Sunday, August 28, 2011

Puppy Love

Yesterday, I received the call that every puppy lover dreads: I won't be seeing this little face when I get home on Tuesday:

seriously, how cute?? I die.

Maggie passed away on Friday after months of illness and years [read: her entire life] of being morbidly obese, lazy and adorable.

I'll miss you Mag, your talents in sleeping and snuggling were unparalleled and you always made me smile. Enjoy puppy heaven - I hear there are lots of snacks!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Leaving New York with a bang...and a hurricane

So I went from slightly irritated by the upcoming storm to full-on panicked. I actually went out and bought bottled water and some non-perishable snacks {wheat thins, peanut butter, chocolate - all the essential food groups}. I have filled up our bathtub with water. Mayor Bloomberg suggested doing so, and at first I laughed at the suggestion. First of all, how absurd that the hurricane is being projected as so aggressive that the mayor is giving out such detailed instructions? Second of all, what am I supposed to do with that water...drink it? Ish don’t think so.

absolutely not, Mayor.

My close friend (the one who took me here!) enlightened me to the horrifying truth of what a bathtub full of water means. It means having to boil the water for drinking, cooking, or teeth-brushing. It means having to manually make your toilet flush. Ew. Ew Ew Ew Ew Ew.

Can I go back to the Midwest now?

I’ve also become concerned that the inevitable flight cancellations this weekend will lead to mayhem at the airport throughout the week next week, delaying my flight home on Tuesday. Making matters worse, I have a layover in Detroit, so if my first leg is altered that affects my entire trip. Making matters even worse than that is that I am already an obnoxiously anxious flyer/mover/person and this wrinkle is about to give me high blood pressure.

What if my movers aren’t able to move me out at 9 am on Monday?

What if I can’t get all of my things out of my apartment before my flight out?

What if my flight is delayed beyond when I have my lease?

What if my building won’t give me my security deposit back because I didn’t move out when I said I would?

What if I am stuck here forever?

My boss tried to talk me out of a tree and give me pointers on meditating and finding my zen. Thank you, but I think I’m going to go ahead and continue freaking out.

And this is me without coffee. Imagine me with it - no, actually, don’t. That is the stuff horror films are made of. 

Any tips for survival?
Are you in the path of Hurricane Irene?
Have you ever had to fill your bathtub with water for emergency purposes??

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Goodbye, bridle path. Goodbye, outer loop and lower loop.

In addition to having to say goodbye to my quasi-boyfriend, Equinox, I also have to say goodbye to my favorite running routes. There are only two, so it won't be too difficult.

I live a block away from Central Park, so I obviously frequent the outer path of the park for 95% of my runs. I don't tangle too much with the inner paths because, um, I get lost. runs could be slightly more variant.

When I really can't stand the same scenery, I am fortunate enough to live on the west side of Manhattan (so much better than the east side, don't listen to anyone who says differently - they are liars and not to be trusted on any matter) and not too far away from the West Side Highway running path, which stretches both south and north. I used to frequent this path during my marathon training as I could run all the way up to Harlem through Riverside Park and then down to the very southern-most tip of Manhattan through Hudson Park, Battery Park and sprinklings of other parks of which I don't know the proper names. This route allowed me a good amount of distance in without having to do laps of anything. Always a plus.

This summer, I've had the opportunity to add a third route to my list: Park Avenue on Saturday mornings, also known as Summer Streets! I love the new route, the ability to cover vast amounts of land, and of course the free samples!

Other running "routes" I've enjoyed include the Brooklyn Half Marathon course, the Queens Half Marathon Course, and the Hamptons Half Marathon course. I was hoping to add one more to that list this weekend with the upcoming Bronx Half Marathon, unfortunately it seems that Hurricane Irene did not hear of my plans and is doing her darndest to thwart them.

I've been discussing options with my running friends for how we should approach the race and the consensus seems to be: sleep in. On Sunday, that is. On Friday, talks are in progress for meeting at 6 am to get in a good 13 miles before work.

are we sure that's a good idea?

One thing I am particularly delighted about is that while I will have to bid adieu to my favorite running routes I will not have to endure a dramatic goodbye with my favorite running friends. The benefit of developing friendships through a sport like running is that you can continue to see each other at races since we are all crazy and love travelling cross-country to run further in one morning than most people would like to in one lifetime. A large group of us are looking into forming teams for this winter's Miami Ragnar Relay because you know where I don't want to be this winter? Anywhere but Miami!

