Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mental + Physical Muscles @ Work

Now, where do I start? I'll just go ahead. Weee, I just ran my PDR to date: 12 miles. (Twirls 3x with a BIG SMILE across my face!) Like all my long runs, this one was not planned. My mental muscles were at work on a task the entire day and I felt the need to unwind with a long run. Taking a quick break from my task, I found myself mapping a 12 miler loop. So it was decided that I was going to run a long one tonight. After work, Aki sent me a message inviting me to hang out with her and Tara. Since I was going to see them on Saturday anyway, I passed on a girls' night out for a RUN.
{Beauty About To Bloom}
When I got home, I immediately ate my pre-run fuel. While waiting for my tummy to settle, I cleaned up my pad and folded the laundry. Yeah, I even strapped on my single bottle belt while doing these chores so that I would not be tempted to back out. Haha. I also snuck in 2 energy bars in the small pocket for mid-run fuel. After an hour, off I went.

I spent the first minute adjusting and getting used to the belt. By then end of Mile01, I hardly noticed it. At Mile02, a guy passed me and I wanted to catch up but I reminded myself to take it slow since this was going to be a long one. I kept going at a steady pace and before I knew it, I was at Mile05 and about to make my turn on the loop. I also made sure to greet every walker/runner I met; I was on a high! I drank my water and took a bite of the energy bar whenever I stopped at red lights. The beauty of this loop was that the first half has a lot of trees while the second half is on the city side walk. So the route offers variety and lots of opportunity to sight see. :D Totally unlike my 10 miler! It was pretty neat passing by the dainty cafes and watching people dining inside while I felt so good about running outside. I'll have to admit though that I was tempted to take a detour at the kaiten (revolving/conveyor belt) sushi bars. That would have been insane!

From Miles06-09, I was in autopilot mode. It was just a matter of putting one leg infront of the other. At the last quarter of my route, I was getting tired. When I remembered the email I got from my youngest sister that morning, I got re-energized. She was so exited to tell me about her landing her first job fresh after graduating from university. I was imagining all sorts of fun things for her at her new job and the daydreaming helped me go through at least 2 miles. When I was around 500 meters away from my 12 mile mark, I just gave it my all.

{Worth The Wait}

I read somewhere that a long run is supposed to be enjoyed so that one should not be huffing and puffing by the end. That's what I did and didn't worry about my pace. Again, your tips helped me so much tonight. The water bottle belt and pre/mid/post-run fuel are indeed important for me on long runs. I only ate one of the energy bars mid-run and was not feeling hungry after but I knew I had to eat something. I had half a toast with beans, 1/4 banana, and peanuts. Stretched, took a cold bath, and iced my knees.

OMGOMGOMG, I think I found a race I could join. It's a half marathon at the end of November. Would you believe that last year's 1st placer (W 16-39 years old) ran the half in 1:24:38?! Is that normal? I was shocked! Any tips for speed training? I'll need Aki's help with the website translation and registration. Yay! :D

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Kelly gave me my first ever blog award and I'm thrilled. Thanks Kelly! She is super cool; she finished a sprint triathlon a couple weeks ago! Plus, she's planning her own wedding so expect more loveliness in her blog.

I'm supposed to pass this award to 15 blogs. Val, Kailey, and Karena's are lovely and they've also received this one. In place of the three, I'm including Allie, Katharina, and Maya so you can check them out if you're not reading their blogs yet. I've only started visiting theirs but I'm sure to go back for more lovely reads. Hopefully, I'll have the time to update my blog roll this weekend.

Live Laugh Eat
Burp and Slurp
the whole plate
Healthy Ashley
Eating for England
She Runs Brooklyn
Chocolate Shoestrings
American Gourmande
Girl With The Red Hair
Angie's Appetite for Life
Katharina's Food Adventures
Running To Slow Things Down
Madison's Healthy Happenings
Living Healthy in the Real World

If you're a Lovely Blog Awardee, kindly pass it on to 15 people and let them know you gave it to them :) I wish I could give everybody the award though so I'm sending you some virtual chocolate loving instead. :D

{Bitter Chocolate With A Spicy Kick Fit For A Kitty Princess}
As the rain pours outside, I lie on the floor near the balcony. After a little rain watching, I pick up a book and lose myself in the story while nibbling on good chocolate. Dolls, tell me about a lovely thing you like doing.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Last July Weekend

Unlike the other weekend which was packed and I had to sacrifice sleep, this weekend was more balanced. I like how refreshed I am on a Monday morning after a great weekend. I hope yours was great, too!

