nyc, part one

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I think it’s safe to say we had a pretty epic trip to NYC a couple of weeks ago.

on friday, our first full day in the city, you wouldn’t have even known a blizzard was coming. It was 40+ degrees and sunny and chilly but overall quite pleasant. our hotel was just a couple blocks away from grand central, so we popped in there for a cappuccino, grabbed bagels from a nearby shop (which turned out to be our favorite, after trying two others over the weekend), walked up to see times square, and then to the southern end of central park.

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we did a little bit of shopping (aka we did not come equipped with proper winter coats, so both of us ended up buying one there…turned out to be a good investment), grabbed a few treats from milk bar, and then headed downtown for a late lunch at momofuku noodle bar. we probably had over 100 restaurants pinned to a google map that interested us, but eating here was at the top of our list, and one of our few “musts.” we got the classic momofuku ramen, some pork steam buns, and their take on a kale salad, and all three were fantastic.

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post-lunch, we headed back to our hotel for a bit to relax and recharge (literally…NYC drained our phone batteries like whoa), and a couple hours later, took the subway over to the greenpoint neighborhood in brooklyn to check out a few bars. first, we went to TØRST, a minimalist bar specializing in unique, higher ABV beers. we loved that you could get different size pours of each beer (5 oz, 8 oz, 12 oz), so we were able to try a few each. and the best part was that almost everything on tap was from the east coast, so it was all new to us!

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#flannelfridayforever

from there we headed just a few blocks down the street to brooklyn brewery. here, you buy “tokens” at the door in increments of $5, which you then use to redeem beers at the bar. unsurprisingly, this turned out to be one of our favorite places of the weekend – we loved the open, warehouse feel of the brewery, and ended up hanging there for a couple hours. we tried a bunch of different beers, but a favorite was the greenmarket wheat.

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after the brewery, the weather was still decent, and we felt like walking off some of our beer, so we headed down towards the williamsburg bridge and decided to walk across (we’d planned to do the brooklyn bridge, but we weren’t up for walking that far then, and never made it back over there). I am terrified of heights and especially bridges, but I was determined to have the experience and make it across. as you may know, there’s a dedicated walking lane on this bridge, and I actually felt pretty safe and secure the whole time. being able to see manhattan all lit up like that was totally worth it!

once we got across the bridge, it had started to snow lightly, and we were starving. we pulled out our phones and realized we were really close to katz’s deli, which stays open late on weekends and was another must on our list. you just never know what to expect from places like this that are so hyped, but holy pastrami, it was amazing. (probably also contributing to the amazingness was our level of intoxication). we split a pastrami sandwich (on rye, with mustard) and an order of latkes, and were in heaven. i’ll have what she’s having, indeed.

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we weren’t quite ready to call it a night yet, so we headed over to mcsorley’s, widely considered to be the oldest Irish tavern in NYC. here, there are two options: light beer or dark beer. lots of cool memorabilia on the walls here, and bartenders that feel like they walked straight out of another era. we sat in the window here and watched the storm start to pick up, and ended our night with a walk back to our hotel.

and then came Jonas.

but that didn’t stop us! we had reserved cronuts from dominique ansel for saturday morning, and there was no way we were missing out on those. the subways were still running, so we headed down to soho. these guys were totally worth the trip. (and the bakery had a great window for watching the snow fall).

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after pastries we braved the elements for awhile and walked up to NYU and washington square park — we couldn’t see much, since the snow was blowing everywhere, and most of the buildings were closed, but we did our best.

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once we had enough walking, we took the subway to the upper east side and made a quick lunch stop at dean & deluca, and then were on our way to the Met. we thought it would be a good day for an indoor activity, but by the time we got there, they had decided to close early, so we only had about an hour or so to see the museum. we checked out a few areas that interested us, plus the special exhibit on Egypt, and were on our way again. can’t wait to go back and explore more next time.

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then it was back to our hotel to regroup. by this time, most of the city had shut down – all museums, all broadway shows, and quite a few restaurants. we stopped by a newsstand to pick up some snacks in case we weren’t able to find dinner anywhere later that night. we relaxed at our hotel for awhile, and then got this bright idea that maybe everyone else assumed SNL was cancelled and that we should go because we would probably definitely get in. so we walked – well, basically skied – the mile over to rockefeller center and arrived just as the nice NBC man was announcing that the last standby tickets had been given out. oh well, we tried. we called around to see if any nearby bars/restaurants were open, and ended up at judge roy bean public house, where we had burgers and beers.

