10K Follow-Up AND My Next Race!

November 15, 2011

It’s Monday evening as I write this and my legs are still sore from Sunday’s 10K race. I love feeling sore – it means I did something right – and I’m still on a high from the race, so I don’t mind being reminded of it with literally every step.

The soreness didn’t stop me from hitting the gym – I’m not exactly sure what laurels are (some sort of tree/leaf?) but I’ll be damned if I’m going to rest on them. There was 5 minutes of warming-up on the treadmill, then a half-hour of weightlifting (emphasis on upper body, because I didn’t want my legs to collapse under me). I would have gone another 10 minutes on a few other machines, but I bonked my head nice and hard on a pull-down bar, cursed a little, got annoyed, and decided to move on. So I finished with 17  strong, but not excruciating minutes on a stationary bike while I flipped through an issue of Time magazine that had a great article on the new Muppets Movie, which I can’t wait to see.

There’s some follow-up information on the 10K that I’m excited to share. We all ran with microchips attached to our shoes, and today, the data from those chips were uploaded to the internet, so I have my official race results. And it’s one of the reasons I’m still on this high.  So, without further ado:

David’s Official Results From the weSPARK 3rd Annual 10K Run & 5K Run/Walk, 11/13/11:

  • Total Time: 59:06.5
  • First 5K: 28.29
  • Second 5K: 30:36
  • Pace (my average time for each mile): 9:32
  • Place: 129th out of 432 runners.
  • Place in my Age Group (Men 30-34): 18th out of 28 runners.
  • Number of other runners with the last name Garcia in the 5K and 10K races, all of whom are unrelated to me: 8.

Two thoughts:

  1. My pace only slowed by about two minutes between the first lap and the second, which I’m very proud of. The second lap seemed, at the time, to go much slower for me, because I was tired and the runners were more spread out, but I kept up my pace pretty well!
  2. 129th out of 432 runners? HOLY CRAP, I finished in the top third!


I was also hoping to share more pictures on today’s post. The race organizers peppered the course with photographers who were snapping away with their high-powered zoom lenses like paparazzi, and the pictures were supposed to be uploaded today, but it hasn’t happened yet. I don’t know if they got any good ones of me (thankfully there were no photographers around during my ugly cry at kilometer 6), but my fingers are crossed for a decent action shot or two. Stay tuned.

One of the questions that’s been tossed my way a ton of times in person, in blog comments, in tweets and in Facebook posts has been: “What are you going to do next? You should do a half-marathon!” or “You should do a marathon!” My answer has been some variation on “I don’t know yet. I’ve been busy focusing on this 10K.” Time to come clean – that’s a lie. 

I do know what race I’m doing next, and it’s coming up quickly. I’m going to my sister Sarah’s place in Colorado next week for Thanksgiving, as I’ve done for the past 7 or 8 years, and last week, Sarah signed me, herself, and our other sister Laura up for a race: the Louisville, Colorado Turkey Trot 5K.

It’s the morning of Thanksgiving Day, and it’s pretty close to Sarah’s house. I don’t know the route (yet), but it shouldn’t be nearly as hilly as the Universal Studios route, as, generally speaking, that part of the world is pretty flat. I’m looking forward to running it with family, and having a good workout on Thanksgiving is a great idea. I hope all of you find a way to move before tucking into the turkey!

As for longer races, whether they’re half-marathons or full marathons… well, I don’t know what my next running goal will be. Even with a successful 10K under my belt, the thought of running more than twice that distance seems terribly daunting, and that’s just a half-marathon! A race like that would require some very dedicated training, and right now, I can’t commit to running more than once or twice a week (even that can seem excessive sometimes), because variety in exercise plays a huge role is helping me not get bored or lazy.

I’m not going to flat-out say I’ll never run a longer race, but at the moment, I’m not actively searching for my next challenge. I’ll keep my eye on upcoming races, and I’ll keep an open mind, and we’ll see what happens.

Keep it up, David!

RECAP: My First 10K!

November 14, 2011

On November 13, 2011, I ran weSPARK’s 3rd Annual 10K Run & 5K Run/Walk. Here’s what went down.

My Sunday got off to a bad start. When my alarm rang at 5:30am, I swung my arm to my nightstand, in a blind attempt to shut it off, and knocked over my lamp, which fell and shattered. I couldn’t care less about the lamp, which was a $10 Ikea number that I’d had for 10 years and didn’t match the rest of my room; I was happy to have a reason to get rid of it. But I wondered if a carpet full of glass was a sign of things to come. I had set my alarm for that ungodly hour so I could run in my first 10K race, and if things were going to continue to break today, then what would be next? My spirit? A bone?

