new orleans 2014

Feb 26th 2014 01:19:06 pm

Jackson Square, New Orleans

I was really looking forward to our trip to New Orleans earlier this month. I had so much fun visiting the “Big Easy” with my brother Seth in 2012, I was eager to go back. The history, culture, and food in New Orleans is so unique and exciting… but the trip didn’t quite live up to my high expectations.

Cafe du Monde, New Orleans

The bummer stuff:

We really had a perfectly fine trip, but there were some things that brought the experience down a bit…

  • We had a few good sunny days, but mostly we had a lot of foggy, overcast weather.
  • I’ll give more details below, but my Half Marathon was really tough! I had wanted to run hard for this race since it was my official winter Team in Training event, but I couldn’t get my pace up and I felt sluggish the whole time. I was also inexplicably REALLY sore after the race.
  • I rolled my ankle pretty badly while walking around the day after the race. It is still a little swollen.
  • Our trip was longer than planned, March 30th to February 5th — a full week!! Our flight home was cancelled on Tuesday and so we ended up staying an extra day. But then the flight was delayed multiple times on Wednesday, which basically wasted the whole day. I tried to enjoy the extra time, but I was very ready to be home!
  • We didn’t take any tours or go to any museums. I love the history of New Orleans and didn’t feel as immersed in it this trip.

nolatravis

So, nothing too terrible happened… I got to spend a lot of quality time with Travis and hang out with many of our good friends. Plus, we WERE there to run a race with Team in Training, so that was the main focus. Here is my overview of the race…

neworleanshalf

New Orleans Rock N Roll Half Marathon:

Rock N Roll races are large, well-organized events and New Orleans was no different. (I’ve run the Rock N Roll marathon in San Diego twice.) The race started near Lafayette Square near our hotel in the Central Business district.

The temperature in the 50s was perfect, but it was extremely foggy!! It might have been the foggiest race I’ve run, even more so than the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco when we couldn’t see the Golden Gate Bridge! The air felt a little thick and humid, and it was hard to see the lovely scenery as we ran through the mansions of the Garden District and the streets of the French Quarter. You couldn’t even see the cathedral across Jackson Square! It was intense.

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I woke up cranky, but I tried to feel confident for the first three miles. I thought maybe my sluggish legs would shake themselves out, but it didn’t happen. The course was completely flat, but I still struggled through the whole race. I ran alone the entire time and sprinted the end only because I wanted to be done. It was overcast and cold by the time the race ended, but we received two medals — a beaded one for the race and an extra one for doing it with a charity organization — and my 20th official Half Marathon was completed!

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The finish area was in City Park. It was a little muddy and crowded, but they gave out lots of great food (including chocolate milk) and the Team in Training tent was stocked with goodies. I met Travis (he PRd!) and lots of my friends (Hi, Brian! Hi, Jess!) on the sidelines and we waited to cheer in our full marathoners. Travis and I waited until our friend Nate finished (with a PR!) and then headed back to our hotel.

I was exhausted after the race and must not have been good about replacing my electrolytes. I was too wiped out to enjoy our team victory party or to watch the Super Bowl with the team, but Travis and I did manage to go out to dinner at Sylvain’s which revived me a bit.

Second only to our fun friends and awesome Brooklyn team, the food was the best part of the trip!!

Acme Oyster House, New Orleans

Restaurants:

New Orleans food is heavy and rich — lots of fried food, seafood, and meat — but it is delicious. I would recommend all of these restaurants we tried…

nolamuffeleta

Cafe Du Monde – The classic breakfast place for beignets and coffee. Open 24 hours!! I really like their coffee. A lot. Get the frozen cafe au lait.

Cochon – My favorite! Lots of meat. We ate a fabulous dinner with friends at the “sit down” restaurant and ordered just about everything. (I loved the fried alligator!) Then, Travis and I also got amazing sandwiches for lunch one day at the Cochon Butcher next door. I ordered the muffuletta, which was nearly as good as the original from Central Grocery…

Central Grocery – Grab a giant muffuletta sandwich and Zapp’s chips to go at this French Quarter store front and eat them in Jackson Square or on the water front. It is the best sandwich I have ever eaten. Seriously. I dream about it.

Sylvain’s – Sort of fancy “new southern.” I had a tiny quail. It was delicious.

Elizabeth’s – A New Orleans MUST with a relaxed, slightly hipster atmosphere. Go for brunch. Get the best bloody mary ever and the praline bacon.

nolaelizabeths

Court of the Two Sisters – We went for the all you-can-eat Jazz Brunch. It was plenty good with tons of options, but a little pricey and very touristy.

