Category Archives: road trips

A due date becomes a do date – 22 years later, that is

My first pregnancy was pretty dreamy – I conceived the exact month I wanted to, which meant my maternity leave would be perfectly integrated with my academic calendar. The Lilly baby was due April 5th, which would give me about 6 weeks home, followed by 6 weeks back at work, and then summer off. It all seemed pretty ideal.

Of course, Liam was born 5 1/2 weeks early, arriving at the end of February, rather than early April. Obvious proof, of course, to support the theory that parenting is state of being that can not always be controlled. That perspective, along with the knowledge that once your child almost dies, subsequent things that occur to them make one both less concerned, and more inclined to worry, are how I’ve rationalized a lot of things in the last 22+ years. So far, so far mostly good.

So good! Pizza Suprema.

When it came time to celebrate my oldest’s most recent birthday, we headed to NYC, a full six weeks after his actual birthday, but the day before his original due date. He was interested in seeing a performance at the Metropolitan Opera House and it was challenging to synchronize our calendars and that of the Met to get to the opera that he wanted to see. We were able to find a mutually good date on Thursday and grabbed Amtrak to the city, leaving ourselves barely enough time to eat a couple of slices, get checked in to our hotel and catch the subway to Lincoln Center.

We were cozy in our upgraded seats (When we picked up our tickets at Will Call the man helping us said he had “something better for us.” Turns out that was 11th row center in the orchestra. Bonus!) when the chandeliers lifted to the ceiling and the lights went down. The music was fantastic and the conductor led the orchestra with as much well placed energy as I’ve ever seen. Take this all with a grain of salt – I know nothing about music or conducting.

Don Giovanni is a wonderful opera and the costumes, sets and singing created an experience which was satisfying. I mean, come on, the cad gets his comeuppance! Everyone loves when that happens. While the demise of Don Giovanni was dramatic and well depicted with fire, there were also some more lighthearted scenes with clever dialogue and wit. Admittedly, I dozed a bit here and there, but I don’t believe I missed much. I had feasted on the production and felt sated. It was way better than a C-section.

#renttherunway #openingceremony

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Filed under aging, beauty, birthdays, Boys, concerts, Events, moms, Music, NYC, pizza, road trips, Spring, theater

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

Memories of Miami

Last weekend, while Albany hunkered down for a powerful snowstorm and arctic temperatures, I hopped on a nonstop flight to Ft. Lauderdale. Ultimate destination: Miami Beach. Despite the government shutdown, my timing was good and I made it through Albany International (*giggle*) Airport security in no time and boarded the JetBlue flight in the second group, pretty much ensuring that there would be space for my carry-on bag. I’d been burned in both directions on my recent trip to California when I’d had to surrender my bag to be checked and I had no time to waste waiting on checked luggage on a tight weekend. Minutes count, you know?

 

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Following a comfortable flight, my first on JetBlue, I was collected curbside by a very old friend and we headed to South Beach for drinks. It was Art Deco Weekend, an event with all sorts of activities like music, performances, dancing and food and drink related happenings. Ocean Drive was closed to traffic and under the light of an increasingly larger moon, we walked around checking out the scene. It felt incredible to be outdoors, walking with a mojito in hand, and my indulgent decision to take this trip was confirmed as the correct impulse. I was so happy to be there!

The remainder of my brief time in Miami was spent walking for miles, eating and drinking liberally, gazing at Deco buildings and the Atlantic, and simply relaxing whether that came in the form of a run, a nap, or a lounge chair with a view. And a cushion. I stayed with a friend (Thanks, MB!) and the location of his rental house was fantastic well within my range of walking distance from the terrace of The Standard, Lincoln Road Mall and the ocean. When the destination was deemed as too far, we Ubered and Lyfted, but I also noticed a free shuttle that might have been an option if your budget was particularly limited.

There was a bountiful meal at Mr. Chow in the W Hotel, the decided upon location when I explained that I needed a place to wear a special dress and delicious baked goods and cafe con leche from a place filled with flavor, both local and imported. I had a wonderful meal of the evening’s special preparation of red snapper at the bar of Stiltsville Fish Bar, watching the Patriots game, before we Ubered to a cash only dive bar, where the game continued. I drank too much tequila, but my sunscreen application was mostly on point and I came home a bit worse for the wear, but with a glow that was more golden than green. Or so I’d like to think.

 

I wouldn’t hesitate to do this again. It was a terrific little almost-mid-winter getaway. Have you ever split town for a weekend in a similar fashion? Where did you go?

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Filed under beauty, breakfast, Dinner, drinking, Eating, Exercise, friends, ideas, Recommendations, Restaurants, road trips, snow, travel, Uncategorized, vacation, winter

Japanese Breakfast

Lest you conclude that I’m super hip and actually know much about the band Japanese Breakfast, let me assure you that my only familiarity with this group is through my 19 year-old son who is way cooler than l. I’ve heard a piece of one of their songs titled “Road Head,” a phrase I did not immediately interpret accurately. If you’re in the same boat of innocence, I suggest urbandictionary.com

My son went to see them the other night in Brooklyn (natch) and traveled down to the city with two friends, spending the night in an airbandb I booked for them in LIC because, three nearly 20 year-olds couldn’t get it together enough to reserve a spot, especially when they experienced technological errors. No big deal.

I’ve made reservations for G before. He spent the last week of his three months in Thailand in a lovely apartment in Bangkok. On that occasion, just like the more recent booking, I made it a point to communicate to the property owner that I was reserving for my son and assuring them in advance that he would treat their place with respect. And he has. The Thai woman I emailed with was very impressed with how well he took care of her place, and rewarded him with the favor of storing his luggage during the day prior to his nighttime flight. Things must have gone well in NYC because they were offered a generous late checkout, giving them the opportunity to recover from their night out.

