Monday, June 29, 2009

Are you thirsTEA?

When it is not water I am drinking, it would most likely be tea. I love tea but that was not always the case. Back in the Philippines, I was more into coffee. My tea intake was limited to TCB&TL's chai latte which was always the perfect drink while bonding with girlfriends. That all changed upon moving to Japan. I spent the first three months in language school where all our meals were accompanied by tea! Being used to drinking water at meals, I was shocked that there were no glasses set at our table. Instead, there was a kettle and tiny cups at one end of the table. One of my tablemates kindly poured me a cup of hot tea and it was love at first sip. The tea tasted simple and clean; just the right drink for any meal. Ever since, I've always had my meals with cups of tea. I feel lucky to have been able to go to a couple tea ceremonies!

{Sadou: 茶道}

The ceremony follows a set of etiquette; the movements are precise; and each detail has meaning and significance. We even had trial sessions the day before to make sure we knew what to do and what to say. Other than trying not to forget my lines, the ceremony was lovely and calming. The deliciously thick bitter taste of the tea was perfect with these pretty sweets.

{Too pretty to eat :P}

One of my favorite things working in a Japanese company is that I can have tea anytime. There is always a fresh pot in the pantry and during summer, there is a pitcher of green tea chilling in the fridge. It is more awesome knowing that the tea we drink comes from local plantations. Biking around, I'd sometimes stop to look at pretty tea fields.

{I love green.}

Matcha flavored sweets are also aplenty. There are tons of cakes, pastries, mochi, ice cream, and chocolate to choose from. While the simple green tea is recommended daily, I think it is perfectly okay to indulge in these sweets from time to time. :)


How about you, do you love tea? Or do you prefer coffee instead? Are you also crazy with matcha flavored goodies?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

You are beautiful. Smile!

Today could not have been more beautiful.

I had healthy delicious meals. Udon, mizuna, sprouts, tofu, with loads of sesame seeds for breakfast. Sweet potato (with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon) and fish for lunch. Avocado, banana, yogurt, and raisins on a soy milk bread roll for dinner. Dark chocolate and mixed nuts for snack. At the grocery, I got kabocha and over a dozen bananas! Even if I knew I still had 6 more in the freezer, I always feel like I need to buy more when I see them. Tell me this also happens to you. :P What single fruit/veg/food do you always NEED to have in your pantry? The evening was hot and humid but I managed to knock off my long run for the week. I missed my marker so my scheduled 4.5 miler ended up being a 5 miler. Ooops!

All of those things mentioned above made my day lovely. But today was not only about ME. What made my day more special was that I was (hopefully) able to make someone else smile. I was on an operation to spread positive body image by posting random notes in public places today. I decided on cutting pictures from an old magazine because recycling always ups the coolness factor of anything, right? :P

{"You are beautiful. Smile!" in Nihongo.}

The first one was posted at the washroom of the grocery I went to today. I was afraid it would be taken down immediately since Japanese toilets are always kept clean and spotless. When I went back later in the afternoon (and bought additional bananas!), the post was still there! :P Hopefully, the note made a Wednesday shopper's day brighter.

{Pretty Pictures; Beautiful Message}

At this book store/arcade I went to, a bunch of grade school girls would always drop by and hang around after school. They would usually buy water/tea/fruit juice from the vendo while they chat and laugh. When they grab a drink from the vendo, I hope the post makes them smile.

{A drink: 120 Yen. A smile: Priceless.}

If you were to write and post a note for yourself, what would it say? What would your message to other women be?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday: Start Your Week Right!

My weekend was great and based on what I read the past couple hours, you guys had amazing weekends as well! I ran 3 miles on Saturday morning and spent the rest of the day cleaning, baking, napping, and reading blogs (but of course! :P). In the evening, I biked to some friends' place and brought the banana carrot bread I made earlier. We had fun eats like yakisoba, spaghetti, and vanilla ice cream. I tend to make less healthy decisions food-wise during the weekends that I actually welcome Mondays because it makes me go back to my normal eating mode. Yay for Mondays, right? :P Here's my usual rice-veg-fish lunch.

{Soy Sauce Bunny}

Wanting to start the week on a healthy note, I woke up early for a 40 minute walk knowing that an evening run is not happening tonight due to rains. :s Hopefully, I'll be able to run 3 or 4 days (3 miles) and another day for this week's 'long' run (4.5 miles). Avoiding injury is my top priority so I'm heeding your tips and insights on my last post. If somehow my body is not feeling a scheduled run, I won't push it. I'll just walk it or do stretches (I love stretching!). Interval training (as suggested by burpandslurp) sounds great so I'll also incorporate that in one of my runs this week.

Seeing adorable dogs during my walks/runs always makes me smile. This particular doggie was so used to the camera obeying his "mom's" directions to seat, look at the camera, and SMILE! :D


Aside from the health benefits you get from exercising outdoors, what other things make you smile during your walk/hike/run? Do you also adore dogs or are you afraid they may come too near and might bite you? I am usually focused on my run and would admire a dog from a safe distance. When I'm walking though, they are always a delight! :D

Friday, June 19, 2009

Too Much Too Soon?

Last night, I ran my first ever 4 miler. There was a light drizzle as I left my place but I was determined to run. As if on cue, the drizzling stopped just as I finished warming up and was about to go. I was so into my run and before I knew it, I was already at the halfway mark. I only needed a 5-second break to stretch my back and I was off again. It was my best run so far. Don't you just love it when the miles just seem to fly? How do you describe how you feel when you are 'in the zone'? For me, it felt like I was floating.