Acme Oyster House – Fresh oysters, charbroiled oysters, fried oysters – I tried them all! And Travis said this was his favorite po’boy of the trip. You almost always have to wait in line for a table at the French Quarter location, but it is fun and worth it.

Mother’s – Classic southern comfort food. You might have to wait in line, but the tables turn over really fast in this large, totally casual, 80-year-old restaurant. Get a po’boy with “debris” or the jambalaya or the baked ham.

Magasin Cafe – There is a very large Vietnamese population in New Orleans, so there are many restaurant options for delicious pho, and banh mi, and spring rolls. Travis and I chose Magasin on the suggestion of a friend and we loved it. It’s a great spot to eat after walking around the mansions of the Garden District and the shops on Magazine Street.

Sucre – My favorite New Orleans bakery with my favorite King Cake. (FYI: You can get the cakes delivered anywhere in the US!) Travis loved it and we visited Sucre three times during the trip! Wow.

nolakindcake

Other fun New Orleans stuff:

Food really was the highlight of the trip, but we managed to fit in some other fun stuff. Riding the street car from the French Quarter over to the Garden District was fun and easy. Once there, we walked around checking out the pretty mansions and the fascinating cemeteries. Of course, strolling through the French Quarter is a MUST. We walked down Bourbon Street and I stopped in Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo. (Travis thought it was a little too spooky.) I think a photo op in Jackson Square is a requirement of every Nola trip, and a stroll through the french market near the river front is great for souvenir hunting. The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone is a fun evening stop. I had a milk punch — pretty tasty! We had the opportunity to visit with our friend Amanda’s cousin at his beautiful home near Lake Pontchartrain one evening, which was delightful. I would definitely recommend getting out of the city center if possible and talking with some locals. It is amazing to hear how the city has come back after Hurricane Katrina.

nolamasks

Overall, it was a good trip and I’d totally recommend visiting New Orleans to anyone. But just like anywhere else, things could not go as planned, so it is helpful to stay flexible… and maybe not have TOO high of expectations. I think that was my major downfall this trip. Maybe some day I’ll go back and JUST visit every museum in the city!

Jackson Square, New Orleans

Check out all 100+ photos from New Orleans on Flickr.

1 Comment » Categories: Food, Friends, running, Travel, Travis

bermuda 2014

Jan 26th 2014 02:09:05 pm

bermuda_wave

It is snowing and nineteen degrees in Brooklyn today and I am really missing Bermuda! Turquoise water + pink sand + sun = a welcome combination in the middle of a NY winter.

bermuda_couple

Travis and I took our second trip to Bermuda last weekend. We took our first trip to the Atlantic Ocean island last year to run the Bermuda Triangle Challenge, and we returned for the same reason… and because it is such an easy trip!

Bermuda is just a two-hour flight from NYC. Since it is the off-season, plane tickets are cheap and we split a hotel room with two other friends. So, overall, a relatively inexpensive and quick island adventure!

bermuda_rachel

We stayed at the Fairmont Southampton hotel again. The hotel is across the bay from the main city of Hamilton, but it is right near the most spectacular beach on the island, Horseshoe Bay. (Rated the #8 beach in the world!) It also happened to be the team hotel for our New York City Team in Training Chapter.

bermuda_privatecove

Travis and I are a mentor and social captain for our Brooklyn TNT group and even though the New Orleans Rock N Roll Half Marathon next weekend is our official winter season event, we couldn’t pass up going to Bermuda with the Team, too. It was a much smaller TNT group than last year, but we still had a wonderful time.

bermuda_team

We got in late on Thursday night, ordered room service, and hung out with our BK roommates and friends. (Hi Joel, Amanda, Roshan, and Jon!) Friday was overcast, but we still made it to the beach. We checked out the private cove, saw the parrot fish, climbed some rocks, and checked out the beach cave. It was too cold for swimming, but we waded in the water a bit.

Then, we headed into town for the first event of the Triangle Challenge, the Front Street Mile! I ran the mile slightly faster than last year, with a finish time of 8:35. Not too speedy, but I haven’t been doing any speed training this season, so it serves me right. After, we hung around and watched all of the mile races, from the kids to the elites. It was a fun and exciting parade atmosphere in Hamilton, with everyone out on Front Street to spectate.

bermuda_10kjump

Saturday we got up early for the 10k. It was raining. Boo. I was cranky. I was worried about the success of the weekend when we arrived at the race start and our tiny Team was all huddled under a tent trying to stay dry. But everyone brought their PMAs (positive mental attitudes) and headed out in the rain to tackle 6 miles of hills. Despite the rain, everyone was thrilled to finish their race and I was feeling much more positive after – as evidenced by this epic jump shot!

