10K- Halloween Edition

Sleepy Hollow is known as the home of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, haunted grave yards, beautiful trees, and plenty Halloween spirit… and of the Riverside Runners Sleepy Hollow 10K.

Yup, one last race before the Marathon, and a seasonal one was in order.  The historic village is just a little 30 minute drive from my front door, so perfect for a Saturday race.  Where to start in the days events? img_8279

Sense this was not an NYRR or NYC Runs event, the race numbers were not conveniently located on the Upper West side for me to pick up while on a stroll after work.  No fear! Megan is here!  This time her job was a hop skip and jump from packet pickup, so she took care of that for all runners in our party.  Races in the cooler seasons usually mean long sleeved race shirts and this one was no different.  (I’m now a proud finisher and owner of a very orange are shirt).

Weather this time of year can be unpredictable and change in the blink of an eye.  Pre-race evening= cool and breeze.  Race Day= grey, windy, and rainy!  Like not pouring-can’t-see-the-road-ahead rainy, but like my-shoes-are-gonna-be-soaked-before-we-even-start rainy.  And did I mention cold?  Incase you missed that, it was wet, windy, and cold!  But we’ve all run in worse and to quote a course volunteer from a past race, “you look so much more bad-ass running in the rain!”

img_8276 So morning of, layered up and ready to go we hop in the car and head to Sleepy Hollow.  The weather definitely made the start line a little messy and confusing.  Everyone was huddled up under store front awnings or strategically held umbrellas.  The energy felt low until we saw the Headless Horseman heading our way (I’ll leave out the part where we saw the rider getting in costume and no he wasn’t holding a pumpkin), but as he lead the way to the starting line and we all fell in behind, it felt like we were heading off on an adventure and the rain, rather then be an annoyance, was all part of the experience.  The gun sounded and the horse reared.  Nothing but scenic Hudson River views, colorful wet leaves, steep hills, haunted turns, and costumed characters stood in our way.

I could tell right away this was a community event.  Starting out on the “seed yourself” course, everyone was talking and chatting, stopping to take pictures and going way to fast to maintain a pace the whole event.  But once we were about a mile into the course, and out of the downtown area, races set in and runners spread out, hunkering in and assessing the terrain.  Front lawns were decorated with signs of haunting encouragement (Don’t stop, something might be gaining on you! and Run for your life!) and families were out to cheer us on.  Race course support was dressed to impress, or scare, and the Horseman made another appearance- waiting for us around a tight turn.

The course… hilly.  Hilly, so hilly, that’s really all I can say.  Beautiful but hilly!  There were moments I had to wonder, as I approached yet another steep incline and had to crane my neck and look almost straight up, HOW am I going to make it up this one??  There were some times when just as you thought you were at the top and flattening out, there would be a second tier to tackle before downhill even became an option!  I’ll fully admit, there were hills I had to power walk up, not necessarily because I was fatigued, or because a walk/run strategy is what I will be using for the marathon, but because I’m actually not sure if my little legs would be able to run up some of the hills we faced.

Then of course- what does up, must come down!  I cane definitely say I was more intimidated by the uphills but fearful of the down.  Leaves and pine needles are treacherous as they are when on the road.  Add in the rain and downhills could easily become a painful slip-and-slide.  Taking a slower pace and accurate footing ensured I didn’t take a tumble. img_8285

I felt like the miles flew by, which was also a relief as struggling through 6.2 miles would not have been a good sign right before tackling 26.2…  There were beautiful views of the Hudson River and the excitement of the conditions to take my mind off everything else.  The finish line, I knew would be exciting.  We passed it on the way out of town and it was at the top of a small but intense little hill (OMG did I mention the course was hilly?).  Once I could see it, all of the excitement powered me up and across!

What gets me is when spectators shout “It’s all downhill from here!” when it’s DEFINITELY NOT and “You can see the finish” when you DEFINITELY CAN’T.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the support, but in the moment of the race, what they say and what I experience are not the same.  Of course they can’t know that I don’t appreciate what they are saying, but what is “just around the next turn” to a spectator can be a lot longer for a runner.

