No Sleep Till Brooklyn/New York

Thought I would share some photos from our trip with a few details.  Probably more for my memories than anything.  We arrived Thursday morning and amazingly our hotel room at the Hilton Manhattan East was ready at 11am and they let us put our bags in when we arrived.  We didn’t stay long though because David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar opened at noon and we knew it would get busy.  We had to get our New York on!

Waiting for yum at Momofuku Noodle Bar.
Waiting for yum at Momofuku Noodle Bar.

Dave’s loves himself a bowl of noodles and this one had a nice smokey flavour with a delicious egg yolk sitting in the middle.  I had a delicious soy sauce egg to start followed by an al pastor steam bun sandwich.  For dessert we had chocolate chip passionfruit cake soft serve.  What a great first meal in NYC.

After trying to go to the Statue of Liberty, but realizing tickets to get on the island were sold out, we wandered around the Freedom Tower and World Trade Center site, visited Trinity Church and Wall Street then headed back to clean up at the hotel for our ‘fancy’ dinner out at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill our first dinner at a Michelin starred restaurant.  His Upstate New York Blue Hill restaurant is in the top 50 restaurants in the world, so we knew the New York version had to be good.

Do you remember that dinner table scene from What About Bob?  Well this dinner went a lot like that.  Dish after dish after dish, followed by the most embarrassing moans of delight.  Best meal we have ever had.  They don’t allow phone use in the restaurant so, sorry, no pictures of the epicness.  Seeded butter, fermented rye bread, turnips, baby butternut squash with bacon marmalade and oh, green beans like you couldn’t imagine.  And I think green beans are boring!  Mmm, Faye this is delicious!

The next day was the big reveal at Rockefeller Centre, where we ‘ran into’ our Australian friends, Ben and Megan Auld and their daughter Charlotte.  We surprised them outside of Magnolia Bakery and it was like Megan saw a ghost, she just couldn’t comprehend what was in front of her. Tears and hugs flowed, then we headed over to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon for some mmm mmm pastries…and then back to Magnolia for a cupcake and Banana Pudding (mom, this is the recipe I made at the cottage this summer).  

You might think I'm eating like I have a marathon in two days or something.
You might think I’m eating like I have a marathon in two days or something.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

We split up so Dave and I could do a food tour in Brooklyn and Ben and Megan could get their bearings and run some errands.  They had only arrived the night before.

We saw some great street art, had more awesome food and learned a lot about the Hasidic Jewish community in Williamsburg.  Did you know families have from 6-8 children, and the woman wear wigs.  It was like they all had the same hair colour and haircut.  I think the most interesting thing we learned was that the leaders in the community put up posters saying that watching the marathon is not tolerated.  It has too many people running in promiscuous clothing. There should be no watching of it on the street and you must keep your children away from the windows.  The area was pretty quiet when you ran through it, but there were a couple little girls enjoying it from a stoop.

We met up with the Auld’s and did some shopping in Brooklyn, then had dinner at Diner.  After Dave and I took a detour and walked the Brooklyn Bridge at night.  What a great view and a nice walk.

The High Line
The High Line

The next day after picking out our race kit, we walked The High Line.  It is an old rail line that runs through the West Side of the city.  It was a nice, but crowded, walk that finished close to April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig, a Michelin starred pub.  What could be better for lunch!?!

April Bloomfield's The Spotted Pig - Can you see the pig?
April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig – Can you see the pig?

After a late lunch and more banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery, we split ways from the Auld’s and went back to Brooklyn in the evening for dinner at applewood, a restaurant I had read a book about last year.  It was Halloween and there was craziness everywhere.  The street by the restaurant was even shut down as kids and parents ran from store to store trick-or-treating. When we came back to Manhattan after dinner we took a short walk through Times Square to see some more costumes then headed back to the Hilton to watch the Mets and try to get an early night before the race. (This never really happens before a race.  You can’t sleep very well no matter what you do.)

Sunday was race day and you can read about that on my last post.  It was a hard run and I still think about it.  I talked to Megan yesterday, who just got back to Brisbane, and we both are still running it through our heads.  How would we do it again knowing what we know now?  We both feel like it isn’t a run to repeat.  No more uphill!

Monday morning we met for a late coffee and pastry at Frisson Espresso (we had been finding some great coffee shops, shout out to Blue Bottle Coffee and Devotion).  We had some final fun with Charlotte who had been a very good girl the whole trip and put up a lot from us old boring people.  Apparently, after Dave and I left she pointed out some runners who looked like me and has convinced her mom that when she is 20, Megan and I have to do a race with her.  So be it.  She has a tough momma and Auntie.

We’ll miss our Aussie friends a lot, but we are already talking about the next adventure in 2017. Dave and Megan have their eye on the Tokyo Marathon and I think they are kind of mad.

These two don’t look like they have work the next day.  Back to reality!

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New York City Marathon 2015

I’ve never been excited about a trip than I was about going to New York City.  We had only been back from China two weeks, when I found out one of my bestie’s, Megan in Australia, had a surprise birthday present from her husband to run the New York City Marathon.  This race had been on my bucket list for about 5 years, so I knew I had to go and run it with her.  

Ben, her husband, was completely on board and we decided to keep it a secret for 6 months and surprise Megan in NYC.  In the meantime, I was supposed to be training for a race that happened on the same day in Delta, BC.  Megan completely fell for it.  We had a great time emailing, texting, and Skyping about our training whoas.  This was Megan’s first marathon (my fourth) and she had lots of questions.  It was great to help provide tips (ALWAYS use your BodyGlide!) and talk about our body aches.