Food. My weekend eats were great. I made double serving of curried veggies on Saturday because curry tastes even better the day after methinks. The food spread at Aki and Jo's Saturday Socials consisted of organic tortillas, salsa, chocolate chip banana bread, and gyouza (pot stickers). I love it that Aki is a healthy foodie so we totally clicked! She shared the banana bread recipe she used which is from a young Japanese lady's blog. Looks like I'll be baking me some banana goodness this week. What is your favorite pastry to bake? In my family, I'm the least talented baker but banana bread is something I can manage. :D

{Chocolate Chip Banana Bread}

On Sunday, I heated the leftover curry with cheese before heading out biking and shopping. Dinner was at friends' party where I also had ice cream. While I don't cook with meat now (and have also stopped cooking fish a few weeks ago), I have a bit of meat/fish at social situations. I'd still prefer meatless options but if there's none available, I do eat a bit like that single piece of gyouza at Aki's and spaghetti with meat sauce at the party. Whatever eater you are (raw, vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, omnivore, etc.), moderation is key. I say, eat healthy. Period. :D

Sleep. I'm not done yet with "The Omnivore's Dilemma" but have started Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina". Cross reading the two very different books is interesting. I'm enjoying reading and it's a great way to make me sleepy when my brain won't just shut down. I got my ideal 7 hours of sleep during the weekend and now feel so much better compared to last Monday. Did you sleep well over the weekend?

Move. Ran 4 miles on Saturday and biked on Sunday. It was my first time running at 3PM and was it hot and humid! :S The heat must have helped because I just wanted to get the run done with quickly. That meant a faster run and therefore faster pace. Score for turning a negative thing to my advantage! Haha. Also, thank you very much for all your encouragement and tips on my first ever 10 miler. It's amazing how much support we receive from people we haven't met in real life, right?

It will be August this coming Saturday! :D Let's rock the last days of July! Have a great week ahead.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Aliens are scratching their heads...


No, your eyes are not fooling you. That's the course I ran last night. 1.25 miles each way, 2.5 miles out and back. I did that four times to complete my first ever double digit run. 10 miles, done!

The aliens from way up there are not the only ones thinking I'm crazy for running the same route four times. There were also a couple high school boys at one of the intersections chatting away and must have wondered what the heck was wrong with me as I passed by them EIGHT times! Haha. It does not really bother me at all. Hey, I even do my stretches and weird moves outside. Cooling down outdoors with the fresh air and the gentle evening wind is awesome.

+ Amazed that whenever the wind blew, water trapped on the trees' leaves would fall on me in large drops. I love it when that happens! Such simple and natural beauty.
+ Savored a relatively large dinner. I was hungry after the run. That never happened to me before.
+ Enjoyed an alternating cold/hot shower. Have you ever tried doing this? Some say it's bad; others say it works wonders for the health.
+ Slept like a baby. Hmmm.
+ Feeling no soreness today since I remembered to ice my knees and to keep my legs elevated.

- Underestimated that 10 miles was a long run and ate only 1/4 banana and 1/4 rye bread thus felt a little hungry by mile 8. Any pre-long run fuel suggestions? Thanks!
Yeah, that's it. Otherwise, everything else was great.

