Snow Day in Portland

Recently Chris and I decided we’d take a day trip up to Portland, ME. It’s about a 2 hour drive from where we are and Chris just got a new car so he’d been dying to drive it around a bit.

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Not including a slight detour for some lunch, it took us about 2.5 hours to get there because what we thought was a snow sprinkle turned out to be windy, freezing rain for most of the day. But that didn’t deter us!

The way I like to experience a new place is to plan a few things ahead of time, but leave lots of flex room for walking around and changing my mind.

Chris and I were both a bit sleepy after lunch (thanks, pasta) so our first stop in Portland was Bard Coffee.

I got a standard coffee and Chris got a fancier one that they gave to him on a tray. The interior had a sort of minimalist vibe with high ceilings and simple furniture, which was balanced out by a really cool wallpaper print.

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They also had non-dairy milk available for no extra charge, which is always a plus in my book. The weather outside was more severe than it was in Boston so a hot coffee was just what we needed.

Word for the wise: don’t wear heeled booties to Portland in the winter. I didn’t even think twice about it when I left the house because there wasn’t a speck of snow on the ground in Boston but Portland had whole streets shut down because of the snow and ice.

After finding to our dismay that we would not be doing a walking tour of Portland, we got in the car and headed over to a place called The Holy Donut, which we were told by friends we couldn’t miss out on. Luckily, by the time we got there there were still some donuts left.

The donuts, which are made with potatoes, were unlike any I had tried before. It was somewhat later in the afternoon so the donuts had been sitting out for a number of hours and I didn’t want to set my expectations too high.  They were still amazing. I expected them to be hard and stale but they were a magnificent combination of fluffy and crispy.

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There were also some interesting flavors that I had never tried on a donut before. We got one of everything they had left: Churro, Maple, Lemon, Pomegranate, Chocolate, and Wild Berry. My favorite was the lemon. It didn’t have that super sweet lemon-like flavor, but more of a mouth puckering meringue taste.

The shop’s interior was very much no-frills with old coolers and furniture but it almost gave it an authentic old school feeling.

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Note my poor shoe choice

Our next stop was slightly outside Portland but was one Chris had been excited about all day: The Maine Beer Company. We were worried the tasting room would be closed because of the storm, like so many other places but we called ahead to make sure.

Maine Beer Co.’s Peeper Ale is a beer that I’ve only noticed in the Boston area in the last 8 months or so but it, along with other MBC beers have really become popular. Aside from having good, sustainable beer, Maine Beer Co. also donates a portion of its profits to environmental and animal charities, hence its slogan: “Do What’s Right”. A beer after my own heart, I tell ya.

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Chris and I wanted to try all of the beers so we decided to split their $18.00 variety flight. They had a few board games available to guests so Chris taught me Texas Hold Em while we sampled and read about the beer. Side note: You’ll never find me at a table in Vegas.

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We started to get hungry so we finished up and made a quick stop before heading to dinner at the LL Bean Store. I always knew LL Bean was from Maine so I was expecting a pretty big store. I was wrong. It was an entire LL Bean campus. There was every LL Bean product you could think of. Fortunately for my wallet, neither of us felt much like shopping so Chris snagged a quick picture with the boot and we headed out.

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Our last stop of the day was a highly recommended spot called Duckfat. It was a cozy little restaurant with craft sodas and awesome food. Chris and I shared an order of poutine (the small was big enough for 2 to share) and a cup of their lentil soup for starters.

For an entree I got a roasted delicato squash panini with pickled cauliflower, turnip & leak slaw, boursin, and brown butter-sage mayo. It was refreshing to see a more interesting vegetarian option than the standard veggie burger or caprese sandwich that you usually find in restaurants. Chris got the house smoked turkey panini wit buttermilk fried shallots, swiss, frisee, and herb mayo. His was good but we both like the squash sandwich best.

Satisfied and full, we wrapped up our left overs and headed home. For a cold, wet day it was still a pretty successful trip. I’d love to see the city again in the summer.

 

I ran a marathon! (Long Recap)

GUYS. I DID IT!! I ran the New York City Marathon!!!

If you’ve read my blog through the years, you know I’ve dealt with running related injury for the past 8 years. Knee surgery, chronic ITBS, strained hamstrings, tight hip flexors, sprained arches, Patellofemoral syndrome–you name it. I’ve been in and out of physical therapy and doctor’s offices countless times. There were moments when I worried that I might never be able to run more than a few miles at a time, let alone 26.2.