I digress, race spectators will be race spectators.  And no race would be the same without their support.

img_8283Finishing!  I finished right were I wanted to be, at 1:10.  By then the rain had let up (for the time being) and the wind picked up.  I felt cold again!  It wasn’t till mile 3 that I could feel all my fingers and of course slowing down meant getting cold all over again… but our Brunch reservations kept me going as did the thought of getting OUT of my wet layers!

After brunch the car ride home was made even better by the blasting heat that blew right on my cold, tired, still kinds damp footsies and the thought os nothing else standing in my way of a nap.

The important things to a runner!

What is your favorite seasonal race or race day story?  Share here!

Always,

C

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Tips to Travel: Do Your Research

I feel a bit like I’m back in school.

Spending hours combing the shelves for the right book, studying maps, using all of the proper Google search terms…


The best way to travel safe and have fun?  Do some digging on where you are going.  Once my destination was decided on, a trip to the travel section of Barnes and Noble was in order.  I wanted to not only get excited to travel, submerse myself in the culture and beauty of my final destination, but I needed to educate myself on this country to decide where I wanted to start.  What’s the current and exchange rate?  What about the accommodations or the food and water situation?  Are there any required shots I need before heading out?  What can I expect the weather to be like?… cause that will totally dictate how I pack!
I also wanted to enjoy the next 7 months of preparing and learning.  This makes the sense of adventure last a lot longer the just the 10 day vacation.

img_7077So with a copy of Lonely Planet: Bali and Lombok and the Tuttle Bali- The Ultimate Guide in hand, tabs saved on my laptop for the CDC travelers info, airline price watcher activated, and accommodations contacted – the research portion of the trip is underway and I am into anything and everything Bali.  History, culture, religion, tradition, food, dress, war, geography, language, art… you name it, I want to learn about it.  What I don’t want to be?  An uneducated tourist looking to live my own “Eat, Pray, Love”.   (although great book, yes you should read it).

Budgeting and packing will be in others posts all their own, so lets look at researching airlines and housing (both of which were influenced by price)!

Thank goodness for Google.  You can search for flights over a given date period and it will pull up various airlines and prices.  I also entered my itinerary into SkyScanner, which is a search engine for flights and prices on various carriers and through various host sites.  The biggest thing I found— don’t fall for scam sites that are advertising really low rates.  So in your searches, please check the authenticity of where you are purchasing tickets from! Price not only influenced what airline I travel, but the schedule and layover situation as well as safety.

I decided to go someplace in the middle.  Air China. The particular flight I chose fit all my requirements pretty well.  The price point round trip was something I could accommodate.  The layovers were reasonable and in a country I wouldn’t mind being in- Taipei, Taiwan.  I would be taking off and touching down at relatively reasonable hours with LOTS of time to sleep on the overnight flights.  What I didn’t want was to arrive in Bali in the pre-dawn darkened of 4am and have to figure out how to get anywhere, but I don’t mind leaving NYC at midnight.  There is really no reason to sacrifice personal comfort or anything else for that matter, enjoy the “in transit” part of your travel adventure!

For accommodations, I wanted to get a real feel for Bali, not something I could really get in the Four Seasons Resort… just no.  So I began by looking into hostels and homestay- both economy friendly and a true cultural submersion.  These are located al over the island, and I found a great one in Ubud- where I’m headed.  With breakfast, bike rental, airport pickup, and a friendly staff who answered all of my email questions, and within walking distance of temples/attractions/a yoga studio/markets… I knew this was the place.


Guide books are great resources and so are other travelers.  Because I’m excited about this trip, it comes up in almost every conversation and before I know it, I’m talking to 6 different people who have all been to Bali and want to share their tips and best practices- Attractions to see, things to avoid, how to pack, and more all came up.  Some things I’ve already considered, other information was new and gave me more to look into with an educated eye.   I’ve also turned to social media.  Today almost every hotel and restaurant, store and park have a social media presence.  Bali is a hot topic on many blogs and Pinterest boards.  I’ve dug into it all.  Looking up my homestay on Instagram gave me a look through the eye of other travelers, not someone trying to sell their place over others.  Reading blogs (like this, haha!) that are not out to earn stars (like Yelp) give me a more “true to life” look at where I’m going.

This entire post to say that I like researching and learning, especially if it’s something I’m interested and invested in!  Taking time to learn about a far away country that eventually I’ll actually be in makes the who trip experience more exciting and longer lasting.

