June 10, 2015

New York City Part II {My NYC Birthday}

If you missed Part I of my NYC recap, you can find that here.

Our third day in New York (May 6), also happened to be my 32nd birthday! I never in a million years imagined that I would ever spend a birthday in New York, but it happened and it was pretty awesome! Thanks to Jim, my mom, my sister, and all of Karen's family for making this trip happen for us!

We decided we didn't want to waste the day, so we registered for a core Barre class at 9:30 in the morning. That way we knew we wouldn't opt to sleep in. The Barre class was killer! But the instructor was super nice and welcoming, and even though we felt like fish out of water (um, hello room full of young, skinny women), it was a great start to our day. Everyone in the class even received a free gift from a company called Sweaty Betty - a reusable water bottle and a pair of grip barre socks!

Exhale NYC core Barre class post Barre class Sweaty Betty swag 

After the class, we grabbed some coffee at Starbucks and headed back to the apartment to enjoy our drinks on the rooftop patio before freshening up for the rest of the day. I love rooftop patios and the one at Graham's apartment was fantastic. I only wish we had spent more time up on it during our visit!

NYC rooftop patio view NYC rooftop patio view

Once showered and dressed, we headed out to find a place to get manicures and pedicures. It doesn't take long to pass a salon in New York offering just that! For $30, we got our fingers and toes done! We grabbed another coffee after that (what a treat to drink hot coffee whenever we wanted without interruption!), and then went back to the apartment to relax and change before our plans for the evening.

We only ended up seeing one Broadway show during our trip, but we couldn't have seen a better one! Graham was kind enough to gift us tickets (Thanks Graham!!) to The Book of Mormon, and oh man, what a show! We laughed so hard, we cried, and our seats were amazing! Honestly, we could have seen any show and probably enjoyed it as Karen and I both love live theatre, but The Book of Mormon was fantastic. I'd see it again in a heartbeat. It's not a show for everyone though, and you have to have a sense of humour and an open mind as there's a lot of profanity and inappropriateness, but if you're ok with that, then you'll probably enjoy the show.

Broadway NYC Book of Mormon Inside Eugene O'Neill theatre Eugene O'Neill theatre The Book of Mormon NYC The Book of Mormon NYC

After the show, we walked over to Times Square. On the way, we passed a Baked by Melissa and grabbed a half dozen of mini cupcakes because you have to have cake on your birthday! It's so surreal to see these places you've seen on TV and in movies a million times in person. I was expecting Times Square to be a lot bigger and was surprised by how small the little grand stand seating area was. The buildings covered in big, bright screens reminded me a lot of Vegas. We enjoyed our cupcakes (which were delicious, but I easily could have eaten a dozen just on my own!) in Times Square, taking in the energy all around us.

Baked by Melissa Times Square NYC Times Square NYC Times Square NYC Times Square NYC

Eventually we started walking again until we found somewhere not too busy to get dinner at. We ended up at an Irish Pub where I got a burger and fries and Karen got some type of meat pie. We were famished! We also split a bottle of wine, chatted with some other friendly tourists, and then made our way home on the subway somewhere around one in the morning.

Riding the NYC Subway Riding the NYC Subway

It was the perfect birthday, and getting to spend the whole day with my best friend in New York City was the icing on the cake! It's a birthday I will never forget, and definitely made turning another year older that much easier!

Stay tuned...Part III coming up next! 

June 09, 2015

New York City Part I

Hello out there! How have I been home from my New York trip for a week and a half already?! a whole month?! It's funny, because before we left, Karen and I both thought we'd have quite a bit of down time while in New York. Yes, we were going to New York, and yes there is so much to see and do there, but a bit of the trip was also just about getting away, spending time together and relaxing without having any parental responsibilities. HELLO no babies crying in the middle of the night!!, although we both often thought we heard crying in the middle of the night! We also had to be home periodically during the day to take out her brother's dog that we were dog-sitting. But despite all this, our days were jam-packed and when we finally settled in for the evening, we were too exhausted to do much more than watch Parenthood on Netflix (yay for American Netflix!). You guys, I barely even read while I was gone! I took three books with me and I got about 3/4 of a way through one. But I have no regrets! It just means I didn't blog about our trip in real time like I had originally planned.

