Country Living

I think “adulting” is a silly concept, but even I’ll admit I’ve done a lot of really grown up things these past 12 months. I got engaged. I bought renters insurance. I learned de-scaling a coffee maker is a thing and I did it — once — but hey, it’s a start.

And yesterday, I did the most adult thing I could possibly imagine: my fiancé and I bought a house.



The place, a two-bedroom charmer in the Hudson Valley, is everything we’d been looking for: close enough to a train that we could in theory commute to work, small enough that renovations hopefully won’t cost an arm and a leg, old enough that Martin Van Buren — the eighth president of the United States for you non-American readers  — could have popped in for a cup of tea during the final days of his term. (I didn’t say it was a new house.)  We closed Friday afternoon, treated ourselves to a diner dinner and a grocery store run (my Friday nights as a 30 year old > my Friday nights as a 20 year old, just saying), and then passed out on an air mattress in what will eventually be our dining room.

And today, we set about getting to know our new community. Now, some people would do that by window shopping along the main street (which we’ll do), or by exploring the historical sites (which we’ll do) or by frequenting the neighborhood bar (which we’ll definitely do.) But for those of you who like me never go anywhere without your running shoes, we know the very best way to explore a new city is to get out there on foot. So pouring rain and all, I laced up this morning and hit the pavement to get to know my new town.

I had five race-pace miles on my running schedule, and I initially thought I’d do an out and back along the main drive just to get a feel for the geography. But a little googling had told me there was a 5K race happening at the local high school this morning, so I decided to jog in that direction just in case. I got there — soaked to the bone, mind you — five minutes before the race was scheduled to start, and on an impulse, I registered. Besides, the money went to a good cause.

The turn-out was slim, as you’d expect on such a dreary day, but the energy was palpable among the crowd of neighbors. We lined up at the starting line, exchanged pleasantries about how we’d probably all look like prunes forever, and then we were off. The cross-country course, mostly on grass fields and paths, took us around the high school, around the middle school, and through the neighborhoods that I may eventually come to know well. With such a small field of runners, I spent part of my first mile in the elusive front position, but since I was struggling to find and follow the spray-painted arrows, I gladly relinquished top spot and instead followed on the heals of another runner who seemed to have at least an idea of where he was going.

We wove our way around the waterlogged course at a pretty modest clip, trying not to twist our ankles on the slippery leaves. I wasn’t pushing at my fastest pace, but I still noticed as I neared mile 3 that there wasn’t another female runner in sight. I’ve placed in local races before as first in my age group, but never as first female runner overall. As I rounded the final lap, I realized I was going to take home the gold. And by gold, I mean a stuffed lemur (did I mention it was a lemur themed race?) and a sweet engraved medal. I’ll take it!


Winner, winner, chicken dinner. (Why is that a thing people say? And where do I collect my chicken dinner?)

Now, there are hundreds of reasons to consider buying a getaway in a small town — escape the bustle of city life, get some fresh air, grow a garden, see the stars — but for all you runners out there, here’s another: win a race! I’m never the fastest runner in eight-million-strong New York City, but on a rainy day in Rhinebeck, N.Y., I just might be.

Readers, what’s your favorite way to explore a new place?






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Yes, All Women Runners

Heads up: this isn’t a blog post about puppies and daisies and fireflies and food. This is a blog post about how two of the characteristics that define me most – being a runner and being a woman – sometimes together mean that I feel extremely unsafe on my own city’s streets. If that’s too heavy for you, I recommend you click out to this link instead and spend the next 5 minutes reflecting on how bad my niece looks as a lion. Cause it’s about to get real.

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for some time, but today just felt like the right day. I can’t be sure, but mayyyybe it has something to do with someone on deck to possibly be the most powerful person in the world saying it’s OK to grab women’s bodies without their consent. Ah, the power of the live mic.

As a runner, I spend sometimes upwards of 10 hours a week on my own in New York City’s streets, often in the early hours before sunrise or as dusk settles after a full day of work. Since I’m usually running in the dark, I stay on the sidewalks, follow the traffic patterns, leave my music at home and always look both ways – even on one-way roads. So you could say I’m a pretty safe runner.

But I don’t always feel safe. That’s because every now and then, as I’m sweating up a storm during my much coveted solo time, I get harassed.

