Monday, March 26, 2012

Visit with Family and (not our) Babies!!

I learned in December that I was selected to run the NYC Half Marathon. By this time, we were well aware that our far-away families in Connecticut and Massachusetts would be having babies during the next couple of months. Steve’s sister Karen and Andrew were due to have a baby boy at the end of February and my brother Todd and Erin would have their baby on March 15th.

With the race scheduled for March 18, we thought a trip a little more East was inevitable…not only to see the newest babies, but also to visit with Paul, Sue, Gretchen, Scott, Karen, Andrew, Lorelei, Todd, Erin & Zachary! They all live less than three hours from one another so we were prepared for a few days of family fun :)

Needless to say, Julian Peterson Horan decided to arrive on January 23rd (5 weeks, 2 days early!) so instead of a 3-week-old, we saw a 2-month-old! Dylan Hendrix Mott arrived as scheduled (a planned Caesarean tends to do that) so we saw him when he was mere five days old and only 6 lbs!!

Now on to visits galore!!

We arrived in New London, CT via train on Monday afternoon. Our brother-in-law Scott welcomed us with open arms and took us back to their place in nearby Mystic, CT which we had designated as our “home base.” Not a bad place to call home :) Thanks Gretchen & Scott for letting us take over!

To our delight, Monday was also Scott’s birthday so that night we went to his mom’s house for a super celebratory birthday dinner where multiple March birthday’s (including Steve & Scott) were honored with corned beef, cabbage and cake! We were joined by Paul and Sue who also brought us a car to use for the rest of the trip.

The next morning we headed about 40 minutes North to see my brother Todd, Erin, Zachary and Dylan in Plainfield, CT. Following breakfast at the Gentleman Farmer Diner, we returned to their place to catch up, gawk at Dylan, and attempt to catch a very active Zachary.



Later in the afternoon, Todd fired up the grill until it was time for us to head “home” for the night. We could not have had better weather for our entire trip.

 That night, we returned to Gretchen & Scott’s where Scott made some overly impressive, time consuming and insanely delicious sushi. Seriously. I’ve been on a sushi kick the past couple of months and this stuff was awesome. He made spicy tuna rolls (he actually went to the fish market and got tuna right off the truck!) smoked oyster rolls and veggie rolls. Did I mention he even brewed his own beer for us?? Of course he did! I sure wish we lived closer so he could spoil us more often.

On Wednesday, Gretchen, Scott, Stephen & I headed to Newburyport, MA to visit Karen, Andrew, Lorelei and Julian. Paul was able to join us for the first couple of hours and we all enjoyed some amazing weather outside.

The day was filled with books, presents (Lorelei turned 2 on March 5!), pizza, wine, beer, pulled pork, more books, wine and beer! 


Andrew was able to get out of work a few hours early and it was nice for all of us to have time together.

We also got a look at Karen & Andrew's brand new kitchen! Renovated just in time for Julian (well, not quite…due to his eagerness to arrive) This is quite a change from the closed space we had seen during our last visit.

On Thursday morning we drove to Willington, CT to visit with Paul & Sue for a little bit before they drove us to Hartford to catch our plane home. Although we saw everyone, it was not nearly enough time. It’s one thing to live so far away from parents and siblings, but it’s something else to live so far away from Lorelei, Julian, Zachary and Dylan. Although our visits together are few and far between, we hope we are simply impossible to forget…We tend to have that effect on people :)

Until next time…Lots of love to family, new babies and sushi!

NYC Half Marathon ~ March 18, 2012

Training for the NYC Half Marathon was fun and surprisingly easier than previous races. My "Type A" personality (and many other factors!) allows me to adhere to a very strict training schedule to which I never deviate...although I did run 3 extra miles during the last week of February because running 100 miles versus 97 for the month sounds way more fun :)

I ran every M, T, TH & F with my long runs every Friday. On Wednesday's I did a 45-60 minute spin class followed by a 2 mile run. I ran 25-30 miles per week with 12 miles as my longest run. Injuries have been limited, but it’s also ultra convenient to have my office adjacent to an athletic training room. The trainers always knew to expect me as I helped myself to bags of ice.

Steve and I departed for New York on the morning of March 17th...St. Patrick's Day!!! We had two United Club passes that were due to expire so we had Rich pick us up extra early (best car service ever!) and headed there for breakfast and a few cocktails. We were not alone. You'd be surprised (or not??) at how many people ask for green beer at 7 am on St. Patrick's Day :)

We had arranged for a car to pick us up at LaGuardia Airport and were at our Midtown hotel by 11 am. We hurried over to the Runner's Expo so I could pick up my race number and goodie bag.

Then we walked to Eataly, a Mario Batali owned indoor Italian market. It was a really neat place with 1000's of pastries, meats, cheeses & pastas.

Next we headed to Dewey's Flatiron to enjoy a pint (after all it was St. Patrick's Day!) and watch some NCAA basketball. 

By 5 pm, it was time for our evening happy hour. I choose the Eventi hotel due to its proximity to the runner's expo, starting line, Penn Station, and more importantly, it's free wine happy hour :) The Kimpton brand of hotels are considered more boutique-y with really comfortable beds! We stayed in one while visiting Chicago and loved it. When I saw they had four options in New York, it was an easy choice.

