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Posts for May 2012

ITRYathlon: Baby Steps

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Monday, May 28, 2012

The latest installment in my training journey... ITRYathlon


The only way to accomplish something big is to start out small. Very small.

I decided to take my doctor's advice and start slowly, with 3 mile workouts on the low-impact elliptical machine in our garage. Until recently, this dusty monument to last year's desire for fitness has been the perfect place to hang drying laundry. Now it is the first step to my goal.ITRYathlon

After a week of elliptical training, I decided that I was ready for the real thing: a power walk to see if I could clock the same three miles that I had mastered in my garage.

I started out at a brisk pace and soon felt my untrained heart begin to race. But it was a beautiful day and I was already feeling warm and happy by the first corner. I settled into an easy rythmn that matched the music in my IPod. So far so good.

ITRYathlon ITRYathlon

In fact, I started feeling so good that I decided on the next song...

I would start to run.

Just a short spurt of maybe fifty feet. No biggie. A new song began and I took a step. Then:



Immediate and sudden pain on the inside of my right ankle. How can this be? I didn't twist my foot or land awkwardly. I just attempted to run the tiniest of distances and my first step resulted in pain.

I figured it was just the stiffness of a non-runner and made my second mistake of the day: I kept going.

I ignored my doctor's advice to listen to my body and I ran anyway. But not for long. I stopped after about ten seconds, ten measly seconds, and had my first visit with Discouragement.

You can't even run for ten seconds without pain? How are you ever going to run for three miles?"

I focused on the music, ignored my Inner Critic, and started again. I ran in little spurts for the next thirty minutes, stretching out a little longer each time. My body warmed up and my ankle settled down.


I gave myself little goals: just run to the next mailbox, or to the next driveway, or to that fire hydrant a little further down the street.

I felt pretty good when I reached my three mile goal, until my ankle reminded my that I had started running too soon. I limped home, worrying that I may have to stop before I really get started.

Two Step 

 You have to walk before you can run.

A few days later, I laced up my shoes and hit the road again: this time with the help of my friend and coach, Cheryl Evans.

We met early on a drizzly morning, halfway between our houses.

ITRYathlon  ITRYathlon

"Triathlons go on rain or shine!" She beamed at me with an amount of enthusiasm that should be illegal before 7am.

Cheryl has coached hundreds of kids on Woodbridge High School's cross-country and track teams. I figured if she can take grumpy, uninterested teens and transform them into runners, she can certainly help me. 


We talked about the importance of stretching every day and the value of starting slowly. We talked about how strength training and core workouts like Pilates can prepare the body for long distance running.

We talked about our kids. 


Cheryl is my friend, and as we power-walked around our hometown, I realized the importance of having a partner in training. Running, biking and swimming can be isolated endeavors, but the journey is easier when you share it with a friend.

By now the drizzle had dried up and the sun had replaced the clouds.I felt warm and active and alive. Woodbridge is a beautiful, planned community that was designed for recreation. Lovely bike and running paths meander though the neighborhoods and circle two lakes.

"Isn't it beautiful out here," Cheryl said as we followed a trail by the water.


"Yes it is," I said, knowing that I wasn't on this path alone.

Step Forward

Two weeks later, I felt I was ready to pick up the pace.

I had been walking regularly, pumping my arms to keep a steady pace, and stretching after every trip. But I was tired of being passed by runners who somehow had mastered this activity.

Maybe I could just take a few baby steps just to test my ankle. So a mile into my three mile walk,

I took off.

Very slowly, at barely more than a walking pace, I experienced a miracle.

No pain. Not even a little twinge. There was absolutely no stiffness in my ankle whatsoever.


I went a little further down the trail, my body adjusting to this new pace. I purposely stayed slow and controlled, not wanting to injure myself with enthusiasm. Surprisingly, I was able to keep going a little further than I had planned. No pain, no need to stop. I may have been chugging along at a snail's pace, but I was officially picking up my feet and running.

I finally stopped about a quarter mile from where I started and looked back at where I'd been.


It wasn't marathon distance or speed, but I had taken a giant leap forward.

At the end of week two, I was rewarded with progress. I still don't know if I'll be able to complete this race, but I know that for at least part of the time,

I'll be able to run. 

51%off the TASTE OF OC

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Thursday, May 24, 2012

Puzzled about what to do for Father's Day? Well you're in luck! Take the family to the Taste of OC on Sunday June 17th at the Verizon Amphitheater in Irvine!
Enjoy food and drink tastings from local, premier restaurants; live music and entertainment; art displays and activities provided by LagunaArt; cooking demos from top chefs; and Father's day foodie events.