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and then came one of my favorite parts of the weekend. the mayor had issued a travel ban earlier in the afternoon, so there were no cars on the road, save for a few police cars and other first responders. we turned onto madison avenue to find tons of people walking in the streets, taking pictures, playing with their kids, having adult snowball fights, you name it. it was pretty magical, i gotta say.

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good night, Jonas! part two coming soon.

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2015.

becoming

if 2013 was a year of wildness (starting new jobs, buying a house, moving), and 2014 was a year of settledness (building stability in our work and home lives), then 2015 was most definitely a year of becoming.

2015 was a year of growth. growing into some beautiful new friendships and out of some others. the year where I finally embraced the value of quality over quantity in relationships, and the year where I experienced the freedom, but also heartbreak, that reality can sometimes bring. it was a year that required me to be a real grown-up in new ways – really hard ways – but ways that taught me a lot about myself.

2015 was the year of the marathon. in a time where running a marathon has seemingly become the new 5k, it’s sometimes hard to talk about running our first marathon as if it’s any kind of big deal. but the truth is, it’s a huge deal. more than anything else in 2015, training for and running my first marathon defined this year of my life. the marathon experience challenged me in every way – physically, mentally – and in the process, helped me fall in love with running all over again, and reaffirm my affinity for distance running. it’s an accomplishment I’m so proud of, and will remember always…and I can’t wait to do it all over again.

2015 was the year of the second car. (okay, in reality, it was only a few days of 2015…). if you’ve known us for a long time, then you probably know that with the exception of my senior year in college when we lived apart, kevin and i have shared a single car for the entirety of our relationship. what started as two broke grad students not being able to afford a second car eventually turned into just normal life, and save for a few #transitproblems here and there, we’ve learned to make it work, and figured we’d tackle the second car situation if/when it ever became a real issue. my time riding the bus (and occasionally bumming rides from friends) was incredibly humbling, and i’m thankful to have had that experience. due to a weird series of events over the past few months, coupled with the generosity of my parents, my family’s honda civic is now here in nebraska to stay. having a car (especially here in omaha) is such a ubiquitous thing, that it can be easy to take for granted, but the value of having another car isn’t lost on us one bit, and we’re grateful beyond words.

2015 was the year of the bar. last spring Kevin and I started meeting up at scriptown, a new brewery in the blackstone district. it was a short walk from my bus stop and the perfect place to grab a drink before heading home together. and somewhere in between the after-work beers and the weekend growler fills and bringing all of our friends in to try it out, too, it soon became our favorite place – our second home, a place where (nearly) everyone knows our name. this year, scriptown has been a place for us to celebrate good days and birthdays and anniversaries, and a place to wind down on the not-so-good days, too. we’ve always wanted a place like this – a place where we can be regulars at, and have real relationships with the bartenders and owners, and I’m happy to report we’ve definitely found it.

2015 was the year of the royals. alright, this one was probably more exciting and year-defining for Kevin than it was for me, but I have to admit, I had my fair share of fun cheering on this team to their first World Series since 1985. in 2015, I watched and listened to more baseball than I ever have in my entire life, and – yes, it shocks me, too – I didn’t even hate it. okay, so maybe having a giant crush on Eric Hosmer made the experience slightly more enjoyable :)

2015, like every year, was full of moments that I don’t want to forget. new half marathon, 10k, and 5k PRs for both Kevin and myself. seeing our amazing niece turn two. trips to California, Arizona, and Chicago, and the opportunity to visit with so many old friends. the four months we got to spend with my sister, while she lived with us here in Omaha this semester. and all the other everyday moments in between that make our life what it is right now – messy, beautiful, real. this year and every year, we have so much to be thankful for.

so cheers to a new year, to 2016 — I can’t wait to see what kind of year you’ll be.

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beer & bagel squatchy challenge

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Last weekend we participated in our first multi-race weekend: the Beer & Bagel Squatchy Challenge at Quarry Oaks Golf Course in Ashland, NE. This challenge consisted of a half(ish) marathon on Saturday followed by a 4-ish miler on Sunday. On hilly trails.

Having heard great things about Beer & Bagel in the past, we had started looking into doing the 4-miler a couple of weeks before the Chicago Marathon. We figured it would be a fun way to close out racing season, and even though trail races are more challenging than road races, 4 miles is a manageable distance. When we went to register, however, we discovered that they were also offering a halfish marathon distance, and that doing both races, or the “Squatchy Challenge,” qualified you for a special finisher’s medal. That was an easy choice. We like medals.