That harassment takes any number of forms. Sometimes it’s a leering old man yelling “Nice legs!” as I make my way up the Queensboro Bridge. Sometimes it’s a “Damn, girl. Wish you’d run to me that fast” as I cruise down the East River Promenade. Once (hey, I warned you I’m not sugarcoating this), it was a “Hey you! Come sit on my face!” from the driver’s seat of a white delivery van standing between my apartment and Central Park.

And that wasn’t even the worst one. The worst was when a well-dressed man on 1st Avenue reached out and groped me just two blocks from my building. I slipped away and sprinted home, but not before his hand made contact with my lower body. I hadn’t realized wearing spandex on a marathon training run meant I had given up the right to the physical privacy of my body. I guess I should read those clothing labels better.

Now, it’s not always so extreme. Sometimes it’s honking or whistling or crude gestures or catcalls, i.e. “locker room banter” that some defenders will say are meant as complements and I should take them as such. You know, since I’m getting older and at some point, the positive feedback on my appearance is going to stop coming my way.

Well, I call bullshit. Because if these were complements, I’d run past feeling uplifted and supported. But instead, these strangers’ behavior always has the same effect: it leaves my heart racing, my skin crawling and me in an immediate fight or flight mode when all I actually wanted was to exercise in peace. And all because I had the gall to participate in my favorite pastime as a solo woman.

So if you read this and are now unsure what is and isn’t OK to yell at women running by you, let me see if I can help explain where to draw the line.

  • Telling a runner heading over a bridge that there’s a big patch of black ice ahead? OK!
  • Telling a runner heading over a bridge that you wish you were her sportsbra? NOT OK!
  • Spectating a marathon and encouraging the entire crowd with athletic-related things like “Great pace!” OK!
  • Spectating a marathon and singling out one runner with physical-related things like “Great backside!” NOT OK!
  • Respectfully nodding, smiling and standing aside when a woman tries to run past you in a small space. OK!
  • Taking advantage of the narrowing sidewalk as an opportunity to reach out and touch said runner. NOT OK!

I realize for certain people (cough cough, Drumpf), the distinction of what is and isn’t off-limits still isn’t clear. So all I can say is this: When it isn’t, I encourage you to always err on the side of not creeping out a stranger who’s just trying to stay fit. The women runners of the world, including this one, thank you in advance.

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Whole 30: The Second Time Around

Lots of things in life get better the second time around: leftover Chinese food, running a 10K, Wed Anderson’s entire collection.

And here’s hoping for one more: Whole30.

That’s right, folks. Today I begin my second Whole30, or 30 straight days of clean eating. Or if you didn’t follow along the first time, that means 30 days sans gluten, sans dairy, sans legumes, and sans sugar (including, gasp, alcohol). Or, for those glass half-full readers, it means 30 days of plentiful veggies, fruits, high quality meats and fish, and all the avocados you could ever desire.

I did my first Whole30 in April when I found a year of wedding planning had me reaching for a chocolate escape nearly every work day. I was a pretty healthy eater overall, but mindless snacking and occasional binges left me feeling constantly full, bloated and not quite in control of my own habits. So I committed to 30 days of clean eating, and it was eye-opening: I realized how emotional my eating was and put an end to it, cooked some amazing dishes and (apologies in advance for sounding like an afternoon special from the 90s) realized that I don’t even need a glass of wine to enjoy a night out. Preach!

When my first Whole30 ended, I decided I was still going to eat Whole30-ish, but between summer travel and weddings and life, that started to slip by the wayside. And then at my cousin’s wedding this past weekend, I ate 14 fried clam cakes in the span of 36 hours and my aching belly decided it for me: It was time to get back on the Whole30 wagon.

And apparently I’m not alone. According to the founders of the program, 85 percent of people who do a Whole30 come back for more. They warn that one in four repeaters find it harder the second time, but that’s half-empty talk: that means a  whopping seventy five percent find it easier. And, my god, I hope I fall into the second category.

And I think I will. That’s because going into round 2, I already know what works for me and what doesn’t, making grocery shopping a breeze. In fact, last night, I roasted a chicken, made stock and cooked up a week’s worth of breakfasts, since I know from experience preparation is the name of the game here. I ate my clean food all day long, and I didn’t feel even the least bit deprived. Of course, it helps that my meals were so delicious and filling.

For breakfast, I ate a swiss-chard and onion frittata, plus compliant coffee and a peach.


For lunch, I had roast chicken and carrots that had been cooked in the drippings of the chicken itself. i.e. vegetable heaven.