 What are your favorite running routes?
Do you want to run from Miami to Key West with me?!?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Seeing the single digits

In college, it was a well known fact among my friends that I did not see "the single digits." Meaning - my pupils did not show themselves to the world prior to 10 am, so help me.

I was recently reminiscing about a college class that was, ahem, not my favorite (it was math...okay, fine, it was a liberal arts logic class that fulfilled my math requirement) and how difficult it was to wake up for class, particularly on Fridays after senior bar nights on Thursdays. I remember it being nearly impossible to feel alive in a class that began at 10 the middle of stating this, my friend reminded me that the class actually started at 11. Oh my.

Oddly enough in the spring semester of my senior year, I  began waking up in time for breakfast. Even more impressive was that I did so although I only had class on Tuesdays and Thursdays (yes, my schedule was that good). Call it growing up, call it a love of eating as much "free" food as possible, call it what you will, I began my journey towards morning-person-dom.

Now I'm renowned for not seeing the double digits - as in, my roommates can confirm that I prefer to go to bed at 9:30. I'm 24. I'm cool, I promise.

For some reason, sleeping from 9:30 to 5 is so much more restful than sleeping from midnight to 7:30 am. I get my workouts in before work leaving me plenty of time for playtime in the evenings and an overall feeling of productivity at the end of the day.

I am now in the last week of my membership at my beloved Equinox (another thing those close to me can attest to is my abnormal appreciation for my gym - a friend called me and before even asking how I was, asked how Equinox was, as though we were in a relationship...which we might be) and am soaking up every precious second of the amazing yoga and pilates classes they offer.

One of my favorite classes is Tuesday morning pilates with the cutest, chirpiest Bonnie. Awesome because of her 90s playlists, her sweetness in spite of the fact she is lighting our abs on fire, and the fact that she shares the name of my precious childhood guessed it, Bonnie.

BONNIE!!!! circa 2000.
I have already been picking the brain of this savvy St. Louisan for gyms back home, but I have my serious concerns that anywhere will have the mescla of challenging classes, Kiehl's shower products (how else can I justify the exorbitant price of membership) and the amazing, spa-like smell? Yes, the smell. Sometimes I can smell Equinox on me...and it's intoxicating.

What do you love about your gym?
Have you ever had to break up with a gym?
Are you an early bird or night owl?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cleaning, the delicious way

I've always had a waste-not want-not mentality. In every day situations, I apply this by eating everything on my plate and wearing clothes I bought in high school (don't judge, I get compliments on 2005 purchases more than you would believe!)

Now, as I am preparing to move out of my NYC apartment and I am actually the last of my three roommates inhabiting the place (yes, it's creepy and weird and no, I do not have anywhere comfortable to sit) I am trying my best to clean out the space and use the remainder of all items that we purchased over the past year for our (actually, not so!) little abode.

This means that later I will be placing Swiffer wet wipes on my feet to clean our floor, fully reading all of the magazines before tossing them (I love magazines and have the most difficult time throwing them away - anybody with me?), and I am trying to find recipes to clear out all of the still-edible items in our pantry and refrigerator.

Lucky for me, these items include: white sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, eggs...yes, yes, all of the components for brownies, my favorite food in the world!

brownies, and my baking companion little bunny frou frou

Of course, I put these brownies together without sifting any of the dry ingredients, without an electric mixer, and all in a stove pot. Desperate times. And of course, the items in our pantry strictly prevented me from health-ifying these brownies in any manner. Oops.

I didn't come up with this recipe on my own as that's simply not the sort of thing I do, but if you're in the market for a good one, you can find the one I used here. And I can give you this one tidbit: If you're moving and you don't have any vanilla extract and don't want to buy any for the last week you're in the time zone, maple syrup can act as a substitute teaspoon for teaspoon, with no taste attached! Take it from me, I am a brownie expert. Also, if you have white chocolate chips on hand (I didn't) throw them in and don't look back!

Now I'm off to go make my co-workers fat and happy in their last week with me, those lucky ducks!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Moving Blues

My apartment building in New York is an old, beautiful building. We have a faux fire place. We have built-in bookshelves. The lobby smells of rich mahogany. In short, I love it. I do not love our leasing director. First of all, he's mean. Second of all, he's very strict.

We are required to hire movers to move in and out of our apartment and these movers must be able to provide mover's insurance to our building. We can only move between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday - Friday. So, you know, my free time. Not!

