the only NYC Marathon to ever be cancelled

This was the top I was going to wear while running the NYC Marathon on Sunday. The race was cancelled due to controversy after Hurricane Sandy.

I have a lot of conflicting and sad feelings about the entire situation. I wanted to run the NYC marathon for the second time because I love this city. I am ok with the cancellation, but there were a lot of hurtful things said about runners in the past week that really discouraged me.

Of course, my running team has been helping out after the storm. We are a charity organization, after all. We’ve given money, food, gear, and more than 100 Team in Training runners (who had raised 2.2 MILLION dollars for cancer research while training for the NYC marathon) went to Staten Island on Sunday to help the recovery and clean up process. We will continue to help.

A few related links: Some thoughts on why the NYC Marathon could have been good for the city. | My friend Carmen sums up the roller coaster week. | If you want to volunteer to help Hurricane Sandy recovery in NYC, check out NYCservice.org. | I’m hosting a “Swap-bot for Sandy” hurricane relief donation drive. Our site members have already donated more than $700 for the Red Cross. Join us!

hurricane sandy

Travis and I are feeling very fortunate. We made it through Hurricane Sandy in Brooklyn without any trouble — we had power, cable, internet, food, water, etc throughout the storm — but the rest of New York City and the region was hit hard. The subway system is still down. Power is out in many sections of the city. Fire, wind, and water destroyed many homes and businesses.

This is the view from our window in Park Slope right before the storm hit on Monday evening. Just a little cloudy and a bit of rain.

The view from our window late on Monday night during the storm. Pork Slope stayed open until midnight!

This incredible photo is from The New York Times building during the storm on Monday night. You can see the power outage in lower Manhattan on the right side of the photo.

Leaves and debris are everywhere in our neighborhood, but overall, Park Slope is ok. Life seems to be getting back to semi-normal this morning in our neighborhood…

Travis’ Appnexus offices are still without power, so he is working from home with me. We are working to keep our businesses running as normally as possible, but we are also thinking about ways to help those in need… here are a few links to ways we can all help:

It is going to take a long time for the city to recover, but so far, the NYC Marathon is scheduled to go on as planned on Sunday. It is strange, but with all of the worries over the hurricane, I almost forgot about the marathon. If it happens, I will run. I am not in a celebratory mood, but the marathon is a small way to show and celebrate how strong and resilient NYC is. I guess we’ll see what happens…

hurricanes and marathons

It is autumn. It is nearly Halloween. And it is one week until the NYC Marathon! Wow. I am freaking out a bit…

But Hurricane Sandy craziness is taking precedence over marathon crazies at the moment.

Exactly a year ago, I was prepping for the Marine Corps Marathon.

Fourteen months ago, we were prepping for Hurricane Irene. (Which was uneventful in Brooklyn.)

Two years ago, I ran the NYC Marathon for the first time.

If When I survive 1. Hurricane Sandy, 2. Halloween festivities, 3. running 26.2 miles through the five boroughs of NYC, I’ll be sure to report back!

p.s. Yes, the subway system is getting shut down in NYC, so we will be staying home tomorrow. No, we are not in the mandatory evacuation zone. Yes, we will be smart and safe. We have plenty of food, water, and flashlights.

personal record

In the year 2000, I ran the Drake Relays Half Marathon in 2:07:55. (That is 19-year-old me running the race above.)

Today, I ran the Staten Island Half Marathon exactly 6 minutes faster. A big PR, 12 years in the making!

Travis ran with me during the whole race and kept me on pace. (He PR’d last week in the Hamptons, so this was just a long run for him.) The weather was a perfect 50 degrees. I stayed focused and worked hard. I didn’t even bring my phone or water bottle! It was difficult, but overall it was less painful than I expected. I had some cramping in my diaphragm late in the race, but still managed to beat my original sub-2:10 goal. Thank you, Travis!

I am happy. In a complete reversal of my usual training assumptions, I think that my speed workouts this season have been much more beneficial than my distance workouts. I am grateful to my persistent Team in Training coaches for showing me that.

Surprisingly, I think Reach the Beach was the most beneficial. It gave me confidence and “permission” to run my hardest and see what I can do. Just for fun. Thank you Warriors and Coach Joel!

I still have work to do. A sub-2-hour half now seems like a possibility!

UPDATE: The race photos are in… and they aren’t half bad!

Dad runs New York

So many fun weekends in a row! On Friday, my dad came to New York to run the Run 10 Feed 10 race with me on Sunday. Dad has taken up running recently and has already completed a bunch of 5Ks and 10Ks. I’m very impressed with his progress.

We didn’t have time to do too much sight seeing, but we managed to hit up L&B Spumoni Garden, Rockefeller Center, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Times Square, the Brooklyn Museum, Franny’s, and The Chocolate Room.