But I did it. And I didn’t get injured or die even though it felt like it at times. Here’s my recap of the race:

After some heavy carboloading (bagels, pasta, pizza throughout the day), I went to bed around 9 pm on Saturday night to be up for 4:15 the following day. I wasn’t feeling particularly anxious but I still didn’t get a very good sleep that night. Thank God for Daylight Savings giving me an extra hour.

We left Long Island at 4:45 and headed towards Manhattan. I chose the 6:30am Midtown bus as my transportation to the starting line. I was worried we were leaving too early but when I got to the pickup spot I couldn’t believe how many people were there and already in line.

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After being loaded on to the buses we made our way to the starter village on Staten Island.  I ate the chocolate chip muffin I brought with me and took a short nap. We got there around 7:30 and I was in the village by 8am.

I wasn’t scheduled to start until the last wave, around 11am so I had some time to kill. I grabbed some coffee, food and water and got in line for the bathrooms while I was waiting.

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When it was finally time for me to start, I shed my extra sweatshirt and sweatpants (to combat the early morning cold) and ate a pre-race guu. There was music blasting and all the volunteers/police were lining the start, cheering us on.

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Crossing the Verrazano Bridge was amazing. We had a clear, bright day and a spectacular view of the city. It was also cool because the Verrazano is closed to pedestrian access regularly so there really isn’t any other way I’d be able to cross is by foot.

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The bridge let us off in to Brooklyn, where there were crowds, music and camaraderie everywhere. I made sure to start my mid race fueling early. I brought a combinations of beans, gels, and chews with me and tried to take some every 12-15 minutes. Aid stations began at Mile 3 and I alternated between Gatorade and water at each one, skipping about 3 throughout the race.

For the first 9 miles, I felt stronger than I ever had before. I was worried I would make the same mistake as many other runners in heading out too strong/fast and burning out in the second half so I made sure to check my pace regularly and keep it at a conversational level.

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I had read that the crowds in Brooklyn tend to peter out and it can be a difficult stretch afterwards but I found there were pretty much crowds along the entire length of the course, except for bridges.

Miles 11-16 were where I hit my wall. My pace slowed by about 2-3 minutes per mile and I was feeling overwhelmed by the mileage ahead of me. I started taking walk breaks at each aid station but ran for the majority of the time until I reached the Queensboro bridge, around Mile 15.

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Great view, tough bridge.

It was definitely the most difficult bridge in my opinion and I, along with many people around me, walked  almost the entire incline. With 11ish miles left, I didn’t want to waste too much effort on it so I did my best to keep up a steady speed walk and ran the downhill.

Around Mile 17 my body was really starting to ache but I was buoyed by the closeness of Mile 20 and resigned myself to keeping a steady gait. There was also a pace team close behind me, which encouraged me to stay ahead of them. It was around this point that I became repulsed by the gels/chews I brought with me and had to force myself to keep consuming them.

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Mid marathon texts

Seeing the Mile 20 marker was euphoric and exhausting all in one, but I did pick up my pace until Mile 24, which, by the way, is pretty much a giant hill along Central Park. 23-26 was hillier than I expected and I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t start crying a little when I entered Central Park right before 25.

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Pushing through the final stretch

Once in the park, it was like a giant party full of people, music, lights, and nearby attractions. 25 to 26.2 felt like the longest running stretch of my life but I refused to stop running until I reached the finish line.

I was emotional, exhausted, and so excited to cross the finish. When the volunteer placed the medal around my neck, I was full on sobbing, haha.

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I grabbed my recovery bag, took a finish photo, and headed on a 15-20 minute hobble to the early exit/poncho pick up. I exited the course and met Chris nearby at the corner of Columbus and W 81st.

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Overall I can say that the experience was amazing, not what I expected, and not anything like my training. I honestly think I’ve never run a stronger 10 mile stretch than my run through Brooklyn and I’ve never had a more difficult time on miles 11-16 despite having covered that distance a number of times on long runs.

Another notable difference I found interesting was that while my cardiovascular ability felts strong throughout the whole race, my lower body hurt significantly, whereas in training it has always been the opposite. I never felt more than foot pain in my long runs.

