spring

Finally!

hudson river

This morning, I rode the bus for an hour to get to Mal’s place, north of the city. She and Peter have an awesome apartmentВ right near the Hudson—whichВ hasВ a large, private roof deck that overlooks the water.

Today was the first warm, gorgeous weekend in months. I’d come dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, but within a few minutes in the sunshine, I’d stripped down to my t-shirt and changed into shorts.

Mal and I (and later, Peter) spent the day chatting, snacking on fruit and borekas, and just enjoying being outside after a long, chilly winter. As someone who lives for hot weather, I was thrilled to be slathered in sunscreen, sweating through my clothing. But most of all, I was so happy to be spending such a gorgeous day with two of my favorite people.

On my way back into the city, I texted Mal, “Best day of the year!” It really felt like it. And it’s amazing how the little things in life can make you so happy.

Race Recap: Long Branch Half Marathon Relay

half marathon

Back from our spring running weekend of 2013—and I’d definitely say it was a success! Mal, Peter and I had an awesome time racing down the Jersey Shore, early Sunday morning.

Peter ran theВ Long Branch Half MarathonВ and Mal and I teamed up for theВ Half Marathon Relay; both events went simultaneously along one course, which wound throughВ Oceanport, Monmouth Beach and Long Branch. (The headlining event, the New Jersey Marathon, started about an hour later and went along the same route—just with 13.1 extra miles tacked on midway!)

This was my first relay, which made for an exciting but slightly nerve-racking experience, due to all the logistics. Here’s how it worked: Mal and I decided that she’d run the first leg (6.9 miles) and I’d run the second (6.2 miles). Early on Sunday morning (5:15 a.m.!), Mal, Peter and I went to the stating point at Monmouth Park. When it got close to race time, Mal and Peter headed to their corrals atВ starting line. Meanwhile, other second leg runners and I took a shuttle bus to the transition point, several miles away.

Once there, a volunteer explained the runner hand-off. A row of metal barriers divided the street down the middle. The half marathoners would be on the far side of the barriers. The first leg relayers would come down the section next to the sidewalk where we were gathered.В A volunteer farther down the course would radio in the last three digits of the approaching relay runner’s bib number. Then, the volunteer near us would call out that number and that runner would get on deck in preparation for his/her partner’s arrival. Once the two met, runner #1 would hand over the time chip belt, and runner #2 would be off!

While I waited for Mal, I tried to stay warm (it was freezing!), stretch and talk to my parents, who’d met me there. And not be too nervous. But it was also very exciting. All of us second leggers cheered as the super-fast half marathoners and relay runners came through the course. Soon after the stream of runners grew from a trickle to a pack, we caught Peter going by, looking as fresh-faced and smiley as this guy.

I knew Mal would be there shortly, so I took off my sweats—and all of a sudden, my mom shouted that she saw Mal! A few other relayers were arriving at the same time, so our number didn’t get called. Feeling frazzled, I ran over to Mal and fumbled to grab the belt from her and shove my headphones in my ears. The belt cinch snapped off as I tried to put it on, but I took off running while knotting it around my waist.

I felt pretty horrible for the entire run. I was freezing from standing outside for a good part of the morning, and it was a shock to run while so cold. Also, I’m not used to working out in the morning. And I’d been up since 4 a.m. Not my normal wake-up time.

But I tried to maintain a consistent clip because I didn’t want to drag us down. Mal and I had set a goal to finish in 1:55—and she’d completed her leg at that pace. I wasn’t going to be the reason we didn’t achieve our time! Luckily, I was among runners who were sticking to what felt like my goal pace, so I held steady with them.

I ran on, as the course meandered through various residential streets. Each time I completed a mile and saw a time clock, I vowed to try to reach the next one in 8-9 minutes. Finally, I was on the last mile, along the beach. Just seeing the ocean energized me, though it was sad to note where Sandy had destroyed part of the boardwalk.

As I approached the finish line, I did not feel great, like I did last year. I felt like I was going to die. (This year, my mom later told me, I definitely did not look like I was taking a walk in the park!) But after crossing the finish line, getting our medals, and finding Mal, I almost teared up with joy—I came in at 1:56:58, and knew that our chip time would put us around our goal.