It rained and rained and rained all day on Saturday. We basically napped the day away before heading to the Team inspiration dinner. Our friend and teammate, Shelly, told her story of how she has been living with leukemia for nearly 10 years. She is so sweet, and funny, and inspiring. It was a wonderful evening.

bermuda_swing

The weather was MUCH better for the half marathon – a little overcast and cool. I ran the race nice and easy with my friend Jon. We goofed off with our teammates, stopped for some swinging and some beer, and I managed to take a few photos. I felt really strong and steady for the whole race and I look forward to pushing it a bit harder next week in NOLA.

bermuda_finishline

After the race, we ate at Travis’ favorite restaurant, Bouchee, and rode the water ferry back to our hotel. A successful morning followed by a successful evening of celebrating with our friends and teammates! We even made it to the hotel pool and hot tub!

bermuda_beachlegs

Monday was our perfect, sunny beach day. We only had a few hours to enjoy it before heading to the airport, but we took full advantage. We headed to Horseshoe Bay, sunbathed, swam in the ocean, took lots of photos, and basically tried to soak up all of the Bermuda we could before heading home to Brooklyn. We couldn’t have asked for a better end to the trip.

bermuda_pinksand

Bermuda was such a quick, little trip, but it is so wonderful to get to spend time with Travis away from work and our normal, day-to-day life. We really love our life in the city, but taking breaks now and then for travel is really fun. And worth the expense, I think. We are currently saving up for our next big adventure… Stay tuned!

bermuda_travis

See all of my photos from Bermuda here.

No Comments » Categories: Friends, running, Team In Training, Travel, Travis

goodbye, 2013!

Dec 31st 2013 12:45:25 pm

2013

Happy New Year’s Eve!! Another year down.

2013 wasn’t the year I was expecting, but I had a lot of good times and made some excellent memories. I have more big plans for 2014 and can’t wait to get started on them!

…but for now, here are some of my favorite blog posts from the past year:

January
My word for 2013 was sweetness, but it could have been RUN! The year started off with running… Travis and I ran the Goofy Challenge and the Bermuda Triangle Challenge back to back.

February
My birthday! I ran another marathon (my 8th!) and lost someone special to me.

March
Not much happened in March…

April
In April, I did a craft project.

May
Lots of running in May. Many half marathons and a few trail races.

June
I traveled in June, to Kansas to run the Color Run with the fam and to Portland to see Adam and Nina.

July
July was busy! Stephanie and Bill visited New York, I continued my Summer Run Streak, Travis and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary and went on a big date, and we ran the Boilermaker.

August
In August, I went camping, ate some cronuts, attended Blogshop, and did more running.

September
I was digging navy blue in September. I also finished my 101-day Run Streak and Reached the Beach.

October
October brought a sweet wedding, my dad’s first half marathon, and my fastest 5k – all in one big update.

November
Travis ran the NYC Marathon in November and the helped me run my fastest marathon ever in Brooklyn. Plus, Friendsgiving!

December
Travis got Lasik this month and we had a relaxing and lovely Christmas together in Brooklyn.

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Travis and I are celebrating tonight with friends at a big prom party (a lot like last year!) What are your plans???

No Comments » Categories: Family, Friends, holidays, Online Life, running, Travis

friends-giving

Dec 4th 2013 08:02:33 pm

friendsgiving

Am I a control freak? I am starting to admit it to myself… but I hope that is not how my friends thought of me on Thanksgiving.

I just REALLY like making a turkey. And I LOVE hosting events at my place. So, I am very THANKFUL that my friends put up with me and were willing to come over for a Friends-giving feast!

I am grateful every day for the people we have met in Brooklyn. I wouldn’t have survived in this city without them.

friendsgiving2

Everything I made for our dinner was super-simple and traditional. I roasted the turkey with just some butter rubbed on the skin and some veggies, herbs, and lemon stuffed inside. The gravy made from the pan drippings was amazing. I also made simple bread stuffing, sautéed brussels sprouts, traditional cranberry sauce from scratch, an apple pie with a sugar crumb topping, and a chocolate pecan pie. Travis made the mashed potatoes. Daniel brought a Puerto Rican stuffing with plantains and homemade coquito. Karelle made spicy sweet potatoes. Amanda brought bread and cheese. Suzy brought wine and chocolate. Everything was delicious. We all ate a lot and laughed a lot!

