Friday, April 30, 2010

Vigorous Writing is Concise

Gramercy Park is one of NYC's only "key parks." That means that access is restricted to the residents on the perimeter. And even those people have to follow a strict list of park rules.

I, personally, have always believed in getting right to the point. In 7th Grade, Ms. Mackel made us memorize this William Strunk saying: "Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence need not contain any unnecessary words for the same reason a machine no unnecessary parts..." That said, I'd like to assist Gramercy Park with their signage:

They can thank me later.

Heading to bed early tonight. Team APES is running in the Revlon 5k for Women tomorrow morning and I need to pick up the race bibs at 7am. Here's hoping for my 2nd race and 2nd win! Did y'all see my plaque for winning my age group last week at the biathlon? It arrived today. Just in case you missed the TwitPic:


Yeah. I'm still pretty excited! G'night, y'all!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

We didn't start the fire

After our early evening BRICK (Bike (7.5 miles), Run (4 miles), my legs feel like ICK), Paigie and I ran back to her apartment to clean ourselves up and get ready for Matt's fundraiser in Times Square. I hosed off in the kitchen sink (no pictures but it really was quite amusing) while Paigie hit the bathroom. Then she made a quick phone call and I dried my hair (that I washed in the sink). We frantically threw on some clothes and hustled out the door. I'd like to say that it was a record time but there was definitely some lolly gagging. We were, however, clearly oblivious to the outside world because when we opened her apartment door, we were greeted by building management and the fire department (several firemen covered head to toe in black soot and dripping wet). They may or may not have evacuated the whole building, we didn't hear anything. But when we asked what happened, they told us that there was a fire on the roof deck (directly above Paigie's apartment) but not to worry, it was now contained. So we did what any lovely ladies would do and hopped in the elevator with the hot firemen (actually, the ones we got were old and pudgy but we figured they'd have friends waiting downstairs). And boy were we right. Look what we found:

It was slightly amusing though- when we got off the elevator with Tubby and Chunky (the firemen), we were greeted by all of the other residents of the building who were waiting downstairs (you know, the ones who got the memo that the building was on fire and they should leave). It looked like WE were the culprits and WE were being rescued and escorted out. We got dirty looks, stares and glares, even as we kept yelling, "WE DIDN'T DO IT." Then we walked up the block to the subway, humming Billy Joel quietly to ourselves, "We didn't start the fire, it was always burning since the world's been turning..."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

MMMBoppin' through Central Park

Gramercy Park is boppin' this week with a visit from teen sensation Hanson. Although if I'm no longer a teen then neither are they. When I passed by there early tonight, there were teenyboppers lined up down the street and around the block. 10+ years ago, I could totally see myself right there with them.

While the next generation danced the night away in the theatre, I joined some hardcore athletes in Central Park for a complimentary bootcamp session with a budding instructor. He had us running and jumping, doing squats and push-ups and lunging through the park. We ended with a barefoot session in the sand volleyball court where we ran suicides (also known as ladders?) and nearly froze our toes. The workout was intense. But you know what made it bad? I couldn't get MMMBop out of my head the whole time! Mmmbop, ba dupa dop, ba dup bop, ba duba dop. STOP!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Goodnight Moon

Today is Tuesday. And that means it's a Group Training Session and run in Central Park. Tonight's was a killer. I don't know if it was the soreness from Sunday's biathlon, general fatigue or the fact that tonight's focus was HILLS. We ran Cat Hill three times over and then trekked across the park to run Strawberry Hill several times. Angel and I bailed about 5 minutes early but waited for the rest of the team for the group stretch. We must have run a total of 5 miles. At least Saturday's 5k will feel like a stroll in the park!

After the training session, we stepped out of the Time Warner Center and saw a ton of people standing on the sidewalk. We looked up and saw what everyone was starting at:

Yup. That's the moon. Hanging out between the buildings on the East Side of Manhattan. It was huge. And bright. And low. One of the best moons that I've seen in NYC. Everyone had their cameras (well, cell phones) out. It's interesting how something as simple as the moon can make even the most jaded New Yorkers stop in their tracks and stare.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I'd like a bathroom, please

My body isn't as sore today as I thought it was going to be. I woke up at the crack of dawn (7am, without an alarm clock) and did a quick assessment before attempting to get out of bed. Everything felt ok, so I got up and moved around. A little achy in the legs but nothing intolerable. I went about my day, taking it easy and avoiding strenuous activity. I headed to Brooklyn tonight for the swim practice but found that my legs were super annoyed when I tried to walk up and down the subway stairs. So when I got to Long Island University, I decided to take the elevator down to get to the pool in the basement. In the three months we've been training, I've never been in the elevator before. LIU is apparently out of rooms/corridors/auditoriums/buildings, give to big donors.

