Category Archives: friends

Sacandaga Half Marathon

Working towards my goal of 25 half marathons by the time I’m 55 has me hustling and signing up for races beyond the Capital Region. Earlier this year that meant south to Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. and yesterday I went northwest to Northville, N.Y. for the inaugural running of the Sacandaga Half Marathon. While both were a bit of a drive, I’m really glad to have experienced each of them because they were just what I like in an event – small, community supported and scenic.

The drive Sunday morning provided an array of weather conditions- sun followed by rain and finally clouds, which ended up being ideal. Parking and bib pick up were as easy as I’ve ever seen. Small races really are awesome! At the 9:00 start Chrissy and I hung towards the back of pack of maybe 350 racers and committed to simply enjoying the journey. Goal set.

The course was pretty, particularly when the lake was in view. The hills were at times slightly more aggressive than rolling, but I observed that while we may not be especially fast on our feet, we eat hills. Seriously, neither of us really change pace when the hill is an incline and I was really proud of our strength. Running Muni all winter long definitely helps.

The last hour of the run was a challenge as the sun broke through and the humidity increased. Fortunately, water and Gatorade stops were plentiful and the oranges between miles 6 and 7 were a Godsend giving me a good burst of energy to tackle the remaining distance.

This was my first long run with my new inserts and my hips felt great, but the arch of my left foot was screaming. The thought of taking my shoes off was the motivation for my last mile.  I crossed the line in 4th place for my division, but honestly I think there were only 6 of us in that particular group.

Post-Race we hit up the Sacandaga Kitchenette where we had fantastic breakfast sandwiches with a side order of hand cut fries. My ham, egg and cheddar on a roll was in my top 3 of  breakfast sandwiches ever. It was absolutely delicious and the vibe in this ultra casual spot was great. We left town with hearts and bellies full. Next up – June’s New Paltz Challenge!

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Filed under beauty, breakfast, Eating, Events, Exercise, friends, Restaurants, road trips, running, Spring, sunday, upstate New York

First impressions – Galway town

I’ve only visited Galway once before and it was very brief, maybe an afternoon at best. For all intents and purposes, this is my first time here and everything is new. Except, of course, for the friends who are also here on holiday from Albany, that I got share a meal with last night. Small world in the best of ways.

The city feels cozily small.

Fish chowder, brown bread, salad & cider

Food here is excellent – I had a great lunch and delicious light dinner so far and both were superior to the meals I had on my first day in Dublin.

Staying in a traditional B&B is ideal for a two-night visit.

It seems like there are lots of European tourists here. Walking around I heard a lot of Italian and Spanish being spoken.

Despite all the tourists, it does have a college town vibe with lots of students lazing about while the sun was shining.

The Guinness is excellent.

Dublin’s street musicians are superior to the ones I’ve heard here, so far.

The smell of the sea is only a deep breath away.

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Filed under beauty, drinking, Eating, Europe, Food, friends, Ireland, Irish, Observations, Spring, travel, vacation

Grow strong

I saw something on the Facebook the other day on a page I follow. It’s a gardening/flower appreciation sort of page and there was a post about how important it is to prune plants because otherwise the parts which are struggling to stay alive will prevent the healthier parts from flourishing. It’s something that I, of course, have heard before, but for whatever reason it’s been kicking around my head ever since. Why is it such a struggle to eliminate that which no longer holds future promise? Particularly when it comes at the peril of something that demonstrates positive growth?

My relationship with plants is complicated and long. There was a time when I felt incapable of providing enough attention and support to my boys and my plants. In those days I had one plant, a vine-y sort of thing that had become mine when I was about 20 and had been my responsibility for about a dozen years at that point. It was, and continues to be, low maintenance. This plant was joined by a rubber tree, adopted when a friend moved out of town, when my oldest was in kindergarten almost two decades ago. It is a massive plant now and when I relocate it to its summer home on the back deck, I have to tip it at an angle to maneuver it out the sliding glass door. During the months it resides outside, it grows in a remarkably prolific way gaining a new shiny leaf almost every single day. It’s beautiful.

Those two plants were it for me for a long time. Gradually, though, in the last 7 or 8 years I’ve collected quite a few additional ones including a Boston fern that went full circle dead to almost lush to dead, a passion flower that has yet to bloom for me, citronella and lavender plants which I never expected to overwinter and now have done so for two years, a mature jade and an aloe, and an asparagus fern that is finally doing well. My dining room, with its soft yellow walls and dozen plants, brings me joy even on the gloomiest of days. It just feels warm and alive.

