Category Archives: Spring

Running for the sun and in the rain

6C2FD511-7AB1-4E36-82A5-F281E1249DEFWhile I don’t maintain a formal bucket list, I have long thought that I would like to take part in a race in NYC. When an elementary (!) school friend contacted me a few months ago about the Shape Half Marathon, I knew I had found my race. The price was a little extravagant, and the media partner wasn’t really my cup of tea, but the course was appealing and I’ll pretty much spend a weekend in NYC anytime – even if it means I have to run 13.1 miles!

Spring has been a long time coming in the northeast this year, which only made Saturday’s forecast of sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s that much more appealing. The race, however, was being held on Sunday morning, which had much less favorable forecast. Our only solution was to soak up as much sunshine (and carbohydrates) as possible pre-race, which we did as we walked and ate our way around the city. 

2D0952C4-C7CD-44AE-A311-9A4631FD6C42Race day dawned dry, but cold. We cabbed the 30 blocks to Central Park and spent the 45 minutes or so before the start working hard to stay warm. It was a raw and miserable morning* and I regretted not adding gloves or a warm hat to my racing wear.  My legs were trembling from the cold for the first mile and it wasn’t until the 3 mile mark that my hands felt warm, but, I was running a race in NYC and somehow that made it ok. My favorite parts were when we were on the east side of the park with views of the Guggenheim and the Met, the area at the northernmost part of the park and all of the daffodils and flowering trees in bloom. It was spring in NYC!

51F7B6B0-B3DD-49A1-91BD-9B948EB8075FThe hills of the park didn’t register too much on my radar, but my pace was slow and comfortable, except for that last mile which felt like 5 miles. I didn’t have much kick left to finish strong, but I managed to get across the line in 2:23:09 with a bathroom break and multiple water stops. I was in the top half of my age group and that satisfies me. After the race I wrapped up in my first foil blanket and caught a train back to the hotel for a gloriously hot shower. Next race: The Seneca 7, a 77 mile team relay in the Finger Lakes. Let’s hope for a sunny day!

*although not as raw and blustery as this year’s Boston Marathon. Man, those runners are warriors!

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Filed under Events, Exercise, Flowers, friends, NYC, Observations, road trips, running, Spring

Girls’ Getaway – Manchester, VT

It isn’t always easy to find a couple of consecutive days that work for four busy and opinionated individuals. Sometimes, though, we need some recharging of the fun batteries and nothing works better than two days spent in an unfamiliar place with longtime friends. With that in mind, last week we headed to Manchester, a place I haven’t visited in probably close to 15 years, for a mini vaca.

When you’re dealing with four left handed women, organizing a getaway can be a challenge. Everyone has preferences and ideas about where to stay and what to do, but after close to 40 years of friendship, we have mastered group travel. I took charge of our accommodations and we did really well with Hotels.com landing a two night stay at the fairly new Hampton Inn for a total of $340. Divided by four, it was a real bargain at $70 each, including breakfast.

Speaking of bargains, the shops in Manchester were full of them! We did some fun and productive shopping at the outlets and each walked away with a few new items purchased at deeply discounted prices. Personally, I replaced my worn out Kate Spade wallet with a beautiful new aubergine clutch/wallet, picked up a navy blue down vest with a hood that I’m obsessed with at the Bass outlet and scored an adorable black and white print skirt from J.Crew. I also filled in a couple of gaps in my kitchen utensil collection with a new masher, sink sponge holder and some grips for opening jars, something with which I increasingly struggle. Not very exciting, admittedly, but I’m a practical girl at times and I really like buying everyday items when I’m away from home. Somehow it makes the daily seem a bit more exciting, you know?

For eating, we went with recommendations from folks who visit Manchester with more frequency than ourselves. Our first night we opted for a late afternoon drink or two which turned into an early dinner at Gringo Jack’s. Their chips had been described to me as “crack” and I’d have to agree that it was difficult to stop shoving them into my mouth eating them. My shrimp tacos were good and my margaritas were great and we left there completely satisfied.

img_4696For a light lunch we stopped in at Mystic, a wine bar cafe that was absolutely lovely. I went with the soup of the day, a flavorful broth with lamb meatballs and middle eastern spices, and it was perfect. Friday night, on a friend’s recommendation, we dined at Bistro Henry a cozy spot a couple of miles out of town. The menu presented a dilemma because we wanted pretty much everything! Ultimately we chose to share 3 appetizers, 2 salads (one large, one small) and two entrees, a decision that satiated all of us without leaving anyone too stuffed for an after dinner drink at a different spot. Particularly strong were the foie gras and the classic preparation of Steak au Poivre. A note about Bistro Henry – the wine list was filled with reasonably priced and thoughtfully selected options. We were driving  (and only two of us are winos) so we passed, but definitely consider a bottle with your meal if you go. Thanks, Dora!