So! I'm breaking my week long trip to NYC into four parts just to keep the length of each post down. This post will cover the first two days we were there. Enjoy!

The day we left, we had to be at the airport around 5:30am! Which means Karen's parents picked my up at 4:45am. Which also means I got exactly 2 hours of sleep that night because 1) I was up till one in the morning packing, and 2) I was so worried I would sleep through my alarm that I had a hard time falling asleep. I woke up around 4am, quickly got dressed and snuck into Sully's room so I could dream-feed him and kiss him goodbye. There was a very, very good chance that that would be my last time nursing him.

Tim Horton's pre-flight coffee Karen and Brie do New York

Once we got to the airport and made it through security (Karen may or may not have been flagged and search) we grabbed ourselves some coffee and breakfast sandwiches. The first plane to Toronto was pretty empty, and after being asked by another passenger to "keep our voices down" (seriously!), we moved to the back of the plane where we each got a row to ourselves to stretch out on. The flight from Toronto to New York was also quite empty, and only a short one hour flight. We both felt a little queasy from that flight which didn't help our motion sickness on the craziest cab ride I have ever taken. Cab drivers in New York are no joke! It's just as insane out there as they show on TV. But we survived, making it to her brother, Graham's apartment around 6pm.

NYC cab ride

Karen's brother's apartment is right across the street from Trader Joe's! This is my all-time favourite store in the US and so we wasted no time on heading over there to stock up on some groceries for the week. I've been to several different Trader Joe's in the past, but I have never been to such a busy one. The checkout lines wrapped around the store! They even hire people to stand with signs saying "line starts here" and "middle of line". Crazy! The line's move fast though and we were out of there pretty quickly.

Trader Joe's Chelsea NYC
Trader Joe's score!

We didn't venture far that night, and I apparently took no photos that evening. We met up with one of Graham's friends, who also happens to live in the same building, and walked the dogs to Madison Square Park where there is a little fenced off dog park.

We headed to bed early so that we would be well-rested for our first real day in NYC. Tuesday morning we had tickets to a taping of The View, but you still have to arrive at a certain time and line-up before you are guaranteed a seat since they hand out more tickets than they have seats. Luckily we made it in, where we were given free snacks and apple juice. The guest-host was Raven Symone (remember her from That's So Raven?! No? Am I dating myself?) and the guests were football star turned author and reality-show star, Deion Sanders, and chef Steve Martorano. Neither of us are huge fans of The View, but we wanted to go to at least one taping of a talk-show and I'm so glad we went! It's really cool to see how they tape a show (this one isn't taped live and in fact, they do two tapings a day!).

Karen and Brie do New York outside ABC Studios taping of The View taping of The View 

We were there for about an hour and on the way out we got a free cookbook and free tickets to a Dangerfield's comedy club for that night. Since the studio was about half a block away from Central Park, we wandered over just to peek around, but headed back shortly after to change and take the dog out. We also popped into a Barre/Yoga studio near the apartment and bought a weekly pass to try out some classes. 

Core Fusion Flatiron district NYC 

We went to Dangerfield's that evening for 8 pm and after we got off the Subway and walked the rest of the way, something tripped me on the sidewalk. As I was tripping, I realized that something had run over my barefoot (I had on flats), and saw a rat wiggle under a gate as it ran off!! I have never shrieked and jumped up and down in public like that before. It was the most horrifying thing I think I have experienced! It still makes me shudder to think about it! We also walked by this clinic and found it way too funny!

Karen Horney Clinic NYC

We had fun at the comedy club, nobody too noteworthy, but we laughed and enjoyed ourselves. We tried to get to bed early-ish again that night as we had a 9:30am Barre class booked for the next day - which also happened to be my birthday! But we'll save my birthday in New York for the next post!

June 05, 2015

The Books I've Been Reading {3}

April was a fantastic month for reading - I read 6 books that month! I'm not sure I've ever read that many in one month before. And then May happened. What a crazy month May was - I went to New York, I ran a 10K and we made our final move to Calgary. Very little reading was accomplished - 2 whole books to be exact, but any book is better than zero books in my mind. Here's a short blurb on each of the 8 books I've read recently.

