Saturday, March 4, 2017

Weekend Adventures: NYC

Due to the fact that Ryan was going to be stuck in Syracuse for about 3 months, we decided it was a great opportunity to get us to New York City for the weekend.

Syracuse is about a 4-5 hour drive, so we ended up meeting in NYC for President's Day weekend.

I'm going to let the pictures do most of the talking here.

Miraculously we get to our hotel about 20 minutes of each other. Ryan had to take a bus (long story). And I obviously flew, and took the Subway. (FYI - Google maps was the best way of figuring out the subway system!!)

We got freshened up, and headed out for some exploring. Our hotel was the Marriot Residence Inn - which was wedged between Times Square and Central Park. Great destination!! We walked around Times Square for a bit, bought broadway tickets for Saturday night, and asked our guy where a local goes for the best Thai food.

Times Square is a lot like Vegas. Too people-y. But pretty cool to see. Once ;) Ha!

We headed a few blocks north to "Yum Yum Bangkok". This place did NOT disappoint. Ryan and I usually get different things to order, and share. But we both wanted their green curry so bad. It was incredible. I wanted to lick the bowl. Prices were really good for Manhattan, too!

I could have gone back to this place again and again...but you aren't supposed to do that on vacation ;)

Saturday morning, we got up early for a big day of sight seeing. This was the sunrise that greeted us from our hotel window.....

Not bad, NYC, not bad!

We took the subway to Battery Park, and got in line for our ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I think our favorite part of this was the ferry ride. We are such view-lovers.....

I think this one will have to make our 2017 Christmas card, what do you think?

There she stands - so proud! It was surreal seeing that Statue of Liberty in person. Seen so many pictures of it. It's cool to be there. And if you remember from my 2017 "Bucket List Post" -- I wanted to touch the statue. Well, here you have it!!:

Me. Touching Lady Liberty. Pretty fun. We only made it this far up. Tickets to the crown you much buy in advance. And we aren't "buy in advance" people. I don't even know where I'm going to be living in 1 month. How could I possible plan months in advance for a trip??

Our next stop was very sombering, but also incredible. The 911 Museum. If you are every in NYC, this is a MUST SEE. Picured above is the new WTC they are building. Very impressive architecture.

I'm didn't take pictures of what laid within the museum out of respect. But it was truly a sight. They kept the original foundation of the WTC, and build the museum around it. There were melted pieces of steel, concrete stair cases covered in blood from the resuces that when on that day, and a room filled with the 3000 people who died on 9.11. I was tearful, heartbroken, nauseated, angry at times - but also in awe.

Above is a quilt that 4 women from Pennsylvania got together and made after 9.11. Each square is about a person who's life we lost during the attacks. Something about this quilt really touched me. The quilt squares were so personalized. Some squares had apples for teachers, a stethoscope, a pair of running shoes. Just unreal....

This is the actual memorial they have created. Also incredible. 

We also got to stop at Ellis Island. Pretty impressive - felt neat to "walk the floors" where our ancestors came to America on. 

This is where they would have to enter and go through "customs". 

It was about 2 pm, and we had seen the statue, Ellis Island, and every hours at the 911 Museum. We were hungry. We hit up a bar/burger in the Fidi that was definitely a firefighter haven. The walls were covered in patches. And our table happened to be next to the Mesa, AZ one. Kind of fun!

Next up was the Financial District. Anyone who knows Ryan well, knows how much he has followed and taken quite an interest in the stock market since he first started working at age 14 ;) So he really enjoyed seeing where the magic happens. 

He wasn't excited that I had to take his picture by the Wall Street sign ;) 

George Washington overlooking the New York Stock Exchange Building....
And I just loved this view. The tall buildings of the Financial Distict, with the cathedral in the distance. Beautiful! 

We headed back to our hotel, actually vegged out for about 2 hours to regain our energy (with coffee, of course). And then headed out for a Broadway Show.

I really, really, really wanted to see Chicago. And that is what we saw! Definitely enjoyed every second of the show!

Here we are all fancied up. Ryan shaved this mustache Saturday morning that he had been growing as a "pact" with his training buddies. I was so pleased!! 

Sunday morning we slept in a little, and headed to Central Park for a run. I was officially in "taper mode" for my marathon (I planned that). So did a nice 3 mile jaunt through the park! 

Such a beautiful place!! 

After our run, we were hungy and I was ready for some carbs and calories (I've been 80/20 paleo lately...and that went out the door on our weekend!!) This was Maison Kayser. Delicious pastries. We had the pain au chocolat and americanos. So good! 

Then we headed out to explore the city. We checked out Chelsea Market, High Line, East Village, and had dinner in Little Italy. 

It was a wonderful day and evening!! 

Sunday morning I had to squeeze one more Central Park run in! So we headed back for another nice 3 miler. Then we just walked around Central Park and enjoyed the sights. And soon thereafter had to part ways again....

Goodbye, New York City! 

Such a fun place and  wonderful memories. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Phoenix Marathon

The marathon is complete. This is a story about the day I pushed my body to places I didn't know I could take it.