One day, far in the future, when I make a large donation to NYU, and they are similarly out of space that can be dedicated to SEL, I'd like a bathroom. A nice one. Large stalls. Hooks on the back of the doors for bags and coats. Thick hand towels. Maybe even a lady handing out mints and hairspray. I will stipulate that money from my donation be set aside to pay her salary (and benefits!) for many years in the future...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

SEL vs. Mother Nature: Battle of the Bronx Biathlon

After two weeks of skipping/modifying my training regimen due to ridiculously cold weather and freezing rain, Mother Nature tried to pay me back by sending a monsoon on the morning of the Bronx Biathlon. I woke up just before my alarm went off this morning at 4:45am and went right to the window. Besides being pitch black, it was also raining. Maybe raining isn't the right word. Pouring. Coming down cats and dogs. I had two choices: tiptoe into my guest room where Paigie was sleeping, turn off her alarm and go back to bed. Or push through my own hesitations, help Paige get through hers and get us to the subway. I went with Choice #2 and we packed up and made it to the subway in record time. We hopped off at 96th Street, met up with Angel and continued uptown to the Bronx.

We arrived in the Bronx around 6:30 and biked the three miles to the starting block at Orchard Beach. There were three little tents set up and some cones. We set our bikes up in the transition area and then got our supplies: bib, bike number and t-shirts. Just walking to and from the registration area, we had to wade through ankle-deep puddles and were soaked all the way up to our knees. We killed some time sitting in a friend's car, put on our electronic monitoring devices (aka timing chips) and took our places in the starting block.

The three of us started together. Angel quickly pulled ahead, Paigie dropped back and I was sandwiched between them. The first leg was a 3 mile run around the parking lot and along the Orchard Beach boardwalk. We ran through the pouring rain and deep puddles.

Yup, that's the running path. NOT part of the ocean. From the boardwalk, we ran back to the transition area, grabbed our bikes and started the 20 mile ride along the Hutchinson River Parkway. We biked back to the transition area, parked and started off on another 3 mile run around the parking lot to the boardwalk and back. I was able to gain some momentum and sprint the last 1/4 mile.

Click here for a map of the course. On the top left, click "Play."

Here I am crossing the finish like with my new friend whose name I've already forgotten. He's 60-some years-old and decided last year that he wanted to start racing. And below that, is me and my friend Angel.

I was the last female to finish but the first place finisher for the Womens 25-29 group. OK, fine. The ONLY finisher for that age group. And Paigie was the first place (only) finisher for the Womens 18-24 age group. Results are here.

We couldn't even begin to fathom riding our bikes back to the train station so I approached the nearest person with a pick-up truck and begged him to give us and our bikes a ride. Unfortunately, hitchhiking is illegal and he was an off-duty cop. Fortunately for us, he just laughed about it. The train ride back to Manhattan was the worst part of the day. We were soaked to the bone, the AC was on high and the train was getting crowded. But we put on our game faces and finished strong.

So, Mother Nature, you may have halted my training efforts with your behavior earlier this spring but today I completed the Bronx Biathlon. I won this battle.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

'Twas the night before the Biathlon

I got in a leisurely work-out this morning. A nice, relaxing ride around Central Park including a few drills and a winning confrontation with Harlem Hill. I should have done at least a short run after that but I couldn't muster the energy. I'm still feeling the residual effects of being sick all week. Now it's nearly 11pm and I should have been asleep hours ago but the day just got away from me. Paige and I need to be up at 4:45am and out of the house by 5:00 to meet Angel at 96th Street at 6:00 and arrive in the Bronx by 6:30. Then we'll run a bit, bike a bit more, have another short run and head back downtown. I'm hopeful that there will be some of this after the race:

Come on, y'all didn't think there would be a Saturday post without a picture of post-training breakfast, did you?

Friday, April 23, 2010

A single or a double cone?

I was lounging on a friend's couch tonight (recovering from this cold in different scenery) and enjoying the breeze through the open window. No, that's a lie. I was begging them to close the window because there was such a ruckus outside that I couldn't hear the movie. Someone got up to close it and realized that the commotion was actually a fire in the building across the street. So we decided that we should go outside and try to snag ourselves some firemen. While we were putting on our shoes and doing some primping, the firetrucks pulled away. They obviously put the fire out or decided it was a false alarm. And then the real distraction started. It was feint at first, but got louder and louder and LOUDER. At the same time, we looked up and yelled ICE CREAM TRUCK! The girls finished putting their shoes on while I screamed out the window at the driver, "WE'RE COMING." He either didn't hear or ignored me because after we ran down the steps and out the door, all we could see was his taillights down the street. Well, dammit, I wanted my ice cream so I chased after him, leaving the girls in my wake. I finally caught up to him and pounded on the rear of the truck and he stopped. When the girls caught up, we ordered our ice cream. Always the outspoken one, I asked if I could see what the truck looked like from the inside. Apparently the driver had never been asked that question because he gave me the blankest look ever. After he got over his shock, he said one minute (or gave the "1 minute" hand motion), disappeared to straighten things up a bit (candy wrappers? porn? Dunkin Donuts boxes?), and then opened the driver's side door and invited me in. It was quite spacious inside; I mean, I wouldn't want to prepare a four-course meal in there but it's definitely adequate for some dessert prep. Come to think of it, it wasn't that much smaller than my kitchen. But not nearly as beautifully decorated!