I think this was my best Thanksgiving meal attempt yet. Practice makes perfect! Plus, I think I did a good job of prepping a lot in advance. The only thing that didn’t really turn out was the chocolate pecan pie. It was my first time making it and I think I over-cooked it. The baked brie and mulled apple cider were hits for appetizers, but my apricot cheese bites weren’t very popular.

turkey

Overall, I declare Friends-giving a success! I just wish it could have lasted longer and I could have eaten more…

Travis and I had two good meals from the left overs. Plus, I made stock from scratch and soup out of the leftover turkey. There is still plenty of soup in the fridge!

Now, I am working on my plan for my next holiday get together…

crusherturkey

Crusher wants more turkey!

How was your Thanksgiving??

(Almost all of the photos in this post were taken by my friend Amanda. You can see more of her and my Friends-giving photos in my Flickr set.)

1 Comment » Categories: Brooklyn, Food, Friends, holidays

thanksgiving countdown

Nov 26th 2013 03:08:14 pm

tdayprep

I really love Thanksgiving. I love roasting a turkey and sitting down to a big meal! I’ve made full Thanksgiving meals many times, like in 2005, 2008, 2009, and last year. It is a good amount of work and takes some planning and coordination, but I really enjoy it!

This year, I’ve invited some friends over. I think there will be eight of us and I am making the meal basics: turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, pecan pie, apple pie, mulled cider, and a few appetizers. (Check out my Pinterest Thanksgiving board for most of the recipes.) It sounds like a lot, but it is my usual, practiced menu. My friends are bringing extra side dishes, drinks, etc. There will be too much food, but I love it!

So, right now I am in prep mode. If you spread the shopping and preparation out over several days, it makes things easier. I had some of our groceries delivered by Fresh Direct and I ordered our pre-brined turkey from Williams Sonoma. Getting stuff delivered really helps, especially since otherwise I shop for all my groceries on foot and carry them up many flights of stairs. I saw my neighbor in the hall yesterday and chatted about our Thanksgiving plans and she was astounded that we were making the full meal in our apartment. Our place is quite small. But anything is possible!!

thanksgiving2

I thought I’d publish my Thanksgiving Day Countdown check list here for fun and for future reference…

Tuesday:

  • clean bathroom & kitchen
  • Get all serving platters and extra dishes out of storage.
  • wash platters and dishes
  • cut bread for stuffing
  • make pie crust

Wednesday:

  • get last minute groceries
  • Make apple pie
  • Make pecan pie
  • Make cranberry sauce
  • Assemble baked brie
  • Assemble apricot appetizers
  • Chop and cook veggies for turkey & stuffing
  • Get out folding table
  • Get nails done (if time allows…)

Thursday – Thanksgiving!!

  • Run Turkey Trot
  • Take turkey out of fridge
  • Watch the National Dog Show!
  • Prep turkey, put in oven
  • Start mulling cider in crock pot
  • Prep stuffing, put in fridge
  • Set up drink & appetizer table
  • Set dinner table
  • Greet guests!
  • Put brie in oven
  • Make mashed potatoes
  • Make brussels sprouts
  • Take out turkey, let rest
  • Put stuffing in oven
  • Make gravy
  • Put food on table and EAT!

What am I forgetting?? What else should be on the list?

(For more Thanksgiving prep inspiration, check out Martha Stewart’s timeline checklist.)

thanksgiving1

6 Comments » Categories: Food, Friends, holidays

Brooklyn Marathon

Nov 18th 2013 02:14:46 pm

bkmarathon1

ouch. I am very sore. And very happy.

