Posted in Daily happenings, Running, Thoughts

August – A Whirlwind of a Month

Most months go by really quickly, but August was just not one of those months. I have a lot of new developments for you though so without further ado, my August:

Graduate School – August was my last month of graduate school because I GRADUATED! That’s right! I defended and got my PhD. Yes, that’s right! You can call me Dr. Mai now. LOL. Leading up to my defense, I was a wreck. All of my social activities were halted (with the exception of running). For most of August, you could find me in front of a desk writing, reading a paper, or thinking about writing my paper. Writing my dissertation was one of the most stressful times of my life and there were moments where I thought that I wouldn’t be able to do it. That I’d just drop out and that’d be the end of my graduate career. But I persevered with the help of friends, family, and a LOT of running. The day of my defense will probably go down as one of the highlights of my life.

At the beginning of my defense
My presentation wasn’t flawless. I stumbled and faltered on some words and I even had this moment where I couldn’t remember the word “convincing.” I remembered it two minutes later and the audience lightheartedly laughed. When I finished my presentation and asked for questions, I swear my face had this huge smile on it. It was an amazing moment and I still can’t believe that I’m done. I poured my heart and soul into graduate school. There were a lot of late nights of self-doubt and crying, but I pushed on and I did it. I’m a doctor now. 🙂

My colleagues that helped me survive graduate school
Career – I am happy to report that I have a job lined up for me. While writing my dissertation, I was able to apply for a few jobs and fortunately, one of the companies wanted to interview me. My on-site interview was the day after my defense and after quickly celebrating with my friends and colleagues, I went home and prepared for the interview. LOL. My stress meter was through the roof that day. LOL. Fortunately, it all worked out and I will start in a few weeks. Yay! Wish me luck!

Travel – I haven’t been traveling lately, but this month, I did go to Vancouver for my first ever half marathon in another country. 🙂 The race itself was extremely fun and I just had a great time exploring the city. I still need to write a post on that trip so stay tuned!

In Vancouver
Running – I had a lot of firsts in the world of running this month. For the first time ever, I logged over 200 miles in a month and to be honest, I’m still kind of in shock. I used to see people with monthly mileages of 150+ and I just never thought I’d be one of them. 🙂 I ran my first half marathon in another country (SeaWheeze Half Marathon) and followed it up with another half marathon the following weekend (America’s Finest City Half Marathon). 🙂 Yes, I’m crazy, but I think it’s good preparation for the Dopey Challenge in January, where I’ll be running a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon in 4 consecutive days. Yikes!

And that’s it for August! Bring it on September. ^_^

Question for you: How was your August? 🙂



Posted in Daily happenings, Running, Thoughts

And it’s June.

And just like that, the month of May is done and we’re onto June. You know what that means, don’t you? It’s time for my monthly recap!

Networking – For the past few months, I have been helping the San Diego chapter for the Association of Women in Science (AWIS) plan a STEM conference called WIST (Women in Science and Technology). I decided that being involved was better than not so I put myself out there and worked with other scientists in all different fields. Isn’t that what networking is about? Putting yourself out there and hoping you make an impression? I don’t know if I have made an impression on anyone yet, but I think I’m bettering myself just by going to these events.

All of the months of preparation culminated in a conference with inspirational keynote speakers, motivational workshops, and enthusiastic attendees. I walked out of that conference inspired and ready to jump into new experiences (even scary ones) head first. “If they could do it, why couldn’t I” was the mentality I had walking out of there.

At WIST’s non-bench career panel
Graduate School – Thank goodness for attending the WIST conference. Ever since attending, I feel like I’ve been more productive. It also helped a lot to hear about other scientists’ struggles through graduate school and beyond. There are still moments where I worry about my future, but I tell myself to just put one foot in front of the other and before I know it, the scary part will be over. At least that’s how I’m approaching my committee meeting deadlines. So far it’s worked for me and I hope it will continue to work in the future. 🙂 *Fingers crossed*

Preparing for my committee meeting
Traveling – It’s been awhile since I last traveled. This month, I went to Austin, Texas for a few days to visit the boyfriend. He actually lives outside of Austin so I got to experience a lot more countryside. It was a nice change of pace and I enjoyed walking around the area. I even saw fireflies by the Colorado River!

