Tag Archives: friends

Newport – a 1/2 marathon and a full weekend

I’ve had exceptional Columbus Day weekends over the years – some great, some not so much. This most recent one, I’m happy to report, was pretty fantastic thanks to some good friends and 13.1 miles.

Following an exceptionally fun Friday night out at an event  in Albany, we were on the road before noon on Saturday for the drive to Newport, RI. The road trip was uneventful under an overcast sky, but as we crossed the bridge into Newport the sun welcomed us. We went directly to our beautiful airbandb, got settled in and then hopped on our bikes for a quick ride to the beach to check out what would be our race start early the next morning.

Our ride was less than two miles, yet filled with beautiful homes and aggressive drivers. While the first was pleasing, the latter certainly wasn’t, but it was a good introduction to our general experience with drivers as both cyclists and pedestrians – disappointing. Drivers in Newport were not cyclist friendly at all. For a city that invites exploration, this was really unfortunate.

Following a great dinner at home of Cardona’s takeout brought from Albany, and an early night, we were back at the beach Sunday morning 30 minutes before our 7:30 a.m. start time. We had been warned about large crowds and closed roads, but had no issue getting dropped off in a convenient location – good job, JT. Portapotty lines were long, but we managed a quick bathroom visit prior to lining up at the start, optimistically with the 2:20 wave. My half marathon times range from 2:22 – 2:28, but I was hoping to break 2:20 for my first time.  Goals are good, right?

The race opened with an incline, my favorite start to get my legs stretched, before winding through Newport with its extravagant homes and beautiful scenery. There was water and Gatorade (along with portapotties) every 2 miles or so and I grabbed a drink at every single stop following a bad experience with dehydration after my last long training run. My body felt pretty good the entire race with no problems from my right IT band or glute, and only a mild twinge in my mid-back and my usual foot pain from about 8 miles until the finish. I can’t say I wanted to run any farther than 13.1 miles, but I was feeling strong and even managed to pick up my speed for the last couple of miles with the hope of meeting my goal time.

I crossed the finish line with a somewhat disappointing time of 2:21:27, but was pleased to be able to finish strong. Following the race, I enjoyed biking around town a bit, an afternoon nap and an evening walk along the Cliff Walk and I credit these activities with my surprisingly pain free post-race body. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt as good after a half-marathon before – and that was before I received an email with my official results. My adjusted finish time was 2:17:01, my new PR!

Next up: Syracuse…

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When Pollyanna met Polly

The summer after I moved into the house I currently live in, my neighbor, knowing that I would be seeking a position as a school librarian, offered to introduce me to someone who might be able to help. He offered to take me for a ride to go meet a woman who purportedly had some influence with the school district. Her name was Polly Noonan. I had no idea who she was, but my ignorance made her no less interesting on the afternoon she and I met.

I had lived in Albany for about 7 years or so, but my local history knowledge was pretty weak. I had learned a little bit about politics, mostly while serving politicians and lobbyists at either PD. Ladd’s or the original Yono’s, and what I learned took away more than a little of my idealism. I became acquainted with  who the major players were locally at the time – Jim Coyne, Tom Whalen, Jerry Jennings as an upstart and the Breslin and McEneny clans, but I had real no depth. Corning was just a tower to me. And cheap plates, of course.

On a sunny day, George and I climbed into his Ford sedan and drove over to Polly’s house. I’m sure it was arranged in advance with a phone call, but I wasn’t privy to that. We just drove up and Polly met us and welcomed us into her home. Twenty plus years later, what I most remember is an exchange we eventually had prompted by a painting on her wall.

The painting, an oil as I recall, was of a beautiful Siberian husky dog. Being a dog person and not really understanding how this dynamo of an old woman with a gravely voice was going to land me a job, I asked if it were her dog. She squawked back at me with “yes,” and then continued to say that Jack had given her the dog as a puppy. Jack Kennedy, that is. The puppy had come from a litter that had originated with a dog that had been given to President Kennedy directly from Khrushchev. Yes, that Khrushchev.