For dinner, I made buttercup (that’s correct; not butternut) squash soup, and sprinkled it with roasted squash seeds and pomegranate.


And now it’s bedtime, and I feel full and satisfied and ready to take on 29 more days. I may eat my words in a week’s time, but I think this time around is going to be easier.

At least, it’s going to include more roast chicken.


Have any of you done a second Whole30? Any tips?


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A Most Violent Year

I was signed up for the Run10Feed10 10K race on the West Side Highway this morning, and if I’m completely honest, I knew as a crawled into bed at 8:30 p.m. there was already a slight chance I wouldn’t make it to the starting line.

There would have been lots of plausible excuses to justify skipping the event:

  1. The 7 a.m. race start on the far side of Manhattan meant I had to be up and ready to go by 5:30 a.m.
  2. The weather was forecast to be muggy and wet.
  3. My training schedule wanted me to run 8 miles so I was going to have to tack on two brutal extra post-race.
  4. My fiancé was at his bachelor party so I had the entire glorious bed to myself.

Dramatic re-enactment.

Still, the night before I pinned on my bib, laid out my race gear, charged my watch and tucked myself in at an ungodly early hour, prepared to rise with the sun (or an hour before it, no big deal) and complete a fun race with world-famous swag that I’ve been looking forward to for weeks.

I was up at 5 a.m. and, like the Millennial I am, checked social media before my feet even touched the ground. And that’s when I saw it: a friend had posted that she’d been a block from the explosion and was alerting everyone that she was ok.

My mind started racing. What explosion? What had happened in my city between the hours I stopped looking at my phone Saturday night to when I awoke to my alarm Sunday morning? In this terrible 2016 where bad things never seem to stop, what was it this time?

I quickly found out, as you all now know too, that it was a homemade bomb that detonated on Saturday night in western Manhattan, injuring 29 and fortunately killing no one. A second device was located and removed several blocks away. This came on the heels of a different explosion along a racecourse of a 5K charity event in New Jersey earlier that day. I realize it’s what the people who commit these acts of violence want, but I can’t lie: These three events together had me wondering if I should really be leaving the relative safety of my Queens apartment and heading toward the direction of the previous night’s horror. It was only 5:30 in the morning, but I was already spooked. Terror, 1; Anne, 0.

I nervously messaged a runner friend who was racing the much more impressive Marathon Tune-Up in Central Park that morning, and she said she wasn’t backing out. In fact, the New York Road Runners, who put on that grueling 18-mile event, had already put a notice on their website overnight announcing the race was still on and that security would be on high alert. As much as I lambaste the Road Runners for their crowded race courses, they certainly know how to calm their runners’ nerves in challenging times.

But I wasn’t running that race. I was running a race put on by … Macy’s and Women’s Health magazine? And my event’s organizers didn’t feel the need to reach out to participants to let them know if the previous night’s events – which transpired just a neighborhood away from the race start – meant anything had changed. Like was the race still on? Were they canceling bag check? Were trains and buses to the starting line still operating? Would there still be powerbars at the finish line or had the terrorists ruined snack time, too?

I went to the Run10Feed10 website – and found nothing. I checked to see if they’d e-mailed race participants – and saw nothing. I took my questions to Twitter – nothing.

At this point, it wasn’t so much fear of further acts of violence so much as fear that I’d travel all the way to Pier 84 to find out the race had been delayed or postponed and no one bothered telling me. I didn’t need coddling post-explosion but I needed information, and I didn’t feel like the race organizers were giving it. So I did something I’ve only done once before – I untied my running shoes and crawled back into bed. In today’s race, I wasn’t even a DNF. I was a DNS. #shame

When I awoke again at 8 a.m., I saw that the race had, in fact, gone off without a hitch, and later saw the organizers did finally announce on Twitter 39 minutes before the starting gun that the race was still on – thought that wouldn’t have been enough time for me or hundreds of other Long Island runners to make it in. Hear, hear, Jess PhD!


So instead of vying for a new PR today, I slept in, made some coffee, ate breakfast, and turned on the news: where I immediately encountered a former FBI agent telling New Yorkers the best way they could respond to the explosion was to keep living their lives: whether that’s going to a movie, walking the dog or going for a run. Alright, TV man, I said: I won’t hide out here all day.

So I laced back up – number and all – and went out for my 8 miles.


