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Monday, September 27, 2010



From album Thailand

For my last trip during my 3 month sabbatical, for our 3 year anniversary, and to visit our friend Grace, we visited Bangkok and Krabi in Thailand. We had the greatest time soaking up the sun (got lucky during monsoon season), and eating! Here were the highlights...

Guides used to plan trip:
Mr and Mrs Smith / Luxe Guide Bangkok / Lonely Planet Bangkok Encounter / Nancy Chandler's Map of Bangkok

The beach: We flew into Trang and stayed at Si Kao Anantara. The hotel itself was very nice, but for a nice beach we had to take a long tail boat out to the islands. After more research and chats would be keen to visit Koh Samui, Chiang Mai, or Chiang Rai next time.

Bangkok hotel: We stayed at Tenface in Pleonchit, which is in a good area if you want to explore both tourists spots in Silom and the more popular neighborhoods like Siam, Sukhumvit. The hotel is located a bit far from the sky train stop, but they have a 24 hr tuk tuk that takes you there, so it's not a problem. All rooms are suites with a super comfy bed. And it's quiet!

Bangkok eats! MBK, 6th floor (Siam). Where lazy people who want all the good street food in 1 place go. Still really delicious even though at top floor of a mall! Mango Tango (Siam Square, Soi 5). Mango desserts galore! Khanom Krok Bai Toey (next to Mango Tango). Don't forget to visit bakery next store to pick up some mini green flower shaped cakes. They are so delicious! Just don't know what they are called! Kai Ton (Pratunam) for kao mun gai (chicken over rice). Skip the kao mun gai place on the corner and head down the street looking for pink shirts! Somboon Seafood (multiple locations) for curry crab. Sa-Nguan Sri (Pleonchit, Wireless Road) Old school family run restaurant for lunch, popular amongst locals. Coffee Beans by Dao (multiple locations, 1 in Pleonchit) for cheesecake and crispy pork fried rice. Like Thai version of Cheesecake factory with extensive Thai/Western menu. Jae Kee Fried Chicken (Lumpini, Soi Polo) for Chinese style crispy chicken buried in deep fried garlic. Eat it with sticky rice. Kuppa (39 Sukhumvit Soi 16). Had a Thai lunch, but felt like I was brunching in LA. Bo.Lan (Sukhumvit Soi 26). One of the "it" restaurants. Be ready for spice! Street food in Saochingcha. Print out the map and roam around. Favorites were Cafe Boran, Radna Yod Pak for deep fried egg noodles and seafood stir fry, Nattaporn Ice Cream for mature coconut ice cream. Blue Elephant for cooking class. I'm sure there's plenty more, but that's a start :).

Bangkok shopping! Thought I'd add in this part since you can't avoid them. I felt like there was 1 in every corner. Joe and I browsed just for the fun of it, but they really do have a good selection. It's a great combo of American, European and Asian brands. Joe made out at Vault (Siam Square) with a very cool pair of sneakers. I liked Greyhound Original and Playhound (cheaper line of Greyhound) which has multiple locations (we visited Siam Centre which has both). They had cute shoes :). My favorite store was not a clothing store, but was a knit shop called Big Knit (Thonglor Soi 49). They have the cutest Japanese crochet books for making stuffed animals. You can make copies for 10 baht per sheet. The Luxe guide has a step by step guide for how to navigate all the stores. When exploring neighborhood shops, definitely use Nancy's map referenced above because Google Maps is not always up to date in Bangkok.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

2010 Ironman Austria

Click here to access album Ironman Austria
Overall Time : 10:45
Swim: 1hr 12m
T1: 3m
Bike: 5:35 (splits: 2:42, 2:53)
T2: 4m
Run: 3:50 (splits: 1:50, 2:00)

Thank you!
Of course, I can't do this sport w/out the incredible support of my lovely wife, Sandy. Thanks for putting up w/ my crazy training and travel schedule! Also, my friends and family for encouraging and supporting my ridiculous hobby.