Already have Father's Day plans? But, you're itching to unleash your inner foodie, or just celebrate your foodie- self even more? Attend the Taste of OC on Saturday June 16th for more of an ‘adult', 21+ atmosphere. Indulge in wine, beer, tequila tastings, and an abundance of delectable dishes (available both days but the Sunday event is more family-oriented)!

 Now the big do I get tickets?
I think you hit the jackpot with this one....OCSaverTime is now offering a 51% off the $89 admission ticket price! Only pay $44 and receive -Admittance to the festival on June 16th or June 17th
-40 Food & Drink vouchers
-Preferred seats to OC Star Chef demos
- Live music and entertainment

-Special Events are available, check out more info here.
-Details on the Taste of OC
-Visitor Info
-Regular Ticket Info
Take advantage of this amazing OCSaverTime deal before tickets are gone! I will be attending on June 16th representing OCSaverTime, and I hope to see you there! 



*Images c/o Taste of OC & OCSaverTime

Fast and Furious Fun @ Irvine K1 Speed for Birthdays and Corporate Meetings

Posted by: Terry Winkler
Posted on: Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'm the kind of parent who's usually two steps behind new & cool party ideas, but this time I finally threw a cool birthday party theme for my son, without getting the idea from another kid's party. Woot! This is also the first party where I was actually planning on having fun, too, instead of just running around organizing party games, passing out cake and goodie bags.

Indoor go kart racing at the Irvine K1 Speed would be the destination for my son's birthday party. I have a bit of a lead foot and have to continually control my need for speed as I drive the family taxi around town, so at K1 Speed I got to let out my wild side and put petal to the metal...all under the guise of being an awesome mom throwing my son a rad party for his closest pals.

K1 Party

 K1 Speed is not your little party theme company whose sole purpose is to crank out as many cookie cutter parties as possible. This is where the big kids play. And by ‘big kid' I mean anyone from third grader to corporate CEO. It's a real indoor racing experience. You get instruction, helmet, a racing head sock and you are on your way to becoming a racer!

K1 CorpAnd here's the big bonus:  I learned the Irvine location has corporate facilities for events and team building experiences. I plan a lot of corporate events and I am so impressed with all that K1 Speed has to offer. There's a great meeting room that features wireless internet connections and 110″ display screens perfect for presentations.  There are also catering options to keep coworkers' satisfied while watching those PowerPoint presentations.  After your rock star presentation you can impress your boss on the track.  The race packages are perfect for racing against co-workers at speeds approaching 40mph in the electric karts It's an exhilarating and unforgettable way to bring fun to your business offsite meetings and team building exercises. So, as you plan your next corporate meeting in Irvine, let K1 Speed give your event the checkered flag treatment.

Hots Spots for Tots in Irvine

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Wednesday, May 16, 2012

There is a reason why so many people move to Irvine to raise their kids. It is a safe, family-oriented community with many great offerings for children of all ages. Those visiting Irvine may be using it as a home base to explore major attractions in Orange County such as Disneyland and our incredible beaches but I encourage visitors to spend a day around town and check out what this city has to offer its smallest guests. Here are some of my preschooler's favorite things to do in Irvine.

Play grownup at Pretend City

 Pretend City

I wish Pretend City existed when I was a kid. Located in an unassuming warehouse in the city's southwesterly reaches, Pretend City allows children to play shopkeeper, restaurateur, fisherman, Mommy, Daddy, builder, farmer, artist, doctor, and superstar in a vibrant city created just for them.  Here your child can dig up a toy carrot from the "dirt" of the vegetable patch,  drive their car over to Ralphs and sell it to the market, or use it in a tasty creation they are whipping up for Mommy at the café.  Don't be surprised if you have to drag your kids out of the building at the end of the day, it really is that fun!

Let them transform into knights and princesses at Northwood Park

 Northwood Park

Give my son a foam sword and he is a happy camper. Give my son a foam sword, take him over to Northwood Park and you will see a preschooler on Cloud 9. Northwood Community Park is known to children in the area as the "castle park" because of its large castle play structure that makes for an ideal spot for imaginative play. While Castle Northwood is enough to keep any kid entertained, there are also several play structures geared at different age groups, basketball courts, handball courts, ball fields, and shaded picnic areas with barbeques. Spend a couple hours here enjoying the beautiful Orange County weather and you may find yourself thinking about relocating into town.