After dinner we went to Mulligan’s, the only place in town that was purported to have any nightlife. Well…I suppose if you consider a bar that is open after 8:00 p.m. to be the definition of “nightlife” you might have been impressed, but we really weren’t. And that lack of evening entertainment is, to me, the only real drawback to a couple of nights in Manchester. It’s not as if we’re hardcore, late night women, but it would have been fun to go out to hear some live music or to get silly and dance and we couldn’t find an option for either of those activities. Would I hesitate to go back? No, probably not. It’s a pleasant enough drive, and a cute spot for shopping and dining, but if you’re looking for a place to cut loose and hear music, this is not the right village for you. Go to Manchester for a wholesome and reasonably priced good time.

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Filed under Dinner, drinking, Eating, friends, Recommendations, road trips, Spring, vacation, Vermont

Do something that scares you

Yesterday I did something that scared me. And then I did it again. And again and again for a total of four times. The first time I did it, I was slightly less frightened than I had been on the chairlift. I don’t like heights. Actually riding the chairlift made getting on and off the chairlift (2 things that always prompt me to feel anxious) seem pretty mild in terms of fear generated. I was so afraid, as I rode the chairlift up to the top of the mountain, that I couldn’t even look behind myself to see the view. I tried to snap a photo without turning my head on my way up the mountain, but it really didn’t work out too well.

I went skiing by myself. In Vermont.

Why would I do something that makes me feel so fearful? What’s the point of pushing so far outside of my comfort zone?

Because the sun was shining and the air was fresh and I had a voucher that made my couple of hours cost practically nothing. Because none of the friends I was “weekending” with wanted to come. Because the mountain was 15 minutes from the hotel and hardly anyone else was there so late in the season. Because I wanted the experience. Because I couldn’t see the view until I reached the top of the mountain.

I took the green one on the left.

During my four runs down the mountain, I saw the weather change three times. I  navigated around the icy spots and basically remained in control of my skis most of the time. When I fell, after sliding a fair bit on the slick snow completely out of control, I figured out how to pick myself up. It was a challenge and I did it.

I went skiing by myself. In Vermont.

 

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, Random, road trips, skiing, Spring, Vermont

Rise

I’ll never claim to be devoutly religious, but there are things about Catholicism that ring true for me. Over the years I’ve learned to absorb the lessons of my religion in which I find meaning and reject the tenets which I find to be contrary and, while I don’t imagine myself to be a poster child for Catholicism, I do believe I represent some of the finer parts of the religion I was born into.

Easter, the most holy of holidays, has become one of my favorite Sundays. I think my fondness for the day has evolved over the years as I’ve celebrated the day with family, both in Ireland and in Germany. Witnessing the traditions of my religion, in the countries where my family continues to live, provided me with a perspective I may not have had otherwise. It’s taught me a few things, too.

  • Making the effort to put on your good clothes is an exercise in both pride and respect.
  • Believing in miracles can lift the heart and move boulders.
  • There is a season for rebirth and it comes every year. Honor it.
  • Looking for sweetness is an effort that can really pay off.
  • Attending a mass being conducted in a language that is not your own causes one to hear with one’s heart, rather than one’s ears. You don’t really have to leave the country to do that.
  • Flowers provide the most simple of joys.
  • We each have the ability to rise. Believe it.

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Filed under Europe, family, Flowers, Germany, holidays, Ireland, love, musings, Observations, Spring, sunday

When you want to run forever

Sometimes the hardest part of a run is getting your sneakers on. You know, just finding the time and the motivation to get out and get it done. Often, that first mile just feels endless as tight muscles loosen and lungs gasp to find their rhythm. I’ve learned to endure these sensations, knowing that it’s going to get better, easier, less painful. And it does if I push through and keep going.

There’s a lesson in that which goes far beyond feet and pavement.

Many runs are less traumatic to the body. They’re just an opportunity to exercise your limbs and your muscles and they provide a certain sense of satisfaction and accomplishment upon completion. I have a lot of those runs recorded in my Runmeter app. I consider them standard.

Once in a while, though, you hit a run when everything is perfect. You’re with one of the few people in the world that you enjoy running with.  The weather is ideal, with a light breeze, warm sun and shade just when you need it. The air smells incredible wafting around your head with the earthy smell of the Hudson softened by the fragrance of the last of the lilacs. The path feels flat and smooth under your feet and all you can do is smile as your legs and lungs unite to set a pace as one you feel you could maintain for countless miles.