Plants aren’t necessarily as challenging to care for as children, but they do require some attention. It feels like I water, rotate and move them around pretty frequently, as I attempt to encourage them to grow. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with trimming them and cutting “off the dead and dying stuff,” as suggested on that Facebook page I referenced above, because I know intellectually that the plant will “put all its energy into keeping that dying leaf alive,” neglecting healthier parts in the process. And, who the hell wants that?

In all honesty, though, I do falter when it comes to completely giving up. That Boston fern I lovingly nurtured for years, responded to my absence at the holidays last year by dying, despite how much I wanted it to live. I don’t have the heart to throw it away, so it’s currently in a purgatory state in my kitchen. It’s either going to come back to life or be replaced in its pot by the baby Boston fern I was given a few weeks ago. Whatever it does, it’s beyond my control. I’m going to just direct my attentions to the plants which are more committed to being alive and do my best to help them grow strong.

What’s your relationship with houseplants? How are they growing?

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Filed under aging, beauty, Boys, favorites, friends, Gardens, house, musings

March on

F6431F52-59E4-4115-8790-FCB55B7A6F15Time is such a funny thing. I don’t know about you, but my own sense of time has changed so many times as I’ve grown older. I remember, as a kid, thinking that seasons were seemingly endless, especially summer. Summer was so long that I would have sworn the flowering bush in our front yard bloomed two distinct times. Some months, too, seemed crazy long, particularly March. It obviously isn’t the only 31 day month, but it is one that has always had a tendency to drag. Until recent years that is.

This year, I saw March coming and I was equal parts excited and already exhausted. There were four concerts, a weekend getaway with a special friend, overnights with the girls, two public performances (a friend’s turn taking on the Vagina Monologues and my own storytelling event), some medical appointments, and a half marathon. Plus that full-time job and tending all the males in my life…it was pretty insane, honestly.

 

I closed out the month with a reasonably mellow weekend with only two commitments – Friday night dinner out with friends and a Sunday late afternoon long run with the Luna B*tches, two related items if you consider the enormous serving of pasta that I’m still working my way through days later. I’m feeling almost caught up in terms of rest and household tasks and just about ready for April and the adventures already on the calendar for this month. No fooling.

Getting ready for Helderberg to Hudson!

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Filed under aging, Albany, Boys, concerts, Dinner, Exercise, friends, Observations, running, Spring, sunday

The (Legendary) Sleepy Hollow Half

A few months ago I had a brilliant idea – I thought it would be really cool to have a new running goal because, you know, running 1000 miles in a year isn’t enough. I decided that I’d like to run 25 half marathons by September 21st, 2021 aka my 55th birthday. It must have been a moment of exhilaration and endorphins following my 10th ½ and PR in Syracuse or something. But, I’ve now said it out loud and written it down, so, I’m committed.

Number 11 was last weekend down in Westchester. The race sounded scenic (Hudson River views!) and challenging (hills and 5+ miles on trails) and I convinced a friend to register with me, a condition that always helps to keep me accountable. As the race run approached, I focused on working through the discomfort I’ve been experiencing, particularly in my hips, by committing to yoga and my foam roller. I think it was time well spent, but I hadn’t run any distances beyond 7 or 8 miles since November’s Syracuse event, which made me a bit nervous. I decided to do my best and just enjoy the view.

Saturday morning’s weather was wretched – cold, windy and grey. I had spent the night downstate with my runnergirl friend to minimize the drive on race day, but we still needed to be on the road by 7:15 for our 9:30 start time. That gave me a solid 90 minute car ride to kick myself with regret for registering for this race. I just wasn’t feeling it and if L. had even hinted that she wasn’t either, I would have happily turned around and done something much more fun.

We arrived in the picturesque village of Sleepy Hollow about an hour before the race and parked way up high in the Middle-High School parking lot. We walked down the hill, collected our bibs and climbed back up the hill, pausing to turn around and admire the fantastic view, and returned to the car to thaw out. Did I mention that the air was raw? And that I neglected to bring gloves? Yeah. However, the people we had encountered thus far were all friendly and warm and somehow that helped me to rally and land on the starting line to begin my run.

I knew the course was reputed to be hilly, yet beyond the opening climb the first 5 miles were a piece of cake. While we started on a hard surface road, we quickly transitioned to an absolutely gorgeous trail. The wind was kicking up pretty hard, but the Hudson River never fails to inspire me and I happily made my way as the miles ticked off. Annoyingly, my running app consistently marked my miles before the official race markers which meant I hit each mile twice but at least I was warm and my body felt strong without any obvious pain.

