#16 See a Broadway Show

31 Dec


Once again, I’m a little bit behind…this past July my mom and I took an epic trip to New York. It was an action-packed six days of Big Apple fun. We went to the Empire State Building…


the 9/11 Memorial



rode bikes in Central Park…


bought tons of bags on Canal Street…


had an amazing 4-hour dinner on the Upper East Side at Philippe’s


got massages at Bliss (they frown on you taking pics at the spa)…


had lunch with the East Coast cousins (there are a couple who snuck away before the photo opp, but it was a big group)…


shopped on Broadway…


took a boat tour by the Statue of Liberty (thanks to cousin Zach)…



navigated the subway system without getting lost…


walked through the world’s largest store (Macy’s Herald Square)…


went to the locals restaurant at Eataly (Birreria)…


and most importantly we saw a Broadway (Book of Mormon) and Off-Broadway play (Avenue Q).

My mom and I had talked about going on a girls trip to New York for a while, but with most things that take a lot of planning, it was still just more of an idea. That was until I got an interesting email from Virgin America. The email said I had entered a contest and won two round trip tickets to anywhere they fly. I was suspicious because it sounded like a scam, but after some research I found that it was indeed true. So with that, we started the planning and before you know it, the trip was on the books.

My mom is very familiar with my 40’s list and wanted to help me check something off, so she asked me pick a Broadway show to see while we were in town. After some online research and consulting with friends, everyone said Book of Mormon was the one to see, so we bought tickets and added it to the itinerary (which was quickly filling up).


We took off to New York from LA on Thursday, July 12, and quickly got started with our sight-seeing.


Saturday, July 14 (day 3), was the big day. The evening started with cocktails at our hotel’s rooftop bar.


We were a little early for the club-like set up of the place…at 6:30 p.m. we were the only ones there….but we didn’t care. The view was amazing, the drinks were great and we were off for an amazing night at the theater. We were in for a big night, not only because it was my first time seeing a play on Broadway, but also because earlier in the day my awesome cousin (Paul) and his girlfriend (Anna) had arranged for us to go backstage after the show. Talk about a great introduction to Broadway!




At 8 p.m. the theater was full and we were ready to go. I was actually really surprised by how small the theater was. I expected something like the Pantages in LA, but it was actually pretty small and intimate. All that time we had spent figuring out where the best seats were was sort of a waste. There are really no bad seats at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre.


The show was amazing! From start to finish, we were entertained, laughing out loud and tapping our feet along to the songs. Afterwards, we tried to take a picture of the set and were stopped by an usher. Haha…little did she know that we were about to go backstage and take photos of every costume and set we wanted (we showed her!).

We went outside to meet my cousin and his girlfriend, and the four of us were escorted through the side entrance and led backstage. We felt like such VIPs. 🙂 Once inside we stepped on the stage for a photo opp and some background on the show.



I know I should have been paying closer attention and taking very copious notes for this blog post, but I was distracted. We were on the exact same stage the amazing show we had just seen was performed on. Maybe it was ADD, maybe I was reliving my days as a drama “star”…

1994 Wizard of Oz 9

1994 Wizard of Oz 2

…but unfortunately all I have in my notes to share is “550 shows, 25 bts.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, so feel free to interpret as you wish. 🙂

From there, our guide took us off the other side of the stage, back into the dressing rooms to see all the costumes, and downstairs to see all the controls and set pulleys.



What stood out most to me about the tour was how small the backstage area was. This play had a pretty decent sized cast with multiple costume changes, so to imagine them all back there trying to make all their cues just seemed crazy. Very impressive!

After the tour was over, the four of us finished the evening with a nightcap….of Junior’s Most Fabulous Cheesecake and Desserts! And let me tell you…it was amazing!

It was an unforgettable night. The play was fantastic; the VIP experience, incredible; and the company, unbeatable. (We had so much fun that we bought tickets to Avenue Q the next day!)


**Note: This is just a single piece of one of the most fun vacations I have ever been on. Having the opportunity to spend that week with my mom filled with girly experiences and touristy outings created memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am so lucky to have found a best friend in my mom. Love you mom.


#4 In a Nutshell – The Cycle Project’s First News Article

7 Jul

The Cycle Project's First News Article

Check out this article I coordinated for our team in the Santa Monica Mirror. It took some serious work, but I’m glad I could help promote the mission of our team. 🙂

#4 Run a 10K/Do a Triathlon – Part 3 (The Big Day)

13 Jun

I DID IT!!!!!

After nearly four months of training, and nearly four hours of pushing myself harder physically than I probably ever have before, I can proudly call myself a triathlete.