How did I even end up running the Brooklyn Marathon yesterday?? A year ago, when NYC was cancelled, Travis and I made a mad dash to get signed up for an alternative race. NYCRuns had hoped to be able to allow more people in the 2012 Brooklyn Marathon. We signed up, but the plans to expand the field fell through. Bummer. Everyone who had signed up could transfer their entry to 2013. But even though I was registered for over a year, I wasn’t ever totally convinced that I would actually run it…

bkmarathongear

The three marathons that secured our membership in Marathon Maniacs earlier this year were plenty for me. I didn’t NEED to train for another fall race. But I guess I was curious to see what I could do. To see if my personal best time at Philly a year ago was a one-time thing and/or if I could consistently run sub-5-hour marathons.

bkmarathonstart

I trained on my own. I mean, I am participating in the Winter Team in Training season (it is great!) but my long marathon training runs were done solo. I completed both a 19-mile and a 20-mile run completely on my own leading up to this race. I have never done that before. And even more incredible, my pacing was actually pretty good, at around 11-11:30/mile. Those runs, plus a few faster, shorter runs gave me confidence that I was actually ready to run a marathon. I didn’t really have an excuse not to…

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I was more nervous than I’d like to admit leading up to this race. Marathons are fun, but also RUNNING, EFFORT, PAIN! You can never predict exactly how the day is going to go. But I had my truly sweet and patient husband (who ran NYC two weeks ago) running it with me. And SO MANY supportive friends. I knew that whatever happened, it would be a good day.

bkmarathontravis

And it was. I completed my 9th marathon and it was my fastest yet at 4:46:01. Travis stuck by my side even when I got cranky. I listened to my favorite songs. Nine loops of the park didn’t even seem so bad. My fueling was smart & consistent (MilkyWay, 6 Gus, brownies, and gatorade). We took it easy on the six trips up the North hill, walking some. I was in pain for most of the race, but also felt strong. I concentrated and I fought for it.

It seems crazy to run for nearly five hours just to gain two little minutes… but it was worth it.

bkmarathonfinish

But the race, my time, those are not even the best parts. The most amazing part of the whole day was seeing so many friends in the park! So many. This race comes at the end of a long, strenuous fall race season. All of my friends have already trained and raced and coached and cheered at plenty of events. I didn’t expect anyone to spend their Sunday watching me (and all the other racers, of course) run in a circle around Prospect Park. But they did. Plus, did I mention that it rained?!

bkmarathonfriends

THANK YOU: Suzy for bringing my treats and gatorade and being my personal pit crew, Pam for being there from the start and taking so many great photos, sweet Sarah Y. for pouring my gatorade, Joel and Amanda for surprising me with my baby, Crusher, on the sidelines, Jessica for keeping me pumped up and running those first two loops with us, Lisa for making me a sign and coming out after already coaching another race that morning, Matt for running a loop with us and not minding that I was totally brain dead, new marathon maniac, Meghan T., and all of our CHEERful friends, Emily C., Nate, JP (and Beau!), Dory, Amber, Cynthia, Kristen (and Mike!), Emily H., Judith and John, Kitty, Louis, Flegar, Sarah W., Sarah K., Josh, Tony, Shanna, and many more that I am probably forgetting. (Blame it on marathon brain.) You all MADE MY DAY and make me feel very fortunate. (And get this: The rest of our SCBkR crew was in Philly yesterday cheering on the racers there. Amazing.)

bkmarathonmedals

Running is just a hobby. But it is healthy. And challenging. And fun. And the friends I have made doing it are incredibly supportive and encouraging and silly and sweet and fun. Team in training + Brooklyn + the running community at large = so many good vibes.

I could blame it on the marathon endorphins, but I think it is true love. This South Central Brooklyn Runners community that we’ve all created is something special. Maybe even magic. I hope we can keep it going… forever.

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Watch a news report about the Brooklyn Marathon here. (You can see me & Travis run by for a second.) And view all of the photos (mine and my friends’) from the day here.

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Random personal note for future reference: Don’t put too much stuff in the side leg pockets of Lululemon crops. Not only is it unattractive, but it causes major bruises!

2 Comments » Categories: Brooklyn, Feeling Happy, Friends, running, Travis

so many running updates

Oct 31st 2013 04:02:43 pm

Happy Halloween!! But this isn’t a Halloween post… it is about running. Of course. It is always about running.

solorun

I completed so many races in the beginning of 2013 that I really burned myself out… spring and summer were not great running seasons for me, but I’ve gradually been working myself back into the groove. Recently, I’ve been surprised to realize that I am actually feeling pretty good. And, I have been doing some fairly successful marathon training on my own. I completed two solid long runs this month, including a solo 20 miler that went exceptionally well… and not just because I made pit stops for a donut AND a cupcake.

