crisis communications

Thursday, April 21, 2011

If you work in PR, you know Those Days. When the phone calls and the e-mails keep coming and you fill up sheet after sheet of yellow lined paper taking notes on what everyone needs. When there are questions, so many questions, and you really want to help, but you honestly don't know the all of the answers. When you are afraid to show too much emotion and just as afraid not to show enough. When all you think about is: Please, don't let me say the wrong thing.

And then you go home and put on your pajamas and watch videos of cats gnawing on corn. Because sometimes, this is the only thing that makes perfect sense.

dinner tonight

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Veggie tacos from the Taqueria Santa Cruz.

trail season ends

Sunday, April 17, 2011

So I accomplished my Annadel goals. I am not in a hospital bed right now, and I traded my XL race shirt for the correct size. Winning!

Also a plus: I finished in 2:45:42, according to my Garmin. (According to the clock, it was 2:46 and change -- and there was no chip timing.) I was aiming for sub-3, so I'm pretty happy with this. Yes, it's not a super-fast performance, but considering how technical these trails were and how the first half of the race was very nearly a continuous climb with a few breaks here and there, I'm thrilled.

The bad part: I'm pretty thrashed. Since the first eight miles involved climbing, the rest of the race was a descent -- a rocky, gravelly one at that. My runner's knee started acting up big-time -- with a full-blown flare-up just before the finish. But I made it. (A huge thank you to Lisa for running with me throughout the entire race -- we took turns leading and pacing each other. Gratitude also for all Turtles who volunteered -- so awesome to see friendly faces on the course!)

And so marks the end of trail season.

The training group celebrated tonight with a party. We filled our plates.

And our glasses too.

I marinated some portobello mushrooms in olive oil, sesame oil, shoyu, umeboshi plum vinegar, garlic, green onions and Urfa Biber to put on the grill.

They were such a hit, that I had to fight for this little slice!

Anyway, I will probably let the trail shoes be for awhile. It's time for a much-needed break.

happy trails

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Or so I hope.

My primary goal for Annadel tomorrow is simple yet extremely important: Do not get airlifted out of the park. That's right. I honestly don't care how long it takes me to run the damn course as long as no one has to call in the emergency helicopter.

And my secondary goal: Exchange race shirts. Because somehow, even though I registered for this race months ago and asked for a size S shirt, I ended up with XL. Seriously, how did that happen? I can understand maybe going to a medium if the smalls ran out, but XL? Fail!

And since we are talking about clothing, today while I was assembling my race outfit, I came across some of the tops I used to wear when I first started running.

I bought this shirt because it was on sale. I don't really understand the design -- is the extra fabric supposed to make you more aerodynamic? Or maybe there is a sailboat effect if the wind hits you at the right angle?

And then there's this shirt, which I loved because of the pocket. (These were the pre-SPIbelt days.) Unfortunately, now I prefer to run in racerbacks. (Also, this shirt is a little too short. Hopefully that's because it shrank, and not because I've gotten fatter.)

Anyway, for what it's worth, I will admit that even though I did lay out my clothes for tomorrow, pack my drop-bag and am already in my pajamas, I spent this afternoon wine-tasting. I hope this won't become a bad habit. (For the record: I spat. And drank a lot of water in between.)

I was pretty good about the diet, though: Vegetarian chili and potato salad from the Jimtown Store.

(By the way, this place was recently on that Guy Fieri show, so it was a complete madhouse. Lots of tour buses. And in case you're curious, apparently the current trend in wine country casual is extremely short dresses with knee-high boots -- like it's summer on top and winter on the bottom. Weird.)


Friday, April 15, 2011

I continue to cook from the Alicia Silverstone book. Tonight's recipe: Savory pan-fried mochi topped with grated daikon and wrapped in toasted nori.

Aside from the nasty burn I received while frying the mochi and the fact that I cut the nori pieces a little too small, this dish turned out really well. I loved the elegant presentation (I'm such a sucker for looks), and the flavors were an interesting combo -- the chewy-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside mochi had a tiny touch of sweetness, the seaweed added saltiness and the daikon brought an earthy slightly bitter note.