Midway through there was a stretch that was on one lane of a two lane highway and that piece felt pretty damn long. Fortunately, the wind was at my back for the hardest inclines and once I reached the turnaround, I knew I was beyond the midway point and on my way to the finish line. But, first there were miles 12 and 13 which kicked my ass and forced me to pull off to the side of the road for a quick pigeon pose as both hips were beginning to scream. My feet joined in and there was a brief chorus of aches and pains that necessitated an increase in volume of my playlist to drown out the discomfort. The last hill was a bitch, and I couldn’t find my usual finishing kick, but I was happy enough with my time and the sunshine that was finally peeking through the clouds. Number 11 is complete. Next up – Helderberg to Hudson in April!

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, friends, road trips, running, Spring

From invisible to 518 famous

The years that I was married were busy ones. The boys were young and my husband and I worked opposite hours maximizing coverage of the children, but leaving little time for one another. As the kids grew, we grew apart until I remember a sense of invisibility appearing. I didn’t feel seen. In fact, I felt about as acknowledged as a throw pillow which had been part of a household for so long that its original bright color had faded into something no longer distinctive. It wasn’t good – or good for me.

My first post-marriage relationship, in many ways, kept me in that same shadowy place. Although I felt excited and emotionally engaged, the circumstances weren’t ideal and I felt restrained from being my best live out loud self. As a woman who increasingly wanted more – more fun, more open honesty, more life, I came to realize that the only part of my relationship that was consistently growing was my frustration. It’s taken a surprisingly long time to move from that dark place to a new vantage spot that comes with more sunshine and light. It’s getting better.

Have you heard or used the term 518-Famous? A close friend has been calling me that and it cracks me up. I absolutely love the phrase and I hope that whomever originated it did so with fondness, because that’s how I interpret being tagged as such. It isn’t a declaration of one’s value, it’s more a comment on the small, intimate circle that is Albany for a lot of people.

At an event last week there were some really nice women who had either seen  the Front Parlor storytelling event, or follow me on Instagram. They approached me knowing my name and it was pretty cool having a conversation immediately because this person you just met is familiar with your stories or perspective. While my circle of friends and acquaintances is pretty large due to many years in the hospitality industry and education, I’d like to believe that any notoriety I may own comes from this blog more than anything else. This is the place where I’m most myself publicly, I think, and where you just may have witnessed my becoming increasingly more visible. Maybe even 518 famous.

 

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Filed under aging, Albany, DelSo, Events, family, friends, Local, love, marriage, musings, Observations, relationships, secrets, upstate New York

Telling the story of A Fire, a Phonebook Page and Finding My Father

Photo credit: Jamie Thompson

I’m finally sobering up after a night that was intoxicatingly special. Friday night I was one of 6 storytellers at a public event held at the Linda Auditorium. The occasion was a celebration of the 8th anniversary of our local take on the Moth Story Hour, The Front Parlor Series, which occurs monthly in two locations; Albany and Troy.

Telling a story, without notes, in front of an audience is a nerve-wracking experience. I’ve never performed on stage or addressed an audience like I did on Friday and I wasn’t certain how to prepare for it. I knew the story I wanted to tell, the one about how I found my father’s family 30 years ago. It’s a good story, made better by the fact that it’s true. Obviously, I know the chronology of the tale and the important players, but it was challenging to decide which details added to the story and which might merely distract from the overall recounting. I began working it out on “paper.”

It took me a couple of weeks before I nailed down the segments that I wanted to include and the basic order in which to share them. I practiced in my head, honing and editing, during runs and walks and drives. I revised. My biggest concern, besides completely choking, was that I would forget a certain episode or anecdote that I knew was important. I decided it made sense to count paragraphs and associate each one with a word. That way I only needed to remember 12 things. I could do that! On Wednesday, I printed the story for the first (and only) time and made 12 flash cards, for rehearsing.

Friday afternoon, I went for a run (shocking!) opting for my usual 5 mile loop. I passed the remains of a house that had been destroyed by a recent fire. I inhaled and the scent of fire damage immediately tweaked my memory. I knew that smell. I showered, grabbed the last can of hard cider from my fridge and headed to the Linda with a couple of talismans.

The first photo I ever saw of my father, the page from the Dublin phonebook and a stone from my father’s grave fashioned into a pendant.

Somehow I imagined there would be space there for me to actually run through my story out loud. There really wasn’t, though, with 5 other performers and an increasingly full auditorium. I drank my cider, flipping through my index cards, scanning the paper copy of my story and periodically checking the crowd to see familiar faces who had promised to come. I peed three times. More quickly than seemed possible, I was being introduced and made my way towards the stage. My last thought was this – “If you get nervous, just imagine you’re just telling the story to me. You got this.”*

I exhaled, deeply and slowly, and stepped up to the mic.

*As always, thanks Aloysius

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Filed under Albany, Aloysius, Events, family, friends, girlhood, Ireland, Irish, Local, musings, Observations, stress, upstate New York, writing