I’m certain my eyes were wide, as she matter of factly related her deceased dog’s lineage. This woman who lived in a simple house remarkably close to the thruway, (and as I’ve come to learn, near Corning Hill in Glenmont), deserved a deeper look.

Since that day I’ve told this story a dozen times, maybe even to you. It’s one of my favorite memories connected to my former neighbor, who I continue to miss years after his passing. Reflecting on it, I think it may have been the exact moment that I first began looking at Albany as being an interesting place with lively history, rather than merely a location for a good quality life at an affordable price.

I didn’t receive a job in the Albany school district, but since that day, I have gotten quite an education about my adopted beloved city. I now know stories about Albany and I find it to be a fascinating little city. Thanks, Polly.

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Filed under Albany, Education, Local, Observations, politics, Schools, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Celebrate yourself – like a grand dame

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From one grand dame to another…

It’s Wednesday and I’m almost recovered from a fairly epic weekend. I understand that people sometimes have complicated feelings about birthdays, or maybe more specifically aging, but my philosophy is that each one is to be honored and celebrated. You know that Pink Floyd lyric about “shorter of breath and one day closer to death,” right? Well, the way I see it, each birthday that passes is one less that I get to commemorate and I don’t want to waste a single one.

Here’s a recap for you to maybe take inspiration from –

● A hair appointment after work. A little pampering is the perfect way to fill the gap between school and dinner, I think. Maybe you do something similar?

● Dinner at a favorite spot with a favorite person – or two, as the case may be. When our cozy table for two was crashed by a third, it just made the evening more festive. Perfect doesn’t always appear exactly as what we may have planned.

Lark Fest – at least on the early side when I was there, was a fun time. I love when the street is closed to traffic and wandering around checking out booths and eating yummy food is always a win-win.

● Taking a run to work off the eggplant and red wine from the previous night and to prep for the evening of…

● Dancing at June Farms’ 80s Dance Party. What a blast! This has quickly become one of my favorite places to spend time, especially when I’m lucky enough to be with good friends, which has been the case every single time I’ve been there.

● A Sunday morning 5K expanded to a 7+ mile run with the Luna B*tches. It was a beautiful morning to participate in a great local race.

● Some time spent with the New York Times and my youngest son before heading to…

● Saratoga Springs and the Outlaw Festival with two of my oldest friends. I haven’t seen SPAC full like that in a long time and wish I had a chance to connect with all of the folks I knew were there, but it just wasn’t possible.

● My favorite pastry and coffee combo on Monday morning before the drive south.

● An afternoon massage to work out that knot in my right piriformus/IT band.

● Dinner on New Scotland Avenue with my son to take advantage of their Restaurant Week.

● A hot bath & bed.

Was it indulgent? Yes. Did I feel special? Absolutely. Is this something that is possible every single year? No way, but in a month that also includes 2 funerals and a wake, I won’t apologize for how I spent my weekend. Life is short, friends. There’s only so much time to work on becoming a legend to your future grandchildren. You’d better get busy!

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Filed under aging, Albany, birthdays, Boys, breakfast, concerts, Dinner, drinking, Eating, Events, Exercise, favorites, friends, Local, relationships, running, Saratoga, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Getting your goat – goat yoga at June Farms

When I first starting hearing about goat yoga, I was puzzled. Outdoors yoga is kind of a hit or miss for me and I didn’t really understand the appeal of having a small barnyard animal messing around with my downward dog. What was the point of that? I take my yoga somewhat seriously, preferring a 75 minute class in a super hot room. I mean, I go to yoga to stretch and sweat, not to be climbed on by farm animals, with the potential for poop as an added bonus.