Although I swore off running for the two post-race days during which I couldn’t walk properly, I’m already feeling antsy to get another goal/race set in the future. I’m giving myself a solid week before I start running again but I did do an easy half mile on the treadmill yesterday, just to make sure I still know how 🙂

In my next post I’ll talk about how I’m recovering and returning to normal life (so much free time!)

Happy Saturday x

 

 

 

 

Vacation Recap Pt. 2

The day following our visit to Tarpon Springs, my grandmother wanted to go to Disney. Although it’s obviously for kids, it’s become a bit of a tradition to go when we visit.

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I think I’ve written about Disney before so I won’t go into too much detail but we visited Animal Kingdom (my personal favorite) and Hollywood Studios before calling it an early day.

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My family’s nick name for me is Tashy so we had to take a picure when we found this sign.

When I got home I banged out a brief run and some light strength training. On one hand, I could definitely feel the regression in cardiovascular capabilities but on the other hand, it felt good to easily get back into conditioning after having skipped a few work outs.

Run: 15 minutes
Strength:
30 sit ups
2×30 leg lifts

30 reverse crunches
30 squats
30 leg lowers
30 bridges
30 sit ups w/ a twist

I ended with some light stretching and a dip in the pool.

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The next day, the weather was expected to be in the mid 80s so we made our way to the Gulf again, this time to Clearwater Beach.

I was really excited because I’ve been wanting to visit Clearwater for a while. It was voted the number one beach in the U.S., which is a pretty hefty title when you consider all the beaches there are in America

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It certainly was a beautiful beach. The sand was white and the softest I had ever felt in my life. It was so fine that it was hard to wipe off my clothes.

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We laid on the beach for a while before my grandmother and I went to walk around a bit and do some shopping. The main road was lined with adorable little surf shops and restaurants, plus tons of attractions like parasailing and booze cruise tours.

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This blow up obstacle course looked so fun!

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In one of the shops I found a man doing henna so I got some done.

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Still drying in this picture.

Shortly afterwards we had a late lunch at a place called Crabby Bill’s. They had the best Bloody Marys that I’ve ever tried. The salt and pepper rim was amazing.

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Full of food and all sunned out, we headed home. Our day in Clearwater was my favorite of the trip.

chelsea

 

Vacation Recap Pt 1.

Sometime in January when I was feeling particularly stir crazy, I decided to get myself some vitamin D and book a short trip to Florida. My plans this summer don’t really allow for anything crazy this spring but I thought I’d treat myself to some sunshine after a stressful and busy holiday season. Here’s a recap of my trip last week.

I have family in Florida so luckily I didn’t have to worry about lodging. At a “cool” temp of 70 degrees, everyone was in pants and sweaters but I was loving it.

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My first night, we went to dinner at a place called “Manny’s Steakhouse” which, all dreams of veganism aside, has the best steak I’ve ever had in my life. There’s always a crazy wait to get a table but once you do, it’s totally worth it. I got the filet mignon with (endless) salad and a loaded baked potato. Plus all their drinks were 2 for 1. We are definitely not in Massachusetts anymore.

The next day we visited a little town on the Gulf Coast called Tarpon Springs. In Florida it has a reputation of being a “Little Greece” because there’s a huge sponging industry there, which apparently is big in Greece?

The town was adorable and the streets were lined with cute little gift shops and Greek restaurants.

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Our first stop was a brief lunch of olives, feta, pepperoncini, fresh bread, and saganaki. (And 2 for 1 Bloodies, obv.)

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Afterwards, we walked around and shopped for a bit. My grandmother insisted I get a sponge (I felt weird because they’re more of an animal than a plant) and I picked up some hand crafted olive oil soaps – sandalwood, lavender, eucalyptus.

One of my favorite parts of Tarpon Springs was the decorated bicycles found along the main road.

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That last one is covered in sponges- go figure.

I have a rule that I can’t buy unnecessary clothes out of season but I had to make an exception when I found this adorable jumper. When in Rome, right?

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By the end of the afternoon we were ready for dinner so we grabbed a table at a place called Hellas.

We started with saganaki again & paired it with a traditional Greek salad. For entrees, I got the mousaka (kind of like a Greek lasagna) and my grandparents split the catch of the day. I’ve never been a seafood fan but this fish smelled amazing and it was filleted and seasoned at the table.

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And of course, for dessert – baklava.

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After dinner home we headed home, well-fed and content.

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chelsea