After Chicago I thought that I might have to skip out on these races thinking that they might be a bit too risky for my leg, but I’ve continued to take it fairly easy since the marathon and things seem to be healing up well (going purely off of feel here) so just as with Chicago and the Good Life Halfsy, I felt confident towing the starting line, taking it easy, and backing off if and when I felt necessary. I’m so happy that I was healthy enough to participate because this weekend of races turned out to be SO MUCH FUN.

SATURDAY (HALFISH MARATHON)
Ashland is about a 30-minute drive from our house, so we left around 7:15 for a 9:00am race time. Since this was the inaugural year of the halfish, the race field was pretty small (just over 200 runners), so we were able to park quickly and fairly close to the start line. We stayed in our car for a few extra minutes (it was chilly – just under 40 degrees), had our breakfast (mini bagel with peanut butter, and a banana), put on our arm warmers (old socks with the ends cut off), and then headed up to the start line area to hang out at around 8:20. One thing that I love about smaller races is that it’s usually a much calmer atmosphere. They had a few sets of corn hole/bags set up so we did that for a while, stretched a bit, and made our way over the start line a few minutes before 9:00am. We lined up near the front since the race was not chip timed (not that either of us were super concerned with time). And then we were off!

The course was 3 loops of about 4.3 miles, alternating directions every loop. We ran together for most of the first loop, and then I split off to complete the rest of the race by myself. (I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that I do not run well with others – at least in races). The course was really beautiful with lots of different terrain that kept it interesting (and challenging) – part paved road, part golf course/grass, part dirt trail, plus three creek crossings of varying difficulty including one that you needed a rope to get across. There weren’t many flat areas which meant you were either going uphill or downhill at pretty much all times – both really hard in different ways. I thought I would hate having to do three loops of the same thing, but since this wasn’t an area where I normally run, I never got bored and the alternating directions made it interesting (and Kevin and I got to pass and see each other a couple times). I didn’t really have a time goal in mind for two reasons: (1) even though I always want to put out a good effort during a race, I was mostly running this for fun, and (2) trails are a whole different ball game and I have no concept of what a “good” trail pace would be for myself. I tried to view these races as a way to celebrate the end of our racing season, break in our new trail shoes, and start getting more comfortable running on trails (we want to do more of it this winter). I finished in 2:19 and then waited for Kevin to come in (at 2:55) – instant PRs since this was our first trail half!

This was the Beer & Bagel run, after all, so after finishing we headed to the beer tent and were pleased to find several local craft beer options awaiting us! There were bagels, of course, but they were also grilling up burgers, so we opted for those instead. The post-race atmosphere was so fun – everyone brought chairs and blankets and set up camp to enjoy beers, food, and the awards ceremony. (Note to self to come more prepared next year). We hung out for awhile afterwards, took some photobooth pics, and headed home – after all, we had to do this all over again the next morning!

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SUNDAY (4-ISH MILER)

Sunday we left our house a bit earlier – around 6:45 for the 9:00 start – since we knew Sunday’s race was larger and didn’t want to have to park far away. We got a good parking spot and once again hung out in our car for a bit, ate breakfast, and then headed to the start area. We forgot chairs, but happened to have a blanket in our trunk so we found a sunny spot and set our blanket up so we’d have a place to hang out post-race. We found our friend Teresa just before the race and of course had to take a pre-race group selfie!

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Doing this course for the second time was much easier, since it was only one loop and because we knew what to expect. The course was almost identical to Saturday’s, with the exception of the last 1/3 of a mile where they slightly modified the finish. It was also A LOT more crowded and there were several bottleneck areas. Even though I wasn’t trying to sprint through this, I did want to try to run the whole time, but it was pretty much impossible because there were so many groups of walkers spread across the entire width of the trail. I don’t mind when people walk in races – I do, too – but race etiquette and common sense would tell you to stay single file and move to the right if you are going to go slower. It was a bit frustrating but I tried to run in the areas where I could remind myself this was just for fun, and now I know what to expect for next year. On Sunday, I also ran through the creek crossings instead of using the ropes/stones to get across – that was fun (and I definitely, literally got cold feet)! I finished the 4.2 (ish) mile course in just under 43 minutes, grabbed a beer, and stayed near the finish line to wait for Kevin and Teresa, who came in together at just under an hour. They grabbed beers and we took a post-race pic!

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We hung out after the race for quite a while – had more beers (when I went up for the second time, the guy insisted on giving me two – YOLO!), food (chili and bagels – totally hit the spot), and got our special Squatchy medals! For early November, the weather was amazing – chilly at the start both days, but warmed up to about 60 by the end of the races and was super sunny – perfect for being outside! Both races were very well organized, with simple packet pickup, a great t-shirt (“drinker with a running problem”), and an amazing race director, who personally thanked us for participating in both days of the race. I’m so glad it worked out for us to do these races, and I think they’ll definitely be a regular installment for us moving forward. I don’t think I could ever give up traditional road running and races, but we definitely want to incorporate more trails into our training to build strength and mix things up a bit. We’ve got some exciting stuff planned for 2016!

