Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The imperfect race.

The marathon is over, and I did... OK. It was an imperfect race, but not a horrible one. I had a great time running it, and it has fueled a couple of new goals for the future.

Let us back up.

I flew into Los Angeles around midnight on Friday, and went straight to bed. I woke up Saturday feeling very fresh. I felt like I got to sleep in, but in reality, I woke up around 7AM PST. I love jet lag. My dad and I left early in the morning to go to the expo to pick up my race bib. The expo was at Dodger Stadium parking lot, where we had to climb several stairs to get to the fair. It was pretty disorganized, and they kept on closing different exit ways, which made us feel trapped in the expo. Nonetheless, my dad had a grand old time getting free snacks and chugging on some free drinks, like vanilla soy milk and Naked Juice. He also bee-lined to get a 2010 Census canvas tote bag to carry around the free shit that they were passed out. I got to score a 2010 Census water bottle and sweat band.

The rest of the day was spent hanging out, which included watching the umpteenth Bring It On movie on E! Channel and walking around South Pasadena to keep my mind busy. I couldn't stand the idea of just sitting around and freaking myself out. I was especially nervous because it was 80 degrees that day. I eventually calmed down, and enjoyed a nice Japanese spaghetti dinner at Spoon House in Gardena with my mama.

Sunday, I woke up at 4AM and did my morning ritual before any run. This includes drinking coffee, going to the bathroom, and eating a snack. I ate an almond butter-smeared banana and chugged some Smart Water. My parents took me to Dodger Stadium around 5AM and dropped me off. They went to meet up with their volunteer squad at mile 23.

We were lead into the stadium, and suddenly, I was standing in the middle of Dodger Stadium field. I looked up and saw the bleachers and got the wonderful buzzing nerve that I felt last year, right before the race started. I took it in for a sec, and then ran to the bathroom, where I peed and peed and peed. That's right. I peed, and then went right back into line, peed, and went back into line and peed. The line was long enough that I was able to pee all three times. I was not about to repeat the same mistake that I did last year, where I had to use the porta-potty right after I started running the first mile.

We were told to gather because the race was going to start, but it was really unclear as to where we were supposed to be, and where we were supposed to stand. Everything that was done at Dodger Stadium was a big fat mess. We started 15 minutes late, and it took an extra 15 minutes to cross the start line. Once we all started running, people started spreading out throughout the parking lot, because there weren't clear markers to show where the boundaries were. When we were supposed to turn, it got pretty cramped, and people were practically stepping on top of each other. Not a great start. On top of that, I started getting side cramps. I started getting those amateur side cramps that 10 year-olds get, when they eat too much and immediately try to do things, like swimming in the pool. I guess I had eaten too little too early, and my stomach started growling around 7AM, which was 45 minutes before the race started. Right before crossing the starting line, I popped in a sugary sport gummy in my mouth to fuel my run. That was the intention. What the sugar actually did was give me a stomach ache immediately after I started running. It wasn't debilitating, but it was a nagging pain that stuck with me for literally half the race. Any time I put something in my stomach, whether it be water, Powerade, or orange slices, it hurt my side. I couldn't not drink anything, though, so I ran through the pain and drank sips of fluid to make sure I wouldn't pass out from dehydration. I had to take it easy when I did, though, so I slowed down and walked a couple of steps each time I did stop, as opposed to break right into a run after drinking:

The cramp really dampened my running experience. The saving grace was the route and the scenery. The route was designed so that the runners could pass by a Los Angeles landmark at each mile. I'm not sure if it was one each mile, but there was a lot to see. We started out in East Los Angeles through Echo Park (which doesn't get the love that it deserves, so I was ecstatic to run through it) straight onto Sunset Blvd. towards Hollywood. We passed by the famous Chinese Grauman Theater, and into West Hollywood, where drag queens were passing out water (which I, of course, accepted). From Hollywood, we ran further west into Beverly Hills (down Rodeo Drive) into Culver City and Westwood, where we ran through the VA facility. After the hills of the VA, it was down to mile 23, where my parents were waiting. I was so happy to see them, and my mom got a great shot of me as I passed by:

After mile 23, it was a slow downhill towards Santa Monica Beach. The air got noticeably crisper and the breeze felt so great. I turned a corner, and saw the ocean, which gave me a sudden surge of energy as I ran passed the 25 mile mark straight to the finish line. As I neared it, I heard a "GO LISA!" from the sideline, and saw my old co-worker Ron cheering. I yelled HI! to him, and sped off to finish strong. I passed by a guy dressed up as Cousin Itt, and ran passed the finish line with a clock time of something past 4hrs 33 minutes. Crossing the finish line gives you the ultimate feeling of release. I felt FINISHED. DONE. SPENT. I got my medal and felt so good:

I turned on my phone to see if my friends were around, and was flooded with text messages from my dear dear friends. Some of them texted me right then to congratulate me, because they were tracking me online and found out that I had finished. They were all saying very sweet things about how great I did, but I didn't even know how well I had done. I saw the clock time, but I knew that wasn't correct. I was literally yelling to myself, "Awww, that's so sweet.... but WHAT WAS MY TIME???" as I read the text messages. (On a side note, I didn't try updating Facebook via phone while running because... I was running. I also saw 3 separate people DROPPING their iPhones while updating, including one that just shattered when it hit the ground.)

I finally found my friends, who drove all the way from the East Side and from Orange County to meet me and watch me finish. I have the best friends ever:

They were sweet enough to drive me back to the SGV, where we had AMAZING Vietnamese food for lunch. I don't care what people say, Los Angeles is several steps above when it comes to Asian food.

On the way to the restaurant, I found out that my time was 4:17:44. It's less than 3 minutes less than my last time. A personal record, but not the personal record I had hoped for. I took it as a good time, though, because I did improve a bit. I swallowed it as an acceptable time, and enjoyed the company that I had. I spent the rest of the day hanging out with my friends, and going out to dinner at a local sushi joint where I got to spend some quality time with old friends. The night was sweetened even more, because I found out that the House had finally voted for the health care reform bill, and I got to talk about the triumph of it with people who cared. All in all, it was one of the best weekends I've had in quite some time.

The race itself was imperfect, like I said before. The logistics were planned poorly, and I faced some hurdles that hindered me during the race. I didn't have as smooth of a run as I had hoped. The race was promoted as a route that would create a lot of PRs because of the fact that it was predominantly downhill. Downhill doesn't necessary mean that it's easy, though, and I learned that I really can't expect anything associated with the word marathon as obstacle-free. The fact that this race was less than what I had wanted it to be makes me want to run another one to improve it. This desire makes me feel like an athlete, which is something I've always wanted to be. I still feel pretty uncomfortable calling myself an athlete, but this race has made take one step forward towards that label.

If anything, this race also showed me how WONDERFUL you all are. The amount of love and support that I felt on Sunday is indescribable. Even if most of you were far far away, I felt so close to all of you through the power of technology. I can't thank you enough. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! This is only the start, though, so I hope you'll stick around throughout my running adventure!

(Thanks for my mom, Naoko, and the marathon photo takers for the pictures!)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The day before

It is finally here. It's finally here!

Here's my bib:

Here's my age:

Last year, they thought I was 56 too. I have no idea how this happens, since I registered with all new information. I'm going to have amazing age placement. What's worse is that there's going to be an amazing 56 year-old that is going to beat my ass.

How do I feel? I feel anxious. I'm terrified about this warm weather. I went to the Expo with my dad this morning, and realized how warm 70 degrees could be. It was warm, and it was only 10AM. I know it'll be OK, but I'm scared about being too warm. I'm also nervous, because this is my second race, and I don't think the same nerves that worked for me last year is going to work for me this year.

With all of these angst aside, I am excited. I reflect back on my training this time around, and I'm happy that I was able to keep it consistent. I don't expect to be faster than last year, since speed has never been my strong suite.

I can't really dwell on my thoughts right now. I'm hoping to have more to say tomorrow, when I'm (hopefully) done. All I have to say is that I am happy and sad that this is all over. I'm going to take a break from running for a little bit after this marathon, and dive into yoga. I'm going to give myself a month-long strength training/yoga challenge. I hope you'll still stay with me. I really want to thank all of you for all of your support. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

xoxo lisa

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A short break from running posts...

I do have other things of interest besides running. (SHOCKER.)

One thing that I love to do is to dress myself. I don't say that I'm into fashion, because I don't really know what's going on in the fashion world, and I can't tell you the name of the type of skirt that I'm wearing. I do, however, LOVE clothes and accessories. What I love most is when I'm given clothes and accessories that are hand-me-downs, which happens often.

Today, I wanted to share with you the story behind these earrings.