I successfully got the lamp out of my mind by the time I pulled into Universal Studios. There was an energy in the air from the second I got out of the car that got my heart beating a little faster. I followed the crowd away from the theme park and Citywalk shopping center entrances, and around to the backlots. I met up with my friends Amy and Tiffany, who were also running the 10K. We headed up to the start, did some stretching and took some photos:

That’s Amy on the left and Tiffany on the right. Check out all the racers, getting ready to run:

One of the telltale signs that I’m nervous is a tightening in my core, which makes me feel like I have to go to the bathroom despite having an empty bladder, and about 10 minutes before the race began, I started feeling that tightening. I couldn’t pinpoint what I was nervous about. I was excited to be there, confident in my abilities, and been given considerable thought and effort into preparing and training for this. I suppose I just nervous for the unexpected: I had never run with more than a couple people before, and here I was, in a crowd of hundreds. I focused on my goal, which was to finish, without stopping.

The actual start of the race was wonderfully unceremonial. We were all milling around, and, rather abruptly, Wayne Brady (host of Let’s Make a Deal) appeared with a foghorn and, 3 seconds later, we were off. Amy snapped a picture of Wayne:

As I started running, the first thing I noticed, and immediately loved, was being in the middle of a thunderous symphony of shoes hitting pavement, the soft thuds echoing all around me. Minutes later, I was reminded of why I picked this race to begin with: the course was So. Freakin’. Cool. We ran through all sorts of movie sets and fake towns and villages – new surprises literally around every corner. I have some pictures of what we ran past, and if you’re curious about why they’re all mysteriously devoid of runners, it’s because I took them earlier in the week, when I was scoping the course out with my friend Chris.

The first kilometer was down a big hill, and then we ran around Jaws Lake, home to the mechanical shark that leaps out at unsuspecting tourists on the tram. The soundtrack to the attraction was on, so there were was ominous music, clanging buoys, and the crackle of a Deputy saying, over walkie-talkie, that there’s no sign of the shark:

We ran through Courthouse Square, the small town set that was Hill Valley in the Back to the Future movies…

…and through the Amblin Entertainment complex, where the Crosswalk sign features E.T. (photo taken by Amy)…

Then after a straightaway along the Los Angeles River, we circled around through Spartacus Square (which looks like an ancient Roman plaza, and had an actor dressed as Spartacus cheering us on), up along a vaguely eastern European cobblestone street (where a guy dressed as Frankenstein urged us on; I gave him a high-five), and up to Wisteria Lane, home to Desperate Housewives (sorry, primetime soap fans, that I didn’t get a picture).

From there, we started up the big hill, detouring to pass by the sets from How the Grinch Stole Christmas (which were about to get their Christmas decorations)…

…the Bates motel from Psycho, with the house looking over it (and an actor playing Norman Bates, loading corpses into the trunk of a car)…

…and, finally, the plane crash wreckage from War of the Worlds:

From there, it wasn’t long until we were back where we started, which marked 5K – halfway done! Time to do it all over again!

Time for a confession: It was around the 6K mark that I started crying. The crowd had thinned out significantly: I’m not sure when I got separated from Amy and Tiffany, but they were somewhere behind me, all the 5K runners were finished, and the 10K runners were more spaced out. I found myself heading down Mexican street, and for a little while, I was alone. Couldn’t see anyone ahead of me, couldn’t hear anyone behind me. The thunderous symphony of feet was gone – just the sound of my own two sneakers hitting the ground, over and over again.

It was there that it hit me: I’M RUNNING TEN KILOMETERS, AND I’M MORE THAN HALFWAY DONE, AND I WILL NOT STOP! I thought about how this was not a lifelong dream. In fact, it was the opposite – up until very recently, running a 10k was, simply put, an impossibility. Never would I have had the courage, confidence, or the physical ability to even consider attempting such an event. What my weight loss has done for me is bust down the walls of what’s possible in my life, shattered the ceiling of what I can achieve, and allowed me to dream in ways never before fathomable. As I realized that, on Mexican street, the waterworks began. My eyes swelled up, and tears streamed down my cheeks. My already-heavy breathing transformed into wheezing sobs. My shoulders convulsed.

I embraced the epiphany for about 50 feet, then pulled myself together. I knew that around the next corner was a water station, and I didn’t want the volunteers to think I was injured. Also, as it turns out, it’s hard to run and cry. I don’t recommend it.