Convince your little ones that shopping is fun at the Irvine Spectrum

 ferris wheel-thumb.jpg

Normally my five-year-old would rather gauge his eyes out with plastic forks than go to the mall but when I mention I am heading to the Irvine Spectrum, he is the first one in the car.  After all, what kid wouldn't love a mall with a Ferris wheel?  Throw in a carousel, miniature train, Dave and Buster's, and plenty of places to grab sweet treats or kid-friendly grub and you have a mall that they will actually request to visit again and again. Of course, if you are anything like me and aren't about bribery you will be sure to leverage a ride on the carousel in exchange for some good behavior inside of Nordstrom!

Introduce them to the deliciousness of Strickland's Frozen Custard


I have yet to meet a preschooler who didn't like ice cream. Whether it is chocolate, vanilla, or rocky road, they always seem to have extra room in their tummy for the treat. If your child screams for ice cream, take them to Strickland's and introduce them to the heavenly world of frozen custard. Frozen custard is extremely popular in the Midwest and Stricklands, an Ohio legend, has its only shop on the West Coast located in Irvine. So what's the big deal about frozen custard? Try it for yourself and you will have your answer. Delicious!

Filed In: Family Friendly

Meet me @ the Farmer's Market

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Saturday, May 12, 2012

My idea of a perfect weekday/end morning? Grabbing a cup of coffee, and heading over to one of the many Farmer's Markets stationed in various cities throughout Orange County. I find absolute bliss in meadnering up and down the aisles of a Farmer's Market; perusing through the gorgeous hues of veggies and fruits, shopping for fresh produce and flowers at amazing prices, and the best part? supporting local farmers and vendors!!
I was researching locations for other OC Farmer's Markets and stumbled upon the Orange County Farmer's Markets and the Orange County Farm Bureau. The OCFB site is a great resource; providing information and maps  for 'Certified Farmers' Markets'.
What does it mean to be a 'certified' farmer's market? "genuine farmers sell fruits, nuts and vegetables directly to the public. Every farmer who sells at a certified market is inspected by the county agricultural commissioner to make sure he/she actually grows the commodity being sold" (OCFB).
Here are a few OC Farmer's Markets (OCFB and city-sponsored/certified) near me that take place throughout the week that I have been to or would like to visit soon! I'm definitely going to be picking up a few bouquets of flowers for my mother and grandmothers this Mother's Day!
Been To:
Costa Mesa: Orange County MarketPlace/ Thursday 9am-1pm
(also open on Sat & Sun through the swap meet, $2 admission)
  SOCO-The OC Mart Mix/ Saturday 9am-2pm
Huntington Beach: Pier Plaza/ Friday 1pm-5pm
Irvine: University Center/ Saturday 8am-12pm
ASUCI/ selected dates  8am-5pm, parking fee $2/hr
Newport: Corona Del Mar/Saturday 9am-1pm

Planning on It:
Irvine: Orange County Greak Park/ Sunday 10am-2pm
Anaheim: Downtown Anaheim/ Thursday 12pm-7pm
Laguna Hills: Laguna Hills Mall/ Friday 9am-1pm
Laguna Beach: Lumberyard Parking Lot/ Saturday 8am-12pm
Of course I didn't list every Farmer's Market that is available, but almost (it seems like all)  OC cities host at least 1 Farmer's Market, check out OC Farmer's Market , OCFB, or yelp (reviews)  for more information. And leave a comment if you know of any other markets/faires! 
Enjoy your weekend!

ITRYathlon: Baseline

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Thursday, May 03, 2012

Before you can reach any destination, you first need to understand where you are.

Gound Zero. Point A.

I am so there.

I hate to run, my bike is a cute beach cruiser with a bell and a basket, and I don't know how to swim.

Does this sound like triathlete to you? Me neither.

But I'm willing to try.

So why am I doing all of this? Good question.

At 48, I would like to gain a sense of fitness that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I would like to improve my energy level with a new nutrional plan. I would like to exercise my heart and maintain a healthy blood pressure.  I would like to be able to wear a bathing suit in public.

Important stuff like that.  

If my goal is to improve my health, I thought I should start by seeing just exactly how healthy I am. I'd also like to make sure that my body is up to the task.

I met with my internist, Dr. Stephen Wikle of Irvine, for a routine physical.


He checked the basics, like blood pressure and weight, and ordered a blood test just to make sure everything was in order.  

Probably not a bad idea, even if  I wasn't training for a race.  

Everything seemed to be just fine, and Dr Wikle gave me the green light to begin. 

 Ironically, I found out that Dr. Wikle is a long distance runner himself. His best advice?