I ate two pieces and had to force myself not to eat more.

I'm pretty much a sucker

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I really didn't want to sign up for Annadel, but three of my friends registered and then talked me into it.

And now two of those three friends have backed out and won't be running.



I ate this yesterday, even though cheesecake upsets my stomach.

But a friend wanted to order it for dessert and didn't want to eat it alone. So guess what? I took one for the team.


Bloody Mary in a to-go cup.

Not my idea. But in this particular instance, glad I got talked into it!

soy milk ramen

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I came home tonight to the most wonderful scent: Todd was eating his leftovers from Shoki.

If only I had leftovers too. But I inhaled my entire bowl, broth and all, when we ate there Saturday after Derrick's race. (If you're going to run 50 miles, there had better be a fantastic reward at the end. And Shoki is nothing but fantastic.)

We started with the fresh tofu appetizer. (Is it weird that any time anything comes topped with bonito flakes, I automatically think of my cats?)

Then I had the soy milk ramen with a soft-boiled egg.

I know it sounds like a bizarre combination, but let me just tell you: The soy milk broth is absolutely freaking amazing. It's really subtle and has a different kind of texture -- a sort of light creaminess that transforms the bowl into Comfort Food Nirvana. Added bonus: The servers give you a side of sesame oil and suggest you eat half of the bowl, then add the oil. I did this, and it was an all-new experience -- like I had two bowls of fantastic ramen instead of just one.

Dear Shoki: Please move to Chickenland. Please.

american river 50

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Yesterday was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that a runner never forgets: I paced Derrick through the last nine miles of the American River 50, his first 50-miler.

It was my job to get him up that 1,000-foot climb, and since this was the first time he'd ever run this distance, we had no idea what kind of shape he'd be in at that point. (I packed toilet paper in my SPIbelt just in case.)

I also pinned a picture of ramen to the back of my shirt. Because nothing is more motivating than a hot post-race bowl.

I met Derrick at the Rattlesnake Bar aid station (about the 41-mile point). He got there around 1:50 p.m.

He looked good (no limping or hobbling), he was coherent and there was no explosive poo (unlike another runner -- someone definitely had issues in the aid station bathroom) or projectile vomit (thank god). I snapped this photo of him with his fiancee, Brooke ...

... then we filled up his water bottle, took his layers, thanked Brian (his first pacer), said hi to Layla, who snapped this photo ...

... and then he and I were off.

He said he was tired and that his stomach was bothering him, so I tried my best to take his mind off of things. I talked on and on, asking him about his recent trip to Japan, telling him about the trip Todd and I will be taking to Jordan very soon, describing my Ken Ken Ramen experience, sharing the story about the time Neveia and I saw turtles mating on a trail run. I felt like I was talking so much that the other runners probably thought I was either really crazy or completely annoying.

We held a pretty steady pace -- averaging about 12- to 14-minute miles -- and followed two other runners and another pacer. We walked up the hills so everyone could save their legs for Last Gasp and would start running again when we got to the top. The trail was gorgeous: We had the American River rumbling on our right, meadows dotted with blue wildflowers and velvety blue-black butterflies (never seen anything so pretty), small creeks to splash through (there were a few mud puddles too), and amazing views of the valley as we climbed.

And the people were unbelievable. All of the runners were incredibly supportive of each other. (And steely-tough -- talk about strength and determination and muscle!) And the volunteers went above and beyond. These aid stations were pimped out! It was like they had full buffets! Crackers, pretzels, gummy bears, boiled potatoes, PB&J sandwiches, fruit, gels, water, sports drink, even chicken soup! (Derrick said one of the stations also had ice cream!)

The best station was at Last Gap: Derrick and I were alternating between power-walking and running up that hill, when suddenly a bearded, half-naked man in very small white shorts (OK, I'll admit it: he was hot) came sprinting toward us and asked if he could refill our bottles. Then he took Derrick's water bottle and sprinted away. When we got to the aid station, we discovered it was manned entirely by shirtless men in short-shorts who were sprinting back and forth to the runners with water. And they were blasting metal -- the kind that sounds like people are barking. It was the most surreal thing ever.

