Saturday, March 31, 2012

LA Marathon Recap

LA Marathon Race Day morning started with this. 

My 13.1 miles were powered by a strong french press full of downtown LA's Handsome Coffee Roasters coffee.  I'm convinced this java contributed to my best half-marathon time yet!   (Adrenaline helped with the 5:30 am wake-up time, but coffee was still essential.)  The crew at Handsome Coffee Roasters was kind enough to grind only half of my beans so that I could make a french press in my hotel, and save the remainder of the beans to keep them fresh.  (It turns out, the Handsome Coffee folks who helped me are runners as well.)

As for Race Day, it was awesome!  

The race began at Dodger's Stadium, to the sounds of Randy Newman's famous "I Love LA" tune.   For that day only, we took over Los Angeles streets, free from vehicles and the infamous traffic of our city.  We had the chance to observe the landmarks and character of LA neighborhoods in a way Angelenos rarely get to appreciate on a daily basis.  I ran the first 13.1 mile leg of the race winding through Chinatown, past Olvera Street, Little Tokyo, Bunker Hill, Angeleno Heights, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Little Armenia, Thai Town, Hollywood, and ending on Sunset Boulevard.  

After finishing the half-marathon, I met my relay teammate and he ran the next 13.1 mile leg through West Los Angeles!  Though rain was predicted on the day of the Marathon, we thankfully experienced nothing but sunny skies.  
Thanks to everyone for supporting me to take on the challenge of the (first ever) LA Marathon Charity Relay through donations, words of encouragement, cheering on the race route, and training advice!   As a team, we raised $1,140 to benefit our charity The Painted Turtle, funds that will give kids with medical conditions an unforgettable free of charge camp experience.    There is such a great spirit surrounding the Marathon, and I highly recommend coming out to experience the race if you have never had the chance to before.  Happy racing! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

LA Marathon Race Weekend 2012

As you can see from this feast of carbohydrates, LA Marathon race weekend is finally here!  Despite the uncharacteristically bad weather this weekend, I'm incredibly excited to get out there tomorrow to complete the first 13.1 miles for our relay team.  This year, the special 1/2 marathon relay option is only open to those raising money for a charity, and I'll be running on a team for The Painted Turtle.    
During any marathon, there is always a special spirit around the cheering that creates the noise of the crowd-- both in words uttered from supporters on the sidelines, and in the encouragements offered from one fellow runner to another.  I'm really excited for all the charity relay teams to experience this and I think it's an awesome way to bring awareness to all of our causes.  If you see a runner in a yellow bib tomorrow, they're running for a charity.  If you're in the LA area, give us a shout!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chef's Tasting Dinner at Fig in Santa Monica

Rabbit with McGrath Farms English Peas

How many different ways can you eat a rabbit?  This question was answered with tasty results (see above) during Chef Ray Garcia's recent dinner at Fig Restaurant at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel Santa Monica.  I was lucky enough to attend this private dinner hosted by Voss Water and Los Angeles Magazine, which served the dual purpose of raising awareness about the Voss Foundation while bringing together the LA food community.  The Voss Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Norway-based Voss Water, engages in efforts to bring clean water sources to areas in sub-Saharan Africa.

This dinner gave me the perfect opportunity to learn more about the foundation's efforts while allowing me to try Chef Ray Garcia's dishes for the first time-- a recipe for a great night.  The intersection of the culinary world and philanthropy is of great personal interest to me, not only because I believe in the practice of doing well by doing good, but also due to my professional background in the nonprofit sector.  I am fascinated by the concept that a little innovation, creative problem solving, and a socially responsible philosophy can make such a tremendous impact.  When the culinary world becomes a part of this equation, it really sparks my interest.  The Voss Foundation is currently creating dialogue about their work in Africa through the "31 days to make a difference" campaign, which will encourage mobile giving from World Water Day (March 22) through Earth Day (April 22.)

As I looked around the private dining room, I was delighted to be in attendance with so many great women who shared my devotion to food media.  My only complaint is that there was so much good food to eat and great people to talk to that it was impossible to meet everyone in attendance.  Nevertheless, the all-female group of diners filled the room with chatter and excitement over the beautifully presented courses, as we befriended fellow food enthusiasts on our left and right.  (By the end, I swear each person at the table was glowing from a collective love of food.  It was a decadent girls' night out indeed.)
Sonoma Spring Lamb

I felt particularly pampered when I took a moment to appreciate the contrast between this luxurious dinner and the rest of my day: by day, I live the life of a nonprofit operations employee with more tasks to check off my list than time to accomplish them.  By night, my only duty was to enjoy an elegant, multi-course meal, sipping wine pairings while learning about how the Voss Foundation helped to construct 32 clean water access points.  It was an unexpected but enlightening collision of worlds. Honestly, the meal looked and tasted so good that had Padma Lakshmi made an appearance, it could have been an episode of Top Chef.  (And yes, Bravo, I'd be happy to serve as a guest judge in case you were wondering.)

Thank you to the Voss Water and LA Magazine for including me in this dinner, and hats off to the Voss Foundation for its continuing efforts.  For more about the Voss Foundation, visit their website at