Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NYC: Day 3

Saturday, November 6th

On Saturday morning we had breakfast at the hotel, and then headed to Times Square to board a Grayline "Hop On, Hop Off" bus. We got 48 hour "all loops" pass, which included the Downtown Loop, the Uptown Loop, and the Brooklyn Loop. Our aim was to see the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero, so we got on the Downtown Loop bus.

We started in Times Square and headed south. We passed Madison Square Garden, Macy's, the Empire State Building, the Flat Iron Building,
Greenwich Village, SoHo, Canal St., Wall St., Ground Zero, and ended at Battery Park. We got off at Battery Park with the intent of getting on the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, but the line was already hours long, and it was only about 10:30am! We decided that Chad, Mrs. Suzy and I would return Sunday morning to the Statue of Liberty while Mr. David was over on Staten Island waiting to start the marathon.

Battery Park was a bustling little place, and there were tons of food vendors, t-shirt stands, and people dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Chad bought me some roasted cashews and they were out of this world. You can smell the roasted nuts from a mile away, and the scent is pretty much intoxicating.

After leaving Battery Park, we walked north up to Wall St. and Ground Zero. We stopped to see Alexander Hamilton's grave at the beautiful Trinity Church, and then stopped to see the 9/11 memorials at St. Paul's Chapel. This was incredibly moving, and I definitely teared up a little bit. I had to stop reading some of the accounts from 9/11 so that I wouldn't start downright sobbing in the chapel. When you walk out of the back doors of St. Paul's Chapel you are looking straight at Ground Zero. It is almost inconceivable to think that not even a single window was broken during the collapse of the buildings. From their website:

The Little Chapel That Stood

On September 11, 2001, St. Paul’s Chapel escaped destruction when the World Trade Center buildings collapsed across the street. Although the churchyard and church were filled with debris and dust, there was no physical damage to the building.

After looking at Ground Zero, we hopped back on the Grayline bus, headed north and got off at South Street Seaport, aka Pier 17. We were looking for lunch, and ended up eating at Uno's. Ironically, one of our best meals on the trip came from a chain restaurant that serves Chicago style pizza, ha. There was about a 30 minute wait, due mostly to the fact that a kid's birthday party was taking up about half the restaurant. In order to get the bathroom I had to traverse a group of 4 year-olds taking swings at a pinata. Seriously, who brings a pinata to a restaurant? It was interesting to see all of the nannies lined up with strollers, waiting to take the kids home. You don't see that in Central Kentucky!

One kind of funny/kind of sad thing that happened was a guy bent down to pick up a baby and then stood up really fast. The only problem was that he was right under a low-hanging light fixture, so the poor little kid's head crashed right into the light fixture. The only thing that made it kind of funny was that it wasn't the guy's baby - it was his friends. He obviously felt terrible, and the parents were very gracious. It was pretty entertaining to watch all of this going on while we were waiting for our table.

After lunch we got back on the bus and headed back to midtown. We passed the United Nations building, the Trump Towers, the East Village, and Turtle Bay. Once we were back at Rockefeller Center we got off the bus and walked around some more. We stopped at The Christmas Cottage and picked up some ornaments, and then got coffee and desserts at Fluffy's Cafe & Bakery. We thought about going to Magnolia Bakery, but the line was unbelievably long. Fluffy's was pretty good though! I had a red velvet cupcake that was about the size of my head. Chad had a cannoli, Mr. David had cheesecake, and Mrs. Suzy had a black and white cookie.

We headed back to the hotel to rest up a little before dinner. Mr. David wanted to get off his feet and get his gear together for the marathon, and Mrs. Suzy and I wanted to watch Zenyatta in her historic race at the Breeder's Cup. Zenyatta almost had it, but lost by a head.

We ventured back out Saturday night for dinner. Mr. David had one meal in mind - pancakes. He had been eating pasta for lunch and dinner for the past three days and he said he wanted to hurl at the thought of eating another noodle. He normally eats pancakes before his long runs in training, so he felt that would be a good pre-race meal. We walked a few blocks over from the hotel and found the Morning Star cafe, a small diner that served breakfast 24/7.

After dinner, we stopped in at a drugstore so that Mr. David could buy a disposable rain pancho to sit on at the Runner's Village in Staten Island. His start time for the marathon was 10:10am, but they had to be over on Staten Island around 7:30am, so he wanted to make sure he had a warm dry place to sit in case of rain. We could not find rain panchos anywhere (they had been cleaned out of umbrellas and panchos), but Chad, Mrs. Suzy and I did find a Dracula cape that was on clearance from Halloween. We were laughing so hard at the thought of Mr. David carrying a Dracula cape to sit on, but we knew he wouldn't go for it. When we told him about it he actually did consider it for a minute, but then Chad found one pancho stuck behind a display. It worked out for Mr. David, but we would have loved to see him wearing a cape.

Pictures from Saturday:

Battery Park

Roasted cashews are da bomb.

Wall Street subway station

Alexander Hamilton's grave.
(I bet he always wanted to be buried next to a factory shoe outlet.)

Inside St. Paul's Chapel

The back of St. Paul's Chapel,
directly across from Ground Zero

Ground Zero

Me and Chad on the bus

Pier 17

Zarin Fabrics
(sadly, there were no Bobby or Jill sightings)

Cell phone picture of my cupcake at Fluffy's

Pancakes at Morning Star Cafe

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NYC: Day 2 (pt. 2)

Friday, November 5th

After breakfast, we hopped in a cab and made our way to the American Museum of Natural History. Chad loves museums so he was pretty excited - I was just hoping to catch a glimpse of Dexter, the little monkey in "A Night at the Museum." We didn't see Dexter, Ben Stiller, or Robin Williams, but we did see a ton of cool artifacts and exhibits.

After leaving the museum, we walked through Central Park from the museum over to Columbus Circle. Even though the day started off cold and rainy, it gradually warmed up and cleared up. It ended up being a gorgeous day. The leaves in Central Park were beautiful, and the park was everything I imagined it would be based on my multiple viewings of "You've Got Mail."

After exiting the park through Columbus Circle, we made our way back to the hotel and stopped at a little pizza place called Luigi's Gourmet Grill for lunch. I shared a pepperoni pizza with Mr. David and Mrs. Suzy, and Chad had a meatball sandwich.

After our late lunch we headed to Starbucks and then back to the hotel to rest for a little bit before going to dinner and to see The Lion King.

We had a few hours to spare, so Mr. David and I headed back to the expo. Mr. David wanted to buy a jacket and I was eager to buy some more stuff, too. Once back at the expo, I bought a Saucony t-shirt and another Asics hat. I saw Tyson Gay signing autographs, and I walked right past Bart Yasso in the crowd. I said "Bart Yasso!" and he looked at me, so I said "I am a big fan" and patted him on the back. It was pretty cool! I wish I would have brought my latest issue of Runner's World with me so that Bart Yasso, Mark Remy and Tyson Gay could have signed it.

Once we got back from the expo, I changed into my evening wear (ha) and we headed out to get dinner before the Lion King. We ended up at Roxy's, a delicatessen in Time Square, and it was pretty disappointing. No one really enjoyed their dinner but me - I had a meatloaf sandwich that was pretty good - and it was extremely over-priced. I guess that is what you get for eating in Times Square! But we were seated right next to a lady who has run something like 50 marathons in the past 5 years, so it was very interesting to talk with her about her marathon experiences.

After dinner, we walked a few blocks to the Minskoff Theater to see The Lion King. It was pretty incredible. We had fantastic seats that were smack dab in the middle
of the theater, so it was very easy to see. It was very interesting to see how they interpreted the characters and brought the cartoon to life. I did nod off a little during the second half, but I think it was from sheer exhaustion. The little guy who played Simba was very talented, but he wasn't quite as good as Jonathan Taylor Thomas. After leaving the theater, we headed back to the hotel and (after a 19 hour day) I immediately fell asleep!

Some pictures from Friday afternoon:

Theodore Roosevelt statue in front
of the Museum of Natural History

"Leopard Man" in the rafters of the museum.
It was terrifying!

They even had flying turtles.

Mr. David and Chad with a T-Rex

Chad made a souvenir penny at the museum

Skyline view from Central Park

Mrs. Suzy and Mr. David in Central Park

Chad and me in Central Park

A pretty bridge in Central Park

No soup for you!

Tyson Gay and some random guy at the expo

Definitely unlike anything I had ever seen!

NYC: Day 2 (pt. 1)

Friday, November 5th

After a good night's rest, I was up at 4:00am on Friday morning to get ready to walk down to the the Today Show. This was probably one of the top things I was looking forward to doing on the trip - I love the Today Show and watch it every morning. I couldn't wait to be there in person and hopefully touch Al Roker.

I met Mrs. Suzy in the lobby at 5:15am (major props to Mrs. Suzy for agreeing to go with me at the crack of dawn!!) and we headed to Rockefeller Plaza. I had done some research online and found that it was best to arrive by 5:30am if you wanted to get a prime spot for the taping. We arrived right at 5:30am, and there was only a handful of people there - yes!! There was a group of women promoting a new show for BET, and a group of women who were on a girl's trip, so we got behind them in line. The way it works is that the actual plaza is barricaded until about 6:45am. Then, the police open it up and you enter the plaza in the order of the line. With only 10 people ahead of us, we were primed to get a great spot!

There was a coffee truck parked right next to us giving away free coffee, hot chocolate and bagels. We spoke to the guy who runs the truck - turns out he was featured on The Marriage Ref last year. After waiting in line for a while, I realized that I needed to find a bathroom before we moved into the plaza. I asked the guy in the truck if there was a public restroom anywhere nearby, and he told me to go into the parking garage across the street and find an open space! I'm sure my eyes just about bulged out of my head when he told me that, because he started laughing and said "or you could go down to that little diner down there." I opted for the diner.

Pretty soon Lenny arrived, and then the police began allowing us to move into the plaza area. A large section of the plaza was blocked off, as the Rockettes were scheduled to perform that morning. We tried to get as close to Lenny as we could. We ended up being right on the fence, at the corner near Rockefeller Center. We were told this was a good location, as when Matt, Meredith, Al, Anne and Natalie come out, they normally head straight for this corner. This wasn't the case for our morning, but oh well!

They have large monitors and speakers outside so that you can hear what they are saying as you watch them filming inside. We watched Matt do the pre-Today show teasers for local news stations to play and watched as Meredith had her make-up touched up. It was all very fascinating.

Around 7:15 or so, the Rockettes came walking down the street - they were making their way from Radio City Music Hall to the NBC Studios. It was very surreal to see this group of 30 or so Rockettes just walking down the street in their trademark Santa outfits!

At about 7:30, Matt, Meredith and Al came outside! The crowd went wild and everyone was clamoring for them to come and see them. Matt walked right up to us and we got to shake his hand. I saw him coming closer and closer to us and I ended up with my camera right in his face. So, of course, I took a picture. I told him I was sorry and that I had no idea he was coming so close! A few people asked if he was running the marathon and he said "no, I'm a cyclist." He was also much smaller in person, and very stylish. I was happy to meet Matt, but my goal was to meet Al - I even had a sign for him.

The Today Show was a lot of fun, but it did involve long portions of standing around and waiting. They would normally come out of the studio every 30 minutes or so which wasn't bad at all, but it was a cold and rainy morning so they didn't spend too much extra time outside. Can't say that I blame them! I was wearing jeans, running shoes, a short sleeved shirt, a long sleeved shirt, a light jacket, and my Brooks running jacket and I was STILL cold! I lost feeling in my feet about half way through, but it was all worth it to experience the live taping of the Today Show. The main guest that morning was Christine O'Donnell, and I didn't really care to see her. I was very excited though when they interviewed Mary Wittenberg (President of the New York Road Runners) and the Chilean miner who was going to be running the marathon. Mary is a big inspiration to me, so it was really neat to see her in person. They also interviewed three Olympians outside, but I didn't catch who they were. While they never filmed a segment directly in front of us, at some point during the broadcast me and Mrs. Suzy made it on screen! It was one of the times where they were panning across the crowd. Chad texted me to let me know he had just seen us, so it was then I knew that we had made it on the big screen. It was exhilarating. Later that day, my boss sent me a text of a screen shot of me and Mrs. Suzy that they had taken off their DVR! Al did come by and shake our hands, but it was very brief and I didn't get to wish him good luck in the marathon. He is much smaller in person, too!

After four hours in, we gave up the fight and headed back towards our hotel in search of breakfast and a bathroom. I was really hoping to go to Dean and Deluca, but the Rockefeller store closed in August! I was not able to channel my inner Felicity.

By now Chad and Mr. David were up and ready to hit the city, so we headed back to the hotel to freshen up and get breakfast in the lobby. After breakfast, we headed to the Museum of Natural Science. More on that in Day 2 (pt. 2)!

Pictures from Friday morning:
Waiting to enter this area!

Rooting for Al.
The window over my right shoulder is where Matt and Meredith sit!
(Note to self: do something about those puffy eyes!)

The crew was always right in front of us -
filming to our right and to our left!

The Rockettes!

The screen shot from my boss' DVR!

Matt, Meredith and Al
(that's Lenny in the black plaid coat.
The BET girls were between me and him)

Matt Lauer, up close and personal!


Mary Wittenberg

Rockefeller Center

We passed St. Patrick's Cathedral on our way back to the hotel.
It was odd to see such a beautiful cathedral amongst skyscrapers!

Inside St. Patrick's

NYC: Day 1

Thursday, November 4th

On Thursday morning, Chad and I boarded a plane in Lexington, KY that was bound for the bright lights of New York City. I was so excited to get to the airport and get the gears in motion for our vacation to New York. We had been planning for the trip for exactly one year - Chad's parents called to invite us to go with them to New York for the 2010 NYC Marathon on the day of the 2009 NYC marathon. When we found out that we would be going, I immediately entered the lottery for the marathon. I didn't get in, but I was ok with that. I was looking forward to being a Grade A Tourist on this trip - walking for blocks, taking pictures of everything, and eating all of the food that NYC has to offer - without having to worry about resting up for Marathon Sunday.

After a short flight to Charlotte, NC., we switched planes and headed to LaGuardia. Our flight was scheduled to arrive around 1:30, and Chad's parents would be arriving from Louisiana around 2:00. Once we arrived at LaGuardia we picked up our bags and then managed to successfully use the airport shuttle to get from the US Airways terminal over to the Continental terminal. Now I grew up in Houston, which is a pretty big city, but it is absolutely nothing like New York. And Chad gets nervous in big crowds. And our time in central Kentucky has us accustomed to a slower pace of life. It was kind of like "country comes to town" there for a few minutes, so successfully managing the airport shuttle on our own was quite an accomplishment.

Once we made it to the Continental terminal we staked out their baggage claim area and then headed over to a small food court to get a snack. After splitting a piece of pizza, we headed back to the baggage claim and Chad's parents arrived pretty soon. It was so good to see them! I felt much better after we met up with them - it was so comforting to know that we wouldn't have to traverse through New York on our own anymore. Even though at this point we had only had to manage the airport on our own, ha ha.

It was a cold and rainy day, and a lot of flights were delayed. A limo driver came up to us and asked if we needed a ride - he said his client's flight was delayed, so he could give us a good deal on a quick ride to our hotel. We couldn't really pass up the offer to arrive at our hotel in a white stretch limo, so we followed him to the parking garage. I probably should have been thinking "this guy is probably going to take us to an old warehouse, kill us, and then dump us in the East River" but all I was thinking was "limo, limo, limo, limo." We hopped in the limo and headed to mid-town Manhattan.

We pulled up to the Hampton Inn - Times Square North and got checked in. This hotel was perfect - the rooms were very comfortable, they had a 24/7 complimentary coffee and tea bar, and a free continental breakfast every morning. But the best part was the location. We were in the heart of midtown - just a few blocks from Broadway, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Lincoln Center, and Central Park. It was awesome and I highly recommend this hotel.

After we got checked in and dropped our bags off, we headed across the street to the Cosmic Diner for a late lunch. It felt very Seinfeld-esque, and I ordered the chicken noodle soup. It was the perfect meal for a cold and rainy day. After lunch, we met up with Mr. Doug and Mrs. Leslie Gaithright. Mr. Doug is Mr. David's running partner, and they have been planning on running this race together for years.

(Note: even after five years of marriage, I still refer to Chad's parents as Mr. David and Mrs. Suzy, and Chad refers to my parents as Mr. Ron and Mrs. Jan - this might seem weird, but this is what we called each others parents when we were dating, and it just stuck. I can't imagine calling them David and Suzy, although I know they wouldn't mind at all. Must be a Southern thing! I will be referring to them a lot in these posts, so I just wanted to give a little explanation!)