While in Austin, I went to Sixth Street and went into a few bars to escape the heat and listen to some music. There were some cool bands and I’m sad I wasn’t able to stay longer. The heat just drained me and I napped a lot while I was in Texas.

Walking down Sixth Street
LOL. Maybe I’ll drop by again on my next visit. I also did another escape room called The Escape Game Austin and did not escape. Womp womp. Despite not escaping, it was the best escape room I’ve ever done. I would recommend this room to anyone in Austin. The puzzles were extremely clever and intricate. There was so much teamwork involved and I never felt left out of the group.

Prison Break!
This visit was just to get my toes wet. I will actually be visiting again this month and I will be better prepared for the heat. Any suggestions as to what to do there? 

Running – I didn’t run any races this month, but I did hit my monthly mileage goal of 83 miles. I actually ended up running 90.7 miles! Woohoo. I think it was easier to hit this month because I started doing more group runs. Movin Shoes, a San Diego based running shoe store holds weekly runs and I’ve been able to make a few of their weekend ones. I even started my memorial day with a 10k run up and down a monstrous hill. I also attended a few other group runs with Run North County and Lululemon for their #morethanmilestour and have found them to be more exciting than running alone. Six + miles isn’t so bad when there are others running it with you. 🙂

We got free lululemon apparel for participating in their tour too!
This is good news guys and gals. It means that I won’t be running alone during my long runs this summer! Hooray! I expect to run some long runs alone, but at least I’ll be mixing it in with group runs too. Yay!

That sums up my month. How was your May? Anything interesting happen that you’d like to share with me? 🙂

Posted in Daily happenings, Thoughts

A heart to heart

Disclaimer: This was a very emotionally charged post for me to write so please be kind. My life isn’t always rainbows, butterflies, and personal records. It’s often filled with anxiety and self-doubt and I thought it was time I let you in on some of that. 

Hello world. It’s been a few days since I’ve been back from a much needed mini vacation and although, I’m still not quite ready to return to real life, I thought I’d pop by to update you as to what I’ve been up to lately. A lot has been going on with me and I thought a mid month update was needed.

Graduate school – For those of you just tuning in, I’m a graduate student in the biological sciences. I’ve been in graduate school for almost five years now and this year will be my final year as I’m trying to wrap up in the lab. I‘m currently finishing up an experiment just finished what is hopefully my last experiment for my project and will be furiously writing my manuscript in the next few weeks in hopes of getting it published somewhere. In less than a month, I will be meeting with my committee, a group of principal investigators, that will decide whether I’m ready to graduate or not. I will present my work and they’ll ask me questions about my work. Questions on literature that pertain to my work may come up and I pray that I will know the answer to their questions. If they decide I’m ready and knowledgeable enough, I will have a couple months to write my dissertation (a very long essay on my five years of graduate work), submit my manuscript to a journal, perform experiments that reviewers may ask regarding the manuscript, and defend my dissertation to my committee, friends, family, and anyone else that really wants to come. My stress level in grad school? HIGH.


Beyond graduate school – This year is full of uncertainty and doubt. What will I do after I graduate? Do I want to take a break after I graduate before doing a job search or should I start looking for a job now while still in school? I’ve practically been in school since I was 5 and have had some sort of income since I was 16. The idea of a break sounds nice and I still have a few countries on my bucket list that I want to visit, but I haven’t been unemployed in over a decade and don’t know how I’ll react to it. If I do take a break, how long should it be? As long as it takes me to find a job? What if it takes me 6 months to a year or even longer to find a job? Will I be okay? I haven’t been sleeping all too well the past few months and these are just a few of the reasons why. I’ve been in academia for so long that I don’t know what it feels like to be thrusted into the “real” world. It worries me. ThePlanPhDcomics

My 100 Happy Day Project – I’m sad to say that I didn’t finish this project. I was a third of the way done when I had a few days where it was too difficult to find that silver lining so I stopped recording. I will finish this project this year because I said I would, but I will have to modify the project so that it will be to find 100 happy days within the calendar year and not 100 consecutive happy days.

