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
In what feels like a previous lifetime, my girlfriends and I would meet in the mountains outside of New Paltz for our annual hike. There were years before the babies came, and even a couple of years after the oldest of the babies were born, when we would simply amble along a path by the climbers and real hikers. We just wanted to be outside together and the trails of Minnewaska State Park were perfect for us.
Other than a cross-country ski adventure a winter or two ago, it’s been a while since I’ve been there. The holiday weekend, however, threw the perfect opportunity my way – a 20k trail run with one of my childhood friends. Yes, 20k, I said. Which makes it about 3 or 4 miles longer than I’ve ever run. And I mentioned it was a trail run, right? Exactly – awesome!
If you were lucky Columbus Day weekend, you got to spend some time outdoors. If you were incredibly lucky, you were running through the woods of Minnewaska State Park. It was spectacular! The leaves were not quite peak yet, but the colors were still pretty gorgeous. The sky was blue and the air was slightly more damp than crisp. It was absolutely ideal weather to run.
The path we took was an official 20k route and the terrain was very hilly, with mostly soft ground cover. We paused a number of times to take in a view or sip some water as we circled both Minnewaska and Awosting Lakes. It was all about the journey. As we ran, the sky turned to dusk. We were careful as we finished with the last couple of miles of trail all downhill and leaf-covered.
this pretty much sums up how i felt 11 miles in – great!
And I want to do it again.
It’s been one of those weeks.* I’m sure you’ve had them yourself – an event Monday night, 3 consecutive Tuesday meetings, a late night at work Wednesday, a soccer game…you’ve been there.
I’ve been longingly anticipating Sunday, the only day on this week’s calendar which is completely open. Of course, when I say “completely open” I’m being a little disingenuous. There is the Harvest Fest in the early afternoon and a planned long run in the latter part of the day. Relatively speaking, though, I am unscheduled and I couldn’t be happier.
Speaking of happy, my day was absolutely made today when my son texted me to tell me that Open House was next Thursday rather than this Thursday. Suddenly, I had been given the gift of two unencumbered hours. Sort of.
My first thought was that I should cook dinner instead of picking up pizza as I had planned. I quickly rejected that impulse because it seemed to be an unnecessary complication on a night which had suddenly been simplified. I considered whether I could fit in a run, but decided that the hour-long Tabata-style class I had squeezed in would satisfy my need for an aerobic workout.
So, instead, I made it to the second half of my son’s soccer game and enjoyed the warmth of an early October afternoon. We picked up our pizza after the game and enjoyed an easy supper before I needed to head out and drive my soccer player to the Varsity game, arriving back home to help my youngest with his math homework. With which, incidentally, I find myself struggling. What are “arrays” and why don’t kids learn their multiplication tables anymore?
Is it Sunday yet?
*I shouldn’t use the past tense. I still have a couple of bonus hours at the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark tonight and a few hours of helping out down at Oktoberfest Saturday.
Knowing me as you do, you can probably predict that there are far more things that I love about the Capital District than I hate. How about we just get the negatives on the table so we can get to the good stuff?
I really hate the careless drivers I observe during my runs around town. It would be impossible for me to count the number of red lights I have witnessed drivers blowing through, and I’m not talking about yellow lights either. These are traffic lights which have been red for at least 3 seconds, which means they were beyond stale yellow when approached. Hey drivers, how about a great big cup of slow the hell down?
My other driving related complaint is drivers not recognizing the pedestrian’s right of way. I’m not even talking about in those (fairly)new crosswalks around town. I’m talking about when a car is stopped at a stop sign or red light. A couple of weeks ago, I legitimately dodged a car when the driver, who had a red light, decided to proceed despite the fact that I was in the crosswalk directly in front of him. When I approached his window, after literally screaming and leaping out of the way of his car, he refused to even look at me or acknowledge that he had nearly hit me. Jerk.
Now, enough of that. Let me express some love for my adopted home. I’ve got two high schoolers this year and I am loving the opportunities which are available at Albany High School. My junior has a grueling schedule, complete with an AP history class and an advanced math course through HVCC. For a grand total of $150, he is earning 3 college credits, as well as the knowledge that he is capable of college level work. My freshman has thrown himself into sports, playing JV soccer on a team which looks like representatives from the United Nations, so diverse in appearance are they. There’s also rec lacrosse weekly and swimming to look forward to later this year.
This morning, my middle son and I participated in the first annual Falcon 5K, to benefit the ACSD booster club, in Washington Park. The day was picture perfect and the turnout was terrific – 500+ strong. There were dozens and dozens of student athletes and the sense of community was strong. Everything I saw, reaffirmed my choice to live and educate my children in Albany. Activities like this, and the upcoming Local Harvest Fest, are the kind of amazing, local events which add quality and connection small city living.
Shout out to all the volunteers and race planners, along with AHS alum, Jason Gough, who acted as emcee. And seriously, Pat Fahy, is the hardest working woman in local politics. I can’t go to an event without seeing her! She inspires me with her hard work and always energetic participation.