Accomplishments & Things Learned:
1. Eat/Drink by feel (but have a general plan) - It was probably about 90 degrees by the time we hit the run. I felt like my head was going to explode as some points on the bike. After a 30 min thunderstorm, the ground was steaming. For how hard I was going and the conditions, you have to be flexible w/ nutrition. I had a general plan, but started relying on liquids and salt more and measured how I felt accordingly.
2. Race the conditions and not for a time - It was helpful to have some time expectations, but when I knew I wasn't going to hit those times, I didn't give up. Just keep pushing for towards those goals, but stay focused on the present. I stayed realistic by the end of the bike and focused on a successful run. I finished strong and shaved 8 min overall from last year.
3. Dig deep and focus when it counts - At each Ironman and race, there is always a point where you realize why you train. In Ironman, everything you do is to help you push at miles 13-21 during the marathon. Pace goes down, you feel horrible,and you want to stop. I kept telling myself that "focus - this is why you train, for this moment, embrace it."Just focus on working hard to each rest stop and you'll be fine. Trust yourself and your training.
4. Coca-Cola is delicious! Drink it earlier on the run - When I hit mile 21, I thought coke wouldn't hurt since I was getting so tired and lethargic. I sipped on coke w/ some water at each stop and my pace/energy increased immensely. But once you start, you can't stop. Each rest stop, I had some cola and I was sprinting by the end. Should've started earlier.

1hr 12 min
I didn't realize the race had started. They told the competitors to start going into the water and all of a sudden everyone started swimming. Good thing we scouted the course the prior days, there is a canal which everyone doesn't sight correctly. I took a good line and stayed relaxed. There was the normal swim washing machine for the 1st half. 2nd half was fairly smooth until the canal (about 800m until the end) which is narrow and your hand scraps the bottom for some really shallow areas. I thought I could have done 1:05-1:10, but not too disappointed b/c I felt fresh enough to sprint the transition and picked up time there.

5hr 35min (splits: 2:42, 2:53)
Came on the bike and didn't take too long to warm up, tried to stay calm b/c I was so excited to get moving. Danger is the first 20km or so is relatively flat/downhill so you really go hard. Took me about 30km to really start feeling better, then hit the first big hill and stayed relaxed while everyone started passing me. There are 2 pretty big climbs w/ a lot of steady descents where you pick up a lot of speed (2 loops). There is a section b/t the hills that's a false flat where you think it's flat, but it's really slightly uphill. I struggled on this portion for about 15 min. By the end of the 1st loop the heat really picked up and I remember thinking my head was going to explode in my helmet! It was probably hitting high 80's w/ some humidity. After I hit the 1st half marker, I knew it would be tough to get significantly under 5:30 so I kept calm and save my legs for the run. Once I hit the last big hill on the 2nd lap, about 30 min of thunder storms came down. It felt great, but it became pretty dangerous on the downhills. Carbon brake pads aren't really made for rain. When the rain stopped, the ground was steaming b/c of the heat -- yes, it was getting that warm. Once I hit transition, I saw my time and felt relatively ok. My lower back was pretty tired and uncomfortable, so I tried to slowly warm up on the start of the run.
1: small cliff bar, some drink mix, water/nuun, salt tab, gel
2: cliff shot bloks, some drink mix, water/nuun, salt tab, gel
3. small cliff bar, some drink mix, water/nuun, salt tab, gel
4: cliff shot bloks, some drink mix, water/nuun, salt tab
5. cliff shot bloks

3:50 (splits: 1:50, 2:00)
Started the run w/ lower back tightness and thought it would quickly go away, but it took a good 3-4 miles before I started feeling ok. Thought my pace was a bit too fast at the beginning so held back a little. Then, just fell into a comfortable pace and told myself to take the speed while it lasted. The heat really started coming on in the exposed/less shady areas. Might've hit close to 90+ degrees. I was thinking of not stopping at ad stations, but decided to walk through and take in anything I felt like. It worked pretty well as I kept moving through the stations fairly quickly dumping as much water on myself as possible. First half of the marathon felt pretty good, but I knew mile 14-21 would be tough (it's always like that during IM). Once I hit 14, I tried to dig down and kept telling myself "focus - this is why you train, for this moment, embrace it." My pace slowed down a bit during these miles and once I hit the 20 mile mark, I started to sip on coca cola which made me wake up and pushed me to start semi-sprinting the last miles. Not sure if I just wanted to get it over with or I was pushing hard until the end.
1: Half a gel, sports drink, water
2: Half a gel, bananas, watermelon, coke, water
3: Bananas, watermelon, oranges, coke, water