Long distance relationship – My better half left for a six to 12 month internship at the beginning of April. I guess I was hoping it’d be some elaborate April fools joke, but it wasn’t. He left and it’s been incredibly tough because I find myself alone again. Don’t misunderstand. I do get to talk to him, every day in fact. I’m incredibly lucky to be living in an age where we have cellphones, skype, and other ways of communicating with people living in other areas, but it’s still difficult. I put on a brave face every day, but by the end of the day, I’m drained because I miss him. I want to hold him, but this is simply how our individual paths are currently unfolding and I’m trying to accept that.

So there you have it – the more vulnerable side of me. I hope everyone has a great weekend and I’ll be back with hopefully some happier things to write about soon: 🙂 

Posted in Daily happenings, Running, Thoughts

Adios April, it’s May Time!

Another month has gone by and holy smokes, it’s May! That means it’s another monthly recap. This is my probably my favorite part about the end of the month. I get to look at my calendar and see all the things I did. It makes me feel productive. 🙂 Without further adieu, my recap of the month below. Disclaimer: This month was very running focused. You have been warned!

Races – This was probably a record breaking month for me in terms of races. I kicked off April with the Carlsbad5000, in which I broke a personal record.IMG_8513 I hadn’t PRed in the 5k distance in 3 years so this was a total shock to me and honestly, I’ll probably still be riding the PR wave for a few months. 🙂 The following weekend, I ran another 5k the Triton 5k at the university I attend. Then two weekends after, I ran my 13th half marathon at the La Jolla Half where I crushed my course PR and ran another sub 2 hour half marathon. Thats 3 sub 2 hour halfs now. Yay! Maybe I can qualify for the Boston marathon one day. A girl can dream, right? 

Group Runs – I’m typically a solo runner. My schedule is just too unpredictable to schedule runs with friends, but this month, I made an effort to go out and run with others. I participated in two group runs this month and I had so much fun that you can bet I’ll be doing more in the future.

Adventure Runs, a scavenger hunt-like run held by Road Runner Sports, was the first group run I attended this month. These runs are held once a month and start at their store. At the start of the run, they unveil a map with locations you can run to in order to get raffle tickets. You have one hour to run so the faster you run, the more raffle tickets you can get. Once the hour is up, everyone returns to the start and Road Runner Sports raffles off prizes. If you’re over 21, they also have a beer garden. The best part? Everything is free. You don’t have to pay to run and the beer is free. What more could you want from a run? LOL.

My second group run was for a course preview of the San Diego Rock N Roll races that will be occurring in June. Movin’ Shoes, a local shoe store, organized this course preview and I thought it’d be a fantastic thing to try out. I’m running the half marathon in June and even though I had run it in previous years, I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to run part of the course again in preparation for the race. Plus, it would push me to get my ass out of bed early and log 9 miles before 9 am. (The full marathon course preview was 15 miles and that was just not happening for me. LOL).

I went into this run not knowing anyone and finished it with a few new friends. I also finished that run feeling like a champ and super grateful I didn’t opt for the full course preview. LOL. I also found out that Movin’ Shoes has weekly groups runs so I’ll be trying to make it out to a few more long runs in preparation for my upcoming races. Woohoo!

RnR SD course preview done and a vanilla chai latte earned!
Mileage and Motivation – Last month, I missed my monthly mileage goal. This month, I hit it right on target. I logged 83 miles for April! I am still on track for 1000 miles in 2017! Hooray!IMG_9119I’m extremely happy at my progress this year. I was starting to struggle midway through March and was really doubting whether I could have hit all of my running goals for the year. Then, at the beginning of April, I got this pin along with a letter from a friend.

A pin with my instagram/twitter handle on it
In her letter, she thanked me for being a constant source of inspiration for her and honestly, I was shocked. When I started running, I did it for me. I still do, but I’m glad that I can also inspire my friends to reach for their goals too. 🙂

Yelp Elite Event and another Clothing Swap – It may be hard to believe, but yes, yes, I do other things that isn’t running. Shocking, right? I have been a yelp elite member for several years now and I love going to their events. This month, I was lucky enough to get into their Flower Fields event. At the event, we got to taste delicious food and also frolick around the flower fields.

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My friend Lindy and I
I also attended another clothing swap and got some new articles of clothing, two of which I’m wearing in the above photo. I love leggings and a cropped leather jacket suits me just fine. 🙂 Clothing swaps are the best way to donate clothes and get some new clothes in exchange AND it’s free! I mean, how awesome is that? This is especially awesome if you have a stylish friend you want to exchange clothes with. 😉

So there you have it, my jam packed April. There were other things I did, but didn’t want to bore you with the details. 🙂 How was your April? Do anything fun? What’s in store for May? 