The race itself was an out-and-back 10K on the West Side Highway. It was well organized and a lot of fun. In his recap, Dad says that I pushed him to go faster than he was used to, but I didn’t intend to. He was strong and steady and didn’t express any distress. It was a great Sunday recovery run for me and I was happy to have a running buddy. It was a lot of fun. And as is the tradition, we had a delicious brunch afterward. Perfect!

You can see more photos from our weekend together on Flickr.

marathon training ftw!

I am happy. And sore. I ran the NYRR Bronx 10 Miler on Sunday. It was the final run in a big 40-mile training week and I had intended to take it really easy. I ran 13 easy miles on Saturday at Team in Training practice and didn’t know what to expect doing double digits again the next day. Surprisingly, it was an incredible and fast run!

The weather was beautiful yesterday. Clear skies and low humidity. We were late to the start line, but not stressed. I started the race too fast, but felt great and decided to see what I could do. Despite the fast start, I achieved pretty perfect negative splits. Nearly the whole race I was thinking, “I can do this on the last 10 of the NYC marathon if I don’t do it on the first 10.” We’ll see about that, but success with these two days of long runs definitely gives me confidence for the Goofy Challenge in January.

I am reluctant to post my time because I really don’t want to compete with anyone other than myself, but I will say that I ended up with my fastest pace in any race this year! Even shorter races! I’m looking forward to finding out what I can do at the Staten Island Half Marathon next month.

I ran the Bronx race two years ago when it was a half marathon. I ran much, much slower then and was just happy to finish. I have been marathon training for nearly three years straight, and although it is slow going, it is working!

But even at my top speed, Brian, Sarah, and Travis finished much faster!

(For the record, I have deliberately and slowly worked up to these training distances and I am doing them for a specific purpose: an ambitious winter race schedule. I listen closely to my body, cross train, and take rest days. I do not recommend or endorse these distances for beginners. Be smart, everyone.)

The Color Run

With a group of running friends, Travis and I signed up for The Color Run this summer. The multi-city race is billed as “the happiest 5k on the planet” and the NYC event sold out within two days, despite the $50 registration fee. The photos and videos online made it look like a lot of fun, so we were excited to try it out.

A 5k is sort of low mileage at this point in our marathon training, so it was a little annoying to wake up early and drive deep into Brooklyn on a Sunday morning for three un-timed miles, but we were still pumped. Many members of our Brooklyn Team were there decked out in the required white t-shirts. We had fun dancing and throwing color on each other before and after the jog through the course on an abandoned air strip.

There were four “color stations” on the course where volunteers sprayed you with colored powder. There probably should have been more color stations, since otherwise the course was completely boring… but there was music and lots of young people acting crazy, so we stayed entertained. After the finish line we were instructed to throw our color packet (basically corn starch and dye) in the air for the grand finale. It made for fun photos. In fact, the photos were definitely the best part of this race.

It was a fun morning. And yes, all of the color washed off… eventually. Overall, I am glad that we tried out The Color Run, but I probably don’t need to do it again.

Have you done The Color Run? What did you think?

IronMan

Somewhere in a box of memories in my parents’ basement in Kansas is a list I made when I was 19. The list was my extreme athletics plan and it went something like this: Marathons > Triathlon > IronMan > EcoChallenge* …and the list may have ended with Olympics. (2000 was a Summer Olympics year, after all.)

Well, I can cross Marathons off the list. And, as of last Saturday, a triathlon and eventually an IronMan have been moved to the top of my endurance priority list!

Saturday was the Inaugural IronMan US Championships in NYC. An IronMan, by the way, is a 2.4 mile swim + 112 mile bike ride + 26.2 mile run. I did NOT participate, but I DID volunteer.

Team In Training and the LLS (my charity of choice) manned an aid station at Miles 22 & 25 of the IronMan marathon course. We arrived early, set up aid tables, chalked the route with encouraging words, then waited to hand out water, food, sponges, and Coca-Cola to the athletes.

Volunteering was thrilling and I would love to do it again, but even more exciting was tracking and cheering for our friends on the course. TNT had an “IronTeam” and three of my Brooklyn teammates (Hi Joel, Yvonne, and Ronald!) were crazy ambitious enough to sign up and spend the last year of their lives training for this huge event.

A group of us got up early to go see the beginning of the bike before our volunteering shift. (The “Go Complete Stranger” sign was a huge hit, btw.) Then, in the evening, we camped out near mile 22 of the marathon and waited for our TNT peeps to run by…

We were there to cheer for all of the athletes, but especially the TNT athletes, and MOST especially Brooklyn TNT Coach Joel. There is legend surrounding the greatness of Joel, but all you need to know is that last fall he traveled to Washington DC on HIS BIRTHDAY to coach me (and a tiny & terrific Brooklyn TNT contingent) in the Marine Corps Marathon. That race day was one of the best days of my life and I needed to repay the kindness. (Also, Joel once gave me an epic birthday gift.)

