I’m getting kind of excited about spending some untethered time in NYC. I feel like circumstances are aligning. The sun is expected to shine in mild blue skies. The moon will be nearly full and, I predict, spectacular. I have a good idea about what I’m going to wear (cutoff shorts with footless tights, flat shoes for walking) and what I’ll need to pack (running gear, a cute dress for cocktails).
My plans are fluid but include a couple of stops on my way downtown – Macy’s, perhaps, Porto Rico Importers, definitely, Rocco’s more than likely. I’ll be dressed casually so I’m going with a backpack instead of an overnight bag. I like to have my hands free and travel light.
I’ll have a quality late lunch with at least one glass of wine, maybe my first rose of the season. My plans include a nap followed by a run. I want to head south down the lower west side to Battery Park through the Seaport and over the Brooklyn Bridge. The “blood moon” will be rising and whatever music I choose I know will be perfect.
A quick shower off, a little makeup and then there will be cocktails at a swanky place down on lower Hudson where, I believe, Sundays are “pants optional.” Fun will be had. I know how to do this. It’s going to be epic.
At one point Sunday afternoon, as Chrissy and I ran over snow and sand and through mud and ice, I had to laugh at how lucky it is that we both find the challenge of trail running to be fun. Yes, fun. It’s like being a kid again, running through the woods to either get somewhere, or maybe away from someone, not really knowing exactly where we’re going, but having the luxury of enough time to simply run.
On Saturday we did the Parker 5k, a seriously challenging lope through the woods which Chrissy blazed through. We were down a lunar b*tch, unexpectedly, but we both rallied for respectable finishes on a morning which was far more benign than expected. There was no rain and the mud provided an obstacle or added an element of excitement, all in the eye of the beholder.
Aren’t they lively looking?
A couple of remarks I heard post-race were validating, the race was “humbling,” and the trail “grueling.” No one was complaining. This event is pleasingly small with only about 100 finishers and everyone who participated appeared remarkably healthy and fit. As Chrissy said, it felt much more like a friendly group run through the woods than a race. Next year, hopefully we’ll be our usual running threesome. Missed you, Karen!
Sunday was a gorgeous day – the first day of the year for me to run wearing only a single layer and sleeveless, at that. We met at the Pine Bush’s trailhead #7, where we consulted a posted map and quickly determined we had no idea how to read it properly. It was mid afternoon and we had time and an app on our side so we headed in, bearing right at most forks in the trail as we sought a longish run. The scenery was absolutely beautiful and the day was an ambiguous one, early spring which easily could have been mistaken for mid fall.
We skirted a deep ravine and ran on the narrowest of paths up steeper than expected hills. There was mud, but no real standing water and we both were glad we had worn our mudders from the previous day again. We encountered fewer than a handful of other intrepid fun seekers and I have a new desire to familiarize myself with this large nature area. Saratoga State Park’s trails have nothing on this place in terms of challenge and beauty and I can’t wait to go back for another, even longer, loop.
We wrapped up our running adventures with a first of the season soak in Chrissy’s hot tub. It was a good weekend.
One of the first images to enter my brain last Sunday morning came to me courtesy of an email from Living Social. They were offering a deal for Yanni’s Too, a place known for its fried calamari, and the picture accompanying the sales pitch became my obsession and inspiration for the day. Crispy looking golden brown rings and tentacles… I needed some, but had no desire to drive south and dine riverside. I explored my options, beginning, and happily ending, in my own neighborhood – Nicole’s Restaurant. All I had was a 5 mile run to get through first.
Run finished, I quickly called Nicole’s to make sure they still had tables seated at 8:00 on a Sunday. I never want to be that person who comes in on a quiet night and keeps staff hanging around. I was assured that they still were doing business and invited to please stop by. On my arrival I was offered a nice deuce in the front and settled in with the menu and a basket of warm bread accompanied with good quality olive oil and an olive tapenade.
I was hungry and went a little crazy ordering the fried calamari, the eggplant rollatini and an intriguing sounding Brussels sprouts Caesar salad. After considering a bottle of wine, with the option to bring home what I didn’t finish, I talked myself down and went with a glass of chianti which satisfied me perfectly.
The calamari was terrific. It was piping hot, crispy and not oily in the slightest. The accompanying sauce was different and enjoyable, but I’m pretty simple and would have been equally pleased with a marinara sauce on the side.
The eggplant was tender, completely devoid of bitterness and wonderfully smoky from the oozing cheese. Again, the presentation is a little different with only some roasted red peppers topping the eggplant, rather than the more typical bath of red sauce. Tasty.
The salad was a unique spin on Caesar – a feat that is not easily accomplished, but I didn’t really taste the classic Caesar notes of garlic, cheese and anchovy as I had expected. The anchovies were white which, in my opinion, gives a sharper, more vinegary taste. I liked the salad more when I finished it up the next day as part of my lunch. It seemed to have mellowed out a bit.
I wrapped things up with an indulgent slice of chocolate cheesecake – 5 miles, people. I had just run 5 miles. Belly full, $50 + tip lighter, I slept like a well fed baby. Although I don’t get to Nicole’s often enough, it’s nice to know they continue to offer a consistently creative menu that never fails to provide comfort and quality.
Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, Eating, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, running, sunday
Valentine’s Day seems the perfect time to express my adoration for Winter. In all honesty, it’s a love I never imagined experiencing. Winter was always the cruelest of seasons, I thought. Endlessly long, yet filled with days which offered mere hours of daylight. Cold in a way that kept one indoors, in isolation. Yuck.
Our relationship was purely platonic at the start. It was a casual thing for many years, sort of a “friends with benefits situation.” If I had a little extra time, I could maybe work in an hour outdoors on my cross-country skis. Many people have a summer romance, but we had a winter fling. Winter certainly wasn’t something I was willing to build a life around. It was more a matter of convenience, a circumstance I’d be remiss to replicate in my romantic life, yet acceptable for a relationship physical in nature.