The last kilometer or so was all uphill, and I was ready for it. I settled into my pace, kept up my breathing, and I ran. My thighs ached. I was exhausted. And there was no way in hell that I was gonna stop. I started noticing that I was passing runners that I would have guessed, based on sight alone, were much more experienced and in shape that I was. There were runners that passed me long ago that were now walking, and secretly relished every time I passed one of them. When I got to the top of the hill, there was a flat final 100 yards before the finish line. I didn’t think I had anything left in me, but I found something, somewhere, and with 50 yards left, I broke out into a sprint. I passed a woman who cheered me on: “Finish strong!” I turned the final corner, saw the finish line approach, and noticed a clock ticking off the seconds. It hit 59:15 as I crossed the line.


I hadn’t thought at all about any time-related goals, but HOLY SHIT! I finished this 10K in UNDER AN HOUR! Here I am with my finisher’s medal…

…and the after photo with Tiffany and Amy, who finished a little while after me:

About a minute after I finished, I saw my friend Austin cross the finish line, which was a pleasant surprise, since I didn’t know he would be there. Another friend, Carrie, soon emerged from the crowd, and it was fun to catch up with them. My friend Jen was also there, walking the 5K, and seeing supportive, familiar faces made the day even better.

It was around 9:30 when I headed for home. My legs were still burning, and my clothes were still damp from my sweat, but those minor inconveniences didn’t register, because I wouldn’t let them. There was nothing that would detract from the indescribable, incalculable, unmistakable pride that this morning brought.

I did it. I completed my first race. I didn’t complain. I didn’t whine. I didn’t stop. And my bedroom lamp was the only thing that broke all day long.

Does anyone have a megaphone? Because all I’ve wanted to do, for the past 12 hours, is climb up on roofs and mountaintops and scream, with everything I’ve got…

Simple Kale Saute

November 12, 2011

Can I start with a few quickies? Thanks!

1) Thank You! Lots of gratitude to all the generous folks who opened their wallets and purses and contributed to my 10k fundraising. My friend Felise’s donation brought me to the magic number – $500 – but you can still give, so click here! All the money goes to weSPARK, which supports cancer patients and their families in the Los Angeles area.

2) Training is Complete. I’m writing this on Friday evening, and it’s official: my training for the aforementioned 10K is now complete! The race is Sunday morning, and Saturday will be a rest day. Today, I hit the gym, did 5 minutes of cardio warm-up, then 30 minutes of weights, and then I hit the streets again (mountain lions and bears be damned) for my final hill-training run. I stuck to the same hilly part of Burbank that I ran in the other day, but this time, I drove up and parked at the top of the hill, so my run would better replicate the route on Sunday, which involves running down a big hill first, and then running up it. In total, I went 2.1 miles in 23 minutes, and the uphill portion was .9 miles – whew! (Yep, I updated my running chart!) The next time I exercise, it will be at the race. Can’t wait! Oh, and I’ll probably be too beat to post on Sunday, so look for the race recap on Monday!

Onto the main event!

In the spring I went on a little kale kick. Kale was relatively new to me, and I fell in love with kale chips (which I talked about in this post and this post), and also created a pretty tasty kale and asparagus salad, too.

I haven’t eaten much kale since that kick wound down, but I picked some up recently, and thought I’d share my simple kale saute recipe. It’s based on Bobby Flay’s recipe, but with a modification or two.

Get a big skillet, spray it with some nonstick spray, put it on medium heat, and toss in half of a red onion, chopped, and 2 minced garlic cloves:

Let them cook for a few minutes, until the onion starts to get soft. Meanwhile, I hope your kale is already prepped! If you have a bunch of kale, clean it and dry it, and cut out the major ribs and stems. Or, save yourself the trouble, and buy a bag of pre-washed, pre-chopped kale, like I did:

This brand includes a little bit of shredded cabbage and carrot, but I don’t mind. I threw in 1/2 the bag – about 4 ounces – and then added about 1/2 cup of water:

I gave it a stir, so all the kale got a little wet, and then covered it. Since I wasn’t thinking and used a skillet that I don’t have a lid for, I used a baking sheet. Martha Stewart would be appalled, so don’t tell her. Pretty please.

The lid keeps the moisture in, so the kale will both saute and steam – which reduces your cooking time! In about five minutes, the kale will be done. Just like spinach, kale wilts down to barely anything, but what’s left is delicious. Transfer it to a bowl, and hit it with a few tablespoons of vinegar (I used balsamic). The finished product:

Healthy, easy, delicious. It’s a triple threat!

Keep it up, David!

Wildlife! Plus: A New Variety of Apple?

November 11, 2011

Yesterday, I narrowly avoided being attacked by both a mountain lion and a bear.

OK, OK, I may be, um… stretching the truth a little bit, but lately, the Burbank hills are alive. And not just with the sound of music.