I don't wear them often, because I don't want to lose them. I've mentioned my love for LTSC over and over again (and you should help them out). I've met many people through this organization, a few of whom I consider my role models and mentors. On my last day, I was given these earrings by someone, who I will look up to throughout my entire life. She wrote me a card with these words: "Here are some sets of earrings from my friend, who traveled all over the world. Please feel her energy that she brought from different countries. She is one of the leaders of current Asian Pacific women in our community. I just want to pass them to you."

I'm wearing them today, and am feeling the good weight that these earrings carry. The weight reminds me about how lucky I am.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


This is an event that my former co-workers have formulated to benefit LTSC. Please feel free to send this around!

Run Lisa Run 2 (RLR2)
Can You Guess Her Finish Time?

Last year, Lisa Okamoto (a social worker at LTSC at the time) ran the L.A. Marathon for the first time in her life. She finished the circular 26+ mile course in a remarkable 4 hours, 20 minutes and 15 seconds. Within a matter of days before the race, she and her supporters were able to raise over $1,000 for the nonprofit agency, LTSC.


Lisa is a New Yorker now, but she plans to fly back to L.A. to run in this year's marathon.

Despite the snowiest winter in New York history, Lisa has trained diligently since November, running in rain, sleet or snow. If you think knowing more about how she's trained will help you guess the winning time, browse

If you think your knowledge of this year's course, conditions, etc. will help you decide on Lisa's finish time, check out to see the map of the one-way (downhill) course from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica Pier, elevation changes, etc.

SUPPORT THE BEST NONPROFIT UNDER THE SUN! (that rhyme is pretty bad)


1. Guess the time (hour:minute:second) that Lisa will finish. (The official time is the "chip time," not the stopwatch time.)
2. Each guess costs $5.00 (USD).
3. Multiple entries are allowed (and encouraged with discounted costs): 5 guesses for $20; or 13 guess for $50; or 30 guesses for $100.
4. If Lisa's exact finish time is not chosen by anyone, the entry with the closest time without going over is the winner.
5. If, for any reason, Lisa does not start the race, the entry closest to 00:00:00 will be the winner.
6. If, for any reason, Lisa starts but does not finish the race, the entry with the slowest time will be the winner.
(Tak settles all disputes.)

Payout is 50/50

50% of the payout will be donated to LTSC. The other 50% of the payout will go to the person(s) with the winning entry. If there are multiple winning entries, the 50% payout will be equally split amongst everyone with winning entries.

Submission of Entry

1. Entries must be received by Tak Suzuki by no later than 5pm (PST) on Thursday, March 18.
2. Entries must be either emailed to or delivered to Tak Suzuki, Little Tokyo Service Center CDC, 231 East 3rd Street, Suite G106, Los Angeles, CA 90013. If the entry is emailed, please type "RLR2 Entry" in the subject line.
3. Each entry must specify the hour:minute:second (example: 4:20:15).

Submission of Payment

Payment must be mailed or delivered to Mike Murase, Little Tokyo Service Center CDC, 231 East 3rd Street, Suite G106, Los Angeles, CA 90013, by no later than 5pm (PST) on Thursday, March 18.

You can forward this other LTSC supporters and Lisa's friends.
Good luck to everyone. Be sure to cheer on Lisa!!!


At least it was a nice day.

We had bed bugs. Have you seen the 30 Rock episode where Jack gets bed bugs and trolls around the subway looking for some sympathy? On a smaller scale, that's how I felt this week. However, the exterminator came yesterday, did his thing, and left our apartment looking like this:

Needless to day, I had to get out of there. A long run was a great escape.

I ran about 12-13 miles in GORGEOUS weather. It was above 50s today, and the sun was shining brilliantly. It was fresh and clear, and the easiest condition to run in. I did something that I hadn't done in New York since last September:

I wore shorts outside to run!

I might have jumped the gun a little bit, because I was a bit cold sometimes. However, I was excited to wear the new shorts I bought as my marathon outfit. I'm glad I did because I have officially vetoed it as part of my marathon outfit. It bunches oddly, and I felt kind of self-conscious in it. Feeling self conscious while running a marathon is the dumbest thing to do, so I am going to wear my trusty shorts from last time.

Anysnoop, the run was the best thing that I've done all week. I really needed this run. It's the kind of run that releases a lot of things that's happened during the week. There were a lot of people outside, soaking up the rays. People run outside when a hint of sun shines here, as if they were rats running out of the house after a tear gas was released. ( I have no idea if that's the way rat problems are treated.)

Next week will be about an 8-9 mile run, and then it will be race day. I. CAN'T. WAIT.
I'm off to enjoy the sun with the rest of New York. See you next week!