I had been preparing for this day for so long and then it snuck up on me so quickly I could hardly believe it. It was Saturday, June 9…the Saturday before the race…a Saturday I had been thinking about for months. My parents came into town to meet me for lunch and help with any last-minute preparations. (sidenote: I probably have the best parents EVER! They drove all the way down on Saturday, just to watch me compete on Sunday and then drive all the way back. Pretty awesome!) After helping me make decorate my team color themed cupcakes (orange cupcakes with blue dots and a blueberry cream cheese frosting…forgot to take a pic), my parents went on their way up to their hotel in San Dimas. They were meeting even more members of my family – Uncle Nick, Aunt Colleen, Uncle Rick, Papa and Step-grandma Alice – who had driven from Arizona and Orange County to support me as well.

We had a final team dinner at Coach Mychael’s house and then it was off to bed around 9 p.m.

Fortunately, I was able to fall asleep and in the blink of an eye it was race day. My alarm went off at 4 a.m. and I popped out of bed and started getting ready. I had already packed most of my stuff in my car the night before because I definitely cannot be counted on to be 100% on top of things at an hour of the morning I’ve seen more frequently from staying up rather than waking up.  I loaded mine and my friend Jamie’s bikes onto my car and was on my way by 4:45 a.m.

I picked Jamie up at the hotel (the same hotel where my family was still sound asleep in their beds) where we also met Kristin and we headed off the the start line. We all arrived pretty early – at the instruction of our coach – so we would have plenty of time to get a good spot on the bike racks and get settled before the race (and take silly photos of course).

Up until this point I hadn’t been very nervous. I guess the type-A planner in me was just concerned with gathering all my stuff and arriving on time. But once we arrived and started unloading the nerves set in…I had butterflies in my stomach and had to pee every two minutes! There was no turning back at this point though.

I have to say, I wasn’t that enthused originally when I heard we would be wearing orange and blue as our team colors, but we looked damn good when we were all together as a team. We, by far, had the strongest showing….or at least the brightest!

When we arrived just before 6 a.m. I thought we had so much time before the start of the race, but man, was that the fastest two hours of my life! Before I knew it, we were standing down by the water in our wetsuits getting ready to go. It went by so fast that Jamie, Kristin and I almost missed the start. At the urging of our coach we ran down to the water with just about 30 seconds before the start of our heat. In retrospect I think that was probably a good thing because it didn’t give me much time to freak out.

A few words of encouragement between the three of us and it was time to go! We positioned ourselves on the outside to try and avoid getting kicked in the face or pushed under water. I mean, I am a little bit sportier now, but I’m still the prissy girl I always was. The swim was 1.5K, or for the people reading this from the U.S., nearly a mile. 

The water in this lake is really murky, so you really can’t see anything at all…not until it is one foot in front of your face, that is. Between that and all the people around, I freaked out a little bit at first. It wasn’t a conscious freak out, but I just lost my breath a little bit. I was able to get it together though and keep going. One of the hardest parts of the swim is going straight since you can’t see anything. And now with people zig-zagging back and forth it was like a regular obstacle course. I kept going though and  before you know it, I was heading toward the finish.

I ran out of the water and heard the recognizable cheers of my family. I looked up to the left and there they were, sitting on the embankment cheering with their orange shirts and orange and blue bells. That definitely put a smile on my face.

I ran over to the transition area tearing off my wetsuit on the way, changed into my cycling gear and headed out for part 2 of the race. The bike ride consisted of 3 laps totalling 39.5 K (nearly 25 miles). We had practiced the course the week before, so I knew what to expect and felt pretty confident. After all, it wasn’t nearly as difficult as the torturous hills our coach had been making us climb for training a couple of weeks prior.

That was until about half-way into the first lap (20 minutes) when I noticed my bike felt kind of weird. I looked down to see what was going on and saw I had a flat tire. OH NO!!! My very first flat tire! How could this be happening now? I had been on how many training rides and everything had been fine, and now on this big, important day I had been training for, I get a flat.

I hopped off my bike and took off the back tire (the more difficult of the two to change of course). And as I was sitting on the ground, messing with the tire and contemplating whether or not I would be able to do this, a man in a U-Haul truck stopped and asked if I needed help. Turns out, Chip actually worked with the race and had been the one to put it on for a number of years. He fixed my flat for me and I was once again on my way.

I have to say though, that whole ordeal was pretty discouraging. I’m not the fastest to begin with and now I had lost about 20 minutes (which felt like 2 hours) to a flat tire. I kept going though. And my family was right there cheering me on. Even when they were the last ones left out on the road they were still the most enthusiastic cheerleaders ever…ringing their bells, waving their hands in the air, yelling my name…it was definitely encouraging.