The Books I've Been Reading

Doppler by Erlend Loe: A crazy story about a man named Doppler who abandons his life to live in the woods with a moose calf. I didn't get this book. At all. Blame it on the mommy-brain, blame it on the blonde hair, I don't care, Doppler was a douche-bag and I couldn't see past his mid-life crisis and childish ways to see the humour in this one.

The Bear by Claire Cameron: Written from a 6-year old's perspective, this is a harrowing story about two young kids who must fend for themselves in the woods after their parents are attacked and killed by a bear. An emotional read that will make you want to hug every 6 year old kid you see.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight: Told from alternating view points of (deceased) teenager Amelia, and her mother Kate, this is a story about everything that is wrong with social media, smart phones and teenagers of today. Suspenseful and even horrifying at times, this one kept me flipping pages well into the night.

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie: A book club pick and not something I would normally pick-up on my own. About a one-handed, young prince named Yarvi, who has been wronged, and will survive just about anything to get revenge. The perfect amount of fantasy for me - not too long, not too much detail and not a bazillion characters.

Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden: The story of the one of the few people born in a Korean political prison who not only escaped, but survived to tell his story. Eye-opening, horrifying, and unbelievable at times, sometimes the truth is tough to stomach. Unfortunately, this read too much like a history lesson and less like a biography.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty: Loved, loved, loved this book. Alice has come-to after hitting her head at the gym, and remembers nothing of the past 10 years. She's 29, not 39, has three kids and is getting a divorce. An utterly delightful read, both funny and insightful, Alice must piece together her lost years and decide what's truly important to her, and what's worth fighting for.

This One is Mine by Maria Semple: The lesser known (first) novel by Maria Semple, author of Where'd You Go Bernadette. I wanted to love this one just as much as Bernadette, but I couldn't. It was dull, one-dimensional and full of characters I didn't like, and not in the "I love to hate you" kind of way, but in the "you're rich, utterly boring and a jackass" kind of way.

Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham: The only book I read while in New York, which was fitting seeing as how this is the story of a young woman, trying to make it as an actress in NYC circa 1995. It was funny, witty, and just a pleasure to read. The throw back to living in a time where there were no cell-phones and no internet added a welcome dimension to the story. A must read for any Lauren Graham fan!

Any good books lined up for the summer? What's been your best read lately? I'm always looking for new book recommendations! 

June 04, 2015

Calgary Marathon: Jugo Juice 10K Race Recap

I know, I know, where are the New York trip posts, you're probably wondering?! They're coming, I promise! Trying to recap all that went on in that trip is a way harder than I thought it would be! Come back next week and I'll have them ready :)

Last Sunday, I ran my first 10K race, not only post baby, but in 5 years! When I first signed up for the Calgary Marathon 10K, I was super motivated to train for this run. But, of course, life got in the way and my training took a back seat. I seriously considered moving down to the 5K, and had it not been for all the other awesome women running in the Calgary Marathon, I might have backed out of running completely. Luckily, Leigh, Becky and Lindsey convinced me to just go for it and that worse case scenario, I'd end up walking a lot of the way. 

The day before the race, I met up with Leigh and Becky for lunch at Famoso (blogger fail - no photos were taken!), and to discuss race day plans - what time to meet, what to wear, music or no music, etc. You know, typical runners talk, or so I assume - I'm no pro at this race thing. Then I headed over to the race expo to pick up my bib and race package. The expo was pretty quiet by this time, but it really hit me while I was there, just how exciting and big this run was going to be. Originally I was nervous about navigating my way to the race early Sunday morning, but luckily Becky and I were able to co-ordinate our c-train times and caught the same train to the grounds. 

Amazingly, Saturday night I got to bed around 10pm and it didn't take me too long to fall asleep. I set my alarm for a few different wake up times, and had all my clothes laid out for me for the morning. As luck would have it, Sully woke up around 12:30am and would not go back to sleep. Jim went to tend to him, but I could not fall back asleep. He kept us up till almost 2 am at which point he finally fell asleep in our bed. Two hours later I woke up in a panic thinking I had slept in. I had horrible dreams that night about sleeping in as well, so when it was finally time to get up at 5am, I actually welcomed it! Surprisingly, I felt quite rested - yay for race day adrenaline! 

