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?

Great Places To Run In and Around NYC

As we wrap up our last week here in NYC until next spring I have had the chance to do a few short post marathon runs.  The beautiful fall colors and paths brought back some really great memories of running NYC for the past 12 years and especially training for a marathon.  One of the best things about NYC, as well as it’s biggest drawback, is that despite NYC being one of the largest cities in the world it is geographically pretty small.  That means that after 12 years I have run almost every nook and cranny.  Some days I would weave around city streets and others I would travel parks and bridges.  Below are a few of my favorites that I recommend if you get a chance to run here.

Central Park:

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Central Park is synonymous with NYC.  While it is not one of my most favorite places to run, it really is a must if you come to visit.  The loop around the park is just over 6 miles of some pretty big as well as gently rolling hills.  The actual run is a nice challenge, but you also get to see a panoramic view of the city skyline.  You will see the Sheep’s Meadow, Wollman Rink, Carousel, The Boathouse, Great Lawn, Resevoir, Metropolitan Museum of Art and hundreds of other sights.  Take a stop at 90th street to admire the statue in honor of Fred Lebow, the founder of the New York City Marathon.

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I have also worked in Central Park for the past 12 years and didn’t know until yesterday that there is a memorial set up for famed distance runner Ryan Shay.  I grew up just a few towns away from Ryan and we ran track during the same years.  Despite the fact that I took a break for awhile, I still followed his running through out high school and college.  Shay passed away from a massive heart attack in 2007 during the Olympic Marathon Trials in Central Park.  There was a rock carved by fellow runners near a tree in the park.  I believe I found the spot but the etchings have faded away.  When I went to visit yesterday I found myself overcome with tears as I read his plaque on a park bench.

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The West Side:

It seems that the only picture I have from running on the West Side is with Flat Stanley.  We had an impromptu 20 mile run together that afternoon.

It seems that the only picture I have from running on the West Side is with Flat Stanley. We had an impromptu 20 mile run together that afternoon.

If you are looking for a nice flat and picturesque run, head for the West Side of the city.  We once took a cab up to the George Washington Bridge and followed the stairs down to the Hudson River.  There you will find the Little Red Lighthouse.  You can follow the path for 13 miles all the way down to Battery Park where you will be able to see Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the new World Trade Center.  Along the way you will pass dozens of cool piers as well as the famed Chelsea Piers and The Intrepid.

The East Side:

That is Roosevelt Island across the river.

That is Roosevelt Island across the river.

Although not as continuous as the West Side path, the East River Promenade has a nice flat section spanning from 60th Street all the way up to 125th Street.  You can follow the East River path all the way down to Battery Park but you will have to weave a little bit as the path does not follow one straight line.  While the East River isn’t quite as picturesque there are still lots of great places to see along the way.

Take the Tramway Car at 59th Street over to Roosevelt Island.  This quiet spot will give you a couple of miles to run looking over at Manhattan from a different view.  Plus the ride in the Tramway Car (same price as a subway ride) gives you a bird’s eye view of the river and city.  And you can relive that pretty scary scene from Spiderman!

Take a run over a bridge.  Now here is where I admit that we once ran all the way along the East River to go run across the Brooklyn Bridge.  It looked different from what I expected and when we got to the other side we realized I had taken us across the Williamsburg Bridge.  Kind of a big difference.  But once we finally found the Brooklyn Bridge we took a detour and waited in line to wolf down a full Grimaldi’s pizza between the two of us.  By the way, I think the Williamsburg Bridge offers a much prettier view but definitely not the same pizza.

Randall’s Island:

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This is one of my favorite places to go.  Cross over the footbridge at East 101st Street and you almost enter a different city.  While you can still see the sights of the city, it is much quieter over there.  There are miles of running paths as well as horse stables, dozens of athletic fields, Icahn Stadium and tennis and golf centers.  It also doesn’t hurt that the FDNY has it’s training center over there and you often see many new recruits out doing training runs.  Excellent motivation for you single (or not so single) ladies or gents.

Upper Saddle River Path:

Get up early on a Saturday or Sunday and take a short drive from the city out to New Jersey.  In less that 30 minutes you will find yourself at the Upper Saddle River Path in Bergen County.  Follow this out for about 6-7 miles along the Saddle River.  Weaving in and out of woods and under bridges, you will feel like you are dozens of  miles away from New York City.  Watch wildlife and fly fisherman as well as happy families biking along the path.  Stop at any of the 100 awesome diners along the way home for a delicious post run brunch.

I would love to hear what your favorite running spots are in the NYC area!

Kyle-Boston Finisher Guest Post

Not long ago many of you read the guest post from my friend Kyle who was about to run his second Boston Marathon last week.  Some of you may recall that he had a really rough go of it in 2013 and suffered some major stomach problems which lead to a less than stellar finish (by Kyle’s standards) and he returned to his family only to find out about the tragic bombings.  The whole experience left a pretty sour taste in Kyle’s mouth and if you asked me, he seemed to be out for revenge this year.

A lot of readers were really struck by the note Kyle’s daughter wrote to him last year after the race:

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And revenge he got!  Kyle and his family drove from Northern Michigan to Boston two weekends ago so that he could toe the line and reclaim the finish he was looking for the year before:

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“Boston 2014 was a race I will never forget. After what happened in 2013 the security was in full force. I had to go through security three times before finally getting to the starting line. Especially the spectators near the finish line had to go through the same security checks.

As always Boston was an amazing day full of excitement and energy. The elite field is like that of the runners you would see at the Olympics. The camaraderie of the athletes and spectators are just so full of passion for the sport. Being able to start with them and be a part of it was overwhelming.

The weather was perfect. Being from Michigan it was a little warm for me after running 187 consecutive days below 60.  When we started the race it was already 55 degrees. I don’t think I was the only one who made the mistake and didn’t use sunscreen before the race.

I really enjoyed having my name on my arms so the spectators could yell for me. Once you pass the screech tunnel it’s hard to tell what they were yelling. High fives can be found everywhere along the course.

I really enjoyed having my friends there running and also representing Michigan.”

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This is a shot a lot of us runners can secretly envy.  How awesome!

Kyle finished this year’s marathon in 2:44:35 and finished 560th out of 32,000 runners.  On top of that he beat his time from last year by 35 minutes!  He was the top finisher from northern Michigan.  You can read a local article about him here: Kiel records top Boston time out of area runners .

As his friend I can say that he is rather modest.  I follow his work on Facebook and the guy is pretty amazing.  He works full time, is a full time parent and still finds time to run ultras and other endurance runs just about every weekend.  In fact he was back at it last week, helping his daughter run a local road race.  He really does do a great job of balancing life and showing his family that you can live a healthy, happy, and active lifestyle.  He is a great example for the running community.  I am pretty certain that everyone who knows Kyle will tell you that he is a genuinely great guy.  I myself am pretty proud of him as I am sure many others are too.  Congrats on the well earned finish Kyle!

Back here in NYC, I might have to start working on my swimming skills (which are pretty terrible by the way).  We have had nonstop rain for over 48 hours and it is getting old.  Remember that tiny studio I told you we are subletting?  It is feeling pretty small.  But on the bright side I did get to try out my new rain hat when I went out to run errands yesterday.

Just picking up some supplies for our ark!

Just picking up some supplies for our ark!

I went for a run Tuesday evening just as the rain was starting to set in and I was reminded of just how beautiful running in NYC can be sometimes.  Central Park is a pretty special place.

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A little run by the boat pond.

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Then a stop by Bethesda Fountain.

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 Topped off with some quick hill work up Cat Hill.

Happy running!