We saw a lot of exhausted athletes Saturday evening, but Joel was not one of them. He was strong and happy and fast at the end of a MARATHON at the end of an IRONMAN! So strong and happy in fact, that I think I am completely underestimating the difficulty of the event when I say “I want to be an IronMan.” But… stating a goal is the first step in achieving it, right?

I guess I better go buy a bike…

*Travis and Adam agreed to be on my EcoChallenge team and don’t think I am forgetting that even if the adventure race reality show has been off the air for a decade. We ARE doing it!

Gardening with GMC

On Thursday night I attended BlogHer, but before that, I took part in a special event hosted by GMC. A group of bloggers (including me) were invited on a day trip to test out the new GMC Terrain SUVs while also helping to donate gardening supplies to a Harlem community garden.

I was happy to be a part of the event, but unfortunately, I am not in the market for a new car. We sold our car more than two years ago and I am not sure when or if we will get another. I was a little too afraid to actually drive the SUVs in the city… BUT I did have a great afternoon!

First we drove to Scarsdale to the family-owned Sprainbrook Nursery and picked up the $2,000 worth of plants purchased by GMC and a few extras donated by the nursery. Then, we headed to Harlem.

Convent Garden is a tiny triangle of green space at 151st St. It is managed, cared for, and loved by Miss Miami (seen here). It is a lovely community gathering spot and many of the neighbors came out to say hello and host a picnic for us. (I had many pieces of fried chicken.) We didn’t end up doing any of the actual gardening, but it was awesome to see the neighborhood in action and meet new people. I need to spend more time exploring Harlem!

I’ll have more details about BlogHer shortly…

new brooklyn restaurant: Brooklyn Crab

Seafood! I love it, but it can be intimidating… or at least too fancy and expensive. So, I was really excited to go try out Brooklyn Crab, a brand new, totally casual, giant, three-story crab shack in Red Hook. Reviewing the menu online had me craving crabs and oysters and lobster… yum!

Brooklyn Crab officially opened about two months ago, but I was a bit behind in my restaurant watching. I hadn’t had a chance to read many reviews before Travis and I went to check it out with four friends the Friday before last.

It is a good thing I hadn’t read many, because the reviews have been pretty harsh. The up side is that most of the complaints center around the long waits for tables and the disorganization of the staff, not necessarily the food.

After taking the Brooklyn Crab shuttle from Carroll Gardens, we did indeed have to wait for over an hour for our table, but it was actually for the best. We grabbed drinks and ordered the Cool Platter seen above (1/2 lb. Snow Crab Legs, 1/2 lb. Spicy Peel & Eat Gulf Shrimp, 4 Oysters & Creamy Mustard Sauce) which you can get at the bar.

Then, after chowing down on our fresh, delicious, chilled appetizer, we checked out the game yard. Brooklyn Crab has a full 18-hole mini golf course and cornhole (bean bag toss) games. The games were free to play when we were there, but apparently now it costs $5 for a round of mini-golf.

Travis got two putt putt holes-in-one and our friend Nate dominated the bean bag toss, so basically it was a very fun ninety minute wait.

I was pleased when we were seated in the upper area of the restaurant at one of the big picnic tables. The table was perfect for our big group and the views of the water and city were incredible. We could see both the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. I wish I had taken better photos…

The meat-eating side of our table ordered two Steam Pots: the Northeast (1 1/2 Lb. Lobster, 1 1/2 Lb. Jonah Crab, Mussels, Gulf Shrimp, Red Potatoes & Corn on the Cob) and the Southern (Blue Crabs, Shrimp, Andouille Sausage, Red Potatoes & Corn on the Cob in Old Bay). Our friend Casey (who took the photo above) is moving to North Carolina from NYC this summer, so the two Pots felt quite appropriate.

I was absolutely in LOVE with all of the seafood. Of course, it took a bit of work to eat all of the crabs and lobster, but cracking the shells is half the fun! The spicy, peel-and-eat shrimp and the sausage, with their Old Bay seasoning, were also delicious. The only item that I wasn’t thrilled with was the Jonah Crab… it had a strange flavor to me. Overall, I was extremely happy. Nothing was overcooked and I was satisfied, but not stuffed when we finally managed to finish up the very last bits of each Steam Pot.

Travis and our friend Amanda ordered the Vegetarian Steam Pot and Macaroni & Cheese. They were quite happy with their selection. You can tell your veggie friends that they don’t need to skip Brooklyn Crab.

We finished the meal with Brownie Sundaes and Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Tart Рboth received raves from everyone at the table.

Don’t be scared of the Yelp reviews of Brooklyn Crab. I had a great experience. As long as you aren’t in a hurry and are willing to spend $40+/person for a very casual, but delicious and fresh seafood meal, there is no reason not to go check it out. It is the perfect place for a fun & easy summer meal. Get there when they open at 2 pm on Saturday or Sunday and make a whole afternoon of it!

Check out Brooklyn Crab online or follow them on Twitter.

Have you been to Brooklyn Crab? What did you think? Which Brooklyn restaurant should I check out next?