So after lunch we met up with the Gaithrights and hopped on a free shuttle bus from our hotel to the marathon expo at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. I was really looking forward to going to the expo, even though I wasn't running! I knew there would be all kinds of vendors and speakers and interesting stuff to see. Once we got to the convention center, Mr. David and Mr. Doug got in line to pick up their packets, and the rest of us walked around the expo. I saw Bart Yasso speaking at the Runner's World booth, and then I saw Mark Remy signing books. I bought a shirt and a hat at the Asics' Village (which was amazing, I could have done some serious damage in there), and then bought shirts from the New Balance booth and the Mizuno booth. All of the vendors had such cool New York 2010 merchandise that I just had to pick some up. Plus I had been saving for a year for this very moment! I was glad we went to the expo on the very first night so that I would know what kind of spending money I had to work with for the rest of the trip. : ) Who knows what kind of damage I will do when I finally run the dang thing!

After the expo, we headed back our neck of the woods and walked around Times Square and Rockefeller Plaza and then stopped at Junior's for dinner. I had a BLT that was pretty amazing. We were pretty stuffed, but we had to try their world famous cheesecake. For dessert we all split a black and white cookie and a piece of original cheesecake. It was incredible - definitely worth the hype!

Here are some pictures from Day 1:

Mr. David and Chad in the limo.
Chad was probably tweeting about it!

Cold and rainy evening in Times Square

Bart Yasso speaking at the expo and making strange hand gestures

Mark Remy and me

NBC Studios!
Mrs. Suzy and I were scoping it out for our visit to the Today Show on Friday morning.

People ice skating at Rockefeller Center

Cheesecake at Juniors' - a perfect end to the day!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stay Tuned

Coming up soon (probably over the course of the next few weeks) I will have a few posts recapping our recent vacation to New York City! It was an incredible trip and I took tons of pictures, so it will take me a little while to get it all organized in blog posts.

First up will be NYC: Day 1 and Day 2. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Iron Horse Half Marathon race report

This past weekend my friend Kelly and I ran the inaugural Iron Horse Half Marathon in Midway, KY. It was a pretty good sized race (800+ runners), but it was also fairly low key.

The race started at 8:00am, and we arrived in Midway around 7:00am. It was dark and freezing when we arrived, but things warmed up a little bit as the sun came up. The race started in the middle of Midway and went out to the east (or north) and then back into town, and then out west (or south) and then back into town for the finish (a guy who ran the race posted the map and elevation of the course here:

The first part of the course was beautiful and we knocked out the first 6 miles keeping between an 8:50 and 9:00 pace. Our goal was to finish under 2:00 hours, so we were hoping to build in a little bit of a time cushion. The 6 mile mark was right in the middle of town, and then we headed back out into horse farm country to finish up the rest of the miles. The second half of the race was the Midway 10k course that I did earlier in October, and it is pretty hilly. The word brutal even comes to mind!

Nonetheless we kept chugging along at a pretty good pace. As we were nearing the end of the 11 mile mark, I was definitely starting to get fatigued. I was actually feeling pretty fatigued at the 10 mile mark, but Kelly is great at keeping the pace up so I just tried to hang with her. So when we were almost to mile 12, a girl came up behind us and said "we have 11 minutes to finish under 2 hours, let's do it!" And we were like "we are sticking with you!" I'm not sure who the girl was, but we stuck with her and really picked up the pace for the last 1.3 or 1.4 miles - more than I would have picked it up if I was on my own. We came back into downtown Midway and crossed the line at 1:58:44! At the Lexington Half I finished in 2:00 on the nose and set a PR, so it was nice to set a new PR by 1 min. 22 seconds!

After the race we got some water, food and Gatorade and headed home. Once I got back to Nicholasville, I went straight to Taco Bell! Then I took Emma for a long walk to ease some of the soreness in my legs.

A special thanks to Kelly who has been my running partner for the last 3 years (or is it 4?)! We have trained together and raced together many times, and I know I wouldn't have made it in 1:58 without her!

And another shout out-to Tony, Kelly's husband, who came to the race and carried our bags, cheered for us, and took lots of great pictures. Thanks, Tony!

Here are some pictures from the day (taken from Kelly's Facebook):

A dark and spooky shot for Halloween morning

Walking to the start
(Ok, Megan. I guess you are right after all these years...I DO have a big butt!)

Ready to race!

At the start

The Midway water tower was like a beacon to us!

Downtown Midway - so cute!

Proud finishers! We got engraved rail road spikes instead of medals, pretty cool!

Darlin' Jeans, which was race HQ

The end.