Where do you look for travel tips and destination research?

Always,

C

Fall in the City

The slightest hint of morning chill is in the air.

The Pumpkin Spice is wafting from every block.

The running trails are starting to be covered in colorful leaves.


It’s about to be that time— Fall Season in New York City.

 


If you know me well, you would know that I usually love summer heat and absolutely don’t love winter cold.  But I’ll be honest ya’ll- this summer was rough and I’m actually looking forward to the Fall season!

What is there to look forward to, you may ask?  Well, let’s see!

Can we start with the clothes?!

Boots, skinny jeans, hats, scarves…. you name it.  New Yorkers are great at fall fashion.  It’s that perfect season before winter when the whole city is buttoned up tight in a black pea coat and boots.  It’s a cozy look that continues to exude class and sophistication while you are basically wearing a blanket all day.  Hats are big, especially a nice black felt wide brim… and then there is my fav- the slouchy look that doubles a great way to keep your hair up.

Oh, and scarves!  I think everyone wears a scarf in NYC in the fall.  But not the same old warm water resistant scarves… I mean the pretty accent scarves that yes, can break the wind and add a slight layer or warmth on a brisk day.  But basically they are the outfit.  You can pretty much wear the same jeans, books, and black shirt every day– just dress it up and change the look with a different scarf each day and who would know?  Then, as winter begins to edge in- those beautiful infinity wrap scarves can double as a sweater before you actually out on another layer.

From the ground up (think Han Solo in the original Star Wars Trilogy), knee high leather boots (classic black or brown are the most popular) over every wash of skinny jean you can imagine and you have the New York fall season fashion staple.    Don’t feel like jeans today? That’s cool- tuck a pair of leggings into those boots and you are set to go.  wanderer-2-of-3

Blouses and sweaters… this is where I get stuck… and that’s not a good sign.  But New Yorkers wear it all- here fashion runs the gamut— from flannel to fleece, collars to crew necks, wide knit to turtle neck, solid to plaid.  Layering is key- have a tank or T under that sweater for added warmth and as long as you can mix and match within the fall color pallet chances are pretty good you will fit right in.  When in doubt, get it in black.  Looking to brighten things up?  Look for maroon, gold, brown, maybe some forest green.

And look how perfectly that leads us into another favorite part of the Fall Season.  While the fashion staple may always be black, the city goes from green to orange and gold in the blink of an eye.  Leaves begin to change and blanket the city while pumpkins and gourds begin to fill the shelves of grocery stores.  Store fronts fold up the floral prints that are quickly replaced by black cats, witches, and turkey table spreads.  And of course, thanks to Starbucks, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are on everyone’s mind (even if the daily temps. are still in the upper 80’s).  From mother nature to the sons and daughters of industry, no one is behind when it comes to making you want it to be the perfectly crisp fall day!

Basically it looks like and smells like cinnamon, apples, and leaves (well, it would smell like that if we were down in the North Georgia mountain in a pumpkin patch, but we are not and the city itself never really smells good…so we take that part back and it’s mostly in your head).

That’s not to say there isn’t some incredibly fun and unique fall activities happening.

img_5630Fall can mean the end of long sunny day, but we hardly say goodbye to outdoor adventures.  Now is the time to pack up for a hike or find a corn maze.  Get out of the taxi grid locked avenues and go apple picking or horse back riding instead.  Wrap up and enjoy the roof top bars and film screenings before ice skating and hot coco take over.  Head just north a little bit and you find Sleepy Hollow… plenty of Halloween and Fall traditions here!

If we are talking about running, well what’s on all of our minds?   Mornings are cool and while it gets dark earlier, there are plenty of hours of daylight, less humidity, quieter trails, spirited Halloween runs, and the NYC marathon that is just around the corner… whether your are running, walking, cheering or sleeping… you can’t deny the energy, anticipation and excitement.

We also put behind us the summer horror of sweltering subway platforms and un air-conditioned train cars that have plagued the city for months, while certainly not rushing the onslaught of the inevitable winter slush puddles of unknown depths that will be rampant later.  Now is the time to enjoy not having to pack extra clothes because you have sweat through the first set or wonder if you will freeze later without more layers.