Also, our leasing director has zero concern for the fact that I am moving not across town, but across country (sort of) and am not actually taking any furniture with me. As he put it "Whether you're taking it to a new apartment or to the dump, you need movers." So what you're saying is...I need to hire movers (approximately $300 for a three hour minimum moving period) to take my mattress to the side of the curb. Awesome.

If you live in New York, and you'd like to help a poor, needy young woman, you can do so by buying this awesome breakfast table.

awesome, am I right??

My hope is just to have nothing that movers could possibly move. I'd also hate to trash this table, because look at it! It's beautiful!

Any Manhattan-ites out there with a lack of awesome furniture...don't be shy, make me an offer!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Au revoir, Grande Bold with Soy

I have a very exciting announcement. I have not had coffee in an entire week. For many of you, seven days without coffee may seem normal. For some of you, that might seem like a bit of a stretch but nothing too crazy. For me, I assure you, it is monumental. I'm not one of those who downs ten espressos a day, however, I cannot start my day without a full mug or two of the good stuff. I think it's partially the caffeine and partially the ritual of brewing and imbibing as part of my regular morning routine, but regardless of the root, I have decided that it is getting out of hand and adding far too much to my grocery bill.

I miss very much

Yesterday I attempted my first morning run sans coffee. Ordinarily, I wake up about an hour before I need to hit the road, brew some coffee, hang out with it and eventually get myself ready for my run. This process means that I have to get up e-a-r-l-y. With some coffee in me though, I have no trouble getting in a decent run and off too work without too much yawning.

Enter the decaffeinated run. I was so excited to be able to sleep in a bit more (6:15, let's not get crazy) and thought I would have time to get in a longer run - I usually am only able to squeeze in 4-5 miles in the mornings. What I did not account for is how unbearably slow I would be moving. Yikes. There were a few people around me running quite quickly which I could neither mentally nor physically comprehend. I ultimately completed 4 miles at a 9:44 minute/mile pace which for me is actually egregiously slow. My marathon pace schools that. I also felt as though I was suffering from some form of heartburn - rather inexplicable and probably totally unrelated to my caffeine intake or lack thereof...anyway...

My only thought was - it can only get better...right? My hope is to run the Bronx Half Marathon uncaffeinated and as I have seven days to prepare my body for that, I'm sure I'll be able to acclimate {you couldn't tell, but that was sarcasm}

I'm not by any means trying to cut coffee out of my diet completely ~the horror~ I would just like to feel as though I can wake up naturally without it. Coffee is a delicious treat and should be treated as such, not as a daily dietary supplement. I'm aiming for three weeks without it as I read somewhere that developing a pattern over three weeks is a long enough time to form a new habit.

hello, lovah

In related news, I fell asleep last night at 7 pm with all of the lights on. Not everyone can have a Friday night like Katy Perry.

Have you ever tried to give something up?
Are you, also, addicted to coffee?
Should I just go drink some?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Treadmills are boring

That is the actual name of a playlist I created to encourage me to complete speed workouts - or any workouts, for that matter - on the treadmill, because guess what, it's true. Treadmills are boring.

Even armed with my mighty, up-beat playlist, my best laid plans to last more than five minutes on the t-mill often fall quickly asunder and I putter over to a pilates class, or the elliptical, or, you know...home...

My motivation has skyrocketed, however, since my discovery of interval training - you can get an even better workout than the slow steady run, get it done quickly and maintain level of interest? Where do I sign up?

The best part is, you don't actually have to sign up, you just have to climb on your treadmill. Or your gym's treadmill - so I guess you do have to sign up for that one. I digress. Some of my favorites have included this one (note: hard) this 'family of ones', if you will, and the most recent one I've conquered: this one from the cutest Gina which I love because it mixes hill intervals, sprint intervals, and gets me sweaty and off the treadmill in 30 minutes flat so I can do more important things, like enjoy tapas and happy hour margs with these loca chicas:

more fun than a barrel of treadmills!

Any fave interval workouts out there, for either on or off the tread? 
Any new, distracting workout songs I should download?
Help a sista out!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm baaaack!

Well, that was a fabulous staycation! I enjoyed a four-day weekend with my cousin prowling around NYC, giggling at her awe of all of the things I now completely take for granted. It's such a joy to see a city I've been living in through new eyes and was an aptly timed trip as I had the opportunity to do some final touristing and appreciating of the city before I depart for good in...less than two weeks, today!