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2015 good life halfsy race recap

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThis past weekend we both ran half marathon #9: the Good Life Halfsy in Lincoln, NE. This was the second year for the Halfsy and after hearing from others how fun this race was last year, we decided to sign up waaaay back in March. Although we were really looking forward to this race and a weekend in Lincoln, it became kind of easy to forget about since we were so focused on marathon training throughout the summer and fall. So, it sort of snuck up on us and going into it we hadn’t done much running since our marathons two (Kevin) and three (Hollyanne) weeks ago.

SATURDAY/EXPO

Even though we only live about an hour from Lincoln, we decided to make a weekend out of it and head down early on Saturday morning and stay the night at the race hotel, the Holiday Inn Downtown. We arrived at the hotel right at noon, just as the expo (also in the hotel) was kicking off. We were able to check in early (always nice!) and head back downstairs to the expo. Packet pickup was simple and quick. They had an area for you to look up your bib number with sticky notes for you to write it down and give to the volunteers, who then gave you your race bag (which included a free Bulu Box)! There were a few other vendors set up, but overall a fairly small expo. In a second, attached room was a large booth selling official race gear. We went back to this booth a couple times throughout the day (and after the race on Sunday) because we couldn’t decide what we wanted. We both ended up getting a fun t-shirt and a hoodie (so comfy). We also grabbed a 13.1 Nebraska sticker for our car. They also had pint glasses for $10 that came with a drink ticket for the hotel bar or post-race party, so of course we couldn’t pass those up.

storyboard001storyboard004After stopping by the race gear booth we proceeded to a downstairs area to pick up our t-shirts – a long, sleeve tech shirt (purple for women, neon green for men) with thumb holes! Three cheers for a race shirt that I might actually wear!

There was a fun photo opp area so of course we stopped for a few selfies.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetOnce we finished up at the expo, we had an uneventful lunch while we watched the Huskers lose again. We then decided to stop by one of the local running stores in town, Lincoln Running Company; our race packet came with a Good Life Halfsy bracelet that got us discounts around town at local restaurants and shops, one of which was 20% a single item at LRC. We were in the market for some trail shoes so we thought we’d see if we could find some here. LRC had about 5 different trail shoe models for each of us to try on, and we both ended up with a new pair – I got the Mizuno Wave Hayate 2, and Kevin ended up with Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 3 – we’re all set for our trail races coming up this weekend!

We dropped our new shoes off at the hotel, and then walked a few blocks to a nearby Lincoln brewery that we hadn’t been to yet, Ploughshare Brewing Co. The place didn’t look like much from the outside but inside is a huge taproom with lots of fun different seating options, including a staircase to some upper-level seating! Having never been here before, we both decided to do a flight to taste several of their beers. We each got four different beers, and actually liked all eight that we tried, but especially liked the Oktoberfest and the Dandelion Saison!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAfter our flights, we headed back to the hotel to hang out and rest for a couple of hours before partaking in the hotel’s pre-race pasta dinner later in the evening. It was quite a spread – salad, breadsticks, steamed veggies, and a pasta bar with several kinds of noodles, sauces, and toppings! It wasn’t free, but we did get a discount (15% off) with our race bracelets, and the selection/taste was much better than a lot of the free pasta dinners that other races have.

We spent the rest of the evening watching the Royals game, and of course had to lay out our flatties for the morning! We were in bed by about 11:00pm.

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SUNDAY (Race Day!)

Thanks to daylight savings time and a 9:00AM race start, we didn’t have to get up too early. We woke up around 6:30, got ready, packed up our car, checked out of our room, and headed to the hotel breakfast buffet. We typically have a bagel with peanut butter and a banana for a pre-race breakfast, but we took advantage of the options and had bacon, eggs, potatoes, yogurt, and coffee.

The Good Life Halfsy is a point-to-point course, with shuttles offered from the finish area back to the start area after the race, so we had to get ourselves to the starting line. Since our hotel (and car) were near the finish area, we intended to get an Uber to the start so we wouldn’t have to deal with the shuttles afterwards. However, there were no Ubers to be found, so we decided to just drive ourselves. It was about a 15-20 minute drive to Seacrest Field from the hotel, and we were there by around 7:45.