 

But, when your dear friend escapes unscathed from an earthquake and wants to go to goat yoga – you go. Especially when your favorite studio, The Hot Yoga Spot, is sponsoring the class and it is taking place in a spot as beautiful as June Farms. So, off we went on a recent Tuesday.

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We arrived early, as suggested, and had plenty of time to use the lovely bathrooms and stroll down to the goat pasture. We set up our mats and were eventually part of a group of approximately 70 attendees, outnumbering the goats by a solid 60 people. The field we were in was reasonably flat and surprisingly devoid of bugs, one of my biggest distractions usually when doing yoga outdoors.

Our instructor was terrific, balancing traditional yoga with a lighthearted approach when it came to the goats’ participation. The goats were not incredibly interactive, preferring to fill their faces with leaves within their reach, but a few times they did prompt laughter with their antics. They have a real curiosity and were interested in the folks who were closest to their feeding spot, exploring their mats, shoes and other possessions. There was some pooping, but I don’t believe the goats directly sullied anyone, and while their amorous activities elicited some giggles, we basically did yoga and they did goat. It was great. 57971B61-25E5-4533-8102-ABF234990F37

When the class ended there was a crowd trying to create an Instagram worthy pose and the goats didn’t disappoint. With the slightest encouragement, along with the tantalizing offer of fresh leaves, the goats were happy to “top” one’s table by climbing up on one’s back. I personally didn’t feel the need to take it that far, but it was fun watching the antics.

Goat yoga at June Farms will be continue through the month of September on Tuesday evenings and I recommend Kay’s as the perfect place for pizza and a beer after class.  Beyond that, there’s The Hot Yoga Spot and their multiple locations to get your asana on and plenty of local places to get a good beer.

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, favorites, friends, Local, Recommendations, Summer, Uncategorized, yoga

Albany XXX

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Amsterdam

What’s up with that title, right? Is it porn? Extra large? Nope…Roman numerals – thirty, as in thirty years since I first moved to Albany.

In August of 1988 I was 21. I moved here knowing not a single person, other than Mary Panza who I was lucky enough to meet when her roommate tried to seduce me find me an apartment in his role as a real estate agent. The summer of ‘88 was hot, so damn hot. There was a heat wave that was unrelenting. I traveled to England and the Netherlands in July that year and I loved every day of dreary, damp weather we experienced abroad.

That first trip to Europe changed my life. It opened so many doors and windows and made me a traveler in a way I had never imagined. I had met a guy on the ferry on my way back to London and was acutely aware that he was great, but that the timing was not. We did, however, make some lovely memories and everyone should know the excitement of a long distance romance. When a man flys into jfk, hops into a rental car and drives to Albany to spend 2 days with you…well, you feel kind of special. I hope you know that feeling.

Albany charmed me from my very first visit when I found my way to Lark St.and enjoyed a fancy brunch at The Beverwyck. Once I got a handle on the size of the city (it’s always felt small to me, initially a disappointment but ultimately an asset), and began connecting faces and names, history and legend, I settled in with interest and made a life here.

Albany has witnessed my greatest joys. I got married here, right in Washington Park on a picture perfect Sunday afternoon. I own a house and pay taxes in the city and appreciate the privilege of both of those being possible because of the education (and degrees) I received from SUNYA. My children were born here and are students in the city school district and, while the education they receive may not be as immediately impressive as the high test scores and college acceptance rates of the suburbs, I do know my sons have learned a lot about getting along with people who don’t necessarily look or think like they do. Lessons in life count too.

I started running, an activity I never could have imagined I’d love, while a student at UAlbany and have run thousands of miles around this city.  I’ve learned to write and take photos and have been lucky to share some of my passions with an interested audience.  The opportunities here have been limited only by my own level of competence.  It’s been so cool, really.

Albany, though, has also been the setting for some of my saddest days. There are places around this town that are absolutely haunted for me – spots that I do my best to avoid because of the personal ghosts. The news, both domestic and international, that I’ve witnessed while living in Albany, has left an imprint as well. Princess Diana dying, the towers falling, the children murdered in whatever most recent school shooting…I can tell you exactly where I was for each of those breaking stories. I’ve shed a lot of tears in this town. Believe it.