What are you enjoying most this fall season?

 

Always,

C

10 Step Guide to a Clean Apartment

Nothing says “Welcome home!” after a long day or a late night then walking into a clean space.  A bug free space that smells good and looks good can promote better sleep, health, and (I find) a brighter attitude and outlook on life.  Not to mention it’s so much nicer to invite guests over into a home you would actually want to be in.

This weekend I spent about 3 hours cleaning every floor surface and countertop in my apartment and had a lot of time to think about what I was going.  Starting into a project like that can feel daunting and hard to start, but with the right tools and game plan, it can go from daunting to done a lot faster then we think.  So, I thought I would write out a little guide for all my friends and readers out there sitting in your living rooms watching the dust balls blow by or standing in the shower as the pink mold scales the walls.

Let’s start with my supply list:

  • bleach
  • scrub brush
  • rubber gloves
  • vacuum cleaner
  • swiffer
  • swiffer dry duster pads
  • swiffer wet pads
  • trash bags
  • paper towels
  • cleaning spray (I like Method brand)
  • Clorox wipes
  • Windex

(note, I have wood floors… so this list is tailored for that. If you have carpets-meaning wall to wall, not removable rugs- I would investigate a carpet cleaning as needed).

Also, I use basically every Swiffer product on the market.  I prefer them to a broom as they pick up and lock/hold dust, hair, and grit a lot better then a broom and stop stuff from flying into the air.  You can get everything you need for your first Swiffer experience in a starter kit,  and  I think you will be hooked if you are not already.


Before I get started I’ll say this:  I like to work in a “top down” and “back to front” format.  I want to avoid waling over clean floors or having to re-clean.  I’m lucky- my apartment is off one long hallway so I can work from one end to the other and room by room (closing them off once I’m done).  Each home is different- take from this what you will and adjust accordingly for you!

      1. Pick up and Remove Big Pieces

Before you can clean remove personal stuff, move furniture, and in general pick up.  This gives you full access to your floors and surfaces.  It allows you to clean under everything rather then just around it.  You can move larger furniture pieces throughout the cleaning process to get at every surface, but get most of it done before you are one deep in cleaning products.

      2. Wipe Down Counter Tops

It’s a work from the top down idea.  You don’t want to wipe bits and pieces of grit onto our clean floors, so clean down your counter tops and other surfaces before starting on the floors.  If you brush anything on the floor, you will get it later.  Now anything you set on the counter will be going on a clean surface and not spread dirt.

        3. Wash Dishes

I don’t know about you, but when I wash the dishes I tend to get water on the floor and all over.  To stay with the idea of a clean space, before you go all in on the floors have a clean open sink.  Now you can also dump out any used bleach without it going on your dishes.  When you have finished the dishes, clean out the drain and re-wipe down the counter so it’s dry.  Standing water attracts bugs and grows mold.

      4. Vacuum

This is your first step to clean floors- Start with the big bits.  Vacuum in all the corners and large surface areas to remove grit, sand, dust balls, hair, any food bits and trash.  You want to remove dust and hair as much as possible before introducing anything wet, it’s a lot easier to clean it up dry.  You also will not want to be walking all over your floors once they are clean and drying- so vacuum first!

      5. Dry Swiffer Floors

Swiffers have changed my life and the way I clean.   Start with a round of Dry Swiffer— you are going for a deeper layer of clean then the vacuum, picking up smaller pieces then your first round and targeting dirt and dust.  Again, can’t stress it enough, we want to get as much cleaned off the flood with dry cleaning products before we introduce anything damp.

      6. Dust Non Floor Surfaces

While we are at the dusting phase, let’s step away from the floors, grab your Swiffer Duster (I like to use the extend rod) and dust off shelves, dressers, TV stands, and and other furniture that attracts dust… Ceiling fan blades, molding, lamp shades, high up corners, and any other hard to reach corner.  Now is also a great time to break out the windex and clean your mirrors and windows.  Letting in that extra light will make your apartment not only brighter but fresher.