I am feeling unexpectedly excellent. Running is on my good side for now. Which is handy, because there is a lot of fun, running-related stuff happening…

sarahlawrence

Early this month, one of my best and sweetest running friends (and Warrior van-mate), Sarah, got married to her equally sweet (he got me a signed photo of Patrick Stewart!) boyfriend-now-husband, Lawrence. It was a beautiful, fun, huge, family wedding and it was such a thrill to be invited. The food was amazing and the entire event was full of cute, personal touches. Sarah and Lawrence made race bibs for their table seating cards! So clever and fun! Such a great night. Travis and I made good use of the party photo booth with our fellow running Warriors.

dadhalfmarathon

My dad ran his first official half marathon on October 19th. Very cool! With the covert help of my brothers, I flew home to surprise him on the course. Aaron, Seth, Mom, and I had signs and we were yelling our head’s off, but somehow we missed Dad at the start of the race. Good thing we saw him at Mile 3 near the Liberty Memorial. He stopped and gave me a hug. I think he was genuinely surprised to see me. Success! I met him again at Mile 11 and ran the last 2 miles with him and his kind friend, Todd. Dad was tired at the end, but he ran a very strong race. Now he has his sights set on a full marathon!

See all my photos from my Kansas City trip HERE.

bktntesswinter13

Above is my current Brooklyn Team in Training. We are all participating in the “Endless Summer” (winter) season and training for either the Bermuda or New Orleans Half Marathon. I’m Social Captain again this season, and although our group is small, it is awesome. Last night we had a “Socktober” costume contest and a 5k test. I ran (maybe) my fastest 5k ever (sub 9min/miles, but still didn’t break 28 minutes – boo) and felt great. Travis was sweet and paced me the whole way. I run my best races when he helps me.

brooklynmarathonblog

With the successful 20 mile run and the strong 5k under my belt, I feel confident enough to publicly admit that I am running the Brooklyn Marathon on November 17th. The race is entirely in Prospect Park and it will be challenging… but I think I am going to take it seriously. I have no idea whether I can PR, but you never know what will happen… perhaps it will be MY race.

travisnyc

In even BIGGER news… Travis is running the NYC Marathon on Sunday! Wow. It his first NYC, but his 6th marathon. He has been training extremely hard and I think he is going to have an amazing race. I plan to cheer for him at three points on the route. He is Bib #22006 (starting in Blue Wave #2, Corral #22). You can track him by downloading the free iPhone app.

NYC Marathon Day is one of my very favorite days in the city. I was devastated by Hurricane Sandy last year and the cancellation of the race. What a sad time… But this year is going to be great! I am volunteering at the Team in Training booth at the Expo all afternoon tomorrow – come see me! – and I am an official #INGNYCMarathon Social Reporter. You can follow me as @rljart and @SCBkRunners on Twitter and as @rljart on Instagram. Be prepared for a LOT of marathon updates! (You can also search for the #ingnycm hashtag to get the newest marathon-related tweets.)

Will you be watching the NYC Marathon? What other fall events are you excited for?

1 Comment » Categories: Exercise, Family, Friends, running, Travis, weddings

Reach the Beach 2013

Oct 17th 2013 05:59:52 pm

warriors1

Wow. It has been full month since Travis and I were with 31 of our running friends Reaching the Beach in New Hampshire! This was our second year doing the fun/intense/silly event, and once again, we had a fantastic time.

warriors2

Last year we had unbelievable fun as Warriors, and we definitely continued that tradition in 2013.

So… why did it take so long for me to write about the event here on the blog? Hmmmm.

RTB is a big event. Prepping for and recovering from the long weekend takes quite a bit of time and effort. And, I guess that is one of the (many) life lessons you could take from Reaching the Beach: we all have the ability to make any situation amazing, but it takes effort.

warriors3

Not that spending time with our awesome van-mates took effort! Emily, Kenny, Larry, and Sarah are the sweetest, most adorable, funny, wonderful people ever and I would go anywhere with them. (Seriously guys, let’s take another trip together!) But the rest of the event takes some doing…

Training, ordering Warrior clothes, making and packing van food, compiling amazing road trip music mixes, renting vans, driving for hours and hours, powering through pouring rain, running 20+ miles, using LOTS of porta-potties, not sleeping for 36+ hours… It isn’t easy. But I guess that is what makes it an incredible event. The intensity makes it special. Also, the tear-away pants. And booty shorts.

warriors4

Last year, I was really self-concious about my speed (or lack of speed) and wasn’t totally emotionally strong for the whole event, despite having pretty solid runs. This year, I ran the exact same relay legs (a total of 20 miles) and was much more prepared emotionally. I was determined to have a great time and not worry about my speed… or anything, for that matter. Well, I can report that I was much more emotionally strong this year… but the physical portion of the weekend didn’t go as well.