Posted in Daily happenings, Running, Thoughts

Bye Bye February – I had a blast

March is right around the corner so let’s review my February, shall we?

February was a crazy month for me. It’s gotten so busy that I caved and bought a planner for myself. BEST DECISION EVER.

The Happy Planner from Michaels

I’ve been using an online calendar for the past few years, but I really just like writing plans down on a piece of paper. It makes me feel more productive. Anyway, here’s how February went down.

Networking – I kicked off the month by attending a networking event for the life sciences. I’m expected to graduate this summer and I’ve been pushing myself to get out there, meet people, and hold informational interviews. It’s been nerve wracking, but I’m doing it. With a lot of hard work and luck, I may actually find a job post-graduation. Fingers crossed!

Vegas – The day after the networking event, I went to Vegas to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I’m not a Vegas partying kind of girl, but it was fun to go to the club and dance around for a bit.

On our way to the Wynn

I also gambled at a table for the first time in Vegas and won $10 at Roulette. Hooray! I quit after one bet though. Didn’t want to develop an addiction. I often get fixated on things and gambling is just not one of those things I want to get fixated on. The temptation was real!

BibRave Pro – I became a Bib Rave Pro this month and it’s been a blast interacting with the BibRave team. I’ve also been testing out a few products by XX2i Optics and BUFF (R) and will post my reviews of them soon. 🙂

Races/Run Streak/Training – I did not run any races in February. Disappointing, right? I know I am. BUT, I did sign up for more races this month. I signed up the Rock N Roll Carlsbad5000 in April, the La Jolla Half Marathon also in April, and my biggest sign up was for the Dopey Challenge in Jan 2018. *Gulp* I hope I didn’t bite off more than I can chew.

Anyway, this month was kind of a slow month for me running wise. San Diego has been hit with random storms and it’s been really cold out lately. But fear not ladies and gents, I still hit my running goals for the month. Today is day 97 of my run streak. HOORAY! I am 3 days away from finishing my 100 day run streak and I couldn’t be more excited. Double HOORAY! I learned a lot from the run streak and will post about my experience on it soon. 🙂 I also ran 83 miles already with one more day (today) to run. I hit my goal in 27 days! WOOHOO. To date, I have run 181 miles. Only 819 miles and 10 months to go! 🙂  Barring a huge injury, I am on track to finish 1000 miles this year. Yay!


My Birthday – I turned 29 this month! Holy crap. I celebrated by having an Archery Tag event set up by UpShot Archery. Like the name implies, it’s a mix between archery and tag. You shoot the opposite team with arrows that have had their tips replaced with a foam ball. It’s a super fun activity and I recommend everybody try it out at least once in their life. You’ll totally feel like Katniss from the Hunger Games.

My group of friends at archery tag 

The same day, non-birthday related, I did this escape game. If you’ve never done one, I would encourage you to try one out. You’re placed in a locked room and have 60 minutes to solve puzzles to escape the room. Think the movie SAW, but not gruesome and no one is harmed. 🙂 Some are more intricate than others and often times, there are groupons or living social deals for it. This was my 4th time doing an escape room and it was probably the scariest one I’ve ever done. Disclaimer: I am a HUGE wimp. You can read my review of it in link above. There was “blood” on the walls and a “demon” hiding in the rooms. *shudder* The good news though is that we escaped within 45 minutes. Hooray!

We survived!

So there you have it – my February. How was your February? Did you do anything exciting? Accomplish any goals? 





Posted in Daily happenings, Running, Thoughts, Training

It’s Good Luck Box Time!

Disclaimer: The following post will consist of a lot of smiley emojis. I am just THAT happy. You have been warned.

Okay guys, the NYC marathon is in 4 days (FOUR DAYS, GUYS! I’m FREAKING out right now) and my nerves are a WRECK.