"Start slow and listen to your body. If you feel dizzy or any pain, these are clues you shouldn't ignore."

He sent me on my way with his encouragement and an offer to help with any nagging pains that may arise.

My next stop was to The Running Lab in Orange, for an analysis of my feet.


I had heard that finding the proper shoe could be the difference between race day success and injury-riddled failure. 

Brian, my sales associate and foot analyst, spent 20 minutes assessing my feet. First, he watched me walk across the room and stand on one leg. Then I made moving footprint impressions to see what part of my feet need support. 



I suggest you have a pedicure before you go, because your feet will be the star of the show!

Finally, I found a pair of shoes with the proper structure to support my feet. Incidentally, Brian suggested That I wear shoes that were a size and a half bigger than my regular size, to allow my feet to expand while running.


My new shoes!

I chose them because they make my feet feel supported and secure inside of them.

I chose them because they make me feel like I'm  walking on a cloud.  

I chose them because they are baby favorite color.

Since the food I put into my body will be as important as the shoes on my feet, I met with  my friend Dr. Larisa Gruer, Director of the European Institute for Natural Health.

She helped me comed up with a diet that would help me to build healthy muscle tissue while I train. 

"You want to vary your diet," she explained. "Like interval training, your body responds well to a variety of foods."


Asian pears with almonds. Quinoa with pumpkin, greek yogurt drizzled with organic honey.

Fresh berries sprinkled with cinnamon, Chicken curry and roasted potatoes.

My stomach growled in anticipation.  

Before heading out to Trader Joe's to stock up on supplies, she suggested a collection of mineral supplements that will keep imflammation low while still boosting my immunities.


When I left her office, my new shoes were putting an extra bounce in my step.

I felt fit and fine and hungry to begin.

TOUS Take Over!

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Irvine's Diamond Jamboree Center is one of Orange County's leading premier dining destinations, offering a plethora of international cuisine as well as a karaoke lounge, beauty & health stores, and medical services.
tous for mom cuff mothers day collection handbags
This  weekend, May 4-6, the center has the pleasure of hosting a TOUS Pop-Up Shop showcasing (and selling) the luxury brand's products and offering a Mother's Day Promotion: Spend $250 or more and receive either an iPhone case or any TOUS fragrance (maximum retail value: $59); which runs May 5-13, extending to all TOUS stores, and the South Coast Plaza Flagship store! As well, the first 50 customers each day will receive a goodie bag, and there are huge prize giveaways! 
  tous iphone case promo
Don't know what to get for your mom, grandma, sister, or aunt? Here's your chance to not only celebrate an internationally recognized and iconic brand, but also pick up something EXTRA  special for those lovely ladies in your life! 
Tous for Mom Pearl
TOUS is a luxury brand that sells jewelry, watches, handbags, fragrances and accessories for men, women and children. TOUS is famous for its widely recognized Bear symbol and for its celebrity spokesmodels, including actress/singer, Jennifer Lopez. I'll most likely be taking part in festivities on Sunday, so check out and details below and hope to see you there!
TOUS Popup Shop @ Diamond Jamboree
Friday-Sunday, May 4-6
2710 Alton Pkwy, Ste 105 (next to Tokyo Table), Irvine, CA 92606
10a.m. to 9p.m., Friday and Saturday; 11a.m. to 7p.m., Sunday 
· Live DJ music
· Light refreshments
· Goodie bag for first 50 customers (each day, Fri-Sun)
· Enter to win prize giveaway
· Shopping and Mother's Day gift with purchase 
 TOUS Prize Giveaway
TOUS and Diamond Jamboree will hold a prize giveaway featuring three, signature TOUS items. Anyone 18 years of age or older can enter online at or at the popup shop over the weekend. One winner will be selected for each of the three prize categories:
· 3rd prize - TOUS L'eau signature fragrance gift set ($95 retail value)
· 2nd prize - Signature TOUS Bear Black Pendant in Black Onyx/Sterling Silver ($169 retail value)
· 1st prize - TOUS KAOS Handbag ($359 retail value)
  tous prizes
At Popup Shop
Visit TOUS Popup Shop at Diamond Jamboree May 4-6, and enter your details at designated iPad kiosk.
Visit, then follow instructions to enter:No purchase necessary to win. Must be at least 18 years of age and must be able to claim prize from TOUS store in Costa Mesa, Calif. (3333 Bear Street, Suite 157 Costa Mesa, CA 92626, 714.668.1212 For complete contest rules, please visit the contest page on the Diamond Jamboree website at
*Image sources 1, 2 3
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