During the snowy years, we got a little more serious with each other and I found myself keeping my skis in my car “just in case.” I explored Capital Hills, familiarizing myself with the various trails, learning which spots tended to get icy and which direction to ski to witness the often stellar winter sunsets. I bought better cold weather gear and, repulsed by the false consistency of the treadmill, committed to running outdoors year round.
Winter challenged me and I responded with enthusiasm and devotion. Downhill skiing beckoned and I fell even deeper in love. The combination of adrenaline, fresh air and sunshine was intoxicating. Winter was no longer something to be survived, it became a season to savor. I realized recently that Winter has become my favorite season and I no longer wish it away as I may have in the past.
Sometimes we find love in the most unexpected places. Recognizing it, and embracing it with grace, makes our time here, and our hearts, feel remarkably full. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Filed under beauty, Exercise, favorites, holidays, Local, love, Normanskill, running, skiing, snow, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for those of us who like to exercise outdoors. I mean, 5 degrees on the plus side just doesn’t beckon to me, especially when the skies are grey and the wind is kicking up. After nearly a week without a run, I finally got out last Saturday during a break in the deep freeze. Of course, it was kind of snowing and rather messy, but damn it the thermometer was finally in the double digits and I needed to run.
Yaktrax in the snow
I’ve enjoyed winter runs and consider a layer of ice on the sidewalk to be an added challenge, along with a bit of a core workout. I like it. Layering up may be time consuming, but I have the right clothes and I love the time outdoors, traveling at my own pace. Saturday’s run required 4 layers and the addition of a new foul weather friend – Yaktrax.
I originally bought these “slip-on” grip enhancers last winter, but they languished in my running drawer until the other day. My hesitation to use them was based on fear – I was afraid that my feet would hurt or that I would feel awkward running on these springy-things. Fortunately, I was wrong. Once I figured out how to put them on they felt pretty light and were actually fairly unobtrusive for the first 3-4 miles. I had a great deal of traction and didn’t slip or slide at all while wearing them. I began to become more aware of them during mile five, feeling some new sensations in my lower legs, which may or may not have been from the Yaktrax. Either way, I’ll use them again and try to remember to pair them with an outer layer with pockets leaving myself the option of taking them off, if necessary.
Sunday morning, I got an email from Pineridge Cross Country Ski Area, an awesome old school ski area on the other side of the Hudson. This place has some of the most beautiful trails I’ve ever skied on and I was thrilled to receive notice that they had 25 km of trail open. After consulting with my runner girls, we made a plan to get ourselves to Poestenkill for a couple of hours of outdoor fun.
Neither Karen or Chrissy had ever skied here before and I was so happy to share this beautiful place with them. Chrissy offered me the job of “Life Tour Guide,” a career I think I could really get down with if only it was a real option. Although it was only about 13 degrees, there wasn’t any wind and the sun was reasonably bright. There may have also been a sip or two of homemade limoncello that provided a nice warm glow to our afternoon. We had a fantastic time and I hope to get out there again next weekend. At less than $20 for a trail pass and only a slightly more than 30 minute drive from the DelSo, it’s a bargain indulgence. Get there!
This past weekend may have been close to perfect. One of my favorite girls arrived prior to the snow and we settled in to an afternoon of satisfying household tasks. There was cooking, roasting and baking. A tree was agreed upon and chopped down, by me. Later, it was beautifully decorated, not by me. I call that a win-win situation.
With our bellies full of delicious chili and layers of spandex and Lycra firmly in place, we ventured downtown to the starting line for Albany’s 2013 Last Run. Being smart and all, we stashed some clothes at the Wine Bar for a post-race nosh. We are not amateurs, my friend.
I’ve done this race three years in a row and I have to tell you – it is the most fun race I do each year. The fireworks, the costumes, the crowd, the lights – it is consistently a blast. This year, despite the weather conditions (pretty damn cold with face freezing precipitation) I had the most fun ever, probably a combination of the perfect running friends and an entire day devoted to holiday tasks and festivities. Joy to the world, for sure!
We followed our exertions with a fantastic dinner at the Wine Bar. You might think that I praise the food at the Wine Bar with such frequency because I work there, but you’d be wrong. The reality, though, is I work there because the food is so damn good. Truth. My meal, from the grilled Caesar salad to the phenomenal pork shoulder to the epic wedge of cheesecake from Cheesecake Machismo was flawless. Perfect.
There was another Lilly enjoying her weekend’s activities and menu, Cassidy Bono. She feasted on sirloin steak, ground beef, sardines and chicken breast, punctuated with plenty of biscuits. There were lots of cuddles, along with belly rubs, and what turned out to be our last weekend together will always be a time which I will treasure.
We both had a good run.
Filed under aging, Albany, Christmas, Cooking, Dinner, Events, favorites, Food, friends, Lark Street, Local, running, snow, winter
aka – thoughts from a run
- The sidewalks were slick tonight with ice and nuisance snow. Not quite enough to shovel, but too much to ignore.
- Life can be a slippery path at times, but like the ice, it was just a caution – not a discouragement. Forge ahead. It’s the right direction.
- I love my body! It is fit and strong and healthy. It indulges me when I sandwich a 60 minute hot barre yoga class between two days and a combined 11+ miles of running.
- I don’t always want to run, but I am always glad that I did.
- I can’t be the only one who pushes those I love away at times, right? I think it’s only to feel the sensation of having them reach for you again.
- You love who you love.
- If I didn’t run, I would never have time to think.
Filed under Albany, beauty, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, love, musings, Observations, Random, running, snow, winter