For the next hour, we hung out with some other friends who were running as well, stretched, used the bathroom (the runner : port-a-potty ratio was great!), ate a banana, etc. It was a beautiful, unseasonably warm morning for November in Nebraska — it warmed up to about 75 degrees by the afternoon! At around 8:45, we started lining up by pace group, the national anthem played, and the race kicked off just after 9:00AM.

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Here’s a short race recap from each of us: 

K: As you all may know by now, I’ve spent nine half marathons chasing a time of sub-2:30. While I’ve set some PRs on a few of those attempts, I still could not seem to put together a race that would get me under 2:30. Coming into this race, since I was so focused on the Des Moines Marathon, I really had no expectations. It wasn’t until last week that I decided I would run around a 2:30 pace and just see what happened. I started off running with our friend Courtney, who was also attempting to run a 2:30 race. Here’s how it went down.  I ran a 9:59 pace for three miles. There was no need to run that fast, but it felt good. At about the 4 and a half point, Courtney told me to go ahead and she would run her own pace. I decided I would keep pushing to the halfway mark and see what happened. I knew if I could keep my pace under 11:00 minute miles I would have a shot at doing it. I came in to the halfway point at a 10:45 pace. I was pretty convinced at that point that, unless something went terribly wrong, I would be able to make it, but that I would still need to push it a little. As the race went on, the weather started heating up. I saw our friend Jeremy just past mile 7, and stopped for a Energy Singer. I started to chat for a minute and he made me keep running. It provided for a nice boost as I felt the energy zapping out of me. Every few miles there would also be cheer zones with lots of spectators, so that also helped. Just past mile 9, I saw our friend Vanessa who was coming back from a turn-around point, and then once I crossed the turn-around I saw Courtney was only a minute or so behind me, still looking strong. The last couple of miles got harder and harder, as my legs started to get more tired. During the last mile, I knew I had it in the bag, but my legs didn’t want to cooperate. I just kept pushing until we got to the final bridge, which was a killer! I slogged up the bridge (slow-jogged) and ran as fast as I could down into the finish! Final time of 2:26:32, beating my previous PR by SIX minutes!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetH: Going into this race, I was still somewhat in recovery from my pre-marathon stress reaction “injury,” so I was planning to take it easy for this race and possibly run with Kevin. I’m not competitive with very many things, but I am competitive with myself when it comes to running. I was feeling good and knew I could run a semi-fast race, so when we started lining up, I stood by the 1:50 pace group. I wasn’t necessarily trying to PR (current PR is 1:49:31), but thought I’d try to stay with/near the 1:50 group as long as possible. Being a pacer is a tough job, and I’m grateful to the runners who volunteer to do it, but I was a little frustrated because our group started out way too fast. The first two miles were supposed to be 8:48 and 8:33, and they were both closer to 8:20, so by the time the 8:15/8:20 miles came in the middle of the race, I was already starting to feel burnt out. I hung with the group until about mile 10.5, and then slowly started to drop back a bit, but was still able to see them ahead of me for most of the rest of the race. My Garmin had been spot on the whole way, but somehow ended up about 0.2 miles ahead at around mile 11, which was a little disheartening. The last mile was pretty tough for me – I didn’t get that second wind that I often do at the end of races, and I had to stop several times for walk breaks. I knew I wasn’t going to break 1:50, or even beat my second best time (1:50:20), so made a new goal of beating my Des Moines Half Marathon time from around this time last year (1:51:50). I tried to muster a bit of a sprint to the finish line (downhill = ouch), and crossed in 1:51:09, for my third best half marathon time! It’s easy for me to be disappointed in myself, but I have to remember that I can’t PR at every race and for being injured and not running and eating like crap for the last three weeks, I ran a really strong and respectable race.

POST-RACE

In the finisher chute area, we received our medal (that doubles as a bottle opener – I like this trend), and then had plenty of food/drink options available to us: water, gatorade, chocolate milk (favorite), granola bars, oranges, bananas, and Runza sandwiches (regional chain). A couple blocks away was the official post-race party in the Railyard area, where we could watch others finish, redeem our free beer, purchase race gear, hang out. We got our free beer, plus a donut from a shop in the Railyard, and rested our legs for awhile before heading over to catch a shuttle back to our car.

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Overall, a super fun race that I’m happy we participated in! Our only complaints were that there weren’t enough aid stations in the first half of the course, and that the post-race beer was hard to find (important!), so there wasn’t much to complain about. The race t-shirt, extra gear available for purchase, pre-race communication, and race day organization were all excellent, so we will definitely be back in 2016 to run our halfsies off!

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