And then we continued up the hill, now on roads. Derrick was really tired at this point, and he was drinking a lot of water -- I had to share some of mine with him because he started to run out. I also gave him some of my Honey Stinger chews (they taste just like candy), and they seemed to work really well for him. So I kept feeding him and telling him to imagine that a giant ramen noodle was wrapped around us and it was pulling us up the hill toward an enormous melt-in-your-mouth chashu.

There were signs chalked on the road encouraging us to run. When we got to the 2-miles-left mark, we decided to run the rest of the way in. The climb was pretty brutal -- nearly everyone around us was walking. And Derrick kept asking me what time it was and telling me I had to make sure he finished by 4 p.m. (Talk about pressure!) We kept going, and it got to the point where I started to ask him where the hell the finish line was and how much farther we had and if it was ever going to flatten out.

We finally turned off of the road and onto a gravel path that seemed to flatten out, only to morph into a short but very steep hill that almost did me in. (What a wimpy pacer I am!) Derrick actually had to encourage me! After that, it was flat to the finish, and I was able to pick it up and run Derrick in while cheering for him. It was an absolutely amazing experience.

He finished so strong and came in just under 10 hours -- such a great time for his first 50-miler!

And there were so many people at the finish line cheering for him. Go Team Derrick! (And thank you to Todd for being our photographer!)

It was a fantastic day, and I am so proud of my friend -- what an enormous accomplishment. (And he's now qualified to enter the Western States 100 lottery -- again, talk about an amazing performance for a first-time 50-miler!) I told Derrick multiple times yesterday and I'll say it here again: It was an absolute honor to run with him.

I ken ken have ramen

Thursday, April 07, 2011

I had to pour at a wine event in San Francisco tonight.

So Todd came with me, and we enjoyed the tasting together. I worked the table, and he did the scouting.

Whenever he found something interesting to taste, he brought a sip back for me. This way, I got to try some sake and some sparkling while still doing my job.

When my shift was over, we headed to The Corner for the Ken Ken Ramen pop-up. (Seriously: I love ramen. I love pop-ups. I love San Francisco. I was pretty much in heaven.)

We started with the seaweed salad, which was absolutely delicious. Fried lotus root? Awesome!

Then our ramen arrived. We both ordered bowls of the shoyu ramen.

The portion size was a little bit smaller in comparison to other bowls I've had, but the ramen was good -- quite possibly my favorite San Francisco ramen so far. The broth was much lighter in texture, but it still had a very strong flavor. I absolutely loved the bamboo shoot (Ken Ken makes its own -- no pre-made strips), and the egg was awesome. I mean, just look at it. Awesome. (Then again, I am one of those people who prefers a runnier egg.)

The pork was OK. It wasn't bad, and the texture was nice -- not altogether melty, but close -- but the flavor was almost too much. I felt like I was tasting more of what the pork had been cooked in than the actual pork itself, if that makes any sense at all.

We finished the meal with some gyoza. (This was supposed to have arrived at the table earlier, but I guess the kitchen was experiencing a gyoza rush, so it got delayed a little.)

The gyoza was good, but I think Jinya's gyoza may have ruined me for life -- the bar is set really high now!

Overall, a fantastic night. And I definitely want to go back to Ken Ken again. There are vegan, miso and shio ramens that I have yet to try!

the downside of organic

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

There was a slug in my salad tonight.

I keep thinking about it. And then I actually physically get the chills.

It was writhing on my plate.

But at least it wasn't a banana slug.

scattered thoughts

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

You know those moments when you are trailing so far behind in your track workout that it almost looks like you are leading the pack?

That was me this morning. My body is still recovering from both yoga and the Loop de Loop. I can't wait to go to bed.


I recently finished reading this book. (Thank you, Chickenland Library!)