Brace yourself, because there are about to be more photos in this one post than in the entirety of my blog....

at The Plaza! 
Yes, I made her pose for this. She'll appreciate me later.

in Central Park!

crossing the Brooklyn Bridge!

free doggy bags in Brooklyn!
 I felt compelled to take this iconic photograph as a mental note that they do not have such things in Manhattan...welcome to DUMBO! (By the way, if you are not a New Yorker and come into town, Dumbo is a must visit! you heard it here, folks.)

Anne and the Empire State Building!

slightly sweaty after a long day....
It's very apt that we're posing beneath the "Vegetarian Burger" posting as that is what we all got. I actually despise ordering the same thing as other people so I was none too pleased. We also ordered the same thing at lunch the next day...seriously peeved.

girls at Lucky Strike!
No, I didn't wear the same outfit four days running - these are all taken on the same day. And yes, we did go to The Plaza, Central Park, Brooklyn, Ground Zero, City Hall, West Village and SoHo...all on day one. I told you I get aggressive.

Luckily for Anne, day two consisted of a whole lot of this out at Long Beach:

a lil greasy post-beach time
And the rest of the weekend was filled with rain, providing ample time for much-needed napping and a viewing of "Crazy, Stupid Love" (so cute!)

Now it's Wednesday already and I need to get a' packin' for the big move!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Little girls in the Big City!

Apparently I love comparing random days to Christmas and today is no exception. Today feels like Christmas. Why, you ask?

Because I am getting a visit from my sweet cousin Anne for five whole days starting this evening!

Anne is a rising senior in college in Chicago and has never been to the Big Apple so I am looking forward to taking her all over this city to some of my favorite places: Babycakes vegan bakery, Cafe Blossom vegan restaurant, a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, Summer Streets, Pure Food & Wine for dessert (also vegan, noticing a trend here? I hope she hates eggs), the Highline (a must for visitors, in my book!), my friends' summer share in Long Beach for a day of sun & fun...I wonder if she knows this vacation will be about as relaxing as running a marathon?

I have a tendency to really keep my guests busy during visits. The thought that they might be bored for five seconds terrifies me and I want them to love wherever we are just as much as I do! Anyone who visited me in Saint Louis during college breaks or Colby while I was a student there (okay, that was one person...thanks Nicole) or now New York can tell you...I am an aggressive tour guide. A few years ago a former flame of mine was visiting me in St. Louis and I remember him saying, as I was hustling him out the door to our 345th activity of the day that he was there to see me, not the city. Well, sorry. You are going to see everything, do everything, eat everything, and you will like it.

I am going to actually try to remember to bring my camera with me this weekend to provide photographic evidence of our assault on NYC.

Do you love hosting as much as I do?
Are you an aggressive planner or more laissez-faire?
Can you help me relax?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The streets of summer

After being a lazy cat for most of last week, I struck back at exercise with a vengeance with a casual 13.4 mile run on Saturday. But this wasn't just any run - this was a run down Park Avenue with no traffic! How can this be, anyone who has ever been in Manhattan might ask? Guidebooks recommend that visitors drive in the city under absolutely no circumstances as traffic conditions are so hairy. There is one instance, however, during which the casual runner/biker/walker/skater/unicycler?? owns. the. road.

Summer Streets. It's the best! Park Avenue/Broadway is blocked off from 72nd street all the way until the Brooklyn Bridge. There are yoga classes, aerobics classes, drinking fountains, free bike and skate rentals, free samples of all sorts of exciting things and medical tents, should the need arise. You better believe I grabbed a shot of an Odwalla Chocolate Protein smoothie and then proceeded to run the greater portion of those 13.4 miles with an Odwalla bar and applesauce squeeze bottle in my sweaty little hand. Weird? Maybe. Awesome? Definitely. I've said it once, I'll say it again: I love free stuff.

I ran a portion of the Summer Streets with my friends Jacqui and Sara (the carebears from Brooklyn!) who are training for the Marine Corps Marathon and ING New York Marathon, respectively. One order of business regarding races that we discussed was weird race shirts. They should be articles of clothing you can wear with pride while brushing the dirt of your shoulders, but too often, they are ugly, ill-fitting and just plain wrong. I was going to complain about one or two of the shirts that I've gotten, however, I think Jacqui won the prize with her Marine Corps 2010 t-shirt which was not a t-shirt at all, but more of a mock turtleneck. Dear race directors...why, why would you ever do that?

stylish, yes...but appropriate for athletic endeavors?

We capped off our Saturday with a margarita brunch at Benny's Burritos {allow me to quickly recommend the veggie burrito with a curry tortilla!} and a matinee of Friends With Benefits...yup, saw it, loved it, no shame.