My son isn’t in college, or even working at the moment,* but I’m not overly concerned. He is interested in seeing the world and experiencing life and I feel really fortunate to be able to give him the kind of safety net I personally didn’t have when I was his age, living independently and working 3 jobs. While we had different experiences of being 19, I can’t help but admire that he went to the other side of the world, alone, for three months and came back to tell the story.

It’s taken a couple of months for him to settle back in at home, but recently I’ve begun to see some real signs of maturity. He’s definitely growing up. I’m proud of him, and his confidence in traveling, and I can’t wait to see where he goes next. Greece (with me) and Japan (with friends) are the oft mentioned destinations topping his current list. My son’s ability to navigate his way through life is a display of Road Head that I don’t mind seeing at all.

*there’s a Session job he should be starting soon.

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Filed under aging, Boys, concerts, Events, family, moms, musings, NYC, Observations, road trips, travel

Joshua Tree and the miracle of hot springs

When I travel I refuse to overbook myself or make too many specific plans, preferring to be flexible because it’s vacation and having a rigid schedule sort of contradicts that concept for me. Prior to departing from home, I familiarize myself with some of the offerings and attractions available at my destination and try to determine what might need to be booked in advance. It sucks when there’s something you might want to experience when you’re visiting a new (or favorite) place only to learn that reservations needed to be made ahead of time – think the statue of David in Florence or the Washington Memorial in D.C.

Beyond those sort of points of interest, I’m all about getting a feel for a place, figuring out what can be accomplished without sacrificing my vacation vibe and seeing how the local weather influences which activities can be enjoyed. On this trip, my focus has been spending time with a dear friend, but I did have a couple of items on my hope-to-do list. On Friday I knocked two of them off.

I began with Joshua Tree National Park, a place I’ve never been before. As a person who considers U2’s 1987 album an absolute desert island record, checking out JTNP has long interested me. Unfortunately, the current government shutdown, along with a fierce and cold wind, made for a less than ideal visit. There weren’t any guided tours or services available and I was hesitant to hike any distance solo, so my explorations were limited to a short walk and some clambering up rock piles to access the best views – and what views there were! Every direction beckoned and I had to remind myself to not allow the vistas to tempt me into going further into the park (and away from where I had parked) in an attempt to see what might be visible from a different angle. 

The wind was numbing and my hands were stiff from the cold, but the hour or so I spent looking around, climbing and shooting photos provided an introduction to a fantastic national resource that I hope to visit again under better conditions. With teeth nearly chattering, I made for my car and a destination that promised to warm me up – Miracle Springs Resort & Spa in Desert Hot Springs. I needed to soak.

It wasn’t easy to find a spot that offered mineral baths with a day use option, but the established Miracle Springs met my requirements of convenient location, multiple outdoor pool options and not expensive since I only planned to indulge myself for an hour or two. This place checked all the boxes and the $14 daily use fee was just what I was looking to spend. If you’re hoping for fancy this may not be the resort for you, but, if you’re satisfied with hot, bubbling water, sunshine on your face and a view of the mountains, perhaps you’ll be content. I was. Bonus if you, like me, enjoy a dry sauna because there are even a couple of those available. Not luxurious, but more than serviceable and a great way to warm up on a cool, high desert day.

Stretched & soaked

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Filed under beauty, California, Exercise, Hiking, ideas, Recommendations, road trips, travel, vacation, winter

Syracuse Half Marathon – 11/11/18

While I don’t expect I’ll ever be blasé about running 13.1 miles, I do feel increasingly comfortable with the distance. I won’t say it’s easy, but it a manageable distance that challenges without much post-race discomfort.

Yesterday, I ran my 10th half, an accomplishment I never could have predicted when I did my first in 2016. This particular race was scheduled perfectly for my life, in that it was in Syracuse, where my brother lives, and on his birthday, which made it the ideal weekend destination.

I went into the race feeling ok about my conditioning, but not necessarily as well trained as I was for last month’s Newport Half. I anticipated some hills, which would slow down my pace, but hadn’t imagined the picturesque snow falling from the sky and completing the pretty, nearly winter conditions. It was cool and appropriate for snowy Syracuse.

The route began and finished at the OnCenter. The miles in between were primarily residential neighborhoods with some business/commercial areas thrown into the mix. The crowds were fun and supportive, especially in the early miles. For me, the last couple of miles were less than spectacular in terms of scenery and performance, but I pushed through and crossed the finish line in 2:14:17 – a new PR to best my Newport PR of 2:17:01.

I had kind of given up on ever completing a half in less than 2:15, so I’m thrilled with my time and super proud that I seem to be getting faster, not older.* The yoga class I took on Saturday, before we headed to Syracuse, definitely helped me physically and mentally. During the times when I felt most tired, I worked to release tension or tightening in all of my muscles which were not being put to use to propel me forward. Gripped fists? Let them go. Facial grimace? Smile. Weight of the world on my shoulders? Shrug it off. Thanks, Samara!

My race calendar is, sadly, pretty blank other than next month’s Last Run, but I’m looking at a few new events for 2019. Any favorite 1/2 marathon courses you might recommend?

*Credit for this wise statement goes to a special friend who joined me for the weekend. He’s smart, right?

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Filed under aging, birthdays, Events, family, road trips, running, sunday, Uncategorized, upstate New York

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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Filed under beauty, birthdays, Events, Exercise, friends, road trips, running, SEEN, sunday, Uncategorized