And here I am, serving the girls their ice cream. Unfortunately, they were bad tippers. If that were my truck, I wouldn't stop for them again!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

T-minus 56 hours

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, when most of you are just getting into bed after your Saturday night festivities have ended, Paigie and I will be lining up for our first biathlon. Actually, it will be my first organized race of any kind since my Romans Run days. And I think those ended circa 1990. The race is a 3 mile run, followed by a 20 mile bike ride and another 3 mile run. I've never done an organized bike race so I'm not sure what to expect other than a road full of bikers. I'm a bit more comfortable with the running bit given that we've been training and running in a group for several months now. My plan is to let everyone else rush off out of the starting block and then keep myself comfortably in a 8-9 minute mile pack. This race will be a great opportunity for us to learn about the bike-t0-run transition which is not something we've experienced yet. Suffice it to say, I'm a bit nervous but I'll be glad to get the jitters out of my system before Tri-Day.

We didn't bike today as planned because someone (ahem, PKS) was a bit too hungover from last night's CPK extravaganza and I'm still feeling a bit under the weather. I'm hoping to get a ride or a run in tomorrow but if not, there's a GTS on Saturday morning that I plan on attending to do some last minute preparations for Sunday's biathlon. Please cross your fingers that this monstrous cold of mine moves on before then because I don't have enough storage space on my bike for a pack of tissues!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Team APES (Angel, Paige, Erinn, Susan) had our fundraising dinner tonight at California Pizza Kitchen. It was a smashing success. Tons of friends showed up and packed the back of the restaurant. We ate, we drank, we laughed and we celebrated the amazing work that the LLS funds. Many thanks to all who came!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Stationary Bike and Minus Eight Inches

Good guesses, everybody! I did get my hair cut! About 8 inches, more in some places. The picture below is deceiving because I'm a little hunched over. It's just about at my shoulders. At first I found Ruben (Grace, my ex-haircutter's, protege) to be a bit scissor happy. But after getting over my initial shock at my new short coif, I'm pretty satisfied. And it's only hair. Knowing my head, it will grow back within the week and I'll be begging for a trim.

**Disclaimer: the picture above was taken on a stationary motorcycle. The keys were not in the ignition, Paige's foot was on the ground to balance us, and the owner was taking the picture. No pedestrians, riders, bikes or innocent bystanders were hurt during the taking of this picture. The helmet was modeled on the street but removed for the purpose of the picture and the picture only. The bike did not move while we were on it. @PaigeSuozzi and I were only trying it out. It's a hot bike. But that's all the involvement we want.

Monday, April 19, 2010

34th Street/Herald Square

Erinn and I got on the subway tonight to head to swim practice in Brooklyn. I don't even remember what we were talking about but we were deep in conversation when all of a sudden, the doors opened and the conductor announced, "This is 34th Street, Herald Square. Transfer is available to the N, R, W, B, D, F and V trains. Connection is available to Penn Station."

"Wow," I thought to myself, "this train is moving quickly. We're going to make it to swimming in no time!" And then it dawned on me. Yes, the train was moving very quickly but in the WRONG DIRECTION. In our excitement to get on the train, we got on the wrong train. So we hopped off the uptown train, went up stairs, crossed the bridge and down the stairs to the downtown platform. We retraced our steps back downtown and continued on our way to Brooklyn. And we made it to swim practice with time to spare (as we always do).

Moral of the story: When taking the subway, always allow time for delays, diversions and stupidity.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The cause of suchophobia

As seen in Barnes and Noble @ Union Square.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

It's Street Fair season, y'all!

Anyone who knows SEL knows that spring/summer/fall = street fair mania! NYC has several street fairs each Saturday and Sunday on various avenues throughout the city. Every street fair sells the same junk. Junk I don't need and never buy. But there's just something fun about walking the fairs, looking in the booths, sampling the treats, and checking out the people. Perhaps it's the bright colors everywhere. Or trying to guess which luxury items fell off the back of a truck and which are fakes. Maybe it's the excitement of walking in the street without the possibility of getting hit by a car. I think that one of the reasons that I hate winter so much is that there aren't any street fairs. They end in early November and are on hiatus straight through early April.

Walking home from a friend's house this afternoon, I saw the first street fair of 2010!