The information wasn't new to me -- I've seen the statistics on industrial farming and its impact on health before -- but it's always good to be reminded. Other than the fact that I couldn't stop hearing Cher from Clueless in my head while I was reading ("Meat is, like, so nasty!") and that things at times got a little too hippie-save-the-world for me, I liked the book.

What Alicia calls her "Superhero" recipes -- vegan macrobiotic dishes -- drew my attention, largely because they incorporate a lot of Japanese ingredients that I had either never heard of or had no idea how to use: Umeboshi vinegar, kuzu, daikon, burdock root, mochi (and I'm not talking about the ice cream), kukicha tea, kabocha squash and all kinds of sea vegetables (nori, arame, hijiki, etc.).

I made the Gingered Green Beans with Hijiki last night -- my first time ever cooking with seaweed!

The verdict? Love. The flavors really blend well together, and the recipe itself is fairly easy and straightforward (though you have to allow yourself some time to soak the hijiki). In fact, this dish was so good that I am kind of obsessed with hijiki now and can't wait to see what else I can do with it.


I am torn between the first-ever Ragnar Napa Valley and the first-ever Moo-Cow Half Marathon. Both are the same weekend.

I had planned to rally the troops and organize a team for Ragnar -- it's pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But I've been holding off on registering because (1) I felt nervous about the race fee ($1,300 for a 12-person team -- I'd be footing the bill and people would pay me back as they signed on -- and I haven't paid my taxes yet, so I'm kind of short on cash at the moment), (2) the logistics of the race are daunting as hell (the Ragnar "bible" of race info is literally 22 pages long) and (3) I can't decide on a team name (this seems silly, but seriously, if it were up to me, the team would be called Poo Strong or something similar -- and then nobody would want to be on my team).

And then I found out about Moo-Cow. It's close to home (I can walk to the starting line!). The medal is a cowbell. There's a 5K option (which means my dad can come up here and we can run together again). And the course is hilly and challenging and goes through some really beautiful countryside.

Decisions, decisions.

hippie pizza

Monday, April 04, 2011

... looks like this. And instead of being decadently debaucherous, like the kind I had at Rosso on Saturday, it's vegan, gluten-free and loaded with good-for-you veggies like kale and mushrooms. (The recipe calls for maitakes, but I substituted creminis, and they worked just fine.)

I made this polenta pizza not too long ago and really enjoyed it. It honestly didn't taste anything like "normal" pizza, but I liked how hearty it was -- filling, yet without the heavy feeling of a regular pie. The only bummer: The cook time. After you cook the polenta, then let it cool in the refrigerator, then take it out, then bake it for 40 minutes, then top it, and then bake it again, you've spent hours in the kitchen.

But if you have the time (and love kale anywhere near as much as I do), I highly recommend this recipe! You can find it here.

loop de loopy

Sunday, April 03, 2011

I kind of feel like I've been steam-rolled.

The Loop de Loop was brutal. Tag pick-up was chaotic. There weren't enough parking spaces or port-a-potties. (In fact, there was only one port-a-potty, and you could smell it from a mile away.) And a lot of people -- both race organizers and runners -- seemed confused. But Dana and I, a.k.a. Team Hangover (she was out having cocktails last night too), made it to the start.

Dana ran the first leg (our age handicapped start was 8:12 a.m.), so I had some time to relax.

Yes, folks, I am Asian. Socks and flip-flops? Winning!

Dana finished her leg just before 9:30. We high-fived, and then I was off. And my loop -- which was the opposite direction of the course Dana had just run -- began with a long, steady climb.

Of all the completely and terribly wrong things I did during yesterday's blatant lack of pre-race preparation, it became instantly clear on that very first hill that I should not have gone to power yoga. My hamstrings -- which had been dully achey while I was standing around waiting to start -- began to scream bloody murder. I felt like I had no leg strength whatsoever. Even the smallest incline hurt, and the hills just kept on coming.

Thankfully my friend Cara was right behind me. She had just returned from a trip to Vegas and wasn't feeling 100 percent either. (In fact, she actually fell at one point -- it was pretty scary. I was running ahead and heard her kick a rock, and then she was down.) We ended up sticking together throughout the race, encouraging each other and, yes, taking the occasional walk break.

