s all for a 3-day trip! 

It’s already February… I will do a 2017 resolution update very soon 🙂 


Happy New Year! It’s a new year for new beginnings! So refreshing.

First of all, my husband started a blog on sustainable and healthy living topics. Check it out:  Modest Health.  Several good articles have already been written based on his knowledge of working in a sustainable business environment and his personal experience in a healthy, fitness lifestyle (he’s a marathoner… and a fast one)

Now let’s get to my 2017 goals!

I started working toward these goals since last month already.  I couldn’t wait til a turn of a new calendar to get started.  

I made sure that my goals are MEASURABLErealistic, and attainable.

Goal # 1:  Read at least 25 books in 2017

I somehow slacked off on reading in 2016. Blame it on life changes such as moving and getting married. Also blame it on traveling more than I ever had in my life. I just didn’t find the inspiration to read last year. So I finished only 13 books.  (I list all the books I read on Goodreads so it’s easy to keep track.)


I entered these Reading Challenges on Goodreads.  I read 51 books in 2011, versus  13 books in 2016.  I’m sure I can find more time to read.  I already went to library twice last week to get books so I am on track. 

Goal #2:  Learn at least one new Instant Pot recipe per month

We received an Instapot or IPot from our wedding registry (thanks, jie!) 


(Instant Pot)

So far I’ve used it a few times to make basic stews.  I would like to find new recipes because that thing can do so much more! There are many web forums and blogs dedicated to IPotting and electric pressure cooking.  One new recipe each month with IPot seems doable.  I’ve been in a cooking rut lately so this will be good for me.

Goal #3:  Take 15000 steps per day on average 

I don’t have a Fitbit or Apple Watch and I don’t want to obsess over the numbers on a daily basic.  Having said that, I do look at my iPhone’s built-in Health App once in while to see my activity levels. 

I carry the phone with me on my runs so the steps are counted.  (Since I resetted my phone recently, I lost my data for last year to report).  My typical work days can range anywhere from 10000 to 20000 steps depending on whether I run and how far I run. Weekends are a little more active, around 25000 steps. On average I was around 13000 steps each day in 2016.

Below is an example of my steps yesterday. It’s not accurate sometimes but good enough. I ran 5 miles in the morning,  then walked to a supermarket and a donut shop about 15 minutes away later on in the day. So the numbers should be a little higher… but close enough.


So let’s say my daily average in 2016 was 13000 steps.  I will try to increase it to 15000 steps  in 2017!  I walk a lot on my work commute and I like to run so this is an attainable goal.

If you haven’t tried this app, just open the app and see how much you’ve been walking.  The app is built-in on iPhone 5S and later generations.  The data are at your finger tips!

The App on iPhone >>  

I will try to report my progress on all three of these goals periodically!  So stay tuned for that :). Now that I wrote those down and published the goals, I will have to make these happen!!!

Have a great 2017!


Three years ago, I ran San Francisco Marathon. It was my second ever full marathon at the time. 26.2 miles!! Full marathons are always so special. It takes more than TWICE the effort of a half marathon to get me to the finish line because it’s just really, really long.

I finished at 4:02 while my goal was to be under 4 hour clock.   Even though I didn’t make my goal time, I was still as proud as ever and it was a five minute PR at that time (2013.)


(With my brother)

Having run four more full marathons later, I still find SFM as one of my most memorable races ever. SF is my hometown and SF Marathon is THE race here. It’s a hard course and I love it.

Anyways, back to SF Marathon circa 2013, I remember waiting at start line at 5:30am. Then at around mile 17-18 my legs started to twitch and my muscles in the legs were just twitchy, not hurting but just twitchy.  I worried if I could even finish.  I managed to run 4:02 but for the last several miles, I really thought I would have to crawl to the finish line. 

I have had several more PRs after that race but SF Marathon still stays close to my heart.

Now…..   I am no where near where I was in my running fitness.  Sure I can still knock out 6-8 miles easily but no where near how fast I could finish them.  But I feel grateful to still enjoy RUNNING no matter what pace I’m running.  

I am learning a lot about running while not running as much as I used to. I still LOVE running. Just in a different way as I used to. One to two years ago, I ran to gain speed and fitness to get PRs in races.  Now, I run to clear my head and to enjoy my alone time while I get to put in my exercise  goals to stay fit.  Just different goals now but same motions.  There were times I really really really loved running in past years. I woke up most days of the weeks to get up to start my runs.   I tried to nail my track workouts and beat my times for those mini-PRs. And I loved the feelings of getting a good track workout done before most people in SF even woke up in the morning! Now I’ve taken some time off from training.  I still run very regularly but I haven’t done a track workout in months.  I miss the feeling of getting up early in the morning to start an interval workout that would kick my butt… It was sort of like playing a video game, you try to hit the paces that you set for yourself.  You are in control of how well you can do. I do miss it.  But yes I’ve been lazy.

Right now, I just don’t have the motivation. I run 20-30 miles a week for the last several months and  I’m not keeping track of it at all.   I still enjoy my runs though.  I run as much as my heart desires and that’s what best for me now. I will be back.

To be continued.


A few weekends ago, I went on a little hike in the Marin Headlands (north of San Framcisco.)  I had been to certain parts of the Marin but not this.   

One of my bros was visiting from out of country so it was nice catching up 🙂 even though I saw him back in January in Singapore.
  

I really like the idea of “nature walks” aka hiking.  I don’t think I can do this alone because I would lose patience and start running only because it’d be done faster. But as a family outting, it was fun to chitchat, walk, and get lost in the scenery.

 

Then the following weekend, I went to Berkeley’s Tilden park to watch a trail race.  

I love the energy of a trail race. It’s much more intimate than a normal road race.  

While the race was happening, I walked around alone. I didn’t think I could walk alone for long but I did.  I didn’t run since I was running a half marathon a day after in SF.  I wandered around Lake Anza. It’s probably a one-mile lap but involved some climbing on the tree roots by the water to complete a loop. 
   

# no filter.  Everything was so GREEN. El Niño, you are amazing. It was so serene and not a soul in sight.

img_4974

Some parts of the lake had 50 shades of green since its spring! ☘

img_4979
But we are still in a drought…

  

And this is pretty cool. If I ran 100 miles, maybe I’d want to put these on my bumper too. I don’t care if people think I’m a nerd.

Then I saw V finish his race. I was inspired to do more trail running.

   

Or any kind of sweating will do.  Spinning has been fun. I don’t think I can make it a part of my weekly routine but I’ll try to enjoy it whenever I can make it there. Good music and lots of sweat = good endorphins = happy Jess.

 

I should end the post with something food related 😁 I made a poke bowl at home and it’s so good. Chop up some sushi-grade tuna (I used half pound here) and toss them in soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and hot sauce. Serve over rice with any toppings you like! So easy.