I had that kind of run yesterday – all the way to Troy

I’m still smiling.

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Filed under Exercise, favorites, friends, musings, running, Spring, Troy, Uncategorized

Seven Sisters, 2017

When Chrissy and I registered and participated in this race last year, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It wasn’t until after I committed to the event that I read online that this particular course is considered to be the most technical trail race in New England. It was probably best that I didn’t know that ahead of time because without a doubt, Seven Sisters is the hardest race I’ve ever run. My body literally hurt for days, including in previously unimaginable places like my forearms. (That was from holding my arms up at an angle to protect myself in case of a fall.) The course for those unfamiliar is absolutely insane. There are rocks to climb, trails covered in hunks of shale to maneuver and, thanks to all the recent rain, an impressive amount of mud to slide through. The morning started with rain, but by race time all that remained was a balmy humidity and quiet enthusiasm.

Pre-race

Unlike last year, I knew what to expect this time around. As I slipped and slid through a quagmire, I did so with a smile on my face. It struck me that this race was like childbirth – afterwards you forget how frigging hard it was and sign up to do it again. If you ever would have told me that I would willingly run 12 miles of muddy trails up and down mountains, much less pay for the opportunity to do it, I would have told you that you were crazy. Seeing that I’ve done this event twice now, I guess we now know who is crazier.

One of the more tame trails.

When you run trails as challenging as these, attention to the task at hand has to be focused. Seriously, you can not look around and check out the scenery because your concentration has to be on your feet. There are uncountable ways to break an ankle or take a finish preventing spill and I was lucky to escape with only a bruise on the top of my foot, an injury that occurred early in the race and was forgotten by the second mile. I managed to stay on my feet the entire race and believe, from the comments I received from my fellow runners, that had there been an award for grace and poise I would have been a contender. I certainly wasn’t in the running for any speed awards, but my goal time in this kind of race is “uninjured,” with a casual goal of beating our time from last year, which we did by 7 minutes.

On the top. Sort of.

Two days later, stairs are painful and I’m very much looking forward to my late afternoon massage. The intensity of the hills is beginning to fade, the mud has been washed from my clothing and I’ve joked that perhaps we need to do the race again next year with a go-pro to document how rugged the course is and what bad asses we are. Maybe we’ll even PR again.

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Filed under Events, Exercise, road trips, running, Spring

Things to love about Germany


We’ve been back for about 10 days and there are some really positive impressions from our trip that I thought to share. How about one for each day we were there?

1. Roads. I don’t think I’d mind paying a 19% VAT if the money went into highways and other infrastructure. We traveled a few hundred miles on the autobahn and those roads are beautifully maintained.
2. Groceries. In Berlin we shopped at Lidl which is similar to Aldi. For less than $9 I bought the following: a fresh pineapple (fair trade), a quart of apple juice, 2 croissant, a package of sliced gouda, a large plain yogurt, a small fruit yogurt and a pint of chocolate milk. 
3. Beer. I almost exclusively drank hefeweizen, although I had the occasional shandy and in Berlin I drank a specialty beer called Berliner Weiße mit Schuss. It’s wheat beer with a shot of woodruff. Kind of sweet but a nice way to end the night, I thought. 
4. Public transit. It’s available, easy to understand and cheap. A day ticket cost approximately $7.50 and my son rode with me for free. 
5. Cleanliness. The streets, the bathrooms, the trains, with only one exception (a bathroom at a big tourist spot) all were immaculate.
6. Markets. The Munsterplatz is the place to be if you’re looking for produce, flowers, cheese, meats and prepared foods. We also checked out some markets that were more like American flea markets, also. Good deals were all over the place.
7. Flowers. Germans like their gardens and even in early spring, most homes have tended plots of land. The lilacs bursting open everywhere were lovely, too.
8. Ice cream and cake. There’s an acceptance level of these sort of items perceived by Americans as “treats,” and both were included in our afternoons.
9. Coffee. Dark, strong and delicious.
10. Punctuality. The only clock I’ve ever seen not tell accurate time in Germany was the battery operated one in our rented apartment. I love counting on the church bells and public clocks to keep track of time for me.

A bonus thing: DOGS! They were everywhere – restaurants, cafes, trains, stores, yet, not once did I see any piles of poop.

The only that I didn’t appreciate was the prevalence of cigarette smoking that still goes on. It seems like smoking is much more pervasive in Germany than in the States. I suppose I could complain that the weather wasn’t great either, but, really…spring is a crap shoot in Albany, too. At least the hail that fell on me was German hail.

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Filed under beer, Europe, favorites, Germany, Observations, Spring, travel, vacation