      7. Bleach Scrub Down

I like to hit up the bathroom first and get it done.   So far I have vacuumed and Dry Swiffered the bathroom floors and how we are getting down and dirty.  Like on hands and knees.  *wear gloves, glasses, and maybe a mask.  Protect your eyes and skin from bleach contact!*   Start with a generous bleach water mix in a pan (I like to get something out of the recycle bin that I can throw out after use).  Starting at the far end of he bathroom, scrub brush in hand, begin scrubbing roughly 6 inch sections of tile floor.  Pay attention to the grout between each tile and apply good pressure.  You don’t want to flood the floor with bleach water, so take it in small sections.  Then grab a few paper towels and whip down he section of floor you just bleached.  Move down and do the next 6 inch section, and so on till you scrub and whip your way right out the door.  LET IT DRY!  Try to avoid walking back over the tile till it it totally dry and be sure to keep pets out of the room too!

      8. Damp Swiffer Floors

While that is drying, move on to all the other surfaces.  Grab your Swiffer again and suit it up with a Damp Swiffer pad this time.  Again, working from that back to front idea, go over your floors for their 3rd and final round of cleaning.  This time we are going for disinfecting and any left over dirt and grit.  I like to do the kitchen and bedroom first, then leave those rooms alone… next hitting up the living room and working down the hallway till I’m out the door.  This step not only disinfects floors and surfaces, but it leaves your home smelling amazing.

      9. Allow it All to Dry

Now leave for a few hours and let everything dry.  Me? I take my computer and go down to my local cafe and blog.. oh!  haha!  (Yes, I wrote this whole post write after actually doing each of these steps).  You don’t want to mess up all your hard work right away!  Later you can spot clean if there are any places you missed or areas that need a little extra scrub.

      10. Replace Everything

Now you can put back your coffee table, area rugs (which can be washed and dried while you clean the floors), chairs… anything you moved during Step 1.  Now is also a good time to make your bed, organize your throw pillows, and rearrange your living space so it’s totally you and totally accessible.  Add in some fresh flowers, light your favorite candle or incense, and you are set to enjoy the place you call home!


Having trouble getting started cleaning? Let me know if this list helps you out next time!

Always,

C

My Office for the Day

Ask me a few years ago and I never would have thought I’d have a desk in an office at my job.  Nope, I was sure I’d be chained to a front desk and retail space forever and I dreamed that I would be on a stage someplace.  But a while ago, that changed and I have a cozy (albeit not the most comfortable) desk, chair, drawers, and computer with my tack strip filled with schedules and various sticky-notes from friends and coworkers with words of encouragement.

I work that pretty classic 5 days a week and try to avoid work on my day’s off at all costs.  Actually, not only do I try to avoid work on my days off, I try to avoid dealing with all people.

Yeah, I suppose that could sound strange but it’s amazing how worn down I get being bright and smily day in and day out.


But how would I get work done on this blog or research my trip to Bali or plan dinner for that matter?  If I stay in the apartment all day and nap(?), cause well- I’ve earned that!  At least one of my 2 days off is dedicated to NOT interacting with people unless I want to.

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Enter my second office… my office away from the office… my work space without being my job… my local cafe!   It’s so close that if I didn’t go there it would be a crime.  Once a week or so I pack up my little computer and notebooks with calendars and I wander down the stairs and out the door of my building, across the street and into the air-conditioned bliss that is ChocNYC cafe.  Come for the coffee and pastries, stay for the cool clean environment, community, and work space.  I love that there is no internet.  I can write without distractions and let the thoughts happen.  I can enjoy being out of my apartment but not having to interact with many people, I can just be and let the world happen around me in this little oasis.  I get to feel like a part of a community, my local community, without getting on the train.

I’m becoming a regular.  Something I’ve always wanted in New York.  To have a place where they know my name and my order before I even walk in.  Where I can relax but be distant.  I’ve found that and it’s become my weekend office.  People of all ages and backgrounds come and go.  Placing orders, drinking coffee, staying to talk or dashing to work.  It’s a place to mingle and converse… the perfect place for me to write.

This little cafe, opened about 4 months ago and trust me, there will be a whole post or two devoted to the owners, location, and delicious treats.  But for now, as I sip on my second iced coffee and debate whether to draft another post for later or go to the grocery store for dinner provisions, I’m just going to enjoy and with our questions, enjoy the office.

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Do you have an office away from the office?  Where do you go to read, write, and be inspired in your community?

Always,

C