After 30 years, I love Albany more than ever. The happiness I’ve known in this city that receives credit for how easy it is to get to places “to which you really want to go,” has far outweighed the heartaches I’ve experienced. I’m not sure what the future holds, (once I hit my 30 years teaching, who knows?), but these three decades have been the most productive, challenging and exciting times of my life and I wouldn’t have wanted to live them anywhere else.

Thanks, Albany xx

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Coming clean

Welcome to one of the saddest days of my life year.

Even though it happens every year, if I’m lucky, the final morning on Cape Cod always leaves me feeling melancholy. There’s something about knowing that it’s the last time I’ll be seeing the ocean and smelling the salty air that punctuates my summer in a way that makes me feel down. There’s just nothing like the Cape.

This year’s time has been particularly sweet. I have some really special people in my life and was lucky to share time with them in one of my favorite places on earth. There was a wonderful mix of my oldest childhood friends, folks I have met through the years at various jobs and someone kind of new who makes me laugh and wonder why I had allowed myself to live without such simple joys for so many years.

Although my friends all came to me in different ways, there are common experiences we each share and it turns out, we know a lot of the same people. Sometimes our knowledge of mutual friends is pretty consistent, but other times it seems that individually we’ve been exposed to very different facets of these common acquaintances. Information shared over cups of coffee and delicious cocktails made with fancy rum can reveal character in ways unimaginable. It’s kind of remarkable and, to be completely honest, more than a little disconcerting to learn that sometimes we indeed knew very little about someone for whom we spent years caring. How do people live such deceptive and duplicitous existences – and why would they ever expect to get away with it?

This morning I took my last outdoor shower of vacation. The water was hot and I used the soap my new friend turned me on to and then left behind for me to enjoy. The bar of soap I had brought with me from home, a gift from someone I apparently never knew, was abandoned in the shower. When I dried off, I felt clean, fresh and ready to move forward in a way that is becoming more natural and healthy every day.

See you next year, Cape Cod. Minus the dirt, please.

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In pursuit of perfection

When I instruct 6th graders on bibliographic formatting I always tell them that perfect is never my goal, except for in MLA citations. Beyond that, perfect is not my expected, or even necessarily desired, outcome. I don’t need perfect.  Authentic and true is more than enough for me.

This year’s Cape vacation has come with some moments that absolutely took my breath away. Simple joys – friends, good food, sunshine, stretched legs and a tired dog. It’s been heavenly. Yesterday Jeter swam in our pond and he was so happy that my heart almost burst. As he paddled towards me with water rolling off his back and light shining from his eyes, I took a minute to take a mental snapshot to add that moment to the other ones from this wonderful past week.

The pace of this vacation has been ideal. The first couple of days were spent as a duo (or trio if you count Jeter) and the weather was kind of overcast. It was a great way to ease into the week and become familiar with both our surroundings and each other in this new place. It was quiet and sweet and left us in the perfect position to greet our first friends with an easy and happy warmth when they began to arrive.

By midweek we were in full swing and hosted a rager mixer with friends joining us from their own vacation homes for a great afternoon/evening of walks and drinks and dinner and so much laughter. It was an epic blend of people, alcohol and sand and it was one of the most fun days I’ve ever had. Sun up to sun down, I wouldn’t have changed a single thing. Thursday was similarly full and our evening spent at Race Point was amazing, even if the array of folks around the bonfire was shy a few faces. Effortless, organic fun.

The weather has once again shifted to windy and overcast and we’re down to two (and Jeter, of course) again. We’re vacillating between sitting around in a relaxed puddle and checking a few more things off our list of intended activities. It’s too early to tell which way will win, but I imagine whichever way we go it will be as close to perfect as I ever need life to be.

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