The 518 looks great.
The best part of the experience, aside from the company.
We stopped in at a little joint Sunday afternoon down in the West Village, Tortilla Flats, hereafter referred to as the place with the worst service. Ever.
Our party of three arrived at what I think of as the “shoulder season” of dining hours, around 3:30 or so. There was a distinct lack of greeting after we entered, but the bartender finally acknowledged us and directed us to the lone waiter, Mr Frazzled and Angry. Just like his hair. He agreed to seat us and selected the only unoccupied dirty table. Naturally, it needs to be bussed and wiped, which he did in between other tasks. His sense of prioritizing was poor.
We sat and perused the menu, giving the margarita list the bulk of our attention. We selected a path to tequila awareness (Sauza Hornitos) and waited for the server’s return. We waited a long ass time, actually. We waited so long that we finally sent a representative to the bar to place the order directly with the bartender. In a remarkably rapid fashion, the server brought us our pitcher, with the correct number of glasses salted (2 out of 3) and garnished with limes. Drinking commenced.
About midway through our first drinks we again flagged the server down to place an order for nachos with sides of guacamole and salsa. A short time later we received our nachos, which were unlike any nachos I’ve ever been served. They were flat, looking more like a quesadilla than a pile of crispy chips topped with cheese and beans and whatnot. For clarification we inquired if we had been served the correct item and to remind the server that we had also ordered a couple of sides and that utensils, plates and napkins would be helpful. With a remarkable level of surliness for a human being over the age of 16 or so, he retrieved our guacamole and salsa, but no plates or napkins.
At this point we were drinking our second drinks on fairly empty stomachs. You see, we didn’t have plates or napkins or utensils with which to eat our food. Even though those are all obviously, to most, considered essential items when consuming food. Eventually, once the ray of sunshine who was our “server” had cleared a neighboring table (which was unoccupied) and stood at the bar for a few minutes, we received plates and napkins. Silverware never was provided. The (finger)food was tasty.
My commitment at that particular moment in time was weighted heavily in favor of the tequila, so I elected to not sit that kid down to painstakingly itemize all of the lapses in service which he had committed. Our interlude ended on a high note when the waiter inquired how everything was – a question he posed for the first and only time as we paid the check. We were able to exit the restaurant laughing, a state I don’t imagine he was able to replicate with the paltry, yet still generous, 15% tip we left for him. At least there’s always tequila, buddy.
Yet another benefit of drinking – flower boxes!
Screw Hallmark – as far as I’m concerned, May 5th was my ideal Mother’s Day. No matter what happens next Sunday, I will cherish the day I had, from the scandalously late start to the fortified-with-an-afternoon-nap late ending – perfect! Let me be a little more specific…
Saturday night, I shot a SEEN gallery down at Prime 677. The occasion was a fundraiser for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America and it was a lovely event. The food was spectacular and the folks at Empire Wines rallied the troops to put on an extraordinary wine tasting. It’s been noted by some astute Times Union readers that whenever an event involves wine, I’m usually there. Guilty as charged.
I got home from the party working at about 10:30 only to find my little guy desperately upset that he had been denied a ‘s’more from the neighbor’s party, a situation I was able to correct with a soothing shower and some ice cream. Tucking him in at such a late hour gave me the first gift of Sunday – he slept until 10:00, which gave me an incredibly quiet morning. Soft music, strong coffee and the paper comprise my personal morning bliss trifecta. So far, so good.
After the boys departed at noon for their Dad’s, I got busy in the front yard with mulch and some annuals. The sun was glorious, birds were chirping and the simple joy of getting a little dirty made my heart sing. I had a mid afternoon visit from the person I most love spending time with and the day moved along at a pace that was completely enjoyable. I accomplished some other chores, including eating a fantastic lunch salad, and punctuated the afternoon with an indulgent nap on clean sheets. But, wait – there’s more.
Caesar salad with shaved Romano and grilled asparagus
As the day cooled down a bit, I tied on my running shoes and hit the streets for a 5-mile lap through the neighborhood. I had intended to go a bit further, but contented myself with not pushing myself too hard and tried to just enjoy myself. Done. A shower, a quick visit with the neighbors for a glass of wine and then home again for finale of the only reality show I would ever want to be on, The Amazing Race, and I was in bed by 10:15, thoroughly relaxed and satisfied with my day.
There weren’t any tulips or handmade crafts, but nonetheless it was a lovely day with a wonderful mix of boys, friends, productivity, relaxation and good food and wine. Mother’s Day 2013 is a done deal, as far as I am concerned. Any additional gifts are truly unnecessary, although I do have a fondness for the imperfectly made card along with a hankering for a French lilac bush. Just saying.
Filed under Albany, beauty, Boys, Coffee, DelSo, Eating, Events, family, favorites, Flowers, friends, Gardens, ideas, Local, love, running, SEEN, Spring, sunday, Wine