Definitely focused on quality and recovery this year versus any other. On average, I trained about 25% less per week versus last year (12 hour/week vs. 9 hour/week) and did a faster time on a harder course. On top of that, from Jan-July 2010, I spent over 40 days travelling for work! Travelling kills the rhythm of training, but it also provides opportunities to think creatively about getting sessions done. For example, I got a chance to ride 50-60 miles throughout Marin county w/ the SF Mission cycle club which was awesome! I got to run for miles along the coast of Nice, France and Los Gatos, CA. Definitely breaks up the monotony of training.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

2010 London Marathon

Overall: 3:18
1st half: 1:41
2nd half: 1:38
Pace: ~7:35ish/mile
Place: 2,795 out of about 36,549

Tried to keep it simple this race, I basically had to go 8 miles/hour to hit my goal. I kept telling myself to hold back the 1st half and relax. I was a little behind, but there were a ton of I didn't want to rush out and blow the race too early! I got a bit concerned at the 13.1 mile mark b/c 1:41 was a little off the pace, so I tried to increase the pace to see how I would feel. Strangely, I felt alright and kept getting faster and am very happy w/ a negative split - 1:38! The crowd was terrific and pushed me forward the last 6 miles. I got faster as the miles went on and on!
There was a red line that marked the most direct 26.2 route, which I stuck to like glue!

Nutrition (I think I got my salt/nutrition intake correct!):
Day before: some pasta, extra salt, and about 4-5 bottles nuun water
2.5 hours before: 3 english muffins w/ apricot jam, little coffee, nuun water, 2 tabs of salt pills
Right before start: pack of shot bloks w/ little nuun water
1st hour: pack of shot bloks, nuun tab in water, 2 salt tabs, one gel ---- figured my HR and effort would be lowest so I could stomach the solids
2nd hour: 2 salt tabs, nuun tab in water, 2 gels (one close to end of hour)
3rd hour: one gel

By the last 8 miles, I was feeling relatively good, so just relied on sipping water and gauging my appetite. I was fine the entire time and dumped a ton water on myself at every stop. Weather was a lot cooler than forecasted (prob in the 60's/17's), it rained a bit at the beginning but turned into muggy, then sun, then cool.

I wore my K-Swiss K-Ona's w/out socks (like I usually do) and ended up w/ quite a few blisters, a slightly purple 2nd toe (first time this has happened), and a little sore side of my left knee (I think ITB - not the first time, so it should go away). Strange it's all on my left side... Although, it is a marathon so if I wasn't sore then I didn't try hard enough!!

Now it's time for Ironman training!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Bath Half Marathon

Bath Half MarathonBath Half Marathon

Joe & I just finished our first race of the year, Bath Half Marathon. We both posted out personal best! Joe finished in 1 hour 30 minutes, and I finished in 1 hr 45 minutes. I'm taking a break from racing for a bit, but Joe has the London marathon coming up in April. I'm glad I'm not him :P.

In the photos above I was playing around with the cross-processing effect on my Android phone from the app called Vignette. Like the look maybe I'll try it on actual film! Was testing out a roll of Fuji 160S film while I was in Bath. First roll of colour film I've shot in 6 years! Curious of how that will turn out! Off to NY tomorrow! Over & out. /s

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara

Joe and I visited Japan in October. We submerged ourselves into Tokyo to get a feel of how it would be to live there. Thanks to Tami, Paul, Donna and Richie for taking us around. It was another successful eating tour :)

From album Japan


For Thanksgiving we gathered the expats and rented an 8 bedroom house in the countryside. What resulted was a massive feast for every meal, and even more dishes! We had a competition to see who could gain the most % of body weight after Thanksgiving dinner. I ended up winning in total weight gained (1.6 kg). Joe was negative weight sometime during the meal and ended up gaining zero weight! What a metabolism!

