first pho king five

This weekend I ran my first 5k run. Well actually, I take that back. To say I ran the 5k would be too generous. I ended up only running a bit more than half of the route, and ended up walking the rest with a cramp in my shin. The sad thing is, I know that on a good day I could have run it without too much of a problem.

I signed up for the Oktobrewfest 5k run a little over a month ago. A couple of weeks back I realized that I should probably start training. A few years back, before I did most of my cardio on the bike, I had played around with the idea of running. Back then I bought all this cool stuff for running including an iPod touch and a Nike+ sensor. Unfortunately the battery in the sensor died, and so before I started training I bought a new sensor and a little pouch to attach the sensor to my shoe (I no longer wear Nike running shoes).


My goal for my first 5k was not ambitious at all. It was basically to not be the last person crossing the finish line. And so for my first training run I decided just to see if I could actually run the full three miles.


Up until that day, I had never really run much more than a mile, during which I’d always be thinking, “dahhhh…. why is this so hard?!?!” But I discovered something amazing. The first mile was still tough, but afterwards the next couple of miles seemed easier.


I thought maybe that day was a fluke. Maybe I had too much caffeine and so was super energetic or something. The next day I decided just to run for an hour or so, just to see if it was possible. Again I was amazed to find that, not only was it possible, it actually wasn’t all that bad. Maybe there’s something to this running thing after all. It burns a massive amount of calories, which means I can eat more.


I stupidly agreed to donate blood two weeks before the 5k, so for the next couple of days I couldn’t run or bike. My bro had left his motorcycle in Davis, so one of those nights I ended up riding my motorcycle with Sam. We decided to hit the levy road north of Knight’s Landing. I guess that wasn’t a great idea. I was pretty tired that night, so my night vision wasn’t all that great. But I figured it would be ok since there’s never really any traffic out there.

The levy portion of the ride went without incident. At the end of the levy run we descended onto a farm road. There was a turn with a 25mph limit sign and I felt like I was going too fast, so I hit the brakes. Before I knew what had happened, I had gone down in the shoulder. Sam was shouting through his helmet, asking if I was okay. I was okay, more pissed off than anything. If I hadn’t panicked I should have been able to make that turn.

I checked myself and the bike. I had banged up my knee, but I was able to walk so it didn’t seem like there was any major injury. The bike’s plastics were scratched and there was a small crack in one part, but there wasn’t any damage otherwise. But still we rode back carefully. I felt bad, my brother’s motorcycle was a real beauty, in pristine condition up until that point. I texted him about what had happened and told him that I would get him a new set of plastics. He replied with the usual Hong brother response, “Nah it’s cool… Don’t worry about it.”

Because I had banged my knee I pretty much stayed off of it until the day of the run. At the last second I decided to switch from my normal Vibram shoes to some old Nike shoes I had lying around, I figured that the thicker soles would cushion the impact and protect my knee better. Switching shoes at the last minute was a big mistake. My legs cramped up during the run and I ended up having to walk a big portion of it. Now I kind of want to sign up for another 5k or maybe even a 10k so that I can actually run the whole thing. Maybe before the next run I’ll get one of those arm band thingies so I can have my cellphone with me to take pictures during the run.

After the run we went to the Hoa Viet on Bradshaw to try the Pho King Challenge. Two pounds of noodles and two pounds of meat in one hour– I was like 99% sure that I wouldn’t be able to finish it, but I was thinking that Jason would have a shot at it.


It’s no joke– they make you sign a waiver before you attempt the challenge.


It doesn’t really show from the picture, but the bowl was huge. Big enough to bathe a small dog or baby in…


Gid and Jiro got the challenge bowls too, but they sorta just leisurely enjoyed their pho.


Jason on the other hand, was all business. His strategy was to transfer all the noodles into a separate bowl to prevent them from absorbing too much broth.


My strategy was sort of like Jason’s. I transferred a bit to a plate and ate off of that, mostly because the huge bowl was too hot to eat out of. With a little over 20 minutes left, it seemed like I was starting to get close to the finish. I fished out all the noodles and meat from the bowl and transferred it to the plate one final time. Our waiters thought that I was going to finish it with ease, but by that point I hit a wall and couldn’t eat anymore. I waited a few minutes and took a few bites of meat but ended up spitting them out. I had hit a wall and couldn’t eat anymore. Everything tasted disgusting by then, so by then I pretty much gave up. With a few minutes left I gave one last effort, taking in one more bite, but that too I had to spit out.


If I could’ve finished the bowl I would’ve gotten the meal for free, along with a free t-shirt and a picture on the wall of fame. Since none of us finished the damage to our wallets was about $25 per person. That’s actually not too bad. (But now that I think about it, I got a little gypped because I mostly ate noodles and the remaining food was mostly meat.) The damage to our gastrointestinal tracts? Well that’s harder to quantify. But I think with this one loss in one attempt I am going to announce my retirement from eating challenges so there hopefully won’t be too much damage in the future…

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