I was in a little bit of a hurry and didn't get to peruse the stalls but here's my guess as to what they were selling:
  • Pashminas in a plethora of colors (5 for $20 or $5/each).
  • Knock off Prada, Louis and Chanel bags (I mean, designer replicas)
  • Funnel cakes (as pictured above), fried Oreos, Mozzarepas, snow cones and Kettle Corn
  • Clothing from Victoria's Secret, the Limited and Express that is also questionable in its authenticity
  • "Interesting small items" (that's usually manicure and dental supplies)
  • Sunglasses and jewelry
  • Various bedding accessories including sheets and duvets that may or may not be bedbug ridden (who buys sheets on the street?) but are the same brands that you find at Bed Bath and Freakin' Beyond
Now that I know it's officially street fair season, I'll start planning my weekend excursions around the blocked off avenues. Click here for a 2010 NYC Street Fair calendar.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pigs on Parade?

Remember the CowParades? They were in Chicago during the summer of 1999. And then they came to New York in 2000 and then I ran into them in Brussels 2003. I loved those things.

Lo and behold, guess who I found in the Financial District, just hanging around on Wall Street?

It was nice to see her. She brought back such good memories of the full exhibits that I got to see in all three cities. I wish they'd do it again. Or something like that. Maybe pigs. Now that would be fun. Maybe I should organize it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A different kind of precious cargo

Some people push their babies around all day. And some people push their "babies" around. I, for now, am one of the latter.

Her name is Stella, and yes, I'm very proud.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Half a player

I was walking home tonight through Central Park. Spring softball is in full swing.

Can you zoom in on the picture to see the guy dead center? I guess that's the number assigned to pint size players.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Are neon orange palm trees indigenous to Manhattan?

Don't know what's stranger: a neon orange palm tree or a palm tree in the middle of the city.

Training Update
Had a Group Training Session (GTS) in Central Park tonight. We started at Columbus Circle and ran uptown for 20 minutes with a minute of squats every four minutes. Coach Scott equated running after squats to that scene in Forrest Gump when he starts running with the braces on his legs and then 30 seconds into his sprint, the braces go flying off and he's running normally. And that's exactly what it feels like to run after a full minute of really deep squats. The legs burn in non-existent places for about 30 seconds and then, all of a sudden, they're ready to go again. For 3.5 minutes. Until it's time for the next set of squats. We probably ran about 4 miles total, maybe a little less. I'm fairly certain I'll be super sore tomorrow morning, but a good, "I've accomplished a lot" kind of sore.

Off to bed now, catch y'all on the flip side!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dead bodies (or what SEL didn't see today)

We had our first timed quarter mile swim tonight and I'm pleased to say it was a success for three reasons.
  1. I survived
  2. I finished in a timely manner
  3. I didn't see any dead bodies (ok, this was in the pool but I was practicing for the Hudson by attempting the underwater portion with my eyes closed. That's a difficult feat. Breath, open eyes, look around, close eyes, head back under. Stroke and repeat.)
On the way there, I did see this couple (who shall remain faceless). And I'm pretty sure that somewhere, Bozo the Clown and Dorothy are looking for their clothes.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I see London, I see France...

I spent the afternoon in Central Park with a gaggle of gal pals. We chowed on a great buffet, (stealthily) drank a bit of (secret) beer and did some quality people-watching. We saw these really cute little kids flying a kite. Unfortunately it wasn't very windy. So really was just saw these really like little kids running around pulling a plastic square on a string. We saw a really cute little guy playing catch with his (really cute, tall) dad. Unfortunately, we saw Dad wearing a wedding ring. And then we also saw the not-so-cute...

Unfortunately, you can't tell from this angle, but this bride was wearing full blue jeans under her dress. We're not sure why.

And, unfortunately, as you can tell in the picture below, this woman was wearing very little under her short skirt. We're not quite sure why she would choose to sit like this.

And if the people watching was this good in April, just imagine what August will bring! Until tomorrow...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Bitterly Cold Bike Ride

I left my house at 7:15am this morning to ride up to Central Park for our Saturday GTS (group training session). We stood around in the park while Coach Jay taught us to use our gears/brakes/hand pumps (collectively referred to as bike decorations by me and Paige). Finally, Erinn (thank goodness for her dry wit) asked if we'd be riding our bikes today. He then let us loose in the park. We did one lower loop, lost Paige, found Paige and then Angel made the executive decision that it was just too cold. So went to Cafe Viand for pancakes. It was entirely too cold this morning to be biking; I was actually worried about my fingers and nose. Everything else was covered. We got to breakfast and checked the temperature:

No wonder we were so cold!! It wasn't even 45 degrees out. I refuse to go out and buy cold weather biking gear. Unless this is going to the the year that spring never comes. Hard to believe since we hit 92 degrees on Wednesday.