Now why on earth would I run the same out and back four times? Hydration. See, I still don't own a hydration belt so what I do is to go back to my start point. That's where my bike (with the water bottle) is parked. It allows me three walking and re-hydration breaks. Plus, 10 miles seems like forever so I decided to break it up into four short runs. Good strategy? Or should I just go on and get myself a single belt bottle? Karena shared some great info here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Snacking Around The World

Although I don't eat cereals often, the fun packaging got me. So, I sampled cereals from Lithuania! Their website states: "In exhibition World Food Ukraine in Kiev, our best products Cinamoni and Nuttys won Grand Prix and Golden Medal in tasting contest." Looks like the ones available at my favorite imported grocery shop are winners! I like how the cereals were not overly sweet. Yum. What's your fave cereal?

Next up, caramelized biscuits from Belgium. These were perfect match with tea as I read on a rainy afternoon. A bit dry and crumbly, I did not mind dunking them in the tea.

Where do your bananas come from? The ones here are from the Philippines. Ever since reading about Gena's Banana Soft Serve last month, I've been making and having some. I had it plain, with cinnamon, and with dark chocolate. It's simply the best. Today, I had some topped with black sesame. The toasty seeds gave the creamy bananas a bit of crunch action, not that it needed that.

{Kitty Jiggles in Approval!}

While it is best to purchase local, I am guilty of buying imported food. My reason could be as silly as cute packaging, or the excitement of trying something foreign, or that there simply are no bananas in Japan. Do you buy at imported food shops? It's like taking a foodie trip around the world, right?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekend Wii + Wee Bit of Sleep

I'm suffering from the Manic Monday Syndrome right now. I can't wait for the workday to end so I could nap, try a new eggplant dish, and go for an evening walk, then SLEEP. My weekend in bullets:

. Found some great produce Saturday morning.
. Made new friends and bonded over Wii, faith, books, and good conversation. This might become a Saturday Evening Socials kind of thing. They even created my own Mii! :P
. Nibbled on freshly baked brownies and okra tempura at said socials. Would love to try making the tempura with my okra but the heat is killing me.
. Ruined my optimal sleep streak by Wii-ing way past midnight. It was my first time playing it. I'm so behind, I know. :s Although it was fun, I'd still prefer real exercise any day of the week. You a Wii fan?
. Slept over at Rea's but couldn't really fall asleep. Hate it when that happens. Before I knew it, the sun was up and we had to go out for the scheduled run.
. Completed the entire lake loop on Sunday morning. Even if Rea opted to bike instead, I still pushed for a run.
. Learned about how a friend's eating habits are significantly different from mine. It's not a matter of who's right or wrong. As I don't like being judged for what I eat, I accept that what works for me doesn't necessarily work for others.
. Biked around to parts of the city I've never been to. Spent the rest of Sunday at the mall where I drank good coffee and snacked endlessly. Checked out running gear and bought some fun and soon to be tested snackies. :P
. Got rained on my ride back home but it did not bother me. It was a refreshing break from the heat.

That's it. It was a fun Wiikend and my only regret is not sleeping early last night. Now, I certainly feel like crashing. Must not underestimate the power of rest again!

{Hope this relaxing image helps me last the day. :P}

Here's to a great weekend! Unlike me, I hope you balanced all the fun with enough rest in preparation for the new week.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Local, Organic, and Affordable Finds

It's a cloudy but hot and humid Saturday afternoon over here and I just came back from the grocery. Again, I have overstocked on fruits and veggies. Haha! Bananas, avocados, papaya, and peach. Plus, the fridge is now filled with over a dozen different veggies; I am so excited. I'm so pathetic to be excited over fruits and veggies but you understand, right? :P Best purchase of the day were these okra, eggplant, and cucumbers. I bought them at a roadside stand. These stands are unmanned and follow the honesty system. The buyer pays by simply dropping the coins in a marked box. Do you have any of these stands where you live?

{5 cucumbers, 6 eggplant, 18(!) okra}

Would you believe all of those fresh, local, and organic beauties above cost 200 Yen (less than $2)?! Insane, right? A couple weeks ago, I got the freshest beans from the same stand. They were so young I ate some of them raw. If any of you have okra recipes, please share them with me. Thanks!