After the three laps I rode back to the transition area, switched into my running shoes and started on the 10K (6.2 mile) run. Now, this is my strongest area of the three, so I figured I’d be able to make up some of that time I lost. The really hard part was that for the first half mile, I didn’t even see anyone in front of me. I kept at it though and found some people. One by one I set goals to pass each person in front of me. It was good to feel like I was really competing again.

And in no time, the finish was in my sights. Not only did I see the finish arch, but I saw TONS of orange! It was a sea of orange t-shirt wearing family members and orange spandex wearing teammates. Even the announcer said, “sounds like you’ve got a lot of support here.” And that I did.

Crossing that finish line was such a sense of accomplishment. And it was so great to have my family right there waiting for me.

Everything I had been training for and all the work I had been putting in led to that moment. And let me tell you, it was all worth it.

Our friends and family shared in a celebration BBQ with us after the race, which was a great way to end the day and take in all we had accomplished.

Quick shout-out to Coach Mychael for coming in first in his age group and first-time triathlete Jamie for coming in third in hers!

I think I can safely check “run a 10K” off my list now because, not only did I run it, but that was after a nearly 1 mile swim and 25 mile bike ride!

Congratulations to the entire Cycle Project team! – Adriana Bekeris Jamet, Bridget Gonzales, Elisa Valdez, Jamie Thibault, Joe Oliveira, Karen Eiler, Kristi Gehring, Kristin Finkle, Micah Michalski, Mychael Shannon, Nicole Okoneski, Rob Jones, Rob Sneckenberg, Silvana Perolini and Tracy Yen.

I can definitely say that I will do another triathlon…not only because I need to beat the flat tire jinx, but also because I enjoyed it so much. From the training, to the friends I made along the way, to the feeling of achieving a goal, to knowing how proud my family is, this was such an amazing experience.

Get ready Malibu Tri…here I come! Want to join our team? Check it out here.

#4 Run a 10K/Do a Triathlon – Part 2 (Training)

9 Jun

With the decision to do the triathlon to support The Cycle Project behind me, it was time to start training. Training for me started with swimming. As I mentioned, I hadn’t swam since I was a little kid. I mean, I could swim from point A to point B and not drown, but there was definitely no form involved.

Our coach hooked us up with Mikey Flaherty who runs a program called Swim with Heart. Mikey was starting a Masters team and needed some people to help get it going. Now contrary to how that sounds, you don’t have to be a “master” at swimming to participate.

On the first day of practice Jamie Thibault, Kristin Finkle, her neighbor Heather and I showed up nervous, but ready to go. The only problem was that we were an hour late. Thankfully, another group let us join in on their practice though. This was however, one of the most challenging workouts of my life. Not only did I have no form at all…I couldn’t breathe! And let me tell you, it’s pretty difficult to work on your form when it feels like you’re going to drown from lack of oxygen. I specifically remember calling my parents after that practice and telling them, “wow! I really suck at swimming!”

I was determined to do it though, so I started going to practice four times a week and eventually I got the hang of it. Now, I’m still no Michael Phelps, or Mychael Shannon, or Mikey Flaherty (why are all the good simmers named Michael???), but I can do it.

Simultaneously, I had a second sport to pick up…cycling. I have handled the PR for a couple of big cycling races over the past six years and always thought it was an amazing and interesting sport, but it wasn’t until this new goal that I decided to take it up.

Fortunately, through my friends at Specialized I was able to get some advice on which bike to get. For the first couple of months I kept on the platform pedals (for the non-cyclists out there, those are the standard pedals that are on your beach cruiser), but after I started feeling comfortable I decided to step it up and clip in (this is what the pros do; essentially your feet are attached to the pedals).

The running part wasn’t as much of a concern for me because it’s the only one I had actually done before and I’m not half-bad at it.

Needless to say, my social life was starting to go out the window at this point. With swim practice four times a week, two runs, two bike rides and bootcamp three days a week, I was starting to feel like a real athlete. And after a while I didn’t mind that my bar nights were being replaced with early morning workouts. As a matter of fact, I was actually starting to really enjoy it.

As the official registration date began approaching we would have to make a decision – would we do the sprint distance or the Olympic? When I started training, my goal was very clearly the sprint, but over time I built more confidence, so now I was on the fence about which one to do. After a few weeks of consideration, a little push from our coach, and many, many conversations with Kristin and Jamie, we decided to all do the Olympic.