After a couple glasses of chardonnay, we walked to The Breslin to indulge in their famous Lamb Burger.

Prior to our trip, we watched countess hours of the Food Network as a way to research restaurant options. On one particular episode of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" we watched as Frank Bruni indulged in a perfectly cooked lamb burger, topped simply with a slice of feta cheese and red onions. When I saw it was located just around the corner from our hotel, we knew we had to try it.

Despite its high price tag, Steve and I ordered one for each of us (Steve was not open to sharing) in addition to a scotch egg. All were delicious, but the burger was phenomenal. Cooked perfectly medium rare and super juicy. We half-jokingly discussed a second visit the following night.

We returned to the hotel and were in bed by 10:30. My clothes were laid out, the alarm was set and I was ready for my race.

When I awoke at 5 am, I was tired and nervous. Despite all of my planning, I worried about whether we'd be able to get a cab, how long would it take, how cold was it, should I wear my long-sleeves or jacket, how long would I have to stand in the cold before the race, how many port-o-potty's would there be at the start, how long would the line me, you run enough races and you know your biggest concerns. At 5 o'clock on this particular morning, I was not worried about running 13.1 miles.

By 6 am, we were out the front door. We met another couple headed to the same starting corral and shared the $7.50 cab ride. We arrived on the east side of Central Park within 10 minutes and began walking toward my corral (19,000-19,999) with 15,335 other runners.

The race was to start at 7:30 and when we stepped into the line for one of many port-o-potty's, we knew it would be awhile...ONE HOUR later (yes, Steve waited with me...haha) we were through and I was at the corral by 7:15. Steve continued to wait with me until we started to "move" which was about 7:40. As we walked toward the start, we actually watched the elite runners pass their 6 mile marker. It's hard to believe they were running at a 4:34 pace. I didn't actually cross the start until 8:04 am. Weather at the start was 47 degrees, 90% humidity, wind 3 mph...truly ideal for running.

The race itself was great. Due to the number of former and current Olympian runners, it was named the most competitive half marathon in the world. Although that may not apply to me, I do value a respected and well organized race along with a supportive community. I was admitted through a lottery with 26,797 applicants of which less than 13,000 were selected (others were either invited or automatically qualified through charities.) Of the 15,336 finishers, there were 1,638 international finishers, 11,332 from the tri-state area and 2,366 from other areas of the U.S. (that’s me!!) I was truly honored to run.

The first 6 miles were through Central Park, followed by Times Square, the West Side Highway, then finished at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan’s Financial District. Steve saw me at miles 1 and 7 and the finish. He navigated his way on foot and via public transit, all while trying to capture the moment.

I researched the course and talked to a few others who have run Central Park. I trained for hills, but without running the course itself, nothing can really prepare you for Central Park. The hills...rolling hills, and most importantly, the infamous Harlem Hill. It was a challenge. With every new hill, I'd say "you have GOT to be kidding me" but the Harlam Hill (mile 5) was one of those points in a race where everyone cheers and high-fives one another when they've reached the top. I guess you can call it a nauseating adrenaline rush.

Running through Times Square was priceless. So many runners stopped to take pictures of themselves with the spectacular scenery around them. There were musicians and performers as well as a plethora a fans throughout.

 Through mile 9, I had maintained a fairly steady 10:30 pace. Miles 9-12 had me closer to 11:00, but then I increased my speed for the final push and finished in 2:18:58 (10:37 pace). The winner finished in an amazing 59:39 (4:34 pace).

The race finished at The South Street Seaport. Runners had snack bags waiting as well as a live band and other entertainment. Although it took some time to get through the finishers corral, Steve and I were able to meet at our predetermined meeting spot and take a few pictures.

Following the race, we hopped on the train and headed back to the hotel. I showered, resisted a nap, then walked to our brunch destination of choice. I had found several places in NYC that offered bottomless mimosas for brunch, but PS450 received rave reviews and was only a couple of blocks from the hotel. Most importantly, their mimosas were very plentiful and food quite good.  

Following brunch we walked about a mile towards Times Square where we stopped at Bar 10 for a cheese plate and martini. It was neat to walk around the area where I had run just a few hours before...

By 8 pm, we were totally exhausted and decided we would have to pass on another lamb burger or alternate sit-down establishment. Instead we stopped at Waldy's wood-fired pizza and picked up a broccoli rabe, pepperoni & tomato pizza to eat back at our hotel. We simply couldn't risk either of us falling asleep during dinner!

They even had a self-serve fresh herb and oil station. 

The next morning we were up early and wandered around to find a quick breakfast. We didn't have to walk far before we had our breakfast sandwich in hand and returned to our room to pack up the rest of our bags. We walked the block and a half to Penn Station where we boarded our 11 am Amtrak train to New London, CT. It was a nice 2.5 hour ride and our brother-in-law Scott was waiting for us when we arrived.

If you think these two days in New York City were a whirlwind...then the next three days in CT and MA were more like a tornado :)

P.S. My next race is the Cleveland Half Marathon on May 20th!