Yesterday’s post went into detail about my run through the foothills of Burbank, which was my old stomping ground before I moved to North Hollywood almost five years ago. It was a fantastic run. And, it turns out, I might not have been alone as I jogged those hillside streets. I heard on the radio a few hours after my run that 24 hours before I pounded the pavement, a mountain lion (!) was seen, in broad daylight, gallivanting across someone’s lawn mere blocks from where I ran. Mountain lions aren’t rare in southern California, but seeing one sauntering about in the middle of the afternoon is, since they’re nocturnal and tend to keep their distance from humans. Here’s an article about the lion’s midday stroll, which includes tips on how to avoid being a mountain lion’s lunch, like this one: “Do not hike, bike, or jog alone.” Gulp! Guilty as charged, Officer!

I’m not going to let one dumb mountain lion prevent me from training for my 10k on Sunday. If I stop running, than the mountain lion wins. Plus, I’ve already conquered mountain lions – check out this post that equates my weight loss to a mountain lion (and other random objects).

The mountain lion wasn’t the only massive mammal meandering for a meal yesterday. Roughly 12 hours after I completed my run, a 500-pound black bear was seen moseying through a neighborhood in neighboring Glendale. Read the article here, which includes a photo of the beast traipsing through someone’s garden!

What if I had run into both the black bear and the mountain lion, and they fought over which one got to kill and eat me? SyFy Channel, I think I just came up with your next original movie project! “Giant Bear Vs. Mega-Mountain Lion”! You’re welcome.

I’ve seen a few wild animals in my day. When I lived in Burbank, I saw, on two different occasions, coyotes in my neighborhood. The first time I saw one, I thought it was a stray dog, and spent 15 minutes following it, trying to coax it towards me, and got within 10 feet of it before realizing it probably wasn’t someone’s lost Fido. A year later, I saw a coyote on the other side of the street, and it knew pedestrian etiquette! It used the sidewalks, looked both ways at an intersection, and stayed in the crosswalk when it crossed. Smart coyote!

I’ve also come across a bear in the wild. Four years ago, my entire family took an Alaskan cruise, and at one of the ports, my siblings and I all went hiking around a glacier. While we were on the hike, we saw a baby bear up in a tree. It was probably 20-25 yards away, and our guide advised us to stay quiet, as the mama bear was probably nearby. I did snap this picture, although the bear’s head is obscured by some leaves:


Another quick memory: I remember being really nervous in the days leading up to the hike, worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete it. I was so much heavier back then, and not very active, and the brochure had described the hike as being “intermediate” in difficulty, and around 2 hours long. I had these thoughts that I’d be panting and wheezing, and holding up the group, but I made it, and it was really fun. Here’s what I looked like on that hike – I was in a head-shaving phase:

The paved sidewalk was only around the visitors’ center – the hike itself was on dirt trails that wound up the mountainside, with the occasional hop over a fallen tree.


Yesterday’s activities included a trip to the store, which resulted in me buying the following produce:

What do we have? From left to right: A pineapple, bananas, a red onion, apples, baby carrots, red peppers, grapes, cucumbers, pears, and celery.

I’m relatively knowledgeable about apples. I’m familiar with most of the varieties you see at stores, and know which ones I like most (honeycrisp and pink lady, I’m looking at you). But these apples are a variety I’ve never heard of before: they’re Pippin apples!

Before now, the only association I had with the word Pippin was that it’s the name of a fun musical from the ’70s that I saw in college. Apparently, it’s a type of apple, too! More Pippin info to come!

I also bought something else I’ve never seen before:

Pickled green tomatoes! I may have tried fried green tomatoes once at a restaurant, but I’ve never seen them, fresh or jarred, in a store before. Guess how many calories are in a serving of these pickled green tomatoes? Three. That’s got to be a typo, don’t you think? Maybe they meant 30? Oh, and if there’s any Southerners out there who have suggestions on how to eat these guys, speak up in the comments section! I haven’t cracked open the jar yet, and I’ll wait and see what ideas you guys send my way. Do I enjoy them straight out of the jar, like pickles? Put them in a sandwich? Cook with them?

Lastly, my orange-peeling challenge continues. To recap, I’m trying to remove the entire peel of an orange in one piece (a skill my father excels at), and keep that peel as narrow as possible, and leave as little pith on the orange as possible, too. Here’s my most recent attempt:

Woo-hoo, that peel is in 1 piece! My most successful peel-job so far! I’m still gonna work on making the peel narrower and longer – I think I may have to sharpen my knife so there’s less sawing on my end.

Keep it up, David!

Open Your Eyes

November 10, 2011

I’ve been thinking a lot about running this week. There’s no big mystery why – my first 10k race is this weekend, and I’m looking forward to it, and I want to make sure I’m prepared. I went to Universal Studios today to see the course, thanks to my friend Chris who works there and showed me around on a golf cart, and apart from some minor undulations, there’s only 1 big, notable hill that I’ll have to run up (and down).