warriors5

My first run was amazing. I ran hard (mostly up hill), had an awesome pace, and even passed a few other runners. I felt great. I was pumped! Unfortunately, my tricky throat acted up while I was trying to eat a bit after my first run. My esophagus gets really clenched up, and I think because I had worked it so hard just before, my diaphragm also got upset. There were about two hours of me throwing up and trying to relax. Ick. It left me tired and dehydrated. On top of the no sleeping thing.

warriortravis

But our van was amazing. We just powered on through the night. Travis ran all of his legs super-fast. No one in our wonderful van got grumpy at all. Amazing. My second leg was 8+ miles of hills. I got through it. There was some breakfast, some snoozing in the car, some cheering, and maybe a little too much worrying about whether our other Warriors teams were catching up to us throughout the night. I had high hopes for my third leg and I wore my most festive outfit. But my body was pretty much done and I walked a lot of hills. Not ideal, but the sun was out and my fellow Warriors cheered for me on the road. I had fun.

warriors6

By the end, I was happy to be done. And happy that our team got to finish on the beach before the sun started to set, unlike last year. All three Warriors teams finished strong. We celebrated, ate, drank, and fell asleep. zzzZZZZZZZ

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We took a lot of photos! You can view all of my photos (and some of my friends’) from the weekend in my Warriors 2013 Flickr set.

We also took a lot of video! We are still compiling our 2013 highlight reel, but if you want a peak at the people who make this event great, check out our Reach the Beach 2012 – Extended Cut video.

Or, for a little taste of our terrific team, watch the incomparable Larry Picard explain the spirit of RTB:

I love my Warriors. xoxo

3 Comments » Categories: Friends, running, Travel

camp ironman

Aug 5th 2013 03:42:57 pm

Summer is so much fun. And I’d argue that one of the best ways to enjoy summer is to go camping with friends.

Remember how I volunteered at the NYC Ironman last year and loved it? I definitely wanted to volunteer again, and with no NYC event this year, the Lake Placid Ironman was the nearest alternative. Plus, Lake Placid is located right in the center of the beautiful Adirondack mountains. A wonderful place to camp. Thank goodness Ironman Joel planned ahead and booked us awesome campsites for the event weekend about 40 minutes from Lake Placid at Lincoln Pond. (Campsites 34 & 35 R, for the record.)

Our campsites were considered “rural” in that they were a drive from the main campgrounds with showers and ice and firewood. But we had two outhouses, our own exclusive lake beach, and lots of privacy.

We cooked over the fire, slept in tents (Travis and I are still using our tiny two-person tent that we bought in Oregon), went for runs, swam in the lake, and basically just relaxed for four days.

Travis and I decided sort of at the last minute to bring Crusher along. I am so glad we did! He was less of a hassle than I was expecting and it was so much fun to see him swimming in the lake in his doggy life vest. He hated the vest, but he would voluntarily swim into the lake when he was wearing it. He also liked riding on the inflatable rafts. He was a crack up and he loved being wild and free for the whole weekend.

The Ironman race was on Sunday. Our more hardcore friends woke up early to go see the swim start, but I was worried about trying to keep Crusher in the car all day, so Travis and I got a later start. I was pumped that we ran into the bike course when we went out to find breakfast in the super-cute town of Keene. We stumbled upon the excellent ADK Cafe and got to sit on their porch eating pancakes as the cyclists zoomed by. We got to see nearly all of the racers, from the pros with their crazy alien helmets, to the more average racers (as average as Ironmen can be) at the back of the pack. It was exciting!

Our Ironman volunteer shift didn’t start until 8 pm, so we spent the day exploring the region a bit, searching out free internet, and hiking one of the many mountain trails. In the evening we went into Lake Placid to spectate the run portion of the race. The Ironmen run a full marathon as the final portion of the event, and the Lake Placid marathon is not easy. We joined the crowds at the top of a particularly steep, long hill near the finish (and middle, since they run a 13 mile course twice) and cheered on the runners.

By the time our volunteer shift time came, Crusher was exhausted. He was totally fine hanging out in the car while Travis and I joined our friends at mile 24 of the marathon course. We manned the final aid station during the final hours of the race. We handed out water, CocaCola, chicken stock, pretzels, fruit, Gu, and electrolyte drink. Most of the athletes were very tired, but nice and responsive. The chicken stock and Coke were the most popular items. I had maybe too much fun cheering and calling out our items to the athletes. As it got later, the runners sort of trickled off. It was heartbreaking to know that a few of the last runners would not make it to the finish in time for the 12 am cut off. One woman collapsed near us and had to be taken away by medical staff. It was all very dramatic and inspiring.