As you know - I have trained hard.

It wasn't just the 18-week training program. I've had Boston on my mind for about 2 years now. However, when I started training, I had a variety of health issues come about. From getting bumps all over my bones with joint pain to plantar fasciitis. I had my share of "road-blocks".

I also trained for a marathon last year, and couldn't run it because of a training at work.

So let's fast forward to the day before the race (as I gave plenty of training updates on this blog). No time to think about the race, as work was so stressful this week. But that's not to be discussed today ;)

I did the race with some of my best girlfriends. In fact, they are some of the best girlfriends a girl could ever ask for. We hit up the expo 1st.
We always really enjoy the expo as a time to just really soak it all in and relax! 

I took this obligatory cheesy picture. I felt  silly taking this. Becuase at this moment, I didn't think I was going to qualify. 

We rented a lovely VRBO on Tempe Town Lake in Phoenix, enjoyed our own home-cooked meals, and had a really relaxing evening. 

Sleep was your typical "pre-race sleep"-- very restless. Nevertheless, we all got some sleep!

We were awake at 3:50am and out the door by 4:30 am race morning! Full of excitement. I had my traditional banana with peanut butter (which was my fuel for every long run). 

Lisa and Amber (the 2 beauties on the outside) were doing the half. Sharon and I did the full. So we had to part ways at this point to take buses to our race start! 

It was a brisk 38 degrees. It was probably about 32 degrees at the race start for Sharon and I up in the mountains.

We arrived to our race start 1 hour before the gun. Plenty of time, right?

No. The lines for the port-a-potty were unbelievable. I've never seen such lines in my life. But what do you do? You HAVE to use the bathroom before a 26.2 mile run! Panic started to set in. But Sharon (my dear friend who has run about 20 marathons) kept reminding me that our chips give our time...not the gun! 

We got out of the restrooms in time, but by the time we got to gear-drop, the gun and fireworks were going off. We missed the gun by 4 MINUTES. I cannot believe I missed the start line to the race. But...there was nothing to it but starting to run, right? 

We had a pretty set strategy in mind.

The 1st 5 miles, we blew past hundreds of people at about a 7 min/mile pace. I also couldn't feel my feet because they were so cold/numb. 

I grabbed this photo off the BMO Phoenix Marathon race website. Great photo of what it looked like! Beautiful views!!

Mile 13: My goal was to be at 13 miles by 1:40. And I think we hit it about 1:39. Which gave me a 1 minute cushion to stretch out and use the restroom. 
(This is me about Mile 20)

Mile 20: "The Halfway Point of a Marathon". A marathon is 26.2 miles. The 1st half is the 1st 20, the 2nd half is the final 6! 

Sharon looked at me and said "This is where if you have it - give it" That is so true!! She also made me laugh at this point. She said "What does the honey badger say, Abby? You are the honey badger these next 6 miles. What does honey badger say?" And I responded, "Honey badger don't give a ****!!" 

Then mile 23 I started unraveling a bit. I felt like if I stepped wrong, I was going to fall because my calves were cramping up BAD. I knew I didn't have cushion to walk. So I had to keep pushing. 

Sharon was a big motivator here. She reminded me that I didn't train for nothing. She also pointed about that we are NOT going to come in 1 minute behind a Boston qualifier. We can come in 20 minutes behind. But not 1 minute! 

Then I started praying. I had to close my eyes and find the deepest strength to not just keep moving, but to push out a 7:30-7:40/mile pace when all I wanted to do was stop! 

I chased that 3:35 marathon pacer for about 1 mile. I knew if I passed him, I was sure to qualify since he started with the gun.....and I started 4 minutes behind the gun. I passed him at about 25.5 miles. I felt tears building inside of me. 

I can't really explain in words what I felt when I saw the finish line, and the clock, and the inner realization that I made my goal. I worked so hard for it. I started to yell "I'm really doing this! It's really happening!!" 

When we crossed the finish line, a few tears came out. Sharon and I hugged. It true joy!! I honestly don't tihnk I could have done this without her. She really helped believe in me, and push me to prove I CAN do it! 

I realized that the marathon is my favorite race. It is the true test of the human spirit, not just the physical body! I cannot wait to run in the Boston marathon come April 2018. (Assuming I get in the lottery. Hopefully 4 minutes is enough!!) 

Biggest thing I learned this weekend? One can truly do what we put our heart and soul into. I was never an athlete. Fast doesn't come naturally to me. I had to put a lot of heart to get this done. And I did it. 

Here we are post-race with our Boston-Qualifier hats. Amber and Lisa had great half marathons as well! They both ran super strong. Amber ran a 1:31 half, which is pretty impressive! My friends are fast...

We headed back to our condo, and cooked up sausage/kale/quinoa and sat on the patio and enjoyed a post-race beer. Guinness tastes fantastic after a marathon, I have decided! :)

Finally we headed to our traditional spot on Mill Ave -- Loco Patron for street tacos and ceviche! We were crashed asleep by 10 pm that night! It was a big day. 

I could not have asked for a better birthday weekend, or better friends! I am feeling pretty blessed these days!