Life / Sweat

Because I knew I could… 8 years, 3 half marathons later


In the spring of 2011, when my aunt Susan asked me if I wanted to run a half-marathon with her in June, I thought she was crazy.  I was just starting my first semester of college at USC, trying to keep up with life in LA, balance my school schedule, and feed myself decently healthy things I could find at the dining hall.

Before college, I had just completed 6-months traveling around the world with Up With People, where running daily was definitely not one of my main priorities. Although I grew up running Varsity cross-country in high school, completing more 5Ks in a 3-year span than most people do in a lifetime, at the time I was in no-shape for running more than 3 miles, let alone 13 miles. But being a stubborn, strong willed person that I am, I decided to do it anyways.

So the journey began, I had a little less than 3 months to get through finals, my birthday, and get to the starting line for the Rock & Roll Half Marathon in San Diego.

Susan suggested that I use the Novice training guide by Hal Higdon to start my training. Of course she and her running crew were already on week 3-4, so I was already playing catch up to “jump on in”. But, I committed to it – running 2 or 3 days per week – either around campus or on the treadmill, and a long run on the weekend, I started to build up the miles, just like I would do every summer with Coach Prahl training for the upcoming XC season. I knew how to do it, I just had to get my head in the game and my body would comply, even if initially unwilling.

Susan & I circa June 2011. Sweaty pics are never great.

I slowly built myself up to 8 miles pretty comfortably and about two weeks before the race, I drove out to the desert to run 11 miles with Susan & crew. I had no idea if I was going to be able to keep up and jump up another 3 miles.

One thing about running with me – I don’t talk. I soon found out that Susan & crew were the talking type. While I was huffing and puffing, just trying to keep up, they were chatting about life, their kids, or what trips they were taking with their families that summer. Every 3-4 miles they would look over to me and make sure I was still there and still breathing. I’d squeak out a few words and we’d carry on. I finished the full run, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to add on a few more miles. But Susan said, as long as you can run at least 10, you can do 13, no problem. I believed her, because I didn’t have a choice not to and I trusted the endurance gods.

Race day – my parents came down to San Diego with me for encouragement. I found my crew bright and early and we set out to do the race together. My goal was just to finish and preferably not stop to walk. I remember about 4 miles or so into the race, I was feeling pretty good and I decided right then that I was going to stick with the group of ladies I was with, for the whole race– so that became my new goal. By mile 6, I was still with them. We passed Margaritaville, and pretended my electrolyte drink was a tequila shot, and kept going.  By mile 9, my legs started to feel really heavy, and after furiously chewing down an energy chew (which is really difficult while you are still running) and I was right back with them. By mile 11, I looked down at my phone and very surprisingly, we were trending under 2 hours. At that moment I decided there was nothing stopping me to get across the finish line before the 2-hour mark – my third new goal. With my legs feeling numb and every part of my tired, I did it– I finished my first race in 1 hour and 49 minutes. I didn’t stop, I stuck with my group, and I finished under 2 hours.

I truly amazed myself of what my body was capable of. Sure, I have a history of endurance running (which was totally advantageous), but running that race proved to me how mentally strong I was. Without setting goals along the way, I never would have pushed myself to finish the way I did. I would have finished of course, but maybe I would have walked or stopped several times. I couldn’t have done it, if I didn’t trust that I (my heart, my legs and my body) could do it. I am still really proud of it.  In my books, it was a pretty big accomplishment running under 9 miles per mile for 13 miles straight.

And then, I waited another 6 years to try it again. Why? I’m not sure. I did sign up for another race with a friend in college, but it never came to fruition – a combination of poor timing (during finals) and lack of training. But maybe I think part of me was also scared that I wouldn’t do as well, and I psyched myself out, like I sometimes do.

So around Christmas when my aunt Susan asked me to do one in Encinitas in March 2017, I had no reason not to do it.

Less than a year prior, my aunt Susan had an unexpected discovery of lung cancer. Although detected very early and it was resolved rather quickly, it was very scary. The fact that she even wanted to run another half marathon considering everything she had just went through blew my mind. So, I definitely I wasn’t going to back out just because I was scared.

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Desserts / Food / Holidays / Life

Pumpkin Pie For All


With Thanksgiving officially less than one week away, it’s time to finalize recipes and gather ingredients. My main responsibility this year is to bring the Pumpkin Pie. And let me tell you, that is not a responsibility I take lightly. I’ve already made two pies to make sure my recipe is perfected.

When you have food sensitivities and food allergies, Thanksgiving can be a bit challenging. However, with the right mindset, that challenge can be part of the fun.

Pies tend to be particularly challenging for me because I cannot have eggs, gluten or corn. So, I always get excited when I’m able to adapt a recipe to meet my dietary needs without compromising flavor or texture.

This pumpkin pie is so good, no one will know it’s gluten-free and vegan, I promise!