It was so hard to keep it a secret and tough to try to figure out how the run would go.  Megan is faster than I am, yet I had dreams about crossing the finish line together, but I had to let that go, knowing I couldn’t hold her pace with the risk of forfeiting finishing because of burnout.  It would be what it would be.

The morning we were to meeting up with them, we had planned to meet at the Magnolia Bakery in Rockefeller Centre.  The bakery is one of Megan’s favourite places, so Ben knew it wouldn’t be hard to get her there.  Dave and I waited across the street and ran over when we saw them. Megan completely froze, it was like stumbling across your parents in the middle of the Amazon jungle, it just didn’t make sense.  By the time it sunk in, she was in tears and we had a big ‘ol hug.  It seemed to take her days to get over the fact that we were there with them.

The expo was a madhouse of spandex and people, but very well organized.  There are 50,000 runners and they all needed to get their bib, T-shirt, race kit, etc.  It felt like the first real moment of, “we’re really doing this!”

Race morning on Nov 1 was an early one.  I was up at 5am and out the door at 5:25 to head down to the buses that took us to the Staten Island starting line.  Megan and I picked the worst meeting point because of the way the buses were loading and we missed each other.  We didn’t meet up until 2 hours later in the start area.

Here we are sitting in the hay at our corral area.  We had a couple hours wait, go to the bathroom, eat, go to the bathroom, stretch, and go to the bathroom.  Nerves!

There was a giant screen showing the start of the race, which was happening right behind us on the bridge.  This is the woman’s start.

There were about 5 helicopters flying around recording the start area.  The bridge was our starting point and we could watch the first two waves of runners crossing from our area.

We got pace bands at the Expo and Megan put them on us…upside-down!   Oops! 

Finally our wave was called and we are about to start.  There were three sections, ours went under the bridge, and no, we didn’t get peed on.  :)

Photo credit: Sakepuppets
Photo credit: Sakepuppets

The crowds were immense, almost too much by the last quarter.  You eventually get tired of the same signs and high-fiving kids. I did see some original signs though.  There was one of John Snow upset that said “There will be no hitting the Wall!” Another was of Christopher Walken saying “There’s only one Walken, everyone else should be running.” But it was awesome when we passed this church and they had their choir singing out front.  One of the best crowd sections.  Harlem was also awesome with their hip-hop music.

I started running in the middle to take a break from them.  It really messes with your running plan if you do 10:1s (10min run, 1min walk).  It is so hard to walk beside people yelling at you to keep moving. My phone battery was quickly dying for some reason and I didn’t start my 10:1s until an hour in and then was trying to preserve my battery so I wasn’t using my timing app. Everything was thrown off. 

Megan in the pink hat being chased by the Wizard of Oz characters.
Megan in the pink hat being chased by the Wizard of Oz characters.

Dave got this shot of Megan running (in the pink hat).  It shows you how crowded the running was.  After about 3 miles Megan was going too fast for me and I let her go.  By the half way point my feet were hamburger and things were tough.  How could we still be in Brooklyn!  We had 5 bridges to cross, only one that was flat.  It was a zombie race by the fourth bridge.  You could tell that a lot of people (like me) hadn’t paced well enough and had not anticipated the hardships of the bridges.  I knew I wasn’t going to quit, but I knew it would be a struggle for the last hour and a half.  

I also got run over by a Kenyan (that’s what I’m saying) in Harlem at a water station.  I got ran into from behind, slipped in all the Gatorade, water and banana peels (haha) and went down hard on my elbow and knee.  Half covered in pavement and liquid, it was a bit of limp-fest for the next hour, but I pressed on.  

By the time we got into Central Park I was aching for it to be over and was somehow convincing myself that I wasn’t going to walk over the finish line.  I had to run.  On the last turn at Columbus Circle, I pushed to run the rest, down the cheering section, with all the flags of different nations and over the finish line.  My time was 4:11:41, my worst time, but also probably my proudest finish for the hardest marathon I’ve done.  I finished in the top 35% of runners, so it’s hard to complain. Megan finished seconds under 4hrs, her new PR to beat.

After stopping in the medical tent (which was like a disaster zone of cots and wheelchairs) to get my elbow and knee checked and bandaged, I joined the zombie apocalypse through the park, for what seemed like forever, to pick up our poncho.  The ponchos were amazing!  I’m keeping mine to stay warm on the coach at home!  

It took almost an hour to get to Ben, Dave and Charlotte after the race in the Family Reunion Zone.  Megan who finished 11mins ahead of me still wasn’t there.  Somehow I had passed her after the finish line.  When we finally saw each other it was a teary reunion of “That was so hard!”

Upon leaving the park and heading back to the hotel, I received so many congratulations from people on the street.  Even on the subway a young kid recorded me and him on his phone and posted it to a NYC Marathon stream somewhere on the Internets.  He was so impressed that I had ran.

After going out for a nice dinner with the Auld’s at Ed’s Lobster Bar, Dave and I stopped for a cocktail at The Central Grill a couple blocks from our hotel.  We sadly watched the Met’s go down over free fries and a couple drinks and a fun conversation with the bartender and guy beside us.  Just as we were about to leave, the bartender came over with two glasses of champaign.  He told us a woman who was at the bar and had just left bought them for us for finishing.  It was probably the best moment I’ve had in New York thus far.  New Yorkers really love their marathon and love that the world comes to run it.  I haven’t felt hospitality like that before there.

Will I be back to New York, you betcha!  Will I run another marathon?  I’m currently saying I’m retired, but you never know, I kinda want to go back and attack this one again.  Clearly, this is crazy talk!