I’m feeling prepared. Today, my workout started with 5 minutes of warm-up on the arc trainer, then 35 minutes of weightlifting, and I ended it by going for a run. Even though I had an exhausting run the other day, when I kept upping the incline on the treadmill, I wanted to make sure I had completed a practice run on actual hills. So I ran around my old neighborhood in Burbank, which is built on the foothills of the Verdugo Mountains.

My route included a 7-block run up Olive Avenue (my old street), which was uphill the entire time, with an incline that got steeper and steeper. Here’s a view from the top of it. It may look like the street is flat in the foreground and ascends a big hill in the distance, but it’s actually the other way around:

I made it up that 7-block hill. It was tough and I was huffing and puffing, but I did it. Then I wound my way back down, and ended up passing a house that I love and had forgotten about. The house is a great example of storybook architecture, a playful, exaggerated variation of Tudor design with the goal of making the structure look like it came out of a fairy tale (see more pics of storybook design here). It was popular in southern California in the ’20s (Charlie Chaplin was a fan), although I’m not sure when this house was built. It’s not the sort of house I would ever want to live in, as I prefer more modern, less fussy environments, but I love this house because it’s so thoroughly and meticulously designed and maintained. Check out the whimsical details: the walls that weave bricks through rocks, the stucco that looks like it’s applied over stones, and there’s a turret! It’s quite unique, and if I were a little kid and it were a little dilapidated, I’d have no trouble imagining it to be the home of a child-eating witch:

In total, I ran 2.9 miles, in 32 minutes, which averages out to a MPH of 5.4 – and that includes half a block of walking after reaching the top of the hill to catch my breath. Time to update my running chart! My route:

I have a new go-to song on my iPod when I’m running. It’s called “Open Your Eyes,” by Snow Patrol. I got the song off of Sean Willson’s playlist. Sean is a fellow weight loss blogger (check out his blog, Learn Fitness, here) who went from 450 pounds to 250 pounds – incredible! I saw this song on his list, and realized I already had it in my iTunes, but never listened to it, because I’m not a huge Snow Patrol fan. I gave it another listen, and immediately added it to my workout playlist. A big thank-you goes out to Sean.

The vocals aren’t especially uptempo, but it has a dramatic build that I enjoy, and a chord progression that makes me push myself. You may be familiar with it – it was played on a slew of TV shows in 2007 and 2008, including ER and Grey’s Anatomy, and was a campaign song for Barack Obama in 2008.

Here’s the music video. It’s footage from a short French film made in the ’70s, and it’s one singular shot of the streets of Paris taken from a camera mounted to the fender of a car. That the video looks like a runner’s perspective is another reason why I’ve latched onto this song as much as I have! Check it out:

The main chorus of the song is this lyric, which is sung over and over again:

“Tell me that you’ll open your eyes.”

There are plenty of other lyrics that I haven’t bothered to learn, mainly because those seven words have really resonated. I interpret them as a message to myself, a reminder to open my eyes to all the great things that I’ve accomplished. I have a tendency to compound my struggles – if I have a bad day, I start thinking about all the other times, throughout my life, that things haven’t gone my way. When that starts happening, it’s time to open my eyes. I need to remind myself of the positives, because I don’t do it enough. I need to open my eyes to the fact that I’m intelligent, talented, and funny. That what I’ve achieved with my weight loss is extraordinary and life-extending, and that I share it – all of it – on this blog shows courage. That my family and friends love me no matter my weight, and that I have the capacity to recognize and share this love with the people in my life. And, most importantly, I must open my eyes and remind myself that I’m worthy of all of this, and all the good things that will come.

There is so much to see, isn’t there? What is there for you to see? Tell me that you’ll your eyes. And I’ll tell you that I’ll open mine.

Keep it up, David.

Chart Update & Eating On The Go

November 9, 2011

Yesterday was Tuesday. Weigh-in day! I had what I thought was a good week, but lately it’s seemed like that’s made no difference when it comes to my scale. I’ve posted a gain during three of my last four weigh-ins (I’m a total of 5 pounds above my all-time low), and I’m ready and have been trying to turn this ship around. If you’ve ever driven a watercraft (which I have), you’ll know they don’t turn easily, or quickly. I’m hoping my turnaround will be speedier than that of a ship. To use a sailing term, it’s time to “come about.”

So I stepped on the scale, then updated my weight chart:

I stayed even. I’m still at 237 pounds, which is a loss of 165 pounds.