The original recipe called for corn starch. I hypothesized that the best starch substitution would be potato starch because it’s a 1:1 substitution but I went to Whole Foods and amazingly they don’t carry it. So, I decided to experiment with arrowroot flour. Let me save you some disappointment. DO NOT USE ARROWROOT FLOUR!! The pie came out looking cracked and the texture was a bit slimy. Not really what you want in a pie, am I right?!

So, I gave in and went to a different store to buy potato starch. Thankfully, the pie turned out perfectly using this starch so I would definitely recommend using it if you’re also sensitive to corn. In my research I also found some health benefits of potato starch which may make it a better option for individuals that need to watch their blood sugar.

Potato starch is a resistant starch, so it does not get digested in the stomach or small intestine. Resistant starch does not cause the spike in blood sugar or insulin that other starches cause. It also has significant amounts of vitamin B6 and various minerals.


Pumpkin Pie
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This delicious pumpkin pie does not contain dairy, gluten or eggs.
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 8 servings
  • For the crust:
  • ½ cup shortening (for vegan) or butter
  • 1½ cups Pamela'a GF Flour
  • 4 Tbsp. cold water
  • For the filling:
  • 1¾ cup pumpkin (1-14oz. can)
  • ¾ cup full-fat coconut milk (shake well before using)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup potato starch
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Cut the shortening or butter into flour until crumbly.
  3. Add the water and then use your hands to work the dough until soft. Mixture will be crumbly at first, but will slowly come together.
  4. Once your dough comes together, form it into a ball.
  5. Next, place the dough into an 8 inch pie pan or tart pan and press it evenly into the bottom and sides using your hands or the back of a spoon.
  6. Once the pie dough is spread evenly, take a fork and prick the bottom of the crust a few times. This allows the steam to escape as needed and helps to ensure that your pie will bake evenly and smoothly.
  7. Place the pie crust into your pre-heated oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until edges of pie crust are golden brown.
  8. While your crust is baking, make the filling.
  9. Add the pumpkin, coconut milk, brown sugar, potato starch, maple syrup, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt to a large bowl. Mix well.
  10. When the pie crust is done cooking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool. Adjust oven setting to 350 F.
  11. Pour pie filling into pie crust and bake for 60 minutes.
  12. Remove pie from oven and allow it to cool for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight before serving.
  13. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or coconut whipped cream and enjoy!


We hope you all get to enjoy time with family and friends this Thanksgiving. We are thankful for all of you!

Life / Travel

Vacationing – Find peace with being out of the routine


When you are away from home for any extended period of time, it’s easy to get out of your routine and feel “out of whack”. Even if I am having the best time ever, often times I am left at the end of the day with a tummy ache. So, here’s what I do, when I feel like I’m away from my normal routine. Check it out…

1. Breathe and enjoy it – Don’t worry so much – I think the expectations we set up for ourselves to maintain a healthy lifestyle is probably what makes “leaving the routine” so difficult. It’s the internal pressure that we have to drink 2 glasses of water before coffee or to sweat it out for at least 30 minutes before breakfast, that when we miss it, we feel bad about ourselves. And god forbid we forget to pack the collagen peptide packets!

Don’t worry so much, it’s not worth it. Let it go and instead try to be in the moment. Breathe and enjoy it. Listen to what you need at that time, but don’t beat yourself up if you miss your daily handful of supplements one morning.

If you think about it this way, the purpose of routine is to help us manage our time and achieve our goals. When you’re at home or working routine is essential for productivity. When you’re on vacation, your routine, or lack thereof, should also align with your goals. And when your goals are to relax, disconnect from your daily reality and reconnect with yourself and your traveling partner, breaking from routine may be just what you need.

After all, you are away from home for a reason, and most likely it’s to disconnect from your daily reality. I think it is healthy to give yourself and your body a break from the strict day-to-day schedule. Bottom line – stick to your routine, when you can, while you’re away, but don’t over react if you miss a few steps along the way, it’s part of the adventure. Your routine will be waiting for you when you return home, and by then, you will be happy to jump right back into it.

This sunrise just makes you want to transport yourself to this beach and take a deep breath, right?

2. Drink lots of water – I really can’t say this enough. I tell myself all the time that I need to drink more water (I typically keep a big jug on my desk at work for this very reason). But it’s even more uber important while you’re traveling. Airplanes, trains, and automobiles are breeding grounds for your next cold. As when your body is dehydrated, you are more susceptible, as you are not giving yourself a way to flush out the daily toxins, but also helping your body prevent things like headaches and tummy issues. (Which definitely tend to happen to me, while I’m on vacay.)

Another benefit of staying hydrated, which I’m a big believer in, is to clear up your complexion/skin. I can’t tell you how much clearer my skin became while I was away for two weeks. (And I was out of my routine!) I do think a big part of it was a reduction of stress and probably the moisture in the air was helpful, but I also think that the amount of water I had was a big contributor. When we got to Hawaii, we bought a flat of water to keep in our hotel room and we would grab a few to go every time we went out. Or, you could tots bring a re-fillable one with you… I just didn’t think of that when I was packing for my trip the morning we left. (I blame the honeymoon brain).

I wore basically no makeup my entire vacation – my skin loved the moisture & hydration!

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