{Feel Light}

Since I have plans for tonight, I had to sneak in my 2.5 mile run this morning. It was better than my previous morning run but I'd still prefer evening. I guess it might be the heat, the sunlight, or that my body is still not warmed up enough that slows me down. I'll reserve my mornings then for days when evening rains are expected or when I have other evening plans. :)

Last week (Week 2), I ran 5 out of 7 days with a total of 14 miles. After I complete a 3 miler (on either Saturday or Sunday), this weeks' total would be 15.5 miles. I read somewhere about gradually increasing run distance around 10% more than the previous week so I think my mileage is just fine. While I don't feel any pains, soreness, or discomfort I am worried that I may be doing too much too soon. As a newbie runner, do you guys think that running 5 days a week is too much or just right? Should I just follow my natural rhythms to run most nights and taking a couple days' rest? Or would it be better if I toned it down a bit (run 4 days, rest 3 days) to avoid future burn out? Thanks in advance! :D Your words of encouragement and tips on previous posts have been very helpful. Thank you and enjoy your weekend! :D

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Running in the Rain: Possible?

I was all set on running Tuesday night but 2 minutes into my run, rain started pouring! :s I had to go back home and call it a rest day. So while the thunder rolled, I curled up and started reading the 'Okuribito'/'Departures' comic book I bought last weekend. The film is the Academy Award® Winner for Best Foreign Language Film this year. I have yet to watch it though. Since I cannot read all the Japanese characters, I depended a lot on the drawings. Take a peek:


So while I rested my body and exercised my mental muscles last night, this morning I had the crave to run. Since I started running at the beginning of the month, I have never tried daytime running. While I felt a bit slower with today's 3-miler, it was still a good run. Plus, I got to watch the sunrise and spotted these hydrangeas that are in bloom all over Japan in June.

{Blues & Whites}

Do you like running in the rain? I've read about some people who do so and I am in awe. I'd like to try that one of these days, even for a short run. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. :)
Also, do you prefer day/night runs? Based on today's run, I'd still prefer my evening runs. I'd still do morning runs whenever I am up early to mix up my routine a bit.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Walk In The Clouds

The positive feedback I received the past days from different bloggers made me very happy today. Thanks guys! As I continue with this blogging thing, I guess I have to let you know more a bit about me. :)

I am from the Philippines but am currently working in the IT field (programming) in a small city in Japan. Have you ever heard of my country before? Monique Lhuillier was born in the Philippines although her heritage is a mix of French, Spanish, and Filipino. She's the first person I could think of that I'm sure you guys would know. Also, we have great beaches and the sweetest mangoes.

It has almost been a year and a half since I moved to Japan. One of the things I really wanted to do here (aside from eating yummy Japanese food :P) was to climb Mt. Fuji. So one weekend last summer, we decided on climbing Japan's highest mountain (3,776 meters). Our group of four started our hike at around 7pm after we had dinner and shared bites of this yummy Mt. Fuji-shaped pastry.

{Mountain of Yum}

We hiked at a steady pace all night. Although the climb was generally manageable, the cold temperature added a bit of challenge for me. Night climb is popular during the summer months because it offers climbers a view of the famed Mt. Fuji sunrise at the peak. People would position themselves as they pleased and marveled as the sun glowed brighter.

{Watching Sunrise}

The peak was very crowded with climbers from around the world and all over Japan. There were families, friends, couples, tour groups, and solo climbers. The toddlers and the older climbers were the ones I was really impressed with. Aside from the usual souveneir and ramen shops, there were also vending machines and a post office (where one can mail a special Mt. Fuji postcard) at the peak! After resting a while and grabing a bite, we started with our descent. The view going down was unbelievable; the clouds were below us!

{Oh Happy Clouds!}

It was an amazing once in a lifetime experience, one where my mental and physical strength was tested. I am sure that with regular training and patience, running will also turn out to be as awesome. Is there anything you would like to experience at least once? Given the chance, I would not think twice about trying bungee jumping. Also, a hot air balloon ride would probably be the closest thing to taking a walk in the clouds. :P


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Before running, I was in love with walking.

I feel good about running 5 nights this week. I know I am slow and still have a looong way to go but I think I did well for a beginner. I have never ran a total of 14 miles in a week before! Last Friday night was the first time I ever ran 5K straight. Yey for baby steps!

Before I started running, my daily exercise was an hour's walk. After work, I would take evening walks. During the weekends, I would either go biking or take a long walk. Walking allows me to bring along my camera and take some pictures of whatever interests me. Here's a photo of some lovely whites I saw during one of my walks last spring.

{Roadside Pretties}

Back then, I was completely satisfied with walking and never imagined myself being able to run for an entire minute. Although I plan on upping my miles and trimming my running time, walking will always have a special place in my heart. I think all the walks I took helped with my transition to running.

Did you also start with walking before switching to running? During 'rest' days, is it okay to take a leisurely walk? I don't want to completely break up with walking just yet. :P

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I don't know where this run will take me...


I'll keep this first post short since I don't really know where to start.
I'm Mia, 25 (Yikes! :P) , and I love laughter, balance, prettiness, and reading blogs (Win!).
I am a newbie runner (I just started this month and my longest run was 3 miles.) and I'd like to keep it going. Any tips for a newbie runner?

I also try to take photographs whenever I can. That's my yellow pansy in February. It still has pretty blooms after four months since I bought it.


I also love food and I try to keep it as healthy as possible. I HEART bananas, peanut butter, veggies, and fish. Have you ever tried a Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich? It's the best. Ever!


That's it for now. Have a lovely day! (Oh yeah, I also like the word 'lovely' A LOT and I abuse the parentheses.)