What's the weirdest race shirt you've ever gotten?
Seen any good movies lately? Bonus points for cheesiness!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hot hot heat and when not to PR

I am very competitive with myself. I want every race to be a PR and can really berate myself when it's not.

Last weekend, I was hoping to dominate the Queens Half Marathon despite the weather reports about the humidity and 90 degree temperatures on race day, the {scientific} rumors I had heard about reducing your running speed by 20% in extreme heat, and my own experience running {slowly} on hot days.

The evening before the race, I checked the statistics from the Queens Half 2010 out of curiosity. Welp, as it turns out, my finishing time at the Brooklyn Half Marathon would have had me as the top finisher in my age division at last year's Queens Half. Seeing as how I finished 13th at Brooklyn, this gave me great pause.

The second nail in the coffin to my PR dreams came at race start, when the temperature was already 80 degrees at 7 am. Seeing that on the Weather Channel app on my iPhone, I took a deep breath and said to myself something along the lines of, "girl, just get out there and have fun."

Fortunately I had pre-selected a killer playlist, as by mile 3 I was too sweaty to manage the touch-screen of my iPhone and skip through songs. I was also, therefore, too sweaty to keep track of my time as I had initially intended to and as I had so religiously done during the Brooklyn Half.

Ultimately, I am so glad. I was able to chill out and enjoy the race for what it was. The course was surprisingly lovely as we stayed almost exclusively in the interior of Flushing Meadows Park, running past the Billie Jean King court where the US Open is staged and Citi Field, home of the Mets {insert sarcastic joke here} The only horrible highway-view stretch was at around miles 9 and 10 - not the best time for a boring view - but really a small fraction of the race itself.

The final nail in the coffin for my PR dreams was cramp city, which hit around mile 10 and which I fully inhabited for the rest of the race. BUMMER.

I was not too thrilled with how I felt, physically, as I finished the race. However, in checking my stats online afterwards, I finished 13th in my age division again -- same as at Brooklyn {similar number of participants - both races were sold out}, where I felt fabulous! So it turns out, everyone else was also running slower and probably hanging out uncomfortably in cramp city too.

My final thoughts on Queens?

The course is pretty good, considering. I definitely think it is a superior course to the Manhattan half, which is two laps around Central Park. Excuse me, I do that every weekend for free, I really don't need to enter into a race for that one.

my poor attempt at mid-run photography - running around the world!

The "fun stuff" is truly and appalingly lacking. We got a cotton t-shirt. Not dri-fit. No bag. No coupons for Queens restaurants and activities. In contrast, Brooklyn provides a huge coupon packet for goods and services in the Coney Island and Prospect Park areas to encourage non-Brooklynites to take off their coats and stay a while. We were pretty much encouraged to depart the borough immediately upon finishing. Nothing to see here, folks.

Also, as I mentioned in my Brooklyn re-cap, the bananas are disappearing left and right. We got plums at race end. I'm not trying to knock plums, they are a great fruit, I sure ate mine, but...really?

In any case, I had more important things to concern myself with: getting my bottom home, showered, and on the New Jersey Transit for a weekend of sun, fun and friends!

Next up: Da Bronx. Here's hoping I run into J. Lo!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Garden State Weekend

Last weekend I accomplished two things I am proud of:

1. Ran the Queens Half-Marathon (more on that lata)

2. Won a heated game of Thumper at a house party in New Jersey

For those of you unfamiliar, Thumper goes by other names: Zoo and Animal Kingdom are two I've heard, and is in the genre of "camp games" traditionally played by the under-ten set.

So naturally, when you have 25 college graduates between the ages of 22 and 25 in a house, you spend your night playing Thumper and Charades. (I don't think anyone was counting, but I think I single-handedly lost at Charades for my entire team. Thank goodness I had my Thumper victory to keep my self esteem afloat)

a...a....a Tree grows in Brooklyn!


At the end of August, I will be leaving New York to return to my beloved hometown, St. Louis, a move I could not be more excited about. What I am not excited about, however, is that I will likely miss out on many such parties as this one. One of my friends estimated that there is a close-knit group of 50 of us, a figure which I think is on the conservative side. We have a huge and wonderful group of friends, most of whom live between Boston and Washington D.C., and we all put in a concerted effort to see each other a few times a year. And it is amazing.

flip cup on a raft? YES.

it's a tough job...but someone's got to do it.

The support, positivity, and laughter received from true friends is immeasurably important in living the best life possible. I will miss these crazy mules (our college mascot!) so much and hope to continue to make it to our larger least once annually!