Aside from veggies, my 8 mile run last night was also something to be excited about. It's the longest distance so far for me and I took it slow and easy, enjoying a light drizzle. It was my most relaxing run ever. Today's a rest day and later I'll be biking over to Rea's. I'll be sleeping over at her place so we can have an early Sunday morning run around the lake. Who is this person I've become? Getting excited over fresh produce and arranging sleep overs to fit in a morning run! It is amazing how being healthy can both be a priority and a source of enjoyment at the same time. It is not a chore but a choice.

What fun and healthy things did you do this week? I was glad to have joined Angharad's Optimum Sleep Challenge and slept well this week. Thank you. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Seven Traits

Being a newbie blogger, I was excited when I got my first tag from Kelly. It's called Seven Traits and here are mine:

1(一) I am super family oriented. Just like any other Filipino families, ours is very close. My family is BIG (parents, 2 brothers, 4 sisters, and 4 dogs!) and I always have been a Daddy's Girl. We do everything together and hang out as friends. Living away from them is tough but I manage.

2(二)I love planning, scheduling, and making lists. It could all be in my mind (when running), in a Notepad/Excel file, or in my trusty notebook. It could be a simple grocery list or a general plan for the coming months.

3(三) Patience is not my strong point. I hate waiting. Waiting for people, waiting for a red light to turn green, waiting for results (increase running speed), etc. When meeting people, I make sure to arrive at least 5 minutes before the scheduled meet time because I don't want to make people wait. Being patient is one trait I am working on each day.

4(四) Anything new excites me. If there's a new product or idea, I 'd like to know more about it. If it's interesting enough, I'd read more about it and would even give it a try. Running is still new to me but boy am I glad I tried it!

5(五) I'll have to admit that I'm practical. Buying expensive items without researching or reading a review about it is not something I'd readily do. I like getting value for my money. Having said that, I would gladly pay for really good food or travel.

6(六) Learning is something I'll probably never get tired of. After graduating with a degree in Engineering, I took up a yearlong program in IT. I also studied Japanese. But I feel like I'm not done yet. Graduate school maybe? Must be in the genes as 5 of the 9 people in the family are lawyers, another one in law school, one just finished med school, and the youngest also considering law school. Yikes!

7(七) Being a Libran, I'd like to believe I am balanced. Ha! :P Black or white? Gray. Blue or green? Both. Last night's dinner? Beans on toast plus banana and dark chocolate for dessert. Living a balanced life is a daily goal that I may not achieve everyday but definitely worth giving a shot.

{Balance - it's all we want in life, right?}

The weird figures (which I hope show in your computer) are the number's Kanji. Use them to impress your friends! Haha. I'm passing this to anybody who feels like doing it. I'd be glad to read about your interesting traits.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Running Thoughts

What thoughts go through your mind when running? I started the week right by going on a Monday evening run. It was a great one and I found myself thinking about different things. The miles just fly by when I am lost in thoughts such as:

-Family & Friends. Since I currently live away from home, it's but natural that I miss them pips. Running gives me time to reflect on happy times with them and these thoughts add an extra bounce to my step. When I go back home, I hope to have them as running buddies. :D

-Books. I haven't read a book in looong time that my brain has gotten so rusty. Rea and I talked about reading last Saturday and how I wanted to pick up something interesting. What better material than Michael Pollan, right? So today I'm starting with "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals" and then read "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto" next. Have you read these books?

-Food. Thinking about my post run fuel motivates me to go faster. Ha! Running also allows me to have a mental inventory of my fridge, to have a preview of the next day's meals, and to think of ways I can recreate other bloggers' yummy recipes. :P

-Travel. There are a bunch of places I'd like to visit in the coming weeks. The miles just go by so quickly whenever I'm fantasizing about trips. Planning trips is just so much fun. Look at this gorgeous deer that I saw on my trip to Todaiji in Nara last year:


-Form. Of course, I also think about running related things. I make sure to check on my form: noticing if I feel tightness in my shoulders, focusing on my breathing, and shaking out tension when needed. RunnersWorld says here that efficient endurance running requires just a slight knee lift, a quick leg turnover, and a short stride. I'll pay attention to my stride length in my next run. How's your running form?