Luckily, I received a surprise Good Luck Box a few nights ago and it has significantly improved my mood. ^_^ For those who don’t know, a Good Luck Box is a box that is specific to runners (like how Lootcrate is specific to geeks and gamers, but it’s different in that it’s not a subscription box). Inside the box are items picked by fellow runners and can be given out as a gift before a race. The box is sent to the runner the week of their race in hopes that the items inside will give them luck for the race; hence, the name of the box. 🙂

This little gem arrived on my front doorstep a few nights ago. 🙂

Inside the box, you will find a note (with a penny inside) from the person that sent it to you along with all the goodies the Good Luck Box team picked for you. They pick items from a variety of vendors and not every box has the same items.

Inside, I got this note from my boyfriend who bought the box for me.

I arranged all the items in a way that showcases them all (or at least, I tried to).

All the goodies I received

Depending on when you order the box, you may get items that are geared towards pre- or post-race. I got a little bit of both. Although, it might not seem much to the average person, these items mean the WORLD to runners. 😀 Chamomile tea to calm my nerves the night before a race. Good Luck Pasta in the shape of four leaf clovers for carbo loading pre-race. Honey Stinger chews and waffle for the actual race (I LOVE Honey Stinger), and a Tiger Tail foam roller for my aching muscles post-race. Seriously guys, I’m in love with this box. 🙂

My favorites!

I tried picking out my favorites to show you, but everything was so thoughtful I ended picking out the majority of them. 🙂

So have any of you gotten a Good Luck Box? If so, what did you think? If not, maybe think about getting one for yourself or a friend. It’s a great mood booster. 🙂 

Posted in Daily happenings, Food adventures, Traveling Adventures

Traveling Tuesdays – Chicago edition

About a year ago, my traveling partner and I decided to head to Chicago after seeing a great deal on The Flight Deal. This is a great place to go if you’re not set on any particular destination and just want to travel.

A round trip ticket from LA to Chicago cost me $112 So off we went to the Windy City. We took a red-eye to Chicago, which in hind sight, wasn’t the best idea. Since Chicago is two hours ahead of us and it was only a four hour flight, we arrived in the wee hours of the morning (~4:30 am). What do we do at 4:30 am when no one is around and we can’t check into our housing accomodations until 2:30 pm?


What perfect way to make use of the situation than to visit the really touristy spots without any of the tourists. First stop? Millennium park to see Cloud Gate aka The Bean.

At the Bean

This was one of the best decisions we made during the trip. We enjoyed the beauty of the Bean in silence and to top it all off, we got to wake up with the city. We watched the dark and desolate streets slowly become populated with people as the sun rose and with more light, the city got louder and louder. It really was a wonderful experience and although we spent part of the morning passed out at a Panera, I’d recommend doing this at least once in your life. We were able to visit the Bean, walk around the Navy Pier, grab a hot dog from Portillo’s, and get a massage to relieve our tired bodies all within a short time.

Highlights of our trip

Chicago Greeter program – I am such a huge fan of this program. Chicago, along with most major cities (even international cities), will have a greeter program and most of them are free. People who live in the city volunteer their time to give you a tour of their city favorites. You can set an appointment online a week before your trip and this tour can range from 2-4 hours (Their instagreeter program is 1 hour long if you’re short on time). You’re able to pick your language preference and a few interests that you might want to explore (i.e. food, architecture, nature). Our greeter, Bobbie, was fantastic. She is a huge fan of Chicago history and spent a good 3 hours showing us around downtown and giving us the 411 on the everything from the beginnings of the brownie to the uniquely colored cow statues we kept seeing. I had a blast and I suggest everyone use this greeter program at least once. It’s amazing.

Our wonderful greeter Bobbie

The Purple Pig:

  • Roasted Bone Marrow with Herb Salad & Sicilian Sea Salt – Enough said. When on vacation, do like vacationers do and indulge. You won’t regret it.
    On a cold day, this hot dish hit the spot

Lou Malnati’s:

  • Also, when in Chicago, get a deep dish Chicago pizza. Even if you’re not a fan, please go. Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised like my date was. He liked it over Giordano’s.

The Second City Comedy Club

  • If you like laughing – and who doesn’t – I’d suggest dropping by here. Several SNL cast members have graduated from here and it’s guaranteed to make you laugh.

And there you have it – the highlights from my trip. Chicago is a wonderful city and you can bet that I’ll be back a few more times.

Who knows? Maybe if I survive my NYC marathon, I’ll try my hand at the Chicago marathon. 🙂

If you enjoyed reading my post, please let me know and like below. Thanks!