Our official time was 1:54:08—and we placed 9th out of 95 all-female relay teams! We were thrilled with our results! And Peter finished in a crazy-fast time—1:45:48.

We celebrated with doughnuts back at our hotel, then went out to cheer on the marathoners who were finishing their (much longer) race on the boardwalk. I was completely zonked for the rest of the day but it was so worth it! It’s funny; I’ve run a half marathon and a faster 10K before, but this was probably the most gratifying race I’ve completed. I think it was the team aspect of it—not just working toward my own goal, but Mal’s as well.

We’re already looking for another relay to do this year. Anyone up for Ragnar?!

(The photo above is the only one I took at the race! I even ran with my phone because I was planning to take pics while waiting for my turn to run, but I didn’t snap a single one. I suppose sometimes you just have to live in the moment!)

Happy Easter!

In the midst of all of this month’s craziness, I almost forgot that Easter is this weekend. Luckily, my family didn’t, so we’re getting together this afternoon for an early dinner. We’ll also be dyeing eggs for place settings—I’m excited for keeping that tradition and eating the eggs after!

And speaking of, check out these gorgeous, gold leaf eggs from Sugar and Charm. Love the brilliant map design!

golden easter egg

Happy Easter!

(Image from Sugar and Charm via Sadie and Dasie)

Holland’s Tulip Fields

This morning, while I was shivering on my way to work, I counted how many months of cold we have left. I was feeling a little blue when I realized that warm weather is still a ways off, but my day brightened after I stumbled uponВ Normann Szkop‘s photos of Holland’s tulip fields, via Weather.com. (Which, coincidentally, is predicting lots of snow for theВ weekend. Yay. You know how much I love being cooped up in my apartment!)

If you’re also in need of a cheery dose of spring, take a look at Szkop’s gorgeous photos below and on his Flickr page. I can’t even imagine how brilliant those colors must look in person!

tulip field

tulip field

tulip field

(Photos viaВ Normann Szkop’s Flickr set)

A Happy Saturday (and Sunday)

happy saturday

I’ve been spoiled. My two favorite people have made the trip from Maryland to NYC two weekends in a row. And this weekend, I had the added bonus of having our friend, Doug, in town, as well. So to celebrate our converging in NYC, we spent the entire weekend doing what we do best: Eating.

Saturday was the kind of day I’ve been craving for so long: Warm, sunny, gorgeous and perfect for whiling away hours outside. (As in, it FINALLY felt like summer–which I’ve been counting down to before winter even began.) We headed across the river toВ Smorgasburg.

Not surprisingly, tons of people had the same idea. The lot was crowded, but we didn’t have to wait very long for food. Between the four of us, we amassed quite a spread: a gigantic carnitas sandwich from Cemita’s, a chicken schnitzel on a pretzel roll from Schnitz NYC, loroco and pork papusas from Solber PapusasВ (my personal favorites) and a pizza from Pizza MotoВ (which had, to my delight, a runny egg on top). Everything was reeeeeeeeally delicious.

schnitzel, cemita, papusas

pizza

After eating…

mal with schnitzel

…we just hung out enjoying the sun and view of the Manhattan skyline.

mal and peter

We’d planned to hit Brooklyn Brewery next, but a crazy line outside discouraged us from even bothering with it. Instead, we made our way to Berry Park‘s roof deck–and that ended up being way nicer. (Brooklyn Brewery, you need an outside space!) The place was packed, but we amazingly managed to score seats.

heather

Yay! We got seats!

mal and me

mal and peter

A couple hours (and beers and girly huckleberry lemonades, on my part) later, we moseyed back across the river for shopping and Korean BBQ.

On Sunday, we all headed out to Long Island to celebrate Peter’s father’s bday. His mom–always the amazing cook–put together an awesome spread of cheeses, meats, bread and veggies, plus hardboiled eggs from last week’s Easter celebration. (How gorgeous are these? Mariana explained that she just places herb leaves flat against the eggs, carefully wraps them in stockings and then boils them with onion skin.)

easter eggs

I was sad when we all headed off in our own directions, but glad to squeeze in a 5 mile run to work off the weekend’s calories. (And I’m already looking forward to heading down to Maryland next weekend–after my trip to Chicago this weekend!)

(Second photo via Smorgasburg)