I really want to do an Ironman some day. Volunteering at the event entitles you to priority sign up for the next year’s Ironman. Our friends Joel, Jon, Louis, and Yvonne all signed up for the 2014 event. I was tempted, but I don’t think 2014 is my year… I DO plan to be there to cheer and volunteer again!

Monday was the best camping day! We slept in a bit, I had a great trail run early in the day, we hung out for hours in the water, laughed too much, wrestled an inflatable shark, drank from “floozies” (a trademarked floating koozie invention), roasted little smokies and lots of fruit, discussed lumens, and took many panoramic photos of the sunset. It was a good time.

Crusher was totally exhausted by the time we departed on Tuesday. He slept for almost the entire drive back to the city. The weather and the sky were so beautiful while we were driving that I started daydreaming about buying a “summer home” in the Adirondacks… and a car to get us there… and triathlon bikes so that I can train for my Ironman…

If you live in the NYC area, I highly recommend getting out of the city to camp in the Adirondacks. It is easy! We rented a car from the Enterprise Rent-a-Car near our place in Park Slope (it is cheaper than ZipCar for longer trips) and you can reserve your campsite easily through ReserveAmerica.com. Lincoln Pond was a wonderful location, but I am sure that any of the campgrounds in the region would be great. Bring a tent, sleeping bags, pillows, firewood, water, hotdogs, S’more makings, bug spray, and sunscreen… and plan to have a great time!

See more photos from our trip on Flickr.

5 Comments » Categories: Exercise, Friends, running, Travel

Boilermaker 2013

Jul 17th 2013 03:27:13 pm

I’m running every day this summer (run streak!) but I’ve drastically cut back on the number of races I’m participating in. Sunday, I completed my only real race of the summer, the Uitca Boilermaker 15k.

I ran the race last summer with friends and its cute, small-town feel made me want to return. The Boilermaker may be the largest 15k in the country, with more than 18,000 runners registered (with 12,000 finishers). All of Utica comes out for the event. They hand out water, and ice, and popsicles, the zoo brings animals out onto the course, and the Saranac Brewery gives out free beer at the finish. A fun time all around. Add in my friend Kristen’s parents’ lovely country home with a pool and it makes for an excellent weekend!

Race Report: July is hot. I don’t think that can be avoided. The Boilermaker was hot last year and it was hot this year. There are a few tough hills in the race, but the heat is really the biggest challenge factor. I have not been running fast at all during my daily runs this summer, so I was not sure what to expect for a nine mile race. I didn’t have any friends my pace to run with, so I decided to try to put in a solid race effort while still enjoying the scene.

The Boilermaker is a crowded race. Zipping out at the start is not even an option. I ran slow and steady at the beginning trying not to waste energy darting around and passing people. But being at the back of the “general” corral meant that I was mixed in with a less “racey” group. There was a lot of stopping and starting. So, I devised what I thought was a brilliant and novel plan to have a good, steady race: I looked for “Mercury Masters” in the crowd to hang with. The Mercury Masters are a NY running club for women over the age of 50. I didn’t actually see any of their purple jerseys on the course, but I knew the type of strong, tough lady I wanted to follow on the chaotic course through the crowd. I just searched out tan, muscular, experienced-looking women and let them lead the way. The Masters know what they are doing!

I sort of worked my way up through the crowd by picking a Master ahead of me, hanging with them for a bit, and then looking for a new leader to follow up ahead. I ran strong up the hills, which let me pass many people and gave me maybe a little too much confidence. I started picking up my pace too early — before mile 8 — and sort of sputtered out a bit before picking it up and sprinting the last half mile to the finish line. I didn’t reach my original time goal, but my pace was much better than what I have been running lately, so I was happy. It was fun to race an event and I felt really good for such a hot day.

After the race and the post-race beer fest in downtown Utica, Travis and I went to a little pool party with our running friends… I think this pool pic is sort of perfect and sort of disgusting: my friends are WAY too good looking.

See more photos from our entire upstate trip here

2 Comments » Categories: Friends, New York, running, Travel

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Hello.

I'm Rachel. I run websites and run marathons. I live in Brooklyn and write about art, crafts, design, food, fitness, fashion, my daily life, and New York City.

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