race day attire

I got dressed, ate two pieces of peanut butter on toast and then drove to the train station. It was pretty neat how packed the train was with runners at 6 in the morning on a Sunday! Becky got on my train a few stops after me and we arrived at the packed grounds around 6:20am where we met up with Leigh. We had just missed the blogger meet-up for a photo op as most of those girls were running the half marathon which started at 6:30am. We tried to find them at the starting line, but no such luck! There were about 15,000 people running that day!

starting line starting line

The start line for the marathon, half and ultra was packed and it was crazy how long it took everyone to finally cross the start line. We met up with Leigh, took our pre-race photo, checked our bags, finished our water, and used the porta-potty's one last time before lining up for the 10K which started at 7. I was still feeling pretty unprepared and it really hadn't hit me yet that I was going to have to start running in a few minutes. I told Becky that I was going to follow her lead with run/walks, but that she did not have to adjust her pace for me.

pre-race photo
Becky, Leigh and Me

Becky and I ran the first few kilometres together, taking one walk break around kilometre 3. Around kilometre 4 I knew I needed to try and keep running without walk breaks to keep up my momentum. I was feel so great in those first 4 kilometres. Nothing hurt and all the elements were in my favour - not too cold and not too hot! After I hit 4K I told myself I couldn't walk until I hit 5K. Kilometre 5 came quickly so I said keep running until 6K. I felt like the kilometres were passing so quickly (which usually isn't the case when I'm running). My fear of not being able to finish the race strong went out the window. I was pretty confident by kilometre 7 that I could finish by 1:15 no problem, and 1:10 if I pushed myself. 

The only times I slowed down was at the next two water stations, but just long enough to grab a water and drink it. The 1:10 pace bunny was within sight in front of me and I did my best to keep up. When I hit 8K, I planned to keep my pace till 9K and then I would give it my all to make up for some lost time. Somewhere between kilometre 8 and 9 I passed the 1:10 pace bunny and I was feeling pretty good! But then kilometre 9 came and it was the toughest one - a steep incline at the beginning of it really slowed me down and I got a bad stitch in my side. I tried to regulate my breathing and massage it out and it eventually did go away, but I wasn't able to sprint the last half kilometre to the finish line like I was hoping to.

race photos

That last half kilometre was so windy and loopy that I thought the finish line was never going to come! When it was finally in sight I could feel my heart swell with pride and a huge smile form on my face. I had done it - I had run 10K, I gave it all I had and I was pretty damn pleased with my results! I crossed the finish line at 1:11:27, but knew my actual time was a little bit less. I was shocked and pumped! I managed to stay ahead of the pace bunny by just enough! And considering that my previous and only 10K (that I actually trained for) time was 1:08:17, I couldn't be happier! 

TIME: 1:09:12
OVERALL: 1868/2899
GENDER: 1052/1858
AGE GROUP: 214/329

post-race selfie 
post-race photo post-race photo
10K race stats 

Becky and I met up at the finish line and had about a million photos taken of us together! Seriously, my race photo proofs are hilarious - there's about 5 photos of Becky and I to every one photo of just me, haha! Then we went and found Leigh, had our after-race photo taken and then we met up with Jen and Kaella who both ran the half marathon. It was great to finally meet those two!

post-race group photo
Becky, Jen, Me, Kaella, Leigh & Amelia

We hung around the grounds for a bit and watched Kaella run the kids kilometre dash with her son London. It was the cutest thing ever and I can't wait until I can do something like that with Sully! Right before heading home, we also quickly met Laura who was running the 5K. What a great day for finally meeting some awesome Alberta bloggers! 

post-race group photo

I've had a few days now to reflect on my run. Beforehand, I was so doubtful of my ability to run the 10K. I knew that physically, I could manage it, but mentally, I wasn't so sure. So much of running is a mental challenge for me. Running this race reminded me how much more fun it is to run with friends and to run in a race setting. The energy a race this size gives off does wonders for your motivation! Becky commented after the race that I didn't need her out there after all, but she's wrong - I DID need her. She gave me the confidence to run the race in the first place and she helped me start out strong and kept me at a pace that didn't have me burning out in the first few kilometres. I wish we lived in the same city - she'd be a perfect running buddy for me! 

I totally get now why running races is addictive - I already want to sign up for another 10K! I know I can easily beat my PR from 5 years ago! Calgary Marathon - see you next year!