Man, was I crazy? A couple months ago I couldn’t even swim and now I’m going to do an Olympic distance triathlon?!?! So, now you can understand why I’m able to check the “run a 10K” off my list with this triathlon. Not only will I be running a 10K, but that will be after nearly a mile swim and a 25 mile bike ride!

The trainings started out with 30 minute runs and 10 mile bike rides, but they began to increase as we got closer to the race. We were doing brick workouts (two sports back-to-back; so biking and then immediately going for a run) almost every weekend. The awesome part though was that I felt myself getting stronger and as the trainings grew more difficult and longer, I was able to keep up.

I even got the opportunity to do a training ride with my dad during the Amgen Tour of California. It was pretty cool to be able to share that experience with him (especially considering I’ve never been very sporty).

Toward the end we did some pretty gnarly hill repeats. Yes, repeats. We went up and down the same hill multiple times on our bikes and running. I know…it sounds crazy!

For our final group training last weekend, we went out to San Dimas and tested out the actual course.

I felt really confident on the bike and with the run, but swimming in the lake brought a new challenge of not being able to see clearly. We practiced though and got ourselves ready for the big day.

Through it all, I think everyone on our team would say that we’ve grown stronger, more confident in ourselves and found something that we all really love to do. And one of the best parts of all is the new friends we’ve picked up along the way (I can be cheesy for a moment!).

It’s now the night before the triathlon. We just had our last team dinner, packed up all our tri gear, laid out the awesome outfits we’ll be wearing tomorrow and are heading to bed. Wish me luck!

#4 Run a 10K – Part 1 (The Decision)

6 Jun

Once again, this blog post is long overdue, but I think I’ve just accepted that posting in a timely fashion is not my strong suit. 🙂

When I set the goal to complete a 10K last August I hadn’t ever run in a competitive race, but under the influence of Heidi Loera, I ran my first 5K on Dec. 11. It wasn’t that bad and I actually did a lot better than I expected.

I liked it so much I signed up for another one soon after in January. Right around the same time, my trainer (Mychael Shannon) started trying to convince me and the rest of his clients that we should join the triathlon team he was forming. The team would be comprised of beginners and would raise awareness and funds for his charity, The Cycle Project, which aims to fight childhood obesity.

At first I thought he was crazy! I mean, my longest, most competitive race was a 5K in Playa del Rey. How in the world would I swim, bike and run all in one race???

Over the course of the next couple weeks, Mychael, my workout buddy Jamie Thibault and I talked about the tri every morning at bootcamp. We discussed it so much and I asked so many questions that what had never been a goal of mine started to feel like one. And with that, on Feb. 22, I finally broke down and joined the team.

Now that I had made the commitment, I had to start physically and, maybe even more importantly, mentally preparing for this challenge…especially considering I hadn’t swam since I was probably 7 and didn’t own a road bike.

Put on by TriEvents, the triathlon our coach wanted us to do was in San Dimas and featured two distances. The first distance (the one I agreed to do) featured a 300 meter swim, 13.3K bike ride and 5K run. The second included a 1.5K swim, a 39.5K bike ride and 10K run, which seemed insane!

I figured that if I put my mind to it I could accomplish anything, so I got a sexy Speedo bathing suit and an awesome Specialized bike, and started joining the practices. Hopefully, I would be ready in time…

#26 Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge

5 Mar

Well, I guess I’m failing at my New Year’s resolution (post to my blog right after completing an experience) because I actually checked this one off over Christmas break…oops.

My mom used my list to get ideas for Christmas presents and also for ideas of things to do while I was at home for the week in between Christmas and New Year’s. We kept busy the whole time I was home with one activity after another, which was fantastic!

One day we decided it would be fun to drive to San Francisco and check number 26 off the list. My mom and I got up early, hopped in the car and made our way to the City by the Bay. Two hours later we had found a secret parking area, bundled up in our winter coats and were all set to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.

It should be noted that when I put this on my list I thought this was a big undertaking, but come to find out that the bridge is only 1.7 miles long and everyone from toddlers to grandparents walk across it. Regardless, we set out to cross the bridge.

After stopping for a ton of photos and dodging bikes and slow pedestrians, we reached the Marin County Line sign, meaning we were officially leaving San Francisco.

When we reached the other side, we headed up to the viewing platform to get a few more photos. 🙂

And check our BlackBerry’s. 🙂

After the little rest, we made our way back across the bridge and encountered this very helpful sign.

Once safely back on the San Francisco side, we contemplating buying these t-shirts, but then decided a photo would suffice.