And they were glorious, humidity and all. You know why? Because this city is glorious, and its running paths are glorious, and its water fountains are glorious and its resilience is glorious. I may not have made it to my 10K race today, but not because I’m giving in. We New Yorkers never give in.

How did you celebrate NYC this morning?


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Digging Deep: How to Use Up Ten Million Carrots

Summer 2014 brought a lot of new things. Ben and I moved in together. A pope visited Asia for the first time in 25 years. My poor niece was forced to take the Ice Bucket Challenge against her will. 

But that summer also opened my eyes to something significant culinarily: the brilliance of the carrot.

Growing up in the suburban 1980s, carrots were a vegetable only served steamed with a dollop of butter and dill or as part of a frozen vegetable medley, often still frozen. Then baby carrots came onto the scene in the early 90s, and carrots had another avenue into my mouth: doused in Hidden Valley Ranch. Throw in the occasional carrot cake for my dad’s birthday, and those were literally the only ways I ever consumed carrots from 1985-2014.

But then in summer 2014, I experienced something glorious. While dining out at Bobby Flay’s Spanish restaurant Gato with a visiting friend, I ordered the charred carrots in a bold piquillo pesto, and my relationship with the orangest root vegetable was transformed. 

I realized that for all those years, I had been eating carrots wrong. They weren’t best experienced as a token raw crunch or as an obligatory floating mass in a chicken noodle soup — they were made to be roasted. And so I started roasting them, and in mass quantities. I experimented with a lot of combinations, but my favorite was an homage to ol’ Bobby himself: tossed in olive oil and sea salt, roasted at a high temp until nearly blackened, tossed with pesto and adorned with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Pure bliss. 

In the two years since, I’ve upped my carrot intake exponentially and was always excited to open my CSA to find a handful of them… That is, until they stared arriving in the bucketful. I pride myself in being able to finish a whole CSA delivery in its entirely before the next one arrives, but this past week, I failed miserably — at it was all the carrots’ fault. 

Seriously. So. Many. Carrots. I almost asked Ben to take an American Beauty-style photo of me covered in strategically-placed carrots, but I realized that might be weird. So here they are laid out on my kitchen table instead. You know you still like them, Kevin Spacey.

I tried my old tricks — roasting, eating them raw — but there were just too many. So I had to get creative. 

First, I folded them into mac and cheese via this recipe for a dish that I found satisfying but that Ben said could have done without the carrots. Fair enough. 

Then I puréed them into soup, following this recipe but adding a whole can of coconut milk and significantly more hot sauce. I also used unsalted almond butter instead of peanut butter, which may have been a big mistake considering how much I had to season it after. Still, turned out pretty decent. 

But after all that, I still find myself with an ungodly number of carrots left. How, carrots, HOW?!

I stumbled across this gluten-free carrot flatbread recipe in a Cooking Light last night, but there’s no way fake bread actually tastes good, right? Any other ideas for mass carrot usage? Or should I just use this as an excuse to make a carrot cake? Dessert: the delicious solution. 

I’m open to suggestions here folks! Unless you’re Facebook, in which case your suggestions are terrible. Just take a look at the slideshow they tried to make me create and post on Sunday morning. 

An epic carrot night out indeed. Great insight, Facebook. 

What would you make?

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Wedding Planning’s the New Marathon

Whenever I catch up with friends and family this year, I’m asked one of the following questions:

  • How is wedding planning going?
  • Are you and Ben liking the new Queens apartment?
  • Why did your dog move to Hawaii without you?

The Big Reveal: She’s not my dog.

And then there’s the follow-up question everyone who reads this blog inevitably asks next: Will you be running a marathon this year?

My standard response, while a bit canned, has gone a little something like this: “I’m planning a wedding this fall. THAT’s my marathon this year!”

I started saying it as a joke, but the closer I get to the big day, the clearer it becomes that this response is dripping with truth.

In fact, wedding planning and marathon training have an awful lot in common, from the frustrations and pitfalls to the anticipation and excitement. So without further ado, here’s my list of how planning to run 26.2 miles is a heck of a lot like planning to marry your better half.

Planning ahead is key. Show up at the starting line without having trained and you’ll have a miserable eight-hour slog ahead of you. Show up at your wedding day unprepared and you may be toasting with Starbucks lattes instead of the champagne you forgot to order. Both marathon training and wedding planning go much smoother when you’re organized and ready. For both events, put the big date on your calendar and work backwards to set achievable milestones (like racing a half or booking a DJ).