-Fellow Walkers/Runners. Whenever I meet other runners, I'd make up stories in my mind about why they run. Each one has a different reason for running and I amuse myself silly with "their stories". Also, I mentally cheer for everyone I meet. Something like: "Run, girl, run!" or "Good job! You can do it!". :D Weird much?

How about you? What fun/weird/happy stuff do you think of to distract yourself from running?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Biking Around and Free Vegetables

Before going out for another bike ride and have some Sunday shopping with friends, I'll leave a quick post. Yesterday, I biked 8 miles to meet with a couple friends just so we could run around the lake. I am so jealous they live so near. Rea and Del also climbed Mt. Fuji with me last year. They are going again this month! While Rea has been regularly running for a year already, Del does not run at all so he just biked along. Rea got busy around April and stopped running to focus on work (like me, they are also IT Engineers). Yesterday was her first run since April and she got really tired 30 minutes into the run so we had to walk the rest of the course. Goes to show how running should be a regular thing if one wants to maintain endurance. She promised we'll run the entire lake perimeter next time so I'm hoping this will be a regular weekend workout. We'll see.

{Lake: Pic From Google}

As if my veggie supply is not enough, I've been getting free veggies from workmates. Some of the people I work with have farms and they sometimes share their harvests with us. I have received the biggest reddest tomatoes, potatoes, and melons in the past. This week, I received another big bag of potatoes. It was just too much I had to share the rest with friends. Hahaha!

{Unfamiliar (for me) Melons}

The melons I received before where not the usual melons that I know of. It was my first time to try these and I didn't know how to cook them. They told me these were pickled. Having no pickling skills at all, I just randomly added them to soups, sliced and ate them just like cucumbers, and added them in sandwiches for the crunch. I'm still alive so I guess that was okay. :P Have you tried pickling? What fruit/veggie have you tried for the first time recently?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Normal Eating

Quick post today. I just read this blog post and came across a great definition (at least for me) of Normal Eating. It is uncomplicated and complete methinks.

"Normal eating is being able to eat when you are hungry and continue eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it - not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to use some moderate constraint on your food selection to get the right food, but not being so restrictive that you miss out on pleasurable foods. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is three meals a day, most of the time, but it can also be choosing to munch along.

{It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow,}

{or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful when they are fresh.}

Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. It is overeating at times; feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. It is also undereating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.

In short, normal eating is flexible and moderate. It varies in response to your emotions, your schedule, your hunger and your proximity to food."

-Ellyn Satter, 1987

I probably looked crazy nodding my head at every sentence. It also sounds forgiving and friendly. What do you think?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cool Knees and Hot Tennis

We obviously don't celebrate 4th of July here but reading how each of you spent the weekend was such a thrill. Every post looked so much fun and I could almost taste the yummy food you all had. Haha!

The past few days, I've been bothered by my slow mile pace compared to those that I see on other blogs. So I pushed myself at one of my runs last week and my knees kind of hurt a bit after. My knees which were promptly iced (thus the first half of the post title) are okay now. It was my body's way of telling me that the knees are not ready for heavy pounding yet. Reading about how injured runners feel so bad about not running for weeks scared me and made me realize that there is no need for me to rush. I'm still a newbie runner (just into my 2nd month) and there is no need to be speedy at this point yet, right? I'd like to run for as long as I can, pain free, and enjoy the entire process.

Another sport that I have tons of fun playing is tennis. I've been playing (non-competitive) since I was 10 and still play whenever I can. It's a sport I love and enjoy so much that I could play for hours and not get tired at all. My goal is to put running in the same level as tennis: an activity I am comfortable with and enjoy doing anytime. So for me to reach that, I'll have to stop worrying about mile pace (at least for now?) and relax.