It was the longest seven miles I've ever run, and I couldn't have done it without her.

I ended up finishing my leg in 1:27:48 -- a 12:47-minute pace (according to my Garmin -- official times haven't been posted yet). Not stellar, but you get what you deserve, and I definitely earned that crappy time.

At least my shoes looked bad-ass even though nothing else about me was.

And at least now I've run my first trail race and have a better idea of what the Annadel Half will be like when I tackle that beast in two weeks. (In fact, I think today's race covered some of the same trails.) And I know that race prep -- and above and beyond, pre-race rest -- is a must. No more blasting my legs before they even get to the starting line!

Anyway, as always, even the most pathetic of runs is followed by a recovery meal. We went to East West, and I had huevos rancheros.

to hell with it

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Took this photo on my walk to the yoga studio this morning. That's right -- today marked my first downward dog since December or January. It felt good to be back in class, but I'm already sore. And I can only imagine how my muscles are going to feel tomorrow.

Which will be extra-awesome since I'm racing in the morning -- doing the second leg of the Loop de Loop.

Apparently, I've decided to throw all pre-race prep out the window. In addition to starting a new exercise regime the day before a race, I also:

  • Spent the entire afternoon wine-tasting: First, Sonoma Coast and Russian River Pinots at KB pick-up day. Then a stop at Graton Ridge Cellars. (Did you know they make a dessert wine out of apples? It tastes just like an apple-tini.) Then dinner at Rosso, where I had a glass of Sancerre, followed by a glass of Barbera.
  • Ate a ridiculous amount of gluten: Quiche and bread at Water Street Bistro. Flatbread and pizza at Rosso.
  • Consumed even more dairy: Butter pecan ice cream at Screamin' Mimi's (out of guilt, I did order this on a gluten-free cone, which actually tasted just like a normal cone). Burrata at Rosso. (Seriously, if I don't crap my pants tomorrow morning, it will be a miracle.)
  • Completely failed to pick up my race packet ahead of time. Let's hope there isn't a giant mob at the starting line tomorrow.
At this point, I'm debating staying up all night so I can throw zero sleep into the mix too.

post-race reward

Friday, April 01, 2011

My apologies for not mentioning this earlier: I had ramen in L.A. last weekend.

After the adventure that was the the Great Race, we went to Studio City to check out Ramen Jinya.

They're known for their tonkotsu ramen, which has a thick broth made from boiling pork bones and fat over high heat for hours (this is then combined with miso or dashi, depending on the dish), and also typically uses thin noodles. Jinya offers four types of tonkotsu ramen, and each is named and modeled after the tonkotsu from four regions of Japan: Hakata, Yokohama, Kyoto and Sapporo.

In addition, Jinya has fried chicken ramen, tomato ramen, mushroom ramen (on the special menu that day) and a completely vegetarian ramen made with veggie broth. And they serve sushi, too.

We started our meal with some gyoza.

This was hands-down the best gyoza I've ever had in my life. It was remarkably light -- not at all what you'd expect from fried food. The outside was crisp, and the inside was fluffy. I could've eaten four more plates -- so delicious!

And then the main event arrived. All four of us ordered the Hakata ramen -- the menu said they only make 20 bowls each day, so we absolutely couldn't resist.

I also added corn and egg to my bowl. (Look at that egg! Isn't it gorgeous?)

The verdict? Fantastic. The broth was creamy and comforting without feeling fatty, and the chashu was like meat butter -- it just melted away. (If you're going to eat meat and gluten, it might as well be awesome, right?)

We were tempted to come back later that night to try more of the menu (another plus about Jinya: they're open until midnight), but then Shaya turned us on to Darya and gave us a primer in Persian food. (New to me: Raw onion as a condiment, brought out alongside a basket of flatbread. And did you know sumac can be used as a seasoning? All this time I thought it just made you itchy!)

I ordered the bademjan. (Also new to me: Saying the word "bademjan" out loud. Shaya said I sounded cute. I bet this meant I sounded like a toddler.)

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