The whole chart:

I was happy with not gaining or losing. I’m writing this some 14 hours after the weigh-in, and I’m still happy with this. There were no gain-induced binges. I don’t feel compelled to manipulate the image so it looks like a loss. I feel a little like a paramedic arriving at the scene of a trauma: the first step towards getting someone well again is to stop the hemorrhaging and stabilize the patient. This week, I was stable. I ate well, exercised a lot, and I’ve felt good about myself, too – which is equally important.

I’m also reminded by something my friend Gerri told me a few months ago. Gerri (I’m not even sure if I’m spelling it right, I’ve never seen it written down) is an octogenarian and a regular at Slimmons most days of the week. I see her at nearly every one of Richard Simmons’ classes, and she dances and has a great time, and always has a big smile on her face. Earlier this year, during a similar week where I stayed even, she told me: “You know, David, when you’ve gotten as far as you’ve gotten, not gaining is a loss.” And she’s right.

Earlier this evening (I’m writing this late Tuesday night) I took one of Richard’s classes at Slimmons, and it was fantastic. I wore my new shoes for the first time, and they’re very supportive and comfortable, and it wasn’t too crowded. Class on Tuesday nights starts at 6:30, and at 4:30, I found myself in a predicament. I was getting hungry, and knew I needed to eat something before going to class. I was running errands, and I was one of those situations where if I went home, I’d be able to spend 5 minutes there before turning around and getting back in the car. Plus, I had brought workout clothes with me, just in case, so I didn’t need to go home. On the other hand, if I went straight to Slimmons, I’d get there 90 minutes early.

I decided to drive to Beverly Hills and find something to eat there, so I could beat some of the rush hour traffic. I ended up at the Whole Foods that’s 6 or 7 blocks from Slimmons, wandering the aisles looking for something that would fill me up, but not sit like a brick in my stomach. Here’s what I ended up with, and it involves… oddly-colored vegetables!

I carton of washed and ready-to-eat celery sticks and baby carrots, including yellow baby carrots! This is the first time I’ve seen yellow baby carrots – although I’ve eaten their grown-up relatives. And since most baby carrots are not babies at all (they’re actually oddly-shaped full-sized carrots that get chopped up, peeled, and tumbled), it doesn’t surprise me that yellow carrots can also come in baby sizes.

In the back of the photo, you can see a smaller container full of different types of berries, and at the bottom of the photo, you can see part of the 1-liter bottle of sparkling water I bought. Three hard-boiled eggs from the salad bar, which I ate before I remembered to take a photo, rounded out my purchase, although I only ate one of the yolks. I ate all the fruit and veggies, and it hit the spot, although I wish I’d thought to grab a little dressing of some sort at the salad bar, for veggie-dipping purposes.

I still arrived at Slimmons a good hour before class started, but I ate in my car, and played iPhone games, and the time passed like that (imagine me snapping).

Keep it up, David!

Prepping for the 10K

November 8, 2011

My first 10k race is only 6 days away! I’m feeling good about everything. I’m at 65% of my fundraising goal (can you me get a little closer? Every dollar helps – you can donate here). I know I’ll have a good time during the race – I’m running in a group with four of my friends, so that will be a blast. I’m confident that I’ll be able to complete it, too. The one question mark I have involves my ability to run up hills, because it’s likely the course will have some hills (I’m going to see the course on Wednesday, which will be helpful). I’ve wanted to go running on hills to prepare, and today I finally did. Sort of.

I wanted to go running this past weekend, and the plan was to head about fifteen minutes away, to a hillside neighborhood where I used to live, and go running there. Mother Nature had other plans, though, and it rained all weekend. It was cold, too! I’m not complaining – I love rain, and I love when Los Angeles has actual weather, and let’s face it: cold and rainy in Los Angeles is no big deal compared to what cold and rainy means in other parts of the country. In Los Angeles, it means temperatures in the ’50s and intermittent sprinkles. But I’ve been spoiled by nine years of beautiful southern California weather, so I skipped the running (on Saturday, I lifted weights at the gym, and Sunday was a rest day).

Today, I headed back to the gym, where I started off with 5 minutes on the treadmill, to warm up and loosen up. Then, I hit the weights for 30 minutes, working muscles all over my body. After that, I returned to the treadmill and started running. After a few minutes of settling into my pace (5.5 mph), I started upping the incline. I did two minutes each at 5 degrees and 6 degrees, and then three minutes each at 7, 8, 9, and 10 degrees. Holy crap, I felt ready to collapse! It started getting really tough at 8 degrees, and after a minute of it, I seriously contemplated ending early. But I kept pushing myself… for one more minute… until this song ends on my iPod… only a little while longer… and after three minutes at 10 degrees, I was done. Whew! I adjusted the incline so the treadmill was flat, and slowed down for a good cool-down. In total, I spent 23 minutes on the treadmill, and 16 of those minutes were running uphill. And I survived. I feel much better about my hill-running abilities!