{This girl does not need to rush. :P}

Speaking of tennis, have you seen the Wimbledon Finals? OMG, it was totally worth it staying up late (match ended 2:45AM Japan Time) to watch Roger Federer win another Grand Slam and break tennis records. It could have gone either way as Andy Roddick was playing so well, too. Thank goodness, it was Roger's day. I was sooo tense and sleepy at the same time; I had to do some stretches/stand/snack on peanuts while restraining myself from making too loud cheers (or I might wake people next door) to get through 4+ hours of intense tennis. Woot woot! :D Roger's skill and composure is undeniably the best but I'd also like to point out how his being injury-free throughout the years being an important factor in his superb tennis career. Sure, he is certainly surrounded by the best trainers, doctors, and advisers to keep him in top shape. I'd like to believe though that he listens to his body really well and treats it the best he can thus maintaining top form without suffering any major injuries, right? :P

What sport do you play? Do you like playing/watching tennis? Any favorite sports stars?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Plan or UnPlan? Both!

Thank you all for your sweet comments on my unplanned 10K! Seriously, you guys inspire me to go out and keep moving when I feel less motivated. Does blogging have that effect on you, too? :P

I love making lists, scheduling my activities for the day, mapping out my runs, and obsessively planning my weekend. Since I do not have control over everything (Hello?!), things do not always go as planned. Sometimes, I'd just shrug it off but there are times when just a slight glitch would drive me crazy. Just like everything in life, I want to achieve a balance - to be able to create a workable plan and accepting (even embracing) the changes that may arise along the way. I think that this also applies to being healthy. For example, I try to run 5 days a week. Last week, I ran 3 days and walked/biked another 3 days instead. The normal me would have beat myself up for not sticking with the sked but surprisingly found myself satisfied. This morning, the decimal in my 2.4 mile run did not bother me a bit. At the start of the week, I would always have an idea what meals I'll be having. Somehow, I was not able to replenish my udon supply and so I had soba instead. Perfect for the summer heat! Breakfasts this week were fun with 'unplanned' oatmeal on a rainy morning and oat cakes with grated kabocha and cinnamon on a lazy Wednesday.

{Tokyo Tower Plan}

While planning is key for me, I know what does not work: Restrictive Planning. Detailed planning is necessary for projects (such as the Tokyo Tower construction, building an airplane, opening a business) and other work related stuff but when it comes to fitness, it is recipe for disaster methinks. Who was I kidding when I rationed the goodies shipped from the Philippines to be consumed in over 6 months?! Listening to my cravings and being gentle to myself was more like it. Having a flexible exercise schedule also makes me less anxious and look forward to what I can accomplish for the day. Of course, I understand that athletes and those with dietary restrictions would have to follow a stricter eating and exercise regimen. Those training for a race will also have to go with a sked to be able to achieve targets.

{Bright Outcome}

This flexible planning thing works for me health-wise. I'm sure it should also apply to life in general but that's an entirely different chunk I'm not capable of processing. :P Are you a planner? Or do you just go with the flow? Unplanned purchases are always more fun and sometimes replacing a recipe ingredient results to The Bomb, right?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I never saw it coming.

It was not in my list of things to do on Tuesday. It just happened. I had initially planned on a 3 miler since it looked like it was going to rain any time soon. At 1.5 miles, it seemed like it would not rain though so I decided to go for 5 miles instead. Maybe it was that I was feeling great that I did not turn back at the 2.5 mile mark but ran ahead some more. It was then and there that I wanted to make this run a complete 10K. I was running at a slow but steady pace though so no burn out and pains for me. :P At the last mile, the rains fell and I enjoyed cooling down a bit. I certainly did not see myself running 10K without music but I did thanks to Karena's suggestion. After my run, I did a lot of stretches. Even if I was not feeling hungry, I had a little bread, tofu, and banana for my post run eats. All the tips and suggestions you shared are very much appreciated and I don't think I could have done it without your help!

{Ready To Run}

I am the type of person who knows what I am capable of when I set my mind on doing it but I really did not see myself running. I know I am just a beginner with a lot more miles to run (and things to learn) but my only wish is that this running thing will become a regular part of my life.

Today is a well deserved rest day. I have already replenished my bananas, kabocha, and veggie supply for the week. Then I'll take a bike ride to the post office later in the afternoon. I have always liked doing errands, how about you? I get to accomplish a task while being on the move. Have a great day! :D