From album Thankgiving

Fat Duck

Happy New Year! Will catch you up on the past 3-4 months of our lives in the next few blog posts :P. Joe and I visited Fat Duck (#2 restaurant in the world) for my 30th birthday. We had to make reservations 2 months in advance on the day! Was a delicious and fun culinary experience. El Bulli here we come (#1 restaurant in the world in Spain).

From album 30th Birthday

Sunday, September 13, 2009


From Album: Normandy

Thanks to Al and Lotte (Charlotte) for hosting us in Dives Sur Mer, which served as a great base to explore the Normandy coast. It was a heart felt experience seeing the D-Day landing beaches and the American Memorial and Cemetery. Interest that it was paired with trying tete de veau (calf's head) and deep fried calf's brain at Le Bougnat which I would actually highly recommend. Favorite part of the trip was going to the Saturday food market in Dives where we bought sausages, cheese, and fresh vegetables to make lunch.

View Normandy in a larger map

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Granada, Spain

From Album: Granada

Joe and I went to Granada, Spain soon after his "2 Ironman in 1 month" craziness. We visited an old co-worker and stayed in her family's home just outside the city. Estela, her family, and her girlfriend Carmen were the most amazing hosts. Joe bonded with Estela's papa as he was happy to finally have a man in the household amongst 3 daughters. I don't remember much due to the heat, but I do remember Los Italianos ice cream. Yummmm.

Enjoy the photos! It was the 1st time I only carried around my 35mm L lens (forgot my zoom lens :P). It was challenging at first but I definitely fell in love (again) with this lens as it proves to be quite a good walk around lens when traveling. Got interesting profile shots and had fun figuring out how to frame photos so they are interesting because of what was in them rather than the expanse they covered (which I got used to with a wider zoom lens).

Verona, Italy

From Album: Verona

Like my Zoolander pose?

Went to Verona back in June for the opening of opera season. A quite unique experience being that the opera is performed in a Roman arena built in AD 30. For opening night they chose to perform Carmen amongst a fantastically theatrical set (i.e. horse and carriage on state) and the finely dressed audience (i.e. floor length gowns and security detail).

Being my first opera, I struggled through scene 1 of 4 and decided to knock back an espresso so I wouldn't fall asleep during this once in a lifetime experience. As scene 2 started in full swing, we heard a rumbling from the audience in the back of the Arena. My friends and I turned to see a curtain of rain heading towards us!! Gasp! Maybe I didn't need that espresso after all. We dashed to the exit with seat cushion in tow.

As we huddled in the arena tunnels, we could hear the waterfall of rain running down the stone steps. We hoped that the rain would stop and the opera would continue, but that didn't happen... No money back after the show starts sorry! I grumbled that we just paid about 3 Euro/minute for less than 1 hour of entertainment. =/

Now what? Luckily we had made post-opera dinner plans, initially booked for 1am. Is it too early to show up at 10pm? Well let's go an see. We skated to the restaurant about 1/2 a mile a way. Yes, skated as it was impossible to walk in the rain in high heels on marble tiles. We skated on the balls of our high heeled shoes :P.

And by the way that restaurant was amazing! Can't end the story without a restaurant recommendations!

* Antica Bottega del Vino (Post opera dinner w/great wine. Try Amarone, red wine from the region) - 3 Via Scudo di Francia, Verona. Tel: +39 0458 004 535
* L'Oste Scuro (Seafood) - Vicolo San Silvestro, 10, Verona, Italy. Tel: +39 045 59 2 650
* Venchi il Gelato (Dark chocolate gelato to die for! Also on the main shopping street ;) - Via Mazzini