Later in the day, I bought a new pair of shoes for the race. Check ‘em out!

The model is Nike LunarGlide 3, in Grey Wolf and Max Orange, and I love ‘em. I bought them at my local Foot Locker, where the sales associate, Stephanie, was super helpful and knowledgeable. (I gave Stephanie a business card when I left, so if you’re reading this, Stephanie, hello!)  I have six days to break them in, and I’m not worried. I’m going to take Richard Simmons’ class in Beverly Hills tomorrow, and that will be a great start. I’ve broken in shoes during that class before!

Oh, and these shoes I purchased are a Size 13 – click here to read about my incredible shrinking feet!

Speaking of purchases, I mentioned the other day that I bought a new faucet at Home Depot, because my faucet was leaking. My new faucet will make filling my big water bottles easy, and it was installed this morning.  Goodbye, old leaky plastic faucet:

And hello, new water-tight stainless steel faucet!

It was when I bought this faucet that I also purchased a bag of oranges, which I’ve been using as practice to improve my orange peeling technique. Today, after my workout, I peeled another orange. I did really well at removing all the pith, and I was able to keep the peel as one long continuous piece up until the very end, when it broke as I was finishing up. Pretty good, but not good enough!

I’m gonna keep trying.

Keep it up, David!

Orange Peels

November 7, 2011

We ate dinner as a family when I growing up. Every night we’d gather at the kitchen table. My mom is handy in the kitchen, and she would cook most nights. As I got older, I would help. When I really young, there’d be all six of us – me, my parents, and my three older siblings – but as I grew older, the number got smaller, and the amount of dinners we ate together decreased. My oldest sister, Laura, went to college when I was nine, and my brother followed four years later. Then, when I was in middle school, I was on a swim team that practiced from 5-7pm (and my other sister, Sarah, was too) but my parents saved plates for us most of the time, and when they didn’t, it usually meant that we could stop at Burger King or Leo’s Coney Island on the way home.

I’ve been reminiscing about my childhood family dinners this past weekend, particularly about my dad. I remember how he could be really engaging and fun during meals. He would bribe my sister to eat mushrooms, which she hated (for the record, she started eating them when she was older and now loves ‘em). He always had riddles and jokes, and on special occasions, he would ask Buck Questions, a game he invented that involves increasingly difficult trivia, science, or math questions and $1 prizes which became a tradition in my family that we still play.

I don’t remember dessert being a big part of our family dinners. On occasion my mom would make a apple crisp, or we’d have some ice cream, but dessert wasn’t a daily occurrence. My dad always ended dinner, though, with fruit – he still does – and that’s what got me reminiscing about family dinners to begin with.

After he was finished with his meal, my dad would take his plate to the sink, then pick up some oranges from the fridge. He’d sit back down with a steak knife, and start turning the orange into the blade of the knife, and before long, he had removed the peel in one long piece. You could pick up the peel, and it would look like a slinky. He’d offer orange slices to anyone that wanted them, and when the first orange was gone, he’d pick up another one and do the whole thing again.

When I was older, he used to let me try to peel the orange, but I was nowhere as good as he was. His peels seemed perfect – a uniform thickness from end to end, and he would remove the white pith, too, without ever sacrificing any of the orange flesh. My dad is a master at peeling an orange. I watched him do it the last time I saw him, when I was in Michigan in September.

I wrote yesterday about how I picked up some oranges from the unlikeliest of places, the parking lot at Home Depot. I came home with seven oranges. I juiced one of them, and on Sunday, I looked at the remaining six and decided they’d all be practice oranges.

I want to peel an orange as well as my father can!

Attempt #1:

Pretty good pith removal, but the peel broke in two places, and it’s uneven in thickness. I can do better.

Attempt #2:

Check out this peel!

All in one piece! It’s a little thick, though, and the pith mostly stayed on the orange:

I have four more oranges. That’s four more attempts. I’ll probably try it again at least once today.

I love a good fruit challenge!

Keep it up, David!

Parking Lot Produce

November 6, 2011

I went to Home Depot yesterday. I needed a new faucet for my kitchen sink, because my current faucet leaks and buying a new one would likely cost the same (or less) than repairing it. I found a snazzy faucet that I liked, which excited me, but I got even more excited when I headed back to my car, because I saw something I’ve never seen before. Right there, outside the Home Depot, was a pickup truck full of oranges! At first I thought it was one of those pits filled with plastic balls that kids jump in, but then I saw a woman passing out samples of oranges, and I had to investigate. Check out all the oranges!

They also had that one pineapple and a couple boxes of cantaloupe, but I was interested in the oranges. The sample was delicious – sweet and very juicy, and I went over to the guy to inquire about cost. There was some language difficulties – both his English and my Spanish weren’t great – but I learned that they came from a farm in Fillmore, which is supposed to be a charming small town (I’ve never been) a couple hours away where HBO filmed a lot of exteriors for the show “Big Love.” He was selling big bags of oranges for $5, but the bags had 12-15 oranges – way too many oranges for me. I communicated that I wanted 6 oranges, which he sold me for two bucks. He loaded them into a bag, and handed it to me as I handed him the money. “For you,” he said, “I give you seven.” Seven oranges for two bucks? I should swing by Home Depot more often!

I’m off to squeeze me some fresh juice!

Keep it up, David!

Running Update and Produce Haul

November 4, 2011

Let’s talk running first, and produce second.

1) Running. I’m a little behind on updating this blog about my running. It’s been a week since I last wrote about running (at the end of this post), and during that week, I’ve gone running three times. Three times! I’m in training, after all – my first 10K is a week from Sunday, and I’m getting excited! You can read about the race here, and since there’s a fundraising element, it would ever so lovely if you could make a contribution. I’m running to support weSPARK, which provides support to cancer patients and their families. As I type this, I’m about halfway to my fundraising goal, so click here and chip in a few bucks, if you can! Every dollar counts!

Back to my runs: On Friday, October 28th, I went for a run that lasted 53 minutes, and 5.2 miles. That’s a speed of 5.88 miles per hour!  Then, on Monday, October 31st (Halloween!), I headed out with the intention of running all the way to the closest subway station (a distance of 4.8 miles, round trip), but about 15 minutes into the run, my side cramped up badly, so I switched to walking, turned around, and headed home. Between the walking and the running, I was on the streets for about 45 minutes, but I’m not gonna add this to my running chart.

Last night, I met up with my friend Tiffany, and we went running together. Tiffany is running the 10K with me, and it’s also her first ever race. Tiffany, though, hasn’t run in 10 months, so good for her for tackling something with so little time to prepare! We started at her apartment, walked a few blocks, and started running. We ended up running 43 minutes total. Our route:

That’s 4.7 miles! Tiffany did wonderfully. She took a few super-short breaks (while I jogged in place), but found her second (and third, and fourth) wind. She’ll complete the 10K easily. I calculated our speed for this run, and it came out to be 6.55 mph! That’s over half a mile per hour faster than my fastest run to date! Which means either my calculations are erroneous or Tiffany and I are well-matched to push each other while running!

Next goal: A practice run on some hills. There will be hills at Universal, and I don’t have much experience on hills.

2) Produce. I took Richard Simmons’ class at Slimmon, and afterwards, went about 5 or 6 blocks to the Whole Foods in Beverly Hills. This was my first time in that Whole Foods, and it’s a nice store, and I should know, because I spent entirely too much time wandering every aisle, because I had no idea where anything was. I came home with a boatload of produce. Take a look:

What do we have? Moving clockwise from the lower left corner: bean sprouts, holiday grapes (two bags), two heirloom tomatoes (stacked, one yellow, one purple); baby carrots, a container of pre-sliced celery, a bag of green beans, a tray of broccoli, a bag of kale salad, bananas, red bartlett pears, honeycrisp apples, red bell peppers, and 2 red onions.

I also bought a few more things that really excite me:

It’s the return of the BUDDHA’S HAND! This citrus fruit, which looks like the cross between a lemon and a squid, is one of the most bizarre and interesting items I’ve ever pulled out of the produce section. I bought one last winter when I was in Michigan, and used it a couple of different ways: as an ingredient in a chicken dinner, and I also candied it. This one’s gonna stay in a bowl on my dining table as decoration for a while, since I love looking at it, and I don’t know what I’ll do with it. Yet.

I also bought two of these guys:

The sign said “feijoas,” and that’s a word that I’d never seen before. I do love trying new things, so I bought two, but when I got home, they seemed awfully familiar. Their smell seemed familiar, specifically. I dug through the Keep It Up, David archives and realized that last year, I bought the same fruit at the farmers’ market, where they were called pineapple guava (see my post about them here). So, they’re not a new-to-me fruit at all – but they are tasty, and I’ll enjoy eating them.

Then there’s this guy:

This is a new-to-me type of produce. It’s called a Red Kuri Squash, and I’d never seen one or heard of it before. I love squashes, generally speaking, so I look forward to cracking this one open. I don’t know when I’ll get around to it – the good thing about squash is that they keep for months – but you’ll see the end result once I do!

Keep it up, David!


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