Some fun facts I learned during our trip:

  • Length of main span – 4,200 ft.
  • Length of one cable – 7,650 ft.
  • Diameter of one cable – 36 3/8 in.
  • Number of wires in one cable – 27,572
  • Total wire used – 80,000 miles
  • Weight of cable – 24,500 tons
  • Height of towers above water – 746 ft.
  • Depth of tower piers below water – 110 ft.

If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco I highly recommend this outing. It’s something everyone can enjoy while getting great views of the city and experiencing one of the California’s most iconic structures.

Thanks for the awesome day mom!

#22 Buy a New Car

2 Jan

I’ll preface this one by saying that I think my new year’s resolution needs to be posting to my blog in a more timely fashion because I officially checked this one off the list on Halloween, but better late than never, right?

The search for a new car has been a gradual, ongoing one for a while now. I’ve known that my Passat wasn’t going to last for much longer and that was confirmed when I took it into the mechanic to get the timing belt replaced. He let me know some plastic thingy that goes over the wheels was cracked and would cost $1,000 to replace. With that knowledge, the search became a bit more serious.

I enlisted the help of my dad who is WAY more into cars in general than me (plus, car shopping really is a boy job…).  Initially I thought I wanted a smaller SUV like the Toyota RAV4, but after seeing one pull up at a stoplight next to the 4Runner, I decided that car just looked a little bit funny and wasn’t cool enough for me. 🙂

It was my dad who actually told me to start looking at the Lexus IS250, so I did some research and decided to focus on that and the Lexus RX350. Very different cars, but both were appealing to me for different reasons. From the looks of the used car inventory online, it seemed like the Lexus dealership in Torrance would be a good place to start…WRONG! I went to the dealership by myself, which was honestly pretty intimidating. I was definitely out of my element, but being the strong, independent woman I am, I went for it. After walking around the dealership for a good 20 minutes without a single person even so much as telling me they’d be with me shortly, I was frustrated and left. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to do this on my own…

I wasn’t going to give up that easily though, so a couple weeks later, I stopped by the dealership in Santa Monica. Wow, was that a different experience! I was greeted the moment I walked in the door, offered coffee and cookies and immediately assigned a salesperson. Neal was a nice guy that definitely knew everything there is to know about Lexus’. We test drove both the car and the SUV, but I still couldn’t make up my mind. To help me out, the manager let me borrow the brand new RX350 for a day. I was amazed that they were putting this much faith in me…and petrified that I would scratch it or hit something! After driving it for a day, I really loved it, but decided that I would be more comfortable in the car.

I now had to decide if I wanted to buy a used car or lease a new one. Everyone in my family has always bought used cars, so that’s what I am more comfortable with, but after hearing Neal out, I could see the benefits of leasing as well. I found a couple of used cars that I wanted to check out before making my decision, so I grabbed a couple of my friends – Gian and Logan – the next weekend and went to go check out the options. I figured with two boys by my side, I would get some respect at the dealerships.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to find the perfect match. The one at CarMax was dirty and they don’t negotiate at all on the price (who knew!). And the other one was priced too high and they wouldn’t negotiate as much as I wanted. So, I headed back home empty handed and a little bit discouraged. Part of the problem was that thanks to all the research my dad and I had done, I knew exactly what I wanted – a white IS250 with tan leather interior and navigation. At this point I had decided I wanted to buy, not lease, and it was proving difficult to find exactly the car I had in mind.

Everything changed though on Halloween. I got a call from Neal at the Santa Monica dealership letting me know he had my car. He told me I needed to head over right away. Thankfully since Halloween was on a Monday, I didn’t have any plans, so I hopped in my car and drove to the dealership. I really wanted to see the car and see how much they would negotiate since it was the last day of the month, but I had absolutely no intention of buying a car. I figured I would wait until my dad was in town the next weekend, so he could help me with the negotiation part.

I met up with Neal and he took me across the street to the used car lot…the moment I saw it I knew it was the one. It was everything I had been looking for. We took it for a quick test drive and starting talking price. It didn’t take long to get to a price I was completely comfortable with, but I had promised my dad I wouldn’t sign anything. I stepped away to quickly give him a call and get his advice and surprisingly he told me to go for it. With that and a solid hour of paperwork the car was mine.

It was such an amazing experience. I have been a pretty independent person for quite a while, but this was one of the most empowering and liberating things I have ever done. I bought a car all on my own!

The following weekend my parents came down to visit…they had intended to help me find a car, but instead they helped me sell my old one. I was just going to sell it to CarMax, but my dad was able to find a buyer on Craig’s List who was willing to pay twice as much! Sold!

I have had my car for two months now and it is perfect! It has all the features a person could ever want…including a back-up camera. And best of all, I don’t have to worry about it breaking. I couldn’t be happier.

%d bloggers like this: