Tourists In Our Part-Time City

Who stole our spring?  Last weekend we had wonderful temperatures in the 80’s and this weekend it was chilly and even rainy.  I want my warm spring back!

Friday was a total wash out.  We were stuck inside due to the weather and when it finally passed, Mary put on her rain boots and jacket and went for some splashing in puddles.  To say she loved it would be an understatement.  Fortunately, Rock planned ahead with a full set of extra clothes.  By the time she was done, we had to dump water out of her boots and wring her clothes!

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It rained so hard, part of the promenade along the East River where I run, collapsed!

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Saturday was at least a little sunny and I overdressed for a 7 mile run.  Does it bug anyone else when you wear sleeves and then end up out in sunny weather?  I prefer running without sleeves.  Back when I was a competitive figure skater, I never wore dresses with any type of arms attached.  I prefer bare arms.

It ended up being a really nice run and I was grateful for the sweat.  If I was a better blogger, I would have taken a picture, but this weekend I only snapped pics of the little girl.

I even had a celebrity sighting in Central Park. I walked past Ryan Seacrest and actually recognized him.  This is rare as I would normally not be able to pick a celeb out of a lineup.  Why I noticed him of all people, is beyond me.

After nap time, I woke up inspired to try something new.  We headed to Central Park and went to the Tisch Children’s Zoo.  This is part of the Central Park Zoo and I thought they might have a reduced rate for the smaller portion.  I was wrong.  But when I went to pay, Mary’s admission was free and mine was only $12.

My plan was just to take her to the children’s portion because I figured she was too young and wild to appreciate all of the other animals.  But as soon as we stepped inside, I knew we were going to check out everything.

At the children’s portion she loved the farm animals.  She ran in and cried, “Sheep!”  We’ve been working on animals with her and their sounds, so this was a perfect opportunity to see everything.

It is hard to believe that I have lived in NYC to some extent for 15 years, and I have never once set foot in the Central Park Zoo.  I walk through the gates almost daily and worked next to it for over a decade.  I have to say that I really have missed out.  This zoo is far nicer and bigger than I had realized.  However, I think I had a far greater appreciation seeing it from this 21 month old’s eyes.

We had fun walking through the tropical room full of birds and flora.  Mary loved watching the monkeys jump around all of the rocks. The snow leopards stayed hidden, but she loved looking for them.  The bears would have kept her interested for an hour if I had let her.  She adored the seals and sea lions and once she got over her fear of the dark room where the penguins and puffins were, she was mystified.

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For $12, it was an afternoon well spent.  We finished it off in true tourist style by grabbing a pretzel and a churro from a cart outside and parked ourselves on a bench for a little bit.

The zoo was absolutely the highlight of our weekend, our week, and our stay so far this spring.  I am almost certain we will be back again in the next few days.  I don’t think I can keep her away!

How was your weekend?  Do you or your kids enjoy the zoo?

Terry Fox

This past Saturday was the Terry Fox 5K race in Central Park.  Our student Zach wanted to try out a 5K for the first time and we all thought this would be a good one for him.  One of the first friends I met here in New York City 12 years ago has been doing this race for awhile and highly recommended signing up.  Heather is one of nicest and most fun people ever, so it was an added incentive to see her too.

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Crazy fact; I have lived in New York City off and on for over 12 years now and never run a single race in the actual city.  I have done  so many races in Connecticut, New Jersey,  and all over Upstate New York.  So this was actually a first for me too.
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The race started right smack in the middle of Central Park by the Bethesda Fountain.  We had signed up online and packet pick up was the hour before the race began.  Registration was free with the offer of making a donation on behalf of the Terry Fox Foundation.  Unbelievably we each received T-shirts with our bibs the morning of the race.  The shirts are you standard cotton T-shirt but the front is a really neat picture of Terry Fox.
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Terry Fox was a Canadian athlete who was diagnosed with cancer.  In 1980, with one leg amputated due to his cancer, he went on to start a cross country running journey to help raise money and awareness for cancer research.  His journey was called the Marathon of Hope.  He made it to Thunder Bay, Ontario where he had to cut short his journey due to his illness and passed away nine months later.
Today the Terry Fox Foundation is huge both in Canada as well as the United States.  Races are run in his honor each year all over the country to help spread his legacy and continue his humanitarian efforts for cancer research.
This was my first run back after the marathon and was glad to take it nice and easy with our buddy Zach and his friend Raphael.  I followed them as they took off on their first 5K, two laps of the lower loop of Central Park. This was a nice easy one for these two who are already accomplished half marathoners at the old age of thirteen.  It was well directed and boasted over 3000 runners!
My husband's depiction of the race to our preschool sports class yesterday.  Pretty accurate.

My husband’s depiction of the race to our preschool sports class yesterday. Pretty accurate.

There were plenty of aid stations for a 5K (hosted by the Harlem Rangers youth hockey team) as well as plenty of cheer stations full of volunteers along the course.  The Park can be crowded this time of year as athletes are winding down their marathon training along with lots of tourists and horse drawn carriages blocking the paths.  The volunteers did a great job with crowd control.
I crossed the finish right behind two sweaty but very happy young boys.  There weren’t any medals to be given out but the Terry Fox 5K did not disappoint.  There were tents full of food and refreshments, emcees chatting it up with the crowd and some really incredible raffle prizes.  The Four Seasons Hotel made for one awesome sponsor for this race.  Free trip to Orlando or brunch at the Four Seasons?  That’s a nice incentive to wake up and run a few miles.
The best part of the day, besides Zach winning one of the raffles, was that despite this being a free race they pulled in over $130,000 in donations.  Now that is a serious success!
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Congrats to Zach, Raph, and my friend Heather for running a great race for a great cause on Saturday.
By the way, if you are missing that achy post race feeling in your quads and hamstrings we came across the perfect solution for you.  As we were leaving the park there was a group doing a two mile lunge adventure.  My husband ran up to take their picture and they offered to let him join.  He decided last weeks 26.2 was enough damage on the legs for time being.
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The Stop Light Game

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Last week Chicago was brutally cold.  I wanted to get my run in and one evening I had to head out in the dark, layered, and determined to make something happen.  I avoided even looking at the thermometer as I headed out the door because I knew it would be a terrible idea.

Lucky for me I had spent the past 10 years working as a figure skating coach at Trump Rink in Central Park.  Spending your winter days outside on an icy rink will certainly teach you cold weather preparedness.  I layered in some great Lululemon Dog Walker Pants, Under Armor Cold Gear, and the usual hat and gloves and a gaiter.  I also used my go-to trick from those frigid days on the ice, hand warmers tucked on top of my socks in the shoes and in my mittens.

Can you believe I used to be able to call this my office?!

Can you believe I used to be able to call this my office?!

Off I went.  “This isn’t so bad,” I thought to myself.  At the half mile point I started to feel the sting in my cheeks and shortly after I was really starting to question if I could make it the 7 miles I had planned out.  I don’t know how but at some point my tush actually went numb!

I am pretty Type A, and I had set out with a plan to run a certain route, but soon it became clear that things were going to have to change.  I came to a stop light where I would have to wait before continuing on my way and I knew stopping would be very, very bad.

Thus began the Stop Light Game.  Realizing I should just keep going, I turned and charted a new route (oh man, I hate when plans change) and then there was another light up ahead, so I took the next turn and kept running.  Things were starting to get interesting and it started to feel like a game to me.

Icy Toes.  Icicles actually formed on my laces.

Icy Toes. Icicles actually formed on my laces.

I encourage you to try this out if you are feeling a bit bored with your running or just need a change of pace.  Head out for your run and let the stop lights determine where you go.  If the light is red, turn in a direction that allows you to keep on running.  If it is green, proceed through.  You will twist and turn on a different route each time and it is pretty fun anticipating where you will go next.  Just turn around and do the same thing back home when you reach your half way point.

Once you let go and have fun with it you will have a blast, and hopefully forget that you are on your dreaded run.

I really should have taken a picture because when I got home and looked at the temperature it read 4 degrees with a  real feel of -17.  I am so glad I didn’t see that before I left.

I should note that this does not work if you live in rural areas.  I am up in Northern Michigan right now and the town I grew up in only has 2 stop lights and they are pretty far apart.  It would take me 3 miles to even get close to the first one.  If I played this game here I would have to run a marathon, perhaps even an ultra.

One of my other favorite games to get me through a treadmill run is to imagine that each mile is 3 songs long on my I-pod.  As I run I just remind myself I only have so many more songs to enjoy before I am done.  I heard Hoda Kotb say on The Today Show once that she uses this technique.  Hey if it works for her, its worth giving a shot.

Northern Michigan is awesome.  This is the former state mental institute converted into amazing market shops.

Northern Michigan is awesome. This is the former state mental institute converted into fun market shops.

Enjoying wine tasting inside the market.

Enjoying wine tasting inside the market.

 

Shoveling to check in on our summer cottage.  By shoveling I mean him, not me!

Shoveling to check in on our summer cottage. By shoveling I mean him, not me!

Do you have any games you play to help get you through a run or just get you out the door when you don’t want to run?