Oh, the gear you’ll buy. I didn’t think I would buy into the consumerism portion of wedding planning… and then I saw a “shed for the wed” workout shirt and I caved. And — I’m ashamed to admit — it’s not even the only bride-inspired piece of clothing I own. Likewise, just try to walk through a marathon expo without purchasing some new gear you don’t need. That’s why I’m going to someday name my autobiography “Too Many Tank-Tops: The RiledUpRunner Story.”

You may want to tweak your diet. Runners need to up their carbs substantially in the weeks leading up to the big day. Brides and grooms may find themselves doing the opposite. While some versions of wedding weight-loss are unhealthy and dangerous, wanting to clean up your diet in the months before your wedding can have a great impact on your complexion, your sleep and your mood. I’m even considering a return to Whole30 for the final weeks, since it left me with so much energy… though only if I can make an exception for non-paleo bachelorette-party wine. #nonnegotiable

You’ll find yourself talking about it all the time. You’ve heard Ben’s joke before: “How do you know someone is running a marathon? They tell you!” Even if you try to talk about other things, a runner’s upcoming race always seems to sneak back into the conversation. Same thing with wedding planning. I don’t TRY to talk about it all the time, but since it’s consuming so much of my time, it can’t help but find its way back to the forefront. After November, I’ll know about current events again, I swear.


Right now, I know mostly about bridal showers.

But while marathon training and wedding planning have a lot in common, they’re different in one key way. They say for marathoning, the 16-weeks of training is the real achievement and the race itself is just the victory lap. But while a race ends the second you cross that finish line, the wedding isn’t a conclusion: it’s a beginning. Instead of putting your feet up and retiring your shoes for the winter like you do after a race, a wedding means the beginning of a marriage, and that’s where I’m told the real work/fun begins.

And I can’t wait to find that out for myself. Seventy days!

But who’s counting?




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Pop Physique aka Pain Incarnate: A Review

What weighs more: a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks?

Trick question. They weigh the same. But you know what weighs a million times more? The one-pound weights at Pop Physique. Don’t be fooled by appearances: these itty bitty hand weights are somehow the heaviest thing you’ll ever touch.


Are my hands enormous or is this weight too small? Maybe both. Maybe both is happening at the same time. -Forrest Gump

I took my first Pop Physique class two weeks ago (why yes, I DID have a free promo code. How’d you guess?), and when I spotted these little purple barbells, I nearly laughed out loud. In BodyPump class, I pack on additional tonnage in five and ten pound increments. When I saw these baby things, I couldn’t help but channel my inner Derek Zoolander: “What is this? A workout class for ants?”

Oh, how could I have been so wrong?

Pop Physique, a ballet-inspired stretching and strengthening routine, does what barre classes do best: focus on tiny, nearly imperceptible movements that somehow make your muscles hurt so bad the next day you can’t sneeze without wincing. The idea of using one-pound weights to tone your upper arms may sound futile, but pulse along with the instructor for all the reps and you’ll be crying for your mommy. It’s tougher than it sounds.


But do I?

Don’t believe me? Believe this: Since there are no clocks in the studio, I literally spent 95 percent of my first class stealing glances at my mat neighbor’s wrist watch every time we went into downward dog just to get an estimate of how many more minutes of squatting and pliéing torture lie ahead.

Wait a second. Did I just describe a workout as torture, and then casually throw in the fact that I did something during my “first class,” thereby signifying I actually went back for more? Good sleuthing, you. Because that’s exactly what I did.

Yes, this class is insanely hard, and I found myself collapsing to the floor after too many planks and shaking uncontrollably after so many leg raises that never. seem. to. end. But I also finished the class feeling like I’d reversed several miles of running damage by stretching my hamstrings and hips deeper than I’d ever do on my own.

So after my first (free) class, I did something nearly unthinkable for me: I signed up for 10 more. Of course, I got the 10-class pack on Gilt with a coupon, because that’s my style, but I still shelled over my credit card number for a workout. That’s rare for me, and a testament maybe to just how good this class made me feel — once I was done, that is. Because mid-class, I can assure you there were no smiles of this magnitude:


I have nine more classes to take between now and my November wedding. I’m taking bets: Will one-pound weights be enough to bring out my inner Michelle Obama arms? Time will tell. Time, and my daily shortbread intake.

Any other runners find relief at the barre? Not to be confused with the bar, where my friends and I of course went after.


Recovery sports drink

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